10/25 WWE MONDAY NIGHT RAW REPORT: Hazelwood’s alt-perspective on season premiere with new roster implementation, RK-Bro vs. Dirty Dawgs for Tag Team Championship, more

BY BRUCE LEE HAZELWOOD, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR


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

WWE MONDAY NIGHT RAW TV REPORT
OCTOBER 25, 2021
HOUSTON, TX. AT THE TOYOTA CENTER
AIRED ON USA NETWORK
REPORT BY BRUCE LEE HAZELWOOD (@B_Lee253), PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR

Commentators: Jimmy Smith, Byron Saxton, Corey Graves

Ring Announcer: Mike Rome

Backstage Correspondent(s): Sarah Schreiber, Kevin Patrick 

Tonight after the show, join PWTorch.com editor Wade Keller and guest cohost Tom Stoup to break down the show with live callers and emails.

STREAM LIVE HERE ABOUT 5 MINUTES AFTER THE SHOW CONCLUDES
•CALL: (347) 215-8558

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(A big thank you to Tom Stoup for filling in for me last week on short notice as I recovered from a bout of food poisoning. Tom is one of the hosts to the PWTorch Dailycast “PWT Talks NXT” and the VIP-exclusive “NXT 8 Years Back” that are both highly recommended, particularly the latter if you’re a cinephile.

Tonight’s show is the “season premiere” with the post-Draft rosters being implemented. Keith “Bearcat” Lee makes his return, and we should see the likes of Kevin Owens, Seth Rollins, Becky Lynch, and others. “Queen’s Crown” winner Zelina Vega also begins her Raw tenure tonight.)

[HOUR ONE]

-The show began with an intro package with the theme song overlaid, highlighting the new roster and ending on a shot with Becky Lynch. Pyro exploded around the stage as they cut to the arena with “Season Premiere” on the Tron. Jimmy Smith welcomed viewers to the season premiere as RAWbot pointed at a sign. Corey Graves and Byron Saxton discussed the new roster as they showed a graphic of the entire roster.

BIG E’S PARADE OF CHALLENGERS

-Big E’s music hit to what sounded like a big pop in Houston, kicking off the season premiere with the WWE Champion. E took a mic as Smith asked what the new era will bring for E. He soaked in the cheers a big before welcoming everyone to the season premiere (to a big pop), saying what better town to host it than the town that gave us DJ Screw, those incredible Mitchell & Ness Oilers throwbacks, and a town that has a Pompadou’s(?), Houston, Texas. The crowd popped. A “Let’s Go Astros!” chant started. E let it go for a bit, pointing at the mic saying they wouldn’t be able to hear him. They quieted down, and he said good luck to the Astros.

He said he would be remiss if he didn’t mention the oh so gracious and new King of the Ring, his brother and yours, Xavier Woods. The crowd popped again. E said he tipped his cap to Drew McIntyre (there were some boos), a man who pushed him, sharpened his iron, and the reason he is better today than a week ago. He said there is no rest of the weary with this incredible influx of talent, who? Seth Rollins’ music hit.

Graves said fresh off of a grueling Hell in a Cell match (that he lost), Rollins is here (he was wearing…well, just look it up). Rollins did his trademark cackle that Wade Keller hates so much before saying E already knows why he’s out there. E said, well, uh, you lost to Edge. Rollins laughed, then yelled and said he’s not here, but I am, and he wants the title as soon as possible. E said Rollins doesn’t hear too well: he lost to Edge, so he goes to the back of the line. Rollins said he went through hell and has earned his stripes over the past year, but the Universal Champion is too afraid to give him an opportunity, so he’s here asking E if he wants to be like Roman Reigns or be a fighting champion? He said think about it, then Rey Mysterio’s music interrupted.

Mysterio said hey, Seth, Seeeethh, clearly his vision is impaired after getting his head bashed in by Edge. Mysterio said it’s been a minute since they’d seen eye-to-eye (some of the crowd oohed), but if anyone deserves a title shot, it’s him as a former United States, Intercontinental, Tag Team, three-time World Heavyweight, and former WWE Champion. He said he was willing to do whatever it takes to win the WWE Championship one more time.

Finn Balor’s music then hit to a modest pop (didn’t he just lose, too?). Balor said Rey Rey, Rey, he has nothing but love for him, but with all due respect, Balor is a two-time NXT Champion, two-time Intercontinental Champion, and the first Universal Champion as he reminded Rollins of who he defeated. He said there’s one title he’s never held and now that he’s here, he wants the WWE Championship. Rollins said do not listen to either of them as Kevin Owens’ music hit to a bigger pop.

Owens stopped at the entrance and said he doesn’t want to be that guy, but if we’re going to talk about accolades, he wants to play, too. He’s a former NXT Champion, three-time United States Champion, two-time Intercontinental Champion, and Universal Champion that he won in that very building and, correct him if he was wrong, but the person he pinned for the title was Cruelle de Ville (Rollins). Rollins attacked Owens and the other faces, but they fought him off. He avoided a Stunner and rolled outside, retreating to the back.

Sonya Deville came out to boos. She said later on tonight, there will be a fatal four-way match to determine the #1 contender. She said actually, considering it’s the season premiere, let’s raise the stakes: fatal four-way ladder match. Rollins exploded in anger as the faces nodded along. Owens was smiling as E looked happy with the outcome. He yelled out, “I like it!”

-Smith shifted to last week with RK-Bro and A.J. Styles & Omos where Omos took out RK-Bro and the Street Profits, including a roundhouse kick from Omos to Orton. They showed still shots from Crown Jewel with Riddle on a camel.

-The Street Profits entered to a decent pop, wearing green and black tonight. Red cups rained down as a triple threat tag team match for a future title shot was hyped. They cut to break. [c]

(Hazelwood’s Take: Good on E for calling out Rollins for losing his last match…but he didn’t do the same for Balor, who just so happened to lose to E’s good friend and current King of the Ring, Woods. Still, E was able to maintain comedy while being serious tonight well, looking more and more comfortable in both his status and character as WWE Champion. It was the tried-and-true if not boring parade of challengers that is ending up with a match sure to have a lot of memorable spots, though there is a significant lack of story build for a match of this type. Still, it should be fun!)

-They returned with Smith saying the fatal four-way is official for later tonight. They cut back to the ring as Dirty Dawgs finished their entrance. Alpha Academy made their entrance to no reaction.

(1) STREET PROFITS (Angelo Dawkins & Montez Ford) vs. DIRTY DAWGS (Robert Roode & Dolph Ziggler) vs. ALPHA ACADEMY (Chad Gable & Otis) – Triple threat tag team match for a future Tag Team Championship match

Ford and Gable started the match with a collar-and-elbow tie up. Ford hit a side headlock takedown, then the two traded reversals and counters until Ford grabbed an arm wringer. Gable rolled and bridged out, hitting a spinning drop toehold. He cinched in a shoulder lock while leaning on Ford, then switched to a front facelock. Ford fought to his feet and sent Gable off of the ropes, but ate a shoulder tackle. He leapfrogged Gable, but got caught on the second in a German. Ford landed on his feet and hit a dropkick to Gable before tagging in his partner.

Dawkins came in and hit a shoulder tackle, then they took out Roode, slamming Ziggler onto him. Otis entered, but they fought him off with a double dropkick that sent Otis to the outside. They showed RK-Bro watching in the back as Graves said, “Who will face the champs tonight?” They cut to break. [c]

They returned with Roode hitting a slightly delayed vertical suplex for a two-count on Ford, Roode doing some pushups after the pin attempt. He whipped Ford into their corner, but Ford fought him and Ziggler off, hitting a spinning enziguri to the head of Roode to send him outside. Ziggler rolled his partner back inside and tagged him, then stopped Ford. He ducked the enziguri attempt, but Ford caught him into a sit down powerbomb to counter a Fame-Asser.

Otis came in and threw Ziggler into their corner, tagging himself in. Ford then dodged Otis as he hit the post. Gable tagged in, but Ford fought him off and tagged in Dawkins. He hit his flying back elbow to Gable, then different suplexes to Roode, Gable, Ziggler, and Gable again. Roode broke up the pin attempt, but Dawkins sent him outside. Dawkins missed his spinning splash in the corner, allowing Gable and Otis to hit their discus lariat/German suplex combo. The pin was broken up by Ford hitting a frogsplash on Gable. He then hit a tope con hilo clean to Otis on the outside as Dawkins hit a spinebuster to Roode.

Omos made his way to the ring, catching Ford and tossing him into the barricade. Dawkins grabbed at him, suffering a punch that led him right into the Dirty Dawgs hitting a spinebuster/Zig Zag combo that didn’t look good to face RK-Bro later tonight.

WINNER: Dirty Dawgs at 10:22 (spinebuster/Zig Zag combo)

-They shifted to still shots from Crown Jewel with Vega vs. Doudrop and Vega winning with the Code Red to become the first Queen’s Crown victor. They showed a crown at ringside, a red carpet and sashes being setup, and royal music as they hyped her “Royal Coronation.” They cut to break. [c]

(Hazelwood’s Take: Not having a DQ just because it’s a triple threat match is just dumb. It makes no sense. It’s still the same match with an extra participant, in this case team. Oh well. This is a good way to have RK-Bro reassert themselves as the top team with the presence of new teams on the show.)

ZELINA VEGA’S ROYAL CORONATION

They returned with a shot of a royal looking chair and the crown in the ring. Mike Rome then introduced her as the first official queen. She came down in a cape and scepter, waving like a pageant contestant. She entered the ring and grabbed a mic. She said she will stand for mistreatment no longer. She said how dare you, yeah you, how dare you introduce her like that Mike Rome? She said she is the first ever Queen’s Crown Tournament winner, and you’re talking about royalty here. She said try it again with some actual bravado (she had a fake British accent going in and out). He did an intro with more gusto as she donned the crown and smiled.

She said for much too long has she been underappreciated for her greatness. She said she was the only woman in WWE fit to be queen. They showed some of the other women watching in the back. She said no one else had a chance. She said her subjects will bow down to the official queen. Hearty boos rang out. She said the question still remains what kind of a queen will she be: a generous queen, a beautiful queen, a cruel queen, a queen to be loved, or a queen to be feared? She said all of the above as she cackled, because if you are not the most powerful woman in the room then you are nothing. She said Doudrop is a perfect example of what happens when you step in her way, once she defeats her again of course. She said we will all talk about her reign for years to come, iconic as Nefertiti, ruthless as Cleopatra, no, better. “All hail Queen Zelina!”

Doudrop’s music hit as she skipped to the ring with her spirit fingers. They hyped the rematch as they cut to break. [c]

(Hazelwood’s Take: So was Vega testing out that accent tonight? It was inconsistent in when she employed the accent. If she’s going to use it, it might be best to go full King Booker and only speak in the accent. Maybe she’s doing it as a way to poke fun at the whole concept, but if that’s the case, it’s so subversive that it might be too innocuous for people to understand. It would be SO WWE for her to lose this match here, which is just pure stupidity.)

(2) QUEEN ZELINA vs. DOUDROP – Singles match

Vega held her scepter and asked Doudrop to kiss her boots as they returned. Doudrop grabbed the scepter and used it to hit a clothesline on Vega. She hit a biel, then another to Vega. Doudrop hit a bodyslam, then hit a senton. Doudrop went for her finisher, but Vega slipped out and hit Doudrop’s back, angering her. Vega backpeddaled, then drop topholded Doudrop into the corner. She hit her lifting kick, then went to the second turnbuckle, hitting a codebreaker/Magnum for only a two-count. Vega began untying a turnbuckle pad, then as the ref went to fix it, she used the scepter to hit Doudrop in the head for the victory.

WINNER: Queen Zelina at 2:30 (scepter to the head)

-Smith shifted to a video recap of the Reigns-Brock Lesnar situation in the Smackdown Breakdown. Maybe they’re going back to highlighting the main story on the other show? They showed Lesnar taking out The Usos, a cameraman, refs, and wrestlers before grabbing the title and holding it above his head. They showed Adam Pearce announcing Lesnar’s indefinite suspension and subsequent assault by Lesnar. Keller is right in that Pearce plays his role so, so well. He and William Regal in NXT have been the best authority figures in recent WWE.

-Becky Lynch’s music hit and I couldn’t tell if there was a pop or not because the announcers were speaking over her music. She raised the Women’s Championship high as she strutted to the ring. “Big Time Becks” posed to each side of the crowd as they cut to break. [c]

-They returned with a video postcard of Houston sports, mentioning the Astros in the World Series.

BECKY LYNCH IN-RING PROMO

Lynch looked around as fans cheered and said The Man and the new Women’s Champion and new face of Monday nights has come around to Houston. She said it feels good to have the title back on her shoulder that she never lost, that she won at WrestleMania 35 that no one has been able to beat her for since. She said she came back two months ago and has been making headlines ever since. She said she overcame insurmountable odds to send Sasha Banks off and Bianca Belair packing with her little braid between her legs. She said as a man of the people, she knows the fans don’t want to see Belair close to the title (the fans booed). Lynch said you want to see me beat Rhea Ripley and Liv Morgan, but they’ll learn that you can’t always get what you want unless you’re her. Belair’s music hit to interrupt her.

[HOUR TWO]

Belair was on the stage as an “EST” chant started. Graves mentioned her earring just fell off. Belair said with Lynch, it’s always something something very much something. She said she didn’t walk out with shame because she wasn’t the one that Lynch cheated to pin. Belair said if anyone should be ashamed, it should be Lynch. Belair said Lynch only things she gets what she wants because she hasn’t faced any adversity. Belair said she beat Banks, Bayley, and Charlotte Flair, so technically, that earns her a rematch with the Women’s Champion, which just so happens to be Lynch. She said her 26 seconds of fame are up, just like her title reign. She said Lynch was right and that the new face has arrived, but it’s the EST of WWE.

Lynch said she thought Belair might have something to say so she prepared something. She showed her victor’s face after the match at Crown Jewel, then Belair’s shocked face. Lynch said that’s the face of a loser. She said you want to talk to me about not facing adversity? She said she faced it and slapped the head off of it to become a hero to the people. She said Belair had a straight shot by winning the Royal Rumble match and beating the best women in the company only because she wasn’t around to stop Belair in her tracks.

Belair said you know what, the only thing she’s disappointed about is the fact that she hasn’t smacked the goofy smile off of Lynch’s face to show everyone who she really is. She said all Lynch has done since returning has been trying to hide her feelings. She said it bothers Lynch that the fans are still chanting for the “little old rookie” in her. She said behind the forced smiles and catchphrases and the title, she has nothing because if you aren’t enough without the title, then you aren’t enough with the title. She said she’s shown everyone she’s still the EST of WWE without the title. She said Lynch will never be the strongest, fastest, or smartest with Belair around. She demanded a title match tonight.

Lynch looked infuriated as she responded. She said look at my face, it says get to the back of the line bitch. She dropped the mic, then Belair punched her in the face. She beat her in the corner, then hit a big spinebuster. She followed Lynch outside, throwing her over the announce table. She twirled her hair and posed, then caught a kendo stick as Lynch tried striking her. She hit Lynch with the kendo stick three times before Lynch hit her with a spin kick, but Belair tried for the KOD. Lynch scraped the eyes, then used the kendo stick to land a side Russian legsweep before retreating with her title. Lynch then said you want your match, you got it…just not tonight before slamming down the mic to boos.

-Smith then shifted to saying this is the season premier as they shifted to the opening segment parade of challengers to discuss how new talent are trying to establish themselves. They showed Balor warming up in the back as Owens approached. He said they’ve known each other for a long time and there are few people Owens respects as much as Balor, but he has to win this tonight so it’s every man for himself. Balor said that’s just the way he likes it. Saxton hyped the fatal four-way ladder match for a “WWE Championship Opportunity.”

-Damian Priest’s new music hit, which started a bit like an eerie haunted house or carnival. Graves hyped his non-title match against T-Bar as they cut to break. [c]

(Hazelwood’s Take: I really, really, really like the subdued yet extreme confidence Belair had in her character and promo tonight. It wasn’t hyperbolic, cartoonish, or forced; it all seemed so natural. Her and E have both hit grand slams – to remain in the spirit of the MLB playoffs – in their characters’ presentations and promos tonight.)

-They returned hyping next year’s WrestleMania in Dallas, tickets available in November, and it being two nights once again. Priest was waiting in the ring as T-Bar’s music hit; can they change him back to Dominik Dijakovic already?

(3) DAMIAN PRIEST (c) vs. T-BAR – Non-title singles match

T-Bar hit a gut kick and some punches to begin, but Priest hit a thunderclap. T-Bar lifted Priest off of The Reckoning attempt, landing him on the top turnbuckle and hitting his big discus boot for a two-count. Priest fought back, but T-Bar hit a back elbow to block a chokeslam attempt, then hit a falling one of his own for a two-count. T-Bar climbed to the top for a moonsault and hit! Priest kicked out at one. Maybe not the best idea for a moonsault after the Lance Archer spot Saturday?

Priest hit a couple of big forearms, then a combo to T-Bar before landing a flying back elbow in the corner. He hit his Broken Arrow, then clotheslined T-Bar over the top rope by the announce table. Priest followed, but T-Bar threw an announcer’s chair at Priest. Priest looked enraged, like Vegeta going Super Saiyan, and took out T-Bar with a vicious lariat. He then beat on T-Bar some more with 12-6 elbows, then threw T-Bar into the barricade. He stomped on T-Bar’s chest, then threw T-Bar into the post, causing him to fall onto the steel steps. He took T-Bar back into the ring and hit The Reckoning, spiking T-Bar (it looked better than the one Cody hit to Malakai Black through the table on the outside). Priest’s music hit as he grabbed his title and sneered. He posed, and it seems obvious a heel turn is coming.

WINNER: Damian Priest at 2:39 (DQ)

-They cut to the back where Carmella was holding a custom diamond-encrusted mask that she says is second in worth only to herself. She said other women are jealous and she gets it, switching to her issues with Morgan. She said she always has a plan, and with this mask protecting her moneymaker, no one can stop her from putting her influence on the show as the most beautiful woman in all of WWE. Saxton hyped her match with Morgan as Carmella made her entrance to Graves’ pure delight (they announced their engagement in a sweet photo over the weekend). They cut to break. [c]

(Hazelwood’s Take: Why change Priest’s music and entrance when it was so identifiable with him, especially since the changes were not good. It also seems like they’re giving him more of an edge to become a dominant heel if that post-match attack was any indication. Then again, it was against a heel, so who knows!)

-They showed Carmella being worked on by her assistants at ringside as she turned around to reveal herself in her mask, saying, “I’m so beautiful!” Morgan’s music hit to a good pop.

(4) CARMELLA vs. LIV MORGAN – Singles match

Carmella immediately slugged Morgan, then beat on her in a corner. She hit a series of back elbows in the corner, then punctuated it with one more. She hit a Bronco Buster for a quick one-count. Morgan fought back with some quick offense, but Carmella pushed her away with double stomps from the corner as Morgan went for a corner avalanche. Carmella cinched in a rear chinlock as a loud “Let’s Go Liv!” chant started.

Carmella taunted Morgan, who fought back with a bicycle kick and then pump knee, followed by a rising knee in a corner. She caught a boot from Carmella out of the corner, but set Carmella on the second rope and stomped her to the mat for a two-count. Carmella rolled outside, Morgan followed. Morgan tried to push her face-first into the announce table, but Carmella blocked. As Carmella taunted, Morgan slammed her face into the announce table, then made a quip to Graves about being married to Carmella. Back in the ring, Morgan countered a rollup with an inside cradle, but Carmella kicked out and hit a float-over facebuster for the victory.

WINNER: Carmella at 3:05 (float-over facebuster)

-Smith shifted to a vignette on “Bearcat” Lee (with no Keith), hyping his appearance next. His music hit with the bear growl in the beginning. He entered to a decent pop being from Texas. They cut to break. [c]

(5) KEITH “BEARCAT” LEE vs. CEDRIC ALEXANDER (w/SHELTON BENJAMIN) – Singles match

Alexander was immediately overpowered with a huge biel, sending him outside as they returned. Alexander’s nameplate was gold for The Hurt Business. Benjamin said timeout and regrouped with his partner. Alexander cautiously entered the ring, then hit a few leg kicks before trying to use his speed and agility. Lee just shoved him away, but Alexander sidestepped and hit an enziguri that just made Lee mad. He grabbed Alexander’s head with one hand and hit an STO, then hit a big crossface. He hit a corner avalanche, then methodically stalked Alexander. Alexander dodged a corner avalanche and hit leg kicks and a basement dropkick, but Lee flattened him on a Neuralizer attempt. He then hit a HUGE short-arm clothesline. A Big Ban Catastrophe sealed the victory. Rome announced him as “Keith ‘Bearcat’ Lee.” Benjamin faced down Lee in the ring after the match, then backed away with a smirk on his face.

WINNER: Keith “Bearcat” Lee at 2:27 (Big Bang Catastrophe)

-They showed Mysetrio warming up earlier tonight as Dominick approached. Austin Theory then appeared, saying “El” Rey Mysterio. He asked for a selfie, then told Dominick to just take it. Dominick said he’s not a photographer, and this isn’t Theory’s locker room. Theory challenged him to a match; Dominick accepted. Father Mysterio said respect, and Dominick said he’ll take care of it on his own. He made his entrance for his match wit Theory, looking and acting like the young babyface that he is, happy to be there. They cut to break. [c]

(Hazelwood’s Take: I think this is my first taste of Lee in this iteration. It will take some people time to adjust to his methodical pace as this character, but one thing WWE is sorely lacking in is dominant heel monster characters, which could be why it seems they’re shifting Priest that way, too. Of course, they could find better acts to job out.)

-They returned showing The Mysterios winning the Tag Team Championship earlier this year, then Theory made his entrance.

(6) DOMINICK MYSTERIO vs. AUSTIN THEORY – Singles match

Theory took it to Mysterio to begin the match, hitting a big dropkick (with a big thigh slap), then shimmying like Eddie Guerrero to taunt Mysterio. Mysterio grabbed the left hand, then did his top rope assisted arm drag and a dropkick. Theory responded with a gut kick, but Mysterio hit a rana. Theory fought back with big strikes, but Mysterio slipped out of a vertical suplex. Theory grabbed Mysterio in a half-nelso and hit a swinging pendulum backbreaker for a two-count.

Theory then mocked Guerrero again only for Mysterio to hit an inside cradle for a two-count. He sidestepped Theory, hit a running elbow, then a second rope bulldog. However, Theory hung him on the top rope, then hit his ATL finisher. Theory took a selfie with Mysterio after, then took one with the ref yelling in his face.

WINNER: Austin Theory at 2:56 (ATL)

-They cut to Gorilla where RK-Bro were convening. Riddle threw out some Halloween costume ideas like Mario & Luigi, the creepy girls from The Shining, and others. Randy Orton said they’ll talk about it later because they need to go out and retain their titles. He put over Dirty Dawgs as former champions who are here to make a statement. Orton’s music hit as he deadpanned a bad Riddle joke. He scratched his head as he followed Riddle through the entrance curtains. They cut to break. [c]

[HOUR THREE]

-They returned with a vignette with Indian music in the back on Veer, the agile powerhouse of Jinder Mahal’s crew, and that he’s coming to Monday nights (wasn’t he already on Monday nights?). Dirty Dawgs’ music hit as they made their entrance for their second match tonight, though how much they suffered in the first match is arguable considering half the match was during commercials. They showed replays of Omos helping Dirty Dawgs winning earlier in the night. Rome did formal introductions from ringside.

(7) RK-BRO (Randy Orton & Riddle) (c) vs. DIRTY DAWGS (Robert Roode & Dolph Ziggler) – Tag Team Championship match

A huge “RK-Bro!” chant rang out before the bell. Ziggler and Riddle began the match, both men well versed in amateur wrestling and showing that with grapples and mat-based reversal on each other. Ziggler tagged in Roode, so Riddle tagged in Orton after calling for a “Randy!” chant. Orton entered after a hard high-five tag from Riddle. Roode hit a go-behind, but Orton used his height as leverage to hit a switch. Roode hit a back elbow to break the hold, then a big chop in a neutral corner. He went for the ten punches in the corner, but posed after three and came down. Orton then poked him in the eye.

Orton hit an European uppercut in the other neutral corner, then nearly hit an RKO to Roode, who avoided it and slid out of the ring. The fans popped for the spot and chanted “RKO!” Roode hesitantly reentered the ring, only for Orton to kick him, hit another uppercut, then some patented Orton stomps. He tagged in Riddle, then hit an assisted Floating Bro for a two-count. Graves reminded viewers Dirty Dawgs have already participated in one match as Riddle hit a series of chest kicks in a neutral corner. He followed Roode, looking for a PK from the apron, but Roode caught him and forced him down onto the apron as they cut to break. [c]

Ziggler was in control of Riddle as they returned, forcing him to their corner and tagging in Roode. Roode slammed Riddle into a neutral corner and hit a big chop, then sent Riddle across. Roode missed a Bronco Buster as Riddle just basically collapsed. He tagged in Orton, who hit his usual hot-tag clotheslines and snap powerslam. He then went for his draping DDT to Roode hard camera side, but Ziggler distracted him, allowing Roode to hang Orton on the top, then throwing him into the timekeeper’s area.

Roode went inside the ring, then tagged Ziggler to break the count as Ziggle wen to retrieve Orton. Ziggler rolled Orton inside and scored a two-count, keeping that forearm across the face. He then tried for a crossface that was partially blocked by Orton, who kept the hands from being clapsed. Orton fought to his feet, but Ziggler hit a gut kick and tagged in Roode, who, in a bit of turnabout is fair play, put Orton into a rear chinlock. Orton finally lifted Roode for a belly-to-back suplex.

Riddle took the tag and missed a kick, but hit a pump knee to Ziggler, who tagged in, then one to Roode. He hit an exploder out of the corner to both men, then hit Brotons to both men (Smith said sentons). Riddle hit a PK to Ziggler for a two-count that was broken up by Roode. Orton then hit an RKO on Roode, but Ziggler hit a superkick on Orton. Riddle and Ziggler then trade pin attempts, but Riddle was able to put Ziggler into a spladle pin for the victory.

WINNER: RK-Bro at 11:37 (spladle) to retain the Tag Team Championship

-Smith then shifted to the opening segment and the ensuing brawl that resulted in Deville’s main event announcement. They cut to an angry Rollins as Kevin Patrick approached, asking about the match after being in a greuling match and if he has a target on his back. Rollins said of course he has a target on his back because he is, without question, the biggest threat to the WWE Champion. He said Patrick said it, but does he really know what he’s been through? He said he’s suffering and in pain and shouldn’t have to be in this match, but it doesn’t matter because he’s going to win tonight. He said, “Do you know why, Mike?” He said because he’s a visionary, a revolutionary, Seth Freakin’ Rollins. Smith then hyped the main event. They cut to break. [c]

(Hazelwood’s Take: A pretty standard TV Tag Team Championship match, but as I’ve written before, sometimes just simple A-to-B safe booking is the best call. Good choice here, and the spladle finish was nice to see, especially with how Graves framed it as Riddle, an amateur wrestler, getting better of the more accomplished amateur wrestler in Ziggler with an amateur wrestling move.)

-They returned with a Raw Talk promo feature Queen Zelina, Priest, and E. Saxton wondered if the fatal four-way match winner would join. They then showed a video postcard of Houston as Smith cut to the Goldberg-Bobby Lashley from Crown Jewel and he actually said Saudi Arabia! Goldberg won, but Lashley is still alive, so Goldberg failed. This is why you don’t say impossible, unrealistic crap in promos. You are not going to “kill” or “disembowel” anyone in a match!

-They cut to all the ladders around ringside and the entrance area as they showed a contract in a red folder hanging above the ring. Mysterio’s music hit first to a good pop two hours after the first entrance. The announcers lauded Mysterio’s creativity in the ring and how it could bode well for him in this match. Owens entered next to a good pop as well. He headbutted the first few ladders he saw several times, trying to get color hardway I see (he didn’t). Balor’s music hit to a big pop next. They cut to break before Rollins’ entrance. I wonder if they’ll do his entrance during commercials or not. [c]

-They returned with a Halloween Havoc promo for NXT tomorrow night. Then Saxton said it’s been made official: Lynch vs. Belair for the Women’s Championship next week! Balor’s music was still playing, so they made everyone wait until commercials were done for Rollins’ entrance.

(8) REY MYSTERIO vs. KEVIN OWENS vs. FINN BALOR vs. SETH ROLLINS – Fatal four-way ladder match for a future WWE Championship match with Big E

This is going to be hell to cover. Mysterio and Balor began with kicks to Rollins, but Rollins slipped outside on a Stunner attempt. Owens followed and began taking it to Rollins on the outside as Mysterio and Balor paired off in the ring with Balor hitting a basement dropkick to Mysterio’s face. He went for a ladder, but Rollins rammed him into the ladder. Mysterio grabbed Rollins, but Rollins hung him up on the rope. Owens then forced Rollins into the barricade before putting the ladder in the ring. He thwarted a ladder attack from Rollins, instead hitting Rollins and Balor then Rollins again with the small ladder. He threw it at Mysterio as Mysterio tried for a slingshot.

E was watching with his back turned to the screen. Balor and Owens fought each other in the ring with Owens hitting a powerbomb onto the ladder. He dodged Rollins, then superkicked him. Rollins fell on the same ladder, then moved as Owens went for the Swanton, crashing and burning as they cut to break. [c]

Rollins was ramming a ladder into his three opponents in different corners, hitting Mysterio in the head, as they returned. Rollins yelled that he shouldn’t even be in this match, but then Balor took him down and stomped on the ladder on top of Rollins chest. Balor then hit Owens with a backbody drop counter onto the ladder, still on Rollins. E was now watching perpendicular to the monitor instead of with his back to the screen.

Balor climbed and grabbed the contract, but Mysterio stopped him with strikes. As they fought, Owens tipped the ladder over, then caught Balor with a German suplex. He caught Mysterio into a swinging White Noise. He climbed, but Rollins grabbed his leg before he could grab the contract. Rollins then hit a buckle bomb, but Owens responded with a superkick off of the rebound before collapsing. Owens has a slight cut on top of his forehead, but no flowing blood.

He climbed again, reaching the contract, but Mysterio grabbed his foot, forcing him to the mat. Owens then tossed Mysterio into the ladder, sending the ladder to the mat and Mysterio outside. Owens followed and tossed him into the barricade, then lifted a small ladder that he used to hit Balor and Mysterio, then Rollins on the outside. Fans chanted for a table, so Owens obliged to big pops. He began setting one up on the outside, but Balor grabbed him only for Rollins to hit a tope to both of them.

Rollins and Mysterio rolled inside with Rollins getting the first attack. Mysterio hit a wheelbarrow bulldog counter to Rollins, but Owens then entered. Mysterio countered to popup powerbomb into a 619 situation, but Rollins grabbed Mysterio’s ankles and caused him to fall to the mat. Mysterio responded by forcing Rollins outside, then hitting a 619 into a standing ladder on the outside into Owens. He then hit a seated senton on the ladder onto Owens on the outside. It didn’t look pretty. Mysterio and Rollins then fought over a ladder on the apron as Balor hit a tope con hilo clearing the top rope clean. They cut to break. [c]

Owens was fighting off Rollins in a corner as they returned, landing a bunch of forearms before Rollins hit a DDT. Mysterio quickly climbed the ladder on the other side before Rollins tipped the ladder enough for Mysterio to fall across the top rope neck-first. Rollins setup a ladder in a corner as his three foes recovered. He forced Mysterio outside, then Owens, before turning to Balor. He whipped Balor into the ladder in the corner, but Balor hit a slingblade. Owens hit a superkick to Balor, then Balor hit a shotgun dropkick to Rollins into the ladder. Owens hit another superkick, but Balor hit an overhead kick. Mysterio leaped off of the top rope for a seated senton on Balor, then Owens countered Mysterio with a front facing powerbomb variant.

On the outside, Rollins grabbed a very tall ladder only for Balor to intervene, throwing Rollins into the barricade by the announcers. Balor set the ladder up across the ring and announce table, hit a slingblade on Rollins on the outside, then quickly climbed the ladder to thwart Mysterio. Owens took out Balor with a Stunner, then turned to Mysterio, but Mysterio dumped him over the top. He went for a seated senton, but Owens caught him and powerbombed him through the table on the outside.

Owens climbed to the top, but couldn’t unhook the contract. Rollins looked for another buckle bomb, but Owens fought it off. He looked for a powerbomb to the outside, but Rollins hit a backbody drop to Owens over the top and through the big ladder that was setup. Balor climbed while Rollins wasn’t looking, but Rollins took him down and hit the stomp. With no one left, Rollins climbed and unhooked the contract to a loud chorus of boos from the crowd. Fun match, even though it was a pain to cover at times.

WINNER: Seth Rollins at 22:12 to earn future WWE Championship match

-After the match, Mysterio looked on in anger from ringside as Owens and Balor recovered. They showed replays of how each wrestler was taken out at the end of the match, allowing Rollins to win the match. Rollins exited the ring as E’s music hit. He entered with a serious demeanor and look, clapping for Rollins. Rollins laughed in his face, saying he’ll fight for anything to get it back and held out his hand. E just nodded his head and didn’t shake the hand. Rollins walked away laughing saying it’s his time and he’s the next champ. They replayed the stomp to Balor one last time; Balor’s sell with a vacant look in his eyes was well done. The announcers hyping next week’s Lynch vs. Belair match in Providence, Rhode Island.

In Gorilla, Sarah Schreiber congratulated Rollins. He said he calls it Monday Night Rollins because it’s (yelling) his show, and he’s back and better than ever. He complimented Schreiber on the “nice color” of her dress, then said he’s the visionary, the revolutionary, Seth Freakin’ Rollins. The show ended with a slowmo shot of him celebrating with the contract.

(Hazelwood’s Take: That was a fun match, even with the two commercial breaks. There was a lot going on, and even though some of it was predictable – like all foes needing to be taken out in big spots prior to the finish – it was still a great way to end the show with a high-paced and action-packed main event. I’m guessing the fans in attendance will have good memories of the show just for the main event itself. Rollins was the logical choice as the only legitimate heel for E to feud with, and Rollins’ character can take losses and rebound more easily than the other three. I expect E to win in a good match whenever it happens, possibly on Raw, and for E to move toward Survivor Series with good momentum.)

FINAL THOUGHTS: That was a mixed bag of a show. matches two through six lasted 3:05 or less, but then we had the tag team championship and main event matches that went good lengths, plus the opening match. Still, as mentioned previously, it’s hard to build and tell stories in three minutes or less. If they want to have these short matches, it would behoove them to have actual jobbers like during Braun Strowman’s initial singles run – notable for the rise of James Ellsworth – instead of sacrificing more established names and acts who all should at least be part of a burgeoning midcard with the roster shuffling. I do think there is more optimism from me coming out of this show than the one I covered before the draft, so it’s weird to say that I’m looking forward to how Raw builds from tonight’s episode.

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