WWE has made some curious booking choices with Damage CTRL
We are now more than two months removed from Bayley, Dakota Kai, and IYO SKY joining forces at SummerSlam 2022, and unfortunately, WWE has already chipped away at a lot of the group’s luster.
Things got off to a baffling start when the promotion chose to swerve the fans and put the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship on Raquel Rodriguez and Aliyah for a few weeks instead of strapping up Kai and SKY right away.
It seemed like things were back on track once Kai and SKY won the titles and when WWE announced that Bayley would challenge Bianca Belair for the Raw Women’s Title in a ladder match at Extreme Rules, everyone expected a big title change to further boost Damage CTRL’s momentum.
Well, that didn’t happen, and it’s fair to wonder which direction the company plans to take with the group after such a high profile loss.
What does WWE have planned for Damage CTRL?
On the Oct. 10 episode of WWE Raw, the creative team elected to take the well-traveled path to restoring Damage CTRL’s momentum. Of course, it’s also the path that leads to the fans disregarding the importance of matches.
Following the loss to Belair, Bayley attempted to bounce back against Candice LeRae. The two wrestled for a little more than six minutes before LeRae caught Bayley with a cradle and scored the surprise win.
Of course, Kai and SKY immediately attacked LeRae after the match, with Bayley joining in. Belair tried to rescue her fellow babyface, but the heels ultimately overwhelmed her to get their heat back.
In a vacuum, you could see the logic behind what WWE did. Damage CTRL needed to get their heat back after Extreme Rules (especially if WWE plans to continue the Bayley/Belair program) and doing so while giving LeRae a needed win kills two birds with one stone, in theory.
In practice, though, the result was more akin to tossing as many rocks at as many birds as possible and only bruising a couple. Setting aside how roll-up losses do little to “protect” wrestlers in short matches (though Bayley vs. LeRae was competitive enough prior to the finish), the post-match beatdown shifted focus away from the loss too quickly. Even Raw play-by-play announcer Kevin Patrick said that Bayley won in the end by standing tall despite “technically” losing the match.
That warrants its own discussion in regard to the company’s continued refusal to make match results consistently matter (of course, that will depend on how it follows up with LeRae), but as far as the effect this had on Damage CTRL, this felt like the same old, same old from a promotion that should be avoiding that like the plague.
Yes, the group executed another successful beatdown at Belair’s expense and received the correct amount of boos for where they’re positioned on the card, but we’ve seen these three beat Belair and her pals up several times in the past and Belair has remained the women’s champion. Heck she even fended off all three of them by herself to retain her title at Extreme Rules. Why would another blindsided attack make the fans believe that things are different?
To be clear, this doesn’t mean that Damage CTRL are “buried” or incapable of continuing as the lead heel act in Raw’s women’s division, but if WWE wants fans to perceive them as a threat to top babyfaces like Belair, it has to do more than booking a basic heat segment after a fluke loss, especially if it plans on keeping the feud with Belair going until WarGames.