Previously on the Best and Worst of WWE Raw: Paul Heyman put Brock Lesnar into his phone as “BROCK,” all caps, no last name. The Miz destroyed a grandfather clock with a steel chair. Nothing else really happened.
Remember that With Spandex is on Twitter, so follow it. Follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook. You can also follow me on Twitter. Also, make sure you’re reading the vintage Best and Worst reports.
Hit those share buttons! Leave us comments, spread the word about the column on Facebook and Twitter, and tell everyone in the office you’re not working because you’re busy reading jokes about pro wrestling. We’re out of WrestleMania season and still a couple of months from SummerSlam, which means we need to fight to keep people interested in the product. Nobody’s watching Raw. I’m not even watching it. I’m just making this all up. You can tell because the cruiserweight matches are so short.
Note: Don’t forget, I’m now two weeks into writing the Best and Worst of Smackdown Live, so if you like my writing but wish I could write about a better show, there you go.
And now, the Best and Worst of WWE Raw for June 12, 2017.
Best: The Show Peaks Too Early
If you’ve been watching Raw for the past … wow, five years now? You know there are only two Brock Lesnar segments actually featuring Brock Lesnar’s presence on weekly shows:
- Brock Lesnar standing still and/or hopping up and down in place while Paul Heyman cuts a promo about him, then leaving, or
- Brock Lesnar standing still and/or hopping up and down in place while Paul Heyman cuts a promo about him, someone confronts them, and that person and Brock get into a wild, pull-apart brawl that usually involves someone getting shoot punched or shoot kicked and one or both parties bleeding
This week’s best news is that the Brock Lesnar segment opening the episode is the second kind, which is pretty predictable but at least involves punching. Heyman does Paul Yeoman’s work of putting over the Coquina Clutch as a move that almost killed him, then straight-up says Samoa Joe ain’t man enough to get the clutch on Brock. That brings out Joe and tempers flare, and the pull-apart is on. Thankfully Curt Hawkins got into his ring gear earlier in the day and was able to run out and help separate them. He was really the difference maker there.
The build for Lesnar vs. Joe has been really great so far, so I hope they give us an actual wrestling match worthy of the build. With Brock these days, you never know. Let’s hope working with Joe, the influence of Kurt Angle being around and an actual storyline build other than “conqueror exclamation point exclamation point” will get Brock to show up to Great Balls Of Fire Pay-Per-View® in his worker boots.
Also, I really hope Titus O’Neil gets fined for putting his hands on Brock Lesnar.
Worst: Goldust Is STILL NOT WRESTLING
Apparently Goldust broke both of his legs when he turned on R-Truth five shows ago and has to sit still in an away-facing director’s chair until they heal.
Truth also gets another pre-taped promo, which makes me wonder if (kayfabe, of course) Goldust and Truth aren’t in on this together, and staged a breakup so they could tape a bunch of promos in an afternoon and take a month off. I hope they keep doing these for another five weeks, and then the payoff is Goldust and Truth teaming up against Heath Slater and Rhyno or whatever with nobody mentioning the turn.
What We Technically Didn’t Do Inside The Purple Ropes This Week
The combined length of this week’s two cruiserweight division matches was ten seconds. For two matches.
Up first, looking to unseat Bayley This Is Your Life as the worst Raw segment of 2017, is Noam Dar vs. Cedric Alexander. Before the match, Alexander approaches Dar backstage and clarifies that he’s no longer participating in their love triangle angle, and that he’s done with them. He is, however, a Raw Superstar, which means he only gets one opponent to wrestle if he wants to be on the show. So, Cedric Alexander vs. Noam Dar happens.
Except it doesn’t, because the ring crew taped an entire set of ring ropes purple so Dar could FaceTime with Alicia Fox and AirPlay it on the TitanTron so we all had to hear it, only to turn into Cedric’s finisher the second the bell rings and lose in ten seconds. Remember the Cruiserweight Classic, when the guy busted so much ass the crowd chanted “HIRE CEDRIC,” and didn’t stop until Triple H had to like, wander out and execute a handshake agreement with the dude in front of everyone? Think of that when you see him do the terrible “step in, look up, pause for applause” thing babyfaces do in backstage promos. Or watch him win in ten seconds while the camera focuses on an upside-down iPhone.
Fairing even worse somehow (in a much better segment) is Rich Swann, who gets beaten up mid-dance by Neville and just kind of beaten to death before the match ever starts. Neville cuts a promo with his hair all whipped to the side and matted to his head so he looks like a newborn foal, and again, we wasted like 20 rolls of purple tape getting the ring brand-ready for a promo and some phone goofs.
Worst: The Brand Split Isn’t Helping Anyone On Raw
The next two matches are Dean Ambrose vs. Elias Samson, which ends with The Miz interfering to set up another Dean Ambrose vs. The Miz match, and Apollo Crews vs. Kalisto. Ignoring Samson for a second, who deserves another understated supplemental Best for being an enjoyable 2-D character with no baggage, these four guys all came over in the brand split, only to feud with each other.
Ambrose vs. Samson is fine, and it’s good to see the Drifter get another win over him even if wins and losses are effectively meaningless — Ambrose is getting infinity Intercontinental Championship matches until he wins it back — and it ended due to a distraction. As usual, Ambrose’s offense looked like this:
After the match, Kurt Angle confronts Miz backstage about the interference, and if I didn’t know any better I’d say Kurt’s on drugs again. The conversation goes like this.
Angle: “How could you attack Dean Ambrose tonight?”
Miz: “If you don’t want me to attack him why don’t you do something about it”
Angle: “I will do nothing!”
Angle: “Handle this yourself! Go attack Dean Ambrose!”
I honestly think WWE Creative is a United States Government situation right now where a charismatic but legitimately senile, hateful 70-year old is writing POO-POO PEE-PEE on folders and signing his name at the bottom, and everyone under him has to scramble to spin it. “Poo-poo pee-pee means Angle doesn’t want Miz to attack Dean Ambrose, but is chill with Ambrose attacking Miz whenever. Because ATTITUDE!”
A little later, Miz finds Heath Slater eating cheese and crackers with Rhyno because they are professionally bankrupt and uses The Marine 5 to try to guilt Slater into joining his entourage and watching his back. Rhyno takes exception to that, and because the ghost of Teddy Long still haunts these halls, Miz ends up needing a mystery partner for a tag match against the guys he was talking to.
His partner? The returning Damien Sandow. Just kidding. It’s the returning Daniel Bryan. Just kidding. It’s the returning John Morrison. Just kidding. It’s the returning Chris Jericho. Just kidding. It’s the returning Alex Riley. Just kidding. It’s JOHN CENA. Just kidding. It’s the fucking guy in the bear costume from last week’s celebration that is definitely not Dean Ambrose.
The most interesting thing about this to me is that (1) the bear felt the need to ride a tricycle to the ring, which is a common thing bears do, and that (2) … okay, this one’s actually going to need some clarification.
As the match progresses, Miz starts getting paranoid — bearanoid, I guess — about Ambrose being in the bear costume. Michael Cole is just HAMMERING the shittiest bear puns you’ve ever heard the entire match, too, because this is the comedic polar opposite of Breezango vs. the Usos. Cole is Bojack Horseman doing stand-up and saying, “do you get it? You get it? Did you get it?” after every joke. Anyway, Miz attacks the bear and unmasks him again to reveal another NPC. Turns out it wasn’t Ambrose after all!
So Miz gets back in the ring to continue the match, and the bear rolls in after him. But when Slater tries to rally the bear to attack Miz, the bear turns on him and hits Dirty Deeds. Then, thanks to the magic of either “crazy lunatic” Dean Ambrose hiding under the ring in a bear costume after purchasing TWO BEAR COSTUMES and enlisting the help of a stranger who knew they had to get beat up to make the gag work or perhaps teleportation, Ambrose has now fucking Quantum Leapt into costume to beat up Miz. WHEN HE COULD’VE JUST RAN TO THE RING AND PUNCHED HIM IN NORMAL CLOTHES. KURT ANGLE SAID HE DIDN’T CARE.
It really says something that Alicia Fox screaming “GNOME? GNOME?” through FaceTime is challenged for the worst segment on a Raw episode. The only high point is this image, which is peak Dean Ambrose. How could you ever take this guy seriously as a threat?
Worst: Can’t Wait To Read Tomorrow’s Report On How Emma Is Injured And Will Miss 3-6 Months
Now that we’ve handled the “bear giving a businessman a blowjob” scene from The Shining, let’s jump right into Room 237: the Raw women’s division.
The only actual women’s match this week is a six-woman tag, set up by a Parade of Promos that made me wish Stephanie McMahon would show up and put them into the first-ever Money in the Bank ladder match later in the night. That would’ve been the most Stephanie move of all time, assuming she also won it. Or at least like, got to scream at whoever won it about how they’re not as important as her.
Anyway, the focus of this SHOULD’VE been the return of Emma. If you haven’t been following along, Emma got called back up to the main roster as her superior Aviators and half-gloves Evil Emma character only to quickly get hurt, requiring back surgery that put her on the disabled list for about four months. Once she was better, they didn’t bring her back. Then they started saying she would “premiere” as EMMALINA, a sexy, Instagram-themed (?) version of herself. After a seemingly endless parade of Emmalina promos that kept her off TV for another 18 weeks — seriously — she debuted, only to cancel the gimmick mid-debut and return to Evil Emma. And by “return to Evil Emma,” I mean “return to videos hyping the return of Emma.” Then, as soon as she was back, she got hurt again. Sometimes it feels like Emma is a pro wrestling Sisyphus, cursed to forever push a bubble up a hill, only for it to roll back down, separate her shoulder and pop.
Once Alexa Bliss, Nia Jax, Mickie James, and Dana Brooke are in the ring arguing about who deserves a championship opportunity, Emma re-re-re-debuts. She says she deserves a shot, which is interrupted by Sasha Banks. Banks realizes she can end the segment with punching, so she does. That sets up the six-woman tag, and with a nihilistic smile on my face I DARE you to guess how the match ends. No, seriously, guess.
If you guessed, “Emma tapping out,” congratulations! Everything is the worst!
The other women’s division content for the night is a sit-down interview with Bayley, who still sounds like she has a gun to her head whenever she has to cut a promo. She hits all the talking points — she’s wanted to be a wrestler her whole life, she’s gonna be herself, she’s “Just Bayley” — and promises a refocusing without ever actually mention that her character turned into an up-her-own-ass Mr. Poopybutthole over the last three months.
Bayley ends the promo by asking Graves if she can hug him. If you wanted clear evidence that the Bayley character as we knew and loved it is dead and gone, watch how awkward it is. Graves looks at her and the camera like he’s not sure whether he should hug back or like, put her down. Bayley’s response is, “Felt good. Right?”
No. Absolutely not.
Worst: I Mentioned Apollo Crews Vs. Kalisto Way Earlier In This Column But Then Forgot To Write About It
You know what sucks? Apollo Crews and Kalisto actually made some progress in their Extreme Rules kickoff match and had maybe my favorite fight of the night. On Raw, they fight again, only this time it ends in two minutes and nobody cares. It’s like someone in charge got mad at them for trying and yelled, “DO IT AGAIN, DO IT RIGHT.”
After the match, Titus O’Neil pulls Akira Tozawa out of the crowd like Goldberg pulling his weird shirtless son and, also like Goldberg and his son, held up his hand in victory. At least he didn’t do it via FaceTime.
Worst: Bray Wyatt Is So IRL Sad He Can’t Even Do His Corny Bullshit With Any Passion
Paul Heyman is wrong. Dueling promos from Bray Wyatt and Seth Rollins is the worst case scenario.
Worst: MORE FOOD SEX
In the grand tradition of Tyson Kidd wants to have sex with Burger King chicken fries and Enzo Amore wants to have sex with both a box of chicken and a Snickers bar comes “Noam Dar wants to have sex with a Pizza Hut pizza.” It’s so sexual that the entire joke is that he has to give The Club his pizza so they don’t tell his girlfriend he was “cheating on her” with the pizza. He’s having, like, a fancy dinner with it and talking to it.
Who is the insane monster who keeps reacting to promotional ad sales with, “what if we have the wrestler try to put his DICK in the food?” Is a wrestling fan not gonna believe it if Noam Dar eats a piece of pizza and says the pizza tastes good? Does he have to want to roll it up and jam it up his ass? That’s the only way I can even imagine to have sex with a pizza, unless you wrap it around your junk in a pig-in-a-blanket scenario.
STOP MAKING WRESTLERS DO IT WITH FOOD, WEIRDOS.
Worst: No Tall Guys Allowed!
“But Big Cass is out here!” “It says no tall guyssss. We’re allowed to have one.”
Unfortunately, Big Cass gets attacked from behind before he and Enzo Amore’s first-time-ever match-up against The Club (on Raw) (in June) (of 2017) (because Big Show filled in for Cass last week). That gives him concussion-like symptoms, which is juuuuust enough for the world’s worst tag team to capitalize and pin Enzo. The Club gets two victories this week: one against Enzo and Cass, and another against sitophilia. Look it up.
After the match, Big Show makes the save for Enzo. Big Cass gets upset about this, because his scripts are written by a four-year old who just learned how to write but hasn’t yet learned how to share. And who I guess thinks people can only have one friend at a time. Man, I really hope this story ends with The Revival being like, “yeah, we beat them up every week, but we have no idea why they’re acting like a bunch of assholes about it.”
He’s Big-Dogging Us!
Spoiler alert: the announcement is that he’s actually the one getting the Universal Championship match at Great Balls Of Fire, with the stipulation that the loser gets a title shot at SummerSlam, which he will also be. He’s also getting a title shot at Hell in a Cell. Either that, or he’s leaving the Raw brand on July 3 and returning to his original gimmick, John Cena.
Worst: Cesaro In A 2-Out-Of-3 Falls Match. Yes, They Made Me Dislike The Best Thing Ever
Last week we got a brief reprieve from the seven straight Hardy Boyz vs. Sheamus and Cesaro-related matches with the new Tag Champs wrestling Heath Slater and Rhyno. Well, Heath Slater. One week away from the match proved too much for WWE Creative, so this week we have THREE Hardy Boyz vs. Sheamus and Cesaro matches. It’s a best 2-out-of-3 falls match. That ends in a draw. And the Hardy Boyz win the post-match fight.
To recap, these teams have fought in either one-on-one, two-on-two or three-on-three matches for 8 of the past 9 Raw shows. The Hardys have won 6 of those, tied on this one, and only lost at Extreme Rules via an illogical technicality. All to build to another pay-per-view match between these two teams. That’ll be 10 matches, minimum, in 3 months.
I’m tapping out, man. I can’t handle this Raw. Join us next week when Dean Ambrose faces The Miz, The Club wrestles Enzo and Cass, Goldust and R-Truth yell at each other in pre-taped promos and The Hardy Boyz take on Sheamus and Cesaro.
Best: Oh, Hey, A Best. I Forgot What These Looked Like. The Top 10 Comments Of The Night
This was easily Brock’s best match of 2017
How will Big Cass respond to being called sawft? I guess we’ll find out next week on DegRAWssi
A real bear is inside the bear costume, and inside that bear’s belly… Ambrose is waiting for the moment.
Bear-on Corbin was right there, Graves!
The swerve this week is that Dean Ambrose is hiding inside Rhyno
I would have loved it if Emma just rolled into the ring, threw Dana Brooke over her shoulder, shouted “mine!”, and left with her.
Bayley: “Do you mind if I write my promo tonight, sir?”
Vince (distracted watching NBA Finals): “Sure, kid. Knock yourself out.”
Bray Wyatt looks like the halfway point of a True Hollywood Stories documentary about CJ Parker
A Walk with Elias sounds like an Oscar winning movie that everybody hates 5 years later
Kevin Nash Booked This
Bayley This is Your Life: “I’m the worst segment in Raw history!”
Alicia Fox Facetime: “Hold my beer.”
Monday night raw is a bad tv show