In the Land of Fish and Chips. Plus, WWE RAW Recap.
WWE RAW definitely took a step back this week, as this edition felt more like a house show than anything else. There is obviously the built-in excuse of them being overseas and wanting to save their main storyline progression for the States, but this was a show that definitely dragged a bit. There’s not much to discuss, so I’ll get right into it.
Bullet Club Reunion?
The storyline that got the most attention and progression this week was the World Title picture, which is as it should be. Although it didn’t occupy the main event picture, this is the storyline that moved forward the most, even if it wasn’t in the best direction. During a backstage segment, AJ Styles was hanging out with Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson, essentially providing us simpleton viewers with an introduction of these men. Although they didn’t explicitly mention the Bullet Club or New Japan, they established that these men have a long relationship and friendship. This rolled over into an in-the-ring segment between AJ and our champion Roman Reigns. Following a back and forth promo between the two, Roman was jumped by Gallows and Anderson, with AJ looking on in confusion. It’s clear that AJ had no involvement in the attack which, to me, suggests further interference from the Bullet Club at Payback. Keeping AJ confused keeps him as a baby face, which makes sense, but having Roman as the victim baffles me. Doing this shows that WWE wants to keep Roman as a baby face instead of turning him heel, or even keeping him in the tweener role that he seemed to occupy the past few weeks. Any progress that they made the past two weeks with Roman was extinguished with this move and, unless they plan on doing something big at Payback, it seems like we will have to deal with a face Roman Reigns for the foreseeable future.
Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens are Losers
At least, this is what WWE is telling me about these two. I will never complain about the interactions that the two of these amazing workers have in promos or matches, sans the fact that they just all of a sudden have their first pay-per-view match at Payback. This first major match deserved a better build than what its got, but I don’t doubt the ability of these two to convince us of the match’s importance as it’s happening. However, both men have been made to look like crap in recent weeks, losing multiple matches on the road to Payback. In the eyes of WWE, this presents uncertainty in their match, as both men are perceived to be in slumps. They are wrong, however, as it does nothing other than making both guys look weak. There is no reason why both guys shouldn’t be winning matches right now, building to a huge clash at Payback.
- Shane is still in control this week, as he was referenced (and seen) a few times as the reasoning behind certain matches. Again, this only furthers my theory of a long-term story booked around Shane in control of RAW.
- The feud between Ambrose and Jericho has been interesting enough for me, and I feel like they are going to have a pretty interesting match at Payback. Having a Jericho attack on Ambrose close the show at least suggests that maybe they value Ambrose more than they have let on.
- I’m a little confused as to why the finals of the Tag Tournament is happening at Payback, but it at least gives the chance for the winners to build an actual feud with the New Day leading up to Extreme Rules. I like having the two NXT call-ups (Enzo/Cass and The Vaudevillians) be in the finals, and I imagine that the heels will move on.
- They continue to build the feud between The Miz and Cesaro nicely. Giving them a promo together, and then having them involved in a big tag team match involving The New Day and The League of Nations, saves the conflict for the pay-per-view, which is how it should be.
- Getting the recently sick Bret Hart involved in the Women’s Title scene is a cool move, particularly for a short-term feud like this one. Charlotte and Natalya had a match for the NXT Women’s Championship over a year ago in which their legendary family was ringside, and it only added to making the match feel bigger. You’ve got to imagine that it’ll only feel bigger at Payback.
Kyle Kirby covers WWE for MFST. You can follow him on Twitter @couch_qb.