Continuing with news from what has to one of the more interesting weeks WWE’s given us in a while, several reports indicate the creative process for Raw was even more chaotic than normal on Feb. 18.
On Wrestling Observer Radio, Dave Meltzer said:
“The actual script wasn’t done until thirty minutes into the show, this sounds like [WCW Monday] Nitro, and they were still changing the show into the second hour, they were making changes.”
The decision to try and freshen up the main roster shows by introducing four of NXT’s top stars - Aleister Black, Tommaso Ciampa, Johnny Gargano & Ricochet - was obviously a factor, but a bigger one was the health of men’s Royal Rumble winner and #1 contender for the Universal title, Seth Rollins.
“The show was built around Seth Rollins... They actually had to rewrite the whole show because Seth Rollins ends up not being cleared. Everyone thought that he would be okay. So Seth Rollins has a L7 problem in his back, L7 disc or whatever is messed up. But it doesn’t need surgery, it just needs rest. They thought that he would have been cleared at any time, and he wasn’t cleared. He’s probably not far from being cleared... He was there, but they essentially had to - a lot of his segments that involved being in the ring had to be removed. So they had to rewrite the whole show because he was all over the show.”
Three matches were set in advance. Here’s how Seth’s injury changed two of them:
- DIY vs. The Revival, which happened as planned.
- Finn Bálor vs. Ricochet. This was changed to a tag match by Triple H as described here. Putting Bálor & Ricochet together also meant reuniting Bobby Lashley & Lio Rush, despite the fact their split from the pay-per-view (PPV) was never addressed.
- Ronda Rousey vs. Alexa Bliss. The Raw Women’s champ’s match was to be another quick squash a la what Rousey did to Ruby Riott at Elimination Chamber, but because Rollins wasn’t cleared, a longer match was needed. There wasn’t confidence a lengthy Alexa vs. Rowdy match would deliver, whereas Ruby & Ronda are comfortable working together, so... voila.
Next week would seem to be a little more set in stone, with Ric Flair’s 70th birthday celebration and an appearance by Brock Lesnar being advertised. But Rollins is probably supposed to do something during the Universal champ’s segment, so his health still might be an issue. And Vince will still be Vince, so...
See you in Atlanta.