The week that was in WWE programming saw a Raw brand gearing up for a TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs pay-per-view that is essentially a one-match show. SmackDown Live, on the other hand, began the slow and steady build to Survivor Series in November.
Raw was wrapping up its build while SmackDown was embarking on fresh new storylines that have potential to captivate audiences for weeks to come.
It was an interesting dichotomy that left the winner of this week's battle for brand supremacy up to the individual fan.
The October 16 episode of Raw was built almost exclusively around The Shield's showdown with Team Miz at TLC. Roman Reigns was slated for a Steel Cage match with Braun Strowman while Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose reignited their rivalry with Sheamus and Cesaro in tag team action.
Neither The Miz, nor Braun Strowman, Cesaro or Sheamus would prove the downfall of The Hounds of Justice Monday night. The Hollywood A-Lister would outsmart his TLC opponents, isolating Reigns from his teammates, before Kane made a shocking return that saw him flatten The Big Dog and assist Strowman in his victory.
The shocking revelation of The Big Red Monster as the fifth participant on the heels' team at TLC was a fitting exclamation point on what was shaping up to be a night of Shield dominance.
The Shield may have been the centerpiece of the broadcast, but it was not the only noteworthy element of Monday's show.
The WWE spotlighted the women's division with matches pitting Sasha Banks against the rejuvenated Alicia Fox and Mickie James and Bayley against the team of Emma and Alexa Bliss. For a show that has repeatedly skimped on women's wrestling, devoting maybe one segment a week to the premiere rivalry in the division, it was refreshing to see so much emphasis put on the ongoing programs.
Finn Balor answering Bray Wyatt's revelation of Sister Abigail by threatening to unleash The Demon not only made for one of his better live promos, even with the spliced-in footage of him as his alter-ego, it also gave fans a reason to be excited about what feels like the latest in a never-ending series of bouts between the two.
Hardly a perfect go-home show, the broadcast still hit every one of the keynotes necessary to properly sell a TLC pay-per-view event that has been built around one match in particular.
A lack of fan support, coupled with the nonexistence of opportunity, fueled Sami Zayn's heel turn, as fans found out Tuesday night during a face-to-face confrontation with SmackDown Live general manager Daniel Bryan.
That revelation, along with a cheap and underhanded victory in the tag team main event in which The Underdog from the Underground blasted Randy Orton with a low blow, capped off a watershed night for Zayn.
His heel turn now makes sense, is believable because it is based in reality and presents Zayn as somewhat of a sympathetic light. Even if what he is doing is despicable.
Breezango and The Ascension came together during Tuesday's show for Pulp Fashion, another pre-taped vignette that showcased the teams' comedic timing. While we still do not know what the outcome of the mystery behind Tyler Breeze and Fandango's attackers will be, Konnor and Viktor mentioned The Bludgeon Brothers, suggesting Luke Harper and Erick Rowan will, in fact, be the perpetrators.
The segments involving the two teams do not get enough credit for keeping them relevant and busy while simultaneously creating tag team characters fans will invest themselves in and want to see succeed when the time comes.
Speaking of Superstars fans want to see succeed, AJ Styles emerged as the next No. 1 contender to Jinder Mahal's WWE Championship, interrupting The Maharaja's challenge to Brock Lesnar for a match at Survivor Series.
The Phenomenal One made his intentions to challenge for the title clear and left Mahal scurrying for protection after a Pele Kick. The feud between the two will finally provide Mahal with the credible opposition he needs following a stretch of underwhelming pay-per-view matches thus far in his title run.
Like Raw, SmackDown was not without its flaws, but it did a fantastic job of introducing potential new stories and feeling like a show where things actually happened.
It was only a few weeks ago that cruiserweights Tony Nese, Drew Gulak and Noam Dar joined in on the beatdown of Enzo Amore at the conclusion of WWE Raw. Last week, they acted as lumberjacks during the Certified G's Cruiserweight Championship loss to Kalisto, preventing the then-titleholder from running away.
You can understand the confusion, then, when those three villains suddenly joined Amore for a beatdown of Kalisto and Mustafa Ali as if nothing ever happened.
The complete and utter disregard for continuity is part of what has made the cruiserweight division so damn frustrating to watch. First, characters are underdeveloped. Then, they are given little in the way of story development for fans to sink their teeth into.
Finally, they are thrown onto Raw for matches that have little rhyme or reason for existing.
It is disrespectful to the talent and disengaging for audiences.
It is not like Gulak, Dar and Nese participated in the beatdown months ago. It was three weeks ago, and their sudden change of heart, when Amore is even more unlikable now, makes no sense whatsoever.
Winner: SmackDown Live
Raw was a show devoted to a single act and putting over one match that will take place Sunday night at TLC, this is true. It also featured a high-profile main event between Reigns and Strowman, a strong tag team effort from Rollins, Ambrose, Sheamus and Cesaro, and the return of The Demon.
SmackDown countered with the continued evolution of Zayn, a high-profile tag team main event, a major announcement by Mahal and the emergence of Styles as the new No. 1 contender.
While Raw was building to a stop-gap pay-per-view in TLC, SmackDown was turning its attention to the most important pay-per-view of the fall, Survivor Series.
The blue brand wins this week, narrowly, because it felt like a brand fully aware of the big picture while Raw was narrowminded in its approach.
That may be preferable for some fans but at some point, the company has to look toward the future and SmackDown did a better job of that Tuesday than its competition.