WWE Monday Night Raw Review (2/10/20)

Venue: Toyota Arena (Ontario, CA)

Show Summary

The show began with Seth Rollins, Buddy Murphy and AOP standing in the middle of the ring. Rollins called for a replay video of last week’s match, which Rezar won by pinning Kevin Owens. Seth said they are here to preach a message of oneness and unity and they would not leave the ring until their message is heard. Kevin Owens came out to confront Rollins and his disciples. Seth reminded KO about how Samoa Joe and Ivar hurt themselves trying to help him. He warned him that if you stand alone, you will fall alone.

Owens responded to Rollins by saying that he not only sounds stupid but looks stupid too. He was then joined by the Viking Raiders and they burst down to the ring to brawl. While Rollins stood in the ring, Samoa Joe surprised him from behind with a Coquina Clutch. After a stunner to Murphy, Owens, Joe and the Raiders stood tall. Their celebration was short-lived, however. Becky Lynch’s music blared, signaling her Raw Women’s Title match with Asuka was up next.

Asuka, joined by Kairi Sane, mocked and laughed at Lynch as she made her way down to the ring. The match began with a fight for control, which Asuka won by locking in a headlock. Becky was eventually able to gain the advantage for a brief period of time but Asuka countered with a knee and a sit out spinebuster. On the outside, Kairi sacrificed herself by pushing Asuka out of the way of a leaping Becky and absorbing the blow. Back in the ring, Lynch went for a move off the second rope but Asuka was able to catch her with a double knee strike.

After locking in a disarm-her in the ropes, Becky teased a suplex before reversing positions and slamming Asuka spine first onto the apron. After a commercial break, Asuka had a submission locked in but Becky was able to scoop her up and slam her to the mat to garner a near fall. Lynch looked to put away Asuka with a leg drop off the top rope but Asuka moved out of the way. The two went back and forth, both rolling up the other for near falls before Becky was able to hit a Rock Bottom and pick up a pinfall victory. After the match, Shayna Baszler attacked the champion from behind, took out her mouthpiece and bit Becky on the back of her neck. Baszler stood up and screamed as blood dripped out of her mouth. Lynch wailed in pain and asked the ref to check her neck. The medics then came out and helped her to the back as she tried to assure them that she was fine.

Backstage, Becky told the medics that she didn’t need to go to the hospital because it was just a flesh wound.

Mojo Rawley and Riddick Moss had a brief pre-match interaction in the ring with the Street Profits. Montez Ford accused Rawley of riding Rob Gronkowski’s coattails. Moss and Angelo Dawkins started things off. Dawkins quickly drilled Moss with a spinebuster and Ford finished him with a frog splash off the top rope. After the match, Moss surprised Rawley with a roll-up pin to become the new 24/7 Champion.

Outside in the parking lot, medics tried to load Becky in the ambulance. She agreed to go to the hospital but only on her own terms. She then grabbed the driver, pulled him out, hopped in the driver’s seat and sped off.

MVP hosted Drew McIntyre in his VIP Lounge. MVP talked about the good and the bad times the two had in the past. He said he was proud Drew was finally reaching his potential. MVP told McIntyre that he shouldn’t listen to the doubters who think he’s not ready to be WWE Champion. MVP told Drew he needed a veteran mentor to guide him through the process. McIntyre asked MVP if he wanted to be his version of Paul Heyman and he agreed. Drew said the difference between him and Brock Lesnar is that he didn’t need a business manager kissing his ass. Drew went to leave but MVP grabbed him and warned not to turn his back on him. McIntyre responded with a Glasgow Kiss, ripped his shirt off and sent the veteran flying over a couch with a Claymore Kick.

Zelina Vega introduced a video highlight of Angel Garza’s altercations with Humberto Carrillo and Rey Mysterio from last week. Garza said that he’s a man’s man because no man can measure up and a lady’s man because no woman can resist him. Humberto then came storming out to beat on his cousin before security subdued him. A flustered Garza then entered the ring to do battle with Cedric Alexander. The two ended up on the outside, where Angel teased stripping the mats but Alexander recomposed himself before he could. Back in the ring, Garza ripped off his pants and nailed Cedric with a wing clipper to pick up the win.

Backstage, Charly Caruso asked Rhea Ripley if she was still waiting on an answer from Charlotte Flair. Ripley said she doesn’t wait for things, she gets out and gets what she wants. Sarah Logan broke up the interview and confronted Rhea. Logan asked Ripley why she thought she could just come to Raw and do whatever she wanted. The NXT Women’s Champion responded by saying, “I’m Rhea Ripley, who are you?” before walking off as Sarah stood and sighed.

Sarah Schreiber interviewed Lana and Bobby Lashley. Lana said it was Bobby’s dream to face Brock Lesnar and that Ricochet got lucky and stole Lashley’s opportunity. Bobby said that he doubted Ricochet was even going to make it to SuperShowdown after facing him. Lana then shooed Sarah away.

Sarah Logan came out and said she will defend her turf by any means necessary and demanded that Rhea come out to face her. Rhea obliged. Before the match could start, Charlotte Flair’s music hit and she made her way to the top of the ramp to observe Ripley beating down Logan. Rhea made quick work of Sarah, finishing her off with a Riptide. After the match, she grabbed a mic and called Charlotte out for not answering her challenge on either Raw or NXT last week. Flair said she wondered whether Rhea would still even be the Women’s Champion after her match with Bianca Belair at Takeover Portland on Sunday.

Charly caught up with Ricochet before he made his way through the curtain and asked him what he thought about Bobby’s strong words. Ricochet said he never backed down from a fight before and he doesn’t intend on doing it now. As the crowd chanted Rusev Day, Ricochet said facing Brock Lesnar is the biggest opportunity of his career and nobody is going to stop him from walking, limping or crawling into SuperShowdown.

Ricochet scored the first big move of the match, connecting on a flip over the top rope onto Bobby Lashley on the outside. His momentum was short-lived. Lashley soon took control of the match, tossing Ricochet head-first into the ring post and back-first into the barricade before throwing him back into the ring to inflict more punishment. Ricochet was able to buy some time to recover with a step up enziguri. He was able to capitalize with a flurry of moves, including a springboard cross body and a standing shooting star press, which got a near fall. Lashley didn’t stay down for long. He nailed Ricochet with a thunderous spinebuster before propping him up on the top rope and tossing him off. Somehow, Ricochet was able to flip over and land on his feet and stun Bobby with multiple running dropkicks. He then finished off Lashley with a 630.

Randy Orton came down to the ring to cut a promo. Orton was only able to get out a single sentence, “What I did to Edge hurt me more than it hurt him” before Matt Hardy’s music interrupted him. Hardy said that although he and Edge had their bad blood, they were once friends with the same dream. Matt said he and Edge helped to revolutionize the TLC match and stole the show at Wrestlemania. Hardy said his ill-feelings towards Edge vanished when he saw his one-time friend had to retire prematurely. He said Randy took away Edge’s miraculous return and asked what the hell was wrong with him. Orton tried to stun Matt with an RKO but Hardy fought back briefly before Randy was able to finally hit him with it. He then rolled outside the ring, grabbed two steel chairs and delivered the same devastating sandwich chair shot to the head he gave to Edge.

Backstage, Sarah interviewed Ruby Riott, asking her why she had such animosity for Liv Morgan. Riott said that she didn’t buy into Morgan’s transformation, so she came back to put Liv in her place.

Aleister Black made quick work of Akira Tozawa, finishing him off with a Black Mass. After the match, Aleister grabbed a microphone and said he was appreciative of each and every person here tonight. He said he knows a thing or two about rebelling against paradise and that he feels like an animal inside of a cage. He said anyone who ventures out to face him will be trapped in a metaphorical cage with him.

Becky returned in the ambulance and stormed back into the arena. She made her way out to the ring and delivered a message to Shayna, telling her she was going to smash her face in and break her down week by week, little by little.

The main event was a four-on-four tag match, pitting Seth Rollins, Buddy Murphy and AOP against Kevin Owens, Samoa Joe and the Viking Raiders. The match started off with Rollins and his disciples taking turns beating on Erik. After a brief glimpse of hope provided by Ivar, it was Kevin Owens’ turn to get worked over. Samoa Joe and the Viking Raiders provided one of the highlights of the night with a synchronized three-man suicide dive. Not be outdone, Owens went up top and hit a cannonball to the outside onto a group that included both friends and foes. The finish was Samoa Joe locking in the Coquina Clutch on Murphy who tapped while the ref had his back turned to deal with Rezar trying to run into the ring. Rollins took advantage of the blind spot and stomped Joe’s head into the canvas, which allowed Murphy to flop onto him and get the pin.

Final Thoughts

This week’s show featured the beginning of yet another Wrestlemania feud. With Ronda Rousey apparently not coming back for Mania, Shayna Baszler seems like the logical challenger for a feud with Becky Lynch for the Raw Women’s Championship. Following the conclusion of a long dominant title reign in NXT, it’s time for Baszler to make the move up to the main roster. There’s no bigger or better way to debut than to do it in a spotlight title match at the company’s biggest show of the year against one of the WWE’s most popular stars. The lackluster triple-threat match at Survivor Series between Becky, Baszler and Bayley is a cause for concern, but a singles program between just Shayna and Becky should hopefully end up clicking better. Their build to the Survivor Series match was well done, which is probably why the match felt so disappointing.

The Lynch storyline was clearly the key point of tonight’s show. But there was other good stuff as well. Ricochet won over the crowd with an exciting performance against Bobby Lashley. Drew McIntyre got another encouraging reaction from the crowd in a segment with MVP, who is clearly better suited for promos instead of in-ring action at this point in his career.

The Matt Hardy-Randy Orton interaction seemed like a placeholder but it did at least get a little more heat for Orton. Given Hardy’s soon expiring contract, it may be a goodbye to him as well.

For the second week in a row, Angel Garza looked like a natural and showed that not only does he belong on the main roster full time but that he’s got the type of charisma to be one of the future stars of the show. A potential stable of him, Vega and Andrade could be gold.

After two weeks of multi-man tag matches featuring Kevin Owens against Seth Rollins’ crew, the main event didn’t have quite a fresh feel, but it was fine for what it was, It was a nice welcome back for Samoa Joe, even though he was the one who ultimately ate the pin.

Aleister Black had another strange promo. This week, instead of talking about shadows, he discussed cages. Could that be a hint at an eventual feud with Eric Rowan, who along with his caged pet was absent from tonight’s show?

They’re prolonging the Charlotte challenge acceptance until after Takeover, which is understandable, but if that’s the course of action, they probably could have just saved the big Rhea challenge spot until next week and kept the focus primarily on her match with Bianca Belair at Takeover. The Charlotte involvement has forced Belair into third wheel territory for no real reason since there’s still plenty of time until Wrestlemania.

Rusev was once again absent from the show. Who knows what his direction will be now that Lana and Lashley have seemed to move on to new things and Liv Morgan is now set up for a feud with Ruby Riott. Ultimately, the whole Lana/Lashley/Rusev/Liv storyline didn’t seem to benefit any party involved.

Overall, it was a good show with a pretty responsive crowd. The Kevin Owens, Joe and Viking Raiders gang versus Rollins and his disciples angle looks like it will continue, but there needs to be some type of new dynamic added to freshen things up a bit in the coming weeks. The multi-man matches feel recycled. It might be time to laser in the focus on Rollins and Owens as a singles program.

WWE Monday Night Raw Review (2/3/20)

Venue: Vivint Smart Home Arena (Salt Lake City, UT)

Show Summary

The show began with a recap video of Randy Orton’s attack on Edge to end last week’s episode. Orton came down to the ring and earned loud boos from an unforgiving crowd that taunted Randy with “Edge” chants. After a few minutes, Randy gave up, dropped the microphone and walked to the back as the fans made their displeasure loudly apparent.

The first match of the night was a rematch of Liv Morgan and Lana, which Morgan quickly won in a nearly identical finish as last week’s victory. Ruby Riott surprised Liv after the match. Ruby smiled and went to give her old friend a hug before slamming her and beating her down as Lana looked on and smiled. Lana slammed Morgan to the canvas and shrieked before walking off as Morgan laid crying in the middle of the ring.

Drew McIntyre got an encouraging reaction from the fans when he came out to face 24/7 champion Mojo Rawley in a non-title match. McIntyre thanked the fans and warned Rawley that a Claymore Kick was in his near future. Drew discussed Brock Lesnar’s postmatch attack last week, which he said occurred because Brock is apprehensive about facing him at Wrestlemania 36. McIntyre fulfilled on his promise and drilled Mojo with a Claymore Kick to pick up a victory in just a few seconds. Riddick Moss is certainly not flourishing in his new role as Rawley’s bodyguard.

Backstage, Charly Caruso talked with Seth Rollins, Buddy Murphy and AOP. Charly asked Rollins about his triple-threat match with Bobby Lashley and Ricochet with a chance to face Brock Lesnar at Super ShowDown. The Beast Slayer said that he’s beaten Lesnar twice before and that he’ll beat him again in Saudi Arabia.

Kevin Owens and The Viking Raiders squared off with AOP and Murphy in a six-man tag team elimination match. Murphy and AOP worked over Erik for a bit to start off before a fired up Ivar made his way into the ring with a head full of steam and turned the tide back in the favor of the Raiders and KO. Ivar took a nasty bump face first into the LED board, which distracted the referee long enough for Seth to stomp Erik on the outside and throw him back into the ring to get pinned by Murphy. After the elimination of Erik, the officials came down to a bring a shoulder-favoring Ivar to the back, leaving Owens facing a dire 3-on-1 situation. Murphy and AOP took turns beating on Owens. KO eventually was able to knock down all three of his foes in succession, starting with a cannonball to Akam on the outside. He followed that up by tossing Rezar into the steps and superkicking Buddy. Kevin looked to put away Buddy with a swanton bomb but Murphy got the knees up. Owens hit a pop up powerbomb to put away one half of the Raw tag champs. He quickly pinned Akam after a stunner. A few superkicks to Rezar followed by a successful swanton bomb got a near fall. Seth distracted KO for long enough for Rezar to turn him inside out with a clotheline. Rezar finished off a Kevin with a few hard slams to end the match. The Monday Night Messiah’s three disciples all met at the top of the stage to celebrate.

Backstage, Charly interviewed Ricochet, who admitted that he’s not as big or strong as Bobby Lashley and didn’t have the game of Seth Rollins but what he does have is determination and promised to make the most of the opportunity presented to him.

Aleister Black finished off Eric Young in his usual quick, dominant fashion, knocking out Young with a Black Mass. After the match, Aleister grabbed a microphone and said he was going to engulf the Raw Locker room with shadows of black mass.

A video recap was shown of Humberto Carrillo delivering a DDT to Andrade on the exposed concrete last week. Carrillo came down to the ring and was surprised by Angel Garza and Zelina Vega, who said she found Humberto’s liability. Vega called Garza the hottest latino prospect. Garza told Carrillo that the reason he’s here is because he’s the leader of their family and that Humberto was a disgrace to him, their family and all latinos. An angered Humberto yanked the mic out of his cousin’s hand and started screaming at him before Vega slapped him and Angel began to attack him. The former Cruiserweight champion nailed Carrillo with a wing clipper before tossing him out of the ring and attempting to DDT him onto the exposed concrete at ringside. Luckily for Carrillo, Rey Mysterio ran out to stop the attack. Mysterio entered the ring and the two had an impromptu match.

Garza had a good showing in his debut, toeing the line between vicious heel and smiling cocky crowd taunter well. The two went back and forth before Garza attempted the first big move of the match, a moonsault off the second rope, which Rey was able to avoid. Angel was able to catch Rey running the ropes and knee him in the head. Mysterio was able to recover and looked to finish off the match with a 619 but Zelina yanked Garza out of the way at the last second. Mysterio was able to take out Garza with a cannonball over the top rope. On the outsize, Zelina shouted at Mysterio before Angel superkicked him from behind, dragged Rey over to the exposed concrete and hit him a DDT, which earned a disqualification.

2020 Women’s Royal Rumble winner Charlotte Flair came down to the ring and talked about who she plans on challenging at Wrestlemania. Flair said she’s already held both the Raw and Smackdown women’s titles multiple times and that she’s already beat both current champions Becky Lynch and Bayley. Flair acknowledged the crowd chanting for “Rhea” and said that she has love for NXT. NXT women’s champion Rhea Ripley interrupted Charlotte and reminded Flair that she’s never beaten Ripley but Rhea has beaten her. She challenged Charlotte and held up her belt. Flair responded by staring at her, walking away and giving one final woo at the top of the ramp.

Backstage, Sarah Schreiber asked Bobby Lashley if he was distracted because his new wife Lana lost her match earlier in the night. Lashley said he wasn’t distracted and confidently proclaimed that he was going to win tonight’s triple-threat match, beat Brock Lesnar at Super ShowDown and beat Drew McIntyre at Wrestlemania.

Asuka beat Natalya with an Asuka Lock. It was a 10-minute bout that felt about five minutes too long. After the match, Asuka called out Becky Lynch and said she wanted a rematch. Lynch said that beating Asuka at the Royal Rumble damn near gave her superpowers and she’d love to beat her ass again. Kairi Sane tried to attack the Raw Women’s champion from behind but Becky caught her and threw her out of the ring. Lynch said that was one of her superpowers now, she’s got eyes in the back of her head.

Seth Rollins cut an in-ring promo and told the fans that he will be the one to save the wrestling business and that he will be the one to beat Brock Lesnar and go on to successfully defend the WWE title against McIntyre at Wrestlemania. The triple-threat kicked off with some high-flying maneuvers by Ricochet. It didn’t take long for AOP and Buddy Murphy to take advantage of the no disqualification rules and come down to attack Ricochet and Bobby Lashley. Kevin Owens and Erik intervened with the help of two steel chairs, brawling with Akam & Rezar throughout the crowd and out of sight. Back in the ring, all three competitors took turns gaining a brief advantage before being thwarted. The highlight of the match was Lashley and Ricochet superplexing Seth Rollins from the top rope. With Rollins taken out and Lashley dazed, Ricochet was able to climb to the top and hit a 630 to put away Bobby and punch his ticket to Saudi Arabia. His celebration was short lived, however, since Brock Lesnar came down and immediately F-5ed him to a chorus of boos as the show went off the air.

Final Thoughts

The show started and ended with loud boos from the crowd, which is actually a good thing. At the start, Randy Orton was met with the level of boos and jeers that were reminiscent of Roman Reigns’ promo the night after he beat The Undertaker at Wrestlemania 34. They were so loud, Orton couldn’t even get a word out before frustratingly just deciding to leave. The show ended with Lesnar sending a message to Ricochet and robbing the crowd of the chance to properly celebrate one of the biggest wins of Ricochet’s WWE tenure.

The Lesnar-Ricochet title match up for Super ShowDown is an interesting pairing. the confrontation the two had on the Raw before the Royal Rumble, which ended with Lesnar low-blowing Ricochet, is a good starting point for what could be an interesting smaller, scrappy underdog takes on the big bully champion storyline. Obviously, Ricochet’s chances of victory are low but Lesnar has had some of his matches with smaller competitors in recent years such as Daniel Bryan, AJ Styles and Finn Balor. Hopefully, it isn’t just a quick suplex-filled squash match.

There didn’t seem to be much of a reason for a Liv Morgan and Lana rematch, considering Liv beat her clean last week. It did at least serve a purpose for Ruby Riott’s return and ultimate betrayal of her former friend and teammate.

The triple-threat main event was a little quicker than expected and was chopped up by a long outside attack sequence and a commercial break at a key point in the match.

The crowd had good passion and heat tonight. Rhea Ripley and Drew McIntyre both got positive reactions, which is encouraging, considering they’re both on track for spotlight matches at Wrestlemania, and they’ll benefit from investment and support from the fans.

Andrade’s 30-day suspension opens the door for a debuting Angel Garza, who was one of the best performers on NXT television since the show started on USA. Garza is loaded with charisma and a potential pairing with Zelina Vega should aid him in his transition if he is in fact making the move up to the main roster.

A Becky Lynch-Asuka rematch should be entertaining but it feels like a bit of a placeholder, especially since Lynch has already avenged her loss at the 2019 Rumble and beaten Asuka clean to retain her title.

Kevin Owens had another valiant individual effort tonight, as he once again faced tough odds following a tag partner’s injury.

Overall, the show lacked a big memorable moment like Orton attacking Edge last week, but in-ring, all the matches besides the two squashes and Lana vs. Liv, were entertaining and served a purpose. The action was helped by one of the more energetic and vocal crowds that Raw has had in a while.

New feuds such as Liv/Ruby, Brock/Ricochet, Charlotte/Rhea and Garza/Humberto were all kicked off and existing feuds such as Becky/Asuka and KO/Seth Rollins and his gang were built on. Raw is a show that has direction right now, which is no easy task considering there’s speed bump (the Super ShowDown show) right in the middle of the road to Wrestlemania.

WWE Monday Night Raw Review (1/27/20)

Venue: AT&T Center (San Antonio, TX)

Show Summary

The show began with a video recap highlight of Drew McIntyre interrupting WWE Champion Brock Lesnar’s destruction of early Royal Rumble participants, eliminating Lesnar and going on to win the Men’s Rumble.

The proper show began with a thrown together commentary team of Tom Phillips, Byron Saxton and Jerry Lawler advertising a tag bout pitting new champs Seth Rollins and Buddy Murphy against Kevin Owens and Samoa Joe, a US Title rematch of Andrade against Humberto Carrillo, Lana vs. Liv Morgan and female Rumble winner Charlotte’s announcement of her Wrestlemania opponent.

McIntyre came down to the ring and soaked in some “you deserve it” chants from the crowd. Drew wasted no time announcing that he will challenge Brock Lesnar in Tampa. The Scottish Claymore Kicker promised to defeat Lesnar and win the WWE title at Wrestlemania. He issued an open challenge to the Raw locker room, which Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows both answered. Without hesitation, McIntyre agreed to a handicap match. A quick Magic Killer tease was the only offense Anderson or Gallows were able to get in before Drew knocked both of them out with back-to-back Claymore Kicks and piled them up for the pin. After throwing The O.C. out of the ring, Drew turned back around and walked into a boot followed up by an F5 from a vengeance-seeking Lesnar. Brock held his title up and left his Mania challenger lying in a heap.

A promo package recapping MVP’s former tenure in the WWE was shown. The 46-year-old two-time US Champion squared off with Rey Mysterio in a bout that didn’t have the usual quick pace and excitement of recent Mysterio matches. Rey won with a splash off the top rope.

For the second week in a row, Aleister Black squashed a local talent in a matter of seconds, this time knocking out Kenneth Johnson with one Black Mass. After the match, Aleister grabbed a microphone and took accountability for being eliminated at the Royal Rumble. Black said he was no longer going to wait for someone to pick a fight with him, instead, he will bring the fight to the Raw locker room.

Seth Rollins came out with Buddy Murphy. Rollins told Drew McIntyre to enjoy the fan support while it lasts because the crowd will turn on him so fast. Rollins bragged about eliminating Kevin Owens and Samoa Joe in the Rumble and demanded that KO and Joe come down to face them in the ring. Owens came out and called Seth a delusional jackass and inquired about where AOP were hiding. Rollins said that Akam and Rezar were back in the his private dressing room and he had the live camera shot to prove it. Kevin thanked him for revealing their whereabouts. Apparently, the Viking Raiders had been backstage looking for them. Once they found their location, they attacked and brawled.

Joe and Kevin took turns beating on Buddy. The first big spot of the match came when Rollins and Murphy both ended up outside. Owens hit Seth with a cannonball while Joe dived through the ropes to take out Murphy on the other side of the ring. KO got the first near fall of the fight after delivering a pop up powerbomb to Rollins in the middle of the ring. Owens got another near fall on Murphy after hitting him with a Swanton Bomb from the top rope but Seth broke it up. Owens stunnered the Monday Night Messiah but Buddy surprised Kevin from behind with a roll-up pin from to retain the titles.

Backstage, Charly Caruso talked with Becky Lynch who said that after beating Asuka at the Rumble she realized she’s without a doubt better than every other woman in the locker room. After seeming unfazed by the thought of Charlotte challenging at her Wrestlemania, Becky turned and walked off, revealing the letters G.O.A.T. on the back of her leather jacket.

For some reason, Andrade had to put his US Title on the line for the second night in a row against Humberto Carrillo, a man he beat clean in the middle of the ring in Houston. Andrade dominated Carrillo early in front of a noticeably quiet crowd. After getting beaten up throughout most of the match, Carrillo looked like he might sneak away with the title after a moonsault from the top rope. Zelina Vega interrupted the pin attempt to cause a disqualification and save Andrade’s title. After the match, an enraged Humberto peeled back the pad on the outside and gave the US Champion the eye-for-an-eye treatment by slamming him down with a Hammerlock DDT on the exposed concrete. Vega then screamed, cried and begged for someone to come help Andrade.

Charlotte introduced a video recap showing how she won the women’s Royal Rumble. The Queen said that she has not yet made up her mind about which champion she will challenge at Wrestlemania. Asuka and Kairi Sane came down to the ring and double suplexed Charlotte, which set up an impromptu match. The two had the kind of physical back-and-forth match they usually do. After a spear failed to put Asuka away, Charlotte applied the figure eight which Kairi Sane broke up with an insane elbow, giving Charlotte a DQ victory. Charlotte repaid Sane by nailing her with a big boot.

Backstage, the Street Profits recapped the night’s action before being joined by Kelly Kelly, who received some playful flirting courtesy of Angelo Dawkins. They announced that the 24/7 title will be defended in the next match. Mojo Rawley came out with his “offensive lineman” Riddick Moss. Rawley said that the belt was no longer the “hide and go seek” championship. Mojo said he has Moss to watch his back and block any challenger. No Way Jose came out with his conga line and was quickly disposed of. Following the match, R-Truth, disguised as a cheeseburger, was able to sneak by Moss and pin Mojo from behind. Riddick and Rawley surrounded Truth. Mojo slammed him and pinned him to retain the title.

Liv Morgan and Lana had a clunky contest that somehow managed to get even less of a crowd reaction than No Way Jose. Liv pinned Lana clean after a flatliner off the middle rope. Jerry Lawler delivered the horrifying statement, “I have a feeling this isn’t over.”

Branden Vice got destroyed by Erick Rowan in a quick squash. Unlike his recent outings, Rowan had no interaction with his mystery pet this time around.

After getting lulled to sleep by a string of sub par matches, the crowd was awakened by a returning Edge. The 46-year-old Hall-of-Famer thanked the crowd for the warm welcome back. He talked about what it was like walking into the Rumble and seeing some old faces and some new ones as well. He brought up Randy Orton’s name, which got a positive reaction, and the name of Roman Reigns, which got a decidedly less positive reaction, and then rattled off some more names before saying he hopes to see all of those competitors down the road. He admitted that he didn’t know how long his final run would last, but he did hope the fans would join him for the ride. Judging by the “Yes!” chant from the crowd, the fans are more than welcome to hop on that bandwagon. Randy Orton interrupted the speech to come down and give Edge a hug. Orton talked about their history and welcomed him home. Randy wondered about what would happen if Rated RKO got back together again before surprising Edge with an RKO. He then grabbed a steel chair and slammed it into his back as Edge writhed in pain. The show ended with Orton placing his one-time teammate’s head on a chair and slamming down another chair on top of it as a chorus of boos rained down from the crowd.

Final Thoughts

Drew McIntyre’s opening squash match against The O.C. set the tone for the night. Three other squashes felt like overkill, especially the back-to-back affairs which ended with Mojo Rawley and Erick Rowan emerging victorious in front of a clearly disinterested crowd late in the show.

Kevin Owens had a strong performance in a tag team title match that otherwise felt like a step down in intensity in a feud was getting pretty hot in the lead up to the Rumble.

Charlotte vs. Asuka was well-worked but it was hurt by a cheap disqualification finish, the second of the night. It didn’t seem to serve much of a purpose unless the plan is to leave the door open for Charlotte to challenge for the tag team titles at Wrestlemania, since technically she can choose to challenge any champion. That seems like it would be a waste of a Rumble win, though.

Lana vs. Liv Morgan felt even more anticlimactic than last week’s mixed tag match. The lack of any Rusev or Bobby Lashley involvement didn’t make much sense either.

The Andrade vs. Humberto Carrillo and Rey Mysterio vs. MVP matchups were both forgettable. MVP looked slow and not in great ring shape. He definitely didn’t have the feel of someone who should be having a televised singles match on the WWE main roster at this point in his career. Fans just don’t care about Carrillo in a babyface in peril role. A post-match attack is at least the kind of character development he desperately needs.

The final segment featuring Randy Orton RKOing Edge and taking him out with a chair shot to the head was the clear highlight of the show. Unfortunately, it was a chore to get through the rest of the show just to get to that final moment.

The lack of a Charlotte announcement felt like a cop out, and there was little intrigue surrounding Drew’s decision, since it was obvious from how the Rumble unfolded that he would be challenging Brock Lesnar.

The Edge-Orton interaction was the only standout moment that felt truly meaningful. Everything else was forgettable, which is surprising and a bit concerning considering the “Road to Wrestlemania” is supposedly the time of the year when things are supposed to be heating up. The fact the next Saudi show will occur on Feb. 27 before Wrestlemania may mean the build to other Mania feuds will have to be put off for another month.

WWE Worlds Collide 2020 Review

Quality-wise, WWE Worlds Collide was a little better and featured a lineup that was obviously more star-studded than an average NXT Wednesday night show but in terms of drama and sheer suck-a-viewer-into-what’s-happening, it didn’t reach the heights or precedents set by normal NXT Takeover events. Ultimately, it came off feeling like a manufactured show that managed to be both enjoyable in the moment yet a bit forgettable in terms of importance in the NXT timeline.

WALTER was the star of the night, outshining NXT Champion Adam Cole in terms of fan reaction and adoration. Unfortunately, his counterparts in Imperium: Marcel Barthel, Fabian Aichner and Alexander Wolfe just did not seem like main event caliber performers. That hurts in a four-on-four final main event match situation. Barthel and Aichner put in the necessary effort when they were handed the ball, and it’s likely Wolfe would’ve done the same too if he hadn’t been knocked out by a Bobby Fish kick early in the match. Still, it was apparent that anytime they were in the ring, there was a noticeable drop off in terms of fan response and interest compared to the few stints Imperium’s head honcho received once he climbed in and did his damage.

WALTER being driven through a table by Roderick Strong felt like the emotional high spot of the match and probably even the show overall.

That may be because it was a show that didn’t feature many big moments.

Rhea Ripley had an unmemorable first title defense against Toni Storm. It was clear that no one in the crowd expected Storm to win or viewed her as much of a credible threat. Ripley did a decent job of selling her neck after being thrown blindly back first into the turnbuckle but the match largely fell flat.

DIY vs. Moustache Mountain was a fun back-and-forth that maybe was a little too fun and lacked the kind of urgency and intensity that Johnny Gargano & Tommaso Ciampa had in their epic Takeover tag team title bouts against The Revival and Authors of Pain.

The four-way Cruiserweight Title Match was an expected spotfest that ended in surprising fashion with Jordan Devlin pinning Isaiah Scott as champion Angel Garza failed to break up the pin in time. Garza has proven himself to be one of the best characters and performers on NXT since it debuted on USA. To take the title off of him in his first real big defense on a spotlight show is puzzling to say the least.

Finn Balor in a curtain-jerking position basically dwarfed and humiliated Ilja Dragunov in terms of crowd responses for entrances. After a huge pop for Balor, Dragunov got the cricket treatment to follow. Once the match started, the young Russian tried to get the fans on his side with a few “come on” arm waves and pleas during the match but it was to no avail. Houston was a pro-Prince crowd. Balor did his best to elevate his energized foe but few seemed to care.

Overall, this was a show that was basically a really good version of what an NXT weekly show could be if it was in front of a bigger crowd and there were no filler matches or squashes and instead just utilization of the biggest names available. This wasn’t a Takeover but it was entertaining for what it was: A light on storylines and builds two-and-half-hour show that featured some of the best talent that the NXT and NXT UK brands have to offer. The main takeaway from tonight is that WALTER once again proved he is beloved in his role as a dominant hard-hitting monster figure.

 

 

WWE Monday Night Raw Review (1/20/20)

Venue: INTRUST Bank Arena (Wichita, KS)

Show Summary

“Either you’re with us or you’re against us.” That was the battle line-drawing statement that Seth Rollins made to the Monday Night Raw locker room. It was clear which side Buddy Murphy, who Rollins referred to as the newest disciple of the Monday Night Messiah, chose to stand on. It didn’t take long for Murphy to find out that standing on Seth’s side meant having to fend off foes like Kevin Owens, Samoa Joe and The Viking Raiders, who all came down to chase off Rollins and beat down Murphy and AOP.

In the first match of the night, Andrade and Rey Mysterio had their usual high-flying, back-and-forth fight, only this time with some painful-looking ladder spots mixed in. Mysterio and Andrade took turns powermbombing each other onto bridged ladders before the match reached its climax: Zelina Vega sitting on top of the ladder and blocking a climbing Mysterio and distracting him long enough for Andrade to hit him with a Hammerlock DDT through a bridged ladder. After retaining the US Title, Andrade went to deliver another DDT onto Mysterio on the exposed concrete outside. However, a man in a Rey Mysterio mask and t-shirt emerged from the crowd to halt him in his tracks. It was revealed to be a returning Humberto Carrillo who tussled with Andrade for a bit before the champion ran up the ramp.

Aleister Black got the ‘squash a local jobber’ spot this week, finishing off an unnamed competitor in a matter of seconds with one Black Mass right after the opening bell.

Paul Heyman came out with Brock Lesnar and bored the crowd into silence by explaining how the Royal Rumble works. Heyman said no one in the locker room was worthy of facing the WWE Champion at Wrestlemania. Ricochet then came out and said that he wasn’t afraid of Lesnar, which made Brock chuckle. Ricochet asked the Beast if he was scared. He replied by kicking Ricochet in the groin before picking up the microphone and saying “not scared.”

Randy Orton and Drew McIntyre had a slow-starting, headlock heavy affair that picked up steam after Orton clotheslined McIntyre over the top rope. A member of the ringside crew became a victim of an errant Claymore Kick. The two had a chop-trading spot in the middle of the ring before Orton nailed McIntyre with a DDT off the middle rope. Drew was able to thwart an RKO attempt and stun Randy with a Glasgow Kiss. Orton followed that up with a counter of his own, nailing a charging Drew with a bodyslam before taking him up top and superplexing him. The O.C. ran down to interfere but Drew and Randy were able to put their differences aside to fight off the trio. Their truce didn’t last long, though. Orton stunned his opponent with an RKO out of nowhere. McIntyre responded by grabbing a microphone and declaring that he was going to kick Randy’s head off in the Royal Rumble and go on to main event Wrestlemania.

Becky Lynch said that Asuka did her a favor by spraying the green mist in her eyes, because she now sees thing clearly. After expressing doubt and regret in recent weeks, Lynch seemingly regained her confidence, declaring that Asuka can’t beat her anymore. Lynch and Kairi Sane had a bit of a clunky match, which Becky won with a disarm-her. Asuka then attacked Lynch after the match and applied the Asuka Lock.

The Viking Raiders put the Raw tag team titles on the line against Buddy Murphy and Seth Rollins. Early on in the match, Samoa Joe and Kevin Owens brawled with AOP throughout the crowd to the backstage area. Back in the ring, Erik and Ivar looked like a championship caliber team, taking out both Murphy and Rollins. A Viking Experience on Murphy nearly ended the match but an interference from Rollins broke up the pin attempt. Seth and Buddy gained the advantage after powerbombing Ivar off the rope but it didn’t last long. The big man soon made it to his feet and neutralized both. Ivar looked to end the match with a big move off the top rope but Rollins pushed him down to the floor. He followed that up with a stomp to Erik on the apron while the referee had his back turned. Buddy took advantage and pinned Erik to win the titles.

The Street Profits brought back the Monday After Weekend Update segment. It was forgettable.

Erick Rowan made quick work of Matt Hardy, finishing him off with a bloody Iron Claw slam. For the second week in a row, his hand was bloodied after he stuck it in his covered pet cage. After being bitten, Rowan yelled and angrily slammed the cage onto the steel steps.

Kevin Owens and Samoa Joe both declared for the Royal Rumble. Joe said that he may have Owens’ back when it comes to Seth Rollins, but in the Royal Rumble, it’s every man for himself.

The Singh Brothers tried to sneak up on 24/7 champion Mojo Rawley backstage but Rawley easily fended them off and slammed them each onto a nearby equipment case.

In the main event of the night, Bobby Lashley and Lana beat Rusev and Liv Morgan in less than five minutes. The finish was Lana distracting Rusev by grabbing his leg, which allowed Lashley to spear and pin him. It certainly didn’t feel like much of a payoff for this months long storyline, and it did no favors for either Rusev or Morgan. If it isn’t the payoff, then that means the feud will likely continue. After two straight weeks of Lashley pinning Rusev, it’s anybody’s guess which direction it could go from here.

Final Thoughts

An exciting ladder match between Andrade and Rey Mysterio as well as a well laid out tag team bout which ended with Seth Rollins and Buddy Murphy becoming the new Raw tag team champions were the two highlights of a show that otherwise didn’t offer up much entertainment. The Drew McIntyre/Randy Orton matchup felt like a bit of a drop off in quality after a much better triple-threat bout featuring AJ Styles last week. An anticlimactic interference finish also didn’t help matters.

The big losers of the night were Ricochet, who played sacrificial lamb for Brock Lesnar, and the duo of Rusev and Liv Morgan, who finished off the night on the losing end of one of the worst main event matches Raw has had in quite some time.

There is a Women’s Royal Rumble match on Sunday, but if you missed a quick Charlotte backstage promo tonight, you probably wouldn’t know it. The build to that match has almost been nonexistent.

The build to the Becky Lynch/Asuka title match has been a bit uneven tone-wise. For weeks, Lynch has cut promos sounding scared and almost overwhelmed at the idea of facing Asuka at the Rumble. This week, she magically found her confidence for no other explained reason then because Asuka spit the green mist in her eyes last week.

The Street Profits’ ‘Monday After the Weekend Update’ wasn’t exactly getting laughed at and kicked in the groin level of bad, but it’s certainly not the kind of segment I’d be eager to watch every week. Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins are good performers but I’ve seen enough of their promos now to confidently say that their brand of humor just isn’t my cup of tea.

Just a week in, the Seth Rollins/Buddy Murphy pairing is working well for Murphy. He went from being a three-time loser to Aleister Black to a tag team champion with one of the company’s biggest stars. Seth is working well in his heel Monday Night Messiah persona thus far. It seems like some of that shine should rub off on Buddy.

Overall, I can’t say anything that happened tonight made me more interested for the Royal Rumble show. It’s a thumbs up for the Andrade vs. Mysterio match and the Rollins & Murphy vs. Viking Raiders bout, and a big thumbs down for the mixed tag main event, the Ricochet/Lesnar interaction and the Street Profits segment. Everything else was passable but rather unexciting.

WWE Monday Night Raw Review (1/13/20)

“Help us.”

Whether it was a desperate plea or a carefully crafted commandment, those two words were undeniably effective.  A simple call to action from the self-appointed messiah, Seth Rollins, was heard by a lost soul awaiting on the outskirts, Buddy Murphy. An alliance-forming, giant-conquering initiation ended with a post battle embrace of acceptance and appreciation, which is completely statement making and course altering for a Seth-led stable that’s established itself as a true force to be reckoned with.

Stage-hopping stunts by Kevin Owens and Samoa Joe and a valiant in-ring effort from a game and surprisingly spry Big Show proved to be eye-catching but alas ultimately futile. A stomp of the foot served as the ending to a fight of fists in a show-closing sequence that was the highlight of an entertaining yet somewhat uneven Monday Night Raw episode.

The crowd in Lexington, Kentucky was treated to a ppv-quality battle in a triple threat opener that saw a streaking Drew McIntyre sneak away with a win over AJ Styles and Randy Orton, who both let their preoccupations and bad blood with each other blind them.

Ricochet picked up a much-needed win over Mojo Rawley.

For the second week in a row, Sarah Logan was used as cannon fodder for Charlotte.

Brock Lesnar had a comedy segment with R-Truth, who did drop John Cena’s name. That could potentially be a tease for a possible Rumble confrontation between Brock and Cena.

Bobby Lashley took advantage of a distracted Rusev who was focused on a Lana/Liv Morgan confrontation on the outside, which resulted in Lana throwing a drink in Liv’s face and then throwing her into the barricade. Lashley’s pinfall victory did not end the feud, though. Instead, a mixed tag match featuring Lashley and Lana vs. Rusev and Liv has been set for next next week.

The Sing Brothers quickly regretted answering The Viking Raiders’ open challenge. Erik and Ivar made short work of their challengers, asserting their dominance in a Raw tag division that admittedly feels rather thin at the current moment.

Becky Lynch, seemingly clad in the same yellow shirt and leather pants attire she wore on last week’s episode, fell victim to an Asuka green mist attack during their contract signing segment. Lynch cut an eyes burned shut promo, telling Asuka that at the Rumble, if she has to go down again, she’s going to take Asuka with her.

Andrade and Rey Mysterio hyped up their Ladder Match for the US Championship on next week’s episode. Zelina Vega called Mysterio a disgrace to latinos everywhere and a really sad and terrible example for his son Dominick and all of his children.

Aleister Black and Buddy Murphy had another buzz-worthy, highlight-reel match which received a “this is awesome” chant from an adoring crowd. After another back and forth affair, Black cemented himself as the superior fighter with a third straight victory over Buddy.

Erick Rowan squashed another local competitor and continued building intrigue surrounding his mysterious pet cage.

WWE Monday Night Raw Review (1/6/20)

Venue: Chesapeake Energy Arena (Oklahoma City, OK)

After a recap video highlight of Liv Morgan and Rusev crashing Lana and Bobby Lashley’s wedding ceremony last week, the show began with Paul Heyman and Brock Lesnar in the ring for a promo. Heyman said no one on the roster is man enough to challenge Lesnar for his WWE Championship. Paul announced that Brock will make history by declaring for the Royal Rumble and entering the match first. Heyman ended the segment by predicting his client will be the last man standing when the Rumble ends.

Backstage, Rey Mysterio thanked his son Dominick for convincing him to stay. Mysterio  said he was going to take his US Title back from Andrade before heading down to the ring. Rey hit the first big move of the match, slamming Andrade head first into the steel steps on the outside. After rolling the champion back in the ring, Mysterio tried to hit a springboard move off the top rope but Andrade countered with a dropkick. Mysterio got the first near fall of the contest after hitting a springboard moonsault into a DDT combination. The crowd showed their support for the challenger with loud 619 chants. Andrade went for a double stomp off the top of the ring post but Mysterio moved and he went crashing down to the outside. After hitting a double knee stomp to Rey on the outside, the two traded attacks until Mysterio pinned Andrade for a three count, which was ultimately waved off after the referee spotted the champ’s foot on the rope.

The match was restarted. Early on, Mysterio had the advantage over a wobbly Andrade, hitting him with a sunset flip powerbomb into the post. The crowd showed their appreciation for the legendary luchador’s performance with a “this is awesome” chant. It looked as if Mysterio had the match won after a 619 but Andrade rolled outside of the ring and tossed Mysterio into Zelina Vega and tossed Rey into the steps. Mysterio showed his concern for a fallen Vega. Andrade took advantage of the distraction by finishing off Mysterio with a Hammerlock DDT. It was a rather flat finish to an otherwise exciting match that got the crowd heavily invested. After the match, Andrade ripped off Rey’s mask and gave it to Vega as a post-match present.

A recap highlight video of Seth Rollins and AOP’s brawl with Kevin Owens and Samoa Joe was shown. Charly Caruso interviewed both Owens and Joe backstage. Kevin admitted that he doesn’t usually play well with others but the circumstances call for him and Joe to watch each other’s backs. Joe challenged Seth and AOP to a six-man tag match, assuring KO that he’s got a guy that can help them even the odds.

Charly caught up to Rollins and AOP roaming the halls backstage. She relayed the challenge to Seth. Rollins said the challenge he was most concerned about was the challenge of being the chosen one and the messiah of Monday Night Raw.

The Street Profits cut a quick in-ring promo, mocking The O.C.’s hand signals and saying that they were going to be the one pillaging tonight instead of the Viking Raiders. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson and the Viking Raiders made their way down to the ring for the three-way tag title match. Montez Ford and Ivar had the first big sequence of the match, displaying their athleticism with matching cartwheels and flips. The action slowed down a bit when Anderson entered the match and took turns with Gallows grinding down Ford. Erik tagged in and managed to single-handedly take out Gallows, Anderson and Angelo Dawkins before Ivar came in to join the fun by hitting a Viking Experience on Ford. The pin was broken up by The O.C. The Raiders regained the advantage for a while before Ivar accidentally crotched himself in the corner. Dawkins and Ford were able to create a quick flurry of offense. Montez hit a flip over the top rope onto Anderson and his partner Dawkins on the outside. The champs took advantage of the two on one advantage on Anderson. Ivar finished him off with a big splash off the top rope to retain the tag titles.

Backstage, Charly asked Samoa Joe if he would reveal who his third man would be. Kevin Owens said he was also interested to find out. Joe declined to say who it was, instead saying that he would rather show KO by letting Owens peek inside the locker room where the third man was waiting. Kevin came out looking happy while Charly was left looking confused.

Becky Lynch cut an in-ring promo. Lynch said that she had spent months wondering what kind of champion she wanted to be. She admitted that she had second thoughts about demanding a match with Asuka at Royal Rumble. A video of Asuka tapping out Becky at last year’s Rumble and The Kabuki Warriors beating Becky and Charlotte at TLC was shown. Just as Becky was about to say what she had figured out, Asuka’s music hit and she made her way down to the ring. Becky leveled her with a right hook before walking off and taunting a visibly upset Asuka.

Backstage, Erick Rowan and Mojo Rawley had a quick face to face confrontation. Rawley asked if he could take a look at what’s inside Rowan’s cage. Surprisingly, Rowan agreed. Mojo peaked in and quickly recoiled in disgust, asking “what the hell is wrong with you, man?” Rowan smiled and continued walking.

Backstage, Sarah Schreiber interviewed Andrade, asking him if he crossed the line in his match against Rey Mysterio. Andrade laughed and held up Mysterio’s mask. Rey came running in to attack him and reclaim his mask as Zelina screamed for him to stop.

Erick Rowan squashed KJ Orso in 25 seconds. He forced Orso to look inside the cage. KJ emerged with blood running down his face and then ran up the ramp screaming. Rowan smiled and picked up the cage.

A recap video was shown of last week’s in-ring interaction between AJ Styles and Randy Orton, which ended with a possum-playing Randy stunning Styles with an RKO. AJ looked to take out his frustrations on Akira Tozawa. He hit a quick Phenomenal Forearm and went to pin Akira but instead picked up his shoulders before the ref could count three. He teased a Styles Clash before changing his mind and mimicking Orton’s vintage DDT off the second rope. He finished off Tozawa with an RKO. He posed on the ropes in a similar arms up style as Randy. As AJ walked up the ramp the camera briefly caught a man in a blue suit running into the ring and being tackled by security as the show rushed to a commercial break.

The man in the suit turned out to be the wedding officiant from last week’s ceremony. Bobby Lashley and Lana came down to the ring and said that they were going to get married right here, right now. The officiant pronounced them man and wife. Lana took the mic and said that she felt extremely sad. She flaunted her ring and called the fans basic, pathetic civilians that should be honored to be in her midst. Rusev appeared on the screen, saying he was taking a honeymoon of his own on the beach. He said he had a present for the two of them: a special wedding album of last week’s ceremony. After sitting through a quick photo montage of the hijacked festivities, Lana screamed “I hate you” over and over again before Bobby told her to shut up. Lashley told Rusev that if he had any balls left, he should show up to Raw next week so Bobby could shove them down his throat. Rusev said that next week will be the return of the Bulgarian Brute. He threatened Lashley, saying that he was going to brutalize every part of his body and Lana could have whatever was left.

Backstage, Liv Morgan interrupted an interview between Charly and R-Truth. She offered up her services to be in Rusev’s corner when he faces Lashley next week.

Sarah Logan jumped Charlotte before the bell could ring. The two briefly brawled into the crowd before the ref finally was able to get the Sarah back into the ring. Logan wiped her feet on Flair’s robe before throwing it at Charlotte. That antagonistic action earned her a spear and a suplex into the barricade. Flair finished things off with a boot before putting her robe back on and wiping her feet in Sarah’s direction.

Drew McIntyre delivered a Glasgow Kiss to one of No Way Jose’s conga line before body slamming another. McIntyre entered the ring and inflicted some punishment on Jose. He  made his way back outside and slammed another member face first into the apron. McIntyre finished off Jose with a Claymore Kick and tossed him over the top rope onto the conga line. Drew grabbed a mic and asked the crowd “who dares me to do one more Claymore?” He tossed Jose back into the ring and hit him once again. McIntyre cut a promo saying he’s never had the chance to fight for the world title since everyone was too scared to fight him. He declared for the Royal Rumble and said “when it was all said and done, there can only be three, two, one.”

Aleister Black squared off with Shelton Benjamin. The two had a feeling out process to start and did some grappling on the mat. Benjamin picked up the advantage early after slamming Black. The two traded strikes before Aleister finished off Shelton with a Black Mass. After the match Buddy Murphy attacked Aleister and threw him all over the ringside area. He hit two knees to the head that left Black flat on his back.

Seth Rollins and AOP came out. Rollins grabbed a mic and talked about being chosen to be the one to lead Monday Night Raw to the promised land. He said he needed to eliminate people like Kevin Owens and Samoa Joe who impede progress. He dared Joe and Owens to come down to the ring and meet their fate at the hand of the AOP and the Monday Night Messiah. Joe and KO obliged. They revealed The Big Show as their surprise partner. Show started things off with Akam. He quickly tossed Rollins in the ring and delivered a big slap to the chest as the show headed to commercial break.

Back from the break, Owens and Rollins were battling it out before Rezar nailed Owens with a cheap shot. Rezar tagged in and worked over Owens as the crowd chanted “we want Big Show.” Akam and Rollins took turns beating on KO as well. Kevin eventually made the hot tag to Show who came in and inflicted punishment on the messiah. Big Show eventually caught AOP in position for a double chokeslam but Rollins broke things up with a steel chair to the back, which earned him and AOP a disqualification. Big Show got the last laugh, however, nailing Seth with a KO Punch.

The show ended with match announcements for next week’s show, which will feature Randy Orton vs. AJ Styles, Buddy Murphy vs. Aleister Black, Rusev vs. Bobby Lashley and Samoa Joe, Kevin Owens and The Big Show vs. Seth Rollins and AOP in a fist fight.

Overall Thoughts

Rey Mysterio vs. Andrade was the match of the night. Although the finish was a little convoluted and fell a bit flat, the crowd was invested for the majority of the action.

The three-way tag match was predictable but still pretty fun. It was a good way to get the Street Profits in the ring with some established teams without forcing them to eat a loss.

The other four matches were quick squashes but each of them at least had a bit of nuance and meaning. Rowan is now letting people peek inside his pet cage. Styles mocking Orton helps add some more fuel to that feud’s fire. McIntyre seems to have something with his “three, two, one” gimmick. Tonight’s crowd was into it and gave him the desired reaction. Murphy’s post-match attack on Black was actually fairly violent and gives cause for a match, considering Aleister has already beaten him twice.

The main event was more of an angle than a true match. The crowd did seem excited for Big Show’s return, so it can be deemed a success. Show also looked to be in good shape after such a long layoff.

Lashley telling Lana to shut up during her promo added an interesting dynamic to that storyline.

The Charlotte/Sarah Logan brawl was a bit odd. Charlotte’s still just treading water without any real direction at this point.

Becky Lynch’s promo felt like a reiteration of things she’s already said in the past few weeks, so there really wasn’t any new ground covered there.

Brock Lesnar entering the Rumble No. 1 seems like a bit of a cop out since it just doesn’t feel like there is any believable challenger for him to face right now. It could be good if done right and somebody gets the rub of eliminating him (preferably an ascending NXT talent like Keith Lee or Matt Riddle), or it could be a disaster if it turns the Men’s Rumble into a Brock-centric affair in which he just squashes the entire roster.

Overall, tonight’s show started off hot with Mysterio and Andrade, had some squashes in the middle, and finished with a well received surprise return of an established veteran. This seemed like the set up show for a big lineup next week but it was still a worthwhile watch without any real low points.

Match Results

Andrade vs. Rey Mysterio
Bell Times: (8:20:10 – 8:40:03)
Result: Andrade pinned Mysterio following a Hammerlock DDT (19:53)

The Viking Raiders vs. The O.C. vs. The Street Profits
Bell Times: (8:58:53 – 9:14:13)
Result: Ivar pinned Karl Anderson following a splash off the top rope (15:20)

Erick Rowan vs. KJ Orso 
Bell Times: (9:36:32 – 9:36:57)
Result: Rowan pinned Orso following an Iron Claw (25 seconds)

AJ Styles vs. Akira Tozawa
Bell Times: (9:46: 22 – 9:48:32)
Result: Styles pinned Tozawa following an RKO (2:10)

Drew McIntyre vs. No Way Jose
Bell Times: (10:21:39 – 10:23:22)
Result: McIntyre pinned Jose following a Claymore Kick (1:43)

Aleister Black vs. Shelton Benjamin
Bell Times: (10:33:07 – 10:35:31)
Result: Black pinned Benjamin following a Black Mass (2:24)

Seth Rollins and AOP vs. Kevin Owens, Samoa Joe and Big Show
Bell Times: (10:48:24- 10:58:37)
Result: Rollins was disqualified following a steel chair attack (10:13)

WWE Monday Night Raw Review (12/30/19)

Venue: XL Center (Hartford, CT)

Show Summary

Kevin Owens began the show with an in-ring promo and reminded viewers who may have forgotten about the repetitive cycle of his angle with Seth Rollins and AOP that “every week, I call them out, and every week, I get the hell beaten out of me. Guess what, I’m going to keep calling them out every week. I’m going to keep getting the hell beaten out of me. But I swear, sooner or later, I’m taking one of you idiots down with me.” Owens went on to talk about the respect he has for Rey Mysterio and how sick it made him to watch Rollins stomp Mysterio’s head through the stage.

A video played of Mysterio losing the US Title to Andrade at Madison Square Garden.

Rollins came out with AOP and told KO that he was forced into the current position he’s in. Seth talked about being a leader and a messiah and taking the industry into the next decade. Owens charged Rollins and his crew. Just as his words had foreshadowed, they started to beat the hell out of him. Luckily, an angry Samoa Joe came charging down to the ring, looking to get revenge on AOP for putting him through a table to end the last Raw. Joe beat on Seth for a bit and briefly locked him in the Coquina Clutch before AOP broke it up. Owens came back into the ring with a chair and nailed Akam and Rezar before security personnel came down to break up the scuffle. Owens took to the top rope and hit a cannonball down to the outside onto a crowd of security, Rollins and AOP.

After a commercial break, Charly Caruso interviewed Owens and Joe in the locker room. Joe explained that he got involved because Seth Rollins quote: “made a choice that Kevin Owens will never stand alone again.” Owens responded with, “I’ve met a lot of bad people but nobody is as bad as you.” Security escorted the two out of the locker room.

Aleister Black squared off against Buddy Murphy in the first match of the night. Early on, Murphy taunted Black by doing his sit down pose, only for Aleister to respond by doing the same pose at a charging Buddy. Black nailed a series of kicks, the loudest being a running kick to the head when Murphy was perched on the top rope. Buddy was able to recover, slide under Aleister and slam him face first into the top of the ring post. That sent him sailing down to the outside.

Back from commercial, Black hit a moonsault to the outside, threw Buddy back in the ring and hit him with a moonsault off the second rope. Murphy was able to toss Aleister to the outside and hit him with a flip over the top rope. He followed that up by tossing him back inside and hitting a double knee strike off the top rope.

After Black kicked out at two, a “this is awesome” chant quickly emanated from the crowd. Murphy tried to put him away again with a sitout powerbomb but it was just another near fall. Aleister was able to counter a knee strike attempt and hit a few quick kicks before nailing Buddy with a brainbuster for a near fall of his own. Buddy was able to catch Black and put him in position for Murphy’s Law but Aleister rolled through and almost got a quick roll up pin. He then hit two consecutive black masses to finally put down Buddy for long enough to get a three count.

Backstage, Seth Rollins was talking with AOP about how they were being tossed out of the building. Security surrounded them and they left. Lana was shown in a makeup chair. A frustrated Erick Rowan approached her and complained about not getting an invitation to her wedding ceremony before screaming and walking off.

Erick Rowan destroyed Kip Stevens in less than two minutes.

Lana was shown applying some lotion in her dressing room.

Charlotte Flair came out for an in-ring promo. She announced her entrance into the Women’s Royal Rumble match. She listed off her career accomplishments before saying she was tired of talking about how she was the queen of the WWE. She issued an open challenge, which was disappointingly accepted by Natalya. The two traded offense early on before Natalya gained an advantage on the outside by slamming Charlotte’s face into the stairs and suplexing her on the bottom of the ramp. Natalya went for a dive into the corner but Charlotte countered and caught her in a Boston Crab on the second rope. With Natalya down on the outside, R-Truth came out and ran around the ring with the usual 24/7 title chasers nipping at his heels. At one point, Eric Young decided to try to cut through the ring to catch Truth, but he was met with a big boot from Charlotte.

The show returned from a commercial break with Charlotte attempting a superplex off the top rope but Natalya was able to counter and hit her with a high cross body. Flair went for a big boot but Natalya countered with a german suplex. Charlotte responded with a suplex of her own, tossing Natalya into the corner. She went for a big boot again but Natalya caught her and hit her with a sitout powerbomb, garnering a two-count before Charlotte powered out. Natalya attempted a sharpshooter but Flair escaped and nailed her with a big boot and spear combo but Natalya kicked out. Charlotte hit her with a natural selection. Astonishingly, Natalya was able to get her shoulder up once again, which left me decidedly nonplussed. Flair headed to the top for a moonsault but Natalya got her feet up for the block. A frustrated Charlotte finally hit her with another big boot and locked her in a Figure Eight. Natalya wailed in pain for a bit before finally tapping.

Backstage, Charly interviewed Becky Lynch, who made the official announcement that her Raw Women’s Championship match with Asuka will take place at the Royal Rumble. Lynch said that her contract is coming up soon, and that getting this match with Asuka was her key bargaining chip. Becky said she could have taken the easy way and signed a big new contract.Instead, she needed to prove to herself that she could beat Asuka, the woman who not only beat her but tapped her at the last Rumble to retain the Smackdown Women’s Championship. If it weren’t for a fluke win by Charlotte right before Wrestlemania 35 just to get a second belt into the triple-threat, Asuka would probably still be the Smackdown Women’s Champion at this very moment. This could have been a year-long, belt vs. belt, major Mania feud. Instead, it’s a Rumble rematch for the Raw title, which is nothing to shake a stick at. An Asuka-less Four Horsewomen Raw/SD unification match might be the way it goes for the women’s division at Mania.

Bobby Lashley was shown in his dressing room, clad in a sleeveless suit jacket, staring into a mirror.

The O.C. came down to the ring. They began by showing a recap video of their win over the Viking Raiders two weeks ago and their six-man tag win over those two and Randy Orton to end last week’s show. Karl Anderson talked about being the best tag team in the world. Luke Gallows attempted to make a case for why they deserved a shot at the Raw Tag Team Titles. He was interrupted by the Street Profits. Montez Ford reminded The O.C. that they beat Anderson and Gallows in their Raw debut. AJ Styles responded by saying that they were lucky and advised them to “stick to their cute little skits backstage.” Anderson told them to get in the ring.

The Profits obliged.

Ford and Angelo Dawkins took turns working over Karl Anderson before Styles broke up their rhythm by grabbing Dawkins’ foot from the outside. That interference earned him an ejection from ringside. After a commercial break, Gallows was in control, beating on Ford. The beating continued for a bit before Montez was able to buy some time with a kick. He managed to get a hot tag to Dawkins who ran wild with a series of running punches, an uppercut, a dropkick and a suplex. Anderson came in to break up the momentum, which gave Anderson an opening to drop Angelo with a spinebuster. The two worked over Dawkins, hitting him with a neckbreaker. Eventually, all four participants ended up in the ring. Gallows was tossed to the outside. Ford managed to duck under a clothesline attempt and hit a flip over the top rope right before Dawkins nailed Anderson with a sky high. Montez went up to the top rope and finished off Anderson with a frog splash.

Lana was shown surrounded by flowers backstage.

In the bowels of the arena, Dawkins and Ford talked about multiple universes in a convoluted dialogue that managed to get even less of a reaction than their pre-match promo which compared The O.C. wrestling group to The O.C. mid-00’s television show.

Mic in hand, Drew McIntyre walked to the ring, talking about how he was going to squash Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder. He did just that, in less than a minute’s time.

Randy Orton came down to the ring on crutches with a brace on his left knee. He talked about how injuries can happen at any time before pausing for a minute to let the crowd chant “Randy!” He talked about how Edge had to sacrifice his entire career due to an injury (Seems they want to squash that Edge is returning at the Rumble rumor). Orton said he screwed his leg up bad last night and heard something pop in his knee. He talked about how he’ll be out a very long time and said he wasn’t sure if he’ll ever be able to come back. Still, he said he’s going to do everything in his power to make sure that somebody gets RKO’d at Wrestlemania.

AJ Styles came down and mocked him, asking, “Mr. RKO, you gonna strike?”

“Isn’t it funny that fate bit Randy Orton before Randy Orton could bite me?” Styles asked before breaking out some schoolyard bullying tactics to taunt him. He told Randy he was a patient man that was going to wait until Wrestlemania to retire him. He kicked out his crutch, which earned him an “AJ Sucks” chant from the crowd. Orton said that the big difference between the two of them was that Styles was patient and he wasn’t and followed that up with an RKO, proving that the knee injury was simply a ruse. He slammed his leg on the mat a few times for impression and then did his turnbuckle pose.

A video of Rey Mysterio backstage at MSG following his US Title loss to Andrade was shown. Mysterio said he was looking forward to his rematch with Andrade. He then delivered a message to Seth Rollins and AOP, saying he will stand tall.

Andrade faced an unnamed local talent. Andrade beat him up for a minute before Zelina Vega told him to deliver the same type of move on the concrete that he injured Humberto Carrillo with. Ricochet interrupted before he could finish the dastardly deed and challenged him to a match. Andrade hit the first big move of the contest, nailing a flying Ricochet with a dropkick. Vega exposed the concrete on the outside again. Andrade worked over Ricochet before Ricochet was able to hit him with a body drop sending him to the outside. Ricochet then nailed him with a flip over the top rope. Andrade and Ricochet wandered over near the exposed concrete. Andrade body dropped Ricochet onto the concrete as the show headed to a break.

Back from commercial, Ricochet was able to fire up and hit Andrade with a step up enziguri. He then hit a standing shooting star press. The two traded blows before Andrade got a near fall with a spinning elbow. Ricochet was able to counter a Hammerlock DDT into a small package but Andrade managed to kick out at the last second. Ricochet headed up top, but Vega interfered and pushed him down to the mat. Andrade was able to capitalize and finish off his challenger with a Hammerlock DDT.

Backstage, Sarah Schreiber interviewed Andrade and Zelina Vega. The confident pair didn’t seem concerned about Rey Mysterio and the US Title rematch that will take place on next week’s Raw.

The show ended with the wedding of Lana and Bobby Lashley. Midway through the ceremony, Lana took control of the mic from the marriage officiant and told the crowd to shut up. She told Lashley that it was the luckiest day of his life and gave her usual self aggrandizing spiel in her normal rushed cadence as the crowd showered her with “Rusev Day” chants. She said she wanted to jump onto him and make love to him right here, right now. Lashley managed to calm her down and get the ceremony back on track. He delivered his vows, expressing to her how lucky he is, as the fans gave him the “what?” treatment.

As the official asked if there was anyone who objected, Lana’s first husband spoke up and came marching down to the ring. He said that Lana and him were married the day she turned 18 and then she left her for Rusev. He tried to warn Bobby that she would do the same to him but Lashley responded by chokeslamming him out of the ring. Lashley’s first wife then came down to the ring to object but Lana slapped her off the apron before she could get her story out. Liv Morgan then came out and said that she came to WWE a lost soul and she never knew she could be herself until they met and fell in love with each other. She asked, “How could you do this to me?” Lashley responded by saying “I’ve never touched this woman in my entire life.” Liv responded by saying, “Oh, no, I’m not talking about Bobby. I’m talking about Lana.” Liv and Lana stared at each other for a few seconds before they began to slap and brawl with each other before security came down to escort Morgan out. Just as the official was about to announce Lana and Lashley husband and wife, Rusev popped out of the cake and assaulted Bobby as he taunted a crying Lana. Morgan then reappeared to smash Lana’s face into the cake as the show went off the air.

Final Thoughts

It was a messy ending to a messy decade of Monday Night Raw. The surprising Liv Morgan insertion into the shenanigans adds some flavorful intrigue to a storyline that a once growing stale storyline which reached a fun-filled climax in a cliffhanger-feeling end-of-the-year/end-of-the-decade episode. Morgan got a quick spotlight for her return as a changed character. There’s some momentum there to start the ball rolling. Hopefully they can build off of it because she’s felt like an underutilized talent ever since the Riott Squad disbanded. It’s possible, they could build to a mixed tag of her and Rusev vs. Lana and Lashley at the Rumble. Critics of this angle can call it trash TV all they want but judging by the “Jerry!” chants during the ceremony, the crowd clearly responds to it all.

Buddy Murphy vs. Aleister Black was a PPV quality affair. Black needs an important-feeling singles match at the upcoming Wrestlemania. Aleister vs. Andrade for the US Title in the ‘start of hour three’ slot might be something, especially given their history in NXT and the whole Zelina dynamic.

There was yet another Erick Rowan squash match. It’s grown stale at this point. This is what killing five minutes of time is. An occasional quick backstage vignette with him and the hidden pet in the cage with an interruption by someone who at least the audience knows (i.e. any of the 24/7 title chaser conga line lowcarders who struggle to make it onto television) would be more effective. On a show that’s averaging at least two other squash matches per episode, this strategy has officially proven to be a horse that needs the reins.

Natalya kicking out of all of Charlotte’s finishers in succession was the WTF moment of the night. Why? What segment of the audience cares about a Natalya heel turn? Why sacrifice the entire finishing maneuver arsenal of the most decorated women’s performer currently on the roster for someone the caliber of Natalya?

When the Street Profits misfire on a promo, they really miss. The reference to a television show that hasn’t been talked about in over a decade in the prematch promo and the whole multiverse conversation backstage after the match got absolute crickets.

Drew McIntyre squashing Hawkins and Ryder in under a minute accomplished what?

Unsurprisingly, Andrade vs. Ricochet had some good action but Ricochet is absolutely rudderless as a character right now, which is maybe why live crowds have seemingly cooled on him a bit. I feel like I’ve seen him do the whole coming down to stick up for other good guys shtick before. There was never any real reason to care about it then, just as there wasn’t really a reason to care tonight either. That guy needs a direction and a meaningful feud in a hurry. There doesn’t even have to be a heel turn, maybe just tease a bit of friction with him and Mysterio and do the older veteran wants to prove himself against the younger high flyer kind of thing.

Overall, when you consider that big names like Becky, Asuka, Rollins and Owens weren’t even in action tonight, it was an OK show. Black/Murphy was the high point. The Lana/Lashley wedding segment at least had a bit of a twist besides just Rusev ruins it.

Brock Lesnar returns next week. With Owens and Rollins, and Orton and Styles all occupied with each other, it’s tough to narrow down who Lesnar’s potential challenger could be at the Rumble. The Andrade/Mysterio rematch is worth looking forward to, although that seems like it could be setting up for a Carrillo interference finish. It will also be interesting to see how Liv fits into the whole Lana/Lashley/Rusev storyline.

Match Results

Aleister Black vs. Buddy Murphy
Bell Times: (8:19:48 – 8:35:21)
Result: Black pinned Murphy following a Black Mass (15:33)

Erick Rowan vs. Kip Stevens
Bell Times: (8:43:52 – 8:45:38)
Result: Rowan pinned Stevens following an Iron Claw (1:46)

Charlotte vs. Natalya
Bell Times: (8:58:49 – 9:13:22)
Result: Charlotte tapped out Natalya with a Figure Eight (14:33)

The Street Profits vs. Anderson & Gallows
Bell Times: (9:27:31 – 9:39:08)
Result: Ford pinned Anderson following a Frog Splash (11:37)

Drew McIntyre vs. Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder
Bell Times: (9:50:45 – 9:51:35)
Result: McIntyre pinned Hawkins and Ryder following a Claymore Kick (50 seconds)

Andrade vs. Ricochet
Bell Times: (10:24:00 – 10:35:37)
Result: Andrade pinned Ricochet following a Hammerlock DDT (11:37)

Ranking the Best Pro Wrestlers of the Decade

Yearly ratings, great matches, title reigns and big stage moments are the four categories that were used to determine this greatest wrestlers of the 2010-2019 decade list. 20 male wrestlers and six female wrestlers met the qualifications for inclusion. Here are the final overall rankings along with explanations and breakdowns of the overall criteria and the four specific category formulas used.

# Wresler C1  C2 C3 C4 Rank
1 Kazuchika Okada 4 (35) 1 (70) 1 (1,785) 2 (30) 2
2 Hiroshi Tanahashi 6 (34) 2 (54) 4 (858) 1 (40 3.2
3 John Cena 2 (43) 7 (16) 10 (441) 3 (26) 5.5
4 AJ Styles 1 (44) 5 (28) 5 (818) 17 (50) 7
5 Seth Rollins 5 (35) 11 (10) 7 (534) 12 (15) 8.7
6 Daniel Bryan 9 (29) 9 (13) 12 (415) 11 (15) 10.2
7 Shinsuke Nakamura 10 (28) 6 (19) 21 (169) 5 (115) 10.5
8 Randy Orton 3 (38) 21 (3) 13 (413) 7 (19) 11
9 Brock Lesnar 25 (12) 13 (8) 2 (1,000) 6 (19) 11.5
10 Roman Reigns 8 (32) 17 (6) 19 (183) 4 (25) 12
11 Charlotte Flair 13 (25) 20 (3) 3 (859) 14 (14) 12.5
12 Kenny Omega t21 (18) 4 (38) 20 (209) 9 (16) 13.5
13 Kevin Owens 7 (33) 14 (8) 14 (331) 19 (9) 13.5
14 Tetsuya Naito 23 (16) 3 (44) 24 (84) 8 (17) 14.5
15 Alberto El Patron 11 (28) 19 (4) 15 (317) 15 (40) 15
16 CM Punk 17 (20) 12 (9) 10 (464) 22 (5) 15.2
17 Becky Lynch t21 (18) 22 (2) 9 (482) 10 (15) 15.5
18 Finn Balor 15 (24) 15 (8) 16 (293) 18 (9) 16
19 The Miz 12 (27) 18 (5) 23 (160) 15 (12) 17
20 Jon Moxley  14 (62) 8 (13) 25 (84) 23 (5) 17.5
21 Bayley 16 (23) 22 (2) 8 (517) 24 (3) 17.5
22 Adam Cole 18 (20) 10 (10) 18 (213) 25 (2) 17.7
23 Asuka 24 (15) 22 (2) 6 (610) 20 (7) 18
24 Chris Jericho 23 (17) 16 (6) 22 (160) 13 (15) 18.5
25 Sasha Banks 19 (19) 22 (2) 17 (274) 21 (6) 19.7

Category 1

AJ Styles

This is the initial qualifying category. It’s based purely off Pro Wrestling Illustrated’s yearly Top 500 male and Top 100 female rankings from each of the past 10 years. To qualify, a wrestler had to have at least one elite ranking (Top Five) or at least two standout rankings (Top 15) during that time frame.

37 male performers met the criteria: Adam Cole, AJ Styles, Alberto El Patron, Austin Aries, Bobby Roode, Bray Wyatt, Brock Lesnar, Bully Ray, Chris Jericho, CM Punk, Cody, Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler, Finn Balor, John Cena, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Jay Lethal, Jon Moxley, Kane, Kazuchika Okada, Kenny Omega, Kevin Owens, Kofi Kingston, PAC, Randy Orton, Rey Mysterio, Rob Van Dam, Roderick Strong, Roman Reigns, Samoa Joe, Seth Rollins, Sheamus, Shinsuke Nakamura, Takashi Sugiura, Tetsuya Naito, The Miz and Will Ospreay.

36 female performers met the criteria: AJ Lee, Alexa Bliss, Allie, Allysin Kay, Angelina Love, Asuka, Bayley, Becky Lynch, Beth Phoenix, Charlotte, Cheerleader Melissa, Courtney Rush, Gail Kim, Io Shirai,  Ivelisse Vélez, Jessika Havok, Kairi Sane, Layla, Lisa Marie Varon, LuFisto, Madison Eagles, Madison Rayne, Mayu Iwatani, Mercedes Martinez, Mickie James, MsChif, Natalya, Naomi, Paige, Saraya Knight, Ronda Rousey, Sara Del Rey, Sasha Banks, Sexy Star, Shayna Baszler and Velvet Sky.

The formula used to measure the rankings was pretty simple. Only a wrestler’s rankings within the top 50 were used. The top 50 was broken up into five different 10 number segments and each was given a different weighted value: A ranking in the 1-10 range was worth five points, 11-20 earned four points, 21-30 earned three points, 31-40 earned two points and 41-50 earned one point. For example, AJ Styles, the category’s leader, had seven top 10 finishes (35 points) and three finishes in the 21-30 range (nine points), so his total was 44. John Cena, who ranked second in the category, had seven top 10 finishes (35 points) and two finishes in the 11-20 range (eight points), so his total was 43 points.


Category 2

Screen Shot 2019-12-21 at 10.18.14 PM

The intention of this category was to determine the total amount of great matches a wrestler had in the decade. Obviously, rating matches is subjective and is dependent upon the personal taste of a viewer, so the formula used for this category was a combination of two different forms of published match ratings: The first being the star ratings of Dave Meltzer, arguably the most famous figure in wrestling journalism, and the second being the match ratings posted on cagematch.net, one of the internet’s largest interactive wrestling databases which allows fans the opportunity to rank wrestlers and their matches on a 0-10 scale. It’s not a perfect formula but it at least builds towards a consensus. If a match was rated so highly by both parties, it was likely to be one of the better matches of the respective year it took place.

To be counted as a great match, a bout had to be ranked over four stars by Meltzer and over eight points by cagematch users. Matches from all federations were counted but only singles matches, no tag team matches or battle royals were included.

This was also used as a weed out factor following the initial qualifying category. The thinking was that a wrestler should have at least two great matches in the decade to be considered one of the best. Anyone who did not have at least two great matches was eliminated from the list.

Seven males failed to meet the criteria: Bobby Roode, Bray Wyatt, Bully Ray, Kane, Rob Van Dam, Sheamus and Takashi Sugiura.

30 females failed to meet the criteria: AJ Lee, Alexa Bliss, Allie, Allysin Kay, Angelina Love, Beth Phoenix, Cheerleader Melissa, Courtney Rush, Gail Kim, Ivelisse Vélez, Jessika Havok, Kairi Sane, Layla, Lisa Marie Varon, LuFisto, Madison Eagles, Madison Rayne, Mayu Iwatani, Mercedes Martinez, Mickie James, MsChif, Natalya, Naomi, Paige, Saraya Knight, Ronda Rousey, Sara Del Rey, Sexy Star, Shayna Baszler and Velvet Sky.


Category 3

Okada

This category was used to measure total days spent this decade as a world champion. The belts considered were the WWE Championship, Universal Championship, WWE World Heavyweight Championship, IWGP Heavyweight Championship, NXT Championship, AEW Championship, WWE Raw Women’s Championship, WWE Smackdown Women’s Championship and the NXT Women’s Championship.

Kazuchicka Okada, the category leader, earned the top spot by holding the IWGP Championship five different times. The second place finisher, Brock Lesnar, accumulated his total by holding the WWE Championship, the Universal Championship and the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.

For the male wrestlers, John Cena (9) and Randy Orton (7) had the most total number of championship reigns but many of them were on the shorter side. All but one of Cena’s title reigns were less than 100 days and six were less than 50 days. Orton also only had one title reign that lasted over 100 days. Charlotte was far and away the leader of the women in total championship reigns with 11 different title possessions.


Category 4

Screen Shot 2019-12-21 at 10.20.35 PM

The final category was used to measure big moments on the big stage. Personally, when I think of a big stage, the two annual wrestling shows that immediately come to mind are Wrestlemania and Wrestle Kingdom, so I devised a similar type of weighted formula as category one, which also takes into account Royal Rumble wins.

Being a part of the main event (the last match on the card) at either Wrestlemania or Wrestle Kingdom was worth five points, a Royal Rumble win was worth four points, having a heavyweight title match that was not the last match was worth three points, having a midcard singles title match was worth two points and having a regular singles non-title match was worth one point. Tag team matches and battle royals were not considered.

Unsurprisingly, this was another category that was dominated by Kazuchika Okada and Hiroshi Tanahashi, who have both been mainstays in the main event scene of Wrestle Kingdom for the past decade.


Final Thoughts

The last weed out criteria was the totaling of the average ranks that a wrestler had in each of the four categories. To be considered for the list, a wrestler had to have a total average rank of 20 or below. 10 male wrestlers failed to meet this criteria: Austin Aries, Cody, Dolph Ziggler, Kofi Kingston, Jay Lethal, PAC, Rey Mysterio, Roderick Strong, Samoa Joe, and Will Ospreay, as well as one female wrestler, Io Shirai. That group’s considered an honorable mention.

The result was 20 male wrestlers making the final cut and five female wrestlers.  The fact that so many females were weeded out in the great match category is indicative of how women’s wrestling as a whole was viewed and rated up until just a few years ago. It’s a testament to the women included in the final rankings and the job they’ve done elevating the women’s division in the last few years.

There were two ties in the final rankings: Kenny Omega and Kevin Owens at 13.5, and Jon Moxley and Bayley at 17.5. The first tiebreaker used was whichever of the two had the more total lower ranks in the four individual categories. Omega and Owens had two apiece so the second tiebreaker of lowest average rank in one specific category was used which Kenny won with four in category two. Moxley beat Bayley with three lower ranks compared to her one.

Ultimately, the goal of this project was to come up with an unbiased, strictly numbers based list that took emotion and personal preference out of the equation and fairly measured a wrestler’s accomplishments and accolades for a full decade’s worth of work.

My personal rankings list would probably have a few minor tweaks and changes. Kazuchika Okada isn’t necessarily my cup of tea, as I tend to find many of his matches to be too long and drawn out. However, it’s impossible to deny his dominance and his resume. He would be my top wrestler of the decade. After him, I would probably rate AJ Styles No. 2 since he’s been a standout star regardless of the federation he’s been in, whether it’s WWE, New Japan, TNA or Ring of Honor. Brock Lesnar would likely be my No. 3 mainly for the fact that he’s had the biggest presence and his matches have felt like such a big deal and a special occasion.

After those three, the rest of the top 25 list looks pretty solid with no real notable admissions. Time missed is a bit of a factor for guys like Daniel Bryan, who missed three years of in-ring action with an injury, and CM Punk, who accomplished so much in the first half of the decade that he was able to overcome the fact that he was out of action for the entire second half of it. Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns and Kevin Owens also missed significant time as well. John Cena has been more sporadic in recent years due to obligations outside of WWE.

Charlotte would be my personal No. 1 women’s wrestler. The rest of the Four Horsewomen: Bayley, Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks would round out the top four in some fashion since it feels like they’ve made an important impact on women’s wrestling and just professional wrestling in general this past decade. Asuka, though she’s had her ups and downs on the main roster, had such a dominant run during her time in NXT and before that in her home country of Japan, belongs in the conversation as well.

WWE Monday Night Raw Review (12/16/19)

Venue: Wells Fargo Arena (Des Moines, IA)

Show Summary

The show began with a video recap of Seth Rollins and AOP’s backstage attack on Kevin Owens and Seth’s subsequent promo in which he called out the WWE fan base for their negativity. Rollins started this week’s show with another message for the audience. With AOP flanking him, he told the fans that being a leader is “not about being cool and making popular decisions. It’s about making decisions for the sake of progress.” Rollins then described himself as a leader and a visionary who was going to lead the brand into the next decade and beyond. He said that he will impose his will and that Akam and Rezar will enforce it. Seth ended the promo with a cryptic declaration, saying that he has a score to settle and that the fans weren’t going to be happy, ending his promo simply with “I’m sorry.”

Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson came down to confront the Viking Raiders in a rematch from the previous night’s TLC show, a bout that ended with a universally loathed double count out finish. The two teams went back and forth for a while before Ivar attempted the first big crowd-popping move of the night: a moonsault from the top rope. Fortunately for Anderson, Gallows was able to pull him out of the way just in time as Ivar slammed down onto the canvas with a loud thud. Anderson then kicked Eric off the apron. The two then double-teamed a woozy Ivar, hitting him with a Magic Killer to get the win. Samoa Joe exclaimed, “New Champs!” before realizing this was a non-title match.

Backstage, an excited AJ Styles met with Gallows and Anderson and talked about how he was going to end Randy Orton’s career and meet his brothers in the winner’s circle.

In this week’s edition of Eric Rowan beats up a local jobber, Rowan made short work of Dante Leon, who started off the match by running under the ring before popping out the other side and nearly uncovering Rowan’s pet cage. After enraging Rowan by messing with his pet, Leon stumbled as the big man gave chase. He was soon caught and thrown back in the ring, where he ended up on the receiving end of two claw chokeslams.

Backstage, Charly Caruso interviewed Andrade and Zelina Vega. Neither seemed to be in a particular good mood following Andrade’s loss the night before to Humberto Carrillo.

Lana and Bobby Lashley celebrated Bobby’s win over Rusev at TLC with an in-ring promo. As Lana showered Lashley with compliments, the crowd chanted Rusev Day, We Want Rusev, and Bobby Sucks. Lana then whipped out a ring and told Bobby she wanted him to ask her to marry him. Bobby responded by saying “he doesn’t like when anyone tells him what to do, except you.” He then got down on one knee and obliged with the request. Lana responded with a number of enthusiastic yeses. She said the wedding would be the most ravishing in the world and that it would happen on Lana Day.

Next up was a gauntlet match to determine who will earn a shot at US Champion Rey Mysterio. 24/7 Champion R-Truth came down to the ring and talked about being inspired by his childhood hero John Cena’s US Open challenge. Truth then promised that he was going to win tonight’s gauntlet match and go into Wrestlemania as a double champion. Truth’s first challenger was Akira Tozawa. Akira picked up the advantage following a missile dropkick off the top rope before rolling up Truth to get the win. Eric Young, Titus O’Neil, Zack Ryder, Curt Hawkins and No Way Jose all came running out of the back and chased Truth out of the arena.

Ricochet was next up, starting the match off with a quick flurry of offense and an impressive display of quickness and athleticism. But his attack was short lived, as Tozawa caught him and threw him outside of the ring. Akira went for a missile dropkick but Ricochet met him with a dropkick of his own to regain the advantage. Instead of going with his usual quick-paced offense, Ricochet changed up his style a bit and broke out a few unique looking submission moves to wear down Tozawa. Akira showed off his conditioning, fighting back valiantly before being eliminated following a recoil knee.

Matt Hardy was the next to enter the fray. Hardy started the match off by hitting Ricochet with a side effect which got a two count on a pin attempt. Hardy then slammed Ricochet’s head into multiple turnbuckles and proceeded to hit him with a suplex, a back body drop and a series of strikes. Ricochet hit an enziguri in the corner to stun a charging Hardy to buy some time to recover. Ricochet went on the offensive but he was caught going for a clothesline off the ropes and hit with a side effect. Matt went for broke with a moonsault from the top rope but he whiffed. Ricochet missed on a top rope move of his own but luckily he was able to surprise Hardy with a roll up pin to get the win.

Humberto Carrillo was the next challenger. Carrillo offered a show of sportsmanship handshake at the start of the match but Ricochet took the opportunity to surprise him with a roll up pin for a near fall. Humberto employed his usual high-flying attack, barely holding on to Ricochet with an arm drag off the ropes. After hitting Ricochet with a flip over the rope to the outside, Humberto slowed the pace down and worked over his opponent’s left arm. Carrillo controlled a tired Ricochet for a while before Zelina Vega made her way out onto the stage. Humberto missed on a moonsault off the top and Ricochet answered with an enziguri. The two then collided with each other near the ropes and both fell to the ground. After both were nearly counted out, the two traded blows before they ended up face to face on the top rope. Ricochet sent Humberto crashing down to the mat with a superplex. Ricochet hit multiple suplexes before heading back to the top rope. Carrillo met him up there, though, and attempted a reverse rana but Ricochet rolled through. Humberto managed to subdue Ricochet and keep him down for long enough to go up top and hit a moonsault to finally finish him off.

Andrade’s music hit and Zelina posed at the top of the ramp as if she was waiting for him. As Carrillo looked at Vega, Andrade came charging him from behind with a sneak attack. Andrade beat on Carrillo before tossing him to the outside. He ripped up one of the mats, exposing the concrete. Andrade dropped Humberto head first onto the floor with a Hammerlock DDT. Rey Mysterio came out to check on Carrillo as Andrade and Vega fled from the ringside area.

As Carrillo was stretchered to the back, Seth Rollin’s music hit. Wielding the same pipe that Mysterio gave to Owens, Seth and AOP attacked and laid out the US Champion in the middle of the ring before taunting him. Rollins initially made it seem like he was going to show mercy on Mysterio before heading back into the ring and finishing off Rey with a stomp.

Backstage, Charly asked Seth why he attacked Mysterio. Rollins said he was a leader and that he was going to lead by example.. He also said that he was challenging Rey for his US Title next week on Raw.

In her main roster debut, Deonnna Purrazzo had the tough task of facing Asuka. Purrazzo surprised one half of the women’s tag champs with a pump kick before the bell rang. That only served to anger Asuka who locked Deonna in a number of ankle and arm submissions. The NXT superstar showed her toughness and resilience by countering Asuka and slamming her face first into the canvas. However, that was the last offense she was able to get in. Asuka was soon able to clasp Purrazzo in an Asuka Lock and tap her out for the win.

In an interview with Charly Caruso, Becky Lynch talked about not being herself in recent months. She talked about being the golden goose that the powers at be were trying to protect. She then delivered a message to Asuka. Lynch said she needed to face Asuka to prove something to herself.

In the locker room, Rey Mysterio answered the challenge laid down by Seth Rollins, telling his attacker, “instead of settling a score, all he did was start a fight.”

In the main event of the evening, Randy Orton and AJ Styles looked to settle a score of their own. Randy tried to hit an early RKO but Styles was able to roll out of the ring and survive the early threat. AJ answered by locking Orton in a calf crusher but Randy was able to crawl to the ropes to break the hold. As The Viper hobbled around on the outside, Styles came charging in from behind to take out his injured left leg. A wobbly Orton was able to keep Styles at bay for a bit before hitting AJ with a powerslam and an inverted backbreaker. Randy got a bit too overconfident, heading to the top rope to try a superplex, but Styles was able to slide under and then once again chop Randy’s leg out from under him. AJ attempted a Styles Clash but Orton flipped him over the ropes and hit him with one of his vintage DDTs. Orton then went for another RKO but Styles countered into a calf crusher, which Randy managed to escape. After faking a phenomenal forearm attempt, Styles actually went for it a second later, a move which he instantly regretted, as Orton was able to catch him in midair and finish him off with an RKO.

Following the match, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson ran down to beat on Randy but the Viking Raiders came out to his defense to even the score. Ultimately, though, it was The O.C. who stood tall as the show went off the air.

Overall Thoughts

Given the nature of tonight’s two episodes in one taping structure, it’s a bit hard to judge the success of this Raw without seeing how next week’s episode turned out. This was clearly the set up episode, while next week’s pretaped edition will likely be the payoff.

It appears as if the Seth Rollins/Kevin Owens feud is going to play out until the Royal Rumble, so it makes sense for Rollins to have an in between feud with someone like Mysterio for the time being. Asuka/Becky Lynch also appears to be a feud that will culminate at the Rumble, which is apropos considering Asuka beat Lynch for the Smackdown Women’s Title back in January at the Rumble in Phoenix.

As for the match quality tonight, The Viking Raiders and The O.C. got more than twice the amount of time tonight than they did at last night’s TLC show. Though the match was much longer, it wasn’t much better, but at least it did have a decisive ending.

Hopefully, the Eric Rowan’s secret pet cage has a payoff sooner than later, because the storyline is really starting to feel stale. His opponents keep resorting to the same tactic week after week and all of his squash matches seem to follow the same formula.

The gauntlet match had some good high points, especially the Ricochet/Akira Tozawa and Ricochet/Humberto Carrillo interactions. Still, it never felt like the crowd was all that invested in the match. It certainly didn’t help that the match simply ended due to a stoppage and didn’t feature a proper finish or an actual winner.

Though she only had a few offensive maneuvers, the debuting Deonna Purrazzo showed she could handle herself in a main roster ring. It will be interesting to see if Purrazzo stays in a Raw women’s division that could use an infusion of new blood or heads back down to NXT’s crowded women’s scene where it’ll be hard to stick out.

AJ Styles vs. Randy Orton felt a bit plodding since it was mostly just Orton hobbling and crawling around on an injured leg. The phenomenal forearm into an RKO will never not be an impressive looking spot. It was a move that got arguably the biggest reaction of the night. Judging by the post-match action, it looks as if next week’s episode will probably feature a six-man match of The O.C. against Orton and The Viking Raiders.

Kevin Owens’ absence was felt tonight but it made sense to keep him off screen this week to sell the beating he took from Rollins and AOP. There’s a good chance he reemerges to save Mysterio from a beat down following Rey’s US Title match with Rollins.

It was good to see Kairi Sane make an appearance, considering how out of it she looked in the last half of the women’s tag team championship match at TLC.

There was no reference to Aleister Black’s win over Buddy Murphy at TLC but that might be because it was saved for the taped episode.

Overall, it was a decent show that started some new key storylines (Seth/Rey and Becky/Asuka) and kept a few other feuds (Orton/Styles, Viking Raiders/The O.C., Andrade/Humberto) going.

Match Results

The Viking Raiders vs. The O.C.
Bell Times: 8:19:34 – 8:39:03
Result: Gallows pinned Ivar following a Magic Killer (19:29)

Eric Rowan vs. Dante Leon
Bell Times: 8:47:35 – 8:49:29
Result: Rowan pinned Leon following a claw chokeslam (1:54)

R-Truth vs. Akira Tozawa
Bell Times
: 9:15:32 – 9:17:44
Result: Tozawa pinned R-Truth with a roll up (2:12),

Akira Tozawa vs. Ricochet
Bell Times: 9:22:29 – 9:28:34
Result: Ricochet pinned Tozawa following a recoil knee (6:05)

Ricochet vs. Matt Hardy
Bell Times: 9:32:45 – 9:39:15
Result: Ricochet pinned Hardy with a roll up (6:30)

Humberto Carrillo vs. Ricochet
Bell Times: 9:44:16 – 10:02:14
Result: Carrillo pinned Ricochet following a moonsault (17:58)

Asuka vs. Deonna Purrazzo 
Bell Times: 10:29:17 – 10:33:30
Result: Asuka submitted Purrazzo with an Asuka Lock (4:13)

AJ Styles vs. Randy Orton
Bell Times: 10:45:18 – 11:01:36
Result: Orton pinned Styles following an RKO (16:24)

WWE Monday Night Raw Review (12/9/19)

Venue: Bon Secours Wellness Arena (Greenville, SC)

Show Summary

The show began with Jerry “The King” Lawler in the middle of the ring. Lawler solemnly informed the crowd that this will be the first time that he will preside over the signing of divorce papers. Lana then made her entrance with her lawyer trailing behind. Rusev then came out donned in a daffy duck t-shirt and a suit jacket. Lana, in her trademark rushed cadence, told Rusev that she used to love him but the adulation of the fans and their Rusev Day chants got to his head. She then blamed the WWE Universe for the failure of their marriage. After a video recap of Lana and Bobby Lashley getting arrested last week was shown, Lana reiterated the talking points from before and then broke down and wept. The two then argued about who would get custody of their dog before King intervened and got the signing back on track.

Rusev said he would sign on only one condition, that he get a match with Lashley. Bobby then came down and said he was tired of all this nonsense. He was waiting for the divorce to be finalized so he could ask Lana to marry him. Lashley slammed Rusev’s head on the contract signing table and the two brawled for a bit to the outside before ending back in the ring where Rusev caught Lashley in position for a belly to belly suplex and slammed him through the table. Lana looked on with fire in her eyes.

Backstage, Charly Caruso interviewed Kevin Owens, asking him why he thought AOP attacked him last week. Without hesitation, Owens said AOP attacked him because Seth Rollins told them to. Kevin said he was lucky that he was able to get away from AOP last time and tonight, that was going to be a problem because he was going to go looking for them. KO then went walking through the backstage area where he ran into Rey Mysterio, who offered up his lead pipe as an equalizer.

Matt Hardy got a nice pop from the crowd during his entrance. Drew McIntyre then came down to the ring and talked about Hardy’s recently born third child. He made a few groan-inducing cracks about Hardy’s out of the ring behavior and how he probably shouldn’t be reproducing. Matt hit him with the twist of fate as soon as Drew entered the ring. Matt took the fight to Drew early on but it didn’t take long for McIntyre to gain the advantage. After Drew ran shoulder first into the post, Matt was able to hit him with a side effect but he only got a one count on the pinfall. Matt then tried another pin attempt but McIntyre rolled through, hit him with a future shock DDT and finished him off with a Claymore Kick.

An ‘Earlier Tonight’ video was shown of Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch in the locker room. Charlotte told Becky she didn’t like her, but right now, she has more of a dislike for the Kabuki Warriors. Flair asked Lynch if she would like to be Becky Two Belts again. Lynch said she’d rather face the Warriors two-on-one than team with Charlotte.

Kevin Owens was shown walking through the backstage area with the pipe Mysterio lent him. He ran into Mojo Rawley and asked him if he had seen the AOP. Rawley toyed with Owens for a bit before KO slapped him and walked off.

Batista was announced as the first inductee into the 2020 Hall of Fame.

The Viking Raiders came out to the ring and issued an open challenge. The Street Profits answered the call. Ford and Dawkins started off hot out of the gate. Ford hit Erik with a frog splash to get an early near fall that was broken up by Ivar. Ford and Ivar then did some dueling cartwheels before Ivar got the advantage on Ford with a spinning kick to the head. Dawkins soon came in to match Ivar in the size department, slamming him with an overhead belly to belly suplex. Ford then tagged in but Ivar hit them both with flying elbows before tagging in Erik who did some damage  before bringing his partner back in the ring to hit a Viking Experience for the win. After the match the two teams gave each other some mutual respect forearm bumps.

Seth Rollins’ music then hit. Rollins came down to the ring and said he had to take care of some unfinished business. He invited both teams to stay out there if they wanted to but both tandems opted to head to the back instead. Seth said he wanted to fight the AOP right now, but instead of getting Akam and Rezar, he got a pipe-wielding Kevin Owens to greet him in the ring. Owens asked Seth where the AOP were but Rollins denied being in cahoots with them. Suddenly, a video of a van pulling through the backstage entrance was shown on the screen and AOP hopped out.

Rollins and Owens bickered a bit before Seth said he was going to leave. KO then invited AOP down to the ring. Instead, they appeared on the screen, speaking in their native tongues in a threatening manner. Sami Zayn’s music hit and he walked out with Mojo Rawley. Zayn said that although he was officially part of the SmackDown roster, he was able to appear on Raw because he had applied for a managerial licence. Zayn then described himself as a liberator who sets people free. He then told Kevin that what he did to Mojo backstage was uncalled for and then demanded an apology. Rawley said everyone was tough when they have a steel pipe in their hands. Owens then tossed Mojo the pipe and stunned him.

After a commercial break, KO was shown walking through the backstage once again looking for AOP.

Back out in the arena, Aleister Black made his entrance for a match with Akira Tozawa, which was intercut with a video of a backstage promo of Buddy Murphy talking about how he was going to beat Black at TLC. The two had a back-and-forth feeling out process early on before Black hit the first big move of the match, nailing Tozawa with a knee as Akira came diving through the ropes on a suicide dive. Aleister then tossed his opponent back in the ring and knocked him silly with a thunderous Black Mass for the win.

Charly introduced a highlight video package of Humberto Carrillo before welcoming him into the backstage area for an interview. Zelina Vega and Andrade interrupted. Humberto and Andrade had a quick screaming and shoving match before parting ways while Zelina exclaimed, “Tonight?”

Out in the ring, Andrade went after Carrillo from the opening bell with what Samoa Joe called “unparalleled aggression.” The announce team wondered why Andrade was so fired up, theorizing it might have something to do with Carrillo and Zelina. After a few minutes of getting thrown around and beaten on, Humberto finally got his feet under him and started to fight back, hitting his usual high cross body/arm drag off the second rope combo. He then leaped to the top of the post and hit a moonsault on Andrade who was trying to regroup on the floor outside.

After a commercial break, the action was still going at a fast pace. Andrade hit Carrillo with a double foot stomp but then whiffed on a running double knee strike attempt into the corner. Carrillo countered with a missile dropkick off the top rope. He then went for an aztec press off the top rope but he missed by a lot. Andrade hit his spinning elbow but it wasn’t enough to put the rookie away. The two traded a stomp spot and kick spot before Andrade accidentally ran into Zelina and sent her flying off the ropes. Humberto capitalized with a surprise roll up pin for the win. Andrade and Zelina argued in the ring after the match.

Backstage, Rey Mysterio cut a promo talking about how important the US Championship was to him.

Buddy Murphy came down to the ring for a match with Zack Ryder. In a reverse of Murphy cutting a promo during Black’s entrance from before, this time Aleister was the one making the threats to Buddy. Murphy and Ryder then had a two-minute match in which Zack got a little bit of offense in before Buddy ended things with a Murphy’s Law.

Backstage, Owens walked up to AOP’s tinted van with a pipe in hand. He smashed the windows and passenger side mirror before breaking open the back door to reveal a hooded figure sitting in the backseat. Before he could see who it was, AOP attacked him from behind and beat him down, slamming his head into the back door. The figure then turned around and revealed himself to be Seth Rollins. Seth said “It’s come to this Kev. It’s a shame. I’m sorry,” before stomping KO’s head into the pavement.

Seth Rollins came out to face the live audience, passionately asking “What do you want from me?” Rollins finally cut the promo he’s seemingly been waiting to cut since he first started getting the boo bird treatment in the build up to the Brock Lesnar Summerslam match, a reaction which only became more pronounced during his ill-fated feud with “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt. The fans responded with “you suck” chants. Seth said that the fans’ negativity has forced him to stand side by side with the AOP. Akam and Rezar then came out to join him for a quick pose on the stage.

Backstage, Owens was shown being stretchered into an awaiting ambulance.

After a two-week absence from Raw, Becky Lynch returned to square off with the Kabuki Warriors. Lynch and Asuka started things off. Lynch got the upper hand early but the Warriors’ numbers advantage eventually got the best of her. Becky eventually overcame the odds and ended up dropping both with a double DDT. Sane and Lynch took turns missing on an elbow and a leg drop respectively. Eventually, Becky caught Asuka in her own submission hold but Sane pulled her partner out of the ring. After nearly being counted out due to Kairi holding her down, Becky made her way back into the ring, where she was met with a shining wizard by Asuka. Lynch showed her resilience, though, kicking out at two. Sane hit Becky with a forearm off the top rope but Becky would not stay down. Kairi then went back to the top for an elbow drop but Becky got her feet up. Lynch put Sane in the Disarm-Her but Asuka pulled her out of the ring. On the outside, Asuka hit Becky with a chair, which forced the ref to call for a disqualification. Kairi and Asuka then set up a table on the outside and Sane hit her insane elbow from the top rope. The Warriors walked off, holding their belts high.

Backstage, AJ Styles talked about how The O.C. were going to take the tag titles from the Viking Raiders. Styles then threatened Randy Orton, saying they might just end his career.

In the trainer’s room, Lynch and Charlotte had a brief encounter. Charlotte asked Lynch, “How’d that go?” before walking off. As she was strolling down the hallway, the Kabuki Warriors attacked her with a chair from behind.

Erick Rowan faced an unnamed local talent. The guy started off the match by running out of the ring and stealing Rowan’s mysterious covered pet cage, bringing it to the top of the ramp. Rowan went to go check on the cage as his opponent ran back to the ring, hoping to win via count out. Instead, Rowan dashed back and gave him a barrage of claw chokeslams before the ref stopped the match. Rowan then went up the ramp to check on his creature.

Backstage, Charly caught up with the Kabuki Warriors, asking them what’s next. Asuka then laid down the challenge to Becky and Charlotte for the women’s tag titles at TLC. Back in the trainer’s room, Lynch asked Flair if she wanted to fight them. She said “yes, but let’s up the ante.” Becky, understanding full well what that meant, replied, “Tables, Ladders and Chairs.”

The Street Profits had a pretaped “Monday After the Weekend Update” spot spoofing SNL’s Weekend Update. This was the usual Street Profits backstage segment hyping up matches that have already been announced only in a very low budget studio setting.

Rey Mysterio and AJ Styles battled for the US Title in the main event.  The two were each dressed in red and black gear. They started the action in quick fashion, trading roll up near falls before taking a breath. Mysterio eventually tossed Styles through the rope to the outside and followed it up with a dropkick through the ropes and a moonsault from the second rope to the outside. Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows then made their way down to the ring to add some muscle. Their appearance was enough to distract Mysterio who got thrown shoulder first into the post by AJ.

Styles worked over Rey for a few minutes before Mysterio was able to fly through the ropes and hit Styles with what Samoa Joe referred to as a “sunset flip wall bomb” into the barricade.  The two barely beat the count of nine to keep things going. Mysterio hit a flurry of offensive maneuvers before AJ countered by slamming him directly onto his face.  Rey hit an enziguri and went for a 619 which Gallows shielded AJ from. Styles went up top but Mysterio met him up there. A hurricanrana attempt didn’t go that well. Both men crashed awkwardly towards the canvas. Styles regrouped and hit Rey with a power bomb and a Styles Clash but just as he was going for a potential winning pinfall, Randy Orton popped into the ring and winked at him. Having surpassed the 11 pm ending time, Rey rolled up a confused AJ to retain the United States Championship with the trademark & copyright graphic on the screen. The show awkwardly went off the air during the “still united states champion” announcement and a KFC waffles commercial played.

Overall Thoughts

Ultimately, it was a bit of a rushed, awkward ending to what was otherwise a pretty good show. This Mysterio/Styles bout didn’t reach the high points that the match which Mysterio won the title did but it was a decent main event that featured another Orton run-in that was telegraphed but still popped the crowd regardless.

The left of the ramp corner had some bad juju tonight. There were two rough botches: Humberto Carrillo’s Aztec Press and Rey Mysterio’s hurricanrana into what looked liked it was supposed to be a Styles Clash counter spot. Both were towards the end of their respective matches and both took the wind out of the crowd for the finishing sequences.

Otherwise, it was a good go-home show that built up three Raw matches for the TLC card: Kabuki Warriors vs. Charlotte and Becky Lynch, Rusev vs. Bobby Lashley and Buddy Murphy vs. Aleister Black. It was a bit odd to end with an Orton interference on Styles spot, unless they’re planning to announce that match up later in the week. The Drew McIntyre/Orton stuff also had no resolution, so maybe they’re shelving those storylines for after Sunday.

The AOP/Kevin Owens/Seth Rollins stuff had a good payoff. After beating around the bush for a few months, Rollins finally came out and cut the true heel-turn promo on the fans that’s been building for a while now, and he delivered it well. Rollins’ run as a face champion post-Wrestlemania win over Brock started off so promising, but then the Becky/Corbin/Lacey Evans stuff happened and he just never recovered. The feud against The Fiend proved to be the nail in the coffin. Now, he has a fresh start and a good direction to head into with Royal Rumble/Mania season on the horizon.

The Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte vs. Asuka Tables, Ladders and Chairs match from last year’s TLC was one of the best overall matches of 2018. Adding Kairi into the fold and forcing Charlotte and Becky to work together adds some fresh, interesting dynamics this time around. From a pure ‘entertaining match’ standpoint, that one looks like it has the highest upside on the TLC card as of now. Though the build has been way more miss than hit, Rusev vs. Lashley may end up being a fun, shenanigans filled brawl as well. Black vs. Murphy should be good, but how well received it is by the crowd will likely depend on where they put it on the card. Hopefully, Buddy can match Cesaro’s performance against Aleister at Extreme Rules, which is possible, but it will be no easy feat.

Match Results

Matt Hardy vs. Drew McIntyre
Bell Times: (8:30:37 – 8:32:53)
Result: McIntyre pinned Hardy following a Claymore Kick (2:16)

The Viking Raiders vs. The Street Profits
Bell Times: (8:48:07 – 8:51:19)
Result: Ivar pinned Ford following a Viking Experience

Aleister Black vs. Akira Tozawa
Bell Times: (9:13:35 – 9:17:10)
Result: Black pinned Tozawa following a Black Mass (3:35)

Andrade vs. Humberto Carrillo
Bell Times: (9:25:41 – 9:36:42)
Result: Carrillo pinned Andrade with a roll up (11:01)

Buddy Murphy vs. Zack Ryder
Bell Times: (9:45:00 – 9:46:59)
Result:  Murphy pinned Ryder following a Murphy’s Law

Becky Lynch vs. The Kabuki Warriors
Bell Times: (10:04:51 – 10:17:46)
Result: Lynch won via disqualification following an Asuka chair shot (14:55)

Erick Rowan vs. Local Talent
Bell Times: (10:28:39 – 10:29:58)
Result: Rowan via ref stoppage following a claw chokeslam (1:21)

Rey Mysterio vs. AJ Styles
Bell Times: (10:45:58 – 11:30)
Result: Mysterio pinned Styles with a roll up (14:22)

 

Monday Night Raw Review (12/2/19)

Venue: Bridgestone Arena (Nashville, TN)

Show Summary

Walking back his “we all sucked” comments from last week’s town hall, Seth Rollins shifted tones in his show opening promo this time around, apologizing to the fans, the locker room and Kevin Owens. KO came down to the ring and let Rollins know that his apology didn’t pass the smell test. AOP then appeared at the top of the stage to challenge both Seth and Kevin to a fight. Ever the skeptic, Owens predicted such a scenario would end badly for him. Still trying to display the aura of peacemaker, Rollins simply shrugged and said he tried and walked to the back, having a brief stare down with AOP at the top of ramp before the two let him pass without incident. KO was clearly in fighting mode.

Lana came out to the top of the ramp and had some back and forth banter with Owens. KO said she was beautiful on the outside but repulsive on the inside. Lana called Owens a candy eater, pizza eater, basic everyday man. Lashley then came down the ramp with two local police officers trailing behind to protect Lana from Rusev. Bobby and Kevin then went on to have the kind of punch-heavy brawl that one would expect from those two. After Owens hit Lashley with a pop up powerbomb, AOP came down to attack KO before dragging his body to the back. 

Charly Caruso entered the ring to talk with Lana and Lashley. As the detectives and Lana and Lashley all faced the stage, Rusev came running in from the crowd to surprise Lashley from behind with a superkick. He then taunted Lana before running off as the crowd chanted Rusev Day. Incensed, Bobby got in the detectives’ faces to scold them. One of the officers responded that in the state of Tennessee, they do things differently. Bobby angrily bumped the officer, which earned him a set of handcuffs. Lana then slapped him, which earned her the same fate. After a commercial break, footage was shown of Lana and Lashley being loaded into a squad car and being taken out of the arena as R-Truth and the Street Profits looked on. 

Drew McIntyre had a quick ‘throw around a smaller competitor like a rag doll’ match with Akira Tozawa. Tozawa got a brief hope spot following a missile dropkick but McIntyre dashed those hopes with a Claymore Kick that turned Tozawa inside out. 

After a dominant win, Drew picked up the mic and talked about cowards complaining on social media. He said he’d rather take a more direct approach and called out Randy Orton. McIntyre said that Randy was the most ferocious thing of the past but now the only thing Orton is ferocious at is posting on social media. Randy responded by saying there wasn’t a Drew McIntyre/Randy Orton problem; there was a Drew McIntyre/Reality problem. He then offered to solve that problem, but before the two could work out a proper solution, The O.C. interrupted things. They expressed their displeasure over the fact that Randy helped Rey Mysterio beat AJ Styles for the US Title last week. McIntyre excused himself from the ring, and Styles, Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows proceeded to beat him down. Ricochet, Humberto Carrillo and Mysterio luckily made the save. 

After returning from commercial, Orton was backstage with Ricochet, Carrillo and Mysterio. Rey asked him if he was alright. Randy said he appreciated the assistance but that he didn’t need it. 

Aleister Black and Tony Nese squared off in a match in which the former cruiserweight champion got in a surprising amount of offense. As usual, Black got some big “oh” reactions from the crowd with his thunderous kicks and strikes before finishing off Nese with a Black Mass, which Jerry Lawler referred to as Black Magic. Charly then interviewed Buddy who was watching the match on a monitor backstage, asking him if he regretted knocking on Aleister’s door. Murphy said that Black is a hothead who takes himself too seriously and he was going to be the one to calm him down. 

Andrade beat Eric Young in a quick match that didn’t seem to accomplish much besides getting Andrade a win. R-Truth then came running out with the usual crowd of 24/7 title challengers chasing behind him. Truth decided to hide at the feet of NASCAR drivers Michael Waltrip and Kyle Busch who were sitting at ringside. The strategy worked as the chasers all went running by him into the crowd. Unfortunately, Waltrip took off his fleece to reveal a referee shirt as Busch rolled up Truth from behind to become the new 24/7 Champion.

A frustrated Seth Rollins talked with Charly backstage and said he can’t win, because he’s damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t. He said everyone’s a critic, but not everyone’s got the guts to be a leader. 

Erick Rowan came out with his mysterious covered animal cage for a match with No Way Jose. He beat up some of the members of Jose’s conga line before turning his attention to their leader. He beat Jose after two claw chokeslams. Backstage, Sarah Schrieber asked Rowan what was in the cage but he simply glared at her before walking away.

The Kabuki Warriors battled Charlotte Flair in a handicap match. The Women’s Tag Champions got a two on one advantage on Flair throughout the match but Charlotte managed to fight them off and survive. Flair eventually attempted a moonsault off the top rope onto both her competitors but they each got their knees up. Charlotte went for a figure four leg lock but Asuka caught her in an armbar. Flair was able to power up and slam Asuka down to the mat but Kairi Sane saved her from a pinfall. Charlotte attempted to superplex both Warriors from the top but they countered and slammed her down to the mat. Charlotte hit a double spear on both Asuka and Sane. Shen then nailed Asuka with another spear and then applied the figure eight. Unfortunately, Flair didn’t realize Sane had tagged in. Kairi went up to the top rope and nailed a preoccupied Charlotte with an elbow drop to get the pinfall. 

In the main event, Rey Mysterio, Ricochet and Humberto Carrillo faced off against The O.C. in a six-man tag match, which was the usual heels get the heat early and the faces make a comeback with all their exciting moves kind of affair. The crowd was pretty invested in the final few minutes of the bout, which ended when Styles hit Ricochet with a Styles Clash off the second rope and then another for good measure. As Styles was celebrating, Randy Orton sneaked in from behind and hit him with an RKO, then did his pose on the ropes as the show went off the air.

Overall Thoughts

Some pretty good enthusiasm from the fans in attendance for the duration of the entire show is something that’s noticeably been missing from Raw crowds in recent months, so that was a welcome change. Speaking of welcome changes, Samoa Joe being put back on commentary was a great move.

As for the show itself, it was decent but it felt a little repetitive when compared to last week’s episode. There was another AOP assault on Kevin Owens. There was another Rusev/Lashley angle that ended in an arrest. The Kabuki Warriors’ numbers advantage got the best of Charlotte again. Erick Rowan had another squash match. Rinse and repeat.

There was no match tonight the quality of Rey Mysterio vs. AJ Styles for the US Title, although Charlotte vs. The Kabuki Warriors had some good action and intensity.

No Becky Lynch for the second week in a row is a bit strange. It seems like they could be saving her for next week’s go home show to have some sort of possible angle with Charlotte and the Kabuki Warriors and maybe build toward a tag title match at TLC.

Randy Orton’s a bit all over the place right now. Before Survivor Series, he was teasing tension with Ricochet. Last week, he cost AJ Styles his title. This week, he’s having face-to-face confrontations with Drew McIntyre and also getting into it with Styles and The O.C. as well.

They’re doing a nice job drawing out Rollins’s heel turn and having him fence hop a bit.

Overall, this felt like sort of a holding pattern episode. Last week set up a lot of angles coming out of Survivor Series. This week fleshed them out a bit. There are still no Raw matches announced for TLC, which is in less than two weeks, so presumably there should be a lot that happens on next week’s show.

Match Results

Bobby Lashley vs. Kevin Owens
Bell Time: 8:20:23 – 8:29:10
Result: Owens won via disqualification following an AOP attack (8:47)

Drew McIntyre vs. Akira Tozawa
Bell Times: 8:45:33 – 8:49:45
Result: McIntyre pinned Tozawa following a Claymore Kick (4:12)

Aleister Black vs. Tony Nese
Bell Times: 9:12:11 – 9:15:38
Result: Black pinned Nese following a Black Mass (3:17)

Andrade vs. Eric Young
Bell Times: 9:23:09 – 9:27:46
Result: Andrade pinned Young following a hammerlock DDT (4:35)

Erick Rowan vs. No Way Jose
Bell Times: 9:47:19 – 9:48:55
Result: Rowan pinned Jose following a claw chokeslam (1:36)

Charlotte Flair vs. The Kabuki Warriors
Bell Times: 10:01:27 – 10:15:23
Result: Sane pinned Charlotte following an elbow drop (13:56)

The Viking Raiders vs. Mark Sterling & Mitchell Lyons
Bell Times: 10:25:55 – 10:27:28
Result: The Viking Raiders won via pinfall following a Viking Experience (1:33)

Rey Mysterio, Ricochet and Humberto Carrillo vs. The O.C. 
Bell Times: 10:43:47 – 10:58:26
Result: Styles pinned Ricochet following a Styles Clash