Backstage News on WWE Changing Raw Plans, Rousey’s Original Opponent, Why NXT Stars Were Used

This past Monday’s Raw was a weird show where it seemed like a lot of things were just thrown together while four of NXT’s best stars randomly made their debuts without any warning. Here’s some insight into what happened courtesy of Dave Meltzer’s Wrestling Observer Radio show. Normally it’s a subscription-only service, but they also posted a 10-minute clip of Dave talking about this on their Youtube page, which I’ll include below. Here’s a summary of what was discussed:

– There was a plan to build Raw around Seth Rollins, who they were hoping would be cleared to return from his back injury. When Rollins wasn’t cleared, they had to change plans during the day and Rollins only appeared backstage for a brief interview. Rollins has a sore back that is not considered serious, but he has needed rest for nearly a month.

– The actual script wasn’t even done until the show had started and they were still changing things in the second hour.

– Ronda Rousey was supposed to face Alexa Bliss in a match and beat her in a squash match within a few minutes. With Rollins not able to wrestle, Vince McMahon felt like they needed Rousey to have a longer match, so they opted to go with Rousey vs. Ruby Riott in the main event. That match got about 11 minutes with Rousey getting the win.

– The reason why they debuted Ricochet, Aleister Black, Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa is because Vince McMahon decided that he wanted more great wrestlers on Raw to help the show. That led to Vince wanting four of the best NXT guys, so that’s why Ricochet, Black, Gargano and Ciampa were picked because they are among the best in NXT. It’s not known if Vince picked them or if others chose them.

– Vince McMahon wanted to book Finn Balor vs. Ricochet in a long match. Triple H apparently got the match changed because he didn’t think it was a good idea to do the match right away and have Ricochet lose in his Raw debut. Triple H also didn’t like the idea of a face vs. face match in that setting as well. That’s why it was changed to Balor and Ricochet beating Bobby Lashley and Lio Rush.

– There’s a belief from Vince McMahon that Raw ratings are down because they lack stars, so he feels that if he can utilize this NXT foursome in a way that makes them stars, it will help the show. Apparently, Vince feels some of the current Raw guys are too damaged to be built back up, so that’s why they brought in NXT guys.

– The plan is for Ciampa, Gargano, Ricochet and Black to appear on Raw, Smackdown and NXT regularly. Since NXT is taped once per month, there shouldn’t be a conflict. Meltzer didn’t say this, but my assumption is that when WWE does the Superstar Shake-up on April 15/16, that’s when they will assign those four guys to main roster shows.

– It was also mentioned by Meltzer that Vince McMahon is unhappy about The Undertaker working the Starrcast event in May as well.

TJR Thoughts: I’m not surprised by any of this because I wrote in my Raw Deal review and my Raw Five Count column that all of it felt rushed and it wasn’t planned well. I’m all for the NXT guys appearing on Raw, but I don’t know if it’s the right move to just randomly put them on there. It could have been executed a lot better.