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RAW: ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW
You're On Your Own, JonJon
April 16, 2013

by PyroFalkon
Master of the PyroFalkon Multimedia Empire, Incorporated
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[Note: I'm not going to talk about the incident in Boston anywhere in the recap. This isn't the forum for it. Thoughts and prayers and all that, but that's as far as I'm going to go.]

I've talked here before about my significant lack of cooking skills, but tomorrow (or “today” by the time you read this) I'll be delving into the world of experimental cooking. It's nothing huge; today for lunch, I had some pre-made pasta salad that we sell in the deli, so I decided to give it a shot myself.

 
It's “experimental” only in the fact that I'm not using a recipe. Pasta salad is one of those dishes that is stupidly easy to make, especially given that the only actual cooking is the pasta itself. Otherwise, it's just throwing together ingredients in the right balance. I've got a white onion, grilled chicken, some black olives, Italian dressing, bacon bits (real bacon, not that unrefrigerated crap), and some shredded Monterrey jack cheese, so I think it'll turn out pretty well.


The trick will be trying to get the balance of the ingredients right, but it should be easy: I figure I'll start conservative, and if it doesn't taste chickeny enough, I'll add more chicken, etc. I figure the only way I can really mess it up is if I dump the whole bottle of dressing in it, or burn down the kitchen while boiling the water, or something. If you have any suggestions for other good stuff to add to a pasta salad, let me know!
 
[Ed. Note: you're lucky enough to live in Dayton, dammit. Take advantage of it! Forget the bottle of Kraft Italian... get your hands on a bottle of Pine Club House Dressing, and you will never think of pasta salad the same way again. And now, I'm officially jonsing for pasta salad. Thanks for nothing, Pyro...]

It may not sound like much, but for me, this is a huge step forward. Previously, my attempts at cooking basically anything have failed miserably, and I usually limit myself to boxed meals, like macaroni and cheese or whatever. I can grill all right, and I can bake a mean potato, but that's about all I can do. I know, it's just practice, but I usually don't have the patience to wait and fail at a meal that takes a half-hour or longer to cook. I have poor kitchen management skills, so I struggle when it comes to timing everything correctly so it all gets done at once. But I'm getting better, and if I can make something tasty that's relatively healthy, maybe I'll prefer that instead of dropping 50 bucks a week on Taco Bell.

But that's tomorrow for me. For now, it's time for RAW, so let's get to it!

Pre-Segment 1: No blathering, we're going right to a match? Sweet!

Segment 1 [1-on-2 Handicap Tag Match]: Randy Orton & Sheamus defeat Big Show by pin. So this was a return match after Show just left on the similar match on Friday. Nothing to speak of here: Sheamus got his ass kicked, Orton got the hot tag and was the savior, Show never came back. Show, in fact, ate the Brogue Kick and RKO to be put down.

Though, as JBL said, the takeaway here is that it took both finishers from two former world champions to put Show down. Show's a tough mutha, no doubt.

Segment 2: Replay of SmackDown, where 3MB tried to steal The Shield's gimmick. Smash-cut to Josh Mathews to interview them, and 3MB declares they're calling out The Shield on the other side of the commercial. That seems... not good.

Segment 3: Drew McIntyre is still killing the gimmick as Heath Slater cuts a promo about how awesome they are, and how The Shield so totally won't steal the spotlight from them, so they call them out.

Instead, they get Brock Lesnar, who quickly destroys all three of them. Lesnar's physical punch line is to F5 Heath Slater outside the ring, making him bash his knee into the top of the barricade... twice.

Paul Heyman materializes, then grabs a mic. In the ring, Heyman cuts a promo to put Lesnar over, then declares his intentions for a rematch against Triple H. See, Trips may have won, and that earned a crap-ton of Heyman's respect. But that just evens the record: he and Brock have exchanged victories, and Heyman wants a rubber match, specifically at Extreme Rules. Heyman does another verbal oversell, culminating in wanting Lesnar vs. Trips in a steel cage match, which seems like a downgrade from WrestleMania, but whatever. [Ed. Note: 10 years ago, I think it would have seemed like a compelling blow-off, but since then, WWE cage matches have been PG-ized to the point where we expect tons of cute escape teases, but none of the true attitude era carnage that Heyman kept referencing in his promo. But who knows? HHH vs. Lesnar is a match that probably seems like it should be taking place 10 years ago, so maybe they'll eliminate the escapes, make it pinfall/submission only, and bring back some of the brutality. We'll see.]

As Heyman concludes: challenge issued.

Pre-Segment 4: Time for a US Title match, but Antonio Cesaro wants to talk first. And by “talk,” I really mean “yodel,” which immediately pisses off the entire crowd. As easy heat to get boos goes, that was pretty solid. Lawler: “Is he trying to audition for 3MB?”

Segment 4 [Singles Match for the United States Title]: Kofi Kingston defeats Antonio Cesaro by pin, and is the NEW United States Champion! Oh hell yes, what a match! Just as I thought last week, I'd like to see them with the handcuffs a little looser, and they delivered. There weren't any specific high spots for the two of them, but remember that “typical” spot for Kofi could still be considered a “high” spot for half the roster.

The guys were silky smooth, and the chain wrestling crazy shit at the end was fantastic. We basically had about five or six near-falls that got countered and re-countered until Kofi hit his second Trouble In Paradise from a countered re-counter. Good stuff, and a clean match and finish. Hooray the second US Champion in a row by a non-American!

Post-Segment 4: Mathews materializes in the ring to ask how Kofi is feeling after the win. Kofi says “I brought the championship home, baby!” Again: you're from West Africa, buddy. I think you need to bone up on your geography, there.

Segment 5: RAW recap of Dolph winning the World Heavyweight Title last week.

Segment 6: Dolph Ziggler and company hit the ring. Dolph blathers, it's not very interesting. He basically says how awesome he is, and he has a hot girlfriend, and we're all jealous... Oh, and he's never going to lose the World Heavyweight Title.

Alberto Del Rio's music then fires up. ADR and Ricardo Rodriguez limp down the ramp together (which AJ cutely mocks), and once in the ring, ADR declares that he wants to invoke his rematch clause right the hell now. The fans are on board, and Dolph seems ambivalent, since he doesn't exactly want to fight, but he's not intimidated due to ADR's nagging injuries.

But the decision is taken out of their hands regardless. Vickie Guerrero appears on the stage, and surprisingly approves the match. A referee appears and clears the ring of non-competitors, and we get it on!

...Except not, because before the ref can ring the bell, here comes Zeb Colter and Jack Swagger. Colter basically says that no one deserves the title here other than Swagger: ADR doesn't deserve it since he's a hobbling mess, and Dolph doesn't deserve it because he defeated that same hobbling mess after Swagger did all the work.

ADR doesn't take too kindly to the words, so when Swagger gets in the ring, ADR goes right after him, then sends him packing by clotheslining him over the top rope. ADR then turns back to Dolph, but Big E. Langston has entered the ring and stands between them. ADR does some Broad Gesturing to indicate that he doesn't care and will fight anyway.

But now Swagger has recovered, and he trips up ADR from outside the ring, then wraps his leg around the ring post. Swagger follows it up with the Patriot Lock, and it takes three refs to pull them apart. So the rematch clause still hasn't been activated, but ADR is a total mess.

Cut Scene: After commercials, we see ADR in the trainer's room. No word as to what's wrong with him exactly, but it can't be good.

Segment 7 [Tag Match]: Team Friendship defeat the Prime Time Players by pin. Meh. Decent match, but nothing special, and I'm bored as hell with this matchup. Still, it gives the champs some momentum, especially because they've announced that we're going have the six-man tag match (teaming with Undertaker against The Shield) next week.

Segment 8: Ryback does a pre-recorded to-camera interview to “explain his actions” regarding his heel turn last week. It's a bunch of blathering but basically boils down to petty jealousy: Cena won at WrestleMania, and Ryback lost, so Ryback is unhappy.

He tries to give us some continuity, since Cena was pro-Ryback during Cena's injury when Ryback got the call to face CM Punk. But while Ryback is appreciative of it, he's “not an afterthought,” and no spotlight (including Cena's) can outshine him. He also is pissy about Cena not getting his back when The Shield has triple-teamed him, which apparently has happened six times by now. Oh, and not to mention that Cena eliminated Ryback to win the Royal Rumble.

This whole story is interspersed with video clips of the storyline milestones. I'll give WWE this: it's overproduced, too long, and too talk-heavy, but the overall package actually works. It helps justify the character turn, helps to remind us all of what happened, and it probably gives Ryback a chance to catch his breath and do retakes if he flubbed a line. I wouldn't recommend this technique for every turn (when it comes to good fiction, the rule is “Show us, don't tell us”), but it worked this time.

Still, not very interesting overall, but I don't like Ryback as a character, so... whatever. It served its purpose and totally hid any flaws Ryback may have in cutting promos, so it's definitely a net positive. Hopefully we can move on from the reasons now, and just get to the next chapter in the book.
 
[Ed. Note: I absooutely loved the story aspect and internal logic of Ryback's promo. They came up with a way to retcon things so that him being the Shield's bitch -- without actually getting revenge on them, which was the original plan for WM -- makes sense. And it involves Cena being a less than attentive friend. But man alive do I agree with the notion that, presentationally, there were problems. It's 2013, and fans have been trained to get things happening live and in the ring. They didn't pay $50 to sit in the arena and watch the big TV, so they chanted boring. And that, in turn, trickles down to the impression left on the home viewers. Too bad, because the idea behind it was surprisingly excellent.]

Segment 9 [Singles Match]: R-Truth defeats Wade Barrett by pin. Huh. Good match, nothing crazy special, and the win basically came out of nowhere. Truth slipped out of a Wasteland, spun him around, then hit his spike DDT that I don't think has a name. Weird.

Segment 10: Brad Maddox is talking to Vickie, and he reports that ADR is out for the night due to a knee. Then Teddy Long appears for some reason, and he pimps a match between Swagger versus Dolph. Both guys are on board, and Vickie says she likes the match. She asks if Booker T knows about it, and Long doesn't know, but apparently doesn't care. Maddox is cool with it, so Vickie goes ahead and approves the match.

Pre-Segment 11: Team Rhodes Scholars appear for a match. They cut a promo to put themselves over and get some cheap heat, but it's nothing really special.

Segment 11 [Tag Match]: Team Rhodes Scholars defeat Santino Marella & Khali (w/ Natalya & Hornswoggle) by pin. Lame, but harmless. Match ended with a bit of a clusterfuck outside the ring, followed by Santino getting rolled up by Damien Sandow. Sandow had a handful of tights, so it was a dirty pin, but whatever... nobody cares.

Segment 12: Back from commercial, and Jerry Lawler is in the ring. He says that Fandango is the first and only wrestler to debut his very first match at WrestleMania, and win. That sounds fine and all, but he segues into the facts that Fandangoing is a thing... and unfortunately, we get clips of it.

Hey, idiots at WWE: Do you know what made Fandangoing awesome last week? It was spontaneous and unexpected, and the sudden spike in sales for the music is pretty neat; a cute little viral craze. Do you know how to make it retarded? By pointing it out on goddamn television and not subtly telling people to do it. How about next time, instead of relentlessly hammering about something everyone else finds cool and trying to force “cool” down our throats, you shut the fuck up and let us decide what's cool and what's not?

Fandango then hits the ring, and... uh... wow... Pyro's Vaguely Hispanic Backup Fantasy Girl is looking extra smoking. Her hair is also down, so to be honest, she could be a different PVHBFG and I wouldn't quite notice. [Ed. Note: it was a different girl. I'm virtually positive of it. Seemed chestier and going more for sexy than elegant and beautiful, even on first glance, I thought. They're going to ween us off the original chick, which makes me sad, but they intend to eventually insert a trained chick from FCW/NXT into the role, on a permanent basis. That wasn't her last night, though, unless she dyed her hair and tricked me into not recognizing her.] Regardless, a lot fewer people are “Fandangoing,” clearly showing that we've reached the saturation point.

Once the entrance is done, Fandango dismisses Lawler, then invites the the crowd to go Fandangoing with him, which greatly pops the crowd and finally wakes them up. He invites them to pronounce his name correctly, before they all start being idiots together. The fans fucking cheer him, and then sing the theme, even without prompting. Johnny Curtis, to his credit, lets them get it out of their system.

Naturally, he hates the crowd's attempts, turning the cheers to boos, then tells us to go “Fandango ourselves,” which sounds pretty damn gross. The fans boo, but then start Fandangoing anyway as he leaves. Ugh.

I have to say that while PVHBFG is hot, she really needs to ease up on whatever extra crap she plasters to her face. Her forehead reflected more light than a mirror that directly faces the sun.

Segment 13: Matt Striker interviews John Cena, but Cena keeps it short and sweet: he heard Ryback and will totally kick his ass, or something, and handle his business tonight. Less is more, baby.

Segment 14 [Singles Match]: Jack Swagger (w/ Zeb Colter) defeats Dolph Ziggler (w/ AJ & Big E. Langston) by pin. Above-average match, but heel/heel isn't a great dynamic. The crowd was more into it than than they usually would be, though. The final sequence saw Dolph go for the Zig Zag, but Jack caught him and wanted to do a powerbomb. Jack couldn't get the angle right since Dolph was punching him in the face, so he just tossed Dolph behind him, making him guillotine himself on the top rope. As Dolph stumbled back from that, Jack rolled him up cleanly for the win.

Good result for the story: Jack wins over the champion, and now has reason to be in the title hunt. I'll try to ignore the fact that we've seen the “non-champion beats the champion in a non-title match” scenario a bunch of times lately (including twice tonight).

Post-Segment 14: Jack celebrates his way up the ramp, but he's jumped by Alberto Del Rio. ADR quickly dominates, then pushes Jack off the stage while applying the armbar. In other words, gravity and the angle assist in doing extra damage to Jack's arm. Four refs have to pull them apart, and the damage is done.

As Jack tries to reattach his shoulder, he talks some shit to Dolph, who is still in the ring. Dolph talks shit back, but nothing more happens.

Segment 15: Matt Striker interviews Sheamus... or tries to. Sheamus gets like one word out, and then Mark Henry comes out of absolutely nowhere and Spears him through the interview area backdrop while issuing a rather gross guttural scream.

Segment 16: Here comes CM Punk to talk, with Heyman in tow. Punk cuts a fairly face-aligned promo as he details the past few months. He says that he could never really “enjoy” his 434 days as WWE Champion because he kept looking to the next challenge, in that case battling The Rock. And then... “Where do I go?” Where does a long-term champion go? After The Streak.

Punk shows regret, or possibly humiliation, as he thinks about his loss. This one emotion—which is one more than Orton has in his entire body—triggers dueling chants from the crowd: “Undertaker! CM Punk!” Punk absorbs it... absorbs it... thinks... then hugs Heyman. He says something too quietly for the mics to pick up, and Heyman looks shocked.

Punk gives the mic to the Heyman, then just straight leaves without music. He pauses momentarily on the stage and, perhaps deciding he's not good enough for it, he goes around the stage, rather than going through gorilla.

Huh. I get that Punk may need some time off to heal injuries, but maybe this is also the seeds of a possible face or tweener turn? There wasn't a single heat-generating word in the promo, so unless Punk is trying to swerve us all, maybe he's going to go back to an “honorable” path and turn face? I can only hope.

Segment 17: After commercials, we see Booker T arguing with T-Long about whether Long is qualified enough to book a match, which is a pretty stupid argument to have (given that Long was GM for, what, four years?).

Anyway, Books doesn't like the idea that Swagger is #1 contender to the title, and instead just makes the obvious triple threat match. Whatever.

Segment 18 [Singles Match]: Nikki Bella (w/ Brie Bella) defeats Kaitlyn by pin. A full-length divas match? On RAW? Holy shit, I must be having comatose hallucinations!

Sadly, the match wasn't as good as it could have been. The crowd was basically dead aside from the cat-calling idiots, and it was entirely too slow-paced to work for the full length. There wasn't a story told, just the divas randomly beating the crap out of each other. It wasn't bad, but it just wasn't thrilling or noteworthy.

The commentary was neat in one part, with Lawler saying that he can tell them apart because “Nikki is larger,” a nice little allusion to her boob job. But then JBL hilariously and sarcastically chimes in with, “That's what women love: being told they're larger than each other.” I'm half-tempted to get the WWE app just to hear if the Bellas verbally rip Lawler a new one... Or I would, if I had any confidence WWE's “Creative” Team would allow them to do it.

Anyway, the match was decent but nothing special without any noteworthy spots. There were some solid exchanges, and the match was pretty open, so you weren't quite sure who was going to take the win. But at the end, after Kaitlyn did her sick alternate finisher (the military press drop to gutbuster), the Bellas did Twin Magic. The referee clearly doesn't look at boobs as much as I do (nor apparently bothered to look at their skin tone, given that Brie is suddenly a shade paler), as he couldn't tell the difference, so Brie was able to score the cheap pin on Kaitlyn to give her sister the official win. Unfortunately, the final blow was just guillotining Kaitlyn's throat on the middle rope, which was a pretty lame finishing move.

Segment 19: Here comes John Cena to call out Ryback. Blather blather, Ryback comes out presently. Cena basically cuts Ryback's promo for him (again hiding his weakness on the mic, good deal). The fans give a halfhearted “Boring!” chant, so Cena turns it around and says that the chants are because Ryback's to-camera monologue early was boring them. Nice; Cena's always good at playing with the crowd.

Cena's point is that he's not scared of Ryback because he's had huge feuds and such before. He respects what Ryback wanted to do, just not how he went about it. After more blathering, Cena disrobes and makes a generic threatening taunt. Ryback responds by leaving like a douche.

But as Ryback gets halfway up the ramp, The Shield appears. They surround the ring, and then go after Cena. Naturally, Cena takes the damage. Also naturally, Ryback just stands there and watches. After Cena is beaten down, Shield takes a look at Ryback. Ryback barely glances back, then just turns and leaves.

Ryback stops at the stage, then turns back to the ring. Shield hits their trademark triple powerbomb on Cena, and Ryback continues to just watch without any readable expression on his face. (Or maybe it's simply apathy.) Point taken, even though this was just about the most obvious thing they could have done.

Final Thoughts: The pacing was atrocious tonight. Way too many replays of last week, or even this week. Just about every angle was replayed at least once, and it was annoying. A couple good matches, but nothing was really noteworthy... You could safely pass on it, but you might want to check it out on heavy fast-forward.

My only post-show note here is a reminder that Undertaker and Team Friendship team up together to face The Shield next week on RAW for a six-man tag match, and I highly doubt it'll be the last chapter for them. I'll be entertained, but I'm not objective there, so... yeah.

That's it for me. Have a good week guys, and I'll let you know how that pasta salad turns out!

Episode Grade: C

 
E-MAIL PYROFALKON

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