Pruett's Pause: WWE Raw - The Ballad of Vickie Guerrero, the final hype for Money in the Bank with the WWE Championship on the line, Roman Reigns shines again, and more!
By Will Pruett
In the middle of 2005 Vickie Guerrero debuted on WWE television as a part of the ongoing (and very weird) story between her husband Eddie Guerrero and Rey Mysterio. This would hardly be notable, except it was the first appearance of what would become one of WWE's best heels of the next decade. In 2006, just over six months after Eddie's death, Vickie re-debuted and became a regular storyline character. This was the true beginning of her amazing run.
When you first look at her, Vickie is the last person you would expect to see regularly in WWE television. She isn't a prototypical "Diva" and she doesn't have the build WWE looks for in their backstage personalities. When she first began speaking on television, she brought a rigidity and shrillness rarely seen. She was grating and obnoxious, but she wasn't supposed to be. It wasn't until she turned heel that she found her stride.
Over time, she became one of WWE's rotating authority figures. She infuriated fans by demanding their attention with her signature "Excuse Me" phrase. Vickie went from a character who had no place on television to being an extremely fun character to watch. As she found her stride, her obnoxiousness became kayfabe, because her performances were brilliant. Even in the last year, easily six years removed from her prime as a character, she would incite near-riots of noise in arenas. Booing over the screech of Guerrero was a privilege for the fans.
Guerrero's pairings with Edge and Dolph Ziggler helped to enhance both character. Edge benefitted from the sleaziness sleeping with the middle-aged authority figure gave his character. He took the ultimate opportunity and further established his "Ultimate Opportunist" persona. Dolph Ziggler benefitted from a heat-generating sidekick and from her presence. Ziggler's singles run has proven his need for a second to ground him. Vickie was his original second and she helped him immensely.
With all of this success, Vickie also had to put up with more garbage from WWE than any other character. She was presented as a "cougar" and often was the butt of jokes relating to promiscuity. Triple H randomly decided to make months and months of fat jokes about her while he was on Smackdown in 2008. John Cena would do the anti-chivalrous thing and call her a whore regularly. The commentators often acted like she was downright repulsive. Notably, The Rock did an entire concert calling her ugly, when she had done absolutely nothing to him.
WWE looked for any excuse to embarrass and belittle Vickie. While it was noble of them to hire her and give her all of these opportunities, it was sad to see them mock her so often. Vickie handled it all with a sense of humor, but they seemed to pile onto her far more often than necessary. Her story was amazing, but WWE seemed determined to undermine it with sophomoric humor.
Her grand finale on WWE television this week was a microcosm of her entire run. She was belittled and the essence of her employment was used as fodder for Stephanie McMahon to generate heat. She was called ugly and told her look was WWE appropriate. Vickie was publicly humiliated one last time.
Of course, she also finally stood up to herself and, in a way, redeemed her family name. As the most notable living member of the Guerrero family (sorry, Chavo), she had a major moment where she swelled up with familial pride. She screamed at Stephanie McMahon as delivered one last "Excuse Me" this time to the delight of fans. She entered to Eddie's theme music and paid tribute to him in her "match" against Stephanie. This was a legitimately emotionally compelling moment.
Stephanie decided to introduce some pudding [which was supposed to represent, but was never outright called vomit (which is a strange concept in the first place because WWE would have had to put out a casting call for bulimics to fill the pool)] and other women to the match. Vickie was pushed inside, but Stephanie was as well. Stephanie suffered her public humiliation well and allowed fans to laugh at her, much as they laughed at Vickie for years.
The end fit the run. Both were completely improbably. Vickie Guerrero, in the most tragic of circumstances, rose to become on of WWE's most iconic heels. It was amazing. It was fun to watch. It was cringe-worthy at times.
Vickie Guerrero, thank you for the entertainment. Thank you for never taking yourself too seriously and dealing with all the literal and figurative garbage from fans and WWE management. Thank you, Vickie. I can't wait until you make a cameo on a random themed episode of Raw.
And now for some random thoughts:
- Tonight was all about creating mystery going into the Money in the Bank WWE World Heavyweight Championship match (longest match title in history). They made Roman Reigns, Kane, John Cena, Bray Wyatt, Sheamus, and Randy Orton all look like potential winners. Reigns especially seemed to stand out in the handicap tag match (notably, he sold fairly well).
- On the other side of Money in the Bank, in the Contract Ladder Match, we are going to get some very fun action with very few potential winners. Could anyone other than Seth Rollins or Dean Ambrose actually win this thing? Perhaps "Bad News" Barrett could be a darkhorse.
- Rollins and Rob Van Dam had a nice promo segment together and a nice match. This was fun to watch. Also, no one falls on their head like RVD.
- WWE was downright restrained in their political humor when one remembers Capitol Punishment from 2011. Thank you, WWE for not bringing in a Barack Obama impersonator (again).
- Another bright spot of the night was Barrett vs. Ziggler for the Intercontinental Championship. This match definitely brought the crowd to life and was a very valuable segment on the show. Barrett has really come into his own as an in-ring competitor.
- I'm a fan of Luke Harper and Erik Rowan's new entrance music. I'm a sick man.
- Paige was actually fun to listen to on commentary. It would have been nice to just hear from her and not Cameron, but that might not fit the story. Naomi vs. Alicia Fox seemed to be a decent match completely overshadowed by the commentary.
- I liked the storyline explanation for Dean Ambrose being added to the Money in the Bank contract match.
- Kofi Kingston vs. Jack Swagger seemed to devolve from a professional wrestling match to an actual fight at one point. Either they were purposefully working stiff or they were botching in some fantastically-realistic ways. Either way, it was more engaging than I expected their match to be.
- Damien Sandow as Abe Lincoln made me laugh. I'm an awful person.
This wasn't a barn-burner of a Raw episode, but it did what it needed to. I'm intrigued going into Sunday and it should be a really exciting special event. WWE's Summer usually heats up around this time and going into SummerSlam. It's time for some major angles and major happenings to occur. They're well set up for it, especially with a new champion being crowned.
So, what did you think of the show? Agree? Disagree? Either way, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or to follow me and interact on twitter @itswilltime.
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