KELLER INTERVIEWS ROB VAN DAM FOR FIRST TIME...
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HEYDORN’S WWE RAW REPORT
SEPTEMBER 30, 2019
AIRED ON USA NETWORK
Announcers: Vic Joseph, Jerry “The King” Lawler, and Dio Madden
-The show began with a brand new Raw intro that featured brand new music and brand new video clips. When the intro video ended, a major pyro display ignited before Vic Joseph welcomed the audience to the show.
Heydorn’s Analysis: That opening felt fresh – a feeling that Raw has lacked for quite sometime. Good start.
-Joseph, Madden, and Lawler were shown as Joseph introduced his announce team. From there, Rey Mysterio made his entrance. Mysterio received a nice pop and walked to the ring in street clothes. As he did, Joseph and the announce team hyped other happenings on the show including the return of Hulk Hogan.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Lots of talking from Jerry Lawler out of the gate. Wouldn’t have guessed that and not sure it’s the right move. Almost felt as if Joseph wasn’t fully ready and was still getting instructions over headset as the show went live.
-Once Mysterio got to the ring, he posed on the ropes as the audience cheered him loudly – including his son Dominic who was in the audience. Mysterio picked up a microphone and said that later in the night he would face Seth Rollins for the Universal Championship. He said that the reason for that was because of Dominic and that he was dedicating the match to his son. From there, he said he would bring the Universal Championship home. As he finished speaking, Brock Lesnar interuppted him to a chorus of boos from the audience. Lesnar’s entrance featured pyro as he walked to the ring with Paul Heyman. As Lesnar walked to the ring, the announce team questioned why Lesnar timed this interruption given his title match against Kofi Kingston on Fox in a few days.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Great timing for a Brock interruption. Crowd was hot for Rey and really seemed to get angered by Lesnar’s appearance. Well done.
After Brock got into the ring, Lesnar stole the microphone from Mysterio and handed it Heyman. Heyman smiled and started his introduction, but Mysterio took the microphone back. From there, Lesnar smiled at Rey before delivering two F-5’s to a jeering audience. The camera honed in on Dominic as Lesnar delivered the moves to get his reaction. Lesnar then caught the eye of Dominic and stared him down before exiting the ring and walking up to him face to face. Dominic sat down in his chair, but Lesnar grabbed him anyway and slammed him to the outside mat and ring post. Then, Lesnar rolled him back into the ring and delivered a German suplex to him. Rey attempted to stop Lesnar, but received a third F-5 for his troubles. After, Lesnar left the ring to a chorus of boos from the audience. He walked halfway up the ramp, but then turned back and walked into the ring again. There, he hit both Mysterio and Dominic with release vertical suplexes before staring them down. Officials walked out from the back to stop the carnage and got Lesnar to leave the ring a second time. Heyman pleaded with Lesnar to stop as Mysterio covered his son with tears in his eyes. Then, with Mysterio covering his son, Lesnar attacked again and tossed both Mysterio and Dominic out of the ring. Lesnar stood alone inside of it as the audience booed. Lesnar appeared to be shook up with what he did and glared at the crowd as they chanted asshole. Lesnar then raised his arms with a smile on his face before leaving the ring again. Lesnar walked up the ramp with Paul Heyman as the show faded to a commercial break. (c)
Heydorn’s Analysis: Great opening segment. Mysterio got a fantastic babyface reaction which laid a perfect foundation for Lesnar’s attack to get heat. All parties involved sold their roles well and the audience reacted exactly like WWE planned. Question though. Where was Seth Rollins? Seemed like a prime moment to exert his authority as the champion.
-After the break, the announce team highlighted the events between Brock Lesnar, Rey Mysterio, and Dominic that kicked off the show. Each announce team member was appalled at the actions of Lesnar. When the highlights ended, clips were shown of Mysterio and his son leaving the ring. In them, Mysterio said he was sorry and that it was his fault for what happened.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Good work from Rey in selling the Lesnar attack. He acted in a way that was believable and had an actual reason for stating it was his fault as he did snatch the microphone away from Heyman. Not a good reason, but a reason that makes for a good redemption story.
-When the clips ended, Sasha Banks made her way to the ring. Banks posed at the top of the ramp and as she walked, Joseph and the announce team hyped her match with Becky Lynch at Hell In A Cell. From there, Alexa Bliss walked out to pyro to a nice reaction from the audience. Once Bliss got to the ring, Becky Lynch walked out with smoke pyro as well. Lynch received a nice pop and an angry reaction from Banks. Lynch then joined the commentary team. Once Becky sat down at the table, the bell rang, and the match began.
(1) SASHA BANKS vs. ALEXA BLISS
Bliss took control of the match early with kicks in the corner. From there, she charged at Banks for a move, but Sasha moved and clocked her with a forearm shot instead. After the move, Banks stood on the ropes and taunted Lynch which prompted Lynch to stand up and jaw with her as well. As they both went back and forth, the show went to a picture in picture commercial break. (c)
Heydorn’s Analysis: More freshness for the new era of Raw tonight and the spot featured Batista. Smart to pull that spot out and run it when they did in the picture in picture to keep the audience.
After the one commercial, the action continued with Bliss earning the upper hand once again. She attempted a baseball slide on Banks, but Banks countered with a kick to the face. With both women on the outside of the ring Banks laid in some kicks before rolling Bliss back into the ring. There, she made the cover, but only got a two count. Out of the pin, Banks whipped Bliss to the mat with a fireman carry and then locked in a stretch submission. As this happened, Lawler said that Brock Lesnar was being questioned by the authorities.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Not that Lesnar shouldn’t get questioned for that attack, but he gets it for that and nobody gets anything for trying to murder Roman Reigns? Call me a little confused.
From there, the action continued until Banks rolled Bliss up for the cover and the 1,2,3 win.
WINNER: Banks via pinfall
-After the match, Lynch walked down to the ring and brawled with Banks. The crowd popped big for the battle in which Lynch got the upper hand. Lynch knocked her out of the ring with an uppercut and tried to follow, but Banks ran away through the crowd. After she did, Becky picked up a microphone and said that she could run now, but wouldn’t be able to leave on Sunday until she was done with her. Lynch said that Banks made it personal, but that she would make it painful. Lynch then dropped the microphone and posed with the belt.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Now that’s a go home babyface promo. How long has it been since we’ve seen one of those? Very good stuff.
-Robert Roode and Dolph Ziggler made their way to the ring. As they did, the show went to commercial break. (c)
-Out of the break, Charly Caruso was shown backstage and said she would be interviewing Seth Rollins. Before she did, she cued up highlights of the Firefly Funhouse from last week’s Raw. When they ended, Caruso interviewed Seth Rollins. Rollins interuppted Caruso out of the gate and said that all he can think about is what Lesnar did to Rey Mysterio. He said Lesnar crossed a line and that he was disgusted. In regards to Hell In A Cell, he said he didn’t know how to prepare for Wyatt. From there, he said that his title was too important and that he would figure out a way to prevail. Seth said that Rey was not in a position to fight for the title, but that when he was ready, Rollins would give him a shot because he earned it. From there, he said that he owed the audience a title defense and would make good on that promise. He said he was going to have a title match, but that he didn’t know who it would be against. He said it didn’t matter though because he would win and “burn it down.”
Heydorn’s Analysis: Rollins fit quite a bit into that promo. He addressed Lesnar, Wyatt, Mysterio, and setup the main event. The burn it down catchphrase doesn’t resonate well, but he got his points across in a fluid way. Came off as a star in doing so too. Well done.
-After the interview, Heavy Machinery walked to the ring. Once they got there, official introductions were made and the match began.
(2) HEAVY MACHINERY vs. DOLPH ZIGGLER & ROBERT ROODE – WWE Raw Tag Team Championship
The action was back and forth to start things off. Both teams got solid offense in until Heavy Machinery took over with tandem double teams on both Ziggler and Roode. From there, the show went to commercial break. (c)
Out of the break, Roode illegally pulled Tucker out of the ring by pulling the ropes down. Roode then beat Tucker up around the ringside area before rolling him back into the ring and stomping him in the corner. Roode then tagged Ziggler into the ring and Dolph made a cover, but only got a two count. Out of the pin, Ziggler locked in a sleeper hold on Tucker as Otis riled up the audience and cheered on his partner. Eventually, Tucker got to his feet and battled out of the hold, but was tossed into the corner. Roode tagged into the match again and proceeded to hit a spinebuster on Tucker before covering for a two count. Ziggler and Roode dominated Tucker and cut the ring in half until Tucker countered a Ziggler dropkick into a slingshot. After, he finally made the hot tag to Otis. Otis received a nice pop as he entered the ring and cleared it. Roode chopped him, but Otis suplexed him for his troubles. From there, he connected attempted the caterpillar, but it was interuppted by Ziggler. Otis slammed him next to Roode and hit the caterpillar on both men instead.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Otis is over. Not in a future world champion kind of way, but in a pure entertainment way. A useful act on a three hour show.
Out of that move, they attempted their finisher, but it was stopped by Ziggler’s Zig Zag. From there, Roode was able to hit Tucker with the Glorious DDT before covering for the 1,2,3 win.
WINNER: Roode and Ziggler via pinfall
Heydorn’s Analysis: Good match. Heavy Machinery looked like viable champions and got a nice reaction from the crowd. Their tag title win needs building though. WWE needs to book their story to simmer a bit so the eventual win means more. This is part one and it worked effectively even in a loss.
-After the match, Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair were shown walking backstage ahead of their Miz TV segment. The show then went to commercial break. (c)
-Out of the break, the announce team hyped premiere week for WWE and ran down all of the programming coming up. From there, Miz made his entrance for Miz TV. Once Miz got to the ring he said that his thoughts were with Rey and Dominic. He said that he wouldn’t know what he would do if someone put their hands on his child. He said that he wised them well and then introduced his guests. Ric Flair was first.
Flair received a strong reaction and strutted down the ramp as the audience and him “wooed.” Once Flair got to the ring, he commented on Miz’s suits and sent that he cleaned up good. Miz then introduced Hulk Hogan with Jimmy Hart. Hogan received a loud reaction and posed on the ramp before walking down to the ring.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Sure, it was a big pop. At what cost though? Allowing Hogan to act like a returning hero to the welcoming of thousands sends an awful message. Being allowed back into the company is one thing, a hero’s welcome is something different all together.
After Hogan got into the ring, Ric Flair said he was “over it” while Hogan said he was “ready.” Miz then spoke and said it was an honor to share the ring with both men. As Miz spoke, Flair addressed Hogan and said he was sick of hearing that music for 30 years. In response, Miz wooed and said they had to hear that for a while as well. All three men sat down and Miz asked Hogan what it felt like to sit across from Ric Flair. Hogan responded with his “Whatcha Gonna Do” schtick and said it was nice to be in the ring with his friend Ric Flair. In response to that, Flair said that Hogan may be the biggest draw of all time, but that he could never hang with Flair in the ring. Hogan responded and suggested that maybe Flair wanted a go at 2o inch pythons again. Flair removed his coat and went face to face with Hogan before Hogan did his usual finger in the face. Hogan laughed and said that they weren’t spring chickens but that they could still add to their legacies. Flair said that he was in and that he wanted a paycheck with as many zeros as Hogan’s. From there, Miz announced that at Crown Jewel in Saudi Arabia, it would be Team Hogan vs. Team Flair. In response, Hulk Hogan introduced Seth Rollins as the captain of Team Hogan. Rollins walked out to a big reaction and said that he and team Hogan would “Burn It Down.” Flair then introduced Randy Orton as his team captain. Orton walked out to a nice reaction as well and joined Flair in the ring. On the microphone, Orton told Rollins to crawl out of Hogan’s ass. From there, Orton said that they would pick their teams later on and throughout the next few weeks. Orton then suggested that they have a captain’s match right there tonight. Rollins responded and said that he was looking for someone to step up and accepted the match. As the match was about to begin, King Corbin walked out in his full King gear. With Rollins distracted by the entrance, Orton hit him from behind. From there, Corbin rolled into the ring and attacked Seth with Orton. Rollins was double teamed until Rusev ran out to make the save. Rusev and Rollins cleared the ring and stood strong together as the audience chanted “Rusev Day.” They then left the ring together and posed with Hogan at the top of the ramp as the show went to commercial break. (c)
Heydorn’s Analysis: Just a ton to unpack there. Hogan involved in the Saudi Arabia show? No surprise there. Same with Flair. WWE loses credibility each time they go to that country for a show. If they decide to take the money and run, they need to accept the responsibility and backlash that comes with that choice. Outside of that, the segment was entertaining thanks to Ric Flair. Flair felt off the cuff and authentic while adding his character and personality. He also wasn’t the Ric Flair caricature that we’ve seen many times throughout the years. This felt like pro wrestler Ric Flair.
-After the break, Rusev was interviewed backstage. He was asked about Lana and he did not respond. He then addressed his work instead and said that he saved Seth Rollins from a two on one beating. Rusev said that he owed him and he wanted a Universal Championship match. Before the interview, Charly Caruso mentioned that Rusev had officially joined team Hogan at Crown Jewel.
-When the interview ended, the announce team hyped premiere week again before a pre-taped Authors Of Pain vignette aired. When it ended, the Viking Raiders made their way to the ring as the show went to break. (c)
Heydorn’s Analysis: These continue to work for me. They frame AOP as dangerous and even though the wording was a bit much tonight, the series tone is impactful.
-Out of the break, the announce team confirmed that Seth Rollins would face Rusev for the Universal Championship later in the show. From there, the action went back into the ring where the OC stood opposite of the Viking Raiders. The bell proceeded to ring and the action began.
(3) THE VIKING RAIDERS vs. THE OC
Ivar and Erick took control of the match early with Ivar crushing Anderson in the face before covering for a two count. Out of the pin, Ivar locked in a shoulder submission on Anderson but Anderson broke free and tagged Gallows into the match. Gallows crushed Ivar with a series of elbow strikes before nailing him in the body with punches. The action continued until both teams faced off in the ring as the show went to break. (c)
Out of the break, Gallows and Anderson had full control of the match. They connected with a double back suplex on Erick before Gallows made the cover for a two count. Out of the pin, Gallows locked in a face lock. Eventually, Erick escaped and made the tag to Ivar. Ivar cleared the ring and connected with a series of offense on both Anderson and Gallows. From there, Ivar tagged Erick back in and they hit a tandem move on Anderson before covering, but the pin was broken up by Gallows. In the end, Ivar hit a high flying move that eliminated Anderson to the outside of the ring. Ivar then hit Gallows with a top rope splash before covering for the 1,2,3 win.
WINNER: Viking Raiders via pinfall
Heydorn’s Analysis: A longer showcase match for the Viking Raiders and they continue to impress. The slow build for them is working, but to what end? The tag division is still an afterthought at this point. That said, a brewing battle between the Viking Raiders and AOP is intriguing.
-After the match, Charly Caruso updated the audience and said that Rey Mysterio and Dominic were not coming back to the arena. She also said that Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman wanted a chance to address the attack. As she spoke, Cesaro interuppted her and said that he didn’t think the Lesnar attack on Mysterio was criminal. He said he liked it, but was upset he couldn’t beat the crap out of Rey Mysterio himself. Ricochet then entered the shot and said that Cesaro wasn’t half the man Rey was. He said they should settle it in the ring and said he would be waiting for him. From there, he walked off as the show went to break. (c)
Heydorn’s Analysis: One of Ricochet’s better promos. He wasn’t over the top in his delivery, but showcased some confidence and an authentic swagger. This was the right tone for him.
-Out of the break, Ricochet made his way to the ring. He received a good reaction and was followed by Cesaro. Cesaro had his street clothes on. Once he got to the ring, the bell rang, and the match began.
(4) RICOCHET vs. CESARO
Ricochet took over early with an over to the top rope dive on his opponent. After, he rolled Cesaro back into the ring and attempted a top rope cross body. Cesaro countered it and hit him with a back breaker instead. From there, Cesaro kept up the offense and nailed Ricochet with a European uppercut. He then went for a cover, but only got a two count. Out of the pin, Cesaro locked in a chin lock, but Ricochet escape and hit the ropes for a move. Cesaro countered that move into a lifting uppercut that floored Ricochet. After, Cesaro attempted a pin, but got a two count once again. Out of the pin, Ricochet battled and ended up connecting with a springboard hurricanrana for the 1,2,3 win.
WINNER: Ricochet via pinfall
Heydorn’s Analysis: A to B and simple with a nod to Rey’s West Coast Pop. Nothing groundbreaking there, but good enough to position Ricochet in a positive light.
-After the match, the announce team hyped a new Firefly Funhouse as the show went to break. (c)
-Out of the break, a new episode of the Firefly Funhouse aired.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Intriguing once again, but even more word and convoluted than usual.
-When the Firefly Funhouse ended, A.J. Styles walked to the ring. When he got to the ring, Cedric Alexander made his entrance. The Styles reaction was much larger than Cedric’s. Once Alexander got to the ring, official introductions were made, the bell rang, and the match began.
(5) CEDRIC ALEXANDER vs. A.J. STYLES – WWE United States Championship
Styles owned the action out of the gate until Cedric hit him with a dropkick. That move sent Styles out of the ring and Alexander looked to capitalize with a suicide dive. Instead, Styles caught him with a punch and maintained control of the match. Styles dropped Alexander on the top rope and followed it with a springboard forearm to the outside of the ring. After connecting on that, Styles gloated to the crowd as the show went to break. (c)
Out of the break, the action continued and went back and forth between both men. Alexander hit Styles with a series of patented offense including the Neuralizer and Flatliner. Styles took over and hit his own patented offense until Alexander hit him with the Michinoku Driver. Eventually, Alexander attempted the Lumbar Check, but Styles countered it into the Styles Clash for the 1,2,3 win.
WINNER: Styles via pinfall
Heydorn’s Analysis: Really good match. The audience firmly backed Alexander, but were also with A.J. Styles as well. Could be a warning sign for Styles as a heel. Time will tell. As for Alexander, this solidifies him as an upper mid-card act at best at this point. He’s just lost cleanly too many times for any other opinion.
-When the match ended, the Street Profits were shown backstage. They hyped their tag title match on Wednesday night before discussing (and joking) about the Fiend. When they finished up, Lacey Evans walked to the ring. As she did, the announce team ran down all of the matches at Hell In A Cell on Sunday. When they finished, the show went to commercial break. (c)
Heydorn’s Analysis: Way to much joking around by the Street Profits in regards to the Fiend. Bray is supposed to be legit scary, not scary in a funny way. Montez Ford was too comedic with his expressions and conveyed a sense of humor around the Fiend rather than seriousness. Watch NXT on Wednesday for a true sense of what the Street Profits can bring to the table. This wasn’t it.
(6) LACEY EVANS vs. NATALYA
Out of the break, the bell rang, and the match began. Evans took over early after slamming Nattie into the steel steps. Evans tried to pin Nattie after the move, but only got a two count. In response, Evans repeatedly slammed Nattie’s face into the mat. From there, Evans connected with a running forearm and made a pin again, but again, only received a two count. Out of the pin, Evans locked in a chokehold. Nattie escaped as the audience clapped for her and took Evans down with an arm drag. Nattie continued her offense, but Evans countered it with a neckbreaker. From there, Evans climbed to the the top rope, but was pulled off by Nattie. After, Nattie crushed Lacey with a flurry of punches until she clotheslined her to the mat. Nattie tried for the Sharpshooter, but Evans countered. In the end, Evans raked Nattie’s eyes, rolled her up, and pulled the tights to get the 1,2,3 win.
WINNER: Evans via pinfall
-After the match, Evans clocked Nattie with the the Women’s Right and posed on the ring apron as the show went to break. (c)
Heydorn’s Analysis: Out of all the Natalya/Evans matches lately, this was the weakest. They didn’t seem to be on the same page and that disconnect yielded some mistimed spots and disorganized action.
-Out of the break, the announce team played highlights that detailed the earlier happenings between Brock Lesnar, Rey Mysterio, and Dominic.
-When the highlights ended, Heyman spoke to a reporter backstage. He said that Lesnar’s actions were uncalled for and apologized to Rey and his son. He said for people not blame him or Brock, but to blame Vince McMahon for allowing Lesnar to appear on the show when he was in fight mode. From there, Heyman cut a big promo about Lesnar beating Kofi Kingston on Friday. He said that on Friday everyone would hear the words “and new, WWE champion of the world, Brock Lesnar.” He also said that that was a spoiler before walking out of the shot. When the promo ended, Vic Joseph hyped the Smackdown on Fox debut for Friday night.
Heydorn’s Analysis: A tremendous amount of promotion for the Fox debut on Friday. Not surprising, but puts in perspective just how much promotional power WWE has its hands on.
-Maria Kanellis was interviewed backstage by Charly Caruso. Caruso asked about who the father of her baby was and suggested it could be Rusev. Maria called her stupid and walked out as Caruso stood by. Sasha Banks then walked into the shot and grabbed the microphone. Banks called herself the standard and said that she was in the first ever women’s Hell In A Cell match. She said that Becky may call herself the man, but that she would never allow a man to win her match. Banks then left the shot as a limo pulled up backstage. As it pulled up, the announcers wondered who was inside as the show went to break. (c)
Heydorn’s Analysis: Becky Lynch wins the promo battle, but this was good too. Banks was serious and focused on winning which is a formula for success. Well done.
-After the break, Rusev was already in the ring waiting for Seth Rollins. From there, Rollins made his entrance with Randy Orton and King Corbin looking on. Once Rollins got into the ring, official introductions were made, and the match began.
(7) SETH ROLLINS vs. RUSEV – WWE Universal Championship
Rusev offered his hand for a shake to start things off and Rollins obliged. Instead of shaking it, Rusev took Rollins down and attempted a submission hold, but lost his hold. After escaping, Rollins hit a round of strikes and hit the ropes for a cross body, but Rusev countered with a fallaway slam. The move sent Rollins out of the ring as the show went to break. (c)
Out of the break, the action continued with Rusev still fully in control of the match. Rusev charged at Rollins in the corner, but Rollins countered with a boot to the face. From there, both Rusev and Rollins exchanged strikes in the middle of the ring. Rollins gained momentum with a series of chops and followed them with the Sling Blade. From there, Rollins tried for the Falcon Arrow, but Rusev countered. Rollins countered back and sent Rusev out of the ring. Then, Rollins hit two consecutive suicide dives before trying for a top rope cross body. Rusev countered the move, but again, Rollins countered back into a roll-up for a two count. Out of the pin, Rusev nailed Rollins with a slam and covered for a two count. Out of the pin, Rusev tried for his running kick, but Rollins countered into a superkick. After, Rollins hit Rusev with the Falcon Arrow and covered, but only got a two count. From there, Rollins went for the Stomp, but missed. At this point, Bobby Lashley’s music hit. Lashley arrogantly smiled as he walked out and pointed to the stage. From there, Lana walked out and toward Lashley. Lana smiled at Lashley and grabbed his hand as Rusev watched in the ring. Then, Lana and Lashley made out on stage as Rusev looked on. When they finished, Lana flashed a smile at Rusev before walking away with Lashley. At that point, the lights went out and the Fiend showed up and attacked Rollins as the show faded to black.
WINNER: No contest
Heydorn’s Analysis: What now? Much like the Maria and Mike Kanellis storyline, this Rusev/Lana/Lashley story was just way to out of the blue for me. Less than two hours ago, Rusev mentioned that he and Lana were having some issues. Let that linger a bit. Tell a story. Keep people invested. This will in the immediate future because of the strange nature of it all, but the long term impact is in the bigger story. In addition, this storyline anywhere close to the Fiend stuff is a mistake. It’s two totally different tones that don’t play with each other well.