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    Wednesday, August 21, 2019

    The Smark Henry RAW Review (8/19/19): The Monster Among Men & The Man's Man

    As another Ninoy Aquino Day comes and goes and my midterms for business school loom over my head, this week's RAW wastes little time to set up the mostly exciting bouts for this year's King of the Ring tournament. Not surprisingly, for me anyway, Jerry "The King" Lawler was on commentary—not because this show was in Memphis—because he's The King and there's a tournament around with the word "King" in its name. Classic WWE booking. Aside from Jerry, we also had someone return, which was not actually good for Jerry, new tag team champions crowned in the form of a monster and The Man's man, and a Rey Mysterio retirement angle that might be happening real soon.

    First things first, Rey Mysterio implied that he may be retiring soon backstage with rude interviewer Charly Caruso. Well, he actually seemed like he was going to retire right then and there, almost taking off his mask himself, but Eddie Guerrero's son Dominick stopped him. Rey spoke of his many injuries throughout his career and his inability to defend lucha honor against evil Andrade who won't stop ripping off his mask like a psycho. 

    The mere mention of Andrade perked me up here because while I've seen the whole unmasking a luchador storyline get hyped and then wasted in the WWE, Andrade did have that video teaser in NXT where he watched his old matches while he was still a masked luchador before unmasking himself and later debuting unmasked at NXT TakeOver: The End. I know it might just be a pipe dream but if they ever reference that, Andrade's history as a masked luchador who now wants to unmask Rey, then that would be... tranquilo.

    But I digress. It seems that Rey's retirement would instead come to pass with, in Eddie Guerrero's son's words, "one last tag match." Okay, so I guess I might've paraphrased Eddie Guerrero's son's words but that's because Mexican telenovela levels of acting this was not. This was pretty wooden if I have to be so bold, but with the mix of emotions and gravitas that takes from real-world situations, it still works. It plays out the long-rumored Mysterio retirement plan with the "Dominick wrestling in the WWE soon" rumors. 

    In any case, I'm still hoping Andrade gets something to do with retiring Rey, though I'm not confident that Eddie Guerrero's son can get some measure of revenge and do it well since, well, we haven't really seen him wrestle and this would seem to be a major leap if he ends up wrestling on the main roster right away.

    Prior to Jerry "The King" Lawler's King's Court segment, a pre-taped promo of RAW Women's Champion Becky Lynch referencing Sasha Banks' reported attempts to quit WWE was shown and I thought that was pretty good. I've always been a sucker for promos that reel in real-life events because that obviously gives them a touch of reality, making feuds appear more than just random scripts to appease bored wrestlers and fans alike. Jerry, in his segment, then tried to introduce The Boss but the lights went wonky and I screamed, which further destroyed my just-recently-healed throat. Allergies, am I right? 

    If Jerry hadn't been portraying an idiot on commentary for decades now, I'd have believed that his attempt to escape was a genius tactical maneuver. Instead, I can't help but think he was just scared of what would come next, which is actually a more believable response. Fight versus flight, right? Sadly for The King, there was no escaping what came next. There was no escaping Bray Wyatt. There was no escaping The Fiend. 

    In the end, The King's mouth hole was fingered by The Fiend, much to the apparent delight of the crowd who kept chanting "Yowie Wowie." You know your character is really over when the crowd is cool with chanting your otherwise dumb chant.

    Last week, Braun Strowman made an enemy of The OC when he saved Universal Champion Seth Rollins from The OC's attempt to #BeatUpSethRollins. This week, we were scheduled to get a United States Championship match between The Phenomenal champ AJ Styles and the Monster Among Men Braun Strowman, at least until the rest of The OC went fuck it and attacked Braun, giving him the DQ win. To be fair, the short match in itself was pretty awesome to me, and perhaps to anyone into the age-old match-up of strength versus speed. Seth inevitably made the save for Braun, because an eye for an eye, which got a huge babyface pop before the two shook hands and Braun held on for too long. If it wasn't clear from last week, or all the hints this week, Braun really wants Seth's title.

    Before that, though, Seth wanted The OC's tag titles, so he challenged the Good Brothers to a match with the big scary threatening monster of a man who's clearly lusting after his own title as his partner. Does Seth not watch a lot of WWE? We've all seen this storyline before. A champion and his would-be challenger team up in a tag match, only to turn on each other to officially set their title match up—wait, they won the titles off The OC?! What the fattempted murder?! I guess that's what Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson get for resigning with the WWE on a long-term basis.

    To be fair, it's actually an exciting and unexpected direction, as evidenced by how the crowd popped for the surprise title win. The match in itself was pretty good, with Braun ending up doing his usual schtick of plowing through everyone once he got the hot tag. AJ Styles even tried to get involved but was neutralized by Seth. Man, if only The OC had another member waiting in the wings, eh? Finn Bálor? Shinsuke Nakamura? Drake Maverick? 

    RAW REVIEW: All in all, this week's RAW continues its streak of good episodes, providing another excellent week of WWE TV. Giving the matches more time to breathe and letting the in-ring style connect more with the crowd seems to help make RAW better overall. It's not like people have been saying that for weeks, even months now, though. With promising 2019 King of the Ring tournament results, Banks telling Nattie her daddy is in hell, and The Fiend returning to give The King the finger inside his mouth hole, I'm giving this week's RAW a B for "Braun should be in jail." 

    Quick Hitters:

    • I'm not gonna lie, I almost forgot Roman Reigns wasn't part of the RAW roster. He's been appearing on this show consistently for weeks now as per the Wild Card Rule—which is understandable since he is a draw—that I almost thought he was part of the RAW roster. That said, despite his losses, Dolph Ziggler continues to be a really hilarious and entertaining character. That "Maryse's husband beat me with Ric Flair's move" line cracked me up. Their opening match was well-paced. Roman winning made me feel a bit "hmm" but then again this was against Dolph so I shouldn't have expected otherwise.
    • 205 Live's Vic Joseph made his RAW debut this week, replacing Jerry "The King" Lawler after The Fiend's attack, when The King was substituting for Corey Graves in the first place. I watch a lot of 205 Live and Vic did well here, freshening up RAW's commentary team. If it were up to me, though, my MVP commentary team would be Renee Young without someone telling her what to say over those earphones, super fan Mauro Ranallo, and heel Corey Graves.
    • For the first time since losing at Extreme Rules, everyone's most hated waiter Baron Corbin teamed up with my King of the Ring bet (sorry, Samoa Joe and my best friend in the whole wide world Kevin Owens!) Drew McIntyre against my second King of the Ring pick Ricochet and Maryse's husband. Now wrestling in a vest, Corbin actually looks somewhat better. As expected from a match that included both my King of the Ring picks, the in-ring action was pretty exciting and Corbin ate the pin. Corbin eating the pin alone gave me goosebumps.
    • Continuing his unprofessional habit of answering Skype calls while at work, Michael Cole took another one this week from a former King of the Ring winner, King Bookah himself. Wait, Queen Sharmell wasn't in this? What a waste.
    • Our first 2019 King of the Ring tournament match was between Samoa Joe and Cesaro, and boy, was this perfect. The hard-hitting match showcased what both men can do in that ring, with Cesaro looking good even in defeat. The King of Swing brought out all his uppercuts to daze Joe but Joe only needed a well-timed Coquina Clutch in the middle of the ring to win the bout. Although Cesaro did look amazing here, I just realized while watching this match that it could've been awesome for him to win this tournament, mostly because he is the King of Swing and was a King of Wrestling in the indies with Kassius Ohno.
    • Apparently, Drake Maverick tried to win the 24/7 Championship from Elias in a recording studio last weekend. This week, R-Truth, with Carmella in tow, tried to do the same during Elias' in-ring concert segment where the champ also revealed that this may be the last in-ring concert segment we'll get from him because it's just too dangerous to be out there in that ring like a sitting duck with his 24/7 Championship. Luckily for Elias, though, he's able to kick out of surprise roll-up pins and even Truth's Scissors Kick, so I'm guessing he'll be 24/7 Champion for a long while.
    • Randy Orton and The Revival (were those snakeskin boots?) teaming together to kill The New Day was fun. That Shatter RKO was just perfect. This was supposed to be a straight-up tag team match between the SmackDown Tag Team Champions and The Revival, but Randy taking Big E out with an RKO from out of nowhere to throw this match out was a pretty straightforward continuation of the two feuds. Randy forcing WWE Champion Kofi Kingston, to watch as the dastardly trio destroyed Xavier Woods was delicious. In my opinion, Randy taking out Kofi's in-ring family is much more engaging than Randy mocking Kofi's real-life family. We're all more invested in The New Day's friendship being targeted because, well, we see a lot of The New Day and we've known them to be good friends for years now.
    • Sasha Bluenks (yeah, that doesn't work as well as Bluetista) wanting to talk more about her change to blue hair than actually attacking Natalya and RAW Women's Champion Becky Lynch last week made me laugh. She then doubled-down on her heel work this week by jumping Natalya and telling her to go to hell and to greet her dad hi. Oof. I guess Natalya's costing Sasha that title match before making it a triple threat down the line.
    • Women's Tag Team Champions Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross successfully defended their titles against Fire and Desire, Sonya Deville and Mandy Rose, so I guess the Bliss/Cross pair are dominating the women's tag division, which isn't saying a lot because not a lot of women are in that division. Maybe this is a precursor to a call-up from NXT or NXT UK challenging them for the titles? Rhea Ripley and Reina Gonzalez quickly come to mind. Hmm.
    • Our second 2019 King of the Ring tournament match saw Cedric Alexander beat Sami Zayn in a match that made Cedric look really good while pushing Sami further down the card. I know I wasn't expecting Sami to win this but he could've at least been portrayed better.
    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. According to him, Kevin Owens is his best friend in the whole wide world. The OC better get those tag titles back smh.
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    Item Reviewed: The Smark Henry RAW Review (8/19/19): The Monster Among Men & The Man's Man Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Pepe Serapio
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