This weeks episode of WWE Monday Night Raw comes from the Dunkin' Donuts Center located in Providence, Rhode Island.
The show opened with Roman Reigns announcing he’s battling leukemia, has been battling it for 11 years, and will have to relinquish the Universal Championship. You can watch it here.
Roman Reigns, in street clothes, makes his way to the ring. He says he feels he owes the fans an apology. He said he’d defend the title, be here every week, and be a workhorse. But it’s lies. His real name is Joe and he’s been living with Leukemia for 11 years and it’s back. He has to relinquish the Universal title. When he was 22 he was diagnosed, and fought and it went into remission. It was a hard fight, football was over, he had a baby on the way and WWE gave him a chance. And when he made it, he got to perform in front of the WWE Universe and they made his dreams come true. He thanks them for always reacting to him. He gets “thank you Roman” chants. Life isn’t fair, it throws you a curveball, and now he has to go home and focus on his family and health. This isn’t a retirement speech, and when he beats this, he will come home and show everyone that he will stand in there and swing for the fences. “I will beat this and I will be back, and you’ll see me very soon. Thank you so much, I love you, and believe that.” He gets “thank you Roman” chants as he leaves the title in the ring. He hugs Dean & Seth as he leaves and they do the Shield fist bump. It will now be Brock Lesnar vs. Braun Strowman one-on-one for the Universal Championship at Crown Jewel. I won’t claim he’s my favorite wrestler or anything like that, but what an absolutely horrible way to kick off the show. I wish Reigns the very best in his recovery. Horrible news.
Finn Bálor defeated Bobby Lashley. Bálor pinned Lashley with a roll-up. This was an ok opener, low on energy, and Lashley losing was a surprise considering his newfound heel turn and push. They did the best they could to get the crowd back into the show following the Reigns announcement.
Dolph & Drew talk backstage, and they know that they have to watch their backs. Drew made the choice, because he knew Braun would come after him next. Dolph wants to cement his legacy at Crown Jewel. Drew says Braun needed them more than they needed him. Drew has a plan; he’s going monster hunting.
Ruby Riott defeated Sasha Banks. It will be Natalya, Banks and Bayley vs. The Riott Squad at Crown Jewel. Banks lost here to a Riott Kick after being distracted by everyone fighting at ringside.This was a solid back and forth match with some nice energy and helping to set up Sunday’s tag match.
Nia Jax cuts a promo about WWE Evolution and breaking barriers. She plans to win the battle royal on Sunday.
Triple H and Shawn Michaels cut a promo about how they’d beat Kane and Undertaker at Crown Jewel. Well, that was certainly an average segment to hype the match. This did nothing to make me want to see the match.
Paul Heyman put over Roman Reigns in a promo, then declared that Lesnar will defeat Strowman at Crown Jewel. Strowman interrupted and threatened Heyman, but Drew McIntyre attacked and laid Strowman out with a Claymore. Heyman is actually close with Reigns and his family, so this had to be hard for him. I think he did a really good job of weaving the unfortunate reality of the situation into building to the new match without negatively exploiting it.
Dolph praises Drew for laying out Braun. Drew says that he isn’t afraid of Braun. Everyone asks what if, he’s not a child and isn’t afraid of monsters. He gave Braun a stiff kick of reality and will realize he needed them.
Elias defeated Apollo Crews. Crews interrupted Elias’ performance, leading to a match. Elias won with Drift Away. After the match, Elias tried to continue his song but was stopped and then berated by Baron Corbin. Elias attacked Corbin with a guitar to huge applause. This wasn’t good, it was slow, boring, and bland and no one really cared. I guess Apollo’s “latest push” is over.
Kurt Angle cuts a promo on the WWE World Cup to determine the best in the world. It was a good promo as he put over everyone in the tournament while teasing one last run at glory for himself.
Elias is back. Baron Corbin arrives, interrupting him. he doesn’t have time for Elias’ performance. Corbin mocks him and says if Stephanie didn’t like him he’d fire Elias. Corbin tells him to leave, and Elias says he has a new song for him. Elias sings about Corbin being afraid and spreading lies and Stephanie having her hand up Corbin’s ass. Corbin has his mic cut and again tells him to leave. Elias returns and smashes Corbin with the guitar! Walk with babyface Elias!
Ronda Rousey and Nikki Bella signed a contract. Rousey promised she wouldn’t hurt Bella during the conference, and didn’t attack even after Bella slapped her. Rousey promised to “end” Bella at Evolution. This was short and overall good. Nikki got to give Ronda some grief as payback from last week, and it played well as setup for Sunday.
Seth & Dean are interviewed backstage. Dean says there are no words to talk about the Shield’s bond for the last 6-years. When you don’t know what to do or say, you just do what you always do and that’s what they’ll do tonight, and Seth says win. They will channel their emotions and win the tag titles, and do it for Roman, because they love him.
Fatal Four-Way: Ember Moon defeated Dana Brooke, Tamina, and Nia Jax. Moon pinned Tamina after an Eclipse.
Trish & Lita are interviewed backstage, which is for the best after last week’s segment. They are focused on Sunday and plan to win. Alicia Fox arrives for reasons and makes fun of Trish & Lita. Mickie arrives and puts an ass beating on Trish & Lita as Fox falls down. Trish & Lita fight back, PIPES FALL DOWN and they claim, “that’s how we do it in the attitude era.” There are rumors that Alexa suffered a concussion and may be out of Sunday’s match.
Raw Tag Team Championship Match: Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose defeated Drew McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler (c). Ziggler tried to hit Rollins with a title belt but Ambrose stopped him, leaving Rollins open to hit a Curb Stomp and win the match and the championship. After the match, Ambrose turned on Rollins and beat him down. Well shit, there’s a lot to unpack here. The match was very good and had a lot of heat for the possible title change. The ref bump and run in finish is far from my favorite, but it played well to continue the brewing Braun vs. Drew feud which started last week. The title win got over huge, and on tonight, the title change made sense with the Braun & Drew angle continuing and traditionally, when something bad happens or you can’t deliver something promised, companies will make it up with an unexpected title change. So they did that here, and then they pulled the heel turn. On one hand it came at the perfect time following the Roman announcement and title change, surely they wouldn’t run the perfect moment when they just won the titles? But they did and the angle got over big. Of course, now we have to deal with tag titles that will likely be vacated, but that may work well and become an avenue for the AOP (most likely) or Revival to get a run.
End of show.