The idea that everyone who appeared on Raw tonight will not be eligible for a move to SmackDown tomorrow seems unlikely, but if that turns out to be the case, this as the earnest start of the actual feud between Sasha and Bayley — where it went from “not sure if we are friends any more” to “don’t start no shit, won’t be no shit” status – works on a lot of different levels. In the escalating portion of the match, we finally got to see the Joshi-style striking that made their NXT work so compelling mixed with years of additional development in between.
That they will need to get through the Riott Squad before they give the people what they want is a nice touch and a natural way to extend the feud’s climax to SummerSlam. Though, given there’s like three weeks until Backlash, it’s also entirely possible they run through the Riott Squad next week and set up a match for that night the week after.
The storyline acceleration that has occurred in the Network years is especially noticeable in the NXT call-ups. When there was a single weekly and PPVs were 60 dollars a month, it made sense to stretch out a program over the course of months to establish the Authors of Pain as formidable beyond just looking the part. Rhyno and Heath would show them the ropes of life on the main roster while the young team slowly shed its need for their domineering manager, eventually coming to begrudgingly respect (or enthusiastically execute) the older team following every possible permutation of match and one or two PPV matches depending on how fast tracked the team was. But because of the NXT pedigree, AoP has dispatched of their manager, their opponents and presumably most of Heath’s kids in two weeks, while they anxiously await destroying the winners of the tag title tournament two weeks after that.