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WWE MONDAY NIGHT RAW PRIMER
ORLANDO, FL. AT THE WWE PERFORMANCE CENTER
AUGUST 10, 2020
AIRS ON USA NETWORK, 8:00 p.m. EST
BY FRANK PETEANI (@FrankPeteani), PWTORCH.COM CONTRIBUTOR
Announcers: Tom Phillips, Byron Saxton, Samoa Joe
Afternoon Update by WWE
WWE came out with their official preview after my primer was posted earlier. Here are the additions they made to what I anticipated earlier:
- Mickie James returns tonight on Raw
- Bianca Belair looks to beat the truth out of Zelina Vega
- Dominick Mysterio signs his WWE contract and SummerSlam contract with Seth Rollins
Mickie James has not been on WWE programming for over a year. She’s a five-time WWE Women’s Champion and a one-time Diva’s Champion. She was last seen at the women’s battle royal at WrestleMania 35 and was drafted to Smackdown shortly thereafter. She tore her ACL at a live event and would miss seven to nine months of action and would do commentary on Main Event during her recovery. During her recent tenure she was an on and off ally and rival of Alexa Bliss, for whom she once challenged for the Raw Women’s Championship. We’ll find out what’s in store for Mickie as she returns tonight.
I talk later in the primer about what happened between Bianca Belair and Zelina Vega. Refer to the “other match results and segments from last week” to see the background for their one-on-one match tonight.
I also talk about the background between Dominick Mysterio and Seth Rollins as they head towards their SummerSlam match with a contract signing tonight as well as Dominick officially signing his WWE contract. You’ll see that in the “top three developments from last week.”
Remembering James Harris AKA Kamala
The WWE family lost a valued member yesterday in James Harris, known mostly as the “Ugandan Giant” Kamala.
Harris started wrestling in 1978 and worked for various promotions throughout the years including Mid-South Wrestling, World Class Championship Wrestling, and World Championship Wrestling briefly at the beginning of the Monday Night Wars. In doing my research I was surprised to see he was once managed by Percy Pringle. Pringle later became Paul Bearer and famously managed the Undertaker, Kane, Mankind, and Vader in WWE. Ironically, Undertaker and Kamala had a casket match at Survivor Series in 1992. I remember Kamala being quite afraid of the large casket the Undertaker and Paul crafted especially for him. He had three different tenures in WWE (then the WWF) in the 80s and 90s and made sporadic appearances in the 2000s.
Harris had numerous health issues including high blood pressure and diabetes. This led to his left leg being amputated and eventually, the same fate befell upon his right leg. He became part of a class action lawsuit in which it was alleged that WWE hid the risks of traumatic brain injuries. Later, he suffered from breathing issues and was eventually unable to speak.
Several wrestlers and journalists have paid their respects on Twitter. Here is WWE, AEW, and WWE Hall of Famers Iron Sheik and Mick Foley just to highlight a few of those respects:
Look back at the memorable career of Kamala, "The Ugandan Giant," with these classic photos.https://t.co/tEqmciumam
— WWE (@WWE) August 10, 2020
— All Elite Wrestling (@AEWrestling) August 10, 2020
— The Iron Sheik (@the_ironsheik) August 10, 2020
I am so sorry to learn of the passing of James “Kamala” Harris. I wrestled him for 90 seconds in 1986, but the lesson he taught me that night about treating others with respect has never been forgotten. #RIPKamala https://t.co/fgIolg00aZ
— Mick Foley (@RealMickFoley) August 10, 2020
I remember Kamala fondly as he was around when I started watching wrestling. I have to say that I got a kick out of his gimmick which he worked incredibly well. It broke my heart to read about his health and financial troubles late in his life. May he rest in peace and his loved ones be comforted.
WWE YouTube Top 10 Moments from Last Week’s Show:
Top Three Developments from Last Week
Last week’s edition of Raw was interesting to say the least as it was the latest in WWE’s attempts to shake things up. We continue path to SummerSlam, which took further shape last week as two matches were announced, and another potential match could come to fruition tonight. Here are the top three developments from last week:
- Asuka challenged Sasha Banks to a Raw Women’s Championship match at SummerSlam.
- Shane McMahon returned to WWE television and introduced Raw Underground. By show’s end, it was “taken over” by the Hurt Business (MVP, Bobby Lashley, and Shelton Benjamin).
- Dominick Mysterio challenged Seth Rollins to a match at SummerSlam, which was accepted by Seth later. This followed an attempt to attack Raw announcer Tom Phillips by Seth and Murphy, which was thwarted by Samoa Joe. Dominick came out and attacked them with a kendo stick and delivered a 619 to Seth.
Items Advertised by WWE
- Kevin Owens goes one-on-one with Randy Orton
- Asuka faces Bayley with a SummerSlam opportunity hanging in the balance
- Who will fight in Raw Underground next?
- Retribution is coming to Raw
Kevin Owens vs. Randy Orton
Last week, Kevin Owens was quite the busy man on Raw. He facilitated a reunion between Ruby Riott and Liv Morgan, who with recently departed Sarah Logan were the Riott Squad. Ruby pleaded her case for the reunion to Liv on the Kevin Owens show, which was crashed by the IIconics (Peyton Royce & Billie Kay). Prior to the segment, the IIconics wanted the be the scheduled guests on the show, but Kevin said he already had Ruby and Liv planned. That said, Ruby & Liv defeated the IIconics in an impromptu match set up during the Kevin Owens show.
Later, Ric Flair bumped into Kevin backstage. He suggested he worry about his own career and not worry about others. He said he was taking a different path in his career instead of sacrificing friends as he had done in the past. Ric said if he was more worried about himself, maybe he’d have a title match at SummerSlam. Kevin then challenged Randy Orton to a match next week (tonight).
Later, it was confirmed that the match would take place. Kevin takes on Randy tonight, who will likely have Ric in his corner.
Frank’s Analysis: I like how Ric Flair came across and I like how Kevin sounded genuine (as he usually does, really), in explaining his motivation to help Ruby and Liv while still pursuing his goals. It should be a good match, but I worry about another garbage finish, something WWE seems to be addicted to these days.
Asuka vs. Smackdown Women’s Champion Bayley: SummerSlam Implications
Fresh off losing her Raw Women’s Championship to Sasha Banks, and seeing her close friend Kairi Sane depart WWE, Asuka asserted herself in another impromptu match set up between Shayna Baszler and Sasha. She attacked Bayley, who was in the corner of Sasha, and the ref called for the bell (yep, that’s what happened). She then challenged Sasha to a championship match at SummerSlam. Shayna said she’d be rooting for her to win, because she wants to dismember and take the title from her. Shayna earlier punched out Sasha to set up the impromptu match, showing babyface and heel tendencies in the same night.
Sasha and Bayley made their way back. Sasha said that Asuka could have a match at SummerSlam, but only if she beats a former NXT Champion and member of the Four Horsewomen. That turned out to be Bayley herself, who acted surprised. After facing each other numerous times in singles and tag team matches, Bayley and Asuka go at it one more time tonight.
Frank’s Analysis: I don’t mind Shayna being an anti-hero standalone character that’s neither a heel nor a babyface. She can be the one people cheer for in a match against Sasha, but root against in a match Asuka. While I typically like clear heels and babyfaces, some characters can be effective somewhere in the middle. I do mind having her show both sides in one night. Don’t go from punching out Sasha to telling Asuka you want to dismember her, and what’s with giving Shayna these awful lines?
I briefly spoke about this in the top three developments. Shane McMahon returned to WWE television after being “fired” last fall when he lost a match to Kevin Owens. He introduced a concept known as Raw Underground. It was somewhat of a seedy setting that had mixed martial arts type of fighting and dancing girls on a stage, as if we were back in the Attitude Era. Most have compared it to the movie Fight Club (which I never saw but I’ll take your word for it). That said, they showed fights involving prospect Babatunde, Erik of the Viking Raiders, and Dolph Ziggler whom Shane pointed out was a standout wrestler at Kent State University (remember when Shane beat Dolph in the World Cup tournament at Crown Jewel 2018).
The Hurt Business (MVP, Bobby Lashley, and Shelton Benjamin) arrived later and took over the “Underground.” They each took on and “defeated” men of their own. Shane closed out the show standing beside them and said to tune in next week, because anything goes. We’ll find out tonight where they take the newest concept on Raw.
Frank’s Analysis: It’s a different concept, but I wish they talked about it more ahead of time and not just sprung it on us. Who is involved? What’s the goal of competing in these fights? Are they telling us this is real therefore what we see in the traditional wrestling ring is not? We know it’s not real, but don’t tell us that. Let us suspend our disbelief and get immersed in the stories. I’m intrigued to see where this goes but concerned that they don’t really have a plan.
Retribution is Coming
After the primer come out last week, WWE posted that a stable was arriving on Raw. As the show unfolded, the lights flickered, and the arena even went dark at one point. Microphones were cutting on and off. I lights were flickering during the U.S. title match between Apollo Crews and MVP.
Later, a group of masked men dressed in black and face masks (like Akira Tozawa’s ninjas), threw Molotov cocktails at electrical equipment causing it to engulf in flames. Following the show going off the air, WWE.com acknowledged the new group as Retribution, but did not reveal the identity of the members. On Smackdown, the same issues arose with flickering lights and microphones, and the group appeared to close out the show. They chased Miz & John Morrison, Heavy Machinery, Michael Cole & Corey Graves away by swinging bats. They attacked the PC and NXT wrestlers behind the plexiglass, flipped over the announce table, and cut down the ropes with a chainsaw.
We’ll find out what’s next for this group, who still have not revealed their identities.
Frank’s Analysis: I get trying to make a splash, but I’m not sure doing something that nearly replicates the protests we’ve seen on TV recently is a good idea. Here’s a question for WWE. Are you going to have security standing by for men who destroyed property and, for all intents and purposes, tried to murder people with baseball bats? You sure wouldn’t want to invite these men to Raw tonight, now would you?
Other Match Results & Notable Segments from Last Week
- MVP, who lost a U.S. title match to Apollo Crews, challenged him to another match at SummerSlam. He cited flickering lights during their match as a distraction. Apollo accepted that challenge, and “retired” the previous iteration of the U.S. Championship belt.
- WWE Champion Drew McIntyre and his SummerSlam challenger Randy Orton had a face-to-face ahead of their title match. Randy revealed that contrary to popular belief, he comes out week in and week out because he loves what he does. Drew revealed that Randy was not there for him when he was struggling in his first tenure in WWE. He didn’t pass along knowledge like Undertaker, Shawn Michaels, Triple H, and Ric Flair before him, and wants to be like them and what Randy could have been. Here’s Drew talking a little smack on Twitter:
— Drew McIntyre (@DMcIntyreWWE) August 5, 2020
- WWE official Pat Buck suspended Nia Jax without pay following Nia giving him a Samoan drop two weeks ago. She was to apologize but said she wouldn’t do so unless Pat wrestled her.
- Akira Tozawa defeated Shelton Benjamin and R-Truth in a triple threat match to win the 24/7 Championship.
- Angel Garza defeated Angelo Dawkins of the Raw Tag Team Champion Street Profits. His partner Montez Ford passed out during the match. Ford then took on Andrade and wrestled to a no-contest when he passed out again. Later, Dawkins walked up to Andrade, Garza, Zelina Vega and said Ford may have been poisoned before the matches. Bianca Belair, Ford’s wife, confronted them and got into an altercation with Vega.
I’m not sure the things they’ve done are a way to draw viewers back to the program. For me, I’d be happy to see simple wrestling with stories that make sense, people winning that need to win, and buildups to the big matches. The problem is with Vince McMahon, this is sports entertainment to him, and a lot of things fit under that category. I don’t see a change anytime soon.
Follow Frank on Twitter @FrankPeteani. Questions and discussion are welcome! Thank you for reading.