After working in the ATL last night, Team Red heads to Nashville.
It’s been a long time coming, and is either the result of someone backstage finally reading the room or the payoff to a months-long ‘Reality’ Era angle. Seth Rollins finally broke bad last Monday.
I tend to lean toward a mix of the two. Up until Hell in a Cell, the powers that be thought they could plow ahead with presenting Rollins as a true blue babyface. Sure, he’d get heat from adult and “smart” fans the same way guys like John Cena and Roman Reigns had when they were being pushed as Raw’s top stars. But as long as the announcers said “polarizing” a lot and he moved merchandise, it would be fine.
They probably should have realized it around when he insinuated that Jon Moxley couldn’t hack it in WWE, as animosity about quotes like that lingered and contributed to the reaction Seth got at Hell in a Cell (his main event against The Fiend being poorly conceived in every way didn’t help, but folks were against Rollins long before the match $#!+ the bed). It was at that point I propose Vince McMahon, Paul Heyman, et al realized there was more money to be made in Rollins as antagonist rather than protagonist. Intentional seeds were then planted in interview and on Twitter to anger/annoy the fan base over the next month. Raw’s drubbing at Survivor Series provided the perfect story vehicle to bring his new “defender of the company” heel to move from the ‘real’ world to the kayfabe one.
[Sorry, saw Knives Out this weekend - which is excellent, btw - and kind of went full Benoit Blanc there for a minute.]
A heel who stands up for the company isn’t new - it’s a well pro wrestling goes to often and that WWE’s over-relied on since the late 90s. Rollins’ is different because of its probably organic, ‘Reality’ Era foundation, and because it’s mixed with a Bob Backlund/Bret Hart-esque character who believes he’s better than everyone else. That superiority has led him to take on the responsibility to do what’s best for us all, even if we’re too dumb to appreciate it.
However it happened, and whatever caused or influenced Seth’s turn, it’s poised to be a boon for the Monday night flagship as we head into WrestleMania season. If WWE Creative doesn’t muck it up, it can also be the vehicle that cements Kevin Owens as one of the biggest male babyfaces of the next decade.
We’ll have another layer of the story unfold before us tonight when Rollins apologizes - probably for not demonstrating some tough love earlier before KO, the Raw roster, and the WWE Universe accepted mediocrity.
The title scene
Would Seth’s story be better if it involved the WWE championship? Eventually it will probably need to, but with Brock Lesnar again not advertised for tonight’s show, it won’t happen for another month or so, at least.
After a week off from television, you figure Raw Women’s champ Becky Lynch will make her return in Nashville, especially after she teamed with Charlotte Flair in a 4Way for the Women’s Tag belts at Starrcade. Flair, who didn’t work with her partner a whole lot last night, is going it alone against Kairi Sane & Asuka tonight. Expect The Man to get involved, at least if the rumor about the PPV coming up on Dec. 15 in Minneapolis is true.
New United States titleholder Rey Mysterio will probably be around - it’s hard to tell since WWE hasn’t posted a full preview for the Dec. 2 Raw as of this writing. He’ll likely do some more celebrating with Dominick, and face the ire of AJ Styles & The O.C.
After picking up the red brand’s lone win in the Battle For Brand Supremacy™, Raw Tag champs Viking Raiders also got last Monday off. They still need new challengers, and I’m voting for Akam & Rezar more than ever after AOP put the boots to KO last week.
Had to double check, but R-Truth is still 24/7 champion. Whew.
Other stuff to keep an eye on
- The actions of his wife & her lover finally pushed Rusev over the edge, and finally got us to a point where we can just an unhinged Bulgarian trying to kill Bobby Lashley. And anything that stands between him and Lana’s love machine.
- Buddy Murphy vs. Aleister Black should finally happen soon, and we keep getting reminders that Andrade is around, so perhaps his long-awaited push will finally happen in 2020.
- Ricochet could be available for a feud with Zelina Vega’s business associate, since Randy Orton has kinda turned babyface and is primed to feud with Drew McIntyre after Geno’s favorite moment of the year.
- Erick Rowan has a friend he keeps in a cage.
Two weeks until TLC!
What will you be looking for on Raw tonight?