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The Smark Henry RAW Report (5/23/16): Easter Monday



Why, WWE, why?

You just have to always make it hard for yourselves, don’t you?

Here was a golden opportunity to have another top babyface—a guy who can get over on his pure athleticism and skill, a guy who silenced the doubts about him not having a charismatic personality, a guy who audiences generally love and respect—and you decide to have him turn on the fans just minutes after they shower him with a thunderous “welcome back” pop. I just don’t get it.

It’s funny how we got here, though, because when the Shield was running roughshod over WWE, Seth Rollins was the forgotten third man—the guy who was most likely to be cast aside when the trio was bound to split. And yet, Seth was the first among them to become WWE World Heavyweight Champion. He made the most of his time as the Authority’s golden boy and proved resoundingly why he deserves to be in the main event picture for a long time. Despite being such a smarmy, annoying son of a bitch, we all saw how great of a wrestler and character he is, and we all developed that love and admiration for the guy.

That’s why it hurt us to see his knee get blown out in November. That’s why it sucked to know he was going to be out until after WrestleMania. That’s why we waited fervently and patiently since then for him to come back and rise again.

AND YET YOU TURN HIM HEEL.


It’s not as bad as seeing Daniel Bryan win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship only for Randy Orton to cash in minutes later, or for the decision to be reversed the next night, but it still felt like having a carrot dangled in front of you, only for it to be yanked away! Come on, Creative. You know Roman’s not going to be the universal babyface, at least not until years from now when more people begrudgingly respect him and his abilities. It really hasn’t helped that a lot about his character—on top of his inorganic rise to the top—has been so hokey.

We all saw how hot Roman’s feud with AJ Styles was. Roman seemed to find his groove as a tweener, acting like a smug and cocky twat towards AJ, while the Phenomenal One was the genuine good guy that everybody could get behind. That’s a formula that finally worked. I mean, it’s way better than having Roman go up against the evil Authority. So why couldn’t we do that with Seth?

His feud with Roman is a year in the making, and it made more sense to have Rollins be the babyface with a chip on his shoulder, especially since the Authority’s already long dissolved. And even if its remnants (Stephanie McMahon) remain, you could still have Seth explore a side beef with Stephanie and Triple H on the side. Instead, you just made Seth come back and act like a total dick, which is fine if the goal is to turn him into such a loathed heel. But that’s not what we need right now.

Now that AJ Styles is going to be busy with the Gallows, Anderson—and most likely, Finn Balor—then we need a hero we can all get behind against Roman Reigns. Seth Rollins was supposed to be that savior, and yet, for reasons I can’t put together on my own, Creative decided otherwise.

WWE—or anyone, for that matter—doesn’t get to throw shade at fans for not reacting the way they want us to this time around. We were all ready to get behind a guy for organic reasons. Now, we’re going to get behind him as an act of defiance.

Quick Hitters

  • AJ Styles turning on the Club the way he did made him look like an asshole because he publicly blamed them for costing him the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. If I were Anderson and Gallows, I’d be pissed at him, too. I get that they had AJ do that to give the Club a reason to attack AJ later on, but now AJ loses some babyface cred for this total dick move. Why couldn’t the Club have just attacked AJ point blank—and cost him his match against Owens—out of frustration, as if to say, “You couldn’t get the job done even after we helped you?! What a loser.” That would have set this feud in motion already.


  • Thank God they brought the Money in the Bank qualifying matches back. The MITB Ladder Match itself means so much more when you know that the participants actually fought for their respective spots. Last year’s was so lazy because they just announced the guys who would be in it, and that was that. This year’s had some drama in it, and it made the match more meaningful. Now that wasn’t so difficult, was it?


  • I’m not crying foul over AJ Styles losing to Kevin Owens in the MITB qualifying match because AJ’s got his plate full with the Club already. Plus, the guy’s got as much wrestling miles in him as Kobe Bryant had basketball miles, and AJ just took a hell of a beating at Extreme Rules. Do you really want to see him break down faster just because of an MITB Ladder Match? You know he doesn’t need that route to get to the #1 Contendership, right?

  • That being said, this year’s field looks pretty interesting with Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens, Chris Jericho, Dean Ambrose, and Cesaro all in the mix. You’ll need another heel or two to make the match interesting, but among these five alone, you already have at least three frontrunners—all of whom would be a viable choice to be the next Mr. Money in the Bank.

  • Cesaro’s one push away from being that main-eventer we’ve wanted him to be, and having the MITB briefcase could be the catalyst for that. Dean Ambrose is the type who performs best in high-profile situations, plus his unpredictable nature as a character could make the MITB briefcase a more compelling plot device. And then there’s Kevin Owens, who doesn’t necessarily need this (or a title) right now because his feud with Sami Zayn is enough to make itself important, but being Mr. Money in the Bank could give him his major arc heading into the latter half of 2016. 


  • I don’t know what Apollo Crews did to deserve being in an MITB qualifying match when we didn’t even see him on TV for close to a month. I’m glad he didn’t qualify, too, because I want to see more from him story-wise, and maybe this first loss to Chris Jericho could be what drives him to start his own arc. I mean, he’s the only one left among this year’s call-ups without an actual story.



  • Great to see Enzo Amore back, and it’s wonderful to see that the injury’s only a temporary setback—particularly with how the crowd responds to him. Enzo and Cass are not just a flash in the pan, and if WWE doesn’t treat them the way it did the Ascension, then you have the next face of the tag team division.


  • I don’t understand how or why Charlotte had to get rid of Ric Flair, even though I knew it had to happen at some point. The expected route could have taken place after Flair’s shenanigans end up in a miscue, which costs Charlotte her title or even just a match. But to have it come right after Charlotte defeated Nattie with the Dana Brooke distraction—which looked like something Ric Flair orchestrated, mind you—seemed so random that it doesn’t make that much sense to me. It’s easy to understand how you can hate an ungrateful daughter who humiliated her dad like that. But there has to be a reason other than I HAVE SOME REPRESSED FEELINGS AND NOW’S THE PERFECT TIME TO #HUGOT.

Pick of the Week


Every time RAW has tournament or qualifying matches, it almost always guarantees that there are multiple great matches on the card because by having something up for grabs, they already mean something. Why WWE doesn’t do this more often just blows my mind.

Anyway, I had three contenders for this week’s pick, and quite honestly, I count this as cheating, but it would be a disservice not to acknowledge all three matches as being must-see just because they were all too damn fun:

Cesaro vs. the Miz for a MITB qualifying match made sense because they still have a beef with one another, plus the loss makes Miz have something to fight for (or prove) when Cesaro challenges him again for the Intercontinental Championship. The Swiss Superman’s bringing out the best in the Miz, and watching them go at it was just great television.


Dean Ambrose vs. Dolph Ziggler in their MITB qualifying match was also refreshing, even though we’ve seen this match before already. It’s nice to see Dolph in a significant spot for a change after his feud with Baron Corbin totally sapped him of any momentum whatsoever. Ambrose is also on a roll himself, though I fear he’s being overworked, especially after that brutal Asylum Match just the night before.


And my third pick is AJ Styles vs. Kevin Owens in their main-event MITB qualifying match. This is the type of match that would have made smarks like us go apeshit if it were booked in Ring of Honor. That we actually get to see it close out RAW is a hell of a deal, and we were just plain lucky that it even happened. It was a bit of a downer not to have the Club get involved, but there is value in not revealing all your cards just yet.


*****

I generally love episodes of RAW with qualifying or tournament matches, but a lot of the storylines didn’t necessarily go in directions that made sense to me, so that takes some points away from the overall grade. This episode gets a steady B in my book.

What did you think about this week’s RAW? Are you satisfied with Rollins’ booking? Who do you think should round out this year’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match participants? Let us know in the comments section!

Photos from WWE.

*****

Stan Sy (@_StanSyis the Editor at Large of Smark Henry, and is also a radio DJ, an events host, a freelance writer, and one of the hosts of the Smark Gilas-Pilipinas Podcast. 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.

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