SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
WWE MONDAY NIGHT RAW PRIMER
PITTSBURGH, PA. AT THE PPG PAINTS ARENA
AUGUST 5, 2019
AIRS ON USA NETWORK, 8:00 p.m. EDT
BY FRANK PETEANI (@FrankPeteani), PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Announcers: Michael Cole, Corey Graves, Renee Young
In Memoriam: Harley Race
The professional wrestling industry shed more than its share of tears on August 1 when we learned of the passing of WWE Hall of Famer Harley Race. He was 76 years old.
Harley, born in Quitman, Missouri according to Wikipedia, held the NWA Championship eight times and feuded with a who’s who of WWE Hall of Famers. That distinct list includes “Superstar” Billy Graham, Bob Backlund, Terry Funk, Dusty Rhodes, and of course Ric Flair with whom he his mostly associated. He was the first person the win the U.S. Championship as a result of winning a tournament in 1975, defeating Johnny Weaver in the final match.
Harley is mostly associated with the St. Louis Wrestling Club, a promotion under the umbrella of the National Wrestling Alliance. It was owned by Sam Muchnick, and Harley was a minority owner. Ric Flair spent time in the promotion along with Lou Thesz, Dick the Bruiser, Gene Kiniski, and Ted DiBiase. The promotion ran from 1959 until 1985 when it was purchased by Jim Crockett Promotions and eventually was absorbed into what we came to know as World Championship Wrestling. The St. Louis Wrestling Club famously ran its shows at the Kiel Auditorium and the St. Louis Arena. When I think of Ric Flair, I immediately think of Harley Race.
He spent time in many promotions including Minnesota’s American Wrestling Alliance (AWA) where he wrestled as “Handsome” Harley Race alongside “Pretty Boy” Larry Hennig. He eventually worked with Larry’s son Curt, whom we WWE fans know as Mr. Perfect (another WWE Hall of Famer). Eventually, he found his way to the World Wrestling Federation and was managed by his longtime friend Bobby “The Brain” Heenan. He started out with the “Handsome” gimmick, but eventually became known as “King” Harley Race when he won the 1986 King of the Ring Tournament. This was before the PPV version started in 1993. Although there were tournaments in the years that followed, he maintained the “King” gimmick before suffering an injury in 1988. The gimmick was “passed” to Haku by Heenan.
My memories of Harley Race are of his time with WWF as I’m a little young for his prime days, but I certainly appreciate his legacy and what he meant to the industry. He was the definition of a champion and craftsman in the ring. He didn’t have any catchphrases or spew out comedic lines. He just went out there and worked, and defined the term “tough guy.” If I’m going into an alley fight, I’d take Harley by my side any day of the week. Go VIP to hear a special Bruce Mitchell Audio Show this past week where he and Wade Keller discuss the career of this legendary man. Here are some tweets from people acknowledging his passing:
The wrestling world has lost another legend and I have lost a dear friend and mentor. RIP Harley Race. You are loved and will be very much missed. https://t.co/KDJzcQY2sI
— Ted DiBiase (@MDMTedDiBiase) August 1, 2019
Thank You To The WWE And All The Media That Has Helped The World Realize Just How Much Harley Race Meant To Professional Wrestling. pic.twitter.com/FEIPzcx23f
— Ric Flair® (@RicFlairNatrBoy) August 3, 2019
This is one of the last photos that I took with Harley Race. The wrestling matches I had w/him in the St. Louis territory, put an entirely new spotlight on me and helped to elevate my career even further at that time. Thank you so much, Harley, for everything that you did for me. pic.twitter.com/rKzVoYIBOm
— Ted DiBiase (@MDMTedDiBiase) August 1, 2019
#RIP Harley Race. This is why we should not throw the term Legend around freely. It needs to be saved for people like Harley who truly are.
— Lance Storm (@LanceStorm) August 1, 2019
— David Lagana (@Lagana) August 2, 2019
Lance Storm said it right. We shouldn’t just throw the word legend around. It should be reserved for those who truly are, and in my opinion they should put Harley’s picture next to the word in the dictionary. Wrestling is a better place because of him. Rest In Peace sir, and thank you for your contributions and your place in an industry I’ve loved for almost 35 years.
Arena and Items Advertised by WWE
Tonight, WWE returns to the PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, PA. The arena is home to the frequent NHL Stanley Cup contender & winner Pittsburgh Penguins. It opened in August of 2010 and started hosting WWE events just six months later. Raw last appeared in March of this year in the run-up to WrestleMania. On that night, Batista infamous told Triple H “give me what I want!”
Here is what WWE.com is showing for tonight thus far:
Matches & Segments:
- None at the moment.
- How injured is Seth Rollins heading into this SummerSlam battle with Brock Lesnar?
- Was someone responsible for the Roman Reigns forklift incident?
- Will Becky Lynch and Natalya’s rivalry continue to escalate?
- Will the O.C keep their celebration going into SummerSlam?
- What’s next for WWE’s first pregnant champion?
Seth Rollins’ Status After Brock Lesnar Attack
Last week Raw, Seth Rollins was having a match against long-time rival Dolph Ziggler. As he was preparing to do his Stomp, WWE Universal Champion Brock Lesnar came out to attack Rollins. He gave him numerous F-5’s including several onto a chair.
After Rollins was met with medical attention and stretchered out we saw Roman Reigns and the Usos (Jimmy & Jey) tied up with Samoa Joe and the O.C. (Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson) in a brawl in the back. As the ambulance was about to pull away, Lesnar ordered the driver to not move. He pulled the stretcher out of the back and attacked Rollins again, giving him another F-5 right on top. Lesnar’s advocate Paul Heyman pleaded with him to stop and they walked away.
Here’s the tweet we saw on Smackdown in regard to Rollins’ medical condition:
UPDATE: WWE Digital reached out to @WWERollins for an update on his medical condition, but he has requested WWE not release any information regarding his medical condition following Monday night’s attack from @BrockLesnar. https://t.co/ILAoRWiZ7u
— WWE (@WWE) July 30, 2019
Rollins must be fine, because he was able to send out these tweets in the last few days:
I ain’t dead yet.
— Seth Rollins (@WWERollins) August 3, 2019
I’ll blaze this trail alone and take the long way home. https://t.co/y8kL1dXKKg
— Seth Rollins (@WWERollins) August 4, 2019
Rollins challenges Lesnar for the Universal Championship this Sunday at SummerSlam. Lesnar will be at Raw tonight. The final build for this match will unfold.
Frank’s Analysis: I was down on this beatdown, but I came around. I still didn’t like that other babyfaces didn’t help out Rollins. Why show him chatting with the Street Profits if they’re not going to at least attempt to come out and stop Lesnar? Where was Braun Strowman, Ricochet, or Rey Mysterio? I’m not saying these are all the best choices to get involved, but Braun could have helped which would have been more productive than growling like a monster on Maria Kanellis’ command. At any rate, the beat down served its purpose. If Rollins is going to beat Lesnar, than they’re telling the amazing comeback story. This gives them an out to have Lesnar retain if they want to say Rollins is too beat up. I’m not sure I like him sending out tweets as he should be creating an aura of mystique right now.
Whodunnit: The Mysterious Attack on Roman Reigns
At the close of Smackdown there was an attempt to injure Roman Reigns as he was about to be interviewed by Kayla Braxton to issue his SummerSlam challenge. As Roman was making his way and the camera was filming it, also exposing the interview set, unsecured equipment fell on top of him.
WWE is investigated the matter and updated everyone on their website. They said it was a forklift incident. They are speculating on recent rivals Samoa Joe, Drew McIntyre, and Shane McMahon being behind the attack. Multiple wrestling media outlets have Daniel Bryan as Roman’s SummerSlam opponent, which means he and/or Rowan could have been behind the attack. There’s also speculation on Buddy Murphy being the culprit. Perhaps we’ll find out tonight.
Frank’s Analysis: The Daniel Bryan-Roman feud would be interesting, but it’s a shame that it would only get a one-week build as there’s a lot of history between these two men. You have all the matches with the Shield and Team Hell No (Bryan and Kane) from 2013 and Roman winning the 2015 Royal Rumble upon Bryan’s return from injury at that time. It could be argued that that moment in time is what started the negative reaction to Roman through the years. I’m not saying WWE would blatantly acknowledge that and they shouldn’t because it could backfire. If it turns into a longer program than this could be a positive stepping stone in what I think would be a great feud. As far as Buddy Murphy being the culprit it would be interesting as that would certainly rocket him into a prominent spot, going after one of the company’s top stars. We shall see.
Becky Lynch and Natalya Head Towards Submission Match at SummerSlam
Last week on Raw, Alexa Bliss had her friend Nikki Cross on A Moment of Bliss where they discussed various issues, including a pre-taped video of Raw Women’s Champion Becky Lynch attacking Finlay while showing Natalya how to counter the Disarm-Her. Becky later defeated Alexa via forfeit in a non-title match when it had to be stopped due to an “ankle injury” Alexa suffered. Following that, Nikki challenged Becky only to come up short when Becky beat her with a Man-handle Slam.
Alexa “miraculously” got up to attack Becky along with Nikki when Natalya made her way out. Once she cleared the ring she put Becky in a sharpshooter. Later on backstage with Kayla Braxton, Natalya suggested they have a submission match but decided she wouldn’t bother because Becky won’t go for it. Well I guess Nattie misread the situation because WWE announced this morning that the submission match is on:
— WWE (@WWE) August 5, 2019
Here’s some Twitter talk from both women. Check out the videos with Becky. She has been referring to their past in WWE on her timeline recently:
— Nattie (@NatbyNature) August 3, 2019
— The Man (@BeckyLynchWWE) August 5, 2019
Frank’s Analysis: Talking about their history and their issues is what they should be doing on-screen to build up this feud. Becky attacking Finlay makes no sense. Natalya suggesting a submission match but saying she won’t bother is silly, considering now they’re doing the match. I don’t know who WWE wants us to cheer. They have the same issues with the Bayley vs. Ember Moon match on the Smackdown side. One attacks, then the other retaliates but there’s no purpose. We’ll see what they do tonight. I could still see a tag match with Nattie and Becky taking on Alexa and Nikki. I’m surprised they haven’t done it already.
The O.C. Championship Reign
Last week on Raw, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson of the O.C. captured their first Raw Tag Team Championship for the first time in nearly three years when they defeated the incumbent champions the Revival (Scott Dawson & Dash Wilder) and the Usos (Jimmy and Jey) in a previously unadvertised triple threat tag team championship match.
They celebrated with their O.C. partner U.S. Champion A.J. Styles in this WWE exclusive:
The O.C. is “dripping in gold” for now. Styles heads toward a rematch at SummerSlam against Ricochet, who won a gauntlet match to become the number one contender for the U.S. Championship. Nothing is on the docket for Gallows and Anderson either tonight (at the moment) or at SummerSlam, but we could get something going on that end.
Frank’s Analysis: It does feel like the O.C. is a strong stable and one which WWE appears to be behind. I would think significant title reigns with decisive victories would help establish them as a top group. The problem is the titles they possess have switched hands so many times it’s hard to know if WWE takes them seriously. There is potential with them working together. I still would have liked to have seen A.J. explain why he changed his ways, but overall I’m fine as he runs with his friends. People know them as a group, and the company is smart to run with it.
Pregnant 24/7… And She’s the Champion
Last week on Raw, a mixed tag mosh pit match opened the show with the 24/7 Championship on the line. The 24/7 “rules” were suspended for the duration of the match…with the usual contingent of 24/7 chasers around the ring. R-Truth defended with Carmella against Drake Maverick and his wife Renee Michelle. Truth retained, but later was subject to a pile-on by the 24/7 chasers. The ref counted three, and Mike Kanellis escaped the pile with the championship. He won.
Later on he went to see his wife Maria to celebrate. She ORDERED him to lay down so she can pin him. A referee came in, Mike complied, and Maria pinned him with her high heels. She later gloated in front of everyone who usually chases the title saying “pregnant champion!”
She had an OB/GYN appointment this past Thursday and fortunately, no doctor or nurses pinned her to win the title. This story rolls on.
Frank’s Analysis: How would somebody who knows nothing about wrestling watch this show and understand what’s going on with this story?
Other Match Results & Notable Segments from Last Week
- The Viking Raiders won another squash match
- Samoa Joe, Roman Reigns, the Usos, the O.C., and Cedric Alexander closed out the show with a brawl after Joe told us the Samoan Summit was cancelled. Here’s an angle of Cedric Alexander’s dive that we didn’t see on Raw:
Overall Thoughts on Tonight’s Show
Even though they did the big angle with Rollins and Lesnar as well as the brawl at the end, WWE needs to bring home the fact that SummerSlam is this Sunday. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t feel excited at the moment. Last week moved the needle forward, but they need to do more tonight. We’ll see what they do with the go-home show from the Raw side.
Follow Frank on Twitter @FrankPeteani. Questions and discussion are welcome! Thank you for reading.