What a SummerSlam! Oh, wait, that was on Sunday. Well, last night sure felt like the real prestige affair, as there were debuts, returns and celebrity cameos galore.
Not necessarily a ton in the way of wrestling, of course, unless you were among those who enjoyed the broadcast's sidebar into house-show territory with that inconsequential eight-man tag toward the end. But I digress. In fact, I'll go one better, skip the formalities and segue straight into the five key things (in addition to the usual Twitter-friendly sidebar observations) that I took away from the August 24 edition of Raw. Ole!
5. Wyatt Family Become Scherr Holders
Former professional strongman Adam Scherr, that is. Or as we shall refer to him from here forward, Braun Strowman (presumably, Muscular Toughguy was taken). Not everything about the new Wyatt Family member's debut was seamless. There was a lumbering, stumbling, Shockmaster-like initial climb over the top rope. Fortunately, that's when Roman Reigns decided to test the giant's reflexes by catching him utterly on guard with a Superman Punch. This led to a succession of choke-outs on he and Dean Ambrose and a demonstration of what we presume is Strowman's finishing move, which could best be described as the Big Ending with a twist (and like that maneuver, it looks better in theory than execution). It wasn't perfect, but in the long term, it's precisely what the script doctor ordered for Bray and Luke Harper, and was a genuine surprise for even the Brooklyn audience, who desperately scrambled to their smartphones to determine Strowman's presumed indie pedigree. The black-sheep angle's a bit of a reach, and some searching does reveal that Strowman – once an occasional Rosebud on WWE TV – is your typical big teddy bear. But mostly, I'm just disappointed he didn't take off his mask, stare down Ambrose and Reigns and make this decree.
4. Time to Turn the Paige
Maybe. I'm not quite sure what's missing with the 23-year-old former Divas champ, but she's getting a bit washed out (no cracks on her complexion intended) and lost in the shuffle amid all this Team PCB, ladies' revolution stuff. The constant rah-rah rhetoric belies her usual outcast edge, and you can tell she's straining to find her voice amid the division's new faction makeover. That Miz TV segment was pretty brutal all around, and it was pretty lame to watch the women beat on each other in response to Miz's chauvinist antagonism rather than gang up on him first. But in the broader picture, Paige doesn't seem particularly at ease as the leader of a pack, and her story and character are taking a backseat to Charlotte and Becky's NXT cult appeal. Come to think of it, yeah: Time to turn this whole narrative inside out, make Paige a meanie and have her rebuff the very revolution (which, if we're being honest, has become increasingly contrived to keep WWE topical) she helped launch.
3. Bye Bye, Beast
Can we assume that's the last we'll see of Brock Lesnar on TV for a while? He and Paul Heyman opened the show; said their peace about getting ripped off at SummerSlam; issued a challenge to Undertaker; made mincemeat of Bo Dallas; and marched out of the arena without any further appearance. One's best guess is that the Beast and Phenom's rivalry is to be continued at TBD time and place, though it's hard to see that happening by Night of Champions. Then again, as last night (and, for that matter, Taker and Lesnar colliding at SS to begin with) demonstrated, WWE can catch you napping and put all their cards on the table. And what better event than October's Hell in a Cell to consider concluding this epic chapter in their saga? We know what those two can do to one another when confined to walls of steel. Although, this being the PG era, maybe we're better off letting it stew to next WrestleMania.
2. That Sting Is Sneaky
I can't be the only one who keeps failing to predict where the "Vigilante" will turn up next, his wispy dyed locks flapping about as he uncoils one Stinger Splash after another. The victim this time was Seth Rollins, who expected Triple H and Stephanie McMahon to unveil a bronze statue in his likeness. But lo, when that curtain was raised (after a loooong time), the 56-year-old icon manifested and made short work of his 29-year-old nemesis. Gotta love WWE. The two will square off at Night of Champions, and for the first time, Sting will get his shot at Vince McMahon's brass ring. John Cena and other top contenders are surely flummoxed, given that Sting's last match was several months ago against fellow semi-retiree Triple H. Logic be damned! It's a smart move to spread out the part-timers over each marquee event, and now that Lesnar and Taker have taken their turn, Sting's number is up. And presuming Rollins walks away with title in hand, ditto for his rising stock as peer slayer and legend killer. So I say…
1. The Boyz Are Back in Town
For real, it would seem. Let's just scrub our memories of Bubba's brief Royal Rumble cameo and recall the headier days of he and D-Von's dominant reign as a WWE/ECW duo. Their entrance, which disrupted New Day's victory celebration, was electric. And both Bubba and his on-screen brother are in terrific shape despite a combined age of nearly 90. We'll soon find out whether the Dudley Boyz' reformation is of the fleeting, New Age Outlaws 2.0 variety or something with a longer shelf life, but this is exactly what the tag ranks needed. Now New Day can go back to truly playing the heel, Los Matadores can take a pause and consider re-tooling and Prime Time Players can use the new competition as incentive to up their game. So whether the duo's there as a spark or permanent solution, last night's detour into Dudleyville was the fieriest moment we've seen on Raw in weeks.
Below the Belt:
- SummerSlam coulda benefitted from one or two of those surprises.
- That initial tease of Rollins' statue was his Han Solo-in-carbonite moment.
- I'm tellin' ya, New Day are getting too likeable…
- Are PTP heels again now?
- August 24, 2015: The day Dolph Ziggler dispatched with Speedos.
- Lana vs. Summer Rae in a nutshell: Divas Revolution blah blah… hey, catfight!
- Well, that was some awkward silence after Becky Lynch's NeNe Leakes remark.
- "I'll have you stand on a line and punch you"? Yikes.
- RIP Cosmic King, the shortest-lived gimmick since the aforementioned Shockmaster.
- Not sure what's left to say of Jon Stewart's involvement. Even he seemed to realize the motivation for his actions was pretty thin.
- We get it, Brooklyn: You're awesome.
- Safe to assume Big Show's retirement speech is now imminent?
- Can someone tell me what was up with the hyperactive Lita look-alike in the background during that final segment?
- Move of the Night: As I've oft repeated, I'm a sucker for subtlety, and enjoyed Kofi Kingston adding an inverted suplex to his repertoire.
- Line of the Night: Jon Stewart, aka the "little old mean man" of SummerSlam.
- Sign of the Night: Apparently, "She Said Yes!" Though we don't know if she's a Daniel Bryan fan in the throes of orgasm or newly engaged. Clarity, people.
- In Case You Fast-Forwarded Through Commercials: Movie studios officially blitzing their fall releases: Johnny Depp dons his silliest makeup yet for Black Mass, and the screenplay author of Menace II Society waited 22 years to pen his next script, which somehow wound up being this.
- Noticeable In Their Absence: We want J&J! Also MIA: Undertaker, that damned Green Arrow, Stephen Amell, Sasha Banks.