Previously on the Best and Worst of WWE Raw: It was the Raw after WrestleMania, so lots happened. Finn Bálor returned, The Revival made their main roster debut and Roman Reigns cut the promo of his life. Kurt Angle is back as the Raw General Manager, the Hardy Boyz are your Raw Tag Team Champions, and the rosters are about to get shaken up.
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And now, the Best and Worst of WWE Raw for April 10, 2017.
Best/Worst: Superstars Are Shaking Up!
This week is the Superstar Shake-up™, which is a lot like the Draft but not called a draft, because reasons. That means that for one night only, Raw looks like it has everyone on the WWE roster and Smackdown is just AJ Styles wrestling a cardboard cut-out of John Cena every week. Smackdown gets their guys on Tuesday night, and we don’t get any information about it beyond a few “you’re staying” mentions.
Up first to join Raw is The Miz, who experienced a career renaissance by feuding with John Cena and passive-aggressively feuding with Daniel Bryan. Now he’s on Raw, where he … uh, won’t get to feud with John Cena OR Daniel Bryan, gets humiliated in the open by Dean Ambrose and loses a match to Sami Zayn.
I don’t want that to sound too pessimistic, even though I know that’s how it reads. The Miz fits into that Chris Jericho and The Rock category for me of guys I love (love love) (love) when they’re allowed to blossom as unique, singular heel characters, and pretty much despise when they get too popular and turn into by-the-numbers WWE babyfaces. Everything Miz did between his tag titles run with John Morrison up through the Awesome Truth (minus the concussion and everything else at WrestleMania 27) was STELLAR, and then the Rock sorta neutered him. It took several years of absolutely terrible television to get him back where he needed to be, but now he’s Miz Classic again, barking truths and jamming his head up his own ass so thoroughly it gels his hair. Having Maryse around again did it, I think. She’s great, too, and any show with this version of Miz and Maryse on it is better.
At the same time, I’m sad to see Miz taken out of that protective Smackdown environment and thrust back onto Raw, where he’ll mostly be used to say annoying things until someone beats him up. The line betwen Raw Miz and Curt Hawkins is dangerously thin. But here’s what I’m thinking …
Miz ends up in a match with Sami Zayn, because Kurt Angle can’t book Sami in a match during the week and has to wait to see if someone interrupts them while Raw’s on. Miz looks like he’s got the match won with a Skull-crushing Finale after Maryse grabs Zayn’s leg, but Zayn reverses it into a victory roll for the surprise three.
Now, this will probably be outdated by the time a lot of you read the column, but if you’re reading this on Monday afternoon, here’s my idea: The Miz should react to the Sami Zayn loss by going back to Smackdown on Tuesday. There’s no rule that says you can’t shake up someone from the Raw roster just because they joined it on Monday, right? Miz can claim he’s coming back to Smackdown because he doesn’t want it to lose its top star, and we can all know the real reason is that he lost on Raw to a guy who never wins. Miz gets to keep being Miz, Daniel Bryan gets to keep being annoyed and insulted and frustrated into returning someday, and Raw can use Curt Hawkins as Curt Hawkins instead of Mike Hero.
Worst: Welcome To Raw Booking
Speaking of Hawkins, he shows up to somehow less reaction than he gets on Smackdown to demand a welcome. He gets the Big Show, who casually punches him out and leaves. If you went into this thinking (1) Curt Hawkins needs to look worse, (2) we need to devote an entire segment of a post-WrestleMania roster switch Raw to showing how worthless one of our wrestlers is, and (3) Big Show needs to prove he can beat WWE’s least successful wrestlers, congratulations, this was for you.
And hey, at least Curt Hawkins got to be on Raw. Apollo Crews got sent to Raw earlier in the day and just got to smile about it backstage. Kalisto didn’t even get that, because they’re probably afraid of letting him cut a welcome to Raw promo. Good that we’re saving some stars for the coming weeks, though, because it’s not like we’ve got three hours of TV time to fill.
Worst: I Have To Find A Clever Way To Say “Dean Ambrose Is Soft” Every Week Again
The other big Shaken-up Superstar™ from this week’s opening is pro wrestling’s Chris Gaines, ‘The Lunatic Fringe’ Dean Ambrose. Here’s a complete list of everything good about Ambrose being on Raw:
- If Rollins and Reigns both stay, that means all three Shield guys are on the same show again, which means the Shield could get back together.
Longtime readers of the column know that despite how much of an obvious upside Dean Ambrose has as a talker and a performer, babyface “crazy” Dean Ambrose is probably the worst and least believable character in WWE. His strikes are Huggies® soft, his rebound lariat makes The Worm look physically economical and his suicide dive (or, as we call it, the Diving Gentle Push) couldn’t knock over a house of cards. Combine that with WWE’s understanding of “insane” as “says stuff we think is funny and doesn’t seem to understand what’s going on,” and you’ve barely got a wrestler at all. Dean Ambrose the character is a keychain you buy at Spencer’s that makes fart noises.
So, of course, Ambrose goes over Kevin Owens in the main event. The announce team is super into the idea that whoever wins between the Intercontinental and United States Champions is the SUPREME CHAMPION, which is the same champion but with tomatoes and sour cream (credit: @JoshSchippe). After the match, Jericho returns and beats up Owens, signaling that either Owens is headed to Smackdown with the United States Championship tomorrow, or Jericho’s switching shows and winning it back at Payback. Probably the former rather than the latter.
So. Really looking forward to that Shield reunion, I guess!
Best: Top Guys
In the week’s best news, non AMBULANCE MURDER edition, The Revival are still using a portion of each Monday Night Raw to target and absolutely fucking decimate the New Day. Last week they shoved over New Day’s stupid otter pops cart and broke Kofi Kingston’s ankle.
This week, they no-sold a Kofi Kingston blowup doll and turned Xavier Woods into a non-consensual contortionist with a Shatter Machine counter to the Midnight Hour. Look at the neck bridge on this thing:
Let’s hope tomorrow Big E shows up on Smackdown with TWO blowup dolls, and the Revival greets him by running him over in a car and driving it back to Raw. Hashtag Top Guys.
Best, I Guess: TJ Perkins Turns Heel
You know it’s bad when a heel tells you you’re a joke and you’re like, “yeah, well, you’re right.” That’s the treatment TJ Perkins got. He got in Neville’s face, Neville was like JOG ON YA SCOOT or whatever it is people with that accent say, and Perkins was like, “aw, I should do that.” And then he beats Austin Aries via DISTRACTION ROLL-UP and executes the rare victory followup heel turn. Dude won and is like, “and also I’m heel now!”
I am not suddenly interested in Perkins — I know I usually instantly throw in with wrestlers I hate when they turn heel — but I’m very happy that if they’re keeping him around, they’re doing ANYTHING other than what they’ve been doing. The choice now is, does he stop dabbing, or does he EVIL dab? Dabbing has always been a heel move, let’s be honest.
I also reserve the right to retroactively love the character if he shows up next week like, “I don’t even LIKE video games! Couldn’t you tell? I don’t even know what a Mare-io is!”
Note: the only people more heel than kids who dab are people who say “mare-io” instead of Mario.
Worst: Jinder ‘Katsuyori Shibata’ Mahal
If you’re wondering why Finn Bálor’s face looked like a Flux Capacitor after his match, it’s because Jinder Mahal caught him snug with the Roid Rage Elbow and (apparently) legitimately knocked him out. Unless ol’ Finnegan decided to sell it by smashing his face into the mat unprotected. He’s got those marks on his face because he accidentally used the bridge of his nose and his brow as a tripod.
Pretty soon Jinder’s gonna get so many veins in his arm he’ll have the power to punch the walls of reality and reboot the entire promotion.
At WrestleMania 33, Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton shit the entire bedroom with one of the worst WWE Championship matches you’ll ever see. If you missed it, Bray made the ring look like bugs. Orton reacted to this by hitting his wrestling moves and winning the match. In a long, seemingly endless string of incidents in which Bray Wyatt tries to be spooky and gets his ass kicked over it, this was the worst.
Now he’s on Raw, and his next goal is … facing Randy Orton for the WWE Championship. At Payback, the Raw-exclusive pay-per-view. So Bray is a Raw superstar facing a Smackdown superstar for a Smackdown title at a Raw pay-per-view. Got it. And it’s a HOUSE OF HORRORS match, which I’m hoping is a Chamber of Horrors match from WCW and ends with Bray getting electrocuted.
Anyway, like Ambrose, Wyatt’s one of those guys I’ve forever wished better for, and am continually disappointed by. Disappointed by their booking, I guess? Disappointed in how the characters are presented, and then creative doesn’t do anything to empower those characters. Ambrose doesn’t seem crazy, he seems like a stupid guy. Wyatt doesn’t seem spooky, he seems like an ineffectual dork who can’t close the deal on his mind games. If we get full-on Demon vs. Demon fights, hell, sure, I’m all-in. But if we get lantern promos and somebody being kidnapped and messages on the wall leading to a double-stomp at SummerSlam or whatever, no thank you. No thank you times a million.
Worst: Independent Dana Brooke
+1 to the writers for remembering that before Emma got injured, Evil Emma and Dana Brooke were a thing. But minus a dozen additional ones for the decision to have Dana be her “own protégé” and stan for the women’s division’s growth instead of throwing back in. I don’t have much to say about this other than “this is the opposite of what should’ve been done,” followed by, “Dana Brooke, really,” followed by, “is there anyone out there really hoping Dana Brooke learns to stand on her own two feet and be the Alex Riley she knows she can be,” followed by, “at least Emma’s not saddled with Dana Brooke, and can go over to Smackdown by herself to be champion on a show where people remember she exists.”
Best: The Raw Women’s Division
Very few things needed shaking up™ more than the Raw women’s division, and if this segment is any indication, it just got freshened up in the best way. Earlier in the night, Charlotte Flair lost to Nia Jax in a match that more blatantly than most was her goodbye to Raw. Dana and Emma got quarantined into their own backstage thing, which suggests one or both of them are gone. Everyone else is in one big segment together, and I think it really works.
- Bayley continuing to be a strange combination of a woman and a child, like Garth Brooks’ Baton Rouge girlfriend, and walking on eggshells around everyone in the world
- Sasha Banks looking very ready to flip a switch and turn EXTREME RUDO on Bayley
- Sasha’s imminent heel turn being interrupted by former Smackdown Women’s Champion Alexa Bliss, who has hopefully come to Raw to teach its women how to act and sound like human beings when they talk
- An interruption from Mickie James, who adds a veteran presence to the division and can presumably help everyone learn to work big matches without hurting themselves, Sasha Banks and Bayley I’m looking in YOUR direction
- A random assault from Nia Jax, to let us know she’s still here and still relevant
Bayley, Sasha, Bliss, Mickie and Nia is a pretty dope women’s division. If Dana goes and Emma stays, it’ll be even better.
Worst: Oh Great, The Drifter
Corey Graves’ call says it all. During the 8-man tag introductions, NXT also-ran Elias ‘The Drifter’ Samson shows up and “drifts” onto the Raw stage. Earlier in the night they showed him wandering through the crowd and didn’t mention it, and if they’d stuck with that, it would’ve been fresh and creative. Instead, dude drifts onto the set when the least amount of people watching would care — hi, Hardy Boyz — and overstate him. So, Elias Samson is on Raw now. At least Big Show didn’t wander out and punch him in the face.
Best: The Hardy Boyz Greatest Hits Tour Continues
In another match that felt like it was happening because someone in it’s heading to Smackdown tomorrow, Sheamus and Cesaro team up with Matt and Jeff Hardy to take on the Shining Stars and future Smackdown Superstars unless something really stupid happens, The Club. Like all of the Hardyz appearances since WrestleMania, it’s an excuse to send out the Hardyz and let them do their moves. And hey, it works. The crowd’s uproariously chanting ONE, TWO, THREE to the same Poetry in Motion, Twist of Fate and Swanton Bomb they’ve seen for decades. Ain’t gonna hate on them.
RIP to the doot-doot doot-doot-doot Sheamus and Cesaro chant, though. Probably for the best. We’ll always have Orlando.
Best/Worst: Seth Rollins
First things first, I’m glad Seth Rollins is staying put. If Dean Ambrose is here now and Roman Reigns is presumably staying as well (because he’s too injured to go to Smackdown on Tuesday night), that nurtures our precious amber-preserved Shield reunion.
Second things second, the Rollins magical recovery story continues to not make sense. The guy couldn’t get medically cleared to compete at WrestleMania unless he signed a hold harmless agreement, right? No doctor in the world would clear him. So he spends 26 minutes getting his leg beaten up on Sunday, is somehow medically cleared to compete the next night after the additional damage and now his knee is totally fine after MORE damage? Did his knee get torn up so badly it reset to zero like a speedometer?
Rollins shows up to cut another of his patented Talk Forever ?-?-??? promos, ending with Kurt Angle telling him that sure, Stephanie McMahon wants him gone and he’s probably a dead man walking for indirectly putting her through a table at WrestleMania, but as long as he’s GM, Rollins has a home on Raw. That’s immediately followed by Samoa Joe jumping him, and Angle doing suspiciously little to get between them. Theory: Kurt Angle is obviously still in love with Stephanie McMahon, and they’re keeping Rollins on Raw until she gets better so they can personally ruin him. I mean, what else would necessitate a Shield reunion? Dude’s gonna need somebody who hates the Authority to watch his back.
Best: Oh My God Braun Strowman Is The Best
I didn’t think a segment could top the Festival of Friendship this year, but they might’ve already done it.
Backstage, Roman Reigns plans to walk back on that baller five-word, 15-minute promo from last week by having a boring, sit-down interview about how much he respects the Undertaker. Before that can go too far, Braun Strowman shows up and beats the ever-loving pre and post-resurrection holy Christ out of him. Braun has promised to finish this grudge for good, and he does so by throwing Roman into every surface he can find, lobbing him through bizarrely-placed tables and powerslamming him onto production carts. At this point we’re already like, “damn, this segment is great.” The joke is that after a beating like this, Roman Reigns may be incapacitated until later tonight.
Then, as Roman is being taken away on a stretcher, Strowman RETURNS, screaming that he’s NOT DONE WITH YOU YET, and RUNS THE GODDAMN STRETCHER OFF A LEDGE.
At this point we’re like, “okay, best segment ever,” and the joke is that a wheelchair-bound Roman Reigns is gonna wheel up next week just in time to see Seth Rollins kissing the girl he likes. Trainers, EMTs, referees down to help Roman, as they reattach him to a gurney and load him into an ambulance.
We didn’t think it could get any better, but then Braun Strowman comes roaring back in and punches him a bunch in the ambulance. THEN HE FLIPS THE AMBULANCE WITH HIS BARE HANDS.
I swear to God, if he’d set the ambulance on fire or driven a semi truck into it we’d have had to canonize him for it. I don’t want to tell WWE what to do, but if they don’t use Roman’s god-given talents of pissing everyone off to give Strowman this continued rub and turn him into the biggest star in the company, they are damn fools.
And man, how great would it be if that Shield fantasy booking I had up there came true, and the Authority realized they had to unleash Braun to stop it? And then we had the Shield fighting Braun Strowman like Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman fighting Doomsday. WHAT IF BRAUN STROWMAN PULLS THEIR HELICOPTER OUT OF THE AIR.
Pro wrestling is the best sometimes.
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Week
“What’s Jericho doing here?”
“YOU STILL OWE ME FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS FOR MY SCARF AMBROSE”
Elias Samson should go to New Japan and become the Tokyo Drifter
Cee Lo Green : Well, there you have it, that’s our story, Roman’s dead. Good night.
Man, WWE must really be having money issues. They had to cut back pretty drastically on their backstage clangy poles
Braun doesn’t give a shit about yards, he’s a metric system giant.
So, Sami just won a match. He also won a match last week, that makes two in a row. If he wins again next week, that’s called a winning streak.
Shane: ‘hey, we’ve really got Miz over as a player this year’.
Vince: ‘hold my beer’.
“Kalisto is coming to Monday Night Raw!”
*cruiserweight division traded to SmackDown*
I like Bray’s initiative; he hasn’t even finished losing to Orton and he’s already setting himself up to lose to Finn. Go grab that brass ring, you go-getter you!
The Real Birdman
Charlotte out here finding out what it’s like to be Sasha Banks when she wrestles Charlotte and almost dies every 5 minutes
That’s it for this week. Thank you so much for reading, and I hope you enjoyed the amba-lance flipping. Be sure to click those share buttons to spread the column around, drop down into our comments section to let us know what you thought of Raw, and be back here at With Spandex on Tuesday night for our coverage of the back end of the Superstar Shake-up™.
Tune in next week for Raw opening with a shot of a burned down local medical facility and Braun Strowman punching the shit out of a skeleton.