SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
WWE MONDAY NIGHT RAW PRIMER
ORLANDO, FLA. AT THE PERFORMANCE CENTER
APRIL 13, 2020
AIRS ON USA NETWORK, 8:00 p.m. EDT
BY FRANK PETEANI (@FrankPeteani), PWTORCH SPECIALIST
Announcers: Tom Phillips, Jerry “The King” Lawler, Byron Saxton
Top 10 Moments from Last Week’s Show:
Arena, Perspective on Live Programming, and Items Advertised by WWE:
The trend of audience-free shows continues as Raw will emanate from the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Fla. Tonight’s episode will be live as will Smackdown for the near future. In case you missed it, Wade Keller posted an in-depth article with analysis on the pros and cons of doing live programming as opposed to recording shows as they’ve done recently:
KELLER IN-DEPTH: WWE plans to shift to weekly live TV events, comments to ESPN about decision and positive coronavirus diagnosis, while pro sports leagues consider options to follow in WWE and AEW footsteps resuming games
According to multiple media outlets, WWE are giving exemption letters to their employees to show to the police if stopped as a result of the stay-at-home order issued by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. The letter indicates they are “essential media” personnel. We’re going through that with the airlines as we’re deemed essential to the operation, so we have to print them out or at least have them downloaded on our phones upon request.
Frank’s Analysis: Do you believe this “essential media” nonsense? I don’t believe for a second. WWE is doing this out of obligation to put live programming on as a result of their contracts with NBC Universal or Fox. Don’t hand me that happy horsesh–. They can put safety first under the current circumstances and work it out with both companies where they record shows ahead of time as they’ve been doing. Should Fox cancel their contract with MLB because they can’t air games? NBC with the NHL? ESPN/ABC with NBA? Why is AEW able to air pre-recorded programming with TNT?
I don’t know if I’d be watching WWE programming if I weren’t doing the primers here at PWTorch. I can’t write previews for a show I don’t watch, right? Then again I continue to watch AEW. They’ve done a better job, and at least they’ve been smart to record programming ahead of time and not risk exposing people as much as you would in a live environment. I want to stay with the product too, so that plays into my decision.
I’ll say this one more time: Wrestling should be shut down for now. Contrary to what WWE says, it’s not woven into the fabric of our lives any more than baseball, football, basketball, and hockey. Getting together with our families and friends, going out to eat and to the movie theater, and taking our kids to shows and concerts is just as woven into our community and all of that is shut down. I love wrestling and have for nearly 35 years. I enjoy covering wrestling in my role here at PWTorch as I have for the last two years. That said, if it were shut down temporarily, my life would move forward just fine. The problem is wrestling is VINCE MCMAHON’S ENTIRE LIFE. He has nothing else but WWE. HE needs it to go forward live, not the networks. Even people that cover wrestling for a living think it needs a break!
WWE is advertising tonight’s show as the “home to champions.” Raw Women’s Champion Becky Lynch and WWE Champion Drew McIntyre will be on hand:
WWE Champion Drew McIntyre
Last week WWE acknowledged Drew McIntyre’s big win at WrestleMania over Brock Lesnar to capture his first WWE Championship. It’s technically Drew’s second “world championship” as he had a run as NXT Champion back in 2017 before succumbing to Andrade “Cien” Almas (before Vince got a hold of his name and shortened it). They said at the end of the show they would show “shocking footage” of what happened after Drew’s win.
The footage turned out to be Drew’s post-match interview where he talked about winning the WWE Championship and what it meant to him. He was interrupted by the Big Show, who last appeared on WWE programming back in January as a babyface teaming with Samoa Joe and Kevin Owens against Seth Rollins and his crew. Here, he appeared as a heel (marking his 4,386th turn?) challenging Drew to a championship match. Drew said there’d be nothing Show could say to goad him into the match. Show then slapped him in the face, and Drew accepted. They went about seven minutes, and Drew retained after hitting his Claymore Kick to score the pin. This marked the second time at a WrestleMania where the new WWE Champion immediately defended the title after winning it in the main event. Yokozuna defended and lost the title (then the WWF Championship) to Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania 9 in 1993 after defeating Bret “Hit Man” Hart.
Drew appears tonight as his title run takes shape. We likely find out whom will be his next challenger, or how it will be determined. Here’s Drew on The Bump, where they pipe in his old 3MB partner Heath Slater. It turned out to be a real enjoyable conversation:
Frank’s Analysis: Even though he lost his match at WrestleMania, I can see Seth Rollins being lined up for Drew as they have some history, and he is the top heel on the show now. If they’re going to do that, it’s fine. At least come up with a way for Rollins to earn the right to challenge for the championship. There’ve been too many random title matches handed out recently with no rhyme or reason. I understand we’re dealing with the pandemic, but they can still handle this a little better.
Raw Women’s Champion Becky Lynch
Last week, Becky Lynch was coming off retaining her Raw Women’s Championship over Shayna Baszler at WrestleMania. She talked to Charly Caruso and gave her credit, but also said Baszler underestimated her heading into the match. They acknowledged they were one day away from her being champion for a year, as she won the Raw and Smackdown Women’s Championship at last year’s WrestleMania (remember when they made her Becky Two Belts for a month?). Becky left the door open for Baszler to challenge her again. Baszler responded in a very creepy video where she said Becky would suffer the “agony of her defeat.”
Tonight, we continue the run of Becky. Perhaps the feud continues with Baszler or they go to something else before going back to the feud later. Here’s some Twitter trash talk:
This is so much more than just the title now. https://t.co/AeR3SoSGWC
— Shayna Baszler (@QoSBaszler) April 6, 2020
— The Man (@BeckyLynchWWE) April 7, 2020
Frank’s Analysis: If it’s me I have somebody else challenge Becky for a while, and let Baszler pile up some wins before going back to the feud. Done right, Becky-Baszler can last for a while. They’ve already done Becky vs. Asuka. Maybe they build up Becky vs. Kairi Sane? Ruby Riott? There are enough babyfaces like Natalya and Liv Morgan where Baszler can build up her resume over time and get back to her feuding with Becky if that’s the plan.
Other Match Results and News Items from Last Week
- Asuka defeated Liv Morgan.
- The Street Profits defeated Angel Garza & Austin Theory (with Zelina Vega) via DQ to retain the Raw Tag Team Championship. Bianca Belair appeared, said “she goes here now,” and wrestled Zelina to a no-contest. The Street Profits and Belair then defeated Garza & Theory & Zelina in a mixed six-person tag team match. (Phew)
- In a backstage interview with Charly Caruso, Bobby Lashley acknowledged it may be time for new management or a new wife after losing to Aleister Black at WrestleMania. Lana appeared and questioned Caruso what she did to her husband.
- Aleister Black defeated Apollo Crews, who made his return to Raw via an “expiring draft pick.”
- Ricochet & Cedric Alexander defeated 205Live & NXT’s Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch. They acknowledged Ricochet & Alexander as an “exciting new team.”
- Kevin Owens talked about his long battle with Seth Rollins and getting his WrestleMania moment. He said it may be time to go back to being a “prize fighter,” as he was once regarded.
- Seth Rollins defeated Denzel Dejournette from NXT.
- Nia Jax returned to Raw after a yearlong absence and defeated Deonna Purrazzo from NXT.
- Humberto Carrillo defeated NXT’s Brendan Vink.
- Charly Caruso interview new NXT Champion Charlotte Flair and congratulated her on her WrestleMania win over Rhea Ripley.
I look forward to Drew’s title reign unfolding. It’s all about the opponents. Outside of Rollins and maybe Randy Orton, I don’t know that there are a lot of options. You’re looking at Murphy, Bobby Lashley (unless they’re turning him), Andrade, Angel Garza, and Austin Theory. Andrade I suppose could be an option. There’s always A.J. Styles, but who knows where he’s headed after the feud with the Undertaker. I’m interested too in Becky’s future. There are some options for her moving forward, and we should have an idea tonight as to where we may be headed.
Follow Frank on Twitter @FrankPeteani. Questions and discussion are welcome! Thank you for reading.