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Shootin’ Straight with Magnum DA: The Smackdown Live invasion of Raw

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Hey everybody! @TheMagnumDA here with the first edition of “Shootin’ Straight”. As many of you know, I am no longer the Raw Reporter for W-O as of last month. My new work schedule doesn’t exactly allow me to catch *all* of Raw…that said, I am still able to catch the last hour on a weekly basis. This gives me a chance to stay on top of all the storylines and matches that take place on the WWE’s flagship program. I asked Colin if I could take a moment to write an opinion piece on the ending of last night’s Raw, because it left me in a state of confusion. The last segment was a fascinating scene, but it was a scene that left me with many unanswered questions.

To those of you who didn’t catch the ending, here’s what happened: Kurt Angle came down to ringside to announce a 10-Man Survivor Series Main Event, featuring five of the biggest stars from Raw against five of the biggest stars from Smackdown Live. Before he could announce the Raw participants, Angle was interrupted by Shane McMahon’s theme music. Instead of coming down the aisle, McMahon led a coalition of Smackdown superstars through the crowd, before entering the ring and declaring to Angle that “Raw is under siege!” Angle, completely dumbfounded, left the ringside area and headed to the back. The Smackdown Live roster followed Angle backstage (at Shane’s command) and proceeded to destroy everything in their path.

They started by attacking the members of the Titus Brand. From there, they went on to destroy Goldust, Curt Hawkins, Heath Slater, and Rhyno. They continued their path of destruction in the men’s locker room, where Jason Jordan, the Hardy brothers, and Finn Balor were beaten to a pulp. After this, the Smackdown Live women laid out Sasha Banks, Bayley, Alicia Fox, and Mickie James in the backstage corridor area as the rest of the Smackdown roster cheered them on. Finally, Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins attempted a sneak attack to fight off the Smackdown crew. After some initial success, the numbers game caught up to the brothers of the Shield. The entire Raw roster was decimated, and Angle was dragged back to the ring area by Rusev and Baron Corbin. There, Shane McMahon warned Kurt Angle that they would finish what they started at Survivor Series.

For those who did see the ending of Raw, it was a chaotic scene that immediately harkened back to the Nexus Invasion of June 2010. Backstage equipment was destroyed, cameramen were knocked down, and wrestlers were left lying in a crumpled heap. It was shocking and visceral, and Twitter immediately blew up after the closing moments of the show. Most people had positive things to say about the last segment, mainly because it was different from anything they’d seen on Raw in years. While I agree that it was a crazy way to end Raw, I was also incredibly confused by this turn of events. There were two main points I wanted to share.

Quick Heads-Up: If you don’t know what a “babyface” or a “heel” is, then proceed with caution.

BLURRING THE LINE

One thing that immediately stood out during Smackdown Live’s Invasion of Raw: The presence of Tye Dillinger, The New Day, Shinsuke Nakamura, Chad Gable, AJ Styles, and even Becky Lynch. As many of you are aware, these are the top babyfaces of Smackdown Live. To see them working over Finn Balor, the Hardys, and countless others alongside the likes of Baron Corbin, Rusev, and Dolph Ziggler (top heels) is nothing short of astonishing. Why?

Because an attack like this should create a new stable of heels, similar to the Nexus in 2010. Babyfaces don’t attack wrestlers 15-on-1 or 15-on-3. By its very nature, that’s a dastardly heel attack, reminiscent of the Four Horsemen back in the 1980’s. So why would honorable babyfaces like Dillinger, Lynch, and Gable agree to something like this? If they truly wanted to prove their dominance, they would defeat their Survivor Series opponents straight up. Mixing heels and faces worked during the “Bragging Rights” era (2009-2010) because the build-up would involve *only* the participants of the match.

When you have an ENTIRE ROSTER turn heel, your show has no moral compass (until Daniel Bryan steps in, which is likely going to happen tonight). By striking first, and striking in cowardly fashion, you’ve cannibalized the babyface roster. Who wants to buy a “Strong Style” t-shirt after seeing Nakamura stoop to such depths? Who wants to cheer for The New Day after watching them beat down the Hardy brothers like a pack of wild hyenas? From a business standpoint, you’re flushing money down the drain by turning everyone on your roster. The Superstars of Raw are the victims here; therefore they are the de facto babyfaces. Anything they do in retaliation will be justified; SmackDown Live’s initial attack was not.

CONQUERING THE CONQUEROR

Earlier in the evening, Raw’s Universal Champion Brock Lesnar accepted WWE Champion Jinder Mahal’s challenge to a “Champion vs. Champion” match at Survivor Series. This led to Paul Heyman cutting a promo that ran down the Smackdown brand. This, of course, was the impetus for the final dramatic segment on Raw.

But it begs the question: If you’re on Smackdown Live, wouldn’t Brock Lesnar be Public Enemy #1 to you? Why are you targeting geeks like Apollo Crews, Titus O’Neil, and Curt Hawkins?

Again, this plays up the “cowardly heels” talking point. Smackdown Live went after guys that are at the bottom of the totem pole. Going back to the Nexus…those eight men invaded by destroying John Cena and CM Punk, two of the top competitors in WWE at that time. THAT’S making a statement. When it takes 15 guys to beat up 50-year-olds like Goldust and Rhyno, you’re not making much of a statement at all.

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?

We don’t know what Raw’s reaction to this will be, but because SmackDown fired the first salvo, they will always be known as the instigators of this war for brand supremacy. While this has created new excitement amongst fans, it will be interesting to see if this has any long-term effects on the drawing power of SmackDown Live’s top talent. As we always say…let it play out and see where it goes. 🙂

@TheMagnumDA signing off!

@TheMagnumDA writes the Raw & Smackdown Live TV reports, and he is also the PPV Pick'em reporter for Wrestling-Online. He currently resides in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He enjoys traveling, reading, and playing PSN (ROCKofJERICHO).

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