WADE KELLER PODCAST - EARLY PREVIEW OF ROYAL RUMBLE 2020 MEN'S MATCH, PLUS 2019 AND 2010 LOOK-BACK ROUNDTABLES
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KELLER’S WWE RAW REPORT
MAY 13, 2019
LONDON, ENGLAND AT O2 ARENA
AIRED ON TAPE DELAY ON USA NETWORK
Announcers: Michael Cole, Renee Young, Corey Graves
Tonight after WWE Raw, join me live with guest cohost Jason from Australia to break down the show with live callers, mailbag, and on-site correspondent notes from London.
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-Cole welcomed fans to London as the camera showed the audience.
-The Miz’s ring entrance took place. They recapped Miz-Shane McMahon interactions. Miz then held court in the ring and spoke about facing Shane in a cage match on Sunday. Then he shifted to talking about his guest, “one of four Wildcards who can come to Raw from Smackdown.” He said that his story has inspired millions around the globe. He introduced Reigns. Boos were pretty loud before Reigns’s music kicked in. They continued and were joined by a surge of cheers as he walked onto the stage.
Graves said Reigns was making liberal use of the Wildcard Rule by utilizing it two weeks in a row. Reigns absorbed the crowd reaction stoically and then walked methodically to the ring. He stopped at ringside and looked around some more. Then he stepped onto the ring apron and paused and looked around again at the crowd. Graves noticed the “in no hurry” ring entrance by Reigns and said, “It’s a good thing we have a three hour broadcast here tonight.”
Reigns sat down “on set” for his interview with Miz. Miz asked, “What can we expect from The Big Dog” Sunday at MITB against Elias. Some boos. Reigns said Elias is a ton of things – young, strong, charismatic, very talented. Fans began singing. Reigns paused to listen. Then he said if you want a karaoke performer or a wedding singer, you can have Elias. He said Elias hasn’t done anything in WWE, though. He said he hasn’t won any championships. “On Sunday, I’m bringing the big fight,” he said (whatever that is).
Miz said they’ve never really seen eye-to-eye, but they’re both former champions and now they’re both in movies, noting he’s an A-list movie star and Reigns is going to be in “Fast and Furious.” Reigns looked incredulous. Miz suggested they do a buddy comedy, “Miz & The Big Dog.” Reigns asked what he is doing there. He said they had a good thing going, but this is starting to sound like old Miz who he’d smack in the mouth. He said he came to talk to the new Miz, the guy who stands up to The Authority and chases Shane around the arena with a chair. He asked where he is. “Did you forget about him?” he asked. Reigns asked if they can remind Miz. Suddenly the big screen showed footage of Shane attacking Reigns as he was covering Drew McIntyre for a possible victory last week, followed by the Miz run-in.
Reigns said that’s the Miz they all want to talk to. Miz asked the fans. They cheered. Miz said he’s never been on the same page with Reigns or “the WWE Universe.” He said now he’s earning respect from his peers and the fans. He said he has started to earn that respect, whereas Shane is “a daddy’s boy who has been handed everything with a silver spoon in his mouth.” Miz said he’s not the toughest, biggest, or strongest, but he knows how to win. He said Shane has attacked his father and run from him at every turn, but his power and privilege won’t matter on Sunday because he’ll be stuck in a steel cage with him. “There will be nowhere to run, nowhere to hide!” he said. He said Shane will regret putting his hands on his family because “you’ll go down harder than your old man did to a Superman Punch.” Reigns smiled.
(Keller’s Analysis: Reigns should take note of Miz’s intensity and passion there. That’s a fired up babyface promo.)
Shane stepped onto the stage to his music. He said it’s quite flattering they’re out there talking about him. He said they need to remember that he’s their boss. He said as of right now Miz TV is over. Elias and Bobby Lashley attacked them from behind. Shane smiled. Cole suspected it was a set-up all along. Lashley and Elias joined Shane on the stage. Shane then booked a tag match. He said the match is “next” and called for a referee. (Refreshing to not hear him say it’s “now” only to cut to a four minute break.) [c]
(1) BOBBY LASHLEY & ELIAS vs. MIZ & ROMAN REIGNS
Back from the break, the match promptly began. A couple minutes in, Reigns smiled when he tagged in against Elias. Elias bailed out to ringside. Lashley then tagged in. Miz eventually tagged in and chest kicked Elias and Lashley, who were both on their knees in the ring. Elias snapped Miz’s neck over the top rope while the ref wasn’t looking. Lashley then scored a near fall on Miz. They cut to a break. [c]
The heels isolated Miz after the break for several minutes. Miz avoided a shoulder-charge by Lashley into the corner. When Reigns reached to tag Miz, Shane yanked him off the ring apron and threw him into the ringpost. The ref, who works for Shane, disqualified the heel duo for Shane’s interference. The three heels then triple-teamed Miz. Reigns recovered and did a running leap over the top rope onto the crowd at ringside. Shane, being Super Shane-o-Mac, recovered quickly from the move and went after Reigns while Lashley and Elias – actual wrestlers – kept selling on the mat. (This is getting Eric Embry/USWA-level bad with Shane, but it’s always been pretty bad with him dating back to holding his own against Kurt Angle in Angle’s prime and beating up three top heels at once ten years ago this week.) Lashley and Elias joined in on beating down Elias. Miz entered with a chair to help Reigns fight back and clear the ring. Reigns’s music played as Miz and Reigns stood in the ring and the heels retreated.
-Cole hyped Braun Strowman vs. Drew McIntyre coming up later. Graves hyped the double-contract signing later with Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair, and Lacey Evans. They showed Seth Rollins chatting with someone backstage. [c]
-They went to the announcers on camera who talked about Raw being in London as postcard shots aired of London. Graves said it’s like a giant party anytime they visit London. Renee said she had fish and chips. Cole threw to a lengthy video package on the Seth Rollins vs. A.J. Styles WWE Title match at MITB narrated by Darth Vader (0r so it sounded).
-The announcers commented on highlights of Braun Strowman dumping Sami Zayn into a dumpster last week.
-Charly Caruso approached Braun Strowman and said critics says he could have seriously hurt Sami, so does he regret his actions. Braun said his only regret is that the trash compactor didn’t turn Sami into a cube. He said that was last week, and this week is about the Money in the Bank ladder match. He said he will become Mr. Monster in the Bank for this second year in a row. A producer on a headset told Braun that Shane would like to see him in his office. [c]
-Sami told Shane McMahon that the toxic nature of WWE fans are making WWE Superstars act recklessly. (He called them “WWE fans” twice!) He said Strowman could have ended his career last week, but he only acts that way because fans will only cheer him if he acts like a monster. Braun walked in and asked why he’s been called into the principal’s office. Sami said he’s lucky to be standing there after what Braun did to him last week, so Shane is going to replace Braun in the match with him. Shane said he can’t just give Sami that spot, I mean “opportunity.” Sami said he’d wrestle him for it. He said he wants a Falls Count Anywhere match. Shane said Braun was supposed to wrestle Drew. Sami told Shane he can find something else for Drew to do. Shane booked it. Braun said, “I’m going to eat you alive.” Sami looked frozen in fear. Shane congratulated him for getting his match. Renee said it’s time to write the obituary.
(2) MOJO RAWLEY vs. APOLLO CREWS
Cole said Mojo claims he has changed. Renee said he’s been at the bottom and is crawling his way back to the top. Graves said he’s an incredible athlete. Renee said that and a bad attitude could be all he needs. Cole said Crews is taking advantage of the Wildcard Rule to challenge Mojo. Graves said both of them are a couple of wins away from skyrocketing his career. Crews grabbed his knee in pain after a backflip early in the match. Mojo speared his leg and yelled at him, then finished him seconds later. Graves said Mojo has always been a great athlete and he’s also one of the smartest members of the WWE roster, and now he’s frustrated and he’s figuring out how to channel it.
WINNER: Mojo in 2:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Poor Apollo Crews. He could have been so much more than this. Mojo’s seventh – give or take – attempt at telling the fans to ignore his entire history because he’s actually better than all that feels like it has no momentum at this point. His pausing and yelling during his matches now is unpleasant in a counterproductive turn-the-channel way.)
-Cole hyped a Fatal Four-way match with women in the MITB ladder match on Sunday – Natalya, Naomi, Alexa Bliss, and Dana Brooke.
-Backstage Bliss was chewing out someone for losing her luggage. “I’m an American celebrity, which means my luggage is your priority,” she said. In walked Nikki Cross. Bliss said nothing is okay. She said she doesn’t get how Nikki grew up in the area because it’s been a week from hell. Bliss thanked her for asking and said it’s nice to have someone to talk to. Nikki said she’s been there for four weeks and no one even noticed. Bliss said things have been so crazy and she feels bad she hasn’t gotten to know her. Cross told Bliss she can talk to her. Bliss took the invitation and started rambling about her problems including concern fans would laugh at her without her proper gear. Nikki told Bliss she could go talk to the McMahons about finding a replacement for her in the match. Bliss asked Nikki if she’d really take her place in the match. Nikki looked as if that wasn’t what she quite meant.
-They showed Becky Lynch heading to the entrance tunnel.
-A Smackdown commercial hyped Kevin Owens hosting The KO Show with Kofi Kingston as his guest, plus “a battle for pivotal momentum” in a big Fatal Four-way match with Ali, Randy Orton, Finn Balor, and Andrade. [c]
-Michael Cole stood mid-ring and introduced Lacey Evans, who sauntered out to the ring. Then Cole introduced Charlotte. They sat next to each other on one side of the contract table. Becky came out next with her belts. Graves said it’s like waving a big steak in front of two hungry lions.
Cole asked Becky if she realizes how grueling it will be defending both titles in one night on Sunday. Fans chanted “Becky Two Belts!” She smiled and said it’s great to be back in London. She said she knows she’ll take a beating, but she doesn’t care. Becky pretended she couldn’t tell them apart and referenced them as twin sisters. Charlotte said Becky has everything she could ever want, but she still has to take digs. She said it’s the same big mouth that got her trouble in the first place. Charlotte said she just can’t win in this situation. Lacey said she’s glad she’s not the only one who knows how to dress for the occasion. “This is a contract signing, sweetheart, not a fighting a barn,” she said. Becky said she’s apparently never been at one of these before. Lacey mockingly laughed.
Becky said there’s a little voice in the back of Charlotte’s head about not delivering lately despite being groomed to be the top woman. “Pressure, pressure,” she said. Becky said one of her opponents is under pressure not to lose for the first time on PPV and the other is under pressure not to lose her millionth. Becky signed the contracts. Fans chanted “Becky Two Belts!” again. Charlotte brought up Becky calling herself “Becky Two Belts” and building a reputation she just can’t live up to. She said it will all come crashing down, “and frankly, ha ha ha ha ha, I find it hilarious.” Charlotte said when Becky bows down to the Queen, she’ll only have her stubborn pride to blame.
Lacey said the WWE Universe deserves a proper lady to set a proper example as champion. She said Becky is a classless example of a champion, and she’s leading fans astray by her classless, confusing behavior. She said she’s going to “clean up the nasty.” She added: “You can continue to pretend to swing around something you don’t have, but the fact is there is no way you will take out two real ladies” at Money in the Bank. Becky dared Lacey to take a free shot at her. Lacey signed the contract and then kissed her finger and christened her signature with it. Charlotte goaded Lacey to show Becky the Woman’s Right. Lacey said she doesn’t want to get her dress dirty. Lacey tipped the table aside and went after Becky. Becky threw her aside and then took it to Charlotte. Fans chanted for Becky. Lacey then hit Becky from behind. Becky put Lacey in a Disarmher. Charlotte then gave Becky a big boot. That silenced an excited crowd. Charlotte threw Becky into the corner. Lacey put her red hat back on as Charlotte positioned the contract table mid-ring. Charlotte powerbombed Lacey through the table with a little help from Lacey. The heels then held up Becky’s belts. Cole said on Sunday they’ll find out if Becky bit off more than she can chew.
(Keller’s Analysis: Everyone was really good here. Lacey really stands out as carrying herself like she belongs under the spotlight with the other two established top tier players. Becky’s self-assured confidence and bravado continues to work for her.)
-Cole hyped the Fatal Four-way and confirmed Nikki had taken Bliss’s place in the match. Graves said he’s worried Sami lost his mind by challenging Braun tonight. Cole said there will be a new Firefly Fun House later. [c]
(3) RICOCHET vs. BARON CORBIN
Baron Corbin was in the ring and his music faded after the break. He insisted Mike Rome run down his resume. Ricochet made his ring entrance next. A soundbite aired with Ricochet saying winning MITB can change a career, but unlike a lottery ticket, he’s not just waiting to see if he won, he’s taking things into his own hands. A minute into the match Ricochet landed on Corbin at ringside with a moonsault off the ring apron. Back in the ring, Corbin clotheslined him and Ricochet took a flip bump. They cut to a break. [c]
Ricochet scored some near falls after the break. Graves said Corbin has lost sleep over not cashing in his MITB briefcase the first time. Corbin came back with a Deep Six for a two count. Renee talked about “momentum” being at stake. Ricochet eventually landed a top rope huracanrana and then a standing shooting star press for a near fall. Corbin then gave Ricochet an End of Days for the clean win seconds later.
WINNER: Corbin in 9:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Corbin’s push continues, and the misuse of Ricochet continues. They are quickly defining down Ricochet as something short of being a potential special top tier player.)
-They replayed Samoa Joe yelling at Dominic last week.
-Backstage Caruso asked Rey for comment. Joe said he crossed a line by targeting his son after he lost a match. He wondered if he was that saddistic. He told Joe to say it to his face. Cesaro walked in and asked if he’s really going to talk about Samoa Joe when he’s not around. “And when did Raw become Take Your Son to Work Day, anyway?” Rey said his son has been training a long time. Cesaro said Dominic looks a lot more like Samoa Joe than Rey because Rey’s five-foot-nothing and Dominic is 6-2. Rey attacked Cesaro. Referees and producers quickly pryed them apart. Graves said some of those comments were out of line. Rey yelled that you don’t mess with family.
-They showed Styles backstage. Graves said they’d hear from him next. [c]
-They showed the announcers on camera. Cole threw to a four-minute video package on Reigns, the same one that aired last week. Cole called Reigns a “survivor, a beacon of hope.” He hyped Reigns vs. Elias at MITB.
-An unnamed blond woman (Sarah Schrieber) interviewed Styles backstage. She said Styles has gotten the better of Seth the last two weeks, but people are questioning his methods. Styles said everyone is questioning everything he does. He said his forearm was meant for Corbin, not Seth. He said this is Seth’s show, or at least it was until he showed up. He said he came to WWE with a huge chip on his shoulder, and that chip hasn’t gone anywhere. He said he’s walking in as the challenger on Sunday, but he’s walking out the new Universal Champion. They showed Schrieber who looked really impressed as she nodded and smiled.
-Naomi made her ring entrance. [c]
(4) NAOMI vs. DANA BROOKE vs. NATALYA vs. NIKKI CROSS
Naomi’s ring entrance continued after the break as an inset soundbite aired with her. She said there is no athlete like her in the match, period, so the competition better get ready to be outshined by the glow. Dana came out next. In her soundbite, she said winning the MITB match will be a validation of all her hard work. She said she’s bringing all she’s got. She said she doesn’t just want to win, she deserves to win. Graves rightfully took issue with Dana claiming she “deserves” to win. Agreed, that was odd. Natalya came out next and said she’s has the experience of being in all four prior women’s MITB matches. Finally, Nikki Cross came out. Cole was skeptical of Bliss’s claim her luggage was lost. A soundbite aired with Bliss who said on Sunday, history will repeat itself and she will once again win the MITB ladder match. Alexa Bliss made her ring entrance. She joined the announcers on commentary. Naomi flipped onto all three opponents at ringside. As she celebrated, they cut to a break. [c]
Bliss discounted the importance of the royal baby being born because babies just spit up and burp “like Cole.” Graves laughed. Cross rallied in the ring and scored a two count on Naomi. Bliss said she has been told her weakness is her heart of gold, but she’s happy to see Nikki get this opportunity. Naomi landed on Natalya with a split-legged moonsault.
Dana pulled a ladder out from under the ring. She propped it up at ringside, but Natalya then knocked her down with a forearm. Nikki speared Natalya and pounded away at her. Naomi joined in the brawl as Brooke climbed the ladder. She pointed at the briefcase above the ring, then leaped off of it onto the three other women below. Cross finished Natalya with a neckbreaker off the middle rope. Bliss entered the ring and climbed the ladder mid-ring and took the briefcase down and held it in the air as her music played.
WINNER: Cross in 9:00.
-Backstage Sami said fans on social media are assuming he is going to lose because they project their own familiarity with losing and failure on him. Sami said he has a great chance to win because he fights for a cause whereas Strowman is merely a manifestation of the fans’ toxic fantasies and fetishes of being big and strong so that they can dream of being able to plow through everything and get whatever they want. He said that’s not how life works, though. He said what’s better than being big and strong is being right and fighting for what’s right.
(Keller’s Analysis: Sami’s promo delivery is just top notch right now.)
-Rey Mysterio’s ring entrance took place. [c]
-A soundbite aired with Samoa Joe who held up his U.S. Title. He said Rey talks a big game when he’s not around. He said he didn’t cross any line by talking harshly to his son. He said Rey crossed a line as soon as he brought Dominic to WWE. He said someone has to teach Dominic how to be a man. Joe said he hopes he sees Dominic on Sunday as he beats his father.
(Keller’s Analysis: Great delivery and really strong content.)
(5) REY MYSTERIO vs. CESARO
Rey slid under the bottom rope and went for a sunset flip, but Cesaro blocked it and swung Rey by his legs into the ringside barricade twice. Renee said Cesaro is looking to make an impact on Raw. Cole said if Cesaro beats Rey, and Rey wins the U.S. Title, that would help Cesaro make his case for a title shot. Cesaro gave Rey a delayed one-armed superplex off the second rope for a near fall. They cut to a break at 3:30. [c]
Cesaro controlled most of the action after the break. He set up a Neutralizer, but Rey escaped and whipped Cesaro into position for a 619. He hit the 619 and then leaped off the top rope with a splash for the win.
WINNER: Mysterio in 10:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: As you’d imagine with these two, a good match with really cool spots. Cesaro showed he could have been so much more than he is now if he were protected and positioned as a top star.)
-They went to the announcers on camera who hyped Sami vs. Braun. Then they shifted to a recap of the Usos-Revival feud. Renee looked down like she was ashamed to be part of this.
-In the locker room, The Revival talked about the Usos. Dawson: “What kind of weirdo voyeur films a man getting his anatomy shaved.” Dash said there’s nothing odd about that. He said it’s normal and part of life. He said he was there for a friend in need. Dash brought up Usey Hot. Dawson said, “The balls… in your court.” He said the embarrassment of The Revival ends right now because they’re willing to prove they’re the best tag team on the planet.
-Seth was telling an unnamed blond woman that he broke the Internet today (referring to news released by WWE that he and Becky Lynch are dating). [c]
-Firefly Funhouse: After the usual opening jingle, Bray Wyatt was standing next to Mercy the Buzzard. He said he has a secret this week. The witch complained about being woken up. Bray said he wants to show the world what he’s been doing, but he can’t do it alone and he’ll need the help of all his fireflies. He said it warms his soul everyone wants to help. Bray said there’s still a lot of darkness inside him, but now he’s figured out how to harness and control it. His eyes looked scary as he asked if they want to see his secret. The puppets looked petrified. Then various images flashed of dolls. Then he revealed a new look – a super-scary demon clown.
(Keller’s Analysis: That was pretty cool.)
-They went back to the announcers who looked spooked. Cole then plugged the MITB PPV event. They threw to a highlight package of the women’s contract signing.
-Cole threw to Sarah Schreiber – he named her by name (!) – and said she had a very special guest. She interviewed Seth and told him that Styles said his forearm last week was unintentional. Seth said Styles showed his true colors, and Sunday they are fighting for respect. Seth said they had one other singles match 13 years ago in a small town in a tiny building. It was on an NWA No Limits event. They showed some cool vintage clips. He said it was the first time his friends and family knew his dream was real. He said he looked up to Styles, and this Sunday will be a statement match. He said he will prove to himself, the fans, and Styles that this is his industry and it’s his show and that he is the backbone of Raw. He said 13 years ago he looked up to Styles, but when the dust settles on Sunday, it’ll be Styles looking up to him.
-Braun began his ring entrance. [c]
(6) SAMI ZAYN vs. BRAUN STROWMAN
Sami made his full ring entrance. When the bell rang, Sami ran away from Braun, but then got knocked down in the ring with a clothesline to the chest. Braun splashed him in the corner. Graves said Sami has recently converted to veganism, “so maybe he’s not getting the nutrients he needs to think properly.” (How fucking stupid is that comment? When you switch to eating a plant-based whole foods diet for your caloric intake instead of reliance on dairy and meat, the ratio of your nutrients to calories skyrockets. Of course there are unhealthy vegan diets (reliant on process fried food and white starchy or sugary products) and heathy diets that include dairy and animal flesh (as long as a lot of vegetables and fruits are included and meat and dairy is minimal and unprocessed), but typically nutrient density is the main benefit of switching to plant-based food.)
Braun and Sami fought up the steps among fans. Sami threw a drink in Braun’s eyes and then ran to the concourse. Braun followed him there where fans had already been backed away and surrounded the area they were fighting. Braun tossed him around including into support beams. Baron Corbin attacked Braun in the concourse. They cut to a break. [c]
Back live Sami was in control, beating up Braun on the floor around fans. He used a chair, but Braun grabbed it and whipped Sami aside. He threw Sami around some more. Sami tried to escape in the backstage area. Braun threw him into a garage door. Drew McIntyre then showed up and beat up Braun. Drew DDT’d Braun onto a chair. Sami covered Braun and scored a two count. Drew yelled at the ref, “Are you bloody kidding me!?” The ref asked what he’s even doing there. Drew threw a chair at him. Cole pointed out that in this match anything and everything is legal. Braun dropped an ice cooler filled with soda cans onto Drew. He threw around more furniture. Braun spotted Sami and chased after him. He threw Sami back onto the stage. There was a small pop for the action returning to a place fans could watch live. Braun jabbed Sami with a ladder and bashed him across his back with a ladder. Then he stacked several ladders on him. Corbin then attacked Braun. Drew joined in again. Corbin held Braun as Drew jabbed him with a ladder. Drew leaned a ladder against a security barricade on the stage. Drew and Corbin suplexed him onto the ladder, which broke. Cole called it a golden opportunity for Sami. Drew then gave Braun a Claymore Kick. Corbin dragged Sami onto Braun. Then Corbin and Drew pushed on Sami’s back and the ref counted to three. Cole said it doesn’t matter if you like it or not, Sami just beat Corbin and he’s headed to the MITB match.
WINNER: Sami in 15:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: The way that played out was pretty predictable because why else would Sami be brave enough to challenge Braun to that kind of match. Sami will make the MITB match better. That was a good brawl all over the place type of match.)
-Sami celebrated and left. When his music stopped, Braun stood and was cheered by the fans. Suddenly Sami was thrown out onto the stage by Corbin. Braun grabbed Sami and chokeslammed him through the announce table. Cole said Sami will be the first MITB competitor to be carried to the ring on a stretcher.