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The Smark Henry Raw Review (10/19/16): Saved The Beast For Last





RAW will have a lot on its plate in the next few weeks, as not only does it have to gear up for Hell in a Cell in two weeks' time, but also has next month's Survivor Series to worry about. Luckily, that's what the three hours of the program are for, and it's up to them to use it wisely. Though it did well this week with the things that mattered most, there were a lot of obstacles in the way from getting this to be a great episode.

The true highlight of night belonged to a returning Superstar who sought out to respond to a challenge laid out by Brock Lesnar. Former WCW mainstay Bill Goldberg made an appearance in a RAW ring for the first time in twelve years. He was greeted warmly by the fans, as he uncharacteristically fought back tears. He soon went down to business, accepting Brock's challenge in a very straightforward and pulse-pounding promo.

Goldberg was never known for his mic work, but tonight by speaking from the heart and just being himself, his output turned out great. The crowd helped out tremendously and looked thrilled to have him there, and WWE made a brilliant choice to have Lesnar appear the next week instead - coincidentally, in The Beast's hometown of Minneapolis. With two months away (supposedly) until their epic clash, this was a great start to it and soon it could lead to some actual ring-sharing between the two as we get closer to Survivor Series.

There’s an unmistakable air of intrigue in this acceptance from Goldberg and the bout that it will lead to. He will be stepping into a ring after being away for more than a decade, and there’s obviously some doubt if he could still go in the ring. Also, with The Beast being near-invincible in terms of booking, many are wondering how this match can benefit both parties. All of these factors will surely lead to a great build-up and main event, and hopefully the only thing we have to worry about is the in-ring action, and that it would erase some very bad memories associated with their WrestleMania XX bout. Even though this is a rematch between both men, it still remains one of the few, true big money matches the WWE has left.



We also had Seth Rollins vs. Chris Jericho this week, and the two managed to delivered a great match even though the two of them already squared off last week. This particular match, however, had the narrative of the dissolution between Jericho and his best bud Kevin Owens, who also happens to be the Universal Champion. Owens didn't follow through with Jericho's favor (or was it disobeying his orders?) of not showing up at ringside and it cost him the match.

It's obvious to the trained eye that they're rushing a possible break-up and potential feud between the two because Jericho has to go touring with his band Fozzy soon, but the rush could be ignored because the two men manage to slow-burn it organically even though. What's nice to see is that no element in this particular story looks like an afterthought anymore. Rollins' pursuit of the Universal title, Owens trying to keep his championship and the brewing tension between him and Jericho all fit nicely with one another. This is thanks in part to Triple H becoming the hulking, water-spitting elephant in the room. The Game will soon become the real afterthought in all of this the more he doesn't show up.



The two women who will step foot inside Hell in a Cell for the first time ever each gave interviews handled by WWE Hall of Famer Lita. Both women came out looking strong as Charlotte played off of her natural heel self and her genetic superiority. Meanwhile, Sasha Banks talked about her real-life aspirations. Both women actually came off as sincere even in character, and the stakes are palpable. This was a perfect start to the build-up for their match, especially saving the two of them having to wrestle in an inconsequential match. Here's to hoping that the match won't end up selling short in any way.

While the Universal and Women's Divisions were handled beautifully this week, the two lower groups on the totem pole left a lot to be desired. The tag team division had more bickering from Cesaro and Sheamus, while Big Cass squashed Karl Anderson in a singles bout. They could be hammering the point home that it has to be a tag-team bout for Anderson and his buddy Gallows to be successful, but this ends up making the former Bullet Club members look non-threatening as a result.

The Cruiserweight Division continued to display high-flying, entertaining bouts but it also continues to suffer from a lack of character development, save for champion TJ Perkins and his rival Brian Kendrick. Something needs to be done about this and fast, a secondary and tertiary feud between some of the division's members would do wonders in making the fans care. Meanwhile, a directionless Braun Strowman demanded competition. Sami Zayn is directionless and so is Braun, so this is a good opportunity for both men to get back on track. Although this could just lead to it being a squash for Sami, at least it couldn't be as bad as being in a hodge-podge tag team like last week.

RAW this week may have hit the right notes in terms of all the marquee matches they have to promote, but it unfortunately faltered in everything else. Just a few ounces of care from the booking of the undercard acts, tag-team and Cruiserweight divisions could have given this show an amazing backbone that supported all the heavy hitters, but that was not the case tonight. This week’s episode was good, but it missed a few hits in order to make it truly great. Though, who’d be talking about anything besides Goldberg within the week anyway?

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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