WWE announced on Monday afternoon that WWE Champion Drew McIntyre has tested positive for COVID-19 and has been placed into quarantine. He will appear on RAW, presumably via video link, to address the situation. Triple H will be opening the show. And that’s all we know from the preview.
I’m Amanda and this is the RAW review.
Lacey Evans def. Charlotte Flair
Jaxson Ryker def. Jeff Hardy
Jeff Hardy def. Elias
Sheamus & Keith Lee def. The Miz & John Morrison
Keith Lee def. Sheamus
T-Bar def. Xavier Woods
Bobby Lashley def. Riddle
Riddle def. MVP (DQ)
AJ Styles def. Drew Gulak
Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler def. Mandy Rose & Dana Brooke
Triple H vs Randy Orton – No Contest
♦ Triple H made a snarky comment about the piped-in crowd noise when he got to the ring. We didn’t get to find out what he had to say, except it’s a difficult time because Randy Orton showed up almost immediately.
Orton said the office decided to show up because Drew McIntyre couldn’t and reminded him he was supposed to have a pretty big match tonight. He asked if Triple H was going to hand him the title or name him as number 30 in the Rumble match as McIntyre wasn’t there.
Triple H said Orton would have to win the rumble match if he wanted to be champion. He’s been impressed with Orton’s work over the past year, like setting The Fiend on fire. He was proud of him for that, but he doesn’t understand some of the other things Orton has done. He doesn’t understand him threatening, humiliating, and attacking legends. There’s no benefit for him. Setting fire to The Fiend is different, you live by the sword you die by the sword. But there’s no benefit to attacking Ric Flair. All it did was solidify that Randy Orton is not a legend, he’s none of the things he said he is. He’s just a no-good prick.
Orton challenged him to a fight, not a match, with a lot of goading and a suggestion he may take Triple H’s legend out for good. Triple H said Orton was smart enough to know that when someone wants you to do something you don’t give them the satisfaction. There’s no benefit to it for him, so the answer’s no. Orton said it wasn’t that there was no benefit it was that Stephanie wasn’t there so Triple H couldn’t retrieve his balls from her purse. Triple H punched him in the face. Orton took it as a yes, but no agreement was actually made.
♦ Charlotte Flair called Lacey Evans classless in her interview with Sarah Schreiber and said she’s not the first woman to hit on her dad in front of her. But her dad is her dad and she loves him. They’re ok, Ric raised her and he knows how it is. She questioned why Schreiber was asking about him when she was about to have a match, then told her she was going to
Lacey Evans also had an interview. She thinks Charlotte Flair needs to calm down. Last week she didn’t flirt with anyone who didn’t want to be flirted with. Ric Flair is Charlotte’s dad, but to her, he’s a charming, handsome, powerful man’s man, and who wouldn’t want that. She dedicated the match to Flair and blew a kiss to the camera for him.
Charlotte Flair vs Lacey Evans was the first match of the show. It was going fine then Ric Flair showed up in the middle. Charlotte just looked at him because she thought he was at home and last week she told him to stay out of her business. He just watched the match from ringside, until right at the end, but Lacey Evans immediately started playing up to him. When Flair went for a pin off Natural Selection, too close to the ropes, Ric put Evans’ leg over the ropes. Charlotte knew what he’d done and almost got caught with a Woman’s Right while arguing with him. Instead, she got Evans on the apron and picked her up to suplex her back into the ring. Ric pulled Charlotte’s leg out from under her and Lacey Evans pinned her.
Ric Flair left with Evans, saying ‘Somebody wants me here’. Backstage, after a break, Sarah Schreiber tried to get a word from Evans, but all she said was she thinks she’ll change the hotel.
♦ In a short video shown just before the Flair vs Evans match kicked off, Drew McIntyre confirmed he tested positive and said he’s lucky because he has no symptoms. He gave a public information broadcast-style warning about following guidelines – wear your mask, keep your distance, wash your hands etc. – and staying safe.
♦ Sheamus interrupted Keith Lee’s interview to say that last week Lee earned McIntyre’s respect, and if Drew respects him then Sheamus respects him. Miz and Morrison turned up as well. Sheamus asked Lee if he’d seen Dumb and Dumber, Lee asked which one was Dumber, Morrison said Miz was. Anyway, they challenged Sheamus and Lee to a tag match and they accepted.
♦ Jeff Hardy was supposed to have another match against Elias, but Elias has a debilitating music-related injury (his thumb is all bandaged up because he played too much guitar), so we got Jeff Hardy vs Jaxson Ryker instead. Elias joined commentary for about thirty seconds to complain about his injury, then got up and distracted Jeff Hardy so Ryker could pin him.
Hardy challenged Elias to get in the ring with him. When Elias refused Hardy said it wasn’t the injury it was that people would see that Ryker is better than him. Elias told Ryker not to interfere, then got in the ring. So, we got Jeff Hardy vs Elias anyway. Jaxson Ryker kept his word and didn’t interfere, even when Hardy delivered the Twist of Fate and followed up with a Swanton Bomb for the win. Predictably, Elias berated Ryker for not helping him.
♦ Sheamus & Keith Lee vs The Miz & John Morrison was fun. Considering they couldn’t be in the same place without punching each other a couple of weeks ago, Lee and Sheamus worked great together and it was all very harmonious. The match was going great until Lee charged into Morrison so hard in the corner that the top turnbuckle came off, flattening Morrison in the process. They fixed that during the break, and the match carried on. Miz and Morrison had Sheamus isolated for a lot of the second half. Miz messed it up because he couldn’t resist trash-talking Lee and he gave Sheamus a few seconds too long to recover. Keith Lee had everything all lined up to pin Morrison. He’d dealt with Miz after he broke up a pin and set Morrison up. Sheamus tagged himself in and Brogue Kicked Morrison for the finish.
Happily, Keith Lee has a sense of humour and took it quite well. There were celebratory smiles and even a bro-hug.
♦ Triple H said he came here in a business capacity, not to fight, but things change. Since Randy Orton can’t get it into his head that people like Ric Flair paved the way for him. And since Orton called him out and wants to see if he’s still got it, if he’s still The Game. Yes. He accepts.
♦ Keith Lee vs Sheamus was just starting after a break. It seems the friendly camaraderie didn’t last very long because they were absolutely furious with each other. They beat each other silly and turned each other’s chest to mince. Lee dumped Sheamus into the timekeeper’s area and he nearly got counted out. Sheamus injured Lee’s arm by bashing it into the ring post repeatedly. Unfortunately for Sheamus, he didn’t damage it badly enough to avoid the Spirit Bomb that cost him the match.
Sheamus slapped away McIntyre’s offered fistbump away and hugged him.
♦ Drew McIntyre, via video again, responded to Goldberg’s challenge. He said he didn’t expect to see him after he’d just finished being pushed to his absolute limit by Keith Lee. He wanted to thank the legends who were watching him, but he didn’t get the chance because of Goldberg’s arrival. Goldberg was one of his favourites growing up and he wanted to like him, but you should never meet your heroes because they will always disappoint. McIntyre said Goldberg challenging him was like him challenging himself in his prime. He didn’t want to accept, but then Goldberg put his hands on him. Goldberg accused him of not having any respect for the legends, but McIntyre thinks it’s Goldberg who needs a lesson in respect. So, at Royal Rumble, Goldberg, ‘You’re next’.
♦ Riddle confused Lucha House Party by comparing the feeling of an upcoming match to getting his favourite pizza. In return, they confused him by telling him to watch his back and left him trying to figure out how to do that.
♦ Xavier Woods vs T-BAR, with RETRIBUTION, was fine but Woods was at a distinct numbers disadvantage. Mustafa Ali shouted instructions and encouragement to T-BAR throughout, so he couldn’t forget they were all there waiting, and poor Woods was all alone. RETRIBUTION spent most of the time hanging out by commentary, but the edged closer when Woods was in full control and had kicked T-Bar clean out of the ring. They didn’t do anything, but the distraction was enough to give T-BAR an in to repeatedly drag Woods into the ropes, wrenching his shoulder then pinned him off a knee to the face.
♦ Randy Orton said he and Triple H go way back and Triple H knows him better than Orton knows himself. Or he used to, but now Orton has this self-hatred he’s embracing and channelling, it’s different. He can use that self-hate and redirect it onto someone else, someone like Triple H.
♦ Bobby Lashley vs Riddle took a long time to officially start because Lashley wouldn’t stop beating Riddle up long enough for the ref to check on him. Riddle was bleeding from the mouth before the bell rang and things didn’t get any better for him when it did. He took a really grim-looking fall, bouncing off the top rope to the apron then the floor. When Lashley followed him out, Riddle shoved him into the post. For a few moments, Riddle had hope, and even something approaching momentum. A few more moments and he was tapping in the Hurt Lock.
As MVP and Lashley were leaving, Riddle challenged him to a match saying he couldn’t beat Lashley tonight but he could beat him.
Riddle vs MVP shouldn’t have happened. Riddle was bleeding and battered, and MVP had to fight in his shirt, shoes, and suit trousers. MVP had it his way for a minute but Riddle turned it around enough to take a moment to kick Lashley in the face from the apron. As soon as Riddle came off the top rope to try for a finish, Lashley speared him and caused the DQ. Lashley handed out the beatdown while MVP watched. When it appeared to be over, MVP went back and kicked Riddle in the ribs hard enough to leave Riddle screaming in the mat. Technically though, Riddle did beat MVP tonight, albeit by DQ.
♦ AJ Styles spoke to Adam Pearce about the possibility of them facing each other at WrestleMania if by some fluke Pearce beats Roman Reigns at Royal Rumble and Styles wins the rumble match. He fancies his chances considering he has Omos by his side.
Drew Gulak tried to declare himself for the rumble match and Pearce wouldn’t let him. Complaining that it was a double standard because Styles got to declare himself, and trying to give Pearce a flash drive with career highlights on it, didn’t go well. Pearce told Gulak he could be in the Rumble match if he beats Styles. Gulak didn’t look too scared until Omos stepped beside Styles.
AJ Styles, with Omos, vs Drew Gulak was fun if a little short. Styles threw Gulak out of the ring towards the end of the match. Omos stood next to Gulak, no more than that, and Gulak just laid there until Styles collected him and bounced him off the announce desk before throwing him back in the ring. Styles re-entered with a Phenomenal Forearm and Drew Gulak’s Royal Rumble chance was over.
♦ We got an in-depth look at Goldberg’s career for any new casuals.
♦ Keith Lee offered to take the Orton match on Triple H’s behalf, but Triple H said he had to do it. He made this mess, he has to clean it up.
♦ Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler vs Mandy Rose & Dana Brooke was short but interesting. Rose and Brooke declared themselves for the rumble match in a video during their entrance. They’re planning to throw Jax and Baszler out. There’s no fear of Jax and Baszler anymore from Brooke and Rose, but that didn’t stop Nia Jax taking Brooke apart before she got to Rose on Baszler’s watch. Rose had the measure of Baszler, or so it seemed. Jax pulled Rose off a cover and headbutted her to the ground, then tagged in. Brooke broke the pin off a Samoan drop but paid for it with Baszler’s knee in her spine. Jax was going to finish Rose with a splash, but Baszler tagged herself in and tapped her out with the Kirifuda Clutch.
Jax accepted it but kept giving Baszler sideways looks. That partnership is not holding much longer.
♦ Triple H vs Randy Orton is a nostalgia main event of the highest order. This was t-shirt and trousers Triple H, to denote his lack of preparation. Orton cut his cheek on the steps when Triple H flung him into them. He also got slammed onto the announce desk, but the desk didn’t break. Triple H got the sledgehammer from under the ring but as he got back in the lights started to go off, the Fiend style. Sadly, that was as much match as we got. Triple H raised the sledgehammer and it was on fire, then the lights went off completely. They came back on in purple, Triple H had vanished and a distorted Firefly Fun House music played before Alexa Bliss appeared in the corner. Orton took a few steps towards her and she took two towards him and shot fire at him. Orton was left clutching his face and staggering around.
There was a noticeable amount of filler in tonight’s show, which is completely understandable if they’ve had a virus outbreak. Triple H stepping into the ring feels like a classic last-minute ‘do what you’ve got to do’ situation, even if was only for half a match. Sheamus, Keith Lee, Riddle, and Jeff Hardy all pulled double-duty tonight. Clearly, some gaps were in need of filling and they stepped up. There’s a certain nostalgia value in Triple H versus Randy Orton, and in the current situation, that might have been enough.