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The Smark Henry RAW Report (9/21/15): The Fallout


Ever since Kane started wearing a suit and tie as the Director of Operations in 2013, I’ve been wondering about the possibility of Creative striking a dichotomy between Corporate Kane and Demon Kane. For the better part of the last two years, the most striking difference between Kane’s dual identities—his attire, mannerisms, and speech—were barely played up. All we were left to understand is that Corporate Kane is the corporate lapdog who speaks formally, while the Demon Kane is the dude in a mask who uses hell, fire, and brimstone.

This week on RAW, WWE introduced a new narrative where Corporate Kane returned and seemed to have no recollections of his actions as the Demon Kane from Night of Champions. That was the first time that they ever implied that the Kane character seemed to suffer from Multiple Personality Disorder. The brilliance was in the fact that switching between those personalities wasn’t just a matter of changing costumes. The dichotomy was struck: Corporate Kane and Demon Kane were two different and separate entities.

Throughout the episode, it was amusing to see Kane tease the multiple personalities angle, even when he tried to suppress the inner demon because Seth Rollins was bugging him. The best part of Corporate Kane’s return was when he seemed to act so chill, like he actually went on a vacation to Hawaii. What? Didn’t you get the email? 

Seeing the Authority struggle with Kane’s return was a joy to watch because seeing an evil stable face a threat from within was a fresh way to write their story this week. Triple H and Stephanie McMahon tried their damndest to get Kane to break the act and admit that he was playing them all, but Kane proved through the night that he truly had the upper hand on them.

The story would have been perfect, save for the fact that Creative decided to reveal at the end of the show that all of Kane’s actions were premeditated and that there was no duality. There was no dichotomy. There is just Kane.

And it’s a shame that Creative was too impatient to let a nice little angle play out for a few weeks. Teasing Kane’s dual personalities could have been a fresh story for the Authority, instead of seeing the same formulaic program, where the Authority faces a common enemy together.

While I recognize that this angle reminds me (and many others) very much of Abyss toggling between being himself and his alter ego/brother Joseph Park in TNA, WWE could have executed this better since they’ve never really done something like this before. As I said, they were too impatient to set the table for Seth Rollins and his latest opponent for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, Kane. The only good thing I see at the end of the day is the continuity, since they acknowledged Rollins’ attack on Kane as the reason why they’re feuding in the first place. 

Turning A New Paige

Paige finally turned on Charlotte, proving me right when I called for her heel turn to take place on the RAW after Night of Champions. I’ve always enjoyed Paige’s work as a heel more than as a babyface and hearing her cut what was essentially a pipebomb with a British accent just gave me so much joy.

OH NO, YOU DIDN'T!
Photo from WWE.com
What made Paige’s heel turn work was the fact that it remained consistent with the recurring angle that she can’t work well with others. It was something she herself acknowledged when she feuded with both Alicia Fox and AJ Lee, and it was something the Divas division also acknowledged during the infancy of the #DivaRevolution. 

This heel turn works because she didn’t just target Charlotte. She also took shots at Becky Lynch, calling her the least relevant member of Team PCB. She said that Team B.A.D. was all flash and no substance, implied that the Bellas only got to where they are because of who they were in relationships with, called out Lana and Summer Rae being preoccupied with teleserye-like drama instead of actually wrestling, and even questioned Nattie’s employment status. Brilliant.

By calling out the Bellas, Lana, and Summer Rae , Paige was essentially slut-shaming, which is obviously wrong in the real world. But guess what. Paige turned heel, so as a heel, she’s supposed to be saying or doing things that we would normally frown upon in real life. Sure, AJ Lee did the same thing as a babyface when she cut her own pipebomb, but AJ’s alignment changed as much as Justin Gabriel did at the time.

Making Sense Out Of Nothing At All

Speaking of Charlotte, can someone explain why she’s still wrestling like the Miz? 

For two consecutive nights, she had her leg targeted so she supposedly couldn’t lock in the Figure Eight. And what does she do? Make a comeback, hit a spear… and win with the Figure Eight. There’s no psychology to it, and it’s unbelievably frustrating. Hell, her comeback on Brie Bella was barely a comeback. It was the friggin’ finish. What the fuck.

You know what else didn’t make much sense? Chris Jericho’s return.

Now that everyone knows that Jericho isn’t booked to reappear on WWE TV after his Night of Champions match, it looks like Creative dropped the ball on the possibility of a story with the mystery partner. While the story at the PPV did make sense, couldn’t there have been any follow-through at RAW following Jericho’s actions? Hell, there was no mention of Chris Jericho on RAW this week. It was as if he just came and went and that was that. And WWE wonders why dirtsheets exist.

Can this Orton be meth-fueled Randy Orton, too?
Photo from WWE.com
Having a returning Randy Orton save Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns looked like such a quick-fix stopgap solution to the problem that Ambrose and Reigns still need a third man. I ranted two weeks ago about Orton looking like a chump for not being saved by the Shield when he himself would come to their aid. I will acknowledge that it will make sense if his only rationale is to avenge his own beatdown. The enemy of my enemy is my friend. But I want to see Orton be pissed at Roman and Dean for not saving him when he needed them. 

Cesaro, You're Breaking My Heart

Smark Henry’s f├╝hrer, Ro Moran, has been comparing Cesaro to Daniel Bryan in recent weeks on the Smark Gilas-Pilipinas Podcast because of how popular he’s become as of late. It’s weird that the comparison has become even more apt as of this week. Cesaro is an immensely talented dude who can wrestle the hell out of any opponent. I was amazed at how he played the underdog role very well against Big Show, when just last year, he achieved what supposedly few men have done: toss Big Show out of a WWE ring and win the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. 

IT'S A TRAP, CLAUDIO!
Photo from WWE.com
We’re about a year and a half removed from that moment, and it felt jarring seeing Big Show just dominate Cesaro for most of their match. While I will never stop being entertained by Cesaro’s abilities, I wasn’t quite pleased with having Cesaro be the guy used to put Big Show over, just to establish that he’s a big, angry giant. The role Cesaro was in this week is similar to what Daniel Bryan had to do when he was lost in the midcard shuffle himself. And it’s annoying because we know Cesaro deserves better than this. It’s as if the Cesaro who took up John Cena’s U.S. Open Challenge is long gone at this point.

Scattered Thoughts

Here are some stray thoughts I have over the rest of the ongoing storylines as of this week’s RAW:

  • All the backstage rumors about WWE asking its talent to cut back on kicking out of finishers seem to be true, as evidenced by the match that John Cena and Seth Rollins had in the main event. They had a solid match, which I’d say was the match of the night, and deservedly so. I have previously said that seeing these two go at it over and over again will lead to viewer fatigue eventually. But I enjoyed what they put out just the same, especially since they were able to tell a story without resorting to a lot of false finishes. In fact, it was great for in-ring storytelling because it reminded us viewers that a finisher should actually finish a match, and not be a set-up to something else, unless we’re shooting for an epic classic.

  • It was great seeing Neville and the Lucha Dragons getting their win back against the Astral Alliance or the Cosmic Wasteland, or whatever the hell they’re being called now. But since both teams have already traded wins, it makes me wonder what the next chapter of the story is, and I mean it in a bad way. It’s as if this story’s reached a dead end, and if it has, can we just get something going for all six of these guys? They’re too talented to see just meandering around the undercard.

  • Kevin Owens being the champion who provokes a fight, then runs away as soon as he gets it is the perfect characterization of the bully that he is. It makes for a really hateable villain, especially when he runs around with the championship and asserts how good he is compared to the others around him. Having Ryback as his immediate challenger isn’t a problem right now, but they should add a new element to his character if they want this feud with Owens to go further. As it is, Ryback is too bland a babyface outside of his powerhouse gimmick, and his the Secret schtick doesn’t fly because I find it hard to believe that a big, gruff dude like him actually believes it. Maybe he just doesn’t do too good a job of acting like he lives it out in real life.

  • It was a relief to see that Paige giving Nattie a shoutout during her heel turn wasn’t just a coincidence. I’m glad they actually made a story out of it with Natalya facing Naomi. It achieved the dual purpose of having Nattie come back and wrestle, while also getting Team B.A.D. some screen time. I think it would have been good to see Nattie wrestle Paige, too, just so she could remind Paige that she’s just a young girl running her mouth at this point. But the bigger end game with Nattie getting beaten by Team B.A.D. may be to piss her off to the point that she ends up aligning with Paige, which doesn’t sound like a bad idea at all. Welcome back, Nattie!

  • Having RuRu interact with the New Day was a joy to watch because of the obvious disparity between those characters. Seeing Big E, Kofi, and Xavier Woods all try to make Rusev fit in with them, all while Rusev kept a straight face made me imagine how annoyed the Bulgarian Brute must have been. It may have been good to play up a bit of tension between the New Day and Rusev, though. Either it makes all characters even more heelish since none of them can get along. Or it can actually draw a bit of sympathy towards RuRu if the long-term plan is to finally turn him face.
*****

As a whole, it was a decent episode of
Monday Night RAW. They were on to something with the dual personalities of Kane, but I wish they had kept that angle going on for a few more weeks. The Paige heel turn, while expected, was necessary and the timing was just right. Seeing Nattie back in the mix was great, and there a lot of good wrestling throughout the episode. For that, this episode gets a B.


But what did you think about this week’s RAW? Are you happy to see Randy Orton aligning with Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose? Do you want to see Cesaro being used in better stories? Let us know and sound off in the comments section!


*****


Stan Sy (@_StanSyis the Editor at Large of Smark Henry, and is also a radio DJ, an events host, a freelance writer, and one of the hosts of the Smark Gilas-Pilipinas Podcast. 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.
 

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