With the Royal Rumble 24 hours earlier (you can read all about that here), this week’s RAW was always going to be chiefly concerned with the fallout from the second biggest show of the year. While it was clearly top of the agenda, this week’s episode also moved a few stories along, started some new feuds, posed some questions and finally closed the book on one big rivalry.
This week’s RAW opened with an appearance by WWE Champion Drew McIntyre, fresh off his win over Goldberg at the Royal Rumble the previous night. Drew welcomed everyone to Monday Night RAW, before explaining that the Road to WrestleMania is now underway. McIntyre reflected on the match with Goldberg and the “war” they went through (in the history of war, it must rank as one of the shorter, less memorable conflicts) earning each other’s respect in the process. He then ran through all the matches from the Rumble praising all of the competitors individually, with special praise reserved for Bianca Belair. As he began to discuss the men’s Rumble match, he was interrupted by Edge’s theme blasting out in the ThunderDome.
The Rated-R Superstar made his way down the ramp gingerly, with a pronounced limp from his herculean effort only 24 hours earlier in running the table during the men’s Rumble match. Drew said he was “literally about to get to Edge” and asked if he could take a minute to talk about Edge’s achievements. Mcintyre thanked Edge for years of mentoring and talked about being there when Edge retired the first time. Drew then went on to describe the experience of Edge coming back during last year’s Royal Rumble from his perspective. He talked about Edge’s injury and triumphant return going from number one to outlast everyone in the Rumble match. Drew said he is “Happy and Proud” for Edge.
Edge responded, saying he “appreciates the compliments”, and agreed that he likes McIntyre and has been happy to be a mentor to him, but also said he has to be blunt and asked Drew, “What is wrong with you?” Edge went on to explain that, by virtue of winning the Rumble, he is now an immediate and viable threat to Drew’s title, something Drew should know only too well having been in the same position last year. Edge couldn’t understand why Drew would be complimenting him rather than kicking his head off.
McIntyre suggested that those are the actions of an “opportunist” and that’s not the sort of champion he is (presumably, we are supposed to ignore the build to WrestleMania last year where he did just that on at least one occasion with Brock Lesnar). Edge replied saying “you’re right, you’re not me”, but before he could finish his thought, Sheamus wandered out.
The Celtic Warrior (dressed in what I can only assume is what Vince McMahon thinks the Irish population wears, sigh) sarcastically congratulated Edge. He claimed Edge should be happy and flattered by the respect McIntyre is showing, and said he’s not happy that Edge is questioning Drew and how he conducts himself, especially after Drew had carried the company during the past year while Edge was sitting at home. Sheamus got closer to Edge and told him that, while Drew wants to take the high road, he does not.
McIntyre intervened, thanking Sheamus for his “enthusiasm” but essentially asking him to back off. Drew then asked Edge to make his decision, or whether he had to “make it for him.” Edge quickly replied, reminding Drew that he is the Ultimate Opportunist, and he’ll make his decision and that Drew will definitely know when that decision has been made. Edge continued, observing that Drew is playing a dangerous game, and has a target on his back while looking at Sheamus.
Before leaving, Edge again reiterated that he will make his decision when he is ready, but that whoever he chooses, he will be walking out of WrestleMania as the World Champion. As he walked up the ramp, he looked back to see Sheamus and Drew smiling and chatting in the ring and he gave a weary glare of an older veteran, which McIntyre met as he held up his title.
However, the segment was not over as Drew turned around and walked into a Brogue Kick from Sheamus, finally completing the turn that has been teased for so many weeks. Sheamus walked up the ramp angrily as McIntyre slumped on the canvas.
A strong opening segment that establishes Edge as the likely challenger for Drew McIntyre, but continues to tease that he has yet to make a decision on which belt to challenge for at ‘WrestleMania.’ Equally, the Sheamus turn was solid, if not entirely expected and it offers a strong TV programme for McIntyre over the next two PPVs, especially as Edge will presumably not be on TV every week.
After the break, Charly Caruso caught up with Sheamus backstage looking for an explanation. Sheamus said he’s tired of being seen as just Drew McIntyre’s friend, he is no longer a friend and he wants the WWE Championship. Simple and to the point promo from Sheamus, but it was exactly what was required.
United States Championship: Bobby Lashley ( C ) vs Riddle
Riddle made his way to ring, complete with augmented reality floating flip-flops and pyro for his in-ring flip-flop-kick-off move, as footage was shown of him earning the US title match last week. Bobby Lashley was out next flanked by MVP.
After the introductions, things got underway with Riddle quick out of the corner throwing strikes with Lashley, until Lashley responded with a takedown to take control. He followed up with a delayed vertical suplex. However, as Lashley rushed towards Riddle, he was caught with a headscissors which Riddle used to leverage him over the top rope to the floor. Riddle missed the follow-up kick from the apron, but then hit a big springboard Floating Bro to the floor. Riddle rolled Lashley back into the ring, but as he tried to re-enter Lashley locked in the Hurt Lock through the ropes. As the referee counted to five, Lashley refused to break the hold and was disqualified.
Winner by DQ: Riddle – Lashley retains the US Title
After the bell, Lashley re-applied the submission to Riddle on the floor, dragging him around like a rag doll and eventually throwing him into the barrier, releasing the hold in the process. As MVP tried to talk some sense into Lashley, he returned to Riddle applying the hold a third time and tossing riddle over the barricade. As MVP again tried to calm him down, Lashley walked off enraged but MVP was left smiling at the intensity of Bobby Lashley.
A short match that showcased Riddle’s athleticism, but the larger story was Bobby Lashley “snapping”. Presumably, this programme will continue, with Riddle looking for revenge in the coming weeks.
After a recap of the Women’s Tag Team Title Match from the Royal Rumble Pre-show, it was announced that Asuka and Charlotte Flair would face Dana Brooke and Mandy Rose, as well as the team of Naomi and Lana in a Triple Threat match later in the show to determine the number one contenders to the Women’s Tag Team championship.
A Buggati sports car was seen arriving at the arena, as Bad Bunny got out.
Randy Orton was shown backstage and cut a promo on his failure in the Royal Rumble addressing Edge. He explained that although he congratulated Edge on his win, he also told the world that Edge was never going to return and that in doing so Edge has made him look like a liar, after everything he had done for Edge. He ran down all of his violent actions towards Edge explaining he did it all because he loves Edge like a brother, and he wanted to send him home to be with his family out of mercy and compassion, only for him to come back and win the Royal Rumble. Orton explained that Edge will not be main eventing WrestleMania because he looked past Orton and everything he did for Edge, and not so subtly suggests he will be taking Edge out of commission.
A good promo from Orton, and far better than anything he’s been doing messing around with Bray Wyatt. This is Orton back to his delusional but grounded best. The rationale, while twisted, is simple and it plays to the very best of Randy Orton’s strengths and provided a great build to the main event while also covering for the fact that Edge failed to mention it in the opening segment.
The New Day were shown backstage as Xavier Woods explained how happy he was that Kofi Kingston was back, and they discussed Woods’ recent issues with Mustafa Ali and RETRIBUTION, before making their way to the ring.
Xavier Woods vs Mustafa Ali
Mustafa Ali was accompanied by T-Bar and SlapJack as he made his way to the ring. The bell rang, Ali and Woods tied up before Woods took the advantage, clotheslining Ali to the floor as they battled outside the ring. However, after throwing Ali back in, Woods was distracted by RETRIBUTION moving towards Kofi Kingston which allowed Ali to take the advantage. As he pummeled Woods, Ali shouted abuse at Kofi Kingston dating back to the WWE Title gauntlet in 2019.
Ali hit a big neckbreaker on Woods for a near fall before transitioning into a rear chinlock. Woods fought his way out retaliating with a kick and hit chops and La Mistica into a Side-Russian-Legsweep. Ali fought back but missed a Tornado DDT which allowed Woods to land a huge discus lariat (A LA Brodie Lee) for the pin, but RETRIBUTION pulled the referee out before he could count to three. Kofi tried to get some revenge by launching himself off T-Bar onto Slapjack.
In the confusion, Ali snuck up to schoolboy Xavier Woods, but in a refreshing change of pace, Woods reversed it to claim the victory.
Winner: Xavier Woods
A fun TV match, but it could have done with being a bit longer. Once again, RETRIBUTION were left looking like idiots rather than a cohesive and threatening group, which sadly is the story of their whole tenure as a stable. Still, it’s nice to see Kofi back on TV.
Bad Bunny was shown backstage talking to Damian Priest ahead of the Miz TV segment before an advert was shown for the excellent WWE Icons documentary on the late, great Yokozuna which I cannot recommend highly enough. It really is a fascinating look at one of the (literally) biggest superstars in wrestling history. Well, worth your time. In fact, you can read a review of it here.
Miz TV w/ Bad Bunny
The Miz and John Morrison made their way to the ring for Miz TV. The Miz welcomed the “audience” to Miz TV and went through the events of the previous night before introducing Bad Bunny. Miz suggested he wanted to clear the air after their issues the night before. A video is shown recapping Bad Bunny’s performance, the backstage segment with The Miz and John Morrison, as well as The Miz smashing his DJ equipment and Bad Bunny performing a crossbody on Miz in response.
Miz said they both did things they regret, he apologised, Bad Bunny accepted but did not respond in kind, angering Morrison. Miz offered to help Bunny achieve his dream and become a WWE Superstar. Miz explained how he mentored and moulded Daniel Bryan. Morrison offered to help with his Hollywood connections. However, he asked in return for a favour – to help them record an album. What followed was some terrible attempts at freestyle and song from Miz and Morrison, much to the dismay of Bad Bunny who said they are “special”, but he was not interested. Miz became furious, but Bad Bunny explained that he was only there because a good friend wanted to be on Miz TV. The lights went down, and out came Damian Priest, immediately knocking Miz down with a right hand as the show went to an advert break.
Damien Priest vs The Miz
After the break, Priest and Miz were in the ring as the bell rang and Priest hit Miz with a flurry of impressive martial arts-style kicks before Miz rolled to the floor, allowing Priest to hit a beautiful springboard somersault dive onto Miz and Morrison at ringside. Back inside, Priest hit a big strike from the top rope onto Miz for a near fall, but as he went for a suplex, Miz raked Priest’s eyes and threw him into the ring post.
Miz took control hitting kicks and elbows, his seated corner clothesline and a double axehandle from the top rope before mounting Priest and raining down punches. As Miz traded trash talk with Bad Bunny at ringside, Priest was able to recover, blocking an “It Kick” and landing some kicks of his own followed by a big clothesline. While his jumping elbow strike in the corner looked less than impressive, Priest did hit a beautiful Falcon Arrow for a near fall. John Morrison got involved distracting Priest and the referee giving Miz a window to grab the Money in the Bank briefcase, only to be foiled by Bad Bunny who snatched it away. He wasn’t finished there though, Bad Bunny also clocked Morrison with a microphone. As Miz was jawing with Bunny, Priest was able to hit The Reckoning for the big win.
Winner: Damian Priest
A strong debut for Damian Priest who the company obviously have big plans for, and despite being a celebrity guest Bad Bunny did manage to hold his own here. The Miz is largely a comedy attraction these days, which would be fine except for he is also supposed to be viewed as a legitimate threat to the world champion because of the MITB briefcase. However, this segment/match was all about Priest and this was a solid way to introduce him to the Monday Night RAW audience.
Next up was a video package featuring Alexa Bliss’s various creepy moments in recent weeks, including the fireball to Randy Orton and her bizarre “transformation” in the match with Asuka last week. It was good to see some focus back on Bliss after she was essentially tossed from the Rumble almost immediately. While Bliss is doing brilliantly with the material she has been given, this story is weird and cheesy and I have no idea how this ends with a satisfying conclusion.
RAW Tag Team Title match: The Hurt Business (C) vs Lucha House Party
MVP was on commentary as Shelton Benjamin and Cedric Alexander defended their tag titles against Gran Metalik and Lince Dorado. It was speed vs power and technique as Lince Dorado started out with Shelton Benjamin, with Shelton taking the advantage early on before Dorado hit back using his quickness. As Dorado tagged Metalik, Lucha House Party attempted an assisted hurricanrana, but Benjamin powered out before Metalik reversed it and completed the move. Shelton countered Metalik’s rope walk into a belly-to-back suplex and tagged Alexander.
Cedric Alexander’s showboating cost him and allowed Lince Dorado to get in the ring and hit a spinning heel kick, as Benjamin tried to powerbomb Metalik, only to eat a kick that sent him to the floor. As The Hurt Business tried to get back in the ring Lucha House Party hit them and dropped them back down from the apron with a simultaneous flip into the rope before posing in the ring.
As the match returned from the break, Cedric Alexander took control against Dorado hitting a big slam for a two-count. Benjamin tagged in hitting a series of slams. Dorado rallied with a jawbreaker and a modified Golden Rewind for a pin attempt, but Benjamin powered out and transitioned into a gutbuster. Alexander tagged in and hit a nice snap suplex. Another quick tag to Benjamin. Dorado again tried a headscissors in the corner, but Benjamin hit a series of vicious-looking knees to the back, although Dorado somehow turned that into a huge DDT which set up the tag attempt to Metalik, Alexander cut him off. This was short-lived as after some acrobatic offence, Dorado made the tag and Metalik came in full of fire. Metalik hit a huge crossbody and knocked Benjamin to the floor before hitting a series of Lucha-style manoeuvres on Alexander making full use of the ropes.
As the action continued, Dorado hit a dive onto Benjamin who caught him, but Metalik saved the day with a second dive driving Benjamin to the floor. Back in the ring, Metalik countered Alexander into a pinning combination for a near fall before hitting a reverse sling blade on Cedric, a big splash by Dorado and a senton from Metalik. Shelton somehow made the save at 2.9 seconds, but this was a very close near fall.
Unfortunately for the Lucha House Party, things looked bleak after that. Benjamin knocked Dorado to the floor with a top rope knee to the face. As Cedric readied himself to hit the killer blow on a prone Metalik, Shelton tagged himself in and hit Paydirt for the victory, much to the bemusement of Cedric Alexander.
Winners: The Hurt Business
This was a superb TV match between two great teams. The action was fast-paced and never let up. Alexander and Benjamin continue to tease friction as they try and out-do each other, while Lucha House Party again showed some innovative and unique offence throughout. MVP was excellent on commentary too. A really fun tag match.
After another recap of the Women’s tag title match from the Rumble, Asuka and Charlotte were interviewed backstage about their upcoming match. Charlotte explained that Lacey Evans is deluded and knows what will happen if they share a ring. She went on to say that Lacey may have turned her Dad’s head but her mind games will not work on Charlotte. She apologised to Asuka for the situation causing the title loss. Asuka responded saying she was ready, and if it wasn’t for Evans and Ric Flair, they would have won, signalling she doesn’t blame Charlotte, although interestingly she also said, “Do not again” as they headed out for their match.
Charlotte Flair & Asuka vs Mandy Rose & Dana Brooke vs Naomi & Lana
Naomi started out with Charlotte. They go toe-to-toe trading athletic moves. Asuka and Mandy Rose both tagged in and went for dropkicks but neither landed. Asuka reversed a wheelbarrow suplex into a pin for a near fall. Before she could follow up, both Dana Brooke and Lana tagged in. Brooke took control quickly hitting a handspring elbow before tagging Rose back in, who smashed Lana with a jumping knee. Asuka broke up the pin and was now apparently legal despite not tagging. Brooke tagged in and they double-teamed Asuka going into the advert break.
As the action restarted, Dana Brooke attempted another handspring elbow, this time on Charlotte, but she countered for a near fall before driving her head into the mat. Brooke tagged Rose back in. Flair was Irish whipped into the corner doing her father’s famous flip but using it to propel herself back into the ring for a roll-up on Rose, but Mandy got back on top, as herself and Brooke dominated this match as the most cohesive and seasoned unit. Charlotte escaped a double-team suplex and made the hot tag to Asuka. A hip attack and German suplex followed, with a shining wizard shortly after, and a missile dropkick.
Lana and Charlotte tagged themselves in which resulted in an attempted powerbomb by Flair that Lana reversed. Lana tagged in Naomi and she went at it with Flair. Unfortunately, some of Naomi’s offence looked a little weak and possibly showing signs of a bit of ring rust, but she quickly recovered hitting a beautiful springboard kick. Lana tagged in hitting big double knees but quickly ran into a big boot from Charlotte.
At this point, it broke down with all of the women coming in and hitting big moves on each other, before Charlotte hit the Natural Selection on Dana Brooke. However, right on cue, Ric Flair’s music started up and out he strutted with Lacey Evans. Flair tagged herself out to Asuka who was trying to get her partner to focus on the match which opened the door for Naomi to hit the Rear View on a distracted Asuka for the win.
Winners and new No 1 contenders: Lana & Naomi
It was chaotic towards the end, but this was a fun multi-woman tag match. It seemed odd to make such a big deal of the rules at the beginning to abandon them halfway through, but the action more than made up for it. The story with Lacey Evans and Charlotte is getting tedious already, but this was a good match to set up the next Women’s title programme, keep things moving for Asuka, Flair and Evans, and also provide a spotlight for Dana Brooke and Mandy Rose who have quietly become a very effective and fluid tag team unit since Rose moved to RAW.
Drew McIntyre was interviewed backstage concerning Sheamus’ attack earlier in the night. He said it would be an honour to face Edge at WrestleMania. He explains that families fight, and that includes himself and Sheamus, but that the attack earlier was different. He explained that Sheamus was willing to throw away a twenty-year friendship over the title, “so be it”, proposing a match with Sheamus before walking off.
Elias & Jaxson Ryker vs Jeff Hardy & Carlito
After a short video featuring Carlito’s initial run in WWE and his return at the Rumble, Elias and Jaxson Ryker came to the ring, quickly followed by Jeff Hardy and Carlito (who looks sensational). Carlito started out with Elias going back and forth with various holds before Hardy tagged in, and Ryker followed suit. Hardy hit a low dropkick for a near fall before Ryker overpowered him. Elias came back in and himself and Ryker double-teamed him in the corner.
After a few minutes of Ryker and Elias unspectacularly beating down Hardy, Ryker missed a headbutt allowing Hardy to hit an inverted enzuigiri and make the hot tag to Carlito, who came in dominating Ryker including utilising a beautiful dropkick. After a double team gave them the advantage once more, Elias tried a belly-to-back suplex which Carlito escaped and hit the Backstabber before tagging Hardy in for the Swanton for the victory.
Winners: Jeff Hardy and Carlito
Not much to say here, it was short. Ryker and Elias are dull as can be and although it was nice to see Carlito get a match here, this was pretty much throwaway filler stuff.
A video package aired on Edge and Randy Orton’s history, hyping the show’s main event, which segued into an Edge promo. He said he was ecstatic to win the Royal Rumble, going bell-to-bell. He described Orton as a black cloud hanging over him and his family. He chastised Orton for trying to take the cheap win by faking an injury the night before.
He told Orton to stop talking “crap” about doing this out of love for Edge, claiming it is instead jealousy about the type of man Edge is that fuels Orton’s vendetta. He said he needs to put Orton in the rearview mirror and get out from under the cloud so he can walk into WrestleMania and take back the title he never lost. Edge explained that he will get closure on why he couldn’t spend time with his kids because of Orton and that their feud will end with this match.
Great promo from Edge, who continues to knock it out of the park with these. The clash of philosophies is at the heart of the conflict between Edge and Orton and this promo did a great job of summing that all up and hyping the show’s main event.
Alexa Bliss vs Nikki Cross
The Firefly Funhouse theme played as Alexa Bliss came out to the ring. This has not got any less creepy or disturbing week-on-week and that is a credit to Bliss for the work she has done with this character, silly as it is. Her match with Nikki Cross would be after the commercial break.
After the advert break, Edge was shown walking backstage when he ran into Damien Priest. Edge endorsed him and congratulated him on his work in the Rumble before walking away.
— WWE (@WWE) February 2, 2021
Back at ringside, Nikki Cross was out to take on Bliss. Nikki charged at Bliss, and she ducked out of the way. Nikki shouted at Bliss before they locked up and traded holds. As Bliss rolled out, she did her Firefly Funhouse pose, which just angered Nikki who went on the offensive with strikes and a crossbody. Again, Cross shouted that she was “done” with Alexa, and Bliss just smiled and shook her head. Creepy.
Cross went back on the attack hitting a snap suplex, but Bliss responded with a jawbreaker for a near fall. More childlike, or certain children’s TV presenter-Esque mannerisms as she can’t seem to keep Cross down. A dropkick followed by Bliss and further punishment on Cross on the mat. Bliss then pretended to play hopscotch before kicking Cross in the abdomen and applying a body-scissors. Bliss would set up for the Mandible Claw before Cross countered with a straight jacket slam and an earthquake splash on Bliss.
However, this is when the weird transformation stuff kicked in. As Cross kicked Bliss in the corner, her old music started to play and Bliss morphed into “Goddess”-era Bliss, much to Cross’ shock, who wanted no part of this. Bliss went for a hug but Cross kicked her and did a splash in the corner. However, Bliss transformed again, back into Firefly Bliss. Again Nikki was shocked. Alexa took full advantage hitting what looked like a Sister Abigail, but with a DDT to finish the rotation (Twister Abigail, anyone?) for the victory.
Winner: Alexa Bliss
As Alexa skipped back up the ramp, Randy Orton’s music hit and The Viper walked down towards her. They simply walk past each other, without eye contact.
Alexa’s continued “transformation” is always going to be divisive. I know for many, this is too leftfield for professional wrestling. However, given the unique options offered by recording a show in front of no fans, and the fact that this is so different I can see the appeal. The only issue is where this is all going. Is Orton vs The Fiend the end game? If so, where does Bliss fit in down the road? More on that later. Still lots of questions, but this match/angle was fun and creepy in equal measure.
Edge vs Randy Orton
Once both men made their entrances (with Edge noticeably limping to sell the effects of the Rumble) Edge launched himself at Orton hitting punches and big boot right at the start. Edge followed up with a big knee and the Anti-Venom submission. Orton countered with a rake to the eyes and then slowly and methodically began wearing Edge down with stomps and punches and using the ropes.
As Orton went for an Irish Whip, Edge countered it into an Edgecution for a two-count. Edge, looking exhausted, set up for a Spear but Orton used his momentum to hit a beautiful powerslam. Orton followed up by throwing Edge into the ring post and heading out to the floor. Naturally, Orton would then throw Edge into the steps as the show went to commercial break.
As the match recommenced, Orton was still on the attack, pummelling a wobbly Edge relentlessly with more punches, kicks, elbows. Edge made a comeback with a big punch, and both men ended up on the mat after a double clothesline. With Orton down, Edge dragged himself to the top rope, but Orton caught him. After a struggle Edge pushed Orton off and hit a flying clothesline, but it was only enough for a two-count.
After a few minutes of recovery, Edge managed to drive Orton off the apron straight into the barricade. Edge rolled Orton back in but, The Legend Killer rolled back out. When Edge gave chase, Orton slammed him on the announce desk. Back in the ring Orton readied for the kill and hit a slingshot throat-first on Edge into the bottom rope followed by the draping DDT. Things looked bleak for Edge as Orton signalled for the RKO.
However, a weirdly distorted version of “Rockabye Baby” began playing in the arena, and Alexa Bliss appeared on the ring post, bathed in purple and blue light. As Orton stared at her, blood (although not explicitly referred to as such) started dripping wildly from Bliss’ mouth. With the distraction, Edge hit a big Spear on Orton for the win.
After the match, Bliss appeared to have vanished and Edge rolled out of the ring as the show went off the air abruptly.
This was an up-and-down episode of RAW. The in-ring work throughout the show was solid, brilliant at points. The story with Alexa Bliss and Randy Orton continues to be an acquired taste, but it does appear to be going somewhere. That destination is likely to be odd, but presumably, this is all leading to Bray Wyatt’s return after being murdered. Edge and Orton closing the book on their rivalry, for now, frees both men up, and Sheamus turning on Drew gives him something to stay busy with for the next two months. Lots of positives for the most part.
All pictures and videos courtesy of WWE