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The Smark Henry RAW Review (10/24/16): Saved By The Cell






This week's RAW was the final episode before Hell in a Cell, where there will be three matches that'll take place under the titular structure. That may be one Cell match too many, but will surely make it a must-see event for those regularly watching the product. WWE, however, still had a job to do in selling others in on the event. Not only that, but the clash between Brock Lesnar and Goldberg took its next step in the form of Lesnar's—or rather, his mouthpiece Paul Heyman’s—response. Tonight was the last episode where the matches inside the Cell could prove they deserved to take place in it, and for the most part, they failed to capture that.

First things first, though - The List of Jericho was missing! This was a truly grave and serious matter, with Chris Jericho, the maker of said list, not leaving the ring until he got it back. His best friend Kevin Owens, their Commissioner Stephanie McMahon and their perennial thorn on their sides, Seth Rollins, all came down the ramp to address the situation. Rollins turned out to be the one who had The List all along, and Jericho had to come and get it if he wanted it back.

This was a solid opening segment with some bits of comedy and seriousness thrown in, as the friendship between Owens and Jericho continues to strain due to Rollins' hunt for the Universal Championship. Jericho again displayed his magic as now the list is so over with the fans, it's reached levels of craziness that it gets cheers. For a segment that would lead to a vicious Cell match this week, it was on the silly side of things but it managed to pick itself up thanks to Rollins' closing remarks.

The three later had a Triple Threat match, with Rollins picking up the win in clever fashion, as the cracks continued to form between the friendship of Jericho and Owens. However, even if there was a post-fight brawl to be had, the focus on the Cell was now nowhere to be found and instead we’re left wondering if both Owens and Rollins even know they’re competing inside it this Sunday.


Another match that will be taking place inside the Cell involves the Women's Champion Sasha Banks taking on Charlotte, as they set out to make history. They had a contract signing this week and though they seemed confident about themselves, it was Mick Foley who brought them down to Earth. The RAW General Manager was also known as the Hardcore Legend, and had taken part in two Cell matches. Who better than him as a cautionary tale for the competitors this Sunday?

Though Foley had been sticking out like a sore thumb somewhat in his new role as GM, this was where he shined. Oftentimes, he comes across as incoherent, rambling, and veering off-topic. But, now with all the focus being on the demonic structure, he knew exactly what to talk about and what to emphasize. Foley is the perfect person to bring legitimacy to the upcoming battle. Charlotte and Sasha will definitely have a lot of weight in their shoulders this Sunday, for it won't be just an ordinary singles match.

The Boss and The Queen may be making history, but they weren’t making much of a story until tonight. As for Seth Rollins and Kevin Owens, the emphasis is definitely leaning towards the troubles between the champion and his best friend rather than on the challenger’s title hunt. Their motivations look unclear, as they mostly look distracted by other things on their plate. As a result, this devalues the Cell as a far cry from what it once was - the true be-all, end-all narrative device for the most brutal rivalries. Now, it’s looking more like a pitstop at best and an afterthought at worst.

While there was some selling to be had for Hell in a Cell, the main selling point this week was Brock answering Goldberg's acceptance for a fight. Though it may seem pointless on paper, it actually did look even more pointless when it took place. In what I thought was a stroke of genius to get the crowd on Brock's side (since RAW was in his hometown of Minnesota this week), WWE made the horrible decision of Heyman trying to get the crowd to boo their hero. This was a massive mistake that should not have been attempted or entertained in the first place. The crowd would not be coerced and continued to cheer Brock, to the obvious annoyance of Heyman who struggled with his mic work.


Generating hype for the upcoming Lesnar-Goldberg match is understandable, even if it is done too early as The Beast doesn’t have that many dates under his contract. However, “using him” and “making him stand in the ring” are two totally different things. Heyman flubbing promos is a true rarity, and such was the case here tonight. This segment felt extremely flat and added further to the pointlessness of the entire thing. This was definitely not a wise example of usage for Brock, especially with Heyman definitely not on his A-game tonight.

It's obvious that they're just filling up the episodes as the nearest date they could actually have a match is at next month's Survivor Series. This totally felt like a waste of time, and so WWE needs to tread carefully with this one, as we can't have the crowd ruin the match the same way they did at WrestleMania XX, can we?

This week's RAW merely had to capitalize on the solid ground it had last week after an explosive Goldberg return and great build-up to both the Universal and Women's matches. However, it faltered in that regard. Most of the segments fell flat, and the focus was all out of place at times. Luckily, they'll have a life raft that'll get their work cut out for them as all eyes will be on the Cell structure this Sunday.

This won't always be the case, and therefore RAW needs to step it up. Heyman and Lesnar embracing the crowd, or Jericho taking a backseat would have been cues that would have made the endgames matter in the long run. Instead, this week's Raw was misdirected in a major way, which set the tone for a potential crash and burn on the way to Hell in a Cell.

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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