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The Smark Henry RAW Report (2/19/18): Monday Night Rollins



FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK.

Okay, I'm sorry for swearing. But now that that’s out of the way, RAW made history this week with an epic gauntlet match that took up two-thirds of the go-home show for this Monday's Elimination Chamber (Manila time). I know it sounds like an absolute drag, but I promise you it was anything but.



My man, Seth Rollins, made Monday Night RAW his bitch and turned it into Monday Night Rollins when he broke the RAW record for the longest time spent in a match in all of its 25+ years on television. See? I told you guys there are more than seven reasons to love him. Interpret however you like.

He lasted one hour and five minutes in the gauntlet—I was going to make a dirty joke but never mind—eliminating the WWE’s biggest stars in Roman Reigns and John Cena. When Seth pinned Cena clean, I couldn’t contain my emotions and cried into my pillow as if he won a championship at WrestleMania or something. My heart was filled with unexplainable bliss just seeing him do what he does best and accomplishing something a lot of Superstars probably aren't capable of. Admit it, y’all were sleeping on him for a while when he was paired with Jason Jordan. But not this time, people, as he just gave the world a wake-up call!

I was feeling extremely defensive when people were arguing that all the effort felt so unnecessary because there was nothing on the line in that match. Granted, I would’ve preferred if the “winner gets to enter the Elimination Chamber last” stipulation was used here despite the unfair order advantage gauntlet matches have—because at least all competitors would’ve had a chance to win unlike the three out of seven Superstars who participated in the Triple Threat match from a few weeks ago. But going back to those who thought this gauntlet was useless or that it damaged the guys too close to the pay-per-view—ultimately, a wrestler's goal every night at work could be as simple as proving how good he or she is to the world enough to make noise. And that's exactly what Seth Rollins did.



I'm sure everybody had their doubts when Rollins suddenly told RAW General Manager Kurt Angle that he wanted to be part of the Elimination Chamber match. The story behind this kind of booking was to make the last-minute Chamber entrant look like a real threat, and not just somebody they randomly added in. Rollins proved that he belonged in there by increasing his odds of winning, and proved that adding an extra competitor in the normal 6-Man Elimination Chamber match was the right thing to do.

Seth Rollins... Just, congratulations. You deserve this spotlight. This is the exact same spotlight I knew was yours to take had you left the dead weight behind that is Jason Jordan. I'm so worked right now. I know. I love you. So much.



I love Rollins so I had to talk about him a little extra, but now let's take a look at the bigger picture: this match not only did good for Rollins, but for everyone else, too. The order was well-structured and the results benefited everyone in it as it set a promising tone for what's to come in a few days at the pay-per-view. Let's break it down:

Roman Reigns and John Cena can take a loss any time and it wouldn't hinder the fact that they're two of the company's biggest stars—and they used that to make Seth Rollins look like an absolute beast. Elias then beats this power and elevated himself, showing everyone that it really is anyone's game. Finn Bálor had his time to shine as well when he defeated Elias, and was only eliminated by The Miz as the latter cheated his way through. The Miz, then again, proved himself to be a reasonable heel as he tried his best to run away from Braun Strowman, who shined by killing everyone, basically.

The way I see it, this was the last chance for all Chamber participants to make a statement. At that point, the match gave all Superstars a chip on their shoulders as well as a purpose. With the heels, I'm sure Elias entered that match saying, "if I can beat Seth Rollins, then I can beat Roman Reigns and John Cena, too," while The Miz brought his Miztourage with him and played dirty—desperate to win every match he's in. As for the faces, this was Seth Rollins' and Finn Bálor's shot to show that they belong with everyone else who had earned their spot in the match. Meanwhile, Reigns and Cena were there as established and untouchable forces to help make it look like the rest of these guys can hang in the same level as them.

Perhaps a promo would've done the trick to hype the match, but then we would've been given another formula episode of RAW—whereas this special gauntlet match gave people something to talk about and truly made it look like it was a go-home episode. Do you feel hyped yet? Because I sure do. Ultimately, if these guys can pull off a match like this on free TV, I can only imagine what they'd do inside that steel chamber.



Moving onto the women's Elimination Chamber match: the girls closed the show again! But this time, even as a woman, I wasn't even sure if that felt like a good idea. It admittedly had big shoes to fill after the Gauntlet Match—which was also pretty much the case for all the other matches that followed—and I didn't think a formula 6-Woman tag would've been able to do the job.

And I was right—it didn't. The match felt like it was one you'd normally see on the second hour that nobody cares about. It felt nothing like a main event, and it didn't feel like it was leading to something, either. The only thing interesting about it was how it ended, when all three alliances were made clear: Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville, Sasha Banks and Bayley, and the unlikely one in Mickie James and Alexa Bliss, which stirs the pot for their Chamber match this Monday. I still see no threat in Absolution, and the other two pairs of besties will find a way to eliminate each other again—so there still seems to be a clear winner in Alexa even after this go-home show.

This was an excellent first two hours of RAW—though because they put the gauntlet match first instead of last, everything that followed in the episode merely felt like an afterthought. Nevertheless, they managed to get me hyped for Elimination Chamber, especially for the men's match—with names so big and shocking results at the gauntlet match, they made the winner pretty unpredictable at this point which is the best way to build a match up. I grade this episode an A- and no, I swear I'm not biased! What are you talking about?


Quick Hitters:
  • I don't understand why Nia Jax kept her hair in a messy-ass bun like that as if there weren't like ten hair and makeup artists at the back to help her out with that.
  • There is something wrong with RAW's tag division right now as it's losing so much attention, and something desperately needs to be done. There are quite a few tag teams on RAW, but the problem is that they're barely used for something with meaning. It's time WWE creates compelling storylines revolving these titles!
  • There's also something about Dana Brooke with Titus Worldwide that I absolutely hate with every inch of my soul. You'd think she'd bring out the best in Titus O'Neil and Apollo—no more Crews—but Titus does the job by himself, and better than Dana. So what's the point? Her look is also...err, a bit inappropriate.
  • This is the part where they overdo the weird until it ironically becomes standard. Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt cut their exchanging promos—like we haven't seen those dozens of times already—to announce their match at Elimination Chamber. Yay?

Photos by WWE

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