SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)…
WWE MONDAY NIGHT RAW PRIMER
MARCH 18, 2019
CHICAGO, ILL. AT THE ALLSTATE ARENA
AIRS ON USA NETWORK, 8:00PM EST
BY FRANK PETEANI (@FrankPeteani), PWTORCH SPECIALIST
Announcers: Michael Cole, Corey Graves, Renee Young
Arena and Items Advertised by WWE
WWE Raw comes to us tonight from the Allstate Arena in Chicago, Ill. (I hear the C.M. Punk chants already). The arena was formally known as the Rosemont Horizon. The building opened for business in 1980 and has hosted WWE events as far back as 1985, including The Wrestling Classic which was won by the late WWE Hall of Famer Junkyard Dog. WrestleMania II was split between three locations with the Rosemont Horizon being one of them. We’ll never forget the famous WWE Championship which saw CM Punk defeat John Cena and leave town (for two weeks) as the WWE Champion. Raw emanated from this location only five months ago, two weeks prior to Roman Reigns’ leukemia announcement.
That was all then, and this is now. Here is what’s advertised thus far for tonight’s show, subject to additions and changes as we head towards tonight:
- The Beast returns before WrestleMania
- Kurt Angle’s farewell tour rolls on
- Seth Rollins seeks retribution against Drew McIntyre
- Dana Brooke gets her title opportunity against Ronda Rousey
- Who will partner with Finn Balor against Bobby Lashley and Lio Rush
- Is Beth Phoenix pondering an in-ring return?
- No. Holds. Barred
Brock Lesnar Returns
WWE Universal Champion Brock Lesnar has not been on television since giving six F-5s to Seth Rollins on the Raw after the Royal Rumble this past January. Following that episode, we learned on WWE.com that Rollins would challenge Lesnar for the Universal Championship at WrestleMania.
Rollins has been verbally going at it with Lesnar’s advocate Paul Heyman, with last week being no exception. Rollins pointed out that Lesnar has had problems with people of his size in recent time despite winning those matches (A.J. Styles, Daniel Bryan, and Finn Balor). Heyman countered by saying Lesnar had minimal time to prepare for those opponents. At Survivor Series 2017, Lesnar was to face Jinder Mahal until A.J. Styles beat him for the WWE Championship. At 2018’s offering, Lesnar was to face A.J. Styles when Daniel Bryan defeated him for the same championship. At this past Royal Rumble, Lesnar was to face Braun Strowman until he was removed by Vince McMahon and Finn Balor earned his way into the match.
Out of nowhere, longtime Lesnar friend and former Minnesota Wrecking Crew tag team partner Shelton Benjamin attacked Rollins from behind. They went on to have a match, which lasted about 11 minutes and saw Rollins win with his signature Stomp. On guest commentary, Heyman admitted to paying Benjamin to attack Rollins from behind.
Tonight, Lesnar returns to WWE television to get ready for his WrestleMania date with Rollins. This will be their second one-on-one. Their previous encounter was at Battleground 2015 which saw Lesnar win via DQ when the Undertaker returned. Here’s Rollins on Twitter this past week:
Lesnar on #RAW next week….Chicago, I hope you’re down to do the talking for me because I’m ready to do the fighting for all of us. Time to let ‘em know. https://t.co/mPry1QrICO
— Seth Rollins (@WWERollins) March 12, 2019
Frank’s Analysis: One annoying item is Shelton is on Smackdown. This is the stuff that started happening almost three years into the original roster split. They started shuffling the men & women back and forth whenever they wanted. I don’t know how many people know of the connection between Shelton and Lesnar. At any rate, Rollins made a very logical point in bringing up Lesnar having an issue with smaller wrestlers. Heyman’s counter-argument was also effective. For me it was the best back-and-forth those two have had since the WrestleMania match has been made official. Assuming they do an in-ring face-to-face or even if it’s just Heyman and Lesnar, I’d like to hear what Lesnar has to say. He’s more effective than for what WWE gives him credit.
Kurt Angle WrestleMania Opponent
They’re in Chicago tonight. Make it C.M. Punk. Could you imagine?
Last week on Raw, we got some pretty big news regarding WWE Hall of Famer Kurt Angle. In his hometown of Pittsburgh, Pa., Angle announced he will be having his farewell match at WrestleMania.
Angle signed with WWE in 1998 and made his television debut one year later. In his first full year with the company (2000) he won the European and Intercontinental Championships, the King of the Ring tournament, and the WWF(E) Championship. He famously retained the title against five others in a Hell in a Cell match at Armageddon that December.
He would add many other titles and accolades through the years and had big feuds with “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, The Rock, The Undertaker, Triple H, Edge, and Shawn Michaels just to name a few. No one could forget him singing “Sexy Kurt” in the build to his WrestleMania match with Michaels in 2005. Of course, he is famous for telling us from time to time that he won a gold medal with a “broken freakin’ neck.” After leaving WWE in 2006 he went on to have a Hall of Fame career with TNA/Impact Wrestling, before returning as a member of WWE’s Hall of Fame in 2017. He was involved in Ronda Rousey’s first WWE match as her tag team partner against Triple H & Stephanie McMahon at last year’s WrestleMania.
Last week he defeated Apollo Crews, a man who looked up to Angle growing up. Tonight, he reveals his WrestleMania opponent. WWE fueled speculation on their website citing eight possibilities. Here’s the Twitter link:
Who should @RealKurtAngle face in his farewell match at #WrestleMania? We have EIGHT Superstars in mind. https://t.co/fvBZusRqTZ
— WWE (@WWE) March 16, 2019
Frank’s Analysis: My money is on John Cena, who had his first televised match against Kurt and also inducted him into the Hall of Fame. The Undertaker sounds like it makes sense, but there’s almost no talk of him being at WrestleMania and between the two of them who’s carrying the match anyway? There’s a history with Shelton Benjamin, but I can’t see a match with him being all that good. Chad Gable is an interesting choice, as Angle would be able to go over without hurting Gable. There is a history with Samoa Joe, but that was in TNA/Impact. Roman Reigns is likely to be tied up with Drew McIntyre. They could always do a tag match with Roman and Kurt against McIntyre and Baron Corbin, but they’ve advertised Kurt’s last go as a singles match. That doesn’t matter to WWE as they can change things up. Rey Mysterio is a good choice, as they always put on classics back during Kurt’s initial WWE run. It was Rey that defeated Kurt and Randy Orton at WrestleMania in 2006 to win the World Heavyweight Championship.
Seth Rollins vs. Drew McIntyre
Last week following the Shield’s farewell address, we expected to have a match between Roman Reigns and Baron Corbin. It would have been Reigns’ first singles match since before his leukemia announcement back in October of 2018.
Instead Reigns was treated to an attack from behind by Drew McIntyre, which ended in a Claymore Kick into the ring post. Reigns looked like he was suffering from a concussion and was helped to the back by Seth Rollins. While in the back, Rollins insisted Reigns get checked out. Dean Ambrose approached Triple H and said he wanted McIntyre one-on-one, no DQ or count out and falls count anywhere. Triple H granted Ambrose his wish.
McIntyre and Ambrose went at it in the production area, through the crowd, in the concourse (where Dean would have a quick mid-match snack having a little popcorn. Why not?), and eventually the entrance ramp. McIntyre lawn darted Ambrose a few times onto the stage backdrop and gave him a Claymore Kick with his head lodged in the stair railing to pick up the pin.
McIntyre has indicated that he broke the Shield several months ago and is willing to do it again. Tonight, he continues that journey as he takes on Seth Rollins. Rollins will look for retribution for his Shield brothers.
Frank’s Analysis: As I talked about in last week’s primer and has been speculated on several podcasts here at PWTorch, we can expect Roman Reigns to face Drew McIntyre at WrestleMania. It feels like a big match and one they can build towards without having to wrestle Reigns on TV until the event, assuming the protocol is for him to take it easy upon his return. Playing the concussion angle is not one I would have chosen given how sensitive we are to concussions not just in wrestling, but in the NFL in recent years.
Another possibility to consider is a tag match with Ambrose and Reigns facing Corbin and McIntyre at WrestleMania. They’re in a weird position if they go with Reigns and McIntyre one-on-one whereas with the tag match, Reigns or even Ambrose can pin Corbin and at the very least it protects McIntyre. You don’t want to keep beating McIntyre one-on-one especially if you want to make him one of your top heels. You could also have McIntyre and Corbin go over with Ambrose taking the pin. It’s just a scenario to consider.
As far as the match tonight, these two have gone at it on Raw several times since the summer. Should Rollins win the Universal title this could the match we see a lot more of after WrestleMania, hopefully on PPVs.
Raw Women’s Championship: Ronda Rousey (champ) vs. Dana Brooke
Raw Women’s Champion Ronda Rousey had some choice words for WWE fans and her WrestleMania opponents Becky Lynch & Charlotte Flair last week.
She told the fans to “take their applause and shove it” and called them bandwagon bitches. She reminded us of how fans chanted “you deserve it” after she was brutalized with a kendo stick at Survivor Series by Charlotte and went on to call her and Becky “carny con artists.” Dana Brooke would interrupt and talk about how she may not be a big-time fighter but loves WWE. She continued on and reminded Ronda how she issues an open challenge after PPVs, and she accepts. That was not wise on her part, as she was kicked down immediately and brutalized by Ronda.
On Friday morning, WWE announced they have fined Ronda for an undisclosed amount. They cite her unprofessional behavior. Here’s the announcement by WWE:
BREAKING: @RondaRousey has been fined due to her actions this past Monday on #Raw. https://t.co/UrBsjH5m86
— WWE (@WWE) March 15, 2019
Tonight, Dana Brooke gets an opportunity for the Raw Women’s Championship when she challenges Ronda. Here’s Ronda as somebody approached her in regard to the match tonight:
.@RondaRousey is on the way to #WrestleMania and ready for @DanaBrookeWWE tomorrow night on #Raw! pic.twitter.com/a3JoqWJNb5
— WWE (@WWE) March 18, 2019
Frank’s Analysis: Ronda is now properly placed as a heel, but her promo last week did not work on a few levels. She didn’t discuss her actions at Fastlane as she was supposed to and talked a million miles a minute. If you’re not a PWTorch VIP member, Go VIP to hear Zack Heydorn’s On The Canvas podcast in which he gives a very accurate review in this past episode. I would add also she’s coming off as if she’s talking down to her opponents and down to the fans, almost as if she thinks her “you-know-what” doesn’t stink and she’s above everything. You don’t want to be in that territory even as a heel. People will just want you to go away. She did shake the smiling she usually does and sounded like a killer, so those parts of it were good. As far as the title match there are really no expectations, as I fully expect Ronda to crush Dana in minutes if that.
Finn Balor & Mystery Partner vs. IC Champ Bobby Lashley & Lio Rush
Last week, after holding the Intercontinental Championship for a matter of weeks, Finn Balor lost the title back to Bobby Lashley. As we recall, it was Balor who defeated Lashley and Lio Rush in a handicap match at Elimination Chamber to win the title. Balor pinned Rush and not Lashley in that match.
Last week as Balor was going for his signature Coup de Grace, Rush began ringing the bell which distracted Balor. Balor would chase Rush and eventually kick him off the ring apron. As Balor attempted to get back in the ring, Lashley tackled him and scored the pin. Lashley began his second reign this year as Intercontinental Champion.
Tonight, Balor teams up with a mystery partner to face both Lashley and Rush.
Frank’s Analysis: One thing I want to call to attention is something that has been lacking in WWE for quite some time. There was no interview of Lashley after winning the title and Balor after losing the championship. Go look and see how effective Samoa Joe was after winning the U.S. Championship. It’s just something of which I wish WWE would do more often. As far as the match last week and Balor’s reign it’s about as bad as it gets. Balor looked bad not pinning Lashley to win the title and getting distracted and eventually losing. I’m not sure the point of the reign unless it’s to bring out the Demon, which has been rumored for WrestleMania. As far as Balor’s mystery partner I have no strong feeling. For all intents and purposes, they could use someone from 205Live to counteract Rush. You could also move Kevin Owens from Smackdown. They move everybody else at will, right? It’s not like he’s going to do anything worthwhile over there after the dumb idea of inserting him into the WWE Championship picture. Owens can get retribution for Lashley putting him out months ago.
Beth Phoenix Returning to the Ring?
WWE Hall of Famer Beth Phoenix continued to make her presence felt last week.
As Natalya was making her way down the aisle to face Nia Jax, she talked about how she thought Ronda Rousey had her back but apparently, she doesn’t because of … yeah I don’t remember what happened between them either. Anyway, she introduced Phoenix who apparently was going to be in her corner. Shortly after the match started, Phoenix attacked Nia and the referee called for the bell. The ring announcer per usual didn’t announce the decision. Phoenix threw Tamina out of the ring and her and Nia made their way towards the back.
Moments later, Nia and Tamina were brawling with WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions Bayley & Sasha Banks. It looks like Phoenix, also known as “The Glamazon,” is considering a return to the ring.
Frank’s Analysis: I’m still guessing we’re heading towards Nia & Tamina vs. Phoenix & Natalya at WrestleMania. Bayley & Sasha brawling with Nia & Tamina throws a monkey wrench into that thought process. They could have a match enroute to WrestleMania in which Phoenix & Natalya get involved and that sets up a triple threat, as WWE likes to have multi-person/team matches at ‘Mania. My feeling is not strong either way but Nia & Tamina and Phoenix & Natalya will be involved with each other at ‘Mania for sure.
No. Holds. Barred.
Yo, I’ll tell what I want, what I really really want. So tell me what you want, what you really really want.
I won’t apologize for putting the lyrics to Wannabe by the Spice Girls in this report. That song has been in my head ever since the promo between Triple H and Batista last week. You all can suffer with me, unless you like that song which is cool. It’s actually a good song. OK anyway, how many times did Batista yell “give me what I want?” Did they sanitize the mic after Batista spit on it at one point? Nonetheless last week it was confirmed that Triple H will face Batista at WrestleMania in a no holds barred match.
The last time these two faced each other at a WrestleMania was in 2005 when Batista won the World Heavyweight Championship from Triple H following his win of the Royal Rumble. At the risk of being nostalgic and wanting to see a good segment to cleanse our memories of last week, we’ll never forget how Batista made his “decision” at the time to face Triple H. Here’s that segment from Raw back in 2005:
14 years makes quite a difference. Here’s the segment from last week:
Frank’s Analysis: I actually don’t care so much about the “give me what I want” and Batista potentially forgetting his lines. It’s the story that bothers me. Two weeks ago, Triple H said he would give Batista what he wanted if he showed up. Yet he shows up last week and says he won’t give him what he wants. We didn’t even know what that was until FINALLY Batista admitted to wanting one more match at WrestleMania. Overall this should still work, but more needs to be done for the build. Batista’s schedule is likely an issue, but they need to work around that and do something even if it’s him sending in videos. Everyone else on the roster cuts selfie promos.
Other Possible Items for Tonight
Aleister Black and Ricochet defeated Bobby Roode & Chad Gable before being attacked by Raw Tag Team Champions the Revival. Look for WrestleMania plans to be revealed surrounding these teams. It is interesting that Black and Ricochet are also one of the final two teams in the Dusty Rhodes tag team tournament down in NXT.
Alexa Bliss revealed herself as the host of this year’s WrestleMania. Alexa has recently dealt with a concussion and the Raw Women’s Championship picture is tied up with Rousey, Becky, and Charlotte. I’m sure Alexa will continue to talk about her upcoming responsibility. The host of WrestleMania is a spot usually reserved for a returning legend, an injured wrestler, one for which they have nothing creatively, and things of that nature.
Elias serenaded Pittsburgh and said he convinced Antonio Brown to force a trade from the Steelers. My wife and I are going to Smackdown in Brooklyn, N.Y. after WrestleMania and I’m sure he will say he convinced Odell Beckham, Jr. to force a trade from my beloved N.Y. Giants. (Good riddance by the way) Nevertheless, he got into it with No Way Jose. For those of you craving that match, you just may get it. I apologize if I’m right.
Watch the reaction for Roman Reigns. You would think it would still be positive, but you never know with Chicago. There is an article out there in which Roman claims he wants to use more of his real persona in his character as opposed to what he’s been doing. It claims in reality he’s very similar to his cousins, the Usos. We’ll see if this comes to fruition, but if true I firmly believe it could work in his favor. More of Leati Joseph Anoa’i shining through the Roman Reigns character would be better.
Start Time & Matches Advertised on the Arena Website
The Allstate Arena’s website arena advertises a start time of 6:30 p.m. local, but don’t specify when doors are opening. They show two matches, which contradicts what WWE.com is showing:
Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose vs. Drew McIntyre & Baron Corbin
Finn Balor vs. Bobby Lashley. They still show Balor as Intercontinental Champion.
They correctly show Ronda Rousey and Brock Lesnar appearing. The “talent” is subject to change of course.
Follow Frank on Twitter @FrankPeteani or e-mail email@example.com. Questions and discussion are welcome. Thank you for reading!