Perhaps the low ratings from the past few weeks made an impression on the booking decisions for Monday Night Raw in Chicago at the Allstate Arena.
The first hour of the show was one of the best opening 60 minutes we’ve seen on Raw in a long time. The show opened with Triple H and Shawn Michaels in the ring discussing the beatdown they took at the hands of the Undertaker and Kane at the Super Show-Down in Melbourne, Australia on Saturday.
You could tell by Triple H’s attire something different was going to be announced. He was sporting his leather jacket, which usually means he’ll be involved in physical activity–or at the very least showing an aggressive side.
At the conclusion of a stellar promo–mostly because of Triple H–the latest rebirth of Degeneration X was confirmed. Yes, that means Michaels will be returning to the ring. He and Triple H will take on The Brothers of Destruction at the Crown Jewel show in Saudi Arabia on November 2.
The announcement received a sizable pop and the social media reaction was voluminous:
DEGENERATION X !!!!!!! pic.twitter.com/KxVWvuv2LH
— Life is Good (@TheGoodLife_32) October 9, 2018
— Brandon Nagel (@nagel_brandon) October 9, 2018
— Ellis Mbeh (@EllisMbeh) October 9, 2018
— The #BROKEN RZI Guy (@TheRZIGuy) October 9, 2018
Considering the average age of the participants in this match is 51.5, I wouldn’t expect a fast pace. It’s another match that appeals to the nostalgic WWE fan more than the one that values athleticism and dynamic in-ring work. Michaels’ return is the biggest treat and draw. He’s one of the most iconic Superstars in wrestling history and he hasn’t performed in an official match in a little over eight years.
The spots and flow of the match will be interesting as the WWE will likely want to put on a solid, but safe scrap. It’s safe to say the WWE Universe is interested. The highlight reel generated 170,000 views in 2 hours.
Here are five other major events from Monday’s episode of Raw.
Bobby Lashley And Kevin Owens’ Apparent Double Turn
Desperately in need of a change, Bobby Lashley turned heel in a major way on Monday with the assistance of Lio Rush. The latter had a microphone throughout the match against Kevin Owens and served as a distraction and purposeful annoyance to the crowd.
While Rush needs to vary up his ringside taunting and cheerleading, ala Xavier Woods and The Miz, his presence and Lashley’s newfound mean streak made the match more interesting than it probably would have been otherwise.
In the process of Lashley transforming into a hated beast, Owens played the role of a battered face. We’ll see if we get confirmation of the switch on next week’s episode, but it certainly looked as if Owens–a seemingly natural heel–had shifted personas as well.
The match highlights drew 28,000 views on YouTube in the first hour.
Alexa Bliss vs. Trish Stratus is Now a Tag-Team Match at Evolution
Initially, Alexa Bliss was supposed to face WWE Hall of Famer Trish Stratus in a singles match at WWE Evolution, the promotion’s first-ever all-female pay-per-view show. On Monday we learned it would be a tag-team match with Bliss and Mickie James battling Stratus and Lita.
It seems Bliss’ injury may not be healed up in time for a full singles tilt, so perhaps the promotion is bringing in help to keep the dynamic Superstar from overtaxing herself. Perhaps the WWE just saw this as another opportunity to add more star power. In either case, it’s pretty inconsequential. This entire program appears to be a bit of timekiller as the WWE waits for Bliss to be ready to return to a more active role.
Lita always generates a major pop, and she was in great shape during the brief in-ring fracas on Monday night. Fans will watch this match, but don’t expect it to move the needle for any major storylines. Surprisingly, the WWE’s YouTube channel didn’t even post a highlight of this segment during the show, or as late as a half hour after Raw concluded.
John Cena Announced And Kurt Angle Sneaks Into The WWE World Cup
After performing in Melbourne, Cena isn’t done making cameo appearances at WWE events outside of the United States. He was announced as a participant in the upcoming WWE World Cup event. Say what you want about Cena, but the simple highlights of the announcement drew 39,000 views on YouTube within an hour.
Angle had to find other methods to gain entry. Acting Raw general manager Baron Corbin set up a 10-man battle royal with a group of local, joke competitors in hopes of gaining a spot in his own event. Yeah, it’s kind of weird. One of those competitors turned out to be Angle dressed up as a Conquistador. He eliminated Corbin and thereby solidified his spot in the event.
Remember what I said about nostalgia? This is yet another example and fans again seemed to enjoy the trip down memory lane. The YouTube highlights drew 45,000 views within the first hour.
The Bellas Turn On Ronda Rousey
You had to feel this coming. After winning a six-woman tag match against the Riot Squad, Nikki and Brie Bella turned on their teammate Rousey in a vicious attack that lasted several minutes.
I still believe the WWE is booking Rousey as a little too invincible, as she nearly powered her way out of this double-team scenario on multiple occasions, but it was good to see her a little less than a superhero. The balance is important. Otherwise, the WWE universe will turn on her. Yes, even Rousey.
This set up a Raw Women’s title match between Rousey and Nikki at Evolution. If the WWE is smart, they will book Nikki to win. We’ll see. Considering this was a Rousey action highlight, It was surprised to see it producing less than 50,000 views within the same hour.
Dean Ambrose Abandons Seth Rollins And Roman Reigns To Close The Show
To close the show, the ongoing faction battle between The Shield and Team Strowman seemed to come to a head. It appeared as though Strowman, Drew McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler were bound for a breakup, but in a double swerve of sorts, it was Ambrose who walked out on his Shield brothers after the trio lost a really entertaining main event match.
— Scott Fishman (@smFISHMAN) October 9, 2018
The highlight reel for that match hadn’t been posted at the time of publication, but it was packed with some of the most memorable moments from the show. It left fans wondering what to expect next week when this situation almost certainly takes center stage to open the October 15 episode of Raw.