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KELLER’S WWE RAW REPORT
AUGUST 19, 2019
ST. PAUL, MINN. AT XCEL ENERGY CENTER
AIRED ON USA NETWORK
Announcers: Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler, Renee Young
-Cole introduced the show, but didn’t say where they were. The graphic on the screen did say St. Paul, Minn. (At least the didn’t call it Minneapolis, Minn. on the graphic.)
-Roman Reigns came out showing fire and enthusiasm toward the crowd. He took a deep breath and looked out at the crowd. Cole did note they were in the “Twin Cities.” They went to the announcers. Cole said Corey Graves was on vacation, so Lawler was filling in. He said he’s hosting a King’s Court with Sasha Banks. He said she’s going to have to spill the beans on what happened last week.
Reigns stood on the edge of the ring, smiled, and connected with the crowd.
(Keller’s Analysis: Reigns has really sharply shifted away from seeming too cool for school and nonchalant; instead, he’s really showing a passion and enthusiasm for his job on camera in a way that he hadn’t dating all the way back to his initial singles push. If that’s Paul Heyman’s advice, where was he five or even just two or three years ago? It makes such a difference. )
They broke to a snippet of a sit-down interview with Reigns saying these attempts to hurt him has affected his life and he’s determined to find answers. Then they showed him beating up Buddy Murphy interspersed with clips of the car crash and then Daniel Bryan and Rowan telling Roman on Smackdown last week that this week they’d bring him the culprit. Cole said they expect that news tomorrow night on Smackdown. Lawler said he’s under so much pressure.
Dolph Ziggler made his ring entrance. Cole asked Renee what is wrong with Ziggler. He said he’s ticking people off and making outlandish claims on Twitter. They showed a tweet by Ziggler saying unlike Reigns, he’s really been injured by Shawn Michaels, Miz, and Goldberg. Renee said he is obsessed that someone else is getting attention from the WWE Universe. “He doesn’t know when to stop, he just gets in his own way,” he said. Lawler said he’s a narcissist, conceited, self-entered, and an egomaniac, “and those are his good points.” Ziggler said he’s not a Twitter keyboard warrior like Reigns’s fans. He said he’s glad Roman is okay. He said he means it, man to man. He said he doesn’t get why Reigns gets all the attention for things “almost happening to him.” Fans chanted “You suck!” He yelled that he’s trying to be the bigger man here, so shut up. He asked Reigns if he has any idea what it’s like to get speared three times by Goldberg. A “Goldberg!” chant started. He said he thought Goldberg had to wait six months between spears. He said he lost to “Maryse’s husband with Ric Flair’s move.” He asked if Roman realizes how embarrassing that is. Ziggler said it should’ve been him. He then gave Reigns a cheap shot superkick. Reigns went down. The ref backed Ziggler away. Fans loudly chanted, “You still suck!” The ref checked on Reigns. Then a “Goldberg!” chant started again. Reigns nodded and said he was ready.
(1) ROMAN REIGNS vs. DOLPH ZIGGLER
Ziggler charged. Reigns side-stepped him and punched him. Ziggler rolled to ringside. Ziggler side-stepped a leaping Reigns at ringside and then gave him a Zig Zag. They cut to a break. [c]
They fought back and forth. Cole again said they were “in the Twin Cities.” (Will he utter the words St. Paul tonight? Stay tuned.) After avoiding a spear in the corner, Ziggler rallied and landed a Zig Zag for a very very close near fall. Reigns countered Ziggler’s foot-stomping telegraphing of the Sweet Chin Music with a Superman Punch for a two count. Reigns played to the crowd and then went for a spear, but Ziggler hit the Fameasser for another near fall. Ziggler yelled at Reigns, “You had your chance and you blew it, you idiot!” He shoved him into the corner. The ref backed him away. Ziggler yelled, “Now we end this!” He charged. Reigns speared him and scored a three count. Cole said Ziggler’s mouth got him in trouble again.
WINNER: Reigns in 12:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Both Reigns and Ziggler were good here. Ziggler was obnoxious in a way that made the pop for Reigns stronger. There was no ironic playing for cheers or trying to be clever to score points. Ziggler went for boos and it worked. Reigns is really transforming to a more outgoing babyface too.)
-As Reigns played to the crowd and his music played. the announcers hyped the King of the Ring tournament and the King’s Court with Sasha. [c]
-A graphic talked about many of the firsts for the 24/7 Title such as the first female champion (Kelly Kelly), first co-champions (The Revival), first Hall of Fame champion (Pat Patterson), and first pregnant champion (Maria Kanellis).
-They showed scenes of the Twin Cities, most of which were from Minneapolis along with Bloomington’s Mall of America. They did show a scene of the State Fair and then the capital building from St. Paul eventually.
-A video package aired on Sasha’s return last week, attacking Natalya.
-They cut to Becky Lynch backstage in the locker room addressing the camera directly. She said last week Sasha “beat me stupid with a chair.” She said everyone wants to know why. She said she is interested in Sasha’s explanation with Lawler. She said what she wants is the best, most aggressive version of everybody coming after her title. She said Sasha is at her peak, “and she can thank The Man for that.” She said four months ago, Sasha ran away from WWE, crying about her career which was cold as ice. She asked what did Sasha suddenly do that made her so hot again. “She did absolutely nothing,” she said. “I did it. And it only took me a couple of press interviews to do what Sasha Banks couldn’t – make her a top dog of 2019 – because Sasha Banks is the greatest woman on the roster to never be great. She told Sasha she can swing her chair and wear her dollar store glasses all she likes, but she put more work into getting her into WWE than she did. She asked why it took her, Becky, to unleash the real Sasha? She said the greatest crave greatness, they don’t need to be goaded into it. She said it’s a cat and mouse game, and when she’s done with her, she’ll give her a real reason to go home and cry.
(Keller’s Analysis: Excellent delivery and great material that really taps into what makes Becky’s who she is.)
-King’s Court: Lawler mentioned the King of the Ring tournament first. He said “it’s one of his favorite events of the year.” (He’s been really disappointed recently, then.) He said it’s a launching pad often. He mentioned Bret Hart, Steve Austin, and Brock Lesnar. He said over the next few weeks, 16 of WWE’s top stars will battle it out to be called the King of the Ring. He pointed at the big screen for the brackets. Cole narrated an overview. Lawler said on Raw, he thinks it’ll come down to Cedric Alexander and Ricochet. He said on the Smackdown side – at which point he was interrupted by the Bray Wyatt’s sounds and lights. Lawler fled the ring, saying he’s seen that before. The camera showed him walking up to the stage. He looked around nervously like a victim in a horror movie who runs up the stairs instead of out of the house. The Fiend came up behind Lawler and put him in the Mandible Claw. Cole called for someone to help him. Bray laughed as Lawler went out. The lights came back up after ten seconds and referee ran out to check on Lawler. “Yowie Zowie!” chanted the fans. [c]
-They replayed what happened to Lawler. Then Vic Joseph – who is very tall – joined Cole and Renee. (Apparently Vic is always standing by at Raw wearing his suit ready to jump in if needed.) Cole noted Joseph calls 205 Live.
(1) RICOCHET & THE MIZ vs. BARON CORBIN & DREW MCINTYRE
As Ricochet came out, Cole said they still hope to reschedule an interview with Sasha later on Raw. Miz eyed the throne on the stage was he walked past it. Renee openly was rooting for Ricochet because she said she couldn’t handle Corbin as King. Joseph said Drew is the only wrestler in the entire tournament this year who has been in a King of the Ring tournament before. Cole wondered if that experience would pay off. Renee openly rooted against Ricochet becoming King. The lighting in the ring was red for a few seconds at the beginning and it appeared Drew had a really bad sun burn. Miz set up Ricochet to flip-dive onto both Drew and Corbin at ringside. [c]
Back from the break, Miz threw some awful looking punches at Corbin. Yikes, those looked bad. Corbin yanked off his bartender shirt and revealed a sleeveless t-shirt. The slacks with a belt still looks weird. Drew and Corbin isolated Miz. Joseph shifted into play-by-play at times. (Is this an audition for NXT on USA or Smackdown on Fox?) Ricochet eventually hot-tagged in and scored a near fall on Corbin. Four-way action broke out. Ricochet superkicked Drew as he signaled for a Claymore. Then Miz gave him a Skull Crushing Finale. Corbin, the legal man, chokeslamemd Miz, then went after Ricochet. Ricochet countered, but Corbin shifted him into a Deep Six for a near fall. Fans chanted “Corbin sucks!” Miz pulled Ricochet out of Corbin’s path in the corner, then Ricochet caught him with a Recoil for the win.
WINNERS: Miz & Ricochet in 11:00. [c]
-They showed Sasha getting ready for a sit-down interview. Cole said she’d explain her actions later.
-They went to the announcers on camera. Cole interviewed Booker T on split screen who was connected with Cole via Skype. He asked Booker about Lawler falling victim to The Fiend. Booker said he’s a rabid dog, so you either have to put him down or run. (Huh?) He said Lawler was just in the wrong place. Cole shifted to talking the “King Bookah!” era and what the tournament does for winners. Booker said it catapulted him to new heights. Cole asked him to pick a winner. Booker said his pick is King Drew McIntyre. Cole told Renee that Booker picked McIntyre just like they did.
(Keller’s Analysis: Too many people are picking McIntyre, which points toward someone else winning.)
(2) A.J. STYLES (w/Karl Anderson, Luke Gallows) vs. BRAUN STROWMAN – U.S. Title match
Joseph took over the lead again here, throwing to a video package on last week’s actions with Strowman and Styles. Braun made his ring entrance. As Styles made his ring entrance with Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows, they showed a YouTube clip of Styles saying he’s going to defend against Braun this week on Raw. Joseph asked if Styles was in the right state of mind when he issued that challenge last week. Renee said he might have bitten off more than he can chew. Styles got in Braun’s chest and slapped him. He clipped his leg, but Braun no-sold it. Braun checked Styles hard to the mat. Styles retreated. Strowman charged at Styles. Anderson moved out of the path quickly. Styles took control when Braun entered the ring, but Braun came right back with a chokeslam attempt. Styles slipped free and went after Strowman’s legs again. Braun gave Styles a high backdrop that didn’t go smoothly, but Styles seemed to land safely. Braun then charged, but Styles caught him with a boot and then a forearm and finally a Phenomenal Forearm attempt. Braun swatted Styles out of mid-air, though. When he set up a running powerslam, Gallows intervened with a superkick. The ref DQ’d Styles.
WINNER: Braun via DQ in 3:00.
-The attacked continued after the bell. Cole said this is the M.O. for The OC “and it’s why they’re the most dominant force in WWE today.” As they set up Braun for a double-team move, Seth Rollins charged out as his music played. He cleared the ring of The OC as the fans cheered. Braun struggled to stand. Seth offered him a handshake. Braun accepted it. Seth said they’re now even. Braun held the handshake uncomfortably long. Seth’s music played.
-They showed Samoa Joe backstage. Joseph said the tournament begins next. [c]
-A commercial for Smackdown hyped the Bryan news regarding the Roman situation and Apollo Crews vs. Andrade and Kevin Owens vs. Elias.
-Backstage Seth caught up with Braun and told him they’ve had each other’s backs the last two weeks. He said he knows where this is going. He said if it were up to him, Braun would be the next challenger. He said he has a lot of respect for him. Seth suggested in the mean time, he wanted to team with Braun versus Anderson & Gallows for the Raw Tag Team Titles tonight. Braun grunted a yes-like sound. Seth said, “A man of few words, I like that.”
(Keller’s Analysis: Why did Bayley get to choose Ember Moon as her challenger, but Seth has no way to do that for Braun?)
(3) SAMOA JOE vs. CESARO – King of the Ring Tournament First Round match
As Joe arrived in the ring, an inset soundbite aired with Joe saying the truth stands before everyone. “The King has spoken,” he said. Cole said he’d be one heck of a King of the Ring. As Cesaro entered the ring, a soundbite aired with Cesaro saying that the King of Swing will be known soon as King of the Ring.
(Keller’s Analysis: Cesaro’s demeanor is just too goofy to take seriously. He’s too Claudio sometimes. His delivery sometimes comes across like he’s winding up to say a pun that he thinks is really funny.)
Cesaro charged Joe at the bell with a running European uppercut for a two count. Great bump from Joe on that one. Cesaro then went for a vertical suplex, but Joe blocked it and chopped away at Cesaro. Cesaro landed a springboard twisting back elbow to Joe’s chest for a one count. [c]
Back from the break, they showed a clip of Joe dominating during the break including a clothesline when Cesaro charged off the ropes. Joe had Cesaro grounded with a chinlock. They showed a slo-mo replay of Cesaro landing a boot flush to the side of Joe’s face. Cesaro set up a suplex, but he collapsed under Joe’s weight. They went back to the move right away and Cesaro landed it the second time. The announcers “covered” for Cesaro, but it really made suplexing Joe seem more impressive since Cesaro showed it isn’t a given you can do it every time you try. Cesaro hit a running uppercut at ringside. Then he leaped off the top rope with a crossbody for a two count. Cesaro did a couple revolutions with the Cesaro Swing, then went for a sharpshooter. He applied it mid-ring. Joe crawled toward the bottom rope, so Cesaro shifted into a crossface. Joe backdropped out of a Neutralizer and then applied the Coquina Clutch for the tapout win.
WINNER: Joe in 10:00 to advance to the semi-finals of the KOTR Tournament.
-The announcers hyped Cedric vs. Sami, The Revival vs. The New Day, and Seth & Braun vs. Anderson & Gallows.
-A vignette aired on Charlotte Flair, sponsored by a soda company. [c]
-They went to the announcers on camera who threw to a clip from YouTube of Elias in a recording studio over the weekend being snuck up on by Drake Maverick, who was disguised in a wig. Drake tried to roll up Elias, but Elias didn’t budge. Elias threw him down and kicked him and chased him into another studio.
-Elias sat mid-ring under the spotlight as they went to a wide shot of the crowd. There was some sound issues interrupting Elias. He said he had some terrible news. He asked everyone to pull their loved ones close. He said tonight is a night they’ll never forget because it’s his farewell performance. “What?” gasped Renee. The crowd cheered. Elias said he has so much going on in his life. More weird sounds interrupted him. He said he can’t risk being out there live every week as 24/7 Champion. He said before he goes, he’ll leave the fans with an emotional ballad. He asked everyone to silence their cell phones and shut their mouths. More strange distorted sounds. He began playing, but his guitar was out of tune. He complained and asked for a better guitar. Another guitar was slid into the ring. Elias told that person to hand him the guitar. The guy doing it was in a black outfit and a mask. He pulled the new guitar away from Elias. He revealed himself to be R-Truth. Then another guy distracted Elias. Truth scored a two count with a small package. He kicked Elias between the legs and landed a scissors kick for two count. Truth held the guitar. It was obvious what Truth was thinking. but Cole said nobody has any idea what Truth is thinking. Truth swung the guitar at Elias, who escaped out of the ring before getting hit.
(Keller’s Analysis: That was a flat 24/7 segment.)
-Cole hyped New Day vs. The Revival. They showed Rey Mysterio pacing backstage. Renee said he’d made some cryptic Tweets and they’d hear from him next. [c]
-Charly Caruso interviewed Rey backstage. She said last week he indicated there might be something going on with his family. Rey, in a soft-spoken voice, thanked Caruso for this opportunity. Rey said he’s had a wonderful career and he’s been very fortunate. Rey said he wrestled since his uncle trained him as a little boy and he’s had a chance to wrestle in front of fans and friends. “But recently, things just haven’t been clicking with me,” he said. He said what Andrade did what a disgrace, ripping his mask off. He said in their culture as a luchador, that’s the biggest insult. He said he hasn’t succeeded in responding. He said his body isn’t doing what he envisions anymore. He said he’s had a lot of injuries because he’s faced bigger men, but his biggest fear is those injuries catching up to him. He took a deep breath and announced, teary-eyed, that he knows this day has to come to everyone at some point, but he didn’t expect it would come to him. He said it is time for him to hang up the mask and let a new generation of wrestlers have their time. As he began to take off his mask, his son Dominic stepped in and stopped him. Dominic told Rey that he promised him they’d team together in his debut. He said he wants to be able to tell his children that he was a partner with his father, their grandfather, “the great Rey Mysterio.” He told him not to do it and to stay in WWE. “Don’t retire,” he said. “I’m going to make you proud.” Rey said he’d do it for him because he loves him so much. They hugged. Rey shed more tears. We know because the camera was about an inch from his left eye during that hug.
(Keller’s Analysis: I don’t know where this is headed, but it’s intriguing. Is Dominic going to side with Andrade and break his father’s heart?)
(4) THE REVIVAL vs. THE NEW DAY (Big E & Xavier Woods)
As The Revival came out second, Cole said they’re wearing snake-skinned boots as a shout out of sorts to Randy Orton. When New Day clotheslined The Revival over the top rope to the floor, they cut to an early break. [c]
Back live, Big E dropped Dash and then hip swiveled over him before flicking his pelvic sweat onto him. When Big E charged toward Dash, Orton landed an RKO out of nowhere.
WINNERS: The New Day via DQ in 5:00.
-Kofi ran out for the save, but was beat down. Xavier then re-entered the ring with a spirited attempt at a save, but he was triple-teamed into an RKO. Cole noted Orton’s “smug smile.” Randy dragged Kofi to mid-ring and made him watch as Dawson leaped off the top rope with a flying knee onto Xavier’s leg. Xavier grabbed his knee and cried out in agony. (“Look! New Day have no friends!”)
(Keller’s Analysis: I like the synergy with Orton and Revival. It elevates Revival being associated with Orton for sure, but this also freshens up Orton who hasn’t been in fresh circumstances in over a decade.)
-Joseph plugged the Seth & Braun vs. OC main event.
-They went to the announcers on camera who shifted to the Sasha Banks interview. Sasha appeared on split screen. Cole asked if she’d like to explain her actions. She said she wanted to explain it from the beginning. She said last week she looked in the mirror and told herself to lose her color. She said everyone’s talking about her blue hair. She said she looks good and feels even better. Cole said with all due respect, nobody is talking about her blue hair. Cole asked why she chose last week to return to WWE when Natalya was grieving the anniversary of her father’s death. Sasha paused, then leaned in and said, “You’re welcome.”
(Keller’s Analysis: That was great. This is a new Sasha, or at least the first time she’s really shown that side of her on the main roster. The material along with her delivery was spot on.)
-Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross made their ring entrance. [c]
(5) MANDY ROSE & SONYA DEVILLE vs. NIKKI CROSS & ALEXA BLISS
Cole said “Thank god for the Wildcard Rule” as Mandy and Sonya came out. Cole said Lawler was examined by the doctors and he left the arena under supervision. He said they’d have more updates on how he’s doing on social media and digital in coming days. Cole said Bliss & Cross have been surprising everybody. Nikki threw Rose into the ringpost. Mandy distracted Deville, and then Nikki gave her a cross neckbreaker for the win.
WINNERS: Nikki & Bliss in 5:00.
-Backstage Seth talked strategy with Braun. Seth noticed Braun was focused on the Universal Title belt. Seth said they need to focus on tonight because they might walk out Raw Tag Team Champions. He told him to follow his lead. Braun stood and said he’s focused, but he needs to follow his lead. He promised him if he does that, they’ll walk out as tag champs. [c]
(6) CEDRIC ALEXANDER vs. SAMI ZAYN – King of the Ring Tournament First Round match
A soundbite aired with Cedric saying he plans to make the most of this opportunity and take the Age of Alexander and raise it to new heights. Cole noted Cedric is in WWE because of his breakout performance in the Cruiserweight Tournament years ago. During Sami’s ring entrance, he said the last couple of months have been garbage for him with too many losses, but he’s turning it around tonight. He said he’s coming at Cedric like a tornado tonight. After some back and forth action, Cedric finished Sami with his Lumbar Check finisher for a clean win. Cole said Sami will have to do some soul searching now after that loss. Cole said King Cedric has a nice ring to it. Cole noted that sets up Cedric vs. Joe next week.
WINNER: Cedric in 3:00.
-Backstage The Street Profits studied the brackets on sheets of paper. Angelo Dawkins was upset his bracket was already busted because he had Cesaro. They talked about tomorrow’s first round matches. Dawkins asked Montez Ford why they don’t make a tag team King of the Ring. Ford said that’s because they’re already kings. Then they hyped the main event tag match.
(Keller’s Analysis: Dawkins has forgotten about the Dusty Rhodes Classic?)
-Backstage Anderson and Gallows were upset because Seth and Braun didn’t do anything to earn a tag title match. Styles said it’s a chance for The OC to prove their greatness tonight because they’re no match for them. Anderson and Gallows seemed sufficiently motivated.
-Backstage Natalya, with her arm in a sling, looked into the camera and said she just met with the WWE doctor, and it’s been a week since she bared her soul to the WWE Universe. She said she knew and expected this to be an emotional week for her, but she didn’t expect Sasha Banks. She said Sasha was one of her closest friends, which is why she can’t wrap her head around why Sasha did that to her at one of the most vulnerable times of her life. The crowd began “What’ing” her. Sasha then attacked Natalya. She jammed her injured elbow in a drawer. “Go to hell, Nattie, and tell your father I said hi,” she said.
-Seth made his ring entrance. Cole talked about how he made a statement at Summerslam. Braun made his ring entrance. [c]
(7) KARL ANDERSON & LUKE GALLOWS (w/A.J. Styles) vs. SETH ROLLINS & BRAUN STROWMAN – Raw Tag Team Title match
They did formal ring introductions for the title match. The heels took control at ringside a few minute in and they cut to an early break. [c]
The heels were isolating Seth with sustained offense after the break. Cole noted Seth’s ribs were still taped and he’s having trouble breathing. Seth made a comeback and got his dive through the ropes in, of course, spearing Gallows at ringside. Back in the ring, he landed a Falcon Arrow on Anderson for a near fall. The heels took out Braun at ringside, so Seth continued to fight alone. Braun resurfaced and took it to Styles at ringside, then Gallows, with running checks. Seth then leaped and hot-tagged Braun as soon as he returned to their corner. He tossed around Anderson, then knocked Gallows down hard. He followed with a running clothesline on Anderson followed by a running powerslam. When Styles entered the ring, Seth gave him a quick stomp. Braun then made the cover for the 1-2-3. Joseph said, “The unlikeliest of duos have come together.” Cole called it one of the most amazing closing sequences of a tag match he’s seen. Cole said they’re on their feet in the Twin Cities. (Still no reference to St. Paul by Cole.) They cut to a replay of fans excitedly counting 1-2-3 during the pin. Joseph said the complexion of the tag team scene has just completely changed. Cole said he doesn’t know how they can be stopped. The show ended with an extended celebration by Seth and Braun on the stage.
WINNERS: Seth & Braun to capture the Raw Tag Team Titles.
(Keller’s Analysis: They’re definitely building up to something between Seth and Braun, and it feels fresh and unpredictable. Well, unless you’re betting on Braun turning on Seth down the line.)
FINAL THOUGHTS: Another good episode of Raw. It wasn’t just “good stuff,” but the absence of dumb and frustrating stuff that made this enjoyable. I’m off to do the live podcast now. Details below.