SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
WWE MONDAY NIGHT RAW PRIMER
LEXINGTON, KY. AT THE RUPP ARENA
JANUARY 13, 2020
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 an on-and-off again destination in Lexington, KY. at the Rupp Arena. (There should totally be a poll before every show if WWE is going to mention the city. I get the sense they will not mention Lexington, KY. You can’t make this crap up.) Anyway, the show last appeared here in April of 2019, post-WrestleMania. This time we head towards WrestleMania as the picture for the Royal Rumble takes shape, with that show happening in less than two weeks. The Rupp Arena opened in 1976 and is home to the NCAA’s Kentucky Wildcats. WWE started appearing in this arena with house shows in 1988. WCW snuck in there with a few tapings of Thunder.
Here are the top 10 moments of last week’s Raw:
At the close of last week’s show, they advertised numerous items for tonight:
WWE Champion Brock Lesnar to appear on Raw
Randy Orton vs. A.J. Styles
Rusev vs. Bobby Lashley
Aleister Black vs. Buddy Murphy
Kevin Owens, Samoa Joe, and Big Show to team up again to face Seth Rollins & AOP in a first-ever “fist fight”
Matches and Segments
Brock Lesnar Preps for Royal Rumble
Last week on Raw, WWE Champion Brock Lesnar returned to Raw with his advocate Paul Heyman. Heyman said that nobody on the Raw, Smackdown, or NXT roster was worth stepping up to or sharing the spotlight with his client. He then announced that Lesnar would be entering the Royal Rumble and not only that, entering at number one. That would allow us to see every dream match during the Rumble, but he would still be victorious in the end.
Thus far we have 13 participants for the Rumble. Last week we learned about Lesnar as well as A.J. Styles, Erick Rowan, Randy Orton, Rey Mysterio, Ricochet, and Drew McIntyre from the Raw side of the pond. This past Friday on Smackdown we learned about Elias, King Corbin, Dolph Ziggler, and Otis & Tucker of Heavy Machinery. Elias sang us a song to tell us. Reigns declared his entry on the first Smackdown of 2020 and said he would be winning the Rumble. Long-time rival Lesnar may have something to say about that, as he appears again tonight on Raw.
Frank’s Analysis: I would have been perfectly fine determining a number one contender to face Lesnar at the Rumble, such as Aleister Black as I suggested last week. This feels a lot more interesting. I immediately thought of Lesnar winning the Rumble and challenging the Fiend at WrestleMania or Daniel Bryan if he wins the Universal Championship? Bryan vs. Lesnar on the big stage would certainly be not what everyone expected. Perhaps WWE kind of copies New Japan Pro Wrestling and what they did at Wrestle Kingdom having a dash for double gold? I doubt that happens, but it’s something to keep in the back of your mind.
Randy Orton vs. A.J. Styles
Last week on Raw, A.J. Styles defeated Akira Tozawa in about two minutes. The story though was Styles mimicking Orton’s moves as he did the draping DDT off the ropes, the pounding of the mat in preparation for the RKO, and actually delivering the RKO itself to score the pin. Following the match, he posed on the ropes as Orton typically does after a victory.
Two weeks ago, Orton duped Styles into thinking he suffered a potential career-threatening knee injury but treated him to an RKO. Another chapter of this feud unfolds tonight as Styles and Orton go one-on-one. Here’s a little Twitter trash talk between these two:
Frank’s Analysis: The way this feud is going, as well as what they’re doing with Aleister Black and Buddy Murphy, and everything with Seth Rollins is why I fell in love with wrestling back in 1986. There’s an importance being put on every chapter of the story and the announce team is telling me why I need to care. Historically, when you do things this way, people want to tune in and watch. I care about what happens next with all of these stories. To compare, I think of the feud with WWE Hall of Famers Jake “The Snake” Roberts and “Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase years ago. The mind games they played with each other and each layer were so much fun to watch. Go look up some of their segments if you have time.
Rusev vs. Bobby Lashley
Last week on Raw, Bobby Lashley and Lana finally “got married.” Lana spoke, the crowd booed, Lashley looked dumb, and the Justice of the Peace looked like Bill Belichek (he really did). That said, Lana expressed her unhappiness with the crowd claiming that nobody wanted to see her get married. She said that everyone should be honored to be in her midst and all of the “ex’s” that showed up the previous week were jealous of their love, especially Rusev. Rusev later showed up on the titan tron with a really lame picture of a palm tree and beach in the background. Lashley told him he wanted to strip him of his balls and shove them down his throat. Rusev said that wouldn’t happen, but rather he would come back next week (tonight), do unspeakable things and brutalize his body. Whatever would be left is for Lana.
This weird pornographic story continues tonight as Lashley and Rusev go one-on-one. Liv Morgan, who interrupted Lashley and Lana’s “first wedding,” proposed to be in Rusev’s corner. Here’s Lashley on social media. He chimed in about Brock Lesnar entering the Royal Rumble at number one as well:
— Bobby Lashley (@fightbobby) January 7, 2020
Frank’s Analysis: One thing I do have to say is that I care more about a Rusev vs. Bobby Lashley match as a result of this than I would have otherwise. Do NOT mistake that as a compliment regarding this story. It’s still silly, over-the-top ridiculous, and poorly acted. Maybe some people like this trash and view it on YouTube, but that doesn’t make it good. There’s a difference between getting clicks on the internet and people clicking their remotes to tune into Monday Night Raw. Stuff like this does not draw interest, but rather it turns people off.
Aleister Black vs. Buddy Murphy
Aleister Black and Buddy Murphy have been on the dance floor for quite some time now. They went one-on-one at TLC which saw Black come out on top. WWE referred to this match as a “show-stealer” and had a rematch several weeks ago, which also saw Black come out on top. Murphy was highly competitive in both matches. Last week Black defeated Shelton Benjamin in about three minutes but was attacked by Murphy after the match. He savored his attack by sitting cross-legged on the barricade, similar to what Black does frequently in his matches.
Tonight, another chapter in this feud unfolds as Murphy and Black go one-on-one. Here’s a tweet from Murphy taunting Black:
— Buddy Murphy (@WWE_Murphy) January 10, 2020
Frank’s Analysis: I thought they should have done a best-of-seven series with these two, but it wouldn’t be fair to start that now with Black up 2-0. I’m interested in where they’re going with this. My hope is that they don’t trade wins for the sake of doing so. Based on the way Raw has been booked, I don’t sense that. Maybe they do a double DQ or count out and have that lead to more a gimmick-type match?
Fist Fight: Kevin Owens & Samoa Joe & Big Show vs. Seth Rollins & AOP (Akam & Rezar)
Last week, Samoa Joe had a surprise partner in mind for he and Kevin Owens as they were set to take on Seth Rollins and AOP in the main event. That man turned out to be Big Show, whom we hadn’t seen since he helped the Bar win the tag titles on Smackdown over a year ago but then turned on them quickly. That said, the match went about ten minutes and ended Rollins hit Show with a chair. Action continued until Show hit Rollins with his KO punch. The announcers quickly went to announcing what was on tap for next week (tonight), which included a “Fist Fight” between Owens & Joe & Show vs. Rollins & AOP. Here’s some videos and social media from Show, Joe, Owens, and Rollins:
We got a Fist Fight this Monday, of course most people are wondering about the rules. I’m wondering why there are any to begin with. #RAW
— Samoa Joe (@SamoaJoe) January 11, 2020
Can someone tell me what the rules to a Fist Fight are? If I punch through Seth’s face, do we win?
I called Vince this week to ask him and he put me on hold for 5 hours and 18 minutes before the call mysteriously dropped
Anyway, lme know.
— Kevin (@FightOwensFight) January 11, 2020
Even though the brass put me in a match without my consent, while I was half conscious, I’ll overcome those odds and continue to set the standard for the best pro wrestling company on Earth. You’re welcome. https://t.co/s07Jwx2YbQ
— Seth Rollins (@WWERollins) January 12, 2020
Frank’s Analysis: Since this is a fist fight, is it going to take place in a schoolyard? I have no clue how they go to this, and it was also weird that it was announced just seconds after their match ended. That said, I just hope we’re not headed for Show’s 6,395th heel turn. Come on, you know you can see them putting Show with Rollins and AOP as a stable.
Other Matches and Issues from Last Week:
Andrade retained the U.S. Championship over Rey Mysterio. The referee inadvertently counted three with Rey covering Andrade, but he didn’t see Andrade’s foot on the ropes. The match was restarted. Andrade pulled off Rey’s masked after the match. Luckily Rey knew when Andrade was being interviewed later on as he went after him and got the mask back.
The Viking Raiders retained the Raw Tag Team Championship over Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows and the Street Profits.
Raw Women’s Champion Becky Lynch cut a promo in regard to her defense of the title against Asuka at the Royal Rumble. Asuka came out and Becky punched her. Here’s Becky in a WWE exclusive:
Mojo Rawley freaked out after he looked into Erick Rowan’s cage. Rowan then defeated a jobber, who looked into the cage himself and came out with a bloody face.
Sarah Logan attacked Charlotte Flair before their match. Charlotte fought back then put on her robe over a fallen Logan.
Drew McIntyre defeated No Way Jose. He gave him an extra Claymore Kick after a post-match promo at the behest of the crowd.
Other than not knowing what a fist fight is and dealing with more of the Lana-Lashley-Rusev story, I’m looking forward to tonight’s Raw. That they announced everything ahead of time makes the matches and segments feel important. It hasn’t been this way for a long time. I’m real curious though how they follow up on Lesnar participating in the Royal Rumble. There’s a part of me that won’t quiet down that thinks he’s going to win it. I don’t know how beneficial that is, or if it will even happen, but we’ll see.
Follow Frank on Twitter @FrankPeteani. Questions and discussion are welcome! Thank you for reading.