WWE Raw Recap: October 22, 2018
S26 episode 43 Aired on October 22, 2018

On the same that Universal Champion Roman Reigns was forced to relinquish his title after his leukemia returned, his Shield brothers captured the Raw Tag Team Titles in his honor. But as the smoke cleared on their emotional victory, The Lunatic Fringe unleashed a shocking post-match assault on The Architect.

In the opening moments of Raw, Roman Reigns emerged to announce that he had been living with leukemia for 11 years and the disease's return would force him to relinquish the Universal Championship and take a leave of absence from WWE.

Dressed in street clothes, The Big Dog mingled briefly with fans at ringside before dropping the persona of Roman Reigns to address the WWE Universe as Joe and detail his history of living with leukemia. In an emotional but optimistic address, Reigns recounted his initial diagnosis and remission in late 2008 and thanked the WWE Universe for making his dreams come true. He said he was going to go home to focus on his family and health, but he made one thing clear on the way out: “By no means is this a retirement speech.”

Speaking of the “faith” that had carried him through his life, Reigns promised the WWE Universe that he would return to “swing for the fences” at whatever curveballs life threw at him, with a final signoff before a tearful embrace with The Shield atop the ramp: “I will beat this, and I will be back, so you will see me very, very soon.”

Coming into Raw, it looked like Nikki Bella might have riled Ronda Rousey up so much that she might not wait until WWE Evolution to fight her. On Monday, she crossed the line so brazenly that The Baddest Woman on the Planet seemingly decided to do something even more ominous: Take her time.

Seeking retribution after Rousey’s very personal insults last week, Nikki went in on a familiar relationship of Rousey’s when the champion said that allowing The Bellas to beat her up, even with one arm tied behind her back, would be something her mother would be ashamed of. Nikki zeroed in on that target with ruthless efficiency, saying Rousey had already let her mother down with her mixed-martial arts losses, and it would only get worse when she lost her title to a “Diva.” She then slapped Rousey clean across the face after the contract was signed.

The red-faced Baddest Woman on the Planet took a moment to compose herself, then delivered a final message with a smile on her face: “Come this Sunday, I will end you. I give you my word.”

How do you properly honor Roman Reigns as he takes his leave of absence to battle leukemia? According to Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins, there is only one option: To win. Competing under the name of The Shield, they did just that and won one for Reigns — and then, Ambrose went into business for himself.

Yes, The Lunatic Fringe finally snapped after weeks of in-house tension among The Hounds of Justice, unloading a torrent of fists on The Kingslayer after the two brothers in black dethroned Dolph Ziggler & Drew McIntyre to become Raw Tag Team Champions. They got that win thanks in no small part to an assist from Braun Strowman, who came seeking vengeance against Drew McIntyre and took The Scottish Psychopath out of the match by brawling with him through the crowd, leaving Ziggler ripe for a Stomp that sealed the match.

What was shaping up to be an emotional celebration in Reigns’ name, however, turned into Ambrose’s moment in a horrifying hurry. The Lunatic Fringe dropped Rollins with Dirty Deeds and slowly and methodically beat his fellow champion around and outside the ring before finally administering a second Dirty Deeds on the exposed concrete of the arena, ditching his black shirt and walking up through the crowd they had come through. On a night when Roman Reigns made an incredible sacrifice as a Raw Superstar, his brothers had seemingly pulled out all the stops to honor him. Now, Reigns has left. Ambrose has come undone. Those are the facts. Beyond that, it’s difficult to say what anybody should believe.

In other action … Finn Bálor def. Bobby Lashley … Ruby Riott def. Sasha Banks … The Brothers of Destruction confronted D-Generation X … Braun Strowman confronted Paul Heyman; Drew McIntyre attacked Strowman … Elias def. Apollo Crews … Elias smashed a guitar over the back of Acting General Manager Baron Corbin … Ember Moon def. Nia Jax, Dana Brooke and Tamina (Fatal 4-Way Match) … and Titus O'Neil introduced six breast cancer survivors.

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