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The Smark Henry RAW Report (3/22/16): Too Little, Too Late


Nope, despite what the header image above tells you, this is actually your boy Ro taking over while Stan traipses around Londontown this Holy Week.

All right, we're two weeks away from WrestleMania, but you don't need me to tell you that it feels like there's been something missing. Something something something Roman Reigns doesn't look good, something something something we don't know why Undertaker is willing to do Vince McMahon's will, something something something Dean Ambrose vs. Brock Lesnar is going to be the best match on the show, something something something Chris Jericho vs. AJ Styles IV, something something something undercard, midcard championships, Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal.

The good news is that two weeks going into Mania, we did get some more important plot resolutions. Whether it's too little, too late is for you to judge, but let's take a look at the significant developments that happened tonight:

  • #HoodlumReigns: This could mean just about anything, but I'm taking all of Roman Reigns's actions tonight to mean that he's turning heel at Mania—if he isn't a heel already. He interrupted Steph's opening promo to be all dark and broody, he stalked Triple H enough to know when he was coming to pick Steph up from the arena, and he stopped the Official Authority Black Van to go beat up Triple H, a guy who was just picking his wife up from work. I wanted Samoan Joe to go Superman Punch the van's windshield, but since he didn't do that (which is what a babyface would do) and decided to Walk Slow to the car (that Rikishi may or may not have been driving, with the way it didn't drive off and run over him) he's obviously turning into a dick. 

  • Chainsaw Deano: Dean Ambrose gets a chainsaw from Legend of the Week Terry Funk, and now the new IWC thing to do is to predict which legend will appear on RAW next week and bequeath Dean his (or her) trademark international object. My favorite picks are Chavo Guerrero dropping by to loan him his Kerwin White golf clubs and old man Fit Finlay sending Hornswoggle over to hand him the infamous shillelagh.

  • Undertaker gets an ultimatum: In what should have happened two weeks ago—you know, when Taker was fully advertised for RAW—Vinny gives him an important threat employs a really nice motivational tactic in telling the Deadman that Dallas will be his last WrestleMania ever should he lose. Now we're getting somewhere. It doesn't automatically mean the match result is set in stone, as there is now a lot of plausible different ways this can go. There was little heat for the announcement as it was two weeks too late, but this certainly got more interesting.

  • Intercontinental clusterfuck: You know, it was almost perfect. At the beginning of the show, we thought it was going to be a one-on-one against Sami Zayn at Mania, because optimism. That's cool. But then it became a bait-and-switch to get guys doing something a little more important on the card, and even though Owens handled the ring introductions perfectly (watch out for that lowkey brilliant subtle wink to El Generico as he introduces Sin Cara), you know it wasn't the Intercontinental title match they're supposed to have. It's baffling that we get this and a singles match with Kalisto and Ryback for the U.S. title. Yeah, you can argue that the IC title is (historically) the more important prize and it makes sense for more people to fight for it, but just because you could, doesn't mean you should. (And why would you deprive us of the tease of Sin Cara and Kalisto going at it in a ladder match?)

Quick Hitters

  • Please watch Kevin Owens vs. AJ Styles.
  • The New Day roast of the League of Nations is appalling for its relative lack of fire. There were some points where it picked up steam, but overall they're going to need to work on being mean and vicious while still being babyfaces.
  • And speaking of the League of Nations, why should I buy them as a threat right now? They may outnumber the New Day, but the Demented Unicorns keep finding a way to outsmart and out-teamwork them. What credibility do they have if they can't even be made to prove that they're as well-oiled a machine as they say they are? What a waste of solid upper-midcard talent.

*****

It was not a downright ugly episode of RAW, but it was certainly nothing to write home about. Your personal excitement level for WrestleMania is exactly how you want it to be. Only you can decide how hyped you are. You can take what's been dealt and make sunshine and rainbows out of that and that's fine, but I won't blame you if you feel nothing for it. Let's hope everyone manages to burn the barn down on April 3. This week's episode gets a C.

Photo from WWE

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