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    Wednesday, February 1, 2017

    The Smark Henry RAW Report (1/29/17): The Return of the Comeback

    Guess who's back.

    Back again.

    Stan Sy's back. Tell a friend.

    Guess who's back. Guess who's back. Guess who's back. Guess who's back. Guess who's back. Guess who's back. Guess who's back. TEN NEN NEN

    I created a monster, but I'm not going to rap along to the rest of "Without Me." I really did create a monster when I started this RAW review column. I realized that taking on this task required religiously watching RAW every. Fucking. Week. That's an arduous task on its own, but to have to talk/write about it on a weekly basis was even more challenging. I thought that having done this for a solid year would prepare me to do it regularly at Sports Illustrated Philippines, but not even a weekly paycheck for my articles softened the blow of regularly crappy episodes of the flagship show. It was a good run, though, but ultimately, I've come back to Smark Henry (for personal reasons) to rightfully take back what's mine, and that's this column.

    So, let's do things differently this time. Instead of going through every fucking thing that happened on RAW, I'm going to preface every column with this very simple question.

    Was RAW worth watching this week?

    In a nutshell, the answer to the question for this week is No, except for the Samoa Joe debut and the Chris Jericho vs. Sami Zayn match.

    You may now click on another tab or link if you want to. But if you want to know why, then read on, Curious George!

    The Legit Mini-Boss

    Samoa Joe debuted this week as Triple H's latest baby henchman, attacking Seth Rollins in the closing segment of the show. In a vacuum, that was a pretty badass way to enter the main roster's canon. However, you realize that's also pretty much how Anderson & Gallows debuted last week. What's worse is for all of the excitement surrounding Joe's call-up after the run he had on NXT, he gets reduced to nothing more than a mini-boss for Seth Rollins to overcome on his way to Trips at 'Mania

    Never mind that Creative wasted Rumble spots on Enzo Amore, James Ellsworth, and Roman Reigns. Never mind that Samoa Joe could have debuted at the Rumble at #27 or #30, and had the same impact on RAW the next night. Never mind that Joe was only wearing a TapOut shirt instead of his own merch. The real sin here is how Joe is ultimately going to be fed to Rollins in an effort to get us to care about the Rollins/Trips feud.

    Triple H's promo on RAW this week was really five months too late, no matter how hard he tried to justify it by saying that he was no longer the same guy who'd go after anyone who ran their mouths at him. HHH could have used Kevin Owens as his baby henchman and taken advantage of the mean streak that KO used to have. Instead, Trips' refusal to show up on RAW reduced Owens to a meaner version of Christian during his own heel run, while also making us care less and less about Rollins screaming into a void each week.

    So we're going to get Samoa Joe vs. Seth Rollins, most likely at Fastlane. It's going to be an awesome match, I'm sure. But Joe deserved better than to be a chuwariwap in this story. Well done, RAW.

    Match of the night: Chris Jericho vs. Sami Zayn

    Jericho and Zayn went out there and had the best match on the show, which is a testament to both guys' work ethic considering the two of them spent the longest time in the Royal Rumble Match just 24 hours prior. 

    It's a lot of fun seeing Sami being built up again as a credible threat after having meandered through RAW for months following the brand split. The only question I have surrounding him is where this takes our favorite underdog through 'Mania. Considering the plan to have KO and Jericho go at it over the U.S. title in Florida, and all the other big-name matches already being set up, I think Zayn's best bet at this point is to just be part of the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. Whoopee.

    Then again, if Sami was written to actually last long in the Rumble, what if that parlays into an ARMBAR victory come 'Mania?

    There goes Roman, being a dick again

    Roman Reigns didn't just ruin our hopes and dreams for the Royal Rumble Match last Monday (Manila time). He also ruined what would have been a fun Universal Championship match between Kevin Owens and Braun Strowman. Strowman's begun to transcend the face/heel binary as of late, being more established as a thinking force of nature at this point. Imagine the likes of Katsuyori Shibata and Tomohiro Ishii in NJPW. They just are.

    What makes Strowman different from all the other hosses we've seen previously is that the man actually uses stock footage to get what he wants. He used a replay, guys, A REPLAY, from an episode last month to coerce Owens into granting him a title shot. It's little things like this that make you appreciate the nods to continuity whenever WWE actually serves them up.

    Now, the title match itself was only about to get good when Roman Reigns interfered and attacked Strowman. That part makes sense. Strowman cost Reigns his opportunity at the Universal Championship the night before, so now they can call it quits. But when Reigns hit Owens with a Spear after the attack on Strowman, Reigns just looked like a sore loser in the process. Let's not forget, by the way, the fact that Reigns had endured a ton of physical abuse at the hands of KO and Strowman during the Universal Championship Match, and yet Reigns looked fresh af when he came out at #30. Great psychology, Roman. A+ job!


    There were some other fun moments on the show, like the 6-person mixed tag between Charlotte and the Club and the team of Bayley and Sheasaro, and the Paul Heyman "Yeah, but..." promo. But overall, the post-Rumble episode of RAW was nothing more than a glorified Rumble recap show, peppered in with a bit of advancement for several storylines. As usual, RAW failed to deliver us a tight episode that could make us care about the show's overall arc following an underwhelming, if not just barely there, outing at the Royal Rumble.

    The good news is that there's more than a month before Fastlane, the next RAW-exclusive PPV. The bad news is that all that time can just as easily be procrastinated away as the show's Creative team is wont to do. This week's show gets a C.

    Photos from WWE


    Stan Sy (@_StanSyis the Editor at Large of Smark Henry, and is also an events host, a freelance writer, and one of the hosts of the Smark Gilas-Pilipinas Podcast and The Wrestling Gods on FOX. He enjoys watching WWE, NXT, Lucha Underground, and the occasional New Japan match. He dresses up in fancy suits from time to time to book matches as PWR's General Manager.

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    Item Reviewed: The Smark Henry RAW Report (1/29/17): The Return of the Comeback Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Stan Sy
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