Previously on the Best and Worst of Raw: Bobby Lashley continued to Dominate® Lana, The Viking Raiders earned the opportunity to face the Raw Tag Team Champions by pinning the Raw Tag Team Champions, and WWE dealt with the fallout from Hell in a Cell by … not really talking about it.
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And now, the Best and Worst of WWE Raw for October 14, 2019.
USA Network: Women And Cruiserweights Welcome
So, we’re stuck between awkward pay-per-views and in the middle of a Superstar Shake-Up™, and nobody really seems sure of what they’re doing or how hard they should be trying. To put it into proper context, here’s that bit from last week’s Raw:
I wanted to start off the column with this and use it to explain the kind of Raw we got on Monday; an episode where the company’s ashamed of the pay-per-view they just had, ashamed of the pay-per-view they’re about to do, and under the assumption that any content between this and the draft is worthless because they’re just going to hit a “reset button.”
It’s also night two of the WWE Draft, so I’ll copy-and-paste in a couple of paragraphs from last week’s Best and Worst of Friday Night Smackdown. Just replace “night one” with “night two,” and “Jay Glazer” with “Jim Cramer.”
As for the actual drafting, it’s hard to have an opinion on it when it’s “night one” of a two-night draft. Full rosters haven’t been decided yet, trades can still happen per Jay Glazer’s contribution to the celebrity highlight reel, and they can draft “final rosters” on Monday and still be like, “whoops, actually we made a last second trade,” two weeks later. Aleister Black, I’m looking in your direction.
I will say that the WWE Draft should’ve been a standalone special instead of cut up in the middle of a throwaway Smackdown. There’s a reason why the NFL doesn’t hold the NFL draft in the middle of a game, and why the Academy Awards doesn’t happen in the middle of a movie.
If it feels like nothing important has happened in the past three episodes of flagship WWE television, this is why. They’re just kinda treading water until they get to some indeterminable future “reset button” that I’m guessing won’t actually get pressed until after Survivor Series. Survivor Series builds are notoriously hammy with their die-hard Raw and Smackdown brand loyalties absorbing and destroying all previous relationships and character development. After that is December, which loses steam because of the holidays and/or the Slammy Awards, if they’re ever going to do that again, so … the Royal Rumble, I guess?
Anyway, regarding the draft, I was promised Frank Thomas. Did the Nugenix® commercials get drafted to All Elite Wrestling?
As it stands, it seems like most of the drafting was done to keep all the real-life relationships together. Becky Lynch and Seth Rollins, Charlotte Flair and Andrade, they even kept Carmella and Corey Graves together on Smackdown. Which is interesting, because the entire Smackdown women’s division now seems to be Bayley, Sasha Banks, Carmella, and Lacey Evans.
Compare that to Raw, who got Lynch, Flair, Asuka, Kairi Sane, Bliss, Cross, Liv Morgan, and Natalya. Mandy Rose, Sonya Deville, Peyton Royce, Billie Kay, Sarah Logan, and Dana Brooke are all still listed as “free agents,” plus Ember Moon, Ruby Riott, and Nia Jax are all injured and ineligible, so it’s weird to see like half of the division go un-drafted. Also, who drafts Tamina and Liv and leaves the IIconics on the board? Y’all are tripping.
Another interesting thing is Raw getting literally every cruiserweight on the roster that isn’t Ali or Shorty McShorterson. That’s the same thing they did back in the day when 205 Live was starting. They’re like, “we’re gonna tape 205 after Smackdown, let’s have the cruiserweights be exclusive to Raw.” I’m sure they have their reasons, but from the outside, it looks like a lot of unnecessary travel.
Quick cruiserweight question: is Humberto Carrillo the fastest rising star in WWE that wasn’t already famous for doing something else? From December of 2018 until now dude went from being half of an NXT jobber tag team to getting put on 205 Live, getting WWE pay-per-view matches, and now being drafted to Raw. Un-drafted-ass Drake Maverick’s just sitting in the back like, :(
Best: The Matches That Mattered (Kind Of)
You know, the transparency of how WWE books these Draft shows is straight-up embarrassing sometimes. Charlotte Flair lost the Smackdown Women’s Championship to Bayley on Smackdown! Oh, look, she’s just been drafted to Raw! The Viking Raiders just defeated Robert Roode and Dolph Ziggler for the Raw Tag Team Championship! And then like a segment later, whoops, Ziggler and Roode have been drafted to Smackdown. You could … try to be a little more subtle and organic with these things, you know. If you booked more than an afternoon in advance you could’ve made sure you went into the Draft without the wrong people holding championships, because wrestling is not real and you control literally everything that happens. It’s like when you book yourself into a corner and have to end you pay-per-view main event on a “ref stoppage” because you can’t have the Fiend win the Universal Championship because he’s going to Smackdown, but you also don’t want him to lose. Maybe just don’t book it, because again, you decide what happens.
On a positive note, Raw starting off with Charlotte Flair vs. Becky Lynch is always a good thing. You can tell they were told to keep it in second gear, though. Charlotte’s line of, “what if I get drafted to Raw and this nightmare continues” turned out to be pretty prophetic, huh? Lynch winning with a surprise roll-up was interesting, and I hope in WWE 2K20 they have “roll-up” be one of her OMG moves. At least Charlotte knows to keep her shoulders down.
The Viking Raiders vs. Cheer Money was probably the best match of the night, and the best main roster match the Raiders have had so far.
I keep wondering how much easier their ascent would’ve been if you’d just kept them The War Raiders from the beginning, never turned them into a goofy meme with “The Viking Experience,” and just had them dynamically kick people’s asses for several months instead of eating a conveyor belt of jobbers. Raw always forgets they have a tag team division when it’s time to book tag team matches. But yeah, no, Ray Rowe has a WWE championship on his resume now and that’s cool as shit, and I hope a reworked division with the Raiders on top and maybe some actual competition from the teams underneath will address the current infinite sadness of WWE’s tag team divisions. Just have good matches and have exciting shit happen, yeah? This was a good step in that direction.
The Matches That Didn’t
To clarify, I didn’t want to give these matches a “Worst” just because they’re going through the motions and happening for no real reason. They’re perfectly watchable and enjoyable while they’re on. They’re just stuck on these stop-gap Raws, and hopefully that’ll pass soon.
Cien Almas vs. Mustafa is a match I want to see on an NXT TakeOver or an especially good episode of 205 Live. It’s just not the same when it’s only five minutes long and joined in-progress. The only reason it appears to be happening at all is to establish Andrade as a threat on Raw, and I guess to give Ali a little face-time on the red right brand, and that’s fine. These guys are both fantastic, and I hope they’re being positioned to be Important Guys on their respective shows.
Speaking of “I wish this was on 205 Live,” Cedric Alexander vs. Buddy Murphy. That’s been on 205 Live enough times that I know what it looks like in powered-up form, but I’d rather watch these guys fart around in the ring only doing about a tenth of what they’re capable of than see 100% from someone else.
Shout-out to Aleister Black for finally realizing last week that he’s supposed to go to the ring and ask for matches if he wants them, instead of hanging out in the back talking to a camera man about it. Here, he gets to squash Eric Young, who thankfully still exists. I would’ve never guessed that of the four members of Sanity, Young would be the one who doesn’t have anything to do and never gets on TV.
Lacey Evans and Natalya have decided to team up all of a sudden, because Evans “showed” Natalya something last week. Was it the contact info for Immigration and Customs Enforcement?
They take a loss to Raw Superstars™ The Kabuki Warriors, though, and “Asuka pins Lacey Evans with a desperation roll-up” seems like an old NXT call-up joke we never got to make. I think WWE could benefit a lot from keeping the Warriors heel but remembering that they are Asuka and Kairi Sane, and really should not ever be struggling against Natalya and Golden Age Charlotte Flair. Nattie and Lacey don’t just set the low bar, they ARE the low bar!
Also, in a match I literally almost forgot about and had to scroll back up and write about before hitting “publish,” Ricochet defeated Shelton Benjamin. If you’re wondering why Raw would use a draft pick on Shelton Benjamin after watching him lose clean to Ricochet in like four minutes, perhaps this will clear things up:
Card Subject To Change
— WWE (@WWE) October 15, 2019
Eh, “tonight” can mean any night. Although …
the idea of AJ Styles vs. Montez Ford pic.twitter.com/Vay9hQFaYM
— Brandon Shroud (@MrBrandonStroud) October 15, 2019
Worst: The Pen Is Mightier
Tyson Fury, the least charismatic person I’ve ever seen repeatedly called “charismatic,” shows up again in one of his ill-fitting NXT Bray Wyatt outfits to “sign a contract” for his match against Braun Strowman in Saudi Arabia. The more I think about it, the more it makes sense that the boxer who thinks that evil Jews run the world and that gay people are trying to summon the devil would want to do his wrestling match in Saudi Arabia. Does anybody think it’s weird that they had a big press conference to announce the match before they signed a contract and “made it official?” I know wrestling’s not real and “contract signings” are mostly ceremonial, but considering the logical order of these things would probably improve the product.
Anyway, Braun smashes the table with These Hands and Tyson Fury responds by repeatedly failing to break a pen, which I’m told is supposed to be an exchange of tough-guy back-and-forth. He’s messing with him, you see, because he doesn’t have to prove he’s strong. He’s the lineal champion of the world, and all I want before I die is for WWE to book another Brawl for All so I can see this Cloverfield motherfucker get knocked out by a 55-year old Bart Gunn.
Worst: Apparently ‘Dying In A House Fire’ Is The Only Way To Escalate A Bray Wyatt Feud
Sorry, wrong pic.
Seth Rollins, who is currently very cool and popular, decides that he’s never going to be free of spooky hole-draggings and measured crowd responses unless he … [checks notes] goes to Bray Wyatt’s children’s show set and literally “burns it down.” So now “burn it down” doesn’t mean that Rollins is a red-hot in-ring performer who always steals the show, it means he’s a crazy arsonist!
Man, how could you do that to Ramblin’ Rabbit? He was your only fan!
Ramblin’ Rabbit was taken from us in tonight’s super unnecessary, cruel arson attack.
— Bray Wyatt (@WWEBrayWyatt) October 15, 2019
I guess the idea is that we’re doing a slow double-turn with these two, as vehement pro-Fiend support from Hell in a Cell seems to be sticking around, and every time Rollins does anything he seems more detached. You’ve gotta love the idea that Rollins is such a bad top face that we’ve got to turn the horrifying psychopath who talks to bunny puppets and carries around his own head as a lantern into a hero.
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Week
“Spider-Man never got planted in the middle of the ring like that!”
HE LITERALLY STARTED AS A PROFESSIONAL WRESTLER.
Rollins “it’s wabbit, err fiend hunting season! And I’m going to catch the wascally Fiend, right Roman”
Roman “sufferin’ succotash!”
Big Baby Yeezus
The GM who took Jinder Mahal over Samoa Joe or The Miz should be fired
Andrade and Shorty Vega
The Fiend and Bray Wyatt have never been seen at them same place at the same time just saying
Brute Farce, on Lacey and Natalya
IT’S THE SASS AND GAS CONNECTION!!!
Five bucks says Vince thinks that Tyson Fury is actually Conor McGregor
Black establishing that submission finisher for when he moves up the card and never finishes anyone off with it anymore.
The Voice of Raisin
I love how Braun tries to make everything sound intimidating, even if it’s really mundane.
TIDE IS ON SALE FOR $9.99! GET THESE HANDS!
After Friday, this feels more like clocking into work than enjoying my pro wrestling show.
^ everyone on WWE TV for the next month and a half.
Thanks for reading about Raw is War, everybody. Hopefully it’ll turn back into a regular show again next week, for better or worse. Worst case scenario, it’ll be a normal show again in January, when we’re done with the Miracle on 34th Street Fights and such. Sorry if the energy has been low in these the past few weeks. If you’re like, “why doesn’t this guy like ANYTHING, he’s such a whiner” etc., please consider reading our other columns about NXT, Dynamite, NWA Powerrr, old Raws and Nitros, and so on. I promise you, I don’t “hate wrestling,” I just hate bad wrestling.
Drop us a comment down below to let us know what you thought was thrilling and exciting about this week’s Raw, give us a share on social media to keep us chugging along, and be here next week for more!