Previously on the Best and Worst of WWE Raw: It was an eventful night, featuring an Intercontinental Championship defense and Braun Strowman powerslamming Big Show through a cage wall. This week … not those things!
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Here’s the Best and Worst of Raw for September 11, 2017.
Best/Worst: On-Screen Performance Evaluations
Up first this week is Roman Reigns vs. Jason Jordan, another good-to-great showing for Jangle that shows he can hang with Raw’s elite and plays off Roman’s comments from last week that it took John Cena “over 20 minutes” to beat a rookie. It was actually about 12 minutes, and it takes Reigns a little over 15, which suits the ongoing story of “Roman Reigns has no balls and isn’t right about anything.”
That’s where the performance evaluations come in. Cena shows up again, screams in Roman’s face about how he’s constantly failing, then drops a line about how he’s a drug test, and how Roman “ain’t getting past him.” And while I really enjoyed the OH KNOW HE DIDN’T vibe of the first promo, we’re three deep and nothing’s changing. Cena’s still 100% right, Roman’s not getting any workable material even if he could deliver promos like The Rock, and it feels more like someone in the front office screaming criticisms at an employee they need to motivate a la a high school gym coach.
Think about it. We’ve gotten confirmation that these aren’t “shoot” promos, they’re carefully laid out and knowing in their intent. So why are the best things Roman’s getting to say, “you a lil’ bitch,” and, “you can’t make it in Hollywood?” The Hollywood line would’ve worked a couple of years ago, when we weren’t constantly bombarded with news bits about how Cena might be the lead in a DC comics movie and how he has his own cartoonand how he’s gonna be in the new Knight Rider and how he’s ersatz Marky Mark in the next Transformers. For dueling promos like this to work, both guys have to be “right” from their point of view. Cena/Rock was about how Cena thought Rock was a part-timer who didn’t love the business and just used it as a stop gap between football and acting, and how Rock thought Cena was a cornball, budget version of an Attitude Era guy for babies. What’s this feud about? Roman Reigns thinks he’s got value, and Cena came over to Raw via free agency just to kick him in the dick every week?
I hope Reigns spears Cena so hard at No Mercy that dude explodes like someone stuffed a grenade down his jorts. Better yet, I hope Cena WINS at No Mercy, and Reigns retires him at WrestleMania. How great would it be if Dr. Manhattan-ass “tired of being caught in the tangle of their lives” Roman Reigns retired the most WWE guys of their respective generations a year apart and just yelled SUCK A DICK, DUMBSHITS at us for the rest of his life?
The second (and better) of this week’s public evaluations is Enzo Amore getting ethered by The Miz for interrupting the announcement that Miz and Maryse are having a baby. It’s funny, we’re currently in the middle of the Goldust/Brian Pillman angle from 1997 over in the vintage Best and Worst of Raw colum, and the parallels to this are noticeable. A family man with a history of heeling tries to make an announcement and gets interrupted by a scrappy, bug-eyed blonde guy with a gravely voice who hits on his wife, challenges him to a fight and says the baby is actually his. Except, you now, Pillman was a super heel and Enzo’s just the living oxymoron of a popular guy who’s impossible to like.
Miz’s rundown of Enzo once again felt less like a back-and-forth promo and more like a boss screaming at their employee. I’m still trying to figure out if Miz is supposed to secretly be the Voice of the Voiceless or whatever, because he routinely (and regularly) airs pretty much every grievance jerks like me type in columns like this. Plus, Enzo doesn’t really have a comeback of any kind, because Miz is right. It’s like:
Miz: you’re worthless and everybody hates you
Enzo: HOW YOU DOIN
Miz: you’ve never had any success in this company because you’re bad at your job and even your tag team partner got sick of hanging out with you
Enzo: [does dance]
Miz: you constantly make mistakes, you’re nothing but a con artist with a couple of catchphrases
Enzo: OH YEAH, WELL [catchphrase] AND [second catchphrase] AND NOTHING ELSE
It’s rough. But on the bright side, it ends like every single Enzo angle not involving the cruiserweights ends: with everyone in the room beating the shit out of him for being the worst character on the show. Neville even laughs at him backstage, and I swear to God if that pay-per-view match isn’t Asuka vs. Liv Morgan with the guys swapped in, I will have less interest in the cruiserweights.
Speaking of that,
What We Did Inside The Purple Ropes This Week
Best: Nobody Is Ready For Asuka
The Asuka promo video is so good that it necessitated a second backstage segment of people standing around watching it.
I really hope they acknowledge Asuka’s histories with Nia Jax and Bayley, build to a big match Sasha Banks and do the “Shawn Michaels warns whoever’s facing the Undertaker at WrestleMania that it’s hard to beat the Undertaker at WrestleMania” bit. Bayley and Nia just shuffling up to Sasha all, “hey, so you should probably stop, Asuka could kick you in the torso once and turn you into a freestanding pile of bones.”
As for Sasha herself, man, I don’t know how to fix the situation they’re in.
They run Sasha Banks vs. Emma on Raw, and all I could do was think about how much better this would’ve been like, three or four years ago on NXT. Both of these women have had their crowd responses surgically removed. Emma has been consistently booked like a total joke, except not right now, because she’s gotta be body #4 in a woman’s title match on a pay-per-view. There’s nothing behind it. And then you’ve got Sasha, who keeps being given the Raw Women’s Championship only to immediately lose it, cementing her as probably the worst champion they’ve ever had in any division. Even David Arquette held the WCW World Heavyweight Championship for 12 days.
The Tag Team Division Is Doing [Nothing]!
In this week’s open discussion thread we joked about how the vague, “what will happen next?” previews for everything meant the show would be mostly filler.
To illustrate that, here’s the tag team division content for the episode, which is the Teddy Long Smackdown opening in the middle of the show. Sheamus and Cesaro are supposed to face The Artists Formerly Known As The Club in a tag match with Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins on commentary. It turns out everyone just wants to brawl, so it doesn’t happen. The highlight is Ambrose bringing out a pair of binoculars to watch from the stage.
That sets up Anderson, Gallows, Sheamus and Cesaro teaming up for some reason to take on Ambrose, Rollins and two partners of their choosing. They tease adding Dean Malenko and Jamie Noble to the team, which would’ve been the greatest Raw moment of the year for like five reasons. Don’t you wanna see 57-year old, apparently 3-foot tall old man Dean Malenko butterfly suplexing Cesaro and Texas Cloverleafing him? It’d be like one of those Chikara World of Sport appearances, but on Raw.
Of course it’s the Hardys who step in as Ambrose and Rollins’ tag team partners, because there’s literally no one else available. Who were gonna be their partners, Cedric Alexander and Gran Metalik? Pfft, pfft, who wants to see that
So that gives us our main event, which is such a house show match I’m surprised they didn’t advertise it to the crowd as a reason to “stick around” until the end of a 205 Live. There’s no energy to it at all, they just go through the motions and have A Match™. I’ve seen Supercard matches with more going on.
And, of course, Karl Anderson takes the pin. There’s no way you could ever make money employing a bunch of Bullet Club guys, right? It’s not like the faction Anderson was a founding member of is so popular it got non-WWE wrestling shirts sold at the mall or anything.
Worst: A Specific Middle Finger To My Fandom
Do you ever watch these shows and feel like WWE specifically wrote a segment to piss you off? You, specifically?
Almost 20 Raws ago, Goldust finally broke out of the undercard jobber comedy team doldrums, beat up R-Truth, turned heel and brought back the classic Goldust persona. It’s something that’d needed to happen for YEARS. He got one (1) win over Truth several weeks of canned promos later, then disappeared. He got several more canned promos about how he was going to reveal his latest “masterpiece” at SummerSlam, but nothing happened. And then nothing kept happening. And when people asked him about it on Twitter, he’d joke that it “takes time.” And now here he is popping up on Raw again looking like Goldust classic, but wrestling like a sympathetic babyface. Because they needed a guy with paint to face Bray Wyatt.
Before the match, Bray Wyatt cuts a TitanTron promo. Then Bray and Goldust wrestle for two minutes and five seconds before Goldust loses straight-up to a Sister Abigail. After the match, Bray wipes off Goldust’s paint with a towel and screams about how he’s JUST A MAN. Did we ever think Goldust wasn’t an adult man? They’ve never been like, “LOOK, IT’S THE DEMON GOLDUST!”
So then Finn shows up, and Bray runs away. Anybody else noticed they’re doing this angle in reverse? They started with the Demon beating Bray and are working backwards.
To recap, this segment featured:
- a Bray Wyatt promo
- Goldust returning to Raw and everyone forgetting his character development
- Goldust getting squashed
- Goldust having his character humiliated in a way where you want it to be leading to something, but you literally just saw 20 weeks of a heel turn that actually happened completely forgotten because somebody changed their mind, so why would it go anywhere
- “Mind games”
The only way this could’ve been worse for me is if they’d put Bray in a shirt that said WE HATE YOU, BRANDON across the front and had him shake hands with a celebrity guest while Goldust fucked a bucket of chicken in the background.
When You Don’t Know What To Do With Anyone
Elias sings a song about how Anaheim sucks, Kalisto interrupts for some reason, and Elias easily beats him. This is such a “go out there and have a match” situation that it doesn’t even require analysis. What am I supposed to type, you know? That I liked Elias’ song? It’s always funny to hear a guy dedicate his entire songwriting career to hating every place he visits, but I can only type that so many times.
It’s getting into “I like battle royals” territory. WWE doesn’t know what to do with either of these guys, so they don’t do anything, but they do it in front of us. ¯_(ツ)_/¯
Best: Braun Strowman Forever
Brown Snowman and Bork Laser — original jokes, TM With Spandex 2017 do not reproduce — come to blows again, and once again Braun gets the best of him. He even gets to pull a Lio Rush and completely no-sell a German suplex in a moment that would’ve given the crowd a religious experience if it’d happened 20 years ago. It’s great, because Braun segments are almost always great, and I can’t wait to see them (hopefully) destroy the ring and everyone around it at No Mercy.
One thing, though … is this feeling like the Brock/Undertaker WrestleMania 30 build to anyone else? That whole cycle was about Brock being humiliated and getting his ass kicked. Taker even stabs him in the hand with an ink pen at one point. It contributed to that amazing, “WHAT” feeling when Brock went over at Mania. Are they trying to make us think Brock winning is a total lay-up, so we’re shocked with Strowman slams him and pins him at No Mercy? Are they going too far in the opposite direction of the SummerSlam build, which was about how Brock was OBVIOUSLY leaving for UFC, and then he wasn’t?
That gives us the main event (in hour two, where main events live now) of Strowman vs. Jay Landsman-looking-ass John Cena, the latest in Cena’s suspicious burn-through of all his remaining notable singles matches. We’ve seen Cena vs. Nakamura, Cena vs. Strowman and soon Cena vs. Reigns in the span of like a month. Either he’s bailing soon, or Monday Night Football has officially scared someone to death.
The match has its moments, particularly Braun’s dropkick, which is the greatest …
… but it’s also full of classic corny John Cena-at-his-worst shit like multiple stairs spots and an hilarious “I can’t pick him up!” Attitude Adjustment attempt. It’s Braun Strowman, John, not Haystacks Calhoun. It’s like when women in the Mae Young Classic act like Piper Niven is Yokozuna because she’s 200 pounds and they’re 140.
The finish is pretty lame, sadly, with Strowman hitting Cena in the face with stairs, not being disqualified, putting the stairs in the ring, slamming Cena ONTO them and then getting disqualified. We working Japanese rules here, where the DQ only counts if you do it in the ring? So now Strowman has “destroyed” John Cena but not actually beaten him, which accomplishes … something.
And that’s the show. Raw’s been better than it’s been terrible lately, so it’s a shame to see it shit the bed with a show like this. It’s a shame when “a wrestler we aren’t supposed to like accurately points out everything bad about a wrestler we are” is the best moment of the night.
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Week
Matt Hardy trying to break it up when it’s already over. That move is called the “Chett Chetterfield.”
Kinda surprised the ref didn’t start kicking Enzo’s ass there.
Crowd: “WHO’S YOUR DADDY!”
Miz: “HIS NAME IS GEORGE, AND HE OWNS A MR. HERO IN CLEVELAND!”
Miz: states case, offers evidence, context, support, cites sources
Enzo: posts unrelated meme
Miz needs to stop turning face every week
The Real Birdman
Looks like someone’s stopped being polite and started being real
I wanted that cut to Nia to just be her, Bayley, Emma, and Dana all holding each other and crying.
Alexa desperately trying to Rabbit Season Nia Jax
Like the English Channel, Braun is German proof!
Bray: “SEE? HE’S JUST A MAN. THE MAN FROM MEET ME THERE”
(Special love for that one.)
That’s this week’s show. Sorry, everyone!
Your tasks now include:
- drop a comment to let us know what you thought of the show
- share the column on social media, which helps a lot
- if you’re at Smackdown and the Mae Young Classic finals tonight, find me and say hello!
- hug me and tell me Goldust will be fine