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The Smark Henry RAW Review (1/21/19): Mike Kanellis Fears Brock Lesnar



Okay, let me explain: Universal Champion Brock Lesnar was on RAW this week, so of course his advocate, Paul Heyman, wasn't far behind. Heyman cut a fantastic promo to open this week's show and hype the Universal title match at the Royal Rumble between Lesnar and NXT UK's favorite cameo, Finn Bálor. Heyman even dropped my favorite line of the year, "Even miracles fear Brock Lesnar." You know who else was called The Miracle? Mike Kanellis. Mike Kanellis facing Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania for the Universal Championship confirmed! Also on this week's RAW was the teased reunion of The Edgeheads, Heavy Machinery's in-ring debut, and Alexa Bliss returning to action at the Royal Rumble. Calm yourself, Otis!


The first thing that came to my mind when The Revival and Mr. McMahon appeared together backstage was "Oh, no, they're asking for their release during WWE programming." Cue that Cody Rhodes GIF from Being The Elite. I thought it was a little awkward that The Revival would go with backstage politics to handle their affairs when we've seen them just maul people in the parking lot

Curt Hawkins being named special guest referee for their nth match against RAW Tag Team Champions Bobby Roode and Chad Gable, however, was a welcome surprise. First, Heath Slater, and now Curt Hawkins? Is everyone who's being paid to just hang out backstage going to play referee now? Does that mean we're getting No Way Jose and a conga line of referees next week?

A bigger surprise? Curt Freaking Hawkins being the highlight of the actual match between the champs and The Revival. Who knew that this guy, with his legendary losing streak, would make such an attentive referee? The Revival tried to make Glorious Gable pay by humiliating them with a loss via heel tactic after heel tactic, but nothing escaped Curt's hawkish eyesight. Each and every single attempt The Revival made to cheat to win, Hawkins saw and denied. That winning count was rather fast, though. 

Dash and Dawson weren't cool with the loss, so they beat Hawkins up after the match, only for Zack Ryder to make the save. Oh my god, it's an Edgeheads reunion! They're going to win the tag team titles at WrestleMania with Edge as their valet, aren't they?! No? Okay, see you in AEW then.


Perhaps to make up for that hilarious but weird first appearance on RAW and that equally hilarious but weird first appearance on SmackDown, Otis Dozovic and Tucker Knight, collectively known as Heavy Machinery, made their in-ring debut on the main roster by taking out The Ascension. This would've been a fantastic showdown years ago if The Ascension still mattered like they did when they were at NXT. They were pretty much a big deal then and had a long winning streak going for them. Now they're just... here. 

Having Heavy Machinery compete here was a much better way to get them over than having Otis mimic a goblin during that episode of A Moment of Bliss. I mean, Otis is damn charismatic on his own, as evidenced by the fact that people didn't get sour over that first RAW appearance. Plus, his in-ring style and acumen are endearing and entertaining enough to draw people to him without the need for confusion. Heavy Machinery has enough interesting spots up their sleevesOtis' Caterpillar-Worm thing is oddly beautifulto make squash matches watchable.


This week's A Moment of Bliss featured the Women's Royal Rumble Match by revealing that all of the women from both the RAW and SmackDown rosters were basically in it. Okay, maybe not everyone. Some of them have to compete for the RAW and SmackDown Women's Championships, obviously. Still, it's kind of expected that most of them would be in the Rumble, and rightfully so, considering that WWE really doesn't have that many female wrestlers on both brands. If only there were two other brands with amazing female wrestlers who can help make the Rumble more surprising and—dang it, Vince, just throw Dakota Kai, Kairi Sane, and Xia Brookside in that match already.

Speaking of throwing women in that match, Nia Jax came out first to have a friendly interview of sorts with Alexa, but then Ember Moon came out uninvited, and then someone else, and then another Rumble competitor, and another, and so on and so forth until the entire thing ended up becoming a brawlwhich truth be told actually hyped me up. I mean, Nikki Cross losing her marbles is always fun to watch. Alexa took back control of her show by getting on her chair (lol) and declaring her own entry into the Women's Royal Rumble Match. #blissed 

I don't know what makes me happierthat Bliss is finally getting back in the ring after a string of terrible concussions or that she's finally, hopefully, dropping her talk show to once again become a full-time competitor. The show had a lot of potential but it hasn't lived up to any of it. At all.

Lacey Evans then made her appearance to also announce herself for the Rumble by knocking her hat over her face like a lady. That staredown between Lacey and Alexa made me nod approvingly, though. A feud between the two could be interesting, even though they're both technically heels. Imagine Lacey going after Alexa for that topless backstage segment a while back. "That's not ladylike." That could be great and a much better way to actually make sense of why that had to happen. At least Mandy Rose was trying to seduce an Uso. Alexa's bits were just... there.


After tagging with each other and Nikki Cross last week, both Bayley and Natalya found themselves  on opposite sides of the ring this week to support their respective besties. Bayley had Sasha Banks' back as The Boss and Hug Connection (gross), while Natalya had RAW Women's Champion Ronda Rousey's back as a painful reminder of what heel Natalya could've been. 

For what it's worth, I am starting to actually get into this feud between Banks and Rousey, even though deep down, I know it's just another detour to that Horsewomen versus Horsewomen match at WrestleMania. No, I'm never going to shut up about that. Becky Lynch needs to tap all those UFC women out because she's The Man. Or something. 

Prior to the match, Ronda cut a very passionate promo that was only let down by how much rambling she did. In the end, Sasha made Natalya tap to get that much-needed momentum heading into her eventual loss at the Royal Rumble.


The opening promo that featured Universal Champion Brock Lesnar, Lesnar's advocate Paul Heyman, WWE big boss Mr. McMahon, Monster Among No Title Shots Braun Strowman, and Finn the Human Bálor was obviously designed to make everyone think that Finn has no chance at winning the title at the Royal Rumble. As if Lesnar being way bigger and heavier than Finn doesn't already give anyone that impression, right, Eddie Guerrero? Vince continued to be honest here, letting everyone know that he doesn't believe in Bálor (Roman Reigns called: He wants his catchphrase back), and even Braun shared the sentiment because he's a dick.

The opening match between Finn and Braun was pretty fun and it served as a sort of teaser for what could happen at the Royal Rumble. Braun is on Brock's level when it comes to height and weight, muscle mass and murderous rage, so Finn getting to show off what he can do against such a man, or monster, wasn't a bad way of furthering the hype around the Universal title matchup. This will no doubt be the same theme heading into that match on Monday (Manila time)Finn's speed and agility versus a much bigger opponent's strength and might. Just one thing, though: Brock suplexed Finn right in front of the referee, right? The fact that it was at ringside should've been cause for an earlier disqualification call, so why the heck did the referee allow that, waiting until Brock got in the ring later to F-5 Finn before calling the disqualification? Curt Hawkins is not amused.

I personally think it would've done Finn more good if he actually beat Braun Strowman in this match. While I do believe in Finn the Human Bálor, I'm honestly not sure the WWE does. I mean, Vince obviously doesn't. He keeps saying that every week. I would love for the WrestleMania Universal title match to be between The Demon King and The Kingslayer, but let's face it, there's no chance in hell that's happening. Brock will most likely survive Finn at the Royal Rumble, so why didn't they just give Finn the win over Braun here just so he could surprise his non-believers, giving him the shining underdog momentum heading into his title match? If Finn does win, though, and becomes the Universal Champion, the loss could even give Braun a deeper motive in challenging his on-again, off-again friend for the title.  

RAW REVIEW: This was a decent episode in my book. There was nothing special here, with the exception of Alexa Bliss' announcement and maybe Heavy Machinery's in-ring main roster debut, which was a little sad, considering that this was the Royal Rumble's go-home RAW show. Maybe it's just me being old and stuff but the Rumble matches don't feel quite exciting this time around. I mean, I'm still watching one of the WWE's biggest PPVs. I was just hoping I'd get a pretty great push in that direction but all I got were pretty predictable matches, with Finn clearly not gaining any momentum at all. I'm giving this week's RAW a C for "Control yourself, Otis!"

Quick Hitters:
  • The All Mighty Intercontinental Champion Bobby Lashley found a new challenger in the form of Apollo Crews this week. The idea of a pose-off between these two was not my cup of tea but I slowly got into it, thanks primarily to Apollo being funny. This was the most I've liked Apollo as a character. I've always thought he was brilliantly athletic, but he never really got any real character outside of "athletic black dude." Lashley might've picked up the win after Rush's distractionHa! Classic Lio Rush!but this was definitely a pretty great showing for Apollo.
  • Before the Seth Rollins versus Drew McIntyre match, both guys were given time to cut respective promos. Seth went with a full scrappy babyface script, promising he'll win the Rumble, which is likely, while Drew called himself The Terminator. Why? Because he terminated Kurt Angle's legend? Or that he terminated John Cena's ankle? I don't know. I, for one, preferred the whole Scottish Psychopath moniker. The Sinister Scotsman one wasn't that bad either. Anywho, the match that followed was obviously awesome, considering the two talents involved, but I narrowed my eyes in disapproval when Rollins got the win over Drew. It was a roll-up, though, so Drew could call it a fluke. Still, Drew has been losing a lot lately and I'm not happy with that.
  • Speaking of people who aren't happy, former Intercontinental Champion Dean Ambrose cut a pretty good backstage promo about the Royal Rumble. He has his sights set on eliminating both Seth Rollins and Bobby Lashley because he lost his title during a Triple Threat match involving those two. Ambrose's heel run has effectively cooled down. Maybe if they didn't have him spend more time getting grossed out by germs in cities instead of trying to murder Seth, people would still be into him as the bad guy. Sigh. What a waste.
  • Baron Corbin and Elias are still feuding. Wow. To be fair, though, Corbin might just be the most over heel on RAW right now. It's like every time he comes on screen, the boos quickly follow. Just his shadow would be enough to get him boos.
  • I know, I know. I did ask for The Singh Brothers to get the opportunity to wrestle in the ring as the great tag team that they are, but with Jinder Mahal against The Lucha House Party? The crowd was obviously not a fan of this.
  • EC3 was backstage, admiring his muscles again, but Dana Brooke approached him this time to ask for fitness tips. For some reason, EC3 didn't respond, not even with just a quip or a one-liner. What the heck are they doing to this guy? I don't like EC3 that much but I've heard him speak and he's not that bad. Just one line. Please, just give the guy one line. 
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. Believe in Bálor.

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