Previously on the Best and Worst of WWE Raw: Bray Wyatt became a demented Pee-wee Herman, AJ Styles won a shot at Seth Rollins’ Universal Championship, and The Viking Experience was renamed “The Viking Raiders.” This week: [shrug]
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And now, here’s the Best and Worst of WWE Raw for April 29, 2019.
Worst: The Same Tired Match Set-Up, Twice
So! This week’s big development is WrestleMania 35 host, talk show host player-coach, and authority figure (?) Alexa Bliss announcing the Raw halves of the Money in the Bank ladder matches at Money in the Bank Pay-Per-View®. Like last week, this is one of those bits you could’ve done in seconds with an on-screen graphic. But if you’re going to make two angles for your episode from the same conceit, can they at least be different ideas?
Up first, Bliss announces Braun Strowman, Ricochet, Drew McIntyre, and [deep, labored sigh] Baron Corbin for the men’s Money in the Bank ladder match. Because there are four wrestlers standing around arguing with each other, that leads to a tag team match.
Money in the Bank isn’t until May 19 — watch your ass, Kane — which means we’re in for a minimum of three episodes of Raw built around the four guys announced for the match having one-on-one or tag team matches with each other to “build momentum,” and so we can see if they “can co-exist.” I don’t honestly believe those are topics anyone in the WWE Universe cares about. Have you ever met a six-year old wrestling fan in full John Cena cosplay at a show who is like, “I hope John Cena wins tonight so he can have a slightly better feeling about his chances going into the pay-per-view? And that those feelings happen internally, off-screen?”
Ricochet and Strowman are a pretty fun tag team (tag team name: Braun and Only), and defeat McIntyre and Corbin (tag team name: Scot Wolf, h/t @DanWeiner) when Drew McIntyre realizes he’s teaming with Baron Corbin and punches him in the face. It’s not a bad match, but ….
- it’s very hard to care about or be impressed by Braun Strowman after they made him the grappling hook murdering, ambulance-flipping coolest and strongest guy on the show only to make him a cowardly heel on a whim, nerf him beyond belief, and then ret-con everything with little to no explanation
- Ricochet is amazing, but the other wrestlers referring to him as a “kid” is pretty funny, and they need to realize that if they sent his tag team partner to another show, he should be doing something besides wrestling in a never-ending deluge of pointless tag matches
- Drew McIntyre is severely suffering from how Raw’s been treating him as a threat and as a character and DESPERATELY needs to start winning some matches, as I’m like 75% sure they’re gonna give him the Money in the Bank briefcase just to job him out constantly and “make you think he’s got no chance” when he cashes in. And then he becomes champion, but loses like four non-title matches to build up his first challenger
- watching Baron Corbin wrestle feels like special interest diarrhea and we should refuse to accept him or make a single noise during his matches until they stop dressing him like he’s a member of Disturbed
About an hour later, we start over.
Alexa Bliss gets a second segment with which to introduce the participants in the women’s Money in the Bank ladder match, which (1) would’ve worked a lot better if she’d just announced it at the top of the show with the men, and which (2) of course immediately leads to another match. If you missed our update about it and can’t watch the WWE Fan Nation videos for some reason, it’s Naomi, Natalya, Dana Brooke, and Bliss herself.
This time they “change it up a little” by having Naomi challenge Bliss one-on-one, which is a great idea when the other two women involved are Natalya and Dana Brooke. Watching those two try to have a human conversation was hilarious, as Raw’s writing team can’t script believable dialogue for real-life best friends, much less quippy banter between Kim Cattrall before and after she’s transformed into a mannequin.
Anyway, the only thing you’re going to remember about Alexa Bliss vs. Naomi from the April 29 edition of Raw is that Bliss’ shoes kept coming untied, so most of the match psychology revolves around her being unsatisfied with her choice in impromptu footwear. The announce team can’t stop talking about it, Naomi keeps attacking her while she’s tying her shoes like an asshole, and the finish sees her lose them completely.
So Bliss’ shoes come off, right, and for some reason she decides to stop wrestling the wrestling match and go pick them up. Once she’s picked them up she decides to turn and face the referee to yell at him about … something, instead of, you know, putting her shoes back on or like, tossing them out and doing the damn thing Von Erich-style. That means she causes her own distraction finish, and Naomi is able to hit a desperation Jumping Butthole and a split-legged moonsault for the win. And this was the match between the two good participants in the Raw side of the Money in the Bank ladder match. Wait until they’re building entire three-minute segments around Dana Brooke not being able to concentrate because she lost her scrunchie.
Worst: Day One Eesh
Whoever’s been micromanaging the IIconics on Raw the past couple of weeks must’ve been handed the keys to the Usos this week, because holy shit is it embarrassing.
First, they sing their own entrance theme now. And not in the funny Shawn Michaels or Tyler Breeze way, either, they just sing along to the track so production can cut to awkward wrestling fans dancing in the crowd. Raw also manages to mistime a commercial break during The Usos entrance, meaning we have to watch them stand around in the ring waiting for the song to restart so they can jump back in and keep singing. It’s like an extra, double R-Truth entrance nobody approved or asked for.
That’s followed by a match between the Usos and the AEW-adjacent Good Brothers. It’s fine, and bless the Usos for bringing Actual Tag Team Matches Between Actual Tag Teams back to Raw for a hot minute, but you (or I, I guess) can only get so into Gallows and Anderson matches. There’s just … nothing there, and I’m not sure how much of it lies on their shoulders. That doesn’t matter, though, because it’s time for The Vincent Kennedy McMahon Colgate Comedy Hour.
The Usos recorded video of Dash Wilder shaving Scott Dawson’s back in the locker room showers, and they think it is very funny. They probably could’ve made fun of them for, like, grooming in the middle there and being in everybody’s way, but how old do you have to be to think this shit is funny? The answers are “seven or below” and “60 and over” with nothing in-between.
The real money here is in listening to the commentary table, where Corey Graves and Renee Young try to figure out why it’s a big deal for a friend to help another friend groom, especially on a show where nearly everyone is completely hairless, while Michael Cole takes a hardline boomer-who-wrote-this-in-his-earpiece stance.
Graves: “it’s not funny”
Renee: “it’s a completely normal thing for adults to do, def not funny”
Cole: “heh but you have to admit that it’s pretty funny”
What’s next, hidden video revealing that Scott Dawson’s breath is bad? Body and hygiene humor is to Vince McMahon what kids recoiling from stinky feet is to Dan Schneider. It’s not even a misunderstanding of modern empathy and masculinity, it’s just that a very old, very rich, very white man thinks the shit that was too corny for the Our Gang comedies he grew up with would be a great idea for his 3-hour prime-time television show in 2019.
Sure enough, The Revival — the team that brought good tag team wrestling back to WWE by reforming NXT’s then-terrible idea of tag teams in their own image — is getting “shave your back” heat during their most recent loss to Zack Ryder and Curt Hawkins via “surprise” roll-up. Which is double lame because he did shave his back. That was the joke. I guess “shaved your back!” isn’t much of a chant. Anyway, larger point, this is what WWE’s doing with the two best tag teams in the company on what’s supposed to be their “A-show.” Cool cool cool cool cool cool cool cool.
Best: Lord, I Was Born A Ramblin’ Rabbit
For a positive thing from this week’s show, here’s the latest edition of Bray Wyatt’s Satanic Blue’s Clues.
I’m not sure what my favorite part here is, but it’s either Wyatt dropping in a Nacho Libre-style “take it eas-sy” when talking to Abby the Witch, or the “Ramblin’ Rabbit” puppet that looks like the robot monster from Robot Monster. He’s also making “sociopath” the word of the day, doing Sami Zayn’s job in much less time, and painting pictures of Sister Abigail dying in a house fire to reference his character’s convoluted past. I am all in on this if he works through his issues through art therapy. Then maybe Braun Strowman can be like, “maybe therapy works?”
I do still hope these segments continue to change and grow and lead to something involving wrestlers wrestling, but for now, at least for me and my thirsty-ass need for something even kind of different on Monday Night Raw, they’re two for two.
Study Question: If Eric Young is Mercy the Buzzard and Nikki Cross is Abby the Witch, who gets to be Ramblin’ Rabbit? Rowan? Allie? Adam Rose’s bunny?
As For Sami Zayn
He’s still doing the same bit. He’s still fantastic at it, too, but I’m not sure how much the already burdensome sports-entertainment show needs a dedicated 10 minutes a week where someone points out all the ways the people who watch it are garbage. Like the Wyatt thing, the Zayn thing seriously needs a hook where Zayn’s either “wrong” in some way (which he hasn’t really been so far) or someone we like more than him stands up for the reality of the situation, or else it’s just endless, brutal condemnation of the only audience left.
We know we suck, dude. We wouldn’t be watching this if we were cool. And if we loved or respected ourselves we wouldn’t have gotten far enough into an episode of Raw to hear you explain why we’re awful. On top of that, the “if you don’t get exactly what you want when you want it how you want it you throw tantrums” view of the fandom is in contrast with the whole “there wouldn’t be a WWE without the WWE Universe, and now YOU are the authority” shit we didn’t believe to begin with, but probably don’t need to be constantly reminded of.
Maybe chill with the biting the hands that feed you? “Fans” aren’t the reason this one show of your many long, televised, weekly wrestling shows is always terrible. Right now you’re the guy at the intervention screaming at us about how we’re not real friends because we made him have an intervention.
Also On This Episode
Lacey Evans has finally become an unrealistic depiction of her character by disliking the white immigrants, too.
Bobby Lashley, doing a bad job pretending to be The Rock, is interviewed The Miz, who got popular by pretending to be The Rock until he got good at it. For whatever reason, Lashley says he’s “seen Miz TV before” and gets straight to the “causing Miz to fight you” part by awkwardly trying to call Miz’s dad a potato. If you put Lashley in a rap battle he’d just suffocate and die on stage.
That leads to a moment that probably sounded really good on paper, where Shane McMahon attacks Miz and chokes him out while continuing to make fun of his dad.
In practice, you had Shane McMahon squeezing Miz to death with his thighs while they stared at a big picture of George Mizanin, and there’s some serious postmodernist Father Complex shit going on. I haven’t seen the McMahon family’s psychological issues played out on TV this blatantly since Stephanie made out with Eric Bischoff while he was dressed like her dad.
Miz and Shane will have a steel cage match at Money in the Bank, as WWE understands at this point “what might he jump or fall off of” is the only thing keeping people watching Shane McMahon matches in 2019.
The Viking Experience continues as The Viking Raiders, who managed to get through the week without anyone actually changing their names, squash their … rivals? the Lucha House Party.
Not much to say here other than WWE naming the Raiders’ finishing move “The Viking Experience” is an absolutely epic troll job. It’d be like if they’d named Charlotte Flair’s finisher the “Submission Sorority.” Who (Vince) thinks that “The Viking Experience” (Vince) is so cool (Vince) that they have to keep it around (Vince) and use it for something (Vince) even though everyone else hates it (Vince)?
Rey Mysterio Has Pinned The United States Champion!
I’m starting to wonder if Chekhov’s Dominick is actually going to get beaten up to “send a message” to Mysterio, David Flair-style, or if it’s all a swerve and Prince Mysterio’s WALTER-looking ass is gonna decide to be Joe’s protege. Joetege.
The contract signing between AJ Styles and Seth Rollins is also a by-the-number kind of fine, but it’s worth noting that you can see people filing out to leave in the background when Styles is talking. Raw is never weaker than when the main event is a “contract signing” for a match that has already been announced. Just once I want them to announce a match and then have the participants refuse to sign the contract due to some minor legal infraction or wording choice, and the match not happen. Sorry, WWE Universe, Seth Rollins and AJ Styles never signed the contract so we have no pay-per-view main event, but we’ve signed this Heath Slater and Rhyno vs. The Good Brothers backup match. Enjoy!
Styles vs. Rollins will be a very good match, I’m sure, but I’m not looking forward to them spending a month building these long-winded promos out of two babyface characters who’ve rarely ever interacted. Just have the match, guys, we don’t need Styles cutting these 10-minute Undertaker promos where he clearly forgets what he’s trying to say a couple minutes in and just keeps talking until he remembers.
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Week
Bad News Burke
Friday, Avengers: Wow, I can’t believe that was three hours! It went so fast.
Monday, Raw: Wow, I can’t believe I’m still watching this. How is it only 9:15??
Miz going from Shane McMahon to Bobby Lashley is like going from a small sickly child to Bobby Lashley
Lacey Evans looks like she asks for a fresh glass everytime she orders another mimosa at brunch
Now hit them with your favorite pose, Shane!
*Passes out, red-faced*
You Just Made The List
Miz: Have you seen my wife??
Lashley: Have you seen my sisters??
When Lacey hits you twice, it’s called the Second Amendment.
“male authority keeps the Irish from receiving Women’s Right”
you guys wouldn’t be complaining if the Usos were Bayley and Ember and The Revival were the IIconics
Baron Von Raschke
I think that WWE is way too into the thought that fans care about the Brand Split. Like making fun of Smackdown on Raw might look good on paper, but the people in the crowd are fans of WWE not of Raw. It really doesn’t make sense when they bring Smackdown to Lexington in seven months.
Becky Lynch set to face Charlotte Flair and Golden Age Charlotte Flair in the same night.
That’s it for this week’s Raw. We made it through another one!
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Join us next week for [same]!