It seemed as if the events of NJPW Dominion – one of the greatest wrestling shows of all time – lit a fire underneath WWE and their apparent love of competition.
The opening segment of this week’s RAW was tremendous. “Brock Lesnar has a problem,” Paul Heyman warned gravely. “That problem is with Samoa Joe, and that problem is going to get solved by the greatest problem solver in WWE history: Brock Lesnar!”
This brought out Joe, who stood face to face with Lesnar. Joe didn’t mess about. He stuck the nut on the Universal Champion, who then flung him into the corner. Lesnar manhandled Joe as if he was Zach Gowen. Joe responded by leathering the Beast across the back. A panicked Kurt Angle dispatched security to ringside to break up the melee. It didn’t work; Joe and Lesnar flattened them, prompting an overspill of the entire RAW roster. Joe broke free and kicked Lesnar square and stiff in the face. It didn’t matter that it wasn’t original. It was powerful, believable stuff.
WWE promoted their unique, daring and much-anticipated all-heel programme with aplomb. The tone for the evening had been set. So, too, had a benchmark of quality.
WWE then tried to maintain that with wrestling teddy bears, nagging women who struggle with technology, and awkward hugs.
For Christ’s sake.