Extra Mustard's Monday Night Raw Recap: Triple H and the world's best promo
If you want the whole world to pop, just play Vince McMahon’s theme music. In the grand hierarchy of awful rap-metal wrestling crossovers, nothing will ever flaunt the same inexplicable catchiness of “NO CHANCE, SUMMTHAT’S WHAT YA GOT?”
I wasn’t even in the same room and immediately had to rush back to my TV going “OH MY GOD OH MY GOD OH MY GOD.” A Vince return is always worth the first 15 seconds or so.
What Vince Was Actually Here For Was a Bummer Though
But yeah, those 15 seconds run out, the P.A. stops blasting “NO CHANCE” and… yeah.
It’s Vince McMahon telling us that we should get the WWE Network because it’s free in the month of November. It’s literally the man who owns the company putting over one of his most crucial enterprises because he wants to make more money and shareholders are terrifying. I get it. It’s fine. But it’s also emblematic of WWE’s larger problem with its Big Moments machine.
It’s no secret that top brass has fallen into some trouble trying to elevate characters to meaningful places outside of a select few at the top of the card, and a cheap, effective alternative to that is simply wheeling in old dudes you remember from the ‘90s to rev up momentum. It’s why Hogan seems to show up every other week for purely inconsequential reasons. Vince is here to get a couple thousand YouTube hits, and that’s it (you’re welcome for embedding that video, WWE. I’ll expect your check in the mail). Sure, he drops the hammer and reveals that if The Authority lose at Survivor’s Series they’ll no longer be “in power,” but don’t be fooled by the put-on stakes; this is all pomp and circumstance.
I know that pro wrestling is like 80 percent pomp and circumstance, but I still wish Vince’s return could’ve been for something grander.
Okay, I’m in on Bray and Dean
Cesaro and Dean Ambrose wrestled. It was mostly good, but it loses points for being a rematch from last week’s Smackdown, and also because last week’s Smackdown was a freaking Halloween streetfight and had spots where Cesaro was suplexing both Dean AND a skeleton, so anything else was inevitably going to pale in comparison. I’m still sad that Cesaro is getting used as an alpha-level jobber, but at least he’s on the show.
The main thing here is how Bray Wyatt appeared about halfway through, and just kinda sat in his rocking chair as Cesaro and Dean went at it. This went on for a while until Dean won the match and Bray… literally disappeared.
Seriously, we went to black, and all that was left was his rocking chair.
That was pretty awesome! Last week I complained about the relatively short amount of time the Dean and Bray feud got, especially after that lava-hot finish we had at Hell in a Cell. But now it seems that they’re teasing this thing along very, very slowly. Bray doesn’t even talk. It’s legit spooky, and will probably help the general fatigue some people have had towards his rambling. I’m putting faith that the WWE has an overarching plan here and isn’t just dripping the story out like molasses because they have no idea where they’re headed, but I can’t imagine something this main-event worthy would get shafted through blithering indecision.
I dunno. Maybe I’m being overly optimistic.
The Clock is Ticking on Damien Mizdow
Like the rest of the universe, I’ve had a good time laughing at Damien Mizdow over the last few months. The dude’s commitment to his role is unparalleled, and has singlehandedly elevated what should’ve been a disaster into a genuine highlight of the show.
But time is running out. Damien Mizdow needs to do something new before we all get bored.
Tonight, Miz is wrestling Jimmy Uso. Mizdow pantomimes brilliantly, and it culminates in the exact same distraction finish you’d expect. This is still mostly fine, but Mizdow won’t permanently be exempt with the same monotonous gripes that the rest of the roster deals with. Pulling the trigger on Mizdow’s momentum needs to happen soon. I don’t think we’ve got anything to worry about, because the WWE is clearly aware of his popularity, but they’ve certainly disappointed us before when it comes to niche guys accidentally getting over.
Triple H and the World’s Best Promo
Last week I thought Triple H lost the script a bit during his pitch to Cena. Apparently Triple H reads this blog, because yesterday he delivered one of the most concise, effective, and emotionally resonant promos I’ve heard in quite some time.
Essentially, Dolph Ziggler is prepping for his match, and Trips comes out to confront him on his recent dealings with one John Cena. It could’ve been some easy RESPECT OUR AUTHORITY flotsam, but no — Hunter goes for the gut. His thesis? “If you team with John Cena, and you win, who’s going to get the glory? You? Or John Cena? If you lose, who’s going to get the blame. You? Or John Cena?”
Oh MAN was that great. The best villains are the ones that make sense, and here Hunter is working a clinic. He’s absolutely right. Ziggler is destined to be ancillary, a third or fourth figure in Cena’s shadow. Triple H knows that, and he’s empathizing. “I know you bust your a** harder than anyone in that locker room.” They both know full well he’s a better wrestler than Cena; Hunter is just asking him to finally start rebelling out loud.
Cool. Cool, cool, cool.
Ziggler refuses, because after all, The Authority haven’t proven to be the most trustworthy people in the world, but it’s still some of the best character work I’ve seen on the show in forever, certainly much better than that Cena flop from last week. It’s not that hard to write a good wrestling show guys. Just have the evil character use indisputable, real-life facts to make their points and it immediately becomes an all-timer.
Outta Nowhere, Part 374
This also set the stage for a wonderfully floppy Ziggler/Rollins match, two dudes who have been on fire lately. It’s great in all the ways you’d expect a mid-show feature Raw match would be — they aren’t really brining anything new, but that barely matters. We also get the solidification of Randy Orton’s face-turn, as he interrupts Rollins’ sinister with an RKO outta nowhere, setting the stage for an Orton/Rollins blow-off main event. That’s right, Seth Rollins is such a good heel he’s working two matches in one night.
But (**SPOILER ALERT**) Randy Orton is about to go shoot a movie, so he’s just been injury-angled into oblivion. It’s a bummer; dude is cutting some of the angriest promos of his career, and his momentum has to get stunted on some straight-to-DVD business. But it does mean that when he returns in a month we’re going to get the most glorious RKO-outta-nowhere in living memory. I’m already pumped.
Babyface Randy will eventually burn us all out. The guy is a natural heel, and his moments as a good guy come off stilted at best and inexplicable at worst. That being said, I really had a good time rooting for him tonight. We’ll see how long he can keep that momentum going.
Mark Henry and Big Show is a Boring Feud for Boring People
Let’s not pretend we haven’t seen this feud a million times, and let’s not pretend that we’re actually interested in slow, trudging hoss matches by dudes who can’t walk without mangling ligaments.
I love Mark Henry and Big Show. They’re underrated on the mic and totally have some solid in-ring work left in them. But when the origin of a feud is… “he tagged me in too hard,” you better be able to BRING IT, and Henry and Show simply cannot BRING IT anymore. I watched Show do a top-rope missile kick last weekend on the Network; those days are long gone. These guys have worked together long enough to deserve some actual context. This is everything Triple H and Ziggler wasn’t. Two big dudes mad at each other because they’re both big and the booking makes aesthetic sense isn’t enough anymore.
That being said, I’ll always pop for heel Henry doing the bloodthirsty “THAT’S WHAT I DO.”
A.J. Slapping Brie Bella’s Face Off
The Dust Brothers Are Feuding With Los Matadores Now and Everyone on the Internet Needs to Shut Up About It
There seems to be this belief that two men dressed up as matadors aren’t legitimate competition for… two men dressed in gold-and-black spandex and facepaint.
Is it devaluing the tag division when you have El Torito running interference? I mean, maybe? But let’s be real. It’s not like the Dust Brothers are any less silly. Not every storyline needs to be rooted in melodrama. Let’s enjoy this tiny little feud for what it is.
Oh Man They Actually Pulled the Trigger
So throughout the show, they kept hyping that after Raw, if you tuned into the Network, you’d see a match for the U.S. Title between Sheamus and Rusev. I didn’t watch, because I was hungry and Raw is already three hours and WWE never lets anything exciting happen on things that aren’t on cable, but I returned to the internet to discover that Rusev totally won clean. He’s got the United States belt, Sheamus passed out in the Accolade.
That’s awesome! I’m all for pulling the trigger on big stuff happening without it necessarily being on the marquee stage. I’m sure this has plenty to do with the Network’s month-long free status, and the Sheamus rematch at Survivor Series will be a boring retread for the folks that didn’t tune in, but I can’t think of a way to read this as anything other than a positive step forward. The WWE is letting things happen! That’s great news!