For the past year or so, Smackdown Live has been considered by many to be superior to Raw. Even though there’s not much that can be done to usurp Raw as the flagship show, Smackdown has been presenting slightly higher caliber storylines and matches for some time. However, in the last few weeks on Raw, we’ve seen a shift in writing styles, and the show seems to be experimenting with some new ways to hook their audience. Using the magic of intrigue, Raw has revitalized the classic “Whodunnit?” formula on two fronts.
The first and most obvious mystery is the question of who has been attacking Enzo Amore, and now his partner, Big Cass.The initial suspicion was that it was the returning team of The Revival who attacked Enzo, even going so far as to show them walking in the background of a previous interview. This set the tone for this storyline being about an investigation where we see bits of evidence and clues being given for the viewer to feel like they could solve the puzzle. Then last week, when Big Cass was attacked, he reached out and handed Enzo a gold chain. A gold chain that might insinuate that Enzo himself was the attacker, or perhaps someone else who might wear a gold chain. This could also have been a way for this mystery assailant to frame Enzo. So, already, this is significantly more complex than your average WWE story arc. Let’s just hope it doesn’t get tossed out due to lack of an endgame like so many other promising storylines, like GTV or that one time there was a second masked Kane for whatever reason.
But maybe the most significant factor in this story is Cory Graves. While he might be the best heel commentator the WWE has seen since Bobby Heenan, he’s also been inserted into this conflict. After Enzo was attacked, Graves insinuated that Cass might be the culprit, to which the seven-footer took offense. In an unorthodox moment on Raw, Cass came out to the announce table and confronted Graves about his accusation. But a denial of guilt always makes one seem guilty, and the fact that Graves was involved at all means he also has a significant role in this story. So it will be interesting to see how this develops. Of course, these suspects (now including Big Show) are unlikely to be the real assailant.
This happened on the same show which saw Cory Graves uncomfortably leave the announce table to show GM Kurt Angle a message he received from yet another mysterious party. This mystery person has been speaking privately to Graves and calling Angle a disgrace to the gold medal and the Olympic Hero seems to be very rattled by it. Last week on Raw, Angle also interrupted Graves at the announce table to discuss this mystery person. Since Kurt seems so shaken up by this and in fear of losing his job, some speculate that this could be Stephanie McMahon. Whoever it is, the feeling of not knowing is keeping the WWE Universe in suspense. By explaining very little, they’re keeping the audience in the palm of their hand. Wrestling fans both love and hate feeling out of the loop of what’s ACTUALLY happening, so whatever they’re doing is working like a charm. Let’s just hope they don’t write themselves into a corner.
As far as my own personal speculation, the link between these two mysteries seems to be Cory Graves. Although it wouldn’t be Graves himself (unless he was miraculously cleared to wrestle suddenly), it may mean that these two stories are connected. The person attacking Enzo and Cass and the person who has gotten into Kurt Angle’s head may be the same individual. This is a long shot, but if I’m going to find a common thread here with the clues given, it’s gold. And no, it’s not Goldust. But a gold chain. A gold medal. A gold standard.
My wild and ridiculous guess is that this same mystery person is the Gold Standard, Shelton Benjamin. It’s more of a hope than a truly educated guess, but that’s what I gathered from what I perceived as “clues.” Benjamin was cleared to compete way back before WrestleMania after his slated return was halted by injury. He announced on twitter that he would be returning to action effective immediately. WWE has shown that they can still keep a secret and deliver a good surprise (as proven by the Hardy Boyz returning at WrestleMania). However, he doesn’t have any kind of grudge with Enzo and Cass; but he has a hell of a lot of history with Angle. Hopefully we will find out if I’m right or wrong in coming weeks on Raw. But frankly, I wouldn’t mind this “Whodunnit?” storyline being dragged out a little while longer.
Nathan Burke is a standup comedian based in Boston and can be found on Twitter @IamNathanBurke