PWTorch editor Wade Keller presents a special Thursday Flagship edition of the Wade Keller Pro Wrestling Podcast featuring a WrestleMania 36 Preview with ex-WWE Creative Team member and professional stand-up comedian Matt McCarthy.

(Search “wade keller” to subscribe in podcast app or CLICK HERE to subscribe in Apple Podcasts.)

OCTOBER 22, 2018
Arena / Crown Jewel Update / Recap of Last Week

A famous coffee & donut shop claims that America runs on Dunkin. Tonight, WWE Raw runs courtesy of the arena named for said shop in Providence, R.I. known as the Dunkin Donuts Center. Evolution is just under a week away coming to us on Oct. 28 and Crown Jewel looms on Nov. 2.

Crown Jewel, scheduled to take place in Saudi Arabia, continues to be a hot topic of conversation as it relates to a recent event in the Saudi Arabian consulate in Turkey involving journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The location for the event and link to purchase tickets were both removed on WWE.com, returned, and removed again within the past week. Obviously, WWE has grave concerns on a lot of levels as do fans who struggle with deciding whether or not to support this event and WWE as a whole. WWE did not mention Saudi Arabia as the location of Crown Jewel at all on their programming. When the graphic went up during Smackdown and when the Undertaker mentioned the words Crown Jewel in his promo, the crowd reacted negatively.

PWTorch editor Wade Keller has been on top of this situation with daily updates. I’ll repeat what I said in last week’s Raw primer. Watching an event in Saudi Arabia brings a wide array of emotions and thoughts. It did so earlier in the year with the Greatest Royal Rumble. Many have said they will not watch Crown Jewel, and some have gone so far as to say they will cancel their WWE subscription if they continue to stay in business with the Saudis. Follow the news, gather your information, and make an INFORMED decision as to whether or not you want to watch this show.

Last week, the Shield defeated Braun Strowman & the Raw Tag Team Champions Dolph Ziggler & Drew McIntyre in their third televised match this month. Tensions escalated between Strowman, McIntyre, and Ziggler following the match. Throughout the night, issues arose between Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins of the Shield before things ironed themselves out by the end of the night. Bobby Lashley continued his change of attitude while being escorted by his manager Lio Rush. Apollo Crews displayed new aggression against Elias. Raw Women’s Champion Ronda Rousey and the Bella Twins traded verbal barbs. These are the items of emphasis for tonight according to WWE.com.

As of this writing, no matches are advertised ahead of time.

McIntyre Throws Down the Gauntlet

Drew McIntyre was unsuccessful in his attempt to advance to the World Cup at Crown Jewel as he lost his match to Intercontinental Champion Seth Rollins of the Shield via count out. The match featured outside interference by Dolph Ziggler on McIntyre’s behalf countered by Rollins’s Shield “brother” Dean Ambrose, who arrived on “Dean time,” which I’ll talk about more in a little bit here.
Later in the evening following Ambrose’s unsuccessful attempt to advance to the World Cup following his loss to Ziggler, interim G.M. (interim tag still hasn’t been removed) Baron Corbin ordered the Shield (Ambrose, Rollins, and Universal Champion Roman Reigns) to face Ziggler & McIntyre and Braun Strowman.

Tensions ensued on both teams, however in the end the Shield pulled together and came out victorious. Strowman was treated to an accidental Claymore kick by McIntyre which lead in part to the Shield’s win. In a backstage segment prior to the match, Strowman had warned Ziggler and McIntyre he wanted no screwups. Following the match, Braun Strowman powerslammed Ziggler but was treated to McIntyre’s Claymore kick one more this, this one on purpose. Raw ended with McIntyre walking up the stage on his own with Strowman stumbling up to his feet. Here’s a tweet showing the kick:

DOWN GOES @BraunStrowman…THIS time on purpose from @DMcIntyreWWE! #RAW pic.twitter.com/yqIdKLIYBF

— WWE (@WWE) October 16, 2018

Here’s Strowman talking trash to McIntyre:

Took two of your best shots and got up from them!!! After I put the big dog down for good I’m coming for you @DMcIntyreWWE #GetTheseHands #TheMonstersComing pic.twitter.com/QRS3kuqeg7

— Braun Strowman (@BraunStrowman) October 16, 2018

As I said no match has been announced but follow up in some shape or form is expected.

Frank’s Analysis: I’m not 100 percent sure what to think, but it’s not crazy to think the Strowman heel turn was short term, if in fact they’re moving ahead with a feud with him and McIntyre. It seems natural for the fans to want to cheer Strowman in this situation. We’ve seen short term turns before and, in this case, it could work. They could tell the story that Strowman was looking for help in winning the Universal Championship and recruited Ziggler and McIntyre. Strowman realizes he doesn’t need them, turns on them, and out of it we get a Strowman-McIntyre feud which would certainly elevate McIntyre to the next level if in fact WWE has big plans for him. We’ve seen this before with McIntyre’s during his first WWE tenure, and thus I always remain skeptical on a level. I’ll remain cautiously optimistic.

You Know Who I Am

Apollo Crews interrupted Elias as he was ripping on the Philadelphia Eagles and Flyers (which was much to my pleasure me being a Giants and Rangers fan). Apollo, like Shelton Benjamin before him, said he was tired of watching people pass him by. Elias claimed he heard Apollo was talented, but never saw it like the Flyers winning a Stanley Cup (thanks Elias!). Apollo ultimately press slammed Elias after an enzuiguri kick and said “that’s who I am.”

Follow up on this possible budding rivalry is expected tonight.

Frank’s Analysis: Like many others before him and even currently on the roster, Apollo is most certainly underutilized. I would like to be optimistic about this sudden aggression out of nowhere, but we’ve seen this before. We’ve seen the guy “sitting on the sidelines” come out and make a statement, attack someone, and declare he’s done seeing people pass him by. We’ve also seen things fizzle out for that person time and time again. On Smackdown Shelton Benjamin did that recently and granted did beat Daniel Bryan. He lost to A.J. Styles a week later and didn’t even appear on Smackdown 1000 to my memory, even with him being a significant part of Smackdown in its early days. This just seems like throwing spaghetti at the wall with Apollo and seeing if it sticks. For it to work, they need to get behind him and have him win matches. It can’t be for just one week. It has to be week in and week out and then we’ll clearly see he’s on a mission, which ultimately should put him in either the Intercontinental or Universal Champion picture. By the way, has he separated himself from Titus O’Neil? All Apollo done has sit on the sidelines during his time in Titus Worldwide except for a few Tag Team Championship opportunities.

As Goes Dean Ambrose

I talked earlier about the Shield facing Strowman, Ziggler and McIntyre. In the opening promo where Strowman, Ziggler, and McIntyre were discussing the Shield being “shattered,” Roman Reigns & Seth Rollins came out to counter, but Dean Ambrose was not with them. Rollins claimed it was alright he works on “Dean time.” Later on, in a backstage segment, Ambrose arrived and thus all three Shield “brothers” were together. Rollins knew Ambrose would be there because he works on “Lunatic time,” to the dismay of Ambrose which furthered tensions in the Shield.

Ambrose would go on to lose his World Cup qualifying match against Dolph Ziggler. During the match, Drew McIntyre came out to interfere on Ziggler’s behalf to be countered by Rollins. At one point, while Ambrose was on the outside of the ring, Rollins tried to help him up only to get shoved down. The announcers claimed Ambrose didn’t realize it was Rollins helping him. Tensions between Rollins and Ambrose escalated following the match which lead to Corbin’s announcement of the Shield facing Strowman, Ziggler, and McIntyre in the main event.

During the six-man tag another “accident” occurred where Rollins was shoved into Ambrose attempting to pin McIntyre. Rather than blow up, ultimately the Shield pulled together and won the match. They walked off united.

Ambrose is an item of emphasis according to WWE.com and thus we can expect more on this situation.

Frank’s Analysis: The program between these men is great, but we’re getting too much. It detaches me from enjoying it when it happens on any level. We’ve seen different iterations of matches whether it be World Cup qualifiers, Intercontinental or Raw Tag Team Championship matches, or six-man tags. We saw the same six-man tag three times within less than two weeks’ time starting with the Super Showdown. As far as Ambrose is concerned I would imagine at some point he will turn heel, although I’m not 100 percent sold on that theory. We’ve seen someone turn on the Shield in Seth Rollins. I’m not sure I want to see that again or if it would work. What we could be building towards, and I know this sounds crazy, but the Shield triple threat match ultimately at WrestleMania. If they’re planning to do Ronda Rousey vs. Charlotte for that spot, the Shield triple threat for the Universal Championship on the card could work. Granted I’m jumping about 10 steps, but you can’t help but think wonder what this is all truly about. 

By the way folks, isn’t is funny how we’re not talking about Reigns getting booed anymore since the Shield has reunited following SummerSlam?  The sad part is he still got booed when he came out to ease tensions between Rollins and Ambrose.  He continues to do so whenever he comes out alone or takes the microphone.

Lashing Out

Finn Balor, escorted by his Mixed Match Challenge partner Bayley, defeated former WWE Champion Jinder Mahal in a virtual squash match. Following the victory Bobby Lashley came out with Lio Rush. Lashley gave Balor a stare down and Lio, on the mic, claimed nobody looks or smells like Lashley (smells Lio? Really?).

Lashley would then crush his opponent Tyler Breeze. During the match we got more of Lio hyping Lashley on the mic and his “Lashley, Lashley” chants. He continued his olfactory admiration on Twitter:

Look at the big man, MY MAN @fightbobby doing what he does best. Nobody looks like this man! Nobody smells like this man! Looks like money, smells like money! #RAW @wwe #Heavyweight #Dominate pic.twitter.com/gYLzRLrrgt

— Man Of The Hour ⌛️ (@itsLioRush) October 21, 2018

Lashley could be moving into a feud with Finn Balor by virtue of the stare down.

Frank’s Analysis: This is NOT WORKING! PERIOD! IT’S ANNOYING! Lio on the mic throughout the match the first week was one thing. I didn’t need to see it in the match with Tyler Breeze! The big problem from my perspective is this is more about Lio Rush than it is about Bobby Lashley. I get the sense in a way this is to get people to watch 205Live to see Lio rather than get behind Lashley as a heel. I have no problem if WWE wants people to watch 205Live, but don’t do it at the expense of someone who should be a bigger star. Lashley has not discussed his aligning with Lio nor his change in attitude. For a heel turn to be effective, we as an audience need to know why the change and what the wrestler is trying to accomplish. Unfortunately, we’ve gotten none of that as this to me is more about Lio and Lashley’s olfactory accomplishments.

By the way, does anybody know if WWE is mad or down on Jinder Mahal? He has certainly fallen WAY down the totem pole after being WWE Champion on Smackdown just one year ago and holding the title for half of a year. You would have thought moving him to Raw indicated they thought highly of him.

Do Something Bellas?

Raw Women’s Champion Ronda Rousey came out demanding an explanation from the Bella Twins, Nikki and Brie, as to why they betrayed her a few weeks ago. Ronda is set to defend her championship against Nikki Bella at Evolution.

The Bellas came out and had quite the exchange with Ronda. Check out Wade Keller and Zack Heydorn’s Raw reports for full details on the promo. The highlights included Nikki telling Ronda she was a loser than never deserved a title match, but rather she did. Ronda told the Bellas they were “relics of the past looking to be eviscerated like smallpox.” (Say what?) Brie told Ronda the name Bella has done more in one week than Ronda has done in her short WWE career. Ronda told Nikki the only door she ever knocked down was the one into John Cena’s bedroom, and he eventually threw her out.

Ronda also said they were “Do Nothing Bellas,” which was the impetus for WWE advertising this on their website for tonight. We have less than one week to go for the championship match between Ronda and Nikki, and thus we can expect the final build tonight.

Frank’s Analysis: This was Ronda’s best promo; however, I could have done without some of the lines. WWE continues its long-time trend of trying to hard by putting in lines they think will work instead of letting the wrestlers speak naturally and let them use terminology that comes naturally. That said, the Bellas are Divas (say whatever you want) and from an era from which WWE is trying to get away. Making the Bellas heels and positioning Ronda to go over Nikki is a good step in that direction so long as it doesn’t damage the Bellas. The one thing I think is strange is framing the Bellas success as a result of the men they dated or married in Brie’s case. Doesn’t that put John Cena (Nikki) and Daniel Bryan (Brie) in a negative light? These are two of their top babyfaces. John Cena gets booed and is part time these days, so it really doesn’t matter as much in his case. Isn’t it awkward though with Daniel Bryan even though he’s on Smackdown?

Other Items from Raw Last Week

The Authors of Pain defeated a Conquistador. They assumed it was Kurt Angle, who was ordered to face AOP by Baron Corbin. It turned out to be someone else. Wouldn’t AOP’s manager Drake Maverick demand confirmation that the Conquistador was in fact Angle before the match started?

Bobby Roode and Chad Gable praised Kurt Angle for his new, “vacation” look. Gable uttered another “Glorious” in his description. (Please…make it stop)

Ember Moon & Nia Jax defeated Dana Brooke and a returning Tamina. Before and after the match, it was announced that there will be a women’s battle royal at Evolution. These four women will participate, as well as several returning and current wrestlers.

Sasha Banks made her television return, standing in Natalya’s corner as she defeated Ruby Riott via DQ.

Trish Stratus and Lita cut a promo with Alexa Bliss and Mickie James hyping their tag team match coming up at Evolution. The promo was flat as a pancake and included Stratus and Lita referring to Philadelphia 76ers legend Allen Iverson’s famous “practice” interview. I couldn’t help but include the classic rant from 2002:

Compare it to last week’s promo if you so desire:

Start Time & Matches Advertised

The arena’s website is advertising a start time of 7:30 p.m. but do not specify when doors are opening.

Another six-man tag team match is advertised featuring the Shield vs. Raw Tag Champs Dolph Ziggler & Drew McIntyre plus Braun Strowman. DX, Shawn Michaels & Triple H, are shown as appearing as well.

Other wrestlers advertised are Ronda Rousey, Finn Balor, Bobby Lashley, Elias, Kevin Owens, Alexa Bliss, Sasha Banks, Bayley, Bray Wyatt, Matt Hardy, and “many more.” Owens is out following double knee surgery, Hardy has retired for all intents and purposes, and we haven’t seen Wyatt since he tagged with Hardy back in August.

Follow me on Twitter @FrankPeteani and ask any questions you may have. Thank you for reading!