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STOUP’S ALTERNATE PERSPECTIVE WWE MONDAY NIGHT RAW REPORT
OCTOBER 18, 2021
SACRAMENTO, CALIF. AT GOLDEN 1 CENTER
AIRED ON USA NETWORK
Commentators: Corey Graves, Byron Saxton, Jimmy Smith
Tonight after the show, join Wade Keller with guest co-host Cameron Hawkins from the PWTorch East Coast Cast to break down the show with live callers and e-mails.
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-5 minutes before the hour, Byron Saxton plugged both tournament finals as well as Bianca Belair vs. Charlotte Flair.
-Jimmy Smith welcomed viewers to the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California, and pitched to Corey Graves to narrate hype footage for Bianca Belair vs. Charlotte Flair. Flair made her entrance as Graves lamented that she’s been drafted to SmackDown and this is her final Raw appearance before that takes effect. Flair smiled wide in a center ring spotlight and sarcastically asked where her blowout farewell party is. She called having to defend her Raw Women’s Championship against “flash-in-the-pan” Belair on such an occasion “bullcrap.” She retorted to derisive chants, “Excuse me; I suck? Sit down. Listen.” She complained about Belair’s multiple title shots this week and demanded, “You want to talk about favoritism?” Belair made her way to the stage, dancing to her music, as Flair was launching into a recounting of her accomplishments. Belair said her title match against Flair isn’t favoritism, it’s “justice served.” Condescending to Flair as she entered the ring, she said, “Baby, it’s okay,” then yet again used the “Mean Girls” line she first used against Flair in NXT. Belair suggested Flair should look at this as an opportunity to make herself rougher, tougher, and “maybe a little bit kinder.” Charlotte took off her heels and went for a big boot, which Belair caught in a KOD setup. Flair wriggled free and cleared out, demanding fans not touch her as Belair danced in the ring.
(Stoup’s analysis: For many reasons have I loved seeing NXT standout Belair rise to belonging right next to “women’s revolution” stars, and the unspoken history between these top acts may help longtime fans feel as though this main event has more significance than just the intrigue of where the branded belts will land when the draft takes effect. She could really stand to drop the “You don’t even go here” line, though. It was brilliant at first, welcome upon callback, but now feels forced and borderline out-of-context.)
-A recap of Jinder Mahal and Xavier Woods advancing in King of the Ring last week played.
-Xavier Woods was interviewed by Kevin Patrick backstage. He said he wants to follow in the lineage of King Mabel, King Shamrock, and King Booker. Kofi Kingston joined in and said he’ll be watching Woods’ back so Shanky and Veer don’t interfere on Jinder Mahal’s behalf. Woods name-dropped the Sacramento Kings and pledged to fulfill his destiny by sitting on the throne as “King Woods – the first of his name.” Woods made his entrance with Kingston. [c]
-A package on Seth Rollins’ main roster career accomplishments played, advertising that Rollins is on the Raw roster starting after Crown Jewel. A graphic of the Raw roster was shown as Corey Graves said Raw will be better than ever.
-Players from the Sacramento Kings were shown at ringside as Jinder Mahal made his entrance and the King of the Ring brackets were shown with Finn Balor already in the finals.
(1) Jinder Mahal (with Shanky & Veer) vs. Xavier Woods (with Kofi Kingston) – King of the Ring Semifinal Match
The wrestlers felt each other out and delivered punches in opposite corners before Woods collected the first near fall. Corey Graves reminded us that winning King of the Ring has been a dream of Woods’ since childhood. Woods eked out a roll-up counter off the second turnbuckle for two before Mahal dumped him from the ring. [c]
Mahal achieved two off a gut buster, then forced Woods to fight out from the Khallas. Woods needed to clear Shanky from the apron as he climbed the turnbuckle, which was enough of a distraction to allow Mahal to catch the top rope axe handle in a Khallas. The believable finish was broken when Woods grabbed the bottom rope. Woods elbowed Mahal from the top turnbuckle, then hit a springboard elbow for three to qualify for the King of the Ring finals.
WINNER: Xavier Woods in 10:01.
-Woods donned the robe and shouted “Yes” as he held the sceptre high on the stage while Corey Graves said Finn Balor “covets the crown.”
(Stoup’s analysis: It’s stating the obvious to say Woods has fans on his side with his genuine childhood dream story, so especially at a Crown Jewel event and especially against such a perpetually dull back-burner act as Balor he feels like the only way to go.)
-A recap of Austin Theory’s win over Jeff Hardy last week was shown.
-Sarah Schreiber tried to interview Austin Theory about his win, but it was interrupted when the 24/7 division charged through chasing Reggie. Theory asked R-Truth if Truth knows who he is. Truth said, “I have a theory.” Truth accepted Theory’s challenge for a match and said it was under one condition: that Theory “gets permission from [his] mommy to stay up late. Got ‘im!”
-Theory made his entrance. [c]
-Jimmy Smith pitched to a package looking back on the Goldberg vs. Bobby Lashley feud to date, then Corey Graves announced a “no holds barred interview” between the wrestlers for tonight.
-R-Truth came out to say “My bad,” but he didn’t actually accept Austin Theory’s challenge for himself; he accepted it on behalf of his friend. Jeff Hardy entered to a fair pop.
(2) Jeff Hardy vs. Austin Theory
The wrestlers tied up, and Theory mocked Hardy’s signature dance. Theory escaped back-to-back roll-up attempts by Hardy, then delivered a neckbreaker to the floor from the apron. Graves insisted, “Hardy’s done!” [c]
After a “Spin the Wheel, Make the Deal”-focused spot for NXT’s upcoming Halloween Havoc event, Jimmy Smith called Austin Theory’s offense “frightening.” Hardy nabbed two off a running splash, then nailed Theory with a low dropkick to the outside. He hit Poetry in Motion – not called as such – off the ring steps and into the barricade, but was then crotched as he climbed up for a Swanton. Theory snatched his reeling opponent in a fireman’s carry from the top and dropped him for the win. As Theory took a Tyler Breeze-like selfie with the felled Hardy, Corey Graves said Theory wants to be considered alongside names like John Cena and Steve Austin. Hardy rose to deliver a post-match Twist of Fate, then took a goofy-faced selfie with Theory’s phone that mimicked the one Theory had taken with him.
WINNER: Austin Theory in ~8:00
(Stoup’s analysis: I’m almost concerned they’re making the top guy comparisons out loud, but with Theory being heel – particularly with his currently twerpy act – there’s likely little harm. Such potential has been evident for some time, and was perpetuated with Theory’s recent “Ruthless Aggression”-style reintroduction to the main roster.)
-A recap of Big E & Drew McIntyre’s miscommunication last week was shown.
-Big E was warming up at the curtain as Drew McIntyre approached and admitted he knew the contact between them hadn’t been intentional but he “saw red,” and “what’s a man to do?” Big E accepted his part of the blame and suggested that tonight the two of them try to coexist. McIntyre agreed, “Novel concept.” Big E said “At Crown Jewel, may the best man win,” then picked up a mic and commenced his signature entrance. Commentary said the pair would be facing the Dirty Dawgz after the break. [c]
(Stoup’s analysis: The earliest phases of Big E’s overdue title run were marked by hallmarks only allowed to the tippiest of the toppiest – for example his heavily promoted rematch with Bobby Lashley was used as a confident hook and ended with a Cena-like avalanche version of his finish – but this feud feud feels like an obligatory pre-draft split speedbump for both E and McIntyre. At least they’re being true to their respective characters.)
-Charlotte Flair confronted Sonya Deville and Adam Pearce backstage, reiterating her complaints from her opening promo. She repeated that she feels there is a conspiracy in place.
(Stoup’s analysis: They seemed directed to hit “conspiracy” as much as reasonably possible. Flair inheriting that bit from Sami Zayn after the draft split, perhaps?)
-Another hype video for the Bianca Belair vs. Charlotte Flair main event was shown.
-Drew McIntyre made his entrance as Corey Graves hyped his match against Big E at Crown Jewel this Thursday. Jimmy Smith worried that McIntyre’s “frightening” sword named Angela “could cut a man in half.”
-A recap of Big E & Drew McIntyre vs. The Dirty Dawgz from two weeks ago was shown as Robert Roode and Dolph Ziggler made their entrance.
(3) Big E & Drew McIntyre vs. The Dirty Dawgz (Robert Roode & Dolph Ziggler)
Big E and Ziggler locked up to start, and E easily threw Ziggler to the mat. E gyrated his hips, which Ziggler reciprocated while shouting “I do this!” E tagged McIntyre and exclaimed with a grin, “For you, Bob” before chopping Ziggler. Roode tagged in and punched McIntyre while yelling to the crowd, “I’m Big Bob!” McIntyre suplexed Roode for two. McIntyre tagged E – the two making sure to express their great level of coexistence – and E began to make easy work of Roode. On the outside Ziggler tried to deliver a Famouser to E but was sent flying over the barricade. Roode got the better of the situation and sent E into the stairs. [c]
Big E was kicking out after a (replayed) dropkick from Ziggler back from break, and Jimmy Smith observed E is “wearing down.” Corey Graves indicted, “If McIntyre wanted to help Big E, McIntyre would help Big E” while lauding the Dawgz as seasoned veterans. Roode tagged in and showed off with push-ups. Graves said Roode hasn’t had a carb in four months. Ziggler tagged in to work on E in the corner, but E broke out for the hot tag to his Crown Jewel challenger. McIntyre dominated both opponents and Alabama slammed Ziggler onto Roode. Ziggler yanked E from the apron. The tactic caught McIntyre’s attention which allowed Roode to get the better of the Scot. Roode lifted Ziggler into an assisted Famouser for a near fall on the legal babyface. Big E mounted the apron once more looking fresh, and got the tag. He hoisted Roode for a Big Ending, and turned to McIntyre. Subverting the scene of their prior failures McIntyre signaled his permission to finish it, which Big E did.
WINNERS: Big E & Drew McIntyre in ~12:30.
-After the match the babyfaces postured and jawed, but kept it to words.
-The Street Profits were shown backstage, hyping Crown Jewel – and how to watch it – to camera. Montez Ford chanted “RKBro” at Angelo Dawkins and said Orton and Riddle would be facing Omos and AJ Styles. Omos and Styles entered. Styles said, “It sure it smokey in here” before pointing out to the Profits that you can’t do that in a bathroom. Omos said Raw is his house, and Styles said no one cares about SmackDown. Styles said if the Profits “put a hurting” on RKBro they can move to the top of the tag title challenger list. The Profits declined and exited upon stating their catchphrase. Styles said to Omos, “Isn’t it weird that they’re called the ‘Street Profits’, like prophets, when they don’t know what’s about to happen to them? It’s a dumb name, too.”
(Stoup’s analysis: The Profits were too good to be playing spokespeople when they were first cast that way, and it’s disappointing to see them still in the role. Styles’ signature clueless bully humor still hits.)
-Mansoor made his entrance. [c]
-A video recounting Kevin Owens’ main roster career accomplishments played, promoting Owens moving to Raw after Crown Jewel.
-A replay of Mustafa Ali dressing down and beating down Mansoor last week was shown as Cedric Alexander made his entrance with Shelton Benjamin in Hurt Business merchandise.
(4) Cedric Alexander (with Shelton Benjamin) vs. Mansoor
The wrestlers tied up, then Mansoor hit a standing moonsault for an early two. Alexander hurled Mansoor with an impressive release suplex before starting in with punches. He pounded Mansoor to the canvas and into a near fall. Mansoor fought to his feet in a chinlock, and flipped out of another suplex attempt. He knocked Alexander loopy with a pele kick, then hit two neckbreaker variations including a slingshot for the victory.
WINNER: Mansoor in 3:53
Mustafa Ali interrupted Mansoor’s celebration, incredulous Mansoor could possibly be smiling after everything said to him last week. He said at Crown Jewel he’s going to wipe the smile off Mansoor’s face, and off all the fans’ faces. Mansoor called Ali a “piece of trash” and threatened, “do you see a smile on my face now?” He closed by speaking Arabic.
(Stoup’s analysis: Odd non-restart for the Hurt Business aside, this was classic face/heel stuff from Ali and Mansoor. Mansoor’s “do you see a smile on my face” response takes the simple approach from Ali and makes money with it. Even today, sometimes that simplicity is all you need to sell a showdown.)
-Corey Graves said the “no holds barred interview” would be next. [c]
-A commercial for a WWE/Top Chef crossover was aired.
-Goldberg and Bobby Lashley were shown on split screen. Jimmy Smith began a question that was interrupted by Goldberg, who dismissed Lashley’s threats. Lashley said he’s liable to call the authorities on Goldberg, then asked, “How does your son feel about this?” Goldberg said there’s nothing Lashley can do about what’s going to happen on Thursday. Lashley replied, “Until this point you’ve fought Bobby Lashley with restrictions.” Goldberg sarcastically wished Lashley safe travels as Lashley took out his earpiece and left. He closed by yelling at camera.
(Stoup’s analysis: I’ve said over and over that for as eye-rolling as Goldberg’s constant reintegration always sounds, his genuine-sounding promos have continued to win me over. Well, this split-screen interview style where commentary asks half a question and the wrestlers read scripts for 90 seconds has never worked for me, and it certainly didn’t work for Goldberg. Without the crowd to feed off, Goldberg’s delivery felt even more overwrought than usual, contrasted by his eyes being so nearly closed the right freeze frame might make him look unconscious.)
-A replay of Omos defeating Riddle and Randy Orton RKOing AJ Styles last week was shown.
-Riddle was talking Orton’s ear off at curtain, saying one day maybe they can win a Kids’ Choice Award. Orton insisted he never had a plan to save Riddle last week, but Riddle didn’t believe him and tried to make a plan to put Omos through a table. Riddle said the Street Profits saying they “want the smoke” gives him “a ton of ideas.” Orton said the plan is to win, and the duo made their entrance. [c]
-Another NXT Halloween Havoc spot played.
-A hype video for Keith “Bearcat” Lee “clawing his way to the season premiere” of Raw next week was shown.
(Stoup’s analysis: Wasn’t Lee already on Raw? Well, as much on any show as Lee could have been of late. Either way, nice for him to be selected for one of these packages, but I’ll believe a push when I see it.)
(5) RKBro (Randy Orton & Riddle) vs. Street Profits (Angelo Dawkins & Montez Ford)
Ford and Riddle kicked things off as Riddle dropped behind Ford’s lock-up to try for an armbar. Ford turned it into a pinning predicament and the two separated. At another lock-up, this time Ford went behind and grabbed a headlock. Dawkins tagged in with a dropkick and the Profits hit a team maneuver on Riddle for two. Riddle flipped out of a team suplex and Orton dragged Dawkins from the ring. Riddle soccer-kicked Dawkins as Orton held him in place, then Ford flipped over the top rope to take out RKBro. [c]
-The crossover segment launched with Orton escaping a sunset flip by Ford, then clotheslining Ford and tagging out. Riddle spun Ford repeatedly and gutwrenched him over. Ford acted dizzy and counted his own fingers. Riddle worked a headlock on his side of the ring as Ford reached for Dawkins. Ford elbowed out and hit a pele which Graves called “to the ear.” A tag to Dawkins led us to the hour mark as Dawkins knocked Orton from the apron, slammed Riddle, then delivered a modified neckbreaker for two. Riddle nailed a ripcord knee and a double tag brought us to the hour.
-Orton began hitting his signatures with gusto but as he positioned for the RKO, Omos entered to his music. AJ Styles appeared from behind the Viper and hit a Phenomenal Forearm. Omos caught Riddle and slammed him on the apron, then lifted Ford and dropped him to the mat. Omos beckoned the weary Orton and worked a kicked toward his victim. Jimmy Smith said no one has been able to take out Orton like that before.
WINNERS: RKBro via DQ in 10:26
(Stoup’s analysis: I’m a major proponent of Orton’s wise ring style, but Riddle and the Profits were the stars here. While it lasted, this was the best pure action we’d seen to this point in the show – for what pure action’s worth.)
-A video promoting Becky Lynch’s move to Raw aired.
-Shayna Baszler entered ahead of her Queen’s Crown semifinals match. [c]
-A general NXT ad played.
(Stoup’s analysis: It seems they’ve moved past the overt sex appeal ads of the past two weeks, which is swell, but these spots aren’t going to make any further impression if they aren’t more integrated into the main show like, say, the Top Chef ad.)
-A graphic of Stephanie McMahon’s Instagram was shown, as WWE has sent a custom championship to the Chicago Sky.
-Jimmy Smith said underestimating Doudrop is a mistake before an inset “Queen Doudrop” promo accompanied Doudrop’s entrance. Queen’s Crown finalist Zelina Vega entered before the bell to watch the match from the throne while wearing the crown and robe. Smith called it bad luck.
(6) Shayna Baszler vs. Doudrop – Queen’s Crown Semifinal Match
Doudrop threw Baszler about the ring, but Baszler began kicking at Doudrop’s legs to “chop her down” according to Jimmy Smith who credited Baszler’s tactics to Marco Ruas. Doudrop rallied but Baszler cannonballed her then backpacked into her Kirifuda Clutch. Much was made by commentary as Doudrop fought out, but Baszler caught the hold once more. Graves was saying it’s done as Doudrop began fighting out. Doudrop stayed alive long enough to lean back onto Baszler for three.
WINNER: Doudrop in 2:46
(Stoup’s analysis: The Queen’s Crown matches have been woefully brief, yes, but they’ve given a good amount of character development to their participants. Doudrop and Zelina are arguably the included wrestlers who could do the most with a “queen” gimmick should it be run with, and – even though I expected a Naomi distraction – Baszler’s go-to leveraged-during-the-Kirifuda finish is in this case a relatively agreeable way to give her an excuse as she stays home from a country she wasn’t going to go to anyway.)
-Backstage, Nikki ASH and Rhea Ripley wished Bianca Belair luck in her forthcoming match and welcomed her to Raw. Belair said nothing would get in her way of giving Charlotte Flair the proper farewell.
-The Bianca Belair vs. Charlotte Flair hype video was shown once more.
-Finn Balor entered, and Jimmy Smith said he cannot wait for Balor to officially be on Raw. The new Raw roster graphic was shown again. Byron Saxton said Balor will face Mace next. [c]
-Xavier Woods was shown watching Balor from the throne, decked out in the King outfit, as commentary pitched to a “Halloween Kills” spot. We then joined Mace’s entrance in-progress.
(Stoup’s analysis: I get the criticism surrounding David Gordon Green’s “Halloween Kills”, though I was impressed by the strength with which it reestablishes the uncaring force Michael Myers is.)
(7) Finn Balor vs. Mace
Mace exploded into Balor as Saxton said the big man is looking for “momentum” on his way to SmackDown. Mace cranked at Balor’s head, and peppered him in one corner then another. He hit a tilt-a-whirl slam for two before Balor saw his first offense. Balor kicked at Mace and hit a double foot-stomp, then a slingblade. He climbed the turnbuckle and hit the coup de grâce for the win.
WINNER: Finn Balor in ~3:00
(Stoup’s analysis: Mace didn’t look his best. Maybe I’m too stuck on his “Sultan of Sit” gimmick from NXT house shows, but being Retribution’s leftovers still feels like a mismatch for the once promising performer.)
-As Corey Graves was lauding the respect Balor and Woods have for one another, Balor tore the sceptre from Woods and Kofi Kingston trotted out to keep the wrestlers apart as they jawed.
-John Morrison was meditating backstage, and the confused Viking Raiders asked him if meditating helps him raid. Morrison said he wants to share his chi with the world.
(Stoup’s analysis: Looked more like moping than meditating.)
-Bianca Belair danced her way to the ring to her music. [c]
-Another spot for WWE’s Top Chef crossover was shown.
-Byron Saxton thanked The Weeknd for “Take My Breath” – the 2021 Crown Jewel theme. As the song played, commentary narrated the event’s match graphics prior to Charlotte Flair’s entrance and formal ring introductions.
(Stoup’s analysis: More major promotion for Edge vs. Seth Rollins in Hell in a Cell feels like it’s missing, but with the main event commencing as 22 minutes remain we may be heading for a significant Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns sell to take us off.)
(8) Bianca Belair vs. Charlotte Flair – Raw Women’s Championship Match
The wrestlers found themselves evenly matched to start, and performed twin kip-ups before taunting. Charlotte caught a good boot as Belair charged her in the corner, then began stomping away. Charlotte pulled Belair from the ring and tossed her over the commentary desk. [c]
-A brief spot promoting Edge vs. Seth Rollins in Hell in a Cell played.
(Stoup’s analysis: Oh.)
Back from break Flair was bleeding from the mouth and chopping at Belair before hitting a backdrop. She went for a handspring moonsault but Belair got her knees up and hit her own cartwheeling moonsault. Belair hoisted Flair into a suspended suplex for two. A replay was shown of Flair, during commercial, dropkicking Belair into the commentary desk. Flair lifted Belair from a pinning predicament and slammed her down for two. Corey Graves accurately called Flair’s offense as exhibiting malice. Byron Saxton credited Belair’s composure just as Belair began showing signs of coming apart. Flair hit her standing moonsault this time, for two. She flipped backward out of an apparent attempt at a backdrop by Belair, and scrambled out of the ring just as Belair seemed to miss a step on her way to a cover – a veteran audible. Belair wailed on Flair’s back with wild forearms on the outside. [c]
Jimmy Smith was in disbelief we were seeing this match, which has “had everything.” Belair looked for a Glam Slam but Flair rolled it up, then rallied into a big boot for two. A replay was shown of Flair doing a crossbody onto Belair on the outside during commercial. The wrestlers muscled for a suplex over the ropes before Belair whacked Flair with a right. Flair responded with a right of her own, sending Belair back to the floor. Flair perched on the top turnbuckle and hit her signature moonsault (more or less) on Belair. Coming out of replay Belair dodged Natural Selection in the ring, then ducked a big boot. Belair sold her disbelief as Flair kicked out of another pinning attempt. Belair lifted Flair for the KOD but Flair held onto the top rope. The wrestlers ducked and dodged even more before Flair found a spear for a believable two, and it was Flair’s turn to sell disbelief. Flair dragged Belair by her braid as Corey Graves compared the affair to Tyson Fury vs. Deontay Wilder. Belair rolled away from a moonsault from the top and hurled Flair end over end for a close two. She climbed to the top but Flair kicked her leg out and looked for a superplex. Jimmy Smith said a superplex would have to put it away. Belair flipped over Flair and powerbombed her from the turnbuckle for two. Abruptly from the outside Flair hit Belair with a chair to get disqualified, but Belair swiped the chair and hit Flair with it. As Flair clutched her midsection on the outside, Belair held the chair high as the program quickly faded to black.
WINNER: Bianca Belair via DQ at 21:47
(Stoup’s analysis: No major Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns recap feels strange on sheer principle, since no matter the result the program has been good enough it’s got me admitting I’m interested in watching one of WWE’s bought shows for Saudi Arabia live for the first time since Greatest Royal Rumble – but Belair vs. Flair was amply built throughout the show as a big main event, and it was given the opportunity to live up to that build. The wrestlers may well have outdone their notable NXT match, though Belair did seem uncharacteristically off and in need of Flair’s clear lead at times. Judging by the sudden ending they also appeared to go long. Still, on its own, this was a thrilling back-and-forth that yet again flaunts the high quality of WWE’s women’s stars in top spots. Does Flair get a payday and turn the Crown Jewel triple threat into a fatal four-way? …Seriously though you did Balor vs. Mace but didn’t do anything on Lesnar vs.– nevermind; it was a solid show!)