SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
KELLER’S WWE RAW REPORT
NOVEMBER 29, 2021
UNIONDALE, N.Y. AT UBS ARENA
AIRED ON USA NETWORK
Commentators: Jimmy Smith, Byron Saxton, Corey Graves
-As the camera panned the fans up-close Jimmy Smith introduced the show and touted “an absolutely stacked” episode of Raw.
-Seth Rollins made his ring entrance as the announcers hyped the top matches scheduled for Raw and Edge’s return. They aired a clip of what he did to Finn Balor last week. Smith said Seth has a huge surprise announcement. Seth said after last week, fans might expect him to be in a bad mood. He cackled and then said he’s Seth “Freakin'” Rollins and no one can keep him down. (Not even a fan jumping him in the aisle.) He then sang, “I’ve got a secret!” He said it’s official that at Day One in Atlanta, Ga., it’ll be him challenging Big E for the WWE Title. Finn Balor charged to the ring and tackled Seth. Balor knocked him into the announce desk and then rammed him with the ringside steps. The ref asked Seth if he wanted to wrestle as the announcers wondered if the match would even take place. Seth said, “Ring the bell!” Smith said you have to credit Seth’s heart.
(1) SETH ROLLINS vs. FINN BALOR
Balor dropkicked Seth as soon the bell rang, then went for a top rope move. Seth rolled to the floor. Balor landed a flying flip dive onto Seth. They cut to a break [c]
Back from the break, Balor was still in control. Seth avoided a Coup de Grace attempt; Balor avoided a subsequent Stomp. Seth countered Balor with an eye poke of Balor followed by a stomp for the three count.
WINNER: Rollins 9:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: The energy level of the first 17 minutes was frenetic. Seth and Balor really brought the high-energy and intensity.)
-A clip aired of Liv Morgan interrupting Becky Lynch last week.
-Becky Lynch made her ring entrance for the contract signing after the break. [c]
-They went backstage to Vince McMahon on his phone in a room thankfully filled with acoustic tiles. Austin Theory entered. Vince said, “Good to see you, kid.” Theory said, “How are you? Good to see you.” McMahon said he hates when people ask how he is. He said they don’t want to know and really don’t care. He said he has an earache, an ingrown toe nail, and irritable bowel syndrome. “That’s phony crap,” he said. “What wasn’t phony was your championship match against Big E last week.” He asked if he was ready for it. A clip aired of last week’s segment where Vince told Sami Zayn that he doesn’t like a snitch and gave Theory the title match. McMahon told Theory that he’s going to watch all of Raw with him in his office. He said they will see how people respond to the unexpected. He added, “If you ever steal from me again, I will kill you.” Theory gulped and nodded as McMahon gave him a threatening smile.
-Becky entered the ring where Sonya Deville stood at a table to introduce her. Becky told Sonya to introduce Livvy. Liv came out looking much more like a serious person with a gameface on instead of someone trying to get votes from drunk guys at a wet t-shirt contest. Becky said she was proud of her last week for showing some fire, but it didn’t last long. Becky said she has nothing to prove, and she’s already signed the contract. She told “Tonya” (Sonya) to tell Liv how long she has to decide if she wants to face her. Sonya revealed it’s next Monday on Raw. Becky stood and told the fans in the arena they must feel great about next week getting her in a title defense. She said given how crappy their hockey team is, they aren’t ready for Big Time Becks in a title match.
Liv interrupted her and told her to just shut up. She said at least she wasn’t a big blubbering mess like Becky was after her match against Charlotte at Survivor Series. She threw to a clip of Becky crying after the match about all that she and Charlotte had been through and yet they despise each other and want to rip each other apart now. She said she didn’t break her arm like she set out to do, and she’s not sure if she’s happy or sad about that, but she’s glad she won. Liv said, “Who knew that Big Time Becks cried like such a baby.” Liv her big fat contract is why her friends are gone. “You’re nothing but a bully,” she said. “How does it feel becoming everything you once despised.” She told Becky that she’s not the Becky she once admired and she’s not the Liv she once left behind. Liv said if last week’s punch didn’t prove that point to her, her next one will. Sonya stepped between them.
Becky said emotions run high after big time matches, something Liv wouldn’t know about. She added, “Some of us deserve to get paid.” She said if Liv thinks she can be leader, she pitched to Sonya and Adam Pearce earlier a ten-woman tag match with each of them as captains. She told her to show her leadership. Sonya presented the teams on the big screen. It was Becky & Doupdrop & Tamina & Queen Zelina Vega & Carmella vs. LIiv & Bianca Belair & Rhea Ripley & Dana Brooke & Nikki A.S.H. Liv said Becky is way too selfish to be a real leader, so she accepts her challenge. She threw the mic and stared at Becky, who held her belt high. Byron said they kept upping the ante of emotion.
(Keller’s Analysis: It seemed they were aiming for an epic segment along the lines of MJF and C.M. Punk last week. Liv put in her best performance yet on the mic, and Becky was her usual excellent self. They worked hard to get the crowd to turn on Becky, including Becky insulting the local pro hockey game that plays in that arena, but the digs at Becky’s emotional promo didn’t seem to work with the fans. Becky showed what felt like genuine emotion, and so much of Raw feels put-on and scripted, that being critical of that didn’t seem worthy of cheering. Becky also had good comebacks about having elevated emotions after big time matches and being worth the paycheck she gets. I think Becky scored more points.)
-Riddle walked up to Randy Orton and said he thought he was going to dress up as him this week. He was wearing his new “Hey Raaandy ” t-shirt. Orton asked why he should do that. Riddle explained in rambling fashion his reasoning. Orton cut him off and said they have to go defend their tag titles, and if he thinks he’s going to ride his scooter to the ring barefoot, “you’re even more brain dead than I previous thought!” Riddle looked hurt. Orton actually seemed regretful he was so harsh. He said to keep the tag titles, they have to be more ruthless than everyone else and stay ten steps ahead of the competition. Riddle said he understands, then he begged Randy to close his eyes. Riddle then put a blond wig on Orton’s head. Orton looked in the mirror. Orton told him he had two seconds to take it off his head. Riddle quickly complied. He told him not to do that again. Riddle said, “Sorry, Randy.” [c]
(2) RANDY ORTON & RIDDLE vs. DOLPH ZIGGLER & ROBERT ROODE – WWE Raw Tag Team Title match
After some early back and forth action in the ring, Roode and Ziggler got the better of Orton and Riddle at ringside around the announce desk. They cut to a break. [c]
Roode had Orton grounded after the break. Orton escaped with a back suplex and then tagged in Riddle, who was all fired up on the ring apron. Riddle gave Roode a draping DDT off the middle rope, then tagged Orton back in. Orton and Riddle played to the crowd together, then signaled for stereo RKOs, but Ziggler and Roode blocked it. Ziggler then caught Orton with a Zig Zag for near fall. Ziggler pounded the mat in frustration. Ziggler went for a superkick next, but Orton blocked it and landed an RKO for the win.
WINNERS: Orton & Riddle in 11:00 to retain the Raw Tag Team Titles.
(Keller’s Analysis: Good match. Not everything specifically that Orton and Riddle do is funny or entertaining, but some of it is, and overall the vibe between them feels believable and endearing.)
-Kevin Owens told Seth that if he beats Big E tonight, he gets added to the WWE Title match at Day One. Seth broke into laughter and said, “That’s good. Do you have any more jokes?” KO said he’s not kidding. Seth said it’s his match, not their match. KO told Seth to go check with “the bald guy” Pearce. Seth said he doesn’t believe him because he’s a liar.
-Edge made his ring entrance. Graves said, “It’s time to crank Monday Night Raw to 11!” Saxton said you can’t go wrong when someone of Edge’s stature is drafted to your brand. Edge smiled and shook hands with fans. [c]
-Seth asked Pearce “what the hell is Kevin Owens talking about.” Seth relayed what KO told him. Pearce laughed too early before Seth got to the details, then said he should know better than to trust KO. He said he hasn’t even seen him today. Seth said KO is lying. Pearce said it never happened. Seth said that’s great that it’s his match at Day One. Deville then walked in and asked what that was all about. Pearce explained it and said it’s not a bad idea.
(Keller’s Analysis: You could see that coming. KO told Seth a lie which, by verifying it wasn’t true, would plant the seed with Pearce and Deville and thus make it happen.)
-Edge stood mid-ring and said this is the greatest job in the world. He said Seth is operating on a different level right now and he deserves his opportunity against Big E. He said what he wants to talk about is being “on Raw on Strong Island.” He said he is interested in new opponents such as A.J. Styles, Owens, Balor, Damian Priest, and Big E. He said Big E with special emphasis as he looked at the camera. The Miz then interrupted Edge. “Oh yes!” exclaimed Graves. “This is Christmas come early!” Miz walked out with Maryse. They kissed. They cut to a video package on Miz on “Dancing with the Stars,” an ABC network dance competition series.
Miz and Maryse were in the ring with Edge after the highlights aired. “They gave you the big return treatment,” he said. He complained that they put out a press release about Edge being back. “You’ve been gone, what, a month?” he said. He asked if he’s just living for the big comeback now. He said in the mean time, he was representing WWE on a big stage proving they are the greatest entertainers in the world. He said when he’s not Raw, he’s enhancing WWE in other ways. He resented fans not clamoring for his return. He said he represents his wife Maryse, whom he said is back. He asked Edge if he’s not on his radar because he didn’t mention his name. Edge said he thought he was still painting himself like a genie and dancing.
Maryse told Edge when he was busy chopping wood, Miz was actually busy being the most entertaining and charismatic dancer on the whole show. Edge asked if Miz came in ninth place. Fans laughed. Miz said in his mind he won. He blamed the most loyal fanbase in entertainment for failing to vote for him. “While I was dancing with the stars, you were dancing with a body riddled with injuries, weren’t you, Edge?” he said. Edge said Seth could have just gone to Pearce and Deville and asked for what he deserves, but he didn’t do that because he had an agenda. He said by interrupting him, it puts him instantly in the main event picture.
Edge said he could get the crowd to yell “Miz sucks!” at the count of three. He counted to three. Fans yelled it. Then it turned into a chant. Miz said, “How dare you!” He said he is an era-defining superstar who deserves respect. He said he didn’t come out there to place himself in the main event picture because he was WWE champion earlier this year. He asked Edge when the last time he held a major title. He said Edge was opening match at WrestleMania when he headlined against John Cena. He said Edge has had a career most wrestlers only dream of, but he surpassed him a long time ago. He told Edge he should have stayed home for good. Edge said if he hears him right, he is saying he can’t do this for much longer. Edge said that’s true. He said he has a small window, but he fought with every fiber of his being to get that small window. He said everyone in the locker room wants to test themselves against him, and he said that’s respect that Miz doesn’t have. He said Miz could have it, but he’s too busy complaining about what he doesn’t have. He said he will give Miz the pat on the back he so desires. Edge said Miz made it to the top after starting at Tough Enough. He said he beat Cena at WrestleMania with The Rock as special enforcer. He said he has people on other shows saying his name “just to get a cheap reaction.” (That drew some boos.) “You live rent-free in lot of heads,” Edge said. He said he has built himself an empire and lives in a mansion in the Hollywood Hills. He said he has made it further than anyone thought he could. He said he made his happen.
Edge said Miz doesn’t wrestle for the same reasons he does, though. He said Miz does it to get another endeavor or reality show “while you leave your partners high and dry to get fired.” (Oooh’s from the crowd.) Edge said the difference between them is that Miz demand respect while he earns it. He dared Miz to “dance” right there. Miz began taking off his elaborate outfit. It took a comically long time, and then he said, “No.” He threw the mic down and left the ring, holding the ropes open for Maryse.
(Keller’s Analysis: That was a really fun segment. Edge and Miz were really good here. Apparently MJF and C.M Punk inspired a lot of tonight’s Raw so far. The comment about Miz’s name being mentioned on another show was smart because it’ll put Raw in the conversation on social media with AEW fans who have stopped watching Raw. It’s the most prominent, high profile acknowledgment of AEW on a big WWE TV show yet. Everything felt real enough to resonate and it established why you’d root for Edge over Miz.)
-A clip aired of The Street Profits spraying A.J. Styles and Omos with a fire extinguisher last week.
-Sarah Schreiber walked up to Styles and Omos backstage and asked about the Profits using the extinguisher last week. Styles was claiming to have been blinded by the spray last week. He said Omos had to trim his beard and he said doctors say he might never see fully again. He said they literally gave him smoke right in his eyes. Fans cheered. Styles said, “When there’s smoke, there’s fire.” He said the Profits will get burned. Omos led Styles away, preventing him walking into rolling crates.
-The Street Profits made their ring entrance. [c]
(1) THE STREET PROFITS vs. OTIS & CHAD GABLE
Omos led Styles to ringside. Graves applauded Styles’s bravery. Styles almost tripped on the ringside steps. Styles sat at ringside. He kept asking Graves what was happening and Graves detailed the sequences in the ring for him. Ford flip dove onto Otis at ringside, then climbed to the top rope to leap at Gable. Styles leaped onto the ring apron, miraculously able to see again. Ford knocked him off the ring apron, then landed a frog splash on Gable for the win. Omos stood over Styles and looked disappointed with how things played out. He apparently didn’t know Styles was faking being blind.
WINNERS: The Profits in 4:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: It sure seems Otis’s push has been downgraded to one-half of a losing tag team in the lower-mid-card.)
-McMahon asked Theory how he felt about Styles. “I thought it was pretty good,” Theory said. McMahon said it freaking horrible because you could see it coming from a mile away. Theory said he is right. McMahon said he has to be more attentive. He told Theory to look at him when he talks to him. Theory apologized and looked at him.
(Keller’s Analysis: Are Vince and Austin being written to resemble the Tom Wambsgams and Greg on “Succession” just a little? It’s a fun glimpse into what it’s actually like to deal with Vince, and he’s more than willing to play that up for the camera apparently. Theory is playing the role as wide-eyed and innocent and eager to please as Greg on “Succession.”)
-They showed Dana Brooke winning the 24/7 Title last week, then having a friendly chat with Reggie backstage.
-Damian Priest made his ring entrance. His entrance theme’s opening notes resemble the Road Warrior’s “Iron Man” entrance theme. [c]
(2) DAMIAN PRIEST vs. APOLLO CREWS (w/Commander Azeez) – U.S Title match
Saxton said this was Apollo’s first match on Raw since being drafted to the show. When they fought at ringside, Azeez distracted Priest and then Crews hit him with a high knee. They cut to an early break. [c]
The ref kicked Azeez out of ringside after he kept getting involved in the match. Priest then landed a chokeslam and The Reckoning for the win.
WINNER: Priest in 8:00 to retain the U.S. Title.
-Seth approached Pearce and Deville and said he wants them to stop KO from spreading the rumors that he could be added to the Day One PPV main event. Pearce said Deville thinks it’s a good idea. Seth yelled that Pearce lied to him. Pearce said KO lied to him. Seth yelled that KO told him the truth. “What is going on?!” Seth said as he stormed away. Pearce told Deville, “Well, that went well.”
-Rey and Dominic Mysterio made their ring entrance. [c]
(3) REY & DOMINIK MYSTERIO vs. CEDRIC ALEXANDER & SHELTON BENJAMIN
Rey and Dominik hit stereo 619s at 2:00. Dominik landed a top rope frog splash on Cedric seconds after Rey dove onto Shelton at ringside. Smith said, “Talk about getting back on track, that’s what it’s all about.”
WINNERS: Mysterios in 3:00.
-Smith threw to a clip of the Becky-Liv segment earlier.
-Liv’s team made their ring entrances for the next match. [c]
-A video package aired of Smackdown highlights.
(4) LIV MORGAN & BIANCA BELAIR & RHEA RIPLEY & NIKKI A.S.H. & DANA BROOKE vs. BECKY LYNCH & DOUDROP & QUEEN ZELINA VEGA & TAMINA & CARMELLA
Carmella did her bit where her assistants put her mask on her face right after the bell rang. Morgan and Becky started the match. Morgan got in early offense, but then Becky avoided her running elbow and tagged out. Belair went for her KOD finisher a minute later, but Lynch and Doudrop blocked it. As the heels gathered at ringside, they cut to a break. [c]
Graves and Saxton bickered for a while. Graves said, “That’s why they pay me to make the jokes” after something Saxton said fell flat. Graves made a Sally Jesse Rafael reference seconds earlier, so Saxton is still ahead on points. Ripley clotheslined Carmella, and Carmella acted like she was injured. The ref backed Ripley away. Ripley then slammed Carmella’s face into the mat. She kneed her and then went for a dropkick, but Carmella rolled out of the way. Carmella applied her Code of Silence leglock submission, but Brooke broke it up. Zelina entered and kneed Brooke. Nikki then gave Zelina a neckbreaker. Tamina then gave Nikki a Samoan Drop. Belair then gave Tamina her KOD. Doupdrop then headbutted Belair followed by her crossbody. Liv pulled the ropes down so Doupdrop crashed to the floor. Becky gave Liv an inverted DDT. Ripley tossed Becky out of the ring. Carmella then superkicked Ripley for a near fall. They cut to a break. [c]
Zelina met Brooke on the top rope after the break. Carmella joined them and shoved Brooke off the top rope into the arms of her partners at ringside. Morgan gave Carmella a step-up enzuigiri, knocked Becky off the ring apron, and then turned and was kicked by Tamina leading to a near fall. Liv came back with her Oblivion finisher on Tamina for the win.
WINNERS: Team Liv in 11:00.
-Becky attacked Morgan. Doudrop and Belair battled elsewhere in the ring. Everyone else fought at ringside. Belair gave Doudrop a spinebuster. The announcers hyped Becky vs. Liv next week as Team Liv celebrated in the ring. Becky said, “Where’s my title?! Where’s my title!?”
-Back with Vince and Theory, Vince asked Theory to look at him. He asked if Becky’s team expected that. Theory said probably not. Vince said you have to expect the unexpected. Vince said if it is a surprise you’re screwed, but if you expect a surprise, then it’s a real surprise. Theory said he understands, but then looked to the side. Vince snapped, “Stop looking that way, dammit!”
-Big E was wiping the mouth Kevin Patrick, either because he was wearing lipstick or he was sweating. The announcers hyped Big E vs. KO was next. [c]
-A brief vignette aired of Veer Mahaan highlights. It said he is coming to Raw, but no date yet.
-A three minute biographical vignette aired on Bobby Lashley working out in a gym with narrated footage of him as an amateur wrestler and pictures of him in the Army.
-Backstage, Patrick interviewed Big E who said he fears no man and no Kevins. He said a triple threat match would make it more difficult for him to retain his baby, meaning his belt. He called KO a duplicitous scourge. He said he plans to kick off 2022 with a bang and retaining his WWE Title. “Now you gotta feel that, sucka!” he said.
(Keller’s Analysis: Big E went back to being his natural goofball self, but this worked pretty well in terms of the content and delivery. It didn’t feel just shock-value weird or creepy weird, but just eccentric with a focus on specifics of his situation as a defending champion.)
-Kevin Owens made his ring entrance. [c]
(5) BIG E vs. KEVIN OWENS
As the match was about to begin, Seth’s music played. He joined the announcers and immediately began complaining about being lied to by Pearce. He said he was deceived and thrown astride. “I’m a mess,” he said. Graves said he looks good. (“Compliment tunnel”?) Seth thanked him and agreed. Big E and KO brawled at ringside as Seth again yelled about being lied to. He cheered for Big E. Saxton was surprised he’d cheer for Big E, so Graves explained to Saxton that if KO wins, it helps Seth at Day One have a better chance to become champion. When Seth pounded on the table and chanted “Go Big E!” in KO’s face, KO slapped the headset off of him. Seth leaped onto the ring apron seconds later. KO asked what he’ll do about it. Seth said he is too smart for his crap. Graves said Seth knew what KO was up to because if Seth got involved, KO would win by DQ and then advance to the title match at Day One. KO then climbed to the top rope, but Big E knocked him down and then hit a running splash on the ring apron. Big E then pointed at Seth. Seth yelled, “I’m rooting for you, I’m on your side!” KO then surprised Big E with a DDT on the ringside steps. [c]
Saxton pitched Seth that it’s be great for his legacy if he could say he beat Big E and KO. Seth thought that was smart and complimented Saxton, while adding he doesn’t like him, but then he thought better of it. Seth said it reduces his chances of winning. Graves made fun of “WWE math” with a random percentage. They broke into a rapid-fire sequence of big moves and near falls, some of which made Seth very nervous. KO was going to climb to the top rope, but he turned and attacked Seth instead. Graves said Seth had nothing to do with this match. When KO returned to the ring apron, Big E grabbed him. KO snapped his neck over the top rope, then hit a Stunner. Big E came back with a clothesline. Seth then attacked KO for the DQ. Saxton said, “Seth just screwed himself! He took the bait!”
WINNER: KO via DQ in 15:00.
-Seth then gave Big E a stomp. After the ring announcer made the Triple Threat match official, KO bragged, “I got you!” Seth threw a fit in the ring as the show ended.
(Keller’s Analysis: I am surprised that Vince McMahon didn’t surprise either Theory or someone in this match with a surprise, but the surprise was the unexpected happening, which was the expected – whatever that was – not happening. Or something. I’m sure he gave Theory a lot to think about, at least. As for the match, it was good. Seth was sufficiently obnoxious on commentary. KO is a tweener in this one, and likely will be the reason Big E retains.)