Welcome to the WWE Raw Deal review as we head towards the Royal Rumble in less than two weeks. This is one of those weeks where WWE didn’t feel like advertising a lot of things. No more football games on ESPN to compete against either, so maybe the audience will go up a bit as long as WWE can put on a compelling show. Last week’s Raw wasn’t very good, so hopefully it’s an improvement this week. (Spoiler: It was not an improvement!)
From the WWE ThunderDome at Tropicana Field in Tampa Bay, Florida, this is the Raw Deal for episode #1443 of Monday Night Raw. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. Please visit TJRWrestling.net daily for our regular updates on the wrestling business featuring WWE news coverage, insightful columns from our team along with reviews about wrestling’s past and present. Let’s roll.
There was a video tribute about Martin Luther King Jr. featuring images and videos from his life since it is Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the US. It’s something WWE does every year on this day. Great video as usual.
The show began with a shot of the ThunderDome crowd looking happy to be there.
Let’s Hear from Randy Orton…with a mask
There was a Randy Orton promo where he spoke in the dark while wearing a mask covering his face after Alexa Bliss threw a fireball at him last week on Raw. There were visible burns on Orton’s nose along with some darkness around the eye holes on the mask. Orton did a promo summarizing the situation including what happened last week when Bliss interrupted Orton’s match with Triple H and Bliss threw a fireball at Orton’s face. Orton complained about how this is the damnation he receives for showing compassion by not burning Bliss when he had the shot. Orton said he hasn’t been able to sleep. Orton said that he is wearing the mask to shield himself, but to save everybody from the horror that he endured. They showed a video of Orton rolling around the ring last week grabbing his face. That was the end of last week’s Raw. Orton said that despite the agony, he considers himself lucky. Orton said that he came away with first degree burns, but it could have been worse. Orton said he didn’t blame Bliss. Orton said he blamed him…The Fiend. Orton bragged about sending The Fiend straight to hell last month at TLC. Orton said that The Fiend is responsible for this while Alexa was merely a vehicle and he knows what The Fiend wants. Orton said that The Fiend wants Orton from achieving the inevitable as we saw highlights of Orton winning the Royal Rumble in 2009 and 2017. Orton said he knows everyone in that locker room enjoyed seeing his face burned because it might mean he’ll be out of the Royal Rumble, but Orton said that despite his sickening affliction, he vows to remain in the Royal Rumble. Orton said that he can compete as long as he can tolerate the pain. Orton said he enjoyed the pain and it fuels his every move. Orton said he’ll burn everybody’s Royal Rumble dreams to ashes and he’ll go on to main event WrestleMania. Orton lit a match and then blew it out.
Analysis: That was unique and different. At least they didn’t wait that long to give people an update on how Orton was looking after the fireball was thrown at his face. I thought Orton did a nice job in terms of the dialogue and how he delivered the lines. If Orton is still in the Rumble then I assume The Fiend returns there to take him out or maybe Edge is back in the Rumble, but I don’t think Orton is winning the Rumble this year. Anyway, it was a good job by Randy.
The announce team of Tom Phillips, Drew McIntyre and Samoa Joe welcomed us to the show with a rundown of what’s coming up including Goldberg as a guest on The Dirt Sheet show.
There was a video of Lacey Evans arriving at the ThunderDome arm in arm with Ric Flair. Charly Caruso asked what’s going on here. Evans reminded Caruso that Ric is a 16-time legend that deserves respect. Evans said that last week, Ric was living up to his name. Evans said that she is learning from the greatest man that has ever stepped in the ring. Evans said that she’ll watch her partner Peyton Royce knock The Queen off her throne.
Charlotte Flair made her entrance. Peyton Royce attacked from behind and referees showed up to break it up.
Charlotte Flair vs. Peyton Royce
Charlotte was aggressive with punches and then they went tumbling out of the ring. Flair with a hard chop to the chest. Charlotte went for a chop, Royce moved and Charlotte chopped the ring post. Royce took control in the ring with a chinlock. Charlotte came back with a clothesline, then sent Royce into the turnbuckle and pulled back on the neck against the ropes. Charlotte charged, Royce moved and Charlotte hit the turnbuckle, so Royce took over again. Royce sent Charlotte into the turnbuckle, Charlotte to the apron and a rollup got two. Charlotte with a forearm to the face followed by a neckbreaker off the ropes for two. That led to Ric Flair making his entrance in a suit with Charlotte looking pissed off about seeing her dad. That led to Lacey Evans entering wearing a Ric Flair robe. Royce hit a spin kick to the head for a two count as the show went to break.
Royce with a jawbreaker, Charlotte with a kick to the face and Royce with a back kick to the head. I guess Ric and Lacey left. Royce with another kick while on the apron. Royce jumped off the top, Charlotte with a backbreaker and Charlotte sent Royce into the turnbuckle. Royce was on the apron, so Charlotte hit a running kick to knock Royce off the apron. Charlotte went for a knee drop, but Royce came back with a knee strike to the face. Royce with a spin kick and then a jumping kick for two. Charlotte came back with a chop block and then knee drops to the left knee. Charlotte slapped on the Figure Eight submission and Royce tapped out to give Flair the win after about 12 minutes.
Winner by submission: Charlotte Flair
Analysis: **1/2 This was okay, but I also expect better from Charlotte matches. It’s nice to see them get over ten minutes, but I don’t think anybody really thought Royce had a chance here. Charlotte lost some matches recently, so it’s no surprise that she got the win to make her look strong going into the Royal Rumble match in a few weeks. Royce sells very well and her offense is okay with a lot of different kinds of kicks. I just don’t know if Royce is going to get a push any time soon.
After the match, Charlotte held the Figure Eight submission on for about 20 seconds more to cause more pain to Royce. It showed that Charlotte was pissed off.
Analysis: That was not very babyface-like by Charlotte, but she has always felt like a reluctant babyface to me. Charlotte is much more interesting as a heel.
The Hurt Business was shown walking backstage wearing suits along with their titles on their shoulders. They walked up to Riddle, who was dressed in flip flops and his wrestling attire. Riddle complimented them on their suits while also managing to insult them with his stupid comments. Lashley told Riddle he kinda likes the flip flops and then Lashley stepped on Riddle’s foot in the flip flops. Riddle went down selling a foot injury. They are in a tag team match later.
Analysis: I hit rewind to see Lashley actually stepped on the floor to make the noise, yet Riddle sold it. Riveting television. They probably should have filmed it so we couldn’t see the actual stomp.
There was a backstage scene with Riddle talking with tag team partners Lucha House Party for their tag team match later. Riddle said he’ll be okay because when he was younger, he got his foot run over by his cousin and he still made it to prom, so he’ll be fine.
Mustafa Ali did a WWE Network Exclusive promo talking about Kofi Kingston’s broken jaw. Ali said he hopes Kofi misses the Royal Rumble with a broken jaw. He hopes Kofi also misses WrestleMania so he knows what it feels like. That led to Tom Phillips mentioning this goes back two years ago when Ali was injured.
Analysis: The backstory is important there because it was two years ago when Mustafa Ali was hurt going into Elimination Chamber 2019, Kofi Kingston took his spot, won over the crowd, came close to winning and eventually became WWE Champion. It was all because Ali was injured and not able to compete, so it makes sense for Ali to be bitter about it. They need Ali to do that kind of promo in the ring with Kofi to tell the story of why Ali is so angry these days. They need to do that kind of promo with Ali and Kofi in the ring when Kofi is back.
Xavier Woods made his entrance on his own with the trombone. They are using the 8K cameras on entrances like they did on Smackdown and they look great. Mace entered with Retribution. Mustafa Ali got in Xavier’s face, yelled at him and Woods decked Ali with a punch. Ali held his guys back because the match with Woods and Mace begins after a break.
Xavier Woods vs. Mace (w/Mustafa Ali, T-Bar and Slapjack)
Mace used his power by lifting up Woods out of the corner and giving Woods a spinebuster style slam for a two count. Mace slapped on a chinlock as Ali told the announcers that Mace will break Xavier’s jaw. Woods with chops, Mace with an uppercut and Woods ran the ropes leading to a dropkick to the leg. Woods with a kick to the face and he went for the rolling clothesline, but Mace caught him with a choke. Woods kicked Mace in the head to send Mace to the floor. Woods wit ha baseball slide dropkick to Ali into the announce table and Woods knocked Mace off the apron. Ali told his guys to shut it down now. Woods with a kick, but then he ran into a jumping side kick by Mace. There was a spinning slam off the shoulders by Mace that got a pinfall win after about four minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Mace
Analysis: *1/2 A quick match to put over the bigger guy over Woods, who put over a Retribution wrestler for the second week in a row. It’s weird how Retribution went from wrestling Ricochet every week to now wrestling Woods in back to back weeks as if WWE is unable to put them against different people. This booking hasn’t helped Woods in the last two weeks.
Mustafa Ali looked into the camera as Retribution stood over Woods and had a message to Kofi Kingston: “Get well soon.” Retribution left.
Asuka was shown walking backstage with Sarah Schreiber asking what to escape on Alexa Bliss’ playground. Asuka said she didn’t know, a replay was shown of Bliss throwing a fireball at Orton last week and then Asuka said something about Bliss having a dark side. That was it.
The WrestleMania Report video showing the announcement that WWE made on Saturday for the next three WrestleMania events. It was a unique video with Triple H and Stephanie McMahon in costumes, plus Roman Reigns with Paul Heyman, Sasha Banks and John Cena. The news is:
* WrestleMania 37 is at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay on Saturday, April 11 and Sunday, April 12. There will be some tickets available. Details soon.
* WrestleMania 38 in 2022 will be at AT&T Stadium in Dallas, which is where WrestleMania 32 was in 2016.
* WrestleMania 39 in 2023 will be at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles. That was the original plan for this year, but things changed due to COVID-19. We have more info on the next three WrestleManias in this post right here.
Analysis: I’m a big fan of the two-night WrestleMania plan for the second year in a row. If you do a 3-4 hour show each night then it’s better than doing a seven-hour show in one night. That’s my opinion as a guy that has to write about the show anyway. It’s also cool that there will be some fans in attendance although it will be a limited crowd due to restrictions. The 2022 and 2023 WrestleManias are in major cities with huge stadiums for their NFL teams where WWE can go for 100,000 people in attendance for both of them.
Alexa Bliss made her entrance in her unique outfit looking like a 10-year-old girl to host her talk show. Bliss sat on a swing that set up in the ring as part of her set.
Bliss said that she was just going to talk to Randy Orton last week…and then things got a little heated (laughs). Bliss said Randy get let her know if he needs sunblock. Bliss said she was glad that Randy is in good spirits and feeling okay. Bliss introduced her special guest, the Raw Women’s Champion and one half of the Women’s Tag Team Champions…Asuka.
Asuka went into the ring and she was about to go on the second swing in the ring, but Bliss didn’t want her to, so Asuka stood beside the swings. Bliss said she had some breaking news, then spoke to the empty swing as if a person was there and Bliss said she’s declaring for the Women’s Royal Rumble match. Asuka said that’s great. Bliss said that if she wins the Rumble then she can challenge Asuka at WrestleMania. Asuka said that she was a big fan of Alexa, Bliss said thanks and Asuka said: “Yowie Wowie.” Bliss spoke to her empty seat swing saying sorry, she wasn’t supposed to say that. Asuka called for her music to play, so she did some dancing. Bliss yelled at Asuka to stop it. Bliss told her imaginary friend that they were right and said it wasn’t supposed to be like this because “you” would still be here. That means she was talking to The Fiend, who wasn’t there. Asuka said The Fiend is still here. Bliss got mad and told Asuka to not say his name. Bliss waved as a rocking horse was rocking a bit and Asuka left. Bliss sat on the rocking horse to end it so it’s something where she felt The Fiend’s presence there.
Analysis: Bliss is doing a great job as this unique character. Asuka acted like she was freaked out by Bliss and tried to get through it, but then Bliss kept on acting weird. The part with the rocking horse was a way to show that The Fiend is there in spirit, I guess. Anyway, they really didn’t need to do this segment prior to their match later on Raw, but it’s a three hour show, so there’s time to kill.
The Miz and John Morrison were backstage in suits with Sarah Schreiber there to interview them. Miz said that what they have in store for Goldberg will be controversial and Morrison said that controversy creates cash…which led to Miz saying “like Money in the Bank.” Well played.
Mandy Rose entered with Dana Brooke for Mandy in singles action.
Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax did a backstage promo talked about how she’s going to make Mandy Rose tap out again. Baszler said she’s going to win the Royal Rumble and throw everybody out even her own tag team partner. Jax complained about that, so they argued a bit and then the camera was back on Rose/Brooke to finish their entrance.
This Friday on Smackdown. Roman Reigns was stunned by Kevin Owens/Adam Pearce on Smackdown last week (leading to Reigns vs. Owens at Royal Rumble), so what happens next for Roman? Also, Big E defends the Intercontinental Title against Apollo Crews, who was seen hanging out with Reigns last week.
There was a video of WWE Hall of Famer Jeff Jarrett talking about Drew McIntyre defending the WWE Title against Goldberg. Jarrett said he’s going with his old buddy Goldberg. Jarrett has a “Slapnuts BLVD” road sign in his house. That’s wonderful. Jarrett works for WWE as a Producer, but this was filmed at his house.
Shayna Baszler (w/Nia Jax) vs. Mandy Rose (w/Dana Brooke)
All four women are in the Royal Rumble match. Jax went on commentary for this match. Rose got a rollup for two, Baszler with a kick and a knee to the face. Baszler with a chinlock followed by a forearm to the back. Baszler with a snapmare followed by a kick to the back and another chinlock leading to a slam into the mat. Baszler stomped on the left elbow, Brooke cheered on Rose, who got a rollup on Baszler for two. Rose with a shoulder tackle and two running clotheslines. Rose with a flapjack and Rose sent Baszler into the turnbuckle. Rose with repeated forearms and then kicks to the body. Baszler kicked the left arm again, but Rose came back with two punches to the face. Baszler twisted the left arm of Rose and did a takedown grabbing the wrist. Baszler slapped on the Kirifuda Clutch on Rose, who quickly tapped out after about four minutes. Saxton said that Baszler could win the Royal Rumble and Jax told him to shut up.
Winner by submission: Shayna Baszler
Analysis: *1/2 It was okay for a shorter match. Rose was selling the left arm well, plus I liked her comeback, but there wasn’t a point in the match where I thought Rose might get the win. Baszler beat Rose again just like last week although that was in a tag team match.
Post match, Baszler was talking to Jax and then Dana Brooke hit a dropkick off the apron to Jax, which led to Jax hitting Baszler into the ring post. Brooke and Rose left together while the heels were down at ringside.
Analysis: I’m not really sure why Jax and Baszler have to bicker so much. Jax is mad about Baszler tagging herself in last week when they won the match? These people are in their 30s and 40s. They don’t need to be booked like children.
Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax showed up noting that they never got along even when they were champions. Baszler said that now is the perfect time to get their rematch for the titles, so they left.
Charlotte Flair was interviewed by Sarah Schreiber with Charlotte holding her Women’s Tag Team Title on her shoulder. Charlotte talked about how people think she has been handed things because of her last name, which is the same thing she has said in most promos for the last five years. Charlotte said that Lacey is using her father while Charlotte noted that Lacey can wear the robe, but she will never wear Charlotte’s crown.
They showed a clip from Smackdown when Adam Pearce told Roman Reigns he waited all night for Roman to sign the contract. Pearce let Roman know that “Card Subject to Change” so Pearce picked a suitable replacement for the Royal Rumble…it was Kevin Owens. That means Reigns defends the Universal Title against Kevin Owens at Royal Rumble.
Ricochet was shown backstage talking to Adam Pearce, who told Ricochet he deserves an opportunity. AJ Styles showed up with big man Omos. Styles mocked Pearce for walking away from the Universal Title match against Roman Reigns. Styles ripped on Ricochet, who mentioned amnesia like Drew Barrymore in the movie 50 First Dates, so Styles said that was one of his top movies along with The Notebook (that’s a joke obviously). Ricochet mentioned TLC when Styles lost his championship opportunity. Ricochet said that he will prove he deserves to be in that Royal Rumble. Ricochet made his entrance.
It was back to Styles talking to Adam Pearce backstage with Styles telling Pearce he doesn’t like him anymore, which means Omos doesn’t like him either. Omos stared down at Pearce as the show went to break.
Analysis: The dialogue in that Ricochet and Styles promo was bad. It’s not the wrestler’s fault. It’s the writing. Too much talking on this show. More action, please.
AJ Styles made his entrance with Omos. There was a plug for the WWE Untold documentary about AJ Styles and his WWE debut at Royal Rumble 2016. Here is our review of it on TJRWrestling written by Aneil Komal. I saw it and really liked it too.
Ricochet vs. AJ Styles (w/Omos)
There were a lot of quick moves by both guys along with counters into pin attempts. Ricochet bridged out of a Styles Clash attempt and got a rollup for two. Ricochet with two headscissors in a row, then he did another takedown using the legs and Ricochet hit a dropkick that sent Styles out of the ring. Ricochet slid over towards Styles on the floor with Ricochet doing a headscissors takedown again. The wrestlers went back in the ring to break the count. Ricochet jumped over the top going for Styles, but Omos caught Ricochet and referee John Cone told Omos to put Ricochet down, so Omos dropped Ricochet hard onto the floor. That led to a break.
Styles sent Ricochet into the turnbuckle followed by a running backbreaker. Styles drove the knee into the back of Ricochet to ground him with a submission and then Ricochet hit a jawbreaker to break free. Ricochet came back with an impressive spinning DDT. That was really good. Ricochet with a knee strike followed by a discus clothesline for two. Ricochet kicked the knee of Styles, then a backflip and Ricochet hit a German Suplex for a two count. That was an impressive sequence of moves. Ricochet charged, Styles moved, back elbow by Ricochet, but then Styles countered a moonsault with a shot to the body. Styles hit a brainbuster for a two count. Styles with the Ushigoroshi slam off the shoulder into the knee for a two count. Styles to the apron, he jumped with the Phenomenal Forearm, but Ricochet countered with the Recoil knee to the face for the two count. Great nearfall there. Ricochet went up top, but Styles tripped him up to knock Ricochet down to the apron. Ricochet drove AJ’s throat into the top rope. Styles with a slingshot suplex and Ricochet bounced right into a Styles Clash by Styles for the pinfall win after 14 minutes. What a f’n great finish that was!
Winner by pinfall: AJ Styles
Analysis: ***3/4 That was an awesome match especially that ending. It was a slingshot suplex into a Styles Clash and it worked perfectly because they trust eachother a lot. That’s not easy to do, but it was exactly what they wanted to do. I like that Ricochet got plenty of nearfalls in the match including the two count after the Recoil counter. I knew Ricochet wasn’t going to win, but Styles gave him a lot of offense and it was a very competitive match. This match was needed on what was a boring show for the most part going into it.
The Dirt Sheet show with Goldberg as the guest is next.
A recap aired of Asuka and Alexa Bliss on Alexa’s talk show earlier. They have a match later as we head into hour three.
The Dirt Sheet Hosted by The Miz and John Morrison
The Dirt Sheet boys were seated in the ring wearing suits. They did their usual banter with Miz saying that this is the biggest guest in Dirt Sheet history. Miz did a big introduction for Goldberg.
Gillberg (former WWE jobber Duane Gill) made his entrance doing his Goldberg impression that he first did over 20 years ago. Gillberg did a promo about headbutting the door and other things like that.
Drew McIntyre’s music hit as a fat, short guy made his entrance with fake hair, a kilt and a dagger that he put into the stage for some weak pyro. The Drew ripoff stumbled into the ring and kept on losing his fake hair. Miz and Morrison asked “Drew” what he is doing there.
The fake Drew said that he is there to meet his opponent face to face. Miz told them this is a classy talk show. Drew told Gillberg he’ll kick his ass to 1998 and eat some haggis. Morrison did his Scottish impression, then the guy asked if they want to film it again and he was told it was live. Miz told Morrison that the best actors come from New York, Los Angeles and Cleveland. Miz and Morrison argued, so Gillberg did some yelling. Miz asked if Goldberg and McIntyre will both lose at Royal Rumble, Morrison said “correct” twice and then Morrison said that Miz will cash in Money in the Bank with both guys saying “correct” for that. Miz ending the promo saying that he is the next WWE Champion because he’s…next.
Analysis: This was terrible. Really bad. It’s a classic Vince McMahon “comedy” bit where they got impersonators instead of the real guys to get some heat. It’s either that or little people. Sometimes they go with photoshop pictures. Gillberg had a few funny moments. The McIntyre guy was really bad, but that’s what he was supposed to do – be a bad imitation. It felt a little too over the top. Overall, I wouldn’t have booked this segment and I thought it was goofy shit. Anyway, it was done to get heat on Miz and have Miz cut a promo about how he might cash in the Money in the Bank contract at Royal Rumble. That’s really it. The McIntyre parody was actor David Krumholtz.
The Hurt Business made their entrance with US Champion Bobby Lashley and Raw Tag Team Champions Shelton Benjamin and Cedric Alexander in gear while MVP was in a suit because it’s a six-man tag.
Lucha House Party made their entrance. They got a non-title win over Benjamin/Alexander two weeks ago. Riddle was the last man up for his team with tape on his left foot to sell Lashley stepping on the floor/his foot earlier.
The Hurt Business (Bobby Lashley, Shelton Benjamin and Cedric Alexander) w/MVP vs. Riddle and Lucha House Party (Gran Metalik and Lince Dorado)
Alexander with a backbreaker on Metalik, then Dorado tagged in and hit a headscissors takedown. Benjamin was reluctant to tag in because Alexander has had ego problems recently. Dorado with a shot to the face followed by a moonsault onto a standing Alexander for a two count. Benjamin tagged in, Dorado with a rollup and Benjamin with a clothesline. Benjamin with a hard whip into the turnbuckle. Lashley tagged in for a double shoulder tackle to knock down Dorado. Lashley sent Dorado into the barricade and Alexander tagged himself back in, he did a punch and Benjamin tagged back in again. After some kicks from Benjamin, Alexander tagged back in and Dorado hit the springboard Stunner, but Alexander managed to prevent a tag. Benjamin was back in, so Alexander got in his face and Benjamin shoved Alexander out of the ring. MVP tried to calm down Alexander on the floor as the show went to break.
The match continued with an armbar takedown to the mat. Benjamin was not willing to tag in, so Lashley tagged in and hit a body slam on Dorado. Lashley told them to get it together while MVP said he’ll take care of it. Benjamin tossed Dorado across the ring followed by a suplex. Dorado fought back with cross body block off the top to knock down Alexander. Riddle finally tagged in after about 10 minutes with a jumping kick on Benjamin, then running forearms on Benjamin and Lashley. Riddle fought out of a Powerbomb with a kick to the head of Benjamin and Riddle hit a knee to the face. Riddle went up for the Floating Bro, but Shelton moved and Riddle hit the mat. Gran Metalik tagged in with a cross body block off the top followed by a rope walk into a headscissors takedown. Benjamin blocked a move with a sitout slam. Alexander tagged himself in with a brainbuster on Metalik. Lashley tagged himself in with a Spear on Metalik and the Hurt Lock on Metalik, who tapped out to give Lashley’s team the submission win after 12 minutes.
Winners by submission: The Hurt Business (Bobby Lashley, Shelton Benjamin and Cedric Alexander)
Analysis: *** A pretty good tag team match. Riddle was protected since he was on the apron for most of it and then got the hot tag for a few minutes before tagging out, so Metalik could do the job. I think Benjamin/Alexander bickering so soon after they won the titles a few weeks back is silly, but that’s WWE where they love to book bickering tag team partners. I like Dorado and Metalik a lot although WWE never seems to truly get behind them. Lashley getting the win isn’t a surprise since he is consistently booked well.
After the match, Benjamin and Alexander were bickering while Riddle went into the ring and kicked Lashley in the back to knock him down. Riddle ran away. Benjamin and Alexander continued to bicker as MVP tried to calm things down.
Jaxson Ryker and Elias were shown talking backstage about Ryker facing Jeff Hardy again this week. They cleared up the issue they had last week. I’d recap it, but it puts me to sleep.
Drew McIntyre has a message up next.
The guests on Raw Talk on WWE Network are AJ Styles, The Miz, John Morrison and Shayna Baszler.
Let’s Hear from Drew McIntyre
Drew McIntyre said that he was at his home gym feeling better after testing positive for the Coronavirus last week. Drew talked about the Dirt Sheet segment earlier. Drew said that he respects Bill Goldberg. Drew said that he is prepared, focused and intense. McIntyre advised Goldberg to bring the real Goldberg because that’s what this WWE Title deserves. Drew told Goldberg if you’re not ready then Drew will beat Goldberg in two minutes. Drew said that next week he is coming back to Raw and he had a smile on his face.
Analysis: Good to hear Drew coming back to Raw next week. Drew has been missed. Since Drew is feeling good and not affected by COVID-19, it makes sense that he would return after two weeks. That’s consistent with what athletes in the NFL and NBA end up missing usually around 10-14 days if they get a COVID-19 positive result. I’m glad Drew is doing well.
Jeff Hardy made his colorful entrance that looked pretty cool with the 8k camera. Earlier in the day, Jeff announced his entry in the Royal Rumble match. Jaxson Ryker entered with Elias for this rematch from last week.
Jaxson Ryker (w/Elias) vs. Jeff Hardy
Ryker used his power advantage early on, then Hardy with a kick off the ropes and a running forearm. Hardy with an atomic drop and a low dropkick for a pin attempt. Hardy with a spin kick that sent Ryker into the turnbuckle, but Ryker came back with a double axehandle to the chest for two. Ryker worked over Hardy with punches. Ryker with a belly to back suplex for a two count. Ryker with a chinlock, Hardy with a jawbreaker and a spinning neckbreaker. Hardy went up top near Elias, the referee looked over and Elias knocked Hardy down for the DQ finish after about three minutes.
Winner by disqualification: Jeff Hardy
Analysis: *1/4 A decent effort by both guys with a lame finish. I like Jeff Hardy a lot, but he has not been booked well on Raw at all. I get that WWE wants to try to get Ryker more time in the ring. It just feels repetitive since Hardy feuded with Elias for a long time.
Post match, Ryker reminded Elias that he told him “not” to help him. Hardy got back up and kicked Elias into the barricade. Hardy charged at Ryker, who dropped Jeff with a Bossman Slam. Elias talked with Ryker again as the Elias song played to end it.
Analysis: This feud ended and then it came back. It’s boring.
Alexa Bliss was shown walking backstage for her match up next.
Next week on Raw: Goldberg and Drew McIntyre return. Good. They need a strong segment.
Asuka made her entrance with the Raw Women’s Title and the Women’s Tag Team Title. Alexa Bliss was up next in her unique looking attire.
Asuka vs. Alexa Bliss
This is not for Asuka’s Raw Women’s Title. They did a spot where Bliss tripped up Asuka and got a rollup for two. Asuka with strikes, then a spinning back first and a knee to the face. Asuka hit a Shining Wizard running knee for a two count leading to Bliss smiling after that. Asuka slapped on an armbar, Bliss got to the ropes and Bliss left the ring. Asuka went for a sliding dropkick, Bliss went back into the ring and then the lights went out in the building. Some creepy music began to play and then they went to break.
The match returned with Alexa Bliss wearing black lipstick now as some purple lights were around the arena. Alexa also had a black shirt under her overalls instead of the pink shirt she had on earlier. The announcers spoke quietly about how it’s as if Alexa Bliss has transformed. Asuka went after Bliss with strikes, but Bliss blocked a lot of them. Asuka rocked Bliss a bit with a kick to the ribs, but then Bliss hit Asuka with a shoulder tackle that sent Asuka out of the ring. Asuka with a lifting knee to the face, then Bliss did the upside down Wyatt pose by the turnbuckle and Bliss wiped some of the black lipstick across her face. Asuka blocked a Mandible Claw attempt, Bliss with an elbow and Bliss with a punch to the face for a two count. Asuka hit a roundhouse kick, then a spinning back fist, then another kick to the head and Bliss no sold that leading to the Sister Abigail neckbreaker for the pinfall win after 12 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Alexa Bliss
Analysis: ** The star rating doesn’t matter that much. It’s more about the Bliss character. The lights went out halfway through, Bliss changed her attire and became a darker Fiend-like character. Asuka wasn’t able to do much because Bliss was no-selling Asuka’s moves. I don’t really like Bliss pinning Asuka because I hate when champions lose non-title. I assume it was done that way to try to show how much of a force Bliss can be moving forward. If Bliss beat another woman like that then who cares? But when it’s Asuka, it means a lot more.
Post match, Bliss stared forward with an evil look on her face and then the camera moved back. Bliss was back in the pink shirt and no black makeup. Bliss said “LET ME IN” as The Fiend’s voice played. That was the end of Raw there.
Analysis: It’s a way to show that Bliss has the power of The Fiend now that allows her to change personas even during a match. I think Alexa Bliss is definitely one of the favorites to win the Women’s Royal Rumble match. I think Bianca Belair makes a lot of sense. Some others do too. Based on the way Bliss was booked here, she’s probably going to win matches more often now.
Three Stars of the Show
- AJ Styles
- Alexa Bliss – I don’t like the storyline that much. I’m just putting Bliss here because A) nobody else stood out and B) her acting performance is pretty good at least.
5 out of 10
Last week: 4.5
2021 Average: 5.33
It was the usual average episode Raw with some stupid segments, too much talking and a lot of the show just wasn’t that interesting. However, there was an awesome match between AJ Styles and Ricochet that is worth checking out if you missed it. The finish was excellent. If that match wasn’t on the show then the final score might be a 4 out of 10 or less.
There was a lot of screen time for Alexa Bliss with the talk show segment and then the main event segment where she changed during a commercial break in the main event. After that, Bliss was booked like The Fiend because she no-sold Asuka’s offense and finished her off easily. I think Bliss is definitely a favorite to win the Royal Rumble match too. You can tell WWE is all-in on this character, so they are going to want to feature Bliss even more in the weeks and months ahead.
The problem is there’s just not very much excitement on Raw for three hours. A lot of matches are rematches from the week before while boring feuds just keep on going with no end in sight. I’m having a hard time being interested in anything on Raw right now aside from the occasional good match. In terms of storylines that get people interested in the product, Raw is really lacking. If I wasn’t reviewing it, I’m sure I would be fast-forwarding a lot.
The next WWE pay-per-view on WWE Network is the Royal Rumble on Sunday, January 31. Here’s what we know so far:
30-Man Royal Rumble – Daniel Bryan, Bobby Lashley, Randy Orton, The Miz, Riddle, AJ Styles, Cesaro, Jey Uso, Jeff Hardy and more.
30-Woman Royal Rumble – Charlotte Flair, Nia Jax, Bianca Belair, Bayley, Dana Brooke, Mandy Rose, Peyton Royce, Alexa Bliss and more.
WWE Championship: Drew McIntyre (c) vs. Bill Goldberg
WWE Universal Championship Last Man Standing Match: Roman Reigns (c) vs. Kevin Owens
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