IN LAIMAN'S TERMS #258 - Thoughts on RAW - 1-9-17
By Al Laiman
Jan 9, 2017 - 11:19:53 PM
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IN LAIMAN’S TERMS #258 - Thoughts on RAW - 1-9-17
1. Welcome to Monday Night RAW, who is proving how the new generation of stars are taking over by bringing back Shawn Michaels and the Undertaker. We have a cold open with Steph talking to someone we can’t see… And Foley has cut his hair even shorter. Isn’t this some charming dialogue?
2. Crossfit Jesus joins them as they continue to imitate the Smackdown opener. Braun Strowman makes his entrance my yelling loudly with another or else. Or else what? Exactly. Conveniently Crossfit Jesus accepts the challenge and gets thrown for it. He attempts to use a fake plastic plant, which has more effect than 57 Sami Zayn forearms apparently.
3. Roman Reigns opens the show with the title he couldn’t give a shit less about, and at least they’re not wasting a ton of time? A handicap match for a singles title? Well, it’s different, I’ll give them that. But look at that, we’re four minutes into the show, and we’ve already got recaps!
4. Why does Chris Jericho look like Sheamus in that promo picture of the Reigns/Owens match?
5. Jojo has progressed in trying to do her best Lilian Garcia impression.
6. Braun hasn’t yelled enough, and seven minutes into the show, he’s already on the hunt. Roman looks to the other two like, “Yeah, I see him too, shut up.” Roman bails from the ring and Braun strikes him twice and… throws him back in the ring. We’ve got ourselves a clusterfuck opening, so the match will be later? Thrown out? At least they had the tease of an interesting concept, if nothing else. How will Roman overcome the odds this time?
7. Thanks cameraman, I didn’t get the emphasis without you shaking the camera up and down with each forearm!
8. Crossfit Jesus makes the safe, and he does… The Van Daminator? Roman strikes too, and are they going to do a Conchairto? Well… Sort of. More like a Conbackto… Or a con-severalfeetbehindback-to, but it counts for multiple nostalgic points, I suppose.
9. Steph comes out, uses the word “later” so he has no excuses… Right. Steph’s condescending heel in this segment, and I can’t tell if she’s impersonating her father or Paul Heyman announcing Brock. Either way, it didn’t work. We also get the announcement of CFJ and Braun, which was already pretty much implied by the cold open, but it might’ve been too subtle.
10. Braun decided to wait on the outside so that they could get through commercial, before they cut to a tweet showing us what we already know, and RAW does their best with camera angles to not reveal how empty that arena is. Chop blocks apparently only have three second effect on Braun before he completely forgets about it.
11. More slow stalking to delight the 47 people in attendance in New Orleans tonight. That’ll get ‘em with the hot opener. CFJ utilizes the beard for more brief reactions before magic recuperation, and more Braun throwing and yelling commences.
12. CFJ gets a one-count, and at least he’s wrestling someone who isn’t Jericho or Owens. Reigns… Not so lucky. How will he overcome the odds this time? Okay, that Blockbuster counter with a Musclebuster-like grab was awesome. Even Sir-Yells-a-Lot breaks through my RAW fatigue from time to time.
13. Braun uses the Big Show press-out, because this is going to be nostalgic reference tonight for both the show and myself. What can I say, I reviewed a terrible Sting movie on the GAMcast this week. Seth dives over the back turnbuckle, which is terrifying, and eats the security barricade for his effort. We’re gonna get a countout, aren’t we? Yep.
14. Inconclusive endings for the win, except not? Why not? Can’t have Braun lose, because that would ruin the gimmick or something. Somebody yells some bad words as CFJ assaults the ropes with a chair as if they had something to do with the decision. Those ropes did nothing to you, Seth… Unless you count turning purple during the cruiserweight matches, and that’s offensive to everyone, so that’s fair. Strowman retreats, and I’m sure we’re all looking forward to Strowman’s yelling entrance during the Rumble. Any bets on which cruiserweights take the aerial dive for the eliminations?
15. Oh man… GAM, bring me back for the HBK movie, please!
16. Now we’re back on the commentators, so how much more filler do we have in store this evening? More recaps, yay! Now they’re backstage to talk about what we just saw! Thanks for panning to her knee when she mentions it. Without that, I might think her knee is what’s holding her sunglasses. Optimistic attendance estimate for the Rumble. 60,000 for a non-WrestleMania? It’d be cool for the Rumble.
17. Heel slow-claps two faces talking. Emma Stone, Golden Globe, it’s funny cause it’s topical. When’s the Meryl Streep reference, and why is Charlotte pausing through her lines? Is she trying to garner some Walken/Shatner cred? We get the female version of a dickmeasuring contest before Nia Jax comes in with a cheap shot, and the two neon pretty girls get jacked up by the bad guys. Then Charlotte laughs like Cartman getting someone to eat mama-chili, and Nia treats Charlotte like Sting treats Jesus in the Encounter, almost to the second.
18. Now, more commentators, and Austin Aries. Must be a cruiserweight match, but instead, we have more recaps. It’s Jack Gallagher recaps, so it’s not as bad. Anyone who can do a flip-kick in cords has my respect, to say the least. Daivari is also suffering from chronic “yell the same thing repeatedly for emphasis” disease.
19. Jack Gallagher finally comes out to delight us with some British, Sheamus-like paleness and kneepadless HAM, but not before another commercial break. What a great use of a television segment.
20. We come back, as they waited for us to start the match, how nice of them. We’ve got Drew Gulak against an early frontrunner for HAM of the Year, and he demonstrates why with the greatest drop toe hold in history. The crowd is stone silent, so is pretty much all goodwill from the CWC gone? It’s almost like random matches with no context except on another show is a bad thing.
21. Gallagher’s mustache deserves one of those t-shirts from early NXT. I forget what the guy’s name was. Gallagher now uses the headstand on the turnbuckle like I saw Nigel do against Claudio once, and plays red-light, green-light with Gulak in the process. I love this guy. Gallagher wins in rather easy fashion. More of this guy, please. Good, solid, hard-striking moves with silliness mixed in instead of being distracting. Jim Cornette would be a fan.
22. Gallagher gets a promo too. Helping people get to know him a little better outside of the Network show, also a good idea. They could’ve paired him with Alicia Fox, but that spot was already taken. Gallagher calls for a truce on 205, and offers parle. Everyone who was a fan of Pirates of the Caribbean is saying “I know the code!” right now. Then, Gallagher drops the word “fisticuffs.” Love it.
23. Meanwhile, HBK meets with TJ to discuss all they have in common besides initial names.
24. Someone backstage talking to Foley has what would happen if a Widow’s peak were grown into a Rhyno projectile, and we get MORE Foley/Steph talking! My favorite! I never realized Foley was such an Undertaker publicist. His entire performance review rests on what a zombie special appearance guy does? What?
25. Time for some other raspy-voiced Texas nostalgia, as HBK comes out to make me feel bad for really wanting to already review the movie on GAM. The second half of HBK’s career was freaking legendary, and I miss his presence, not to mention his ability to pull a good match out of anyone on the roster.
26. I’ve missed HBK promos. I know they’re not really what he’s remembered for, but there was always a… I don’t know, genuine feel to them, though I feel I should start a “you know” counter. HBK shills for the Rumble while calling himself “H-B-Shizzle” and simultaneously making jokes about his age. What’s this leading to with HBK being there? Special guest “see if the feet hit the floor” guest ref?
27. The “one more match!” chant is screamed from the several people in attendance, and I suppose it’s always a possibility, even if it’s not a likely one. This is pro wrestling, after all. And now HBK reacts to the collective groan. At least his shill is made obvious, and at least he sells the hell out of it like an Irish whip into the turnbuckle.
28. And now, because heel, Rusev and his new flunky interrupts him. But with that upward angle on Lana’s legs… I just forgot what the hell I was talking about. Rusev does his best Goldust-2002 impression by insisting that his wife gets in it because that’s how movies work. Rusev goes for the bad, bad cheap heat by trying to make a Star Wars joke, and even to a non-fan that fell flatter than a Darren Young push. HBK talking about Star Wars sounds like me trying to talk about the space battles, so it’s unintentionally endearing on my part.
29. Rusev calls himself the Bulgarian George Clooney, and it’s not “stop booing my mother” but it’s close. Lana should’ve won the Golden Globe for existing, so that’s charming, I guess? But wait, what’s this, the perpetual Rusev throwing doll and his pimped-out chair make the character save. And they cut to a kid who couldn’t care less about this entire segment. Great spot, Full Sail camera guy!
30. Cass comes in to remind us that Jinder isn’t as tall as he looks with those previously standing there, and Edge-on-Stilts is there to back up HBK while Enzo gets to say nice things about the legendary face. HBK almost automatically wins the HAM for his yelling of “HATERS!” Is he gonna start randomly superkicking people down the aisle while being told he isn’t controversial now? I really hope so.
31. Enzo puts over Lana’s acting skills as being on-par with Black Hammer, White Lightning. Mine fell the hardest, mine are the deadest! Somehow they work an Adrien Brody joke into two people not getting it, because WWE does think you need the joke explained to you. More nostalgic movie references, yay! Edge-on-Stilts threatens to finish it (PLEASE!) and I’m sure there will be no HBK shenanigans whatsoever. Rusev offers him a match against Jinder Mahal, because we haven’t suffered enough yet. Somewhere, Hustle felt a shiver up his spine.
32. We come back with the match already in progress, with Edge-on-Stilts and one of the Social Outcasts getting the spot right before card death of Monday nights, 9:30-10:30. I’ve been watching the Monday Night Wars series on the Network (Which, if you didn’t know, was available for one free month!) and those comparative numbers make me yearn for that time when wrestling was popular when I was a kid.
33. Rusev gets involved, and it turns out that HBK can still hit that Sweet Chin Music. That leads to a Spinning What the Fuck was That? Hello, Botchamania, Edge-on-Stilts. We cut to the commentators, so it’s time for more recaps! Top of the show, ICYMI, joy. And then, more Paige clips for Total Divas.
34. So how is Emma not debuting again this week?
35. Next, we got us some purple ropes back, and Neville’s gonna face someone who’s already in the ring. Hey Lince, I’m so sorry, at least you got on the show! Neville is not impressed with Lince’s show of sportsmanship, and the Chikara fans in the audience are loving it. Handspring Stunner, awesome! We get a really long, moving-in extreme close-up (WAAAAAHHHHHHH!) of Lince before he finally jumps off the top rope, and immediately shifts into the cheap heart portion of the show. The dozens of people in attendance let the calls of the wrestlers echo throughout the arena. Some dude in the crowd with an Enzo and Cass is on his phone walking around. How the hell can you even hear anything?
36. Neville wins via submission, held longer for extra accented douchebaggery, and that means we get to hear his awesome entrance theme again. Neville then drives the point home with a post-match attack, because Neville fucking hates all of you. He’s one of the few heels whose genuine anger I actually believe. Good ol’ Rich Swann makes the swan-footed run-in and wakes up the several people napping because they thought the chorus from his song was gonna play. Neville escapes with his unfuckpunched head, and it’s almost 9:30. Time for more filler!
37. A Surf’s Up/WWE crossover? And meanwhile, in Steph’s rapid personality changes, Sasha demands something so Steph gets to talk down to yet another wrestler who will never get retribution. She then shows them by… giving them exactly what they want, except tonight? For someone who is so business-savvy, she apparently would really enjoy a liability lawsuit. Steph tries to do her best Vince snarl, and like everything else Cool Mom does as an authority figure, it comes off forced and lame.
38. Hey, a singles match where the Club wrestles and it’s not Karl. He gets on commentary to give us a four-person commentary table. We were jonesing so much to have that… Oh no wait, we’re gonna get a fiver. Karl is really pissed about not getting his time on commentary. He quotes Triple H’s theme circa 2000 to express the hour of his discontent. Here comes trouble!
39. After Lobsterhead receives the Quickening, Karl does his heel heelness say things bad guy much wow, and discount Fake Kane shows off his throat thrust while reaching back to cover his head each time. Interesting. We end up getting sent to a commercial with another extreme close-up (WAHHHHHHHHHHH!) of Lobsterhead right before he tries to sell us a Suck Cut.
40. Once we come back, the far side ring camera guy again demonstrates his need to emphasize every… strike… moving… up… and… down! It’s a great substitute for substance, isn’t it? “The kids love the video games, make it look like one! Try this! That works for the Duty of Calls, right! Throw it on there!”
41. Lobsterhead somehow manages to get distracted the second something happens on stage, and Gallows can’t quite take advantage of it. This time Gallows gets distracted long enough to eat a kick, and Lobsterhead wins. Oh, those silly rapscallions! Hearing verbally through the commentary that someone stands tall reminds me of reading recaps once upon a time where I wasn’t watching anymore.
42. Next, will Mick Foley produce the person previously advertised for tonight, or is he in for yet another McMahon humiliation and firing?
43. We come back with a recap of the first segment again, and Roman was nice enough to set the US title directly in camera view instead of dragging it like it’s barely an accessory. He gets an interview, because we were all clamoring for one of those, and he tries to psyche himself up by quoting the 2011 Miami Heat promo while grumbling about… something or other, I forget.
44. Now, Foley summarizes his sudden relationship with the Undertaker, talking about the scars he’ll take with him from that. Though truthfully, none can be worse than throat tattoo removal. He calls for one more encounter to have a discussion on who has had the most injuries and is somehow still standing and relatively coherent. That seems like a terrible chance to have a wide shot of a mostly-empty arena. I think there were more people at the State College RAW I attended in 2005 when a snowstorm hit the area.
45. We get the lights going out, but Stephanie is has to be a part of yet another segment of the show. Now we get the performance review we were all waiting to see so Steph can emasculate someone else. When Mick Foley became capable of producing the Undertaker on-call, I have no idea, but it works for this chance to have Steph run down Mick’s accomplishments by blaming him for no Taker. And yep, it’s Foley’s fault that Smackdown beat RAW in the ratings, not due to the quality of the shows.
46. Buwhaaaaaaa, Steph corpses while the Taker’s conveniently-timed gong hits. Does this mean it now isn’t his fault that RAW’s three-hour slog has been the less-watchable show? Steph is still smiling, and the mic picks up under-the-breath conversation of someone. Why is Steph smiling? Who knows?
47. Please Undertaker, take your time with the entrance, it’s less filler. So, okay, Foley… You got your other nostalgic appearance here, we’re cool, right? Taker walks around staring at how many sections are tarped off and feeling really depressed (though how would you tell?). He’s back and he’s pissed off! And he’s… Entering the Royal Rumble? That gives us a view of Strowman… We’re getting Strowman/Taker at the Rumble? Please don’t get hurt. Please don’t get hurt.
48. Taker explains that he answers to no one and goes where he wants when he wants to, right after he showed up to help someone out. He gets in Steph’s face, but even then she’s not even able to show a bit of fear, because what good could that do, right? He references the streak ending there, and man, there’s gonna be some Hosstastic Rumble spots this year, won’t there? He’s bringing the Dark Side with him, although I heard they were banned for ringside. I hope one day he’s able to pass the darkside power torch to someone with half this presence. The commentators repeat what he just said because we weren’t paying attention right then, and will that give us the confirmation of Foley’s performance review, or will he be Regal’d?
50. We come backstage with JeriKO giving us a recap, and KO’s as excited about hearing what we just saw as anyone else. KO does not find part-timers returning this time of year to be very endearing. Jericho saying that two Canadians should be the face of RAW and America… They’re supposed to be the bad guys, right?
51. Speaking of handicap matches, here comes Bayley for the two-on-1.5 in-no-way-a-legal-liability tag match. Ohh, Byron said “dethrone” the queen. It sounded like something else for a second. More recaps! They’re getting what they asked for though, and Sasha’s knee in this condition probably won’t mean good things for the faces in this one! Charlotte’s entrance is certainly a good time to promote another show that has nothing to do with RAW. Well placed.
52. We get enough of this match for the competitors to be mildly annoyed with each other, and we’re already in another commercial break. Stretch that three hours, RAW!
53. We come back with the leg being worked and people on Twitter saying things about the Rumble. Mostly quoting what he said, because that’s the best they have to offer. Charlotte and Nia are getting along quite well for two people who had a physical confrontation. Wow, slow-motion replay of a hair toss, that DID make it more epic! Transition moves… IN! SLOW! MOTION!
54. The number one contender gets pinned clean by someone who is not the champion, so are they gonna throw in another triple threat? I mean, it makes sense, it was already a handicap match with the injury, but Sasha with the tapout because of the knee would’ve also made sense. And now it’s time to delay the start of the main event as long as possible.
55. Meanwhile, Alicia Fox and Dar backstage continue the thing they’ve been doing, except… She kisses him and leaves lipstick all over his face. But no, he can’t handle a real woman? Okay. Thanks for coming, you two! Worth it for the 12-year-old who got to touch a boob once face.
56. Now we have New Day continuing their angle with Titus O’Neill. More recaps! My favorite thing! That takes us into another commercial break and more Paige references and another fucking rendition of Pizza Lang Syne. I wish wrestling could be mainstream just for a variety of stupid commercials.
57. We come back with Titus and the New Day in the ring again. Yay. Rehashing last week’s comedic hilariousity, Titus again asks for a chance to join the New Day. This is what they’re doing now that they’re not tag team champions. They’re going to reveal some footage of him looking like a bull in a china shop? Oh good JBL, it’s a NXT-reality-show flashback! He dropped a keg at a wrestling show, now that’s just silly! Big E makes Life Alert commercial jokes, for those who remember the early 90s references, and they… Oh, for fuck’s sake… They have another keg. Here Titus, relive how stupid NXT was before they made it a developmental league. It’s full of Booty Juice, and that’s so stupid that they can’t even say it at the same time.
58. What did Titus do to deserve this? Is it really still about the arm grab thing? He dropped it before he crossed, so wah-wah-WAH, he lost again. He got Lott’d while everyone tries to get the image of what Booty Juice is out of their heads. They’re still dragging this out. Keg-carrying isn’t for him, what a great thing to have in the third hour of the damn wrestling show. But yeah, it’s totes Foley’s fault that Smackdown is actually watchable.
59. New Day claims to give the Universe what they want, but I guarantee if you polled them all right now, none would say “reliving NXT Season 2.” Except maybe for Low-Ki’s slam rap. That didn’t make up for the shitty treatment he got in the rest of his run, but it was funny to remember for a minute. What a waste of time this last segment was. I’m gonna tell Matt to count all of it with the Filler Stopwatch.
60. So either the show is going long, or the main event is gonna be really short. At this point, I don’t care, I only want it to end. Even Xavier screams that they will not lose to Titus. That gets me invested! They go for the distraction via… Trombone, which is Titus’s Kryptonite now? And that makes a chase ensue, thus another unfortunate night on RAW for Titus. Big E mimics farting in his face to indicate in one movement what this entire two segments of television deserved.
61. Finally, the main event is coming up… At 10:50, after Michael Cole and the Gang shill the Network some more. Ooh, a preview show, to join the recap show! Regardless, I think the UK tournament will be as much fun to watch as the CWC was. Hopefully it doesn’t turn into the transitional part of RAW like the Cruiserweights have since then.
62. Here’s a stat Matt brought to my attention: the last episode of 'RAW' that did not have a match featuring Kevin Owens and/or Chris Jericho VS. Roman Reigns and/or Seth Rollins was...October 3. Let that sink in for a minute.
63. Bork Laser next week! At least that means a Paul Heyman HAM is a possibility. And then Roman comes out carrying the title in the way that Foley corrected him on, but he still doesn’t get it. I’ve seen sacks of potatoes treated with more respect. It once again reinforces my biggest problem with the guy: If he perpetually looks like he doesn’t give a shit, why should we?
64. For the second time tonight, Roman leaves the ring to bring the fight to them. It worked out so well for him before. Reigns then looks like he’s about to throw the best part of RAW in the cage prematurely, but his fellow Super Best Friend makes the save. For the second time tonight, the match doesn’t officially get on the way. If it wasn’t already 10:58, I’d swear they were about to cut it with a commercial break.
65. Let’s once again revisit a point from earlier in the night… These are supposed to be the bad guys. Jericho does his best to get the crowd to turn on him as the ref finally rings the bell. How will he get out of this one? Owens imitates Sami Zayn from their MOTY-candidate supposed last encounter a few months ago, This is a good chance to recap the entire show, Michael Cole. That’s for anyone who was unable to sit through the previous three hours without doing literally anything else.
66. I’m headed to three states in the next two weeks to meet people. I’m really excited. I wonder what a RAW will be like live. Hopefully better than it’s been for the most part on TV. We’ve seen Jericho lose to Reigns so many times that it’s impossible to take anything he’s doing to him seriously. Even both of them together, Roman’s busted out of double teams. Roman leapfrogs and… I think tries to hit the Superman Punch on Jericho? That was as awkward as Cass’s moment earlier. He also hits it on Owens and does his yelly thing. Jericho counters a spear, but then gets hit with one later. Like you do.
67. KO tries to do a thing, but Roman is somehow able to vault a big guy like that over his back and hit the move that he previously failed to do in almost the exact same fashion. Jericho also tries to hit a move, but gets hit with another Reigns trademark move. Finally, a leg-grab/Codebreaker leads to Owens utilizing the apron powerbomb. I’ve been told it’s the hardest part of the ring.
68. Jericho’s busted open, and the two of them are struggling to pull the dead weight of Roman. I feel like that sentence is somehow a metaphor for the last six months of RAW. They talk about toppling the Roman Empire, but unfortunately, the only goth they have to consult probably left earlier after announcing his Rumble entrant. And FINALLY, Jericho wins the US Title! It’s about fucking time, both for Jericho winning and Reigns losing it. Probably means Reigns will beat KO at the Rumble, but I’ll drink this moment in, MAAAAAAN. Unfortunately, that also means a rematch is coming in addition to the Universal title match, and it took both of them to do it, but for the moment, Roman doesn’t overcome the odds and win yet again.
69. So, about 42 minutes of commercials, and another 17:30 of filler, according to the Filler stopwatch. Jericho celebrates bloody, but he has the US title. Bittersweet but enjoyable end to a show with a few decent moments but was damn near unwatchable. They continue to bank on stars from previous eras to draw the fans in, because they make no consistent attempt to make many new ones. The new ones involve a guy they’ve been pushing to the moon since 2014 that nobody wants, and having guys who get big reactions languish, if not lose repeatedly while getting the Zack Ryder treatment.
70. Enzo, Cass, and HBK were fun, until it went too long. The cruiserweight matches were good. The first hour would’ve been better if there wasn’t another two to go, because the first hour felt well-paced and consistent, so we knew that couldn’t last. I’m excited to see the Rumble itself, as I always am, but they’re making Monday nights difficult to want to see. With three hours and at least an hour of nothing, as Matt so eloquently put it, it’s obviously Foley’s fault that Smackdown is more fun, better executed, with consistent storylines, better wrestlers, entertaining promos, featured matches every week, and of course, not the same four people for four straight months.
HAM OF THE NIGHT
One of the all-time great HAMs takes it with ease. His “HATERS!” call alone won it, but the rest of his appearance was fun too.
2012 - Daniel Bryan
2013 - Paul Heyman
2016 - Chris Jericho
1-2-17 - Kevin Owens
1-3-17 - Jack Gallagher
1-9-17 - Shawn Michaels
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.