Randy Orton Attacked Matt Hardy
Originally, Orton vs. Hardy in a No Holds Barred match was advertised for this episode, but because Hardy wasn't medically cleared to compete in storyline, it never ended up happening. If that was always the plan, why bother promoting it in the first place? Despite that, this was a hell of a segment with both Hardy and Orton cutting excellent emotional promos. Orton's attack on Hardy was even more vicious than last week. That has to be for it for Hardy on WWE TV, right?
Aleister Black def. Erick Rowan
Black and Rowan have been undefeated in singles competition since arriving on Raw in October's Draft. There was no explanation for why the match was made, but it's nice to see them finally facing some real competition. I wasn't a fan of how Rowan dominated a majority of the match, but at least it was a hard-hitting affair and the result was the right one. Rowan hadn't been on Raw in weeks before this episode, so it seems like WWE is giving up on his push after all these months. Black apparently didn't care enough to reveal what was in Rowan's cage because he never bothered to look inside.
Charlotte Flair Addressed NXT Women's Champion Rhea Ripley
Flair already revealed at NXT TakeOver: Portland on Sunday night that she wants to face Ripley for the NXT Women's Championship at WrestleMania 36, so although this promo was nothing new, it was well delivered and set the stage nicely for their 'Mania match. I was half expecting Bianca Belair to interrupt her and challenge her to an impromptu matchup (since Flair laid her out at TakeOver as well), but there's still time for that to happen on NXT in the next few weeks.
24/7 Champion Riddick Moss def. Mojo Rawley and R-Truth in a Triple Threat Match
None of the three men were given televised entrances, which immediately made me lost interest. Then again, I probably wouldn't have cared about it, anyway. The only thing worth noting about this match is that Truth performed the Five Knuckle Shuffle and attempted the Attitude Adjustment before Rawley reversed it. I realize the chances of any interaction between Truth and John Cena at WrestleMania are slim, but hey, it's better than what's been rumored recently (Cena vs. Elias).
Drew McIntyre def. MVP
Before the bout, McIntyre played with the crowd a little bit and was interrupted by Paul Heyman. They had a solid exchange on the mic that effectively hyped McIntyre's match with WWE Champion Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania. MVP formally retired from the ring (in WWE) three weeks ago, but his retirement was short-lived as he took on McIntyre here. If reports are to be believed, he has signed on to be a backstage producer for the company, which is cool. Granted, McIntyre squashed him within a minute, but that's probably the perfect role for MVP at this point.
Shayna Baszler Interrupted Raw Women's Champion Becky Lynch
I can't be the only person who thought it was strange that Lynch brought a bag full of money to the ring with her. She hasn't come off very well lately, so hopefully they can fix that before she and Baszler presumably wage war at WrestleMania. Speaking of Shayna, her promo was straightforward yet unspectacular. That last line about her tearing the living shit out of Lynch was great, but they need to rev up the intensity as the feud progresses.
Angel Garza and Bobby Lashley def. Rusev and Humberto Carrillo
Almost five months after the feud started, Rusev vs. Lashley is still going on. WWE clearly has no plans for Rusev, so they'll continue to have him face Lashley or compete in random Gauntlet matches until he either re-signs or leaves. He's been booked to lose every match he's had for the past two months, so I sincerely wish he walks when his contract expires even though I don't think he will. This tag team affair was entertaining enough and Garza pinning Rusev was the correct outcome. He's in the midst of a major push and I hope it pays off with a shot at the United States Championship at WrestleMania.
WWE Women's Tag Team Champion Kairi Sane def. Natalya by Count-Out
Asuka beat and legitimately injured Natalya two weeks ago, hence why Sane faced her here. Natalya will be a part of the women's Elimination Chamber coming up but not Sane, making it all the more confusing why Sane won this match. Don't get me wrong, I don't hate the decision, but how is Sane not in there over Sarah Logan or Liv Morgan? For what it's worth, this was fun while it lasted, but I don't understand the booking.
The Viking Raiders and Kevin Owens Crashed Raw Tag Team Champion Seth Rollins' Sermon
Rollins seemed to say a lot without saying much at all, but I suppose that was the point. He generated a ton of heat, which means he's playing his role remarkably well. I don't need to see a "sermon" from Rollins every week, but this worked to establish him as a hated heel. Viking Raiders crashing the segment while Owens delivered a Stunner to Rollins on the stage successfully set up the six-man tag team main event for later in the night.
Ricochet def. Karl Anderson
There were rumblings after AJ Styles got hurt at the Royal Rumble that he'd miss WrestleMania, but he came back in three weeks. That's fantastic news. He cut a promo beforehand running down a slew of top talent and notable names, including The Undertaker. It's been heavily rumored that he'll be Styles' WrestleMania opponent this year, so I assume his promo was designed to plant the seeds for that program. It would have been dumb for Styles to lose here if that 'Mania match is indeed happening, so I'm glad Anderson took the loss instead. It was a perfectly fine showcase for Ricochet ahead of Super ShowDown.
Kevin Owens and The Viking Raiders def. Raw Tag Team Champion Murphy and AOP by disqualification
I've enjoyed this feud by and large as the matches have been delivered and the babyfaces don't feel damaged by the booking. They did this same six-man tag team match not too long ago and that had an elimination stipulation as well as a clean finish. I didn't like how so much time was devoted to this only for it to end in a disqualification, but that's nitpicking. Before the heels could continue their assault on the babyfaces afterward, The Street Profits made the save to a big pop. I don't know where Samoa Joe was since he was on last week and I didn't read anything about him getting hurt again.
Raw has been a much better show in 2020 than it ever was in 2019, but this wasn't one of the red brand's stronger efforts in recent weeks. The opening segment was the highlight of the show and nothing else came close to topping it. There were some quality matches and build for Super ShowDown, Elimination Chamber and WrestleMania (and yes, that is way too many pay-per-views), but the excitement level wasn't as high as it has been lately with the three hours dragging more than usual. Hopefully they can pick the pace back up next week on what will be the go-home show for Super ShowDown. If nothing else, props to the crowd in Everett for being electric all night long.
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