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    Wednesday, May 10, 2017

    The Smark Henry RAW Report (5/8/17): Just Touched Down in London Town

    I've appreciated RAW more in the weeks following WrestleMania mainly because of RAW Commissioner Stephanie McMahon's continued absence on TV. I recognize how ironic it is given that I play an authority figure myself for PWR, but as a RAW viewer, I've said over and over again how her continuous overexposure as a character made stories needlessly revolve around her. Now, I also realize that Steph's due to come back to TV very soon, so I'm going to enjoy this no-Steph streak for as long as I possibly can.

    That said, I actually missed Kurt Angle as GM this week. He's been pretty entertaining as the babyface GM who's mostly silly, but can get serious when he has to be. That's why I was pretty bummed that he couldn't be part of the London episode of RAW. While I wasn't thrilled about Dean Ambrose being named "Acting General Manager," it made sense since Deano's the top singles champion on RAW while the Universal Championship is being held hostage somewhere in Minnesota. Having the Miz reveal that Steph named him "Co-Acting General Manager" was something I could tolerate since I get that authority figures need to have checks and balances, too. Did you get that, Philippines? Wait, I digress.

    Now, while thinking about this episode of RAW, I immediately started asking myself what I wanted to rant about. It's become a habit for me to use this column to rant about mostly the stuff I didn't like about the Red Brand. But when I thought about it, I realize that I didn't have a lot to hate about the episode. However, I didn't exactly love a lot about it either.

    There were some fun bits, though, like Tag Team Turmoil. I love how last week's Golden Truth backstage segment primed us to think that they would emerge as the winners, only for Cesaro and Sheamus to take them out as the last obstacle en route to being the #1 Contenders again. At the very least, it got me invested in Goldust and R-Truth's fates, while making Cesaro and Sheamus look crazy strong in the process. I will always love Tag Team Turmoil as a match type, so it's a shame that the London crowd didn't show this one as much love.

    We also got two solid matches that came about as a result of Miz and Dean making life miserable for one another. I enjoyed Miz vs. Finn Bálor and thought it made sense for them to have a match, since Finn would probably have felt salty that Miz benefitted off the Bray Wyatt interference and pinned him last week for the cheap victory. Seeing Finn get the win at the end felt like him getting the last laugh—yes, I know Finn doesn't get the IC title shot, but that's alright since Finn's above the IC title right now anyway.

    As for Bray Wyatt vs. Dean Ambrose, I thought they had an entertaining showing, too, even if this dance was one we've seen quite a few times already in the past. My biggest takeaway from this is how Bray and Miz continue to have this loose alliance. It wasn't unlike the one from two weeks ago, but you still see some sort of continuity here. I would've liked to see where a Wyatt/Miz alliance would lead, but I'm willing to see where Wyatt/Bálor leads to, for now. My only fear is that this'll be another Bray Wyatt feud with a big name in which Wyatt ends up losing again. Jeez. We've seen that far too many times.

    Before I end this review column, let's talk about Roman Reigns, Braun Strowman and Kalisto. First off, I don't understand why Braun Strowman wasn't awarded the win via DQ when Roman interfered. Hell, we didn't even see what happened to Kalisto as soon as Roman's music hit. While the RAW Creative Team deserves a bit of credit for making us care about Kalisto—new gear, new music, and all—they undo this work when they show that once Roman and Braun are in the ring, screw Kalisto. Hell, screw their match.

    Now, I liked how they're leaving the door open for Strowman to keep feuding with Reigns—and to eventually challenge Brock Lesnar for the Universal Championship—once he comes back from injury. But I don't know where this leaves Roman Reigns for the next two months while Strowman's out. It's a shame that Strowman has to be sidelined right now, when he's at the peak of his powers as the IWC favorite because of his status as Roman's foil. But, hey, this is Strowman's first injury since his main roster debut two years ago. Let's hope this doesn't put him on the same health path as Blake Griffin.


    I'm happy that RAW is continuing to exhibit SmackDown-level types of booking—matches generally make sense, the wrestling is solid, and the stories are easily understandable (at least for now). While the episode didn't blow me away, it wasn't entirely disappointing either. And, really, that's a victory in itself for RAW, especially given its tendency to be such a chore to get through. But we know RAW can do so much better than be mediocre, so for that, this week's episode gets a B-.

    Quick Hitters:
    • I was pretty confused with the ending of that Sasha Banks vs. Alicia Fox match. Yes, the outcome probably doesn't matter in the greater scheme of things. But I wonder if Foxy's shoulder not being down the entire time was intentional or if the match wasn't supposed to end that way. Chances are, it wasn't. But in WWE, the referees are instructed to count until three, so it really is up to the wrestler being pinned to make a move to kick out. Ah, well.
    • I'm really enjoying this vicious side to Heel TJP. It makes me wonder, though, if he's just using his alliance with Neville to get a title shot. While I still want to see this story play out, it also makes me wish Austin Aries won the Cruiserweight Championship at Payback. I feel like it'll be more fun to see both TJP and Neville going after the babyface champ in A-Double.
    • Alexa Bliss has got to be the worst liar ever, and if the Nia Jax character doesn't see that, then she's being written as the stereotypical dumb brute we see quite often in pro wrestling. That said, at least Nia made it clear that she was challenging for Alexa's title, friendship or not.
    • Am I the only one who feels that Seth Rollins vs. Samoa Joe as a feud has already run its course?

    Photo from WWE


    Stan Sy (@_StanSyis the Editor at Large of Smark Henry, and is also an events host, a freelance writer, and one of the hosts of the Smark Gilas-Pilipinas Podcast and The Wrestling Gods on FOX. He enjoys watching WWE, NXT, Lucha Underground, and the occasional New Japan match. He dresses up in fancy suits from time to time to book matches as PWR's General Manager.
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    Item Reviewed: The Smark Henry RAW Report (5/8/17): Just Touched Down in London Town Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Stan Sy
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