Previously on the Best and Worst of WWE Raw: WWE made the bizarre decision of running Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman vs. Samoa Joe in a triple threat preview of the fatal four-way Universal Championship main event at SummerSlam in the middle of the show, and main-evented Raw with Big Cass beating up the Big Show. Imagine going to a concert and the announcer being like, “up first we have Metallica! Stick around, because after that THE SWORD goes on!”
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And now, the Best and Worst of WWE Raw for August 7, 2017.
Best: Hey, It’s Brock! And He’s Doin’ Stuff!
Up first this week is Brock Lesnar “roleplaying SummerSlam” by beating up weekly punching bag The Miz, Mormon missionary Curtis Axel, and Bo Dallas, friend of the Lizard People. No mention of Curtis Axel’s former status as a “Paul Heyman Guy.” It makes sense for the direction they’re taking The Miztourage in, as they lost a 3-on-2 handicap match a few weeks ago, so why not lose 3-to-1 here?
I think it’s unusual for them to keep bringing Brock Lesnar to these shows and having him interact with anyone but his SummerSlam opponents, while those three keep attacking each other and having match variations for a month. By the time we get to SummerSlam it’s gonna be fresh-ass Brock Lesnar, just back from his latest gopher-murdering machine gun trip, versus three sleepy dudes with broken legs.
I’ll give the segment a Best, ultimately, because I can only shade a segment about Brock Lesnar throwing people so much before I’m being dishonest. And I like that they had him beat up three people in quick fashion to show that while yeah, Goldberg made him look like a chump for most of the last year and has only had one televised match since the beginning of April, but he’s still Brock Lesnar.
Worst: Stop Wasting All Your Pay-Per-View Matches On Free TV!
With Curtis Axel injured, Kurt Angle must find another opponent for His Son Jason Jordan and finds Quebec City jobber “Jean-Pierre Goulet.” Goulet had no reason to believe he’d be in action tonight, he just decided to put on his star of David singlet and hang around backstage near the injured people. I guess the Hardy Boys, Heath Slater, Rhyno, Elias, Goldust and the myriad of notable Raw employees who didn’t compete on tonight’s show were unavailable.
Jordan wins easily, and gets zero-to-negative reaction while a jobsman who’d be uninspired by even create-a-wrestler standards was over huge. He got a pop when he entered, and “let’s go jobber” chants during the match. Let’s hope Jordan goes full 1999 Kurt soon and embraces the awkward, hilarious arrogance that made rookie Kurt Angle the shit from day one. Also, y’all had a week to improve Jason Jordan’s entrance music and didn’t? Somebody asleep over there? Just give him Kurt’s music, or at least something that doesn’t sound like it’s from the Jordan Vs. Bird soundtrack.
Best: Thanks For The Love, WWE!
Always feels good to see our name on the show, and hey, that’s probably the nicest thing we’ve said about Bayley in a while. Next week I hope they have a reason to promote my quest to be the first person to make over 1,000 jokes about Alex Wright’s dick.
Worst: I Was Saying Boo-ayley
This is probably the moment we were all dreading when Bayley was the best character in NXT and redefining what a heartwarming babyface could mean to people in the modern era. The jaded among us were like, “they’re not gonna know how to book her, and they’re gonna ruin her until everyone hates her.” And now here she is, cutting a promo about how she’s injured and getting booed by pretty much an entire arena. Which is, you know, the opposite of how “I’m injured but I care a lot” promos are supposed to go.
Watching her get shook by the boos was sad. Girl, you’ve been doing this too long to think you can mention a couple of boos in the middle of a wrestling promo and not have everyone else join in.
This sets up a pair of triple threat matches, with the winners facing each other next week to see who’ll get the Raw Women’s Championship shot against Alexa Bliss at SummerSlam. The best part is that they’re the most obvious triple threats in the world.
The first is Sasha Banks with stars surrounding her name versus Alicia Fox and Emma. Saying Emma’s in the dog house is an insult to the living condition of dogs, and the only thing Alicia’s accomplished this year is pointing out Cedric Alexander’s booger and improperly using FaceTime.
The second is Nia Jax with a flashing arrow pointed at her and a bunch of circles drawn around her head versus Mickie James and Dana Brooke, who are … [checks Wikipedia] also in the women’s division. This might as well have been Nia Jax versus Jean-Pierre Goulet and Jean-Pierre Goulet’s rolly suitcase.
So we get the obvious match result — Nia Jax vs. Sasha Banks, again, for a chance to face Alexa Bliss — and managed to do so so indirectly that we finally got the outliers of the division on the show. Mickie should probably have something to do every week, and if Emma’s on TV getting humiliated every week, at least she’s still getting paid. Sorry, Emma. :(
Best: Goldust Will Be At SummerSlam, At Least
This is where we get Summer Rae as the new Marlena and Goldust Classic becomes an important part of the show again, right? Please?
Best: Shield Be Comin’ ‘Round The Mountain
If you’ve been following the past few weeks of programming, you know that former Shield brethren Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins are having an emotional pissing contest about who’s letting down whom and which one of them is jerking off the other. Or something.
Up first in the story block this week is Seth Rollins vs. Sheamus, in which Sheamus uses the Damned Numbers Game™ and interference from Cesaro to win. They beat the shit out of him after the match, and Ambrose is nowhere to be found, possibly because he’s backstage nervous having found out his match later in the night is sponsored by an insurance company.
Backstage, Rollins approaches Ambrose all, “hey bro, what the what,” and doesn’t totally realize he might’ve not gotten beaten up if he hadn’t started shit after the fall. Ambrose doesn’t want to help Rollins because he’s afraid of getting burned again, which Rollins is not helping by putting BURN IT DOWN on his t-shirt, having someone scream BURN IT DOWN during his entrance music, and filming WWE 2K commercials in which he burns everything down.
Later in the night, Cesaro and Dean Ambrose have a solid match despite Cesaro struggling with Ambrose’s offense being about as realistic as Kota Ibushi wrestling a blow-up doll. Cesaro teases a suplex spot from the ring post to the floor, and I know that’s the least safe wrestling thing imaginable, but you can’t tease it and never pay it off. Give me a stalling suplex on the post.
Anyway, Ambrose learns from what happened to Rollins (which shows he was watching, I think) and avoids the inevitable Sheamus interference to roll Cesaro up and win the match. He doesn’t start shit with them, either, but gets attacked. To prove that he’s reformed and now a Good Dude, Rollins makes the save. Ambrose apprehensively offers up a Shield fist-bump while the crowd goes bonkers, but Rollins refuses it. It’s totally the Diamond Dallas Page “I won’t join the nWo because I’m the 8th guy you asked” thing. I think this is the most emotionally relevant and believable Dean Ambrose has been since he got a personified potted plant smashed on the back of his head.
And as an omnipresent reminder, I want this story to end with Ambrose and Rollins skipping up to Roman to tell him the good news and him driving over them in a car.
Trying To Make Important Changes In My Life Like …
Worst: Big Vs. Big Rolls On
So far, every aspect of the Big Cass vs. Big Show with Enzo Amore feud has been the same. Enzo is always the one talking shit. Cass turned on him because Enzo was using him to fight his battles. Now Enzo is using The Big Show for the exact same reason. Cass isn’t cheating or anything, but Enzo won’t stop cheating. So every fight goes like this: Big Cass kicks Big Show’s ass, Enzo shows up, Big Cass kicks Enzo’s ass, Show recovers and knocks Cass out. Nobody really accomplishes anything, unless you’re one of the dozens globally who was hoping Big Show could get a rub by physically and emotionally destroying one of Raw’s most popular tag teams.
This match is more of that. Enzo talks shit until he and Show end up in a match with The Club. He calls them “Dr. Evil and Mini-Me,” which in the old west of World Wrestling Entertainment is an insult punishable by death. Big Ass wanders out, so Big Show gets distracted and booted out of the ring. That leaves Enzo to take a loss. After the match, Cass beats them both down until Enzo literally runs away, giving Show a chance to (once again) knock out Cass. I could just type “Cass” 20 more times and it’d be more interesting than anything in this match description.
The payoff is that now we’re getting Big Cass vs. Big Show at SummerSlam, with Enzo Amore suspended above the ring in a shark cage. If you’ve read any of my NXT reports around TakeOver: Toronto, you know my opinion on managerial shark cages. I think it’s interesting that Cass is requesting Enzo be put in the cage, because this might be the first time a heel’s ever had to put a babyface in a suspended cage to keep him from interfering. It also continues to telegraph that Enzo’s not a good guy, and he’s gonna “accidentally” drop a Certified G chain or whatever into the ring from the cage like he’s helping Show, only for Cass to use it and win the match. And then they’ll hug.
Are We Going To Do Anything Else Inside The Purple Ropes This Week
I know the ropes aren’t purple anymore, but they’re purple in my heart.
Three weeks ago on Raw, Ariya Daivari defeated Akira Tozawa when Titus O’Neil threw in the towel. During the match, Daivari injured Tozawa. So Tozawa demanded a rematch, and they got it the next night on 205 Live. Tozawa defeated Daivari, but got jumped and injured again afterward. Two weeks ago, Tozawa demanded another match with Daivari but didn’t get it because Titus O’Neil preemptively threw in the towel. So he went to the ring anyway, got into an argument with Neville, and got beaten up by, you guessed it, Ariya Daivari. This set up Ariya Daivari vs. Akira Tozawa on 205 Live. Last week on Raw, Tozawa won a six-man tag team match against Ariya Daivari. This week, Akira Tozawa defeats Ariya Daivari.
Oh, and now Tozawa’s shoulder is 100% fine (despite his non-stop schedule of matches, and people trying to re-injure his shoulder) because Titus O’Neil bought him a hyperbaric chamber. Sure. I’m hoping this was a Vince McMahon joke, and that he thought “Michael Jackson sleeps in a hyperbaric chamber” was still hot goss.
Worst: How Do You Make A Match Between Two Demons Seem Boring
The bit begins with the littlest jet, Finn Bálor, quoting Omar Little and explaining that Wyatt’s attempts at spooky don’t bother him. Wyatt teleports in for IN-YOUR-FACE SPOOKINESS, but Finn avoids it by (1) sitting in the corner instead of standing in the middle of the ring waiting to get Abigail’d, and (2) kicking Bray’s ass. Bray eventually has to teleport away, where he cuts — get this — a promo on the TitanTron about how Finn should run. Even though he, uh, just ran away from Finn giving him a browbeating.
I think they’ve managed to encapsulate entire Wyatt Family angles into single segments now.
Best: Someone At WWE Has Been Watching The G1 Climax
Best/Worst: Roman Vs. Strowman
I mean this as both a compliment and a criticism, so bear with me: The write-up for every Braun Strowman vs. Roman Reigns match is the same. “It was REALLY GREAT until the finish, because WWE doesn’t know how to book decisive finishes that mean anything and want both guys to look good so NOBODY ends up looking good.” So you’ve got “Roman vs. Strowman was great until Roman just immediately healed, escaped the ambulance and beat the crap out of Braun for winning,” or in this case, “Roman vs. Strowman was great until the referee just stopped counting the 10-count at the end for Samoa Joe interference and Braun somehow won, despite lying on the ground for like two minutes.”
I’m also not sure we should be doing every version of the SummerSlam main event in the weeks building up to SummerSlam, nor do I think it makes sense that Brock Lesnar’s been on the show for the past two weeks and hasn’t interacted with any of the three people he’s about to wrestle. But then we come back around to the compliment: Roman vs. Strowman, for what it was and while it lasted, as always, was really good. And Rome got blasted in the face with a comfortable desk chair.
Last Man Standing matches might be the worst WWE match, though. They shouldn’t be. The stipulation is good on paper, but in practice it’s a whole lot of building up to big spots, then letting the energy of those spots die while the referee counts to 10 and everyone has to stagger around. These things can get straight-up boring when the referee counts every time the wrestler hits the ground, or can’t keep it consistent, like the finish here. WWE just renewed the trademark for “Taboo Tuesday,” so maybe next week we can go full Taboo Tuesday and let the fans call in to vote on which match they want to see: No Holds Barred, Anything Goes, or an Extreme Rules match!
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Week
“If Joey Ryan can get a dick over, so can I.” – Vince McMahon justifying pushing Roman Reigns
Kurt Angle looks like Joe Rogan’s head got stung by a giant bee
Do they really think a promo for a horror movie is really going to look scary or threatening when they play it immediately after a PuppyMonkeyBaby commercial?
looks like we know who drafted Tozawa in the Racial Draft
The man who is the definition of grace and power loses to the man who is the definition of the Hardcore Parkour intro of The Office.
Dean wins with the Diva-driver 2009
Enzo Amore: Size Queen
Brock (while angrily F-5ing Bo Dallas): The only Miztourage I care about is Ms. Taraji P. Henson!
Bo (in dire pain): I… loved her… in… Hustle… and Bo…
“Hypersonic lime chamber”
“Hypercronic lion tamer”
“you get one more”
(Titus gets thrown off the look out)
The Real Birdman
“Touch my fist, Seth. It’ll be the first time it’s connected all night”
That’s it for this week. Thanks for reading.
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