The Best And Worst Of WWE Raw 2/9/15: When This Goes Up, Your Mouth Goes Shut

Pre-show notes:

– Yes, that’s Cobra.

– If you’re in the Texas area — it’s a big area — you should come to Inspire Pro Wrestling’s next event ‘Undeniable’ on 2/15 at the Marchesa Hall & Theater in Austin. In a related note, thank you to everyone who voted for Inspire or With Spandex (or both!) in this year’s RSPW Awards. Voting is over, so now we just have to sit and wait to find out if we’re better than Bleacher Report’s Goods And Bads Of Raw.

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Please click through for the Best and Worst of WWE Raw for February 9, 2015.

Daniel Bryan Roman Reigns Raw opening

Worst: One Of Those Raw Openings Where Nothing Makes Sense And Nobody Looks Good And It Takes Them 15 Minutes To Do The First-Draft Obvious Thing

The most frustrating thing about WWE babyfaces from a storytelling standpoint is that to be “good,” they also have to be impossibly stupid. We’ve referred to this as “Sting Stupid,” and also Bayley Stupid. They get so obsessed with achieving goals and making statements that they’re forced to avoid obvious plot points and storyline holes, like a referee pretending he doesn’t see a guy’s foot on the ropes when he’s got a kneecap an inch from his ear.

WWE’s been telling this Authority vs. The Working Man story for what, ever? 20 years? At the very least they’ve been telling it with these same players for almost two, and nobody seems to be able to observe it or adapt. They keep hitting the same retread points over and over and the babyfaces have to pretend they don’t have a way to fix it. Say you’re Roman Reigns. Say you just won the Royal Rumble and The Authority’s breathing down your neck trying to take it away. Say you’re Daniel Bryan, and you’ve just spent a year and a half battling this same problem. At what point do you simply say, “hey, we’re doing this to ourselves, let’s try something new?” Why is there still an issue of “will they co-exist?” Not co-existing makes you look like a f*cking moron. Pride and personal gain aside, you are furthering this endless cycle of self-defeating prophecy against a league of evil bad guys who JUST proved that there’s no way to beat them. They lost a LOSER LEAVES EVERYTHING match to John Cena and Sting and Vince McMahon, and three months later everyone’s still employed and going through the same motions. Team Authority, Team Cena, Bryan, Roman, Sting, everyone.

So what we’re left with is the guys who should be the #1 and 2 beloved popular heroes being selfish dicks to each other until the bad guys show up and start cutting promos on things TOTALLY UNRELATED TO THE HEROES, like the WWE Network free trial and the upcoming confrontation announcement signing whatever with Sting. Roman and Bryan just stand there shoulder-to-shoulder for five minutes waiting for The Authority to finish their shills and start the show.

And what’s the result? UNEASY TAG TEAM PARTNERS against Kane and Big Show. Daniel Bryan against Kane and Roman Reigns vs. Big Show, aka the same two boring matches we’ve seen for a month crammed into one. Sorry, crammed into TWO, because the first match is just a red herring to set up the second. A HANDICAP MATCH. This takes 15 minutes. Literally any person who has watched more than two episodes of Raw in the past year could say “Reigns and Bryan handicap match and they don’t get along” as their first f*cking draft prediction for Raw in two f*cking seconds. It’s not “bad” necessarily, it’s just maddening. Nobody’s paying attention and nobody’s changing and nobody’s making it better.

The thing about pro wrestling on TV is that it’s supposed to be ever-changing. New matches each week, new stories, character alignment changes, title changes, whatever. It’s the illusion of sport, with the ability to control it and maximize the drama. Instead of playing a full season, WWE’s taping Opening Day and playing it 162 times in a row.

Best/Worst: Daniel Bryan’s Get Out Of Bad Promo Free Card

Two things I liked:

1. Bryan saying that he and Roman are “just about even” in the looks department, not only because it was funny, but because it made Roman smile and act like a human being for a few seconds.

2. Bryan dropping a reference to Katie Vick, causing a bunch of 8-year olds to google “Triple H casket” and lose their innocence. I appreciate logical nods to past WWE events, although I wish Kane had reacted to it. He’s standing beside a guy who outed him as a sexual murderer and pretended to force his dead girlfriend’s brains out of her skull with his cock. Also, that guy’s wife’s brother once THREW HIM IN A DUMPSTER FULL OF FIRE.

(okay, maybe he didn’t react because addressing all this would take three hours)

Worst: Taking 10 Minutes To Reiterate The Thing You Just Spent 15 Minutes Saying

So yeah, the opening match is a tag team match that’s honestly going pretty well until the finish, which is the most WCW thing ever. Daniel Bryan has basically beaten two giants by himself and is about to tap one of them out when the other pulls him out of the ring and throws him into the barricade. The referee THROWS IT OUT, because sometimes the match finish making sense doesn’t matter as much as putting it behind us and getting to the post-match. WCW was the king of that. If something was supposed to happen after the match, Nick Patrick would call a DQ or a No Contest from ANYTHING. If Kenny Kaos had to catch a beatdown, his ass would get DQ’d for hip-tossing too hard.

That sets up the Super Obvious Thing where Bryan’s trying to fight off everyone and accidentally dropkicks Roman Reigns. Roman has apparently never been in a wrestling match before and takes this personally, leading to a shoving match and the announcement of a 5-on-2 handicap match featuring the exact same people plus Seth Rollins and two NPCs. Because nothing makes a person want to sit through 2 1/2 hours of wrestling like the promise they’ll see a worse version of the thing they were just disappointed by.

Plus, the crowd’s just not having any of it. They boo Roman, then boo Bryan for saying he’s a better wrestler than Roman. You’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t.

Worst: Seth Rollins And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

First the guy’s social media accounts leak a nude picture of a developmental Diva, then his fiancé leaks nude pictures of HIM and all of his sexy teenager texts. Then he’s gotta wrestle this meaningless DQ finish match against Ryback (who is so out of sync tonight he can’t take stomps properly) and then he’s a total non-factor in a 5-on-2 handicap match that he loses. I don’t know which part of that is worse.

Worst: Brie Mode

In case you missed it, last night marked the return of THEME FROM BRIE BELLA, aka the worst of all WWE entrance themes. I don’t want to say it’s the worst song ever recorded, but now these Karmin B-sides are sounding like Ave Maria.

Best: Paige Figures Out The Distraction Rollup Conundrum

The most dangerous move in professional wrestling is the Divas Match Distraction Rollup. It does 9999 HP damage and casts paralysis, so even if you’re fired up and cast Life 3 you’re still lying on your shoulders with your legs over your head and a handful of your shorts in someone’s hand. The Paige vs. Brie Bella match was your standard sub-Nikki Bellas fare, but I loved the finish as an example of someone who has maybe watched an episode of Raw before and done her homework.

Paige is roughing up Brie and goes for the kill, so Nikki gets on the apron. Instead of releasing the hold to fuss with Nikki or waiting for the referee to be distracted, Paige simply tosses Brie into Nikki like she’s Finlay chucking Hornswoggle, knocks Nikki off the apron and finishes her move on Brie. I wish wrestlers did this more often, both to elevate the expectations of their finishes and to raise the bar on creative. It’s not hard to come up with finishes other than the distraction rollup, you just have to put a little effort into it. It’s not rocket science.

Supplemental Best to Paige for her forearm tribute to Drew McDonald, which should just become permanent.

Worst: Nikki’s Outfit

At some point you venture past Sexy Baseball Player Halloween Costume and into Dead Or Alive DLC. High heels with thigh-high tube socks and hot pants? King Cuerno has a better fashion sense than Nikki Bella and he is literally wearing a dead animal’s head as a hat.

Worst: Cena Got SO CLOSE To Getting Through This Promo Without Saying Lana Has Balls

The WWE Fan Nation version of this segment is actually really great. Rusev and Lana show up with a condescending video about John Cena that I am sincerely hoping Rusev stayed up all weekend making on his iMac, then Cena shows up to refute it and say he’ll kick Rusev’s ass. They brawl, and we’re out.

In reality, the segment was ALMOST good. Everything plays the same except there’s more time to talk, so riiiight at the end Cena drops in a thing about how Lana has balls. It was a “don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes” situation, I guess. Everything’s productive and engaging and my fingers are hovering over the keyboard waiting to throw praise his way and then BOOM GOES THE DYNAMITE, Lana’s a Communist cooter. Rusev’s not wrong when he’s saying he’s a hero and shouldn’t be booed. If he pinkens Cena’s other eye at Fast Lane he’ll be my favorite wrestler.

He’s already basically my favorite wrestler. I wonder if he made Sting’s video, too?


Stroud Sign Raw

I love you in real life, @J_Smitty_. Give him a follow for his exceptional taste in hashtags.

Best/Worst: The Intersection Of Ziggler And Wyatt

These Wyatt/Ziggler matches are interesting. The wrestling is fun and they’re both good at what they do, but the matches create too many stressful conversations.

The first one is when WWE suddenly decides a wrestler is “unstoppable.” It’s usually used as a trope to build that character up for a big loss to someone Actually Important. There are exceptions (Brock Lesnar’s 2014-15, John Cena’s last decade), but if you see a guy who doesn’t win all the time suddenly winning all the time, there are dark clouds on the horizon. That’s why I try not to get too hot about Daniel Bryan not being in WrestleMania main events every year … the joy of watching my favorite wrestlers wrestle is in hoping they’ll win and wondering how they’ll do it, not the corporate decision that’s been made to bless them with a push. It’s such a hard thing to express. Maybe being on the Internet for so long has made me numb to “pushes” and “burials.”

That collides directly with WWE’s tendency to put the same two wrestlers in the same match with each other for weeks in a row. Bray Wyatt just finished beating Dean Ambrose for two straight months, so now he’s beating Ziggler every week. Neither Ambrose nor Ziggler will get the payoff. Wyatt’s being built for his WrestleMania opponent, presumably the Undertaker, and that’s who gets the rub. You can give a wrestler a string of strong victories and make everyone look worthwhile without resorting to wishy-washy 50/50 booking by just switching up the wrestlers, and making us not feel like we’ve watched one month-long 45 minute loss. Does that make sense? Is the roster too thin for that? We’ve got the main-eventers working double duty, maybe there’s no way to have Wyatt get a competitive 7-10 with Kofi and get the exact same win.

Best: Remember Sheamus? He’s Back, In Pog Form!

I appreciate this video positioning Sheamus as the Prince Puma for white people, I just wish he’d have taken this break as an opportunity to change up his game a little. Maybe use that video package music as his entrance theme and work a “lovelorn traveler about to die in a shipwreck” gimmick. Imagine Sheamus falling in love with Eva Marie backstage and having sex with her in the backseat of a car. Santino can be his unmemorable Italian friend. Imagine The Miz as Billy Zane. Imagine it.

Worst: Why Does It Take So Long To Break Up Tag Teams

Two notes:

– The New Day is the most dead-in-the-water thing I’ve ever seen. They could bring out Larry the Cable Guy in the Rey Mysterio mask again and he’d get more of a reaction than these guys. It’s not their fault, really, but damn, Saba Simba had a better chance of getting over as a respected black athlete.

– Goldust and Stardust are breaking up and that’s still good, but they’re breaking up like Adam Rose and The Bunny. I have no idea why it takes WWE so long to break up tag teams. You have to fill a month of television and all, but when tag partners are shoving each other into shit backstage there’s no reason to spend four more weeks tagging them and teasing dissension. When Arn Anderson turned on Dustin Rhodes he just got in the ring and dropped him, they didn’t have backstage tea parties where they acted bothered by everything and made sad faces at the camera. This is a feud between a living Academy Awards statue who is also a Sith Lord and his brother, a cosmic housecat who acts like The Riddler and has stars all over his body. WHY ARE THEY BEING MOPEY, THEY SHOULD BE SHOOTING LASERS AT EACH OTHER.

And while we’re on the top of breaking up tag teams, stuff The New Day into a crate and mail them back to Vince McMahon’s antiquated understanding of race.

Best: Sting, Dark Master Of Adobe After Effects

This segment was dumber than a sack of inbred potatoes, but I loved it. I loved it the most.

Triple H, de facto babyface (?) calls out Sting, a guy who keeps showing up unannounced and ruining main-events. Yes, this is a talking segment to set up another talking segment. H calls him out without realizing that Sting has become an elite member of the Fraternal Order of the Raven and falls victim to HILARIOUS MAGIC COMMUNICATION POWERS.

Seriously, Sting is now straight-up a Zealot of the Lady. He can control the lights, he can teleport, he commands crows, he wears fancy jackets and covers his face. He’s aligned with the Vox Populi, so we know what timeline we’re in. It’s so weird. Triple H gets haunted by a guy in a Sting costume and does a full back bump to sell it, then has his challenge accepted via VIDEO SCREEN TEXT. I want to type about this segment in capital letters. I have no idea why Sting has Undertaker powers now. It’s like they’ve never actually watched a Sting match. The guy is so dumb he couldn’t figure out that man-sized birthday presents might have men in them, and now he can control LIGHT?

It’s so stupid and weird and perfect. Supplemental Worst though for Triple H continuing to brag that he “helped destroy” WCW, which would be effective heeling if (1) liking WCW was a face move, (2) the Monday Night Wars show isn’t dedicated to rewriting history so Road Dogg on a jeep put a popular wrestling company out of business within minutes, and (3) it was even remotely true. Or (4) Triple H somehow orchestrated the AOL/Time Warner merger and caused WCW to lose its TV time, and therefore its value. BUT NOPE, ROAD DOGG ON A JEEP AND THEN STING DISAPPEARED FOR 15 YEARS AND NOW HE’S BACK WITH THE INFINITY GAUNTLET.

Worst: Wait, BROCK Is Here?

As a clickbait-obsessed hypocrite I enjoyed Paul Heyman throwing shade at Brian Williams as much as the next guy, but yo, how you gonna pay x-amount of money to have BROCK LESNAR on your show and have him just stand there doing nothing? Did he do this one as a freebie? Does he only get paid if he says something or hurts somebody? Maybe he left his Jimmy John’s track suit jacket at the last episode and stopped by to pick it up, and was like “sure, I’ll go out and stand.”

The tease of Brock Lesnar is so much worse than his absence, even if Paul Heyman is implying that Samoans piss pineapple juice and killing it as the worst person ever.

Best: They Did It For The Rock

Rikishi getting into the Hall of Fame is great, and The Usos having to stick around after a loss and pretend like they’re happy about it is even better.

My biggest complaint is that “Rikishi” is getting into the Hall of Fame and not Junior Fatu, who as a whole is a legit Hall of Famer. Rikishi had a good run and made money — that dive off the cage onto Val Venis is reason enough to put him in the Hall — but as the video package points out, he was basically just a giant ass to rub on peoples’ faces. That’s not an all-encompassing representation of the man. He had a 30+ year career that went from being one of the best under-the-radar workers in the world has half of The Samoan Swat Team in the NWA and the Headshrinkers in the WWF to runs with the Intercontinental and Tag Team Championships. He had to get The Rock over when nobody else could, in a sultan costume. He ran over Stone Cold Steve Austin in one of the most memorable WTF reveals ever. He recorded the single greatest WWE album track in history, an R&B ballad about rubbing his asshole on children. Rikishi is SO MUCH.

I will, however, accept the “where the f*ck is Vader if you’re putting in Rikishi” response.

Worst: LOL Booker T

Cesaro and Tyson Kidd have a nice little match with The Usos. You wouldn’t be able to tell, though, because the story of the match is “women are near the ring” and the announce team won’t stop yelling about where wives are supposed to stand. The best is Booker T, who says that you shouldn’t bring your wife to the ring. Booker T. Says you shouldn’t bring your wife to the ring.

Best: When My Hand Goes Up, Your Mouth Goes Shut

I said it last week, but I’ll say it again: Miz is the truth right now.

He’s the best heel on the show, and his feud with Mizdow hasn’t even STARTED yet and it’s the best feud on the show. Probably because they don’t devote 30 minutes at the beginning and end of the show to it and fill the two hours in-between with constant replays and updates. Miz is fully aware that he’s ruining Mizdow’s life, and is committed to making sure he not only loses matches, but loses the approval of the crowd. In Miz’s brain, he thinks the association with HIM is what made Mizdow popular, and while he’s technically correct, he’s not “correct.” Having him actively sabotage everything Sandow’s trying to do is a perfect parallel to last week, when Sandow did literally nothing at ringside and Miz couldn’t stop obsessing over it. The “my hand goes up, your mouth goes shut” and chanting responses to “you’re from Cleveland” made it even better.

For the record, Miz is right. Cleveland is way better than Columbus.

But yeah, when Mizdow finally snaps and lights up Miz it’s going to be glorious, and they’ll have earned it. I just hope they have a plan for what happens AFTER that, though, because I don’t want Mizdow to fall into that Alex Riley trap of suddenly being the Next Big Thing and shitting the bed into oblivion. I think Sandow’s too talented for that, but I’ve seen him shine too brightly and get snuffed out before. I worry about him.

Worst: Why U No AxelMania?

You have Brock Lesnar in the building and he’s doing nothing and you STILL don’t give me my Lesnar/Axel match? What’s wrong with you? Do you even READ my fan fiction?

Best (And Worst, But Still Best): BNZ

As a snarky fan who gravitates towards charismatic heels, I get sad when WWE notices something a heel’s doing has gotten them over and takes it away to keep them from becoming popular. I totally understand it. You have roles to fill, and you can’t have the people who are supposed to be the villains getting cheered over the heroes. I think there’s a deeper issue with how their heroes are presented and the nurturing of that weird combination of ignorant yokels and know-it-alls in the crowd, but this makes sense too. The only thing people liked about Fandango was his entrance theme, so they took it away. People loved “I’m afraid I’ve got some bad news,” so they took it away from Barrett. Now he’s got a news ticker and an RNN update thing where he essentially does the “bad news” gag without the hook. It sucks, but that’s the point.

In a related note, I wish they’d go full Monkeys Paw with the Intercontinental Championship and have it draw people in with its history and beauty, but cause terrible, unforeseen consequences for people who hold it. Barrett trying to lure crazy Ambrose into a situation just to unload a cursed belt on him would be amazing. Also, when Ambrose wins there’d better be a payoff where we see him confidently hanging a portrait of himself in WWE Headquarters. Make that snowed-out Raw mean something.

Quick question, though: is there not a place on the wall for United States Champions?

Worst: The Main-Event Stand-A-Thon

Maybe we’ve seen too many 5-on-2 handicap matches at this point, but this was terrible. There were great moments, of course, like Joey Mercury bumping his ass off to make everyone within a 20-foot radius look spectacular, but it was mostly just 10 minutes of battle royal brawling followed by Important Post-Match Stuff they could’ve done in the open.

Once again, Daniel Bryan’s got the match won. Roman Reigns tags himself in, hits a spear on the Authority’s weakest member and steals the pin. Bryan takes offense to that and shoves him, so Reigns spears HIM. If you’re building Roman as the world’s biggest butthole, congratulations. If the WrestleMania 31 main-event truly is going to be a triple threat between Bryan, Reigns and Lesnar, the finish needs to be Heyman selling out Lesnar and helping Reigns pin Bryan to escape with the shittiest possible title win. If Lesnar’s not sticking around, you might as well put your golden boy who can’t talk with the best talker ever. It’d be like what they did with Cesaro, but for a guy they actually care about.

Anyway, the big issue for me here is that we could’ve accomplished all of this in the opener, or we could’ve accomplished it all here and spent the first 30 minutes of the show doing something else.

Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Night

The Lunatic

“The WWE Network now has over 1 million subscribers.” — Brian Williams

Harry Longabaugh

Director of Operations Kane has mandated that all intraoffice memos be printed in Times New Roman. It’s a strong font.


What I wouldn’t give for GTV to come back and see Seth Rollins backstage right now.


35 years later…
Stone Cold’s Head in a jar: So Hunter, Seth Rollins. Is he ever going into the Hall of Fame?

Cyborg HHH: Well, you know a kid might not know who Seth is and might Google him on his Google eye and find some pictures. I’m not judging though. Its not like a lifestyle thing.

Taka Michinoclue

I liked Rusev’s promo this week, but “I Will Kick You In The Groin!” had a “Kick You In The Groin”.


You stained the ring with your blood sweat and tears? No wonder CM Punk got a staph infection, Hunter.


As promised, here is Sting:



Little did we know Justin Gabriel was the glue that held everything together.


“You were on the floor the entire match”

C’mon, Daniel, the Royal Rumble was like three weeks ago. Let’s talk about something else.

Thanks everybody. See you next week.