SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
WWE MONDAY NIGHT RAW PRIMER
SEPTEMBER 20, 2021
RALEIGH, N.C. AT THE PNC ARENA
AIRS ON USA NETWORK, 8:00 p.m. EDT
BY FRANK PETEANI (@FrankPeteani), PWTORCH.COM CONTRIBUTOR
Announcers: Jimmy Smith, Byron Saxton, Corey Graves
Match Results from Last Week and Exclusives
- Raw Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair defeated Shayna Baszler in a non-title match.
- Drew McIntyre and the Viking Raiders (Erik & Ivar) defeated Jinder Mahal and Veer & Shanky.
- Damian Priest defeated Jeff Hardy to retain the U.S. Championship.
- Nikki ASH defeated Tamina. Rhea Ripley defeated Natalya. Natalya & Tamina are the reigning WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions.
- A.J. Styles & Omos and Mace & T-Bar defeated New Day (Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods) and Mansoor & Mustafa Ali.
- Doudrop defeated Eva Marie.
- Bobby Lashley defeated Randy Orton (Raw Tag Team Champion with Riddle in RKBro) to retain the WWE Championship. He attacked Randy and Riddle after the match and couldn’t put weight on his knee. Smackdown’s Big E subsequently cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase as advertised throughout the night and won the WWE Championship. It is his first reign. He’s now listed as a Raw wrestler.
WWE makes its first appearance in the PNC Arena in Raleigh, N.C. for the first time since May 29, 2018, when Smackdown emanated from the arena. That date is somewhat personal to me as that was the first show for which I wrote a primer for PWTorch.com. I am proud to have been a contributor since bringing you both the Raw and Smackdown primers and more recently, the VIP-exclusive podcast WWE Then and Now. That said, three matches and two talking segments have been announced for tonight. Here’s the video put out by WWE hyping the show:
Advertised Matches & Segments
New Day Celebration
WWE Champion Big E and New Day vs. The Bloodline (Universal Champion Roman Reigns and Smackdown Tag Team Champions Jimmy & Jey Uso)
In a battle of Raw vs. Smackdown so to speak, new WWE Champion and Raw roster member Big E reunites with his New Day partners Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods to take on the Bloodline of Roman Reigns and the Usos. So much has happened since last week to lead to this. Big E as I mentioned cashed in his Money in the Bank contract to defeated Bobby Lashley to win is first WWE Championship. He plans on celebrating with Kofi and Xavier presumably before they take on the Bloodline. This past Friday on Smackdown, Big E teamed with Finn Balor to defeat the Usos in a non-title match. Later, as Big E was flaunting his title to Paul Heyman in a backstage segment, he was attacked by the Usos. The six-man tag match was announced later in the show.
Assuming both men retain their championships, Big E and Roman Reigns will go one-on-one in the traditional champion vs. champion match at Survivor Series. The New Day and the Usos had a near-year long feud back in 2017 that culminated in a Hell in a Cell match. The teams have had a respectful comradery ever since.
WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship: Natalya & Tamina (champs) vs. Rhea Ripley & Nikki ASH
Because of picking up singles victories last week and a non-title tag team win a few weeks ago, Rhea Ripley & Nikki ASH will challenge Natalya & Tamina for the Women’s Tag Team Championship. Natalya & Tamina have been champions since WrestleMania but have lost several matches not just on Raw but on Smackdown to Shotzi & Nox. Rhea and Nikki were each both recently Raw Women’s Champion recently. Rhea defeated Asuka (remember her?) at WrestleMania while Nikki cashed in on Charlotte Flair to win the title.
U.S. Championship Opportunity: Jeff Hardy vs. Sheamus
Jeff Hardy takes on Sheamus for the right to be added to the U.S. Championship match at Extreme Rules where Sheamus is currently scheduled to challenge Damian Priest. Priest defeated Sheamus to win the title at SummerSlam and retained the title over Sheamus and Drew McIntyre in a triple threat match several weeks ago. He defeated Hardy last week. Hardy and Sheamus feuded for the majority of 2020 culminating in a cinematic Bar Fight. Sheamus defeated Drew a few weeks ago to earn the right to challenge Priest.
Raw Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair in Alexa’s Playground
After defeating Shayna Baszler in a non-title match last week, Charlotte Flair was confronted by Alexa Bliss. Alexa wanted to give a gift to Charlotte which she was reluctant to accept at first, but then gave in and opened what turned out to be a doll named “Charly,” a play on Charlotte. Alexa wanted Charlotte to have something to play with after she takes her title at Extreme Rules. Charlotte threw the doll at Alexa and then Alexa attacked Charlotte. Charlotte steps in Alexa’s Playground tonight, an invitation she rejected several weeks ago.
Charlotte and Alexa went one-on-one in the champion vs. champion match at Survivor Series 2017 when Charlotte was Smackdown champion and Alexa held the Raw title. Here’s Alexa on Twitter:
— Lexi Kaufman (@AlexaBliss_WWE) September 15, 2021
Frank’s Analysis: Before I discuss anything, this is another show that WWE has advertised a lot in advance including three matches. I like seeing that, but more importantly they need to stick to what’s advertised. Several weeks ago, they advertised three matches and none of them took place. Considering how often things change in WWE, it’s not a good look when that happens. That being said…
There’s a lot to unpack from last week. While I’m excited for Big E becoming the WWE Champion, I don’t like the way it was done. He’s a babyface pursuing his first championship. If you’re trying to build him up as a star of the future, it’s better if he wins a straight-out match that he “calls out” in advance with Money in the Bank the way Rob Van Dam did in 2006 when he announced he would face John Cena at One Night Stand. Bobby Lashley has been a protected act for a while now, and I understand trying to protect him in this situation. Well, if you’re not ready for Big E to defeat him in a fair match, then that tells me they’re not behind him as much as we think. I know they were competing against week one of Monday Night Football and AEW just beat them in the 18-49 demographic the week before. I understand why they did what they did, but in the long run in doesn’t do Big E any favors that he won in pretty much the same fashion a heel would win the title cashing in Money in the Bank. Perhaps if Big E beats Lashley in a fair match, maybe I’ll think differently. There’s a reason Big E was in a comedic and yes, successful faction for a long time and not given a big singles push. I’m not convinced, nor do I think WWE is convinced he could be a serious top-end act, which to me is why they had him win the title this way. It gives them an out and allows them to go back to Lashley if they want, which would not be good news for Big E. As usual, we’ll see what they do. I didn’t like how Lashley won the title, but they did a good job with him for the most part during his reign, so perhaps that’s their strategy with Big E. As far as the celebration with New Day, I have no comment. They’ve done those so many times it’s not worth predicting how things will play out.
The content in the Charlotte-Alexa feud isn’t for me, but their dynamic is interesting so I’m into how things play out. Jeff Hardy just lost a title match to Damian Priest last week, so why does he get a chance to wrestle for the title again? It just continues to prove the titles have very little value. Rhea and Nikki beating Natalya & Tamina, should that happen, means very little, considering how weak Natalya & Tamina have looked lately.
Follow Frank on Twitter @FrankPeteani. Thank you for reading!