Every Tuesday, features editor Dominick Suzanne-Mayer talks about the latest developments in and around WWE.
Every once in a while here at On The Apron, I’ve eschewed my normal format of longish-winded discussion of serious business points in favor of shorter breakdowns of the week’s Raw episode. We’re doing that this week, largely because it was a go-ahead PPV episode and not a ton happened. Of note, though: How weird was it seeing a go-ahead show that didn’t involve a John Cena preacher-voice sales monologue? It feels like it’s been forever since the show has been focused elsewhere. Anyway, let’s go.
1) ‘Sup, Toronto?
Toronto will always carry the burden of being the one of the first acknowledged “bizarro land” stops on WWE’s infinite world tour. As such, last night’s crowd was precariously toeing the line between the hype-as-hell engagement of this year’s post-WrestleMania and Brooklyn crowds and the obnoxiousness of many others who’ve tried to ape the “take over the show” style of chanting. For the most part, Toronto was on the good side. The one jackass incessantly trying to make “Goldberg” chants happen during the Ryback-RVD match aside, the crowd did a lot of things I tend to love. They worshipped Damien Sandow, made the Edge segment feel a lot less forced than it likely would’ve otherwise, and most importantly they hated The Miz. Seriously, I doubt Miz has a mirror in his home at this point.
2) WWE’s preferred Divas narrative = 1,000,000/AJ’s cold-blooded logic and reason = -5
I know the whole “Jerry Lawler is a pedo” joke has been run into the ground by the internet, but one of two things happened on commentary during the six-woman Divas tag match last night. Either WWE has realized that it’s in the world, so they should probably stop depicting one of their most beloved on-air personalities as a minor deity despite his being kind of a terrible dude, or AJ is about to get a colossal demotion. While the match went on, unremarkable but for Naomi’s pretty decent bump early on, Jerry Lawler and his endless jackassery were cutting off the Divas champion at every turn as AJ tried in vain to make somebody (anybody!) care about the title match at Night of Champions on Sunday. I can’t recall the exact context for this, but AJ turned to Lawler and went “I’m a little too old for you, Jerry. I’ve heard you like ‘em young.” Once I collected my jaw off the floor, I got around to discovering that she’d also informed the often-aloof commentary team to “Watch the product.” Oh, AJ. Ilysm, and maybe I’ll see you at the SHIMMER show in Berwyn next month.
3) Poor, poor Ryback.
To paraphrase Jonah Hill in This Is The End, Ryback’s insides probably hurt even worse than Big Show’s endlessly watery outsides right now. Still having not fully recovered from being put through the roof of a prop ambulance at Payback in June, Ryback’s been sort of aimless as a character. He’s sort of half-assedly been given this bullying deal, which I love more than anybody probably should, and a new catchphrase in “The Big Guy.” But then, here he is racking the #1 Contender to the World Heavyweight Championship for the worst finish to a Raw match since Natalya held hands with a referee. I don’t know what’s being done with Ryback anymore, but he’s at a point where I’m hoping some enterprising staff writer will go for a postmodern deal where Ryback’s a different character every week, and next year the Royal Rumble match involves 29 Ryback alts. And then, I don’t know, one of Los Matadores.
4) But real talk, Los Matadores.
Look at that cover photo. They look like they’re wearing the sort of Halloween costumes you get when you go to Party City, and the matador costumes are gone, so you start going to Halloween Hallway and all those pop-up stores that serve as harsh reminders of the difficult economy every October. You’ve gone too late in the season, so all that’s left is sexy referee costumes (shirt only though) and a pink scarf for a bad greaser costume. You take the latter and try your best to make do, and maybe you house some whey powder, and now you’re Los Matadores. I can’t wait, even if this is probably going to be one of those Fandango situations where the character peaks with the hype vignettes.
5) Daniel Bryan vs. The World.
For as much as I’m rapturously in love with this new Raw where Daniel Bryan is king and HHH/Stephanie McMahon are finally playing characters based on how people think they behave in real life, last night’s finale needed to happen. A lot of shows have ended with Bryan unconscious and surrounded by one or more smug heels at any given time, and even if Survivor Series is probably Bryan’s earliest real shot at reclaiming the WWE Championship, you need a little variety. So we got the latest subtle tweak in the Big Show saga, where the punches are large and the feels are larger, and this week Show finally took a meager stand against the corporate regime. Granted, his stand consisted of Orton screaming at him a lot until Bryan busaiku kneed Orton for the kill, but it’s something. Bryan got to stand tall at the end of Raw for a change, a nice moment before WWE turns the shenanigans machine to its overdrive setting for the PPV on Sunday.
I miss this man. I also had a lot of fun flashbacks during last night’s show to how confused I was by Goldust as a child. And not in the “lol homo” kind of way either, I mean I legitimately didn’t understand what Goldust was supposed to be. And for the most part I still don’t. He’s androgynous, with his old bits in drag alluding to the fact that he (at least at one time) was obsessed with the Hollywood starlets of yore to the point of fetishizing them. He’s had sexual relationships that dabbled in the making of pornography, but also had a Tom Green-esque shock television show called GTV. He’s probably the first (narratively speaking) pansexual man in wrestling. At one time he had an uncontrollable stammer, and also had a Goldust in miniature. And now it’s been established within WWE’s story universe that Goldust is Dustin Rhodes, real-life son of the son of the plumber, but he still wears the Goldust paint. I don’t get any of it, and I don’t want to. All I’m saying is that Goldust may be wrestling’s most brilliant creation ever.