RAW was fun last night. Wait, RAW was supposed to be fun last night.
Ever since last month's No Mercy pay-per-view, RAW has had to rely heavily on The Shield and Enzo Amore. Last night was the pinnacle of such usage as we got the Shield reunion we've been begging for and Enzo Amore's magic was employed to get Kalisto "over" for the first time in his career.
While The Shield and Enzo have been compelling watches, they've mostly been serving as an air freshener for bad television. With Brock Lesnar and John Cena gone, WWE is forced to give away precious camera time to Superstars who haven't been in the spotlight in quite some time.
Essentially, WWE is having open tryouts to establish who will be mid-card players once Cena and Lesnar return and the Shield dissolves. That said, what's working? What isn't? Who is establishing themselves as a promising Superstar?
Even though the Shield's reconciliation feels like a shotgun wedding, it's still going to be a lot of fun. And if you're still skeptical, watch them triple-powerbomb Braun Strowman through an announce table one more time.
When Reigns said The Shield "is WWE" he wasn't lying. Since their break up, all three members have been WWE Champion and main event hegemons. Their re-alignment is really the top story in WWE right now and when the break up again, it will be even bigger.
The Shield represents a bottomless pool of opportunity for WWE. The stories will always be ripe for picking as they'll hinge upon some of the best literary devices in human history: loyalty and betrayal.
Even though it seems that the Shield has been around for a while, we're just getting started.
Personally speaking, it was hard to watch Enzo Amore lose his precious Cruiserweight Championship last night. However, it was not only the best match of Amore's career but the best match in 205 Live's history.
Enzo losing last night is proof that he has solidified himself as a star. That sounds counterintuitive, but let us explain. As soon as the referee counted 3, Kalisto, for the first time ever, was over. He was accepted by the WWE Universe, not because of a fantastic Salina Del Sol (which helped), but because he beat Enzo Amore.
The ability to make someone is arguably the rarest skill in all of the wrestling. While Kaslisto won't be headlining WrestleMania because of last night's moment, he did just give us one more reason to watch 205 Live.
And it's all thanks to Enzo.
So, this was bad.
Bray Wyatt spent 5 years spewing dark incantations about his long lost sister and last night she finally debuted. Turns out, Sister Abigail is just Bray Wyatt with a vagrant's handkerchief on his face accompanied by a voice distortion that came from a Snapchat filter.
The concept of Sister Abigail may have been Bray Wyatt's last bullet and WWE just missed the target by a mile or two.
So the women on RAW find themselves in a weird place. Let's break it all down:
Despite have exceptional chemistry, Alexa Bliss and Mickie James have been reduced to an unrelenting stream of "You're Old" jokes. Aside from that being a lazy premise for a fight, Mickie James is only 38. This makes her younger than John Cena, AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, Shinsuke Nakamura, and Bobby Roode. This feud could still be fun, but they need to pivot away from this rudimentary (and self-destructive) humor.
OK, let's talk about Asuka next.
With last night's Fatal 5-Way WWE officially made The Asuka Match at TLC feel like a title shot. This actually good thinking, but are we sure we need Emma in that spot? Now, WWE has all but guaranteed that Asuka will be winning and likely in authoritative fashion. While this is going to be her gimmick (dominance) it doesn't exactly make her a can't miss the character.
WWE has frozen the entire women's; division in the name of Asuka's arrival. Bliss was given a one-off opponent while girls like Sasha Banks are stuck in a holding pattern. Simply debuting Asuka a pay-per-view won't be enough to capture fans who didn't follow her in NXT.
Thanks to the Shield homecoming, WWE has rolled up 5 main eventers into the same story. While that makes for quite the tale, that still leaves about 2 hours and 15 minutes for RAW to fill.
And right now, WWE just does not have the capacity to do so.
WWE without the Universal Championship is like watching Lord of the Rings without the One True Ring. While it's easy to point to Brock Lesnar's comfy schedule, it's more about WWE not having a plan in place for when Brock leaves.
The Shield is certainly WWE's attempt at a contingency scheme, but it's not going to be enough. Love him or hate him, WWE needs Brock Lesnar.