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    Wednesday, March 30, 2016

    The Smark Henry RAW Report (3/28/16): Fearless Forecasts

    Well, here we are again…

    No, that wasn’t meant to be a segue to a Peter Cetera song, but that was supposed to signal the fact that we’re finally at WrestleMania Week! It took us a good long while to get here, but we made it.

    Now, I just got back from my quick trip to across the pond, and I’ll be writing about my wrestling pilgrimage in London very soon, but the more important business is at hand since the go-home RAW right before WrestleMania is in the books! And since the card for ‘Mania is finally set in stone, then I can finally sit down and do some proper predictions, so allow me to unleash several fearless forecasts:

    Kickoff Match: Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal

    It’s a 20-man clusterfuck, which doesn’t say a lot about the importance of this match. Now that it’s in its third year, I realize that having a special commemorative battle royal at WrestleMania isn’t all that special, particularly because these guys aren’t really fighting for anything other than the trophy, which means jack shit. Nobody’s excited for this match; and there aren’t any huge stories that follow any of the guys involved. Sure, Golden Truth is a nice little angle, and so are the #SocialOutcasts trying to be cute. But honestly, who gives a shit?

    Prediction: Big Show wins for a second straight time.

    Dark Horse Pick: Mark Henry wins to kick off his “Thank You” run.

    Darker Dark Hose Pick: Titus O’Neil returns to win it. LOLJK

    Kickoff Match: The Usos vs. The Dudley Boyz

    I can’t believe it took Creative this long to write the Dudleyz in as henchmen for Triple H. They could have done it as soon as the Dudley Boyz turned heel, since there was the obvious connection between the Usos and Roman Reigns. Plus, it would have made even more sense after Roman started taking on the Dudleyz individually in singles matches over the last week.

    All that being said, this feud failed to get me invested in either team. I wanted to see something more out of the Dudleyz other than them being hypocrites about their use of tables. There was a little bit of a mean streak in there, but they didn’t get to unleash that enough during the Road to WrestleMania. I wanted them to be epitome of bullies, who really made life hell for the Usos. As for the twins, I still don’t care enough to tell them apart, and that says a lot about how poorly their characters have been developed after all these years.

    Prediction: The Usos win.

    Kickoff Match: The Total Divas (Paige, Brie Bella, Natalya, Alicia Fox, and Eva Marie) vs. Team B.A.D. and Blonde (Naomi, Tamina, Lana, Emma, and Summer Rae)

    Yay! Another clusterfuck!

    More importantly, this sad match is a sobering reminder of how inasmuch as WWE has achieved a lot with women’s wrestling through the likes of the Four Horsewomen, they still have a lot of work to do with developing the other Divas on their roster. The fact that they couldn’t even be bothered to write a better story for these ten ladies says a lot about how much they care about the Divas Division as a whole.

    I’ll give props to Team Total Divas, though, for having the self-awareness to be shocked and disgusted that their mystery partner turned out to be Eva Marie, who didn’t have her own sense of self-awareness to realize that her team didn’t want her to be part of it. Their interactions after Eva Marie’s run-in made for a whole lot of laughs, as did Dave Meltzer’s report that WWE was apparently shocked that Brooklyn also booed Eva Marie because the powers that be thought that booing her was just an “NXT thing.”

    Oh, and can someone explain to me how and why Lana and Summer Rae are friends now?

    Prediction: Team B.A.D. and Blonde wins with Brie Bella taking the pinfall since she’s on her way out. Happy trails, Mrs. Danielson.

    Kickoff Match: Ryback vs. Kalisto (c) for the WWE United States Championship

    I, for one, am pretty sad that this match isn’t even on the main card because this story, while it was simple, actually made sense and had enough momentum heading into Dallas. I’m a fan of Ryback’s transformation from cookie-cutter babyface to condescending and patronizing big man, especially towards the Diminutive Dynamo.

    David vs. Goliath is a classic trope in wrestling, but when written properly, it can make for a great angle, which they could have capitalized on for WrestleMania during the main show. Whether or not Kalisto retains isn’t important. What matters will be how both men’s wrestling styles clash, and how their big-small dynamic plays out. Don’t expect this feud to end at ‘Mania, but do expect to see Kalisto giving Ryback his comeuppance via a surprise victory.

    Prediction: Kalisto retains via small package/rollup.

    The New Day vs. The League Of Nations

    This “Battle for Supremacy” does not make sense since the Tag Team Championships aren’t even on the line. What’s worse is that WWE hasn’t made the League of Nations look credible at all during the buildup. They had one last chance to do it during the go-home RAW before WrestleMania, and yet, the League still found themselves outsmarted by the New Day, which is stupid because the numbers advantage should have trumped any tactics the New Day would have employed.

    That being said, traditional WWE booking will tell you that the League of Nations could very well win here. And they should. Even if the goal is to elevate the New Day as sympathetic babyfaces, you can very well accomplish that by having the LoN unleash such a hellacious beating by finally using the numbers to their advantage. This is also the only way to restore any modicum of credibility for Rusev, Barrett, Sheamus, and Del Rio.

    Prediction: The League of Nations wins.

    Ladder Match for the Intercontinental Championship: Sin Cara vs. Zack Ryder vs. Stardust vs. The Miz vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens (c)

    I’m finally over my initial frustration that Creative didn’t go for Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens straight up after Lucha Underground reviewer Anthony Cuello reminded me that WWE didn’t do what it could to emphasize Zayn and Owens’ 15-year history through video packages. Those videos could have gotten mainstream and casual fans to get invested behind a feud between the two, but since we couldn’t get that, then this ladder match is fine.

    Don’t be surprised to see Zayn and Owens to go right at it when the bell rings. Sin Cara is also bound to provide some highlights using the ladder, as are Dolph Ziggler and Stardust. I’m actually happy and excited for Zack Ryder to be (1) on the main show again for the first time since WrestleMania 28 and (2) actually competing for a singles title. I hope the rumors about Vince being impressed with Ryder’s attitude are true, because this could very well be the start of something new for our favorite broski. As for the Miz, I have no doubt in his capability of putting on a solid showing. But honestly, all I really want to see in this match are Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens making wonderful music with ladders and each other.

    If Kevin Owens wins, it’ll be through his cunning use of the environment and the other participants. But the multi-man match format is also a good way of taking the title off Owens without making him look weak in the process. That means it’s anybody’s ball game, but something tells me Owens is retaining, and that’s okay because there will still be a vocal section of the crowd cheering if KO raises that championship once more at the end of the match as the winner.

    Prediction: Kevin Owens retains.

    AJ Styles vs. Chris Jericho

    It’s great to see Vicious Heel Jericho once again, but he’s also added a nice little envious side to the character, especially when the WWE Universe chants for AJ Styles. The Phenomenal One will undoubtedly put on a show since this is his first WrestleMania, and Jericho’s also the type of performer who never fails to shine on this big of a stage. Needless to say, we can expect another great outing from both men, but what I want to know is what else have these two not given us throughout their series of matches?

    Will AJ Styles finally pin Jericho with the Styles Clash? Will we even see the Styles Clash? Will Jericho win at ‘Mania and force a fifth winner-take-all match at Payback? (I don’t want that last bit to happen, honestly.)

    I just want AJ to finally move on from Jericho after WrestleMania so he can start chasing championships. It’s just a bit sad that this match didn’t even have a stipulation after all of the matches they’ve had since Fastlane.

    Prediction: AJ Styles wins.

    Triple Threat Match for the Divas Championship: Becky Lynch vs. Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte (c)

    I’ve said previously in this space that it will be much better for the entire Divas Division and for the Divas Championship if Charlotte were to retain the title at ‘Mania and go on an even better run defending her championship and having a reign that eclipses Nikki Bella’s in length. That way, whoever finally beats Charlotte one-on-one for the title gets a huge rub for being the one to actually end Baby Flair’s championship run. That’s actually a bigger moment than having either Becky or Sasha win the championship at WrestleMania because by then, the odyssey will have been longer and Charlotte will have been such a strong champion, provided that the quality of her title defenses will also have been consistently solid.

    But I don’t trust WWE to think that far ahead, especially given the Divas Division. Besides, the feel-good moment is the low-hanging fruit that will garner a definite pop at ‘Mania, so expect either Becky or Sasha to walk away with the gold. My heart wants me to pick Becky as the winner, but we all know Sasha’s most probably going to win the Divas Championship. It helps that her cousin, Snoop Dogg, is getting inducted into the Hall of Fame this weekend.

    Prediction: Sasha Banks wins the Divas Championship.

    Second Prediction: Ric Flair finally gets ejected from a match.

    No Holds Barred Street Fight: Dean Ambrose vs. Brock Lesnar

    I was disappointed that a third legend didn’t appear this week to pass on a third weapon to Deano. Haven’t these writers heard of the Rule of Threes?! They could have gotten Fit Finlay to do a short spiel with his shillelagh, or even William Regal to let Dean inherit the brass knuckles. What an opportunity they passed over right there.

    But that’s okay because this match is still one of the top two matches that people will be looking forward to. I’ve been pretty impressed with Ambrose’s character development, especially the way they had him remain silent while effectively sending a message to Brock Lesnar on RAW this week. I’m glad they’re finally doing something meaningful with Ambrose after all the start-and-stop pushes he’s had since the Shield’s breakup.

    Whether or not Dean Ambrose wins, his stock will rise from having worked with Brock Lesnar. If Ambrose loses, he goes down in a blaze of glory, having pulled out all the stops to slay the Beast only to fail, but he’ll look like a hell of a warrior in defeat. If Ambrose wins, he’s the chosen one to have gotten the Rub of Rubs. After all, Lesnar is the 1 in 21-1. There honestly is no greater victory right now than to be the guy who finally defeats Brock Lesnar one-on-one.

    However, I don’t think it’s the time to pass on the Rub of Rubs just yet. I’ll be happy to be wrong, though, but Lesnar’s still winning this. And you know what, ultimately, that’s okay.

    Prediction: Brock Lesnar wins.

    WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match: Roman Reigns vs. Triple H (c)

    We’ve said this over and over again on this site: Roman Reigns is winning this match, no matter how much you dislike him (myself included) and no matter how dissatisfied you’ve been with his push.

    The only question about this match is whether or not they actually pull the trigger on a Roman Reigns heel turn either during the match or during Roman’s title run.

    Prediction: Roman Reigns wins the WWE Championship, but a double turn takes place mid-match.

    Hell In A Cell Match: Shane McMahon vs. The Undertaker

    This will be the true main event of WrestleMania Star, and I’m predicting that this match will actually go on last, especially if WWE doesn’t want the show to end with fans raining down a torrent of boos mercilessly upon BBYGURL Reigns.

    I don’t even want to imagine the crazy stunts Shane McMahon is planning for this match because I’m sure he’ll come up with something none of us will call at all. He could very well usher in Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson as his mercenaries for the match, and that’ll be great! Or Shane could give Taker one hell of a fight, earn the Deadman’s respect in the process, leading to the Phenom laying down for Shane for the greater good.

    Imagine that.

    Then again, it’s entirely possible for a Brand Split to still happen and for Shane to still take part in a power struggle even if Shane were to lose at WrestleMania. I don’t think this is Taker’s final WrestleMania, and he’s certainly not retiring even if he were to lose. After all, the words were, “if the Undertaker loses, this will be his final WrestleMania.” Too many possibilities, too many semantics, too many options!

    I’ll just stick with a prediction I made, lest I look stupid on The Wrestling Gods, which airs on FOX Philippines starting this Friday, April 1, 2016, and will replay all throughout next week right before every airing of RAW, SmackDown, and WrestleMania itself!

    Prediction: The Undertaker wins.


    And there you have it, my official WrestleMania Star predictions. The rest of the Smark Henry team will gather around the Ruthless Roundtable and offer up theirs this Friday, as well. What do you think will happen at this year’s WrestleMania?

    And more importantly, will you be attending our WrestleMania weekend viewing parties? The NXT Takeover: Dallas viewing party is happening on Saturday, April 2, at 10 AM at Wingman UP Town Center! Come join us as we witness Finn Balor vs. Samoa Joe for the NXT Championship and the WWE in-ring debuts of Austin Aries and Shinsuke Nakamura! To find out more, click here!

    We’ll also see you on Monday, April 4, at Skinny Mike’s Sports Bar for our WrestleMania Star Live Viewing Party! The Kickoff starts as early as 5 AM, so it’s really up to you if you want to wake up before the sun even peeks out. But we’ll all be there, and we can’t wait to see you there with us! For more info, click here! Here’s to hoping we get a repeat of this.

    Photos from WWE and WhatCulture.


    Stan Sy (@_StanSyis the Editor at Large of Smark Henry, and is also a radio DJ, an events host, a freelance writer, and one of the hosts of the Smark Gilas-Pilipinas Podcast. He enjoys watching WWE, NXT, Lucha Underground, and the occasional New Japan match. Every now and then, he dresses up in fancy suits to book matches as PWR's longest-tenured General Manager to date.
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    Item Reviewed: The Smark Henry RAW Report (3/28/16): Fearless Forecasts Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Stan Sy
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