SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
KELLER’S WWE RAW REPORT
OCTOBER 19, 2020
ORLANDO, FLA. AT AMWAY CENTER (“THUNDERDOME”)
AIRED ON USA NETWORK
Announcers: Tom Phillips, Byron Saxton, Samoa Joe
-They opened with a new theme song, “The Search” by NF. Order of appearance: Randy Orton, Charlotte, Kofi Kingston, Lacey Evans, Drew McIntyre, Asuka, Braun Strowman, Jeff Hardy, Orton again, Keith Lee, Miz, John Morrison, Shayna Baszler, Charlotte again, Andrade, Kofi again, Mustafa Ali with Retribution, The Fiend, A.J. Styles, Matt Riddle, Mandy Rose, Hurt Business, Alexa Bliss, Ricochet, R-Truth, The Fiend again, Asuka, Naomi, Shayna Baszler, Orton again, Sheamus, Braun, and Drew.
(Keller’s Analysis: Good to see a refresh on the opening for the season premiere of Raw with the new mix of talent. Cool, different type of song for WWE. The order of talent felt somewhat random, although they clearly are pushing Orton, Charlotte, and Drew. I’m surprised that they showed Kofi but not Xavier Woods, from what I noticed, and that Fiend was not more promiment.)
-They went to the announcers on camera. Phillips said they’re excited about the season premier, but also are looking ahead to Sunday’s Hell in a Cell between Drew McIntyre and Randy Orton. He said Orton would have a “message from hell” later. Joe hyped Braun Strowman vs. Keith Lee for the first time officially tonight. They showed a graphic of the new additions to the roster.
-The Fiend’s music played, interrupting Phillips mid-sentence, and Alexa Bliss was standing mid-ring. She said in a creepy tone, “Monday Night Raw is heeeee-re! Let him in!” Then the full Fiend special effects kicked in, the arena went dark, and out came The Fiend. He entered the ring and stood next to Bliss. Then the lights went out and The Retribution logo took over the Thunderdome screens. Fiend didn’t react. He and Bliss stood frozen mid-ring. They zoomed in on Fiend’s face. Then Retribution came out – Ali, Slapjack, Reckoning, Mace, and T-Bar. They surrounded the ring and stood on the ring apron. They circled Fiend and Bliss, who remained frozen without any reaction. The lights went out again and when they came back on, Fiend and Bliss were gone. The Hurt Business music then played and they came out. Phillips called it an explosive situation. HB and Retribution went at it. Phillips said they were scheduled for eight-man tag team action. HB cleared the ring. Cedric then flip dove onto them at ringside. [c]
(Keller’s Analysis: Hot opening with three major acts all doing grand ring entrances, and then a big brawl. I’m still curious how the Retribution-Hurt Business dynamic plays out with both being cast as heels, but HB being heralded as standing up for the roster otherwise.) [c]
-A vignette aired on Matt Riddle.
(1) RETRIBUTION (Ali & Slapjack & Mace & T-Bar) vs. HURT BUSINESS (MVP & Bobby Lashley & Cedric Alexander & Shelton Benjamin)
Saxton again talked up HB for standing up to Retribution. Lashley and T-Bar went at it at the start. Cedric battled Slapjack. Mace gave him a pep talk when Cedric knocked him to the ring apron. Slapjack yanked Cedric off the top rope. Ali tagged in. Phillips called him the leader of Evolution. He dropped Cedric over the top rope, then threw him hard into the barricade. They all squared off at ringside. The Fiend’s music played again. What a great time for a commercial break! [c]
Back from the break, Lashley and T-Bar were back at it. Shelton and Mace went at it next, with Shelton on offense. Lashley tagged in and cleared the ring and ring apron of all of Retribution. He then gave Mace a spinebuster, speared T-Bar, and made the cover. Ali broke up the cover. Ali begged off as Lashley approached him. The graphic touted Styles vs. Riddle later. T-Bar grabbed Lashley from behind. Lashley reversed it and applied a Hurt Lock and T-Bar tapped out.
WINNERS: Hurt Business in 11:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Huh? All of that build up and they have an unadvertised match and then T-Bar taps out clean? Interesting. Hurt Business definitely wrestled as the babyfaces there.)
-After the match, the lights went out again. When they came back on, The Fiend was standing on the ring apron among Retribution. He went after Ali and the rest of Retribution. He chokeslammed Mace onto the announce table. Ali backed away and scurried into the ring. Fiend caught him and set up a Sister Abigail. T-Bar saved him. Fiend put T-Bar in a Mandible Claw and then gave him a Sister Abigail. Hurt Business stood together on the stage as Fiend stared back at them. Bliss appeared on the screen and said, “Let me in!” in a deep Fiend voice. [c]
-A.J. Styles made his ring entrance with Jordan Omogbehin. Phillips called Omogbehin “a huge human being.” He is. Styles congratulated Raw on finally drafting a true leader. He dissed on Seth Rollins with his messiah complex spewing about the greater good. He took a dig at Jeff Hardy for stumbling around. He said the real redemption of Raw was his return. He said this is much more than the season premiere of Raw, it’s a new era that belongs to the face that runs the place. Out came Riddle.
(2) A.J. STYLES (w/Jordan Omogbehin) vs. MATT RIDDLE
They replayed Riddle leaping into the ring and throwing off his flip-flops in slo-mo. The ref asked Omogbehin to leave the ring. He just stood there and shook his head. The ref asked Styles to help. Styles smiled and refused. The ref said he’d give him to the count of five or Styles would be DQ’d. When he got to two, Omogbehin grabbed his hand. The ref then grovelled and begged him to leave the ring because he’s just trying to do his job. He said he doesn’t care what he does after the match, just leave the ring now. Omogbehin finally did. (That was so dumb putting the ref in a position to act like such a hapless pathetic sap.)
A corner graphic advertised a Firefly Funhouse later. Riddle took it to Styles early with a gut-wrench suplex. He tossed Styles to the floor, then leaped to the ring apron. Omogbehin calmly stepped in his path, while keeping his hands in front of him like a funeral home director. Riddle backed off, looking wide-eyed and intimidated. They cut to a break. [c]
Riddle was in control after the break. Styles kicked Riddle as he was in mid-air for a Bro-ton. Both were slow to get up. The corner graphic hyped “an unforgettable concert” by Elias. Riddle gave Styles a German suplex. A screen graphic noted #WWERaw was the no. 1 trend on Twitter in the United States. Styles set up a Styles Clash a minute later, but Riddle dropped down to block it. He countered with a sudden fisherman’s suplex for a near fall. When Riddle went to the top rope, Styles knocked him off balance and went for a superplex. Riddle blocked it. Styles and Riddle stood on the top rope and post. Both knocked each other down, with Riddle falling to the floor. Omogbehin slowly made a fist as Riddle was mesmerized by his size. When Riddle returned to the ring, Styles recovered and caught him with a kick to the head and a Styles Clash for the win.
WINNER: Styles in 9:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: I mean, they succeeded in making a big first impression with Omobehin teamed up with Styles, but at the expense of Riddle and the referee seeming like dorks by being so intimidated by a tall guy.)
-They went to the announcers at ringside. Phillips threw to a video package on the Orton-Drew feud.
-Orton, sitting in a dark room, said he doesn’t remember much from the ambulance match. He said for every action, there’s an equal and opposite reaction. Footage went from him being put in an ambulance to attacking the legends playing poker.
(Keller’s Analysis: Good summation video package dramatically produced.) [c]
-Charly Caruso interviewed McIntyre. She said Orton is a veteran of Hell in a Cell matches, whereas this is his first. She asked how that would factor in. Drew began to answer, but then politely asked Caruso if he could take over and address Orton directly. He said from the first moment he met Orton when he was 20 until to now, it was always obvious to him he is the most evil, sadistic, entitled, selfish individual in WWE. He said he’s very intelligent. He said after he beat him in the ambulance match, that should have been it, but then he attacked the legends because he knew how he’d react. He said HIAC is a match “custom built for injury” and he thrives in that environment. He admitted he’s never been in the Cell. He said against anyone else, that’d give Orton a massive advantage. He said he has defended his title with the honor and respect it deserves. He said in-ring experience counts for a lot, but so does life experience. He said he’s been through more hell than he could possibly imagine, so he’ll put Orton through hell. He said the crew asked him today why he wearing all black. He said they asked if he was going to a funeral. He said he hears he has an interview later, so maybe he’ll show up. He smiled and dropped the mic and walked off.
(3) ASUKA vs. LANA – Raw Title match
They did formal ring introductions. Asuka went for an early submission, but Lana grabbed the ropes to force a break. Lana made a little comeback until Asuka caught her charging with an elbow and then a boot. Lana rolled up Asuka after a struggle mid-ring. Asuka reversed it into an Asukalock.
WINNER: Asuka in 2:00.
-The second Lana tapped and the bell rang, Nia Jax’s music played. She and Shayna Baszler attacked Asuka from behind, then went after Lana. Jax gave Lana a Samaon Drop through the announce table again. Baszler went after Asuka in the ring. Asuka came back with a kick to the gut and then hip attacked her to the floor. She left with her belt as Jax and Baszler yelled at her from the ring.
(Keller’s Analysis: It was dumb that Jax’s surprise attack was preceded by her entrance music playing briefly when she didn’t even come out through the stage where presumably the person in charge of cuing up the music sits and activates the entrance themes. The Lana announce table gag is both funny and disgusting. Mostly funny, though. Is it leading anywhere? If it’s that devastating, though, why does she keep appearing just fine week after week?) [c]
-They replayed Jax putting Lana through the table. Then Jax and Baszler stood mid-ring. Jax said she and Baszler might not braid each other’s hair on weekends or even follow each other on Instagram, but they are true partners. She said they have teamwork. Baszler said she’d have used a better word, like dominance. Baszler said it doesn’t matter what word they use or what they say, what matters is what they do. She said what they do week after week is dominate. “We own the Women’s Tag Team Titles, and that means we own both the Raw and Smackdown women’s divisions,” Baszler said. Jax dared anyone to refute that. She stared at the hard cam. Mandy Rose and Dana Brooke came out. Then Peyton Royce came out. Then Lacey Evans. Then Riott Squad’s Ruby Riott and Liv Morgan.
(4) NIA JAX & SHAYNA BASZLER vs. RIOTT SQUAD vs. DANA BROOKE & MANDY ROSE vs. LACEY EVANS & PEYTON ROYCE
After talking with the wrestlers, the ref created an impromptu fatal-four way tag match. Joe said titles can change hands in a Fatal Four-way if you’re not pinned. Phillips corrected that this wasn’t a title match. Saxton said “major bragging rights” were on the line. They brawled and then came a series of dives off the top rope onto crowds on the floor. Riott Squad got in stereo dives at the end, then stood tall in the ring as they cut to a break a minute into the match. [c]
After the break, Royce was annoyed by Lacey not paying attention to the match. Jax eventually pinned Lana after a Samoan drop.
WINNERS: Jax & Baszler in 9:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Lots of non-stop action, but Fatal Four-way tag matches are a jumbled mess of meaningless spots with nonsense strategy since tagging out means you can’t win.)
-The announcers commented on the angle five months ago outside the Performance Center where Jeff Hardy was arrested for apparently driving a car that struck Elias and put him out of action for five months. Saxton said it was never proven that Hardy was the driver. They showed Elias smashing Styles with a guitar last week on Raw.
-They showed Elias preparing his band for their performance next. [c]
-Elias introduced himself on stage and led the “crowd” in chanting “Walk with Elias!” He introduced his first song, “Amen.” He said he hopes Hardy is watching really close. He then sang the whole song and played guitar. Phillips plugged the song is available on Apple Podcasts and Spotify. He said Elias seems really pleased with himself. Elias acted like the crowd wanted an encore. Suddenly his guitarist was wearing a hood and he revealed himself to be Hardy. He swung at a snarling Elias with his guitar, but Elias ducked. The mic stand got knocked over. Hardy’s music played.
(Keller’s Analysis: I’m not sure what we’re supposed to think. He’s ripping on a babyface in Hardy. They pipe in fans chanting his catch phrase. He then does a full concert-style song performance that isn’t bad, and then they pipe in cheers. Then Hardy attacks him and Elias flees. What’s the point to it all?)
-Backstage, Miz and John Morrison talked about saving Mandy by sending her to Raw for her to team with Dana instead of being Otis’s arm candy. Miz said he’s going to win his court case against Otis eventually, too. Tucker showed up and said they’re trying to ruin his buddy’s life. He said he used his pull with USA to send Mandy and him to Raw, and he’s trying to drain Otis’s bank account by suing him. He said he’s going to find a partner and ruin their lives in a tag match tonight. Miz said he’s just trying to restore some dignity to the MITB. They accepted the challenge and then laughed in an over-the-top way at the prospect of Tucker finding a partner.
-Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods made their ring entrance. Kofi did pelvic thrusts and Xavier brought his trombone with him. Same act as before, no tweaks. [c]
-Phillips thanked Holy Wars for “Welcome to Hell,” the official theme of HIAC.
-Caruso approached Elias who ranted about Hardy interrupting his encore. He said he thought when he returned, there’d be some reverence for some music, “but no, no there isn’t!” He said next week he’s celebrating his album dropping, and he’s also going to drop Hardy this Sunday at Hell in a Cell if he accepts his challenge.
-New Day were still dancing in the ring. Kofi said for the first time in nearly four years, they are their “Raw WWE World Tag Team Champions.” They sang it. Xavier said a lot has changed in a year. Xavier said he got hurt a year ago, 2020 has been a dumpster fire of a year, and then they’re drafted immediately to Raw away from Big E. Kofi calmed him down and told him to breath a little. When Sheamus taunted Kofi and Xavier over being split from Big E, Kofi said it just means Big E will rule Smackdown and they’ll rule Raw. Sheamus called them “two-turds” of New Day and they’ll get a Brogue Kick. “You are divided, and divided you will fall,” he said. Kofi brought up that Big E dropped his ass through a car. Xavier called him to the ring to beat up by another member of New Day. They sang “New… Day Rocks!”
(5) SHEAMUS vs. KOFI KINGSTON (w/Xavier)
Phillips said this is the first Kofi vs. Sheamus one-on-one match on Raw in nine years. Kofi clotheslined Sheamus over the top rope and then kicked Sheamus off the ring apron. He dove over the top rope next. Sheamus caught him (sort of) and dropped him on the edge of the ring apron. They cut to a break a minute in. [c]
Back from the break, Sheamus had Kofi in a chinlock. Sheamus then pounded his chest. They showed Big E watching on a monitor in the “crowd” of screens. Xavier pointed at Big E on the screen who was giving Kofi encouragement. Phillips said it’s the power of positivity. Kofi made a comeback with a high stomp into Sheamus’s throat. Kofi then dropkicked him and clotheslined him. He followed with a Boom Drop as “New… Day Rocks!” was piped in. Kofi leaped at Sheamus and scored a two count. Kofi leaped off the top rope, but Sheamus caught him and delivered a spinning one armed slam for a near fall. Sheamus put Kofi in a Cloverleaf a minute later. Kofi crawled over toward the bottom rope. Sheamus pulled him away, but Kofi rolled him up for a near fall. Kofi went for a Trouble in Paradise. Sheamus was on a different page and they kind of stumbled and fell. Sheamus picked up Kofi and gave him a nasty Alabama Slam for a two count. Joe wondered how much Kofi has left. Sheamus lifted Kofi onto his shoulders and set up a move off the second rope. Kofi slipped free and gave Sheamus a Russian leg sweep type of move off the ropes. Both crashed. Kofi scored a two count.
Sheamus countered an SOS into a roll-up for a two count. Kofi took Sheamus down with a crucifix for a two count. Kofi then landed a quick Trouble in Paradise for a three count.
WINNER: Kingston in 13:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Good to see a tag wrestler get a win over a singles wrestler, I suppose, but between this and Sheamus losing last Friday, it really makes it seem as if there are no plans to build to a meaningful Drew vs. Sheamus match. I felt like he’d be a good opponent for Drew between two bigger feuds. They can always try to rebuild him. Or they’ll turn him babyface, as sometimes they job out a heel before a turn.)
-They went to the announcers who threw to a video package on the Retribution vs. Hurt Business match at the start of the show followed by The Fiend showing up and beating them up.
-They went backstage to Retribution. Ali said earlier tonight The Fiend and Hurt Business made a very big mistake by assuming his only power is strength in numbers. He said his power is creating chaos, and they all have no idea how much chaos he can create. He said he only needs a laptop, a cell phone, and a secret. He said with one click, he can make anyone’s world come crumbling down. He said he’s learned to embrace his power. “Over this past year while I was sitting at home because this corrupt company couldn’t figure out a way to make a buck off of someone named Mustafa Ali, I wasn’t just watching the show, I was watching each and everyone of these spineless Superstars as they plotted and they backstabbed each other just to get ahead.” He said he learned “all of your pathetic little secrets.” He “confessed” the mysterious hacker over on Smackdown was him, and he did it because he wanted everyone to know “this sick place is infecting everyone with greed and corruption.” He said because of that, good talented individuals are being forgotten and abandoned. “Their dreams are left to die,” he said. “But I found them. I united them. And I promised them that their truth will be heard. So to anyone, whether it be The Fiend or Hurt Business or anybody on Monday Night Raw, if you stop the truth from being heard, we will shut you down.”
-Miz and Morrison made their ring entrance. [c]
-Backstage, Titus O’Neal walked up to Hurt Business and congratulated them on their work earlier. He said he thinks he’d be a hell of an addition to Hurt Business. He said he dresses the part, looks the part, and with his connections he could take the conglomerate worldwide. MVP said he’s a fine upstanding community service guy, so he wanted a moment to confer. Titus said no problem. He stepped a few feet away. Instantly MVP said they talked and said they’re in business. Titus shook their hands and said he can’t wait to get started. MVP corrected him and said, “We are in business,” pointing at his guys. They then attacked Titus. They quickly cut away to the ring.
-Miz and Morrison stood in the ring and asked Tucker to bring out his partner who can fill Otis’s shoes. He was smarmy about it. Tucker came out to Heavy Machinery music with the Heavy Machinery logo. Tucker said when the bell rings, they won’t be laughing because he scoured the globe and found one of the world’s premier luchadors. Out came Otis in a pink lucha mask and cape and kneepads. Saxton told Joe that is indeed a famous luchador. Miz said that’s obviously Otis in a mask. Otis spoke in bad Spanish and didn’t dissuade Miz and Morrison’s suspicions. Otis even had his lunch bucket. Tucker said he’ll be the next Rey Mysterio. Miz told Otis it looks like he ate Lucha House Party. Miz said he’s not championship material, so he shouldn’t have the MITB briefcase. “You spit on everyone who has ever held the Money in the Bank contract,” he said. “That changed my career and you are wasting it.” He said he’s making a joke of it. He said he has figured out Otis is the joke. Miz said he’s been in WWE for 15 years and represented the company in all forms of media and he’s championship material, yet everyone boos him and puts their thumbs down, but they cheer Otis because he’s the underdog story. “You can play any character you want, but the fact remains, if you put a mask on a pig, it’s still a pig,” he said. Tucker and Otis charged to the ring and attacked Miz and Morrison. They bailed out to ringside. [c]
(6) JOHN MORRISON & THE MIZ vs. TUCKER & OTIS
Back from the break, Miz and Morrison were working over Tucker with the match in progress. Miz taunted Otis. Otis eventually got the hot-tag and went after Miz with a series of clotheslines. He knocked Morrison over the top rope to the floor, the delivered a lucha-style armdrag off the middle rope. Next, a powerslam for a near fall, broken up by Morrison. Tucker gave Morrison a slam. Miz knocked Tucker to the floor with a big boot. Miz set up a Skull Crushing Finale, but R-Truth ran into the ring and then out of it. Suddenly Drew Gulak chased Truth to the back. Otis splashed a distracted Miz in the corner. He then did a Caterpillar into an elbowdrop and finally a corner swing splash for the win.
WINNERS: Otis & Tucker in about 4:00.
-They advertised the Firefly Funhouse. They showed Ramblin’ Rabbit with a bunch of carrots. [c]
-Backstage New Day was celebrating with Otis & Tucker. Xavier was playing his trombone. Mandy presented Otis with a ham.
-The Firefly Funhouse aired. Bray Wyatt was unpacking. He pulled a giant sledgehammer out of the box and a black sheep mask. He waved at the audience and said hello to the Fireflies. He said he’s ready to make new friends on Raw. A brief ominous Fiend vignette aired. Bray laughed and said they’re already off to a great start. Abby told him to keep it down because she wants to sleep. Bray told her not to be so crabby. The pig said he likes it raw and he burped. The rabbit said his goal is to make new friends and be a better father and husband. Bray made a funny face. Bray said he never told him he had a wife. Rabbit said, “You never asked, dude.” Bray promised to be a better friend. Suddenly clips aired of the Rabbit getting chewed up by Mercy the Buzzard. Bray said, “The past is in our heads, but the future is in our hands.” Cheers. Rabbit said that means so much to him because he all he ever wanted was a fresh start. Buzzard popped up and ate him. Bray laughed and said, “Fresh start? More like fresh meat. Ha ha ha!” There was a knock on the door. In walked Alexa. He said he saved the best for last. She said the fun is just getting started. They smiled and waved bye.
-Braun Strowman began his ring entrance. [c]
-They showed footage of the Braun-Lee brawl two weeks ago, with Lee tossing Braun around and crashing off the stage with him through a platform below.
(7) KEITH LEE vs. BRAUN STROWMAN
They showed Ric Flair on a monitor. Braun shoved Lee into the corner and then splashed him in the opening seconds. Braun clotheslined Lee over the top rope to the floor. He charged and knocked Lee into the ring apron. Back in the ring, Braun yelled for Lee to get up. Then he went for a powerslam, but Lee slipped free and kneed Braun in the injured ribs. Lee kicked away at Braun’s ribs aggressively. He splashed him across his back and then rolled him over for a two count. JBL was shown watching on a monitor. He charged into Braun as soon as he got up and roared. Braun dropped down. Lee stood over him. Braun lifted his head and caught Lee in the crotch. Lee gasped in pain as Joe said, “You go with what works.” Braun kicked Lee in the face and scored a three count.
WINNER: Braun in 4:00.
-After the match, Lee spun Braun around and kicked him in the crotch. Braun went down. Lee told him not to test him. He said he claims to be a monster, but “monster, meet the dragon.” He yelled that he won round one.
(Keller’s Analysis: Hmm. A little clunky but also pretty hard hitting. Are we supposed to support Lee after he did that, or is this the start of a heel turn? It was difficult to tell if Braun gave Lee the headbutt to the crotch on purpose, but Lee’s was with purpose.)
-The Cell lowered. Then Orton made his full ring entrance. He brought a chair into the ring. He said he wanted to stand inside the Cell so he could reflect and remember. He sat in the chair mid-ring. He said anyone who competes inside the Cell leaves a small piece of themselves behind. He said he’s had seven matches in the structure and has never left any piece of himself behind. He said he’s walked out understanding himself a little better, in fact, each time he walked out the door. He said he realized what he is truly capable of. He said he’ll face Drew in his eighth match in the Cell. He talked about remembering facing Mark Henry, Sheamus, Jeff Hardy, Daniel Bryan, John Cena (twice), and winning the World Title twice. He said what he remembers most is looking the Dead Man in the eye and earning his respect. He said they can all agree that if they’re not already Hall of Famers, his HIAC opponents will be there one day. He said the first word that comes to mind when you think of the Hall of Fame is “legend,” and it gets thrown around pretty loosely. He said there are “legends” and “legendary moments.” He said it was a legendary moment when Drew beat Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania. Drew interrupted and marched to the ring to his music. He stood on the outside of the cage. Orton walked up to him. They stared at each other. The chain was locked, so Drew couldn’t get in. Orton said he ain’t breaking in. Orton yelled, “Come on!” He said he’ll have to wait until Sunday unless he can break the lock. Saxton said under his breath, “McIntyre can’t break that lock.” Drew found a chain cutter and snipped it. Orton panicked, but then grabbed the chair in the ring. “Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide this Sunday!” said Phillips. The show faded to black at that moment.
(Keller’s Analysis: I don’t like that finish. It teased a big moment and then cut away. I get leaving fans wanting more, but it’d have been better to have Drew not be able to break in and Orton smugly smiling when they went off the air.)