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    Wednesday, August 15, 2018

    The Smark Henry RAW Review (8/14/18): Reunited and It Feels So Good

    This week's RAW was preceded by the sudden and unexpected death of WWE Legend Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart. The Anvil passed away at the age of 63 just mere hours before this week's show. Smark Henry's Marck Rimorin wrote an obituary about The Anvil, which you can read here: Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart (1955-2018). As a huge fan of the Hart Foundation, most of the Hart family, and of the color pink, I was hit by this piece of depressing news really hard. Watching WWE's video tribute on The Anvil made me realize how much I loved him growing up, how he was such a personal inspiration, and how he and Bret Hart were a great tag team. My first create-a-wrestler in a WWE video game even used their gimmick, going as far as calling himself a Hart. Our condolences go out to Natalya and the entire Hart family.

    "Rowdy" Ronda Rousey came out to open this week's show, delivering a pretty touching promo on Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart and his daughter Natalya, one of her closest friends in the WWE. Rousey then went on to talk about her title shot at SummerSlam. She promised to beat WWE RAW Women's Champion Alexa Bliss who, after weeks and weeks of getting bullied by Rousey, finally learned her lesson and brought out four big guys with her for her own protection—no thanks to GM Kurt Angle but all thanks to Stephanie McMahon's self-appointed Constable of RAW, Baron Corbin. Bliss made a lot of sense with her promo, discussing so many truths about Rousey being a terrible employee and Angle being a terrible GM. What a pair.

    Unfortunately, none of Alexa's buff bodyguards could match Ronda's brute strength, with one of them even opting to just run away, leaving Little Miss Bliss on her own. Remember when Ronda stood toe-to-toe with the Cerebral Assassin, Triple H, flipping him over and through that table that one time? Four jacked-up dudes with no in-ring training couldn't do a better job. Because she was being either a good best friend/replacement for Mickie James or a crazy wildcard, Alicia Fox tried to do her part, defending Alexa from Rousey like Bowser guarding Princess Peach. Considering the fact that Ronda already decimated Alexa's security, Foxy didn't even really stand a chance. I guess Alicia learned nothing from last week's encounter. Cool hat, though. Did she "borrow" that from Peyton Royce?

    All of that happened prior to the scheduled match between Alexa and Ember Moon, who finally took a big leap forward, getting to face the top woman on RAW after fighting The Riott Squad for what felt like an eternity. Ember's such a fantastic athlete and Alexa's selling was great in this match. Unfortunately, after Moon hit the Eclipse on Alexa, Fox got involved by pushing her off the champ with what seemed like telepathy and further attacked Ember, giving the Shenom a DQ win. So close. But, hey! A win is a win. Ember could definitely use this whole thing to challenge Bliss next if Alexa is still champ after SummerSlam. Probably. In the end, Rousey made the save for Ember because she really hates Bliss and Fox, and there you have it, our hype for the WWE RAW Women's Championship match at this weekend's SummerSlam.

    Speaking of hype for a title match at SummerSlam, Roman Reigns came out to the ring, cutting another promo against Brock Lesnar, this time with a lewd threat. Before that, we saw the unaired clip from last week's Paul Heyman interview, which was pretty interesting. Is Heyman going to switch sides, jump ship, turn on WWE Universal Champion Brock Lesnar, and join up with Roman Reigns? The answer to that was given this week when Heyman came out after Reigns, referencing both the New Day and the Usos for logical reasons. Well, the New Day reference was pretty logical. The Usos? That one sounded more like Heyman trying to kiss Reigns' butt, which was pretty much what he was doing. Yet, for some reason, Reigns declined to shake on the proposed alliance. Click that pen, Jericho.

    I felt like Reigns teetered between confident challenger and stupid idiot in this segment. He told Heyman he didn't need him because he almost beat Lesnar in Saudi Arabia during a cage match? That was one time and that match had a special stipulation. Compare that to all the other matches he's had with Lesnar outside of a cage and Reigns has nothing to be proud of. Heyman could not be denied, though, and teased a Lesnar-style introduction for Reigns, really reeling in everyone—including me—who wants to see a Heyman-Reigns alliance. At the very least, it would be something new for Reigns. But Reigns just wouldn't have it, likening Heyman to a shark that was... drowning? He knows sharks swim, right? Heyman responded by referencing Reigns' wrestling relatives from the past and even dropped a line in Samoan. To say that I became hyped at this point would be an understatement. 

    Of course, we're not really allowed to have good things in this feud, so Heyman revealed his true allegiance by pepper-spraying Reigns and leaving him vulnerable to a surprise attack by... Brock Lesnar? What the hell?! What followed next was the same stuff we'd see whenever these two wrestlers cross paths: Lesnar proceeded to destroy Reigns while a smiling Heyman looked on. Gosh darn it. I guess Paul E isn't turning on Lesnar at SummerSlam. Brock might even retain. Damn it. Where's another steel cage when you need one? Kevin Owens better win his match with Braun Strowman and go on to immediately cash the briefcase on these two. Gabriel Iglesias is so done with Reigns versus Lesnar.

    Who else saw this WWE Intercontinental Championship Contract Signing between Dolph Ziggler, with Drew McIntyre in tow, and Seth Rollins, and immediately thought, "Hmm, I guess Dean Ambrose is making his return tonight?"

    Throughout the show, the seeds for that return were planted with WWE Intercontinental Champion Ziggler and future WWE Universal Champion McIntyre getting in GM Kurt Angle's face four times in one night. At one point, Ziggler and his fabulous mane even pointed out the part about Rollins getting the right to have someone in his corner at SummerSlam, which Angle offered to take out at the expense of the champion also losing the same right. It did seem that the return was a foregone conclusion, but fans were still taken on a roller coaster ride to make them doubt whether it was actually happening—especially when everyone kept bringing up the uncertainty of Rollins appearing on this week's show because of his promotional tour in China. Ellsworthy.

    What I loved about this return was that it was interwoven with other storylines, making it more inclusive instead of just going with the usual non-surprise surprise returns we've all grown accustomed to. During ZigMc's first visit to GM Angle, we had Kurt and Corbin arguing about the Constable booking matches, to which Corbin went, "...but Stephanie McMahon approved these matches!" Great micromanaging skills, Steph! Angle doesn't deserve a return call at all! Later, we had Angle getting in the ring to talk about Brock's attack on Reigns, the status of the Universal title match at SummerSlam, and how much of a terrible champion Brock is, which was false because Hornswoggle as Cruiserweight Champion killed an entire division prior to the Cruiserweight Classic. Also, there was David Arquette, Sheamus (2010 & 2015), Jinder Mahal, and Bray Wyatt (2017). Wyatt deserved better.

    All of this worked together to lead to great promos from ZigMc. Ziggler blamed all the fans for everything while McIntyre revealed that they do respect Rollins' work ethic despite all his pandering to the fans. I personally loved the "architect of his own downfall" line, especially since McIntyre delivered it really well. It's hard to argue against him being in the world title picture with the amount of skill he showcases in the ring and on the mic. Ziggler went on to praise McIntyre before signing the contract so they could officially make it a forfeit for Rollins for no-showing the signing. But lo and behold, who made a dramatic entrance immediately after? Seth Freaking Rollins.

    Seth apologized for being late and for letting the fans sit through Ziggler's promo—overreaching there, buddy. I actually liked Rollins' promo—he admitted that he'd been in the arena for a while but wanted to wait until Ziggler signed the contract because he was afraid Ziggler would change his mind when he heard what Rollins had to say. Apparently, Rollins was dealing with travel issues but not for him. Mentioning the contract clause that said he could have someone in his corner at SummerSlam—essentially giving me a mini-stroke—Seth went on to admit that he's finally tired of dealing with ZigMc, so with The Scottish Psychopath being in Ziggler's corner this Sunday, he was bringing The Lunatic in his. Jump-cut to me dying in my seat.

    The Lunatic Fringe, Dean Ambrose, finally made his long-awaited return with a new look. Called it. The return, of course, not the look. I was actually caught off-guard when I saw this version of Ambrose—bigger and meaner than ever—as if he had just gotten out of prison, which actually works very well for his character. This Ambrose seems primed and ready for a Universal title run, possibly at the expense of his own Shield brothers. I mean, that scowl, man. That was believably scary and damn intimidating. I wouldn't want to accidentally bump into this Ambrose in a dark alley with just the two of us there. Inevitably, both pairs started a brawl, Ziggler got thrown out of the ring, McIntyre ate a superkick/Dirty Deeds—Drew probably had a Future Shock after taking that move—combo, and 2/3 of the Shield reunited, bumping their fists in the middle of the ring. What a way to end RAW.

    I'll give this week's RAW a B for putting the "Bros in Ambrose."

    Quick Hitters:

    • WWE RAW Tag Team Champions The B-Team (Bo Dallas & Curtis Axel) versus The Revival (Dash Wilder & Scott Dawson) versus The Deleters of Worlds (Woken Matt Hardy & Bray Wyatt) in a Triple Threat title match on the last RAW before SummerSlam? Shouldn't this be on the SummerSlam card instead? Anyway, the comedy promo by the B-Team prior to this match was entertaining. The match that followed was just as entertaining, if not more, with The Revival hitting the Hart Attack on Hardy to pay homage to The Anvil, and Wyatt taking everyone out even at ringside with Uranage after Uranage after Uranage. The B-Team successfully defended their titles through a pretty sneaky win, stealing the pin from Wyatt after a Shatter Machine by The Revival. What a B-win.
    • Stephanie McMahon's self-appointed Constable of RAW, Baron Corbin, faced Tyler Breeze in a pretty good match that served as some sort of warm-up to Corbin's SummerSlam bout with Finn Bálor. At least we got to see Breeze compete. Corbin then celebrated his succeeding win by booking Bálor against Jinder Mahal and my best friend in the whole wide world, Kevin Owens, in a handicap match. What a freaking dick. GM Kurt Angle didn't seem to like that, though, and proceeded to turn the match into a tag team match, adding Mr. Monster in the Bank, Braun Strowman, as Bálor's tag partner. This was a pretty fun match, with Braun getting the pin on Jinder. I guess Jinder won't be added to the SummerSlam match between Braun and Owens, thank god. Strowman then chased Owens to the back because he's a psycho. That left Bálor vulnerable to an ambush by Corbin because Corbin is a buttface. Good stuff. RIP Sunil Singh.  
    • Bobby Lashley versus enhancement talent and Elias fan Ricky Roberts didn't even happen. This was more of a segment really, with Elias' promo before the non-match match being the bulk of the segment. Lashley's not that awesome on the mic, so limiting his time with it was a good idea. Letting him destroy Roberts, despite the guitar to the back, was a sign of things to come for Elias and an even better way to build Lashley's character.
    • Another Bobby that needs his character checked is Bobby Roode, who teamed up with Titus Worldwide this week against The Authors of Pain and Mojo Rawley. Roode got another win over Mojo with the Glorious DDT. This was what it was. At least Roode's music was... glorious? The Authors teaming with Rawley was also a bit weird, considering I've never pegged AOP to be friendly dudes. Fingers crossed Terry Crews joins Titus Worldwide soon.
    • Because Ruby Riott returned last week, she gets a match this week... against Sasha Banks? How many times have we seen this matchup? Sigh. The match in itself wasn't terrible. Bayley was at ringside and so were Sarah Logan and Liv Morgan. As expected, we got some ringside shenanigans from the Riott Squad, which Ruby capitalized on for the win. Maybe Bayley and Banks should find themselves a third member? Is Nikki Cross doing anything in NXT? Hmm.  
    • Speaking of missing members, Jonathan Coachman was unable to fulfill his obligations as part of commentary this week. So who did they get as his substitute? Mauro Ranallo? Nigel McGuinness? Jim Ross? Nope, they got Renee Young, who really should have been part of this commentary team from the get-go. Apparently, she also just became the first woman to ever call an entire episode of RAW. Just in time for Evolution, right? The Ambroses definitely stole this week's RAW.
    Images from WWE


    Jofer Serapio (@ShawarmaJoe) reviews WWE RAW for Smark Henry. His favorite professional wrestling shows include NXT, Lucha Underground, WWE, NJPW, Ring of Honor, and (gasp) Impact Wrestling. He pops hard for Samoa Joe, Marty Scurll, Kevin Owens, Drew McIntyre, and Andrade "Cien" Almas.
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    Item Reviewed: The Smark Henry RAW Review (8/14/18): Reunited and It Feels So Good Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Pepe Serapio
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