Best: AJ Lee Singlehandedly Guts Total Divas, Or
Best: PIPE BOMB
Natalya and Brie Bella had a SummerSlam rematch, and (like the pay-per-view match itself) it was a short, largely-inoffensive and regressively-pointless excuse to put the cast of ‘Total Divas’ on Raw. The Funkadactlys were there to be cheerleaders for Natalya. Eva Marie and Nikki Bella were there to support Brie. They even brought out Jojo to ring announce, and she said everything like she was spelling a word in a spelling bee. Poor Jojo. They can’t jettison her until ‘Total Divas’ runs its course, so they’re like “be a singer! Eh, that’s not great … do ring announcing!” Eventually she’s just gonna be the time keeper because they can’t trust her to get in or out of a ring without collapsing onto her face and dying, because she’s shoot Eugene in AJ Lee’s body.
Anyway, like I said, it was largely inoffensive. The worst part was the finish, where Eva Marie distracted the referee so Nikki Bella could pull Brie out of a Sharpshooter, and Natalya had to stagger around selling “losing control of my finisher” like it was a Stone Cold Stunner until Brie could get into position and face-bust her for the win. Then, in a moment we’d dreamed for but were never brave enough to expect, AJ walked out on the stage.
I am not using “pipe bomb” facetiously. If anything in WWE has constituted a “pipe bomb” since the actual pipe bomb two years ago, it was this. AJ calmly, frankly spit HOT FIRE on ‘Total Divas,’ taking down everyone in or near the ring for being useless, embarrassing women who are only in WWE because they’re failed actresses, sleeping with wrestlers or related to somebody. It was Kendrick Lamar’s ‘Control’ verse in Divas promo form, complete with that accompanying blast radius where everybody has to “respond” for fear of being outed as lazy motherf**kers who’ve sleepwalked into positions of notoriety. If you need proof of AJ’s truth, just listen to every Totally Diva screeching mindlessly in the background, yelling asinine shit like “SAY IT TO MY FACE” as though AJ wasn’t saying it to all of their faces, as though Nikki Bella was some gender-swapped Alex Riley. Just like Kendrick, people like Mick Foley were quick to jump on Twitter and defend the Bellas, in code that more or less means “they’re my friends, shut up.”
The Bellas response itself was a thing of sad beauty, where they cannot distinguish kayfabe from reality, and either of those from the kayfabed reality they created for themselves on E!
If you want to know how true this promo is, watch the responses of everyone in the ring who isn’t Natalya. The Bellas and Eva Marie won’t stop screeching on the outside. Cameron and Naomi won’t stop making yawn gestures and “bye bye” hands and trying to gain some kind of attention. They don’t have any concept of what wrestling is, how it works, or the value of occasionally showing emotions (or showing ass) to get a story or moment over. They don’t know how to create a reality. It’s the Bellas on commentary, upright and walking around. “Look at me!” To her credit, at least Natalya sneered and shook her head quietly because hey, maybe somebody’s gotta have a match with AJ to follow this up and somebody should try to prove her wrong instead of proving her all the way right.
The truth hurts, doesn’t it? You got shook, and you aren’t good enough to shake back. AJ is once again and forever my motherf*cker.
Best/Worst: Curtis Axel Cannot Speak Like A Human (Credit: Dirt Sheets)
Forever NOT my motherf*cker is Curtis Axel, who cannot seem to understand that having Paul Heyman as your manager means Paul Heyman can talk for you, and you don’t have to throat-fart into a microphone every week and ruin our chances of thinking you’re okay. To reiterate, Curtis Axel is literally a square patch of growing grass in the ring, but he’s competent, and compared to his mic skill he’s the f*cking Rainmaker in the ring.
I don’t understand why he can’t convincingly have a conversation with someone with whom he works every week. Do they not talk in real life? Can we start telling Axel the camera’s off and see what happens? Paul Heyman’s there emoting his ass off, selling one of the best ongoing stories in pro wrestling, and Axel’s all, “BUH HUH, DON’T WORRY PAUL, HEH, I MEAN, HEH, I GOTTA MATCH TERNIGHT, HEH, HUH, Y’KNOW” and fuuuuuuuuuu it goes on forever. “This is the moment” was not a fluke. Curtis Axel is deaf or is fatally dyslexic or something he isn’t telling us.
Best/Worst: Everything Was Great About This Except For The Curtis Axel Parts
The Axel/Punk match was fine, but a pretty obvious step down from the work Punk’s been doing lately. The finish came out of nowhere. They were just wrestling, and boop, Punk hits a Go To Sleep and that’s the end. I’m not complaining, but the guy’s the Intercontinental Champion, right? Maybe he could at least get in some believable near-falls before he eats the first finisher Punk stores.
After that, the Raw Active poll declaring Paul Heyman MUST face CM Punk in the ring if Punk wins proves that it isn’t worth the free app it’s projected on, and Axel just attacks Punk anyway and prevents it from happening. What follows is a powerfully limp attempt at a beatdown from Axel, where he has Punk handcuffed and at his mercy, and uses this advantage to hit Punk in the stomach ONCE and getting shit-kicked by a dude with no arms. Lots of funny conversational patter from Axel during this, too. “OM CURSE AXEL, OM INCONENAL CHAMPIN, YOU LEARN YOU LESSON, I DRIVE A DODGE STATUS, SHAA, SHAA”
Ragging on Axel aside, Paul Heyman was BRILLIANT here. The shots with the kendo stick were brutal enough to justify the gimpy shit before it, and his screams of I LOVED YOU were suitably unhinged. Paul’s got this great ability to be one of the best performers and actors on the show and make me see that, but still allow me to lose myself in the character and want to see him get what’s coming to him, even though on the otherside of the fence I love him. Does that make sense? A guy like Daniel Bryan is forever chained to how I feel about him personally, but Heyman can be beloved and detested simultaneously. It’s a rare skill. I have no idea how far he wants to go with the Godfather act or his actual perverse, selfish love for Punk, but I’m excited to see it, and God damn do I applaud him for how well he can do it.
He is good enough to continually interest me in Curtis Axel segments is what I’m saying, and that might be the best compliment I’ve ever given someone.
Worst: So Rob Van Dam Is Friends With Ricardo Rodriguez So They Can Cheat? Or
Worst: Night Of Recently-Pinned Champions
I’m really high on Alberto Del Rio lately, between his great match at SummerSlam against Christian and his angry curse-stomping of Sin Cara’s fragile ass last week, so I might’ve enjoyed this match more than any Van Dam’s had since his return. Their styles work oddly well together, I think, with Van Dam’s “LET ME THROW UP SOME LEGS AND SEE WHAT WORKS, HOW ‘BOUT A BACKFLIP GUYS” thing missing every hole in Del Rio’s “I’m gonna run at you repeatedly and try to break your arms” Lego, and somehow it all still fits together.
That said, I predictably did not care for Ricardo Rodriguez, babyface in an airbrushed t-shirt, standing on the announce table to distract Del Rio and let Van Dam roll him up for a loss. It’s the World Heavyweight Champion losing to set up a title shot at a pay-per-view (that he’ll win), a good guy doing something rotten to give another good guy an unfair win over a bad guy, the ongoing worsification of one of my previous favorite characters (Ricardo) and a rehash of things they’ve already done on the same show. Boo.
I want more like this!
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