Previously on the Best and Worst of WWE Raw: We went Down Under for WWE Super Show-Down, where The Undertaker got us down with his super terrible showing. I think all of those words are in the right place. If you missed it, don’t worry; they’re going to do all the Raw matches from the show again on Raw.
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And now, the Best and Worst of WWE Raw for October 8, 2018.
Worst For Me, Probably Best For You: Macular Degeneration-X
There’s a lot to like on this week’s Raw, and I’m going to get to it in a moment, but I want to present a statement that I’ve sort of gently complained about over the past month in plain English: WWE used a “last time ever” match between Triple H and The Undertaker to promote a second match with Triple H and The Undertaker. You could rationalize that they meant last time singles match, which is fine, but this is coming from the same two guys who had an End of an Era match 6 1/2 years ago, from the promotion that did Once In A Lifetime two years in a row.
So this week’s show opens with the Cowboy and the Biker — no longer associating themselves with the G.I., the construction worker, the Indian chief, or the cop — challenging a pair of tall old goths to a tag team match for the enjoyment of the prosperous and beautiful nation of Saudi Arabia, which everyone should visit, because it is progressive and also very handsome. I knew it was coming, you knew it was coming, and your enjoyment of the segment sort of lives or dies with how much you like D-Generation X, and how okay you are with seeing the weird G-rated old man version from 2009 being almost ten years older. Nothing says anarchic youth like a tag team match where the youngest person involved is 49!
In another interesting beat, WWE tried to show what legendary counter-culture rebels D-X were with a video package of their highlights … consisting solely of the Hornswoggle/”Vince loves [chickens, get it]” era of wacky merch shilling, stick-on decals, and McMahon Family cosplay. No getting women to flash in the crowd, no showing their buttholes on primetime cable television, not even the “invasion” of WCW where they rode a jeep into the parking lot at Nitro and talked over a megaphone to a bunch of people who already didn’t go to Nitro. Did they just not want to show Chyna?
It’s kind of telling that we’re several generations away from Generation X at this point, isn’t it? Anyway, my fantasy booking here is for the Undisputed Era to get called up and treat Cellular Degeneration X like D-X used to treat guys like Hogan and Savage. All I want is a promo where Kyle O’Reilly is like, “the Game? I logged onto the Playstation Store, I couldn’t even find him for download!” And then Roderick Strong is like, “Heartbreak kid? More like heartbreak GRANDPA,” etc.
Those shirts are pretty cool, though. Needs more random Latin.
Best: HA HA ALL RIGHT, MY MAN
One of the most wonderful and unexpected pars of Raw this week was WWE seemingly figuring out that nobody likes Bobby Lashley, and that if they want to keep paying him to be on their show, they should have him try to get a reaction. So instead of being a good hype man, Lio Rush talks and talks (and talks and talks) (and talks) over a live microphone during the match, transforms himself into an evil and annoying hype man, and turns Lashley into a super heel. He’s in there with Kevin Owens, a guy who wouldn’t buy Girl Scout Cookies unless he could powerbomb a 10-year old into a ring apron, and is so detested that the crowd’s chanting FIGHT OWENS FIGHT in unison and popping like mad for KO dives. It’s GREAT.
To make sure we know where they both stand despite them sort of teasing the idea that Lashley also thinks Lio Rush is annoying during the match, they have a post-match attack where Lashley’s just like, “yeah, okay, I’m leaning into this, sorry to my beautiful sisters” and injures Owens’ leg. Even better is the backstage interaction with Finn Bálor and Bayley, Raw’s two lamest babyfaces, where Rush openly shades them and even drops a “Too Sweet” on Bálor. MVP of this, surprisingly, is Lashley: “WHY DO WE NEED TO BE TALKING ABOUT SOME HUGS?”
I am very into Lio Rush as a modern Jimmy Hart, who trades in the megaphone for some ridiculous parkour, and trades in the airbrushed jackets for looking like somebody shrunk Usher in the dryer. Note: Bayley and Bálor aren’t Batman and Robin, they’re Black Condor and Jubilee.
Best: No One Expects The Spanish Inquisition!
WWE Crown Jewel will feature a tournament called the “WWE World Cup,” presumably because the Saudi government loves making championship belts and wants to give out another one that’ll never show up again. John Cena qualified for the World Cup “based on his past accomplishments,” which is WWE’s way of saying, “we wanted John Cena to be at Crown Jewel, but we can’t get him to Raw to pin Elias again to qualify, so just assume he did.” John Cena wins by being JOHN CENA. Vince probably gave him the spot for that smart haircut.
The second qualifier was decided in an incredibly, incredibly stupid segment that I love with my whole heart: Baron Corbin’s GLOBAL BATTLE ROYAL, in which Corbin attempts to weasel himself into a tournament spot by arranging an over-the-top rope challenge against a bunch of jobbers in Party City Halloween costumes. The competitors, if you missed it, included:
- Gregor ‘The Sickle’ Falcon, representing Russia
- The Sultan of Shawarma, representing Egypt
- El Hombre Sin Nombre, representing Mexico. Graves: “That’s a man without a nombre!”
- Stanislav the Squeezer, from Poland. Cole: “Yep, the ol’ Squeezer.”
- Chilean Seabass, from Chile. Graves: “This guy’s so famous, Cam Neely played him in a movie.”
- Dr. Winston Von Vorhees, from Antarctica. Graves: “You know how tough it is to be a doctor, and a world class grappler? FROM ANTARCTICA?”
- Franz The Belgian Waffler, from Belgium
- The Consquistador, Spain’s greatest champion
- Thunder Montgomery, representing Luxembourg master of the Bronze Claw. Cole: “JBL lost to him once.”
- Baron Corbin, representing TGI Fridays, and also America. Graves: [laughing] “Did Corbin have to read that, too?”
It’s like the world’s worst Neo Geo Street Fighter rip-off. As you may know (or may have picked up from commentary, because they were all incredible during this), Los Conquistadors have a long and storied history in WWE, from being jobbers in the 1980s to being the go-to disguise of Edge and Christian (and sometimes the Hardy Boys) in the 90s. So OF COURSE when the match comes down to Corbin and the Conquistador, Conquistador suddenly breaks out Kurt Angle’s entire moveset and eliminates him.
Cole: “What a German suplex!”
Graves: “I thought he was Spanish!”
Then, of course,
Things I love:
- the fact that Angle had to sit outside for the entire match because if he didn’t, everyone would see his weird posture and know it was him
- the fact that Angle realized his destiny and became a completely gold man
- the fact that Baron Corbin is clearly also Kurt Angle’s illegitimate son
- the fact that a member of Team ECK once again used the Conquistador disguise to get what they wanted
Such a good segment. My only complaint is that when the battle royal was over, No Way Jose didn’t show up and conga line all the competitors to the back. Oh, and that the Liechtenstein Champion Cedrick Von Failure wasn’t included.
Best: Mickie James Making Sure To Look Her Best Because She Knows She’s Going To See Trish Stratus
I still consider Mickie’s psychotic stalker crush on Trish Stratus to be canon. You don’t get to the point of dressing up as one another and kidnapping each other’s significant others and then let that shit go. It’s 12 years later and Mickie’s definitely sent Trish a Facebook friend request trying to “catch up.”
The actual segment here is about as good as you can do when the characters have never really met or interacted before, and they made the very good decision to turn the two singles matches at Evolution — Bliss vs. Stratus, Lita vs. Mickie — into a tag team match. That’s reportedly what the plan was from the beginning, but they couldn’t announce Ronda Rousey’s title defense until they’d shot the angle, so they tried to make it look like the card was more full than it actually was. Whatever the reason, the tag is the right call. I just hope Lita clears the mat on the moonsault with a little more room to breathe than she did at Royal Rumble.
Best: Elias In A Floral Headband, Dumping On The Cubs
Elias shitting in the Chicago Cubs’ cereal makes me feel a little better about my precious racist baseball team getting swept in the playoffs. While I’m thinking about it, how funny is it that on Columbus Day the Braves, Indians, and Redskins all got killed? And that on Raw, a Conquistador won a battle royal for global domination?
Worst: Too Much Of This Week’s Raw Was Last Week’s Raw
Not everything on Raw was fun. Too much of the show was just last week’s show, which is the worst (and unfortunately, most common) thing Raw does. This is what happens when you’ve got three hours to fill every week, and not enough creative manpower and/or time and/or effort to actually fill it.
Here are the results from the past six Raws:
9/3: Chad Gable and Bobby Roode defeated Konnor and Viktor
9/10: Chad Gable and Bobby Roode defeated Konnor and Viktor
9/17: Chad Gable with Bobby Roode defeated Viktor with Konnor
9/24: Konnor with Viktor defeated Chad Gable with Bobby Roode
10/1: Konnor with Viktor defeated Bobby Roode with Chad Gable
10/8: Chad Gable and Bobby Roode defeated Konnor and Viktor
While we’re at it,
9/24: Finn Bálor with Bayley defeated Jinder Mahal with Alicia Fox
10/1: Bayley with Finn Bálor defeated Alicia Fox with Jinder Mahal
10/2 (Mixed Match Challenge): Finn Bálor and Bayley defeated Jinder Mahal and Alicia Fox
10/8: Finn Bálor and Bayley defeated Jinder Mahal and Alicia Fox
Good lord. That’s not even a joke, that’s just the actual results from these shows. How in the world does a billion dollar company think anybody wants to watch Chad Gable and Bobby Roode wrestle The Ascension six times in a row? Or see Finn and Bayley wrestle Jinder and Alicia four times in a row? I know that opinions on wrestling are subjective and that different people like different things, but seriously, raise your fucking hand if you wanted to see either of these things. Raise your hand ANYWHERE IN THE ENTIRE WORLD. This is straight-up filler, on purpose, and we should at least be cohesive enough as a community to constructively agree and say, “stop giving us the exact same thing over and over and over (and over and over and over).”
At least package this shit as some kind of competitive rivalry. Mahalicia is currently 0-4. That’s not “competition,” that’s Finn and Bayley grinding to level up by walking around in a circle and killing Imps.
Worst: ‘The Spirit Of Competition’
Nia Jax and Ember Moon have a match this week, and because WWE has created an environment where they’ve forgotten the “sports” part of “sports-entertainment” and say you can only have matches if you’re “in a rivalry,” they have to preface it by saying it’s “in the spirit of competition.” Because yeah, you can’t just assume the wrestlers might wrestle each other for the wrestling promotion on the wrestling show. Ember SHOULD wrestle Nia sometimes. Alexa should wrestle Alicia Fox without one of them having to turn. They booked this one as face vs. face, got weird about it, and then had it end in a count-out because they didn’t actually want either person they booked in the match against one another to lose. When you protect everybody and rationalize everything, nobody’s protected, and nothing’s rational.
Worst/Best: Too Much Of This Week’s Raw Was Super Show-Down
Then, finally, we have the two rematches from Super Show-Down.
The first is the Riott Squad once again having to stooge for Ronda Rousey and the Legendary Bella Twins, made slightly more entertaining by Liv Morgan booping Brie Bella on the nose and slapping her in the face again. I seriously believe they just forgot to do the Bella Twins turn at Super Show-Down and had to do everything over on Raw, because if they didn’t, the rationale is that they didn’t want to do the turn when a good portion of the United States was watching half-awake on Saturday morning, which makes me ask, again, why do the match there, then?
WWE far too often rationalizes decisions by saying they “had to do it” a certain way, ignoring the fact that they literally control every aspect of their universe and reality. You can do anything you want anywhere for any reason. That’s part of what makes them doing the same thing over and over again, or booking themselves into corners, or making everything 50/50 all so frustrating. You could be using this time to tell simple stories that get people interested in your characters and situations. The scale of NXT isn’t the reason those kinds of stories and matches work there; you just conditioned an audience to trust your content, so they buy it. You could very easily book WWE the same way, and I will not accept the “it’s a bigger audience, they want to bring in casual fans” argument because where are the casual fans who will only watch if you do Bobby Roode and Chad Gable versus the Ascension six times in a row.
Anyway, the Legendary Bellas turn on Rousey BECAUSE REASONS, and WWE has a week to figure out how to explain it beyond “you’re jealous” or “we’re jealous” or “we needed a title match featuring popular reality stars.” I will retroactively praise all of this if Evolution ends with Shayna Baszler, Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir bending the Bellas into “bob wire” pretzels. If Nikki’s wrestling Ronda, what’s Brie doing at Evolution? Wrestling Raja Lion?
Also on the “we wanted to do an angle but decided not to do it at Super Show-Down for some reason” docket is Dean Ambrose feeling like the weak link of The Shield. After a couple of weeks of saying and showing, “no, Dean Ambrose is NOT the weak link of The Shield, in fact he’s the reason we’re able to win,” they do a complete 180, have Drew McIntyre pin Ambrose during a Shield six-man, and have Ambrose storm out all upset about being the weak link. It’s … it’s like he didn’t pay attention to all the segments he was in, making decisions for himself. They’re just gonna do the opposite now?
The good news is that the match was good, and probably better than the Super Show-Down version because it had a crowd that was interested in seeing and reacting to it. The Ambrose stuff is ridiculously iffy for me, but I DID love Drew McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler continuing to be bothered by Braun Strowman. They really sank Strowman’s character with the quickness, didn’t they? He went from one of the most impressive and exciting stars they’d had in years, a guy we thought could be the next Hulk Hogan (in the good way), to being this gigantic annoying roaring coward who can’t seem to win anything. When McIntyre was staring him down I SERIOUSLY wanted him to just snap and beat his ass. That’s not a thing I should be thinking about Braun Strowman. I’m more into Ziggler right now than I am Strowman. This is coming from ME.
Anyway, the upside to both of these matches is that things happened, which is honestly my simplest request for any episode of Raw. Even if I don’t love the Will He Or Won’t He Dean Ambrose story and the Bella Twins suddenly being able to beat up Ronda Rousey because the script says they have to, I do like the stories attempting to go somewhere. It’s better than nothing happening, which is what too much of Super Show-Down was. Especially now that they’ve retconned most of it.
More Thunder Montgomery, please.
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Night
Mickie out here trying to make her ex jealous
The Real Birdman
Alexa: “Really Trish? A moment of Stratusfaction? You really think people want…”
Mickie *cutting her off*: “No, no, please… let her talk”
I want Jason Jordan to come back as El Hijo Del Angulo
“Now I will compete in this match where I am surrounded by people who want to beat me up!”
Steph: “oh my god you can’t even cheat right”
Southpaw Regional Wrestling goes international!
The Belgian Waffler, natural enemy of The New Day.
What a shock, Fox and Friends beating up on a Latina.
Elias, strumming his guitar: look in my eyes, what do you see? the cult of personality
Chicago: *throws all of their trash at him*
“…and the winner of the Best in the World, uh, World Cup is Stone Cold Steve Austin, somehow!”
Meanwhile, in Texas: “What.”
Lio Rush: “IGNORE ME!”
That’s it for this week’s show. Join us next week for Finn Bálor and Bayley versus Alicia Fox and Jinder Mahal, Chad Gable and Bobby Roode against The Ascension (with the Authors of Pain on commentary), the set-up for Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan vs. Christy Hemme and Ashley Massaro at Evolution, and a big promo for Los Boricuas vs. Disciples of Apocalypse at Crown Jewel.
Drop a comment below to let us know what you thought of the show and who your favorite competitor in the Global Battle Royal was, and share the column to help us out. Whoops, sorry, the column is 15 minutes into the overrun, SEND IT TO THE USA NETWORK ORIGINAL SERIES!