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    Thursday, March 1, 2018

    The Smark Henry RAW Report (2/26/18): The Search for WrestleMania Opponents

    This week's episode of RAW was all about Elimination Chamber's fallout. The show was rather segment-heavy and didn't focus on the matches at all—which I guess is fine because that means they're focusing on the stories heading to WrestleMania, developing feuds and alliances that were previously made.

    The segment I looked forward to the most was Ronda Rousey's RAW debut: she acted and delivered her lines much better than she did the preceding night—which made me cringe so hard, I'm sure you felt the same, too—and it's pretty clear at this point that this would end up as a tag match at 'Mania.
    At first, I felt pretty neutral about Rousey signing with WWE because I was a fan of her in her MMA career. But the moment she actually showed up at the end of the Royal Rumble decreased the appreciation I had for her, as it seems like she's getting this Brock Lesnar-type of treatment—which, we all know by now is probably the last thing we need. However, I absolutely loved how she told the world that she didn't want to be treated differently and that she'd earn our respect in that ring, but let's face it—until she actually shows up every week to wrestle, all of what she said is just utter bullshit. I feel for the other girls in the roster, and I expect a lot more than just a good WrestleMania match if this is really what she wanted to do.

    Someone please explain to me why Sasha Banks and Bayley are still friends. Seriously?! What happened at Elimination Chamber was not just an every-woman-for-herself-type of argument. There was legitimate and reasonable anger there as they violently attacked each other. And now we have to pretend like it never happened, and that they can get along just fine on free TV? Bayley did seem like she was about to break, but this happens all the time between them and they show up together the following week like it's nothing. This type of shit isn't a tease—it's simply failing to provide continuity to the storyline, leaving everybody confused for way too long.

    Did Mickie James turn heel? It seems like she's now Alexa Bliss' new puppy, and every single one of Alexa's enemies are now, all of a sudden, hers—and nobody on the other camp even questioned it. If they were going to have her stick to Bliss this whole time, then they really should've exploited that partnership at the Chamber for all of this to've made more sense. Moreover, to this very day, we still don't know if Asuka is actually choosing to face Bliss for the title at WrestleMania, and they still kept forcing Nia Jax into the picture when she had already lost clean. Sasha and Bayley came out in Asuka's aid, because, I don't know, justice, I guess? And somehow the ghost of Teddy Long faintly whispered that it was time for a 6-Woman Tag match, something we've definitely never seen before. It's safe to say the RAW Women's division isn't in a very good state right now.

    There are two other solid segments in this episode worth talking about: one is the Roman Reigns promo. If you read my articles often, you'd know that I'm not a big fan of his—Lord, I can't even begin to explain the disappointment I felt after the Chamber match—but this was probably the day the WWE has finally convinced me otherwise. I didn't know what it was—perhaps it was the feisty, in-your-face delivery, or simply the fact that there was more truth in his words than there were catchphrases.

    As a bunch of smarks, we usually hate some of the wrestlers' fiercely-protected image. Contrarily, we are the same people who get off from wrestlers who break the fourth wall, because we all crave for something believable. Reigns did just that by going on savage-mode on Lesnar, even mentioning names like Dana White. Reigns hasn't been on the mic in a while, and nobody was really expecting these bombs to be dropped all at once like that—but I'm sure it was because the WWE has always been smart enough to know that something needed to be done to sell this 'Mania match to an initially-uninterested audience. Good job, WWE—now I can't wait for Lesnar's reply and see where this is going to go.

    The other segment worth the praise is—unsurprisingly—John Cena's promo. The hook of the promo was to make everybody believe that he was out to challenge The Undertaker at WrestleMania, only to break the momentum by announcing that it wasn't going to happen. He then said he'd exercise his rights as a free agent—which is one thing I still don't quite understand. Special treatment much?—and would be off to SmackDown on his quest for a WrestleMania opponent. This is pretty interesting because it's almost like we're following him on a scavenger hunt along with his trials and errors, leaving a weekly question mark on who he would be facing. It's fun to create a list of potential opponents and narrow it down more and more as we get closer to D-Day. Funny if it ends up actually being The Undertaker.

    Need I say more about Cena's promo delivery? He knocks it out the park every time he holds a mic and that's nothing new. It's a very, very special skill.

    The Miz played double-duty that night as he faced both Seth Rollins and Finn Balor, back-to-back. Now, Seth and Finn have acted like really great friends during house shows and on social media, even at the Elimination Chamber—but this week, it seemed as though there's real tension between them as they continued to try to one-up each other. Lately, they've been doing an amazing job at making Seth look like the star next to Finn, thus Finn trying to steal that spotlight away from him. Honestly though, Seth's match was a bit better than Finn's.

    But more importantly, I was shocked that The Miz was officially not going to be part of WrestleMania. I thought he'd find a way back and everything, until I realized—thanks to my creepily large knowledge in the Superstars' personal lives through watching Total Divas every week—that his pregnant wife Maryse's due date is only two days before 'Mania. How bittersweet. So now I guess we're working towards a feud between Rollins and Balor at The Grandest Stage of them All, and it's going to be the match that will take my heart out of my chest and rip it in two.

    This was an eventful episode of RAW because it had more segments than it had matches, and this was a great balance to the wrestling-heavy episode we had prior to the Elimination Chamber. We're halfway on the road to WrestleMania and things have been starting to heat up in some areas, but completely lack thereof in others like the Women's division, as well as the Tag Team title picture. But it's alright—we still have a little more than a month to piece everything together, so let's be hopeful. I grade this episode a C+!

    Quick Hitters

    • The Bray Wyatt and Matt Hardy feud is dead. Please. Move on to other things.
    • There was no real reason why Braun Strowman and Elias should be after each other—all that chasing and destroying then felt nothing but filler.
    • The Bar kicks butt as wrestlers, but they seriously need to stop facing the same pair on a weekly basis with no real story. They are clearly the superstars being left behind on the train to WrestleMania!
    • Thank Jesus Ronda Rousey had her hair in a bun—I am so tired of seeing her twirl her hair to the side every 0.2 seconds. It's so freaking distracting.
    Photos by WWE
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    Item Reviewed: The Smark Henry RAW Report (2/26/18): The Search for WrestleMania Opponents Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Unknown
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