WWE RAW PRIMER 10/29: Evolution Fallout, Ambrose, Jax, DX-Brothers of Destruction, Universal Championship picture, Elias

By Frank Peteani, PWTorch Specialist

Dean Ambrose (photo credit Brandon LeClair © PWTorch)

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OCTOBER 29, 2018

Thoughts on Roman Reigns

I discussed Roman Reigns in the Smackdown primer last week, one day after he revealed on Raw that he had a re-occurrence of leukemia and was stepping away from WWE.

Much has been made about his push over the last four years and rightfully so.  For the most part he was a rejected babyface, yet WWE continued to push him in the same manner, much to the dismay of a large part of the fan base.  Last week, we saw more of Leati Joseph Anoa’I, the man whom portrays Roman Reigns.  He relinquished his Universal Championship, told us he was stepping away from WWE, but would be back once he defeats leukemia.  He did so acknowledge the fact that fans both cheered and jeered him, yet he expressed his appreciation for everyone in the building.  Fans ended up being behind the man by the end of his speech and chanted “Thank You Roman” quite loudly.

For me, the takeaway was the fans really do appreciate the wrestlers whether they are cheered or jeered.  It also goes to show once the guard is let down and the wrestlers are more themselves, the fans connect with them in a meaningful way.  I believe everyone in the building last week genuinely felt remorse for Joe Anoa’i, wished him well, and want to see him come back.  From me, I wish him all the best and may he have all the support he needs from family and close friends. 

Arena / Crown Jewel Update / Recap of Last Week & Evolution / Items Advertised by WWE

WWE Raw returns to the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, N.C. after a two-year absence, although Smackdown was in the building in November of last year.  We put Evolution behind us and turn towards Crown Jewel which takes place this Friday in Saudi Arabia.

Crown Jewel continues to be a hot topic of conversation.  In their earnings call last week, WWE announced they were proceeding with the event.  I am paraphrasing when I say they acknowledged it as a tough decision and a sensitive subject.  When questioned on the matter, they did not want to get into it and said (again I paraphrase) “everything was encapsulated in our opening statement.”  Forgive me for saying so, but I believe they took a coward’s position.

PWTorch founder and editor Wade Keller has been on top of this situation with daily updates and Impact Wrestling specialist Mike McMahon provided a lot of updates on Twitter last week.  I’ll repeat what I’ve been saying in my primers.  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.  Follow the news, gather your information, and make an INFORMED decision as to whether or not you want to watch this show.

Last week, following Roman Reign’s revelation, Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins captured the Raw Tag Team Championship from Dolph Ziggler & Drew McIntyre.  Following the victory, Ambrose attacked Rollins and left the arena.  Raw Commissioner Stephanie McMahon and interim G.M. Baron Corbin collaborated to announce that Braun Strowman and Brock Lesnar will square off at Crown Jewel for the vacant Universal Championship.  Bobby Lashley, with Lio Rush in his corner, was defeated by Finn Balor.  Elias defeated Apollo Crews (the guy tired of sitting on the bench), but then attacked Baron Corbin with his guitar after Corbin interrupted Elias’ performance.  Triple H and Shawn Michaels continued to hype their upcoming at Crown Jewel against the Undertaker & Kane.  Paul Heyman expressed his sympathy for Roman Reigns (you could see the tears in his eyes) but switched to hyping the match at Crown Jewel between Strowman and his client Lesnar.  In the run-up to Evolution, Ruby Riott defeated Sasha Banks.  Ember Moon won a fatal four-way match against Tamina, Nia Jax, and Dana Brooke.  Ronda Rousey and Nikki Bella signed the contract for their Raw Women’s Championship match.

Last night, at Evolution, Rousey retained the title over Nikki despite interference from Nikki’s sister Brie.  Nia Jax won the battle royal for an upcoming championship opportunity.  Bayley, Sasha Banks, and Natalya defeated the Riott Squad.  Trish Stratus & Lita defeated Alicia Fox & Mickie James who had an injured Alexa Bliss in their corner.  Tomorrow I will cover the Smackdown portion of Evolution.

Here are the items of emphasis for tonight’s show according to WWE.com:

  • Dean Ambrose finally snaps
  • Jax prepares to get Rowdy
  • DX and Brothers of Destruction head towards cataclysmic battle (seriously)
  • Who will be our next Universal Champion
  • Elias’ latest smash hit

As of this writing, no matches are announced in advance.


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Dean Ambrose Finally Snaps

Following Roman Reigns’s emotional announcement, his Shield brothers Dean Ambrose & Intercontinental Champion Seth Rollins challenged Dolph Ziggler & Drew McIntyre for the Raw Tag Team Championship.  They had previously held the title last year for nearly three months.  With that said, these gentlemen have been working frequently in recent months with Braun Strowman and Reigns in the mix.  It has been teased that Ambrose is having issues with the Shield, but all seemed to be well after last week when they defeated Strowman & Ziggler & McIntyre.  In a hard-fought 20-minute match, Rollins and Ambrose captured the championship for the second time in the past year.

Following the match, Ambrose “finally snapped” as WWE pointed out.  He gave Rollins his signature “Dirty Deeds” and continued attacking him for the next several minutes.  He left the mostly silenced arena with Rollins laid out.  Tonight, we will certainly get follow up on this situation and see how the championship is handled. 

Frank’s Analysis:  I would not have done the Ambrose turn on the heels of Reigns’ announcement, but I’m certainly not outraged or offended.  The show must go on, and I’m certain they discussed this with all parties involved.  You certainly maximized the attempt to get heat on Ambrose, as most people would have expected them to win the championship and walk out together as a tribute to their Shield brother.  With that said, it’s good to see Ambrose finally begin a run as a heel.  As has been discussed on several of Wade Keller’s podcasts, they could tell the story that Reigns was the reason Ambrose forgave Rollins last year.  Now that Reigns is out of the picture, he has no use for him.  Let’s see if they go in that direction and if not, how they explain the turn. 

Jax Prepares to get Rowdy

Nia Jax won the battle royal last night to earn an opportunity at a future women’s championship match.  With Ronda Rousey retaining the Raw Women’s Championship, they will square off at some point.

When Nia Jax was champion earlier in the year, she offered Ronda Rousey a championship match on NBC Upfronts at June’s Money in the Bank.  The match ended when Alexa Bliss interfered and cashed in her Money in the Bank contract on Nia Jax to win the championship.  Rousey has since won the title and we can expect the groundwork to be laid for the Jax-Rousey rematch.

Frank’s Analysis:  This is fairly straight-forward.  I actually had Asuka winning the battle royal as a way of rehabilitating her, but Jax winning is fine.  On the men’s side we rarely see the “big man” win these types of matches so it’s good that it happened on the women’s side.  It’ll be interesting to see the build as in their previous feud Jax was framed in a confusing way, meaning she was shown as a heel one week and a babyface the next.  Here once again you have two babyfaces working together, which is always challenging.  It’ll be especially challenging here since both women are loved by the crowd.

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DX and the Brothers of Destruction Head Towards Cataclysmic Battle

D-Generation X (Triple H and Shawn Michaels) will take on the Brothers of Destruction (Kane & The Undertaker) at Crown Jewel this coming Friday in Saudi Arabia.

Recently we’ve seen many promos from both teams on both Raw and Smackdown.  Last week, Triple H and Shawn came out and discussed the match by:

  • Poking fun at Kane being mayor of Knoxville
  • Shawn discussing “merch” (merchandise for you keeping score at home)
  • Triple H saying old may mean better, X as part of DX means they’re better, and he pointed out the other “X” they run.  That would be NXT folks.

Tonight, we put the final touches on the build for this match.

Frank’s Analysis:  Triple H and Shawn saying they’re better than everyone is not helping the current product.  A lot of us feel NXT is better, but Triple H doesn’t need to point it out.  An “X” on the DX shirt doesn’t mean they’re better.  Making fun of Kane being mayor does nothing.  Talking about “merch” is just silly.  Seeing a feud involving men that would have feuded in the late 1990s-early 2000s is doing nothing.  I realize I am being dismissive here, but this feud is just a dud.  I haven’t even touched on how sad it is that Shawn Michaels is wasting his comeback match on a useless tag team match in Saudi Arabia.  Most of us know how we feel about WWE going over there.

Who Will Be the Next Universal Champion

As I said earlier, with Roman Reigns’ emotional announcement, the Universal Championship is now vacant.  At Crown Jewel, Braun Strowman and Brock Lesnar will square off for the championship.  The match was originally a triple threat of course with Reigns defending the title on the heels of what happened at Hell in a Cell.

Showing his true feelings, Paul Heyman cut a promo last week praising Reigns but immediately went into character saying Strowman doesn’t deserve the championship.  Strowman rebutted saying he will win and be a fighting champion similar to what Reigns said in the runup to Reigns challenging Lesnar at SummerSlam.  When he said Lesnar would “get these hands,” he was attacked by Drew McIntyre.

Frank’s Analysis:  This is just me speculating, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Drew is added to this match at Crown Jewel.  WWE wants to be careful how they book Lesnar and defeating him too much marginalizes him.  If McIntyre is added, and they want to put the title on Strowman, McIntyre suffers less by taking a pin.  It’s vice versa if you want to put the title on McIntyre, which would certainly be out of nowhere but welcome in my book.  Another way to look at things is if the match is kept one-on-one, don’t be surprised to see the title go back on Lesnar.  This is just my opinion, but I’m not sure Vince knows what to do with Lesnar if he’s not the champion or at least involved in the picture.  You can have him win the title and drop it prior to WrestleMania if not at ‘Mania if you still want to put the title on Strowman or dare I say Seth Rollins.  The issue with this is that WWE poisoned the well by framing Brock as a guy who didn’t care about being in WWE when he was champion prior to SummerSlam.  Do they go back “there” and have Lesnar appear more to get rid of that stain?  This of course is all dependent on Lesnar’s UFC schedule.  It was rumored he would fight Daniel Cormier, but nothing is confirmed yet.    Who knows.  With all of this said, I like that things are not a slam dunk.  One thing I will say, Strowman’s character doesn’t necessarily need a championship but it does feel like the time to give him a run albeit a short one.   

Elias’s Latest Smash Hit

Elias was about to perform when Apollo Crew interrupted him.  Two weeks ago, Crews got in Elias’ face and said he was tired of sitting on the bench and watching people pass him by including him.  He attacked him, which set up a match last week.  Elias would defeat Crews with his signature “Drift Away.”

Later on, Elias attempted to perform but was interrupted by interim G.M. Baron Corbin.  Corbin said he had no time for Elias’ performance and ordered him off the stage.  Elias refused and later had his guitar and mic cut off.  He then left the stage making Corbin think he got the better of him, only to return and smash him with a guitar from behind.

WWE will certainly follow up on this and it wouldn’t be surprising if they plan a Corbin vs. Elias match.  Don’t all get excited at once.

Frank’s Analysis:  I’ve been advocating for an Elias babyface turn, but a longer build would have worked better as has been proven historically.  Turning wrestlers on a dime doesn’t truly stick out.  Case in point, look at the Ambrose turn.  It had been teased for weeks and when it was finally done, the crowd was shocked and genuinely booed Ambrose and thus it was more effective.  Nonetheless, WWE certainly shuffled the deck last week turning Elias and apparently Braun Strowman babyface while shifting Dean Ambrose to the heel side.  Everyone seems to be properly placed, but it doesn’t cover up the fact that WWE could stand to do heel and babyface turns a little better and with more gravitas.

RELATED: 10/28 WWE Evolution On-Site Report: How did the crowd react to the Bellas differently at ring entrance compared to ring intros, legends who got biggest pops, crowd interest variance, crowd size

Notes from Evolution 

A good friend and former co-worker of mine attended Evolution last night, which was 20 minutes down the road from me at NYCB Live at Nassau Coliseum.  He pointed out to me essentially the house show setup with the unpadded barriers as we saw.  The crowd was into the show and especially the women from the past.  The biggest pops were for Naomi, Ember Moon, Nia Jax, Trish Stratus, and Lita.  They were split between Ronda Rousey and Nikki Bella, which was pointed out on the Post PPV Roundtable with Wade Keller & Bruce Mitchell & Travis Bryant.  By the way, go VIP to hear this podcast as well as everything else that comes with being a PW Torch VIP member.  When Crown Jewel was put up on the board, the crowd booed loudly.  Personally, I think they had some nerve talking about this event at Evolution.  Maybe it was me but when Michael Cole, Renee Young, and Beth Phoenix had to talk about it I saw a look of annoyance on Beth’s face.  If the emotion was true, I don’t blame her.  Nonetheless from my friend the match of the night was Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte, which I’ll talk about tomorrow in Smackdown’s primer.  His next choice was the NXT title match.

John Cena

It has been rumored by various media outlets that John Cena will not participate in Crown Jewel, despite still being advertised.  He is to take place in the World Cup tournament.  If in fact this is official, look for some sort of tournament tonight or a match to determine who will take his place.  They could also just anoint someone, as rumor is out there that Bobby Lashley will take his place.  The other wrestlers of note whom are not on the card from the Raw side are Elias, Bobby Roode, Drew McIntyre, and Dean Ambrose.  Ambrose and McIntyre have previously lost qualifying matches.

Start Time & Matches Advertised 

The arena’s website is advertising a start time of 7:30 p.m. but do not specify when doors are opening.

There are no matches advertised, but the website is certainly not updated.  They show Roman Reigns as Universal Champion, Baron Corbin as “Constable,” and Braun Strowman as “Monster in the Bank.”

Follow me on Twitter @FrankPeteani and ask any questions you may have.  Thank you for reading!

RELATED: 10/28 WWE Evolution On-Site Report: How did the crowd react to the Bellas differently at ring entrance compared to ring intros, legends who got biggest pops, crowd interest variance, crowd size

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