Monday Night RAW: Roman Reigns Announces That He Is Battling Leukemia, Relinquishes Universal Championship

I am absolutely gutted for Roman Reigns right now. Look, the guy has faced a boatload of criticism throughout his career. Whether it’s because of his character, his constant title pushes, or his in-ring performance, Roman Reigns has been the target of constant complaints from many WWE fans. Hell, I’m sure somewhere down the line I’ve written something nasty about him or his character.

The fact of the matter is this: Roman Reigns is actually Leati Joseph Anoa’i, or “Joe” as he referred to himself on RAW. He is 33 years old, he has a daughter and two sons with his wife, Galina, and he has been fighting leukemia for 11 years. Like him or hate him, this man has shown up week after week on Monday Night RAW and busted his ass for the audience. We didn’t always like it, and we certainly let him know, but god damn he works his ass off.

I know for a fact that I am not alone when I say that I wish nothing but the best for Joe and his family. I hope he kicks leukemia’s ass and comes back to WWE with a vengeance.

His Shield brethren, Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins, came out to embrace their brother and show their support.

I’m not crying, you’re crying.

Anyway, this is Monday Night RAW, and the show did roll on with Finn Balor taking on Bobby Lashley, who was once again accompanied by his hype man, Lio Rush.

Again, I’m still not sold on Lio Rush, especially as a manager/hype man. Literally, all he does is yell “Lashley! Lashley! Lashley!” throughout the whole match. It’s more annoying than it is heel-ish or effective. As for the match itself, it went just about as expected. Lashley spent the majority of the match in control, whipping Balor around the ring and establishing his dominance. Balor would win with a surprise roll-up, causing Lashley to throw a temper tantrum in the ring afterward.

Hopefully, this leads to a meaningful feud between these two superstars who could both use some fresh competition to raise their stocks a bit.

Sasha Banks, accompanied by Bayley and Natalya, then took on Ruby Riott who was, as usual, accompanied by Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan.

So, Natalya is a babyface this month? Okay. Whatever.

Anyway, before this match even got started I was immediately annoyed because they promoted WWE’s Evolution pay-per-view as Sasha Banks was making her entrance. Why did that annoy me? Because I know that Sasha Banks, one of the most talented female superstars on the roster, is not a prominent part of that PPV. Her, Bayley, and Natalya will be facing The Riott Squad on that show and, while that should be a decent match, it’s still ultimately a match that means nothing. Ronda still has a vice grip on the RAW women’s championship, and that is unlikely to change anytime soon.

It’s just frustrating to see extremely talented women being put on the backburner so that a celebrity can have another 15 minutes of fame.

Distractions from the Riott Squad outside of the ring allowed Ruby to pick up the win over Sasha Banks. Just another big win against a top-level superstar on Monday Night RAW for Ruby Riott, who WWE officials are clearly high on, and I’m right there with them.

The 9:00 PM slot of the show belonged to DX, which is never a bad way to kick off the second hour of RAW. Triple H and Shawn Michaels did what they always do, cutting a good, funny promo that ended on a serious note, promising that they were ready to fight the Brothers of Destruction at Crown Jewel. They were interrupted by a pre-recorded promo from Kane and The Undertaker from a graveyard, shoveling dirt onto the graves of Triple H and Shawn Michaels.

As much as I’m disgusted that WWE is still going through with this asinine event I am still looking forward to this match. I don’t expect that it will be an all-time classic, particularly wrestling-wise, but for nostalgia’s sake and for the theatre it will be well worth watching.

Paul Heyman then made his way to the ring and, as if we expected anything else, cut one of the best promos for the Universal Title match-up at Crown Jewel. With Roman Reigns out, the match was announced as Brock Lesnar vs. Braun Strowman one-on-one for the Universal Championship.

However, Heyman started his promo with some of the classiest and most profound words of respect and support towards Roman Reigns.

Heyman was later interrupted by Braun Strowman who, quite literally, yelled into the microphone that he was going to kick Brock Lesnar’s ass all over Crown Jewel.

The best part of this whole exchange was Drew McIntyre flying in out of nowhere and nailing Strowman with a claymore kick.

I’ll admit it: I am, most likely, the president of the Drew McIntyre fan club. I think McIntyre has all the tools to be THE guy in WWE. It seems like he’s inching closer and closer to the title picture every week, so let’s hope it keeps trending that way. That dude is legit.

Elias had a singles match against Apollow Crews and, while that wasn’t a particularly interesting development, what happened afterwards definitely was.

Elias came back onto the stage after the commercial and insisted that he be allowed to perform his song that was cut off by Crews earlier. However, he was interrupted again, this time by Baron Corbin. The acting RAW general manager cut off Elias’ microphone and forced him to get off the stage.

You can imagine how well Elias took that…

BOOM! Ladies and gentlemen, I do believe we just saw an Elias face turn, and I think it’s a great move. If Elias keeps up his anti-hero, don’t give a damn kind of attitude as a face then he will be super over with the WWE audience. I’m looking forward to seeing where he goes after this.

Ronda Rousey and Nikki Bella had their contract signing for the RAW Women’s Championship match at Evolution. You know, the one that nobody asked for? Yeah, that one.

Did you see Nikki Bella “shadow boxing” in the ring before Ronda came out? Good lord.

It’s just… It’s so bad… Like, what WWE official is sitting backstage watching this and saying, “Yup, this looks great. What a great idea.”

Look, I am nothing if not fair, and I will give credit where it’s due… Ronda was decent in this segment. She gave The Bellas her word that she would not lay a hand on them no matter what they did during the contract signing, and she didn’t, even after Nikki slapped her into next week. It was a short segment but that’s all it needed to be, this match is barely headline worthy to begin with so it doesn’t need a ton of production put into it.

The main event of the night was the tag team championship match between Ziggler & McIntyre and Rollins & Ambrose. With The Shield dedicating their match to Roman Reigns, as well as Drew McIntyre beginning to branch out on his own, the writing was on the wall for this one.

The match itself was pretty good with a lot of exciting back and forth action. McIntyre would be taken out of the match towards the end due to Braun Strowman coming out and brawling with him through the crowd. This would allow Ambrose & Rollins to pick up the win and capture the RAW Tag Team Championships.

And then this happened…

YIKES. I mean, Dean turning heel seemed like a foregone conclusion, but… Tonight? They turned him heel tonight? That is ROUGH.

WWE certainly seized upon the drama of Roman’s announcement and used it to fuel the plot. Dean Ambrose might have just become the biggest heel in the company. Let’s see if he can take advantage of that.

Smackdown 1,000: Reunions, Heel Turns, and Returns.

Smackdown celebrated its 1,000th episode Tuesday night in a nostalgia-packed reunion show that did not disappoint. The show opened up with a montage of some of Smackdown’s greatest moments over the years. I enjoyed this almost as much as the rest of the show. It’s easy to forget how many awesome moments Smackdown has had over the years, so this montage was a great way of reminding all of us.

Of all the returns that we got on Smackdown 1,000 the one I was most excited for was the return of Evolution. I loved Evolution when they first formed back in the day. I thought Evolution was the coolest faction on the face of the planet. The suits, the bling, the entrance music, all of it.

 

 

I mean, look at that! How god damn cool is that? If you were a young man in high school and you didn’t want to be like these guys then you were lying to yourself.

Remember their titantron entrance video? They fly in on a damn helicopter and just go out draped in Versace to drink and make out with chicks — all for an entrance video!

I remember buying an Evolution shirt when they first came out. It was back when WWE gave zero fucks about being PG because the shirt said “Paid, Laid & Made” on the back. I wore that thing to high school. I didn’t care.

So, Evolution returned for a little reunion on Smackdown 1,000 and they did not disappoint. It was mostly great to see Batista back in a WWE ring again since he had been away from it the longest, and the man known as “The Animal” made the most of his time by throwing a jab at Triple H.

OHHHHHHH SNAP DAVEY BIG DICK BATISTA JUST DID THAT.

Also, Randy Orton’s reaction afterward was priceless.

So… are we getting Batista vs. Triple H in the near future? I hope so. I would have zero objections to these two linking up at Wrestlemania for one more match. Let’s do it.

We also had the return of “The Rated-R Suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuper star” Edge on Smackdown tonight. He came back to speak to Becky Lynch about her fallout with Charlotte Flair and her overall change in behavior.

Queen Becky did not waiver one bit.

As you should, Your Majesty. As you should.

Seriously, though, Becky is white-hot right now. Whether it’s on the mic or in the ring Becky is proving to be a top superstar in the WWE. I still worry that they’re going to take the belt off her with Wrestlemania season around the corner, but no one can deny the fact that Becky’s stock has never been higher than it is right now. Even if WWE takes the belt off of her you can bet your arse that Becky Lynch will be at the forefront of the Smackdown women’s division for a long time to come.

The New Day took on The Bar in a rematch for the tag team titles which seemed like just a normal rematch until, quite weirdly, The Big Show showed up and did this.

1,000 episodes of Smackdown, 1,000 Big Show heel turns. It was random but it was also a great “OMG!” kind of moment, so I don’t mind it. The Bar are tag team champions once again, and the heels are starting to take over Smackdown before our very eyes.

The showed capped off with The Undertaker making his long-awaited return to Smackdown… to literally say just three words. He just told DX to “Rest in peace” and that was it. It was an extremely odd way to end the show but, hey, he’s The Undertaker. At this point, he can pretty much do whatever he wants and fans will still love him.

Overall, Smackdown’s 1,000th episode was a fun, exciting reunion with some nice surprises throw in. I still think the blue brand is outperforming Monday Night RAW on a weekly basis. Some feuds definitely need to pick it up soon, but overall Smackdown still deserves two hours of your attention every week.

Monday Night RAW Only has One (sort of) Compelling Storyline Right Now

So, this past weekend I went to Cleveland to party with a good friend of mine from college. I basically spent the entire weekend bar-hopping around The Land and drinking with Browns fans. I learned two things: firstly, Cleveland Browns fans either don’t work on Mondays or they just pretend that they don’t, because the amount of drinking they do before a 1 PM Browns game is biblical. Secondly, I learned that 3 days of drinking on little-to-no sleep and zero glasses of water in between leads to an incredibly unpleasant journey home.

I say all that as a way of highlighting just how hungover and half-dead I was when I tuned into RAW on Monday night. I sat there for three hours, drifting in and out and consciousness and reality, trying to stay interested in the show. It was at the very end of the show, which featured The Shield vs. Strowman, Ziggler, and McIntyre for the 3,467th time that I had an epiphany.

Monday Night RAW legitimately has only one interesting storyline happening right now. The whole show is wrapped up in The Shield vs. The Pack (or whatever the hell their stupid name is). That’s it. That’s all. That’s the whole show.

Seriously though, what else is there to tune into on RAW?

Finn Balor vs. Jinder Mahal? Yawn.

Ronda Rousey stuttering and mumbling her way through a promo that someone else CLEARLY wrote for her? No thanks.

The RAW tag team division? BAHAHAHA, not a chance.

Oh, and now we have Elias vs. Apollo Crews, the man who has the personality of a shoe? That’ll be wondrous.

There is not a god damn thing going on during an episode of Monday Night RAW besides this Shield/Pack rivalry, and it’s making the show more insufferable than ever. It’s not even that great of a rivalry if we’re being honest. The matches between these six guys have been average at best. The only part of this program that anyone is interested in is finding out which of these teams will implode first.

Based on what happened this past Monday it would appear that answer is that it will be The Pack that dismantles from within first. Drew McIntyre nailed Brawn Strowman with a Claymore Kick and walked out of the arena in disgust of the discord that took place between Strowman and Dolph Ziggler.

All aboard the Drew McIntyre hype train! If this feud is what catapults him into the main event picture then sign me up. McIntyre should be getting pushed more than Strowman and could very well be the face of RAW before we know it.

Regardless, WWE needs to shake things up on RAW in a hurry, because this show has declined so badly in 2018 that it’s almost unbelievable. It’s not because of a lack of talent, it’s because of a lack of creative thinking.

But hey! At least The Bella Twins are back, right???

*Slams head on desk*

Yet another concussion caused by Brie Bella.

Smackdown Live Recap: Psycho Orton Strike Again, Charlotte Makes a Statement.

Smackdown Live, much like Monday Night RAW, had a few loose ends to tie up before heading into WWE Super Showdown this Saturday on PPV. The show kicked off right away with the cliffhanger from last week, with Paige addressing Samoa Joe’s actions towards AJ Styles and his family.

Paige explained that WWE management wanted Joe fired but after speaking with AJ Styles, who begged her to let him have a match with Joe on Saturday, decided not to fire him and made the title match official. She then showed us a pre-recorded clip of AJ Styles from his house, saying that he would not be on Smackdown Live in order to stay home and protect his family from Samoa Joe.

This was a really strong promo from AJ because you could see and heart both fear and anger emanating from him. His promo portrayed Joe as, literally, the monster under his daughter’s bed, but he also held his head high and vowed to bury Joe alive at Super Showdown. That match is absolutely a must-see come Saturday.

The show took a lighter turn with Carmella & R-Truth facing Andrade Cien Almas & Zelina Vega in a mixed tag match. I actually really enjoy both of these teams. I think Carmella & R-Truth are a good combination, and Almas has star potential written all over him, especially after watching his one-on-one matches against Daniel Bryan.

Carmella & Truth would pull out the win after this beautiful transition by Carmella into the “code of silence”.

Seriously, that was an awesome transition. Carmella was one of the most unique finishers in the game right now, and I’m glad to see her still picking up strong victories despite being bumped out of the title picture for the moment.

The New Day and The Bar hyped their match on Saturday with a short but entertaining segment that basically devolved into one big food fight. The Bar came away looking strong and ready for the title match this weekend. These two teams always put on pretty good matches, so I expect nothing less this Saturday.

Earlier in the night, Tye Dillinger demanded a one-on-one match with Randy Orton, and he got his wish in the worst way possible. Psycho Orton was back in full force this week, beating the hell out of Dillinger all around the arena, and eventually finding a new way to gross us all out.

It’s still not as disturbing as the ear thing he did to Jeff Hardy, but this was still nasty, and I love it. I hope Psycho Orton stays around for a while because when he is dialed in like this he is one of the best heels in the business.

Now on to the soap opera part of this show, as Aiden English came out to show Lana and Rusev his evidence pertaining to what happened during that “one night in Milwaukee” that he teased last week.

Okay… So, there’s… Something there? Obviously, just Lana saying “I want you” with no follow-up isn’t exactly concrete evidence on infidelity, but in WWE world it certainly is. English said he wouldn’t show the rest of the video due to legal reasons, and the segment ended with Rusev chasing him to the backstage area, leaving Lana alone in the ring looking guilty as all hell.

I did love Corey Graves’ reaction to the whole thing, though.

“Getting hot in here…You guys want some tea?”

Shelton Benjamin faced Daniel Bryan in a singles match, apparently due to some social media feud, with The Miz commentating at ringside. The match itself was fine for what it was, but we all knew that this was going to end with Miz attacking Bryan from behind from the ringside position. Bryan would end up losing to Benjamin as a result of Miz’s distracting presence, and Miz would follow that up with an attack of his own, leaving Bryan beaten and broken in the middle of the ring. Miz left him with a simple message.

Asuka took on Peyton Royce in a singles match. It was… fine. It was just fine. I still think that WWE has completely screwed and wasted Asuka since calling her up to the main roster. Unless this current run she’s on ends in a big heel turn or something I can’t see her getting back into the championship picture on either show. Ronda has a vice grip on the RAW title, and I can’t see them taking the title off Becky right now given how white-hot she is.

Again, I’m hoping she turns on Naomi this Saturday in their tag match and goes on a heel run because that’s the only way I can see her getting back into a prominent role on Smackdown Live.

Speaking of Smackdown’s white-hot women’s champion, Becky Lynch closed out the show with a “surprise announcement”.

That surprise came in the form of WWE’s newest poster for the Super Showdown PPV this Saturday.

Unfortunately, Becky’s celebration was cut short by Charlotte Flair, who came out to confront and attack the Smackdown women’s champion.

It speaks volumes about both Charlotte and Becky that WWE is using the main event of the Smackdown before a PPV to promote their title match. Becky and Charlotte have just as much momentum and drama heading into their match on Saturday as AJ Styles and Samoa Joe do, and that’s awesome.

It’s nice to see a women’s championship being treated with respect on at least one of these WWE shows…

RAW Recap: The Good, The Bad, and The Bizarre

This is going to be a bit of a different recap than the previous ones because for once I actually decided to watch most of Monday Night RAW rather than fast-forwarding through the whole thing.

RAW was actually decent this week. It wasn’t a complete waste of my time, and I haven’t been able to say that about the flagship show in quite some time. We were given some above average one-on-one matches and an all-time crowd reaction from Seattle. However, as always, there were some major low points in the show, and I cannot just simply ignore those.

For now, though, let’s start with the positives from this week’s episode of RAW.

The Good:

The singles matches between The Shield & Strowman/Ziggler/McIntyre

For the most part, I have been enjoying the feud between these two groups, and they did a nice job of pumping up the 6-man tag match at the PPV on Saturday by having three separate singles matches this week on RAW. The pairings were Strowman vs. Ambrose, Reigns vs. Ziggler, and Rollins vs. McIntyre. Every single match was influenced by outside interference, but that was to be expected and I still don’t think it took too much away from the actual quality of the matches themselves.

It’s becoming obvious that we’re going to get a Dean Ambrose heel turn at some point, but I’m not convinced that it happens on Saturday. Either way, enjoy The Shield while it’s intact because apparently Vince just loves to split these guys up again and again.

Owens & Elias vs. The people of Seattle

This was fantastic, and good for you, Seattle. It’s been a long time since we’ve heard a massive crowd reaction like this, and it works so well for heels like Elias and Kevin Owens. Other heels within the company may not have handled a reaction like this as well as these two did. Can you imagine someone like Jinder Mahal trying to cut a promo in that environment? YIKES. No way. Luckily, Owens and Elias held their own and turned it into a good segment.

Ruby Riott

Yes, Ruby Riott. Not “Ruby Riott vs. Ronda Rousey”, just Ruby Riott. Ronda still sucks, and I still have no use for the Bella Twins being on my television screen for any reason. However, Ruby Riott pushed Ronda more than anyone else has since she joined the RAW roster. Riott controlled most of the match and came off as a dangerous, up-and-coming talent which is exactly how she should be portrayed. We all knew she wasn’t winning the title on RAW, but at least she didn’t get whipped around like a ragdoll the way all of Ronda’s other opponents have been. I truly hope this is a sign that WWE officials are high on Ruby Riott because she absolutely has the talent and the character to be a top star in the WWE.

Another positive from this match? Brie Bella didn’t touch anyone, so nobody got injured this week.

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Yayyyy!!!!! Let’s all give Brie a big round of applause! She didn’t viciously and carelessly injure any of her co-workers this week!

The Bad:

Lio Rush

Am I supposed to like this guy? I still don’t really know who the hell he is, but apparently, he’s supposed to be cool? I don’t see it. His mic work this week was atrocious, and it was obvious he was rattled by the crowd. Is he good in the ring? I have no idea. I honestly don’t know who or what Lio Rush is supposed to be but I’m already bored with him.

The Tag Team Division

What a dumpster fire the RAW tag team division has turned into. The B Team vs. Chad Gable & Bobby Roode. Woof. But hey! At least it looks like AOP is finally getting somewhat of a push. Unfortunately, with the actual RAW Tag Team Titles being wrapped up in the main event storyline it leaves the rest of the division without much direction.

The Bizarre:

The Ending segment with Triple H, Shawn Michaels, Undertaker & Kane

I’ve watched this segment a few times now, and I’m still not sure if I like it or not. On one hand it was cool to see Shawn Michaels back in the ring doing what he’s always done best, cutting a good promo for the Super Showdown on Saturday. It was also cool to see Kane and The Undertaker do an old school ambush attack just like the Brothers of Destruction used to do.

One the other hand, though… Do we really need the old guys highlighting Monday Night RAW? I mean, I get it, they’re promoting what they believe to be the biggest match of the Super Showdown PPV this weekend, but shouldn’t The Shield, as well as your Universal Champion, be highlighting the show?

Don’t get me wrong, I will always love these four men for what they have given us as wrestling fans over the years, but I’m just not sure I need this feud right now. I’m hoping that I’ll be proven wrong and that Triple H and The Undertaker will put on an all-time classic this Saturday. Recent history, however, dictates otherwise.

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