Wrestling Night in America Reunion: PWTorch columnist Greg Parks is joined by former PWTorch columnist Pat McNeill for a full match-by-match preview of WrestleMania 36
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KELLER’S WWE RAW REPORT
FEBRUARY 3, 2020
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH
AIRED ON USA NETWORK
Announcers: Tom Phillips, Jerry Lawler, Byron Saxton
-The Raw opening theme aired. The graphic said they were in Salt Lake City, Utah.
-Phillips introduced the show and said Randy Orton would speak later, but first a five minute video package on what happened with Orton and Edge last week.
-Orton made his way to the ring as his music played. They showed a fan holding up a “Why Randy Why?” sign. Orton had a pensive expression. Phillips said Edge is at home and recovering after undergoing a battery of tests. He said he would update the fans as early as next week. Lawler said he’s surprised Orton has the nerve to show his face tonight after what happened last week. Lawler said he can’t really see how Orton could explain what he did. “What could he say about it?” Orton looked like he was deep in thought as he slowly entered the ring. They cut to fans booing and chanting, “You suck!” at him. We’re ten minutes into the show at this point, by the way, when Orton asked for the mic. He paced a bit and took a deep breath. The camera zoomed in as he continued to look like he pondering what to say. He finally said, meekly, “Look, uh… I guess I owe everybody an explanation.” More boos. “You see, the thing…” More boos. Another pause. A loud “Edge!” chant broke out. Another long pause and then, nearly 13 minutes into the show, he said: “Last week…” A louder “You suck!” chant interrupted him. “I can’t, uh…” he said. “I can’t do this.” He set the mic down and walked out. More boos.
(Keller’s Analysis: They’re milking this, which is totally fine. The crowd heat is indicative that the angle last week really resonated. That’s the type of raw and intense emotion wrestling promotes who are into making money and not computing “This is awesome!” and star-rating-averages crave – and that’s not saying those two things are bad, but they’re not the be all, end all.)
-They went to the announcers team on camera. Phillips called it a “harrowing and chilling” scene that just occurred. He asked Lawler for his thoughts. Lawler said he’s seen some bad things happen on Raw over the years and last week was one of the worst. He said he thought Orton is evil to the core, but he sensed perhaps some remorse. They threw to a video package on the Rumble closing with Drew McIntyre’s celebration. Phillips then said Seth Rollins, Ricochet, and Bobby Lashley battle for a title shot at Super Showdown. (They didn’t say it was in Saudi Arabia, for whatever that’s worth.) They also plugged the Viking Raiders & Kevin Owens vs. AOP & Buddy Murphy elimination match scheduled for later.
-Lana made her ring entrance. [c]
-Phillips read Triple H’s tweet congratulating the Kansas City Chiefs for the Super Bowl victory.
(1) LANA vs. LIV MORGAN
Morgan’s ring entrance aired, although the graphic on the big screen oddly still said Lana. Liv shoved Lana at the bell. Lana went down and grabbed her wrist and yelled that she was too injured. The ref backed Liv away. Lana then took a cheap shot at Liv and kicked her in the head and scored a near fall. Liv then caught Lana with a face plant off the ropes for a quick three count.
WINNER: Morgan in under 2:00.
-As Liv began to celebrate, the Riott Squad music played and out walked Ruby Riott. Lawler noted Liv and Ruby were partners in Riott Squad. Phillips said she’s been gone about nine months after double shoulder surgery. Ruby entered the ring. Liv moved in for a hug, but Ruby instead attacked her. “What the hell are we witnessing?” asked Phillips. Lana looked on with a smile. Riott wound up and clotheslined Liv from behind. After Riott left, Lana then seized the situation with a slop drop on Liv. [c]
-Saxton touted the packed crowd in the arena, despite heavy snow in the area. They showed Mojo Rawley in the ring accompanied by Riddick Moss. Phillips showed a screen capture of Mojo’s Tweet from Miami on Super Bowl weekend, bragging about being on a yacht. He was pictured with three women.
-Highlights aired of McIntyre’s post-Rumble win speech on Raw last week with fans chanting “You deserve it!” Then Brock Lesnar attacking him.
-Drew’s ring entrance took place. Phillips noted the 24/7 Title was not on the line in this match. Drew entered the ring and told Mojo he’ll be with him in a second. He said when he sets the mic down, three seconds later he’s going to “Claymore your head off.” He said he wants to take a second to talk about Brock Lesnar. He said Lesnar attacked him from behind, which indicates “he’s apprehensive of the sexy Scotsman.” He said he’s just as big, just as fast, and in possession of a secret weapon that knocked his ass out of the Royal Rumble. He said he will kick that oversized head off of Lesnar’s body at WrestleMania and finally become WWE Champion. He then turned to Mojo and acted surprised. He said he almost forgot about him.
(2) DREW MCINTYRE vs. MOJO RAWLEY (w/Riddick Moss)
Drew reminded Mojo about his three seconds promise, then set the mic down. Mojo had been talking with Moss, then turned and charged at Drew. Drew gave him a Claymore and scored the three count.
WINNER: McIntyre in 5 seconds.
(Keller’s Analysis: This has to be encouraging for Drew that the fans were so on his side here. I think fans are looking for “electability” in terms of who can beat Lesnar, and Drew is selling himself as big and tough enough to do just that. He’s also likable and showing more personality as a babyface than he did as a heel, which was also the case during his excellent run as top babyface on Impact.)
-Charly Caruso interviewed Buddy and AOP backstage. Buddy said they already won the match because they’re on the right side of history by siding with the Monday Night Messiah. Seth walked in and he said he can finish the interview and they can go prepare themselves for their match coming up shortly. Seth said tonight is his chance at redemption. He said he’s beaten Brock Lesnar twice and he’s taken his title twice, and he knows has his heart set on facing Lesnar at WrestleMania, but Drew needs to see the writing on the wall, which means he needs to plan for a new WrestleMania opponent – the Monday Night Messiah.
-Kevin Owens his ring entrance. [c]
-An NXT ad hyped Rhea Ripley and Bianca Belair going face to face this Wednesday night.
(3) THE VIKING RAIDERS & KEVIN OWENS vs. AOP & BUDDY MUPRHY – Elimination Match
Owens was sitting on the top rope awaiting the end of the commercial. The Raiders then made their ring entrance. Seth accompanied AOP and Buddy onto the stage for their entrance. After an early flurry by the Raiders and KO, they cut to a break. [c]
Back live, Ivar and Rezar battled. Ivar got the better of him. The heels took control against Erik until Erik caught Buddy with a knee and hot-tagged in Ivar. Ivar and Rezar battled again. Ivar took down Buddy with a clothesline after a cartwheel, then played to the crowd and got some cheers. Then came some dives by the Raiders. Seth interfered at ringside with a Stomp on Erik. Meanwhile, KO called for help for Ivar, who hit the LED apron on a dive. Back in the ring, Buddy covered Erik for the elimination.
ELIMIANTED: Erik via Murphy (after a Seth stomp)
Two referees checked on Ivar’s left arm. Ivar made his way to the back. That seemed to leave Owens alone against all three heels. Owen teased leaving, then made his way into the ring just as they cut away to a break. [c]
Phillips made it official that Ivar has been removed from the match due to injury.
ELIMINATED: Ivar due to injury.
KO threw Murphy into the ringside barricade. AOP took turns working over KO for a while. KO caught Murphy with a kick and a DDT. Akam, though, tagged in and went back to work keeping KO grounded. KO rallied eventually against Murphy, then flip dove onto Akam on the floor. He tossed a charging Rezar into the ringside steps. He kicked a diving Murphy in the jaw. He threw Murphy into the ring and went for a cannonball off the top rope, but Murphy raised his knees. Murphy charged at KO, but KO caught him mid-air and hit the Pop-Up Powerbomb.
ELIMINATED: Murphy in 19:00.
Akam went after KO, but KO caught him with a Stunner for a relatively quick elimination.
Seth was in shock at ringside. He tried to get Rezar hyped up with slaps to the face and chest. Rezar charged at KO, but KO moved and Rezar went shoulder-first into the ringpost. Owens then hit a cannonball in the corner. He climbed to the top rope and landed a top rope cannonball for a two count. Fans chanted “KO!” KO attempted to lift Rezar onto his shoulders. Seth stood on the ring apron. KO went after him. Rezar then caught KO with a clothesline. He followed with two spinebusters for the win. After the match, a battered KO stood and fans cheered his effort.
WINNERS: AOP & Murphy in 22:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Good match. They “protected” the Viking Raiders by having Ivar eliminate himself with an injury and not being able to continue. KO put up a heroic fight and it took a Seth distraction – and KO falling for it – to lead to KO losing. Good, hard-hitting match.)
-Caruso interviewed Ricochet backstage. He said getting a chance to compete for the WWE Title is a dream since he was a kid. He said it might seem unrealistic for someone like him because he’s not as big or strong as Lashley and he doesn’t have a gang like Seth. He said as slim as his chances are, he has a chance to show determination can overcome. For him, tonight means everything.
-Aleister Black made his ring entrance. [c]
(4) ERIC YOUNG vs. ALEISTER BLACK
Black swept Young at the start of the match and Young landed face-first and came up bleeding. Black threw some kicks and a back elbow and then a knee to the side of the head. Then he finished Young with the Black Mass. Phillips said, “Aleister Black picks a fight and wins.”
WINNER: Black in under 2:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Not sure Black made a big statement by having his first “pick” be the hapless Young.)
-Afterward, Black spoke on the mic. He said, “Remember when they told you when you were young that you could grow up to be everything that you wanted to be, only to then later on realize it was quite the opposite.” He said he never understood that about our system. That’s not me, that’s not real, that’s not authentic.” He said he is a firm believer people should be whoever they choose to be because that drives relentless competition. He sat mid-ring and cross his legs. He said he will engulf the entire room with shadows cast from the black mass. “While you are laying there, you will realize that it was done by a person who was told he could be whatever he wanted to be.”
(Keller’s Analysis: I really understand what he said because he seemed contradict himself at least once, maybe twice, but the delivery was cool.)
-They went to the announcers at ringside who threw to a video package on the long Andrade-Carrillo feud. Phillips said Andrade is out indefinitely because of that. Carrillo made his ring entrance. Phillips said there’s a new confidence in Carrillo.
-A Smackdown commercial aired. It advertised the return of Goldberg. The narrator said you will find out who’s next on Friday. [c]
-They showed Steve Cook, a contestant from The Biggest Loser, a show that premieres on USA Network tomorrow night.
-With Carrillo in the ring, Zelina Vega walked out with Angel Garza. The announcers said Garza is the cousin of Carrillo. Vega asked if Carrillo was surprised. She said nobody smart plays fair. “Vulnerability is a liability, and I’ve found yours,” she said to Carrillo. She said when you mess with her business, she doesn’t pay the price, he does. She said Garza is a former champion in NXT and “the hottest Latino prospect.” Garza said he is the leader of their family, “so you answer to me!” As Garza kept talking about how what Carrillo did last week was a disgrace to the fans, his family, and all Latinos. Carrillo yanked the mic out of his hands. Some cheers. Byron said, “It got real personal real quick.” Lawler said it’s been personal for ten minutes already. As Carrillo began responding in Spanish, Vega slapped him. Garza then jumped Carrillo. He gave Carrillo his Wing Clipper finisher and then posed. Lawler said it looked ugly and painful. Then he threw Carrillo hard into the ringside steps. He then set up a DDT on the exposed concrete, but Rey Mysterio’s music played and he ran ringside to make the save. Garza leaped into the ring and challenged Rey. Rey checked on Carrillo instead. Fans chanted, “619! 619!” Rey entered the ring. [c]
(5) ANGEL GARZA (w/Zelina Vega) vs. REY MYSTERIO
The match was made official during the break. A couple minutes in Rey rallied and played to the crowd. Garza kneeled and offered a handshake to Rey to buy himself some time. Rey smiled and shook his head. Garza yanked off his pants and threw them at Rey as a distraction. He took over including some chops and a kick to the head. Garza knocked Rey off balance on the second rope. Garza gave Rey, hanging upside down, a running knee to the gut. He scored a soft two count. A graphic on the corner of the screen advertised Natalya vs. Asuka. Rey came back with a head scissors to set up a 619. When he charged, Garza avoided Rey and yanked Rey off the ring apron to ringside. They cut to a break. [c]
Rey eventually landed a seated senton. Garza grabbed his leg and then kneed him for a two count. Rey then gave Garza a sudden sunset driver followed by a 619 attempt. Vega yanked Garza out of Rey’s path. When Rey yelled at Vega at ringside, Garza superkicked him from behind, threw him into the ringside barricade, and then DDT’d him on the concrete floor. The ref DQ’d Garza, who sat up smiling. Referees checked on Rey on the floor as Garza and Vega celebrated on the stage.
WINNER: Mysterio via DQ in 13:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: The mic work early was paced really slowly and seemed to test everyone’s patience. Garza has an inherent charisma that when channeled as a heel makes you want to see him get punched in the face. Glad to see Vega has a reason to still be on Raw each week. I’m interested in the chemistry developing between them. Carrillo seems like he’s getting a full-fledged push as a young up-and-coming babyface, rather than being downgraded after an initial “shiny new toy” stretch.)
-Lawler plugged that Charlotte’s announcement is coming up next. [c]
-Charlotte entered the ring and said everyone wants to know if she’s going to choose to face the Raw Champion Becky Lynch or Smackdown Champion Bayley. Charlotte said she’s held the Raw Title multiple times and she’s defeated Becky. She said she’s held the Smackdown Title multiple times and has beaten Bayley. A small “Rhea” chant began. Charlotte said she has love for NXT and NXT has love for their queen. She said she has held all the gold ten times, but she still wants all the gold. She was interrupted by Rhea Ripley. “OH MY GOD!” said Phillips, turning it up a little more than was called for. Lawler asked what she was doing there.
Ripley entered the ring as a loud “NXT!” chant broke out. She told Charlotte that she gets to challenge for any title she wants at WrestleMania, and she has already defeated Becky and Bayley. “Do you know who you haven’t beaten?” she said. “Me.” Fans cheered and chanted her name. Ripley said, “As a matter of fact, I’ve actually beaten you.” She said if she’s going to challenge for any title at WrestleMania – then she dropped the mic and held up her belt. Charlotte stared at her, smiled, and left the ring without answering her apparent challenge. Charlotte’s music played as she walked to the stage. Charlotte then turned and let out a “wooo!” Then she left. Ripley held her ground, holding up her NXT Title belt as the segment ended.
-Sarah Schreiber interviewed Lashley backstage. She asked if he was distracted by what happened with Lana earlier. Lashley said not at all. He said they’ll be celebrating together after his win tonight. He said he’s going to beat Seth and Ricochet tonight. He said the real spoiler is he’s going to beat Lesnar at Super Showdown and go on to WrestleMania where he will beat Drew and become WWE Champion. Phillips said Lashley vs. Lesnar is a dream match Lashley has been asking for since returning to WWE, but he has to go through Ricochet and Seth in the same match to get it.
(Keller’s Analysis: They did a solid job making it seem plausible that someone other than Ricochet was going to win the main event tonight before going on to lose to Lesnar at Super Showdown.)
-Asuka’s ring entrance took place. Kairi Sane was with her. [c]
-They showed a Sasha Banks tweet about the Super Bowl.
(6) NATALYA vs. ASUKA (w/Kairi Sane)
Almost the very definition of “back and forth action” for three or four minutes before cutting to a break. The announcers talked about the main event ramifications. [c]
Back live, Asuka had Natalya in an armbar. Then she threw a series of roundkicks to the chest. Natalya caught a charging Asuka with a kick, but Asuka rolled up Natalya. They reversed each other for a series of two counts. Natalya hit a discus clothesline. Natalya then applied a sharpshooter. Asuka crawled toward the bottom rope and forced a break. Sane distracted Natalya from ringside, giving Asuka the opening to put Natalya in the Asuka lock for the win.
WINNER: Asuka in 12:00.
-Afterward Asuka yelled in Japanese and then yelled in English that she wants a rematch for the Raw Women’s Championship. Becky Lynch strutted onto the stage immediately. Becky entered the ring with a mic and her title belt. Becky said after ducking her for a whole year, she now wants to fight her again. She said it sounds interesting because beating her at the Rumble damn near gave her superpowers. She said she would love to drink from that fountain again. “But then I think why would I put my precious title on the line so close to WrestleMania.” (It’s over two months away!) She said the answer is because beating her ass twice would be fun. “You’re on.” She fended off a weak attack from behind, then told Asuka her superpowers include eyes in the back of her head. Becky strutted her way past Kairi, giving Kairi a look as she walked past her on the floor.
(Keller’s Analysis: It’s good to mix in shorter segments with Becky and this was a good version of Becky getting right to the point, but getting across her personality effectively in the process. Getting an extra match out of the Becky-Asuka rivalry makes some sense.) [c]
-They showed images of the huge snowstorm that hit Salt Lake City. They showed a headline that said schools were closed for the first time in decades. Then they panned the audience of cheering fans. Saxton said they braved the conditions to experience Monday Night Raw. Phillips then said Charlotte is going to NXT this Wednesday to answer Ripley’s challenge. Phillips said, “This is unprecedented.” (I guess it depends on what that means, but we saw a number of Raw wrestlers on NXT just over two months ago in the Survivor Series lead-up.) [c]
-Seth Rollins made his ring entrance first. Seth addressed the crowd. He asked them to give a round of applause to AOP and Murphy for their victory earlier. Fans booed. He said it is his time to once again dethrone Brock Lesnar. Fans booed. He said that’s funny because one year ago he made the same promise and he got an entirely different response. He said he won the title and defended it. He listed a bunch of cities he defended it in. (It’s Iowa Caucus night; was the a callback to Howard Dean’s infamous speech?) He said they didn’t cheer and embrace him, they crucified him. He said he doesn’t hate the fans for it. He said he’s there to say thank you. “It’s because of all of you that I am the man I am today, this man I have become,” he said. He said this time when he beats Lesnar, it won’t be for himself or the fans, it’ll be for the greatest good. “It will be for something you cannot even begin to understand,” he said. He said it’ll be remembered for 100 years that he was the man who saved the industry. He said Drew will go into WrestleMania to face the Monday Night Messiah, not The Beast.
-Ricochet’s ring entrance took place. Then Lashley’s. [c]
-The announcers said Becky vs. Asuka takes place next week.
(7) RICOCHET vs. BOBBY LASHLEY vs. SETH ROLLINS – Winner Faces Brock Lesnar at Super Showdown
Phillips plugged Super Showdown and once again did not mention Saudi Arabia, the host country. Lashley tripped Ricochet early as he rebounded off the ropes. Seth hit a Slingblade and then a running elbow in the corner leading to a one count. Lashley hung out at ringside as those two battled. Ricochet backdropped a charging Ricochet. Lashley then entered and worked over both Seth and Ricochet, giving both neck breakers at the same time. AOP and Murphy attacked Lashley at ringside. Phillips noted the (absolutely asinine) no-DQ rule in Triple Threat matches. KO ran onto the stage to his music. Murphy ran up to the stage. Meanwhile, the Viking Raiders went after AOP at ringside. KO joined them. KO and the Raiders grabbed chairs and took it to AOP at ringside. [c]
Back live, Ricochet avoided a Seth corner splash. Phillips again plugged the Super Showdown PPV three weeks from Thursday. Again, no mention of Saudi Arabia. Lashley rallied against Seth for a minute. Ricochet entered and took out Lashley, then went after Seth. Ricochet landed a springboard clothesline and then a running shooting star press. Lashley broke up the cover at two. Lashley pressed Ricochet above his head, but Ricochet slipped free and kicked Lashley. Lashley fired back with a spinebuster. Then he face-planted Seth for a two count. Phillips said Lesnar has to be furious he has to defend the title before WrestleMania at Super Showdown. Seth caught Lashley with a Blockbuster, with Ricochet breaking up the subsequent pin attempt. They did a three-way suplex spot out of the corner. Fans chanted “This is awesome!” Ricochet then landed a 630 on Lashley for the 1-2-3.
WINNER: Ricochet in 14:00.
-Right afterward, Lesnar ran out and gave Ricochet an F5. He held up his WWE Title belt to end the show.