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The Smark Henry RAW Report (11/23/15): Welcome to the European Union


By the end of this year’s Survivor Series PPV, we found out that the true survivors are those who are still watching WWE by RAW. That wasn’t some proclamation made by a keyboard warrior left with no other way to express dissatisfaction with WWE. That’s a statement that can be backed up by a number. 

2.16.

That’s the rating for this week’s RAW, marking an all-time low in ratings. Just for the sake of reference, this week’s RAW rating is within the range that SmackDown! used to rate… in its early-to-mid-2000s glory days. That’s not a good thing.

All of this isn’t supposed to put the blame on one Irish WWE World Heavyweight Champion. His current reign is merely a symptom of a larger disease, one that tolerates fickle decisions and last-minute changes and allows it to become the norm. Sadly, there’s really nothing you can do when the disease is terminal, and that’s basically what we’ve got when the fate of the largest wrestling company in the world rests on the caprices of an out-of-touch 7o-year-old. But you, you already know that.

This brings us back to Sheamus, who celebrated his new WWE World Heavyweight Championship reign on RAW this week, much to the chagrin of many an Internet fan because whether he’s been a babyface or a heel, Sheamus just hasn’t found a way to be compelling. But much like the Network, I’m trying to be open-minded, so I listened to his orientation at the top of this week’s RAW, and seeing him align with Stephanie McMahon and Triple H was a step in the right direction.


You guys can feud until TLC, but please don't keep feuding until 'Mania.
Having Roman Reigns come in and spoil the party was an expected move, but what I didn’t immediately anticipate was the return of Rusev, who quickly reunited with Sheamus. What made me really happy by the end of this week’s RAW was King Barrett’s sneak attack on Roman Reigns, which further established the Eurotrash Lads as the new Authority dogs. 

I think this is perfect for all the players involved. Now that both Seth Rollins and Kane are gone, the Authority has had nobody other than Trips and Steph, so it makes perfect sense to anoint the next heel champ as their new golden boy. It also helps everybody that Sheamus was in a tag team with King Barrett and in a “loose alliance” with Rusev. 

It keeps both Barrett and Rusev relevant and even lets them sniff the main event, something they’ll be unable to do if Sheamus hadn’t successfully cashed in his Money in the Bank contract. Plus, it gives Trips and Steph more competent henchmen than J&J Security. Hell, I’ll be happy with Barrett and Rusev being the Authority’s official bets in the tag team division. If there was a time to finally work on giving the Eurotrash Lads something relevant to do for people to invest in them, this is it.

Now, I can’t blame people for wanting to leave their WWE fandoms behind after the craptastic Survivor Series we had. But I’m going to be the one to ask that we all hold out a little bit of hope that they can make this Sheamus experiment work. I’m actually excited to see more of Barrett and Rusev in the spots that used to go to Kane, Big Show, and J&J Security. 


It's about damn time the King of the Ring became relevant.
Yes, we’ve sunk to a new low in terms of our satisfaction with WWE TV. But this is what happens when WWE fails to establish newer and younger stars who should be ready to replace a top star when they need it. Sheamus may not be that young star because a lot of fans have already given up on him. And that may very well be fair. But guys like Barrett and Rusev haven’t had this opportunity yet, and as a huge fan of both those guys, I’d like to see the Eurothority succeed. For that, I’m willing to keep surviving as a WWE fan just so I can see what happens next. Here’s to hoping WWE eventually rewards our faith.

Since most, if not all, of WWE’s storylines were pretty much halted as a result of Seth Rollins vacating his WWE World Heavyweight Championship and the subsequent tournament to crown a new champion, Survivor Series basically served as a reboot for the rest of the WWE. So let’s go through the storylines we’ve got as of this week’s RAW.

A Dud Of A Feud

It looks like we’re getting a new feud on our hands as the Wyatt Family has set their sights on the Dudley Boyz. This bothers me very much because for two guys who are supposedly the consummate professionals of the WWE, Undertaker and Kane couldn’t even be bothered to put the Wyatt Family over. Sure, it was Taker’s 25th anniversary and Vince hardly lets the Wyatts go over to begin with. But I just think the Wyatts really needed this more, and that’s why they should have gone over.

Look, it’s becoming harder and harder to take these guys seriously as threats when they can’t even win a major feud against a major player in the company. Are they seriously going to be stuck in this purgatory where they can beat the Chris Jerichos and the Dudley Boyz, but they can never defeat the John Cenas and the Undertakers?


Braun Strowman's hugging Bubba Ray to say thanks for doing the job.
Needless to say, the Dudleyz will eventually put the Wyatts over when this rivalry is in the books. They’ll get their revenge over what the Wyatts did to them on RAW, but this is just a detour for everyone concerned. I’m just worried that the Dudley Boyz will get bored now that they’re no longer in the hunt for the Tag Team Championships, or anywhere near the top of the card.

We Only Got Four Minutes To Save the World

Just half a year ago, these two put on a classic match at NXT TakeOver: Unstoppable, one that put both these women on the map and made believers out of the WWE Universe. It was a shame to see them get a measly four-minute match this week, which barely allowed them to tell a passable story.


'Cause wheeeen I see the bullshit, I know I'm not the only one.
The only good thing I got from this was that it could start a feud between Becky Lynch and Team B.A.D. But there are just too many negatives out there for me not to get my hopes up. For one, the tension they supposedly built up a couple of weeks ago between Team B.A.D. over who their true leader was is now gone. They’re all on the same page again. Who’s to say this Becky vs. Team B.A.D. storyline even makes it to SmackDown!? These ladies deserve so much better than this.

It’s a shame that their glory days at NXT seem so far gone that even when they try to recreate the same magic on the main roster, it seems impossible. Apparently, they can imitate you, but they can’t duplicate you.

#NewDay1stAnniversary

Happy first anniversary, New Day!

You have to hand it to these three guys for coming up with an idea, committing to it, and once they got an opportunity, they took the ball and ran all the way with it. These guys continuously find a way to keep annoying the audience while entertaining them at the same time. That’s a rare quality, and it proves just why they are a national treasure in the world of wrestling right now.


Glorious. Just glorious.
I love how they were riding broomstick unicorns on the way to the ring while mocking country music because they were in Nashville, TN. Out of all three of them, Kofi Kingston was my favorite this week. First, his hair was braided to look like the horn of a unicorn. And then, midway through his promo, he supposedly breaks character by telling Nashville, “This is me saying this, not my character: country music sucks!” Way to put your big boy pants on, Kofi! 

Was it the right move? No question. You have to do what you have to do to draw heat in the Reality Era. Plus, Kofi could very well have been working all of us with what he said. We wouldn’t know for sure until he comes clean on a podcast or something. Not that it’s controversial. It’s not like he disrespected somebody’s dead relative/friend. 


Away o gulo?! Apparently, the New Day picked both.
Oh, and speaking of country music, Ryback’s destruction of Heath Slater (and his one-man-band representation of country music altogether) should give you an idea about who really hates country music.

Seeing both the Usos and the Lucha Dragons get a bit of mic time was great, too, if only to give both teams a little bit of practice. Neither team can hold their own against the New Day in a promo battle just yet, but allowing them to make their mistakes now so that they can grow and improve is a step in the right direction. It’s pretty much like the Knicks allowing Kristaps Porzingis to play and make his mistakes now because you see his potential to be a PorzinGod in the future.

All that being said, the Lucha Dragons seemed like pushovers when Sin Cara allowed the Usos to come out and demand a Tag Team Championship opportunity as well. I thought Kalisto and Sin Cara were the #1 Contenders in the first place? Didn’t they earn that after winning that Four Corners Tag Team Match on SmackDown! a few weeks ago? I know this because it was actually mentioned by the commentary team. This really confuses me, so I hope they either settle this, start a tournament to determine rankings, or just put all three teams in a triple threat rivalry. That last scenario looks like the most realistic one given WWE Creative logic. Not that I condone this lunacy, but at the very least, we’re getting a decent triple threat match over the tag team titles at TLC.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Mark Henry and Neville told a nice little story on RAW this week through their match. I initially thought they would turn Mizark heel by default given his huge size and power advantage over Neville. It was the easy move, but it impressed me that they kept Mark Henry babyface by making him maintain his composure throughout the match. I also liked Mizark’s body language, particularly the anger he felt towards himself when he had to beel Neville halfway across the ring, as if he didn’t want to be forced to do that. 


Seeing Neville eventually make his comeback, punctuated with the Red Arrow for the victory, led to a nice celebration for the Man That Gravity Forgot. After that, when a frustrated Mark Henry offered a handshake to Neville, I still thought a heel turn would happen. I’m glad that wasn’t the case as Mark Henry exclaimed, “I respect you!” to the British upstart. I hope this leads to an alliance or even a tag team for both of them since Neville’s erstwhile partner, Cesaro, is now out until after WrestleMania Star with a shoulder injury.

Same Love

I honestly do not think that either Alberto Del Rio or Zeb Colter understand what the fuck MexAmerica is supposed to be all about. On-screen, they just keep speaking up against “hatred” and “haters,” and chastising everyone for being divisive, and they get heat for it. It’s kind of funny how Creative has unwittingly turned the face-heel dynamic on its head (again) by making fans boo two guys who inherently just want to strip away the fear because underneath, it’s all the same love.



Fortunately for white America, Jack Swagglemore has resurfaced and found a way to (slightly) be relevant again. We’ve seen this feud before, and we’ve seen this behavior from Swagger before, as well, when he rose up to defend the U.S. of A. against Rusev last year. But what struck me was when Swagger asked Zeb if he remembered the words he used to say. And then he proceeded to say the exact words Zeb used to say to get the crowd to yell “We the people,” MexAmerica and right-wing politics aside, the story of seeing a young buck go after his former mentor and remind him of what they used to share actually has some sentimental value. There’s a decent story there. This MexAmerica bullshit just gets in the way.

Where's Teddy?

This week’s episode of RAW also felt like a Teddy Long-era episode of SmackDown! because of the tag team matches featuring random babyfaces going up against random heels.

Let’s start with the 6-man tag match between Goldust and the Prime Time Players against the Cosmic Wasteland. Goldust has officially taken Cesaro’s spot on the card due to the latter’s injury. At least it made some sense to see Goldie in here since he still has some unresolved issues with Stardust. I hope that with the void that Cesaro left behind, the Rhodes brothers can pick up where they left off earlier this year and have a meaningful feud until at least the Royal Rumble. For as long as both these guys are healthy at this time of the year, I will keep holding out hope that I’ll eventually get my dream scenario where they have their own one-on-one WrestleMania match.


We're happy to see you back, too, Goldie.
As for the second tag match featuring Dean Ambrose and Dolph Ziggler against Kevin Owens and Tyler Breeze, I felt that this match was just a halfhearted way to inject some life into the Ziggler-Breeze feud, while supposedly igniting more tension between Ambrose and Owens. I get that Ziggler’s supposed to put Tyler over, but they’ve got to start making their interactions mean more than just two guys who flat-out dislike each other. Breezy already got a win at Survivor Series, but he needs to keep rubbing in Dolph’s face that Prince Pretty is what Dolph was several years ago. He should start calling Dolph both an uggo and a hasbeen to get under his skin, instead of flaunting his bullshit VIP section and his valet who isn’t even worth chasing around in the first place.



Meanwhile, this week’s SmackDown! spoilers point towards Deano and KO feuding over the Intercontinental Championship at TLC. That can only be a good thing as both men have shown us—as recently as this past Sunday—that they can put on an exciting match together. I’d like to see them interact more backstage or on the mic as they put some meat into their story. That’s one matchup I’m already looking forward to watch as it develops!

Anak, Ba't Ka Nagkaganyan?

Paige got a rematch against Charlotte this week, and I didn’t mind the double countout finish at all, as both ladies were able to show that they were willing to get brutal to teach the other a lesson. A double countout also keeps both ladies looking strong, especially after Paige lost cleanly to Charlotte at Survivor Series.

My issue was with Paige clearing the announce table, and then setting Charlotte up there… for a PTO. What the actual fuck. What the hell is the difference between applying that hold on Charlotte in the ring and applying that hold on top of the announce table? It doesn’t hurt Charlotte more. It’s just plain silly. If Paige was going to be the crazy, aggressive bitch, she might as well have just hit the RamPaige on Charlotte while they were on top of the table. That would have been an OMG! moment!


Does the table have a damage multiplier now?
You have to hand it to Charlotte, though. Her acting game is improving slowly. Her facial expressions this week were enough to let us see just how much pain she was going through at the hands of her opponent. 

*****

You know how there are days that feel like so much has happened, and at the same time, nothing consequential really took place? That’s kind of how this week’s RAW felt. Parang ang daming nangyari, pero wala naman talaga. And that’s why it deserves a C+. And with that, I’ll C U next Tuesday when another episode of RAW airs live from the U.S.!

What did you think about this week’s RAW? Do you like King Barrett and Rusev as Sheamus’ resbak? What do you think of the Wyatt Family and the Dudley Boyz feuding? And where the hell did Undertaker and Kane retreat off to now? Sound off in the comments section below!

Photos from WWE.

*****

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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