Previously on the Best and Worst of Raw: VI-KING RAY-DERS! We have beards … and this segment is weird! VI-KING RAY-DERS! We are in the car, and now our careers won’t go far! VI-KING RAY-DERS! We’re like the guys from the Sonic commercials all of a sudden. VI-KING RAY-DERS! VI-KING RAY-DERS! VI-KING RAY-DERS!
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And now, the Best and Worst of WWE Raw for April 27, 2020.
In this week’s episode, Apollo Crews flies too close to the sun.
Raw opens in the grand old Smackdown tradition of a talk show segment where the host is condescending to the guests, they speak up only to get interrupted by unrelated heels, and it sets up a tag team match for later in the night. MVP interviewing Rey Mysterio, Aleister Black, and Apollo Crews only to be interrupted by Zelina Vega’s group could just as easily be, I don’t know, Jeff Hardy, Daniel Bryan, and Drew Gulak being interrupted by Sami Zayn, Cesaro, and Shinsuke Nakamura. And then Gulak would pin Zayn to win the match, challenge Zayn to an Intercontinental Championship match, and then lose. Because the only true thing in WWE right now is that if you’re a bad guy with a championship and it’s on the line, you’re gonna win, but if it isn’t, you’re gonna lose.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
A wild match appeared, and it’s what you’ve come to expect from these Performance Center Raws. It’s not bad, necessarily, but it’s overly long to fill time — this one goes 25 minutes when it absolutely shouldn’t have gone longer than 10 — is hurt by the absence of crowd reactions, and only exists as a cog in the build to some other match you’re going to forget happened by next Monday. It’s also an iffy match to book given you’re putting your three Money in the Bank qualifiers in the ring against what’s ostensibly your only group of heels on Raw now that Rollins’ group is mostly scattered to the wind, and you’ve already spent several weeks feeding them to whomever needed the win. So again, it’s a lot like the Artists Collective. The villains are wildly talented and great hands to have around when you need to make the heroes look good, but if they’re the only option, they start looking like complete fucking goobers.
Continuing the trend of “somebody used permanent marker on the dry erase board” Raw booking, Apollo Crews wins by pinning Andrade. Apollo Crews has pinned the United States Champion! You’ve got to think that puts him into contention for a possible future title shot, King! Words about the decision are exchanged backstage and Crews ends up getting his title shot right here tonight, but not before slapping Andrade so hard it knocks his spirit into the astral plane. This slap was easily the best part of the entire show.
But … well … you know.
As mentioned, you’ve got a much better chance of beating a champion in a non-title match than in a title match. It doesn’t matter if the champion has an OVR of 65 and you’re in the mid-90s, if the title’s on the line, the stats get reversed. See also, again, Daniel Bryan vs. Sami Zayn at WrestleMania.
During the match, Crews moonsaults from the apron to the floor and tweaks his knee. Like a lot of modern WWE matches, it becomes the focus of the story but doesn’t keep the guy with the tweaked knee from doing standing moonsaults or delayed powerslams or whatever. Ultimately Crews misses a frog splash by landing on his feet, which FURTHER tweaks the knee, and instead of that just setting up the finish they … stop the match on the spot and give the win to Andrade via sadness forfeit. The next time we see him, he’s in the back leaving the arena in his underpants on crutches, crying.
So many strange decisions here. You rebuilt Apollo Crews by bringing him to Raw and had him qualify for Money in the Bank only to immediately lose because he sucks and get taken out of Money in the Bank? What was the point of that? Will he be more compelling and sympathetic star now that he’s failed on a spectacular level and cried about it? You could argue that him not taking the pin “protects” him here, but shit, when has Apollo Crews not been able to take pinfalls? I think by “protecting” him, you actually hurt him and made him look worse. A guy losing his second 20-minute match of the night to someone who’s supposed to be the second best guy in the company in the United States Champion is one thing. A guy losing because of a worked injury and then being too verklempt to put on his clothes or speak about it is another.
I don’t know. I get what they’re doing, but it feels too much like someone typing the same paragraph and deleting it, over and over. It doesn’t matter how good the paragraph is if you delete it, and you can’t write a cohesive story until you start chaining paragraphs together.
Sorry you don’t get to do standing moonsaults in an office building, Apollo. I sure hope Brock Lesnar doesn’t randomly get your spot and win by tipping over Titan Towers from the ground floor.
Also On This Episode
Wait, we’re there already?
… shit …
Speaking of strange decisions, the only match WWE advertised for this episode before it aired was a triple threat between Nia Jax, Shayna Baszler, and Asuka. Then, instead of, you know, doing the match, they have it end before it begins with Nia manhandling the two most dominant women in NXT history and (for some reason) doing the Ultimate Warrior gorilla press to a ladder.
Then her music plays, which … means she won, I guess? I don’t know. They don’t know either, it’s fine. Like the opening six-man tag, this was one of those matches you probably would’ve benefited more from not booking. For whatever reason WWE’s still under the impression that the best way to advertise a pay-per-view match is to have the participants wrestle on every Raw or Smackdown leading up to it and look like dipshits for several weeks. Asuka and Shayna Baszler were total losers in a baited-and-switched non-match in service of promoting the one woman in the Money in the Bank match you can’t currently rely on to get through an arm drag and a twist without hurting somebody. Without exaggeratedly bagging on Nia, whom I really do like as a person and a character concept, there are real, visible problems with some of the stuff she does in the ring, and they aren’t going to be softened by giving her a weapon and asking her to climb to the top of a ladder.
Quick question: What is Liv Morgan’s character? I believe the only information we’ve been given is that she took a series of bubble baths and decided to dye her hair and stop eating candy, and she had an affair with Lana.
Last week, Liv defeated Ruby Riott with her finisher, which didn’t have a name. This week, Liv defeats Ruby Riott with her finisher, which now HAS a name. Oblivion. Ob-Liv-ion, get it? Do you get it. She’s still getting better, although I’m sure some of that has to do with Ruby. If you’re gonna push Liv, you need to keep her in the ring with people who know what they’re doing.
After the match, Liv introduces us to the Genesis of Mor-gillicutty:
“I fill like … I’ve had so many chapters, and there’s gonna continue to be so many more chapters with me, but right, now I fill … I fill like a lot of people my age, I’m just still, I’m still trying to figure out who I am and exactly what that means and exactly who that is, but … I’m gonna figure it out and … [tries to remember lines] … I’m confident, that I will figure out.”
On a related note, best of luck in your future endeavors to Ruby Riott. I don’t know if she’s leaving or sticking around or what, but regardless, I hope her future endeavors are better than these.
Speaking of Lana, Bobby Lashley has to compliment her into inaction so he can concentrate on defeating the Great Value 2015 Angelo Dawkins, Denzel DeJournette. Surprisingly, Donald Trump’s Champion for Trial By Combat is able to score the win over a guy whose only contribution to WWE television to date has been doing Public Enemy’s entrance before getting stomped by Imperium. And he even got most of THAT from Dawkins.
Dawkins and Montez Ford exchange promos with the Viking Raiders, who are back to pretending to be threatening after a week of Carpool Karaoke with dorky chanting instead of songs. And not even chanting as songs. They’re going to have a match next week, which hopefully ends with the Profits going over and the Raiders being penalized one match per “VI-KING RAY-DERS.”
This week’s most important development is the return of Jinder Mahal, star of a WWE Championship run that was terrible, but everyone says was great now. At least it was different? Not every title run has 90% Singh Brothers interference finishes, racist promos about Shinsuke Nakamura, and The Great Khali showing up to help you win a Randy Orton Punjabi Prison match. But yeah, compare it with the bug projector and the House of Horrors and the House of Horrors and Mahal’s run starts looking like Bruno Sammartino’s.
Anyway, if Zelina Vega’s group are Raw’s version of the Artists Collective, Jinder appears to be Raw’s version of Sheamus. A former WWE Champion returns after a long absence with a trimmed down and ridiculously cut physique to beat jobbers every week. Here he goes over Akira Tozawa, who is still stuck on enhancement talent duty despite being in the Interim Cruiserweight Championship tournament. It’s too bad they can only pay attention to one weekly several-hour prime-time TV show from this one empty venue at a time.
Cedric Alexander and Ricochet get a quick, four-minute win over Chase Parker and Matt Martel, formerly known as Team 3.0, currently known as EVER-RISE. If you don’t read the Best and Worst of NXT column, no, the team name does not make any sense, and yes, it somehow manages to sound like both the word “ovaries” and a brand of biscuit flour.
The winners continue the Circle of Life for underappreciated cruiserweight tag teams by debuting a new finisher, a top rope double-stomp and Flatliner combination, which is reminiscent of the Lucha Bros’ top rope double-stomp and Package Piledriver combination, which in itself is reminiscent of Low Ki and Homicide’s top rope double-stomp and Vertebreaker combination. I’m excited for eight years from now when NXT Superstars Eli Everfly and Lucas Riley debut their tag team finisher, a top rope double-stomp and rolling cutter combination.
Triple H Appreciation Week continues, and I swear to God, if I never see this clip of D-Generation X “invading Nitro” on a tank that’s actually a jeep again, it’ll be too soon. Easily the least consequential thing to ever happen but be treated like a cultural tent-pole by WWE. They rode around in the parking lot before the show and pointed at their dicks, it’s not the moon landing.
Finally, Drew McIntyre and Seth Rollins (seen here wearing a black suit and tie with one glove like he’s Michael Jackson doing ‘Dangerous’ on tour) sign a contract to “make it official” for Money in the Bank. They exchange some WWE 2K promo battle dialogue, notorious spider murderer Drew McIntyre throws the first punch, and Buddy Murphy shows up solely to eat a Claymore Kick so Rollins doesn’t have to. McIntyre also tells Rollins that he’s “full of shit,” because Chris Jericho broke the Shit Barrier for prime-time wrestling shows and now everybody gets to say it*. At Money in the Bank, these two will go at it in a Break Room Brawl, or whatever!
*In the modern era. We know Bret Hart is the true Canadian shit-saying pioneer.
Additional note: Am I the only one hoping Jinder Mahal would run back out to help Drew even the odds?
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Week
Zelina’s out here with the 5 biggest heels on RAW….Andrade, Theory, Garza, her left shoe and her right shoe.
Of all things, I would think a contract signing is a perfect example of work that could be done at home.
“Look at the power of Theory!”
Unless you’re a Board of Education in the South.
Seth: “I don’t want what happened to me to happen to you Drew. You need to stay off Twitter.”
Jinder Mahal vs Akira Tozawa followed by Andrade vs Apollo Crews. Jerry Lawler shouldn’t even be doing an internal monologue while watching this Raw.
The Real Birdman
“Jinder Mahal is back in action next!!”
Zelina’s pants are like Raw writers’ plots. Full of holes and you can’t figure out how they actually put them on.
Byron: “Apollo Crews was written off by people who said he wasn’t good enough. That he’d never be a champion. That his career would never amount to anything.”
I’m cool with acting like the Carpool Chanting thing was a gas leak segment
Last week Liv Morgan beat Ruby Riott only for Liv Morgan to beat Ruby Riott this week. Tune in next week as Ruby Riott faces…(sighs) Liv Morgan.
(I had to delete this exact sentence when I saw the comment.)
That does it for another episode of The Best and Worst of Increasingly Depressing Quarantine Raw for one of (if not the) worst empty PC show they’ve done so far. Just an illogical, uneventful slog for three hours. Even the stuff that happened got erased before the episode was over.
Anyway, as always you can help us out tremendously right now by sharing the column on social media, as well as dropping down into our comments section to let us know what you thought of the show. I will keep trying to watch these and say something constructive about them, but if I fall into existential, nihilistic despair waiting for real episodes with fans to return, throw me in cryogenic freeze.
Join us back here next week for more build to Money in the Corporate Headquarters, Liv Morgan vs. Ruby Riott probably, and the Street Profits vs. VI-KING RAY-DERS VI-KING RAY-DERS VI-KING RAY-DERS. See you then.