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The Smark Henry RAW Report (6/1/15): I Not Stupid


Let me just say something on behalf of WWE viewers around the world.


We’re not stupid. We’re not.


We can appreciate good storytelling. We can appreciate good writing. The content we’re fed on a weekly basis doesn’t have to be dumb. In fact, just give us a story that’s logical from point A to point B, even all the way to point Z, and we’ll be fine.


It’s not going to be hard for us to put two and two together, as long as all the plot points are fleshed out well and that all loose ends are tied up by the end of the story. I don’t think that’s too much to ask. Is it?


I don’t understand how Creative is able to put out a decent next chapter in Rusev’s arc--despite his injury and subsequent removal from TV to heal up--and yet they can’t seem to make up their mind on how the Bella Twins should behave.


I don’t know why they continually hand out spots in multi-man matches without making the competitors earn it, and yet they write Roman Reigns as an underdog who has to keep proving he deserves his spot in the Money in the Bank Ladder Match.


I don’t see the logic behind bringing Sheamus back to bully the little guys, only to forget that altogether because they’ve got him too focused on multi-man matches.


I can explain a lot of my gripes with this week’s RAW, along with the few things I actually liked about the show, so let’s jump right in!


So Much For A Heel Turn





When Roman Reigns wasn’t booked for a match at Elimination Chamber and was written--rather suspiciously--as Dean Ambrose’s running buddy heading into that show, it raised a lot of questions as to whether or not Reigns was going to screw Ambrose over. It turned out that he didn’t and that the payoff the next day was for the Authority to put Reigns through the gauntlet to deserve his spot in the MITB Ladder Match.


Now before I get into Reigns and his gauntlet, let me ask this question: What happened to MITB qualifying matches? This is the same gripe I had with the King of the Ring field. Hell, what happened to qualifying matches in general? Aside from Daniel Bryan, no other superstar had to defend or earn his spot in the Royal Rumble match this past January. Nobody competed for a spot in either Elimination Chamber match.


How are we supposed to believe that a superstar--babyface or heel--actually deserves a championship when his road to the title wasn’t arduous enough? If we want to talk about raising the value of the titles in WWE, then Creative should do its part by writing its characters such that they actually earn the titles they win. Shouldn’t that be logical? Bring the qualifying matches back!


This year’s MITB Ladder Match features past winners in Dolph Ziggler (2012) and Randy Orton (2013), past participants in Kofi Kingston, Sheamus, Roman Reigns, and MITB neophyte Neville. It’s not a bad field, but I would have liked it if it were at least explained why these six superstars deserved to be in the MITB Ladder Match. I mean, I love Dolph Ziggler, but he also lost his last two PPV matches, so why does he get a spot in the MITB Ladder Match? Hell, Reigns wasn’t even booked for Elimination Chamber, and neither was Orton. Why are they in the match?


Roman Reigns was the only competitor whose spot in the match was in flux throughout this week’s RAW, as the Authority put him through three matches spread out during the show. Triple H put Reigns through the ringer as he was made to face King Barrett, then Mark Henry, and then Bray Wyatt all in the same night. It was explained why Reigns was being punished that way, after he helped his buddy Dean Ambrose out during Elimination Chamber. But Reigns isn’t the only anti-Authority character on the roster. Have they forgotten about their history with Dolph Ziggler?





Given the field, Reigns is the obvious frontrunner to win MITB, and I’m okay with that because it’ll be interesting how they’ll handle the Reigns character as Mr. Money in the Bank. I think they can still pull a trigger on a heel turn after he wins the briefcase. But in order for that to happen, they’ll have to start sowing tension between him and Ambrose. I think that by putting Reigns through the gauntlet as an underdog, you’re only building more sympathy towards him, unless the endgame is to make the fans love him so much and then suddenly pull the rug from under us with a heel turn.


Since we’re talking about the WWE World Heavyweight Championship picture, we might as well bring up the fact that the current feud between Ambrose/Reigns and Rollins/Authority is a year too late. This is what we should have gotten at this time last year right after Rollins turned. I can’t believe that they waited all this time for Roman to have Dean’s back.


Mizark just turned heel on Roman Reigns.
Photo from WWE.com

Kill, Owens, Kill





Kevin Owens vs. John Cena was not Owens’ first match in WWE. That may have been his first match on the main roster, but it certainly wasn’t his first WWE tango. Let’s get that out of the way and hope that Cole corrects himself next time.


Owens cut his best WWE promo by far this week after he went and called out Cena’s “Super Cena” gimmick. He drew from the fact that his son Owen is a huge John Cena mark and that Owen and Cena’s other fans worship Cena blindly. He went so far as to actually use the words “Super Cena” and proceeded to rant about how he himself never got the same love from mainstream fans. In the process, Owens was able to flesh out a good reason to attack Cena by saying that he’s going after Cena because he wants to prove to everyone that John Cena isn’t immortal, that John Cena is just a human being. That’s way, way deeper than Rusev vs. Cena ever could have gone, and that’s because they focused too much on the damn US vs. Russia angle in that one.


To be fair to John Cena, he actually rebutted Owens’ points very well by saying that Super Cena exists to give hope to kids because everyone needs a hero. It’s actually a classic John Cena promo at this point, since he’s busted this out at least three times--against CM Punk, Kane, and Wyatt. Cena’s been defending the need for a Super Cena character ever since Kane tried to convert him to the dark side in 2012.


Cena's really at his best on the mic when he's emotional. But we already knew that. While rebutting Owens, he did not make it about himself. He argued that his Super Cena gimmick is supposed to inspire people. If I could take the argument a step further, it doesn't matter who's under the gimmick/mantle. Someone needs to be an inspiration to children everywhere because everyone needs a hero. Everyone needs someone to get behind. It’s the same reason why people dress up as Santa Claus even though they’re grown ass men whose innocence has clearly passed them by.


If there's one thing I don't like about Cena's promo, it's how he kept asserting himself as a "real man" and attacked Owens' manhood. I feel like feminists would have a bone to pick with that.


Rusev Crushed





Speaking of manhood, let’s talk about Rusev. He showed up on RAW this week on crutches, clearly still suffering the effects of his legit injury on this past SmackDown! When Byron Saxton asked him where his mind was at right now, all he could say was that he had “no championship, no career, and no woman.” He added that he was a “broken man” with a “broken ankle and a broken spirit”. To punctuate it, he said that he himself was “crushed”. Damn, bro. That’s some heavy stuff. The best part about the minute or two that Rusev had on TV this week was that it was more than enough to gain sympathy for him. But is this enough to turn Rusev face eventually? I don’t think so, but it’s a good start.


Return of the Comeback


I really don't understand how an official can fall for this shit.
Photo from WWE.com
So the Bellas brought Twin Magic back this week for the first time since they returned to the WWE in 2013. I don’t get how or why this works since (1) they’ve sported different hairstyles since last year and (2) Nikki’s BOOBS. How the flying fuck can a WWE officially mistake Nikki for Brie even after they attempt Twin Magic? We’ve had a WWE referee mistake Xavier Woods for Kofi Kingston before, and now they can’t tell Nikki Bella from Brie Bella when it’s clear they’re no longer as identical as they used to be. SMFH.


Hell, here’s the more jarring question: Why are the Bellas turning again? Didn’t they just turn face without an explanation last month? Why are they heels again? What’s their motivation behind turning heel? Why does Paige’s return even necessitate the heel turn? When Paige came back and attacked both Naomi and Nikki Bella, wasn’t that supposed to turn Paige into a tweener?


Big Show came back this week, too, and he made a statement by knocking Miz out during the supposed Intercontinental Championship match between Mizanin and Ryback. In the process, Show grabbed the mic and declared his intentions to challenge Beezy for his title. I actually think this is an interesting feud, despite the rehash, because Ryback works better as a face champion since he’ll be the smaller guy. I also liked how Show just asserted his size by towering over Ryback to show his dominance. I am this close to saying I missed Big Show. Welcome back, big man.


Scattered Thoughts and Observations


Sheamus was brought back as a monster heel who imposes his will on smaller wrestlers, and then as an Intercontinental Championship contender. Now that he’s not in the IC title picture, can we have him assault smaller wrestlers again? We’ve seen that he and Neville can mix it up well in the ring, so why not start a Sheamus-Neville feud? Or how about the Lucha Dragons? Sheamus can go after both Kalisto y Sin Cara and try to show that their flippy shit act can only get them so far because they aren’t genetically gifted like he is. We don’t need to see another match between Sheamus and Randy Orton again even though they’re both in the MITB Ladder Match again.


With news coming out that Tyson Kidd may be injured after his match on Superstars against Samoa Joe, it’s no surprise that K-Swiss seems to be out of the tag team title hunt for now. In the meantime, the Prime Time Players seem poised to be the New Day’s next challengers. It seems fitting since they were the last team to be eliminated at Elimination Chamber, so they do have that going in their favor. Plus the PTP managed to beat the New Day clean alongside Dolph Ziggler, so that must count for something right?

*****

What did you think of this week's RAW? Do you also feel like your intelligence is being insulted now more than ever with the current trend towards WWE storytelling? Hit us up and sound off in the comments section below!



Stan Sy is a radio DJ, an events host, a freelance writer, one of the hosts of the Smark Gilas-Pilipinas Podcast, and Smark Henry's official PPV reviewer. He enjoys watching WWE, NXT, Lucha Underground, and the occasional New Japan match. Every now and then, he dresses up in fancy suits to book matches as PWR's longest-tenured General Manager to date. Follow him on Twitter: @_stansy


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