The Best And Worst Of WWE Raw 10/30/17: Garbage Fail Kids

Previously on the Best and Worst of Raw: Smackdown Live put Raw “hashtag under siege,” which means they put on matching t-shirts and suckerpunched everyone backstage 30-on-1 to prove dominance a month before a match between shows owned by the same parent brand that air on different nights and trade talent pretty regularly with nothing at stake. Since then it’s been a week of, “I hope nobody attacks again!”

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Here’s the Best and Worst of WWE Raw for October 30, 2017.

A Night Of Returns

Let’s handle these in descending order from — get this — Best to Worst.

Most importantly, we have the return of Samoa Joe, who’s been out of action since the week after SummerSlam. His return is treated (at least momentarily) like a big deal, with a pre-match promo that turns the “welcome back” response against the fans and promises as much blood and destruction as Samoa Joe can deliver without a machete on a TV-PG show.

He has a match with Apollo Crews that’s fine, but frankly Crews shouldn’t have gotten shit for offense. Joe’s promo set him up as a raging fire, and then he’s gotta go move-for-move with the third worst dude in Titus Worldwide? Not that Crews and Joe shouldn’t be equals and have a great match in a vacuum, but it’s a lot like Emma/Asuka in a way … you can’t say LOOK AT THIS PERSON, THEY’RE ABOUT TO DESTROY EVERYTHING IN THEIR PATH, and then have them struggle for a few minutes against one of your (talent be damned) lowest-tier characters.

Still, welcome back, Joe. Enjoy being part of the nighmarish Murderers Row the Raw Survivor Series team should end up being.

In other great news, precious Illuminati snowflake Bo Dallas is back, having finally defeated the mystery disease he got when the master race of lizard people put too much fluoride in his Cheerwine.

Smackdown General Manager and caught-in-the-crossfire granola dad Daniel Bryan returned to Raw for the first time in a while to try to apologize to Kurt Angle for what happened with Hashtag Under Siege. Just to say it, the image of Daniel Bryan and Kurt Angle on screen at the same time made a big exclamation point pop up over my head like I saw Solid Snake in my house. That’s one of the all-time dream matches that can never happen, because of the most ridiculous cross-section of time and circumstance.

They quickly put that good will in a wheelchair and pushed it off a stage by having Bryan semi-no-sell the lights going out on him while he’s on the phone, being only mildly upset that he’s been locked in a dark room on Raw with only the phone light and a camera man there to illustrate, and then being (1) attacked by Kane because reasons and (2) chokeslammed in the dark. And the primetime Emmy for creative blocking goes to …

I’m not sure what took the shine off this more, Bryan being carried out on a gurney after shadow bumping, or Kurt’s G.I. Joe-quality RED ALERT RED ALERT SMACKDOWN IS HERE walkie-talkie freakout. I haven’t seen acting that good since Shane Dawson got tasered by that security guard in Not Cool.

We also got the return of Nia Jax, back from Speculation City to pin Bayley and join Alicia Fox’s presumably heel Survivor Series squad. It was fine, and a nice way to reintroduce and refocus Jax after a few weeks off. They got about seven minutes, too, so at least Bayley got to shine a little before eating leg.

Also, shout-out to Alicia Fox for re-contextualizing her random-ass sailor suit into a “captain” uniform for Survivor Series.

This week’s worst return goes to Stephanie McMahon. As you know, Stephanie segments are a real roll of the dice. Sometimes she shows up as a fun, charming, engaging character doing fun work that enhances the show. She’s legitimately a huge presence and, when she’s at her best, the closest anyone’s ever going to get to Vince without being Vince. She’s wrestling royalty. And then sometimes she’s just the butt-worst, her character seemingly existing only to make the show about her at the expense of everyone else, and not in the “she’s a great bad guy” kind of way. In an, “I went through a table once six months ago so the show’s gotta be misery for everyone involved for like two years” kind of way. In that way where “snipping balls” doesn’t quite express it.

I’m not sure what I was expecting, but the Raw vs. Smackdown rivalry happening because it was announced to happen with no real prize or point is now about Stephanie vs. Shane, McMahon vs. McMahon, sister vs. brother. ME vs. HIM WHO IS ALSO LIKE ME. Now it’s not that Smackdown is the heels and Raw is the faces, it’s that Shane and Stephanie exist above heel or face as awful, comically inhuman tycoon characters who channel Vince McMahon’s goofy, Trumpish rage without 10% of his focus. They’re just raging to rage, condemning folks to brutal beatings at their hands and still dancing around the ring in custom baseball jerseys they had made specifically for the event. It’s phony as fuck, and WWE at its worst.

Which, again, sucks the most because both Shane and Stephanie, Steph especially, are incredible when they aren’t being crammed into a Vince-shaped hole. Or a hole shaped to please Vince. Or something that sounds less gross. You know what I’m trying to say.

Long story short, Stephanie returns just to emasculate Kurt Angle, a guy who ended last week’s show being emasculated by a McMahon, and explaining that Smackdown’s attack was about her. Now if Raw doesn’t win the Survivor Series match the way she wants, she’s firing Kurt. Also Kurt is the team captain now. They even do a followup in the parking lot where she’s browbeating him and he’s like “yes’m.” Remember when Raw had a big match coming up and Stephanie was like, “if you don’t win you’re all fired,” and then they didn’t win, and nobody was fired? I guess we’re doing that every year.

There was one more return that simultaneously counts as both the very worst and very best, but we’ll save that for the end so I don’t have to end the column with, “Alexa Bliss won her match with a punch.”

Best: RIP Stacie Cullen

Now that Emma is gone, Dana Brooke is still sprinting through Wisconsin and the rest of the Raw women’s division is battling for spots in the Survivor Series elimination match, Asuka is freed up to kick the living Jesus Fuck out of people on television for fun and profit. Poor jobber “Stacie Cullen” wrestles this thing like she hasn’t finished her tattoos OR her training.

If you’re wondering, Cullen is indie wrestler Kasey Catal, and she takes a great beating. I think the only offensive move she manages is a back elbow to escape a waistlock that doesn’t even kinda connect but still earns her some Inoki-style respect slaps and an Asuka Lock.

Good stuff, and probably more in line with what WWE should do when they want a new person to look violently impressive.

Best: Finally, Somebody Spelled Soft Correctly

Other than Asuka beating the soul out of a stranger and the ridiculous Garbage T-1000 ending, the highlight of Raw might’ve been Drew Gulak (officially?) replacing Big Cass as Enzo’s associate mouthpiece. Spelling out “soft” correctly is amazing, sure, but his read of “YEAH MAN, THAT’S RIGHT” is still cracking me up. Dude is breaking new ground in the field of whiteness. He somehow removes seasoning from plain food. Brother is so white he makes Christopher Nowinski look and sound like Ahmed Johnson.

A supplemental Worst for everything after the intro, though, as Gulak loses to El Hijo del Jumpin’ Jeff Farmer Kalisto in sixty seconds. Womp womp. And then Enzo attacks Kalisto to keep that feud going. WOMP AND ADDITIONAL WOMP.

Best: Miz For Worker Of The Year

Also worth watching from this week’s show is The Miz defending the Intercontinental Championship against Matt Hardy. Hardy’s clearly on his last legs as an in-ring performer — thanks, 20 years of getting gorilla pressed from the ring to the floor and dropped upside down onto ladders! — but he still knows what he’s doing, and paired with a guy like Miz they can actually make a match more engaging and more exciting by slowing it down and telling a story. Which, you know, is the thing WWE is always saying they’re doing.

This felt like a house show match, kind of, in the best definition of that. With Miz vs. Corbin coming up, the heel vs. heel alignment casts some doubt to the title defenses, as you’re like, “oh, maybe it’ll be Matt Hardy vs. Corbin, that’d be heel vs. face and make more sense.” I’m like, 90% convinced Corbin’s losing the United States Championship to Sin Cara for no reason just to give Miz somebody to murk at the pay-per-view.

And as we’ve been saying for a while now, Miz is straight-up the best all-around performer on the show. If you’ve seen him absolutely drag Baron Corbin on Twitter, you know he’s the best off it, too. More Intercontinental Championship matches like this, please. Miz can accomplish what Cena accomplished with the United States Championship without the “look at the great thing *I’M* doing” vibe that came along with it, and that’s … some complimentary adjective. Probably one starting with “a.”

Worst: Baltimore

You know, I can’t outright blame the crowd for the Trick or Street Fight not working, but these matches live or die by the crowd’s acceptance of them. If you’re okay with Damien Sandow getting thrown into a Christmas tree or whatever, WWE’s holiday hardcore matches are GREAT. Especially when they feature Southpaw Regional Wrestling characters and Rhyno dressed as Mrs. Claus. 99% sure they were like “wait, do you have costumes you can wear during this” and the Good Brothers had theirs, but Rhyno and Slater were like, “do what now,” and Christmas shit is all the crew had available. Because the three things a WWE crew never leaves home without are a Santa suit, a Sherlock Holmes costume, and a bunch of free-standing, clangy poles.

The crowd, though, man. Woof. They were doing “what” chants to Kurt Angle like 30 seconds into the first promo of the night. They chanted “CM Punk” during the main event, didn’t even get hype for the post-main stuff until the very end, and they no-sold the majority of two Santa Clauses beating up Tex Ferguson and Chad 2 Badd. I haven’t been this disappointed in Baltimore since every Orioles season after 1983.

Worst: So You’ve Decided To Give Kane A Push

Last week, Kane pinned Finn Bálor clean. Kane. This week, he shows up after Finn’s match with Cesaro to Tombstone him on the stage. If Finn was hoping to look good by defeating Cesaro, at least he got to experience it for like 20 seconds before being shut down again.

Later in the show, Kane returns and not only pins Seth Rollins, he revives during the post-match to beat up Dean Ambrose. This is two Raws after re-debuting by beating up Roman Reigns so bad we haven’t seen him for weeks. Kane. And then of course there’s the backstage segment, where he locks himself in a room with Daniel Bryan and turns off the lights just to chokeslam him in the dark.

So Kane … again, Kane, has in just four shows attacked, humiliated and pinned Finn Bálor clean, taken out the entire Shield, thrown Braun Strowman to his death in a garbage truck and sent Daniel Bryan to the hospital. How many of those people I just named would you rather see doing ANYTHING than getting fed to Kane?

If you watched WCW back in the day, you may recognize this as the “Meng Push.” Meng was great, but he was a jobber to the stars most of the time. But then sometimes they’d overpower him to the point that nothing could stop him, not even wooden chairs, and he’d run through like half the roster for no reason just to impressively lose to someone later. WCW would be like, “hey smarks, like Chris Benoit? Watch him LOSE TO MENG in 90 SECONDS!” Eventually someone would beat Meng, and he’d return to his normal power levels, only to repeat the process like a year and a half later.

That’s Kane right now. He’s Menging up until they feed him to Braun, or maybe Roman. Remember when he was a comedy therapy tag team guy and then out of nowhere he was Jason Voorhees, hunting and trying to murder Daniel Bryan and Brie Bella? We’ve been through this before, and we’ll probably go through it again. Vince McMahon is as Vince McMahon does.

Worst: Jason Jordan Is Still A Total Dick

WWE is a place where you have to be heartless and weird and mean to succeed. Eventually I’m going to come to terms with it. Probably in my late 40s. I’ll be like, “Bayley stabbed Izzy in the neck with a pair of scissors but that’s what she gets for calling Bayley a dummy once.” It’ll be fine.

The Elias vs. Jason Jordan feud continues with Elias singing a song about how Jason Jordan sucks, and Jordan showing up to break his guitar. It’s one of those things that would work if Jordan had any physical charisma or connection to the crowd whatsoever, or had some sort of character that made the situation work. Elias won’t stop needling him and trying to bash him to death with guitars. The announce team won’t stop fussing at each other about how their commentary during Jason Jordan matches is terrible. Everybody involved is garbage, I guess? Are we supposed to cheer for anyone here, or are we supposed to feel like we stumbled across a bum fight?

Alexa Bliss Defeated Mickie James With A Punch

Remember when Mickie James and Alexa Bliss had an outstanding match at TLC built on Mickie’s desire to prove she’s still relevant, Alexa’s cowardly defensive offense and early match limb-work that psychologically paid off not once but twice during the finishing sequence?

They had a rematch on Raw. Alexa won with a punch. A punch.

Finally This Week We Have Braun Strowman Rising From A Garbage Truck Grave To Attack The Miztourage In A Six-Camera Backstage Segment


Early in the show, The Miz discovers a bag of trash in his room. It’s a Tell-tale Heart situation I guess, because he takes this to mean that Braun Strowman, the man he and his friends murdered in the garbage at TLC, is back to enact revenge. Because rooms only have garbage bags in them if you killed a guy with a truck like he was The Shredder and he’s back to kill you.

Kurt Angle refuses to let The Miz and his young boys leave the arena before the show is over because they arrived late. Please don’t notice the McMahon or John Cena arrival/departure schedule, Kurt. At the end of the night, like half a dozen cameras follow them into the parking lot to watch them leave. When suspicious camera angles occur on WWE TV, you know some pre-taped nonsense is about to happen.

Sure enough, their way out is blocked by — get this — a garbage truck. TENSION MOUNTS. Three grown adult men can’t figure out how to work two car doors and begin SCREAMING FOR THEIR LIVES because a garbage truck has backed up and is dumping empty cardboard boxes on the limo hood. Then, in quite possibly the most ridiculous moment I’ve seen in wrestling this year — and that is really, really, really saying something — this happens:

Yes folks, Braun Strowman is now ONE WITH THE GARBAGE.

Did … did Strowman live in the garbage truck for the last eight days, eating whatever was in those cardboard boxes? Is that why they’re empty? Did he transfer from his white garbage truck to a completely different red one? Is that how the garbage truck transit system works? Because dude was dying in a trash compactor and managed to travel from Minnesota to Baltimore. And why is he so CLEAN? I have so many questions.

So Strowman comically rises from a trash grave, comically runs across the top of a limo like Babe Ruth running in fast forward from old baseball highlights, then beats everyone up on the stage just to comically toss them down the ramp. He then delivers four (4) running powerslams to Curtis Axel, who did less than nothing to him. Ax gets one through the announce table, and that’s the end of the show.

To recap, this show featured:

  • Stephanie McMahon returning to make Kurt Angle look like shit, then booking him as the team captain of her show
  • Kane beating up Finn Bálor, Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose and Daniel Bryan
  • Rhyno dressed as a Christmas lady, pinning a character from a chicken commercial while the guy had a pumpkin stuck on his head
  • Braun Strowman revealing that he’s a living garbage monster a la Fraggle Rock just to elaborately get the jump on Curtis Axel

Raw, everybody.

Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Week


**Curtis Axel wakes up, three weeks later**
“At least I still haven’t been eliminated from the 2015 Royal Rumble!”


“I want Raw to win, so I’m going to punish you by making you wrestle at Survivor Series instead of letting you get 5 younger, healthier, more able bodied wrestlers to do it.” Yep, that logic tracks for Steph

Baron Von Raschke

Steph just told her limo driver to make a U-turn so she can go back to the arena and emasculate Daniel Bryan.


Big Cass: “So that’s how you spell soft.”


My name is Drew Gulak and I’m whiter than a nordic winter, and you can’t teach that.

Budda bip! Please don’t flip! How are you doing?


Kurt: “You can’t leave early.”
Miz: “But, I already had my match, there’s literally no reason for me to remain here.”
Kurt: “Don’t make me call Stephanie.”
Miz: “OK, I’ll stay.”

Mark Silletti

Curtis Axel is the jock who gets killed early because he doesn’t believe there’s really a killer at those campgrounds

The lights come up and Undertaker, Kane, the Boogeyman, Aleister Black, Velveteen Dream, Gangrel, Bray, Braun and the Bludgeon Brothers are all crammed unto Kurt’s couch

Ja Gi Kyung-Moon

Daniel Bryan: I wonder if I should press charges against RAW.
Jamie Noble: Do you really want to relive your attack in court?

Mr. Bliss

Pushing Kane in 2017 feels like the business equivalent of opening a beanie baby stand…in 2017

That’s the show.

In conclusion,

Drop us a comment to let us know what you thought of the show — no, seriously — and share the column on your various social media platforms to help us out. And hey, be here next week when we find out Braun Strowman has gained the ability to toss banana peels like he’s a Mario Kart.