Previously on the Best and Worst of WWE Raw: Drew McIntyre made Kurt Angle look like a sack of garbage in the best possible way. Also, Natalya was sent into an existential spiral by a pair of broken sunglasses (that we’d never seen or heard about until moments before).
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. We’re on the road to Survivor Series, the one time each year when Raw and Smackdown go head to head! Except for literally all year.
Here’s the Best and Worst of WWE Raw for November 12, 2018.
Worst: Battle Royal Of Who Could Care Less
If there’s one division in WWE that needs life support, it’s Raw’s tag team division. The Raw Tag Team Championships have spent the past eight months cementing themselves as the most embarrassing championship belts in wrestling, including:
- a WrestleMania match where a 10-year old defeated Sheamus and Cesaro
- the 10-year old having to vacate the championships the next night on Raw because he had to go to elementary school
- a title change on a Saudi Arabian propaganda show
- a B-Team reign that started as a joke and then lasted seven weeks
- the ongoing, systematic embarrassment of The Revival that’s been happening since Raw 25
- The Shield winning them and breaking up before the celebration was over
- AOP becoming tag champs by winning a 2-on-1 handicap match
This week’s show starts off with a battle royal to decide which of Raw’s throwaway teams gets to captain their Survivor Series squad, and it’s almost immediately destroyed by one (1) guy showing up and killing them all. It’s Braun Strowman, sure, but they’ve worked pretty hard the past few months to show us that Braun is a coward who can’t win any fights, and have now fed him to Brock Lesnar in title matches twice.
Braun interrupts the battle royal and sends 13 guys packing so he can “hold the show hostage” until Stephanie McMahon gives him (1) a third shot at Brock Lesnar, and (2) a match against Constable “Baron” Corbin where he gets to pick the stipulations. Raw’s tag team division couldn’t band together and go 13 strong against this one guy, and then had to come back out later and re-do their match because they’re a bunch of ineffectual jobber wimps. That sucks so badly for all of them personally and professionally, and seriously, The Revival are the worst case of going from Infallible NXT Gods to “oh my God I never want to see you again, just leave” since Bray Wyatt.
The Braun opening isn’t terrible, but it’s almost like that Looney Tune where the animator fucks with Daffy Duck by erasing him mid-cartoon and re-drawing him as a screwball-flagged flower monster. Raw was like, “a match highlighting the tag team division to open Raw? NO, STEPHANIE MCMAHON TALKING.” Ronda Rousey showing up to intimidate Stephanie (who she should be attacking on-sight for the remainder of her career) and Judo-throw Baron Corbin was fun, but felt like a different segment crammed into this one, which is already a segment crammed into a match.
When it’s time to re-do the tag team battle royal, who’s supposed to care, and why? Lucha House Party has three guys in a tag team battle royal and the non-Corey-Graves announcers are just like, “shut up, it’s fine.” The winning team is Bobby Roode and Chad Gable, a team with less chemistry than Sheamus and the Cricket Wireless mascot who were clearly only put together to break up, with the final team eliminated being the Ascension. Meaning technically they found a way to do Bobby Roode and Chad Gable vs. The Ascension twice on the same episode.
That Raw vs. Smackdown tag team Survivor Series match is sure gonna be fun with 18 guys standing on the apron blocking the view the entire time. Somebody let WWE know what a cibernetico is, already.
Best: Dean Ambrose Addresses This Garbage Fire
Before you think I don’t have anything but complaints this week, here’s Dean Ambrose finally responding to Seth Rollins with the most e-fed promo of the month. It’s got all the coolest images. He’s outside in a leather jacket, sitting on the hood of the car Hulk Hogan used to run over the Macho Man in the parking lot at Nitro 20 years ago. I love that he’s sitting way up on the hood, too, with his feet up, like no one has sat on the hood of a car ever. There’s also a free-standing garbage fire next to him, in this Attitude Era world where the only thing outside the arena are urban hellscapes of barrel fires, clangy poles, and large, upright, unattached sections of chain-link fence.
It’s a good promo, mostly because goddamn, how do you have a talker like Dean Ambrose on the roster and not have him cutting intense, emotional promos all the time? The announce team talking about how Dean has never been good with words and lets ACTIONS speak for him seems to completely miss the point of Dean Ambrose. He says The Shield made him weak, burns his Shield vest with that special kind of gasoline that doesn’t make fires bigger, and walks away.
It’s the promo he could’ve slash should’ve cut the week after he turned, possibly in the parking lot immediately after turning, and the only real negative is that we had to wait several weeks to get it. I feel so bad for poor Renee on commentary, who has to be the known wife of an on-camera anarchist heel and can only really respond to questions about his character with, “hey, he’s his own man, I dunno.” Like, imagine if Michael Cole was Ruby Riott’s dad and had to constantly explain why she’s hanging out with a hillbilly Viking and cotton candy Skipper.
Worst: Ember Moon Grew Up Idolizing Nia Jax, Somehow
Speaking of problems with commentary, holy shit, the plot point that Ember Moon looked up to and idolized Nia Jax early in her wrestling career is laugh out loud funny. You probably don’t need me to point this out to you, but Moon had been wrestling for eight years when Jax had her first match. In 2015. It’s not one of those “Liv Morgan scratched and clawed for everything she got” talking points where you’re just like, “okay, sure,” it’s impossible, unless Athena was a big fan of the Palomar College Comets and got inspired to brawl through Texas wrestling by watching Savelina Fanene do lay-ups.
Also, Tamina Snuka’s splash still looks like a cat falling out of a tree. Jax isn’t a perfect wrestler, but she’s Meiko Satomura compared to Tamina.
Worst: I Got News For You, Baby, You’re Lookin’ At The Man
The worst and most cringe-worthy part of the entire show is this promo from Ronda Rousey, in which she calls Becky Lynch a hyper-sensitive millennial who eats avocado toast and wears skinny jeans. I don’t know if Vince McMahon woke from a night of troubled sleep and jotted this promo down with quill and parchment, but it’s the most tone-deaf shit I’ve ever heard.
For starters, a hearty LOL at Ronda Rousey calling someone else hyper-sensitive. “You are the skinny jeans wearing, v-neck sporting, avocado toast munching, winged shoe wearing, millennial man, with a bubble wrapped ego and a porcelain self-perception.” What part of that describes any version of Becky Lynch that we know? Does she think she’s facing Mr. Peanutbutter at Survivor Series? It’s especially hilarious when you realize that Becky Lynch, entitled millennial, was born on January 30, 1987. Ronda Rousey, a member of THE GREATEST GENERATION, was born on February 1, 1987. Rousey’s cutting a generational promo on someone two days older than her.
Then you’ve got, “being offended doesn’t make you right! You can put the violins away, champ, you are not Oliver Twist, and I am not some trust fund baby golden child!” Did Ronda listen to any of Becky’s promos? Did she just skim them and assume she knew what Becky was talking about? Ronda said she was learning arm bars from her crazy Judo parents when Becky was working odd jobs, and Becky’s response was to point out that yeah, she had to work those jobs because she needed to be self-reliant and fund her own dreams because she wasn’t born to an accomplished Olympic athlete family. Ronda seems like she’s out here cutting self-loathing promos on herself.
The worst part of all of it is when she says “I’m not Charlotte Flair,” and launches into this: “I sure as hell didn’t pour my heart and soul into changing the meaning of ‘fight like a girl’ so the leader of the women’s evolution could call herself The Man!” You uh, also apparently aren’t enough of a wrestling fan to know that Charlotte’s extremely famous wrestling dad used to say “to be the man, you’ve got to beat the man,” Charlotte adopted a lot of his phrasing and mannerisms in tribute to him, and Becky’s saying “fuck you” to her and Ric by calling herself “the man” after beating her at Evolution. She’s not saying she’s better than women at wrestling because she’s like men. You might know this if you’d watch Evolution and weren’t busy preparing for your stinker main event against the better half of a set of reality show twins.
I’d be real kayfabe hot about all this if Raw didn’t end the way it did.
But we’ll get there.
Worst: The Universal Champion Stops By
Brock Lesnar is here, and since he can only feud with Roman Reigns, he has nothing to do. The segment features an interruption for Jinder Mahal in a nice bit of continuity they did totally by accident, and leads to (1) an oddly misplaced bit of casual racism with Heyman about to launch into a full-on Apu impersonation, (2) Lesnar joking with Heyman that he needs to hear Mahal’s peaceful mantras because he’s Jewish, and (3) the Singh Brothers having Randy Orton PTSD flashbacks while Lesnar German suplexes them onto the tippy-tops of their heads.
Brock is an extremely easy type of character for me to like, and I feel like I would’ve dug this if he was actually feuding with anyone, Mahal was any kind of threat that needed a “statement” made against him, and we weren’t living through another era of the Universal Champion rarely appearing and never defending the Universal Championship. Eh, we’re all on the same page there, I think.
Best: Drew McIntyre For Universal Champion Immediately
I think Drew McIntyre could benefit from not having to cut pre-written promos (and not having his only set of clothing being a pair of underwear and a giant sleeveless bedazzled leather robe), but between last week’s emasculation of Kurt Angle and this week’s straight-up headbutting-in-the-face of Finn Bálor, I’m way too ready for him to be Universal Champion. This is the guy you should have the belt on. He might not have Lesnar’s amateur wrestling and mixed-martial arts name value, but he’s eleven feet tall,looks like five Neville’s combined to form a Neville Megazord, he can talk, and he can work. Pairing him with Ziggler is like signing LeBron James and having him constantly pass the ball to Lance Stephenson.
But again, because WWE heels, the clearly superior and not-afraid-of-people McIntyre gets challenged by a guy literally 1/2 his size and backs down from it, subbing in Ziggler in his place. I will never understand that. Braun Strowman can beat up 13 guys at once when he’s a face, but if he decides he’s gonna cheat or be opportunistic for a few weeks, he’s basically Shaggy from Scooby-Doo and runs away from everyone.
Anyway, Bálor vs. Ziggler is the best match of the night, and really the only thing approaching a good match for most of the show. There were only five matches on the entire episode, with three of them lasting between 2-3 minutes. At least Bálor and Ziggler got 12, and did something with it.
I’ve said this for … pretty much his entire NXT and WWE career, but there’s nobody in the company who’d benefit more from a turn or some kind of refocusing of character than Finn Bálor. Prince Devitt felt dynamic to the point that Chris Jericho, king of dynamic characters, was ripping him off. Dude made the Bullet Club a popular thing that people are STILL coasting off of. In WWE, what’s his character? That he’s nice? That’s pretty much it. “Nice person, comma Irish.” I don’t mind him being a nice smiley babyface, I guess, I just want him to have some motivations and seems like he gives a shit about anything happening, instead of just showing up as a placeholder babyface to say, “I don’t like what you did to [other babyface], let’s have a match RIGHT HERE TONIGHT.” Anyone could play that role. Bálor is a talent necessitating more nurturing and focus than that, you know?
Also, Dolph Ziggler deserves some time off and an Edible Arrangement for losing a Best in the World tournament final to a non-wrestling old sweathog in Dean Ambrose cosplay.
Best: Booty Lashley
If you’d like Bobby Lashley’s entire return run encapsulated in a single GIF:
I don’t normally go for WWE babyface “lol you are dumb” promos, but bless Elias for calling child protective services on Lashley for this Lio Rush promo. Rush is like, 50% Bobby Heenan talking about the NAR-SISSUS Lex Luger here, and Lashley’s like, presenting to the crowd. The dead silence makes it even more awkward. If there was ever a time someone needed to step in and say, “actually, you are stupid,” it was here. Renee’s weary “thank God” when Elias strums his guitar is Jim Ross-levels of exasperatedly hilarious.
The only thing funnier is Lashley’s response of, “shut up, you clown. You’re a clown!” Heh, how does he keep up with the news like that? Also funny is him asking Elias to walk down here and “say it in my face.” IN MY FACE. Alex Riley should’ve materialized from oblivion behind him and been like, “yeah, tell ’em, Bob!”
The match is a Bobby Lashley match, but at least we’ve gotten the alignments right, and people are supposed to cheer Elias and boo Lashley. Watching him expect fans to shower him with praise for doing a delayed vertical suplex where Elias clearly had to do all the work was such a bummer for several months. Rush causing a count-out and costing Elias a spot on the Raw men’s Survivor Series team was kinda dumb, but Lashley makes more sense on the team anyway. Aside from Finn and I guess Braun Strowman, it’s mostly a team of heels anyway. +1 to the first general manager to build a team of five and realize personal relationships could have something to do with the success or failure of his team.
Worst, But Eventually This Could Be A Best: The Women’s Survivor Series Team
Okay, this one’s going to take me a minute to explain, but let me get through it.
Finally this week we have Business Casual Alexa Bliss announcing her Raw women’s Survivor Series team. She’s got three heels — Mickie James, obviously, along with Tamina and Nia Jax — and makes a point to vocally address her relationship with Nia, so we don’t have to pretend like they all forgot. Sometimes that’s all you need to do, guys. Nia’s clearly into being evil right now, so emotionally manipulative Alexa Bliss would play to that and try to work together.
Because she’s a terrible person, she announces that Bayley and Sasha Banks have to wrestle each other for the final spot on the team, knowing that being acknowledged and appreciated are basically all Bayley and Banks are ever asking for.
The finish there is the heels just attacking both of them, because they’re jerks, and the reveal that Ruby Riott’s actually the fifth member of the team. Bliss just wanted Bayley and Banks to throw hands at each other for a while and get their asses kicked before telling them they never had a shot. Great heel move. In fact, the only part of Bliss’ team that doesn’t make sense is the remaining member of the team, Natalya, who isn’t present because Ruby Riott and her girl gang made fun of her dead dad again earlier in the night. Maybe they just want Natalya around to kick her ass when it’s over? Who knows.
Anyway, this leads directly into the big finish of the night …
We jump backstage to find Baby Boomer Ronda Rousey getting her arm jacked up by Gen-Z star Becky Lynch, who I will remind you is the goddamn Man. I guess getting woken up for breakfast with your mom trying to break your arm didn’t protect you from this, eh Ronda?
This sets off an “invasion” of the Smackdown women’s roster, and they show up in matching t-shirts (like always) to kick the Raw womens’ asses. Becky wanders out to help, Ronda Rousey shows up with one arm trying to make the save, and Becky beats the shit out of her with a chair. The best part of this, and what makes it Austin 3:16 levels of memorable, is that Becky gets randomly busted open at some point and is covered in blood for most of it. It elevates the entire scenario, makes the fight look dangerous instead of like a rehearsed thing, and, let’s be honest, makes Becky look like the coolest and most bad-ass pro wrestler on the planet. It’s actively depressing that Mattel’s got them so shy about showing blood, even when it happens organically, and that all the highlights of this (including the Fan Nation video above) have to be in black and white.
So, here’s what I’m thinking.
I don’t usually like these “everyone’s friends now because T-shirt colors!” segments, and it’s very weird to see Charlotte Flair out here helping Becky Lynch invade Raw, right? Well, the story of the Smackdown women’s Survivor Series team is that Charlotte’s supposed to be on it, but hasn’t shown up to Smackdown because she needs to “get herself together,” or whatever. Wouldn’t the #1 thing to do here be to have her not show up for the Survivor Series match, only to show up at the end of Rousey vs. Lynch and help Lynch win the match? Charlotte and Becky have a longstanding history together, Becky really seemed to prove a point to Charlotte at Evolution, the crowd reactions could be used to justify Charlotte realizing the fans don’t have her back and fighting for them is pointless, and — most importantly — Ronda shit-talked Charlotte for no reason on Raw here. She didn’t know about “the man.” She just wandered into a sport Charlotte was born into and took all the glory.
PLUS, that aligns Charlotte Flair with Becky Lynch again and elevates them above the rest of the Smackdown team. Who were the two members of the Raw women’s roster who got treated the worst BY the Raw women’s roster moments before this attack? Sasha Banks and Bayley. So wouldn’t it make sense that if Charlotte and Becky figured out how to get along, the Raw duo who were forced to go to therapy for normal pro wrestling reasons would decide to side with them, too?
And that would give you:
And wouldn’t it be interesting to see who Ronda Rousey would have to go get to back her up to fight this team?
Then you’ve got the perfect set-up: a babyface NXT Four Horsewomen who get huge support and backing from the crowd thanks to their association with Becky Lynch and history of actually making a difference in women’s wrestling in the company, not acting like dippy babyfaces because they’ve got motivation and a truckload of bones to pick with the company and their co-workers, and a heel MMA Four Horsewomen built on deluded-ass Ronda Rousey feeling disrespected by a business she barely understands and deciding to buddy up to her friends, who just so happen to be the meanest person in the history of NXT and the two people who cheated to help her win the NXT Women’s Championship.
Give me this. Give me all of this.
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Week
“When Becky was beating me in the middle of the ring with a chair, I was learning armbars!”
Can…can we just have Becky vs Brock at survivor series?
The Legal Man
Cole: “What was the point of even having the match?”
Cole is one of us now.
Corey (in my head): “Sasha is desperate to be on the survivor series team, that’s 4 partners she can stab in the back”
The Real Birdman
“Good news ladies! Your match is main eventing tonight!”
“That’s great! And going on at 10:40? That gives us a TON of time!!”
“Yeah… about that…”
IC champion Pdragon619
Sorry Jinder, Brock doesn’t give a damn about your kids.
Baron Von Raschke
RAW does equal Hotel California. We can check out any time we want…but we can never leave.
That’s what I love about female NXT call ups. I get older, they stay the same age. All Riott all Riott all Riott.
Finn: “I know how to deal with bullies” pulls out phone and calls Becky Lynch
Drew: “Hey now I thought we were all friends here.”
Best Best Of The Night: NO OVERRUN
Ending the show when the show’s supposed to end is the best in the world.
That’s it for this week’s Raw. Make sure do drop a comment below to let us know what you thought of the show, share the column to help us out (especially this week, so we can get more eyes on our Product™ heading into Survivor Series), and be here this weekend for RAW VS. SMACKDOWN ’18 and NXT TakeOver: Thank You For Giving Us Something Good To Watch.
Join us next Monday night as well, when we’re on the Road to TLC: Crazy, Sexy, Cool.