Hello there. New year, new Raw, new blog? With election season out of the way (I'm a bit of a political junkie, which is why Kick-Out!! launched just after the 08 election), I feel like it's time to come back home. Real life is still busy (I was also unemployed when KO!! launched), but I hate being one of those people who say "OMG SO BUSY!" whenever someone asks them how they are.
The reality is, I'm not that busy, but when I get home from work and wrestling feels like a chore, that was my cue to step back. I wake up every morning at 4:30 a.m. (just like The Rock!), so staying up till 11:15 p.m. to watch Raw is just brutal, especially when it hasn't been very good. But we're entering the Road to WrestleMania and I think I found the right balance to watching Raw, so Kick-Out!! is back.
I toyed with the idea of doing a big relaunch, complete with new graphics and design, and may still do that if anyone has good ideas for a "freshening up," but otherwise, let's just pretend we never left each other, okay?
As for my new method of watching Raw, since WWE and USA seem intent on keeping Raw at a grueling three hours a week, I think I'm going to watch the first 90 minutes live, then catch the second half of the show Tuesday afternoon on DVR. It worked well for this week's show, so let's get on with it.
John Cena promises to make 2013 the best year of his career, but if that's the case, he got off to a really lousy start. Good God, that promo was atrocious and talking about "weiner jokes" and poop? It's like the dude is devolving. Look, I'm not above lowbrow humor, I thought "JBL is poopy" was hilarious because it was so randomly absurd, but that kind of joke has become a staple of Cena's character, and it's fucking lame.
I realize Cena is a hero to children and they've embraced the fact that his appeal is among women and kids, but that doesn't mean you have to make him a kid. It's like Patton Oswalt's bit about the Star Wars prequels: just because kids love Darth Vader and Boba Fett, it doesn't mean we want to see Darth Vader and Boba Fett as kids. Kids love John Cena, they don't have to love him because he is an overgrown manchild. John Cena is a professional, I've seen him wear a suit and speak intelligently, he personally told me that when he retires he wants to be a history teacher, his character doesn't have to be an emotionally-stunted fecophiliac. And keep in mind, I've always been a fan of the guy, but last night, he was just unbearable.
Now luckily, he made up for it with a fantastic match against Dolph Ziggler. WWE always seems to pride itself on having kick-ass matches to start the New Year, and 2013 was no exception. I know folks were pissed about Cena winning, and it probably wasn't wise to have Ziggler lose even with interference from Big E Smalls, but unless it's a match where the bad guy can't lose, like when Miz defended the title against John Morrison in 2011, there's no harm in starting the year off with a cheering crowd.
Will you get mad at me if I don't bother writing about Divas matches? I'll give them the exact amount of attention WWE does: none.
Also, will you be upset if I don't bother with the endless backstage filler segments? There's only so many times you can write "Sheamus talked backstage, he's up next" before it just gets repetitive. The backstage skit is really a trope that needs to die, but when you have three hours to fill, I guess they're not going anywhere.
Hell No vs. Rhodes Scholars was pretty good, Kane & Daniel Bryan have to be one of the best odd couple tag teams that never win matches in WWE history. I'm still not really sure what the endgame is here, if they're good guys or bad guys, or where they fit into the show after their inevitable split, but it's been a pretty fun ride. Rhodes Scholars are great too and they're two guys who you could build a division around because I want to see them get their asses kicked. Now, whether WWE puts enough stock in the tag division that there's a reason to care about its participants remains to be seen, but this is the best it's been since JeriShow. Nowhere near that in terms of quality, but it's something.
Is there anything more amusing in WWE right now than the unpush of Randy Orton? The guy's been shoved down our throats for nine years and we've finally realized that once he's wrestled the entire roster, there's not really anything to do with him. No one wants to the "epic rematch" between Orton and anybody, so he's pretty much become "dude to throw in a six-man tag or jobber squash," which is why he got to beat up on poor Heath Slater. Obviously Slater had no chance of winning this match, so dragging it out as long as they did annoyed me.
Speaking of pointless, why the hell was Ricky Steamboat in Santino's corner against Wade Barrett? I can't imaging there's going to be a Steamboat/Barrett match, unless it's a clever way to bring in Richie, which would, admittedly, be rad. Regardless, putting Steamboat with Santino was just silly... why is Santino the go-to guy when they need a plucky underdog against a dominant bad guy? They get it all backwards, they put bad guys with no chance in hell against guys like Orton, but they rarely give the little good guys a shot at guys way above their pay grade. That dynamic can make a little guy into a star, remember when Rikishi faced Triple H for the WWE Title and it basically made him a main eventer overnight? There are a ton of guys on the roster they could do that with, but instead they use Santino, who they've made abundantly clear is never ever ever going to get any sort of serious push.
Antonio Cesaro vs. Great Khali was my cut-off for live Raw viewing. Obviously this match happened for no other reason that to show off Cesaro's ability to hit Khali with The Neutralizer for the benefit of the majority of the audience that doesn't watch Main Event. Although wouldn't it have been more effective to use that in a video package and just talk up Cesaro as a legitimate badass? I know, you would think I would advocate for more wrestling, but this is a case where less is more, and throwing some roses at Cesaro's feet would stand out from "piss break match #4." Minor gripe, because I shouldn't complain when Cesaro's in the ring, but I do think they have something legitimately special on their hands with him and they should do something different. Video package + old school stage interview would've been fun.
And really, did we really need Sheamus vs. Jinder Mahal? By my count, 3MB were involved in FOUR segments last night and each one was them getting humiliated. Yeah, Heath Slater is the best Jobber to the Stars in the industry right now, but this was overkill. And Mahal lasted way too long against Sheamus, which I'm sure some folks will say helped, but if you never win, it won't do any good.
I thought for sure they'd find some way to get out of CM Punk vs. Ryback in a TLC match, or it would be really low impact, but holy hell, those two hurt each other. I think it's pretty obvious why CM Punk has been WWE Champion for 415 days, the dude works his ass off... but he doesn't do it for you losers.
This was just a fantastic match that may have been another case of WWE painting themselves into a corner and needing The Shield to get them out, but it worked. They can still keep up their ruse that it has nothing to do with helping Punk, just stamping out injustice (why does Ryback deserve another shot, especially when Punk isn't 100%), and it'll work well when they keep The Rock from winning at the Rumble (what has he done to earn it?).
Oh and that powerbomb through the table, onto the steps was NASTY~!
I was fast-forwarding through commercials on my DVR and by the time I picked the remote back up to hit play, the Big Show vs. Kofi Kingston match was over. So much for that reinvigorated Kofi.
CM Punk's latest "pipe bomb" was far and away the best mic work he's done since the infamous night in Las Vegas. His bleak, cynical, "none of this matters, so I'm just going to try to make you people as miserable as possible" rant against the Universe was expertly executed and really summed up a lot of my problems with WWE right now. He's right, while there's still plenty of fun to be had on these shows, most of it ultimately doesn't matter because the glaring problems with the industry still exist. CM Punk is champion in spite of you, I'm watching in spite of the problems, whether true change is on the way remains to be seen, but at least this particular part of the ride is fun.
The Rock was his usual self, only took about 20 seconds to say "scrotum" and threaten to sodomize CM Punk with an ice cream truck, but he had his moments. When he put his serious face on, he was good and seeing him work with someone completely unfazed by the "Rockisms" was a breath of fresh air that hasn't been seen in at least a decade, probably longer, and it made The Rock better.
All that said, I know it's only January 8, but no one is going to beat "your arms are too short to box with God" as the quote of the year.
Overall, two great matches and an excellent finale made Raw with the journey. But these three hours are still hell to wade through and when you have to rely on 3MB for four segments, you just don't have the roster to keep going at this pace.