The Best And Worst Of WWE Raw 10/2/17: Shields Up

Previously on the Best and Worst of Raw: This has nothing to do with Raw, but can you believe that Hell in a Cell is on Sunday? No, it seriously is. Huh.

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Here’s the Best and Worst of WWE Raw for October 2, 2017.

Best: Hossfit

First of all, +1 to Raw for starting with a match again. That’s a delightful trend that needs to continue.

Secondly, I really liked what Braun Strowman and Seth Rollins did with the opener. Before the show, this is what I wrote in the open discussion thread:

After losing to Brock Lesnar and beating up the two worst guys on the show last week, let’s hope Braun Strowman gets a strong win over Rollins. Rollins doesn’t really need it right now, so it’d be nice to see him lose to a guy like Braun without having to have a bunch of people interfere for or against him.

Amazingly, and against trend, this is exactly what happened. Rollins and Strowman had a competitive match that played up the acrobat vs. powerhouse styles — sorry, WWE Champions has rotted my brain — and made Strowman look strong as hell and like a top-level competitor again without making Rollins look weak. They got about 10 minutes, and while it wasn’t an instant classic or anything, it was certainly entertaining. Plus, ahoy hoy, Strowman got a clean win with a running powerslam.

I also enjoyed how the post-match attack was laid out. Strowman has something to prove now, so he pins Rollins clean, but it’s not enough. He tries to powerslam him again, so Good Brother Dean Ambrose runs out to stop him. And Ambrose is able to get in some good offense on him, but ultimately Rollins is still a non-factor, so it’s one-on-one. With Braun Strowman, that should only ever go one way. Ambrose gets eaten up, but he doesn’t look like a total chump about it. And now 2/3 of the Shield have a reason to need backup … they’ve still got The Bar nipping at their asses, and Braun Strowman is trying to murder them.

Best: Roman Reigns, Smart Bad-Ass

Want to know how to get people to stop booing the shit out of Roman Reigns? Have him (1) be friends with his old friends, who the crowd likes, and help them do things, and (2) have him stop cutting long-winded promos that make him sound like a doofus and do the cool, smart shit he used to do as the mitochondria of The Shield.

This week, we took a major step in BOTH of those directions. Firstly, The Miz and the Miztourage do a Shield entrance through the crowd, which is perfectly Miz and wonderful. Miz is supposed to defend the Intercontinental Championship against Roman Reigns, so what does Roman do? He goes outside the ring before the match starts and beats Miz’s friends to death with a steel chair. It’s a smart move, and Miz has to stand there making upset shocked faces because Roman decided to be smart for the first time in ages. With Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel removed, Reigns gets a fair, one-on-one match with The Miz.

It’s really good while it lasts, too. Roman has always been underrated as an in-ring performer, even when the stupid shit of his character gets all over everything, and The Miz’s wrestling has managed to catch up with his personality again.

The Bar shows up to drag Roman out of the ring, so things end inconclusively, but at least we got some good wrestling before the post-match. While I’m not totally down with Dallas and Axel being Piper’s Familied out of the match (and think they could really use a match like this to not look totally worthless), adding Cesaro and Sheamus ups the match quality tenfold and gives us a heel side that matches what you need if we’re doing a Shield reunion match. They need a team that can hang with them. Those babyface hodge-podge tags they did all the time were fine, but the best matches they ever had were against cohesive units, like the Wyatt Family and Evolution.

Best: Bringing It All Together

Oh, here’s a third rule for making people cheer Roman Reigns: don’t let him talk.

Raw gets a stinger, a la Lucha Underground, for the first time I can remember. I’m sure they’ve done it a lot with “here’s an announcement for NEXT WEEK” or “look who’ll be here NEXT WEEK,” but this was an actual stinger for the content of the show we just watched. This is the first time Raw’s had a stinger since Night of Champions 2015!

But yeah, Roman is upset that he was smart and still got jumped and Shield powerbombed by a bunch of jerks. He’s approached (silently) by Dean Ambrose, who is his good brother, and then by Seth Rollins, who is less so. They exchange a series of nonverbal cues, and the segment says EVERYTHING IT NEEDED TO without ANY of them awkwardly setting it up with dialogue. People are calling them out and they need backup, and they know there’s no better backup in the world than each other, for better or worse. DO THIS MORE OFTEN, GUYS, THIS WAS GREAT.


(Also, oh my God Roman is going to turn on them so hard at TLC.)

Worst: Since I Just Complimented Raw A Bunch, Let’s Talk About The Most Embarrassing Thing I’ve Ever Seen In My Fucking Life

Here’s the Bray Wyatt vs. Finn Bálor story, if you haven’t been watching:

  • Bray Wyatt pinned Finn Bálor on Raw
  • For the rematch, Finn became The Demon and pinned Bray Wyatt
  • Wyatt challenged Finn to fight him as “the man” and not the Demon, which they already did, but whatever
  • Finn Bálor pins Bray Wyatt as himself
  • Bray Wyatt keeps haunting him for some reason and now claims that Finn wasn’t actually a man in that match, I guess because he wore grey trunks instead of black? I don’t know.
  • Now Bray is challenging Finn to a match with Finn as The Demon, which they’ve already done, because HE wants to be a demon now, too

That leads to Bray, after all this time and after all these failed fantasy bookings, saying that Sister Abigail is real and that she’s coming for Finn. Then, because Bray Wyatt is the most embarrassing of all the wrestlers, he “turns into” Sister Abigail or something, which consists of him putting black around his eyes and putting a sheet over his head. Motherfucker looks like Charlie Brown headed out to trick or treat.

I’m hoping that Bray Wyatt dresses up like a granny or a haunted-ass child from a Japanese horror film to wrestle Finn at TLC, but there’s also a chance that they’ll give the role to a new female call-up. In fact, Mae Young Classic competitor and the old wiseman who decides the baseball card prices Sage Beckett is already teasing it on her Twitter. So who knows? Maybe they’ll split the difference and have Erick Rowman show up like Norman Bates’ Bray Wyatt’s mom.

Worst: Piggy James, But Now She’s Old Instead Of Fat

I know it’s mostly supposed to be the taunting of heel characters and not something we’re supposed to believe, but remember when they did an entire angle where the heels called Mickie James fat over and over and then she got fired? They’re doing that again, except now instead of calling an incredibly fit lady fat, they’re calling a woman in her 30s “old” over and over. And yeah, I know WWE tends to chew women up and spit them out by the time they’re 30, but WWE needs to get with their own revolution. Mickie’s 38 years old. But Asuka is 36, and she’s about to be brand-spanking new on Raw. Mickie wrestles Nia Jax, who is 33, so it’s not really a wacky age gap. It’s like Samoa Joe wrestling Kevin Owens. Why would you even care if WWE wasn’t constantly pointing it out?

As it stands, Mickie is 38 and Alexa Bliss is 26. If Nakamura wrestles Rich Swann, are you gonna build the angle about how old Nakamura is? Because it’s the same age difference. It’s just dumb, you know? It’s a weird booking figment of a terrible booking imagination that supposedly got thrown in the garbage years ago. It’s especially regressive because come on, what’re the chances of Mickie getting any kind of revenge on Alexa? I know it’s a double standard and there’s nothing we can do about it, so you don’t need to explain. Let’s just hope she doesn’t get fired this time for being too old.

The actual match had a pretty good story behind it — Mickie proving that she wasn’t over the hill, and hanging with/almost defeating the division’s monster and Alexa’s bodyguard who I guess forgot they’d stopped being friends and are proceeding as if nothing happened — but it was pretty sloppy. Sometimes Mickie is weirdly terrified to land on her back during a tornado DDT, or the DDT she used to use as her finish, so she’ll land on a bent knee and it’s the most awkward looking shit.

I’m hoping for something more than this as we head into TLC, and God bless them for not only trying to give Mickie something resembling a push but allowing the women’s division to be a little more diverse than the NXT crew, but I also know we’re in the holdiest of holding patterns waiting for Asuka to show up. So it is what it is.

Best: At Least Alicia Fox Is Great

Don’t get me wrong, this match is borderline terrible and goes on for way too long, but Alicia Fox was the real MVP. There’s something wonderful about her shuffling her feet in glee as she’s waiting for Mickie James to discover her adult diapers, or lying down on the apron and kicking her foot out to keep the faces from coming around the corner and getting to her during the match. Foxy is forever underrated, I think.

But yeah, the entire thing is just to set up Emma walking out on Fox, and Fox taking a pin from Bayley. Seriously, there was no need for this to be like 12 minutes long. “Getting time” for matches isn’t a good thing if you don’t have a good use for the time. This could’ve gotten five and accomplished the same thing. I reserve the right to retroactively Best all of this if it turns out Emma’s search for a partner who appreciates her role in starting the women’s revolution ends with her tagging with Paige.

And The Rest

Titus O’Neil wrestled Elias, and the most notable thing I can say about it is that Elias has apparently learned how to play an Alice in Chains song on his guitar. He should keep that going and start feuding with Terry Taylor, just to say he’s come to snuff the rooster.

The Club defeats Jason Jordan and Matt Hardy. It’s a perfectly cromulent wrestling match, but it never really picks up or vibes with the crowd or changes at all, so it mostly only serves to highlight that (1) we are really not buying the Jason Jordan thing, and (2) Matt Hardy is never as good without Jeff. Don’t @ me, I loved Version 1 as much of the next guy but he had Shannon Moore as a Ersatz Jeff, and Broken Matt didn’t get great until Brother Nero supplemented it.

Are we giving Gallows and Anderson some wins so they can give a rub to the two sixty-year olds they’re fighting at an untelevised house show for a brand they don’t work for?

Best/Worst: Enz-Oh No

Enzo Amore ends the show by talking and talking and talking and talking, and I’ll give him this: even though they had him deliver a 60,000 word essay about how literally every person in the cruiserweight division sucks, it kept me interested. For all his flaws and his brutal on-screen personality, Enzo’s a legitimately great talker. And you know? I think this segment could’ve worked if they’d used the “everybody touched me so nobody in the division can touch me again or get a title shot so I’m flawless victory champion forever” to build to Angle appearing, announcing the newest signing in the division, and that guy kicking Enzo’s ass. The only hook is that it needed to be someone who got us excited.

There were a lot of options here. You could’ve gone with someone we’d never seen before, like Lio Rush. You could’ve picked someone from the Cruiserweight Classic who didn’t sign, like — and I’m totally dreaming here, so don’t think I expect it to happen — Zack Sabre or Kota Ibushi. You could’ve called up one of the myriad of NXT guys who make it under the 205 limit. Imagine the pop if it’d been Johnny Gargano. Hideo Itami’s like 180 pounds. Aleister Black is billed at 205. Imagine ALEISTER BLACK showing up with his candles and shit and ruining Enzo’s life. You could’ve even drawn from the list of pre-existing main roster WWE Superstars who make billed weight that fans love. Sami Zayn’s a good example. He’s billed at 205. Tyler Breeze is 206. Chad Gable’s 203. Where’s Sin Cara? Bring back Evan Bourne. Bring in X-Pac, for crying out loud, he’s back in the game. Hell, let Asuka show up and torch him. Or Jazzy Gabert. Or Angle himself, I don’t care, just anybody, anybody who gets a reaction out of the crowd.

Instead we have this guy, who found a discarded Drago costume in the dumpster he got thrown into.

And just to say it real quick, I give an absolute Best, Best Best Best to Kalisto in the cruiserweight division. It’s such a no-brainer and I’ve been asking for it since the damn Cruiserweight Classic started. There was no reason to not have him and Neville in that mix from the beginning.

But man, is there a LESS exciting way to announce he’s in the division than by building up the crowd for 10 minutes in a main-event segment and having your division’s best talker run down every possible competitor, even the ones like Mustafa Ali who rule but you haven’t given any love to yet, just for the big reveal of Kalisto doing lucha arms to his Power Rangers music? It would’ve been 1000 times easier to handle and enjoy if they’d done it in the middle of the show, and not boosted it up like it was must-see.

It’s somehow more maddening when they do a thing you’ve been begging them to do for months at the worst possible time in the worst way and makes you wish you hadn’t. It’s Raw Superstar Kalisto, signed to Raw! And the show that Raw owns, I guess! If Enzo beats Kalisto, does the division just remain dormant? Just have him be a guy in the division and do cool stuff, guys. Also, why would Kurt Angle sign a document saying nobody can touch the champion or they’re fired? What does he have to gain from protecting Enzo? Just logistically maddening.

Still, I really enjoyed the show this week, and if it’d been in a 2-hour format with the cruiserweight bit in the middle, the women’s tag axed, the Good Brothers tag Hulu’d out of existence and the Elias bit kept to a song, it would’ve been great. Still, I continue to be in shock at how much more I’m enjoying Raw than Smackdown.

Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Week

Clay Quartermain

Watch Sister Abigail actually turn out be the Young Bucks, who have been catfishing Bray Wyatt online for years

Sister Abigail finally shows up at TLC and gets immediately trucked by Asuka


“Emma and Dana Brooke are gonna get back together!”
(Alicia Fox enters)
“You raised my hopes and dashed them quite expertly, sir. Bravo.”


Roman: “Lets rejoin forces and take out the Miz.”
Dean: “No, thanks.”
Roman: “What?!”
Seth: “We’re going in a different direction?”
Roman: “What’s better than the Shield?!”

(next Monday Night)

(radio static)
Seth: “Sierra!”
Dean: “Hotel!”
Braun: “BRAUN!”
Seth: “Echo!”
Dean: “Lima!”
Braun: “BRAUN!”


Dave M J

Totally calling them BarMizfah, by the way.


What do you know? A segment involving my favorite heel, my favorite wrestler, and Beaker’s Cousin was great.

Harry Longabaugh

ANDERSON: Pretty great that WWE’s legal team protects our intellectual property.
MATT: …I’m sorry what?!?

The Real Birdman

Now would be a great time for Raw to steal SDL’s picture in picture but instead of commercials, it’s just Alexa on the big screen & the match on the small


Miz being excited about having strong friends is delightful.

AJ Dusman

Happy Death Day is about someone who seemingly dies, just to come back to life and be forced to die again. It should just be called, “WWE Fan Watches Monday Night Raw Every Week”

That’s it for this week, folks. Join us here this Sunday for [checks notes] Hell in a Cell.

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