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The Smark Henry RAW Report (6/6/16): Who Needs To Be Mr. Money in the Bank the Most?


Welcome to the longest-running weekly episodic review column of the longest-running weekly episodic television show in history: Monday Night RAW! Oh, what’s that? You were expecting someone else to handle this column from now on? Well, too bad. I’m taking a page out of good ol’ AJ Styles’ playbook in telling you one thing one week and doing another thing the next! Deal with it.

On a more serious note, though, I was told after I’d published last week’s RAW review that I’ll begin writing for Sports Illustrated Philippines this August, which gives me two more months to share my thoughts on this space with you! Tuloy ang ligaya!

This week’s RAW wasn’t particularly memorable, save for this awkward opening segment:


And the return of this guy:


So this week, we’ll take a look at our field for the 2016 Money in the Bank Ladder Match and rank its participants according to who needs it most:

6. Chris Jericho



Ironically, the guy who created the match in storyline is the guy who needs to win the contract the least. Sure, this could be the longest that we’ve had Chris Jericho on a regular basis since 2012. But we all know that his role is still the same: to put younger talent over; and Jericho’s been thriving in that position. He doesn’t need the “thank you” run, and it’s not like he’ll be around full-time for the rest of the calendar year to be the MITB threat the WWE needs anyway. I could be wrong, but admit it, you did nod your head and find yourself convinced.

5. Sami Zayn



We’ve said repeatedly on this site that Sami Zayn is the second coming of Daniel Bryan in the WWE, and for good reason. Both have a similar indy pedigree, both don’t necessarily fit within the mold of a traditional WWE superstar, and both are just charismatic enough to get over as underdog characters.

While Bryan did win the MITB contract in 2011, he won it during a different period—a time when there were two world championships and when Mr. Money in the Bank was normally booked inconsistently. Now that there’s only one world title to chase, Creative knows it can’t afford to half-ass another MITB winner. (Cue to Sheamus awkwardly nodding his head.)

Zayn’s locked in a storyline with Kevin Owens, at least until the brand split happens. And until then, Zayn doesn’t need the briefcase to continue his pursuit of Owens. He just needs to look like he cost KO a shot at the briefcase, or the other way around, and their feud can keep going after Money in the Bank.

Besides, while Zayn is already a sympathetic character to begin with, the WWE can build more good will for his character by having him come close, only to get screwed over by KO yet again. If they go with the slow burn, the payoff could very well come close to Bryan-esque levels.

4. Kevin Owens



Owens is the first among three names—the others being Dean Ambrose and Cesaro, who we’ll get to later—who are generally considered to be the frontrunners to be this year’s Mr. Money in the Bank. Will he look great as Mr. MITB? Definitely. Does it fit his character? He’s a prizefighter, so count that as a check. But does he really need it?

At this point, the answer is similar to that of Sami Zayn: no, he doesn’t need it… right now. However, what puts KO over Zayn on this list is the fact that KO could do more with a MITB win than Zayn can, especially in the context of their storyline. Have Zayn get close to winning the damn thing, only to have Owens cockblock him on a grand stage, and you have another reason for them to #FightForever.

KO’s the best heel in WWE today, and if he keeps performing like this, he’s bound to experience more success. Fasttracking it with a MITB win won’t necessarily help KO’s case at the moment because they need to build his portfolio with a murderer’s row of victims left in his wake.

3. Alberto Del Rio



Like Owens before him, I had to put El Patron over Zayn just because he’s a heel, and having a heel Mr. Money in the Bank is a more compelling story in theory. However, history tells us that a heel MITB contract-holder is more likely to be booked weakly before getting a huge comeback MITB win. (See: Bryan, Daniel; Ziggler, Dolph) Realistically speaking, Del Rio’s role in this match is just to add legitimacy because of his status as a former Mr. MITB and world champion. He’s not going to win this because it doesn’t look like he’ll be an upcoming challenger to Roman Reigns’ title in the near future, unlike his rookie year in 2010-11, when his destiny seemed to indicate otherwise.

Del Rio needs to win this year’s match but not as much as your top two picks because his trajectory as a character doesn’t seem headed in this direction. At best, he can keep challenging for the midcard titles and be a really solid upper midcard heel.

That being said, ADR could very well be the dark horse pick of this match. He’s the guy you won’t expect to win at all because why would he win in the first place? But when he does, you’ll know WWE’s taking this dude’s career seriously again—and they should be doing just that. Until then, Del Rio will be fine having just one shirt on wweshop.com, and it’s on the sale rack to boot.

2. Dean Ambrose



Let’s get one thing straight. Dean Ambrose is more of an angry character than a crazy one. In fact, his Lunatic Fringe schtick is about to go stale, especially with the way that the commentary team keeps beating us over the head with it. When you’re angry, you make irrational decisions, but it doesn’t mean you’re crazy. Ambrose isn’t crazy. He isn’t even a little unwell. He’s just angry.

Now, if he becomes Mr. Money in the Bank, you give him a boost in unpredictability, which can hopefully add to the crazy factor of his character. The one thing that works against Ambrose, though, is that he’s been a solid upper midcard babyface character, whose #1 Contender status isn’t hard to justify. We saw it last year when he feuded with Rollins, and again when he and Roman duked it out in the WWE World Heavyweight Championship tournament finals at Survivor Series.

The argument for Dean is that winning Money in the Bank could be what catapults him to the same level as Rollins and Reigns, and that it could finally set up that dream Shield triple threat match at either SummerSlam or WrestleMania. But that match is a story that can write itself, with or without the briefcase. Ambrose is a believable #1 Contender, and it won’t be too hard to imagine him taking a shot at the title while Rollins and Reigns continue to fight over it, which brings us to...


1. Cesaro



This is a guy who is on the cusp of superstardom. You see it in how over he is with the crowd from the moment he appears until the end of his matches. His matches with John Cena from last year already laid the foundation for the “Cesaro as main-eventer” hype train. And then it sputtered out and Cesaro got injured. Now, WWE has a chance to follow-through on that after they’ve rebuilt Cesaro’s momentum upon his return.

Regardless of whether Rollins or Reigns will be the champion, the WWE Universe is surely getting behind Cesaro if the latter became Mr. Money in the Bank. And while his feud with the Miz didn’t appear to end at Extreme Rules, winning the briefcase doesn’t necessarily mean he has to stop chasing the IC title. In fact, Miz was U.S. Champion while he was also Mr. Money in the Bank in 2010. Why can’t Cesaro chase after the IC title while he bides his time?

Cesaro is the fan favorite who just needs that one last push to get over that hump and be where the big boys play. Having a run with the briefcase and that championship match—even if he loses it, as long as he’s booked strongly—could be that catalyst. The time is now for Cesaro, and we’re all ready to see the WWE pull the trigger.

*****

Quick Hitters


  • John Cena and the New Day teaming up against the Club seems odd because the babyfaces have the numbers advantage, which takes away from making them sympathetic figures. Plus, apart from Cena and the New Day having mutual enemies in the Club, we don’t really get why they have to be helping each other out. The enemy of my enemy is my friend—a.k.a. wrestling logic—everybody!


  • At least AJ Styles got to explain why he went after Cena, and it made sense. What didn’t entirely work, though, was how he blamed guys like Cena for burying guys like AJ. That was supposed to get AJ heel heat, but instead people cheered AJ because that echoed a lot of misinformed members of the IWC who still legitimately think John Cena sucks. We know that the IWC are the bonus heels in any given story, but having an internet darling heel it up by saying the things the IWC says isn’t going to get you heel heat.


  • Speaking of wrestling logic, who gave Titus O’Neil the right to be America’s standard-bearer and the right to demand Rusev a shot at the U.S. Championship? What’s Titus done since his return other than sticking his nose in other people’s business?

  • It’s about time Stephanie revealed her true colors about (1) wanting to have full control of WWE and (2) ousting Shane from power. Then again, it was pretty stupid to do it in front of everyone by embarrassing Teddy Long and kicking him out of the arena. I mean, couldn’t she at least have been an evil mastermind and not reveal her cards so soon? Just because Shane wasn’t on RAW, doesn’t mean he wouldn’t find out about it. Shane’s just absent, not stupid.


  • Give the writers credit for actually pursuing a blood feud between Enzo & Big Cass and the Vaudevillains. Seeing Cass snap and just go apeshit on Gotch and English was a step in the right direction to show that the Jersey boys have an edge, too. The Vaudevillains also looked pretty dastardly and despicable by trying to deliberately injure Enzo this time around.


  • Having said that, what have all the teams in the tag title match at Money in the Bank done to deserve a title shot against the New Day?


  • I hope we at least get a tag team match between Charlotte and Dana and the team of Becky and Nattie at Money in the Bank because it would suck to see both Dana and Becky get reduced to glorified cheerleaders at the PPV when both ladies are more than supporting characters at this point.


  • I know that Golden Truth and Breezango are feuding, but do they always have to cross paths with each other directly? It’s like these four guys existed in their own little bubble until Teddy Long showed up. Also, Fandango was shaving his back and Tyler Breeze was keeping him company while that was happening. What the fuck?


Pick of the Week


There weren’t really a whole lot of matches to write home about this week, so if I had to absolutely pick one match for you to see this week, it’ll be Dean Ambrose vs. Kevin Owens, just because it was the lone match that actually got some time to breathe and develop. Plus, Ambrose and Owens know how to make the most out of their chemistry to tell a good story regardless of how much time they’re given.

*****

This week’s RAW was forgettable to the point that I won’t even blame you if you skipped this episode. The Cena/Club and New Day/Club segments were must-watch, as was Ambrose/Owens, and Teddy Long’s return—just because we didn’t realize how much we all missed him. As a whole, the episode gets a C.

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. He used to dress up in fancy suits to book matches as PWR's General Manager.

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