The Judgment Day is your opening act tonight in Charlotte, NC, featuring the wonderfully smarmy Dominik Mysterio and the rest of the very cocky team. Rhea Ripley, Finn Balor, and then Damian Priest all sing Dominik’s praises before Mysterio himself takes the mic and, well, sings his own praises. He says that he’s this generation’s Eddie Guerrero, before correcting himself and saying that Eddie was his generation’s Dominik Mysterio.

Tired of listening, The O.C. approach the ring and AJ Styles says, I’m sure hoping for a better laugh than he ended up getting, that Dominik is more like this generation’s James Ellsworth.  Maybe the crowd was confused because Ellsworth is definitely this generation’s Ellsworth.

No matter, Karl Anderson challenges Balor to a fight right now and, eschewing the normal heel tactic of refusing the fight, Balor agrees and the match starts right away.

Finn Balor (w/ Ripley, Mysterio, & Priest) VS Karl Anderson (w/ AJ Styles & Luke Gallows)

Some shoulder blocks are thrown and Balor ends up outside regrouping with his cronies, allowing for a commercial break because, whew, there’s been so much action so far. Coming back, Kevin Patrick and Corey Graves make sure we know how well Anderson and Balor know each other from Japan as Anderson focuses kick after kick on the left calf and thigh of Balor.

A dragon screw in the ropes further weakens Balor’s left leg, but Finn fights back with a neckbreaker, only to be stopped cold again with a spinebuster by Anderson before another break. Upon return, Balor is still taking the worst of this match as Anderson drops him with a running sit-out powerbomb and a second-rope, leaping cutter, but he’s unable to get more than a two-count.

Finally finding a foothold, Balor releases a Sling Blade, and he quickly dropkicks Anderson into position for a Coup de Grace. Anderson leaps up to block him, though, before bringing Balor down with a superplex. As Anderson tries to shake the cobwebs and try a pin, The Judgment Day start interfering, highlighted by a bodyslam by Ripley on Gallows, after which she slips into the ring and drops Anderson with a low blow — allowing Balor to secure the victory.

Winner via pinfall: Finn Balor

Last week’s altercation between The Miz and Dexter Lumis is replayed, though Miz’s terribly staged chair shots are edited out. Back in real time, Gargano and Miz argue backstage about what is actually happening between Lumis and Miz. So, Miz heads to the ring to spill the beans.

After Miz recaps the saga, Gargano comes to the ring and calls it all crap. Gargano says that Miz is still lying, but after Miz insists he’s telling the truth, that seemingly summons R-Truth to come out and do a lengthy “What’s Up” schtick for his hometown. R-Truth says “You want to tell the truth — I’m here,” which is very punny. A few more jokes fly between the three of them before it becomes a match.

R-Truth (w/Johnny Gargano) VS. The Miz

As Truth continues to revel in the crowd’s love, Miz attacks from behind and takes the early advantage. A big boot knocks Truth down, but pretty soon he’s up setting up Five Moves of Doom to a great “Meh” response from the crowd. Miz interrupts the Five Knuckle Shuffle, but as Miz is distracted by a hooded, gloved figure at ringside, Truth rolls him up from behind for a victory.

Winner via pinfall: R-Truth

After the bell, the figure removes his hood and it’s … a laughing Johnny Gargano. Miz is not amused.

Backstage, Cathy Kelley is with Candice LeRae, hearing about LeRae’s excitement about her return to WWE. LeRae thanks people like Asuka, Alexa Bliss, and Bianca Belair for supporting her. Damage Control arrives to kick Kelley out and ask LeRae where those supporters are right now before Bayley, IYO SKY, and Dakota Kai start a beatdown that takes us to break.

Elsewhere, Matt Riddle is still offering Elias his bongo services, but Ezekiel’s older brother is not impressed. Alpha Academy interrupts and it ends up becoming a match between Chad Gable and Elias later tonight.

Austin Theory VS. Mustafa Ali

The match is just about to begin when Seth Rollins’ music hits and the U.S. Champ joins the commentary team. Ali and Theory are wearing such similar gear they look like a tag team. Rollins predicts big things in Theory’s future as Austin brings Ali down with a knee to the gut. Ali responds soon after with a tilt-a-whirl headscissors, all while the crowd sings Rollins’ theme and chants “We want Seth.”

Theory takes control by dropping Ali onto the apron and then hitting a neckbreaker from the apron to the floor, all while Rollins cackles and we take a break. Returning, Ali is down in the ring, but Theory distracts himself by taking a selfie, allowing Ali to knock him to the outside and then leap onto him with a somersault senton. Back in the ring, Ali lands a superkick and tornado DDT for two, but a second tornado DDT attempt is caught by Theory and Ali is forced to escape an A-Town Down moments later.

Ali is poised on the top rope, but Rollins gets up on the apron and distracts the ref — which didn’t really have an impact as Theory kicks Ali down and an A-Town Down secures the pretty clean win.

Winner via pinfall: Austin Theory

Rollins throws Ali around and into the crowd after the match, and they fight all the way to the top of the entrance ramp.

Backstage again, Gargano dismisses an angry Miz and walks into JBL and Baron Corbin. It sounds like Corbin and Gargano are going to have a match, but maybe not? It’s not clear.

There’s a congratulatory message for Dwayne Johnson and his #1 movie Black Adam — did you see our review yet?

Omos (w/ MVP) VS. Local Competitors

Time for our weekly Omos handicap squash match, so let’s get this out of the way first:

Winner via pinfall: Omos

MVP spends more time threatening Braun Strowman ahead of Crown Jewel than Omos does taking care of his four opponents. Neither Patrick nor Graves bother with names tonight, as it’s all “This guy” and “That guy” while they’re tossed and slammed all over the ring. Finally a stacked pin on two of the opponents brings it to an end.

Chad Gable (w/ Otis) VS. Elias

Gable plays a nice deke-out on Elias (no, not a Zeke-out) before grabbing him in an alligator roll, but Elias returns the favour with a fake-out before “Shooshing” Gable. A strong suplex by Elias nets a two-count, but when he follows with a run to the ropes, Otis pulls them down to send Elias to the floor before a break.  We come back to see Gable land a diving headbutt off the top rope, Elias responds with a corner splash, but Gable cinches in an ankle lock to end the sequence.

Gable “shooshes” the quiet crowd, which is just funny, before he moonsaults into a driving knee which was beautiful.  Soon afterwards, though, Elias uses Drift Away for the victory.

Winner via pinfall: Elias

Otis attacks Elias after the bell, bringing Riddle out to his aid as he clears the ring of the Academy.

Backstage in a trainer’s room, Karl Anderson is icing his groin about an hour after his match, which is alarming, when Gallows says he has a solution to their Rhea problem. Styles reminds him that Ripley bodyslammed Gallows tonight, but Luke says that bodyslams are his love language.

As he leaves to solve the problem, we see JBL’s entrance to the ring ahead of what will indeed by a match between Corbin and Gargano. Before we get to that, though, Gallows returns to the training room and has to ice his groin as well. Problem not solved.

Baron Corbin (w/ JBL) VS. Johnny Gargano

JBL joins the commentary team and suggests that the entire world is buzzing over Baron Corbin. I must be hanging out with the wrong people because I haven’t heard any of that.

In the ring, Corbin delivers a jab punch to Gargano on the apron that sends him to the floor, then follows him to throw him first into the corner post and then back into the ring. An elbow by Gargano is answered with a forearm by Corbin, but a dropkick by Gargano sends Corbin to the floor again. Johnny tries a crossbody but he’s caught and slammed into the announcer’s table leading into commercials.

Continuing the match, Corbin throws Gargano halfway across the ring before he’s distracted, and seemingly offended, by a “You can’t wrestle” chant. That allows Gargano to get back in with a bulldog and a slingshot spear. A Deep Six, called “Ring Around the Rosey” by Patrick which upsets Graves something fierce, gets a two-count for Gargano.

Things get messy on the floor again as Corbin clears the announcer’s table, but after Johnny dodges a dive by Corbin which sends him into the steps, he stands up on the table and grabs JBL’s hat. He puts it on and dives off the table for a tornado DDT. As Gargano readies to re-enter the ring still wearing the hat, JBL sweeps the leg without the ref seeing. Corbin drags Gargano into the ring for an End of Days (not called “Here we go Round the Mulberry Bush” by Patrick) and the end of the match.

Winner via pinfall: Baron Corbin

Backstage, Bianca Belair lets Cathy Kelley know that her business with Damage Control has gone beyond championships, and she vows to take everything away from Bayley in their match tonight.

Elsewhere, Miz and Gargano have one more chat for the night as Miz offers an olive branch, but Gargano says that if Miz won’t tell the truth, then Johnny will do it himself next week.

We are treated to a lengthy recap of the history between Bobby Lashley and Brock Lesnar ahead of their match at Crown Jewel.

Bianca Belair (C) VS. Bayley (w/ IYO SKY & Dakota Kai) – Non-Title Match

Belair is feeling confident until she tries to flip Bayley over her head, which Bayley turns into a stacking pin attempt, and then Belair is backflipping away from Bayley before taking a forearm and finding herself in a crossface. Changing tactics and going for something less fancy, Belair uses a backbreaker to gain some momentum going into a break.

After we return, we’re shown that Bayley beat on Belair during the commercials, including a snap suplex on the outside floor, and Bayley is now in charge in the ring. She snaps Belair’s left arm across the ropes, but can’t follow up with standing elbow drops as Belair rolls away from each attempt.

Bayley tries to use Bayley’s braid to drag her into an attack, but that usually ends badly for those who try. Belair turns a Bayley-to-Belly into a cradle pin for two, and moments later lands a moonsault for her own two-count. After another break, Bayley attempts a KOD, but Belair escapes and returns with a Bayley-to-Belly — but only for two.

The fight goes to the floor where Bayley again has a handful of hair, only for Belair to use that to send Bayley into the stairs. The end nears after a spinebuster by Belair urges SKY to interfere and allows for Bayley to bring Belair down with an avalanche Bayley-to-Belly. SKY & Kai clear the announcer’s table again, but it’s Bayley who’s powerbombed onto the announcer’s table (not through the table as Patrick called out, as I suppose that’s what he was expecting).

Kai and SKY dust up Belair a bit before the referee is ready to expel them from the ringside area, but before they leave someone leaps off the top rope and knocks down SKY, Kai, and the referee. Belair hits a KOD on Bayley but there’s no ref, and that someone enters the ring again — and it’s Nikki Cross. She hits a swinging neckbreaker on Belair and a new referee rushes to the ring as Bayley makes the cover for the win.

Winner via pinfall: Bayley

The ref makes a motion that looked like she was asking for the belt to be handed to her, which had me momentarily questioning if this was an actual title match, but there’s no announcement of a new champ so Belair loses but retains. Cross attacks Bayley as well, and Graves ends the show by suggesting that Nikki will be a problem for everyone. Let’s hope so!


Monday Night Raw, October 24th, 2022

Shows leading up to Crown Jewel events are always weird, because Crown Jewel events are always weird. It feels like treading water until that event has passed, and then things will presumably ramp up going into Survivor Series. Good matches tonight, but nothing felt too urgent. The most exciting thing is that WWE is in acquisition/transformation mode right now, and the roster is improving every week.