I’m really not looking forward to watching this one. The Slammys are pretty much the worst episode possible, at the worst time possible. You have a PPV coming up that has no build of note and the go-home show is going to be devoted at least in part to the worst awards this side of the Tonys (not the Broadway awards, the awards given out to the best Tony Danza impersonators of the year). I never knew that it was such a thriving industry until I took that trip to Branson.

Thinking about watching three hours of this show has me depressed already, so I’m going to have to counter that. You might not know this, but wrestling isn’t the only thing I’ve written about over the years. I’ve been a food blogger and written for various sites over the years. I believe I might be the country’s most adept pro wrestling/fine dining critic. Last night, instead of sitting home watching ROH’s show or old NWA PPVs on the Network, the wife (who has officially retired from watching Raw) and I went out for a very quality dinner that I’m still thinking about 24 hours later. So here’s how we’re going to get through this together. Whenever this show gets too damn depressing to think about any longer, we’re going to jump in the Wayback Machine to last night and talk about a dish from last night that made me happy from head-to-toe. If this show turns out awesome, you’ll never hear about my dinner, the show will rock, and we’ll enjoy wrestling. If the show sucks… I hope you like seafood. And beef.

Monday Night Raw
December 8, 2014

Nothing gets me excited for the show like the thought of John Cena vs. Big Show. I wonder if Cena can give the AA to Show. It would sure be a shocker if he did.

This really is the sort of role Lawler should be in these days. Hit the Mussorgsky, let him come out and soak in the Jerry chants, make a couple awful jokes, and move along.

Seth Green is 40. Let that soak in for a moment. Seth Green was born in 1974. Richard Nixon was President when Seth Green was born. The number one song in the US when he was born was “The Way We Were” by Barbra Streisand. I mention all of this for one very important reason. I hate him for looking so young when I’m three years younger and I’m often mistaken for guys who fought in the Spanish-American War.

The best part of the show has arrived, and he brought Miz with him. The pop when Mizdow came bouncing out onto the stage will likely not be topped tonight.

Damien Mizdow is taking some creative liberties with his portrayal. This sort of thing can only lead to dissension. And I’m not at all ready for this to happen. I need Mizdow to keep being a thing that I can rely on to give me a little bit of joy in this show. So much of the show is the morning commute. We get on the train, we sit there trying to pass the time, make the same stops every ride and always end up at the same place in the end. Every once in a while a Mizdow or a Stardust or god help me a Stephanie McMahon is riding alongside the train on a Harley or a penny farthing bike or a unicycle playing accordion music. I’ll leave it as an exercise for you to decide who is riding which thing. They make the commute awesome for a minute. They’re not taking the same unending commute to John Cena overcoming odds and evil bosses being evil because that’s what they are supposed to be doing this week.

Also Bray Wyatt and Dean Ambrose are riding around on a goddamned Pegasus that farts rainbows. Dean is braiding Bray’s beard.

Who’s the goat faced midget with the folks in the ring? He seems like the sort of guy I wish I could watch on this show.

This whole segment is reminding of how lacking everyone on the show each week is. Thanks for making me think about Steve Austin, The Rock, Sting, Daniel Bryan and then giving me John Cena vs. Big Show. Again. For what according to Cagematch.net is the 158th time. This seriously has to be some sort of violation of the Geneva Convention. Or the Ten Commandments. Maybe Robert’s Rules of Order.

Dolph Ziggler vs. Seth Rollins: Did I hear right that Ziggler put his foot in his mouth on Twitter again? I really hope not. Someone needs to give him a flip phone.

Enjoying the mini-story in the match of Rollins doing his damndest to avoid the superkick from Ziggler. Nice callback to Survivor Series and acknowledgement of the situation with Mercury and Noble at ringside. Almost anything else he can deal with knowing that they will be able to get his back or get the ref or do whatever they need to do. But that superkick is such a flash finish that Ziggler could get a pinfall win off of that one move before anyone can get in to save him. So he avoids that move at all costs. Anything else there’s an out. The superkick is instant death. Rollins is trying to win, but knows the important thing is not to lose.

The three idiots are really grating on me fast here. They’re reaching Schiavonian levels of talking about everything but the match happening in the ring. Sting, The Authority, The Slammys, Survivor Series, The Titanic. Everything but the two dudes busting their asses in the ring. We’d hate to call too much attention to that. All we need is a split screen to a limo pulling up and me not yet knowing the touch of a woman and it could be 1996 all over again. TOO SWEET~!

The ending plays out pretty much as I was saying. Ziggler tried something that took too long and the goons were able to divide and conquer. Fits with Ziggler’s character of act first, think much later. He just wants to jump on you and make you fall down and jump off ropes and oooh a shiny! Ziggler is a prescription of Adderall away from being WWE champion.

I was going to complain about JBL mentioning the result being in a record book as ridiculous, then I remembered I just linked to the record book a couple of paragraphs ago. I’ll let this one slide JBL.

This segment was entertaining enough that I do not need to speak of my dinner. Winner: Seth Rollins, James Gibson, Joey Mercury

I give Seth Green credit. He is doing his damndest to make it seem like this matters.

“Back up kid!” says the 28 year old to the 40 year old. In fact, Seth Green is the oldest guy on the stage during this.

The crowd not happy about Sting not being there. Get used to it folks. Sting is really good at not being on the show. It’s kind of his specialty. Hell, the best drawing run of his life was him not being there. That’s why he never gets close to the Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame.

In a world where we see protests each week about the deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of police officers it is so nice to see Vince McMahon is ready to respond by giving up a bright and lively group of young black men who reinforce a shedload of stereotypes to keep white people happy and comfortable.

Kofi Kingston vs. Stardust: HOW COULD YOU DEPRIVE ME OF STARDUST’S ENTRANCE?! YOU MONSTERS!!!!! Kofi Kingston wrestles the exact same match he wrestled as a Jamaican, as a Ghanaian, and now as a time traveler from 1948.

One of the first bites of our evening on Sunday was a butterfish tataki with white asparagus and yuzu. Eating butterfish is like going out and having a few too many drinks. It feels great so much so you wish you could bottle that feeling up and keep it with you to sip from during all those bland workdays and boring nights in front of the TV. But you know while you’re taking another shot of whiskey or bringing the chopsticks up to your lips that you will suffer for this. Butterfish/escolar/super white tuna is one of the most decadent pieces of fish you can eat. It is fatty and buttery and with just the slightest bite it immediately gives way and lets you enjoy the flavors and the gentle texture. Paired with the crunch and earthiness of a small cylindrical piece of white asparagus and a drop of yuzu gelee bringing a touch of acidity and citrus to the unctuousness of the butterfish gave the dish a wonderful balance. But here’s the catch. Due to the fish’s inability to digest certain waxy substances in their diet, these remain in the flesh. For many people, eating this fish causes keriorrhea. Or to put it another way, There Will Be Poop. But I don’t give a damn. It’s worth visiting the men’s room an extra time or two for the next 24 hours. Just like it was back in my drinking days, I’ll take the pain the next morning for the joy tonight. And that bite was pure joy.

Kofi Kingston won. Dancing and rag waving commenced. Winner: Kofi Kingston Loser: Racial Progress

Raw could tell I was getting a bit down so they brought out Big Johnny wearing a bow tie. He needs his Rascal scooter for maximum effect but I’ll take what I can get.

Surprise Return of the Year should go to Big Johnny. Unless when we return from listing the nominees the Mean Street Posse is standing on stage. Damn. No Mean Street Posse. I would also accept Gangrel.

Good night for the Blade Runners. Bad night for WWE who is now two for two in having Slammy winners who are not in attendance.

Paul Heyman is manipulative even when he’s convincing people to do the thing they were going to do in the first place. I don’t know he does it. He makes people feel tricked into doing what they want to do. Messing with Seth’s head just for the hell of it.

Hey it’s Charlotte! Nice video package there for her. Sadly I doubt this match gets the kind of time that she and Natalya had last time they met.

Charlotte vs. Natalya (w/Tyson Kidd): When I first heard Ric Flair’s kid was going to get into pro wrestling I thought it was a terrible sounding idea. The desperate act of a woman unsure of what to do taking advantage of her father’s legacy.

Nice match, not sure you don’t want to put Charlotte over there, but still good exposure. The crowd was getting into it. Amazing what can happen when you present two wrestlers as competent and worth watching, no matter how they happen to pee. Now give them a storyline not involving “boyfriend”, “crazy”, “slut” or “pretty”, 15 minutes on PPV and maybe you might accidentally get someone over. Winner: Natalya

As a lapsed Catholic, the idea of Confession still holds a certain importance to me. So I must confess now — I love Santino. The guy is one of those people who make me laugh every time I see him on screen. I still think they should have let him win the Royal Rumble the year that Del Rio won it. Santino opening up Mania would have been an epic moment. The pop would have created a seismic disturbance, like Mulkeymania x 1000.

Each time they show clips of the Wyatt Family I now can only think of how Rowan was obviously handling logistics for everything. I’m sure at his vineyard he had to bring in entertainment all the time for parties and events. No skin of his back to make a few phone calls and bring in a children’s choir with sheep masks to try and creep out John Cena. Nothing compared to trying to deal with grey rot hitting his vines when he was just about to make a subtle and wonderful Pinot Noir.

Three for three in winners who are not here tonight.

I was really hoping for a moment there that somehow this was Bray Wyatt getting involved with Lesnar. But it is not to be. There are still too many unsaid feelings between Bray and Dean. They have yet to find the way to punch through the walls around each other’s hearts. Only in pain inflicted on the other can they be pure in a corrupted world. Fists and lips are part of the same exalted flesh.

Dean had to destroy Bray’s chair. Like making your loved one get rid of that box of old love letters from their college sweetheart. The kind of love between these two is selfish and grasping. You cannot share the whole of your world with someone else any more than you could let another person see through your eyes. Sister Abigail must be consigned to the swampy memories of Bray Wyatt in order for him to be cleansed. They must be baptized in each other’s bloods, born anew in the violence that only flows from a wellspring of love.

Dean gets to play with a vehicle. That’s always a sign you’re considered important in WWE. Also all funning aside, Dean beat the everloving hell out of Bray in this segment. I feel like there’s a good chance Ambrose gets fined by Vince for something he does this Sunday.

Jerry Lawler presenting the Diva of the Year award. Next I assume that Michael Vick will be giving out the dog owner of the year trophy.

Nice to see these four people who hate each other just hanging out backstage together. I’d hate to think any of them have real issues with each other.

AJ Lee wins the award. As a long-time MMA fan, a long-time CM Punk fan and someone who has a word count to get to, let’s talk about this whole Punk to UFC thing. Punk being involved with the organization is great for all sides. I would have absolutely loved to see him enter the company in a talking head role. He knows how to sell a match, get a story across, and make people care about the participants in a feud. Punk working preshows or interviews or even being a color man would have been awesome.

But of course that’s not what we’re dealing with. CM Punk says he is going to fight in the Octagon. I’ve seen enough Pride and K-1 and IGF cards to be long past the point of complaining about the purity of MMA being violated. I’ve seen James Toney, Kimbo Slice, and Fred Ettish on UFC cards. I know UFC is a business that sometimes finds itself in a position where it makes more sense to make bad fights than good ones. But this is a disaster in the making.

I remember reading Tapped Out by Matthew Polly. As a younger man he spent two years living in China learning kung fu from the Shaolin monks. After a long time away he decided to learn MMA. This guy had some of the best coaches in the world, guys who worked with GSP, Couture and Fedor. He trained for two years including a six month fight camp. And the culmination was having a fight at an unsanctioned fight club. Not World Series of Fighting or King of the Cage or Bellator. Especially not UFC. His entire life for two years led up to a fight that would never be seen on tv or reviewed by Dave Meltzer.

I wish Punk luck. I’m glad for him that he is getting a chance to do something he really seems to want to do. I like the guy and nothing would make me happier than for him to turn out to be a BJJ savant and tap guys out like a young Sakuraba. But as a betting man, I would not want to be laying money down on that even at the longest of odds. Good luck Punk. As the chant goes, “Please Don’t Die!”

I want Bayley to be Diva of the Year next year.

John Cena is talking. Because I had to work today I decided not to have any booze with dinner. Instead I had a really interesting non-alcoholic drink. Combination of Blood Orange Bitters, White Peach Infused Agave, Orange and Lime. The combination was so bright and sweet, but never cloying. The lime gave it that sharp note cutting through the agave, and the two different orange flavors complemented each other without ever overpowering each other.

Erick Rowan vs. Luke Harper: Erick Rowan’s music makes so much more sense now. He obviously composed and performed it himself. I bet he has a studio in a swamp that is acoustically perfect.

Hey, why not have the first Rowan vs. Harper meeting unannounced in the middle of the second hour of Raw? We’d hate to promote such a thing. People might get the horribly mistaken impression that anything other than Cena matters on this show.

I hope the Stairs match on Sunday is actually just “winner is the first person to climb the ring steps” rules.

I bet it was Rowan who got Harper into the anime that inspired him to make his new ring vest. Bray Wyatt may not be much of a cult leader, but apparently he runs an excellent arts and crafts program down in the Bayou.

I really wish they would give me something, anything to cling to as to why Rowan and Harper suddenly have such animosity. I’m not asking for much. Tell me Rowan is a firm believer in screw top wine bottles and Harper demands corks. Tell me Big Red was playing his guitar while Harper tried to sleep. Anything. I can’t keep filling in all the damn blanks for you WWE. You have to give me something to work with. Winner: I honestly don’t even know.

Naomi and the Usos are having a moment. And then the conversation turns to the Miz and agents and Hollywood. In most cases this is where I would have no qualms about turning into a SJB and calling out this whole angle for being a case where a guy gets nervous at even the slightest lack of control over his woman’s life. But in this case, not so much. Naomi is at horror-movie victim levels of dumb in this whole thing and Jey sees right through it. This isn’t a case of Jey Uso refusing to give his wife space to live her own life. This is him seeing her walking into a bear trap and trying to pull her away from it.

I hope Vickie Guerrero is enjoying her life away from WWE. Her run is really one of the most amazing things in wrestling history. To come in out of the tragic death of Eddie Guerrero, turn her sympathetic character into the most molten hot heel in the company, keep that heat for years, help legitimize Edge and Ziggler… ¡Buena suerte Vickie!

“You want Miz now? You got Miz now!” If you aren’t enjoying Miz’s heel work right now you are dead inside. He’s gotten Damien Sandow over as a face for the first time in Sandow’s career.

Having Lana criticizing Obama in South Carolina may cause some heads to explode. Trying to decide whether to boo a dirty foreigner or Obummer is a veritable Sophie’s Choice for a chunk of this crowd. If they really wanted to get heat they would have shown Obama and Putin hanging out together.

At least this feud finally has Rusev doing something evil, not just being Russian and really good. He sneak attacked an old man, a veteran, and broke his leg. That’s the kind of thing that is worth booing, not refusing to pledge allegiance to another country that openly despises you.

They brought back John Cena’s poetry corner! I was afraid it was lost and gone forever. What can our favorite Fruity Pebble read this week? He has a busy schedule. He could use some contemplation. He would sit up late at night, reading by a single light, whispering the words of Basho’s Narrow Road to the Deep North to himself while Nikki Bella sleeps. John would see himself walking over fields, anonymous and alone. He would still be wearing only the loudest of colors.

Usos and Ryback vs. Kane and Mizdow: Before they introduced Mizdow I was about ready to start talking about the sashimi platter I had Sunday night. I expect to get to that shortly every time that Mizdow is not in the ring.

I do love the small touches that Ryback puts into his performance. Even though he is a face he is dismissive of anyone who is not Ryback. He can’t fathom how anyone could be dumb enough to face him, and lets them know how stupid they are for doing so.

Seth Green has been brought to silence by the utter idiocy of these announcers. This guy produces a show where toys say dirty things to each other. But talking to them put him into a momentary brainlock.

Mizdow is taking all the bumps. He has gone so deep into method acting that he could hang out with Daniel Day-Lewis. The two of them could go learn butchery together. I bet Erick Rowan knows something about that. Wine and charcuterie go together quite well. While the announcers are killing Green, even he seems to be genuinely enjoying watching Mizdow’s lunacy.

Kane did not really do much to catch whichever flying Uso that was. Winners: Ryback/Usos

Young Martha Quinn! Just looked at her Twitter. She’s aging almost as well as Seth Green.

Seeing Daniel Bryan as WM 30 just makes me unutterably sad. Sad in the way videos of Bo Jackson or Gale Sayers make me sad. To be robbed of that kind of talent just as it is reaching its crescendo hurts like hell. To know it happened to a man who no one says is anything but an even better person than pro wrestler makes it all the harder to watch.

Two out of five Slammy winners there to accept the award. It’s like a Veteran’s Committee induction class into the Baseball HOF.

Nice speech by Ziggler. Good to see the contrast of someone speaking like a human being instead of Cenaramble or HHHproclamation. Pro wrestlers really need to quit talking like pro wrestlers so much.

AJ Lee vs. Summer Rae: One of the things that drives me nuts about these short matches is the way they are often laid out, regardless of gender, to involve way too many ground holds and fighting from underneath. If you’re going to be given four minutes then get your sprint shoes on and make it something worth watching.

Summer Rae showed some personality there. Hopefully they can actually let that grow. Winner: AJ Lee

RVD in a tux is really next year’s OMG award winner. 96% chance it is all made of hemp.

I don’t know that I’ve been so happy with a match as much as I was with Cena/Lesnar at Summerslam. It just made me smile watching Cena getting destroyed like that.

Chris Jericho wins a Slammy. Four of six winners not appearing.

There may never have been a couple that is less suited to speak in public ever than Fandango and Rosa Mendes. I’d rather listen to Seth Rollins and Davey Richards each take three hours to tell me about the combined works of Proust than hear either of them ever speak again.

Big Show keeps making very valid points. WWE fans are pretty damn awful people. They dole out forgiveness with the capricious nature of spoiled children. They have no standards they abide by in deciding who to bring back into their good graces. The WWE Universe is a cold unfeeling place, and it seems to be ruled solely by random chance.

I will never be unhappy to see Chris Jericho on Raw.

I know that they gave Reigns the Shield music as a way of conferring the golden boy status on him as part of the breakup. But the music hasn’t been heard for months, Ambrose and Rollins have similar music. I think it might be about time to give him a new theme that moves him past being a former member of a group.

John Cena vs. Big Show: This show must not have been that bad, I’ve only gotten through two dishes. But now that John Cena has arrived we can circle back to this topic I suspect.

I’ve been very lucky in my life to have tried damn near everything I wanted to try when it comes to food. But there are still a handful of things on the foodie bucket list. One of these things was true, imported Japanese A-5 Wagyu beef. That was the reason I chose this restaurant, and why I made sure to give my credit card an ice pack because it was going to get hit mighty hard.

The best way to judge a thing is to have something to compare it to. As the last entree course of our meal we were given a piece of American Wagyu beef, thinly sliced into many pieces, with a series of different salts. The citrus salt and the truffle salts were my favorites with the beef. I ate a piece of the American Wagyu and had to close my eyes to let my senses concentrate on the flavor. Tender meat, a little bit of bite to it, and a strong meaty flavor with a hint of char. A wonderful piece of meat that any self-respecting carnivore would be ecstatic to eat.

Then I took my chopsticks over to the other presentation board. There four ounces of Japanese Wagyu ribeye had been quickly brought to medium rare, sliced even more thinly, and fanned out in a display of meat artistry. It was a thing of beauty. My eyes began to water knowing I was ready to try something I had never tried before, something I might possibly never taste again.

The beef was so incredibly marbled, the fat having melted just a little into the beef so that the texture was softer. It yielded instantly and began to dissolve on my tongue. There was so much flavor assaulting my taste buds that I couldn’t believe I had eaten such a small piece of the meat. Surely I had to have filled my mouth to the point where my cheeks were puffed like a chipmunk’s after a quality hoarding session. But no, it was a piece that couldn’t have weighed more than a fifth of an ounce, bringing me to that euphoric state. I’ve never had a runner’s high but I’m pretty sure I had an eater’s high. There are a handful of bites that I will remember all my days.That handful increased by one on Sunday night.

Oh yeah John Cena succeeded in AA’ing Big Show, then a schmozz happened, the name “Big Red” was invoked, and everyone involved in TLC got involved. Except Wyatt and Ambrose. Their business is carnal and private and not to be sullied by such foolishness as selling the PPV. Winner: John Cena

I’m willing to admit when I’m wrong. I figured you would hear about damn near everything I ate on Sunday. I don’t know if this show is making me insane, if I have Stockholm Syndrome, or if the show wasn’t actually that bad. Any answer sounds plausible right now.

Thanks for reading. Please if you like this share it anywhere you can. Reddit, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Friendster, Xanga, Prodigy, you name it. If you want to tell me I talk too much hit me on Twitter at @spiffie6123 I only get 140 characters there so I have to keep it concise and get to the point. If you’re in Chicago and need a restaurant rec, comment on this review or tweet me and I can point you in the right direction. See you at the TLC Preview later this week.