Previously on the Best and Worst of Raw: We got one of the best episodes of the year, with Mr. McMahon returning to kick Roman Reigns in the balls, setting up Roman winning the WWE World Heavyweight Championship from Sheamus in the main event. Plus, Team ECW had the most fun match any of them had had in years in a losing effort to the Wyatt Family. This week, we keep that momentum going with … the Slammy Awards? AH F*CK.
Please scroll through for the Best and Worst of WWE Raw for December 14, 2015.
Worst: Fake John Cena vs. Fake Vickie Guerrero
I’m honestly not sure what they were going for in this week’s opening segment, but it seemed like they were shooting for the moon (John Cena vs. Vickie Guerrero) and landed amongst the stars. Well, the empty void of space between the Earth and the moon where no actual stars are, but you get what I’m saying.
Vickie Guerrero had this natural heel vibe where she could just say one thing — “excuse me” — and have a crowd begging for her actual IRL death within seconds. I never liked it when jokey babyfaces got in her business and decided to just made fun of her instead of reacting to anything she said, but a huge portion of the crowd loves that sh*t. For an example, there’s this. There’s also that time he kissed her, because the difference between John Cena and Bugs Bunny is a pair of jean shorts.
Here, Stephanie opens the show with a promo and gets interrupted by Roman, who looks like he just stepped off a cruise ship. This is the guy who’s supposedly been faced with insurmountable odds for the past year, just chilling and smiling and not giving a righteous f*ck about anything. Stephanie tells him to get out, punctuated by her screaming GET OUT for like two straight minutes, and Roman being all, CHECK HER OUT SHE IS SO UPSET. He’s the “U MAD” gif in human form. The crowd eats it up. Eventually he decides to pull a Duck Season/Rabbit Season swerve on her and leave, which causes her to demand he GET BACK HERE. It’s simple and effective, but everything around it kinda renders it meaningless.
Think about it. Roman doesn’t care. He beat up two of his bosses — Stephanie’s husband and father — and by order of the people he beat up, she can’t do anything about it. He faces no consequences. She’s not even making him defend the championship. She’s putting his FRIENDS in matches, regular matches, to punish him. The Usos have to face The New Day, three guys Cena can beat by himself, in a handicap match. Dean Ambrose has to wrestle a cage match against Sheamus. It’s not even extreme, Corporation match punishment. She’s just like, “ROMAN, FOR ASSAULTING MY FAMILY AND DISRESPECTING ME ON LIVE TELEVISION, THIS GUY YOU KNOW WILL HAVE TO FACE A GUY EVERYONE CAN BEAT, AND YOU ARE LEGALLY ALLOWED TO HELP HIM!!” It’s goofy. There’s no consequence, so there’s no drama. If Roman doesn’t care, why should we?
Imagine if the nWo invaded, and Sting repelled down from the rafters to chuckle into the microphone and ask Minneapolis if THEY WERE HAVIN’ FUN HERE TONIGHT. Imagine if Stone Cold Steve Austin confronted Vince McMahon and was like, “pfft, whatever, who cares, your dick is like a corn dog, check this out fam!!” They preached against the evils of “millennials” and built the company around the most millennial character ever. He gets everything he wants, he doesn’t care, and even if you boo him he’s just gonna do whatever, it’s fine, you’re just haters.
Worst: I Don’t Have To Write Up Smackdown Now, Right?
The Ghosts of Teddy Longs Past and the ghosts of about three different Tommy Dreamers were present for this week’s opening match, which was an extremely truncated Kane vs. Bray Wyatt thing that ended almost immediately and bled into an 8-man tag team match. The Wyatts attacked Kane, Kane used his powers as a former ECW Champion (cough) to summon TOTEM SPIRIT EXTREME, and Orange Grandpa shuffled down with the Camo Pals to back him up.
Honestly, they could’ve just ended it with the 40 seconds of brawling from the first match and gotten back to the awards show. The 8-man tag was the same thing we’ve been watching for a month, with the Wyatts kinda bumbling around taking classic ECW moves until two of them attack at the same time, and someone gets a pin out of nowhere. Here, it’s Luke Harper hitting a discus clothesline on D-Von. It’s fine, but it’s just fine, and it’s a dreadful step back from the fun we were having with ECW in Philadelphia. If Tommy Dreamer’s in a match and the match isn’t “hit each other with objects you find until one of you can’t stand up,” don’t have that match.
The Raw previews were built around the Wyatts being unstoppable and having this cool new feud, but … nope, they’re still circle-jerking with half-harvested Kane and these guys who can’t accept a loss. How many times do you have to beat them in a row? Are they wrestling again on Smackdown? Is there a way I can type that and think it’s a joke, and not a legitimate prediction?
Best/Worst: There’s No Room To Breathe
Part of the problem with any Slammy Awards show is that they feel it necessary to do a full Raw and an ENTIRE AWARDS SHOW simultaneously. You go straight from an awards presentation to a commercial break for voting and back to the awards, then jump right into a match (often with no entrances, even for guys like Bray Wyatt and Kevin Owens), usually with a commercial break of its own, and when it’s over, you’re back to the awards. Nothing has time to breathe. You have Kevin Owens and Dolph Ziggler get into it during the first award, toss them into a match right away, then not sit with the match long enough for anyone to remember it. They just wrestle and then someone hits a finish out of nowhere, and it’s back to R-Truth in a suit or whatever.
That’s what happens here. Owens and Ziggler is never a bad match, but it just feels like it’s happening for no reason. That’s awful when you JUST gave it a reason to happen. They do some stuff, Owens gets a pop-up powerbomb from for-real out of nowhere — Ziggler just runs at him and gets hit with the move — and that’s that. It does them a disservice, because not only are they not asked to tell a more layered story they’re both clearly able to tell, but the work in the match is meaningless because it builds to a flash Critical. What good is Ziggler selling a limb for 8 minutes if in minute 9 he gets surprise powerbombed?
For that matter, Ziggler’s selling needs some context. This has been bugging me, and I don’t know how to explain it without sounding psychotic. Ziggler knows how to sell, but the kind of selling he does is so unique to the show that he’s the only one doing it. So instead of us going “wow, Ziggler looks really hurt,” it makes him look melodramatic. He’s doing too much. If Kevin Owens clotheslines you and you flop around on the ground crawling and scratching at the ropes and crying and quivering, you just kinda look like you’re not tough enough to be in there. I’m kinda tired of seeing him get his ass kicked, you know? It would help if he was an exceptional thing on a 1-hour show, and not the exception in 3.
Best/Worst: The Slammy Awards Lightning Round
Okay, instead of breaking these down individually, I’m gonna touch on the entire awards presentation in one swoop. When the Slammy Awards started, they were kind of a wink wink nudge nudge statement on stodgy awards shows. The WWF was like, “what if we did an awards show but made it FUN and 80s WRESTLING WEIRD?” That’s why we had sh*t like Vince McMahon doing grand musical numbers. Now all the self-awareness is gone, the entire thing’s decided by app votes, and it is, essentially, a company receiving awards from itself. Awards named after emojis and sh*t. Next year, they’re gonna give Neville the EGGPLANT OF THE YEAR.
– The entire night is built around WWE giving awards to these big stars like Sting, Brock Lesnar, The Undertaker, John Cena, The Rock, even Ronda Rousey — wrestlers and personalities people at the show desperately want to see — and then saying, “sorry, they aren’t here, but Mark Henry or Bo Dallas or The Miz will accept the award on their behalf.” They couldn’t have waited until they were in New York or Los Angeles to do this and actually get someone to appear? Aren’t they in Brooklyn next week? Couldn’t you have waited and at least gotten Jon Stewart or TV’s Donny! to give out an award?
– They should’ve just called the Hero In All Of Us award the JOHN CENA AWARD, because seriously. Stephanie McMahon being a nominee on the app but not on the show was weird. Did she pull herself when she saw she wasn’t gonna win? This is why you shouldn’t let people at home vote on who was the best at charity. They should give Coca-Cola the Warrior Award next year.
– Was there a sadder moment on the show than Mark Henry announcing that John Cena wasn’t gonna be there, and then saying “you’ve got me?” Hey guys, I know you came here for filet mignon, but I’ve got these Twizzlers …
– Santino Marella returning was fun, but he didn’t interact with the New Day, so therefore the entire night is a wash. At least R-Truth won an award for the most actually funny thing to happen on WWE TV this year. I’m surprised the payoff was a Steve Harvey joke, and not Santino coming back later in the night to win Diva of the Year.
– Speaking of Diva of the Year, I’m not sure what it was, but Nikki Bella accepting the award, thanking all the women who’ve wrestled her and walking away hugging Paige was the most bizarrely out-of-place kayfabe violation in a while. Wasn’t the entire women’s division this year built around Paige demanding change, Nikki Bella resisting it to keep her spot, and them being at each others’ throats about it? Isn’t that what got the NXT Women brought up, and made Stephanie McMahon put everyone into teams? Paige needing help to even the playing field? I feel like if you’re gonna do an awards show on Raw, it needs to be in the Raw universe. If you do it outside of Raw, like on a Network special, it can be whatever it wants … but you should still decide beforehand what you’re gonna do, and stick to it. If we’re giving awards to the performers, cool. If we’re giving awards to the characters, cool. But don’t give some awards to performers and some to characters. You don’t have Cate Blanchett winning Best Actress and give Best Actor to “Ron Woodroof.”
– Miss Universe was a work, open your eyes, people.
– It was a shame to see guys like Cesaro win “awarded before the show” Slammys and know they have to just sit at home in casts or whatever instead of enjoying some celebration of their performance at the job that hurt them in the first place.
– I liked formal Kalisto, because luchadores in suits is always a good idea.
– Bo Dallas as “the real Santa Claus” was as delightful as expected, and I hope one day someone at WWE HQ realizes what an alt comedy genius he is and starts giving him more to do. As of now, I’m counting “Bo Dallas,” “Mr. NXT” and “The Real Santa Claus” as the Three Faces Of Bo-ley.
– I’ll admit, I kinda popped for The Miz getting to accept an award on behalf of The Rock and use it as a chance to shill Santa’s Little Helper. I want a followup where The Rock guest stars and out of nowhere is like, “THE ROCK’S FAVORITE MOVIE OF THE HOLIDAYS WAS SANTA’S LITTLE HELPER, YOU SHOULD GO DIE-RECKALLY TO RED BOX AND RENT IT.”
– I can’t believe the crowd popped for Brock Lesnar’s music like he was there, after Paul Heyman had already appeared. Come on, guys. I wasn’t sure what to make of the crowd all night long. I liked that one section for doing the “hey we want some Bay-lay” chant for its original intended purpose — supporting The New Day — and then they went and ruined it by doing it for Becky Lynch. So whatever, y’all keep standing up for musical cues in hour 3 like you didn’t watch 1 and 2.
– Oh, and one more thing:
Best: Seth By God Rollins
Of all the people who had a reason to not show up, here’s Seth Rollins on crutches to accept the award that nobody but Seth Rollins should’ve been nominated for: Superstar of the Year. That guy carried the show on his back for like 8 months, for better or worse, and I’m glad he has something to show for it. The promo he cut was perfect, too, because it maintained his heel attitude but ended with an extremely babyface promise: that in 2016 he’d return, rebuild himself and recapture the championship he never lost. Awesome. Awesome. Plus, you know, his speech wasn’t 18 minutes long.
I’m very excited for Rollins to come back. All I want is for him to be the voice of reason, become the company’s top babyface and explain in detail the WWE Universe will listen to and believe why Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns are The Worst. Because honestly, why would you want to be brothers with THOSE guys?
Best: DADDY’S HOME
Congratulations to Alberto Del Rio for defeating Jack Swagger and getting one more victory before Big Match John returns next week and gives him back that Hell in a Cell loss, tenfold. BAWGAME.
Yep, in case you missed it, WWE protagonist John Cena returns from vacation next week and there will be Hell to pay. And by “hell,” of course, I mean, “pointing out how hot the crowd is and laughing about things he should probably take seriously, then getting super serious out of nowhere.” Del Rio should just leave the belt in the ring to open the show, get in his rented car and then promptly drive the hell away.
I’ll be honest: the more I think about it, the more I want John Cena vs. Roman Reigns at WrestleMania. It’d be like Link vs. Shadow Link. John Cena’s been preaching this prophecy about how one day he’d be replaced by a young upstart, and he was so busy eradicating all possible upstarts in the U.S. Open Challenge that Roman rose to power and is New Cena. Now Old Cena is back. CENA vs. CENA, ONCE IN A LIFETIME. Book it. I want just two hours of them popping up, hitting each other with finishers out of nowhere and getting shocked when the other guy kicks out. Two straight hours.
Worst: A Handicap Match So Punishing You Might Actually Forget It’s A Handicap Match
Hey, remember when Stephanie McMahon opened the show by punishing Roman Reigns, and shackled The Usos to the infinite terror of having to wrestle three super-easy-to-beat guys instead of two? Yeah, they win that match with a rollup, and watching it, you might forget you’re watching a handicap match.
I watched it again and tried to figure out what it was, and I think I’ve got it. Putting all three members of The New Day into a match together legally ruins their gameplan. At their best, it’s Kofi and Big E wrestling with Xavier Woods on the outside, trombone in hand, being annoying and running interference. When you take away that sneaky variable and put him on the apron, you demote him from “awesome, shifty manager” to “worst New Day guy at wrestling,” and they’re easier to beat. That’s why an Uso can counter an O’Connor roll with a much, much worse O’Connor roll of his own and win.
Plus, the role of The New Day now is to briefly be funny, then lose a non-title match. They’ve lost three in a row to the Lucha Dragons, lost a handicap match to the Usos, and now they’re defending the titles on Smackdown against, you guessed it, the Lucha Dragons. At least they will be funny for a minute! SHAME! SHAME! SHAME!
Worst: Congratulations On Breaking Out, Neville
In a different world — Full Sail, probably — Neville vs. Rusev would be killer. On Raw, with The Miz on commentary and The League of Nations trying to look as dastardly as possible before John Cena saunters in and eats them like a f*cking sack lunch, it was just there.
That’s where the Worst comes in. The disconnect between NXT and WWE Proper is an eternal bummer, and one I’ve grown to accept as an inevitability, but I hate seeing matches like this thrown in the middle of a Slammys Raw and built around a bunch of stories nobody could care about. Neville vs. Rusev is one of those things you could sit on and build to, and instead of taking the time to figure out what works about these guys and how the interplay of their characters, wrestling and personalities could make everyone involved a ton of money, you use it as filler between the MOST ON FLEEK award and I LITERALLY CAN’T EVEN OF THE YEAR.
Seriously though, watching the League of Nations beat up Jack Swagger and Neville feels like all the pre-alien scenes in Independence Day. John Cena’s gonna be hovering over them in a minute.
Best: Charlotte Sometimes
Like a lot of the better parts of the show, I like the intent of the work more than the execution. Becky Lynch vs. Brie Bella in a rematch — a Brie match — was kinda obvious and boring, but it continued the promising Becky/Charlotte arc and actually allowed them to progress on a show that otherwise exists to tread water.
Last week’s match had Charlotte showing up to “help” Becky when she didn’t necessarily need it, and Becky realizing that Charlotte thinks she can’t win on her own. This week, Becky gets a strong, clear-cut submission win and proves Charlotte wrong. In response, Charlotte gets in the ring to celebrate her, then makes it all about herself by raising Becky’s hurt arm, and holding up the Divas Championship for absolutely no reason. It’s great, because we not only moved the story forward, but we discovered another wrinkle … even when Charlotte is shown that she’s not the end-all be-all of everything, she’s still gotta be the focus. It’s not even malicious, it’s just that she’s up her own ass. That can happen with the Figure Eight, I suppose.
Best: Roman Reigns And The Magical Chair
Finally, this week’s main event is Roman Reigns. Also, Dean Ambrose and Sheamus have a cage match.
The cage match itself is weird, because it’s mostly Ambrose getting his ass kicked. Even the finish revolves around it. He gets his ass kicked so much that he falls off the cage and wins. He wins by BEING BEATEN UP THE MOST. It’s … kinda great? But also doesn’t really help anybody. I did appreciate Roman’s noble gesture having a reason to exist, with the League creeping around the cage, climbing up to prevent Ambrose from climbing over and slamming the door on his head when he tried to escape. It wasn’t just Roman pulling a Charlotte and thinking Dean couldn’t win. I also loved that Roman showed up and took out the entire Nation by himself, except for Wade Barrett, who just f*cking vanished. Because if Roman Reigns touches King Barrett right now, he’s getting injured. Barrett should roll out to matches in a giant hamster ball.
Anyway, the best part of the match is when Roman puts a steel chair on his arm like a purse and climbs the cage to keep Sheamus from escaping. He tosses it in to Ambrose, and … well, this happens.
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Week
“I don’t sweat”
Then I’m REALLY worried about what that liquid all over him is
Mr. Royal Rumble, TheCensoredMSol
In the spirit of Owen Hart, Canadians take the Slammys way too seriously.
LoL Moment of the year: RAW hits its lowest rating in 22 years.
Some say Brie stared at the Diva’s Revolution.
Mr. Royal Rumble, TheCensoredMSol
“Next week, John Cena comes back to fight Alberto Del Rio!”
*cut to Del Rio and Jack Swagger in the ring*
“And if you don’t like that, check out the alternative!”
“I dedicate this victory to all the women back there in the locker room…except for Brie, who I still wish died in the womb!”
The Real Birdman
The winning This is Awesome moment is actually 40 minutes away when the show ends
How can this backstage beatdown end with Barrett taking a pin? Watch the King show you how it’s done!
Bad News Burke
Del Rio, arm bar! Rusev, Accolade! Barrett- stand there and try not to hurt yourself!
I am a little behind live, but I for one am glad Ric Flair showed up tonight. It isn’t the holidays without seeing the Ghost of Christmas Past his Prime.
Thanks, everybody. See you next week, when JOHN.