Previously on the Best and Worst of WWE Raw: Bayley and Sasha Banks went to counseling, Roman Reigns wrestled twice, and Kevin Owens got covered in about five port-a-potties-worth of 2000 Flushes.
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Here’s the Best and Worst of WWE Raw for July 9, 2018.
Worst: An Extreme Amount Of Rules
Before we get into what was bad and also not very good from last night’s Raw, we have to do our annual paragraph about Extreme Rules. You ever notice how it’s supposed to be WWE’s pay-per-view built around there being “no rules,” but is actually WWE adding many additional rules?
If you had matches that were like the “unsanctioned” Johnny Gargano vs. Tommaso Ciampa match or even the street fight, sure, those rules are Extreme. If you’re doing an ECW tribute show still and there’s no DQ and you can use weapons, that’s at least fewer rules. This year we’ve got one (1) extreme rules match on the Extreme Rules pay-per-view, and then an iron man match (which is technically several normal matches crammed together) and a cage match. Where you can win by pinfall or submission, like in a normal match, but also by going through a door, which is extra.
Then you’ve got situations like “will Drew McIntyre be banned from ringside for the match on the show without any rules,” or, “what will Ronda Rousey do when she’s forced to buy a ticket and sit in the front row of a match where there are no rules and she could just hop the rail and start punching people and it’d be legal?” Just once I want a wrestler to go into an “anything goes” match truly understanding that anything goes. I don’t think they’ve ever stopped and thought about it once.
Anyway, here’s Raw.
Worst/Best: I UFC What You Did There
UFC 226 ended with new Heavyweight Champion Daniel Cormier calling out Brock Lesnar for a title match and a pull-apart brawl ensuing, so Raw opens with Roman Reigns calling out Bobby Lashley and a pull-apart brawl ensuing. Two quick asides:
- How funny is it that you’re more likely to see the WWE Universal Champion on a UFC pay-per-view than a WWE pay-per-view right now?
- If Braun Strowman cashes in the Money in the Bank briefcase after Lesnar/Cormier and wins the Universal Championship in the octagon it might be the best thing to ever happen, especially if it involves Vince McMahon and Dana White punching each other on television.
Pull-apart brawls are sort of a cheat code to get an exciting segment without doing a lot of work, but I think this one didn’t connect for me because of how little work actually went into it. Reigns and Lashley are still fighting for nothing. They’re having a match because Lesnar isn’t. It’s more or less a dick-measuring contest where neither guy is confident enough to pull out their dick and measure it in front of the other.
The crowd isn’t really behind either guy, but they’re into the segment because it’s action-based, and preferably to a third or fourth week of “confrontations.” The weirdest part for me is how WWE nerfs the motivations of their entire roster by having everyone say SURE KURT ANGLE WE’LL RUN OUT IN OUR GEAR TO HELP YOU STOP FIGHTERS FROM FIGHTING. So you get like, the Authors of Pain out there looking like Good Employees by helping separate other, more important wrestlers. That sucks. I know you’ve got 20 local indie guys who wanna be on the show, send out a parade of jobbers and Curt Hawkins and like Titus Worldwide to stop the fight. You send out Sam Houston for the pull-apart, not Dusty Rhodes, you know?
Worst: Dr. She’ll-Be
The most illogical segment two weeks running is the Bayley vs. Sasha Banks counseling battle. First things first, who the shit is this lady? What happened to Dr. Shelby? Did they bring dude on the show last week and trademark his name just to make sure he couldn’t call himself that in cute YouTube videos later? Justice for Dr. Shelby. Hell, they can’t even really say they got a “new” counselor because this new lady is working out of Shelby’s office, which suggests she uses the same psychological approach. It’s like getting a diagnosis, and then getting a second opinion from the same doctor.
Second of all, the fact that these two specific women are being forced to be friends through work-sponsored counseling or lose their jobs in a company that has existed for 50+ years on the backs of friends deciding they hate each other and want to fight is the most ludicrous and unbelievable shit on the show. Bobby Lashley could grow a third giant arm out of his sweaty-ass forehead and it’d make more sense than this to me. They should return to Raw next week united in the feeling that Kurt Angle’s a dogshit general manager.
Third of all, what is even the presentation of these segments? Last week we got a brief bit followed by Shelby screaming at them with “to be continued” at the bottom of the screen. This week we get one forty-second reiteration of their beef in front of a new doctor in the same office, and we don’t even HEAR the second segment because the announcers are talking over it. Did something go horribly wrong when they were trying to tape these? Why do they feel so aborted and weird?
Best: The Ronda Rousey 2K19 Commercial
The best moment of this entire Raw is the video game commercial announcing Ronda Rousey as a pre-order bonus for WWE 2K19. She’s on the roster so she should probably just be included in the game proper, but whatever. Hearing the actual conversation between Roddy Piper and Rousey about her using the “Rowdy” moniker is not only moving, it gives Rousey’s WWE persona a real context that’s been missing. So far, aside from some passing mentions in promos and on commentary, she’s just Ronda Rousey cosplaying Roddy Piper. Here, we get to actually feel that connection, instead of just being told about it. Great stuff.
What I’m getting at is that the video game commercial feels like a Lucha Underground origin vignette, and they should let the people who make them direct all the backstage segments on Raw. At this point I’d rather a moderately smart golden retriever book the backstage segments instead of whoever’s actually putting together these Raws.
Worst: Leftovers From Three Weeks Ago
Three Raws ago, Mojo Rawley defeated No Way Jose. Jose then spent two weeks asking for a rematch, with both segments somehow ending with Mojo threatening a conga line member in a cheeseburger costume. This week, Jose finally gets his rematch and … loses handily to Rawley in about four minutes. What’s next week? Jose demanding a rematch and Mojo threatening a cheeseburger? Christ. These two have become the Rosencrantz and Guildenstern of Raw.
Three Raws ago, Curtis Axel of the B-Team defeated one half of the Raw Tag Team Champions, Matt Hardy, when Hardy figuratively slipped on a banana peel. The next week they had a rematch, with Axel also won. This week, Bo Dallas of the B-Team defeats Matt Hardy when Hardy figuratively slips on a banana peel. What’s next week, Dallas beating Hardy in a normal match? Who thinks having a jobber team win a bunch of singles matches via complete happenstance builds any drama for a tag team match? Hardy might as well be losing these matches to Wolfgang and King Maxel. Dude could lose to his drone and I’d be like, “at least Vanguard-1 has believable offense.”
Jinder Mahal is back on his Om shanti shanti shanti tip again this week, because the official lifespan for “the Singh Brothers cause a distraction, Mahal wins with the Khallas” is 13 months.
Best: The Women’s Division Has The Only Two Watchable Matches In The First 2 1/2 Hours Of Raw
Neither women’s match on Monday’s card was a standout, but they’re honestly the only thing resembling a wrestling show in the first two hours and change of Raw. Seriously, the show’s nothing but promos, video packages, comedy bits, and backstage confrontations. Even multiple matches went to “commercial” in the middle to show an ad for Extreme Rules in a picture-in-picture graphic. Kurt Angle accidentally tweeted about Raw matches being meaningless, and Raw stepped up to confirm it.
The better of the two was probably the tag match, teaming up Alexa Bliss and Mickie James against Nia Jax and Ronda Rousey’s lobster Natalya. Johannes Kepler wouldn’t even give it more than a couple of stars, but it made sense; Bliss is the champion at Extreme Rules, Jax is the challenger, and they’ve having an extreme rules match. So here you have Jax win the match strong without pinning Bliss, Bliss attacks her with a weapon after the fall, and then Jax recovers and breaks the weapon to send Bliss running. Perfectly logical and easy to follow, which on a show with THERAPY OR YOU’RE FIRED and YOU HAVE SEX WITH SHEEPS is a Godsend.
Also perfectly watchable is Ember Moon getting maybe the best singles match of Liv Morgan’s career, non-Asuka division. I sorta dig the new version of the Riott Squad as wandering anarchists who befriend strangers just to snicker-swerve them and break their stuff. They befriend Tyler Breeze, Breeze gives them shirts, and then suddenly they’re like, “ACTUALLY FUCK YOU, WE’RE THE RIOTT SQUAD,” and they tear up the shirts. It’s dumb, but at least it’s something.
Morgan gets to look like a real wrestler for the first time since she’s been called up, and Ember gives her a lot without ever really making it look like she’s going to lose. She even beats her with a surprise roll-up counter instead of the Eclipse, to make it seem more competitive. It’s good work. Ember Moon keeps winning matches, which should set her up for a believable title match with somebody down the road, because [spoiler alert] wins and losses matter, at least creatively.
Worst: Itsy Bitsy Spider Is Not A Lullaby, It’s a Nursery Rhyme, God, It’s Like You Didn’t Even Google ‘List of Lullabies’ On Monday Afternoon Before Sending Baron Corbin Out In Dress Clothes To Perform A Hastily Written Parody Song Without Time To Rehearse
Or, “how do you make me not enjoy an Elias segment?”
Baron Corbin sings a Big Cass-quality Itsy Bitsy Spider parody about how Finn Bálor is short, and that sets up Finn and his bathrobe grandpa Bobby Roode against the Constable and Elias. It’s fine, and got better in the second half when the pace actually started to move a little bit, but it might as well be happening in that infinite abyss they scream into in Garden State. I don’t really get what they’re doing with any of these guys. Can we have like, a quadruple turn?
Worst, Then Best: Sheep’s The One
The best match on the show, because duh, is the main event between Seth Rollins and Drew McIntyre. It’s only hurt significantly by the pre-match promo where Rollins goes full WWE babyface and accuses Mac of being a sheep-fucker. Between the unearned pull-apart, characters who’ll be fired if they don’t go to therapy, a children’s song parody and jokes about having sex with animals I’m 99% sure Vince McMahon turned in a draft of Raw he wrote by himself. Really shocked the overrun wasn’t whatever celebrity was available telling the Revival that their breath smells bad.
Anyway, I felt like this was a really good 10-minute match in a 20-minute match’s body. Does that make sense? They made a big point of Drew “controlling the pace” for the first half, and it didn’t really have much to do with the story of the second. Just sorta felt like work for the sake of work. That said, the second half picked up tremendously, and thankfully didn’t end Seth Rollins’ six-ish month streak of killing it every time he’s out there. Rollins and Ziggler are in a really good position to steal the shit out of that pay-per-view.
I appreciate them trying to give this match some consequences by saying if Rollins won McIntyre would be banned from ringside at Extreme Rules, but again, extreme rules, and honestly, who’s going to enforce that? People who get “banned from ringside” can just run back out and interfere again. The worst thing that ever happens if you have to have a rematch you were probably gonna have for the next three weeks anyway.
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Week
BLEAT ME IF YOU CAN! SURVIVE IF I LET EWE!
Revival takes the belts off Matt and Bray. AoP beat the Revival the next night on Raw. American Alpha reunites. TL; dr – Reunite the 2015 NXT tag division.
The Real Birdman
Dolph cheerleading at ringside takes me back
The Legal Man
I’m so glad Kevin didn’t respond with, “Dookieeee!!!”
Therapist: “Both of your comfy? Good. Now, don’t touch the button in front of you for a very important reason, i.e., you are wired into the each other. You have the ability to shock them, and they have the ability to shock–” (Bayley get shocked)
Sasha: “Just testing.”
Bayley: “Why, you–”
Therapist: “No, Bayley, not yet. This is what is known as Aversion Therapy. When someone hurts you emotionally, you will hurt them physically. And gradually you will learn not to hurt each other at all. And won’t that be wonderful, girls?” (Sasha gets shocked)
Bayley: “My finger slipped.” (Bayley get shocked)
Sasha: “So did mine.”
(Bayley and Sasha start repeatedly shocking each other)
Therapist: “No, no. Now, wait a minute. Wait! Wait! Ladies, if I could– This is not the way to get healthy!”
(Still Frame – To Be Continued)
(cuts to Raw Announce Team but with the arena lights and titantron fading in and out and the TV signal getting interference)
Cole: “Obviously, it looks like Bayley and Sasha still has some work to do.”
(lighting and signal problems continue for the rest of the show)
Corey Graves: “If you’re not here to win a championship, you’re here to pull guys apart in a go-home show brawl.”
fun fact: Bobby Lashley unsuccessfully auditioned for the role of Brittanica’s mannequin.
“I don’t like that Roman thinks he’s the sheriff of RAW. We obviously have a constable already.”
IC Champion PdragolphZiggler
So basically an ironman match is just facing the same guy over and over again…oh no, Seth stop! Dolph’s been preparing for this his whole career!
Since they’re in Boston does that mean Sasha is going to lose the therapy session tonight?
Playa, playa. I smell a 24-man tag team main event.
That’s it for this week’s show. Here’s Zack Ryder explaining how it feels to workout and tan all week, put on a pair of underpants and be in the background of a three-hour TV show for like three minutes.
As always, thanks for reading. Hit those social share buttons, drop us a comment below, and join us this weekend for Extreme Rules® Brand Pay-Per-View this Sunday. Will Lashley and Reigns have to go to therapy? I can’t wait!