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KELLER’S WWE RAW REPORT
SEPTEMBER 21, 2020
ORLANDO, FLA. AT AMWAY CENTER (“THUNDERDOME”)
AIRED ON USA NETWORK
Announcers: Tom Phillips, Byron Saxton, Jerry Lawler
-The WWE Forever video aired, but then rewound and glitched out. They cut abruptly to ringside where Phillips described “this group of wanton vandals known as Retribution have officially become part of WWE and signed a contract. They can do anything anytime to anybody.” Saxton said that’s frightening. Lawler asked how that happened.
(Keller’s Analysis: Where did Phillips get the notion that signing a WWE contract means you can do anything to anybody anytime?)
The “unnamed woman” (Mia Yim) took off her hood and revealed a face mask that doesn’t cover her eyes. She said, “To WWE management, you think your company is safe because you gave us contracts? Think again.” She said her brothers and sisters are done being stepped on so they can get some imaginary brass bring. The “unnamed man” (Dominik Dijakovic) said they are there to destroy the WWE and rebuild it in the image of Retribution, and they will do it by draining the lifeblood of the company. He blamed them for “being the sickness that is responsible for the infestation of this hellhole.” He said all the other establishment wrestlers do it for fame and fortune so they can collect their paydays like whores. He said they will make them pay for their sins because they are the judge, jury, and executioners.
The Hurt Business (MVP, Bobby Lashley, Shelton Benjamin, Cedric Alexander) interrupted. Phillips said they offered to represent WWE and stand up to Retribution. Saxton said it’s a welcome sight. (So the newly turned Cedric Alexander is cast here in a babyface role?) When Hurt Business entered the ring, Retribution bailed out. MVP said he thought they’d stop running their mouths as soon as they got their contracts. He said they have an opportunity to be “on the business side of some hurt.” Lashley said they’ll enjoy taking them down later. Reinforcement members of Retribution ran out and outnumbered Hurt Business. Phillips said it’s chaos and Saxton called for more help.
(Keller’s Analysis: So WWE is casting an outside protest group that feels excluded unfairly to speak out against capitalistic traits like fame and money as the ultimate heels who are so atrociously out of line that fans are being encouraged to cheer the other major heel group Hurt Business? Sounds like a winning idea if you were a member of the WWE writing team looking to get Vince McMahon’s approval. I hope they come up with some sort of explanation for why they were signed to a contract. If you erase the logic issues and social message, the chaos of the scene including the announcing added to the idea that something chaotic and dangerous was happening to WWE.) [c]
-They went to the announcers on camera. Phillips said they found out right before the show started that “the five core members” of Retribution were signed to contracts. Lawler said he really wants to know why they were signed to contracts.
-Sarah Schreiber interviewed Rey Mysterio with his wife and daughter. She asked how it feels to watch Dominik go after his first title. Rey said this has special meaning to him as a father. Rey said it’s an honor to see his son try to follow in his footsteps and try to win a title in WWE.
-As the Street Profits (Montez Ford & Angelo Dawkins) made their way to ringside for commentary, Phillips smiled and said it was great to be back. They aired a clip of Seth Rollins attacking Murphy last week as “tough love” for costing him his match. After the three teams in the next match made their ring entrances, they cut to a break before the bell. [c]
(1) ANGEL GARZA & ANDRADE vs. SETH ROLLINS & MURPHY vs. HUMBERTO CARRILLO & DOMINIK MYSTERIO – Triple Threat match to earn a Raw Tag Title match at Clash of Champions
Street Profits reacted at ringside like NBA All-Stars watching the Slam Dunk competition, including after a dive by Dominik and Humberto onto two heels at ringside. Late in the match, Seth saw Murphy and Andrade both down in the ring. He said he had a lot on his mind and more important things to tend to, so he walked out on Murphy. Murphy had no one to tag. Garza then tagged in and finished Murphy with a Wing Clipper for the win.
WINNERS: Garza & Andrade in 6:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Going back to the Profits vs. Garza & Andrade match again makes me yearn for a roster shake-up soon. It should be a good match, but it just feels like it’s gone on forever and nothing has mattered.)
-A clip aired of last week’s Braun Strowman-Dabba Kato incident, setting up this week’s match. Then Shane McMahon came out of the Raw Underground room and talked with the tall bouncer/doorman about going on The KO Show to promote this fight. The doorman said he could watch his back. Shane told him to watch the door closely instead. Shane said he’s got some surprises, but smiled and wouldn’t tell the curious doorman. [c]
-Retribution spoke about Hurt Business deciding to bend at the knee of WWE instead of helping their cause. He said they use WWE payoffs to purchase their thousand dollar suits. He called them greedy and said they will have a match with them later and pay them in Retribution.
(Keller’s Analysis: The idea that Vince McMahon has formed a heel faction of wrestlers whose core stance is that they’re not going to be kiss-ass corporate robots is really bold.)
-Back to the announcers, they reacted to the potential of a Retribution vs. Hurt Business match. Saxton wanted to know how many members would battle Hurt Business.
-KO Show: Kevin Owens welcomed Shane McMahon, his guest, to sit a chair that he said Shane helped pay for. Shane said he suspects KO has an agenda. KO said their past, trying to destroy each other, is water under the bridge. KO said he’s a McMahon, thus a promoter at heart. He told him to take it away. Shane thanked him. He talked up “newcomer” Dabba-Kato’s size. He hyped him clashing with Braun later. Then he introduced Dabba-Kato. Phillips said he is over 7-feet tall and nearly 400 pounds. KO said he wanted Shane on The KO Show because he figured Dabba-Kato wouldn’t be far behind him. He said he remembers what Dabba-Kato did to him two weeks ago. He said he knows he’s the new kid and doesn’t know how things work around there. He said they are going to battle at some point. He slapped him. Shane stepped in front of Dabba-Kato to keep him from lunging at KO. KO then said Braun was on his way out. Saxton said, “This has combustible written all over it.” Braun entered the ring. Shane said this fight is happening later at Underground in the back, not there in the ring. They had a staredown and yapped at each other. Shane said, “We all want to see it, but not right now.” Aleister Black yanked KO’s legs from behind and pulled him crotch-first into the ringpost twice.
(Keller’s Analysis: Kevin Owens could be a prime reason to watch Raw these days, and he’s stuck in a ice cold feud with Aleister Black without any depth and now apparently being positioned to get sacrificed to Dabba-Kato. Sigh.)
-The camera panned to the announcers at ringside. They shifted to talking about Retribution interfering in the match between Drew McIntyre and Keith Lee. A quick clip aired.
-Charly Caruso asked Drew McIntyre backstage if he has any concern about competing with a fractured jaw. He said he gets that the fight last week with Lee was business, not personal. He said if you’re in WWE, you should want the title he has. He said he and Lee will laugh about it over drinks some day, but for now they’re going to beat the hell out of each other.
-An NXT ad aired for a five-way Gauntlet Elimination match for a title match against Finn Balor at Takeover, plus a women’s battle royal for a title shot at Takeover. [c]
-They returned to chaos backstage as Retribution were on the attack against Titus O’Neil and Humbero Carrillo. The unnamed male leader said they are the judge, jury, and executioners.
-Back to the announcers, Phillips restated that they have “license to do literally anything they want in WWE.” (This MAKES NO SENSE. Wrestlers under contract for all of WWE history have been at risk of facing suspensions or fines if they acted the way Retribution have.) Phillips said Retribution vs. Hurt Business is officially signed for tonight
(2) DREW MCINTYRE vs. KEITH LEE – If Lee wins, he gets title shot at the Clash if Randy Orton can’t appear as scheduled
Lee made his entrance first. Then as Drew came out, Phillips explained the stakes. Drew went for a Claymore at the bell, but Lee side-stepped him and applied a quick side headlock. Drew escaped and applied his own headlock. Lee and Drew rebounded off the ropes. Lee ducked a clothesline and then knocked Drew over the top rope with a shoulder check. Lee went after Drew at ringside. Drew absorbed a chop and then slammed Lee onto the announce table. They cut to a break at 4:00. [c]
Back from the break, Lee was in control. Drew kicked Lee in the face and then tried to lift Lee onto his shoulders, but couldn’t quite do it. Lee knocked Drew down. Lee seemed reluctant to follow up aggressively. Lawler said Lee is having second-thoughts about going after Drew with an injured jaw. Lee set up a Spirit Bomb, though. Drew powered out with a head scissors and a spinebuster for a two count.
Lee dominated for a couple minutes, but when he went for another Spirit Bomb, Drew broke free and landed a Claymore. Orton ran in and attacked Drew with a chair from behind.
WINNER: No contest in 12:00.
-Orton jabbed the chair against Drew’s throat, then turned and gave Lee a punt kick.
(Keller’s Analysis: A by-the-books finish for WWE style booking lately. It points to Orton being healthy enough to fight Drew on Sunday, obviously. It also positioned Keith as a third wheel whose more or less a body to fill some space in a storyline between two others, and while he had the big win against Orton, otherwise he seems on the verge of losing time after time before cheap interference finishes.) [c]
-Back from the break, they replayed Lee attacking Drew with the chair. Phillips said the medical team is examining Drew including his injured jaw. Then Orton said shame on anyone who doubted he’d make it to the Clash of Champions on Sunday. He said his track record should speak for itself. He said in the last 20 years, he has never walked away from a World Title match and he doesn’t plan to anytime soon. He said the World Title match at the Clash isn’t exactly the normal World Title match. He looked over at the ambulance, then walked over to it. He talked for a few more minutes about the ambulance stipulation, his past victims, and how he plans to flatline Drew at the Clash.
(Keller’s Analysis: Orton seemed bored mid-way through this interview. He seems ready to move on, just like the rest of us.)
-Schreiber interviewed Asuka backstage. She asked who she feels is a bigger risk to her title. Billie Kay interrupted and asked for a title match. Peyton Royce stepped in and said how about her. Schreiber asked if they’re still friends. Kay said she still has Royce’s back. Royce said things do change, though. She said just because Asuka is the current Raw Champion doesn’t mean she’ll still be after the Clash. Asuka said no one is ready for her. She said tonight she is ready for Royce. She laughed and walked away. Saxton asked if that was a challenge by Asuka.
-Zelina Vega made her ring entrance. [c]
-Phillips asked Lawler for his thoughts on ThunderDome. Then they replayed the finish of last week’s Mickie James-Asuka match and the controversial finish. Backstage, Mickie said last week she didn’t give up and she never will. She said Zelina has to back up all her trash talk and sass because she’s dealing with a real champion this week.
(3) ZELINA VEGA vs. MICKIE JAMES
Vega went aggressively after Mickie at the bell. Mickie made a comeback and swung Vega around by her hair. They battled back and forth for a few minutes. Zelina ended Mickie with a backstabber, though. Saxton said he was shocked Vega beat Mickie.
WINNER: Vega in 3:00 to earn a Raw Title match at the Clash.
(Keller’s Analysis: A two-week storyline and one victory over another wrestler who lost embarrassingly last week does not qualify as building up Vega as a world title contender. She deserved better than a last-second rush to a PPV title match like this. Mickie James also deserves better than this.)
-Backstage Hurt Business were beating up Retribution. Saxton said they’re not waiting for later tonight in the ring. Phillips praised Hurt Business for “being the first to bring the fight to Retribution.” Then he plugged Cedric vs. Apollo Crews. [c]
-A vignette aired on Bianca Belair outlifting a man at the gym. “You can’t outdo me,” she said. “No one can. I’m the EST of WWE.”
-Saxton said he’s a huge fan of Belair. Lawler said he loves the 24/7 Title because you have to be on guard all the time. Phillips said Truth knows that all too well. They went to a beach where Tozawa and a ninja referee stood. Tozawa led the ref into the ocean to find Truth. Truth was shown walking at the beach on a windy day. He then saw a shark fin. Truth yelled, “Shark!” Truth dropped his 24/7 Title belt. The screen said, “20 minutes later.” Truth was in snorkel gear and went looking for the belt. “If they could find Nemo, I can find my baby,” he said. He saw the shark fin again and yelled for everyone to get out of the water. “Calgon, take me away!” he yelled. (A reference to a 1980s commercial for a brand of bubbly bath soap.) He found his belt when it washed ashore. He held up a scuba outfit that he assumed was Tozawa’s for some reason.
(Keller’s Analysis: Someone in the WWE production team really wanted a day at the beach, apparently. That was utter nonsense, campy but not one that will age well or grow on people over time as a funny odd segment. Just disjointed and poorly edited, not that it had the raw material to be all that good otherwise.)
-Cedric and MVP made their way to the ring to Cedric’s music. MVP said Retribution will be in a six-man tag team match later against them, and they’ll find out why they are called The Hurt Business. He said they can call themselves judge and jury, but the Hurt Business are the executioners. Cedric said they should expect back ten-fold what they did to Hurt Business. He said Crews will pay for using him for months to get himself title shots. He said he doesn’t care about Apollo or Apollo’s kids. Crews and Ricochet walked out. Crews said they don’t care anymore why he did what he did, they just want to punch him in his face.
(Keller’s Analysis: But Cedric is part of the Hurt Business, who are the only people standing up to Retribution, those nasty outsiders disrupting WWE. So should I be rooting for or against Crews and Ricochet if they don’t like him?)
(4) CEDRIC (w/MVP) vs. APOLLO CREWS (w/Ricochet)
Crews bailed out seconds into the match after early Crews offense. Crews gave him a slidekick. MVP got in Crews’s face and they cut to an early break. [c]
Cedric had Crews in a headlock on the mat after the break. A graphic hyped Shayna Baszler & Nia Jax vs. Natalya & Lana later. Crews landed a corner splash and scored a two count. Cedric avoided a Crews flip at ringside, then tackled him against the ring barricade. He threw Crews into the ring, exchanged words with Ricochet, and re-entered the ring. Crews rolled up Cedric for the win.
WINNER: Crews in 6:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Why should anyone care about what happens during a match in WWE until there’s some sort of distraction, because that’s how most matches that are the least bit competitive otherwise end. The crutch of booking interference/distraction finishes in WWE is just ridiculous and has been for a while.)
-Afterward, Shelton and Lashley walked onto the stage. Cedric and MVP attacked Ricochet and Crews from behind. They dropped Crews over the edge of the ringside barricade, then left. Lawler said they are sending a message to Retribution. Lashley put Crews in a full nelson and threw him down. He said there’s more of that coming his way on Sunday.
-They hyped Dabba-Kato vs. Braun. [c]
-Raw Underground: Shane introduced Dolph Ziggler vs. Arturo Ruas as the first fight. Ziggler scrambled to get out of an armbar attempt and then applied a sleeper. Ruas powered out with a Russian leg sweep type move and then powered Ziggler down with a kneebar. Ziggler yanked on Ruas’s mouth to force a break, then applied another sleeper for victory.
Afterward, Shane tried to ask Braun a question. Braun yelled that he didn’t want to talk to him. Briana Brandy took the mic and asked Braun what they should expect from him this week. Braun yelled that he wants their best fighter, and he better have dental insurance. He said if Shane wants some, he can get be next.
-Seth Rollins made his ring entrance. He said he thought he was through with the Mysterio family, but they won’t go away. He said he noticed a photo of the Mysterio family. He said he noticed Rey is shorter than Dominik and something isn’t right. He said he had some people run a test and he has the results. He called out Rey and his family. Rey walked out with his wife, son, and daughter. Seth said his family deserves the truth because in the envelope are the results of a DNA test. He said it’s time to get to the bottom of whether Rey is actually Dominik’s father. As Rey reacted, Seth interrupted and said they deserve the truth. He pulled out the sheet of paper from an envelope and said the results are conclusive and Rey is not Dominik’s father. He laughed.
Rey asked if Seth really brought him out there for that. He said it’s time for him to stop running his family’s name through the mud. Seth said maybe he made a mistake. He said maybe it’s not Dominik who isn’t Rey’s son, but rather maybe it’s Aaliyah who isn’t his daughter. Seth said he actually has some concrete evidence to back it up. They showed her checking on Murphy as she entered the ring last week. Phillips called it “a curious moment.”
Seth said what she did last week didn’t seem like something Rey’s daughter would do. Rey said he already talked with Aaliyah about it, and it’s not his business. He told Seth to keep his daughter’s name out of his dirty mouth. He said she’s just 19 and is “naive and knows nothing about our world.” She was upset with Rey for that and turned and left. Rey’s wife went to check on her as Dominik had a few words with Rey. Rey then returned to the back. Dominik stared down Seth, then left. Seth insincerely apologized. He said he just came out there to provide information, not drive a wedge in the family. He said it can happen to any family, though. He looked at the camera and said it’s probably happened to some of their families. He apologized and put the mic down and left. Saxton called this a new low. Seth was shown breaking into a grin.
(Keller’s Analysis: This feud will never end. At least there’s a new twist. I’m not sure where they’re heading in terms of Aaliyah being concerned about Murphy and what that ultimately is revealed to mean. As for the DNA stuff before they got to the main angle, that gets cut if Raw is a two hour show instead of three. It seemed more or less time filler for shock value or to try to revisit the Eddie Guerrero-Rey Mysterio angle just for the sake of some “callback” swag points, but it didn’t work at all and was uncomfortable and ultimately pointless.) [c]
(5) SHAYNA BASZLER & NIA JAX vs. LANA & NATALYA
Ruby Riott and Liv Morgan joined the announcers on commentary. Riott said she and Morgan are as tight as ever. Jax beat up Lana early. Baszler demanded a tag into the match. Jax tagged her in. Baszler made Lana tap quickly.
WINNERS: Bazsler & Jax in 1:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: It just seems like Lana is being treated like “the wife of a wrestler in AEW that Vince wants to torture from far away” than a wrestler WWE is interested in getting mileage out of. She’s served her purpose to Vince, and now she’s there to be marginalized as he shifts gears to the new blond flavor of the week.)
-After the match, Jax and Baszler went after Riott and Liv. Jax gave Lana a Samoan Drop through the announce table as Riott Squad watched.
-Phillips said it’s been an explosive night so far. They threw to a clip of the Orton attack on Drew. Then they went backstage to Drew being examined by a doctor. Drew held an ice back to jaw. He said he is going to beat the piss out of Orton at the Clash. He threw down the ice pack and said he’s going to go pick a fight tonight. [c]
-Backstage, Rey apologized to Aaliyah. She said she can speak for herself. Rey said he doesn’t want Seth to get into her head. She said she came to WWE to protect Dominik. She said with everything that’s happened to them, it’s too much “for a naive 19 year old girl like me.”
-Raw Underground: Riddick Moss vs. Erik from the Viking Raiders were fighting. Erik gave Moss a back suplex, but when he went for the finish, Moss gave him a wild right roundhouse to the jaw and the the ref stopped it. Shane excitedly told Brandy to ask Dabba-Kato what’s up. He stared at her and she was intimidated, so Shane took back the mic. Shane asked what they can expect. He said talk is cheap, so tonight everyone will see what he is about. Shane said the main event is coming up.
-Asuka made her ring entrance. [c]
(6) ASUKA vs. PEYTON ROYCE (w/Billie Kay)
Royce got in some offense including a near fall. It didn’t last long. When Asuka applied an Asuka lock, Vega attacked Asuka.
WINNER: No contest in 2:00.
-Murphy approached Aaliyah and said if he’s done anything to hurt her, he is sorry. She seemed receptive. [c]
-Raw Underground: Braun and Dabba-Kato began slugging each other. Braun went for a rear naked choke a minute in. Shane said they’ve never seen that out of Braun before. Kato escaped and they rolled to the floor. Back in the ring seconds later, Braun took Kato down with a punch to the haw and then pummeled him with a barrage of punches. The ref stopped the fight. Braun stood over him and threw off his t-shirt, and held out his arms in celebration.
(Keller’s Analysis: Well, Raw Underground wasn’t designed to be a new-star-maker, but rather give a boost to Braun? Not sure what the goal is for all of this.)
-The announcers hyped the Clash line-up including Smackdown matches.
-Retribution made their entrance without music and from the side rather than the stage. The screens all turned to Retribution logos. Then Hurt Business came out. [c]
(7) RETRIBUTION (Slapjack & T-Bar & Mace) vs. HURT BUSINESS (Bobby Lashley & Shelton Benjamin & Cedric Alexander w/MVP)
Lashley tossed around the smallest guy, Slapjack, who quickly tagged in the medium guy, Mace. T-Bar entered third and got the better of Cedric. Phillips again said Retribution signed a contract and now they can do anything, anytime, to anyone. Lashley tagged back in and overpowered the smallest guy. He applied the Hurt Lock (full nelson). T-Bar jabbed Lashley in the eye. The ref called for the DQ.
WINNERS: Hurt Business by DQ in 5:00.
-More of Retribution ran out and attacked Hurt Business. Phillips said now they’re signed Superstars, so they can do this anytime. Drew led the charge to the ring with other WWE wrestlers including Street Profits and Carrillo. They cleared the ring. Orton snuck in and gave Drew an RKO out of nowhere. The show ended with Orton standing over Drew.
FINAL THOUGHTS: This is what one might describe as a “stunningly bad episode.” Retribution were pretty dreadful in every way – their message, their delivery, their outfits. It was ridiculous the announcers were pretending not to recognize them, especially Mia Yim. The inexplicable news of them being signed to a contract came across as if Vince McMahon just got tired of having them be outsiders and decided to just rush to making them official wrestlers. The idea that they’d be “rewarded” with contracts after what they’ve done is stupid. For Phillips to say over and over they now can do anything they want anytime to anyone is equally stupid and unprecedented, but he said it like it was just something everyone knew to be true to any contracted wrestler. And if only the “five core members” were signed (and he said that like we knew there were “five core members” when that’s the first we’ve heard of such a thing), then when all of the others attack WWE wrestlers, do those “extras” get arrested or something?
Having Hurt Business be the key opposition to this invading group of heels made little sense, especially coming right after Cedric turned heel. He’s part of a “stand-up” group of guys suddenly taking on Retribution, while Apollo Crews and Ricochet are among the many babyfaces who didn’t step up and offer to help Adam Pearce get rid of them. Just so odd and counterproductive.
This show also saw Dabba-Kato lose to Braun Strowman, marginalizing the entire Raw Underground concept and the TV time spent on building up a mystique for Dabba-Kato. I doubt the master plan all along was for Braun to become the lone beneficiary of the Raw Underground “fight club” concept. Having Dolph Ziggle beat Arturo Ruas also defined down another Underground “home team” wrestler who could have benefited from big wins in that setting.
The Seth Rollins-Rey Mysterio saga moved to a new stage with Rey’s daughter perhaps smitten with Murphy, but between the continuation of that, the renewal of Street Profits vs. Andrade & Angel Garza, and more between Hurt Business and Crews and Ricochet, and Raw just felt too repetitive. Heck, even McIntyre-Orton is feeling stale, and it hardly felt like the primary talking point by the end of the show, despite the final scene featuring them. Keith Lee, meanwhile, has felt like a third wheel who just stands around getting big spotlight matches where he appears to be about to lose before interference ends matches prematurely while we don’t get to know any more about him as a person.
An awful episode in so many ways. Even Seth Rollins seemed unable to fake his material convincingly this week, as if not wanting to convey he endorsed the DNA test nonsense.