Previously on the Best and Worst of WWE Raw: USA Network presented the 24/7 Championship, Brock Lesnar pretended the Money in the Bank briefcase was a boombox, and we saw everything we ever wanted to see about Illumination’s® The Secret Lives Of Pets 2®.
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And now, the Best and Worst of WWE Raw for May 27, 2019.
Worst: The First Real Match Doesn’t Happen Until 1:16:24 Into The Show
Well, everyone knows Raw begins with a promo parade. What this episode presupposes is … why not make the entire Raw out of promo parade? Let’s … [deep sigh] let’s start from the beginning.
Back With Another One Of Those Brock Rockin’ Beats
This episode of Raw opens with Smackdown’s Kofi Kingston, who I guess got to the playground early and called “wild card” for the entirety of his championship run. As a quick aside, how funny is it that Raw didn’t have an active champion on the show for like two years because of Brock Lesnar’s constant absence, and then the second someone who’s actually on the show wins the Universal title, the WWE Champion wanders over and stays? Now Raw has two world championships not being defended!
Anyway, Seth Rollins interrupts Kofi, and they stand around demanding to know who Brock Lesnar is cashing in the Money in the Bank briefcase on. Apparently that’s a thing you have to formally announce now, although given Lesnar’s response to finding out he’s got an entire year to cash it in, I actually really like them knowing Brock doesn’t watch Raw and wouldn’t inherently know the rules of a thing he won.
Brock shows up having fully monetized last week’s briefly enjoyable “pretending the briefcase is a boombox” bit with a hooded (but still sleeveless) “Brock Party” t-shirt and “speakers” on the case. Only Brock Lesnar would turn a briefcase into a boombox and not know you’re supposed to listen through the speakers. They also repeatedly call it a “beatbox” instead of a boombox, as if their legendary relationship with JVC has meant nothing to them. Brock uses this as an excuse to turn into pre-Crisis Becky Lynch and drop a FESTIVE JIG on our candy asses.
Note: Raw peaks here, so you can just scroll to the top 10 comments of the week.
Seth Rollins just completely bails on the segment, which I wish more wrestlers would do. Someone in the ring “playing mind games” and trying to “build momentum” on you? Are they gonna beat you up 2-on-1 until someone makes the save for you, setting up a tag team match for later tonight? Why not just bail? You’d be saving us all a lot of trouble, and maybe Raw could finally run those regularly scheduled matches it’s been trying to promote, but can’t because the employees won’t shut the fuck up.
Dolph Tries A Blitz
Kingston sticks around for some reason to watch Lesnar strut away, leaving him open to an attack from behind from The Dread Coward Dolph Ziggler. Ziggler attacked Kingston from behind last week and demanded an opportunity against him for the WWE Championship, so this week he attacks Kingston from behind and demands an opportunity against him for the WWE Championship. Those Saudi Arabia cards aren’t going to book themselves, kids!
Xavier Woods makes the save for Ziggler and ends up getting beaten down, because Woods only seems to exist these days to get fridged by Kofi Kingston’s championship opponents. Big E tried to return from injury and was immediately fridged as well, so we can finally answer the question, “what happens if a WWE babyface wins the championship without abandoning all his friends?” They become liabilities. It’s the whole Spider-Man “with great power comes great responsibility” thing. Doc Ock is in Kofi’s house, kidnapping Kofi’s elderly aunt. Up next, he knocks Kofi’s girlfriend off the George Washington Bridge, a bridge equal to or EXCEEDING the Brooklyn Bridge!
So we’ve gotten multiple commercial breaks already, but now it’s time for Ziggler to cut a long promo explaining the very clear and easy-to-understand thing we just watched. We make a lot of jokes about Impact and the Impact Zone or whatever, but I honestly think Mike Tenay’s been writing dialogue for Raw lately. Don West could take a bite of a turkey sandwich and Tenay would’ve leaned in and shout-spoken, “DON WEST, TAKING A BITE OF SANDWICH, AND WORD FROM THE BACK IS THAT THERE WAS NONE OTHER THAN *TURKEY* INSIDE THAT SANDWICH, DON.”
They’re doing the South Park version of WWE, I guess, where wrestlers never have matches, they just do big monologues about how they were betrayed and then hit each other with chairs. Dolph spends the promo looking like a tomato Carmella’s disguised to keep it from losing the 24/7 title.
The Not-So-Great Cornholio
We’re about [checks watch] 35 minutes into the wrestling show with no wrestling in sight, so let’s check in on the “Memorial Day party” being held for like 15 random people during work hours at work and a timely cookout at 9PM. EC3 is a whole-ass mood here.
All you need to know is that whichever writer didn’t get their way last week has been put back in charge of the tag team division. For the past like, month, the feud between the two best tag teams in the promotions involved zero matches but MULTIPLE comedy bits, including tandem back-shaving and an ancient Revenge of the Nerds joke about accidentally getting Icy Hot on your junk. Everybody hated it. Last week, the two teams had a match. It was fun, and everybody liked it. So this week they’re back to arguing at a cookout and almost coming to blows over who cheated at cornhole.
It also devolves into an appearance from the 24/7 Championship, which I guess can only be defended during WWE hours? So it’s like a … 5/2 belt on most weeks, and what, 8/3 on pay-per-view nights? I know they’re eventually going to do title changes via social media and stuff, you’d just think they’d have had something happen like that in the first week to let everybody know how fun and unpredictable the new belt is. Instead, it’s a background joke in an already tired collection of background jokes and still only being competed for in backstage roll-up contests by the same handful of helpless chumps. You know what would make the Hardcore Championship more fun? If you couldn’t do anything hardcore to get it! Just surprise roll-ups!
Note: this is what they should’ve turned the Divas division into in the 2000s.
In a truly defining moment in Raw creative history, Shane McMahon makes an entrance for a match. Raw sends it to commercial, but before they can fade out, Shane just turns around and leaves. When they come back from the commercial, Shane’s in the ring (in the background, behind the announcers) with his music playing. So, of course, they send it to a completely unrelated and very long Triple H vs. Randy Orton hype video. It has absolutely nothing to do with Shane, but apparently the only way to promote a show headlined by a bunch of 50+-year olds is to say, “remember how cool they were decades ago?”
When it’s finally time for Shane, he cuts a promo shitting on Samoans for not having it together and needing his family to White Savior them. He calls out “any member of the Samoan dynasty,” which of course means it’s TIME TO GO TO COMMERCIAL AGAIN. We’re 47 minutes into the show with no matches at this point.
It’s Almost A Match!
So like 50 minutes in we finally get a jobber squash. They can’t even do that right, though, because the story is supposed to be Drew McIntyre attacking the jobber before the match, thereby leaving him helpless for Shane McMahon to pretend he won a tough fight against. Only they ring the bell as soon as they come back from commercial, McIntyre’s attack comes after the match starts, and Shane tells the timekeeper to “ring the bell” to start a match that’d already started (and should’ve technically been over via disqualification). Forced to “wrestle” for almost 90 seconds, Shane plumps up like a Ballpark Frank and does some bad strip mall jiu-jitsu to defeat the mighty “Lance Anoa’i.” Why did they do this match? Anoa’i! Because they hate us. So the first “match” isn’t really a match, but a 2-on-1 stutter-started exhibition between a 49-year old non-wrestler and a guy we’ve never seen before.
After the match, Shane starts in on Roman Reigns’ family and how they’re all common savages or whatever, and Reigns makes the save. Keep in mind that as bad as this feud is, they’re still mainlining the Shane McMahon vs. THE MIZ feud, giving us two concurrent terrible Shane plots that Shane can’t seem to stop winning easily.
Having experienced too much Wrestling Action, Raw goes to commercial again and comes back to a promo. If you’re keeping score at home, I counted it out as five commercial breaks with only 1:29 of wrestling in hour one.
Heyman, Nice Shot
That brings Lesnar and Heyman back out to announce who Lesnar’s cashing in Money in the Bank on, which is what the opening segment was supposed to be about, only they swapped who talked first and it didn’t make sense. Of course Seth Rollins interrupts Brock before he can speak, defeating the point of an announcement that was already indirectly made when the opening bit ended with Ziggler attacking Kingston and demanding a WWE Championship match at Super Showdown. But then wouldn’t Lesnar rather cash in on someone who’d just had a hard match, instead of announcing intentions on a fresh opponent later? He really doesn’t know how this works, does he?
In another brief highlight — Lesnar and Heyman’s buddy-boss relationship is hilarious and wonderful, as Lesnar is one of the best workers and most consistent characters in wrestling history, don’t @ me — Lesnar finds out that he’s got an entire YEAR to cash in and goes full Skipper on Gilligan, swatting Paul in the face with the contract.
Lesnar says “screw you” and bails. This is followed by some more 24/7 nonsense, with R-Truth avoiding having to fight wrestlers in a ring by … going to the wrestling event, hanging around backstage among a bunch of wrestlers, and then running into a wrestling ring while the show’s going on. You’ve still got to wonder why anyone would want to hold a championship that causes them to always be in danger and never wrestle.
Wait, I Want To Hear What AJ Styles Thinks A Doctor Said
We STILL don’t go to a match 10 minutes into hour two, instead throwing it backstage to Charly Caruso with a medical update about AJ Styles. Styles is injured, so he’s been replaced in tonight’s fatal four-way match by Baron Corbin. Styles is then attacked by Baron Corbin. You’re not reading that wrong. Honestly, that might be the most inept 60 seconds of storytelling of the entire night, which is saying something. It’s this week’s equivalent of watching Alexa Bliss talk to Nikki Cross, and then starting the next segment with Cross walking up to Bliss and saying “hi, you wanted to talk to me?”
Also, this is a total nitpick, but I love that Corbin sneaks up on Styles from inside the room. The door is behind Styles in the shot and never opens, and we don’t hear any OTHER doors open, but 6-foot-8-ass Baron Corbin is able to pop in from magical oblivion and sneak attack Styles. Literally how? is the Local Medical Professional’s office set up in the hallway? Was everyone just so captivated by Styles’ elocution that they couldn’t see a seven-foot tall Friday’s host barging in?
Raw, Like A Thorn In My Eye
ANYWAY, to recap, it took over one hour and 16 minutes to:
- build a WWE Championship match by having the guy who attacked the champion and wanted a match last week attack the champion and want a match this week
- build a Universal Championship match by having the champion walk out on the challenger, then have the challenger get bored and walk out on the champion
- put over the idea that an old, unhealthy non-wrestler could probably win a match over a bad wrestler if he had a 2-on-1 advantage
- hold a Memorial Day block party in a parking lot behind an arena, and not on a block
- watch a man run around the building while desperately trying not to wrestle
- have a guy replace an injured wrestler in a match, then beat up the injured guy again anyway
- air six commercial breaks
- put on zero actual wrestling matches
It’s finally time to start the wrestling matches. THIS part won’t disappoint me!
Becky Lynch Has Pinned The Raw (?) Women’s Tag Team Champions!
Last week, Becky Lynch pinned one of the Women’s Tag Team Champions to win a 3-on-2 handicap match. The champions were upset and demanded a rematch, which they get. Becky Lynch pins the other half of the Women’s Tag Team Champions with a move we’ve never even seen her use before, a Rock Bottom, and that’s [checks notes] infinity straight losses for the champions. Also, they’re identified in their match graphic as the “Raw Women’s Tag Team Champions,” so even the words on the belts have been demoted.
Look, there are good things to see here. The IIconics are delightful no matter what, it’s the first actual wrestling match on the show even if it’s a bad one, and Celtic Cross are a pretty fun tag team, especially if you pretend they’re Sansa and Arya Stark. But the Women’s Tag Team Champions should probably be able to win a match against somebody sometime, right? So far the championship has existed for like four months and WWE’s annoyed the first champ out of the company and turned the second champs into losers. Why, exactly? To put over the singles champion, because you only have one tag team and they’re already champs?
Best! Cesaro Vs. Ricochet, Again!
The highlight of last week’s show was Ricochet vs. Cesaro. The highlight of this week’s show is Ricochet vs. Cesaro, because this awkward summer while we wait for Smackdown to go to Fox and AEW to pop up on TNT has got WWE booking like in 2K Universe Mode.
It’s good, but not as good as last week, because it feels a lot like that brief moment when you wake up to take a piss during eight hours of nightmares. Ricochet wins to put them 1-1, and now we can do a fun, competitive, and much longer rubber match on a … pay-per-view pre-show. I was gonna say “pay-per-view” but my optimism broke mid-sentence. Maybe I can not watch it while it’s happening during daylight hours in Jeddah, or whatever.
Sorry. SORRY. Here, this was pretty awesome, even if it didn’t make a goddamn lick of sense and looks like one of those swing set memes where kids jump off the swing and then play it in reverse:
Happy Memorial Day, By The Way
The United States Of America’s® Memorial Day™, brought to you by Illumination’s® The Secret Life Of Pets 2®, in theaters June 7.
Worst: Yes, Bray, We’re All In Limbo
- Firefly Funhouse ran out of budget, so now his mask is a magic marker drawing on a paper plate
- That’s not how limbo works. You can’t just crawl under it. You should be disqualified from the limbo game.
Worst: How About That Baron Corbin Match, Though?
He wins it! He’s going to face Seth Rollins for the Universal Championship in Saudi Arabia! Aren’t you VERY EXCITING?
Three notes about this one:
- It really takes the drama out of your match’s “who will face the champion at Super Showdown” when you’ve already announced two of the competitors (Lashley and Strowman) are facing each other one-on-one at Super Showdown
- Structurally this is the same match as the women’s fatal four-way from Double or Nothing, with Lashley and Strowman as Aja Kong and Nyla Rose, and Corbin and Miz as Britt Baker and Kylie Rae, only not entertaining
- Wasn’t this supposed to be an elimination match? I guess the idea is that Strowman and Lashley got counted out for fighting on the floor, but the referee never actually appeared to count them out, so it’s fine, we’re just gonna go with it
Worst: Lethal Injection Wrestling
Here’s 20 minutes of Seth Rollins vs. Sami Zayn in the main event, which you’d have to be nigh superhuman to react to after the first 2 hours and 40 minutes of Raw. It also probably would’ve carried a lot more weight and drama if you’d built up Zayn as a viable title challenger and/or didn’t spend the past few weeks literally throwing him in the garbage, having him lose easily to Braun Strowman, and then lose again to the WWE Champion on Tuesday.
Also if you hadn’t had him guest in “The Electric Chair.”
Before the match, Raw attempts to bring back the ill-fated and horribly received Alexa Bliss “town hall” segments as Corey Graves new talk show The Electric Chair. It’s just like the town hall with the Superstar sitting in a chair answering bad fan questions from crowd plants, only now instead of sitting on a stool they’re sitting in an electric chair. If he doesn’t answer the questions, does he die in the electric chair? I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more apt metaphor for the WWE/fan experience than two minutes of wrestling fan interaction making you volunteer to kill yourself.
The thing people are going to be talking about here are the SHOOTS~, with Zayn mentioning the real-life Becky Lynch and Seth Rollins relationship that WWE is just dying to milk for all its worth, and namedroping AEW. The current speculation is that Zayn improvised the line and that it wasn’t scripted, which … I’m not trying to be a smark know-it-all or anything, but asking “was this a work?” feels like asking if Dolph Ziggler’s attack on Kofi Kingston was “a work.” It’s WWE trying to control the narrative, like when Zack Ryder suddenly blows up in popularity on the Internet and John Cena sidles up to him like, “we’re best friends, right,” and then a few months later nobody gives a shit about Zack Ryder. Whether it works or not remains to be seen, but I know I’d rather see more awesome tag team matches and southern wrestling pathos than Hall of Fame “pissant” jokes and reciporatory throne smashing.
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Week
The Real Birdman
WWE Presents: Double The Nothing
Booker T: We’re ready for war!
RAW: i’ve got bone spurs
By my count, Cesaro and Ricochet are now 4 matches away from becoming tag team partners
Backstage producer: we are getting killed on social media vince.
Vince: GIVE THEM TAMINA
Charly: “Shane, I heard you’re competing tonight… for the love of God, why?”
When do we get to start rumors that Cody Rhodes sent Vince McMahon to be a mole to destroy the competition from the inside?
Does anyone watch any of the USA Network shows? Do they interrupt the most dramatic scenes with WWE commercials? Just curious.
I have a question, Sami: “How do you feel about your employer putting on a show in a country that would want to kill you on sight if you attended?”
Guys, what if this Raw is orchestrated by Bray as a kind of psychological torture to break down our defenses until we’re so upset we let him in because it sounds like a better alternative?
It seems that WWE & Donald Trump have the same policy towards Saudi Arabia:
- say the people are actually in charge
- initiate a deal with the country
- declare the deal under executive privilege & outside the people’s purview
- deny where the deal is taking place on TV at every opportunity
The only thing missing is the State Department charging $9.99/month to watch the Yemeni Civil War.
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