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.

Jason Kelly Written by:

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