Previously on the Best and Worst of WWE Raw: The Miz, a man who a few months ago was doing the best work of his life against the biggest star in the company, entered into his second week of bear costume-based feuding with Dean Ambrose. Stay tuned for the third part of this epic trilogy!
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And now, the Best and Worst of WWE Raw for June 19, 2017.
Best: Putting Respect On His Name
So, in a moment I’m giving a Best because I’m clinging to the idea that he’s is a disassociative entitled heel piece of shit on purpose, Roman Reigns opens the show with his major announcement: he will face the winner of the Great Balls Of Fire Universal Championship match at SummerSlam. This dude just lost a fatal five-way for a shot at Brock Lesnar, gets the production team to make him an IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT graphic a week in advance, then schedules the opening segment of Raw so he can announce that fuck you, he’s getting a title shot anyway, at a more important pay-per-view that isn’t named after a child-and-cousin-fucker’s hit song from 60 years ago. His rationale? He is a BIG DOG, and the ring is his yard. Isn’t it weird that we have 2-3 authority figures on every show now, but there’s no actual work procedure and the only way for an employee to succeed is to piss off as many important people as possible and insist that it’s justified?
Anyway, this handsome storybook prince with a beanstalk up his ass talks shit about Raw’s shorter, fatter, uglier Samoan guy named Joe, refusing to add the “Samoa” to his name. To Roman, Samoa Joe is “just Joe.” If you watched Sunday Night Heat in early 2000, you know how insulting that is. Joe’s response is to headbutt him in the face and kick his ass, because Samoa Joe rules. That leads to that frustrating thing where Roman’s opponent hits him 20 times, Roman responds with one punch and they play Roman’s music like he won the fight. It also sets up the night’s (hour two) main event, Samoa Joe vs. Roman Reigns.
And it’s a hell of a match, too. Much better than their first one-on-one match the night Joe made his in-ring debut on Raw, and that one was pretty good, too. Joe wrestles with enough sense of urgency that it kinda pushes through Roman’s more Cena-esque tendencies, and we know that if you want the best of Roman Reigns, you’ve either gotta wrestle him with some serious intensity or just hit him for real. Either one works.
You’re not gonna remember much about the actual match, though, not even Joe going blow-for-blow with Reigns, because of the finish. It’s a distraction finish, sure, but it’s the best kind of distraction finish. Roman’s setting up for a spear, and we suddenly hear the sound of a heavy vehicle backing up. It turns out an ambulance is backing into the arena, and out of it steps this beautiful hillbilly rage bear:
Here’s the full clip.
Roman is shocked because Strowman was supposed to be out for up to six months, but modern medical science did not take into consideration the SWAMPBILLY CULTIST MAGIC that went into constructing Sister Abigail’s Black Sheep and imbued him with the power to flip ambulances. And the campy love of dramatic entrances it takes to rent an ambulance and have it back into a wrestling arena at exactly the right moment to pop out of the back and scare folks.
So yeah, Joe grabs a clutch and makes Roman pass out, winning the match. As Roman’s recovering, Strowman stomps down to the ring to clarify that he’s not finished with you yet and hits him with the deadly THROW YOU AT THE GROUND. Braun officially challenges Reigns to an ambulance match at Great Balls Of Fire Pay-Per-View®, and Braun Strowman seriously deserves a People’s Choice Award or something for trying to sound scary saying “Great Balls Of Fire Pay-Per-View.”
Great stuff. Having Strowman back instantly makes the show feel a million times better. The 3-hour wrestling show really missed its one over dude.
Best: Praise The Lord, Goldust Is Wrestling Next Week
Goldust turned on R-Truth five Raws and six Raw-produced 3-hour wrestling shows ago, and since then they’ve been sitting in rooms cutting pre-taped promos against each other. I’d started to think Goldust had accidentally broken his legs or something. But hey, it looks like this is all finally going to pay off next week, as Goldust actually wrestles again and the feud with Truth either blows off or, more likely, has the first of its six or seven matches to build to the seventh or eighth one on pay-per-view.
That sounds a little catty because Raw has tossed me ass-over-head into a mystery spot of depression and anxiety lately, but I’m hype for this. Classic Goldust is something I want in my life very badly, and if they give the match with Truth some time and don’t treat it like an afterthought, that’s two talented vets — serious veterans — who could tell a great story and put on a show-stealer. I hope it’s that.
If Raw had them cut promos on each other for five weeks and blows it off in 90 seconds with cheating or a distraction roll-up, I’m calling my congressman.
Worst: The Hardy Boyz Are The Only Face Tag Team On Raw
Want to know how long it’s gonna be before the Hardy Boyz get “broken” in WWE? Right now they’re the only face tag team on Raw. The only one. Golden Truth broke up. Enzo and Cass get broken up at the end of this episode. New Day left, Sheamus and Cesaro turned. Why do you think Sheamus and Cesaro have only been wrestling the Hardys? It’s such a sad situation that Sheamus and Cesaro wrestle Titus O’Neil on this show. Heath Slater and Rhyno might count, but they’re jobbers on Raw at best and barely even wrestlers, and Slater might end up turning on Rhyno to join Miz’s Marine posse.
And hey, if you didn’t think the Club could sink any lower on the WWE totem pole, the ENTIRE DIVISION is heel tag teams doing better than them. They don’t even have the damn Colons to fall back on now. The backstage bits where they scream about how they’ve been IWGP Tag Team Champions are starting to become Zigglerian in their futility.
Worst: Bray Wyatt
I don’t even know what he said this week. Does he ever say anything different? At this point all I see and hear when Bray Wyatt shows up is Pizza the Hutt from Spaceballs.
What’s especially bad is that he interrupts what might’ve been one of the best babyface promos of Seth Rollins’ life. He talks about how cool it is to be on the cover of WWE 2K18, and while the “this isn’t my cover, this is OUR cover” stuff is a little hacky and disingenuous, it’s a nice enough angle to take. But then Lex Loser’s gotta chime in with this week’s Spooky Tales From Under The Fedora and ruin it.
Best: Agnosticism For Face Heat?
Jump to the 3:30 mark in the video. Seth Rollins: “The truth about Gods, Bray, is that they only exist in our minds!” Damn, Seth, why don’t you architect Santa Claus out of our lives while you’re at it. I’m giving this a Best for the novelty of a pro wrestling babyface using “God is bullshit” as face heat.
But for real, this feud might have less merit than anything else on Raw right now. What are they even beefing about? Does anybody know? Rollins keeps trying to get babyface heat by reminding us he’s only here because he sold out and turned heel — which isn’t even really the story, as the Shield were heels too, they just hated The Authority and the Wyatts — and Bray keeps trying to say he’s a God, which doesn’t have anything to do with what Seth’s saying. Rollins isn’t scared of him, because nobody should be, and jumps on him. And Bray’s still like, “BUT GOD!” What are they doing?
Join us in three weeks as Bray Wyatt takes on Russian revolutionary anarchist Mikhail Bakunin! And loses!
Best: BO DALLAS LIVES!
Before the match, Finn Bálor interrupted The Drifter’s latest song. Fun note: if you’ve played Bioshock Infinite, close your eyes and listen to Elias Samson’s pre-song banter and tell me that’s not Father Comstock talking. Later, Samson ambushes Finn backstage as revenge.
None of this is as important as the fact that BO DALLAS IS BACK, and now he’s some sort of Bo Dallas/Wyatt Family hybrid with a big beard and lots of screaming. And what’s even better is that he beats the shit out of Finn Bálor. Just takes him to the woodshed for most of this match. That’s where we are right now, the first Universal Champion is getting beaten up by Bo Dallas as a lead-in to a feud with Elias Samson. What a world.
But no, Bo looked really good in the ring here, and it pays off later in the episode. And one of the things I like about current babyface Finn Bálor is that he doesn’t just murder these guys he wrestles, he lets them beat him up for a while first. Guys like Jinder Mahal and Bo Dallas get to throw hands at him for a while before he starts Slingblading and dropkicking them to death. It’s sorta the difference between Sting and Hulk Hogan, you know? One guy made his opponent look good so defeating them seemed like an accomplishment, and the other typed in a cheat code at the end of the match that let him bury their best moves and shit all over them.
Later, as mentioned, The Miz approaches Bo and Curtis Axel (hi, Curtis Axel!) backstage and asks them to join his entourage. It’s a great bit of continuity, because we’d previously seen Miz approach the most successful of the Social Outcasts/his Marine 5 co-stars, Heath Slater, and get turned down. So now he’s going to the backup, shading Bo and Axel and convincing them that being stooges for a guy who’s on the show every week is better than not being on the show at all. Hey, it worked for Damien Sandow. And Alex Riley. And Daniel Bryan!
So just to say it, I’m giving the allegiance of Miz, Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel a big, happy Best. I have to clarify it, because there’s a Miz TV segment involving wacky Dean Ambrose and bear costumes coming up.
Worst: My Love For You Is Ticking Clock
First of all, I don’t think “the bear community” means what Miz thinks it means.
This week features another installment of a happily married couple suddenly at each other’s throats because of the constant life interference of a greasy Bugs Bunny in jeggings. Miz has Maryse as his guest on Miz TV to apologize to her for accidentally busting up her chifforobe or whatever and knocking her off the ring apron. He’s even repaired the grandfather clock she gave him! He used “glue, tape and polish,” which is coded language for, “nobody in WWE creative nor the Miz has ever had to repair a large clock.” There are also apology bears, because WWE bought a gross of identical bear costumes and God dammit, they’re gonna use them.
Dean Ambrose interrupts and ruins everything, because he is a terrible person. Miz pulls Maryse in front of him and she spills champagne on herself, and then Miz accidentally breaks the clock again trying to attack Ambrose. Ambrose’s catchphrase needs to be “WOOP WOOP! WOOP WOOP!” and bouncing around the ring on his head.
The silver lining here is that the apology bears turn out to be Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel, and part of me hopes “The Apology Bears” is their official team name. I hope Heath Slater decides to stop hanging out with Rhyno in the cracker factory, and that the Miz/Maryse strife is just an excuse to write her out and replace her with Summer Rae. Because The Marine.
Best: Titus Brand, And Neville’s Stupid Voice
One of the best things about this Raw is that even when it was boring, it was wrestling boring. Like, Tozawa vs. TJP wasn’t as good as their 205 Live match (and I don’t want to spend 10 minutes watching TJP do anything), but it wasn’t last week’s “one move/pre-match attack” two match combo that lasted 10 seconds, and that’s a damn improvement. Plus, Tozawa’s senton is the bomb (cough), and “the POWAH of TOZAWA” might actually get over. Stupid Bojack Horseman-lookin’-ass Titus O’Neil and his affable awkward dad charisma!
Also especially great is Nevile, who spends the entire match and post-match promo sitting like this:
and has now abandoned his Vegeta promo voice and instead says everything like he’s doing the Lemmy talking parts before Motörhead songs.
Titus’ second effort on the night is less successful, possibly because standing next to Apollo Crews lowers your charisma by 5. Titus and Apollo take on Sheamus and Cesaro, and while the match isn’t great and the crowd is completely dead for it, I want to again compliment Raw for at least being Wrestling Boring, and not doing the mind-numbing card regurgitation gimmick they’ve been doing for the past few months. At least some of these matches are fresh, or at least haven’t been done twice in the past week.
Another plus is that Sheamus and Cesaro win, and that they didn’t wrestle and/or lose to the Hardy Boys. Seriously though, they’re gonna be DOA as tag champs if they don’t get some non-Hardys babyfaces in that division. Maybe Smackdown can trade Raw the ghosts of American Alpha?
Worst: Raw Attempts To Out-Do The Women’s Money In The Bank Ladder Match
This match answers the question, “what happens when you’ve got 10 minutes left in the show and forgot you had a women’s division?”
It starts as Sasha Banks vs. Nia Jax, with Alexa Bliss on commentary. After about 90 seconds of nothing, Emma shows up and chases Alexa to the ring. Alexa tries to get behind Nia for protection, but Nia throws her to Emma. And, because everyone in the Raw women’s division is stupid, Emma somehow misses a kick and kicks Nia in the stomach. That draws a disqualification, and then suddenly Emma and Alexa Bliss are allies who want to beat up Sasha Banks. That brings out Dana Brooke and Mickie James, who have the combined momentum of a stationary kumquat, and that brings out Bayley. If last week’s “I’m a loser, can I hug you” bit didn’t make you continue to wish Bayley wasn’t a thing, maybe watching her throw strikes that make Shawn Michaels’ chops look like Kenta Kobashi’s will.
Basically Raw forgot to write something for the women, wrote something at the last minute and has no interest in making any of them look good. WWE 2K18‘s slogan is “Be like no one,” but Raw’s is, “You’ll like no one.”
Worst: Gasp, What, No
This segment includes:
- Kurt Angle saying he’s “cracked the case” of who has been attacking Enzo Amore and Big Cass, so much so that the production team made a graphic and devoted the MAIN EVENT to the revelation, only for Kurt to have figured out nothing. He just brings out all the people who have been accused so far and is like, “hey, did you do it?”
- “Littlefinger” Corey Graves having security camera footage that proves who was behind the attacks but not talking to Kurt Angle about it, even though he’s been talking to Angle about it for weeks, and I guess doesn’t talk to him between Mondays
- The Revival standing around doing nothing
- Big Show getting upset that someone would accuse him of attacking his friends, even saying “YOU KNOW ME” to Angle, despite being the wrestler most associated with turning on his friends in the history of pro wrestling
- Big Cass protesting too much and making up medical reports
- The shocking (extending coughing) reveal that Cass is actually the one who had been attacking Enzo, followed by a good but still 10-minute long promo about exactly why he did it
Why this was the main event instead of that great Samoa Joe vs. Roman Reigns match with BRAUN STROWMAN AMBULANCE RETURNS is insane, but I guess they’ve completely given up on hour three and are booking their important stuff to end in hour two.
And before you ask, I did actually like Cass’ promo. It’s the fastest he’s ever talked, and the most he’s ever sounded like a real person outside of those NXT promo school videos. And his rationale is obviously correct. Enzo sucks. He should’ve beaten Enzo’s ass a million times before now. But what I don’t like is that the greatest heel turn move POSSIBLE for ANYONE right now would be Cass blindsiding Enzo from behind for no reason during one of their big pre-match speeches. It’s SO BULLETPROOF. People would’ve lost their minds. It would’ve been instant and kinetic, and would’ve had Cass be the ultimate heel by heeling on the act that got him over. Instead you … have a big conversation in the ring, followed by a bunch of denials of a heel turn, followed by video footage of Cass orchestrating his own attack like an idiot, followed by LOTS OF ADDITIONAL TALKING? And THEN you have him boot Enzo? Why?
Also great here is Enzo, though, I’ve gotta say. That guy cried on cue. I feel like Enzo might be a better actor than he is a wrestling character. Or a wrestler. I also love that all that stuff Cass was saying was, like, Enzo’s real life insecurities laid bare.
And so ends Raw, with the continuation of WWE’s year-long rumination on the worthlessness of friendship. Golden Truth broke up, DIY broke up, Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens broke up during a Festival of Friendship, and now Enzo and Cass have broken up. The worst things you can do in WWE are (1) have friends or (2) be married. WWE: we put smiles on people’s faces! We hope you’re extremely unhappy!
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Night
Me: “That was an okay ending of Raw. Good night, everyone.”
Cole: “Coming up next, Kurt Angle will announce who beat up…”
Me: “I SAID, ‘GOOD NIGHT, EVERYONE’!”
When you’re friends with a guy
Who kicks you in the eye
The Real Birdman
I hope a bucket of chicken hits Cass from behind with a chair
Sylvester Lefort: FINALLY! VINDICATION!
The Perfect Tim
“Friendship is a myth and a loving relationship is the most evil thing possible.”
Corey Graves: “And now, I’m gonna go home and sleep with my wife!”
The only real heel turn here is from whoever took The Revival off my screen.
You know…it’s a pity they didn’t use this gag with Wade Barrett when he was around…that way they’d be….”Bad News Bears”
Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
Here comes Braun Strowman,
HE’S NOT FINISHED WITH YOU!
Soon they’ll show the vignette promising the makeover of the Raw Women’s Division to the Raw Women’s Divisionlina.
When Roman looked back on his career, during the segments with Braun Strowman, he noticed only one set of footprints in the sand.
“Were those the times you carried me?” Roman asked.
“No,” replied Braun, “those were the times I lifted your rag doll unconscious ass over my head and slammed your face into the mat.”
That’s it for this week’s show. A definite improvement over the past few weeks.
Join us next week for Brock Lesnar, who will dress up in a bear costume and get beaten up by three other dudes who are also bears.
Make sure to drop down into our comments section to let us know what you thought of Raw, and click those social share buttons and share the column on Facebook and Twitter and whatever else to help support your local snarky wrestling blog. And if you’ve got a Tumblr, please do not google “Jerry Lee Lewis.”