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The Smark Henry RAW Report (12/7/15): The Emperor's New Show


Go-home shows are normally exciting affairs because they’re supposed to be the last stop right before a PPV. As audience members, we’re already conditioned to expect to be teased as much as possible so that we’ll be pumped once the PPV rolls around on Sunday. In order for that to happen, we’re supposed to get the appropriate cliffhangers or at least some proper story development to get ourselves invested into the major feuds/matches at the PPV.

But I’m not excited for Roman Reigns vs. Sheamus on Sunday. Not one bit. I’m open about my dislike of Roman Reigns, but I’m just as open-minded in admitting that he is one athletic and exciting performer. Look, it’s bad enough that everything about Roman Reigns’ singles babyface run seems so manufactured. It’s even worse that outside of Sheamus establishing the League of Nations, his feud with Roman Reigns hasn’t done enough for me to want to see him get his comeuppance.

To make matters worse, their first official one-on-one showdown is in a TLC match, a match type that was once reserved for the most bitter of feuds. It’s a shame that it’s been reduced to an annual offering every December, regardless of how the main story on the card has advanced up to that point. Let me digress for a minute and remind you that John Cena’s classic TLC match against Edge at Unforgiven 2006 in Montreal was the last meaningful TLC match for three reasons. It was: (1) over the championship which started the feud in the first place, (2) in Edge’s hometown, and (3) in a match that made Edge’s career, one in which Cena had never competed in previously. Those were all the makings of a TLC match to remember.

But ever since TLC became a PPV, has there even been a memorable TLC match other than the Shield’s debut match against Team Hell No and Ryback? Last year’s main event TLC match between Dean Ambrose and Bray Wyatt didn’t have the heat it needed because it couldn’t offer anything new after the Tables Match between John Cena and Seth Rollins, the Chairs Match between Ryback and Kane, and the show-stealing Ladder Match that Dolph Ziggler and Luke Harper had.

This week’s RAW added nothing new to the Roman Reigns and Sheamus story. There were no stakes raised and no new motivations for either man to give it their all in a TLC Match. Even the closing segment—in which Roman and Sheamus traded verbal barbs much longer than either of them should have been allowed to—fell so flat because it was just downright boring. I just wanted to see both of these guys beat each other up to make myself enjoy that segment, but even when they did start putting each other through barricades and tables, the fun didn’t last all that long.

The reason this feud falls flat is simple. Aside from Sheamus cashing in on a tired Roman Reigns, there wasn’t really much steam heading into this feud. Why should their one-on-one over the WWE World Heavyweight Championship be any different than Cena’s match with Rollins from earlier this year? Or Brock Lesnar’s match with Rollins?

Having the clusterfuck of clusterfucks to kick off this week’s RAW didn’t help matters either. Sure, there were markout moments like seeing the Wyatt Family stand toe-to-toe against the League of Nations and seeing Rhyno get demoted to the main roster. 



But the match itself was a mess and was too long to avoid being a bore. In the end, it contributed absolutely nothing to the overall stories of everyone involved. What’s worse is that everybody appeared again throughout the show as if the clusterfuck didn’t happen in the first place. Hell, they could have done without it.



The first 45 minutes of RAW were the equivalent of being mema. They held a long multi-man match for the sake of having one. I could say the same for Dolph Ziggler vs. Kevin Owens this week. They put on a hell of a match, one that I was surprised that they gave away on free TV, but there wasn’t really much of a reason behind it as KO was out all of last week with an illness. In fact, the only purpose it served was to tire Owens out for Ambrose’s eventual appearance to punk the IC champ out.



Note to WWE: When we ask that RAW be more like NXT, we mean quality matches borne out of logical storytelling. At this point, I’m way more excited for the finale of Survivor: Second Chance and NXT TakeOver: London in that order than I am for TLC. Thank God TLC's happening first.


Holy Character Development, Batman!

There are two characters whose arcs we’re slowly starting to see take a different form before our eyes—Neville and Charlotte. These two exist in completely independent stories, and yet, they seem to have the most development into their respective personas at the moment.

Since SmackDown! last week, the Miz has been trying to get Neville to work with him so that the former open doors for the latter in the world of entertainment and raise his profile. As shallow as this story seems, it’s actually not that bad. It plays off of Miz’s “Hollywood A-Lister” persona, which he’s perfected, and gives both guys something meaningful to do without having to bumrush them into title programs. It also allows us to see Neville as more than a flippy shit guy because he gets to either (a) stand his ground and prove he doesn’t need Miz or (b) explore how he could go places should he accept Miz’s offer. It’s a simple story, and simple isn’t always necessarily bad.

Tangentially, Charlotte’s character took a turn for the bitchy this week when she and Ric Flair guested on Miz TV. Building off of Charlotte using underhanded tactics to defeat Becky Lynch last week, Baby Flair seemed more arrogant this week. Yes, she had to temper it because she was still the nominal babyface in her feud against Paige, but don’t expect Charlotte to remain babyface for much longer. She’s bound for a heel turn and living out the worst of Naitch’s traits is a step in the right direction. I only wish they’d brought Becky Lynch out this week so she could figure in this story as a proper face character.



Side note: as irrelevant as Miz has been as a wrestler these days, Miz TV has become one of the underrated segments on RAW and SmackDown! because it’s actually been able to do its job of advancing storylines by stirring the pot without too much bullshit.


¡AdiĆ³s, Patria Adorada

It looks like we’re getting the end of MexAmerica now that Alberto Del Rio has thrown Zeb Colter to the curb. I didn’t think it would happen this soon, but I’m pretty happy about it because nobody could make sense out of that stupid nation. Plus, it allows ADR to represent a real country in Mexico when he’s part of the League of Nations. I’m glad whoever was ribbing El Patron backstage finally had some sense knocked into him.



Much like my complaints about the TLC Match, it doesn’t make much sense for Berty and Jack Swagger to be in a Chairs Match. What, just because they decided to hit each other with chairs this week, we should already give them a gimmick match this Sunday? Is it really that easy, WWE? Come on. I doubt we’ll even see Swagger in a prominent position again after this match. What a waste. At least the Tables Match between the ECW Originals and the Wyatt Family makes sense because the Wyatts attacked the Dudleyz first and the vets are trying to show the Wyatts that they won’t go down without a fight on their terms.


Quick Hitters
  • I have no idea what Creative’s real plans for Adam Rose are, but the Rosebush is growing on me. It reminds me of JoMo and Miz’s old webshow on WWE.com, the Dirt Sheet. Not a bad way to satirize TMZ.
  • Stardust is supposed to be crazy beyond control, hence his inability to recognize his former self. That being said, I don’t understand why he won’t just savagely attack Titus O’Neil for sneaking up on his cosmic set backstage. Hell, Titus defeated him on Main Event a couple of weeks back. That’s enough reason for him to assault Titus. And where the hell is Darren Young?
  • Seeing the New Day interact with everyone else on the roster just brings me so much joy. Also, am I the only one who thought it looked suggestive when they gave Team B.A.D. their dildo-looking unicorn horns?
  • And this: 


*****

WWE’s in an experimental stage right now, and I guess they’re finally trying to see how RAW can be more like NXT. Like I said above, less of the bullshit and more of the logical storytelling. Add in some solid wrestling that makes sense and proper time management across the five hours of programming between RAW and SmackDown! and you’ll get there. It’s much easier said than done, but I’d rather see actual effort than a half-assed attempt just to say they tried it. We got more of the latter this week, and that’s why RAW gets a D.

What did you think of this week’s RAW? Are you also bored with Roman vs. Sheamus? Are you glad that MexAmerica looks to be donesies? Do you think Charlotte’s turning bitch and do you like it? Sound off in the comments section!

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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