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    Tuesday, March 2, 2021

    The RAW RhetoRick (3/1/21): #THBAllBelts

    It finally happened. 

    Bobby Lashley ended his 16-year odyssey and finally became WWE Champion, only becoming the third Black titleholder in the company's history. His win was also the true culmination of The Hurt Business's rise to the top of the WWE, fulfilling MVP's goal of making champions out of the men he, well, championed. I'm Stan Sy, filling in for Ricky Publico on the RAW RhetoRick.

    I can't say we didn't see this coming.

    From the moment WWE showed us The Miz plotting with Bobby Lashley and MVP backstage at Elimination Chamber, they already planted the seeds that Lashley was going to be involved in the WWE Championship picture and that it had to have something to do with Miz cashing in. Looking back at the events that took place, you can trace everything down on a through-line and connect all the dots to form a cohesive story, where everyone's motivations were clearly laid out. Are we actually watching WWE television here???

    I know that there are a lot of angry Miz fans, all seething that The Awesome One couldn't even get a month-long title reign. I would be, too, if this quick run didn't serve a larger story. But it did. With Miz (and John Morrison) still rumored to be feuding with Bad Bunny and Damian Priest at WrestleMania, there's no way Misters Priest and Bunny were going to be within sniffing distance of the WWE title. Plus, with Drew McIntyre still hovering around the championship scene, the McIntyre/Lashley matchup looks like a money match heading into 'Mania, especially after the events of Elimination Chamber.

    All in all, The Miz was a transitional champion, yes. But like the Money in the Bank briefcase, Miz was frankly (and most importantly) a plot device that had served his purpose. He was the convenient vehicle to allow (1) Drew to drop the title, (2) Lashley to win the title, and (3) spark a personal feud between the two goliaths on the way to WrestleMania without spoiling us of a match between the two.

    While fans are now clamoring for a Brock Lesnar return so The Beast can face the CEO of The Hurt Business for the title, I'm not so keen on that idea. We already have someone in the part-timer, casual-friendly big name spot in Edge over on the Universal Championship front. And if Daniel Bryan is indeed part of the Universal title match at 'Mania, then having two Triple Threat matches for both world championship bouts seems redundant.

    Let's zoom out here and take a look at how significant Lashley's WWE Championship victory is. First, it really paints MVP as the best manager in the business today, having led his stable to capturing all the titles on RAW—even the 24/7 Championship—at some point in the last year alone. Second, this firmly plants The Hurt Business as the group to watch in WWE. 

    Third, Lashley's win gives us only the second time ever where both world champions in WWE are people of color. The last time this happened was all the way in 2011—an entire decade ago—when Mark Henry held the World Heavyweight Championship and Alberto Del Rio was the WWE Champion. There are no other instances of that happening in WWE's storied history. Think about that.

    As we get on the fast lane (heh) on the Road to WrestleMania, we find ourselves with an interesting championship scene across the main roster, where only the SmackDown Tag Team Champions (The Dirty Dawgs) and the United State Champion (Riddle) are white. Everyone else is a person of color. And while that diversity should be celebrated, it's also pretty telling that this situation where both world champs are POCs has only ever happened twice.

    Watching The Hurt Business's post-RAW celebration made me want to cheer for these guys. How could you not? All of them had to go through a long, difficult road to get to the top of the industry. And the right mix of timing, momentum, and MVP as their manager propelled them to where they are right now. Even though they're supposedly heels, I can't help but root for all four of these men. Hell, even during the match itself, I was rooting for Lashley because Miz was such a chickenshit heel throughout the entire show! I need a Hurt Business face turn yesterday, man.

    Congratulations, Mr. CEO. Congratulations, MVP. Congratulations, Hurt Business. You all deserved this. You earned it. #THBAllBelts!

    RhetoRickal Questions That Aren't As Important As The Hurt Business

    • I thought that the Lumberjack element wasn't a bad choice. You could see that both the faces and heels wanted to get back at The Miz for being such an obnoxious little shit, so all of them were eager to throw him back into the ring. It also made sense that outside of Shelton Benjamin and Cedric Alexander, nobody looked too pleased that Lashley had won the title. After all, Lashley is way less beatable than The Miz, so if I'm anyone else on the RAW roster, why would Lashley's victory be a cause for celebration? At least that made sense.
    • Poor Sheamus. He comes off looking like a dumbass for turning on Drew McIntyre only to get a one-in-six shot to become WWE Champion, loses in the Elimination Chamber, and then gets a non-title one-on-one with Drew... only to lose. Where does he go from here? How do you reestablish the man's credibility—something that took about a year to build, by the way!—when you just flushed it down the drain in two weeks?
    • What is Mustafa Ali fighting for now? Retribution no longer seems to be going on an anti-WWE crusade. Based on this episode of RAW, Mustafa Ali doesn't seem to be feuding with Kofi Kingston anymore. So what is he now other than an edgelord gang leader?
    • Man, this version of Shane McMahon is a prick, isn't he? He unnecessarily talks down to Braun Strowman and then blindsides Adam Pearce into being Braun's tag team partner, and then books them in a tag team title match against The Hurt Business! Braun isn't exactly rootable either because he's a big, bald, bearded baby acting like he's entitled to everything. Who the fuck am I supposed to root for?!
    • If Naomi and Lana are going to be built as Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler's WrestleMania opponents, they should be looking more credibly now that we're a month and a half away from the big show. I get it: Nia and Shayna still have Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez to conquer. But what's the point of putting Naomi and Lana over as the #1 Contenders after Lana's own redemption arc if they're going to lose steam now?
    • The more I think about it, the more I dig the idea of Asuka vs. Charlotte for the RAW Women's Championship at WrestleMania. Yes, the roles are reversed now that Asuka's the champion. But she can still turn heel in the coming weeks if she wants to blame Charlotte for the choppers she lost in last week's tag team title match. Or better yet... what if we just get a Fatal 4-Way between Asuka, Charlotte, Nia, and Shayna for the title? That... that actually looks like a good match on paper.
    • I love Alexa Bliss with all of my heart, but even I have come to the end of my excitement for this Orton/Fiend storyline. We get it. Randy Orton and The Fiend are going at it at WrestleMania. Can we at least just see the freakin' Fiend before then and just get this over with? This isn't exciting, unlike The Undertaker messing with Kane in the leadup to WrestleMania XX without even being at the shows. I'm just so over this.
    What did you think of this week's RAW? Hit us up with your thoughts in the comments!

    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 the host of On Deck, as well as one of the hosts of The Wrestling-Wrestling Podcast. He also used to be one of the hosts and writers of The Wrestling Gods on FOX. He enjoys watching WWE, AEW, and the occasional New Japan match.

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    Item Reviewed: The RAW RhetoRick (3/1/21): #THBAllBelts Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Stan Sy
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