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    Wednesday, December 26, 2018

    The Smark Henry RAW Review (12/24/18): The RAW Before Christmas

    Merry Christmas, everyone! Or happy holidays, whichever you prefer. Because it's the holiday season, I watched this week's RAW with a friend of mine who's not that well-versed with professional wrestling. Her favorite wrestler is still The Rock and she has no idea who Becky Lynch is, so that was fun. That said, anyone else excited for this pre-taped Christmas eve (for North America, anyway) RAW? It's the first RAW after that McMahon homecoming announcement, so this could potentially be great. Or not. Let's find out.

    First things first, Santa Vince was pretty weird. I guess they're really going all in on the McMahons being the saviors of WWE thing. I'm really happy and excited for the women's tag titles announcement and Dolph Ziggler versus Drew McIntyre in a steel cage match should be good. Hopefully, Finn Bálor doesn't interfere in that bout because honestly he no longer has any reason to. He already beat both Ziggler and McIntyre in one match, so his argument for being better than both of them stands. That way, McIntyre could end his feud with Ziggler and go on to the main event title picture. Brock Lesnar, Braun Strowman... It won't matter. What matters is that a Claymore Kick to the face should ensure McIntyre's dominance on top of the RAW food chain.

    Speaking of chains, I wonder if the women's tag titles will be chained (get it?) to RAW? I've got my fingers crossed it'll be defended across all WWE brands, but that might get too complicated. It's a good enough start, though, unless we get a bunch of women wrestlers to bolster both RAW and SmackDown? Maybe even an all-women's show on the Network in the footsteps of NXT and NXT UK? I wanted to go with 205 Live but that show doesn't have that great of a reputation despite the great wrestling content. Maybe it should follow the NXT/NXT UK formula, too? Could do wonders for the amazing talent over there. But I digress. The IIconics for first-ever WWE Women's Tag Team Champions? That'd be so... iconic.

    Seth Rollins beat Baron Corbin in a pretty solid main event that I guess ends their feud or something? There really were no established stakes for this match, which wouldn't be a problem if it wasn't the main event. Any of the RAW title matches would've been better as the main event, though maybe more of the women's title match since the tag match ended in an illegal win. That said, Rollins said stuff about Corbin being a bad Acting GM-elect or something and Corbin blamed Rollins for him losing his position of power or something. This really shouldn't have been the main event story-wise. 

    I have no idea where Corbin goes from here, but Seth Rollins will probably still continue his feud with Intercontinental Champion Dean Ambrose. That's not really a new match-up, and I personally think someone else should get an Intercontinental title opportunity, but Shield brother versus Shield brother, am I right? WWE needs its Shield fix for some reason.

    Man, Paul Heyman is really amazing on the mic. His version of "Silent Night," which he turned into Brock beating Braun, was both hilarious and captivating. I'm not 100% excited for the Universal title matchup at the Royal Rumble because it's the farthest from a new matchup that was promised to us, but I'm hopeful that this new era thing will have Braun Strowman unseat Brock Lesnar as Universal Champion, so Drew McIntyre can unseat Braun Strowman as Universal Champion. Please, Santa Vince, book it. Braun inevitably came out to interrupt Paul, harassing him by forcing Rudolph's nose and antlers on the advocate, and said his catchphrase. "Get these hands," not "ho ho ho," sadly. Okay then.

    The Revival lost their hard-earned title shot to the reigning RAW Tag Team Champions Chad Gable and Bobby Roode when Gable pinned Scott Dawson for the win. Well, an illegal win, anyway, as apparently, Dash Wilder was the legal man? This was an interesting finish, as holiday shows tend to favor faces but The Revival, unlike Natalya, can't just get tossed aside. 

    This was their first outing as number one contenders and WWE did a great job of protecting them. They could call that win's legality into question, arguing for another well-deserved shot at the title, though this being Glorious Gable's first title feud might mean they still won't end up the tag champs. That's a shame because The Revival should definitely get a title run on RAW. All in all, this was a fun title match that capitalizes on every competitor's tag team proficiency. Yes, Roode actually knows a thing or two about being in a great tag team.

    Because it's Christmas eve, we didn't just get one title match, but two! Thank you, Santa Vince! Thank you so much. 

    This seemed to me like Natalya's swan song, at least regarding her involvement in the title picture. Prior to the death of her father, the legendary Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart, rumors circulated that she was supposed to turn heel, attack RAW Women's Champion "Rowdy" Ronda Rousey, and start a title feud with her. Unfortunately, that was scrapped and Nattie instead persisted as a face trying to stand strong for her father's legacy against the Riott Squad's bullying. I didn't like all the crying, but to be fair, she did just lose her dad and the Riott Squad was mocking him, so a loving child would most likely end up crying, too. Was it horrible that Jim's death was used in that feud? Nattie didn't seem to think so, and I agree with her. It's her family, after all. She'd know better than anyone.

    That said, this was a pretty entertaining match. Both Rousey and Natalya worked great together. Their hesitation to start the match made for great story continuity, as these two are sort-of best friends. I was hoping they'd finally pull the trigger on a Natalya heel turn after she tapped out, but I suppose holiday shows aren't supposed to do that or whatever. The result was a foregone conclusion, sure, but the players made sure to still make the entire thing great and watchable, and I honestly enjoyed the match. Natalya truly deserves more than what the WWE has given her even before Ronda came along. Now that Rousey's here, though, I can't see Natalya dethroning her,or anyone dethroning her anytime soon for that matter. Rousey is money and she's actually doing a great job as a wrestler.

    RAW REVIEW: This week's RAW was not that bad. We got two title matches that were very good and a pretty exciting announcement on new championships. Some might argue that WWE doesn't need more championships because of how their storylines are written but NJPW has a ton of titles, too, and they're fine. I honestly think that having more titles could potentially alleviate WWE's weak storyline writing in that wrestlers will actually have more to fight each other for than just their insecurities. They could do with fleshing out their women's rosters, though, as that could be a huge problem for them in the long run. That said, I'm giving this week's RAW a C for "Christmas is for children, Corbin!"

    Quick Hitters:
    • Elias opened RAW with his usual schtick and then beat Bobby Lashley with Lio Rush at ringside in a Miracle on 34th Street Fight to hopefully end this feud. These two superb athletes need to move on from each other now. We were promised new matchups and this isn't a new matchup. It's been going on for so long now, it's getting boring. I would complain about a world champion-caliber athlete like Lashley losing to former comedy schtick Elias but then I remembered this was a Christmas show, so naturally all the faces would win their matches. Eh. Lio taking an eggnog bath was hilarious, though, and the Legos thing was genius. Not a bad way to end a feud. Hopefully.
    • We got more NXT arrivals on video and the return of Kevin Owens. I hope he pop-up powerbombs Bobby Lashley and not shake his hand right away. Lashley took him out, remember? He should get his revenge and turn up his whole prizefighter gimmick up a notch again. Owens should be as dangerous as they come. Owens' bestie Sami Zayn also got a video package for his return, though I'm less sure if he's coming back as a heel. Hmm.
    • Finn Bálor got an impressive win over both Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre, with Ziggler eating the pin. There were rumors circulating that Finn was going to get a major push next year, so I guess they're already planting the seeds on this show. McIntyre and Ziggler are going head to head next week, which I hope means McIntyre goes over Ziggler and challenges Braun Strowman for the Universal Championship after the Monster Among Men wins the belt from Brock Lesnar. Hey, a guy can dream. Where does Ziggler go from here? Only time will tell. Maybe a Netflix special? He deserves it. This was a great match, and considering the talent involved, that was expected. McIntyre dominated most of the match and was protected in defeat, so it's a Christmas miracle for everyone involved. 
    • Sasha Banks, Bayley, and Ember Moon (aka former NXT Women's Champions WWE doesn't know what to do with) defeated Mickie James, Dana Brooke, and Alicia Fox in a pretty sloppy match that was just all over the place. The crowd didn't seem to care about this match, which was disappointing, considering the talent involved. Post-match, the Riott Squad attacked the babyfaces and I guess we have our next feud in the coming weeks. Hey, at least Dana is finally getting some ring time, right?
    • Heath Slater is back, baybay!!! As a wrestler, anyway, not a referee. Slater picked up the win over Jinder Mahal via DQ when the Singh brothers ran in. Santa Rhyno made the save, though, and it's a Christmas miracle! (Not really, though it's good to see Rhyno after Corbin fired him.) 
    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. The women's tag team titles are going to be so iiconic.
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    Item Reviewed: The Smark Henry RAW Review (12/24/18): The RAW Before Christmas Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Pepe Serapio
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