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    Wednesday, March 20, 2019

    The Smark Henry RAW Review (3/18/19): Going Out With a Whimper Instead of a Bang

    So let me get this straight: Kurt Angle, a WWE Hall of Famer and Olympic gold medalist, had a plethora of retirement match opponents he could choose from—including the likes of John Cena and United States Champion Samoa Joe—and he went with Baron freaking Corbin? What?

    Fortunately, this week also saw RAW Women's Champion Ronda Rousey and Batista doing their best heel work along with Drew McIntyre, who pretty much dominated this week's RAW. Oh, and Universal Champion Brock Lesnar, along with his advocate Paul Heyman, also made his contracted appearance. Okay.

    Baron freaking Corbin?! Really? No offense to Corbin but I don't think he's the right man to retire someone like Kurt Angle. Outside of being a one-time United States Champion, Corbin's greatest claim to fame was winning the 2017 Men's Money in the Bank briefcase... and losing the cash-in opportunity after getting rolled-up by then-WWE Champion Jinder Mahal. 

    That's not a knock on either Corbin or Mahal but at how dumb that entire scenario was. Corbin wouldn't even need the rub of retiring a lovable legend like Kurt. Everyone already hates the former Lone Wolf and his heat level is very high. You could just have him walk out and do nothing like Lacey Evans does and everyone would boo him. He's not getting anything out of retiring Kurt and neither will Kurt.

    That said, I highly doubt that Angle versus Corbin will actually happen at WrestleMania. Why? Here's why. Also this. Of the eight dream opponents WWE.com listed as dream opponents for Angle's final match at WrestleMania, Corbin was nowhere to be found. We've already seen Angle versus Chad Gable this week—which should've been the WrestleMania match, mind you—and I highly doubt The Undertaker (because AEW rumors) or Roman Reigns (because Drew McIntyre) would be up to the task. 

    This week's SmackDown Live confirmed that Rey Mysterio is challenging Samoa Joe for the U.S. Championship at WrestleMania so I'm left with either John Cena or Shelton Benjamin actually getting the honor. For his part, Shelton posted on social media about the possibility of facing Angle at WrestleMania, and Angle replied that he was on-board. But let's face it, Vince won't be on-board with that. This whole thing is more likely another Vince swerve, which means that he'll most likely come out on next week's RAW and interrupt Corbin's promo to announce that Angle is facing John Cena instead. That would be better than Vince ruining KofiMania. One billion times better.

    Kurt wasn't the only retired wrestler to make an appearance on this week's RAW, too, as Beth Phoenix officially came out of retirement to reunite with her Divas of Doom tag team partner Natalya to challenge BaySash at WrestleMania for the WWE Women's Tag Team Championship. I'm not 100% into this and I don't think the crowd is either. Beth is definitely a Hall of Famer and a legend in her own right, but she doesn't feel over enough to get inserted in this picture, not like the Sky Pirates anyway. It's also a bit too late for the Divas of Doom, as their time has come and gone. Finally, shouldn't Beth and Nattie just fight the Samoan Cousins of Destruction, Nia Jax and Tamina? I mean, Jax and Tamina attacked Beth and then Nattie when the latter made the save at Fastlane, so how the heck did they add the titles into that equation? Greed? Maybe. At least the IIconics will be in that match, too, right? Billie and Peyton should win those titles. They should. I will fight you all. 

    Speaking of fighting everyone, RAW Women's Champion "Rowdy" Ronda Rousey did just that mercilessly. Ronda also decked a referee or two after that squash title match against Dana Brooke and even her husband Travis Browne got in on the act. What a literal power couple. 

    How will this new dynamic affect that Triple Threat match for the RAW Women's Championship (whose challengers are both from a different brand, by the way)? No idea. It could give Ronda an interesting advantage, having her husband come in to help her win and retain the title, or it could end with her downfall if the SmackDown girls somehow end up working together and lock the couple in their respective submission finishers for the lulz. Either way, this new development in Rousey's character heightens her value as a heel, especially outside of the shadows of Charlotte and Becky Lynch. 

    While we're on the subject of shadows, Batista's live interview via satellite with Michael Cole was pretty dang great. His promo regarding Triple H took a lot from the real-life criticisms of the NXT Daddy: Hunter needing others in groups and stables to get to the top as well as the Cerebral Assassin being manipulative and power-hungry. The content, along with Batista's delivery, was more than excellent, and I also love how he incorporated his journey within the WWE as well as his journey outside of it, specifically becoming a famous movie star in Hollywood.   

    Zooming out as a whole, Drew McIntyre won this week's RAW. Seth Rollins looked like a chump with that steel chair attack as well as getting distracted by Universal Champion Brock Lesnar in the main event loss. I don't think Drew needed that assist but I suppose Seth needs all the protection that he can, considering he's going to be in the main event of WrestleMania with The Beast Incarnate for the Universal title. 

    I'm not going to lie: I thought this was a lame development in the Lesnar versus Rollins feud for the title. Last week, we had a great exchange of promos between Rollins and Heyman. This week, Rollins feels like he's being an idiot through that lazy finish to his main event match against McIntyre. You don't turn your back on someone like Drew, Seth! You of all people should know that.

    Drew McIntyre versus Roman Reigns is an exciting matchup for me, though I'm a little concerned that Drew might find himself getting lost in the shuffle if (or more precisely when) Roman beats him at the Grandest Stage of Them All. I'm all up for a Roman victory because he's actually riding a wave of intense face-dom at the moment, but I just wish it wouldn't be at the expense of someone like Drew who should be Universal Champion sooner than later. Hopefully, it's not just another Roman beats heel scenario. Maybe, if we're lucky enough, we'll get these two guys in a physical, brutal war with each other for at least three PPVs, including WrestleMania of course. Too much of a good thingor just same thingcan be bad.

    RAW REVIEW: As it stands, Kurt Angle is stupid. Choosing Baron Corbin as his final opponent for his retirement match makes him stupid. You might argue that there's a storyline there but the same can be said for a possible match against John Cena or even against United States Champion Samoa Joe. Angle has the United States flag (or something like it anyway) on his gear and a final attempt at the United States Championship would make for an interesting... angle. Get it? I'm giving this week's RAW a C for "Corbin is not worthy!"  

    Quick Hitters:
    • Michael Cole proved to be the Tom Holland of the WWE when he spoiled Finn Bálor's "mystery tag team partner" against Bobby Lashley and Lio Rush with that "monstrous" line. I'm not sure if it was intended to appear like that, but Lashley and Braun Strowman being the last two men standing in this match was awkward and made me feel like WWE really hates "smaller guys." Also, Braun is going to be in the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal? Again? But he's already the WWE Greatest Royal Rumble Champion! If you forgot about that, I won't judge you.
    • In this week's edition of A Moment of Bliss, Elias revealed that he was going to be the main musical act of WrestleMania before getting interrupted by a conga line led by Otis, also featuring Tucker, and then blindsided by a masked No Way Jose, who then lost his succeeding match to Elias. Man, I was hoping that musical feud would be longer. It would've been a pretty decent midcard thing. Or undercard. Whatever works. I just like Jose.
    • Mojo Rawley is still doing the mirror thing for some reason.
    • Ricochet beating Jinder Mahal, who had the Singh Brothers with him at ringside, is a double-edged sword. On one hand, Ricochet can say that he's beaten a former WWE Champion. On the other, is this really the kind of matches—so many rest holds—a superb athlete like Ricochet deserves? 
    • I liked the segment where The Revival revealed they didn't even like Baron Corbin. That was after Apollo Crews goaded Corbin into a match, which Corbin then lost, furthering my conspiracy theory that Corbin is getting replaced as Kurt Angle's retirement match opponent. Also, did that Chicago crowd just chant for John Cena? Yikes.

    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. Kurt Angle versus Chad Gable for WrestleMania please, so I can make as many Looper references as I possibly can.
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    Item Reviewed: The Smark Henry RAW Review (3/18/19): Going Out With a Whimper Instead of a Bang Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Pepe Serapio
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