It’s beginning to look a lot like TLC as Raw and Smackdown decked the halls with divorce, title defences, and….dog food in this week’s Red versus Blue!
The end of the calendar year is always an interesting time for the WWE. Sure, we’ve seen drafts and “season premieres” over the past months, but more often than not, these events have been an attempt to draw viewership. With both Royal Rumble and Wrestlemania right around the corner, the month of December is usually when we first start to see Vince and Co. actually beginning to plant the seeds of what’s to come.
This certainly seemed to be the case as this week’s Raw and Smackdown both pushed storylines hard while also building hype for TLC as much as possible. The popular consensus on 2019 is that it’s been a fairly difficult year, and apparently the WWE is as ready as the rest of us are for it to be over! With all that being said, the question that we gather each and every week to answer still remains…
You know the drill, folks! Every week, I watch the shows, make the notes, and then deliver unto you fine readers my semi-informed opinion of which show was better overall. So, with the introduction and explanation handled in usual fashion, it’s time to dive right into this week’s positive aspects!
What in the world did The Fiend do to Daniel Bryan last week?! Here we are thinking that we’re going to get a new, clean-shaven Bryan, and instead, it seems as though he’s been completely taken out of the picture! With Daniel apparently missing in action, Bray Wyatt’s sights shifted to the man who’s tried to be Bryan’s voice of reason throughout this feud. The night kicked off with The Miz declaring his personal mission to discover what had become of Daniel Bryan, only to be interrupted by Bray. Wyatt spoke about Daniel being with The Fiend, the importance of family, and then finished the opening segment by asking The Miz if he wanted to play after producing a framed picture of The Miz’s family.
As the night continued, The Miz would be seen frantically calling Maryse before eventually finding a room lit in red light containing the family photo, now with Bray’s image in The Miz’s place. With Miz distracted by the bizarre alteration, Wyatt attacked, laying out the former WWE Champion with a “Sister Abigail”. By night’s end, a match between The Miz and Bray was announced for TLC, and although it may not be what we expected, I personally think this could be a very interesting pit stop on the Bryan/Wyatt storyline. Ignoring the fact that Wyatt and Miz’s confrontation felt like an expertly handled example of suspenseful storytelling, Bray attacking The Miz without the use of the guise of The Fiend undoubtedly raises a lot of questions. Does this mean that Bray will actually be the one facing Miz at TLC? Should we be more fearful of Bray when The Fiend leaves him to his own devices? Or…is this all just build towards The Fiend revealing Bryan’s fate at TLC?
Wow, that was more long-winded than I meant for it to be. So, let’s go ahead and wrap up the Blue Brand’s positives with two rapid-fire highlights.
This week’s Smackdown featured another vignette from Sheamus, and it once again built anticipation for the long-awaited return of the “Celtic Warrior”. If these promos are any indication of what we can expect from Sheamus, it’s safe to say the Blue Brand is about to feel the presence of a no-nonsense heel.
Lastly, I can’t personally testify about what it feels like to have a fake eyelash ripped from my eyelid, but I got to imagine it’s not a pleasurable sensation! Give credit where it’s due to Alexa Bliss and Mandy Rose for coming up with a unique spot that definitely evoked some sympathy, cringes from those watching.
It certainly seems like the latest update to the weekly WWE programming blueprint is the inclusion of one storyline being continually featured throughout the night. Smackdown had the thriller genre-inspired angle centered around Bray and The Miz, and Monday Night Raw continued the storyline of lost loyalties between Kevin Owens and Seth Rollins. Last night’s Raw saw a confrontation between the two early on after Owens had already stated his intention to get answers in a previous backstage segment. Armed with Rey Mysterio’s “homie”, KO made his way to the ring to interrupt Rollins’ demand for an audience with the AOP.
Inevitably, the AOP would be shown entering the arena, resulting in Seth’s exit, a mysterious message delivered from AOP, and then the intervention of Sami Zayn and Mojo Rawley! By the end of Raw, Seth Rollins would reveal himself as the mastermind behind the recent attacks on Owens. Now, I know this is the obvious direction this angle has been headed in, but for once, it’s actually refreshing to know we were right. Seth is an amazing heel, so with his face gimmick fast becoming stale, this turn makes all the sense in the world. However, if this new faction isn’t called “The Sword”, I’ll be completely changing my stance!
Moving along, I’d like to close Raw’s positives this week by praising the overall feel of the show in general. For those who don’t know, I have a group of friends that regularly get together for both AEW’s and WWE’s pay per views. Recently, the majority opinion of the group has been that AEW is better due to being something different while also inspiring nostalgia-fueled memories of watching promotions like WCW in our youth. The point I’m trying to make is that last night’s Raw nearly succeeded in giving me that same feeling! From Rollins working classic heel tactics to old school promos being cut from both the locker room and random hallways, this felt like the old days. There will always be fans that clamour for a reboot of the Attitude Era, but I personally believe that this return to the “territory” mindset is precisely what WWE needs more of.
There’s just no denying that WWE’s writing is absolutely “hit or miss” at the present time. How else could you explain a show that featured palpable tension between The Miz and Bray Wyatt ending with a dog food crucifixion?! Now, I’ll admit that I’m being a bit imaginative labeling what happened to Roman Reigns as a “crucifixion” but is that any more ridiculous than what we actually saw happen? Whatever happened to the King of the Ring flexing his supposed power like William Regal did when he sat on the throne? This kind of schoolyard bullying feels completely underwhelming when paired with the intensity Corbin is conveying. Hopefully, the match made between Reigns and Corbin for TLC will be the much-needed conclusion to this angle.
Up next, it’s the Blue Brand’s version of the Lana love triangle, as we revisit Drake Maverick’s attempts to woo Dana Brooke. We get it, she’s possibly dating Dave Bautista! No one cares! I have to assume that includes your writing staff because they scripted Maverick trying to proposition Dana, just to have him demand a match with Elias after the latter implied he’d slept with the former’s wife! How are you going to defend your wife’s honour after attempting to cheat on her literally minutes beforehand?! If you want to give Brooke some spotlight since she’s been on everyone’s radar lately, you could just have her wrestle…Crazy talk, I know.
The last negative for the Blue Brand has to be the Fatal Four-way match for the number one contender spot of Smackdown’s Tag Team Division. Did anyone think The Revival wasn’t going to win? We’re not idiots. You can’t put three face teams in a match with one heel team and not think we’re gonna figure out who will be facing the babyface champions! At this point, I’m going to offer to join WWE’s writing staff because I honestly think anything I booked could top this.
Well, I guess we can say we had a historic first this week as Lana and Rusev took part in the first-ever live divorce to happen on WWE television. A week after he said it, Kevin Owens’s words concerning this storyline still ring true. NO….ONE…CARES! The only positive to this whole garbage fire of an angle has to be that Rusev at least appears to be enjoying himself. This week’s continuation ended with Rusev putting Bobby Lashley through a table, setting up their Tables match at TLC and hopefully the much-needed end to this storyline.
Raw’s recent jobbing out of established mid-card talent continued this week with Zack Ryder, Matt Hardy, and Akira Tozawa all falling victim. I know I somewhat praised this kind of booking last week, but this is two weeks in a row we’ve seen both Tozawa and Hardy doing the job. At some point, these guys are going to have to be given opportunities to save face. Truthfully, Hardy and Ryder have each cemented their in-ring legacies and therefore don’t suffer much from eating losses, but doing the same to a still relatively fresh talent like Akira almost always ends in career homicide. If AJ Styles can overcome the stigma of being smaller in Vince’s eyes, then it should be no problem for Tozawa to outshine larger roster members if given the chance. Look at what he did in the match with McIntyre!
Lastly, that “Weekend Update” spot was a joke. The Viking Raiders have been sold as unbeatable for months, so when a legit team like the Street Profits actually put up a decent fight before losing to the Raw Tag Team Champions, how do they follow it up? Maybe a challenge for TLC? Or a dramatic promo about avenging their loss? Nope, instead, we get Ford and Dawkins doing a parody of a news show… Take note, NXT! Win your tag titles and you can go on to be pop culture reference machines on Raw!
It definitely feels like WWE has traded 50/50 booking for 50/50 writing this week as both shows featured their fair shares of good and bad moments. Nevertheless, I promised you readers a victor and this week I think it has to be…
Friday’s show may have ended with the perfect example of why we don’t hear WWE mention “Be A Star” much these days, but at least all the Miz and Wyatt stuff happened before that so it was okay if you changed the channel by that point. If you were hoping to see the Rollins/Owens angle play out last night when you tuned into Raw, you were forced to sit through twenty minutes of Lana and Rusev before ever getting what you were watching for! Never start your show with a ratings killer.
There it is, folks. Another week of programming critiqued and another victory handed to the Blue Brand. With our winner determined, it comes time once again to bid you fine readers farewell the only way I know how.
Until next time, may all your kicks be super and every frog splash five stars!
You can find me on Twitter @DirtSheetDandy. Thanks for reading.