Previously on the Best and Worst of WWE Raw: John Cena was like, “Roman Reigns farted,” and Roman Reigns was like, “he who smelt it dealt it,” and Cena was like, “he who supplied it, denied it.” Except wrestling.
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Here’s the Best and Worst of Raw for September 4, 2017.
Best: Raw Opens With A Match!
Here’s something I didn’t expect to type, but is completely welcome: Raw opens with an almost 12-minute match that actually works to get a young star over, makes callbacks to something that happened on TV 15 years ago, ties together long-existing character relationships and brings the career of the show’s biggest star full circle. I know, right?
A little over 15 years ago, Kurt Angle made an open challenge that was answered by John Cena, the “rookie with ruthless aggression.” This was back when John wore hot pants color coordinated to suck up to your local sports teams and hadn’t yet mastered the high-and-tight, so he had little gelled-up hair tendrils. Fast forward to 2015. John Cena wins the United States Championship and starts an “open challenge.” He becomes synonymous with that, to the point that every single United States Champion after him has been like, “just like John Cena, here’s an open challenge!” In 2017, Kurt Angle becomes General Manager of Raw. Shortly after that, Cena jumps ship to Raw. Now, Kurt Angle, the man Cena had a star-making moment with, is putting his son, Jason Jordan, in a similar match with Mr. Open Challenge John Cena. Man, imagine how good this shit would be if they actually planned for it to happen?
This is easily the best Jordan has looked since coming up to the main roster, and that’s no surprise. Even checked-out-ass ill-advised-hair-growth John Cena could crank out a top shelf WWE formula match in his sleep, so he accomplishes more with some chinlocks and well-timed hope spots than a dozen corny angles could. Jordan handles his end of it, too. Cena beats him, of course, but he doesn’t go down without a fight. Sorta like when Cena debuted against Angle. All that was missing was Jordan running into Brock Lesnar backstage and getting his hand shaken.
Good stuff. If it hadn’t been glassy-eyed current run Cena, it would’ve been even better.
Worst: Definitely Not As Interesting As Last Week
I’m not sure what to say about the post-match Verbal Confrontation™ with Roman Reigns, which literally becomes a dick measuring contest. Cena tries to make fun of him for having his zipper down, so Roman says he broke it. Because “big dog.” BECAUSE HIS DICK IS LARGE, YOU SEE. Brother, if Alex Wright never popped the zipper on his tight-ass 1990s German raver skinny jeans, your dick would have to be two feet long and the circumference of a medicine ball to break the zipper on your cargo britches.
Then, of course, they argue with each other about balls. Which man has the worse breath? Find out in three weeks, at No Mercy!
Worst: Tag Team Wrestling Minus The Revival
This week, the tag team scene is cold boogers on a paper plate.
Up first is Sheamus and Cesaro versus Heath Slater and Rhyno. I don’t think any Superstar Shake-up™ decision makes less sense than bringing Slater and Rhyno over to Raw. Slater was only on Smackdown thanks to a very specific show storyline, and the team came together to anchor the Smackdown Tag Team Championship tournament. They were integral to the early vibe of the show as it tried to find its identity after the brand split. They’d settled into a less important role by the time they got sent over, but they were still a real time. Now they might as well be Johnny Knockout and Steve Cutler.
Sheamus and Cesaro win the match so handily that Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose don’t even really get to react to it. “At least the tag champs didn’t lose a non-title match” is not really analysis or praise.
Later, Rollins and Ambrose are supposed to face The Club, but Sheamus and Cesaro are already in the ring arguing with Gallows and Anderson. They stick around to cause a distraction at the end of a very (x 100) formulaic match, but it doesn’t work, and then the heel teams end up brawling with each other? I don’t know. This is the first week the crowd hasn’t been molten for the Rollins and Ambrose team, if that tells you how effective The Club is.
I think the best tag team related moment of the night is the pre-commercial bumper featuring Elias, where Ambrose and Rollins happen past him and Ambrose stops to notice Rollins and Elias are identical. Elias is like the Pokemon evolution of Rollins. If you evolve them again, they become Braun Strowman.
Worst: The Enzo Problem
Finally we have the 205 Live Graveyard Six Man, which we later learn allows the winners to qualify for three spots in a fatal five-way elimination match for a chance to challenge Neville for the Cruiserweight Championship at No Mercy. Enzo Amore, Gran Metalik and Cedric Alexander defeat Noam Dar, Drew Gulak and Tony Nese to earn spots in the match. Because WWE, Tony Nese also randomly qualifies. Why not?
I think adding Enzo to the cruiserweight division was a good call for a lot of reasons, but there are two major problems:
- If you make the division about him instead of just putting him into the division, you turn him from Kinda Poochie to EXTREMELY POOCHIE in like two weeks. This week, he calls Drew Gulak “Captain Underpants” and replaces Gran Metalik’s name with a cheese he can vaguely associate with him.
- If you spend several years establishing that Enzo Amore is a helpless, offense-less loser who gets knocked out being whipped into the ropes and can’t even cheat in matches without getting his ass kicked, does it help to have him move to the cruiserweight division and immediately kick everyone’s asses? I know he’d do better facing guys his own size, but a lot of the guys he faced in NXT and on the main roster WERE kind of his size, and they still kicked his ass. But now he’s on the Purple Brand, is steamrolling dudes and is in line for a title shot? Doesn’t that make everyone involved look like chumps?
Worst: Bray Wyatt Is Still Talking
Just walk backstage and kick his ass, man. It’s not hard.
Mostly Best: The Women’s Tag
The “can they co-exist?” idea is pretty tired at this point, but this match at least attempted to freshen it up.
If Sasha Banks and Alexa Bliss can team up and win the match, they keep the title match one-on-one. Bliss obviously wants that, because she wants to be able to concentrate on one person and have that DQ/count-out out she likes to exploit. Banks wants it one-on-one because she knows she can beat Bliss, and doesn’t need two wild cards thrown in. Emma and Nia Jax obviously want to fight hard to win the match to get the title opportunities they feel they deserve. It all makes sense, and gives clear motivations to everyone involved. Sorta like if they’d actually announced that the cruiser six-man was for something, instead of saying “here’s good guy little guys vs. bad guy little guys part infinity.”
I guess my only problem with it is that the crowd didn’t know what to make of it. Who were the faces here, you know? On one side you’ve got two heels that don’t like each other. On the other, you’ve got a heel and a face. Bliss and Banks are working together pretty well, and the crowd’s like “… ?” Then Nia beats up Sasha — the one face in the match — Emma pins said face, and Nia beats up Emma. Not that I need the alignments to always be cruiserweight-style hunky dory, but the crowd being dead for a pay-per-view building block match like this is deflating.
Best, Though: This GIF
I think the only thing that tops it is this pre-show announcement clip of MIke Rome marking out for Sasha Banks and Alexa side-eyeing him to death in the background.
Best: Jeff Hardy
I think the most pleasant surprise of the evening was the Intercontinental Championship match between The Miz and Jeff Hardy. It allowed both men to shine, was prefaced by an uncharacteristically good babyface promo from Hardy, and actually gave Miz credibility (!) with the win. It’s an Intercontinental Championship match that made the Intercontinental Champion look good. Have I ever typed that?
This is something I would love to see more of on Raw. Hardy looked good during the match, elevated the Miz’s championship prestige by looking good to him in a loss, and lost “because of outside interference,” but not really. He loses because The Miz has a manager. Maryse gives Miz the heads up that Hardy’s gonna Swanton him, so Miz is able to move out of the way. It’s straight-up the function of a manager at ringside. It’s one of those moments where you could argue that it’s “unfair” of the heel, but isn’t so blatantly over-the-top unfair that it devalues the work they’re doing.
Best: HOSSPOCALYPSE III: HOSS HARD WITH A VENGEANCE
As it stands, three of the five best Raw matches of the year belong to Braun Strowman and The Big Show. The first was back on February 20, when they decided to chain-wrestle and tease a superplex and tore down the house. They followed it up in April by actually tearing down the house and paying off the superplex tease by breaking the ring.
Now, we have the final match in the trilogy: a cage match with a double reinforced ring that comes back around to pay off itself by creating an indestructible ring, allowing a superplex proper, and culminating in Strowman still destroying something by taking out a cage wall.
I don’t know if this was Big Show’s retirement match, but I think it should be. That’s not meant in a “Show should retire” kind of way, because for real, I just wrote a paragraph about how he’s 20 years into the business and is still having 3 of the 5 best matches on Raw this year. I just think it brings everything around full circle, like the Cena opener with Jason Jordan, and says what needed to be said.
We got a knockout punch. We got a chokeslam. We got Show coming off the top rope with a flying elbow. And perhaps most poetically, do you remember how Big Show debuted in WWE? By throwing a guy through a cage wall. Wouldn’t it be perfect if his career ended the same way?
No matter what, this was great stuff. Like Toy Story 3, I think it gave us the perfect ending and we don’t need another sequel, but they’re doing one, and I’ll go see it anyway. I don’t want there to be a HOSSPOCALYPSE IV, but if they do another one, hell, you’ve got my money.
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Night
“I’m a dog that’s big. Believe me folks.”
– Roman Reigns
Braun wants to take on another monster.
I’M NOT FINISHED WITH KAIJU!
The Real Birdman
Nia just wanted to get Emma’s music to stop
Baron Von Raschke
I would watch 405 Live….I mean…I’ve stuck with 205 Live this long.
This referee cuts a more natural promo than Roman Reigns.
Bray: If you’re really tough than why don’t you take off your invincible plot armor?
Finn: I don’t really see the point in that, I’m way stronger with the paint
Bray: yeah…well…don’t you want to prove you’re a man?
Finn: I am a man…with invincible demon powers
Bray: w-well…you have no balls!
Finn: Yes I do, and that’s a weirdly jouvenille insult
Bray: (frantically flipping through the script) what the hell, this usually works with Cena…
So Bray has been getting into some Updike lately I take it with all those Rabbit, Run references. Too bad all his promos are a Redux.
That cage match is typical WWE booking…forcing a member of The Union to work on Labor Day.
Enzo Amore dressing like a mudflap but acting like a skidmark
Cena: You suck
Roman: You suck
Cena: Well at least we’re not Baron Corbin, right?
Roman: lol yeah fuck that guy
That’s it for this week.
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