Under siege. No, make that “hashtag under siege.” That’s what the WWE wanted fans to take away from the most recent edition of Monday Night Raw. During the final segment of the show, Shane McMahon lead a large chunk of SmackDown Live‘s roster down through the crowd and into the arena.
This was supposed to be an invasion. SmackDown was supposed to be establishing itself as the superior brand as they tore through various members of the mid-card, 205 live and the women’s division before beating down Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose in roughly six seconds.
In reality, no one in the entire company actually came off looking strong, smart or superior.
Wrestling has changed a lot over the last decade or so, but a handful of tentpole concepts still remain. Motivation is the most important part of developing a character in any form of storytelling because that’s the gasoline that keeps your players moving forward.
If there’s no why then there should be no action. At least in theory.
That’s one reason why the siege came off as an empty way to kill time and spike interest in Survivor Series. Because we didn’t know — and still don’t know — what the motivations were for all of the wrestlers who showed up to attack members of the Raw roster. The why is very important. Otherwise, what’s the point?
McMahon tried to pass it off as a hit first or get hit first choice, but that motivation doesn’t explain why several wrestlers who are involved in active feuds would cast those differences aside simply to assault people who perform on Monday nights instead of Tuesday.
The whole “they’re wearing the wrong colors” angle is flat as a can of Coke that has been rolling around in the back of your car for the last three weeks. And having folks like Bobby Roode and Dolph Ziggler suddenly fighting side by side, only to try to sell us their dislike for each other the next night is a slap in the face to the audience.
So, too, is the idea that wrestlers who are faces on Tuesday night would go out and attack helpless members of the Raw roster while they are changing into their street clothes. Watching members of the New Day beat down unsuspecting people in the middle of locker rooms felt wrong. Where’s the Power of Positivity? Aren’t they against antics like that? If not, what’s the point of the (fantastic) program they just had with the Usos?
Are viewers supposed to tune in for the next few weeks and cheer Shane McMahon as he tries to one-up Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn, even though he just led a full-frontal assault on the members of the Raw roster without warning or provocation?
What about A.J. Styles? Arguably the top face in the company and one of the best workers in the world on Tuesday night, but an outright bully-heel on Mondays? Watching the invasion unfold was essentially like watching the entire SmackDown roster turn heel. Except we were supposed to forget all those character implications — after we subscribed to the WWE Network, of course — and watch SmackDown on Tuesday like none of those things happened.
It’s not like there wasn’t a consciousness objector, either. It would have been really interesting to see certain wrestlers take the aggressive route with Shane while others — presumably faces — hung back with Daniel Bryan.
Not only does SmackDown’s roster now come off as looking horrible, but so does Raw’s group of performers. Apollo Crews and Titus O’Neil were around to get their heads kicked in, but where was Brock Lesnar? We know he was at the arena because he was in the middle of the ring less than half an hour before SmackDown invaded.
The Beast Incarnate just allowed members of the Blue Brand to assault everyone in their path and just didn’t feel like fighting? Was Finn Balor still selling the three chokeslams he took from Kane earlier in the night, and thus unable to help? Where was the Big Red Machine — a wrestler who the WWE is obviously trying to build up for a run in with Braun Strowman down the road. Jason Jordan, Luke Gallows, Karl Anderson, The Miz… all nowhere to be found.
Maybe they each have their own individual motivations for not getting involved, but if they don’t want to fight an invading SmackDown roster, then why would they want to take part in Survivor Series in the first place? The result of this fiasco is that SmackDown now looks like a bunch of heels while the members of Raw look like a bunch of pushovers. That feeling spread, even more, when the red brand failed to respond in any way during SmackDown.
The whole point was to build intrigue in Survivor Series. Instead, WWE creative shot itself in the foot and tore down any semblance of storytelling that could have occurred on Monday night. It was lazy, hamfisted and made everyone look awful. One missed opportunity doesn’t mean the whole shebang is out the window, though. Here’s hoping this angle improves as the weeks go on.