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RAW has to get past Payback for the fresh start it needs

Tuesday’s Rude Awakening looks at an uneven RAW, Kalisto’s surprise win he immediately regretted, and CM Punk on an MTV show.

We publish a whole lot of content here at Cageside Seats. We’re also [looks around and whispers so the bosses can’t hear] not the only place producing wrestling content on the internet. So, as a service to you on the weekdays, we’ll be producing a wrestling newsletter, "Rude Awakening." Well, it will be a newsletter eventually: for now, it’ll just be part of your experience here at Cageside, collecting the news, recaps, and social moments from the greater wrestling universe daily so you won’t fall behind, with a newsletter format to come.

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This week’s RAW was the result of a self-inflicted wound. It wasn’t the worst episode, and it had its highlights, but much of it was nonsense even by wrestling standards. That’s because WWE put themselves in a corner with the Superstar Shakeup: overall, flipping wrestlers from one brand to another to freshen up stories is going to pay off, but in the short-term, it’s made for a confusing couple of weeks of television. Look no further than the main event of Monday’s go-home RAW for evidence.

Payback is Sunday, and it’s a RAW-exclusive pay-per-view. It will also feature two SmackDown Live performers, because they were embroiled in feuds before the Shakeup and those stories need to be completed. So, what we ended up with is a main event that made no sense in relation to Payback: a go-home show is supposed to convince viewers to tune in to the upcoming pay-per-view, but there was nothing relevant to Sunday’s show in this main. Bray Wyatt is facing Randy Orton in a House of Horrors match, so he interfered in a handicap tag match to attack Dean Ambrose (doesn’t have a Payback match), Chris Jericho (wrestling SmackDown’s Kevin Owens at Payback), and Miz (hosting a Payback pre-show segment with Finn Balor). Okay!

The good news is that examples like the above should be temporary: when Wyatt finishes with Orton this weekend, he can move on to Balor, where some seeds for a feud have already been planted. Miz and Ambrose can advance their own feud and bring the Intercontinental Championship into it. Chris Jericho can either leave WWE for a bit as he does when his band comes calling, or move into a new story line with someone who is still on the show he is.

We might see some more confusion like this on SmackDown this week since two of their stars are tied up in Payback matches as well, but hopefully they’ll learn from Monday’s mistakes to soften that blow. And if not, at least next week will be a fresh start for both shows.

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