Previously on the Best and Worst of WWE Raw: Raw had a “clean sweep” of Smackdown at Survivor Series at 6-0, because a bunch of tag teams winning a match for Smackdown over Raw on the pre-show doesn’t count, apparently.
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And now, here’s the Best and Worst of WWE Raw for November 19, 2018.
Worst: It Takes About 45 Minutes To Get To The Point Of The Elimination Tag
This week’s show opens with Acting General Manager Constable “Baron” Corbin and Women’s Wrestling Mastermind Stephanie McMahon celebrating their win over Best Wrestler In The Entire World Shane McMahon and Smackdown at Survivor Series. It’s a pretty normal kind of Raw open, with some matches being made for TLC — Braun Strowman vs. Baron Corbin in a TLC match, of all things — and Stephanie executing a Barry Sanders-quality juke on Corbin to get him into a six-man elimination tag team match that starts … right now!
After that, it’s a solid 30 minutes of elimination tag that starts pretty hot, but suffers through two commercial breaks and sort of dies a slow death after Finn Bálor gets eliminated. It’s an elimination tag to get Braun Strowman out there alone with three major heels at once (Corbin, Drew McIntyre, and LASH LEE) so they can hurt him with a con-stair-to to the arm and send him away for a few weeks for some much-needed bone spur surgery.
The reason I’m just like, “here’s what happened,” instead of writing five dense paragraphs about how Baron Corbin reminds me of Gonzo from the Muppet Babies (or whatever) is because that’s the vibe it gives off. They’ve got about an hour of television to fill with what amounts to a regular 8-10 minute Raw segment with no finish, and they stretch it as thin as it can go. It’s more of a means to an end than anything, and it takes forever. Not the worst kind of thing they do, but also overtly not entertaining television. There you go, that’s the first hour of Raw.
P.S. in this analogy Stephanie McMahon is Camilla.
Best/Worst: Poor Renee
After that there’s a promo from Seth Rollins saying he’s heard Dean Ambrose say the word “love” for the first time, which surprises him, because he didn’t think Ambrose was capable of love. Meanwhile, Dean Ambrose’s wife is sitting on commentary like, -_____-
It’s a very simple, but effective mind game on Ambrose’s part. Rollins’ entire arc has been about the regret that comes from taking the easy way out, and he’s spent the past couple of years atoning for his sins as part of the McMahon-Helmsley Facgime. Thanks to some badly timed illnesses and injuries, Rollins reunited with his Shield Bros, but he never got much of a moment in the sun with them. One time Kurt Angle randomly got subbed in, and then Triple H was randomly in The Shield, and other stuff. They finally get it all together, and Roman gets sick. Rollins is all, “it’s still good, it’s still good,” and teams up with Ambrose to win the tag titles, only for Ambrose to boot him in the guts and drop him on his head a few times. So Ambrose knows how emotionally manipulative he can be with Rollins, leveraging that guilt and desire to do the right thing against extremes like, for instance, saying God is punishing Roman Reigns with leukemia because he attacked too many people as part of a bad guy wrestling faction.
My reaction to the very Ozymandias/Dr. Manhattan vibe of “you gave all of your friends CANCER” thing is initially, “wow, really, that sucks.” Which, to be fair, is exactly the reaction you’re SUPPOSED to have. I’ve always thought heels should actually work to be despicable people instead of WWE’s weird interpretation of “evil” as a cowardly guy who has friends or a wife and doesn’t fill all the holes in his heart with The WWE Universe. So yeah, thumbs down to Ambrose for using Reigns’ cancer as storyline fodder, but in a good way, because you definitely know Roman gave him the thumbs up to do it and probably suggested it as a fun idea for heat, and sometimes it helps to turn some scary real-life shit into fiction.
Rollins hunts for Ambrose throughout the show. Ambrose, for whatever reason, cuts a promo with a hankie under his nose about how everyone in Los Angeles smells bad. At least he didn’t accuse us of wearing skinny jeans and munching avocado toast.
Eventually things come to a head in the ring, because if you’re ever looking for someone on Raw, they’re probably in the middle of the brightly lit wrestling ring in the middle of the arena. Because Ambrose is heel now, he gets his ass kicked in the fight until he’s able to hit the Low Blow, suddenly the default special move of anyone who used to like the fans, but doesn’t now. See also: Nakamura, Shinsuke; Bryan, Daniel (son).
This leads to a pretty solid beatdown that ends the show, but really isn’t going to stand out when 80% of the Raw crowd was also at Survivor Series on Sunday and watched Charlotte Flair put the fear of God into Ronda Rousey. Still, it’s good to see them actually putting in the effort to make Dean a bizarre scumbag, which has always been his perfect form. A terrible man in a jacket who screams at people and cuts Raven promos without the “quote the Raven” part at the end is so, so much better than Jim Carrey’s The Mask attacking people with hot dog fixins.
Worst: The Tag Team Division, Like JBL, Is Poopy
First of all, shout-out to Raw for putting on a segment with Drake Maverick, Chad Gable, and a cameo from Delilah Doom and make it so bad I don’t like it. You could have those three people just sit at a table waving at the camera and I’d be like OMG I LOVE YOU ALL SO MUCH I HOPE YOU’RE FEELING GREAT, EAT SOME SOUP. Instead, it’s pee puns. So many pee puns.
If you’re the type who gets a lot of enjoyment out of seeing Bobby Roode, one of the best natural heels in the wrestling business, being a wacky tag team division hero by yelling PEE PEE LOL at people, you probably loved this segment. I don’t know. I don’t know who decided Drake Maverick should piss himself as the finish of a pay-per-view match, or how it helps the Authors of Pain to have people chanting “A-O-pee-pee” during their matches, or why WWE took a babyface, dedicated General Manager character who sincerely wanted to support and promote the cruiserweight division and turned him into a human Baby Wets-a-lot that even the embarrassing-ass Raw tag team division thinks is too embarrassing.
This sets up a tag team match for later, and because the violent hoss destroyers AOP are heels and the tag champs now, they can’t beat anybody. The only defeated The Bar on a urine-related fluke at Survivor Series, and now they’re losing a non-title match to Bobby Roode and Chad Gable. What’s next, Bobby Roode pinning Akam, followed by Bobby Roode pinning Rezar, followed by Bobby Roode and Chad Gable pinning Akam and Rezar, followed by Bobby Roode and Chad Gable pinning Akam and Rezar, followed by Rezar pinning Gable when Akam cheats for him, to set up Bobby Roode and Chad Gable vs. Akam and Rezar for the Tag Team Championship on the TLC pre-show that AOP win?
I … may have watched too much Raw this year. I think I need to see a doctor.
Worst: Speaking Of Bullshit Tag Team Wrestling
Lucha House Party are now able to wrestle matches under “lucha house party rules,” which state that all three members of the team can compete in tag team situations. More directly, it means the babyfaces have a contractually agreed-upon shortcut that lets them cheat in every single match and all their tag matches handicap matches. How in the hell is it fair that three guys get to take on The Revival? What are they gaining from winning these?
Imagine if babyface Finn Bálor made them sign all his matches under “Bálor Club rules,” which means Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows are allowed to be in the ring with Finn and attack his opponent in singles matches. But if his opponent gets any help, they’re disqualified. And then everyone cheered Finn. It’s ridiculous. The Revival should’ve been allowed to have a third guy out there, too, or they should’ve just immediately attacked the referee and beat these pinata-lobbing assholes down with chairs.
Unfortunately the only excuse WWE’s ever going to give is Corey Graves yelling “HOW IS THIS FAIR,” and Michael Cole chuckling and saying the Lucha House Party loves to have fun. Man, fuck the Mexiuncools.
Worst: Achoo Cheempean
The crowd cheered on Charlotte Flair (and, by proxy, Becky Lynch) for beating the ever-loving dog mess out of Ronda Rousey at Survivor Series on Sunday, so on Monday, WWE went into panic mode and had Ronda show up trying to cut an extremely positive, good guy “fighting champion” promo and demand to fight while injured. It’s certainly a better decision than having her pretend to be a 72-year old Republican and call a woman two days older than her a “millennial,” but it’s clearly a water-tread for the character.
You can tell Ronda’s shook, too, because suddenly she’s got a nasally mid-western accent and sounds like Bobby’s mom from Bobby’s World decided to be a fighter. I half expected her to threaten to throw her next opponent into a wood chipper. She kept repeating “a true champion,” but each time it sounded a little more like achoo cheempean. WHILE YOU WERE DOING YOUR POLICE WORK I WAS LEARNING ARMBARS THERE LOU. What is that? You’re from Riverside.
Once again, Ronda’s cutting a promo against an invisible enemy. She has to defend the title tonight or she’s not a TRUE CHAMPION, but she’s the only one saying that, and it’s not like (1) Charlotte didn’t go toe-to-toe with her and beat her within an inch of her life less than a day earlier, and it’s not like (2) Becky Lynch didn’t get her face broken on Monday, get up, finish beating down Ronda, pose with blood all over her face, then show back up the next day to cut a better promo than this on live television with a concussion. Her heroism is insisting upon itself, and that’s the kind of shit that made us start booing Roman Reigns. Did Ronda and Charlotte get freaky friday’d at Survivor Series?
Worst: Seek Not The Good Women’s Wrestling
Ronda demands competition because she loves double double E, and Baron Corbin puts her in a match against Mickie James. There’s not much to it, but after a week of shit-kickings from Smackdown stars, I guess they had to remind us how much better Ronda Rousey’s supposed to be than everyone else on Raw.
Speaking of [gestures wildly], Nia Jax continues her run of circumstantial, accidental dirtbaggery alongside her artistic garbage compactor of a partner with a strong win over Bayley and Sasha Banks. Bayley and Banks did everything they could to make their opponents look good, but right now it would take an actual act of God to make this work on anything but a reactive level. I’m not sure the “we’re booing you because you do your job badly and hurt someone who doesn’t” heat is sustainable, but hopefully they’ll get through the Rousey/Jax title defense with a massive Becky beatdown finish, feed Jax to Bex at Royal Rumble, and then back as far away from the Jax/Tamina team as professionally possible.
At least they’re finally pushing the right people. I mean, who doesn’t look back fondly on those great Nia Jax and Tamina Snuka TakeOver matches?
The best women’s match of the week and winner of the Damning With Faint Praise Award is Natalya vs. Ruby Riott, stemming from their issues the last couple of weeks and their fight during the Survivor Series kickoff show. It’s extremely frustrating to know how good of a wrestler Ruby Riott is and having to watch all her matches be built around stooging from Sarah Logan and Liv Morgan. Can we ever get a match that she just wrestles in without having to make every transition involve multiple ref distractions? It’s like the Ronda Rousey thing, where you can only get the advantage on her in a match by distracting her and shoving her into the post.
Also, for someone with a blood vendetta, Natalya sure does seem to be happy and smiling and waving and doing all her signature spots. “You broke my late father’s memorabilia in front of me, insulted his memory and my relationship with him, made me cry on national television, beat me down 3-on-1, and cost me a spot on the pay-per-view. I’m going to kick your ass! Hold out your arm I wanna do an irish whip.”
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Week
Gable’s out of ring character feels like a Christian camp counselor version of Matt Riddle.
You know what, if my GM scheduled a Natalya match as the main event I’d put him in a TLC match against Braun Strowman too
The Legal Man
If Dean has been smelling Drake’s pee this whole time, I’d pop for the interwoven storylines.
IC champion Pdragon619
Tomorrow, hot off his heroic underdog effort against Brock Lesnar, EVIL Daniel Bryan explains why he’s such a cowardly scumbag.
Baron Von Raschke
Ambrose should stop by the announce table, pull up a chair, and go, “Would you like to ask my wife another question, Michael Cole?”
“17 fights? pfffft” -everyone on the main roster who works a regular schedule.
“I am very aware of how dangerous Nia Jax is”
Is that considered breaking kayfabe?
Bad news for California: now that the fire department is Universal Champion, they won’t be around until April. Stay safe, Cali!
Vince is changing AOP’s name to Urination of Domination.
A piñata with no candy inside feels like a metaphor for RAW
Oh, and since I mentioned the Delilah Doom cameo, I can’t miss shouting out the head of Los Angeles Raw backstage security, NXT STATE LINE member Brandon Taylor, aka the Hobo, aka Robert Baines. SIGN HIM AND MAKE HIM THE NILES TO LARS SULLIVAN’S FRASIER CRANE.
That’s it for this week’s Raw. Thanks for sticking it out with me. After a great NXT TakeOver on Saturday and a mostly pretty good Survivor Series on Sunday, Los Angeles is pretty wrestled out. Smackdown’s probably going to have 10 people in the crowd all sleepily cheering for Becky while scrolling through their phones.
Drop a comment down below to let us know what you thought of the show, share the column on social to seriously help us out, and thanks for Surviving®.