– Yes, that is a Hubble telescope IMAX joke.
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And now, here’s the Best and Worst of WWE Raw for August 31, 2015.
Worst: What Are We Even Doing
Out of all the times I’ve said this, last night may have been the most “Poochie” Triple H has ever been. Whenever Poochie’s not on screen, all the other characters should be asking, “Where’s Poochie?”
The show opens with Sting, a legitimate wrestling legend who has only been on Raw a handful of times, speaking candidly about how much respects Triple H for shaking his hand after Triple H beat him at WrestleMania. He mentions that Seth Rollins isn’t half the man that Triple H is. Keep in mind that Sting’s supposed to be this avatar of wrestling justice or whatever and only appeared in WWE in the first place to dismantle The Authority and remove Triple H from power. This promo is followed by a backstage bit where Stephanie McMahon also reminds Seth Rollins that he isn’t half the man Triple H is. In the main-event segment, Seth mentions that he didn’t have a problem with Sting until last week — again, Sting, the man who is ostensibly only here to take down The Authority, which Rollins represents — and gets interrupted by Stephanie, so that she may once again tell him he’s not as great as Triple H, and should stop talking about Triple H or else Triple H. John Cena even shows up and agrees with her that Seth is a cowardly idiot who wouldn’t be anything if The Authority hadn’t made it so.
So here’s where we stand. The guy holding the top two championships in your company is a total loser, the guy challenging him is 0-1 lifetime in WWE and obsessed with putting over the guy that beat him, and an off-screen general manager character who isn’t on the card is the only one getting over. Both John Cena and Sting agree with The Authority, and the only person actually feuding with the evil authority characters is Seth Rollins, the hand-selected champion of The Authority. The one who is only currently champion because a non-wrestling, non-Authority, babyface comedian who hates him interfered on his behalf.
Yeah man, I don’t know either.
Worst: Upskirt Catfights, And The Worst Reason Ever To Be Mad At Your Boyfriend
There’s so much to talk about here, and I’m so sorry.
Okay, so, Rusev and Dolph Ziggler have another match. If you missed this week’s leaked Raw script, it said, “do SummerSlam again, nobody will notice, it’s fine.” The match isn’t much — I don’t think Ziggler and Rusev will ever have another match as good as the one they had with zero consequence or story on NXT — and ends like you’d expect, with Ziggler having Rusev beaten and Summer Rae interfering to cause a DQ. To their credit, they at least have the heels acting like heels again, and Lana isn’t just randomly attacking folks from behind. Lana spears Summer to the mat and takes her to Upskirt City. The carousel goes round and round.
Anyway, Ziggler and Lana are standing around backstage aimlessly giggling at one another, which is the way they’ve decided to show “love,” and Renee interviews them. When it’s over, Ziggler “hits the showers,” and we hold on Renee long enough to see Summer Rae creep into his dressing room. Later, Richie Brennan is back there with Ryback, and they’re interrupted by Summer running away and Ziggler making Michael Jackson emphasis noises to show is displeasure. Note: Ziggler’s in a towel here, and we learn that he seriously only spray-tans his chest:
He looks like the Coppertone baby.
Despite us all assuming this leads to Dolph and Summer hooking up (as we have since this angle started), Dolph’s explanation is the one we saw. Summer Rae snuck into his locker room while he was showering, creeped on him while he was naked, then bolted. Summer says Dolph lured her into the room and seduced her, but for real, we watched her Scooby-Doo sneak past Renee in the background.
Regardless, it all leads to Lana getting mad at him for being sexually harassed in his own locker room. Seriously. Jump to the 1:25 mark.
I feel like we missed a few segments, but we pick back up with Dolph knowing Lana is upset about what happened. “She saw you coming out of the shower naked? How do you think that makes me feel?” His response should’ve been, “I don’t know, mad at Summer Rae?” I give Lana’s babyface character a lot of grief as a kind of running joke in these columns, but honestly, she’s pissed at this dude for showering in the nude and being victimized. How awful is she? “She” meaning the kayfabe, TV version of her we see, just for clarification. The Lana character has got to be the most morally bankrupt and emotionally illogical character they’ve created in a while, and I can’t believe they sunk her this hard and this fast.
Honestly, the only ending to this story that makes sense is the reveal that Summer and Dolph HAVE been hooking up on the low, orchestrated that followup of him mad at her running away because they realized the cameras caught her sneaking in, and are terrible human beings who went in to manipulate and ruin Rusev and Lana because they were too powerful. Then you have Lana and Rusev put aside their difference and work together again to crush Dolph and Summer, but realize that their relationship is too broken to be close, and agree to an equal partnership. Rusev won’t tell Lana what to do, Lana will be her own person without dumping her identity crisis on another boy, and they’ll crush some undercard motherf*ckers.
Dolph and Summer can get tossed into the sun, which will only tan Dolph’s upper front.
Worst: Please Don’t Tell Me I’m Gonna Complain About This Entire Episode
This week’s Hashtag Divas Revolution content is one of WWE’s worst ideas: the “Beat the Clock Challenge,” a series of matches where the person who wins with the fastest time wins a thing. This week’s thing is a shot at the Divas Championship at Night Of Champions, which has a sense of urgency grafted onto it thanks to Nikki Bella’s “Bellatron.” That’s a video screen counting down to Nikki’s reign becoming the longest in Divas Championship history. It also runs out 6 days before Night of Champions, so unless Nikki’s losing the belt on the go-home Raw, there isn’t really a point to it. Also, it’s nowhere near as cool as the Honk-A-Meter.
The first match is Becky Lynch vs. Alicia Fox, and it’s over in 3:21. Per the crummiest part of the Beat the Clock Challenge, now every other match is guaranteed to be 3:21 or less. That not only gives you almost no time to put together a match, it kills the drama of every match going forward, because you have a defined end time and really have no reason to get excited until the final one. That’s the only match of consequence. Hope you like staring at a timer on a big screen!
As you might expect, this makes all the Divas matches feel like “classic” Divas matches. The matches are singles matches (which is good) and have a reason to be happening (also good), but they’re short little spurts of nothing. WWE can’t seem to find the happy middle-point between “short, bad matches with characters and stories” and “longer, better matches with no characters or stories.” It’s not one or the other, guys. If the crowd chants “boring” during one match that was too long and didn’t have a reason to happen, the answer isn’t 100 seconds of badly performed story. Why’s it gotta be so f*cking bipolar?
After Becky beats Foxy, Charlotte gets the layup against Brie Bella. She wins quickly, and nobody’s excited. Like, look at the crowd. That’s not the reaction you want from something that lives or dies based on how a crowd reacts to a ticking clock. Even the other Divas at ringside just kinda shrug, and are like, “that’s it?” Nikki Bella’s reaction is the most telling. “Welp, wrestling just happened.”
If you’re wondering where Team B.A.D. is, they’re in the back participating in the Hold Your Tongue Challenge. Cole tries to explain why Beat the Clock is just PCB vs. Bella Folk, mentioning that Stephanie McMahon said the SummerSlam match was important, and since PCB won that, they’re getting the focus on Raw. He takes about a minute to say it and sounds like he’s reading ingredients off the back of a bag of chips, so it comes across like somebody in his ear going, “whoops, we forget about them, say something.”
The stage is set for Paige vs. Sasha Banks, which will be less than 2 minutes long, max. GET HYPE.
And yeah, you can’t do anything in a minute-40. You can’t build drama or establish any urgency, because there’s no way Paige or Banks should be losing to anyone this quickly for any reason. It might’ve been fun if they’d spent the whole time going for distraction rollups, but nope, it’s just Paige hitting her finish on Sasha about a minute in and Sasha getting dragged to the outside by her teammates. It’s not a disqualification for them to break up a pin, because shut up and stop noticing things.
Sasha doesn’t get pinned in a minute-40, but she does LOSE in a minute-40, which makes me do a Paddington Bear “hard stare” at my television. Charlotte will face Nikki Bella at Night Of Champions, and I assume the next 3 weeks of WWE TV will be built around the babyfaces being jealous and undermining one another because WOMEN ARE CRAZY AND CAN’T GET ALONG. Team B.A.D. will be there to quietly lose, and maybe go into therapy, where they’ll learn how to focus their anger and disappointment into a rhythmic clap.
There’s also a post-match interview with Nikki Bella that she doesn’t care about Charlotte’s victory, because (1) she’s going to be the longest-reigning Divas Champion in history no matter what, because she doesn’t have to defend until after the countdown’s over, (2) she isn’t worried about even her top opponents and there’s no hint that she’s being insincere, which means there’s no emotional connection to her winning or losing, and (3) she’s already said wins and losses don’t matter, so why does anything matter?
I don’t like Paige saying the Bellas should be replaced by “real athletes,” because the Bellas are real athletes. They’re legitimate pro wrestlers, love them or hate them. They’ve been in here plying their trade for a while now, and they do what WWE’s wanted women to do for a decade. Plus, you know, the idea that stereotypically “feminine” women can’t be athletes is as ass-backwards as “women can’t be athletes.” At the same time, somebody needs to pull the f*cking Bellas aside and say, “the things you’re doing and saying don’t make the Divas Revolution fail, they make pro wrestling fail.” If you’ve created a fictional reality, you can’t say “none of this matters” and give no indication that you’re listening to an unreliable narrator and expect anyone playing in that reality to care or matter. Bottom line. What the Bellas do in the ring is beside the point. What they’re doing on the microphone and in the performance of their characters is what’s eroding the process. From the heel-to-face-to-heel turns every week to these direct statements of pointlessness, they’re preventing women’s wrestling in WWE from having a foundation. They’re preventing it from having a backbone.
That is what you should be giving the Bellas sh*t for.
Worst: You Liked Something Though, Right? STOP BEING LIKE THIS.
In the next instance of, “do SummerSlam again, shut up, it’s fine,” Ryback defends the Intercontinental Championship against The Big Show with The Miz on color commentary. Miz provides a distraction, allowing Ryback to hit Shell Shocked and get the win. Yes, the Ryback vs. Miz vs. Show feud rolls on. Yes, a week after being part of a 4-on-1 babyface attack on an already attacked heel after a match the faces won, Ryback’s out here using interference from a heel to win his match. Maybe I’m missing the point of wrestling. Maybe there’s a plaque hanging over the door of the WWE Writers room that says REMEMBER: EVERYBODY’S AWFUL, and they slap it whenever they leave.
A supplemental Best to Lilian Garcia, though. Jump to the 2:16 mark in the video, listen to her almost announce Big Show as the winner of the match and consequently call Ryback by his proper name, “The Ryback.”
Best: Things To Like!
I know it makes me sound like the smarkiest smark that ever smarked by disliking most of the show and then being all, “KEVIN OWENS VS. CESARO WAS GREAT,” but I’ve been in that hole for a long time, so here goes. Kevin Owens vs. Cesaro was great!
The finish was so good it felt like it’d been flown in from another, better wrestling show. Late in the match, Owens knocks Cesaro off the ring apron, and Cesaro goes flying ribs-first into the announce table. Later, when Cesaro looks to have the match won, he tries to turn Owens for the Sharpshooter, but his ribs give out. Owens capitalizes by kicking him IN the ribs — a dick move for sure, but an absolutely smart and fair one, which is how the best heels should operate — and pop-up powerbombing him for the win.
Owens gets to look strong by beating a top-shelf, popular opponent, and by doing so with fair, smart, jerky wrestling. Cesaro probably shouldn’t be losing every week, but he’s so damn good he can take a few losses to a guy like Owens and be fine. It’s hard to believe him as a Daniel Bryan-esque underdog when he’s 6-foot-5 and faster, stronger and more agile than everybody else, but whatever, that superhuman sh*t also makes him instantly believable after, say, a year of slumming it.
On top of all of it, I just love wrestling that makes sense. If a guy’s gotta lose, give me a reason other than “he got hit with a finishing move.” I’m not playing a video game, I’m watching ridiculous, pretend sports. Give me something tangible I can talk about later. He hurt his ribs, so the mean guy booted him in the ribs and threw him down on his ribs. He lost. Makes sense, right? Isn’t that better than, “he was fine, and then a guy grabbed him by the head and sat down, and suddenly he was dead?”
Best: SHEEP SWENSON
I’m not totally sure I can take Braun Strowman seriously when he looks like Samwell Tarly possessed the monster body of Ogre from Revenge Of The Nerds and started dressing like a sheep on safari, but I love that WWE has a new, mysterious, unstoppable monster. In a perfect world, the Wyatt Family would get a full Munsters crew. Give me Sister Abigail as a person, bring back the spooky singing kid who beat John Cena as their ghost nephew or whatever, maybe give them a mean grandpa. What’s Kevin Sullivan up to these days? Can we dress him like a vampire and make him drive around in hot rods?
The idea that Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose will realize they can’t take on the Wyatts on an even playing field anymore and finally enlist a new third guy to reform The Shield is such a f*cking gimme I can’t believe they haven’t already done it. You guys are BEST BROTHERS who were most effective as a trio of swat dogs, why haven’t you put a flak jacket on Baron Corbin or whoever and put some version of the band back together? There are so many guys in NXT who could be straight-up saved by that. Plus, you give Seth Rollins another reason to act like an a-hole. That first Triple Powerbomb on Strowman would be magic.
As for Braun, there’s also the lingering worry that eventually we’ll see him flailing around helplessly in an STF while John Cena makes goofy faces, but let’s enjoy it while we can.
Best: Save The Tables
You don’t need me to tell you that The New Day was the best part of the show, but they’re out there getting heat off multiplication tables. Xavier Woods has straightened his hair JUST so he can comb it and make fun of D-Von for being bald, and they’re for real suggesting that if the Dudleys are allowed to keep putting people through tables, the world will not have elements anymore because elements go on a periodic table. Then, they bring out a table covered in bubble wrap.
New Day rocks. Everybody else is booty.
Best: Now I Want To See The Dudleys 3-D Somebody Through The Noble Gases
The crowd’s pretty dead in the water for anything other than the promise of table spots at this point, but the Dudleys and the New Day have a fun match. I don’t think I would’ve had the tag champions get pinned cleanly and easily to set up a match for the tag titles on a different show, but what do I know? This was played up as the Dudleys’ first match on Raw in 10 years, and I want a sit-down interview where they kayfabe explain where they’ve been. “We realized our wrestling careers were over, so we moved back in with our parents in Dudleyville and opened a store that sells overalls. Also, we went to Japan to wrestle once, but spent the entire show trying to get work in a different Japanese promotion.”
Worst: A WILD JOHN CENA APPEARED
I covered most of this in the open, but John Cena’s starting to feel like Mister Mxyzptlk. Dude just randomly appears when you’re doing something more important and is like, “PAY ATTENTION TO ME, I CONTROL YOUR REALITY, ALL I SAY IS BEST.” Cena’s out here to announce that he wants a rematch for the United States Championship at Night Of Champions, and Seth Rollins has to act super shocked by it, as if he thought he just forever-owned the belts and wouldn’t have to defend them. Maybe he’s been watching the Divas Revolution, or maybe his only frame of reference for defending the United States Championship is Dean Ambrose. Cena puts over The Authority for doing what’s “best for business,” when his previous point is that they didn’t do that, they did what was best for themselves. WWE’s like the damn Men in Black if they didn’t have neuralyzers and just pretended like everybody forgot they saw aliens.
Anyway, am I alone in wishing somebody would just give Seth Rollins his statue? He’s a whiny butthole, sure, but The Authority told him they’d give him a statue if he won both titles. He won both, so they made him a statue. It’s his. If you steal it or deface it or whatever, aren’t you the jerk? Why is so much of modern wrestling built around sore-sport reactions to assholes succeeding? Why do faces always have to drop steel beams on buses, or throw buckets of paint on racecars, or kidnap statues? I know I’m yelling BE DECENT at an aquarium full of piranhas, but damn, he’s had a hard week. He found out his girlfriend was a Nazi, and now he’s gotta deflect a know-it-all monster 5-year old and retrieve his goods from an ancient, teleporting mime?
Rollins is gonna beat Sting at Night Of Champions but lose to Cena, so Cena can be better than the champion and double better than Sting, right?
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Week
You know it’s gonna be a bad Raw when even a Tropical Storm is skipping it
Sting: Deal’s still on, right? You beat me at Mania, I win the title later on?
HHH: Yep. Well… just one more stipulation. Need you to go out there and read this promo I wrote
Wes Craven may have passed away, but Team Bella is here to ensure that the horror never ends.
I. AM. BELLATRON. I WAS NEVER PROGRAMMED TO HEEL.
Mr. Royal Rumble, TheCensoredMSol
Wait, this looks familiar. Wasn’t Beat the Clock what the Divas were doing for the past five years?
Big Show isn’t half the giant Hunter is.
I would imagine the black sheep of the Wyatt family would be well groomed, well dressed, and work at a bank or something
“This is a very special table. It belonged to a man named Chekov”
The Real Birdman
Xavier looks like he should be hosting this years Player Haters Ball
“Your statue isn’t really a statue until it beats me, jack!”
Thanks for reading, everybody. See you next week.