The John Report: The WWE Raw Deal 09/30/19 Review (Season Premiere)


Welcome to another edition of the WWE Raw Deal review. This is the season premiere of Raw, which doesn't mean much for viewers of the show that has a new episode every week of the year. The main reason for it is because WWE's new five-year TV contracts (for over $2 billion combined in the United States alone) started this week where Raw remains on USA Network while Smackdown is on Fox. It also means pyro is back, so I'll let you know who has pyro for their entrances and who doesn't because that's important.
Live from Phoenix, Arizona, this is the Raw Deal for episode #1375 of Monday Night Raw. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. Please visit TJRWrestling.net daily for our regular updates on the wrestling business featuring WWE news coverage along with reviews about wrestling’s past and present. Thanks to Melo Man for the banner up top.
There was a new "Then, Now, Forever" opening. It was just a different sound to it.

The new Raw introduction video aired. I posted it above. The song is called "Legendary" by the band Skillet if you want to look it up. There was also pyro in the arena because PYRO IS BACK! Great.
The new Raw announce team of Vic Joseph, Dio Maddin and Jerry "The King" Lawler welcomed us to the show. They are positioned in the same spot as the previous Raw announce team on the right side of the stage, so that stayed the same.
Rey Mysterio made his entrance. The stage had a different look to it. Basically, it had more LED boards all over the stage. It was even more than what it had before. Plenty of jokes on social media about it looking like a skateboard ramp. Mysterio was in his street clothes and when he got into the ring, he pointed out his son Dominick at ringside.

Let's Hear from Rey Mysterio
Mysterio said that later tonight he's going to face Seth Rollins for the Universal Champion. Mysterio spoke in Spanish a bit and he told his son Dominick that the reason he's in this match is because of his son and he loves him. Mysterio said that tonight he's going to bring that Universal Championship home...and here comes Brock Lesnar with Paul Heyman.
Brock Lesnar made his entrance and the pyro was back for his entrance, which was cool to see. Lesnar and Heyman did a slow walk around the ring until they went into the ring to join Mysterio. It's like Smackdown 2002-03 all over again.

When Heyman tried to do his introduction, Mysterio took the microphone out of his hands. Mysterio tried to say something, so Lesnar grabbed Mysterio and gave him a F5. They showed Dominick looking on at ringside. Lesnar picked up Mysterio and dropped him with another F5. After Lesnar paced around the ring a little bit, Lesnar stared at Dominick at ringside.
Lesnar left the ring and got in Dominick's face while Lawler yelled for Dominick to leave or just sit down. Lesnar grabbed Dominick at ringside and tossed him over the barricade. Lesnar picked up Dominick, drove him back first into the steel ring post and gave him a body slam on the floor. Lesnar whipped Dominick into the ring. Lesnar picked up Dominick and gave him a German Suplex across the ring. Mysterio went after Lesnar, so Lesnar dropped Mysterio with an F5.
Lesnar left the ring, then he changed his mind and went back into the ring. Lesnar gave Mysterio a suplex across the ring. Lesnar grabbed Dominick and tossed him across the ring as well. That led to Producers like Fit Finlay, Pat Buck and referees to go into the ring to check on Mysterio. Lesnar left the ring at that point as Heyman told Lesnar to stop the attack. Lesnar went back into the ring. Lesnar stomped on Buck (a former wrestler) and he kicked Finlay out of the ring. Lesnar tossed Mysterio and Dominick out of the ring. Lesnar took his shirt off, the crowd booed him for his actions and Lesnar finally left. That took us to about 14 minutes in the show.
Analysis: I thought that was really well done as a way to get cheap heat for Lesnar. You could ask logical questions like how come nobody tried to really stop Lesnar when he pulled a fan over the barricade (Dominick)? That's just something we get used to as wrestling fans. Sometimes there are brawling moments where things are broken up quickly and at other times, nobody breaks it up. Anyway, it was good as an angle to get the crowd to hate Lesnar more and also build up sympathy for Mysterio wanting revenge. The weird thing about all of that is that Lawler kept saying that Dominick is a teenager. A quick Mysterio search shows that Dominick was born in 1997, so he's 22 years old. He was 8 years old when the Mysterio/Guerrero feud dominated much of Smackdown in 2005. Dominick is three years older than a teenager. Weird math, Jerry. Dominick is also a trained wrestler or at least he's been to a few wrestling schools, including Lance Storm in Calgary. I know they want us to think Dominick’s just an innocent kid, but Lawler calling him a teen was silly.

(Commercial)
They showed replays of Lesnar's attack on Mysterio and Dominick. They put Dominick on a stretcher, Mysterio repeatedly told his son he was sorry and Dominick was taken away on the stretcher.
Sasha Banks entered for the first match. She challenges Becky Lynch for the Raw Women's Championship inside the Hell in a Cell structure at Hell in a Cell. Alexa Bliss made her entrance with the Women's Tag Team Title around her waist and a nice pop. Bliss got pyro for her entrance while Banks did not. Joseph noted that Bayley and Nikki Cross were banned from ringside.
Becky Lynch made her entrance with the Raw Women's Championship in her hands. There was some smoke for her entrance as she posed on the stage.

Alexa Bliss vs. Sasha Banks
Bliss stomped away with kicks, Banks sent Bliss to the apron and hit her with a forearm to knock her to the apron. Banks trash-talked from the ring, so Lynch stood on the table to trash talk back at Banks.
(Commercial)
There was only a 30-second break as Banks took control with a kick to the ribs. Lynch was taping up her wrists to tease that she was fighting. There were sirens that were heard in the arena, so we are to assume we could hear the ambulance taking Dominick away. Bliss with a headscissors takedown that sent Banks to the turnbuckle. Bliss with two clotheslines, then a leg trip and Banks came back with a knee to the face for two. Lynch had her wrists taped now. Banks pretended as if Bayley was at ringside, so she called for help, there was no Bayley, so Banks kicked the knee and pinned Bliss. That's it? Weak finish. It went about four minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Sasha Banks
Analysis: *1/2 A quick match to put over Banks. That was one of the weakest finishes for a match that I can ever remember. I'm not sure what they were going for with that. Banks winning by submission would have been better. Banks winning was the right call since she's in the title match at Hell in a Cell on Sunday.

Post match, Becky Lynch went into the ring to go after Banks. They got into a brawl with punches and forearms from Lynch. Banks left ringside and jumped the barricade to run away. Lynch did a promo saying they were just getting started. Lynch told Banks that she's not leaving the cell until she is done with her and now Lynch can't stop the carnage. Lynch said that Banks made it personal and Lynch is going to make it painful. Lynch added that retribution is coming around.
Analysis: It was just a quick interaction leading to Banks doing the heel thing by leaving the ring. I liked Lynch's promo.

The announcers plugged what was still to come: Miz TV with Ric Flair and Hulk Hogan, Seth Rollins vs. Rey Mysterio for the Universal Title (if Rey is able) and Firefly Fun House with Bray Wyatt.
Robert Roode and Dolph Ziggler made their entrances for a Raw Tag Team Title match. They did not get pyro for their entrances.
(Commercial)
There was a graphic that let us know The Rock will be on Smackdown this Friday on Fox in Los Angeles. That was announced by Rock earlier on Monday. Finally, The Rock is back in a WWE ring. That's great.
Charly Caruso was ready for an interview with Seth Rollins, but first there was a video package showing Bray Wyatt/The Fiend tormenting Rollins again.

Seth Rollins was interviewed by Caruso. Rollins said he was disappointed and disgusted by Lesnar's actions against Mysterio, but that's what Brock does. Rollins said he doesn't know how to gameplan against a guy like Bray Wyatt, but at HIAC he'll find a way to walk out as the Universal Champion. Rollins said this is the season premiere of Raw in Phoenix (cheap pop) and he noted that Mysterio is in no condition for a match tonight, but he'll give Rey a shot when he's ready. Rollins said he promised a Universal Title match tonight and he doesn't know who it will be against, but somebody will step up and Rollins will burn it down.
Analysis: It's a shame that they did the angle to remove the Rollins/Mysterio match that a lot of people were looking forward to. However, by having Rollins say he's still going to do a Universal Title match, it builds up anticipation for another match later.
How long did Roode and Ziggler have to stand in the ring during all of that? Maybe five minutes. That's a lot of standing around. The Heavy Machinery team entered to a decent reaction.

Raw Tag Team Championships: Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode vs. Heavy Machinery (Otis and Tucker)
Tucker hit a shoulder tackle on Ziggler to knock him down followed by a dropkick for two. Otis got the tag, Tucker picked up Ziggler and then Otis took over the suplex on Ziggler. Roode tagged in, Otis ran through a double clothesline attempt and hit a double shoulder block. Tucker tagged in leading to a delayed double suplex by Heavy Machinery. There was a double knee attack by Heavy Machinery leading to a break.
(Commercial)
The match returned with the heels taking over when they sent Tucker out of the ring. Roode attacked Tucker outside the ring to give the heels control. Ziggler with a neckbreaker on Tucker for a two count followed by Ziggler grabbing a headlock. Roode tagged in with a spinebuster on Tucker for a two count. Tucker with a catapult that sent legal man Ziggler into the turnbuckle. Otis got the hot tag against Roode with a shoulder tackle. Roode with chops, Otis did some hip gyrating and then an overhead slam across the ring. Otis with a spinning body slam on Ziggler, Otis with a splash on Roode. That led to Otis doing his popular Caterpillar spot leading to a double elbow drop on both guys. The crowd loved that. Roode jumped off the turnbuckle, Otis caught him and Tucker tagged in looking for the Compactor, but Ziggler stopped Tucker. Ziggler with a Zig Zag on Tucker, a superkick on Otis and the heels sent Otis into the turnbuckle. Ziggler with a superkick on Tucker and Roode hit a Glorious DDT on Tucker for the pinfall win after 11 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode
Analysis: *** Good tag team match. The chemistry between Ziggler and Roode continues to grow, which is not a surprise since they are veterans that know what they are doing out there. I'm also impressed by Heavy Machinery because they improve every time out there. Every Heavy Machinery tag team match has the same formula where they build up to Otis getting the hot tag and the crowd really gets behind him. They set up the finish well by taking Otis and finishing off Tucker with two finishing moves back to back. Well done.

There was a shot of Ric Flair and Hulk Hogan with Jimmy Hart walking backstage. They were shown on split screens. They are up next.
(Commercial)
There was a plug for Total Divas on Tuesday on E Network, NXT on Wednesday on USA Network, Smackdown on Friday on Fox and Hell in a Cell on Sunday on WWE Network.

Miz TV with Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair
The Miz made his entrance for the top of hour two talk show segment. Miz said before he gets started, he wants to send his support to Rey and Dominick Mysterio. Miz said that as a father of two (one daughter born last week), he doesn't know what he would do if somebody put their hands on his child. He said he hopes Rey and Dominick are okay.
Miz said this is the most highly anticipated Miz TV ever with his first guest, the 16-time World Champion Ric Flair. Great pop for the "Nature Boy" Ric Flair, who walked out in a suit looking like only he can look. When Flair went into the ring, he said he's always liked Miz and he was impressed by The Miz's suit.
Miz introduced a 13-time World Champion and a WWE Hall of Famer Hulk Hogan, who was accompanied by Jimmy Hart. Hulk was in a Hulkamania shirt and jeans. Jimmy looks way younger than he is. Joseph and Maddin on commentary were thrilled to be there. The fans gave Hogan and Flair a big ovation as they stood in the ring.
Flair said he’s had to listen to Hogan’s damn music for 30 years and he’s tired of it. Hogan did a “WOO” at Flair and Miz said that they have had to listen to the Woo’s a lot longer. The guys sat in chairs in the ring except Jimmy. Miz said he can’t think of better guests on the season premiere on Raw than two all-time greats.

Hogan did one of his promos saying it was great to be there with Raw, great to be there in Phoenix and great to be in the ring with the “greatest of all time” Ric Flair.
Flair said that Hogan may be recognized as the greatest draw in this company – Hogan, Austin and Taker, but as far as being in this damn ring, “nobody touches me, brother.” Flair said that in this squared circle, he ain’t got an equal and that includes Hogan tonight.
Hogan said it sounds to him like Flair wants to take one more run at the 24-inch pythons. Flair took off his jacket and the fans went crazy with a standing ovation. Flair even bounced off the ropes, then Hogan did a finger point and they shook hands. Hogan said they are definitely not spring chickens anymore. The fans chanted “one more match” for them. Hogan said that they can add one more page to their legacy. Flair said he wants a paycheck with as many zeroes as Hogan so wherever Hulk is going, Ric is going too.
Analysis: The thought of one more match fired up this crowd, but there’s no way that’s going to happen for Flair in his 70s after major surgeries in the last few years. Hogan doesn’t move well and has had knee/hip replacement surgeries. The fans may want it, but those days are over.

The Miz said he had a huge announcement that both men know about. Miz said that on October 31 at Crown Jewel, there will be a 5 on 5 tag team match with Team Hogan vs. Team Flair. Crown Jewel is in Saudi Arabia, but that part was not mentioned.
Hogan asked what are you gonna do when Hulkamania and his team captain runs wild on Flair? That led to Seth Rollins, the Universal Champion, making his entrance as Hogan’s team captain.
Seth Rollins made his entrance with the Universal Title around his waist and he went into the ring where he shook Seth’s hand. Rollins said he’s got a lot on his plate, but little 5-year-old Rollins would be kicking him in the shins if he did not accept this offer. Rollins did a Hogan like promo and said that they will burn it down.
Randy Orton entered for Team Flair and Ric was excited to see his Evolution buddy. Orton is the team captain for Flair’s team.
Orton said he wants Seth’s undivided attention so if he doesn’t mind, could he crawl out of Hogan’s ass for a second? Good line! Orton said he’s the captain of Team Flair leading to a “Woo” from Flair. Orton said over the next month they’ll pick members of their team. Orton suggested a captain’s match right here, right now. Rollins agreed to it.

The Miz TV set was cleared from the ring, a referee went to the ring and there were ringside attendants that took the carpet out of the ring. However, Baron Corbin’s music hit to interrupt.
Baron Corbin made his entrance in his King Corbin attire. Orton attacked Rollins from behind with a punch. Rollins fought back on Orton, but Corbin went into the ring and hit Rollins in the back with a scepter. The heels double teamed Rollins, but Rusev made the save with a clothesline on Orton and a spin kick on Corbin. Rusev with a Machka Kick on Orton, Rollins with a superkick on Corbin, Rusev with a Machka Kick on Corbin and Rollins hit a suicide dive on Corbin. The fans were chanting “Rusev Day” for Rusev.
Rollins and Rusev went up the ramp where they shook hands with Hogan, so they are on the same team. Hogan did some posing with the wrestlers on the stage.
Analysis: The 5 on 5 match at Crown Jewel is an interesting idea just because they always try to have a theme for the Saudi Arabian shows. It’s only a few weeks before Survivor Series, though, so it will take some of the luster away from Survivor Series. Having Hogan and Flair as captains will make fans care about it more. Their promo was a lot of fun. I like Rollins and Orton as captains too. Rusev was booked well as a face making the save for Rollins. That should get Rusev more support and it was nice to hear the “Rusev Day” chants again. For those of you that wanted Flair and/or Hogan to put over Bray Wyatt, that didn’t happen here. I thought it might, but they went in another direction and that’s okay. Overall, I thought this was pretty good.

There was a replay of Dominick being driven away in an ambulance with Rey Mysterio joining his son. Rey took off his mask as he sat in the ambulance.
(Commercial)
Rusev was shown walking backstage. Charly Caruso walked up to him saying it was good to see Rusev step up to be a part of Team Hogan. Caruso asked where’s Lana? Rusev didn’t say anything. Rusev said he’s not here to talk about his problems at home. Rusev said that the only one to save Seth Rollins was him, so he knows Seth owes him a debt. Rusev looked into the camera where he challenged Rollins to a Universal Title match tonight.
Analysis: The line about “his problems at home” set up what was coming up later in the show.

The announce team talked about NXT on Wednesday with Adam Cole vs. Matt Riddle for the NXT Championship. Also, the Smackdown season premiere on Fox on Friday with Kofi Kingston defending the WWE Title against Brock Lesnar. This Sunday at Hell in a Cell, it’s Seth Rollins vs. Bray Wyatt for the Universal Championship.
The AOP tag team of Akam and Rezar did another seated promo while wearing suits. They spoke in foreign languages again. They talked about how they crave violence and they learned to bring the violence. That’s how they became the Authors of Pain. Simple enough.
The Viking Raiders made their entrance. No pyro for them.
A commercial aired for The Rock appearing on Smackdown on Fox this Friday.
(Commercial)

It was official for later in the show: Seth Rollins vs. Rusev for the Universal Championship.
Analysis: It could have been set up better, but at least it's a fresh match for Rollins.
The team of Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson were already in the ring when the show returned. They did this match last week when Viking Raiders beat G&A.

The Viking Raiders (Erik and Ivar) vs. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson
Erik worked over Anderson with a knee to the face, Ivar with a knee to the ribs and a kick. Gallows with a running splash on Ivar against the turnbuckle followed by punches. Gallows with an elbow drop. Erik tagged in with a forearm for Anderson and Erik hit a knee to the jaw of Anderson leading to a break.
(Commercial)

The match returned with G&A in control. There was a double team neckbreaker by G&A leading to Gallows getting a two count on Erik. Lawler mentioned the fans sitting there in “stunned silence” while adding that the teams are beating the hell out of eachother. It’s not good to mention stunned silence. Anyway, Ivar tagged in with a belly to back slam on Anderson, then a running cross body block, cartwheel into a clothesline and Erik tagged back in. Ivar hit a clothesline on Anderson into a German Suplex by Erik for two as Gallows made the save. Gallows tagged back in, Erik slammed Anderson across the ring and Gallows hit a spinebuster for a two count on Erik. Lawler tried one of his jokes, but nobody laughed. That was awkward. Ivar hit a dive on Anderson no the floor. Erik slammed Gallows. Ivar went up top and hit a Superfly Splash on Gallows for the pinfall win after about 10 minutes. The crowd popped for the finish since Ivar is a 300 pounder.
Winners by pinfall: The Viking Raiders (Erik and Ivar)
Analysis: **1/4 It was a solid tag team match with a predictable outcome because we saw the same thing last week. Two wins in a row is better than 50/50 booking. The crowd wasn’t into most of it, but then they got into it more when the Viking Raiders made the comeback because their offense is cool to watch. Since the Viking Raiders are faces now, it makes sense for them to be the next challengers against Roode/Ziggler or maybe The Revival depending on what show they end up on.

Charly Caruso was shown backstage talking about how Rey Mysterio and Dominik will not be back, but Brock Lesnar’s still there with Paul Heyman so they can explain their actions. Caruso said people believe what Lesnar did to Mysterio and Dominik was criminal. Cesaro said nobody cared about Mysterio or Dominik and he liked what Lesnar did. Ricochet went up to Cesaro, defended Mysterio, they got into some trash talk and that set up a match between them.
There was a commercial for NXT on USA Network on Wednesday. Sadly, they don’t show it live here in Canada.
(Commercial)
Ricochet entered for his match. I was expecting some pyro or maybe some other cool stuff for his entrance, but there wasn’t much to it. For an exciting young babyface like Ricochet, he should get pyro. Anyway, Cesaro was up next as the opponent.

Cesaro vs. Ricochet
Ricochet with a dropkick for a two count. Cesaro came back with a shoulder tackle. Ricochet launched Cesaro over the top to the floor. Ricochet hit a twisting splash over the top onto Cesaro on the floor. Back in the ring, Cesaro hit a backbreaker for two. Cesaro grabbed a headlock, Ricochet to the ropes and Cesaro hit a press slam into a knee to the face. That was almost like a GTS. It got a two count. Ricochet avoided a corner attack, Cesaro hit the ring post and Ricochet hit a springboard hurricanrana for the pinfall win after about three minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Ricochet
Analysis: ** It was fun while it lasted, but it was too short for wrestlers as good as these two. It would have been nice to see them get more time. Ricochet is more of a rising star, so it makes sense that he got the win. Cesaro is consistently great even though he’s not pushed like that.  It was a Rey Mysterio-like finish for Ricochet since that’s called the West Coast Pop when Mysterio does it.
The Firefly Fun House is up next.
(Commercial)

Firefly Fun House
Bray Wyatt was on the Firefly Fun House set with Abby the Witch crying, Huskus the Pig looked nervous, the Buzzard was also worried and Rambling Rabbit said he was scared to death. Wyatt showed up to say Rambling Rabbit is gone, then he said “oh well” and tossed him across the room. Abby said that they are all terrified about what will happen to Seth Rollins at Hell in a Cell against The Fiend. Wyatt told them to calm down and said it’s okay to be scared because he’s scared too. Wyatt said there’s nothing like Hell in a Cell. Wyatt told Huskus it's a world without chocolate…only worse. Wyatt said it’s a terrible, horrible, awful place and you can enter, but you can never truly leave without the emotional and physical scars. Wyatt said that Rollins will be there with him. Wyatt said that “He” will protect them and he’ll come back no matter what. Wyatt said he doesn’t think Seth Rollins will be so fortunate. Wyatt said that he had a bad feeling that “He” cannot wait to hurt Seth. Wyatt said he’s going to try to find him to tell him to be nice to Seth Rollins. Wyatt left briefly, then showed up and laughed…saying just kidding. “Let me in” said Wyatt and he said by. What? No “see you in hell” this week? That’s a shame.
Analysis: They are doing a great job of building up The Fiend as a scary type of wrestler. He’s a heel, but fans react to him as a star.
AJ Styles made his entrance for his US Title match. I figured that entrance would have pyro, but he didn’t have any. Cedric Alexander entered as the opponent with not much of a reaction for him.

United States Championship: AJ Styles vs. Cedric Alexander
Styles tried a quick attack, but Alexander came back with a dropkick. Styles with a punch and Alexander hit a dropkick. Styles with a forearm to block an attack from Alexander. Styles with a neckbreaker using the ropes as an assist followed by a slingshot over the top leading to a forearm to the face on the floor.
(Commercial)
The match returned with Styles in control until Alexander hit a springboard flatliner off the ropes. Cool move. Styles charged, Alexander jumped up with a knee to the face and a jumping kick to the head. Alexander with a back elbow to the face, he put Styles on the shoulders and dropped him into a kick to the face for two. Alexander was shocked that didn’t get him the victory. Good reaction by Alexander. The fans were into this match as they chanted for both guys and Styles hit a reverse DDT for two. Styles hit a forearm while on the apron, Styles went for the Phenomenal Forearm, but Alexander moved and Alexander hit a Michinoku Driver slam for a two count. The fans were chanting for both guys again. Styles blocked an Alexander attack, Styles hit a German Suplex and hit a sitout slam that sent Alexander face first into the mat for two. Styles wanted a Styles Clash, Alexander fought out and got a rollup for two. Alexander wanted a Lumbar Check, Styles rolled through into a sweet counter and Styles hit a Styles Clash for the pinfall win after 10 minutes. Great finish to that match!
Winner by pinfall: AJ Styles
Analysis: ***1/2 This was very good. I loved the finish with great counters from both guys and Styles found a way to get another win. There weren’t chinlocks or rest spots in this match. It was fast-paced action that was a lot of fun to watch. They were given around ten minutes and made the most of that time with a fast-paced match. Styles has beaten Alexander multiple times now, so that’s likely the end of this rivalry. I’d love to see Styles feud with somebody like Aleister Black or Buddy Murphy when they do the draft in a few weeks.

The Street Profits duo of Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins did one of their hype promos backstage. They plugged their NXT Tag Team Title match on Wednesday when they challenge the Undisputed Era for the titles. They said today it’s about Rollins vs. Rusev and Dawkins mentioned The Fiend, so Ford told him not to say his name. Ford said he was talking to an old janitor that said if you say The Fiend’s name three times he appears and Dawkins asked why he was talking to an old janitor. Anyway, they moved on and got into their “we want the smoke” song. Lawler joked that he wants their gig where they get paid by the word.
Lacey Evans entered for a match after the break.
The announcers went over the Hell in a Cell card: Becky Lynch vs. Sasha Banks for the Raw Women’s Title in a Hell in a Cell match, Seth Rollins vs. The Fiend/Bray Wyatt for the Universal Title in a Hell in a Cell match and Luke Harper/Erick Rowan vs. Daniel Bryan/Roman Reigns. That’s it. Three matches only for a PPV that’s on Sunday. I know it's a busy week, but it's odd to have so few matches announced.
(Commercial)
Natalya was in the ring for the match as there was another plug for Total Divas. Vic Joseph claimed he couldn’t wait for Total Divas, so he’s good at bullshit like Michael Cole.

Lacey Evans vs. Natalya
Natalya sent Evans to the top rope and then slammed her down. Evans with a kick to the leg and then Evans whipped Natalya into the steel steps. Back in the ring, Evans slapped on a chinlock. Evans with a corner splash attack against the turnbuckle. Natalya broke a chinlock, but Evans came back with a swinging neckbreaker. Evans to the turnbuckle, Natalya tripped her up and Natalya followed with punches as well as her spinning clothesline for two. Evans blocked a Sharpshooter attempt by kicking Natalya away. The referee pulled Natalya back, so Evans gouged the eyes. Evans followed up with a rollup where she sat on top and put her hands on the leather pants. There was no pull of the tights because Natalya was in pants. The match went four minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Lacey Evans
Post match, Evans decked Natalya with a Woman’s Right punch. Evans left victorious.
Analysis: *1/2 It was decent with Evans getting another victory because WWE wants to keep building her up with meaningful wins. Natalya has put over Lynch, Banks and Evans in the last two months because WWE knows she’ll make them look great. Thank you Lacey for not attempting a horrible looking Sharpshooter.

Up next is more on the Lesnar/Mysterio story.
(Commercial)
There was a clip of John Cena working with the FIT OPS Foundation and raising money for that organization that helps veterans achieve greatness in fitness and in life. He said starting right now up until Veteran’s Day (November 11) he will match whatever is donated up to $1 million. Yes, he has a lot of money. Anyway, donate at fitops.org/donate if you want to support a great cause.
There were highlights shown of Brock Lesnar’s attack on Rey Mysterio and his son Dominick from the opening segment of the show. Dominick ended up being taken away in an ambulance with Mysterio repeatedly saying “I’m sorry” to his son.

Paul Heyman was interviewed backstage by Sarah Schreiber. Heyman said you don’t get to talk to Brock Lesnar. Heyman said he apologizes to Rey and Dominick for those actions, but if you want somebody to blame, then blame Vince McMahon for allowing Heyman to bring Lesnar to the Season Premiere of Raw when you know Lesnar is in fight mode. Heyman said there are a lot of tough guys in WWE, in this industry, in MMA, in professional sports and not one of them can do a damn thing to stop Lesnar. Heyman said not one of them can stop Lesnar from what he’ll do in the WWE Title match against Kofi Kingston on Smackdown. Heyman said Kofi can thank God for the Power of Positivity, but the devil can thank him for Brock Lesnar lining up the victims like Rey, Dominick and Kofi Kingston. Heyman said this Friday on Fox it’s not a prediction it’s a spoiler, you will hear these words: “Your winner and new reigning, defending, undisputed WWE Heavyweight Champion of the World…Brock Lesnar.” I don’t think Sarah said a word.
There was another plug for Kingston vs. Lesnar for the WWE Title on Fox on Smackdown.
Analysis: Great promo from Heyman as usual. Based on what happened in that Lesnar/Mysterio angle, it makes me think that Mysterio will cost Lesnar the WWE Title match against Kofi Kingston on Smackdown. There is some speculation from Dave Meltzer that this could lead to former UFC Champion Cain Velasquez signing with WWE because he's a wrestler now. When Heyman mentioned people in MMA and sports that can't stop Lesnar, it could have been a sign that Cain is headed to WWE soon. It's just a rumor right now.
Maria Kanellis was interviewed by Charly Caruso, who asked about Maria’s baby situation and who the father is. Maria said Rusev is not the father and she thinks that Rusev has enough going on with Lana. Maria left. Sasha Banks showed up, grabbed the microphone and said she’ll show Becky Lynch carnage at Hell in a Cell and she’ll make Becky tap out. Banks said that no "man" will win her match.

There was a limousine that pulled up to the arena.
(Commercial)
There was another commercial for The Rock on Smackdown this Friday.
This Friday on Smackdown on Fox there will also be Sasha Banks and Bayley vs. Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair. Also, Kevin Owens vs. Shane McMahon in a Ladder Match where the loser is fired. In other words, Shane McMahon will get a vacation for a few months until he’s brought back to TV around WrestleMania time.
Rusev was already in the ring for the Universal Champion. The poor guy didn’t get a full intro for a major championship match. That’s a shame. Seth Rollins made his entrance with the Universal Championship. Baron Corbin and Randy Orton were already on the stage to watch the match. During the commercial, Corbin was sitting the cheap throne for King of the Ring and the throne broke. It must be very cheap.

Universal Championship: Seth Rollins vs. Rusev
Rollins tried to get some momentum with a running attack, but Rusev caught him and gave him a fallaway slam, which led to Rollins rolling to the floor. As they went to break, a graphic of The Fiend was shown to tease an appearance.
(Commercial)
There were about six minutes left in the show when the match returned. Rollins hit a boot to the face and a Blockbuster neckbreaker off the ropes. Rollins followed with a Slingblade. Rusev tried a suplex, Rollins landed on his feet, Rusev charged, Rollins ducked and Rusev went to the floor. Rollins hit two suicide dives to send Rusev into the barricade. Back in the ring, Rollins went for a cross body block, Rusev caught him and Rollins hit an inside cradle. Rusev with a kick to the head followed by a spinning slam for a two count. Lawler said that marriages in the wrestling business never work out…just like that Otis guy in Heavy Machinery. The other announcers didn’t laugh. Rollins avoided a kick, got a rollup and hit a weak looking side kick. Rollins hit a Falcon Arrow slam on Rusev for a two count. Rollins charged, Rusev sidestepped him, Rollins to the apron and Rusev countered a springboard attack with a kick to the head. The match stopped there because Bobby Lashley’s music hit. I guess we’ll call it a No Contest after about 10 minutes.
Match Result: No Contest
Analysis: *3/4 The work in the match was fine, but I absolutely hate it when the match is ignored while somebody else gets a full entrance. It takes away from the match too much. Anyway, neither guy hit a finishing move and they didn’t have any believable nearfall spots. It was just going through the motions for most of it.

Bobby Lashley made his entrance in his full ring gear. Lashley was out of action since mid-July because he had bone chips in his elbow. It’s weird seeing wrestlers in full ring gear when they don’t have a match. Lashley pointed to the entrance and that led to the ravishing Lana emerging to join him on the stage. Lana’s music played. This was her first appearance since around WrestleMania.
Lana joined Lashley on the stage while Rusev looked on from inside the ring. Lana held hands with Lashley and they hugged. After that, Lashley kissed Lana on the lips and they continued to aggressively make out on the stage. Rusev looked on from ringside with a disgusted look on his face. They stopped briefly, but then they continued to kiss some more. Lashley was holding Lana’s leg in the air as they kissed again. The fans reacted in horror with a loud “ohhh” reaction to it. Rusev just stood there doing nothing as his wife Lana kissed Lashley. After nearly one minute of that, it stopped.
Analysis: That was totally unexpected. This is the kind of thing that will get mixed reactions from fans because a lot of people don’t ever want a romance angle or anything like that. I think it’s a good thing for Lashley because it will get him more heel heat than he could ever get on his own. Rusev will become more of a sympathetic babyface since his wife is cheating on him with another wrestler. Why wouldn’t Rusev leave the ring to go after Lashley? That’s not going to be addressed, but that’s something fans are going to think about when they watch something like that. It’s just a storyline to try to make these characters more interesting, but in today’s world with social media, that’s going to mean Lana and Rusev will have to keep apart on Instagram and stuff like that. I’m sure it’s awkward for Rusev to see his wife making out with another guy on the roster, but that’s the storyline. It wreaks of Paul Heyman’s decision making since he has done stuff like that in the past in ECW and when he was booking Smackdown (Dawn Marie comes to mind). I also assume the person in the limo was Lana or maybe Lana with Lashley, just in case you were wondering about that.

The lights went out in the arena with Rollins at ringside. The spotlight appeared at ringside to show The Fiend Bray Wyatt giving the Mandible Claw to Seth Rollins. It focused on The Fiend dominating Rollins and then the Wyatt played in the darkened arena to end the show.
Analysis: The Fiend continues to look dominant going into the Hell in a Cell match. It’s a hard match to predict, but I find it difficult to pick against The Fiend. I just don’t know how they would book things after with The Fiend as the Universal Champion. I’m definitely intrigued by how they book the match.

Three Stars of the Show

  1. AJ Styles
  2. Brock Lesnar
  3. Rey Mysterio

The Scoreboard
6 out of 10
Last week: 7
2019 Average: 5.85 (Smackdown is 6.74)
Last 5 Weeks: 7, 7, 8, 6, 7.5
2019 High: 8 (September 9)
2019 Low: 3.5 (May 27)

Final Thoughts
This week’s Raw gets a 6 out of 10.
This was a bit of step back after three straight above-average episodes of Raw. This one was good for the first hour and a bit, but then it lost some steam. The ending was bizarre although it should get people talking at least. Even though there were three title matches, the champions retained in those matches as expected.
I thought the announce team was fine. They didn’t do anything to stand out in a positive or negative way. It was awkward a few times when Lawler tried his jokes and the other guys didn’t laugh at all. Lawler repeatedly saying Dominick is a teenager when Dominick is really 22 years old was ridiculous too. Joseph is good on play by play. Maddin is just a regular analyst and not heelish. The lack of bickering is a plus.
I’m sure the biggest talking points on the show will be Lesnar’s attack on Mysterio and Dominick, which I felt was a good angle. Then there was the finish with Lashley making out with Lana. It will make the Lashley/Rusev feud feel more personal, so that’s a good thing. I’m sure Lana doesn’t mind being in the spotlight either.


The next WWE PPV is Hell in a Cell on October 6. Here’s the official lineup so far.
Hell in a Cell Match for the WWE Universal Championship: Seth Rollins (c) vs. “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt
Hell in a Cell Match for the Raw Women’s Championship: Becky Lynch (c) vs. Sasha Banks
Roman Reigns and Daniel Bryan vs. Erick Rowan and Luke Harper
That's all for now. More matches to come.

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John Canton

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