Quick Takes on WWE Returning to the Road, AEW Rampage, Aleister Black and More

Graham GSM Matthews@@WrestleRantFeatured ColumnistMay 23, 2021

Quick Takes on WWE Returning to the Road, AEW Rampage, Aleister Black and More

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    WWE fans have long awaited a return to normalcy and that time has finally come.
    WWE fans have long awaited a return to normalcy and that time has finally come.Credit: WWE.com

    For the first time in more than a year, WWE announced that the company is ready to welcome fans back into the buildings, starting with SmackDown on July 16 in Houston. From there, WWE will embark on a tour consisting of 25 cities through Labor Day—meaning that Money in the Bank and SummerSlam will have rowdy fans in attendance.

    WrestleMania 37 greatly benefited from moving out of the ThunderDome. The change in scenery for Raw and SmackDown should improve the quality of both brands, if only temporarily.

    Aleister Black also made headlines Friday with his long-awaited return to SmackDown, attacking Big E in the night's main event. Now that he's been established as a heel, it's imperative he is handled properly and does not fall victim to bad booking like last time.

    It was a newsworthy week for All Elite Wrestling as well, with Rampage, the promotion's new second show, being announced for Friday nights on TNT beginning in August. Dynamite is stacked with so much star power that Rampage should serve as an extension of the flagship program.

    This installment of Quick Takes will tackle AEW Rampage's debut, Kofi Kingston's big night on Raw, why Jon Moxley and Eddie Kingston should be the next AEW world tag team champions and more.

Money in the Bank Is the Perfect Choice for WWE's Next Major Event with Fans

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    Money in the Bank was one of WWE's first pay-per-views without fans in attendance. Needless to say, it was a bizarre experience.

    Although the show delivered on the whole and the taped Money in the Bank ladder matches, taking place at WWE Headquarters, found ways to be fun despite the circumstances, it wasn't the same without fans in attendance. Thankfully, this year's installment July 18 should mark a return to normalcy for the beloved concept.

    The first Money in the Bank pay-per-view was held in July 2010. Only in recent years has it featured the fallout from WrestleMania in either May or June, though it makes more sense on the schedule as a precursor to SummerSlam in August.

    That would explain why Hell in a Cell was moved from October to June this year, giving Money in the Bank that coveted spot in July. Although SummerSlam is supposed to be the Biggest Party of the Summer, Money in the Bank should still be built up as a major show with a stacked card.

    It will be a refreshing change of pace for Raw and SmackDown to leave the ThunderDome for a few months at the very least. Raw, in particular, has struggled through the pandemic era, and while the subpar creative direction will likely remain, having fans back in the building will undoubtedly give the show new life.

Eddie Kingston and Jon Moxley Must Be the Next AEW World Tag Team Champions

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    The Young Bucks have enjoyed a fun run as AEW world tag team champions, but the time has come for them to lose the titles. And there isn't a more logical duo to dethrone them than Jon Moxley and Eddie Kingston.

    Moxley and Kingston have history as rivals dating back to their feud over the AEW World Championship last fall. They headlined November's Full Gear pay-per-view before forging an alliance to combat The Elite, specifically The Young Bucks.

    AEW put the tag titles on another makeshift team (Kenny Omega and "Hangman" Adam Page) for the better part of 2020. Although it may seem strange to some that it would once again go to a team made up of two established singles performers, it's the best possible story the promotion can tell with those belts at the moment.

    Plus, Moxley and Kingston have terrific chemistry, which has been on full display in all of their recent outings. They have lost whenever it has mattered most in 2021, and it's time for them to get their due in the form of the AEW World Tag Team Championship.

    Young Bucks, who have worked wonderfully with a variety of teams, can always regain the gold down the road.

Aleister Black Is Back: Will WWE Get It Right with Him This Time Around?

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    Aleister Black's highly anticipated comeback to WWE creates a number of exciting possibilities on SmackDown.

    WWE has been running vignettes for weeks to promote his return to the blue brand and tease a new gimmick. One of those vignettes aired earlier in the evening during Friday's episode, making his appearance at the end of the night that much more shocking.

    On the surface, there's no reason why he would want to attack Big E unless he was promised a shot at the Intercontinental Championship by Apollo Crews had he retained. The hope among fans is that WWE will soon offer an explanation for Black's actions, but its lack of logic in certain situations is well-documented.

    Nonetheless, Black resurfacing in a prominent spot on SmackDown was long overdue. Now the key is keeping his momentum rolling, fleshing out his character and ensuring he doesn't get lost in the shuffle as he has been countless times before.

    A feud with a notable name such as Big E is a good way of doing that. Time will tell whether WWE CEO Vince McMahon has realized what Black is capable of and plans to utilize him to his potential or whether he will lose interest in his renewed push in the not-too-distant future.

Kofi Kingston's 2 Shock Wins on Raw Shakes Things Up in Stagnant Title Picture

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    The last thing WWE fans expected going into Monday's post-WrestleMania Backlash edition of Raw was for Bobby Lashley to get pinned, not to mention by Kofi Kingston.

    The WWE champion has only been beaten once in singles competition since early January. He ate a rare defeat Monday at the hands of Kingston following a distraction from Drew McIntyre at ringside.

    Based on McIntyre's challenge to Lashley earlier in the evening, it's clear WWE is building to the blow-off to their feud at Hell in a Cell. As it should be. It's virtually guaranteed that Kingston will be obliterated by Lashley the next time they go one-on-one—ideally for the WWE Championship—but it made for the type of moment that Raw needs more of.

    Far too often does the flagship show feel formulaic, with the same stars occupying the same spots. Kingston hasn't been featured in the main event scene since losing the WWE Championship in October 2019, so his upset victory over Lashley was not only a pleasant surprise but also gave the title picture a fresh face if WWE chooses to keep him on that path.

    The New Day has proved that it can excel anywhere on the card. Lashley needs new opponents beyond McIntyre at Hell in a Cell, and Kingston can be a viable challenger if WWE doesn't immediately follow up on his big win by having him get destroyed.

AEW Rampage Should Be the Friday Night Equivalent to Dynamite

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    Emma McIntyre/Getty Images

    AEW's new second show, Rampage, looks set to be a one-hour version of Dynamite, airing Friday nights immediately following WWE SmackDown.

    It's something the company has needed for a while. For as entertaining as the AEW product has been on the whole since its inception, the roster has grown exponentially in the past two years. Few people have been let go, forcing everyone to share the television time on Dynamite or not be spotlighted at all.

    Dark and Dark: Elevation are perfectly fine supplementary shows for AEW on YouTube, but neither of them has consistently had major storyline developments. Dynamite is AEW's version of Raw (albeit with exceptionally better quality), and the time has come for the promotion to have its own SmackDown—just without a brand split in place.

    Stories carrying over from Dynamite to Rampage is obviously imperative, along with featuring some of the stars who aren't typically regulars on the Wednesday night program. Hopefully that will lead to AEW cutting down on the amount of matches and segments crammed into an average episode of Dynamite and give everything more time to breathe.

    AEW has made plenty of positive moves since its debut, and the introduction of Rampage should be no different. It could prove to be a pointless program within a matter of months, but the promotion's track record suggests otherwise.


    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.