IN LAIMAN'S TERMS #251 - Thoughts on RAW - 12-12-16
By Al Laiman
Dec 12, 2016 - 11:09:03 PM
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IN LAIMAN'S TERMS #250 - Thoughts on RAW - 12-12-16
RAW comes to you tonight from the city I was just in, briefly. Probably would’ve tried to go, but coming down with pneumonia seems like a reasonable excuse. Hoping to crank this out before I pass out, because yes I am that stubborn. In personal news though, my newest book is out, but it’s under a different name. I wrote it about the immediate post-election reaction, so I won’t talk about it too much since it’s non-wrestling related. Chris Kluwe did the foreword, so that was pretty awesome. Also, I’m revising and adding to Taking Bumps to release a new edition with contributions from Doc and ‘Plan as well. Meanwhile, all five of my previous books are also now finally available on Kindle as well as in print. Four of them involve wrestling somehow, so it counts. I refuse to use a Kindle, but Andrew convinced me to do it anyway, so there you go.
1. Oh snap, it’s another go-home show. Every two weeks now, we have one of these. I’m suddenly not so sorry I didn’t stay in Philly longer. Actually, I’m never sad that I left Philly earlier than I wanted to, because I always want to leave as fast as I can. And hey, “Previously, on Crap!” guy got the boot already! Wow, guess it went over like an anvil with people other than the jaded fuck writing a column too.
2. They also don’t start with the weekly first line of the show! How am I supposed to know what I’m watching if you don’t welcome me! Plus I can’t win at RAW Bingo without it, it’s my center space!
3. The New Day takes the mic to tell us a huge surprise. They’re gonna break a record or something, I think you’ve heard about it at some point. Some of these are sounding a little ominous, especially the ones about “having a chance” to do things. They thank Gramma, which gets a Gramma chant started… Welcome to Philly!
4. Big E calls himself the big meaty third leg… Pause. At least they’re having a little more fun than they have recently. I almost thought Kofi was gonna say he’s stylin’ and profilin’, but changed his mind at the last second. We’re opening with the tag match too, so it seems weird that they wouldn’t save a moment like this for at least the first hour’s main event. Are they about to walk into Rusev’s hotel room?
5. Graves says something about “dethroning the champs” but I swear he said “deep-throating the champs.” That would’ve put the Big E statement in a whole new context.
6. And now, the ultimate (no Warrior) question: Did Demolition make amends before this episode aired?
7. You know, while I hate the booking that led to them being a tag team, I’m starting to really dig the Cesaro/Lobsterhead team. It reminds me of what the Cesaro faction with Heyman could’ve been. Meanwhile on Smackdown, Biff lost his rubber match in about two minutes to the man I’d call the Black Hole of Charisma, but I already used that one. Jeez, what’s wrong with me? The fun drugs from the doctor must be kicking in.
8. The heat is all but dead in the building. I’m assuming that Philly fully expects them to win, mostly because they can’t hear the ominous commentary. Very opportunistic of Lobsterhead to tag himself in there, and son of a bitch, they brought back the Blair Witch camera movements for the forearm thing! More random darts thrown at the wall tonight?
9. Ooh, Cesaro saves a really close near-fall! Then he gets tagged in and cleans house as only he can. Maybe he’s extra motivated since someone told me Hero’s coming back! Holy HAM Sandwich, Batman, is it possible to win the HAM from doing moves emphatically? If not, it should be! Kicks, kicks everywhere! But they manage to just barely get the fall! What an opening match, and good on them! Now, they can lose at the PPV and we can all move on.
10. Wait, I thought at midnight they tied the record? They just got credit for breaking it! The show isn’t over yet…
11. There’s a HAM party awaiting the New Day with everyone who doesn’t have a match tonight. Hey, a Bob Backlund sighting! Remember when we had three months of buildup for that?
12. Crossfit Jesus has a talk show now? Okay. And now we’re gonna take time out for Byron to forget what show he’s talking about. It’s the unfortunate part of watching live.
13. They advertise that Rusev and Lana are gonna reveal what happened “behind close doors” last week. Given that I was there live for what was the Edge/Lita Live Sex Celebration, I’m already kinda glad I don’t have to sit through that level of awkwardness.
14. At the HAM Party, Steph gets something in her eye, and it’s not anything fun. D’oh, bet that’s not gonna end well for the New Day!
15. Now we’re cutting to recaps about Foley Sad Face. Ooh, Sami’s threatening Foley via Twitter. The plot thinnens. We’re gonna cut to a commercial during the Mountain That Wrestles coming out to yell at me, so a mostly-wasted segment of television.
16. Once we come back, Braun gets to stand in the ring while KO picks a terrible time to bother Steph. Think he’s gonna ask if he and Jericho can fight them for the titles?
17. After a hilariously bad attempt to make us think that Curtis Axel has a chance against Braun, we once again realize that Braun keeps getting rewarded for losing at Survivor Series and being a general dickwad. To his credit, Axel gets two offensive moves in, so that’s double of most singles matches he’s had. Another waste of time. Thanks for coming, Curtis.
18. Oh goodie, he gets a promo with Bryan and his purple shirt! Braun’s apparently not a fan of not getting a pat on the back first, He yells at everyone else before his music yells at us more.
19. Then, Mick gets confronted by someone who makes Twitter threats, and still plays the role of concerned father figure. They’re having the same argument they had in the ring, so that moment of fire with Sami was… you guessed it, entirely pointless. Sami threatens to leave RAW over it, which prompts Foley to say… he’ll call Daniel Bryan to work out a trade. Honestly, that’s where he should’ve been in the first place, but hey, we’ve established now that there can be trades! Neat! I’d like to see further elaboration on how those rules work.
20. I haven’t wanted to see a new movie for about two years. Maybe it’s from cinema classes, but I haven’t stopped wanting to read books after lit classes, so I don’t know. But seeing movie and show previews on this channel definitely makes me think I’m missing something. I spend most of my life not getting most things like that, but it’s a lot more noticeable in that vein lately.
21. Cruiserweight action ahead, where they can do the Total Divas thing by talking about another show while a match is going on now. Daivari and Dorado? I dig it. It’s been utter shit since the tag match ended. After a minute of action, the crowd gets an alarm clock to wake them up because Gallagher is here! He announces his intention of interfering in this match and calls him a scoundrel. Stop the contest now, Gallagher wins the HAM. This is phenomenal (No AJ). After further elaborating on his desire to give Daivari a “thorough thrashing,” he reminds me of how much of a fan of alliteration I am. I love it. The rest of the night can suck like December to Dismember, and I will still love this show. I’m in bed and I’ve gone from overheated to ice cold, so it’s a great distraction.
22. Jack Gallagher needs to advertise his interferences ahead of time with “cake and sandwiches!” I know only about four of you will get that joke, but I don’t care. You’re welcome for that chuckle you just let out, Brian.
23. Great Moments in HAM FLASHBACK! Austin singing to Vince! Double HAM for the look of disgust on Vince’s face!
24. Now it’s time for the Crossfit Jesus Power Hour, trading snark with Kevin Owens about the Roadblock and such. How will this distinguish itself from the 14 other talk shows? Let’s find out. CFJ again calls again out again Triple H again again. He announces his plans for attack by revealing everything he’s going to do. Like a true Cerebral Assassin. At least Gallagher did it politely.
25. Kevin decides that walking to the ring is too much effort. Apparently he too wants to stay in Philadelphia as little as possible. Even in a tour bus, that drive out of the city sucks.
26. Is Tommy Wiseau in the front row? Ohai Seth!
27. Oh snap, Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho have a tag team title match? Who saw that coming? Jericho’s probably not a fan of that, and the bartender who’s hitting on you is about to explain why. What a reaction for him too! He even says “agane” correctly; show him how it’s done, Y2J! Jericho appears to contemplate whether or not he wants to have yet another tag team partner on his champions’ resume, but we have ourselves a main event.
28. CFJ dubs KO “Meat Loaf,” so I’m guessing he’ll get an RKO tonight too. At the mention of getting put on the list, Jericho’s face lights up like he just got an N64 for Christmas, but he teases it out and then denies the crowd what they wanted. The two charge the ring and CFJ defends himself with a stool, unsuccessfully. Looks like the weird cover band is back together, for now…
29. Side note, it’s really weird to see a face call down two heels, and for them to both accept and get the better of them. Before the damage gets worse, Roman Reigns’ music hits, and even Philly forgets they’re supposed to hate him for a few seconds. You’re not fooling me any more than the Garden crowd when Cena returned at the Rumble, Philly!
30. “We’ll take a special look at this match.” = Video package.
31. Mid-show doldrums, we come back to a backstage interview. But it’s with Rich Swann, so it’s more tolerable than most. Okay, Charlie the backstage interviewer not only matched colors with Kendrick, but is super duper psyched to interview Rich Swann. It’s a bit over-the-top, but at least it sounds like she gives a shit. As I constantly say about the wrestlers who look like they don’t: “If you don’t give a shit, why should we?”
32. Kendrick looks like he really doesn’t believe that ID is real, but TJ Perkins reminds him that it’s a Tuesday night at Chili’s, and they don’t have bouncers anyway. Great Rich Swann sign in the front row!
33. This match serves what the Cruiserweight division has been on RAW; good wrestling in between the angle-heavy feuds. I personally enjoy it, but even with two of the more prominently-featured stars of the division, it’s silent in the Wells Fargo/Spectrum/whatever bank owns that stupid building full of Flyers jerseys and regret. There, I made a hockey reference, and it only took 251 columns to get there. Anyway, Kendrick wins a decent match with New-Gen Mega-Man… Which I only know because of the other people in my house… And the triple threat should be fun Sunday.
34. Backstage, Rollins and Reigns are hanging out when Foley makes Shield and Doris Day references within 20 seconds of each other. He announces that those two are added to the tag-team triple threat, because in no way will they be hired mercenaries. I’m telling you, that’s not how they came in and that’s not what they do. Where’s the APA when you need them?
35. Video package time. Has anyone ever been elevated to a partially different level? Just wondering… It’s sometimes tempting to watch the Hulu version of RAW so all the fluff is cut out, but Monday night is when I want to see RAW. Outside of my wrestling break, it’s habit. But damn if they don’t make it a chore sometimes. And speaking of chores, and fluff, and difficult to watch, they have to take time out to further promote this Sing movie with the exact same damn songs that we’re already seeing every other commercial break anyway.
36. If the Network is so electrifying, why do you have to keep begging people to buy it?
37. Ohai Bayley, please bring some joy as you always do. Facing Alicia Fox over the flirting man thing and a pre-show thing… Oi. Charlotte and Sasha get iron man match, Bayley gets stuffed animals and Alicia Fox. I sincerely promise that I’m not trying to be cynical here, but they keep giving me reasons to be.
38. SJK just said “bae.” … No. Anyway, Bayley wins. Huge shocker.
39. Another pitch for the fucking Network?! Good JBL guys, one side-away to the commentary team pleading for it wasn’t enough, or do they always do this now again and I just miss it because my DVR allows me to skip filler?
40. There’s Lana and Rusev. What kind of crazy stuff did they do in that hotel room? Pictionary? I think it was Pictionary. Or Grape Escape.
41. Rusev has a full beard again, so I assume Big Cass will be on the way to kick it back off his face? He speaks about destroying all American heroes, though I think he’s clearly forgetting the legendary League of Nations. You know what, though? Rusev, for once, is clearly having a freaking ball with this segment. It’s endearing.
42. What isn’t endearing is reliving that entire hotel room beatdown. Oh, you mean they aren’t actually going to show the thing? You silly scoundrels, you! Cass, destroy. Okay, Lana parodying the spelling test was downright hilarious.
43. Now it’s time to see Cass’s long temper finally blow. Is his music still on? It is still on. Does that always happen? Cass says his pants are on, but I don’t see them. He then says he’s not Enzo, and it’s pretty badass. Exactly what I was hoping it would be. It’s a brawl, and it should be. It’s sort of a Kane and X-Pac dynamic, except the big guy has a much longer fuse. Rusev retreats, leaving more for Edge-with-Stilts to sort out at a later time. Mrs. Laiman was a big fan of that.
44. Backstage, KO tries for the motivational speech of the century on Chris Jericho, who is back to looking unimpressed. Then, we see Sami coming out for “what could be his last match on RAW.” He still gets to wrestle after demanding a trade? That’s nice of them.
45. Another vignette for Emma. Hopefully she’ll have a better run than either of the last two who had this many. I’ve been told she was supposed to debut tonight, but didn’t. So she got Curt Hawkins’d? Did they run out of room between all the filler? Speaking of having a better run, Sami Zayn gets to face… Jinder Mahal? Might as well give the crowd another nap before the main event. Sure, why not?
46. This match has zero heat. I get that it’s a go-home show, even though there’s one of those every two weeks at this point, but people paid to see this. The main event looks like it’s going to be great, and the opening match was good, but outside of the cruiserweight matches, RAW’s middle section is okay at best and dreadful at worst. If you’re going to have less-featured wrestlers on go-home shows, at least have them face each other so that the match result isn’t obvious the minute the other wrestler comes out.
47. Moment of Truth, (no TROOF), did Foley trade Sami? We’ll find out after this! Now that’s how you use a commercial break. Foley taunts Sami about being a “big fish in a small pond” for going to Smackdown. Wow, way to bury the other brand. And they agreed to trade him for… Eva Marie? That’s fucking insulting. Holy hell, Sami’s bringing the intensity! Ah, I see where they’re going with this! Nice! I like it. To tap into the dark side of a nice guy by pretending to not believe in him. Okay, I take back everything I said about this entire angle. Well done. That’s what I hoped Foley would do with someone like Sami Zayn. It’s perfect.
48. They’re really advertising the hell out of this Sing movie. I guess they had to in order to pay all those royalties. And now, more JBLdamn filler! Cena on SNL, I’m sure he had a blast, but isn’t this the stuff that should be on a pre-show?
49. Meanwhile, someone with red lights is in the ring while they preview other matches for the two-named next PPV. Now, recaps of what happened earlier. They really had that much of a hard time finding a spot to fit Emma’s debut in here somewhere? New Day comes out for the second time. Tito would call “Finger of Shame” on the champions defending in this match coming out before the other two teams.
50. Did Graves just say that CFJ and Reigns might not even be able to stand each other? Haven’t they shown them palling around for the last month at least?
51. New Day’s in with the serious main eventers now, and let’s see if they can make up for a less-than-stellar middle of the show, to say the least. Well done on pointing out the psychology of the Freebird rule to get Xavier Woods in. They’re gonna earn it, that’s for sure.
52. I love the way KO adds commentary to the match while yelling trash talk. Do you think Jericho intentionally gets his own team disqualified to screw over KO?
53. The fresh man in the match doesn’t appear to be helping their case so far. And it looks like we’re gonna get ourselves a six-man indy spot! Who cares, it’s awesome! I think Michael Cole just Doge’d, by the way. “Such action. Wow!”
54. I’m not sure what people are chanting, but it probably has nothing to do with what’s going on. CFJ blind tags in on Big E, and I love the utilization of those sneak tags. Speaking of sneak tags, does a Superman Punch to KO technically tag him in? Woods tags in, so I guess not. Oh yeah, Xavier Woods is in this match too, and he nearly gets a pin on Reigns. How delightful that would’ve been.
55. Everything picks up with CFJ tagging in again, but Jericho takes him out, then gets a Lionsault and a near-fall on Woods. That would’ve been memories of his Lionsault to Triple H right there in terms of crowd reaction.
56. To the surprise of absolutely no one, this is a fantastic main event. It doesn’t make up for the slog, but it has been fun. Oh no, dissent in the ranks, Jericho and KO start to spat, and wow, the New Day pulled it out! Good for them. That was a lot of fun.
57. Are they chanting “Eag-les?” Is that what they’ve been yelling for the entire last segment of television? KO and Jericho continue arguing, and please make this what it’s possibly been leading up to for months. Reigns sets up behind KO as Jericho bails. That was underwhelming for what the potential could’ve been. Reigns comes out on top at the end again. And apparently Die Hard is, in fact, a Christmas movie. All right then.
58. Overall, the highs were high, and the lows were low. Sami Zayn was made in one segment, the New Day matches were great, and Jack Gallagher is a new HAM contender by existing. But way, way too much filler, and what wasn’t pure filler was a waste of television segments. There wasn’t really anything in the middle here, but the good stuff was really, really damn good.
HAM OF THE NIGHT
It was a night full of HAM, but Jack Gallagher takes it without question.
5-30-16 - JBL
6-6-16 - Chris Jericho
6-13-16 - Enzo Amore/Xavier Woods
6-20-16 - John Laurinaitis
6-27-16 - The New Day
7-4-16 - The Club
7-11-16 - Bob Backlund/Darren Young
7-18-16 - John Cena/Enzo Amore/Big Cass/Karl Anderson/Doc Gallows/AJ Styles/Big E/Kofi Kingston/Xavier Woods
7-25-16 - Bob Backlund (Gonna Give it to Ya)
8-1-16 - Paul Heyman
8-2-16 - Dolph Ziggler
8-8-16 - Karl Anderson/Doc Gallows
8-9-16 - Becky Lynch
8-15-16 - Heath Slater
8-29-16 - Kevin Owens
8-30-16 - AJ Styles
9-5-16 - Fake Xavier Woods
9-6-16 - AJ Styles
9-12-16 - Mick Foley
9-19-16 - Chris Jericho
9-20-16 - Rhyno
9-26-16 - Chris Jericho
9-27-16 - Curt Hawkins
10-3-16 - Chris Jericho
10-4-16 - The Spirit Squad
10-11-16 - AJ Styles/Dean Ambrose
10-17-16 - Stephanie McMahon
10-18-16 - This is Dean. We like Dean.
10-24-16 - Chris Jericho
10-31-16 - Big Cass
11-7-16 - New Day
11-8-16 - Luke Harper
11-14-16 - Paul Heyman
11-15-16 - Tony Chimmel
11-21-16 - Kevin Owens
11-22-16 - This is Dean. We like the Mountie.
11-28-16 - Corey Graves
11-29-16 - Carmella
12-5-16 - Kevin Owens
12-6-16 - Dean Ambrose
12-12-16 - Jack Gallagher
Al Laiman, In Laiman’s Terms, and Inciting Incident are owned by It’s a Shameful Thing, Lobsterhead, LLC. Copyright 2016. All rights reserved. For media or inquiries, please contact email@example.com.