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Live from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, this is the Raw Deal for episode #1325 of Monday Night Raw. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. Thanks to Melo Man for the banner up top.

Raw began with the trio of Braun Strowman and Raw Tag Team Champions Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre. Strowman challenges Roman Reigns for the Universal Championship in a triple threat with Brock Lesnar.

The announce team of Michael Cole, Corey Graves and Renee Young welcomed us to the show. They plugged Rollins vs. McIntyre and Ambrose vs. Ziggler. Both of those matches are World Cup qualifiers.

Let’s Hear From Strowman, Ziggler and McIntyre

Dolph Ziggler said that they are the most dominant group in WWE history with McIntyre saying that they didn’t need matching tactical vests to prove it. Strowman said that they proved it against The Shield last week and Ziggler cued up a replay from last week.

The replay aired from last week with McIntyre pinning Ambrose after a Claymore Kick in a very good six-man tag team main event match. After the match, Ambrose walked away from his Shield buddies on his own. In a post show interview, Ambrose said that maybe he doesn’t fit in anywhere anymore.

McIntyre said he told us that because they didn’t just beat The Shield last week, they broke The Shield. McIntyre said he can only wonder where Dean’s mind is at right now while adding that Reigns and Rollins were the only ones that have benefitted from that relationship. McIntyre said that finally Ambrose’s eyes have been pried open and finally The Shield have been shattered. Strowman said that The Shield isn’t going to be there to watch Roman’s back at Crown Jewel.

McIntyre said that he’ll beat Seth Rollins and go onto the World Cup at Crown Jewel where he’ll prove he’s the best in the world. Ziggler said that after he beats Ambrose, maybe he’ll go head to head with McIntyre in the finals. McIntyre said that he’s good, but “you’re no Drew McIntyre.” Strowman said that as good as both of them are, at Crown Jewel, Lesnar and Roman are both going to…get these hands. The crowd joined in on that last part even though Strowman is a heel. The Shield’s music hit.

The Shield walked out on the stage rather than coming in from the crowd. However, it was only Universal Champion Roman Reigns and Intercontinental Champion Seth Rollins. Remember when they would defend those titles? It’s not that often. No Dean Ambrose. Rollins said that they are not shattered or broken because The Shield is alive and well. Rollins said that he’s got news for Drew and Dolph by telling him that the world already knows that Seth Rollins is the best in the world. That may be true. Ziggler said what a great speech from “two-thirds of The Shield.” Ziggler asked where Ambrose was and said he didn’t care if Ambrose showed up. Rollins said that Dean runs on Ambrose time, so he does what he wants and the bottom line is Ambrose always shows up.

Reigns said that they are worried about Dean when they should be worried about these titles. Reigns told Strowman that after Crown Jewel, he’s going to the back of the line. Rollins said that he’s always loved Philadelphia and said that the cheesesteaks are fantastic, but he always liked Philly because it’s a fighting town. Rollins said he should have his qualifying match with McIntyre right here and right now. McIntyre was ready, so that’s up next.

Analysis: It was a solid opening promo to set the stage for what was to come later in the show. That’s standard for Raw. The absence of Ambrose was likely done to tell the story of whether he was going to show up to join his Shield buddies and be there for his match against Ziggler. Starting with Rollins vs. McIntyre is a good choice. When they mentioned Crown Jewel, they did not mention Saudi Arabia at all. Just saying.

(Commercial)

The match began after a break. They have done Rollins vs. McIntyre several times in the last three months or so.

WWE World Cup Qualifying Match: Drew McIntyre vs. Seth Rollins

This is not for the IC Title held by Rollins.

The wrestlers locked up with Renee, the wife of Ambrose, saying she had no idea where her husband was. McIntyre had a headlock on, Rollins with a dropkick and he sent McIntyre out of the ring with a headscissors takedown that sent McIntyre out of the ring. Rollins with a suicide dive, McIntyre caught him and McIntyre hit a belly to belly suplex on Rollins on the floor. They were still outside the ring with Rollins shoving McIntyre back first into the ring apron and a whip into the barricade. Dolph Ziggler went into the ring to distract, but he didn’t touch Rollins. McIntyre slipped under the ring and McIntyre drove Rollins left shoulder first into the side of the ring apron, so Rollins was selling on the floor as the match went to break.

(Commercial)

The match returned from break with McIntyre in control, Ziggler was on the floor and after a McIntyre strike to the head, Rollins hit a superkick that put down McIntyre. Rollins went for a springboard attack, Slingblade attack by Rollins and Rollins countered a slam into a roll through pin for two. Rollins sent McIntyre into the post shoulder first. Rollins hit a Blockbuster neckbreaker off the ropes for a two count. Rollins up top, McIntyre with a punch and they battled on the apron with Rollins hitting a kick to the head. McIntyre’s foot was caught on the top rope, but he still managed to toss McIntyre to the mat off the top. Rollins got back into it with a superplex, but McIntyre countered a Falcon Arrow attempt into a Falcon Arrow by McIntyre for a two count. McIntyre with a kick attempt, Rollins moved and Rollins hit a step up enziguri followed by a standing side kick to the face. Rollins set up for The Stomp, Ziggler distraction, Rollins elbow to Drew, clothesline by Rollins to McIntyre and Rollins hit a suicide dive on Ziggler on one side of the ring and a suicide dive to McIntyre on the other side of the ring. Rollins ran the ropes, Ziggler pulled down the top rope and Dean Ambrose’s music hit as he tossed Ziggler into the barricade. I guess the ref never saw the Ziggler rope pull down that caused Rollins to go out of the ring. McIntyre knocked down Ambrose with a punch to the back. Rollins with The Stomp on McIntyre on the floor. The ref was counting them out of the ring and Rollins crawled back into the ring at nine while McIntyre was still on the floor, so Rollins won by countout after about 15 minutes.

Winner by countout: Seth Rollins

The win by Rollins means he joins the World Cup Tournament “to determine the best in the world” with John Cena, Kurt Angle, Jeff Hardy, Randy Orton and three others.

Analysis: ***1/4 It was a good match that got plenty of time and I thought the finish was creative even for a countout result. I know fans want pins or submissions as finishes, but sometimes it’s fine to do a countout. I think the opted for the countout because they want McIntyre to be booked strong, so losing by countout doesn’t hurt him. Rollins was his usual awesome self, showing off the quickness and hitting cool moves while McIntyre countered him with some good stuff as well. These two work well together, which is not a surprise since Rollins has wrestled Ziggler and McIntyre so many times in the last few months.

Post match, Rollins and Ambrose celebrate the win while McIntyre and Ziggler stayed down at ringside.

Shoutout to my friend Anthony Vee for the “TJRWrestling” sign in the crowd. I appreciate it. He was wearing a Ric Flair style robe outfit too!

The Bella Twins were shown walking backstage looking behind them in case Ronda Rousey was there. They were wearing “The Bellalution has begun” shirts. What a terrible phrase.

Trish Stratus and Lita were shown backstage. Bayley showed up to give them hugs.

Degeneration X reunited is up next.

(Commercial)

PLUG TIME: In addition to all of the content I write about current WWE, I am covering my favorite year in WWF history in depth – it is the year 2000 and you can read about the entire month of January in our WWF in 2000 section on TJRWrestling. Every Monday I’ll post a 2000 Raw review and every Thursday it’s Smackdown while all PPVs from that year will be reviewed in the order they took place. It’s a lot of fun to re-live the days of The Rock, Triple H, Chris Jericho, Edge and Christian, the Hardy Boyz, the Dudley Boyz and so many others as they were on their way to becoming legends in the wrestling business. Check it out exclusively only on TJRWrestling in the WWF in 2000 area of our website.

The announcers plugged RedCross.org to support those affected by Hurricane Michael in Florida.

The trio of Rollins, Reigns and Ambrose were shown walking backstage. Rollins said he knew Ambrose would show up since he was on Lunatic Time. Ambrose was mad about being called a “lunatic” and said he had to go worry about his own match.

There was a recap of last week on Raw when Shawn Michaels and Triple H reunited Degeneration X for a match against The Undertaker and Kane aka the Brothers of Destruction at Crown Jewel on November 2.

A video aired showing The Undertaker and Kane in a dark hallway. Undertaker said that if they want to talk about respect, Kane said that their respect for DX was gone with their lies. Undertaker said that Michaels had fear for the last 8.5 years, which is why he stayed retired. Kane said that fear that his brother would beat Michaels so far down that he could never return. Taker said that at Crown Jewel when they unleash hell on DX for the first time ever, all of Shawn’s fears will come true. Kane said that Michaels may have started a battle in Australia, but the war ends at Crown Jewel. Taker said that Hunter can go back to the boardroom and Shawn can go back to retirement. They said they had three words for DX and Taker said, “rest in peace.”

Analysis: It was a way to get them on the show without being at the show because it was a pre-tape promo in the backstage area of some building.

Ember Moon made her entrance for a tag team match and she was joined by a partner that was not like most girls, smiling Nia Jax.

(Commercial)

Dana Brooke and Tamina were in the ring as the opponents. Tamina was out of action for about nine months after shoulder surgery to start the year.

It was also announced that there will be a Battle Royal at Evolution with the winner earning a championship match. The women shown on the graphic were Nia Jax, Dana Brooke, Alicia Fox, Ember Moon, Peyton Royce, Billie Kay and Tamina.

Ember Moon and Nia Jax vs. Dana Brooke and Tamina

Brooke worked over Moon by shoving her into the turnbuckle with Graves saying that Nia Jax was his pick for the battle royal. That will be a popular pick. Moon got back into it with a sweep the leg kick followed by a rollup. Brooke whipped Moon into the turnbuckle and Tamina tagged in with a headlock. Some more women in the battle royal were announced: Asuka, Mandy Rose, Carmella, Lana, Sonya Deville, Naomi and the gorgeous Torrie Wilson. They got back up to their feet with Tamina hitting a forearm and Tamina tossed Moon across the ring. Jax tagged in and these two are extended cousins as part of the big Samoan wrestling family. Jax hit a running neckbreaker. Jax missed a splash against the corner, Tamina with a headbutt, Jax with a headbutt of her own, Tamina with a headbutt, Jax avoided a superkick, but Tamina came back with a kick to the knee. Jax connected with a headbutt. Tamina picked Jax on her shoulders and hit a Samoan Drop. Both women were down. Brooke got the tag, Jax whipped her to the turnbuckle and Jax hit a splash on Brooke against the turnbuckle. Moon went up top and jumped off with the Eclipse stunner on Brooke for the pinfall win at around five minutes.

Winners by pinfall: Ember Moon and Nia Jax

Analysis: *3/4 The match was okay with the predictable result of Brooke getting pinned. I thought it would be Jax getting the pin, but I’m fine with it going to Moon, who has a lot of crowd support. Give Tamina some credit for the power moves against Jax, which are not easy to do and shows how strong Tamina is. It was smart to let Tamina do that to show that she is back.

Post match, Jax and Moon got their hands raised as the winners. Tamina went back in the ring to get in Jax’s face, Moon tried to stop her, so Tamina shoved Moon down and Tamina hit a superkick on Jax. Tamina trash talked Jax: “Who do you think you are, huh?” Tamina and Moon went over to Jax leading to both of them dumping Jax over the top to the floor to show what they have to do in the battle royal. When Tamina was by the ropes, Moon tried to dump her bout, but Tamina held on, Moon tried to eliminate her and Brooke dumped both women out. Brooke’s music played even though she lost the match.

Analysis: It was a decent way to promote the battle royal match where Jax will be the focal point as the biggest woman in the match. Jax might win, but I’d like to see Moon be the one to get the win to earn a title shot. Asuka would be a good choice too.

A video aired about the Bella Twins turning heel on Ronda Rousey last week. They are up next.

(Commercial)

The show returned with an image from TMZ covering the Nikki Bella trash talking story with Ronda Rousey.

Analysis: The whole thing is hilarious to me because TMZ covers this like it is a real story rather than a wrestling angle. Somebody mentioned to me that WWE has paid TMZ in the past to get their stories over, so it could be that since TMZ covers Rousey a lot. Remember last year around the Royal Rumble, TMZ had a video with Rousey saying she wouldn’t be at the Rumble, but then she showed up, which again shows WWE works with them to help cover lies as well.

Let’s Hear From Ronda Rousey

Ronda Rousey, the Raw Women’s Champion, made her entrance to a big ovation and she had a serious look on her face. Remember when Rousey said she wanted to defend her title on TV more? That was comical looking back on it now.

Rousey soaked in the cheers a bit while saying that she’s sure we know that last week the Bella Twins betrayed her in front of the whole world. Rousey asked them to come out to give her some kind of explanation. That led to the Bella Twins music.

Nikki and Brie Bella appeared on the stage. Nikki said that nobody there paid to see Ronda, but everybody there paid to see the Bella Twins. I laughed. Wait, that wasn’t a joke? The crowd booed. Nikki said that they don’t owe her an explanation. Brie said this is show business, not show friends and said that Ronda is the one that disregarded everything the Bellas have done for this business. Brie asked Ronda if she expected them to sit on the sidelines. Nikki said that Ronda is the reason that made them come back to compete because it made them cringe to see Ronda at the forefront of this division. Nikki called Ronda “a loser who doesn’t deserve it.” Nikki said that Ronda never deserved a title match and doesn’t deserve to be champion…Nikki does. Nikki said that her and other women made “diva” mean something. Nikki claimed that their hit reality shows put more women and girls in that crowd. Nikki said that they made the world want to see women’s wrestling even more. Nikki said that Ronda walked into the evolution that they (the Bellas) started while reminding Ronda that she (Nikki) is the longest reigning Divas Champion, which is true. Nikki said that means something. Nikki said that the championship that Ronda carries around wouldn’t even exist without them. Ronda was about to speak, Nikki said something, Ronda said go ahead and Nikki wondered if Ronda would try to break their arms.

Rousey said that she tried to be respectful as the fans chanted “break their arms” for Ronda to attack the Bellas. Rousey said that she knew that WWE was the Bellas territory first and she tried not to be judgmental even though everything that the divas era stood for made her sick to her stomach. Rousey said that she gave them the benefit of the doubt and they were doing the best they could. Rousey talked about the Bellas congratulating Rousey after WrestleMania and then how they could be driving forces in the women’s evolution together. Rousey said that now she realizes that the Bellas are the embodiment of a stereotype and she called them DNBs – Do Nothing Bellas. Rousey said that the Bellas weren’t there to support Rousey, they were there because a camera was pointing at Ronda and Rousey claimed she had never seen such desperation for attention in her life. Rousey said that the only thing she was impressed by is how far they were able to go on a minimum level of talent.

Rousey: “You leeched off the names of your men.” Crowd let out an “ooohhh” for that followed by a “yes” chant. Rousey said that they plagiarize and dilute their movesets. Rousey said they are not pioneers, they are relics of the past waited to be eviscerated by small pox. Rousey said that the wait is over because they both know that Ronda can rip their arms off. Rousey claimed that the only thing stopping her at Evolution is the referees and everybody knows that they are not good at holding her back. Rousey said that she is much more than a pretty face with a deadly body. Rousey said she will ruin them. Rousey said that she’ll make the name Bella like a four letter word…so I guess she means shit.

Brie said that Ronda thinks they are talentless, a disease and Do Nothing Bellas…the fans chanted “yes” for that. Brie said that anybody that thinks that sounds really jealous of them. Brie said that the word Bella has done more worldwide in the last week than Ronda has done in her entire WWE career. Brie said they are the groundbreakers, Nikki said that they have broken more barriers than Ronda, they have knocked down more doors and Ronda doesn’t compare to them.

Ronda said that her entire career she’s been knocking down doors. Ronda said she knocked down doors in judo, Strikeforce, UFC and now here at home in WWE. Ronda: “The only door you ever knocked down was the door to John Cena’s bedroom.” The crowd popped huge for that! Loud reaction from the Philly crowd. They did some “yes” chants for that one. Rousey: “And he eventually threw you out of that exact same door.” Rousey wondered if they would come to the ring for the ass whipping they deserve or will Ronda go up the ramp to hand it to them.

The Bellas looked like they would go to the ring, but then they stopped. Security guys went down to ringside, so Rousey beat them up easily as they took down the short indy wrestlers. The Bellas took off after Rousey beat up three of the dudes. Rousey stood tall in the ring as her music played.

Analysis: That was the best promo of Rousey’s career in WWE. It also felt like the longest promo she has done as well, which shows how much management trusts her to deliver in a setting like that. The line about the only door Nikki has broken down is the one to John Cena’s bedroom was outstanding. It led to a huge pop. Rousey showed a lot of confidence in the promo and I just thought she did a fantastic job. The Bellas are a lot more natural when they do heel promos and it showed here. It’s still awkward a bit when Brie tries to be a heel, but Nikki is clearly better at it, so I’m fine with it. Anyway, I thought the women did well here. I’m not sure if I care about Ronda vs. Nikki in a match, but the verbal sparring leading to Ronda’s KO line was well done.

The announce team talked about last week when Kurt Angle won a spot in the World Cup tournament when he dressed as a Conquistador.

The team of Bobby Roode and Chad Gable were shown backstage. Kurt Angle was shown in a flower shirt and hat. Angle said that his stress level is way down since he’s been on vacation for so long. Roode and Gable thought Angle’s shirt was glorious. No Way Jose showed up to dance and Angle even did some dancing. Baron Corbin, the acting GM, walked up to Angle. Corbin asked Angle how long it has been since he’s had a singles match in WWE and Angle said it’s been about 12 years. Corbin said that he had a match for Angle and Angle said he didn’t have his gear, so Corbin told him he’ll figure it out. Corbin told Angle he’s facing AOP in a handicap match.

There was a plug for WWE’s work for breast cancer awareness.

Dean Ambrose made his entrance for his match.

(Commercial)

Dolph Ziggler, who is one half of the Raw Tag Team Champions, made his entrance to face Dean Ambrose. This is the last Raw qualifying match in the WWE World Cup tournament at Crown Jewel.

WWE World Cup Qualifying Match: Dolph Ziggler vs. Dean Ambrose

Ambrose with a shoulder tackle followed by forearms to the face and a suplex for a two count. Ziggler got back into it with a headlock. Ziggler charged, Ambrose caught him and hit a fallaway slam that sent Ziggler out of the ring. Ambrose whipped Ziggler into the barricade two times. Ambrose went up top, he jumped, Ziggler moved, they battled again and Ambrose went up top one more time leading to Ziggler hitting a head first slam off the top sometimes called an X-Factor. Both guys were down as the show went to break.

(Commercial)

Back from break, Ambrose with a slingshot like move that sent Ziggler into the turnbuckle. Ambrose with a couple of clotheslines followed by a suplex that sent Ziggler stomach first into the top rope. Ambrose managed to slap on the Texas Cloverleaf submission that Dean Malenko (great wrestler that’s a long time WWE producer) used to do as Ziggler crawled to the bottom rope to break it. Ziggler tried a corner charge, Ambrose moved and Ambrose hooked the arms leading to a face first slam into the mat for a two count. Ambrose up top again, Ziggler tripped him up to crotch Ambrose on the top rope and Ambrose hit a front suplex. Ziggler was grabbing at his knee, so McIntyre tried to attack Ambrose. Rollins showed up to get McIntyre, Ambrose jumped off the top and knocked McIntyre down. When Ambrose got back up, he shoved Rollins away as if to say he didn’t need his help. Ambrose stumbled back into the ring right into a Ziggler superkick for the pinfall win after about ten minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Dolph Ziggler

The win by Ziggler means he joins the World Cup Tournament “to determine the best in the world” with John Cena, Kurt Angle, Jeff Hardy, Randy Orton, Seth Rollins and two others from Smackdown. All six guys are Americans in this “World Cup” so way to involve the “world” here WWE.

Analysis: **1/2 It was a solid match, but these guys have had better matches together too. Ambrose dominated most of the match because he got a lot of the offense while Ziggler had trouble getting going. The interference from McIntyre was thwarted by Rollins, but the story was that Ambrose felt he didn’t need Rollins and that gave Ziggler time to recover to win the match. I thought the finish was well done.

After the match was over, Rollins checked on Ambrose in the ring. Ziggler and McIntyre left quickly. Ambrose was down in the ring selling the superkick. When Ambrose stood up, Rollins asked him what his problem is and Ambrose walked by Rollins by bumping him in the chest. Ambrose left. Rollins went up the ramp after Ambrose, he shoved him, Ambrose shoved him back and Roman Reigns showed up to calm them down.

Baron Corbin, the acting Raw GM, showed up to ask them if they are still having problems. Corbin said that the last thing he wants is for The Shield to dissolve under his watch. Corbin said it’s going to be a rematch from last week with The Shield facing Strowman, McIntyre and Ziggler. Ambrose left alone while Rollins and Reigns stared at Corbin, who was laughing. Renee: “He’s a bad guy.” Well yeah, he’s a heel.

Analysis: I didn’t think they would do the same six-man tag match again, but that’s WWE loving to repeat the same matches all the time.

Still to come is Kurt Angle vs. AOP as well as an appearance from Trish Stratus and Lita.

Finn Balor made his entrance along with his Mixed Match Challenge team Bayley as part of Team B’N’B. The fans were happy to see them as usual. There was a plug for NXT UK brand coming to WWE Network on Wednesday at 3pmET, which is 8pm in the UK and on demand after that.

(Commercial)

The trio of Dolph Ziggler, Drew McIntyre and Braun Strowman were in the locker room. Ziggler said this is their night. McIntyre said that they should focus on Ambrose and Rollins while making Reigns watch. Strowman said that if either one of them screws up tonight, Braun promises them that they are going to get these hands.

Jinder Mahal was already in the ring with Sunil, Samir Singh (welcome back Samir from a torn ACL) and Alicia Fox.

Finn Balor (w/Bayley) vs. Jinder Mahal (w/Sunil Singh, Samir Singh and Alicia Fox)

Mahal grounded Balor with a headlock. Balor got back into it with a basement dropkick. Mahal sent Balor into the turnbuckle, Balor with a Slingblade, dropkick into the corner and Balor went up top. Balor hit the Coup de Grace double foot stomp for the pinfall win after about two minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Finn Balor

Analysis: 1/2* The match went two minutes and Jinder spent one-minute slapping on the headlock. The people on the floor did nothing. It was boring, but at least it was over quickly.

Bobby Lashley and his hype man Lio Rush made their entrance while Balor and Bayley were still in the ring. Last week on Raw, Lashley got in Balor’s face in a backstage segment. Rush said that Balor wishes he could look like Bobby Lashley. Balor and Bayley left. Lashley posed on the turnbuckles with Rush saying that nobody looks like Lashley.

Analysis: It seems to be setting up a feud with new heel Lashley and Balor, which is fine because neither man has anything going on.

(Commercial)

Bobby Lashley (w/Lio Rush) vs. Tyler Breeze

The bell rang to begin the match and Rush told Lashley to do some posing before they start the match. Lashley did biceps poses with Rush saying that not one person in the arena looks like him. After about one minute on that, Lashley shoved Breeze down and Breeze came back with an enziguri kick to the head. Breeze jumped off the ropes, Lashley caught Breeze in his arms and Lashley hit a delayed vertical suplex. Rush tried to lead a “Lashley” chant that didn’t work. Lashley slapped on the full nelson submission and then he dropped Breeze. Lashley with a running shoulder tackle to the ribs of Breeze. When Breeze hit a dropkick, Lashley came back with a powerslam and Rush was annoying with the “Lashley” chant. Lashley picked up Breeze, put him on his shoulder and slammed him down face first for the pinfall win. The match went about three minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Bobby Lashley

Analysis: 3/4* Easy win for Lashley to solidify his heel turn with Rush doing the annoying commentary work. I would imagine that some people watching this would turn it off because of how annoying Rush is. That’s his job to be annoying, but I can understand that some people hate it too.

Trish and Lita are up next.

(Commercial)

It was mentioned that Titus O’Neil was a part of the Ebony Power 100 list due to his great work in the community. That doesn’t mean the creative team will have something for him to do because the guy barely has a role on Raw.

Let’s Hear From Trish Stratus and Lita

Trish Stratus entered first to a good pop. Lita joined her on the stage and they went into the ring together. Lita has a “feminist” shirt on. No sarcastic comment from me on that. They will team up against Alexa Bliss and Mickie James at Evolution on October 28.

Lita said “what’s up” to her old friend Philadelphia while adding it was good to be back home, which I assume means in WWE. Lita said that one week from Sunday is the first ever all women’s PPV called Evolution and here comes the predictable interruption.

Alexa Bliss and her buddy the lovely Mickie James appeared on the stage for a promo. They were in street clothes. Bliss said that she feels like she can understand what Lita is going to say and then she did a mock impression of Lita wondering how she’s going to compete at Evolution. Mickie said she’ll try Trish and Alexa said if anybody knows Trish it is Mickie. That led to Mickie doing an impression of Stratus saying that at Evolution she’ll put an end to “Stratusfaction.” Alexa complimented Mickie for that and then Bliss said that she forgot the point, which led to them imitating Trish’s point.

Mickie said that let’s face facts that they (Trish and Lita) haven’t been in a WWE ring in a long, long, long time. Mickie said that while they were kicking back, Mickie and Alexa have been kicking butt. Bliss said that nostalgia is fleeting and Bliss called themselves the top women on the roster. James said that they compete every single night all over the world (not really true, but heels lie). Bliss told them to dust off their wrestling gear. James said that if they think that they can get off the couch and step in the ring with them, they are sadly mistaken.

Trish talked about how at Evolution, women can make history, which is the line all WWE women are programmed to say. Trish said they are talking about practice and the crowd knew where this was going. Lita said that they can make their careers after beating two Hall of Famers, but they want to talk about practice? Trish and Lita kept talking about practice, which is the Allen Iverson press conference when he was on Philly in 2002. Corey Graves: “Allen Iverson is rolling over in his grave.” Iverson is living and doing well, but Graves said that as a joke and Graves tweeted that he knew Iverson was alive. Lita said that she thinks that they are right, so maybe they need a bit of practice. Lita called them out to the ring for some “practice” right now. Bliss said that they practice how they play, they teased taking off their jackets and then they left. That was the end of the segment.

Analysis: That was just okay, but nothing special. I really like all four women especially Mickie and Trish as my all-time favorites, but there wasn’t much to that. The heels Alexa and Mickie doing imitations didn’t get any reactions. The “practice” bit was mildly funny because they were in Philly and the fans love Iverson there. The whole thing felt very similar to the Rousey/Bellas segment one hour earlier when the face was in the ring and the heels were on the stage. Why do what was essentially a repeat? I would have liked to see Mickie and Alexa get a win since Mickie is not booked strongly on Raw and if Bliss still isn’t cleared to wrestle, make it a singles match. Instead, this promo just felt like filler that didn’t get me any more excited about the match.

Bayley was shown walking backstage. The Riott Squad trio were there doing their mean girls routine talking trash. There wasn’t much to it.

(Commercial)

The Conquistador was in the ring and we were supposed to think it was Kurt Angle even though the guy in the costume could stand up normally unlike Angle, who has bad knees. AOP entered with Drake Maverick.

The Conquistador vs. AOP (Akam and Rezar) w/Drake Maverick

Baron Corbin sat on the stage to watch the match. Akam missed a corner attack, the Conquistador didn’t know how to do an Ankle Lock and Rezar hit a clothesline. AOP picked up the dude and hit a double team powerbomb for the pinfall win in less than one minute.

Winners by pinfall: AOP

Analysis: 1/4* Yawn.

After the match, AOP took the mask off The Conquistador and it was some random indy wrestler. Angle showed up behind Corbin and hit an Angle Slam on the stage. Angle celebrated the attack in his vacation attire.

Analysis: The rumor is that Angle and Corbin will face off as captains of teams at Survivor Series next month with the winner getting the GM job on Raw, so it appears that rumor is likely true.

The Riott Squad trio went up to Natalya’s locker room door and sprayed ketchup and mustard on the door. Do adults act this way or are they portraying teenagers? I don’t know.

(Commercial)

The Riott Squad trio were in the ring.

Natalya made her entrance. Natalya asked them if they thought that she would go to the ring alone so that she could be attacked by the three of them. Natalya said that she had backup as Bayley walked out to support her. Natalya claimed that she was not done yet and it was Sasha Banks, who is back after missing about a month or two. I believe it was a back injury. Banks got a good ovation.

Natalya (w/Sasha Banks and Bayley) vs. The Riott Squad (Ruby Riott, Sarah Logan and Liv Morgan)

Riott took control with a headlock. Natalya got a rollup, but Riott got back up quickly with a back elbow. Riott with a headlock again, Natalya back up and Riott hit a STO takedown for a two count. Riott went for a headscissors, but Natalya dumped her over the top to the floor. Natalya with a slap to the face and a Sharpshooter, but Logan went into the ring to clip the back of the leg of Natalya leading to the DQ finish after about three minutes.

Winner by disqualification: Natalya

Analysis: 3/4* A quick match that ended predictably with the interference. Natalya barely got any offense, yet almost won with the Sharpshooter.

Sasha Banks and Bayley tried to make the save, but Logan and Morgan sent them out of the ring. Riott ran the ropes like a dummy, so Banks and Bayley pulled her out of the ring. Banks with a knee lift to Logan and Bayley hit a belly to back suplex. Banks with a backstabber to Morgan leading to Bayley hitting a Bayley to Bayley suplex on her. Natalya hit a German Suplex on Riott. The heels left while the faces stood tall.

Analysis: This is likely going to lead to a six-woman tag team match at Evolution, which is fine. The face team is all likable and the heels work well together.

Elias was shown backstage talking to a guy in a headset and he was frustrated with him.

(Commercial)

A video aired about WWE’s work in raising awareness for breast cancer awareness.

Let’s Hear from Elias

Elias was in the ring with the spotlight on him giving him a mixed reaction. Elias played a few notes on the guitar for about ten seconds. He said that his eyes are like a crystal ball and we are looking into the future. He said that John Cena knows it and everyone here knows that WWE stands for “Walk With Elias,” which the fans chanted right on cue. Elias claimed he went to lunch with Carson Wentz (heels lie) and he asked him about his injuries last year. Elias ripped on Philly saying it was a “shameful” city. The fans booed him loudly for that. Elias mentioned “Gritty” the mascot of the Philadelphia Flyers and he said that he’s a fat, ugly, googly-eyed slob like everybody in the city. Elias told them to hold their applause and shut their mouths while he sings.

Apollo Crews made the interruption. He hasn’t been on television much in the last two months. Elias asked what he was doing. Crews said that he thought that he should come out here to interrupt since so many people do it, so he thought it was his turn. Elias claimed he was the best thing going. Elias told him that once you come out there, your career is in Elias’ hands. Crews admitted that he is not like Elias, he doesn’t sing and he’s not really that funny, but none of that matters when he steps inside the ring as Crews got into the ring. Elias said that he heard that Crews was talented, but he’s never seen it like Bigfoot or the Flyers winning the Cup (they did win in the early 70s, but it’s been a while!). Good heat. Crews said that it was like people taking Elias serious as a musician. Crews said that he’s seen so many people pass him by including Elias and he’s sick of it. Elias told Crews that he is a star while asking Crews what has he ever done? Elias wanted to show him what happens when you interrupt Elias, so he charged and Crews hit Elias with a jumping kick to the head. Crews with a press slam leading to Elias rolling out of the ring. Crews told him that’s who he is.

Analysis: It looks like WWE is going to try to find something for Crews to do after months of inactivity. Is the “Titus Worldwide” group over now that Dana Brooke left? I guess so since there was no O’Neil with Crews. I don’t think this means Crews is getting a push necessarily, but being on Raw is more than he’s done in the last few months.

Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns were shown backstage getting ready.

(Commercial)

There was a commercial for Smackdown 1000. The announcers talked about it with appearances from The Undertaker, Edge, Rey Mysterio, the Evolution group and more.

Analysis: I don’t think they promoted Smackdown 1000 enough during this show. Think about how much Raw 25 was promoted back in January and it’s not even close. That’s WWE favoring Raw more than Smackdown as usual. It might change a year from now when Smackdown is on Fox.

The trio of Braun Strowman, Drew McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler made their entrance to Strowman’s song.

The Shield trio of Universal Champion Roman Reigns, Intercontinental Champion Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose entered through the crowd as they have done so many times. The announcers plugged the Crown Jewel matches.

Analysis: This was their third match over nine days with each side winning once, so this breaks the tie.

Braun Strowman, Drew McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler vs. The Shield (Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose)

There were some quick tags by the Shield guys early on with Ambrose and Rollins hit a double team leg pull on Ziggler to work on the groin. Ziggler kicked Rollins into Ambrose leading to Ambrose getting testy about it. Roman Reigns tagged in and Strowman knocked all three guys down. Ziggler hit a jumping DDT on Reigns for a two count. That led to a break.

(Commercial)

McIntyre slapped on an armbar on Reigns. When Reigns got back, McIntyre hit a spinebuster for a two count. Ziggler tagged in with a kick to the chest of Reigns followed by another armbar as some fans chanted “Roman” for Reigns. Two clotheslines by Reigns on Ziggler. McIntyre got the tag and Reigns hit a leaping clothesline to take him down. Strowman got the tag, whipped Reigns into the corner and Reigns splashed Reigns against the turnbuckle. McIntyre tagged himself back in, so Strowman tagged in and they argued about it. Strowman charged at Reigns, but Reigns caught him with a boot and Strowman charged again with Reigns moving, so Strowman hit the turnbuckle like he does in every match. Reigns hit a Samoan Drop on Strowman. Some fans chanted “Roman” again. McIntyre and Ziggler knocked Rollins and Ambrose off the apron. Ziggler and McIntyre hit their Claymore into a Zig Zag for two, but Rollins and Ambrose broke up the pin attempt. McIntyre went up top, which meant he was going to miss something as Reigns decked him with an uppercut punch. Rollins got the hot tag with a clothesline off the top, Ambrose tagged in leading to two elbows and a double team clothesline. Strowman back in and Rollins/Ambrose sent him out of the ring with a double shoulder tackle. Rollins and Ambrose hit stereo suicide dives on McIntyre and Ziggler. When Rollins and Ambrose went for a suicide dive on Strowman, Strowman caught them and Reigns hit a Suicide Dive off the steps. Ambrose with a jackknife cover on McIntyre, but Ziggler broke up the pin. Rollins with a head kick to McIntyre and Ambrose hit Dirty Deeds on McIntyre. Ziggler shoved Rollins onto Ambrose to break up the pin, so the idea is that Ambrose thought Rollins broke it up on purpose.

Ambrose got mad at Rollins about what happened and Ambrose teased Dirty Deeds to Rollins, so Ziggler attacked Ambrose from behind and Ziggler hit a Zig Zag on Ambrose for two. That was a great nearfall. Reigns got back in with Superman Punches for McIntyre and Ziggler. Strowman back in, he missed a corner charge on Reigns leading to Strowman’s typical bump into the turnbuckle. McIntyre went for a Claymore Kick, Reigns moved and McIntyre ended up kicking Strowman out of the ring. Oops. Reigns off the ropes and he hit a Spear on McIntyre. Ziggler back in and The Shield trio hit a Triple Powerbomb sometimes called the Shield Bomb with Ambrose pinning Ziggler for the win after 15 minutes.

Winners by pinfall: The Shield (Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose)

Analysis: ***1/4 It was the standard six-man tag team match from these guys. Good but not great. Last week’s match was better. The last couple of minutes were well booked, which is not a surprise for a main event level match with excellent performers like these guys. I liked the story of Ambrose not being able to trust Rollins for much of it, but then Rollins and Reigns ended up helping Ambrose when he needed it. As much as I like these guys, this is the last time they should do this match on TV for a while because it will feel stale if they keep doing it no matter how good the matches are.

The Shield trio celebrated the win with hugs and they were happy that they got the job done. They left together triumphantly as their music played.

After the match was over, Strowman was furious with Ziggler and McIntyre. Strowman told Ziggler that if he screwed up he was going to get these hands. Strowman with a Powerslam on Ziggler. When Strowman turned around, McIntyre decked Strowman with a Claymore Kick to the face that was on purpose this time instead of accidental. McIntyre left alone while Strowman was left in the ring. A replay aired of what happened to end the match followed by McIntyre’s kick to the head of Strowman.

Raw ended with McIntyre standing on the stage alone while Strowman was making angry faces in the ring.

Analysis: It could be the end of the Strowman, McIntyre and Ziggler trio. Perhaps WWE is reconsidering the role of Strowman and maybe they’ll make him a face again since he brought back the “Get These Hands” catchphrase this week even though he didn’t say it for weeks. I like Strowman more as a heel especially as far as his matches go. What is clear is that McIntyre is becoming a focal point of the show as a top heel and I’m a big fan of that because he’s a great performer with a lot of potential to be even better.

 

Three Stars of the Show

  1. Seth Rollins
  2. Drew McIntyre
  3. Dean Ambrose

Shoutout to Rousey for the trash talk against Nikki Bella too. She did well.

 

The Scoreboard

5 out of 10

Last week: 7

2018 Average: 5.80

Last 5 Weeks: 7, 6.5, 6.5, 5.5, 5.5

2018 High: 8 (February 19)

2018 Low: 4 (June 4, July 2, August 6)

 

Final Thoughts

I give it a 5 out of 10.

It felt like an average show after last week’s improvement. This week was a step back in match quality. It’s hard to fathom how they have a three-hour show, yet only have one or two matches considered above average. I’m not a fan of doing the same six man tag team main event after they did it last week and even two days before last week as well.

They featured more women’s segments than usual due to the Evolution PPV coming up, but the promos with Rousey and the Bellas was more effective than the Lita/Trish promo against Alexa/Mickie, which felt repetitive.

The third hour of Raw felt especially bad leading up to the main event. There were several short matches that didn’t mean much at all.

Regarding Crown Jewel, it was notable that they talked about the show a lot, but they did not say it was in Saudi Arabia even though that’s still where it is scheduled to take place.

 

Here’s the updated lineup for women’s only Evolution on October 28.

Raw Women’s Championship: Ronda Rousey (c) vs. Nikki Bella

Smackdown Women’s Championship Last Man Standing: Becky Lynch (c) vs. Charlotte Flair

Trish Stratus and Lita vs. Mickie James and Alexa Bliss

NXT Women’s Championship: Kairi Sane vs. Shayna Baszler

Battle Royal for a future Championship match – Names include: Nia Jax, Dana Brooke, Alicia Fox, Ember Moon, Peyton Royce, Billie Kay, Tamina, Asuka, Mandy Rose, Carmella, Lana, Sonya Deville, Naomi and Torrie Wilson

I assume Sasha Banks, Bayley and Natalya vs. The Riott Squad will be added as well.

I’m not going to list the Mae Young Classic final match because that’s a spoiler. I know there’s a NXT UK Women’s Title match too, but that’s not official yet.

Here’s the updated lineup for men’s only Crown Jewel on November 2.

Universal Championship: Roman Reigns (c) vs. Brock Lesnar vs. Braun Strowman

Triple H and Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker and Kane

WWE Championship: AJ Styles vs. Daniel Bryan

WWE World Cup: John Cena, Kurt Angle, Jeff Hardy, Randy Orton, Seth Rollins, Dolph Ziggler and two more from Smackdown.

You can contact me using any of the methods below. See ya next time for the Smackdown review. Go Los Angeles Rams. Thanks for reading.

John Canton

Email: mrjohncanton@gmail.com

Twitter: @johnreport

Personal Facebook and TJRWrestling on Facebook

 

 

 

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