I suppose after watching the John Cena master class in thespianic studies last week I had to come back and see what happens. Maybe he’ll volunteer to sacrifice his career for the good of his friends who he put in such a bind. Maybe he’ll make a deal with the devil to help Seth Rollins win the title. Or maybe he’ll come out and do exactly the same thing he does every week, only this time with 4.7 percent more Serious Voice.

Does it matter? I suspect at least some of you are like me, and watching for the tiny things that keep making the show less worth hating. Waiting for those instants where someone unexpected gets your attention. Like Mankind winning the WWE title, the Mulkeys winning a Crockett Cup match or Titus O’Neal becoming Pancake Patterson. So tonight we’re going to celebrate those one-off or minor characters who entertain me. From the utterly ridiculous to the chillingly intense, we gots enough background characters and barely there cameos to make your Aunt Sally forget about your Uncle Sal. So let’s get on with it! 

Monday Night RAW
January 12, 2015
New Orleans

John Cena Promo: Well, John sure looks shaken up about three of his “friends” being fired last week. He was barely able to get in the plug for his John Cena dishtowel.

John Cena wants to make sure we all know it is okay to party and have fun and be crazy. The sorrow is radiating off of him.

So far John has leeched off of Ziggler and Bryan’s heat. And his master plan is apparently to get a hashtag trending. He really has thought this through I guess. No flaws in this plan at all. Oh wait, now his plan is to take the title home. The only way this plan could get any better is if he ends it with a land invasion of Russia in winter. I’ve heard better ideas that are prefaced by “Hey now, hold my beer and watch this!”

I really do want to get invested in this. I want to believe this could change something because damn it all this should be the sort of thing that totally changes a character.

And now the “evil lumberjacks” trope. Why do I bother? It’s like HHH heard Cena’s terrible plan and decided to come up with an even worse idea. His was “hold my beer and hand me that shotgun!”

In honor of John Cena’s complete and total disregard for everyone but him, we shall celebrate Lord Flashheart from the classic BBC series Blackadder. The bombastic lunatic full of virile gumption who would drop in once per time period to mess with Blackadder. He cared about nothing but his own genitals, and loved to talk very loudly. If you substitute junk for merchandise he might actually be John Cena. 

Seth Rollins vs. John Cena: I feel that it is important to point out that the TV movies made clear that the castaways did get off of Gilligan’s Island, despite Booker’s insistence to the contrary. 

It tells you something about how little anyone believes these stipulations when even though Cena needs to win for the crowd to get Ryback and Ziggler back he still gets a tepid dueling chant. If anyone actually bought this you might have a mostly pro-Cena crowd. 

I like to assume that RAW decides to go to commercial when guys go out to the floor. Kevin Dunn is frantically yelling to cut to break as Rollins gets to his feet. 

Momentum built. Separation created soon.

Wouldn’t it just make more sense for a lumberjack to walk in the ring and punch Rollins, get Cena DQ’d and call it a night? Instead of letting an apparently unbiased ref make a fair count on Rollins in the middle of the ring? The bWo was a better evil force.

Okay, maybe the ref isn’t totally unbiased. Or are there any actual rules in a lumberjack match? Does any of this make any sense? 

That was quite the Rube Goldbergian way of getting to this point. Blofeld just sent HHH a text saying “stick the winner.”  I mean a text saying “maybe you’re overcomplicating things.”

It took 35 minutes to get to the same place we started. But the journey sure was…journey-ish. Winner: Seth Rollins

Dean Ambrose is now in therapy. The last time there was mental health treatment involved, we ended up with Daniel Bryan and Kane hugging it out. Let us hope for the best.

I would also settle for Dean being hypnotized into thinking he is someone from the mid 90’s. Maybe Freddie Joe Floyd. Or P.N. Newz. Having awful rap music start to play as Dean is about to hit the elbow from the top would be the utter and complete bestest thing they could do. Or make him Johnny B. Badd, complete with Badd Blaster. Actually, I think Dean would get into that one.

Cesaro/Tyson Kidd vs. Kofi Kingston/Xavier Woods: The giant swing into the dropkick is a beautiful thing. Adam Rose being down at ringside is not.

Also Booker T pointing out how nothing has changed with the New Day members other than getting matching tights works for me. He might not have been quite as pointed about it as me, but close. 

Every tag team should have some double team moves. Nothing gives you more of a team identity than having moves that cannot be done on your own.

You know who else loved to dance as much as The New Day? Bea Arthur. But only when she could find a perfect dance partner, and the perfect song was playing. Sometimes you have to find a small, very odd little boy, and have the sounds of ABBA floating about in the summer air in order to make your feet move and your heart groove. Thanks to Bea’s character dancing with Dewey on Malcolm in the Middle I will never hear “Fernando” the same way again. Also, I bet organizing buttons with Dorothy Zbornak would be a hoot. 

Winner: New Day

Paige doing the Macho Man impression was adorable. I don’t buy for a second that Daniel Bryan doesn’t have a quality Macho Man in his bag of tricks. 

Speaking of adorable, the shortest appearance of all on this list meets that exacting standard as well. There are good people and bad people in this world. Good people recognize the genius of the movie Clue. Bad people do not. Good people will have the song for this clip pop into their head without ever needing to hit play. If you’re not a good person, there’s still time to change. Time to love the Singing Telegram Girl.

Big Show Promo: On his first night at his job Big Show drove a monster truck, fell into a river, and had a fish in his tights. You could make a reasonable case that it has all been downhill from there. 

Big Show said “by proxy” and that makes me happy.

You know what the Big Show is? He’s big! You know who else is big? O-Town’s greatest superhero, with magic chest hair and Nipples of the Future! It’s Really Really Big Man from Rocko’s Modern Life. A hero who is totally willing to destroy half the town to help old friends see the error of their ways. Just don’t be unlucky around him and cause the nipples to malfunction. Sadly, there were no good Youtube vids of RRBM, but here’s a link to an excellent clip from TeenNick: http://www.teennick.com/videos/clip/rockos-modern-life-really-really-big-man-clip.html 

Does Roman Reigns just walk around the concourse throughout the show waiting for a moment to make an appearance? Did he have to toss his nachos and John Cena collectible soda cup in the trash before appearing in the entrance way?

Yes, Big Show. This is ridiculous.

It started out well enough. About three lines into it I was about to say something positive about this. Then he kept talking. 

Luke Harper vs. Roman Reigns: Have you noticed WWE has killed off any aura of danger or threat that Harper had? Great work. He’s become just a smelly bearded dude. Friar Ferguson without the hump. Well done once more, WWE. You sure know how to turn everybody into everybody else. 

I know why they’re having Reigns work longer matches, but yet I don’t know why they’re having him work longer matches. As a watcher right now I really don’t have any desire to see him in long matches full of him laying in headlocks. Six minutes of high intensity match will do so much more to get him over than formulaic WWE upper card matches.

I’m finding Booker T to be a slight improvement over Lawler, but he really needs to cut down on the premature defeatulation. He’s nearing McMahonian levels now.

Roman’s gear still looks really indie to me. Maybe it is just because he doesn’t have two other guys dressed the same standing next to him. I don’t know, but he looks like he stole it from the local Laser Tag/Bowling/mini golf/Whirlyball emporium.

God help us, I think Big Show might be getting some actual heel heat. Winner: Roman Reigns

You know…I think Miz may have been on a show like that before. Also fun to see a hint of the old “Intellectual Savior” sneaking through when talking about the theatre! One way to advance the angle would surely be to have Mizdow slowly turn into Gollum. Let the Sandow part of him try to make him turn on Miz, and the Mizdow part stay loyal. How could a gimmick of Sandow talking to himself be anything but a slice of fried gold?

Speaking of Lord of the Rings, sometimes the internet will latch on to the tiniest thing and blow it up. I know this is news to everyone as the internet is generally used only for the most serious of topics and rigorous exchange of ideas. But once in a while the net lightens up and loosens its tie long enough to have a laugh. And in this case it decided to make a hero out of a background character. Before he ever sang to us with Jemaine about brodeos and robot takeovers, Bret Mckenzie was background elf in Fellowship of the Ring. He appears briefly in the Council of Elrond scene. His character had no name, but a legion of fans gave him the name Figwit. The name is an acronym based on the reaction fans had watching the scene. As Frodo heroically agrees to take The Ring to Mordor despite the unending danger of the quest, the scene cuts to the elves. The response from fans of a certain type is “Frodo Is Great…Who Is That?” as Bret shows up on screen. Later Bret’s character would, much like Robert Paulsen, get a name. He even got a speaking role in Return of the King. Sadly he did not get to sing though. Say hi to Figwit. 

Naomi vs. Alicia Fox: Naomi has one arm tied behind her back. This is going to lead to even more butt-based offense than usual out of Naomi. 

I would like to see Naomi spend six months down at NXT. Hell, send Alicia there as well. Magic things happen there when Sara Del Rey waves her wrestling wand. And by wand I mean her foot, and by waves I mean kicks someone in the head.

The kick Alicia Fox landed on Naomi as she was coming through the ropes was probably the stiffest shot landed all night so far. Winner: Alicia Fox 

Ambrose goofing on being in the Smackdown ad was quality. It all ending up in a Stephanie McMahon is a ho joke wasn’t so much quality. I laughed at that joke in 2000. I also drank a lot of Jagermeister in 2000.

This has nothing to do with the show, but you should know I just used the phrase “Holy Bulgogi Batman!” after eating some particularly spicy Korean food. The “Holy Bulgogi Batman!” shirt will be available on prowrestlingtees.com soon.

I’m noticing what feels like a concerted effort to make the references on the show more current than usual. Miz talking about the Golden Globes last night, JBL talking about the Cowboys game, that sort of thing helps to situate the show as existing in our world rather than in some closed pocket dimension that we can see into but they cannot see out of. 

Brock Lesnar/Paul Heyman Promo: It feels like spitting into the wind to bemoan the way that Undertaker’s streak and the decimation of John Cena ended up leading to the petered out lame duck of Lesnar playing out the string. 

Sure nothing happened in that promo, but it is fun to have Heyman in full rhetorical flourish. If you’re taking a shot of water every time Heyman growls Brock’s name you are now dead of hyponatremia. You’ll be missed. Not much since you’re dumb enough to play Brock Lesnar Bingo, but you’ll still be missed by someone. I’m sure of it. 

Miz totally did the best Macho Man impersonation in that last batch. And John Cena somehow ruins even something this hard to ruin.

Jey Uso vs. Miz: How?! How the hell did JBL get a twerking reference in during this match?! And follow it up with talking about Ronaldo winning the Ballon d’Or today? I’m going to assume the Ronaldo notice was not fed to him by Vince. Though it would be hilarious to find out after all of these years that Vince is obsessed with La Liga and just never told anyone.

The same thing that happens every time happened. Mizdow pulled out a smooth move when he suspended himself over the top rope while Miz was waiting to be powerslammed. Winner: Miz

Daniel Bryan Promo: Bryan is still over. This is a good thing. Let’s hope Bryan turns out to be as indestructible as this fellow. 

Quality cheap pop work there. Mick Foley approves. 

No offense Daniel, but I kind of assumed that you intended to win the Royal Rumble when you announced you were going to be in it. I suppose maybe you just wanted a good view of whatever tricks Kofi Kingston pulls off this year. 

I don’t mean this as hyperbole but I can safely say if somehow we end up with Kane/Bryan at WM 31 I quit. Not just this writing gig, but WWE completely.  I might learn a new language just so I can speak in one that is not tainted by being the language of such an awful idea.

There’s a certain amount of Stephanie McMahon that is just too much for one evening. I think we reached that point around the time she walked out for her spot in this promo. 

The brawl between Kane and Bryan was damn near perfect. The fact that Bryan didn’t make Kane slip on a banana peel. They fought toe to toe, Kane got an advantage, Bryan fought back and ended up beating the hell out of Kane. He showed everyone that he can still do Daniel Bryan things. And it looked awesome. The crowd was electric even though it was just boring old Kane getting beaten on. Daniel F’n Bryan lives and dives and is still awesome to watch.

Paige vs. Brie Bella: OH GOD they’re now talking about Brie Bella and Daniel Bryan being married yet we still get no mention of Nikki and Cena and I just don’t know anymore. 

The only thing redeeming in this whole mess is the amazing cats in sunglasses shirt that Tyson Kidd is wearing. I approve of it. I want a shirt with a cat wearing sunglasses and a word balloon saying “Holy Bulgogi Catman!” Winner: Brie Bella

I feel like Bray Wyatt’s voice has been different lately. Anyone else noticing this?

The fact that Randy Savage is dead, just now getting into the HOF, and being inducted by a still very much alive Hulk Hogan feels like the worst rib in the history of the universe. 

Ascension vs. Jobber and Jobber: The highlight of this show was Booker T pointing out that the jobber was Asian, not Cajun.

Winners: Not the Jobbers

Ambrose was wearing glasses. I just heard the sound of tumblrs being born to users with some variation of the name MsMoxley. That’s really the best thing I can say about that segment.

Things this crowd gets excited about:

  1. Daniel Bryan
  2. the United States of America
  3. What?

I wonder if Bray Wyatt feels a bit sad watching Dean share his fistlove with another man. Not just another man, but a hirsute fellow much like himself. Could have been worse I suppose. Dean and Luke Harper could have become a thing. That might have been more than Bray could bear. 

Dean Ambrose vs. Rusev: Rusev hitting the spear to the injured knee of Ambrose is one of those small touches that Rusev does regularly to add color and nuance to his work. 

I think I can safely call this the best segment on the show. Ambrose sold the knee getting progressively worse through the match, Rusev focused his attack on the knee to a greater degree with each minute, and the final decision took nothing away from Ambrose. The dirty heel move of the post match superkick just helps remind people that Rusev is supposed to be a bad guy (something the writers of WWE seem to forget on a regular basis).

These are the kind of matches that I would love to see a LOT more of on RAW. Telling a story with the work in the ring, not trying to be too fancy. Sure it sucks that Ambrose loses every week, but at least tonight’s loss was the kind that doesn’t have to derail momentum. I know in WWE where John Cena always overcomes things that the idea of losing is somehow proof that you’re a failure forever. But in the rest of the world people lose sometimes. Great fighters lose, great teams lose, great ideas lose. Even in the wild, where Vince McMahon believes the truest fight happens, sometimes the biggest animal loses to something else. WWE would be able to tell so many more stories if they got over their fear of having winners and losers, even among their top guys.

Since this was my favorite segment of the show, its a good time for my favorite one-off character ever. Seinfeld was a treasure trove of minor characters who are still remembered all these years later. Soup Nazi. Cedric and Bob. Jackie Chiles. Babu Bhatt. But of all of them, the one scene I still laugh at to the point of choking is the 4 minutes in which Tor Eckman enters the Seinfeldverse. Realizing it is the same guy who played Ned Ryerson in Groundhog Day just adds an extra dollop of whimsy and guffaw to the humor sundae. Have you had your Couch Grass today?

Winner: Rusev

Contract Signing: Wow. The crowd is silent for Cena. And for Lesnar. They’ve cooled down everyone in the main event except for *drumroll* The Authority!

For someone who was cringeworthy not that long ago, Seth Rollins has really picked up his promo game. He did not seem out of place in a ring with most of the best talkers in the company. So many of the assumptions about Seth’s future post-Shield were based on the idea that he graduated from the David Richards Elocution Academy. But the last few weeks have killed that idea dead, buried it, and built a new condo building over it that is sure to be haunted by the ghost of Tyler Black interviews.

Am I the only one who thinks this would be a much more interesting matchup with just Rollins vs. Lesnar? Cena feels so wedged in here, and sort of anachronistic. He’s a cartoon character who showed up to a real fight for a real title. It was good that he didn’t talk much in this segment.

I’m glad they never teased the idea of Rollins cashing in on Monday. Sure Brock and Cena were down, but why in the world would he want to cash in before going into a triple threat that, as Paul Heyman explained to us, is inherently unfair to the champion? Rollins is becoming self-aware of his place inside of professional wrestling. When a character starts being real smart and taking advantage of the Laws of the WWE Universe they become dangerous.

I can’t help but feel like they did this angle a week early. Hard to think what they could do next week to keep the momentum going with it. 

In honor of Seth’s newfound good talkery perhaps the most famous one-scene movie cameo in the last 25 years. You almost certainly know some of the lines from this, either from the actual scene or the very long string of parodies. I personally like the version set at the North Pole with some elves who just can’t make enough toys. Alec Baldwin, here from downtown, to impart some very important life lessons in Glengarry Glen Ross. I could use some new steak knives. 


And we’ve made it through another 27-hour RAW. Yay us! I think we earned a snack. Bulgogi perhaps? If you enjoyed please share the link, spread it around the internet, stop people on the street and make them read it. Whatever it takes, people!