Professional wrestling occupies a tricky space in the pop culture landscape. There are those that dismiss it for being “fake,” which is strange, because most good entertainment is fake. Pro wrestling is like an action movie, you’ve got a bunch of fight scenes and some mediocre acting and you just roll with it. However, even with giving the WWE the utmost benefit of the doubt, there is only one thing that can be said about the world’s biggest pro wrestling organization at this moment: They have lost their damn minds.
Shockingly, I’m not even talking about the fact they seemed to murder Braun Strowman in a garbage truck at their Tables, Ladders, and Chairs pay-per-view. That certainly doesn’t work in this more realistic era of wrestling. These aren’t the days of Papa Shango and the Undertaker being buried alive. That was just a weird moment.
The most-recent Monday Night RAW, though, ended on such an awful, baffling note that it may stand out as one of the worst bits of storytelling they’ve done in years.
The WWE is promoting their upcoming pay-per-view Survivor Series. Survivor Series is built around “RAW vs. Smackdown.” The two shows have separate rosters, and this is the one time a year they face off in a bunch of head-to-head matches.
There is nothing really to it other than bragging rights, and those are fake bragging rights of course. These are all employees of the same company. Any distinction between the brands is all for show. It’s silly to ask the wrestlers on both brands to act like they care about brand supremacy. The WWE asked way more of them, and of us the viewers, on RAW though.
Kurt Angle came out to the ring to announce his five-man team for RAW’s classic Survivor Series match with Smackdown. Then, Smackdown’s GM Shane McMahon showed up with a bunch of Smackdown wrestlers clad in blue shirts. It was a mix of faces and heels, which is important to note. It’s also important to note that AJ Styles, who had previously teamed up with faces Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose, was among them.
McMahon proclaimed RAW “under siege,” and then the Smackdown wrestlers went back and beat everybody up. They jumped RAW wrestlers in the locker room. They beat up heels and faces. They laid waste to everybody. It was like a music video from the ’80s, but worse. There was so much wrong with this from a storytelling perspective.
It begins with the fact that, again, there is NO REASON for Smackdown to really hate RAW. Second, this was heels and faces beating up heels and faces. Everybody on Smackdown was acting like the worst heel. Even the New Day and Becky Lynch, supreme babyfaces, were getting in on the action. It made no sense. Guys who hate each other were on the same team. Styles, the most-over face in the company, fought alongside Baron Corbin, who he has stated his hate for repeatedly. Why would New Day beat up Titus O’Neill just because he’s on RAW? Why would Chad Gable beat up his old tag team partner Jason Jordan?
I don’t ask for RAW to be like Breaking Bad in terms of storytelling, it would just be nice if the acting made sense. This made literally zero sense, and it was intensely awkward to watch. It was silly and off the rails. It fell flat. How are we supposed to watch Smackdown and see feuds be played out by guys who just beat up Rollins and Ambrose together?
Then, after Survivor Series is over, what then? We just go back to normal? Sorry, WWE. I’m willing to accept a lot of goofy stuff from pro wrestling, but I won’t accept this total lack of logic just so you can shill for your next pay-per-view. At least NXT is untainted…for now.