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The Smark Henry RAW Report (6/29/15): I'm Only Human


And I bleed when I fall down.

When WWE Creative screws up with its booking, they won't apologize, but we've all seen them subtly acknowledge it when they start writing their characters the way they're supposed to be written. Roman Reigns is the best example of this right now.

After Seth Rollins turned on the Shield last year, my initial thoughts were that the Authority would keep feuding with Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose, and that this would be a long saga that would eventually culminate in a triple threat matchup involving all three Shield alumni. A little over a year has passed since then, and it's funny that we're getting it now, albeit one year late.

With Rollins as the Authority's poster boy, Ambrose had a foil to feud with for the next year while Reigns immediately pursued the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. We've said on the SGP Podcast over and over that this would hurt Roman for two reasons: (1) Roman looked stupid for forgetting to get back at Rollins and being distracted by a shiny new toy in the world title and (2) Roman wasn't ready, which meant that he would just be shoved down our throats. 

I hated Roman because he was too stupid to realize that Rollins had betrayed him and that he easily moved on to competing for the world title. Plus, he never really watched Ambrose's back and came to his aid despite their relationship as "brothers." And while Roman was getting his superpush at the start of the year, we were all clamoring for Daniel Bryan to get a chance to fight for the world title he never lost. So the fact that Bryan was eschewed for Roman Reigns pissed me off and made me even more of a Roman Reigns hater. 

When Roman finally came to Dean's aid during the buildup to the latter's world title match against Seth at Elimination Chamber, it reeked of duplicity because Roman has let Dean fend for himself all this time. And now we're supposed to believe that he's got Dean's back all of a sudden?

Elimination Chamber came and went, and Roman Reigns did not turn heel on Dean Ambrose. He also didn't win the Money in the Bank contract, thanks to Bray Wyatt, who ultimately cost Reigns the victory. So now, Roman's got beef with Bray Wyatt for (1) preventing him from being Mr. Money in the Bank and (2) for insinuating that he would go after Roman's daughter. That's some serious stuff, and I said a few weeks ago that that is the type of story that would make me care about Reigns.

So now Reigns and Ambrose are running buddies again, and they've been teaming up in matches against the Authority over the last several weeks. You might as well call them "the Shield" again because they're basically it minus Rollins. It seems like a long time ago when these guys called themselves the Hounds of Justice, and in a way, Ambrose and Reigns still are since they're standing up to the corruption of the Authority. 

As for Bray Wyatt, he cut a riveting promo tonight when he basically pointed Reigns out as his antithesis, calling the latter "the yin to [his] yang" and "the light to [his] darkness." When Wyatt painted the words "ANYONE BUT YOU," on the wall to psyche Roman out, he meant that he would allow anyone to succeed but Roman Reigns. Wyatt's essentially labeled himself the Voldemort to Roman Reigns' Harry Potter. Neither can live while the other survives. 

While all of that is compelling on its own, I feel like Bray Wyatt took a step back in terms of storytelling this week. When Wyatt targeted Roman, he should have started with declaring his intentions and explaining why he's got a vendetta against the Big Dog. This is where the antithesis dialogue should have come in. And then Wyatt should have made things personal by targeting Roman's daughter and eventually bringing her into the story. That's how you escalate tension in a blood feud. Instead, we've got two exciting but disjointed steps in what should be a compelling blood feud.

All in all, it's interesting to me that Creative has given me a reason to care about Roman Reigns because this story not only keeps Roman away from the world title picture, it also helps build him up with eventual victories against both the Authority and against Bray Wyatt. That will further legitimize him when the time comes that the Roman Empire should finally reign. 

See, this is how you book a babyface fans can universally get behind. You give them a foil who goes threatens their very core, someone who goes after what they hold most dear. Then you show him being overpowered or outwitted by his foil. Show his road to redemption and how he works to overcome his weaknesses. And then give him a convincing and masterful victory to assert his dominance. 

The most important part of this formula is to humanize your hero. Gone are the days of the cartoon Rock ‘N Wrestling era, where characters are one-dimensional meatheads. Give him a dimension that makes him relatable. Roman Reigns is a father who loves his daughter and would do anything to protect her. 

Suddenly, Roman Reigns isn't just Vince McMahon's pet project anymore. He's a father, and more importantly, a human being. That’s why the angle with Roman’s daughter was shocking, and yet, effective. It was relatable and human. I never wanted a superhero to cheer for. All this time, I was just looking for a human being to get behind.

This Summer’s Gonna Hurt


In 2011, we witnessed the Summer of Punk in WWE. Four years later, we’re seeing the Summer of Fight as Kevin Owens and John Cena’s feud has been one of the best things on WWE television over the last few weeks. Cena brought back the US Championship Open Challenge this week and Owens went out to fake Cena into an impromptu match, only for him to bring out Cesaro. It was weird seeing Cesaro come out to his music alone, and then it took a second for me to realize that he’d been doing that for about a year until he and Tyson Kidd teamed up last December.

Cena and Cesaro had one hell of a match, which I wouldn’t necessarily call a Match of the Year candidate if stacked against matches in other wrestling promotions and shows this year. But if the category were kept strictly to WWE, then I might be convinced. Nonetheless, it was a stellar match because both men brought out the best in each other with counter after counter. Cena busted out the Cenadian Destroyer again, while Cesaro hit Cena with his patented deadlift superplex from the second rope. 

I used to think that nobody would be booked to kick out of the Neutralizer since I don’t recall anyone having kicked out of it since Cesaro debuted on the main roster. That all changed today as Cena kicked out of it. Cesaro impressed me with his STF counter to the Sharpshooter, which ultimately led to the match’s finish—an attack from Kevin Owens, disqualifying John Cena. 

To Owens’ credit, it was only right for his character to do that because he made the promise that he would be the one to take the US Championship from Cena—and he should. As much as I love this feud between Cena and Owens, I hope Cesaro eventually challenges Owens and uses this instance as a reason to want to fight KO. After all, Cesaro’s going to be without Tyson Kidd for the next year.

The Big Guy, the Big Show, and the Big Mouth

How the hell did Miz's beard turn ginger?
Photo from WWE.com
JBL was on a roll with one-liners this week, with the sub-heading above being one of them as he summed up the triple threat feud over the Intercontinental Championship in one line. Remember how Ryback had to become #Flyback last week to defeat Mark Henry? It was an obscure callback to the fact that Ryback couldn’t lift Henry up for the Shell Shocked during their match at WM29—at least for the fans who actually remembered it.

This week on RAW, Big Show all but squashed Mizark, knocking out the World’s Strongest Man in less than two minutes. That made sense to me because it accomplished the task of trying to build Show back up after the poor job they did of writing for their giant last week. After the match, the Ryback run-in and Miz’s subsequent attacks did enough to forward the story without requiring all three guys to brawl with one another. Having Miz eventually run from Ryback during their match and losing by countout was also a safe way of keeping Miz’s heat as a chickenshit heel. 

Rewind, Repeat It

I actually dig having Bo team up with the New Day
Photo from WWE.com
When the Lucha Dragons came out to team with the Prime Time Players against the New Day and Bo Dallas, it felt like déjà vu. Oh wait. This actually happened last week on SmackDown. As much as I’m happy about all eight of these guys getting time to work in the ring, I don’t think there was anything substantially different from their match on SD. The only plausible reason I see behind having this match take place on RAW is somebody backstage must have seen how well all of them work together and decided that this match was worthy of a spot on RAW.

All that being said, the match allowed all eight participants to show what they can do. I like how Bo Dallas actually complements the New Day in terms of gimmick. It’s about damn time Creative put them together, and it’s worked to their favor with Bo as an additional heat magnet next to Xavier Woods. On the face side, having Kalisto y Sin Cara with the PTP adds an element of excitement to the Titus’ power-based offense and Darren’s steady in-ring work.

One thing that I’ve been paying attention to recently has been the way Lilian Garcia introduces the Lucha Dragons. She announces them as “Kalisto y Sin Cara”, and now she announces their weight in Spanish, too! At this rate, she might as well announce “Lucha Dragons” in Spanish! “Los Dragones del Lucha!” doesn’t roll off the tongue like “Lucha Dragons” does, but why not give it a shot? Make it happen, Lilian!

Kapag May Katwiran, Ipaglaban Mo!

Deep down, all Paige wants is somebody to tell her,
"Anuman ang mangyari, di kita iiwan."
Photo from WWE.com
Paige’s anti-Bella crusade continued on this week’s RAW as she faced Alicia Fox, who has already pledged her allegiance to Team Bella. Seeing Paige and Foxy square off in the ring was a treat, even though some fans will have already gotten sick of this pairing since they did feud last year. Watching Foxy wrestle reminds me just how underrated she is as an in-ring performer. It’s also pretty jarring that it’s been five years since she last held the Divas Championship. Can’t she use that as her reason to turn on the Bellas eventually? 

As it stands, Paige still walks a lonely road as she tries to unseat the Bellas as the queen bees of the WWE. Oh, and JBL also came up with gem of a one-liner earlier: “Paige says this is her house, problem is, the Bellas own the neighborhood!”

Let the Love Begin

Hindi po kami nilalanggam.
Photo from WWE.com
Dolph Ziggler and Lana finally came out in public and declared that they have an on-screen romantic relationship, much to the chagrin of the viewing public who actually sees through the fact that these two have no chemistry with one another. This week was also the first time that these two actually acknowledged that Lana and Rusev were indeed boyfriend-girlfriend. Up until this point, it was only implied that Lana and Rusev had a relationship other than their professional one. 

Rusev and Summer Rae came out and faced off against Dolph and Lana, which led Dolph to tell Rusev to back off or else he will do something about Summer Rae—presumably hit on her and make out with her on-screen, too. Yeah, that doesn’t really do much for Dolph as a babyface. Lana just told the world that Dolph respects her, and then he goes out and declares his intentions to basically be the playboy that people see him as. Stay classy, Dolph. 

Oh, and since when we’re talking about Summer Rae, seeing her flip-flop from Damien Sandow to the Miz, and now to Rusev, makes me realize that Chris Brown and Lil Wayne must have had her in mind when they recorded their song “Loyal.”

And since the pervs out there will have called it out by now, I might as well mention the wardrobe malfunctions. Lana and Summer Rae got into it and had a catfight, resulting in Lana’s skirt climbing up higher and exposing her undies. Summer Rae herself wasn’t spared from a wardrobe malfunction of her own, but I’ll let you look for those screenshots yourselves, you horndogs.

Bitch, I’m King Barrett

Babangon ako at dudurugin kita... not.
Photo from WWE.com
King Barrett’s now out to make his loyal subjects pay their respects to him, and it’s nice to see that they’ve finally got a little bit of a gimmick going for him. He now wants all of his opponents moving forward to bow at his feet and pay respect. His opponent for this week, Jack Swagger, had no plans of doing it, and ended up getting beaten in a largely forgettable match. Fortunately, King Barrett picked up a win again on RAW, and stood over the fallen Swagger as he wore his crown and robe, while he held his scepter.

Where Are U Now

Ginusto mo 'yan, Neville. Panindigan mo 'yan.
Photo from WWE.com
Neville’s matches used to easily be the most entertaining part of every episode of RAW. But at some point, he’s going to need a real story in order for him to remain relevant. While I’m still a big fan of the Altitude Era and his gimmick as the Man that Gravity Forgot, I think he’s become lost in the midcard shuffle at this point. The announcers explained this week’s bout between Sheamus and Neville as something Neville himself demanded. But why? What was the point of that challenge? Is this in line with Sheamus’ vendetta against smaller dudes? At this point, that story’s all but forgotten, so I don’t get why Neville challenged Sheamus.

*****

All in all, this episode of RAW was the typical “meh” episode we’ve become used to, and that’s a shameful thing, lobster head, especially since every episode is a good three hours long every fucking week.

What did you think of this week’s RAW? Are you not entertained with Roman Reigns’ booking as of late? Do you appreciate how Cena wrestled his ass off against Cesaro? And are you looking for those screenshots of Lana and Summer Rae? Please tell me you’re better than that 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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