SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
KELLER’S WWE RAW REPORT
OCTOBER 25, 2021
AIRED ON USA NETWORK
Commentators: Jimmy Smith, Byron Saxton, Corey Graves
-They opened with scenes of Downtown Houston and then the Raw opening aired featuring the new roster line-up. Order of appearance: Big E, A.J. Styles & Omos, Carmella, the Mysterios, Kevin Owens, Rhea Ripley, The Street Profits, Bianca Belair, Nia Jax, Becky Lynch, Seth Rollins, Riddle, Bobby Lashley, Randy Orton, John Morrison, Miz, Alexa Bliss, some repeats, Bearcat Lee, Damien Priest, more repeats, Edge, Finn Balor, more repeats.
(Keller’s Analysis: If you can read into that opening theme for Raw at all, since thought presumably goes into who appears in the opening to a degree what order and how often, there were no appearances Gable Steveson, Reggie, Chad Gable, Otis, Ryker, Tozawa, T-Bar, Nox, Drake Maverick, R-Truth, Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode, Tamina, Mia Yim, Cedric & Shelton, Dana Brooke, Queen Zelina, Doudrop, Austin Theory, or Karrion Kross. Some of those names are obviously preliminary or lower-mid-card wrestlers, but no Kross, Theory, and Otis could be indicative of Vince McMahon being more cold on them than perhaps expected, and there were no surprises featured where it’d be a sign of more of a sign of confidence and a big forthcoming push than expected.)
-They went live to the arena with pyro blasting as the video backdrop labeled it the “Season Premiere” of Raw. Jimmy Smith said everything changes with the season premier. Cory Graves touted the energy in the crowd and said they’d see new faces all night long.
-Big E made his entrance. They went to the announcers on camera. Smith said, “They say you’re not a champion until you defend the title, and Big E was pushed to the limit at Crown Jewel.” No mention of Drew McIntyre specifically. Big E then welcomed everyone to Raw, including boy and girls and cats and dogs. He made some local Houston references. The crowd started a “Let’s Go Astros” chant. Big E wished the Astros good luck. Big E tipped his hat to Drew for making him better today than he was a week ago. He said there is no rest for the weary. He asked who among the influx of new wrestlers are coming for his title. Seth Rollins’ theme played and he walked out.
Seth entered the ring and acted obnoxious, including his cackling. He said Big E must know why he’s there. Big E said he lost to Edge, so he goes to the back of the line. Seth’s demeanor changed. He said he went through hell on Thursday, and he earned his stature on Smackdown, and he wants to know if Big E will be like Roman Reigns or will he be a fighting champion. Seth proposed a title defense against him. Rey Mysterio interrupted and said clearly Seth’s vision is impaired after being bashed by Edge. He said it’s been a while since they’ve seen “eye to eye” (a reference to their previous feud). He listed the titles he has won and he said he’ll do anything to win the WWE Title one more time. Out came Finn Balor next. He said he has nothing but love for Rey, but he is a two-time NXT Champion, a two-time Intercontinental Champion, and the first-ever Universal Champion. He said there’s one title he has never held, and now that he’s on Raw, he wants the WWE Title. Kevin Owens’ music then interrupted. Smith said it’s too much talent for one ring.
Owens said he doesn’t want to be “that guy,” but if everyone is going to talk about their accolades, he’s a former NXT Champion, a three-time U.S. Champion, a two-time Intercontinental Champion, and he won the Universal Title in the arena they were in. He said he beat Seth on that night to win the title. Seth attacked him. He took shots at Rey and Balor, too. Sonya Deville came out and announced a Fatal Four-way later for a future title shot. Seth was right next to her and threw a fit, wanting the title match to be given to him. She said she wants to up the ante since it’s the season premiere and she made it a ladder match. Seth threw more of a fit.
(Keller’s Analysis: Very formulaic, but for the first show with the new roster, it establishes who some of the top singles wrestlers are aiming for the WWE Title. Nothing noteworthy otherwise, as everyone just did what you’d expect from their characters.)
-The announcers talked about an image of Riddle riding to the ring at Crown Jewel on a camel.
-The Street Profits made their ring entrance. [c]
(1) THE STREET PROFITS (Montez Ford & Angelo Dawkins) vs. ROBERT ROODE & DOLPH ZIGGLER vs. THE ALPHA ACADEMY (Chad Gable & Otis) – Winner Earns a Raw Tag Team Title match
A graphic advertised Becky Lynch would appear later. The Profits got in early offense and cleared the ring, then celebrated. They showed Riddle and Orton watching backstage. They cut to an early break. [c]
They again showed Orton & Riddle watching backstage. Roode was in control against Ford after the break. Dawkins got a hot-tag and rallied. Gable and Otis took over and landed a clothesline into a German suplex. Ford made the save with a top rope splash on Gable. Ford landed a running flip dive onto Otis. Dawkins landed a spinebuster on Roode. Ford climbed to the top rope, but then Omos walked out. Ford turned toward him and leaped at him. Omos caught him and threw him into the barricade. Dawkins reached for Omos, but Omos punched him. Roode and Ziggler then gave Dawkins a Zig Zag / spinebuster combo for the win.
WINNERS: Roode & Ziggler in 8:00 to earn a Raw Tag Team Title match.
-They showed images of Zelina Vega beating Doudrop at Crown Jewel to become the first Queen’s Crown Tournament winner. [c]
-Zelina Vega made her ring entrance. Smith said it could be argued she was the underdog in every match on her way to winning the tournament. Zelina said she would stand for this treatment no longer. She complained to Mike Rome about she was introduced. She asked him to do better. He tried again. He called her “your majesty, your one and only official Queen of WWE, Queen Zelina!” She sat on a throne in the ring and said for too long she’s been underappreciated for her greatness.
She said her ascension to the throne was always her destiny. She said her subjects will bow down to her, the official Queen. She said she might be a generous queen or a cruel queen or a beautiful queen or a queen to be loved or a queen to be feared. They showed an assembly of women backstage watching on a monitor – Tamina, Doudrop, Dana Brooke, Nikki A.S.H., Rhea Ripley, and Liv Morgan. Zelina said if you aren’t the most powerful person in the room, you are nothing. She said the crown proves she is the best of the best. She went on for a while, then Doupdrop interrupted. Smith said she’d defend her crown next. [c]
(2) QUEEN ZELINA vs. DOUDROP
Graves said Doudrop lost decisively at Crown Jewel and she can’t accept it. Doudrop tossed Zelina around. Smith said the coronation brought out some jealousy by Doudrop. Zelina came back with a double knee strike for a near fall. She removed the top turnbuckle pad. As the ref re-tied it, she bashed Doudrop with her scepter for the win. The ref had a “what just happened” look on his face.
WINNER: Zelina in 3:00.
-An extended recap aired of the Roman Reigns-Paul Heyman-Brock Lesnar happenings at Crown Jewel and Smackdown leading to Lesnar attacking Adam Pearce after he suspended him indefinitely. Smith started to say Pearce needed new pants and underwear after that, but then stopped abruptly as Becky Lynch made her ring entrance. [c]
-Becky stood mid-ring as the augmented reality graphic said “Big Time Becks.” She said it feels good to have the title back on her shoulder, a title she never lost. She said she intends to pick up where she left off. She said she only came back two months ago and she’s been making headlines ever since. She said she sent Sasha Banks and Bianca Belair packing after overcoming insurmountable odds. She said she knows the fans don’t want to see Belair anywhere near the title because there are others in line. She mentioned Ripley and Morgan. She said they will learn you can’t always get what you want, unless you’re her, because she always gets what she wants. Belair then made her ring entrance.
Belair dropped her large earrings and said with her, it’s always something. She said she didn’t leave Crown Jewel with a sense of shame because she wasn’t the one who got pinned. She said Becky cheated to win, and told Becky she’s the one who should feel ashamed. She said Becky can’t run from her anymore. She said she beat Sasha Banks at WrestleMania, she beat Bayley at Hell in a Cell, and last week on Raw she beat Charlotte Flair, so technically that earns her a title match against the Raw champion. She that just so happens to be her. She said her 26 seconds of fame is up, as is her title reign. Becky glared at her this whole time. She said the new face of Raw has arrived, and that is the EST of WWE. Becky said she thought she might claim to be the Face of Raw, so she prepared something. She threw to an image of her smiling after winning at Crown Jewel and then Belair’s face after losing.
Becky said she overcame adversity by slapping the head off of it and becoming a hero to the people. She said Belair, on the other hand, had a straight shot to the title with a win at the Rumble and WrestleMania, but that’s because she wasn’t around then to stop her in her tracks. Belair said the only thing she’s disappointed in is that she didn’t smack that look off her face. Belair said all Becky is doing is trying to hide her hurt feelings. She said the fans are rooting for her, and Becky thought fans would be cheering for her when she came back. She said behind the inflated ego and the title, she has nothing. She said having the title is a beautiful thing, but if you’re not enough with it, you won’t be anything without it. Becky’s pouty glare got more intense. She said at the end of the day, she’ll never be the fastest or the strongest or the smartest. She said she sees right through Becky and sees her for what she is.
Becky told her if she wants to face her one more time to find out who the best is, look at her face and “get to the back of the line, bitch.” Belair punched Becky as Becky continued to mouth off at her. Belair gave Becky a spinebuster and then threw her over the announce desk. Becky swung a kendo stick at Belair, but Belair took it and hit Becky with it a few times. Then she set up a K.O.D., but Becky raked her eyes and then used the kendo stick to give her a Russian leg sweep. Becky grabbed her belt and retreated. Becky said from the ramp that if she wants her match, she’ll get it, but just not tonight.
(Keller’s Analysis: Belair continues to do really good mic work and absolutely looks like she belongs in the ring with Becky in a long segment like this. For Becky to solidify getting booed as a heel, running from the clear top competitors like that helps.)
-The announcers commented on a clip of the show-opening angle that set up the Fatal Four-way ladder match main event.
-Owens approached Balor backstage. He said they’ve known each other a long time, and he respects Balor a lot. He said he has to win tonight, so it’ll be every man for himself later. Balor said that’s just the way he likes it.
-Damian Priest made his entrance to a new theme and no more shooting arrows. He wore his U.S. Title belt. [c]
-The announcers talked about WrestleMania being a two night event and tickets going on sale next month.
(3) DAMIAN PRIEST vs. T-BAR
Smith said T-Bar and Mace are “synonymous with one another, but in order to strike out and do something on your own, you have to take on the best.” (Strike out?) T-Bar scored a one counter early. A graphic said Bearcat Lee will “claw his way to Raw” later. T-Bar landed a top rope moonsault for mere one count. Smith called it a “lightweight move” and marveled that T-Bar at 6-7 could do it. Priest fought back and knocked T-Bar to the floor. T-Bar threw the office chair at Priest and was DQ’d.
WINNER: Priest via DQ in 3:00.
-Priest got fuming mad and turned and clotheslined T-Bar, who took a flip bump. He tossed him around ringside and seemed to have a new level of intensity. Graves said the look in Priest’s eyes is “pure hellfire.” Priest gave T-Bar a Reckoning in the ring.
(Keller’s Analysis: That’s a big refresh for Priest. Instead of being calm, cool, easy-going, and smiling they’re giving him more of an edge and intensity.)
-Carmella said she is the precious, rare, expensive diamond of WWE, which makes her the perfect fit for the red brand. She said everyone is jealous of her and no one can stop her dominance. They advertised she’d face Liv Morgan next.
-Carmella made her ring entrance. [c]
-They went to the commentators at ringside who pushed everyone to vote for Miz on “Dancing with the Stars.” (Shouldn’t he earn votes through actual good performances on the dance floor?)
(4) CARMELLA vs. LIV MORGAN
Carmella dominated early and yelled that Liv is obsessed with her. Morgan took it to Carmella at ringside, but when Carmella made a comeback, she showboated and gloated. Morgan took over again and had a few words for Graves. Graves told Saxton that the only reason he’s not engaged right now is that inanimate objects can’t say yes. Back in the ring they exchanged some leverage near falls until Carmella finished Morgan with her finisher. Carmella took off her protective mask and then celebrated.
WINNER: Carmella in 4:00.
-A Keith “Bearcat” Lee vignette aired showing him pummeling opponents as Graves touted him. Lee then made his entrance and let out a big roar. Saxton said he’s reinvigorated. [c]
(5) KEITH “BEARCAT” LEE vs. CEDRIC ALEXANDER (w/Shelton Benjamin)
Lee is making hissing noises now, including before hitting his powerslam finisher. Saxton said Lee is back with a vengeance and absolutely dismantled Cedric. Graves said he was unleashed on Cedric.
WINNER: Bearcat in 2:00.
-After the match, Shelton Benjamin entered the ring and eyed him. Lee stood his ground. Shelton smiled and backed away.
-They went to a clip from earlier where Rey was getting ready for his match in the locker room. Dominik asked if he needs anything. Rey said he’s getting in the zone and it’s been a while since he’s been in the ladder match. Dominik said he’s got this. Rey thanked him for having faith in him. Austin Theory walked up to them and said Rey is the king of the 619 and has been his hero since he was a kid. Theory wanted to take a selfie, but then he asked Dominik to take the picture. Dominik said he’s not a photographer and this isn’t his locker room. Theory challenged Dominik to a match and Dominik accepted.
-Dominik Mysterio made his ring entrance. [c]
(6) AUSTIN THEORY vs. DOMINIK MYSTERIO
Theory dominated at the start. Dominik came back and landed a bulldog off the second rope. Theory came back and dropped Dominik over the top rope, then landed the ATL for the win. When Theory was going to take a selfie of himself and Dominik, the ref scolded him. Theory took a selfie of the ref yelling at him instead.
WINNER: Theory in 3:00.
-Riddle was talking to Orton about potential Halloween costumes. Orton told him to stop it and focus on their tag team titles. He said Ziggler & Roode are former champions on Smackdown and they’re coming to Raw to prove something. Riddle said they’re going to “clean up the Dirty Dogs because they’re dirty.” He was pleased with himself.
-Orton and Riddle made their ring entrance. [c]
-A vignette touted that Veer was coming soon to Raw.
(7) RANDY ORTON & RIDDLE vs. ROBERT ROODE & DOLPH ZIGGLER – WWE Raw Tag Team title match
When Smith said there’s no comparison between Orton’s impressive physique and Roode’s, Graves jumped in and asked what he was talking about and touted Roode’s power and muscles. Riddle went for a running kick to Roode’s chest on the ring apron, but Roode blocked the kick and and then swept Riddle hard to the mat. They cut to a break at 4:00. [c]
Back from the break, Riddle dove and hot-tagged in Orton. Orton set up a draping DDT, but Ziggler DISTRACTED him. Roode then snapped Orton’s neck over the top rope. Roode threw Orton into the time keeper’s area. Roode tagged Ziggler, who immediately went after Riddle at ringside. Eventually Riddle hot-tagged in just as Ziggler also got the hot-tag. Riddle missed with his first Pelé kick attempt, but landed a knee strike. He beat up both Ziggler and Roode with rapid-fire offense. Roode broke up the cover on Ziggler after a Bro-ton. Orton entered and gave Roode an RKO. Ziggler gave Orton a superkick. Riddle then scored a two count with a crucifix. Ziggler came back with a roll-up for a two count. Riddle countered with a leverage three count.
WINNERS: Orton & Riddle in 11:00 to retain the Raw Tag Team Titles.
(Keller’s Analysis: Good match at the level you’d expect with these four pros. It seems to quickly define Roode & Ziggler down below no. 1 contender status, but they got a Raw match out of it on their first week on Raw.)
-A clip aired of the set-up for the Fatal Four-way ladder match.
-Kevin Patrick interviewed Seth backstage about wrestling so soon just days after his grueling Hell in a Cell match. He asked if he feels he has a target on his back. Seth said he is without question the biggest threat to the WWE Champion. He asked Patrick if he really understands what he’s been through. He said he shouldn’t have to go through this match as he should be the no. 1 contender. He said he’s going to put it all behind him and win the ladder match. He yelled that he is the revolutionary and the visionary. [c]
-The announcers commented on freeze-frame images of Goldberg vs. Bobby Lashley at Crown Jewel, and then a Tweet from Lashley saying he’ll return to Raw with a new level of intensity. Graves talked up Lashley.
-Rey Mysterio made his ring entrance first. Owens then made a spirited entrance, shaking the ladders in the aisle and yelling on his way. Balor was third out. Graves said Balor has a short memory and isn’t dwelling on past failures in the King of the Tournament. He said he has righted the ship on his career and is looking at a golden opportunity. [c]
(8) SETH ROLLINS vs. REY MYSTERIO vs. FINN BALOR vs. KEVIN OWENS – Fatal Four-way ladder match to earn a future WWE Title match
Seth made his entrance after the break. Owens had a cut on his forehead from headbutting ladders on his way to the ring. The match began 34 minutes into the hour. Owens cleared the ring early and began to set up a ladder. Balor jumped back into the ring and stopped him. Owens powerbombed Balor onto a ladder leaning on the bottom rope. They showed Big E watching from an exaggerated side angle, which was funny. Owens superkicked Seth onto a ladder and then went for a flip senton off the top rope, but Seth moved and Owens crashed onto the table. [c]
Seth was ramming his opponents with a ladder after the break. Owens ended up climbing a ladder mid-ring and getting his hands on the WWE Title match contract hanging above the ring. Rey grabbed Owens’ legs and pulled him down. Owens threw Rey into the ladder in retaliation. Owens rammed Seth and Balor with a ladder at ringside. Owens pulled a table out from under the ring and set it up at ringside. Balor jumped Owens from behind. Seth then dove through the ropes onto both of them. Back in the ring, Rey went for a 619 on Owens, but Seth tripped Rey as he ran the ropes. Smith said no one can keep up a sustained attack. Rey delivered a 619 into a ladder that Owens was holding, sending it into Owens’ face. Rey then leaped with a flying senton at the ladder which then landed with a thug on Owens’ body and head. Balor then flip dove onto Seth and Rey at they battled on the floor. They cut to another break. [c]
Back from the break, Rey was climbing the ladder. Seth knocked him off and onto the top rope. More non-stop action for several minutes. KO powerbombed Rey through a table at ringside, then climbed the ladder. He was about to unclip it when Seth grabbed his boot. Seth pulled Owens down. Owens blocked a powerbomb and backdropped Owens over the top rope onto a ladder bridged at ringside. The ladder snapped in half. Balor, meanwhile, climbed the ladder. Seth knocked him down and gave him a Stomp. Seth climbed to the top of the ladder and unclipped it to win.
WINNER: Rollins in 22:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Really good action start to finish. No one should be surprised the only heel won, but there was a possibility WWE would have gone a different direction for a WWE Title defense by Big E on TV. This gives Seth credibility as a top act on the new-look Raw roster and merit to get an early WWE Title match.)
-As Seth was wrapping up celebrating, Big E’s music played and he walked out to meet Seth in the aisle. Big E applauded. Seth cackled in his face. Seth offered a handshake. Big E nodded at him, but didn’t accept the offer. Seth walked away and kept celebrating. He declared he’s the next champion.
-The announcers hyped that Belair and Becky would battle next week for the Raw Title.
-Sarah Schrieber interviewed Seth backstage about his victory. He said he calls the show Monday Night Rollins because it’s his show. He said he’s back and better than ever.
(Keller’s Analysis: Did the match go short or did they intentionally plan a rare backstage post-match interview with the main event victor? Either way, I like it.)