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    Wednesday, January 6, 2021

    The RAW RhetoRick (1/4/21): Upset Overdrive (feat. Legends)

    It's Monday. You know what that means. No, it's not Legends Night. It's not the first RAW episode of the year, either. It means it's the grand return of ya boy Ricky Publico, and this is the RAW RhetoRick.

    I'd like to thank my Smark Henry overlords for keeping the seat warm, but now I'm back delivering the goods. I would say it's nice to be back writing another goddamn RAW review, but you and I both know it rarely is. Case in point: this week's Legends Night where a bunch of has-beens (okay, some of them were actually great) get to steal the spotlight from the younger, more able talents. One of them even had the audacity to challenge for the WWE Championship. I didn't see Sting do that on Dynamite

    Now you'll probably expect me to lose my shit over this nonsensical booking of legends, and I probably should. But the thing is, RAW has become an unredeemable part of our weekly wrestling routine. At this point, you should expect the steamiest pile of shit from WWE's supposed A-show. Goldberg challenging Drew McIntyre like he can actually last a minute and a half in the ring is pretty much the norm. Same old, same old. You getting upset about it is already equivalent to you getting worked. 

    But I'll say this as calmly as I can: these legends offer no value in today's wrestling. Tell me, did we really need Ric Flair flirting with other female wrestlers at ringside? Did Drew McIntyre really need a Hulk Hogan rub? He's already boring as it is! Remove the legend cameos from this episode, replace them with promos from other unused talents, and you'll get one of the most refreshing RAW episodes in decades. How many times do I have to teach this lesson to you, old man Vince? 

    I sound like a broken record, but I'll say it anyway: WWE should focus on their present and invest in their future. The past? *in my thickest and fakest New York accent* forgeddaboudit. So unless these legends can deliver two finishing moves without exhausting themselves or cut their iconic promos without out-of-touch references, I respectfully request them to fuck off and let the younger talents do their thing. Besides, Mustafa Ali summed it up perfectly. Hey, who let him in on RAW Talk?

    For the sake of my sanity, I'm choosing to ignore the "legends" from this point on. Instead, I'd like to focus on what the active RAW roster did this week because after all, they're the ones making the show happen.

    Who needs legends when you have Drew McIntyre and Keith Lee slugging it out for a good 20 minutes? What a way to welcome the new year. They could've completed the night of upsets with a Keith Lee title victory, but I guess that was asking for too much. Still, I'm thankful for the hard-hitting affair that reminded us how limitless Keith Lee really is and how heroic Drew McIntyre looks as the conquering champion. Just forget about the post-match segment and this match is golden.

    I don't even think I'm exaggerating here. This is easily the WWE match to beat this year because of how earth-shattering it felt. Seriously, go check this match out if you can only tolerate one match from WWE every week. It had all the things you can expect from these two warriors and yes, it had the Keith Lee yeet, probably his biggest one yet. If this match had more time, I would elect for the Limitless One to be the first to kick out of the Claymore Kick just to paint him as a hell of a competitor in defeat.

    And sure, Kofi Kingston, Xavier Woods, The Miz, and John Morrison engaged in a lengthy cringe comedy battle, but they were saved by perennial tag team booker and Undertaker feeder Teddy Long. And nothing saves a cringey opening segment better than a fantastic tag team match. The New Day rarely has a bad night at this point in their careers and this week wasn't one of those, while I'll always enjoy watching the criminally underrated John Morrison work his magic inside the ring.

    If there's something worth ranting about, it's the convoluted Randy Orton/Fiend saga. I don't even get it at this point. So The Fiend is now burned to ashes. This week's episode didn't even start with the conclusion of last week's cliffhanger and now it's safe to assume Alexa Bliss is gone, too. And all of the burning leads to Orton once again becoming the Legend Killer? That's it? If this vehicle wasn't meant to boost The Fiend's stock, I certainly didn't expect it to kick Orton back to the past. 

    To be honest, I didn't even mind seeing The Fiend get written off. His character was getting a bit stale lately and if a break is necessary to give him some sort of a reboot, I'm all for it. But man, does it have to be this needlessly confusing and directionless? Alexa's Playground had a lot of potential. Orton destroying the Fun House was also interesting at best. Why stop the narrative there? I really hope these senior citizen harassments are a product of this week's theme and not a permanent thing.

    CLOSING RHETORICK: Now that I think about it, this week's episode was filled with upset wins and fun matches all around. Lucha House Party beating the Hurt Business? Now that's something. Not only that, but it was also a tag team-centric show. Tag teams don't really get love that often on the main roster. Sadly, it was also plagued with useless appearances from people WWE considers legends. Mickie James ain't even a legend yet, man. She's still a great active wrestler dammit! But hey, remember what I said earlier: always expect the worst. 

    Show Grade: C

    RhetoRickal Questions That Didn't Make The Cut

    • This week's episode also had a lot of callbacks from days past. From Charlotte Flair shooing away his father to Orton targeting Jeff Hardy's earlobes, they really were trying to bring us back to the past with their laziness. Even Ric Flair flirting with a female wrestler while managing her daughter has been done before with Becky Lynch. Hey Creative, have you tried, um, I don't know, trying?
    • Speaking of Charlotte Flair, how about her giving Peyton Royce the rub? Whatever gave the people backstage the idea of giving us exciting results this week? I wish these people advised Vince McMahon not to book these legends and instead focus on giving us a refreshing episode from top to bottom, amirite?
    • Needless to say, this wasn't the Hurt Business' best night. If there was one upset I wish didn't happen, it's Bobby Lashley losing to Riddle. I thought they were protecting Lashley for an eventual push. Why end his winning streak on a random RAW episode, even if it was a shenanigan loss. Shayna Baszler losing to Dana Brooke also blows. 
    • And as if losing to the Lucha House Party wasn't enough, Cedric Alexander was already teasing some sort of breaking away... from the group that made him relevant again. Don't mess this up, Creative! We don't need a modern-day Evolution breakup, not when we have a kickass stable again after a long while. At least let this Hurt Business run last more than a couple of months first?
    • Aren't AJ Styles and The Miz supposed to be feuding? Why is he wasting his time with Elias and Ryker? Still a fun match though. And on the plus side, I hope Omos gets to beat the beard off Ryker one of these days, in kayfabe of course. 
    • 24/7 Champion Angel Garza. What a concept. 

    GIF of the Week

    Of course it's the Keith Lee yeet. What else is there to GIF?

    Header image from WWE.com


    Ricky Publico (@nyamnyamgarbage) is Smark Henry's resident RAW and 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's anxious about the future, now more than ever. LET HIM IN.
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    Item Reviewed: The RAW RhetoRick (1/4/21): Upset Overdrive (feat. Legends) Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Ricky Jay Publico
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