The Element of Surprise…

by Kevin D’Hooge

Kevin Spacey’s character in the film American Beauty once opined, “It’s a great thing when you realize you still have the ability to surprise yourself.” The same can be said when WWE can pull the rug out on the audience and catch us by surprise.

This past week’s lineup of NXT Takeover, SummerSlam and Monday Night Raw surprised and then some. Without a doubt, this was the best three day stretch of action WWE has put on in some time. A lot of this had to do with outstanding debuts, returns and shockers in general.

First of all, the SummerSlam card was quite unpredictable, especially for this writer, who only correctly predicted 6 out of 10 matches. Keep in mind I went full Dolphins1925 by correctly predicting each match from Battleground last month.

Monday’s edition of Raw really pulled out all the stunts. Dudleyville’s finest D-Von and Bubba Ray Dudley made their first WWE appearance in 10 years. They will be sure to light a fire in WWE’s long-suffering tag team division. They made quick work of the new tag team champions, New Day.

The Dudley Boyz rewarded America’s favorite hype man, Xavier Woods PhD, with a patented 3D through a table. It will be interesting to see how long the Dudleys remain on the roster, but it is clear they are just as over as over with the fans as they were in the early 2000’s.

Later on, when the lights went out during the Wyatt-Shield rematch on Raw, I think we were all expecting Erick Rowan to return. Luckily this was not the case. Instead, Vince McMahon’s birthday wish came true as a 6 foot 8 inch 385 pound monster named Braun Strowman made his main roster debut.

The man’s physique and presence put Roman Reigns, Bray Wyatt and Luke Harper to shame. He quickly manhandled Roman Reigns like he was a chew toy. The biggest surprise was that Strowman bypassed the NXT system and shot straight to WWE. This revelation completely evaded all pre-Raw dirtsheets.

I think we were all expecting a surprise for Seth Rollins’ statue unveiling at the end of the night. Exactly what was not immediately clear, as there are many superstars waiting in line to take down The Man of the WWE.

Sting decided it was his time to shine and the Barclay’s Center erupted when he appeared in place of the statue. Sting beat down Rollins and made his intentions clear.

Triple H announced that Sting will be next in line to take on Seth Rollins at Night of Champions. Just like that, after putting on the PPV of the year so far, WWE has another potentially historic pay per view in the works.

WWE has been delivering all year with the Raws after pay per views. The fallout shows have arguably been more entertaining than the actual “payoff shows”, the PPV’s.

What’s even more impressive was how WWE and its employees remained so tight-lipped about Monday’s surprises. In the internet age, legitimate surprises from WWE events are far and few between.

Likewise, booking has generally been stale lately, but WWE creative pulled a few quick ones over the weekend. Yes, a few SummerSlam matches ended with dusty finishes, but the creative team kept us guessing all night.

Let’s hope WWE can keep riding this wave of momentum.
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