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    Wednesday, June 15, 2016

    The Smark Henry RAW Report (6/13/16): That Makes Sense

    I’ve been bitching about Shane McMahon since the second RAW after WrestleMania, because he remained on RAW despite having lost to the Undertaker and the stipulation that entailed. WWE just kept reinforcing that Shane was there to stay for one reason or another, mostly confusing and annoying us fans in the process. I don’t want to do that, which is why I’ll just be upfront: this is really the last RAW review I’ll be writing on this space in the foreseeable future.

    I was told this week that my writing duties for Sports Illustrated Philippines are to begin as soon as possible, which is why I’ll have to let go of this column by next week and do my musings about RAW over there. But that day is not today! So how about we do this one last time?


    Sitting through a three-hour show like RAW is never easy, but it does become more bearable when the show makes sense as a whole. This week’s episode accomplished that for the most part because Creative booked matches that—gasp!—actually mean something!

    It doesn’t take a lot of effort to set up a match with a backstory. Take for example, the Sheamus/Zack Ryder match. They already established that Sheamus was pissed at Apollo Crews, and that Ryder delighted in the Celtic Warrior getting punked out backstage on SmackDown. So all they did this week was to reference that, and then have Sheamus bully Zack Ryder backstage to reinforce the tension. That made the match have more meaning just because you knew Sheamus had a score to settle with Ryder. Sure, Ryder didn’t come away looking like a million bucks unlike his match with Alberto Del Rio on Main Event, but you got the idea that Sheamus is an asshole and you wanted to see Apollo make the save and kick Sheamus’ arse.

    Cesaro vs. Sami Zayn was another match that made sense because for starters, hardcore fans would have noticed the callback to the rivalry between these two dating back to NXT in 2013-14. But for newer fans, both superstars made an effort to set the table by talking about their friendship and how Cesaro believes that Sami still has to prove himself on the main roster. Having Cesaro act patronizing towards Zayn lit that fire to make him want to stick it to the Swiss Superman during their match, and that’s what made their match—and Sami’s subsequent victory—more meaningful.

    And then you have the tag match between Kevin Owens and Alberto Del Rio against the Lucha Dragons. That one needed a bit of effort to set up, but it came about naturally, too. Sure, Shane and Corporate Kane—who we all didn’t realize we missed—could have chosen a more believable pair of opponents to steal KO and ADR’s respective spots. But the match itself was competitive enough that for a split second, you would have believed that Kalisto y Sin Cara were going to qualify for the MITB Ladder Match.

    Even the Divas match between Paige and Charlotte served a purpose in moving stories forward because it teased actual tension between the Women’s Champion and Dana Brooke. Now, you’ve put this idea into the viewers’ heads that Dana might actually turn on Charlotte at Money in the Bank. This episode goes to show that you don’t need a tournament or a whole night of contender’s matches to make RAW interesting. All you need is logical storytelling through properly executed backstage vignettes as setups for your matches. Or you could just make sure that whatever story the matches told, they’re able to push a larger story going forward.

    Now if WWE can actually make that happen for one show, why can’t they make that happen on a consistent basis? And why can’t they give Baron Corbin and Dolph Ziggler some time to flesh their story out?

    Quick Hitters

    • I’m a self-confessed Roman Reigns hater, but even I have to admit that his promo this week on the Ambrose Asylum was quite possible his best yet. That was the first time I actually felt Roman’s honest-to-goodness sincerity as a guy who was hurt by the betrayal of his former friend. You’ve got to give the devil his due: he’s improving and he just has to maintain that level as he goes along.

    • Seth Rollins was just as good this week, roping people in only to turn on them yet again. You can tell that Rollins is really trying as hard as he can to get the WWE Universe to hate him. If only we lived in a world where Rollins didn’t have to do that.

    • Call this a fearless forecast, but after the Ambrose Asylum imploded this week, Dean Ambrose is the frontrunner to be Mr. Money in the Bank. We’re seeing the foundation for that Shield triple threat being laid down in front of our very eyes, people.

    • The Club has looked dominant in recent weeks, even standing tall at the end of their 8-man tag match this week, and you can tell they’re the most likely to walk out of Las Vegas as your new Tag Team Champions. This isn’t a bad move, actually, because it refreshes the tag division, while making the New Day the babyface challengers who chase after the gold after having held it for so long.

    • How the fuck can you reconcile the image of the Undertaker typing up a recommendation letter?

    • Now that they’ve brought it up, can we please have Corporate Kane back? I really enjoyed seeing him on RAW and I can just imagine how entertaining he’d be as an impartial psychopathic authority figure with an eloquent aura. 

    • I still don’t understand why Titus is Rusev’s #1 Contender, but I’m totally fine seeing the former looking mortal against a deranged and violent Rusev. I really need to see Zack Ryder stepping up as Rusev’s next opponent. What if we start another online movement to #PushRyder? It’s been five years, surely Vince has forgotten about the first one, right?

    • I’m done with Chris Jericho vs. Dean Ambrose Part 35523452141. The only interesting bit is how every other MITB participant wanted to be a guest epal at ringside.

    Pick of the Week

    My RAW pick of the week has to be the 8-man tag match to open up the show. It was a good showcase for all four teams, and a great preview of what we’ll see at Money in the Bank. I’m liking this new edge I’m seeing out of the Vaudevillains, which didn’t make them look that out of place next to the Club. It was also fun seeing Enzo, Cass, and the New Day working together. I just hope we don’t see a match similar to this at Survivor Series. Once lang, pwede na.


    And that caps off a solid year (and change) of having written these RAW reviews on Smark Henry! I’m just really thankful I got a great episode of RAW to write about one last time. My future reviews and musings about rasslin will be on Sports Illustrated Philippines—including my Money in the Bank predictions, which you can find here—and I’m really excited to take my talents there! But I will still be around these parts, so don’t start missing me just yet. Here’s my final A- for RAW, and with that, I’m going to do a Stone Cold and ride off into the sunset.

    Photos from WWE.


    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. He used to dress up in fancy suits to book matches as PWR's General Manager.
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    Item Reviewed: The Smark Henry RAW Report (6/13/16): That Makes Sense Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Stan Sy
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