WWE heads to Flair County, as Raw comes our way from Charlotte on Oct. 29.
Following Roman Reigns’ shocking revelation from last Monday, The Shield is broken and the Universal championship is vacant. With lots of digital ink already dedicated to the former with lots more to come, let’s discuss the latter. And with only one of the two men set to fight in Saudi Arabia for the red belt likely to be on this evening’s show, let’s talk about Braun Strowman.
It feels like forever ago, but coming into 2018 the Monster Among Men was pretty much the hottest act in wrestling. He’d been getting cheers for a while, but fresh off a real babyface turn during his feud with The Miz, it felt like fans were as fired up for Strowman then as they are for Becky Lynch now. A defiant moment with Triple H at Survivor Series left fans thirsty form Braun to take down company backed stars like Reigns and Lesnar, but first he was diverted into a feud with Kane. Then came a series of novelty angles like partnering with a child at WrestleMania and being smitten with Alexa Bliss in Mixed Match Challenge.
Even before he went heel again shortly after Roman beat Brock for the title at SummerSlam, Strowman had been cooled off to the point his second turn of the year was met more with an eye roll than anything else.
Now, he’s a good guy again, because with Roman Reigns’ career on hold for Joe Anoa’i’s battle with leukemia, WWE needs faces and we need someone to cheer. Hopefully, the passion which came from the investment we made in Braun’s character at this time last year can return. But with the way he’s been written over the past few months and a hotter program going on between the Big Dog’s Shield brothers, it’s going to be an uphill climb.
That’s partly because it’s easy to draw parallels between the way WWE treats Strowman and how they’ve written similar “monster” characters like Kane and Big Show. Someone who looks like that can always be quickly heated up for an emergency title run or because a good guy needs a mountain to climb. When they’re not needed for that, bring on the comedy.
What’s not clear is if after a year of booking that’s already swung from goofy to villainous he can become a conquering hero again. We’ll start to find out as they continue reestablishing Crown Jewel’s title fight as a one-on-one match tonight.
The title scene
Most of the focus on the end of last Monday’s show’s been on Dean Ambrose attacking Seth Rollins. And we do want to hear what both the Lunatic Fringe and the Architect have to say about that. But Ambrose’s assault also happened after he and Seth captured the tag team belts belts from Drew McIntyre & Dolph Ziggler. And after Strowman and McIntyre had battled off into the night (that following Drew’s monster hunt, where he Claymored Braun shortly after he sounded a noble note during his promo with Paul Heyman). And don’t forget Seth Rollins is still Intercontinental champ. Whew. There’s a lot to unpack there. Glad I’m not in that writer’s room.
More clear is the Women’s title scene, where last night’s Evolution show ended with Ronda Rousey standing tall and Nia Jax with a title shot in her pocket. When they get a chance to finish what they started at Money in the Bank, will the Irresistable Force be the Rowdy One’s next victim? Or does Nikki Bella have other plans?
Other stuff to keep an eye on:
– lf the recent pattern holds, any mention of where their tag match takes place will probably be booed. But DX and the Brothers of Destruction will have to dance around saying Saudi Arabia and Crown Jewel in their promos, because they do have a tag match to sell on Friday’s pay-per-view (PPV).
– There’s also the matter of the World Cup field, where all reports indicate John Cena will need to be replaced in the field of eight. Will that be Lashley, fresh off a heel turn of his own – not to mention a loss to Finn Bálor?
– Speaking of turns, how is babyface Elias going to work? We’ll find out more when we see how they follow up his attack on acting General Manager Baron Corbin from last week.
– They won’t be on Crown Jewel, but Sasha Banks, Bayley & Natalya picked up some momentum with a win over Riott Squad on PPV last night. Maybe it’s time to introduce some new belts to the women’s division?
It’s the Evolution fallout / Crown Jewel ‘go home’ show!
What will you be looking for on Raw tonight?