KELLER’S WWE RAW REPORT
SEPTEMBER 24, 2018
AIRED LIVE ON USA NETWORK
Announcers: Michael Cole, Corey Graves, Renee Young
Tonight after WWE Raw, join me live with guest cohost Zack Heydorn to break down the show with live callers, mailbag, and (we hope) a live on-site correspondent from Denver.
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READ A PREVIEW OF THIS EPISODE FIRST HERE: WWE RAW PRIMER 9/24: Raw Tag Team Championship match, Lashley vs. Elias, Brie vs. Riott, Gable, Corbin & The Shield, Follow-up on Nia’s return
-A new “WWE Then, Now, Forever” video opened the show. This, worthy of note, heavily featured Hulk Hogan, including Hogan slamming Andre at the start and then making his signature walk to the ring. It also featured Steve Austin, The Rock, Ric Flair, Roman Reigns, Triple H, John Cena, and Chris Jericho among a college of rapid-fire images that also included Freddie Blassie, Alexa Bliss, Stephanie McMahon, and Ronda Rousey.
-A limousine pulled up. Stephanie McMahon walked out. Baron Corbin wished her a happy birthday and sang “Happy Birthday” to her. Triple H stepped out of the limo next and shot him a look. Stephanie said she has something to say to Corbin. Triple H said it’s awkward so he’s going to go. He patted him on the chest and wished him luck. She said she expected he would do the job that Kurt Angle wouldn’t. She said she expected him to lead and make good decisions. She asked if putting himself in a match for the Universal Title was a good decision. Corbin said it might have been crossing a line, but he felt provoked. Stephanie said then he doesn’t have control and isn’t a leader. She said excuses aren’t allowed. She told him to go get two partners and take on The Shield. She said he should take care of business or Kurt Angle might come back from vacation sooner than expected.
(Keller’s Analysis: Seeing Corbin brow-beat like that by a heel boss figure like Stephanie is both satisfying, because Corbin has been a jerk himself, but also conflicting, because Stephanie is such a jerk herself that you feel sorry for Corbin.)
-Cole introduced the show. They showed the banner that said they were in Denver. Graves said Stephanie was showing tough love. They showed the announce team on camera. Cole plugged WWE Super Show-down’s match featuring The Shield vs. Braun Strowman & Dolph Ziggler & Drew McIntyre. Graves called it a colossal match.
-The Shield stood mid-ring together for a promo. Dean spoke first and he said they are the work horses of WWE. He said they may have lost a few battles here and there, but they’ve never lost a war. He said they’re still standing. Reigns began to talk. Fans broke into boos. He said, “You could read off our resumes, but it would probably take all day.” He said all they have to do is this. Reigns and Seth raised their Universal Title and Intercontinental Title belts. Dean stood behind them looking slightly left out and uncomfortable. He said “everybody should want these.” He said they are the keys to the kingdom. He said that’s why Brock Lesnar came back. He said those belts change lives. Seth said they are and always will be about being the best. He said Braun wanted that power so much, he recruited himself a pair of jackasses to try to take down The Shield at Super Show-down.
Seth said Corbin is “the world’s largest substitute teacher.” He wondered who would want to team with Corbin. Seth said they are ready “right now!” Corbin walked out to his music and said it’s his boss Stephanie’s birthday. He said he won’t Raw erupt into madness, so he’s putting his foot down. He said he and his partners are going to toss them around like rag dolls and he will impress his boss. He said there isn’t a guy in the locker room who likes The Shield, including “these guys.” Out walked Braun Strowman, Drew McIntyre, and Dolph Ziggler.
Braun told Roman to shine that belt because he won’t be wearing it long. He said he can already see cracks forming in The Shield and it’s only a matter of a time before it implodes. Reigns made a Roman Face. Braun said he thinks Dean is starting to see the light. Ziggler told Dean that The Shield needs him, but he doesn’t need The Shield. He said two years ago on Smackdown, he was there with him when he was WWE Champion and he did it all by himself. He said he saw the fire in his eyes and knows how good he can be, but now they have everything and Dean has nothing. Seth said that’s ridiculous.
McIntyre said he’s a brutally honest individual and people don’t always like him for it because the truth can hurt. He said Dean pushed him to his limit last week and he was lucky to score a victory over Dean. He said Seth and Roman do not appreciate him and he deserves more. Dolph said, “Disposable Dean, that’s probably what they call you behind your back.” Ziggler asked what he’s been getting when he sacrifices himself for his partners. Dean looked like he was soaking up the hard truth. Seth jumped in. Dolph said they won’t even let Dean talk. He asked Seth, when Dean got injured, how long it was he teamed with someone new. He asked if he even texted Dean when he was gone. Ziggler said Braun will beat Reigns for the Universal Title. He told Dean that if he hangs with them, he can be IC Champion. He said it would be nothing short of treason to turn his back on them, but he should.
Reigns told him to shut up. “These people didn’t pay their money to watch you bump your gums, they paid their hard-earned money to watch us whoop your ass, so let’s do it.” (Bump your gums?) They made their way to the ring, but Corbin cut them off and said “no” over and over. He said this isn’t happening now. The crowd chanted “Yes!” Corbin said they can chant all they want, but it’s not happening. He said Drew & Dolph are already booked to defend their tag team titles, and he plans to beat The Shield with his two partners.
(Keller’s Analysis: So Dean never spoke, which means we are left wondering how he felt about the pitch by the heels. He seemed like he was receptive toward what they were saying, but he also seemed like grumpy Dean. Reigns wasn’t good here. Does he look at lines like “bumping your gums” and think that’s a good thing for him to say? Ziggler continues his career rebound, coming across the leader of the threesome in this segment.)
-Renee said they get to see The Shield together in the ring for the first time in nearly a year. Seth plugged The Revival challenging Drew & Dolph later. Renee plugged Elias vs. Bobby Lashley (w/Leo Rush). They showed Finn Balor backstage. Bayley moved in for a hug. Cole said they’re tag partners in Mixed Match Challenge. He said Balor faces Jinder, and Bayley and Alicia Fox will be in their respective corners. [c]
(1) FINN BALOR (w/Bayley) vs. JINDER MAHAL (w/Alicia Fox, Sunil Singh)
Graves wondered how Fox would get along with Jinder since Fox isn’t exactly “soothing for the soul.” Jinder grounded Balor with a chinlock mid-ring. A minute later Balor landed a flip dive over the top rope onto Jinder on the floor. [c]
Fox yanked on Balor’s leg to help reverse momentum a few minutes back from the break. Bayley returned the favor. Fox yelled at Singh over letting Bayley get away with it. Graves said Bayley should be ejected. Bayley punched Fox as Fox got in her face. Singh went at Bayley next, so Bayley gave him a suplex onto the mat at ringside. Balor schoolboyed a distracted Jinder for the win. Bayley leaped into Balor’s arms in excitement. Jinder made “seething mad” cartoon faces in the ring.
WINNER: Balor in 10:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: It was pretty clear Bayley and Balor were instructed to turn it up to 11 when it came to “having the time of their lives out there,” as Graves put it.)
-Jinder attacked Singh afterward. He threw him into the ring. Renee said this isn’t fair. Jinder and Fox then decided to meditate mid-ring. Singh joined in.
-They went to the announcers who transitioned to R0nda Rousey and the Bellas working together to fend off the Riott Squad.
-Natalya and The Bellas made their ring entrance. [c]
(2) NATALYA & BRIE & NIKKI BELLA vs. THE RIOTT SQUAD (Ruby Riott & Liv Morgan & Sarah Logan)
Nikki got the crowd going a couple minutes in with a series of Yes Kicks against Liv Morgan. Graves compared the Bellas to an old lady on a freeway and needing to speed past them. Renee asked about respecting those who paved the way. Graves said respecting your elders is overrated. The Bellas and Natalya fended off a Riott Squad attack. The Riott Squad regrouped at ringside. [c]
Logan had Brie grounded after the break. Morgan wasn’t there. Cole said she was taken to the back to be evaluated. No word on what happened to her as she was part of three-on-three action before the break. Cole said she was a non-factor since Brie hit her with a series of Yes Kicks. (Going back and rewatching, it’s clear the last “Yes kick” Brie threw before the break was stiff and knocked her out. Brie actually dragged her to her corner for a tag and the mic picked up her saying that “she needs help.” She was helped out of the ring by Logan, who checked on her. Graves said the kick hit her on the bridge of her nose. The kicks to the chest were stiff enough, but then she went higher with two and the second one nailed her and Morgan just collapsed forward. She was able to take part in a triple suplex spot a minute later, but during the break she wisely was called to the back for medical attention, perhaps concussion protocol.)
Natlaya eventually hot-tagged in and took it to Logan with a back suplex and a discus clothesline for a two count. Ruby made the save. Ruby blind-tagged in and broke up Natalya’s sharpshooter with a superkick. Then she hit the Riott Kick for the win.
WINNERS: Riott Squad in 12:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Brie’s got to reign in those Yes Kicks to the face, obviously. A woman short, the win for Riott Squad was an unintended “statement victory” for them.)
-The announcers hyped the six-man tag main event. Then the stage filled with wrestlers for a Connor’s Cure presentation.
-A commercial aired hyping a contract signing segment with A.J. Styles and Samoa Joe. [c]
-Triple H and Stephanie McMahon stood mid-ring and talked about September being Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month. She talked about WWE raising over 2.5 million dollars for food vouchers and parking vouchers for over 400 families. Triple H talked about the wrestling characters that pediatric cancer patients have created. He talked about their spirit and determination “that truly defines what it means to be a Superstar.” Stephanie threw to a video announcing Hyundai joining WWE in supporting Conor’s Cure.
-A video aired about Hyundai and WWE sporting Connor’s Cure charity. Then out came Carter and Elizabeth. Hunter encouraged Elizabeth to dance. She did. Then he unveiled championship belts for each of them. Fans chanted “You deserve it.” The boy was thrilled and the girl teared up as she smiled. Zafar Brooks from Hyundai then took the mic and asked for another round of applause for Carter and Elizabeth. Then he asked for another round of applause for WWE. And then another for the fans for supporting the Smackdown on Pediatric Cancer. He revealed that Hyundai was donating “a generous gift of $200,000.” They showed Corbin and Braun applauding on the front row. [c]
-A commercial aired for Total Divas which included Paige’s retirement speech.
-Backstage Ziggler walked up to Ambrose, who seemed to be deep in thought. Dean grabbed him by his jacket and told him to get out. Ziggler said he’s not there to fight. He insisted he was telling the truth earlier. He said Reigns and Seth don’t care. He said he was on Smackdown with him and saw him do everything without them. Dean listened. Ziggler told Dean to just give them the signal tonight and he doesn’t have to do anything because they’ll do the rest.
(3) CHAD GABLE (w/Bobby Roode) vs. KONNOR (w/Viktor)
Gable and Roode stood in the ring as Roode’s music faded. A vignette aired with Gable saying Roode has taught him a lot. He said his new philosophy is “WWBRD” which stands for “What Would Bobby Roode Do?” He said the answer is, “Be glorious.” Graves called Gable “Bobby’s fanboy.” As the Ascension came out, a Konnor soundbite aired where he said carnage is going to happen and Gable like an innocent, eager puppy who likes to play in the street and he’s the semi-truck approaching him.
Konnor took control early. Gable surprised him, after a distraction by Roode, with an armbar in the ropes. Gable rallied a bit after coaching by Roode at ringside. He went for a top rope moonsault, but Konnor moved. Konnor then went from an inverted body vice into a slam for the win. Even Cole seemed genuinely surprised that was the three count. Graves said a “stunned silence” fell over the fans in the arena (or, perhaps, “complete indifference”)
WINNER: Konnor in 3:00.
-Charlie Caruso caught up with Stephanie and Triple H as they were about to get back into their limo. She asked for comments from Triple H in response to Undertaker last week. Stephanie tried to blow off Charlie, but Triple H said he’d listen to her question. Caruso said Undertaker says he has a broken soul and that delusion would be his downfall because he’s gotten corporate. He said if he’s thinking about suits, he’s already lost. He said as far as Taker taking his soul, he sold his soul long ago. He said anyone who is honest with themselves can feel it in the air – when it comes to Undertaker, the end is near.
(Keller’s Analysis: It’s still just stunning they portray Stephanie and Triple H as the corporate leaders giving millions to kids with cancer, and then turn around 15 minutes later and have them act like conceited, self-satisfied corporate jerks cutting a heel promo. How do they expect viewers to get invested in anything when their lead characters are so herky-jerky one segment to the next? What if at halftime during ESPN’s Monday Night Football game, half of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers players changed players at halftime and also changed names to the Pittsburgh Buccaneers and Tampa Bay Steelers. Who would fans cheer on to win?)
-Ziggler and McIntyre made their way to the ring.
-A promo aired with R-Truth and Carmella. Truth said tomorrow night he’s facing Carmella in Hell in a Cell. Carmella said they’re facing Miz and Asuka. Truth looked confused, then said, “They’re in Hell in a Cell, too?” Then a promo aired with Miz and Asuka, who sang “We will win! We will win!”
(Keller’s Analysis: It’s a continuation of the Triple H/Stephanie issue here in that Asuka is happily teaming with Miz. How are fans supposed to feel about them? At least there’s a back story with Carmella and Truth.) [c]
-The announcers pushed fans to vote for WWE wrestlers in the People’s Choice Awards.
(4) DOLPH ZIGGLER & DREW MCINTYRE vs. THE REVIVAL – WWE Raw Tag Team Title match
(Keller’s Analysis: And now, to pile on, two heels teams against each other.)
A few minutes in, as Dash charged at Ziggler, Ziggler sidestepped him and threw him into the ringside stairs. They cut to a break as Drew worked over Dash in the ring. [c]
After the break, Dash hot-tagged Dawson. He rallied and gave Ziggler a butterfly powerbomb for a two count. Dash blind-tagged himself in as Dawson superplexed Ziggler. Then Dash landed a frog splash for a near fall, broken up by Drew. Dash got the better of Drew at ringside. They showed Dean watching the match on a monitor from a strange side angle. Dawson scored a very near fall that popped the crowd after a top rope clothesline of Ziggler off of Dash’s shoulders. The crowd was totally behind The Revival at this point, or at least they were behind seeing a title change. Fans briefly chanted “This is awesome!” Drew tagged in when Ziggler stumbled into his corner. Dawson dropkicked Wilder onto Drew for a near fall. Drew head-butted Dash. Then Drew delivered the Claymore Kick into a Ziggler Zig Zag for the win.
WINNERS: Ziggler & McIntyre in 12:00 to retain the Raw Tag Team Titles.
-The announcers hyped the six-man main event and Elias vs. Lashley. Then workers began to set up the Kevin Owens Show. Since a big stage spot isn’t planned, the KO Show is happening in the ring, of course. [c]
-WWE Fact: WWE Network has over 11,000 hours of sports entertainment in its archives including the AWA, ECW, WCCW, GWF, WCW, NWA, Mid-South, and WWE.
(Keller’s Analysis: I always find it strange WWE refers to the AWA, WCW, Mid-South, etc. as “sports entertainment” since Vince McMahon invented the term “sports entertainment” to try to differentiate what he did from what other promoters were doing, which he derisively said was just “pro wrestling.” Now apparently he and all promoters were all presenting “sports entertainment” all along? Or does it become “sports entertainment” when WWE signs ownership papers of the footage?)
-Elias strummed and sang mid-ring and took digs at Denver. He said Denver doesn’t deserve an Elias performance tonight. Boos. He said he’d pass it along to a friend of his, who happens to be his partner at Super Show-down in Australia. He talked about facing John Cena & Bobby Lashley in Australia with his partner Kevin Owens. Owens came out to his music. Owens sat at his talk show desk and thanked Elias for his stellar introduction. He said he’s thrilled he gets to team with Elias at Super Show-down. He introduced his guest Lio Rush, saying he is a generous man for giving Lio the opportunity to step onto the grandest stage that there is. He said he wants to get to know him better.
Rush came out onto the stage. KO told him to stop stalking about himself in the third person, but instead walk to the ring. Rush said he and Bobby made them look like fools last week, and this week he’s looking to make up for those failings. He said he’s the 23 year old piece of gold, and while he’s young, he’s not naive, so he’ll stay right there on the stage. Elias said he understands why he’s concerned, but they have special seating for him. They put a booster seat on a folding chair. Rush said he has someone who is a “Rocky Mountain made machine.” He said he’s the heavyweight who is back to dominate. He introduced Lashley who got a nice hometown response. [c]
(5) BOBBY LASHLEY (w/Lio Rush) vs. ELIAS (w/Kevin Owens)
Cole said Bobby and Mickie James don’t have a team name yet, so he invited fans to suggest names on the Facebook page for Mixed Match Challenge. Graves said he’d rather clean his ears with a drill bit than listen to Elias’s music. Renee then said he’s WWE’s Eddie Vetter. Cole – and I’m to sure he knew he was doing this – said Lashley was “fighting out of a jam here.” Lashley took it to Elias at ringside. Fans chanted “Bobby!” Elias dropkicked Lashley’s legs and he fell to the floor seconds later. They cut to a break. [c]
They showed that during the break Elias kneed Lashley out of mid-air off the second rope. Lashley eventually speared Elias through the ropes to the floor. Both were slow to get up. Owens eventually chased Rush around ringside. Rush ducked and then Owens ran into Lashley when he turned the corner at ringside. The ref DQ’d Owens. Graves said it wasn’t intentional. Owens chased Rush again, but Rush leaped over him off the ringside barricade. Elias and Owens had him cornered, but he still escaped into the ring. They caught him, though, and Owens set up a Pop-Up Powerbomb. Lashley made the save and knocked KO out of the ring. Cole plugged the Super Show-down tag match.
WINNER: Lashley via DQ in 12:00.
-Backstage Seth approached Drew and said he wants to give him a piece of his truth. He said Drew is the one who is being used. He said Braun doesn’t give a damn about him, he’s using him to get what he wants. He said Ziggler is the weak link and he’s been riding his coat tails. He asked why Ziggler gets all the IC Title opportunities. He said he’s literally carrying him. He said he should take a good, long look in the mirror to see who is being used. Drew listened and didn’t say anything. Seth walked away. Drew seemed to be thinking about it as Ziggler walked up to him and asked what that was all about. Drew curtly said, “Don’t worry about it.” He walked away. Ziggler looked concerned.
-Nia Jax and Ember Moon walked to the ring to Jax’s music. [c]
(6) ALICIA FOX (w/Mickie James, Alexa Bliss) vs. NIA JAX (w/Ember Moon)
As Fox and Co. walked out, an inset selfie promo aired with Nia and Ember. Ember talked about Jax being a “game changer.” Jax laughed and said she knows what she did there. Cole said fans can bid on Bliss’s jacket which says “Little Miss Bliss” on the back and 100 percent of the proceeds go to Connor’s Cure. Fox bailed out to ringside seconds into the match after being overpowered and tossed around. Moon flip dove onto Mickie on the floor. Fox took over on Jax seconds later in the ring and scored a soft two count. Jax won with a Samoan Drop.
WINNER: Jax in 4:00.
-Backstage Drew approached Dean. He said Seth approached him and maybe it’s because Seth is thinking of an unstoppable four-man Shield. Or, another theory is that Seth realizes everything they said is true and maybe he and Roman should have texted him more, so maybe they’re recruiting him as a replacement. He said maybe he’s overreacting because “it’s not as if Seth has ever stabbed you in the back before.” Dean still said nothing. Drew walked away.
-Cole hyped a Triple H-Undertaker video was up next. [c]
-A five minute video recap aired next hyping Undertaker vs. Triple H at Super Show-down.
-Graves announced Shawn Michaels would be on Raw next week. Cole said Super Show-down is a week from Saturday from Melbourne.
-The ring entrance took place for The Shield. Cole hyped the Crown Jewel main event of Roman Reigns defending against both Braun Strowman and Brock Lesnar. He then wondered who Corbin’s partners would be. [c]
-The announcers said Owens vs. Lashley was signed for next week. Also, Ronda Rousey vs. Ruby Riott as a preview of the six-woman tag match scheduled for Australia the following Saturday.
(7) THE SHIELD (Roman Reigns & Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose) vs. BARON CORBIN & AUTHORS OF PAIN (w/Drake Maverick)
As The Shield waited for their opponents in the ring, Graves pointed out Seth and Roman have belts, and Dean is standing there with only his fists. Corbin stepped out onto the stage and asked fans to “give it up for The Shield.” He said it’s their first time teaming together on Raw in nearly a year, but it might also be their last. He said people can see the break-up coming, and that’s why everyone was breaking down his door to get the opportunity to be in this main event. He introduced AOP as his choice.
(Keller’s Analysis: If played right, this is a good chance to build up AOP in such a spotlighted position.)
After AOP and Drake entered the ring, Drew, Dolph, and Braun stepped out onto the stage to Braun’s music. They each brought out chairs and then sat on them on the stage. They opened with Dean vs. Corbin. Graves asked if Dean’s allegiance is with Seth and Roman now. He said he won titles without them on Smackdown. Rezar tagged in and knocked down Dean and Seth. Dean tagged in Reigns. They had a staredown. Rezar yelled at him, but Reigns didn’t flinch. Rezar got the better of Reigns with a corner beating. They showed Braun, Dolph, and Ziggler watching from the stage. Reigns returned fire with an uppercut, but couldn’t lift Rezar for a Samoan Drop. He instead landed a flying clothesline. Rezar popped up, surprising Roman. All six squared off and yelled at each other mid-ring, then fought. The Shield cleared the ring, or “held their yard,” as Cole put it. Bryan, Dolph, and Drew walked toward the ring with their chairs. Cole said it might be about to explode and The Shield is ready. AOP and Corbin attacked The Shield from behind. Corbin gave Reigns a chokeslam backbreaker for a two count. They cut to a break. [c]
Back live, Seth was in control. Drake distracted the ref as Corbin yanked down the top rope as Seth ran toward it, so Seth tumbled to the floor. Corbin rammed Seth into the ringside barricade. The heels controlled Seth for a few minutes.
Seth dove for a tag to Dean, but Aikem yanked Dean off the ring apron. Then he threw Reigns into the ringside steps when Reigns went looking for revenge. They double-teamed Reigns on the floor. Braun, Drew, and Dolph watched and smiled from ringside. Seth rolled up Corbin inside the ring for a two count. Corbin came back with a Deep Six for a near fall. Both were slow to get up. Seth finally hot-tagged Dean in against Corbin, which got a nice pop. Cole wondered if Dean “is Shield through and through.” Dean slidekicked AOP and Corbin as they regrouped at ringside. He quickly threw Corbin back into the ring. Seth and Reigns were out on the floor at ringside. Aiken knocked Dean off balance on the top rope. Dean fought back against Corbin, but there was no one to tag. He gave Corbin a neckbreaker and then climbed to the top rope. This time he launched and clotheslined Corbin and scored a near fall, with AOP breaking it up at two. Cole said it’s three-on-one now. Reigns intercepted Rezar with a Superman Punch. Seth returned and knocked Aiken over the top rope. Then he gave Corbin a Stomp. Seth dove through the ropes twice, taking out each AOP member. Then Dean hit Corbin with Dirty Deeds. Reigns tagged himself in and gave Corbin a spear for the win. Dean, meanwhile, dove through the ropes and took out Rezar.
WINNERS: The Shield.
-They showed Braun, Drew, and Dolph observing as Seth and Reigns celebrated in the ring. Then they stood and looked threateningly at the ring. Dean was catching his breath at ringside. There was a moment of tension as The Shield music stopped and Dean looked at his Shield brothers and then at Braun & Drew & Dolph. Dean milked the moment and then jumped into the ring to stand by Seth and Roman. They did the Shield fist gesture to show unity as the show ended. Graves said that should eliminate any doubt that they’re in it together going into the Super Show-down.