Best: Correct Jerks
One of WWE’s most unique talents is their ability to ease us into “darkest timeline” storytelling by numbing us so severely that worst case scenarios seem like progress.
The opening to last night’s Raw featured my least favorite wrestler of the last 20 years and one of my least favorite general manager characters ever stripping my favorite wrestler ever of the TWO championship titles he won in his career’s defining moment at one of the biggest events in company history. And you know what? I’ve been so numbed by a month and a half of obnoxious complaining, stalling and bad decisions that I’m happy they did it. How awful is that? I am now standing balls-deep in Brandon Stroud’s Worst Case Wrestling Scenario and I’m thanking them for putting me here.
Objectively, The Authority is still right. They said Bryan wouldn’t be able to compete at a championship level, and as soon as he won the championship, he got hurt and couldn’t compete. The story is that they ran The Demon Kane at him until his neck broke, but Jesus, how many times has an evil authority figure thrown a monster at Cena or The Rock or Steve Austin and they’ve come out fine on the other side? The WWE has a longstanding-if-iffily-worded precedent of a champion having to defend his title or being stripped of it, and with Bryan’s surgery not progressing at Cena Speed they didn’t have another option. Brie Bella quit so Bryan wouldn’t have to give up his championship, and then two weeks later he has to give up his championship and she quit for nothing.
Pointing this out makes you a jerk, I guess, and yeah, The Authority are still basically the worst people in the world. But man, they were right all along. Bryan can come back in a few months and we can try it again. A redemption story. Or who knows? Maybe he’ll go the way of Dolph Ziggler and get a big WE CAN’T TRUST YOU, ENJOY THE LOWER MIDCARD stamp on his forehead. At least we’re moving on to something new now. I’m happy that Randy Orton and Alberto Del Rio and Sheamus are competing for the oh my God somebody help me I can’t do this anymore
Worst: Correct Reality-Altering Jerks?
1. If Daniel Bryan had such ethical outrage at The Authority that he’d let his wife get fired instead of peacefully handing over the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, there’s no way he authorized his doctor to give out his medical progress on television when it would directly lead to The Authority stripping him. WE’VE GOT A HIPAA VIOLATION HERE, FOLKS.
2. If the doctor’s via satellite message is the first anybody’s hearing of Bryan’s progress and he’s just now being officially stripped of the championship, how does The Authority already have the belts? Did all of this happen earlier in the day and they’re just being buttholes by going through the motions against video-taped doctor footage?
Best: Vengeance For Kobald
We won’t forget you, you beautiful little toilet demon you.
Best: The Value Of Having A Billion Mildly-Believable Finishes
The first match of the night was also probably the best: another hard-hitting, exciting HOSS OFF between two guys who hold secondary championships and probably shouldn’t be taking clean pinfall losses.
The reason this match worked so well is because sure, they did a lot of false finishes and those can be exciting, but also because they have enough moves in their arsenal to make a match full of false finishes make sense. That’s a very important thing a lot of wrestlers miss … we’ve seen Sheamus end matches with the White Noise or the cloverleaf before, so when he goes for a win with them there is at least a 1% chance that it’ll be enough. That’s suspension of disbelief at work, but it works. Barrett’s the same way. He’s not exactly KO’ing dudes with the Winds of Change, but he’s got WADE SLAM. If you chain that all together and make sure everything connects strong, you’ve got something. And hell, BNB’s made it so that making his elbow pad change colors means the end of the match is nigh.
I’m all for guys like this throwing hands at each other in the midcard and tearing it up, but in all seriousness I do wish they’d build one solid secondary championship division. Bad News Barrett has a lot of support out of nowhere and they’re STILL feeding him into these Intercontinental Championship non-title losses. It will never make sense to me. “The prop you hold when you win” should not go hand-in-hand with “constantly losing.” That’s not smark science, that is basic human logic.
Worst: And Then THAT’S The Finish They Go With
The other complaint I have for this very, very enjoyable match is that they strung together a bunch of cool falsies and then went straight to the Sheamus match killer: the Brogue Kick set up by his opponent suddenly stammering backwards and being distracted at nothing so Sheamus can run up and do it “from out of nowhere.” It’s THE WORST.
This match is a perfect example. Barrett’s on the attack but he knows it’s time to take the Brogue Kick, so he just wanders back towards the middle of the ring looking at nobody, doing nothing, and kinda paws at the referee. Then it’s like WHOOPS, I ACCIDENTALLY LET THE GUY WHO TAKES ADVANTAGE OF LITERALLY EVERY SCENARIO LIKE THIS TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE SCENARIO AND KICK ME IN THE FACE. The Brogue Kick is a strike. Strikes are the easiest imaginable thing to have come from “out of nowhere.” You aren’t doing a snake taunt and jumping and cradling a guy’s head and slamming him to the mat, you’re lifting your leg. Why is it always so obvious? It almost exclusively exists to make that final moment of any Sheamus match drag me from “wow, this was great” to “ALBINO JOHN CENA.”
A supplemental Worst for that delayed cover.
Best: Sign Of The Night