KELLER’S WWE RAW REPORT
SEPTEMBER 17, 2018
DALLAS, TEX. AT THE AMERICAN AIRLINES CENTER
AIRED LIVE ON USA NETWORK
Announcers: Michael Cole, Corey Graves, Renee Young
Tonight after WWE Raw, join me live with guest cohost Rich Fann to break down the show with live callers, mailbag, and a live on-site correspondent from Toronto.
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-Cole welcomed fans to Raw with a graphic noting they were in Dallas, Tex. as the camera panned the crowd.
-Roman Reigns came out to his music. The usual mix of positive shrieks and deep voiced boos. He walked out with a slow swagger. Cole called him “the most polarizing figure in WWE today.” He said he is still WWE Champion. Renee said he’s “ever the fighting champion” and she can’t wait to hear him speak tonight. They really dragged out Reigns’s entrance. They went to the announcers on camera as Cole again noted they were in Dallas and said it’s a rowdy crowd. Then they threw to a recap of the Hell in a Cell main event more than two minutes into the show at this point.
Back live, after footage aired of Brock Lesnar’s attack and Paul Heyman laughing at it, Reigns had a stern look on his face. His music finally stopped and boos and cheers erupted from opposing camps. Cole said Reigns and Braun Strowman were unable to finish the match because of Lesnar’s beating. Graves said they were both really disappointed at the result. Reigns opened: “Last night was rough. Last night was brutal. Last night it didn’t really go to plan for me.” He said the fact is, though, he woke up still Universal Champion. Boos and cheers. He said he knew Brock had his rematch, but he didn’t think he was going to come down to the ring and “kick the door in to hell and kick me when I was down and out.” He said he was standing there right now and he’d be happy to give him his rematch right now. Cheers. Pause. No response from Lesnar or Heyman. Instead, Braun’s music played.
Braun said Reigns should be happy Lesnar interfered because he would have won the title. He said if anyone should get their hands on Lesnar, it should be him. He said when he’s finished with Lesnar, he’s coming for Reigns. Mild cheers. Fans aren’t sure how to feel about Braun or Lesnar. Baron Corbin walked out and said they both need to calm down “because we’re not doing this right here, right now.” Nobody was about to do anything. Fans chanted “You suck!” He said he’d wait. He said last night was his first PPV as acting G.M. of Raw and no one is more upset about what happened in their match than he is. He said he’s been on the phone with Stephanie McMahon all day trying to come up with a solution. He said he thinks he has one that will make everybody happy. He said on Friday, Nov. 2 in Saudi Arabia, streaming live on WWE Network, on an event called “Crown Jewel,” he will defend against both Braun and Lesnar in a Triple Threat match. (Saudi money talks.)
Braun said: “I think that sucks.” He said he thinks Corbin sucks, Reigns sucks, and everyone in the arena sucks. He stormed off. Then out came Heyman, accompanied by four workers carrying the red HIAC door that Lesnar kicked down. He said tonight he is there to educate them. He said he is the “humble advocate for The Beast who kicked in the door to hell.” He said he’s going to teach everyone the economics called Brock-o-nomics. He said it’s simplistic in nature. “The more you are worth, the bigger star you are, the more leverage you have, the more powerful you get in WWE, the more money you’re worth in UFC,” he explained. “The more money you are worth in UFC, the bigger star you are in UFC, the more sheer power you wield in UFC, the more money you can make in WWE. And nothing is more powerful than wearing the Universal Heavyweight Championship.”
He said during Lesnar’s title reign, WWE signed the biggest TV rights deal ever and their stock traded at the highest level. He said they were making all of that money until the Monster and the Big Dog ganged up, conspired, and double-teamed Brock Lesnar to steal that title away from him. He said that’s why Lesnar came back last night and will go to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia where he will reclaim his championship which would make him the definitive champion on the historically flagship show which makes Lesnar the Crown Jewel of WWE. He scurried off stage as soon as Strowman began to walk up the ramp toward him.
Back in the ring Reigns yanked the mic from Corbin. Corbin yanked it back and smiled. he said he’s not sure what Reigns is thinking. He said Reigns may stand there like he’s big and bad, but as acting G.M., he’s privy to a few things including his injury report. He said he knows he’s banged up inside. He said he shouldn’t worry about the Triple Threat match because he might not be champion on Nov. 2. He said tonight he’s going to defend the title against him later. Boos. Corbin dropped out of the ring and his music played.
-Cole said if there was ever a night to challenge Reigns, this is it. Graves said he loves that decision. Cole then plugged Undertaker’s appearance later. Renee plugged Dean Ambrose vs. Drew McIntyre was up next.
(Keller’s Analysis: So add another event to the calendar of events that fans have to keep track of. They are watering down the monthly Sunday PPVs by spreading so many big matches to other events including the Super Show-down, Mixed Match Challenge, and Evolution right around the corner, plus a regular PPV next month… Heyman’s Brock-O-Nomics is a good concept to give WWE viewers a reason to think Lesnar wants the Universal Title and he isn’t a lame duck challenger because he’s headed to UFC early next year too. Corbin was good here. He’s better in front of the live crowd. He’s terrible in the pre-tapes backstage where he just can’t get in the moment in a believable way… Fans don’t particularly have a clear path in the situation WWE is presenting to root for any of the three top stars in the Crown Jewel main event.) [c]
-A Smackdown commercial aired hyping Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Rusev plus “for the first time in over two months” A.J. Styles will compete on Smackdown against Andrade Cien Almas. Also, the championship coronation of Becky Lynch, plus a surprise guest on Miz TV.
(Keller’s Analysis: That’s a lot more than announced for Smackdown than usual. It’s got to help viewership when they do that.)
(1) DREW MCINTYRE vs. DEAN AMBROSE
They fought at ringside early in the match. Drew favored his left leg after Dean focused on it, but Drew fought back at ringside and tossed Dean hard into the barricade. With Drew in control in the ring, they cut to a break at 2:00. [c]
Ambrose applied a sharpshooter mid-ring, continuing to work over Drew’s leg. Drew reached the bottom rope. Dean dove through the ropes and tackled Drew into the barricade. When Dean leaped off the top turnbuckle, Drew side-stepped him and threw him into the barricade. Dean beat the count at nine, but as soon as he entered the ring, Drew met him with a Claymore kick for the clean win.
WINNER: McIntyre in 11:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Signature singles win for McIntyre. Dean is still relatively fresh back from his hiatus for surgeries, so having Drew beat him on TV clean is a sign of confidence Vince McMahon has in Drew at this point to be a main event act. No Dolph Ziggler at ringside, either, makes the win almost a babyface win. It also could foreshadow a Dean heel turn, as it’s not unusual to do some jobs before turning with the idea being the turn is caused in part by frustration with a lack of success and a turn can be a spark to a character.)
-Cole hyped the Crown Jewel event airing Friday, Nov. 2 from Saudi Arabia. They said first, though, Reigns has to defend against Corbin. [c]
-Backstage Dolph Ziggler congratulated Drew and told him he showed them who is boss. Corbin walked up and congratulated Drew. “It’s one down, two to go,” Corbin said. Corbin asked Ziggler if he’d invoke his rematch clause tonight. Ziggler said he fell off the Cell last night, so no. Corbin said Seth is no better off. He said he wasn’t even in the arena yet, so if Ziggler invokes the rematch clause and Seth no-shows, he becomes champion by forfeit. Ziggler said he was on board. Corbin bragged that there’d be two title changes tonight.
-They went the announcers who discussed Corbin’s decisions. Renee said its wasn’t fair. Graves said Corbin is doing a fantastic job. [c]
-They recapped the Ronda Rousey vs. Alexa Bliss match at HIAC with freeze-frames of the match.
-Backstage Natalya was chatting with The Bellas. In walked Rousey. She hugged the Bellas and high-fives Natalya. Rousey asked them how championship open-challenges work. She asked if she has to “text my dear friend Stephanie.” Natalya asked if she was serious. Rousey said yes. Natalya said the guys just walk out there and say they want a fight. Rousey said it sounds easy. Natalya said anyone can accept the challenge and you never know who will. Rousey said if they have two arms, it’s one more than she needs.
(2) CHAD GABLE (w/Bobby Roode) vs. VIKTOR (w/Konnor)
As Gable and Roode came out, an inset interview aired with Gable saying since teaming with Roode, he’s been feeling better than ever, like a new man, and even glorious. Gable won with a German Suplex.
WINNER: Gable in 5:00.
-As Roode celebrated with Gable in the ring, Konnor attacked Gable and knocked him hard into Roode. [c]
-A commercial aired for Mixed Match Challenge starting tomorrow night. Another commercial aired for “Marine 6” starring Shawn Michaels, Becky Lynch, and Miz.
-Backstage Kayla approached Seth Rollins as he entered the arena. She informed him of Corbin ordering him to defend his IC Title tonight or he’ll be stripped. Seth said Corbin may be acting G.M., but someone should remind Corbin this is still “Monday Night Rollins.”
-Undertaker made his ring entrance. The announcers marveled as the history and magnitude of every Undertaker entrance. Taker said delusion is the final recourse for the damned. He said no man can spin a web of lies like a man with a broken soul. “I have never seen a man with more of a broken soul than Triple H,” he said. He said there was a time when Triple H was a savage wicked warrior, but these days he plays a more corporate game. “His battlefield is in the board room,” he said. (NXT! NXT! Oh wait, no, Triple H is a horrible person on Raw, but a hero to everyone on NXT.) He said he cannot see his own demise. He said when he faces Triple H for the last time, the result will be just like the first time. Cheers. He said he’ll put him “six feet under, game over.” More cheers. He brought up Shawn Michaels, too. Her said he can have his deceit, his delusion, and his best friend Shawn Michaels – but right there is where the devil is in the details. He said Michaels is not going to go all the way to Australia to sit in the audience and watch them fight. He said he’ll be standing in Triple H’s corner. He said he’s okay with that because standing in his corner will be Kane. Big cheers. He said everyone knows he took Shawn Michaels’s career and he’ll do the same to Triple H’s career, but he thinks he deserves far worse. He said he’ll also take his soul and he’ll put him down at WWE Super Show-down with Kane watching his back. He said Triple H will “rest in peace.” The crowd beat him to it. Taker began his slow walk to the back.
(Keller’s Analysis: That sounds like two or three minutes of material there, summarized in detail, but in reality it took ten minutes. It still worked. Taker took his time for sure, but every point he made and announcement he added had time to sink in.)
-The announcers on camera emphasized Oct. 6 was the date of Super Show-down. They said they couldn’t wait. And then they said they couldn’t wait. And, by the way, they couldn’t wait. They really hammered that point hard.
-They threw to highlights of the Hell in a Cell main event between Reigns and Strowman again. Then they hyped what’s coming up on Raw. Then Cole threw to a video feature on WWE visiting Conor’s Cure kids at a Dallas hospital. Stephanie McMahon, Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, and Sasha Banks were featured with the kids. They cut to the crowd which applauded. Then they showed kids on the stage dressed up as wrestlers. [c]
(3) BAYLEY (w/Sasha Banks) vs. DANA BROOKE
Cole said Dana is no longer affiliated with Titus Worldwide. Bayley finished Dana with a running knee to the side of her head and then a Bayley-t0-Belly for the win. Cole said Bayley beat “a very game Dana Brooke.” Sasha entered the ring and celebrated with Bayley. Graves said she was hogging the spotlight.
WINNER: Bayley in 3:00.
-Backstage Drake Maverick led the Authors of Pain. One of them picked up a guy on headsets. Drake told them to save it for the ring. [c]
-The announcers threw to a feature on the new WWE 2K19 video game.
(Keller’s Analysis: Raw is becoming much too close to an infomercial for all of WWE’s spinoffs, charity work, super shows, and other TV shows along with video recaps of what happened last week or last night. The fresh first-run content that isn’t hype or plugs for something else feels as thin as ever in recent weeks.)
(4) AUTHORS OF PAIN (w/Drake Maverick) vs. GREGORY JAMES & BARRETT BROWN
AOP won with a Super Collider. Graves said with Drake by their side, they might be unstoppable.
WINNERS: AOP in 1:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: The lack of character development for Drake is inexcusable. Graves can say with Drake by their side, they’re unstoppable, but why? Why does he say that? What is Drake doing for them?)
-Corbin told Ziggler backstage that Seth is feeling way worse than him. He said Ambrose has already lost and later he’s going to beat Reigns and become Universal Champion. He told Ziggler he’s got this. In walked Seth. Ziggler froze mid-sentence. Seth asked if he was trying to talk his way out of the match. Ziggler said that’s not true, but Seth can back out if he wants to and no one would blame him. Seth said that won’t happen. [c]
-Clips aired of Seth and Ziggler falling off the HIAC onto tables on the floor last night in a sponsored clip.
(5) SETH ROLLINS vs. DOLPH ZIGGLER – Intercontinental Title match
Ziggler came out first and the announcers said he’d like to become a dual champion tonight. Seth came out next. Renee noted his limp. Ziggler dominated early. Ziggler charged into Seth and knocked him hard off the ring apron to the floor. They cut to a break at 2:00. [c]
Back live Seth caught a charging Ziggler with a boot to the face. Then Seth hit a blockbuster, but was slow to get up and follow-up. Ziggler put Seth in a sleeper a minute later as Graves talked about how they’re fighting at a methodical pace instead of frenetic instead because of what they went through last night. Seth escaped and came back with a ripcord knee for a near fall. Ziggler knocked Seth off balance on the top rope. Seth blocked Ziggler’s superplex and knocked him crotch-first onto the top turnbuckle. Seth then set up a top rope move, but Ziggler fought out of it and knocked Seth to the mat. Seth popped up, though, took Ziggler to the mat with a sudden superplex. He rolled through and set up a Falcon Arrow, but Ziggler slipped free and rolled up Seth for a two count. Seth countered quickly with a stomp and scored the three count.
WINNER: Seth in 9:00 to retain the IC Title.
(Keller’s Analysis: Good nine minute match. They were a step slower than usual, as they should have been storyline-wise, if not in real-life, after the match their had and the bumps they took last night.)
-Charlie Caruso interviewed Reigns backstage about facing Corbin later. Reigns said he doesn’t consider himself an underdog against Corbin, as Corbin claimed. He said maybe against Lesnar or Braun, but not Corbin. “Tonight when I’m in the ring with Baron Corbin, I’m not going to be the underdog, I’m just going to be the Big Dog.” He predicted victory.
-They showed Rousey warming up backstage. Graves wondered if she was about to issue an open challenge.
-Cole then threw to a Hispanic Heritage Month video. It featured Brie Bella talking about her father. Then Andrade Cien Almas, Zelina Vega, and Sasha Banks. Banks, of course, talked about how inspiring Eddie Guerrero was to her. Titus O’Neal talked about MLB player Roberto Clemente. [c]
-WWE Fact: Last night NIAC was the most active show on all of TV beating MLB on ESPN, Sunday Night Football on NBC, and Walking Dead on AMC.
-Rousey made her ring entrance. Cole said, “It’s time to get rowdy!” Fans chanted for her. She said she first wanted to thank Alexa Bliss. Fans booed. “Last night was the best performance I have ever seen from her and I honestly wasn’t expecting her to fight at that level,” she said. She said she didn’t expect Bliss to push her as much as she did. She thanked her for showing her she is more of a champion than she thought she ever could be. “I want to be the best champ you guys have ever seen. I want to be just like Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart. Just like ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin. I want to be like Ric Flair. And that’s why I am issuing an open challenge right here, right now.” After a pause, Natalya’s music played. Rousey smiled. When Natalya didn’t come out, Cole said maybe Natalya was playing mind games. Instead, Riot Squad dragged Natalya onto the stage. She was knocked out. Ruby Riott said what happened to Natalya was her fault and they were there to shut this operation down. She said they don’t dislike her, but they don’t like her either. She said she’s accepting her open challenge. She stepped onto the ring apron. Rousey punched her. Sarah Logan entered and got punched. Liv Morgan entered and Rousey judo threw her. Then she went after Riot again. Logan intervened, but Rousey threw her down. Ruby jumped her and a then the three heels stomped away at her. Nikki and Brie Bella ran out for the save. Cole hyped that they’d all face off in Australia. They cleared the ring of the three heels and stood strong together.
-They replayed Corbin challenging Reigns to a Universal Title match in tonight’s main event. [c]
-They replayed the Riot Squad-Rousey/Bellas angle. Then Cole plugged the Super Show-down.
-Elias strummed his guitar under a spotlight mid-ring. He took some digs at the Dallas Cowboys and compared Lashley to the Cowboys for being a constant disappointment. Lio Rush interrupted and said he just keeps singing the same sad tired song over and over and it’s embarrassing. Elias asked, “Who’s kid is this?” Fans laughed. He asked which irresponsible parent let their kid run up onto the ramp and run his mouth. Leo reintroduced himself. He said he’s a 23 year old piece of gold and the man of the hour, Leo Rush. Elias interrupted and said he doesn’t care. He said he’s about to do a song, so he called for security to take him up to Lost & Found so his parents can retrieve him. Leo said the big man told him he makes jokes “or maybe that you are a joke.” Leo told Elias to wait and see what happens when he gets into the ring with him. He then introduced “my man, Bobby Lashley.”
(Keller’s Analysis: Fans had no idea how to respond to all of that other than laughing at anything funny.)
They aired a clip of Kevin Owens attacking Lashley two weeks ago on Raw as he was trying to meditation with Jinder Mahal and Sunil Singh. Cole plugged Lashley & John Cena vs. Kevin Owens & Elias coming up at Super Show-down.
(6) ELIAS vs. BOBBY LASHLEY
They returned live as Cole plugged a chain restaurant. Rush joined the commentary team. Renee asked what his relationship is with Lashley. Rush said he’s Lashley’s manager. He said they met over a smoothie because they both love smoothies and they devised a plan. Renee asked what made Lashley stand out to him. Rush said he’s the big man and he looks like money and smells like money. Renee asked how Rush will help him. Rush said he’s giving him the opportunity he deserves. Graves asked what he plans to advise him to do regarding Owens. Lashley scored a two count after a powerslam. Rush said KO is a coward. Elias met Lashley leaping off the top rope with a knee lift. Both men were down. KO’s music played. Rush took off his headset. Owens walked over right toward Rush. Rush rolled his desk chair at him. Then he leaped over him and hid behind the desk chair. Owens threw it at him. Rush taunted KO as he ran to the ring. He leapfrogged over Elias and then backflipped over him off the ring apron. Elias caught him, but Rush scurried free and kicked him. KO then kicked Rush and set up a Pop-Up Powerbomb, but Lashley grabbed Rush and pulled him into the ring. Lashley then knocked Owens off the ring apron, then pressed and threw Rush onto KO and Elias. Lashley then lifted Leo onto his shoulders. Leo fell back and sat back up, then smiled.
WINNER: No contest in 3:00
(Keller’s Analysis: I have no idea what to make of this, but if it means no more Lashley promos and an eventual Lashley heel turn, it’s a good path.)
-A selfie promo aired with Bliss, Alicia Fox, and Mickie James. Bliss said they’re all future Hall of Famers as singles wrestlers, so she’s going to help her besties be a great tag team. They agreed no one would want to team with Ember Moon against them, though. [c]
(7) NIA JAX & EMBER MOON vs. MICKIE JAMES & ALICIA FOX (w/Alexa Bliss)
The heel duo isolated Moon for several minutes. She hot-tagged in Jax, who went to work on Fox. Mickie interfered, but Moon got rid of her. Jax then finished Fox with her Samoan drop.
WINNERS: Jax & Moon in 6:00.
-Cole said Jax received the Association of National Advertisers #SeeHer award for recognizing challenges that Jax has overcome in the portrayal of women and girls in the media.
(Keller’s Analysis: Which came first? Nia’s character talking about overcoming prejudice because of her size, or the goal to win that award?)
-Backstage Corbin told the referee to be unbiased. Corbin reminded him he is the acting of general manager of Raw and he wants to be referred to as that. The nervous ref called him that, and then Corbin said he can now go.
-The announcers on camera plugged donating to Red Cross. [c]
-A commercial hyped “the new Wednesday night line-up” on WWE Network with 205 Live at 7 ET, then NXT at 8 ET, and finally Mae Young Classic at 9 ET.
(8) ROMAN REIGNS vs. BARON CORBIN – Universal Title match
Corbin’s ring entrance aired. Then Reigns’s. Mixed response for Reigns. Renee said he looks like a million bucks. Graves said Reigns at best has to be 75 percent after what he went through Sunday night. Renee said he’ll rise to the occasion as he does day in and day out. They did formal ring introductions. Corbin elbowed Reigns early with a fast-paced start to the match. When Reigns made a comeback, Corbin avoided his charge in the corner. Corbin then slid to ringside and re-entered the ring and clotheslined Reigns for a two count. They cut to a break. [c]
Corbin had Reigns grounded after the break and held him there for a couple of minutes.
Reigns made a comeback. Graves said Reigns must be jacked up on adrenaline because there’s no other explanation for his performance. He said he can’t believe it, “but the Big Dog might be closing in on a successful defense of his championship.” Corbin rolled to the floor. Reigns leaned out to grab him, but Corbin hit him with an uppercut. Back in the ring, Reigns quickly gave Corbin a side slam for a two count. When Reigns hit a Superman Punch, Corbin retreated to ringside. When Reigns ran after him, Corbin threw a chair at his face. Cole called for the ref to DQ Corbin. “What’s he waiting for?” Cole asked. The bell rang and Corbin was upset. JoJo announced Reigns was still champion. Cole said Corbin just blew his opportunity. Corbin threw a fit. Graves said Corbin has so much on his plate with Crown Jewel and Evolution and Super Show-down. Corbin then ordered the match to be restarted as a no-DQ match. No surprise to anyone except the announcers.
The bell rang again to restart the match. Corbin threw Reigns into the ring. Reigns met Corbin and his chair with a Superman Punch for a two count. Strowman walked out. Corbin jumped the distracted Reigns from behind. Reigns went down and held his head. Strowman entered the ring and splashed Reigns in the corner and let out a big yell. Then he set up a powerslam. Reigns escaped. Strowman charged. Reigns moved and Strowman flew through the ropes to the floor. Corbin went after Reigns and landed the Deep Six for a somewhat believable near fall. Drew and Dolph ran out to the ring next. Graves said it’s no DQ so it’s all within the rules. Next Dean and Seth ran out. They attacked Drew, Dolph, and Strowman. Reigns gave Strowman a Superman Punch to knock him off the ring apron. Dean and Seth kneeled by Reigns. Graves said the match was still continuing. Seth and Dean dove through the ropes onto Drew, Dolph, and Strowman. Reigns set up a running dive onto Strowman on the floor, but Corbin cut him off with a forearm. Reigns speared him seconds later and scored the three count.
WINNER: Reigns in 18:00 to retain the Universal Title.
(Keller’s Analysis: WWE thinks they’re being clever and “sports entertaining” their Universe with having a G.M. make preposterously corrupt decisions to change rules mid-match withtheir top title on the line, but they pay a price. What makes everything “matter” in the universe they create is a title everyone chases, and fans have to believe that there’s some integrity to the process in the end when the stakes are highest. If they’re selling the idea on one show that referee’s decisions are always final and on the other, the heel G.M. (assigned by the dastardly Stephanie McMahon when she’s not visiting sick kids in hospitals) is overturning referee decisions and restarting matches, it makes fans feel foolish for taking anything seriously and investing emotionally in anything that WWE presents. It’s one thing for Corbin to do that in some prelim grudge match, but to do it in a Universal Title match is not okay. And what’s worse, I doubt it will be talked about by the announcers, or Reigns (who’s “too cool” to complain even when he should), or Stephanie. The fact that the entire final scene was so transparently a way to hype a match already announced for the next super-show (check WWE Network for which timezone) made the whole thing feel like a manipulative charade.)
FINAL THOUGHTS: This show was way way too heavy on plugs for other things WWE is doing. Between plugs for future events and TV shows and HIAC flashbacks, the fresh content felt almost incidental to the infomercial aspects.