Sometimes, a thing happens on WWE programming that is so surreal and ridiculous that even those who routinely admonish it take notice. And sometimes, that thing happens to a recently-retired late night TV host beloved by most (well, most liberals, anyway). And so it was last night during Monday Night Raw, when Jon Stewart’s explanation for his actions at SummerSlam (that he did it to protect Ric Flair’s record of 16 world titles, which brought out the Nature Boy himself to the delight of both the crowd and Stewart) fell to the deaf ears of Mr. Brrrabadoo himself, John Cena.
Jon may have screwed John, but Cena always gets the last laugh on WWE:
Yes, that is professional wrestler/perfect human specimen John Cena hitting an Attitude Adjustment on dadbod enthusiast Jon Stewart. Putting aside how well Stewart actually sold the AA (even if Cena gently guided him on his way down to the mat), that’s not a sentence anyone ever expected to read about WWE.
Of course, to say it was the most unexpected thing to happen in a WWE ring this year, let alone last night, would be a false statement. That’s because Raw was a fever dream of debuts and returns, none more shocking than the first one: the goddamn Dudley Boyz. “The most decorated team in WWE history,” as JBL kept calling them ad nauseum, showed up and took the New Day to the woodshed, especially poor Xavier Woods, who took both the diving headbutt to the nuts and the 3D:
D-Von definitely got the table there. Elsewhere, “Braun Stowman” debuted as the terrifyingly large new 3rd member of the Wyatt Family (#neverforget Erick Rowan), no-selling Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose’s attempts to fight him off. Call this cautious optimism, but his look combined with his clearly superhuman strength (he was a strongman in a previous life) signals good things in his future. At the very least, he’s the first person to destroy Roman Reigns since Brock Lesnar did at Wrestlemania 31.
Finally, in the closing segment of the show, a Vigilante appeared:
Getting all of the “that’s not Sting, that’s a statue of Sting” jokes out of the way, it’s interesting to see The Icon paired up with Seth Rollins (we now know from a post-Raw promo that they will face off at September’s Night of Champions PPV for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship); if anyone can carry old-ass Sting to a good match, it’s Rollins. As long as Triple H doesn’t rub his big schnoz into this feud by burying Sting re: their match at WrestleMania, this could be an exciting turn of events that’s desperately needed for the usual autumn doldrums that WWE faces every year. Stay tuned.
It wasn’t all fun and games last night, however: the worst moment on Raw came, unfortunately, during the women’s three-on-three match between Team Bella and PCB. As the women had their purposeless match (more on this in a second), the crowd decided that it had had enough and went into business for themselves, starting all sorts of asinine chants (including the irritating “CM Punk” chant) and even doing the dreaded wave-into-”we are awesome”-chant combo:
I believe that this is a mixture of a few toxic things that have happened in WWE in recent memory. First off, the “phenomenon” of a crowd trying to get itself over isn’t new, but gained steam with all of the highly-praised post-WrestleMania crowds, which are filled with fans who want to enjoy a good show and are not afraid to go off the rails when they don’t get it. It’s so prevalent now that last night’s disaster wasn’t even the worst one this year; that honor goes to the post-Mania crowd from this year, that yelled misogynistic “you suck [wrestler boyfriend/husband]” chants at AJ Lee, Nikki Bella, and her sister Brie.
However, it’s unfair to completely blame the Brooklyn crowd. What was made evident last night is that WWE fans are ready for the next step of the Divas Revolution and they want it now. Notice that the chants first started in the “We Want Sasha” variety, a call for the woman they see as the standard-bearer of the so-called “new and improved” Divas division. It’s not a coincidence that this all happened after her classic match against Bayley on Saturday, and after she was barely involved in the trios elimination match at SummerSlam.
While the crowd could definitely aim their frustrations at WWE instead of at the women trying to put on a good show (why not chant “We want Sasha” during the generic 8-man tag main event?), it’s understandable that they have lost interest in these no-stakes matches between admittedly-talented women and also Brie Bella. A call for Sasha isn’t so much a call for The Boss, specifically; it’s a call for what she has represented. The true Divas Revolution, with meaningful characters having meaningful matches that go a meaningful amount of time. WWE can still fix this by giving them a real story and a purpose; until then, the wave will have to do.
Oh, and also, Brock Lesnar was there and did this to poor Bo Dallas:
The New Day defeated the Lucha Dragons by pinfall