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The Smark Henry RAW Review (10/31/16): Team Building






Hell in a Cell has come and gone, and RAW this week was on Halloween. However, RAW has been scary for quite a long time in terms of its booking. With now a singular focus for Survivor Series and a major war against the SmackDown Live roster around the corner, will this episode turn the tide in their favor?

Goldberg showed that he can still go in small bursts, but only his match at Survivor Series will tell if he can still operate like his old self. This was a great next step in the story, as Brock and Goldberg are obviously being distanced from one another as far as possible. Meanwhile, Rusev couldn't even put away Roman Reigns at Hell in a Cell with a chain, so there's no way in hell he's doing anything here. Even though it's at the expense of letting his career tank even further, the use of Rusev as cannon fodder was a wise decision. It’s the best use for him as of now, seeing as his match at Hell in a Cell did irreparable damage to his character.


A Halloween special wouldn't be complete without one of WWE's "Trick or Street" Fights, and we had one this week in the form of Enzo Amore going one-on-one with Luke Gallows. It's pretty much a given that the babyfaces will win a specialty match like this, and any momentum gained by Gallows and Anderson winning at Hell in a Cell is now null and void. No act defines the term "lost in the shuffle" quite like the former members of The Club. It's easy to label them a lost cause at this point, and rightfully so.

The seeds planted for Survivor Series are now starting to grow, even if a few weeks late compared to SmackDown Live. However, RAW tried to make the most out of their situation as the Men's Team gained four out of its five members, while the Women's Team gained three. RAW, however, named most of those participants instead of holding qualifying matches for them. A bit of a head-scratcher there, but the friction was not absent between those members regardless.  

Brand warfare being the main theme for this year’s Survivor Series brings about some nostalgia for the Ruthless Aggression days, however having this be the theme every year could potentially neuter down the event as it’ll essentially be nothing more than the new brand split’s version of Bragging Rights.

GM Mick Foley named WWE Universal Champion Kevin Owens, Chris Jericho and the United States Champion Roman Reigns as part of the Men's Team, while Braun Strowman's thirst for competition may involve him looking outwards to the other show. He won a battle royal for a spot on the team, last eliminating his recent rival Sami Zayn.

The encounter between Braun and Zayn was a perfect showcase of logical progression, as Braun remains the most untouchable force on RAW that's neither a part-timer nor a guy wearing a bulletproof vest. Another example of this story was on the Women's Team, when Bayley failed to put away Nia Jax—both members under team captain and RAW Women's Champion Charlotte. The underdogs in Bayley and Zayn don't quite have the success stories they're longing for yet, but RAW hammered the point home that they don't want underdogs for their Survivor Series team.


Reigns and Jericho then battled for the United States Championship, which ended in an indecisive finish typical of RAW episodes. Seth Rollins, angry and bitter after his loss the previous night, ran down Owens and Jericho. A stare-down then occurred between him and his former Shield buddy Reigns. It could leave the fans wanting more, and it was the right move to just tease something here instead of having them be chums with one another so early.

This potentially means some foreshadowing in the form of Rollins as the fifth member of Team RAW, though in turn a backseat will be taken by all the feuds currently taking place.  Rollins himself still has a really big plate and would have to trim it down to his true interests eventually. Should he hunt down Triple H, or is he still dead-set on being Universal Champion? This is a question that needs some answering as soon as possible. It’s already convoluted enough as it is, and the brand warfare could complicate things even further.

It was a decent episode this week that got the engine going towards Survivor Series, but with still three weeks away, RAW may have jumped the gun too early for determining its members. Some more qualifying matches (especially for the Men's Team) would have been much appreciated, and would have given the participants a sense of urgency to represent the red brand. However, the sense of urgency that took place this week was of a different kind, as it gave off the sense that RAW had to be so ahead of SmackDown that they only had to have one qualifying match overall.

RAW would need to have some mandatory fleshing out between the team members themselves, to get them to unite against the common threat - whether face or heel - and that's when the road to Survivor Series could truly begin.

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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