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How to Tread Water
July 10, 2012

by PyroFalkon
Master of the PyroFalkon Multimedia Empire, Incorporated
Read Pyro's Words
at Blogspot --/-- View Pyro's Videos at Youtube

There are many signs that one starts to get old. The ever-present sign in my case is my impending birthday on September 22, when I’m going to hit the big three-oh. (You have to say things like “three-oh” instead of “thirty” when you’re old because it helps you pretend you’re cool.) But there have been many signs in the last few years that the hilltop was a hell of a closer than the bottom.

The first sign I can remember was one Christmas three years ago. It was the first Christmas in Walmart where I was in close proximity to the toy department and had to field their calls. Now, I’m a nerd (in case the three of you who have never read my recaps couldn’t tell), and I prided myself on at least being aware of the trends and fads, especially things that came out of Japan.

So I took a call, and the lady asked if we had any Bakugan for sale. I could instantly tell it was a Japanese something-or-other, but I found myself asking “What’s a Bakugan?,” and that’s when I knew it was time to start looking into AARP memberships.

The latest sign though happened just a couple days ago. Walmart has been blasting music for a while in an effort to appeal to shoppers and raise employee morale, and they do this by playing a variety of music from REM to Beach Boys, meaning their CD is as schizophrenic as my MP3 collection. But then they played this song I’d never heard of, and I thought the female singer was pretty shitty, but at least it didn’t annoy me. Until, of course, it came to the chorus: “Baby, baby, baby Ohhh!”

At least I recognized the chorus, if not anything else. Indeed, I had never heard Justin Bieber sing, any of his songs at all since I tend to avoid the radio like a plague; I only remembered the line from when South Park mocked him in an episode that I don’t remember. And instantly, I understood all the annoyance and jokes shared by many heterosexual guys under 18 and every adult. He’s as harmless as the Spice Girls, but just about as irritating to listen to. (And whoever is rapping in that song needs to be run over by a cement mixer, or at least be forced to hone his craft in another Rachel Black song.)

But still, being unable to recognize one of the most popular current artists was a blow to my ego. Like I said, I was aware of Bieber (how can you not be?), just like I was aware of many of the awful (and good) bands when I was growing up. But the difference is I at least gave songs like “Smells Like Teen Spirit” a listen, even though I wasn’t fond of that one too when I first heard it. (That previous independent clause just caused Rick’s fists to clench momentarily, whether he wanted them too or not. Don’t worry Rick: I’m not that stupid anymore!) [Ed. Note: Now say, "The Foo Fighters are the greatest still active rock band in the world and 'Lex Hives' is my favorite album of the year so far," and I'll be truly impressed.]

So: out of touch with trends, out of touch with music, annoyed with teenagers, and lamenting my growing gut every day. Yeah… I’m old.

But not too old to enjoy WWE RAW! So let’s get to this episode so we can spare you any more of my longest precap in, like, weeks.

Segment 1: Once again it’s AJ out to start the show, this time covering her midriff and thus making me sad. But hey, who can stay sad at those eyes? Those crazy, crazy eyes?

AJ gets a weird mixed reaction as she stands in the ring with a mic, which soon turns into a random “Yes!” chant for no reason. Then she speaks: she’ll be the guest referee for the CM Punk vs. Daniel Bryan match this Sunday! Which we know! She’s overwhelmed and emotional because of the implications of her actions as the ref.

So for now, she calls out Punk, who hits the ring and doesn’t quite know why she’s calling him out. AJ gets emotional as she recalls that Punk said AJ was “mentally unstable” and “needed professional help.” She also said this happened last Friday, evidently forgetting about the live Lame American Bash. Anyway, AJ rejects the labels because she’s so totally lucid all the time; but, Punk’s sentiments for her are so totally romantic and charming. Meanwhile, the crowd fires up a chant that I think was “A-J’s Cra-zy!” And if that wasn’t what they were chanting, it really should have been.

Anyway, AJ goes on that she’s so totally in love with him after smooching him after that aforementioned sentiment. She starts complimenting various features of his anatomy with a heavy romance novel flavor (“Your eyes send love straight into my heart!”), and it’s hilarious in the right way. Punk meanwhile looks nervous as hell and probably wants to be anywhere but there, even as she says that Punk turns her on. Literally, she said “You turn me on.” This brought a “Yes! Yes!” chant mostly from the guys, which kinda scares me.

So with all this love, AJ says she knows what she has to do. She lowers the mic… takes one step back… and gets on one knee. Punk continues to gush sweat as she looks on with her crazy eyes and delirious grin as she asks Punk to marry her.

Punk alternates between facepalming and running his hand nervously through his hair. Before he can answer, Daniel Bryan comes running down the ramp screaming “No!” a thousand times, meaning he’s learned how to have two catchphrases. He’s been learning from Chris Jericho after all!

DB says AJ is making a huge mistake here, and that everyone knows that Punk doesn’t love AJ. DB is sure Punk is just playing AJ, since she’s the guest ref and all. DB however may have hurt her in the past, but he never stopped having feelings… for… her… What the hell am I recapping? “Action soap opera,” indeed.

Punk says that DB doesn’t know anything about him, so just shut up. Well fine, DB calls his bluff: “Say ‘I do!’ ” Wouldn’t he have to say “yes” first?

Either way, Punk sorta looks nervous, but DB doesn’t give him time to actually say anything. DB tells AJ that Punk sees her as a special referee, but he sees her as a “special person.” And in fact, he and she are so connected that they even had the same idea. See, he didn’t want to stop a proposal tonight, he wanted to make one. So now he gets on his knee and proposes.

Punk rolls his eyes and wonders, if DB was really planning this since this morning, where exactly the ring is. Clearly he doesn’t have one, and Punk says basically the same thing about DB playing AJ too. Punk says that he and AJ can go to the back and talk about things, and—

Ding ding! And Michael Cole wants everyone’s attention! The crowd boos the shit out of things, and Punk looks annoyed. But it’s true: Cole walks over to a black-covered thing, which he reveals (eventually, given that he jobbed cleanly to the black cover) the podium with a laptop.

So the Anonymous RAW General Manager announces through Cole that he loves the love triangle, so he makes a match: Punk and AJ vs. DB and Eve tonight. DB says “No!” a hundred times, and the ARGM announces that, hell, maybe AJ will see DB in a different light if DB indeed beats Punk. Either way? Good luck to everyone!

AJ gets the last word and says she’s super-confused, knowing that her proposal to Punk was shocking, and DB’s proposal to her was also shocking. So we all need to time to think… but she’s super-excited about this match, and she thinks that everything happens for a reason. Ergo, she’s sure that she’s going to leave the arena tonight with her future husband. [Ed. Note: it is here that my Inner Smark remembered that AJ travels with Kaitlyn, so they'd be leaving the arena together. And this is why you shouldn't be afraid of gay marriage, you stupid Republicans.]

She leaves the ring and merrily skips away up the ramp. DB and Punk look on confused, and we go to commercial. Good long opening and pretty fun, as long as you remember you’re basically watching a bastardized version of “As the World Turns… and Runs Into a Brick Wall.”

Post-Segment 1: A title card shows us that the main event tonight is Big Show and Chris Jericho teaming up against John Cena and Kane. Two things: it seems Kane has turned (or at least solidified his tweener status), and it’s the reunion of JeriShow! Fun!

Segment 2 [Singles Match]: Sheamus squashes Jack Swagger by pin. Meh.

Post-Segment 2: Some honking is heard, and it seems Alberto Del Rio is in the back with a camera and his newest car. He congratulates Sheamus on his win, but reminds him that Swagger is no ADR. He’s so totally going to take the World Heavyweight Championship on Sunday, so there.

Sheamus is so annoyed in the ring that he gives Swagger a second Blarney Boot.

Segment 3: Santino Marella is in the back, congratulating Zack Ryder for becoming the SmackDown General Manager. Zack thanks him and is totally sure he’s got more personality than the “stupid computer” running the show tonight. Probably not the best thing to say while the show is going on ,you know?

Speaking of the ARGM, Santino heard that he’s in the building somewhere, and he’s going to make it his mission to find him by the end of tonight… with a magnifying glass and Sherlock hat. Good luck with that, buddy.

Cut Scene: The Rock will be live on the 1000th episode of RAW in two weeks. Yay!

Segment 4 [Tag Match]: Tensai & Dolph Ziggler (w/ Sakamoto) reverse-squash Christian & Tyson Kidd by pin. Vickie Guerrero was on commentary here. Very time-compressed match, we didn’t see anyone’s entrance, and the entire thing lasted under two minutes. The faces had early offense against Dolph, who tagged out and, with Sakamoto’s help distracting the ref, quickly put Christian down and did his senton splash to make the pin.

After the match, Tensai powerbombed Kidd against the edge of the apron just to be a jerk.

Segment 5: Jerry Lawler and Cole start arguing about who would make the best GM. Cole starts waving his hands, which strikes Lawler’s water and splashes him in the chest. The ARGM pins the arena, and Cole heads over to read it… then decides not to read it aloud, and storms away. So Lawler reads it instead, and the ARGM has booked a WrestleMania rematch between these two. Seems the ARGM had a face turn, huh?

Pre-Segment 6: Brodus Clay and the Funkadactyls make their full entrance for a singles match. Drew McIntyre is the opponent, and after the song ends, he says, “Why are we watching this? It’s the same song and dance every week!” Ha, even funnier with the Scottish accent.

Segment 6 [Singles Match]: Brodus Clay (w/ Naomi & Cameron) squashes Drew McIntyre by pin. Meh.

Segment 7: Santino is still on his mission, and he finds and accuses Chris Jericho. CJ says that he totally isn’t the ARGM, and who’s to say it’s not Santino himself who’s the ARGM? Santino considers that, then runs off to continue his investigation.

That’s when Big Show arrives in the locker room. CJ reminds him that they were once one of the greatest tag teams ever, and so they have a chance to really cripple John Cena and Kane for the RAW Money in the Bank match.

Show cuts him off and says some of his most embarrassing moments came from being a part of JeriShow, so let’s try something new: CJ stays out of Show’s way, and Show won’t have to punch him in the face. Show storms away, and CJ’s pissed. Curious how that’ll play out in the main event.

Segment 8: Stephanie McMahon shares a different memory of her RAW. Back in 2002, when apparently she was playing a heel and he trashed her while they were renewing their wedding vows. I don’t remember this; that was when I was still on my pro wrestling hiatus.

Pre-Segment 9: Oh, sorry, I guess the Cena tag match wasn’t the main event, as it’s starting now. The ovation for Cena is so loud that I can’t discern his pre-entrance words, though it’s not all cheers.

He hits the ring to talk first though, and as his music dies, you can hear it’s solidly boos. Cena hypes Money in the Bank, both the PPV in general and his match in particular. He lays out the rules of the match and the payout for some reason; are a chunk of their viewers new ones or something?

He fills time by saying a whole lot of nothing, concluding with the fact that we can all tweet the declaration that he will win MitB. That’s when Kane hits the ring, though he has nothing to say as he blows his corner pyros. Then JeriShow hits the ring (separately), and we move on…

Segment 9 [Tag Match]: John Cena & Kane defeat Chris Jericho & Big Show by disqualification. Decent match that heated up toward the end. Good crowd reaction and decent action, but nothing overly surprising. Still, it was so long that it spanned two commercials. It’s like WWE is attempting to make good from having three squash matches in the first hour.

With Cena as the face in peril to Show’s offense, Cena got a fantastic hope spot as he ducked a punch and hit Show with a belly-to-back suplex with a bit of a high angle. Cena’s body strength is just absurd.

Cena got the hot tag at that point, but Kane’s efforts were thwarted as he whiffed a top rope flying lariat. Show countered with a Spear but surprisingly couldn’t seal it.

Kane then became the true face in peril, this time to CJ’s offense. Nothing noteworthy there, but Kane delivered the second hot tag. Cena went on a tear, FU’ed Kane, dropkicked Show off the apron, then made the pin. One, two… Show pulls Cena out of the ring!

…And the bell rings? What the hell, WWE?

Post-Segment 9: Show levels Cena and Kane, then grabs a ladder and uses it to assault absolutely everyone. He even sticks Jericho between the ladder rails and compacts him like a walnut. But then Cena finds a ladder of his own and starts attacking Show, using it to knocking Show over the top rope and to the floor.

Cena stands alone in the ring, and I guess that’s enough of a victory to play his music and let him celebrate. I don’t know, that seemed a little… tepid, didn’t it?

Segment 10: Punk is working out in the back as he awaits his mixed tag match, and Eve arrives in her ring gear. She actually wishes him luck, and he sardonically wishes her luck in the match too, and good luck “in getting off all that spray tan” afterwards.

Eve lets that pass and explains that she wasn’t talking about the match; she was talking about AJ. AJ is, after all, highly emotional and will probably do something crazy to Punk if he refuses to say “I do” tonight, such as intentionally cost Punk the title on Sunday. After all, she knows it’s tough for CM Punk, since he’s being overshadowed by The Rock, Cena, Brock Lesnar, Big Show, and everyone else. But now he’s being overshadowed by AJ, and that has to be emasculating.

Eve leaves, and Punk looks even more angry.

Segment 11: Santino continues his investigation and finds a cell phone that, for some reason, he knows belongs to the ARGM. Then Khali appears and… well, stupidity ensues. The point is, Santino is no closer to finding out the mystery identity, but he runs off anyway as he continues his search.

Segment 12 [Singles Match, winner goes to SmackDown’s Money in the Bank match]: Sin Cara defeats Heath Slater by pin. Practically a squash, basically nothing happened here. I’m honestly a little surprised they’re putting Cara in an MitB match given his injury history.

Post-Segment 12: Cara leaves, but Slater doesn’t. He grabs a mic and says that he’s super awesome and cool, and he’s a future champion and Hall of Famer! So damnit, bring out “any former champion” and he’ll beat him!

And, uh, here comes Bob Backlund. Huh. The crowd fires up a “You still got it!” chant despite him not doing anything yet, and Slater gives him a cheap shot. After a couple moves, Backlund ducks a punch and locks on the Cross-Faced Chicken Wing. Slater taps out, but there’s no ref as this isn’t a match, so Backlund keeps the move held for a while.

Segment 13: I wasn’t going to mention it since it wasn’t relative, but the ARGM didn’t exactly say the Lawler/Cole match was a certainty. Instead, they tossed it to a WWE.com poll, and only now they’re revealing the results. Predictably, the match is on. Surprisingly to me, it was only 3:1 in favor. I’m a little surprised that the ratio wasn’t more extreme. I’m not saying I want to waste time watching it, I’m just surprised more people weren’t in favor.

Anyway, Cole blathers that we all suck, but we fade out as we go to commercial.

Pre-Segment 14: Booker T and Josh Mathews have hit ringside to be commentators now that Lawler and Cole are in the ring for their match.

Segment 14 [Singles Match]: Michael reverse-squashes Jerry Lawler by stupidity. Cole started by running away, but Booker T grabbed him and tossed him back in. One airplane spin, Jerry makes the pin, and it’s a squash.

Then the ARGM pings the arena, so Mathews takes the honors. The ARGM says that because Booker T “blatantly interfered,” he reverses the decision, so it’s a reverse-squash. So very, very dumb.

Post-Segment 14: And here comes Santino Marella? He says that he’s searched everywhere in the arena, but he can’t find him. So if he searched everywhere, and the ARGM is definitely in the building tonight, then the only remaining place he can be is under the ring.

The ARGM pings the arena and says “No I’m not. There’s totally no one under the ring sending anonymous orders.” Santino Holmes isn’t wearing the hat for nothing, so he leaves the ring… and he starts getting dragged under it. Lawler springs into action to pull him back… and out comes Hornswoggle, holding onto both Santino’s ankles and a laptop.

Horny gets chased into the ring, and Lawler decides to be blunt for all the retarded viewers out there: “Are you telling us that you’re the one who’s been causing all this trouble?” Horny nods. When Lawler threatens to take Horny over his knee and spank him, Horny kicks Lawler in the shin, bites Santino in the ass, kicks Cole in the shin, and leaves. Yes, that all just happened.

The best part about that whole reveal? The crowd was absolutely dead. No boos. No cheers. Just deafening, 100% apathy. Which is absolutely the best, most correct action they could have taken. WWE should have just let the storyline and identity lie in the past and not have ever acknowledged it. Instead, it’s just a major disappointment. Idiots.

Segment 15 [Mixed Tag Match]: AJ & CM Punk defeat Eve & Daniel Bryan by pin. Short match and decently executed given its length, but it was practically a squash. Decently entertaining I suppose.

Early in the match, Punk was on a tear, then went for a spinning back fist. DB ducked it, causing Punk to slip and fall on his ass. DB immediately followed up with a running knee to Punk’s chest to start the offense. That was the exact sequence of events that led Anderson Silva to beat Chael Sonnen at UFC 148 this past Saturday. Either that’s one hell of a coincidence, or both Punk and DB enjoy UFC. (David Gomez from Pure Gold tweeted to me that Punk and Sonnen are actually friends. Interesting, and a neat little shoutout, but perhaps a bad shoutout.)

Unlike Sonnen, Punk managed to fight out of it and start fighting back. That’s when AJ tagged herself in, then proceeded to get the crap beaten out of her. Eve looked pretty solid, having more punchy-kicky moves than she used to use. Either she’s been training and augmenting her move set since the last match, or she’s now allowed to show off her real moves.

Anyway, AJ started to comeback, so Eve crawled to DB for a tag… but DB hopped off the apron and stayed away. Eve looked confused, and AJ snuck up behind her and wrapped her up with a schoolgirl pin for the win.

Post-Segment 15: DB gets a mic and says he totally proves that AJ means more to him than any match. Ergo, they should leave right now and get hitched.

Punk stops her and says that he won’t use AJ like DB is doing. He says that DB doesn’t want to marry her for her sake, but to continue playing her. And Punk doesn’t care if what he’s about to say will cost him the match and the title: he will not marry her. Hopefully she sees that he cares enough about her to tell her the truth.

AJ is in tears and walks over to Punk, and stiffly slaps the neckbeard off him. DB laughs and gets in the ring, opening his arms and offers for AJ to “come home.” AJ walks up to him and slaps him in his goat face too. Then AJ starts chanting “Yes!” and merrily skips out of the ring, then does the “Yes!” thing some more on the stage as we fade out.

Final Thoughts: Huh, okay. That was a hell of a trip to get to AJ being neutral. She’s certainly stealing the show in the storyline, I’ll give her that much.

Still, I need to remind you that this is supposed to be professional wrestling, and I don’t think four squashes and two near-squashes (one of which featured a totally thrilling announcer vs. announcer match) really qualifies. The only remotely good match featured a stupid ending that flies in the face of God knows how many years of tag matches, and the non-wrestling segments didn’t really add anything to the brand (or, in the case of Horny as ARGM, actually detracted from it).

Still, it didn’t actively annoy me (other than Horny). I’ve seen worse RAWs before, but trust me, you don’t want to bother yourself with this one. It adds nothing to MitB, and in fact if you happen to be tuning in for the first time, you’d probably avoid MitB based on this episode in a vacuum. [Ed. Note: and that's the real crime... they did such a great job in recent weeks, including last week's excellent show, that they apparently decided not to do anything rash. This was water treading all over the place: zero value-add for RAW's MitB, zero value-add for SD's MitB, zero value-add for Sheamus/del Rio, and a whole bunch of sillier-than-last-week melodrama to get us right back to where we started with Punk/Bryan/AJ. Whole lotta nothing to see here. Except for Hornswoggle. Which sucked. I'm still up for the PPV this weekend, but this RAW is none of the reasons why.]

I’ve got nothing more, so I’ll bid you goodbye, since it’s just about my old-man bedtime now. I’ll see you this Saturday for the SmackDown recap.

Episode Grade: D


SMACKDOWN RECAP: Bonding Exercises
RAW RECAP: The New Guy Blows It
PPV RECAP: WWE Night of Champions 2012
RAW RECAP: The Show Must Go On
SMACKDOWN RECAP: The Boot Gets the Boot
RAW RECAP: Heyman Lands an Expansion Franchise
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Losing is the new Winning
RAW RECAP: Say My Name
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Deja Vu All Over Again
RAW RECAP: Dignity Before Gold?
PPV RECAP: SummerSlam 2012
RAW RECAP: Bigger IS Better
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Hitting with Two Strikes
RAW RECAP: Heel, or Tweener?
RAW RECAP: CM Punk is Not a Fan of Dwayne
SMACKDOWN RECAP: The Returnening
RAW RECAP: Countdown to 1000
PPV RECAP: WWE Money in the Bank 2012
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Friday Night ZackDown
RAW RECAP: Closure's a Bitch
RAW RECAP: Crazy Gets What Crazy Wants
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Five Surprising MitB Deposits
RAW RECAP: Weeeellll, It's a Big MitB
RAW RECAP: Johnny B. Gone
PPV RECAP: WWE No Way Out 2012
RAW RECAP: Crazy Go Nuts
RAW RECAP: Be a Star, My Ass
RAW RECAP: You Can't See Him
RAW RECAP: Big Johnny Still in Charge
PPV RECAP: WWE Over the Limit 2012
SMACKDOWN RECAP: One Gullible Fella
RAW RECAP: Anvil, or Red Herring?
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Everybody Hates Berto
RAW RECAP: Look Who's Back
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Care to go Best of Five?
RAW RECAP: An Ace Up His Sleeve
PPV RECAP: WWE Extreme Rules 2012
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Sh-Sh-Sheamus and the nOObs
RAW RECAP: Edge, the Motivational Speaker?
SMACKDOWN RECAP: AJ is Angry, Jilted
RAW RECAP: Maybe Cena DOES Suck?
RAW RECAP: Brock's a Jerk
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Back with a Bang
RAW RECAP: Yes! Yes! Yes!
PPV RECAP: WWE WrestleMania 28




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