The Best And Worst Of WWE Raw 9/15/14: The Incarceration Of Paul Heyman By The Coward John Cena

Pre-show notes:

– The NXT guys show up on this episode too, right? Right?

– Headline suggestion via Taka Michinoclue.

– If you’d like extended thoughts/grumps about this episode, go watch my appearance on last night’s episode of Straight Shoot. Like most things, it devolves into me breathlessly defending the Vaudevillains.

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Please click through for the Best and Worst of WWE Raw for September 15, 2014.

Worst: John Cena, Hero

I had a big rant prepared here about John Cena being a gross bully who should have the fake WWE cops called on him for assault, false imprisonment and kidnapping, but they wrote it into a later segment. Kind of. So what am I supposed to write about here? The fact that Cena’s still wearing green-ass shoes with red and yellow everything else? Cena wearing black shorts, and how that means he’s definitely turning heel? Maybe I could write a bit about how the “Crow Sting” version of Cena would just be Regular John Cena in plain, black everything.

Here we go: John Cena sucks at math.

One of the first things Cena tells Paul Heyman while he’s got him by the hair is, “seven days ago I gave you 24 hours to produce the beast.” You can see Heyman mouthing along with it, trying to make it make sense. Did Lesnar show up on Smackdown? Cena’s TIRED OF WAITING, so he’s gonna present an option that causes him to wait 90 more minutes. Then he drops his big threat: if Lesnar isn’t at Raw “at halftime,” he’s going to kick Heyman’s ass. A lot of you pointed out that he meant halftime of the Monday Night Football game, and while you’re correct from a programming standpoint, that’s not what Cena said. Watch that clip again. “At halftime, when this show is halfway done.” Dude doesn’t find Heyman to follow up on his threats until the end of hour two.

Cena’s proud to have made a kid do his homework, but he’s never done any himself. Hey John, it’s cool that you know Mandarin and Punjabi. Maybe figure out counting and learn how weeks work?

Worst: Jokes About The Great Khali Are Still Happening In 2014

So yeah, Cena threatens Paul Heyman and slaps him in the face. Heyman tries to leave, so Cena rolls out of the ring, stops him, threatens him MORE, then drags him to the back in a headlock. There, he deposits him in the empty, dedicated John Cena locker room I guess they installed to keep Justin Gabriel from accidentally seeing Cena’s girlfriend again and embarrassing him. Also, the room has a cameraman in it, just lingering? I don’t know. The room doesn’t have any cell phone reception — something Cena would probably know, as it’s his personal locker room and he’s been there all day — so Cena’s not only falsely imprisoning and threatening Heyman, he’s removing all possibility of Heyman following his orders to avoid a beating. Giving someone impossible orders and then punishing them for failing is some totalitarian bullshit, John.

To prevent Heyman from leaving, Cena waves over The Great Khali and makes him stand in front of the door all night, because I guess Khali’s a f*cking paperweight and has nothing better to do. He also throws some of that “I’m using small words and speaking slowly to foreigners or deaf people” tone Khali’s way, but it’s totally fine because Khali’s an 8-foot tall clown at a child’s birthday party.

Later in the show, Heyman tries to make a phone call and Khali breaks his phone. His toy phone. Khali then TRIES TO USE IT, because he’s either the simplest person alive or internally Michigan J. Frog. God, I wanted Heyman to pull out the big Paul E. Dangerously phone and just brain him from behind with it. Redo the Donna Noble vs. Sontaran guard fight.

Worst: Let’s Jump To The Payoff

At first, I loved this payoff. Cena drags Heyman to the ring to catch a beating, and Heyman points out how mauling a defenseless old man who isn’t a physical threat because you didn’t get exactly what you wanted when you wanted it is pretty messed up. Cena’s been a maniacal heel all night, planning out this big scheme where he jumps an old man and drags him around by the underpants to prove a point. Besides, what’s Cena so goddamn angry about? The fact that he lost to Lesnar clean as a whistle and two of his peers didn’t think he could instantly beat Lesnar in a rematch? What’s going on inside your BRAIN, John?

I thought they were going somewhere cool with it. John says that Heyman’s right, and that he’d just planned this crazy mean stuff to lure Lesnar out of hiding. He apologizes for going too far with it and starts to leave. Heyman says something about Cena’s testicles, so Cena rushes back in and literally shoves him out of the ring. When Heyman’s on the ground, Cena takes off his hat and throws it at his head. He is SO FURIOUS ABOUT THE TESTICLES and screams about how Heyman should never talk about his mother, but yeah right dude, you are mad about those balls.

Long story short, the entire point of the show is that Cena beating up Heyman for running his mouth in response to a clean loss would make him corrupt, and it ends with Cena assaulting Heyman for running his mouth. He didn’t force him down onto a table and slap his tits like Triple H did, but he still put his hands on the guy. It’s like Batman spending the entirety of The Dark Knight Rises telling people not to use guns, then flying around Gotham killing people and machine gunning trucks to death with his Bat Plane. “The stakes were high!” Yep, and you should only have a moral code when the stakes are low.

Lesnar showing up, having his German suplex barely sold and then having to dramatically sell for Cena’s fake MMA was pretty embarrassing. If Cena wins at Night Of Champions, I’ll … do what I always do, because that always happens.

Worst: That God-Forsaken WWE Network Commercial

Good to see the All-American Rejects still getting work, I guess.

I seriously had to make a scale with my hands and weigh “a bunch of old Nitro episodes” against “hearing that song again, ever.”

Worst: I’ve Already Forgotten The 20 Minute Match That Started The Show

I originally had the Bo Dallas vs. Jack Swagger match on page one, because by Tuesday morning I’d forgotten the 60-f*cking-minute Broadway between Chris Jericho and Kane. 10 years ago they were feuding over a spilled cup of coffee. Today, Jericho’s beating Kane because “beating Kane” is what you do before matches with Randy Orton.

The match wasn’t bad, but it was incredibly old-fashioned and went on forever. I kinda hate that I didn’t like it, too, because the finish actually made sense. Kane removed the turnbuckle pad because he wanted to do Corporately Demonic things to Jericho, but Jericho avoided it and eventually turned it back around on him to get the win. That’s classic, easy storytelling. A bad guy doing a bad thing, a good guy surviving it and ultimately using it to his advantage. By minute 15 I was wondering what was up with the Popeye’s lady’s Bonafide Big Box.

Not a euphemism.

Worst: So Is This The End Of The Jack Swagger Vs. Bo Dallas Feud?

The problem with last night’s Raw is that I could type, “this happened. It happened.” and that would be all the analysis you need. Nothing to explain, nothing to get excited about, nothing to figure out. “This happened. It happened.” The quick and dirty Raw results probably included too much information.

Jack Swagger wrestled Bo Dallas. Bo’s picked on Swagger since SummerSlam, and Swagger had his Americanness usurped by Mark Henry. They wrestle and Swagger wins with an ankle lock. The crowd chants “we the people.” It happened. This could’ve been Gunner vs. Mr. Anderson. It could’ve been BJ Whitmer vs. Rhett Titus. It could’ve been any wrestling match anywhere. Neither guy’s going anywhere, neither guy’s doing anything. They’re on the show because they’ve been on the show before. Raw’s about filling spots and playing placeholder roles.

Please enjoy this and more soul-crushing points from the Best And Nihilistic Of WWE Raw.

Worst: Why Aren’t You Taking Advantage Of EITHER Of These Divas Feuds?

Running concurrent Diva storylines is a great idea. You’ve got a lot of women on the show, right? You might as well be doing something with them.

Up until now, WWE’s divided its female roster between ‘The Cast Of Total Divas’ (The Bella Twins, Cameron, Naomi, Natalya, Eva Marie, Summer Rae, Rosa Mendes) and ‘everyone else’ (Paige and AJ). Emma doesn’t merit qualification because she’s never wrestling anywhere more important than Superstars again. They had a ‘Total Divas’ story — Nikki and Brie Bella hate each other — and an Everyone Else story. Paige and AJ are friends/enemies/frenemies/possible lovers who are trading championship wins. Fine and dandy. Neither one’s gonna headline Dream Slam, but neither one’s about a boy, so it balances out.

They tried to lace the two stories together, but they don’t have an ending to either, so it jumbled everything up and now nothing makes sense. Paige and AJ are just skipping around holding the Divas Championship and kinda yelling at each other, Brie Bella STILL hasn’t refuted any of the horrible shit Nikki’s been saying about her for a month, and Nikki’s still wrestling in gear with Bella Twins logos all over it. Nobody seems to know what they’re doing, they’re just supposed to go out and do something in the vicinity of one another until Night Of Champions and then maybe a new plot point will roll in.

It’s a shame, because this could’ve been something good. Paige and AJ are both pretty legit, and the Bellas have worked hard to improve their in-ring game over the last year. It could’ve been one of those cool, under-the-radar matches where everyone busts ass and impresses anyone paying attention. Jerks like me would’ve gone on the Internet and typed NO, SERIOUSLY, THESE MATCHES ARE GREAT AND YOU SHOULD WATCH THEM. But nope, it’s the same three minutes of Divas tag garbage Rosa and the Funkadoodles could’ve done. It’s a shame.

Dear Charlotte and Bayley,

Stay on NXT forever. Trust me.




Bray Wyatt’s wrestling The Big Show. Show’s about to win, but OH NO, Luke Harper has jumped in the ring and caused a disqualification. Big Show (the guy who was about to win already) needs to get his heat back instantly, so he chokeslams Harper and Erick Rowan. Bray Wyatt, a character who doesn’t care about wins and losses or causes or history or thought of any kind sits in a rocking chair laughing. Spoiler alert: the scariest thing that will happen to Big Show is “losing to Bray Wyatt because of some bullshit.”

Watching this Raw’s like watching a Drinking Bird peck an empty glass.

Best: A Decent Match, But
Worst: A Finishing Sequence Decided By The Clock

The first thing resembling a passable wrestling match on the show is a six-man tag, pairing The Usos and Sheamus up against Cesaro, Stardust, and Stardust’s brother “Gold.”

The problem is that it wasn’t a match: it was a time-killer. Cena’s thing with Brock Lesnar had to happen at Monday Night Football’s halftime, but football doesn’t work on a pre-determined schedule full of fried chicken commercials so they didn’t know exactly when that’d be. So they have a bunch of filler matches and stretch them out as far as they’ll go to make the timing work. Watch this match again. These guys do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING, and then when halftime’s about to happen they hurry up and do the “exciting finish.” The exciting finish we’ve seen in at least 60% of Usos six-man tags. One Uso hits a splash, the other dives to the outside. There’s no rising action. No heat. Just boredom, then DO SOME FINISHES GO GO GO.

It’s a shame, because on paper this should be really rad. I am making the angriest faces at this show.

Let’s Ask The WWE Universe What They Thought About This Match:

Even THESE guys can’t pay attention to Raw tonight.

Worst: Naomi Vs. Cameron

Worst is generous.

I haven’t seen a match this bad in a while. Let me put it this way: I’m recapping NXT season 3 and I haven’t seen a match this bad in a while. Cameron should be fired for this. That’s not even a joke. She’s not ready for this role and clearly doesn’t understand even the BASICS of what make a wrestling match work. Watch her tap out to Naomi’s submission finisher before she’s even got it locked in. Watch her do the Christy Hemme Memorial Split-Drop and try to pin Naomi’s back.

Kamala the Ugandan Giant was a worked savage who supposedly came from the darkest part of the jungle and they showed “Kamala doesn’t understand complex wrestling match rules” by having him pin peoples’ backs and not understand. CAMERON IS SHOOT KAMALA. GIANT BYE.

Worst: The Accidental Racist

And then, Seth Rollins cut a promo about how Roman Reigns was a gorilla. Cue LL Cool J.

Seth’s promo wasn’t racist, but oh man, it was so close. He’s like, “Roman Reigns is a gorilla. He drags his knuckles, because he’s a Neanderthal. He doesn’t want to WORK! He’s lazy and collects welfare. He needs to pull his pants up. Like, uh, a rhinoceros!” The rhino was the best part. It was either a “whoops, gotta de-racist this for a second” improv or a measured attempt at getting as close to an offensive promo as possible. Next week Seth should say Roman’s got a hard head and loves to climb trees to pull down coconuts because he’s a mindless savage, like a GIRAFFE.

Best: Damien Sandow, Still

1. Booker T’s looking pretty good.

2. This is one of those matches that’d be great on NXT, but fails on Raw. The reason? The announce team. Those guys just don’t know how to comfortably roll with a joke. They either whiff it completely and tear it down, or they go TOO far with it, turn into chucklemonsters and bury the entire thing. Listen to them during this match. All that “I can’t tell them apart” stuff should’ve been handled in the first minute, but AFTER THE FINISH they’re still yammering on about it. The joke should enhance the match, not overwhelm it. Ziggler and Miz are doing some solid work down here in the bowels of creativity, the least you could do is relax and help them out.

3. Sandow still rules. Here he is selling a Zig Zag he didn’t take after the pinfall:


Let’s Ask The WWE Universe What they Thought About THIS Match

“You got that from Bleacher Report.”

Best/Worst: Don’t Buy Night Of Champions, It’s Fine

At Night Of Champions, Roman Reigns faces Seth Rollins. But Roman “doesn’t want to wait until Night Of Champions,” so they wrestle on Raw. Roman wins clean with a spear. But hey, tune in to Night Of Champions to see Roman Reigns vs. Seth Rollins, because I guess “not wanting to wait” means “we’ll just do it multiple times.”

The sad thing is that Seth and Roman could probably have a great singles match. Seth kinda forces Roman to be more dynamic and snappy than a guy like Orton, and he’s willing to sell ANYTHING to the point of implosion. He doesn’t get a pin early in the match and is already clutching his fists to his stomach, throwing his head back and screaming “NOOOOO!” He’s giving Roman 10 feet of room to work at all times and leading him through everything. He will make this dude look as good as Dean Ambrose OR HE WILL DIE TRYING.

I’m not sure what doing this on Raw accomplishes. I’m not gonna get upset that it was “given away for free,” because hell, they’ve already got my WWE Network commitment. I have to watch their match at Night Of Champions whether I want to or not. And maybe nobody’s going to sign up for the Network for Night Of Champions undercard matches anyway, but they could’ve added some stipulations or intrigue or context or SOMETHING besides “Roman wants to do it now, then again later for some reason.” They’re so damn lazy they want to do pay-per-view rematches on Raw before the pay-per-view.

Worst: Like Konnan And Disco Inferno Suddenly Main-Eventing Nitro

Like Konnan and Disco Inferno put their butts together and tried to fart each other out of the ring in the main event of Nitro.

Raw forgot the “Mark Henry rallies America” segment they’d been advertising all night, so after the main event they bring out Mark for a segment that should’ve been fast-forwarded through in the middle of hour two of literally any other Raw. I’m saying this as someone who loves Mark Henry, Rusev and Lana. I love cornball USA vs. Russia angles in 2014. This was cold boogers on a paper plate.

Mark Henry tires to say he loves America, which we already know. The crowd “what’s” him, because they are BORED AS SHIT and desperate to feel something, anything. The crowd’s about five seconds away from cutting themselves just to see how much it bleeds. Henry starts putting his arm around people and assuring them that no, he actually LOVES America, which WE ALREADY KNOW. Lana shows up and calmly presents Mark with some facts about how yeah, he was in the Olympics, but he didn’t do very well. Russian guys did better. The announce team keeps going HOW CAN YOU STAND THIS, MARK, GO DOWN THERE AND PUNCH HER, PUNCH HER IN THE HEART FOR SAYING THOSE MEAN WORDS TO YOU. This goes on for … I want to say 40 minutes? 40 minutes of overrun? Then Rusev storms the ring and a fight breaks out.

Henry escaping the Accolade (and hitting a SKY HIGH, which I’m counting as a tribute to his former tag team partner D’Lo Brown) was exciting, but much like Roman vs. Seth, an exciting thing that probably should’ve happened at Night Of Champions. Why give that away here? That’s basically the only selling point of Henry vs. Rusev, especially if Rusev wins.

Anyway, the next segment is Heath Slater and Adam Rose’s bunny getting into a … wait, is that really the end of the show?

Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Week

Sammy Davis Jr.

72 hours until NXT people

Twinkie The Kid

I Googled “Christian Peep Show” and none of my 1,430,000 results had anything to do with wrestling. I’ve seen some things.


Ratings Bye


Brock: “Peace has cost you your strength! Victory has defeated you! You fight like a younger man, with nothing held back. Admirable but mistaken.”

Jonathan Dye

your rebels’ll find my Brock lesnar is fully operational.


Cena is outsourcing his job to India.


Jericho’s got a new finisher, Chekhov’s Turnbuckle.


Brock: “I don’t care who you are. I don’t care what you want. If you are looking for ransom, I can tell you I have a lot of money. And I also have a very particular set of skills, skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you let my advocate go now, that’ll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don’t, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will end you.”

Khali: “….huh? Who is this?”

Harry Longabaugh

Cena doesn’t comprehend hours and minutes because every number on his watch was replaced with the word “NOW.”


Brock! I’m trapped in a closet!
I could get out, but Khali blocks it!
Cena put me in here because he wants you.
But if you don’t show up, he’ll take it out on your Jew!
I’m trying to get out, I know you’re stuck in the aiiiir.
This I told Cena, but he don’t caaaaare
I know there’s no reception but I’m alllllll alone
And so I keep on ringing ringing your telephooooone
If you don’t show up by 9, I’m gonna be gone!
I think I saw a midget, no it’s just a leprechauuuun!

Thanks, everybody. See you this weekend for Night Of Champions, or at Chikara’s King of Trios, if you’re cool.

One more time, here’s me getting all head-shaky about this episode on Straight Shoot.