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KELLER’S WWE RAW REPORT
NOVEMBER 30, 2020
ORLANDO, FLA. AT AMWAY CENTER (“THUNDERDOME”)
AIRED ON USA NETWORK
Announcers: Tom Phillips, Byron Saxton, Samoa Joe
-The Raw opening theme played. Then Tom Phillips introduced the show and touted the ThunderDome. He hyped that Drew McIntyre would be there tonight. He really conveyed atone that it’s a big deal he’d be there. Byron Saxton hyped that McIntyre would team with Sheamus against Miz & John Morrison. Samoa Joe hyped the Riddle vs. Keith Lee vs. A.J. Styles “Sudden Death Triple Threat match.”
-A Moment of Bliss: Alexa Bliss was in her cheerful mode as she sat cross-legged on a chair and excitedly introduced Randy Orton. She claimed he’s her favorite Superstar. Phillips wondered why Orton is returning to “A Moment of Bliss.” Joe said Orton needs to confront these situations since there’s no playing defense. Saxton said Orton is tired of the mind-games that The Fiend and Bliss are playing so being part of this unpredictable segment is his way of taking it on on his terms. Joe said Fiend and Orton will do whatever it takes to best each other. Orton slowly made his way into the ring.
“Well, somebody’s in a foul mood,” Bliss said, noticing Orton’s disposition. She threw to clips of Orton-Fiend interaction last week. Bliss asked Orton if he’s ever asked himself why Fiend would do that to him. Orton said he’s known Bray Wyatt for a long time and he knows him very, very well. He said he hasn’t been formally introduced to The Fiend. Bliss said Fiend is actually one of her best friends. Orton said he and The Fiend have a lot in common, but the main difference is all of his pain and suffering he wears on his exterior for everybody to see. He said he keeps his pain and suffering tucked away deep down in his gut “so I can blend in.” He said he hears voices, and Fiend also hears voices. He said, “The voices The Fiend hear are mine.”
Bliss said that’s not what Fiend tells her. Orton said he had to find out what Wyatt’s vulnerability was years ago, and he burned it to the ground. He said now he knows what he needs to do – he needs to find The Fiend’s vulnerability. He leaned in and looked at her and said, “It looks like I have, don’t you think?” Bliss didn’t flinch or break her smile. Her grin got wider. “Is that what the voices in your head are telling you, Randy? Is that what you hear? Or are they telling you lies?” she said. She stood and walked up to Orton and said, “I’ll ask you this right now: Who’s manipulating who?” The Fiend noises began. Orton said, “See what I mean?” Bliss got sinister and said, “See what I mean?” The lights then went completely dark. When they came back on, Orton had Bliss in his arms while Fiend was crouched down in the ring eying Orton. He slowly walked toward Orton and extended his arms and asked for Bliss. Orton handed her off and then slipped quickly out of the ring. He shouted from ringside, “Who’s laughing now?!”
(Keller’s Analysis: A lot of spectacle and mind games, but I’m still not sure how a crowd would be reacting. Fiend showing some semblance of vulnerability there is noteworthy in the existence of his character. Bliss and Orton were fun to watch play off of each other. I think fans are intrigued by the spectacle, but not particularly invested in a certain match outcome or anything. It’s hard to put a finger on what WWE is going for and what the end game is.)
-They went to the announcers at ringside. Joe looked spooked and said, “There’s a time when you’re playing games and the games stop, and I think we’ve reached that point?” They pivoted to recapping the Elias-Jeff Hardy feud. They showed various musical instruments on the stage as Phillips explained they can be used as weapons. He said it’s their final battle. [c]
-Saxton again excitedly hyped that McIntyre would join them live tonight. Phillips plugged his tag match.
(1) JEFF HARDY vs. ELIAS – Symphony of Destruction
When Hardy flew at Elias at ringside a minute into their battle, swinging a violin, Elias knocked him out of mid-air with a flying knee and then dropped him face-first over the edge of the ring. Elias threw Hardy into the Shinsuke Nakamura Memorial Grand Piano, as Phillips called it. Elias noticed the lid moving, and then out popped R-Truth. He had his 24/7 Title belt with him, and he ran away. Tozawa, Gran Metalik, and Erik from the Viking Raiders charged out after him. Elias gave Metalik the laziest looking clothesline you’ll ever seen. Lince Dorado came out and yelled at Metalik. Elias hit him with a guitar. Hardy hit Gulak with a guitar. Hardy and Elias eyed each other as they cut to a break. [c]
After the break, Elias stuck three guitar picks in his knuckle area and punched Hardy in the forehead twice. “You might see he’s picking Hardy’s mind right now!” Joe said. Phillips replied, “Oh, you’ve got jokes.” Elias grinded the picks into Hardy’s face as he writhed in pain. Elias knocked Hardy out of mid-air with a guitar shot and scored a two count. Hardy rolled to the floor and held his tailbone. Elias walked over to Hardy with the neck of a guitar and said, “You want to end my career?!” He jabbed at Hardy with the guitar, but Hardy moved out the way. The guitar neck got stuck in a speaker that sparked. Elias acted electrocuted, although it appeared to be a pure wooden guitar arm. Phillips compared it to “Home Alone.” Hardy hit him with a giant bass. Then he bashed him into the ringside steps and put him on a table. He put a variety of smaller string instruments on Elias’s chest and then leaped off the top of the ringpost with a Swanton. The back of Hardy’s head landed on the bottom step, but he was fine. He covered Elias and scored the three count. The ref checked on Hardy, who said he was okay. He celebrated with a tambourine.
WINNER: Hardy in 13:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: This was exactly what you’d have envisioned. Violent, but not really violent. Hokey, but not in an entertaining way. Elias was lousy, and that clothesline on Metalik was something else. Hardy went through the motions on his signature spots.)
-Backstage Riddle asked Keith Lee how excited he is for their match tonight. Riddle said he’s nervous and yarked up his breakfast earlier today. He said he’s never faced McIntyre one-on-one. He said Lee had his chance earlier this year. He imitated Drew calling himself “dead sexy” in an Austin Powers accent, but Lee left as he did it.
(Keller’s Analysis: Riddle just fast-talked through that like it was the best of seven takes, none of which he was particularly “feeling.” Riddle is so much less than he could have been because he’s leaning way too hard into the one-dimensional cartoonish stoner act.) [c]
-Mustafa Ali, flanked by Retribution members, asked Ricochet why he can’t see what he sees, that he’s been pushing the same boulder up the same mountain, only to be knocked back down to the ground. He said the same thing happened to Retribution. They’ve been lied to, wronged, and disrespected, with lies becoming nightmares. “Why can’t you see you are supposed to be standing next to us?” Slapjack then spoke about how everyone saw him as a joke, and when the rest of the world rejected him, Ali saw him as a weapon for Retribution. Ali said Slapjack will make him pay for rejecting them, and afterward, maybe Ricochet will see what he sees.
-A soundbite aired with Ricochet saying he thought he could save Ali, but now he realizes he just has to be better than him in and out of the ring. He said that will prove to Ali he’s going about this the wrong way. “That starts with me kicking you in the head,” he said.
(Keller’s Analysis: That was posted on Twitter days ago. It was one of Ricochet’s better promos in WWE.)
(2) RICOCHET vs. SLAPJACK (w/Mustafa Ali)
When Ricochet climbed to the second rope, he turned and eyed Ali. That created an opening for Slapjack to knock him down and go on the offense. Joe said Retribution are offering Ricochet asylum. Ricochet made a comeback and landed a standing shooting star press for a two count. Ali saw enough and called for help from the back. T-Bar and Mace ran to the ring. Ricochet threw Slapjack into their arms, then did a running flip dive onto all three on the floor. Dana Brooke came up behind Ali and turned him around and slapped him. Slapjack rolled up a distracted Ricochet from behind. Ricochet kicked out and then fended off T-Bar and Mace. He took a swing at Ali, but Slapjack then caught Ricochet with his finisher for the win. Ali bent over Ricochet and had some words for him afterward.
WINNER: Slapjack in 4:00.
-A clip aired of Drew McIntyre beating Brock Lesnar for the WWE Title at WrestleMania earlier in the year, a rare reminder of the pre-ThunderDome wrestling set-up for WWE. Saxton again excitedly hyped Drew’s interview later. [c]
-Miz TV: Miz and John Morrison entered the ring. Miz plugged his reality TV show, then said he’s the Face of USA Network. He said he pulled some strings to secure an interview with one of their opponents later. Morrison said Sheamus is big, Irish, loves fighting, and hates tanning. Miz introduced Sheamus, who walked out more dressed up than usual with an Irish hat, a long robe, long pants, a white t-shirt, and suspenders. Sheamus didn’t look thrilled to be there. They asked about his Thanksgiving dinner. Morrison asked if he ate turkey or goes right for the sides. Sheamus told them to get to it. Sheamus said he has a match to prepare for and he feels they are wasting his time with wise cracks. Miz said they want to talk to him about his partner later, Drew. Miz said two weeks ago he made one of the most heartfelt gestures for Drew, but he got nothing in return. Morrison said he got shafted in that deal. Miz said Drew is a disrespectful friend. Morrison suggested Drew knew Sheamus would be jealous of the fact that he is the WWE Champion.
Sheamus said when he gives a friend a gift, he doesn’t expect anything in return. He said they’re like brothers and they go way back. Miz and Morrison mocked him and said they should save the sappy stuff. Miz said Drew has something he wants – the WWE Title. Morrison said a true friend would have offered him a title shot. Miz said when he cashes in MITB, he’ll give Sheamus a title shot. Miz suggested Sheamus cash in years of repressed resentment by taking out Drew later, and then he’ll cash in his “Money in the Brank (sic) contract.” Sheamus broke into laughter. He said Miz has his moments and has a good sense of humor. “How does it feel to be an afterthought?” Miz asked. “When was the last time you even tasted a WWE Championship? Five years ago for two months.” He said if Sheamus wants to laugh about something, he should laugh at his career because it’s a joke.
Sheamus stood and took off his jacket and got serious. He told Miz he likes to run his mouth and talk about what he will do, but he likes to use his hands. He gave Morriosn a backfist and then punched Miz and threw him out of the ring. Morrison leaped onto Sheamus, but Sheamus battered him. Miz hit Sheamus from behind with a briefcase.
-They went to the announcers at ringside. Joe said, “The seeds of doubt are most effective when they’re planted in truth.” Phillips said Asuka is in action next. He threw to a video package of what happened last week with Asuka beating Shayna Baszler with Nia Jax and Lana getting involved at ringside.
-Backstage Asuka gave Lana a pep-talk. Lana was amped up and receptive. Asuka headed to the ring. Sarah Schreiber walked up to Lana and asked about their strategy that they just discussed. Lana said she wouldn’t understand, but Shayna and Nia are about to. They showed Asuka making her ring entrance. [c]
-Lana’s ring entrance took place after the break.
-Schreiber interviewed Jax and Baszler, who looked grumpy. She asked how confident they are they will win this week. Jax said last week was a fluke. Baszler disagreed. She said she did her part, while Jax failed to put Lana through a table. Jax said Baszler is the one who got pinned. Baszler told Schreiber that they’ve been at each other’s throats all week. She said losing to Asuka is one thing, but they can’t lose to Lana.
(3) LANA & ASUKA vs. NIA JAX & SHAYNA BASZLER
As Jax and Baszler walked out, Phillips asked Joe how it was a fluke last week. Joe made his case, and said it was ridiculous. He said the tag champs deserve a chance to right that wrong. After some “surprising” offense by Lana against Baszler, Jax and Baszler took control. They swung Lana and Asuka by their legs into the ringside barricade over and over as they cut to an early break. [c]
Jax overpowered Lana after the break, and dished out angry punishment. Saxton said Jax is disgusted with Lana to the point that it’s “almost uncomfortable.” Lana slipped out of Jax’s hands at ringside and shoved her hard into the ringpost. She tagged in Asuka just as Baszler tagged in. Asuka took it to both Baszler and Jax. Asuka landed a hip attack on Baszler for a two count. Lana leaped off the top rope onto Baszler a minute later, but Baszler rolled through. Asuka broke up the Kirafuda Clutch with a running knee to the side of Baszler’s head. Lana made the cover and scored the three count. “It happened again!” said Saxton. “Miracles do happen!” Joe said he was told lighting doesn’t strike twice, but apparently it does. Jax and Baszler threw a fit in the ring. Phillips said Lana “high-tailed it out” with Asuka.
WINNERS: Lana & Asuka in 9:00.
-Drew walked up to Sheamus, who was wincing in pain. Sheamus took exception to the smile on Drew’s face. Drew said it was kind of funny. He said Miz was right, that was some quality television. Sheamus conceded it was kind of entertaining. He sarcastically thanked Drew for saving him. He said he’d do the same for him. Drew said that’s why they’ve always gotten along so well. Sheamus said that was just an appetizer, but tonight is the main course.
-The New Day’s Xavier Woods and Kofi Kingston made their ring entrance. [c]
-Before the match, Kofi talked about being thankful “because our very own Xavier Woods a/k/a Austin Creed, has just been named as the newest host in the revival of the greatest video game network of all time, I’m talking G4 bay-bee!” Xavier said becoming a sports entertainer was a big deal, but video games are his happy place so he thanked everyone who has ever been in an “Up Up Down Down” video. He snuck in a plug for uuddshop.com and winked as he said it. Kofi said Xavier is going to give everyone a rundown of the Hurt Business and their inability to take the tag titles from them. Kofi said they’ve failed three times. They commented over replays of their wins over Hurt Business, which were framed as dreams.
MVP walked out and said they are actually 2-2 because the referee raised their hands when New Day were counted out. “I think we’re actually tied up,” he said. He said the next time they put the tag team titles on the line, their current title reign will seem like a distant reign. Shelton Benjamin said they’re not just going to take their titles, they’re going to hurt them. Cedric jumped into the ring and said it was dumb luck that allowed them beat Shelton last week, so he’s about to show him that he’s not Shelton. He said he’s going to show him “what the Hurt in Hurt Business stood for.” Xavier said he figured it stood for “Hurt.” Shelton attacked Xavier before the bell. [c]
(4) CEDRIC ALEXANDER (w/Shelton Benjamin, MVP) vs. XAVIER WOODS (w/Kofi Kingston)
The match was in progress after the break. Xavier went aggressively after Cedric. Cedric took over and grinded his elbow into Xavier’s ribs. More back and forth good action for several minutes. Phillips said Shelton needs this win to build a case that Hurt Business deserve another title shot. Cedric knocked Xavier to the floor, then dove through the ropes at him, but Xavier side-stepped him and threw him hard into the barricade. They both rolled back into the ring. Cedric surprised Xavier with a Lumbar Check for the win.
WINNER: Cedric in 6:00.
-The announcers commented on last week’s A.J. Styles win over Orton to earn his way into the triple threat match tonight.
-Backstage Styles was chatting with Omos when Riddle walked up to them. Styles said tonight’s match is serious. Riddle said Styles won the WWE Title, lost it, and hasn’t been able to win it back since. Riddle said Styles reminds him of his bunny Skipper. He told a joke about “carrots” and Omos laughed. Styles didn’t like that. Styles said he shouldn’t have named a bunny “Skipper” because they hop. Riddle said he named his turtle “Hoppy” already. He told Styles he reminds him of Skipper because he’s got great jumping ability, he’s furry, and he’s super-cute. Styles shoved him and said he’s not funny. Riddle was all smiles. Styles and Omos left.
-Saxton said there’s a method to the madness of Riddle.
-Lee made his ring entrance first. [c]
-They showed some notes on the screen about McIntyre winning the NXT Title in 2017 and then winning the Royal Rumble earlier this year and then beating Brock Lesnar for the WWE Title at WrestleMania.
-A clip aired of Orton on “A Moment of Bliss” earlier in the night.
(5) KEITH LEE vs. A.J. STYLES (w/Omos) vs. RIDDLE – Sudden Death Triple Threat match
A minute in, Lee shoved both Riddle and Styles into the ropes, then leapfrogged both of them. He then bodypressed Riddle to the mat for a two count. Saxton said Lee moves like a cruiserweight. Riddle dove over the top rope onto Styles and Lee at ringside as they cut to a break. [c]
After the break, Riddle blocked a Spirit Bomb and went for an armbar. When Styles entered, Lee swung Riddle into Styles to knock him down. Riddle then tried again to straighten Lee’s arm while hanging from him. Lee held on. Riddle broke free and charged at Styles and Lee in opposite corners with running elbows. Lee eventually landed a Pounce on Riddle. Styles recovered and rallied against Lee a minute later.
Lee mounted Styles in the corner, but Riddle broke that up and went for a powerbomb of Lee out of the corner. Lee slipped free when Riddle’s back gave out. Lee tossed Riddle down. Styles leaped onto Lee for a cover. Lee flung Styles off of him and he landed on Riddle for a two count. Styles set up a Styles Clash, but Lee broke it up. Riddle kicked at Styles, but Styles ducked so he kicked Lee. Riddle gave Styles a German suplex for a two count. Lee came up behind Riddle, but Riddle escaped. Lee and Riddle exchanged blows mid-ring. Riddle connected with a Final Flash knee. Lee went down. Styles caught Riddle with a surprise Phenomenal Forearm for the three count. Omos congratulated Styles after the match.
WINNER: Styles in 13:00 to advance to face McIntyre at TLC for the WWE Title.
-Charly Caruso interviewed Miz and Morrison backstage. She threw to a clip of Miz hitting Sheamus with the MITB briefcase earlier. Caruso said it appears their plot to cause a rift between McIntyre and Sheamus backfired. She asked if they’ve reconfigured their strategy. They rambled. Caruso said they’re stating random facts and not presenting an actual plan. Miz went from delighted with himself to looking concerned. He and Morrison exited the scene.
-Brooke made her ring entrance, flexing her biceps the whole way. They showed Reckoning hitting Dana earlier in the month, then Dana hitting Ali earlier in the night. [c]
-A soundbite aired with Reckoning and Ali. Reckoning said when they have a problem, they annihilate them. She said Dana will face her reckoning.
(6) DANA BROOKE vs. RECKONING
A few minutes in, Brooke landed a handspring elbow in the corner. Ali stood on the ring apron to distract Dana. She took a swing at Ali. Reckoning tried to kick her, but she moved out of the way and rolled up Reckoning for the win. Ali chewed out Reckoning for embarrassing him. “There is no failure in Retribution! Do you hear me?!” Ali shouted. Reckoning soaked up her loss.
WINNER: Brooke in 3:00.
-Miz and Morrison congratulated Styles for his win. Morrison presented Styles with a peach pie. Styles said he knows what they’re up to. He said he would help them. Miz expressed surprise that he’s so willing to help them. He asked why. Style said it’d be so much easier to beat Miz than McIntyre at TLC. Morrison agreed. Styles told Morrison to leave the peach pie. Morrison handed it to Styles, who inhaled. Omos said that’s not a pie, that’s a cupcake. [c]
-They said Sheamus, Ricochet, and Dana would be on Raw Talk.
-MVP approached Riddle backstage and asked what happened out there. He said his chance at a WWE Title shot suffered a sudden death. Riddle said losing sucks, but at least he had a chance unlike Bobby Lashley, whom MVP cost a match. Riddle said people hate weeding. He pitched Bro-nuts. MVP said his ideas are dumb and he’s ridiculous and he’s glad he lost. Riddle reaction was classic. MVP shoved Riddle’s face. Riddle got up in MVP’s face. Lashley attacked Riddle with a Hurt Lock and left him lying on the floor.
-Sheamus was pacing backstage when Lee approached him. He said some of the fellas in the back think Sheamus has intent to turn on his so-called friend, McIntyre. Sheamus told him it’s none of his business. He excused himself and said sarcastically, “I better go out there and turn on my tag team partner.”
-Caruso introduced McIntyre from mid-ring. McIntyre made his entrance. She asked him about the great year he’s had. Drew said it feels damn good to stand there once again WWE Champion. He said sometimes you have to get knocked on your ass to know what you’re truly made of. He said he Claymored the head of Orton to regain his title. He said he was a man of his word. He said he also told Roman Reigns he’d humble him and bring that condescending, arrogant bastard back down to earth “and that’s exactly what I did.” He said he can tell a lot about a man looking someone in the eyes. He said Reigns’s confidence before the match turned to confusion and then fear because he wasn’t like any man he had ever fought before. He said Jey Uso interfered and then Reigns took advantage and won the battle. He told Roman their paths will cross again and he will win the war, “and you can believe that.” He said that’s the past, and it’s time to look ahead to TLC.
Caruso asked about how he can focus on Styles with the looming threat of Miz potentially cashing in his MITB contract. McIntyre said the match with Styles will be “phenomenal.” He asked, “See what I did there?” He said the briefcase is the only thing keeping Miz relevant, so don’t cash it in, but if he tries, he’s going to stick it where the sun don’t shine.
-Sheamus made his entrance. Drew smiled as he walked out. [c]
(7) MIZ & MORRISON vs. SHEAMUS & DREW MCINTYRE
The ring entrance for Miz and Morrison aired after the break. Drew and Sheamus dominated early. Sheamus yelled at Styles on commentary at ringside. Styles took the bait and walked up to Sheamus at ringside. Miz tried to hit Sheamus from behind, but Sheamus knocked him down. Omos stood in front of Sheamus and looked down at him. Morrison dropkicked Sheamus onto the announce desk. [c]
Miz and Morrison were on offense after the break. Drew eventually got the hot-tag and cleared the ring of Morrison and knocked down Miz. He yelled, “Now we’re going to have some fun.” Sheamus asked for the tag. Drew was about to tag him, but then Sheamus dropped to the floor. It was shot in a way that made it look like Sheamus leaped down, but Morrison actually pulled him down. Morrison threw Sheamus over the barricade. Meanwhile, Styles attacked Drew with a Phenomenal Forearm.
WINNERS: McIntyre & Sheamus via DQ.
-Miz yelled at Styles and asked what he was doing. Morrison gave Drew a “Starship Pain” (that almost completely missed). Styles brought the MITB briefcase into the ring. Miz yanked it away from him. Miz thought about it, then told the ref he was going to cash it in. However, McIntyre knocked Morrison out of the ring, then gave Miz a Claymore. McIntyre stood up and eyed Styles. Styles told McIntyre to hold on. Omos lifted Styles and carried him away as Styles cut a promo on him. He said he’s a lucky man that he’ll live to fight another day because Omos rescued him. He said he’d tear him to pieces if Omos set him down. Drew said this is as close as he’ll ever get. He begged Styles to piss him off. He said he doesn’t care about Jackass and The Beanstalk. Drew taunted Styles by pointing at the belt as his music played