The Best And Worst Of WWE Raw 4/15/19: The Blogging Experience


Previously on the Best and Worst of Raw: Sami Zayn said he’d see us in Hell. How could we have known he meant “next week?”

Things to do: Follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook. You can also follow me on Twitter. BUY THE SHIRT.

One more thing: Hit those share buttons! Spread the word about the column on Facebook, Twitter and whatever else you use. Be sure to leave us a comment in our comment section below as well. I know we always ask this, and that this part is copy and pasted in every week, but we appreciate it every week.

And now, here’s the Best and Worst of WWE Raw for April 15, 2019.



Holy shit, meet “Ivar” and “Erik,” “The Viking Experience.” In FOUR-D!

So much to unpack here. First of all, if you were on Twitter last night, you witnessed a dunk contest that made Michael Jordan and Dominique Wilkins look like the Ivar and Erik of professional basketball. Literally every great Viking Experience joke was made within the first 10 seconds of them existing, from “it sounds like a ride in the Scandinavian section of EPCOT” to “they’ll never win a Super Bowl now,” and on and on. Wrestling fans can’t agree on anything. Ever. Simple shit, like whether or not great wrestlers are good at wrestling or whether loud, happy crowds should have fun at shows or shut up because they’re “trying to get themselves over.” But we as a community came together to Eastbay Funk on the fucking “Viking Experience.”

There were still a few “um actually War Raiders was a dumb name too” outliers, and yeah, you’re right. But the difference is that NXT, a popular WWE-owned wrestling brand, spent an entire year building them up as a thing to get them over enough to show up as a big surprise on Raw, only for Raw to actively wrap that shit in bubble wrap and push it down a flight of stairs on Monday afternoon. I’m gonna guess from the graphic font and the fact that they literally used a copy-pasted shield from Skyrim as part of their entrance that Rowe and Hanson found out they were Toki Wartooth and Hagar the Horrible at like 6:45 PM. And shit, at least “War Raiders” made them seem like tough guys who might want to fight you. “The Viking Experience” makes them sound like a prog rock band you’d laugh at when you saw their record at a Half-Price Books.

On top of all of this, they’re still the NXT Tag Team Champions. What’s with the WWE main roster “bringing up” NXT stars on a whim and just immediately abandoning them? Lars Sullivan took six months to debut, Lacey Evans got saddled with a “walk out and do nothing” gimmick for several months, and they’re the best of the group.

Nikki Cross immediately vanished into “second person eliminated in a pre-show battle royal” territory, Heavy Machinery are already No Way Jose and No Way Hose-B, and EC3’s a mute whose first appearance on Raw outside of random backstage posing in two months only happened so he could get Muhammad Hassan’d through the stage as a joke. Then you’ve got Aleister Black and Ricochet, who had goofy sound effects added to their entrances and are already getting stuffed into 8-man tags in hour one of every operable brand to fill space. They’re like super cool seat-warmers. The two most objectively exciting people from WWE’s best brand had people doing the wave during their Raw after WrestleMania match, because even diehard fans know nobody’s out here for a reason, and everyone’s an interchangeable cog in the unstoppable 3-hour fried chicken commercial machine. If you add in Tommaso Ciampa (who got called up but isn’t here because he’s hurt) and Johnny Gargano (who got called up but then stayed in NXT because Ciampa’s hurt), that’s TEN NXT stars called up so far this year and instantaneously nerfed. Like we all joked back in January, Lars and Lacey are the ones who are going to be fine, because they were born fully-formed from Vince McMahon’s subconscious.

Like all bad wrestling names I’m sure this one will stop being hilariously embarrassing at some point, but it’s easily the worst re-name since they tried to call The Giant “Big Nasty Paul Wight” and settled on “The Big Show.” That one didn’t have Twitter around to react to it. But no matter how quickly apathy kicks in for you, it’s a completely unnecessary branding change and an offensively bad re-name for guys who have worked their asses off to get here and get better, and deserve more creative manpower than an insane 73-year old deciding some dumb shit an hour before the show goes on the air. You should be straight-up embarrassed that Ivar and Erik The Viking Experience is the best thing you came up with.

For another perspective,

I know, right? Erik and Rowan should team up and call themselves “Luke Harper.”

Before We Begin

Since I’m not counting “The Viking Experience” as the beginning of anything but a History Channel series I’ll never watch.

From last week’s Best and Worst of Smackdown:

So, next week is the Superstar Shake-Up™, a “draft” of sorts in which people who are currently on Raw, Smackdown and NXT get shuffled onto a different brand to freshen things up. I didn’t give Raw enough credit for this in the Best and Worst of Raw, probably because we’re in a long-term abusive relationship, but here’s the truth: with WrestleMania ending on Sunday and the rosters completely changing next Monday and Tuesday, this week’s shows are total throwaways. At best.

It’s not a terrible idea, I guess, considering how infamous the post-WrestleMania Raw (and to a lesser degree, the post-WrestleMania Smackdown) have become for wild fans taking control and doing the wave and playing with beach balls all night. The important stories ended over the weekend, and there’s no use in starting new important stories if everyone’s delirious from excitement and exhaustion and nobody’s paying attention.

Now add in travel issues causing (additional) last-minute rewrites, talent needing vacations to decide whether or not they want to quit, talent needing time off for surgeries, and a Monday “roster shake-up” episode before a Tuesday followup that changes half of Monday’s shit anyway. Everything is meaningless! Welcome to the endless abyss! Brought to you by Abyss!

Let’s Start With The NXT Call-Ups

This week’s NXT Graveyard Match teams the debuting The Viking Experience with Scott and Wild, The Losing Experience, against The Long Island Experience of Snook and Sitch, and their tag team partners, NXT call-ups Up Down Man and The Dutch Occultist Experience.

In the interest of not going over this same talking point for an entire column, this one episode of Raw featured:

  • the Raw Tag Team Champions being pinned by people who’ve never been on the show
  • the Intercontinental Champion being pinned by a guy who’s never been on the show
  • the Women’s Tag Team Champions being pinned by someone who wasn’t on the show and isn’t actually in a tag team

Aside from Putting The Carriage Before The Norse, this match included the Raw Tag Team Champions, two of the most exciting singles stars from WWE’s best brand who got a standing ovation for being awesome a couple of Fridays ago, and the team that brought the idea of good tag team wrestling to NXT in the first place. To show you how depressing this is, ask yourself: would this match have been any different if it was the Viking Experience teaming up with the Headbangers against the Disciples of Apocalypse and Los Boricuas? Nope. Raw is about vague, arbitrary spots to be filled by warm bodies, not “utilizing our wrestlers’ strengths and putting on an entertaining show that our fans might like and want to watch again.”

By the way, if your answer to that question was, “probably not, but they’d call D.O.A. ‘The Biking Experience,'” congratulations, you’re me.

Rey Mysterio interrupts Elias as the latest Shooken-up Superstar™ and immediately slips on a springboard and falls off the ropes, because even one of the greatest wrestlers of all time isn’t safe from the dark cloud of Monday Night Raw.

That immediately leads to an appearance from not especially impressive Impressive Monster Lars Sullivan, presumably being repackaged as “Ogre Rated” by next week. He beats up Mysterio, because I guess they watched him struggle to lift 240-pound Kurt Angle last week and realized they need to have him toss the smallest cruiserweights they can find. This is your chance to get back on Raw, Drake Maverick!

Braun Strowman is very clearly headed to Smackdown, where he can have a higher ceiling than “lose to Brock Lesnar,” so he goes out with a bang, squashing EC3.

“We brought in the Impact Wrestling guy who looks like Vince McMahon’s perfect idea of a professional wrestler and got over by talking, what should we do with him?”
“Have him not talk, then only show up in the background of backstage segments silently looking at himself in a mirror.”
“Perfect. Any ideas on how to make sure nobody takes him seriously as a physical threat?”
“We could have him not wrestle on TV for two months and then chokeslam him through the stage?”
“That’s great. Can we have him piss his pants while it happens?”
“Sorry, that’d come out of the pyro budget.”

I … hope this is one of those “they’re testing him to see if he can roll with the punches” things WWE does sometimes, and not an outright statement on how little they value EC3 as a performer. I don’t think prime-time on-screen hazing and “dues paying” between Growing Up Chrisley commercials is a great way to spend your time with a brilliantly talented 17-year veteran, but I also don’t think “weird bath robe buddies” is a great use of one of the top heels in wrestling and a new generation Kurt Angle, so maybe I’m just a dumb mark.

Nikki Cross and Heavy Machinery aren’t on the show — shout-out to Eric Young for being announced via on-screen graphic — so let’s talk about Hatty McDaniel showing up and declaring that she gets a number one contender match for the Raw Women’s Championship despite not having a match since like November because she’s a lady, and ladies know how to “curry favor.” Note: this is as close as this woman’s ever come to something as spicy as curry. Lacey Evans eats untoasted Wonderbread with Miracle Whip for breakfast and has to drink like six glasses of water to keep her tongue from burning.

So yeah, Becky Lynch shows up to cut one of those increasingly not-engaging “welp, I’m here” promos and gets interrupted by Natalya, who attempts human dialogue in an attempt to get a title match. Becky accepts, but they’re interrupted by The Sexy Mountie Halloween Costume Experience, who reveals a match has already been made. Hate all you want, but she’s already better on the mic and in the ring than Natalya, even if that’s a bar so low its lying on the ground. Maybe I’m okay with her because she reminds me of every girl I fell in love with at church.

They have a match, and Lacey wins with a MERO-SAULT of all things, and it looks good.


Poor respected veteran legend super worker Natalya can’t even seem to get heat as a Hart doing a Sharpshooter in Montreal.

Lacey makes Canada great again with the win, and now that she and AJ Styles are on Raw together, my dream of booing an alt-right super couple who throw out plastic straws and Chick-fil-A bags while they walk to the ring is a step closer to happening. You’ve either got to make her a full-on White Nationalist Experience, or put her in sparkly old lady clothes and have her go full Blanche Devereaux. I don’t think she’s built for anything in-between.

Like I was saying, Lars and Lacey are gonna be fine. Everyone else needs to come up with 5-10 hobbies Vince McMahon can fart a gimmick out of on a Monday afternoon or prepare to precariously dangle from the precipice of oblivion for the next several years.

Best: The Good Moves

There were some!

First and foremost is The Miz, who has been moved on every single Superstar Shake-Up, brand split, or “draft” ever so we might as well get that over with right away. It’s a good decision because it gets Miz away from Shane McMahon and, probably most important, keeps the guy with the popular USA Network reality show on the WWE brand staying on the USA Network. I was hoping they would build to a Bryan vs. Miz with the alignments swapped thing at SummerSlam, but those guys are gonna be around in one form or another forever, so we’ve got time. Plus, I’m sure Miz will head back to Smackdown in next year’s Superstar Shake-Up.

The fight with Shane was pretty fun as well, especially for the ending visual:

WWE Network

“We’re going to get serious and win by any means necessary!” — Bobby Roode and Chad Gable, before losing two matches in a row.

Also from last week’s Best and Worst of Smackdown:

I don’t love the Usos losing the championship (because I love me some Usos) and I think it’s weird that the pre-WrestleMania feud appeared to be the Usos and the Hardys ,only for that to get shuffled off to the side for a random fatal four-way that’d get more people on the card but not involve the Hardys, and then the match happen with a title change two days after WrestleMania. But this DOES clear up the Usos to get moved over to Raw in the Superstar Shake-Up, which is great because Raw’s tag team division is the most embarrassing shit in the universe and needs good tag teams having good matches pronto.

Hopefully the Usos can work their magic on Raw’s now even more embarrassing tag team division — big ups to the Expedition Sorority — and avoid situations out of their control like, say, Raw’s crack production team spoiling their surprise entrance right before it happened.


Good luck with your impossible task, Uce.

It also maybe means they can Shake-Up Naomi to Raw, too, and give that post-Ronda division and Riott Squad graveyard some much-needed positive, likable faces.

Sure enough, Naomi’s here as well. Sasha Banks’ body’s not even cold yet and Bayley’s already replaced her in the tag team, which hopefully will launch a Gargano vs. Ciampa-esque two-year blood feud that gets them both over and redefines the genre. Or, you know, Naomi easily pins the Women’s Tag Team Champions in a non-title match despite not ever being in a tag team with Bayley before. One or the other.

Oh, and the homies The Riott Squad still can’t get a win on the show where every other champion’s getting pinned. I hope Paige’s new tag team on Smackdown is Ruby Riott and Sonya Deville, which would free up Mandy Rose to be a free-roaming Diva, let Sarah Logan get in line for The Viking Experience, and shuffle Liv back into whatever’s a lower level of competition than “the Performance Center.”

On a brighter note, the IIconics continue to be delightful, even if they’re potrayed as cardboard cutouts of themselves when Raw’s actually on. Here they are in a Dot Com exclusive that absolutely should’ve been shown in its entirety, without Raw cutting out all the funny stuff.


my face when the screen said THE VIKING EXPERIENCE

The best move for Raw in the short term, and probably the most disappointing in the long term, is Andrade and Zelina Vega, who show up to win a non-title match against the Intercontinental Champion.

It’s good, of course, because Andrade is a workhorse and one of the best workers on the planet right now, and he instantly ups the match quality of the show. Plus, he’s jumping over with Rey Mysterio, so they can continue their whole thing. It’s bad, though, because how long do you think Raw intends on having Andrade competing in regular, high quality matches instead of being a random heel they wheel out to lose to whoever needs a win this week? You know that’s what he’s there for, which is depressing, and it makes this early win against Finn Bálor feel more like another in a line of seemingly endless teases of something more substantial on Raw instead of a sign of better times.

That’s me being overly pessimistic, sure, but it’s based on the past decade or so of watching the show every week. Plus, Andrade vs. Finn is one of those matches you could’ve built to and had casual fans and diehards frothing at the mouth, but you blew it in hour one of a Superstar Shake-Up Raw for a non-title match for no reason. Maybe Finn’s headed to Smackdown and they’re going to swap him and Joe — or have someone from Raw win the U.S. title from Joe on Tuesday night, which they love to do with these drafts — but shit, this could’ve been something. “This could’ve been something,” the official words of House Raw.

The GAY experience??

The final Shaken Not Stirred Superstar™ to jump to Raw is AJ Styles, who teams up with Seth Rollins and definitely Smackdown bound Roman Reigns against the ineffective heel jobber all-star squadron of Baron Corbin, Bobby Lashley, and Drew McIntyre.

I don’t know what they’re doing with these heels, man. Lashley and McIntyre both looked like chumps in the worst hour of WrestleMania, and even though Corbin won his Mania match, he’s got “we actually hate having to watch this guy do stuff” reactions at best Angle immediately got his heat back the next night. Here, they could be anybody. This could’ve been Rollins, Reigns, and Styles vs. three jobbers from Superstars and it would’ve been exactly the same, except then I would’ve at least been interested in screencapping the jobbers and laughing about them. Oh, it took three finishers to beat Bobby Lashley? He lost at WrestleMania when a 140-pound guy with belts on his head kicked him in the abs.

The actual Superstar Shake-Up that should’ve occurred is everyone with a remaining upside being sent to Smackdown, every failed NXT call-up being sent back to NXT, Raw being canceled, and everyone on Raw’s creative team (including Vince McMahon) getting dragged and dropped into the trash bin.

Also, Sami Zayn Still Hates You, For Some Reason

Sami Zayn’s already gone from, “I’m righteously indignant about my work environment and am going to hold the fans accountable,” on a Monday to, “talking to the fans isn’t worth it,” on a Tuesday, to, “I hate EACH AND EVERYONE ONE OF YOU because SHUT UP” on a Monday. He’s gonna show up on Smackdown wearing a shirt with the local sports team’s logo on the front with a big Ghostbusters circle and line through it. Sami is awesome and he’s giving this bit his all, but he really should get to deliver better material than NXT Elias Samson would’ve. “Critics are bad” is a weird argument coming from a guy every critic loves.

Plus, when did Alexa Bliss become a hero of the people? Remember when she hated her best friend for being fat? Remember like a couple of weeks ago when she was claiming WrestleMania was important because she got to talk at the beginning of it? Summoning Hulk Hogan doesn’t make you a face, Alexa, it makes you the worst.

Best: It’s Good To See Sting Back On Raw

That’s not Sting, that’s a picture of Sting!

Best: Top 10 Of The Week


Cedric and Rusev: The Alexander Experience!


Give them two more vikings and you could call them the Four Norsemen instead

Brute Farce

EC come, EC go.

Taylor Swish

Jimmy and Jey switching from crips to bloods won’t play well in the Uso Penitentiary

Harry Longabaugh

*Michael Cole sees himself on the broadcast*

Dave M J

Let’s look on the brightest of bright sides for RAW tonight: Velveteen Dream didn’t show up.

The Real Birdman

“Monday Night Raw is the house…that.. Vince McMahon built!! What? I’m not taking credit for this mess”


Charlotte: “why does her moonsault look so weird”

Mr. Bliss

Braun, Rusev and Cesaro team up and will now be known as The Vince Refused to Push Me When I was Red Hot and Now That Magic Can’t Be Recaptured Experience


On a somber note, it is TERRIFYING that there are paid professionals whose sole purpose each week is to create three hours of compelling wrestling television, and they keep Britta-ing it this badly.


somehow this is still real

That’s it for this week’s Raw. If you’re already scrolling down to drop an, “actually I think the Viking Experience is a great name,” comment, please consider saving up that contrarianism for some “devil’s advocate” conversation you’ll have at dinner with someone who’ll never want to talk to you again.

For all other comments and discussions — sigh, and the “Viking Experience is a cool name, I’m five years old” comments, I was just kidding — drop down below and let us know what you thought of the show. Give us a share on social to keep us in business, and make sure you’re here on Tuesday night for the better, shorter version of this episode.

[pumps horns]