Heading into the main event of Monday Night Raw the assumption was that Roman Reigns was going to somehow end up in the Universal Championship match at Clash of the Champions. That, or he would end up getting screwed out of it by way of Triple H or Seth Rollins.
That is not exactly how it played out. Instead, the WWE — in a rare creative move of brilliance — was able to move several storylines, angles, and characters forward without hurting anyone. Moreover, everything made — gasp — logical sense.
The last point shouldn’t need praise, but it is a portion of WWE’s booking process that is often absent.
If Reigns won the bout, he would head to the main event of Clash of the Champions. This was not lost on Rollins, who didn’t want to do battle with two people for the title, which was a nice touch. Mostly because it made for the setup of what happened during Reigns vs Kevin Owens.
Like any sane person, Rollins attempted to make the Universal Championship match a one-on-one bout by doing the most logical thing in the world — getting Reigns disqualified by simply punching Owens at an opportune time.
That is exactly what happened, too. As the match progressed, with roughly five minutes of air-time left, he got Reigns DQ’ed.
Another neat step happened afterwards. Mick Foley came out out, yelled at Rollins a bit, then restarted the match. It’s a move that happens here and there in the booking process, but far too often the people in (scripted) power of wrestling act as though they can’t right a wrong by just doing as Foley did.
This served a few purposes. It set friction up between Foley and Rollins. It also let the performer try to force the match to favor him for down the line.
It was a good match in which both wrestlers looked solid. However, as it appeared Reigns was about to win the bout, a former loose string came out to rectify all of the WWE’s booking issues as of late.
Rusev very literally cost Reigns the fight by interfering during his return to Monday Night Raw. No, he didn’t jump him or anything. He just setup a distraction in which our champion, Kevin Owens, was able to beat him clean-ish, which left him looking relatively strong.
It was yet another move of sane, logical mind. Many a Internet Wrestling Fan wondered what in the heck happened to the Bulgarian Brute, and why Reigns never had to answer for all his issues with the talent.
Those questions were answered on Monday night. Not only did Rusev interrupt and cost Reigns his match, which fixes the “Reigns in a world title match” problem, but it reignites a feud in which both performers can benefit greatly.
While it appears rather obvious in hindsight, this was superb booking by the WWE. It helps to strengthen its Raw Network Special by solidifying the main event match and by now (presumably) adding Rusev vs. Reigns. It also neatly ties up a bunch of loose ends we never got to see come to some form of closure due to Finn Balor going out with injury.
The company should be applauded for the main event because we got everything we needed. Angles, stories, and characters ALL moved forward in more linear ways. As importantly as that, we still got a good-to-great 20-25 minute match — one that’s outcome didn’t feel dirty because of the non-clean finish.
Four wrestlers, plus Mick Foley, all got a chance to shine on Monday night. It was astonishing to see it performed with such grace, as the WWE tends to prefer to hammer the point home instead of realizing the WWE Universe can remember angles from as little as a month ago.
We can remember. And the company, at least for one night, knew this. Couple this realization with the fact that a singular match was able to setup two major bouts for Clash of the Champions, and it can be argued that Monday’s main event may have not been the literal best the company has ever done, but it was one of the handful to have ever been booked with such astonishingly obvious logic.
And, seriously… who knew the company had that logic ability thing?