The Best And Worst Of WWE Raw 11/13/17: Steph Infection


Previously on the Best and Worst of WWE Raw: Raw went to England for a tag team title change, a Pete Dunne cameo, and Aleister Black’s cat’s mom getting kicked to death by Asuka.

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Here’s the Best and Worst of WWE Raw for November 13, 2017. Hat tip to reader ‘shockabra’ for the subtitle.

Worst: The Stephanie McMahon Problem, Again (Sorry)

We taped an interview with Mick Foley on Sunday for next week’s podcast, and afterward I asked him about why Commissioner Foley was always taking such a browbeating from Stephanie McMahon, and why her only comeuppance ever was, at best, one (1) bump at a WrestleMania. From his perspective, he believes Stephanie got her comeuppance in promo form on his way out, whether that resonated with me personally or not.

Instead of going in for another five or six dense-ass paragraphs about how the Stephanie McMahon character both lowballs Stephanie McMahon as a performer and contributes negatively to almost every aspect of a wrestling show, I’m going to break this down talking point by talking point to illustrate why I believe a sassy response to her is never enough to justify her appearance.

In the first half of the 17-minute show-opening promo, Stephanie McMahon ruthlessly snips Kurt Angle’s balls for the second time in three weeks, shitting on him for letting Smackdown get into Raw, mentioning that crowds “sort of” cheer for him, and trying to fire him as Raw General Manager despite making him team captain two weeks ago. She then shits on Jason Jordan — the only person under 30 in the entire match, by the way — saying that he’s got no accomplishments or accolades and doesn’t deserve to be on the team. She shits on Kurt for decisions made by John Cena, then tells him that beating up Shane McMahon isn’t good enough anymore despite “beating up Shane McMahon” being the entire point of this, again, two weeks ago. There’s really no other point for Raw and Smackdown to be fighting beyond “Stephanie hates Shane and WWE says we’re doing it.” Kurt’s only response to any of this is to stand there with his head down and say he’s sorry.

In the second half of the 17-minute show-opening promo, Stephanie McMahon no-sells The Shield, shits on them for not getting a big reaction, and then shits on them for losing the Tag Team Championship and not being booked for Survivor Series. Roman briefly mentions Triple H putting her through a table at WrestleMania — Triple H is not in The Shield, no matter what he pretends — and the conversation quickly turns to, “we want to fight The New Day!” So Stephanie’s only comeuppance for insulting Kurt Angle AND The Shield for nearly 20 minutes is, “whatever, none of us have ever hurt you, but we’re gonna kick Smackdown’s ass for you, we promise!!”

During the show, Jason Jordan gets hurt. More on that in a bit, because LOL. But at the end of the night, Kurt’s forced to come to the ring and make the announcement that Jason’s been removed from Team Raw, per Stephanie McMahon, and a replacement, also per Stephanie McMahon, has been named. Jordan comes out to beg for his job in the whiniest, wimpiest Steve from Full House breaking up with DJ Tanner voice with everyone booing him and “what” chanting Kurt.

When Kurt can’t bring himself to shit on his son, Stephanie McMahon shows up to do it for him! She tells him to make the announcement now, and when he still can’t bring himself to hurt the feelings of his adult employee son, Top Bad Guy Triple H shows up to a face pop, gets a second face pop for shitting on Angle again and announcing himself as the fifth member of Team Raw, and gets a THIRD face pop for beating up an injured Jason Jordan. Trips is just inserting himself into EVERYTHING these days, whether it’s teams he thinks are cool, indie promotions he enjoys and both pay-per-view and international main-events.

All of this is what it is. It’s less about my antiquated ideas of cheering for people who do good stuff and booing people who do bad, it’s more about how every consequential thing that happens to Triple H or Stephanie, given enough time, reverts back to being meaningless, and they resume their totalitarian thing where they’re simultaneously supreme top babyfaces and heels. It’s brutal, especially when it happens for one of these Survivor Series builds that was pulled out of thin air. Shouldn’t The Shield have absolutely JACKED The Authority for trying to come back? Shouldn’t Daniel Bryan want to extra destroy them now? Just give it some consistency. Sometime. Ever.

Worst: Welcome Back, Sister

The funniest moment of the week has to be the return of Bray Wyatt, Eater of Worlds (sans Sister Abigail cosplay), losing via roll-up to Jason Jordan, the guy they dedicated most of the show to portraying as worthless garbage. Welcome back!

Best: At Least The Actual Shield Is Back

While the Shield in-ring Actual Match reunion against Bar Miz-vah wouldn’t rank in like, the top 20 Shield six-man tags — and wasn’t as good as the majority of Rollins/Ambrose tag matches as of late — neither of those things is an insult. It just speaks to the high level of performance they’re known for. Considering that the build-up for the original version of this got morphed into that entertaining garbage fire at TLC, and considering that this is Roman’s first match back after a month in Mumps Hell, it was a lot of fun. Slow to get started, but this match plus 10 minutes minus commercials would’ve been a really good TLC main.

And as an added bonus, The Miz, the guy who spent the early part of the show trashing The Shield in a segment I’m not recapping, got his ass kicked by The Shield for trashing The Shield. See how that works? Imagine if The Shield had just wrestled three other guys, barely won, and Miz showed up to call them all losers for barely winning. And then pointed out that nobody cheered for them. And made the next five Shield matches about praising The Miz. And he never got powerbombed, other people did, and then a year and a half from now Seth Rollins got to accidentally jump into him once.

Best: Drew Gulak, Again

I wish 205 Live was a three minute YouTube show with 2:15 of Drew Gulak responding to Enzo Amore’s rhetorical questions, then 0:45 of Kalisto awkwardly talking before someone throws him in a garbage can.

Also, because I don’t do things like this enough, a supplemental Best for the Cruiserweight Champion winning a match, doing it fairly with strategy and teamwork, and WWE not going with “Kalisto has pinned the Cruiserweight Champion” six days before Survivor Series.

Best, Mostly: Bayley Does A Thing!

I really enjoyed how the women’s triple threat was structured this week. Having the Raw women’s team stand shoulder-to-shoulder at the bottom of the ramp watching it was kinda weird, but it at least set up Dana Brooke showing ass to Asuka and getting her face kicked through the back of her head. That allowed the two actual people who might win, Bayley and Mickie James, to finish the match. I like that it was a match of consequence, that they let Bayley look like a good pro wrestler again for the first time in a while, and that they didn’t just add Paige at the last minute like rumors suggested they might and make Bay look like an Extra Dana.

The Raw women posing together after the match is another one of those seemingly non-canon Survivor Series build “moments” for the video package, but whatever. Bayley and Sasha can be pals about it, but Bayley being pals with Alicia Fox (the woman who dissed her just last week) is a little much, as is Nia Jax holding up Asuka’s hand. I just really dislike the Show vs. Show stuff that ignores all pre-existing character relationships. But what am I even looking for, I guess?

Best: Paul Heyman Christens A Marriage

Look, Paul Heyman putting over AJ Styles SPECTACULARLY and selling a Lesnar vs. Styles match with no build at the last minute was a masterclass in how to deliver an effective wrestling promo, but the only thing we’re gonna remember from this segment going forward is a marriage proposal chant interrupting it and Heyman hilariously burning them about it.

“Hey, just so you know, she only said yes because she’s never been up close to a Beast like Brock Lesnar. Just so you know, interrupting my promo is like stepping into the ring with Brock Lesnar … you ain’t got a chance.”

I’m only ever getting married if Paul Heyman can either (1) perform the ceremony, or (2) stand in the back of the church and make me feel like shit for getting married in his presence.

Best: Samoa Joe Forever

I wish they’d make a bigger deal out of Finn Bálor and Samoa Joe being the winners of the first-ever Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic, and that they’d actually go into their history as a team and explain why they split up, and why it’s tenuous for them to be teaming now beyond “Finn good, Joe bad.” I also wish they’d do another Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic.

But yeah, Joe and Finn team up against Whatever We’re Calling The Club now, and get a strong win to send them into Survivor Series with some “don’t remember I lost to Kane like a chump” momentum. That’s good. Also good: Samoa Joe beating the dog mess out of Gallows and Anderson, directing traffic to make sure they win the match, then calmly walking way like a total bad-ass. Joe should seriously be neck-and-neck with Strowman on the list of people who are about to blow up and be the next big thing.

Worst: What

Finally this week, we have … this.

On the one hand, I like that they’ve spent most of the year creating a bunch of images for Braun Strowman’s “superstar of the year” video. He’s flipped ambulances, destroyed cages with giants, collapsed the ring with a superplex, died in a garbage truck, risen from a garbage truck grave and now powerslamming Kane through the canvas.

On the other hand, it’s another in a series of illogically Kane-centric Kane matches in 2017, they apparently have to protect Kane and can’t give him an actual pinfall loss against Braun, and seriously, would that spot have even hurt Strowman? It’s a powerslam through the ring. He landed on Kane. I guess maybe the anticipation of motion being screwed up would be jarring, but shouldn’t he have stood up and roared before the show went off the air? Worst case scenario, it fucked up his knees, but he’s probably wearing pads under those patchwork cargos, right? And if you go by the “it’s literally Christian Hell under the ring when Kane is wrestling” concept and that’s why they didn’t get up, couldn’t we throw in some fire effects? If we’re still trying to save money with no pyro, can we at least throw a Party City fog machine down there to make it look like something’s up?

This is one of those things that will look better in a stylized video package a year from now than it did in real-time as part of a wrestling show. At least Kane didn’t chokeslam him a bunch and pin him like he did to Finn and like, the entire Shield.

Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Week

Baron Von Raschke

Booker with the deadpan line of the night. “Kid just learned a lesson.” You could hear him add “Like I did at WrestleMania XIX” if you listened closely.

JonSte13

November 13th, 2017. The night Triple H relapsed. Welp, you had a good run Hunter. Lets try to hop back on the bandwagon ASAP buddy.

Mr. Bliss

Bray Wyatt with his most heel move ever, tricks us into loving him for getting rid of JJ only to bring back HHH

Every time Cesaro has a chance of getting over as a face, they give him a mouthpiece to halt it, last time it was Paul Heyman, this time, it’s a literal mouthpiece.

Harry Longabaugh

Brock Lesnar thinks that “phenomenol” is the substance he tested positive for at UFC 200.

Big Baby Yeezus

“Oh you’re tired of us shoving Jason Jordan down your throat? Well here’s some McMahon drama for you”- WWE

Cami

This Jordan promo is the Lita diving head first into the concrete floor of promos.

Endy_Mion

Gulak is smart for doing PowerPoint because if he stood in front of a whiteboard nobody would be able to see him.

AshBlue

Drew Gulak is better at just standing there than Enzo is at wrestling.

shockabra

RAW injuries.

Roman Reigns – Mumps
Bray Wyatt – Mumps
Kurt Angle – Steph Infection

The Real Birdman

Can Survivor Series just end so I can be disappointed with the storylines on each show separately instead of them disappointing me intertwined?

That’s it for this week’s show. I wish I had more to say. Imagine an extremely funny GIF here!

Thanks for reading. Share this thing on social so we can get through Survivor Series without completely giving up, and make sure to drop down into our comments section to let us know what you thought of this not bad but not necessarily good episode. This episode!

Join us next week for [checks notes] oh thank God, the post-Survivor Series Raw. And make sure to listen to the McMahonsplaining podcast!

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