Previously on the Best and Worst of Raw: Bayley decided that the love of her girlfriend was more important than the love of Each And Every One Of You™. Plus, Ricochet and Samoa Joe made it to the semi-finals of the King of the Ring tournament by not winning.
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.
And now, the Best and Worst of WWE Raw for September 9, 2019.
Best: Beer Garden
The best way I can sum up this week’s Madison Square Garden edition of Raw is … okay, you know those “elevated” house shows the Network dresses up in names like Starrcade or “Smackville” where they run a few good matches, bring in a few legends for a nostalgia pop, and generally send the crowd home happy? Yeah, this was WWE Rawville. In Your House: SAVAGE GARDEN.
Stone Cold Steve Austin opens the show doing his Grandpa Simpson thing where he tells stories that don’t go anywhere, and brings out Seth Rollins and Braun Strowman for a properly moderated contract signing. I mentioned this before, but how weird is it that we’re in a WWE where Stone Cold Steve Austin is the guy you bring in when you want some corporately-mandated ballyhoo to go smoothly? Anyway, he’s great. He’s Stone Cold. He does Stone Cold shit.
Your enjoyment of the contract signing portion of the contract signing segment varies depending on your opinion of the “what” chant. For a lot of people, it’s a fun reminder of 18-years-ago WWE. For anyone who has wanted to hear the promos wrestlers have tried to do for nearly two damn decades without the fucking vocal equivalent of “the wave” interrupting them, it’s the dirt worst. So yeah, have fun playing with the “what” chants, modern WWE wrestlers, it’s the worst thing that ever happened to pro wrestling crowd call and response.
The O.C. (don’t call them that) interrupt, setting up a match for later in the night. One thing I appreciate about this week’s promo parade is that they at least dressed it up differently. Instead of someone cutting an aimless promo into the ether before getting interrupted, and getting interrupted again, and getting interrupted again until a match happens (and that match starts … right now!), they went from a contract signing and interruption into a match with a DQ and a save and then tied it all together in a 10-man tag. It’s like complimenting someone who shit themselves for finishing the race, but it is what it is.
Bonus: congratulations to anyone fantasy booking in 2001 who was like, “I bet like 20 years from now, Stone Cold Steve Austin hits multiple-time WWE Champion AJ Styles, who is in charge of his own version of the nWo, with the Stone Cold Stunner on a Raw from Madison Square Garden.” Your impossible thing came true!
The O.C. (don’t call them that) wouldn’t be the modern day nWo if they didn’t immediately ruin every good match as soon as it gets going, so they interfere in AJ Styles vs. Cedric Alexander and cause a disqualification about eight minutes in. As a positive, at least they let it go eight minutes (with a commercial break, so like … three) instead of 90 seconds. As a negative, Raw was hitting the commercial breaks HARD last night. It felt like every match had a commercial break or two jammed in the middle. This is what I get for not wanting them to make everything 2-out-of-3 falls and pausing for commercials 10 times an episode, I guess.
Anyway, Los Vikingos de Borde Recto make the save for Ced. With a backstage followup reminding us that Robert Roode and Dolph Ziggler became satellite members of The Club last week, this all sets up Rollins, Strowman, Ced, and the Viking Experience against The O.C. and Cheer Money. I just wish they would’ve put Stone Cold Steve Austin on the babyface team so he could stand on the apron the entire time and hit Ziggler with a Stunner at the very end. I think my 1998 wrestling fan brain is still angling for a Goldberg vs. Steve Austin match. Make it happen, Saudi prince!
The big finale is … fine. Like I said, it’s a big house show match to send everybody home happy, and to give a few young guys a really, really cool thing for their wrestling resumes. It’s pretty wild that Firestorm Pro’s Raymond Rowe and C&C Wrestle Factory’s Cedric Alexander main-evented in Madison Square Garden. That makes me happy. Plus it teased more dissension between Rollins and Strowman, and gave Ced a major win to Build Momentum® heading into Clash of Champions. Yeah, “Cedric Alexander has pinned the United States Champion to set up a United States Championship match” and everything, but I can only complain so much when the end result is Alexander vs. Styles on pay-per-view. Just suspend Tex Ferguson and Chad 2 Badd above the ring in a shark cage or something.
Oh, and one more thing: Viking Experience Erik should’ve kicked Stone Cold’s ass for trying to give him a beer. Where have you gone, CM Punk, our nation turns its lonely eyes to you. Woo woo woo. (Also, I know, don’t answer that.)
Best: A Good, Good Lucha, Lucha Thing
Welcome to the latest edition of WCW Monday Nitro, where two lucha libre stars get to wrestle a full six minutes and get a finish, instead of somebody big showing up and throwing them around for effect! This is not my beautiful house! This is not my beautiful wife!
My only complaint here is that this wasn’t twice as long. Bless whoever remembered (presumably Rey Mysterio) that Gran Metalik was Máscara By God Dorada and is one of the best wrestlers in the world. I hope Mysterio has entered that part of his career where he can pick his opponents and just go out and have good matches with whoever he wants for a while, because that would be the best. This did more to make Metalik look legit in the eyes of literally anyone watching the show than anything he’s done since and including the Cruiserweight Classic. It’s also a good example of why WWE should send a few lighter guys who aren’t at the top of the card right now — Rey, Finn, Daniel Bryan, whoever else — over to 205 Live for a season or two to have fun, teach, and enrich the lives of everyone watching. Like, my kingdom for 20 minutes of Bryan vs. Jack Gallagher, you know?
More cool guys in flashy costumes doing awesome wrestling stuff, less piñatas and thinking the only way kids will wanna watch lucha is if you’re screaming “LU-CHA” at them. Lucha libre is a universality of human expression. That shit is like mathematics.
Worst: Charlotte Flair’s Moonsault
Best: Everything About That Tag Team Match Besides Charlotte Flair’s Moonsault
Yeah, ignoring Charlotte’s iffy offense and those moonsaults where she’s terrified to land flat thanks to some unknown combination of previous injury avoidance and a life of gymnastics tumbling where you’re supposed to land on your feet, the Four Horsewomen tag was exactly what you wanted it to be. They got time — 18 minutes! — told a strong story, and even gave us an actual finish instead of going the easy non-finish route. Again, it’s “Charlotte Flair has pinned the Smackdown Women’s Champion, what does this mean heading into Clash of Champions,” but even WWE’s worst tropes are palatable when they’re prefaced with 18 minutes of good wrestling.
I do wish they hadn’t rushed into this, though. With the reformation of the Boss ‘n’ Hug Connection not even being a full week old at the time of the match, we’re already doing Bayley and Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch without any of the time and character work that could’ve expanded the story and let it breathe. You could’ve spent this week having Flair and Lynch come to terms with needing to team up to face a common enemy again instead of just … easily doing it? And you could’ve run the tag match on Clash of Champions with the same finish and used it there to set up Flair vs. Bayley for the next show. These characters (especially) have such rich and full histories with each other that you can get compelling TV out of their interpersonal drama, without having to straight to “I’m full evil now, sorry,” or, “someone is jealous of something.” Not that NXT went much farther than mean girls picking on the nice ones, but the time spent helps make those arcs feel fuller and more important.
But yeah, huge shock that the match featuring the four best women on the roster who actually get to be on TV every week ruled.
Best: The Baron Wasteland
It’s official: Baron Corbin rules again.
Face it, dude’s had nothing but bangers since he returned and started wearing a tank top, and this week’s triple threat was no different. He was the best part of a match featuring Samoa Joe and Ricochet. Let that sink in for a minute. And yeah, a lot of it has to do with the INSANE chemistry he and Ricochet had in the ring last night, but Corbin hustled and carried his own weight. Even the crowd seems to be getting behind him. Is … is the King of the Ring tournament actually getting someone over like they keep saying it does?
Seriously, King Constable is the jam right now:
Plus, maybe if we start saying nice things about him and thinking he’s GOOD at wrestling, they’ll change his clothes and stop pushing him down our throats all the time. If we treat Corbin like he’s Cesaro and Cesaro like he’s Corbin, maybe they’ll switch places?
But in all seriousness, I’ve learned to stop worrying and love the inevitability of King Corbin. Although for real, think about how hard Corbin vs. Chad Gable might rule at Clash of Champions, even if you already know the finish. Gable’s gonna get some Santino Marella in the Royal Rumble vibes when he hits the Chaos Theory on big ass Baron Corbin, watch.
Worst: Also, Natalya Vs. Lacey Evans Was A Match
Imagine having that many talented female wrestlers hanging around in catering and running Natalya vs. Lacey Evans with 50/50 booking two weeks in a row? I appreciate hanky psychology as much as the next guy, but Jesus.
Also On This Episode
Bray Wyatt and the Firefly Funhouse friends taught us about “stranger danger,” and how we should … talk to strangers, I guess? Wyatt as a PSA machine who only gives terrible, life-threatening advice to kids is pretty funny. They should do a Halloween episode where he talks about how much better apples taste if you put a bunch of razor blades in them first. But real quick, how the hell do you do a Firefly Funhouse video about Stone Cold Steve Austin and not have the Vince McMahon puppet weigh in?
Roman Reigns gets a welcomed reprieve from his dumbass vintner murder mystery to talk about his battle with leukemia and introduce some of the Connor’s Cure Superstars of Tomorrow. No jokes here, just wanted to say this was nice.
The Street Profits are fired up to be … backstage at Raw in Madison Square Garden! One day they’ll tell their kids about how they got to stand just outside the place where all the wrestling and fans were and scream into a camera about how good the show was!
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Week
If Becky had any balls she’d go out wearing a Young Bucks “Cease & Desist” shirt and just stare daggers at Charlotte the whole match.
The Real Birdman
Yeah when Steve shows up drenched in beer, he gets cheered by everybody, but when I do it I’m kicked off the bus
Do I want to watch the Raiders who have bumbled around with no real sense of direction or success? Or should I change the channel to ESPN?
CORBIN: They say that all men are created equal. But if you look at me and you look at Samoa Joe, you can see that statement is not true. Now, normally when you go one on one, you’ve got a 50/50 shot at best. But I’m a former Andre the Giant winner and Mr. MITB. So your odds of winning drastically go down. Then you add Ricochet to the mix? And suddenly we have three people in this party and that means an automatic surcharge of 20% on top of the standard 15% gratuity and the NYC 4.5% sales tax, meaning that the bus boys and I will be pooling 141 and 2/3% of the ticket price. Numbers don’t lie.
If Matt Riddle bumped his head while skiing, would he be a Stunned, Cold Stoner?
The Voice of Raisin
I’m surprised the WWE would make a Baron king over higher ranking nobles like Duke Droese, Earl Hebner, and the Marcus de Bagwell.
Baron Von Raschke
Cole: There was a tie in the NFL yesterday!
Graves: Oh? What were the teams, Cole?
Graves: You don’t know…do you, Cole?
Renee: They were….
Graves: DO NOT HELP him here, Renee
Cole:…….RAW rolls on!
Good thing Cedric casually mentioned how he liked mead and pillaging backstage
Bayley smiling and staring off into space like Sasha finally fully brainwashed her
Charlotte missing a moonsault is my totem for when I go into dream world.
Join Us This Sunday, When Champions Clash!
That’s it for this week’s Raw. Thanks for reading, as always. Drop a comment down below to let us know what you thought of the show, give us a share on social media to help us keep our numbers up while we go through this redesign transition, and hey, be here this weekend for our complete Clash of Champions coverage.
On the card:
- Baron Corbin winning King of the Ring
- Braun Strowman and Seth Rollins having to defend the Tag Team Championship and then wrestling each other for the Universal Championship
- Becky Lynch vs. Sasha Banks, which should rule
- Bayley vs. Charlotte Flair, which should rule as long as Charlotte doesn’t pull any backflips
- Kofi Kingston getting through a match with Randy Orton without thinking about HIS FAMILY
- Humberto Carrillo, on pay-per-view (pre-show)!
- Roman Reigns fighting a guy who tried to murder him a couple of times instead of just giving that information to police and having him arrested
- “Alexa Bliss in Women’s Tag Team Championship action!” – WWE
- The Revival vs. New Day, which would’ve been exciting like three years ago
- Miz vs. Shinsuke Nakamura, my Wrestle Kingdom dream match