Tag Archives: Monday Night Raw

#ShawnMichaelsWeek: Hidden Gems

It’s Day Three of #ShawnMichaelsWeek, a celebration of all things HBK and the eighth installment in our patent-pending Juice Make Sugar Wrestler of the Week series. We started off with A Wrestler You Should Probably Know Better, before we gave you the finer points of the Michael Hickenbottom oeuvre with some Essential Viewing. Today, we marched through Hump Day with a GIF parade and, because we love you, we’re back to give you some hidden gems from the Showstopper’s catalog. Tomorrow we’ll make our “Amazon.com on steroids” dream come true with Juice Make Sugar Recommends… before finishing everything off on Friday with a Difference of Opinion (where JMS HQ erupts in a Sweet Chin Music-fueled civil war.) 

Shawn Michaels vs. John Cena, Monday Night Raw (04/23/07)

Easily the best “free TV” match in WWE history, this is at or near the top of the catalog for either man. If you watch this match and still don’t think John Cena can wrestle, you are an idiot.

Shawn Michaels vs. Owen Hart for No. 1 Contendership, In Your House 6: Rage in the Cage

A fun, and surprisingly long, match between the two most innovative workers in the company at the time. Owen had  (kayfabe) knocked Shawn out of commission for a little while with an enziguri during the previous fall, with Michaels even teasing retirement due to the concussion (again, kayfabe) Hart had caused. After his triumphant return and subsequent Royal Rumble victory, the two fought for the chance to face Owen’s brother at WrestleMania 12. That this would eventually lead to WrestleMania XII Iron Man match shouldn’t be held against it.

Shawn Michaels vs. Bret Hart (C) for the WWF Championship, Survivor Series 1992

The second best PPV match between the two, it’s the only time that Hart is the clear favorite and clear babyface, which provides the most interesting dichotomy between this and the two better known matches (Iron Man and Screwjob). While certainly not either of their best work, it’s easily the best thing on the card and one of the better matches of the year for a company that desperately needed stars after the departure of several major stars.

Shawn Michaels vs. 123 Kid, Monday Night Raw (03/04/96)

In the era of Daniel Bryan/Rhodes Boys vs. The Shield six-man tags this may seem like a fairly standard match, but for the time, giving away this match — or the next one on the list — was a revelation, and a subtle indicator of the competition that the WWF was feeling from its competitors at the time. Also, a less-than-subtle indicator of how nice it was to have the Heartbreak Kid considering you a friend.

Shawn Michaels vs. Marty Jannetty, Monday Night Raw (05/17/93)

Another fantastic Free TV match, with both guys looking great. As the commentors on this video pointed out in between homophobic slurs, if Marty Jannetty could have kept his nose clean (both literally and figuratively), he wouldn’t be the namesake for our imaginary Jannetty Scale. The pre-match talking segment gets the crowd electric, and they never really lose it. Definitely the highlight of Jannetty’s career, which is a real bummer (both that fact and his career).

Shawn Michaels vs. Randy Savage (C) for the WWF Championship, European Rampage



Part of a series of matches they worked during the European tour that immediately proceeded WrestleMania VIII, this is worth sitting through the three separate videos for. Randy Savage is The Best, and the crowd in Sheffield, England loves him (and the fact that there is WWF wrestling in England). Sensation Sherri spends a lot of the match giving a really strong argument for her “Best Manager Ever” case, and shows why she was a surefire Hall of Famer. Although there was really no chance he was going to win the match, Shawn Michaels proved that he was a top-flight performer that the company would be well served to get behind. They did, and the rest is history.

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Making Friends and Influencing People: Raw Regurgitated, 8/19

I wrote about this on Cageside Seats, but this is PRECISELY how you pass the torch to someone: succinctly and without equivocation. John Cena does it the right way.

People are going to complain about Daniel Bryan implying that Stephanie is being a B-word (read: bitch), and saying she’s trash. It’s not that they are wrong, as much as if you were ever going to call out someone for being that, you can’t think of a better time than after them telling you that you’re not good enough to be something you’ve wanted to do your entire life because you are too short, too skinny and too ugly. And if that person is your boss, and only because she’s the daughter of your boss’s boss, it’s easy to understand where he’s coming from.

At some point, someone is going to say “that’s not security, those are guys from developmental!“ and ruin it forever, but until then, please keep bringing them up just for this.

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Now that Orton has stolen the “steal the belt from the champion after a hard-fought match that serves as a major push for them” trick from this year’s Money in the Bank cash-in grab bag, what’s Damien going to do? Let’s just hope it’s not the Mr. Kennedy special.

Sandow actually manages to look better every time he’s in the ring with Cody. And only half of that is because he’s won the “facial hair” belt from this feud.

When Damien gets a finisher to match this gimmick that doesn’t involve puns he’s going to be the most over heel in the company. Until then, he’s going to be booked like Leapin’ Lanny Poffo with a worse beard.

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Wow, that whole Layla-AJ thing looks like it just went from 0-shitty feud in less than 1.4 matches.

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There isn’t a better guy on the roster to give the Shield 3-on-1 tag match treatment to than Ziggler. Well, a better guy under 350lbs, but still.

Ziggler will not win this match, but at least he hasn’t called AJ a slut or crazy, so that’s a win for everybody.

OOF.

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Speaking of OOF, the only good thing that has ever happened in Sin Cara’s career is how pissed Alberto Del Rio was after they ended that match.

Can’t we just let Ricardo take those fat burners? He looks like he ate one of Alberto Del Rio’s cars.

It may be repeatable, but Rob! Van! Dam! isn’t nearly as fun as ALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLBERRRRRRRTOOOOOOOO DEL RIOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!! Also, stoner is a way less interesting language than Spanish.

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Can I buy a thousand stocks in this Prime Time Players face run? They are everything the Usos should be, and at least half as good a dynamic as The Shield: Operation Long Hair. I’m all in on this.

Wow, Titus O’Neilll is doing the Lord’s work out there. I’d like to hedge my Prime Time Players face stock with a Titus O’Neill US title future. I swear I won’t do credit default swaps on a Fandango derivative! Just let me bet on this!

At what point is Ryback going to make him put the lotion on his skin before he give him the hose again?

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Getting to see The Shield do work as a trio in the ring at the same time, legally, is easily the best thing going on this show. They are basically all the good things about Kofi Kingston, Christian and Test with none of the bad things. Believe in the Shield (continuing to get a main event push!).

That Triple Powerbomb has pretty much ruined real powerbombs, but I’ll allow it if they keep doing it to guys literally three times their size.

If humans ever create a time machine, I’m taking The Shield to ECW just to shut up Dean Douglas.

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That was so intense and so awkward that, for the sake of that dude’s social life, I hope that fat dude was a plant.

If Curtis Axel was a real man, he’d beat CM Punk to death with his bare fists. But, since he doesn’t have the balls and is a little bitch, I guess we’ll just have to deal with going to the trainer’s table to get tape up to try to beat CM Punk to death with his padded fists. You know, like a woman.

Does Paul Heyman feel tired (not stale, but physically tired) to anyone else? Someone get that guy some blow so he can pronounce BARAK LESNAR correctly again.

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I’m just going to come out and say it: Bray Wyatt’s matches are not great so far. The story has been good, and he’s good, but man, there’s just something missing from these things and it’s probably “decent wrestling”.

If they aren’t careful, this whole “we have a really good tag team division” thing might just take off.

WHAT DID WAY BARRA AND THE WAY BARRA BARRAG DO? I’M SURE HE’S SORRY, AND HE’S BEEN PUNISHED ENOUGH!

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That hug, and smirk, are why heel Randy Orton is better than you.

***WARNING SERIOUS WRESTLING DISCUSSION AHEAD*** This was the best segment since Punk’s pipe bomb, and may have been even more inside than that was. Not only did they manage to explain “why” they screwed Bryan in an entirely legitimate (read: logical) way, they did so in such a way that they were able to break kayfabe using kayfabe. They were essentially saying: we are the reason people win and lose, not you and not them. We can’t always be so obvious with it, but we promise — we’re in charge. This is what wrestling should be and hopefully they can keep it going in the perfect space between “not too long” and “long enough” that a bunch of people make money, and everyone eventually goes home happy***

God Love Him, Daniel Bryan needs to learn how to count.

It’s Time to Go Home: Raw Regurgitated, 8/12

It’s really great that WAY BARRA AND THE WAY BARRA BARRAG is wrestling Daniel Bryan to kick off a show. I don’t get ION television, so this is a first for me.

There’s absolutely no rational explanation why Brad Maddox’s entrance is A) the theme from Raw and B) not him singing. Profits may be down this quarter, but how expensive could a microphone and some studio time with Jim Johnston cost?

SummerSlam drinking game – Rule #1: During the main event on Sunday, every time they mention that Daniel Bryan was trained by HBK or William Regal, 3 sips. 5 sips if it’s after a kip-up/Regal stretch

The crowd really loves the anticipatory “OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO” part of DB’s rallies, to the point where they always shoot their load on it way too soon. Act like you’ve been here before, Sac-Town.

That was the fastest three-count-that-was-actually-a-three-count ever. Normally, fast counts are simply 12ishThr-SUPER FUCKING RUNAWAY! but Brad stayed in for the whole show. Good for him.

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No one should be complaining about the new Money in the Bank briefcase, but I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t hoped it was made of mahogany when I first saw it. That thing is SHARP. But why is it only the domain of the heel to have nice things? Is Damien Sandow or Alberto Del Rio really any less materialistic than a dude who buys his girlfriend a new Range Rover because he doesn’t want to marry her?

Cody Rhodes explaining that he’s just pissed off that Damien Sandow screwed him out of the briefcase and then was an asshole about it afterwards is exactly what he should be doing. There’s just enough nuance that he should make it clear that he’s not being a crybaby, but that Damien Sandow is a Dick.

Real Talk: Sandow’s version of the “smart heel” gimmick is some next level shit.

SummerSlam drinking game – Rule #2: A chug for every time the announcers say “Sandow-ized” and a sip for every “Money in the Bank briefcase” mention.

If Randy Orton ever gets half as over as the RKO is, he’ll basically be the white Rock. Except, you know, without the charisma or charm. He will tie him in “ridiculously elaborate tattoos you’re just happy aren’t something from the absolute worst part of the 90’s”, however.

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God Bless the Shield.

Despite how incredibly wooden his mic work is, Brock Lesnar does actually come off as natural in his pre-taped promos. Mostly because he’s a meathead jock killing machine, and those are the type of mouthwords they make in real life.

Is Brock Lesnar going to rape CM Punk? Is that what he means by “he’s going to be victimized”?

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Outside of Big E’s pre-taped promo, this Natalya/Great Khali vs. Big E./AJ match was the worst thing I’ve ever seen. Legitimately. I don’t even know what to say.

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A (FIRST EVER) guest joke from Noah:

***WARNING! ACTUAL WRESTLING DISCUSSION AHEAD! PLEASE KEEP EYES AND EARS INSIDE KAYFABE*** Holy shit was this segments all kinds of fantastic. From beginning to end, this was a brilliant way to shoehorn in an added (if wholly unnecessary) element to one of the most anticipated organic main events in a long, long time. At least since CM Punk vs. John Cena from Money in the Bank 2011. Brad and Vince articulated why they are nefariously planning to screw over Daniel Bryan, how they are playing to do it, and all while pretending to be upstanding citizens. That Triple H came down — which made the crowd LOSE THEIR SHIT — to make it about him on some level is okay, because whether or not we like it, they need to push this McMahon vs. McMahon vs. McMahon feud, as it’s going to be the big money feud for the next six months while they try to build Daniel Bryan (I’m assuming) into the next big star alongside CM Punk and John Cena. This isn’t quite as good as the (I literally can’t believe I’m saying this) Miz TV bit that’s coming on later, but it’s still a perfect example of how you get non-smart fans even more excited for a match they were already crazy excited for. People (myself included) love Triple H, and his involvement will only generate more interest. Also, he can’t win the belt, so what’s the worst that could POSSIBLY happen? ***ACTUAL WRESTLING DISCUSSION NOW OVER PLEASE ENJOY YOUR COMPLIMENTARY SONIC MILKSHAKE ON THE WAY OUT***

We can all go home, that was the best sell of a Pedigree ever. Thank you, Brad. You’re perfect just the way you are.

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Of all the things I love about my girlfriend, I think the top of the list includes her intense dislike of any in-the-woods-related b-roll in Bray Wyatt vignettes.

Will Bray get an actual flame for SummerSlam, or are we going to have to suffer through him struggling to turn off that cheap lantern for the next ten years?

It’s like the entire Wyatt family forgot that Kane is made of magic.

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Good to see Natalya getting on television, you know, without the gas, I mean.

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If Ricardo Rodriguez comes back as someone else’s ring announcer, will he continue to do it in Spanish?

Alberto reminds me, oddly enough, of Big Van Vader. Incredibly stiff and violent, while still being extremely agile for someone his size. Just, you know, not also a fat piece of shit.

Kofi Kingston needs to stop clapping before trying to hit Trouble in Paradise. Because he desperately needs a heel turn. Also, it’s stupid. But mostly the “heel turn to make his character remotely interesting (or honestly, to give him a character to begin with)” part.

Alberto Del Rio speaking half in Spanish is the best possible thing to get the crowd to really hate him. Not only do people dislike not being able to understand you, white people hate ethnic minorities. So, that’s a win-win.

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“It pains me to say this, Sacramento, but you could be whiter!”

The Art of the Heel Promo with Zeb Colter, Zeb Colter

So, they’re just  going with full Superman on Antonio Cesaro? I’ll allow it.

Man, if the Usos don’t watch out, they are going to get too over as a real brother tag team to not also be horrible drug addicts. A real tragedy.

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Has anyone ever sat on the couch during Miz TV? Even the seats on the Abraham Washington got more play than those things.

People on the internet have commended him, but if The Miz is this Miz while he’s “hosting” SummerSlam, then it might actually add something to the show.

SummerSlam drinking game – Rule #3: A sip for every time the Miz slightly flubs a line as host of SummerSlam, a chug for every time he forgets what he was supposed to say and shotgun a full beer every time he makes a good point.

SummerSlam drinking game – Rule #4: During the main event every time an announcer mentions how divided the crowd is – 2 sips, mentions how much of a “reaction” John Cena gets – 3 sips, talks about how “hot” Daniel Bryan is “right now” – 5 sips

Even before that amazing segment, this has been as good a build as you could possibly imagine. Which is what happens when you stop scripting promos, start actually scripting storylines and let your performers mention the words “wrestling” and say things like “this belt is important and not at all a prop”. Weird.

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Oof.

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HERE ARE ALL THE PEOPLE FAMOUS ENOUGH FOR US TO BOTHER PUTTING THEIR ENTRANCE ON TV! ENJOY THE “ANTICIPATION” OF SEEING THE OTHER IDIOTS WE PUT IN THIS MATCH WHEN WE COME BACK LIVE! TO MONDAY NIGHT RAW!

Oh, well, except for That Dude.

And of course, RVD wins. At least we don’t have to pay to watch him on Sunday. Also, who doesn’t love a Big Show/Mark Henry tag title match versus the Shield? Other than people who don’t like Tons of Funk matches, of course.

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SummerSlam drinking game – Rule #5: A sip for every time the words “Beast” or “Best” are said the entire night, chug for the phrase “big fight feel” and SG’d a B for every F-5 or G2S. Editor’s note: you will be dead after this.

The real lesson of all this? Brock Lesnar is terrible at making plans.

Not to end on a down note, but this entire bit made little to no sense. Why establish that Brock Lesnar is a total moron who will get outsmarted by CM Punk on the Monday before the PPV we’re going to pay to see to find out if CM Punk can outsmart Lesnar? Why would you do that? This makes me sad. At least we’ll always have the last month. And Paris.