'WWE Raw': New Day Rising

The tag trio trumps Cena and the Dudleys, Brock and Heyman belittle the Undertaker and 'Hell in a Cell' locks in key matches

The New Day finally ascend to top heel status on 'WWE Raw.' Credit: WWE

The easy pops for the Patriots and the cheap shots toward the Red Sox meant only one thing: WWE was back in Boston on Monday night.

In addition to the requisite hometown heat, the Massachusetts masses also got an eyeful of a returning Brock Lesnar, in addition to robust appearances from Boston's Sasha Banks and New England's most divisive son, John Cena. Mostly though, there was a lot of drama surrounding Kane's split personality, in addition to a big night for the New Day that suggested the company finally recognizes whom folks are tuning in to see.

So without further disruption to get on bended knee and ask a Bulgarian brute in bicycle shorts for his oversized hand in marriage, here are the five key things (in addition to the usual accompaniment of Twitter-friendly sidebar fodder) I took away from the October 5, 2015 edition of Raw.

5. The Dudleys: In 2-D
I love Bubba and D-Von as much as the next grown man with a family and career, but something hasn't felt quite right since the initial ecstasy over their return receded. Maybe it was something Sting said recently about how himself and Undertaker have endured because they've "evolved over the years." And if the Dudleys' third act is more than a part-time nostalgia grab (no offense, New Age Outlaws), we may need to show flashes of something else beyond familiar camo garb, "Wazzzzup" testicular head butts and ceremonial tables. Maybe some more backstage bits, or at the very least, some modifications to that woefully dated entrance theme? The "brothers" can still go, but it's not quite feeling as if they never left.

4. Talk Owens Talk
During the IC champ's bout against Sin Cara, Michael Cole commented that, "Owens never stops talking" during his matches. And he's right, and KO isn't wrong for reciting stream-of-consciousness trash while he dominates competition. It's what elevates even his most rote victories, and makes it that much juicier when he tastes defeat. He is the consummate heel, and absolutely relishes daring folks not to watch him, even when he's going through the motions of wearing opponents down. KO's mouth is why we care about his feud with Ryback, and why he'll have a prominent place on the card for some time to come – not to mention proof that actions in concert with words are what make pro wrestling great.

3. Rusev's Crushed
Ru-Ru will be fine. But he definitely needs rehabilitation. This disastrous storyline with Lana, Summer Rae, Dolph Ziggler, Dog Ziggler et al has not only emasculated Rusev's character as intended, but unwittingly damaged perceptions of the wrestler himself. His declaration that he won't marry "Hot Summer" before claiming WWE gold at least accomplished one thing: He and Ziggler appear to have finally, mercifully been un-conjoined. Although something tells me this means he might circle the wagons back to old faithful John Cena, possibly snagging his U.S. title before the champ's rumored hiatus. Unless New Day has something to perform on the trombone about it…

2. New Day For Presidents
This continues to be the story of 2015, overshadowing Kevin Owens' arrival or even the "Divas Revolution." And it's precisely because it happened against all odds and seemingly organically. New Day could be a case study in how to properly launch (or, when necessary, redirect) a new gimmick. Whoever intuited they'd connect as earnest do-gooders rather than high-stepping heels should be remanded to remedial development post-haste. But credit to wherever it's due for letting Xavier, Big E and Kofi ride the wave of malcontent and conquer it with extroverted antics that have served the dual purpose of allowing them margin for error as they find their chemistry in the ring. It was stunning to watch Raw sign off last night with the trio literally tooting their horn after laying waste to Cena, the Dudleys and Ziggler. They're like a bizarro Shield, and fading to black as they pranced up the ramp was almost enough to make you smile and forget what they – along with a particularly long-winded Paul Heyman and chipper-seeming Brock Lesnar at the evening's outset – were asked to compensate for (ahem, see below).

1. Kane Better Win
At this point, it's the only way to justify this whole misadventure between he and Seth Rollins, particularly given there was little suspense about who'd win out in his last title defense (no offense, Sting). Those broken handcuffs keeping Kane tethered to the ring post in he and Rollins' bout against the Dudleys were an apt metaphor for the tenuous state of this feud. Happy-place Corporate Kane is very funny, but the more he becomes one with Demon Kane, the less I'm compelled to see what happens next. The novelty's worn off, and Rollins has more than merited the appropriate foe who can make his first championship run more than an afterthought in the annals. Is Roman done with Bray yet? Or is the Beast still hungry for more gold? And just spitballin' here, but maybe all these moving parts will spin out into something more meaningful come October 25, including one last destructive collision in a sibling rivalry that never gets old.

Below the Belt:

  • That's some serious jet-black dye action, Mr. Heyman.
  • Sheamus needs to make a splash at Hell in a Cell.
  • Paige: One "This is my house" per match, please.
  • You go, Natty.
  • Maybe no more F-5s to giants.
  • And boy, talk about a game Big Show.
  • Ahem, the World Series is set to end in November, Nikki.
  • Roman vs. Bray will be great, but till then…Yawn.
  • Move of the Night: Any nominations, readers?
  • Line of the Night: Rollins to Kane: "You are no Tom Brady, even though you both have deflated balls." Keep it PG, folks!
  • Sign of the Night: "Heyman sweats butter."
  • In Case You Fast-Forwarded Through Commercials: Comedy Central is really hoping they can lure new Daily Show viewers after all that Jon Stewart stuff. (I can't for the life of me find the new ad they debuted, but you know you saw it.) I know Luke McCown, and I use Verizon, but I don't get it. And, oh, look, that's me.
  • Noticeable In Their Absence: Cesaro, Stardust