Previously on the Best and Worst of Raw: “Crowds” returned to WWE events in time to watch Apollo Crews win the United States Championship, Nia Jax become the number one contender to the Raw Women’s Championship, and a side-splitting golf game between the brand’s top two tag teams.
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Quick note: You may have noticed we didn’t post anything on Tuesday, as UPROXX participated in black out Tuesday. We appreciate your patience in waiting an extra day to hear what we thought about MVP vs. Drew McIntyre.
And now, the Best and Worst of WWE Raw for June 1, 2020.
We might as well start off this week’s column with the perfect online conversational storm that is Nia Jax. To recap as succinctly as possible, we tend to like Nia Jax a lot as a person and a personality, but every time she gets put into the spotlight it feels like she (meaning her character) immediately ruins it by saying something embarrassing or doing something that reads more like clumsy violence than purposeful jobber ass-whippings. Admittedly at this point that could be a self-fulfilling Sin Cara prophecy where we’ve started looking too closely for the bad so OF COURSE we’ll find it, so let’s approach this week with understanding and caution.
Up first, here’s Nia “lashing out” at the Kabuki Warriors with one of those promos where she just really, really doesn’t sound like she means what she’s saying. Or that she read what she was supposed to say before she says it. Here she says Kairi Sane and Asuka “aren’t what they say they are,” as being friends, wearing bright colors, and speaking Japanese — the only traits she identifies — are, “all smoke and mirrors.” There’s a heel delusional belief that they’re in the right and being persecuted, and then there’s saying the Japanese friends who wear bright colors aren’t really friends, don’t really speak Japanese, and don’t wear bright colors.
My favorite part is this exchange between Santana Garrett and Chelsea Green in the crowd after Nia mocks Asuka and Kairi by going full ching chong ching chong and reading their language as, “oy mee mee mee mee Japanese neh neh neh”. In the one second the camera’s on them you can see Santana turn as if to say, “should she be saying that in a promo?” And Chelsea stares forward blankly and purses her lips like, “nope, probably not.”
You know you’re doing well when you get a genuine “oh God” reaction from a loose gathering of developmental types who have spent the day getting yelled at over the PA system to be more lively. Buckle bombs just got banned because of Nia not knowing how to do one and hurting Kairi, so what, are whips into the steps next? Do we also ban shoulder breakers, catching moonsaults, and basic punches?
I want to approach this from a thoughtful perspective and not like, infantilize Kairi Sane like she’s some helpless flower who keeps getting hurt by the big mean Nia Jax or whatever. It’s not about that. Wrestling is dangerous. I think the issue is that Nia’s lazy danger has become her defining character trait, presumably because of how well the errant punch on Becky Lynch ended up working out for Becky, so now even when the violence is controlled, we’re fooled into seeing it as lackadaisical and unprofessional. Which is a shame, because if Nia was brutally lighting people up every week and it felt like a conscious decision EVERYONE IN THE RING was making, that could be fun. I can’t sit here as a fan of Stan Hansen, a man who once hit Vader so hard it popped out Vader’s eyeball, and act like I don’t like borderline ghastly wrestling violence from time to time. I think a lot of us just want to feel comfortable knowing everyone’s on the same page and doing things on purpose. Maybe it’s not for us to know. [shrug]
Nia returns later in the night to ruin the champion vs. champion match between Asuka and Charlotte Flair, which at least lets us get out of that match without Flair dunking on Asuka again. Asuka doesn’t seem like the kind of character who’d be that distracted by a sarcastic entrance and get herself counted out in a champion vs. champion match against the only person in WWE who seems to consistently have her number, but she also doesn’t seem like the kind to take one bad clothesline and be knocked out for five minutes, so who knows?
Best, Mostly: “rey mysterio retire bitch” — Seth Rollins
This might come as a shock to you, but the retirement ceremony for Rey Mysterio announced and hosted by Seth Rollins, the man who tried to end Mysterio’s career, didn’t actually involve Mysterio retiring. Crazy, right? It’s almost like Seth Rollins isn’t a reliable narrator.
This leads into a Seth Rollins vs. Aleister Black match, and while the roll-up ending and post-match attack were pretty lackluster, I want to give a shout-out to Raw creative for running a story in a conservative-ass company in the year of our Lord 2020 where Jesus is the villain and The Devil is the hero.
Later in the night, Mysterio brings it live via satellite to say he’s not sure when he’ll be back or if he’s retiring, but he sure wants to punch Bad Faith Jesus in the face about it. Dominick Mysterio, wearing a salmon t-shirt that I really hope is in reference to the greatest false retirement announcement of all time, swears that he’s going to go Hammurabi on Rollins’ ass for Road Warrioring his dad on Raw.
The real question: is Dominick already a Seth Rollins disciple, or does he become one the next time we see him?
This Week On Friday Night Smackdown
In a nice moment of babyface continuity, Kevin Owens helped Apollo Crews get the jump on Los Ingobernables de Central Florida which then led Crews to getting a United States Championship match and winning, so Crews is saying thank you by giving Owens the first title match. That’s how you build a character people can understand and like. Just have them do normal, nice things sometimes.
It’s 2020 and we’re floating on a speck of dust in the WWE Universe, however, so of course the match ends with Angel Garza and Andrade running in for the disqualification. That leads directly into a tag team match (player), which allows both the champion and challenger from the original United States Championship match to win and hold up each others’ arms. It’d be a lot better if they didn’t go to this well so often, as it ran completely dry of water like three years ago and they’ve been hoisting up buckets of damp, rocky dirt ever since. I like that Crews is legit now, though. That guy is too talented to have been stuck in Main Event purgatory for pretty much his entire WWE career. Shout to everyone from Titus Worldwide doing well except for Titus. Maybe the group should’ve been called Crews Worldwide, although that might’ve gotten them sued by Princess.
Also On This Episode
The Raw tag team division has officially become those old Goofy cartoons where a narrator explains sports to you while Goofy fucks it up. This week, the Street Profits and the Viking Raiders go bowling, and “hilarity” “ensues.” Not a lot of the jokes work for me, but I do like the old lady at the bowling alley realizing her cue’s about to come up and eavesdropping intently so she can nail the Street Profits’ mid-bowling-game entrance taunt. How early did Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins have to get there to set that up? The running joke about Ivar being attractive to any average blue collar woman isn’t particularly funny, but weirdly enough, them all thinking Erik is ugly and having to tell him about it to his face is.
Also, the Vikings didn’t win this game. Ivar surfing down the lane on his belly was clearly a foul, which means the pins don’t count. Ivar, this is not ‘Nam, this is bowling, there are rules. AM I THE ONLY ONE AROUND HERE WHO GIVES A SHIT ABOUT THE RULES? MARK IT ZERO.
Billie Kay has pinned one half of the Women’s Tag Team Champions! You’ve got to think this puts them in line for a possible future title opportunity, Byron! What will happen as the IIconics continue to build momentum heading into Backlash? Switching gears now, we want to talk to you about the unique circumstances going on in the world this week.
Finally, Drew McIntyre continues to try to lure out the “real” Bobby Lashley by once again defeating a guy he knows he can defeat 100 out of 100 times, MVP. There’s honestly not much to this story, but I like the undercurrent that MVP and Drew McIntyre are basically accomplishing the same thing. MVP wants to separate Lashley from Lana to get his head in the game and make him a world title contender again. McIntyre wants to separate Lashley from all of the nonsense and enrage him into getting his head in the game and becoming a world title contender again. Honestly if this ended with the reveal that McIntyre and MVP have been working together all along to destroy Lashley’s life by inflating his sense of self-worth while separating him from his wife and humiliating him at the top of the card at Backlash, I’d be pretty into it.
Lord loves a full nelson push, though. Every few years Vince McMahon’s like, “YOU KNOW WHAT WE NEED, QUITE FRANKLY? A GOOD OLD FASHIONED [gravel intensifies] FULL NELSON.” Like you can’t picture him opening his eyes real wide as if to say, “see?” while mimicking a full nelson. I’ve got surprisingly high hopes for this title match.
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Week
If KO retaliates by throwing HIS pants into Garza’s face, I promise I will be a WWE lifer and will do my best to only complain… let’s say once a month for the rest of 2020
Mocking Asians. Playing the victim. About to inflict unnecessary and reckless harm on an innocent? Nia should run for president.
*Kairi Sane gets hurt*
*Charlotte Flair instinctively comes out to slap her*
Lana has actually started to look like she’s being played by a different person.
Call Dominic “The Demo” because he is an 18-34 year old male!
Given Dominic’s mic skills, I’m starting to think Eddie might not be his real father.
The twist to this better be Charly charging the ring to protect Angel Garza from Kevin Owens.
Heel Level 1000 for Rollins having chairs available to Theory and Murphy.
The Real Birdman
Only winners get pins off Falcon Arrows
The year is 2080:
America has burned down in anarchy
Robot overlords rule the nation
The Street Profits are facing The Viking Raiders in a shuffleboard contest
Finally, Randy Orton believes he’ll win The Greatest Wrestling Match Ever™ when he faces Edge in The Greatest Wrestling Match Ever™ at Backlash. Disagreeing with him is this Lululemon trucker Santa Claus they asked for some reason.
Is it weird to anyone else that Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels look like your grandma and grandpa now?
Anyway, that does it for another episode of The Best and Worst of Quarantine Raw. Thanks as always for reading and supporting us. 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, and I can’t wait to celebrate society finally coming together and ending the divisiveness to unanimously praise Edge vs. Randy Orton at Backlash.
See you next week!