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    Tuesday, February 23, 2021

    The RAW RhetoRick (2/22/21): #Blindside


    Drew McIntyre should definitely be terrified of cage matches by now. I'm Ricky Publico, and this is the RAW RhetoRick. 

    After a daring Elimination Chamber ending, RAW did the next best thing by following up nicely on the chaos they just created. Honestly, I'm still amazed how this struggling brand pulled off one of the best blindsides in recent memory. Did anyone really expect The Miz to become WWE Champion this year? I even expected him to waste his shot as the ultimate punchline to his current arc. We're like two months away from WrestleMania 37 and they pull this shit off? Incredible. Amazing. Exquisite. Awesome!

    Whether you like The Miz or not, you should at least appreciate the effort in taking a detour this close to 'Mania. We've been crapping on RAW for the past few months for various reasons, one of which was their lack of interesting stories to work with. While SmackDown was shaking the ground with heel Roman Reigns, RAW was skating by with a shaky Drew McIntyre title run that's too vanilla for my liking. Chaos has been reintroduced and things can't get any more exciting on Monday nights. 

    And can we talk about how Miz won the title? You probably won't get it if you're not a Survivor fan but what we just witnessed was a classic blindside. Two master strategists formed an alliance to eliminate one formidable threat and come Tribal Council (read: Elimination Chamber), successfully toppled one of the favorites to win the game (read: headline WrestleMania). And the episode after dealt with the aftermath of an alliance gone wrong; it just so happens that at the other end of that deal was Bobby Lashley.  

    I don't care if you're Boston Rob or Sandra Diaz-Twine—two of the greatest Survivor players in the history of the game. If an irate Bobby Lashley demands his end of the bargain, you give him what he wants. Kidding aside, I'm head over heels for this development, knowing that Lashley finally made his move to try and capture the WWE Championship. I've been bitching about how he should be chasing the real deal instead of clutching the measly United States Championship and we all have The Miz effectively using his Hidden Immunity Ido;—er, Money in the Bank Contractto thank for it.

    Case in point: Bobby Lashley decimating Braun Strowman in the main event. I will always get a kick out of Lashley manhandling opponents bigger than him and seeing that this week was even more enjoyable because that opponent was Braun Strowman. I'm glad he got his whiny ass decisively whooped by the Hurt Business CEO. Suddenly, Bobby Lashley receiving his WrestleMania moment this year doesn't sound impossible at all. I know we still have Fastlane to worry about, but let a man dream, goddammit!

        

    I also love how Drew McIntyre didn't show up this week. This definitely looks like the beginning of an interesting curse (Hey, just like Survivor's Car Curse!) that will float above McIntyre like a black cloud. Temporarily removing him from the mix allowed for the intrigue to stick. Now everyone's going to wonder how the former champion will react to all of these. I mean, we will probably get the usual rah-rah speech about not overcoming the odds but promising to bounce back again, but hey, we'll see.  

    Of course, not everything is hunky-dory here on RAW. For one, Sheamus just became dumber as a character for turning on his best friend, only for it to... not pay off at all. It's going to be a long stretch to salvage him and while picking up a win over Jeff Hardy this week certainly helped a little, Creative has to retcon his character to make him look less dumb. Maybe repairing his friendship with the former WWE Champion is a good start? After all, they've used the best-friends-fight-and-make-up card effectively once. Try it again. 

    And how about RETRIBUTION not doing anything to mess up Kofi Kingston's game? How dumb can Mustafa Ali's character get? His beef with Kofi started with the latter replacing him in the Chamber match two years ago. He could've literally used his goons to take him out last Monday (Manila Time) or better yet, prevent him from earning a Chamber spot last week. Instead, Ali set his eyes on the United States Championship. This makes him look like quite the dumbass. Someone in the back must really hate Ali's guts or something. 

    So why are they still feuding with the New Day? This storyline now has no legs to stand on and the only thing keeping it afloat is that Xavier Woods has yet to battle Reckoning in a one-on-one match. And since they don't want RETRIBUTION to gain any type of traction, we probably won't get that match either. Now he's out here trying to tease a breakup? If anything, that's the best possible scenario right now. It's useless to keep these talented wrestlers as a group so yes, let this madness end.

    I just hate how Mustafa Ali will come out of this storyline as an inefficient heel who doesn't know how to capitalize on opportunities, no matter how clear they seem to be. Huge thanks to Creative for making all of this possible (not) and I really hope Ali can bounce back from all of this. As for the other members, can we just ship them back to NXT or maybe have Mia Yim go back to being Mia Yim? With Rhea Ripley coming to RAW, its women's division needs all the star power they can get. #SetMiaYimFree

    CLOSING RHETORICK: This week's episode was a solid follow-up to one of the most exciting Elimination Chamber PPVs in years. From the epic Miz and Bobby Lashley segments to all the love the women's tag division got, the effort to make RAW great again can be seen and felt. We even got AJ Styles vs. Ricochet just because. Now that's a baller move from a brand currently rebranding itself. 

    Show Grade: B

    RhetoRickal Statements That Didn't Make It Out Of The Elimination Chamber

    • Can we just get Shane McMahon to manage RAW and place Adam Pearce firmly on SmackDown? Pearce is a far more competent and interesting authority figure on the Blue Brand anyway. Besides, I miss having Shane's sensible decision-making on my wrestling shows. 

    • Someone backstage must be working hard to fix all the little things that made the old RAW suck ass. See how easy it is to make stables formidable by not having their members bicker? And with that, Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin look golden as the tag team unit of The Hurt Business. It's so easy to do, I'm shocked it took them so long to finally get it.

    • Speaking of fixing things, we finally got Charlotte Flair vs. Asuka, the storyline fitting for both women. Sure, we've seen this match before, but it's a billion times better than what they were trying to do with Charlotte and Lacey Evans. So yes, give me this twice-in-a-lifetime-caliber match at WrestleMania 37. And I appreciate the effort to try and close that chapter with a backstage segment, but I honestly wouldn't mind if they just pretended it didn't happen. 
    • Bad Bunny now has his own Superstar page at WWE.com! That's awesome but is it really that hard to put a temporary picture on it? Not that it matters, but having the vacant profile photo in there makes his page look cheap. And as always, Damien Priest was amazing. *shoots an invisible arrow at an invisible target*

    • Wouldn't Randy Orton's promo sound a bit better if he's complaining about The Fiend distracting him inside the Elimination Chamber rather than distracting him in a Gauntlet match a week prior? And yes, the black goo returns. Such riveting stuff. /s

    Header image from WWE.com

    *****

    Ricky Publico (@nyamnyamgarbage) is Smark Henry's resident main roster reviewer...  for better or worse. A known lover of tournaments, he's a sucker for well-executed promos and fast-paced matches. While he enjoys nitpicking shows, he now prefers enjoying wrestling for what it is instead of stressing himself over things he can't control. He's anxious about the future, now more than ever. LET HIM IN.

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    Item Reviewed: The RAW RhetoRick (2/22/21): #Blindside Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Ricky Jay Publico
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