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ALPHABET SOUP - Raw 1/30: Humor column breaks down Raw A-to-Z - Books, Boxes, Edges, Funks, Quotes, Takers, Vegans, Wizards  By -  Debbie Matthews  

A – Again, John Laurinaitis is another example of WWE using a unique sort of heel character here. Much like Daniel Bryan’s sinister subterfuge (#Showoff), Lauranitis isn’t outwardly evil. He’s not a broadly drawn villain, but more of a terrible human being. And, really, that's not a bad “bad-guy” for the reality era. I actually don’t despise Lauranitis’s character any more, just this awful story with C.M. Punk. It looks like this is winding down, though, so I'm relieved.

B – By God, are they trying to make the Internet explode? Man your stations, hardcore fans! The wind, she’s a-blowin’! Daniel Bryan vs. C.M. Punk is one of those things where Vince is like “Screw it, I want to see how many wrestling nerds we can make lose their virginity tonight.” Their promo struck just the right tone, too, vaguely referencing a past we’ll never know and firmly establishing a friendship that no doubt will play into their encounter. I don’t want to act like Bryan vs. Punk is better than Senior Prom and your first adult movie, but it’s pretty awesome. Still, I’m keeping my pants on, for now.

C – Could Punk be any more lame? Some of his promo with Laurinaitis was funny, sure, but then he started repeating himself, searching for words, and pulling out terrible platitudes. I prefer Punk in a heel role, or at least with a half-decent antagonist. He’s lost some fire since becoming “the face of the company.” His stories don’t, or ever will again, have the same stakes as his MITB or post-MITB story. Maybe I need to lower my expectations, but it’s hard to get behind him. He needs something to focus on with a little more excitement and charisma. Laurinaitis is a good scumbag, smarmy villain, but the problem is, that’s Punk’s character, basically. He deserves a better class of villain.

D – Dude, nice. I love WWE interviewing Wade Barrett from the Skybox. It’s a nice twist on the old commentary routine and it puts over Barrett’s wealth...I guess. I mean buying a Skybox is nice, but wearing your own t-shirt in it isn’t. Step up your game, Barrett. You have like four suit jackets. I know they’re made more for a 10-foot tall statue of Mecha-Abraham Lincoln, but he can still rock them. Bring some class to the Skybox, Barrett. If British people can’t be classy, then who can?

E – Eh. I thought Orton-Ziggler was okay, but I keep expecting more. Am I giving them too much credit? I mean, yeah, it was good, but with who was involved, it could have been much, much better. Not bad at all, though. Ziggler compliments Orton’s methodical pace well and it was really nice to see a clean finish. It’s just too bad it was Ziggler doing the job. I would have liked to have seen Ziggler win, but that’s small potatoes.

F - Funk yeah! I can’t tell, but is the crowd popping for Brodus? I sincerely hope so. And, WWE added a disco ball this time! In fact, it seems like they add a new part to his entrance each time. I can’t wait until two months from now when he has a back-up band, three more dancers, an entourage of similarly dressed semi-pimps, a saxophone player, and a human beatbox constantly doing the drums from “My Adidas” by Run-DMC. I just want it to keep elevating and expanding until it’s out of control. Like, he has an entire hour of just his entrance. I want it to be like a music video. Actually, I want it to be a music video. Have I mentioned that I love this gimmick?

G - Grade B. I wasn’t sure what to make of this. Honestly, the show was pretty fun. I’m pretty excited for next week, but I have a lingering sour taste in my mouth. I can’t explain it, but this show just felt off. This was yet another “event” Raw, but this one seemed to actually accomplish its goal. It was better than cleaning your ears (feels soooo good). but not as good as selling a Zack Ryder action figure for double its price on eBay. Oh, Ryder fans, when will you learn that you are only encouraging my wrath?

H - Huh. Could Bryan and Punk’s backstage bit been any more cheesy? “What are you?” “I’m this, what are you?” It was like the bohemian version of “I’m a Mac, I’m a PC.” Vince definitely demanded this. Not only does it look good for publicity that WWE's two top guys are both actively engaged in a healthy lifestyle, but it helps educate anyone out of the loop. (Though, honestly, who doesn’t know what his or her respective lifestyle is? Vegan was interesting and weird in 1997. Lollapalooza is over. Vegans are a normal part of life now. And, straightedge hasn’t been mysterious since 1988.) Then again, would anyone be surprised if Vince was clueless about not only both lifestyles, but both men?

Vince: “What’s the Tegan thing the short, wizard-looking guy does again?”

Writer: “You mean Vegan, sir? And, that’s Daniel...”

Vince: “I’m pretty sure it’s Tegan. Hey, you think he keeps acorns in his beard? You know, for like squirrels and stuff.”

Writer: “With all due respect, it’s called Vegan, and what are you talking about?”

Vince: “Blah blah blah. Hey, take a note egghead: Squirrel Guy. Find some desperate nerd in FCW and give ‘em a bushy tail!”

Writer: “Um...I’ll get right on that. Back to the Vegan thing...”

Vince: “C.M. Punk is one of them too, right? Or, is C.M. Punk the short wizard guy?”

Writer: “No sir, Punk is straightedge, and he’s...”

Vince: “Let’s get down to brass tacks here: how many short, wizard-looking guys do we have?”

Writer: “...”

Vince: “I remember one time when I had Punk talk to the Spirit Squad. Remember that?”

Writer: “Uh, yes sir...”

Vince: “What happened to those guys? I want to dump poop on them again! Do Vegans like poop? I bet ol’ Wizard McShortstack would love that.”

Writer: “I’ll show myself out.”

I – It’s pretty interesting that the new champions are being spotlighted like this. Especially with Bryan not necessarily playing the heel role here. It’s really fun the way they keep dangling along Bryan’s subtle evil genius, but I think it was the right move to make the Bryan-Punk match a pure kind of affair. Bryan could use some credibility and, let’s be honest, this is the match everyone wants to see. I feel like my computer is going to commit suicide if I try to force it on Twitter. It’s like trying to push a whale through a kitchen sink. (Call Disney, I just came up with their next “feel-good story.”) I mean, holy hyperbole, Bateman, I thought some people on Twitter were going to spontaneously combust into confetti and tiny keychains commemorating the day that Bryan and Punk made life worth living. You’d think people stepped down from the ledge for this match. Don’t worry, ridiculously stupid Mayan doomsday believers, the end of the world came on Monday. Now we are all inside some trippy dream of a two-year-old in another universe...or something. I don’t know, ask Daniel Bryan. He’s from Washington, where that kind of stuff totally flies still. The point is that time will now be measured in BC, AD, and ABP, or After Bryan and Punk. This column from here on out will be a tribute to our deities, Punk and Bryan, until time ends (or they decide it should end. They are powerful beings!)

J – Just amazing. Despite the hyperbole, the big match was pretty awesome. Punk’s selling and ring psychology was epic. Go back, watch it, and count all the times Punk sells his hand throughout the match. From switching his bulldog hand to gingerly using it to climb the ropes, he had it covered. Thanks for the clinic, buddy. You see that, Zack Ryder? That’s how you sell. Now get your lazy ass back in that wheel chair and tell me how bad your back hurts! By the way, did anyone else imagine ROH officials sitting at home watching this match in the dark while quietly sobbing into a glass of wine?

K – K, that was amazing. I am shocked. Perplexed. Bamboozled! Chris Jericho attacked C.M. Punk? But, but, who seen this coming? I’ve never heard someone mention this ever! It’s so out of nowhere. I mean, gosh, what could come of this? Surely not a WrestleMania match that everyone saw coming, because no one could have possibly foreseen this. Way to keep people on their toes, WWE, you mad typists of written tapestry. So creative. I’m not going, to lie though, I’m going to watch this match. A lot. I reserve the right to sarcastically mock it until its greatness occurs, though.

L – Love Mike Tyson being in the Hall of Fame. Loads of credibility for WWE now. If you thought Drew Carey's induction was a status symbol, wait until you get a load of this guy with a tattoo on his face! This is like the NFL Hall of Fame inducting the bald guy with no eyebrows in Michael Vick’s entourage. Beyond the obvious weirdness of it, I do love Mike Tyson. He’s my favorite boxer (which I’m sure tells you everything you need to know about me, like, that I still think boxing is interesting), and a fascinating human being. It just sucks he’s been de-fanged since his young days. How great would it have been to be backstage at the HOF ceremony with '90s Tyson and Ric Flair flanked by a gaggle of busty broads (their words, not mine), the best lighting on the planet (read: none), and a stretch Hummer limo on call?

M – Miz vs. Kofi was pure fun. Man, I know Kofi isn’t the coolest, best, or most "indy" guy, but I freaking love him. Sure, the guy wins about every 100 ABP years, but you got to love him. It’s classic, really: he’s the hyper-athletic, faceless, voiceless, spring with eyes. Plus, if you can’t enjoy a guy named Kofi Kingston who used to do a bad Jamaican accent coming to the ring to Reggaeton music and has Riddler and Ghostbuster trunks, then you’re truly evil. Good match for Miz and he. Miz is fantastic at putting babyfaces over.

N – Nope. I don’t know about you, but that Rock video they keep playing makes me hate him more. If you haven’t seen it, or didn’t pay attention, here’s the cliff notes version:

- Rock is richer than you.

- Rock dresses like every gym teacher you ever hated.

- Rock lives in an airplane.

- Rock only wears sleeves when he’s tweeting about how great he is. Any other time, he’s blasting fruit off his chest while wearing t-shirts smaller than the box office returns of "Journey 2: The Mysterious Island," which Rock wants you to know stars himself and some people he enjoys smiling at but never learned the names of.

O – Oh wow. I actually really like the idea of these YouTube exclusive WWE shows. You get the feeling these were aborted projects from the old Network launch date, but that doesn’t make them bad. In fact, it makes them a curious study in what exactly you can expect from the WWE Network on a macro scale. And, if the answer is Heath Slater looking positively radiant as a human version of the stoner character Jeff from "American Dad," then I’m in. I’ll be watching.

P – Pizza. Little Caesars pizza is awesome. It’s the dollar store cookie mix of pizza. I didn’t even know they had the kind of cash to advertise on WWE...then again, Kmart is WWE's top sponsor, so...

Q - Quotes.

Michael Cole: “I’m trying to understand the dichotomy of Little Jimmy...” Annnndddd journalism is dead. Feel free to throw any Hunter Thompson books you have lying around into the giant tire fire. Thanks for coming!

R - Zack Ryder must be furious with Kane. Apparently Kane is going to keep attacking Zack Ryder because he’s Cena’s friend. I can just imagine Ryder screaming “He has other friends! I barely know the guy! He just accepted my Facebook request a week ago! Leave me allonnnnneeee! He has brothers! Brotttthhhhherrrrssss!”

S - So, WWE took two steps back after a promising step forward in the Cena-Kane arc. He seems to be doing the exact opposite of what would be interesting. What fun is it if he rises above the hate? Also, nice job smiling after the guy that assaulted your friend left. Better hope Ryder’s fancy hospital bed can’t raise his head high enough to watch this.

T - Time to play the game. Forgive me if I don’t lose my mind when Triple H comes out to bury people and mug at the camera like a gargoyle statue of Jimmy Fallon. I suppose this offers a nice resolution to the longstanding Laurinaitis story and it certainly sees the villain getting his comeuppance, but this did nothing for me. Mostly because Triple H annoys me to no end. You have to love the delicious, lemon-flavored, irony that comes with Triple H admonishing Lauranitis for putting himself in the show at the detriment of others to become a star. Good times.

U - Uh, for being experienced in being on, and producing television, Triple H yet again wears a tie that makes the cameras confused. Does he even watch this show?

V - Very cool. Damn, Undertaker’s entrance is freaking magnificent. Less is more, people. Less is more. Musically, anyway. The man may not have a loud generic metal song about rising up or putting down or doing something or another in some direction, but he does have smoke, lights, and fire. Freaking fire. His entrance gives me chills every time. Best. Entrance. Ever. Part of me has always wondered though how modern fans would react, say, if the Undertaker was just starting out in 2012 and he came in with this gimmick and music. How much would he be mocked? How much would I mock him? Is it possible to foster an Undertaker-like character in the post-kayfabe era? Just food for thought, you know, as opposed to food for brain dead people. (Insert clich├ęd joke here about how Bookface, Myface, the texting, and Tweeter is making our kids brain-dead. We get it, you’re old.)

W - Well, that just happened. I, for one, am damn happy that Triple H didn’t want any part of Taker at WrestleMania. What a way to end the show, though. That's a Class A cliffhanger. WWE was in the zone right there. I just don't like the idea of a re-match. Seriously, what’s the hook for a re-match? He lost. Twice, actually! Move over and let a young guy face him. I’m sick of Legends pushing Taker to break The Streak. How about Ziggler vs. Taker? Rhodes vs. Taker? They don’t have to win! They’d be over just by facing him. Putting Trips in here does nothing. It’s over. They had a fantastic match. It happened. Move along. (Note that this doesn't count as fantasy booking, as I hate fantasy booking.)

X - Xylophone.

Y - You know you watch too much Raw when: You knew Triple H couldn’t stand not being on TV for this long.

Z – Zero: The number of souls I sold to Milhouse for five bucks. The percentage of columns I’ve written this year that have been fewer than 2,000 words (that’s a lot of snark). And, finally, the number of ties Undertaker wore tonight. What happened to those classy gray and purple neck ties? He was the fanciest dead guy at the ball! Zombies these days, no class. Always with the sagging bones and sideways skulls.