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    Wednesday, May 19, 2021

    The RAW RhetoRick (5/17/21): KofiMania 2? More like KofiMania (and Drew).

    Let me get this straight. RAW needed to be exposed as the brand that had been twiddling its thumbs and running in place in the month since WrestleMania 37 just so they could start rotating their moving parts and build new stars again? I'll never understand how SmackDown seems to know how to maximize their talent and TV time, while RAW has an abundance of both utilities but continues to struggle making the most out of them. I'm Stan Sy, tagging in for Ricky Publico on this week's RAW RhetoRick.

    Let's start with WWE Champion Bobby Lashley's open challenge, which I felt was a mixed bag. On the one hand, it's a storyline already being done by another champion on the same show in Sheamus. But on the other hand, Sheamus himself expressed interest in challenging Lashley. Plus, with MVP having outrightly dismissed Drew McIntyre, it showed that Creative was willing to move on from Drew as Lashley's challenger for the title. For a while, it was amusing that the entire roster seemed to be invested in the idea of answering the open challenge, such that even people like Mace and T-BAR—who really deserve to just go by their original ring names now that they've unmasked, dammit—cut a promo on it. That's a good thing in a vacuum.

    Having Kofi Kingston eventually come out and challenge Lashley was also refreshing because it's been almost two years since Kofi's been in the WWE Championship conversation. Since the events of KofiMania, the former WWE Champion has really taken on the mantle of being the roster's Iron Man in being able to pull double-duty at shows to tell a compelling story, and I'll always applaud him for it. I like that Kofi even got a win, albeit with McIntyre's help, because it gives a claim against Lashley and MVP. If Kofi ends up being the #1 Contender at next month's Hell In A Cell, I'd be all in on it just because it'd be a much-needed change of pace from the Lashley/McIntyre feud that we've had since February.

    The problem is that Drew McIntyre got involved, which means he isn't done fucking with Lashley. Sadly, I think the Cell is going to be used as the blowoff point for this feud. The only consolation I'm getting out of this is that the McIntyre/Lashley storyline will finally end definitively. I just hope it ends with a Lashley win so that it opens up the door for other babyface challengers not named Drew McIntyre or Braun Strowman. 

    The other problem I saw was that for all of the RAW roster's talk about challenging Lashley, nobody actually stepped up come main event time other than Kofi. It was so weird seeing everyone talk a big game, only for them to tuck tail and allow Kofi to take the opportunity for himself. Why didn't people fight for it more? I mean, I get it. Bobby Lashley is such a dominant and intimidating champion that getting in the ring with him is a big risk in and of itself. But RAW's Creative team should've found a way to explain that instead of leaving it open to interpretation for fans to connect the dots themselves. This has always been a problem with WWE's storytelling, and I honestly don't know if they'll ever figure it out.

    As for the women's side of things, I'm pretty intrigued now that Natalya and Tamina will be appearing on RAW going forward as the Women's Tag Team Championships. It's also interesting that Alexa Bliss and Lilly seem to be eyeing something concrete now. Given their involvement in the rematch from last week's SmackDown, it looks like they want to face Natalya and Tamina, which is weird and fascinating all at the same time. RAW Creative is actually taking a step in the right direction here by giving us new stories to sink our teeth into while also tapping different talents other than the ones we've seen a lot of on-screen. 

    We got something similar in the United States Championship scene, where Ricochet went up against Sheamus this week in a strong showing. If RAW can do this every week, then it's a step in the right direction because they'll finally get to start building new contenders to address the clear gap in their lineup. After Drew McIntyre and an antihero-like Braun Strowman, they don't really have that next babyface in line since guys like Kofi, Xavier Woods, and Riddle are a clear rung (or two) below them in the hierarchy, with Ricochet, Humberto Carillo, and Mansoor being in another rung below that.

    Now, if only RAW can do the same thing with the Women's Championship picture. I mean, Rhea Ripley's character still hasn't been fleshed out even after her crowning moment at WrestleMania and a WrestleMania Backlash match that should've completely legitimized her as a force on RAW. Instead, we got even more character development from Charlotte Flair, whose schtick is already very much established on the show. It's also pretty unfortunate that RAW doesn't really know how to write for Asuka when she's not a champion. Yes, it could be because of the language barrier. But what if someone in the writer's room was of Japanese ethnicity and could at least write for Asuka better? 

    CLOSING RHETORICK: Zooming out here, RAW has been such a staple of my weekly routine that I can't imagine not putting in the time to watch it, even if it's just playing as white noise during my workday. I just wish it were more than that. I wish it were appointment viewing every week, with something that could get me excited to wake up every Tuesday. Instead, it goes through repetitive, boring stretches, like that period between WrestleMania and WrestleMania Backlash, taking its time before it realizes it has to do the work and build new stars. For those of us watching, it's really just a slog.

    Show Grade: C+

    RhetoRickal Statements That Cut a Promo on Bobby Lashley Before Tucking Tail and Not Challenging Him in the Main Event

    • How the hell does John Morrison get to show up on RAW the day after getting attacked by zombies looking like nothing happened? What the hell??? I'm just glad that Damian Priest can finally move on from this story.
    • Prayers and good vibrations up for The Miz. Hope that it's not a fully torn ACL and that the recovery time isn't as long as we fear it is. His absence on the roster leaves a HUGE gap that I hope JoMo and other midcard heels can step up to fill.
    • For the nth time... WHERE. IS. KEITH. LEE???
    • I can't believe Angel Garza and Drew Gulak are actually feuding over the former's rose getting kicked into the latter's ass. I mean... it's silly. But we're getting Garza and Gulak on TV for multiple weeks in a row now.
    • Where has R-Truth been all this time, and why was been away from TV this long?
    • I don't understand why AJ Styles and Omos are now feuding with Elias and Jaxson Ryker. Are they supposed to be representing our anger towards Ryker's real-life political views? Are AJ and Omos babyfaces now? If AJ and Omos are still heels, who was I supposed to cheer for in that AJ vs. Elias matchup???
    • RK-Bro continues to be the most interesting storyline on the show. I can't believe Riddle and Randy Orton are actually making this silliness work. Both guys are actually behaving logically based on how their characters have been established up to this point. Even Riddle's shove on Xavier Woods makes sense because the former looks at Randy as his bro now.
    • Anybody else afraid that Shelton Benjamin and Cedric Alexander are going back to being stuck at catering after their post-breakup feud ends?
    All images from WWE


    Stan Sy (@_StanSy) is the Editor at Large of Smark Henry and is also a radio DJ on Wave 89.1, an events host, a freelance writer, and the host of On Deck, as well as one of the hosts of The Wrestling-Wrestling Podcast. He also used to be one of the hosts and writers of The Wrestling Gods on FOX. He enjoys watching WWE, AEW, and the occasional New Japan match.
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    Item Reviewed: The RAW RhetoRick (5/17/21): KofiMania 2? More like KofiMania (and Drew). Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Stan Sy
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