Sorry about last week, I won tickets to a secret show by They Might Be Giants. It really wasn’t much of a question as to which thing I would be doing on Monday night. Maybe if more of you would promote this column on Reddit or hook me up with a gig writing for Rolling Stone’s wrestling content then things would be different. SHOW ME YOU LOVE ME! I NEED VALIDATION! *sob*
Also, thanks to Rob Barry for so ably handling this yeoman’s work. He is on the side of the angels for doing so. Reviewing Raw is like bearing the One Ring, even holding it for just a brief while means you too can take the boat from the Grey Havens to the Undying Lands.
Three questions for tonight’s show:
- Will things get totally cray between Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose tonight? Given that they love to push wacky funtime Ambrose instead of psycho killer Ambrose I expect some sort of light-hearted yet “embarrassing” shenanigans directed at Rollins. We’ll know if Vince threw in last minute rewrites if fecal matter lands on or oiled up fat men rub against Seth at some point tonight.
- Is John Cena’s U.S. Title Open Challenge going to be the stage for another Kevin Owens appearance? Last week the one thing I made sure to watch from the show was the Owens segment. I can’t help but feel like on a night where Tyler Black and Jon Moxley will be heating up their World Title match, and John Cena will be looking to get revenge on Kevin Steen for injuring El Generico, which led to Samoa Joe staring him down, that it’s a shame C.M. Punk isn’t around for all of this, since really without him it’s likely none of this ever happens.
- The Authority, how silly are they? I bet there will be arguments and grumbling and Kane will choose the most inappropriate moments to be shirtless. Maybe a lesson will be taught by someone. Maybe I’ll give up the ghost and accept that Vince and Co. will go back to the evil boss well until they reach the very molten core of the Earth.
Newhart Update: As the show moves ever closer to the final episode, things are becoming unhinged. An infant now owns the TV station where Dick and Joanna have their shows. Nearly an entire episode was filled with the characters doing a terrible sitcom. Characters jump in and out solely for comic effect. Continuity is almost totally shot. Everyone is dragging themselves to the end of the run, and no one seems to care. Oh, they’re professionals so they’re doing a decent job. But it is obvious all the spark is gone. We’ve reached the Nitro 2001 stage of the game. Everything is about just getting something on the tv. Nothing is fresh. Nothing is joyous. Nothing is happy to be there. But then, seeing the same characters every week for 8 years is a long time. Hard to care about someone when they’ve been around for what seems like forever. There’s nothing they can do that is new except to do something nonsensical. And that usually ends badly.
WWE Monday Night Raw
May 25, 2015
Nassau Coliseum – Uniondale, NY
Opening Memorial Day montage. Vince loves America dammit! Wrestlers reciting a fucking Ronald Reagan speech like it was the goddamn Gettysburg Address just makes it even more cringe inducing and ostentatious. It’s hard to take anything a carny does as face value, and loving the country, all while using the words of a man who bargained with terrorists and illegally sold arms to America’s enemies undermines what credibility it might have had. (Editor’s Note: Welp, Sean just became Joe Lanza’s least favorite VOW contributor) There can be no greater respect paid to those who gave their lives for this country than to do all we can to prevent others from joining their ranks unnecessarily, and no greater affront than to agitate for more young men to fall in support of those who beg for war so they may wrap themselves in flags and patriotism.
You Know This Part by Heart
Subtle reminder of who is truly important. The whole gaggle of Authority folks and Seth Rollins, World Champion, come to the ring as HHH’s music plays.
Hey, plugging a plot hole and letting Rollins just be even smarmier and smug than usual is, as Hans Landa might say, a Bingo! Now if in this segment they explain why they would still give Ambrose a title shot I would put on a cap just so I could tip it towards the screen. Of course I would feel so stupid doing that I would assume I’ve gone cray cray.
Speaking of being cray cray, here’s Dean Ambrose! He’s so crazy he’s going to tell you he’s crazy! On the other hand, the Mrs. likes Dean Ambrose, and she doesn’t like anyone except Macho Mandow and Hornswoggle.
I do love the idea that something so amazingly stupid as being called Justin Bieber is the thing that he gets rattled about. I hope he becomes the foremost expert on all things Bieber. Every interview he busts out totally obscure facts about Justin. Start publicly demanding the exact same things that Bieber has in his tour rider. Pull a Matt Hardy and start having Bieber facts as part of his intro. Show him bullying control room people to make WWE Did You Know facts all about him and Bieber having things in common. There is endless potential here. Roll with it WWE.
They sure do love to keep making Rollins fight against his former enemies who want to murder him.
And play HHH’s music again to finish the segment. It’s his world. We’re just waiting to be sledgehammered. Speaking of being behind the times, I finally saw “Wrestling Isn’t Wrestling” this weekend. I enjoyed it!
Roman Reigns/Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins/Kane
I’m so glad that they’re going to spend all summer having the Shield guys fight each other so that when they finally have that Triple Threat match one day it will feel like we’ve seen it a million times already. If Vince ran a horse farm they would never get any glue because they beat the dead horses so much they turn to ash.
Booker T just used the term “indian giver” on national TV. In 2015. I mean sure, given the location it might be an attempt at historical humor and a sardonic commentary on the plight of Native Americans, by ironically using such a term while in a place that has come to represent the swindling of the indigenous peoples by Europeans. I mean, it is Booker T after all.
By the old gods and the new I don’t know how anyone watches this live. Not being able to fast forward through the commercials is making me hate everything in the world.
THAAAAAAAAAA RAIIIIIIIIIIIIIINMAKERRRRRRRRRRRR! Obviously Okada is going to be joining NXT soon.
So how does the transitive property of Things Happening on the Last Raw Before the PPV work if a guy gets a pin on the champ and gets his ass kicked on the same show? Does that mean no contest? I’m not sure how this will play out. We all know Dean isn’t winning the belt, right? That would be cray.
OH FUCK! I FORGOT THE ENTOURAGE GUYS ARE HERE! I really should have taken another week off. This shall be my penance for leaving you. Winners: Rollins/Ambrose
Every time Jamie Noble opens his mouth it is like the angels singing. The man is a damned hero and every person who watches this show should send him a dollar.
Why yes, I would like watch Owens powerbombing Cena repeatedly. Thank you so much WWE production staff.
Rusev vs. R-Truth
I take a single week off and Rusev is Bulgarian again?! Jesus H. Tandem Skydiving Christ what are they doing to Rusev? Did he not shake Undertaker’s hand right at Mania or something? We all knew feuding with Cena wouldn’t end well for him, but I assumed that like with Bray Wyatt they would then build him back up so he can be crushed again. This however is like watching weird German porn where someone gets shat on over and over again. I’m pretty sure Dieter and his monkey are personally producing Rusev’s segments. German porn is so cray.
And I hate life so much now. Rusev is Bulgarian and heatless, Lana’s character has been murdered because Vince doesn’t understand how someone blonde and pretty could be a heel and now she’s a vapid party girl who just needs to be liked by a boy, and FUCKING TURTLE IS HERE! Hell, just let E and Drama beat up Rusev and then Turtle can make out with Lana and McMahon can sit in his office naked and watching the monitor in one eye and a blow-up of his Muscle and Fitness cover with the other eye and I’m never getting out of here. This show is the goddamned Hotel California. I’m growing dumber by the day.
Oh joy, and R-Truth is wrestling and the announcers are discussing how men and women should interact. It’s like everything about this segment was designed to see if I am able to set my tv on fire with just the power of my rage-filled mind. So far it hasn’t worked, but there’s still time in this segment. And now Rusev has sad voice. I’m sure this will end wonderfully, and not with Dolph Ziggler running in, beating up Rusev, kissing Lana, and both of them waving an American flag. My wife is looking at me with that look she gets, where she asks herself, “How can the intelligent, cultured, thoughtful man I married watch this shit week after week?” I don’t have an answer. Let’s all find something else to watch instead. Send me a show on Twitter, and we’ll start leading better lives next week. Fuck it, let’s just start watching Hillbilly Blood or Swamp Monsters, at least that’s only an hour of brain cell murder each week.
TELL HER RUSEV! TELL HER IT’S ALL THE FAULT OF MOOSE AND SQUIRREL!
Rusev’s new character is going to involve a fedora, a Twitter bio including the letters MRA, an obnoxious need to trumpet his atheism, and a belief that all the women in GamerGate brought it on themselves, and it’s only a few bad apples making it seem bad.
Must join punk band and create new song “It’s Not Time for USA.”
Quite the 180 there ol’ Rusev. There’s medication for those sorts of mood swings pal. Though I suppose a woman didn’t do what you want.
That was a very empowering speech by Lana. Of course, it will now be followed up on by going from one guy to the next to show her freedom and liberation. Because that’s what WWE thinks of women. That’s what they think you think of women. That’s what they think I think of women. This is important to remember. If Vince McMahon and WWE thought that presenting women as something other than objects to be traded between men in order to prove their strength and dominance over other men, if he thought there was money to be found in this, they would be doing so. But that’s not what they think. They assume that the audience is comprised of infantile men who only see women as sluts who sleep with everyone but them or ice queens who only sleep with the starting QB. They feel there is money to be made in selling a world, ahem, a universe, where the only agency women have is to go from one man’s embrace to another’s. Any time spent alone is either proof she is insane or is some sort of tease, preying on some poor simple guy’s emotions.
I’m sorry, I know it is some sort of feminist plot I’m inadvertently assisting by saying such things, when all the rest of us dudes just want to enjoy wrestling the way it should be. I swear I try to enjoy this as the garbage variety quasi-wrestling show that it is. I know it’s stupid and I know it’s base and that it appeals to the lowest common denominator. But really, are we all that fucking dumb as bricks. I’m not asking for WWE to propose innovative solutions to the dilemmas of the modern world. But maybe not creating a toxic environment that lets those kids you’re selling product to know that women are a thing you collect and dismiss when finished would be a good thing.
Eh, I’m spitting into the wind. I’m just glad I’m a penis-having person while writing this. I’d hate to think how much awfulness would be spewed at me if I said these things while daring to be a woman. I realize I’m writing this from the safe perspective of a boy in the boy’s club. No one will question my credibility or place. No one is going to send me rape threats because they disagree with me. I won’t be called a fat slut for having a different opinion than someone else.
So I guess what this all comes down to, WWE is probably always going to assume men are regressive and cruel. Most wrestling fans will gladly prove and embrace this stereotype. Kids who watch will learn that a man must reach out and grab the woman he wants, whether she wants him or not. I’ve vented and now I’ve calmed down. So now I have only one goal, smaller yet likely just as impossible. To all the men who might read this, please don’t send women messages on Twitter calling them awful things. Thanks.
But I digress… Winner: Rusev
And what better way to follow up that segment than an episode of Law and Order:WWE. I sure do love me some hilarious segments involving WWE’s unique view of how the law works. I so hope at some point a restraining order gets involved in the story.
Ryback vs. King Barrett
If coked out PMA enthusiast Ryback can’t cheer me up this review may devolve into a nihilism so dark it would force respect from Walter Sobchak.
WWE is a company that always works in primary colors. For fuck’s sake John Cena is the most limited Pantone library ever assembled. But you have a guy who’s a gluttonous crazy person who yells a lot and hits things, and his outfit looks like it went through the wash too many times, but since the singlet has those great memories attached of the time he got wasted and like actually saw the music at that DMB show he just won’t throw it away. Give Ryback Bright Colors! Not something that reminds me of my pee when I don’t drink enough water.
It’s two minutes after the match and I already don’t remember who won or how. Winner: Ryback?
And now it’s the cast of Entourage visiting HHH and Steph. You know what? It’s time for self-preservation here. Let’s just forget this segment ever happened before I chuck my laptop out the window.
Neville vs. Stardust
This is a main event in any arena in the world.
I am enjoying Stardust working the knee. The whole Stephen Amell thing and the shitty commentary and all that blows. But I do quite like the fact that he’s working the knee.
The Red Arrow needs to be one of those finishers that never gets kicked out of unless it’s the main event of a Big Four PPV. Like a top rope AA, or the Orton Punt. This move needs to stay pure death.
Had to rewind. Was having a Twitter lovefest with my cheesemonger. She’s really the second most important woman in my life. She keeps me in good cheese, and that is cray important. Winner: Neville
Oh yes, I forgot the other thing that WWE women can be. Starfuckers. Always the Option C for any woman in WWE. Please never ever ever call up the NXT women. I’m willing to be selfish here. Just never let them leave that magical place.
Dolph Ziggler and his prize for being American vs. Sheamus, Chapter 34
Oh and we get this match again. I know last week, while bouncing along to “Birdhouse In Your Soul” I couldn’t shake the thought that I really missed seeing Ziggler vs. Sheamus. It had been a long time, and I was growing to miss this feud. Im going to go watch hockey. This show is making my fucking head hurt.
Alright, Blackhawks pulled within one. Time for a little more Raw.
“Why is the little guy tickling that pasty man?” I’m just going to run a tape recorder, make the wife watch Raw, and transcribe her thoughts. She sums up this inexplicable nightmare of a show better than I ever could.
A thought: It could be said that Dolph is our modern version of Ricky Morton. He gets the shit kicked out of him by a heel but then finds the hope spot out of nowhere. But something people forget is that we didn’t watch Ricky get his ass kicked every single week. Most of the time when you turned on TBS you saw the R&R’s beating up on some jobbers, and telling the Horsemen or the Midnights that they were coming for them.
That’s why it was special when Ricky was getting beaten up. Because he was someone who was obviously one of the best wrestlers around. He and Robert could beat damn near any team with one arm tied up in a cool bandana behind their backs. But when those nasty heels at the main event level got in the ring, then it was a fight for Ricky. That’s when he needed every ounce of strength that the love of the crowd could give to him. Ricky wasn’t always needing the crowd’s help, he didn’t have to come back every single week and beg you to believe that he could come back even though he was too small and too good looking to have a chance against inhuman brutes like Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard, or the dirty commie Koloffs.
But Dolph is always in a struggle. Nothing comes easy for Dolph. If you were to objectively rank wrestlers just based on what happens on tv, Dolph would be lucky to be in the top half, since he gets the crap kicked out of him every single match. Sometimes he gets lucky and hits a move to win, but it never feels like Dolph is in control. Rooting for upsets is fun, but not every single time. At some point fans move on to someone who seems like they have a better than 50/50 chance. Right now there is no reason to invest yourself in Dolph. He’s a guy who comes out, has a match, might win, might not, might be forced to touch another man’s butt cheeks with his lips. Whatever purpose he may have had around Survivor Series is a distant memory. Now he’s just the guy you hope doesn’t get beat up too bad by the really good wrestlers.
Oooooh, Dolph and Lana kissed tonight! I wonder if a note was passed to Lana from Dolph where she was asked “Do u Likee Dolph?” and asked to circle yes or no. Scintillating stuff to anyone who is currently working their way through fourth grade. Or maybe earlier. Kids grow up so fast these days. I assume by fourth grade all the kids nowadays are doing ecstasy and using Periscope to broadcast orgies out to all their classmates.Thank God I don’t have kids.
Fuck it all, Rusev’s smirk leading to the brogueist brogue kick in the universe, and Sheamus giving Rusev the go-ahead to attack Ziggler post match was the very height of too muchery. I loved it disconnected from all the shit that’s gone on tonight.
Crowd could not be more burnt out on the Lana/Rusev/Ziggler stuff. They could have Rusev come out with a machete and hack off Ziggler’s limbs until he’s the Black Knight and the crowd will at best work up some mild umbrage, perhaps a modicum of pique. Winner: Sheamus
Check This Out: This week’s show has been full of noise and rage and the worst things. Here’s a beautiful thing. Akira Komesura’s Polaroid Portraits. This is a quiet, fragile, intimate work that will set your mind off on journeys beyond yourself. It will bring you peace, should you desire it. Here is the first track off the album, but the whole thing is available to preview on Youtube. Then once you say, “Damn, Sean was right again!” go buy it. Piracy against indie artists, be they musicians, filmmakers, or pro wrestling companies, is bullshit. Be better than that.
Fuck How Insufferable will John Cena be on Memorial Day?
I will never, eeeeeeever, get tired of watching the pop-up powerbomb from Owens to Cena. It’s like Independence Day or Ocean’s Eleven. It comes on my tv and I know what I’m watching until it’s done.
Okay, back to hockey. Not ready to listen to John Cena talk yet.
Game going to overtime. Last two minutes made me sooooo happy. Only one man can kill this buzz.
John Cena telling it like it is cuz some of you hate me and some of you love me and that’s okay cuz I love all of you and it’s just cray.
How do you turn a man who has essentially obliterated the face/heel dynamic? Seriously, what would a John Cena heel turn be that doesn’t happen right now?
Now there’s a chant I never thought I would hear again. Tonight we are being visited by the ghost of Zack Ryder’s push.
It feels like Cena was expecting the crowd to be more pro-Owens, as he keeps trying to get the crowd chanting Fight Owens Fight. That said this is a fucking quality promo by Cena. He is giving all the possible rub to Owens. Problem is that he does this a lot. But then the feud ends up neutering the guy he gave that great rub to. As someone said, the key to storytelling is show, not tell. Show me that someone is going to actually be elevated by working with Cena in an extended feud. It hasn’t happened since the Summer of Punk.
John Cena vs. Zack Ryder
I’m going to say I don’t like Mr. Ryder’s chances in this one. Though Drama interfering was funny. If the whole match is the cast getting involved I would not be unhappy about this.
At what point do I get to see Zach Broski working the local AAA show?
The John Cena US Title match has stopped being the best match of the show over the last month or so. Sami Zayn match of course excluded.
Every Raw should have Owens powerbombing Cena. Every single one. Winner: CENAWINSLOL
Fucking hockey. As if I needed anything else to hate tonight. My three day weekend is over, the Hawks lost, this show is, other than the last segment, getting me to the point where I hate myself for watching this happy horseshit.
Paige vs. Tamina
Fuck it. Nope nope nope. I don’t get paid for this. No fucking Tamina match tonight. Sorry Paige. Much love to you and your mum.
Winner: Who the fuck knows. Probably a Bella.
New Day vs. every other tag team at once
Oh shit! Big E is going to piss off the Lil B, Tha Based God. He knows what happened to Kevin Durant!
Xavier Woods as hype man is approaching Flavor Flav levels of awesomeness.
Kane without a shirt. Check that off your Shitty WWE Raw bingo card.
Even the heels have to stick it to the black guys. Whole damn company is racist.
Seeing the whole tag team division together in one ring certainly does not do much for making the division look less like the geek squad group.
Remember those two weeks when they were pushing Kalisto as something important? Neither do I. Obviously just a bad dream. Must have had too much cheese and crayfish before bed.
JBL just referenced Earl Anthony. Way to appeal to the young audience. For those who don’t know the reference, Earl Anthony was a great pro bowler. In the 70’s. So yeah, for those who watched Wide World of Sports in a wood paneled rec room, listening to Styx records, they surely appreciated the reference. #firethesemen #rightnow #seriously #rightfuckingnow
Cesaro and Kidd are of course excluded from that geek squad comment. I love them with all my heart. A heart full of cheese. Winners: New Day
Poor Dean Ambrose. Obviously He Won’t Be Back Tonight
The man was a father of newborn triplets! Damn you Dean Ambrose! TRIPLETS!
Uh oh. The arrival of Reigns reminds me of the precedent set in Hickenbottom v. Benoit.
Dean Ambrose in cop gear surely is going to get some Tumblrs on fire tonight.
This contract segment is way too reminiscent of closing on my condo.
Stealing a vehicle is often a sign that the company takes you seriously. Perhaps this is a good sign for Ambrose. Winner: Dean Ambrose. If he had waited like 30 more seconds Roman totally would have yoinked that contract.
That’s it. This was a slog. Before we go, let’s look back on this lovely night we shared. We had some questions earlier:
- Will things get totally cray between Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose tonight? Oh things got cray. Ambrose stole a paddy wagon! And a cop uniform! Oh that irrepressible scamp. On the good side the crowd was mostly hot for him, enough of those and maybe he’ll get to not job for six months straight. But yes, shenanigans ensued.
- Is John Cena’s U.S. Title Open Challenge going to be the stage for another Kevin Owens appearance? Why yes it was. But first it was a chance to see Zack Ryder’s last moment in the sun before he’s sent to the farm to run around all day and play with the other people who had their pushes squashed by interacting with John Cena. I bet he goes cray romping about with Bray Wyatt.
- The Authority, how silly are they? The Authority was shockingly on the same page tonight. No tension between Rollins and Kane. No Daddy Paul having to set the kids straight. Even cray cray Jamie Noble was on his best behavior. Either Steph and HHH were tired of being booked to look like idiots by association, or the blowup is about to happen. I’m saying the former. That way they can do a video package before Summerslam showing how Paul got them all back on the same page and made them unstoppable. On the other hand Kane still needs to ponder the impression he gives when he makes corporate decisions while shirtless.
And the awards go to:
Ugh: This company. Sure the Lana/Rusev/Ziggler stuff was possibly evidence of a Plague Bowl being overturned, but remember, it isn’t them coming up with this. Hell, Rusev actually did a hell of a job with the material he had tonight. He was so sincere that for a ½ second I thought maybe cooler heads had prevailed and decided to turn the boat around. Then he flipped like the manchild that he is and that WWE assumes all of their male fans are. It was a great performance in a terrible storyline. But still, the whole thing is just rank.
Honorable Mention: Jamie Noble for having his head slapped and being called Sally. Zack Ryder, because when the hell will I ever get to mention him here again? Kevin Owens for doing something that always brings me joy. John Cena for a promo that at least sounded like a great way to give Owens some shine. New Day for continuing to kill it on the mic.
MVP: Dean Ambrose. Sure it was hokey and ostentatious, a callback to all the other times vehicles have been hijacked, but at least it’s a top card sort of trick being used for him. It isn’t a surprise that he can carry his part of a World Title feud, and the crowds are buying into him with some surprising fervor.
Hall of Fame: Provenance Food and Wine. Nothing that happened on Raw tonight brought me anywhere near as much joy as the cheeses they helped me pick out this weekend. The Blue Gouda was cray cray on the burger I had.
That’s about it for this week. This miserable fucking week. Next week has to be better, right? I promise to come back and go through it once more, if you promise to read it. Anyone who shares this column has my undying gratitude, and will surely be name dropped as appropriate. Share on Twitter, Share on Facebook, Share on Reddit, drop the link into anywhere else you go to talk wrestling. Have a great week, be sure to join the VoW forums, and we’ll meet here again.