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    Thursday, April 25, 2019

    The Smark Henry RAW Review (4/22/19): Phenomenal Funhouse

    I've got to admit, this week's RAW was a little better than I expected, and that had a lot to do with all the new stuff—the new characters, the new names, and most importantly, the new feuds. If there's anything we can take away from this week's RAW, it's that WWE definitely listens to its fans... at least when it comes to hilariously bad ring names. Well, technically, they just turned last week's snafu into a finishing move but we get what we get.

    Before we delve into that experience (get it?), I just have to say that the Usos coming over to RAW from SmackDown injected some newfound interest onto the Red Brand's tag team division. I've been so used to seeing the Usos on the Blue Brand, feuding with The New Day or The Bar, that seeing them here—potentially feuding with The Revival—just got me a little bit excited for the future of this division. RAW is three hours long, so building the tag teams to accommodate some of that time is most definitely a good thing.

    WWE discreetly renaming the Viking Raiders is hilarious. Did they think we wouldn't notice the change? To be fair, though, it's not like they could do anything else at this point. The Viking Experience name was too awkward and ill-fitting for Hanson and Rowe, I mean Erik and Ivar, that it was—and quite possibly will be for quite some time—pretty much a glaring topic among wrestling fans. 

    I thought giving that old name to their finisher was genius, though. It actually fits better as a finisher name than a ring name. Remember when I said last week that the name sounds like a ride at an amusement park? Well, the finisher is exactly like that—a ride at an amusement park that went wrong, with you falling off the ride and the ride falling on top of you. 

    The Viking Raiders raiding (get it?) the Lucha House Party and destroying all three members was a decent way of showing that these guys mean business. It's only a matter of time before they take the RAW Tag Team Championships from, uhm, who were the—oh, yes, Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder! I definitely did not forget they were the current champions. No, sir. Ahem.

    Speaking of getting new names, Robert Roode also got himself a sexy new mustache. His new character reminds me so much of Ravishing Rick Rude, and I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who's suffering from that reference. It's that sexy new mustache, isn't it? The name and the abs both help, too. 

    I'm honestly very interested to see where they go with Roode's new character, as he could easily be a big-time player in the singles division if handled correctly. I just wish he didn't have to go over Ricochet, as I'm sure someone else could've taken that loss. However, Roode handing Ricochet his first loss on the main roster could be evidence that he really is getting the push that his glorious heel work deserves. 

    While we're on the topic of new characters, Bray Wyatt finally made his return and it's not what I—and I'm guessing everyone else?—expected. Seemingly gone is the Eater of Worlds, with Funhouse Bray even chainsawing a cardboard stand-in of his former look. In its place is a creepy pastiche of Mister Rogers and Steve from Blue's Clues, except he has really weird puppets. Damn, I was so hoping that creepy doll was a reference to Nikki Cross joining him in his new faction.

    Bray was really good here. I'm giving the character the benefit of the doubt, considering the subtle sinister undertones of this segment. The maniacal laughter? The gloves? The freaking chainsaw? His new catchphrase—lighting the way as long as you let him in—also adds to the potential brilliance of this new version of Bray Wyatt. This reminded me of that trope where the crazy villain convinces the entire town that he's all good now, but he actually isn't. What I love about Bray Wyatt is so very much alive here, and his ability to captivate with rich mythologies and background stories is just so dang good.

    Triple H opened this week's show and I was a little confused because sure, he was a face during his WrestleMania match against Batista, but Vince McMahon just got a Superman Punch to the face on last week's SmackDown Live, so, like, that means the McMahons are heels, right? Shane is most definitely still a heel while Steph is... also confusing. 

    Oh, wait, Triple H shook hands with Universal Champion Seth Rollins, so I guess he's definitely a face at the moment. All things considered, though, this was pretty awesome. Seth was actually the first-ever NXT Champion and we all know Triple H as our NXT Daddy, so this was pretty cool. If only Michael Cole didn't spoil Triple H's big announcement from commentary. 

    United States Champion Samoa Joe interrupting Seth and Triple H to announce he was now on RAW, not to mention threatening Seth's title reign, was expected, considering the Intercontinental Championship jumped ship to SmackDown with Finn the Human Bálor. Rey Mysterio, The Miz, Drew McIntyre, and "The Phenomenal" AJ Styles all made great arguments for why they should face Seth for the title at Money in the Bank. Corbin was also there because everyone hates him. 

    The two Triple Threat matches were fantastic. The first one had three former SmackDown talents go at it in a bid to prove who was the best, with Styles and Mysterio trying to out-wrestle each other while Joe was coming in to kill them both; while the second one had The Miz unlucky enough to find himself caught between a Scottish warrior and an annoying bartender. 

    I just wasn't a fan of the only champion competing here getting pinned. Joe and the United States Championship should've been protected, especially considering Mysterio wouldn't have lost any credibility if he was the one who ate the pin. He's the underdog. He'll always bounce back. Plus, he's a freaking legend. Joe, meanwhile, just made his first appearance on RAW as a champion, and this was not a good way to welcome his title reign. Still, the finish was pretty creative, capitalizing on the match format, and I appreciated the fact that Joe at least had to take two (one and a half?) finishers to be put down. 

    Corbin beating both McIntyre and Miz was definitely annoying but I guess I understand the choice. You had a babyface win the first Triple Threat, so a heel had to win the second for that good old-fashioned dynamic. I would've liked for Drew to win this one instead but I suppose it could be too early. Plus, the finish did give birth to a rift between the oft-allied Corbin and Drew, which hopefully means that they'll finally stop teaming together. Drew doesn't need Corbin. That much is obvious. That and that Tower of Doom spot being pretty awesome.

    Styles inevitably going over Corbin was the right choice, perhaps the only choice. I at least thought this match-up wouldn't happen before SummerSlam but I'm very stoked for Styles versus Rollins at Money in the Bank. It really doesn't even matter who wins in that match because we're all getting a phenomenal bout that we deserve. Or at least have been whining for since forever.

    RAW REVIEW: The overall storyline of crowning a number one contender for the Universal Championship became a bit too complicated here, to be honest, especially if you consider all the other options they could've gone with to get to Styles versus Rollins—like a six-way elimination match. Two Triple Threat matches just seems to be the more complicated and unnecessary choice, and yet both matches delivered with both the in-ring action and storytelling, each proving to be uniquely different from the other. With the exciting prospect that is the Universal Championship match at Money in the Bank as well as the interesting character revamps of Wyatt, Roode, and possibly even Cesaro, I'm giving this week's RAW a B for "Bray's Clues."  

    Quick Hitters:

    • I popped when WWE Women's Tag Team Champions The IIconics made their entrance. That new "IIconic!" hook before their theme was, well, iconic. The crowd even chanted along with it, which points to a promising start for the duo after wading around in comedy skits. These two are hilarious but that doesn't mean they can't do with a little more credibility. Wait, Naomi already pinned Billie Kay while I was typing this? Oh, for vegemite's sake!
    • Sami Zayn continues to be the best heel promo in the WWE today. The whole "fans are to blame for everything" ideology is nothing new but Sami's delivery definitely makes it great. You can almost relate and even sympathize with his argument, especially given today's climate. 
    • It's great seeing Cedric Alexander finally moving on from 205 Live. Officially. He's too big for that show, to be honest, and I mean he's physically too big. I'm not even sure he was able to keep to the 205 lbs weight requirement the entire time. 
    • Cesaro appearing on RAW is a bit odd since he was on SmackDown Live a week ago. What's even odder, though more appreciated, is Cesaro getting the win over Alexander. You'd think they'd give Cedric the Ali treatment from SmackDown but nope. Not that I'm complaining. Cesaro deserves more wins, to be honest, though maybe they could've spared Cedric this loss. 
    • Lacey Evans getting some mic time against RAW and SmackDown Women's Champion Becky Lynch wasn't as terrible as I expected. Evans really has a good grasp on her character and Becky is Becky. 
    • Becky's match with Alicia Fox, though, went longer than it should have. Fox doesn't really have that much credibility at the moment while Becky just "retired" Ronda Rousey (let me have this). Lacey attacking Becky after the match was a great way to get great heat.
    Images from WWE


    Jofer Serapio (@ShawarmaJoereviews WWE RAW 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 used his huge pull backstage to get Samoa Joe on RAW.
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    Item Reviewed: The Smark Henry RAW Review (4/22/19): Phenomenal Funhouse Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Pepe Serapio
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