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    Wednesday, May 26, 2021

    The RAW RhetoRick (5/24/21): And I Don't Want No Substitute, Baby, I Swear It's Déjà Vu


    Have you ever entered a stretch in your life where the days blend into the nights in the worst way? You're just so busy hopping from task to task, and you realize you'd only gotten up from your seat to take a piss break. All of a sudden, it's well into the evening, and you're right back where you started. But you're so tired, you can't even think about falling asleep because of all the backlog on your plate. This is where I am right now. And thankfully for me, I had Monday Night RAW to help me fall asleep last night. I'm Stan Sy, tagging in for Ricky Publico, and this is the RAW RhetoRick.

    Damn, was this week's episode a trainwreck or what?

    We got two incredibly long matches through the first half of a three-hour show, along with a convoluted opening segment that didn't make much sense story-wise. And to what end? So we can get Rhea Ripley vs. Charlotte Flair all over again next month, along with another opportunity for Drew McIntyre to earn the #1 Contendership?

    I wrote last week that Kofi Kingston's main event win could be a sign of RAW finally reshuffling its deck and elevating new faces to the forefront. Apparently, that's not the case. Just last week, Drew McIntyre appeared to be all buddy-buddy with The New Day, and now, Drew and Kofi are at each other's throats. What's worse is they spent almost an hour fighting in the ring for nothing because Bobby Lashley and MVP caused a double-DQ.

    That revealed two problems for me. The first is how Creative seems to have too much time between now and Hell In A Cell that they feel like they can fuck around and give us the same match for two weeks in a row. The second is that RAW seems to have too much time but not enough active Superstars on-duty that they had to devote an hour of TV time to the Drew/Kofi arc alone. What for? Their little feud hasn't earned it. Why couldn't we have spread this time evenly across the roster, involve more guys, and let them be part of a story where they could face each other for the right to challenge Lashley? Why can't WWE slide Drew McIntyre into a midcard feud and make us miss him in the main event scene? What they're doing with him now is the exact same thing that made Super Cena insufferable in the mid-2000s!

    The second issue stretched across the entire program, a huge red flag for a three-hour broadcast. When literally every match on the card has to have some sort of video package like it's a PPV, you know they're stalling for time. What happened here? Where were the Viking Raiders, Drew Gulak, Angel Garza, Damian Priest, Mandy Rose & Dana Brooke, and Johnny Drip-Drip? Many of those stars I just named were relegated to pre-taped promos that hyped up WWE's return to live events and nothing else. Why couldn't they have been booked in segments/matches to start new stories? Why did RAW have to shorten its rotation like an NBA team does during the Playoffs?

    I'm a fan of both Asuka and Charlotte Flair, but I couldn't be bothered to care about their nth match this week because we've seen it so often since their epic WrestleMania encounter in 2018. What was the point of this? And why was it only announced after they'd wrestled that the winner would apparently be Rhea Ripley's next challenger? And even then, we're getting Rhea vs. Charlotte again!!! We just saw this at last year's WrestleMania! I can say the same thing about Sheamus vs. Humberto Carillo, a storyline that's been running in place over the last month!

    I want to cheer for the fact that AJ Styles and Omos are now babyfaces, which sort of makes sense because both guys are incredibly popular. And I reckon fans would cheer both of them anyway, especially when they're going up against the problematic Jaxson Ryker. But I feel like outside of getting over with the fans, AJ and Omos haven't really earned the face turn yet. You know, kinda like how a lot of the matches and stories from this episode didn't earn all that screen time?

    Let's close this one out with the main event. Sure, they tried to make the Women's Tag Team Championships feel important by putting it on last. But why didn't that match get the "big fight feel" buildup throughout the show? SmackDown literally provided RAW the template a few weeks ago when they built an entire episode around Roman Reigns vs. Daniel Bryan. RAW could've just jacked that if they really lacked in content to fill up air time. Even worse, that main event didn't even focus on the tag titles because it was more about how Reginald would get involved, what that meant for Shayna Baszler's relationship with Nia Jax, and how Alexa Bliss & Lilly were going to make their presence felt. It was as if they said, "Oh right, Nattie and Tamina are the champs, and they're here, too."

    CLOSING RHETORICK: I wish there were a more hilarious and hyperbolic way to say this, but I literally fell asleep during the RAW main event because that's how tired I'd gotten from the entire show. I mean, life has also made me tired, and I think this is what your 30s actually feel like. But, man. Watching this week's RAW didn't give me that feeling of escapism I crave from wrestling. It felt like a chore and a slog, something I just wanted to end, which is basically how I've felt 99% of the time since this pandemic hit. Fortunately, this review isn't an episode of RAW, so I'm going to choose to end it here before I decide to bang my head against the wall.

    Show Grade: F


    RhetoRickal Statements That Will Go On For Far Too Long Because I Have Nothing Else To Do With My Time And I Bet You Don't Either

    • I'll never stop being a fan of Beat the Clock matches/stipulations because they give the match stakes, which is always an easy story to tell. What I didn't like was Rhea Ripley being made to look silly by clearly forgetting that she had two minutes to beat Nikki Cross. Plus, what did Nikki have to gain by lasting two minutes against Rhea? And another thing, if Charlotte, Nikki, and Rhea could make that happen all on their own, then WHY THE HELL ARE ADAM PEARCE AND SONYA DEVILLE HOPPING BETWEEN RAW AND SMACKDOWN?!
    • Okay, I actually dig the character development for Riddle here. Randy Orton wasn't on the show, but we felt his presence during that match. I also need to see more of Xavier Woods as a singles guy. It's easy to forget that he's pretty good on his own. More, please.
    • The tag team breakup is a tale as old as time, but I also can't get tired of it because these tropes will always exist in wrestling. I just wish they made Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin earn this feud. I don't see the point in stretching this feud since they were only really together for half a year. Plus, their banishment from The Hurt Business felt so rushed that this story lost any gravitas it could've had. And why couldn't this match have been on PPV instead?
    • So Humberto Carillo and Ricochet are now feuding with Sheamus, so does that make him this year's MVP? I mean, didn't Ricochet and a similar group of midcard babyfaces go up against the United States Championship last year? Wait, DAMMIT ANOTHER RECYCLED FEUD!
    • I didn't miss T-Bar and Mace this week. 
    • I will not miss Adnan Virk on commentary. Based on the press releases and tweets from both Virk and WWE, it seems like a mutual decision. I'm glad Virk's got his sportscasting work to keep him busy. Here's to hoping we get Tom Phillips back on play-by-play duty.
    Header image 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 (5/24/21): And I Don't Want No Substitute, Baby, I Swear It's Déjà Vu Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Stan Sy
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