Best: I Would Probably Marry Paul Heyman, Or
Worst: In A Better World, This Was An Awesome Segment
On paper, last night’s opening segment was great. It had a lot of things I really enjoy, including:
1. Paul Heyman talking
2. An NXT/FCW guy getting a prominent character role on the show
3. Overtly-heel CM Punk
4. References to things that have happened in WWE’s past as a way to explain WWE’s present
5. AJ in shorts
A year-and-a-half ago that would’ve been my favorite segment of the year. And to be honest, last night’s opener was a hell of a lot better than the previous week’s Wah Wah Wah Wah-fest, but it still didn’t click for me. I’ve spent all morning trying to figure it out, and this is the best explanation I could come up with: When you surround a good segment with a bunch of bad ones, you don’t really “earn” it, no matter how good the performers are.
By itself, CM Punk (the bad guy) using a moment of vulnerability from AJ (the good guy) against her is smart. AJ WAS ridiculously in love with him not that long ago, and she HAS used her position of power to take out personal stuff on people who wronged her. Whether that’s good or bad in itself is up to the viewer, I guess. Punk should be allowed to be as slimy as possible about this. I’ve seen way too many guys flip the “MY EX-GIRLFRIEND IS A BITCH WHORESLUT” the second the relationship is over and get proud of how noble they were while they’re lowly former person-they-were-supposed-to-be-in-love-with sent sexts or whatever. This is a real character, and if WWE is committed to making Punk the heel, it’s the kind of thing he could/should be doing. Getting his smarmy manager guy to also mock AJ (especially when he’s an older, fatter, balder creep) is icing on the cake.
The problem is that the segment isn’t “by itself”. It continues a lot of WWE’s least admirable story tropes, like a woman being treated like a second-class citizen for doing anything wrong (or right, but too personal). See also: Eve Torres as a “hoeski”. It continues WWE’s trend of giving the bad guys reasonable points (AJ abuses her power because of personal reasons) and only letting the good guys respond with slaps to the face of pipes to the stomach, because bad guys complain and good guys FIGHT~. It also sadly follow’s WWE’s wishy-washy approach to full-on CM Punk, which has left a big part of the audience chanting CM PUNK, CM PUNK when he calls the lady names. Plus there’s really no pay-off for AJ. She goes backstage and cry-threatens the one person she has actual power over (the newbie referee) and Punk’s only comeuppance is from a guy who wasn’t in the segment at all.
So that’s where it lands. A good, possibly even great segment lowered by its terrible environment. AJ, if you’re gonna let facetious marriage proposals turn you into Rachel Berry storming out of a glee club rehearsal or let insults from Vickie Guerrero make you scream and throw around chairs, you might wanna put the tartan skull logos back on and come on home.
Best: Yes, I Blacked Out And Had Fevered Night-Terrors During Another Goddamn Kofi Kingston/Dolph Ziggler Match On Raw, But It Was A Competitive Match And They Never Seem To Have Those Anymore, So Whatever
I’ve been doing this column long enough that the regulars tweet-blitz me when certain things happen, and nothing gets as big of a HAHAH OH GOD I BET BRANDON JUST DIED AND WENT TO THE HOSPITAL reaction like the announcement of a Dolph Ziggler versus Kofi Kingston match.
For the newer readers, WWE started every booking meeting between 2008-2011 by writing DOLPH ZIGGLER V KOFI KINGSTON on the dry-erase board in capital letters. I have a photographic memory, so I can confirm that every pay-per-view as well as every episode of Raw, Smackdown, NXT, Superstars, Jakked, Velocity and Tuesday Night Titans between X and Y featured a goddamn Dolph Ziggler/Kofi Kingston match, sometimes 2-out-of-3 falls, sometimes 33-out-of-65 falls, sometimes under the “keep doing falls until one of you dies” stipulation. It was the worst. Ziggler and Kingston are both solid athletes, but Ziggler’s strengths are all in his sell of offensive, and Kofi’s biggest weakness is DOING OFFENSE. They’re each other’s “favorite opponent” or whatever so maybe I don’t know anything about wrestling, but I know about WATCHING wrestling, and by year 4 of the feud those things made me feel like I was wandering through the orgy house from Eyes Wide Shut.
Last night’s match was pretty good, as far as Raw matches go. I don’t want to shit on it entirely because I WANT competitive matches on Raw, not just the illusion of competition those main-eventer tag matches have, and good or bad it’s a step in the right direction. I also liked Ziggler winningly cleanly, because that can’t happen enough.
Worst: Kofi Kingston Can’t Even Jump Accurately Anymore
I’ve seen GLOW Girls deliver better dropkicks than that. But the jumping part sure was great, am I right, guys!
You guys can fight me all you want about the Kofi Kingston Is Terrible talking point, but until he stops being a shaky-ass video game character with crappy hit detection I’m gonna keep GIFing his terrible jumpfights.
Best: Gerald, A Waiter In That Restaurant Near The K-Mart
I’ve become friends with a few people who wrestle on the independent level, and right or wrong, the experience of wrestling on a regular basis has given them a critical eye and made it hard for them to watch wrestling on TV and not nitpick it to death. I think that could be said for any profession. I was a trainer at the Olive Garden for two years and was great at my job, so whenever I go out to eat I’m all “our waiter needs to learn about SILENT SERVICE” or I’m meticulously pre-bussing plates or being all “RAGHH CARRY GLASSES AT THE BOTTOM I DON’T WANT YOUR FINGERS IN MY MOUTH”. In my head. Mostly.
Those worlds collided during last night’s DragonFire segments, and while I thought they were extremely hit or miss, Kane as roleplaying therapy-waiter “Gerald” (why not Glenn?) was choice. I liked that he went full Goldust and wore his wrestling gear under his server clothes. I also kinda enjoyed him confessing to murders randomly, but come on, as a food service professional I know that if someone had dunked their head in the deep fryer, no self-respecting manager would let food get through the expo line sprinkled with discarded head-pieces. That “cooks spitting in your food” thing only exists in TV shows and movies. If a cook ever spit in your food at the Olive Garden they’d be fired immediately, thrown out on their ass and your food would get made again. And that’s at the lowbrow f**king Olive Garden. Food contamination only exists at places like Taco Bell, where the cooks and managers are both 17 and want hits on their YouTube channels.
D-Bry should’ve complained to the manager about Kane being rude and gotten a gift card.
I want more like this!
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