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    Wednesday, January 29, 2020

    The Smark Henry RAW Review (1/27/20): Here Comes A New Challenger

    The Road To WrestleMania has officially begun, and wouldn't you know it, RAW is actually off to a decent start. We've already got Drew McIntyre and Brock Lesnar on a collision course towards one another and the Randy Orton/Edge feud we never got a decade ago. Plus, there's Charlotte Flair seemingly turning heel for the nth time and teasing us by not revealing which champion she's going after as the Women's Royal Rumble winner.

    Let me start with the best part: Drew McIntyre is challenging Brock Lesnar for the WWE Championship. This was something fans have been speculating about for a while, but it didn't seem like it was in the cards given how unpredictable the Royal Rumble matches were heading into the big show over the weekend. Fast forward to today and WWE has managed to build Drew up as a credible star and Rumble winner. Hell, I'm even more invested in this knowing what McIntyre's meta-narrative is and having seen him go through that journey through the indies firsthand.

    I'm all in on McIntyre vs. Lesnar because Drew can actually be a compelling face when he's written well. We saw a bit of it in his run on NXT, when he went on a dominant streak en route to the NXT Championship in 2017. For his part, Brock has managed to be an all-time dick, especially with how he's interacted with RAW Superstars. The Beast even bothered to show up and fire the first shot this week by attacking Drew after he'd disposed of The O.C.—way to bury your tag team division, WWE—all by himself. This should be a fun build. And WWE is in a great position to build a new star. They just better not drop the ball on Drew (again).

    As for Edge vs. Randy Orton, man, I don't know what to feel about this feud. Randy Orton had just turned face, and all of a sudden, the Rumble has led to several Superstars turning like the aforementioned Charlotte, Drew McIntyre himself, and now, the Viper. Then again, Orton has always been a treacherous character, so I can cut this turn a bit of slack. We still don't know why Orton chose to strike at Edge right as the latter made his triumphant return to the ring. But there's a lot of history between these guys, dating back to their days as the former World Tag Team Champions, Rated-RKO.

    The Edge/Orton match could take place at the next edition of WWE Blood Money in February or it could happen at WrestleMania. I honestly wouldn't mind if the former scenario happened because knowing what we know now about Edge's schedule, I'd like to have this WrestleMania program be in the service of building up a new star. If they can do it for Drew, then why can't they do this for another young gun?

    Okay, let's talk about Charlotte. I'm not a fan of turning her heel again just because she's just changing alignments whenever it's convenient for Creative now. It's such a lazy storytelling move and robs her character of any development. Hey, Creative, you ever wonder why we stopped caring about Big Show or Braun Strowman? It's because they flip-flop between hero and villain too many damn times!

    So Charlotte doesn't want to be forthcoming about who she wants to challenge. I can live with that. WrestleMania isn't until April, so if you want to be cunning and opportunistic, why would you give your opponent a heads up months in advance? The likely reason for this is that Creative hasn't decided how their 'Mania plans go forward from here yet. That's okay, too. I just hope it leads us to Rhea Ripley vs. Charlotte Flair. Hey, we're already here since Shayna Baszler didn't win the Rumble. And since we're on the theme of creating new stars here, why should we stop now? There's an obvious blue-chipper in Rhea Ripley waiting for her WrestleMania moment.

    Overall, this week's RAW was not a bad way to kick off WrestleMania season. We didn't have to start everyone's arcs this week, and there's nothing wrong with that. Kevin Owens and Samoa Joe's beef with Seth Rollins and his disciples continued, with the Viking Raiders serving as their resbak to take out AOP and I actually enjoyed this wrinkle. And, hey! Neither Rusev nor Bobby Lashley were on TV this week, plus Lana and Liv Morgan didn't take too much time and their stupid angle wasn't in the main event spot! RAW still isn't as good as it can be, but it's semi-watchable, which means it deserves a very solid B.

    Quick Hitters:

    • Andrade better defend the U.S. Championship when he returns from his suspension. Wait, is the "Champions must defend their titles in 30 days or else they'll be stripped" clause still in effect? Does anybody even remember that it used to be a thing?
    • I was pleasantly surprised to see MVP come out and wrestle Rey Mysterio on RAW, even though it came out of left field. Now that we know that it was his last WWE match, I can say I'm glad MVP had one last go-round in him on the WWE platform. Thanks for the memories and keep ballin', sir.
    • Hey, it's Kenneth Johnson from the Cruiserweight Classic! I feel bad that most people won't even know or remember that since he was just Enhancement Talent X for Aleister Black on RAW.
    • The Street Profits can keep being the Greek chorus of RAW and I won't mind because they're still way more interesting than AEW's Private Party, who have a similar gimmick and yet are not compelling at all.
    • Riddick Moss appearing on RAW as Mojo Rawley's "offensive lineman" is one of the most random things and I don't know what to make of it yet. He looks a bit smaller than I remember him, though. And, well, now I'm beginning to wonder where Tino Sabbatelli is. That said, I don't mind this new direction for the 24/7 Championship because it actually makes its storyline worth following if only to see who gets to take Mojo and Moss down.
    What did you think of this week's RAW? Are you happy with how WrestleMania season is starting? Let us know in the comments section below!

    Header image from WWE


    Stan Sy (@_StanSy) is the Editor at Large of Smark Henry and is also a radio DJ on Wave 89.1, an events host, a freelance writer, and one of the hosts of The Smark Gilas-Pilipinas Podcast. He also used to be one of the hosts and writers of The Wrestling Gods on FOX. He enjoys watching WWE, NXTLucha Underground, and the occasional New Japan match. You can ask him questions about wrestling, Survivor (yes, the reality show), or whatever you like on his CuriousCat account.
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    Item Reviewed: The Smark Henry RAW Review (1/27/20): Here Comes A New Challenger Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Stan Sy
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