As I know all too well, writing a three-hour episode of "Raw" 52 weeks a year is a daunting task. Not every show is going to be good. Some will flat-out stink.
That brings us to the June 4 edition of "Raw." If you smelled what WWE was cooking that night, hopefully you had some air freshener close by. Watching three hours of Great Khali matches would've been more exciting than this borefest.
OK, that's an exaggeration, but the show was neither compelling nor entertaining, and the head-scratching booking in several instances was a contributing factor.
Here's a look at some of the lowlights:
Ronda Rousey - Nia Jax - Natalya angle
First of all, Rousey's performance on commentary during the Jax versus Natalya match was horrible. Rousey had little to say and much of what she did say was unintelligible.
In one particularly awkward exchange, Rousey was asked to comment on Jax saying that Rousey is ripe for the picking. "Ripe for the picking is something only my husband calls me," she mumbled. The show immediately went to a commercial break, and when it returned, Rousey was asked the same question, and she gave the exact same response. Did the powers that be think they were already in the commercial break the first time she said it? It's not like the line was so good that it was worth repeating.
Rousey was curt the entire time she was on commentary, which again proved she is a natural heel. The only times Rousey has come off as likeable in WWE are when she's had Stephanie McMahon as an antagonist.
The main problem with the angle was the booking of Jax's character. After seemingly turning heel last week, Jax was all smiles on this episode and showed what appeared to be genuine concern for Natalya, who suffered a knee injury (in the storyline) during their match. I kept waiting for Jax to attack Natalya and/or Rousey from behind, but it didn't happen. Rousey, meanwhile, was a real jerk to Jax for no reason. It's not like Jax intentionally injured Natalya; it was a freak accident in which Natalya twisted her knee running the ropes.
The way this came off has me wondering if an audible was called after last week's show and the decision was made to turn Rousey heel instead of Jax. If that's not the case, then none of this made any sense.
Sami Zayn promo on Bobby Lashley
It almost as if Vince McMahon saw the harsh criticism from wrestling fans and pundits on social media about the segment with Zayn and Lashley's "sisters" from the May 21 episode of "Raw" and said, "If you think that was bad, wait until you get a load of this, pal."
In actuality, the Zayn-Lashley segment on this week's show was an improvement. The bit with Lashley's "sisters" was one of the worst segments on "Raw" in some time; the interaction between Zayn and Lashley this week was merely run-of-the-mill bad.
Having Zayn mock Lashley's motivational quotes on social media wasn't a great premise to begin with, but listening to Zayn go on and on about it was painful. It didn't put heat on Zayn; it just made me want to turn the channel.
As for Lashley, he's back to being the same smiling, bland babyface he was during his disappointing first WWE run a decade ago. It's especially disappointing because Lashley really hit his stride in the ring and on the microphone as a cocky, badass heel in TNA the past few years.
Constable Baron Corbin
Even though the last thing "Raw" needs is another authority figure, I do think Corbin will be good in his new role as constable. The problem on this episode was that Corbin, a heel, was fair-minded, while babyface general manager Kurt Angle was willing to allow the babyfaces to bend the rules.
During the six-woman tag match that pitted Sasha Banks, Ember Moon and Alexa Bliss against The Riott Squad, Biss feigned an injury early in the contest and walked out on her partners, leaving them at a three-on-two disadvantage. When Banks and Moon were in peril, Bayley inserted herself in the match and scored the winning pin for the babyfaces.
It was inexplicable that the referee would allow Bayley into the match and even more inexplicable that Angle would allow the decision to stand -- until Corbin challenged him on it, that is. Banks, Moon and Bayley also looked bad for celebrating such a tainted victory and then pouting about it after the decision was reversed.
Talk about backward booking.
Tag-team battle royal
As soon as I saw that the team of Drew McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler was in the match to determine the next challengers to Raw tag-team champions Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt, I was certain they were going to win it. The only other team that might've been considered a serious contender was The Revival, but they have been significantly marginalized. The rest of the field consisted of The B-Team (Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas), Heath Slater and Rhyno, Breezango, Titus Worldwide and The Ascension.
Shockingly, McIntyre and Ziggler were the first team eliminated. It came down to The B-Team and Slater and Rhyno, with The B-Team winning. Axel and Dallas are entertaining as a mid-card comedy act, but they don't belong in the title picture. And just who are the fans supposed to root for in the upcoming title match? Is it lovable losers Axel and Dallas or popular odd couple Hardy and Wyatt?
It's mind-boggling why WWE would put McIntyre and Ziggler in the match if they weren't going to win. WWE had been doing a very good job of making these two seem special since they joined forces in April, but this was a big step backward.
The good thing is that McIntyre, who has major upside, was protected, as it was Ziggler who was thrown over the top rope, thus causing his team to be eliminated. If this is the first step to McIntyre turning on Ziggler and going out on his own, then their early exit from the match makes more sense. McIntyre did not seem too pleased with his partner during a
Kevin Owens - Finn Balor main event
Owens is one of my favorite performers in WWE and the match between him and Balor certainly wasn't bad, but after sitting through a lackluster show for more than two-and-a-half hours, a nearly 20-minute match with nothing at stake didn't help matters.
It would've been better if this match had gone on first and the show-opening bout pitting Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins against Jinder Mahal and Elias was in the main event slot. The latter match had more star power as well as more heated personal issues between the competitors.