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    Wednesday, November 28, 2018

    The Smark Henry RAW Review (11/26/18): Corbin Club Conquers C-Show

    If you haven't been informed, last week's kayfabe massacre of Braun Strowman was written so that the Monster Among Men could have time off for elbow surgery. Naturally, a bunch of us grew concerned regarding the status of the scheduled Braun versus Corbin, Championship Opportunity versus Career Opportunity, match at TLC. This week's RAW wasted no time in letting us know that the match is still on, Braun's elbow surgery be damned. Also, Alexa Bliss is the vice GM now but only for the RAW women's division and I guess Drew McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler have quietly broken up? This was a heel-dominated RAW, and I was all for it. Okay, maybe just some of it. Like parts of it. One or two parts?

    The Corbin Club (not their official name... yet) dominated this week's RAW and for good reason. It has only been a week since this alliance of powerful big menDrew McIntyre, Bobby Lashley, and the RAW GM-elect himself plus Lio Rush—took out the monster known as Braun Strowman. This week, they rewarded themselves like proper villains by wreaking a methodical path of destruction against Strowman's unlucky allies from last week: Macho Man Randy Savage look-a-like Elias and Finn the Human Bálor, whose all-red outfit looked a bit weird to me. Just me, though? Okay then. Both of these guys thought they were scheduled for fair matches, but with a boss like Corbin, they should've really expected the worse. Maybe they did.

    Both Elias and Finn really needed a win here, as they both continue to be fan favorites who have nothing going on. That said, their momentum from their respective fanbases got wasted in losing these repeated matches with Lashley and Corbin, respectively. Having them both suffer through similar heelish beatdowns at the hands of the Corbin Club may have been done to drive home the point that these three big men are dominating RAW while the only big man that could serve as their foil recuperates far away. But it just feels like copy-pasting two scenarios that absolutely denied both fan favorites. It's a shame, really. Elias could've even come out later in the night to save Finn if he weren't taken out earlier.

    I don't know what it is, but there's just something about the Corbin Club that makes them stand out to me. Technically, they're pretty much just The Hounds of Justice 2.0, with Corbin and Lashley replacing Strowman and Ziggler. The difference is not only in the identity of Drew's two allies between these groups but also in the landscapes they inhabit—or in the Hounds' case, inhabited. While the Hounds had the Shield as their foils, balancing the whole good versus evil dynamic, Corbin Club doesn't seem to be threatened by any other collection of wrestlers at the moment. Their destruction of Finn and Elias this week, two of their greatest enemies individually and collectively, may have served as an omen that this trio could be unstoppable until Strowman eventually returns and squashes everyone not named Drew.

    Fun fact: Drew and Bobby were former champions in IMPACT, finding great success after leaving WWE for a while. Lashley actually took the top prize of that company from Drew, becoming a three-time world champion. Yes, Lashley is actually more than just a guy who bends over to insult crowds. Given the proper storyline, Lashley could actually become a world champion in WWE. That goes without saying for Drew, TOO. These two behemoths don't need to be part of a stable, but the Corbin Club is not a bad place to be while Brock Lesnar still holds the Universal Championship hostage. After all, they're currently running roughshod over RAW. It's only a matter of time until one of them officially takes the throne. 

    Corbin Club could be booked better, though, especially since it has two former world champions in its roster. Sadly, it's hard to find faith or confidence in WWE not dropping the ball on Lashley any time soon. Expect to see more of the Corbin Club throwing their weight around in the upcoming weeks while Braun's busy with surgery and Brock's busy with his farm. I want to be a bit positive and say that Bálor and Elias might get to exact their vengeance on this crew, but that might be too positive. These evil boys need their momentum, too.

    Oh, Dolph Ziggler, how low can you continue to go? It's like ever since he lost that Best in the World tournament in that nostalgia fever PPV, Mr. Ziggles forgot how to win a match. It's been loss after loss after loss for the man Shane McMahon screwed over at Crown Jewel and then eliminated at Survivor Series. This week, the six-time Intercontinental Champion found himself serving as a brief detour for current Intercontinental Champion Seth Rollins on his road to a personal feud with former Shield brother Dean Ambrose.

    Speaking of Dean Ambrose, what the hell was that promo? Ambrose is great on the mic, that much is obvious. The setting of this week's promo, though, was absurd and that's an understatement. WWE failed to capitalize on Ambrose's red-hot mysterious but understandable, complex heel gimmick and instead messed everything up by turning him into a generic heel. Why is Dean even referencing how people smell? Shouldn't he be 100% focused on Rollins, considering this thing between them is supposed to be very personal? Is it because fans would no doubt cheer for heel Ambrose instead of booing him that they had to make him get "butt shots" while throwing "stink insults" at anyone who cared to listen? All those boos and hate won't still be for Dean, though, rather they'll be for having to watch a known hardcore brawler get "butt shots" while throwing "stink insults" like some child. Just give the man a mic, put him somewhere with terrible lighting, and let him do his thing. Anything else is just unnecessary. 

    It was pretty bold of Seth to still go with his open challenge, considering he himself referenced how Dean could give him another beating from out of nowhere. Ambrose did say he wouldn't be out for this match, but can anyone really trust a lunatic? That actually made it a bit disappointing when he didn't come out for this match. I guess he's sticking to stealing a page out of heel Seth's book with these mind games rather than going for his more logical-to-his character ambushes. He's always been a crazy brawler and will always be for a lot of us. 

    I just have to say that the title match between Ziggler and Rollins was amazing. It could arguably have been the match of the night. We've seen these two duke it out countless times, and each time, they've managed to make their battles look good. The whole point of an open challenge, though, is so that a new and unfamiliar face could appear and be introduced to the WWE Universe. I'm not saying Dolph didn't deserve his nth Intercontinental title match, but having someone like TJP or even EC3 answer the challenge would have been much better.

    With the future of Alexa Bliss' in-ring career still uncertain, she's taken a more administrative approach to her appearances on RAW, getting RAW GM-elect Corbin to make her overseer of the women's division. Her first order of business? Fuck up BaySash. That's my girl.

    Dana Brooke joining Team Bliss was something I didn't expect, but to be fair, I haven't really seen Dana be a part of anything significant since Titus Worldwide split up. Having her join Mickie James and Alicia Fox is a great way to establish how the heels have the numbers advantage over the faces. Then again, they just got their butts handed to them by Bayley and Sasha Banks despite that advantage, so I'm not sure where this is actually going. 

    Come on, Mickie. You're a vet. Teach these kids how to heel properly.

    Speaking of being sure where things are definitely going, RAW Women's Champion "Rowdy" Ronda Rousey saved us this week from a barely tolerable Nia Jax promo. I'm not sure if it's the voice but I am not a fan of Nia on the mic. I'd much rather see her throw some unfortunate local talent around or maybe get punished for concussing another wrestler, a coworker. Whatever. Oh, and Tamina was also there, standing right beside Nia because she had nothing better to do. I honestly can't wait to see these two compete in a tag team match. Again.

    We've seen Ronda face and conquer more opponents in a WWE ring, so I wasn't really worried when the Samoan Cousins threatened to beat her up right then and there. Natalya coming out was a surprise for me. It's like I almost forgot that Nattie and Ronda were besties. Or maybe I was just hoping Nattie would move on from under Ronda's shadow and get herself a proper storyline. And then the Riott Squad attacked Nattie for the nth time. Ugh. Never mind, I guess.

    AOP Manager and 205 Live GM Drake Maverick stole Bobby Roode's robe and peed on it. Don't worry, he didn't do that in the middle of the ring. He actually took the time to bring that robe to the back, find an empty toilet stall, and pee on it. That was weird but I guess it furthers his pissing gimmick? What even? That actually led to Roode getting distracted enough for AOP to capitalize and get the win to retain the tag titles. Again, what even?

    I still don't like the whole AOP-pee angle with Drake Maverick and him furthering that schtick by pissing on Bobby Roode's robe just made me hate this whole storyline even more—f we can even call it a storyline. It's more about Drake's bladder than the actual titles, for Dusty Rhodes' sake! Is it even getting Drake over as a heel? An annoying heel that makes me question my life choices maybe but not the kind of heel that should be associated with the more serious AOP. Chris Jericho definitely had something there.

    AOP doesn't even need distractions to win a match. Akam and Rezar are brutal, physical monsters. AOP should just plow through their competition, only losing through gimmicks and flukes, but only if really necessary. They're built to be brick walls and brick walls don't need... Oh, no. I just realized the correlation between peeing and brick walls. God damn it, WWE. Maverick deserves better. AOP deserves better. Roode and Gable both certainly deserve better. 

    RAW REVIEW: It's hard to argue against the idea that this week's RAW was a lazy, uninspired rehash of past shows. Corbin and Bálor main-evented again, Elias lost to Lashley because of Rush's shenanigans again, Rollins and Ziggler fought each other for the Intercontinental title again, Riott Squad ambushed Natalya from out of nowhere again, and another three-man (and a half) group is running roughshod over RAW. Sure, there were a few differences here and there, but essentially we've seen much of this show countless times before and in recent memory. Despite me enjoying the Corbin Club shenanigans (because I'm such a freaking heel) and that 999th Ziggler versus Rollins match (definitely best in the world, by the way), this week's RAW gets a D for "Damn it, WWE."  

    Quick Hitters:
    • We got ourselves a Mixed Match Challenge promo match featuring Ember Moon going head to head with Alicia Fox. Fox sold that Eclipse surprisingly well. Curt Hawkins being announced as Braun Strowman's replacement was interesting. Ember herself was Alexa Bliss' replacement. I guess she just downgraded from a monster to a jo star maker. Let me guess, Hawkins is eating every pin whenever this team loses?
    • What is even happening between Lucha House Party and The Revival? The Revival actually has a good argument against the so-called Lucha House Rules but they're still the heels in this scenario? This is absurd! This is a travesty! This is an insult to traditional tag team matches! Just get those trios titles already so we can have respectable six-man tag matches that aren't just three-on-two handicap matches with a colorful gimmick. The luchadors are cheating, okay, and no amount of high-flying is going to make up for Oooh, a shooting star press. Noice.
    • Oh, hey! No Way Jose is still employed and they brought him back just to lose to Jinder Mahal? Okay then. Fun conga line, though.
    • Lars Sullivan is the hottest free agent right now and he'll be making his debut on the main roster soon? But where? And how soon is that soon? Does RAW really need another monster on the loose? Does SmackDown?  
    Images from WWE


    Jofer Serapio (@ShawarmaJoereviews WWE RAW & NXT UK for Smark Henry. He has been an avid professional wrestling fan since grade school. These reviews are as close to professional wrestling as he can get. C-C-C-Corbin Club! F-F-F-For life!
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    Item Reviewed: The Smark Henry RAW Review (11/26/18): Corbin Club Conquers C-Show Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Pepe Serapio
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