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The Smark Henry RAW Report (8/10/15): As Long As You Fight Me


It’s official: we’re getting John Cena versus Seth Rollins in a Champion Versus Champion Winner Takes All Match at SummerSlam, and that should put to rest any doubts about Cena’s health, and continue to raise doubts over whether Vince is actually panicking over the ratings brought about by Rollins’ title run.


While this wasn’t set in stone just yet during RAW, we have to give Creative props for gently intersecting both the Owens-Cesaro feud and the Orton-Sheamus feud into Seth Rollins’ story. Randy Orton faced Seth Rollins for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship in the main event of RAW this week, which was a result of Orton winning a wonderfully executed triple threat match against Cesaro and Kevin Owens earlier in the night.


Although loneliness has always been a friend of mine, I’m leaving my life in your hands…


Last week on SmackDown!, Roman Reigns openly challenged Bray Wyatt and Luke Harper to a tag team match at SummerSlam against himself and Dean Ambrose. The match is being billed as a “Family War” and makes way more sense as is than to have Sting and a new Wyatt Family member involved. It seems natural to have had the feud progress this way, given the intersecting histories between all four characters involved, plus it accomplishes the one thing that a singles feud cannot do for Roman Reigns: make him more likable.


Seeing Roman cut goofy promos in the same dark corner of the arena as Dean Ambrose is a throwback to their Shield days and it also raises Roman’s cool factor tenfold. It’s been awhile since I thought Roman Reigns was actually a cool guy and it took having him stand and talk next to Dean Ambrose for that to happen again. It helps that the two have a natural chemistry, and that they play so well off the fact that the Dean Ambrose character doesn’t have a lot of friends save for Roman Reigns. Their promo this week showed that these two haven’t missed a step since they went their separate ways last year.


What’s even more interesting about this feud is the fact that it focuses on how Ambrose and Reigns’ friendship is supposedly the true testament of brotherhood because they’re trying to show the world that Bray and Luke aren’t brothers. Luke is just a sheep in Bray Wyatt’s little cult. The Shield 2.0 are challenging the idea of the Wyatt Family being a family, and I can’t help but agree with them because they make a hell of a lot of sense.


People say I’m crazy and that I am blind, risking it all at a glance…


It finally happened.


Stephen Amell was on RAW this week as a guest who sat at ringside for most of the show, until Stardust attacked Neville following the latter’s squash match against King Barrett. The climax came when Stardust slapped Amell across the face, provoking Amell to jump over the ring barrier, jump over the ring ropes, and take Stardust down and come to blows with him.


We at the Smark Henry offices have mixed feelings about Stephen Amell’s attempt at a Spear, with the camp calling it weaksauce winning by a slight margin. Nonetheless, it was pretty fun seeing Stephen Amell get all riled up and physical against Stardust. It’s worth noting that Mr. Queen doesn’t look all that big next to Stardust, King Barrett, and Triple H. In fact, he actually looks like a normal-sized human being, just with ridiculously toned muscles and abs.


In the following backstage segment, we saw Stephen Amell pretty much demanding Trips to authorize a tag team match between himself and Neville against Stardust and King Barrett. I find this really odd because Barrett was just a bit player during the altercation. All the King of the Ring did was hold Stardust back, which I interpreted as Barrett realizing that Stardust really is off his rocker, and that it was his own responsibility to stop the Strange One from getting physical with a guest. All of a sudden, he’s involved in the feud?! Why?! I don’t get it.


I also don’t get why Trips was being a dick towards Stephen Amell. As the boss, shouldn’t he have been remorseful that one of his talents took things too far and laid his hands on the guest at ringside?


All that being said, I’m still really excited for Stephen Amell and Neville vs. Stardust and King Barrett, if only because I like all four players involved and it should make for a fun moment at SummerSlam.


But how you’ve got me blinded’s still a mystery, I can’t get you out of my head…


Rusev defeated Mark Henry today, in what was the next stop of Rusev’s reunion tour with all of his former opponents. How weird is it that Mark Henry, of all people, is such a chameleon these days? He went from being an honorary member of the Prime Time Players over the last few weeks to suddenly being an American Silverback all over again on RAW.


During the match, we got Lana on commentary, who gave us a Dolph Ziggler update, telling us that Ziggy will be back after SummerSlam, though it wouldn’t surprise me at all if Ziggler came back next week and set up the mixed tag match for the PPV. The main highlight of this segment came when Lana and Summer got into it again, which didn’t end well for Lana as Summer Rae locked the Ravishing Russian in the Accolade. For what it’s worth, Creative’s done a good job of making Rusev more hateable as he totally manipulated Summer Rae into being not just a Lana clone, but one with Rusev’s moveset, too.


God, Summer Rae looks hideous in this shot.
Photo from WWE.com
It’s comforting to know that Lana doesn’t appear to have that no-contact clause in her contract anymore. If she wants to throw down in the ring and be one of the future building blocks of the Divas division, then I’m all for it. I just wonder if they’ll eventually retcon the Lana character and introduce her as actually being an all-American blond a la Betty Cooper. Hell, they were able to do something similar with Kofi Kingston two years after he debuted as a Jamaican dude.


Don’t care what is written in your history, as long as you’re here with me


They tried advancing the Taker-Lesnar feud this week without either men or Paul Heyman physically present in Sacramento through a video package, this time featuring several WWE superstars and legends talking about the matchup. It was pretty smart having a guy like Roman Reigns address Taker’s lowblow to Lesnar at Battleground as something they wouldn’t blame the Undertaker for doing. Some mentioned that this version of the Undertaker is “from the dark side,” while others argued that the Taker we’re seeing now is the same Taker we’ve known all along.


There’s a compelling case to be made for this version of the Undertaker not being the same guy that faced Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania XXX, which I definitely agree with. And that soundbite accurately sums up how this Taker-Lesnar feud has divided the WWE Universe. We’ve gone at length here at Smark Henry about how both Undertaker and Brock Lesnar have shown shades of gray throughout the feud, which humanize their respective characters, and therefore elicit the polarizing reactions they’ve gotten from different fans. Not bad, WWE.


Every little thing that you have said and done feels like it’s deep within me


Ryback made his triumphant return this week as a surprise guest on Miz TV, after Miz spent much of his segment poking fun at Daniel Bryan in front of his home state. For what it’s worth, I thought it was a great move using Bryan’s hometown pop and giving Ryback the nuclear pop by association again (with the first instance happening at Elimination Chamber, when he won the Intercontinental Championship).


It appears that as a result of the events of RAW, the triple threat match for the Intercontinental Championship, which should have taken place at Battleground, will now take place at SummerSlam. Not that I like it when guys get injured, but the timing of Ryback’s staph infection was a blessing in disguise because at least these three guys are getting a prime spot at the second-biggest show of the year.


Way to make use of a nuclear reaction for Daniel Bryan! I approve.
Photo from WWE.com
I’ve got to admit, though, that there was a part of me that wanted Ryback to attack Daniel Bryan, just like at Elimination Chamber, when Bryan presented the IC title to the Big Guy. I guess that would have been the one thing that would’ve gotten me to pop real hard since that would mean that Bryan was cleared to wrestle again… which he still isn’t. Huhubelles.


Doesn’t really matter if you’re on the run, seems like we’re meant to be


Cesaro’s on the kind of run that the IWC can only dream for its favorites right now. It’s like all of the stars are lining up for him to succeed right now, and all he needs is just one last spark, one star-making moment to cement his place among the upper echelon of the WWE. As it stands, he’s getting his feet wet in the big time, and he’s been doing the best he can to show that he belongs. Having him come out a la Jason Statham in a dress suit and shades is a nice touch to his gimmick as the consummate professional and paints a great picture of someone you should rightfully get behind.


Meanwhile, Kevin Owens’ run as one of the top dogs looks like it’s on borrowed time right now based on reports coming out about Kevin Dunn targeting him again due to the latter’s hatred towards NXT and its stars. We heard it through a Randy Orton verbal shot about Owens’ weight when Randy, KO, and Cesaro were getting in each other’s faces on RAW’s opening segment. It sure didn’t help that he flubbed saying “WWE Universe,” which is the second instance he’s stuttered on WWE TV since debuting on the main roster.


If there’s anything that should calm the doubts of those who fear Kevin Owens’ push is ending anytime soon, it’s his in-ring work, as he, Cesaro, and Randy Orton put out an exciting triple threat match during hour #2. Triple threat matches have a standard formula where for the most part, it’s two guys who are duking it out while the third guy takes a breather on the outside for several points in the match. The best triple threat matches are the ones where you barely notice that one of the guys is taking his break during the match, and what Cesaro, Owens, and Orton displayed was exactly that.


Not as outta nowhere as the first.
Photo from WWE.com
The match also did a great job at establishing both Owens and Cesaro as credible potential contenders to Seth Rollins’ WWE World Heavyweight Championship, which added an extra layer to what is already a boiling feud between both standouts. As of this week, though, Randy Orton’s closer to that level than they are, and that’s fine, because we wouldn’t want to bumrush Owens and Cesaro to the top just yet. Meanwhile, Randy Orton’s two consecutive RKOs from outta nowhere were a great way to finish the match.


Orton and Rollins have already proven that they know how to get a good, if not great, match out of each other. The only question was how could they hook me in to believe that Rollins could possibly lose his title before SummerSlam the same way they did last week with Neville. When Orton caught Rollins in mid-air for another spectacular RKO that we didn’t see coming, I got my answer. Having Sheamus come in to pull Orton out and attack him was a good way to remind everyone that Sheamus and Orton were still feuding. And then the cash-in tease felt like an easy, but understandable way of writing Sheamus into the storyline in case Cena would not have been available for SummerSlam.


Somewhere in the middle of all of this though, I still don’t understand why Triple H has to keep forcing Seth Rollins to man up as the champion. It’s as if Trips is holding Seth to such high standards even though they’re both supposed to be heels, and more importantly, part of the same stable. Shouldn’t Trips be coddling his little boy and spoiling him instead of forcing him to toughen up? That’s babyface behavior right there.


I’ve tried to hide it so that no one knows, but I guess it shows when you look into my eyes


The next chapter in the #DivaRevolution came out with a whimper as Paige, Charlotte, and Becky Lynch’s trio got renamed into Team PCB, which is a huge downgrade from the Submission Sorority. I get that someone in Creative fucked up and didn’t cross-check if that name had any porn references (Spoiler alert: yes, it did), but couldn’t they just have settled for Submission Sisters? That’s still way better than Team PCB, which just reeks of laziness.


We got a six-Diva tag match between Team BAD and Team Bella this week, with Team PCB on commentary, and my biggest takeaway from the match was the fact that everyone kept building up Nikki Bella’s lengthy Divas title run. We’ve said repeatedly on the website that this storyline sorely needs to get Divas Championship implications inserted into it to give it some sense. I find that the more they build up the length of Nikki’s title reign without having any direction as to who her next contender is, the more that they’re dropping the ball on the Diva Revolution.


Here’s a fun fact: the last time Nikki Bella defended the Divas Championship on WWE TV was at Beast in the East… on July 4. Are we no longer upholding the “champion must defend their title every 30 days” rule? (Of course, we’re not.)



After the match, there was a brawl, which also prompted Team PCB to get involved because, of course, they’ll get involved. That was pretty nonsensical, even if there was some obvious tension between all three teams. Team PCB’s been made to look very strong over the last several weeks, which is something I won’t complain too much about since I’m a fan of Paige, Charlotte, and Becky. But when will they get rewarded for repeatedly getting the upper hand in the feud?


So they ended up announcing a Divas Three-Team Elimination Match for SummerSlam, which I think is lazy because there could surely be another way to get these Divas involved with each other at the PPV while getting their championship in the picture, right?


What you did and where you’re coming from, I don’t care


We can’t end this week’s RAW review without talking about the Tag Team division and when they’ll make sense out of the multi-team matches we’ve seen over the last few weeks. We got our answer this week after the New Day defeated Los Matadores in an entertaining little tag match. Renee Young informed the New Day backstage that they earned a title opportunity against the Prime Time Players. And then she added that both Los Matadores and the Lucha Dragons were also in the match. 

It was absolutely enjoyable seeing Kofi, Big E, and Xavier Woods froth at this news and bitch about how outrageous this all is. To top it all off, seeing them get Renee Young to clap along with them just put some joy in my heart. Now if only I could make sense out of what Los Matadores and the Lucha Dragons did to deserve a title shot. By the way, has anybody seen the Ascension?


*****


If there’s anything I loved about this week’s RAW, it’s that they didn’t stray from the agenda all that much, which was booking the matches for SummerSlam. It’s about damn time they realized the urgency given that there are only two weeks until the big show. To Creative’s credit, they advanced every storyline this week, even the Divas’, and secured a spot on the SummerSlam card for all of them. Here’s to hoping none of them get bumped off at the last minute. As for the pre-show, my money’s on the Tag Team Championship match jerking the curtain.


This week’s RAW grade? A B+ for the entertainment and tightness.


What did you think of this week’s RAW? Which stories are you most excited to see come to a head at SummerSlam? Did you think Stephen Amell’s Spear was weaksauce? Sound off in the comments section!


*****


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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