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The Smark Henry RAW Report (6/8/15): Pagoda Tragedy


There was a time when the wrestling calendar was pretty simple. Every month would have a pay-per-view and the TV shows would be scheduled around those PPVs. Every four-week cycle would start with the fallout of the previous PPV, and each week, the drama and momentum would heighten towards the go-home show on the last week right before the PPV, culminating in the PPV itself.


It was a formulaic setup that made the viewing experience predictable, in the sense that viewers would generally know what to expect out of an episode of RAW or SmackDown! Through the first few years of my wrestling fandom, it was something I didn’t really notice, but eventually, it was something I grew comfortable with because it built my excitement towards (1) the go-home show and (2) the PPV itself.


When WWE brought back Elimination Chamber as a PPV and scheduled it smack in the middle of Payback and Money in the Bank, I was open to the novelty of having two-week intervals between big shows. I also saw through the attempt to drive subscriptions to the WWE Network by virtue of having a show that was supposed to have major implications exclusively available to the Network only. It’s been two weeks after Elimination Chamber ended, and I feel like it wasn’t worth the gamble because it’s exhausted me as a viewer.


I’ve been ranting on this space about the repetitiveness of certain characters’ placements on the card during RAW and how that could lead to viewer fatigue. I didn’t realize we were going through it anyway via a different route: oversaturation of big moments. The reason why the four-week setup worked was because it allowed time to either build short stories that could have a payoff by the next PPV, or write the next chapter in a medium or long-term feud. It afforded Creative with a week where they can either write a character off just to mix things up, or to pace the storytelling to keep it fresh for viewers.


What we’ve been seeing since Payback ended was basically a bunch of stories that got rushed, with a lot of big moments all sandwiched too closely to one another, such that none of the moments seem all that memorable in the end because we got the same stuff last week anyway. Great storytelling needs proper pacing from start to middle to end. You can’t expect a great story if you sacrifice any of those.


This is why it’s important to establish your exposition, get to your rising action, achieve your climax, and then have a satisfying denouement. On a slightly related note, I remember being told that the traditional plot arc is modeled after a male’s sexual activity, and it does make sense. Using that comparison, climaxing repeatedly without all the foreplay isn’t a whole lot of fun since the journey is equally as important as your destination. Plus that shit hurts, bruh.


The Man That Logic Forgot



This is Neville. He forgot his logic today, guys. Can we help him find it?
Photo from WWE.com
Kevin Owens vs. John Cena is the match I’m most looking forward to seeing at Money in the Bank, and they took their feud a notch higher this week by standing side by side in the ring and issuing an open challenge simultaneously. They dared any superstar to come out and challenge either of them for their respective championship, which was actually an interesting wrinkle to the open challenge schtick. Neville came out and told Cena that he’d love to challenge Cena again one day, then proceeded to call Owens out for being a disrespectful NXT Champion. I initially thought that this made sense, but as Smark Henry’s f├╝hrer explains on this week’s SGP Podcast, it doesn’t make sense for Neville to do this.


For starters, Neville was very close to beating Cena for the US title, only to have Rusev interfere right after a successful Red Arrow on Cena. Neville’s got to have some claim to a rematch, right? Oh, and there’s also that little bit about how Owens was the guy who wrote Neville out of NXT. Don’t you remember that, Neville? There’s a reason you got demoted to the main roster.


All logic aside, Neville and Owens put out a hard-hitting match, which saw Neville get dominated physically for the most part. One moment that stood out to me was Neville deadlifting Owens for a bridge suplex. Holy shit. Other than that, I still enjoyed the match, even though it was one-sided, because of Cena on color commentary. I actually don’t remember the last time Cena’s been a guest commentator, but they should keep this a sporadic thing so the novelty doesn’t wear off. I wonder if Cena would make a good commentator when he retires, though. Then again, there haven’t been a whole lot of megastars in wrestling who ended up in the booth. (JBL doesn't count. He never will.)


Tarnation!



Pasimple ka pa, Dean. Syempre ginusto mo 'tong mangyari.
Photo from WWE.com
Joey Mercury and Jamie Noble won in the main event of Monday Night RAW.


I had to repeat that sentence over and over again. Oh, I forgot this last part.


Joey Mercury and Jamie Noble won in the main event of Monday Night RAW against the WWE World Heavyweight Champion.


Let that sink in for a second.


We good?


Alright. SHIT.


J&J Security have pretty much turned on Seth Rollins after the champ belittled everyone in the Authority and lost favor with them. I find it interesting that J&J are getting the face reactions because Rollins is Justin Bieber and we should feel sorry for the retired guys. But at the same time, having the Authority put Seth through all of this crap is uncharacteristic of the heel champion who’s supposedly part of the stable. I do get the point of the story, though, and that is to prove to Seth that he needs the Authority to succeed. The Authority is basically putting him in his place so that Rollins swallows his pride and plays nice with the rest of them.

The best part about this week’s chapter in the Rollins-Authority saga? We were treated to a few minutes of two former Ring of Honor World Champions duking it out in the ring in the main event of RAW in Noble and Rollins.


Oh, and Dean Ambrose went around the French Quarter with the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, only to momentarily return it to Seth to distract him so that Mercury could pick up the win. Somehow that should feel like a bigger deal than it was, but my viewer fatigue watered this moment down.


My, That’s A Deadly Death Drop



Photo from WWE.com
Remember Luke Harper and Erick Rowan?


It was about damn time they came back out for a match as a tag team. I’m still disappointed that they didn’t attack Los Matadores in Elimination Chamber and take their spot in the match instead. But I guess squashing Diego & Fernando on RAW will do. Their use of the 3D as their new tag team finisher raised eyebrows all over the IWC, but I’m willing to give it some time and see them develop more.


Did anybody notice Rowan’s sheep mask this week? It just got really dark, really quickly with the eyes all gouged out or darkened. Looking at it legitimately gave me shivers, and I’m a grown-ass man in my 20s. On another note, Harper & Rowan are the types of characters who wouldn’t be hurt if their first names were dropped. Think about it. They’re cult followers who seem to be swamp dwellers and are clearly against the current of what society dictates. They could totally just run as Harper & Rowan, and it’ll be okay! Cue Neville, Cesaro, and Rusev all nodding their heads and looking for their first names.


Diva Dish






The Divas Division is a mess. Again.


Just when we thought that Naomi could finally get her opportunity at a Divas title run, she loses to Nikki Bella, who’s looking more and more poised to break AJ Lee’s record for longest Divas Championship run as the weeks go by. To make matters worse, Naomi hasn’t been seen since Payback, and neither has Tamina. I feel really sorry for Tamina now because she can’t catch a break. She always has to be attached to another Diva by the hip, and whenever her boss gets sidelined, she does, too. Or even worse, she herself gets sidelined by some injury. I hope that neither Naomi nor Tamina are injured because I want to see them both make a run for the Divas title again.


In other news, they supposedly added a layer to Paige’s character by making her stand up for change. As in the altruistic kind of change, where someone actually goes out of their way to change status quo if they don’t like it. It seems fine and dandy and all, but Paige was never really wired to be a cookie-cutter babyface. Why can’t they try rolling with her anti-Diva gimmick from NXT? It’ll fly even more on the main roster since a lot of the Divas who she described in the past are basically on RAW. Sure, it may be a bit of a problem since she herself is on Total Divas, but that’s negligible.


Stray Thoughts



I really hate that Roman Reigns is the obvious frontrunner to win the Money in the Bank Ladder Match. Biases aside, I understand that Reigns needs this—along with that long-awaited heel turn--to add a layer to his character. But having Reigns as the obvious choice makes the match way less interesting than it should be. I’ve always been a fan of the MITB Ladder Match and the Mr. Money in the Bank concept itself, so to see this year’s match seem like a throwaway win for Reigns feels flat. The best MITB Ladder Matches have always been the ones wherein the unexpected contender ekes out the victory. See: 2005 (Edge) and 2011 (Daniel Bryan).


Ryback vs. Big Show is an interesting matchup because we’ve been used to seeing Ryback as the bigger competitor, physically dominating his opponent. To see him as the physical underdog to the Big Show is nothing new. In fact, I’m pretty sure we’ve seen this match before, but as I said last week, the change of pace for Beezy’s matches is refreshing. I just wish we didn’t need Miz to stir up trouble between Ryback and Big Show. Can’t Miz have his own story? Or better yet, why not have Miz challenge Ryback, too? One last note: it was nice of Ryback to attempt to put Sandow over when Beezy burned Miz with that Sandow comeback. Unfortunately, Sandow’s career is, once again, way past the point of salvation.


The New Day should keep milking the Freebird Rule. I actually want them to win either the IC or US title eventually, so that they can share it the way they do the Tag Team titles. Hell, Xavier’s declarations of the Freebird Rule applying to the MITB contract are not only funny, but brilliant, too! If Kofi were to ever win the MITB Ladder Match—spoiler alert: he won’t—then the Mr. MITB status also applies to Big E and Woods.


Now, one can assume that this would be the beginning of their implosion as a team because they’ll all fight for the contract’s ownership as individuals. That could be a fun story, but come on, it’ll be more fun to see the three of them try to cash in as a group just because if they win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, then all of them would be champion. Jeez, all this overthinking is actually getting me excited over the New Day… as it should! Too bad Kofi doesn’t stand a chance at winning MITB.


*****


What did you think of this week’s RAW? Do you also feel that the insertion of Elimination Chamber has led to viewer fatigue? Is there anyone out there who thinks that Roman Reigns isn’t winning the Money in the Bank Ladder Match? Sound off in the comments section! Stay tuned for this week’s Smark Gilas-Pilipinas Podcast and for the Ruthless Roundtable for Money in the Bank!



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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