Previously on the Best and Worst of Raw: Raw finally took a few steps forward in regard to character development, utilizing its immense roster of talent, and the prestige of its championships. This week, they show you how you can’t just back up and take those same steps again. That’s not how steps work.
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And now, the Best and Worst of WWE Raw for December 2, 2019.
This Week’s Raw In A GIF
I appreciate Kevin Owens as the one character in the WWE Universe who has been watching WWE television and reacts appropriately. I too often slump to the ground and put my head in my hands during the first 20 minutes of Raw. I too scream, “oh my God OH MY GOD OH MY GOD NO ONE CARES! NO ONE CARES!” at the mindlessly twirling WWE Superstars about to launch into their hammy-ass monologues that go nowhere, accomplish nothing, and barely ever make sense. I also struggle to enjoy this era of “the product” but keep showing up every week out of obligation, and am a bearded white guy in my 30s who wears wrestling shirts and gym shorts all the time who is bad at friendships and gets irrationally mad at anything even mildly inconvenient in my life. It’s reassuring to see yourself represented on screen.
This week’s show opens with Owens interrupting Seth Rollins’ “apology” for last week’s show, and yes, more episodes of Raw need to open with everyone apologizing. Owens says that Rollins’ insistence that WWE is his family and that he only lashes out like this and hurts them because he cares so much about them smells like, “when the rodeo comes to Nashville, you know, because, like, the animals and stuff.” More succinctly:
For anyone new to the product or wondering, the use of “shit” on Monday Night Raw was actually pioneered by Bret Hart way back in 1997. But still, if this continues to escalate until Kevin Owens is telling Seth Rollins that his promos are, “fucking garbage,” I’m in.
This, of course, turns into a promo parade. Up first is an interruption from the Authors of Pain, who get “what” chants and heel heat in 2019 for speaking in a foreign language. There’s a lot of that going around this week. The Kabuki Warriors get it during their backstage interview, too. At least the AOP got through theirs without Jerry Lawler doing an impersonation of Mr. Yunioshi from Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Not being from America and not speaking American makes you bad, by the way, in case you aren’t familiar with this globally popular medium’s documented history of leveraging prejudice to steal stupid people’s money. Kevin Owens wants to fight Rollins, but Rollins bails, so he wants to fight AOP instead. They bail, too, because even the people tasked with opening Raw don’t want to keep being on it.
Two people who just can’t get enough of being on Raw are Lana and Bobby Lashley, who answer Owens’ challenge. Lana promos are like podcasts for shows you’ve never seen, and I’m disappointed that the quickest way to impress Vince McMahon these days is to be really bad at your job, but refusing to stop doing it. If people at wrestling shows boo you because they don’t want to have to sit through this shit again and have no other way to directly communicate to you, it’s considered the same as being booed for actually angering, manipulating, or “working” them. It’s called “getting a reaction,” and is the only reason Sheamus has been a mainstay champion for the past 10 years despite never once being given a good story or line of dialogue.
Owens vs. Lashley happens, because it happened at Starrcade on Sunday and sometimes it’s easier to copy and paste instead of writing a new episode. The Starrcade match had no finish due to Rusev interfering. The Raw match had no finish because of AOP interfering. AOP literally drag Owens to the backstage area — nobody helps him or even checks to see what happened or make sure he’s fine for the next two and a half hours — to talk about next week’s Kevin Owens vs. Bobby Lashley match, which will have no finish due to Seth Rollins interfering. Or AOP interfering again and Rollins making the save for Owens. These segments are so paint-by-numbers everyone should be wearing white t-shirts with 1, 2, and 3 on them.
Quick question: If Owens hates the show and everyone on it so much, why didn’t he take Triple H up on his offer to just go back to NXT permanently? Is he not allowed to mention that again because Survivor Series is over?
Afterward, the segment rolls on with Lashley being interrogated by Charly Caruso about AOP’s involvement. This gets interrupted by Rusev, who attacks Lashley and manages to escape in full view of the police officers Lana brought to the ring to enforce her various restraining orders.
How did Rusev get within “90 miles” or whatever of her without anyone noticing, you might ask? Well, according to the police officers, it’s because the State of Tennessee “does things differently.” Which means … not enforcing the law? The plain clothes police officer of doom explains that he’s a WWE fan, which I guess means he’s allowed to enable dudes who are breaking the law because he likes them, and arrest the innocent people he doesn’t. Lashley kinda gently bumps into him on the way out, which immediately gets him arrested. Lana’s restraining order might not be valid in Tennessee, but we’re at least 90 miles from any of this being good or making sense. It “gets a reaction,” though, so WWE brass and contrarian fanboy Twitter will tell you it’s going great.
Oh, also, Lana slaps a cop and gets arrested, too. Why doesn’t Rusev just give up on these two weirdos and send Hot Summer a “hey” text? She’s doing GREAT.
Pretty much the entire middle of the show is nothing but squash matches, but don’t worry; some of those come with promo parades, too. As soon as the first half hour-plus of Raw is done building to a disqualification and an arrest angle, we get Drew McIntyre flipping Akira Tozawa for real with a Claymore. Jerry Lawler once again can’t resist the short jokes and the constant dumping on anyone who isn’t a top star, which definitely helps, but at least he didn’t launch into a full ME SO SOLLY routine.
After the match, McIntyre calls out a largely disinterested Randy Orton and argues with him about who is more “ferocious” — definitely a realistic word choice, coming out of a realistic human being’s mouth — and ragging on him for posting on social media. There’s a deep anti-social media sentiment on this episode, by the way, which is weird consider how proudly everyone’s Twitter handles are displayed during entrances and how often WWE makes Did You Know? graphics to tell everyone how good they are at social media. Social media’s good if you use it to say WWE’s great, but it’s bad if you say anything else. Got it.
Orton makes a face like he’s trying to get the right look for a selfie …
… until The O.C. interrupts. AJ Styles wants a match against Orton for costing him the United States Championship on last week’s show, so the guy who originally called out Orton in the first place is just like, “okay, I’m no longer needed in this segment, deuces.” This quickly turns into a Raw opening segment where The O.C. attack Orton 3-on-1 until Ricochet makes the save. Ricochet, Randy Orton’s good friend who teamed with him once because Orton openly said it’d be beneficial for him. Ricochet can’t turn the tide with a single man’s flips, so Humbert Carrillo (with a new theme, RIP Dale Gas) shows up. That immediately brings out Rey Mysterio to make it 3-on-3. This sets up a six-man tag for the main event.
I just want to point out that a segment that started as Drew McIntyre calling out Randy Orton ended up not involving Drew McIntyre or Randy Orton. Following a Kevin Owens vs. Seth Rollins and AOP segment that ended up being about Bobby Lashley, Rusev, and the lackadaisical nature of the Tennessee police. Did Vince McMahon forget to take his cholinesterase inhibitors on Monday morning, or what?
In Other Squash News
Aleister Black squashes Tony Nese.
Is it concerning to anybody else that Raw and Smackdown removed all the top cruiserweight stars and former champions from 205 Live — Mustafa Ali, Cedric Alexander, Buddy Murphy, Drew Gulak, and now Tony Nese — just to make them infrequently reoccurring jobbers? Then they moved the Cruiserweight Championship to NXT and put it on Lio Rush, and left 205 Live itself stocked with guys like The Bollywood Boyz and Ariya Daivari? You built a division, gave it a show, penalized anyone who did well on it without any love or promotion by bumping them up to the lowest rung on a different show, and then more or less separated the champion from the division. Why the fuck would anybody want to watch 205 Live at this point? If you don’t want a show, just don’t make the show. Goddamn.
Oh, and speaking of Buddy Murphy, his currently storyline with Aleister Black has gone from “knocked on Black’s door to pick a fight with him, initially missed Black answering the door, and now doesn’t really want to fight him after all,” to, “wants Aleister Black to loosen up and have fun?” Why am I even giving this a paragraph, they don’t know what the story’s about either. They could’ve just run Black vs. Murphy on NXT on Wednesday with zero build and we’d all be losing our minds over it. Gotta make sure people are extremely not interested before moving forward!
Andrade squashes Eric Young, who still exists.
This is the best of the squashes, because Young’s really good at putting other wrestlers over and making them look good. To quote our own Elle Collins, though, “Eric Young turns forty in two weeks, and honestly he doesn’t look a day over fifty-six.”
A NASCAR guy squashes R-Truth to win the 24/7 Championship. Truth wins it back later, of course, off-screen. Sami Zayn has never held a WWE main roster championship, but NASCAR’s Kyle Busch has. Cool. 24/7 championship retire bitch
Erick Rowan squashes No Way Jose.
Lawler earns some overtime pay for making sure we all know what a worthless piece of shit No Way Jose is. He also asks the other announcers why they keep calling Rowan’s burlap sack, “a cage.” This comes shortly after being impressed with Aleister Black’s finisher, which (1) he’s apparently seeing for the first time, and (2) he calls the “Black Magic.” No more boomer announcers ever. Between Lawler’s racist grandpa incompetence and JR being the world’s least informed or interested man on AEW Dynamite, I’m honestly fine moving head-held-high into the Vic Joseph era, where every single play-by-play man is molded into the Muppet Babies version of Michael Cole. At least I don’t have to worry about a boring-ass Tom Phillips type saying someone, “looks oriental.”
The Viking Raiders FINALLY get a chance to squash a pair of unqualified local jobbers. God, I’ve been BEGGING Raw to book a match like this. Nobody will be able to tell how powerful and cool The Viking Raiders are unless they defeat two guys who couldn’t believably intimidate a group of Cub Scouts 75 weeks in a row!
Their opponents are identified (thanks to YouTube) as Mark Sterling and Mitchell Lyons. “Mark Sterling” is what happens when you accidentally scuff the silverware. “Mitchell Lyons” sounds like a middle school football team. I was calling this one, “Fake Hager.”
As a quick side note, the funniest Raw moment of the year happens during this match. The Viking Raiders are trying to get “aimlessly screaming about everything” over, possibly in loving tribute to Mauro Ranallo, so Erik the Viking stands on the apron and yells, “ARE YOU WATCHING!!!!” The crowd, in response, starts chanting, “no one’s watching.” The best part is that they left it in the YouTube clip. Skip to 0:45.
Meanwhile, The Handicap Match Is Wildly Competitive
The lesson from this Raw: winning one-on-one is very easy, but winning TWO-on-one is nearly impossible.
The best match of the night, oddly, is Charlotte Flair competitively wrestling the Women’s Tag Team Champions by herself for almost 16 minutes. Charlotte has lost numerous Women’s Tag Team Championship matches to the champions in less time — only beating them that one time when Natalya was randomly her partner, which everyone agreed to completely forget about — so I guess having a partner was the problem? It’s a weird situation that manages to devalue pretty much everyone involved in like three different directions — Flair’s previous partners, the ability of Kairi Sane and goddamn ASUKA to win matches by themselves without cheating or the Damned Numbers Game, the Women’s Tag Team Championship itself for its most competitive match ever being 2-on-1, and so on –but at least the wrestling parts were kinda good? On a Raw like this, I’ll take what I can get. Feels like it woudl’ve been more effective if you’d built up a real tag team partner for Flair instead of randomly inserted singles stars like Lynch and Natalya and THEN ran a competitive 16-minute match with a clean finish to put over the champs, but what do I know?
Afterward, Charly Caruso finds Charlotte and asks her if she regrets challenging the tag champions, since she lost. Charlotte just says, “no,” and walks away. Cool. Cool cool cool.
And Then, Randy Orton!
The main event is also perfectly watchable, with a clean finish and the heel team that’s actually a cohesive unit and not a random collection of humans going over. It’s nothing special, but again, on a Raw like this, I’ll take what I can get. Mysterio got one of those Kofi Kingston demotions where he lost to Brock Lesnar and is suddenly struggling against Karl Anderson or whoever, Ricochet’s Ricochet but has basically regressed back into a total spot machine thanks to Raw never asking or compelling him to tell an actual story in the ring, and Humberto Carrillo is a precious little Cabbage Patch Kid of a wrestler who gets so little heat right now that the crowd has to wear their jackets. I love those guys and all three of those modifiers are the creative culture of Raw’s fault, in case I wasn’t being clear.
It’s mostly an excuse to get to the post-match attack, which is Randy Orton sneaking up on AJ Styles and delivering another RKO that is promoted as, “from outta nowhere,” but is clearly premeditated and “from somewhere.” It’s fine. Pay no attention to the fact that the Good Brothers, Rey Mysterio, Ricochet, Humberto Carrillo, and Drew McIntyre are all basically stepping stones to get us to another AJ Styles vs. Randy Orton pay-per-view match. Raw rolls on, after the break!
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Week
“Maybe you guys are making Charlotte look TOO strong.” -Roman Reigns
I haven’t seen a crowd that quiet since Andrade wrestled Eric Young.
well arresting a black man who didn’t do anything is how they do it in Tennessee
Plot twist: Erick Rowan has Luke Harper’s push in that cage and no one will ever get to see it.
They’re going to come back from commercial after this segment with Charley asking Randy Orton about AOP
The Real Birdman
In the spirit of Cyber Monday, Raw took 50% wrestling off tonight’s show!
Let’s hope Corey Graves didn’t coach Seth Rollins on how to give an apology.
If this doesn’t end with the 24/7 division chasing Kyle Busch around a Nascar race track, what are we even doing here?
Tony Nese is Damien Sandow’s after picture in a supplement commercial
Big Baby Yeezus
“Wait, you can ask for a fight while in the ring?”- Aleister Black
Next Week On Raw
If Raw could just pull two consecutive decent shows, I’d feel like I’d witnessed a miracle. Just TWO, guys. In a row. I’m begging you.
That’s it for this week’s show recap. Sorry! Make sure to drop down into our comments section and let us know what you thought of the episode, nobody’s reading this part so let me include a line about how Jeffrey Epstein didn’t kill himself, and share the column on social media to help us out. We appreciate you reading every week, whether we’re putting way more effort into writing Raw than Raw is or not. TLC is in 12 days! No, really, hahah. BYE.