Oh My God This is So Long
Raw opens with a freaking 30 minute promo. About 15 minutes of Stephanie fake-crying (great,) and Triple H getting really red in the face. I love watching Stephanie because it’s what would happen if my mom was asked to ham it up for a wrestling crowd without even the faintest scent of irony or self-consciousness. She’s a lot like her father in that way, except you can still tell she’s a super nice person.
Anyway, they talk forever, and at one point Trips’ head literally looks like it’s going to explode. I did like how he yelled “YOU’LL BE BEGGING TO HAVE US BACK” because I can’t help but think that’s sorta true.
Basically, this means John Cena gets to choose who runs Raw tonight, which seems… weird, because I don’t think that was an established stipulation. In fact, I think it plays directly into the working, Brandon Stroud-ordained theory that John Cena is the shadow ruler of all of WWE. So as The Authority start to take their leave out of the ring, DANIEL BRYAN’S MUSIC HITS AND THE AMERICAN DRAGON HIMSELF WALKS OUT. He’s in street clothes and still might not ever wrestle again, but INSTANT POP. Bryan is permanently over, Yes! chants all around the world, screw all the doubters.
But then we go to commercial, and Daniel Bryan says he’s the GM for the night, and proceeds to take like 20 minutes booking the show. It’s super boring. I love Daniel Bryan, he’s easily the best technical wrestler of his generation, but I don’t need his awkward sentence structures making, like, Ambrose and Harper happen. You know, the stuff that goes down on every Raw. We seriously got through the first hour of Raw with one match. That’s not great television.
Still, D-Bry in the building. I marked.
Our First Match of the Night Was Literally Ryback Vs. Mark Henry?
Did you go and get dinner during this match? Me too! I went to Chipotle, it was pretty good.
Ambrose’s Main Event Status Sure Did Go By Quick, Didn’t it?
Look, I get it. Roman is coming back. Ziggler is getting the bigger pops. Daniel Bryan is on the show. Yeah, it was a fun month where Dean Ambrose was a big deal, but times change quickly in the WWE. Now you’re just that scrappy (and increasingly ripped) dude who wrestles spicy mid-card bangers with hulky athletes like Luke Harper. I’m not mad! The finish, where Bray Wyatt teleports in and Sister Abigail’d you outside was awesome. You two will have a great TLC match, no worries!
But I do kinda wish it was October again, and you were mean-mugging John Cena and getting supremely, catastrophically over. You’ll be back again, but right now stopgap Ambrose is kinda bumming me out.
Miz and Mizdow Prove How Weak the Tag Division is
Right now the tag belts are owned by a meme. Last night they beat Goldust and Stardust, two people who ostensibly take their craft pretty seriously. It was a fun match, sure, but there’s part of me that CAN’T WAIT for The Ascension to finally get called up and start murdering fools.
Also it needs to be mentioned that Mizdow came out with a separate set of tag-team belts. Like, Miz held the two belts, and Mizdow was holding replicas. So that’s obviously a really great thing, and it plants the seeds for Mizdow eventually, inevitably turning on Miz and becoming the Only Miz in the Universe.
Except… I think it would be a little bit better if that never happens. Like what if Mizdow is so thoroughly committed to his stunt double role that he’s actually okay with not holding the tag belts. You know, the ones he won. In some ways that’s far, far more memorable than your garden-variety jealousy tale.
That’s Darkly Ironic, Lana
I don’t have much to say about this Lana/Rusev segment. Basically Daniel Bryan is forcing them to recite the pledge of allegiance, which causes Lana to pout out a “America is not fair.”
It’s played for laughs obviously, and in any other circumstance it would’ve been pretty funny. They even brought out Sergeant Slaughter to lay down the law! But given all the horrific racial injustices currently spinning around our timelines, it all felt profoundly poorly timed. Unless they’re trying to turn Rusev face against heel America, and you know what? America has been pretty heelish lately.
Great to see Sargent Slaughter though, if only it was last week or something.
Fandango is a Salsa Dancer
Are you okay with Fandango being a Salsa dancer? I’m okay with Fandango being a salsa dancer. Can’t wait to see you last five more minutes than you probably should at the Royal Rumble Fandango!
You know what? It’d be kind of cool if they took Fandango off TV for months at a time, only to re-debut him with a slightly different dancing gimmick. Sweaty, line-dancing man-muscle Fandango sometime in August of next year would be pretty good. Or alternatively, maybe just fire Fandango.
We Can Breathe Easy, I Guess?
I think we all expected that once The Shield and The Wyatts were broken up, the lesser members of those two groups would find there way to the bottom of the card very quickly. But hat’s off to WWE, because that hasn’t been the case at all. Obviously patriarchs like Bray and Roman Reigns have taken their top spots, but Seth Rollins is now the most effective working heel in the company! Erick Rowan, a guy I think we all had penciled for a return to developmental, is starting a feud with Big Show! And he’s got this adorable “I had a walnut-sized brain but I also believe in justice” gimmick! Maybe it’s because Vince is short on resources, but it’s heartwarming seeing how none of these guys are left behind.
A.J. Lee’s Burn Worked For Approximately Five Seconds
Firstly, nice to see that the rumors of A.J.’s incoming exit from the WWE appear to be false.
Secondly, “talent isn’t sexually transmitted” is a really good line. I popped. I thought it was cool. You can’t tell me that Nikki and Brie romantically attaching themselves to Face One and Face Two of the whole business isn’t at least a tiny bit motivated through self-preservation. I’m not saying they can’t work, but, you know.
But then you realize “oh wait, A.J. Lee is married to CM Punk. In fact, when she walks out to the ring, everyone in the building starts chanting CM Punk.” I’m going to take this in kayfabe, that by giving A.J. that line CM Punk has officially been stripped of personhood by the WWE. CM Punk no longer exists. Either that, or it was a sizable oversight in the writer’s room.
Oh, there was a diva’s match here, it ended in a distraction after about one and a half minutes. They’ll probably wrestle at TLC. Moving on.
It Was Fun, But We All Know What’s Really Going On
I don’t think the WWE has totally finalized their direction going forward in the short-term. It’s why they let Daniel Bryan fantasy book the night, because John Cena and Dolph Ziggler getting clean pins on freaking Jamie Noble and Joey Mercury doesn’t really give us much. Don’t get me wrong, it was funny! It had Seth Rollins looking on like Kobe Bryant’s deathstares to Nick Young, but this was essentially a house-show capstone with very little intrigue left.
Well, some intrigue. We end with the return of the anonymous Raw GM (ugh) promising that NEXT WEEK there will be a RETURN TO ORDER or whatever. And then… nothing.
Overall, a pretty decent wrestling show with too much talking and a very blank slate. You could do worse! Much worse in fact!
Oh One More Thing
Larry The Cable Guy was here. He made a King Kong Bundy reference and said Git R Done. And given last night’s news, it feels meaningless and embarrassing to even talk about it.
Follow Luke Winkie and Extra Mustard on Twitter and Facebook