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    Wednesday, August 22, 2018

    The Smark Henry RAW Review (8/21/18): New Champions, Same Old Cliques

    After becoming the new WWE Universal Champion at SummerSlam, Roman Reigns opening the show was expected. The boos that followed him out were also expected. A lot of people might have been glad that Brock Lesnar was finally dethroned, but only a few loved the idea of The Big Dog being the one to do it. Case in point: those "you still suck" chants that were deafening. Nevertheless, here we are, with Reigns as Universal Champion challenging the first-ever Universal Champion, Finn Bálor, to a title match in the main event. For those who can no longer remember, Finn was injured immediately after winning the title and never got his rematch ever since.

    Reigns acknowledging Bálor was a good thing. It sort of tones down the boos for Roman and finally gives Finn closure. Another good thing was Stephanie McMahon's personally appointed Constable of RAW, Baron Corbinsquashed by Demon King Bálor at SummerSlamcoming out to argue against the title match because he doesn't quite know how to move on from Bálor. Corbin claimed that Finn cheated because he brought out his Demon King alternate outfit instead of his default outfit at SummerSlam. Some people might think this was Corbin being an idiot, failing to do his research on Bálor. But I think he just got too overconfident at SummerSlam and like most of us, he forgot that the Demon King was still a thing. I liked how Corbin sassed Reigns after he was insulted, though, pointing out the truth that Roman did only beat Brock because The Beast was busy manhandling The Monster Among Men. Serves you right for murdering my best friend in the whole wide world, Braun!

    But Corbin is a heel and should therefore be put in his place by none other than GM Kurt Angle, who made the Reigns/Bálor title match official for the main event and also made the Constable face Bobby Lashley right away. Lashley hasn't done anything since getting kicked out of the Universal title picture, so he had to earn his pay this week. The match between Bob and Baron wasn't that bad but it wasn't that great. It actually made Corbin look good, somewhat at the expense of Lashley, but surprisingly Bob got the win in this one. No idea why. Is Bob going to be the next challenger to Reigns' reign (get it?) after Bálor inevitably loses his claim to the championship? Only time will tell.

    One thing seems certain, though: Angle is not giving Lesnar his rematch right away, and it's not because Brock has a UFC match to train for. Or maybe it's exactly that. Brock's advocate, Paul Heyman, paid Angle a visit to his office to negotiate that rematch but was met with a cold shoulder from Angle. Forget about it? Pepperidge Farm and the North will always remember. Of course, Heyman isn't the only man Kurt made unhappy tonight. After his match, Corbin got in the GM's face, they argued, and apparently RAW Commissioner Stephanie McMahon is going to be on this show. Good luck, Kurt.

    Also, good luck, Finn, who was preparing for his title shot backstage when Strowman walked in on him to reiterate that he wasn't a coward and may cash in on the main event with his Money in the Bank briefcase. No one asked, Strowman. We all saw what happened at SummerSlam. Are you going to get knocked out at ringside again? Spoiler alert: The answer was yes. Glad you got your briefcase back, though, and in one piece, too.

    The actual title match was pretty good, but as everyone expected, Reigns retained over Bálor. Braun came out nonchalantly in the middle of the match, distracting Reigns for a bit and allowing Finn to almost get the win. Unfortunately, Finn the Human isn't Finn the Demon King, so he missed the Coup de Grace and was Speared to oblivion. After the match, Braun tried to cash in his briefcase in a non-cowardly way but was once again thwarted, this time by the reunited Shield. WWE Intercontinental Champion Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose, both back in their Shield attire, joined Reigns in taking out Braun with a Triple Powerbomb through the announcers' table.

    Honestly, I don't think anyone's wrong in this scenario: Braun has a briefcase he wants to cash in to become the new Universal Champion and Roman can't keep the title on himself without help from his two friends, who are clearly much better than him. Braun did inform Romanbecause, for the nth time, sigh, he wasn't a cowardof his desire to cash in that briefcase to become champion, so like thanks for the warning, you murderous giant monster man, you. Braun kicking Roman, mocking him, was just Braun being himself, a bully who most definitely deserves some jail time. Where was the Shield's fourth member with the tranquilizer darts, though?

    The Shield knew Braun wasn't going to be easy to take down, so they pulled that familiar Triple Powerbomb out of their figurative sleeves. Did Braun deserve to get put through that table? Yes. Yes, he did. Did the Shield need to put Braun through that table. Yes. Yes, they did. Otherwise, Braun was just going to plow through all of them like he did everyone else at The Greatest Royal Rumble. Whatever happened to that title? Braun is the Monster Among Men, after all, one who apparently sucks at cashing in. If only we had someone else who was really good with underhanded tactics, an opportunist, a fighter who can sniff a prize a mile away. But I digress. The fact is, Roman really can't end a RAW on a high note on his own.

    Speaking of high notes, Stephanie McMahon was apparently on this week's RAW to congratulate the new RAW Women's Champion. Ronda Rousey, whom I did not expect to win the title at SummerSlamthank you so much for disappointing me, Natalyais now the first-ever female competitor to become a UFC and WWE champion. Of course, good old Steph decided to take credit for everything, even going as far as calling Rousey her protegé. Even after Ronda entered the ring, with most of RAW's female competitors at ringside, Steph continued to take credit for everything because, well, it's her company. 

    Ronda wanting to share the ring with the other female competitors was good. Ronda taking a shot at Brock Lesnar was even better. Steph's heel work is always great, so there was nothing new there. Every time she opened her mouth, I wanted to take the object nearest to me and throw it at her face. That's how good of an annoying b-word she is, and by b-word, I mean Billion Dollar Princess of course.

    While Ronda tried to share her victory with her peers, Steph tried to poison them against her, reminding them that Ronda once broke her arm. It's not like anyone else in that division would ever want to break Steph's arm, right? I'm looking at you, Sasha, with that obviously defiant reaction when Steph said everyone wanted to be like her. In the end, Rousey once again tried to break Steph's arm, showing how much of a terrible employee she is and how stupidly arrogant Steph could be. Not a bad way to celebrate the title change, to be honest. It was a little weird, though, with everyone else just standing there throughout the entire thing. This was probably mandatory.

    Backstage, while Steph was cooling off, icing her arm, in the trainer's room, accompanied by my ex Alexa Bliss and Baron Corbin, GM Angle walked in and got himself fired. Ha! Finally, some justice. Corbin ran him down, said something about how chaotic RAW has been, and Steph wholeheartedly agreed. Maybe Angle needs a vacation or some time off, something that I tried to get this weekend but didn't. Technically, Angle wasn't really fired but was just "given" that time off, with Steph appointing Corbin as acting GM of RAW, while Angle goes to Tahiti with Jason Jordan or something. RIP, Finn Bálor. RIP, everyone who wanted this thing between Corbin and Bálor to be over already. RIP, myself.

    I'll give this week's RAW a C for "Cash-in denied!"

    Quick Hitters:

    • WWE RAW Tag Team Champions The B-Team told everyone that the "B" in their name stood for Brooklyn, which made little sense, considering Bo Dallas is from Florida and Curtis Axel is from Minnesota. This was before the scheduled match between Bo and Scott Dawson, with both their tag team partners in their respective corners. I guess the "D" in Dawson's name stood for domination because, oh, boy, did Dawson dominate Dallas like sadness dominated my weekend after my flight got cancelled due to the NAIA mishap. Right after this match, though, it was Curtis Axel's turn to tangle with Dash Wilder, who made it 2-0, The Revival over The B-Team. Hopefully this feud isn't over until the Top Guys finally get their belts.
    • Dean Ambrose made his non-wrestling RAW return on the go-home show before SummerSlam, so now he gets to have his in-wrestling RAW return on the first RAW after SummerSlam. This was against former WWE Intercontinental Champion Dolph Ziggler, who had Drew McIntyre in his corner. New Intercontinental Champion Seth Rollins had Dean's back, though, so easy peasy. As expected, Dean got the win. So much for that heel turn. You keep breaking my heart, Dean.  
    • Even with Ember Moon at their side, BaySash still couldn't get the job done against The Riott Squad. It was logical actually. Ruby Riott and friends have been working together since they debuted. A new name and some new ring gear wouldn't automatically make Bayley and Sasha Banks better than them. At least not in a tag team match or any variations thereof.
    • Titus Worldwide and the Authors of Pain faced each other in another match. Prior to the bout, Dana Brooke told her boys that she found the AOP's weakness. Whatever that was, it was apparently not that helpful, as the Authors destroyed Titus Worldwide to hopefullybut probably notend this feud. Are Apollo and Brooke going to get it on (if they haven't already)? Will Titus lose his secretary, statistician, and chief strategist in Brooke as well as his only client left? Tune in next week for what will most likely be a backstage segment to build on this strange development. 
    • After Elias claimed that someone was out to get him, out came perennial loser Curt Hawkins, who wanted to make Elias his first win. Elias thought he was too good for this match but came around when Hawkins insulted him. The match then happened and, well, Hawkins continued his losing streak. Glad to see the Starmaker back, though. He's always fun.  
    • Triple H came out, not to finally take over WWE or herald an NXT invasion, but to talk about the two PPVs last weekendthe awesome NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn IV and the awe-k SummerSlamHe then went on to hype the October show, WWE Super Show-Down, in iiconic Australia. I'm not actually quite sure if The Undertaker will still deliver on that PPV, though, especially against Triple H. This is going to be a dismal sequel of that End of an Era match they had, won't it?
    Images from WWE


    Jofer Serapio (@ShawarmaJoereviews 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 (8/21/18): New Champions, Same Old Cliques Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Pepe Serapio
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