WWE MONDAY NIGHT RAW PRIMER
OCTOBER 15, 2018
PHILADELPHIA, PA. AT THE WELLS FARGO CENTER
AIRS ON USA NETWORK, 8:00 P.M. EDT
BY FRANK PETEANI, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Arena / Crown Jewel Update / Recap of Last Week
WWE Raw returns to the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA. after WWE’s Royal Rumble weekend appearance earlier this year in January. This same arena has featured two of the last five Rumbles. Tonight, we continue to get ready for Evolution coming up Oct. 28 and Crown Jewel coming Nov. 2.
Crown Jewel, scheduled to take place in Saudi Arabia, has been a hot topic of conversation over the past week as it relates to a recent event in the Saudi Arabian consulate in Turkey involving journalist Jamal Khashoggi. As has been reported here by PWTorch editor & founder Wade Keller, WWE has removed the location of the event and the link to purchase tickets on their website. WWE has been under pressure from senators in the U.S. government to modify or “pause” their relationship with Saudi Arabia. The Daily Beast suggested they could move Crown Jewel to Manchester, England two days later on Sunday Nov. 4 and streamline the event with Raw set to take place the following evening. We’ll continue to monitor the situation. If you’re not a VIP member, I highly recommend becoming one especially for Wade’s coverage this past week on his hotline. It’s also been discussed on VIP shows such as the Bruce Mitchell Audio Show, Todd Martin’s the Fix, and briefly on the Post-PPV Roundtable following Super Showdown.
Watching an event in Saudi Arabia brings a wide array of emotions and thoughts. It did so earlier in the year with the Greatest Royal Rumble. Many have said they will not watch Crown Jewel, and some have gone so far as to say they will cancel their WWE subscription if they continue to stay in business with the Saudis. I won’t get into politics here. That’s not my job. As a PWTorch contributor I feel it is my duty to advise you the reader that if the event goes on as scheduled, stay informed. Follow the news, gather your information, and make an INFORMED decision as to whether or not you want to watch this show.
WWE mentioned Saudi Arabia as the location of Crown Jewel very little last week on both Raw and Smackdown except for Paul Heyman in his promo. It will be interesting to see tonight and tomorrow if they do the same especially if the event is not moved or cancelled.
Last week, Shawn Michaels announced he was coming out of retirement to team with longtime friend Triple H and reformed D-Generation X to take on the Undertaker & Kane (Brothers of Destruction) at Crown Jewel. With the help of his manager Lio Rush, Bobby Lashley had an apparent heel turn in his match with Kevin Owens. Following a successful six-woman tag team match victory, the Bella Twins betrayed their partner Ronda Rousey. We began to set the stage for the WWE World Cup tournament at Crown Jewel as Kurt Angle, dressed as a Conquistador, qualified by winning a battle royal. John Cena is already in the tournament. In a Super Showdown rematch, Braun Strowman & Dolph Ziggler & Drew McIntyre defeated the Shield. Dean Ambrose walked out on his Shield brothers Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns following the match.
As of this morning, WWE.com is advertising two World Cup qualifying matches for tonight, as well as follow up on other issues coming out of last week’s show.
Will the Brothers of Destruction Undertaker & Kane, Respond to D-Generation X?
WWE is alluding to an appearance or at least a response by the Undertaker & Kane to D-Generation X in advance of their upcoming tag team match at the Crown Jewel event. Last week, in the opening segment, Shawn Michaels announced he was coming out of retirement while standing alongside his longtime friend Triple H. He reiterated his staying out of retirement for the past eight and a half out of respect for the Undertaker but realized that the respect wasn’t a two-way street. After the long flight from Australia after Super Showdown, Triple H claimed he asked Shawn “are you ready?” Triple H & Shawn then revealed their reformation of D-Generation X and their challenge of the Brothers of Destruction at Crown Jewel.
— WWE (@WWE) October 9, 2018
Stay tuned throughout the day to find out if WWE announced an actual appearance tonight by Undertaker, Kane, or both of them. They didn’t answer the challenge last week, but WWE did announce the match for Crown Jewel.
Frank’s Analysis: This is a watered-down way of bringing Shawn Michaels out of retirement. Over a period of three days it took an Undertaker & Kane betrayal at a glorified house show, a 20-hour flight from Australia, and Triple H asking if “he was ready” like they were in DX for him to come back? Michaels said he was going to be the guy that never came back, which I somewhat believed but it’s not the point. After being retired for such a long time there could have been a better build making the return feel more special. Aside from that, this entire story feels manufactured as it’s not believable that these four men have such a conflict with each other at this stage of their careers. We all know the respect they have for one another. Legends like this should be working with the younger stars to build them up. They should not be having a tag match that would have main-evented a show in 2003 or 1998 for that matter. In any event, if all goes as currently planned in Saudi Arabia, look for this to lead to another single’s match between Undertaker and Shawn Michaels at some point down the road perhaps at WrestleMania.
Ronda Rousey’s Response to the Bella Twins
Last week in a Super Showdown rematch, Raw Women’s Champion Ronda Rousey teamed with the Bella Twins, Nikki & Brie, to defeat the Riott Squad consisting of Ruby Riott & Liv Morgan, and Sarah Logan. Following the match, the Bellas and Ronda were celebrating in the ring when Nikki attacked Ronda from behind. Nikki and Brie continued to assault Ronda while Ronda fought back unsuccessfully.
The Bellas and Ronda have been exchanging words on Twitter:
— Nikki & Brie (@BellaTwins) October 12, 2018
So @BellaTwins says I’m an “undeserving bitch”…. not to my face of course, that’s not her style…. #DivaVsReality I really can’t wait to give that Do Nothing Bella the reality check… https://t.co/SJ7iDqoWHr
— Ronda Rousey (@RondaRousey) October 12, 2018
Following the attack, WWE announced that Ronda will defend her Raw Women’s Championship at Evolution against Nikki Bella. Tonight, WWE has announced that Ronda will respond to the Bellas following last week’s post-match attack.
Frank’s Analysis: It had been rumored that Ronda would defend against Nikki Bella, and our suspicions were confirmed. I see this Bella Twin turn as a positive, as they always worked better as heels. While they have a likability, they also have an unlikability to them which works well with the audience especially in this feud with Ronda. I get the sense Ronda will hold her championship for a while, and thus she needs opponents that can take a loss without hurting their careers. Nikki fits this perfectly. Let’s not rule out Brie getting a championship match as well. If the rumored Charlotte Flair vs. Ronda Rousey match for WrestleMania is to come to fruition, they’ll want to build up Ronda strong. I’m very interested to see Ronda’s promo tonight. I’m certain the Bellas will be around to respond. It’s not crazy to expect an impromptu tag team match as Ronda could team with her good friend Natalya, who possibly could put in her two cents regarding this whole situation.
The “New Aggressive” Bobby Lashley
Bobby Lashley defeated Kevin Owens last week. During the match, Lashley’s manager Lio Rush was cheering him on ringside on the microphone, like A.W. before him, trying to get the crowd to do the same. The people were not buying as he was booed consistently. Following the match, Lashley attacked Owens legs, wrapping them around the ring post.
WWE announced on their website that as a result of the match, Owens sustained injuries to both knees. He was then replaced in the Mixed Match Challenge with Bobby Roode, as he will now team with Owens’s partner Natalya.
While WWE alludes to the match being the reason for Owens’s injury, it’s been speculated here at PWTorch and other wrestling media outlets that the injuries were there already. The match was to write him off TV. Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter has alluded to Owens missing as much as four to eight months. Stay tuned for updates regarding Owens’s condition as nothing is confirmed.
WWE has advertised follow up on the “all-new, all-aggressive” Lashley. He has been vocal on Twitter in regard to his actions on Raw last week:
There are always consequences 😒 https://t.co/pOTeji4gnS
— Bobby Lashley (@fightbobby) October 9, 2018
— Bobby Lashley (@fightbobby) October 9, 2018
Frank’s Analysis: The tweet making fun of Owens joining the “injury club” with Sami Zayn cements the heel turn at least for me. I couldn’t help but feel my stomach turn as Lio Rush was cheering on Lashley over the microphone. I hated it when A.W. (Abraham Washington for those who don’t remember) did it years ago and this time was no better. It’s been discussed whether or not this was a “double turn.” You can make the case that Owens was the babyface as Lashley was attacking him following his victory. Owens was cheered when he got any offense during the match. Rush cheering on the microphone is a heel tactic that’s borderline go-away heat. Nonetheless, by getting Lashley to the heel side we can safely say WWE’s method worked as he was floundering as a smiling babyface following his return earlier this year. Let’s just hope Rush gives our ears a rest tonight if in fact Lashley is involved in a match.
This is just me throwing something out there, but I wonder if Elias does one of his segments which draws out Lashley as they have worked together recently. With Kevin Owens out of action and Lashley now a heel, it opens up a babyface spot and Elias could slide in perfectly. His actions have screamed babyface for quite some time, as has been discussed by PWTorch contributor and VIP podcaster Zack Heydorn. By the way go VIP to catch Zack’s show “On the Canvas.” His recent show is about the Lashley-Owens “double turn” and there’s a quick bit about Elias.
World Cup Qualifying Matches: Seth vs. Drew, Dean vs. Ziggler
The Raw Tag Team Champions Dolph Ziggler & Drew McIntyre will be in single’s matches tonight in an attempt to qualify for the World Cup tournament slated for Crown Jewel. McIntyre will take on Intercontinental Champion Seth Rollins. Ziggler will take on Dean Ambrose, whom Ziggler once challenged for the WWE Championship when they were on Smackdown back in 2016 at SummerSlam.
As I said earlier, John Cena & Kurt Angle are already in the tournament. Kurt Angle competed in G.M. Baron Corbin’s “Global Battle Royal” but was dressed as a Conquistador (like Edge & Christian before him). From Smackdown, Jeff Hardy and Randy Orton have qualified.
Last week, Rollins and Ambrose teamed up with their Shield partner Universal Champion Roman Reigns to take on Ziggler, McIntyre, and Braun Strowman. This was a rematch from Super Showdown. This time, Strowman & Ziggler & McIntyre came out victorious. Following the match Dean Ambrose walked out on his Shield brothers to close out the show.
Following the “walkout”, there was an exclusive WWE.com video involving Ambrose:
Frank’s Analysis: There’s a lot to think about in regard to the Shield and the Strowman/Ziggler/McIntyre alliance. WWE continues to go out of their way to emphasize issues with Ambrose, which makes a turn less special if it happens soon. As I said previously, something like this historically has worked better when it comes out of nowhere. They could be showing conflict but then have it resolved, present the Shield strong for a while, and then have a turn when everyone thinks things are “hunky-dory” if you will. Conflict is also about between Ziggler, Strowman, and McIntyre based on their backstage segment last week. McIntyre continues to be more vocal in the group, and thus it will be interesting to see how they move forward and if in fact the foundation is being laid for a feud with Strowman. With Strowman recently going heel, I would imagine McIntyre becomes the babyface or Strowman could flip again.
Other Items from Raw Last Week
- During a promo between Alexa Bliss and her Evolution opponent Trish Stratus, Alexa and Mickie James challenged Trish to make the match a tag match. Luckily by a miracle (or divine intervention…your mileage may vary), Lita happened to be at Raw. Trish and her “bestie” Lita now take on Alexa and Mickie in a tag match at Evolution. Alexa has been dealing with an injury, and thus it’s possible because of that matches were combined as Mickie was set to take on Lita.
- Bobby Roode and Chad Gable defeated the Ascension. Following the match, the Authors of Pain attacked both teams.
- Bayley and her Mixed Match Challenge partner Finn Balor defeated Alicia Fox and her partner Jinder Mahal. Balor and Bayley continue to be painful comedic figures.
- Ember Moon defeated Nia Jax via countout. Following the match Jax endorsed Moon. It’s hard to say where this is going, if anywhere. It’s not crazy to think they have a match at Evolution or perhaps team up and we’ve seen more women wrestle in tag team matches (Bayley & Sasha Banks before Sasha’s injury, Liv Morgan & Sarah Logan, Mandy Rose & Sonya Deville, The IIconics, Asuka & Naomi, and the returning Bella Twins for that matter).
Start Time & Matches Advertised
The arena’s website is advertising a start time of 7:30 p.m. local time with doors opening at 6:00 p.m.
The website is certainly not in alignment with WWE storylines. An eight-man tag team match is advertised featuring Roman Reigns & Braun Strowman & Seth Rollins & Bobby Lashley vs. Dolph Ziggler & “Constable” Baron Corbin & Kevin Owens & Drew McIntyre. Strowman and Lashley have turned heel (at least apparently in Lashley’s case). Owens is out with an injury. Corbin is now interim G.M.
They also show G.M. Kurt Angle who is back but we’re not certain about his G.M. status. Ronda Rousey is advertised as well as “Raw Women’s Champion” Alexa Bliss. This is an obvious error as Ronda is now Raw Women’s Champion.
Arena websites continue to be inaccurate and advertise what is obviously not taking place.
Follow me on Twitter @FrankPeteani and ask any questions you may have. Thank you for reading!