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The Smark Henry RAW Report (4/16/18): Superstar Shakeup 2018


Alright, you guys. If you noticed, I didn't come out with an article last week. And I know what you're thinking: how the heck do you skip the RAW after WrestleMania, a.k.a. the biggest RAW of the year?! It's unforgivable, I know, but 'ya girl had so much finals work to do! *sobs* I'm so, so sorry.

But this week's episode was no less important than last week's. It's the Superstar Shakeup, meaning we've seen loads of new faces on the brand—whether from SmackDown Live or NXT—almost like another RAW after 'Mania. We were already blessed with a couple of NXT debuts last week, as well as a few crazy returns, but the Shakeup was thankfully able to top all of that.

Nobody is immune to the swap. Even champions can be switched just like that! They got rid of that randomized system they used to have when picking Superstars—you know, the one where they all had to sit in the locker room with those obnoxious brand shirts as if we didn't know where they belonged—so we now assume that all of it is hand-picked by each brand's Commissioner and General Manager. They don't even announce it anymore, either... They just pop up outta nowhere.



The show started off with Kurt Angle and The Maharajah, Jinder Mahal. And Sunil. Just Sunil. Now, this automatically gave me a heart attack because if the U.S. Championship were to be on RAW, that pretty much meant that the Intercontinental Championship would go to SmackDown... And Seth Rollins is the Intercontinental Champion. You guys, I immediately called out Ricky PublĂ­co—Smark Henry's SmackDown Live reviewer—to ask if we, too, could have a Shakeup of our own! I will follow my man wherever he goes, okay?! But thank goodness for Jeff Hardy, who, by the way, is the latest Grand Slam Champion, and also one of the newest SmackDown Live Superstars! Seth Rollins stays, after all.  



This week, they gave us Bayley vs. Sasha Banks. Why?! This is a feud that could be really hot if done right. They don't need to battle it out on free TV, nor tag with each other as if nothing had happened. They brawled so hard before WrestleMania—where did that aggressive tension go? This was then a useless and anticlimactic match, with a useless and anticlimactic finish. Uh, hi, Riott Squad. You're basically Absolution 2.0. Carbon copy, really. Next...



Speaking of the women, WWE apparently wants us to forget that Natalya was ever heel as she's now working with Ronda Rousey. Sudden turn aside, it's actually nice to see Ronda interact with the other women of the roster and slowly integrating herself into storylines with the rest. (Nice try, Sonya Deville. Cute.) Although I would love it more if Ronda was having actual matches on RAW already, but even I know that she probably isn't ready for that at all yet. Although, I totally see Nattie turning on Ronda down the line, getting them to feud with one another. I mean, what better way than to work with your teachers when starting out, right?



We know that The Miz has been moved to SmackDown! Years in the making, we can now get ourselves the feud we've always wanted to see in The Miz vs. Daniel Bryan, so there's not much to mourn here. We also learned that Miz was going there alone, allowing them to finally write off the relationship he has with Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas. During the explosive main event 10-Man tag team match, the Miztourage finally abandoned Miz, which was a pretty great way to send the latter off into the Vlue Brand. Hopefully they have bigger plans for the Miztourage, but something in me is telling me they don't... Oh well. We'll see!



So I'm pretty sure the biggest pop of the night was Drew McIntyre aiding Dolph Ziggler in attacking Titus Worldwide. Drew dominated NXT in 2017 becoming Champion at TakeOver Brooklyn: III, but then an injury at TakeOver: War Games set back his career again. But he's now back on RAW after roughly four years, and damn he's so much taller than I ever thought he was. Or is Dolph Ziggler super short? Either way, the height difference is crazy, and it's something I couldn't un-see.



Samoa Joe buried the crap out of our supposed babyface, Roman Reigns. Unless they're making us all feel bad for Reigns, then it's working because all I feel is pity. Samoa Joe owned him in that promo, legitimately putting the Big Dog in his place with such simple words: while Reigns still insisted on Brock Lesnar staying home all the time and being a bad champion, Joe threw him off the rails and said how despite always showing up to work, Reigns still never got the job done. Bruh. Where is the lie? How is Reigns ever going to redeem himself at this point, especially with all those boos that come in his way?

Overall, RAW's part of the Superstar Shakeup wasn't that bad. We officially have:

* Jinder Mahal w/Sunil Singh
* The Riott Squad
* Sami Zayn & Kevin Owens
* The Fashion Police
* Natalya
* Dolph Ziggler
* Drew McIntyre
* The Ascension
* Baron Corbin
* Zack Ryder
* Mike Kanellis
* Bobby Roode
* Chad Gable
* Mojo Rawley

with last week's NXT additions and surprise returns:

* Ember Moon
* The Authors of Pain
* Bobby Lashley

It's like a video game where we just unlocked all these new characters and can't wait to play with them! That's what it had felt like these past few weeks on RAW, with debut after debut! People are still trying to sink their teeth into these surprises, so not all feuds are yet set in stone. We have yet to see where these other Superstars will go, and what RAW Creative has in store for them. Yikes. I hope they don't mess it up. I give this episode a B!


Quick Hitters:
  • The Fashion Police are on RAW now, and I couldn't be happier! I've waited so long for this. I couldn't stop yelling out "yaaaaassss" when they made a statement and beat The Bar. But then again, it's not too much of a statement if The Bar keeps losing every week, anyway.
  • Ember Moon vs. Mickie James wasn't the most memorable match, until the Eclipse finish. What a freakin' sell. I thought she died or something. Mickie James is MVP!
  • You can't tell me that No Way Jose isn't Adam Rose 2.0. Or Dominican Fandango.
  • Why is Absolution still using Paige's theme, dammit?! Don't they have their own?!

Photos by WWE

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