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    Wednesday, June 20, 2018

    The Smark Henry RAW Review (6/18/18): When You Call Me, You Call Me The Champ

    Dolph Ziggler is now the top dog on RAW. And I love it.

    Okay, let's qualify the above statement first. Yes, Brock Lesnar is still the Universal Champion, but we don't know when his next title defense is, let alone when he even plans to come back to TV. Absentee top champion, get outta here. That makes room for the Intercontinental Champion to be The Man.

    But what about Roman Reigns? He may still be on this slow burn road to redemption story, as he's still shoved down our throats as RAW's top babyface. But Braun Strowman is arguably in that role right now. Plus, Roman ain't no champion right now, so he basic.

    When Dolph's music hit as he revealed himself to be Seth Rollins' challenger for the Intercontinental Championship, I expected both guys to steal the show and put on a memorable TV match. We didn't exactly get that, and I don't really blame either guy for it. Rollins just came off one hell of a match against Elias the previous night, so I'm going to cut him some slack for not being 100% both in real life and in kayfabe.

    What makes the title change notable is how it happened and its implications. First, Rollins defeated Elias at Money In The Bank by rolling the latter up and grabbing the tights to secure the victory. That wasn't a babyface thing to do, even in a moment of desperation—unbecoming of one of the supposedly best wrestlers in WWE. So seeing Dolph give Seth a taste of his own medicine was a nice touch of karma for the former champion. Plus, having Rollins lose the title one night after he barely squeaked by with a successful title defense makes it look like The Architect was blinded by his own hubris as he put out another open challenge. I wouldn't have faulted Rollins for taking the night off, but hey, he had to be Seth Freakin' Rollins.

    Now, I understand that giving Ziggler the Intercontinental Championship throws the plans for him and Drew McIntyre to contend for the RAW Tag Team Championships to the wayside. And I think that's okay because the Deleters of Worlds (Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt) are too busy fucking around with The B-Team (Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas) anyway. I've grown pretty fond of the silliness of their story and I'd actually like to see it play out, at least until Extreme Rules. Having that happen would've kept Ziggler and McIntyre running in place, so switching gears and allowing one of them—in this case, Dolph—to contend for the Intercontinental Championship was a great way of giving them something else to do.

    Besides, as much as I love watching Seth Rollins do his thing in the ring, I don't know how much longer I can see the open challenge gimmick continue without someone actually unseating the champion. I loved the surprise factor that came with a fresh challenger beating the smug, fighting champion, even though the challenger was a heel and also cheated before getting his roll-up with the tights finish.

    One last note, the story between Ziggler, McIntyre, and Rollins might just get even more compelling given Dolph and Drew's rants about the current crop of WWE talent having gone soft. Both these guys come from the previous decade of WWE youngsters, and now that they're veterans, they can rag on guys like Rollins, who could be their punching bag for what they feel his generation of Superstars represents. There's an interesting dynamic there that could be fleshed out to make this mean much more than just the title—unless Ziggler abdicates the title again at the very next show. All we need is for Creative to get their shit together and, you know, be... creative.

    Quick Hitters:

    • Bayley is the real heel in her story with Sasha Banks. Never mind what happened in the ring against the Riott Squad. Bayley struck first backstage in the aftermath when all Sasha wanted to do was to get the fuck away. And then Bayley kept forcing Sasha to talk when the latter didn't want any of it. Sounds a lot like a local promoter/wrestler fraud who wanted to complain over a podcast that was all about him. Whatever happened to personal space?! And what's worse... Bayley threw her shoe at Sasha's car! How is that acceptable?! And how the hell is Sasha supposed to explain to her Rent-A-Car people that her former friend threw her heels at the rear window? Bayley is awful.
    • The Riott Squad can bully all the people they want backstage. I still don't really care for them. 
    • Ronda Rousey's suspension was a clever way of writing her off so that she could be off TV for a while—whether it's promoting her latest movie, Mile 22, or spending more time at the PC. I actually thought the entire story made sense—from being blinded by rage and bludgeoning Alexa Bliss with the MITB briefcase, to attacking Kurt Angle and the officials, to getting suspended afterward. Of course, Stephanie McMahon would want Ronda to get suspended, and as the GM, Kurt Angle was justified in doing so. Plus, it shifts the focus of the Women's Championship story back towards Nia Jax and Alexa Bliss. Not bad.
    • What was up with the show featuring two consecutive matches featuring dysfunctional babyface tag teams? First, you had Bayley and Sasha trying to one-up one another, and then you had Roman Reigns and Bobby Lashley trying to... one-up one another? Really, the most egregious offense is that these took place in consecutive segments. Poor Dash and Dawson for having to put up with being part of this, too. Do better, RAW.
    • I'm really trying to love Constable Corbin, but can he at least be allowed to dress in proper wrestling attire if he's going to get in the ring? Why is he getting the Corporate Kane treatment of having to wrestle in his office wear? I mean, at least he and Kevin Owens got the victory in the main event, but come on.
    • What was the point of trotting Bobby Roode out to squash Curt Hawkins? Seriously, there was no point to that squash at all. At least the Mojo Rawley/No Way Jose match was done to elevate Rawley as a heel. As for Jose... at least Adam Rose was relevant for much longer. It looks like Jose is dancing his way to jabroni status much faster than Adam Rose ever did. Yeesh.
    • When's Jason Jordan coming back? I really need him to come back and tag with Chad Gable again.
    • And finally, Kurt Angle announcing another huge multi-man match at Extreme Rules to determine the #1 Contender for the Universal Championship would sound like a fun main event... if only this shit didn't happen at last year's Extreme Rules. What's worse is Roman Reigns and Bobby Lashley just threw their weight around to demand spots in that match. What happened to earning their way into that match? Ugh.
    I should've known that RAW would go back to its meandering habits after what was a relatively good go-home episode last week before Money In The Bank. The Red Brand has three more weeks to put together a compelling build approaching Extreme Rules, and they better make the most out of it after this week's poor showing. I get the stories they're trying to tell. They just aren't going about them in a way that makes the most sense—see Bayley/Sasha, Universal Championship picture. Then again, what's new? We're talking about Monday Night RAW here. C.

    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 one of the hosts of The Smark Gilas-Pilipinas Podcast. He also used to be one of the hosts and writers of The Wrestling Gods on FOX. He enjoys watching WWE, NXTLucha Underground, and the occasional New Japan match. You can ask him questions about wrestling, Survivor (yes, the reality show), or whatever you like on his CuriousCat account.
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    Item Reviewed: The Smark Henry RAW Review (6/18/18): When You Call Me, You Call Me The Champ Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Stan Sy
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