The most recent edition of Monday Night Raw was a fun show for a variety of reasons. As grand as it was to watch Kane attack and get the better of Braun Strowman to close the show (it wasn’t), the most intriguing part of the evening was the return of Paige and the debuts of Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville.
This shook up a stale Women’s Division, and we’re all for that. WWE now has a half-dozen decent possible storylines at their fingertips, and it’s tough to imagine ways that creative could botch Paige vs Alexa Bliss or Paige vs Askua — rivalries that could quickly become the most relevant Women’s Division squabble in recent memory.
Paige’s return along with Rose and Deville debuting was enjoyable because it was unforeseen (to some degree) and well executed. Bravo to the red brand for pulling this off without a hitch and viewers should be excited to tune in on Monday to witness the fallout.
How will Bliss respond to being attacked? What will become of the four women who were involved in the fatal four-way match that Paige interrupted? How will Askua fit into all of this? Possibilities are boundless, and it’s the freshest the division has felt since the four horsewomen changed the game entirely.
Then we got to Tuesday night, which had to have been one of the most uninspired SmackDown Lives we’ve seen in quite some time. The debut of the Bludgeon Brothers wasn’t awful, but for the most part, the blue brand failed to jump off of Survivor Series with any kind of real momentum.
This was compounded by the way WWE chose to debut Ruby Riot — who has money written all over her — Sarah Logan and Liv Morgan. Listen, storylines are recycled in wrestling all of the time. It’s tough to come up with truly unique stories, and the best angles are typically based on reality in some fashion. Who wouldn’t trade their right pinky finger to watch Stone Cold and the Rock build up to WrestleMania one more time?
But debuting two three-women stables on back-to-back nights in an identical fashion is just plain lazy. Unless it’s part of some kind of overarching invasion angle that involves both shows — something that seems highly unlikely because the announce team on Tuesday didn’t make a connection between the two events — this was a huge squandered opportunity for SmackDown Live.
Paige can just strut down the ramp and do what she did because she’s built up a lot of clout with fans over her career. This wasn’t her first appearance. Piggybacking emerging talents like Rose and Deville makes a lot of sense as well, as both competitors can remain part of meaningful storylines by way of proxy.
Riot doesn’t have that same kind of equity built up with your average WWE fan. Anyone who watches NXT on the Network knows what she brings to the table, but creative failed to bring her in with any sort of real impact. We saw the same exact thing happen the night before, just with different superstars.
It’s seriously mind-boggling that creative presumably had more than 12 seconds to come up with a way to debut high-end workers like Riot, Logan and Morgan yet couldn’t come up with something beyond what was done with Paige 24 hours prior.
This could have been a memorable debut for this trio of talented performers. Instead, we were left with a ho-hum impression, and it’s difficult to feel like these three have much to build off of heading into next week. Don’t believe us? Just wait until Riot stands in the middle of the ring on Tuesday night and explains her actions. Odds are good it’ll be the run-of-the-mill “Nothin’ personal, I just wanted to make an impact so I took out the biggest stars already here.”
Where have we seen that before?
Everywhere. We’ve seen that everywhere before. Including but not limited to Monday Night Raw the night prior.