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KELLER’S WWE RAW REPORT
FEBRUARY 1, 2021
ST. PETERSBURG, FLA. AT TROPICANA FIELD (“THUNDERDOME”)
AIRED ON USA NETWORK
Commentators: Tom Phillips, Byron Saxton, Samoa Joe
Ring Announcer: Mike Rome
-They showed a wide shot of Thunderdome with new augmented reality graphics saying “Raw” and “ThunderDome” floating over the ring.
-Mike Rome introduced Drew McIntyre. As Drew came out, Phillips described what happened between Drew and Goldberg as freeze-frames aired of the big moments in the match. Drew said it’s not an ordinary episode of Raw because they are officially on the Road to WrestleMania. He pointed at the sign. “How frickin’ awesome was the Royal Rumble,” he said. He said he went to war with Goldberg and they beat the crap out of each other and they earned each other’s respect. He talked about other happenings on the show. He was then interrupted by Edge’s music.
Edge walked to the ring and appeared to be moving gingerly, realizing being 47 years old is a whole different story than being 27 or 37 and doing what he does. Edge entered the ring. Drew said ever since he came to America, he was always around Edge and he’s always been a mentor to him. He said he always looked out for him and he appreciates all he did. He said he was there when he retired, and he remembers what a terrible day it was. He said he remembered last year at the Rumble, A.J. Styles had his boot against his throat and then Edge’s music played. He said he thought he was gone for good after his injury, but he managed to outlast 29 others to win the Rumble. He said he’s really proud of him.
Edge said he appreciates the compliments. He said he really likes Drew, so he has to be blunt with him. “What is wrong with you?” he asked. “I won the Royal Rumble last night, which means I can challenge you for that championship.” He said instead of kicking his head off because he’s a viable threat, he’s showering him with compliments. Drew said that’s something an opportunist would do, but that’s not him. “You’re right,” Edge said. “You’re not me.” Sheamus’s music played.
Sheamus strutted and said: “Look at this, look at this,” he said. He asked who Edge is to question anything about Drew. He said Drew has single-handedly carried this company through uncharted waters while Edge was sitting at home nursing his tricep. He said Drew has been his best friend over half his life. He told Edge that while Drew might want to take the high road, he sure as hell doesn’t. Drew thanked Sheamus, but told him he’s got this one. Drew told Edge that since he won the Rumble, is he going to announce his decision, or will he let him make it for him. Edge said he’ll make his decision known when he chooses. He told Drew he has a big target on his back and is playing a dangerous game. Edge looked at Sheamus. Sheamus asked what he’s getting at. Edge told Drew that whomever he chooses, he’s walking out of WrestleMania as a champion.
Edge left. Sheamus then gave McIntyre a Brogue Kick. He stood over him as Drew coughed. Phillips said, “I don’t get this at all.”
(Keller’s Analysis: Edge is so good. There’s a leadership maturity and grounded believability to everything he does. As for Sheamus’s kick, if that’s a heel turn, it feels like an audible because of whatever has been going on with Keith Lee, rather than something they laid the groundwork for in recent weeks. They really were pushing, effectively, the idea that Sheamus was with Drew, and it just doesn’t feel true to the character he’s been the last month or so.) [c]
-The announcers reacted to replays of Sheamus’s Brogue kick.
-Charly Caruso backstage asked Sheamus what that was all about. Sheamus said everyone thinks of him as Drew McIntyre’s friend, but he wants to be known as the WWE Champion. He said Drew is no longer his friend. He grabbed his rolling luggage from Drew Gulak and left.
-They went to the announcers on camera. Joe asked what there isn’t to understand because this is all about the WWE Title.
(1) BOBBY LASHLEY (w/MVP) vs. RIDDLE – U.S. Title match
Rome did formal ring introductions for the match, and then they cut to a pre-bell break. [c]
Riddle went after Lashley aggressively at the bell. Lashley came back quickly including a delayed vertical suplex. Riddle head-scissored Lashley to the floor, then flip-dove onto him. Lashley put Riddle in a Hurt Lock on the ring apron. The ref DQ’d Lashley fro not breaking before five. Riddle tapped, but the ref had already signaled for the DQ.
WINNER: Riddle via DQ in 1:00.
-Lashley put Riddle in the Hurt Lock again at ringside as MVP tried to get Lashley to calm down. A “You suck!” chant was piped in as MVP confronted Lashley and asked what he was doing. Lashley didn’t like MVP’s tone and he put Riddle in the Hurt Lock again. Saxton said Lashley has just snapped. Lashley then tossed Riddle violently over the barricade.
(Keller’s Analysis: I get they’re pushing Lashley hard, but the treatment of Riddle comes across as something more than standard booking. It seems spiteful toward him, with the intent to undermine his viability as a credible main event singles wrestler.)
-They replayed Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler beating Charlotte & Asuka last night at the Royal Rumble. Then Phillips hyped a triple threat match with Mandy Rose & Dana Brooke vs. Charlotte & Asuka vs. Lana & Naomi, with the winner getting a future tag title shot.
-They showed a white Bugatti drive into the arena. Out of the car stepped Bad Bunny. That car costs over $3 million, but having over 540 million views for his latest YouTube video can help pay for that, apparently. [c]
-They cut to Riddle being checked on by three referees and a trainer. Riddle asked who he was wrestling. The trainer told him it was Lashley. He seemed out of it, but he tried to stand and they kept him down. Joe said Riddle deserves credit for having an aggressive gameplan, but Lashley was too much for him. Saxton said Lashley “mauled and ransacked” Riddle.
-Backstage Randy Orton congratulated Edge, but he said he told the world Edge would never come back, and now he’s made him look like a liar. He said he smashed his head between chairs, Punt kicked him, and RKO’d him and his wife “all because I loved you like a brother.” He said he sent him home to be a father and husband. He said he’s not going to main event WrestleMania because he made the mistake of looking past his decision to send him home to his family. He said tonight there will be no compassion or mercy.
-Phillips announced Orton vs. Edge was scheduled for later.
(Keller’s Analysis: Good, intense stuff. Orton seemed really ticked off at the pace he rattled off his grievances. It’s crazy they’re throwing out there that Edge is wrestling Orton 24 hours removed from that Rumble match on Raw.)
-Kofi Kingston told Xavier Woods that Mustafa Ali has lost his mind, blaming him for succeeding two years ago. He said tonight is Xavier’s chance at “get-back.”
(Keller’s Analysis: Were they serving Red Bull in the punch bowl at catering. Between Orton and Kofi, I feel I’m playing back at 2x speed with the volume maxed out.)
-Xavier and Kiingston made their ring entrance. [c]
-A segment aired from earlier of Ali saying he’s glad to see Kofi back. He said he is celebrating by inviting him to watch up close his torturing and breaking Xavier. Retribution were being weird in the background grunting and gesturing.
(2) XAVIER WOODS (w/Kofi Kingston) vs. MUSTAFA ALI (w/T-Bar, Slapjack)
Saxton said if Ali is so upset about 2019, why not bring it up earlier instead of griping about it now. A few minutes in, after rapid-fire action, Xavier scored a near fall after a discus clothesline broken up by T-Bar. Kofi leaped off of T-Bar onto Slapjack. Ali rolled up a distracted Xavier, but Xavier countered with a crucifix for the leverage three count. As Xavier celebrated and gloated a bit at Ali’s expense from the stage, they piped in “New… Day Sucks!”
WINNER: Xavier in 4:00.
-Damien Priest was chatting with Bad Bunny backstage. [c]
-They aired a clip of the Edge-Drew-Sheamus segment at the start of the show. Phillips announced Drew would speak later on Raw about Sheamus turning on him.
-Miz TV: Miz and Morrison came out to the ring to their music. Miz and Morrison gushed about Bad Bunny’s performance last night at the Rumble. They introduced Bad Bunny and danced a little. Phillips noted that his “Booker T” song has 42 million views on YouTube. Morrison was (intentionally) dancing very poorly to the beat of Bunny’s music. Miz said he wanted to clear up any misunderstanding he had with them him last night. He threw to a clip of Bunny’s performance of “Booker T” at the Rumble, then Bunny rejecting Miz and Morrison’s invite to join forces followed by Miz beaking Bad Bunny’s D.J. station later and finally Bad Bunny’s leap onto Miz and Morrison at ringside.
Miz said he thinks they both did things they regret last night, but two wrongs don’t make a right. He said he wanted to apologize to him from the deepest part of his heart. Bad Bunny thanked him. Miz asked if he had anything to say to them. “Umm, no,” he said. Morrison said he should apologize for costing them their chance to main event WrestleMania. Miz asked if it’s true he wants to be a WWE Superstar. Bunny said it is one of his dreams. Miz said many wrestlers under his learning tree have become stars. He said he took an ordinary-looking B+ player in Daniel Bryan and turned him into beloved international Superstar and WrestleMania main eventer. “Imagine what we could do for you,” said Morrison. He said the possibilities are endless, but include doing movies, red carpet walks, and flying in private jets. “You get Grammys, we get Slammys,” said Miz.
Morrison and Miz sang a song that got worse by the second. Bunny laughed and said they should listen to him. “You guys are special, but I am not interested,” he said. Miz and Morrison didn’t take that well. “Do you have any idea where you are or who you are talking to?” Miz asked. “We are Miz & Morrison. You are in our ring on our show.” He said the ring can be a very dangerous place. Bunny told them to relax. He said he came there because a good friend of his wanted to be on Miz TV. The lights went down, and then Damien Priest’s entrance took place. Phillips declared that Priest has come to Raw. Priest punched out Miz. Morrison bailed out. Priest and Bunny smiled together. [c]
(3) MIZ (w/Morrison) vs. DAMIEN PRIEST (w/Bad Bunny)
Priest springboard flip dove onto Miz and Morrison at ringside. He punched Miz for a two count back inside the ring seconds later. A graphic in the corner hyped Orton vs. Edge later. Miz raked Priest’s eyes and threw him shoulder-first into the ringpost. He scored a one count, then mounted and punched away at Priest. Priest came back with a Broken Arrow for a two count. Morrison jumped onto the ring apron and distracted Priest. Miz then caught Priest with a boot to the chin to drop Priest. Morrison continued to distract the ref from the ring apron. Miz reached for the Money in the Bank briefcase, but Bad Bunny pulled it out of his reach. Morrison went after him. Bunny gave him the briefcase back, but then punched Morrison. Morrison went down. Bunny danced and smiled. Priest then gave Miz his Reckoning finisher. Priest and Bunny celebrated afterward in the aisle.
WINNER: Priest in 5:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: My hunch is that Priest will be built up for the next nine months and then, if he impresses Vince McMahon, be drafted to Smackdown to become an eventual babyface contender to Roman Reigns in 2022.)
-A video package aired on Asuka vs. Alexa Bliss last week ending with a blister-faced Orton giving Bliss an RKO. The announcers said Bliss would face Nikki Cross later.
(Keller’s Analysis: Orton’s burned face got A LOT BETTER REALLY QUICKLY in the six days between Raw and the Royal Rumble.).
(4) SHELTON BENJAMIN & CEDRIC ALEXANDER (w/MVP) vs. LUCHA HOUSE PARTY (Gran Metalik & Lince Dorado) – WWE Raw Tag Team Title match
MVP joined the announcers on commentary. MVP made fun of Bad Bunny’s haircut. MVP said he’s never seen that side of Lashley before, and he liked what he saw but he was concerned it could go to far and they’d end up in court. (Like setting someone on fire in a WWE ring… oh, wait.) Rome did formal ring introductions. A few minutes in, LHP knocked Shelton and Cedric off the ring apron to the floor. They cut to a break. [c]
Shelton scored a near fall on Dorado after a gut-buster, then tagged in Cedric who landed a nice snap suplex for a two count. Metalik hot-tagged in and rallied. Dorado springboard onto Shelton, who caught him. Metalik then knocked them over with a dive. Back in the ring, Metalik rolled up Cedric for a near fall. LHP rapid-tagged and then landed a top rope splash and senton rapid-fire, with Shelton breaking up the cover on Cedric. Shelton kneed Dorado off the top rope to take over. Shelton tagged himself in and then landed Pay Dirt on Metalik to win. Cedric took offense to Shelton tagging himself in. He yelled down to MVP, upset with Shelton’s actions. MVP played peace-maker and raised their arms mid-ring. Cedric cooled down a bit as Shelton smiled over at him.
WINNERS: Shelton & Cedric in 12:00 to retain the Raw Tag Team Titles.
(Keller’s Analysis: Good action.)
-The announcers shifted to talking about Baszler & Jax winning the Women’s Tag Team Titles.
-Backstage, Sarah Schreiber asked Charlotte & Asuka what their mindset is after Ric Flair and Lacey cost them the tag team titles last night. (She said “titles”!!) Charlotte said Lacey might think she’s good at playing dirty, but she knows what will happen if she steps into the ring with her. She said she feels bad she let down her partner Asuka and let the family drama get in the way. Asuka said she isn’t happy with the loss. “Asuka was ready,” she said. She said if it wasn’t for Ric and Lacey, they’d have won. Charlotte said all that’s on her mind is winning the title back. Charlotte’s music played.
(Keller’s Analysis: Asuka was really having trouble articulating her thoughts in English, but it worked in the sense that it seemed she was really broken up over losing the tag titles. It’s tough to read too much into anything she says and how to read her facial expressions otherwise, though.)
-Charlotte made her ring entrance. [c]
(5) CHARLOTTE & ASUKA vs. DANA BROOKE & MANDY ROSE vs. LANA & NAOMI – Winner Gets a Future Tag Team Title match
A soundbite aired with Lana and Naomi before their entrance. Phillips said they’ve become friends after Lana had challenged Naomi for her Smackdown Title a few years ago. Saxton said he sees a lot of potential with those two together. Rose and Brooke took Asuka down with a double flapjack and then, of course, flexed their biceps together as they cut to a break. (Mandy always seems a little embarrassed, and Brooke seems way way way too proud.) [c]
They showed Jax and Baszler watching the match backstage on a monitor. The corner graphics advertised Elias & Jaxson Ryker vs. Carlito & Jeff Hardy later. (WWE’s camera men and photographers at ringside are now wearing facemasks. Not sure how long that’s been the case.) Asuka rallied against Rose, then tagged in Charlotte. Lana also tagged in. Charlotte scored a couple quick two counts. Chaos broke out and then Charlotte rallied with a Natural Selection on Lana. Lacey and Ric Flair then came out to Ric’s music. Saxton said they’re trying to sabotage Charlotte. Charlotte tagged out to Asuka and then left the ring. Naomi caught Asuka with a Rear View to win the match. Saxton said he understands Charlotte being frustrated, but she shouldn’t walk out on her partner.
WINNERS: Naomi & Lana in 11:00 to earn a future title match.
(Keller’s Analysis: Lana & Naomi are a fresh team to challenge Baszler & Jax, but their win is tainted.)
-They showed Drew pacing backstage. [c]
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-Drew was on the verge of tears with a shaky voice talking about how upset he was over Sheamus turning on him. He talked about how they spend Christmas together because they had no one else, and now he’s thrown away their friendship over the title. “So be it,” he said. “You want the match, you’ve got it.”
-They went to Phillips, Saxton, and Joe at ringside. Saxton wondered why Sheamus decided to do what he did. (Uh, Sheamus earlier explained exactly why.) Phillips then hyped Carlito’s return to Raw for the first time in over ten years.
-A video package aired on Carlito.
(6) ELIAS & JAXSON RYKER vs. CARLITO & JEFF HARDY
The announcers marveled at Carlito’s physique like he was Lex Luger three decades ago. The heels double-teamed and isolated Hardy. Elias took a cheap shot at Carlito on the ring apron. Joe said, “Carlito, keep it cool, buddy.” Eventually Carlito hot-tagged in and dropkicked Ryker and then kipped up. Ryker slammed Carlito’s face into the mat. Elias tagged in and rolled up Carlito for a two count. Carlito came back with a Back Stabber and then tagged Hardy back in. Carlito slidekicked Ryker to the floor as Hardy landed a Swanton for the three count on Elias.
WINNERS: Hardy & Carlito in 4;00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Who had Hardy & Carlito as top contenders to the Raw Tag Team Titles on their “2021 Wrestling Bingo Card”?)
-Phillips hyped Edge vs. Orton later. [c]
-A vignette aired on Edge’s “long and winding road back to WrestleMania.” The narrator then said “for one last time these two men will face off.”
-Edge was sitting down in a dark corner backstage. He said he was ecstatic when he came back from a torn tricep and wrestled bell-to-bell to outlast 29 others. He said there’s a black cloud that hangs over his head and his family’s head, and that is Orton. He said Orton had the chance to go bell-to-bell just like he did, but he didn’t. “You say you had a knee injury,” he said. Edge said Orton says it’s about how much he loves his family, “but quit spitting such crap.” He said what it’s really about is jealousy and what a better man Orton knows that he is than him. He said tonight he’s got to put Orton in the rear view and get his family out from under that black cloud so he can walk into WrestleMania “and take back the championship I never lost!” He said tonight he gets closure for himself and his little girls whom he had to turn down playing soccer or piggy-back with them.
-Alexa Bliss made her ring entrance. [c]
-Backstage Edge approached Priest and said he impressed him and they need more guys like him around. He patted him on the shoulder. Priest thanked him.
(7) ALEXA BLISS vs. NIKKI CROSS
Cross’s ring entrance aired next. When the bell rang, Cross yelled at Bliss, “What do you want from me?” Nikki said she wants nothing to do with her, but if she wants to fight, then let’s do it. Bliss toyed with Cross and even did some hopscotch before kicking her in the ribs. Nikki tried to elbow out of a chinlock. As she made a comeback, a few notes of Bliss’s original theme played. Nikki stopped and looked suspiciously at Bliss. Bliss acted like her old self, but Cross didn’t buy it and kicked her. The Funhouse music played and Bliss reverted back to the creepy cheerful version. Cross held her hair and looked on with confusion and dismay. She charged, but Bliss knocked her down. Then she landed Sister Abigail for the clean three count. Bliss sat up and giggled and smiled wide as her music played.
WINNER: Bliss in 5:00.
-As Bliss returned to the back, Orton’s music played. Bliss’s facial expression went dark, but she didn’t step back. Orton walked past her with a stern look, but avoided eye contact. Bliss continued to eye him as she walked past him. [c]
(8) EDGE vs. RANDY ORTON
Edge’s full ring entrance took place as Orton stared him down from in the ring. The bell rang 44 minutes into the third hour. Edge tackled Orton to begin the mach. He kneelifted Orton for a two count. Orton took over for a couple minutes until Edge hit a Edgecution for a two count. Next, he set up a spear, but Orton turned it into a snap powerslam for a two count. He then threw Edge shoulder-first into the post and then the ringside steps. [c]
Orton was on the attack in the ring after the break. Edge and Orton collided with clotheslines mid-ring. Edge scored a quick two count. Both were slow to get up. Orton met Edge on the second rope in the corner and then climbed to the top rope (or “tippy-top,” as Joe always calls it). Edge punched Orton, but Orton went for it again. Edge knocked Orton to the mat and then leaped at him with a flying clothesline. He draped his arm over Orton and got a one count. Edge landed another Edgecution for a near fall. Edge knocked Orton into the ringside barricade. Orton popped Edge with a thumb to the eye at ringside. He then dropped him onto the announce desk and then rolled him into the ring. Orton stalked Edge and catapulted him upward neck-first into the bottom rope. He stuck out his tongue and moved in for a draping DDT. Orton landed it, then signaled for the RKO. Suddenly, nursery music box notes played. Orton turned around and Bliss was sitting on the top turnbuckle. Deep red liquid dripped from her mouth. Edge then hit a spear on a distracted Orton for the win. “What did we just witness?” asked Saxton. Phillips called it closure for the Rated-R Superstar as he is full steam ahead to WrestleMania.
WINNER: Edge in 15:00.