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    Tuesday, April 13, 2021

    The RAW RhetoRick (4/12/21): I Am The Opportunity!

     
    This year's post-Mania RAW hit different. No huge surprises, no NXT call-ups, no major paradigm shifts. But you know what I enjoyed about this episode? The amount of effort they exerted to actually shake things up, even just a little. I'm Ricky Publico, and this is the RAW RhetoRick.

    Let's get this out of the way first: no NXT call-ups! Now before you feel the disappointment bubbling from within you, just focus on the bright side: your favorite NXT Superstars are safe from the main roster curse for another year! Remember what they did to Keith Lee last year? You don't? Exactly. You really want Finn Bálor or Adam Cole to suffer the same fate on RAW? Yeah, that's what I thought. So just be glad we're getting the same old set of familiar faces and enjoy the fact that our precious NXT is still intact (for now).


    Now let's focus on the big return because it's the best thing to happen on WrestleMania RAW. Charlotte Flair is back! And not just any other Charlotte Flair—Heel Charlotte Flair, the best version of Charlotte Flair. Brilliant! For a second there, I thought she would shoot on WWE for how they treated Andrade, but I guess cutting a "You people!" promo made more sense. It's a little weird how she didn't mention having COVID because that would've made her argument of not being in control of her destiny even more compelling.

    Nonetheless, I enjoyed how self-aware her promo was. It's so weird for RAW writers to recognize fan feedback online, but Charlotte incorporated the majority of IWC's anti-Charlotte sentiments and made it fuel for her heel turn. If you hated her before this promo, you'd hate her even more for declaring that she doesn't steal opportunities. She is the opportunity. Not gonna lie; that was a solid line. They could've tweaked the promo more to make it more like a pipebomb, but I'm still happy with how it turned out. 


    And how about her barefooted attack on both Asuka and Rhea Ripley? I'm not even sure if Rhea's revelation that she lost her self-confidence after losing to Charlotte last year is part of WWE canon. If not, Charlotte was basically shooting on Rhea right there and then, taunting her straight up about her lack of confidence. That was cold and effective at the same time, and I loved it. It's exactly what the current RAW Women's Champion needs: a formidable villain to her plucky hero journey. You love to see it.

    Now we don't have to wonder if Rhea Ripley is a babyface or a heel. As proven by her RAW Talk interview, she's now a proper protagonist ready to conquer the woman who broke her confidence a year ago. The story writes itself, and I'm pretty sure RAW will fuck it up somehow, but Charlotte Flair is the perfect first challenger to the Reign of the Nightmare. When they announce the triple threat for the RAW Women's Championship at WrestleMania Backlash, expect the IWC to lose their shit. Stay mad, people.


    As you all know by now, it won't be a RAW episode without fucking something up. And this week, that something was the WWE Championship scene. After Drew McIntyre lost at WrestleMania Rain Delay, who do you think is the new contender? If you said "Drew McIntyre once again," then you'll be correct! No need to watch the show. But at least they made him earn the rematch. Who would the other choices have been, you ask? Randy Orton and Braun Strowman, two of the most beloved Superstars today, according to absolutely no one.

    It didn't even feel like Drew McIntyre went to the back of the line because he was given a chance to earn a title opportunity almost immediately. While Randy and Braun aren't the best choices around, you could argue that competing for a title shot is their reward for winning their respective 'Mania matches, which is something authority figures in the past have done. Chalk it down to RAW Adam Pearce making yet another dumb decision. This is why you're getting replaced by Sonya Deville in the future, Scrap Daddy!


    And the ending! Holy shit, that ending. If Retribution is over, why are T-Bar and Mace still T-Bar and Mace? If they really want to add them to MVP's Hurt Business, isn't it better to just re-introduce them as Dominik Dijakovic and Dio Maddin? They literally did this with Dabba-Kato at WrestleMania Big-Ass Skeleton. If there was a perfect time to erase the existence of a character, it's when you're cleaning up the remains of Retribution. Now you're just reminding us that this shitty faction ever existed. RAW sucks so bad it hurts.

    Also, MVP probably feels stupid now for getting rid of Shelton Benjamin and Cedric Alexander. Imagine trading former tag champions over members of the worst stable of the modern era. I would actually understand if MVP picked up Shelton and Cedric after losing to the Viking Raiders, effectively reforming the Hurt Business and correcting the biggest blunder of the year. Then they could still add Dominik and Dio to the mix and boom, Hurt Business V2. That makes Bobby Lashley All Mighty again. Everybody wins! Why can't we have nice things?

    CLOSING RHETORICK: WrestleMania RAW may not be as exciting as the previous years, but they did try and mend the storylines they've broken from the past season, and that's fine by me. Sure, they might not have stuck the landing, but I'd say this was still a competent episode of RAW. The new commentary team gelled well, the returnees made bold statements, and the lack of NXT call-ups was actually a relief. Plus, the amount of self-awareness on the show was amazing. It's so not like them.

    Show Grade: C-

    RhetoRickal Statements Chilling at the Back of the Line

    • The verdict on Adnan Virk? He's amazing! Sure, he's a less hip version of Mauro Ranallo—he's probably the first wrestling commentator to ever reference Sinéad O'Connor on TV—but the color he adds to every match is already miles better than vanilla Tom Phillips. With the addition of Corey Graves, it seems like RAW now has the best commentary team next only to NXT's unbeatable combo. I wonder who will be left on SmackDown.
    • This week's other big return was Ivar of the Viking Raiders, energizing RAW's tag team division in the process. It's a shame we didn't get a celebration segment from AJ Styles and Omos. It would've been a perfect time to redefine the tag team division's landscape because aside from New Day, Shelton & Cedric, Elias & Cancelled Ryker, and the Viking Raiders, who else is there?
    • I didn't know Captain Obvious shoots invisible arrows. I appreciate the forwardness, but man, that promo delivery was even lazier than I am. Such a sturdy moral compass you are. Damian Priest ended up looking more jealous than The Miz, who was actually praising Bad Bunny while trying to take credit for his in-ring debut success. A genius heel move, by the way. I'm glad Miz and JoMo got their heat back. And Miz got to dry hump his wife on live TV? Now that's winning.
    • I didn't even realize what Alexa Bliss did to The Fiend at WrestleMania Slippery Road was some sort of betrayal. I mean, they left together, for fuck's sake! And now they've broken up somehow? I still hate it, but I can't say I'm not intrigued. Lily was the first creepy puppet introduced in a while, and Bray Wyatt going back to basics also left me with more questions than answers. If this really is a reboot of their gimmick, they're starting on the right foot. Not getting my hopes up, though.
    • They finally corrected RAW Talk by getting rid of R-Truth! No more awkward and nonsensical gibberish. Man, it really is spring cleaning here on RAW, and I'm loving it. Xavier Woods' eloquence is such a breath of fresh air, and I really hope his spot is permanent. Now the show can finally grow as its own.
    • They even leaned on Mandy Rose slipping on WrestleMania Where's My Pyro and used it to set up the saddest sneak attack in recent memory. Man, the writers grew some common sense this week. Keep doing this every week, please.

    Header image taken from WWE.com

    *****

    Ricky Publico (@nyamnyamgarbage) is Smark Henry's seasoned veteran and resident main roster reviewer. He's a sucker for well-written 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. His potential haunts him.   

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    Item Reviewed: The RAW RhetoRick (4/12/21): I Am The Opportunity! Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Ricky Jay Publico
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