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KELLER’S WWE RAW REPORT
AUGUST 31, 2020
ORLANDO, FLA. AT AMWAY CENTER (“THUNDERDOME”)
AIRED ON USA NETWORK
Announcers: Tom Phillips, Byron Saxton, Samoa Joe
-The show opened with a graphic acknowledging the death of “Bullet” Bob Armstrong.
-After the WWE brand stamp, the Raw full opening theme played. Then pyro blasted in the Thunderdome as the LED boards lit up with fans as cheers filled the venue. Phillips called the Thunderdome “immersive” and “vaunted.”
-Orton made his ring entrance. Phillips said Orton has to be in a foul mood after what happened to him at Summerslam and Payback. They went to the announcers on camera who commented on Orton’s two weeks including giving Drew McIntyre a hairline jaw fracture. Phillips said McIntyre is not there this week, but they anticipate he’ll be cleared in time for Clash of Champions. Phillips said there will be three singles matches, with the winners facing off in a Triple Threat match, and then the winner of that faces Drew at the Clash. The three matches are Lee vs. Dolph Ziggler, Dominik Mysterio vs. Seth, and Kevin Owens vs. Orton. Dominik is replacing the injured Rey Mysterio, who was originally scheduled to face Seth.
Orton said last week, Drew offered him a title rematch, but because it came out of pity, he considered himself disrespected and thus gave him three kicks to the skull. He said Drew thinks he deserves the WWE Championship, but as far as he’s concerned, all he deserves is the fractured jaw that he gave him. He said all Drew deserves is to be in pain and drink his meals through a straw. He listed his recent victims – Edge, Christian, The Big Show, Ric Flair, Shawn Michaels, and now McIntyre himself. He said Drew thinks he’s entitled and was handed everything. He had to be bleeped for what he said next. He said he shouldn’t have to beat KO and another match to get a title shot he already deserves, but he said he would jump through the hoops. He said he’s not sure Drew can make it to the Clash because he might not be healthy enough. He said he has it on good authority that Drew got together with some old buddies to reminisce about an experience they all share. The big screen then showed an image of the wrestlers he’s injured in hospital beds looking miserable. He laughed.
Keith Lee marched out to the ring. Orton stared him down as he entered the ring. Lee said Mr. Orton has done well for himself and is amused if not proud of himself. He said he is fixated on the havoc he’s caused in recent months and the damage he did last week on Raw, doing his best to forget about what happened last night at Payback “when I beat you.” Lee said it’s factual that he gave him no choice last night but to bask in his glory. He said he now wants a title opportunity handed to him. He said things are a little bit different now because maybe a victory like his last night over a Legend Killer like him means maybe he should get the opportunity at the WWE Title. He said he’s known Drew a long time and considers him a friend. He said he is sure he will make good on his word and at some point pay him back. Ziggler attacked Lee from behind. Lee shoved him aside and eyed Orton. Ziggler recovered and gave Lee a DDT.
(Keller’s Analysis: I suppose substituting Dominick for Rey makes sense in terms of putting a match on TV with a backstory and built-in personal issues. Giving Dominick this much of a shot at headlining a PPV for the WWE Title at this stage, though, makes a mockery of the “selection process” for the top six contenders. Orton did a good job making his case while also ignoring that he lost to Lee the night before. It was good to have Lee call Orton out for that.) [c]
(1) KEITH LEE vs. DOLPH ZIGGLER – Qualifier for Triple Threat for a WWE Title shot
Lee catapulted Ziggler into the top turnbuckle a minute into the match. Ziggler rolled to the floor. Ziggler came back and settled into a chinlock. He staggered Lee with a dropkick and then landed a Stinger splash in the corner. Lee came back with a Pounce. They cut to a break. [c]
Lee chopped Ziggler hard in the after the break, then tossed him across the ring. He landed a corner splash, then put Ziggler on his shoulders. Ziggler raked his eyes to escape and then landed a quick Fameasser for a two count. Ziggler delivered a neckbreaker and elbowdrop for a two count next. He applied a sleeper next. The screen hyped IIconics vs. Riott Squad, with winning team earning a title shot and losing team cannot team anymore. Lee powered out of it and the punched Ziggler in the face. Ziggler staggered and Lee lifted and dropped Ziggler. Lee pushed Ziggler (too softly) into the ropes and then landed a turning powerslam. Ziggler caught a charging Lee with an elbow and then landed a Zig Zag for a near fall. Lee caught Ziggler flying at him and landed a Spirit Bomb for the win.
WINNER: Lee in 10:00 to advance to the Triple Threat match for the Clash title match.
(Keller’s Analysis: Ziggler is a good type of opponent for Lee, although this came across as if these two hadn’t worked together before. Some timing issues on a few moves, and Lee seems a little nervous or overwhelmed at times. I’m still waiting for some biographical framing of Lee for Raw viewers.)
-The announcers talked about Shayna Baszler & Nia Jax winning the Women’s Tag Team Titles at Payback.
-Sarah Schreiber interviewed Jax and Baszler backstage. She asked how they were able to put their differences aside. Jax said it was easy because she told Baszler to follow her lead, and they succeeded. Baszler objected and said she told Baszler to stay out of her way, and then she did and she won the match for them. Jax said it’s easy for Baszler to put someone to sleep after she tossed them around all match. Jax said she’s champion and Baszler is just holding the other belt for her. Asuka danced in. Schreiber asked if she found out who her next challenger will be. Asuka said no. Baszler and Jax objected to her taking their interview time. Asuka shoved Baszler and yelled at Jax. [c]
-Adam Pearce told security he appreciates them being there. He said it’s time to get serious because they are going to make sure Retribution doesn’t ruin another Raw main event. He said if they don’t deliver on that, they will fire them and hire some people who can. “Let’s get to work!” he said.
-Charly Caruso introduced Asuka from mid-ring. Asuka made her ring entrance. Asuka said she’s defeated many great women. She listed many opponents and began laughing. Caruso wasn’t quite sure what to do with her laughter when Asuka looked over at her. Asuka said she is ready for anything. Mickie James danced out to her music. She said as a six-times champion in WWE, she recognizes greatness when she sees it. She said she is probably one of the greatest women’s champions of all-time. She said out of respect, she should be the first to know she’s coming for her title. Natalya’s music interrupted. Natalya and Lana marched to the ring. Natalya told Mickie she’s had six chances, so she’s being selfish. Lana said she’s delusional. She said it’s not about age, since J-Lo is 50 and she’s fabulous. She said she has failed to evolve and pointed at her outfit and said it hasn’t changed since 1997. Lana said she’s a trend-setter and has elevated the entire women’s division. She said Natalya is her best friend, so if she wants to get her hands on her, she has to go through her first. Mickie stepped up and asked, “Oh, is that a fact!” Asuka pointed at all three of them and said she’s ready for each of them. A brawl broke out, with Lana stomping away at Mickie while Natalya beat on Asuka. Mickie and Asuka cleared the ring within seconds of the two heels, including an Asuka hip attack to knock Lana to the ground. Asuka’s music played. [c]
-A Connor’s Cure video aired.
-They went to the announcers at ringside. Phillips said they’re still dealing with the fallout from Payback including Bobby Lashley winning the U.S. Title. They cut to a clip from Raw Underground last week with Lashley dominating, including a fight with the Viking Raiders. A clip aired with the Viking Raiders hanging out with Cedric Alexander. Demi Burnett from “The Bachelor” reality show was hanging around and she kissed Ivar. Angel Garza walked toward Demi with a rose and had a strange look on his face – a mix of sinister and seductive.
(Keller’s Analysis: Will someone please let us know why Demi is there every week? I don’t mean to start a conspiracy theory here, but didn’t Retribution start showing up around the time she did? Maybe she’s scouting the joint for them.)
(2) LANA (w/Natalya) vs. MICKIE JAMES
Asuka joined the commentators. Her mic didn’t work at first. Lana grounded Mickie early. Asuka’s mic finally started working and she did her usual rants in mostly Japanese. Byron asked if she has a preference for whom she’d defend her title against. Mickie came back with a Thesz Press, clothesline, and her Mick Kick for a quick win.
WINNER: Mickie James in 3:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Tough to tell without crowds, but I doubt there’s an existing strong bond between most of today’s WWE audience and Mickie. It might be more fruitful to reintroduce her as if most fans aren’t sure who she is or why they should care other than the references to her being a pioneer and multi-time champion. What’s she about? Why is she back? What’s her attitude toward her place in WWE now? It just feel randomly thrown together.)
-Phillips threw to a clip of the Aleister Black turn on Kevin Owens last week.
-Backstage Charly Caruso was standing outside of Black’s locker room and discussing what happened last week. She said she was awaiting word from him on why he did what he did last week to KO when Orton walked out of his locker room. She looked confused and Orton just sauntered by her. [c]
-Schreiber interviewed the IIconics in the second ring elsewhere at the Thunderdome and asked about the possibility of having to break up tonight as a team. They talked about their long history together. Peyton Royce said they missed holidays with family to become tag champs, and the only constant they had was each other. Billie Kaye they won’t let snot-nosed hooligans destroy what they built. They said Riott Squad are destined to self-destruct and they will help the process along, which “will be iconic!”
(3) KEVIN OWENS vs. RANDY ORTON – Qualifier for Triple Threat for a WWE Title shot
Orton made his entrance. When Owens walked to the ring, Black attacked him from behind. He hit a Black Mass. The ref told him, “You cannot compete tonight.” Owens said he could, although he couldn’t keep his balance. The ref agreed, reluctantly, to start the match. Owens took a few hapless swings at Orton, but Orton brushed them away and hit an RKO for the quick win.
WINNER: Orton in about 15 seconds to advance to the Triple Threat match for the Clash title match.
(Keller’s Analysis: I didn’t at all expect Owens to advance to the PPV main event at the Clash against Drew, so this is probably the best way for Owens to be eliminated – quickly and only due to a sneak attack by his new rival. This advances the Black-Owens feud. Now we need to hear from Black why he chose this route.)
-Backstage Caruso interviewed Rey, a nervous-looking Dominik, and Rey’s daughter and wife. Rey said getting closure against Seth was important to him. Dominik said it would mean the world to him to beat Seth tonight and earn a title shot at the Clash, but his loss is his son’s gain. He said he understands injuries happen, and if there’s anyone he’d want to take his place, it’d be Dominik. Dom said he knows he’s an underdog, but after the win last night, his confidence is on another level. He said he has another 619 with the Monday Night Messiah’s name written all over it. [c]
-Phillips hyped the Apollo Crews vs. Shelton Benjamin fight at Raw Underground later.
-VIP Lounge: MVP celebrated the start of the first MVP Lounge at Thunderdome. He introduced the new U.S. Champion Lashley, who made his own ring entrance. MVP said there are three definites in life – death, taxes, and Bobby Lashley. Lashley said he did exactly what he said he was going to do. He beat up Crews, put him in the Hurt Lock, and took his title. He said afterwards, Crews came out for a little bit of payback during Payback, and he would have done the same thing, but he will get him back. He looked sternly at the camera as he talked. Shelton said since Crews wants to act like a little punk, he’s going to beat him like a little punk in Raw Underground. MVP said at first they have to face the Viking Raiders & Cedric Alexander. As MVP talked about Cedric, Cedric’s music interrupted him.
(Keller’s Analysis: Lashley’s made big strides on promos. I’m not saying they’re super-entertaining or must-see, but he’s delivering believable promos that just fit his character now and that obvious awkwardness isn’t there like it used to be.)
MVP approached Cedric and said he sees he’s alone, so he’s curious if he’s had a change of heart. Cedric said hell no, and also he didn’t come alone. The Raiders jumped Lashley and Benjamin from behind at ringside, then jumped into the ring ready for the fight to start. [c]
(4) CEDRIC ALEXANDER & THE VIKING RAIDERS vs. MVP & BOBBY LASHLEY & SHELTON BENJAMIN
The match started after the break, with Lashley pummeling Ivar in the corner. Hurt Business dominated, including an extended beatdown of Cedric. When Cedric fought back against MVP, Lashley and Shelton yanked the Raiders off the ring apron and fought with them. Cedric avoided a charging MVP and then rolled him up for the three count.
WINNERS: Cedric & Raiders in 6:00.
-Backstage Titus O’Neal was warming up. Phillips said they’re going to see a whole new side of Titus as he enters Raw Underground. [c]
-Backstage, Hurt Business had jumped Cedric and were stomping on him, saying he has to learn. Crews and Ricochet ran out to protect him and told them to back off.
(Keller’s Analysis: It’s good they ran to Cedric’s aid, but it made them look lame not to actually physically go after Hurt Business even if they were outnumbered by one.)
(5) THE IICONICS (Peyton Royce & Billie Kaye) vs. RIOTT SQUAD (Ruby Riott & Liv Morgan) – Winners Gets Title Shot, Losers Cannot Team Anymore
The IIconcs took over against Liv early in the match after a yank of her hair. Joe talked about the IIconics being the definition of synchronicity. Liv hot-tagged in Riott. who worked over Kaye. When Liv saved Riott from Kaye’s interference. Kaye rolled up Riott for a near fall. They reversed each other a few times and eventually Riott rolled up Kaye for the three count. Kaye and Royce looked shocked. Royce threw a fit. Joe said, “That did not just happen, Tom!” The IIconics begged with the referee to change his decision. Riott and Morgan were long gone. Phillips said a decade of friendship is gone. They cried and hugged.
WINNERS: Riott Squad in 3:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: It’s strange they’ve broken up Peyton and Billie without a storyline that seems to launch either them into a new position as a singles wrestler. Will they just be at ringside for each other in singles matches now? There seemed to be a slight tease of Royce feeling taken advantage of by Kaye last week, and that didn’t happen this week.)
-They hyped Seth vs. Dominik. Saxton tripped over his words and Joe gave him a hard time.
-Shane McMahon talked to the tall bouncer outside the Raw Underground door. Shane said it’s going to be super-intense tonight with Titus, Jessamyn Duke, and then Crews and Shelton. He said it’ll be a good show. The bouncer agreed and opened the door for him. [c]
-An ad aired for NXT Super Tuesday. Then Phillips plugged NXT on camera next. They threw to a video package on the Dominik & Rey vs. Seth & Murphy feud.
-Seth and Murphy made their way to the ring. Seth gave Murphy a disdainful look for losing at Payback the prior night. He told Murphy he cannot afford to have him screw up anything for him tonight, “so get the hell out of my ring.” Murphy looked surprised and dejected. Seth told him he doesn’t want to hear him or see him until he figures out what kind of man he wants to be and what he stands for. “What side of history do you want to be on?” he asked. When Murphy began to speak, Seth told him to shut his mouth. Murphy walked to the back, but Dominik attacked him from behind. Phillips defended it because of all that has happened before, then complimented his moxie.
(6) SETH ROLLINS (w/Murphy) vs. DOMINIK MYSTERIO (w/Rey Mysterio) – Qualifier for Triple Threat for a WWE Title shot
Dominik landed a dropkick early. Seth threw Dominik into the announce table at ringside seconds later, then threw him back into the ring. Dominik came back with springboard armdrag. He set him up for an early 619, but Seth moved. Seth dragged Dominik to the floor, but Dominik reversed Seth into the table, then flip-dove off the announce desk onto Seth. They cut to a break at 2:00. [c]
Dominik broke free from a Seth chinlock after the break, but Seth took over again and scored a two count. Seth grounded Dominik again for a couple minutes. Dominik avoided a Seth charge and threw some punches at Seth in the corner. Seth tried to buckle bomb him out of the corner, but Dominik head scissored Seth into the turnbuckles. Seth caught Dominik springboarding off the top rope, but Dominik spun around and DDT’d Seth. He landed a standing moonsault for a near fall. He leaped off the top rope onto Seth on the floor seconds later. They showed Rey, his daughter, and his wife watching a monitor backstage with great concern. Dominik sent Seth into the middle rope and then landed a 619. He followed up with a frog splash, but Seth moved out of the path. Dominik crashed and didn’t get up. Seth then gave him a running stomp for the win. They showed his family backstage wincing as they watched Dominik writhe in pain on the mat.
WINNER: Rollins in 10:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Obvious credit goes to Seth, but Dominik again looked like he belonged in there. The spots they did were somewhat limited, but still showed off Dominik’s balance and timing well.)
-They cut to Shane calling the action with Titus beating up his opponent with a high one-arm slam. Shane asked if anyone else wanted to step up. Titus mounted the guy and slammed his head into the mat until the ref stopped it. Riddick Moss stepped up. Moss got Titus down early and mounted him. Titus got up and threw Moss out of the ring. Moss rammed Titus into the ring edge. Titus pushed Moss into the metal shelves. They returned to the ring. Moss kicked Titus low and then landed a KO punch. The ref stepped in to stop it. “Titus brought it tonight!” Shane said.
-They showed the Street Profits backstage reacting to Moss’s win. Then they hyped their tag team tornado match. They revealed a board on an easel with a scouting report on Angel Garza, Andrade, and Zelina Vega. They took some digs at each of them. About Zelina, they said she poison’s people and is too short for the roller coaster. They closed with: “We Want the Smoke!” [c]
-Phillips touted the Thunderdome. Saxton said he feels like a kid on Christmas morning every time he experiences the Thunderdome.
-They aired a clip from earlier of Akira Tozawa arriving at the parking garage in his mini-van with his ninjas. The garage attendant said he’s not on the list. Tozawa got out of the van and looked at the guy’s clipboard. Tozawa discovered the papers were blank. He saw the guy was wearing a referee shirt underneath his jacket. R-Truth snuck up behind him and rolled him up to regain the 24/7 Title. Truth yelled something about Cobra Kai.
(7) THE STREET PROFITS (Montez Ford & Angelo Dawkins) vs. ANGEL GARZA & ANDRADE (w/Zelina Vega) – Tornado Tag Rules
After a tower suplex on top with Ford on top and Dawkins underneath, they cut to a break at 2:00. [c]
After the break, Andrade and Garza threw Ford shoulder-first into the ringpost. They showed Demi cheering at ringside. Dawkins took a beating for a while, but eventually made a comeback and scored a near fall on Andrade. Garza broke up the cover. They showed Demi reacting with concern at ringside. Garza and Andrade took over on Dawkins again. Andrade did a leaping double stomp off the top rope, with Garza holding him up and in position for it. Ford made the save. Ford rallied with a flurry against Andrade. Ford shook the top rope excitedly. The lights flickered. Garza left and took Demi to safety. Ford covered Andrade. Retribution then ran out and surrounded the ring and pounded on it. Ford and Dawkins looked down at them. Then Retribution attacked. A couple of them surrounded Vega. She shoved them. They attacked her. They beat on the Profits and Andrade in the ring, then ran away.
WINNER: No contest in 10:00. [c]
-After the break, Pearce yelled at security to get to their posts and do their jobs.
-In Raw Underground, Shane interviewed Royce and Kaye, who were still downtrodden about their loss. Jessamyn Duke took it to her opponent for a quick and easy win. She didn’t break clean. Two other women fought. Royce threw Kaye into the ring. Kaye yelled at Royce that she didn’t like that. She begged off. Duke KO’d her with one high roundkick. Shane put his arm around Royce and smiled and said they’d have more Raw Underground later.
-Back to ringside, they replayed Cedric pinning MVP in the six-man tag match earlier, and then the Hurt Business attack on Cedric.
-They went backstage where Caruso interviewed Crews, Ricochet, and Cedric. She said it’s been a rough stretch for them. She asked Crews if it’s a wise decision to face Shelton tonight at Raw Underground. Crews said the old Apollo would have woken up feeling sorry for himself, but in his place is a man ready to bounce back harder than ever. He said he won’t stop until he gets the U.S. Title back. Ricochet said they have Cedric’s back, whereas MVP only cares about his money. Crews got psyched up. They entered Raw Underground when the bouncer opened the door for them. [c]
-The bell rang to start the Crews vs. Shelton fight at Raw Underground. Crews went for a kimura. Shelton stood and leaped out of the ring, taking Crews with him. MVP and Lashley joined in the attack. They all rolled into the ring. Hurt Business got the better of all three, so Shane called it off. Shane said Crews, Cedric, and Ricochet were all out. “The Hurt Business means business,” Shane said. He said they’d be back next week.
-Demi told Garza that he abandoned everyone. He said what concerns him most is her safety. He said he’d never forgive himself if something happened to her. Retribution burst back into the arena and attacked the security guy. Garza looked panicked and ran away, leaving Demi behind. The Retribution women approached Demi who turned and ran away finally.
(Keller’s Analysis: Boy, if that wasn’t a cowardly act by Garza. It’s hard to take him seriously after that, to be honest.)
-Orton made his ring entrance. [c]
(8) RANDY ORTON vs. SETH ROLLINS vs. KEITH LEE – Triple Threat match to earn a WWE Title match at Clash of Champions
The bell rang 47 minutes into the third hour. Orton bailed out at the bell. Seth asked why he left the ring. Seth said they had decided to work together. Orton said he already worked tonight and had a fight, so Seth’s got this. Joe chuckled. Saxton said Orton is preserving himself and playing mind games. Seth rolled out of the ring and confronted Orton. Orton said he changed his mind. As Seth complained, Lee yanked on his hair and dragged him back into the ring. Lee checked Seth and smashed him in the corner. Orton got into the ring and applied a side headlock. Lee powered out and charged at Seth and Orton in the corner. They lifted Lee over the top rope onto the ring apron. Lee slingshot himself onto both Seth and Orton. They cut to a break as Lee began striking a pose. [c]
Back live, with seven minutes left in the show, Lee slingshot himself at Seth, but Seth sidekicked him out of mid-air. Seth leaped over the top rope with a flying knee to Seth’s head. Orton went after Lee and threw him onto the announce desk. He laughed. Seth and Orton worked together to throw Lee into the ringside steps. Seth shoved Lee back into the ring. As Seth re-entered the ring, Orton kicked him and gave him a draping DDT for a near fall. Orton set up an RKO, but Seth countered with a Falcon Arrow for a two count.
As Seth waited for Orton to stand, Lee got back up and went on the attack against both. He threw Seth into Orton. Both Seth and Orton rolled to the floor. Lee charged at Orton and checked him hard into the boards. When Seth leaped at Lee, Lee caught him and threw him into the announce desk. Lee grabbed Seth and threw him back into the ring. Saxton said Lee is a different breed of human. Seth kicked away at Lee in the ring, but Lee picked him up for a powerslam. Lee small packaged him for a two count. Seth ducked a Lee clothesline and landed an enzuigiri. Seth superkicked Lee’s chin. He waited and positioned himself for a Stomp. Lee countered with a high Spirit Bomb. Orton came up behind Lee with an RKO. Orton then covered Seth for the three count.
WINNER: Orton in 13:00 to earn a title match against McIntyre at Clash of Champions.
(Keller’s Analysis: No surprise here to see Orton get the rematch considering Drew last week said he had unfinished business with Orton and they have the personal issue related to Orton’s kicks last week that injured Drew’s jaw. Having Orton pin Seth instead of Lee is further indication they are protecting and pushing Lee and see big things for him down the line. He looked like he belonged in there with Orton and Seth, legacy main event stars at this point, so that’s good.)
FINAL THOUGHTS: Average show for Raw. Enough good wrestling and high-stakes matches. No standout angles or promos. The Retribution and Raw Underground segments continue to just be treading water. Raw Underground is okay to watch, but is this something they can just keep doing indefinitely without an context or end-game?