SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
KELLER’S WWE RAW REPORT
OCTOBER 18, 2021
AIRED ON USA NETWORK
Commentators: Jimmy Smith, Byron Saxton, Corey Graves
-They opened with a view of the fans in the stands and the ring as Jimmy Smith introduced the show. He and Corey Graves hyped that Charlotte would be defending the Raw Title in her last night on Raw before moving to Smackdown.
-Charlotte made her ring entrance. Graves said it’s bittersweet that Charlotte is leaving Raw, and she could take the Raw Title with her. Then Byron Saxton plugged Becky Lynch defending the Smackdown Title at Crown Jewel against Bianca Belair and Sasha Banks. Charlotte insisted a ringside worker with a headset open the ropes for her. He did. Charlotte asked where her balloon and champagne were. She asked why fans weren’t chanting “Thank you, Charlotte!” and why the Raw wrestlers weren’t lined up on the stage to give her a proper sendoff. She said it’s bull crap that she has to wrestle a rookie tonight. She said there’s a conspiracy against her. She said Belair isn’t even on the Raw roster yet and she has two title opportunities this week. “And you people say that I’m entitled?” she said. She took issue with a “You suck!” chant. She pranced around the ring and said she wanted a fitting sendoff. She said Belair couldn’t beat her two weeks ago, “so Bianca, get your ass to the back of the line.” She said she can’t beat her this time, last time, next time, or anytime. She called her “sweetheart” and said she’ll find out how far she has to go before she’s at her level. She listed whom Belair has already defeated, but said “I’m the mountain you can’t climb.” Belair finally interrupted. She walked out twirling her braid.
Belair said there’s no conspiracy, but rather it’s “just deserts.” She said she’s done nothing but show she belongs there. She said she deserved the rematch. She said two weeks ago she had Charlotte beat fair and square before Big Time Becks saved her. She said she is literally throwing a temper tantrum because she has to defend her title before leaving Raw. She assured her it’s okay. She said regarding herself that whatever brand she is on, she always shines. She told Charlotte to take all the time she needs to say good bye to her title. She told Charlotte to dust herself off and keep her head up high. She said disappointments can be used to make herself stronger, rougher, tougher, “hell, maybe even a little bit kinder. You should try that.” Belair said she’s going to take the title with her to Crown Jewel and she’s going to walk out with the Raw Title on one arm and the Smackdown Title on the other hand. “Now, how’s that for a rookie, Charlotte?”
Charlotte charged at Belair and gave her a forearm. She went for a kick, but Belair ducked and set up a K.O.D. Belair then handspring kicked Charlotte off the ring apron. “Charlotte Flair now turning to the better part of valor,” said Smith as Charlotte began to retreat.
(Keller’s Analysis: I’m a big fan of the current approach Bianca Belair is taking as a babyface. Charlotte was fully committed to – and effective at – being unlikable here.)
-They showed a clip of Jinder Mahal beating Kofi Kingston last week on Raw.
-Backstage, Kofi was giving Xavier Woods a pep talk when Kevin Patrick approached him. Xavier said when he wins, he will be one step closer to following in the footsteps of kings who came before him like Mabel, Ken Shamrock, and Booker T. Kofi said everyone knows how important this is to Xavier. He said that’s why he’ll be at ringside to stop anyone from interfering. Xavier said he’s going to make a royal decree, which is appropriate for being in the home of the Sacramento Kings. He said this Thursday at Crown Jewel, he will be sitting on the throne as King Xavier Woods, “the first of his name.” Kofi started chanting, “Hail, King Woods!”
-Xavier made his ring entrance with Kofi. He played the trombone as they cut to a break. [c]
-A vignette advertised the pending arrival of Seth Rollins to Raw. Then the announcers hyped how stacked Raw’s new roster is. Graves mentioned Gable Steveson and Carmella.
(1) XAVIER WOODS (w/Kofi Kingston) vs. JINDER MAHAL (w/Veer, Shanky) – King of the Ring semi-finals match
They showed some members of the Sacramento Kings in the front row. Graves said the winner of this match will face Finn Balor at Crown Jewel. Smith said in a tournament, the worst thing you can do is look ahead to a future round. Jinder overpowered Xavier early and knocked him hard to the mat. Smith called him “Ginger Mahal.” A graphic hyped Drew McIntyre & Big E vs. Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode. Jinder backdropped Xavier who flew over the top rope and hit his head on the stairs as he fell to ringside. They cut to a break at 3:00. [c]
Jinder caught Xavier leaping off the top rope and landed a Khallas. Xavier grabbed the bottom rope to stop the ref’s count. Xavier fought back and tried again, this time landing a springboard elbowdrop for the clean three count. Xavier celebrated on the stage and held up a scepter and put on a robe. Kofi shook the robe frantically.
WINNER: Xavier in 8:00 to advance to the King of the Ring finals to face Finn Balor.
(Keller’s Analysis: Wait, did someone forget to cause a DISTRACTION leading to the finish? The match was nothing special, but just fine. I’m intrigued with the story they tell with Balor and Woods at Crown Jewel and if it involves a big angle of some kind with one of the key players.)
-The announcers commented on Austin Theory rolling up Jeff Hardy with a yank of Hardy’s pants to win last week.
-Backstage, they aired an interview from “earlier in the day” with Theory celebrating his win over Hardy when suddenly R-Truth and Reggie began fighting over the 24/7 Title. R-Truth said he didn’t know who Theory was, but said he “had a theory that he’s a theorist.” He said he has so much anger built up, so maybe he wants to take it out in the ring. Truth said he’d fight him later as long as he gets permission from his mommy. “Got him!” Truth said, very self-satisfied.
-Theory made his ring entrance. [c]
-A video package aired on Goldberg including Goldberg saying that what Bobby Lashley did to his son wasn’t an accident, so he’s going to break his neck, followed by Lashley saying he owes him an apology and he’ll give him the match he wants as long as it’s No Holds Barred, with Goldberg then saying that gives him a license to kill. Graves hyped that there’d be an interview with both of them later.
-Truth walked out and said he made a mistake and the challenge wasn’t against him, but his friend. Jeff Hardy’s music played. Theory just smiled.
(2) AUSTIN THEORY vs. JEFF HARDY
Smith asked if Hardy underestimated Theory last week. Graves said Hardy didn’t underestimate him, he was just ill-prepared. When Theory mocked Hardy’s arm gestures, Hardy rolled him up for a near fall. Theory rolled to the floor, then yanked Hardy off balance on the ring apron. He gave him a neckbreaker on the mat at ringside from the ring apron. They cut to a break at 2:00. [c]
Hardy was in control after the break. He dove into Theory at ringside and knocked him into the ringside barricade. Back in the ring, Hardy set up a Swanton, but Theory got up and knocked him off balance. Theory then caught Hardy with his finisher for a clean win. Graves asked, “Are you beginning to believe yet?” He said Theory has lofty aspirations and wants to be spoken of in the same vein as John Cena and Steve Austin. Theory grabbed his phone and took a selfie of himself next to Hardy. Hardy popped up and gave him a Twist of Fate. Hardy then took Theory’s phone and took a selfie with Theory wincing in pain. He showed off the photo to the Raw camera.
WINNER: Theory in 7:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: I don’t know if you get the full effect of a statement clean win by Theory if the segment ends with Hardy celebrating and his music playing. A wrestler should care if he loses more than Hardy seemed to. Can you imagine any sports situation where the loser celebrated a minute after losing because of a selfie he took? It’s not random or meaningless that Graves said Theory wants to reach the stature of Cena or Austin. Very few wrestlers get framed that way in their early appearances on Raw or Smackdown.)
-Drew McIntyre approached Big E backstage and said he knows the hit to the head last week wasn’t intentional, but how was he supposed to know that. He said someone hit him and he saw Big E there. “What’s a man to do but drop your ass with a Claymore,” he said. Big E told Drew that he threw fuel on the fire when he tagged himself in as he was about to hit the Claymore. Big E suggested that tonight they coexist. Drew called it a novel concept. Big E said at Crown Jewel, may the best man win. Drew said, “Don’t worry, I will.” Big E then introduced them on the mic with his usual routine. Drew smiled and flexed as Big E did it.
-As Big E made his ring entrance, Graves expressed skepticism they could peacefully coexist. [c]
-Backstage they showed Sonya Deville and Adam Pearce mid-conversation when Charlotte interrupted. She asked if they were coming up with more ways to screw her. Sonya said they were discussing their plans for the “Raw Season Premiere” next week. Charlotte complained about Belair disrespecting her by interrupting her farewell speech earlier. She said she smells a conspiracy. Sonya said the main event tonight is not a conspiracy. Charlotte said they can’t replace her with Belair because she will remain Raw Champion and also become Smackdown Champion.
(3) BIG E & DREW MCINTYRE vs. DOLPH ZIGGLER & ROBERT ROODE
Big E was in the ring all that time. Drew then made his full entrance with his sword named after his late mother, Angela. Big E took Ziggler down, then swiveled his hips and thrust them at Ziggler. He scored an early two count. Big E went for a splash on the ring apron a few minutes later on Roode, but Ziggler yanked him out of the path. Big E then threw Ziggler into the announce desk. Roode then threw Big E into the ringside steps. [c]
After the break, Ziggler put Big E in a sleeper. Big E reached for a tag. Drew was close, but then pulled away and walked over to Roode who was lurking toward interfering. Graves said Drew was trying to avoid being in the match given the stakes on Thursday. Roode showed off with some push-ups in the ring after scoring a two count on Big E. Eventually Drew got the hot tag and threw Roode around the ring. Smith said Drew looks like someone who wants to win tonight and isn’t thinking about Thursday. He kipped up and then flap-jacked Ziggler onto Roode mid-ring. Roode shoved Drew nearly into Big E on the ring apron. Ziggler yanked Big E to the floor. Roode then came up behind Drew and gave him a spinebuster for a two count. Ziggler hit a Fameasser to the back of Drew’s neck for a two count. Graves said it’s basically a two-on-one match with Big E out at ringside. Drew gave Roode a headbutt. Big E climbed back onto the ring apron and offered to tag in. Drew tagged him. Big E then gave Roode a Big Ending for the clean win.
WINNERS: Big E & McIntyre in 9:00.
-Afterward, the ref raised Big E’s arm. Drew entered the ring and shoved him, but then offered a handshake. Big E accepted. Saxton said they were showing mutual respect. Big E said he’d see him on Thursday. As Drew turned to leave, Big E spun him around like Drew did to him. Drew said they’re the same age and he’s wanted to be champion for 20 years. Big E said he can’t wait.
(Keller’s Analysis: Both guys here came across better than last week. They were professional and reasonable, but also aiming to win on Thursday.)
-The Street Profits were backstage all hyped up, discussing how they’re putting the tag team division on notice. Ford said they’re ready for WWE Crown Jewel. He said what has sparked their interest is RKBro vs. A.J. Styles & Omos. They talked up Omos as the guy who does all the work on the school project and Styles as the guy who takes advantage of him. Styles and Omos walked in. Styles said they’ve tried to bring dignity to the Raw Tag Team Division, but then “these two dorks showed up to Raw.” Omos said Raw is his house. Styles said, “Wait a second, it’s our house.” He said they’re looking at the next Raw Tag Team Champions after Thursday. The Profits said they want the smoke. Styles said their name is ironic because they don’t know what’s going to happen next. He said it’s a dumb name, too
(Keller’s Analysis: It’s no accident seeds were planted there by the Profits that Omos is doing all the work in his team with Styles. Of course, the opposite is true, but storyline-wise, they’re laying the foundation that Styles is taking advantage of Omos.)
-Mansoor made his entrance. [c]
-A vignette aired on Kevin Owens coming to Raw.
-A clip aired of Mustafa Ali breaking up with Mansoor last week and attacking him backstage during an interview segment.
(4) MANSOOR vs. CEDRIC ALEXANDER (w/Shelton Benjamin)
Cedric took control early. A graphic advertised Finn Balor vs. Mace later. Mansoor made a comeback at 3:00 and landed a leaping neckbreaker over the top rope for a clean win.
WINNER: Mansoor in 3:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: That’s four clean finishes in four matches in a row. What’s going on?)
-Mustafa Ali walked out and accused Mansoor of “smiling like some damn fanboy.” He said it’s pathetic, so this Thursday in his hometown he’s going to wipe that smile off his face. He said he’ll wipe the smile off of everyone’s face who shows up to support him. Mansoor yelled back, “Ali, for once would you shut the hell up!” He said for once he should listen to him. He called him a piece of trash. He said he’s not smiling now, but after he beats him senseless at Crown Jewel he’ll be smiling ear to ear. He told Ali that he will show the world that he is a pathetic cowardly sorry excuse for a man. He then spoke in his native language to close the segment. Ali looked shaken. Saxton said Ali has to be wondering what he created.
-Graves plugged a “dueling interview” between Goldberg and Lashley. [c]
-They showed a clip of WWE wrestlers on “Top Chef” on Peacock.
-They went to the announcers at ringside. Smith said Goldberg and Lashley have to be in separate places “for obvious reasons.” Graves asked Goldberg about his threats. Goldberg said threats are something you might do, but what he’s doing is tell people what he will do. Lashley said what Goldberg is doing is criminal. He said he could call the authorities and have him apprehended for threatening his life. He said that’s now how he does business. He said he is untouchable and he’ll show that on Thursday. He said he won’t have any family members to fight his battles. He asked how his son feels about this.
Goldberg interrupted and said he should choose his words carefully, because the more he talks about his family, the more he’ll make him suffer. He said in 48 hours, “your ass is mine and there isn’t a damn thing you can do about it.” Lashley said he can’t kill the All Mighty, he can only hope to survive. He said on Thursday, he won’t be thanking the heavens, he’ll be on his knees begging him for forgiveness. Goldberg asked if he actually believes that crap. Lashley said before, he fought him with restrictions, but No Holds Barred means there is nothing that can stop him at Crown Jewel. Lashley yanked off his earpiece. Goldberg said, “Safe travels, Kill you on Thursday, Bobby. Kaw ha!”
-They aired a clip of Omos destroying Riddle last week, with Styles encouraging even more of a beating before Randy Orton came out for the save.
-Backstage, Riddle told Orton he was so convincing that he didn’t have a plan with him that he could win an Oscar “or, better yet, a Kids’ Choice Award.” He said deep in his heart he knew he had a plan all along. An exasperated Orton said, “For the love of god, Riddle, there was never a plan.” Riddle said he’s totally believable when he says that. Riddle asked what tricks he has up his sleeve for the Street Profits tonight. Orton asked if he’s sure he wants to know the plan. Riddle said with all his heart. Orton said the plan is go to the ring and win, and then they’ll go to the ring at Crown Jewel and win. Orton asked if he wants the smoke. “Oh, I want the smoke!” Riddle said with enthusiasm. They turned to head to the ring. [c]
-A vignette aired on Keith “Bearcat” Lee. Graves said he’s clawing his way to Raw next week.
(5) RIDDLE & RANDY ORTON vs. THE STREET PROFITS
The Street Profits made their entrance. Saxton said he missed when it rains red Solo cups on Raw. Riddle and Ford battled early. Orton yanked Dawkins to the floor by his boots from ringside. Riddle then landed a corkscrew dive. Ford then landed a running flip dive onto Riddle and Orton. They cut to a break at 3:00. [c]
Back from the break, Riddle was in control against Ford. Riddle spun Ford around. “Someone get an air sick bag,” said Graves. Saxton said he was starting to feel a little queasy. Riddle settled into a chinlock. Dawkins got a hot-tag and powerslammed Riddle followed by an underhook neckbreaker for a two count. Riddle came back with a ripcord knee. Orton then tagged in and went after Ford, landing a snap powerslam. Ford retreated to the ring apron. Orton set up a draping DDT, milked the moment, then delivered it. Orton pounded the mat to signal for the RKO. Then, no surprise, the theme for Styles played, but Omos walked out onto the stage. Styles then caught Orton from behind by surprise with a Phenomenal Forearm. Omos chokeslammed Riddle on the ring apron.
WINNERS: No contest.
-Omos then beat up Ford, giving a military press and drop. Styles and Omos celebrated afterward. Omos waited for Orton to stand, then gave him a high roundkick. Smith asked who has ever leveled Orton like that. “No one,” he said, answering his own question.
-A vignette aired advertising the pending arrival of Becky Lynch next week to the Raw roster.
-Shayna Baszler made her ring entrance. [c]
(6) SHAYNA BASZLER vs. DOUDROP – Queen’s Crown Tournament semi-finals
During Doudrop’s ring entrance, an inset interview aired with her saying she knows that Baszler is dangerous, but she’s also insecure and bullies people because she thinks she can get away with it. As the match was about to begin, Zelina Vega came out to her music. Smith said that’s the definition of an “interested observer.” She put on the Queen’s crown and robe on the stage. Smith asked if Graves thinks it’s bad luck to touch the crown before winning it, criticism he had for Xavier earlier. Graves said he’d make an exception for Vega. Doudrop landed a cannonball in the corner, then went for a slam, but Baszler slipped on a Kirafuda Clutch. Graves said people don’t escape that move. Doudrop backed Baszler into the corner turnbuckle and then tossed Baszler off of her. She went for a running crossbody, but Baszler moved and then applied another Kirafuda. Doupdrop rolled over toward the bottom rope, but Baszler pulled her back to mid-ring. Doudrop tried to power out, but then leaned back and leveraged Baszler’s shoulders down for the three count.
WINNER: Doudrop in 5:00 to advance to the Queen’s Crown Tournament final.
(Keller’s Analysis: It seems WWE became suddenly self-conscious of the lame finishes they’ve been repeating. That’s five out of six matches with clean finishes, and no distraction finishes.)
-Doudrop and Vega exchanged words on the stage.
-Nikki A.S.H. and Rhea Ripley approached Bianca Belair backstage. She wished her luck and welcomed her to the Monday Night Raw family. Ripley backed her up. Belair put on a Raw cap and said no one will get in her way of giving Charlotte a proper farewell tonight. “I’ve got this,” she said as she struggled, with a smile, to get the Raw baseball cap on her head and braid securely. [c]
-Finn Balor made his ring entrance. Graves said Balor is James Dean cool and John Wayne tough. Balor pointed at the King’s crown as he walked by it.
-Smith hyped the “season debut next Monday.” Graves said, “You’re so excited, you called it the wrong thing, Jimmy. It’s the season premiere. That’s what we do on Monday Night Raw.” They showed the collage of wrestlers’ faces who are part of the remade Raw roster. [c]
(7) MACE vs. FINN BALOR
The tail end of Mace’s ring entrance aired. Graves said Balor is the type of wrestler who likes to stay sharp by staying active. Mace twisted Balor’s head and stared into the hard camera seconds into the match. (It’s so corny when wrestlers look directly at the hard camera and mean-face the hard cam.) They showed Xavier sitting on the throne with the cape and crown on the stage. Smith asked if it was a good idea for Balor to fight just days before the King of the Ring final. Graves said Balor has always done things his way, but it might not work in his favor. Balor came back with a slingblade and a Coup de Grace for the win. After the match, Balor and Xavier exchanged words. When they almost came to blows, Kingston stepped out and told Balor to watch himself. Xavier kept talking, saying Balor will stay a prince.
WINNER: Balor in 3:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Mace didn’t get to show much there, and if they have any plans for him to be given some sort of a push, that quick loss worked against that plan.)
-They cut to John Morrison who was meditating. The Viking Raiders walked up to him and asked what he was doing. Morrison popped up and spun around and said he’s on a journey in search of his wandering chi, the mystical force that is at the center of all life. He smiled and said he’s so close. The Raiders asked if, when he finds the chi, if it will help him raid. Morrison said perhaps, but mostly it will share his inner most thoughts with the rest of the world. The Raiders asked what good chi is if not to raid. Morrison dropped back into meditation position.
-Belair made her ring entrance. [c]
-The announcers hyped the Crown Jewel line-up.
(Keller’s Analysis: There was a big dropoff in mentions of Saudi Arabia as the host country tonight compared to Smackdown on Friday.)
(8) CHARLOTTE FLAIR vs. BIANCA BELAIR – Raw Women’s Title match
Charlotte made her entrance. Graves reiterated that Charlotte is upset she didn’t get more fanfare for her farewell night on Raw. They did formal ring introductions. After a couple minutes of back and forth action, they cut to a break after Belair lifted her knees on a Charlotte moonsault attempt. [c]
They showed a clip from during the break of Charlotte throwing Belair into the announce table. Saxton said that made Belair realize she had to increase her intensity. Charlotte was bleeding from her mouth by this point. Charlotte stepped on Belair, then climbed to the top rope. She went for a moonsault, but Belair moved, so Charlotte did a standing moonsault instead. She scored a two count, then sat up and checked on her teeth and mouth. Belair landed a spinebuster. Charlotte scuried to the floor. Belair went after he and threw her back into the ring. Charlotte retreated immediately to ringside again. Belair went after her at ringside. Belair threw Charlotte over the announce table. Graves said, “Turnabout’s fair play.” Belair returned to the ring as Charlotte recovered at ringside. [c]
Graves said the battle of wills continues. Belair climbed to the top rope, but Charlotte punched her to the floor. Charlotte leaped off the top rope with a moonsault which led to her forearm grazing Belair’s chest, which was characterized as right on target by Graves and worthy of a slo-mo replay. Belair came back in the ring with a face plant and a two count. She set up a K.O.D., but Charlotte escaped and snapped Belair’s neck over the top rope. They countered each other a few times, ending with Charlotte hitting a spear for a near fall. Charlotte set up a top rope moonsault a minute later, but Belair moved and then back suplexed her for a believable near fall. Both were slow to get up. Belair climbed to the top rope, but Charlotte knocked her off balance. Charlotte then went for a top rope suplex. Belair blocked it and went for a top rope sunset bomb. She landed it and scored a believable near fall. Charlotte jabbed Belair in the chest with a chair. The ref DQ’d her. Belair then bashed Charlotte with the chair.
WINNER: Belair via DQ in 22:00 so Charlotte retained the title.
(Keller’s Analysis: Good match, disappointing DQ finish.)