WWE got Rocky Mountain High on Monday night, as the Raw road show made a stop in Denver and the build to Survivor Series continued (sadly, only Triple H got to make a weed joke).
And after the solid Hell in a Cell and last week’s out-of-the-blue return to wrestling, expectations were as high as RVD – especially when we learned the show would feature a Fatal 4-Way to determine the Number One contender to Charlotte’s Divas Championship. Over the next three hours, we also witnessed Bray Wyatt advance his feud with the Undertaker and Kane with a supernatural (and superhuman) promo, a surprise return from a beloved tag team and a mega main event that allowed everyone to have a rooting interest. Oh, and at one point, Michael Cole spoke for us all when he told Byron Saxton “No one likes you.”
So, yeah, it was another entertaining night. Especially if you like special effects. Here’s my five-point takeaway from the November 2 edition of Raw.
5. Talking Is Overrated
While it wasn’t quite last week’s wrestlefest, Raw once again dedicated plenty of time to in-ring work, which is a good thing – because there are plenty of people on this roster with nothing to do but wrestle. Like Cesaro, who’s busy doing kip-up spots and 30-rotation giant swings in thankless matches with the Miz (and, I guess, kind of feuding with Stardust and the Ascension?) Or United States Champion Alberto Del Rio, who really doesn’t need to be stuck with Zeb Colter, this “MexAmericans” angle or the presumptive “payoff” with Jack Swagger. If you blinked, you probably missed ADR’s match with R-Truth. But it’s not all bad; at least we got more movement in the Dolph Ziggler/Tyler Breeze spat – and, I’ve got to be honest, Summer Rae broadcasting from the ringside VIP on Facebook was kind of brilliant.
4. Team Internet vs. the WWE Universe
It was too perfect. WWE champ Seth Rollins is tasked with building “a traditional Survivor Series team” (someone get “Outlaw” Ron Bass on the phone), and rises to the challenge by securing the services of Kevin Owens and the New Day, thereby creating a de facto dream team for the Internet Wrestling Community. If only he added Cesaro, too. And of course they took on Roman Reigns’ squad of kid-approved comic-book heroes (and Dean Ambrose, who’s probably really wishing Randy Orton a speedy recovery). The build up was better than the match itself, particularly Big E and Kofi Kingston using “unicorn magic and the power of positivity” to bring back Xavier Woods, but the main event wasn’t bad by any stretch, teasing future feuds – can’t wait for Owens/Reigns to meet down the line – and ending in typical fashion, with Rollins escaping via DQ. But then, in a nod to his infamous turn on the Shield last summer, he smashed Reigns and Ambrose with a chair. And some of us cheered.
3. The Usos Return
As soon as Seth Rollins locked up the New Day to form Team Internet, I automatically assumed Roman Reigns would counter with the Dudley Boyz. In a nice surprise, we got the Usos instead. The high-flying, merch-moving team had been sidelined since WrestleMania while Jey recovered from shoulder surgery, and they didn’t show a whole lot of rust tonight, with both brothers landing big splashes to Xavier Woods and Kofi Kingston. That automatically inserts them into the Tag Team title picture, though Survivor Series is probably too close to give their rivalry with New Day a proper build. Instead, maybe we get some sort of Tag Team Turmoil, with the Lucha Dragons – who got a nice promo last night – and the Dudleyz or the Euro Connection (why not?) thrown into the mix. But don’t you dare be sour, the Usos will get their hands on the champs eventually.
2. Divas Deliver in Denver
Upon first viewing, this one was rough. Brie Bella, Paige, Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks never seemed to click in their Fatal 4-Way to determine the Number One contender for the Divas Championship; the action was choppy and occasionally looked dangerous (at one point, Paige appeared to have caught Bella square in the jaw with a knee) and the set-up to the big top-rope spot – a suplex/powebomb combo – took far too long. But watching it a second time, my opinion changed. All four women had their moments, Lynch took some tough bumps and the action really picked up once she and Banks squared off (big surprise). The aforementioned high-risk move featured all four women and earned a “This is awesome” chant from the fans, and the home stretch – a flurry of finishers capped off by Paige hitting the Rampage on Lynch to earn her title shot – built off its momentum. Most importantly, Banks and Lynch won over a Denver crowd that began the match cheering for Brie and Brie only, and Paige got some genuine heel heat in her post-match promo. That’s progress, people. And just like last week, testament to the importance of making matches mean something.
1. Bray Wyatt – Eater of Worlds, Master of Special Effects
Boy, what is there to say about Wyatt’s promo, which saw him boast of successfully harvesting the souls of Undertaker and Kane, use their supernatural powers to summon claps of thunder and zaps of lightning and stray into decidedly darker territory than WWE normally allows him to explore (especially all that talk of desecrating legends and feasting on souls.) What you thought about it probably has a lot to do with how you feel about the Bray Wyatt character, and his spooky, shamanic shtick. If you’re a fan of pro wrestling’s willingness to occasionally dabble in the occult – and all inherent ridiculousness contained therein – you probably loved it; if you’re the kind of viewer who just wants to see Cesaro wrestle Kevin Owens in 60-minute Iron Man matches, there’s a good chance you didn’t. Regardless, WWE really appears ready to give Wyatt and his Family the monster push (literally), a move that started in earnest during their battles with Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose, and has been bolstered by their new feud with the Brothers of Destruction. Last night’s promo cemented it, and for as long as some of us have bitched about Bray’s misuse on the roster, that’s good enough. Now, they must come out on top against ‘Taker and Kane – even if it’s just in the short term. Because no matter how spooky the special effects, when Wyatt proclaims “I have become the higher power,” it’s tough to believe him when he loses every feud.