It’s WWE Shakeup time and one of the most intriguing Raw’s we’ve had in recent times. And it was a hell of a show, one of the better Raw’s of late.
Everyone knows I am a huge fan of storytelling, in general and particularly in wrestling. And the WWE Shakeup on Raw was a very important time for the development of WWE stories. The WWE Shakeup is an opportunity to end old storylines and begin new ones. And it’s here we see where the WWE is headed in the future.
Miz and Maryse opened the 10 / 4 / 2017 episode of WWE Raw. And it’s funny how Miz and Maryse have found their best moments since they started ripping off John Cena and Nikki Bella. Miz and Maryse are basicall John Cena and Nikki Bella Version 2, so Miz and Maryse are basically mocking themselves here. But oh boy is it working. Mocking Cena has actually made The Miz popular, and as this episode of RAW made clear, Miz is going to get a lot of screen time because of it.
Dean Ambrose then came to the ring pretending he didn’t realise it was Miz and Maryse. And as usual, Dean’s sold his spot well, especially at the end when he realise it was really Miz and immediately punched him.
So it seems Miz and Dean Ambrose are going to have a rivalry. Weird. Because Miz and Ambrose could have had their rivalry on Smackdown, so why wait until after the WWE Shakeup to make it happen?
Next, the brilliant Kurt Angle (who has the most sparkly eyes ever) booked a match between Miz and Sammy Zayn. So within five minutes of being on RAW Miz has two rivalries. And he is going to get a lot of screen time out of those rivalries.
Next, New Day came to the ring looking amazing in their new colours with new gloves and wristbands. And their new rivalry against The Revival looks like a good booking.
Technically speaking, whenever you write a rivalry (in wrestling, in a novel, in a movie, in anything) it’s best to have characters who clash. Luke Skywalker VS Darth Vader. Frodo VS Sauron. A good fight is between two equal but opposites.
New Day and The Revival are both equal and opposite. Of course, they are both good teams in the ring, but their characters clash too, New Day with that over-the-top theatricality, and The Revival with that old school, man’s man style. The fact that New Day lost also helps the story, because New Day could use a setback. They’ve been sitting on high too long. And conflict is one of the keys to a good story. So this one is set-up nicely.
Also, The Revival and New Day attract totally different fans. The Revival are popular among hardcore wrestling fans. New Day are popular among kids and people who love the more theatrical elements of wrestling. That means that every New Day and The Revival fight some fans will be cheering for New Day and some for The Revival, which is great for atmosphere.
Then, Neville, Austin Aries and T.J Perkins have their spot.
This spot achieved a hell of a lot. Neville is obviously a god and one of the most talented people in WWE. His character is sublime, in the ring, on the mic, even on commentary as he was in this episode of RAW. Austin Aries is similarly good, though he did get his Wrestlemania spot a little easily. T.J Perkins, however, needs reinvention.
Neville manipulated T.J Perkins into attacking Austin Aries after the match. And this achieved a lot. It took T.J Perkin’s character in a new direction as he may now turn heel. It set Austin Aries back, and he has needed more conflict recently. And it made Neville look more powerful and more influential, the way he manipulated T.J Perkins into turning heel.
Seth Freaking Rollins came to the ring next. Man, Seth Rollins. He’s just come back from injury, and it looks like the Cross-fit Jesus is going to get resurrected in time for Easter.
Kurt Angle came to the ring and told Seth Rollins that he was a fan of his, and that he wanted him on Raw. This will set-up the upcoming rivalry between Kurt Angle and The Authority, and it also carries Seth Rollins’ character in a new direction by aligning him with a new ally. Allies, after all, are one of the most important parts of any character (what would Frodo be without Sam?).
One of the more surprising moments of the 11 / 4 / 2017 episode of WWE Raw was Charlotte VS Nia Jax. Before Wrestlemania, if I had had to pick one female wrestler who would be moved down a peg it would not be Charlotte. She has it all. She’s arguably the most talented woman in the history of WWE. But she’s on a losing streak.
As with New Day, Charlotte’s loss is not actually going to be a real setback. In any story, characters need losses. One of the most important moments in the entire Star Wars series is when Luke loses his fight against Darth Vader in Empire Strikes Back. Why? Because losses make characters more human. And they also create viewer sympathy. Charlotte is gaining our sympathy right now because she is losing. And sympathy is one of the most important parts of a Face (a popular character). So if WWE Creative are choosing to make Charlotte lose, it is possible they are trying to make use feel sympathy for Charlotte, which would suggest they want to make her a face for the first time in a long while.
Nia Jax, meanwhile, is on a rampage. But damn do WWE need to develop her character. Nix Jax has so much potential. But WWE are selling her on the fact that is big and powerful, and only on that. That’s a problem.
Trust me, no one’s happier to see a plus size model in WWE than I am. But being plus size in itself is not enough of a character. We need to see Nia Jax’s background. Who is she? What is she about? We know so much about Sasha, Bayley and Charlotte. We need to know more about Nia Jax. Come on, WWE, make it happen.
Jinder Mahal VS Finn Balor was next. Not much to say about this one. Jinder Mahal is a great talent and needs to be pushed. Finn Balor is exceptional and will become champion again. The match, however, was forgettable. But then something godlike happened.
Bray Wyatt came on the Titantorn and told Finn Balor, essentially, that he needed to watch out. And if this is a rivalry that WWE Creative is going to push then damn it is good. These two characters, who are similar but different, could create an absolutely brilliant story. Undertaker VS Mankind was great in 1998 because they were similar characters (satanic, occultist) but different. Finn Balor and Bray Wyatt would be a similar set-up.
And then there was even more Miz and Maryse…
Roman Reigns’ interview with Michael Cole did absolutely nothing. “Do you regret…” said Cole, to which Roman Reigns kinda ummed and ahhhed. Pointless. Terrible interview. “Thank you, Strowman,” for interrupting and absolutely destroying Roman Reigns.
It should have been Braun Strowman who beat The Undertaker at Wrestlemania. It would have really cemeneted Braun Strowman as a beast (and a rivalry with Brock Lesnar could have followed). We didn’t get that. But we did get Braun Strowman beating up Roman Reigns on Raw and pushing the ambulance over. And that was pretty darned godlike. The fans were on the top of their game too, chanting “You deserve it” when Roman Reigns was being decimated. Damn I love WWE fans.
Shamus & Cesaro then teamed with Matt & Jeff to face Gallows & Anderson and The Shining Stars. An entertaining match, but it did little in terms of story-development.
Next up, Sasha Banks came to the ring looking “Shucky Ducky Quack Quack”. Sasha introduce Bayley. And at the beginning there was a clear moment when these two came across as best friends in a way they never have before. That’s because there was no rivalry going on here, it was just Bayley and Sasha being friends.
Until… Sasha asked Bayley for a title match. And Bam, the friendship is (probably) going to be over. But not before Alexa Bliss got involved.
Little Miss Bliss, one of the single most talented women in wrestling, belongs on Raw. Her branding is perfect for RAW. And the rivalry between Alexa Bliss and Sasha Banks and Bayley is going to be amazing.
Whether or not Mickie James belongs in this picture is up for debate. The self-professed best WWE Women’s Champion of all time is back on RAW (and with a new look).
Bayley, Sasha Banks and Alexa Bliss all have a similar style and would make for a great rivalry. While Nia Jaz is like a wrecking ball head at a bunch of bowling pins. What Mickie James adds to this set-up is a mystery to me (leave a comment and let me know your thoughts on this).
And finally, we get Dean Ambrose VS. Kevin Owens. But I will have to write that up tomorrow morning, so, check back for updates.