Previously on the Best and Worst of Raw: After playing ‘What’s New Pussycat?’ on the jukebox seven times in a row, Raw finally played ‘It’s Not Unusual.’ This week, it’s right back to ‘What’s New Pussycat?’
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And now, the worst and somehow even worse of WWE Raw for July 8, 2019.
Jobbers Of The Week
Taking on The Viking Raiders in Raw tag team division action this week (because I guess the Authors of Pain, the Ascension, Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder, Lucha House Party, any additional pairings of under-card Raw Superstars who didn’t make the card at all and every Smackdown tag team via the “wild card” rule were busy) are Colin Justin and Devin Justin.
They’re such jobbers that their loss sends out a jobber signal, summoning the 24/7 division for a random post-match appearance. It’s like that bit in Attack on Titan where the captured female Titan roars to summon a bunch of random Titans to save her, except it’s two losers’ death throes causing a few people without matches appear and get forearmed off the apron. Same difference.
Study question: Can you already tell I don’t know what the fuck to say about this episode of Raw? Stay tuned!
There’s also this guy named after a colloquialism who thinks he can defeat Cesaro in a wrestling match. No Way Jose thinking he can throw hands with Big Tony is like me thinking I could wreck Daniel Cormier because I’m a few inches taller. I don’t think we mention enough how sad it is that a guy with this build and this look and this much talent has spent the last year and a half on WWE’s main roster as the leader of a sad, inconsistent conga line.
Cesaro needs a push and someone to take him seriously for a prolonged period of time, sure, but Jose needs some basic human decency. Justice for No Way Jose. Let’s start by going back to “Manny Garcia” or something and never calling a wrestler “No Way Jose” again. Or put him in an animal costume and start calling him the See You Later Alligator. I don’t know, just lean in one direction or the other.
Also completely jobbing out this week is Rey Mysterio. This guy announced to the audience that he’d worked hard to defeat doctor’s projections for his recovery time to get back into the ring, is identified as the greatest masked Superstar in WWE history, is legitimately the biggest Mexican wrestling star of at least an entire generation if not of all time, and issues an open challenge to show how ready for a fight he is … just to lose in under two minutes, clean, to Bobby Lashley. The same Bobby Lashley who got embarrassed in arm wrestling and tug of war contests over the past several weeks and spent last week doing selfie promos from a Local Medical Facility.
I thought for sure that they were going to use the fact that Bobby wasn’t 100% (which they kept saying, over and over) to explain why Rey could pull off a surprising win and get some momentum back, but … nope. Lashley just shrugs off the offense and hits a spear to win easily. They’ve got to add a stipulation to Bobby’s pay-per-view match, even though they announced Braun Strowman as having a ruptured spleen and gave away what would be the biggest and most dramatic possible ending to a Last Man Standing match on Raw last week. Glad you rushed back, Rey!
Main-eventing the show as Roman Reigns’ mystery partner is Gary ‘The Goat’ Garbutt, a weird ableist joke about how a handicapped janitor is the lowest form of humanity and perfect for Shane McMahon’s Machiavellian revenge schemes.
Other candidates for the job (seen in the video above) included “Tony,” the “greatest garbage man in the world” who looks like what would’ve happened if Scott Dawson hadn’t gone to wrestling school, and a drink vendor I believe is named “Louie.” He’s unusually buff and is having trouble selling drinks, possibly because he’s wandering around backstage. I assumed Elias was going to be the partner so they could just beat Roman down 3-on-1, but I guess I didn’t think about how funny and pathetic a 73-year old Republican billionaire thinks working class people are.
Shane makes the odd decision to put Gary in a Dos Caras mask, presumably only so we could put someone else under the mask and surprise him later. It turns out to be Cedric Alexander, of course, and again, I assumed doing the janitor swerve meant that whoever was under the mask would surprise the heels and get a rub by out-smarting them and helping out Roman. Instead, because I’m not a senile septuagenarian, Cedric immediately gets destroyed and pinned by Shane McMahon, losing the match about as quickly as an actual limping sanitation worker might’ve. Cool?
Cedric still does the, “hey man, I helped,” bit with Roman after the match, and I’ve gotta wonder how appreciative Roman’s supposed to be about this forgotten cruiserweight proving he’s barely better at this than the guy who mops the floors backstage. What are we even doing? What happened to this Raw?
Also happening this week is one of my favorites, the Beat The Clock Challenge. If Bayley can win her match faster than Nikki Cross wins hers, she’ll get to pick the stipulation for the Smackdown Women’s Championship match at Extreme Rules. If she doesn’t, Cross gets to choose.
You’ve read these paragraphs from me before, but Beat the Clock matches are amazingly insulting to the people slotted in to lose, because the entire idea is that everyone in the building knows you’re losing, we just want to see how sadly you can perform. It’s why when you book a Beat the Clock Challenge, put Sarah Logan in there against Bayley and have her actually do pretty well for a while, the crowd starts booing and chanting “CM Punk.” It’s a Beat the Clock challenge. Nobody expects or wants competitive matches, because of how you’ve always booked it.
Plus, how sad is it that the Riott Squad is still only here to take futile losses? Sarah Logan’s working her ass off on Main Event and has fully adopted a Viking Raiders gimmick and look to try to actually be a part of something, and they’ve still got her coming out to the Nickelodeon-ass Riott Squad theme. I thought for sure they were gonna Wild Card over Liv Morgan to lose to Nikki, because there’s no way Vince knows what shows they’re on.
Dana Brooke actually gets the enhancement talent spot against Nikki Cross, and of course Nikki Cross wins. Getting Dana Brooke in a Beat the Clock Challenge is like winning the lottery. Nikki wins, and somewhat smartly rages against Bayley and the Raw women’s babyfaces’ weird anti-friendship campaign to make the Extreme Rules match a 2-on-1 handicap match. I have to give them a +1 here, because people who get “choose the stipulation” duties always seem to pick ladders or steel cages or whatever instead of picking something that makes it way easier for them to actually win. Randy Orton gets to pick against John Cena and says “chairs match” instead of a JOHN CENA GETS DISQUALIFIED IF HE USES ANY OF HIS FINISHING MOVES AND HAS TO WIN TWO FALLS BEFORE I WIN ONE match, or whatever.
I’m disappointed that this seems like a setup for the faces to be proven right, as I can very easily see Cross being about to win the match and getting pulled out of a lateral press by the leg from Bliss, but at least it’s also an obvious way to get Sasha back on the show. The “go find a friend” stuff was pretty transparent. But yeah, take a second to appreciate the fact that Bayley, the woman whose best friend has hilariously betrayed her on the regular for their entire careers including straight-up Scar and Mufasa’ing her in the first women’s Elimination Chamber match, is ranting about how Alexa Bliss isn’t a trustworthy friend. Girl, you in danger.
Worst: Hope You Didn’t Think WWE Was Going To Take The Club Seriously
You know what would’ve been a really good, obvious match to book? Rey Mysterio vs. Ricochet. Mysterio rushed back from injury to make up for the fact that he had to give up the United States Championship to Samoa Joe. RIcochet is the guy who defeated Samoa Joe, and is all about fair-play and giving out title shots to people who challenge him and/or deserve it. Plus, shit, they’re both Eagle Tribe. IT MAKES PERFECT SENSE.
Instead, we follow up the hot reaction to Luke Gallows, Karl Anderson, and AJ Styles finally deciding to be a real faction after YEARS of working in the same company and YEARS of the Good Brothers being forgotten characters by … uh, having Luke Gallows lose a singles match to Ricochet clean, followed by a commercial break, followed by Karl Anderson losing a singles match to a tired Ricochet, also clean. The beatdown stuff after the match is classic Vince McMahon “get your heat back” 50/50 strategy, where he thinks that heels can lose match after match in increasingly embarrassing ways and still seem threatening or important if they can quickly win a 3-on-1 non-match sneak attack. It’s not true. They look fucking pathetic. I don’t know a more graceful way to say it.
The stuff with Styles and Ricochet still comes off well, but the faction’s already dead in the water. It’s not like Ricochet is Roman Reigns out here, he’s a still relatively new under-card guy who got a United States Championship run because Samoa Joe needed to get shuffled into a feud with Kofi Kingston. One little guy shouldn’t be going through the entire new top heel faction a week after they’re formed. This isn’t me “complaining” or being some kind of contrarian asshole, this is just basic storytelling. It’s like the scene in Deadpool 2 where X-Force forms and immediately skydives to their deaths, but not on purpose. And constantly.
This is such a brutal Raw to sit through. I hope I’m making it clear that this week’s malaise isn’t because I think I know how to run WWE better than WWE does; it’s from a disappointment in myself for being this deep into WWE fandom and thinking one exciting Raw would be followed by a second. What’s wrong with me?
Worst: Avoid Commercial Breaks At All Costs, Even If It Doesn’t Make Sense
I almost gave Raw a Best for opening the show with a match instead of a long promo again, but what we got is just too illogical and stupid to ignore. They opened with On-Screen Chemistry Razzie Award winning Seth Rollins and Becky Lynch facing Andrade and Zelina Vega, because they’re building to the Extreme Rules match with Lacey Evans and Baron Corbin with a weird low-rent Mixed Match Challenge thing. I was honestly hoping this would end with Zelina Vega announcing that she’s pregnant.
The poor hook here is that we find out it’s an elimination match. A mixed tag team elimination match. In WWE, where “mixed tag team rules” state that the men can only wrestle the men, and the women can only wrestle the women. Sure, we got Becky tapping out Mike Kanellis last week so maybe they’re very slowly ret-conning it, but as it stands, what was supposed to happen if Lynch eliminated Vega and then Andrade eliminated Rollins? Were we going to do Lynch vs. Andrade? Would it end in a tie?
One of the shittiest things about these 2-out-of-3 falls or elimination matches is that WWE’s convinced that important characters can’t take losses. It’s why characters like Elias (who loses all the time, so I dunno) gets chased to the back during his six-man tag team match*, or why Drew McIntyre randomly disappears before the deciding fall in his. But they also think that expendable heels — usually the people we want to see wrestle, like The Revival or Andrade or Kevin Owens or ESPECIALLY Sami Zayn — can take as many losses as they want and be fine, so heels almost always get wrecked in these things. You aren’t gonna see a face lose a fall, WWE go to commercial, and come back to the face losing the second fall. That’s somehow a bridge too far, despite heels getting figuratively and sometimes literally shit on week after week after week. It’s senile. Just go to commercials sometimes. Jesus Christ.
*Can you believe The Usos and The Revival are having a 2-out-of-3 falls match on Raw and I can’t even be arsed to talk about it? That’s where we’re at right now. Two of the greatest tag teams ever having the match NXT spend five years putting over as the end-all-be-all of professional wrestling excellence, and it’s just filler so there’s “no wrestling” during the pizza commercials.
The match ends with Evans and Corbin attacking the “love birds,” who we are repeatedly reminded are REAL LIFE BOYFRIEND AND GIRLFRIEND who LOVE EACH OTHER in a REAL LIFE LOVE. WWE could book 1,000 genius Raw episodes in a row before they’d book two babyfaces to convincingly like each other once. Remember when John Cena and AJ Lee were dating, and he got all embarrassed that she mentioned that they were dating in front of Justin Gabriel? Anyway, the attack sets up this UNBELIEVABLY TERRIBLE backstage segment, where Corbin and Evans read F-minus dialogue off cue cards with Tommy Wiseau-levels of skill. Corbin’s fake laugh at the beginning might be the worst half a second in WWE history. HEH HEH, WE’RE THE BEARS THAT HATE TO LOVE!
Not much better is the faces’ followup with Corey Graves, which you can watch here. I’m seriously waiting for one of these characters to chime in with, “I don’t love Johnny anymore. I love MARK.”
Who am I kidding? Nobody in WWE right now would say they love marks. They can only love the WWE Universe®, which is code for, “fans who act the way we ask them to.”
Also On This “Episode”
Do you watch NXT? Do you like the Street Profits? Would you like them more if they relentlessly screamed nonsense at the top of their lungs into the camera for five minutes?
Brock Lesnar might cash in the Money in the Bank contract at Extreme Rules. Then again, he might not! Raw fever: Catch it!
Maria Kanellis has been pregnant for a week — let’s say she’s been pregnant anywhere between two weeks and about a month and a half — but because she’s a character on a badly written television show, she’s already going completely hormonaly nuts and demanding coo-razy food combinations like ICE CREAM and PICKLES! So funny.
Here’s a sneak peek of next week’s great pregnancy goofs:
Even the 24/7 Championship shenanigans this week are pretty lame, and the closest thing I can come to a Best for the entire episode is how gorgeous Renee Michelle looked sitting on a crate for three hours. The Maverick family honeymoon stuff has been amazing, mostly because WWE clearly doesn’t micromanage it when it’s off television, although the “we haven’t consummated” stuff is running a bit thin. How does a wrestler marry another wrestler and then not sleep with him for a month because he’s wrestling? It’s cute, and I’m glad Renee’s got an on-screen gig because she’s great, but stories need more than one plot point if you’re gonna keep telling them for several months.
Maybe I’m just in a bad mood due to the other two hours and 45 minutes of the show, but even Truth’s dialogue didn’t really pop this week. It felt a lot like someone came to him with what to say and he just decided to go with it, like when the IIconics stop being backstage improv wizards and walk out on stage to say Miami stinks so much LeBron James didn’t want to PLAY HERE anymore, or whatever. It’s fine, it’s just not good enough to save anything.
It kinda kills the surprise attack if you stand up out of your hiding place, loudly announce what you’re going to do, and then wait for a second person to stand up out of THEIR hiding place to tell you to try doing it. It’s fine, IT’S FINE, I’m not in such a sad place that I’m going to continue nit-picking the Looney Tunes division. I just need whoever was in charge of this Raw to strap themselves to a rocket and shoot themselves into the goddamn sun.
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Week
Unfortunately The Street Profits were sent back to NXT after Lacey Evans made a noise complaint
The only thing Corbin sold worse than that punch from Becky was “Stomping Ground” tickets.
*Truth runs off with a woman on his back* Erik & Ivar: Now that’s a Viking experience.
Yes. We all cheered guys like Austin and The Rock, even though they weren’t “good” people. But the difference between then and now is the announcers never acted like Austin and The Rock WERE good people. They openly questioned them, but the crowd just happened to cheer them. Nowadays, the faces still act like heels, but the announcers make them out to be righteous and just. It’s so annoying.
The Real Birdman
RAW hyping something called “Evolve” is peak irony
Ricochet barely alive whispers “but I was big in Japan too”.
By not wrestling a single match, the Street Profits have made the most successful main roster transition for NXT tag champs.
AJ: I just don’t see why we have to promote Evolve. It’s bad enough that our schools are doing it.
That’s it for Raw. It was Raw. It’s always Raw. What the shit.
Anyway, thanks for reading about it. Hopefully next week I’ll get to say some nice things again. What a pleasant vacation that was! Drop a comment down below to let us know what you thought of the show, even if you’re one of those “ACTUALLY I THOUGHT IT WAS GREAT” types, and give us a share on social to help us out. You’re appreciated.
See you this weekend for Extreme Rules, which I hope is also In Your House: Hard Reset.