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    Thursday, April 4, 2019

    The Smark Henry RAW Review (4/1/19): ApRAW Fools

    I've got to be honest with you, guys: I've never liked April Fools. Sure, some pranks are funny, but a few do go overboard, and when you unfortunately forget what day it is and get bombarded by weird news, it never helps when you've yet to get a cup of coffee. That's exactly what happened with me and this week's edition of RAW

    Oh, my, freaking god! This was the go-home show of RAW for WrestleMania, and Baron freaking Corbin beat Rey freaking Mysterio in the main event?! And Corbin's still retiring, I mean facing Kurt Angle at WrestleMania?! What the heck?! No words can express how furious I am at the disrespect the WWE Hall of Famer and Olympic gold medalist is getting right now, so let me just meditate to the picture of that furious knee SmackDown Women's Champion Charlotte Flair gave RAW Women's Champion "Rowdy" Ronda Rousey while the former was cuffed and the latter was in the back of the police car on this week's RAW. Ah, what a thing of beauty!

    Now that I'm all calm from that over-exaggerated anger, that Kurt Angle video package was pretty damn cool. Some would probably point out that Kurt's TNA career was left out of that video package, but this isn't TNA, so that's really not that hard to understand. This is Kurt's WWE retirement, which means he could technically move to AEW afterward if he wants to and AEW could do their own retirement tour for him. The video package in itself was made more effective when the cameras cut back to Kurt in the ring being emotional. He's had a really fantastic career, truth be told, and he'll be missed once he puts up his wrestling boots for good.

    Baron Corbin—I hate you so much, Baron Corbin!—interrupting Angle's moment to mock him was a standard heel move. Corbin ruining the previously advertised Kurt Angle versus Rey Mysterio match by taking on Mysterio himself in the main event was a standard WWE move. No one wanted to see that match, WWE! Rey Mysterio should have fought Ricochet instead! To be fair, though, it was probably a good thing that the Angle versus Mysterio match was scrapped. Kurt's retirement tour matches have been a bit painful to watch. Kurt's no longer in his prime and he's being unfortunately exposed in that regard, which isn't a good position for someone's hero to find himself in. Corbin might actually be on to something with those insults.

    To end the show, Angle locked Corbin in the Angle Lock (heh, get it?) on the ramp. I'm praying to all the gods in the multiverse that this means Corbin would be out with an ankle injury, revealing the case right before Angle's WrestleMania retirement match. Maybe Angle would then make an open challenge, and who should come out to take him on? Samoa Joe John freaking Cena. A man can dream.

    With Finn Bálor finally unleashing the Demon at WrestleMania against Bobby Lashley for the Intercontinental Championship, it's pretty much safe to say Finn's regaining the title, right? I mean, the Demon has never lost a WWE PPV match and Finn has been on an obvious roll lately. Remember when he beat Jinder Mahal and the Singh Brothers without the Demon last week? Even if Mahal and the Singh Brothers are considered undercarders at the moment, they're still three freaking people.

    Logically, and especially in-storyline, it's a bit odd that Finn calls upon the Demon to take on Lashley for the Intercontinental Championship when he's been beating the odds as of late, and never did when he had that Universal Championship opportunity against Brock Lesnar. Yes, I know, we all know Finn wasn't winning against Lesnar, but it doesn't change the fact that Finn was being stupid with the Demon. You've got a supernatural surefire-win weapon! Use it all the time, Finn!

    There's an obvious reason why that can't be the case, however, and it's either Finn can't be the Demon all the time because he just can't win all his matches (WWE can't accommodate a dominant force, just look at how they killed NXT Asuka) or the Demon will end up losing one or two unnecessary matches and would then lose its mystique. An interesting idea would be for the Demon to plagiarize The Undertaker's long-gone streak and go on a winning streak of its own. Book it, Vince! 

    For a second there, I was a bit concerned when Stephanie McMahon came out, opened the show, and talked about the historic (for WWE, anyway) WrestleMania main event involving RAW Women's Champion "Rowdy" Ronda Rousey, SmackDown Women's Champion Charlotte Flair, and my women's champion Becky Lynch. Steph adding herself to that Winner Takes All Triple Threat match to make it a Fatal Four-way would be a colossal nightmare, considering this feud is already a bit too much when you think about it. Two championships? People getting arrested? People getting suspended? People getting injured? Leave some for the other feuds, eh?

    Becky, I mean someone leaving that match with both titles could be a way to sort-of synchronize the women's main title picture with the women's tag title picture, in that the women's division, which isn't as big as the men's division, could end up violating the whole brand split thing by letting anyone from any brand challenge for the singles title and the tag titles. I'm not 100% on that idea because that could mean fewer women would get title opportunities. But I digress.

    The six-woman tag match featuring Ronda, Becky, and Charlotte versus the Riott Squad paled in comparison to the post-match shenanigans that occurred. I'm still very disappointed that WWE seems to not know what to do with already established more-than-two-people teams, but I was very surprised and even excited when the cops came out and everyone went insane backstage. In one fell swoop, WWE managed to make that main event quite possibly the most anticipated match on the WrestleMania card.

    Ronda, Becky, and Charlotte beat each other down, beat security down, and beat cops down. I thought that was the end of that segment but no! Despite being cuffed, the three competitors continued their brawl, with Ronda and Becky kicking each other—and the windows—in the back of a police car (stupid move, Washington P.D.), Ronda crashing a police car, and Charlotte gloriously kneeing Ronda in the face. This should've actually closed the show, as nothing else that came after it was really worth the spot.

    RAW REVIEW: The pull-apart brawl, handcuffs and police cars and all, was the best part of this week's RAW. Everything else, however, failed to reach the same level. This was the go-home RAW for WrestleMania, and most of the storylines didn't get the anticipated hot hooks or cliffhangers to make everyone want to see the PPV. I mean, I still want to see it because it's WrestleMania but apart from the name and the brand, and especially for the storylines and feuds, this was a bit disappointing. I'm giving this week's RAW a C for "Corbin's ankle is injured Corbin's ankle is injured Corbin's ankle is injured."  

    Quick Hitters:

    • Seth Rollins is supposed to be a valiant babyface here, right? Fighting for the guys in the locker room who've all been held back by Universal Champion Brock Lesnar, with Paul Heyman in tow, taking the title hostage? He's the underdog who will overcome all odds to slay the Beast at WrestleMania? Okay, cool, so why the heck did he attack Lesnar's mini-beasts not just once but twice? That was an odd choice, as it certainly undermines Seth's portrayal of being a good guy. Maybe the execution was just poor? 
    • Beth Phoenix looked really good in that eight-women tag team match also featuring the WWE Women's Tag Team Champions BaySash and Natalya versus Nia Jax, Tamina, and The IIconics (who are apparently not that good at bowling). While I'm disappointed that Peyton Royce ate the pin, making the IIconics—the only non-RAW tag team contenders in the Fatal Four-way title match by the way—appear like they were just added in the WrestleMania match to lose, it was pretty damn cool to see Beth Phoenix spear Tamina through the barricade. Edge would be proud.
    • I thought Batista's video package was really great, very coherent at least, and it was smart for the WWE to have him say only a few words—literally just four—because this week's RAW was in his hometown and people could've cheered wildly for him if he cut an extended promo. Still, this was the go-home RAW, so if you really think about it, this angle was a bit disappointing (though, still not as disappointing as that one angle with the retiring Angle). 
    • Elias's segment showed him again wandering New York to talk himself up. I'm not sure what he'll actually do at WrestleMania, if he'll really just sing or whatever, so I can only continue chuckling at these segments.
    • To hype up the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal match at WrestleMania, Apollo Crews beat Jinder Mahal in a singles match while some of the other competitors in that WrestleMania match watched. Yep. They then got into a brawl because that's how multi-man matches usually get hyped up. Crews stood tall to end the segment but I'm still not sold in the idea that he'll win it. Sorry, man.
    • The Mechanics, I mean The Revival beating Aleister Black and Ricochet to retain their RAW Tag Team Championships was... something. The match was great and all, it might have even been the best match of the night, but I was sort of hoping that this was going to be part of WrestleMania instead. While The Revival's terrible in-ring record as champs—they've lost more matches than they've won since winning the titles—almost made me think they were losing the titles here, them finding a creative way to retain was at least pretty interesting, especially considering Black and Ricochet seemed to have had their number in recent outings.
    • Drew McIntyre attacking Roman Reigns backstage reminded me why part of me wanted to see this match. I'm all for Drew and Reigns facing each other in a duel at WrestleMania, even though a part of me is concerned for Drew's inevitable loss. Roman's return from leukemia could've been handled better, considering the reception and adulation he received during his actual return. Unfortunately, that momentum seems to be all gone, all thanks to how ineffective his booking has been. 
    • Heavy Machinery beating Bobby Roode and Chad Gable effectively removed the latter from tag title contention at WrestleMania. When's Bobby turning on Chad and partnering up with EC3 so we can call them the Glorious 1%? More importantly, when's Lacey Evans actually getting a match? Maybe if she gets that match, she'll stop interrupting everyone else, that attention seeker.
    • Braun Strowman—the Greatest Royal Rumble Champion—beat up fake Colin Jost and fake Michael Che because celebrities need their slot at WrestleMania
    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. I'm not really that mad with the whole Kurt Angle retirement match at WrestleMania. Just pretty disappointed.
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    Item Reviewed: The Smark Henry RAW Review (4/1/19): ApRAW Fools Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Pepe Serapio
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