Previously on the Best and Worst of Raw: Jinder Mahal returned, Drew McIntyre told Seth Rollins he was completely full of shit, and Apollo Crews died on the way back to his home planet.
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. Up next is Wrestler On The Roof.
And now, the Best and Worst of WWE Raw for May 4, 2020.
Worst: Whatever This Was
You know, there’s a lot I could say about this segment. I think the thing that gets to me the most is the fact that Shayna Baszler and Asuka each got their own full couch, but Nia Jax, who is twice the size of either of them, got stuck squatting on a small, square table. What is that, an end table? If it had wheels on the bottom it’d be one of those little scooters you used to roll around on in kindergarten. It’s only there so Nia can easily fall back onto it, break it, and fall over at the end of the segment. It’s the WWE equivalent of in old cartoons where you know which object someone’s about to pick up because it’s drawn on top of the background.
Asuka screaming BIG BOOTY at Jax (and just being Asuka in general) is delightful, but not quite enough to get us through concurrent Shayna and Nia promos. They should’ve had Liv Morgan interrupt from one side of the building and Natalya interrupt from the other and had everyone talk at once to see if it opens the door to the Rock of Eternity.
Worst: A 40-Minute Match In Front Of Nobody That Wouldn’t Have Gone Over Great In Front Of A Crowd
So, the majority of hour one was dedicated to the “Last Chance Gauntlet Match” to replace helpless sad boi Apollo Crews on the men’s half of the two concurrent Money in the Bank ladder matches at Money in the Bank.
Gauntlet matches without a crowd are the pits. It’s usually hard to enjoy gauntlet matches even with a crowd, because they don’t make any structural sense — who decided the order of these entrants if your scripted sports organization runs on “momentum” instead of rankings or observable statistics, and who gets over if your finalists are always a loser who worked hard, and a winner who didn’t? — and because the way these matches are booked lets everyone watching know the early falls don’t, won’t, and can’t matter.
Here’s the full rundown of participants:
- Titus O’Neil, whose 45 seconds of gauntlet-opening wrestling might be the longest we’ve seen him in the ring in years
- Akira Tozawa, who hits two moves that do nothing and then bounces off the ropes specifically so Lashley could spear him
- Shelton Benjamin, who is like Titus O’Neil and Akira Tozawa did the Fusion Dance
- Bobby Lashley, who easily runs through three opponents just to get himself disqualified like a complete moron
- Humberto Carrillo, who gets beaten up during and after his fall and only advances because Lashley kicked too much of his ass
- Angel Garza and Austin Theory, who are so dedicated to being Raw’s Sami Zayn and Shinsuke Nakamura that they lose two straight falls to an injured guy
- and, because the winner in WWE gauntlet matches is almost always the guy who comes in last …
Your winner is AJ Styles, who is a ghost, returning to Raw and feeling sort of angry but ready to move on about the whole “watching his friends get actually murdered and then being buried alive and murdered himself” thing from WrestleMania. I’m not sure I’m asking for him to show up repackaged as a wrestling zombie or even for him to be constantly covered in a thin layer of dirt he’s unable to wash off, I just wanted, you know, for something to matter. Styles being totally fine and unchanged here means even a cinematic match at the biggest show of the year starring the most legendary character in the company and ending in multiple homicides doesn’t mean anything and has no consequences.
He doesn’t even feel BAD about it. He brushes off HIS ON-SCREEN DEATH with “that was then, this is now!” For fuck’s sake. He also didn’t lose the Boneyard Match at all, because, “there’s no rules in a boneyard match!” “I got buried, so what!” “That doesn’t mean I lost, that doesn’t mean I lost anything!” Cool, I’ll remember not to give a shit next time you have a match. “None of this matters, who even cares,” is the lead talking point for the flagship show of the biggest wrestling promotion in the world. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised considering that Triple H Appreciation Week on Smackdown ended with the owner of the company turning off the lights on a show Fox paid a billion dollars for because it’s boring and sucks.
AJ wins by tapping out an already extremely injured guy who’d wrestled three people, but needing over 10 minutes to do it. I hope they explain that he came back to life due to his close, personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
In Other Money In The Bank News
Congratulations to Janitor’s Closet Satan for being accepted into Starfleet Academy.
Note: If Seth Rollins is trying to be Joseph Seed, Aleister Black is 100% trying to be Jacob. They have the same beard, the same voice, and cut the same promos.
Rey Mysterio is VERY WORRIED about falling off the roof of WWE Headquarters at Money in the Bank. Somebody convinced the Superstars that the top of a building is like a balance beam, and not 110,000 square feet.
The only scenarios I’ll accept for someone falling off Titan Towers are as follows:
- If it’s AJ Styles, and WWE’s going to start dramatically murdering him at every pay-per-view only for him to show up fine a week later, like they’re South Park and he’s Kenny McCormick, or
- They have Big Show participate and try to grab the briefcase, only for Hulk Hogan to appear and knock him off the roof again
Bonus points if anybody gets humped by an ancient corpse afterward.
Worst, Oh My God, Stop It: Challenger Has Pinned The Champions! You’ve Got To Think That Puts Them Into Contention For A Future Title Shot!
1. Viking Raiders do embarrassing karaoke
2. challenger pins the champion (again) instead of doing an actual feud to build a match
I feel like I’m taking crazy pills. WWE is goddamn obsessed with this. Just having a challenger pin a champion in a non-title match to earn a title shot, instead of writing something or having the characters do something interesting or anything resembling effort or a desire to write an episode that’s not exactly like every other show you’ve written for the past DECADE. If you want to know the last time they did this match you’ll have to turn back the clock all the way to Friday, when the Forgotten Sons pinned the Smackdown Tag Team Champions.
STOP 👏 DOING 👏 THIS 👏 OVER 👏 AND 👏 OVER 👏 AND 👏 OVER 👏 YOU 👏 LAZY 👏 MOTHER 👏 FUCKERS 👏 . THIS IS GARBAGE. STOP IT. YOU HAVE THE ENTIRETY OF HUMAN CREATIVITY AT YOUR FINGERTIPS, POWERED BY THE BEST ROSTER OF WRESTLING TALENT AND WRESTLING MINDS AND PRODUCTION TALENT AND BUSINESS MINDS OF A GENERATION, NOT TO MENTION SEVEN HOURS OF PRIME-TIME TV EVERY WEEK AND UNLIMITED RESOURCES, WHY 👏 IS 👏 THIS 👏 ALWAYS 👏 THE 👏 SAME 👏. YOU’RE MAKING ME LOSE MY MIND. NOW I’M JUST ANGRY CLAPPING 👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏.
If I never see another WWE match where a challenger pins a champion to “build momentum” and get “in contention for a future title shot” I’ll be too soon. And by “too soon” I mean “this Friday, on Smackdown.”
In other tag team news, Ricochet has gone from challenging Brock Lesnar for the WWE Championship on a Network live special to getting dunked on by Brendan Vink in the middle of an empty Performance Center Raw in the span of like two months. Two months and a week. Nothing says modern WWE quite like obsessing over how much momentum everybody’s built up, and then cutting off your performers at the knees as soon as they start building up momentum.
Shane Thorne and Brendan Vink, who are managed by MVP except when they’re participating in wrestling matches apparently, score what loosely equates to an “upset win on Main Event” after Vink hits Ricochet with the Andrew Martin Driver ’99. Sad to see the Jaguar Tribe get humiliated by the Wallaby Tribe like this.
Best: Liv Morgan, Amnesiac
Sure, Liv Morgan’s getting better in the ring (and is certainly being given a ton of chances and resources with which to do so), but I’m increasingly interested in her amnesiac gimmick. There’s a difference in taking a step back and realizing you don’t want to be the infantilized third wheel in a jobber girl gang and spending several months talking about how you’re “trying to figure out who you are.” Even Charlotte Flair’s out here like, “you don’t know who you are!” Can someone get Liv a glass of water and some help?
Morgan/Flair — fun side note, Ric Flair’s middle name is Morgan — is a fairly solid 11 minutes, because Charlotte’s good enough to carry someone like Liv to something more watchable than she’s used to. Flair’s character also provides a number of bad faith contexts that make it feel like Liv’s being fed into a professional wood-chipper after several weeks of improvement and, you know, momentum. But even though I’ll probably tell you the opposite at some point when I get worked and frustrated with the product, I think some characters benefit from being truly “holier than thou.” Charlotte should completely body Liv Morgan in a match, and the fact that Liv could hang with her at all is a testament to Liv’s improvement. It’s a bigger version of the thing they did with Liv and Asuka. Liv’s doing better every time she tries to be a part of something bigger than herself, and I think she’ll really blossom once she remembers where she lives, and how she got here.
Exactly What You’d Expect: The Main Event
Me listening to a Seth Rollins interview:
The main event plays out exactly like you thought it would the second you saw “Drew McIntyre vs. Murphy” announced. Murphy’s dope and McIntyre’s probably excited to work with somebody who isn’t a giant mess, so they’ll give us a good five or six minutes before Drew Mac Claymores him into obsolescence. Then Seth Rollins will try to pick a fight with Drew, Drew will be stressfully gung-ho about it, and Rollins will bail only to sneak back in and attack him from behind. But both because Drew McIntyre and because Seth Rollins, Rollins will get too confident and McIntyre will fire up and kick his ass. Rollins is a weird coward now despite being KINGSLAYER and BEASTSLAYER because if you don’t like the fans you’re a bottom-feeding scumbag, and McIntyre is basically Hogan in his prime. You could shoot Drew McIntyre in the chest with a pistol right now and he’d just reach into his chest, pull out the bullet, and throw it at you so hard you died. I don’t hate it.
Let’s hope Rollins doesn’t do anything to get himself edited out of any Money in the Bank highlight videos.
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Week
Plot twist – SAMOA JOE LEAVES THE TABLE TO MURDER EVERYONE IN THE RING, SECURING THE LAST MITB SPOT
WWE right now:
NXT ratings are down – give Flair the title
Raw ratings are down – give Flair the mic.
Smackdown ratings are down – let Tamina have a shot at the title.
Rollins: “ I do this for the Greater Good…”
the Neighborhood Watch Alliance: “THE GREATER GOOD.”
Phillips: “AJ Styles is back!”
Samoa Joe: *Under his breath* “He’s still not getting his wife back”
Saxton: “What was that Joe?”
Samoa Joe: “Nothing!!”
Baron Von Raschke
Why am I picturing Vince in the back going, “I thought I let that guy go.” each time someone’s music plays during this gauntlet match?
I want the final spot to go to that tire that Lashley humiliated. Everyone likes a good redemption story.
So McIntyre was a hapless goon until finally getting a good singles run. Murphy was having a good singles run (at least allowed to look good) until he became a hapless goon. The WWE formula!
There should be at least one Escape Room in MitB that some people get stuck in for a while.
What’s AJ going to do when he gets to the roof of the WWE HQ building and he sees the horizon?
That does it for another episode of The Best and Worst of Consistently Depressing Quarantine Raw. Not the best show they’ve done, but look at it this way, Jinder Mahal might be back again next week! [sigh] This is what we’ve become.
Anyway, as always you can help us out tremendously right now by sharing the column on social media, as well as dropping down into our comments section to let us know what you thought of the show. I will keep trying to watch these and say something constructive about them, but if I fall into existential, nihilistic despair waiting for real episodes with fans to return, try to laugh at my thinly-veiled cries for help.
Join us here this weekend for our full Money On Top Of The Bank coverage, and again next week for Randy Orton and Edge, who will save the ratings. Hooray!