The Best And Worst Of WWE Raw 2/2/15: The Exodus Of McGillicutty

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Please click through for the Best and Worst of WWE Raw for February 2, 2015.

Worst: The Authority Writes The Next Month Of TV In Real-Time

It takes this week’s opening segment 25 minutes and two (2) commercial breaks to say, “Daniel Bryan will face Seth Rollins tonight, and the winner will face Roman Reigns at Fast Lane with the winner of that match facing Brock Lesnar for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania.” 25 minutes for something a graphic with a disgruntled picture of Roman on it could’ve said. For a second I thought they’d read my made up episode of Raw and were doing it verbatim to piss me off.

Aside from how long it took, I actually liked a lot of the opening. Daniel Bryan’s new shirt is great, Seth Rollins is remembering to speak from his diaphragm and sounds comfortable, and Roman made an “I just pooped my cargo pants” face and stuck with it the entire segment. That sounds like a joke, but it works. They’re (accidentally, maybe?) building Roman up as this entitled, third-generation Superman who just assumes he can show up and pout and say sassy shit like “I’MMA PUNCH YOU IN DA MOUF” and get what he wants. Hell, dude had THE ROCK magically appear and help him fight off guys at the Royal Rumble. He just took a knee and waited for it to work out. He’s like that brilliant hacker teen from movies who shows up on a skateboard and is all, “UGH, GET OUT OF THE WAY” when adults can’t figure out how to BREACH THE MAINFRAME.

What I didn’t like is the presentation of the segment and everything around it. There was no reason to pull a Dixie Carter and say your announcement will SHAKE WWE TO ITS CORE and have the announcement be “there will be matches at Fast Lane.” What, you didn’t think the pay-per-view between the Royal Rumble and WrestleMania would have something to do with the Royal Rumble and WrestleMania? It’s not even a big announcement from a “the Royal Rumble doesn’t matter and the winner isn’t guaranteed a shot at Mania” perspective like some people are saying, because it OFTEN doesn’t matter. It didn’t matter last year. Batista won and went to Mania, but so did a guy who wasn’t even in the Rumble. People defend their Mania shots all the time. Same with the Money in the Bank briefcase. These stipulations are liquid, man, they always have been. It’s frustrating, but it isn’t new.

And then we get the I WANT TO GRAB THE SHOW BY THE SHOULDERS AND SHAKE IT followup with Triple H and Stephanie backstage having a “private conversation” in front of a cameraman in the middle of hour 1 of Raw speaking openly about how they’d manipulated everyone into doing their bidding. I know you want them to like, rub it in, but it came across less like “we’re Machiavellian overlords” and more “here’s the script we wrote for tonight’s show.” It’s more of a nitpick than a dramatic complaint, but come on, you’ve got multiple supplementary shows where Triple H sits down and explains what he thinks about shit. “I had an announcement but everyone’s super predictable so I waited for them to show ass before I made it” is the kind of thing you can say later if that’s seriously the opening segment you wrote.

Worst: The ‘Worst Night In Roman Reigns’ Career’ Is Unfairly Losing One Match And Being Made To Wrestle At An Upcoming Pay-Per-View

Raise your hand if you wanted to see Roman Reigns wrestle Big Show again. Okay, keep them up, I want to reenact the opening scene from Ghost Ship with your arms.

One of the fundamental struggles I have watching Raw is that they’re constantly in the middle of an evil authority story, so most of the marquee matchups revolve around how unfair it is that X has been put into this position by Y. It’s usually just too much. You could get from point A to point B without running through the entire alphabet. For example, you’ve got Big Show vs. Roman Reigns in the opening match. Show is 7-feet tall and 400-whatever pounds so a one-on-one match against Reigns should (in theory) be “odds.” It should be hard for Roman to win. But yeah, Show kinda sucks and loses to everybody, so you have the ref get distracted and Rollins worms in with the briefcase and costs Roman the match. WWE needs TWO ADDITIONAL GUYS to distract the referee, though, so you’ve got a 7-foot 400-pound guy and THREE ADDITIONAL PEOPLE with multiple people conspiring alongside them backstage to make one guy in a throwaway, 5-minute Raw match lose convincingly. It’s too much. Show could cheat and get the win himself and you’d accomplish the same thing. Cena’s set a weird precedent for every stacking of odds needing to be insurmountable. Odds themselves are interesting. They don’t need to be THE MOST ODDS.

I have that problem with Marvel movies, too. I mean, I like most of them, but it’s always THIS IS THE END OF THE WORLD. I remember entire comic book arcs that were like, “oh no, I hope Captain America can save this ship,” or “a monster’s trying to beat up Iron Fist, I hope he’ll be okay.” In Marvel movies you can’t do that. It’s gotta be CAPTAIN AMERICA MUST PREVENT A MYSTICAL APOCALYPSE CAUSED BY A TRANSDIMENSIONAL ARTIFACT FROM BEFORE TIME BEGAN or IRON FIST IS ACTUALLY AN IMMORTAL WITH 1/2 GOD BLOOD AND THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE WILL EXPLODE IF HE CAN’T GRAB THE DEVIL’S DICK AND HOLD IT FOR 20 SECONDS WITHOUT DYING. And you’re just like, “what, I want to see him punch people.” Maybe I’m an old fogey or something, I just don’t think the stakes have to be the highest they can possibly be at all times.

Anyway, super funny that the announce team is basically writing an In Memoriam for Roman Reigns’ career because he unfairly lost the first singles match of his WWE career.

Best: Justice For McGillicutty, Or
Worst: JBL For Christ’s Sake

1. Curtis Axel starting his big WrestleMania promo with DON’T CHANGE THE CHANNEL like he’s Zangief in the Street Fighter movie is exactly why Curtis Axel needs more mic time. He was the original Roman Reigns — that guy you couldn’t believe was this bad at public speaking but WANTED to hear speak, because you knew you’d hear something magical. NXT season 2 Michael McGillicutty gave us such classics as “I don’t know whether to SPANK YA or BREASTFEED YA” and “This isn’t a swimming pool … no matter how much you want it to be.” Now he’s demanding a match against Brock Lesnar and POINTING AT THE WRESTLEMANIA SIGN. “Guy who is here because of someone he knows and is too stupid to know he’s not top level talent” is a character that could really work, you know?

2. The announce team started shit-talking Axel the second he appeared and didn’t stop until he was gone. I will never understand it. It’s like, yeah, it’s Curtis Axel. Curtis Axel kinda sucks. Making fun of him is the best. But if you point at him and say “LOOK FANS, CURTIS AXEL IS TERRIBLE AND DOESN’T BELONG HERE,” what’s the point?

To explain what I’m saying, look at any old episode of WWF TV. Watch the Raw from 1993 I recapped yesterday. L.A. Gore is probably the most helpless and embarrassing jobber of all time. He looks like the shorter, stubbier nesting doll inside of Magnum T.A. You could place a newborn child on the ring apron and it’d be able to pin L.A. Gore. But hey, you never heard the announcers saying “THIS L.A. GORE GUY SUCKS SO BAD, WHAT’S HE DOING OUT HERE, THIS IS EMBARRASSING.” Want to know why? Because Typhoon wrestles him, and it’s Typhoon’s job to use L.A. Gore to make himself look tough and great because wrestling is not real and this is all a team effort. If you say your opponent sucks and you beat them, who cares? Nobody gains anything. You beat a guy who sucks. If you say your opponent’s great and you beat him, you beat somebody great.

And again, I don’t expect the announce team to start blowing Mike McF*ckingGillicutty because he’s got WrestleMania demands, but what he does and says in the ring will tell the necessary story. Ambrose showing up and dispatching him will say “Axel’s not in any position to be making main event demands” without three screeching old men insisting that everything they see sucks. Forget “the IWC,” the Raw announce team are the league leaders in pointlessly complaining about something they’re supposed to love.

Best: Every Raw Should Feature An Ernie Ladd Tribute Video

Ernie Ladd is the greatest. I wish every Raw could devote a few minutes to a video package like this. Make it a regular part of the show, not just for Black History Month. And not just for black athletes, either. You’ve got three hours to kill, spend maybe two minutes one week saying “hey young people, here’s Pedro Morales. Here’s why you should know who that is.” It’s not crucial but it also wouldn’t outstay its welcome, and you could use it to show how your history matters, and how you’ve been important to people longer than most of us have been alive. That’s something to be proud of, “old numbers” and all.

But yeah, Ernie Ladd rules.

Best: Give The Dusts A Shot At Mania, Not Just Fast Lane

Speaking of people the announce team won’t stop yelling about, here’s The Ascension. Points to Booker T for at least trying to jump in and salvage some of this in the face of JBL’s incessant whimpering.

The important thing here is that Goldust and Stardust are about to break up, and that’s a thing that’s need to happen since what, the second week Stardust existed? When he debuted we thought it was a way for Cody to passive-aggressively take a shot at Dustin. They were in the middle of a story about Cody thinking he was the weak link and trying to find a new partner for Goldust, and then all of a sudden he was dressing and acting like Goldust and it was GREAT. The hook there, we all assumed, would be Cody saying “oh, what you do isn’t special, I wasn’t the weak link at all, YOU WERE” and jumping him. That’d split them apart, Cody would go back to being some incarnation of Dashing Cody Rhodes and the Rhodes Boys would get the brother vs. brother blowoff they need and deserve. I guess we liked Stardust too much at first, so he stuck around and everybody hit the brakes.

We took the long away around, but it looks like we’re finally getting there. My biggest (and only, frankly) hope is that Cody and Dustin can extend whatever they’re doing to WrestleMania. Give them 20 minutes at Fast Lane if you want to remind people they’re both great at what they do, then blow it off however you want at Mania. If it’s in a singles match in the middle of the show, cool. If you bump it to the pre-show, fine, whatever. Just give them this. Cody needs it if Cody’s ever going to be a thing, and Goldust deserves at least one moment where WWE says “hey everybody, let’s hear it for Goldust.” Send them out at Mania, let Dustin go train people down in NXT and get a Hall of Fame induction at Mania 32 in Texas and I don’t know, maybe realize you’ve got the 29-year old model-handsome son of Dusty f*cking Rhodes on your roster and do something real with him.


Haha man I don’t even know anymore.

John Cena shows up with a case of neon pink eye and welcomes back the fired guys from Team Cena, and Stephanie shows up on the TitanTron to put them into matches against their will. Survivor Series happened in NOVEMBER. It’s FEBRUARY and we’re still complaining about it. Sting still hasn’t done anything, nobody who faced consequences at Survivor Series actually had to face them and we’re back to square one. The Authority’s evil and Cena’s a demanding know-it-all. You cannot go on podcasts and make excuses about how much creative writing you’re asked to do as a company when you haven’t written a main-event story deeper than “a guy has to wrestle a match he doesn’t want to wrestle” in two f*cking years.

Worst, But Maybe Best?: Cena’s Ongoing Beef With NXT

The cool and kinda concerning part of Cena’s promo is where he mentions how evil overlord Triple H has rebranded NXT as a promotion full of guys trying to take his spot. Objectively the statement isn’t severe, because as pro wrestlers your job should always be getting to the top of your promotion and being the best. Subjectively, John Cena’s more or less teaching a WWE audience that only cares or reacts to him that anyone they see come up from NXT is a threat to him and trying to take away what they love. The fact that you could go either way with it is the most John Cena thing in the world.

As much of an NXT homer as I am and as much as I hate WWE’s continuing efforts to establish a bright future in one hand and punch it in the nuts with the other, Cena hating NXT is like the one thing Cena’s said in a year that makes sense. NOBODY should hate NXT more than him. This dude’s most personal and threatening feud was against the NXT season 1 rookies, who banded together and tried to end his career. He’s spend the past 5 years making sure none of them succeed. Check him out babysitting Ryback. Reference any of his interactions with Daniel Bryan. He’ll talk them up, but he’ll always make sure he’s standing in front of them. His entire “the future has to go through me act” is because of the Nexus. They gave him PTSD and now he freaks out whenever he thinks of yellow ropes.

Best: Luke Harper, Hoss Wrangler

The parallel between Luke Harper and Erick Rowan is really interesting to me. Their stories don’t make any sense, but it’s a fun retcon. Rowan is (somewhat adorably) finding John Cena and thanking him for treating him like a human being, because he’s spent his entire life being treated like an animal. Cena taught him that he could be himself, and now he’s trying to do that, though he’s not totally sure what “being himself” means. This contradicts the whole “he’s a genius” and “he’s an award-winning vintner” stuff, but we should write that shit off as a bad joke and move in this direction. At the same time, Harper’s choosing to continue being treated like an animal. He’s a tool. A puppet. He finds comfort in being part of a team and being told what to do. When Wyatt loosed him, he immediately went to the biggest, meanest group of jerks he could find and offered his services. He’s never had the epiphany that he deserves humanity and should pursue it. This is what makes sense to him. It’s that Flobots video as a wrestling story.

Anyway (dot dot dot) Harper is always secretly one of the best parts of the show. The guy can work on a different level than most of his peers, because he’s got experience working a lot of different styles in front of different audiences of different sizes in different places, and didn’t learn the ropes from Hugh Morrus in the Performance Center bouncy house ring. There’s a real value to working to become your own thing before you try to get a job in the big leagues, and it’s the difference between Luke Harper and Mojo Rawley. Some guys can have “it” by magical proxy, but a lot won’t.

Harper/Ryback was fun because they kept it simple, and Harper’s big enough to make Ryback look strong without being TOO big and exposing him. Ryback sucks when he’s in the ring with guys like Show or Mark Henry, but put him in there against Harper or Bryan and he can make it work. He’s like a Mike Awesome that can’t really jump.

Best: K-Swiss Being Dicks To The Usos

Jimmy Uso is the Brie Bella of Usos. His match with Cesaro wasn’t much, but it had a great finish: Jimmy going for a top rope splash and Cesaro cutting him off in mid-air with a European uppercut. Any and all instances of Cesaro returning to his former glory are loved and praised. The best part, though, was Tyson Kidd dropkicking Jey Uso in the side of the head for basically no reason and sliding out of the ring. I want Kidd and Cesaro to stay together forever, and I want them to be this generation’s Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard. They might not ever be world champions, but dammit, they should be FRIENDS with him.

I also like the parallel between Jimmy Uso and Tyson Kidd. Remember when The Miz told Naomi he could help her get opportunities, and you thought it was gonna go somewhere creepy but it never did, and she got auditions and Divas Championship shots? Remember how that ended with her just mindlessly deciding Jimmy Uso was right and becoming their manager, and never winning the Divas Championship or being in movies? I want Naomi to realize how bad he f*cked her over but stick around to manage them anyway, so she and Jimmy can be the U.S. version of Tyson and Natalya. Just a loveless marriage that doesn’t really help anyone, but they’re used to it. Maybe don’t go as far with it as Natalya has. I’m pretty sure she keeps getting plastic surgery to LOOK like Tyson.

Best: The Miz > Damien Mizdow

I’m so happy I get to love The Miz again.

If you were around in 2009/2010, you know how I feel. This horrible MTV personality had gone from a fedora-wearing Eva Marie to one of the most sincere, hardest working people in the company. He was entertaining, his matches kept getting better and he was a reliable anchor for getting basically anybody over. Dude almost made ALEX RILEY a star just because people wanted to see him get his ass beaten so badly. He became a disposable body in the early days of the Rock vs. Cena feud (which happened to coincide with a WrestleMania main-event), and he couldn’t recover. He tried to come back strong with Awesome Truth, but Cena and Rock teamed up to make sure nobody’d ever take them seriously, and that vanished. He tried pairing up with Ric Flair but couldn’t do a figure four, so THAT vanished. When he came back as Hollywood Miz and instantly got dumped on we weren’t sure how to feel, but most of us went with extreme apathy.

They started the stunt double angle, and we all fell in love (again) with Damien Sandow. At some point The Miz just caught fire again and the angle started revitalizing them both, and now I can honestly say Miz is one of my favorite performers on the show again. WE MISSED YOU, BUDDY. I mean, shit, watch him here. Watch this segment and tell me Miz isn’t the one we should all point to and say, “that guy gets it.” He’s AMAZING here. He’s almost stunt-doubling the stunt double, using the exact same relationship and techniques Sandow uses to get massively over as a face to make everyone hate his guts. You want to punch him in the face SO BAD for what he’s saying, and yourself for loving how he’s saying it.

Goldust vs. Stardust and Miz vs. Mizdow should both get WrestleMania spots. Move the battle royal to the pre-show if you have to. The last guy who won it spent a year trying to make people forget it happened.

Best: The Miz/Mizdow Dynamic Is Changing And Staying Great

The match is just icing on the cake. Miz has now become obsessed with the reality that Sandow is the one people like instead of him, so he hates his damn guts but he’s gotta keep him around to keep him subservient and in-check. He can’t just fire him and move on with his life, because that wouldn’t change things. He has to be in control, and even when Sandow’s basically standing still doing nothing it infuriates him and causes him to lose. Sandow picking the perfect spot to let loose and cause the purposeful distraction is the first distraction rollup loss I haven’t hated in a while.

The best part is that Sandow’s doing it on purpose, sure, but he also just loves his work. He WANTS to mimic Miz, because that’s been his life for half a year. It’s what he’s grown accustomed to. So good.

Worst: Alicia Fox Is Now Two Up On Big Show On The All-Time Turns List

Big Show needs to save Daniel Bryan from The Authority at Fast Lane to close the gap.

Best: Nikki Bella Is NWO 4 Life

As bad as the Bella Twins are on commentary — for example, diatribes about hashtag lengths — I actually kinda liked Nikki Bella’s point about “anti-Divas.” Women ARE always showing up trying to disrupt the status quo of WWE’s Beautiful WAGs Division, and most of the time it’s hypocritical. Paige says she’s the anti-Diva but all that really means is she doesn’t tan. She still wears a bunch of makeup, still takes forever to get ready, still shows up on the Divas reality show, all of it. Nikki’s spitting the truth. AND NOW SHE’S SPRAY-PAINTING PEOPLE.

I’m going to pretend the tanner was supposed to come out orange, but turned black when it touched Paige’s vampire skin. Also, thank you for not spraying her in the face with it during Black History Month.

Best: Bray Wyatt And Dolph Ziggler As Mil Muertes And Fenix

I’ve read some differing opinions about the quality of this match and hey, maybe I was just in a good mood while I was watching the episode, but I liked it a lot. I think people get too hung up on “selling” without really knowing what selling is, or how it works.

Selling is about the story. About context. That’s why it works differently in different parts of the world. In Mexico, luchadors don’t sell like their North American counterparts. The drama of the injury isn’t important to the story they’re telling; lucha libre is essentially a battle between superheroes and villains, and the themes aren’t really sports-based. They’re about justice, mostly, and about being larger than life. You don’t want to see Blue Panther shaking out his fist after he punches a guy, you want to see him shrug off the pain and jump on somebody. Context. In Japan there’s a lot going on, but “fighting spirit” is the thing you hear about. That’s not about simply no-selling a move … it’s about ABSORBING the move and dealing with the pain, because your desire to win is stronger than your brain and your body. Your soul’s basically willing you forward. That’s why you’ll see some guys pop up from a big move, hit a move of their own and THEN collapse. It’s about being bigger than yourself. The energy of the match. In the U.S. we’re obsessed with the masculinity of pro sports, so we want to see people get hurt and come back, but there has to be a visible struggle. The physics of what we’re watching have to make sense, because we need to convince ourselves in the moment that what we’re watching is “real.” If we’re taken out of it for a second it becomes too easy to dismiss. That’s our culture, and that’s why our art comes out looking this way.

I really dug the finish of the match with Wyatt shrugging off a Fame-asser and hitting Sister Abigail, partially because Wyatt isn’t supposed to be “normal.” He’s supposed to be something larger than human. That should give him these moments of demonic resilience and power, like the Undertaker sitting up after a big move. The best part is that Wyatt didn’t no-sell the Zig Zag … he got up from one of Dolph’s secondary moves. That’s an important distinction to make. And he didn’t really even “no-sell” it in conventional terms. He’s still clearly hurting and crawling into the pin. He’s not hitting his move and then dancing around unharmed like Cena likes to do. He didn’t go through a Hell in a Cell match and then wander around ringside hugging kids. He took a big shot, recoiled with a bomb and won the match.

So yeah, I could probably write about this forever, but I hope that expresses the gist of what I’m feeling. I want supernatural characters to be stupidly supernatural, though, so I might be the wrong person to ask. I want Wyatt to pop the crab walk sometime and literally explode into a mess of actual crabs.

Best, But Probably Not Forever: Bray Wyatt Challenging The Undertaker

You know what’s gonna suck? If Wyatt’s just challenging Kane again.


I think my very favorite part of the show happened by accident.

Erick Rowan is out to make his dad John Cena proud in a match against Rusev, so Rusev just mercilessly wrecks him. I assume this will be the Apollo Creed portion of WWE’s ‘No Easy Way Out’ montage. The match never starts and Rusev unofficially wins via FEDERATION HEROISM, and Lana intros a video spotlighting all the times Kofi Kingston’s been beaten with a camel clutch. Spoiler alert: a lot of times.

The Russian flag’s supposed to unfurl here, but it gets caught in the thing. That pops the crowd HUGE, and instead of just pretending it didn’t happen an awkwardly wandering to the back while the announcers either cover for it or bury him for something beyond his control, Rusev and Lana play it up. They get mad, and Rusev angrily stomps outside the ring to grab HIS OWN PERSONAL FLAG and wave it around. It gets him so much heat and it’s so good, and the ability to roll with a mistake is such an underrated talent for a pro wrestler. Every wrestler should take improv classes so they aren’t stuck in the ring like a goof when something f*cks up.

A supplementary Best to WWE for keeping the gross Cena/Lana segments on Smackdown so I never have to write about them.

Yes, I just jinxed myself.

Worst (But Honestly Also A Best): Roman Reigns, Dickhead WWE Babyface

Best: Most Of Bryan Vs. Rollins

Here’s the truth, and I’ve probably typed it before: if Raw could remember to toss in a couple of entertaining matches every week, it’d make the other crap worth sitting through. Like, if Daniel Bryan’s facing Seth Rollins in the main-event with an important thing on the line I’ll sit through 40 Popeye’s commercials and whatever Florida Georgia Line’s stopped by to shill.

I enjoyed the match a lot because it worked so well as a Raw main event. It felt important, so they didn’t just jump in and start hitting moves. The pacing of the match was deliberate and kinda slow until they got a ways into it, and by the end they were throwing top rope backdrops and knocking three people at a time over announcer tables with suicide dives. I feel like I’m gonna write the “I’m so glad Daniel Bryan’s back” paragraph for six months, but the guy’s presence just makes wrestling better. And hell, performers like Rollins DESERVE someone like Bryan to work with.

And hey, guess what? When you have Roman Reigns just show up and be THE JUGGERNAUT, he’s pretty awesome. Him running in from out of nowhere and Ghostbusters dog-jumping into Big Show headfirst was awesome, as was him dispatching J&J Security and helping put Rollins in his place. I appreciate that Reigns’ punch didn’t end the match, it just helped even things up so Bryan could hit HIS move and win. It’s the whole “Goldberg helping Eddie Guerrero beat Brock Lesnar” thing. He didn’t do it for him, he just helped. I’m looking forward to Bryan/Roman at Fast Lane, because (1) Roman has proven that he can be elevated to true wrestling greatness, and nobody’s got a better shot of doing this one-on-one than D-Bry, and (2) I’ve already made peace with Bryan totally eating it.

One thing, though: Roman needs to start spearing people with his shoulder instead of his head. That’s a good way to get paralyzed. They don’t make protective swat gear for your neck.

Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Night


“I will manipulate Austin like we have manipulated everyone else. Ok guys you can start the vignette.”



Who let Sin Cara set up the flag?


Rusev is just a flesh colored Blanka

Fancy Catsup

People love Wyatt? Job to Cena!
People love Ambrose? Job to Wyatt!
Wyatt’s rebuilt? Job to Taker!


:HHH just stares in horror:
Vince: “I’LL GO TELL HER!”
HHH: “Steph…”
Stephanie: “I know, I’m calling the home.”
HHH: “The good one?”
Stephanie: “No, the crooked one we saw on 60 minutes.”
HHH: “Oh thank God.”


These three turn heel on Cena, form faction: #NotYourShield


Rusev hasn’t been pinned yet? Gee whiz, Lana better hurry up or some other gal is going to swoop in and steal her beau!

Skelly Tor

They need to have a segment where Cody Rhodes wakes up in his pre-Stardust gear backstage on a pile of steel chairs, then wander out to the ring and just ask people what year it is and why everything tastes like glitter.


Dean Ambrose wants the IC title, he must really be crazy


I can’t wait for Roman Reigns to trade his Wrestlemania match for some magic beans.

Thanks, everybody. See you next week.