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    Wednesday, November 21, 2018

    The Smark Henry RAW Review (11/19/18): Monday Night Braun It Down

    Survivor Series has come and gone, and RAW has once again proven itself the A-show. I told you my predictions were spoilers. That said, we now return to our regularly scheduled programming, which means Universal Champion Brock Lesnar is nowhere to be found. Who cares, though, because we've got other things on our plate this week: the men's Team RAW continued to feud with each other, RAW Women's Champion "Rowdy" Ronda Rousey addressed the underhanded beating she got from Ric Flair's spawn, and we're still pretending the 10-on-10 RAW versus SmackDown tag team elimination match at Survivor Series never happened. We all know it did, but apparently both Stephanie McMahon and Acting RAW General Manager Baron Corbin were on a piss break or something—just like the RAW tag team champs' manager during that same PPV. Ha! Glorious.

    Braun Strowman had an impressive showing at Survivor Series, eliminating four out of his five opponents—three of whom I've been watching wrestle in that ring since the sixth grade. The only one he didn't get to eliminate was Samoa Joe, but only because Drew McIntyre Claymore Kicked Joe in the face from out of nowhere for a quick and personally confusing elimination. 

    Braun doesn't care about any of that, though, because he only cares about two things: (1) beating Corbin up for costing him the Universal title and (2) getting another shot at that Universal title. These things were promised to Braun by Steph in exchange for Braun promising Steph a RAW victory at Survivor Series. Now that Braun delivered his end of the bargain, Steph has to stand by her word. She's a McMahon, after all, and if you can't trust a McMahon...

    Corbin booking Braun in a handicap match against himself, Drew McIntyre, and Bobby Lashley was a master plan in that it not only served to soften Braun up physically but the power play also gave him the psychological edge. Steph making it a six-man tag was a little weird, but Corbin and company still got the job done, eliminating Bálor first for the second time in just 24 hours and then Elias who was let down by Child Protective Services. Braun was left on his own, and between Lashley's abs and McIntyre's scary glare, the Monster Among Men found himself victimized, brutalized, and kayfabe injured. 

    I'm 100% into this development, considering this makes McIntyre more dangerous, Lashley more interesting, and Braun more vulnerable, all in one fell swoop. We're all accustomed to seeing Strowman dominate everyone and everything, but now he's backed into the corner by this loose alliance of equally powerful and giant men. Hopefully, this means McIntyre gets bumped up closer into challenging Lesnar for that title he's been holding hostage in his farm.

    One could argue that this TLC match between Braun and Baron now has better stakes with everything that has happened, but let me just remind everyone that these stakes were already present during Survivor Series. Corbin and Braun were forced to work together exactly because Braun was promised the things he wanted and Corbin had his eyes set on kissing enough of Steph's ass to take Kurt Angle's job. I guess their efforts at Survivor Series were all for nothing. McMahons are so manipulative. 

    Haha! Pee jokes. Classic. RAW Tag Team Champions AOP were victorious against SmackDown Tag Team Champions The Bar at Survivor Series, and it was all thanks to their manager, 205 Live General Manager Drake Maverick and his terrible bladder control. I am with Chris Jericho on this one, what the hell? That wasn't the kind of action I was expecting the former Rockstar Spud to get into. AOP has always been meant to be a scary pair of vicious, violent brutes; and that happened? Why?

    Backstage, Chad Gable and Bobby Roode—team captains of RAW's tag team army during that traditional Survivor Series elimination match that Steph and Corbin didn't watch—poked fun at Maverick because of that very pee incident, so we got this match. Despite AOP's championship reign still being new and fresh, Maverick's men were beaten by Gable & Roode. 

    Does this mean we've found our next contenders for the RAW Tag Team Championships? That roll-up victory was the best choice for this route, as AOP getting beaten clean would've been gross—as gross as 205 Live GM Drake Maverick pissing his pants in front of millions of people.

    Speaking of getting humiliated in front of millions of people, RAW Women's Champion "Rowdy" RAWnda Rousey came out to cut a promo on being a fighting champion, vowing to put down everyone's most hated female wrestler, Nia Jax, at the TLC PPV, and then doing the same to Charlotte Flair when their paths inevitably cross again. For those who didn't see that match between Rousey and Flair at Survivor Series, and therefore failed to honor our fallen The Man by booing both the Woo and the Luckiest Bitch on the Planet, Flair snapped and beat Rousey up pretty badly. 

    It was so bad that I was legit concerned and confused at the same time. I'm now stuck wondering if that Flair attack on Rousey was supposed to be how the original Lynch match was supposed to end. That would've been amazing, but now that Flair has turned heel, will the rest of the original Four Horsewomen of wrestling turn heel as well? Will the rest of the MMA Four Hoursewomen turn face in response? 

    Those questions had to wait because, despite Corbin's warnings and her own well-being, Rousey still wanted to fight this week. Who did Corbin send out to take that title off Rousey? An Alexa Bliss-less Mickie James, who quickly lost the match so that Rousey could stare down Nia Jax, with cousin Tamina, up the ramp. Foreshadowing.

    The best part of this week's RAW had to be the continued elevation of this blood feud between former Shield brothers Dean Ambrose and Intercontinental Champion Seth Rollins. Earlier in the night, Rollins cut an in-ring promo recounting the weekend's PPV, his Champion versus Champion match against United States (of Nak-America) Champion Shinsuke Nakamura, and how it's been six years since the Shield debuted. After plugging Ambrose's WWE Chronicle episode, which is awesome by the way, Seth wrapped it up by challenging Ambrose to a fight right then and there. Ambrose, of course, didn't play along with Seth's terms. 

    I was intrigued when Dean alluded to something the Shield did when the cameras were off. Then I made a face when Dean alluded to Roman Reigns' battle with leukemia. I mean, as a heel, Dean's job was to incite the crowd and he was just doing his job here. Plus, Reigns' leukemia battle isn't something people were going to forget for a long time. If he didn't acknowledge it, people would've acknowledged it for him. "Why didn't you go after Reigns' leukemia, Dean? You're supposed to be an evil heel." "Why are you ignoring the tag team elimination match at Survivor Series, Steph? You're supposed to pander your product to everyone." "Why is Enzo Amore such a pathetic douche, Liv? You're the only girl we know he's dated. Please incorporate the Asian mist in your moveset. You already have a blue tongue. Do a blue mist."

    It's interesting how they essentially flipped the script on Dean and Seth. Normally, the Architect would be the one playing mind games on his opponents while the Lunatic Fringe wouldn't even bother and instead get right into the brawling. That was, until the end, when Seth outsmarted Dean, making him feel safe so he could draw him out. Unfortunately for Rollins, Dean saw that Daniel Bryan versus Brock Lesnar match at Survivor Series and came prepared with a low blow. Man, these guys really need to invest in a cup. I'm looking at you, AJ Styles. 

    Having this storyline run throughout the night was a superb choice. Both Seth and Dean are amazing promos and they showed all of us why they're easily two of the best WWE has to offer on the mic. The whole bandanna/stench thing was a bit weird, but the intrigue surrounding Dean's words and his continued dodging of a proper good beatdown from Rollins were more than enough to excuse that juvenile sting. This feud has been very personal for both men, with the Intercontinental Championship playing second fiddle, a role that doesn't suit such a prestigious title. 

    Oh, and both Corey and Cole accusing Mrs. Dean Ambrose of knowing more than she let on was an interesting choice. Does Renee really know more about what Dean's rambling on about? Or has Dean been sleeping under bridges like a gross troll? This week's developments have gotten me more hooked on the Ambrose/Rollins feud than ever before. 

    RAW REVIEW: This RAW after Survivor Series didn't waste any more time in setting up TLC matches and furthering current feuds. The RAW Women's title match between Rousey and Jax have been made official, we found out how Braun's getting rewarded for bringing RAW the Survivor Series win, and the Shield bros will now be fighting over the Intercontinental Championship. Color me excited. We all agree that the so-called Lucha House Rules is just basically cheating, right? Unless... WWE Trios title confirmed?! 

    Both the Corbin/Braun and Seth/Dean feuds have been interesting, but they're technically consequences of having your Universal Champion on long-term paid leave. I've got to say, though: I like it better this way. It's a shame that the Universal Championship isn't getting the spotlight it deserves, but all these four guys are pretty fun to watch. More fun than watching a German suplex and another and another and another. This week's RAW gets a C for "Cups save lives."  

    Quick Hitters:
    • In a move that aroused my Women's Tag Team Championships hype-sense, the Samoan Cousins of Destruction, Tamina & Nia Jax, defeated the passive-aggressive best buds, BaySash. Considering that Bayley and Sasha Banks are both associated with The Man Nia concussed, this not only served to further get Jax some heat, but also quite possibly cement the idea that Becky Lynch's return will probably be at the expense of The Rock's reportedly unsafe cousin. Also, is Alexa Bliss managing the Samoan girls now? Because as much as I love Bliss on commentary, turning that trio into TNATamina, Nia, Alexacould be hilarious. Unblock me, Don Callis!
    • The Lucha House Party was also victorious this week at the expense of The Revival. If you missed the pre-show because you were peeing like Steph and Corbin, Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder were the last RAW tag team to be eliminated during that bout. This week's loss was technically a handicap match loss, so I guess Dawson and Wilder weren't really buried? Gah, who am I kidding? Dang, those flying Mexicans! Maybe that's why The Revival started flipping instead of just fisting at Survivor Series? That was a bit weird.
    • Natalya finally got her revenge on Ruby Riott who, despite having both Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan at ringside, lost to a roll-up. These two women were supposed to be part of the women's Team RAW at Survivor Series, but their hatred towards each other got them taken off the team. They could've learned a lesson or two from BaySash quickly forgiving TNA to get that sweet, sweet PPV payday.
    Images from WWE


    Jofer Serapio (@ShawarmaJoereviews WWE RAW & NXT UK for Smark Henry. He has been an avid professional wrestling fan since grade school. These reviews are as close to professional wrestling as he can get. He firmly believes that Lucha House Rules are against the rules.
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    Item Reviewed: The Smark Henry RAW Review (11/19/18): Monday Night Braun It Down Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Pepe Serapio
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