Now three weeks removed from WrestleMania 32 and less than two weeks away from WWE’s follow-up event Payback, the company is in an upswing. Granted, the creative has been questionable with Shane McMahon gaining control of Raw with little to no explanation. Despite the stipulation that had him losing at WrestleMania then he’ll be gone, everyone’s expectations were met when he was brought back after gaining so much momentum. Loopholes aside, Shane’s presence as a babyface figure brought a fresh breath of air to the product and the influx of new talent on the main roster created some interesting television.
So without further ado, let’s run down the three points from this week’s Monday Night Raw:
- It’s A New Era….Again
On the opening segment of Raw in London, Shane McMahon was a special guest on Dean Ambrose’s new talk show The Ambrose Asylum. Shane spoke on because the support of the WWE fans, that stars were receiving new opportunities that they never would have before. It’s a slightly true statement given if it was five years earlier, Sami Zayn, AJ Styles, and Kevin Owens would’ve never be in the position they are now. Things have drastically changed in storyline and real-life, as these guys are immensely talented and are a main focus on the TV shows now. The success of NXT and the wrestlers presented on the show has made a mark of promoting them to the main roster, but none of it all of Shane’s doing.
Since he is a babyface authority figure compared to heel Triple H – who is the real benefactor to NXT’s popularity – it is possible that they want to separate his influence on the main roster and have Shane be the face of change. A lot of reasons can be manufactured, but that is another story for another time. The fact that this show is 3 hours and have 20+ writers on the creative team, there’s no way that they can have an absolutely terrible episode with the amount of talent they have now.
With the NXT call-ups, the inclusion of tag teams in Enzo & Cass and The Vaudevillains, the return of Cesaro and Maryse, and the rechristening of the Women’s Division, there’s an abundance of opportunities to create a decent show full of sensible storylines and good wrestling. This episode had plenty of that, but the transition can still be rough with the crowds being half the battle.
- Friends, Foes, and Bros
The build for AJ Styles and Roman Reigns took an interesting turn when Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows attacked the WWE Champion much to the chagrin of Styles. Anderson & Gallows made their WWE debut last week destroying The Uso Brothers after their match (and very likely to face them at Payback) and wasted no time in uncovering the history between them and AJ. Styles, Anderson, and Gallows were all a part of the Bullet Club stable in New Japan Pro Wrestling, each dominating in the singles and tag scene with Styles as the IWGP Heavyweight Champion and Gallows N Gun as the IWGP Tag Champions.
In Outsider/Kliq-esque fashion, the team is looking to aid Styles though he’s unwilling to request it as he wants to defeat Reigns himself. Roman – pissed off that the duo attacked him and his cousins – is adamant that Styles knew about their intentions and this is an angle that is becoming very intriguing. With Payback looking in a couple of weeks in Chicago, the dynamic of this match creates a number of scenarios.
Since becoming the champion, Roman has been using a catchphrase of, “I’m not a bad guy, I’m not a good guy, I’m THE GUY”. This is mainly in response of the negative reception over the past year, leaning more towards a tweener status and facing a popular wrestler in AJ Styles. Styles’ relationship with Anderson & Gallows can bring in the idea of turning AJ heel and reforming the core group of the Bullet Club. Yet, following Wrestling Booking 101 over the years, I can only see this ending badly for Styles with his buddies turning on him and costing him the title. Only time will tell, but one thing for sure is that this is a program no one can ignore.
- “How You Doin’?” The Curious Case of Enzo & Cass
It took forever and a day, but Enzo and Cass being called-up to the main roster was well-deserved. The tag team, especially the electric promo skills of Enzo Amore, was made for TV. For the past three weeks on Raw and Smackdown, Enzo has impressed on the microphone with great lines like “We’re like A Cups: We’re real whether you like us or you don’t!!” and the crowd will eat out the palm of their hands. It goes back to creative unable to screw up the momentum for this team as they’re stars and they’re going to continue to get over.
As of right now, it’s better to see their star shine outside of the title picture as they have a lot to work with.