Previously on the Best and Worst of Raw: Randy Orton says it best when he says nothing at all. Plus Asuka wants another shot at the Raw Women’s Championship, Ricochet is headed to Saudi Arabia to get hurled backwards into the Persian Gulf, and Ruby Riott is back, but evil. Well, evil-er.
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 In Your House: Blood Money V!
And now, the Best and Worst of WWE Raw for February 10, 2020.
Best: 19 More Minutes Of Becky Lynch Vs. Asuka
It’s hard to talk about this match without immediately jumping to the post-match stuff, but I’ll do my best.
Becky Lynch vs. Asuka couldn’t be bad if it tried. Their match at the 2019 Royal Rumble was a banger, their 2020 Royal Rumble rematch was almost as good, and last night’s Raw gave them almost 20 minutes in that same ballpark. I typed that and realized the first two matches were in literal ballparks, but you know what I’m saying.
I think Lynch and Asuka work well together because they fill in some of the gaps of their respective WWE main roster characterizations. Asuka made her (WWE) name being the most dominant champion in NXT history, but eventually suffered the same “lose to distraction roll-ups in 2:30 on Smackdown” fate as most female Superstars. Lynch, even though she’s now 2-1 against Asuka, makes her feel important in the ring and reminds fans that she should be seen as the deadliest of top-level threats, even when she’s slumming it in the non-existent women’s tag team division. Lynch spent most of her WWE career and the upswing of her rise to fame being an underdog, but when she became “The Man,” per persona immediately shifted to one of overwhelming self-confidence, even to the detriment of some of her rivalries. With Asuka, Lynch (the character) feels challenged. She takes it seriously. She started puffing up her chest last week and talking about her “super powers,” but you know deep down she accepted the rematch on Raw not so much to show off, but to confirm the point she proved to herself at the Royal Rumble.
But you don’t really even need to know or observe any of that to enjoy the match. This is the women’s wrestling WWE shouldn’t be so afraid to keep doing. They let Becky and sometimes Charlotte do these big, competitive high-teens-time matches as a showcase, but then folks like Bayley get stuck doing 11 minute versions of matches booked like they should’ve gone three. Everyone else gets the same 2:30 they used to. So even though we’re apparently on the other side of the Women’s Evolution, matches like this played as the equal of and even superior to their male counterparts are key to keeping dipshit guys with their “becky lynch is the worst wrestler god so boring” comments to a minority and a minimum.
Anyway, Becky Lynch wins, and no amount of me trying to dissect the match will keep me from writing about what happened afterward. [deep yoga breath]
LOL What: Baby Now We’ve Got Bad Blood
So … Shayna Baszler is a vampire now. Or something. I’m not totally sure. She shows up after the match and attacks Lynch, and you think she’s gonna do the thing where she puts on the Kirifuda Clutch and refuses to let it go until whomever she’s attacking passes out. The Shotzi Blackheart Special. But then she lets go of the hold, removes her mouth guard, and bites Becky in the neck. When she pulls back, the entire lower half of her face is covered in what can only be described as comically fake blood. Apparently nobody at WWE’s ever made a horror movie and learned you’ve gotta put a drop of blue food coloring in with all the red to make it look darker and more realistic. Otherwise it looks like you’ve smeared marinara sauce all over your face.
This is what human blood looks like when it’s exposed to oxygen. This looks like Shayna ate a crayon. The YouTube version up there actually looks better than what aired on live TV, because the black and white filter hides some of the low rent special effects. It’s like when they released The Mist on DVD with a special black and white edit that improved the B-movie aesthetic and made the bad CGI parts look better.
I actually though the attack on Becky worked, bad blood aside, but the post-match stuff put it into a really unfortunate modern WWE kind of context. Instead of just having Becky sell the injury and leave it up to our imaginations until the next show — you know, to make Baszler seem like an actual threat who did something heinous to the popular champion — they do too many followup segments to establish that Becky’s basically fine, even though we just watched her get a goddamn chunk of her neck bitten off. Like, I know you want Lynch to seem tough, but even Stone Cold Steve Austin took a few weeks off to sell almost being embalmed and buried.
The stuff at ringside is pretty good, with Lynch yelling things like THAT BITCH BIT ME and being in shock. The well-meaning EMTs try to get her to the ambulance and take her to the hospital (again, because PART OF HER NECK IS MISSING and she is COVERED IN BLOOD), but she shoves them, pushes them around, and steals their ambulance. The funny part is that she doesn’t want to go to the hospital and says she’s fine and beats them up, but then just gets in the ambulance and goes to the hospital by herself. There’s something super funny about a hard-ass refusing medial help and then revealing they just don’t like riding in the backseat.
She then drives the ambulance back to the arena, which is one of those things they actually do a lot in the spirit of making characters look tough but falls apart if you think about it for a few seconds. They “numbed her up real good” for the pain, so what, she then beat them up, went back out into the parking lot to find that same ambulance, beat up whoever was in it, and then drove it back to the wrestling show with the sirens on? Ambulances are a one way trip. You don’t check out of the hospital and have someone race you back home in a blaring ambulance.
But it is what it is, and Lynch is back and she’s not hurt, actually she’s laughing! “Now I’m back on Raw ready to smash your face in. Where are ya, huh? Where are ya?” I dunno Beck, she probably went home. She attacked you and tore out your throat with her teeth like she’s Tormund fucking Giantsbane, do you think she went to the back and got some catering and took a shower?
I’m very critical of all of this, but I think that it could work really well with some minor tweaks.
- work on the look of that blood so it doesn’t look so Halloween Express
- have Becky actually sell the injury for a minute, because you’ve got several weeks between now and WrestleMania, and nobody’s going to think she’s a wimp for going to the hospital after being embraced by the vampire
- better yet, you could’ve had Shayna make an appearance at TakeOver Portland on Sunday and had Becky return then for a big shocking and cool moment everybody would be talking about, to further tie the brand histories together (in the footsteps of Charlotte Flair showing up last Wednesday)
- BETTER YET, you could’ve just played up a bad-ass wrestler who is friends with Ronda Rousey and has a legitimate MMA background against the bad-ass wrestler who ousted Rona Rousey from the company, only this time the MMA fighter she’s trying to oust is also a proven, veteran, champion professional wrestler who has already kicked the crap out of a lot of people you work with
- alternatively, fuck it, make Shayna Baszler a vampire. Give her a big cape and have her escape submission holds by transforming into mist. Give me a followup segment where Edge and Christian confront her backstage and recommend a good vampirism recovery group.
What else happened on this Raw? Something else had to have happened on this Raw.
Best/Worst: The Babyfaces Are Still Dorks Who Can’t Win Anything
The show opens in an extremely Smackdown kind of way: with a team cutting a promo, being interrupted by another team, getting into a big brawl, and having an eight-man tag team match announced even though an eight-man tag team match was already announced on the website and social media earlier in the day. One of the minor changes I’d make to WWE storytelling if I had any influence whatsoever would be for someone to remember you can’t “set up” something you’ve already announced. It’s a waste of your time and ours. Either announce the match and then do the match, or DON’T announce the match and do the set-up. If you announce it ahead of time and then pretend like it wasn’t gonna happen until this impromptu brawl broke out, you’re purposefully undermining our experience. Go full “Raw is a TV show and here’s what you’re gonna see it on it this week,” or full “the show and the website are the same tone so when you’re on the website you’re consciously agreeing to participate in the universe and pretend it’s real for entertainment.” You’ve gotta stop clinging to do both, and half-assedly clinging to old-timey ideas of kayfabe in a world of brand obsession, social media, and 10-20 hours of WWE programming a week. Do you know how hard it is to explain to non-WWE fans that we know these are actors doing a performance but pretend they’re real cartoon characters in a legitimate sport with no rules or internal logic and it’s still somehow gauche to refer to them by their real names, even when you meet them in real life in a non-wrestling setting? It’s not like Andrew Lincoln’s at Comic-Con getting pissed at you if you don’t call him Rick.
We surprisingly set up an eight-man tag team match that had already been announced. That’s what I was trying to say. Shout-out to Seth Rollins for knowing Samoa Joe was also on Kevin Owens and the Viking Raiders’ team and somehow expecting him to just hang out in the back while they did this 4-on-3 attack.
The main event is a lot of fun, and continued the ongoing narrative that Seth Rollins is a delusional piece of human garbage but also the only guy who seems like he knows how the show operates, so he wins all the time. So he’s not actually that delusional, it just sounds like he is, because he went from “I’m the best guy here” to “I’m literally the Jesus Christ of pretending to fight for entertainment.”
While we’re aimlessly nit-picking everything to shit, let’s talk about the finish. Samoa Joe has Buddy Murphy in the Coquina Clutch. AOP’s trying to get into the ring to break it up, and the referee’s in their face about it for some reason. That allows Seth Rollins to sneak in behind the referee’s back, Curb Stomp Joe while he’s still mid-Clutch, and effectively win the match for his team. The announce team is like OH MY GOD GIVE ME A BREAK, CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS HAPPENED, because they’re tasked with selling this as a dastardly act. Except … like … it’s an eight-man tag team match. When was the last time you saw a four-or-more-person match in a post-Dragon-Gate-in-ROH world where the match didn’t “break down” and involve everyone running around doing moves to each other? In this very video, the Viking Raiders get into the ring to help Samoa Joe do a three-person dive to the floor. The only difference between that and Rollins Stomping Joe while Joe was choking Murphy is that you’re supposed to like one team and not like they other. Objectively, that’s how these matches work.
Like I said, Seth Rollins is a terrible person, mostly because he understands how this wrestling promotion with no consistent rules or consequences works and exploits that for professional gain. He’s an asshole, sure, but he’s just paying attention.
Best: Drew McIntyre Is Smart And Tough
Montel Vontavious Porter, despite having only just returned to WWE after a decade-long absence to be a nostalgia pop in the Royal Rumble and lose to Rey Mysterio on Raw, decides now would be a good time to bring back his talk show segment and tell the extremely tall, extremely strong, extremely handsome, extremely dominant Royal Rumble winner who challenged Brock Lesnar to a WrestleMania match that he needs MVP to be his manager right now or else. It’s not the smartest decision he could’ve made. A lot has changed since this:
McIntyre currently has all of his stats maxed out, so he just kinda plays around with MVP’s more egotistical boast and demands in favor of goofing on the WrestleMania sign and wallowing in his sudden, intense popularity. Knowing he’s not being taken seriously, MVP puts his hands on Drew, and Drew Claymore Kicks his ass into the furniture like he’s Tom Hanks backhanding Michael J. Fox.
it’s a simple, effective segment that reminds us how valuable MVP is on the microphone, and how impossible it is to see Drew McIntyre as anything but a big, bright, shining star.
(Not going to link to that reference.)
Worst: Drew McIntyre Has Never Played Basketball In His Life
Best: Matt, We Hardy Knew Ye
In case I haven’t made it clear already, I’m extremely into a completely disinterested 39-year old Randy Orton killing an entirely new generation of legends. I’m also into him reviving his “… dive” persona by systematically ending the careers of everyone associated with popularizing table and ladder matches. First he assassinated Edge on his first Monday night back from retirement, and now he’s helping WWE write Matt Hardy off the show forever. If Jeff shows up just to get murdered as well, I wouldn’t be surprised. I hope he invades the Elimination Chamber kickoff show and punts Christian just to make sure.
This is, for all intents and purposes, Matt Hardy’s goodbye to WWE. His contract is set to expire on March 1 and he tweeted “goodbye” after the segment, so despite some reports of attempts at a contract negotiation, it looks like he’s on his way out. If this IS it, there’s no better “full circle” moment than having him show up in his classic New Brood raver gear from Gadzooks, talk about his complicated relationship with Edge and what happened with Lita, and bring it back to how much he loves professional wrestling, and how lost he would’ve been without it. It’s really great work from a guy who has done more good work than bad his entire career despite living in the relative shadow of his inexplicably popular younger brother, yet still bringing along and caring for Jeff, for better or worse, every step of the way. I see you, Matt Hardy. Thanks for what you did, from influencing generations of young stars and revolutionizing the business to farting around in your backyard with fireworks, drones, and dilapidated boats.
Best: Making Ricochet Legit
One of the most surprisingly positive decisions of a generally pretty good Raw was having Ricochet add some legitimacy to the idea that he could “beat Brock Lesnar” at Super Showdown by giving him a competitive, clean win against against the vaguely Brock Lesnar-like Bobby Lashley. Nobody on earth thinks Ricochet’s going to beat Brock no matter how much you talk about “smaller opponents giving Brock trouble” — the “give him trouble,” sure, but outside of Seth Rollins none of them have actually beaten him — but since you’ve booked it, it’s worth it to do that work nonetheless. As an added bonus, it’s Lashley’s best singles match in a long ass time. Probably the best he’s looked since he briefly feuded with Roman Reigns, because he’s being asked to wrestle an actual match instead of meandering around in the ring for five minutes every few weeks to justify a cuckold marriage story swallowing four months of WWE TV.
I still think it would be funny if they put Ricochet over Lesnar and made Ricochet vs. Drew McIntyre the WrestleMania main event. Especially if Goldberg also squashed The Fiend on that show and got a WrestleMania main event of his own. Give me nihilistic-ass Tampa Bay WrestleMania, where Kairi Sane spends the entire show on the pirate ship but nobody can see her, and the camera never cuts to her.
It wasn’t actually on the show, but I wanted to share this Dot Com Exclusive of Bobby Lashley getting his heat back by emasculating Jean Baptiste from Glee. Counting Shayna Baszler, this is two Throat Explosions on the same Raw.
Also On This Episode: SQUASHES
WWE sure does hate Mojo Rawley for some reason. They abandoned his team with Zack Ryder and broke them up with the intention to feud them and then also just kind of abandoned that, so Mojo did awesome homemade promos and got people talking. They dropped that to make him a weird mirror guy, and he did the best work he could with the total non-starter of a gimmick they gave him. When they put him in the 24/7 division, he tried to make it his own and do something different with it. And when they built his one major professional WWE accomplishment around his real-life friendship with Rob Gronkowski, Mojo figuratively and literally played ball.
On Raw, they:
- have the Street Profits make fun of him for “riding Rob Gronkowski’s coattails,” even though I’m guessing that’s more of WWE problem than anything Mojo’s doing
- have him lose a 45 second squash, which he wrestled about 5 seconds of
- then have the jobber they saddled him with (who was a jobber in NXT, and even a jobber in Performance Center-level developmental) who just lost the 45 second squash in humiliating fashion pin him and win the 24/7 Championship
I know smarks don’t give Mojo the same love they give The Revival or Cesaro or Sami Zayn or Shinsuke Nakamura (or other good wrestlers who aren’t in that one sad Smackdown group), but the man is good enough in the ring, great on the microphone, and deserves better. Go to New Japan for a few years and suddenly be everybody’s favorite wrestler, Mojo.
Speaking of guys who’d be better off in Japan, here’s Akira Tozawa using the prime of his health and career to lose to Aleister Black in a minute-20. It’s fine. Aleister Black really needs a real feud to validate his participation on these shows, especially since Murphy failed upwards.
It’d also probably help if he didn’t paraphrase Rorschach quotes like a nerdy Randy Orton. How do you turn the beautifully effective, “none of you understand, I’m not locked in here with you, you’re locked in here with me,” into, “so for those of you who venture out here, know, that it is not me who is in there with you, it is you who shall be trapped inside this metaphoric cage with me?” It’s like you put Watchmen through Google translate three times before you read it. IN ACTUALITY IT IS ALL OF US WHO ARE KNOWN AS THE PUPPETS IN THIS SCENARIO, LAURIE, AND IN FACT IT IS I, YOU SHOULD KNOW, WHOM IS SIMPLY A PUPPET THAT IS ABLE SOMEHOW TO VIEW WITH HIS EYES THE STRINGS THAT KEEP HIM PUPPETTING!
Keep Alan Moore out your mouth, WWE.
Despite a pre-match attack from street clothes Humberto Carrillo, Angel Garza’s able to pin poor, dependable Cedric Alexander in about two minutes. Man, imagine having Cedric Alexander on your roster and not being able to think of anything to do with him you couldn’t have given to dudes you found at a local wrestling school and paid $50 dollars to let you hurt them. Even worse, imagine booking ANGEL GARZA vs. Cedric Alexander and deciding it should be a two-minute squash. Jesus Christ.
Finally, Rhea Ripley gets confronted by and then mauls Sarah Logan. Logan was like, “who do you think you are showing up to Raw and pretending you’re an important character, you’ve gotta just show up and feel worthless for three years like the rest of us!” It was a bad night for her in general, as she also had to hear Ruby Riott cut a promo about how Liv Morgan was her “best friend.” Damn Ruby, what was Sarah to you? Chopped live game?
They also do another bit where Charlotte Flair shows up for no disceranble reason other than to accept Rhea Ripley’s challenge for a match at WrestleMania, only to be like, “no, I’m not saying yes or no, I’m just here for the sake of being here.” Honestly, I hope Bianca Belair swagger jacks Rhea at TakeOver and it ends up being Flair vs. Belair, if only for the dissonance. Plus, Ripley seems like she was just challenging Flair for kicks, while Bianca sincerely needs to whoop that ass for the shit Flair said to her on Wednesday.
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Week
Hey all, I don’t want to bring down the thread, but today is the 17th anniversary of my brother passing away. (The same day as Mr. Perfect, the heel that got us both into wrestling) These threads remind me so much of him, my husband and me watching Raw back in the day. So if you feel so inclined, please lift a glass in honor of Nathaniel.
Okay, back to the jokes.
Shorter Matt Hardy promo: I’m just here for a few more months how a bout a nice punt to write me off?
LAWLER: THIS IS IT!
ME: When have you EVER been right?
The Real Birdman
I don’t know what drunk intern is handing out live microphones tonight, but their reign of terror needs to be stopped
Sarah Logan stepping to Rhea Ripley is like Sarah Logan stepping to Rhea Ripley
MVP telling someone what it takes to be WWE Champion is like Charles Barkley telling people what it takes to be an NBA champion.
Baron Von Raschke
Damn….I was hoping Undertaker would be driving the ambulance and say, “WHERE TO, MAN?”
“Hey it’s Adam Cole, Bay-by”
Becky: “Hey, Adam, that wife of yours for hire? I need someone’s teeth removed before Mania and I don’t care how she does it.”
“Haha. Got you. Leave a message after the beep, Bay-by”
I really want KO to call an audible in the ring with Buddy and yell out “Dropkick, Murphy!”
So, we’re supposed to believe that Shayna and Rhea have been backstage, sharing one locker room tonight, and nobody died?
Sure, OK, whatever.
MVP taking a couch bump like every wrestling fan’s toddler since the beginning of time.
Put this on Raw, you coward.
As always, thanks for checking out this week’s Best and Worst of Raw. If you liked or laughed at anything, consider giving us a share on social media to help us out. I know I ask for that all the time, but I can’t stress what a nightmare New Media is and how precarious this entire operation feels sometimes. Speaking of that …
[squints] What the hell is an “up rocks?”
Also, drop a comment down in our comments section below to let us know what you thought of Raw. The build to WrestleMania continues, as now we’ve got the set up for a FIRST TO EAT BLOOD match! Make sure you’re here on Wednesday to find out how Full Sail reacts when Charlotte shows up again like the Grand Galactic Inquisitor. See you then!