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    Wednesday, January 3, 2018

    The Smark Henry RAW Report (1/1/18): Happy New Year, Finn Bálor

    The first Monday Night RAW of 2018 specifically falls on New Year's day, while it did on Christmas day last week. Rare coincidence! And once again, I salute all the Superstars and crew, not only for working on these special days than to be with their families, but also for giving us a pretty decent episode of RAW.

    Uhm, the episode was too sweet, to say the least. (Did you get the pun?! No? Yes? Okay, I'm sorry, I swear I can do better.) No, Finn Bálor wasn't the only one smiling from ear to ear all throughout his match, knowing he was teaming up with old pals Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows. Everybody else was happy—me included—because finally, some genius in the WWE Creative offices had figured out that an idle Finn Bálor and an idle The Club belong together. It took them quite a while, but all is forgiven because the moment they were shown together at Kurt Angle's office surely made any Bullet Club fan pee their pants in excitement. Put your hand up if you did! 🙋 Just kidding. That's gross. What's wrong with you?

    Bálor looked beyond adorable—yes, this article's writer is a woman, deal with it—like he was a 10-year-old in a candy store. So cute! Also, his entrance reminded me of when Tom Hansen happily burst into song on his way to work in 500 Days Of Summer. I'm pretty sure I wasn't the only one. Can we make pahabol for Cutest Smile Of The Year award? Please?

    In all seriousness, though, this was RAW's biggest highlight for me. It was really refreshing to see something everyone's been waiting to see for so long, and to see the Superstars truly enjoy what they're doing. This part of the show was a wonderful holiday treat for the WWE Universe as much as it was for Bálor, and I don't think there's anybody out there who doesn't hope this unity would stick long-term.

    It's also important to note that The Club, originally a pair of heels, came back this week as faces with Bálor—which I believe was a no-brainer, since we all know the crowd could never have it in them to boo a highly-requested Bullet Club mini-reunion in the WWE. Aaaaand Bálor's smile radiated too much positivity, anyway, as if his abs don't already do so on a weekly basis. Ugh.

    Switching gears, the match to watch on this week's episode is, hands down, Roman Reigns vs. Samoa Joe for the Intercontinental Championship. I admittedly thought I'd get bored with this one, but I was proven wrong. I became too stressed with the false finishes to even scream; I was just covering my eyes—I couldn't handle it. Dare I say that Roman Reigns is the John Cena of television: lately, he hasn't failed to give us really entertaining matches that make you feel so stressed that you feel like squeezing your pillow—no matter who his opponent is.

    Alexa Bliss and Asuka battled it out, too, as this was the only women's match on this week's card. Before I say anything further, I just want to point out how creative it was to have had Alexa open the show for a quick minute expressing her frustrations to Kurt Angle backstage, and then having the latter proceed with the actual opening segment in the ring. It was short and sweet—just like the champ—and it was refreshing to see something slightly different.

    Moving on, it was one of those matches heavily hyped, and I genuinely wasn't sure of its outcome until it was announced that the RAW Women's Championship wasn't going to be on the line. By then, it was pretty obvious. To make up for a very obvious result, they usually compensate in the ring.

    Alexa vs. Asuka was a very long match, effectively giving the impression that it was a very important one—but as someone with her eyes glued to every women's match she sees, I'm afraid it wasn't a good one. As mentioned on commentary, they were trying to feel each other out, but everything felt a little off, and not many parts excited me. The ending woke the audience and I up more, but there wasn't anything too interesting about it apart from that, in my opinion—which is a shame, really, because I'm sure this was a dream match for most out there.

    WWE continues with the story of Jason Jordan: the spoiled and entitled son of the General Manager. These past few weeks, we've seen how impulsive he can get and how he can say or do things without really thinking things through, which ultimately leads him to continuously fall short. This week, Jordan once again tries to bite off more than he can chew, until his sensible and mature tag partner, Seth Rollins—could he be any more dreamy?—saves both of their asses from trouble. Jordan's ego is clearly the center of this storyline, where the former almost cost him the match against Cesaro.

    It seems like The Shield now have to babysit for the meantime while Dean Ambrose is recovering—and I think it's great. Jason Jordan will do whatever he pleases, while the remaining Hounds of Justice either keep him on a leash, or clean up his mess. I love this because not only is it such a simple and relatable storyline that works, but it's also a storyline that is bound to stress you the f*ck out all the time, impelling you to shout "NO! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!" at your screen every week. Just make sure not to have anything delicate within a one-meter radius to avoid throwing them out of frustration. Gosh, don't you just hate entitled and spoiled people over the age of 20 who think they can get whatever they want? Because I sure do.

    Alright, okay, Brock Lesnar sitting up like Kane and The Undertaker is a freaking cool thing to see and all, but where the hell was Braun Strowman in all of this?! You'd think he'd show up one way or another to remind everybody he's part of this monstrous Universal Championship match. Although, I must say, that was a pretty nice way to make Kane look like he isn't the match's little bitch. Finally, a 7-foot-tall demon straight from the depths of Hell asserted some dominance coming into this match. Gee, if only I could've thought of that sooner.

    Overall, this episode wasn't a terrible one and I actually really enjoyed some parts. Although it didn't feel like it was New Year's day at all—who even has real holiday spirit nowadays, anyway—it seems as though the writers have finally come to their senses for some angles, and I'm really excited to watch them develop in the weeks to come. The Royal Rumble itself is slowly getting hyped, and I feel like we're all just staring at our calendars, eagerly waiting for that day to come. This episode was okay, so I'll give it a C.

    Quick hitters:
    • Braun Strowman with that Kylo Ren challenge—we see you, we see you.
    • A sick Enzo Amore led to... a weird Cruiserweight segment with Goldust. Pinch me for saying this—but Enzo, get well as soon as possible. Please.
    • Speaking of, Nia Jax really should've saved some chicken soup for Alexa Bliss after her match.
    • So I guess this is what we are, huh—masochists, who gravely enjoy watching Braun Strowman almost kill his victims week after week.

    Photos by WWE
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    Item Reviewed: The Smark Henry RAW Report (1/1/18): Happy New Year, Finn Bálor Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Unknown
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