Pro Wrestling

10 Ways WWE Mostly Phoned In Memorial Day Raw

http://www.wwe.com/shows/raw/2016-05-30/gallery/john-cena-returns-wwe-and-officially-enters-new-era-photos#fid-40026931 Source: WWE.com

Holiday episodes of Raw are often episodes in which not much happens. To make matters worse, in addition to it being Memorial Day, WWE was staring down the barrel of a hugely hyped Game Seven in the NBA Western Conference Finals, and the first game of the NHL Stanley Cup Finals (so you know no Canadians were watching Raw), plus pretty much every team in baseball was playing due to the holiday, so it was definitely going to be tough sledding ratings-wise. But, they had promoted the long-awaited return of John Cena, so there was a chance that at least one segment of Raw might be important. The rest of the show, however…not so much.

10. We Have No Plan. Send For The New Day!

So, in case you hadn’t heard, Smackdown will become a live show on July 19th and the Brand Extension is back on starting that week as well. Apparently the USA Network isn’t exactly thrilled with Raw’s consistently sliding ratings and the fact that Smackdown gets treated like WWE’s red-headed stepchild, and since they’re paying a significant amount of money for the TV rights to both shows, they’d like to actually see some return on that investment. And if there was ever a moment for you to start worrying a little bit about WWE’s plans for the brand extension (we were already slightly worried, but that’s because we lived through the first iteration of the split), it should probably be the fact that WWE dedicated an entire segment to announcing the brand extension on Raw, basically admitted that they haven’t actually worked out any of the details of the plan, as such, then distracted us by having The New Day make jokes and dance. It was literally an example of WWE saying “Look over there!” and scuttling away while your attention was diverted. We’re not saying they don’t have a plan, but do they actually have a plan for this industry-changing brand split?

http://www.wwe.com/shows/raw/2016-05-30/gallery/shane-and-stephanie-mcmahon-address-rumors-surrounding-2016-wwe-brand#fid-40026747 Source: WWE.com

http://www.wwe.com/shows/raw/2016-05-30/gallery/shane-and-stephanie-mcmahon-address-rumors-surrounding-2016-wwe-brand#fid-40026747 Source: WWE.com

9. This Isn’t About Them, And Yet…

In a continuing saga of The Usos somehow being one of WWE’s most important tag teams despite not really doing anything very impressive and throwing roughly 3,000 superkicks per match, in a feud between Golden Truth and Breezango (which is just a terrible portmanteau), somehow the Usos are the team that actually gets to win matches, even though they’re not even tangentially involved in the feud, and aren’t currently contenders in the tag team division. Obviously, Goldust and Truth are continuing the world’s longest shaggy dog story by failing to gel as a team, even on commentary (we suppose it’s okay for Truth to be the one who can’t tell the difference between Byron Saxton and Jonathon Coachman, but still…), but would it have been so bad to have Tyler Breeze and Fandango somehow beat The Usos and establish themselves as something more than a jobber team stuck in a feud with another jobber team? How much lamer does Golden Truth look now that they can’t beat a team that got manhandled by Roman Reigns’ least interesting cousins? The real fun comes when you realize that even if Golden Truth starts ascending through the tag ranks, they’re almost certain to run into the roadblock that is the likely future WWE Tag Team Champions, The Club, and get knocked all the way back down.

http://www.wwe.com/shows/raw/2016-05-30/gallery/usos-vs-breezango-photos#fid-40026795 Source: WWE.com

http://www.wwe.com/shows/raw/2016-05-30/gallery/usos-vs-breezango-photos#fid-40026795 Source: WWE.com

8. Say It Without Words

There’s at least a little irony in Seth Rollins being the silent guy in a feud with a wrestler who everyone has been saying for months should speak as little as possible, but Rollins showed on Raw the power of getting your message across without saying a single word into a microphone. Rollins didn’t make threats, he didn’t whine or complain, heck, he didn’t even touch Roman Reigns. But what he did do was send the clear message that at any second, he could be coming after Reigns, and it was probably going to happen when Reigns least expected it. Rollins had the crowd eating out of his hand, and he did it without saying a thing. Now, if they could only realize that it’s actually possible to be a badass without spending twenty labored minutes explaining yourself, and apply that knowledge to Roman Reigns, we could maybe make some real progress with his character. Also, are we really going to refer to this feud as “The Man vs The Guy”, WWE? You do understand that this might be the lamest set of identifiers since, well, “The Club”, right? Plus, the fact that Reigns himself referred to Rollins as “The Man” and himself as just “The Guy” means that Reigns put himself in the subservient position in this feud. Who would possibly want to be “The Guy” when they could call themselves “The Man”?

http://www.wwe.com/shows/raw/2016-05-30/gallery/roman-reigns-wants-seth-rollins-prove-hes-not-coward-photos#fid-40026809 Source: WWE.com

http://www.wwe.com/shows/raw/2016-05-30/gallery/roman-reigns-wants-seth-rollins-prove-hes-not-coward-photos#fid-40026809 Source: WWE.com

7. Land Of The Free, Home Of The Sucker Punch

You know, we can appreciate that it was Memorial Day, and since for WWE, the Cold War never ended, in their eyes there’s nothing more disrespectful than a dirty foreigner having success over Americans (which admittedly led to a funny joke when Dean Ambrose starting slagging Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho for being Canadian, in front of Sami Zayn), especially when it involves the United States title. And maybe we’re just blinded by the fact that we really like Rusev, who has been fed a metric ton of garbage since losing the US Title to John Cena over a year ago, and somehow continues to make it work. But it seems to us that bringing out Titus O’Neil as a beloved defender of American values, then having him actually sucker punch Rusev out of nowhere, isn’t exactly the message WWE should be sending. We don’t want to go off on a rant here, but “Hitting him back first” isn’t exactly the moral high ground WWE might think it is, and if anything, is a little disrespectful of the American military that O’Neil was invoking when he came out to defend the “Cheese eating cheese whatever you call yourselves” (did we mention we love Rusev’s ability to improvise?) in the audience.

http://www.wwe.com/shows/raw/2016-05-30/gallery/zack-ryder-vs-rusev-photos#fid-40026844 Source: WWE.com

http://www.wwe.com/shows/raw/2016-05-30/gallery/zack-ryder-vs-rusev-photos#fid-40026844 Source: WWE.com

6. They Are Literally Just Naming Cheeses And It’s Awesome

Speaking of cheese, the show was, of course, taking place in Green Bay, Wisconsin (which we will forever pronounce as “Wiscaaaansin” thanks to Phil Hartman’s character on NewsRadio), and it seems like Enzo and Cass decided to challenge themselves to name as many different kinds of cheese as they could as part of their promo. Now, we don’t want to jump any sorts of guns here, but if you can cut a promo where you are basically just reciting a list, and have the crowd hang onto your every word, that’s probably a sign that you should be big stars, sooner rather than later. For other examples, we could look at the lists Steve Austin used to run through when he was generating the infamous “What?” chant, or the number of adjectives that the “pie eating, jabroni beating” Rock likes to use to describe himself, which must be approaching triple digits by now. The point is, Enzo and Cass went out and listed off cheese for five minutes, and made that one of the best parts of the show. That’s a special talent, right there.

http://www.wwe.com/shows/raw/2016-05-30/gallery/enzo-amore-big-cass-vs-dudley-boyz-photos#fid-40026853 Source: WWE.com

http://www.wwe.com/shows/raw/2016-05-30/gallery/enzo-amore-big-cass-vs-dudley-boyz-photos#fid-40026853 Source: WWE.com

5. Cena Actually Gets Pearl Harbored On Memorial Day

There’s some irony in the fact that a segment which opened with AJ Styles and John Cena soaking in dueling chants of adulation for way too long (seriously, did they just forget to script part of the show and told Cena and Styles to kill as much time as they could), highlighting Styles’ incredible and unexpected popularity with the WWE audience (it should be noted that this is the first time since possibly CM Punk that an audience has actually cheered specifically for Cena’s opponent, and not just “Let’s Go Cena/Cena Sucks”), ended with Styles ambushing Cena and revealing that his split with Gallows and Anderson was all just a clever ruse, or at least a temporary disagreement. It was truly shocking and unexpected, and despite the traction Styles had gained as a face, and the fact that it means Balor Club might actually never happen, it was almost certainly a good plan. Styles’ arrogant heel character work is much stronger than his labored face promos, and the best part is, for most of the crowd, it probably doesn’t change much. The section that was predisposed to boo Cena is still going to love Styles no matter what alignment he’s supposed to have, and the same is true for the staunch Cena supporters. And in the bargain, we’ll get at least a couple of months of Styles-Cena matches, which, we have to say, should be pretty awesome. On a night where not much else happened, this was possibly one of the most interesting things to happen on Raw in quite some time.

http://www.wwe.com/shows/raw/2016-05-30/gallery/john-cena-returns-wwe-and-officially-enters-new-era-photos#fid-40026931 Source: WWE.com

http://www.wwe.com/shows/raw/2016-05-30/gallery/john-cena-returns-wwe-and-officially-enters-new-era-photos#fid-40026931 Source: WWE.com

4. The Dominant Female Problem

We don’t want to keep bringing up the major flaw in Stephanie McMahon’s character, which would be the fact that she just can’t seem to stop herself from putting herself in the position of dominating every other person on the roster, but she once again managed to insert herself in an angle that didn’t particularly need her involvement, and ended up making someone look worse as a result. Apparently, Charlotte turfing the increasingly addled Ric Flair last week is now a wrestling crime of the highest level, and the entire roster is flabbergasted that anyone would treat the legendary Ric Flair, who has spent the last several months blatantly interfering in matches and being a general annoyance, in that sort of manner, least of all one of his children (who, arguably, would have legitimate reasons to not be the biggest fan of her absentee parent that only showed up once she was a star). In any event, Stephanie McMahon made sure to verbally dress down Charlotte for her actions in a backstage segment, while Charlotte was forced to stand there as if she’d forgotten the power of speech. This seems like the opposite reaction you’d want from someone who’s supposed to be an arrogant heel who doesn’t care what anyone thinks, which is literally what Charlotte was shown acting like seconds before Stephanie appeared. We’re not even against that speech being given to Charlotte, but couldn’t it have come from someone who might actually fight Charlotte for the Women’s Title at some point, in order to set up a feud, rather than the woman who always gets the upper hand and never, ever, receives comeuppance?

http://whatculture.com/wwe/7-ups-9-downs-from-last-nights-wwe-raw-may-31?page=7 Source: WhatCulture.com

http://whatculture.com/wwe/7-ups-9-downs-from-last-nights-wwe-raw-may-31?page=7 Source: WhatCulture.com

3. What’s In The #Hatch?

So, you may have missed the mysterious #Hatch Twitter campaign that was running on WWE’s social media account leading up to Raw, presenting pictures of a secret bunker being opened up and promising to reveal the answers on Raw. As it turns out, it was just an advertisment for the next edition of the WWE2K video game, featuring Goldberg as free DLC for anyone who pre-orders. Because nothing says “a surprise worth teasing fans with” like the announcement that you can get a wrestler who hasn’t been part of WWE for (prepare to feel old) over twelve years at this point, who has been quite public about the fact that he has no interest in wrestling for WWE again (the video game deal is likely a separate one done through 2K, rather than WWE), and who likely won’t even appear on live WWE TV to promote the video game, which was already a yearly franchise that everyone who cares already knew was coming out this fall anyway. But hey, now you have a reason to pre-order it, so you can spend your money before you find out that the game will probably be missing several features that you actually wanted and in many cases is just a glorified (and probably out of date, by release day) roster update! By the way, never pre-order video games, WWE or otherwise.

http://www.newsclip.com/clip/144406/wwe-2k17-goldberg-spears-his-way-back-into-the-wwe Source: newsclip.com

http://www.newsclip.com/clip/144406/wwe-2k17-goldberg-spears-his-way-back-into-the-wwe Source: newsclip.com

2. Man Gets Hit In Groin

We would really like this feud between Dolph Ziggler and Baron Corbin to be over, because like every Dolph Ziggler feud, it has lasted several matches longer than it needed to and has gone from fresh and interesting to a repetitive slog that seems like someone forgot to write a conclusion to. With that said, Dolph Ziggler spending so much time demanding a “technical wrestling match” in revenge for Corbin hitting him in the crotch, to the point of stealing Chris Jericho’s list of 1,004 moves to make his point, and even donning amateur wrestling headgear and a mouthguard, only to immediately kick Corbin in the naughty bits, get intentionally DQ’d, and look like the smartest man on the planet at that point in time was actually perfect. Sure, it’s a sign that this feud is probably going to continue, and it didn’t make Baron Corbin look like less of a loser with a receding hairline and terrible pants, but like Homer once said, it did have a guy getting hit in the groin.

http://www.wwe.com/shows/raw/2016-05-30/gallery/dolph-ziggler-drops-baron-corbin-photos#fid-40026956 Source: WWE.com

http://www.wwe.com/shows/raw/2016-05-30/gallery/dolph-ziggler-drops-baron-corbin-photos#fid-40026956 Source: WWE.com

1. The Match At The End Of The Show

We wanted to mention the six-man tag between the announced participants in the Money in the Bank match, because they all put in good work and had one of those decent multi-man matches that are usually a staple of Smackdown main events ever since the last brand extension ended. However, just like Smackdown main events, the match didn’t really matter, and was just a way to fill the final twenty minutes of the third hour of a holiday show that almost certainly will come in under three million viewers and drag down the overall rating. That’s incredibly unfair to the talent involved, who should and probably will be a big part of this ‘New Era’, even though it’s understandable that WWE wouldn’t want to waste something important on what was destined to be a low-rated show. In fact, it almost felt like it was a match that was destined to have some sort of surprise happen as the show went off the air (our money would have been on a returning Bray Wyatt declaring his entry into Money in the Bank), which was edited out of the final script once someone suddenly realized that almost nobody would be watching at that point. But, as someone who did watch the match and found it to be both decent and fun, we just wanted to give the six Superstars involved some credit for putting on a good show despite knowing that what they were doing was going to be largely ignored.

http://www.wwe.com/shows/raw/2016-05-30/gallery/dean-ambrose-sami-zayn-cesaro-vs-chris-jericho-kevin-owens-alberto-del#fid-40027003 Source: WWE.com

http://www.wwe.com/shows/raw/2016-05-30/gallery/dean-ambrose-sami-zayn-cesaro-vs-chris-jericho-kevin-owens-alberto-del#fid-40027003 Source: WWE.com

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