Braun Strowman vs. Tyson Fury Off to Rough Start and More WWE Raw Fallout
Following up on a controversial night at Hell in a Cell, the October 7 edition of WWE Raw took the sly approach of almost ignoring the pay-per-view.
There was barely a mention of universal champion Seth Rollins or his dangerous stalker, Bray Wyatt, beyond a brief recap of the main event near the end of the show.
What mattered instead to this week's edition of Raw was setting up for the WWE draft as well as continuing stories that began last week.
WWE committed to hyping up the appearance of Tyson Fury, with the former world heavyweight boxing champion challenging Braun Strowman to face him man-to-man.
Rusev continued to be tormented by his wife, Lana, and her new lover, Bobby Lashley.
The Viking Raiders maintained their dominant winning streak with an impressive performance against Dolph Ziggler and Bobby Roode, while another tag team on a recent hot streak—The Kabuki Warriors—cemented their legacy with an emphatic victory over Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair.
It was a night of statements ahead of WWE's reshuffle of the roster for the long haul.
WWE Tries Its Hardest to Sell Braun Strowman vs. Tyson Fury as a Big Fight
Tyson Fury demanded Braun Strowman come out and apologize to him. The Monster Among Men stomped to the ring and made clear he didn't mean to start anything but now wanted nothing more than a fight. The two had to be kept apart by the WWE locker room as they tried to brawl.
A pull-away brawl is always an opportunity for WWE to get people excited for a forthcoming fight, but this was hardly earned. Initially, the crowd ate it up, but the clamor died down quickly as it progressed. There's just not a lot to this story.
Fury may be a legitimate fighter, but he's not a great actor. Therefore, he doesn't come off as impressive next to Strowman. The most biting line in this back-and-forth promo was also the biggest problem with this rivalry: Fury pointed out that The Monster has no heavyweight titles to his name.
He can be big all he wants, but Strowman has not been fully allowed to be dominant. He always falls short, and this will be no different. He is walking into a fight he cannot win against an opponent who is a boring performer.
If Fury appears every week from now until their likely match at Crown Jewel on Oct. 31, he will need to elevate his game to make this more interesting than just a media stunt.
It Might Be a Bad Storyline, but Rusev Is Getting More of a Reaction Again
Rusev prepared for a match against Randy Orton when Bobby Lashley came up on the titantron. He revealed he was in The Bulgarian Brute's bed with Lana. The Ravishing Russian revealed everything they owned was now in her name.
Rusev laid out The Viper and King Corbin in frustration.
This story is far below even WWE standards, but it does showcase one redeeming feature: The crowd are fully behind The Bulgarian Brute once again. His beatdown was driven by a chant of "Rusev."
Even if the promos remain terrible and Rusev and Lashley don't have great matches, at least he's back in a role where fans care about him. He's better than this story, but there are a lot of storylines he could be in where fans would give him far less attention.
It might be fun to watch the carnage The Bulgarian Brute can inflict on the roster purely from sheer frustration.
The Viking Raiders Are Ready for Raw Tag Team Championships
The Viking Raiders challenged Raw tag team champions Dolph Ziggler and Bobby Roode in a non-title match.
Erik and Ivar managed to get The Showoff alone and hit the Viking Experience for the biggest win of their main roster run to date.
It was announced later in the night that Erik and Ivar had earned a title match against Ziggler and Roode next week on Raw.
Few tag teams feel as complete and cohesive as the Raiders. They make an impact every time they appear, and their mix of speed and power can match up with anyone. The two were made to be a defining tag team.
While The Revival hold down the SmackDown tag team division, Raw still needs a real tandem at its head. Roode and Ziggler continue to deliver together, but they are not the standard bearers Erik and Ivar can be.
It's hard to get excited about the current tag team division, but once The Raiders have the gold, the potential will be consistently tantalizing. Erik and Ivar capturing the titles only to be confronted by The Authors of Pain would instantly set up months of great storytelling.
The Kabuki Warriors Given New Lease of Life with Heel Turn
Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair traded verbal shots on "Miz TV" until its host turned the conversation to Asuka and Kairi Sane.
The Man wanted another shot at The Empress of Tomorrow, and she got it. While Lynch seemed unstoppable, Asuka caught her with the green mist to set up a roll-up for three.
This was a huge win for The Kabuki Warriors, even bigger than the title victory over Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross at Hell in a Cell. While the two were always likely to win the tag team titles, it is a massive step up to defeat the top champions and featured women in the company.
Suddenly, both women feel revitalized and appear to be being positioned as potential singles title contenders. It was an acknowledgement by WWE that they are the best tag team in the company and not just the best stars not featured in the singles title scene.
Whether this means WWE is setting up for another Lynch vs. Asuka match soon or the tag team champions are set to steamroll through the division, it was the right move to continue to rebuild two of the best wrestlers in the world.
It's amazing to think Asuka and Sane could not get on TV just a few weeks ago.