Previously on the best and Worst of Raw: Charlotte told Ric Flair that she didn’t need him anymore, na na na na hey hey hey goodbyed him and made him cry. Also, 6 of 7 (?) Money in the Bank competitors were announced, and Seth Rollins made a big-time babyface return just to pretend like he’d been here heeling every week. But hey, Big Match John returns this week.
Share this! It helps us out more than you know.
And now, the Best and Worst of WWE Raw for May 30, 2016.
Worst: It’s Warriors/Thunder Game 7 So We’re Just Gonna Make This Up As We Go
Shane: Welcome to Raw!
Stephanie: Welcome to Raw also!
Shane: So, Smackdown is now going to be live, which will make it good somehow
Stephanie: Yes, all that time we had to edit the show in post made it worse! No editing means better whatever it is we do!
Shane: look at this great piece from Geocities dot com slash WWE News with a Z slash index dot HTML-
[New Day interrupts]
New Day: sup
Shane: Hey New Day, you look like you have something to say … do you?
New Day: yes we certainly do!
Stephanie: I’M THE MOST IMPORTANT, STOP IT
New Day: so Smackdown is going live?
Shane: that’s what we hear via breaking news on Forbes, yes, we have no further information
New Day: cool
New Day: A lot of these sites are saying the brand split is coming back, y’all know anything about that
Shane: yes it may happen
Stephanie: and it may not, we are still trying to figure it out
New Day: cool
New Day: So like, do you know when that’s happening?
Shane: not yet, still figuring it out
Stephanie: we literally just heard about this for the first time on What Culture
New Day: oh, cool
New Day: if we do the draft again can we stay together, or nah
Shane: who knows?
Stephanie: there is literally no way to tell, ask again later
New Day: that’s fine
New Day: sigh, should we twerk now?
Best/Worst: The Vaudevillains Ruin Stephanie’s Dancing
As you might’ve gathered from my decision to give it the “Shane McMahon running Raw makes no sense” treatment, this week’s opening segment is like 20 minutes of tumbleweeds blowing across empty ghost town streets. New Day tries their best to make something entertaining of it, but it’s just Shane and Stephanie announcing Smackdown going live — an announcement that takes a maximum of five sentences — and stretching it out into a quarter hour. It’s ridiculous to not just go ahead and announce some draft and brand extension info to get us excited for what’s going on, isn’t it? Why keep that sh*t close to the vest? You know your rosters and your plans going forward, don’t show up with the promise of progress (in whichever direction) and put 15 minutes of nothing between it and your ass bouncing.
And speaking of that, The Vaudevillains earn a Best for managing to improve the opening by interrupting it at the point of no return, and a kayfabe Worst for doing so right before Stephanie McMahon started dancing. If you’re out of the loop, Stephanie dancing is irrefutably the best part of any episode wherein it happens, whether she’s mom dancing to a Sousa march or condescendingly Go-Daddying Vickie Guerrero. Her interpretive dance to John Cena’s entrance theme remains an all-time great Raw moment. Stealing a Stephanie dance is like stealing the sun from the sky, you antiquated monsters.
Best, I Guess: In Da Club
That unforgivable interruption leads directly into The New Day vs. The Vaudevillains (again), and it’s very clear that everyone involved is just going through the motions waiting to get to the post-match attack. Sometimes I lose the ability to explain these filler matches. They aren’t bad, but they’re like watching the computer wrestle itself in a WWE game.
The post-match attack is good, though, so we’re gonna lean into Best territory. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson show up and attack The New Day, causing a disqualification and replacing The Vaudevillains as the one team The New Day will wrestle for the next month. At least it’s not the Usos! The Club’s very good in these brutal, sudden attacks, and I wish there was a way to get more of that sense of urgency into their matches. They jump teams and beat the Christ out of them, and then when it’s time to wrestle it’s the same pacing as everyone else. The match at Extreme Rules was better because it let them just be in the ring together trying to beat people up instead of adjusting to WWE tag match rhythms. Different teams should wrestle in different styles, and sometimes WWE match types overpower anyone actually performing them.
Anyway, New Day vs. The Club could be very good, especially if they tie it into (spoiler alert) the John Cena attack that happens later in the night. Or, if we’re being pessimistic, it accidentally crams New Day into a John Cena angle as his Usos and it ends with them writing POOPY on AJ Styles’ dirtbike, or whatever.
Best: Cruise Show
Sheamus is off promoting Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret Of How These Keep Getting Made, so the only followup we get from last week’s attack is Apollo Crews having some pushups interrupted by The Big Show.
My first thought here (other than “The Big Show really emphasizes how small Crews is and sorta makes it look like one of the Ninja Turtles is trying to fight Krang’s robot body) is that it’s nice to have someone other than an interviewer or general manager talk to Crews backstage. Apollo Crews is a great wrestler and has a great personality, he’s just been treated like an action figure since his signing. He might as well be a cardboard cutout someone left in the ring and asked to do backflips. Giving him a conversation with a veteran character might give him a little context and depth, which he desperately needs. Then I started thinking about how fun a Crews/Show tag team would be, and all the “Cruise Show” jokes I could make. THIS IS THE BEST CRUISE SHOW SINCE MAMA MIA, etc.
Then I thought about it a little more, and realized Show’s “Sheamus is a bully and he must be stopped” stuff is just part one in the endless two-part “Big Show turns on everybody” routine. Next week he’s gonna punch Crews and talk about how much he hates the New Era after all. Then at Money in the Bank he’ll turn on Sheamus or something, I don’t know.
Worst: Who Is Supposed To Look Good Here?
As far as I could tell, the epic 30-year Golden Truth story was about how Fandango and Tyler Breeze realized via slumming it that they were kinda sorta soulmates and could be a great team of handsome jerks, leaving crazy people Goldust and R-Truth forced to finally team up, work through their issues and eventually become a strong, popular, successful tag team. That would create two actual tag teams you could use for actual wrestling matches on your multiple, actual wrestling shows.
On Raw, FaBreeze lose clean to the Usos in like two minutes. Golden Truth is at ringside on color commentary and get blamed for the loss, even though their only contribution to the match was calling Byron Saxton “Coach” again. So FaBreeze attacks Golden Truth and immediately lose a fight to them. So the team that keeps losing wins an outside-the-ring fight they were barely a part of, and the team with a little momentum in a match against guys who’ve been hurt for the past month lose in 2014 Diva time and get beaten up twice.
It’s probably not a big deal, but it seems like “everyone loses, now let’s see who can lose SLIGHTLY LESS” isn’t much to get excited about.
Are We Seriously Still Shilling Puerto Rico
Primo: “Come to Puerto Rico, where we have some nature!”
Epico: “Sorry you don’t have nature! Puerto Rico is great!”
Camera Man: cool, that’s all we need, see you later
Primo: hey wait can we do one more
Camera Man: why
Primo: we really love puerto rico
Camera Man: … all right, but make it quick
Primo: “Did you know Puerto Rico has women and food?”
Epico: “We don’t starve here, and women are sexy! Come to Puerto Rico!”
Primo: “Take a nice vacation!”
Epico: “WE LOVE YOU, TAKE A NICE VACATION”
Camera Man: all right, got it, I thought you were supposed to be bad guys though
Primo: we are
Epico: yeah people hate us so much
Primo: because we want them to have a nice time in a nice place
Epico: LOL we are such assholes
Camera Man: cool well see ya later
Primo: ummmm can we do one more
Camera Man: seriously?
Primo: one more, I forgot something about Puerto Rico
Camera Man: … one more, and that’s it.
Primo: “Puerto Rico is made up of land, water and air. People live here and some enjoy it.”
Epico: “If you came here, you’d have thoughts about it. We love it!”
Primo: “Please come here and hang out with us, we love you”
Epico: “We want to hug and kiss you and tell you you’re great”
Primo: CUT! Haha we are such pieces of sh*t
Camera Man: okay we got 6 months worth of these, take it easy
Primo: um actually can we do 15 more
Best: Rusev Forever
Two great things here:
1. John Cena returned and got sidetracked with a big angle, meaning those omnipresent fears I had about Big Match John bounding in from out of nowhere to murk Rusev and take back the United States Championship aren’t coming true. That’s such a relief, because a refocused Rusev plus Lana Classic minus the League of Nations minus constantly feuding with one specific guy can be (and routinely is) one of the best parts of Raw.
2. I am SO IN LOVE with the finish here. Rusev usually sets up the Accolade with a big taunt and a stomp to the back, but here he’s like the machines from The Matrix Revolutions. Zack Ryder hits the ground and Rusev just SWARMS him, locks on the Accolade while he’s still low to the ground and just cranks it back, Kalisto Death-style. It’s so much better and more believable than a comical, old school Iron Sheik camel clutch. I don’t think he needs to lean back on it all the time, but I adore this setup and hope he keeps using it in more life-or-death moments late in big matches. It’s like when Kurt Angle added the grapevine to the ankle lock. It’s the evolved version. The next step up, that you break out when you really need to win right now.
Worst: Titus O’Neil, AMERICAN
When Titus was yelling at Rusev about how True Americans fight for what they believe in, I was hoping Rusev would come back with, “that’s what I’m doing, I just don’t believe the same stuff you do.” Rusev has always been transparent as hell with his motivations and allegiances. That dude was the hero of Russia. He’s not fighting for Our Freedom or whatever, but he’s certainly principled.
A wonderful, supplementary Best to Rusev for getting called a “blowhard” and responding with, “What is blowhard? WHAT IS BLOWHARD?” Rusev speaking is the best thing.
Worst: Absolutely Nothing
Here’s a clip of WWE presenting me with this Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins confrontation:
What can you even say? Roman Reigns is like, “Seth Rollins, stop being a coward or I’m gonna beat you up.” Seth Rollins shows up a week from recovering from major surgery and for all intents and purposes being a guy we all kinda like, and he acts like a coward. He keeps acting like he’s gonna do something, but he doesn’t. Roman Reigns just stands there in the ring instead of, I don’t know, chasing dude down and beating his ass. It’s all about mind games, between two guys who don’t seem to know what game they’re playing.
Look, this sh*t between Reigns and Rollins isn’t rocket science. Rollins broke up the Shield by hitting Reigns in the back with a chair. He did that to Reigns first, not Ambrose. When Reigns had a chance to beat Brock Lesnar in the main event of WrestleMania, Rollins runs down with the Money in the Bank briefcase, attacks and pins Reigns and steals it from him. Reigns has never really had a big solo chance to get revenge for all this sh*t. So why’s he playing mind games and standing around cutting promos? Ambrose at least had six months of misguided fury and hiding in car trunks and mangling mannequins to work through his feelings. I’m not buying Reigns as emotionally bothered by anything, and I’m not bothering hard-working-ass Seth Rollins as a guy not willing to get in the ring and fight. The outside narratives just don’t match up with the characters we’re watching onscreen. Terrible stuff.
Best: What’s John Cena Doing In The Impact Zone?
John Cena’s return to Raw was the opposite of Reigns/Rollins.
It gave you everything you could want from a Cena segment. It started with him being JOHN CENA, capital letters, putting over Memorial Day. Cena’s probably the most believable wrestler in history at Giving It Up For The Troops, and his pro-USA stuff always comes with a dose of true sincerity whether you want to sit here listening to John Cena talk up America or not. Dude believes what he says, and that’s great.
After that, he gets interrupted and confronted by AJ Styles, giving us the very very bizarre visual of AJ Style and John Cena standing in the same ring. Styles has been around for half a year now, but this might be his most surreal moment yet. We get the Rock/Cena style “uneasy babyface bros” handshake, which is something a lot of people have been looking forward to. If you WEREN’T looking forward to that or John Cena’s extended thoughts on Our Great Nation, you get John Cena being compromised to a permanent end.
The Club shows up and starts arguing with Cena and Styles, setting up what looks like your run of the mill tag team match setup. Then, just as Cena’s whipping off his shirt and firing up, Styles punches him in the face. After that it’s like 5 minutes of The Club beating John Cena to death, on the night of his return, on MEMORIAL DAY. John Cena is going to take that SO PERSONALLY. I love that Styles appears to have learned his lesson from Extreme Rules, and that he’s responding to losing so egregiously to Roman Reigns by eliminating Reigns’ character’s spiritual ancestor.
Plus, Styles/Cena is going to be dope. If Cena hits him with the Angels Wings, I’ll buy at least two of those horrible beer audible shirts.
Worst: Chanting We Want Sasha Into An Abyss
First of all, we get an appearance from Worst Version Stephanie McMahon in a backstage segment with Charlotte. She calls Charlotte a spoiled brat and Charlotte just takes it, because Stephanie McMahon has to look cooler and better and stronger than anyone she interacts with. It’s the worst. Everyone just gets slapped and pushed around and has to take it. And just to clarify I’m not asking everyone she bucks up to to pop her with a forearm, it’d just be nice if someone interacting with Steph could leave a segment with any kind of dignity or worth.
Then we get Dana Brooke vs. Natalya, which already isn’t hot sh*t and then ends with a distraction. Dana and Charlotte get the world’s lamest beatdown on Natalya until Becky Lynch makes the save, which is hopefully a Charlotte vs. Becky singles program that can take the focus off the bullsh*t storytelling and at least approximate the good vibes we had at WrestleMania. So that’s something?
Meanwhile, the crowd chants “We Want Sasha,” which sounds a little more like ‘The Sound of Silence’ every week.
Best: Muscles Marinara
Big Cass could beat up both Dudleys by himself with relative ease, so it makes sense that he’d be able to beat them in a tag match now that Enzo’s back. Check out that great wrestling analysis!
I think my favorite part of the pre-match promo is Thriller Zombie Enzo Amore calling himself “Muscles Marinara.” Clam workout jokes, y’all. Either that or Cass dropping a “fromunda” joke, which is probably as close as we’re gonna get to Deez Nuts content on Raw without John Cena becoming the Doctor of Thuganomics again.
Note: Muscles Marinara is my favorite Food Fighters character.
Best: The Miz On The Set Of The Marine 5
As probably the world’s biggest fan of the Randy News Network and the Bo Dallas Verse The World Tour, I appreciate any time a heel goes away and sends back video to be all, “hey fans, I know you miss me, but I’m doing something way more important than the show you’re watching.”
Miz being on the set of The Marine 5: Battleground and talking up his Intercontinental title run, complete with introductions from Maryse, is wonderful. Maryse is in the movie too, which makes her intros extra funny. They should just Honky Tonk Man him and have him keep the title forever, beating up nobodies at local LA indies to rack up title defenses and always going from set to set instead of coming to Raw or Smackdown. Then the second he steps food in the ring again, somebody blasts him and takes the title. I want him to hold it through Christmas Bounty 2: Payback and Scooby Doo! Money in the Bank Mystery all the way to The Flintstones Meet People Who Paid To Go To Night Of Champions.
(Yes, the subtitle for Christmas Bounty 2 should be “Sleighback.”)
Worst: Man F*ck Dolph Ziggler
Dolph Ziggler challenged Baron Corbin to a “technical wrestling match,” going so far as to put in a mouthpiece and put on some amateur headgear before it started. Then, before they lock up, Ziggler kicks him in the nuts. That’s a disqualification, and he loses. Ziggler gets on the mic and calls Corbin a loser, and the story is that Ziggler I guess is “getting back” at Corbin for punching him in the dick at Extreme Rules.
The only problem there is, as JBL points out, a dick punch was legal at Extreme Rules. It wasn’t an honorable fight, but per the agreed-upon-beforehand rules of the bout, dick fighting was not a disqualification. So I guess congratulations on your week-long con to purposely lose a match just to call a guy who has now beaten you 3 times out of 4 a loser, Dolph. Thank goodness we’ll have 10 more Ziggler/Corbin matches to settle the score!
I really hate it when they have JBL say the reasonable thing I would say, because it’s such a clear message that that line of thinking makes you “wrong.”
Bestish: The Main Event
As I mentioned, there’s a pretty important basketball game happening during this episode, and the only truly important segment on the show — Cena getting Bullet Clubbed — happened during halftime. So the main event is a good but pretty spectacularly forgettable six-man tag between the announced heels and faces in the Money in the Bank ladder match. Sami Zayn, Cesaro and Dean Ambrose on one side; Kevin Owens, Chris Jericho and Alberto Del Rio on the other.
I liked the “everybody hits finishers” sequence at the end, especially the pop-up powerbomb attempt straight into a Dirty Deeds, but that’s a very easy thing to like. It’s the Tower of Doom Spot of six-man tags. Even if the match blows, people are gonna be into that one thing. I’ve seen so many horrible triple threats and fatal four-ways suddenly get “THIS IS AWESOME” chants from Towers of Doom. Finishers are fun. WWE 2K17 needs a timed mini-game or something that lets you end multi-person tags with finisher sprints.
And … well, that’s it. Join us next week when 15.9 million viewers aren’t watching Steph Curry turn an entire Thunder team into Crying Jordans.
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Night
KO: “I HATE YOU, SAMI!”
KO: “I HATE YOU, SAMI!”
KO: “I HATE YOU, SAMI!”
KO: “I HATE YOU, SAMI!”
KO: “SHUT UIP, COLE!”
Finally, we get the generic luchador. Let’s see how he holds up against Sami Zayn
Kevin Nash Booked This
*The Lone Wolf pounces on Ziggler and his buddy*
Zigger’s buddy!: Kick him in the nards!
Ziggler: Lone Wolf doesn’t have nards!
Ziggler’s buddy!: Do it! Kick him in the nards!
*Ziggler kicks the Lone Wolf in the nards, Lone Wolf crumples to the mat*
Ziggler: Lone Wolf’s got nards!
Next week: Dolph v. Corbin in a “Low Blow match”
*Dolph kicks Corbin in the nuts*
CORBIN: Your career peaked in 2013 and the harder you try to reclaim that momentum, it will only lead you further down a Sisyphean path of disappointment made even more painful by the fact that at one point you reached the top of the mountain.
DOLPH: …Too low, man.
I hope Corbin tells Ziggler to go back to the olympics and then kicks his ass.
The Real Birdman
*Has Seth Rollins return as chickenshit heel*
*Advertises sympathy video of him overcoming adversity and returning*
I hope AJ is halfway to the next city tonight, then suddenly jams on the brakes and hits a U-turn to go beat up Cena some more.
Big Baby Yeezus
AJ beat on Cena like he was the physical embodiment of the Claire Lynch storyline
Some of y’all want some, some of y’all want none.
cena: Also, Hail Hydra.
Thanks for reading, everybody. Give the column a like and a tweet and we’ll be back next week.