The Best And Worst Of WWE Raw 11/23/15: You Have Ruined Our Jamboree

Previously on the Best and Worst of Raw: Survivor Series happened, and Roman Reigns became your Inevitable WWE World Heavyweight Champion. He refused to shake hands with Triple H and speared him, so Sheamus showed up and cashed in the Money in the Bank briefcase. Now Sheamus is the damn WWE World Heavyweight Champion, and Roman is the champion of Foolish Pride. Also, Bray Wyatt is terrible.

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And now, the Best and Worst of WWE Raw for November 23, 2015.

Worst: Break The Damn Mold

If you were hoping they’d follow up the excitement of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship tournament and a Money in the Bank cash-in with 20 minutes of explanation to set up a bunch of rematches and confuse everyone’s alignments and motivations, HOT DOG, DREAMS DO COME TRUE.

That’s … probably way more jaded than it needed to be, but it’s what happened.

Everyone who matters is injured or on vacation, so they’ve got an excuse — read: a chance — to do something different. If it doesn’t work, they can just do what they were doing before when everyone they want to do it with gets back. The tournament was great, and despite the stressful conversation he always causes, Roman Reigns tore it up and won the championship. Sheamus, despite being cold boogers on a paper plate for months and losing to a f*cking Uso (one Uso) earlier in the night, cashed in to steal the belt from Roman and align himself with The Authority. He’s well established as Triple H’s bro in real life, so it works. Plus, we can build to an exciting confrontation between two big, classically-pushable WWE types who don’t mind hitting each other for real to make a match better.

Instead of doing anything to build off the night and go in a new direction, we open with The Authority, who are bad guys, explaining in convincing detail why they’re absolutely not the bad guys. Sheamus shows up and Roman Reigns follows, and we go right into chatty arguments about rematch clauses and doing it RIGHT HERE TONIGHT! Triple H says Roman can’t get a title shot until he says so, and then immediately gives Roman a title shot at TLC. It’s the same thing they’ve been doing since the Shield broke up. Triple H hates Roman Reigns and John Cena and will do anything to keep them from being champion, so he, the man in charge of making the matches and deciding what happens on the shows, repeatedly gives them title shots and puts the members of his own heel faction at a disadvantage. Should we give Roman a match on Raw and just screw him out of it while he’s still hurting from Survivor Series? No, let’s give him a month to prepare and set him up for a match where he doesn’t even have to pin his opponent to get the title back. Maybe that’ll set up some future swerves we haven’t had time to write yet. Sure, it’s fine.

I just wish they’d break the mold. Everyone is tired of this, right? Does anyone tune into Raw thinking, “man, I can’t wait to see Stephanie McMahon snip the balls of the top babyface and him not be able to do anything about it, and the half an hour of rambling dialogue that follows!” Does anybody tune in for the recap explanations? WWE desperately needs to realize that just because something worked once doesn’t mean it’s the only thing that can possibly work, and should be done as basic as possible at every opportunity until it breaks. If you did something that worked, it worked. It helps foster the great memories that keep people watching. Do a different thing now. Just because Mad Men has an episode like ‘The Suitcase’ doesn’t mean every hour after it should worse versions of ‘The Suitcase.’

A Quick Note About “I’m Getting A Reaction, And That’s What Matters!”

I’m so f*cking sick of this. Sheamus was on a media conference call on Monday and said he loves reading negative feedback, because he just goes out there and gets a reaction and that’s all that matters. He knows he’s doing his job because he gets a reaction! He says even the silence is a reaction, because he’s creating a mood to cause future reactions. I don’t know who convinced wrestlers that this was the measuring stick for success at their job. Even I’ve been tricked into thinking it means something.

Here’s the thing, and maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think I am: it is not an accomplishment to make people who have paid to watch a live wrestling show have literally any reaction to something they’re watching. You aren’t doing anything.

Think of it this way. Say you’re in a play. Say you go out and kill and get a standing ovation. Now say you go out and forget your lines, poop your pants mid-high-note and fall off the stage. Both of those things “get a reaction,” but for different reasons. The guy who f*cked up and “got a reaction” didn’t do his job, he did a BAD job, and the reaction he got was a bad one. DOING BADLY AND BEING TOLD YOU DID BADLY AND BEING ABLE TO HEAR SOMEONE SAY YOU DID BADLY DOES NOT MEAN YOU DID WELL. Pro wrestling is so lost in the logic of what’s real and what isn’t, what’s on purpose and what isn’t, that they’ve come to justify ANYTHING that gets a negative response as “right.” Eva Marie not knowing how to wrestle or perform as a wrestling character and being thrust into situations she isn’t ready for and left to die is totally on purpose and works great because it gets a reaction. Who DOESN’T get a reaction? Seriously. Go to the worst show in the worst promotion in the worst places in the world, and watch the two worst wrestlers you’ve ever seen wrestle. Is everyone in the crowd dead silent? Do they not have a response? Are they not thinking it’s bad? If one dude leans over to his friend and says “this sucks,” congratulations, you got a reaction. You’re doing a great job!

It’s bullsh*t. Stop thinking “I got a reaction” is a marker for success. “I got the reaction I was supposed to get based on what they decided should be content for this show” is the marker for success. If you go out as a babyface and everyone boos you out of the building and hates you so much they have to turn you heel, guess what? You didn’t do a great job, you did the worst job, and now they’ve got to change everything around you to justify your role in the company. That’s a failure. Failure can be constructive and lead to better things — some people work better doing the opposite of whatever you thought they should do, and it works out for the best — but that doesn’t mean you were magically right all along.

The post-Mania Raw crowd who Fandangoed and chanted through the entire thing, that wasn’t Fandango successfully getting over, that was a crowd bored as sh*t. Orton and Sheamus didn’t do anything successfully, it sucked and they sucked and it got a reaction but it’s a reaction that never would have happened if they were doing a good job. Turn negatives into positives all day long, but don’t make up these vague platitudes of success as a substitute for accountability.


On a more positive note, the homie RUSEV suddenly appeared behind Roman Reigns during this exchange and kicked him in the face. Look, there he is!

I don’t care what they use him for as long as (1) he remains on TV being as Rusev as possible, and (2) whatever story he’s in ends with Lana slowly walking to ringside, straightening her bun and busting out the loudest, most melodramatic RUSEV, CRUUUUUSSSSHHH of all time.

Worst: We Couldn’t Destroy Our Actual Enemies, So Let’s Beat Up These Other Guys

At Survivor Series, Bray Wyatt ended a story about him beating up and kidnapping Kane and The Undertaker to harvest their souls and steal their powers by losing a regular-ass tag team match to a fully powered-up Kane and Undertaker with no observable difference in his own power levels or wrestling style. It was a whole lot of nothing. On Raw, Bray announces that since The Brothers of Destruction survived … the regular-ass tag team match … that The Dudley Boyz would have to pay for it. They have a match, The Wyatts win, and the Dudleys get beaten up afterward. It’s sorta like when you stand up to a high school bully, and he storms away all mad and knocks somebody’s lunch tray out of their hands.

I’m not sure why anyone would listen to or be afraid of the Wyatts at this point. They’ve kidnapped Kane TWICE, and he’s come back totally fine both times. Like, when you physically carry away a man and claim to have harvested his soul, shouldn’t he at least, I don’t know, have his ribs taped or something? They’re just totally fine. They’re not even sad or mad about it.

The highlight of this was Bray not wanting to kiss D-Von Dudley on his gross forehead.

Worst: Come On, How You Gonna Do This To My Sasha Banks Becky Lynch Match?

As you might imagine, I was pretty hyped for this. Sasha and Becky recently had a great match on Main Event (and one of the best NXT Women’s Championship matches of the year at TakeOver: Unstoppable), so even in truncated Raw form I was expecting something good.

What they did was good, but it was the opening minutes of a much longer, better match. After a few minutes of feeling each other out, Becky Lynch got the Disarmer out of nowhere. Sasha started tapping, Team B.A.D. caused a distraction and Sasha was able to win with a, you guessed it, distraction rollup. It’s like putting pristine new sheets on a stinky old mattress. There’s really no point to hiring the best female talent in the world, training them for years in your prestigious developmental program, turning them into genre-redefining superstars on your most critically-acclaimed show and then feeding them into Brie Bella vs. Aksana scripts like they’re interchangeable. Anybody could’ve had this match. Everybody HAS. Why waste the talent, and why waste the spot? Why tell a story you’ve told a billion times to build to a story you’ve clearly established nobody’s interested in, that desperately needs to change? It just doesn’t make sense. I can’t even get hot about it anymore.

Best: Everything About This

So much to love about this, including:

1. a ‘Rollin’ With The Homies’ reference in the year of our lord 2015
2. every face Sasha Banks makes, with an honorable mention to every face Tamina and Naomi make
3. Sasha explaining that she wasn’t tapping, she was trying to kill a spider, and everyone corroborating
4. Tamina pushing around Naomi and Sasha on a cart so they can do “B-A-D” chants
5. Tamina pushing away the cart at the end with her foot, then calmly catching up with it to continue pushing
6. Eden’s ongoing inability to connect with her POC co-workers

All that was missing was them sending her away and demanding “Josephine.”

Best: Paige Is Absolutely Right

Say what you will about Paige’s story arcs, but she’s got character consistency.

On NXT, Paige’s entire deal was that she was outwardly this cold-hearted “anti-Diva” who was rude to everyone and didn’t care what you think, but had the soul of a pure-hearted WWE babyface. That’s what made her such a great contrast for Emma. Emma was bubbly and goofy and popular, but was inwardly a horrible, selfish person. The version of Emma you see on NXT now is a truer version of her original character. Paige came up to WWE where there was no real counterpart to her actions, and became bitter … she sees how women (and wrestlers in general, frankly) get treated, and it makes her mad. Sh*t doesn’t make sense, and it makes her mad. When the Bellas were lording over the division and declaring that Bad Status Quo Divas Wrestling was king, Paige demanded change. She wanted the roster to rise up and stand beside her to rid the company of these false idols who’d turned the art form she loves — professional wrestling — into a catty sideshow. What happened? Everyone told her she was crazy, and nobody stood up for her.

Then, like magic, Stephanie McMahon decides that the Bellas shouldn’t be the end-all-be-all of the Divas Division and introduces the “Divas Revolution.” Everyone goes along with it now, and everyone teams up in these compartmentalized little units to just kinda mindlessly wrestle for nothing. Paige got lumped into that and got an “actually she’s right” from Steph, but that was it. It quickly became, “SOME SAY PAIGE STARTED THE DIVAS REVOLUTION,” like she was not directly responsible for it since the beginning. Even if you don’t take the time to trace it back to the critical reaction to Paige vs. Emma at NXT Arrival and it opening the eyes of WWE regulars to the idea that women’s wrestling could be good on purpose — shocking, I know — the preface to the Divas Revolution was Paige going around SAYING THERE SHOULD BE A DIVAS REVOLUTION. It’s not “some say.” It’s never “some say.” If “some say,” some are right. What the f*ck?

And now Paige is here complaining that Charlotte had her arm (and entire upper body) under the rope when she won at Survivor Series, and guess what? She’s right. She’s telling the truth. The replay shows Charlotte’s f*cking forehead pressed into the bottom rope at one point. What’s the response from everyone? HEH SOME SAY PAIGE MAY HAVE BEEN CHEATED AT SURVIVOR SERIES. Charlotte cuts a promo saying she’ll “always respect” Paige, completely ignoring that whole MAKING FUN OF YOUR LITTLE BROTHER WHO DIED OF A HEROIN OVERDOSE AND IS YOUR REASON FOR BEING HERE beef.

That’s Paige. Paige is the character who can see the Matrix and says the right thing, and everyone just goes “oh Paige” and ignores her. She’s Jan Brady. It drives me insane.

Worst: … But Creative Still Isn’t Doing Them Any Favors

Paige and Charlotte have their rematch, and it has a lot of the same problems as Survivor Series. The crowd doesn’t want to give it a chance, even if it’s good. There isn’t really a story to tell, because the pulse they gave it at five minutes ’til midnight got retconned out, and we can’t mention Reid Flair or else everyone will get mad. We’re afraid of heat, so it’s just “The Divas Revolution” again, and someone being jealous and someone cheating. It’s the only safe call.

The match ends on a double count-out, and Paige once again assumes doing a submission hold while squatting on a table makes it hurt more. If she was using the table as part of the submission, sure. Like when Bret Hart used the ring post for the figure four. It doesn’t actually make the move hurt more and doesn’t make any sense, but it looks cool. Suspension of disbelief. A PTO on a table is just a PTO. It’s like applying a headlock on a table. Your headlock isn’t suddenly deadly.

I don’t know. I want the best for the Divas Division, especially for Paige, but creative momentum doesn’t seem to be in their favor. They need a goal, and for someone to trust them and give them time to actually get there. Here’s to hoping the Divas Revolution makes it to WrestleMania, we get the Women’s Championship back, and there’s a hard reset where we just have good women’s wrestling without having to constantly point out how good it’s supposed to be.

Best: It’s A Friggin’ Country Bear Jambaroo Around Here

You know how much there was to love about that Team B.A.D. backstage segment? Multiply it by 40 and you’ve got the New Day’s First Anniversary Country Music Jamboree & WWE Tag Team Championship Open Challenge.

Xavier Woods is singing a booty-themed version of ‘Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys.’ Big E is wearing a Jessie from Toy Story hat and has a unicorn hobby horse between his legs, and somehow he’s turned screaming the word “enough” into a catchphrase. ENOUGH! THAT’S ENOUGH COUNTRY MUSIC, ENOUGH! ENOUGH! YOU HAVE RUINED OUR JAMBOREE! Kofi Kingston has gone nuclear, is shooting on country music — “Country music sucks! I mean, it really sucks. It sucks, okay, and honestly hey, this is me saying this, not my character, country music suuuuuuuucks” — and he has unicorn hair. He made his hair look like a unicorn horn. Are you reading that? Are you watching?

This is all before they even issue the open challenge, which is hilarious in its own right. The Lucha Dragons show up, and Kalisto cuts the worst promo this side of John Morrison about how they’re going to accept the “open the tag team challenge” — what is this, Dragon Gate? — and tries to get a Vince McMahon-quality “New Day RUNTS” chant going. He makes running gestures with his fingers, so I’m not sure he even knows what “runts” means. (Edit: I guess he was saying runs, and I don’t know how ears work.) Sin Cara goes full Handy Manny, saying something in Spanish and then translating it afterward. Kofi yelling YOU DON’T NEED TO TRANSLATE THAT, WE SPEAK SPANISH might’ve been the greatest moment of all. The Usos show up to make it a triple threat, so New Day just cancels the open challenge.

I want to live in the country music jamboree forever, you guys. The New Day might be the best thing that’s ever happened to this show. I never thought NXT Champion Big E Langston would need a tiny hat and a hobby-corn to be the most important person on the show, but here it is.

Worst: Is This Even A Match?

Neville beats Mark Henry by kicking him in the head once and hitting a Red Arrow. Mark kicks out of it, but not in time. After the match, Mark is like, “you’re gonna be good!” Well yeah, maybe, considering he just beat a former World Heavyweight Champion by kicking him once and falling on him.

Best, But Also Oh My God The Worst: Tex-Mexual Chocolate

I rushed through that “worst” for two reasons. One, because it’s nothing, and two, because they rushed through it as an excuse to get Mark on the show for this pseudo-sexual Hardee’s commercial that makes Tyson Kidd getting horny over chicken fries look like “I’m sorry, I love you.”

If you missed it, I will attempt to recap it without my brain melting and leaking out of my nose. JBL and El Torito (?) are backstage arguing about what kind of food they should order, because they’re dating? I don’t know. JBL says last time they had “Mex,” but this time he wants to order “Tex.” Nobody has ever described food like that. Nobody’s like, “wow, I could really go for MEX.” “Tex food” isn’t a thing. Mark Henry wanders up to settle the dispute, and them talking about order food sends him into a fevered hallucination where he imagines El Torito as JBL (??) and fantasizes some hastily-made clip art about Tex-Mex burgers. When he comes to, JBL and Torito have been replaced by a stylish young black man (????) with an open burger. Mark takes it, saying the guy read his mind, but then doesn’t eat it. He just turns and walks off-screen.

What was decided? Where did JBL and El Torito go? Why were they ordering food together in the first place? What does JBL want when he says “Tex?” Whataburger? Why were they replaced with a stranger? Why did he have a burger, and why did he offer it to Mark? The argument was about where they should order food. Did JBL and Torito see Mark spacing out and jacking off about Hardee’s and wander away quietly? Is Mark going to eat the burger? Did Mark imagine El Torito as a hamburger, and is he carrying him away to eat him? IS MARK GOING TO F*CK THE BURGER? OH GOD, EL TORITO, NO. I need to go lie down, as far away from this segment as possible.

They should’ve had Mark touch the burger and scream “AAAH, IT’S NOT HOT!”

Best: I Want A Show That’s Just Titus O’Neil And Stardust Happily Identifying Constellations

Stardust is next-level right now. I could listen to him ramble on about atoms for hours. Titus O’Neil discovering his star lab was fun, as was him accidentally touching Stardust’s shoulder spikes and having to be told they’re real. I don’t appreciate him bothering Stardust and tricking him into pretending they’re friends with similar interests just to make fun of him, but I want WWE babyfaces to be decent human beings, which is somehow less realistic a request than “Cody Rhodes should become an outer space-obsessed cat version of Goldust.”

Best: The Return Of Lots Of Things I Enjoy

Things I’m happy to have back:

1. Goldust on Raw, because Goldust rules and should be on every show
2. Darren Young, who is back from the dead and apparently not upset about missing a Survivor Series payday
3. HOT TAG TITUS, who is back to tagging in at the last minute of a match and mauling everyone for an instant victory

And here’s your weekly request for the Important Goldust vs. Stardust Match we were promised last February when the Fastlane crowd expected a blowoff match instead of the build to one.

Worst: Can We Think About This Angle For Like 5 Minutes Before We Go Live

The tournament is over, so we’re back to Jack Swagger feuding with Alberto Del Rio over MexAmerica. From the November 2 edition of the Best and Worst of Raw:

In a moment we desperately needed, Jack Swagger shows up looking like he just got back from roadtripping across America and confronts Zeb Colter about his MexAmerica gimmick.

I just want to take a second and point out how wonderful this situation is. You’ve got a guy who hates Mexicans and wants to defend Our Country’s Interests (wearing a “WE THE PEOPLE” shirt) getting upset that his mentor has aligned himself with a Mexican guy under the mission statement of “bringing two great nations together.” So it’s two previously xenophobic heels teaming up to get heel heat by going too far in the opposite direction, confronted by an assumedly still-xenophobic heel who’s mad about it. Right? Is that the situation? Do we cheer Jack Swagger for … not wanting inclusion? Cheer him for knowing Zeb’s full of it, even if not being full of it means he’s still full of it, just a different “it?” Do we boo him? What do we do?

The “state of MexAmerica address” should’ve just been Alberto Del Rio going, “sorry, this is terrible, we aren’t gonna do it anymore, sorry, sorry.”



The One Man Rock Band has finally (finally) made his return to Raw, and I spent the entire segment hoping John Cena’s music would hit. But no, Slater’s once again HEATH SLATER PRIME, and that of course involves someone Important showing up and beating him up for existing. This time it’s The Ryback, and thankfully Slater hits him over the back with a guitar to start the fight so I don’t have to write three paragraphs about how he didn’t deserve it. Now I’m stuck complaining that the Nexus is never getting back together.

I want the payoff to Slater’s character to be that he’s actually amazing at music, and we’ve just never given him a chance to play. Like, eventually he gets to play an entire song and it heals the world like at the end of Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey.

Worst: Did I Accidentally Watch Smackdown?

It could be the fact that I opened the column by writing 1500 words about Sheamus, but I don’t have much to say about this tag match. It’s the most Smackdown thing of the night. Dean Ambrose and Dolph Ziggler are suddenly friends even though they absolutely shouldn’t be, and Kevin Owens and Tyler Breeze are friends when they absolutely shouldn’t be. I guess “friends” is a little strong for “thrown-together tag team partners,” but I hate WWE’s strict adherence to black and white heel and face allegiances. If you cheat, you’re friends with all the other people who cheat. You might get into arguments during the matches or walk out, but they’re still your only options.

The worst part is how badly I wanted a Tyler Breeze vs. Kevin Owens feud in NXT, and how this is as close as I’ll probably ever get. Breeze as a self-obsessive, secretly self-loathing Canadian who thinks Canadians are “uggo” being teamed up with or pitted Owens, a self-obsessive, secretly self-loathing Canadian who is the dictionary definition of what Breeze would consider uggo. They’re like the light and dark side of the same character. They’re like two of the emotions living in the Inside Out version of Chris Jericho’s brain.

The match just kinda ends with Ambrose hitting Dirty Deeds on Breeze and pinning him, and all we need is a blue light on the crowd to make it complete. See you on Thursday, when we have this exact match again with a slightly different result.

Best: Roman Reigns Vs. The World

Finally, we get Rusev vs. Roman Reigns. I’m giving it a Best because of the delightful interference of King Take-a-Pin, who uses his pro wres expertise to attack Roman with a chair and somehow end up attacked with the chair himself. WAY TO GO, WADE, GLAD WE LET YOU ON THE TEAM.

Keeping Reigns strong seems like a joke at this point, but I like how they did it. If one guy’s gonna stand up to three, who better than Roman Reigns with a weapon? Roman Reigns was part of The Shield, which should make him a professor in the field of The Damn Numbers Game. Giving him a weapon allows him to fight off three guys without just Superman Punching them and winning with ridiculous John Cena-style odds-defying pro wrestling. It looked like he got the best of them in a quick, desperate fight. That’s good, and it allows us to inch forward with that European Union we’ve been dying for since it was a storyline in that Raw vs. Smackdown/em> game.

Still wondering where Dean Ambrose is during all these Roman Reigns attacks. Backstage icing your head from diving face-first into the security railing, I guess?

Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Night

Mr. Royal Rumble, TheCensoredMSol

I’d complain about ESPN covering a fixed sporting event, but they’ve already been covering Patriots games for years.


“Everyone betrayed me, I am fed up with this world- Tommy Wiseau” – Paige


You used to be the right kind of racist.


Somewhere, Ziggler and Rusev are looking at each other and saying, “Looks like our storyline could have been worse after all.”

Taylor Swish

Stardust in facepaint looks too much like Paige’s actual face

Beige Lunatics

Awww, the Nexus is less reunited than ever!


Vince: “You remember me telling JBL and Torito that I’d make something of them one day?”
Triple H: “Are you saying you killed JBL and Torito processed their carcasses, and served them for lunch?”
Mark Henry: “Please to have another Sloppy JBL-rito?”

Kevin Nash Booked This

That kick sounded almost as brutal as one of Nikki’s missed kicks.


The Authority really is a bunch of heels. They’ve outsourced all their bad guys!

Joey Joe Joe Junior Shabadoo

Hope Cena is watching all these odds being overcome without him.

Thanks, everybody. See you next week. If you can take a second to share the column and get the word out, we’d appreciate it.