Previously on the Best and Worst of Raw: Lana and Bobby Lashley got married in one of the most talked-about segments in recent memory. Boy, anybody trying to give us another segment like that should be attacked on sight by WWE security.
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And now, the Best and Worst of WWE Raw for January 6, 2020.
Unprecedented, With Precedence
This week’s Raw opens up with an appearance and promo from Paul Heyman while Brock Lesnar makes $127,000 to stand nearby and hop up and down in place. Heyman’s big news is that Lesnar is entering the Royal Rumble match at number one in an unprecedented one versus all scenario. Whether or not the WWE Championship is on the line in the Rumble match is unclear. If it’s not, this rob us of the only WWE Championship match we’d expect the WWE Champion to have between November and April. You’d think somebody would jump Brock the second he walked into the arena for Raw to try to pick a fight and get a championship match for later, like they do with every other champion ever, but I guess we can’t expect the guy at the top of the biggest wrestling promotion in the world to stay in the building for more than a quarter-hour.
The bummer is that it’s not even unprecedented. The champion’s entered the Royal Rumble match before, and the championship’s been on the line in the Rumble multiple times. Even the champion entering at number one and defending the championship has been done. In fact, all of those things were done way back in [checks notes] 2016, when Roman Reigns entered the Rumble at number one and ended up losing the championship to Triple H. Not that we should expect WWE to remember something that happened in the long long ago of four years ago. LOL was Bruno Sammartino in that Royal Rumble, or what? The only way you can semantically justify the announcement as “unprecedented” is by saying it’s the first time the WWE Champion has voluntarily entered the Rumble match at number one, but without knowing whether or not the title’s on the line it’s not even important. You might as well be saying, “Brock Lesnar makes history by being the first man with Jimmy John’s logos on his gym shorts to enter the Royal Rumble match.”
Choose your own booking adventure:
- Chaotic Good: Brock Lesnar enters at number one, Matt Riddle enters at number two and immediately clotheslines Lesnar over the top rope, eliminating him. Extra points if this sets up Matt Riddle vs. Brock Lesnar at NXT TakeOver, because how funny would Brock Lesnar be at Full Sail
- Chaotic Neutral: The title isn’t on the line but someone unexpected eliminates Lesnar, giving someone new and fresh a big marquee match with Lesnar for the championship at WrestleMania. Maybe Bobby Lashley? Just someone who isn’t Roman Reigns or Seth Rollins
- Chaotic Evil: Brock enters the Rumble at number one, eliminates all 29 challengers, and establishes that no WWE Superstar can defeat him. The only one who can? Someone who doesn’t wrestle but is famous for boxing! Or MMA! Those are the real sports! This includes a bonus WrestleMania moment where Andy Ruiz Jr. announces the attendance as 15,000 more than the actual attendance and then knocks out Drew McIntyre
Best, Then Extremely Worst: Andrade Vs. Rey Mysterio
I thought the first hour and change of Raw — everything after the Lesnar appearance, and before Erick Rowan — was really good. There were two long, action-filled championship matches, one of which involved the magical pairing of Rey Mysterio Jr. and Andrade Sin Apellido. Rey and Andrade can’t help but be fantastic when they’re in the ring together, and this would’ve been a must-see if not for the ridiculous, convoluted, on-the-fly finish.
In case you missed it, Mysterio tries a headscissors off the apron, gets caught, and gets Alley Ooped into Zelina Vega. If you watch the WWE YouTube cut of the match above, Mysterio lingers around on the outside being concerned about Vega’s well being, but gets caught with a Hammerlock DDT as he’s reentering the ring and gets pinned. If you watched Raw live, though, you saw one of the weirdest finishes ever.
Andrade vs. Rey was as great as ever
even with the ref having to grab Rey and shove him outside for the convoluted finish pic.twitter.com/ps79bBvip8
— Maffew (@Maffewgregg) January 7, 2020
Andrade goes to the floor to retrieve Mysterio, tosses him back into the ring, and sets him up for the Hammerlock DDT. Only I guess Vince McMahon is in the referee’s ear screaming about how they didn’t get a good enough shot of Mysterio looking sad about having been tossed into a woman against his will, so the referee physically gets involved to break up the move. He then loudly tells Mysterio to “go back out,” right into the camera, and again physically stops Andrade from going out after him. Full on New Japan-style wrist clutch, and pulling him back into the ring by his hair.
They re-do the whole thing, never once seeming to remember that they are on live television and not taping this to edit later. Mysterio sulks, goes back into the ring, gets Hammerlocked, and loses. Totally bush league and embarrassing, especially with two world class performers in the ring whose instincts you should trust, ESPECIALLY just to get a shot so your YouTube clip has a slightly more obvious narrative. We’re TELLING STORIES here, folks!
I liked the followup, at least, with an unmasked Mysterio following Andrade and Zelina into their backstage interview and shit-kicking Andrade to get his mask back. That’s the kind of price you should pay when you unmask a luchador. You can get a moment of sarcastic and insulting glory, but you’re gonna have to get punched about.
Also, bonus points for Rey Mysterio’s mask saying “MASK” on it, presumably so he doesn’t accidentally put it on as underwear.
Join us next week when Andrade and Mysterio enter into a triple threat with that referee and get their asses handed to them. GO BACK OUT.
Best: The Viking Raiders Are Good When They Aren’t Just Screaming At Jobbers
The second championship match saw Raw Tag Team Champions The Viking Raiders successfully defend their championship against Raw’s other two tag teams, The O.C. and The Street Profits. I’d include Zack Ryder and Curt Hawkins on the list, as they’re “former Raw Tag Team Champions,” but they lost a 2-on-1 handicap match last week in like 90 seconds, so they currently have the combined power levels of one jobber.
Like always, this feels better if you pretend the O.C.’s not involved. I’m really struggling to deal with having to watch them wrestle every week. My brain keeps telling me, “they’re a good tag team,” but my eyes glaze over whenever they’re in the ring. It’s like they’re conditioning me to become the Winter Soldier or something. It’s completely watchable, though, and I can at least appreciate Raw giving the tag teams 15 minutes to do tag team wrestling stuff. I still think it’s weird that they had the Profits defeat The O.C. last week only for both teams to get the same title shot seven days later.
Now that the Viking Raiders have defeated their only opponents, though, what do they do? Unless AOP’s going to stop being bodyguards and start wrestling on their own again, there are really no options. Unless you wanna see Viking Raiders vs. Eric Young and Titus O’Neil on the Royal Rumble kickoff show.
Best, I Guess: Becky Vs. Asuka
Becky Lynch shows up to cut a promo in full Game of Death cosplay, gets interrupted by a confidently shit-talking-in-Japanese Asuka, and knocks her out with a Women’s Right to the collarbone. She learned her standing game from Ronda Rousey! This was fine, because the actual championship match between these two is gonna be hot fire.
In other women’s division news, Sarah Logan returned from whatever Main Event Phantom Zone she’s been stuck in since randomly making the Raw women’s Survivor Series team and attacks Charlotte Flair before their match begins. She tries to tear up Charlotte’s entrance robe, but Charlotte quickly kicks her ass and takes it back. Between the Becky and Asuka promo and this match never getting started, this week’s Raw had 0:00 of in-ring action for its women’s division on a three-hour show. This is fine dot JPG.
Mojo’s Bizarre Adventure
Spoiler: Erick Rowan is carrying around “what happens to NXT stars when they get called up” in his little cage.
Later in the show, Rowan continues his march through the least threatening wrestlers in North America with a victory over local competitor™ KJ Orso, better known as Fuego del Sol. He also once famously ran the KIDS BACKYARD WRESTLING promotion, where he competed as “Kage.” I wish I could go back in time and tell 2013 me that one day Kage would show up on Raw to wrestle the guy in the sheep mask from The Wyatt Family and get his eyeballs eaten by a mystery pet.
I hope the explanation for Rowan’s pet is that it’s a monster of Lovecraftian origin, meaning that it is beyond human comprehension, rendering any explanation of what you’ve seen meaningless. Either that, or it’s just a rabid opossum. Now that it’s eating people’s faces, though, maybe it’s Matanza Cueto? He got sacrificed to the Gods, maybe he can fit in a crawfish cage now?
For the record, I know haven’t been enthusiastic about Erick Rowan’s mystery luggage, but I’m all-in on Raw having more supernatural murders.
Sad, More Than Anything: Thinking About What A Dream Match AJ Styles Vs. Akira Tozawa Would’ve Been Five Years Ago
The 2020 version is a 130 second squash with Styles not even needing to use his own moves to win. He does Randy Orton’s hanging DDT, the “hunting RKO” taunt, a full-blown RKO, and Orton’s “release the doves” taunt on the second rope in the corner. He’s “sending a message” to Randy Orton, who he faces one-on-one on next week’s episode.
I’ll be honest, I’ll mark out if Randy Orton pulls out a springboard flying forearm next week.
Also On This Episode
Aleister Black and Shelton Benjamin have a disappointingly awkward two-minute match that Black wins with Black Mass. I was really hoping they’d put this together so Benjamin could springboard into it like he’s in the Gold Rush tournament.
After the match, Buddy Murphy attacks Black to set up next week’s not-actually-rubber match and puts him away with one of those weird plunder spots that doesn’t actually make the move you’re doing hurt more if you think about it for five seconds. Next week I hope Black puts Buddy in a Dragon Sleeper on the announce table to let him know he won’t stand for being kneed in the face while a steel chair is propped up against his chest.
Drew McIntyre obliterates No Way Jose and the No Way Jose players, and is trying to get over a “3, 2, 1” countdown chant before his Claymore Kicks. It’s like watching Shawn Michaels figure out he should “tune up the band” before hitting Sweet Chin Music. That’s the kind of shit that makes you a star in the boss’ eyes. I hope this is finally the beginning of something meaningful and special for Drew, although right now there’s still like a 70% chance he enters number two in the Royal Rumble and gets thrown out by Brock before number three.
Worst: More Weddings, MORE, MORE
I guess WWE blew their yearly wedding budget on a Hiding Cake big enough to hide Rusev, so this week they have Lana and Lashley get married in a brief in-ring committment ceremony and quickly move on to setting up a match for next week. Rusev once again interrupts, but this time while wearing a Hawaiian shirt and standing in front of a badly green-screened beach because he’s “on vacation.” I don’t know why a company with an unlimited travel budget for global performance can’t send Rusev and a camera man to the beach for an afternoon to film a thing, but whatever. Later in the show, Liv Morgan interrupts an R-Truth interview for some reason to tell us she’s going to be in Rusev’s corner next week, almost guaranteeing the women turn on the men and run off together in a 2020 reboot of Pretty Mean Sisters. Who gets to be Meat this time? Finn Bálor?
Anyway, the most memorable part of this is that the pastor tries to roll into the ring before his cue and gets attacked and beaten down by security. They quickly go to commercial and come back like, “that’s the guy from before, sorry!” I don’t know what’s funnier, WWE not knowing which extras they’ve hired for the week, WWE not communicating which extras have been hired to security, or an extra being physically restrained due to enthusiasm for the product. Why’d this motherfucker hop the rail and sprint-roll into the ring like a drunk fan, though, honestly?
Well: It’s The Big Show
Finally, we had an episode-long mystery about who would be Kevin Owens and Samoa Joe’s partner in their six-man tag team main event against the Architects of Pain and, well, it’s The Big Show. It’s a big, bad Show tonight. Miraculously, he doesn’t turn heel on his partners despite over 10 minutes of wrestling happening. Asking The Big Show to be your tag team partner is like asking Charles Manson to give you a tour of Los Angeles.
I assume they’re saving the Big Swerve for next week, when these same two teams go three-on-three in, and I’m quoting here, “the first ever FIST FIGHT in WWE HISTORY!”
Not to be confused with this week’s main event, which ended with a guy knocking out another guy with his fist. Jerry Lawler’s call of, “fist fight? What the heck are the rules of a fist fight?” is especially insulting, given that he got popular as The Wrestler Who Punched in an era when closed fists were supposed to be illegal. I hope Big Show doesn’t try to knock out Rollins and accidentally knock out Owens instead! Actually the only thing I hope is that the rules of the fist fight say that only punches are allowed, and that if you throw a kick or do a headlock at any point, you’re disqualified. Some real 2000 WCW shit going on on Monday Night Raw.
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Week
Tozawa: So I guess we had it pretty good on 205 Live, huh?
Alicia Fox: Any of you guys wanna pretend to be my boyfriend so we can pitch a cuckolding storyline to Vince?
Nese: I’ll message you in private
Baron Von Raschke
There needs to be dueling chant:
Match was awesome!
Match was awesome!
“Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome The Ravishing Russian, Lana, and Bobby Lashley!”
Bleeding from the eyes, begging for it to stop… that jobber was everyone watching raw.
Becky, I wouldn’t mess with Asuka like that. She’s reckless, I saw her just flat out refuse to read the instructions for her pressure cooker.
Inside Rowan’s cage is a miniature dark room with a miniature Alliester Black sitting in the middle
I can honestly say that two of my top five favorite moments on the show so far were the NXT and AEW commercials.
Leave it to a Scottish guy to confuse a taco with a cheeseburger.
Vince: So, I hear you’re married. I have this great idea…
Aleister: WHAT IF I JUST WRESTLE BUDDY MURPHY UNTIL I RETIRE?!?!?
The Real Birdman
Wrestling weddings will continue until morale improves
That’s all for this week’s Best and Worst of Raw. Not a bad show at all, but one that peaked too early. Hot take: Raw would be a better show if it was an hour shorter. It’d be even better if you cut it by two. Raw would be the best show on TV it it was an 11-minute Adult Swim original, is what I’m saying.
Make sure to drop down into our comment section below to lets know what you thought of the show, and give us a share on social media to help the first Raw column of the new year and decade be a hit. Make sure you’re here next week, too, as Raw is in your house and fully loaded with:
- AJ Styles vs. Randy Orton
- Buddy Murphy vs. Aleister Black III
- Bobby Lashley vs. Rusev
- the First Ever® FIST FIGHT™ in WWE® History!
- Brock Lesnar earning another $127,000 to do nothing
- a women’s match, maybe!
See you then!