The Best And Worst Of WWE Raw 3/14/16: Come On Barbie, Let’s Go Party

Previously on the Best and Worst of WWE Raw: The Axeman Cameth.

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.

Up first, a routine traffic stop.

Before We Begin

Here’s what you missed at WWE ROADBLOCK, a show so good I have to stop and think to remember the name every time I type it. I keep typing “Battleground” and “Breakdown.” “Breakdown” is a much better name for a show like this on the Road to WrestleMania, right? WWE NETWORK PRESENTS: STUCK IN A DITCH AND WAITING FOR ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE.

Jack Swagger Stood Up For Canada (?)

If you need an immediate, one-photo review of the show, here’s Jack Swagger with American flag graphics and a “We The People” shirt trying to get over as a babyface in Canada against a Canadian.

Chris Jericho as a heel is the greatest thing. Jericho as a face is like Michael Jordan playing baseball. You want the guy to be happy and do what he loves or whatever, but come on, you’re the best in the world at what you do, do you understand the words I am saying to you right now? Jericho shows up to cut a wonderful promo about how much he hates Canada and gets the whole building booing him, and then … Jack Swagger shows up. A few minutes later, the crowd is chanting “Y2J.” Such is the power of Jack Swagger. We all knew going into this that it was a glorified house show — not even that glorified, I guess — but of all the house shows in the world, this was the house showiest.


Note: I honestly really enjoy low stakes, consequence-free WWE house show matches. They’re fun. You usually get to see the performers work a little more and show their personality, because they’re working for a contained audience instead of just the TV cameras. Roadblock was great in that regard, but also sorta drifted into the in-between.

The King Of Sawft Style

One thing that was GREAT about Roadblock was the NXT Tag Team Championship match. Enzo Amore, Colin Cassady and The Revival stole the show. Period. They proved that NXT-style matches can get over in front of WWE crowds, you just have to do actual NXT matches and not the half-assed approximations. Compare this tag title match to Sami Zayn vs. Stardust on the same show. Zayn vs. Stardust should be DOPE, but they’re too concerned with taking their time and dumbing everything down that it ends up being flat and cold. That sucks. That’s what WWE crowds are used to, but I think even most casual fans are ready to put 1 percent more effort into the show and look for something better.

The Revival vs. The Realest Guys was really good. It warmed my cold heart to see Enzo and Cass get over in front of a main roster crowd, even if their entrance speech featured a bunch of hilarious closeups of NXT dorks — no offense meant by that as I am absolutely one myself — trying to sing along and not get embarrassed that they’re the only person in their section doing it. Everyone will catch up, don’t worry.

But yeah, I don’t think I ever imagined a world where Enzo Amore would be out-performing Sami Zayn in the ring on the same show, but here’s f*ckin’ Roadblock. Enzo and Cass fail to win the big one yet again, but that’s fine, because (1) their home is on WWE TV, and (2) American Alpha’s going to rinse whoever has the titles at TakeOver Dallas anyway.

Brock Lesnar Does Not Enjoy Canada

In the same world where Enzo and Cass made Sami Zayn look like an average WWE guy, a Brock Lesnar match was the worst part of the show. WE’RE IN BIZARRO LAND, MAGGLE.


Lesnar was supposed to face Bray Wyatt, but Wyatt’s hurt, so they made it a 2-on-1 handicap match. Only, uh, Bray still couldn’t wrestle, so he stood outside the ring and watched Luke Harper wrestle. Normally I’d be all-in on a Brock Lesnar vs. Luke Harper match, but this had everything in the world working against it. First, it was based on a build that happened in January and was ignored for the entirety of February. Second, the bait-and-switch took the air out of the crowd, so they couldn’t even get up for the suplexes. Third, Brock Lesnar has a documented history of hating the sh*t out of Canada, so you know he’s not out there giving his best. Fourth, as much as I love Luke Harper as a performer, there is less than zero drama in a Brock Lesnar vs. Luke Harper match. There was no drama in Lesnar vs. Wyatt, and somehow making it 2-on-1 made it even worse? Like, of COURSE he’s not losing now. A total monkeys-flying-out-of-my-butt scenario.

So that’s what we get. Lesnar sorta sleepwalking through some German suplexes and Bray Wyatt standing on the outside, being about as effective as he would’ve been in the ring. Not a great situation.

Everyone Retained!

Everyone?

Roadblock had a lot of good wrestling on it, but there was a total absence of drama. Nothing happened, really, and nothing mattered. The New Day retained the Tag Team Championship against The League Of Nations. Charlotte and Natalya had a good Divas title match that would’ve been a lot better with even a week of build, but Charlotte retained. The secondary champs didn’t wrestle. The Revival retained the NXT Tag straps, and Triple H (of course) retained the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. It was all pretty good and Dean Ambrose threw a crotch chop, but … well, that’s it. WWE Live From Standing Water.

And now, the Best and Worst of WWE Raw for March 14, 2016.

Worst: Can The New Day Hope To Defeat These Guys They’ve Already Beaten

This week’s Raw starts the same way as Roadblock, with The New Day defeating two members of the League of Nations in a Tag Team Championship match. That sets up a post-match beatdown from The League, which sets up another New Day/League of Nations match for WrestleMania. WWE should really figure out a way to build to big matches without giving away every possible version of the match beforehand. Have I ever typed that before? I probably haven’t!

I want to type a bunch more about it, but I don’t even know what to say. The Mania challenge is 4-on-3 and not a tag-titles match, which doesn’t seem like the right call. Why not switch the belts at Roadblock or even here on Raw, and give The New Day a big moment and a title win at Mania? They’re already two-time champs, there’s nothing lost by having them drop the belts for a couple of weeks. What’re they going to do, prove they can beat a team they’ve already beaten every combination of? Besides, if Wade Barrett’s on your team, you automatically lose the equivalent of two guys, so the numbers game is still on New Day’s side.

I’ll give New Day a supplemental Best for dropping a Katamari Damacy reference, though. You know the way to my heart.

Best: Monochromatic Lucha Dragons

I liked two things about this match:

1. The Lucha Dragons’ gear, with Kalisto in all white and Sin Cara in all black. That’s a good aesthetic, and certainly better than that fluorescent yellow WWE focus grouped and decided Hispanic fans liked. Remember when they gave Alberto Del Rio a fluorescent yellow shirt and nobody bought it, and they decided to drop a highlighter-looking-ass Lucha Dragons shirt anyway?

2. How straightforward it is. This is a better version of Ryback than the one we got last week. He’s still a little too wordy, but decimating Kalisto’s tag-team partner to make a point about size differentials and then challenging him to a United States Championship match at WrestleMania is good. It gets to the point, and doesn’t leave us wondering why Ryback’s spent five straight minutes trying to name superhero movies.

I feel like Ryback vs. Kalisto at WrestleMania could be the sleeper match of the night if they give it a little time and play to each guy’s strengths. I don’t want it to just be Ryback doing bodyslams until Kalisto starts kicking him in the thigh. Rey Mysterio taught WWE that the only offense a big guy should sell from a little guy is thigh kicks. Drives me nuts.

Dear WWE: watch Prince Puma vs. Cage from Lucha Underground and give me something in that ballpark.

Best: Lookin’ All Bouncy And Ready

First of all, a supplemental Worst to Triple H for ruining Dean Ambrose’s promo. Ambrose works hard to put over the Roadblock match and says Triple H is in pain, and then 20 minutes later H shows up suited up, smiling his ass off, ready to beat up Dolph Ziggler. It’s not a huge thing, but it’s one of those moments somebody should’ve said, “Hey, let’s at least get H to rub his neck a few times.”

Ambrose is now Totally Fine not being WWE World Heavyweight Champion, and has his sights set on Brock Lesnar. He’s planning to evoke his past and get all Tournament of Death on Brock’s ass, and proves it by bringing a crowbar to the ring. He should bring a Daffney to the ring, too, but I digress. I love the idea that Ambrose isn’t scared of Brock but understands him, and knows that if he’s got a chance in hell of beating the guy at Mania, it has to be in a No Holds Barred situation. Brock’s weaknesses (as Ambrose has been shown to know) are nutshots and steel. If it’s anything goes, you can bring a crowbar to the ring and just beat Lesnar’s dick to death with it. It’s a good plan.

Lesnar wanting to fight anyway and having to show ass (because he understands his weaknesses, too) is great. You don’t have to have the guys brawl every week to set up the brawl, especially if we’ve already seen Lesnar put a dude through a windshield and walk on his face. I hope the WrestleMania match goes full CZW and features Lesnar German suplexing Ambrose through panes of glass and sh*t.

Best: Serious Mick Foley

Here’s a good start!

Mick Foley shows up to pass the torch to Ambrose, and, as you might’ve guessed, Foley’s interpretation of a torch is a baseball bat wrapped in barbed wire. “Barbie,” if you will. I’m a little bummed that Ambrose didn’t take the opportunity to reignite that abandoned feud from 2012 and throw Foley under the bus for ruining a generation of wrestlers with his hardcore bullsh*t, but I’m mostly kidding. That would’ve been a great feud, though. We wouldn’t have gotten The Shield, I guess, but … anyway, I’m getting off track.

Foley gives Barbie to Ambrose, and I’m reminded of how much I absolutely adore Mick when he’s a serious wrestling legend and not a dopey dad. Not that he shouldn’t be a dopey dad, that’s part of his charm, I just can’t take dopey retired wrestler dad seriously as a television character. He always seems like a winking-at-the-camera guest star instead of a part of a universe he helped create, and I love when he forgets his dipsh*t kids, leaves the Santa suit at home and remembers he was Catcus f*cking Jack. Less Noelle putting herself over, more putting the fear of God into Triple H.

I hope Ambrose hits Brock in the stomach with Barbie at WrestleMania and Brock just falls apart like Tetsuo in Akira.

Worst: Not That Great

Sometimes no matter how serious you want a thing to be, it doesn’t connect. Sometimes we can’t forget the histories of the characters, even if we aren’t historians. Sometimes we associate a guy with losing, and when he gets super cereal about winning, we still know he’s just here to lose. That’s Dolph Ziggler.

Ziggler stands up to The Authority, and it’s one of those things that’d kill if Dolph had any momentum. He was hot sh*t for a minute at the end of 2014, but spent last year getting into Kiss Me Arse matches with Sheamus and giving thank you gifts to other people’s girlfriends for shower harassment misunderstandings. He lost to The Miz in 30 seconds a few weeks ago, and almost all of his character development has been confined to Backstage Fallout segments where he complains about how good he is at wrestling. He’s standing up to The Authority here because he’s not “nothing left to lose,” but he also has nothing to win. Survivor Series 2014 is where he won, and what happened? He immediately lost again due to circumstances beyond his control. Cena made that call. What can he even do? He’s out here calling Stephanie names and getting slapped, but like, what’s his end game? He’s admitting that nothing he does matters and his bosses have made success an impossibility. He bullies his way into a match, then loses the match clean. The Authority didn’t cheat, H just reversed his finish and planted him. So, thanks for coming, I guess?

If Ziggler ends up as an Authority lackey, it’ll make total sense. That guy’s soul is completely crushed. He should be the new Seth Rollins.

Best: Dolph Getting Pedigreed

Of course, the match is good. Some of the nearfalls are great, especially H taking the superkick and kicking out at 2.9 repeating. The crowd doesn’t care, because the crowd doesn’t care about anything, but we’ll get to that a little later.

The best part of the match for me was Dolph taking the pedigree, which is the first time the move’s looked good in a long time. Rollins’ version is the dirt worst. He usually lets go of his opponent’s arms on the way down so they can take a flat face bump, but Ziggler stays hooked, goes down to a knee and eats it with his forehead. I mean, look at that picture. That’s a thing of beauty. Ziggler would be a pretty special snowflake in the world of pro wrestling if he hadn’t had to spend the last decade being “Dolph Ziggler.”

Worst: Roman Reigns Returns, Gets Booed, Goes HAM With A TV

Oh, and also Roman Reigns is back from weeks off due to one beatdown.

Roman entering from the stage instead of the crowd is a great moment, but that’s kinda sorta where the great moments end. He tries to get the jump on Triple H with what’s supposed to be a double-leg takedown, but ends up looking like one of those real slow Walls of Jericho counters. By the time he’s slamming Triple H’s face into the table everything feels awkward, and the crowd is booing. The fight spills to the back and H gets some Hawaiian Punch on the side of his head, and Roman beats him up with a TV. Roman, the freshly vacationed babyface, decides to attack the heel who just gave a face an opportunity and cleanly won a competitive match moments after the match. This isn’t me favoring the heels as a joke, JBL points it out. Roman’s jumping a tired guy. What a hero!

Best: Jack Swagger’s Chain Wallet

There are two great parts to the backstage attack, though:

1. The Usos finally remembering they’re supposed to be on Roman’s team and showing up to make him stop beating up Triple H. Haha, wait, what? I love the theory that they don’t actually care what’s happening, they just don’t want Roman to ruin that TV because if he does, they won’t be able to spend the rest of the night playing Nintendo.

2. JACK SWAGGER CHAIN WALLET.

They should give Swagger a full Gadzooks gimmick. Have him wrestle in bondage pants and bowling shirts with giant prints of Dragon Ball Z characters on them. Give him a barbed wire tattoo around his bicep and some spiked blonde tips. Tell me you wouldn’t pop for that version of Jack Swagger showing up with The Offspring’s ‘The Kids Aren’t Alright’ as his entrance theme.

Best: The Roman Reigns Girls

They’re like me watching a Chad Gable match.

Worst: What

R-Truth is dressed like a penguin because he wants Goldust to be his tag-team partner. Goldust doesn’t want him as a partner anymore.

R-Truth, when we tagged up, you used to cry. You said, “I love you like the stars above, I’ll love you till I die.” There’s a place for us, you know the Mania song. When you gonna realize, it was just that the time was wrong, R-Truth?

Worst: Tumbleweed Crowd

I don’t think there’s a more depressing moment on Raw than WWE shoehorning The Miz into Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens’ WrestleMania feud and the crowd responding to it with deafening silence. You could probably hear Owens’ color commentary from the nosebleeds. Poor Sami’s out here doing his armdrags and his new comeback animation where he clotheslines a bunch, sets up too early, gets kicked and clotheslines you anyway, and sh*t, he might as well be doing it in front of the fishtanks at PetSmart.

Worst: Team BAD Accent

If you haven’t figured it out, the show gets really bad around this point. Lana once again distracts Brie Bella, causing her to lose a tag match. That sets up Lana and Team BAD as allies we are formally calling Team BAD Accent, and segues straight into Lana confronting and challenging (?) Paige. Are we building to a triple threat, or to a Divas battle royal, or what? Is the match graphic just going to say AND THE REST?

Worst: A Night Of Distractions

Let me put it this way. When I format these Raw columns, I go through and copy in all the WWE Fan Nation URLs and write little Best or Worst captions under them to remind me what happened. This one was “a night of distractions,” and there were so many I couldn’t place it. That was last night’s Raw.

We had The Miz losing a match to Sami Zayn (WWE’s purest babyface) when he got distracted looking at Kevin Owens at ringside. Brie Bella lost due to a distraction from Lana, which has been happening for a weeks. Then we go into this Usos/Social Outcasts match, with the Dudley Boyz on commentary causing a total non-distraction which distracts the Usos but doesn’t really hurt them in any way, so it just makes it … more boring? Instead of the Usos doing their two moves, it’s a lot of squatting and squinting and pointing, then the two moves. It’s not great TV. There’s at least a full hour of this show that could’ve been scripted with one line. “Go out and wrestle, and don’t do anything conclusive.”

I’ll give Bo Dallas a supplemental Best for getting thrown to the outside, landing on his feet and doing a celebratory Bo Train about it. I’ll take the Best back for his singlet. Does Bo Dallas not ever get clothes that fit? You’re making me miss the Disney font diaper, guys. Oh, and shout-out to Curtis Axel for shilling Burger King. Curtis Axel’s probably the only dude in history I’d believe has a serious interest in Burger King hot dogs.

Worst: Neville Noooo

Pay attention on that baseball slide. Neville’s ankle gets trapped under his body and ends up fractured. That’s a terrible injury for a guy working Neville’s style at the worst possible time. Not only is it during the main event of Raw (more or less) against a WWE legend, it’s a few weeks before WrestleMania. Heartbreaking. Hopefully it’s not as serious as it seems, and he’ll be back before we know it.

I have to give Jericho a Best for saving the day, though. He calls an audible that’s disappointing, but gets Neville a win when he can’t get one on his own. Great veteran move there. It’s amazing how a change of perspective from Cool Dad to Cruel Dad can make me go from hating every decision he makes to being in complete reverence. I’m an easy mark.

Worst: Taker U A Ded Bitch LOL

Finally, we get a segment featuring Shane McMahon, Vince McMahon and The Undertaker that still doesn’t answer any pertinent questions or explain why everyone’s going through with the match. We still don’t know what (exactly) Shane has over Vince, we don’t know why that pressures Vince into giving Shane what he wants but also positions him to punish Shane for getting it (?) and making him jump through hoops he shouldn’t have the leverage to create (??), and we don’t know why The Undertaker’s doing what Vince says. Shane accuses Undertaker of being a puppet, Undertaker says he’s nobody’s puppet, Shane calls him a bitch, and Vince and Taker work together (sort of) to beat up Shane. It’s the same kind of ducksnort weird as the previous segments in the feud, which fell off the world’s tallest f*cking cliff after Shane’s return. What the hell are we doing, guys?

The highlight of the confrontation — for a match to determine the fate of WWE, featuring WWE’s most legendary active star in his signature match at the biggest show in company history — is Undertaker saying he’s “got these,” meaning his fists, and making us think he means his off-brand MMA gloves. That’s the highlight. Shane McMahon is fighting a giant zombie wizard and stops in the middle of his first burst of offense to dance in place. THE FATE OF THE COMPANY LIES IN THE BALANCE, GUYS. Do I need to bring Dolph Ziggler out here to explain it to you?

Note: This feud will be instantly, forever saved if Shane brings out the Mean Street Posse for backup and Taker just strikes them with lightning and sets them on fire. Saved forever.

Best: Top 10 Commments Of The Night

Flair4thegold

Undertaker only pawn in game of life.

TheGunslinger

Ryback: Shane, that was the best promo I’ve ever heard.

Beige Lunatics

Now Undertaker says he will destroy Shane, “with these hands of a true queen”.

Clay Quartermain

Sid is sitting at home: “it won’t just be me in the clips anymore!”

Brocky

Undertaker comes out, holds out a towel:

Ready
Willing
Gable

jayrig5

Sales Associate: You mean…leather daddy?
Jericho: Oh, is there such a thing? And will it light up?

Lester

Someone make like Mario and throw that penguin off a cliff plz

RidiculousHuman

Even facial reconstructive surgery couldn’t make him the top face.

AllGloryToTheHypnotoad

Damn you, TV monitor! This is for what you did to Dean!

The Stork

“GET ME NINETY THOUSAND OF THOSE GIRLS, DAMMIT.”
-Vince

Thanks for reading, everyone. See you next week. Give the column a share!

×