WWE is in a lull right now. We’re two weeks past TLC and just about three weeks away from Survivor Series. With the new PPV schedule since the brand split, a month without a PPV on Sunday night seems like an eternity.
That’s not to say there’s nothing going on in WWE. Since the day before TLC, WWE has had an outbreak of viral meningitis, fired several superstars, seen the returns of Samoa Joe, Stephanie McMahon and Kane, and the disappearances of Bray Wyatt and Roman Reigns.
Here’s what’s been on my mind since last time.
The Professor’s Random Thoughts – Autumn Angst Edition
Emma wasn’t ready for Asuka – It was a strange week for Emma. She lost a match to the debuting Asuka at TLC (in a much more competitive bout than anyone not named Vince expected), lost a rematch in the same fashion on the following night’s Raw, and was then “future endeavored” along with Darren Young and Summer Rae. Emma had been featured more prevalently on TV just lately, so it’s weird that she was let go alongside two performers who haven’t been seen for a year or so. I haven’t heard any rumors of bad behavior, or of Emma being disgruntled (ala Neville and Nia Jax). Apparently, getting beat twice by the Empress of Tomorrow caused WWE to sour on Emma. #lookingforwork.
Speaking of Darren Young – My son Jake and I have an inside joke that we use to describe performers that haven’t been seen in a long while. We used to say that they were trapped in David Otunga’s basement. Then, Otunga was on the commentary team, and on TV every week, so we had to switch it up. We decided on Darren Young’s basement. Now that Young is gone, we’ll need a new basement for underused performers to hang out in. Maybe Dana Brooke’s basement.
Stephanie doesn’t make sense – Stephanie McMahon appeared on last Monday’s Raw, and was up to her old ways. She verbally abused Kurt Angle and threatened his job (though she didn’t slap him). Apparently, Stephanie is holding Kurt responsible for a viral outbreak, Kane and Co. throwing Braun Strowman into a garbage truck, and allowing Shane McMahon to bring the entire SmackDown Live roster to Raw and attack everyone backstage. I don’t see how Kurt could be expected to stop an outbreak of meningitis. The way Kane has been built up since he came back, Kurt couldn’t be expected to stop him from tossing Strowman in the trash, and even Daniel Bryan, who works on SmackDown, didn’t know that Shane was bringing the troops to Raw. Besides all that, isn’t Stephanie Kurt’s boss? As Raw’s Commissioner, isn’t she equally culpable for all the chaos? At least Shane shows up for work most Tuesday nights.
Samoa Joe is back – It’s been a long time since we’ve seen the Samoan Submission Machine. He didn’t look to be suffering from ring rust when he showed up on Monday. Joe was hotter than fire when he went down with a knee injury a few months ago. He should be pushed back to the top of the card as soon as possible.
Survivor Series card – WWE made an error when they announced that all Raw champions would be facing their SmackDown counterparts at Survivor Series. That simply advertised to the WWE Universe that none of the major belts on either show is going to change hands before the end of November. The company offered something of a disclaimer a week later, stating that U.S. Champion Baron Corbin would be facing The Miz at Survivor Series, but only if Miz was still the champ after his match with Matt Hardy. It was too little too late. No one seriously thought Miz was going to drop the belt there. The champ vs. champ lineup will provide some interesting pairings. Jinder Mahal is being fed to Brock Lesnar. Miz and Corbin will battle in a match featuring two heels, and the Usos and Shield will likely tear the place down. The women will feature two heels as well, with Alexa Bliss taking on Natalya. I don’t think any of those belts will change hands before November 19 – with Nattie being the possible exception.
SmackDown’s invasion didn’t live up to the hype – WWE was hoping that Shane McMahon and company’s invasion of Raw would take the WWE Universe by storm, much like the debuts of The Shield and the Nexus. They even tried to push a hashtag (#underseige), only to see it fail to trend. The problem is that no one knew what The Shield or The Nexus wanted at first. No one really knew who the performers were or why they were attacking people. There’s a built-in storyline for a SmackDown invasion of Raw. Apparently, everyone that works on Tuesday nights couldn’t wait to put on a blue tee shirt and go kick some ass. Babyfaces like The New Day and AJ Styles were side-by-side with heels like Corbin and Dolph Ziggler as the invasion went down, then back to fighting amongst themselves the next night on SmackDown. This might have made sense on the go-home Raw before the PPV, but even then, it doesn’t really fit. It would make more sense if SmackDown went to invade Raw, only to discover that crafty heels like Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn had alerted the Raw wrestlers, who would then administer a beat down to the invaders, while Owens and Zayn would reap the benefits the next night.
Next time, we’ll talk a bit about Asuka’s debut, and compare it to the debuts of Shinsuke Nakamura and Bobby Roode. We’ll also keep our eyes on what’s happening on Raw and SmackDown as we edge ever closer to Survivor Series. Till ‘then……