Previously on the Best and Worst of Raw: Braun Strowman returned from the grave as an unstoppable garbage monster. Daniel Bryan got killed in the dark like a character in a murder mystery. Drew Gulak took whiteness to exciting new places.
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Here’s the Best and Worst of WWE Raw for November 6, 2017.
What To Do With Jason Jordan
Here’s a problem: you’ve brought Jason Jordan over to Raw to be Kurt Angle’s son. The announce team can’t decided if they like him or hate his guts, and won’t stop debating it. He’s got a lot of obvious physical gifts and some of Kurt’s awkward charisma, without Kurt’s ability to communicate either of those things to live crowds. You’re still pushing him, though, giving him a spot on the show every week, matches with Roman Reigns and John Cena, and adding him to your Survivor Series team that’s otherwise packed with all-stars. The crowd response to all of this ranges from “eh,” to “wehhhh.” People have started booing his existence.
So what do you do?
The obvious thing is, of course, to turn him. It’s the Rocky Maivia Quandary. You’ve got a young, handsome, athletic blue-chipper you’re shoving down everyone’s throats and the crowd’s not having it, so you keep at it until they’re infuriated and then go, “whoops, actually he’s a bad guy, actually you fell for it.” It’s a best-case scenario. You’ve got Booker T on commentary openly comparing him to Erik Watts — master of history’s worst dropkick — so what else is there? If you don’t, it’s JBL bagging The Ascension every week.
I think the most fun thing would be revealing that Jordan is the “mole” that keeps letting Smackdown into the arena, and that when Gable attacked him during Hashtag Under Siege, it was all a work to cover his tracks. You turn him at Survivor Series, have him suplex Kurt or whatever to give Shane the pin. Ultimate betrayal. Wrestling fans love to mention the Montreal Screwjob when it comes to Survivor Series, but if you’re working with a Rocky Maivia here, you’ve got to Deadly Game it. Hell, Shane was there for that, too.
If not, you’ve got (1) a talented guy nobody likes (2) winning “on a pole” matches against (3) a mid-card heel designed to get booed (4) who is getting cheered because he’s at least entertaining, and the other guy isn’t. Seems like a lay-up.
Best: RIP Meowmie
This week’s Asuka manslaughter victim is “Stacy Coates,” aka Scottish wrestler Isla Dawn. You may also know her as Aleister Black’s girlfriend or, most importantly, Totty Potato’s mother. If you weren’t already following Aleister Black’s impossibly adorable cat on Instagram, congratulations, now you are.
Also, Asuka is great. Duh. Unless they’re crazy, the booking of the Survivor Series women’s match is Smackdown going up 5-to-1 and then Asuka beating everyone on the team herself.
Best: A Good Use Of A U.K. Raw
Classically, British Raws have been a bit of a nightmare. This week’s show improved upon that formula in two important ways:
- Important stuff actually happened, and
- to compensate for the smaller talent roster, it was a very wrestling-heavy episode with longer matches
That’s a pretty quick and easy way to make ANY wrestling show better, but you get what I’m saying. The main event tag team match not only featured a title change, but went almost 20 minutes. The women’s tag got 10. The Cruiserweight match had a surprise main roster debut AND went almost four minutes, which is like an Iron Man Match for cruiserweight matches on Raw. Aside from the Miz/Braun Strowman thing, everything on the card seemed to get the time it needed to tell the story it wanted to tell, and seemed like it was there for a reason.
What’s supposed to be Samoa Joe vs. Titus O’Neil is quickly upgraded to Joe vs. Finn Bálor, and they get to do their thing for almost 15 minutes. The finish is kind of lame — a double count-out — but it’s purposeful, keeps either guy from taking an ill-timed loss, and sets up a couple of heavy hitters for your Survivor Series squad.
You’ve gotta love Kurt Angle’s plan for putting together that team. “Okay, up first we should have the undead garbage monster who was trying to kill us at the pay-per-view, ended up fighting his entire team and is a violent freight train no one man can stop. Also, Kane keeps showing up and attacking him. That should be fine. To fill out the team, let’s add two guys who hate each other so much they wouldn’t stop fighting after their match and couldn’t be restrained by our entire security team. They’ll definitely get along. Finally, for a team captained by me, a 48-year old general manager with a broken neck, let’s go with my unpopular son.” If you factor in my argument that Jordan’s about to turn on him, that’s an absolute suicide squad.
Worst: That’s Gotta Still Be Kane
As mentioned, the only really disappointing part of the episode for me was the one-two punch of Miz TV as an extended Previously On Raw video package and the Strowman/Miz match being an excuse to continue Strowman’s seared beef with Kane. I just don’t really want to see Kane doing anything for any reason on Raw in 2017. Not that he doesn’t deserve a big “goodbye” angle or whatever, but … yeah.
Even this had a highlight, though, which is the continued cult support of Curtis Axel. It’s pretty impossible to hate that guy right now. Him standing backstage repeatedly touching his neck brace while Bo Dallas tried to toss affirmations at The Miz, only to talk about how scared he was that they couldn’t do it and then be like OKAY WELL IF EVERYONE ELSE IS CONFIDENT I WILL TRY TO BE CONFIDENT TOO is so good. I sincerely hope Curtis Axel continues to grow and becomes a real Thing, like Miz protege Daniel Bryan, and doesn’t just burn and fizzle out, like Miz proteges Alex Riley or Damien Sandow.
Best: A Dunne Deal
I don’t love that Pete Dunne needed so much help from Kalisto — an alert to the referee to keep him from being pinned AND a distraction — but yo, Pete motherfucking Dunne on Raw. That’s a definite Best.
If you aren’t familiar with Dunne, imagine if Ring of Honor Champion-era Bryan Danielson was actually William Regal’s son and not just trained by him and wearing his underpants. Now imagine that he’s a 23-year old vegan with bad skin and floppy hair. That’s great, right? The fact that the U.K. squad isn’t already an official Intercontinental Championship division-esque part of NXT’s weekly programming is baffling, so any integration of them into regular WWE TV is appreciated.
My only other complaint is that Dunne didn’t kick Kalisto’s ass after the match. Oh, and the production team completely botching his entrance. And maybe that Regal didn’t show up in the back later to make angry faces at Kurt for letting all of this happen.
Best: Stupid Like A Fox
Speaking of filling out Survivor Series teams, the women’s tag featured what could either be an interesting storyline or another chapter in the endless will they/won’t they between Sasha Banks and Bayley: Alicia Fox wants Sasha on the team, but not Bayley.
Before the match, Sasha and Bayley tell Mike Rome and his attempted Sunil Singh haircut about how they both feel like they deserve to be on the Survivor Series team, and how the match tonight was their effort to prove it. Sasha ends up tapping out Foxy for like the fourth time in a month and a half, and Fox is like, “I NEED YOU ON THE TEAM.” Bayley just has to lie there watching it, and the announce team openly wonders if it’ll bother her that she wasn’t included.
I think it’s a fun story for Bayley to not get picked for the team after leading it to victory last year, especially if Fox puts, like, Dana Brooke on the team instead. Now that Bayley’s completed her NXT arc — “become a real pro wrestler and a champion” — it’s hard to give her stories that make her look undervalued or like an underdog without making her look weak or stupid. Having her peers underestimate her and ignore her because she’s had a rough time lately could be a good way to build a little sympy without, like, having her open an Alicia Fox-sized Christmas present and get beaten up about it.
Best: TV’s Nia Jax
Best (With A Little Worst): The Main Event
Finally this week — see how fast it goes when you have matches? — we have the main event, a relatively impromptu Tag Team Championship match between The Shield and The Bar.
Like every match these two teams have had, it was exceptional. Rollins and Ambrose are the best they’ve been in YEARS working together again, and putting them in the ring with a team like The Bar only highlights that. Nearly every problem I’ve had with Ambrose is gone, and even his rebound lariats have gone back to “LOL” from “[angry yelling intensifies].” Ambrose and Rollins are SO good, in fact, that the major dose of Worst here comes from the fact that WWE took away our upcoming Shield vs. Usos match at Survivor Series. BOO TIMES AS MUCH AS I CAN COUNT.
On the other, less reactionary hand, we’ll now get two good matches instead of one specific good one I really wanted to see. First is obviously The Bar vs. the Usos, which is weirdly another heel vs. heel thing like Miz vs. Baron Corbin. The second, assumed because The New Day randomly showed up and cost The Shield the match here, is a six-man tag teaming the entire New Day against the entire reunited Shield. Roman’s supposed to be back from Mumps Hell next week, so we’d finally get that formal in-ring Shield reunion, get it in the preferred six-man tag the match at TLC should’ve been before everything got bonkers, and pit them against the only other team in the discussion for best three-man group of the past decade. That’s … pretty exciting. And now I guess you at least avoid having to address the Roman Reigns/Usos relationship.
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Week
Oh man, how The New Day gon’ do their Captain like that?!
The joke’s on the Raw locker room, because while they’re all out in the arena, Smackdown just captured their flag.
music plays, trio begins ominously descending the stairs
Seth and Dean: Oh, so this is what it feels like….
that would be two divided by two, Alexa. Unless you’re using common core or whatever.
I’m sorry, but the Pete Dunne I know also kills Kalisto and walks out with both belts in his mouth.
Next week, we should have Kairi Sane beat the shit out of Enzo.
Whatd’ya know. Enzo and George Washington have TWO things in common. They cannot tell lies and they both have syphilis.
Baron Von Raschke
Kane pinned Balor clean to get the Meng push to make Braun look strong, but Balor is now on the same team as Braun….oh, no, I’ve gone cross-eyed.
Ja Gi Kyung-Moon
Shane McMahon: OK, since Kurt was saving his #5 spot for Jason Jordan because he needs someone he trusts, I realize that neither Rusev or AJ fill that role for me. Can I count on you to help me lead my team to victory?
Pete Gas: *despondently stares into the distance while “Curb Your Enthusiasm” music plays*
Titus: “Well Charly, I want to show Joe that there’s consequences for grabbing people for no reason without their permission.”
That’s it for this week’s surprisingly enjoyable episode. Carry this moment in your hearts for the rest of the week:
As always, we’d appreciate it if you’d drop a comment below and let us know what you thought of the show, and if you’d share the column on one/all of your social media platforms. Otherwise we’re gonna have to start putting ads on our jerseys.
Be back here next week for the go-home show for Survivor Series, featuring (I’m assuming) the main roster debut of Wolfgang and an evil Kurt Angle with a goatee joining Team Raw.