It was said that the transition of power to WWE’s new creative directors would be a gradual one, but Raw this week clearly already had Paul Heyman’s fingerprints all over it.
Anyone with any knowledge of Heyman’s previous work running ECW and being a lead writer for WWE could tell that his influence was already making an impact Monday night. That said, word from backstage is that things did not feel dramatically different. It will likely take a bit longer for the full impact of new creative decisions to be felt, but it certainly seemed like things were on the right track towards course correction of recent missteps this week. Heyman’s backstage role is not expected to be used on screen though. He will still be seen as Brock Lesnar’s “advocate” but won’t use screen time as an authority figure.
Along with the creative changes behind the scenes, there’s some talk that we may soon see changes to the stage set. It’s possible that the destruction of a large chunk of the LED wall this week by Braun Strowman and Bobby Lashley was in service of introducing the new look. However, it’s entirely possible the timing of these two things was merely coincidence. We’ll see next Monday if the busted LED wall has been replaced as is or with a completely new layout.
Other assorted news and notes…
The recently resigned Mike and Maria Kanellis returned to Raw this week. They’ve been primarily working 205 Live for some time now but showed up Monday night to challenge top power couple Seth Rollins and Becky Lynch to a mixed tag. This turned out to be more of an angle than a match though when Maria refused to tag in and announced that she’s pregnant again. Social media posts reveal that she is indeed pregnant with their 2nd child. Considering that the couple’s previous main roster run was cut short in part due to Maria’s 1st pregnancy, it seems odd to reintroduce them in a big way like this right before she takes another maternity leave. It’s also unclear at this point if this was a full-time return to Monday nights or simply a one week special appearance.
There was no new episode of the Bray Wyatt’s Firefly Funhouse this week, but his Funhouse puppets did continue to pop up in backstage segments. It would be great if this was all leading up to Wyatt’s long awaited return in a surprise appearance at Extreme Rules next weekend. That would be a great time for him to show up unexpectedly and begin a program with someone that he could face in the ring at Summerslam next month.
Also showing up in backstage segments this week were the NXT Tag Champions the Street Profits. Unlike other NXT title holders who have made main roster appearances, Dawkins and Ford had their belts and were recognized on screen as champions. Does the “wild card rule” extend also to the black and gold brands? Was this a one off appearance or another call up? WWE has yet to address these questions, so we’re stuck in wait and see mode for now.
The NXT Breakout Tournament continued this week with another 1st round match. Hardy protege Cameron Grimes (FKA Trevor Lee) picked up a victory over Isaiah “Swerve” Scott (Shane Strickland who I’m sure will eventually just go by “Swerve”). I was mildly surprised by this outcome, but the level of talent involved in this tournament makes nearly every match unpredictable. These guys ALL have the potential to be major stars, especially if the previously rumored mass call up happens in the coming months.
Remember when Brian “Road Dogg” James resigned from his position as the co-lead writer of Smackdown back in the Spring? At the time it was unclear whether he would leave WWE entirely or find a new role within it. Turns out we now know exactly what that new role will be. The D-O-Double G is now working at the Performance Center teaching character development to the stars of tomorrow. For a guy who was never a top in ring worker but still is able to pop a crowd any time he grabs a mic, this seems like a great way to utilize the Hall of Famer.
Evolve 131 July 13
-NXT Title Match: Adam Cole vs Akira Tozawa
-Matt Riddle vs Drew Gulak
WWE Extreme Rules July 14
–Mixed Tag: Winners Take All: Universal Champion Seth Rollins & Raw Womens Champion Becky Lynch vs Baron Corbin and Lacey Evans
–Roman Reigns & the Undertaker vs Drew McIntyre & Shane McMahon
–WWE Title Match: Kofi Kingston(c) vs Samoa Joe
–Smackdown Womens Title: Bayley(c) vs Alexa Bliss
–Intercontinental Title Match: Finn Balor(c) vs Shinsuke Nakamura
–Women’s Tag Title Match: The Icconics(c) vs The Kabuki Warriors
-Smackdown Tag Titles: Triple Threat: Daniel Brian & Rowan(c) vs New Day (Woods & Big E) vs Heavy Machinery: Coming into Smackdown Live this week Brian & Rowan were already set to defend against the New Day. Over the course of the show, the bickering tandem of Kevin Owens & Dolph Ziggler were given the opportunity to be added as the 3rd team should they defeat Tucker & Otis. They were unsuccessful, so Heavy Machinery was added to the triple threat instead.
NXT TakeOver Toronto Aug 10
WWE Summerslam Aug 11
NXT UK TakeOver Cardiff Aug 31
WWE Clash of Champions Sept 15
WWE Hell in a Cell Oct 6
NXT TakeOver Wargames Nov 23
WWE Survivor Series Nov 24
WWE TLC Dec 15
- Lightning add Bogosian to depleted blue line on eve of trade deadline February 23, 2020
- Abysmal defense leads to ugly Lightning defeat in Arizona. February 23, 2020
- Week in pro wrestling 2/17/20 TakeOver aftermath and AEW cage match February 22, 2020
- Vipers lose a thriller, fall to 0-3 February 22, 2020
- Vipers finally at home, looking for first win February 22, 2020
- Butherus: What is cheating? February 21, 2020
- Fresh faces featured in Bolts streak-snapping loss to Knights February 21, 2020
- Tampa Bay entertaining 2-year deal with Winston February 20, 2020
- Vipers trade for CFL star S.J. Green February 19, 2020
- Elusive eleventh conquered: Bolts make history in win over Avs February 18, 2020