Day 194: How Can An Entire Show Be That Bad? [Wrasslin’ For Lunch]
For the record, what follows was supposed to be written yesterday, Tuesday, the day after Raw and also the morning of the unveiling of the god awful IWGP World Heavyweight Title Belt. I understand how short sports news cycles are and that my thoughts no longer align with what people are currently caring about. I missed my opportunity and I’m just going to have to live with that. But I’m going to share my thoughts anyway. which are the same thoughts you also had yesterday morning. There is nothing new to see here. We are the same.
It’s crazy how abusive a relationship with wrestling can be. Some weeks, you’re on cloud nine, as several different promotions do several great things [the first week of January comes to mind]. And then, shortly following that, you’re treated to hours upon hours of mental torture. Last night fell in the latter category. It was a night of wrestling so bad, I wondered why I even cared in the first place. I know that’s a gross overreaction, but what can I say, I feel pretty gross right now. As a whole, Monday Night Raw was cringier than the unaired/unanimated/made-up episode of Doug where he had a wet dream about Beebe Bluff [Maybe that did happen. I didn’t follow the ABC version].
But first, lookit this stupid IWGP World Heavyweight Title Belt!
Back in January, Kota Ibushi won the Heavyweight Title at New Japan Wrestle Kingdom, making him the umpteenth Intercontinental/Heavyweight Dual Champion. He then spent 3 months toying around with the idea of combining the belts and last night, it finally happened. And holy balls, just look at that thing. Ugh. It 1000% seems like the designer wanted to revive the WWE Divas Title Belt, but make it look more like Cody Rhode’s neck tattoo.
They took one of my favorite belts in the business and made it a joke. Ibushi will defend this abomination on April 4th at Sakura Genesis. He’s facing Will Ospreay, who was last seen beating up his girlfriend and chugging Zima. So not only can we not blame Kota Ibushi for ruining two perfectly good belts, we have to root for him.
And then there was Raw. An episode so bad, I have to use bullet points in order to explicate how massive of a failure it was.
– Bobby Lashley has only been champion for a few weeks and they already ruined The Hurt Business. I don’t know what Cedric and Shelton did to Vince, but he’s dropping endless anvils on their heads. First, they lose the tag titles to The New Day in very uneventful fashion. Then, instead of getting a rematch at Wrestlemania, they get hosed completely. The challengers are now AJ Styles and a random guy who’s never wrestled before on TV. They would rather have that on Wrestlemania than the rematch that Cedric and Shelton deserve. And then last week, they’re buried even further by having them lose a handicap match to Drew McIntyre. And last night? They’re kicked out of The Hurt Business. To recap: A few weeks ago, The Hurt Business was one of the strongest stables in the WWE. They had the tag champs and the world champ. Suddenly, it’s just Bobby Lashley, a cane-sporting MVP and…BARON FUCKING CORBIN?!? Yep. Baron Corbin is now on Raw and allegedly a part of The Hurt Business. The worst show on TV just got much, much worse. There was absolutely no reason to kick Shelton and Cedric out right before Wrestlemania. Now they literally have nothing to do. What are they gonna book at the last minute? Them losing in another handicap match to Corbin? Fuck out of here. They punted one of the only good things about Raw.
– The feud between The Miz and Bad Bunny somehow got worse. On Raw, Miz and Morrison unveiled their new “diss track [?]”:
I don’t even understand how it’s a diss track. I don’t even understand why it exists. And I sure as hell don’t understand why they dedicated 4 minutes of TV time to it. Also, it’s a huge fucking insult to all parties involved to have The Miz vs Bad Bunny in a singles match. Damian Priest has shown so much promise in his call-up and now he’s seemingly going to be spending Wrestlemania as a valet for a rapper. I get that Morrison is hurt, but they could’ve had someone else team up with Miz. Maybe some other 2-bit heel that’s also a musician. Hmm. If only they had one of those. Unfortunately, they don’t, because Elias is aligning with Shane McMahon for seemingly no reason.
– I don’t think anybody can say with a straight face that they’re glad Shane McMahon is back. What in the hell happened to him? He used to be the blueprint heel and now he’s slumming it with Elias and that one racist guy everyone hates. His feud with Braun Stroman is mean-spirited, distasteful and lazy. It’s as if someone tried to replicate what Vince Russo would do if he was told to make the most Vince Russo storyline of all time. And it somehow got worse last night. They wasted an immense amount to TV time showing and explaining Braun Stroman’s middle school report card, which was clearly made in MS Paint. You’ve got one of the best heels of all time and a beast of a man that was Universal Champ half a year ago and this is the best they can do. Just over and over calling Braun stupid. Even Elias is becoming visibly confused about how lazy the feud is.
– With the exception of backstage reporter, Kayla Braxton, it took over 2 hours and 15 minutes for them to even show a woman. And when they did, the match lasted 2:20 and ended in a surprise roll-up. After that, they blessed us with even more Women’s content, in the form of a contract signing between Asuka and Rhea Ripley. They signed the contracts immediately. Great job. And then they were greeted by Nia and Shayna, the only other two women’s wrestlers in existence, and they challenged them to a tag title match next week.
They’ve been tag champs for seemingly decades and all they’re given to do is challenge women that are supposed to fight each other. Which I kind of get, because Nia and Shayna hate each other so naturally they want to fight other women that hate each other, but I’m also an idiot. They literally JUST finished a program with Sasha and Bianca to fuel their feud going into WM and now they’re doing it again?!? How is this even being booked?!?
Bruce: Hey Vince, we have the two most popular women facing off at Wrestlemania and we have two months to draw heat, what route should we take?
Vince: Have them fight the cannibal and the hole girl. That’ll sort it out.
Bruce: Okay, so what about Ripley and Asuka?
Vince: Put them against the hole girl and the cannibal.
– And then, if Raw couldn’t possibly get any worse, we have our Main Event:
There’s a lot to unpack here. Despite being a detestable human, they’ve been trying so hard to sell Riddle as a loveable stoner dude. His latest schtick has him going off on non-sensical tangents and having the wrestlers leave off-screen before he’s done. It should be noted that this was Riddle’s 4th appearance of the night, so he was probably a little overworked. Despite the “strength” of his character, he’s still too green to carry that weight. Many would chalk it up as an honest mistake. He forgot his lines and abandoned the segment. But look harder. The line he messed up on was “Do you think scooters are big in Japan?”. What followed in the script could have only ended badly. Mainly because of:
A. The ongoing anti-Asian rhetoric in America that’s now turned into an all-out crisis
B. The ongoing sexual assault lawsuit against him
The man looked down to his crotch, asked if scooters were big in Japan and realized that he still wanted a career after the segment. The only saving grace was Asuka’s perfect reaction to the whole disaster.
I don’t know how they’re going to recover from that segment. I don’t know how they’re going to recover from that episode. I don’t know how they’re going to save Wrestlemania. The only thing I know is that Wade Boggs is well, alive and lurking in the shadows to ensure that the Thunderdome moves the fuck out of Tropicana Field before the Rays season starts.