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The Smark Henry RAW Review (1/28/19): Twice The Man



Remember when Seth Rollins used to call himself The Man? Well, that The Man won the Men's Royal Rumble match this year and confronted a former UFC Champion, who is currently the Universal Champion, and got himself a WrestleMania title shot. Another The Man won the Women's Royal Rumble match this year, too, and also chose to challenge a former UFC Champion for the RAW Women's Championship at WrestleMania. That's a lot of The Mans and a lot of former UFC Champions duking it out for WWE gold. That is, of course, unless something happens at Elimination Chamber and I get my Kingslayer versus Demon King match-up that I will never ever shut up about. Long shot? Worth a try.


That's probably the same sentiment Dean Ambrose had when he interrupted the opening segment that saw Seth Rollins try to celebrate his Royal Rumble victory, only for NXT Daddy Triple H to bug him about the identity of the champion he'll be challenging at WrestleMania

Would it be The Beast Incarnate, Universal Champion Brock Lesnar, fresh from his conquest of former Bullet Club leader Finn the Human Bálor in a pretty cool match at the Royal Rumble that saw Finn almost pull an Eddie Guerreroif only Braun Strowman came out to hit his finisher on Lesnar like Goldberg did in that reference? 

Or would it be The NEW Daniel Bryan, the WWE Champion, fresh from his conquest of former Bullet Club leader AJ Styles in a surprisingly just decent match at the Royal Rumble that saw both guys finding it hard to follow the 30-Woman Royal Rumble Match? 

I'll leave the whole Erick Rowan thing to our SmackDown reviewer Ricky Publíco to discuss, but the answer to the million-dollar question was Brock Lesnar. Of course it was always going to be Brock Lesnar... I think? What won't always be, however, is Dean's time with the WWE now that the company itself has confirmed that Ambrose would be pulling an Anthony Davis and not renew his contract, but at least he got to drop that father-in-law line here. Man, that was awesome. If that was a set-up for him facing Triple H at WrestleMania, then I am all in

Dean ended up challenging Seth and losing clean, though he didn't leave the ring happily. He ended up taking a steel chair and sitting in the middle of that ring to talk about, well, something, but we never found out what because Nia Jax, who entered the Men's Royal Rumble match and got ganged up on by Dolph Ziggler, Rey Mysterio, and Randy Ortonbest spot everinterrupted him. That Dean and Nia stand-off was intriguing, and perhaps Dean hitting her with Dirty Deeds would've been the better choice considering his character would've more or less gone down that path like Randy Orton did, but Nia and Taminaoh, my god, I forgot she was even therehad a match next, so I guess, uhm, Dean had to walk it off.

Later in the night, as Universal Champion Brock Lesnar and his advocate Paul Heyman cut a promo in the ring, Seth came out to confront The Beast Incarnate, but before Seth could officially challenge Brock, The Beast tossed Seth around, an obvious allusion to Lesnar's manhandling of Finn at the Royal Rumble. I think they're trying to make me feel about this segment the same way I did with Brock versus FinnHey, look! It's another plucky underdog bravely facing the giant monster that won't go awaybut all I got excited for was the idea of Seth versus Finn for the Universal Championship at WrestleMania. Kingslayer versus Demon King! Book it, Vince! 

To be fair, it's hard to portray Seth versus Brock this early on as something different from Finn versus Brock. He is the Goliath and Seth and Finn both work against him as his David. The only possible difference could be the fact that while Finn is currently a smiling, honorable dude in a pretty cool jacket, Seth would most likely once again bring out those cinder blocks and attempt to Curb Stomp Brock's face through them. I wouldn't be against that. I think that's the only edge Seth would have against Brock after The Beast already faced Finn who technically has the same style as Seth. I mean, both guys have Sling Blades and stomping finishers. Seth should learn from Finn's attempt against The Beast and bring more fire to his game.

That is unless Finn wins the Universal Championship at Elimination Chamber and I get that Kingslayer versus Demon King match at WrestleMania. Book it, Vince!


Speaking of championships at Elimination Chamberoh, my god, the hype is real!two teams from RAW have officially qualified for the WWE Women's Tag Team Championship Elimination Chamber match and I am so excited for this. 

Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan, while arguably having a mundane run, are an actual unit with Ruby Riott as the Riott Squad. If anything, their presence in that Elimination Chamber match would provide the chaos that we all want from Nikki Cross and Alicia Fox but better, plus this partnership actually makes more sense. 

Nia Jax and Tamina, while arguably not the best tag team in any reality, have great potential as a team not just with their intimidating build but also because of the fact that they're actually related by blood. Family members often have a natural advantage as tag teams. Just ask The Usos. 

Alexa Bliss and Mickie James could've been an interesting team prior to Bliss' injury but they're currently back to phase one, in need of more momentum, as Alexa has just returned from a horrible injuryand I'm not talking about A Moment of Bliss

Natalya was supposed to team up with Ember Moon but due to Moon's legit injury, she had to settle for Dana Brooke instead. Natalya and Dana are actually a pretty interesting team, but as they showed this week, they're not really used to teaming up yet and wouldn't have made sense to go over Morgan and Logan. Another interesting team would have been Natalya and NXT's Aliyah because cat lady and The Cat's Meow. Get it? Please don't fire me.

If you've never seen an Elimination Chamber match before, there are usually six competitorsor in this case, six teamswith two starting the match and the other four trapped in their respective chambers until it's their time to enter the bout. That said, RAW has two teams in that title match now and only one team remains to be named from the brand. I'm looking forward to which three teams SmackDown Live will end up with, though I'm a little sad we won't get Io Shirai and Kairi Sane. At least we'll have The IIconics. Probably. Hopefully. Vince, please, I am begging you.


Another thing I'm begging Vince for is RAW Women's Champion "Rowdy" Ronda Rousey getting more promo lessons. This week's was not good. Not one bit. Despite being a babyface, Rousey was booed by the crowd, with chants of "Becky! Becky! Becky!" getting thrown at her while she was giving mad props to the challenger she conquered at Royal Rumble, Sasha Banks. Rousey just smiling at that was disconcerting. It seemed like she wasn't taking the disrespect seriously, which just added to the confusion towards her actual character. She could be a bad-ass fighting champion in the vein of Stone Cold, dangerous in kayfabe as well as in reality. But as it stands, she's just giving us the dumber version of Finn Bálor's smiling character. 

Bayley would know a thing or two about how horrible that schtick can be, which was probably why she came outto help save Ronda from tanking further. Aside from challenging Ronda, of course—in Sasha's honor or whatever. The match was pretty good. I really liked the part where Bayley locked in the Banks Statement because it served as a sort of psychological attack on the champion, a reminder that she might be too overconfident by holding an Open Challenge just hours before that hard-hitting match with Sasha, as well as a possible stab at Sasha if it actually made Rousey tap. Of course, it wouldn't, but the implication remains: "I did you better, which makes me better." Yes, I'm still looking at this weird Sasha/Bayley thing as a passive-aggressive alliance that'll somehow culminate in another series of great matches between the two. One can dream.

After Ronda made Bayley tap, the dream came alive, with Becky Lynch coming out from the back to tell everyone she's now challenging "Ronnie" at WrestleMania. Becky's pop is still massive, which I hope will lead to her dethroning Ronda. Long shot? Eh. Rousey had a great line about breaking Becky's face faster than she can say "Nia Jax" but her delivery was not that great. Rousey talking about murdering Becky was also a little odd but maybe it was just because of the timing and the context. Prior to all of Ronda's posturing about her greatness and being a formidable fighter, we did just see her smiling and getting devoured by the fans' disrespect, seemingly like she wasn't taking things seriously. Clearly, Ronda still needs to work on her promos. Yelling gibberish while Becky was just smirking at her made for a somewhat awesome face-off, though, but it was leaning towards more in Becky's favor.   

RAW REVIEW: Aside from having two former UFC champions as current champions, RAW now has two The Mans in Seth Rollins and Becky Lynch. I liked the progression of the WWE Women's Tag Team Championships, with the two teams qualifying being the best choices they have at the moment. Baron Corbin and Drew McIntyre versus Braun Strowman as well as Finn Bálor versus Bobby Lashley and Lio Rush were nothing new, though, and both instances were basically just resetting the status quo of the aforementioned wrestlers. I'm giving this week's RAW a B for "Becky! Becky! Becky!"

Quick Hitters:
  • Building on last week's beatdown of Curt Hawkins by The Revival, Zack Ryder reunited with his former Edgehead and Major Brothers brother to lose the match, courtesy of Hawkins' losing streak. Of course, Hawkins was going to eat the pin. He's the one with the one with the losing streak. At least Ryder finally got himself a match on TV. The Revival should go on a streak of their own—a winning streak—so they can finally take those titles from Triple H 2.0 and Kurt Angle with hair. Top guy out.
  • Elias is a heel againfrom out of nowhereand he's feuding with both Jeff Jarrett and Road Dogg? Interesting. I'm not going to lie: Jarrett at the Royal Rumble was a hilarious surprise. I'm not that big of a fan of concerts in the middle of my wrestling shows, so I actually cheered when Elias took out both Double J and Road Dogg. Jarrett should be a great character for Elias to beat, considering he's also known to smash guitars on people's heads. Hmm. A Jarrett and Elias tag team could be hilarious, though, and it would've been a better version of the tag team championship storyline involving Shane McMahon and The Miz over on SmackDown Live.
  • After Baron Corbin beat Kurt Angle in surprising fashion, he aligned himself with Drew McIntyre by attacking Braun Strowman during their match. While that meant that Drew lost via disqualification, I guess he can say Braun didn't beat him clean? Man, they're really pulling all the stops to keep Drew away from the main event picture. I'm not cool with this Corbin and McIntyre alliance. We've seen this before, and against Braun as well, so I already hate it. Also, Drew doesn't even need Corbin. Drew's a war-hungry barbarian. He shouldn't be holding someone else's hand in the air. He should just Claymore everyone in the face.
  • Looks like we found out what's next for Finn Bálor after losing his title match at the Royal Rumble: an Intercontinental Championship program versus Bobby Lashley and Lio Rush. Wait, haven't we seen this before? The only real difference is that Bobby's now got a title. Le sigh. At least have Finn wrestle Lio this time around. SMH, right, Jaye Sera? 
  • Oh, and Mojo Rawley was blaming his reflection for his terrible RAW run backstage. Kind of like a reverse Mulan. A more aggressive, less sad Mulan? 
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. There's too many The Man on RAW now, but I'm not complaining.

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