So the Draft has come and gone and we just had pretty damn great PPV in which the matches were almost uniformly fantastic, but, in many cases, don't seem to lead anywhere in particular. At least, not in terms of booking Raw and Smackdown. So Where Do We Go From Here?
I'm going to run down the card from last night's PPV and try to determine what might be in store for the particpants in each match. I will almost certainly not be correct at all.
Join me in wildly speculating, won't you?
This is your top Smackdown Tag Team feud going forward. They had Breezango get the win here to put them over as a team that The Usos (two-time Champs) have to take seriously. The Usos have star power with the kids, and some of the smarks are starting to develop a unhealthy obsession with the Definition of Delish. Am I one of those smarks? I dunno.
So make this a thing. If there's actually going to be two sets of Tag Belts--and by no means do I think there should be--then you could do a lot worse than these two teams contending for the Smackdown titles.
If you missed Bayley's legendary pop when her entrance music hit, check it out at this link.
It's wonderful thing when the WWE gives us what we want, isn't it? But for all those who wanted this to be Bayley's formal coming up to Raw or Smackdown, y'all need to slow your roll just a bit. As Bayley points out to us in this video, she's still got some unfinished business on NXT:
It does the heart good to see Sasha and Bayley as Backstage Besties, doesn't it?
Also In-RIng Besties. That too.
Anyway, Bayley has a match with Asuka for the NXT Women's Title at the upcoming Takeover, and there's no way they could convince us that there was a possibility of Bayley winning that match were she also a full time member of Raw or Smackdown. Just not believable. But now, who knows? I mean, I still think she'll lose to at Back To Brooklyn and then immediately debut on Summerslam, but you could convince me that it would mean more, long term, for her to become the first ever Two-Time Singles Champion, male or female, in NXT History. She could lose the belt back to Asuka at the fall Takeover, to debut with the next wave of NXT call-ups and by that time, there should be more female talent down there that are ready to assume the mantle.
As far as Sasha goes, she's beating Charlotte at Summerslam. That's a definite. I see her hiring Nia Jax as her Big Mama Cool Diesel, then Nia turning on Sasha sometime around the Rumble. Maybe we get a Fatal 4 Horsewomen match at Mania next year.
Dana Brooke leaves Charlotte and reteams with Evil Emma and I just realized nobody cares about Dana Brooke.
Well, I'm pretty sure the right team won this match, so that's good.
But they're immediately getting broken up, so that's bad.
And the team they beat is forever losing six-man-tag-matches when the belts aren't on the line, so that's bad.
But both teams somehow came out looking strong, so that's good?
I mean, unless you think that Xavier Woods being afraid of man doing a back bridge is going to somehow cause an irreparable rift in the chemistry of the longest reigning tag champs in history, I think the New Day will be just fine.
But on the other side, I don't know, man. And neither do you. Bray Wyatt is the biggest wildcard on the roster. He has the potential to be the biggest heel in the company. But as we all saw for that one fateful night back in April on Raw, when he was manifesting Roman Reigns Spears out of the end of his finger gun, he has the potential to be one of the biggest babyfaces in the company, too.
Or they could go right back to booking him like shit.
At least he's got one guy to back him up in Erick Rowan, who's gotten a little better over the past year. But what is the plan for the Black Sheep of the family? Whither Braun Strowman? I smell one of two things: he winds up as part of a trade and heads to Smackdown to re-team with his swampbilly buddies, or a complete repackaging. As what, you ask? Doesn't matter, they'll screw it up regardless. Probably a biker or something. Maybe they'll re-debut The Yeti.
Ryder tried valiantly but couldn't put a dent in the future 7 Years Champ. During th post-match beatdown, Mojo Rawley came oit to make the save, and by "make the save" I mean "froth at the mouth and generally just make Rusev kind of confused."
Then, later, after the match, the formation of The Hype Bros on SmackDown was confirmed.
Now, I like Mojo Rawley more than most. If you've seen how he is with kids, I can't see how you don't root for him.
I mean, that's just fantastic right there.
So yeah, I'm a Mojo mark, and I kind of want the Hype Bros to become one of the premiere tag teams on Smackdown. That's not exactly a tall order, considering their competition consists mainly of The Vaudevillains and The Ascension, but still. There's always American Alpha to contend with, but that would require turning one of them heel, and that's just throwing away money. I think The Hype Train wil get over with the crowd, and as we saw a few weeks ago on NXT with that barn-burner of a match between them and Ciampa & Gargano, you can put them in the ring with a couple of real workers and they can hold their own.
Rusev, meanwhile ...
He wants some stiffer competition, and I wouldn't mind seeing that either. For now, the US Title is the only Singles Belt on Raw that is available to male heavyweights, so until further notice, have them all line up for a shot. Do a number one contender's tournament, another stupid battle royal, heels, faces, I don't care. Make it another US Open Challenge.
Rusev vs Sheamus.
Rusev vs Big E.
Rusev vs Cesaro.
Rusev vs Sami Zayn.
Rusev vs Kevin Owens.
Rusev vs Roman Reigns.
Rusev vs Seth freaking Rollins.
Dare I even say it?
RUSEV VS BROCK LESNAR.
You have the opportunity to really elevate this title and this guy. Take it.
Man, I've said it before, but when they printed these shirts, they weren't f*cking kidding.
KO won their match at Payback, Sami won here at Battleground. Both were instant classics. Before, and in between, they were involved in some of the best spots of the multi-man Intercontinental Title matches (at Mania and Extreme Rules) and the MITB match.
Somehow I think this all builds to another classic at Summerslam.
Something with real finality to it.
Something ... like Hell in a Cell.
And the Loser leaves Raw for Smackdown. And I think the loser should be Sami Zayn so he can go over there and either take the IC Title from the Miz or so he can feud with Bray Wyatt. Because I loves me some Fantasy Booking.
Owens should return to Raw and is instantly get first crack at the new Raw Heavyweight Title (whatever they're going to call it), battling against newly babyface Seth Rollins.
I mean, while we're fantasy booking, why not?
Becky and Natalya are the absolute cornerstones of the Smackdown women's division until Bayley gets here in the fall. Naomi is just getting back from injury, Carmella and Alexa Bliss are talented, but new, and hopefully Eva Marie is like feuding with Maryse or something.
Get ready for a lot more Becky and Natalya matches, folks.
Well, this was pointless. Let's build up Darren Young with months of split-screen promos between him and
a skeleton wearing a bowtiebeloved and venerable WWE Hall of Famer Bob Backlund, then have him win a #1 Contender's Battle Royal with the special move of "Lying Down in the Corner While Two Other Guys Eliminate Themselves," then have him win his first singles match on Raw in years (maybe ever, it's been so long I can't remember) by distraction roll-up, then have him tap out the Intercontinental Champ to a huge ovation in a tag match on the most watched Smackdown ever, then have his PPV match end like a dry fart in the breeze.
Now Darren Young goes back to Raw, where he's probably going to do this a lot.
They'll probably ignore my "Rusev Takes On All Comers" idea from before and just have Darren Young feud with him. Which is okay, I guess.
I hope Bob Backlund learns how to take off a shirt eventually, though.
As far as The Miz goes:
I don't know who's going to step up and challenge for the Intercontinental Title, maybe Dolph Ziggler, maybe Apollo Crews, maybe Kalisto, maybe Ryder--with Mojo as backup to counteract Maryse. Couldn't you just see Mojo throwing her over his shoulder like a caveman and heading to the back, leaving Ryder to deal with Miz one on one?
But I hope they let Baron Corbin, who has no regard for traditional heel/face alignments, challenge Miz and just absolutely wreck him in like 15 seconds. Keep Miz heel by having him complain that he wasn't ready or that the sun was in his eyes or something, but put the IC Title on Corbin and let him murk fools until you can build a proper babyface contender:
No Way Jose.
He's probably coming up from NXT in the Fall. Show that he has a serious side in his feud with Austin Aries, but let the audience still love chanting along to his theme song, and he'll get over with any crowd.
Just an idea.
This is an easy one. Enzo & Cass are going directly into a feud with Gallows & Anderson, and Cena & Styles are facing each other at Summerslam, and probably beyond. Can't wait on both counts.
But here's where I'm going to go out on a limb: Fatal 4 Way Tag Title Match at Summerslam.
The New Day.
Gallows & Anderson.
Enzo & Cass.
And because God hates me, The Golden Truth.
But that's okay, because someone has to take the pin.
Enzo & Cass get the win, in Brooklyn, and the crowd goes absolutely Guano.
Cena, meanwhile, will lose his feud with AJ when Styles pins him clean as a whistle. I'm predicting that without the rest of The Club around, Styles loses some of his heel edge and becomes something of a tweener, the kind of guy that Cena can begrudgingly respect.
If there are two belts, one on Raw and one on Smackdown, it's only a matter of time before the blue brand has AJ Styles as their World Champ, and I, for one, am literally incapable of waiting for this next thing that I am about to fantasy book. At Mania, have there be no clear challenger for the Smackdown Title, and AJ comes out to challenge anyone from the Locker Room to come out and take it from him. And then his music hits: SAMOA JOE.
In Orlando, in front of TNA-literate crowd, the same crowd that tore the roof off for Styles when he debuted at the Rumble this past January. Can you imagine?
I'm popping for it now just thinking about it.
Oh, and also, John Cena vs Undertaker in the Dead Man's last Mania match.
So we get Brock Lesnar vs Randy Orton at Summerslam. The Beast vs The Legend Killer. #SuplexCity vs #ViperVille.
Great. So Randy counters an F-5 into an RKO, but also eats about 17 Germans, and loses.
Brock back to Raw. Randy back to Smackdown.
So what will it actually matter? I don't have a clue.
And Jericho probably keeps telling people to drink it in, maaaaaaaaannnnnn, and maybe feuds with Cesaro ..... question mark? Honestly, Jericho might be the hardest wrestler to predict something for, considering what brand he's on, and where he is on the card. I could see him working with Finn Balor, the same way he brought AJ into the company, or maybe he resumes that thing he was just getting started with Neville when The Man That Gravity Forgot got grounded by a broken ankle. Or he could resume doing things with Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens and Cesaro. Or none of the above.
Maybe Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel start following him around looking for a new de facto leader of their broken-up faction. Jericho resents it at first, then starts to like the feeling of power, and really embraces having these two guys at his beck and call, finally going too far and treating them like slaves, only to have them turn on him and become a beloved babyface tag team. Then Jericho kayfabe injures Axel and Bo has to face Jericho one on one.
It's the Miz vs Mizdow blow-off match we never got to see.
Wow, actually, yeah, I like that last one. Let's do that.
Can't wait for the next Shield Triple Threat. It's going to be even better than this.
So Dean takes the WWE Title home to Smackdown and leaves a bitter Stephanie to create a brand new belt for Raw.
Either Roman or Rollins will be the first titleholder.
I will continue to hope for a double turn for these two until it happens or until my last dying breath, whichever comes first, and I'm not exactly optimistic about my long term health. Unless they find the fountain of youth at the local hibachi buffet.
There's loads more to discuss, including a new Cruiserweight Division, Finn Balor's place on the main roster, a possible push for newly heelish Cesaro, how quickly Neville can make a full recovery from injury, where Nia Jax fits into the Women's Division, etc. And that's just the stuff on Raw.
Hey, maybe tonight we'll get some answers to those questions!
Wouldn't that be great?
You should come back to Fightful.com and find out with me as I anchor the Live Monday Night Coverage. Then come back again tomorrow morning to see my Uncooked Raw Reaction to all the night's new developments.
And if you're looking for something to keep you occupied until 8/7c tonight, why not click on that YouTube video way at the top of this page and hear me and Sean Ross Sapp shoot on what we thought about Battleground.
Until then, I've been Alex Pawlowski, aka The A-Train, and this is going to be me when Samoa Joe answers that AJ challenge at Wrestlemania 33.
You can follow me on Twitter @pawlowskithe4th
- From The Web