WWE MONDAY NIGHT RAW PRIMER
APRIL 22, 2019
DES MOINES, IA. AT THE WELLS FARGO ARENA
AIRS ON USA NETWORK, 8:00PM EST
BY FRANK PETEANI (@FrankPeteani), PWTORCH SPECIALIST
Announcers: Michael Cole, Corey Graves, Renee Young
Arena and Items Advertised by WWE
The Superstar Shakeup is complete, and we know can settle down into business as usual (no, we’re not on the road to next year’s WrestleMania ok. Stop with that, please.). WrestleMania and all the festivities are behind us and we can focus on the “new year” of WWE. It is a new year of sorts, but I can’t call it the road to next year’s WrestleMania because stuff that happens within the next few months will have nothing to do with next year’s show, let’s be honest. Nevertheless, Raw returns to the Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, IA. for the first time since before last year’s WrestleMania. The arena opened for business in 2005 and has hosted many WWE events including the now-defunct reincarnation of ECW, which became NXT. Not to digress, but it’s funny how the concept of today’s NXT was very similar to what WWE’s version of ECW (2006-2010) became as most new-hire talent went to that brand and “developed” before moving onto Raw or Smackdown.
Here’s what’s advertised for tonight’s show:
Matches & Segments:
- None at the moment
- Shaken and stirred (will the show have a James Bond theme? They said it, not me.)
- Will a new superstar emerge as Seth Rollins’ next challenger?
- What creepy force is infiltrating WWE?
- Lacey Evans calls for The Man
- Does the Miz have unfinished business with Shane McMahon?
The Shakeup Settles
The shakeup is complete, and we get ready to roll on into new business on both Raw and Smackdown. In case you missed it, here are the new tenants of Raw:
- A.J. Styles
- The Miz
- Aleister Black
- NXT Tag Team Champions War Raiders (Hanson & Rowe) who suddenly became The Viking Experience (Ivar & Erik). I think Vince took Erick from Erick Rowan so he could use it here.
- Zelina Vega
- Rey Mysterio
- The Usos (Jimmy & Joey)
- Lacey Evans
- Eric Young (whom we didn’t see on TV but rather was just introduced in a graphic)
- Cedric Alexander
Last week we saw A.J. Styles be the mystery partner of Universal Champion Seth Rollins & Roman Reigns (now of Smackdown) take on the “Three That Bore Me” in Baron Corbin & Bobby Lashley & Drew McIntyre. Andrade, with Zelina Vega in his corner, defeated Intercontinental Champion Finn Balor (now of Smackdown) in a non-title match. EC3 was decimated in a no-contest by Braun Strowman. The Miz attacked Shane McMahon who joined his sister Stephanie at the onset of the show to set the stage for the Superstar Shakeup, sort of. Rey Mysterio interrupted Elias (now of Smackdown) who was subsequently attacked by Lars Sullivan (now of Smackdown). Anybody’s head hurt yet? The Usos defeated Bobby Roode & Chad Gable. Gable was split off and moved to Smackdown in a move announced on WWE.com. Lacey Evans defeated Natalya in a #1 contender’s match for the Raw Women’s Championship held by Becky Lynch. The Viking Experience paired with The Revival and defeated Raw Tag Team Champions Curt Hawkins & Zack Ryder and Ricochet & Aleister Black (whom the announcers weren’t sure were on Raw at the moment. Was it the Superstar Shakeup or not?!?!). Naomi teamed with Bayley (now of Smackdown) and defeated WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions The IIconics in a non-title match.
Multiple reports have U.S. Champion Samoa Joe moving to Raw after Balor took the IC Title to Smackdown. He would have been on Raw last week, but was sick, also according to multiple reports.
Tonight, we’ll start to see new feuds unfold and start the “new year” in WWE.
Frank’s Analysis: Much of the moves were what I expected. The wrestler that benefitted the most would be Seth Rollins as you get him and Reigns apart for the first time in their entire main roster run. Reigns would have overshadowed Rollins’ title run had he stayed on Raw. I was a bit surprised to see the Revival stay on Raw but a feud with the Usos could be in the offing, if that’s even good for the Revival. I had hoped Ricochet and Black would split up, but it seems they’ll be in a tag team for the time being. Bobby Lashley could have perhaps benefitted from a move, but then again nobody wanted to see more matches with Finn Balor. Do I need to talk about the Viking Experience? I hope watching the Vikings hasn’t been ruined for Wade Keller and Jason Powell. It could have been worse; they could have been renamed the Giant Experience which would have ruined my viewing of my beloved N.Y. Giants. Cedric Alexander could be the dark horse in this shakeup, but I also thought they’d do something with Apollo Crews. I would be interested to see if A.J. remains a babyface as he could be in line at some point as an opponent for Rollins for the Universal title. They could also revisit he and Samoa Joe which I suppose has some legs left. I’d leave Joe on Smackdown though as that roster got oddly purged, which is strange in advance of the FOX move. I’ll give my thoughts on that show in tomorrow’s primer.
Can anyone explain what they did with the Raw women’s division? Your faces are Sasha Banks (who knows where she is), Naomi, Natalya, and Dana Brooke. Your heels are Ronda Rousey (on an “impregnation vacation”), Alexa Bliss, Lacey Evans, Ruby Riott, Sarah Logan, Tamina, Zelina Vega, Alicia Fox (barely there), Brie & Nikki Bella (both retired), and Nia Jax (injured). Liv Morgan is off to Smackdown which virtually breaks up the Riott Squad (not that they were doing much collectively). I suppose Zelina Vega could get more of a wrestling role and you can turn either Ruby or Alexa, both of which could use a babyface turn. Nikki Cross wasn’t even assigned a show, but word is according to her Instagram account that she’ll be on Raw.
Universal Champion Seth Rollins’ Next Challenger
This was advertised last week as a storyline for follow-up, but likely pushed to the side with the Superstar Shakeup.
Universal Champion Seth Rollins now “stands alone” as Dean Ambrose is leaving WWE and Roman Reigns is now a resident of Smackdown. For the first time since their call-up in 2012, Rollins has nobody from the Shield on the same show. There was a brief time from the onset of the roster split in July 2016-April 2017 where the Shield was not together as Ambrose was a member of Smackdown while Rollins and Reigns resided on Raw. Rollins had recently returned from knee surgery at the time while Reigns was coming off his third WWE World Heavyweight Championship run, a wellness policy violation, and getting involved in the U.S. Championship picture.
Money in the Bank is around the corner and thus we can expect a new challenger to emerge for the Universal Championship.
Frank’s Analysis: I would suspect it would be someone over whom Rollins can get a solid victory or two. Assuming he is expected to hold the championship until SummerSlam and perhaps beyond, Baron Corbin or Bobby Lashley come to mind. It was interesting to see Lashley take all the finishers from Reigns, Rollins, and A.J. last week if there’s even anything into which we can read. Drew McIntyre is possible too, although I’m hesitant to get behind him, as much as I want to, since his push seems to start & stop & start & stop. Andrade isn’t a crazy choice, although I see him more as a Money in the Bank winner candidate at the moment. It’s anyone’s guess at the moment, especially here immediately following WrestleMania.
For the past several weeks we have gotten a creepy promo showing something popping out of a box and laughing in a sinister way. In case you haven’t seen it, don’t worry I’ve included a clip for your viewing pleasure:
And there’s the scary doll promo:
There’s a lot of talk that this could be portending the return Bray Wyatt, whom we haven’t seen since he and “Woken” Matt Hardy dropped the Raw Tag Team Championship to the B-Team (Curtis Axel and Bray’s brother Bo Dallas).
Frank’s Analysis: I’m sorry but this ain’t cuttin’ the mustard. I was in the building for Smackdown in Brooklyn following WrestleMania and this video got no reaction. If it is Bray Wyatt, you can’t get all that excited. They did everything through the years to make him scary and creepy and all he did was lose feuds, so what makes you believe he’s any sort of threat despite the creepy videos. Does Kizarny ring a bell? How about Mordecai? How did those creepy vignettes work out for those guys? Tell me about all of their success, I’ll be right over here.
The Lady and the Man
Last week, Lacey Evans told us how she “curried favor” to get a number one contender’s match against Natalya in an effort to challenge Becky Lynch for the Raw Women’s Championship. By the way, at least she made it clear she was on Raw. What was going on with the announcers knowing about some people being on the show but not others, such as Ricochet and Aleister Black?
Nonetheless, Lacey would go on to defeat Natalya and is now the #1 contender. She had interrupted Natalya who had been talking to Becky in the ring, congratulating her but reminding her she was the “best there is, best there was, and best there ever will be” much to the chagrin of the Montreal crowd.
I’ll just let some Becky tweets take it from here:
Tall, blonde, does a moonsault, tells me to bow, is from the Carolinas. Might be time to ask Momma Evans if Ric was Naitching around there before you were born, you plank. https://t.co/LPsrECdTdr
— The Man (@BeckyLynchWWE) April 17, 2019
Lacey is impressive for sure. Threw one knockout punch, managed to put the whole building to sleep.
— The Man (@BeckyLynchWWE) April 16, 2019
Lacey and Natalya had a few exchanges:
We’re not done yet. Alexa Bliss and Becky got into it, which also sucked in Ember Moon now of Smackdown:
Really bex … I’m sure me having career threatening injury is really funny for you … you know how they say don’t bite the hands that feeds you? .. maybe don’t bite the hand that made you relevant. When all I had to do was debut @BeckyLynchWWE https://t.co/cn9kp1rsxX
— Lexi Kaufman (@AlexaBliss_WWE) April 18, 2019
It's one thing to make idle threats as the glorified internet troll you are, but you mocking a near career ending injury is proving you are a bully. You are just scum that needs to be taken down a notch. I'll happily oblige.
— Ember Moon (@WWEEmberMoon) April 18, 2019
Frank’s Analysis: Who needs promos and analysis when you can just read Twitter? I don’t have much to add here other than Lacey getting the #1 contender’s spot is mostly fine, but if it’s me I’d hold off for a while and let her get some wins. Unfortunately, that’s not how WWE does business. When Vince has a new “toy” it’s boom, right in the title picture. She certainly came a way and could benefit from working with Becky, but it’s not a slam dunk. On the other hand, there’s potential there with her look and she’s got a nice little swagger to her.
Unfinished Business for Miz and Shane McMahon
Stephanie McMahon opened Raw and introduced her brother Shane. The two embraced (how cute). They discussed the Superstar Shakeup by saying anybody can end up on Raw and Smackdown and we were on the road to next year’s WrestleMania. The Miz came out to the announcers acknowledging he was now on Raw to attack Shane, and the two went at it. It looks like their feud from Smackdown will continue as it stands at 1-0 in favor of Shane after their match at WrestleMania.
Frank’s Analysis: So, is Stephanie back to being a heel authority figure since she embraced her recently turned-heel brother? These people just do whatever they want and don’t care how their characters are viewed on screen. Also, wouldn’t they have had the rosters decided on the day of the Superstar Shakeup? What’s with the anybody could show up tonight or tomorrow bit? As far as Miz and Shane goes let’s get Miz his win back and move on. Their feud is mostly fine, but we don’t need Shane in the ring anymore, bottom line.
Other Possible Items for Tonight
With Chad Gable’s move to Smackdown, look to see what’s next for Bobby Roode. He’s long overdue for a heel run. It may or may not be too late, but it’s better than not trying. His heel run in NXT was something on which WWE should have capitalized.
Sami Zayn cut another crowd-hating promo in his hometown of Montreal on A Moment of Bliss. I tweeted while watching that these types of characters don’t have a long shelf-life, and I still feel that way. I think Sami has more to offer, but I’m not sure WWE feels the same way. Alexa acted babyface-like as Sami was going off and thus you wonder if a turn is in the offing. The babyface side of the ledger on Raw does not look strong for the women.
EC3 was crushed by Braun Strowman in a no-contest. Look for an actual match and his continued odd burial.
Sasha Banks is technically still on Raw, although she obviously hasn’t been on the show since WrestleMania. Bayley is now on Smackdown. There has been a lot of discussion regarding Sasha’s unhappiness with the company. She and Bayley were told at the last minute, apparently, that they were dropping the women’s tag championships at WrestleMania and splitting up. This was contrary to what they believed, which was they were going to have a lengthy run with the championships. I wasn’t as sympathetic initially but given how Sasha has been booked through the years, I can understand her frustration. Her overall booking is the issue.
Start Time & Matches Advertised on the Arena Website
The Wells Fargo Arena’s website advertises a start time of 6:30 p.m. They advertise a six-man tag match featuring Seth Rollins & Braun Strowman & A.J. Styles vs. Baron Corbin & Bobby Lashley & Drew McIntyre. They show Miz, Alexa Bliss, The Usos, Rey Mysterio, and “many more” appearing. At least they have the rosters correct.
Follow Frank on Twitter @FrankPeteani. Questions and discussion are welcome. Thank you for reading!