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The Smark Henry RAW Report (5/14/18): From Big Dog to Underdog?


Monday Night RAW was taped in London this week and proceeded with more Money In The Bank qualifying matches. I don't think I've seen as many Triple Threats in a span of a couple of weeks. It's nuts. We also noted last week that Seth Rollins' Intercontinental Championship open challenge was going to be a weekly thing—so Kevin Owens answered that in advanced for us this week.


But before all that, let's start with Roman Reigns. I'm digging the idea of him feuding with Jinder Mahal, but only if done right. You know, there was a time when I enjoyed watching Reigns—he's actually a pretty good wrestler and can do well on the mic when given the chance. I think people are booing him insanely at the moment not because WWE is pushing Reigns the wrestler, but pushing this awful story that just doesn't fit.

Reigns—known for being one of Vince McMahon's most protected Superstars—can't just go out there and play victim all the time like he did this week, when he was making paawa and telling everybody he was robbed of his opportunities to win. To have him portray an underdog and go against management despite being known as management's pet in real life simply isn't believable—it's not fooling anybody and it's making people pretty angry!

I mean, London didn't hesitate to express how they felt about Reigns—it's hilarious how Michael Cole always tries to save the situation by claiming the city's just bizarre with odd reactions, but then he goes on and says that every single week about every city they go to.


Next, the Intercontinental Championship Open Challenge personally didn't excite me as much this week, mostly because the challenge was accepted by Kevin Owens in advance, thus taking away some of the suspense of who could walk out the curtain. I never doubted this match, though, and I knew it was going to turn out really great—and I was right! It didn't disappoint, and it was probably one of, if not the best Owens match this year. The finish was cool, and it was like Seth Rollins channeled his inner-Randy Orton, with his Stomp coming "out of nowhere," retaining the title in the process.

Speaking of Owens, he continued to be the huge pain in the ass to General Managers, threatening Kurt Angle with a phone call to his boss, Stephanie McMahon. I had almost felt the frustration in Angle—if I were me, I would've already punched Owens in the face for being such an annoying, spoiled brat.


One important thing to retain from this episode was that—just like that—our RAW Women's Championship match has been set. It wasn't even done on RAW, it was at the NBCUniversal Upfront event in New York City, a press conference off-TV.

The champ, Nia Jax, was the one who challenged Ronda Rousey with the latter being really modest about it, saying that the other girls deserve a shot at the title more than her. It was sort of a friendly, polite challenge, and it was basically an entire story that was shortened to 30 seconds. It's kind of a shame because I'm a huge fan of compelling storylines with lots of provocation, instead of those polite face vs. face matches... But I suppose I could let this one slide just because it's Ronda, and I guess any match from her is considered a showcase just because it's still pretty much a rare thing.

I know a lot of people on the Internet are thinking this isn't fair, and that Ronda has done nothing to earn her shot. That's... not wrong. But, well, I'm sure WWE kept that in mind, and it's why they played this out the way they did. If anything, though, I feel like what annoys me the most about this is the fact that she's so nice and humble with it—if they were going to give her this opportunity either way, I think I'd actually prefer if she acted like the badass that she is and made all the noise she could.


One MITB qualifying match on the men's side was Bobby Roode vs. Baron Corbin vs. No Way Jose—RAW's newbies, in a nutshell. The winner of this match was an absolute no-brainer, and there would've been no reason for the other two to win: there's been no momentum for No Way Jose for him to win the opportunity, and Baron Corbin lost his cash-in last year so putting him in the MITB match is kind of anticlimactic.


The other qualifying match was the main event featuring Elias vs. Bobby Lashley vs. Jinder Mahal Kevin Owens. Yup, Owens got what he wanted and was able to replace Mahal after The Maharaja was injured by Roman Reigns earlier that night. I actually felt more sympathy for Mahal than I did for Reigns—it's just such a mean and uncontrollable thing to do on Reigns' part! Owens won the whole thing, granting him a spot in the upcoming MITB match.


On the women's side of things, Alexa Bliss won the MITB qualifying match against Bayley and Mickie James. Was it just me, or were there more commercials on the women's matches than there were with the others? Hmm. That said, it was a little difficult to be invested in this match because of it. Either way, I think the winner was fine—not in the way you probably think she's fine—because Bayley can then continue whatever she's doing with Sasha Banks, and Mickie James, well, didn't really need the win more than Alexa did.


The rest of the show was mostly made up of Tag Team matches. One of them was an interesting one in Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre vs. Finn Bálor and... Braun Strowman, everybody. What was even more shocking was how Ziggler and McIntyre actually won against them—and I think it was such a great way for them to make an even bigger statement and get themselves more over. I'm rooting for them!


Sasha Banks, Natalya, and Ember Moon teamed up against The Riott Squad, and I wasn't even surprised that the former won. Those three are basically RAW's most talented girls—it's crazy how good and quick they are. This was a good match, but didn't really benefit any of them—with Ember in the women's MITB match and Nia Jax already defending her title against Ronda Rousey, there isn't much left for these other girls to do but to just wrestle each other. Gosh, I wonder what other interesting feuds they could come up with the remaining girls that would be pay-per-view-worthy?! Do you have any ideas, guys?!


I didn't understand why Bobby Lashley talked about his family so much in the interview that he did last week. It was irrelevant and it wasn't connected to anything—until now. Sami Zayn cut this entire promo—man, what an entertainer he is—mentioning Lashley and his family, saying he even invited his sisters via Facebook... Oh, man. I don't know where this is going but Sami's pretty funny despite being slightly creepy, so this is one of the storylines to stay tuned to.


Speaking of funny, what was once The Miztourage is now called The B-Team. They meant well, you guys. It's honestly so cute. If they can work more with fellow-comedy team Breezango, that would make great comedic segments to put smiles on everybody's faces! Wow, so wholesome.

The show was actually so much better than last week's, with much quirkier promos and storylines actually moving forward. We're still on the road to the Money In The Bank pay-per-view, and it's shaping up to be pretty awesome on RAW's side so far: Finn Bálor, Braun Strowman, Bobby Roode and Kevin Owens for the men's one, and Ember Moon and Alexa Bliss for the women's one. Not too shabby, if you ask me. I grade this episode a B!

Quick Hitters:
  • If Seth Rollins isn't Superstar Of The Year, I don't know who is.
  • It makes me sad that The Revival once was the hottest, most talked-about tag team on NXT, and now, I have ten times more hope for the B-Team than I do for these guys.
  • I don't even know who's creepier at this point: Bobby Lashley talking about his family like a serial killer, or Sami Zayn stalking Bobby's family. Will this end up bloody? I clearly have Riverdale's season finale on my mind today. Send help.

Photos by WWE

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