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The Smark Henry RAW Report (2/13/17): I Love You, Man



Coming off a really solid Elimination Chamber, RAW had to step up its game, and it did so by focusing on the big moments. In fact, this week’s RAW was all about the big moments because that’s pretty much all you’ll remember when you think about this episode. In a way, it’s as if RAW perfected the formula they’ve been working on since the brand split, which is throw everything at the key moments, while pretty much going “fuck it” for everything else.

For what it’s worth, the highs from this week’s RAW were definitely can’t-miss material. In fact, these were moments that pretty much laid out several Superstars’ trajectories towards WrestleMania, which proves that RAW is at least capable of the slow burn and/or long-term booking. That brings us to our weekly RAW Report question:


Was RAW worth watching this week?




But only for these three moments:

1. Kevin Owens just broke all of our hearts



When I saw the plugs for the Festival of Friendship for this week’s episode, I was imagining something really hokey and campy. True enough, that’s exactly what we got from Chris Jericho, which was fitting since RAW emanated from Las Vegas.

What we didn’t expect was that Kevin Owens had a surprise of his own for Chris Jericho.


Holy shit. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one whose mouth was left agape when that happened. Hell, I was silent all the way until Owens grabbed Jericho by the hair, yelled, “I HATE YOU!” and proceeded to ram him through the “Festival of Friendship” candy glass screen.

This was beautiful on so many levels. We’d been building up to the Owens/Jericho split since the moment they banded together last September. It was the long con we all saw coming, and yet, they found a way to shock the fuck out of us when it actually happened. Well played, WWE. Well fucking played.

What makes this work so well is the fact that Owens and Jericho had developed such great chemistry as a buddy cop duo, and that you could see how Jericho’s wacky attitude made him truly want Owens’ friendship—despite his antics that surely got on Owens’ bad side. At the same time, you had Owens—who kept Jericho at arm’s length when it was convenient for him—who just snapped, and who doesn’t hit that boiling point when someone’s annoyed you to no end the way Jericho has?

The turn benefits both guys because it finally allows Jericho to turn face, which shouldn’t hurt him since all of his catchphrases have gotten so over in the first place. More importantly, it gives Kevin Owens his teeth back as a heel. We’ve all complained about him losing his edge since Triple H came out to help him win the Universal Championship, only to disappear for months afterward. Sure, Owens isn’t as evil as he was during the Steenerico days in ROH. But this is as close as it gets for now. And if you don’t want to see Owens get trapped in the Walls of Jericho after what he did to his now-ex-best friend, then you don’t have a soul.

2. Bayley is your NEW RAW Women’s Champion



When it was made clear that the Women’s Championship Match was main-eventing RAW, it was too easy to predict that Bayley was going to win. That’s what happens when RAW overuses a formula that worked one too many times before. We already saw this with Sasha Banks twice. And what’s worse is they brought back all the gimmicks that made the moment work with Sasha.

Have Charlotte be evil. Check. Give Bayley a comeback. Check. Bring out Dana Brooke—WHO HASN’T BEEN SEEN ON TV IN WEEKS—to interfere. Check. Bring out an equalizer to neutralize Dana (that’s Sasha, by the way). Check.

That led to Bayley finally getting the win against Charlotte and achieving her dream! OH MY GOD. DREAMS DO COME TRUE. SHE’S FULFILLED HER CHILDHOOD DREAM. WHY DOES THIS SOUND SO FAMILIAR?

Maybe it’s because this happened JUST LAST FUCKING NIGHT AT ELIMINATION CHAMBER. AND WITH SASHA FUCKING BANKS LAST YEAR. TWICE. ON RAW.

Here’s the problem with Charlotte having been built as such a big-time performer. Her undefeated streak at PPVs has made every title match on both PPVs and RAW predictable. It doesn’t help that every title match Charlotte’s had has the same formula now that you already know when the big moments are supposed to happen. But that’s the thing about big moments. They’re best executed when you don’t see them coming, so you can appreciate the surprise.

What’s worse is the RAW Women’s title has been hot potatoed again. And now it’s with Bayley, who hasn’t hit peak popularity yet on the main roster the way she did on NXT. Now, RAW’s shat itself by blowing its load too early. Great.

Let's just watch this video of Izzy reacting to Bayley's win.

3. SAMI ZAYN VS. SAMOA JOE



We at the Smark Henry Offices like to fantasy-book Samoa Joe as the guy who just starts going after all of Triple H’s NXT babies for the hell of it. And after this week’s episode, it looks like we’re getting our wish. When Joe was being interviewed by Michael Cole earlier in the episode, it looked like his Sami Zayn namedrop was just something randomly inserted for the hell of it. By the time he attacked Sami, it became clear that that was supposed to set up their feud.

I honestly don’t mind because I’m excited to see Sami and Joe go at it just because it could be one hell of a match when it happens. While I’m really salty over Seth Rollins becoming the WWE’s version of Derrick Rose, getting Sami vs. Joe at Fastlane is a nice little consolation prize. Now, if we ended up getting Sami vs. Joe at ‘Mania, then that would be one hell of a deal altogether. But with the WrestleMania card getting this stacked, I don’t think that’s going to happen, so Fastlane it is.

Quick Hitters


  • As if you needed more reasons to hate Roman Reigns, he looked too strong against Gallows and Anderson tonight, making the tag champs look like jabronis in the process. I can’t wait for Braun Strowman to just demolish him at Fastlane.
  • Speaking of Strowman, I don’t mind him being made to face all of WWE’s behemoths week after week. It could be this generation’s Masterlock Challenge, which should be a nice weekly story for Braun while he waits for his opportunity to tear Roman into shreds.
  • If it isn’t obvious by now, the New Day clearly has no story going for them. They’re the perfect microcosm of RAW right now—perfectly coasting by on its ability to draw pops and sell merch. But in reality, there’s nothing for the New Day right now and it’s frankly quite sad.
  • Akira Tozawa is the best thing in the Cruiserweight division (besides Heel Neville) right now. He knows exactly what to do to get over in any city, and his unabashed charisma just makes for great TV.

*****

Overall, this was actually a decent episode of RAW. Then again, consider that RAW is graded on a curve relative to SmackDown, which means that if it were graded using the blue brand’s standards, this would still be a bad episode. But since RAW is generally the shits, then ehh, we might as well apply that curve for the “flagship show.” This week’s show gets a solid B+.

Photos from WWE

*****

Stan Sy (@_StanSyis the Editor at Large of Smark Henry, and is also an events host, a freelance writer, and one of the hosts of the Smark Gilas-Pilipinas Podcast and The Wrestling Gods on FOX. He enjoys watching WWE, NXT, Lucha Underground, and the occasional New Japan match. He dresses up in fancy suits from time to time to book matches as PWR's General Manager.

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