Venue: Pepsi Center (Denver, CO)
The show begins with a montage of The Fiend vs. Seth Rollins at Hell In a Cell sans boos.
Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte Flair
Becky Lynch Entrance: 8:04:12 – 8:05:22 (One Minute, 10 Seconds)
Charlotte Flair Entrance: 8:06:33 – 8:07:44 (One Minute, 11 Seconds)
Becky Lynch Promo: 8:05:32 – 8:06:32 (One Minute)
Charlotte Flair Promo: 8:07:50 – 8:08:39 (49 Seconds)
Opening Bell: 8:12:50
Final Bell: 8:26:24
Match Time: 13 Minutes and 34 Seconds
Result: Lynch wins via a roll up pinfall.
A cheap shot by a deceptive Charlotte leads to a quick pull apart brawl before this evening’s *First Commercial Break: 8:09:30 – 8:12:30 (Three Minutes)
*Second Commercial Break: 8:17:27 – 8:20:58 (Three Minutes and 31 Seconds)
-So much for a potential Charlotte face turn.
-Lazy kickout by Lynch after an early roll up pin attempt by Flair.
-Charlotte dominated early before Becky fired up with a combination of kicks and a dropkick.
-Crowd picked up energy after the near fall following Charlotte’s Natural Selection.
-Well built match. After a title loss last Friday, Charlotte was in need of a dominant showing to reassert herself. Another surprise roll up loss doesn’t hurt her and helps build a potential frustration storyline where she questions herself and has to dig deeper.
-A quick recap of the WWE draft rules and a graphic showing the 40 remaining superstars who are eligible to be drafted tonight, a group headlined by WWE Champion Brock Lesnar, Universal Champion Seth Rollins, SmackDown Women’s Champion Bayley, Charlotte and Daniel Bryan.
Charly Caruso Interviews Seth Rollins: 8:28:43 – 8:31:02 (Two Minutes and 19 Seconds)
-As always, Rollins is able to turn a lukewarm crowd response more positive with a cheap heat city plug. That does not last long, however, as the mention of the Hell In a Cell match with The Fiend gets a strong negative response.
“Tonight, I’m going Fiend hunting. And I promise you before this night’s over, I’m going to find Bray Wyatt, whether it’s in the ring, whether it’s under the ring, whether it’s backstage, I’m going to find him, I’m going to end this, and I’m going to burn it down.” – Rollins
*Third Commercial Break: 8:31:03 – 8:35:17 (Four Minutes and 14 Seconds)
-Jim Cramer’s Prospect Stock Analysis: 8:35:18 – 8:36:04 (46 Seconds)
“My take on Seth Rollins: He’s a blue-chip stock that always produces.”
I guess Jim didn’t see Hell In a Cell.
“How about Andrade. I can tell you that with Zelina Vega behind him, Andrade is a superstar who can yield a great return on investment.”
Agree wholeheartedly with this take.
“Like his in-ring style, Ricochet is high risk, high reward.”
-Cut to a brief shot of both the USA and Fox war rooms before the show returns to the arena where WWE Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon takes the stage to kick off night two of the draft.
Round 1 Picks
1 – Raw selects Seth Rollins
2 – SmackDown selects Brock Lesnar
3 – Raw selects Charlotte Flair
4 – SmackDown Selects The New Day
5 – Raw selects Andrade and Zelina Vega
-Cut to the draft analyst panel which once again features Renee Young, Booker T, Beth Phoenix and a pink cast-clad Samoa Joe, who puts over Brock Lesnar and does a good job selling the Lesnar-Velasquez fight at Crown Jewel. More positivity, praise and smiles from Joe.
Andrade vs. Ali
Andrade Entrance: 8:41:01 – ? (Untelevised)
Ali Entrance: ? (Untelevised)
Opening Bell: ? (Televised Action Begins at 8:46:50)
Final Bell: 8:52:42
Match Time: ? (Six Minutes and Eight Seconds of Televised Action)
Result: Andrade wins via pinfall following a Hammerlock DDT.
*Fourth Commercial Break: 8:42:52 – 8:46:49 (Three Minutes and 57 Seconds)
-Zelina calling the Four Horsewomen the Four Horse Faces indirectly referred to Andrade’s real life girlfriend Charlotte as a horse face. He seemed amused but he might pay for that smirk later with a little trip to the dog house.
-Ali’s painful-looking crash landing to the outside from the second turnbuckle gets an “Oh!” reaction from the crowd.
-The ‘Breaking News: Seth Rollins Vows to Find & Fight “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt’ ticker during the match seemed a little redundant considering we just heard him say that in a backstage interview a mere 15 minutes ago.
“Maybe Bray Wyatt won’t be too hard to find if he can find out where he does the Firehouse Funhouse from.” – Jerry Lawler
-Ali’s flip over Zelina Vega onto Andrade on the outside brought the fans to their feet. But that excitement was quickly quelled by Vega interfering with a Diving Hurricinrana to help Andrade get the victory.
-Overall, this was an OK match that served its purpose of making Andrade look strong and Zelina look like a pesky nuisance for an opponent to deal with.
-Cut to Stephanie McMahon who is ready to announce the second round draft picks.
Round 2 Picks
6 – Raw selects The Kabuki Warriors
7 – SmackDown selects Daniel Bryan
8 – Raw selects Rusev
9 – SmackDown selects Bayley
10 – Raw selects Aleister Black
The Viking Raiders vs. Robert Roode and Dolph Ziggler
Viking Raiders Entrance: 8:55:45 – ? (Untelevised)
Roode and Ziggler Entrance: 9:01:37 – 9:03:01 (One Minute, 24 Seconds)
Opening Bell: 9:03:03
Final Bell: 9:16:10
Match Time: 13 Minutes, Seven Seconds
Result: The Viking Raiders win the Raw Tag Team Championships via an Erik pinfall on Dolph Ziggler following a Viking Experience
*Fifth Commercial Break: 8:56:48 – 9:00:05 (Three Minutes, 17 Seconds)
–Weekend Update Segment: 9:00:06 – 9:01:35 (One Minute, 29 Seconds)
-Colin Jost and Michael Che joked about Jost’s Wrestlemania feud with Braun Strowman, something no WWE fan has thought about since the night of Wrestlemania. That seemed to be used as an excuse for Vic Joseph to plug the contract signing between Strowman and Tyson Fury.
*Sixth Commercial Break: 9:06:30 – 9:09:51 (Three Minutes, 21 Seconds)
-No waiting around for The Viking Raiders this week. Ivar is diving and jumping off the top rope within the first minute of action.
-Jerry Lawler loves bringing up how wrestling Dolph Ziggler led to a heart attack that nearly killed him.
“Let’s Go Vikings” chants from the crowd
-The Raiders complement each other so well as a team: Erik has a more striking and grappling style and Ivar has the energetic big move feel to his move set. Ivar is in the conversation with Otis of Heavy Machinery and Big E of New Day as the best hot tag in WWE right now.
-Standing ovation for the the new champions. Great to see the titles move to a fresh face team with some momentum. A feud with AOP could produce some pretty heavy-hitting matches.
*Seventh Commercial Break: 9:18:25 – 9:21:55 (Three Minutes, 30 Seconds)
-Returning from commercial, the show heads to the NHL on NBC sports desk, where we learn that if Jeremy Roenick and Kathryn Tappen (Keith Jones unfortunately does not get a say in this conversation) could pick any WWE superstar to play in the NHL…
Roenick would pick Seth Rollins because “he has the hockey hair and he has turned Monday Night Raw into Monday Night Rollins.”
Tappen would pick The New Day because “they are a perfect combination.”
Seth Rollins and the members of the New Day are all in fact currently alive and currently on the WWE roster, so when you compare this to the FOX NFL Sunday crew we saw on SmackDown, who only picked retired legends, three of whom are deceased, this was fine.
–Viking Raiders Backstage Promo
“We are the first team whose been undefeated in WWE history to win the IWGP, the Ring of Honor, the NXT and now the Raw Tag Team Championships. WWE Universe, the raid is here.”
Round 3 Picks
11 – Raw selects Cedric Alexander
12 – SmackDown selects Shinsuke Nakamura
13 – Raw selects Humberto Carrillo
14 – SmackDown selects Ali
15 – Raw selects Erick Rowan
Aleister Black vs. Eric Young
Aleister Black Entrance: 9:26:03 – 9:28:05 (Two Minutes, Two Seconds)
No Entrance for Eric Young
Opening Bell: 9:28:07
Final Bell: 9:29:45
Match Time: One Minute, 38 Seconds
Result: Black wins via submission tap out
-Another week, another quick squash by Black. His entrance was longer than the actual match.
-Great looking Moonsault, Running Knee and some impactful kicks from Aleister.
-These quick squashes are fine for the first few weeks he’s on Raw, but Black deserves a well built important feeling feud sooner than later.
*Eighth Commercial Break: 9:31:07 – 9:34:38 (Three Minutes, 31 Seconds)
Round 4 Picks
16 – Raw selects Buddy Murphy
17 – SmackDown selects Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode
18 – Raw selects Jinder Mahal
19 – SmackDown selects Carmella
20 – Raw selects R-Truth
Street Profits Backstage Segment
-A backstage confrontation between The O.C. and The Street Profits turns physical. It looks like AJ Styles and his crew could potentially be the first true main roster feud for Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins. It’s time for The Street Profits to show what they can do in the ring. Having them work with three experienced and talented veterans seems like a wise choice.
Ricochet vs. Shelton Benjamin
Ricochet Entrance: 9:49:48 – ? (Untelevised)
Shelton Benjamin Entrance: ? (Untelevised)
Opening Bell: 9:45:16
Final Bell: 9:50:24
Match Time: Five Minutes, 12 Seconds
Result: Ricochet wins via pinfall following a recoil knee.
*Ninth Commercial Break: 9:41:26 – 9:44:53 (Three Minutes, 27 Seconds)
-They’re all in with that “Superheroes Can Be Real” line.
Dio: “King you’re a comic book guy. What superhero does Ricochet remind you of most?”
King: “Um, Spiderman.”
Vic: “Good pick.”
What an important exchange that was.
-Overall, a normal Ricochet match with his normal spots. Impressive athleticism as always, but the superhero stuff just isn’t my cup of tea.
Tyson Fury Video Package: 9:51:42 – 9:53:00 (One Minute, Eighteen Seconds)
-Same fast-forwardable video that was shown on SmackDown.
-Cut to a quick shot of Lana receiving a massage. Lana tells the masseuse she “likes it harder.”
*Tenth Commercial Break: 9:53:48 – 9:57:20 (Three Minutes, 32 Seconds)
-Returning from commercial to the same Lana massage scene.
Masseuse: “I can go deeper if you wanted.”
Lana: “Yes, I like it deeper.”
Bobby Lashley then appears to take over the massaging duties.
Tyson Fury/Braun Strowman Contract Signing: 9:58:58 – 10:07:00 (Eight Minutes, Two Seconds)
“That pen was completely and utterly demolished by Tyson Fury.”
That about sums this segment up.
*Eleventh Commercial Break: 10:07:02 – 10:10:30 (Three Minutes, 28 Seconds)
-Returning from commercial with a brief exchange between NBC personalities Al Roker and Willie Geist, who ends yet another NBC cross-promotional vehicle by saying “the only thing I know for sure is that the WWE will continue to keep us guessing.”
Round 5 Picks
21 – Raw selects Samjoa Joe
22 – SmackDown selects The Miz
23 – Raw selects Akira Tozawa
24 – SmackDown selects King Corbin
25 – Raw selects Shelton Benjamin
Buddy Murphy vs. Cedric Alexander
Buddy Murphy Entrance: 10:13:21 – 10:14:00 (39 Seconds)
Cedric Alexander Entrance: 10:14:01 -10:14:42 (41 Seconds)
Opening Bell: 2:14:46
Final Bell: 2:23:50
Match Time: Nine Minutes, Four Seconds
Result: Murphy wins via pinfall following a Murphy’s Law
*Twelfth Commercial Break: 10:16:51 – 10:20:21 (Three Minutes, 30 Seconds)
-Rough landing for Alexander on the outside before the commercial.
-Buddy Murphy got an “Oh!” reaction with a flip over the top rope.
-Alexander did his best to wow crowd as well with a Suicide Dive into the barricade.
-Good work by both men here. Though this didn’t come close to matching some of their classic Cruiserweight Championship battles, it was pretty entertaining for a middle of the third hour Raw match. Both of them popped the crowd a few times with some big moves.
Breaking News: Seth Rollins will pull double duty at Crown Jewel, facing both The Fiend Bray Wyatt in a Falls Count Anywhere match for the Universal Championship as well as captaining Team Hogan in a five-on-five match against Ric Flair.
Street Profits Backstage Promo
Ford sounds eager to get redemption tonight, but fortunately Dawkins points out that they need to even the odds first. That means they need a partner. Who will it be?
“We got a get our M. Night Shymalan on. Keep it a mystery.” – Dawkins
*Thirteenth Commercial Break: 10:27:15 – 10:30:58 (Three Minutes, 43 Seconds)
-Just when you thought there weren’t any other NBC Sports shows to cross promote on tonight’s show, Raw returns from commercial break on the set of Premier League Live. This segment gives us a shot of Sheamus chanting Allez, Allez, Allez with Liverpool fans.
Round 6 Picks
26 – Raw selects Rey Mysterio
27 – SmackDown selects Shorty Gable
28 – Raw selects Titus O’Neil
29 – SmackDown selects Elias
30 – Raw selects Liv Morgan
Remember when Elias’ segments were a highlight of Raw every week? I miss those days.
-Back to the draft panel, where Joe praised Buddy Murphy, Beth Phoenix did the same for Baron Corbin, and Booker T told us to stay tuned for a potential big trade by watching WWE backstage on FS1 tomorrow night.
Kabuki Warriors vs. Natalya and Lacey Evans
Kabuki Warriors Entrance: 10:35:15 – 10:36:25 (One Minute, 10 seconds)
Natalya/Lacey Evans Entrance: 10:36:26 – ? (Untelevised)
Opening Bell: ? (Televised Action Begins at 10:41:17)
Final Bell: 2:57:14
Match Time: 15 Minutes, 53 Seconds
Result: Asuka wins via rollup pinfall on Lacey Evans
*Fourteenth Commercial Break: 10:37:46 – 10:41:16 (Three Minutes, 30 Seconds)
*Fifteenth Commercial Break: 10:46:33 – 10:50:30 (Three Minutes, 57 Seconds)
-Asuka’s new green mist face paint looks awesome.
-We were forced to sit through a month’s worth of Natalya/Lacey Evans singles matches for the end result to be them pairing up as a tag team with no explanation or backstory.
-This match had a little bit of heat going for it before the commercial break. Ultimately, though Natalya as the sympathetic babyface who gets beaten on and Lacey Evans as the awaiting hot tag were both just so badly miscast for each of those respective roles. Natalya got crickets, and Lacey got boos and groans. Who thought this dynamic was going to click with a crowd, especially in a main event match?
Firefly Fun House Segment
-Seth Rollins burns the Fun House down, as yet another WWE show goes off the air to a chorus of boos from the live audience. The degree to which they’ve managed to botch this feud, kill both Seth and Bray’s momentum and piss off the fans is almost astonishing, even by WWE standards.
Considering how few performers, especially the bigger names, actually ended up switching brands, the draft felt like largely a waste of time that was mainly used as a way for USA and Fox to cross promote their other sports studio shows and personalities to a wrestling audience. After all, though, this is the build up to the annual Crown Jewel show, so ‘wasting time’ seems to be the WWE’s theme of the month.
There was some good stuff on this show: Charlotte vs. Becky was a physical tone-setting opener. The Viking Raiders winning both the Tag Team Championships as well as the support of the crowd was encouraging to see. Buddy Murphy and Cedric Alexander got to shine a bit in singles competition. Plus, The O.C. vs. Street Profits and a mystery partner feud has some intrigue.
Everything else, most notably an ending main event tag team dynamic and Firefly Fun House segment that were both so unbelievably tone deaf to what the audience actually wanted to see, falls into the negative category.
The final tally for tonight’s in-ring action/commercial break comparison: seven matches, totaling one hour, four minutes and 36 seconds to 15 commercial breaks, totaling 53 minutes and 28 seconds.