Monday Night Raw 4/15/13 – Ryback, Lesnar and Ziggler comprise a formidable Rogue’s Gallery

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Raw 1

I guess it’s finally time to admit defeat. Fandango – or to a greater extent, Fandangoing – is sweeping the nation. It may not have yet reached the level of say, a Harlem Shake or Gangnam Style, but it’s most definitely out there. It’s crossed the border from the niche wrestling market into the mainstream, where news anchors and weathermen alike now raise and lower their arms as if they’re milking two giant udders.

So as with all things that catch mainstream attention, the WWE tends to pounce on the trend and run it into the ground, like your dad rinsing the new Paramore record in an attempt to rekindle some semblance of youth. They sent Fandango to the ring on this week’s Raw not as a true heel, but as a cheerleader. “Do you wanna go Fandangoing?” he cried. “What about these people over here? Or these people over here?” He did tell the fans to go “Fandango” themselves, which almost saved the segment until Michael Cole swooped in with a gravelly “FAAANDAANGO.” For goodness’ sake, Cole. We’ll see how long this can last. Usually when the E decides it’s in on the wider joke, the joke ceases to amuse.

Raw 2

3MB called out The Shield this week, failing to realise what constitutes good television/wrestling by demanding a neat handwritten apology. Unfortunately for this trio, they are but mere fodder for the ‘hounds of justice’ until Team Hell No defend their titles at Extreme Rules, an event which 3MB likely won’t have the chance to attend. Brock Lesnar stormed down the ramp instead of The Shield, Heyman in tow, to destroy 3MB for our amusement. The rumours about Rock abandoning WWE in the past two weeks have made Lesnar seem comparatively like a devout soldier. The crowd certainly appreciated him, and even more so when he delivered an F5 to Heath Slater off the barricade. It was assuredly the greatest wrestling moment of the year so far.

Heyman challenged Triple H to a match at Extreme Rules on Lesnar’s behalf. “It’s time to get barbaric,” he said. “It’s time for a match in which skin gets ripped away from bone. When a career can end in a nanosecond. It’s time to get uncensored. It’s time to get extreme.” At this point I’m rubbing my knees in excitement. Hell in a Cell? Inferno? Barbed wire ring ropes? Oh, it’s a cage match. Ok then. “We’ve got two words for ya,” Heyman concluded. “Challenge issued.” We’re now living in the era where the issue/response time frustratingly takes up to two weeks, so expect Triple H to – surprise, surprise – accept the challenge in seven days. Sure can’t wait for that promo. Oh, boy.

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The best match of the night arguably went to Kofi Kingston and Antonio Cesaro, the latter dropping his US Championship after a lengthy title run. If the dirtsheets are to be believed, Vince has soured on Cesaro and therefore wanted a change of scenery; if that’s true, why did Cesaro hang onto the the belt for so long? It seems they plonked the US title on the man and then forgot all about it – Cesaro’s omission from the Wrestlemania card would suggest as much.

I looked away from my screen for a millisecond and heard the crowd erupt at the sound of Ziggler’s music. I mistakenly believed the crowd to have truly come to life for this singular talent, before realising that it was in fact a replay of last week’s footage in which Ziggler captured the World Heavyweight Championship. We’ve since termed that manic Jersey crowd as ‘bizarre’, which is unfortunate. In a perfect world, that crowd would be the norm for wrestling arenas. This week, Del Rio’s rematch against Ziggler was thwarted by a run-in from Jack Swagger and moustached menace Zeb Coulter. Swagger went after Del Rio’s leg instead of champion Ziggler, leading me to wonder: is this character actually interested in winning any gold, or just hurting Mexicans?

Punk bid a less than fond farewell, leaving Heyman with one less client and a possible opening for a deserving heel up-and-comer. I’m glad Punk’s taking a well-deserved break; as I’ve previously mentioned, he’s worked tirelessly without respite and more or less carried the company on his back for the past few years. The monumental gap left by his absence – and Brock’s, post-Extreme Rules – opens up opportunities for heels like Ziggler and Ryback to at last enjoy their time in the limelight.

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Speaking of Ryback, the lovable twitchy weirdo gave a promo explaining his “heinous” actions against John Cena last week. That’s quite alright, Ryback. You’ve done good. My main worry with Ryback was initially how creative planned to differentiate him from the countless – and I mean countless; I’ve run out of fingers – monster heels that Cena has overcome every year around this precise time. So it was a pleasant surprise to see not only more than a modicum of motivation on Ryback’s part, but weeks, months of small clips highlighting instances that folks such as myself should ideally have picked up on.

Simply put, Cena has been a selfish prick. He’s thrown Ryback to the wolves on more than eight occasions, all for the sake of his own gold-chasing glory. We were just too wrapped up in Cena’s generic redemption tale to notice. Whether this is something the E had plotted all along or just picked up coincidentally themselves, is anyone’s guess. But it’s made this feud worth more than your average man vs. monster ordeal. During his “Why, Ryback, Why?” promo, Ryback said something confusing that I heard as: “Maybe you sodomised before I took your head off.” Right. Cena confronted Ryback at the close of the show to inform him, quite cleverly, that he lacked “the space between your ears and the piece between your legs.” There may some truth to both those claims if it ever transpired that Ryback takes steroids. But of course he doesn’t. He was just born angry.

Ed Doyle





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