Hey everybody! SAM here with the Botching one and we are at the go-home episode of Raw for the Royal Rumble. Raw has certainly been inconsistent of late and that makes me cautious over what we might get this week. We do have Alexa/Asuka to look forward to for the Raw Women’s Championship and a few other things. Enough with the intro and let us see how Raw decided to go-home for the Royal Rumble.
In-ring segment – Drew McIntyre, The Miz, John Morrison, and Goldberg
It’s nice to see Drew back. Glad his positive COVID-19 test turned out to be a tempest in a teacup. His symptoms weren’t a big deal at all and that’s a very fortunate thing.
Now that that’s out of the way, no matter what Drew says, no matter how much fire he exudes when he says it, I simply don’t care. I never did and I don’t now. He did what he could but it is what it is.
Thankfully, the Miz came out with Morrison and made this significantly more fun than it was to begin with. Miz is the wild card here. I’m all for him cashing in and taking the title.
Goldberg came out and Zzzzzzzzz… Is it wrong that the first thing I wondered is whether or not he’d given himself a not on his head from hitting his head on something before he came out? At least he didn’t say much. Why, oh why, is this happening???
It is nice to see Drew back and presumably healthy after his positive test but outside of that, I did not care for this at all. I am not invested in this match and I really do not want to see Drew job to Oldbore. They beat up Miz and Morrison and had a stare down. I just do not care about this one bit.
Backstage segment – Charlotte Flair
We already know this is all scripted but why does Charlotte have to make it sound like it? It sounded like a middle school play and she went through the dialog like an auctioneer. I don’t believe her. I rarely do. Talking is her biggest weakness and it showed itself here big time…again.
This promo was a promo that happened for a storyline that I am not invested in at all. She and Ric do not agree with him spending time with Lacey and this just isn’t good at all.
Charlotte Flair vs. Shayna Baszler
On paper, this should be just amazing. Those of us who were watching NXT when Shayna was there, heck when she was on the indies, know how good she really is. She’s yet to be able to show it on the main roster for as long as she’s been there. Charlotte is excellent too so this could have been really fun match. Still, the the match ended early kinda makes sense. I am sick to death of the Mandy/Dana team. It isn’t working and Dana is totally to blame. This just turned into a hot mess with Lacey going for hers too.
This match could have been a nice one but we got a disqualification finish instead. Dana and Mandy came out to help and then Lacey came out. Easy to see a “Teddy Long Special” coming with this.
Charlotte Flair, Mandy Rose, & Dana Brooke vs. Shayna Baszler, Nia Jax, & Lacey Evans
Ah, the Teddy Long special. How I have missed thee…maybe… This was fine, I guess. Charlotte has always done an absolutely lousy chop. It’s totally unbelievable as it takes her about five seconds to actually land it. No one in their right mind would stand still waiting for that. The whole thing just looks silly. The only chop worse than hers is Dana’s. Hers looks completely cartoon-y too for different reasons. She basically just tapped Shayna on the chest. Like…spare me. Dana does exactly nothing well and this is just another thing that goes on the list of things she’s not good at.
The awkward “Shayna didn’t beat the count” thing made zero sense. Shayna was in the ring for a full three or four seconds before the ref did anything and the bell was rung. Like…what? Then, Adam Pearce came out to restart the match because…reasons? I don’t know and you don’t care. To be fair, the rest of the match wasn’t terrible, though Mandy isn’t exactly Marty Jannetty on the “hot tag”. Okay, the blown spot between Dana and Nia at the end. The blame is being put squarely on Nia and I don’t think that’s fair. At least an equal amount belongs to Dana IMHO. See it for yourself:
You’ll note that Dana doesn’t get set. Her left leg is hanging down. There was no way this was going to come off well. Was Nia rough there? Yeah, but she didn’t act alone on this one. UGH!
So far, a truly wretched start to “Raw”. I’m not optimistic.
This was just a huge cluster and not a good showing by any means. The first six-woman tag ends with a count out that clearly looked botched. They end up going to commercial and restarting the match during the break with Adam Pearce. The match during the restart was nothing special at all. This whole thing just felt off and it doesn’t help that the finish looked bad as well. I know Botch is trying to say Dana has some blame in this but the whole set up looked odd. Nia picks her up for a powerbomb and turns it into a chokeslam? Okay? That looked way too complicated and that clearly impacted what Dana was doing up there. The landing looked all kinds of stiff and it looked like a poor attempt at Raquel Gonzalez’s finisher that she does oh so well.
Backstage & outside segment – Mustafa Ali, Mace
This is another case where Mustafa is doing all he could. Finally, something might actually be catching fire here. We won’t really know it until Kofi comes back but this could actually be good.
Ali really is excellent on the mic but this was just more of what he said last week as to why he is going after the New Day. The story really is perfect since Kofi did take his spot so I am interested in seeing where they go with it.
Slapjack vs. Xavier Woods
Woods came out to do battle with Retribution again. This is now the third time. Slapjack and Woods did make a show of this though. This was a pretty good match – far better than anything we got prior to this. He took the match but T-Bar ate him on the outside. They’re really setting up Mustafa’s feud with Kofi and it’s actually being done really well thus far. Color me intrigued.
This was a pretty solid match between Woods and Slapjack. Of course, both men are highly capable in the ring and they worked pretty well. I still dislike the members of Retribution wearing masks but that doesn’t take away from how solid this match was. Good back and forth and I will always dig Woods getting a chance to work the ring. Woods would win but didn’t have time to celebrate as he ate a big boot from T-Bar. They would beat him down some more in the ring and Ali would cut a promo on him after teasing a chair shot. Ali would tell him that he is taking Kofi’s spot in the Rumble and it was done very well. Retribution has regained my interest in them and maybe 2021 can be their redemption year after 2020 was such a flop.
Backstage segment – Riddle & R-Truth
“24 gold carrots”. LOL!! Truth is just golden. Riddle was a fun straight man for him here. This was short but sweet.
Fun little segment between these two. Truth’s comedic timing is legendary at this point and it was nice to see Riddle reacting to everything he had to say. Good stuff and some nice comedy on a night that did not get off to the best of starts.
VIP Lounge – MVP, Bobby Lashley, Cedric Alexander, & Shelton Benjamin
MVP is ridiculous sometimes. The “big thing’s poppin’…” nonsense is just so played. The ego that Cedric is walking around with is high-larious. Shelton is nearly through with him and I love it. It’s giving us more of Shelton’s personality. Truth came out and he was a golden as he always is. “Truth Happy Birthday”. I can’t. I just can’t. Lashley played into it so well. The 24/7 platoon came out and got wrecked. Nice little run-in from Riddle on MVP. Not sure why Riddle is still in this; he’s lost cleanly to Lashley already.
Nice stuff between these four and I am enjoying how Shelton is getting closer and closer to blowing up on Cedric over his growing ego. Cedric tried to take credit for the design of the gift they have to MVP and Shelton did not want to hear any of that noise. Truth came out and more ridiculousness from him came and it would lead to Riddle getting one on them by hitting MVP with a knee. Nice segment here and continues to show how the Hurt Business may be getting tired of Cedric’s growing ego.
Backstage segment – R-Truth, Adam Pearce, AJ Styles, & Omos
R-Truth is just a total mess…and you love it just as much as I do. Pearce, Styles, & Omos were basically straight men for him and they all did it well. I loved every second of this.
Another nice little segment here with Truth. I love his confusion over the Rumble being MITB and AJ was game to help him prove he could be in the Rumble. Good work and we will see how the match between AJ and Truth will go.
Sheamus vs. John Morrison
This was a really solid match. Apparently, Morrison had something funny going on with his pants. Quiz me. Anyway, Sheamus sold the knee damage really well here. He’s rarely had the chance to do it this way before but he did it well here.
This was actually a darn good match and I like that it took me by surprise with how good it was. Sheamus has really proven over the last few years that he still has plenty of fuel in the tank as far as his in-ring career is concerned. Morrison has always been solid in the ring and these two had some good chemistry. Really good back and forth and I couldn’t help but notice that Morrison’s gear had some tearing on his bum thanks to Queen. Really good stuff and Sheamus would pick up the win and Morrison would show some blood at the end too on his forehead. I didn’t catch what it was that cause the cut but it was enough to draw blood. Miz would challenge Sheamus to a handicap match after and he was more than game for it.
Sheamus vs. The Miz & John Morrison
The story that gets us here is a poor attempt to tell the Rumble story. Why, I don’t know. As a match, this wasn’t bad at all. Sheamus took a lot of damage here. The impact is, of course, not real but still. He worked really hard here. Morrison really did too and Miz more than did his part. All told, this was a really fun match. Who among us doesn’t love Ten Beats to the Bowery? Fun match all around.
Another fun match here and Sheamus and Morrison each put in work tonight. Sheamus continued to sell well and Morrison showed off even more as well. Miz did good here too as he was the fresh fighter and used that when he could over the worn down Sheamus Really fun back and forth and I wondered if they would have Sheamus run through both men after he beat Morrison. Morrison would eat a Brogue Kick from Sheamus but that was what the Miz needed as he hit Sheamus with a Skull Crushing Finale to pick up the win. That sneaky win reminded me of the old Miz that would do whatever it took to win and I like it.
Backstage segment – Ric Flair, Lacey Evans, & Charlotte Flair
Just weird. Weird, weird, weird. This was bad high school theater. Charlotte knows next to nothing about pacing and this showed off all of her weaknesses. Nothing about this was believable. Lacey did what she could but she couldn’t save this. Anyway…
R-Truth vs. AJ Styles (w/ Omos)
Nice seeing R-Truth in a real match, short though it was. The look on AJ’s face when Truth sent him over the top rope. LOL! Loved the Cena “five moves of doom” too. LOL!! This didn’t last long but it was kinda fun. Nothing earth-shattering…but fun.
Nice little match here between AJ and Truth. I love how cocky AJ was and thought he would throw Truth over the top rope but would get reversed. Truth also paid tribute to his idol John Cena but that was about all that he could do in this match. AJ would regain the advantage and ended up picking up the win. AJ is the denier of entry into the Rumble and I do not mind that one bit because he has played the role quite well.
Alexa’s Playground – Alexa Bliss
Alexa is pure, twisted fun. She’s even a bit darker than Bray is. She just nails every aspect of this. She also does one heck of a Sister Abigail.
Alexa is truly excelling in this role and is kind of showing that she can be every bit of twisted that Bray can be. The way she goes from smiling to menacing is done very well and she is pulling this off perfectly. She is ready to add a new toy in the Raw Women’s Championship and we shall see if she is able to do that later in the night.
Gauntlet match – Riddle vs. Shelton Benjamin, “Prime” Cedric Alexander & MVP
This is apparently the night where people work more than one match. Reasons? I dunno. This one was fun though. The tension between Cedric and Shelton continues. Poor Shelton. Cedric totally screwed MVP. In fact, the tension even screwed MVP. He lost in less than a minute. When Cedric got in there, it became really fun. Cedric’s ego is completely out of control and it was all over this match. So much showboating. Fun final match. Lashley coming out to put the Hurt Lock on Riddle was a nice touch.
Nice gauntlet match here and they rarely disappoint in WWE. Riddle needs to beat Shelton, MVP and Cedric in order to get another crack at Lashley and we would see if he was up to the task. He had quite the nice back and forth with Shelton as his first match in the gauntlet and they have some nice chemistry. Cedric would interfere at times and that would be the undoing for Shelton in the match as he reversed a roll up by Riddle and Cedric’s distraction of the referee would cost him a shot at winning. Riddle would end up winning the first fall and MVP would try to keep peace between the two. That wouldn’t work as they continued arguing and that would cause MVP to be distracted and allowed Riddle to beat him. Cedric would then enter and had a nice back and forth with Riddle. Good work between the two and it really made me wonder how good of a match these two could have if they were given the proper time for it. Riddle would end up beating Cedric and earned another crack at Lashley. He didn’t have time to celebrate though as Lashley would beat him up after and place him in the Hurt Lock. I think Lashley has run his course with the US Championship and it is time for Riddle to get some gold.
Backstage segment – Edge
He cuts one heck of a promo – we already know that. He brought it here too. The sound was absolutely wretched but he got the job done. As for how I feel about him in the Royal Rumble, I can’t help but think of space and attention he’s taking from others who should be getting their shot, though I know WWE is trying to get lapsed viewers back by bringing him in again. Still, he’s worlds more compelling than Goldberg ever was so I’ll withhold judgment…for now.
There really is no denying how good Edge is on the mic and how he has somehow gotten better in his time away from WWE. I guess you can attribute that to his work as an actor during his time away. Good work by him as he recapped his journey to being able to wrestle again and his feud with Randy. Edge would end up declaring for the Rumble and would say how he is doing that because he wants to regain what he never lost. Edge was forced to relinquish the World Championship when he retired and never got a rematch for it. He could be a late favorite for the Rumble and wouldn’t be the worst choice.
Asuka vs. Alexa Bliss
What a completely bizarre match. This was part real match and part cinematic thing. What I really like is that there’s literally nothing about Alexa’s ring work that resembles the Alexa of old. Even her mannerisms are completely different. She’s a totally different wrestler in every way. She’s displaying a versatility that’s not seen often at all. She’s also displaying incredible acting skills. Her faux breakdown towards the end was just inspired. She became impervious to anything. Asuka is a great foil for this too. Alexa started getting weird and Asuka’s reactions were just perfect. She was completely game for all of this.
Can we also talk about the makeup job on Orton? He truly looked damaged by the Hadouken. It was just perfect. That RKO he delivered to Bliss was just vicious and cold. I loved it. What a way to end the show!
I knew there would be something screwy happening in this match when it was announced and that is what we got. Like Botch, I did enjoy how this was part regular match and part cinematic. Alexa really has embraced this character and has allowed it to show in her ring work as well. Asuka also did a great job in selling the craziness that was happening in the ring as well. Alexa would somehow transform into her normal self and I liked how Asuka sold the shock of seeing Alexa looking like her normal self. That didn’t last though as Alexa would transform into her more fiend-like version and she quickly took control. It seemed like she would have the match won when a certain person would appear. Randy Orton would appear with his burned face and gave Alexa an RKO. Randy stood over her as Raw came to a close and he clearly isn’t done playing with her.
I am totally curious as to what is next with Randy and Alexa and I wonder when Bray will return. They are clearly setting up for it and I love that I have no idea when it may happen.
Y O U K N O W W H A T T H A T M E A N S…
This was a tale of two shows. The first part of it was just disastrous and I nearly turned it off. Whether I have to write this or not, I was perfectly prepared to turn it off and take it in in smaller snatches so I wouldn’t just kill the whole thing unjustifiably. There was garbage (won’t recount it – just look above) and there was really fun stuff too. Mustafa may be finally making me care. This angle with Kofi and him should be just incredible. The back story is so potent and I can’t wait for it to really take off when Kofi comes back. The good outweighed the bad here and, on the whole, I enjoyed the show.
Overall, not a consistent episode of Raw at all. The beginning was not very good but it did pick up in the middle and really had a good end. The six-woman match was just a cluster and the opening stuff with Drew/Goldberg was a bore. I am starting to be reinterested in Retribution in this angle with Kofi/Woods and that is a good thing if they want them to matter. Sheamus and Morrison really put in work this week and gave us some great quality in their matches and the Miz helped too. The main event was plenty of fun and I am loving what they are doing with Alexa. All in all, not the best go-home episode but still had some good in it.