The Best And Worst Of WWE Raw 9/8/14: What Can I Say, It’s The Season Premiere

Pre-show notes:

– Relevant: read our Best and Worst of NXT column. We recap the new episode every Friday and an old game show version episode on Wednesdays. This week we’re doing a live thread, results and a Best and Worst of NXT Takeover, so be here for that.

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Please click through for the Best and Worst of WWE Raw for September 8, 2014.


This week’s Raw begins with a 43-year old man who’d rather be somewhere buying scarves and vests and listening to Loverboy’s ‘Lovin’ Every Minute of It’ with his 40-something friends in their Muppets-joke glam rock band JUMPING OFF A GODDAMN CAGE. I give Jericho a lot of grief for not being the performer he once was, but man, nothing but love for a guy who doesn’t need to throw his body in the garbage like that to get over throwing it anyway.

It also created one of my favorite, under-the-radar WWE tropes: the stupid babyface daredevil move that costs them the match. Jericho dove off the cage and tweaked his knee, which ultimately gave Bray Wyatt the advantage he needed to win the match. One of the best examples is the Hardys vs. Dudleys cage match where Matt had escaped and Jeff was on his way over, but decided to stop, pose for the crowd and Swanton BACK into the ring ONTO NOBODY trying to put a Dudley through a table. WWE’s good guys are often these infantile, half-grown men who live off the frontal lobes of their brain and are shocked by bright sounds and colors. They’re fueled by vague things like “glory” and a “WrestleMania moment” and can’t pass up a spot in a highlight reel to, say, win a match and preserve their well-being. Wrestling fans want to live vicariously through these guys because they’re the ones living life instantaneously, performing big, memorable things at every opportunity. I get great joy out of watching these people crash and burn. Give me the guy who rolls off the table and calmly escapes the cage any day of the week.

Worst: Enough With The Bray Wyatt Cage Matches

I know there’ve only been like two, but they have the same problems: the Bray Wyatt character makes no sense in cage matches.

It’d be one thing if it was a regular match with a cage surrounding it. Then you could rationalize that Bray’s sadistic and wants to deliver as much punishment to his opponent as possible, or you say the good guy’s arranged it to keep the other members of the Wyatt Family out of the ring. Either one works. Instead, you’ve got Bray acting boastful and confident about “trapping” Jericho in a cage, then IMMEDIATELY rushing to the door trying to flee it. You build up the drama that Bray wants to win the match (for some reason), then having him crab walk toward the door instead of standing up and moving quickly. Does he want theatrics, or does he want to win? Is he trying to be dangerous and creepy, or a successful pro wrestler? Why’d he try so hard to escape if the point was to get Jericho IN A CAGE BY THEMSELVES and Sister Abigail him? Couldn’t he have done that at any point?

If you try to do too much of this at once, Bray just looks stupid. The argument of whether he’s a monster heel or a conniving madman is irrelevant. He’s just a goober who won one cage match via mysterious singing child actor, and the other via hurried rolling.

Worst: WWE Doesn’t Understand ‘The Fappening’

Hey WWE: when a guy steals a bunch of naked celebrity photos from peoples’ phones and posts them on the Internet, the heel is the guy who stole a bunch of naked celebrity photos from peoples’ phones and posted them on the Internet. Not the people IN the photos.

In case you missed this part of the show, Dolph Ziggler revealed that while he doesn’t condone stealing peoples’ private photos and sharing them publicly, he’s totally stolen Miz’s private photos and will be sharing them publicly. Via TitanTron. The crowd … kinda cheers? It turns out the photos are of The Miz doing things literally every wrestler who isn’t Sami Zayn does on the regular: taking care of himself, shaving off his body hair and tanning. Keep in mind that Dolph Ziggler is hairless, tan as shit and constantly brags about how good he looks. Supplementary Best for these being actual photos of The Miz and not photoshops.

Long story short and hurdling tons and tons of concerning social inferences, the pot used Reddit to call the kettle black. I think it was on /r/hypocrisy.

Best: Damien Sandow, Though

Three things I liked about ‘The Crappening’:

1. JBL astutely asking who’s taking the photos. I guess the joke is that it was Sandow, but he appears in the last one, so assuming he didn’t set a timer on a camera to get the perfect ass-tanning shot, it was Maryse. As a reminder, any feminine/prissy/gay/whatever heat Miz gets is immediately negated by Maryse. Dude is married to MARYSE. Miz wins.

2. Damien Sandow is SO GOOD here. First of all, he’s not just tanning Miz’s bare ass there, he’s tanning Miz’s bare ass while wearing full Miz gear, sunglasses and ice cream Snuggie jacket. ALL MIZ EVERYTHING. Secondly, watch him walk alongside Miz and mimic his gestures. It’s delightful. I don’t know if Sandow will ever rise up higher than New Santino between now and retirement, but dammit, he’s good at what he does.

3. Ziggler throwing a dropkick while wearing the Intercontinental Championship is the coolest thing he’s done in like a year and a half.

Worst: We’re Gonna Starve To Death Waiting For Rosa Mendes To Bump

The next match is your WATCH TOTAL DIVAS special, featuring the new maybe-gay tag team of Natalya and Rosa Mendes (proposed team name: Hoser Mendes) against the also-maybe-gay tag team of Paige and AJ Lee. It was what you’d expect.

Rosa Mendes is just the dirt worst. I liked her when she managed Primo and Epico and her role was limited to “shimmy on the apron” and “yell Spanish 1 vocab words,” but she should never, ever be allowed in a ring. She does everything imaginable to avoid bumping. Watch her … Paige will punch her in the face and she’ll just turn, clutch her face, kneel and fall over to the side. Lots of desperate crawling into the corner. She bumps a couple of times, but she’s clearly terrified to do so. She gets held up in a bodyslam forever, as if her opponent’s going “you ready? TUCK YOUR CHIN, you ready? ROSA, TUCK YOUR CHIN.”

Rosa and Eva Marie are … how should I put this? Eva Marie is Jesse from A Nightmare On Elm Street 2, and Rosa is the Freddy Krueger that bursts from her chest.

Worst: Let’s Ask The WWE Universe What They Thought Of The Divas Tag Team Match

uh, what

Best: Paul Heyman Makes A Better Argument For Embracing The Hate Than Kane Ever Did

Paul Heyman scrunching up his face and yelling CENA SUCKS CENA SUCKS CENA SUCKS CENA SUCKS CENA SUCKS CENA SUCKS CENA SUCKS CENA SUCKS is what my brain looks like.

After last week’s ducksnort, this was a home run off the scoreboard. The talking point is that Cena’s outmoded and not savage enough to withstand Hundred Percent Brock. The only way he stands a chance is if he FINALLY stops farting around, ditches the wristbands and the t-shirts, tells the fans who chant “Cena sucks” to shut up and embrace all the rage and power he has in his guts. He and Lesnar are the same, in a way … guys born stronger and tougher than most, compelled by things like “ruthless aggression.” So why’s Cena suddenly afraid of aggression that isn’t pinpoint-focused on his immediate task? Why can’t he occasionally tell a dork to shut his pie-hole and toss a John Cena brand ballcap at his head so hard it knocks him down?

It’s the same thing Kane was trying to do back in the “Eve Torres is a slut for letting me save her” dark ages of January 2012. Kane tried to do it via kidnapping, friendly acquaintance crippling, ruined relationships and pillars of literal Christian hellfire. Heyman’s doing it by saying, “damn, dude, what’s wrong with you? Get your shit together.”

Worst: John Cena, Worst Person In The World

Cena’s response, of course, is the dorkiest thing in the world.

It works on paper. The gist is that Cena doesn’t change because he likes who he is. He feels he’s made a difference in the community and has been extremely successful as a performer. It’s true. The guy’s a 15-time champion and gets Make-A-Wish’d all the time. He spent the last year on a cereal box and just got two legit, non-WWE Studios movie roles. He’s fine, and probably doesn’t need to make any radical changes to beat Lesnar. He just needs to not run at him immediately and get F-5’d like an idiot this time.

In practice, holy shit is John Cena the worst. He tells Heyman that he’s proud to have made a child do their homework. He’s proud that the people who boo him might come up to him later and tell him he sucks, but that he’s also done some okay things. THIS IS JOHN CENA’S MESSAGE. That he LOVES HOMEWORK. He also directly states that he’s better than The Undertaker … not only that, he’s better than the Undertaker at WrestleMania. And he is beloved by Make-A-Wish children and wounded soldiers. He grants dying wishes and takes peoples’ Purple Hearts. Is it weird that the people who love John Cena most are the ones on the brink of death?

Cena threatens Heyman to end the dialogue, bringing the concept that he’s secretly FULL OF RAGE full circle. He’s so, so afraid of being disliked. If he tells a guy to shut up, he might lose the impressionable fans who think he’s a precious angel, and then what would he have? He does nothing but THIS. He’s not just a robot fulfilling WWE obligations, he is 100% defined by how he “seems” in the ring. His wrestling clothes are his street clothes, and vice versa. If he lost the kids and the troops, what would he be? Would he be anything? People always make fun of him for rapping, but that album’s almost 10 years old. Under the image, is he just Chuck Palumbo?

Worst: Sheamus Totally Rosa Mendeses The Curb Stomp

Sheamus vs. Seth Rollins should be an AMAZING match, shouldn’t it?

Instead, it was a collection of all the things you’re tired of reading me complain about in these columns. A distraction finish. A champion losing a non-title match to set up a championship match to somebody else. Racism, probably. I’m working on that one. But yeah, no, Cesaro distracts Sheamus by standing up and holding the United States Championship. Hasn’t he been doing this for weeks? What’s the worst thing he’s done to it, Sheamus, toss it in your face? He’s not going to destroy it. If he ruins it or steals it, you can take it up with management and get a new one. You’ve already got a match against him. Pay attention and win the one you’re in now.

The very worst part is the finish. Here’s a picture of Seth Rollins Curb-Stomping Sheamus. See if you can figure out what’s missing:

If you said “Seth Rollins,” congratulations. Look how far away Seth’s foot is by the time Sheamus remembers he’s supposed to be taking a move. The physics of a Curb Stomp are Seth jumping up, putting his foot on the back of your head and forcing your face into the ground with it. Here, Seth jumps, gently touches the back of Sheamus’s head with his foot and pushes off diagonally. Sheamus just stays bent over there like he’s looking for a contact lens and then suddenly OH MY GOD falls down. Horrible. Like watching Wile E. Coyote slowly realize he’s falling off a cliff.

Worst: Of All The Charlie Browns In The World, Jerry Lawler Is The Charlie Brownest

Rusev and Lana show up, make fun of the Star-Spangled Banner and play the Russian national anthem. JBL, a man who once goose-stepped during a match in Germany, thinks this is disgustingly offensive to our nation. In his funniest moment since “Hey Punk, I’ll THINK ABOUT IT,” Jerry Lawler attempts to do the opposite of standing by sitting on the floor. So we end up with two total pricks huffing and puffing while an upset 64-year old pouts like he’s being forced to eat his brussels sprouts.

Next week, Lana should perform Three 6 Mafia’s ‘Some Bodies Gonna Get It.’

Best: Slater Gator Vs. The Bunny, The Battle Continues

Seriously, if the Night Of Champions kick-off match isn’t Heath Slater vs. Adam Rose’s bunny, WWE has no idea what they’re doing.

It’s the most compelling feud on the show. Last week, Slater thought he could push the bunny around and get away with it. The bunny double-legged him and beat his ass. This week, the bunny busts out a SUPERKICK, then splashes Titus O’Neil off the top rope. I think I speak for everyone when I say the Adam Rose bunny is far more interesting than Adam Rose, and I hope the trend of him suddenly debuting badass wrestling moves continues. Next week I want Titus to get in the bunny’s face and get hit with LAST FALCONRY. Dodge a Heath Slater leg sweep with a backflip, pop him in the back of the head with a rolling back chop and throw him backwards with a half-nelson suplex.

I’ve had a lot of people tweeting me to ask me about the bunny’s identity, and I honestly hope they never reveal it. He’s a bunny. The person in the suit should be the innards of a rabbit. If I HAD to reveal him as someone, it’d be Justin Gabriel. Some long con to revive the Slater/Gabriel relationship. Or hell, have him revealed backstage as Hornswoggle and never explain why he’s six feet tall with the suit on.

Best: Look Everyone, It’s TYLER

Me right now:

I wasn’t really paying attention before the break. I saw they were advertising NXT Takeover and thought, “cool, they’re mentioning it on Raw. It’s about time!” Commercials happen and the most interesting thing to happen in the last 20 minutes is Jerry Lawler on the floor, so I’m milling around my living room and checking my phone. Out of the corner of my ear I hear Sami Zayn’s music. I swear to God, it was like I was Rick watching Ilsa walk into the Café Américain.

As regular readers may know, NXT is my favorite thing in the world. Seeing these guys as fake cops on Raw would’ve made me lose my mind. Seeing them wrestling? Seeing them wrestle EACH OTHER? Seeing them wrestle each other while the announce team works hard to put them all over and promote the upcoming NXT special? Am I dead? Did I die? Is this some kind of What Dreams May Come situation where my daughter has taken the form of professional wrestling because she wanted to look like the most beautiful thing she’d ever seen?

Breathe, Brandon.

This was so good. So good. It wasn’t the match you’d see from them on NXT, but it wasn’t supposed to be; it was the perfect way to tease them to a large audience without leaving them out there cold and asking them to get over in front of a crowd that only loves what’s familiar. On NXT, it would’ve gone twenty minutes and Sami Zayn would’ve been the star. Here, it was all about Adrian Neville. HOT DAMN, Adrian Neville. Dude was like, “welp, if this is the only two minutes I ever get on Raw, I’m doing EVERYTHING.” Super fast kicks, that goofy double front flip on his neck, the Red Arrow … he looked like a Superstar, capital S, and I loved it. All Breeze, Zayn and Kidd had to do was anchor an easy-enough-to-follow wrestling match to prep people for it. For people who read the NXT column, this is basically what I’ve been wanting them to do with Kalisto since he debuted.

And seriously, another supplemental Best for the announce team. Triple H probably threatened to sledgehammer them in the face if they talked shit about his e-fed, but God, this is what they should be doing for EVERYTHING on the show. They made every person in the match seem important, blew Neville when it was time to blow Neville and actually encouraged The WWE Universe to expand their horizons a little and get excited for the cool shit happening in developmental. I can’t praise them enough. Zero complaints. Happy clapping.

Best: The Faces Caused By The Red Arrow

Look at her. Neville hits the Red Arrow and she turns into Michelle Tanner. She looks to her left to get a reaction, looks to her right to get a reaction, then stares at the pin with “wow” all over her face. The three people she was with weren’t paying attention, but she got it. One in four is all we need.

Best: Tyson Kidd Needs to Go Home And Take Care Of His Three Cats Before Takeover

Needs more Devin Taylor.

Worst: The Second Worst Jerry Springer Episode Involving The Bella Twins In The History Of Monday Night Raw

If you forgot the first one, Nikki Bella reveals that Brie is a man. I’ve always considered it canon.

Anyway, the Bella Twins are still arguing about wrecked cars and murdered prom dates or whatever, so Springer shows up to “moderate” a conversation between them. You’d expect a bunch of Jerry Springer Show shenanigans, but nope, it’s just another Bellas arguing segment with Jerry Springer going “now hold on a minute” every forty seconds until they brawl. AND THEN HE GETS HURT.

So, where to start? Nikki Bella’s still the face here. Worst case, she’s a sympathetic heel. Brie Bella quits her job and attacks her boss. Brie won’t stop showing up and exacerbating things, so Nikki gets put in a string of degrading handicap matches. Brie ends up blackmailing one of the principal owners of the company to get her job back (even though she quit it), stealing the spotlight, never taking Nikki’s well-being into consideration and getting her beaten up AGAIN. So at SummerSlam, Nikki f*cks Brie over and costs her the match. Since then, it’s been a lot of Brie making phony cry-faces and Nikki yelling NO, GO AWAY.

Last night, Jerry Springer gets video from the Bellas’ mom and dad. They call Brie “the responsible one,” “the mature one,” “the one that’s always been the bigger person.” He brings out their brother J.J. (who may or may not be the guy from Karmin), and he tells Nikki to stop being a victim. I swear, if I was Nikki Bella I would’ve thrown elbows at ALL of these assholes by now. Brie is the worst. I feel like she and Cena should’ve ended up together, and Bryan could’ve taken Nikki to a pumpkin patch or something so she could relax and feel loved.

Best: Jerry’s Embarrassed, Melodramatic Stretcher Job

The best part of the segment is Jerry Springer revealing himself as the original Sin Cara.

The Bellas start catfighting, so they kinda press themselves into Jerry and everybody falls down. When the smoke clears, he’s injured and requires a stretcher to take him out. I don’t know if they worked a f*cking stretcher job for Jerry Springer off a two-model catfight or what, but it was the most ridiculous way to end the segment and I kinda loved it. Here’s my major question, though: didn’t Jerry come to the ring with a security guy? Where was HIS ass during the pull-apart? J.J. GarciaBella’s in there airlifting Brie Bella to safety and the guy employed specifically to keep Jerry Springer from dying is sitting on his hands. STEPHANIE does more to help than that guy.

Worst: The Usos Should Never Have A Fresh Man

Goldust and Stardust crunching Los Matadores was great. The Usos picture-in-picture promo? Not so much. What’s with them and Roman Reigns? Did they not hang out with the Rock enough? Did they get their promo skills from Jamal and Rosey?

The most interesting part (read: the only interesting part) is the reveal that when you hurt one Usos, you hurt the other. Shouldn’t that put them at a severe disadvantage in tag matches? How great would it be if Jimmy Uso went for a hot tag only to find Jey lying on the apron, gasping for air?

Loosely-related note for the Usos: If you’re in a situation where yelling “Oose” does not result in a crowd of people yelling “oh,” do not yell “oose.” You look kinda lame when you do it by yourself.

Worst: Like The SummerSlam Match, But Slower And With No Finish

The highlight of the Roman Reigns vs. Randy Orton main event was Seth Rollins almost getting impaled by a descending cage spike. I haven’t been that concerned for a wrestler’s life since Cactus Jack almost got crushed by an electric chair during the Chamber of Horrors match.

The main event itself was … engh, it was fine. I didn’t like it as much as their SummerSlam match, probably because of its spot on the show and the stuff surrounding it. At SummerSlam, it was a cool-down match before Brock Lesnar and John Cena. It was built around Orton methodically trying to destroy Reigns with his array of headlocks, chinlocks and ill-timed dropkicks, and Roman taking it until it was time to hit his moves. The finish to that match was exciting, though, with a Superman Punch into an RKO and everything after. The Raw match was the MAIN EVENT of a show that’d already featured a sudden NXT tag, Chris Jericho diving off a cage and Heath Slater getting superkicked by a bunny. There’s a time and place for the endless chinlock, and this might not’ve been it. At least not tonight.

Also, there wasn’t a finish. A bunch of guys run out and the referee goes AW JEEZ and throws it out. So you’ve got the SummerSlam match out of context, minus the hot finish. SURE, FINE.

Best: A Roman Reigns Beatdown Ending Without Roman Reigns Popping Up And Destroying Everyone To Save Face

I’m not sure why Seth Rollins dove off the cage on the same show as Jericho. Is the season premiere of Raw a TNA pay-per-view?

Still, though, it’s always good to see Roman Reigns get beaten up and take it. Even when he was about to get Curb-stomped onto a chair I thought he was gonna turn around and start spearing people. He’s been nigh invulnerable since the Shield broke up, and Orton’s the only guy who can seem to keep him down. Hell, when we were two minutes into USA Network’s ‘Rush’ I was still expecting to jump back to Raw and see Roman HOOOOOOOO’ing over The Authority’s dead bodies. It’s Tuesday at lunchtime and I STILL keep looking back at my turned-off television expecting to see a Superman Punch from outta nowhere.

If you’re building Roman to be the guy to unseat Lesnar (assuming the 100% chance that Cena beats him at Night Of Champions gets lowered to 99), you’re gonna have to let him get his ass kicked. It was three guys in a steel cage with weapons. He can spear people next week. Or better yet, Dean Ambrose can nail every scene from Lockdown on the first take and commute his ass back to Raw in somebody’s trunk.

Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Night


“One of our corporate officers lowered a steel cage and proceeded to allow several of my cubicle-mates to assault me with a steel chair…”-Glassdoor Reviewer


This is what happens when the Unmotivated Object meets the Unprepared Force.




Can’t wait for Cena’s happy Not-The-Father dance.


HHH: “Vince! Michael Sam is completely ignoring us! How are we gonna eat up 15 minutes in the second hour?”

Vince: “zzzzzz….HUH WHAT I DUNNO JUST THROW SOME SHIT ON zzzzzzzz”

HHH: “SomeonewhogivesmepermissiontoputNXTonRawsayswhat?”


HHH: “Perfect.”


Lawler: “I’m going to sit on the floor while Lana is up there.”
Cole: “As a form of protest?”
Lawler: “Uh, yeah. To protest.”


Cesaro was like an angry dad coming home from work. He took his shirt off and gave Sheamus the belt.

Harry Longabaugh

“Cena, here’s my purple heart. This belongs in the hands of the man who taught me to believe. Can you give it to Bo Dallas when you see him?”


…Maybe say “white tanktop” on this night in Baltimore instead of that other word John…


“That unemployed fat guy in the sixth row”
“Hey! I have a name! And it’s Matt Hardy”

Thanks, everybody. Spread the word and I’ll see you next week.