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The Smark Henry RAW Review (11/12/18): Under Siege 2018



Wait, this was supposed to be RAW's go-home show for Survivor Series? Man, I thought the build-up would be much longer. Oh, right. That weird nostalgia fever nightmare of a PPV happened. Ugh. What a waste of a Survivor Series promo. Now we have to contend with people getting crammed into teams, team captains just announcing their members like in real life, and Stephanie McMahon playing Triple H to Team RAW: Sausagefest Edition. It's too real to me, damn it! Wait, what's that loud screaming? Someone should check on that, and by someone, I mean someone with a taser.


Let's get down to it. Braun Strowman is a butthole. I know they wanted to emphasize Braun as a Monster Among Men... but at the expense of RAW's tag team division? Again? It's not like we needed that reminder, anyway. Braun has consistently proven he is an angry bully with no regard for anyone's health or well-being. He didn't really need to take RAW hostage, too. He could've just barged into RAW Acting GM Baron Corbin's office and attacked him like good old not-yet-a-mayor Kane. I guess they really wanted to give Stephanie McMahon that in-ring presence. Still, why wait to attack the tag division when he could've just attacked Corbin backstage and dragged his butt into the ring to take him and RAW hostage? I think it would've worked just as fine without the need to piss all over RAW's tag team division.

Does this officially make Steph a tweener, though? For all her toxic boss maneuverings and her many attempts to boost her ego before her employees, she does actually know good business, and she can smell it a mile away. To Steph, Corbin's less important than shoving that Best in the World trophy up her brother's butt. To do that, she'd need RAW's resident murderous monster on her side. Unfortunately, RAW's monster has his demands, so Steph, being the best businesswoman that she is, placated the monster's demands. It's what's best for business—to Steph, anyway. Hopefully, she doesn't cross Strowman because we all know what happens when you cross Braun, right, Kevin Owens? Steph getting thrown off a ladder might be pretty cool, though. Hmm.


Thankfully, they redid that tag team battle royal later in the night, the same one the Logistics Nightmare Among Men crashed. SmackDown Live already determined the leaders of their Survivor Series tag team team, so we're really lagging behind, Team RAW! Bobby Roode and Chad Gable ended up standing tall to become Team RAW's tag team team team captains (nailed it) in a fun match that wasn't what I had in mind when I said the tag team division needed a bigger piece of the spotlight but I'll happily take it. The Revival better be a part of this team because wait, did they just promote Lucha House Party to RAW to out-three-man-team The New Day? Huh. I don't know about you but the tag team version of the classic Survivor Series elimination match has been both fun and excessive to me. There are too many people in this version, to be honest. One thing's for sure, it'll probably be more fast and furious than anything.


During that hostage crisis of a RAW opener, RAW Women's Champion and the Baddest Bitch on the Planet, "Rowdy" RAWnda Rousey, interrupted Stephanie McMahon's grandstanding to address her Survivor Series opponent, the SmackDown Women's Champion and The Man, Becky Lynch. Ronda's short and sweet assertion of showing Becky how arm-snatching should be done was amazing. Terrifying Steph and flipping Corbin over like Ronda did Triple H earlier this year was also amazing. Rousey knocking Becky's pre-wrestling journey as well as her emotions, though? Not so much.  

I thought that was a weird call for a babyface, unless this was actually the start of that rumored Four Horsewomen showdown at WrestleMania. Considering 3/4 of Rousey's Horsewomen are currently active in NXT, perhaps all of Rousey's mocking of Becky's pre-wrestling jobs could be a hint that this feud's seeds are already being planted. That said, Rousey knows that Becky's "The Man" schtick is a Ric Flair reference, right? WWE knows that, too, right? Oh, no.


This week's contractually obligated Brock Lesnar appearanceyes, he's WWE Universal Champion againfeatured Paul Heyman naturally praising his client before mocking Strowman while... not mocking him? Braun taking so many F-5s isn't really that much of an insult if you think about it, especially since he tried to get back up after every single one of those F-5s. Or so I've heard.

Heyman then addressed AJ Styles, referencing last year's Styles versus Lesnar match, and promised him the beating of a lifetime. Ugh. If that's a spoiler, then it'll be a really boring match, one that's going to be a waste of AJ's talents. 

It's interesting that they had Jinder Mahal interrupt Heyman, though, but I guess they just wanted to remind us that he was the champ before AJ. No reminders needed here, to be honest. Jinder is a great worker, sure, but his reign was pretty meh. In the end, Lesnar destroyed Jinder and his boy toys, and that was all The Beast wrote.


Alexa Bliss announced her picks for Team RAW's women's team. Mickie James was already out with her and we all saw this a mile away, but Nia Jax and Tamina Snuka? I did tell you Bliss was a smart woman. Bliss said Survivor Series was going to be personal, so I couldn't help but think she's compensating for her injury. She's not getting to actually compete in that match, so instead, she'll manage the most dominant Survivor Series team ever. At least that's what she implied. 

Bliss mentioning she wanted to put her differences with Jax in the past seemed to reference the rumors of actual backstage heat between the two women. Otherwise, it would've been a bit odd to make everyone realize that Nia is the female Big Show. She was the babyface in that feud with Bliss, and now she's a heel. So many turns, so little time. Make up your mind, Nia!

Team RAW: Women's Edition is apparently Natalya, Mickie James, Tamina Snuka, Nia Jax and whoever comes out victorious from the ashes of BaySash. Spoiler alert: It was neither of them. Despite BaySash giving that match their all, Alexa's Team RAW decided to go full heel, with Tamina, Nia, and Mickie beating BaySash down. The real fifth member of Team RAW's women's team? Ruby Riott! Wait, Natalya's still on this team, right? Alexa, what is you doin?! To be fair, this is a pretty good line-up. With veterans in Natalya and Mickie James, familial ties between Snuka and Jax, Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan always around Ruby Riott, and a mastermind heel in Bliss, this team is unbeatable. Oh, wait, Team SmackDown has Asuka and Charlotte Flair? We're doomed, especially if the ending of this week's RAW was a preview of things to come.

SmackDown Women's Champion Becky Lynch led a women's invasion of RAW in this week's closing moments, which I should've expected but didn't. This legit surprised and woke me up. Becky victimizing RAW Women's Champion Ronda Rousey backstage, even locking the Disarm-Her on her, was brilliant. It not only legitimized Becky as a dangerous foe for Rousey but also cemented her as a SmackDown stalwart. Team SmackDown followed their leader into the fray, brawling with the rest of RAW's superior stock (hey, I need to keep to the brand supremacy theme, okay?). 

I popped when I saw the IIconics and winced when I realized Becky was bleeding from her beautiful bad-ass face. Thanks a lot, Nia. Ronda tried to join the battle like a valiant one-woman cavalry or an angry dragon woken from its sleep, depending on which team you're supporting, but was neutralized by Becky's steel chair. I don't know about you but this clearly showed me the difference between Becky as locker room leader and Rousey as celebrity wrestler: Becky united and led her locker room to this successful attack of RAWdamn it, Beckywhile Ronda spent most of the night talking on the microphone and getting interviewed backstage. 

Ronda's focus heading into Survivor Series has been on her own Champion versus Champion match, which is actually logical considering she's in that match to prove she's the better women's champion. Plus, Ronda doesn't really get along with Bliss or Steph, both taking leadership roles in the traditional Survivor Series matches. Then again, Becky's sworn enemy, Charlotte Flair, also participated in SmackDown Live's assault of RAW. This basically shows that despite personal animosity, Becky can still work with her locker room like the leader she is, perhaps owing to her experiences in the indies, while Ronda's instincts led her to focusing mostly on herself, perhaps owing to her experiences in MMA. 

RAW REVIEW: Maybe it's just me not being used to such a short lead-up to Survivor Series, a PPV event that's technically second only to WrestleMania, but I felt like it could've done with a much longer build-up. Sure, we can attribute this rushed build to WWE having only 16 days between the this year's Survivor Series and the PPV it followed, whereas last year, Survivor Series had a month of lead-up. Still, it reeks of poor planning, especially if you keep in mind how WWE kept plugging Crown Jewel during WWE Evolution's lead-up. Even when controversy became too much for them, they simply dropped naming Crown Jewel's location and even advertised the PPV at WWE Evolution itself. That sure went well. Survivor Series definitely deserves better. Maybe it doesn't just pay better, though. At least when compared to the PPV it followed this year.

(SPOILER ALERT) With SmackDown Women's Champion Becky Lynch off the card due to injury during her RAW raid and Daniel Bryan replacing AJ Styles after becoming the new WWE Champion on SmackDown Live, this year's Survivor Series suddenly feels like a high school kid cramming for a really important exam. Injuries are unavoidable, sure, but arguments can be made against what seemed to be a very stiff elbow from Nia Jax. Her history of being "unsafe" doesn't help her cause.

Bryan replacing Styles at the last minute felt a little off and honestly a bit concerning. I sensed Bryan was going for a heel turn after last week's SmackDown Live but I never imagined he'd go full heel and steal the title a few days later. Also, why is AJ Styles still not wearing a cup? Has he learned nothing from his feud with Shinsuke Nakamura? Hopefully, Brock Lesnar doesn't completely destroy Bryan at Survivor Series. Maybe Bryan gets himself disqualified to survive that match, though? That would be a more effective heel move than just bringing Brie along. (SPOILER ALERT)

That said, I'm pretty excited for the PPV, which I guess means RAW did a good job hyping it up on their go-home show? Both Bliss' Team RAW and Corbin/Steph's Team RAW are intriguing. You can actually sufficiently argue for or against either of these teams winning for the Red Brand come Monday (Manila time). Just a little caveat: What about Team RAW's tag team team? Oh, what? Pre-show? Yikes. I'm giving this week's RAW a B for "Becky Lynch makes everything good." (Draft her to RAW, Steph!) 

Quick Hitters:
  • Tamina and Nia Jax, the Cousins of Samoan Destruction, intimidated RAW Women's Champion Ronda Rousey later on in the show. Before that, though, Tamina beat Ember Moon. Yep. You read that right. Tamina beat a former NXT Women's Champion. That wouldn't really be a problem to me if Tamina was getting her own push, but let's be honest here, she's simply being used to put Nia Jax over, and Nia Jax herself is simply being used to put Ronda Rousey over. Nia deserves better. Tamina deserves better. Most importantly, Ember deserves better. Can you just imagine if they gave Ember the title and went all in on her supernatural hunter wolf gimmick? That would be amazing.
  • Promo master Elias faced Chris Masters Bobby Lashley for a Survivor Series team spot, in which Lio Rush continued to be Lio Rush. I'm just glad this wasn't Finn Bálor versus Bobby Lashley for the nth time. Man, those two have been fighting for what seems like forever now and I still don't know why. Is it to determine who has better abs? Why can't it be Rush versus Bálor instead? That said, Elias and Lio are hilarious! Whoever's kid he is, he made sure to give Lashley this win by holding Elias' leg like an old-school Hornswoggle. Ah, good times.
  • Did you guys think we'd hear from Kurt Angle right away? After the humiliation Drew McIntyre subjected him to last week? Ha! You gullible marks. ZigMc came out to mock Angle in a promo that saw Drew, as millennials put it, on fiyaaah. Finn Bálor interrupted, though, because last week's encounter between him and Drew was pretty cool. Finn challenged Drew to a match but faced Ziggler instead, beating Dolph despite a "leg injury," much to Drew's chagrin. Steph, however, apparently liked Finn's argument against Drew and gave him a Survivor Series team spot backstage, much to Corbin's chagrin. Steph is really taking control over the men's team here. Corbin's fucked up.
  • Poor, Dolph Ziggler. He got robbed by Shane McMahon during that World Cup tournament and now he's on a two-week losing streak. Last week, it was Elias. This week, it was Bálor. I wonder who beats him next week? The roles have also been noticeably reversed, with McIntyre no longer looking like Dolph's heavy. Drew has taken his place front and center in this partnership, with Ziggler relegated to hapless sidekick. Drew might consider facing Finn, who he says isn't on his level, if he manages to beat Dolph? Does that mean Drew also considers Dolph below his level? Yikes. The Show-Off didn't look too pleased with the events of this week. Someone's getting superkicked from out of nowhere.
  • Natalya, who's part of Alexa Bliss' Team RAW by the way, was scheduled to face Ruby Riott in the ring. Riott, however, had other plans. After breaking the glasses once owned by Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart—Nattie's dad if you've been living under a rock—the cold-hearted leader of her own squad cut a promo that started with praises for Natalya and ended with remorseless evil. Cue the vengeful Neidhart daughter who snuck up behind the Squad until the numbers game sealed her fate. Thanks for the assist, BaySash. Much appreciated.
  • Last week, Seth Rollins lost the RAW Tag Team Championships to AOP in a two-on-one handicap match before his supposed tag team partner, Dean Ambrose, laid him out. It's cool, though. Rollins still has the Intercontinental Championship and a Champion versus Champion match against United States (of Nak-America) Champion Shinsuke Nakamura at Survivor Series, which could very well steal that show. Corey Graves held an in-ring interview with Seth because why not? After Seth implied he still wanted answers from Dean and Graves reminded everyone that Ambrose has never been good with words, the Lunatic Fringe appeared on the TitanTron to explain his actions. LMAO NOPE! Dean claimed that he owed no one nothing, that The Shield made him weak, and set his Shield vest on fire. Burn it down. Ouch. This was one of the highlights of this week's show. Unfortunately, Dean versus Seth isn't on the menu at Survivor Series, though I'm pretty sure Dean will get involved in Seth's match somehow. This bad blood is just starting to boil. Again.
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 knows that RAW is RAWnda Rousey (I'm not sorry for this).

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