Previously on the Best and Worst of Raw: John Laurinaitis showed up looking for his job back, and Shane McMahon didn’t give it to him, so last week’s show was terrible. I don’t remember anything else about it.
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And now, the Best and Worst of WWE Raw for June 27, 2016.
Worst: IT’S A SHOOT
So, Roman Reigns got suspended for 30 days for a wellness policy violation. The going theory is that they let him improv a promo and everyone got so sick they told him to go home.
Jokes that really need to be better aside, WWE’s already micromanaged it to perfection. Roman apologized in a tweet, the suspension wasn’t announced until after he dropped the belt at Money in the Bank, and the suspension will end in time to get him back for the main event of Battleground. WWE experiences an extremely mild amount of embarrassment via procedural enforcement, and Roman gets gently shamed for a thing that in a few months will feel like when he missed time for a hernia or nasal surgery.
Objectively, WWE could’ve handled it in one of two ways:
1. Not acknowledge the suspension on TV, because it’s only for 30 days and plenty of stars leave TV for month and come back later like nothing happened, or
2. Wade around in the “Reality Era” by completely throwing Roman under the bus, get Seth Rollins some heel heat by having him be a total ass about it, and concentrate on the Rollins vs. Ambrose aspect of the feud for a month.
Both of those options severely underestimated how obsessed WWE is with making Reigns look like a precious misunderstood baby, so they didn’t go with either. They chose to have Rollins say he’s “not supposed to talk about” the suspension as the first talking point in a show-opening promo, then having him illustrate what an unexpected live-mic shoot it was by presenting PREPARED TWITTER GRAPHICS. He says Reigns should be booted from the main event at Battleground, so Dean Ambrose shows up and is like, “LOL Roman Reigns is great, shut up u bitch.” Any heat he could’ve gotten from rubbing Roman’s face in it, positive or negative, is immediately neutered. Seth just kinda has to stew in it, and all night the announcers remind him that Roman Reigns is in the Battleground triple threat no matter what and Seth should stop being a baby about it. When Roman Reigns isn’t onscreen, everyone should be asking, “hey, where’s Roman Reigns?”
The promo gets interrupted by AJ Styles and then John Cena, and then Stephanie McMahon, a lady who hates Teddy Long, shows up to do the trademark “nothing was booked for the show, let’s turn this fussy argument into matches” bit. What did y’all have planned before all these interruptions happened? If Styles was brushing his teeth during the Rollins promo and never triggered a Cena appearance, what, was the main event the Lucha Dragons vs. the Hype Bros?
Terrible stuff all around. So far, the “New Era” is like giving the Philadelphia Phillies red uniforms during the regular season. Sure, it’s a fresh coat of paint, but it’s still the f*cking Phillies.
Best: Sasha Banks Is Doing Things
+1 to WWE for putting a commercial break in the women’s match to push it over the 2-minute mark. It counts! They made Becky Lynch vs. Summer Rae last less than a second to compensate.
Joking aside, it’s great to have Sasha Banks back, especially if she can give the rest of the female babyfaces applause by proxy. At this point I’m okay with anything that makes Paige an actual character on the show again, and gives her more character development than, “some say Paige started the Divas Revolution,” and, “holds the flaps of her little jacket in her hands during backstage segments.”
Sasha and Paige take on Charlotte and Dana Brooke, and they manage to give Sasha a strong, clean win over the heels without having her tap out the champion. I miss this feud when it was built around longstanding character relationships and history (and not just “I want the title” and “NO I WANT TO KEEP THE TITLE AND CHEAT” plus interchangeable third-wheel friends), but I’m ready for Sasha and Charlotte to tear it up and bring us a little closer back to that WrestleMania promise.
Best: Titus O’Neil, Throwing Hands
Worst: Count-Outs For Grudges
I’m still a fan of Titus O’Neil foregoing the pageantry of pro wrestling to punch Rusev in the face for making his kids feel bad. I wish everyone wrestled with that kind of intensity and purpose. You’d think people who fought for a living would have a sense of urgency behind their fighting, and everyone wouldn’t come across like a lazy dancer.
What I don’t like is Titus taking a count-out win here. It makes sense, I guess — Titus wants a win any way he can get it, because he’s a lower-level guy and wins are supposed to be important, and beating the champion in any way gets him closer to another title shot — but it doesn’t really say “grudge.” If Rusev beat you by submission in the middle of the ring and humiliated your family, are they gonna feel better that you got your win back on a technicality?
If they’re gonna do that, I wish they’d at least give Titus a TV followup interview where he’s like, “I hate to get the win like that, but I need to keep winning if I’m going to get another shot at the U.S. title.” Don’t make me spelunk for that sh*t on Backstage Fallout.
Yes, JBL, Titus wants to win so he can get the title shot he’s “wanted for so long.” The one he got 8 days ago.
Worst: Come To Darren Young, The Shining Star Of Wherever Darren Young’s From
Best: Bo Dallas Is The Hardest
Enzo Amore and Big Cass are on a mission to turn me against them. Last week they insulted John Laurinaitis for no reason, and now they’re making fun of the Social Outcasts. Next week they’re gonna share a bunch of photoshops of Baron Corbin’s stomach and send me into a rage.
Enzo and Cass start a wave (no) and quickly defeat two of the saddest “local talent” guys you’ve ever seen. They make Skyler and Hollis look like American Alpha. When that’s over, the Outcasts return from filming The Marine 5 and talk about how they’re hard, which is, you see, the opposite of soft. It’s BONER JOKE CENTRAL as Bo and Heath and Curtis Axel argue about which one’s the hardest, and it’s great until you realize that “sawft” has become a social trap where there’s no right answer. It’s the “why’re you hitting yourself” of insults. All I wanted was for Bo to say, “I’m the hardest, and at Battleground, we’re going to f*ck you.”
I’d be upset about “Bo Dallas says his dick is harder than Heath Slater’s” being the highlight of Raw for me, but hell, we just had an episode about a dude f*cking a trombone, so I’m taking my wins where I can get them.
Best I Guess?: Becky Lynch Figures Out The Booking
The Monster High doll that Natalya’s become sits in on commentary for Becky Lynch vs. Summer Rae, so Becky just leaves the ring and attacks her. I kinda dig it, in that it cuts all the middle-of-the-story bullsh*t and gets straight to the Punching For Being Punched. It’s like someone finally watched Raw’s women’s segments and figured out the pattern.
That said, I’d have rather seen a good Becky vs. Summer match, but I’m weird.
Worst: THE WORST
The f*ck was this?
It’s 20-goddamn-16. There is no reason I should be watching The Miz defend the Intercontinental Championship against Kane, with a fake injury purposeful-count-out finish. No reason.
If you missed it, The Miz returned from demanding quail protein on the set of The Marine and ran into Corporate Kane, who puts him in an Intercontinental Championship match against “a demon” as punishment for not regularly defending it. I know some of you thought that meant Finn Bálor was gonna show up, but that’s like a dying dude in a desert thinking there’s a pond and some palm trees in front of him.
We get Miz vs. Th’Demon Kane, and I guess Miz’s time off officially ended that “Miz is in good matches” hot streak. Why does he keep doing that to himself? Every time he gets some momentum going as a performer or gets a good story, he takes time off to make one of these direct-to-DVD features and it resents. Remember when they couldn’t properly blow off him vs. Mizdow because he had better stuff to do? Now his surprisingly hot IC title run is Kane matches with Maryse pratfalls as plot points. Woof.
The best (slash worst) part of the match is the finish, where Maryse pulls a LeBron James-quality flop on the ring apron, claiming to have been injured by … I don’t know, phantoms? She turns into Shinsuke Nakamura for a second …
… and Miz has to tend to her. He carries her to the back, causing him to get counted out. Yes, the United States Champion and Intercontinental Champion both lost by count-out on the same show. Later, Maryse reveals that she was just acting, and Miz is impressed. So … if Miz wasn’t in on it, was he being a good dude by helping his wife at his own expense? Is that a heel move, caring about your loved ones?
But really, what did he think happened to her? If she twisted an ankle or something, why did he need to rush her to the back? She wasn’t shot by a sniper. She didn’t need to helicoptered away for medical attention. If Miz was in on it, sure, carry her to the back to avoid having to wrestle Kane, but if he didn’t know, what is any of this?
Best: Alberto Del Rio Disbands The League Of Nations (Again)
Remember when the League of Nations broke up? Anyway, here’s Alberto Del Rio and Sheamus teaming up against Cesaro and Apollo Crews. Those two are a team because … Ricochet knows them both? Who knows. They’re both freaky strong, freaky agile bald guys. The match isn’t bad, but it’s kinda the crossing of four streets where all the traffic’s driving backwards.
The crowd is dead for most of the show, and during parts of this match you can actually hear their thoughts. That’s what happens when you ask people to emote for Kane vs. Miz in 2016 and then say, “there’s like an hour and a half left of this.” They come alive when Del Rio decides to smack Sheamus in the face and kick him in the head, presumably because he’s Sheamus, and f*ck Sheamus. The babyfaces take advantage by dropkicking the steps into an already hurt Sheamus and powerbombing him for the victory, because babyfaces.
I’m very into an Alberto Del Rio turn at this point, even if it’s just making him a tweener, because (1) heel “perro all the time” Del Rio is a pile of hot plastic garbage, and (2) the last Del Rio face run was hella pandery and didn’t understand why people might actually want to cheer for Alberto Del Rio. WWE should pay attention to the beginning of his Lucha Underground run and play him up as a Hispanic Cesaro who is tall and handsome and rich as f*ck and can beat you to death in real life if he wants to. It’s not ever gonna be Stone Cold Steve Austin, but it’ll play to his strengths for the first time ever, maybe light a fire under his ass and keep him from feeling like a prejudiced mannequin every week.
Fantasy booking for Crews and Cesaro: Keep them together as a tag team, give them matching gear, have them do crazy feats of strength and make them the most popular guys on the show without asking either to give 15-minute speeches.
Fantasy booking for Sheamus: do not book Sheamus
Worst: Sister Abi-fail
Just to throw it out there, the initial “we’re here” New Day parody with a lantern of unicorn horns and Big E dressed like a cartoon farmer was good. The New Day version of the Wyatt Family BLEARP was amazing. That’s probably where this should’ve ended. They should’ve just used it as a funny intro to a match.
Instead, New Day continue the gag into the ring and turn it into a THE WYATT FAMILY SMELLS BAD thing straight from Vince McMahon’s cackling mouth. Did you know the Wyatt Family has bad breath? OH THE HUMANITY. Bray shows up and is as threatening as always — read: not at all — and promises them a bunch of stuff that’d be ominous and scary if we’d ever seen Bray Wyatt win a feud. I legitimately can’t see WWE’s spookiest supernatural character winning a battle of wills against a twerking guy in a jumpsuit with WASH ME written on the back.
I hope the Xavier Woods stuff goes somewhere real. Note: “Woods revealing that he was just kidding the whole time and Bray Wyatt has no powers” is not a place.
Best: BE FRIENDS
1. Chris Jericho is the best character on the show, and I hope the “man” part of “drink it in, man” gets longer every week. I want him to start it before a break, continue it through the commercials and come back still doing it. If anybody can do that, it’s beautiful heel-ass Jericho.
2. I appreciate any arguing of semantics between Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens, especially the ones that make Zayn sound kinda self-righteous and make me identify with horrible human being Kevin Owens. Like, all the stuff Zayn is saying is true, and Owens has been such a jerk to him for so long that Sami couldn’t possibly be asked to sugar-coat it, but damn, some of that “everything you’ve ever accomplished and everything you’ve ever lost is because of me” stuff is a little sanctimonious, ain’t it?
3. Owens and Zayn kicking Jericho in the face to end the segment was great, and I hope they really do “end it” at Battleground and end the match with a hug. WWE’s hammered home the rivalry for so long, it’s time for them to show us the friendship. Then, on some glorious day in the hopefully distant future, Owens will turn on Zayn again and the process will repeat itself.
4. Taking another line to say that heel Chris Jericho is my favorite wrestler.
Worst: Video Game Booking
The crux of the show is built around the fallout from the opening segment, with John Cena and AJ Styles fighting for spots in the Battleground main event. Two major problems here.
The first is the way the matches are presented. They’re essentially a skeleton to force the Styles vs. Cena feud forward like it’s a MyCareer story in WWE 2K16. “John Cena and AJ Styles are in a feud.” That means Styles is gonna distract Cena and cost him his match, and that’ll make Cena show up later and cost Styles. It’s the most obvious thing in the entire world. Raw should just be renamed WWE HOLDING PATTERN until the draft. Do we need this bullsh*t storytelling? The Club cost Cena a match at Money in the Bank. Cena’s gonna get his win back. Just do it. It’s Cena and Styles.
The second is the idea that we’d want to f*ck with the Shield triple threat at Battleground at all. Does anybody want that match to be Ambrose vs. Rollins vs. Reigns vs. Cena? It’s the Shield triple threat. We’ve been trying to do that sh*t since the Shield broke up. They stuffed a wellness suspension into a cycle to make it work. Why know the guy is suspended, announce the match before the suspension, mention the suspension on your show, have all the face characters say “the match is happening as advertised,” then tease cramming in a bunch of changes? It’s just a time-killing circle-jerk.
On top of all that, these matches should’ve been good, but didn’t do anything for me. Cena and Rollins have had some true classics, but Cena looks like he might’ve lost a step coming off the injury and all that time off. Those Wolverine healing genes might finally be slowing down. I’d vote to retire that superplex into a Falcon Arrow combo, too, because it’s too much to not be pinning anybody, and I never want to hear Michael Cole say “Falcon’s Arrow” in the possessive again. Styles vs. Ambrose was just like Styles vs. Nakamura, if Nakmura was covered in bubble wrap and didn’t want to hurt anybody. Are we ever gonna give Ambrose an edge? Why is he being “funny” to Seth Rollins? Didn’t he want to dig that dude’s eyes out with a screwdriver?
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Week
The New Day: “Keep a positive attitude!”
Bray Wyatt: “Children are starving and dying right now.”
Oh no, it’s Bray Wyatt: Social Justice Warrior
The Real Birdman
“The following contest is scheduled for one fall and is for a possible storyline and/or any character development”
Kane is so old, even his mask is wrinkly.
Stop, stop! My penis can only become so flaccid
Wrong. F*cking. Demon.
SAMMY IS SO ANGRY HE DIDNT SKANK
I hope when Darren Young finally wrestles again he and Backlund just blatantly cheat to win.
This better pay off with Darren telling Bob that he’s gay and Backlund’s head just exploding like Scanners.
Pro Wrestling Gorilla
Odds on Big Show turning on the Special Olympians before they hit the Gorilla position?
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