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    Thursday, May 9, 2019

    The Smark Henry RAW Review (5/6/19): SmackDown Presents: RAW

    I'm not going to lie: This week's RAW left me with more questions than answers, though I'm not yet sure if that's a good thing. For starters, is Vince McMahon's new Wild Card Rule actually genius? I mean, we all wanted surprises, so technically, we'd be getting surprises. Or is it going to be the downfall of the whole brand split concept? It's, like, why even have two separate brands when everyone can just appear wherever they want?

    More importantly, though, how many times did Vince call himself a genius on this week's show? Too many times? Yeah, let's go with "too many times." Hopefully, these are all just storyline shenanigan that'll at least lead to an entertaining match... or something. Survivor Series is still too far away, Vince, what the heck is all this?

    To be fair, though, Monday Night SmackDown was most likely caused by the terrible television ratings for both shows that seem to just decline and decline and decline week in and week out. As much as WWE caters to fans, it also needs to cater to its stockholders and network executives. Bringing in Vince McMahon and Roman Reigns seem to be their go-to move, which I think I understand but can't personally relate to because I'm all about them indie boys. However, bringing along fan favorite and WWE Champion Kofi Kingston, as well as former-fan-favorite-turned-annoying-vegan Daniel Bryan—the latter being a way better version of what CJ Parker could've been —made it all better as it ensured the fantastic main event that I'll talk about in a bit. 

    Still, one can't help but feel that this Wild Card Rule thing—which I'm sure Vince totally did not make up on the spot—basically damages the brand split concept. While it does give both shows an element of surprise, it also takes away the well-established identity that separates one show from the other. The rules are also a bit confusing, as it tended to just get changed as the show progressed, but I'm going to go on a limb here and give the WWE the benefit of the doubt by saying that this could turn into a new storyline of Vince being terrible at the helm of Creative and getting replaced by Triple H. Ah, a man can dream!

    It feels a bit too early for someone—in this case, Roman Reigns—to call out the New Era announcement by the McMahons and Triple H from December, which sought to make everyone think things were changing because the McMahons and Triple H were going to start listening to fans. Ha. Like anyone ever does. That said, the WrestleMania rematch between Roman and Drew McIntyre didn't really excite me. That was until it actually happened. This rematch was more than your usual Roman Reigns match in that there was more back-and-forth here. I like how they protected Drew here and even let him get the last laugh on Roman with a Claymore Kick.

    Speaking of WrestleMania rematches, WWE Champion Kofi Kingston and Daniel Bryan fought each other for the title during the main event despite both being from SmackDown. Oh, crap. The RAW locker room can't be happy about that, getting upstaged by these Blue Brand boys. You know who's happy that this happened, though? This guy! You couldn't see it but I was pointing at myself with my thumbs after typing that last statement. 

    This rematch was fantastic. Both Kofi and Daniel were fantastic. I didn't expect anything less, considering their WrestleMania match was pretty good, and I wasn't disappointed. The backstage promos helped to really build this rematch. Kofi's clean victory puts him over as a strong, fighting champion, and Bryan, well, Bryan didn't lose anything aside from this match because of his valiant effort.

    Thank God, these two invaded RAW because if they didn't, that tag team match featuring Baron Corbin and Bobby Lashley against Universal Champion Seth Rollins and AJ Styles would've probably been the main event. Damn it, Corbin! Why do you still exist?!

    Rollins and AJ having to coexist against Corbin and Bobby Lashley in a tag team match, with the latter two actually teaming up a lot in the past few months, was obviously not going to end well for the babyfaces. AJ put Seth through a table after their contract signing last week, so either he was going to attack Seth again or Seth would get some payback. It was predictable. It was obvious. It was meant to be. 

    Styles and Rollins are two of the best wrestlers in the company right now and they both know it. This title match isn't just a title match for either of these two competitors: It's going to be a chance to prove to themselves—if not the world—who really is the better wrestler. At least that's what I'm getting from this development. I like how this was all still in the gray area, though, as AJ's attack this time was accidental but Seth was right about him just walking out on their match and leaving him to dry.

    It's just freaking annoying that Corbin was the one who got the pin on the champion because now he probably won't shut up about it. Why did it have to be Corbin?! 

    RAW REVIEW: This was a pretty weird show. It managed to hook me from start to finish but mostly because I wanted to see how badly this would fail. There's no doubt about how great the talent pool of the WWE locker room is. The problem, though, lies in how they're presented and how they're not. That said, I'm giving this week's RAW a C for "Called it: AJ Styles invaded SmackDown in turn."  

    Quick Hitters:

    • I still love Sami Zayn's current gig as the critic of critics. Zayn is a great promo and his content is pretty good. This week, though, something changed, and I'm just going to go ahead and tell you that it was a dumb change. Braun Strowman is apparently still trying to murder people. Why is no one still calling the cops on him? This reminds me of Braun's feud with Kevin Owens, which I wasn't that into for obvious reasons. Sami could probably cost Braun his shot at the Money in the Bank ladder match, which will lead to a feud between them where Braun stalks Sami and throws him everywhere. Classic Braun, I guess.
    • Hopefully, Lucha House Party is getting a worthy streak of their own. That's it. That's all I have. These are some of the greatest Latino talents in the world and WWE is turning them into the Mexicools 2.0. Wait, those guys were great, too. I think I see a pattern here. Oh, wait, it's Cinco de Mayo? Ah, so I guess this was just one of those Cinco de Mayo things where Latino talents get a win before Creative forgets they exist. Classic Cinco de Mayo things.
    • For some reason, Ricochet had to defend his spot in the Money in the Bank ladder match. Why? This kind of match is tailor-made for high-flyers like him. Plus, he was in that NXT North American Championship Ladder Match that crowned the inaugural champion (in case you forgot, it was Adam Cole BAY BAY!!!) and he was great in there. At least Robert Roode's mustache got some ring time. The match between Roode and Ricochet actually killed two birds with one stone, the birds being Roode's recharged momentum and the storyline potential of Roode being the only one who has pinned Ricochet on the main roster. At least he has his mustache.
    • Eddie Guerrero's son Dominic getting accosted by United States Champion Samoa Joe who wanted him to deliver a message to his adoptive father, Rey Mysterio, seems a bit too much, considering Joe still has that quick win on Rey at WrestleMania as a way to get in his opponent's head. 
    • Lacey Evans bringing out the four RAW representatives in the Women's Money in the Bank Ladder Match while she beat up some local talent was a great way to highlight Evans' heel character. Then RAW and SmackDown Women's Champion Becky Lynch came out and brawled with Lacey again. It would've been cool if those four other women joined in and beat up both Becky and Lacey to emphasize their hunger for Lynch's title, though. We've been watching Becky and Lacey brawl with each other for so long now, it's not going to get any more interesting at this rate.
    • The Viking Raiders squashing RAW Tag Team Champions Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder was inevitable. So far, Hawkins and Ryder's reign has been forgettable and—if this result is any indication—will be over soon enough. War! War! War!
    • Bray Wyatt's "Firefly Fun House" is quickly becoming my favorite part of RAW. I'm pretty sure Mercy the Buzzard murdering Rambling Rabbit was a reference to the death of Bray Wyatt's old aesthetics. Bray's current persona should lend to some fantastic character work as long as he doesn't get fed to some other wrestler. Bray didn't kidnap those kids, did he? Cool, cool, cool, cool, cool...
    • Shane McMahon and Elias interrupting the Reigns versus McIntyre rematch was unexpected and somewhat exciting. It was just a bit odd, though, when Elias chose to stay with McIntyre to beat down Reigns instead of helping Shane against a steel-chair-wielding Miz. The parking lot shenanigans actually made me more interested in that Steel Cage match between Shane and Miz.
    • I actually like The Usos' backstage segment pranks because it reminds me of the good old Eddie Guerrero backstage segment pranks. It's just a shame that The Revival and their Great Balls of Fire had to be their victims, especially since this smells like corporate punishment for the pair reportedly wanting to leave WWE.
    • When No Way Jose's theme played, I actually already expected Lars Sullivan to come out and take him and his Rosebuds Conga Line out because (1) I forgot Lars is a SmackDown wrestler now and (2) No Way Jose only appears so someone can attack him. Mojo Rawley's still arguing with his mirror, so Lars was the only obvious choice here. Lars intimidating Vince backstage was hilarious, though.
    Images from WWE


    Jofer Serapio (@ShawarmaJoereviews WWE RAW 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. Brand Split? What Brand Split?
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    Item Reviewed: The Smark Henry RAW Review (5/6/19): SmackDown Presents: RAW Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Pepe Serapio
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