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    Tuesday, February 12, 2019

    In Defense of The Ending of This Week's Monday Night RAW

    Major SPOILERS below from this week's episode of Monday Night RAW below!

    So you're mad, huh?

    You're mad because Mr. McMahon—not to be confused with Vincent Kennedy McMahon, the actual human being—suspended Becky Lynch for 60 days on RAW this week and replaced her with Charlotte Flair as Ronda Rousey's contender for the RAW Women's Championship. You're mad because you see the endgame: Becky Lynch is somehow going to scratch and claw and fight her way back into that match and it'll be a Triple Threat match, the first ever women's main event in WrestleMania history. You're mad because we aren't getting the Becky Lynch vs. Ronda Rousey one-on-one match that we were deprived of at Survivor Series. Thanks, Nia Jax.

    That means Vincent Kennedy McMahon did his job as a heel performer this week, and dammit, did it well. See, if there's one thing Mr. McMahon has told us historically about his character, it's that he's at his best when he's playing the heel boss who holds an employee down. It's a relatable character that we all recognize in our daily lives, much like Becky Lynch is now as the outstanding employee being held back by authority.

    To understand why the ending of this week's RAW made so much sense—and why it's okay to be mad about it, but not irrationally—we have to backtrack a bit.

    Since winning the Women's Royal Rumble Match, Becky Lynch had made it her personal mission to thump her chest and prove to everyone why she is The Man. She went on both RAW and SmackDown Live to drive that point home, going so far as to physically assault Stephanie McMahon and Triple H—her bosses, mind you—when all they wanted was for her to go get her knee checked after it was injured at the Royal Rumble event. It was a fair ask from an employer. But Becky's paranoia (in the story) was also well-founded, given that she was legitimately not medically cleared to compete at Survivor Series this past November because of the face and nose injuries she suffered at the hands of Nia Jax. Plus, the McMahons are also historically inherently evil characters.

    But instead of doing the smart thing in getting her knee checked and not rocking the boat, Becky Lynch decided to stick it to her bosses. Meanwhile, her biggest rival, Charlotte Flair, was the teacher's pet, who always kept getting opportunity after opportunity at the biggest stages because she's genetically superior. Hey, doesn't that sound familiar, too? Yep. We all have a Charlotte in our real lives. Hold on to this thought.

    So now, Becky has to face the consequences of her actions and apologize to Triple H and Stephanie McMahon. When she finally did decide to apologize, they gave her what she wanted—her main event match at WrestleMania, no strings attached. And then that's when Vince came in to yank it right back from Becky's grasp and insert Charlotte Flair in her place.

    Let's unpack this.

    1. Becky didn't need to be a rebel and go all Stone Cold before this week. All she was operating on was her paranoia from her previous injury. But she let her impulsiveness get the best of her, so Vince's decision was her karma. This is something we see in everyday life, too. Your actions have consequences. 
    2. Having said that, Becky was whiny because she was justifiably paranoid. After all, the McMahons, the Authority, or whatever you want to call them now, have affected the main event picture through their evil actions over the last two decades and more. So since she's in her current role as the Non-Corporate Approved Star That The Fans Unquestionably Love, you can see where her paranoia came from.
    3. Charlotte was favored because she's a Superstar who knows how to "stay in her lane." Vince's words, not mine. Kiss-ass? Check. Teacher's pet? Check. Genetically superior? Check. Easily hateable heel. Totally relatable.
    4. Charlotte and Ronda Rousey have unfinished business dating back to Survivor Series and TLC. So they clearly need a stage to settle their own feud.
    But wait, the fans clearly love Becky Lynch and she's the super babyface in all of this, you say. You're not wrong. And that's why you'll see the story makes sense in terms of how the Triple Threat comes together.
    1. Becky has never defeated Charlotte at WrestleMania.
    2. Becky and Ronda still need to have their grudge match.
    3. All three women have beef with one another, so they might as well just go at one another in one match to end this rivalry once and for all.
    As Smark Henry editor-in-chief Ro Moran explained on last week's episode of The Smark Gilas-Pilipinas Podcast, having Becky ultimately win this Triple Threat match is the only logical conclusion to this story. WWE has written itself into this corner—not a bad one, at that—in which there's no way Becky can't win. She's an underdog on all levels—physically, narratively, and even on the meta level—compared to Charlotte and Ronda. To have her defeat her two biggest rivals at the Grandest Stage of 'Em All is the best way to legitimize her as the #1 star in WWE. 

    Think back to 2014. This is the story WWE wishes it could've told with Daniel Bryan. Remember how non-committal they seemed at the time with him? They've learned from their mistakes and decided to go all in on Becky Lynch as the undisputed babyface in this storyline. Make no mistake. Ronda and Charlotte are but supporting characters here, whose only purpose is to elevate Becky into the star she's meant to be. This is Becky Lynch's story, her platform for ascension. Having a story like this gives her the same WrestleMania moment that Daniel Bryan and Chris Benoit had after their respective Triple Threat main events in 2014 and 2004 respectively.

    Going back to Charlotte, her position as the heel in this story is WWE learning its lesson from its failed Roman Reigns experiment. Yes, Charlotte is being shoehorned into this match, and she's being shoehorned into another big opportunity like she has been her entire career. And she's owning it, being completely unapologetic like a heel is supposed to be. Sure, this is the nth Triple Threat that involves both Charlotte and Becky (Hi Sasha, Carmella, and Asuka!) You have to give WWE some credit for having the self-awareness to portray Charlotte as Vince's chosen one this time.

    As for Vince, how does it make sense for him to penalize only Becky Lynch, when he also stated on RAW that he has a problem with Ronda's attitude? It doesn't and there's a clear double standard. But from a character standpoint, there are two layers to peel back. First, he's a promoter and it's poor business judgment on his end to suspend his biggest mainstream name and Women's Champion and remove her from the WrestleMania card. 

    Second, and here's the kicker... He's a heel. His actions don't have to make sense, at least not to you or to us. His actions and thoughts only need to make sense to him. And as long as he can justify it, which he did on RAW, whether or not that makes sense to you is irrelevant. That's how heels act. And if it pissed you off, then the old man was clearly doing something right.

    But, hey, I still didn't get the one-on-one match that I wanted. There's only one way for these blood feuds to end and that's through a one-on-one match where it all comes to a head. I'm pissed because this was supposed to be Becky Lynch's chance to be in a singles match at WrestleMania against Ronda Rousey!

    Okay, I feel you there. And in a way, I feel deprived of that, too. But I'm satisfied with the build we've got right here because Charlotte's inclusion actually makes sense in the larger story they're telling. Remember, this is Becky Lynch's story now. This is all about her. In stacking the deck against her that it looks like she'll have such insurmountable odds, Vince McMahon (the promoter) is looking to build Becky into a big star once she overcomes everything that's been thrown at her. 

    Why were "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, Eddie Guerrero, and Daniel Bryan such huge babyfaces during their respective runs as heroes? It's because they had to go through so many hoops as underdogs that it compelled you to root for them. That's the same thing they're doing for Becky right here by kayfabe suspending her, and then inserting Charlotte as someone's who stealing The Man's piece of the spotlight once again.

    As for the bit about one-on-one matches settling a grudge once and for all, it's honestly just a matter of personal preference at this point. We can agree to disagree.

    You can argue that this is troll booking at its finest. And yes, it absolutely is. But that's a product of the times we're in where bookers have to resort to these tactics to elicit these reactions from us. Are these the only ways to do that? Maybe not necessarily. Can they be more hardworking in their storytelling? Sure, they can.

    But this is a rare example where WWE is actually showing that troll booking and telling a hardworking story aren't necessarily mutually exclusive after all. Here's why.

    Through this week's ending, Vince pushed Becky to a point where now, when she does raise hell a la Stone Cold, it'll be completely justified, as opposed to when she was just being a brat post-Rumble. She earned her spot. She said sorry. And she still got fucked over. Now, how bad does Becky want her WrestleMania spot? To what lengths is she willing to go to get what she rightfully wants and deserves? We'll find out soon enough.

    On a meta level, we fans got what we wanted when our girl won the Rumble. And Mr. McMahon, the character, is taking it away from us. Now, how bad do we want it? To what lengths are we willing to go to get what we rightfully want and deserve? We'll find out soon enough.

    What we're seeing at play here is Vince McMahon (the promoter and actual human being) testing how bad we want Becky in that WrestleMania main event picture. And to a degree, that's made this story more hardworking than we're giving it credit for right now. We're being worked and it's brilliantly done.

    I love it, Maggle!


    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: In Defense of The Ending of This Week's Monday Night RAW Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Stan Sy
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