Welcome to the WWE Raw Deal review for the first episode of Raw in 2021. There’s no more NFL regular season meaning no more Monday Night Football to compete with WWE (until September), so I’m back to watching Raw live most Monday nights again. There is the college football championship game next week with Alabama facing Ohio State that should get a lot of attention, but this week WWE isn’t dealing with a big football audience opposite Raw. This week’s show is a “Legends Night” episode where some stars from WWE’s past will be there. Plus, they’re putting on a big match with Drew McIntyre defending the WWE Title against Keith Lee. I think it’s a smart strategy to put on a WWE Title match on the first Raw of the year. It makes the show feel like a big deal. Also, one more plug for my 2020 WWE Johnny Awards column from last Wednesday. It was a lot of fun to write and I thank you all for the feedback.
From the WWE ThunderDome at Tropicana Field in Tampa Bay, Florida, this is the Raw Deal for episode #1441 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 a Hulkamania phone/device on the ground with Hulk Hogan talking about how it’s the H-Phone. Hogan picked up the H-Phone asking what are you gonna do when Legends Night and Raw runs wild on you, brother? I’ve never heard that question before.
The Miz was in the ring with John Morrison with Miz holding the Money in the Bank briefcase. They were in their wrestling gear. Miz said that Raw is jam-packed tonight while talking about matches like Drew McIntyre vs. Keith Lee in a WWE Championship match, plus Jeff Hardy vs. Randy Orton. John Morrison went over a list of some of the legends that are there with Morrison also included Miz in the list of legends. Miz said that tonight is not only Legends Night, it’s the first Raw of the year. Miz said that WWE management came to their senses by giving the Money in the Bank contract back to him. Miz and Morrison were optimistic that this would be their year.
The New Day duo of Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods made their entrance also in their wrestling gear. Kofi and Xavier welcomed Miz for being on their new show: New Day Talks. They also changed up the WWE microphones to put them properly instead of the “M” style that Miz uses. Kofi said that Xavier was like the bandleader. Kofi said that Miz and Morrison were not invited to their cookout. They kept on saying silly things about food and Kofi said “CORRECT” a lot like Miz/Morrison do a lot. Woods did it too. Miz said this was hosting practice for when Xavier bombs on G4 and Xavier/Kofi said that was incorrect. Kofi asked Miz if he had any New Year’s Resolutions. Morrison said he had three including graduating from a chef school and taking a picture every day. Kofi asked out of all the legends there tonight, who would you want to hang out with? Morrison said Tatanka while Miz was frustrated.
Miz freaked out on them when they wanted to have a cooking show. Miz said that this is their show…and here’s Teddy Long.
Teddy Long was on the stage saying that Miz and Morrison will face The Undertaker. Adam Pearce showed up telling Long that he can’t do that. Long said that Miz and Morrison will face New Day in a match up next.
Analysis: Those promos from the New Day guys were silly, but also got annoying by the end of it because it dragged on too long. Morrison was funny because he was actually answering the questions while Miz was frustrated by it. I liked the Teddy Long appearance to set up a tag team match since that was something he was known to do as the Smackdown GM along with putting a heel in a match with The Undertaker. That was funny at least. The reality is WWE has been booking the same matches using this same method (wrestlers dressed in their gear doing a promo leading to a match) for about 20 years now. They are set in their ways.
The bell rang to begin the match. The announcers on Raw are the usual team of Tom Phillips, Samoa Joe and Byron Saxton.
The New Day (Xavier Woods and Kofi Kingston) vs. The Miz and John Morrison
Woods and Kingston hit a running double team bulldog on Morrison, then some more double team moves by New Day with Woods hitting fist drop. Morrison kicked Woods in the ribs to create some space with Miz tagging in with a stomp on the ribs of Woods. There was a rollup from Woods on Miz for a two count. Kingston tagged in with a forearm on Miz leading to a two count. Miz with a shoulder tackle on Kofi, then Kingston did a couple of leapfrogs and they each avoided finishing moves. Kingston with a springboard cross body block off the top for two. Woods was back in, Kingston stomped on Miz in a comedy spot and Woods got a two count. Morrison was back in, he missed a Shooting Star Press, Woods moved and Kingston was back in with a low dropkick. Morrison with a monkey flip, Kingston landed on his feet and after some booty shaking, Kingston with a kick to the face. Kingston with a monkey flip with Morrison doing a flip leading to Morrison going to the floor. New Day knocked Miz out of the ring and Kofi hit a dive over the top on both opponents. Woods played the trombone as the show went to break.
The match returned with Morrison hitting Kingston with a kick to the side of the face and Miz tagged in with a boot to the face. They replied the kick that looked good. Miz and Morrison did a double team gutbuster by driving Kofi’s ribs into their knees. Morrison drove Kingston into the turnbuckle followed by Miz hitting his corner clothesline as the heels continued to work over Kingston. Kofi kicked Miz away leading to the SOS slam. Woods got the hot tag against Morrison with Woods hitting two clotheslines, then a jumping kick to the face and Woods tossed Miz out of the ring. Morrison with a forearm to the face of Woods, but Woods came back with a spinning forearm of his own. Woods jumped onto the back of Morrison by the ropes, Kingston with a chop on Miz and Morrison got a rollup on Woods for two because Kofi shoved Morrison’s feet off the ropes when John tried to cheat. Woods tripped up Morrison leading to Woods bouncing off the ropes with a Shining Wizard knee to the face for the pinfall win after about 13 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: The New Day (Xavier Woods and Kofi Kingston)
Analysis: *** It was a pretty good tag team match between two experienced teams. New Day controlled the first half of the match, then Miz/Morrison worked over Kingston for most of the second half and Woods made the hot tag leading to the win. I’m a bit surprised that it wasn’t a double team move rather than a running knee by Woods, but it’s still a cool looking move. It gives New Day a much-needed win while Miz/Morrison lose most of their matches anyway.
There was a replay of the end of last week’s Raw when Orton was about to light a match after Alexa Bliss requested it and we didn’t see what happened because the show ended.
Randy Orton was interviewed backstage by Charly Caruso. Orton said that the voices told him to do it last week, but he couldn’t do it. Orton said that when you face The Fiend, something changes, so he changed. Orton said he showed Alexa Bliss compassion and mercy while realizing that he hates himself for it. Orton said that there are no boundaries, so he’s capable of anything. Orton wondered if he directed that newfound hatred for himself towards somebody else. Charly mentioned The Fiend, but Orton said that he didn’t want to talk about The Fiend anymore because he’s going to find some legends. Orton said he’ll remind them why he is the Legend Killer. Orton had a sick smile on his face.
Analysis: Orton won my WWE Johnny Award for best heel for a reason. He was great at being a jerk last year and it continues into 2021. At least he explained that he didn’t light Alexa Bliss on fire. It only took WWE one week to explain it to us.
There was a clip of New Day and 24/7 Champion R-Truth as part of Tik Tok’s New Year’s livestream from a few days ago. Referee John Cone showed up, so that’s when Angel Garza snuck up behind Truth and did the ROLLUP OF DEATH~! on Truth to win the 24/7 Title.
Angel Garza was shown backstage with the red rose in his hand as he looked over to Alicia Fox. Garza was about to give Fox the rose, but Fox rambled on about the TikTok guy with the cranberry juice and left. Garza kept on walking to where he found legends like Tatanka (in full gear) and Sgt. Slaughter along with one of my favorites Mickie James. Garza gave Mickie the rose, but then Slaughter took it, smelled it and called Garza a “maggot” so Garza left.
Analysis: That’s how WWE tends to book these legends shows with backstage appearances like that. It’s usually done to generate a few laughs, so Slaughter calling Garza a “maggot” accomplishes that. Mickie may still be wrestling in WWE too, but I’m not sure how often that will be.
AJ Styles entered with Omos. Elias entered as the opponent with Jaxson Ryker joining him. These guys wrestled last week with Styles beating Elias.
AJ Styles (w/Omos) vs. Elias (w/Jaxson Ryker)
Styles grabbed a headlock, but then Elias rocked him with a back elbow to the face. Elias with a whip into the turnbuckle followed by a clothesline. Styles with forearms to the face, then a kick to the chest and Elias came back with a stun gun where he sent Styles into the top rope. Elias sent Styles into the turnbuckle leading to Styles going to the apron and Elias hit a forearm to knock Styles off the apron to the floor.
Elias remained in control with punches while Styles was on the turnbuckle, Styles slipped out and sent Elias into the turnbuckle. Styles does that spot in most of his matches. Elias and Styles got into a slugfest, Elias ducked a punch attempt and Elias hit a sitout Chokeslam for a two count. Good move by Elias there. Elias went to the turnbuckle, Styles went to the other corner of the ring, Styles hit Elias and went for a top rope move, but Elias hit a rising knee for a two count. Good nearfall there. Styles with a headscissors that sent Elias into the turnbuckle followed by a brainbuster. Styles hit the Styles Clash for the pinfall win after about ten minutes.
Winner by pinfall: AJ Styles
Analysis: **1/2 A decent match to put Styles over Elias again just like last week. Elias got a couple of good nearfalls with the sitout Chokeslam along with the jumping knee counter, but Styles was able to kick out. Styles finishing Elias with a Styles Clash was a decisive way to end it. These heel vs. heel matches are tough to get into sometimes. I’m not sure why we needed the same match as last week, but the post match angle might be why they did it.
After the match, Ryker went into the ring with the guitar, he swung the guitar towards Styles, but Omos got into the ring and kicked the guitar to save Styles. Ryker was stunned by it as he backed away. That was an impressive kick that destroyed the guitar. Elias and Ryker left through the back part of the ring while Styles stood in the ring with Omos.
Analysis: They are slowly using Omos more. That was a good spot to show off how powerful he is by breaking a guitar with one kick while also saving Styles.
An interview was shown from earlier in the day with Women’s Tag Team Champion Charlotte Flair being interviewed by Sarah Schreiber. Flair said that she wasn’t a favorite to win the 2020 Royal Rumble, so she’s going to enter the 2021 Royal Rumble and defy the odds again.
Analysis: Flair is always a favorite to win every match. To say she was not a favorite is a bit silly. Fans might she doesn’t “need” to win, but it might happen again because I can see WWE wanting to do Flair vs. Asuka at WrestleMania again. I would prefer it if somebody else wins, though.
Charlotte Flair entered with the Women’s Tag Team Title around her waist and her legendary father Ric Flair joined her at ringside.
Riddle went up to Big Show, who was sitting down and Riddle wondered if Show ever thought about being Big Bro, so Show said: “Big Bro” like the start of his theme song. Riddle left. Randy Orton walked up to show telling Show that his career is over thanks to Orton. Show said that he can compete any time he wants to. Orton put his hand on Show’s chest under his throat. Show said that he was proud to be there on Legends Night. Orton said that Big Show doesn’t have the guts to do something to him, so Orton will be on his way.
Analysis: Big Show isn't officially retired. While he is in his late 40s and isn't active anymore, there are likely going to be a few more Big Show matches. I just don't know when or against when. I'm not sure if they will do Orton vs. Show again.
Asuka made her entrance as the other half of the Women’s Tag Team Champions.
Peyton Royce and Lacey Evans made their entrance as a team that doesn’t always get along. There was a scripted pre-match promo from Peyton and Lacey with Lacey wearing a “Lacey the Legend” hat.
Asuka and Charlotte Flair (w/Ric Flair) vs. Peyton Royce and Lacey Evans
This was not for the Women’s Tag Team Titles. Charlotte took down Royce, then Evans tagged in and Flair took her down easily as well. Charlotte chased after Evans, Royce made the tag, Evans pulled down Flair by the hair and Royce worked over Flair with punches. Charlotte with a forearm, but then Royce avoided a rollup and kicked Charlotte. Asuka tagged in, Charlotte hit a backbreaker to Evans and Asuka hit a missile dropkick on Evans. Asuka with a hip attack on Evans, then Asuka with a shoulder tackle on legal woman Royce and a bulldog/clothesline combo by Asuka got a two count. Asuka to the turnbuckle, Royce decked her with a forearm leading to Asuka bumping to the floor and then Evans was flirting with Ric on the floor. Charlotte slapped Evans in the face, so Evans tackled Charlotte and they got into a fight as the show went to break. They were telling a story that Evans was being flirty towards Ric, so Charlotte didn’t like that.
The show returned with Evans grounding Asuka in the heel corner. Royce tagged in with a whip that sent Asuka into the turnbuckle. Royce with a hair toss across the ring on Asuka. Evans with a snapmare into a chinlock followed by Evans sending Asuka’s head into the mat repeatedly. Asuka with forearms to Royce, Asuka with a kick and a running clothesline. Charlotte got the hot tag against Evans with Flair hitting a huge forearm after she kicked Royce off the apron. Charlotte with a knee drop to the leg of Evans. Charlotte with the chops like her daddy, Evans sent into the corner, Royce tagged in and Charlotte hit overhead suplexes on both women. Charlotte went up top and she jumped off with a moonsault on both women on the mat. Asuka tagged herself in and hit a running kick on Royce for two. Asuka with the running double knees and Charlotte tagged in with Natural Selection for two as Evans broke up the pin. Evans hit a neckbreaker on Asuka by the apron and then Evans crawled towards Ric on the floor. Evans grabbed Ric’s tie to flirt with him and then Charlotte kicked Evans off the apron to the floor. When Charlotte bounced off the ropes, Ric “accidentally” tripped up Charlotte and then Payton hooked the arms of Charlotte to pin her to win the match after about 12 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Peyton Royce and Lacey Evans
Analysis: **3/4 The match was okay with the champions losing non-title, which is common WWE booking. I just didn’t expect it to happen with a strong babyface championship team like Charlotte and Asuka losing to a team like Royce/Evans. Ric Flair tripping Charlotte to cost her the match was a surprise although the story was that Lacey was flirting with Ric, so Ric bought into it and helped Lacey win. I guess this will lead to a title shot soon.
Post match, Lacey Evans kissed Ric on the cheek as if she was thanking him for helping her team. Charlotte left the ring, went up to Ric and told him to stay out of her business. Charlotte told Ric: "Stay out of my business...again." Ric left on his own looking sad.
Analysis: Ric didn’t say sorry or anything to his daughter. Charlotte was pissed off about what he did.
Drew McIntyre was shown getting ready for the WWE Title match. Sheamus showed up to tell Drew to give him an extra kick for him. Drew said he would. Sheamus wished Drew good luck. Hulk Hogan and Jimmy Hart showed up with Hulk saying he was a big fan of both guys. Hulk said that he was so proud of how well Drew has held the WWE flag high during these crazy times. Hulk said that Drew reminds Hulk of himself. Drew thanked Hulk of himself. Drew wondered if Sheamus reminded them of Jimmy. Sheamus didn’t like that and said that neither of them are funny while adding that he will see Drew and Hulk for drinks. Jimmy used the megaphone to yell at Sheamus to annoy him. Drew and Hulk did a Hogan style promo about Drew’s match later on Raw.
Analysis: It's a way for Hulk to endorse Drew as the current top guy.
Still to come: Drew McIntyre vs. Keith Lee for the WWE Title and Riddle faces Bobby Lashley up next.
PLUG TIME: The month of January means that it is Royal Rumble time in WWE land, so I’m re-posting my reviews of every Royal Rumble event in WWE history. I’ll post them all before this year’s event on January 31. I’m also planning on a couple of columns/list articles before this year’s Royal Rumble as well. The reviews I have posted so far are 1988, which was not a PPV but it’s the first Royal Rumble so I’m including it. That was won by “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan. After, it was onto Royal Rumble 1989 (won by Big John Studd), Royal Rumble 1990 (won by Hulk Hogan while he was WWF Champion), Royal Rumble 1991 (won by Hulk Hogan again) and Royal Rumble 1992 (won by Ric Flair to become WWF Champion for the first time) that had what is arguably the greatest Royal Rumble match of them all. I’ll be posting at least one review per day and sometimes two per day, so keep visiting TJRWrestling daily to check out the reviews. I’m proud of the fact that I have detailed reviews of every Royal Rumble. Thanks for the support!
There was a commercial for the Royal Rumble in four weeks time on January 31.
Riddle made his entrance first. Bobby Lashley was next as the US Champion with his Hurt Business buddy MVP by his side. Riddle attacked Lashley with punches before the bell rang, so the referee stopped Riddle and then started the match.
Bobby Lashley (w/MVP) vs. Riddle
This is not for Lashley’s US Title. Riddle went for an armbar, but Lashley picked him up and dropped Riddle with a slam. Riddle managed to get a hold of Lashley’s arm again and sent Lashley over the top to the floor. Lashley managed to get Riddle on his shoulders, then charged towards the ring post and Riddle flipped around to sell the bump as if he hit his head into the ring post. It was more like Riddle’s hands hitting the ring post to make the noise.
The match returned with Lashley remaining in control with a chinlock. During the break, Lashley hit a huge spinebuster on Riddle as well. Lashley with a back elbow followed by a clothesline. Lashley worked over Riddle against the turnbuckle, then a whip across the ring and Lashley sent Riddle into the turnbuckle two times. Riddle with an overhead kick to the back of the head, then two forearms and Lashley blocked a suplex attempt. Riddle landed on his feet to counter a slam, then a PK kick and a broton slam for two. Riddle with a final flash knee only got a one count. MVP on the apron to distract, Riddle up top, Lashley punched Riddle and Lashley hit a Dominator slam in the middle of the ring. Lashley doesn’t do that all the time as Phillips noted that it was a move used by Ron Simmons. Lashley slapped on the Hurt Lock submission, but they did a spot where the referee had to avoid the feet of Riddle while he was fighting the hold and the referee said he didn’t see the tapout. Riddle got the ROLLUP OF DEATH~! on Lashley for the pinfall win after 10 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Riddle
Analysis: **1/4 The match was mostly Lashley on offense before getting screwed out of the win because the referee missed the tapout. It’s a different kind of finish to give a babyface winner a win that he shouldn’t have had. I just think it’s silly that Riddle can’t put Lashley away with a running knee that rocks Lashley, but the ROLLUP OF DEATH~! is so deadly that it can win a match. Anyway, this was the second straight match where a champion (or champions in the previous match) lost to build up a future title match.
Mark Henry was shown backstage using something to help his left leg after some surgery that he had. Ricochet talked to Henry, who gave him encouraging words about continuing to fight. Orton told Henry that he’ll be in the Royal Rumble and wondered if Mark would be in it while pointing out that Henry showed up on a scooter. Henry said hopefully it goes fast enough to get away from Randy’s ass. Orton wondered if they could reminisce about the good old days when Henry would run with the Hall of Pain and give Orton the World’s Strongest Slam all the time. Orton said he owed Henry a lot of receipts. Orton wondered if Mark wanted to pedal his ass out of here or should Orton drop him on his ass. Orton said that he’s giving him a pass, so Henry went away on his scooter.
Analysis: Henry won his only World Title from Orton in 2011, so there is a lot of history there. This also made Orton look like a jerk that was disrespectful towards Henry, who is dealing with some sort of foot injury. I did like having Henry telling Ricochet to keep fighting because you should use legends to interact with the current guys.
This week on NXT is New Year’s Evil with a night of great matches. Finn Balor will defend the NXT Title against Kyle O’Reilly, Damian Priest vs. Karrion Kross and Rhea Ripley vs. Raquel Gonzalez, plus some other good matches. It should be an awesome show on Wednesday. It’s going to feel like a Takeover style show, which is great. Check out my review on TJRWrestling on Thursday.
There were replays shown of the controversial finish to the Lashley/Riddle match.
Bobby Lashley and MVP were shown backstage with Charly Caruso talking about the controversy of the last match. MVP said that Riddle tapped out and he quit. Lashley said that Riddle tapped out. Lashley said if he gets his hands on Riddle again, he will punish his punk ass. Lashley and MVP left looking pissed off.
Mandy Rose made her entrance. A clip was shown of last week when Shayna Baszler beat Dana Brooke and then attacked Rose after the match. I figured Rose would get Baszler this week. However, that didn't actually happen.
Shayna Baszler attacked Mandy Rose in the aisle. Baszler whipped Rose into the aisle repeatedly. Dana Brooke came bouncing out to the ringside area and she checked on Rose. Brooke went into the ring to tell Baszler she will take her on.
Shayna Baszler vs. Dana Brooke
Baszler kicked Brooked in the legs repeatedly. Brooke tossed Baszler out of the ring. Brooke lifted up Baszler, but Baszler went for the Kirifuda Clutch and then Brooke flipped over and she was on top of Baszler for the pinfall win after one minute because Baszler didn’t let go of the submission hold.
Winner by pinfall: Dana Brooke
Analysis: 1/2* That’s a result I didn’t expect. Baszler lost because she kept holding onto the submission hold. A rare singles win for Brooke.
Post match, Baszler held the Kirifuda Clutch on Brooke and then Rose showed up with a running knee to Baszler. Brooke and Rose hit a double team flapjack on Baszler, who rolled out of the ring to end it.
Analysis: I like that Mandy and Dana are booked as a cohesive team that likes being together as a tag team. I also think they’re both gorgeous, so that helps them. Now they just need to pick up some wins.
There was a backstage scene with Ric Flair talking to Irwin R. Schyster and Molly Holly. Randy Orton showed up, so Irwin and Molly left. Orton said maybe Ric should walk him down to the ring for Randy’s match with Jeff Hardy and Ric won’t mess up like he did in Charlotte’s match. Orton didn't seem genuine about it. Ric said he’ll never do that again. Ric reminded Randy of all the things he taught him, Randy said that he remembered all of it. Randy reminded Ric of when he punted Flair. Randy ripped on Ric for not being the man that he used to be because all Ric is now is a pathetic, old man. Orton backed away while boos were piped into the arena.
Analysis: A lot of segments with Orton being a jerk to the legends on this show. It works in terms of getting heat. Poor Ric Flair couldn’t even reply to Orton’s insults there.
There was a replay shown of last week when Keith Lee beat Sheamus to earn a WWE Title shot this week.
Riddle talked to Keith Lee, who was warming up. Riddle said he beat Bobby, so now Keith gets to beat Drew McIntyre to be WWE Champion with Riddle saying “new year, new cheap” as his message to Lee. Keith said thanks for the pep talk and Riddle left.
Randy Orton made his entrance at the end of hour two. Orton did a very slow walk down to the ring. Jeff Hardy was next as the opponent. This is a rivalry that went back to the late 2000s and they also had a Hell in a Cell match a few years ago as well.
Randy Orton vs. Jeff Hardy
Orton locked up with Hardy against the turnbuckle, Orton with a thumb to the eye and then some stomps to the body. Orton sent Hardy out of the ring with Orton sending Jeff face-first into the hood of the announce table. Orton with a belly to back slam/suplex onto the hood of the announce table and back in the ring for a two count for Orton. There was a hard whip into the turnbuckle by Orton, but Hardy came back with a clothesline. Orton took control again with a kick to the chest followed by a stomp on the hands. Hardy came back with a neckbreaker. Hardy went up top, but Orton bailed to the floor and Hardy jumped on him with a clothesline on the floor.
Orton was in control with a chinlock and then he pulled on the earlobes of Hardy. Phillips noted it was shades of what Orton did to Hardy in their Hell in a Cell match. Orton let go after about 10 seconds leading to stomps along with a knee drop. They replayed Orton pulling on the earlobes of Hardy while the announcers were grossed out by it. Hardy with a jawbreaker, Orton tried for his draping DDT, but Hardy came back with an atomic drop, dropkick, leg drop and splash for a two count. Hardy bounced off the ropes with a forearm to the face. Hardy with a back elbow and Hardy went up top with the Whisper in the Wind twisting attack onto a standing Orton for two. Hardy with a spin kick to the ribs and then Hardy hit a running dropkick that sent Orton into the barricade. Back in the ring, Hardy went up top, but Orton rolled to the other side of the ring. Orton with a kick followed by the draping DDT. Orton slapped the mat to set up for the RKO, but Hardy got the rollup for two. Hardy went for the Twist of Fate, Orton slipped out of that and Orton hit the RKO for the pinfall win after 14 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Randy Orton
Analysis: ***1/4 It was a pretty good match between two guys that know eachother well. Orton winning clean is not a surprise since he is pushed a lot more than Hardy is at this point. The part where Orton pulled on Jeff’s earlobes that have the holes due to Jeff’s piercings was a gross spot, but I’m sure Randy/Jeff like doing it to put over how vicious Orton is. I liked the finishing sequence with the RKO to counter the Twist of Fate. It’s something Randy and Jeff have done in their matches in the past. It’s still a cool spot to me.
The Lucha House Party duo of Gran Metalik and Lince Dorado were shown walking backstage where they saw the lovely Melina. She did the “Lucha, Lucha” hand gesture as the guys walked away for their match.
Analysis: There were rumors last year that Melina had signed a WWE deal. I thought it was true. It still might be true, but she’s not active in WWE right now. Melina is very talented, though, so if she did return to WWE she would be an asset.
The Hurt Business’s team of Shelton Benjamin and Cedric Alexander entered for a match. They are the Raw Tag Team Champions and they were joined by MVP at ringside.
Lucha House Party made their entrance. There was a pre-tape promo from them as well since Metalik challenges for the NXT Cruiserweight Title on NXT this week. MVP is on commentary for this match.
Shelton Benjamin and Cedric Alexander vs. Lucha House Party (Lince Dorado and Gran Metalik)
Metalik started with Benjamin with not a lot happening. Dorado tagged in and hit a hurricanrana on Alexander that was impressive. Dorado charged right into a Michinoku Driver by Alexander. Dorado hit a springboard Stunner on Alexander. Benjamin got the tag with a running knee on Metalik and Benjamin worked over Dorado with punches. Alexander tagged in, Benjamin didn’t like that and Alexander didn’t like that, so the champions argued about it. Dorado kicked both guys in the head, Dorado flipped over MVP and Dorado hooked the arms of Benjamin for the pinfall win after three minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Lucha House Party (Lince Dorado and Gran Metalik)
Analysis: *1/4 It was okay for a short match. The finish didn’t mean much because of the bickering team of Shelton and Cedric. Benjamin and Alexander are the third champion(s) that got pinned on this show. It’s so repetitive.
Post match, MVP tried to get Benjamin and Alexander on the same page. Alexander blamed Benjamin for the loss and walked away on his own.
There was a backstage scene with Torrie Wilson talking to Nikki Cross when 24/7 Champion Angel Garza showed up with a rose. Torrie told Angel that she invited people like Cardi B, Ariana Grande and others there. Garza went down the hallway, he went into the room and was scared by the Boogeyman. When Garza left the room. R-Truth showed up with the ROLLUP OF DEATH~! to pin Garza tow in the 24/7 Title again. Truth left happily with Torrie and Nikki. Ron Simmons walked up to Garza to deliver his favorite word: “Damn!” End scene.
Analysis: Great seeing Torrie again. Boogeyman? Not so much.
Drew McIntyre entered doing his sword entrance and he had the WWE Title with him for his championship match.
Keith Lee made his entrance for the main event. The legends brought into Raw this week were on the stage to check out Lee on his way to the ring. Tatanka looks very overdressed in his full costume. Just saying. McIntyre and Lee stood in the ring for the championship introductions. The legends were seated on chairs on the ramp to watch the match.
WWE Championship: Drew McIntyre vs. Keith Lee
The match started at 10:35 pm, so they had plenty of time to have a great match. McIntyre drove Lee into the ropes and then Lee did it right back to him. They did a spot where they ran the ropes, Lee jumped to avoid him and Lee did a shoulder tackle. McIntyre worked over Lee with shots to the body along with a chop to the chest. Lee rocked McIntyre with a lefty forearm smash that knocked McIntyre out of the ring to the floor. McIntyre got in some shots, but Lee came back with a clothesline that sent McIntyre over the top to the floor. McIntyre was against the barricade, so Lee charged and McIntyre bumped over the barricade and they showed McIntyre on the floor behind the barricade. Maybe they had some padding for him to land on, but when Drew was shown he was on the cement. That led to a break.
The match returned with McIntyre hitting a jawbreaker, but Lee knocked him down with McIntyre selling the ribs/chest injury. Lee with hard punches to the ribs with Drew selling some more against the turnbuckle. Lee hit a body slam with Drew continuing to sell the ribs and Lee hit another body slam for a two count. Lee charged into the corner, McIntyre moved and Drew went for a belly to belly, but Lee hit a headbutt. Lee blocked a belly to belly suplex again, Drew avoided a body slam and sent Lee into the turnbuckle. McIntyre with a belly to belly suplex across the ring. McIntyre hit a neckbreaker. McIntyre charged with a Claymore Kick, Lee avoided it and McIntyre got a rollup for two. McIntyre charged right into Lee, who hit a huge spinebuster for two as Drew continued to sell the ribs. Lee was on the apron looking at the referee, so Drew grabbed Lee and Drew gave Lee a Powerbomb onto the edge of the announce table that broke the table. Ouch! The referee checked on Lee as the show went to break about 13 minutes into the match.
The match returned with McIntyre hitting a clothesline off the top rope. A replay was shown of the table spot from before the break. Lee avoided a DDT and hit a hard forearm to the chest for a two count. Lee went for a running clothesline, McIntyre avoided that, they battled over a backslide and Lee flipped over Drew, who hit a kick to the gut along with a Future Shock DDT got a two count for McIntyre. There were “this is awesome” chants piped into the arena as the legends tried to clap in unison. McIntyre went up top, Lee greeted him with a headbutt to the ribs and Lee went up top with McIntyre, who briefly sat on the ring post. They stood on the top rope with Lee hitting a Spanish Fly for a two count. McIntyre was still selling the ribs as he came back with a spinebuster for a two count. McIntyre went for a Claymore Kick, Lee caught the foot, Lee wanted a Spirit Bomb, McIntyre slipped out of that, McIntyre ran the ropes twice, avoided Lee and McIntyre hit a Claymore Kick for the pinfall win after 22 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Drew McIntyre
Analysis: **** This was an excellent match that felt like a PPV main event style match. It was great to see Lee get so much offense, to come so close to winning a few times and pull off some incredible moves. McIntyre sold that rib/chest injury really well for the majority of the match. That spot with Drew selling the rib injury is smart because it shows that Lee weakened the champion even though Lee failed to win the match. The spot of the match was Lee hitting the Spanish Fly (flipping Rock Bottom as I like to call it) slam off the top rope. That takes a lot of guts to do a move like that when talking about two huge guys like Lee and McIntyre. They pulled it off well. Was the outcome of the match ever in doubt? No. We all knew McIntyre was going to retain. I don’t think the match was hurt by that. I’m so happy that Keith Lee had a strong showing in a WWE Title match. I hope he impressed the bosses too.
The legends were shown on the stage giving the wrestlers a standing ovation for an incredible showing in that match.
After the match was over, McIntyre and Lee did a fist bump as a sign of respect.
Drew McIntyre was about to do a promo, but here comes Bill Goldberg. That led to Goldberg going into the ring saying that Drew has size, speed and athleticism, but the one thing Drew doesn’t have is respect. Goldberg said he heard what Drew said. Goldberg said that Drew thinks he is better than all of the legends in their prime. Goldberg told Drew that he thinks that not one of them poses a threat to him. Goldberg said that’s where he steps in. Goldberg said it’s about respect. Goldberg said don’t think that he’s demanding anything or posing a threat. Goldberg said he’s challenging Drew for that WWE Championship at the Royal Rumble.
McIntyre said that everybody knows that Drew is all about respect. Drew said that fighting Goldberg would be like fighting his own dad and he was laughing at him. Goldberg shoved Drew down, then Drew popped back, they did some light headbutting and that was the end of Raw.
Analysis: It sounded like Goldberg was struggling through that promo a bit. He wasn’t a great talker in his career. I guess he got through it by the end. My immediate thought when I saw Goldberg was a loud groan because I really don’t want to see this guy wrestling again. However, Goldberg has some deal with WWE for two matches in a year and so I guess one of those matches will be at the Royal Rumble. The good thing is that Goldberg won’t be in the Royal Rumble match now (I assume), so they can have Goldberg put over Drew in a match at Royal Rumble. That’s fine, I guess. It was either Roman Reigns or Drew McIntyre beating Goldberg at some point, so it might as well be Drew first. I figure they will do Goldberg vs. Reigns later this year also. If I never saw another Goldberg match again I’d be fine with that. I was a fan of Goldberg over 20 years ago. I haven’t enjoyed the Goldberg return stuff very much in the last five years. People will whine tome about this all month. Believe me, I don't like Goldberg being around again. It's boring to me.
Three Stars of the Show
- Drew McIntyre
- Keith Lee
- Randy Orton
6.25 out of 10
Last week: 6.75
This show was a mixed bag as usual from Raw although I would say slightly above average thanks to the main event. The highlight was clearly the WWE Title match with Drew McIntyre beating Keith Lee. That was an awesome WWE Title match that got a lot of time and had a lot of cool moves leading to the finish with Drew retaining his title. Lee showed he belonged in the main event picture. Goldberg showing up to challenge McIntyre for the WWE Title at Royal Rumble doesn’t excite me that much, but it should be another win for Drew as the dominant champion that he is.
The booking of some of the matches was frustrating because two tag team champions and a singles champion lost non-title on this show. Three non-title matches ended with champions losing in the same show? That’s lame. I am so tired of WWE booking that way for decades now. Randy Orton was booked well with a clean win over Jeff Hardy. Most of the other matches were just average.
The appearances from most of the legends were done in backstage segments. None of them were that impactful and most of them involved comedy bits or Randy Orton taunting them to get heat on Randy for being a jerk. It was the usual way that WWE books the legends when they are brought back for shows.
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