WWE puts away the ladders and heads to Albany, New York for the May 20 episode of Monday Night Raw.
Everyone’s had a chance to say their peace about Mr. Money in the Bank, and we’ll probably spend the next few weeks re-stating our positions. So let’s talk about a smaller announcement which kind of got lost in the bigger news from last night’s pay-per-view (PPV) - Mick Foley’s appearance on this week’s Raw, and this new championship he’s going to introduce.
(If it happens. As I’m writing this at 2AM Eastern Monday morning, there’s nothing from WWE.com on the announcement. A new title has also been curiously absent from the rumor mill, which means it was either a closely guarded secret or something Vince McMahon thought of Sunday afternoon.)
Assuming no one changes their mind about the thing and it goes off as planned... what is it? And more importantly, why on earth does anyone think WWE needs more titles when they don’t find the time to keep the ones they already have involved in ongoing stories?
If I had the book, Mick would show up tonight and announce he’s unifying the tag divisions. Our Raw Tag Team champs, Curt Hawkins & Zack Ryder, aren’t really feuding with anyone. They can’t seem to beat anyone other The Revival, who looked like they were about to start a feud with The Usos. But now Jimmy & Jey have a win over the blue brand champs, and appear likely to Wild Card themselves into chasing Rowan & Daniel Bryan. Which might create an opening for Viking Raiders to win the belts, but Erick & Ivar already seem doomed to an AOP-type main roster existence.
What was I talking about again?
Oh yeah, the new title. I’m definitely not the only one who connected the dots between Mick’s involvement and the erosion of the brand split and thought “they’re bringing the Hardcore belt back, aren’t they?”
That belt, which existed between 1998 and 2002, was first held by Mankind - one of the Faces of Foley. Matches for the belt had no disqualification, no countout, and falls count anywhere stipulations. For about half of its existence, it was contested under the ‘24/7 rule’ whereby a Hardcore title match could happen whenever or wherever a referee was present.
Re-introducing such a belt not only gets curious fans to check out what happens tonight, but it allows WWE to tell stories across brands. If anything, a ‘24/7 rule’ would make more sense in 2019 than it did at the turn of the century, as now they can use it to create online content, too. Most of the latter day Hardcore title angles were comedic in nature. And that’s fine. If you’re gonna have another belt, have one that can have programs play out in cutaway scenes and on Twitter.
So, I’m guessing that’s what we’re getting. And if WWE is actually going to add titles instead of consolidating existing ones, the Hardcore title is probably the best option.
The title scene
His UFC career seemingly over, Brock Lesnar returned to WWE last night, and grabbed a title shot with a few minutes work. Is this how we get the rumored WrestleMania rematch against Universal champion Seth Rollins at Super ShowDown? Seth’s post-victory handshake with AJ Styles indicated theirs was a one-show program, for now anyway. So the Beastslayer needs a new challenger, and it looks like it’s gonna be the Beast.
She’s only got the one belt now, and Raw Women’s champ Becky Lynch probably still has a thing or two to say to Lacey Evans after a Woman’s Right helped cost her the SmackDown title.
The story of Samoa Joe, new United States titleholder Rey Mysterio, and Rey’s son Dominick surely isn’t finished. It’ll resume as soon as Mysterio and Joe are medically cleared to resume full-contact activities.
Speaking of (relatively) new titles, The IIconics and their Women’s Tag straps are probably headed to a feud with Kabuki Warriors. I think, Wild Card not withstanding, Paige’s team is on SmackDown. Therefore Peyton Royce & Billie Kay probably won’t be on tonight’s show. But who knows?
Other stuff to keep an eye on
- So, since Sami Zayn was probably attacked by Brock last night and not Braun Strowman, are they done feuding? Will we find out why Braun is facing Bobby Lashley in Jeddah next month?
- Baron Corbin & Drew McIntyre were a big part of how Zayn claimed Strowman’s ladder match spot in the first place. Does the Monster Among Men have beef with them? Or are they gonna fight each other since Corbin went all “every man for himself” on Drew towards the end of Money in the Bank?
- Like a true WWE babyface, Miz continues to be outsmarted by Shane McMahon. Should have brought some back-up to that steel cage match, Mike.
- How will Bray Wyatt top last week’s reveal during Firefly Funhouse? Yowie Wowie, can’t wait to find out!
- Can Nikki Cross turn the pop she got from Hartford into regular TV time? Is her storyline with Alexa Bliss back on, or will all things Goddess be put on hold until WWE determines when/if she can wrestle again?
- Will they remember Mojo Rawley and his face paint this week? Is Ricochet going to resume 50/50-ing with Robert Roode?
It’s the Money in the Bank fallout show!
What will you be looking for on Raw tonight?