With only a few weeks removed from their late-2019 formation, Seth Rollins’ still-unnamed stable on Monday Night Raw has produced a pair of champions in the red brand’s tag team division. However, it’s not the Authors of Pain who emerged as champions on this week’s episode of Raw, but rather Rollins himself and the faction’s newest recruit, Buddy Murphy.
As recapped by Cageside Seats, the new title change was set up during the opening segment, as Rollins talked about how he had saved the AOP and Murphy following the “darkest [moments]” in their respective WWE careers. The promo was then interrupted twice — first by Samoa Joe and Kevin Owens, then by the erstwhile Raw Tag Team Champions, the Viking Raiders — which led to a massive brawl between the babyface and heel wrestlers.
Later that evening, Viking Raiders members Ivar and Erik agreed to defend their belts against the duo of Rollins and Murphy, with the “Monday Night Messiah” and his latest protege picking up the victory in what appeared to be a relatively clean finish. During a post-match interview, Rollins confirmed his participation in the Royal Rumble pay-per-view, one week after Murphy was similarly announced as one of the 30 male wrestlers taking part in the show’s eponymous main event battle royal.
— WWE (@WWE) January 21, 2020
Although Murphy’s Raw Tag Team Championship win alongside Rollins lends credence to rumors suggesting that Monday Night Raw executive director Paul Heyman has been responsible for the Australian’s improved push, not everyone seemed convinced by his first title win outside of WWE’s cruiserweight division. As pointed out by Forbes‘ Alfred Konuwa, Murphy was not given a chance to speak and establish himself as a top heel during the introductory promo segment. He added that it appeared questionable for a recently-formed tag team to win the belts from the Viking Raiders, as opposed to an established duo like AOP.
“Why did he join Rollins? What was his motivation? What’s his mindset? What can I expect? Nothing? Okay then,” Konuwa wrote.
“AOP couldn’t have been too thrilled with Seth Rollins and Buddy Murphy cutting the line and challenging for the Raw Tag Team Championships.”
Given that Rollins’ stable is still a fairly new one, it’s still far too early to speculate what might happen to the group in the coming weeks. While it’s unclear whether AOP may indeed take issue with the fact they weren’t involved in the Raw Tag Team Championship picture, recent rumors suggest that the faction may add a fifth member at some point before WrestleMania 36 in April.