The year isn’t even halfway done yet, but as early as now, many WWE fans and wrestling analysts are referring to this week’s Monday Night Raw segment where Sami Zayn interviewed Bobby Lashley’s “sisters” as the worst angle of the year. This longtime fan can’t say he disagrees with that assessment.
As recapped by Bleacher Report, the segment was part of last night’s episode of Monday Night Raw, and continued the ongoing storyline between Zayn and Lashley, as the former had promised to bring the latter’s sisters out for an interview on the long-running show’s May 14 episode. But instead of interviewing Lashley’s real-life sisters, whom the returning WWE Superstar had notably referenced in a previous sit-down interview with Renee Young, Zayn brought out three men – all independent wrestlers from the Albany, New York area, per Wrestling Inc. – dressed up as women, and playing the roles of Cathy, Frances, and Jessica Lashley.
Commenting on the angle where Bobby Lashley’s “sisters” claimed that he had bullied them while they were growing up, only for Lashley to confront Zayn and the impostors and beat them all down, Bleacher Report referred to it as a “poor excuse at terrible humor,” and one that left the Zayn vs. Lashley feud worse off than it was before this week’s episode of Raw. WrestleCrap, a publication that has a yearly “Gooker” award for the year’s worst wrestling angle, storyline, or gimmick, quipped via Facebook that the “2018 Gooker vote has been canceled.” And fans from all over the world took to Twitter to complain about what might have been the worst angle of 2018, and in some cases, the worst angle in Monday Night Raw’s 25-year history.
Considering all the cringeworthy things WWE has presented to its fans, or its “WWE Universe,” dating back to the time Vince McMahon took over the company from his father in the early 1980s, it’s hard to say if the Bobby Lashley “sisters” angle is the worst of all-time or the worst in Raw history. But if compared to recent clunkers such as Alexa Bliss’ “Bayley, This is Your Life” segment and Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson’s New Day-baiting “Old Day” skit, Zayn’s interview with three male wrestlers impersonating Lashley’s real-life siblings arguably makes those two segments look like The Nexus’ violent takeover of Monday Night Raw in 2010, or CM Punk’s now-legendary “pipe bomb” promo from a year later.
As noted by Cageside Seats, there are many reasons why the angle was so problematic, including, but not limited to the racial stereotypes portrayed, and how it might have “[encouraged] the mocking (and worse) of trans people.” It was an awkward and uncomfortable angle with a lot of forced humor involved, and a lot of WWE fans saw it in a similar way. But as part of a wrestling storyline, it didn’t do any of the two main parties any favors. While Zayn played his heel role to perfection, fans weren’t sure how to react to this latest dastardly deed of his. Lashley, on the other hand, wasn’t cheered as loudly as WWE might have expected, when he attacked Zayn and the three male indy wrestlers playing his “sisters.”
If WWE wants to build Sami Zayn up as a top-tier villain and wants Bobby Lashley, who recently returned to the company after over a decade away, to look like a credible threat to Universal Champion Brock Lesnar, the “sisters” angle was not the way to do it. Through no fault of theirs, Zayn is still miles away from being Monday Night Raw’s top bad guy, while Lashley’s return has continued to underwhelm. Meanwhile, WWE has just presented a dated, awkward, and lazily written segment, and while it might be easy for fans to take offense to it due to the racial stereotyping and cross-dressing, its biggest insult could be the one generally directed at the intelligence of wrestling fans.