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The Smark Henry RAW Report (9/7/15): AtRAWcious


I don’t understand what the Authority hopes to achieve in the long run.

Usually, the villainous stable has an endgame that is simple to understand. If it’s not “stay in power,” it’s “keep the championship at home.” But with the Authority, they’re trying to achieve two things that don’t seem aligned with how they’re supposed to be behaving.

They initially wanted to keep the championship at home, which is why they anointed Seth Rollins as their golden boy, and protected him with Kane and J&J Security. Now that Kane and J&J are gone and Seth is trying to establish his place as “the Man,” the Authority wants to test his mettle.

That would work in a scenario where the champion is an underdog babyface who has to take on all comers. That would work in a scenario where the authority figures’ endgame is to bring the championships back to their stable under the guise of making the champion prove himself under pressure. That would work if your authority figures are babyfaces trying to give the heel champion his comeuppance.

But as John Cena pointed out last week, Rollins fails to realize that he’s just the “flavor of the month”, the same way Randy Orton was last year. Cena was right when he said that if the Authority really had Rollins’ back, then they wouldn’t allow Rollins to defend both his titles at Night of Champions. And yet, they did. So tell me what they want, what they really, really want.

The Authority has to make up its damn mind. Do they want to be babyfaces or do they want to be heels? After all, Trips and Steph are representative of the next generation of leadership in the WWE. Their work outside of their performance as the Authority is giving fans a reason to cheer for them, especially when Trips basks in the glory of NXT, which is generally loved by the WWE Universe. 

Their characters and on-screen personas should be consistent. The Triple H I see on NXT should be no different than the Triple H I see on RAW. The difference should only manifest itself when Trips is doing PR for mainstream media or representing the company under his real-life COO duties, because he’s doing that as Paul Levesque, and not as Triple H.

Yes, kayfabe is dead in 2015, but it’s getting harder and harder to suspend one’s disbelief when the company’s top authority figure routinely breaks the fourth wall by breaking character at his convenience. More importantly, all this switching makes storytelling so confusing. This is why Los Matadores are so hard to get behind.

When Triple H puts Seth Rollins in two matches in one night, he’s giving fans a reason to cheer for himself because they hate Rollins. He’s not doing Rollins, who is supposed to be his successor, any favors. Is he trying to make Rollins prove his worthiness? Why only now that Rollins is already double champion? When Steph slyly uses Rollins’ demands against him, what is she hoping to achieve? Isn’t it in her best interests to keep Rollins protected against Sting, who was the reason she and Trips were briefly out of power last year?

The story appears to work because crowds react to Rollins and the Authority. But logically, it fails to make sense, which is why somebody ultimately has to turn babyface. The Authority could turn face since they’re the ones delivering Seth’s comeuppance anyway. Or maybe Rollins should turn face, after all, what he’s going through is the type of shit that authority figures put underdog champions through. In fact, this story would be better off with Daniel Bryan, Sami Zayn, or even Cesaro in that role instead of Rollins.

Speaking of Seth Rollins, his interactions with Sting were pretty entertaining. For all of the hate I’ve got towards Rollins’ story with the Authority, the champ made up for it by being the shallow, vain, egotistical heel we all love to hate. If there’s anything that made sense in Rollins’ universe, it’s the fact that he’s just obsessed with getting his statue back that he fails to see that the Authority is actually setting him up to fail. Clearly, Rollins has excelled at portraying a man so consumed by hubris, and this is why it isn’t time to pull the trigger on a Seth Rollins babyface run yet.

#ScumbagShield

Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns have been taking pages out of John Cena’s playbook.

But before I get to that, let me mention quickly that Creative dropped the ball on Cosmic Wasteland so fast I didn’t even get to properly process that they were actually a stable. First, they formed an alliance on SmackDown! by attacking Neville. And then, they took on Neville and the Lucha Dragons on Superstars, where they lost. The Ascension then appears on RAW to get squashed by Ambrose and Reigns while Stardust is nowhere to be found. What the fuck.


Can the Ascension out-jabroni Los Matadores?
Photo from WWE.com
If they were trying to build up the Cosmic Wasteland, couldn’t they have gotten a win or two first? And is the main roster experiencing a dearth of jobbers that they couldn’t find anyone else to feed to Roman and Dean? What happened to Heath Slater? Couldn’t they have hired JTG for one night only?

Anyway, Reigns and Ambrose dispatch of the Ascension in quick fashion, and then are seen backstage talking to Randy Orton later in the show. This should supposedly plant ideas in our heads that their third man, which WWE has been hinting about since the weekend, could very well be Randy Orton.

Orton ends up having another match with Sheamus that is just a chore to sit through because this has gone on and on and on and on and on and—so Orton finally beats Sheamus, and the Wyatt Family appear to beat him up. ...and Dean and Roman couldn’t even be bothered to save Orton?

You could argue that as a character, Randy Orton has never played well with others. If he’s not likely to come out to help anyone in need, why should everyone else come out to save him? Fine, but Dean and Roman were seen talking to him in the back. The announcers themselves openly wondered if Randy Orton was their third man. Wrestling logic would tell you that they would already have an agreement in place. If Dean and Roman never really brought Randy in as their third man, then it would look like they just set Randy up so that the two of them could take a break from a Wyatt beatdown. Even if Orton had no intentions to join Ambrose and Reigns, the Wyatts’ attack gave Orton a reason to join the Shield.

Whether Creative realizes it or not, they just wrote the Shield 2.0 the same way they write for John Cena when he’s got allies. The only difference between #ScumbagCena and the Shield 2.0 is that Randy has never saved the Shield before because he never had an obligation to. They were never allies. Nonetheless, this week’s RAW just made Dean and Roman look like dicks for seemingly setting Randy up.


You just got got, Randy.
Photo from WWE.com
How hard would it have been to have Dean and Roman come out to attack the Wyatts, even if Randy wasn’t their third man? Dean and Roman aren’t the smartest tools in the box anyway, so they shouldn’t mind taking on three guys when there are only two of them. Besides, their targets were right there in the open and vulnerable to a sneak attack. Instead, they could very well have made an enemy out of Randy Orton, and deservedly so. Orton had no stake in this feud, and he got dragged in even if he didn’t want to in the first place.

The Return of the Comeback

Before I rail on the rest of this week’s RAW, let me talk about something I genuinely loved: Edge & Christian returning to RAW. Part of me still can’t believe that Christian’s retired for good and that of the six guys who popularized the TLC matches, Edge & Christian were the first to hang up their boots.

I appreciated that they first interacted with Rollins, who was the last character they interacted with during that brief period when the Authority was dissolved. In recent years, Creative has been more inclined to reference past events in the interest of continuity. And while maintaining continuity was an easy move to make this backstage segment more interesting, it was definitely the right move.


It was also awesome seeing them interact with the New Day, particularly when they egged the New Day on with the kazoo. Watching Big E try to eat a kazoo was especially hilarious. I mean, the man tried to fucking eat a kazoo. And then having the Dudley Boyz enter the scene to punk the New Day out was just icing on the cake. It got extra nostalgic since those are four of the wrestlers who innovated a match type and revitalized the tag team division some fifteen years ago.

I wonder how much fun this all would have been had this happened on a talk show segment, perhaps a one-night-only edition of the Cutting Edge or even the Peep Show. Or both.

One last thing on the New Day, their schtick as the annoyingly positive guys in the locker room is arguably the best thing going on in wrestling right now. I want to see them interact with more heels so that they establish themselves as so unlikable and obnoxious that not even the other heels would want to be with them.


And yet, we'll all be cheering for this jabroni and his twin next week. Ole!
Photo from WWE.com
As for the tag team division as a whole, the people writing Los Matadores should just fucking decide if (1) the matadors are supposed to be faces or heels and (2) if El Torito will ever leave them. Time and time again, Los Matadores are turned face or heel depending on who they’re facing, which doesn’t open the door for any character development. In fact, I’d say that they’re the least developed characters on the main roster, considering they’ve been that way since 2013. Plus, for all of the shit they put Torito through, they should definitely be heels, and Torito should think about turning on them or leaving them altogether. I don’t understand why he continues to hang out with these two jabronis.

At Least You Tried

I woke up to Paige vs. Sasha Banks, and I was actually okay with the idea of them facing off on RAW, since their match last week didn’t really have a definitive finish as a result of Paige being unable to beat the clock. Plus, Paige could very well have some beef with Sasha (and the rest of Team BAD) for getting in her way when she tried to vie for number one contender status.

The match wasn’t anything special, and for the most part, the crowd wasn’t that into it. But I didn’t think that the match was horrible. I was actually okay with Sasha grabbing Paige’s hair extensions and using it to pin Paige after a distraction from Naomi and Tamina. At least Team BAD isn’t in tweener status anymore, plus they just established a personal feud with at least one of the girls from PCB in Paige.

As for Team Bella and their Bellatron, I have to hand it to whoever’s writing their schtick, because it’s the one thing that genuinely pisses me off. And that’s a good thing because that means that their gimmick’s working me and working me well. The Bellatron and Nikki bragging about the length of her title reign is just a farce, mostly because they’re bragging about Nikki’s title reign, when she hasn’t defended her championship in two months. It’s one thing to heel it up and brag about a lengthy title run that’s been backed up by defenses. But when your champion isn’t even booked to defend her title, then, well, that’s how you give Nikki Bella proper heat.


Don't expect Nikki to tap out next week.
Photo from WWE.com
This is why I’m actually cool with Charlotte going out of her way to request for her title match by next week. What makes this wrinkle questionable is the fact that the Authority was so quick to grant Charlotte her request. Again, this goes back to the Authority doing face things when they’re supposed to be heels. And even if I’m alright with Charlotte getting her title match next week, what did she do to earn the right to demand her title match whenever she wants? Sure, she earned her title shot for Night of Champions. But what power did Charlotte suddenly have to demand that the title match happen on an episode of RAW? At the end of the day, it’s just Creative weaseling their way out of a corner they wrote themselves in, which is a crying shame, lobster head.

Abangan ang Susunod na Kabanata

RuRu. What the fuck.

I can’t believe Summer Rae actually called Rusev “Ru” or “RuRu”. Then again, you know what, it’s actually hilarious seeing a big brute of a heel being called by such a pabebe nickname by his significant other. It’s like seeing your school bully being shown affection by his mother and he shies away out of embarrassment. Maybe Rusev should have shown a bit of sheepishness when Summer called him that this week.



Rusev actually made a great point on the mic this week when he called Dolph out for being on RAW to respond to the cheating allegations when Lana was at home recuperating from an injury. I also didn’t like how Dolph had to keep bragging about his sexual prowess in an effort to make Rusev feel like less of a man. Whether or not Lana was there, Dolph showing off his virility still reduces Lana to nothing more than a sex object, and that doesn’t do Dolph any favors as the babyface.

Speaking of being the babyface, Dolph should do a better job of playing the victim. I mean, we all know that he didn’t make a move on 2015 Summer Rae. Hell, I wouldn’t make a move on her even if she presented herself to me. But he could at least try to insist on his innocence. Make it a bit harder for Rusev and Summer Rae to incriminate you, why don’t you?

Intercontinental Idiocy

Kevin Owens teased the beginnings of a feud with Ryback on SmackDown! and followed through on RAW this week, as he tried to intimidate the Intercontinental Champion backstage. I like this direction for Kevin Owens because it quells my fear of KO getting lost in the shuffle. Plus, if there’s anyone I want to see competing for the Intercontinental Championship, it would be Kevin Owens. I’m pretty sure he can get a great match out of Ryback, and that they can make it an entertaining feud.

The question is where this leaves Owens and Ryback’s former opponents: Cesaro, the Miz, and the Big Show. And that’s where it just became idiotic.

Cesaro and the Miz had a match borne out of Cesaro spurning Miz’s invitation to team up at the RAW pre-show. Big Show came out mid-match to attack Miz, leading the latter to run away from the arena, ending the match in what I understood as a double countout, since Cesaro himself was outside the ring.

What happened next just annoyed the fuck out of me. Big Show, who appeared to have turned face, hit Cesaro with the KO Punch, establishing himself as a tweener, at best, or a second heel. And we look headed for a three-way feud between Show, Miz, and Cesaro, who was supposed to just be an “innocent bystander” in this story. Wonderful.

What’s worse is Cesaro continues to go without wins, seemingly derailed from what should have been a good singles run that the John Cena rub was supposed to spark. Instead, all the hype about the “Cesaro Section” is becoming a joke for a guy who was only beginning to get his momentum going on his own. While there could be a great redemption story waiting for a guy like Cesaro who keeps losing, we know from experience how fickle Creative has been in handling the Swiss Superman.

*****

As a whole, this week’s episode of RAW was pretty tough to sit through. There were some matches that would have been great had they been hyped like the champion versus champion match between Rollins and Ryback. But all of the problems in storytelling, mostly resulting in a lack of foresight and big picture thinking, made this episode a chore to finish. This week’s grade: C-.

What did you think of this week’s RAW? Should the Authority finally turn face? Or should Rollins eventually turn face? Was the E&C segment enough to make you smile for just a bit this week? Sound off and let us know 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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