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Mick Foley: Raw would be ‘eviscerated’ if they ran SmackDown’s AJ Styles/Luke Harper finish

Feb. 21 was a contentious night between the General Managers of WWE’s two “competing” brands, Raw and SmackDown.

Things flared up between Mick Foley and Daniel Bryan over a couple issues. One was the finish of the blue brand’s main event, a ten-man battle royal which employed the old 1994 Royal Rumble Lex Luger/Bret Hart tie finish. The final two competitors in this instance, Luke Harper and AJ Styles, were deemed to have been eliminated simultaneously. They’ll now have a one-on-one match next week to settle the issue the battle royal was supposed to - who will face Bray Wyatt for the World championship at WrestleMania now that Rumble winner Randy Orton has taken himself out of contention?

It’s an okay-enough idea in concept, but the execution didn’t make a lot of sense since Harper suplexing AJ off the apron pretty much means Styles’ feet would have to hit the floor first. Which is likely why production didn’t show any replays, instead giving us shots of Bryan discussing the situation with referees.

Foley jumped on Twitter to criticize the closing angle:

And when someone called Mick on his take, the embattled Red Brand GM responded:

Which is an interesting point. Especially as WWE’s had some success creating fans who - sometimes playfully, sometimes in all earnestness - identify as Raw or SmackDown fans. So why hasn’t Team Blue been “eviscerated”?

Well, at least on my Twitter timeline, they did take a considerable amount of flak. But it was a brief moment of outrage. Between the fact that most folks realized, “yes, I do want a Luke Harper vs. AJ Styles #1 contender match” and how the battle royal successful advanced every other men’s singles (and one mixed tag) feud, fans quickly re-focused on the positive.

Then there’s that SmackDown tackled the issue head-on at the beginning of Talking Smack. Renee Young pressed Bryan on the controversy, and while his answer is as full of holes as the finish - at least it’s an answer:

The ending of that battle royal was very difficult to deal with. None of us had a good vantage point as far as what happened. The referees, none of them had a great angle. No one was saying “I think this person” or “I think that person.” They were dead split and a lot of them were just like “we didn't see what happened.” You would think (we would have instant replay) but we didn't get any good visuals of it.

This all adds up to paint the picture of why, while Foley’s criticism is valid and his observation that Raw would get a different response is probably accurate, we’re not complaining online about it right now.

SmackDown’s commitment to telling longer stories, the continuous prospect of great matches and having a fun post-show to address nits that fans will pick has built up a tremendous amount of goodwill for the Blue Brand since the brand split.

Mick’s just going to have to deal with that. Or maybe “suck it”... but more on that in a bit.

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