Some WWE storylines don't make much sense because they don't account for the non-televised days of the week.

braun strowman photo
Braun Strowman vs. the Truck

This week, the WWE does final preparation for the Royal Rumble and celebrates 25 years of Raw on Monday nights. That’s going to make for an odd show that will have to balance a parade of stars from the past with the ongoing stories. The WWE teases this week’s show, writing

- Roman Reigns defends the Intercontinental Championship against The Miz
- WWE Legends take over Monday Night Raw
- John Cena and Smackdown Live Superstars drop by Team Red
- How will Brock Lesnar and Kane respond to Braun Strowman?
- History in the making

Only one actual match is promised, and with so many stars from the past 25 years scheduled to appear, it’s hard to imagine the usual slate of matches. Hopefully, the architecture of a retrospective show will short circuit any further plans for Braun Strowman’s feats of destruction. When he pulled down the light rig two weeks ago, it was good spectacle not only because he made a big thing fall down, but because it was plausible. That structure could come down. Last week’s show took that stunt to a silly place by having Strowman tump over the cab of a semi. The camera’s cuts from angle to angle made the stunt look phony, and the whole premise was patently implausible.

Twenty-five years of Raw translates to more or less 25 years of a prime time soap opera, but one that asks you to believe that only Monday nights exist on the WWE Universe’s calendar. Strowman’s rampage began when Kurt Angle fired him in the ring a week last Monday night after he pulled down the rig. We’re asked to believe that Angle is so colossally bad at his job that he couldn’t get around to sacking Strowman on the follow Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, and that he wouldn’t do it in the privacy of his office. As Booker T said correctly after Angle fired Strowman, “You don’t fire a guy like that on TV.”

Since we learned that Stephanie McMahon rehired Strowman and put him back in his Royal Rumble match against Brock Lesnar and Kane, it’s likely that he’ll face her husband Triple H at Wrestlemania. That would pick up the tension between the two men that existed at the end of their Survivor Series match, though it’s discouraging to speculate that in 2018, Triple H and The Undertaker (if rumors are true) will have Wrestlemania matches. 

In other news:

Last week’s Smackdown Live inexplicably hustled the U.S. Title tournament to its conclusion, playing out its semi-final matches and finale in the same show. That gave the Jinder Mahal/Bobby Roode match tens of minutes to build tension and excitement before it started, and that fluttering spark was all the tension the match could muster. The biggest question left at the end is what happened to Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn and A.J. Styles this week. The next biggest question was whether anyone other than Styles could have a good match with Mahal. Roode’s performance gave credence to Dolph Ziggler’s criticism of him during his Dolph-vs.-introductions phase, but it wasn’t clear if Roode is another unimaginative worker, or if he too was brought down to Mahal’s level.