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WWE Raw preview (May 13, 2019): Something Wild

The first of WWE’s two nights in London.

The Headliner(s)

This show has a lot working against it. Fans have not been enthused by WWE’s general creative direction since before WrestleMania 35, and the hype for this week’s episodes haven’t done much to change that. The negativity has reached the point where it’s feeding itself (Cageside and my work are part of the problem here, but I and every member of the staff have looked for individual matches, stories and moments we’re enjoying, too. It’s just difficult to stay positive for long when so much of the ten-ish hours of programming we HAVE to watch is such a slog to get through). This week’s shows have the added problem of being taped hours before they’ll air here in the States. So if you’ve got an internet connection, you can learn much of what Vince McMahon will be serving up for you and can decide in advance if you want to give it your time on a Monday event.

What does WWE have going in their favor?

Yep, just before he jumped out of the back of the Red Van last Monday, Vince McMahon declared himself a genius. He’d implemented the “Wild Card Rule”, you see. Up to four SmackDown Superstars can appear on any given Raw show, and vice versa. Network execs will be happy because the company’s biggest stars and storylines can be featured on both brands. McMahon is happy because... he doesn’t have to admit he’s wrong, I guess?

The roster split is a great idea in principle. Spreading the roster across two shows should force them to develop more Superstars, giving them a deeper bench of marketable assets. In reality, even when that happens, they pull the plug on acts that are making a connections with the audience, lose faith in struggling but promising ones, and lean on the same old-same old even when they’re not reaching the fans.

Now, we’re gonna try to accomplish the goals of the brand extension with a subset of the roster not being split. You can probably guess how that’s gonna go... if you guessed an even greater reliance on the people Vince sees as big stars whether they’re over with crowds or not, well, you’ve been paying attention!

Just three shows in to the Wild Card era, we’re already seeing the problem. While anyone can theoretically use a Wild Card spot, there’s really only a handful of people who will regularly cross over.

For the second week in a row, Roman Reigns will make the jump. His storyline with Elias, Miz, Shane McMahon and whatever flunkies Shane O’Mac is employing will probably show up on Tuesday, too. Charlotte Flair is coming over to Team Red tonight for a double contract signing with Lacey Evans for both Becky Lynch’s Money in the Bank Women’s title defenses for this Sunday. Becky gets to be an extra Wild Card as long as she has two belts, but I bet he and Charlotte will move around often regardless.

That’s the problem. The Wild Card Rule could let talent working their way up the card some added exposure. But especially given the ratings-driven reason for its creation, it won’t be used that way. It’ll be used to give us more of the impressive but not truly transcendent talents we’ve been on the fence about for years. The faces will be booked to look like jerks, the heels like funny cowards, and everyone will act dumb.

And we’ll keep getting the same show we already weren’t excited about.


The title scene

They’ve already signed their contract, and been reluctant tag partners. What’s next for Universal champion Seth Rollins and his challenger at this weekend’s pay-per-view (PPV) in Hartford, AJ Styles?

He’s trying to become a Grand Slam champ, but Rey Mysterio needs to keep an eye on Dominick. Whether it’s a Coquina Clutch or some mental manipulation, United States champion Samoa Joe has plans for Rey’s son.

After getting squashed by the Viking Raiders, Curt Hawkins & Zack Ryder still have the Raw Tag Team titles. And if they can manage to stay off the Money in the Bank card, they’ll probably keep the belts a while longer.

Peyton Royce & Billie Kay couldn’t even get on TV last week, so The IIconics Women’s Tag straps are probably safe for another week or so.

Other stuff to keep an eye on

- The men who will compete in Sunday’s Money in the Bank ladder match from the Raw side are going one-on-one in O2 Arena (Braun Strowman vs. Drew McIntyre; Baron Corbin vs. Ricochet). The women (Naomi, Alexa Bliss, Dana Brooke & Natalya) will battle for momentum in a 4Way. There are pretty good odds these will break down without a clear winner. The SmackDown entrants might crash the party even if it gets them over the four Wild Card cap. You know the drill.

- Something embarrassing will happen to The Revival, probably at the hands of The Usos, but if the Planet’s Tag Team Champions get Wild Card-ed over, Vince McMahon might have to prank Scott Dawson & Dash Wilder himself this week.

- “Firefly Funhouse” has been a highlight of recent weeks for yours truly, and tonight should be no exception... especially if Bray Wyatt gives us the answer to his hidden promo message game.

- He was murdered last Monday, but he worked a hell of a WWE title match on Tuesday, so Sami Zayn is probably okay.

- Robert Roode and Lucha House Party were on TV a week ago, which probably means they won’t be tonight.

It’s the Money in the Bank ‘go home’ show!

What will you be looking for on Raw tonight?

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