The big advertised match of tonight’s RAW is the triple-threat featuring AJ Styles, Riddle, and Keith Lee to decide Drew McIntyre’s challenger at TLC. McIntyre will also have an interview on the show. Speaking of interviews, Alexa Bliss is hosting A Moment of Bliss, with Randy Orton again. The only other match on the card is Jeff Hardy versus Elias in a ‘Symphony of Destruction’ match, which is exactly what you’re imaging it to be.
I’m Amanda and this is the RAW review
Jeff Hardy def. Elias
SlapJack def. Ricochet
Asuka & Lana def. Shayna Baszler & Nia Jax
Cedric Alexander def. Xavier Woods
AJ Styles def. Riddle and Keith Lee
Dana Brooke def. Reckoning
Drew McIntyre & Sheamus def. The Miz & John Morrison (DQ)
♦ A Moment of Bliss opened the show and Alexa Bliss wasted no time bringing out Randy Orton. Before any talking, she showed the moments of Orton’s match against AJ Styles last week when The Fiend distracted Orton.
Unsurprisingly, The Fiend was the topic of conversation. She asked Orton if he’d asked himself why The Fiend is doing that to him. Orton said he’s known Bray Wyatt a long time but hasn’t been formally introduced to The Fiend. He thinks they have a lot on common, but The Fiend wears his pain on the exterior for everyone to see and he keeps his bottled up so he can blend in. They both hear voices, but the voices The Fiend hears are Orton’s. He’s realised he needs to find The Fiend’s weakness the way he found Bray Wyatt’s and burn it to the ground. And he thinks he’s found it. It’s Bliss.
Bliss asked if that’s what the voices are telling him and questioned who’s manipulating who.
The lights went off when they were face to face, or chest to face as Bliss is so tiny. When they came back on, Bliss was laying in Orton’s arms and The Fiend was in the ring. He approached carefully and slowly and held his arms out for Orton to pass her across. The second Randy Orton handed Bliss over he was out of the ring and up the ramp asking, ‘Who’s laughing now?’
♦ Musical instruments surrounded the ring for Jeff Hardy vs Elias ‘Symphony of Destruction’ match. I hope they were all already old and irreparably damaged, but if they weren’t, they soon would be. R-Truth was found hiding in a piano by Elias mid-match and they were joined by the 24/7 chasing pack. Hardy and Elias found themselves briefly on the same page while hitting the intruders with guitars. The instruments all got used for destruction, of course, and Elias got creative. He stuck guitar picks between the fingers of his clenched fist and repeatedly hit Hardy with them. They used the fixtures and fittings as well, ring post, barricades, steps etc. Elias thought he’d got Jeff Hardy when he swatted him out of the air with a guitar (right on the butt), but Hardy grabbed the rope.
The beginning of the end when Elias tried to ran the neck of a guitar into Jeff Hardy and hardy ducked. The guitar neck went into a speaker and Elias was electrocuted before Hardy hit him with a double bass. Hardy Laid Elis on a table at ringside and covered him in small musical instruments then delivered a Swanton Bomb from the top of the ring post for the win. Hardy landed with his neck across the bottom step, but he walked out ok.
♦ Riddle ran into Keith Lee in the corridor and talked at him so much Lee walked away. Riddle didn’t notice until he was looking for a response.
♦ Mustafa Ali still wants Ricochet in RETRIBUTION. He said they’ve all had promises made to them turn into lies, just like Ricochet has. SlapJack added his story or how Ali made him see that he’d been forgotten but that he could be a weapon for RETRIBUTION. SlapJack vs Ricochet was designed to be the consequence for refusing to join, and maybe it will make Ricochet see things Ali’s way. Ricochet said he thought, at first, he could save Ali from the path of self-destruction. But now he knows he doesn’t need to save him he needs to surpass him. Maybe that will make him see he’s going about things the wrong way.
Ali was the only one to accompany SlapJack to the ring, but Ali called T-BAR and MACE down at the first sign that SlapJack might be in trouble. It got messy after that. Ricochet took them all except Ali down after throwing SlapJack at them. Dana Brooke arrived and slapped Ali. Ricochet found himself trying to deal with all of RETRIBUTION again and got pinned while yelling at Ali. In a later tweet, he called the finisher a SlapJack SnapBack
♦ The whole show was built around the return of Drew McIntyre after his absence of an entire week. Video packages of how great his year has been shown throughout. Not only is he due an interview on the show, but he’ll also be teaming with Sheamus against The Miz and John Morrison.
♦ Tribute to the Troops is on Sunday (hopefully not clashing with NXT TakeOver: War Games). It’s generally only shown in the US, but check the channels where you are.
♦ Miz TV had Sheamus as the special guest, which is an interesting thing to do when you’ve got a match against him later. It would appear that he was invited on so Miz and Morrison could drive a wedge between Sheamus and Drew McIntyre before the match. Sheamus wasn’t having it. They tried, ‘Drew was selfish and unappreciative for the heirlooms Sheamus gave back’. They tried ‘Sheamus is jealous and Drew should have given him a title shot if they were friends’. Then Miz tried to convince Sheamus to help them take McIntyre down tonight so Miz could cash in. When Sheamus laughed, Miz told him that the only thing he should be laughing at is his career because it’s a joke.
Sheamus took his coat and hat off, told Miz the difference between them was that Miz loves to run his mouth but he likes to use his hands, then he punched them in the dace. He threw Miz out of the ring and beat on Morrison until Miz came back and hit him with the MITB briefcase. From the way Sheamus went down, Miz must be keeping lead weights in there.
♦ Asuka & Lana vs Shayna Baszler & Nia Jax happened because the shenanigans last week were apparently not enough. Asuka psyched Lana up before the match. Sarah Schreiber asked Lana about their strategy while Asuka was doing her entrance. Lana told her she wouldn’t understand, but Shayna and Nia were about to. In their interview, Baszler blamed Jax for their loss. Jax said Baszler was the one who got pinned. They’ve been arguing all week, but they both agreed they were going to win then put Lana through a table.
Lana and Asuka got their tandem baseball slides caught by Jax and Baszler. We went into the break with them being swung back and forth against the barricades on each side of the tag champs, like some kind of odd workout. By the time we came back, Lana was being beaten up by Nia Jax, then by Shayna Baszler, then by Jax again. Lana only caught a break when she managed to slip off Jax’ back and shove her into the post. Baszler almost stopped Lana tagging out, but she got there and Asuka came in fired up and ready to go.
It was Lana who got the win, officially anyway. Baszler had Lana in a Kirifuda Clutch and Jax pulled Asuka off the apron so she couldn’t tag out. Asuka shrugged Jax off and broke the count with a knee to Baszler’s head. That knocked her out, so Lana pinned her. Asuka grabbed Lana and helped her escape before a furious Nia Jax could get to them.
♦ Drew McIntyre thought Miz hitting Sheamus with the briefcase was funny. Sheamus was a tad cross to start with and berated McIntyre for not helping him. But they got back on the same page by the end of their conversation and plan to finish what Miz and Morrison started.
♦ Before Xavier Woods, with Kofi Kingston, vs Cedric Alexander, with MVP and Shelton Benjamin, got started Woods and Kingston celebrated Woods being named as a new host of G4. They had a flashback rundown of The Hurt Business failing to beat them three times, just to show off Woods hosting skills. MVP disputed their figures and said they were all square and next time they’ll beat them. Cedric Alexander attacked Woods before the bell and stole the title belt from him… pretty sure that’s not how it works but he seemed very pleased with himself. Joining The Hurt Business has made Cedric Alexander a very angry young man.
People don’t talk about how good Xavier Woods is often enough. The match was great. Cedric Alexander got the win with a Lumbar Check, but instead of celebrating with the MVP and Benjamin, he wandered off up the ramp on his own screaming about being the best.
♦ Riddle found AJ Styles and his associate, Omos, and annoyed Styles. He compared him to his rabbit, which Omos found funny.
Interestingly, Keith Lee vs AJ Styles vs Riddle – Sudden Death Triple-threat to decide Drew McIntyre’s TLC Challenger – was not the main event of the show, so I guess that goes to McIntyre’s tag match. It happened at the start of the third hour, and it was a really good match. Omos helped Styles out, catching him and putting him on the apron, but it wasn’t a decisive interference. Keith Lee had Riddle hanging off him in an armbar for ages and even used him to knock Styles down. It didn’t get Riddle anywhere though. Riddle tried to powerbomb Lee, but his back gave out because he held him on his shoulders for too long.
It is AJ Styles who will go to TLC. Riddle landed a pair of knees on Keith Lee that had Lee rolling out of the ring. AJ Styles delivered a Phenomenal Forearm to Riddle and got the pin.
♦ Charly Caruso picked Miz up on giving her a word salad instead of the plan she’d asked him about. He didn’t have an answer for her and Morrison dragged him off saying he had an idea.
♦ Dana Brooke vs Reckoning, with Mustafa Ali, was the first match for Reckoning since her arrival, and about time too. Reckoning lost her mask within the first couple of seconds, but it’s not like we didn’t know it was Mia Yim. Brooke was out for revenge for Reckoning taking her Survivor Series opportunity and it made her more aggressive than we’ve seen her before. The fury worked in her favour. Brooke even got another shot in on Ali before she pinned Reckoning with a rollup.
Ali yelled at Reckoning after the match, telling her there is no failure in RETRIBUTION and she’d embarrassed him. Making her lose her first match is a weird
♦ Miz and Morrison tried to get Styles to help them take down Drew McIntyre so Miz could cash in. They brought a peach pie to sweeten the deal. Styles agreed to help them because it’ll be easier for him to beat Miz at TLC than McIntyre. Styles was happy with the pie Omos described as a cupcake…
♦ Riddle pitched more business ideas to MVP. MVP told him he was ridiculous and he’s glad he lost. Riddle got in MVP’s face and was grabbed from behind and put to sleep by Bobby Lashley’s Hurt Lock.
♦ Keith Lee approached Sheamus trying to find out if he was planning to turn on Drew McIntyre. Sheamus told him it was none of his business.
Charly Caruso conducted the interview with Drew McIntyre before the main event. She asked him to talk her through his last couple of weeks, regaining the title then facing Roman Reigns at Survivor Series. He said it was good to be stood there are champion, then did as she asked. He does think he achieved his aim of humbling Roman Reigns, it was only due to Jey Uso that Reigns won. Next time it will be different. They talked about TLC and said he has no beef with Styles but the match will be phenomenal. As for The Miz and the threat of a cash-in, he said the briefcase was the only thing keeping him relevant and threatened to stuff Morrison in it and ‘shove it where the sun don’t shine’.
Drew McIntyre & Sheamus vs The Miz & John Morrison closed the show. AJ Styles joined commentary for the match. There was a little tension between Sheamus and McIntyre when McIntyre tagged himself in. They’d built so many potential twists into this match over the course of the show – would Sheamus turn, would Styles interfere, would Miz have a chance to cash in – that there was a sense of waiting for something to happen and the match just being a preliminary event. That said, it was good.
McIntyre got a good spin on Morrison with a shoulder barge. Miz saved Morrison from getting his chest caved in by Sheamus and took the blows himself, which wasn’t his intention. Sheamus got into an argument with Styles and got dropkicked onto the announce desk by Morrison. Sheamus was kept isolated from McIntyre for a long time, but they couldn’t keep him away forever and McIntyre levelled everyone. Sheamus wanted back in when McIntyre was setting up for a Claymore, but McIntyre hesitated and Morrison pulled Sheamus off the apron and shoved him into the post and over the barricade.
AJ Styles caused the disqualification at that point by delivering a Phenomenal Forearm to McIntyre. Miz and Morrison weren’t happy he cost them the match, but Morrison delivered Star Ship Pain to McIntyre and Miz gave him a Skull Crushing Finale. Styles tried to hand the ref the briefcase but Miz took it off him. By the time Miz decided he wanted to cash in, McIntyre was up. Morrison went over the top rope. Miz took a Claymore, and Omos lifted Styles out of the ring before he could come to any harm. He carried him out over his shoulder with Styles making threats like a chihuahua yapping at a big dog from the safety of a carrier.
That was a perfectly decent episode of RAW, without being anything more than that. It’s all ticking over nicely and the payoffs to a lot of the current storylines will be great. Monthly PPVs do make it feel like there’s a lot of ‘stuff’ to cram into each episode though.