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The Smark Henry RAW Review (8/16/16): The Demon King Rises



Monday Night RAW may be aware that its ratings are slipping, because reminiscent of having fan favorite Daniel Bryan show up last week, RAW pulled out all the stops to get people to lay eyes on the product. Never mind that Bryan is actually the General Manager of SmackDown! Live and had no business being on the red show, some of the decisions executed tonight will provoke the same (if not more) head-scratching for the regular viewer. Especially for those moves which could have been saved for a certain Party of the Summer instead.

Roman Reigns and Rusev were victims of the trigger being pulled early this week. For The Big Dog, he's slowly trying to climb up the mountain he fell off of after his Wellness Policy suspension. He now found himself in a non-title match against his SummerSlam opponent, Rusev. Don't worry, your eyes weren't deceiving you with that sentence. Less than a week before the two would face off, the two faced off.  

They told a great story in the ring, which is such a shame because SummerSlam could have been the place for both these men to strut their stuff. With a Reigns win, this further cements the notion that Rusev will be walking away with the belt come SummerSlam. Couldn't the booking have at least made it a little less obvious?




We also witnessed three tag team matches, with two of them being used to propel the feud for the championship. While Titus O’Neil turned on Darren Young in their match in what looked like a major case of deja vu, The New Day and The Club were resorting to sophomoric humor after being declared winners of their respective match-ups. The Tag Team title belts were no longer the focus once Big E. suffered a groin injury and instead of focusing what's on their waist, the two teams were now focused on what's between their legs. Jokes like this are definitely nothing new in wrestling (looking at you, Joey Ryan), but they definitely should not be presented as a main plot point for heading towards a title match.

The women get two matches this week, but neither Nia Jax's weekly squash match nor Charlotte's match against Alicia Fox did the division any favors. The presentation of the women recently has been in some sort of lull, which definitely should not be the case again soon after Sasha Banks and Charlotte deliver at SummerSlam or they could lose major momentum.

The best moment of RAW, however, came in the form of the Demon King's awe-inspiring debut. Finn Balor came out in full-on paint to confront his current rival Seth Rollins, right before the two clash for the right to be the inaugural Universal Champion. Rollins showed fear in his otherwise usually unshakable mettle, while Balor delivered a Pele Kick along with a suicide dive to drive the point home: he won't be an easy beat this Sunday.

For all the intensity this segment had which capped off an amazing build-up, there was just one glaring problem. This was done on RAW, when it could and should have been saved for SummerSlam. Now, save for an amazing entrance, the mystique of the Demon King had been somewhat tainted for a viewer and may need some repair over the coming weeks.




RAW needs to find ways to deliver without resorting to ruining the build-up to their PPV events. Instead of killing the hype, RAW (and by virtue of extension, SmackDown!) should complement and enhance it. It's either they rest on their laurels for too long that they start looking lazy, or fire on all cylinders—well and good, except usually it's fired at the wrong targets. This week showed both examples in great detail, and the show suffered because of it.

It’s looking like there is no in-between for them, but RAW needs to find one and fast or the ratings will fluctuate, much like their current presentation. The talent comes in spades, so come SummerSlam, complaints about match quality should be next to non-existent. However, what’s worth noting is if RAW can keep people interested in what’ll happen next.

Photos from WWE

*****

Miguel Asistio (@MTGMAis also known as the best writer in the world—at least according to his CM Punk-inspired delusions of grandeur. In the real world, he's been a proud fan of the WWE since its Ruthless Aggression days. He also enjoys reading comic books and playing fighting games when not trying to make his dream of being a successful novelist come true.

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