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    Friday, July 16, 2021

    RAW Food for Thought (7/12/21): Farewell ThunderDome!

     


    "I appreciate everything that you've done for me and my career, but this bullshit needs to stop now! Back to business." -Bobby Lashley

    The ThunderDome era officially ended when Bobby Lashley declared a back-to-basics approach for The Hurt Business after losing to Xavier Woods. No more champagne and lovely women; just pain. The WWE Champion was speaking to MVP but his words may as well have been for WWE Chairman Vince McMahon. 

    While watching the VIP Lounge, I thought the segment was just a way for WWE to remove the logistical costs of bringing Lashley's ladies on tour. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it was actually a metaphor for the pandemic era. I know, I know. This sounds like typical smark overreach, but bear with me for a minute. 

    WWE was hit hard when the lockdowns started. Their shows downgraded from large arenas to a room surrounded by empty chairs. The only fans present were the ceiling fans. No one had seen anything like it! Slowly but surely, they took advantage of the bare set-up by brainstorming all sorts of ideas. This effort birthed the now-classic cinematic matches of WrestleMania 36 among others. They started doing more segments that could only be done without a live audience. More props, more gimmicks! Action was no longer restricted to the ring. In other words, they turned into a typical TV show. 

    The construction of the ThunderDome with all its bells and whistles was the peak of this effort. The mojo of many wrestlers, especially Bobby Lashley, were rejuvenated in the new bubble. Without instant feedback and armed with their own personal playground, WWE was free to do whatever crazy match or concept they could think of. However, a lot of fans noticed that WWE was leaning too much on the ThunderDome. They felt that editing and the lack of live scrutiny made WWE and its wrestlers soft. Therefore, in the case of this week's RAW, Lashley represented the WWE, MVP was Vince McMahon and the luxuries of The Hurt Business were the trappings of the ThunderDome. 

    Ok, back to the matches. Match of the Night honors easily went to John Morrison vs Ricochet in a Falls Count Anywhere Match. I mentioned last week that I was so excited for this and boy did they deliver! What a banger of a match! Lots of creative spots and they utilized the environment well. Morrison and Ricochet took advantage of ladders, LED screens, the ring posts and even the backstage area. Their athleticism was on full display. We even got a hilarious moment where The Miz and Riddle did their impression of a turtle on its back. I expected Johnny Drip Drip to come out on top but was gladly surprised that Ricochet won.

    On the women's side, Alexa Bliss gave opposite reactions to Alexa's Playground guests Eva Marie and Doudrop. A possible new storyline may be brewing between these three and I'm all for it. I personally liked that Alexa and Doudrop were cool with each other in spite of the former's demonic ways. It's very intriguing. Funny too! Maybe we'll see Doudrop dump Eva Marie for Alexa in the near future. Personally, I prefer Doudrop to stick with Eva for now as their tandem is still entertaining. It's also funny to see that nobody can stand Eva Marie so far, babyface or heel.

    The show was pretty good this week, I'd say. Sure, there were some misses on the matches but I don't think it diminished the overall quality. Hopefully, the new mindset of The Hurt Business permeates the rest of the WWE as they leave the ThunderDome for the realities of the road.

    Final Grade: B

    Monday Night Footnotes!

    • Poor Humberto Carrillo! I wanted a proper title defense but Sheamus' actions make sense character-wise. At least Damian Priest gets a feud again! US Championship match at SummerSlam, perhaps?
    • Only in wrestling would someone carry around replicas of longswords just to protect the genuine article.
    • They better follow up on Alexa's sudden disappearance from the Fatal 4-Way Match. Her Fiend persona clearly doesn't enjoy losing. At all.
    • The feud between Rhea Ripley and Charlotte Flair has devolved from "Anything you can do, I can do better!" to "Who will hit the back of the knee first?"
    • Nikki A.S.H. is honestly growing on me. She may have something special here. 

    Image courtesy of WWE

    *****

    Kim Antonio is a contributor to Smark Henry and a lifelong fan of professional wrestling. He was first exposed to wrestling as a small child when his older cousin would practice finishers on him, which led him to hate wrestling. Later, he saw it on TV and was hooked ever since. He dreams of being a wrestling booker after watching Ready to Rumble and playing GM Mode on SmackDown vs. Raw. He hopes fellow fans will learn someday that there's nothing wrong with loving both shows of competing promotions. 
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    Item Reviewed: RAW Food for Thought (7/12/21): Farewell ThunderDome! Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Kim Antonio
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