Pro Wrestling

10 Reasons Raw Was Dumb As Heck, But In A Good Way

http://pl.wwe.com/photos/2016/05/17/the-new-day-go-back-in-time-photos?r30_r1_r1:page=2 Source: pl.WWE.com

Deep down, every wrestling fan knows that this thing that we watch on a regular basis is really dumb. It’s often poorly written by people who couldn’t make it as writers for daytime soaps, with horrendously cheesy acting, and a lot of the time things happen that don’t actually make any sense. However, the fact that wrestling is dumb doesn’t preclude it from also sometimes being weirdly awesome, which is what keeps us coming back. Sure, the actual wrestling being good is always appreciated, but there also needs to be that level of nonsense, with a dash of crazy, in order for the show to be truly entertaining. The final Raw before Extreme Rules did a lot of dumb things that kept the show off-kilter in a lot of ways. But at the same time, some of that dumb stuff was awesome, in that way that only wrestling can be.

And, of course, some of it was bad, but we’re used to that by now.

10. Maybe There Is No Swerve

We’ll stop thinking about whether “The Family” or “The Bloodline” is a more ridiculous name for Roman Reigns’ little group (maybe it’s only “The Family” when Dean Ambrose is involved, we’re not sure), because we need to address the other poorly-named faction in this fight, “The Club”. Frankly, if they used all the effort that commentary puts into not actually saying the words “Bullet Club”, they might have actually thought up a real name for the group by now. At any rate, when they debuted, we were pretty sure that at some point, they were going to turn on AJ Styles and bring in Finn Balor (which would incidentally have the side effect of, and we really hate harping on this, giving them an actual name), because AJ had turned himself into one of WWE’s biggest babyfaces and it would make sense. But after this week, with Styles acting fairly heelish and arrogant, and seemingly on the same page as his buddies, we’re forced to face a reality where maybe this whole thing has just slowly turned AJ heel, for no good reason other than because maybe WWE doesn’t want anyone leeching potential face heat off Roman Reigns, who has now started to receive the Cena-esque “What an ovation” and “Whether you love him or hate him” lines during his entrances. We’d believed that WWE had recognized the problems with Reigns and moved to correct them a bit, but if they truly believe that he’s still the #1 babyface in the company, this whole summer could end up very awkward for WWE and the production team that has to keep adjusting the crowd audio.

http://pl.wwe.com/photos/2016/05/17/aj-styles-sets-the-record-straight-about-the-club-photos?r30_r1_r1:page=6 Source: pl.WWE.com

9. Good Friends, Better Enemies, Also Somehow A Great Tag Team

In a preview of something we’d really like to see, Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn were forced to form a tag team, with the express command that Owens couldn’t abandon Zayn (or, presumably, otherwise attempt to make the team lose). Frustrated jerk Kevin Owens is the absolute best form of Owens, as he spent literally the entire match, whether wrestling or standing on the apron, insulting everyone in the general area, but especially his beleagured partner. And the instant they won the match (which makes sense, because Owens and Zayn are both awesome wrestlers, and while the other team had Cesaro, it also had Miz), Owens took the first opportunity to get his shots in on Zayn, then took credit for winning, because of course he did. We can already see a future where Owens remains shackled to a team with Zayn, due to some random order from an authority figure, and they manage to win the WWE Tag Team titles due to the combined power of being really good at wrestling while still hating each other. Eventually, the bickering will turn into something resembling respect and a rekindling of an old friendship…at which point Kevin Owens will powerbomb Sami Zayn into oblivion.

http://pl.wwe.com/photos/2016/05/17/cesaro–the-miz-vs.-sami-zayn–kevin-owens-photos?r30_r1_r1:page=29 Source: pl.WWE.com

8. We Miss The Bull Already

We’re not sure what it is that makes WWE so determined to keep trying with Primo and Epico, while at the same time tossing useful, popular acts like Damien Sandow out the door without a second glance. The Shining Stars may not be the worst thing in the world, but are we the only people who remembered that they already used the Colons’ Puerto Rican heritage for their initial gimmick, and the only reason it got even close to over was having Rosa Mendes out there to distract the audience and speak elementary school-level Spanish? We’re also baffled by WWE’s continued belief, going all the way back to Los Boricuas, that people from Carribbean nations are bad guys. Given what we’ve heard about Puerto Rico in the news lately, we mostly just feel sorry for them. The worst part is that Primo and Epico are honestly pretty good wrestlers, and their match on Raw wasn’t bad, but between them, they have a fraction of the charisma needed to make anything about this act work.

http://pl.wwe.com/photos/2016/05/17/the-shining-stars-vs.-local-athletes-photos Source: pl.WWE.com

7. Something Strange In This Feud About Potted Plants And Shiny Jackets

When you get right down to it, Dean Ambrose and Chris Jericho are fighting for stupid reasons. Ambrose wants revenge for his cancelled talk show and (apparently very heavy, according to Cole) potted plant, while Jericho is upset that Dean destroyed his obscenely expensive jacket (which isn’t even the only one he owns). This is what we mean when we talk about things in wrestling not making any sense if you think about it, and it carries over into the introduction of an “Asylum Match”, which is just a clever name for “Steel Cage Match With Weapons Already Inside”, because that second one doesn’t really roll off the tongue. The thing is, while the whole thing is decidedly insane, it just works, because both men have sold this feud on the strength of very good mic work. Can they translate it into a match which clearly promises a certain level of brutality (likely mixed with comedy spots, given some of the weapons we saw hanging over the cage)? Well, that’s why you’re supposed to tune into the Pay Per View.

http://pl.wwe.com/photos/2016/05/17/dean-ambrose-challenges-chris-jericho-to-an-asylum-match-at-extreme-rules-photos?r30_r1_r1:page=10 Source: pl.WWE.com

6. Was Darren Young Ever Great?

Listen, we’re not against Darren Young getting a push, he’s a decent wrestler, a good ambassador for the company, and he’s worked really hard at making people forget his original incarnation as “heavily tanned John Cena look-a-like”. And nobody will hear us complain about having Bob Backlund rant about old-school wrestling mentality and modern technology that he doesn’t understand, because frankly, that was the stuff that made the Mr. Bob Backlund character work so well in the mid 90’s. Our only concern is that we’re not entirely sure how this leads to a good character for Young, or why it requires WWE to re-purpose a Donald Trump campaign slogan. There’s no doubt that it’s at least a little entertaining, but will it translate to anything positive for Darren Young’s career, or is most of the interest centered around wacky old Bob? Honestly, a lot of that is on Young, who’s going to need to rise to the challenge of becoming a memorable character in his own right, without leaning on Backlund to carry the charismatic part of the act.

http://www.foxsports.com/buzzer/story/wwe-bob-backlund-all-american-biography-092815 Source: FOXSports.com

5. The Shaggiest Of Dogs

To be fair, you can’t say that WWE didn’t at least pay off the incredibly long-running storyline between R-Truth and Goldust by having the two of them finally form a real tag team. Except for the fact that after all of that, they’re actually a terrible tag team that still doesn’t particularly want to be together and can’t win matches against the absolute lowest run of the tag team division. We suppose we should give credit for WWE literally taking the piss about the whole thing, having Cole showed clearly feigned excitement about the team’s first match, followed by a ridiculous promotional video that somehow managed to be even longer and more boring than the vignettes it was recapping. At the same time, though, that was certainly a lot of time that we’ll never get back, and the end result was a tag team nobody particularly wanted in the first place. However, we will retract this statement if it was really a secret plan to turn Tyler Breeze and Fandango into a team destined for greatness (although the name “Breezango” is just terrible and uncreative in all the worst ways).

http://pl.wwe.com/photos/2016/05/17/the-golden-truth-vs.-fandango–tyler-breeze-photos?r30_r1_r1:page=18 Source: pl.WWE.com

4. Someone Warn 2009 Kofi About Randy Orton

And now we hit the epitome of wrestling being dumb in all the right ways, in the form of the New Day, who are currently facing a tag team that espouses values of over a hundred years ago (we would have actually been okay with them claiming to be time travellers from the past, because why not go all the way with it). Granted, it was preceded by the usual “Booty-O’s” shtick that has become their trademark as babyfaces (because WWE never met a face act they couldn’t use to relentlessly sell merchandise in lieu of having good promos), but once they unveiled the time machine, all bets were off. Between Big E insisting that it was literally just a giant cardboard box with a keyboard (clearly Big E was never a fan of Calvin and Hobbes), Kofi wanting to stay in 2009 because “it was a good year for him”, and Xavier realizing that travelling back to the 1800s meant no more video games, the whole thing was exactly why The New Day is one of the best acts in WWE. It was silly, it was childish, and you’d never want to try and explain it to your non-wrestling friends, but in the moment, it was the absolute pinnacle of sports entertainment.

http://pl.wwe.com/photos/2016/05/17/the-new-day-go-back-in-time-photos;jsessionid=D43E08843C15052C73A8062E80174ADA?r30_r1_r1:page=11 Source: pl.WWE.com

3. Never Interrupt Someone’s Catchphrase

As much as we’re not fond of the Dudley Boyz basically being jobbers due to our memories of the good old days when they kicked ass and took names, it’s entirely the correct role for them to be in at this stage in their careers. They will always be the Dudley Boyz, and their accomplishments are many, but during this return, they’re doing the one thing that not enough acts from the Attitude Era did, which is prepare the next generation to replace them by putting them over cleanly and impressively. Big Cass (and Enzo, when he returns), is one of those acts with money printed all over it, and working with the Dudleyz gives him the rub of beating one of the best tag teams in the world, as well as allowing him to work extensively with a veteran team that can really teach the still-developing Cass how to get better in the ring. In five years, when Cass is WWE World Heavyweight Champion, it will be because of things like this, which is helping to turn him into a truly big deal that should not be ignored.

http://pl.wwe.com/photos/2016/05/17/big-cass-vs.-d-von-dudley-photos?r30_r1_r1:page=12 Source: pl.WWE.com

2. The Championship Curse Continues

Remember last week, how we complained about three different matches ending with champions losing cleanly (as well as the #1 contender to a title losing cleanly to someone who wasn’t even relevant)? Well, lost amidst the crazy is the fact that WWE did the exact same thing again this week. The Intercontinental Champion was pinned in a tag match. The US Champion was pinned by someone he isn’t feuding with (showing that maybe Sheamus was the real weak link in the League of Nations). And while it’s less annoying due to not being part of actual matches, the Tag Team, Women’s, and WWE World Heavyweight Champion were all left laying by their opponents at Extreme Rules. We get that champions need to show weaknesses that can be exploited, and challengers need to look strong headed into PPV matches that most of them likely aren’t winning (in fact, we’d put decent amount of money on only one title changing hands at Extreme Rules, and that’s only because it’s not like Kalisto was doing anything with the US Title anyway). However, this is two straight weeks where WWE’s champions ate a bunch of pinfalls, and this week, not a single title holder managed to stand tall before the Pay Per View. In some cases, like the World title feud, it does work, because they’ve had a bunch of spots where Reigns has also looked strong, but man, shouldn’t champions win more often than they lose?

http://pl.wwe.com/photos/2016/05/17/kalisto-vs.-alberto-del-rio-photos?r30_r1_r1:page=31 Source: pl.WWE.com

1. Is Ric Flair Even Acting Anymore?

We finish things off with Ric Flair, because WWE was in Flair Country again, and apparently they’ve decided that means it’s okay to have the Women’s Division in the main event segment, due to that feud involving Flair’s daughter. More cynical-minded fans might suggest that WWE just decided to throw the live crowd a bone because they know the third hour ratings are going to lose hundreds of thousands of viewers anyway, but does that sound like something we would say? Anyway, the end result is that Natalya cuts the least natural-sounding promo we’ve heard in a long time (which is an accomplishment given the well-documented problems with Roman Reigns), Ric Flair ends up banned from appearing at Extreme Rules and goes insane as a result, and Charlotte tries desperately to calm down her father, in an act so convincing that we’re half convinced it’s not entirely an act. The whole segment was crazy, and vaguely uncomfortable to watch, which wasn’t helped when Stephanie got her usual spot where she slaps a wrestler without fear of retribution, but it got good heat because the Carolinas will always play along with a Flair segment. And hey, at least nobody referenced Charlotte’s dead brother this time, so, you know, progress!

http://pl.wwe.com/photos/2016/05/17/natalya-and-charlotte-collide-during-a-tense-wwe-womens-championship-contract-signing-photos?r30_r1_r1:page=12 Source: pl.WWE.com
Stephen Randle

Stephen Randle

Stephen Randle is an avid wrestling and film fan. He's been writing about WWE, movies, and video games for Goliath since 2015.

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