PWTorch editor Wade Keller presents a special Thursday Flagship edition of the Wade Keller Pro Wrestling Podcast featuring a WrestleMania 36 Preview with ex-WWE Creative Team member and professional stand-up comedian Matt McCarthy.
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WWE MONDAY NIGHT RAW PRIMER
GREENVILLE, S.C. AT THE BON SECOURS WELLNESS ARENA
DECEMBER 9, 2019
AIRS ON USA NETWORK, 8:00 p.m. EST
BY FRANK PETEANI (@FrankPeteani), PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Announcers: Vic Joseph, Jerry “The King” Lawler, Samoa Joe
Arena, Top 10 Moments from Last Week, and Items Advertised by WWE
WWE Raw returns to the Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville, S.C. for the first time in over two and a half years. Smackdown made an appearance in August of last year. The building opened in 1998 and started hosting WCW Nitro events right away. WWE made their first appearance with Raw in December of 2000.
Here are the top 10 moments of last week’s Raw:
Tonight’s Raw will be the go-home show from the Raw side for TLC, which takes place this coming Sunday. As of this writing, WWE does not have their official preview up. There are a few items advertised on their website though:
- Rusev and Lana to officially divorce on Raw
- Raw announce team adds Samoa Joe as Dio Maddin pursues return to the ring
- Rey Mysterio to defend U.S. Championship against A.J. Styles
The Call to the Hall: Batista and the NWO
Before previewing Raw, I’d like to acknowledge the announcement that Batista and the famous WCW & WWE faction NOW would be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in the class of 2020.
Batista started out in 2002 as a sidekick of Reverend D-Von as Deacon Batista. Eventually, he would join the faction Evolution alongside Triple H, Ric Flair, and Randy Orton. That lead to eventual long-term success for both Orton and Batista working alongside Triple H and Flair. Batista won the Royal Rumble in 2005 defeated Triple H for the World Heavyweight Championship in the main event of the subsequent WrestleMania. He went on to win multiple championships and feud with the likes of Finlay, Kurt Angle, the Great Khali, Edge, Triple H, and Chris Jericho. He dropped the World Championship to Undertaker at WrestleMania in 2007, and would have a series of matches with his eventual Hall of Fame co-hort. Later on, he turned on Rey Mysterio and feuded with him and eventually John Cena upon his departure from WWE in 2010. He returned to win the Royal Rumble in 2014 and was part of the main event of WrestleMania 30 that saw the climax of the Yes movement where Daniel Bryan won the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Evolution would have one last go-around with the Shield before he left again mid-2014. He returned for one more match at this year’s WrestleMania that saw him lose to Triple H. He announced his retirement from wrestling upon completing that match.
I could write an entire article on the NWO. You could argue the nWo brought a lot of people back to watching wrestling that dropped off in the early 1990s. It started out with Kevin Nash and Scott Hall appearing on WCW television portraying guys from the “other company” (WWF) essentially taking over WCW. There was a third member of the group, which was scheduled to face Sting & Lex Luger & “Macho Man” Randy Savage at Bash at the Beach in 1996. That turned out to be Hulk Hogan who revealed himself later as the match progressed. He infamously leg-dropped Macho Man, turning heel for the first time since his early days in WWF(E). I can’t type all this and not include the clips of that famous night. The first video is more focused on the match, while the second clip includes the interview with Mean Gene Okerlund where the NWO was born:
Eventually Sean Waltman, let go by WWF, would join the group as Syxx (a play on him being the 1-2-3 Kid in WWF and those numbers totaling six, plus him being the “sixth” member to join the group … thank you Senior Torch VIP member Brian Alston and my good friend Justin for that information). Many, many more wrestlers would join the faction whose leader would be revealed as WCW Executive Producer Eric Bischoff. The faction ran on and off from 1996-2000 and at one point split off into nWo Hollywood (led by Hogan) and NWO Wolfpac (led by Kevin Nash) in 1998.
The idea of the NWO was to be a “separate company” and to feud with WCW. Both sides would eventually get their own show and have their own roster and the wrestlers would feud with each other, but NWO would feud with WCW on the bigger shows. None of this came to fruition. There was only one episode of Nitro that was taken over as NWO Nitro. One could argue that this is where Vince McMahon got the idea for the roster split.
The NWO feuded with Ric Flair, Diamond Dallas Page, Sting, Lex Luger (until Luger & Sting joined the Wolfpac), and other top talent in WCW until they joined the faction (Randy Savage, the Giant a/k/a Big Show). They inspired WWE to start a “rebel faction” of their own in D-Generation X with Triple H & Shawn Michaels. The original DX was led by “Ravishing” Rick Rude, who infamously appeared on a taped Raw and live Nitro on the same night. Here’s WWE’s clip of that night:
The NWO essentially sparked the Attitude Era in WWF and was a centerpiece of the Monday Night Wars, which concluded with Vince McMahon purchasing WCW in 2001. He brought back the NWO in early 2002, but the storyline ended later in the year. Hulk Hogan had a match with the Rock at that year’s WrestleMania, and the crowd essentially turned Hogan babyface that night. Scott Hall lost to “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and Kevin Nash didn’t even wrestle on the show. In my opinion, Vince basically set the NWO up to fail.
At the 2020 Hall of Fame, the nWo will be inducted. Hogan, Nash, Hall, and Syxx will be the honorees making all two-time members. Eric Bischoff, recently let go as Executive Director of Smackdown, is not to be honored thus far. We’ll see if that changes as we approach the ceremony considering his significance to the industry-changing faction.
Matches & Segments:
Lana and Rusev to File for Divorce
Last week on Raw, Lana and Bobby Lashley were arrested for assaulting plain clothes detectives after Lashley’s match with Kevin Owens. Prior to the match, Lana announced she had filed a restraining order in the state of Tennessee against Rusev. Rusev broke the order and attacked Lashley after he lost the match via DQ as a result of AOP’s interference.
WWE announced on their website that Lana and Rusev will officially file for divorce on tonight’s Raw.
Frank’s Analysis: The Giants are on the Monday night game this week, so I know what I’m focusing on during this segment. In all seriousness, they need to end this story as soon as possible as it’s doing nobody any favors. If there’s a sliver of positive, it’s the reaction Rusev got when he broke the restraining order. I just wonder if that was due to the surprise element of his appearance or fans actually happy to see him. People do like Rusev, but I’m not sure they’re sympathizing with him in this situation in the way WWE wants.
U.S. Championship: Rey Mysterio (champ) vs. A.J. Styles
Two weeks ago, on Raw, Rey Mysterio won a fatal four-way match to earn a U.S. Championship match against then-champion A.J. Styles. They had the match immediately afterwards and Rey captured the title for the second time in 2019.
Last week, in the main event, Styles teamed with his O.C. friends Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson and defeated Rey along with Ricochet and Humberto Carrillo. As a result of Styles securing the pin, he has earned a championship match against the man to whom he dropped the title a few weeks ago. Randy Orton will certainly be lurking as after the six-man tag last week, he snuck into the ring and gave Styles an RKO to close out the show.
Frank’s Analysis: I don’t rule out a title change even after two weeks, but it’s more likely Rey retains and they further the story between Styles and Orton. I don’t want to see this, but I don’t rule out setting up a three-way at TLC.
Joe Joins Commentary Team, Maddin Pursues In-Ring Career
Since Dio Maddin was attacked by WWE Champion Brock Lesnar several weeks, Samoa Joe has filled in on commentary a few times including that particular night and last week. This past Wednesday, WWE.com made it official that Joe will join the commentary team while he recovers from a thumb injury. Maddin is heading to the WWE Performance Center to pursue an in-ring career.
Frank’s Analysis: Joe is fantastic in this role. I’d go so far as to say I wouldn’t mind if they took Jerry Lawler off the crew and just left the announcing to Vic Joseph and Joe. No disrespect to Lawler as he’s had a great career, but he’s out of place being a full-time commentator in 2019. If he’s filling in now and then it’s fine, but not full-time. Now, I think Joe offers more in the ring, and when he’s healthy he may or may not be put back in that role. At 40 years old, he may just want to avoid bruising his body and stay behind the mic.
R-Truth Regains 24/7 Championship and What’s Next
Last week on Raw, NASCAR racers Kyle Busch and Michael Waltrip were guests of WWE at ringside. After Andrade defeated Eric Young, R-Truth ran to the ring as the 24/7 cavalry chased him. He hid with the drivers while they fended off the cavalry. As he thanked Waltrip and Busch, Waltrip revealed a referee shirt. Busch rolled up R-Truth while Waltrip counted to become the new 24/7 Champion.
Later on, in a WWE.com exclusive, Truth regained the championship. Here’s the clip:
Frank’s Analysis: To be fair, at one point I got a kick out of the 24/7 Championship. I’m over it at this point, especially when you have outside people rolling up actual wrestlers to score a pinfall. They have a good wrestler like Cedric Alexander chasing the title. This is a guy that was having matches with Drew McIntyre and A.J. Styles not too long ago, and now he’s back in the cavalry. Please, just end this nonsense already.
Both Andrade and Raw Women’s Champion Becky Lynch had WWE exclusives last week. Andrade discusses the opponents he has beaten lately, which is likely leading to a championship match in the near future. Becky Lynch talks about “one more debt” to collect. She is likely talking about Asuka, whom she lost to at the Royal rumble earlier in the year. Here are those exclusives:
Other Match Results from Raw Last Week
Seth Rollins explained his recent actions and apologized, but Kevin Owens didn’t have it. AOP challenged Owens and Rollins to a tag team match. Rollins accepted, but Owens declined knowing they would all turn on him. Later on, Owens defeated Bobby Lashley but was dragged out of the arena by AOP.
Drew McIntyre defeated Akira Tozawa. He then went face to face with Randy Orton. He said the RKO out of Nowhere was out and the Claymore Kick was in. He said let’s settle things now, but the O.C. interrupted the proceedings as A.J. Styles pursued his issues with Orton.
- Aleister Black defeated Tony Nese.
- Andrade defeated Eric Young.
- Erick Rowan defeated No Way Jose.
- WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions the Kabuki Warriors (Asuka & Kairi Sane) defeated Charlotte in a handicap match.
- The Viking Raiders won a squash match.
Summary & Closing Thoughts
Raw has definitely been the better show as of late. Featuring more of the lower-end talent is good, but the problem is they’ve been treated as such a joke that I’m not sure anybody cares. I hope that changes and they tell more of their stories, especially Eric Young and the 205Live guys. I’m intrigued by the Seth Rollins story, and curious how the women will be positioned. That division certainly needs developing. Becky hasn’t defended her title in two months for a reason. Who is she facing? At any rate, it’s a work in progress, but Raw can get to a better place if they stick to developing the roster from top to bottom and giving themselves some depth. We should also get some answers as to what they’re doing at TLC.
Follow Frank on Twitter @FrankPeteani. Questions and discussion are welcome! Thank you for reading.