WWE MONDAY NIGHT RAW PRIMER
JUNE 18, 2018
GRAND RAPIDS, MI. AT VAN ANDEL ARENA
AIRS ON USA NETWORK, 8:00PM EDT
BY FRANK PETEANI, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Arena / Opening Thoughts
WWE and Monday Night Raw will pull into the Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, Mich. this evening. May 22, 2017 was the last time Raw appeared here. Ironically, that night we were on our journey towards Extreme Rules, which at the time was an event exclusive to Raw. Tonight we begin the same journey, only this year it will be co-branded with Smackdown.
The weekend festivities are behind us as we once again experienced another stellar NXT Takeover event as well as what many, including me, considered a thumbs-up Money in the Bank PPV. We begin to turn our attention towards Extreme Rules which is set to take place about a month from now on July 15, 2018 and may even start thinking about the SummerSlam card, as the summer months are now upon us. In any event, tonight’s focus I’m certain will be on the aftermath of Money in the Bank and how we proceed in the weeks to come.
As of this writing, WWE.com is not showing any specific matches for tonight, so we will have to tune in to see in fact what is on tap.
Alexa Bliss Cash-In Aftermath
Last night Alexa Bliss, who in a post-match interview exclusive on WWE.com deemed herself “Goddess of the Bank,” claimed the women’s Money in the Bank contract in the second annual offering of the ladder match for the women. Later in the evening she would interfere in the Raw Women’s Championship match between Ronda Rousey and champion Nia Jax, attacking Ronda with the briefcase from behind, causing Nia to be disqualified. Utilizing the briefcase, she rendered Ronda and Nia helpless, cashed in the contract, and pinned Nia with her signature “Twist of Bliss” to become Raw Women’s Champion for the third time. Overall, she is a five-time women’s champion as she previously held Smackdown’s iteration of the title twice.
Ronda has been a little chirpy on social media this morning. In one particular post on Instagram, which is linked to her Twitter account, she said:
“Apparently cheaters DO prosper in the @wwe – not surprising tbh, given their leadership @stephaniemcmahon @tripleh 🤨 I don’t know what I was doing expecting a certain degree of honor and fair sport. That was MY mistake. I won’t make it again.
@alexa_bliss_wwe_ …. you screwed over the wrong woman. See you tonight on #Raw”
Thoughts: To set things straight, from a storyline standpoint, Alexa did interfere in the match. That’s where you could say she “screwed over” Ronda thus justifying her frustration. Nia could certainly make the same claim. With being said, we never know when Stephanie McMahon will show up, but it wouldn’t surprise me if she arrives tonight to begin to unscramble this now very complicated Raw Women’s Championship picture. As you will see below, the arena’s website is advertising a “co-main event” of Nia Jax vs. Alexa Bliss. It’s not clear if this is for the title and/or if it is a dark match.
“The Monster in the Bank” Braun Strowman’s Plan
Braun Strowman plowed through seven men to become the 2018 winner of the men’s Money in the Bank contract. Judging by his win in last week’s fatal four-way on Raw, this victory comes as no surprise. Of course, he had to overcome being buried under a bunch of ladders at the top of the ramp, but come on! What’s a bunch of ladders to a man who’s tipped over a truck, an ambulance, and other various large props and vessels?
Thoughts: This really has my attention as it will be interesting to see this scenario play out, especially with Brock Lesnar being part-time and still the Universal Champion. It’s not clear when he’ll appear again. Braun already called out Brock on Twitter last night. There’s no response from Brock or his advocate, Paul Heyman. We’ll see how WWE puts things in motion.
Intercontinental Championship: Seth Rollins and Elias Aftermath
WWE.com is framing Seth Rollins’s retention of the Intercontinental Championship as “controversial” as they are acknowledging he hooked Elias’s tights (more like pants) to score the pin fall. The match was certainly competitive and picked up pace as it went on but, in the end, Rollins continued his roll and remained IC Champ.
Thoughts: I’m interested to see if Elias will cry foul here. It was clear on TV that Rollins hooked the pants, so he clearly has a case. but the announcers missed that Elias pulled on his tights two seconds earlier on his roll-up attempt, so Seth should explain he was just fighting fire with fire. The question for me, which I think is fair, is does he put this into song or does he go to G.M. Kurt Angle in angry fashion and demand a rematch? Whichever way they go, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this rivalry continue on Raw and possibly to Extreme Rules. They could also spin Rollins off to another challenger, a possibility WWE alludes to in its Raw preview.
Roman Reigns’s Next Challenger in his “Yard”
I’m going to avoid getting into Roman Reigns’s preposterous interview with ESPN the other day, in which he claimed he’s “already a heel.” You can read Wade Keller’s editorial on this matter and, if you’re a PWTorch VIP member, I HIGHLY recommend listening to his VIP Keller Hotline in which he discussed the interview. His opinion pretty much lines up with mine. I will say the fact that he would even say something like this tells me he’s as tone deaf as the people for whom he’s working. I’ll leave it at that.
WWE.com is going out of their way in their preview to discuss his “satisfying win” over Jinder Mahal last night and wondering who his next challenger will be. I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that random chants from the live crowd during the match in Chicago hardly qualifies as “satisfying” for the people.
Thoughts: I’m 50/50 on this rivalry continuing. If WWE wants to hear what the people in Grand Rapids have to say they could do a rematch tonight. It is the summertime, so beach balls can’t be too far away. I tease but, what else is there to say about a character who is grossly miscast in a rivalry with a clearly hated heel?
- Bobbly Lashley was cleanly victorious over Sami Zayn last night. Zayn did send an offensive tweet to Lashley during the day yesterday, but the clean victory indicates to me this rivalry has wrapped up at least for now. Perhaps Zayn wants to move on and pick on Reigns?
- What is next for Natalya, Ember Moon, and Sasha Banks after not capturing the MITB briefcase? All have been classy on Twitter, but there’s no indication as to what’s on tap for tonight.
- The B-Team, Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas, has a Raw Tag Team Championship opportunity against champions Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt. It’s not know when that will take place but that could be in play tonight.
- We still haven’t heard from the Authors of Pain. Rezar retweeted Triple H talking about WWE going to Melbourne, Australia for the Super Show-Down later this year in October. There’s nothing else to indicate their return being imminent.
- Bayley was nowhere to be seen at MITB last night. We still haven’t had a resolve to her issues with Sasha Banks. Last week she lost to Ruby Riott with Sarah Logan and Liv Morgan at ringside.
- Dolph Ziggler yelled a lot last week in a post-match promo where he and Drew McIntyre defeated Breezango. I feel like he’s done this a time or two in the past?
- Curt Hawkins continued his losing ways last week as he dropped a match to No Way Jose. Hawkins disguised himself in the conga line, but still couldn’t find a way to win. I don’t see a reversal of fortune in the near future.
Wrestlers Advertised / Dark Match
The Van Andel Arena’s website is advertising two matches:
- “Main event” match of Roman Reigns & Braun Strowman & IC Champ Seth Rollins vs. Kevin Owens & Jinder Mahal & Sami Zayn
- “Co main-event” of Nia Jax vs. Alexa Bliss. It’s not clear if the title, now held by Alexa, is on the line.
It’s not clear if these are dark matches or matches we will see on TV. They also advertise General Manager Kurt Angle, Ronda Rousey, and “more.” There is the preverbal “line up is subject to change.” The start time shown is 7:30 p.m. local.
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