What's next for the "Smackdown Live" tag team that invaded "Raw" last week?
Last week, The New Day re-invaded Raw during the Dean Ambrose/Seth Rollins tag team title defense against Cesaro and Sheamus. They caused the entire Raw locker room to charge to ringside and allow New Day, standing in the audience, to walk away very slowly. As far as #UnderSeige goes, the moment was closer to #UnderLoitering, but it distracted Seth Rollins, who ate a Brogue Kick from Sheamus and was pinned to lose the belts. It was a fishy end to an otherwise excellent match, but it set up another match that will seriously help the “Survivor Series” pay-per-view card. Now, when Roman Reigns returns this week, The Shield can finally reunite and take on The New Day in a three-on-three tag team.
With any luck, the match will start The New Day’s move from Smackdown Live to Raw. When The Usos announced their respect for the trio the day after the “TLC” pay-per-view, they in effect said goodbye to The New Day because they have to go. The Usos and The New Day are the two best tag teams on Smackdown Live, and if they met monthly, they’d have killer matches and swap the belts back and forth ad infinitum. That being the case, the WWE either needs to put the third or fourth-best tag team against The Usos just to do something new, or they need to move The New Day out of the system. At Raw, some combination could feud with Ambrose and Rollins after Reigns returns to his career as a solo and let Cesaro and Sheamus defend the Raw tag team championship against other teams.
A New Day/Shield match would help a “Survivor Series” card that got a big boost when, as I predicted, A.J. Styles defeated Jinder Mahal to win the WWE Championship and face Brock Lesnar at “Survivor Series.” If Mahal wrestled Styles every week on television though, people would want to see him face Lesnar. Styles was the first opponent Mahal has faced who made him look awesome. Mahal’s clubbing, high power style has limits, but the WWE has historically liked big, powerful guys, and his height makes Mahal look dynamic when he stomps and bashes people. Opponents have struggled to look good against him though, and they’ve had a hard time making Mahal look like someone who should be a champion. On Tuesday, he and Styles put together a dramatic match that emphasized Mahal’s destructive power, but that paid off with Styles taking down the Singh Brothers and finally Mahal in a win that felt earned and exciting moments before the count when it became clear what was about to happen. If the WWE awarded MVPs, Styles is so easily the MVP of 2017.
In other notes going into this week;
- Are we done with James Ellsworth on Smackdown Live? Carmella’s valet reached his peak as a heel when he screwed the historic first women’s ladder match by being the person who climbed the ladder and grabbed the Money in the Bank briefcase for Carmella. (Note: Let’s see if she cashes it in and beats Natalya after Natalya’s match with Alexa Bliss at “Survivor Series.”) Since then, he’s been extraneous, and at the end of a creepy and dreadful inter-gender match between him and Becky Lynch, Carmella superkicked him and left him laying in the ring.
Can someone superkick the booker who thought that match was a good idea in the first place? First, there was no reason for Lynch to face him, and because he controlled the captain of the Smackdown Live women’s team for a good part of the match, it looked like the women really aren’t that good. Lynch was obviously uncomfortable getting close to him as there was obvious space between their bodies, even when she went for suplexes. The whole spectacle looked like Lynch had to pay off a locker room bet, and in the current cultural climate, a lot of “Is this really a good idea?” bells should have gone off. Those are bells, by the way, that almost never go off in the WWE.
- Also in the “alarm bells” department, does anybody else find Chad Gable trying to relate to Sheldon Benjamin by rapping problematic? We’re supposed to know that Gable’s bad because he’s a bad rapper, and maybe it’s just the meta- meta- nature of that gimmick loses me. Still, the way the WWE continues to flirt with stereotypes in 2017 sets my teeth, and the implication that you can’t separate black men from rap feels like part of that.
The one saving grace of this angle is that it looks like Gable is the only one of the two who cheats, so after the two have some success, he and Benjamin could then have a feud that could be good for both.
- While the WWE elevated the men's championship match at "Survivor Series" with the addition of Styles, it seemed to treated the five-man tag team match that gave the pay-per-view its names like an afterthought. GM Kurt Angle added his "illegitimate son" Jason Jordan to the team. Jordan's so not over with fans that I haven't seen him on Raw in a month because I see it Hulu, which airs a shorter show than the one on the WWE Network. Smackdown Live wasn't to be outdone in the battle to fumble the ball over the goal line as it didn't wait until this week's show to announce that John Cena would be the final member of its team. That news came out online during the week instead of in a context that could excite fans.
Since Cena's not associated with any brand right now now and did his last wrestling stint on Raw, the addition of the WWE's biggest star further suggests that the company lacked confidence in the card as it stood two weeks ago.
- As of this writing, there is no official explanation of why Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn were sent home for disciplinary reasons from the WWE British tour. Fortunately, both are expected to be on Smackdown Live Tuesday.
My Spilt Milk will cover the WWE through Wrestlemania 2018, which will return the to Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Sunday, April 8. Tickets will go on sale at 10 a.m. Central starting Friday, November 17.