Quick Takes on Booking Eva Marie on WWE Raw, Mansoor, AEW's Title Picture, More
With Monday Night Raw struggling creatively now more than ever before, it was imperative WWE incorporated some fresh faces into the program. Thankfully, the company took a few small steps in the right direction with the introductions of Eva Marie and Mansoor on the most recent edition.
Marie left WWE in 2017 to pursue other endeavors, including acting, but now finds herself back in the world of wrestling. Mansoor, on the other hand, has been working his way up the WWE system and embarked on an undefeated streak that lasted nearly two years before losing to Sheamus by disqualification this past week.
It's evident SmackDown doesn't need to make the same adjustments Raw does, especially coming off the throwback-themed episode of the blue brand Friday night. From the returns of Jimmy Uso and Teddy Long to the progression of several stories, it was a fun night that illustrated just how superior of a show it is to Raw in almost every respect.
All Elite Wrestling also has momentum on its side heading into Double or Nothing on May 30, though the AEW World Championship match for the pay-per-view remains in doubt. Pac and Orange Cassidy will do battle Wednesday on Dynamite to determine Kenny Omega's next challenger.
This week's installment of Quick Takes will tackle the arrivals of Eva Marie and Mansoor on Raw, why Omega vs. Pac must happen at Double or Nothing, the fallout from Blood and Guts and more.
Finding the Right Role for Eva Marie on WWE Raw
News of Eva Marie's return to WWE Raw was unsurprisingly not well received by fans online. During her original four-year stint with the company, she was notoriously terrible in the ring and wasn't known for being anything other than a heat magnet.
WWE will be aware she's a polarizing figure and that will have contributed to the decision to bring her back. With the women's division filled with more talent than ever before, she's bound to stick out like a sore thumb among all of the amazing athletes who make up Raw's women's scene.
Many women on the red brand, most notably Naomi and Shayna Baszler, have felt underutilized because of their involvement in the horribly booked tag team division. Adding another name to that mix isn't the answer, unless the idea is to put her in a managerial role.
Despite the widespread negativity, Marie does have value and can bring something to the table if used the right way. She did well when she briefly managed Nia Jax in late 2015, specifically because it kept her out of the ring more often than not.
If WWE doesn't want to have her serve as a valet for someone such as Angel Garza, she might also be better suited as an authority figure. Sonya Deville should be returning to the ring soon, and Marie would make sense as a successor for her.
If nothing else, WWE should know that nothing good will stem from having her wrestle on a regular basis and should attempt to avoid that if possible.
MJF vs. Sammy Guevara Must Be Next Step in Inner Circle vs. Pinnacle Rivalry
The ending to Wednesday's wild Blood and Guts main event on AEW Dynamite saw Inner Circle surrender to prevent MJF from sending Chris Jericho spiraling off the top of the structure and on to the stage. Being the quintessential heel that he is, MJF went through with it anyway, an angle seemingly done to write Jericho out of AEW storylines for the foreseeable future.
Despite the graphic nature of the match, it didn't bring finality to the feud. The Pinnacle may have reigned supreme, but Inner Circle is almost guaranteed to seek vengeance for what MJF did to the face of their faction.
Nothing can be gained from AEW running back MJF vs. Jericho at Double or Nothing. Seeing as how MJF already beat Jericho at Full Gear in November, it would make more sense for him to face Sammy Guevara at Double or Nothing instead.
The two teased tension in the months preceding MJF's departure from Inner Circle, and with Guevara now a full-fledged babyface, Double or Nothing would be the perfect place for them to settle the score. Regardless of who goes over, MJF vs. Guevara would be a welcome addition to what should be a strong lineup.
Another notable win for MJF on a grand stage such as Double or Nothing would cement his status as a main event-level heel and put him back on track toward the top of the card.
Will Mansoor Be the Latest Star to Get Lost in the Shuffle in Raw's Midcard?
In a bit of random development, Mansoor made the move to Monday Night Raw this past week and had his first match as a member of the roster against United States champion Sheamus.
The Saudi Arabian Superstar has been under contract with the company for three years and has been making strides in NXT and, most notably, 205 Live. He's also picked up several big wins at WWE's star-studded shows in Saudi Arabia over the likes of Cesaro and Dolph Ziggler.
Although he wasn't pinned by Sheamus in his debut match on Raw, his disqualification loss means that his 49-0 undefeated streak is over. Nonetheless, he has the potential to be an excellent addition to the red brand's midcard scene if handled properly.
It's hard to have faith he will go far when Ricochet, Mustafa Ali or Angel Garza have been marginalized for months, but because he has yet to be ruined by bad booking, there's a chance he can still succeed. For those unfamiliar with his work in NXT and on 205 Live, he's skilled in the ring, is extremely well-spoken and is only 25.
As the ultimate underdog, he could have fun feuds with Sheamus, AJ Styles and others. There's no need to put a title on him anytime soon, but bringing him up to Raw will prove to be pointless if WWE loses interest in pushing him and instead relegates him to Main Event on Hulu with the rest of Raw's undercard competitors.
WWE Nails Throwback SmackDown Despite a Lack of Strong Focus on Nostalgia
WWE has hosted a handful of Old School Raw shows over the years—including as recently as January 4 with Legends' Night—but never before has the concept been done with SmackDown.
Sure enough, Friday's throwback-themed edition of SmackDown was a hit, and not solely for the nostalgia factor. Granted, there were several '80s elements that didn't make sense because the blue brand premiered in 1999, but the effort put into giving the show a different feel than usual was noticeable and appreciated.
Unlike most old-school shows, it wasn't bogged down by pointless cameos from WWE Hall of Famers who aren't given anything meaningful to do other than stand in a hallway and wave for 10 seconds. Rather, former SmackDown general manager Teddy Long was brought in to add a stipulation to Seth Rollins vs. Cesaro, so his presence served a purpose.
Outside of the atmosphere itself, WWE did an excellent job of moving along multiple feuds, generating interest in the SmackDown side of the card for WrestleMania Backlash and spotlighting several stars. Jimmy Uso's return was arguably the highlight of the night and set the stage for an interesting few weeks coming up on SmackDown.
How Raw and SmackDown can differ so greatly in quality from week to week despite reportedly being written by the same people remains WWE's biggest mystery.
Pac Is the Best Possible Opponent for Kenny Omega at AEW Double or Nothing
With Jon Moxley and Eddie Kingston moving toward the AEW World Tag Team Championship picture, it was unknown who would step up to challenge Kenny Omega for the AEW World Championship at Double or Nothing. On the Blood and Guts edition of Dynamite, it was revealed that Pac and Orange Cassidy will face off Wednesday to determine the new No. 1 contender.
Through their recent string of wins, they have been firmly positioned at the top of the AEW World Championship power rankings and are therefore deserving of the next shot from a storyline standpoint. However, neither one of them has been has been involved in an important program in many months.
Both Pac and Cassidy are coming off tag team feuds and are embroiled in a rivalry as part of their respective factions. Of the two, Pac is a much smarter choice to be contending for AEW's top title—despite the tease for Omega vs. Cassidy on Wednesday night.
For as popular as Cassidy is, he's a glorified comedy character who hasn't done anything of note since beating Chris Jericho twice last summer. Getting an AEW title shot on an episode of Dynamite might be acceptable, but in the main event of a major pay-per-view on such short notice where the outcome isn't in doubt, he feels extremely out of place.
Pac doesn't have a much better shot against Omega than Cassidy does, but at least it would be a stronger match based on their established chemistry. Either way, it's difficult to deny that AEW has done a poor job of creating credible challengers for Omega leading into its biggest event of the year.
Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, has specialized in sports and entertainment writing since 2010. Visit his website, WrestleRant, and subscribe to his YouTube channel for more wrestling-related content.