The John Report: The WWE Raw Deal 11/23/20 Review


Welcome to the WWE Raw Deal review on TJRWrestling. This week’s Raw is a follow up to Survivor Series from Sunday night, which I reviewed right here. The next PPV is Tables, Ladders & Chairs on December 20. Happy Thanksgiving to my American friends on Thursday. Here in Canada, we have Thanksgiving in early October, so we had ours, but I still enjoy American Thanksgiving mainly because of the three NFL games I get to watch. My Rams aren’t playing, but they did win last night on Monday Night Football in a great game over the heel Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Go 7-3 Rams!
As a reminder, we’re always looking for writers on TJRWrestling. Even though it’s not a paid gig, it is a good opportunity to write a pretty popular website. If you ever want to submit a column to TJRWrestling or write news posts for us (I really need people to help with news posts), there's info on how to do that on our Contact Us page right here. I usually reply to every sample, but it might take a few days as well. We have posted some guest columns over the past few weeks.
From the WWE ThunderDome at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida, this is the Raw Deal for episode #1435 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 were highlights shown of Drew McIntyre beating Randy Orton last week on Raw to regain the WWE Title. The Raw intro video aired.
Raw was ready to go with the ThunderDome crowd along with the announce team of Tom Phillips, Samoa Joe and Byron Saxton.

Let’s Hear from Raw Men’s Team at Survivor Series
The five-man Raw men’s team from Survivor Series were in the ring for a promo along with WWE Official Adam Pearce. They all stood in a line: Keith Lee, Sheamus, AJ Styles with Omos behind him, Braun Strowman and Riddle. Pearce said that last week we had a brand new WWE Champion on Raw, Drew McIntyre. Pearce said that last night at Survivor Series, we all gave a final farewell to The Undertaker. Pearce said that the men in the ring defeated Team Smackdown with a clean sweep 5 to 0. Pearce said he wanted all five men to state their case as to why they deserve a shot at WWE Champion.
Sheamus interrupted Pearce from letting “captain” AJ Styles talk first because Sheamus said Styles is not his captain. Sheamus congratulated Drew McIntyre on becoming a two-time WWE Champion while noting they go way back and they are the best of friends. Sheamus said he was the most valuable player on the team, then Styles said Sheamus is going to try to use his friendship for a title shot and Styles said he was the team captain. Lee noted that he saved Styles last night while also pinning the other team’s actual captain (Jey Uso) when he secured the victory.
Riddle spoke up saying he would like to be “WWE Championship” (he means Champion) while noting that he beat King Corbin, so he wondered if he gets a crown. Riddle said if he beats Drew he’ll get that dope sword to go along with his dope crown. Sheamus called Riddle a dope and said that Dopey fits him. Riddle called Sheamus “Fireface” again, so Sheamus yelled at him. Riddle said that Styles liked the Skipper name and Brolee liked his. Riddle called Strowman “Mongoose” and then said “Mongo” at him.
Pearce said “last but not least” is Braun Strowman, which somehow led to Strowman getting angry. Strowman wondered what he meant by that. Pearce said he meant nothing by it. Strowman got upset about it, he grabbed Pearce by the collar and yelled at him saying he does a lot for this company. Strowman told Pearce to pick him now. Strowman hit him with a headbutt although by the angle they shot it, you can see Strowman headbutted his own hand. Pearce bumped to the mad while Strowman looked on in a menacing way. That led to a break about eight minutes into it.
Analysis: This was a bit silly with everybody standing in line as if they are school children being told what to do by a teacher, but that’s how WWE does this stuff when they want everybody facing the hard camera. What I like is the idea that the team is being rewarded with a shot at the WWE Title, which is nice to see since you should reward winners. Riddle did his stoner gimmick, Sheamus was the angry guy, Lee made a good point, Styles thinks highly of himself and then Strowman was irrational by getting angry over a comment that Pearce made that meant no harm. Pearce is a former wrestler that was an NWA World Champion, so taking a bump isn’t a big deal, but to WWE fans he’s an official, which is why it gets treated like Strowman crossed the line. Anyway, the expectation is that Strowman is the next contender for Drew McIntyre’s WWE Title at TLC next month, according to Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer. I trust Dave (I realize some people do not), so it’s just a matter of how they set it up. It would also be a fresh WWE Title feud, which is okay with me. Plans can always change too.
(Commercial)

There was a replay of what happened before the break with the announcers talking about Strowman’s actions.
There was a clip from earlier today with New Day standing backstage with the Raw Tag Team Titles. The Hurt Business walked up to them with Shelton Benjamin and Cedric Alexander challenging them to a title shot. New Day reminded them that they beat Hurt Business last week. Alexander mentioned that New Day lost at Survivor Series, which was embarrassing for Raw. Kofi said it was their day off, Alexander got in Xavier’s face and Woods told Alexander that they’ve got a championship match.
The two teams made their entrances for the tag team title match as ring announcer Mike Rome did the championship introductions.

Raw Tag Team Championships: The New Day (Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods) vs. The Hurt Business (Shelton Benjamin and Cedric Alexander) w/Montel Vontavious Porter
Benjamin took down Woods with a double leg takedown followed by punches along with a knee to the back of Woods. Benjamin tossed Woods across the ring followed by a suplex for two. Woods charged, but Benjamin decked him with a boot to the face and Benjamin hit a jumping knee to Kofi to knock him off the apron.
(Commercial)
The match returned with Kofi getting the tag with a chop off the top on Benjamin, a dropkick and a leaping clothesline. Kofi hit the boom drop leg drop on Benjamin. Kofi went for the spin kick, Benjamin avoided it, Kofi with a kick, then Benjamin met Kofi on the turnbuckle leading to a headbutt by Kofi, so Alexander pulled Kofi off the ropes into the apron and Kofi bumped to the floor. The referee John Cone was counting Kofi, Benjamin kicked Kofi and they reached a ten count before the wrestlers made it back in the ring. That was awkward. It was announced as a double countout, but then referee John Cone said Hurt Business won by countout. That part of the match went about nine minutes.
Winners by countout: The Hurt Business (Shelton Benjamin and Cedric Alexander)
Analysis: **1/2 It was fine as the first part in a longer match. I’ll refrain from a rating now because the match did continue. This was an awkward moment although I think that is what WWE had booked. It just looked like it was a mistake, but I assume they did what was planned.
There was a promo from MVP saying that’s not how it is going to go. MVP asked referee John Cone to restart the match while asking the champs if they really wanted to lose like that. New Day went back towards the ring to restart the match. It was announced by ring announcer Mike Rome that he was informed by officials that the match will be restarted.

(Commercial)
The bell rang to restart the title match.
Raw Tag Team Championships: The New Day (Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods) vs. The Hurt Business (Shelton Benjamin and Cedric Alexander) w/Montel Vontavious Porter
Benjamin gave Kofi a back body drop over the top to the floor. That led to Kofi grabbing at his left knee. Back in the ring, Alexander hit an elbow drop for a two count. Benjamin was back in with a kneebreaker on Kofi’s left knee. Joe credited MVP for calling out the injustice and the right thing took place with the match restarting. Alexander was back in the ring with an Indian deathlock submission move on the legs of Kingston. Benjamin wrenched on the left leg of Kofi followed by a clothesline. Alexander tagged back in with a dropkick to the left knee. Alexander grounded Kofi again with a submission on the legs and Benjamin was back in with a headbutt. Kofi sent Benjamin over the top to the floor, but Alexander made sure Kofi couldn’t tag because he pulled Woods off the apron. Kofi hit the SOS trip into a slam for a two count. Alexander was back in with a chop block to the left knee leading to a leg submission with Cedric pulling on the leg. Kofi managed to break free with Woods getting the hot tag. Woods with a jumping kick on Alexander, then Woods sent Benjamin to the floor and did a backsplash/dropkick combo. Woods with a press slam on Alexander for a two count. Alexander hit a DDT off the ropes and Benjamin tagged in with an Olympic Slam (Team Angle!) for a two count on Woods because Kofi made the save. Kofi went over the top onto Alexander on the floor while using the ropes to help him since he was selling the knee injury. Woods countered a powerbomb into a sunset flip on Benjamin for the pinfall win after about eight minutes.
Winners by pinfall: The New Day (Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods)
Analysis: ***1/4 A very good tag team match as usual for these teams with the heels working over Kofi’s left leg for most of it. Kofi did a great job of selling the injury even when he hit a dive over the top and had to use the ropes to help him with the move. Woods beat Benjamin with a counter hold rather than a move that gave them the win in a decisive manner, so that could mean the Hurt Business isn’t going to stop their pursuit of the titles.

The New Day celebrated the win with Phillips noting that Hurt Business have had three chances now, but they couldn’t get it done. The Hurt Business looked frustrated.
Analysis: I think the rivalry is going to continue because there are a lack of teams on Raw unless Retribution is used in the tag team division.
There was a backstage scene with Adam Pearce leaving the trainer’s room. Pearce said he had a headache while adding that Braun was escorted out of the building. Pearce said that if it was up to him, he would fire Braun Strowman and we would never see him again. Pearce said he had some announcement while Bobby Lashley showed up saying that he was the only champion on Raw that was victorious last night. Lashley suggested that they should have a discussion. Pearce asked Charly to leave so Pearce could talk to Bobby.
(Commercial)

There was a plug for the official Raw theme song called “The Search” by the rapper NF.
Adam Pearce was interviewed again by Charly Caruso. Pearce said that Lashley gave him some information that he needs to consider. Randy Orton showed up to talk to Pearce saying that they need to talk, so Charly left again.
There were images shown of Lana’s fluke win at Survivor Series that saw her become the sole survivor for the match.
Lana was interviewed backstage by Sarah Schreiber saying it was the greatest moment of her career. Sarah suggested if a Raw Women’s Title is in her future, Lana said she didn’t know, she felt like she was dreaming and she didn’t want to wake up.
Analysis: The greatest moment of her eight-year career in WWE is standing on the steel steps during a tag team match and watching other women eliminate eachother so that she can win a match? What a career that is. At least the money is good.
Adam Pearce was interviewed again by Charly Caruso. Pearce said they’ll have three singles matches and the winners of those matches will meet next week on Raw in a triple threat. The winner of that match will meet Drew McInfart (yes he said “McInfart”)…then he said McIntyre for the WWE Champion. The match is Sheamus vs. Riddle and that starts right now.
Analysis: The McInfart thing was hilarious even though it was just a mistake from Pearce. I'm not sure if he was ribbing Drew or what. I don’t know how you get that instead of McIntyre, but that’s what happened. Anyway, it’s always a good thing when they have matches that have stakes where the winners get to move on to another match to get a WWE Title shot. Make people earn title matches by beating other contenders instead of winning non-title matches. Also, Pearce got a LOT of screen time in that first hour. It’s good to have an authority figure on the show in a capacity where they speak when needed, but maybe it was a bit too much of Pearce.
Riddle entered for his match with some pyro going off after he kicked off his flip flops…bro.

(Commercial)
Sheamus entered as Riddle’s opponent. The Bro and The Fella had a very good match a few weeks ago that was well-liked by the bosses, so here we go again.
Sheamus vs. Riddle
Riddle tried for a takedown, but Sheamus was able to swing him around to get him off his back. As Riddle and Sheamus fought over an armbar, we found out that the other qualifying matches will be Randy Orton vs. AJ Styles and Keith Lee vs. Bobby Lashley. Sheamus took control with a forearm to the back followed by a wristlock. Riddle unloaded on Sheamus with punches/chops and then Sheamus came back with a clothesline. Riddle slapped on an armbar on Sheamus, who managed to get to the bottom rope to break the hold. Sheamus bailed to the floor. Sheamus with a knee to the ribs leading to a suplex for two. Riddle with a boot to the chest, but Sheamus came back with a clothesline over the top to the floor. Sheamus went for an attack on the floor, Riddle got a knee up and Riddle hit an Exploder suplex on the floor. Back in the ring, Riddle hit a broton splash for a two. Riddle worked over Sheamus with kicks to the chest and Sheamus came back with a hard right hand leading to the forearms to the chest while Riddle was against the ropes. Riddle was out on the floor, then he crawled back in the ring and Sheamus hit him with a forearm. Sheamus hit a backbreaker for a two count. Sheamus with a knee to the ribs, then a whip into the turnbuckle and Sheamus missed a corner charge as he hit the ring post with his left shoulder. Riddle with repeated kicks to the chest, Sheamus with a forearm, then Sheamus lifted him up and hit an Alabama Slam leading to a break.
(Commercial)

The match returned with Sheamus remaining in control with a brutal looking pump knee strike for a two count. Riddle got back into it with an overhead kick that sent Sheamus out of the ring. Riddle with a kick leading to the floating bro attack off the middle ropes onto Sheamus on the floor. Back in the ring, Riddle was up top, he jumped right into the arms of Sheamus, who hit a spinning slam for a two count. Sheamus slapped on the Cloverleaf submission no the legs of Riddle, who managed to get his hand on the bottom rope to break the hold. Riddle blocked the forearm to the chest and then stretched the right arm against the top rope. Riddle went for a move, but Sheamus countered into a heel hook kneebar submission, which is not a regular spot for Sheamus. It looked good as Riddle used his free fight leg to kick Sheamus to get out of that. Riddle with a kick to the head for a two count. Riddle hit a running final flash knee/shin attack for a two count. Riddle went up top, Sheamus met him with forearms to the face and Sheamus hit the White Noise slam off the middle rope for a two count! That was an awesome nearfall. That’s the kind of move that would be very believable as a finisher especially off the middle rope, but it didn’t get the job done here. Sheamus had a shocked look on his face. Sheamus set up for the Brogue Kick, but when he moved forward, Riddle collapsed to the mat. Riddle with a headbutt to the shoulder, then a kick to the head and Riddle went for a pin attempt, but Sheamus slapped on the Cloverleaf submission again. Riddle countered out of that, hooked the legs and held Sheamus down for the pinfall win after 21 minutes of intense action.
Winner by pinfall: Riddle
Analysis: ***3/4 This match was awesome just like their last match and maybe even better because they plenty of time to tell a story. You can tell Riddle and Sheamus love working together because of their similar styles in the ring. It was no surprise that this was a hard-hitting match between two guys not afraid to throw strikes or go for submissions throughout a match. Sheamus was impressive as he unleashed all of his offense at Riddle, but he wasn’t able to hit the Brogue Kick and Riddle’s clever counter of the Cloverleaf led to his win.  I liked how it was booked and it was smart to have the rising star Riddle get a big win. If these guys wrestle again soon I won't complain. I really like the chemistry they have in the ring.

The win by Riddle means he moves on to the number one contender’s triple threat match next week on Raw.
Lana was shown backstage with Raw Women’s Champion Asuka walked up to her. Asuka said she heard Lana wanted to challenge her for the title. Lana said no, she wasn’t thinking about that. Asuka said she liked challenges, she accepts and she will see Lana in the ring tonight. Lana didn’t seem thrilled, but then when Asuka left, Lana was happy.
This week on Smackdown it’s the follow up to Survivor Series as we find out what’s next for the Roman Reigns/Jey Uso bloodline. No matches advertised yet.
(Commercial)

Firefly Fun House
Bray Wyatt and Alexa Bliss were in the Fun House with the puppets around them. Wyatt said that friends will always let you down saying they might help you something, but the next minute they’re burning something (hey Randy Orton). Wyatt mentioned Nikki Cross, then a frog spoke to tell us he is the Friendship Frog that told us friendship should last forever. Wyatt told Bliss to show the frog what she’s going to do to Nikki Cross. Bliss got help from Wyatt, who put his hand in front of her head and Bliss attacked the Friendship Frog with a weapon and the frog had green “blood” coming out of his mouth. A video aired of frogs as a “moment of silence” for Friendship Frog, who had a short life in the Fun House although he lived from 1980 to 2020. That’s a good birth year. Just saying. Wyatt said it was a shame that he “croaked” and then they laughed maniacally. They waved bye while telling Cross that they will see her soon.
Analysis: It’s effective in terms of putting over the uniqueness of the Wyatt and Bliss characters. I just wrote about a frog puppet dying with green blood. Life is weird. I'm sure Vince McMahon thought the "croaked" line was hilarious, pal.
Asuka made her entrance for her match.
(Commercial)

Lana made her entrance for this match with Asuka that was set up earlier in the show. Images were shown of Lana’s “inspiring” win where she did nothing in the women’s match, yet was the sole survivor and THAT is the greatest moment of her career apparently. Really.
There were championship introductions from Mike Rome. I find it strange that Lana doesn’t have a hometown announced for her while Asuka’s hometown of Osaka, Japan is announced. Anyway, there was an interruption.
The Women’s Tag Team Championship duo of Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler made their entrance to watch the match on commentary.
Raw Women’s Championship: Asuka vs. Lana
Lana flipped Asuka over and got a two count. Asuka hit a rising knee on Lana as Baszler said that she deserved a title shot. Asuka charged, Lana moved and Asuka went out to the floor. Asuka got in Jax/Baszler’s faces with Asuka pouring water on them, so Jax hit Asuka for the DQ finish after one minute.
Winner by disqualification: Asuka
Analysis: No point in rating that. Just an angle to set up a tag team match.
Jax gave Asuka a headbutt to the ribs followed by Baszler punching Asuka twice. Baszler cleared off the table, Jax picked up Asuka and Lana pulled Asuka’s leg to save her. Lana and Asuka went to the aisle. Jax told them they started something, so they should finish it. Baszler said they wanted a match right now.

Analysis: The goal of the storyline was to turn Lana into a face that the fans would feel sorry for. By putting her with Asuka, that shows Lana is in that face role now.
There was a video with 24/7 Champion R-Truth shilling WWE Shop merchandise with Black Friday sales taking place this week. Drew Gulak hit Truth in the back with a Money in the Bank briefcase, he tried to cover Truth on a table, and then the lights went out. The red lights went on, then it was Tozawa in a Fiend mask. Gulak ran away scared while Tozawa left.
(Commercial)
Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler vs. Asuka and Lana
This is not for the Women’s Tag Team Titles. Lana was in the ring against Baszler with Lana hitting a spin kick, then a kick to the head and Jax tagged in with a Lana toss across the ring. Jax tossed Lana across the ring again followed by a clothesline. Jax dumped Lana to the floor, Baszler brought her back in and Baszler hit Lana in the back. Jax was back in with some shoving into the mat along with trash talk. Lana fought back with punches that had no effect as Jax drove Lana into the turnbuckle. Baszler stepped on Lana’s head while pulling back on her leg. Lana kicked Baszler to break free, which led to Asuka tagging in. Asuka with kicks on Baszler and the double knees to the face. Asuka with a hip attack against the turnbuckle, then a spinning back fist and a German Suplex. Asuka with a shining wizard knee for two. Baszler caught the foot of Asuka leading to a knee strike to the face for two. Jax pulled Lana off the apron and cleared off the announce table. Lana fought back against Jax, you could see some of Lana’s hair extensions fall off to the floor and Jax charged at Lana, who moved, so Jax went flying over the announce table into the barricade. Baszler slapped on the Kirifuda Clutch on Lana, but there was Asuka with a ROLLUP OF DEATH~! on Baszler for the pinfall win after seven minutes.

Winners by pinfall: Asuka and Lana
Analysis: ** The Lana win streak continues at two matches in a row while Asuka reminded us why the ROLLUP OF DEATH~! is so deadly. It was nice to see Lana avoid being put through the table again because she was able to fight back this time and that led to Jax taking a big bump. Baszler losing hurts her a bit, but it was only a tag match after some chaos happening outside the ring.
Post match, Lana and Asuka were happy about the win while Jax and Baszler were making angry faces at ringside.
Analysis: This win by Lana and Asuka could lead to a Women’s Tag Team Title match since the champions just lost non-title here.
Riddle walked up to MVP: “What’s up, dude?” MVP wasn’t happy to see him. Riddle said he wanted to wish “Big Bobby” good luck tonight. Riddle said he had a million ideas for business investments. Riddle suggested pizza-flavored yogurt, then add protein and call it Brotein. MVP wondered if Riddle thinks that Bobby Lashley has time for this nonsense. MVP said that he is not Riddle’s bro, but if he gets some ideas together in a couple of weeks, he can pitch it to MVP. Riddle said like Shark Tank (a popular TV show) and MVP said yeah exactly like that. MVP said if they like the ideas, they’ll do some business and if not, they’ll do some business…which meant an intense stare and slap on the chest.
Analysis: This segment likely sets the table for a rivalry between US Champion Bobby Lashley and Riddle going after that title, perhaps leading to a match at TLC next month. That makes sense as a fresh rivalry.
(Commercial)

A video aired showing highlights from Survivor Series with Universal Champion Roman Reigns beating WWE Champion Drew McIntyre. It was not a clean win for Reigns since there was a referee bump after Drew hit a Claymore Kick, Reigns hit a low blow, Reigns got an assist from cousin Jey Uso with a superkick and Reigns slapped on the Guillotine Choke for the win as McIntyre passed out. Reigns embraced cousin Jey for his help.
Analysis: There was no Drew McIntyre on Raw this week. It was likely just to give him a break after a tough match on Sunday.
Keith Lee made his entrance with his new entrance theme song that he wrote and performed. I wish they kept in the “bask in his glory” part of his old song at the start of the song. Bobby Lashley made his entrance as the US Champion with MVP by his side.

Bobby Lashley (w/Montel Vontavious Porter) vs. Keith Lee
This is not for the US Title. The winner gets a spot in the triple threat match on Raw to determine the WWE Title contender. This is their first match in WWE.
Lashley went for a waistlock with Lee driving him to the turnbuckle. Lashley slapped on a tight headlock, Samoa Joe loves the strategy and Lashley bounced off the ropes with a shoulder tackle that had no effect. Lee with a chop, Lashley with a clothesline and a flatliner led to only a one count for Lashley. Lee avoided a Hurt Lock attempt, Lee bounced off the ropes and hit a shoulder tackle along with a clothesline over the top to the floor. MVP teased that he was about to trip Lee, so Lee stopped running and walked towards MVP on the floor, which led to Lashley hitting a clothesline to stun Lee. Lashley sent Lee into the barricade, then back in the ring and back out to the floor. Lashley had Lee on his shoulders and then he drove Lee into the ring post. That was impressive by Bobby.
(Commercial)
The match returned with Lashley slapping on an armbar while Lashley had some blood on the left side of his head, so the referee put the gloves on. Lashley slapped on a neckbreaker and then a chinlock. Lee broke free with a lefty forearm smash to the face. Lashley hit an impressive leapfrog over a charging Lee, then a clothesline and a delayed vertical suplex. That was very good. Lee avoided a corner charge with a leapfrog of his own, Lashley hit the turnbuckle and Lee hit a running pounce (shoulder tackle) to send Lashley out of the ring. Lee with a running cross body block on Lashley on the floor. Lee sent Lashley into the ring, the referee checked on Lashley and MVP did a cheap shot by sending Lee into the ring post. The referee never saw it. Lashley went for the Hurt Lock submission, Lee prevented Lashley from locking the fingers and Lee fell backwards onto Lashley to break the hold. MVP ran into the ring and punched Lee repeatedly, so Lee won by disqualification. This went about 13 minutes.
Winner by disqualification: Keith Lee
Analysis: ***1/4 This was a lot of fun as two power wrestlers showed off what they can do. I don’t love the finish, but it’s a way to get out of it without either man getting beat clean. Lashley was on the losing end here, but he did some cool things in this match like the move into the ring post and the delayed vertical suplex. Lee showed off his power and athleticism as well. Lashley got most of the offense since he was losing, but Lee looked really strong while he was on offense too. Lashley looked great in this match. I was really impressed by his performance here. It’s a big win for Lee while Lashley lost non-title, which could set up a title match in the future. That’s two straight matches with champions losing non-title, so that felt repetitive. You can tell Samoa Joe loved this match as much as anybody. I would have gone higher on the rating with a better finish. I hope they can do this match again soon.

The win by Lee means he is in the triple threat match next week to determine the number one contender to the WWE Title.
Post match, MVP tried to attack some more, but Lee hit him with a headbutt to knock MVP down.
A video aired about Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross having a strong friendship, which saw them win the Women’s Tag Team Titles, but then it all fell apart a few months ago when The Fiend “attacked” Alexa Bliss. That led to Bliss going through changes and here we are.
Nikki Cross was interviewed behind the curtain before the match. Cross said that she knows friends don’t give up on friends, but Alexa gave up on Nikki and their friendship. Cross said she’s tried to help her and now she’s done trying. Cross said that Alexa can have The Fiend if she wants because Cross is sick and tired of thinking about her. Cross said that she’ll beat “the fiend” out of Alexa Bliss.
Nikki Cross made her entrance. I really don’t like her new theme song especially because the old theme song was very fitting for her. I know WWE has changed a lot of songs in the last few months due to ending their deal with the previous music makers, but this song really doesn’t fit Nikki as a character.
(Commercial)

Alexa Bliss made her entrance in her unique attire and her new theme song.
Alexa Bliss vs. Nikki Cross
Cross charged, Bliss avoided it and Bliss did a drop toe hold to take down Cross. Bliss left the ring, Cross chased after her and Bliss was back in the ring first. Cross pulled Bliss out of the ring leading to a clothesline. Back in the ring, Cross kicked Bliss repeatedly followed by a short-arm clothesline while Bliss was laughing at her. Cross hit another clothesline, Bliss kept on laughing and Cross drove Bliss’ head into the mat along with more punches. Cross screamed at Bliss followed by a jumping splash onto the ribs of Bliss for two. Cross hit a running splash against the turnbuckle. Bliss looked at the gloves on her hand, then did some fake crying to get Cross to show compassion and Bliss told her to help. Bliss hugged Cross and then gave her a Sister Abigail neckbreaker for the pinfall win after four minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Alexa Bliss
Analysis: *1/2 This was more about the story of Bliss taking a beating for most of the match, but then she used mind games to fool Cross into trusting her and then Bliss beat her with one move. Bliss is doing an excellent job as this twisted character.
Post match, Bliss was laughing about her win while Cross was frustrated in the ring.
An Undertaker video is up next.
(Commercial)

The announcers talked about The Undertaker’s “Final Farewell” at Survivor Series.
The Undertaker tribute video aired. It was the same one that aired at Survivor Series as Metallica’s song “Now That We’re Dead.” Excellent tribute video as usual from WWE. It ran for about four minutes. They also edited in part of Undertaker’s speech at Survivor Series saying that his time has come to let The Undertaker rest in peace. I loved that Paul hologram that appeared during the Taker pose at Survivor Series. There were clips of fans chanting “Thank You Taker” to end this video. Here’s the video in case you haven’t seen it yet.

There was a shot of the Raw crowd with more “Thank You Taker” chants piped into the arena.
Analysis: I enjoyed that moment at Survivor Series. I just wish there could have been fans in the arena to pay tribute to Undertaker the way that he deserves. We have seen the big retirement sendoffs from legends like Ric Flair and Shawn Michaels in front of a big crowd. I wish Undertaker got to do that too, but it sucks that COVID-19 concerns prevented that. With that said, we could also watch the last 15 minutes of WrestleMania 33 in 2017 when most of us thought that The Undertaker was done, but then he came back for more.
Randy Orton made his entrance for the main event with Phillips saying it was a WrestleMania caliber match, which is a phrase he said throughout the show.

(Commercial)
This Wednesday on NXT, there’s a Ladder Match between a member of Pat McAfee’s team against a member of The Undisputed Era. The winner gets the advantage for their team at WarGames. Also, Ember Moon faces Candice LeRae. Check out my review on TJRWrestling on Thursday. I don’t have a holiday and even when I do, I don’t take breaks. That’s how I roll.
AJ Styles made his entrance with the big man Omos. The winner of this match will face Keith Lee and Riddle next week in a triple threat for a shot at the WWE Title.
Randy Orton vs. AJ Styles (w/Omos)
They are two heels that have wrestled in the past including at WrestleMania. Styles tried for a quick rollup pin to win, but Orton kicked out. Orton with a kick to the gut followed by an uppercut and boot across the side of the face. Styles sent Orton in the ropes leading to a dropkick for two. They left the ring with Orton wanting to whip Styles into the barricade, but Omos caught Styles and Styles hit a sliding knee on Orton on the apron. Styles gave Orton a belly to back slam/suplex onto the hood of the announce table as the show went to break. That’s a move that Orton usually does, so that’s why Styles did it.
(Commercial)

The match returned with Orton working over Styles with punches while they were by the turnbuckle. Orton wanted a superplex, Styles got out of it and hit a chop block to the back of the left knee of Orton. Styles worked on the left knee of Orton by wrenching on it. Orton was able to bounce back by hitting a suplex onto the top rope. Styles came back with another chop block to the left knee, but then Orton came back with a modified backbreaker for two. Asuka rolled through with a Calf Crusher submission on the left leg of Orton that Styles worked on during the match. Orton got his hand on the bottom rope to break free. Styles charged right into a powerslam for Orton for two. Orton went for an RKO, but Styles slipped out of it and Styles hit an enziguri kick to the head that sent Orton out of the ring. Orton tripped up Styles on the apron and Orton sent Styles back in the ring. The Fiend appeared behind the barricade as the red lights filled the arena. Orton went back into the ring, Styles got a foot up and Orton blocked a forearm attempt leading to Orton hitting a draping DDT. Orton hit the mat repeatedly, but that led to the lights going out slowly and then a red light appeared with Orton looking around for The Fiend, who was right behind him. Orton was freaked out by that, then the lights went out, they came back on with regular lights, Orton was looking around for The Fiend and Styles capitalized with the Phenomenal Forearm off the top for the pinfall win after 13 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: AJ Styles
Analysis: ***1/4 A good match between two veterans as you would expect from them. They're really talented, obviously. The ending was cheap because it furthers the Orton story against The Fiend while Styles took advantage of the situation to get the big win. I like how much Styles went after the left leg of Orton with Randy doing a nice job of selling it during the match. I don’t love The Fiend’s appearance costing a guy a match, but if you’re going to book something like that at the end of a match, they booked it in the right way. I liked how it was done.
The win means that Styles moves on to the triple threat match next week with Riddle and Keith Lee where the winner gets a WWE Title match against Drew McIntyre.

Analysis: As noted earlier, Braun Strowman is expected to be Drew’s opponent at TLC, so WWE will probably put Strowman in the match somehow even though they have said he’s suspended.
Styles celebrated the win in the aisle while Orton looked around in the ring as The Fiend’s laughter played in the arena. That was the end of the show.
Analysis: It has been reported that The Fiend is expected to be a babyface now, so having him feud with Orton makes a lot of sense. Plus, there’s a lot of history there.

Three Stars of the Show

  1. Riddle
  2. Sheamus
  3. AJ Styles/Keith Lee/Bobby Lashley

The Scoreboard
7.5 out of 10
Last week: 7
2020 Average: 6.24

Final Thoughts
It was a very good episode of Raw for the second week in a row. Maybe they are starting to turn a corner for the better? I hope so. There was a heavy focus on in-ring action with Riddle and Sheamus having the best match. They really work well together as we have seen twice now. I also liked the fresh matchup that was Keith Lee facing Bobby Lashley in a match with a DQ finish and I enjoyed AJ Styles facing Randy Orton in the main event even with The Fiend costing Orton the match. The Raw Tag Team Title match was fun too. Even the women’s segments were better than they have been in the past, so that helped as well.
On the negative side, I think the opening promo bit was a bit cheesy and Braun Strowman headbutting Adam Pearce seemed random rather than something that really needed to happen. I get that WWE wants to make Strowman look scary heading into a rumored WWE Title feud with Drew McIntyre, but didn’t work that well in my opinion. Some other stuff was just okay. The WWE Champion Drew McIntyre (or is it McInfart?) was given this Raw off, which is okay since he’s pushed on TV a lot and everybody needs a bit of a break.
I’m just happy that Raw was easy to watch and get through for the second week in a row. A big reason why is because there was a focus on more in-ring action, but also some of these storylines are interesting. I really do hope this is the start of Raw becoming a consistently good show. (Then again, maybe I'm just in a good mood after my LA Rams had a big win. I really do think it was a good show, though!)

You can contact me using any of the methods below. Go Los Angeles Rams. Be safe and smart out there.
Thanks for reading.
John Canton
Email: mrjohncanton@gmail.com
Twitter: @johnreport
Personal Facebook and TJRWrestling on Facebook