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The Smark Henry RAW Review (10/29/18): Trick or Threat



Fresh from last week's emotional RAW, Team Red had their work cut out for them this week. Not only did they have to build up from that heart-wrenching betrayalwhy, Dean?! Why?!but they also had to contend with more Crown Jewel hype in the midst of intense controversy. Oh, joy. At least WWE Evolution was awesome, am I right? My god, the second ever Last Woman Standing match was pretty amazing—I mean, uhh, Ronda's title match against Nikki Bella was way better, Becky. #TeamRed for life! Nailed it.


Acting RAW General Manager Baron Corbin opened this week's show with the vacated WWE Universal Championship on his shoulder. Congratulations, Vacant. I liked how Corbin addressed the Reigns situation here, separating the personal from the professional like a, well, professional. Corbin is still a heel, after all, and the Shield has been a thorn in his side, especially Roman Reigns, who beat him up during Corbin's self-booked title match. So because he's still a heel, and because Braun Strowman's a tweener now despite committing several crimes in his career, the Monster Among Men destroyed Corbin in the same segment. Finn Bálor obviously enjoyed that 100%.

Paul Heyman shushing Corbin so he can do his schtick was hilarious. As expected, Heyman hyped the one-on-one championship bout between Braun and Heyman's client, Brock Lesnar, well. Unfortunately, not even Heyman's miraculous voice could chase away all the controversy surrounding Crown Jewel from the back of my mind. Besides that, the image of Brock manhandling Braun to prevent the then-Monster in the Bank's cash-in does not inspire any high hopes for their title match. If we can learn anything from the last time Braun and Brock faced each other in a one-on-one PPV match, it's that all it takes is one F5. Thankfully, Braun got back up after this one. Will that be the same at Crown Jewel? Your guess is as good as mine.


Speaking of another Crown Jewel match that I'm not really looking forward to, Bobby Lashley has officially replaced John Cena in the WWE World Cup tournament at Crown Jewel. Rumors have been swirling all over the Internet regarding Cena's status for the PPV. This week, we had Corbin confirm those rumors by replacing Cena with Lashley because... Lashley beat up Finn Bálor pretty well? Even though, Bálor technically won that match? Because Lio Rush kept interfering on Lashley's behalf since Lashley couldn't get the job done on his own against Finn the Human Bálor? Okay then. Sounds flimsy but it's really hard to care at this point, considering that this supposed "World Cup" is mostly filled with Americans. It's more of a World Series than an actual World Cup, to be honest. Sigh.


WWE Evolution, despite the lack of any real build-up and advertising from WWE, was an amazing PPV. Io Shirai versus Toni Storm in the Mae Young Classic Finals was amazing. Kairi Sane versus Shayna Baszlerdamn you, Baszler!for the NXT Women's Championship was amazing. Becky Lynch versus Charlotte Flair for the SmackDown Women's Championship in the second-ever Last Women Standing Match was amazing. Even Ronda Rousey's match against Nikki Bella for the RAW Women's Championship wasn't that bad. That Battle Royal was also not bad, having its fair share of character-focused spots that I very much enjoyed. No Evolution light blue belt a la Greatest Royal Rumble's green title belt, though? 

That said, building up on that success, we got a ten-woman tag team match featuring the Riott Squad, Mickie James, and Alicia Foxwith my ex-girlfriend Alexa Bliss at ringsidecoming together to face the menace of the undying BaySashtheir Evolution match was actually better than I expectedplus Natalya and Hall of Famers Trish Stratus and Lita. You still got it! Of course the faces were winning this match, though I was surprised Natalya picked up the pin instead of either Trish or Lita. Interesting.

I appreciated WWE trying to feature more women than ever; but the women being constrained to at most only two matches per night isn't going to work anymore. Evolution has shown that there is indeed depth in the WWE's women division and it's just waiting to be brought out into the light.


On a different note, what's happening with the RAW Tag Team Championships? Double champion Seth Rollins doesn't want his. Dean Ambrose doesn't want his. Couldn't we have given them to a tag team that actually wants and deserves to be champions? Oh, right. The Revival is busy getting trampled by the Lucha House Party this week (fun match, though). 

Rollins addressing his own betrayal of the Shield four years ago was a great way to add more depth to this feud. Ambrose playing mind games with Rollins, refusing to give him any sort of answer he badly craved, was equally brilliant. Rollins verbally taking the helm here was not a bad choice either. Dean's a good promo, too, but remaining quiet about his true motives and intentions only enhances his heel work. It's either very cerebral or just flat-out cold-hearted. 

Rollins tried his best to get his former Shield brother to talk, from drawing sympathy to exhibiting pure anger. Seth's emotions may have clouded his better judgment regarding Dean's turn on the same night Roman had to walk away due to leukemia; but his cunning intellect should make him realize that it was most definitely the perfect opportunity for the Lunatic to hit him where it hurt. After all, Rollins was the architect of the Shield's downfall in 2014, destroying it on a night no one expected anything of the sort to happen.


Kane and The Undertaker, The Brothers of Destruction. Triple H and Shawn Michaels, DX. Both pairs of men are on the same show this week, so shenanigans were to be expected. After the Destructo-bros cut a spine-chilling promo on murdering and torturing DX that was both perfect for Halloween and tone-deaf because the controversy surrounding Crown Jewel—where they plan to murder and torture their opponents—DX did a really DX thing by sucker-superkicking The Dead Man after Triple H tricked Kane into going after him. Classic DX. I can't lie: I chuckled for a bit because of that. Ah, good times. But then Taker sat right up and I sat still on the edge of my bed, concerned for all my non-biological grandpas. Someone better not elbow drop someone else through the announcers' table, for Michelle McCool's sake. 

RAW REVIEW: Caught between the highs of the recently concluded WWE Evolution and the lows of the upcoming and much-shunned WWE Crown Jewel, this week's RAW walked a tightrope with a lot of stumbles along the way. It's understandable that Rollins barely mentioned Crown Jewel in his promo, while fitting the Lashley replacement of Cena at Crown Jewel in the narrative was an inspired choice, even though that PPV isn't really that inspiring. Still, I'm looking forward to more of the Seth-Dean drama and the Lucha House Party changing things up in the tag division in the coming weeks. Overall, I'm giving this week's RAW a C for "Crown Jewel can't Cena." Get it? See... Ce-na? Never mind.  

Quick Hitters:
  • We're getting a Champion Versus Champion Match at Survivor Series between RAW Women's Champion Ronda Rousey and SmackDown Women's Champion Becky Lynch? That's a good thing, right? So why do I have mixed feelings about this?
  • Nia Jax and Ember Moon's "friendship" continues to take a dive this week because of some sort of squabble during a backstage interview. Jax is turning it up a notch on her heel-mo-meter, I see. Considering she's facing a babyface Rousey for the RAW Women's title post-Survivor Series, that's to be expected. Is Tamina Snuka going to be Jax's first prey, though? I mean, after Ember Moon? Seems like it. Unless they end up teaming together for the unconfirmed women's tag team championship that I so definitely crave.
  • Disgraced RAW GM Kurt Angle vowed to win the Crown Jewel World Cup Series not to prove he has one more match in him, but to prove that he's the best in the worldcue "CM Punk!" chants. Dolph Ziggler took that idea further and one-upped his hero by actually beating someoneApollo Crewsin the ring on the same show to prove just that. Ziggler is definitely not winning that tournament, but at least he'll provide some grade-A entertainment to that PPV's audience.
  • Bobby Roode and Chad Gable surprisingly beat both The Ascension and AOP in a triple threat tag team match. I thought AOP had this match won, to be honest, on account of them being AOP. Roode and Gable might've come out the winners, but 205 Live GM and AOP Manager Drake Maverick still had the last laugh because in the end, AOP always destroys everyone in that ring. Everyone. 
  • Elias is clearly a tweener, not a face. That much is certain with him brushing off fangirl Dana Brooke's request for him to sing her a song. He might've been acting more like a face with that in-ring promo, with the intent to annoy the living hell out of everyone's least favorite Acting RAW GM. And that ambush from Jinder Mahal, who has both Singh Brothers backing him up once again, was also something a babyface would go through. But tiny tidbits like breaking Dana Brooke's fangirl heart ensures he wouldn't be too much of a face. He's better off as a tweener, that much is true.
  • Lucha House Party debuted this week on RAW, following in the footsteps of their 205 Live GM Drake Maverick and Bobby Lashley hype man, Lio Rush. At the expense of The Revival, though? Yikes. Still, this was a fun debut, and I'm all for these luchadors staying for the long run. It's not like WWE has a great history with luchador stables, anyway, right, Mexicools? Where is my NXT Mexico, Triple H?
Images from WWE


*****

Jofer Serapio (@ShawarmaJoereviews WWE RAW & NXT UK for Smark Henry. He has been an avid professional wrestling fan since grade school. These reviews are as close to professional wrestling as he can get. He's still waiting for the unconfirmed NXT Mexico.

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