Previously on the Best and Worst of WWE Raw: Lana and Bobby Lashley got arrested because Rusev violated a restraining order in Tennessee, where they “do things differently.” Now it’s up to Lana’s hot, hot boyfriend to finish Rusev off. Nonsensical and sexy? brb moving to The Great State Of Tennessee.
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And now, the Best and Worst of WWE Raw for December 9, 2019.
Worst: Ode To Divorce
Raw opens with Lana and Rusev signing their divorce papers on live television so WWE could have another YouTube video that randomly does eight million views. It’s a shame to see a couple that got married on Total Divas and had a wedding reception on Raw get divorced in such a pubic setting. They request privacy in this difficult time.
Honestly, it’s a great microcosm of everything Lana and Rusev have been about so far in WWE. Rusev shows up to get divorced in the opening segment of a wrestling show on live TV with his entrance music and a Donald Duck t-shirt, putting his feet up on the table like he’s Parker Lewis and can’t lose, and looking like he couldn’t barely give a shit. Meanwhile Lana’s doing that high volume monotone shout she does to recap everything that’s ever happened to anybody anywhere ever before bursting into weird little bubbles of emotion. Like, at one point she literally drops to her knees and does one of those “NOOOOOO” screams to the Heavens you see in movies because Rusev … liked his own popular catchphrase? And he should’ve only ever liked his wife? I don’t know, man, this is the kind of writing you get when you’re asking people who’ve already been through years of some of the worst content in the history of cable television to pretend like they’re seriously getting divorced over Bobby Lashley.
To clarify, Rusev is good here. He’s Rusev. He could show up with a dildo fastened to the top of his head like Choda Boy and fans would try to cheer him about it. To Lana’s credit, she’s extremely not qualified to be delivering Marriage Story monologues written for and corrected by a 74-year old man 20 minutes before air.
My Man Bobby shows up and ends up getting put through a table, and some intern at World Undisclosed W-Word Entertainment keeps refreshing their YouTube channel and getting shocked that it won’t stop going up. Who knew that an extremely low-rent soap opera with beautiful people acting badly would do well among people who’ve been trained to have low standards for the past 15 years?
Best: Alpha Oscar Papa
That opening segment was a breath of fresh toilet air, but here’s some good news: I thought a majority of the rest of Raw was pretty okay! Even the A-story!
The main story of the episode — which earns points for actually happening and progressing throughout the episode, instead of just happening in one quarter-hour segment and then not affecting the rest of the night … Kevin Owens being dragged to the back by AOP last week and everyone immediately forgetting about it, I’m looking in your direction — is that Kevin Owens isn’t an idiot. That’s it, that’s the story. It’s VALUABLE, man. He shows up looking to kick the Authors of Pains’ asses, enlists the help of Rey Mysterio’s Poster Tube of Doom, and goes hunting. He runs into Purple Cobras member Mojo Rawley, now sans face paint as I guess he’s free of the gimmick they were never gonna let be on television, who gets slapped in the face for not being helpful. Mojo shows up again later in the night demanding an apology and gets the shit beaten out of him again, which you can see above. Even a random cameo from Sami Zayn couldn’t save that. That’s how bad Sami’s situation is right now, folks; we couldn’t even get excited for him to run into Kevin Owens again, and even Owens didn’t seem like he cared. Let’s hope Sami uses the WILD CARD rule next week and continues that story.
But yeah, no, the gist is that Owens knows Seth Rollins is completely full of shit and is IN CAHOOTS~ with the AOP. Rollins keeps trying to “nyeahh I don’t know man” him about it, but Owens has watched wrestling before, keeps up with Raw, and knows what a garbage person Rollins is. He sticks to his understanding of fact whether the obvious heel is telling him to be a sucker about it or not.
When AOP make their presence known but refuse to wander out and brawl with Owens and Rowdy Roddy Pipe, Owens goes looking for them. He goes full WCW on their car, but gets jumped from behind and beaten down thanks to AOP’s 2-on-1 advantage and their utilization of pro wrestling’s deadliest weapon, the BACKSTAGE CLANGY POLES. At this point we get the dramatic reveal of (gasp) SETH ROLLINS, who has been (GASP) working with AOP! GASPS!
The big super villain reveal is stupid obvious, but here’s the thing: that’s good. Sometimes the obvious and logical conclusion is the right call. It validates the past couple of weeks of the guy you’re supposed to like and identify with, Kevin Owens, understanding a situation to be true. It’s a lot like when Stone Cold Steve Austin was getting jerked around by Kane and the Undertaker and their “cahoots” back in the day and was a victim of it, sure, but maintained some kind of credibility and integrity because he knew it was happening. He wasn’t a total idiot who was shocked by every turn of the story. He was just forced to handle it. That’s a thing everyone goes through in real life, you know? Knowing people are jerking you around and having to live with it.
Rollins burns his sinuses down screaming a promo through his nose at the WWE Universe afterward, blaming each and every one of them for what happened. He claims he wasn’t actually in cahoots with AOP, but now he is, because the crowd’s negativity forced him to retreat back into his own psyche and take the low road. It works, because whether it’s actually true or not, you can believe Rollins believes it … or, at least, that he’s convinced himself that it’s true, and will be his story going forward. It also works because Akam and Rezar are the Authors of Pain, and no author creates more pain than Seth Rollins logging onto Twitter.
So now the stage is set. You’ve got a heel that’s increasingly hated for in-universe and gently out-of-universe reasons who believes he’s been betrayed for his efforts and is totally in the right, backed by monster muscle, going up against an “everyman” character who watches and loves the show but gets frustrated by all the same soap opera bullshit as (some of) the fans. It’s a reformed heel who failed against a reformed heel who’s still trying to make it work. A guy riddle with self-delusion and dishonesty against one of the worst-ever people in the WWE world, who is finding his place due to his unyielding honesty.
And hey, you’ve even got some possibly interesting side stories to tell, like Sami Zayn creeping around trying to will Kevin back over to his warped perception of the “dark side,” where you say things that are good for humanity and the profession at large but get booed because you’re mean about saying them. Maybe we’ll get lucky and they’ll add Zayn to Rollins and AOP’s team so Rollins can stop cutting promos! Is Santa Claus real enough for us to get that Christmas wish?
Best: Tea-Generation X Reunited
Here’s another example of a story where yeah, I wouldn’t have chosen to tell it this way, but it improves upon Raw’s regular weekly content by having a beginning, a middle, and an end.
On last week’s show, Charlotte Flair got a wild hair up her butt about being able to beat the Women’s Tag Team Champions by herself and ended up losing a 2-on-1 handicap match. This week, she approaches Becky Lynch backstage and is like, “hey, I hate your guts and all, but I trust you and you’re tough, wanna team up with me and beat the Kabuki Warriors?” Lynch, being Lynch, seeing Flair, who is Flair, refuses. This sets up Becky getting her own 2-on-1 shot against the champs. She manages to win, technically, but only by disqualification when Asuka hits her with a chair and Kairi Sane puts her through a table with an Insane Elbow.
Afterward, Flair lurks around to offer Lynch a bag of ice and passive-aggressively be like, “see.” As she’s leaving, she gets jumped by the Kabuki Warriors, drunk on power and (presumably) green head-liquid. Bonus points for Charly Caruso’s read on the situation being, “clearly I need to learn more languages if I’m going to be good at my job,” instead of just staring at them like she didn’t expect them to speak Japanese at her.
Having both sort of realized their hubris, Lynch and Flair are ultimately like, “all right, let’s put our bullshit aside and team up to fight the Kabuki Warriors 2-on-2 at TLC in a match where we can hit them with tables and chairs and probably also ladders. And thus, a TLC match between the Kabukis and Nature Man is signed, and the prophecy of the leaked venue card from last month is fulfilled. See how much better it is to show your work and actually tell a story with your characters and TV time instead of just randomly pairing up enemies, asking us to accept it, and blowing it off all in the same segment?
Best: North Carrillo
The best match of the night, and the best match on Raw in a hot minute, was Andrade vs. Humberto Carrillo. It’s like the finally realized the way to get Carrillo over with crowds is to have him have competitive matches against people the crowd doesn’t cheer, and, you know, having him win some of them. It doesn’t help when that person who doesn’t get cheered is Andrade, one of the best workers on the goddamn Earth, who wrestles in a natural lucha libre style that is WILDLY COMPATIBLE with your up-and-coming babyface. Sure, AJ Styles is a great wrestler, but he’s not gonna have the same kind of match with Carrillo that Andrade is, especially not if you give them free rein for 11 minutes of balls-out cruiserweight action. Your high flying and creative guy should be flying high and being creative, not just always sitting on his butt in the middle of the ring getting chinlocked trying to build up momentum and support that isn’t happening for a comeback nobody’s really invested in seeing.
I also really liked that Zelina Vega and Andrade’s cohesive cheating finally blew up in their faces and cost them a match. That should happen sometimes, otherwise there’s no “will this work or won’t it” drama when they go for it. I’m going to assume the post-match arguing is based on two unlikable people being mad at each other for the failure that just happened, and not some kind of preemptive clue that Raw’s going to break them up. That stuff scares me a lot sometimes. They’ve trained us to think that any miscommunication or animosity is going to lead to betrayal and embarrassment. Maybe it’s just society doing that to us?
Anyway, literally my only complaint is that the Aztec Press is a dumb ass wrestling move. You aren’t gonna beat anybody with a gentle, awkward splash to their shins. It’s like, the opposite of momentum. Jumping straight up and falling straight down increases damage and accuracy by 100%. The Aztec Press makes Starship Pain look like a Burning Hammer. It makes Dean Ambrose’s suicide dive look like King Cuerno’s. Just give Berto a big pretty moonsault or something and call it a day.
Best/Worst: AW NUTS FANS WE’RE OUT OF TIME
Speaking of both AJ Styles and lucha libre, the main event of the night is a perfectly enjoyable-for-the-most-part United States Championship rematch betwen Styles and Rey Mysterio. If you ever needed an example of how a finish is the most important part of any wrestling match, here you go. Two of the best talents of a generation are going at it for a championship in the main event of WWE’s flagship show, and all anybody’s gonna remember about it (besides maybe, “why did they both decide to dress in bright red”) is (1) the botchy as hell finish that (2) ruined the timing of the main event and sent the show off the air the second the three count happened. They were hustling to get to that three.
In case you missed it, Styles is supposed to counter a hurricanrana attempt out of the corner into a second-rope Styles Clash. He’s done it plenty of times, and it always looks great. Something goes wrong here, though, and they end up in what could generously be called an, “awkward situation.” Shit happens.
So that leaves us with a bummer of a finish where they have to kinda re-do the spot as a normal Styles Clash, Randy Orton slides in to do nothing (which I suppose was suppose to happen to break up the Clash off the ropes), and Raw practically goes off the air in the middle of a small package. I’m not asking for the return of the overrun, but if something bad happens in the closing moments of your main, the Modern Family rerun from 2010 can probably wait 30 seconds.
This Week In Squashes
The Viking Raiders, who appear to be the top two contestants in a Triple H lookalike and impersonation contest, lay out an open challenge for the Raw locker room. I guess they couldn’t find two random dudes off the street to dress like superheroes and call the MATCHMEN. In a nice bit of continuity (in my head), the challenge is immediately answered by the Street Profits, the team that desperately tried t get over on the Raiders before they left NXT.
It’s honestly pretty depressing to know the Street Profits can’t even last three minutes with the Viking Raiders on Raw, but … well, it’s a good three minutes. They do the super hot opening sequence they did in NXT to complete silence, which I think is more of a criticism of Viking Raiders matches than the Profits themselves. This is the team that trounced nothing but jobbers so long they had the crowd chanting, “no one’s watching,” at them last week.
The best of the squashes is probably Aleister Black’s win over Akira Tozawa. Tozawa’s still the go-to man for violent and humiliating losses across all three brands right now. Black looked amazing here, due in part to Tozawa willingly eating the entirety of his most violent offense. In a related note that I have literally nothing to say about, upcoming Aleister Black opponent Buddy Murphy gets his own, less impressive squash win against Zack Ryder. Remember when Zack Ryder was a thing?
I hope they use TLC’s small announced card and complete fan disinterest to their advantage and give Black and Murphy all the time they want on Sunday. Make yourselves stars. Nobody’s gonna do it for you.
The best JOBBER, however, is this random guy who tries to defeat Erick Rowan by grabbing his mysterious crawfish cage, sprinting up the ramp with it, depositing it on the stage, and then sprinting back to the ring in a semi-circle to avoid Rowan and try to get him counted out. I see you, smart jobber. It didn’t work, of course, but I think they should sign a rematch. This time when you get the cage to the top of the ramp, chuck it off the stage. It’s his fault for bringing a mysterious pet to the ring. Bring a bag of snakes to the ring over and over and eventually a big fat guy’s gonna sit on it, you know?
Also Of Note:
The Street Profits’ normal “stand backstage and scream at the camera about Raw” bit is now a Weekend Update parody with constant, horrific canned laughter behind it. I think this concept could be good, honestly, if (1) it wasn’t a terrible parody of an already existing thing, especially not an already existing thing you regularly work with — what, are you gonna feud the Profits with Michael Che and Colin Jost? — (2) if the jokes were better, i.e. not written by a dying old man with no sense of humor, or if (3) you had them acutally do it live in front an audience instead of alongside a laugh track that would embarrass the cast of The Big Bang Theory. Although I guess if a crowd won’t pop for Montez Ford’s frog splash, they aren’t gonna laugh at him saying he’s got a bigger dick than Baron Corbin.
Finally, because it worked so well the first time,
Maybe we’ll get lucky and she’ll debut as a dancing dinosaur.
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Week
Of course Seth was aligned with AOP. It was so obvious it was practically Akam’s rezar.
Well, that segment was exactly like SNL in that there was tons of talent and promise that ended up being poorly utilized and not funny.
I’m enjoying Charly’s new character of confused United Nations intern.
The Real Birdman
Monday Night Raw: *Exists*
With Spandex Comment Section:
The real Author of Pain is Vince McMahon
God, would have given anything for that to have been Sami Zayn under the hood in the back of the van. Would have at least been interesting.
“Never insult a man’s family, Joe.”
Somewhere, Wendy cries.
Now i need to know how the Elon Musk Cybertruck can hold up against clangy poles.
Baron Von Raschke
Seth (All Nasally): It was Me, Kev! It was meeee allllll allloooonnnnnnnnng!
At least THIS wasn’t our lives
—Alexa Bliss, Bayley and Bayley’s childhood friends
Can you believe they left Roman Reigns chained up all week?
Thanks as always for checking out the Best and Worst of Raw. Jerry Lawler’s Divorce Court aside, this week’s show felt like an improvement over last week’s existential nightmare. Join us in, let’s say, late January for the next good episode of Raw.
Until then, drop down into our comments section below and let us know what you thought of the show, and give us a share on your Facebook or Twitter or TikTok or whatever to help us out. We’ll be here this weekend for full TLC coverage, so make sure you’re here to see if they can pull a full card out of their asses in time! See you then!