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The Smark Henry RAW Report (10/19/15): All Out Of Hype, So Lost Without It


You didn’t actually think Seth Rollins would follow through on that Shield reunion, did you?

In what was the biggest shock of the week in the world of wrestling, Seth Rollins teamed up with Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns in the main event of RAW against Bray Wyatt, Erick Rowan, and Braun Strowman.

There are a lot of things that seem weird in that last sentence, especially given the stories WWE has laid out in the last month. Let’s enumerate them, shall we?

1. How the hell did Seth team up with Roman and Dean? And how is this all okay?

WWE explained it by having Seth Rollins come out to interrupt Shawn Michaels’ promo to berate Shawn and say that he’s better than HBK. Then, later on, Seth takes on a second match—an added burden for the night—by being the partner Ambrose and Reigns need to face Wyatt, Rowan, and Strowman. And for what? To prove to HBK that Seth is better? 

I fail to see the point where teaming up with the guys he stabbed in the back last year is supposed to prove that Rollins is better than Shawn. HBK said it himself: he never sought to be the second coming of anyone. He just wanted to be the greatest wrestler ever. In fact, when he turned on Marty Jannetty, he never looked back and their respective careers diverged with as great a disparity as night and day.

To make matters worse for the champ, he’s being made to look like a whiny and pathetic loser because he claimed to be better than Shawn Michaels, and to not be affected by what HBK had to say. And yet his actions—agreeing to be Ambrose and Reigns’ partner—were done in the spirit of proving a point to Shawn Michaels. I’ll admit that by being hypocritical, Rollins looks like a true heel, but the way he’s been written in recent months undermines the sadistic, dangerous heel he was about a year ago when he threatened to break Edge’s neck. I miss that Seth Rollins. That Seth Rollins looked like the man. This Seth Rollins may have the championship, but he’s just a bitch with a belt.



2. We had a Shield reunion and nobody even bothered to promote it?!

WWE spends so much time promoting things that don’t even amount to anything in the long run. Whether it’s a Dudley Boyz title opportunity against the New Day that ends in DQ (again), a legend’s appearance, a Brock Lesnar squash match, or a Randy Orton appearance on SmackDown, and yet, they couldn’t be bothered to build up to a huge Shield reunion on RAW—in the main event, no less!

Granted, the Shield’s reunion wasn’t going to last because Seth was going to turn on Dean and Roman at some point. But that’s to be expected. That’s something everybody saw coming from a mile away. But the mere fact that for a few minutes, all three hounds would be standing side by side, one of the greatest modern factions, and they’re all active wrestlers… This should be a big deal.

3. Welcome back, Erick Rowan! But where’s Luke Harper? And where’s Randy Orton?

So now, Erick Rowan’s back, and he returned with little to no fanfare. He just suddenly showed up alongside Bray Wyatt and Braun Strowman, and we’re all supposed to just accept that he’s back as if he’d never left. Hell, the last time we saw him, he had just teamed up with Luke Harper again, and at the time, Harper hadn’t reconnected with Bray Wyatt yet. Remember, Harper rejoined Wyatt at Battleground last July, about a month after Rowan was sidelined with an injury. So what’s the kayfabe explanation for Rowan reuniting with the Wyatts? Didn’t he want “freedom” when he broke away from them late last year?

Well, hello, Erick Rowan.
Now, let’s talk about Luke Harper and his mysterious disappearance this week. We reported on yesterday’s Grapevine that his absence was due to personal reasons, which is a relief, considering that the fuhrer and I speculated that Harper could actually be catching heat for this Instagram photo that Jericho posted. Really quickly without harping on the same points we did on this week’s SGP Podcast, if the reason behind Harper’s absence is that he’s taking heat for the photo that Jericho posted, then that’s unfair. It would reek of the inherent myopia we’ve become used to from WWE, especially with how they treat their talent. (See: Del Rio, Alberto)

Let's also forget that Luke Harper's wearing a towel Val Venis style.
But if it really is an absence due to personal reasons, then let me just say that my thoughts go out to the man behind the Luke Harper character. I hope nothing too wrong has happened, and I look forward to seeing him in the ring again as soon as possible. More importantly, when Harper returns, the Wyatt Family will be at its best and most terrifying. Bray Wyatt’s basically got a Survivor Series team made up of surly, hirsute behemoths!

As for Randy Orton, his shoulder injury was a curveball that ended up nixing his tag team match alongside Ambrose against Harper and Strowman. What a letdown because I was actually looking forward to the first kickoff match that would actually mean something in the greater scheme of things. After all, that should have been the impetus for an impending turn for either Ambrose or Orton. Now that Orton’s sidelined, the tension that Creative had been building between him and Ambrose will have dissipated. The only good thing is, they can easily explain the injury in kayfabe as something being caused by a Wyatt Family attack backstage. Instant heat for the Wyatts right there.

---

It’s crazy how all of this happened in just one episode, and on the go-home show before a PPV, no less. So many wrinkles were added, and save for the Orton injury, none of it really made sense in the storyline, unless you took a look at things happening in real life for an explanation. And therein lies the problem. When you read a story, you expect for it to make sense based on whatever’s given in the text. Rarely does a text ever require its reader to step outside of it to draw sense and order out of what’s written. But wrestling is a tricky text in that regard, because in this crazy business, we as fans have no choice but to actually go down that road: to seek answers from real-life events because what’s presented to us is just too illogical. 

As viewers and consumers, we’re supposed to be able to demand better storytelling, one that doesn’t require us to speculate on which wrestler’s got heat backstage, or what factors management is worrying about behind the scenes leading to certain stories being told on-screen. After all, we already put in enough of our time and effort into watching a three-hour program. The least WWE can do is to make it worth our while. 

I’ll be the first to admit that RAW has become more of a chore than an act of passion these days, and much of it has to do with the effort I have to put into drawing logic from the silliness I’m being fed. If you find yourself needing to just space out or even take a nap after watching RAW, I really can’t blame you. Nakakapagod na talaga eh. Is there a way for us to voice our displeasure? Sure, we can bitch all we want on Twitter. And I can podcast and write as much as I want. But in the end, I’m not the decision-maker. Change has gotta start somewhere, and that somewhere is at the top. And unfortunately for all of us, we shall not overcome someday soon.

So before I run out of hope and kick my fandom out of my system altogether, let’s run down some quick points from the rest of this week’s storylines:

Yep, looks like a boring guy to me.
  • I can’t wait to find out who Kevin Owens’ next challenger is. At this point, there aren’t a lot of upper midcard babyfaces to choose from because Ziggler’s finding it hard to move on from Rusev somehow, Cesaro is currently teaming up with Neville, and Ambrose may have a certain Open Challenge to answer (more on this later). But guess what, Roman Reigns will have wrapped up his months-long feud with Bray Wyatt after Hell In A Cell. As much as I dislike Roman Reigns, I wouldn’t mind seeing him as the Intercontinental Champion sometime after the Royal Rumble. If the plan is to build this guy up as the next big singles star, hotshotting him to the world title is not going to do him favors. But trying him out for a midcard singles title run might just be what makes his critics eventually believe in him.

Ryback also needs to move on from this repugnant pink and white singlet.
  • Speaking of Ambrose, now that he’s idle heading into Hell In A Cell, he could very well be the guy who answers John Cena’s U.S. Open Challenge. Despite Ziggler’s excellent performance as Cena’s challenger the other week, he’s found himself in a throwaway kickoff match alongside Team No First Name as they take on the Kings of the Ring and the guy with the engagement ring. We all know Jearn is about to take some time off, so Ambrose could be the most logical guy to come out and answer Cena’s challenge. And when he does, I’d love to see Ambrose win the United States Championship again and have a better run as the champ this time around.

  • By now, you’d have figured out that I’m calling for all three Shield alumni to be holding the singles titles in WWE. It doesn’t have to happen at Survivor Series. Hell, they don’t have to be holding the titles at WrestleMania Star. But it would be extremely froot if they did. I’d love for this to happen sometime before or after the Royal Rumble, just to lead in to a WrestleMania feud and match between Rollins, Reigns, and Ambrose. I’m salivating over this already.


  • The Kings of the Ring may have just found their stride as a tag team of pure force and bareknuckle power. I love their newfound calling card, where the legal man distracts the referee while his partner hits his finisher on the legal opponent. Both Barrett and Sheamus have finishers that you can hit from anywhere in the arena, which makes them such a threat to any tag team because they can eke out a win from outta nowhere. I need to see these guys contend for the Tag Team Championships stat!

  • The Undertaker returned on-screen this week to a babyface reaction in his home state, where he explained his actions since Battleground by saying that when a man loses everything, he fights with nothing to lose. He’s basically painted himself as a man so desperate that he’d be willing to do anything to beat his adversary. That would have actually been brilliant storytelling, had the explanation come fresh off either Battleground or SummerSlam. But at this point, this feud has stretched on for so long, with appearances between both Lesnar and Taker being few and far between that it’s become difficult to care about this story. To make matters worse, Lesnar and Heyman teasing Taker to a fight, and then backing away because Paul E. says that they should save the fight for the Cell was such a heel thing to do. In effect, what initially came off as excellent storytelling using shades of gray on Taker and Lesnar had become nullified in one fell swoop. Great going, Creative.


  • I said this last week, so I’ll just keep it to one simple question this week: Where does Charlotte go from Hell In A Cell? There is literally nothing going her way after she disposes of Nikki Bella because everyone else has their own thing going on.

  • Paige vs. Nattie is getting even more interesting, especially after Nattie got taken out on SmackDown. Having Renee Young play the role of journalist who asks loaded questions was a great call because now, you get even more interaction between your backstage interviewer and the wrestler. Paige and Renee played off each other well this week, with Renee representing those who question Paige’s motives, and Paige just heeling it up by being on the defensive non-stop. This feud’s getting a slow burn, but I like it because Paige is getting everyone to turn on her again, which is consistent with her character’s inability to play well with others.


  • On a related note, I’d be fine with Naomi and Tamina eventually turning on Sasha Banks. WWE’s already acknowledged her insane popularity among the WWE Universe. They might as well make something out of it. Have Sasha inadvertently cost Team B.A.D. a match against Team Bella and use it as an excuse for Naomi and Tamina to turn on Sasha. Instant feud. It’s enough reason for Naomi to heel it up even more, something which she’s become good at since turning heel, plus, it allows the WWE Universe to fully get behind the Boss.

  • I really don’t want the Dudley Boyz to win the Tag Team Championship from the New Day. It just doesn’t feel right, especially with all this momentum the New Day has built since they regained the penny belts. But my problem moving forward is, I don’t know how the Dudleyz will remain relevant other than their status as a legendary team. That being said, they could probably participate in a multi-team tournament to crown the new #1 Contenders for the Tag Team Championships or something. Anything that doesn’t involve them winning the titles from the New Day or being Cena’s resbak by default.

  • Speaking of Cena, am I the only who’s tired of seeing him constantly tag with whichever babyface is underman in a feud against a team of heels? There’s a reason the U.S. Open Challenge storyline was such a hit, WWE. It wasn’t stale.


*****


This week’s RAW was incredibly tiring, more tiring than the previous weeks. It isn’t just because this was the first episode of RAW I’ve caught live in more than a couple of months. The logical loopholes in many of the major storylines really just sapped my energy more than it should have. For a show to force its viewers to do a lot of connecting the dots on their own is an egregious bit of mishandling on the part of its writers. And for that, this week’s episode gets a D.


What did you think of this week’s RAW? Did you think it made sense for Rollins to reunite with Ambrose and Reigns for one night only? Do you think Dean Ambrose is answering John Cena’s Open Challenge at Hell In A Cell? What did you think of Luke Harper’s absence and Erick Rowan’s return? Hit us up in the comments section below and have at it!

*****

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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