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Live from Providence, Rhode Island, this is the Raw Deal for episode #1326 of Monday Night Raw. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. Thanks to Melo Man for the banner up top.

Raw began with a shot of the crowd in Providence with announcer Michael Cole welcoming us to the show. The music of Universal Champion Roman Reigns started up.

Roman Reigns delivers some sad news

Reigns had the Universal Championship in his left hand and he looked around at the crowd. Reigns had his street clothes on including a chain around his neck, a gold watch and his wedding ring. Reigns was in jeans and sneakers, so no wrestling attire for him this week. When Reigns walked out there, he had a serious look on his face and soaked in the reaction a bit more than usual. When Reigns got into the ring, he walked around it a bit to pause to react to the crowd.

Analysis: Due to how he walked out there and how he was dressed, it was clear a sad announcement was coming. I did not expect what he said, though.

Reigns said that he feels like he owes everybody an apology and said that for months or maybe a full year, he said he’d be out there every single week as a fighting champion, that he’d be a workhorse and that he would be a workhorse. Reigns said that’s all lies as the camera zoomed in on his Universal Title. Reigns said that “my real name is Joe and I’ve been living with leukemia for 11 years.” Reigns said that unfortunately, the leukemia is back and because it is back, he can’t be that fighting champion and he’s going to have to relinquish the Universal Championship. The fans booed while several of them had shocked looks on their faces.

Reigns said that he’ll take every prayer sent his way while adding that he’s not looking for sympathy or for us to feel bad for him because he has faith. Reigns said that when he was 22 years old (he’s 33 years old now), he was diagnosed with this and very quickly he was able to put it in remission. Reigns spoke about how that was the hardest time in his life. Reigns said that he didn’t have a job, no money or home, but he had a baby on the way and football was done with him. Reigns said that the team that gave him a chance was the WWE. Fans cheered that. Reigns said that when he finally made it to the main roster and they put him on the road, they put him in front of all of us. Reigns said we have made his dreams come true. Reigns said that it didn’t matter if the fans cheered or booed him because they reacted to him and that is the most important thing, so for that, he has to say thank you so much. The fans cheered and started a “Thank You Roman” chant.

Reigns: “You all know the deal. You all know how life is. It’s not all peaches and cream, sometimes life throws you a curveball. And right now the best thing for me to do is to go home, to focus on my family and my health. But I want to make one thing perfectly clear, by no means is this a retirement speech.” The fans cheered. Reigns continued: “Because after I’m done whooping leukemia’s ass once again, I’m coming back home.” The fans cheered louder. Reigns: “And when I do, it’s not going to just be about titles and being on top. No, it’s about a purpose. I am coming back because I want to show all of you, the whole world. I want to show my family, my friends, my children, and my wife that when life throws a curveball at me, I am the type of man that will stand in that batter’s box.  I will crowd the plate, I will choke up and I will swing for the fences every single time…because I will beat this and I will come back and you will see me very, very soon.” The fans cheered loudly. A lot of them had tears in their ears.

Reigns ended with this: “Thank you so much, God bless you and I love you. Believe that.” Reigns put down the microphone. The fans were chanting “Thank You Roman” for Reigns and a lot of fans are crying. Reigns put down his Universal Title in the ring and left.

After the emotional speech, Reigns walked up the ramp where he greeted fans that wished him the best. Reigns got up to the ramp where he saw his Shield brothers Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose waiting for him. Rollins was in tears as the three men hugged on the stage. It was a very emotional moment as they hugged on the stage. The crowd kept cheering them as they should. They did their Shield fist pose on the stage with all of them fighting back tears.

Analysis: That was one of the saddest moments I can ever remember watching on WWE TV. I had no idea that was coming, so when Reigns said it I just couldn’t believe it. Here’s this strong, healthy young man that’s at the top of his game, but that damn leukemia got him. I’m sure most of you reading this know of somebody in our lives that dealt with some form of cancer. It’s hard not to. I had an uncle die of leukemia about eight years ago. It was awful to see and I would never wish it on anyone. One of my two sisters had cancer earlier this decade. Thankfully she beat it and she’s living a normal life again, but it’s just another example of how you never know of who it might affect. What’s so sad about this is that Reigns dealt with this at 22 years old, now he has to deal with it again at 33 years old and it’s tough when cancer comes back for a second time. He can fight it and God willing hopefully he can live a long life with his family, but there’s definitely a reason for concern when you get it twice in your life. What we need to focus on is how positive thinking Reigns was. He was adamant that he was going to beat this. I watched that part a few times when he said “I will beat this and I will come back” because that’s what we have to believe. Whether you liked the guy as a professional wrestler or not, that’s irrelevant right now. I don’t care if you hated his career or Vince McMahon shoving him down our throats. Think of the man with his family (he’s married with a daughter and twin sons) that has done the best he can to entertain us and provide for his loved ones. I like him and respect him a lot. I always have. I never saw a reason to hate on a guy that worked as hard as him. Could he have been booked better? Sure, but I give him credit for continuing to work hard. After this news, I’ll always root for the guy. This is not some shoulder surgery or knee surgery where you know somebody is coming back in six months. We don’t know what the future holds for him and that’s why it is so sad. I hope he beats this, I hope he never has to deal with leukemia for the rest of his life, but the reality is we have no idea what happens next. It’s bigger and more important than any wrestling match could be. I’m not one to swear that much, but allow me to say this for us all…Fuck Cancer. Thank you, Roman, and here’s hoping we do get to see you back in the ring at some point down the road. Keep fighting, bro.

Analysis x2: I don’t know how the rest of the wrestlers performed after this. I admire them a lot. I know the “show must go on” as they say in show business, but it must have been one of the most difficult nights in their careers because of how close they all are as a “family” or team in WWE. I guess they have no other choice. Let’s get through this Raw as best we can.

(Commercial)

A replay aired of Roman Reigns’ speech from before the break.

The announce team of Michael Cole, Renee Young and Corey Graves were shown on camera. All of them were emotional. Cole said they are real people and reality came up to bite them tonight. Cole said prayers are with Reigns. Renee talked about how Roman is a close friend because of her husband Dean Ambrose, who has been side by side with Reigns for six years and it’s very tough for her. Graves spoke about how he’s more than a colleague, he’s a friend, he’s known Roman for many years, their kids play together and he is one of the strongest guys that Corey knows.

Coming up later: Drew McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler defend the Raw Tag Team Titles against Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose. Plus, DX is there and Ronda Rousey has a contract signing with Nikki Bella for Evolution.

Finn Balor was up first to a good pop. Bobby Lashley entered with the hype man Lio Rush, who had a microphone with him.

Finn Balor vs. Bobby Lashley

Lashley took down Balor and Balor came back with a dropkick. Rush provided a distraction outside the ring, Balor chased him and Balor ran around the ring right into a clothesline from Lashley. It led to Rush chanting “Lashley” as the show went to break.

(Commercial)

Back from break, Lashley was in control as he grabbed the shoulder of Balor. Lashley worked over Balor with a punch. Lashley put Balor on his shoulder going for a slam, but Balor rolled through and hit a dropkick. Balor with a running forearm. Balor tripped up Lashley leading to a double foot stomp to the chest. Balor with a chop, Balor jumped off the middle rope, Lashley caught him and hit a Samoan Drop for a two count. Lashley wanted a suplex, Balor slipped out and hit a Slingblade. Lashley avoided a top rope attack leading to a Lashley clothesline. Lashley picked up Balor for a slam, Balor with a ROLLUP OF DEATH~! leading to a pinfall win after about nine minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Finn Balor

Analysis: **1/2 It was a solid match that felt like the first of a series of matches between them with Balor coming away with a sneaky victory using his speed. I don’t love the ROLLUP OF DEATH~! spot, but in this case they went with it because they didn’t want to have Balor beat Lashley with his finish. What this should do is lead to Lashley continuing to target Balor.

The announcers were shown on camera talking about the Reigns situation. They said that acting GM Baron Corbin was on the phone talking to Commissioner Stephanie McMahon about the Universal Title situation.

Sasha Banks entered for a singles match with Bayley and Natalya by her side. A pre-taped promo from the trio aired about their Evolution match against The Riott Squad.

(Commercial)

A commercial aired for Total Divas focusing on Nikki Bella dating. I’m sure it’s thrilling.

There was a clip from last week with The Shield beating Strowman, McIntyre and Ziggler. After the match, Strowman beat up Ziggler and McIntyre left Strowman with a Claymore Kick to the head.

The duo of Ziggler and McIntyre were in the locker room talking about their match. McIntyre said that he had to attack Strowman because it was either kill or be killed. Ziggler said that at Crown Jewel he can cement his legacy and be the best in the world. McIntyre said that Braun needed them more than they needed him. McIntyre said that he’s not afraid of Strowman unlike everybody else. McIntyre left, Ziggler asked where he’s going and McIntyre said he’s monster hunting.

The Riott Squad trio made their entrance. They did a pre-taped promo about the Evolution match as well.

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

It’s a battle of fake hair color. Banks took with a shoulder tackle, drop toe hold and double knee attack by Banks. Riott to the ropes where he buddies helped her and Riott took control with a punch to the back. Riott choked Banks throat first against the ropes. Riott with a back elbow to block a Banks charge, but Banks came back with a knee that sent Riott to the floor. The six women had a standoff on the floor. Back in the ring, Riott kicked Banks out of the ring as the show went to break.

(Commercial)

The match continued with Riott hitting a STO takedown for a two count. Graves did his usual commentary about Banks loving the spotlight while Young defended Banks saying she loved the business just like her teammates. Riott slapped on a headlock. Riott charged in at Banks against the turnbuckle, Banks with a boot to the face and Banks sent Riott face first into the turnbuckle. Banks with a knee lift to the face followed by a dropkick. Banks with a double knee attack against the turnbuckle and Banks hit the meteora double knee attack off the ropes. Banks with the backstabber into the Bank Statement submission. Logan in the ring, so Bayley attacked her and they didn’t touch the girls in the ring. The four women on the floor got into a brawl. Banks decked Logan and Morgan with punches. Riott took advantage of that by sending Banks into the turnbuckle. Riott hit a Riott Kick to the head for the pinfall win after about ten minutes of action.

Winner by pinfall: Ruby Riott

Analysis: **3/4 Good match between two of the better women on the Raw roster. I liked their chemistry. There was a nice mix of strikes along with reversals leading to nearfalls. I think Riott getting the win means it is very likely that the Banks team wins at Evolution.

Following the match, the announcers talked about Evolution and Crown Jewel. Cole mentioned he’ll be at ringside calling the action at Evolution with Renee Young and Beth Phoenix.

The video aired from The Undertaker and Kane that was shown last week where they trash talked Shawn Michaels and Triple H ahead of their Crown Jewel match.

Degeneration X is up next after a break.

(Commercial)

Nia Jax did a promo about the Evolution battle royal. She said that at Evolution, the world will see that women can do anything. Jax talked about how she was Women’s Champion and at Evolution, she’ll win the battle royal to get a title shot. Jax said it’s an opportunity that she will not squander.

Let’s Hear From Degeneration X

The bald duo of Triple H and Shawn Michaels made their entrance to the Degeneration X theme song. Michaels had a cowboy hat on along with a DX shirt and jeans. Hunter was in a leather jacket and a DX shirt rather than a suit. Good ovation for them. They face The Undertaker and Kane at Crown Jewel on November 2.

Hunter said that a lot of big words have been thrown around lately like fear. Hunter said that they think that somehow it was fear that kept Hunter from stepping out of the boardroom and fear kept Shawn stepping out of retirement. Hunter said it’s going to take a lot more than fear than to them. Hunter made a reference to Kane being the mayor of Knoxville and putting his mask on making threats. Shawn said that neither one of them is running for mayor. Shawn joked that he hoped nostalgia was some Greek word that meant new merch. Shawn realized that nostalgia meant sentimentality, but then they realized that nostalgia was a real polite way of saying old.

Hunter said that nostalgia wise there was a movie out right now called Halloween that came out 40 years ago that is number one today. Hunter said that a few weeks ago they packed 70,000 people in Melbourne, Australia to see this. Hunter added that maybe “old is just a polite way of saying we’re better.”

Hunter talked about when it comes to being better, there’s that X in Degeneration X that they have been running for 22 years. Hunter said that the X meant that they were better than everybody else. Hunter spoke about how there’s another X that says the future is now with Shawn saying they are running that too. Fans chanted “NXT” at them. Hunter said when they bring this X to Crown Jewel, they aren’t coming to make them laugh, they aren’t there for nostalgia, they are there to kick the Brothers of Destruction ass. Michaels did his “we’ve got two words for ya” bit, but here’s an interruption.

The Undertaker’s music hit and there was a video that showed a cemetery with Undertaker and Kane standing there. Undertaker said that their reunion will be the vessel of their total annihilation. Undertaker said that they’ll unleash their utter contempt. Kane said that Hunter should have stayed away, Michaels should have stayed retired and he added that they can’t survive the Brothers of Destruction. They showed Tombstones that said Triple H and Shawn Michaels on them using their real birthdays. Undertaker and Kane said their first match against them will be their last. Kane said that they will be forever tormented by their failure in the deepest pits of hell. They started dumping some dirt into a grave as Undertaker said that they will “never rest in peace.” The ended the segment.

Analysis: It was a serious promo from DX rather than their usual comedy hijinks. I think that was the right tone to show that they are focused. They mentioned the part of them being old, but it also showed that they believed in themselves and that they thought they were still as good as ever. The response from Undertaker and Kane was fine for a pre-taped promo. I can see there being a face to face confrontation next week although it was not advertised.

A replay aired of Roman Reigns’ leukemia announcement from the start of the show. There were tweets shown from other people that were a part of WWE that tweeted comments of support for Reigns.

It was announced that at Crown Jewel it will Braun Strowman vs. Brock Lesnar for the vacant Universal Championship.

Analysis: That should be a win for Strowman finally winning the title for the first time. There’s no reason to put it on Lesnar again. By the way, WWE has not mentioned Saudi Arabia for the second week in a row.

A replay aired from last week’s Raw where Ronda Rousey and the Bella Twins trash talked eachother in promos with Ronda delivering the KO line about how the only door that Nikki ever knocked down was the one to John Cena’s bedroom and he eventually threw her out. That was the only part of the promo they showed. Contract signing coming up later.

Paul Heyman was shown walking backstage because he’s up next.

(Commercial)

Dana Brooke did a promo talking about how Evolution means opportunity and making history. Brooke said that when she’s the last woman in the battle royal, the world will finally see who she is and what she can do.

Let’s Hear From Paul Heyman

Heyman was in the ring alone for a promo. Heyman said that tonight, his thoughts and his prayers are with the champion of a man that you know as Roman Reigns. The fans cheered that. Heyman said that it is humbling to be among the members of the locker room there tonight and to have been in the presence of such courage and such greatness. Heyman said that he has to go home tonight to explain this to his children. Heyman wants his children to understand that what you witnessed tonight was courage and sacrifice. Heyman said that Reigns sacrificed his career aspirations because he couldn’t fill the obligations of being Universal Champion. Heyman said that everyone that walks through that locker room knows that the title deserves the best that the champion has to offer it. Heyman said that the fans have the right to point to the Universal Champion to say that is the best and that is the best that the industry has to offer. Heyman said that until 8:05pm Eastern time tonight they had the right to brag that the number one was the Universal Champion.

Analysis: Heyman is close with Reigns and has known him since he was a baby since Heyman talked about traveling with Roman’s dad and uncle that were the Wild Samoans. You can tell he was fighting back tears.

Heyman said that Roman Reigns does not want the title to stop because he cannot defend it. Heyman said that Roman is the first person to tell you that the show must go on. Heyman talked how about at Crown Jewel, Brock Lesnar and Braun Strowman will have a fight to see who has the honor to be the champion. Heyman said that it sure as hell isn’t Strowman. Heyman said that the only man that that can hold that Universal Championship is Brock Lesnar, who can lay that title down in UFC to say he’s the best in WWE. Heyman said that Lesnar does not bill himself as a man, he’s a beast. Heyman told Strowman he’s not in Lesnar’s league, category, stratosphere and he can’t even compare to Lesnar. Heyman said that Strowman isn’t even the same species as Brock Lesnar.

Braun Strowman walked out with a microphone in hand. Strowman said that he is going to beat Lesnar’s ass at Crown Jewel. Strowman said that he’s going to bring the Universal Championship back to Raw. Strowman said he won’t just bring it to Raw when he wants to, it will be every single Monday. Strowman added that even though they had their differences, when Reigns beats leukemia he’ll be first in line for a title opportunity. Strowman said for right now, Brock Lesnar is going to get these hands.

Strowman raised his hands in the air and as soon as he turned around, Drew McIntyre ran down the ramp and hit Strowman with a Claymore Kick to the head. McIntyre walked away while Strowman was down around the ring. Strowman got back to his feet to end it.

Analysis: It was a typically strong promo from Heyman as he spoke about how great of a champion Roman Reigns is while turning the attention to the Lesnar/Strowman match. I don’t think people really believe that Lesnar is going to win the Universal Title again, but I guess it’s possible. Strowman’s speech was straight to the point while also getting some cheers because he’s back in a face role. The cheap attack from McIntyre continued their storyline with McIntyre saying he was “monster hunting” earlier. I think it’s very likely we’ll see a Strowman vs. McIntyre feud for the Universal Title in the near future.

The Raw Tag Team Title match is still to come.

(Commercial)

A replay aired of McIntyre’s cheap attack on Strowman.

McIntyre was shown walking backstage with Ziggler walking up to him congratulating Drew for the attack on Braun. Charly Caruso showed up for an interview asking Drew if he’s afraid of the repercussions. McIntyre said he’s not afraid and said that others on the roster might be like that. Drew said he’s not like a child afraid of a monster. McIntyre said that Strowman needed them. McIntyre said now they can focus on what matters, which is defending their Raw Tag Team Championships. The champs left.

Elias was in the ring with the spotlight on him as he played the guitar with the fans clapping along to the song followed by some cheers when it was over. Elias did his “who wants to walk with Elias?” bit as the fans cheered in response. Elias said that last week, Apollo Crews interrupted him, so he’s going to sing it and here comes Crews again to start a match.

A clip aired of Crews interrupting last week leading to Crews cleaning house. Crews is no longer teamed up with Titus O’Neil, so that has ended.

Apollo Crews vs. Elias

Crews with a dropkick to take control early in the match. Elias left the ring and Crews hit a moonsault off the apron as the show went to break.

(Commercial)

Back from break, Elias slapped on a headlock on Crews. When Crews got back up, he connected with an enziguri kick, a running kick, jumping clothesline and kip up from Crews. Standing SSP for Crews connected for a two count. Crews with a fallaway slam like move for a two count. Elias dumped Crews out of the ring. When Crews went back in, Elias hit a knee to the face and Elias followed with the Drift Away neckbreaker for the pinfall win at around eight minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Elias

Analysis: *1/4 It was a very simple match and there wasn’t much to it. They just didn’t do a good job of building up nearfalls or getting the crowd into it. The ending felt sudden with Elias hitting two moves to win. That’s why last week I said Crews wasn’t getting a push because I thought he would do the job to Elias and that’s what he did.

Kurt Angle did a pre-taped promo saying that it’s hard to accept that you can’t do all the things that you used to do when you were one of the best in the world. Angle said that years removed from people thinking he was one of the best ever, he gets to be in the World Cup to prove he’s the best in the world. Angle talked about the tests in the World Cup like Seth Rollins, who is a great IC Champion and Jeff Hardy has overcome so much in his life. Angle said that people think all Miz does is talk, but he’s doing the best work he’s ever done his career. Angle said he’ll never underestimate Rey Mysterio again and he put over Dolph Ziggler for accomplishing so much in his career. Angle talked about how Randy Orton has been unhinged, but recently he’s more dangerous than ever. Angle ended it talking about how John Cena proved to him as a rookie that he had ruthless aggression that led him to 16 championships and a Hall of Fame career. Angle said that the 7 other men provide him with an opportunity to be the best in the world. Angle said he may not be the same man he was 15 years ago, but on this night he feels like he can be the best.

Analysis: It was a smart way to involve Angle on the show by having him talk briefly about the seven other guys in the World Cup tournament.

Still to come is the Raw Tag Team Title match.

(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 (or Tuesday this week because I was delayed) 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.

There was a graphic letting us know that John Cena’s children’s book Elbow Grease is a New York Times bestseller, so congrats to him.

Elias was on the stage ready to sing again, but acting GM Baron Corbin said that he had to keep the show moving on. Corbin said that they don’t have time to accommodate his performance. Corbin talked about how he spoke to Stephanie and Elias said that Stephanie wants to hear him sing. Corbin said that he’s the acting GM, which mean he has more importance than Elias’ little guitar. Corbin said that if Stephanie didn’t like Elias, Corbin would fire him. Corbin told him to get off the stage. Elias said that while Corbin was sucking the entertainment out of the building, he was writing a song he would sing now and told Corbin to shut his mouth. Elias sang that he could see the fear in Baron’s eyes spreading lies and he called Baron a giant puppet with Stephanie’s hand up his ass. Corbin called for Elias’ microphone to be cut, so it was. Corbin told Elias to get off the stage. Elias walked away, Corbin turned to face the crowd, then Elias walked back out and Elias hit Corbin in the back with his guitar. The fans cheered that while Graves complained that you can’t do that to the acting GM. The fans loved that as Elias left with his music playing.

Analysis: It looks like that was the face turn for Elias, which seemed like it was coming due to how the fans cheer him during the beginning of his musical performances. I don’t know if he’ll do better as a face because I think he was more natural as a heel, so it depends on how he is booked in that role.

Ronda Rousey was shown walking backstage because the contract signing is up next.

(Commercial)

A video package aired showing the Bella Twins turning heel on Ronda Rousey a few weeks ago. They showed promos from Ronda and Nikki Bella that set up their Raw Women’s Title match at Evolution.

Contract Signing for Ronda Rousey and Nikki Bella

Michael Cole was in the ring to introduce Nikki Bella with Brie Bella for the Raw Women’s Championship match at Evolution. Nikki was introduced as the longest reigning Divas Champion ever. The fans booed her, but those short shorts make it tough for me to boo her.

Ronda Rousey, the Raw Women’s Champion, was introduced to a big ovation. She had a big smile on her face as she greeted the crowd and she gave a little girl some gloves on her way to the ring. Rousey changed her demeanor with a serious look on her face when she got into the ring leading to the Bellas going to the floor. Cole left the ring at that point, so there was no moderator for this.

Nikki said that they are there for a contract singing while adding that the last place she would ever fight Ronda is Providence, which got some cheap heat. Rousey said that she’s not there to beat them up tonight, she’s there to sign the contract so she can be sure that she can beat up Nikki at Evolution on Sunday. Rousey said that’s how fight contracts worked. Rousey said that she promises she won’t lay a finger on her and unlike the two of them, she gives them her word. Rousey said that if either of them could hurt her with her hands behind her back, her mother would be ashamed of her. Rousey gave them her word that everything is fine. The Bellas went back in the ring, so there was a table in between the two parties with a contract on the table.

Nikki said that Ronda gave them her word and now they must not be in any physical danger. Nikki said speaking of Ronda’s mother, she asked Ronda if she promised her mother that she would win the Olympics and the World Championships that Ronda’s mom did. Nikki said that Ronda promised her mother that she would never have to watch Ronda get hurt in the octagon and retire undefeated. Nikki said that Ronda’s mother is already ashamed of her. Nikki told Ronda to imagine what Ronda’s mother will think when a “diva” beats Ronda for her title. Rousey gave Nikki the pen, so Nikki signed it and slapped Rousey in the face.

Rousey had a serious look in her eyes. She laughed it off and signed the contract. Rousey: “Come Sunday, I will end you. I give you my word.” The fans cheered.  Rousey put the title on her shoulder and she walked out of the ring with no confrontation.

Analysis: That was shocking just because there was nothing physical between them. No brawl during a WWE contract signing is rare. Nikki made it personal by talking about Ronda’s mom as a response to Ronda making it personal last week. I think it was smart to not do anything physical because it will make fans more excited to see the match at Evolution. That should be a win for Rousey, but I think Nikki will come closer to beating her than most women in WWE.

Another replay aired from Roman Reigns’ speech from earlier. They showed the emotional moment with The Shield on the stage.

There were more tweets shown from WWE wrestlers including his cousins The Usos, who he grew up with.

A graphic let us know that at Crown Jewel it is Braun Strowman vs. Brock Lesnar for the vacant Universal Championship.

The duo of Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose were interviewed by Charly Caruso. Ambrose said that there are no words to describe the ride that they have been on together for the last six years. Ambrose said that when you don’t know what to do or what to say, you just know you gotta do what you always do so they will do what they always do…win. Rollins said that there no words, but there are plenty of emotions. Rollins said that they will beat Drew and Dolph to become the new Raw Tag Team Champions. Rollins said they will do it for Roman. Seth: “We love you…believe that.” They left.

Analysis: Good promo from Seth and Dean dedicating their match to Roman Reigns.

Nia Jax made her entrance for a match because she’s not like most girls. She’s in the battle royal at Evolution.

(Commercial)

It was announced that this Thursday at 9am on NBC on Megyn Kelly Today the Bella Twins and Ronda Rousey will be on the show. Also on Friday, the Bella Twins will be guests on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.

The trio of Nia Jax, Dana Brooke and Tamina Snuka were in the ring for a fatal four-way with Ember Moon getting her full entrance to join them in the match. A pre-taped promo from Moon was shown talking about how she’s going to win the battle royal at Evolution.

Nia Jax vs. Tamina Snuka vs. Dana Brooke vs. Ember Moon

Brooke and Moon hit dropkicks on Tamina and Jax, but that wasn’t effective as they were tossed down to the mat. Brooke got a rollup on Moon for two. Jax hit a body slam on Brooke, clothesline on Moon and a splash on Brooke. Tamina battled Jax against the turnbuckle, Tamina with forearms and Jax came back with a splash against the turnbuckle. Tamina with a superkick to Jax. Moon got back into it with an Eclipse stunner on Tamina for the pinfall win after two minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Ember Moon

Analysis: 3/4* It was a rushed match. The whole point of the women’s evolution is to give the women more time in the ring and here they are getting a two minute four-way match to try to get us excited about the battle royal match. I think that’s a bad way to promote Evolution. They should have got more time. Moon winning gives her momentum.

The announcers went over the Evolution card on Sunday, which I have listed at the bottom of this post. We will have a preview up on Friday.

There was a shot of Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre standing backstage ready for their Tag Team Title match.

(Commercial)

There was a segment with Titus O’Neil doing a promo on the stage with six women on the stage holding replica pink WWE Titles. They are all breast cancer survivors with O’Neil saying that one of them was four months pregnant while another woman just got married a few weeks earlier. The fans applauded the women as O’Neil urged the women to cheer the women. You can text WWE to 50555 to donate $5 to WWE and Susan G. Komen’s fight against breast cancer.

The WWE Hall of Fame duo of Trish Stratus and Lita were interviewed by Charly Caruso backstage. Trish said that just ahead of the first ever all-women’s PPV, those women were running from a fight. Lita said that they had their sights set on Evolution from the jump. Lita said that they are ready for this and Trish said they bring out the best of eachother. Alicia Fox showed up to talk trash to them. Lita said they had a message for them, which led to Mickie attacking Lita backstage. Fox knocked down Stratus. Referees showed up to try to break it up. Mickie told Charly that’s how they do it around there these days, which led to Trish and Lita getting back into it by beating up Fox and sending James in a wall. Stratus said that’s how they do it in the Attitude Era while Lita said they’ll see them Sunday.

Analysis: It was a quick way to do a final build to that tag team match at Evolution. No sign of Alexa Bliss, who apparently is dealing with a concussion after a match on the weekend, so we don’t know if she’s going to be ready on Sunday. If she isn’t, maybe Alicia Fox will replace her, which isn’t a great replacement. I’m undecided on the match as far as a prediction goes, but I’ll figure it out by Friday’s preview.

Seth Rollins, the Intercontinental Champion, made his entrance with Dean Ambrose by entering to The Shield music and walking in through the crowd. They were in their Shield gear with the vests.

(Commercial)

A video aired about Steve Austin in something that promoted intelligence because it was sponsored by Just for Men’s “smartest superstar” ad campaign.

The championship duo of Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre made their entrance for this title match. The four men stood in the ring for the in-ring intros.

Raw Tag Team Championships: Drew McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler vs. Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose

The team of Ambrose and Rollins were in control early with a double team suplex on Ziggler and they each hit clotheslines to knock the heels out of the ring as the show went to break one minute into this championship match.

(Commercial)

The match returned with Ambrose sending Ziggler throat first into the top rope. Rollins tagged in with a suicide dive on McIntyre and a slingshot that sent Ziggler over the top to the floor. Rollins hit a suicide dive that took out both heels on the floor. Back in the ring, Rollins went up top, McIntyre shoved him off and Ziggler hit a Fameasser for a two count. McIntyre and Ziggler made some quick tags as they worked over Rollins. Cole called McIntyre and Ziggler “dominant” tag team champions even though they barely defended the title. McIntyre hit a belly to back suplex on Ziggler. McIntyre chopped Rollins and Rollins hit an enziguri kick to the head. Rollins dumped Ziggler out of the ring near where Ambrose was followed by a superkick from Rollins sending McIntyre over the top to the floor. Ziggler predictably pulled Ambrose off the apron and Ambrose ran into a punch from McIntyre. McIntyre hit a reverse Alabama Slam on Rollins that sent him face first into the mat leading to a two count.

(Commercial)

They returned from break with Ambrose hitting a neckbreaker on McIntyre and Rollins hit a Frog Splash as Ambrose hit a suicide dive on Ziggler and Rollins covered McIntyre for two as the fans chanted “this is awesome” for them. Rollins went up top, McIntyre went after him, Rollins tripped him up and Rollins was upside down on the top, but Drew came back with a suplex off the top to send Rollins to the center of the ring. That was incredible. Ambrose dropkick on McIntyre. Ziggler sent Ambrose into the barricade. Rollins back up with a superplex on Ziggler into a Falcon Arrow slam for a two. Rollins never wins with that move, but the fans bought it as a nearfall. Rollins and Ziggler did a few spots leading to reversals from each guy. Rollins tossed Ziggler into McIntyre and McIntyre hit a Claymore Kick on Ambrose. Ziggler sent Rollins into the steel ring post and Ziggler hit a Zig Zag for a two count, which drew a big reaction from the crowd. Ambrose tripped up McIntyre and pulled him out of the ring. McIntyre sent Ambrose into the barricade. Braun Strowman’s music hit as he walked to the ring and Rollins got a rollup for two on Ziggler. Rollins ran into the referee inadvertently to take him down leading to a Rollins double clothesline spot with Ziggler that led to both guys being out in the ring.

McIntyre and Ziggler got into a fight with Strowman hitting a clothesline that sent McIntyre over the top to the floor. They went brawling into the crowd…or the WWE Universe as Cole said. I can say words like “crowd” and “fans” unlike him. Strowman dominated that fight as they went backstage and the camera stopped following them. That meant Ziggler was all alone against two guys. Ziggler grabbed his Raw Tag Team Title, Ambrose took it from him, Rollins with a kick to the gut and Rollins hit The Stomp. Ambrose rolled the ref back in the ring and Rollins covered for the pinfall win after about 19 minutes. The crowd popped huge for the title change.

Winners by pinfall and New Raw Tag Team Champions: Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose

Analysis: **** That was a great tag team match that went nearly 20 minutes with a lot of excitement as you would expect from these guys four guys that have wrestled eachother every week for months now. We have seen this match many times as a regular tag and a six-man tag team match, so they know what spots work. I liked some of the nearfalls like Rollins kicking out of Ziggler’s Zig Zag at the last possible moment. I don’t mind the ref bump at all because it led to the spot with Strowman getting revenge on McIntyre to ruin things for Ziggler because it meant he was all alone. That led to Rollins finishing off Ziggler to win for his team.

After the match was over, Ambrose and Rollins hugged in the ring with the fans cheering them with Cole saying it was an emotional night for them after Roman Reigns’ big announcement. Rollins held up his two titles. They hugged again. Ambrose dropped his title, kicked Rollins in the gut and Ambrose hit a Dirty Deeds in the middle of the ring! Heel turn alert! Cole: “Are you kidding me? Not tonight! Not on this night!” There were shots of fans in the crowd that were shocked by what Ambrose did.

Analysis: There’s that heel turn from Ambrose that a lot of people have wanted for a couple of years now. I thought Cole’s reaction was perfect. He gets a lot of shit, but what he said and how he said it was the right way to react.

Ambrose sat up in the ring with a crazed look in his eyes while Rollins was looking up at him. The announcers went silent the rest of the show to let the video do the talking. Ambrose attacked Rollins with several punches to the head. Fans were shown reacting to it in shock. Ambrose asked Rollins “was that funny?” and told him to say it again, which showed that Ambrose didn’t like Rollins calling him a lunatic in the past. There was this woman with a shocked look on her face.

Ambrose dumped Rollins out of the ring. Ambrose whipped Rollins into the barricade at ringside. Ambrose pulled up a mat outside of the ring to expose the floor. Some fan was yelling “why, why, why” at Rollins. Ambrose grabbed Rollins by the exposed floor, he kept saying “you asked for this” and hit Rollins with a Dirty Deeds DDT on the floor. Ambrose tossed his Shield vest off and left it in the ring. The fans booed Ambrose as he jumped the barricade to leave through the crowd. Ambrose walked up the steps in the arena as fans booed him for his actions while Rollins was left down in the ring after taking that ass kicking from Ambrose. The final shot was Ambrose reaching the top of the steps and looking back at Rollins with an angry look on his face. Ambrose knelt on one knee, did a cross as if he was saying a prayer, looked up and walked away to end Raw.

Analysis: I thought it was well done as a heel turn and I have wanted Ambrose to be a heel for about two hours, so I think it was the right call. However, there’s the question of timing. Why do it on this night when the fans in that arena sat through a very emotional moment with Roman Reigns earlier in the night and they were so happy to see Rollins and Ambrose become Tag Team Champions again. It doesn’t upset me because the phrase “the show must go on” is a part of WWE and doubt Roman Reigns is going to be upset about a storyline turn for Ambrose on Rollins. People won’t forget that turn or the night when it happened, so I think it’s a case of WWE trying to make it memorable whether you liked the timing or not.

If Raw ended without the Ambrose turn and they did it next week that would have been fine with me too, but I don’t mind this way. It’s pro wrestling, my friends. Heel turns can happen at any time. By doing it on the night that Roman announced leukemia, it makes Ambrose look like more of a jerk. It’s not like Ambrose attacked Reigns either. He attacked Rollins. If he attacked Reigns then I would hate it. In this case, so what? It’s a heel turn like we have seen hundreds of times. I thought Dean and Seth executed it well.

To answer a question I know I will be asked: Would I have done the Ambrose heel turn next week instead? Yeah, probably, but I am not upset by doing it here.

As for the Tag Team Titles, there could be a situation where they forfeit them since Ambrose turned heel. That could be a way to have a tournament with a team like Authors of Pain winning to become Raw Tag Team Champions. That would make sense to help establish them as the dominant team on Raw. It’s possible it could be The Revival too.

 

Three Stars of the Show

  1. Roman Reigns – Get better soon, Big Dog.
  2. Dean Ambrose
  3. Seth Rollins

 

The Scoreboard

6 out of 10

Last week: 5

2018 Average: 5.80

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

2018 High: 8 (February 19)

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

 

Final Thoughts

I give it a 6 out of 10.

It’s tough to rate this show because of the Reigns announcement. I’ll go with a 6 because it was solid in terms of the promotion for Evolution on Sunday and obviously the big title change in the main event followed by Ambrose turning on Rollins.

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

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

Smackdown Women’s Championship Last Woman Standing: Becky Lynch (c) vs. Charlotte Flair – That’s the main event to me, but WWE may put the Rousey match on last.

Trish Stratus and Lita vs. Mickie James and Alexa Bliss

Sasha Banks, Bayley and Natalya vs. Ruby Riott, Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan

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, Torrie Wilson, Alundra Blayze, Ivory, Michelle McCool, Molly Holly, Zelina Vega, Kelly Kelly and Maria Kanellis.

Mae Young Classic Tournament Final – I won’t list the names because that’s a spoiler.

NXT UK Championship Match – I won’t list a spoiler here either.

That looks to be the full card with eight matches.

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

Universal Championship Match for the Vacant Universal Championship: 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, The Miz and Rey Mysterio

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

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