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KELLER’S WWE RAW REPORT
NOVEMBER 23, 2020
ORLANDO, FLA. AT AMWAY CENTER (“THUNDERDOME”)
AIRED ON USA NETWORK
Announcers: Tom Phillips, Byron Saxton, Samoa Joe
-They showed a brief clip of Drew McIntyre winning the WWE Title from Randy Orton last week.
-They aired the Raw opening theme. Phillips introduced the show and talked about the “terrific” Survivor Series event.
-In the ring, the men’s version of Team Raw were standing – A.J. Styles (w/Almas), Braun Strowman, Riddle, Sheamus, and Keith Lee. Adam Pearce stood among them and talked about Survivor Series. He touted the performance of Team Raw’s “clean sweep.” He said performances like that deserves rewards. He said one of them will be next in line to face McIntyre for the WWE Title. He said he wanted to hear from each of them as they make their case. He threw to Styles first, saying he was team captain.
Sheamus interrupted and said Styles wasn’t his captain. He said he wanted to congratulate for his win last week. He called himself the Most Valuable Player last night. Styles said they know Drew is his buddy, so he’s going to try to use the “good ol’ boy system” to get a title shot. Styles said if there is a Most Valuable Player, it’s him.
Lee said he saved Styles and pinned the other team’s actual captain to secure their victory, so it’s obvious he’s worthy of the title opportunity. Styles said he wasn’t done talking yet. Riddle jumped in and said he beat King Corbin last week, and he wondered if that makes him King Bro. He said he’d like to face Drew, which would mean he could have a dope sword to go with his dope crown. Sheamus said he’s a real dope. Riddle called him “Fireface.” Riddle said when he wins the sword and the crown and the title, he’ll let his teammates hold them. Sheamus blew up and said, “Don’t call me Fireface!” Riddle said “Fireface” wasn’t his first choice, but “Fire Crotch” was already taken.
Pearce asked Braun to make his case. Braun took offense to Pearce saying “last but not least.” Pearce said it’s just an expression. Braun grabbed him by his lapels and headbutted him. Riddle stepped up and told him to calm down. They cut to a break as Braun sprayed everyone with droplets he shouted at them.
(Keller’s Analysis: I hope that was meant to be essentially a heel turn for Braun. I expected Styles to be more full of himself. The Riddle-Sheamus banter is juvenile, although Vince McMahon sees that as a feature, not a flaw. I’m glad they gave some meaning to Team Raw winning. One of the complaints about the Survivor Series elimination matches is they have no stakes. That was addressed here to some degree, with Pearce saying one of them will get a title shot as a result. Why not build that into the hype for the actual match before the PPV?) [c]
-They went to the announcers to recap what just happened. Saxton called it one of the most heinous acts he’s ever seen. He said Pearce had to be carried out of the ring. Phillips said up next would be a tag team title defense by New Day against Hurt Business.
-A clip aired from earlier of Hurt Business approaching New Day backstage. MVP said they embarrassed the Raw brand by losing to the Street Profits last week. Shelton Benjamin said the titles deserve prestige. Xavier reminded them they had a title shot last week and lost. Cedric said when New Day were busy cosplaying and playing videogames, he was sitting on the sidelines, and he doesn’t like being on the sidelines. Cedric said they want another match so the spotlight goes where it belongs. Xavier said if he wants a championship match, he’s got it. Hurt Business smiled and walked away. Kofi Kingston said it was supposed to be a night off for them. Xavier said they can’t let them talk to them like that. Kofi said he’s right, so let’s fight then.
-They went to the announcers who commented on that.
(1) NEW DAY (Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods) vs. THE HURT BUSINESS (Shelton Benjamin & Cedric Alexander w/MVP) – WWE Raw Tag Team Titles
Hurt Business controlled the action early. A couple minutes in, Shelton knocked Xavier down in the ring and then knocked Kofi off the ring apron with a high knee. They cut to a break. [c]
Back from the break, Kofi got the hot-tag and went after Shelton in the ring and Cedric on the ring apron. He landed a Boom Drop. He went for a Trouble in Paradise, but Shelton ducked. Shelton then set up a superplex, but Kofi headbutted out of it. As the ref checked on Shelton, Cedric shoved Kofi off the second rope to ringside. Xavier went to check on Kofi, but Shelton then went after Kofi on the floor. Shelton threw Kofi into the ring, but then he was counted out. The ring announcer said Hurt Business won by countout, but Hurt Business complained. MVP goaded New Day into agreeing to restart the match. [c]
(An NXT commercial said this Wednesday, one member of Undisputed Era would face one member of Pat McAfee & Co. to ear the advantage in War Games. Plus, Candice LeRae vs. Ember Moon.)
Back to the ring, the match restarted with Kofi taking it to Shelton. Shelton knocked Kofi to the floor again. Kofi held his left knee. (Kofi wanted it to be an off-night; remember that.) They replayed Kofi’s landing, which looked normal and fine, but the announcers reacted like it snapped in half on impact. I mean, he came down from a high backdrop, but it looked like a nice solid landing. Cedric focused on Kofi’s leg afterward. Cedric put Kofi in an Indian Death Lock. Joe said, “It’s a hold rarely seen.” A graphic in the corner of the screen said they’d say “thank you” to Undertaker later (not to be confused with “a final farewell.”) Saxton said the tag team titles seem to be slipping away from New Day. Kofi eventually got to his corner, but Shelton yanked Xavier off the ring apron from behind before the tag. Kofi still managed an S.O.S. on Shelton for a near fall afterward.
Cedric tagged in and went after Kofi’s leg again. Cedric went back to a leglock. Kofi eventually hot-tagged Xavier, who took it to Cedric and an interfering Shelton. Xavier dove onto Shelton at ringside, then went back after Cedric in the ring with a press-and-drop for a two count (Cedric leaped into the air before Xavier even began lifting him, which looked bad).) Cedric gave Xavier a DDT, then tagged in Shelton. Shelton gave Xavier an Olympic Slam, but Kofi broke up the subsequent cover. Kofi flipped over the top rope onto Cedric. Xavier then landed a sunset bomb on Shelton for the win. The announcers emphasized that Hurt Business have now come up short three times.
WINNERS: New Day in 22:00 to retain the Raw Tag Team Titles.
(Keller’s Analysis: Good match. The weird countout and re-start seemed like we were back to the short era where they didn’t want to interrupt matches with commercials so they found creative ways to “reset and restart” matches.)
-Charly Caruso checked with Pearce backstage. He said the doctor says he needs to take it easy for a week and he hopes to get rid of his splitting headache. He said if it were his call, he’d fire Braun Strowman and they’d never see him again, but he did send him out of the arena tonight. She asked what his decision was going to be before Braun attacked him. Bobby Lashley walked up to Pearce and said he’d never do to him what Braun did. He told him he is the only Raw champion who came out of Survivor Series with a win. He wanted to talk with him. Pearce politely excused himself from talking with Charly. He thanked her, then turned to Lashley as they cut to a break. [c]
-The announcers thanked NF for “The Search,” the official Monday Night Raw theme song.
-Backstage, Pearce was still selling a headache when Caruso walked up to him to ask about the discussion with Lashley. Pearce said Lashley made a compelling case that he should consider. Randy Orton walked up to him and gave him a look.
-They went to the announcers at ringside. Joe said Pearce is having a busy night tonight. They replayed the headbutt. Saxton said Braun should be ashamed of himself. Phillips noted Pearce wanted to fire Strowman.
(Keller’s Analysis: I like that they’re making a big deal out of a wrestler attacking an official. The reason Braun did it – because he’s too dim-witted to understand what ‘last but not least’ means – is quite an indictment against Braun. He’s got to be a heel after that.)
-The announcers recapped Lana being the sole survivor for Team Raw last night.
-Backstage, Sarah Schreiber interviewed Lana about going from being slammed through the announce table to being the sole survivor. Lana said it’s amazing and the best night of her career. Schreiber asked if she’ll get a title match against Asuka perhaps. Lana said she just wants to enjoy this moment, and if it’s a dream, don’t wake her up.
-Caruso approached Pearce again. He said wrestlers have made their case, but talking won’t do it. He said they will have three singles matches, and then next week the three winners will face off to earn a title match against “Drew McInFart… Drew McIntyre for the WWE Championship.” He said the first match is next.
(2) RIDDLE vs. SHEAMUS – Qualifier for Next Week’s No. 1 Contendership Triple Threat match
After some heated verbal exchanges, they engaged in back and forth mat work for several minutes.
Phillips reset the stakes at the top of the hour as Sheamus clotheslined Riddle over the top rope to the floor. He went after him at ringside, but Riddle kneed him and then gave him an Exploder Suplex. He threw Sheamus back into the ring, then beat the count himself. He hit a running Bro-ton for a two count. Sheamus battered Riddle with forearms to the chest. Riddle came back and landed a barrage of roundkicks to Sheamus’s chest. The ref backed Riddle away, but Riddle pushed past him and punched him in the jaw. Sheamus came back with a sidewalk slam as they cut to a break. [c]
Back from the break, they were exchanging strikes mid-ring. Sheamus landed a knee strike for a near fall. Riddle dove onto Sheamus at ringside, then leaped off the top rope. Sheamus caught him and poweslammed him for a near fall. The screen corner graphic hyped Keith Lee vs. Bobby Lashley and Orton vs. A.J. Styles was coming up later. Sheamus dominated for several minutes. Riddle leaped off the apron and snapped Sheamus’s neck over the top rope. Sheamus put Riddle in a heel hook mid-ring seconds later. Riddle tried to punch his way out of it. That didn’t work, but he did kick his way out of it. Both were slow to get up.
Sheamus avoided a PK, but Riddle hit a Final Flash knee to Sheamus’s chin instead for a near fall. Riddle leaped off the top rope, but Sheamus met him up there and knocked him off balance. Sheamus then gave Riddle a White Noise for a believable near fall. Sheamus waited for Riddle to stand. When Sheamus went for a Brogue Kick, Riddle collapsed. “No Brogue Kick needed,” said Joe. Sheamus lifted Riddle, but Riddle headbutted him. He then threw some kicks, but Sheamus ducked and lifted Riddle onto his shoulders. Sheamus rolled into a cloverleaf mid-ring. Riddle twisted out of it and rolled up Sheamus for the 1-2-3.
WINNER: Riddle in 21:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: One of the matches I listed on the Wade Keller Pro Wrestling Podcast I was most looking forward to for Riddle when he was called up to the main roster was Sheamus. This match is why. I was thinking Sheamus would win since he’s been interacting with Drew a lot, but they’re going to draw that relationship out longer, which is fine.)
-Asuka ran up to Lana excitedly. She said she likes challenges and she will se her in the ring. She told her tonight she might go home the Raw Women’s Champion. Nobody was more excited for Lana’s possible win than Asuka. Lana went from nervous to entertaining the thought of becoming champion and so she broke into a smile.
-They teased the Firefly Funhouse including an image of a picture of Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross, with Nikki crossed out with red ink.
-A Smackdown commercial asked what is next for the Bloodline. [c]
-The announcers talked about the Asuka vs. Lana match for the Raw Title later.
-Firefly Funhouse: Bray Wyatt and Alexa Bliss welcomed everyone. They said they were going to talk about something “truly evil, vile, disgusting, repulsive even – friendship.” Bray said friends will always let you down. He said one day they’re playing with you and the next day they’re burning down your house. They introduced a frog who said Bliss cannot let her dear friend like Nikki just hop away. Bray made a weird face. Abby asked, “Who the @#$% are you?” He said, “Why, I’m the Friendship Frog, of course.” He said friendship lasts forever. Bray asked Bliss to show everyone what she plans to do to Cross later. Bliss’s eyes changed colors. The frog said she doesn’t seem very friendly. Bliss bashed the frog with their scepter. Bray said that was enough, then asked for a brief moment of silence. They showed a photo collage of the frog’s life including his life as a tad pole, playing little league baseball, and saying “Always eat what bugs you.” They screen said he lived from 1980-2000. Bliss and Bray were both sad. Bray said, “It’s a shame he croaked.” They broke into laughter.
(Keller’s Analysis: That was fun. I mean, the violence against the frog, even in this surreal and pretend setting, felt pretty heavy! But the montage of the frog’s life was great.)
-Asuka made her ring entrance. Phillips asked if lightning could strike twice for Lana. [c]
(3) ASUKA vs. LANA – Raw Women’s Championship match
Asuka was still dancing after the break. Lana then made her entrance. Joe said Lana is a dangerous competitor because she finds way to win despite coming up short in terms of her ability. Before the bell, but after formal ring introductions, Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler walked to the announce table. Lana scored an early one count. Baszler said she’s deserving of the next title shot. Phillips asked Jax, who shot him a look and said, “I’m not in the mood.” Asuka slid to ringside to go after Lana. Jax and Baszler taunted her. She splashed bottled water at them. They attacked Asuka. The ref DQ’d Lana (which, of course, is stupid because Lana shouldn’t be punished over something Jax and Baszler did).
WINNER: Asuka via DQ in 1:00.
-When Jax was about to slam Asuka through the announce desk, Lana pulled her to safety. As they began to retreat, Jax and Baszler challenged them to a tag team match. [c]
(4) LANA & ASUKA vs. SHAYNA BASZLER & NIA JAX
Joe said tonight has been a night of impromptu surprises. Phillips said to tell that to Pearce. Jax and Baszler grounded and beat on Lana for several minutes. Saxton said they’re trying to break her spirit, but she keeps on fighting. Lana eventually hot-tagged Asuka who went to work on Baszler and also knocked Jax off the ring apron. Asuka gave Baszler double-knees to the face, a hip attack in the corner, an elbow, a back suplex, and a Shining Wizard for a near fall. Baszler caught her leg and kneed her, getting a two count. Jax yanked Lana off the ring apron and headbutted her at ringside. She then cleared the announce table. Jax charged at Lana, but Lana ducked, so Jax crashed into and over the table. Baszler then put Lana in a sleeper from behind. Asuka rolled up Baszler from behind and got a three count. Lana and Asuka returned to the stage. Lana told Asuka she loves her.
WINNERS: Asuka & Lana in 7:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: There’s still time to keep the streak alive, but it’s not looking good.)
-Riddle walked up to MVP and asked, “What’s up dude? How’s it hanging?” He said he wanted to wish Big Bobby luck. Riddle said it’ll be a fight for the ages. He told MVP he has a million investment ideas. He said people love pizza and yogurt, so how about yogurt-flavored pizza. He said if you add protein to yogurt and you get Bro-gurt. “I can keep going on for days!” he said enthusiastically. MVP asked if he thinks Lashley has time for that. Riddle said he’s sure he does. MVP said he’s not his bro. He told him to get all his best ideas together and pitch them to him. “Like ‘Shark Tank,'” Riddle said. MVP said if they like his ideas, they’ll do business, but if not, they’ll do a different kind of business. [c]
-They went to the announcers on camera who threw to a recap of the McIntyre vs. Roman Reigns match last night at Survivor Series.
-Keith Lee made his ring entrance. Saxton said he’s so intrigued because this is the first time Lee has faced Lashley one-on-one. Lashley then made his ring entrance alongside MVP.
(5) KEITH LEE vs. BOBBY LASHLEY (w/MVP) – Qualifier for Next Week’s No. 1 Contendership Triple Threat match
Lashley controlled early with a standing side headlock. Lashley clotheslined Lee’s chest, but Lee no-sold it and went after Lashley. Lashley gave him a flatliner and scored a two count. Lashley stood and called for Lee to get up. He went for a Hurt Lock, but Lee escaped and shoulder checked Lashley to the mat. Lee then clotheslined Lashley over the top rope. He smiled and then went for a running dive, but MVP grabbed at his legs. The ref yelled at MVP. Lee went after him at ringside. MVP backed away. Lashley caught Lee with a running clothesline. He shoved him hard into the barricade, then rolled into the ring to beat the count. Lashley then lifted Lee onto his shoulders and rammed Lee ribs-first into the ringpost. [c]
Lashley controlled the action after the break with an armbar. Lee fired back with a forearm to the jaw. Lashley leapfrogged a running Lee, then suplexed him. Lashley celebrated the feat of strength. He then set up a Hurt Lock from behind Lee as he began to stand. Lashley was bleeding from the temple. Lee blocked it. Lee leapfrogged a charging Lashley, who went head-first into the middle turnbuckle. The announcers marveled at Lee’s uncanny athleticism and agility for his size. Lee knocked Lashley out of the ring to the floor after a collision. Lee then charged with a running crossbody onto Lashley on the floor. He threw Lashley into the ring. MVP shoved Lee into the ringpost. Lee rolled into the ring, but looked groggy. Lashley put Lee in the Hurt Lock, although his arms couldn’t quite interlock. Lee powered Lashley’s arms down. Lashley leaped onto Lee’s back and switched to a sleeper. Lee leaped backwards and landed hard onto Lashley on the mat. MVP attacked Lee. The ref called for the bell. Phillips said MVP just cost Lashley his opportunity. Saxton said that isn’t how Lee would want to win this match, but he moves on nonetheless.
WINNER: Lee via DQ in 13:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: I was curious if they would give a real finish here. I thought they’d count Lee out after MVP shoved him into the ringpost. But if they wanted Lee to advance, having MVP run in when Lashley was in trouble was one route, but a pretty cheap route.)
-They went to the announcers who pivoted to hyping Cross vs. Bliss. A video package aired on Bliss-Nikki.
-Backstage, Schreiber approached Cross. She said she didn’t give up on Alexa, Alexa gave up on them. She said the last few months she has been trying to help her and get her to see she has been manipulated and controlled. She said she made it clear last week she doesn’t want her as a friend, and she’d rather be with The Fiend. “Message received,” she said. “Alexa and The Fiend can have each other, okay. I don’t care.” She said she’s tired of worrying about her and her friendship. She said tonight she’s going to beat the Fiend out of Alexa Bliss.
-Cross made her ring entrance. [c]
-The announcers hyped Raw Talk would feature Lana, Keith Lee, and Riddle.
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(6) ALEXA BLISS vs. NIKKI CROSS
Nikki yelled, “What is wrong with you?” Alexa just looked at her in a creepy way. She pretended to play a childhood game with her early before taking her down with a drop toe hold. She rolled to ringside and smiled. Joe said Alexa is toying with Nikki. Nikki took Bliss down with a clothesline at ringside. Nikki threw her back into the ring and kicked away at her in the corner. Bliss ended up having a meltdown and began crying. The ref asked if she was okay. She looked down at her “Help/Hurt” gloves and sobbed for help from Nikki. Nikki put her hand on her shoulder and looked hopeful that she had her friend back. Bliss stood and said she was so sorry. She hugged Nikki, but then gave her a Sister Abigail type faceplant and scored a three count while posing with a creepy smile. Phillips said it was a ploy by Bliss to get Nikki to let her guard down.
WINNER: Bliss in 4:00. [c]
-The announcers threw to a video package on Undertaker’s “Final Farewell” with Metallica playing. They had soundbites from various wrestlers including Steve Austin who said Taker rode a lightning bolt for 30 years and had one of the greatest careers. Shane McMahon said he’s earned respect from everyone.
-Orton made his ring entrance. Joe said Orton is a former champion and he should have been first in line to get a rematch. Saxton said he has to earn the opportunity. Joe said Orton is livid and he should be. [c]
(7) A.J. STYLES vs. RANDY ORTON – Qualifier for Next Week’s No. 1 Contendership Triple Threat match
Orton took control early including dropping Styles with an uppercut. Styles popped Orton in the throat to take over a couple minutes in. Styles hit Orton with a high dropkick for a near fall. Orton shoved Styles into Almas at ringside. Almas lifted Styles onto the ring apron. Styles gave Orton a running knee off the ring apron. He then dropped him onto the announce table. [c]
Styles blocked a superplex and then gave Orton a chop block to his knee. Orton was down and clutching his knee. Styles put Orton in an anklelock. He torqued the knee. Orton pounded Styles’s chest to break free.
Orton eventually hit a powerslam for a two count. When he went for an RKO, Styles blocked it. Styles gave Orton an enzuigiri to the back of his head. Orton went down and rolled to the floor. Orton swept Styles head-first into the ring apron. The Fiend’s music suddenly played. Orton looked around nervously. The Fiend popped up behind him. Orton looked for him, but he was gone. Orton re-entered the ring. Styles caught him charging with a kick, but Orton blocked a Phenomenal Forearm and hit a draping DDT. As he set up an RKO, The Fiend effects began taking over ThunderDome again. Orton looked nervous. The Fiend showed up behind him. Orton leaped backwards. The lights went off and then back on. Styles then hit the Phenomenal Forearm for the win.
WINNER: Styles in 12:00 to advance.