A wild Matt Hardy appears! Rey Mysterio wins the United States Championship! And Seth Rollins has finally turned heel! Now that’s how you do a post-pay-per-view episode of TV.
But Vince McMahon is reportedly majorly disappointed with Survivor Series.
Click the timestamps below to jump to any of those stories right now.
I’m Oli Davis, and welcome to the 25th November 2019 Raw… in about 4 minutes!
It’s time for our twice-a-year episode where WWE tells us that Raw sucks and they’re going to do better! Only this time, it was a kayfabe reason with Raw only winning one match at Survivor Series, rather than them actually putting on terrible programming.
And ingeniously, they used that pay-per-view loss and the rumoured Seth Rollins rah rah speech following the Saudi Arabia travel incident to fuel his much-needed heel turn.
Dave Meltzer on WWE creative team confirmed.
It was a fascinating turn for Rollins, not one that shockingly came out of nowhere like before – WHY DID YOU TURN ON THEM SETH?! – but a character shift that’s actually been building for months… mostly on Twitter. There wasn’t much difference in this promo from ones from previous weeks, calling out CM Punk and being blindly loyal to WWE and Raw. But he had one important difference – rather than carrying the responsibility on his back, he started blaming Raw’s loss on everyone else.
He roasted the rest of the roster he’d made stand around the ring, calling Randy Orton and Charlotte weak links, that Rey Mysterio let them all down, and pointing out AOP didn’t even show up… advice they must’ve immediately took on board for later. The Raw wrestlers left one-by-one, just leaving Kevin Owens in the ring. Seth called him Mr NXT and a lazy piece of crap, so KO stunnered him – Caruso alert – prompting Seth to tell Charly they’re wrestling in the main event. This was a terrific opening segment that completely changed the character landscape of Raw, just like post-Big 5 pay-per-view shows are perfectly positioned to do. It was a rejig so effective…
…even the cucking awful Rusev, Lana and Bobby Lashley storyline was really good. After getting served by a 90 parsec restraining order earlier in the day, Rusev attacked Lashley during his match with Titus O’Neil, got put in handcuffs by police, but still awesomely managed to shoulder tackle Bobby off the stage and kick a giant metal girder onto him. And nothing says Paul Heyman’s resetting Raw than Lashley getting attacked by a bit of the set.
Continuing the post-pay-per-view reset, AOP were added as in-ring players, squashing Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder.
Andrade is still being built up, where he squashed Akira Tozawa.
And then oddly, with no build, no announcement in advance, but with reports his contract is up in April, and his new YouTube series that heavily teases he’ll leave for AEW, Matt Hardy made his return to WWE dressed for the late 90s. It was really just another squash match, giving Buddy Murphy a big name win to build his match against Aleister Black – who freed himself from being trapped in the closet for a brief strike exchange.
Then came an excellently booked multi-segment arc. Like his entrance music says, AJ Styles don’t want none… of Humberto Carillo challenging for his United States title, so The OC beat him up on his way to the ring. One pro wrestling thing led to another, and it was replaced with a Fatal Fourway between Drew McIntyre, Randy Orton, Ricochet and Rey Mysterio, with the winner fighting AJ for the title right after.
Randy continued to work as a tweener, heelishing helping McIntyre to cut down the high flying Ricochet and Mysterio. But it was all a rouse to RKO Drew from outta nowhere during McIntyre’s Claymore, which Orton was stopped from capitalising on by the OC. Instead Mysterio rolled up Ricochet to advance.
Meaning we then got AJ Styles vs Rey Mysterio in a title match. Yes please, take my money.
WWE went into underdog booking overdrive for Mysterio, with him selling his left knee, and The OC interfering whenever they could. But Gallows and Anderson went to the well once too often, so the referee ejected them to the back.
Sensing a potential title change, the crowd came alive, but a 619 sent AJ colliding with the referee. The OC came down to attack Rey, but then Orton – himself cheated out of a victory by them earlier – ran in for the save. Cue a 619 into an RKO into a Frog Splash, and Rey won the US title, emotionally celebrating with Eddie Guerrero’s son afterwards.
This was a homerun of a journey, and, most excitingly, sets up a lot of directions WWE’s can go in. Styles seems set for a blood feud against Orton, while Rey as US champion will hopefully mean plenty of workrate TV matches in the coming weeks against Andrade, Ricochet, Carillo and more.
Caruso alert! Because Asuka green misted Charlotte at Survivor Series, the two had a very brawly, scrappy-style match tonight, a refreshing change for two wrestlers who are usually so slick. I enjoyed this a lot, particularly Asuka countering Natural Selection into an arm bar, and – most importantly – Asuka then beating Charlotte. 5 out of 5 show. I don’t care if it needed both Kairi Sane interference and the green mist. 5 out of 5 show.
Erick Rowan squashed another jobber with his weird pet cage thing at ringside.
And to close the show, Rollins and KO put on a decent main event, but it was all about the intrigue set up by the finish. With Owens seemingly having Rollins beat off a Stunner, AOP – the very same tag team Seth called out in the opening segment – came down to the ring and teased beating up both men, before only attacking Owens for the DQ. Seth challenged them but they backed off, which didn’t stop him from then delivering two Stomps to a laid out KO – potentially setting up a new faction for Rollins, this time with J&J Security on steroids.
That was this week’s Raw in about 4 minutes but probably 5. Click the i above my head to let me know what you thought of the show, where you can choose from Rawsome, Cor, AvRAWge, Poor, and Rawful. And let me know what you think of Seth’s potential new heel faction, because I’ll be replying to comments for the first 30 minutes after this video goes live!
This was an excellent episode, not just with plenty of newsworthy angles and great character work, but also softly resetting the brand for its next pay-per-view cycle. This week’s Raw is a very high Cor.
Unfortunately it seems Vince McMahon wasn’t as pleased with the previous night’s Survivor Series…
Thanks Oli, great stuff.
Onto the news and this weekend WWE was host to some really rather excellent wrestling, between the brutal drama of Takeover Wargames and the infinite possibility machine of Survivor Series smashing together all your favourite stars WWE nailed it.
Especially NXT, who not only turned out an amazing PPV of their own, but stole the show, quite literally at Survivor Series.
One man happy to bask in the reflected glory, for he is management, is NXT’s cerebral executive Triple H.
Who retweeted a picture of Baszler standing victorious at the end of the Survivor Series Main Event.
He said: “Shayna Baszler: The Queen of Spades, the #WWENXT Women’s Champion and the Standard Bearers of the NXT Women’s Division. The exclamation point of this #SurvivorSeries in her victory over two of the VERY best in the business.”
High praise indeed for a truly deserving star, but obviously this exclamation point wasn’t the actual end of the sentence because WWE would add a question mark by having Becky Lynch put her through a table and stand tall at the end of the show – even though Team Raw, her team, had been a complete washout at the event and were in line for a nah nah speech from newly minted heel Seth Rollins.
And though it pains me to say it because I desperately wanted the match to be good, this isn’t the only question mark hanging over the main event, which felt slow and sloppy and was an anticlimax after the highs of earlier in the night.
And reportedly it didn’t do much to wow Vince McMahon either as WrestleVotes on Twitter said:
“Heard even Vince himself didn’t like the main event last night. Major disappointment.”
Not really a damning indictment, because it’s basically public knowledge at this point that Vince can be very hard to please. Unless of course someone is dressed as a literal big dog. How can you not like that?
But as Baszler’s first big match on mainline WWE programming, you have to wonder whether this flat finish to Survivor Series will tarnish his opinion of her going forward and maybe make the company a little hesitant to pull the trigger on any 4 on 4, horsewomen vs lady centaur action.
This wasn’t the only disappointment from the weekend either, as there was some drama on the commentary desk heading into Survivor Series.
During Takeover Wargames on Saturday Night SmackDown commentator Corey Graves tweeted to say: “Just for the record guys, I know you wouldn’t know it, but there’s actually a WWE Hall of Famer AND a former Ring of Honor Champion on commentary. I’d imagine they have a lot to offer.”
Suggesting that NXT commentator Mauro Ranallo was talking too much and not giving Nigel McGuinness or Beth Phoenix air time. Which drew plenty of heat from fans saying the tweet was uncalled for, unprofessional and they should rename his podcast After the Bellend… ok I just threw that one in there.
Graves then sealed the deal by replying to a fan asking how many Chicago rap references Ranallo had made with “far, far too many”.
Ranallo, who openly suffers from bipolar disorder and is a renowned mental health advocate, later deleted his Twitter account and then was notably absent from the commentary during Survivor Series – with Michael Cole replacing him for the NXT Championship match between Adam Cole and Pete Dunne.
Which Cole said was due to Mauro being too passionate during Wargames and “blowing his voice out”.
Despite this reasoning, Bryan Alvarez tweeted that Ranallo was out due to the tweets from Graves. Which if true has shadows of what happened between Ranallo and JBL on Smackdown and was the driving factor in Mauro’s return to NXT commentary.
On Wrestling Observer Radio Dave Meltzer reported that Ranallo had not quit WWE, everything is fine between him and the company and he would be back on NXT this Wednesday.
Which seemingly prompted Graves to tweet:
“@davemeltzerWON, you uninformed, false narrative pushing liar.
My phone works. You’re a “journalist,” right? You can find my number.”
I know I’m not the most literate, but that doesn’t read like a public apology to Mauro.
And was the sort of shot fired that prompted a return volley from Mr Meltzer, who said:
“Now that we’re on day three of this, you could at least apologize to Mauro, show a slight bit of remorse, take down the tweet, all of the above. When you mess someone up on your own team, don’t think only about yourself first, second and last.”
Which was finally the message that broke through to the heart of Corey Graves, turned him onto a new path, one of humility and light:
“My phone isn’t ringing, Dave. More content to continue your rumor-mongering I see.”
Thankfully someone in WWE has was being sensible and wanted to resolve this without more Twitter bloodshed. Thank god for Rusev, who tweeted:
“I’ll help…. (281) 330-8004” I don’t know about you, but that number sounds really familiar, especially if you’re a hoe from back then.
To end this off on a more serious note though, I’m hoping Mauro returns for NXT on Wednesday feeling healthy and well because mamma mia the guy rules and the show wouldn’t be the same without him.
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