By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw on the USA Network
Aired live on August 19, 2019 from St. Paul, Minnesota at Xcel Energy Center
[Hour One] Roman Reigns made his entrance and showed more fire than usual while playing to the crowd on the stage. The broadcast team of Michael Cole, Renee Young, and Jerry Lawler checked in. Cole noted that Corey Graves had the week off. A video package recapped the Reigns mystery whodunnit angle.
Dolph Ziggler’s disastrous entrance music played (now I’m happy that I was unable to attend this show and didn’t have to be subjected to that musical atrocity in person) and he joined Reigns in the ring. The fans taunted Ziggler with “you suck” chants after he said all wrestling fans are keyboard warriors. Ziggler claimed he was surprised when he was speared three times by Goldberg.
Ziggler claimed he didn’t know the rules and took issues with Shawn Michaels superkicking him, and said he was so out of it that Maryse’s husband beat him with Ric Flair’s move (actually Charlotte’s since Miz bridged). Ziggler built up to his “it should be me” line, but hit Reigns with a superkick rather than saying the “me” part. Fans taunted Ziggler with “Goldberg” chants. The referee checked on Reigns before calling for the bell to start the match…
1. Roman Reigns vs. Dolph Ziggler. Reigns sold jaw pain from the superkick, but punched Ziggler to ringside. Reigns followed and went for a superman punch off the steps, but Ziggler avoided him, ran him into the barricade, and performed a Zigzag on the floor. [C]
Ziggler picked up a couple of near falls while the broadcast team played up how close he was to scoring a major win off a Zigzag. Ziggler tuned up the band, but Reigns caught him going for a superkick, then hit him with a Superman Punch for a near fall. Reigns speared Ziggler and scored the pin. Ziggler came back with a Fameasser for another two count. Ziggler taunted Reigns, then charged at him only to take a spear and be pinned…
Roman Reigns defeated Dolph Ziggler in 10:50.
The broadcast team hyped Lawler interviewing Sasha Banks on the King’s Court… [C]
Powell’s POV: A good opening match and yet as well performed as some of the near falls were, it’s impossible to buy into the possibility of Ziggler pinning Reigns clean. On a side note, it’s fantasy football season again I’m giving some shout-outs to my friends over at MyFantasyLeague.com, which has been home to all of my fantasy leagues for many years. They can handle our ridiculous Insanity League scoring with offensive and defensive players, so they can handle basic leagues as well as any complicated scoring formats. Now back to your regular scheduled wrestling review.
A graphic listed some stats regarding the WWE 24/7 Championship… Cole noted that they were in the Twin Cities while some artwork of Minneapolis and St. Paul. Cole set up footage of Sasha Banks’ return and her attacks on Natalya and Becky Lynch…
Footage aired from “earlier today” of Becky Lynch delivering a backstage promo. She said people have been asking why she continues to call out people. Lynch said she want to fight the best. Lynch said Banks ran away from WWE four months ago while her career was cold as ice, but now she returned hot as ever.
Lynch wondered what it was that she did during her vacation that made her so hot. Lynch said she did absolutely nothing. Lynch said she put more work into getting Banks into WWE than Banks actually did. She said greats don’t need to be goaded into greatness. Lynch said she’ll be seeking her out and will give Banks something to run home and cry about..
Powell’s POV: A strong promo from Lynch. It was well worded and she delivered it with strong intensity.
Jerry Lawler stood in the ring, which was tricked out with the King’s Court set. He said the King of the Ring event is one of his favorite of the year in WWE. He said it’s not just a monicker, it’s a launching pad. Lawler mentioned that Steve Austin, Bret Hart, and “Minneapolis’s own” Brock Lesnar won past KOTR tournaments. Lawler set up the bracket, which appeared on the screen while Cole discussed it briefly. Lawler predicted that the Raw side would come down to Ricochet and Cedric Alexander.
Bray Wyatt’s The Fiend’s entrance started. “Oh, no, I’ve seen this before,” Lawler said. Lawler left the ring, but the lights went out completely. The strobe lighting started while Lawler stood on the stage. The Fiend appeared behind Lawler and then applied the Mandible Claw. The Wyatt laugh track played, the lights went out, and The Fiend was gone when the lights returned. A trainer and a couple of referees came out to check on Lawler… [C]
Powell’s POV: I like that Lawler didn’t just freeze like a moron and actually tried to leave the ring once he saw The Fiend’s entrance start. Granted, he went to the stage, which is probably the second worst place to go, but at least he did something. Does this mean they are going to leave us waiting another week for a Sasha Banks promo? I was really looking forward to hearing from her and one week isn’t going to change that, so leaving us waiting another week isn’t a bad strategy if that’s the plan.
The broadcast team recapped The Fiend attacking Lawler, then Vic Joseph was introduced as Lawler’s replacement. Cole noted that Joseph calls the matches on WWE 205 Live and NXT UK. Joseph wished Lawler well. A shot aired of the King of the Ring throne, crown, and scepter, which Cole said the winner will earn…
Powell’s POV: No, not another one dimensional king character.
2. Ricochet and The Miz vs. Drew McIntyre and Baron Corbin. Cole stated during the entrances that they still hope to get word from Sasha Banks during the show. The babyfaces jumped out to a quick start heading into a break. [C] Late in the match, Corbin caught Ricochet with a Deep Six for a two count. Ricochet came back with The Recoil (Codebreaker) on Corbin and pinned him…
Ricochet and The Miz defeated Drew McIntyre and Baron Corbin in 10:10.
An ad for NXT touted Matt Riddle vs. Killian Dain as the main event of Wednesday’s show… [C]
Powell’s POV: The biggest news coming out of the tag match is that Corbin has finally ditched the bad wedding bartender shirt. He’s still wrestling in black jeans and a black tank top, but that’s an upgrade over his weird wrestling bartender attire. The match itself was fine and served as a preview of upcoming KOTR matches featuring Ricochet vs. McIntyre and Miz vs. Corbin. My official pick to win is McIntyre based on recent kings Sheamus, Wade Barrett, and even Neville all having European accents. I’m all for McIntyre winning, but not if he’s going to become a one dimensional king (similar to how Charlotte Flair has sadly become a one dimensional queen).
Sasha Banks was shown being led onto an interview set by a production crew member. She sat down in the chair opposite a camera while Cole hyped her interview for later…
Booker T joined the show via Skype and Cole asked him about The Fiend attacking Jerry Lawler. Booker said Wyatt is a like a rabid dog and Lawler was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Cole asked Booker about winning KOTR and “becoming the most entertaining king in history.”
[Hour Two] Booker brought up Harley Race and Randy Savage and said winning KOTR puts the exclamation point on your career. Cole asked Booker for his KOTR prediction. Booker selected Drew McIntyre. Cole noted that he and Young did the same…
Powell’s POV: Wait, Cole, Young, and Booker all picked McIntyre to become king? I’m officially reconsidering my prediction. King Andrade has a nice ring to it.
3. AJ Styles (w/Luke Gallows, Karl Anderson) vs. Braun Strowman for the U.S. Championship. Mike Rome delivered standard introductions rather than in-ring introductions for the title match. Strowman went on the offensive. A short time later, Strowman performed what Cole described as a “very unique looking backdrop” on Styles, then punched Gallows and Anderson off the apron. Styles came back and went for a springboard move, but Strowman swatted him out of the air with a right hand. Strowman set up for his finisher, but Gallows superkicked him for the DQ.
Braun Strowman beat AJ Styles by DQ in 1:50 in a U.S. Title match.
The OC trio worked over Strowman afterward and ran him through the ropes and into the ring post. Gallows and Anderson set up for the Magic Killer, but Seth Rollins’ music played and he raced to the ring and cleared the heels from the ring. Strowman got to his knees and Rollins offered him a handshake, which Strowman accepted. Strowman stood up and held the handshake a little longer than Rollins wanted, but released it. Rollins looked unsure of Strowman…
Samoa Joe was shown walking backstage while the broadcast team hyped the first match of the KOTR tournament for after the break… [C]
Powell’s POV: It is disappointing when the company hypes a title match all week and it turns out to be less than two minutes in length, but I am into the story they are telling with Rollins and Strowman.
Backstage, Rollins said that Strowman would be first in line for a title match if it were up to him. He said they needed to focus on taking out The OC and then proposed that they team to challenge Gallows and Anderson for the Raw Tag Titles. Strowman grunted. Rollins set out to see if he could get them the match…
Powell’s POV: Seth went from being apprehensive to naive. It would actually be fun if this were all a swerve and Rollins ended up being revealed as the leader of The OC, but I’m not holding my breath.
4. Samoa Joe vs. Cesaro in a King of the Ring match. Both men received brief pre-taped promos. The bell rang to start the match and Cesaro ran across the ring and threw an uppercut and then covered Joe for a two count. Joe came back and performed a suicide dive that sent Cesaro into the first row. [C]
Cole confirmed that the tag title match was made official for later in the show. Cesaro went for a suplex, but couldn’t get him up. He went for the move again and suplexed Joe and covered him for a two count. Later, Cesaro performed a quick Swing, then applied a Sharpshooter and then a crossface, which Joe escaped. Joe came back with the Coquina Clutch and got the submission win…
Samoa Joe defeated Cesaro in 10:00 to advance in the King of the Ring tournament.
The broadcast team hyped the upcoming segments…
Powell’s POV: Joe faces the winner of Ricochet vs. McIntyre. Is Joe winning a tell that Ricochet will advance next week or will they actually break from their usual approach by going with a heel vs. heel match?
The broadcast team set up footage of Elias playing a piano at a recording studio. Drake Maverick was there wearing a bad rock wig and tried to roll him up, but Elias roughed him up and kicked him out of the studio for interrupting him…
Elias sat on his stool in the ring and hit a clunker note, then his promo was interrupted by a couple of “technical issues”. Elias said it would be his farewell performance because he has so much going on with the WWE 24/7 Title and KOTR. Elias’s guitar wasn’t tuned and he called for a better guitar.
Elias barked at the production person to get in the ring and hand it to him. In a shocking twist, the production crew member was R-Truth, who removed his hood and smiled when the lights were turned up. A second hooded man revealed himself to be a referee. Truth got a few near falls. Truth grabbed a guitar and tried to hit Elias, who rolled out of the ring to avoid it…
Cole hyped New Day vs. The Revival as coming up later in the show… Young hyped a segment with Rey Mysterio revealing what’s coming up next for him… [C]
Charly Caruso interviewed Rey Mysterio on the backstage interview set. He said he has been very fortunate and had a wonderful career. He said he met people all over the world who he considers not just fans, but friends. Mysterio said that Andrade ripping his mask off was a disgrace. Mysterio said it’s the biggest insult for a luchador and it bothers him that he can’t do anything about it.
Mysterio said he can see what his next moves are going to be, but his body just doesn’t seem to respond. He said he fears his injuries have finally caught up to him. Mysterio said he understands it’s time for him to hang up his mask and let the new generation of superstars make their way in.
Mysterio was about to remove his mask when his son Dominic stopped him. Dominic recalled Mysterio telling him that he would team with him when he debuts. Dominic said he wants to tell his children that he was a partner of their grandfather. Dominic told Mysterio to stay in WWE and not to retire. “I’ll do it for you because I love you, son,” Mysterio said. Rey and Dominic hugged…
Powell’s POV: A good segment. Mysterio worked up genuine emotion and I liked Dominic’s logic behind talking his father into sticking around. Dom’s promo was so heavy that I couldn’t help when it entered my mind that he could actually be setting up a turn on his father. All I know is that Samoa Joe never kicked Dom’s ass, so someone owes us a good ass kicking!
5. Smackdown Tag Team Champions Big E and Xavier Woods vs. “The Revival” Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder in a non-title match. Cole noted that The Revival were wearing snakeskin boots, and they thanked “The Viper” Randy Orton for them on social media. The New Day duo got off to a quick start and cleared both opponents from the ring. [C] Late in the match, Big E set up to spear Wilder off the ropes. E ran the ropes and then took an RKO outta nowhere from Randy Orton for the disqualification.
Big E and Xavier Woods beat The Revival by DQ in 6:20.
After the match, Kofi Kingston came out to help his New Day partners. Kingston got the better of The Revival and then Orton dropped him with an RKO. Cole said Orton has Kingston’s number. Woods went after Orton. Woods ran the ropes, but The Revival hoisted him up and then Orton dropped him with an RKO on the way down.
[Hour Three] Orton barked orders. Dawson put Woods in a figure four, then Wilder leapt off the top rope and stomped the knee of Woods while Orton forced Kingston to watch…
Powell’s POV: Man, Randy Orton really hates pancakes. Anyway, I like the Orton and Revival alliance, but I can’t shake the feeling that it will end with Dawson and Wilder taking RKO’s and being made to look like goofs.
Cole interviewed Sasha Banks, who was seated backstage (all this time?). Cole said it was an open forum and asked Banks if she wanted to explain her actions. Banks said it’s been a crazy and emotional week for her. She said she looked in the mirror last week and told herself that blue is her color. She said her blue hair is all over social media. She said it’s time for her to show up and show out. She said she looks good and feels better.
Cole said no one is talking about her blue hair (that’s a GD lie). Cole asked why she attacked Becky Lynch and Natalya and added that that Natalya was grieving (stop). Banks was silent for a moment, then said, “You’re welcome,” and left the interview set…
Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross made their entrance. Cole said they would face Fire & Desire after the break… [C]
6. WWE Women’s Tag Champions Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross vs. Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville in a non-title match. Cole said they hope to have more details on the Lawler and Woods injuries either later in the show or during the week via social media. Early in the match, Cross kicked Rose from the apron. Rose chased her to the floor and hit her, then Bliss caught Rose with a dropkick through the ropes. Later, Cross ran Rose into the apron and then took a spinebuster from Deville. Bliss tried to interfere, but Deville kicked her. Cross performed a neckbreaker and scored the pin…
Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross beat Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville in 4:15 in a non-title match.
Powell’s POV: The confusion with Bliss and Cross continues in terms of whether WWE wants fans to boo or cheer them. If the goal is to make the live crowds sit quietly during their matches and only react to bigger moves, then the creative forces are doing an amazing job.
Rollins and Strowman were shown taping their wrists. Rollins spoke about their match when he noticed Strowman staring at his title. Rollins said he gets it and they’ll get to that, but they need to focus. Rollins told Strowman to follow his lead and they might walk out as tag champions. Strowman stood up and told Rollins to follow his lead and he promised they would walk out as tag champions… [C]
7. Sami Zayn vs. Cedric Alexander in a King of the Ring match. Both men received pre-tapes. Zayn said he’s lost match after match over the last two months and that all changes in KOTR. Alexander hit a Lumbar Check and pinned Zayn clean…
Cedric Alexander defeated Sami Zayn in 3:35 to advance in the King of the Ring tournament.
Powell’s POV: Alexander will face the winner of the Baron Corbin vs. The Miz match in the next round, while Zayn will return to losing regular matches every week. Honestly, the fact that he mentioned all his losses and the broadcast team played up his losing ways left me hopeful that a change is coming.
The Street Profits were shown watching the match on a backstage monitor. They weren’t wearing the NXT Tag Titles. They reviewed their brackets and Angelo Dawkins was upset because he had Cesaro going to the finals. Montez Ford said they still have the Smackdown side and listed tomorrow’s matches, then hyped the other two first round Raw matches that will air next week. Dawkins asked why they don’t have a tag team KOTR tournament. Ford said it’s because they’re already kings. They shifted their focus to the Raw Tag Title match coming up next… [C]
AJ Styles gave Gallows and Anderson a backstage pep talk about their tag title match…
Natalya was shown backstage with her arm in a sling. She said she just came from the doctor’s office again. She brought up the anniversary of her father’s death. She said Sasha was one of her closest friends and she can’t wrap her head around one of her friends attacking her at one of the most vulnerable times in her life. The crowd’s What? chants were interrupted by Sasha Banks attacking Natalya, then telling her to go to hell and tell her daddy that she said hi…
Powell’s POV: Gross. Will the attempted exploitation of Jim Neidhart’s death ever end? I say attempted because the live crowds have rejected it the last two weeks and Vince McMahon apparently isn’t getting the message.
Seth Rollins and Braun Strowman made their entrance for the main event… [C] The OC made their entrance…
8. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson (w/AJ Styles) vs. Seth Rollins and Braun Strowman for the Raw Tag Titles. Mike Rome delivered in-ring introductions for the title match. Rollins had his ribs wrapped. Strowman and Gallows started the match. Strowman got the better of a lockup and then threw punches at Gallows in the corner, then knocked him down with a shoulder block. Rollins checked in and worked over Gallows, then fell victim to the numbers game while fighting at ringside next to the OC’s corner. [C]
Gallows shoved Strowman into the ring post, leaving Rollins to fight alone while Strowman was down. Rollins worked over both opponents and picked up a near fall on Anderson with a falcon arrow. Rollins went up top and Styles tripped him up while Anderson distracted the referee, which led to a near fall for Gallows. Rollins fought and avoided the Magic Killer.
Strowman recovered and took out Gallows and Styles with shoulder blocks at ringside. Strowman tagged in and dominated Gallows and Anderson, then performed a powerslam on Anderson. Styles tried to interfere, but Rollins cut him off with a Stomp while Strowman got the pin.
Seth Rollins and Braun Strowman defeated Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson in 12:15 to win the Raw Tag Titles.
Rollins and Strowman celebrated their win together on the stage…
Powell’s POV: The crowd was pleased to see the title change. This is straight out of the Vince McMahon playbook with reluctant tag team partners winning the tag titles at the expense of an actual tag team. It made for a good end to the show, but it hurts Gallows and Anderson in the moment to lose the titles so quickly. We’ll see how they look at the end of what I assume will be a short reign for Rollins and Strowman.
Overall, though, this was an entertaining show. I thought the KOTR matches would be among the highlights because the results matter, but I can’t say that the matches were a big part of the show’s success tonight. Meanwhile, there was not an NXT to USA Network announcement tonight despite a report of that happening. I still assume that announcement is coming soon. I will have more to say in my same night audio review for Dot Net Members.