The Best And Worst Of WWE Raw 3/2/20: Along Came A Spider

Previously on the Best and Worst of Raw: Randy Orton continued ApologyQuest 2020, Seth Rollins enlisted the help of a fanboy referee to make Kevin Owens lose, and we failed to learn what Bobby Lashley thinks about the Sonic the Hedgehog movie. Spoiler alert, he loved it.

Things to do: Follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook. You can also follow me on Twitter. BUY THE SHIRT.

One more thing: Hit those share buttons! Spread the word about the column on Facebook, Twitter and whatever else you use. Be sure to leave us a comment in our comment section below as well. I know we always ask this, and that this part is copy and pasted in every week, but we appreciate it every week. It’s almost time for WWE: Toilet Synonym Pay-per-view™!

And now, the Best and Worst of WWE Raw for March 2, 2020.

Best: Boots 2 Asses

It looks like Drew McIntyre has finally cracked the code: if you’re feuding with someone on Raw, chances are they’re going to try to sneak attack you, so you should just be ready to go with a finisher at a moment’s notice. Then, instead of standing up on the ropes and posing or just walking backwards up the ramp, you should continue hitting them with finishers until they’re dead. This goes double, nay, triple when the person you’re feuding with is Brock Lesnar, and doesn’t actually show up every week. Make it count. If you successfully kick the man in his purple baby’s face and he sells it like he was in a car accident, load that shit up and do it again. And then do it again.

That’s how this week’s Raw opens, amazingly. Lesnar and Heyman do their thing, with critically acclaimed wordsmith Heyman calling McIntyre a “stupid big bitch,” and McIntyre showing up to raise boots about it. Lesnar tries the world’s most obvious sneak attack, but Drew sank three baskets in a row at the Royal Rumble and is on fire so he immediately stops it. I’ve got to say, it feels refreshing that someone finally figured out Drew McIntyre is an enormous handsome bad-ass and would probably help the wrestling show by, you know, being that.

The only negative here is that WWE TV has trained me to recognize patterns, so McIntyre completely washing Brock with no resistance in this Raw opening gave me ominous Green Dreams of Brock winning in like three minutes at WrestleMania. Surprise Claymore to start the match, Brock kicks out, McIntyre hits a second Claymore, sets up for a third, runs and jumps into Lesnar’s arms for an F-5. Reigns defeating Goldberg is set up as the big moment now in a way Reigns vs. the Fiend wouldn’t have been, so does McIntyre vs. Lesnar get shuffled to the beginning of the card so Brock can win a disheartening half-squash and bail five minutes into Mania? Honestly I’m just putting this negative energy out into the universe to ensure it doesn’t happen, or at least that someone at WWE planning to do it reads this column and goes, “oh no, they figured it out, guess we’ve got to do something different.”

Best: They Got The Smoke

I don’t know why losing a Raw Tag Team Championship match on Thursday earned them a Raw Tag Team Championship match at Raw on Monday, but the first match of the night is a “now or never” rematch from Super Showdown with the Street Profits challenging “Literally Jesus Now” Seth Rollins and Buddy Murphy. The first and last half hours from this Raw are VERY good, and another in an endless series of inferences that Raw would be a great WWE show if it was an hour shorter. Although I guess that Sonic commercial with the redheaded triplets yelling CHOCKLIT, CHOCKLIT, CHOKLIT at each other like the seagulls in Finding Nemo doesn’t work unless you see it seven times.

Anyway, surprise! The Street Profits plus Seth Rollins and Murphy is a great tag team wrestling match. It was the only in-ring highlight from Super Showdown (since Saudi Arabia treated Humberto Carrillo and Angel Garza like they were ghosts), and it’s considerably better on Raw thanks to a better ending, some cohesive continuity, and a crowd that actually wants to be at the show to see something other than Mansoor and people who were popular in 1998.

In case you missed it, Rollins does that thing he does when he’s a heel where he starts second-guessing himself despite basically being an ace and starts taking unnecessary shortcuts. He tries to get AOP to help him out but they get caught, because they’re giant and obvious, which gets them ejected and causes a commotion. This allows Kevin Owens — who lost to Randy Orton last week and almost got his head chaired in thanks to Rollins manipulating the scenario and getting a “follower” to pose as a referee — to get revenge, hit him with a Stunner, and tit Rollins’ tat. Rollins gets his comeuppance both by failing to cheat and by having his successful cheats of the past come back to bite him in the ass. Angelo Dawkins tosses Murphy into the timekeeper’s area, and Montez Ford goes up top to hit the world’s most beautiful frog splash to win the Raw Tag Team Championship.

Rollins lent his star power to the tag team division for a few weeks to get it back on its feet, Murphy gets a rub for working so closely with Rollins and having good matches, the Street Profits win a big match in front of a hot crowd to become champions, and Rollins vs. Owens continues. Plus, even though there are “no more rematch clauses” they’re doing another rematch at Elimination Chamber, and hey, I’ll take it. Good stuff all around.

Best: Let’s Keep It Positive By Jumping To The End

Later in the night we get another great tag team match, this one with a real WCW-style “wow, the luchadors sure are creative and cool” vibe: Rey Mysterio, who is still a top TV performer 20 years after WCW, teaming up with Humberto Carrillo against Big Dick Energy Angel Garza and the returning Andrade. First of all, great to see Andrade back from his … [checks notes] injury. Second of all, Garza and Andrade with Zelina Vega managing them is an A+ tag team and unfairly beautiful collection of people. Thirdly, of course they’re a great pairing with Carrillo and Mysterio. These are all statements you already knew if you watched the show with eyes that work and a brain that can process human thought.

Plus it was good to see Mysterio and Carrillo pick up a win, as they’ve spent most of the lifespan of these interconnected feuds getting pinned and/or DDT’d onto concrete. I was hoping this was the set-up for a fatal four-way for the United States Championship at Elimination Chamber, but they’re just doing Andrade vs. Carrillo again, probably on the kickoff show. That’ll be great, assuming they don’t fly in the Riyadh crowd to fill a building in Philadelphia.

BEST: The Talented Mr. Orton

Or, “The Beth And Worst Of Raw.”

Finally (chronologically, but not in the column) we have the main event segment, wherein Beth Phoenix shows up to give a medical update on Edge and is immediately interrupted by Randy Orton. Of course she is, though, because I think everyone in the building and everyone watching at home knew she was just out there to eat an RKO. I think Beth might’ve been the only person in the world that didn’t know it was coming.

This might be the best character work of Randy Orton’s entire career, and maybe the best promo he’s ever given. It might be the best promo ANYONE in WWE has given since Daniel Bryan wandered through the arena yelling at Undisputed Era fans for being impotent. Orton starts off with a story about going to a WWF event with his dad in 1999 when he was trying to break into the business and meeting Edge, and how when they worked together and Orton was at the lowest point of his life — owning up to bad life decisions from the past, which is SHOCKINGLY complex for a WWE character — Edge reached down and pulled him back up by showing him life was worth living and human love was possible. And it was that same love that compelled Randy to mercy kill Edge the night after the Royal Rumble, because he knew some young pup was going to try to make a name for themselves by putting Edge in a wheelchair, or worse. Remember when Seth Rollins threatened to break Edge’s neck back in 2014? Orton’s not only speaking from a place of love, he’s citing precedent. He loves Edge and Beth, and wants them to have a happy life. So he has to kill them, so someone won’t kill them worse.

It’s around this point that Orton masterfully takes the promo to a perversely warped place, saying that he loves Edge so much that only he can love Edge, because the bond between wrestlers is stronger than the bond between a man and his wife. Even if the man and wife are also wrestlers, I guess. It’s actually BETH’s fault for what happened to Edge, because he’s a junkie for the adulation of the fans and she’s an enabler for not stepping in to keep him from returning in the first place. She slaps him, and he does this great character beat where he bends over in a fit of rage trying to calm himself, and you can see him working through the realization that if he’s going to keep Edge out of WWE he’s going to have to kill Beth, too. He calls her a bitch (edited out of the YouTube video), she tries to kick him, and he RKOs her back to Full Sail.

WWE

Orton mentions earlier in the promo that he used to make bad life decisions and his rage and ego made him “fly too close to the sun.” And now he’s older and wiser … and trying to permanently injure a guy so he won’t get injured, and shit-talking the wife of a man he loves because HE loves the man MORE. Brilliant, pitch-perfect heel hubris and blatant, twisted hypocrisy. It makes sense to Orton, and he believes he’s in the right, and that’s what makes it connect. Plus, it’s reminiscent of the time Orton RKO’d Stacy Keibler to show the Undertaker that his capacity for hate is such much greater than he understanding of love. For Orton, love is a means to an end. A thing you do to convince yourself you’re human between serpentine beatings.

My only two criticisms here are that the WWE crowd was a weird combination of bloodthirsty and stupid, chanting “RKO! RKO!” the entire time and then acting shocked when he hit an RKO, and Beth needing a ring full of well-wishers to help her up afterward. I know the RKO is an instant kill-shot, but you can’t apply the whispered tones of oh no how could the wrestler put his hands on another wrestler’s WIFE thing when the wrestler’s wife is in the Hall of Fame and just wrestled most of a Royal Rumble match oozing blood from the back of her head. She’s tough, man. Knocking her out cold is one thing; having 10 people in the ring in the ring in shock and practically sobbing that the woman who once went nose to nose (well, navel) with The Great Khali got hit with a strong finisher was a bit much. That’s the dramatic hook though, I get it.

Really hoping Orton vs. Edge at WrestleMania delivers, as the matches at the end of Orton feuds are rarely as good as the feuds themselves. I also hope they remember it’s beyond a passionate blood feud at this point, and focus on the hatred and aggression instead of doing slow stomps and chinlocks. Randy.

Worst: THE REST OF THE SHOW

Good lord. Let’s go through this in order.

Right after the Street Profits win the Raw Tag Team Championship, Riddick Moss pins Ricochet — Ricochet, who was challenging Brock Lesnar for the WWE Championship four days ago — clean as a sheet with Curtis Axel’s old finisher, the Axehole. There’s so much to process here. Riddick Moss was a developmental jobber for six straight years, losing tag team matches to the goddamn Hunt on NXT UK as recently as December 2019, and now he’s on Raw getting “who are you” chants while being the longest reigning 24/7 Champion in history and kicking Ricochet’s ass. And who did Ricochet piss off? He went from emotional video packages about how he’s a super hero underdog to getting zero offense against Brock and getting skunked by the worst guy from a team with Dan Matha in like half a week.

I’m all for new stars, but damn, if the crowd can’t recognize a guy and you’ve already made him champion, what does that say about your creative process?

Ruby Riott gets a promo where she says she’s finally free, and that the only person she has to worry about now is herself. And then she walks to the ring to lose a match involving the other two people from the Riott Squad. Points to WWE for trying to create some benefit of the doubt and secondary stories for the Elimination Chamber match, but the Riott Squad didn’t get any character development besides wearing different outfits when they were in their prime, so there’s not really anything to work with here beyond vague impressions of characters and support from stans who just arbitrarily decide they’re ride or die for undeveloped wrestlers. Not that I would ever do that myself. I’m a serious journalist, I’m above choosing low level wrestlers to like and supporting them forever no matter how bad they are.

The real star here is Sarah Logan, who shows up to be special guest referee looking like someone left Kristen Stewart out in the rain and getting cheers from the crowds when she just gives up and kicks both of their asses.

In other women’s division news … this match happened.

It was supposed to be Shayna Baszler vs. Asuka (“as first reported by the New York Post,” who apparently are getting Raw booking updates before Raw does now), but Asuka hurt her wrist and got replaced by Kairi Sane. That would be an awesome callback to Baszler and Sane’s epic NXT rivalry, except that (1) the announce team just broadly glosses over that for some reason, and (2) main roster Kairi Sane is a heel jobber who is more manager than anything, and wears a title belt she and her partner are probably going to keep wearing without defending until WWE realizes the Bella Twins are never actually coming back this time and abandons them. So that gives us Shayna’s normal methodical heel style getting turned into a heatless slog because nobody’s getting behind Kairi, which gets the match “this is boring” chants. And, you know, makes the match boring.

WWE Raw

And on top of all of that, Becky Lynch shows up with a completely disconnected character that looks and sounds like Elton John did too much coke and decided he was Adonis. Remember when Seth Rollins was cool and had great matches and everybody liked him, but he kinda let the hype go to his head on the show and in real life, so he started amping up the “I’M THE BEST PERSON WHO HAS EVER LIVED” stuff to an absurd degree and turned everyone against him? Yeah, Becky Lynch is doing that right now. There’s a very clear line between bad-ass WWE confidence and just mindlessly rambling about how good you are and how much everybody else sucks. Becky hated and resented Charlotte Flair so much that she became her, I guess.

All four of the NXT Four Horsewomen are now portrayed like deluded dirtbags for some reason, while Lacey Evans plays the humble everywoman who worked hard to represent the best of the sport and earn her spot as a beloved hero to the people. Fucking weird, man.

Remember that AJ Styles vs. Aleister Black match they announced and promoted for a week that got everybody excited? It’s now four segments including two Good Brothers matches and Aleister Black getting squashed so AJ Styles could continue his feuds with actor Mark Wahlberg and the 54-year old who pinned him in Saudi Arabia with one move without taking off his hat or jacket. Cool.

The Good Brothers are without a doubt my least favorite wrestlers in WWE. They wrestle like they’re only here to go through the motions for a paycheck, and at this point are just Ron and Don Harris in Bullet Club t-shirts. If I never saw them show up to lose to whoever AJ Styles is feuding with and then suddenly win one important tag team match every three months to justify their employment, I’d be a happier fan. Just the dirt worst.

And like, on paper I get what they’re doing. Styles is being a total coward and keeping us from seeing the match we wanted to see, which is heel 101, and by doing this they give Aleister Black a reason to want to kick his ass besides, “he and his friends punched me a couple of times backstage.” And if we’re building to a real Black vs. Styles match, presumably on some post-WrestleMania pay-per-view, doing the Raw match like this keeps everything they can do together in the tank. Hey, maybe they’re even going to find a way to involve Black in the Styles vs. Undertaker match at Mania so Black and The Undertaker can at least have a staredown before Taker completely falls apart. You could even run it as a triple threat match so we get some good wrestling between Undertaker nostalgia spots and don’t have to ask a decrepit NRA zombie to carry another shit-show of a marquee match this deep into his fifties. Goddamn, let the man retire already.

Still though, taken as what it is, Raw bait-and-switched us and replaced it with two O.C. matches. So … brutal.

Hahahahahhahahahaha: Spiders, Man

Last but certainly least, let’s talk about No Way Jose and his conga line that still exists for some reason finally getting to the bottom of the Erick Rowan pet mystery by asking politely. After four months of build up, a jobber getting his face eaten, Mojo Rawley being scared into silence, and numerous fan theories ranging from a Lovecraftian monster to Luke Harper’s severed head, what was Rowan’s pet?

A spider. A toy spider.

WWE

I don’t know what I expected, but I’m sincerely stunned by the second-hand embarrassment and realization that WWE clearly had no idea how to pay off the angle, and decided on this. WWE brings in horror legend Tom Savini and gets his special effects team to make Bray Wyatt a clown mask and a strap-on face belt they can charge seven stacks for on Shop, but Erick Rowan gets a $10 spider you know they ordered from Amazon on Friday afternoon. If they even did that. There’s just as good a chance they sent out a mass e-mail asking if anybody has any leftover Halloween decorations in their attic at home, and some production intern was like, “I bought a spider on clearance at Party City. It wasn’t realistic enough to scare the trick-or-treaters, you want me to bring it so you can use it as a creative payoff for fourth months of storytelling on your billion-dollar global and publicly-traded organization’s 3-hour prime-time flagship wrestling show? SURE, SOUNDS GREAT.”

A fuckin’ toy spider, man. Not even a good one. You can even see the holes in the side where the arms move up and down. This is WWE’s “Rick Steiner yells at Chucky from Child’s Play moment. Imagine if back in the Attitude Era they’d built up the identity of the Higher Power for months and then brought The Undertaker and Stone Cold Steve Austin to the ring to reveal it was a Teddy Ruxpin, Austin, it was a Teddy Ruxpin all along. Who was driving the Hummer? This Mondo Gecko action figure, isn’t that cool?

This is the kind of shit that makes wrestling more embarrassing than it has to be. You aren’t J.J. Abrams, guys, don’t create a literal Mystery Box if you don’t know where it’s going. Come up with the full idea. Why is “finish your thought” a thing fans have to type at you on wrestling blogs?

Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Week

Confused_Bobby

The sign of a great villain is when they truly believe that what they’re doing is good. Orton is top notch.

AddMayne

The Real Birdman

I haven’t seen a crowd this quiet since Ruby Riott wrestled Liv Morgan

Just when I thought Kairi vs Shayna was gonna pass the Bechdel Test…

AJ Dusman

When you’re in a match with Angel Garza, Humberto Carrillo, and Andrade…can you blame Rey Mysterio for wearing a mask?

EvilDucky

Plot twist – Randy shows up Wednesday on NXT and does commentary for the night

Mr. Bliss

So the Rowan reveal was a spider? I missed it because my prison pen pal mailed me a pair of her panties and I was enjoying alone time with them. That’s not the real reason I wasn’t watching but I wanted to think of something more embarassing than saying “I get paid to write wrestling and the best I could come up with is ‘guy carries a spider to the ring'”

Taylor Swish

Tonight’s a special occasion in Brooklyn. Barclays Center is used to seeing a Kairi not show up and compete.

Clay Quartermain

Ricochet’s main roster career is really just one of the horrific visions Prince Puma saw when he was put into the funerary box

The Voice of Raisin

If you’re thinking about skipping WrestleMania, if you’re even thinking about checking out our competition, fans, do not, because we understand that Jon Moxley, who wrestled here one time as Roman Reigns’ and Seth Rollins’ friend, just won their world title. Ha! That’s gonna put some butts in the seats, heh.

WWE

when its a spider

That’s it for this week’s Best and Worst of Raw. Comments and social media shares are deeply appreciated, and any other kind of love you’d like to show makes you a pal.

Elimination Chamber is right around the corner, so make sure you’re here for that. Maybe Rowan will visit his local toy store and then let a bunch of “spiders” loose in the chamber. Should be a fun night. See you this weekend, and next week for another bipolar edition of Monday Night Raw!

×