Welcome to the WWE Raw Deal review for this week. It’s a big week because the Royal Rumble takes place this Sunday, January 31 on WWE Network.
From the WWE ThunderDome at Tropicana Field in Tampa Bay, Florida, this is the Raw Deal for episode #1444 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.
The show began with the Raw intro video.
There was a shot of the WWE ThunderDome with the fans on the screens. The commentary team of Tom Phillips, Samoa Joe and Byron Saxton welcomed us to the show.
Let’s Hear from Drew McIntyre
The WWE Champion Drew McIntyre made his entrance wearing his kilt and the WWE Title around his waist. Drew is back after missing the last two weeks due to COVID-19. Drew said that he felt good to be back and thanked the WWE Universe for their support. Drew said that he had a bit of fatigue, he lost his sense of smell, but he was back training within four days. Drew said that we are going to get through this thing together.
Drew spoke about his Royal Rumble match against Goldberg this Sunday. Drew said he won’t take Goldberg likely. Drew said he saw Goldberg when Drew was a teenager, he saw Goldberg go 173-0, beat Hulk Hogan for the WCW Title and went to WWE where he beat The Rock. Drew said that every single champion that Goldberg has faced for a title, he has defeated. Drew said that this Sunday, he will end this current Goldberg streak and this Sunday on WWE Network, Drew will remain the WWE Champion.
The Miz made his entrance with the Money in the Bank briefcase with his buddy John Morrison joining him. They were in suits. Miz said that Drew’s match with Goldberg will be one for the ages like Kong vs. Godzilla. Morrison said it will be two monsters fighting in a hellacious match. Miz said that there might be consequences like one of them or both of them might end up injured. Morrison wondered what could happen. Miz and Morrison did their question/answer routine leading to them saying “CORRECT” repeatedly. Miz said that he’s going to cash in Money in the Bank and all Drew is going to hear is that Miz is the new WWE Champion. And here comes Bill Goldberg.
Goldberg stood on the ramp as his pyro went off and then he marched down to the ring with intensity as usual. Goldberg got in the ring with McIntyre while Miz and Morrison were on the apron.
Goldberg: “You, me, Sunday, you’re next.” Miz and Morrison tried to egg them on to have a fight, so McIntyre and Goldberg brought them into the ring. Goldberg hit a Spear on Miz and McIntyre hit a Claymore Kick on Morrison. McIntyre stared at Goldberg while holding up the WWE Title and they had a bit of a staredown to end the segment.
Analysis: This was fine with me because it didn’t take too long. Drew gave us an update on his health and I’m glad to hear that he’s doing well. I know he returned for a match last Friday at the Superstar Spectacle taping that will air on Tuesday. Goldberg didn’t say much as he got in Drew’s face and made it clear he was very serious about winning at Royal Rumble. Miz and Morrison were there to do their usual thing where they talk a big game, yet they always seem to get their asses kicked. Nice timing by Drew and Goldberg hitting their big moves there.
Charlotte Flair faces Shayna Baszler next.
Charlotte Flair was interviewed by Charly Caruso in the Gorilla position right behind the curtain. Charlotte Flair said she’ll be defending the Women’s Tag Team Titles this weekend and being in the Royal Rumble match. Charlotte called herself Miss WrestleMania as well. Charlotte said she’s seen her dad in a lot of dark places and this might be the darkest. Charlotte said tonight she’s focused on her match with Shayna Baszler. Charlotte made her entrance for her match complete with fireworks.
Charlotte Flair vs. Shayna Baszler (w/Nia Jax)
They were the final two in the Royal Rumble last year and both got title shots at WrestleMania, which is a nice reminder of why the winner doesn’t really matter (Flair won last year). Charlotte kicked Jax down outside the ring. Charlotte was in control early with a boot to the face on Baszler and she went for a Figure Eight submission. Nia Jax went into the ring and hit a leg drop on Charlotte for a DQ finish. This only went one minute.
Winner by disqualification: Charlotte Flair
Analysis: No point in rating that since it continued after the match.
Charlotte fought against Baszler and Jax, but then Mandy Rose and Dana Brooke went down to try to help Charlotte. That led to Lacey Evans going into the ring to attack Charlotte as well. The six women got into a brawl, nobody was there to try to break it up and the show went to break there.
Analysis: It’s classic WWE booking where they have a short singles match leading to interference and it’s holla holla holla tag team match time.
The match began after the break.
Charlotte Flair, Mandy Rose and Dana Brooke vs. Nia Jax, Shayna Baszler and Lacey Evans
Rose with a kick to the ribs of Evans leading to a headlock. Brooke tagged in with a double team suplex on Evans for a two count. Brooke with a shoulder tackle on Evans. Brooke with a cartwheel into a kick to the face. Charlotte missed a corner charge on Baszler, who hit some kicks to the leg and Charlotte came back with chops. Charlotte with a fallaway slam on Baszler. Rose and Brooke with a kick to Baszler and Brooke hit some chops to the chest of Baszler. Charlotte with a knee strike while on the apron and Charlotte pulled Baszler out of the ring. Baszler and Flair were out of the ring, Baszler shoved Charlotte into the ring apron. Then Baszler didn’t get back in by the ten count, so the referee John Cone counted her out as the match ended like that after four minutes.
Winners by countout: Charlotte Flair, Mandy Rose and Dana Brooke
Analysis: *1/4 That was weird. I don’t think that was the planned finish. I know in the past during other confusing match finishes where there have been reports that wrestlers have to get back in before the ten, the referee isn’t going to stop and it’s up to the wrestlers to get in there. I doubt that they planned that finish. (We found out after the show it was definitely not the planned finish.)
When the show returned, the match restarted. They showed a clip during the break with Official Adam Pearce restarting the match.
Charlotte Flair, Mandy Rose and Dana Brooke vs. Nia Jax, Shayna Baszler and Lacey Evans (Again)
The heels were in control with Jax running over Brooke with a running shoulder tackle. Evans grounded Brooke in her half of the ring. Baszler tagged in with a kick to the back of Brooke. Baszler stomped on the elbow of Brooke and Jax tagged in with a chinlock. Brooke tried to counter a Powerbomb, Jax sat down and Brooke moved, so Jax hit the mat. Rose with two running clotheslines on Evans, then a flapjack and Rose sent Evans into the turnbuckle. Rose ran the ropes leading to a knee strike. Baszler broke up the pin, Charlotte with a Spear on Baszler, Jax tackled Flair and Jax tagged herself in. Evans grabbed Charlotte, so Charlotte chased her to the back. Brooke tagged in, Jax missed a charge, Jax hit the turnbuckle and Brooke hit a neckbreaker for two. Brooke went up top with Jax stopping her momentum with a slam off the top. Jax picked up Brooke like a Powerbomb that she turned into a Chokeslam. Jax hit a running leg drop on Brooke for the pinfall win after about five minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Nia Jax, Shayna Baszler and Lacey Evans
Analysis: *3/4 A heel dominated match with Jax picking up the win to show she’s a huge threat to win the Royal Rumble because of course she is. No surprise that Charlotte Flair wasn’t involved with the pin there. Brooke taking the pin was the obvious outcome. I did like some of the offense by the faces, but this was about putting over Jax. If you combined the two matches it would have made sense booking wise since the faces controlled the first half and then the heels took over after the break.
There was a WWE Network Exclusive promo from Mustafa Ali featuring two promos from different venues. Mustafa Ali mentioned that Kofi Kingston had the greatest moments of his career because it was taken away from Ali, which is true. It’s also what Ali has said in the past as well. Anyway, that’s why Ali is going after Kofi Kingston, who is out with a jaw injury, so Xavier Woods keeps getting beat by Retribution guys.
Slapjack entered with Retribution for a match against Xavier Woods up next.
Xavier Woods vs. Slapjack (w/Mustafa Ali, Mace, T-Bar and Reckoning)
Woods with a back body drop on Slapjack. Woods went to the apron, Slapjack with a kick and Slapjack jumped over the top to knock down Woods by the back of the neck. Slapjack jumped off the turnbuckle, Woods moved and Woods chopped him repeatedly. Woods with a side Russian legsweep followed by a jumping side kick. Slapjack with an uppercut, Woods with a shot to the face and then Woods hit an Honor Roll clothesline for a two count. T-bar distracted Woods, Slapjack with a rollup, Woods got out of that and Woods hit the Shining Wizard knee on Slapjack for the pinfall win after three minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Xavier Woods
Analysis: ** It’s nice to see Woods pick up the win after losing to T-Bar and Mace the last two weeks. Woods is very talented in the ring. It would be cool if Woods ever got a singles run, but I don’t know if that’s happening any time soon. Slapjack is solid in the ring too. I liked how they set up the finish with Woods able to win even after distracted.
Post match, Woods left the ring and T-Bar hit him with a boot to the face that looked great. T-Bar and Mace hit a double team sitout Chokeslam on Woods. Ali was handed a chair by Slapjack and Ali teased using it, but then Ali sat on a chair in the ring.
Mustafa Ali said that Woods did all this talk about wanting to be King of the Ring, but he looks like a peasant right now. Ali said that like a real king, he will show mercy on Woods right now. Ali told Woods to deliver a message to Kofi Kingston that he heard that Kofi can’t compete in the Royal Rumble, but a replacement has been found and his name is Mustafa Ali, who smiled about it.
Analysis: That is some payback of sorts for Ali since he is replacing Kofi Kingston in the Royal Rumble just like Kofi replaced Ali two years ago when Ali was hurt. It’s not the same situation, but it does make sense for Ali’s character to be happy about it.
Riddle walked up to R-Truth with the 24/7 Title with Truth calling him the Riddler. Truth said that he thinks the Hurt Business was throwing a surprise party for him and he said that they got him “24 gold carrots” instead of “24 karat gold.” Truth told Riddle not to tell anybody about the surprise party. Truth left and Riddle said he had an idea.
VIP Lounge Hosted by MVP with The Hurt Business
Montel Vontavious Porter and his Hurt Business buddies made their entrance for MVP’s talk show. Shelton Benjamin still had his mask on when he walked onto the stage, realized it, he took it off, said “shit” and put it in his pocket. Wrestlers are wearing masks backstage, so it was just Shelton just forgetting to take it off.
Bobby Lashley talked about the success of the group as the US Champion along with Shelton and Cedric as the Raw Tag Team Champions. Shelton went to speak, but then Cedric cut him off. Bobby had a guy go into the ring to present a gold necklace to MVP that said “THB” for The Hurt Business. Alexander claimed he designed it and Benjamin interrupted that, but here’s R-Truth.
R-Truth did his entrance with the 24/7 Championship as MVP asked Truth why he was there. MVP told Truth he was not on the list. Truth said that he overheard The Hurt Business talking about a surprise party for his birthday last week. Alexander said this has nothing to do with him. Truth thought THB meant Truth Happy Birthday. Truth thought there were 24 gold carrots (not 24 karat gold). Lashley said that Truth is right and invited Truth to go in the ring to get that gift.
That led to midcard wrestlers going after Truth for the 24/7 Title. Guys like Tucker, Akira Tozawa, Humberto Carrillo and Drew Gulak showed up. They were beaten up by Lashley, Alexander and Benjamin. Riddle went into the ring on the other side of the ring and he hit a rising knee to the face of MVP and Riddle left while THB were mad at him.
Analysis: Nice gold chain for MVP. That looked awesome and was the best part of that segment. I also thought it was funny how Truth thought that THB meant “Truth Happy Birthday,” so kudos to them for making me laugh about that. The promos were fine with Alexander once again showing he is too cocky while Benjamin is frustrated with him and Lashley is trying to make things go smoothly. Riddle getting in a shot at MVP is a way to send a message before Riddle has a Gauntlet Match later in the show.
Still to come is Asuka vs. Alexa Bliss for the Raw Women’s Title.
This Friday on Smackdown: Kevin Owens and Roman Reigns continue to have their issues heading into Royal Rumble.
There was a clip from Royal Rumble 2020 that showed Edge’s surprise return. It drew such a huge pop and was an incredible moment as Edge joined the match for his first match in nine years.
Tonight, there will be an update on Edge’s health status.
There was a backstage scene with WWE Official Adam Pearce walking down a hallway with R-Truth telling Pearce he’s capable of entering the Money in the Bank Ladder Match. AJ Styles with Omos walked up to them. Styles said he would love to give Truth an opportunity while Omos said Styles was benevolent. Truth said Styles was benevolent while Truth is a Capricorn. Anyway, Pearce booked Truth against Styles to see if Truth can get in the Royal Rumble match. Truth ranted about the Taurus horoscope sign saying he had a Taurus once with Road Dogg and AJ left with Omos as Truth kept talking.
Analysis: Truth makes me laugh as usual.
There was a replay of Drew McIntyre and Goldberg’s interaction earlier in the show.
Sheamus made his entrance for a match.
There was a graphic on-screen about how WWE Network is moving to Peacock in the US in March. That was a big announcement on Monday morning. More info right here. That’s a huge deal for WWE getting a reported $1 billion for five years. We should learn more about this in the weeks ahead. I’m in Canada, so it won’t affect me at all.
John Morrison made his entrance with The Miz, who was also in his ring gear, so that tells us that Miz will be in a match too.
Sheamus vs. John Morrison (w/The Miz)
They did some mat wrestling for the first minute and Sheamus went for an armbar. They exchanged nearfalls leading to Sheamus grabbing an armbar. Morrison with forearms to the face, a kick to the ribs and a kick to the chest. Sheamus with a back body drop on Morrison along with a kick in the back. Sheamus with a forearm along with a punch to the ribs. Morrison came back with a kick to the ribs along with a kick to the upper body. Morrison with kicks to the back to keep Sheamus down. Sheamus sent Morrison into the ring followed by a running shoulder tackle and the backbreaker got a two count. Sheamus went up top, he jumped off with nothing as Morrison kicked him in the left knee. Morrison with a knee to the face while Sheamus was by the apron. Morrison with a sliding dropkick that sent Sheamus out of the ring. Morrison kicked Sheamus in the back of the left knee, then back in the ring and Morrison did a leg whip with Sheamus kicking out at one. Morrison slapped on a kneebar submission to continue working on the left knee. Morrison continued to wrench on the left knee, Sheamus broke free and hit a double axe to the face. Sheamus with a hiptoss across the ring. Morrison avoided a slam, chop block to the bad left knee and then Sheamus caught Morrison in his arms. Sheamus with a spinning side slam for a two count. Morrison to the apron, he sent Sheamus’s throat into the top rope, Sheamus with a knee to the face and Sheamus hit the White Noise slam for the pinfall win after about ten minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Sheamus
Analysis: *** This was pretty good with Sheamus selling the left knee a lot. I don’t remember the last time Sheamus won with the White Noise slam, so at least that tells the audience that he can win with that move. Morrison looked better here than he does in most matches when he’s booked like a joke. At least Morrison was able to have a hard-hitting match with Sheamus here. I like some of the stuff they did. No surprise that Sheamus won.
Post match, The Miz challenged Sheamus to a 2 on 1 handicap match. Sheamus told Miz that he is on, so that’s after the break.
The bell rang to start this match.
Sheamus vs. The Miz and John Morrison
Miz and Morrison did not have to tag in, so they were on offense right away with double team moves leading to Morrison hitting a standing SSP for a two count. Morrison with a kick to Sheamus and then Morrison with a clothesline that sent Sheamus over the top to the floor. Miz hit a running dropkick to Sheamus on the floor. Morrison jumped over the top with a cross body block to knock down Sheamus on the floor. Morrison sent Sheamus into the barricade along with a spin kick to the face. Miz with a running kick to the face of Sheamus. Phillips noted there’s no countout or disqualification in this kind of handicap match. Miz jumped off the top with the weakest looking double axehandle smash. Morrison with shots to the ribs and then kicks to the head followed by more kicks from Miz and Morrison. Sheamus sent Morrison over the top to the floor and Sheamus hit a running clothesline on Miz. Sheamus with a double axe to Miz, a powerslam to Morrison and Sheamus hit a rolling senton on Miz onto Morrison on the mat. Sheamus worked over Miz with forearms to the chest and then Sheamus with the forearms to the chest of Morrison. Sheamus went up top with a double team clothesline on both guys on the floor. That was great. Sheamus avoided a Skull Crushing Finale from Miz and he hit a Brogue Kick on Morrison, but then Miz capitalized with a Skull Crushing Finale on Sheamus for the pinfall after about eight minutes.
Winners by pinfall: The Miz and John Morrison
Analysis: **3/4 This was very competitive for a handicap match. I think these kinds of matches are hard to do. I liked the way Sheamus sold that knee injury and fatigue throughout the match. Morrison and Miz don’t really win regular matches, but it does make sense for them to win in a 2 on 1 match like this.
There was a backstage scene with Lacey Evans in the locker room with Ric Flair teaching her wrestling holds. Charlotte Flair walked into the room telling Lacey to leave the room, so Lacey did. Ric said that just because Charlotte is a big star now doesn’t mean that there’s no place for Ric. Charlotte ripped on Ric for spending all of his money on everyone except family. Charlotte said that when he was young, this was cute. Charlotte said that Ric was going from legend to old man and she had no problem saying it to his face. Charlotte said that she is not the bad guy. Charlotte was about to leave the room as Lacey hit her with a cheap shot punch to the face and a kick. Evans left with Ric while Charlotte was down in the room.
Analysis: I think this was lame. This storyline isn’t working that well in terms of making Charlotte a babyface. Yes, we should feel sad that her dad is spending more time with Lacey Evans than her, but I don’t think it’s very interesting. Some bad dialogue doesn’t help either. Just make Charlotte a heel, WWE. She doesn’t like being a face anyway, nor is she as effective as a performer.
R-Truth was in the ring for the 24/7 Title. Phillips congratulated former WWE 24/7 Champion Rob Gronkowski of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for making the Super Bowl, which will be in Tampa Bay just like WrestleMania.
AJ Styles entered with the big man Omos by his side.
AJ Styles vs. R-Truth
Styles with a kick to the head and then a whip into the turnbuckle. Styles attacked the left leg, Truth with a punch and Styles came back with a backbreaker. Styles said he was going to do this in the Royal Rumble match, then Truth reversed it and he tossed Styles over the top to the floor. Styles back in with a trip sending Truth into the apron and Truth was scared of Omos standing there. Truth avoided a forearm attempt and Truth hit a spinning slam. Truth did the Five Knuckle Shuffle from his “childhood hero” R-Truth. Styles avoided a scissors kick, Styles got out of an AA attempt and Styles slapped on the Calf Crusher for the submission win after about three minutes.
Winner by submission: AJ Styles
Analysis: *1/4 The winning ways continue for Styles. It has been a theme for a few weeks with Styles winning convincing matches against others on Raw to show how good he is. I’m fine with that booking. There were some funny moments with Truth in the match too.
Asuka was shown getting ready for her Raw Women’s Title match later in the show.
They showed Randy Orton’s promo with the mask on his face. This was on at the start of last week’s show.
Analysis: Raw is three hours long. They have time to kill. I would rather see new, fresh content, but this is WWE. They like to replay things.
Alexa Bliss did a promo from Alexa’s Playground set that was set up in the backstage interview area. Bliss said that last week was so much fun and Bliss laughed at the sight of Randy with a mask on his face. Bliss tagged to the empty swing seat behind her because he has an imaginary friend. Bliss said she wanted to have fun with Asuka on her playground, but Asuka didn’t want to play nice. That led to the main event with Bliss no selling Asuka, changing her look to a darker image and hitting Sister Abigail neckbreaker to win. Bliss said she can’t wait to see him again so she can thank “him.” Bliss told her imaginary friend that they are right. Bliss said tonight she can win a shiny new toy. Bliss said just like last week, she doesn’t feel like playing nice while showing her “Pain” glove. Bliss sang a nursery rhyme and camera zoomed in on her face saying “LET ME IN” to signal The Fiend’s presence. That was it.
Analysis: It’s a unique gimmick for Bliss and she is doing well in terms of becoming this strange character. I like the promos for the most part.
Riddle entered for a Gauntlet Match against three Hurt Business guys.
This is a Gauntlet Match with Riddle facing three Hurt Business members. If Riddle wins, then he gets a US Title match against champion Shelton Benjamin.
Gauntlet Match #1: Riddle vs. Shelton Benjamin
Riddle was aggressive with forearms, then he landed on his feet after a hip toss and a kick to the face. Benjamin blocked a knee strike leading to a spinebuster for two. Benjamin put Riddle on the top rope and hit a rising knee to the ribs to knock Riddle to the floor. Benjamin with a body slam for two. Benjamin grounded Riddle with a chinlock, then Riddle broke free and Benjamin hit him with a knee to the ribs. Benjamin with another running knee to the face for two. Riddle fought out of a submission attempt, he slapped on a triangle choke and then Benjamin countered, but Riddle kneed Benjamin in the head. Riddle got a rollup on Benjamin, Alexander distracted, Benjamin was on top and then Benjamin complained about Alexander. Riddle capitalized with a rollup where he sat on top of Benjamin with a Victory Roll for the pinfall on Benjamin after five minutes.
Riddle defeated Shelton Benjamin by pinfall
Gauntlet Match #2: Riddle vs. MVP
Benjamin yelled at Alexander for costing him the match while MVP tried to keep things peaceful. Riddle tripped up MVP, he slapped on a kneebar submission on MVP and MVP tapped out within about 20 seconds to give Riddle the win.
Riddle defeated MVP by pinfall
Cedric Alexander stepped in the ring for the third match after a break.
Gauntlet Match #3: Riddle vs. Cedric Alexander
Alexander was in control with a gutbuster for a two count. Riddle came back with a running forearm, but there was Alexander with an excellent dropkick for a two count. Alexander slapped on an abdominal stretch with Riddle getting the ropes to break the hold. Alexander slapped on a waistlock with Riddle breaking free with elbows. Riddle lifted up Alexander, who countered a slam attempt into a DDT for two. Riddle avoided a kick, then he hit a Pele Kick and two forearm smashes. Riddle with an Exploder Suplex and Alexander avoided moves while getting the knees up on a Broton attempt by Riddle. Alexander with a spin kick to the gut, but then Riddle caught him with a German Suplex. Alexander came back with a brainbuster for two with MVP getting mad about it telling Riddle to cradle his head on the pin attempt like in amateur wrestling. Alexander slowly went up top, he jumped off, Riddle moved and Riddle slapped on the Triangle Choke submission, Alexander with a Powerbomb and Riddle held on. Riddle got a hold of Alexander, flipped him over and Riddle sat on top of Alexander for the pinfall win after 17 minutes.
Riddle defeated Cedric Alexander by pinfall
Winner: Riddle wins the Gauntlet Match
Analysis: *** This was booked well with some quality in-ring action with Riddle showing off a lot of his skills since he’s great at selling and he has a lot of moves in his arsenal. Riddle can apply a lot of different submissions and his strikes look believable as well. It was not a shock that Benjamin, MVP and Alexander lost their matches although I like how Riddle won them with different kinds of movies instead of using a finisher. That just shows how talented Riddle is that he can beat wrestlers using several different moves.
After the match, Riddle celebrated the win on the ramp. While Riddle was celebrating the win, the Hurt Business music played and Bobby Lashley appeared in a suit with a cheap attack on Riddle. Lashley slapped on the Hurt Lock submission and tossed Riddle into the barricade to stand tall.
Analysis: I think Riddle should probably win the title from Lashley at this point. It’s time to get that title on Riddle.
There was a video that aired from Backlash last June when Edge lost to Randy Orton in the “Greatest Wrestling Match Ever.” Edge tore his triceps in the match and he hasn’t had a match since then. Edge is up next.
This Saturday on FS1 on WWE Backstage, the crew of Renee Young, Booker and Paige will host the show. They will also announce what woman will start the women’s Royal Rumble match and what man will enter Royal Rumble at #30. I’d rather not know either of those things, but I guess they are telling us.
There was another mention of WWE Network moving to Peacock streaming service in the US while showing media outlets covering the story. It begins on March 18.
The announcers ran down some Royal Rumble matches: WWE Championship: Drew McIntyre vs. Bill Goldberg, 30-Man Royal Rumble and 30-Woman Royal Rumble.
Let’s Hear from Edge
There was a promo from Edge sitting in a WWE ring that I think is at his home. Edge talked about how tomorrow is not guaranteed. Edge said that you have to pick yourself up, keep walking and keep moving. Edge spoke about how ten years ago after WrestleMania 27 he was the reigning World Heavyweight Champion. Within a week, he had to forfeit that championship and his career, the only career he ever wanted…his dream. Edge spoke about how when he told his mom that he wanted to be a wrestler, his mom said “just go do it.” Edge said that those simple words were the jet fuel that lit the fire in his gut and made him fight for nine years to get his career back and get his dream back. Then at Backlash, Randy Orton cut my triceps. Edge said it was a reminder that everything can be taken away just like that. Edge said that you can’t live in that spot because you got to fight. Edge said he knows what his mom would say: “Adam, you just gotta just go do it.” Edge said he’s entering the Royal Rumble. Edge said that he knows the window is closing for him every day, so he needs to take back what he never lost…what is his. Edge said that at some point, you have to fight to make that dream a reality. Edge said that you have to fight to make this far-fetched dream come true. Edge said that if you’ve been with him on this ride from the Brood until now then you know he’s gotta try. Edge said a Henry Ford quote about how “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t….you’re right.” Edge looked into the camera saying he thinks he can. Edge: “I’ll see you at the Rumble.”
Analysis: That was excellent. I’m glad Edge is back. I didn’t know if it was going to be advertised beforehand or if he’d be a surprise. I can understand if people want to complain about it because they would prefer that it’s a surprise, but I think since it was a surprise last year, WWE probably felt like they should advertise Edge for the match this year. I’m fine with it either way. I don’t expect Edge to win the Royal Rumble, but I am looking forward to seeing him back in the ring. I have missed him since Edge is a local guy to me and one of my favorite wrestlers ever.
Asuka was shown walking backstage with her two titles for her main event match up next.
This week on Raw Talk the guests are Charlotte Flair, Bobby Lashley with MVP and Elias with Jaxson Ryker.
Asuka made her entrance as the Raw Women’s Champion and she is also one half of the Raw Women’s Tag Team Champions. Alexa Bliss entered the ring to the Firefly Fun House theme song.
Raw Women’s Championship: Asuka vs. Alexa Bliss
Asuka tossed Bliss across the ring two times in a row. Asuka slapped on an armbar on the left arm with Bliss smiling while she was in the hold. Asuka caught herself on the turnbuckle and hit a dropkick off the middle ropes. Asuka went for a hip attack against the ropes, but Bliss moved and Bliss kicked Asuka out of the ring. While Asuka was on the floor, the camera panned over to Bliss in the ring with Bliss on a rocking horse as if she was a child on a ride. That bizarre moment led to a break.
The show returned with Asuka in control with kicks because the rocking horse was out of the ring. Bliss avoided a dropkick, then Bliss hit a knee drop and a low dropkick for two. Bliss sent Asuka into the turnbuckle followed by kicks to the face. Bliss slapped on a chinlock with a smile on her face and then Bliss did a hair pull to slam Asuka into the mat. Bliss with a weak chinlock with more smiling, Asuka with elbows to the ribs and Asuka kicked Bliss in the face. Asuka with a shoulder tackle, then a rising knee and Asuka hit a hip attack followed by a kick to the ribs. Asuka with a German Suplex along with a running kick for two. Asuka charged towards Bliss, then there was music that played and it was Alexa Bless dressed as the Goddess against the turnbuckle. Asuka didn’t know how to react while Bliss acted like she was disoriented. Asuka charged, Bliss avoided it and Bliss sent Asuka into the turnbuckle. Bliss went to the turnbuckle, the lights went out in the building and Bliss was back in her darker look like last week with the black lipstick and shirt. The referee was still in the ring while Asuka was stunned by this. Asuka with a knee to the face of Bliss, who no sold it. Asuka went for the Asuka Lock, but Bliss got out of it and Bliss overpowered Asuka. Bliss slapped on the Mandible Claw submission on the mouth of Asuka and then Randy Orton was in the ring with burns on his face. Orton grabbed Bliss and hit her with an RKO. There was no bell and the referee didn’t call anything. The match went about 12 minutes.
Match Result: No Contest? (Asuka Remains Raw Women’s Champion)
Analysis: **1/2 They told a different kind of story with Bliss changing her look three times in the match. She was the happy Bliss character that’s like a child, then the old version of Bliss and then the newer, darker version of Bliss that was able to overpower the Asuka Lock to nearly win the match. When you have no fans, you can stop, start and edit this stuff any way you want, so that’s what WWE did. Do I like it? Not really, but at least WWE is trying something different. I can respect that. Orton showing up to cost Bliss isn’t that much of a surprise based on the history. A man hitting an RKO on a woman isn’t that common. It just seems fitting for this rivalry.
Randy Orton, with the burned face, was in the ring over a fallen Bliss and that was the end of the show.
Analysis: I think Alexa Bliss might be a good choice to win the Women’s Royal Rumble. I’m not saying she’s my official pick. I have to think about it and save the pick for our Royal Rumble preview on Saturday. I’m just saying based on how Bliss has been booked, she might win. I think Bianca Belair is another top contender. Somebody else could emerge too.
Three Stars of the Show
- Asuka/Alexa Bliss
Sheamus did a good job too.
5.5 out of 10
Last week: 5
2021 Average: 5.31
I thought Raw was more of the same this week. A lot of average level matches, promos were okay and a few things that were mildly entertaining, but it was tough to get through it all without being bored. I did like that promo from Edge letting us know he’ll be in the Royal Rumble match. The McIntyre/Goldberg segment was about as simple as can be, but I liked it.
Alexa Bliss doing her “Three Faces of Bliss” thing in the main event with three different looks is certainly unique. Some fans might hate it while others will love it. I’m somewhere in the middle while thinking that from a performance standpoint, she is doing well. Changing into three different outfits for a match can only be done with no fans, so WWE is using the situation to their advantage. Anyway, Randy Orton (with his burned face) got some payback on Bliss with an RKO and that prevented Bliss from beating Asuka for the Raw Women’s Title. That’s probably for the best although I’d say Bliss is a favorite to win the Rumble match.
I would like to see better matches on Raw. They have the talent to do it. It’s just that some of the match finishes suck because they overthink everything too much. Keep it simple. That’s for the best. I don’t know if this show got people more excited for Royal Rumble. Maybe a bit, but not that much.
The Royal Rumble takes place this Sunday, January 31. Here’s the updated lineup:
30-Men Royal Rumble Match – Announced entrants are: Edge, Jeff Hardy, Jey Uso, Cesaro, The Miz, Otis, Bobby Lashley, Randy Orton, AJ Styles, Daniel Bryan, Sami Zayn, Dolph Ziggler, Big E, Shinsuke Nakamura, Sheamus, John Morrison, Mustafa Ali and more.
30-Women Royal Rumble Match – Announced entrants are: Shayna Baszler, Alexa Bliss, Peyton Royce, Bianca Belair, Bayley, WWE Women’s Tag Team Champion Charlotte Flair, Nia Jax, Mandy Rose, Dana Brooke, Ruby Riott, Liv Morgan, Tamina and more.
WWE Universal Championship Last Man Standing Match: Roman Reigns (c) vs. Kevin Owens
WWE Championship: Drew McIntyre (c) vs. Bill Goldberg
Smackdown Women’s Championship: Sasha Banks (c) vs. Carmella
Women’s Tag Team Championships: Charlotte Flair and Asuka (c) vs. Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax
From WWE: Don’t miss the wildly unpredictable Royal Rumble Match, Sunday, Jan. 31, at 7 ET/4 PT, streaming live on the award-winning WWE Network!
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