Previously on the Best and Worst of Raw: Money! Money money money money money money money money! Money in the Bank came and went with one successful cash-in, two Money in the Bank briefcase winners from Raw, and three terrible vertical suplexes.
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Here’s the Best and Worst of WWE Raw for June 18, 2018.
Best: Rebel Rouser
The theme of this week’s Raw is, “start strong, and end with a whimper.”
The strong opening — and easily the most enjoyable and forward-thinking part of the show — is Ronda Rousey’s confrontation with Alexa Bliss, which re-imagines the Nia Jax/Ronda Rousey feud as Ronda dealing with an actual heel with a history of bullying as part of their character. Someone’s not just randomly being mean to her to set up a match. Bliss’ whole deal is that she’s not that strong physically, but can emotionally and socially manipulate you to the point of madness. Bliss pushes all of Ronda’s most obvious buttons, causing her to flip the hell out and attack Bliss, Kurt Angle and a bunch of referees with the Money in the Bank Halliburton like she’s a Mexican grandma with a chancla.
Ronda Rousey’s anarchic “I can do anything I put my mind to” character is her best attribute as a wrestler, I think, because it allows her to be Stone Cold Steve Austin-esque without feeling like it’s betraying her innate sensibilities. She was born and bred by crazy Olympics parents to be an unfeeling judo robot. That is her actual life. So when she’s pushed to these ridiculous degrees by these ridiculous pro wrestling humans, she’s going to go into fight or flight, flip that unfeeling judo robot switch, and start hammering people into the ground.
The suspension angle is interesting, I guess, because it comes up with a way to get Rousey out of the title picture for a minute and explain why she’s not sprinting toward Alexa Bliss at 8PM every Monday and trying to kill her. It’s like when Braun Strowman got murdered in a garbage truck. That really only happened because you couldn’t book around him. Rousey looks like a total bad-ass, gets some of that organic Rage Frenzy stuff WWE wants from its top babyfaces, and establishes that she’s not just a tough female competitor, she’s a special kind of threateningly crazy. They’ve done a really great job with her so far, I think, especially considering how bad she can still be on a microphone.
Best: This Entire Raw Is Going To Be Really Good, I Bet!
That great opener is followed by Dolph Ziggler challenging Seth Rollins for the Intercontinental Championship and winning it in a hot match via Rollins getting karmic comeuppance for what happened at Money in the Bank. At MITB, Rollins got pushed to an uncomfortable place by Young Lion Elias and grabbed a handful of Dockers in an O’Connor Roll to get leverage on a pin. That’s who Rollins was as a character for YEARS, and it was interesting to see him sink low again despite all his babyface grandeur lately and take a shortcut.
Here, Ziggler turns that around on him less than 24 hours after Money in the Bank and pins him in an O’Connor Roll, with a handful of tights. It makes Ziggler look smart for having done a basic amount of research — and going into a championship match with a fucking gameplan — and teaches Rollins an important, immediate lesson: that heel actions ultimately have consequences, and that being a conniving, Authoritarian heel is a slippery damn slope akin to drug addiction for him. If he doesn’t cut that shit out now, he’s going to end up snicker-laughing in front of Jamie Noble and Joey Mercury again. If he doesn’t cut it out, he’s going to end up as DOLPH ZIGGLER. The line is thin, man.
The post-match attack from Ziggler and Drew McIntyre did a good job of refocusing the beef as well, because now Rollins can sorta get his revenge on them and move on from the Intercontinental Championship scene via a tag feud, or any number of things. Maybe Ambrose can come back to back him up, or Bad Friend Roman Reigns can stop thinking about himself for two seconds and pitch in. I love Rollins as IC champ, but that dude’s on another level right now and should lunge-step ahead of Lashley on the list of possible Brock Lesnar championship opponents. How great would it be if Rollins got the match with Lesnar at SummerSlam, only to lose via a Money in the Bank cash-in from a crazy guy who wasn’t originally in the match? Karma. Karma forever.
Also I hope next week’s Raw starts with Ziggler forfeiting the title and walking out.
Best: What Does Beast Incarnate Stand For
While the Rollins story is the best on-paper idea heading into SummerSlam, part of me wants to see Elias actually get a championship match against Brock Lesnar at Extreme Rules and just kick his ass and win it. How unexpected and awesome would that be? Roman Reigns spends like three years trying to beat Brock, Braun Strowman gets pinned clean, but goony-ass Elias Samson shows up and Drifts him Away into dust. He just has his number. That would RULE.
Additionally, monkeys might fly out of my butt.
Best: Bo Dallas’ Bray Wyatt Impersonation
Oh, The B-Team. They show up from Bray Wyatt’s haunted backstage fog room to dress up like the Raw Tag Team Championship and shade them with novelty lamps and costume beards. Axel’s Matt Hardy is pretty funny, but Dallas was literally born with a good Windham Rotunda impression.
I would give anything — anything — for the exorcised spirit of Bray Wyatt to find its way out of the Lake of Reincarnation and into Bo Dallas’ body, turning him into an actual “Bray Wyatt.” Have him do the voice and the character and the mannerisms and everything. Have the Bludgeon Brothers and Braun Strowman start following him around. Go all the way with it, with poor Curtis Axel standing around making stupid faces, wondering what went wrong.
Worst: Those Are All The Good Things From This Week’s Raw
I’ve already written two 3,000 word columns this weekend, so I’m gonna skip the dense analysis for this and just say Bobby Lashley and Roman Reigns cutting passive-aggressive promos on each other about who should get to lose a title match first only to become a mismatched “how can they co-exist” tag team and squash the goddamn Revival is very close to an ultimate nightmare segment for me. All it needed to open the final circle to hell was someone dressed up as a celebrity and Michael Cole scream-arguing about how much he loves pro wrestling. Or like, Shane McMahon’s blood pressure jowels.
The Revival, The Ascension and Breezango should pile into a hippie van and drive back to Orlando.
If we gave out star ratings, the middle of the show would be a bunch of [NR] in a row. The most unrateable of the not-rateds is Bobby Roode defeating Curt Hawkins in 43 seconds. They should just do Hawkins vs. James Ellsworth in a Loser Leaves Town match at Extreme Rules. Ellsworth can dress in Hawkins’ clothes, and Hawkins can stand there staring at him, terrified, for several minutes.
Jinder Mahal cuts about five minutes of a Jinder Mahal promo to set up about 2 1/2 of him beating Chad Gable. That’s another worst case scenario, isn’t it? Having to watch Jinder talk, followed by having to watch Jinder wrestle, followed by WWE continuing to ignore the great character work Chad Gable did over the past year on short-ass notice as a result of a rando Jason Jordan push to make him Just Another Guy. It’s not bad from a technical standpoint, but it doesn’t need to happen at all, and is on the shortlist of ideas I’m cutting out of the script with scissors if I see it again.
Also hitting an N and an R between brackets is Mojo Rawley vs. No Way Jose, which ALSO lasts less than three minutes and only seems to be here to remind Raw crowds that Mojo exists. He’s added a bad F-5 to his finish now, since the running punch in the corner wasn’t lighting anyone on fire. Mojo gives a short interview after the match about how he stays “focused” instead of “hype” now, and No Way Jose’s lying there trying to figure out how long ago the night after WrestleMania was, and why he already feels so terrible.
Worst: Oh No, Bayley And Sasha Banks Are Breaking Up
Still? Shout-out to whoever decided to cryonically freeze this feud so they wouldn’t have to address it or do anything over WrestleMania weekend (or on the several followup pay-per-views), then thought to randomly thaw it out on Raw. Bayley hates Sasha Banks because she’s a bad friend who is basically a popular heel. Sasha hates Bayley because she’s a moron and rarely helpful. They should’ve just punched each other about it to a resolution months ago, probably when Sasha was turning on Bayley at practically every major show, but now we’re back to fussy arguments and shove fights. Bottles of water being thrown at cars as they drive away.
It reminds me a lot of the Stone Cold Steve Austin and Vince McMahon feud, honestly. Remember when Austin and McMahon hated each other for a few years and then suddenly the story was that they were best friends since birth, and they hugged each other and cried every week for a year? And then Austin got mad that Vince wasn’t communicating his feelings well enough and Vince got mad that Austin forgot his birthday or whatever, and they made sad faces about it backstage for months? And then the feud blew up when they rolled their eyes at each other and pushed each other a little, and then everyone forgot it for six months until Austin and Vince started losing tag matches to the Headbangers? And then we got six more months of Austin and McMahon subtweeting each other, only for creative to completely forget and team them up again? It’s just like that. Such a great story.
Festival Of Fiendship
I’m not going to give this a Best or a Worst, because it’s a perfectly fine segment that I really hated. Here’s why:
- Mr. Monster in the Bank is stupid as hell. It’s like George Michael Bluth calling himself “Mr. Manager.”
- Kevin Owens is too good of an actor for these segments sometimes, so while the idea is that he’s a manipulative jerk who’s trying to get in good with Braun to inevitably stab him in the back, he comes across sounding way too sincere, triggering a bunch of smark talking points in my brain that’re like HE WAS JUST TRYING TO BE NICE. He’s like, not mean enough sometimes. Or at least not clear enough that his manipulations of kindness are purposely manipulative. WWE’s long history of making heels seem like rational people with thought processes and booking babyfaces as 2-D emotional monsters complicates these very easy stories sometimes.
That’s probably a wordy way to put it, and I should probably not get worried when WWE attempts to be at least MILDLY subtle, but it was my first reaction to the bit. Braun is smart for trying to powerslam the guy behind the Red Wedding that was the Festival of Friendship, I just wasn’t a fan of the execution.
That sets up a tag team main event, and I swear I can’t come up with something better to say about it than, “I’m happy for Baron Corbin.” What an upgrade that guy’s made over the past few weeks, huh? He went from a forgotten jobber to the stars with a dying skullet to this young, energetic, relatively fashionable pro wrestler who has a point on the show, delivers dialogue as well as you could expect, and pins Finn Bálor clean in Raw main events. What a positive step forward for him as a WWE Superstar.
Other than that, it was the Raw singles stars in a tag match main event you see roughly 50 out of 52 weeks a year. Nothing on this Raw pissed me off — the Revival stuff made me mad, but I sorta made peace with it the second their music hit, because shit, at least they got paid to be on television — but nothing stood out, either, aside from the first half hour. I’m not sure I can call it “progress,” but it’s better than the past few weeks at least.
That’s a pretty low bar, but it is what it is.
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Night
Baron Corbin: Ready. Willing. And Constable.
The Real Birdman
Vince: “Oh you don’t like Roman?! Well here’s Lashley! MUAHHAHAHAHA”
*Scrooge McDucks into a swimming pool of subscriber money*
The Voice of Raisin
Corbin looks like a dad who got home from work and immediately had to deal with a furnace problem in the basement.
Corbin missed a billiard tournament for this match tonight.
Cena doesn’t have to go to a surgeon to get his vasectomy reversed, he just has to get in the right mindset and set to work overcoming the wads.
(Sasha enters the Hotel Lobby and is met by an out-of-breath Bayley)
Bayley (panting): “We…aren’t…friends…any…any….” (faints)
Bayley throwing a perfectly good bottle of water in Michigan these days, seems they are turning her heel.
Continuing the trend of being friends with small people. Oh my god Braun is a size queen
IC Champion PdragolphZiggler
Bayley has reached the conclusion that all smart husbands do, when the wife gets angry just nod and say she’s right.
Riott Squad: *Smashes guy’s laptop*
Guy: “I was just writing Vince a letter to push you guys, but sure whatever.”
That’s it for this week. Drop us a comment below to let us know what you thought about the show, give the column a share on social media if you don’t mind, and join us next week for Seth Rollins’ rematch for the Intercontinental Championship, The Revival losing a tag match to Baron Corbin and a pile of laundry, and a brave new WWE universe without Big Cass.