PWTorch editor Wade Keller presents a special Thursday Flagship edition of the Wade Keller Pro Wrestling Podcast featuring a WrestleMania 36 Preview with ex-WWE Creative Team member and professional stand-up comedian Matt McCarthy.
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WWE MONDAY NIGHT RAW PRIMER
PHOENIX, AZ. AT THE TALKING STICK RESORT ARENA
SEPTEMBER 30, 2019
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AIRS ON USA NETWORK, 8:00 p.m. EDT
BY FRANK PETEANI (@FrankPeteani), PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Announcers: Vic Joseph, Jerry “The King” Lawler, Dio Madden
Arena and Items Advertised by WWE
WWE returns to the Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, AZ. for the “season premiere” of Monday Night Raw, as we get ready to head into a new era of wrestling in a lot of ways. Raw remains home on Monday nights where Smackdown moves to Friday nights on FOX. AEW’s Dynamite gets ready to roll out this Wednesday night opposite of NXT, which will be the first full two-hour episode on USA after two weeks being split between USA and the WWE Network. The Talking Stick Resort Arena played host to Royal Rumble weekend this past January when it hosted NXT: Takeover as well as Raw and Smackdown
This past week, WWE announced new broadcast teams for Raw and Smackdown. Vic Joseph, Dio Madden, and WWE Hall of Famer Jerry “The King” Lawler will call the action on Raw. The incumbent Raw team of Michael Cole and Corey Graves slide over to Smackdown with Renee Young as a “special correspondent.” It was also announced Renee would host a new show in FS1 called “Backstage.” Graves ends his time pulling “double duty.” Some reports have now-former Smackdown announcer Tom Phillips working behind the scenes as a producer. It’s not known at the moment what’s going on with Byron Saxton, who regularly called Smackdown with Phillips and Graves.
WWE announced many segments on last week’s show and throughout the past week. Here is what’s on tap thus far:
Seth Rollins to defend the Universal Championship against Rey Mysterio
Brock Lesnar returns to Raw
Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair to guest star on “MizTV”
WWE Women’s Tag Team Champion Alexa Bliss battles Sasha Banks
Cedric Alexander receives U.S. Title rematch against A.J. Styles
Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode to defend Raw Tag Team Titles against Heavy Machinery
Matches & Segments:
Universal Championship: Seth Rollins (champ) vs. Rey Mysterio
Seth Rollins is set to defend his Universal Championship against “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt at Hell in a Cell in a HIAC match just six days from now. Last week on Raw, he took on his former tag team championship partner Braun Strowman in a non-title match. That ended when Wyatt interrupted and gave Strowman the mandible claw. He then taunted an obviously scared Rollins as he was sitting in the corner.
Rollins’ dance card is full as before we get to Sunday, he defends his Universal Championship tonight against Rey Mysterio. Rey won a fatal five-way elimination match last week to earn the title match. To date, unless Google and YouTube are lying to me, there has never been a one-on-one match between Rollins and Rey. Here’s Rey in a WWE exclusive along with his son Dominick, as well as a tweet from Rollins praising his opponent:
This is a match I’ve been looking forward to my entire life. The fact that I’m defending the Universal Title on the #RAW Season Premiere against @reymysterio in 2019 is mind boggling. Even 6 days out from #HIAC & @WWEBrayWyatt, I’ll empty the tank for one of the greatest ever. pic.twitter.com/VGfuBK4vUU
— Seth Rollins (@WWERollins) September 26, 2019
Frank’s Analysis: To put things in perspective, Rollins was three years old when Rey started wrestling. He was nine when Rey debuted with ECW and was turning 20 when he won the Royal Rumble and eventually the World Heavyweight Championship. Hopefully we don’t get shenanigans with Wyatt as this match deserves a clean finish. As far as Rollins looking scared of Wyatt last week, I get it as it fits with what they’re trying to do with the story, but it’s still unbecoming of a babyface champion. I doubt Hogan, Savage, Austin, or Rock ever would have looked or screamed like Rollins did last week.
Brock Lesnar Returns to Raw
Two weeks ago, on Smackdown, Brock Lesnar challenged Kofi Kingston for the WWE Championship. That match takes place in four days on the debut of Smackdown on FOX. Tonight however, Lesnar returns to his “old home” for lack of a better term as he pays a visit to Raw.
Lesnar recently lost the Universal Championship to Seth Rollins at SummerSlam. His last visit to this building was the Raw after the Royal Rumble where he attacked Rollins following his Rumble victory. Lesnar was then the Universal Champion.
It’s unknown what exactly Lesnar will be doing. His advocate Paul Heyman tweeted a link to his Heyman Hustle page talking about Lesnar:
LIKE – COMMENT – SUBSCRIBE
My client @BrockLesnar doesn't like to be asked questions!@WWE #RAW #SeasonPremiere @WWEonFOX
— Paul Heyman (@HeymanHustle) September 25, 2019
Frank’s Analysis: Lesnar appearing on Raw could be setting up an angle with someone possibly on the move to Smackdown should Lesnar win the WWE Championship. It’s hard to say with whom, unless you think Braun Strowman is a possibility. Lesnar is one hurdle Strowman hasn’t been able to leap. That’s just a thought I had. I wouldn’t put money on it. Drew McIntyre comes to mind as well if he returns. It could also be just to hype up the FOX debut on Smackdown as well as the match with Kofi. Putting Heyman and Lesnar on TV to do so is a smart move.
Miz TV: Guests Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair
MizTV returns to Raw tonight when WWE Hall of Famers Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair join the Miz for a special episode tonight.
Back during Miz’s first babyface run which was from the end of 2012-late 2013, WWE acknowledged Miz and Flair as friends. Miz began frequently using Flair’s Figure Four finisher and continues to use it to this day. There’s no real history between Miz and Hogan. When Miz announced this last week, boos were hear throughout the crowd. As we are well aware, Hogan was estranged from WWE from 2015-2018 for obscene racist remarks.
Frank’s Analysis: I don’t mean to be blunt, but I couldn’t care less about this segment. I would normally be happy to see Flair, but personally it’s been tough watching him in recent years. As far as Hogan goes, besides the discomfort of seeing him on TV, there’s nothing worthwhile he offers WWE programming at this stage of the game.
Alexa Bliss vs. Sasha Banks
Last week on Raw, Sasha Banks defeated one half of the WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions Nikki Cross as she got her to tap out to the Bank Statement.
Tonight, Sasha takes on the other half of the champs in Alexa Bliss. This will not be the first time they’ve done battle, as they went at it over the Raw Women’s Championship back in 2017. Sasha defeated Alexa for the title at SummerSlam but returned it the following night on Raw. Here’s that match from Raw, and also a tweet from Sasha where she replicates what Seth Rollins said about Rey Mysterio:
This is a match I’ve been looking forward 2 my entire life. The fact that I’m wrestling 1/2 of the Tag Champs on the #RAW Season Premiere against @AlexaBliss_WWE in 2019 is mind boggling. Even 6days out from #HIAC & @BeckyLynchWWE I’ll empty the tank for one of the greatest ever. pic.twitter.com/p7yTusEFJ2
— $asha Banks (@SashaBanksWWE) September 26, 2019
Sasha is obviously making fun of Seth Rollins seeing as he is engaged to Becky Lynch and both are defending their titles at Hell in a Cell inside HIAC. Seth has apparently deleted his Twitter account as an exchange between he and Sasha got heated. It’s not clear if that’s why he deleted his account. He took some heat over the summer for taunting Will Ospreay from New Japan Pro Wrestling. Nonetheless, Sasha challenges Becky for the Raw Women’s Championship inside Hell in a Cell this coming Sunday. The Four Horsewomen have been going at it on social media, as was recapped by WWE Now:
Frank’s Analysis: There’s not many talking points to this match, but a lot more to what’s going on between the Horsewomen and Rollins and Sasha. I’m sure they’ll run some kind of angle given we’re less than a week from Hell in a Cell.
U.S. Championship: A.J. Styles (champ) vs. Cedric Alexander
Cedric Alexander had a chance to become U.S. Champion a few ago at Clash of Champions but came up short as he was defeated by A.J. Styles during their match on the kickoff show. One night later, Cedric was pinned by A.J. a part of a six-man tag team match. Last week on Raw, A.J. tried to get involved in a match between his O.C. partners (Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson) and the Viking Raider (Erik & Ivar), but was ejected for his troubles. As he left the ring, Cedric attacked him from behind.
By virtue of WWE’s attack-a-champion-from-behind rule, Cedric earns himself a U.S. Championship match tonight against A.J. There’s been some standard taunting on social media:
I have a second chance and I will make it count. #AgeOfAlexander #EbonyLion https://t.co/oZP7ICT5W8
— Cedric Alexander (@CedricAlexander) September 25, 2019
New season of #Raw but the same mother-lovin’, phenomenal-forearm-deliverin’, Styles-clashin’, US-CHAMPIN’
A. J. STYLES. https://t.co/PFg2lOhzZs
— AJStyles.Org (@AJStylesOrg) September 26, 2019
Frank’s Analysis: It’s the same old WWE. Attack a champion from behind, interrupt an interview, or just have a stare down and you get a title match. It may be the season premiere, but things are still being done the same old way. On the other hand, I won’t argue with a Cedric vs. A.J. match. Their first encounter was a bit underwhelming, but you wonder if that was because they were holding better action for down the line.
Raw Tag Team Championship: Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode (champions) vs. Heavy Machinery (Otis & Tucker)
WWE continued to load up the show tonight as they announced a Raw Tag Team Championship between champs Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode and Heavy Machinery (Otis & Tucker). Roode took part in a fatal five-way elimination match last week and was one of the final two, getting defeated by Rey Mysterio. Heavy Machinery has been winning squash matches as of late, most notably over former Raw Tag Team Champions the B-Team (Curtis Axel & Bo Dallas) on Smackdown.
Heavy Machinery recently challenged Daniel Bryan & Rowan for the Smackdown Tag Team Championship but came up short at Stomping Grounds over the summer. This week, they come over from Smackdown to challenge the Raw champs. Here’s an exclusive from a few weeks ago when they beat the B-Team:
Frank’s Analysis: The mention of AOP mildly suggests they get involved in this match. Given how WWE books tag team wrestling I have no strong feelings about this match.
Other Match Results and Notable Segments from Last Week
Rusev defeated EC3 in virtually a squash match. Why has EC3 been so defined down?
Lacey Evans defeated Ember Moon via submission with a God-awful Sharpshooter.
Carmella became the 24/7 Champion when she double-crossed R-Truth and rolled him up for a pin.
Chad Gable defeated King Baron Corbin via DQ when Corbin used his scepter. Hey Corbin, go stick that scepter up your (hey hey hey…easy easy).
Follow Frank on Twitter @FrankPeteani. Questions and discussion are welcome! Thank you for reading.