The Best And Worst Of WWE Raw 12/4/17: Boulevard Of Woken Dreams


Previously on the Best and Worst of WWE Raw: Elias, Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel performed an acoustic harmonica jam, and the vessel known as Matthew Hardy finally decided to bring the best part of Impact Wrestling to Raw. I mean, besides EC3.

Remember that With Spandex is on Twitter, so follow it. Follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook. You can also follow me on Twitter.

Note: Be sure you’re listening to our With Spandex podcast McMahonsplaining! Listen to the latest episode, episode 16 featuring Carmella. Subscribe on iTunes while you’re at it.

One more thing: Hit those share buttons! Spread the word about the column on Facebook, Twitter and whatever else you use. Be sure to leave us a comment in our comment section below as well. I know we always ask this, and that this part is copy and pasted in every week, but we appreciate it.

Here’s the Best and Worst of WWE Raw for December 4, 2017.

Best: Here I Sit, Woken-Hearted

First and foremost this week, we have to talk about the first official WWE appearance of “Woken” Matt Hardy, complete with his festive velour robe-suit or whatever, having a laugh-off with Bray Wyatt. And, you know, properly contextualizing Wyatt’s current character, which WWE’s been begging us to take seriously for years despite him being, at best, about as threatening as shooting fireworks at the hull of a dilapidated boat.

There’s ultimately a chance that the WWE produced version of the Broken Universe will be overproduced and corporately controlled and lack the unfettered creative mania of two bored guys who don’t want to be on Impact fucking around at home and filming backyard wrestling sci-fi pulp films to make themselves laugh, but this week’s laugh-off and the pronunciation of “condition” as “con-DEE-shun” are good signs. And hey, if this features a bit where Bray Wyatt gets thrown into the Lake of Reincarnation and returns as Husky Harris, I am all the way the hell in.

Best: Datty’s Boi

Last night, I think I officially got on board with Daddy’s Boy Jason Jordan.

There’s something so spectacularly dorky about this guy who is either a con artist who manipulated his way into a semi-main event position on Raw but is too much of a hot-headed, deluded goober to make anything of it, so he just keeps getting his ass kicked and getting injured, or an entitled millennial square-baby who thinks being good at the wrestling part of wrestling makes him John Cena.

Everything about him is frustrating, from his lame entrance theme to his “c’mon, guys” reaction when the fans boo him to the fact that he keeps running to his dad to get opportunities, getting the same “I don’t want to look like I’m playing favorites” speech every time and then getting the opportunities anyway. Him making these big challenges at the top of Raw because he thinks he’s supposed to if he’s gonna be a main-eventer is great in its awfulness, as is Kurt Angle not wanting to give his son unearned opportunities but being stuck in the Raw General Manager position of giving matches to whomever accosts him about it during the show backstage. That’s just how Raw works, you know? Jordan’s just manipulating the system to his advantage. Anyone could be doing this!

Best: So Much Wrestling!

I’m not sure I needed to see Jason Jordan and Roman Reigns wrestle for 30 minutes, but Raw featured three (3) (!) matches that went more than 15 minutes, with two going 20 (or close to it) and even the cruiserweight match going 12. That rules. My opinion of a lot of these is colored by the fact that I was there live, so Jordan/Roman featured way more lying on the ground in a bear hug during entire commercial breaks than I would’ve preferred, but on the bright side I finally got to see a Jason Jordan match on Raw without having to hear the announce team scream nonsense at each other about him for half an hour.

Best: SURPRISE, MOTHERFUCKER

Man, not since Braun Strowman knocked Roman Reigns halfway down the ramp has a hoss surprise-decimating a whimpery babyface been so satisfying.

Joe bringing a chair out onto the stage just to sit in it cool like he’s A.C. Slater (with Mario Lopez in the crowd!) is great — and also known as the Coolio Position — but I’m sad the bit where Joe interrupted Jojo’s match announcement to shit-talk both guys and get the crowd 1000% behind him was during a commercial break. It felt like a star-making moment (for a guy who’s already a star) live, and then I get home and they’ve gone from match arrangement to commercial break to joined-in-progress. Boo, hiss.

Also, maybe I was tired or something but I couldn’t figure out while I was watching if Reigns vs. Jordan had replaced Reigns vs. Joe, or if Reigns vs. Joe was happening later, or if JORDAN vs. Joe was happening later, or all of it. Let’s get some Starrcade ’89 action going on Raw.

Worst: The Ultimate Underdog!

Two questions:

1. When did Machine Gun Kelly become Justin Bieber?
2. When did WWE start hating The Troops so much they’d make them sit through Machine Gun Kelly?

Okay, third question: Can we figure out a way for him to run into Kevin Owens again?

Best: Diamond Paige

Man, how hard must it have been for Paige to have her first (real) match back in over a year and have it be a 16-minute thing with Sasha Banks in the middle of a live Raw?

While we were watching it live, Bill Hanstock pointed out to me how interesting it is that Paige was gone for so long that she looks the same, despite looking completely different. I thought she did a great job, considering, and Absolution’s looking like it could really matter. I realized seeing them live that the three of them together look like ass-kickers, and/or like the grown-up, non-Party City version of the Riott Squad. Rubyy is the jam, but the Riott Squad is absolutely the Go-Bots to Absolution’s Transformers right now. Sorry y’all always go on the day after.

Sasha tends to have the best Raw matches with the entirety of the women’s division, so that’s no major surprise. She’s a true WWE Babyface now, too, stepping out onto the apron to give a heel team that just beat up her friends the stink eye for several seconds instead of, you know, wrestling the wrestling match. You do it to yourself, Sasha, and that’s what really hurts.

The stuff with Absolution and Asuka continues to be interesting, too, and all I can think about is Asuka joining them, Paige claiming they’re the “real Four Horsewomen,” and Sasha and Bayley having to bring over Charlotte and Becky for a big pay-per-view blowoff. Seems like a better plan than asking Shayna Baszler to single-handedly carry her side of an 8-woman tag at a WrestleMania or whatever.

Although, shit, now I absolutely want to see the Absolution side win, move on to face the MMA team and have them devote 14 of the 15 minutes it gets to Asuka vs. Shayna Baszler.

Best/Worst: My Favorite NXT Champion Vs. My Least Favorite NXT Champion

What’s funny is that that header is true for most people, but the other way around. Although if anybody wants to tell me Bo Dallas was a worse NXT Champion than Drew McIntyre, they’re full of shit.

Finn Bálor needed a strong, rebound win after most of his appearances lately being him getting his ass kicked in one form or another, and I like that they allowed Bo Dallas to look like a real wrestler and provide a little bit of a challenge. It’s the Sting model vs. the Hogan model. Hogan would face these colossal nightmares and get destroyed the entire match, then no-sell everything and win like it’s nothing, so the villain’s offense and presence never mattered. They were interchangeable. Hogan vs. Andre only mattered because of Andre’s entire non-Hogan career before that match. Meanwhile you had a guy like Sting being WCW’s Hogan-esque “super hero” character, but he wasn’t “super,” really … he’d no-sell chops sometimes when his adrenaline got pumping, but he was fallible. He could lose just as much as he could win, so you actually got invested in the challenges put in front of him and had to like, root for him to win. It wasn’t just expected. I like Finn in that role. It’s what made that match with AJ so good, I think, because AJ is the same way. And it’s why it’s so hard to really give a shit about whether or not Roman Reigns is gonna win, because he’s the Hogan. Does that make sense?

Anyway, my major point here is that they should’ve put Bo’s challenge to Finn from Dot Com on the show, because Curtis Axel’s “Nice! I hate him, I hate him!” is five stars.

Worst: No Comedy Romance Angles Please

“How YOU doin’?”

“Not well, honestly. The last time I tried to date a human female co-worker I got lured to a hotel room and nearly beaten to death by an enraged Bulgarian, so I’ve mostly been hooking up with trombones, candy bars and buckets of chicken. Also I’m not Braun Strowman, and that’s the only Nia Jax romance angle anybody wants to see on Raw.”

Best: Can We Just All Be In Love With Mustafa Ali Already?

There are few better experiences at WWE live events than starting a match with a dead, dismissive crowd and watching the wrestlers kick that crowd’s ass until they’re chanting “this is awesome.”

It was a foregone conclusion after Rich Swann’s victory last week that Drew Gulak would win this week’s fatal four-way to face him next week for a shot at the Cruiserweight Championship, but that didn’t stop this from being enjoyable as hell. All three wrestlers busted their ass and played their roles to perfection, and Tony Nese was also fine. Ali rules the world, Ced’s Lumbar Check has never been done on WWE TV without a big “OOOOH” reaction from the crowd (even when they’re bored with everything else), and Gulak’s enthusiasm for Microsoft Office continues to endear.

Really good stuff all around here, and I hope they continue booking the cruiserweights as a competitive division, and not as the chorus for an Enzo Amore romance. I mean, unless the payoff to that is Nia pulling a Big E to Kaitlyn on Zo to set up Cruiserweight Champion Alexa Bliss.

Best/Worst: So Much To Talk About In This Throwaway Segment

Including:

  • How great is it that Elias stopped wearing his World Tour shirt this week, because last week’s Knoxville date was the final date on the back of it? I hope they give him a new tour shirt in 2018
  • Also, how retroactively great is it that Elias did that Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel harmonica bit as a special treat on the final stop of his tour?
  • How lame is it that Elias rightfully brought up Kurt Angle playing favorites with his pissant son and got punished by being put into a match with Braun Strowman? Good to see Angle continuing Commissioner Foley’s love of punishing heels for being right
  • How EXTREMELY lame is it that last week they had Braun Strowman crush Kane’s throat, and then this week they have Kane cut a promo like normal instead of bringing back his old voice box?
  • I cannot in good conscience give a full Best to anything that leads to another Kane match in 2017
  • wait did Kane say he delights in whore

Best: The Tag Title Main Event

Finally this week we’ve got the announced Fist Pals vs. The Bar Raw Tag Team Championship match, and again, there’s so much to talk about. How impressive was it to see Seth Rollins hit Sheamus with his superplex into a Falcon Arrow thing? And man, the dumbest thing in the world is that that combo never pins anyone, so I’m actually mad at Cesaro for breaking up what looked like it was gonna be a pin. And hey, check out Dean Ambrose with the shooting sleeve and the hand wrap! That’s as close as he’s gotten to actual ring gear since NXT.

Sheamus getting disqualified for the worst reason anyone ever gets disqualified — “doing too well at wrestling” — was a huge disappointment, and then they turned it around tremendously by restarting the match and cranking it up to eleven. Watch that video clip if you didn’t see Raw, everything after the restart has the crowd ROCKING. The announce team doing their stupid arguing bit over it is the only detriment. I seriously don’t know how Vince McMahon has watched the past 15 years of Raw and not overhauled the entire announcing process. It never, ever makes the show better anymore.

The run-in from Joe made sense to play on Angle’s decision to make the match no-DQ, which again is on Kurt. Sheamus got disqualified for kicking too much ass, he didn’t like, bring a shillelagh into the ring and attack The Shield with it to save his team or whatever. You could’ve just restarted it proper and told the referee not to disqualify them for dumb shit. But yeah, Joe shows up with a Bar Rescue and costs the challengers the match, and Bad Friend Roman Reigns is too slow jogging out to help (and too lethargic with his lazy Superman Punch on Cesaro) to save the day. I think Cole’s bored “oh a superman punch” call he does every time Roman throws one makes it worse.

I am so, so looking forward to The Shield vs. Sheamus, Cesaro and Samoa Joe six-man tag.

Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Week

Mr. Bliss

“I’m not one to question Kurt Angle but if I get a text message that he has an illegitimate son, then yes, I will question him.” – Corey Graves

pdragon619

If Seth was really committed to the King Slayer gimmick he’d jump the announce table and beat the crap out of Booker whenever he came out

Chair ’em up

For everyone who thought Bray Wyatt was just rambling incoherently for the past three years, now we know he was just having a disjointed conversation with Broken Matt Hardy across space and time.

Aerial Jesus

Asuka, looking at Mandy Rose & Sonya Deville:
“Didn’t I kill you?”

Ja Gi Kyung-Moon

Asuka didn’t retire as champion, Cole… she gained a class promotion after 523 days of grinding low level instances.

Mikeybot

#ByeAlicia

The Real Birdman

“I’M A LITTLE BIT COUNTRY”
“And I’m a little bit rock and roll”
“I’M A LITTLE BIT WEST VIRGINIA”
“With a little bit of drifting down in my soul”
“ROAAAAAAAAAAAAAR”

Harry Longabaugh

WHY DIDN’T ANYONE TELL ME THAT ENZO AND THE BUCKET OF CHICKEN HAD BROKEN UP?!?!

AddMayne

some say alicia fox started running and never stopped

shockabra

Jordan is going the Lana no-win route to a championship match. It’s an interesting strategy, Book… let’s see if it pays off

That’s it for this week. Pretty good show from top to bottom, if you ignore sudden romance, WWE’s love of terrible lower-tier rappers and the ongoing inevitability of Kane.

Be sure to drop us a comment and let us know what you thought of the show, and share the column on social to get the word out. And hey, join us next week when Dana Brooke begins her long-awaited “will they/won’t they” angle with Rhyno, or whatever.

(Here’s our latest McMahonsplaining podcast with Carmella)

×