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    Wednesday, March 18, 2020

    RAWDown RunDown (3/16/20): A Crowdless Future

    I know this is a RAW review, but we can’t just ignore the huge bombshell of an announcement that WrestleMania will take place in an empty arena at the WWE Performance Center. It’s a historic, unprecedented event for sure and I was originally going to commend them for pushing through. Somehow, my fascination with a crowdless WWE blinded me to the fact that continuing WrestleMania is still a huge health risk, even if they adhere to medical protocol. 

    This portion would've been a diatribe about how great an empty WrestleMania would be. Good thing I have smart people around me to talk me down and make me see the light. Yes, WrestleMania Empty Arena would suck. If a new WWE Champion is crowned and no one’s around to cheer for him, is it still epic? It probably won't be. But I have to admit, I'm still interested to see WrestleMania No People go down. But yeah, WrestleMania Crickets should be cancelled—or at least postponed—for the good of all humanity. 

    Luckily, WWE seems to agree. There are reports circulating that they're trying to move WrestleMania Empty Pirate Ship to June 7 at Madison Square Garden. While there's no final word yet on those rumors, let's just hope WWE will come to their senses like I did about this whole mess. It's not like they offer their people health insurance. And even if they do, most insurers probably won't cover a pandemic. The least they could do is to send everyone home and wait for all of these to blow over. After all, sharing a locker room and gathering all the talents and crew together for such an event don't fall under social distancing.

    And now that I think about it, the COVID-19 quarantine extravaganza will give talent an unintended off-season to rest their bodies and be with their loved ones in this time of dread. Sure, we won't have a big event for a few months and so, but at least we can all guarantee everyone's safety, talent and audience alike. I'm also glad that it's WrestleMania that they're canceling and not, let's say, Royal Rumble. I won't enjoy that at all. Don't touch my favorite PPV, you monsters.

    And now, back to your semi-regular programming as RAW celebrated 3:16 Day. I didn’t realize WWE has its own May 4 type of thing. It’s pretty cool, I guess. Although it’s clear that Stone Cold Steve Austin himself is now part of the “should-not-move-that-much” list after accidentally kicking Byron Saxton straight in the balls. But hey, at least he’s not headlining WrestleMania Number of Your Friends, amirite? 

    Good thing Becky Lynch, the spiritual successor of Stone Cold, was there to make this segment watchable. The truck was a nice touch as an homage to the crazy vehicles Stone Cold drove in the past. And before she got all chummy with the Rattlesnake, Becky Lynch took care of business when she explained how she’ll hit Shayna Baszler with a truck (metaphorically, of course) at WrestleMania Status of Your Sex Life. Crowd or no crowd, The Man sure does come around. 

    Another reason why I’m currently enjoying the empty arena setup is because it gives emotional promos more weight. The silence allows the emotion to scream louder than the actual promo. And if Edge is the one doing the talking, you know he’s going to knock it out of the park once more. Ultimately, the crowdless atmosphere brings us professional wrestling at its purest form. Without a crowd trying to dilute the performance, we get art. We get masterpieces.

    Masterpieces like Edge accessing raw emotions by talking about being inspired by Mick Foley and the sacrifices of his dear mother who passed away, him looking straight at the camera with his crazy, unblinking eyes to challenge Randy Orton to a Last Man Standing match at WrestleMania The Number of People Who Actually Loves You. And I just love that at the end of the day, this rivalry all boils down to grit—the fact that Edge has it and Randy Orton doesn’t. Simple yet complicated, just the way I like it.

    Meanwhile, it’s a surreal sight to see The Undertaker at the WWE Performance Center. I still don’t want to see him wrestle again, but I will always respect the Deadman’s work ethic and humility. AJ Styles could’ve easily worked this segment alone and Taker would be the one at the other end, but nah fam, that’s not how The Undertaker does business. And also, is Undertaker going to be the American Badass at WrestleMania Yo Mama so White, She’s Invisible?

    And AJ Styles’ promo this week made better sense that I’m not even mad about it having a shoot-y angle. After all, Undertaker did interject himself randomly in Styles’ SaudiMania match. Now it makes sense why Styles decided to include Michelle McCool into the mix. Styles doubling down on Undertaker being a shell of his former self felt more organic compared to last week’s promo. Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows acting scared around the Deadman was just comedic icing to this already great segment. Great stuff from all men involved. 

    RAWDOWN RUNDOWN: This week’s episode of RAW is pretty much the same as last week’s episode of SmackDown: a fun PPV match replay sandwiched in-between great segments. While the crowdless setup is starting to become the norm and I’m hyped to see what a crowdless WrestleMania Your Love Life would look like, let's all hope WWE decides to see the light and make right with their employees and talent. Cancel the show, people. We're okay with PPV replays for a while. 

    Show Grade: B+

    RunDown CutDown

    • As much as I enjoyed the Styles/Taker segment, I just found it funny how they tried to mask Undertaker’s real capabilities by having him do his gong teleport thingy to go behind Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows. It was clever, I’ll give them that, but it was still hilarious. 
    • Replaying the entire Men’s Royal Rumble match? I ain’t even mad. That was a great match.
    • SmackDown had Triple H and Michael Cole. RAW had Asuka. Who won? All of us. What, am I supposed to analyze why she’s randomly commentating on the Andrade vs. Rey Mysterio match? Just enjoy the ride, man. Like I said, we all won.
    • Also, I loved how they didn’t bother replaying the entire Women’s Elimination Chamber match this week. I respect the self-awareness right there. 
    Photos from WWE.com


    Ricky Publico (@TeetotaleRicky) is Smark Henry's resident SmackDown reviewer... for better or worse. A known lover of wrestling tournaments, he's a sucker for well-executed promos and fast-paced matches. While he enjoys nitpicking shows, he now prefers enjoying wrestling for what it is instead of stressing himself over things he can't control. He also writes reviews for PWR and everyone loves him for it. Don't fact check that.
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    Item Reviewed: RAWDown RunDown (3/16/20): A Crowdless Future Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Ricky Jay Publico
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