Within the chaotic WWE landscape, things are quickly forgotten. Well, when The Authors of Pain arrived on Monday Night RAW, the perception surrounding them was rather different. It was the night after WrestleMania and following 18 months in the NXT Tag Title picture, the powerhouse duo certainly belonged. As a part of WWE’s 3rd brand, Rezar and Akam had very much proved their worth, taking part in some genuinely memorable affairs and improving with every outing. Their call-up was long-awaited and at last, they’d finally arrived.
In fact, there was such a wait for AOP’s main roster debut that it almost stalled their momentum in NXT, leaving them without too much to do after such an initially dominant run as champions. However, the young team failed to hit the ground running, immediately having Paul Ellering taken from them in an ominous sign of what soon followed. To begin with, there was just a lack of direction, with AOP being featured in enhancement matches early before quickly fading off TV. That immediately took the shine off their arrival and things wouldn't immediately improve either.
Instead, Rezar and Akam would be paired with Titus Worldwide for a programme that in truth, was doomed to fail regardless of individual performances. Due to their respective presentations going in, the feud didn't elevate either but instead, only minimized AOP while exposing their current weaknesses as characters. In the end, very little had been achieved but before long, a renewed focus would finally emerge. With the RAW tag team division struggling for relevance, AOP were given a fresh start, most importantly with Drake Maverick now by their side.
Reminiscent of Ellering’s impact back in NXT, the 205 Live General Manager gave the AOP characters a simple but understandable purpose, providing them a voice even if in only brief talking opportunities. Maverick also gave the team a chance to logically reset, renewing their invincibility in some ways by using Drake as a new start for all involved. With Maverick at the helm, AOP were once again featured as enhancement match victors, before being thrust upward in a quite tremendous vote of confidence.
Operating as Baron Corbin’s mystery partners opposite The Shield, AOP found themselves featured in a lengthy RAW main event out of nowhere. Though Corbin would take the fall for their team, AOP looked at home in the feature match, reminding the wrestling world of their prior NXT heights. The truth is, this spot wasn't really anything new for the duo, instead simply exposing their genuine skill-set to a wider audience. On an admittedly smaller scale, Akam and Rezar had thrived in very similar spots not all that long ago, and this was the perfect opportunity for them to repeat that success.
They did just that and less than two months later, AOP claimed the RAW Tag Team titles, dethroning a solo Seth Rollins in rather fittingly violent fashion. Considering their journey to the gold, it hadn't been an exactly traditional ascension but nonetheless, this was an undeniable moment of validation for the former NXT titleholders. It hadn't been the smoothest ride but in mostly short showings, AOP had proven their worth and with Maverick by their side, are now being trusted as the centerpiece of a division in the midst of a much needed rebuild phase.
On their main roster work alone, I’d imagine it’s relatively hard to imagine Akam and Rezar succeeding in this spot, but their NXT resume allows for much more confidence. As an almost brand new team, AOP usually made the most of their spotlight back then, performing with a confidence consistency well beyond their years. However, that was NXT and this is Monday Night RAW. With a different product and an extra layer or two of exposure, this is a brand new challenge for AOP and this Sunday at Survivor Series, they’ll meet their first key roadblock.
Just two weeks into their reign, Akam and Rezar will take part in a champion vs. champion clash, going head to head with SmackDown Live titleholders The Bar. While their own division may be slightly lacking on established top duos, AOP are matched with one of WWE’s most revered teams here, finding themselves in a key spot opposite an elite tandem. After a shaky start, AOP have recently steadied the ship but in order to give their reign some immediate momentum, their performance on Sunday needs to be a continuation of the evolution that was once so impressive in that NXT run.
Thankfully, Cesaro and Sheamus are undeniably great opponents and historically, that’s allowed The Authors of Pain to thrive without fail. It may be a different stage with new opponents but this domineering team remains the same and hopefully, that’ll show in impressive fashion this Sunday at Survivor Series.