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    Wednesday, April 15, 2020

    The RAW RhetoRick (4/13/20): Send. Them. Home!

    New column, who dis? I did warn you that the RAW reviews are now under yo boy Ricky's jurisdiction, so of course I'm going to make myself feel at home. The first order of business? Making everything my own. So welcome to the first edition of The RAW RhetoRick! No more #NitPickRick, it's all about the #RhetoRick now, baby! Get with the program. 

    And it's weird (or appropriate, now that I think about it) how I'm going to start my newly-minted column with a good ol' rant because WHY IN THE BLUE HELL IS WWE STILL INSISTING ON PRODUCING LIVE SHOWS??!! Are they aware that there's a goddamn pandemic killing thousands of people worldwide? I was expecting WrestleMania 36 to be the last of it, but no, live crowd-free shows will push through as if to show how the company cares so little about everyone's lives. 

    All of this for what, entertaining the people stuck at home? Nah, fam, this ain't it. Vince wants to act like a fucking martyr trying to save everyone from their boredom that he forgot that the people working for him are human beings and not machines. You know, humans with organic matter where viruses love to host their orgies? Some people are even more vulnerable than others and yet they're still required to expose themselves to the dreaded coronavirus. 

    Daniel Bryan reportedly has an autoimmune disease that leaves his body wide open to COVID-19. He had to be quarantined in a hotel to avoid infecting his pregnant wife Brie Bella. There’s also Jerry Lawler, who’s a 70-year-old COVID-19 prime target. Believe me, there are more reasons to bench Lawler other than his age and the pandemic would’ve been the best excuse to finally retire the old man. Ramen Noodle Moonsault? Really, King?

    Hell, even Roman Reigns wised up and stepped out of the game. I’m surprised the others didn’t follow suit, even the ones who were rumored to be sick two weeks ago. Just this weekend, WWE confirmed that someone contracted COVID-19 during the production of WrestleMania 36. Isn’t that enough reason to shut everything down and wait until this crisis is over? Are we waiting for half of the roster to get infected? Sadly, I’m pretty sure that won’t stop Vince. 

    And apparently, Vince pulled some major strings to keep his circus going. He even got Florida Governor Ron Desantis to declare that WWE is an "essential business" that needs to continue operation. As I was writing that previous sentence, the meaning of the word "essential" began evaporating into nothingness as if Grammar Thanos snapped his fingers, effectively erasing half of the words in the English dictionary. Essential, my fucking ass.

    And breaking news, Vince McMahon is one of the chosen ones who will advise Donald Trump on how to restart the economy after COVID-19. What the fuck is he going to contribute to the goddamn economy? Brock Lesnar to F5 all the admin's critics? Goldberg to spear the unemployment rate? Undertaker to chokeslam poverty? Tax millennials and pay the old timers more money? That last one sounds like a joke, but in Trump's America, it sounds like a foolproof plan.

    As much as I love pro wrestling, even I can recognize that the last thing we need is a wrestling company endangering their workers for everyone's entertainment. You know what's essential right now? Food donations, increased funding for COVID-19 research, nationwide mass testing, financial assistance for the lower class, good governance, those sorts of things. Watching half-naked people wrestle won't help eradicate the pandemic, Brenda. 

    The "noble cause" of entertaining the masses is such a bullshit reason, considering other forms of media exist. Anyone can just pick a show on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, HBO Go, and other streaming platforms out there and boom, their weekend is full. My life doesn't revolve around wrestling, and I bet my bottom dollar most fans are the same. So for the love of everything holy, someone convince Vince McMahon to send everyone home!

    Why is everyone so obsessed to establish normalcy at a time like this? The mere fact that a pandemic is killing people means things aren’t normal at all. Normalcy will only be achieved once a vaccine is created. Forcing wrestlers to work wouldn’t magically turn everything back to normal. And before you pull the herd immunity card, remember that it will only work if hospitals are equipped with vaccines as an agent to help our bodies produce antibodies. It’s not a fucking ticket to go out and ignore all the COVID-19 preventive measures. 

    What annoys me even more is that this week’s episode was actually pretty good. The Drew McIntyre Era continues to generate steam that it really pisses me off how his reign had to chug on without a crowd. They even addressed this in a well-produced video package and while I appreciate the effort, it wasn’t enough to increase my craving to see the WWE Champion receive the crowd reaction he definitely deserved. 

    You should probably just skip this paragraph because I’ll just swoon over Drew McIntyre and how the WWE Championship perfectly suits him. Just look at his latest renders as the champion. Look at it. Look at the glorious man! He looks like a proper beast, especially when he was face-to-face with Andrade. His match with the latter was good, too. I completely forgot about their history back in NXT and it’s smart to exploit that now to boost Drew’s stock.

    And then there’s Seth Rollins, the perfect first rival for the new WWE Champion. The way he made his intentions clear was textbook great. Two Curbstomps! That’s all we need. I’m glad he didn’t start a lame tirade after the attack. I’m hyped for this rivalry and the more I think about it, the more frustrated I get that this is going down in front of no one. Goddamnit, Vince! Can’t we just wait for things to go back to normal before pushing through with WWE canon? 

    Since we talked about Andrade already, let’s discuss the Zelina Vega Group of Talents and how they’re starting to grow on me. I love how her team started out as a couple of Andrade placeholders and now that the real one is back in action, Zelina accidentally formed a formidable team composed of future WWE main-eventers. Angel Garza and Austin Theory each got decisive and dominating victories, although Garza’s win was way better. 

    On the women's side of things, for the second week in a row, Asuka bags the best match of the night with her MITB qualifying match against Ruby Riott. The crowdless setup is forcing the personality out of Asuka and I’m loving every bit of it. Too bad her tag team partner Kairi Sane got the shorter end of the stick by getting her ass handed to her by Nia Jax. Why can’t Nia face Liv Morgan? Wouldn’t it be fun to see the former members of the Riott Squad take Ls and use that as fuel for either a reunion or a rivalry? I don’t know, I just like Kairi Sane and I hate seeing her job to anyone. 

    And how about that Shayna Baszler vs. Sarah Logan fuck up? I’m pretty sure there’s a better way to make Shayna look more menacing and dangerous. Having an opponent succumb to a painful yet insignificant stomp isn’t one of them. Declaring her the loser of the match most certainly didn’t help either. They can’t afford making dumb mistakes like this, especially after hyping her up as the Cagefighter, only to lose at WrestleMania 36. Do better next time. 

    To close this newly christened column, let’s talk about the tag team match of the night, The Viking Raiders vs. Ricochet and Cedric Alexander. Sure, they botched the ending a little bit, but it was still a fun match anyone can chew on. It was that good that I didn’t mind seeing the newly-formed duo lose their second match as an official team. Also, it’s just fun to hear Ricochet talk trash while flying around the ring. 

    CLOSING RHETORICK: Credit where credit is due: this week’s episode was pretty solid, actually. If we weren’t in the midst of a pandemic and if there were people present, I would’ve given their effort a higher grade. But we all know what the best course of action for WWE is: to send everyone home to their families. I don’t want WWE’s negligence to compromise the health of the people who entertain us the most.

    RAW Grade: C+

    Some RhetoRickal Questions to Ponder On

    • Why is Charlotte Flair still hanging out on RAW? She couldn't be bothered to cut this week’s promo last week on NXT? Whatever happened to NXT as the third brand? There are so many other ways to respect the brand separation and clearly, this ain’t one of them.
    • Why is NXT still jobbing to everyone? It’s weird enough that the NXT Women’s Champion is still on RAW, now they have to deal with their roster becoming the jobber reserve? 
    • From a scale of 1 to E-S-T, how awesome is Bianca Belair? I definitely enjoyed how she busted the Street Profits’ balls with a fierce pep talk. The Street Profits-Belair Coalition is definitely off to a great start, and all it took was a backstage segment. 
    • When exactly is MVP retiring? Not everyone can do the Undertaker routine, MVP. The main requirement for that is you have to be the Undertaker. And since he’s not the Undertaker, his retirement schtick just became more of a running joke now.
    • Does anyone still care about Bobby Lashley and Lana? I don’t, I never did. Just really curious if anyone still gives even a singular fuck about this storyline. Also, No Way Jose’s whole schtick can’t fly in today’s COVID-19 reality. No more conga lines for a while, people. 
    Photos from WWE.com


    Ricky Publico (@TeetotaleRicky) is Smark Henry's resident RAW 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: The RAW RhetoRick (4/13/20): Send. Them. Home! Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Ricky Jay Publico
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