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The Smark Henry RAW Review (9/21/16): Caged Animals




RAW is now one week away from Clash of Champions, its first-ever exclusive pay-per-view since New Year's Revolution nine years ago. Big matches were littered on the card amidst all the squash matches and obvious filler time, as this episode sought to gain some momentum to get people to tune in this coming Sunday. However, there were some very questionable decisions made with its booking of both the male and female talent.


A rematch between Kevin Owens and Roman Reigns was scheduled as tonight's RAW main event. However, despite the added steel cage stipulation for the bout, we are forced not to care about the match from the outset because it'll have no merit on both men. It was neither a match for the Universal title nor will it give Reigns a shot at it once he wins, unlike how the reward was last week. Devoid of logic stemming from last week, it's just a steel cage match for the sake of having a cage match.


Meanwhile, Owens and Reigns’ respective rivals—Seth Rollins and Rusev—went one-on-one for the first time ever, and Seth turning quasi-face brings upon him a fresh bevy of match-ups, this one chief among them. Seth executed more high-flying offense to the delight of the crowd and capped it off with a leap from the announce table. The double countout ending to this match enforces the idea that this could be revisited as a rivalry down the road, seeing as both men are too busy with others at the moment.


The senseless main event contributed to perhaps an even messier overlap than the 10-man tag match that was also featured on the show, as Roman Reigns managed to beat Kevin Owens. The main challenger for the United States title beat the Universal Champion in a bout that will absolutely do no one any favors heading onto Clash of Champions. Reigns gains nothing in this situation as he was never really after the U.S. title to begin with, while Owens arrives at his first big PPV as Universal Champion with a major loss derailing all his momentum.


The only one to benefit here somewhat is Rollins, who tried to solidify his babyface status even further by making the save for his former Shield brethren (even if that defied logic much like the match did) and leaping from atop the steel structure. However, there will still be some doubts as a jump from the cage will just end up as a cool spot and nothing more. It looks like another Triple H sighting has to be enacted for Rollins to truly turn face.




Charlotte and Dana Brooke took on Sasha Banks and Bayley in a rematch from Battleground, which showcased the high energy Bayley brings to the table during her matches. Sasha was more or less an afterthought in this match, however at the expense of Bayley getting pinned again. Charlotte picked up the win for her and her protege, even with their current rocky relationship, as she heads off to Clash of Champions in what will now be a Triple Threat match for her Women's title. However, one has to wonder if Bayley will even be a threat to begin with as she's been beaten by both Charlotte and Banks. Her inclusion will be for naught if she turns out ineffective on Sunday.


Chris Jericho continued his Midas Touch, generating the List of Jericho geared towards RAW GM Mick Foley. This spawned appearances from Enzo and Cass, The Shining Stars and The New Day, and for a moment, the focus on Jericho shifted away and the segment would look like it would devolve into nothingness. However, Sami Zayn's ambush on Jericho right after put things in full circle and set in motion a massive 10-man tag match. Zayn and Jericho's feud was undoubtedly fast-tracked, with all the major feuds being convoluted, so this was a nice change of pace instead. It's a straightforward rivalry, even if ironically, it was chosen to advance in such a messy match.


The Cruiserweight division made its long-awaited debut, and saying it impressed is an understatement. Despite the questionable absence of the newly-crowned champ TJ Perkins, three new faces freshened up RAW in the form of a number one contender's match. The fourth face, however, came in the form of the returning Brian Kendrick. He's had awkward tenures as a singles competitor at best, being more suited as a tag-team player. However, he's looking to prove everyone wrong as he showed in this dazzling contest, winning the contendership for Clash of Champions. It'll be a delight to see this division light it up every week, seeing as the show could get strikingly dull at times. If the division ends up shrinking time for squash matches, then it’ll be a blessing to every viewer.




Clash of Champions and future RAW episodes should actively seek to rectify how their main event talent is being booked. More of the protection done to Rollins and Rusev should be priority, instead of letting their Universal Champion eat up losses for no reason. But, knowing WWE and judging from this week's outcome, they haven't fully abandoned the Roman Reigns experiment just yet. The feuds for the two main titles are crossing over jarringly, even though it's completely unneeded.


If more continuity like this is planned going forward, WWE shouldn't set up too many knots that they can't end up untying. They need to be cohesive, and have clear-cut motivations for each of the characters. Because if more of this convolutedness is what we'll see in the future, it could stop RAW in general dead in its tracks. Especially when a simple tag-team main event between the champions and challengers could have been a more practical solution preventing all this madness.

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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