WWE RAW PRIMER 8/19: Here Ye Here Ye Let the Royal Tournament Begin, A Monster of a Challenge by the Phenomenal One, Now That’s a Brutal Boss, Who Wants To Run After Elias?

By Frank Peteani, PWTorch Specialist

Sami Zayn (art credit Joel Teach © PWTorch)


AUGUST 19, 2019

Announcers: Michael Cole, Corey Graves, Renee Young

Arena and Items Advertised by WWE

WWE finds itself in St. Paul, MN. tonight, at the XCEL Energy Center, the home of the NHL’s Minnesota Wild. The arena opened in September of 2000 and hosted episodes of WCW Nitro and Thunder before they sold to Vince McMahon. WWE made its first appearance in the building with a Smackdown and 205Live in February of 2017.

Here is what is advertised for tonight’s show thus far.

Matches & Segments:

  • The King of the Ring tournament begins
  • Braun Strowman to face A.J. Styles for the U.S. Championship
  • Cedric Alexander squares off with Sami Zayn as the King of the Ring kicks off
  • Cesaro and Samoa Joe to throw down with their eyes on the throne

Storyline Follow-Up

  • Sasha Banks’s brutal return sparks questions
  • Walking with (and running) after Elias

King of the Ring Tournament: First Round Matches Cedric Alexander vs. Sami Zayn and Samoa Joe vs. Cesaro

Last week on Raw, WWE advertised that they would be bringing back the King of the Ring tournament.

For those who may not be familiar, it was first held in 1985 and wasn’t televised until 1993 when it ran as a PPV until 2002. In 2006, 2008, 2010, and 2015 it ran on single episodes of Raw with the 2015 finale taking place on the WWE Network. That tournament was won by Bad News Barrett when he defeated Neville. The first winner in 1985 was WWE Hall of Famer “The Magnificent” Don Muraco. The recently deceased HOFer Harley Race won in 1986 and parlayed it into his “King” Harley Race gimmick. Race would continue to run with the gimmick; however, the ensuing winners of the tournament (“Macho Man” Randy Savage, “Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase, Tito Santana, Bret “Hit Man” Hart in 1991) did not do the same. Race went down with an injury in 1988 and thus Bobby “The Brain” Heenan anointed Haku. Haku then lost it to Hacksaw Jim Duggan in a match who then lost it to Savage. This was outside of Savage’s tournament win. After Savage lost a retirement match to Ultimate Warrior at WrestleMania 7, he retired the gimmick and it wouldn’t be used until Mabel won the PPV tournament in 1995.

Bret Hart won the first PPV showing in 1993 defeating the late Bam Bam Bigelow in the finals. That tournament featured a recently turned babyface Mr. Perfect facing Bret in a rematch of their classic Intercontinental Championship match from SummerSlam 1991. In the televised era of the tournament several WWE Hall of Famers have come out winners. This includes Kurt Angle, Edge, Triple H (technically inducted as part of DX) and Booker T. When you talk about King of the Ring though, there’s that Hall of Famer who cut a pretty famous promo in 1996:

That was all then and here we are in 2019, ready to launch the tournament for the first time in four years. Here is a tweet from WWE, which features a link that’ll take you right to the brackets:

The tournament gets underway tonight. Cedric Alexander goes one-on-one with Sami Zayn, and Samoa Joe goes up against Cesaro. Cedric had an incredible match against Drew McIntyre last week. He came up short as a result of Drew’s Claymore Kick but sold it like a rock star. Samoa Joe defeated Sami Zayn in about a minute. We all thought Joe was on his way to a face turn, but he told the fans off when he said he forgave Roman for the accusations of the attacks on him recently but not the fans. He links up with heel Cesaro tonight. Here’s Joe in a WWE.com exclusive talking about his King of the Ring aspirations:

Frank’s Analysis: If this tournament was to guarantee someone a title match, I’d put McInytre as the favorite. Since that isn’t the case at the moment, I could see Cesaro winning this. He won the Andre the Giant Battle Royal in 2014 and Vince typically likes to give these sorts of “accolades” to wrestlers he doesn’t typically view as championship contenders/main eventers. Sami fits into this category as well. I admit I’d get a kick of him coming out and trying to dance in a crown and robe. I don’t rule Joe out, since he hasn’t won a major title on the main roster. Cedric would be more of a dark horse. I hate to say it, but this thing has Baron Corbin written all over it. I don’t want to be right about that, please WWE.

U.S. Championship Match: A.J. Styles (champ) vs. Braun Strowman

Last week on Raw, A.J. Styles faced newly crowned Universal Champion Seth Rollins in the main event in a non-title champion vs. champion match. The match ended when A.J.’s O.C. buddies Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson (Raw Tag Team Champions) got involved causing A.J. to be disqualified (I don’t remember it being officially announced. What else is new.). Nonetheless Ricochet got involved as he has been feuding with A.J. as of late. Soon thereafter Braun Strowman, who hadn’t been on TV much as of late, came down to help Rollins and Ricochet. The show ended when Braun handed Rollins his Universal title belt with a quick bit of hesitation.

A.J. didn’t take too kindly to Braun getting involved. He challenged him to a U.S. Championship match. Here’s Braun’s response on Twitter which includes a WWE.com exclusive of A.J.’s challenge:

Braun takes on A.J. tonight in an attempt to gain his first U.S. Championship.

Frank’s Analysis: There are multiple wrestling media outlets reporting that a Rollins vs. Braun feud may be in the offing, so it’ll be interesting to see how they get to that if in fact that’s true. Braun vs. A.J. is a unique match, and it’s pretty fair to think Anderson and Gallows could involved costing Braun the title. With Braun title challenges or matches in general it’s fair to expect shenanigans of some sort. Perhaps that leads to Braun finding a partner and feuding with the O.C.? Maybe Rollins is that partner and somehow issues between them leads to a Universal Championship match? As far as tonight it’s not crazy to expect a reset and restart and have Braun, Ricochet, and Rollins take on the entirety of the O.C., despite Ricochet being in the King of the Ring tournament. Who knows but it’ll be interesting to see where they go.

Sasha Banks Is Back with a Vengeance

Last week, Sasha Banks made her return to WWE after not appearing since her and Bayley dropped the Women’s Tag Team Championship at WrestleMania to the IIconics (Peyton Royce & Billie Kay). She interrupted a promo by Natalya who was coming off a loss to Becky Lynch for the Raw Women’s Championship at SummerSlam. Natalya was talking about it being the one-year anniversary of her father’s passing, referring of course to Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart, and how he had told her in a dream that he was proud of her. Sasha appeared to be sympathizing with Natalya by hugging her, but then proceeded to attack. She pulled off her pink wig and revealed blue hair and continued to attack her. Becky attempted to rescue Natalya but was also beaten down by Sasha.

Earlier in the evening Becky had vowed to get revenge on people who had wronged her and said anyone’s best play is to come and get her before she gets them. She took to Instagram and vowed revenge on Sasha for the attack. Sasha has put up some cryptic tweets:

WWE follows up on Sasha’s actions tonight.

Frank’s Analysis: If Sasha and Becky are entering a feud that ought to be a social media delight for those who love to indulge in that sort of thing. As far as the turn it was overall well done. The problem is the crowd was rejecting Natalya and you could actually hear a “thank you Sasha” as she was getting beaten down. In the end, they got Sasha in the right place and it will be fascinating to see her heel character unfold. If she feuds with Becky and Bayley feuds with Charlotte on Smackdown, there’s the Four Horsewomen going at it!

Walking (and running) with Elias: The Ballad of the 24/7 Champion

Last week on Raw, the 24/7 Championship eventually found its way to Elias when he attacked R-Truth in the back with his guitar and pinned him to start his third reign as the title holder.

While Elias was recording in a studio this past week, former champion Drake Maverick attempted to pin Elias but was foiled:

Elias is in the King of the Ring tournament on the Smackdown side. We can expect more shenanigans with the championship tonight.

Frank’s Analysis: None.

Other Match Results and Notable Segments from Last Week

  • Seth Rollins opened the show talking about his victory at SummerSlam over Brock Lesnar and regaining the Universal Championship.
  • The Miz defeated Dolph Ziggler. Ziggler talked crap after the match and was treated to a Skull Crushing Finale by Miz.
  • Ricochet defeated Elias.
  • Rey Mysterio lost a two-out-of-three falls match Andrade, losing both falls straight. Later on, he was interviewed by Charly Caruso where he talked about never having lost two straight falls, and how he was thinking about his family.
  • WWE Hall of Famer “Stone Cold” Steve Austin endorsed Seth Rollins and said he finally understood who is Seth “Freakin’” Rollins.
  • Robert Roode defeated No Way Jose.
  • Paul Heyman discussed how Brock Lesnar was notified he would not be getting a Universal Championship rematch and was at a loss for words.
  • The 24/7 Championship went from R-Truth to the Revival to Truth to Elias.
  • The Viking Raiders won another squash match.
  • Women’s Tag Team Champions Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross retained their titles over the Kabuki Warriors (Asuka & Kairi Sane). Paige announced via video she couldn’t be there for the Warriors as she was undergoing another neck surgery.

Overall Thoughts on Tonight’s Show

WWE put on one of its better shows last week and it should be fun with the King of the Ring tournament getting underway tonight. The first round of matches on the Raw side has some real potential as does Smackdown with the exception of the Kevin Owens vs. Elias match. They are smart to use a tournament to fill TV time. There are some intriguing feuds and scenarios developing and thus personally, I’m looking forward to this show. I can’t say I’ve said that about Raw in a long time.

Follow Frank on Twitter @FrankPeteani. Questions and discussion are welcome! Thank you for reading.

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