Live from ThunderDome!
In a recent SmackDown preview, the homie Kyle Decker wisely called for WWE to not do the Survivor Series invasion angles that have been a staple of their November programming over the past few years. It seems (likely with some encouragement from their COVID protocols) Deck is getting his wish.
The main result is that the main men’s title programs are continuing unabated on both brands. But it’s also refocused attention on how the traditional elimination tag teams can be used to set-up feuds for the months after the pre-Thanksgiving PPV.
Last Monday’s segments dealing with Raw’s men’s and women’s teams were simple but effective examples. AJ Styles, more delusional than ever now that he’s got a giant
bodyguard friend watching his back, has named himself captain of a squad full of guys almost as big as Jordan Omogbehin. Those guys (Keith Lee, Sheamus & Braun Strowman) can’t help themselves from clobbering each other... something that creative wisely encouraged by putting them in a Triple Threat.
Seeing any or all combinations of those four in matches against each other sounds fun*. And with the exception of the Phenomenal One, they all seem pretty fluid in their alignment right now, so feuds can be pretty plug-and-play.
A fifth man will be determined tonight when Riddle faces Jeff Hardy & Elias in a last chance qualifier. My guess is that the Bro formerly known as Matt advances as Hardy & Elias continue their beef, and Riddle would fit nicely in the “team of rivals” model Raw’s working with so far.
It’s a similar dynamic on the women’s side, although I’m admittedly less enthused with the possibilities due to the in-ring limitations of several members of the squad. Everything circles around the WWE Women’s Tag Team champions Shayna Baszler & Nia Jax, who are already being challenged by their Survivor Series teammates Dana Brooke & Mandy Rose.
And while there certainly might be wrestlers I’d rather see getting the television time, the Lana/Jax program’s been well-executed - and a real boon to fans of table spots.
Of course, now that I’ve said all that, we’re probably in for two weeks of INVASIONS.
* Until they let the feud run on for months and months, as they are wont to do.
The title scene
It’s a good thing they’re lining up mid-card programs, because WWE champ Randy Orton has his hands full. In addition to his match with Roman Reigns on Nov. 22, Drew McIntyre wants his belt back, and Bray Wyatt wants revenge. The two challengers will probably interact in some way coming out of McIntyre’s chat tonight with Bray’s newest Firefly Alexa Bliss.
The Raw Women’s titleholder doesn’t have that problem. She can spend all her time worrying about Sasha Banks, apparently. A week after palling around with The New Day backstage, Asuka had last Monday off. But it does seem like she might have a RECKONING with RETRIBUTION’s Mia Yim soon.
Xavier Woods & Kofi Kingston didn’t have that luxury. The Raw Tag Team champions picked up a ‘L’ in non-title action The Hurt Business’ Cedric Alexander & Shelton Benjamin. That usually means a rematch with the belts on the line is coming. We’ll see if that happens before or after New Day vs. Street Profits at Survivor Series.
Poor R-Truth tried to lay down for United States champ Bobby Lashley in their match last week, but the big jerk kicked his ass anyway. Then he threw Drew Gulak on top of Truth to end his 42nd run as 24/7 champion. We’re always only moments away from him getting his baby back, though. Oh yeah, Lashley will face Sami Zayn in two weeks. Hopefully his sisters stay home this time.
Other stuff to keep an eye on
- After his first cash-in attempt was thwarted by the King of Claymore Country, it’s back to the drawing board for Miz-ter Money in the Bank and his faithful sidekick John Morrison.
- RETRIBUTION’s motto is that no sin is forgiven until it’s punished. Mustafa Ali’s crew made Tucker pay for betraying Otis last week, and took out Ricochet for trying to stop justice. Who’s next?
- Nikki Cross isn’t ready to let her friend Alexa Bliss fall completely under The Fiend’s thrall without a fight.
- Angel Garza has a crush on someone, and they like him back. It’s probably just himself, but it’s more fun to speculate about secret admirers.
- We’re not sure if Peyton Royce and Lacey Evans are friends or foes, but I’m sure I hate it.
Two weeks until Survivor Series!
What will you be looking for on Raw tonight?