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    Wednesday, March 6, 2019

    The Smark Henry RAW Review (3/5/19): Tweeting is Hazardous to Your Health

    Fastlane is just around the corner—it's actually this Monday (Manila time), so this week's RAW tried its best to hype all of us up for that PPV. I thought it did a pretty great job despite all the confusion on the surface. For all the predictable turns, they actually had a few surprises here and there. They weren't as surprising as Batista murdering Ric Flair last week, but they were surprising enough to make me go "no way." "No way, the Shield are back together... again." "No way, Ronda Rousey finally had a meltdown." "No way, Ric Flair isn't Ric Flair's real name." That sort of stuff.

    I guess the Big Dog really is back because he's kicking off RAW again. I wonder how long it takes for everyone to start booing him again. Okay, maybe not him, but his booking, since Joe is actually a likable fellow on his own but we'll see. For now, it seems like Roman Reigns is going to take his time to get back into the title picture, as he flat out said that he did not want to join the WrestleMania match between his Shield brother Seth Rollins and WWE Universal Champion Brock Lesnar for the title he never lost. Great! What does he want? Another Shield reunion. Not really great. 

    Then again, this whole thing could make Dean Ambrose stay. That or it'll be the last run for the Shield for a long time, or until Ambrose comes back from AEW. Rollins could also benefit from the reunion, considering his babyface streak as of late has sort of dwindled. I actually almost forgot he was facing Brock at WrestleMania for the title, though that might just be because of Reigns' return. 

    I just thought that it was a bit weird that when Ambrose came out on the stage, and as Elias followed him with a guitar attack, neither Seth nor Roman thought about warning him via microphone. "Look out behind you!" Not that it would've actually prevented Ambrose from getting hit by a guitar, if only made Elias hit him faster, but at least that would've been the most logical course of action to take. They did come to his aid, though, so there was that. Ambrose did eventually get an opportunity to get his revenge on Elias with a singles match later in the night but it didn't end well for him, with Elias beating him clean as a whistle with Nikki Cross' finisher. It'll always be Nikki Cross' finisher, no offense, Elias.

    If the Shield does reunite, I'm not going to be surprised if their opponent ends up being this meh trio of Baron Corbin, Bobby Lashley, and Drew McIntyre. It hurts me to have both Drew and the word "meh" in one sentence but it is what it is. There's really no reason why this trio is still together, considering Corbin is no longer in power. Drew should obviously be destroying people on his own, and by pinning the current Intercontinental Champion, I guess Lashley's going to keep feuding with Finn Bálor. I suppose getting fed to the Shield is a reason, though it's obviously not a good one, just like Lio Rush getting anywhere near this match when murderer Braun Strowman is in it. Oh, my god! He killed Lio! You bastard!

    Ha! Called it. Now, will Dean cost the Shield this match? Will Drew be the one to Claymore the Shield, and most probably just Dean, out of the WWE? See you at Fastlane, fellow seers.

    Speaking of bastards, Drax the Destroyer skipped RAW because he supposedly hates Philadelphia, the birthplace of Philly cheese steaks, but the worst part? He cut a promo on Instagram. Disgusting. 

    This WrestleMania match between Batista and Triple H seems to be Batista's final WWE match, so wouldn't it have been better to have him compete as a face here? Then again, in 2014, Batista was brought back as a face and everyone wanted to boo him. Maybe he's just a better heel than a face, even though I mostly remember him playing a really good face when he was dominating SmackDown, opposite heels like Eddie Guerrero. 

    Triple H's promo was just really great. It was heartfelt and it pretty much set the tone for their WrestleMania match: Batista, as I already mentioned, is a bastard and Triple H is going to avenge his 900-year-old best friend, Richard Fliehr. I thought Triple H bringing in more real life details and not just sticking to the Evolution relationships involved here was brilliant. It added a deeper layer to an already set feud. 

    Triple H has never beaten Batista, which already works as a great set-up for this face-off. Batista attacking another Evolution member in Flair during his birthday celebration, who pretty much played the mentor role for all three guys in that group, as well as The Animal's former tag team partner when they were champions, added a more personal layer to this feud. Triple H including Flair's real name and that part about helping him bury his son took everything to another level.

    So two SmackDown wrestlers will be fighting at Fastlane for the RAW Women's Championship? Man, the RAW Women's Division probably didn't like that. Stephanie McMahon seems to, though, and that's the only important thing. Also, are we not going to talk about the fact that this whole situation in-storyline defied the edict of WWE CEO Mr. McMahon? Vince handpicked Charlotte to replace Becky for the RAW Women's Championship match at WrestleMania, so you'd think he'd just go "eff this" and just put the title on Charlotte, right? 

    Ah, well, this whole thing in itself is pretty much confusing and to an extent somewhat convoluted. You've got Becky Lynch, still on a crutch but no longer suspended, facing another SmackDown wrestler in Charlotte for the vacated RAW Women's Championship. Logically, Steph could've just made a whole damn tournament to spite Rousey, inviting NXT and NXT UK wrestlers to compete with the RAW Women's Division for the title, with Becky and/or Charlotte challenging them at WrestleMania. However, we all know the end game: It's the triple threat match between Becky, Ronda, and Charlotte.

    Five minutes into this segment, most of us probably already guessed that Ronda was appearing and attacking someone if not everyone, and she did. Apparently, Ronda did not vacate the championship, so she's still the champion. Okay. Corporate had one week to clear all that stuff out—even three days would've sufficed, but here we are. Because Becky and Flair have already signed the contract, their title match at Fastlane now becomes Becky's ticket to joining the WrestleMania title match, with the Fastlane match having no real reward for Flair. 

    I mean, you could argue that she'd be stopping Becky's inclusion and keeping it a fair one-on-one match between herself and Ronda at WrestleMania, but the fact is, Becky isn't even a part of the match anymore after Vince himself flipped the script, so now Flair's just a prop for Becky's inevitable inclusion. That sounds terrible, but to be fair, Flair was just inserted in the match as Becky's unwanted substitute, so Charlotte could use this Fastlane match as a way to prove herself the better challenger to Ronda's throne—if WWE picks up on that.

    I do want to point out the whole Hold Harmless Agreement thing, though, because it's a pretty marvelous way to address Becky's knee injury, which is apparently still an integral part of this storyline, presumably as a way to continue upping the stakes for her as the babyface. With Rousey's sort of surprising but definite well-done heel turn, verbally denouncing the fans before attacking both Flair and Lynch, the twist makes this WrestleMania encounter a big main event contender. 

    That said, there were just too many twists here and halfway through the segment, I found myself narrowing my eyes and wondering how the heck things are supposed to fall into place. It's like Steph herself, who seems like she can't make up her mind with these people: one week she's against Lynch and now she's not versus one week she's against Rousey and now she's giving the title back without that much of a fuss. It's weird.   

    RAW REVIEW: Most of this week's RAW felt like a re-run of everything we've seen and experienced most recently. From the billionth reunion of The Shield to Baron Corbin, Drew McIntyre, and Bobby Lashley still being a thing to Ruby Riott and Natalya unnecessarily facing each other even after their TLC feud, so much—too much—felt the same that it feels as if we were caught on a loop, and maybe we are. To be fair, they did try to add a few things here and there to make some things worth our time like the tag team division finally getting an interesting storyline, Ronda Rousey officially turning heel, the Triple H promo, and Roman Reigns stating that he doesn't want to be part of the WrestleMania Universal Championship match (I've got all my fingers crossed for that being true). I'm giving this week's RAW a B for "Becky really pissed Ronda on Twitter lmao."  

    Quick Hitters:
    • Ruby Riott faced Natalya in another singles match but this time she was rolled up rather quickly because apparently the writers hate Ruby. What's the point of having Sarah Logan and Liv Morgan around if they're not contributing anything? Lacey Evans did her weird strut again, but this time she was introduced as a "Sassy Southern Belle." Okay. Everything here was absolutely unnecessary, especially since Riott and Natalya already had that lengthy feud that culminated at TLC, unless of course Ruby's loss actually leads somewhere, which doesn't really look like that's the case here.
    • The four-team gauntlet match was obviously designed to make Heavy Machinery, Otis especially, pop out. I appreciated that because Heavy Machinery is actually very entertaining to watch, particularly Otis' strangely captivating Caterpillar move. It's just a little weird that the B-Team, The Ascension, and Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder would find time to make fun of these two guys. I mean, the B-Team would probably find time because they're former tag champions and can be pretty delusional. The Ascension and Hawkins and Ryder, however, are currently on the bottom of the RAW tag team totem pole, so they don't really have much going for them either. That and The Ascension should be murdering people backstage instead of making fun of them. And shouldn't Hawkins continue getting pissed at continuously losing even with Ryder backing him up? I think as a character he'd be more focused on that. Also, the B-Team was the first to get eliminated, so, uhh, yeah.
    • Tamina beat WWE Women's Tag Team Champion Sasha Banks?! Oh, no, what a surprise! Curse you, 50-50 booking! Curse you! We're all 100% sure BaySash is retaining at Fastlane, right? This was definitely meh.
    • I'm not going to lie: I was sort of relieved when Bobby Roode and Chad Gable interrupted the title match between RAW Tag Team Champions The Revival and Aleister Black and Ricochet (Black-ochet? Nope). The Revival has been losing every dang tag match they've had since winning the titles, and even though I love me some Black and Ricochet action, I feel like it's still too early for The Revival to drop the titles and for Black and Ricochet to lose a RAW match. Are Gable and Roode heels now? Do I even care? Not really. Whatever they are, though, they just gave the tag team division a pretty interesting storyline. I can appreciate that. Now if only Roode would finally turn on Gable and fight Finn for that Intercontinental Championship. Hmm. 
    • Oh, and uhm, SNL's The Weekend Update hosts, Michael Che and Colin Jost were there as RAW's special guests... for some reason. Wait, are they going to be the celebrity gimmick match at WrestleMania? Someone better get driven through that news desk. Someone better get life insurance against Braun Strowman.
    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. Ronda Rousey needs to stop tweeting.
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    Item Reviewed: The Smark Henry RAW Review (3/5/19): Tweeting is Hazardous to Your Health Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Pepe Serapio
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