By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw on the USA Network
Aired live on October 22, 2018 from Providence, Rhode Island at Dunkin’ Donuts Center
[Hour One] WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns made his entrance to the usual mixed reaction. Reigns signed as he stepped onto the stage. Michael Cole, Corey Graves, and Renee Young were on commentary, and JoJo introduced Reigns. Once Roman’s music stopped, there were loud boos, which drew a smile from Reigns, who was dressed in street clothes.
Reigns said he feels like he owed everyone an apology. He said he said he said he would be a fighting champion and that was all a lie. He said his real name is Joe and he’s been living with leukemia for eleven years and it’s back and has has to relinquish the Universal Championship.
Reigns said he will take all the prayers he can get, but he’s not looking for sympathy. He said he was diagnosed when he was 22 years old and he was able to put it in remission very quickly. He said it was the hardest time of his life. He said football was done with him and he was jobless and he had a baby on the way. He said the team that gave him a chance was WWE.
Reigns said the fans made his dreams come true. He said it didn’t matter if he was cheered or booed, the fans reacted to him and he has to thank them for that. A “thank you, Roman” chant started. Reigns looked emotional. Reigns thanked the fans and made it clear it was not a retirement speech.
Reigns said he was going home to focus on his kicking the disease’s ass. He said he will beat it and he will be back and the fans will see him “very, very soon.” Reigns added, “Once again, thank you so much, God bless you and I love you. Believe that.” The fans responded with another “Thank you, Roman” chant.
Roman waved to the fans and placed the title belt down in the middle of the ring. Reigns slapped hands with fans as he walked up the ramp. Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins came out and hugged him. They did the Shield fist bump and then his music played and they embraced again…
Powell’s POV: This ranks high on the list of all-time shocking moments in WWE history. I’m stunned. Reigns handled the speech as well as anyone could in this situation and the fans could not have been classier. Did he ever acknowledge his past leukemia diagnosis? If so, it’s news to me. Either way, I respect the fact that it was never exploited. I simply wish him the very best.
A recap of the Reigns announcement was shown… The broadcast team addressed it and wished him well. Graves said he was blindsided. They shifted to promoting other matches for Raw…
1. Finn Balor vs. Bobby Lashley (w/Lio Rush). Rush had the live mic again and did his usual annoying laugh and chanting for Lashley. Rush caused a distraction. Balor chased him and ran into a Lashley clothesline heading into a commercial break. [C] Lashely set up for a powerbomb. Balor slipped away and rolled him up for the surprise win.
Finn Balor pinned Bobby Lashley in 9:10.
Powell’s POV: WWE issued a brief statement on the Reigns announcement that can be read on our main page. As for the match, I assume Balor has a big beatdown coming out of this upset to set up a feud between the two.
Cole, Graves, and Young spoke about Reigns and noted that Raw storyline general management was meeting to determine how to handle the situation with the vacant WWE Universal Championship…
Sasha Banks, Bayley, and Natalya made their entrance. A brief pre-taped promo from the three was shown to promote their match against Riott Squad for WWE Evolution… [C]
The broadcast team recapped Drew McIntyre giving Braun Strowman a Claymore Kick last week… Backstage, Ziggler spoke about having to always look over their backs. McIntyre said he saw the writing on the wall. He said he had to choose between kill and be killed. McIntyre said Ziggler wouldn’t have to worry about anything. He said he was going monster hunting…
Powell’s POV: It seems like they may be shifting Strowman back into babyface mode. If so, it may be the result of what is happening with Reigns. For what it’s worth, Strowman was a babyface at the weekend house shows and even pinned Dolph Ziggler in a match on Saturday.
2. Sasha Banks (w/Bayley, Natalya) vs. Ruby Riott (w/Liv Morgan, Sarah Logan). Riott Squad’s entrance was televised and they also had a pre-tape about the Evolution match. Banks went to the ropes and was knocked to the floor by Riott heading into a break. [C]
Banks was going for the Bank Statement. Morgan ran in and was cut off by Bayley. Morgan and Logan ran Bayley into the barricade at ringside and then roughed up Natalya. Banks went to the floor and punched both heels. When she returned to the ring, Riott was waiting with kick that sent Sasha’s head into the turnbuckle and then she performed a Riott Kick and scored the pin…
Ruby Riott defeated Sasha Banks in roughly 8:00.
The broadcast team spoke briefly about Evolution and then Crown Jewel. Cole set up a replay of last week’s video message from Undertaker and Kane… DX was hyped for later in the show… [C]
Powell’s POV: Solid hype for the Riott Squad vs. Banks, Bayley, and Natalya at Evolution. They put a little heat on the heels going into what I assume will be a babyface win on Sunday.
Nia Jax delivered a promo saying the world will see at Evolution that women can do anything. She said winning the battle royal is another title opportunity and it’s one she won’t squander…
Powell’s POV: Jax sounded like an uninterested celebrity reading a bad public service announcement.
Triple H and Shawn Michaels made their entrance. Hunter said people are saying fear kept him in the boardroom and kept HBK from coming out of retirement.
[Hour Two] Hunter said it’s going to take a lot more to instill fear in them than going into the boiler room at Knoxville City Hall, putting on a mask, and making some idle threats. “I hate to break this to you, boys, ain’t neither one of us running for mayor,” Michaels said. He said people are talking about the word nostalgia and it’s a nice way of saying old.
Triple H said there’s a sequel to a movie out that came out 40 years ago and it’s number one at the box office. He said they packed 70,000 fans into the venue in Australia “to see this” while pointing at himself. “Maybe old is just a really polite way of saying we’re better,” Triple H said.
Hunter spoke about the X on the DX shirt. He said there’s another X that says they are better and another X that says the future is now. “And guess what, we’re running that too,” Michaels said. An NXT chant started. Hunter said they aren’t coming to make Undertaker and Kane laugh or for nostalgia, they are coming to kick their ass. Michaels was about to deliver the sendoff when the lights flickered.
The gong sounded a couple times and then an Undertaker and Kane video aired on the big screen. They spoke of pride and arrogance. Undertaker said the DX reunion will be the vessel of their destruction. Kane said Hunter should have stayed away and Michaels should have stayed retired. Kane said you can’t turn back the clock or avoid the reaper or the Brothers of Destruction. Taker pointed out Shawn and Hunter tombstones and they both poured dirt into the ground and the camera pointed up from the hole…
Cole, Graves, and Young spoke briefly about the previous angle and then set up footage from the Reigns’ announcement from earlier in the show… The broadcast team pointed out tweets as some were shown on the screen. Graves compared losing Reigns to losing a star quarterback.
Cole announced that Brock Lesnar vs. Braun Strowman will now meet in a singles match to crown the new WWE Universal Champion at Crown Jewel…
A brief recap of last week’s Ronda Rousey and Bella Twins segment was shown. Young hyped the contract signing for later in the show…
Paul Heyman was shown walking backstage. Cole said Heyman would appear after the break… [C]
Powell’s POV: I can’t say crowning either Lesnar or Strowman as the new champion at Crown Jewel does a lot for me in the moment, but we’ll see how they position both men.
Dana Brooke delivered a brief backstage promo about showing the world what she can do in the battle royal at Evolution..
Paul Heyman stood in the ring and gave a low key introduction before saying his thoughts and prayers are with the man the fans know as Roman Reigns. He said it is humbling to be with the members of the locker room and to be in the presence of such courage and greatness.
Heyman said when he goes home and has to explain everything to his children, he wants them to understand that what they witnessed was sacrifice. Heyman said he sacrificed his career aspirations because he couldn’t fulfill his obligations. He said the title deserves the best that the champion has to offer, and fans have the right to push for who they think is the best. Heyman said we had the best until 8:05 tonight.
Heyman said only Lesnar or Strowman will get to say they are worthy of being champion. He said it sure as hell isn’t Strowman. Heyman said Lesnar is the only one worthy of the honor and dignity of being “your champion.” He also spoke about Lesnar laying the title belt down in the UFC octagon and saying he is the best that WWE has to offer. Heyman said Strowman can’t hang with Lesnar and he’s not even in the same species as Lesnar.
Strowman’s music played. Heyman remained straight faced and didn’t squirm like he normally does in these situations. Strowman told Heyman to tell Lesnar he will beat his ass all over Crown Jewel and will bring the belt back to Raw and he’ll do it every single Monday. Strowman said that he’s had his differences with Reigns, but once he beats leukemia he will be first in line for a title opportunity.
Suddenly, Drew McIntyre blasted Strowman with a Claymore Kick at ringside. McIntyre walked up the ramp and looked down at Strowman, who held his jaw as he got to his feet…
Powell’s POV: A good segment. Did Heyman remain confident when Strowman’s music played because his character knew that McIntyre was coming out? If McIntyre and Ziggler drop the belts tonight, could McIntyre find his way into the title match at Crown Jewel? He would make a great champion and beating Lesnar and Strowman would be a great way to establish him.
Backstage, a fired up Ziggler praised McIntyre for what he did to Strowman. Charly Caruso showed up and asked him if he’s worried about repercussions. McIntyre said no. He said half the WWE roster worries about what ifs. He said he’s not a child and he’s not afraid of monsters. He said they can now focus on defending their tag titles…
Elias sat on a stool in the ring and played his guitar. Apollo Crews came out for their match…
3. Elias vs. Apollo Crews. Crews performed an early moonsault onto Elias on the floor. [C] Crews had offensive control and yelled in attempt to get the crowd behind him. Fans who reacted booed. Crews hit a standing moonsault for a two count. Elias came back and hit Drift Away for the win…
Elias defeated Apollo Crews in 7:00.
A Kurt Angle promo aired. He said he’s faced some of the greatest wrestlers during his career. He said it’s been tough to get rid of that itch. He said people debated whether he was the best ever and now he’s competing to be the best in the world. Angle spoke about each of his seven opponents in the WWE World Cup tournament. Angle said he may not be the same man he was 15 years ago, but on this one night he believes he can be…
The broadcast team hyped previously announced matches… [C]
Elias sat on a stool on the stage and said he was feeling good after his win. He was about to play a song when Baron Corbin came out and interrupted him and said they just don’t have time for his performance. Corbin said what he had to say was far more important than what he was going to play on his little guitar.
Elias glared at Corbin, who told him to watch the way he was looking at him. Corbin said he would fire Elias if Stephanie didn’t like him. Corbin told him to get off the stage. Elias said he was writing a song in his head while Corbin was sucking the wind out of the building.
Elias sang a song about Corbin having fear in his eyes and being a puppet with a hand up his ass. Corbin called for his mic to be cut, which it was. “Like I said, you work for me, get off the stage,” Corbin ordered. Elias stood up and headed backstage. Corbin smirked. Elias returned and smashed the guitar over the back of Corbin. Graves said you can’t do that to the acting general manager. “He just did,” Young replied…
Powell’s POV: That was an unexpected turn. Of course, you have to wonder whether this was something they had planned or if the situation with Reigns is causing them to do some reshuffling. Either way, the fans love Elias so I like the move.
A Smackdown ad hyped AJ Styles and Daniel Bryan vs. The Usos in a rematch, and Rey Mysterio on Miz TV… [C]
[Hour Three] A couple of tweets and a tale of the tape for Ronda Rousey vs. Nikki Bella were shown, then a video package aired on their feud…
Michael Cole stood in the ring and hosted the contact signing for the Raw Women’s Championship match at Evolution. Cole introduced Nikki Bella and Brie Bella. Once in the ring, Nikki boxed while Brie held up her hands. Ronda Rousey came out to a good reaction and handed a glove to a young girl on her way to the ring. Once Rousey entered the ring, the Bellas went to ringside.
Nikki said Ronda was there to fight, while they were there for a contract signing. She said the last place they would fight her is in Providence, which drew boos. Rousey said she was there to sign the contract and wouldn’t beat them up tonight. She said her word is her bond and nothing they said or did would make her break this promise. She said that if either one of them could hurt her with her hands behind her back then her mother would be ashamed of her.
The Bellas entered the ring and Nikki mockingly spoke about Rousey giving her word. Nikki asked Ronda if she promised her mother that she would win at the Olympics and a world championship like she did. She asked if she promised her mother that she would never get hurt in octagon and retire undefeated. Nikki said Ronda’s mother is already ashamed of her. She asked what Rousey’s mother will think when a Diva beats her for her title.
Nikki signed the contract and then slapped Rousey across the face. Ronda made her mean face, then smiled and signed the contract. “Come Sunday, I will end you,” Rousey said. “I give you my word.” Rousey set the mic down and left the ring…
Powell’s POV: Another good segment. Not as hot as Rousey tearing into the Bellas last week, but a good followup with Nikki getting her turn.
Cole set up a recap of the Roman Reigns announcement from the opening segment… More wrestler tweets were shown in support of Reigns… Cole hyped the Lesnar vs. Strowman match for the vacant championship…
Charly Caruso asked Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose if they could put into words the emotion of the night. Ambrose said there not, but when you don’t know what to do or say, you just have to do what you always do and thus they would do what they always do: win. Rollins said there are no words, but he had plenty of emotions. He said they would channel those emotions and win the Raw Tag Titles for Reigns…
Powell’s POV: There’s no way they can lose, right?
Nia Jax made her entrance for a women’s four-way… [C]
Rousey and the Bellas will be on NBC’s Today on Thursday, and the Bellas were hyped for the Tonight Show on Friday night… Ember Moon’s entrance was shown along with a corny pre-tape about the battle royal…
4. Nia Jax vs. Tamina vs. Ember Moon vs. Dana Brooke. Tamina and Brooke’s entrances were not televised. Moon performed an Eclipse out of nowhere on Tamina and pinned her…
Ember Moon beat Tamina, Nia Jax, and Dana Brooke in a four-way in 1:45.
Powell’s POV: Quick and empty hype for the battle royal.
The broadcast team ran through the Evolution lineup… Ziggler was fired up backstage while McIntyre just looked at him… [C]
Powell’s POV: Please let this end with a tag title change and McIntyre performing a Claymore Kick on Ziggler to move on and become a singles wrestler.
Titus O’Neil hosted the breast cancer charity segment. A video narrated by Naomi was shown. Titus noted that his grandmother lost her fight to breast cancer in 1995. He introduced six breast cancer survivors who were on the stage with him holding title belts. One of the women is pregnant, and another was recently married…
Caruso interviewed Trish Stratus and Lita, who received a better reaction from the live crowd this week. She asked about being taken lightly by Alexa Bliss and Mickie James. Lita said they are ready for it. Trish said they bring out the best in each other. Alicia Fox showed up and did her crazy woman routine. She was a distraction for James attacking the legends from behind. Trish and Lita recovered and ended up leaving them lying before saying that’s how they did things in the Attitude Era…
Powell’s POV: No sign of Bliss, who reportedly suffered an injury at a live event over the weekend.
Rollins and Ambrose made their entrance through the crowd. Cole said they were entering as the Shield and it was a tribute to Reigns… [C]
5. Drew McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler vs. Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose for the Raw Tag Titles. The entrance of the champions was televised and JoJo delivered in-ring introductions for the title match. Cole said the champs would have to weather and early storm due to the emotion of the challengers. Rollins and Ambrose clotheslined McIntyre and Ziggler to ringside in the opening minute and they cut to break. [C]
McIntyre shoved Rollins off the top rope and then Ziggler performed a Fameasser for a two count. Rollins was isolated until he superkicked McIntyre to ringside. Rollins went for a tag, but Ziggler pulled Ambrose off the apron. McIntyre performed an Alabama Slam on Rollins for a two count heading into a break. [C]
McIntyre shoved Rollins off the top rope and then Ziggler performed a Fameasser for a two count. Rollins was isolated until he superkicked McIntyre to ringside. Rollins went for a tag, but Ziggler pulled Ambrose off the apron. McIntyre performed an Alabama Slam on Rollins for a two count heading into a break. [C] Rollins and got a near fall on McIntyre right before the top of the hour.
[Overrun] McIntyre caught Rollins on the ropes and threw him across the ring. Rollins recovered and performed a superplex and a falcon arrow on Ziggler for another near fall. Later, McIntyre went for Dirty Deeds on McIntyre, who shoved him away and hit a Claymore Kick. Rollins tossed McIntyre to ringside only to have Ziggler throw him into the corner and hit a Zigzag for another good near fall. McIntyre returned and he and Ziggler set up for their finisher. Ambrose tripped McIntyre.
Strowman’s music played and he headed to the ring. Rollins accidentally hit the referee when Ziggler ducked a move. REF BUMP!!! Strowman and McIntyre fought in and around the ring and then into the crowd. Strowman got the better of the exchange as they fought to the concourse area. Ziggler tried to leave with a tag belt, but Ambrose stopped him. Rollins performed a Stomp on Ziggler. Ambrose woke up the referee, who counted the pin…
Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose defeated Drew McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler in 19:20 to retain the Raw Tag Titles.
Rollins and Ambrose celebrated their win and hugged. Suddenly, Abrose kicked Rollins in the gut and dropped him with Dirty Deeds. “Are you kidding me?” Cole asked. “Not tonight. Not on this night.” Ambrose punched the mat a couple of times and bit his own fist. Ambrose kicked Rollins while he was down and then punched him repeatedly while yelling at him.
Ambrose asked Rollins repeatedly if he thought it was funny (presumably calling him a lunatic last week) and told him to say it again, then threw more punches at him and tossed him to ringside. Ambrose continued to work over Rollins at ringside and put the boots to him while telling him to watch his damn mouth.
Ambrose picked up the tag titles and threw them at Rollins. Ambrose pulled back the ringside padding and worked over Rollins with more punches. Ambrose told Rollins to suck it up and said he asked for it, then dropped him with Dirty Deeds on the concrete. Ambrose removed his t-shirt and threw it aside. Fans booed as Ambrose hopped the guardrail and exited up the area where the Shield normally make their entrance while Rollins remained motionless on the floor. Ambrose got to the top of the steps and looked back toward the ring…
Powell’s POV: So much for the feel good ending. Kids, that’s called a heel turn. I know you’re not used to seeing those in this day and age of wrestlers and companies telling you that there are no such things as heels and babyfaces, and when WWE often has wrestlers change sides without actual turns, so I figured I better explain that for you. All kidding aside, that was shocking given the tone of the night. Wow. I will have much more to say in my members’ audio review later tonight and in my Raw Hit List on Tuesday.
Check below for the latest Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell and NWA Champion Nick Aldis.