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WWE MONDAY NIGHT RAW TV REPORT
DECEMBER 28, 2020
ST. PETERSBURG, FLA. AT TROPICANA FIELD (THE “THUNDERDOME”)
AIRED ON USA NETWORK
REPORT BY BRUCE LEE HAZELWOOD, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Commentators: Tom Phillips, Byron Saxton, Samoa Joe
Ring Announcer: Mike Rome
-They began with an “In memory of Jon Huber” graphic (fka Luke Harper), who passed away over the weekend. My condolences to his family and friends.
-They played the intro video as Tom Phillips welcomed us with an homage to Huber, “It’s Monday, and you know what that means.” They hyped Keith Lee vs. Sheamus to determine the #1 contender for the WWE Championship and and “Alexa’s Playground” segment. Drew McIntyre then made his entrance, holding the sword by the pommel, as Phillips reminded us of McIntyre retaining the WWE Championship at TLC. He said it’s Monday and time for the last Raw of 2020. He said his year was pretty crazy (only his, I presume?) and recounted his ups and downs. He thanked The Miz for motivating him every single week, and recounted when he was “The Chosen One” when that motivation waned. He said when the fans made him “The Chosen One,” that meant the world to him. He discussed next week’s “Legends” edition, and was interrupted by Sheamus. “Say their name and they appear,” said McIntyre.
Sheamus made his entrance as Phillips reminded us that McIntyre has said he would love to defend the WWE Championship against Sheamus. Sheamus said he’s sorry to interrupt, but McIntyre quickly retorted, “No, you’re not.” He said last week he came to Sheamus not to pull any BS during the match and Sheamus said he didn’t; fair enough since it came after the bell. Sheamus asked how long they’ve known each other (15 years) and discussed how they started together, both former/current WWE Champions. He said they’re a week away from making history and they’re getting goosebumps just thinking about it. McIntyre said the people in the back are trembling thinking about how physical their match would be. Sheamus said he was going to kick off Lee’s head and was interrupted by Lee (something something “say their name” something something).
Lee said this is cute, two best friends, one a former the other a current WWE Champion. He said McIntyre looks proud. Lee said Sheamus seemed rather upset that “we won for whatever reason.” He said McIntyre vouched, VOUCHED for his friend, but there is zero trust now, “Your word is just as good as his.” He entered the ring and said every fiber of his being wants to beat his face in right now, but will decide to wait until the bell rings and force him to apologize. He turned to McIntyre and said Sheamus may just do the same thing to him. Sheamus asked him he’s wondering why it happened and here’s why, “Your mouth, Keith!” He yelled some more talking about, “Who do you think you are?” McIntyre called for a ref, and Sheamus hit Lee with two Brogue Kicks before the match started. They cut to break. [c]
(Hazelwood’s Take: Predictable, but each wrestler played their role well. While Lee’s promo style seems to rub people the wrong way (which could bode well for a future legitimate heel turn), I think he fared pretty well tonight. He was direct, intense, and believable. I don’t think Lee goes over here with how the story between McIntyre and Sheamus has been building, but we shall see.)
(1) SHEAMUS vs. KEITH LEE – #1 contender’s match for the WWE Championship
-They returned with McIntyre joined on commentary. Lee used his power to gain the early advantage, hitting forearms to the midsection and back. Sheamus countered a suplex attempt and used some forearm shots of his own before locking in a modified arm lock. Lee just tossed Sheamus off of him, but Sheamus continued to work the left arm and pulled a Pete Dunne by trying to work the fingers. Sheamus keeping Lee grounded and applied a keylock to the left arm. Lee used his strength to get back to his feet and break the hold with some body shots. Sheamus responded with own, but is hit with a belly-to-belly over the ropes. He landed on the apron pretty hard. Lee to the outside as he tossed Sheamus into the ring apron and then the post. Sheamus caught Lee with a running knee to Lee as he looked to enter the ring, then Sheamus went to the top rope and hit Lee with an axe handle-like move. Lee ended up on the announce table as they cut to break. [c]
They returned with Sheamus in control, but Lee fought back. He tried a military press, but couldn’t because of the damage to the left arm. Instead, he hit Sheamus with a huge forearm that sent him to the outside. Sheamus hit a stunner across the top rope, then hit the Ten Beats of the Bodhran from the outside-in, the inverse of the usual. He then climbed the top rope, but this time Lee hit a flying Sheamus with a shoulder tackle. Lee hit two running shoulder blocks, a corner avalanche, biel, and a huge one-armed Ron Simmons spinebuster for a two-count. Lee setup for the Spirit Bomb, but Sheamus fought it off and hit some forearm smashes. Lee countered and Irish whip, hit a corner avalanche, then a running STO that looked clunky for another two-count. Lee again looked for the Spirit Bombk but Sheamus hit a basement dropkick and another to Lee’s left knee. Lee countered a Cloverleaf attempt, ducked a Brogue Kick, then hit a running “cross Buick, Tom!” (Samoa Joe) for a two-count. Sheamus hit White Noise on Lee for a two-count, Sheamus surprising the commentators with his strength. He slapped Lee HARD several times, but Lee grabbed Sheamus’ wrists. Sheamus hit some headbutts, so Lee hit his own then a big Grizzly Magnum into a big Spirit Bomb for the victory.
WINNER: Keith Lee at 12:49 to become the #1 contender for the WWE Championship
-McIntyre congratulated Lee after the match, and Lee went over to McIntyre. The stared down each other as McIntyre raised the WWE Championship. They transitioned to the back with Elias strumming the guitar and his associate, Jaxson Ryker, sitting next to him. The decor of the room is so bad. They shifted back to the ring as The Miz & John Morrison made their entrance. The Miz looked distraught as they cut to break. [c]
(Hazelwood’s Take: Well, so much for my prediction. I forgot the match is next week and not at the Royal Rumble, so that should have given it away. That was a pretty good match, clunky at times, but hard-hitting. If you like “big meaty men slapping meat” as Big E would say, this is your type of match.)
(2) THE MIZ (w/John Morrison) vs. GRAN METALIK (w/Lince Dorado)
-They hyped “Legends Night” as they returned with the reminder of McIntyre vs. Lee for the WWE Championship. Metalik made his entrance with Dorado (it’s almost criminal how underutilized both are, but especially Metalik). They played a promo with Dorado making fun of The Miz, ending with, “It’s Lucha time!” Metalik began with a series of quick pin attempts, all two-counts, stunning The Miz, who looked infuriated. He responded with strikes to Metalik, but Metalik hit a head scissors (sent The Miz outside), basement dropkick, then a moonsault after walking on the top rope. Metalik tried a springboard back in the ring, but The Miz hit him with a knee. The Miz gained the advantage, punctuated by a running boot. He ripped at the mask, then applied a rear chinlock. Metalik fought to his feet, hit a reverse slingblade, then ran the ropes and hit a second-rope dropkick. He then hit a rolling sunset bomb for the victory.
WINNER: Gran Metalik at 3:22
-After the match, The Miz looked shocked as the commentators reminded us of his bas few weeks. They cut back to Sheamus as the door knocked again, this time forcefully. Elias claimed of disrespect. Ryker opened it as Omos barged in. A.J. Styles said Omos is trying to listen to Mozart while he’s on the phone with WWE management, but they can’t hear over “Johnny Trash.” Ryker responded indignantly, but Elias said Styles is just upset about not getting the job done at TLC. Styles said Elias should face him tonight as he ends his career early by breaking his fingers so no one would have to hear him play again. They cut to Dana Brooke (accompanied by Mandy Rose) for her match as they cut to break. [c]
(Hazelwood’s Take: Welp, I’m just glad The Miz isn’t in the main event picture anymore, and really glad Metalik scored the pinfall victory.)
(3) DANA BROOKE (w/Mandy Rose) vs. SHAYNA BASZLER
-They returned with Brooke stretching in the ring (not flexing!) as Baszler mad her entrance sans Jax. Joe said, “That’s not just competition; that’s Shayna Baszler.” They replayed Baszler injuring Rose’s arm last month. They began with Baszler using leg kicks to gauge the distance, but Brooke caught the third one and slapped Baszler. Brooke hit a shoulder tackle, then some more in the corner as she’s showing no fear or intimidation here. She went for a cartwheel splash, but Baszler but up the knees. She looked to stomp the arm, but Brooke moved. Baszler still working the arm and wrist as she torqued it a bit then slammed it on the apron. Baszler with a wrist crank on a downed Brooke, then transitioned to a modified keylock as she stared down Rose. Brooke fought out with a jawbreaker and some elbows, then some lariats and a bodyslam. Baszler rolled to the outside as Brooke tried a baseball slide. Baszler caught her and applied the Kirifuda Clutch as the ref counted. She broke the count and attacked Rose, but Brooke caught her, rolled her in the ring, went for her finisher, rolled out of the Kirifuda Clutch, hit a rolling neckbreaker, but only scored a two-count. Brooke climbed the top, rolled through the splash, but Baszler with a step-up knee into the Clutch for the tapout victory.
WINNER: Shayna Baszler at 4:20
-After the match, Baszler rolled out, but returned to apply the Clutch to Rose, who was checking on Brooke. She broke the hold and left the two prone in the ring. Phillips then shifted to setting up “Alexa’s Playground” as they replayed last week’s events. They cut to break. [c]
(Hazelwood’s Take: I like that Baszler was alone; she shouldn’t need Jax to beat the likes of Brooke, even with her partner at ringside. Still, isn’t it odd that Jax is facing Charlotte Flair later yet Baszler faced Brooke, NOT Asuka? I guess they want Baszler NOWHERE near the Women’s Championship picture. This is a mistake in my opinion, and would much rather see Baszler and Jax swap places.)
-They returned with Alexa Bliss swinging on her swing set, reminding us that “he” built this for her. She said she hasn’t seen “him” since things got a little “heated” at TLC, and maybe he’s waiting until “Legends Night” next week to meet his hero, Hulk Hogan, and he’s been taking his vitamins and saying his prayers, though she doesn’t want to know who or what he prays to.
She then invited Randy Orton to the ring. His music hit, but he didn’t appear. She asked if she did something wrong and maybe “Randy” doesn’t want to help “us find him.” She tried again, but no Orton. Bliss looked like an upset kid and said maybe he doesn’t want to play with us anymore. “You light someone on fire ONE time and it goes straight to your head.” The “Firefuly Fun House” music played, but Orton entered the Fun House. He said he thought he would take advantage of the Fun House being most certainly empty. He kicked Huskus the Pig, then grabbed Mercy the Buzzard as he asked her if she thought The Fiend is really coming back. He threw Mercy at Abby the Witch in the window, and said he would show The Fiend just how twisted and deranged he truly is by leaving him nothing to come back to. He grabbed poor Ramblin’ Rabbit, the only voice of reason in the “Fun House,” then decapitated him with his hands. Bliss challenged Orton “with me in the ring.” Orton said oh, this is where “he” is supposed to return, so he accepted. They cut to black and then shifted to the commentators as Byron Saxton said that was disturbing.
-They shifted to previewing the Flair-Jax match by replaying Jax kayfabe injuring Flair in June at the Performance Center, and count me glad they didn’t think we forgot this happened. Charly Caruso then welcomed Flair backstage and asked Flair about “arguably the most feared women in WWE” in Jax. Flair said she’s been out for half a year, but won the Tag Team Championship. Is she ready? Is Jax to be feared? Absolutely. Caruso asked how Flair intends to start 2021, and Flair said she has the same resolution every year: to climb to the top and stay there. Asuka appeared with “Happy New Year” attire and said, “But tonight, Nia Jax is not ready for Charlotte Flair!” They shifted to Styles making his entrance (with Omos). They cut to break. [c]
(Hazelwood’s Take: Hmm…I guess my biggest question is when did everyone get the address for the Firefly Fun House? Orton taking it to the puppets was effective and also hilarious, but he sold it well with his intensity. He might be mired in a weird, nearly irredeemable angle, but he’s doing well. Bliss also did well, and she seems to improve her acting in this role every week. I’m curious to see what the “challenge” ends up being. Still, it seems rather likely now that The Fiend is returning instead of writing him off for an extended period, if not permanently. )
(4) A.J. Styles (w/Omos) vs. ELIAS (w/Jaxson Ryker)
-They returned with Styles & Omos waiting in the ring as Elias made his entrance with his associate, Ryker (Elias’ music is…bad). They began with Elias gaining the early advantage, but Styles used his quickness to turn the tables. Elias gained the advantage with strikes as a graphic for an 8-Man tag team match later on was advertised between The New Day & Jeff Hardy & Riddle vs. The Hurt Business. Elias hit a huge backbody drop for a two-count, and to this day, no one takes a better bump on that move than Styles. Elias worked the left arm, then grounded Styles with a knee to the shoulder. Styles gained the advantage with quick counters and strikes, a mishap between the two, but Styles saved with a dropkick. Elias caught Styles outside into a fireman’s carry and slammed him across the apron, then tossed him into the ring post shoulder first as they cut to break. [c]
They played a Royal Rumble promo as they returned with Styles taking a flying knee from Elias for a two-count. Elias worked the left arm again, then did his version of Old School as he walked across the rope and hit a meteora for a two-count; Phillips said it’s the “Walk with Elias.” He locked in a rear chinlock. Styles fought to his feet, but is sent outside by Elias. Ryker creeped around, but fell on his butt as Omos stepped up to protect Styles. Elias hesitantly went to the outside keeping his eyes on Omos. Styles fought back in the ring with his strikes to flying forearm combo. He hit an ushigoroshi on Elias for a two-count. Styles signaled for the Styles Clash, but Elias fought out. Styles looked for the Phenomenal 4-arm, but Elias caught him and hit Drift Away for only a two-count. Elias, frustrated, climbed the top rope for the elbow, but Syles met him and took out his legs. He hit a Pele kick to Elias, who fell to the mat. Elias hit a TKO on Styles for a two-count again as Elias cannot put him away. Elias ran his fingers through his hair in frustration, then looked for a fisherman’s suplex that was countered with strikes and an enziguri. Styles hit the Phenomenal 4-arm for the victory.
WINNER: A.J. Styles at 14:07
-After the match, Omos cheered on Styles by saying, “That’s what I’m talking about! Fighting spirit right there!” They replayed the highlights and showed Styles & Omos posing in the ring. Phillips then shifted to discussing the Ricochet-Retribution/Mustafa Ali saga. They played a bit of Ricochet on Raw Talk last week. Ricochet then made his entrance for his match against Ali. Phillips reminded us Ricochet has faced the individual male members of Retribution and now faces the leader as they cut to break. [c]
(Hazelwood’s Take: I don’t think Elias should be lasting 14 minutes with Styles, but they’ve clearly been giving TV time to Elias for some reason, so in that context, it’s not surprising he lasted so long. To his credit, that was a perfectly fine TV match, and though it’s taken some time, Elias seems like someone who can give you a solidly midcard match as long as his dance partner can call the shots. Styles getting the clean victory is the right call, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Styles announces his entry in the Royal Rumble match later tonight.)
(5) RICOCHET vs. MUSTAFA ALI (w/Retribution)
-Ali made his entrance (looking smug) with the full force of Retribution in tow. Saxton wondered if Ricochet can end it all here with a victory. They played an Ali promo, the second time tonight they’ve done one of these pre-recorded ones just prior to the match starting. Ali basically said join or suffer, more or less. Ricochet took the early advantage with strikes, then whipped Ali into the corner and hit a huge running uppercut and then a bodyslam into a running elbow for a one-count. Ricochet hit his back-handspring head scissors into a dropkick, then a big backbody drop. Ricochet look almost insulted that Ali challenged him, but Ali took advantage and threw Ricochet into the turnbuckle. Ali took the advantage with corner strikes, then a neckbreaker for a two-count. Ali measured Ricochet, but was sent to the apron. Ali countered by ramming Ricochet’s head into the turnbuckle, but both men fought to the top rope. Slapjack and Reckoning distracted the ref as Mace and T-Bar grabbed Ricochet and threw him into the ringside barricade. Ali hit a splash from the top rope to the outside on a prone Ricochet as they cut to break; Ali’s knees probably didn’t appreciate that. [c]
Ali was in control as they returned from break, but Ricochet fought back only to be hit with a backstabber as he was on the second rope. Ali with the Randy Orton Special, the mid-ring, mid-match rear chinlock. Ali with a knee to the gut, bodyslam, and jumping elbow to the chest for a two-count, followed quickly the Randy Orton Special. Ali went for a suplex, but Ricochet countered and shoved Ali into the corner. Ricochet moonsaulted into a deadlift German suplex (wow, that was impressive). Ricochet hit some strikes and then a huge lariat that flipped Ali backwards. Ricochet looked for the Kickback, but couldn’t lift him due to all the damage to the midsection. Ali ran at Ricochet, and this time he hit him with the Kickback instead. Mace pulled out Ali on the cover. He was surrounded by Retribution, hit a springboard tornado DDT to T-Bar to the outside, took out Slapjack, dropkicked Ali into the post, then hit another tornado DDT to Mace on the outside. They make it back before the 10-count, Ricochet to the top, Shooting Star Press blocked with the knees right into the Koji Clutch for the technical submission victory as Ricochet passed out.
WINNER: Mustafa Ali at 11:47
-After the match, Ali celebrated and posed as they showed replays and Phillips reminded us of the numbers. Ali grabbed the mic and asked Ricochet when he’s going to learn he has no chance. He said he’ll give Ricochet a chance, a chance to erase his regrets, a new outlook, a new beginning, and said, “Ricochet, join Retribution. What is your decision?” Ricochet snatched the mic, on one knee still, and said he made a decision: he will…NOT join and then hit the Recoil on Ali, quickly escaping before Mace and T-Bar could get to him.
-They cut to Caruso welcoming Jax (with Baszler) and Jax interrupted Caruso before she could even begin. Jax said Flair’s fear “warms her heart.” She made some resolutions herself: end Flair’s ascent to the top, regain the Tag Team Champions, and enter the Royal Rumble match (Baszler: “There’s a three?”). She wished Caruso a Happy New Year and walked off. Baszler she kind of liked that idea, so I guess both are now in the Royal Rumble match. Flair made her entrance, accompanied by Women’s Champion and her tag team partner/Champion in Asuka. Saxton said it’s so good to have “The Queen” back on Raw. Joe said she’ll be back with a vengeance tonight. They cut to break. [c]
(Hazelwood’s Take: Keeping Ricochet out of Retribution is the right call since it seems like the group just isn’t going to be anything more than mid-card fodder, and there’s always a lack of faces in WWE. Beyond that, at least Retribution keeps winning, even if only through distractions and interference.)
-They replayed the events from earlier in the night between Lee and Sheamus, including Lee’s victory. They showed a graphic for next week’s WWE Championship match between McIntyre and Lee. They shifted to Caruso in the back as she welcomed McIntyre (are Flair & Asuka still in the ring?!). She asked if McIntyre has anything to say to Lee. He said he plans to give the Legends a title match they’ll never forget. He said that’s the Lee everybody, including McIntyre, was waiting to see; he stepped up. He said he’s happy for Lee for having a chance to prove to the world what he can do. They cut back to the ring with Flair waiting in the ring, Asuka at ringside, as Jax & Baszler made their entrance.
(6) CHARLOTTE FLAIR (w/Asuka) vs. NIA JAX (w/Shayna Baszler)
-As the match began, Joe wondered how many women “undeclared” for the Royal Rumble match after hearing both Jax and Baszler had entered. They started with a collar-and-elbow tie up with Jax trying to work that previously (kayfabe) injured left arm. Flair wrenched on a side headlock, but was driven into the corner by Jax, followed by short-arm shoulder tackles to the left shoulder, followed by an arm wringer. Flair on the apron hit a big kick, then another in the ring and a basement dropkick to Jax’s ribs as Jax rolled to the outside. Jax took her time as Flair waited for Jax to enter the ring. Flair with forearm smashes to Jax’s face, then tried to force Jax into the ropes and instead hit another dropkick that sent Jax outside one more time. Baseball slide from Flair sent Jax into the announce table. Asuka hit a spinning backfist to Baszler as Flair sidestepped a rushing Jax, who hit the steps/post. She tried for the Figure Eight in the ring, but Jax just threw her into the bottom turnbuckle instead, then a corner avalanche into a two-count as they cut to break. [c]
Jax was in control with a modified Cobra Clutch as they returned, but Flair fought back and hit a standing neckbreaker and some chops (some didn’t look like they hit). She turned to Jax’s left leg, but Jax countered. Flair was able to send Jax to the mat with a hair pull, then climbed for her (terrible) moonsault. Jax brought her to the mat before that could happen and hit a BIG sitdown powerbomb for a two-count. Jax went for a legdrop, but Flair moved (early). She went for the Figure Eight again, but Jax kicked her off. Asuka went after Baszler on the outside, but Baszler sidestepped her and sent her into the announce table. Flair finally applied the Figure Eight, but before Jax could tap, Baszler applied the Kirifuda Clutch for the DQ.
WINNER: Charlotte Flair by DQ at 10:55
-After the match, they beat on Flair some more before Asuka could chase them off. Phillips then shifted to a video from earlier in the day showing The Hurt Business arriving. They scared some dude who was standing in their way on his phone, then laughed and stepped over him as Saxton hyped the 8-Man match for later tonight (main event I assume?). They cut to break. [c]
(Hazelwood’s Take: Sigh…WWE, I swear, people WANT to see clean finishes! In having a DQ finish to “protect” both acts, they actually do more to HURT the wrestlers involved. It isn’t just something that plagues the women’s divisions, but WWE as a whole. Their macro structure is in dire need of a change, but we’ve been saying that for 20+ years.)
-Angel Garza was holding a rose as they returned. Caruso approached him and asked him about his first year on Raw. He said there were ups and downs, he swiped left and right, he met Caruso. He said a new year means new beginnings and he might introduce himself to one of the “lovely legendary ladies” next week. Caruso asked about the rose, but they were interrupted by the 24/7 Crew as R-Truth was chased off and the poor rose was trampled. He said, “It’s the thought that counts,” as he gave it to Caruso. The commentators had a good laugh at that as Phillips (with Saxton donning a huge grin) showed highlights of Big E defeating Sami Zayn to become the new Intercontinental Champion (they showed Smackdown on Raw?! Color me shocked). They showed Riddle & Hardy celebrating Big E’s victory with Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods. Woods said they’re going to take the triple champions picture once they regain the Tag Team Championship as they “gently touch their tips.” Riddle said they need a name, and proposed “The Little Bronies” and “The Positively Hard Bros” as The New Day’s music hit and they left Hardy & Riddle in Gorilla. Hardy entered next as they cut to break. [c]
(7) THE NEW DAY (Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods) & JEFF HARDY & RIDDLE vs. THE HURT BUSINESS (M.V.P. & Bobby Lashley & Cedric Alexander & Shelton Benjamin)
-Hardy’s music was still playing as they returned, followed by Riddle (they should have just had him enter during commercials). I think Kingston caught a flip-flop as Riddle entered the ring. The Hurt Business made their entrance in next, three of the four donning championships. M.V.P. had a mic and said before they destroy what’s left of their opponents, the “Chief Hurt Officer” Lashley would like to make an exclusive business forecast for their operations. Lashley declared for the Royal Rumble match, declaring he will main event this year’s WrestleMania. Alexander and Riddle started the match trading strikes with Alexander gaining the advantage with one his picture-perfect dropkicks. However, Riddle hit a gutbuster and Lashley tagged in, quickly gaining the advantage. They keep Riddle in their corner as M.V.P. tagged in and reigned down blows. Benjamin tagged in and hit a snap suplex for a two-count, then drove Riddle into a neutral corner with shoulder blocks to the gut. Riddle able to kick Benjamin into their corner, tagged in Hardy, and hit a Broetry in Motion. Woods tagged in, followed by Kingston, then they did a modified Unicorn Stampede as they traded tags and stomps on Benjamin, punctuated with Hardy’s elevated dropkick to the chest. The faces cleared the ring of the heels with Lashley incensed as they cut to break. [c]
M.V.P. was working Riddle’s right leg and stomped on his foot as they returned. Riddle in the wrong corner as Lashley tagged in and hit a running shoulder block to Riddle’s midsection, then hit a flatliner for a two-count. Benjamin tagged in and stomped on both of Riddle’s feet. He then started working the left leg of Riddle and shifted to a half crab that was broken up by Riddle grabbing the bottom rope. Riddle sent to the outside as M.V.P. went to the outside and laid next to him talking trash, a great visual. Alexander tagged in and kept Riddle grounded with a knee to the back and a modified chinlock. Benjamin tagged back in, then Lashley, who gives some crossface haymakers as Riddle laid across the second rope. Alexander tagged in, but was hit with a head kick by Riddle, who finally made the tag to Kingston. Kingston took out Alexander, then M.V.P., and hit a Boom Drop on Alexander. Kingston set in the corner for the Trouble in Paradise, but interference from Benjamin broke that up. Woods made a blind tag and took out Alexander. M.V.P. tried interfering, but he was sent out. Woods with a discus lariat in honor of Brodie Lee/Luke Harper lariat, followed by a Swanton and pin that was broken up by Lashley. M.V.P. took out both Woods & Kingston, but Riddle kicked M.V.P. Benjamin took out Riddle, but was hit by a Twist of Fate. Lashley tagged in, applied The Hurt Lock, and Hardy tapped.
WINNER: The Hurt Business at 13:51
-After the match, Saxton reminded us Hardy has continually tapped to The Hurt Lock. They tried to take out the faces, but the faces fought them off and retreated. The faces looked happy even though they, you know, lost. They shifted to The Miz & Morrison sitting on the stairs as Adam Pearce approached, saying they look as miserable a the Cleveland Browns did yesterday. He raised the Money in the Bank briefcase, returning it to The Miz. The rules state the contract holder can only cash it it, and that’s not Morrison. “Congratulations, Miz. Once again, the Money in the Bank contract is in your grubby little hands.” Pearce left, the two looked at each other, then celebrated like the Browns won the Super Bowl, including some downright terrible dancing. They hyped Raw Talk with Lee, Asuka, and The New Day. They reminded us of Bliss’ challenge to Orton, which is next, as they cut to break. [c]
(Hazelwood’s Take: About what you’d expect from an 8-Man tag team match in WWE: heels working a face in their corner, a face comeback, and a rapid comeback in the closing moments. I like the story of Lashley continuing to submit Hardy with The Hurt Lock as it keeps putting the move and Lashley over as serious threats, especially considering how much pain and punishment we know Hardy can endure. I’ll be happy when we get away from these eight men being intertwined in angles, but that seems to happen with The Hurt Business, no? Also, there goes my prediction about The Miz being out of the main event picture…sigh.)
-They hyped next week’s WWE Championship match as they returned. Bliss made her entrance, now wearing black instead of her “Playground” look, and did The Rock’s “Come get some” gesture to Orton. Bliss wearing the headset mic makes her look like some sort of weird motivational speaker, by the way. Orton’s music hit as he made his entrance and the commentators debated what will happen. Orton looked around the ring and asked where The Fiend is. Bliss said it’s about her, not The Fiend and she exited the ring to grab a wrapped present (complete with a bow!) as Saxton said, “Christmas is over.” She got on her knees and opened the present in the ring with Orton looking apprehensive. She opened the box to reveal a canister of gasoline and matches. She approached Orton and placed them at his feet, walked back, kick the box out and challenged Orton to “do to me what you did to him.” She laid prone in the ring while Orton folded his arms and had that, “You serious?” look on his face. Bliss rose, grabbed the canister, and poured out a line from her to where Orton was in the corner. She said she just did the job for him, so go ahead and light the match. She said it with more anger in her eyes. She laid back down, though one camera angle blocked her face because the bow was in the way.
When he just stood there, Bliss angrily rose again, grabbed the canister, and made a circle of gasoline around her. She said Orton wouldn’t do it because he “doesn’t have the guts.” She said he says he’s sick, twisted, demented, but he’s not, he’s nothing but “a little bitch” because he can’t light the match. She then doused herself with the rest of the canister as Orton looked on with almost an erotic look on his face. He then turned his head and said, “You think that I won’t do it?” He slowly grabbed the matches, asked if she thinks he’s not capable, and said he WANTS to do it, but it’s also what she wants him to do so he’s trying to process the whole thing. He likes watching people in pain and watching people suffer. He said fine, that’s what you want, and then the lights started going out. Orton lit a match that somehow lit up his entire being, smiled, and acted like he was about to drop the match as the commentators pleaded with him not to and the show ended.
(Hazelwood’s Take: If I can just go one week without having to type “sigh” or “yikes,” I’ll call it a success. That being said, YIKES. I guess being edgier means having murder angles every week? Look, Bliss is improving and Orton played his role well, but how much chicken salad can you make from chicken s**t? With Orton’s reputation outside of the ring that has seen a lot of reconciliation over the past year, it’s not a big leap to believe he really is a sadist. However, shouldn’t Orton be incarcerated for murder, presuming The Fiend is dead? Further, they keep teasing-not-teasing The Fiend’s return, and almost seems like they wanted to “send” Bliss to another realm for her Harley Quinn-like/Sister Abigail character to have more of a symbiotic connection with The Fiend. Whatever they have in store for this angle in 2021, the last two weeks have not set a good foundation.)
FINAL THOUGHTS: Outside of Lee vs. Sheamus and Flair vs. Jax, no matches really seemed to have any larger ramifications outside of the micro context of tonight’s show (I’m including Ricochet vs. Ali here because really, where’s it going if it didn’t end tonight?). That’s an issue that’s plagued WWE for decades, but when they do think of the macro storytelling, you at least get something like the callback to Jax injuring Flair in June. While the action in the other matches was fine, it’s hard to become invested when there doesn’t seem to be any long-term path. I will at least give WWE credit for dramatically reducing the number of DQ/distraction/interference finishes tonight, but still advocate for WWE to have shows with only clean finishes and to forgo their stubborn attitude that “protecting” wrestlers means neither putting the other over.
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