We are in the holiday season limbo. TLC is done and it’s weeks until Royal Rumble. Christmas is over, it’s not quite New Year, and everyone is at home anyway. It’s business as usual for RAW though. Alexa Bliss will continue to terrorise Randy Orton for setting fire to The Fiend. Charlotte Flair goes one on one with Nia Jax. Keith Lee and Sheamus get to settle their obvious issues with each other, with a shot at, their tag partner of last week, Drew McIntyre’s WWE Championship on the line. And Ricochet faces Mustafa Ali in the latest of Ali’s attempts to either recruit or destroy him.
I’m Amanda and this is the RAW review.
Keith Lee def. Sheamus
Gran Metalik def. The Miz
Shayna Baszler def. Dana Brooke
AJ Styles def. Elias
Charlotte Flair def. Nia Jax (DQ)
The Hurt Business def. The New Day, Jeff Hardy, & Riddle
Tonight’s RAW was dedicated to the memory of Jon Huber, known to WWE fans as Luke Harper and to AEW indie fans as Brodie Lee, who passed away this weekend. A shocking and tragic loss. He will be truly missed and our sympathies go to his family and friends.
♦ Drew McIntyre opened the show proper. He talked about the crazy year he’s had from Royal Rumble onwards and thanked all the fans for rallying behind him and motivating him every single week. It was being the fans’ chosen one to take him to the top.
Next week, he’ll be defending the title on Legends Night against either Keith Lee or Sheamus. We didn’t get to find out his thoughts on that because Sheamus came out to join him.
The chemistry between McIntyre and Sheamus makes fairly run of the mill segments special. They discussed the conversations they’ve had about facing each other for the WWE title. Fifteen years of conversations and they’re a week from making it happen.
Keith Lee, the man who could prevent that dream, arrived before they got any further. Lee is still annoyed about Sheamus kicking him in the face and because McIntyre vouched for him, he doesn’t trust him either. He warned McIntyre Sheamus would turn on him too. Sheamus yelled that it was those sort of comments that caused him to kicked him in the face in the first place.
McIntyre could see where it was going and called for a ref. Before he let them get into it, he told them it doesn’t matter who wins, the result will be the same. Drew McIntyre will still be champion. Sheamus Brogue kicked Lee in the face while he was trying to answer, and we went for a break.
Sheamus vs Keith Lee happened after the ads, with Drew McIntyre joining commentary for the match. He’s excited about facing whoever wins, but he has no doubts he’ll leave still the champion. He said this was going to be a very physical match, and he wasn’t wrong. They beat the hell out of each other. Lee chucked Sheamus over his shoulder out of the ring and flung him into the apron and post. Sheamus kneed him in the face and dived off the top rope to the outside, sending Lee sprawling onto the announce desk. After a hell of a match, Keith Lee got the pin with a huge Spirit Bomb. Lee and McIntyre had a brief standoff at the end. Next week’s match should be great.
♦ The Miz vs Gran Metalik happened mainly to demonstrate that Miz is still upset about losing the Money in the Bank cash-in and trying to get it back. It took him a while to get his head into the match and looked thoroughly miserable the entire time. Once he’d taken control, he had a full-on screaming tantrum about it while punishing Gran Metalik like it was his fault somehow. But and angry Miz is and easily distracted Miz. He got so caught up in his rage that he couldn’t keep track of the fast-moving Metalik and got pinned.
♦ Omos and AJ Styles demanded Elias stop playing his guitar. Jaxson Ryker yelled at Styles, and Omos stared at Ryker. Elias made a comment about Styles being upset about failing to capture the title and not having many more chances at this point in his career. Styles responded by challenging him to a match.
♦ Dana Brooke vs Shayna Baszler was brutal on Dana Brooke. She resisted Baszler’s elbow stomp, so Baszler trashed her arm against the apron instead. Baszler is laser-focused once she has a target. But Dana Brooke is nothing is not resilient and she fought back one-armed. Baszler allowed herself to become distracted attacking Mandy Rose while Brooke was down on the outside and Brooke dropped her on her face on the apron. Dana Brooke had a couple of good chances from there but tapped out in a Kirifuda Clutch. Shayna Baszler turned back after she’d left the ring and put Mandy Rose in a Kirifuda as well.
♦ Alexa Bliss was in her playground again. She thinks The Fiend might be waiting for Legends Night next week for his return, or maybe he’s waiting for Randy Orton. On that note, she invited Orton out. He didn’t arrive, even when she tried a second time. It turned out, he was in the Firefly Fun House. He kicked Huskus, used Mercy to knock Abby out of her window, and ripped Rambin Rabbit’s head off. Bliss was incensed. She challenged Orton to a match with her. He was convinced that The Fiend would return to save her, so he accepted.
♦ We got a look back to June when Nia Jax side-lined Charlotte Flair for six months in a backstage attack, before Charly Caruso asked Flair if she was ready. She is. Nia is a great competitor and to be feared, but she will always back herself. Caruso asked if Flair had any new year’s resolutions. She said she has the same one every year, to climb to the top and stay there. Asuka appeared at the end and said Nia Jax is not ready for Charlotte Flair.
♦ AJ Styles, with Omos, vs Elias, with Jaxson Ryker, was decent. I was waiting for the bodyguards to get involved. There was a stare-down when Ryker moved to attack Styles on the outside and Omos got between them, but it came to nothing. Styles kicked out of Drift Away, and a TKO. Elias dominated long portions of the match, but it doesn’t mean a thing if you can’t get the three count. That went to AJ Styles off a Phenomenal Forearm.
♦ On last week’s RAW Talk, Ricochet said he doesn’t want to be involved with RETRIBUTION, but he also doesn’t want to be the one people step over to further their careers anymore. If that means trying something a little different, who knows. Ali sent a message saying Ricochet needs to change. He’s the one and only, but one man can’t change anything, and he needs to accept them as his allies. That potentially put some extra weight on Ricochet vs Mustafa Ali, with RETRIBUTION. The presence of the rest of RETRIBUTION at ringside guaranteed it wouldn’t be a fair fight, and it wasn’t. While Reckoning and SlapJack distracted the ref, T-BAR and MACE pulled Ricochet from the apron into the barricades so Ali could land a splash from the top turnbuckle to the floor. The bits of the match that were just the two of them, were great. Ricochet almost pinned Ali with the kickback but pulled Ali from the ring. SlapJack, T-BAR and MACE got up on the apron. Ricochet DDT’d T-Bar to the floor, dropkicked SlapJack, and escaped MACE. Back in the ring, he flung Ali into the post then had to deal with MACE again before he went to the top. Mustafa Ali got his knees up for Ricochet’s shooting star and tapped him out in a koji clutch.
After the match, Ali asked Ricochet when he was going to realise he had no chance, then offered him the chance to join RETRIBUTION again. Ricochet declined, gave Ali a Recoil, then got the hell out of there before anyone else got to him.
♦ Drew McIntyre’s planning to give the legends a title match they’ll never forget. He’s excited that Keith Lee stepped up and he can see he’s got the spark he needs to reach the top of WWE. Next week they’ll do battle and beat the hell out of each other. He’s happy for Lee because it’s his chance to show the world what he can do. On his best night, Keith Lee can beat any superstar in the locker room, except him.
♦ Charly Caruso interviewed Nia Jax, with Shayna Baszler, about Flair’s interview. She said Flair’s fear warms her heart. She has a couple of resolutions of her own. One, to stop Flair’s climb to the top. Two, get the tag titles back. And three, officially enter the women’s rumble match, throw everyone over the top rope, and go to WrestleMania and face the champion. Baszler hadn’t been prepared for the third one, but after Jax left she told Caruso she kind of liked that idea.
Charlotte Flair, with Asuka, vs Nia Jax, with Shayna Baszler, was good. Flair wanted payback for her injury and, as Asuka predicted, Nia Jax was not ready. Asuka had Flair’s back when Baszler tried intimidating her and Jax’ attempt to catch Flair distracted ended with Jaz crashing into the steps. Flair got careless by tyring to put a figure four on too close to the corner and got the back of her head smashed into it. Baszler got up on the apron and threw Asuka over the announce desk when she arrived to help out. Flair got the figure four on Jax anyway, but before she could bridge, Shayna Baszler invaded the ring and put Flair in a Kirifuda to cause the disqualification. Asuka got back in time to save Flair from further damage.
♦ The Hurt Business is bullying staff members again.
♦ Angel Garza told Charly Caruso his year has been up and down but the new year brings new opportunities. He’s thinking of introducing himself to one of the female legends next week. He wouldn’t tell her who the rose he was holding was for, but he gave it to her after R-Truth knocked it out of his hand and he and the 24/7 chasing pack trampled it.
♦ Riddle’s attempt at team names didn’t go down well with his teammates for The New Day, Jeff Hardy, & Riddle vs The Hurt Business. Bobby Lashley declared himself for the Royal Rumble match during their entrance. Fun match to watch. Total chaos in places and highly entertaining. It’s tough to get a pin in an eight-man tag. There’s always someone to break it up. After a particularly chaotic period, Lashley tapped Jeff Hardy out in the Hurt Lock. The Hurt Business won the match, but their post-match attack didn’t go so well. Woods and Kingston sent Benjamin and Alexander into the ring post and apron, and Lashley got kicked in the face by Riddle.
♦ John Morrison was trying to cheer Miz up, with zero success. Adam Pearce arrived and managed it very quickly. Miz was right. Only the Money in the Bank contract holder can cash in the briefcase and that’s not Morrison. Miz is once again Mr Money in the Bank. They waited until Pearce had left before doing their victory dance.
♦ Alexa Bliss didn’t appear match ready when she arrived in the ring for her scheduled match against Randy Orton. She was still wearing a radio mic and a dress. She looked scarily angry though. Orton demanded to know where ‘he’ was. Bliss said it’s not about ‘him’ it’s about her. She got out of the ring and retrieved a wrapped present, which she opened in front of Orton. It contained a can of petrol and a match. She set them in front of Orton, challenged him to do to her what he did to him, and laid down in the ring. When he didn’t, she got up and poured a puddle of fuel and a trail leading to Orton, then laid back down in it.
Of course, Orton still wouldn’t do it. Crying, she poured a ring of fuel around herself and tried baiting Orton into doing it, but he wouldn’t. She called him ‘Nothing but a little bitch’, then doused herself in fuel.
Orton said, ‘You think that I won’t do it’ and picked up the matches. He said he wants to do it but he knows she wants him to and he’s trying to process that. When he said maybe he would, the lights went off with the sound effects. The light that came back on was a match, held by Randy Orton. And that was the end of the show.
Next week is Legends Night. They’re trotting out Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Torrie Wilson, Big Show, ‘and many more’. I’m less interested in that than in Drew McIntyre versus Keith Lee. I’m sure it will be a fun show. I believe WWE should have put together a better tribute to Jon Huber. Nice as it was, the dedication was the bare minimum. He deserved better than that. There were tributes from the superstars, like Xavier Woods’ BRODIE armband and both Drew McIntyre using, ‘It’s Monday, you know what that means…’ as part of their intros. But the company should have done more.