Previously on the Best and Worst of WWE Raw: It was Halloween, so the New Day dressed up as varying incarnations of Charles Wright and The Club got beaten up with pumpkins and tables of pies. Also on the show, Goldberg responded to Brock Lesnar’s response to himself by Jackhammering Rusev and awkwardly falling down.
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And now, the Best and Worst of WWE Raw for November 7, 2016, live on tape from THE ROWDY SCOT, Scotland.
Worst: Stephanie McMahon Is Bad At Team Dynamics
Stephanie McMahon is so concerned about building the perfect team to defeat Smackdown Live in the traditional elimination match at Survivor Series that she’s willing to tell five of her top superstars that their jobs are on the line because of it. Here is her three-step plan:
1. team up two guys with two other guys they hate, and supplement that with an enormous, occasionally teleporting sheep monster who wants to kill everybody
2. scream at them
3. ensure that they’re a cohesive unit by making them wrestle each other in a five-way match in the main event
Raw management has been all about this lately. A few weeks ago, Stephanie approached Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens backstage and berated them about how they needed to be on the same page, then in that same episode high-fived Mick Foley for making them wrestle each other. Foley congratulated himself for agreeing to put Sasha Banks and Charlotte Flair in a history-making Hell in a Cell match, then spent his entire interaction with them screaming in their faces about how stupid and short-sighted they were for agreeing to be in a Hell in a Cell match. Now, this.
If Stephanie is really that worried about people thinking she’s doing a better job than Shane, she should try asking her team to write a second draft and not have dementia.
Best: Brock Lesnar Is Gonna Eat Goldberg’s Kid
The pre-taped Brock Lesnar interview is always, always the best part of any show featuring a pre-taped Brock Lesnar interview. They’re the greatest. Last night’s Raw featured a pair of videos — one highlighting Goldberg’s point of view, one highlighting Brock’s — and they were fantastic.
What’s truly great about them is how they attempt to draw a real sports build out of a video game fantasy rivalry we’ve technically already seen, and the juxtaposition of the characters within. Goldberg is lifting weights in front of old pictures of himself, and is like, “I have a beautiful wife and a precious baby boy, I want to be a super hero for all the children of the world,” and Lesnar’s like, “I’M GOING TO KILL YOU IN FRONT OF YOUR LOVED ONES.” “I’m not gonna show any fuckin’ mercy on Bill Goldberg.” It’s SO GOOD. All it needed was an aside about how Brock’s gonna make him piss and shit down his leg.
More of this, less standing still in the middle of the ring while crowds try to figure out how to react.
Worst: ____ Has Pinned The Champion!
I write about it a lot — so, so much — but the worst thing Raw does is think, “a challenger has pinned the champion in a non-title match,” is the best and/or only championship storyline. It’s seriously the only way they tell stories now. You don’t know who the next challenger is going to be until you see the champion lose without losing the championship. Which, you know, defeats the purpose of someone being a title-holding champion in the first place. Can you imagine them doing this in MMA, or boxing? “Holly Holm just knocked out Ronda Rousey! Joe, what does this mean heading into Holly Holm’s championship match with Ronda Rousey at the next show?”
Raw has like two matches in the first hour, and both of them are So And So Has Pinned The Champion things. In fact, three of the first four matches involve a champion being pinned.
Up first is a cruiserweight division tag team match, built around the debut of Scotland’s own Noam “Don’t Look Back In Anger” Dar. He gets a great reaction from the crowd, and a bunch of pyro. He also loses, because reasons.
But yeah, Dar teams up with Cruiserweight Champion Brian Kendrick against backstage street fighting champion Sin Cara and Rich Swann. Swann already pinned Kendrick six days before Kendrick won the championship at Hell in a Cell, but I guess that doesn’t count, so we have to do it again now that he’s champion. Swann pins Kendrick clean, in almost dead silence, while Dar lies on the ground outside.
After the match, Kendrick brings Dar into the ring to berate him for losing even though he had nothing to do with it and jumps him, leading to Dar instantly gaining the advantage and kicking him out of the ring. That’s a solid enough heel move to help get the hometown guy over, but (1) the hometown guy was already over in the hometown, and was arguably the only over thing in the match, (2) winning a match would’ve maybe done the same thing, and (3) it allows the champion to more or less lose twice in the same segment.
Champion loss #2 goes to the New Day. They’re the Raw Tag Team Champions and captains of the Raw tag team Survivor Series team, so they bring out some bagpipes, wear kilts and give the Braveheart speech. If you aren’t comatose tired of New Day’s act by now, you probably enjoyed it. It did kinda ring of WWE Creative putting everything they know about Scotland into one promo. I’m surprised Karl Anderson didn’t bump into a pile of haggis on a table shaped like Groundskeeper Willie.
Everybody plays ball except The Club, which leads to New Day vs. The Club. Finally, a fresh match-up! This, of course, leads to a metric shit-tonne of bad wrestling — watch Kofi execute a jumping nothing into Anderson, practically begging to be spinebustered, and that Magic Killer where Anderson tries to go the wrong way — and The Club pinning the Tag Team Champions. This somehow busts up the laws of mathematics and gives The Club a 105% chance of losing their next championship match.
Again, Raw’s Survivor Series teams are showing unity by fighting each other. Couldn’t New Day have just told The Club to go fuck themselves and put another babyface team on the squad? Seems like they’d be saving themselves a lot of trouble.
Championship loss number three happens during the construction of the women’s Survivor Series team, when the Scottish crowd decides Bayley is the only wrestler they like on the entire roster and sing to her for 15 minutes. It derails the entire segment, and poor Bayley’s out there trying her best, acknowledging the chants and even telling the crowd “thank you” a bunch to get them to chill and let her cut her promo. But nope, they’re singing over her, singing over Charlotte, singing over Sasha, because singing is the important thing, not anything actually happening with the people you’re singing about. The rest of the show might as well have happened on an episode of Silent Library. No idea.
Anyway, the joke is that Charlotte wants Dana Brooke to be the fifth member of her Survivor Series team, but it’s Sasha Banks instead. This leads to Charlotte, Nia Jax and Dana Brooke vs. Bayley, Sasha and somehow not totally ready to perform on live TV yet Alicia Fox that ends with, you guessed it, Bayley pinning Charlotte. BELLY DID IT, GRAVES, SHE PINNED THE WOMEN’S CHAMPION!
To recap, in this episode we saw:
– the Cruiserweight Champion get pinned
– the Tag Team Champions get pinned
– the Raw Women’s Champion get pinned
And in the case of the Cruiserweight and Women’s Championships, these pinfalls happened in tag team matches, meaning pretty much anyone else could’ve taken the pin and accomplished the “challenger defeated the champions” gag without the challenger actually defeating the champion.
Worst: The Long Con
Here is an actual story on Raw.
Golden Truth is supposed to be on New Day’s Survivor Series team, but R-Truth gets conned into trading their spot to the Shining Stars for a month-long stay at a timeshare in Puerto Rico. The place doesn’t have a roof! You get to eat food off of Jimmy Buffet for some reason! It’s jokes! Goldust is frustrated by this, and Golden Truth ends up in a tag team match with the Shining Stars for the right to … substantiate a con that wormed them into an elimination tag match? I’m not even totally sure.
The match happens, and the Shining Stars try to distract Goldust by selling him additional Puerto Rican timeshares. Like, is this the Shining Stars’ plan? Does Carlos Colon own a bunch of dilapidated buildings in Puerto Rico, so Primo and Epico have access to a bunch of phony timeshares they can use to organize a multilevel marketing company that helps them get wrestling matches they want? Somehow this makes even less sense than, “bullfighters accompanied by a small bull who is their friend.”
Goldust ends up being actually distracted by his tag team partner trying to help him, and gets rolled up. The Shining Stars are now officially on Raw’s tag team Survivor Series team, because somebody needs to be eliminated seconds into a match!
Emmalina Is Still Premiering Soon, We Swear
Want to feel old? There are kids in high school right now who were born when these Emmalina promos started.
Next Week: The State Of The WWE Address
Shane McMahon: “It’s bad.”
Best: Sami Zayn Is Headed to Smackdown
I hope! Which is weird to say because I don’t actually get to write about Smackdown. I just want Sami to win a championship that will require him to switch shows, so his only stories aren’t, “you’re in a tag team now, whoops we forgot about it,” and, “you’re feuding with Braun Strowman now, whoops we forgot about it.”
So that’s the story here. Dolph Ziggler has issued a cross-brand open challenge for the Intercontinental Championship, Sami Zayn wants it, and Stephanie puts Zayn in a match with former United States Champion Rusev to see which man will be more deserving. Sami is desperate to do ANYTHING with his career and Rusev’s in his post-loss funk where you could beat him with a stiff hip-toss, so Sami’s about to Helluva Kick him from pretty much out of nowhere to score a clean pinfall and the win.
I don’t like Rusev losing like this (he really shouldn’t lose a lot, especially in throwaway stepping-stone Raw matches), but I do like Sami winning, and the match was a lot of fun. It’s the easiest possible match to book. Rusev is a depressed bully, Sami is a fired-up, underappreciated babyface. They’re both great at what they do, and with even the smallest available stakes, they can create something worth watching.
RUN, SAMI. RUN AND NEVER LOOK BACK.
Best: The Five-Way, Even If It Doesn’t Make Sense
Also fun is the main event, which feels a lot like a thrown-together house show thing and works well if you don’t pay attention to how little sense it makes.
First of all, you’ve got the actual set-up for the match, which we’ve talked about. Stephanie McMahon wants the five people who already hate each other on her Survivor Series team to get along, so she puts them in a match and makes them fight each other. Maybe she’s trying to like, get the “fighting each other” out of their system? I don’t think she knows how WWE rivalries work.
Second of all, you’ve got the Universal Champion in a match that isn’t for the Universal Championship, which means the only way he can win is by accident. Watch Roman Reigns at the end of this, ending the finisher sprint by hitting Owens with a Superman Punch, then like, scooting out of the ring on his belly. It doesn’t make any sense. Why is Roman propelled to his death by his own forward momentum? There’s no way this guy who wrestles 30-minute matches every month is so burned out five minutes into a five-way that hitting a signature move drains him of his energy and shoots him off into the distance like he’s Team Rocket and he’s blasting off again.
Owens falls on Jericho and pins him, which continues the simmering Team Chris And Kevin/Kevin And Chris beef, and seeks to make the Survivor Series team more interesting or whatever by replacing the 2-on-2-on-1 dynamic with an EVERYBODY HATES EVERYBODY. I’m sure next week, Reigns will accidentally pin Rollins to keep that going, even though they’ve been pals for like a week.
And that’s it. That’s your Scotland Raw. Join us next week for Kevin Owens vs. New Day vs. Brian Kendrick vs. Charlotte vs. Roman Reigns, which ends when everybody gets knocked out, falls in a Lincoln log formation and pins everybody else.
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Night
“Crooked Shane O’ Mac and Lyin’ Daniel Bryan don’t have what it takes to run SmackDown Live. That’s why I will build a wall around WWE and Lucha Underground will pay for it!”
Owens and Rollins fighting in the background outside the ring as Roman Reigns stands in the middle of the ring pretty much sums up Vince’s outlook on the roster.
State of RAW: It just made the list.
11/07/2016 Sami Zayn won a big match on Raw. NEVER FORGET
You know what? I’d like to see a Moondragon bald, Amber Rose looking woman show up in WWE and flip the game on all that hair pulling bull shit.
So um. Do you think Cole would explode if he found himself incapable of saying a black male in a wrestling ring loved to have fun? Like… New Jack could hop the railing and just start stabbing everyone in the ring and Cole would probably go “Look at him go! He just loves to have fun! He’s so athletic with that hunting knife!”
Big E: You may take victories in non-title matches, but you will not take our titles!!!
The Real Birdman
New Day vs Piper’s Family. Book it
New Day is really committing to this Braveheart shtick by going on an hour longer than necessary
Baron Von Raschke
My hate will die with you, RAW.
It’s all fun and games until Big E decapitates Truth and we get a live quickening.
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