Previously on the Best and Worst of WWE Raw: The Shield reunited to triple powerbomb The Miz, put Braun Strowman through a table and talk themselves into a 4-on-3 main event at TLC. Also, Mickie James said Alexa Bliss’ butt looked like a biscuit.
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Here’s the (spooky) Best and Worst of WWE Raw for October 16, 2017.
Q: Would you waste The Shield’s first entrance in years, complete with classic team tactical vest gear, on Raw, six days before the pay-per-view where the selling point is “you get to see The Shield again?” On top of that, would you do the first SIERRA HOTEL INDIA ECHO LIMA DELTA THE SHIELD on Raw and have Kurt Angle talk over it?
This is one of those things where I’m an armchair booker and can’t claim to know what constitutes “good business” these days, nor do I understand the modern Network “pay-per-view” live event model. So I dunno, classically it doesn’t seem like the kind of thing you’d want to give out on a show people aren’t paying for. But now I guess getting people to watch the weekly shows is what drives Network memberships and that’s way over-the-top, so whatever. And yeah, I’m not the one tasked with convincing people to watch 70 hours of weekly wrestling programming.
Best: A Night Of Shields
The reunited Fist Friends open the show by Sierra Hotel India Echo Lima Delta’ing their way to the ring to interrupt Kurt Angle and … cut a babyface promo, which is a little underwhelming but I guess the nature of the beast in the new Amalgamated Shield Product. We’re getting the greatest hits album, but they’ve gotta play some of their new shit, too. The biggest mistake here is letting Roman talk first, which is the opposite of how this works. Although I do like the idea that they’re gonna keep teasing that Roman’s the one who can’t stop macho posturing and threatens to break up the band again, but Mr. Enthusiasm Dean Ambrose is totally the one that’s turning.
So yeah, The Shield shows up and doubles down on their boast that they can beat any four or five or six guys at once. Bar Mizvah and the Monster Among Miz show up to do this right here right now because we don’t have to wait, and Kurt Angle spoils the party by shutting it down.
Later in the show, a wonderfully country Braun Strowman (who mentions “the announcing table” in a very North Carolina moment) guests on Miz TV, and a deal is struck: with everyone banned from ringside, Braun can earn a fifth member for his team by beating Roman Reigns. If Roman wins, though, the match goes back to 3-on-3 and they lose Strowman as a partner.
I want to point out two things here:
- I don’t think The Miz gets enough credit for proving that dreams can come true no matter how bad you are at something at first. That guy worked his way up from awkward reality show and Parma yokel obscurity to become WWE Champion, got so concussed he fell back down to the bottom, then worked his way up again to marry a French-Canadian Playmate and be one of the best all-around performers on the show. Miz rules.
- The love Curtis Axel is getting is absolutely heartwarming. The crowd loves him and chants for him, so The Miz acknowledges it. I actually got mad at Kurt Angle for interrupting when Miz was gonna announce Axel as his fifth guy, because the pop for it and the look on Axel’s face was gonna be magical.
Rollins and Ambrose end up taking on Cesaro and Sheamus for the Tag Team Championship again, which I think happened because somebody realized the Tag Team and Intercontinental Champions are jammed into the same main event at TLC, so they might as well do a title defense on the go-home. Man, how crummy does a 3-hour brand-exclusive pay-per-view’s mid-card get when the world champ isn’t appearing and you put your champions and popular folk in one 8-person main? That’s how we end up with a cruiserweight division tag match and an Alicia Fox kickoff.
Anyway, Rollins and Ambrose win what’s definitely the best match on the show. It’s the worst of the matches they’ve had thanks to some miscommunication throughout, including a particularly awkward attempt at a springboard European uppercut Hart Attack thing, but it was still fun to watch. This, by God, sets up my favorite part of the show: a Curtis Axel inspirational speech.
How lovable is that guy? I want to hug him. We’re so far beyond the Exodus of McGillicutty, and I seriously hope we can find a way to keep this character going and make Mr. Goddamn Perfect’s kid an important part of the show again.
But yeah, Axel is all YOU NEED TO DO THIS BRO YOU NEED TO SEIZE THE DAY and Strowman tells him to go beat up Roman Reigns. I like that Strowman is completely chill and deadpan in these segments, because he beats up Roman Reigns all the time, and I guess figures anyone can do it if they put their mind to it. Sheamus and Cesaro passive-aggressively bully him into do it, and Axel, not wanting his cool new non-Bo Dallas friends to think he’s a coward, agrees. That, of course, leads to Axel getting his ass kicked and literally being hoisted by his own petard.
Miz shows up later trying to give the same kind of motivational speech — a nice touch to have the guy who hangs out with and wants to be The Miz doing a worse version of what The Miz would do, by the way — and finds out what’s happened. The look on his face when Braun deadpans, “he said he wanted to beat up Roman Reigns so I told him to go do it,” is A+.
When Miz finds Axel, he immediately tells Renee Young that Axel was “never our fifth man,” because just because he hangs out with these guys who were in a movie with him and uses them for protection doesn’t mean he likes them. What a cold-blooded thing to do, like right on top of his corpse. CURTIS AXEL FACE TURN, PLEASE. Nobody preps lackeys for face runs like The Miz. Daniel Bryan, Alex Riley, Damien Sandow …
… hey, one out of three ain’t bad.
The steel cage match happens at the end of the night, and just like every other match where everyone is banned from ringside, everyone runs down to ringside and gets involved without punishment. The Bar and the non-Romanic members of The Shield show up, start brawling with each other, and brawl to the back. This sets up two big moments:
1. The return of Kane, who is defending against any Knox County mayoral rivals who’d use him formerly being a demonic fire-throwing necrophiliac rapist murderer by just being one right now.
2. The debut of that weird-ass Twin Peaks-ass dude who isn’t supposed to be on the wrestling show but ends up on it anyway, and is very concerned with keeping the wrestlers from knocking over his bizarre backstage conventional table covered in creepy dolls.
Guys, why the hell is there a table of collectable dolls on display near the back exit of a wrestling arena on the night of a wrestling show? Was he soliciting? Was he trying to sell KISS dolls to the wrestlers? Not only does he have KISS dolls, I see a John Goodman Fred Flintstone doll on there. I think maybe Tyler Breeze was having another bad dream backstage and the Shield and Bar accidentally fought through it.
But yeah, Kane. It is what it is. I think the worst part is that Michael Cole spends the entire time like, “I HAVE NEVER WATCHED WRESTLING BEFORE, WHAT REASON COULD KANE POSSIBLY HAVE TO ATTACK ROMAN REIGNS???” I know they’ve gotta act like they don’t know what’s going on so Kane can cut a promo or whatever and explain it later, but bro, it’s not exactly clandestine. Roman Reigns retired Kane’s brother at WrestleMania. Why do you think they had Roman mention “yards” in the opening promo? And on top of that, Kane was on the team that lost to The Shield in their first TLC match. Daniel Bryan and Ryback aren’t wrestling in the company anymore, so it’s Gotta Be Kane™. Not exactly an M. Night twist over here.
Also, I feel like Kane’s in the match so someone who doesn’t have to be there every week can take the pin. And so Braun Strowman has another big guy to beat up for TAKING a pin, and subsequently powerslam into an ambassadorial position.
But hey, I wrote 1500 words on the A-story for a Raw that covered three hours, featured two matches and a return, and did service in one form or another to like 10 characters. Thumbs all the fuck the way up.
Now let’s put our thumbs as far down as they can go.
Worst: Pumpkin Spice Finn Bálor
After weeks of watching the Internet make fun of Bray Wyatt for putting a lacy sheet over his head and cutting promos like one of those Halloween candy bowls where the hand tries to grab you when you reach into it turned into a real boy, Finn Bálor was like, “oh, oh, me too!” So now the Demon is a spooky pumpkin man. I’m so embarrassed for these people I think I’ve forgotten what not feeling embarrassed feels like.
The match graphic doesn’t make it any better. Look at this thing. It looks like you got a couple of 13-year olds to join your e-fed and come up with the coolest goth characters they could. The characters we made as a joke in 2K18 are barely worse than this:
TDE already beat me to the joke about how it looks like Jack Skellington’s wrestling Oogie Boogie, and I can’t top that. My hope for TLC is that they drive to the arena together, get a flat tire somewhere and don’t make it in time. And then AAA has to deal with how spooky scary they are.
Real question, though: does anyone else think it’s weird that Bray Wyatt hasn’t actually physically appeared on the show in a while? It’s just been those pre-taped Sister Abigail threats, like when they tape 18 weeks of Goldust sitting backstage and air them for months. And to make it weirder, Bo Dallas disappeared too, at the same time. They say Bo is hurt, but there hasn’t really been a report about him getting hurt, and dude hasn’t even tweeted since September. Did they pull a Neville? Is IRS okay? It feels like something’s up. I could just be trying to think of anything except Finn the Pumpkin King.
Best: Karl Anderson Covering The Honky Tonk Man
I could take or leave Jason Jordan severely downgrading his tag team partners from The Hardy Boyz to Titus Worldwide to take on the Culture Club of Elias, Anderson and Gallows, but the pre-match bit with the Good Brothers “warming up their voices” just to cover the Honky Tonk Man’s theme was pretty great. I also liked how Elias genuinely seems to like them and appreciate their help in making terrible music. “Jason Is A Nerd” could be a Taylor Swift track with the right production.
This was fine. Totally watchable. Crews’ powerbomb looked better than it ever has. But I’m still weirded out by the running joke Cole and Graves seem to have where they’re like, “no, Booker, tell us what you REALLY think of the black wrestler.” And then Booker has to be like, “uh, Jason Jordan sucks” or “uh, Titus is big, that’s all I can say.” “You should join Titus Worldwide” over and over. They’re never like, “hey Booker, heh, tell us why you hate Curt Hawkins so much.” We get it, he doesn’t like them. I don’t want to have to hear the man have to scramble to say some nice shit about a wrestler he doesn’t like every week.
Worst: Jesus Christ, Kalisto
If you missed the segment, Enzo shows up to make some excuses for losing the Cruiserweight Championship and Kalisto interrupts him to cut a promo that is one “goddamn” and one “woo” away from being Good Good Lucha Thing II. Holy SHIT that guy is bad at live promos. Putting him in the ring with Enzo Amore for live promos is like putting one of those super hero kids from the cancer awareness commercials in a street fight against Brock Lesnar.
Here’s a clip of Kalisto cutting a promo when he was young:
Best: NEFARIOUS CRUISERWEIGHTS, Though
That’s what the Fan Nation video calls them. I hope that’s their faction name.
While Enzo is running down Kalisto verbally, all the non-Kendrick, non-Gallagher 205 Live heels hit the ring to run him down physically. Drew Gulak, Ariya Daivari, Noam Dar and Tony Nese show up and just obliterate the dude, and the announce team actually does a good job in explaining it. The payoff to all of Enzo’s I AM SO RICH FROM BEING A POPULAR WRESTLER promos is him having enough money to pay the cruiserweight division’s biggest dirtbags to watch his back. It makes sense. According to tweets from recently released wrestlers, it’s not like these guys are making a ton of money on their own.
The best part is that Mustafa By God Ali runs down to make the save. He gets his ass handed to him too, of course, because it’s 5-on-1, but hey, anything to get Ali on the show. The brawl ends with Enzo going back to the braggy stuff, talking about how he’s going to hit his finisher on Kalisto while wearing shoes that aren’t for sale to the public for another three weeks. That’s fantastic.
I like Enzo a lot as a heel, appreciate his Rey Mysterio Louis Vuitton mask reference, and enjoy that he had to get four indie wrestlers to equal one Big Cass. Cass should fight all four of them at WrestleMania in a match where they have to sit on each other’s shoulders and stack themselves up. I don’t like Enzo giving his jacket to Noam Dar, however, because if we’ve learned nothing else about him — and we haven’t — it’s that he’s bad at jackets. I hope when Enzo was gabbing at him at the end there he was like, “AY BRO SEE HOW MUCH BETTER YOUS LOOKS IF YOU DON’T ZIP IT UP ALL THE WAY?”
If you’re wondering where the other nefarious cruiserweights are, Cedric Alexander defeats new street clothes ALT ATTIRE 1 Jack Gallagher to set up Ced and Rich Swann vs. Jack and Kendrick for a match at TLC. I don’t have much to say about it other than it was serviceable for the three minutes they got, and that it’s a damn travesty that Cedric Alexander isn’t as popular with the WWE Universe as he should be.
Worst: Mickie James Has Pinned The Women’s Champion!
A lot going on in the women’s division this week, as Raw realizes it still needs to fill at least an hour of a pay-per-view. Mickie James is already challenging Alexa Bliss for the Raw Women’s Championship because of a bunch of “your old” with the improper use of “you’re,” so they break out the old “CHALLENGER HAS PINNED THE CHAMPION” bit. WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR THE PAY-PER-VIEW IN SIX DAYS? CHALLENGER BUILDING SOME MUCH-NEEDED MOMENTUM HEADING INTO PAY-PER-VIEW. I appreciate them only doing this 115 times this year, a pace well behind last year’s record total of infinity.
The backstage followup started off iffy as well, with Charly gunning for an Oscar nomination by acting like she can’t say “Alexa Bliss made jokes about how you’re old,” and Mickie acting all hurt about it. This is some “you got the shampoo commercial I wanted” levels of booking. It got better when she started talking about her kid, though, and I can’t totally hate on a segment where Mickie’s Virginia accent takes center stage. Alexa called her a “grimmaw!”
Best: “NOT TODAY LITTLE SASHA BOSS!”
Alicia Fox is always a fine mixture of “great” and “terrible.” I don’t really know how to put it. She’s like Raul Julia in Street Fighter. What she’s doing is objectively crappy, but in context, she seems like she’s the only one who gets how campy this is. She loses a quick match to Sasha Banks, then attacks her backstage to set up a match with Sasha Banks.
I’m giving it a Best for Alicia’s nearly inhuman attempts at trash talking, for her use of the deadly BACKSTAGE CLANGY POLES, and that incredibly acted confrontation with the referee. He’s like WHAT ARE YOU DOING, WHAT ARE YOU DOING and she shoves him, so he sits on the ground doing the same gestures he was doing standing while yelling WHAT ARE YOU DOING, WHAT ARE YOU DOING. They were like, “just improvise” and he nailed it.
Real quick, though: why was Alicia still complaining about not having a shirt? Did she not like that bad early-90s animated film for adults shit they put on Shop?
Final Question: Is Anybody Ready For Asuka?
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Week
I hope they come back from commercial and Axel’s being driven off in a herse, and the Shield are just fidgeting around like they were pre-commercial.
“This Sunday at TLC I will send Roman to hell! Once I pass the relevant legislation!” – Kane
Senator Kane getting involved is just another example of government overreaching their boundaries.
The Real Birdman
I like to think continuity is alive and well and that The Shield didn’t beat down Axel, but he stepped in a snare trap Baron Corbin set up on that forklift for Dean Ambrose
“I don’t know how to tell you this, Miz. Curtis suffered a pink belly, two purple nurples, a 3rd degree indian sunburn and repeated noogies. He is in no condition to wrestle”
Berbadurrr has pinned the perrpadeeerp
Curtis: “Look at me, Mike, I’m hung”
Miz, laughing through his tears: “He’s going to be OK. He’s going to be OK!”
Remember kids, it’s India before Echo, except after Charlie.
Curtis texts “I lived bitch” to Braun from the hospital
This Sunday, Sister Abigail walks out, flanked with Rowan and Harper in skeleton costumes.
I’M BRAY-VID S. PUMPKINS!
That’s it for this week.
Join Us At Tables Ladders And Chairs Pay-Per-View™ For
- The Shield having a match against like 15 guys for a reason we’ve forgotten
- some matches we came up with this afternoon
- Alexa Bliss fighting Grimmaw
- A big piece of candy corn fighting a spooky Grimmaw in what I hope is a haunted house with a ghost tractor
- Emma getting kicked so hard she starts dancing with a pink snake puppet again
Drop a comment and share the column on your Facebook and Twitter gimmick and we’ll see you this Sunday.