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    Wednesday, January 22, 2020

    The Smark Henry RAW Review (1/20/20): Prepare the Way for the Messiah

    I love heel factions.

    From the moment I first started following wrestling religiously, I found myself drawn to groups like Evolution or JBL's Cabinet because they were so fun to hate. Every time they beat down the heroes I was rooting for—whether it was Chris Benoit, a defecting Randy Orton, or a young John Cena—it made me want to cheer for them even more because of the possibility that they'd finally figure out a way to topple down the evil group. Nothing gets me more invested in a story than seeing villains coming together to form a supergroup hell-bent on making life miserable for the babyfaces.

    That's why I'm actually invested in this Monday Night Messiah arc. Seth Rollins has found himself in a faction once again, but this time, he's the biggest heel instead of being the protegé of the real big bad, as he was when he was Triple H and Stephanie McMahon's chosen one in The Authority. Having AOP flank Seth is a great move because he finally has two heavies who are way more imposing credible than J&J Security ever was. And now, he has a young gun in Buddy Murphy who fits the disciple role that he created for himself. He's a hungry follower looking to make an impact on RAW and what better way to do that than right next to Rollins and AOP?

    But for these guys to really make some noise, they had to go out and change the status quo. Otherwise, they would have just been a bunch of heels running their mouths but with nothing to show for it. They couldn't go after Brock Lesnar and the WWE Championship because Brock's a heel and because we don't need to see Seth vs. Brock again. That's why I thought it was refreshing that the Monday Night Messiah and his disciples went after the Viking Raiders and the RAW Tag Team Championships.

    Here's what I didn't like about the tag team title challenge. First, it wasn't explained why the Viking Raiders were suddenly invested in Kevin Owens and Samoa Joe's beef with Rollins and his crew. They could have at least hinted at it with a backstage segment that these four babyfaces have a shared ROH connection or that they're all just over Rollins and his high horse. Knowing how Vince McMahon reportedly has a habit of changing storylines on the day of the show, though, this could very well have been a last-minute change. Sigh.

    Second, uhh, what did Seth and Murphy even do to earn this title shot? The Viking Raiders have run roughshod over the entire RAW roster and have destroyed every tag team they've gone through, regardless of alignment. Nobody but The OC has beaten them in a tag match, and even that was a weird situation because WWE Blood Money. Outside of that, nobody has bested the Viking Raiders in a match for the titles, so what made Rollins and Murphy capable of booking themselves in a tag title match and actually deserving it?

    Now, I don't mind the title change too much. I'm not too angry about it because I was admittedly getting a bit tired of the Viking Raiders' tight grip on the championships. I just wish the team that would ultimately beat them was built up with as much steam as they were so that it could be an epic clash, especially on a show where the top champion is only visible once in a blue moon. It's pretty annoying that the mystique of the Viking Raiders—which took years to establish on both NXT and RAW—is basically down the drain. The only thing that redeemed it all was how Rollins and Murphy really had to cheat and cheat hard to get the job done. At least they didn't defeat Erik and Ivar cleanly.

    Well, we've got new tag champs now on RAW and regardless of my mixed feelings about how it all went down, I'm still curious to see how the Monday Night Messiah and his disciples run with this. More importantly, I want Seth to give his crew a name. Every good heel faction has had a memorable name.

    Man, if only Creative cared about hyping up the Royal Rumble Match—which is happening in less than a week—as much as they did Rollins and his band of villains or the stupid Rusev/Lana/Lashley/Liv storyline... I don't understand how WWE can afford to treat the Royal Rumble, which has two (!!!) Rumble Matches, with this much apathy. Outside of Charlotte Flair, we don't even know which other women are involved, let alone who else could give The Queen a run for her money. As for the men? Well, it took RAW until this week to establish the contenders like Rollins, Owens, Joe, and Drew McIntyre. Way to take the steam out of my favorite match of the year, guys.

    I can't even make a winner pick from RAW so I'll just say that a SmackDown guy wins it. With both world champions being unstoppable heels, let me put my money on an underdog of a babyface. Mustafa Ali. Calling it. Don't @ me.

    Grade: B-

    Match To Watch: Rey Mysterio vs. Andrade in a Ladder Match for the United States Championship

    Every time I watch Andrade take on Rey Mysterio, I keep thinking of him as this generation's Eddie Guerrero (minus the fluency in English for obvious reasons). I was about to bitch about how I've gotten tired of seeing these two wrestle because this feud has been on repeat as much as Aleister Black vs. Buddy Murphy. But they keep everybody on their toes and this Ladder Match, in particular, was just on fire that the Kansas crowd in attendance was just hot all throughout. Damn.

    Quick Hitters:

    • What is the point of dragging this Rusev/Lana/Lashley/Liv story out now? I mean, seriously?! (Yes, that's my best Lana impression.)
    • Welcome back, Humberto Carrillo. Now, can anyone explain just exactly why he has a title shot against Andrade?
    • Looks like we're getting a Drew McIntyre face turn just before he goes on to the Rumble. This could be a foreshadowing for a long run in the match or even a win.
    • Sarah Schreiber was extra sanctimonious during her backstage interview with Rollins and his disciples. I get that it could help that the heels shine by shooting her down. But, damn. I don't remember broadcast personnel being that self-righteous on TV. What gives?
    • As much as I love hearing Kairi and Asuka speaking in their native Japanese, can't we have subtitles so we can actually understand what they're saying? Is that too much to ask for?
    • I'm liking Brock Lesnar's one-liners after he nails people with an F-5 or a low blow. What a dick.
    • It is hilarious that Matt Hardy basically told everyone that Nadine Lustre trended higher on Twitter than he did right after he lost to Erick Rowan.
    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 (1/20/20): Prepare the Way for the Messiah Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Stan Sy
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