The focus of this episode of WWE Monday Night Raw was about the return of former WWE and WCW superstar Bill Goldberg, who was back on WWE programming for the first time since he left in 2004. It was hard to know how the crowd might react to him after being away for 12 years, but what he got was a warm reception from the WWE Universe that he may never forget.
I give WWE a lot of credit for the way they handled this Goldberg return. Throughout the whole show, they showed clips of Goldberg’s biggest moments in his WCW and WWE career while promoting his appearance later in the evening.
Paul Heyman was interviewed during Raw since he was the one that challenged Goldberg on behalf of Lesnar last week. Heyman said it was just a rhetorical thing he did last week, even though it was more of a literal challenge. It was very smart of Heyman to rip on Goldberg, saying Lesnar didn’t care about losing to Goldberg at WrestleMania 20 in 2004. Yet Heyman also led the crowd in chanting “Goldberg” right on cue. It sounds like WWE is going to position Lesnar as more of a heel against Goldberg, even though Lesnar has been a face for over a year now.
Goldberg’s return to WWE was saved for the main event segment. It was cool watching him walk backstage as various WWE superstars were there to react to his presence. I thought Big E had the funniest reaction, marking out like a little kid at the sight of Goldberg walking by him.
The crowd response for Goldberg was awesome. They chanted his name throughout the main event segment as he walked through the pyro like he did so many times in WCW from 1997 to 2000 and in WWE in 2003-04. He was wearing a jacket and jeans instead of showing off his physique, which is still impressive even at the age of 49.
Goldberg was emotional when he got in the ring. You could tell he missed being in front of wrestling fans and he said so as well. He talked about how he loved performing for the fans as well as being a role model for kids. He also mentioned that his wife and 10-year-old son (who were both in the front row) had never seen him wrestle before. In other interviews, he’s talked about how that was a big motivation for him wrestling again because he wanted them to see him have at least one match.
Keeping it short and sweet, Goldberg brought the intensity as he talked about Lesnar. He said that maybe he has one more Spear and Jackhammer left in him. Then he stared straight ahead to deliver this line: “Brock Lesnar, not only does that mean you’re next, but most importantly it means… Brock Lesnar… you’re last.”
I thought the promo was well done. I’m not a huge Goldberg fan by any means because I think he was a product of a huge push, rather than a guy that was a special talent. With that said, I did enjoy his rise to the top in WCW in 1998 because that company really needed some fresh blood at that point in time. He also was a draw for WCW as they were competing against WWE with Steve Austin, The Rock and a loaded roster. He was never known for his promos, yet delivered a great one on this night. The intensity is still there and the crowd loves him.
All of it is going to lead to Goldberg wrestling Brock Lesnar at Survivor Series in Toronto on Nov. 20 which isn’t official yet. It’s something that was leaked online a few weeks ago. Since Goldberg is a playable character in the new WWE 2K17 video game (for people that used the pre-order code), WWE wanted to do the match at Survivor Series since they can promote the game heavily as well. Plus, there are reports of other plans for Lesnar at WrestleMania next year that don’t involve Goldberg.
Lesnar is scheduled to be on Raw next week in Minneapolis along with Paul Heyman, where they will likely make the Survivor Series match official. Goldberg is booked for a few episodes of Raw leading up to Survivor Series and at this point, the Nov. 14 edition of Raw is the only time Lesnar and Goldberg will be on the show at the same time. Can I predict a contract signing segment that night? It seems likely.
Goldberg was always one of those guys that I thought would never be in WWE again. But as he said, in the wrestling business you should never say never. I think the desire to perform in front of his wife and son was the main reason why he wants to do one more match. The money is probably pretty good too!
As for the Survivor Series match, I think Lesnar should win and will win. Goldberg is likely going to have just the one match, so there’s no reason for him to win. There’s no shame in losing to Lesnar either. The match already has a big feel to it because of the two names involved. I think WWE will build it up very well. I just hope it’s a good match even with Goldberg having a lot of ring rust after 12 years away.
This Week’s Raw Matches
This week’s Raw featured a rematch of last week’s main event, plus another week full of short matches that were largely disappointing if you watch this show for the matches.
Seth Rollins defeated Chris Jericho
This was set up by the show opening promo, which usually sets up a match right away or for later in the night. Rollins called Jericho “Sparkle Crotch” during the promo, which led to “Sparkle Crotch” chants. It was a rematch from last week’s main event.
Rollins got the clean win with the Pedigree in a competitive back-and-forth match that went about 15 minutes. Jericho came close to winning a few times like when Kevin Owens showed up to pull the rope back to prevent Rollins from grabbing it. Rollins avoided the Codebreaker and beat Jericho again. It’s the third week in a row where Rollins hit a Pedigree on Jericho.
R-Truth, Goldust & Mark Henry defeated Titus O’Neil, Primo & Epico
Way to put over the talent! Or not. The winning team featured three guys that are in their 40s. The stipulation for this match was that if the faces lost, they would have had to buy watches sold by Primo & Epico. I feel bad for the wrestlers that are a part of these awful storylines. Hey WWE Creative, you can do better. Please! At least it was a short match at three minutes.
Big E defeated Sheamus
There was a fun promo from New Day before the match referencing 420 days as Tag Team Champions in Denver, which is in the state of Colorado that has legalized marijuana.
The match was similar to last week when Kofi beat Cesaro, thanks to Cesaro being distracted by Sheamus. This week, Cesaro did the accidental distraction of Sheamus leading to Big E doing the dreaded rollup win (I hate that finish). I did like some of the power moves that both guys did, but the story was about the problems between the forced tag team of Sheamus and Cesaro.
Bo Dallas defeated Neville
Easy win for Dallas, which is a shame because Neville is a good performer who needs to be used better. Post-match, Dallas beat up his “friend” Curtis Axel because Bo is the only one that is allowed to “Bolieve in Bo.” Sorry, Curtis.
Dana Brooke defeated Bayley
Worst match of the night because of how sloppy Brooke was. I try to be nice to her when I write about her matches because her experience level isn’t the same as some of the other girls, but this was really bad. They did this awful finish where Brooke tripped her up by the ropes, covered her and Brooke failed to get her foot on the rope for the leverage pin. It made Bayley look so bad losing to a finish that was done that poorly. I assume this was done to have Bayley beat Brooke at Hell in a Cell.
Braun Strowman defeated Mile High Trio
There were no names for the three men that Strowman beat. They were just called the “Mile High Trio.” He pinned one of them after he slammed another guy onto him. It only went two minutes.
Post-match, Strowman complained about wanting competition. Sami Zayn got in his face. Strowman shoved him out of the ring. Later, Zayn said he stepped up because nobody else will. It’s nice to see Zayn finally has a storyline, but I’d rather they use somebody like Big Show, Mark Henry or Darren Young to put over Strowman instead of Zayn, who needs to be used better. Can they move Zayn to Smackdown soon? They book talent better on that show.
Big Cass defeated Karl Anderson
Short match as Cass won in only two minutes. It felt rushed or maybe they just did it to put over how impressive Cass can be. It’s probably leading to a Enzo/Cass vs. Gallows/Anderson tag match at Hell in a Cell.
Brian Kendrick, Drew Gulak & Tony Nese defeated TJ Perkins, Cedric Alexander & Rich Swann
They got about eight minutes with a commercial in the middle of the match, which I hate because the match wasn’t that long. Is a commercial necessary? I don’t think so. Kendrick did a blind tag after Nese hit a 450 Splash on Swann and he put Swann in the Captain’s Hook submission. Perkins was unable to make the save, so Swann tapped out. The finish was done to give Kendrick momentum going into Hell in a Cell where he gets a Cruiserweight Title match against Perkins one more time.
That was it for matches as the Goldberg segment was the main event of the show.
Other Key Items From Raw
1. Sasha Banks And Charlotte Interviews Set Up Hell In A Cell
The Raw Women’s Champion Sasha Banks and challenger Charlotte did separate sit-down interview segments with WWE Hall of Famer Lita. Both women said the same things they always say, with Charlotte talking about how she’s genetically superior and the best women’s wrestler in WWE today. Banks talked about living her dreams and how she’s going keep the Women’s Title in her hometown of Boston at Hell in a Cell in the first ever Hell in a Cell match.
Speaking of their Hell in a Cell match, Raw GM Mick Foley announced on Facebook that Banks vs. Charlotte will be the main event of the Hell in a Cell pay-per-view. It’s the first time a women’s match will main event a WWE main roster pay-per-view.
It is history in the making, which WWE will continue to remind us over and over because they love to repeat the same things.
2. Another Long Promo From Rusev and Roman Reigns
This week’s boring segment from Rusev and Roman Reigns involved a promo. It started with Rusev in the ring with his lovely wife Lana talking about Rusev’s great family full of winners. It included pictures of his family members. The crowd booed because it was so boring, even though it was just a guy talking about his family. Roman Reigns interrupted to rip on them and try to get the crowd behind him, even though some fans still don’t like Reigns.
The physicality started when Lana slapped Reigns, which stunned him enough for Rusev to nail a roundhouse kick to the head that rocked Reigns. It led to Rusev beating up Reigns around the ring and then inside the ring. Rusev applied the Accolade submission on Reigns on the ring steps to end the segment.
It was a way to build to their Hell in a Cell match for the US Title at Hell in a Cell. I’m tired of this feud by now and hope it’s really over on Oct. 30. I think Reigns will win that match.
3. Raw Accepts Smackdown’s Survivor Series Challenge
On last week’s Smackdown, Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan challenged Raw to three Survivor Series elimination matches. The matches are a men’s 5-on-5 elimination match, a women’s 5-on-5 elimination match and a tag team 5 teams vs. 5 teams elimination match. While Stephanie didn’t blatantly accept the challenge, it appeared that she did so during a brief segment backstage with Seth Rollins and Kevin Owens.
Later in the show, Stephanie and Mick Foley celebrated their acceptance of the challenge while the announcers said the matches are on.
Since there’s still a month until Survivor Series, we don’t know the names of any of the performers in those matches, but I do like the concept. I just hope WWE can announce stipulations in terms of a reward for the winners. Give them title shots or something. It needs to be more than competing to see what the superior show is or something lame like that.
Looking Ahead To Hell in a Cell
Here are the matches advertised for Raw’s Hell in a Cell show on Oct. 30 in Boston.
WWE Universal Championship: Kevin Owens vs. Seth Rollins in a Hell in a Cell match
United States Championship: Roman Reigns vs. Rusev in a Hell in a Cell match
Raw Women’s Championship: Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte in a Hell in a Cell match
Raw Tag Team Championships: The New Day vs. Cesaro & Sheamus
Cruiserweight Championship: T.J. Perkins vs. Brian Kendrick
Some of the other matches that are likely to take place are Bayley vs. Dana Brooke, Enzo/Cass vs. Gallows/Anderson and Braun Strowman vs. Sami Zayn.
Maybe The Shining Stars can try to sell some watches too. That’s so entertaining! (I’m being sarcastic, I swear.)
It was an average episode of Raw again this week. Maybe calling it average is too nice because the matches were not the focus. If you missed the show, the only thing I recommend was the Goldberg return and promo because it was well done even if you aren’t a huge fan of him.
There are two matches announced for next week’s Raw: Kevin Owens vs. Seth Rollins vs. Chris Jericho in a non-title match and New Day vs. Sheamus & Cesaro also in a non-title match. Also, Brock Lesnar is back next week as well.