It has been a long week for WWE and now that it is finally over, there are a lot of things to unpack. The biggest of these is the WWE Draft, which saw dozens of wrestlers moved to and from Monday Night Raw and SmackDown. The Draft basically saw the entire roster reset with some wrestlers having to be redrafted to the shows they were already on. Most of the rosters are now set (save for Mickie James and the more confusing Andrade) after two days of changes that are going to reshape WWE for a long time to come.
Now forget all of that because we aren’t talking about it today. There are only so many ways you can say “this was a good move” and “are they serious” over and over again, but above that there is something else going on. Actually there is a lot more going on and that is what we are going to be looking at. The Draft took place over the course of SmackDown and Monday Night Raw, both of which were taking place less than three weeks away from the next pay per view. There were several non-Draft things going on which deserve some attention of their own and that’s where we’re going today.
That’s what we’re looking at this week. Today, we’re going to examine everything that happened on the October 9 SmackDown and the October 12 Monday Night Raw outside of the Draft. Believe it or not, some of the things that took place on the show actually mattered, even if there was very little attention on any of it. Some of this will overlap with the Draft of course, but for now we’ll be focusing on everything else.
• Big E. defeated Sheamus in a heck of a street fight. Well, assuming you ignore the weird stop with at the baked goods table. The idea here was to get Big E. over as a monster face and that’s exactly what it did, or at least as much of a monster face as you can get with a win over Sheamus. We’ll come back to Big E. later, but the important thing here was making him look like he could do things on his own. It doesn’t come out of nowhere after all of his tag (and singles) success, but now it looks like they’re actually pulling the trigger. Hopefully they can aim well.
• Jey Uso came to the ring to find out the stipulation for his rematch with Roman Reigns inside the Cell. Reigns and Paul Heyman appeared on the screen, presumably from Reigns’ home, and announced that it will be an I Quit match. I don’t think the ending is in doubt, but what matters here is that this is the best story going in WWE today. These two are family and you can feel the connection between them. You can’t fake that and the videos that have been accompanying the story have made it that much better. I want to see an Uso singles match on pay per view. How in the world is that possible?
• Matt Riddle/Jeff Hardy defeated Miz/John Morrison. It wasn’t a tag team I knew I needed to see, and it turns out I still don’t. This was just fallout for the aftermath though.
• Then Lars Sullivan returned after about a year and a half away to destroy people like villagers in a monster movie. I really never thought I would see Sullivan back in WWE and while I don’t know if he needs to be, I can go with the idea of trying something with someone. WWE knows how to book a monster and they should be able to do fine with Sullivan, provided he limits himself to 38 stupid moves a week.
• Sasha Banks beat Bayley via DQ in a Women’s Title match designed to set up a rematch in the Cell. That was all this was ever going to be and that’s fine.
• New Day (who returned) won the SmackDown Tag Team Titles by defeating Cesaro and Sheamus before being shipped off to Raw. Big E. is staying on SmackDown though, meaning New Day is done. This is the big story of the Draft and I’m not sure what it is going to mean. It could pay off well if Big E.’s singles push works, but Kofi Kingston’s singles push worked out fine while the team is still together. That being said, Kingston is a way bigger singles star and had an advantage coming in, so maybe Big E. does needs this.
It’s way too early to know if this is going to work but dang it’s quite the risk. New Day has been around for a long time now and it is a risky move to break them up no matter what. There is a good chance that it could work out for everyone involve, or it could be breaking up the most successful trio in WWE history. You could argue it’s years too late or far too early (or that it never should have happened), but they better make it work or it is going to look especially stupid.
This could go a few ways:
• Otis’ legal issues with Miz are delayed. In other words, they probably don’t know what they’re doing with it yet.
• The Fiend beat Kevin Owens in a glorified squash, which could go in a lot of different directions. The Fiend and Alexa Bliss are an interesting pairing and I want to see more of them together. This was designed to reheat the Fiend and now that he is away from Reigns and over on Monday Night Raw, it could go a long way in a hurry.
Monday Night Raw
• Randy Orton and Drew McIntyre got in another fight, mainly because they don’t have anything else to say to each other. Imagine that: there isn’t much of a story to be told when they’re on their third pay per view match and they used the same story to build it up as they did with the first. McIntyre promised to fight Orton all night, then wasn’t seen for two and a half hours before they fought again in the main event, making this more or less a waste of time.
• Kevin Owens beat Aleister Black in a No DQ match. There were a lot of big bumps, most of which didn’t have any staying power because almost every match has something big and it doesn’t mean anything anymore. Owens winning changes…well very little really, but they needed to reheat him after SmackDown, which was glossed over, which is ok.
Let the violence flow:
• MizTV let us get a closer look at Dana Brooke and Mandy Rose as WWE keeps trying to make Miz/John Morrison vs. Otis mean something. I’m really not sure how effective that is, but when has that ever stopped WWE? After a brawl with Natalya and Lana got rid of the women, Miz tried round two but Sullivan came in and wrecked things. Not much here, other than me trying to figure out the difference between MizTV and the Dirt Sheet.
• New Day and the Street Profits changed the Tag Team Titles. People have been getting annoyed at this and….why? One title has been around for about four years and the other has been around for about eighteen years. If you have to think about which is which, it proves that it’s not worth getting upset over. If you don’t have to think about which is which, it shows that you care about the tag team divisions WAY more than WWE does.
• Seth Rollins came out and talked about being a leader, which set up a triple threat.
• AJ Styles defeated Rollins and Jeff Hardy in a triple threat, which went rather well until Elias returned and BLASTED Hardy with a guitar to give Styles a win. This was a way to get big named into the ring and have a surprise ending. That worked. Oh and Elias has an album coming out later this month and is giving a concert next week. Fine enough, as he’s not really a character who needs that much of an explanation.
• Rose/Brooke beat Natalya/Lana in a tag match. This was designed to do a few things, with the main one being to get Rose and Brooke over as the new tag team. They’ll be able to do that on their own without much effort, but it’s nice to have them win a match or two. The other point was to have Lana and Natalya split up after the loss and….ok then. It wasn’t a good team in the first place and I don’t think anyone is going to be upset that they’re gone. This was treated as something important and it just wasn’t, so it didn’t exactly have impact. Oh but it let Lana get humiliated and upset again, so WWE accomplished its goal.
See? More bad things:
• Angel Garza beat Andrade in a short match which didn’t make sense. Then news came out that Andrade is going to miss a month due to some surgery and it made much more sense. Post match the Fiend and Bliss popped up to destroy Zelina Vega and Andrade, who may be a thing again. That explains why Vega, who is on a bit of a roll, was out of the battle royal later in the night.
• New Day retained the Raw Tag Team Titles over Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode, who are going to SmackDown so there wasn’t any drama. Fine enough match, but I never need to see Ziggler vs. Kingston again. Or that much of Ziggler in general for that matter.
• Ricochet beat Cedric Alexander to officially end the feud with the Hurt Business. The cool part was Ricochet using the old Eddie Guerrero chair toss trick, which makes sense as it would have been Guerrero’s birthday over the weekend. I like that they gave it some closure, but can we stop having the Hurt Business lose if they’re going to be feuding with Retribution in a big story?
• Lana won a battle royal to become #1 contender with the STUPIDEST ENDING EVER THAT THEY KEEP USING BECAUSE THEY LIKE DOING STUPID THINGS. She eliminated Natalya to get back at her for earlier, but Nia Jax managed to put her through a table anyway, because WWE is very petty.
So yeah, all in all it was a busy week, with some stuff being done to set up the Cell. That being said, these shows were ALL about the Draft and almost everything else was window dressing. I’ll take that over a bunch of stupid filler though and they are making me interested in seeing the pay per view. They do need to get on from some of these feuds though, which is where Survivor Series can help us. Overall, call it a third round pick week.