HEYDORN’S WWE RAW REPORT 4/27: Alt Perspective coverage of the live show in a crowd free environment including the Rollins and McIntyre championship match contract signing, Asuka vs. Baszler vs. Jax, and more

BY ZACK HEYDORN, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR (@zheydorntorch)



SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...

HEYDORN’S WWE RAW REPORT
APRIL 27, 2020
LIVE AND WITHOUT FANS FROM THE WWE PERFORMANCE CENTER IN ORLANDO, FL
AIRED ON USA NETWORK

Announcers: Tom Phillips, Samoa Joe, and Byron Saxton

[HOUR ONE]

-The show opened with the standard Raw intro video. When it ended, the announce team welcomed the audience to the program. Phillips and company plugged the McIntyre and Rollins contract signing, Baszler vs. Jax vs. Asuka, and then introduced Samoa Joe back to the announce booth. From there, they introduced MVP who is the ring and in the VIP Lounge.

Heydorn’s Analysis: Good to see Joe back on commentary. He brought a sense of true credibility to the role the first time around.

-In the ring, MVP stood amidst an array of ladders. He said that the VIP Lounge was the only lounge still open in the United States. From there, he plugged the MITB ladder match “corporate ladder” match at Money In The Bank. He detailed the stakes at hand within that match and said the reward was worth the risk. He continued and said he wanted to pick the brains of the stars who would be in the match. He then introduced Rey Mysterio. As Rey walked down to the ring, the announce team took over once again and highlighted all of the competitors in the match.

Heydorn’s Analysis: Ok, call me old fashioned, but MVP introducing the VIP Lounge and joking that it is the only club still open is tremendously out of touch on the part of Vince McMahon and the writers. Given the uncertainty out there from the health and economic side of things, jokes related to Covid-19 just aren’t ok. 

Once Rey got to the ring, MVP told him to get comfortable. MVP then introduced Aleister Black and Black made his full entrance. Once Black got to the ring, MVP welcomed him and said that he didn’t think Black frequented night clubs. He asked that Black not touch anything and then he introduced Apollo Crews. Crews sat down in the ring as well and MVP proceeded to speak again and he asked Rey Mysterio what it meant to be Mr. Money In The Bank. As Rey was about to talk, MVP answered for him and said that it meant adding to his historic career. MVP then answered the question for Black. From there, he asked the same thing to Apollo Crews. MVP said he lost to Crews and wanted to know that if Crews had what it took to win the match and what that win would mean to him. Crews stood up to speak, but as he did, Zelina Vega walked out and interrupted with Andrade, Angel Garza, and Austin Theory. At the top of the ramp, she said that nobody in the WWE Universe wanted to hear what Crews had to say. She said that they couldn’t get enough of Andrade, Angel Garza, and Austin Theory. She then introduced each of them by name. Vega called those three the future of Monday Night Raw. She said that neither of the talent i the ring measure up to her trio. She said that the future with Mysterio, Black and Crews is a bleak one. From there, Vega walked down to the ring with her group. Garza kicked the red ropes down and Vega kept talking. She told the three in the ring that they needed to do what was best for Monday Night Raw and allow her three talents to take their place in the MITB Ladder Match. With Vega and her group now in the ring, Rey addressed her on the microphone. He asked if Vega really thought that they would just give up their MITB spots. He laughed that off, but then said that they must have walked out there to pick a fight as well. At that point, Mysterio attacked. Black and Crews followed and the brawl was on. The babyfaces cleared the ring and stood strong as the show went to commercial break. (c)

Heydorn’s Analysis: Call me crazy, but I smell a six man tag team match. Will the MITB spots be on the line? Time will tell. That match could certainly solve the puzzle that is too many babyfaces in the match. Should be a decent match, but those would be tremendously high stakes given the, you know, three minute build.

-Out of the break, Tom Phillips plugged Money In The Bank. When he finished, the bell rang, and the match began between the six men that were brawling.

(1) ALEISTER BLACK, REY MYSTERIO, & APOLLO CREWS vs. ANDRADE, ANGEL GARZA, & AUSTIN THEORY

Black started things off with Garza. Both men exchanged holds until Black took Garza down to the mat. There, Black locked in a couple leg submissions. Garza escaped quickly and then kicked Black while he was down on the mat. From there, he attempted a submission, but Black connected with a kick. At that point, Black put on another submission move, this time, targeting Garza’s arm. Eventually, Garza broke free of the hold and slammed Black to the mat. He then made the cover, but only got a two count. Out of the pin, Black took over on offense again and connected with a seres of arm drag takedowns. After, Crews and Theory tagged into the match. Right away, Crews lifted Theory for a delayed vertical suplex and connected with it. Crews then made the cover, but only got a two count. Out of the pin, Crews locked in an elbow submission. Theory reversed it and whipped Crews into the corner. As he went more more moves, Crews countered with a dropkick. From there,Rey Mysterio entered the match. Rey hit a hurricanrana on Theory and covered, but only got a two count. Rey tried to keep momentum, but Theory countered it into some offense. Mysterio quickly countered the offense and set Theory up for the 619. As he went for it, Andrade interfered. Rey battled out of that with the help of his team and tossed him out of the ring along with Garza and Theory. Black and Crews proceeded to connect with the flipping suicide dives and as they did, the show went to commercial break. (c)

Heydorn’s Analysis: I’m still very much enjoying Zelina Vega around the ringside area. Being able to hear the way she talks about her team as the match goes on helps them attempt to get over as she frames them in a way that the announce team won’t. Important stuff if these three are going to make an impact on the show long term. 

Out of the break, Andrade had control over Black. He beat on Black near his corner which allowed for Andrade’s partners to get illegal shots in on Black. From there, Theory tagged in and grounded Black with a side headlock. Theory connected with a vertical suplex and followed that with a pin. Black kicked out at two and right after Theory kept momentum by stomping his back and locking in a chin lock. Black battled out, but Theory kept control by lifting Black and dropping him on top of the turnbuckle. Black then connected with a suplex and covered, but only got a two count. Out of the pin, Garza tagged into the match for a few strikes before Andrade tagged back into the match. From there, the heel team cut the ring in half and maintained control with holds to keep momentum in the match. Finally, Black beat on Theory and then made the tag to Rey Mysterio. Rey connected with a hurricanrana on Andrade and followed that with a springboard splash. After, he hit a kick to the face on Andrade and covered for a two count. Out of the pin, Zelina Vega cheered her client on as he beat on Rey. After, Andrade tagged Garza into the match. Garza held control over Mysterio and tossed him out of the ring as the show went to commercial break. (c)

Heydorn’s Analysis: What happened to the short matches? This is dragging a bit.

Out of the break, Mysterio tried to make the tag to Apollo Crews, but Theory stopped him. He hit Rey with a press slam and followed that with a standing moonsault before covering for a two count. From there, Theory tagged Andrade into the match. Andrade pounded on Rey in the corner with strikes. After, he worked for a submission, but Rey countered it with an enziguri.

Heydorn’s Analysis: Really nice selling from Rey throughout that run of heat on the heels. He creates so much sympathy in an authentic way with little obvious effort. 

After the enziguri, Rey connected with a spiked tornado DDT. He then finally made the tag to Crews. Crews dominated as soon as he got in the ring. Crews cleared it, but then went toe to toe with Theory. Each man exchanged offense, but then Theory hit Crews with an inverted neckbreaker. In the end, Apollo Crews countered Andrade’s Hammerlock DDT into his spinning powerbomb. Crews then made the cover for the 1,2,3 win.

WINNER: Mysterio, Black, and Crews

Heydorn’s Analysis: Not a bad match, but a long match. Too long. As for the booking? Questionable. It’s one thing to quickly build up a group of heels to feed to the champion in order to keep that champion strong. It’s a totally different thing to lose to an up and coming and out of nowhere Apollo Crews. What does it mean for Drew McIntyre to beat these guys if an act like Crews can beat them as well.

-After the match, #10 on the top Triple H moments aired. The moment was Triple H reforming DX on Raw the night after WrestleMania 14. The show then went to commercial break. (c)

-Out of the break, #9 on the top Triple H moments aired. The moment was the Triple H vs. Sting match from WrestleMania 31.

-When the moment highlight ended, Andrade was interviewed backstage. He was asked “what happened” in his match. He said his partners let him down and that Crews, Black, or Mysterio could never beat them one on one. From there, Crews walked into the shot and said he heard what Andrade said. He said he beat Andrade before and could do it again in the same night. At that point, Andrade walked back into the shot and said Crews didn’t deserve a title opportunity. Crews slapped him in the face and asked if he “deserved one now.” Zelina Vega then got in Apollo’s face and asked him if he thought he was a big shot. Crews said yes and in response, Vega confirmed that the championship match was on for later in the show.

Heydorn’s Analysis: Very nice to see some fire from Crews. I still don’t agree with the booking decision in the six man tag, but Andrade getting a clean victory in the title match helps cushion the blow a bit. As for Crews, I’m still not buying his push. This interview was effective for him, but it still feels like I’m seeing something that is forced. 

-When the interview segment ended, the announce team was shown. They then cued up video highlights that detailed the story between Drew McIntyre and Seth Rollins to this point. When the highlights ended, #8 on the top Triple H moments aired. The moment was Triple H beating the Rock for the WWF Championship on the first WWE Smackdown. The show then went to break. (c)

-Out of the break, #7 on the top Triple H moments aired. The moment was Triple H showing Trish Stratus wrestling moves. From there, Asuka made her entrance.

[HOUR TWO]

Once she got to the ring, she spoke in Japanese on the microphone. Asuka talked about fighting and tapping out Nia Jax as she laughed. When she finished, Nia Jax walked out and was followed by Shayna Baszler. Before Baszler got into the ring, she pulled Asuka out of it and beat her up around the outside of the ring. She tossed Asuka into the ladder and right after she did, Jax attacked her from behind and tossed her into the ring barrier. Jax turned her attention to Asuka and as she did, Baszler attacked from behind. With both Asuka and Jax down, Baszler tried to setup a ladder, but Asuka battled her and tossed her into the steel steps. From there, Jax took over and crushed both Asuka and Baszler with it. After, they rolled out of the ring. Jax looked on and lifted the ladder as if she was going to throw it on them, but didn’t. Instead, Jax dropped the ladder and stared at them as they writhed in pain. The match never actually got started.

Heydorn’s Analysis: Not good and ineffective. For one thing, the bait and switch on this match itself is just bad business. With declining ratings, if you promote a match like this, deliver on it so as to maintain good faith with viewers who tune in to see it. That aside though, worse attacks have happened and matches still have taken place. Baszler looked ordinary here in favor of Nia Jax. Not a smart business move given what we’ve seen Shayna bring to the table. Jax has a ceiling, Baszler doesn’t. The focus is in the wrong place.

-After the “match” the announce team hyped that Bobby Lashley would be in action. The show then went to commercial break. (c)

-Out of the break, Lana and Bobby Lashley were shown backstage. Lashley told Lana that he didn’t want her in his corner because she was a distraction. Lana seeming annoyed, but Lashley told her she was distracting because she was too beautiful. Lana smiled and agreed not to join him. From there, Lashley made his entrance. Denzel Dejournette waited for him in the ring. Once he got there, the bell rang, and the match began.

(2) BOBBY LASHLEY vs. DENZEL DEJOURNETTE

Lashley took over early in the match. Eventually, Dejournette slapped him, but Lashley retaliated with a stiff punch to the back. After, Lashley connected with a release vertical suplex. He followed that with a sidewalk slam and his spear for the 1,2,3 win.

WINNER: Lashley via pinfall

Heydorn’s Analysis: Fine for what it was. Lashley continues to have an aura of silly around them though. If he can shed that aura, he could be a challenger for McIntyre down the road. It’s a long road at this point though.

-After the match, the announce team hyped Liv Morgan vs. Ruby Riott as the show went to commercial break. (c)

-Out of the break, the announce team announced the new WWE video game set for a fall release.

Heydorn’s Analysis: This game looks completely insane. That is all. 

-When the video game commercial ended, Liv Morgan made her entrance. Ruby Riott followed and once she got to the ring, the bell rang, and the match began.

(3) LIV MORGAN vs. RUBY RIOTT

Morgan and Riott exchanged offense for the early part of the match. Eventually, Riott hit the Riott Kick and covered, but Morgan kicked out. Riott was angry that her move didn’t beat Morgan and the announce team put the move over on commentary. After the shock wore off, Riott beat on Morgan and taunted her. From there, she whipped her into the ropes. Morgan countered and hit her springboard Flatliner before covering for the 1,2,3 win.

WINNER: Morgan via pinfall

-After the match, Morgan was interviewed. She said that she feels like she’s had many chapters in her career and that there will be many more. She said she was still trying to figure out who she was, but that she would soon enough. The show then went to commercial break. (c)

Heydorn’s Analysis: Ok then. Talk about saying a lot of words, but really saying nothing at all. The bottom line is this. Wins without context are not going to build Liv Morgan the way WWE is pretending it will. Where is the story here? It’s an easy one to tell. Give Riott the opportunity to show frustration and get heat by taking Morgan out because of jealousy. Play that out and then have Morgan go over. Story is the key and based on Morgan’s promo, she doesn’t even know where she is headed. If she doesn’t know, why do the fans care? 

-Out of the break, #6 on the top Triple H moments aired. The moment was Triple H becoming the King Of The Ring in 1997. When the moment finished, the announce team ran down the Money In The Bank card.

-When the announce team wrapped, Nia Jax was interviewed backstage. Jax asked Charly what she could do about her actions. Jax answered and said nothing. Jax then proceeded to say the same about Asuka and Baszler. From there, Jax screamed at Charlie Caruso before walking out of the shot.

Heydorn’s Analysis: Too much yelling. Way too much yelling. The promo worked up until the yell. 

-After the interview ended, the Viking Raiders cut a promo backstage with a strange red light behind them. They talked about the Street Profits and said that even though they are good champions, they have never beaten them. They said that the Street Profits may be in possession of the titles and that the world calls them champions, but the truth was that if the Viking Raiders are around, they are simply second best. They said for the Street Profits to prove them wrong because they wanted the smoke.

Heydorn’s Analysis: Boy, no mention of the abomination of a segment from last week. So, once again I say, WTF? Same old, same old. This was a standard and bland promo from the Viking Raiders like we’re used to. What was with the red light though? Minor league production work right there that is laughable to put on television in front of millions of people. The content was fine, but the Viking Raiders are just a mess right now. 

-After the promo, the announce team promoted an appearance from Jinder Mahal as the show went to commercial break. (c)

-Out of the break, #5 on the Triple H countdown aired. The moment was Triple H invading Smackdown with NXT ahead of Survivor Series.

-When the moment ended, Akira Tozawa was shown in the ring. From there, Jinder Mahal made his entrance. Once he got to the ring, the bell rang, and the match began.

(4) JINDER MAHAL vs. AKIRA TOZAWA

Mahal decimated Tozawa to start things off. He beat him up in the ring and out of the ring before rolling him back in. From there, Mahal stomped on Tozawa before connecting with a Samoan Drop. Mahal then hit the Khallas for the 1,2,3 win.

WINNER: Mahal via pinfall

Heydorn’s Analysis: So, Jinder Mahal is back then? In that case, the squash worked. Tozawa as the opponent doesn’t make a ton of sense. Maybe its a resources thing, but Tozawa is being featured on NXT right now in the Cruiserweight Championship tournament. He’s won matches too! If acts are going to cross brands, there needs to be consistency with presentation or booking. Otherwise, crossing brands does damage to both shows and the act.

-After the match, Andrade and Zelina Vega were shown backstage. Charly Caruso walked up to ask a question, but Vega told him her no. From there, Angel Garza approached her and said he had a lot of respect for her. Garza then asked if they could get better acquainted at some point. Caruso said yes and Garza then walked out of the shot. The show then went to break. (c)

Heydorn’s Analysis: Such an alpha-like response from Zelina Vega. She continues to shine. Excellent stuff. 

-Out of the break, the #4 moment aired in the Triple H countdown. The moment was Triple H and Shawn Michaels impersonating Vince McMahon and Shane McMahon. When the moment ended, Andrade made his entrance with Zelina Vega. Once they got to the ring, Apollo Crews made his entrance. As he walked to the ring, the announce team cued up highlights from earlier in the night that detailed how we got to this match. When the highlights ended, official introductions were made, and the match began.

(5) ANDRADE w/Zelina Vega vs. APOLLO CREWS – WWE United States Championship Match

Both men tied up to start things off. From there, they exchanged holds to control the match. Eventually, they broke the holds and Andrade hit the ropes. He tried for a shoulder tackle, but Crews stood up to hit and held his ground. Andrade tried again, but this time, Crews connected with a dropkick that sent Andrade to the outside of the ring. Crews followed to keep momentum, but tossed Andrade back in the ring to beat the count. Andrade took advantage and beat on Crews as he got into the ring. Andrade connected with chops and strikes before connecting with a knee strike in the corner. From there, Andrade lifted Crews up and whipped him into the corner. He then hit a dropkick and tried for another knee strike, but Crews dodged it and Andrade flew to the outside of the ring. Crews tried for more by hitting a moonsault, but Andrade moved and hit Crews with a clothesline instead. The show then went to break. (c)

[HOUR THREE]

Out of the break, the action continued. Andrade maintained control until Crews battled back and connected with his Gorilla Slam. He followed the slam with a standing shooting star and connected. He then covered, but only got a two count. Out of the pin attempt, Andrade took control again with his running knee strike in the corner. Andrade looked to maintain momentum, but Crews countered it into a second press slam. Andrade countered the press slam into a DDT and covered, but only got a two count. Eventually, the action made its way to the top turnbuckle. Both men battled there an exchanged strikes until Crews knocked Andrade off with a headbutt. Crews then jumped off for a move, but Andrade rolled out of the way. This caused Crews to crash down on his knee. After he did, Crews grabbed his knee in pain. This was the same knee that Crews tweaked earlier in the match. Crews writhed in pain which caused the referee to end the match.

WINNER: Andrade via referee stoppage

Heydorn’s Analysis: A good match to be sure and I like the injured knee playing a factor in the end after the setup earlier on. Crews didn’t sell the finish enough. For a finish like that to work, the babyface needs to show that he/she still wants to fight. It felt like Crews simply accepted the referee’s choice. Sure, he was disappointed, but the audience needs to see the determined babyface try to fight. Therein lies the sympathy. The commentary tried, but couldn’t fully connect those dots to make this effective. 

-After the match, the announce team hyped the McIntyre and Rollins contract signing as the show went to commercial break. (c)

-When the show returned, the #3 moment aired in the Triple H countdown. This moment was Triple H forming Evolution. When the moment finished, the Street Profits were shown backstage. They cut a promo on the Viking Raiders and called them “cosplaying fools.” From there, they said that the Viking Raiders were right in what they said. Ford said that they needed to prove them wrong and challenged them to a match next week.

Heydorn’s Analysis: Good promo and a perfect example of the Street Profits in the correct lane. When they are serious about winning, the entire act gels together in a big way. 

-When the promo finished, the announce team cued up clips of the Becky Lynch WWE:24 episode that detailed her main event match at WrestleMania. When the clips ended, the show went to commercial break. (c)

-Out of the break, Ricochet and Cedric Alexander made their way to the ring. Ever-Rise waited in the ring and once they got there, the bell rang, and the match began.

(6) RICOCHET & CEDRIC ALEXANDER vs. EVER-RISE

Alexander and Ricochet took over early. Ever-Rise got some offense in, but once Ricochet hit his superkick, they took full momentum back. In the end, Alexander hit his Flatliner and covered for the 1,2,3 win.

WINNER: Ricochet and Alexander via pinfall

-After the match, MVP applauded them on the big screen. He said he had a keen eye for talent and then said he decided to bring Shane Thorne and Brandon Vink to Raw. He said that their loss last week was a fluke and that they wanted a rematch. Ricochet and Alexander agreed as the show went to commercial break. (c)

Heydorn’s Analysis: A fine squash-like match and a showcase for the Ricochet/Alexander tag team. I’ll take MVP in a managerial role as well. It sounds strange, but its nice to see Ricochet and Alexander not join together as a team and immediately get a title shot. The journey is part of the story and they need to take the audience on their ride toward the titles. Let this one breathe, WWE. It will payoff in the end. 

-Out of the break, the #2 moment aired in the Triple H countdown. The moment was he and DX invading WCW.

-When the moment finished, Apollo Crews was shown walking backstage on crutches with ice on his knee. He was interviewed by Charly Caruso who said she was sorry. Crews cried a bit and then walked away without speaking.

-When the interview ended, the announce team cued up a video package that detailed the current feud between Drew McIntyre and Seth Rollins. When the video ended, the show went to commercial break. (c)

-Out of the break, the #1 Triple H moment aired. The moment was Triple H tearing his quad on Raw and returning 8 months later.

-After the moment finished, Jerry Lawler was introduced and stood in the middle of the ring. From there, he talked about Money In The Bank and the corporate ladder match. Lawler then hyped the WWE Championship match between Seth Rollins and Drew McIntyre. He said the match couldn’t take place without the contract being signed and then introduced Rollins. Seth walked out in a suit and once he got to the ring and sat down, Drew McIntyre walked out. McIntyre winked at Rollins from the outside of the ring, but then got in and spoke to Lawler. Drew said that he knows how these things go and that they probably will end up going the usual route. Because of that, he suggested that Lawler leave and Lawler agreed. Drew then sat down and signed the contract right away. He then put the contract in front of Rollins and told him to sign it quick since he was the one that jumped Drew. Rollins paused and Drew said “time is ticking.” In response, Seth said that he didn’t want this, but that he had to do it. He said he started things to get Drew’s attention and to get the WWE Championship where it needs to be. Rollins said that it wasn’t about him or Drew and that it was bigger than everyone. Rollins called Drew an honorable man, but said he wasn’t a leader like him. Rollins said that he has led everyone he has been and people have followed. Seth said the WWE Universe needs a leader that can guide them and that he can be the light in that darkness. Rollins said he suffered for the championship while staring at it. Rollins told Drew that he didn’t have to suffer and that he didn’t want what happened to him to happen to Drew. Rollins said he didn’t want to crush Drew’s dream, but that it was a sacrifice he was willing to make. Rollins said that eventually Drew would understand and that he he would lead him too. In response, Drew thanked Rollins and said it was passionate and enlightening. He said things were clear to him and everyone around the world. Drew said it was clear that Rollins was totally full of shit. He asked Seth where his followers were and that the fans turned on him. Drew said he would just cut to the chase and that he didn’t know what was going on in Seth’s head. He said he knew one thing though and that was that he would not let Seth win the championship under any circumstances. Drew then gave Seth advice. First, he said for Seth to shut his mouth. Second, he said Rollins jumped him, but didn’t finish the job. Drew told Rollins to go for his throat at MITB because he would be going for his. At that point, both Rollins and Drew stood up. Seth said that at MITB the picture would be clear and the future would be better off because of it. Seth then signed the contract and firmly told Drew to have faith. As he did, Drew smashed Seth’s face into the table. Seth writhed in pain as Drew called for the Claymore. As he did, Murphy attacked from behind and slowed him down. After noticing this, Seth looked at Murphy and hugged him. Rollins then dodged a Claymore which nailed Murphy instead. Drew stared a hole through Rollins and held up the MITB contract as the show faded to black.

Heydorn’s Analysis: That worked. It’s beyond tough to pull that off without a crowd, but they setup a match with heavy stakes with a story on both sides of the match. Rollins played the character well even if it is a bit over the top. Drew was strong as a babyface and commanded the show’s attention the second he walked out. Well done.


NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S REPORT: HEYDORN’S WWE RAW REPORT 4/20: Alt Perspective coverage of the live show in a crowd free environment including McIntyre’s response to Rollins, Black vs. Theory, Murphy vs. Mysterio, Crews vs. MVP, and more

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