I could lead by talking about any of the SmackDown talent who showed up on Raw. I could talk about Roman Reigns’ storyline justification for being on Raw, or Daniel Bryan’s extremely-welcome return to WWE, or Kofi Kingston’s awesome confidence to get in Bryan’s face.
But none of those things were as noteworthy to me as how absolutely bat-shit crazy Vince McMahon was during this episode. Reigns interrupted the boss to start the show, and Vince did his usual “who the hell do you think you are?” routine. He was similarly apoplectic when Bryan made his arrival, and looked lost when Kofi came out to run down Bryan for running to Vince instead of discussing things face to face.
But then...Vince had an “epiphany.” No, it couldn’t be that WWE was completely out of control and wrestlers were showing up whenever and wherever they wanted. No...it was Vince’s idea all along! And he’s calling it the Wild Card Rule!
...I’m speechless, man. I’m so damn speechless. On any given week, 4 Raw or SmackDown Live Superstars can show up on whatever show they please, thereby rendering the Superstar Shakeup fairly useless. And you could complain about that, I suppose, but it’s just funnier to me to act like Vince’s absolutely lost his freaking mind and that this is all storyline.
Hell, I hope that’s actually the story moving forward.
Have Vince start booking matches for wrestlers who no longer work in WWE. Have him walking around backstage ranting about that “damned Stone Cold.” Have him come out to the ring on a random Monday and challenge Mother Nature or Father Time to a 2 out of 3 falls match. If we’re going to do crazy things...folks. Let’s go off the deep end with it.
Anyway, two SmackDown Superstars main evented Raw and put on a hell of a match. Kofi and Bryan rock, but the sheer absurdity of the fact that 3 SmackDown guys were in the two biggest matches on Raw is telling. Not a good sign towards the health of the show, is it?
Fun House theorycrafting
The Firefly Fun House has been my favorite part of Raw for the past few weeks. And yes, it’s not a good sign when the most interesting part of your program is a 2-3 minute video, but it is what it is. The point here is that it’s fun, and I’d much rather talk about fun things than...not fun things.
So! On this episode of the Fun House, Mercy the Buzzard ate our new friend Rambling Rabbit. He justified his actions by saying that he “despised” Rambling Rabbit for trying to force his “Bohemian world views and ideologies” onto Mercy. Considering that statement and Rambling Rabbit’s name, I think it’s fair to say that it’s an allusion to the old Bray Wyatt. It’s also completely in the nature of a buzzard, isn’t it? To feast upon something dead.
Now, what’s funny about this is this new, sweatered Bray’s reaction to the carnage. He said that expressing yourself however you’d like is perfectly fine, even if it means ripping Rambling Rabbit to shreds; in fact, you can be forgiven for your actions!
And then we cut to a picnic with Bray cradling a sheep, kneeling behind several children all sitting on the floor with unhappy/bored looks on their faces, which is uh... a very striking image to close with, to say the very least.
To me, it feels like we’re in some sort of dreamscape, some form of limbo where Bray’s delusions and visions of grandeur are clashing. If the old Bray is dead, for example, why are we in a children’s show where he’s trying to cultivate a following of children/sheep once again?
It’s madness. Weird, creepy madness. I’m totally here for it.
Roman Reigns def. Drew McIntyre via DQ – A good match, which you’d expect between these two. The story here, though, was Shane McMahon coming in to break up the pin and then getting chased off by The Miz. The chase continued backstage with Shane ducking and hiding behind a wall before getting ambushed by investigative journalist Charly Caruso and her video team. They kept filming as Shane scurried down a flight of stairs and had a cool shot from above as Miz and Shane brawled. I thought this was a pretty creative bit; WWE could do with more stuff like that.
Baron Corbin, Bobby Lashley def. Seth Rollins, AJ Styles - Ugh...god. I really don’t look forward to Baron Corbin bragging about pinning Seth Rollins. I really, really don’t want to watch it. Please don’t make me.
This was another one of Vince’s hair-brained moments. AJ and Seth were at each other’s throats to begin the show, and Vince had the bright idea to pair them up for a match. Shocker: it didn’t go well.
I like how heated this feud’s gotten. I think we need a big moment next week to seal the deal, but this was better than last week.
Sami Zayn gets dumped – Zayn was complaining about how we always complain because we’re pathetic, essentially, when Braun Strowman came out and chased him off. He then threw Zayn into a dumpster, which would then picked up by a garbage truck and tossed into the back of the truck.
The highlights of this were Zayn throwing random small objects at Strowman to try to stop him and Strowman’s less-than-a-second urge to stop the truck from tossing Zayn in the back before throwing his hands up in defeat. Too much trouble.
RSVP, you nasties! - Lacey Evans sending out hand-written, scented invitations is such an awesome character-building moment. WWE could stand to do plenty more like this in the future. Essentially, she wanted all the women’s ladder match contestants at ringside to see her destroy some local talent. She then talked down to them before Becky Lynch came out to run her off.
I wish we could have gotten a bigger brawl here, but it’s fine.
Lucha House Party def. Local Talent – This happened, and I don’t remember a single moment of it.
Ricochet def. Robert Roode – Alright Cageside, let’s have a discussion here. Amazing though it may be, a mustache doth not a wrestler make. This newfound “Robert Roode” so far is the exact same guy as Bobby Roode in NXT. If WWE wants to make this work, they have to do more with Robert than simply having him show up and wrestle. The story here is that Roode wanted a shot to steal Ricochet’s ladder match spot, but was unsuccessful.
Samoa Joe has a message for Dominic – I liked this. Joe’s so paranoid and takes every single thing as a personal affront. He ran down Dominic for being happy for his father and told him to deliver a message to Rey Mysterio: Joe’s looking forward to his title defense at Money in the Bank.
The Viking Raiders def. Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder – Man, there’s just no momentum at all for either of these teams. The NXT fellas defeated the Raw tag champs, but you couldn’t tell by the crowd reaction.
Ucey Hot – I really would rather not go down the rabbit’s hole of “WWE is embarrassing The Revival on purpose.” It is what it is, or it isn’t what it isn’t. Who knows, really. But with that said, I admire them so much for how committed they were to this bit. I would hate having to act like an idiot on international television, pantomiming having some Icy Hot on my groin, and yet Scott Dawson’s out here dragging his ass across the mat. Standing ovation, fellas.
Now...does that mean this is the sort of stuff I’d want to watch them doing? Of course not. But I don’t think I have any control over that, funnily enough.
Lars Sullivan: Still my jam – Another “Wild Card Rules” feature on Raw, and Lars absolutely decimated No Way Jose and his conga line. Him growling “you’re dead” before lifting a dude and throwing him into the ring post was fantastic.
I don’t even know how to grade this mess anymore. Raw wasn’t horrible or anything. In fact, I’d even say that it was interesting; I’ll give them that.
But...it’s interesting because of weird stuff. The most engaging segment is consistently the Firefly Fun House. It’s interesting because of the War Raiders/Viking Raiders train wreck. It’s interesting because of weird stuff like this new Wild Card rule. I don’t know, man.
Let me put it this way: If SmackDown hadn’t been a part of this show, it’s probably another D. Raw still has massive problems. Perhaps I’ll write a list of them later in the week. Sound like a decent idea to you, Cageside?