Roman Reigns, Kofi Kingston Bring the Wild Card Rule and More WWE Raw Fallout
It was chaos on Monday Night Raw as Roman Reigns made a declaration that he had unfinished business on the red brand and would appear despite the insistence of WWE management that was not possible.
The Big Dog opened the floodgates for blue-brand stars to appear on Raw, with Kofi Kingston and Daniel Bryan also taking the chance to step in. While The Big Dog fought Drew McIntyre, Bryan convinced Kofi to give him a WWE Championship rematch in the main event.
Others were not so fortunate with the spotlight. Robert Roode attempted to sneak his way into Money in the Bank in a match with Ricochet but fell short, showing that he may not be in for a massive change in direction with his new name.
Sami Zayn's mouth finally got him in trouble, with Braun Strowman chasing him down as the two returned to a rivalry that helped neither man years back and may leave both worse off in the coming months.
The Raw tag team division is in turmoil, but one team is seemingly rising above. The Viking Raiders Erik and Ivar showed themselves to be dominant in taking down down Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder.
This show may have started the rapid and inevitable decline of the brand split, but it left far more questions than answers for the fans of the wrestlers of Raw and SmackDown.
The Wild Card Rule Is WWE's Latest Attempt to Slowly Break the Brand Split
Vince McMahon promised a historic night before Reigns, Bryan and Kofi came out, invoking The Chairman's anger at the trio of SmackDown stars on the wrong brand. As they took over the segment, McMahon decided to call this a new "Wild Card" rule.
From now on, three stars from each brand will be allowed to work the opposite brand each week. This allowed The Boss to make Reigns vs. McIntyre as well as Kofi vs. Daniel Bryan for the WWE Championship for later in the night.
This was a boring way to start the show and an unnecessary step to get people talking about Raw again. Rather than just taking chances with fresh talent, WWE has decided to overuse talent on both brands to get people back to watching the product.
Clearly, WWE is worried about how the two brands are doing in terms of ratings and attendance, but the company is afraid to outright end the brand split. Fox paid major money to get SmackDown Live as its own product and brand, so a full break will not work yet.
However, if this new move works, it is likely more and more stars will be working both brands. There's a reason Becky Lynch works Raw and SmackDown every week, and there's a reason The Big Dog led this charge for talent to ignore the brand split.
Certain stars are considered too big to isolate on one brand, especially at a time when the company is struggling for consistent viewership. It's a shame, though, because this will not help those waiting to get a chance on an already-bloated roster.
Braun Strowman and Sami Zayn Are Only Going to Keep Each Other Down
Zayn continued his tirade on the WWE Universe until Strowman showed up to shut him up. The Monster Among Men ran him out of the ring and all the way to the backstage area. The big man caught the loudmouthed heel and threw him into the dumpster just in time for the garbage truck to arrive.
For weeks, The Underdog from The Underground has been one of the best parts of Raw, and his reward was to be humiliated in a similar fashion to Kevin Owens. Strowman's role in WWE has been to systematically destroy all the momentum of relevant heels.
This might be fine if The Monster was going to do something with his own momentum, but he still has yet to take the step forward most expected from him. He has no legitimate singles championship to his name, and his only title reign was a joke one-day tag team reign.
His whole career has been built on making top heels look like punks, which is a shame because it makes him look bad alongside those he is feuding with. This rivalry will do nothing for both men in much the same way both got nothing from their feud in 2016.
The Rebranding of Robert Roode Amounted to One Week of Relevance
Ricochet agreed to put his Money in the Bank ladder match spot on the line against Roode, who defeated him two weeks back. While The Glorious One showed he could push The One and Only to his limit, Ricochet still landed the 630 Splash and walked out with the win.
Was there a reason Roode defeated Ricochet? Perhaps there was a reason at the time, but WWE quickly course-corrected, with the high flier getting a spot in Money in the Bank. This felt like WWE choosing to retcon Roode's victory.
The veteran performer has a low floor and a high ceiling for success in WWE based on whether those backstage choose to get behind him. When he is on, Roode feels as much like a star as anyone in the business, but when he is not, he is quickly and easily forgotten.
Despite a new first name, he has already been largely forgotten on Raw. While it is welcome to have someone earn his spot in the ladder match, Ricochet and Roode should have been kept apart if there was a plan for both becoming legitimate singles threats on Raw.
It Would Be a Shock If The Viking Raiders Were Not Raw Tag Team Champions Soon
The Viking Raiders showed once again how much they outmatched the current Raw tag team champions in their dominant showing against Hawkins and Ryder. While the champs fought with heart, they could not outpower the challengers, who hit The Long Island Iced Z with The Viking Experience to take the non-title win.
Erik and Ivar may still be suffering from WWE choosing to change their names, but they are certainly not suffering for legitimacy on the red brand. At a time when tag team wrestling is being wildly undervalued, The Raiders have looked like unstoppable powerhouses.
With The Usos and The Revival wasting their time on a terrible story, it could be argued that Erik and Ivar are the most impressive tag team on either roster at the moment, and they are poised to walk away with tag team gold soon enough.
While it has been nice to see Ryder and Hawkins back on TV regularly, they are not the biggest draw for a division that is quietly stacked. It would help Raw immensely to commit to The Raiders as the dominant heels at the top.
NXT is doing just that, utilizing the heavyweights at the head of the best tag team division in WWE.