Don't start making funeral arrangements for The Revival just yet.
Despite the former NXT champs' looking like chumps at WWE Raw 25 at the hands of D-Generation X and The Balor Club, they aren't done as contenders. They aren't destined to follow The Ascension's downward path.
At the tail end of Monday's celebration of Raw's 25 years on the air, D-Generation X mingled with Finn Balor and his crew in the ring. Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder soon marched out to end the party early. The Revival then played the punching bags in the night's closing segment.
Dawson and Wilder fell to Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson in less than two minutes, per CageMatch.net. Then the members of D-Generation X took turns laying out the two bruisers with their signature moves. The Revival ate a Pedigree, a Coup de Grace and an X-Factor, among other finishers.
It was a bad idea to portray The Revival as such cream puffs. The scene was prioritizing the past over the present—a typical WWE tactic.
It's not surprising writers like Alex Pawlowski of Fightful were left pessimistic about the smashmouth, no-nonsense team.
But The Revival isn't finished, as many a fan will proclaim. They need a series of more complimentary images to counter those from Monday night.
They started that image-recovery process well with a strong backstage interview afterward. Dawson and Wilder were still confident, still smug. They said they refused to cry about a setback like this and played up the fact they were at the wrong end of a nine-on-two disadvantage.
It's easy to compare the beating The Revival took to the one The Ascension suffered in 2015.
That night, the New World Order manhandled Viktor and Konnor. Fast-forward to 2018 and those former NXT tag champs are now bit players on SmackDown—comic-relief supporting acts.
The Ascension, though, wasn't pushed the same way The Revival is today.
Before their own run-in with a nostalgia act, The Ascension faced jobbers and didn't ever quite get off the ground. Dawson and Wilder, meanwhile, were kicking in heads from the get-go. The Revival took down The New Day, The Club and The Hardy Boyz in some of the duo's first matches on the main roster.
And as former WWE referee Jimmy Korderas pointed out, The Revival is more popular than The Ascension was:
WWE didn't make the process of shaping stars out of The Revival easy with how Raw 25 went down, but a dose of momentum here and there, and that moment will be forgotten.
Should The Revival feud with The Balor Club and come out on top, the fist-wielding team will be a lot better off. Should Dawson and Wilder devour the likes of Heath Slater and Rhyno or Titus Worldwide, things will shift the other way, bit by bit.
Expect this team to be angry and focused and pound their way to a title shot this year. The Raw tag team division isn't deep, and Dawson and Wilder are among the best workers in the group. They're coming for the gold after some rehab wins.
WWE can either define The Revival by how they looked in the Manhattan Center or continue painting them as hard-nosed title contenders on a mission as the company has mostly done before this.
Dawson and Wilder aren't dead and buried; they just have a hole to climb out of.