11/1 WWE MONDAY NIGHT RAW REPORT: Hazelwood’s alt-perspective on Becky Lynch defending against Bianca Belair in opening match, next in the Big E vs. Seth Rollins feud for WWE Championship, more

Full results and analysis of WWE Raw


NOVEMBER 1, 2021

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 assistant editor Zack Heydorn and guest cohost Nate Lindberg to break down the show with live callers and emails.

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-The show began with a highly produced music video recapping the recent saga between Becky Lynch and Bianca Belair, and though most of their feud happened on Smackdown, they are now the two top women on Raw. They did a fine job highlighting the talents and victories of both women, including their promo work. It ended with last week’s confrontation that saw Lynch agree to a rematch with Belair, the very match that will start the show.

-They cut to Gorilla where Belair was warming up. Sarah Schreiber approached and asked if the rivalry will come to a head tonight. Belair said she is the first to admit she wasn’t ready for Lynch at SummerSlam. She said she respects Belair, so she said to herself let’s do it, but 26 seconds later, she lost her title. She said she’ll never regret her mistakes because those are opportunities to make her stronger. She said Lynch has lost all sight of what it means to be champion. She said she’s used to others trying to tear her down from the sidelines, which is where Lynch was while she was ascending. She said she always delivers. She made her entrance to a big cheer.

(Hazelwood’s Take: The promo dragged a bit in the middle, but she finished with intensity.)

They showed Lynch in Gorilla, to boos. Schreiber said Belair had a point in that no one expected her and that while Lynch was pregnant, Belair earned her way to the top. Lynch said Belair did, but only because she wasn’t there to stop Belair. She asked if Schreiber thought Lynch was sitting around eating Bon Bons and that she did 24 pushups the day after giving birth. She would have done 25, but she moved on. She said there’s been a noticeable lack of appreciation for her, but that just motivates her to beat Belair again. She entered.

(Hazelwood’s Take: More polished, clear mission statement with context to drive it, and good delivery. This is what you expect from a Lynch promo.)

-Jimmy Smith, Corey Graves, and Byron Saxton discussed the title match as Lynch made her entrance, mostly the latter two. Mike Rome gave formal ring introductions from inside the ring. Belair bounced around to stay warm while Lynch stood stoically in the corner, looking around at the crowd. She confidently walked forward and raised her title.

(1) BECKY LYNCH (c) vs. BIANCA BELAIR – Women’s Championship match

They circled before a collar-and-elbow tie up that Lynch reversed into the corner, then pushed Belair in the shoulders several times before Belair shoved back, forcing Lynch to the ground. Lynch popped up and slapped the hell out of Belair, talking smack, until she saw Belair smile. Lynch tried to escape, but Belair grabbed her with a back waistlock and dropped Lynch to the mat twice, holding onto the maneuver. Belair then hit a slap of her own, followed by a shoulder tackle to floor Lynch.

Belair then hit her handspring moonsault for a two-count. Lynch rolled outside as they showed the replay; it was very smooth. Belair followed outside, but Lynch hit a jawbreaker. She then sent Belair to the other side of the post, looking to use the braid to ram Belair into the post. Belair countered, forcing Lynch into the post, then hit a delayed vertical suplex on the outside. They cut to break. [c]

Belair was blocking Lynch’s punches as they returned, but Lynch hit a weird single leg and then a slam for a two-count. They showed some action during the replay that showed Lynch rammed Belair into the post to gain the advantage as two two-counts occurred during the replay. Lynch took a decidedly slower pace, taunting and mocking Belair. Lynch got her foot caught, but rolled into a modified omoplata/Dis-Arm-Her that she turned into a sunset flip for a two-count. Belair was countered again, but Lynch missed her leg drop as Belair moved.

Belair leapfrogged away from the corner and started hitting a series of dropkicks on Lynch. Belair hit a snap suplex, floated over into another, and held on for several seconds before scoring a two-count. Lynch crawled to the corner and reversed and Irish Whip, then hit an O’Conner roll from the corner. Belair kicked out, sending Lynch into the corner, then hit a tilt-a-whirl gutbuster for a two-count. Lynch was on the apron, then reentered the ring. Both women countered each other, then hit a series of rollups and pin attempts for two-counts. Lynch went for the Dis-Arm-Her and instead hit a hip attack on it before reapplying. Belair lifted Lynch up, but then Lynch sent both of them over and out as they cut to break. [c]

They returned around the 14-minute mark with Lynch finally countering a vertical suplex attempt into an armbar attempt. Belair lifted Lynch into a powerbomb position, but Lynch hit a head scissors and scored a two-count. Belair then reversed position and lifted her up again, hitting a big release powerbomb for a two-count. Belair went for a bodyslam, but Lynch had a Dragon Sleeper counter. Belair used the corner turnbuckle to flip out, but Lynch kicked her away.

As Lynch went to the second rope, Belair intercepted her, then crouched enough to hit a press slam. She went for her handspring moonsault again, but Lynch got the knees up. She hit the Manhandle slam, but Belair put her left foot on the rope. Lynch reacted in shock and frustration as Belair crawled outside. A “Let’s Go Becky!” vs. “EST!” chant dueled as Lynch went for a baseball slide. Belair caught her in a powerbomb position, then laid out Lynch face-first across the announce table. She rolled in Lynch for a two-count, then another.

Lynch rolled to the apron, hitting a few kicks. She climbed to the top, but Belair rolled through. Belair then dropped, causing Lynch to step over her. Lynch then turned that positioning into a Glam Slam for a two-count. She climbed for a 450, but Lynch rolled away so Belair rolled through. She caught Lynch’s boot in the corner, turning it into an EST attempt. Lynch held onto the ropes, then took off the turnbuckle. As the ref went to grab the padding, Lynch shoved Belair face-first into the exposed steel and scored the pin.

WINNER: Becky Lynch at 18:38 (rollup after shoving Belair into exposed turnbuckle) to retain Women’s Championship

-Kevin Patrick was in the back, calling that one of the best championship matches ever seen on Raw. He welcomed the Mysterios and asked Rey about his match with Austin Theory. Mysterio said Theory is talents, but arrogant and disrespectful. He said he was proud of how his son stood up to Theory, but Theory entered yelling Rey’s name. He said he’ll get the selfie after he beats him like he beat his son. Dominick said Theory better show some respect. Rey said he’s been doing this a long time and Theory isn’t the first to try and make a name off of him. He said there’s a reason why those names have faded while the Mysterio name lives on. He made his entrance with his son as Theory took a selfie with a bewildered Patrick. They cut to break. [c]

(Hazelwood’s Take: I won’t go as far as Patrick, but that was a solid, solid match. Sure, some spots were noticeably planned and choreographed, but the match told a good story of these two women knowing each other so well and busting out counters to everything. While the finish leaves a bit to be desired, at least it wasn’t the usual disqualification to setup some kind of main event tag or triple threat match. Now, if more Monday nights could start with matches of these caliber…)

-They returned with an NXT ad with highlights from last week’s “Halloween Havoc” themed episode as hype for tomorrow’s episode.

-The Mysterios were waiting in the ring as they returned. Theory’s music hit to no reaction, maybe some boos, as he made his entrance. His mix of gear and wrestler really makes him look like a Create-a-Wrestler from Aughts wrestling video games.

(2) REY MYSTERIO (w/Dominick Mysterio) vs. AUSTIN THEORY – Singles match

They tied up to begin with Theory overpowering Mysterio to the corner. He slapped Mysterio, then backed away. He hit a running shoulder tackle that sent Mysterio outside, but came back in with a flurry after Theory mocked Eddie Guerrero. Mysterio hit a head scissor after a rope run that Smith called a rana. Mysterio went for the ten punches in the corner, but after three, Theory came out and looked for a move that Mysterio turned into another head scissors.

Theory used his power, then hit a corner clothesline, jumping over the top as he did, then hit a stomp and fisherman’s suplex for a two-count. After a rope run, Mysterio hit a kick, but Theory turned it into a modified torture rack, dropping to his knees for a backbreaker. He stared at Dominick the entire time. Theory then mocked Dominick before hitting a rolling dropkick to Rey for a two-count. Mysterio was able to send Theory outside, then followed only for Theory to whip him into the barricade. Theory lifted Rey onto his shoulder, but Dominick spun him around using his dad’s foot for a tornado DDT on the outside. The ref admonished him, but didn’t seem to eject him as they cut to break. [c]

Mysterio was fighting out of a waistlock as they returned, but Theory hit a pendulum backbreaker to stop the momentum. Theory took his time as he lifted Mysterio to the top turnbuckle. He climbed, looking for a superplex, but Mysterio fought him off with punches, even one to the thigh. Mysterio slipped out and grabbed Theory’s leg, forcing him to hit the top turnbuckle. Mysterio then hit a head scisssors that sent Theory shoulder-first into the post.

Mysterio climbed to the top and hit the West Coast Pop senton, then a springboard crossbody for a two-count. Theory rolled to the apron, then hit a shoulder to the gut. He hit the rolling dropkick again, but on the rebound, Mysterio hit a basement dropkick to the face of a seated Theory. Mysterio then went for a wheelbarrow bulldog, but Theory hit a suplex counter. He hit a basement dropkick through the ropes to Dominick, then had a powerbomb countered as Mysterio sent him into the ropes. As Theory was draped, Dominick punched Theory just before his dad hit the 619. The ref called for the bell and DQ. After the admonishment earlier, it makes sense. Theory took selfies from the outside with the Mysterios in the back as Rey consoled his son.

WINNER: Austin Theory at 10:30 (disqualification)

(Hazelwood’s Take: Another good match, and call me shocked that WWE had two consecutive matches that had a commercial break, and to begin the show no less. I was more optimistic after last week, and if the next two hours are anything like this first one, then these are great steps for WWE. To the match, I like how the ref berating Dominick earlier in the match came back to play a role, even if the DQ should have just been called the first time…or just not have a DQ finish, but that’s an aside. Theory is good, we know that, but he’s also had some out-of-the-ring issues that will cause many fans to reject him. Riddle is probably his best comp, and he’s doing just fine, so I guess Theory will be, too.)

-The announcers then shifted to last week’s fatal four-way ladder match that saw Seth Rollins become the next contender for Big E’s WWE Championship. Rollins then entered in a mustard colored suit holding the contract, laughing maniacally. They cut to break with a “Tribute to the Troops” ad that will air on Sunday, November 14th on FOX. [c]


Rollins had a mic and laughed a bit before speaking. He said we all know him and we know that he’s not the kind of person to come out here and toot their own horn. He said he came out with a purpose…but while he’s here, let him tell us that he’s on top of the world. He laughed. He said he’s on cloud nine because last week in a grueling ladder match he defeated three former top-tier world champions to earn his shot at the WWE Championship. He said it feels good, it feels right since this is “Monday Night Rollins” and that he was drafted here to be the face of Monday nights. He said the only thing that’s missing is a title around his waist. He said the contract he held basically guarantees that he’s the next WWE Champion. He hooted a bit. He said let’s go over the fine print, but E’s music hit as he began opening the contract. He hasn’t looked until now?

E took in the chants for him a little before saying last week, he came out to congratulate Rollins on winning one heck of a ladder match, but instead of shaking his hand like a normal man, he laughed in his face and slinked off like he was the Pink Panther or something. He said it bothered him so he talked to his aunt. He imitated his aunt and said there is something deeply, deeply wrong with Rollins and that “he’s touched.” Rollins said that’s not how he remembers things, and brought up how E told Rollins earlier that night that Rollins had to earn it, “Like you don’t know I’m Seth Freakin’ Rollins!?” He said he lost a bit of respect for E last week.


He called E a quality champion with quality wins over Drew McIntyre and Bobby Lashley. He said he hates to be the one to break it to him, but Rollins said E is not on his level. E just glared him with rage. Rollins said no disrespect, and E doesn’t want the responsibility of being champion anyway, so let Rollins take it off and let E go back to being a joke with his friends. He brought up King Woods and KofiMania, calling them both jokes. E said first of all, respect the king, second, he’ll be damned if he lets Rollins stand there and disprespect one of the biggest moments in WWE history in KofiMania (the crowd cheered). E then proposed their WWE Championship for…tonight!

Rollins said whoa, whoa, whoa, slow it down, back it up, think about this for a minute. E yelled at him. Rollins said you people don’t want to see that. He then said he wanted to get this straight, and asked if the fans really wanted to see the title match tonight. They predictably cheered loudly. Rollins said good for you, of course you do because they all know that he isn’t 100 percent after the ladder match last week and the Hell in a Cell match before, and he’s not falling into the trap. He said they do it on his terms and when he’s 100 percent. Kevin Owens’ music then hit to a big pop; is he going to challenge E?

Owens walked to the stage, paused, then Rollins said to shut it down and that Owens has no reason to be out here. Owens said he’s sorry to interrupt, well, that’s not entirely true. Owens said he heard them talking about who is the face of Monday nights. He said E has a strong claim as WWE Champion and a great champion at that. He said Rollins thinks he’s the face because he’s a delusional dumbass, using the suit as proof. He said Belair and Lynch both called themselves the face as well with valid points, but he feels like everyone is forgetting his face, his handsome face full of charm and integrity. He said he should be the face because when it was all said and done, they weren’t talking about Rollins winning, but Owens’ performance.

He said he leaves everything he has in the ring every time and it didn’t work out for him last week, or let’s be honest, for a while, but it doesn’t matter, because he really believes in just keep fighting. He said he will get back up, dust himself off, and keep fighting. He said it might be for three more months or three more years, but it doesn’t matter. What matters is that he’ll give the WWE Unvierse something to remember every time he’s in the ring. He then told Rollins to get the hell out of the ring and challenged E. He told Rollins to shut his mouth and no one wants to hear from him ever. E referenced Highlander, then said Owens makes a hell of a point in that they’ve never gone one-on-one. E said it’s on, sucka, as Rollins was ecstatic.

-They cut to an earlier video with Queen Zelina and Carmella, Zelina takling in her fake accent saying she wish she could pull off a mask like Carmella. They came across Nikki A.S.H. & Rhea Ripley. Zelina asked about the mask, then patronizingly said the mask really suits A.S.H. As they walked away, they berated them, but the other two came up and said they heard that. Ripley said this isn’t high school and she isn’t going to let their pettiness hurt A.S.H.’s feelings. Carmella said they’re beneath them, so A.S.H. said if you think the champions are so beneath you, then you won’t have a problem in a match. They accepted.

-A.S.H. entered first, then Ripley’s music hit to a big pop, mostly little girls. I believe the champion should always enter last. They hyped the match, non-title, as they cut to break. [c]

(Hazelwood’s Take: An interesting promo segment. Both men used their intelligence to their advantage a bit as E tried to goad Rollins into a match after those hellacious matches and Rollins wisely refusing to recover and be 100 percent. Owens dropping in the three months or three years line is sure to get people talking with his deal expiring soon. In any case, that was a fiery promo from Owens, showing exactly why he should be a top act, and his match with E which I never realized will be a first-time match should be fun.)

-They returned with “breaking news” of the E vs. Owens match made official, but looks to be a non-title match. They cut to the Zelina & Carmella making their entrance and announced it as a contenders match with no apostrophe even though there should be one.

(3) RHEA RIPLEY & NIKKI A.S.H. (c) vs. QUEEN ZELINA & CARMELLA – Championship Contenders match

Carmella left to put her mask on with her assistant as Zelina faced off with Ripley, staring her down as Ripley just grinned. She hit a shoulder tackle and dusted off her shoulder. Carmella tagged in and acted tough, slapping Ripley hard across the face. Ripley looked pissed, but calm, then hit a big headbutt to the chin. She hit some body blows, a snapmare, and a dropkick to the shoulder of Carmella. They showed Dana Brooke, Tamina, Doudrop, and Liv Morgan watching from the back. A.S.H. tagged in, then threw an interfering Zelina into Ripley’s boot. Carmella rolled out to join her, then A.S.H. hit a crossbody to both from the apron as they cut to break. [c]

Carmella had Ripley in a rear chinlock as they returned, then slammed Ripley to the mat for a one-count before reapplying the hold. Smith the challengers were “united by vanity,” and OK, that’s a good line. Ripley forced Carmella into her corner, but Zelina tagged in and applied a sleeper hold. Ripley whipped her off and tagged in her partner. A.S.H. took out Zelina, then Carmella from the apron. She climbed for the ten punches with Vega’s feet on the bottom rope for more height. The fans counted along with A.S.H., who then hit her old The Purge swinging Fisherman’s buster for the pin, only for Carmella to break it up. Ripley caught her on the outside, but Carmella shoved her into the ring post and barricade. Carmella distracted A.S.H., allowing Zelina to hit the Code Red for the victory.

WINNER: Queen Zelina & Carmella at 8:15 (sunset bomb) to become Tag Team Champion contenders

(Hazelwood’s Take: I’m glad they were given time for the match, but of the three matches thus far, this was decidedly of lowest quality. Still, it did well in telling a story of how the two challengers came together and that they are actually formidable. I’m surprised a Queen/King gimmick is actually being booked to win thus far, but I’ll be more surprised should they win the titles. Also, they did a good job of setting up the other four women to come at Zelina & Carmella either as teams or individually, so props to WWE for building some more women’s division stories.)

-They showed E warming up in the back as Alpha Academy approached, saying they could help him. Chad Gable said Rollins was right in that E doesn’t have what it takes to be the face, not yet, unless he follows Gable. E said if you want me to look like a walking thumb like Otis, then no. Gable said he just earned a Master’s degree from Full Sail, then said fine, E can do what he wants and not to come complaining to him when he becomes a footnote. He said watch what happens to Finn Balor tonight when the “Master” Chad Gable turns a prince into a peasant. Otis glared at E, who just asked, “What did he do to your face?”

-Balor made his entrance for the fourth match of the night against Gable. He got a predictably big pop and all the fans did his pose with his music. They cut to break. [c]

-They returned with a promo for Veer Mahaan, now with a last name!

-Alpha Academy made their entrance for Gable’s match with Otis scowling beside him.

(4) FINN BALOR vs. CHAD GABLE (w/Otis) – Singles match

They locked up, then traded arm wringers before countering each other with mat-based maneuvers, working the left. Gable hit a twisting toehold only for Balor to spin out and grab the left arm, working another wringer. Gable flipped and bridged out, hitting a dual throat thrust to Balor, then a back waistlock takedown. He hit a sunset flip to Balor, but Balor rolled through with a basement dropkick, then a deep arm drag into a shoulder lock.

Gable used the left leg to get to his feet, then hit a knee breaker. He started working the left knee, torqueing and wrenching on the appendage. Balor kicked Gable off with his right, but Gable immediately picked the left leg for another knee breaker, but Balor blocked and went for an abdominal stretch that Gable hip tossed out of. Smith, “Who can hip toss out of an abdominal stretch like that?” Pretty much everyone, Smith. Balor hit a slingblade, but Gable stepped back from the shotgun dropkick and hit a jackknife for a near fall. He then quickly went to an ankle lock. When he dropped for a grapevine, Balor countered into an armbar, but Gable reversed into another ankle lock.

Balor rolled out and hit a double stomp to the chest of Gable. Balor kept selling the left leg, but was able to hit a few chops as he limped. Gable hit a Northern Lights suplex, rolled through, and hit a bridging German suplex for a two-count. Graves compared Gable to Kurt Angle as Gable went for a moonsault, but Balor got his knees up. Balor grabbed his knee, but he hit the shotgun dropkick to Gable in the corner. He rolled Gable to the middle of the ring as he climbed, slowly, to the top rope. Gable met him up to and hit a superplex, but Balor held on for the cradle pin and victory. He immediately escaped to avoid Otis, still limping to sell the injury. Replay clearly showed Balor’s right shoulder was off of the mat.

WINNER: Finn Balor at 5:42 (cradle pin off of a superplex)

-They shifted to last week when Omos caught The Street Profits their match that allowed Dirty Dawgs to challenge RK-Bro for the Tag Team Championship, which they lost on a spladle pin from Riddle. They showed Riddle riding in the back as he passed R-Truth, Akira Tozawa, and Drake Maverick. Dirty Dawgs stopped him, and Riddle said he’s a big fan of dogs. Robert Roode told Riddle to shut up as Dolph Ziggler said they had another match with Street Profits tonight. Ziggler said he knows RK-Bro will be on commentary, so pay attention as last week was a fluke when Riddle pinned him as they had already competed earlier in the night, calling it unfair. Roode said they had a week to recover and rest and they’ll beat The Street Profits again and RK-Bro can kiss those titles goodbye. They said they are the Dirty Dawgs and they want the smoke. Riddle made a stupid joke.

-Street Profits’ music hit as they entered in a black-and-yellow gear to a decent pop. They cut to break. [c]

-They returned with a video on Titus O’Neil being recognized to rename a school the Thaddeus M. Bullard Academy after him. They highlighted his work with youth, including comments from Bullard/O’Neil himself.

-The Street Profits were applauding O’Neil as they cut back. Dirty Dawgs made their entrance as Graves said the draft was what they needed. RK-Bro then entered to a mashup of their music that sounded better, a more mellow version of Orton’s music.

(5) THE STREET PROFITS (Angelo Dawkins & Montez Ford) vs. DIRTY DAWGS (Robert Roode & Dolph Ziggler) – Tag team match

Roode and Ford began the match with Roode gaining the early advantage. Smith put over Roode’s ring IQ. The crowd chanted loudly for “Randy!” as Roode hit a shoulder tackle. Ford hit a series of leapfrogs before hitting a hit toss. Dawkins tagged in and hit a big shoulder tackle, then suplexed his partner onto Roode for a two-count. Roode hit a gut knee and tagged in Ziggler. They went for a double team that was thwarted, but Ziggler rolled him up for a one-count as the crowd chanted “We Want Randy!” Ziggle hit a big dropkick, then tagged in Roode.

Roode hit a gut kick, but Dawkins responded with an exploder and spinning splash in the corner. They started a “We Want Randall!” chant. Roode went for the draping DDT while staring down Orton, but Dawkins tossed him over to the outside. He followed and Ford saved him by taking out Ziggler. Dawkins stared down RK-Bro as they cut to break. [c]

Dawkins was fighting off Roode as they returned, but Roode hit a gut knee and a neckbreaker for a two-count. Orton said they came out here to see what the competition was like, but they did that last week, too, right? Ziggler tagged in and they isolated Dawkins, continually working the midsection. Ziggler started bounching around as he does when he gets cocky. He distracted the ref as Roode choked Dawkins in the corner.


Roode whipped Ziggler into Dawkins in the corner, then Roode hit another neckbreaker for a two-count. He tried another pin for another two-count. Roode tagged in Ziggler and they kept the old school heel tactics of cutting off the ring and working over one tag team member. Dawkins dodged the superkick, rolled under, and hit the Silencer on Ziggler to floor both men. Ziggler tagged in Roode, who cutoff Dawkins, but Dawkins turned it into a suplex and tagged in Ford.

Ford hit a huge frogsplash crossbody to Roode, then punched ZIggler off of the apron. He hit a flying clothesline with some pushups after to Roode, flipped out of a suplex attempt, and hit a kick combo that ended with an enziguri. He then busted out a running blockbuster, almost a John Cena Throwback, for a two-count that was broken up. Roode hit an O’Conner roll, but Ford turned it into a crucifix for a two-count. Ziggler tagged in, and they hit a slingshot DDT for a two-count that was broken up by Dawkins. He then took out Roode with one punch, then sent out Ziggler. Roode dragged Dawkins to the outside, and both men threw Dawkins into the post. Ford then cleanly leaped over the corner and hit a flipping senton.

Omos’ music hit, distracting Ford long enough that Ziggler hit a superkick to Ford as Ford leaped from the top rope that the camera missed. Dawkins went after Omos after the match, but Omos threw him into the barricade. Ford leaped onto him only to be caught and tossed into the barricade. Orton tried stopping Riddle, but he attacked Omos only for Omos to hit a press slam to Riddle on the apron. Orton was irate, but he said he wasn’t mad at Omos, he’s mad at himself for not stopping Riddle. Orton then removed his jacket as they suddenly cut to a replay of last week’s Damian Priest vs. T-Bar match.

WINNER: Dirty Dawgs at 11:00 (superkick)

-Patrick approached Priest in Gorilla and said they never saw that side of Priest before. Priest said it’s always been there, but he’s been trying to keep it at bay. He gives respect, but demands it in return. He said he had respect for T-Bar until he threw the chair at him. He said you disrespect him, he’s going to take you to a dark place with him. He said in this no DQ match, T-Bar has a good opportunity to meet the “Damian” in Priest. He entered to his new music that received mostly negative reviews last week. They cut to break. [c]

(Hazelwood’s Take: It’s an indication of the lack of tag team depth that even after the draft, the tag team division is centered around these four teams with the conspicuous absence of A.J. Styles. This is also where having some jobbers, I mean enhancement talent in every area helps in that you can both build other acts while not sacrificing more established acts. Hell, just use some of the new talent at the Performance Center so they can get some TV experience quickly. Whatever the case, the men’s tag team division on Raw needs help lest we get into six-month RK-Bro feuds again.)

-They returned with Priest waiting in the ring, removing his necklace at the referee’s request. T-Bar’s music hit to literally no reaction from fans. Still having the look and music of Retribution doesn’t help. They played a pre-recorded promo where T-Bar said he knew exactly what he was doing. He said Priest wants people to believe in the mirage that he’s upstanding, but Priest is a fraud and he exposed the true colors. He said Priest will be his prey to feed on.

(6) DAMIAN PRIEST (c) vs. T-BAR – No DQ non-title match

Priest immediately went at T-Bar and the two men traded strikes with Priest getting the advantage. He hit a Cactus Jack clothesline, landing on his feet on the outside by the announcers. T-Bar took the advantage by slamming Priest’s head into the announce table, but Priest reversed an Irish whip and sent T-Bar into the barricade. The crowd wanted a table, so Priest obliged. He slid it into the ring, but turned into a big boot on the outside from T-Bar. T-Bar then threw Priest into the ringside barricade and took the table to the side by the entrance ramp and set it up on the mat outside parallel to the apron.

Priest exploded off of the ring steps with a clothesline, then looked for a chokeslam through the table. T-Bar thwarted him, then looked for a powerbomb through the table. Priest fought out, but T-Bar dodged a boot and sent Priest into the ring post face-first. T-Bar reentered the ring and reached out to drag Priest to the apron. He hit a forearm, then another as Priest was by the table. He dodged a big boot, then hit a head kick to T-Bar. He climbed to the top away from the table, but T-Bar hit a leaping knee to stop him. T-Bar then climbed to the second rope and hit an avalanche Samoan drop as they cut to break. [c]

T-Bar was in control when they returned, slugging Priest in the ring with mounted punches and a cover for a one-count. T-Bar grabbed Priest’s bob, but Priest hit a couple of big forearms, then a combo of strikes and a leaping switch kick. He hit a corner avalanche, ducked a clothesline, then hit a spinning heel kick to T-Bar. He hit the thunderclap and Broken Arrow for a two-count. Priest went to the second rope again, but T-Bar caught him with a chokeslam backbreaker for only a two-count. “I just slipped every disc in my back just looking at that,” said Smith. T-Bar then tied up Priest’s arms in the ropes, hitting some kicks. There was a faint “Let’s Go T-Bar!” chant that dueled with a faint “Let’s Go Priest!” chant.

T-Bar then grabbed a bunch of chairs and a kendo stick as Priest was still tied up in the ropes. T-Bar just swung away at Priest’s midsection, saying Priest asked for this. He broked the kendo stick on the sixth swing. He went to stab Priest with the busted end, but Priest countered and hit a big lariat that floored both men. Priest saw a chair in the ring and grabbed the chair with a manic look in his face. He waylaid T-Bar’s back with the chair, then the shoulder, a good 15 times as the crowd cheered the sadism. Priest then chokeslammed T-Bar through the table on the outside, looking maniacal, as the crowd roared.

He went outside to lift a prone T-Bar (props to T-Bar for staying limp). Priest eventually rolled T-Bar inside, who appeared to be bleeding on his face. The crowd chanted “One More Time!” as Priest hit The Reckoning for the victory. The crowd seemed to come alive toward the end.

WINNER: Damian Priest at 13:03 (The Reckoning)

-As Priest was celebrating, Apollo Crew’s music hit as he & Commander Azeez entered. Crews said that was a proper mangling on Priest’s part. He said allow him to introduce himself, Apollo Crews, as Azeez posed with him. He then introduced Azeez as “his” commander, holding that weird rounded scepter. He said they’re here to breathe new life into Monday nights and that he and Priest will be closely acquainted soon enough where Priest will have the privilege and honor to meet him in combat and lose the United States Championship.

-They cut to John Morrison in the back, still doing his search for his inner chi, telling Reggie he’s on the verge of a breakthrough. R-Truth and Toazawa attacked, with Maverick behind them, as Truth said Reggie is “on Super Nintendo mode.” Truth and Tozawa argued, but Morrison said they need to align their minds and bodies with their souls. Maverick then said Tozawa isn’t following the plan as Tozawa frustratingly yelled out the plans aren’t working. They cut to break hyping hearing from Lynch. [c]

(Hazelwood’s Take: A reminder that T-Bar has been putting on bangers FOR YEARS. Go back and watch him in the Ring of Honor Top Prospect’s Tournament from years ago and his run in ROH for an example of what he can do when unleashed. That was a great match, and it seems like fans are coming around to this version of Priest. My worries about him going heel last week seem to have been unfounded.)

-They returned with the “Smackdown Breakdown” highlighting the Halloween episode from Friday, including Brock Lesnar’s fine and the coronation of King Woods and Sir Kofi Kingston with the interruption and resultant match with The Usos.

-Smith then shifted to recapping the opening match that saw Lynch retain over Belair as Graves called the encounter “epic.” They cut to the back where Schreiber congratulated Lynch on retaining, but then shifted to asking about the “nefarious” tactics that Lynch immediately shut down and said that Schreiber was “better than that.” Lynch said the bigger issue was the fans booing her, calling them fickle and that they’ve never achieved success. She said she proved Belair is way over her head while she’s in a league of her own. Morgan suddenly appeared as Lynch just looked at her, shrugged, and walked away.

-They showed Owens taping up his wrists as Rollins approached. Owens was disgusted, but Rollins proposed a deal. He said E is trying to make a fool of him, so what if Rollins goes out there and helps Owens win so that when Rollins beats E, who gets the first opportunity? Owens reacted with mock sincerity and then said it’s fine if Rollins wants to go out there to see why Owens should be the face of Monday night (“I never said that”), but not to get involved, especially wearing that suit. Rollins said that’s fine, and Owens’ thing is just keep fighting; that worked out so well for him, right? He told Owens to keep fighting because he’ll keep winning.

-Big E made his entrance for the match. They cut to break. [c]

(Hazelwood’s Take: Looks like Morgan might be finally getting that match, and it’s been well documented that one of the talents Lynch wanted to work with after returning was Morgan. Let’s see how this goes and if Morgan can repay the trust and support many fans have in her with a solid outing against Lynch.)

-They returned with a Raw Talk promo with Balor, Dirty Dawgs, and Lynch, or “the winner’s corner” as Saxton said.

-E was in the ring as Owens’ music hit to a good pop. This was not labeled as a Championship Contenders match with no apostrophe, simply a one-fall match.

(7) BIG E (c) vs. KEVIN OWENS – Non-title match

They tied up immediately as E threw off Owens. Owens smiled then regrouped. He hit a schoolboy for a one-count and smiled as E nodded. Owens tripped E and went for a side headlock, but E fought to his feet and turned it into one of his own. Owens sent E off of the ropes, rolled through, and hit a running back elbow to floor E to modest applause. E responded with a big leapfrog and a back elbow, yelling back to Owens that that’s why he’s the face. Owens countered a Big Ending into an inverted DDT for a two-count. Owens then hit some 12-6 elbows and a leg drop for a one-count.

Owens then hit a few chops to the sizeable chest of E, then thwarted an E comeback with a boot and second rope missile dropkick. E rolled to the outside by the entrance ramp. As Owens went to hit a tope, E reentered and hit two belly-to-belly suplexes, but Owens blocked the third. E blocked a Stunner, but was sent over the top. He tripped Owens, then beat on him on the apron. He went to the apron for his big splash on the apron, but Owens rolled inside the ring. Owens went to the apron and hit a rolling senton off of the apron to E, then a running senton on the floor. Suddenly, Rollins’ music hit as he made his way, slowly and arrogantly, down the ramp in an exaggerated march as they cut to break. [c]

They returned with Owens and E both on the second rope by the timekeeper’s area with Owens looking for a superplex, and he hit! The ring shook from the impact of both men landing. The two began trading punches in the middle of the ring with Owens gaining the advantage. He hit a clothesline, but E no-sold it and asked for more. They then slapped each other a couple of times. A double clothesline had both men still standing, but then E countered a Stunner and hit a big clothesline. He hit a belly-to-belly, but missed his big running splash, Owens responded with a superkick and then a corner cannonball.

He climbed quickly, and hit the Swanton! E kicked out, but Owens landed on him FLUSH. Owens looked for the popup powerbomb, but E hopped to the side. He went for the spear through the ropes, but Owens countered. E then hit a corner uranage on a rushing Owens for a two-count. The crowd might be drained at this point. E then lifted Owens to the top rope in the corner by the steel steps by the entrance. Owens fought E off with punches and a headbutt, then went for another Swanton. E got the knees up, and even the ref reacted! Owens crawled to the apron, allowing E to hit his spear through the ropes on the hard cam side. E rolled Owens back into the ring for the Big Ending, but Owens slipped out and rammed E into the corner. However, their skulls clashed. As the ref checked on Owens, Rollins clocked E. Owens saw, was furious, but went for the pin. E turned it into a crucifix pin for the victory.

WINNER: Big E at 12:47 (crucifix pin)

-After the match, Rollins looked on in shock from the ramp as they showed replays of the ending. Owens did appear to have a slight cut on his forehead from the head clash. E asked if Owens saw Rollins hit him and if they’re working together. Owens grabbed a mic and said E, wait a minute, he knows how that looks. He said he swore, and he’s still half knocked out. He then turned to Rollins and said it’s his fault “you stupid son of a bitch.” Owens said next week, one-on-one, then we’ll see who’s laughing then, bitch. He then turned back to E and said he’s sorry. E said he doesn’t care as Owens kept apologizing. He grabbed E’s shoulder to say he apologized, but E hit him with the Big Ending. Saxton said E is in “DTA mode right now: Don’t Trust Anybody.” The show ended with Rollins clapping and E posing with his title, suspicious of both Rollins and Owens.

(Hazelwood’s Take: A decent match, but I think the crowd’s energy was sapped, which took away just a little bit from what was an otherwise three-star at worst match. I like the anguish told on Owens’ face as he saw Rollins punch E, followed by his despair in losing the match. It’s hard to dislike Owens here as his promo after just sounded really like what friends say to each other in the moment when there’s a mishap; it sounded natural. It does make sense for E to be in “DTA” mode, but I don’t think they’ve done a good enough job of telling the story of E feeling more paranoid without his brethren in The New Day around to support him. Maybe that will be next week, but at least there are some good seeds being planted for E as we roll into the last quarter of the year.)

FINAL THOUGHTS: Dare I say that was the second consecutive good episode of Raw, and by far the best episode in at least a few months? All but one match went at least a commercial break, and the one that didn’t made sense in story considering the stature of Gable at this juncture. I said I was optimistic last week, slightly, but a show like this makes me more optimistic. There are still some booking quirks, like the DQ and dirty finishes, but the match quality and storytelling have vastly improved with both the draft and the Saudi Arabia show now in the past. Many future feuds were hinted at as well, particularly in the women’s singles and tag divisions (depending on how they book it out), and the continued evolution of Priest, that should be good hooks outside of the main championship storylines. All in all, this is one episode where the pros vastly outweigh the cons. Let’s just hope this continues for the long run.

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