Previously on the Best and Worst of Raw: Raw returned to Madison Square Garden for an elevated house show featuring Stone Cold Steve Austin, a beer bash featuring a couple of Straight Edge guys, and another Baron Corbin banger.
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And now, the Best and Worst of WWE Raw for September 16, 2019.
Best: Kane Event
Clash of Champions ended with The Fiend gag-reflexing Seth Rollins to death, so Raw opens with Firefly Funhouse Bray warning Rollins of further gargling.
Rollins takes a second to try to put Braun Strowman over in the process, but there’s never a colder, more dead feeling wrestler than Braun Strowman after one of these failed title challenges. A few months from now he’ll hammer-throw an abominable snowman to stick up for Santa Claus or whatever and be fine again, but for now, he’s a non-factor.
All you really need to know for right now is that Seth deeply respects a man who lost two title matches in the same night, Ramblin’ Rabbit is forcibly enslaved, and the champ’s gonna get shadow clowned before the end of the program.
Meanwhile, R-Truth and Carmella are touring the University of Tennessee and run into Knox County’s helpful Libertarian mayor Glenn Jacobs, a suspiciously tall normal man who is definitely not a fire demon with inexplicable occult powers and certainly not related to any undead wizards. And also did not look exactly like this when he was running the show and WWE’s HR department or whatever under the thumb of The Authority. Somehow, this becomes important later. It’s R-Truth, it’s fine.
Jacobs, who bears a striking resemblance to former superstar Isaac Yankem and a less striking resemblance to former superstar Diesel, gives Truth a tour of Neyland Stadium. Truth has no idea he’s being led into a gladiatorial situation until it’s too late, and loses the 24/7 Championship to the mayor.
This is made possible by “Officer Burns of the Knox County police force,” who was “sworn in” as a WWE official by the mayor? I think that’s what they were getting at. Or the mayor swore in a referee as a police officer and gave dude a handgun so he could win the 24/7 Championship when WWE came to Knoxville? It’s Kane, it’s fine.
Mayor Kane drives to Raw, for some reason, and never notices that R-Truth has stowed away on the top of his limousine. If you’re wondering, yes, the mayor of a county in Tennessee does drive around in a chartered limousine, if he’s got Saudi Arabia money.
Truth somehow convinces the limo driver to not snitch on him, and uses a sneak attack to win back the championship. He then uses a low intelligence speech check to convince “Mr. President Mayor JPWA Academy Superintendent Of Administration, Sir,” to agree to a truce based on the amount of work he’d have to do as 24/7 Champion. JPWA is a reference to Kane’s wrestling school, the Jacobs-Prichard Wrestling Academy, by the way. They agree to go inside and “enjoy the show,” which is less believable than the Knox County mayor riding around in a limo.
So! We’ve established that Glenn Jacobs is in the building. Remember the part above where I said all this would become important later? Yeah, it turns out that Seth Rollins using the Pedigree at Clash of Champions renewed his Authority dues for the year, and The Demon Kane once again becomes an available summon. When a Rollins vs. Jobby Roode main event turns into a 5-on-1 attack from Cheer Money and The O.C., Kane shows up to please his constituents and throw people at the ground by their necks. Rollins is gonna get run-in help from J&J Security before Roman Reigns remembers they’re supposed to be friends, isn’t he?
Anyway, Kane goes for his celebratory taunt and gets Shadow Clowned, allowing The Fiend to take out another WWE Legend, further establish himself as the paterfamilias of WWE’s modern supernatural power hierarchy, and put the fear of Tom Savini into the champ with a fantastic show-ending visual.
Shout-out to WWE for turning, “please don’t put your fingers in my mouth, scary clown,” into a main event program.
Worst: Braun Strawman
Also on the program, the two teams who actually won championships at Clash of Champions have their celebration interrupted so the guy who lost two championship matches last night could beat them up 4-on-1.
With this, WWE reminds us that (1) we’re supposed to think Braun Strowman is tough and cool despite watching him lose another big match on Sunday — not sure his gun even has a trigger at this point — and that (2) no matter what we do, they’re never going to like tag team wrestling. Ever. Under any circumstances.
And Speaking Of Dumb Stuff
Mike and Maria Kanellis have a “gender reveal party” for their unborn child, hosted by the Street Profits, and Maria drops the bomb that Ricochet is actually the baby’s father. First of all, I hope that one day my gender reveal party can be hosted by the Street Profits. Second of all, Ricochet deserved to be singled out like that for showing up to Mike and Maria Kanellis’ baby party. Don’t you have better things to do, dude? Couldn’t you walk into the room, see that the guest list includes Titus O’Neil and Curt Hawkins, and realize you’re in the wrong place? You’d have made a better career move spending three hours in No Way Jose’s conga line.
(Also, gender is a societal construct and you were announcing the baby’s biological sex. Although I guess you don’t want to say Mike and Maria are having a “baby sex party,” so sure, gender reveal it is.)
This leads to not one, but TWO Mike Kanellis matches on Raw. Thank goodness we had time for that and not Samoa Joe, EC3, Gran Metalik (who looked great last week), Lince Dorado (who looked great on Sunday), the 205 Live roster, or anyone who needs a spotlight from Smackdown! I’m sure the Kabuki Warriors and the IIconics had a good time at catering and will be hilarious playing Bubble Bobble on Asuka’s YouTube channel, or whatever.
Anyway, Mike loses the first match to Ricochet in about 60 seconds. Afterward, Maria shows up on the stage and announces that Ricochet’s not actually the father, she was just trying to motivate her husband to have some passion and try to be good at his job. She starts teasing the reveal of the guy who is ACTUALLY ACTUALLY the father, and we get the return of Handsome Rusev, now EXTRA handsome with a toned-up physique and an Errol Flynn mustache.
“How do you bring back Rusev and have it not be great,” you might be asking? “By having it be the third part of a three-part Mike and Maria Kanellis gender reveal party plot where Corey Graves unironically calls someone a ‘beta cuck’ on commentary.” Is Lana not here because Rusev and Maria spend one night in Milwaukee, or what?
Rusev finishes off Mike in about 30 seconds. Any momentum the show had been building up until this point is over, and Raw hits a brick wall covered in Paul Heyman’s Pornhub search history. My only hope is that Mike and Maria Kanellis are actually into this forced public humiliation stuff in real life and are getting something out of it, besides half-million dollar paychecks in exchange for their souls.
Fingers crossed that Rusev and Renee Young can hop a train out of Raw Town come the draft and start anew somewhere that’s green.
Best: We Go Hard, All Day All Night
The Authors of Pain still exist! Alert Mr. Dot Com at once!
The story we’re being given is that the AOP haven’t had a match since WrestleMania because all the teams in WWE are soft — s-a-w-f-t — and have complained about the Authors “hurting them in the ring.” I assume this is a play on the time the AOP actually almost killed a jobber in the ring by powerbombing someone’s head into his goddamn face.
This segment had two things I really enjoy in my pro wrestling show: wrestlers who speak a foreign language getting subtitles instead of “what” chants, and Street Fighter II quality threats.
Best: Hail To The King, Baby
The best match of the night by far, and possibly the best match of the entire King of the Ring tournament, goes to Inevitable King Baron Corbin vs. Chad Gable. This was the shit.
This is the best kind of wrestling match, as it started without any interaction from the crowd whatsoever, and ended with them chanting “GA-BLE GA-BLE” and counting along with the referee. That’s effective pro wrestling. Gable has morphed into the inspired main roster babyface he’s secretly always been (and probably would’ve been before now if anyone had paid attention, and given him something to do beyond holding a towel and complaining), and Corbin has done what the WWE announcers insist is the entire point of the King of the Ring tournament: make a name for himself with show-stealing performances. Corbin is finally past that awkward, impotent “Constable” character work and free from the daintily-gloved grasp of Lacey Evans, and can be the dope in-ring performer we noticed he’d turned into by the end of his NXT run. Shane McMahon (and Drew McIntyre) aside, this tournament did everyone a favor.
Also, from Best and Worst of Smackdown from September 3:
I’m looking forward to the inevitable Gable pay-per-view loss to King Baron Corbin, especially since I feel like the entire tournament’s been building up to them recreating that legendary NXT counter spot on WWE TV.
Aside from the whole “pay-per-view” thing, which apparently I was hallucinating, that’s what we got. Here’s the original, in case you haven’t seen it, and here’s the King of the Ring tournament re-imagining:
Fantastic. All hail Raw’s true ace in his Spanx tank top.
Best: Pretty Good Wrestling Of The Week!
Lots of surprisingly watchable matches on this week’s show. Good wrestling matches and big, memorable spots and visuals with a bunch of embarrassing sports-entertainment you’ll be deeply humiliated to sit through a few years from now between them? What, did Paul Heyman write this episode by himself?
Rey Mysterio vs. Cesaro happened, marred only slightly by Cesaro apparently losing his gear at the airport and having to wrestle in slacks and sneakers. It’s another example of Cesaro losing, when Cesaro should objectively never lose to anyone ever because look at him and look at him wrestle, but 11 minutes of Big Tony and Rey Jr. is exactly what we needed after Mike and Maria’s bogus journey. I’m happy to spend 10 minutes with Rey Mysterio wrestling whoever the hell he wants every week until Dominick Guerrero-Mysterio comes of age.
Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross losing a non-title match to Bayley and Sasha Banks was also pretty good, minus two things:
- Sasha Banks told us like three weeks ago that she left WWE for four months because she was stuck defending a Tag Team Championship she didn’t give a shit about, so it’s hard to get emotionally invested watching her and Bayley wrestle the people currently holding it
- If you’re booked into a corner where you don’t want the champions losing non-title matches all the time and looking like chumps (see also: Bayley and Sasha Banks, and the IIconics) and you don’t want the newly reformed team of Bayley and Sasha Banks losing after Clash of Champions … maybe don’t book the match?
But as it stands, it was good for what it was. Nikki Cross getting time to shine as a white-meat babyface was great. To quote my dude Justin O’Connor, though, Alexa Bliss “injuring” herself during a tag match is the new “marble in the tailpipe” gag of WWE women’s wrestling. It’s like the original idea was for Bliss to be manipulative and in control of Cross, but people didn’t want that to happen, so they just kinda went halfway with it and stopped? So now Cross does most of the work, Bliss just kinda coasts on Cross’ effort and misses a lot of matches, and they drink coffee together? I mean, sure, but like-
The Viking Alexperience vs. The O.C. (don’t call them that) was also a perfectly fine way to spend eight minutes of a 3-hour wrestling show, with the faces looking good and in control until AJ Styles sprung-board in and flipped Cedric Alexander. He flipped him for real, Benicio Del Toro-style. Styles’ dominance over guys like Cedric is important to us remembering why Styles is supposed to be a top-tier guy, and him dropping down to fight guys like Ced and the Vikings could do wonders for the Raw undercard. More feuds where his 218-pound ass kicks 205 pound guys’ asses for fun, please and thank you.
It was forgettable, sure, but like I always say, the team that is actually a team should beat non-teams in team matches. Otherwise, what’s the point of ever being a team, you know?
The most surprising match of the night was Lacey Evans vs. Dana Brooke, which over-delivered across the board. Nobody gives a shit about that feud with Natalya, sure, but Lacey and Dana went out there to make the most of their two minutes and started stiffing each other like they were Bradshaw and Vader in ’98.
The one thing missing from Evans’ reportoire — okay, one of the things — is her using her status as a shoot former Marine to be a bad-ass in the ring, which would wonderfully contrast with the prejudiced Georgia boudoir thing she’s got going on outside it. Dana Brooke’s been doing the best work of her career with Sarah Logan in the forgotten lands of Main Event, so she’s the perfect foil to lean into Evans’ offense and take a gamma-radiated Blanche Devereaux-sized ass-beating.
Plus, here’s another surprise: Lacey Evans has a GREAT Sharpshooter.
The knee down for tall lady leverage looks so much better than the pop-a-squat most people do, and actually suggests stability instead of something you could reverse with a gentle push-up. Petition to have Lacey Evans win this feud for good at some point and take the Sharpshooter for her own. Fuck the “Hart Family Sharpshooter,” it’s time for the Sassy Southern Scorpion Deathlock.
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Week
That’s not the first time a girl from Jersey has been really unsure about getting in a limo with a rapper and a politician.
”C’mon Cole, say the line!”
The Real Birdman
Surprised Mike didn’t get submitted by the cuckhold
I haven’t seen such a big flip on Raw since Tony Schiavone announced Mankind was winning the title.
– Chad Gable during that Deep Six
Baron Von Raschke
Kane: Sir, I knew Mankind. I fought Mankind. I tagged with Mankind. Mandkind gave me the mandible claw….you, sir,….are no Manki .
Gable trying to beat his mom’s new deadbeat boyfriend so that she realizes she was better off with her former boyfriend Robert
Kane using tax dollars to pay for his exploding limos everywhere? That is not the libertarian official I voted for!
That Bray Wyatt segment was the perfect example of professional wrestling. Its a bit embarrassing to describe to someone who’s never watched pro wrestling, but we love it anyway.
“Just because someone’s been here a long time, doesn’t mean they’re good at what they do.” –Corey Graves, with the most subtle burn of Michael Cole of all time.
That’s it for this week’s Raw. Try not to get shadow clowned between now and next week.
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See you then!