HEYDORN’S WWE RAW REPORT 10/22: Alt Perspective coverage of the live show including the Reigns cancer announcement, final Evolution hype, Rousey/Bella contract signing, and more

BY ZACK HEYDORN, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR


HEYDORN’S WWE RAW REPORT
OCTOBER 22, 2018
PROVIDENCE, RI
AIRED LIVE ON USA NETWORK

Announcers: Michael Cole, Corey Graves, Renee Young

[HOUR ONE]

-The show opened with Roman Reigns’s music blaring through the arena. Reigns walked to the ring in street clothes as the audience engaged in their typical 50/50 reaction toward the WWE Universal Champion. As Roman did his entrance, he looked a bit more emotional than usual and the announcers discussed the upcoming Universal Championship match at Crown Jewel. In the ring and as the audience continued to give Reigns the split reaction, he paused like he typically does to soak it in. From there, Reigns addressed the crowd and said that he owed everyone an apology. The reason he gave was that he spoke as Roman Reigns about being a fighting champion, showing up each week on Raw to work, but that all that was lies. He went on to say that it was all lies because his real name was Joe and that he’d been living with leukemia for 11 years. Reigns went on to say that the leukemia was back and that he’d have to leave pro wrestling and vacate the Universal Championship because of it. As Reigns said these words the 50/50 response from the audience flipped to one of concern.

Heydorn’s Analysis: Holy smokes. Just an incredibly unfortunate piece of information to hear about Reigns. I just feel awful for the man and hope he can fight the disease once again with his head held high. Just some shockingly sad stuff.

Reigns continued by detailing his history with the disease and then thanked the WWE universe for allowing him to live his dream. As this happened the audience started a chant for Roman and he addressed it by saying that his speech wasn’t a retirement speech. Reigns said that after he whoops leukemia’s ass again he’d be coming back home to not only win back his title, but to show the world, his family, friends, and peers that when life throws him a curve ball, he stands in and swings for the fences every single time. The audience chanted for him once again and Reigns finished up by saying we’d all be seeing him very soon and that he’d be back. As the audience continued their chant, Reigns laid the Universal Championship down in the middle of the ring and walked up the ramp fist bumping fans along the way. At the top of the ramp, Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins walked out with tears in their eyes and embraced Reigns. They then did the Shield pose together as the show went to a commercial break. (c)

Heydorn’s Analysis: What a display of class from Reigns and that audience. Roman really let people in by talking the way he did and I think everyone in that arena and fans watching at home are now glad to be on his side for this fight. Again, just awful news to start the show with.

-Out of the break, highlights of Roman’s announcement aired and each member of the announce team addressed it with their own personal messages to Reigns. All three were shook up, but left Roman with words of comfort and encouragement.

Heydorn’s Analysis: More class. Michael Cole did a nice job of discussing the situation from a human point of view and then professionally tossed the broadcast back into the alternate universe that Raw lives in. 

-From there, the announce team highlighted other events on the show including a tag team championship match pitting Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose against Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre, as well as the contract signing between Ronda Rousey and Nikki Bella for their upcoming Raw Women’s Championship match at Evolution. After, Finn Balor’s music played for the night’s first match.

(1) FINN BALOR vs. BOBBY LASHLEY  w/ Lio Rush

Balor got a nice reaction from the audience and quickly went through his entrance before Lio Rush walked out to a chorus of boos. Young asked why Rush still didn’t have a shirt and as she did Rush spoke on the microphone to introduce Bobby Lashley. From there, Lashley hit the ring to boos and Rush attempted to pump those boos up by chanting “Lashley.” As Lashley walked to the ring, the announce team called Lashley a physical specimen. One Bobby got to the ring, the bell rang and the match began. Out of the gate, Lashley pummeled Balor with strikes and body slams as Rush continued the Lashley chant. After a body slam, Lashley flexed to a chorus of boos. Eventually, Balor turned the tide with a dropkick that sent Lashley out of the ring. As Balor worked to capitalize he hit the ropes for a flipping dive, but was distracted by Rush. Seeing this, Balor jumped out of the ring to attack Rush, but was stopped in his tracks with a Lashley clothesline as the show went to break. (c)

Heydorn’s Analysis: The Lashley chants by Rush are getting a little out of control. I was supportive of them the last two weeks as they were a means to an end to get Lashley full entrenched on the heel side of things on Raw. They need to evolve though. Rush is a good hype man, but needs to start generating heat for Lashley outside of the chants.

Out of the break, the action was taking place back in the ring. Lashley got his first near fall in the match after connecting with a devastating dropkick. Out of that pin, Balor got a quick thrust of momentum after hitting the Sling Blade. He attempted a pin as well, but Lashley kicked out at two. From there, Lashley continued on offense and beat Balor down until Balor rolled Lashley up for the quick 1,2,3 win.

WINNER: Balor via pinfall

Heydorn’s Analysis: Talk about a confusing booking choice. I’m all for Finn Balor getting wins, but this is awful timing for one. Bobby Lashley is an infant as far as being a heel performer goes. Losing this early on via a quick roll up or something else sets him back in terms of establishing credibility with fans as a heel. With a gimmick that is rooted in physical dominance, Lashley needs victories so that fans can buy the gimmick outright. Having Lashley lose this early negates the very essence of the gimmick and defines Lashley down in the process.  

-After the match, the announce team addressed the Roman Reigns situation again and said that Baron Corbin and Stephanie McMahon were working through scenarios involving the vacant Universal Championship. Cole said more information would be available as the show progressed on.

Heydorn’s Analysis: It will be interesting and unfortunate to see where they go from here. Easy choices would be Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose at this point. Braun Strowman needs to be figured into that equation as well especially given the fact that he has a championship match lined up at Crown Jewel. Brock Lesnar’s name will come up in this discussion, but as a part-timer that’s scheduled appearance to appearance, look for the belt to stay with a Monday Night Raw regular as it was with Roman Reigns.

-As soon as Cole finished talking about the title situation, Sasha Banks’s music hit and she walked to the ring with Natalya and Bayley. As they walked to the ring, a backstage promo aired in which all three women said they would defeat the Riott Squad at Evolution on Sunday. In addition, Banks said you could “Bank” on her winning her match tonight against Ruby Riott. The show then went to commercial break. (c)

(2) SASHA BANKS w/ Bayley & Natalya vs. RUBY RIOTT w/ Liv Morgan & Sarah Logan

Out of the break, Riott made her entrance and a backstage promo aired with the full Riott Squad. They addressed the Evolution match as well and said that they would turn the dreams of Banks, Bayley, and Nattie into nightmares. They then said that they would win and that when they win, they riot. From there, the bell rang and the match began. Both women tied up to start things off before Riott gained early momentum with a shoulder tackle. Banks fought back, but in the end, Riott kept control with various offensive strikes and holds. Eventually, Banks took over with an arm drag and followed that up with a knee to Riott’s face. This caused Riott to roll out of the ring and Banks followed to keep momentum. Banks then tossed Riott back into the ring and climbed to the top rope. Riott ended up knocking her off and causing her to fall to the outside mats as the show went to break. (c)

Heydorn’s Analysis: It feels like this match has happened 11,000 times. It just isn’t fresh and neither is the match on Sunday.

After the commercial break, Riott firmly held control of the match once again. She locked in a neck lock as the audience clapped for Banks to overcome. Each time Sasha tried to escape, Riott would deepen her hold as the audience clapped louder. In the end, after Bayley and Banks dealt with the interfering Riott Squad, Ruby slammed Sasha face first into the ring post. From there, Riott hit the Riott Kick for the 1,2,3 win.

WINNER: Riott via pinfall

Heydorn’s Analysis: Just an A to B match that got the standard Sasha Banks reaction from the crowd. The finish was an attempt to build toward the match between these six at Evolution. Had we not seen endings like this for the last few months, this one could have meant something. It’s watered down though because it happens so often. This needed more than a shenanigan finish to give the match on Sunday any sizzle. 

-After the match, the announce team plugged Crown Jewel and aired a recap video that highlighted last week’s message from the Undertaker and Kane. They then hyped an appearance from DX on tonight’s show as it went to commercial break. (c)

-Out of the break, DX’s music played to an enormous pop from the audience. As the crowd cheered, Triple H and Shawn Michaels walked out to huge response. Both were wearing the new DX shirts and tossed the neon green glow sticks to the crowd. As they walked to the ring, Michael Cole hyped their Crown Jewel match.

Heydorn’s Analysis: Still zero mentions of Saudi Arabia on tonight’s show including this reference to Crown Jewel. Interesting. Who knows if it means anything yet, but interesting nonetheless. 

Once both men got to the ring, Triple H said that there were many big words being tossed around lately including the word: fear.

[HOUR TWO]

Triple H then mocked the fact that Undertaker and Kane said he was afraid of taking off his suit for a fight by making fun of Kane being a mayor in Tennessee. Shawn Michaels chimed in and sarcastically said that neither one of them was running for mayor. Michaels then continued and talked about the word nostalgia. He said that word was a polite way of saying old and the audience booed. Triple H agreed, but then highlighted how “old” acts like DX could simply just be better. To this, the audience cheered loudly. From there, Triple H discussed the X in DX and said that that symbol meant that they were better than anyone else. Triple H then discussed another X that represented the future and Michaels chimed in by saying they were running that too. Obviously, they were talking about NXT and as soon as the audience got that they started an NXT chant in the arena. Triple H paused to soak in that chant, but then addressed Undertaker and Kane. He said that they when they bring the X to Crown Jewel, they wouldn’t bring it for nostalgia, they’d bring it to kick their ass. After, Shawn Michaels cued up the “Suck It” portion of their routine, but it was interuppted by strange sounds and the lights flickering. Then, the Undertaker gong it and video of a graveyard played on the big screen. Undertaker and Kane were in the graveyard and cut a promo back on DX. In it, they addressed DX and said they could not survive the Brothers Of Destruction. They said that their first match against them would be their last match against anybody.

Heydorn’s Analysis: On one hand, DX got a nice pop and that had to be fun to be a part of if you were in that audience. At the same time, their reunion reeks of desperation. It feels forced and that’s because it is. In the Undertaker/Triple H build for Super Showdown, WWE did a good job of establishing why they were fighting and what the meaning was behind it. This tag team fight between both sides needs that definition as well. They set the match up nicely with the attack from behind, but the follow-up on that specifically hasn’t been addressed. The “why” missing right now. Establishing it won’t take much, but it will give the match the direction and a foundation for success. 

-After the segment, a recap video aired regarding the Roman Reigns situation from the top of the show. The announce team then hyped tonight’s upcoming tag team title match as well the contract signing between Nikki Bella and Ronda Rousey. From there, Michael Cole cued up the highlights from last week’s Bella/Rousey encounter. After, Paul Heyman was shown walking backstage and into the arena as the show went to commercial break. (c)

-Out of the break, Paul Heyman was in the middle of the ring. He did is standard introduction, but with a quieter tone in his voice. He offered his thoughts and prayers to Roman Reigns as the audience loudly applauded. Heyman said he was humbled to be a part of the locker room and talked about how he would explain tonight’s show to his children. Heyman then addressed why Reigns sacrificed the Universal Championship and discussed what that championship means to the WWE and the world of wrestling. Heyman then announced that at Crown Jewel, Brock Lesnar would face Braun Strowman for the vacant Universal Championship and that Brock Lesnar was the man worthy of being the champion. Heyman then detailed what Brock Lesnar would be as champion and alluded to him bringing the belt to UFC. He told Strowman that he wasn’t in Lesnar’s league and that he could just not compare to Brock Lesnar.

Heydorn’s Analysis: Tremendous promo from Heyman as usual. He was able to respectfully walk the line of addressing Roman Reigns in the right way all while hyping the Crown Jewel match. Just brilliant stuff from a true pro. 

This prompted Braun Strowman to hit the ramp to a nice pop from the crowd. Strowman looked intensely at Heyman as the audience chanted “get these hands.” From there, Strowman told Heyman to tell Lesnar that he would “beat his ass” all over Crown Jewel. Strowman then said that when he beats him, he’ll bring the Universal Championship back to Monday Night Raw. Strowman then said that even though him and Reigns hadn’t seen eye to eye over the years, he would offer Reigns a title shot as soon as he makes it back. This prompted cheers from the crowd as the video captured Paul Heyman saying that he was just an advocate under his breath.

Heydorn’s Analysis: More great stuff from Heyman. Laughed out loud at that one.

From there, Strowman said that Brock Lesnar would “get these hands” and as he did his roar Drew McIntyre crushed him with the Claymore. Strowman sold the move a little bit but then got up and stared McIntyre down. The show then went to commercial break. (c)

Heydorn’s Analysis: Really effective segment. Heyman set Strowman vs. Lesnar up perfectly and Strowman did his usual routine to get back on the good side of fans. Audiences always wanted to cheer him so now that he is clearly a babyface it makes it an easier watch overall. Plus, McIntyre looked like a million bucks here as well. To get that type of offense in after that specific promo from Strowman means Drew is set for some big things very soon.

-After the segment, a commercial aired for Stratus/Lita vs. Bliss/James at WWE Evolution.

-Out of the break, Elias was in the middle of the ring and strummed his guitar for the fans. The audience clapped along as the music was upbeat and catchy. From there, Elias did his usual shtick as the crowd roared in approval. Elias then addressed the fact that Apollo Crews interuppted him last week. He said that he wrote a song about it but before he could play it, Crews interuppted him again.

(3) ELIAS vs. APOLLO CREWS

Crews got a small reaction and as he made his way to the ring, the announce team showed highlight clips of what happened between the two last week. When Crews got to the ring, the match began. To start, Crews owned everything and connected with a smooth dropkick. He then hit a moonsault as the show went to break. (c)

Heydorn’s Analysis: This feud is both totally out of the blue and refreshing all at the same time. Not sure it goes anywhere for either guy in the end, but as for show content on a week to week basis, I like this. 

Out of the break, the action continued until Elias hit Crews with a running knee. From there, he hit the Drift Away before making the cover for the 1,2,3 win.

WINNER: Elias via pinfall

Heydorn’s Analysis: Nothing special from a match quality standpoint, but the reaction to the finish was significant in that the crowd was behind Elias. They cheered the clean victory and that should speak volumes to WWE. Elias isn’t a heel and it’s time they stop writing him that way.

-After the match, Kurt Angle spoke about his career in a pre-taped promo. He said he had a chance in front of him that he never thought he had and that was the chance to win the World Cup and become the best in the world. Angle then addressed each competitor in the tournament as a video package aired along with each one. When he was done, he said he would win and that fact was “damn true.” (c)

Heydorn’s Analysis: Well that was … strange. Angle clearly was reading off cue cards and apparently didn’t care about sounding like a pre-programmed robot. The promo gave attention to the World Cup tournament, but that’s about it. In the end, this was scripted and forced – just like the tournament itself. 

-Out of the break, Elias was introduced once again. He said he felt so good after winning that he wanted to come out and sing again. From there, Baron Corbin interuppted and said he had to keep the show rolling. The audience booed as he said he didn’t have time for another performance by Elias. Elias responded by saying he wanted to play anyway. From there, Corbin interuppted again by saying what he had to say was more important than an Elias song. He told Elias to stop looking at him the way he was and he works for him. Corbin proceeded to say that he would fire Elias except that Stephanie likes him. In response, Elias told Corbin to shut his mouth and that he was going to sing his song anyway. This got a massive pop from the crowd.

Heydorn’s Analysis: Could it be? If it sounds like a duck it’s a duck right? 

From there, Elias proceeded to sing to Corbin and Corbin told production to cut off his microphone. Corbin then attempted to throw Elias off the stage. He succeeded, but after Corbin starting talking again, Elias walked out and clocked Corbin with a guitar shot to the back. This also got massive reaction from the crowd.

Heydorn’s Analysis: There it is, folks. The moment we’ve all been waiting for. Elias is babyface. Just a great segment from both men. Corbin played his role well and Elias tapped into the fans psyche and spoke for them as he dressed down Corbin as a babyface. Elias is going to be a natural in this role and it should mean some big money for WWE.

-Ronda Rousey was shown walking out of her locker room for the contract signing with Nikki Bellas as the show went to commercial break. (c)

[HOUR THREE]

-After the commercial break, a hype video aired for Ronda Rousey vs. Nikki Bella.

-Michael Cole plugged Evolution and then welcomed both Nikki Bella and Ronda Rousey to the ring. Nikki walked out first and got a decent reaction from the crowd, but not the full on heel one that you’d expect. Rousey was introduced next and got a big pop from the crowd. Rousey smiled as she waved to her fans and walked down the ramp. Graves and the announce team discussed whether or not Ronda was mentally ready for Nikki Bella at Evolution as Ronda walked down the ramp and slapped hands with fans. As Ronda rolled into the ring, Nikki and Brie rolled out of it. From there, Ronda asked them both where they were going. Nikki said that she was there to sign a contract and not to fight. She said she would never fight in Providence which prompted a massive amount of boos from the crowd. Rousey responded by saying that she wouldn’t beat them up tonight and that she was there to make sure they sign so she could beat them up on Sunday. Rousey said she promised she wouldn’t touch them. The Bellas discussed it and then got into the ring with Ronda. From there, the Bellas ran down Rousey and said that her mother was ashamed of her for not keeping all of her professional promises. Nikki then told Ronda to imagine what her Mom would think when a diva beats her for the title as she signed the contract on the dotted line. After she signed it, Nikki slapped Ronda across the face to a chorus of boos from the crowd. Rousey laughed it off and then signed the contract as well. Rousey then stared a hole through Nikki and told her she would end her on Sunday.

Heydorn’s Analysis: That worked really well. Instead of getting the upperhand physically, Nikki showed some credibility by attacking Rousey with words. Nikki delivered the lines well and played the chicken heel role well. On the flip side, Rousey showed some range in reacting to the comments about her mother, but then flipped the switch when saying she’d end Nikki on Sunday. That range is the Rousey character and she played it to a “T” here. Good stuff. 

-After the segment, another recap video aired of the Roman Reigns announcement from earlier in the show.

-Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins were interviewed backstage. They tried to put their emotions in words, but said that it was impossible to do so. Ambrose said that the only thing can do is what they’ve always done and that’s win. Rollins said they would channel their emotions and become the new Raw Tag Team Champions. He ended by saying they would win for Roman Reigns.

Heydorn’s Analysis: Great stuff. Thoughtful, impactful, and respectful of the situation. 

-Nia Jax hit the ring ahead of her fatal four-way match as the show went to commercial break. (c)

(4) NIA JAX vs. EMBER MOON vs. TAMINA vs. DANA BROOKE

Out of the break, the match was underway and Nia Jax was fully in control. She had a stare down with Tamina but it was stopped by Moon and Brooke. As the match went on, Michael Cole hyped the Battle Royal at Evolution. In the end, Ember Moon nailed Tamina with the Eclipse and pinned her for the 1,2,3 win.

Heydorn’s Analysis: Like last week, this happened? Strictly took place to build a story for the Battle Royal at Evolution. It did that, but given the stakes  involved in that Battle Royal, these women should be telling the world why they need to win so they can get their title opportunity. That build is non-existent at this point.

-After the match, Michael Cole ran down the matches at Evolution. From there, McIntyre and Ziggler were shown warming up backstage. (c)

-Out of the break, Titus O’Neil ran a Susan G. Komen segment from the top of the stage.

-Lita and Trish Stratus were interviewed backstage. They said that they have their sights set on Evolution. They complimented each other and said they would come out on top in their match at Evolution. From there, they were interuppted by Alicia Fox. She said that Alexa Bliss and Mickie James would win. As Lita and Trish were responding they were attacked from behind by James. From there, her and Fox destroyed Lita and Trish and demanded an interview after. As they spoke, they were attacked by Trish and Lita and were left laying. In the end, Trish said not to mess with the attitude era and that they’d “see them on Sunday.”

Heydorn’s Analysis: I like the physicality involved here as this feud desperately needed some heat. That said, the babyfaces getting the upperhand after it all is curious. What is the incentive to want to see this match if you already know that the babyfaces can dismiss the heels so easily? Yes, Bliss wasn’t there, but the principal remains the same. To me, having the babyfaces overcome at the PPV is the better story. 

-After the altercation between the women, the Shield’s music played in the arena for Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose ahead of their tag team match. As they walked out through the audience, the show went to commercial break. (c)

(5) SETH ROLLINS & DEAN AMBROSE vs. DREW MCINTYRE & DOLPH ZIGGLER – WWE Raw Tag Team Championship

Out of the break, Drew and Dolph made their entrance. On the way to the ring, Cole reminded the audience that McIntyre hit the Claymore Kick on Braun Strowman earlier in the show. Once they got to the ring, the bell rang, and the match began. Drew and Ambrose started things off. Rollins quickly tagged in so both men could double team the bigger McIntyre. They were successful and cleared the ring of both opponents as the show went to commercial break. (c)

Out of the break, Dean Ambrose made a hot tag to Seth Rollins. Rollins hit Sling Blade on Ziggler and then dove through the ropes for a suicide dive on McIntyre. From there, Rollins nailed Ziggler with a catapult on Ziggler which sent him over the top rope and to the outside of the ring. To follow, Rollins crushed Ziggler with a second suicide dive. Eventually, Ziggler got the momentum back by hitting a Fame-ass-er. After, Ziggler tagged McIntyre into the ring. McIntyre taunted Ambrose and torched Rollins away from his partner. From there, Ziggler and McIntyre successfully cut the ring in half and tagged in and out of the match to remain fresh. Right after McIntyre hit Rollins with a reverse Alabama Slam, the show went to its final break. (c)

Heydorn’s Analysis: Really good TV match thus far. It’s fast paced, crisp, and you can tell all four men are bringing it.

Out of the break, Rollins hit a top rope Frog Splash on McIntyre. Right after, he made the cover, but McIntyre kicked out at two as the audience chanted “this is awesome.”

[OVERRUN]

In the end, after a flurry of near falls, Braun Strowman walked out to a huge pop and “get these hands” chants. Strowman entered the ring and destroyed McIntyre as the ref was knocked unconscious. They brawled into the crowd which left Ziggler alone in the ring. He went to grab one of the tag belts to help in his effort to win, but it was snatched away by Dean Ambrose. From there, Rollins nailed Ziggler with the Stomp for the 1,2,3 win.

WINNER: Rollins and Ambrose via pinfall

-After the match and as Rollins and Ambrose celebrated together, Dean kicked Seth out of nowhere and nailed him with Dirty Deeds. As the audience booed, the attack was on. Ambrose talked to himself and to Rollins during it and eventually brought the attack to the outside. While there, Ambrose pulled up the padding to reveal concrete. Ambrose then hit Rollins with the Dirty Deeds on that concrete before ripping off his shirt and walking up the ramp. The audience booed loudly as Ambrose stood on the steps as the show went to commercial break. (c)

Heydorn’s Analysis: What a turn. Well done from an execution standpoint and increasingly more impactful given the other events that took place throughout the evening. We can and should debate the merits of using the emotion from the Reigns news to fuel an angle. It certainly played a part in getting Ambrose the heel reaction he got by the end of the show. This is a good role for Ambrose to adopt at this point. He was trending in this direction since his return and now he’s there. It’s fresh and that’s a good thing for this show.

FINAL THOUGHTS: This could not have been an easy show for anybody involved given the news concerning Roman Reigns. WWE handled it well. Lost in that emotion and all that came with it was the fact that Evolution is on Sunday. Nikki and Ronda are primed for a heck of a match, but is anyone else from Raw ready to go? Outside of that feud, it felt light on hype and intensity.


NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S REPORT: HEYDORN’S WWE RAW REPORT 10/15: Alt Perspective coverage of the live show including Rollins vs. McIntyre, Ambrose vs. Ziggler, and more

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