By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw on the USA Network
Aired live on January 20, 2020 from Wichita, Kansas at Intrust Bank Arena
[Hour One] The Raw opening video kicked off the show… There was a weak pyro display on the stage… The broadcast team was Vic Joseph and Jerry Lawler…
Seth Rollins, the AOP duo of Akam and Rezar, and Buddy Murphy made their entrance dressed in black (Rollins wore his awesome stained glass themed t-shirt and a single black glove). Rollins told the booing crowd that he wanted to thank them for believing in him and their support.
Rollins put his arm around Murphy and said that he opened his eyes and embraced his fate last week. Rollins said Murphy now stands on the right side of history. Rollins pointed to the big screen where a video package recapped last week’s six-man fistfight main event.
Rollins introduced Murphy as his newest disciple and then hugged him. Rollins said it was a crucial time and the fans need to choose what type of people they will be. He said the battle lines were drawn and everyone in the locker room needed to decide which side they are on because “you’re either with us or you’re against us.”
Kevin Owens’ entrance music interrupted Rollins. Owens walked onto the stage with a mic in his hand, then Samoa Joe’s music played and he joined Owens. Owens told Joe that Rollins talks too much. Owens said taking out Big Show was no easy task. He said Show would be back to deal with Rollins eventually and the bigger problem for Rollins is that he didn’t get rid of him or Joe.
Owens suggested less talking and more fighting. Owens threw his mic aside. Rollins said that if Owens wanted a fight then they could fight, but it wouldn’t happen on the spot. Rollins said they needed to decide on a proper time and place. Joe said he thought he saw a Monday Night Messiah, but his ears heard another typical lame, lawyered up ass-hat.
Rollins said he’s a forgiving man, but not so much for AOP. Rollins said that if the two of them were hellbent on fighting the four of them then they could “come on down and dance with destiny.” Joe said that one of the side effects of being an ass-hat is that your listening skills aren’t very good. Joe pointed out that they never said they were alone. “Come on out, boys,” Joe said.
“The Viking Raiders” Erik and Ivar joined Owens and Joe on the stage and then they all headed to the ring and brawled with Rollins and his crew. Rollins fled the ring. AOP were cleared. Murphy took a uranage slam from Joe. The babyfaces posed while Joe’s music played…
Joseph and Lawler spoke behind their desk and hyped the U.S. Title match as the first championship ladder match on Raw since 2007. A video package replayed Mysterio winning the U.S. Championship, losing it to Andrade, and other highlights from their feud. Rey Mysterio made his entrance going into a commercial break, which included a Royal Rumble ad… [C]
Powell’s POV: The opening segment was solid and set the stage for an eight-man tag match. I still wish WWE would take this opportunity to have The Messiah rechristen Buddy Murphy with a less generic sounding name. I’m surprised they are going right to the ladder match rather than saving it for later in the show. Perhaps I should not be, as they have been loading up the first half of Raw lately.
Backstage, Rollins was telling Murphy and AOP that they were going to “fix this.” Kayla Braxton showed up with a mic and said they appeared to be caught off guard. Rollins said that wasn’t the case. Rollins said he and Murphy were challenging the Viking Raiders for the Raw Tag Titles tonight…
Powell’s POV: Well, so much for the eight-man tag match. AOP just sort of looked at each other and didn’t show any over the top surprise by Rollins not picking them for the obvious tag title contenders role.
Andrade and Zelina Vega made their entrance. There were ladders set up around the ring…
1. Andrade (w/Zelina Vega) vs. Rey Mysterio in a ladder match for the U.S. Championship. Ring announcer Mike Rome delivered in-ring introductions for the title match. Andrade rolled to ringside and grabbed a ladder to start the match. Mysterio kicked the ladder. Andrade came right back by flinging Mysterio into the barricade.
Andrade laid a ladder the ring ring and then set up Mysterio for a superplex onto it, but Mysterio held onto the ropes. Mysterio performed a huracanrana that sent Andrade onto (and mostly over) the ladder heading into a break at 1:45. [C]
Mysterio performed a huracanrana that shot Andrade into a ladder that was set up in a corner of the ring. Mysterio slid two ladders into the ring and made a play for the belt using the bigger of the two, but Andrade cut him off. Andrade suplexed Mysterio twice and then performed a third suplex onto a ladder.
Andrade set up a ladder over the ropes and the big ladder. Mysterio fought back and went for a huracanrana on Andrade from the ropes, but Andrade caught him and ended up powerbombing him onto the ladder heading into another break. [C]
Coming out of the break, there were two ladders wedged between the standing ladder and the ropes. Mysterio made a play for the belt, but Andrade met him at the top of the ladder and fought him. Andrade placed Mysterio on his back, but Mysterio countered into a huracanrana that sent Andrade crashing onto one of the ladders.
Mysterio kicked the ladder out of the ring and then performed a 619 that sent Andrade to the floor. Mysterio made a play for the title belt. Andrade returned to the ring and pulled the ladder out from under Mysterio, who held onto the structure holding the title belt. Mysterio dropped down and went for a huracanrana that was botched (ouch).
Mysterio sent Andrade to ringside with a backdrop. Mysterio climbed the ladder, but Vega climbed the other side and sat on top of the ladder and blocked his path. Vega slapped Mysterio, then Andrade returned and performed a Hammerlock DDT that drove Mysterio through a ladder wedged between the ropes and the standing ladder. Andrade climbed the main ladder and pulled down the title belt for the win.
Andrade defeated Rey Mysterio in 18:45 in a ladder match to retain the U.S. Championship.
After the match, Andrade had Vega pull back the mats on the floor at ringside. Andrade brought Mysterio to ringside and set up for his finisher, but a man dressed in a Mysterio mask showed up at ringside. The masked man unmasked and revealed himself to be Humberto Carrillo, then he fought with Andrade briefly. Andrade and Vega retreated to the stage while Carrillo checked on Mysterio… [C]
Powell’s POV: A good ladder match with a couple of overly ambitious spots, namely that huracanrana from the belt hook. Mysterio took the worst of that spill and hopefully he’s okay. Carrillo returning to prevent Andrade from hitting Mysterio with the same move that put him on the shelf was logical. It will be interesting to see if this is the end of the Andrade vs. Mysterio feud for now and whether they can get Carrillo over this time around.
Joseph and Lawler stood behind their desk and set up the annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. video package…
2. Aleister Black vs. a local wrestler. Black’s entrance was televised while the local was already in the ring. The local charged Black at the bell and ate a Black Mass kick. Black covered “whoever that is” (according to Jerry Lawler) and scored the pin…
Aleister Black beat a local wrestler in 0:09.
A brief Brock Lesnar video was shown while Joseph hyped him as appearing after the break… [C]
[Hour Two] WWE Champion Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman made their entrance. The broadcast team narrated footage of last week’s angle involving Lesnar and R-Truth. Heyman delivered his introduction. Heyman said he thinks the fans are taking things for granted. Heyman said he issues spoilers and the fans say, of course, because he’s Lesnar.
Heyman said the same thing is happening with the spoiler that Lesnar will enter the Royal Rumble first and win the match. Heyman ran through how the Rumble match works. Heyman said Lesnar has vowed that 29 other contracted challengers are going to be eliminated until he stands victorious.
Heyman noted that the winner of the Rumble match gets to choose which champion he will face at WrestleMania. Heyman said Lesnar has deemed that there isn’t anyone in the locker room who is worthy of main eventing WrestleMania against him. Fans booed.
“Wait a second, timeout,” Heyman said. “Who the hell do you think you are to boo Brock Lesnar?” Heyman asked the fans if they really believe that anyone “in WWE or anywhere else” is worthy of stepping in the ring with Lesnar. “Name one, don’t worry, we’ll wait,” Heyman said.
Ricochet made his entrance with a mic in hand and walked toward the ring as he spoke about how he’s heard whispers that some of the wrestlers are afraid of facing Lesnar. Ricochet spoke about his risk taking style and said the word afraid isn’t in his vocabulary.
Heyman said Ricochet must have received his education in Wichita. Heyman called Lesnar a hungry champion and referred to Ricochet as lunchmeat. Heyman told Ricochet to go backstage before he gets hurt. Ricochet said he was staying put and wasn’t afraid to get in the ring with Lesnar. Ricochet went to the ring steps, took a deep breath, and then went to the apron. Ricochet hesitated and then entered the ring.
“Now that I’m in the ring, I want you to know that I am not afraid to challenge you to a fight right now,” Ricochet told Lesnar. “Really?” a smiling Lesnar asked Heyman. Lesnar and Heyman walked past Ricochet and started to leave the ring. Ricochet asked Lesnar if he was scared.
Lesnar returned to the ring and kicked Ricochet in the balls. Lesnar picked up the microphone. “Not scared,” Lesnar said. Lesnar dropped the mic and then headed up the aisle with Heyman. Lesnar walked past the broadcast team and headed backstage through a different area…
Powell’s POV: I didn’t expect Ricochet to get the better of Lesnar and I really didn’t want them to foreshadow him as a surprise winner of the Rumble match, but I also hoped he’d at least put up a bit of a fight instead of just taking a kick to the balls.
Charly Caruso interviewed Randy Orton backstage and asked what he says to people who say his opponent Drew McIntyre is on par with him as a favorite to win the Rumble match. Orton said McIntyre is a hell of a guy who has a hell of a future and a hell of a chop, but he’s not on par with him. Orton pointed out that he can strike at anytime with the three most dangerous letters in sports entertainment…
Powell’s POV: It’s interesting that babyface (at least this week) Orton put over McIntyre as a hell of a guy. McIntyre has been more playful with the live crowds lately and this strikes me as another sign that he’s going to be cast as a babyface.
Randy Orton was making his entrance as the show went to break… [C]
3. Randy Orton vs. Drew McIntyre. McIntyre’s entrance was televised. Joseph noted that Lawler picked McIntyre to win the Rumble. Lawler said he switches sides more often than a windshield wiper. The wrestlers ended up at ringside. Orton picked up McIntyre and dropped him back first onto the barricade twice.
Orton tried to drop McIntyre on the barricade a third time, but McIntyre avoided it and shoved Orton into the ring post. McIntyre went for a Claymore Kick, but Orton moved and a production guy took the kick. Trainers ran out to check on the production staffer heading into the break. [C]
McIntyre leapt from the top rope and into an Orton dropkick coming out of the break. Orton and McIntyre traded punches in the middle of the ring. McIntyre fired away with a couple of chops, then Orton poked him in the eye. McIntyre threw a kick at Orton, who came right back with a draping DDT.
Orton looked to the crowd and then struck his Viper’s Pose. Orton went for his finisher, but McIntyre shoved him off and then headbutted him, which Joseph referred to as a Glasgow Kiss. McIntyre performed a couple of moves and then set up in the corner and did the countdown for his finisher, but Orton performed a powerslam instead for a near fall.
Orton placed McIntyre in a seated position on the top rope and fired punches at him before performing a superplex. Orton rolled to ringside. The OC trio of AJ Styles, Luke Gallows, and Karl Anderson hit the ring and attacked McIntyre to apparently end the match.
Randy Orton fought Drew McIntyre to an apparent no-contest in 12:00.
McIntyre fought back briefly, but started to lose the numbers advantage. Orton returned to the ring with a chair in his hand and helped McIntyre clear the ring. Orton’s music played while Lawler said he couldn’t believe that Orton and McIntyre were working together.
Orton held the chair in his hand while McIntyre had a fist out. Joseph wondered if they would be the final two in the Rumble match. Orton dropped the chair, then told McIntyre that he’s a tough SOB. It looked like Orton was going to leave the ring, but he dropped McIntyre with an RKO.
Orton’s music played and he started to leave the ring. McIntyre took the mic and referred to Orton by his full name, then said, “Give me a microphone that bloody works,” and threw the mic down. McIntyre was given another mic. McIntyre said he should have given Orton a Claymore Kick. He said so that’s what an RKO out of nowhere means.
McIntyre said that wouldn’t happen to him again. McIntyre said he hopes they end up in the Rumble match again. He said the Claymore Kick would not come out of nowhere. McIntyre said he would kick Orton’s head off his shoulders, then win the Rumble match, and finally main event WrestleMania…
Powell’s POV: Here’s hoping that McIntyre’s promo is the real Rumble match spoiler.
Backstage, Charlotte Flair was interviewed by Charly Caruso, who recalled that Flair eliminated the most competitors and was the second to last woman standing in last year’s Rumble match. Flair said she’s prepared to face anyone. Becky Lynch showed up behind her and grinned. Once Flair spotted her, Lynch walked away. Flair said she was eliminated by someone who wasn’t even supposed to be in the match. She said she is ready to face 29 women this year and questioned whether they are prepared to face The Queen…
Raw Women’s Champion Becky Lynch made her entrance for a match against Kairi Sane… [C] Joseph hyped Lynch as the guest on Tuesday’s WWE Backstage… Footage aired of Asuka spraying mist into the face of Lynch after the contract signing on last week’s show…
Lynch stood in the ring with her title belt and a mic. “The Man has come around to Kansas,” Lynch started. She said Asuka did her a favor last week because having mist sprayed her eyes made her see things clearer than ever. Lynch said Asuka beat her at the Rumble last year, but she still won in the end by going on to make history all around the world while Asuka went on YouTube to make soup. Lynch said she will teach Asuka what she knows – “you can’t beat me anymore”…
4. Raw Women’s Champion Becky Lynch vs. Kairi Sane (w/Asuka) in a non-title match. Sane’s entrance was televised. Lynch got out to a quick start and had Sane down at ringside. Lynch caught Asuka approaching her, but Sane chop blocked her from behind. Asuka hit Lynch’s bad leg with the decorative umbrella that she brought to the ring. [C]
Asuka sat on the turnbuckle and shouted encouragement to Sane, who caught Lynch with a DDT for a near fall. Lynch came back with a kick that knocked Sane off the apron. Lynch threw Sane back inside the ring, then turned and punched Asuka off the turnbuckle. Lynch performed an exploder suplex on Sane, kicked her, and applied the Disarmer finisher for the win.
Becky Lynch beat Kairi Sane in 9:00 in a non-title match.
Asuka attacked Lynch right after the bell and put her in the Asuka Lock. Asuka released the hold, barked at the referee, and then threw a kick to the head of Lynch…
The Viking Raiders were shown standing in front of their red light, then a shot aired of Rollins, Murphy, and AOP while Joseph hyped the Raw Tag Title match as coming up after the break… [C]
Powell’s POV: I have enjoyed the build to the Lynch vs. Asuka match. We went from Lynch doubting herself to finding confidence in her go-home promo, only to have Asuka leave her lying.
The broadcast team stood behind their desk and spoke about the death of Rocky Johnson. Lawler said he started working with Johnson back in 1976. He said they had some great matches, Johnson was a great athlete, and he was a great father to The Rock.
[Hour Three] The Rocky Johnson video aired. The fans applauded and some chanted Rocky…
Backstage, Sarah Schreiber caught up with Asuka and Sane and asked Asuka if this is the type of champion Asuka wants to be known as. She called her out for attacking Lynch from behind. Asuka yelled at Schreiber in Japanese and then said Lynch is not ready for her…
Ring entrances for the Raw Tag Title match took place. Rollins and Murphy came out to Rollins’ entrance music. AOP’s music played and they joined Rollins and Murphy. The Viking Raiders made their entrance, then Joe and Owens made their entrances and accompanied the champions to ringside…
5. “The Viking Raiders” Erik and Ivar (w/Samoa Joe, Kevin Owens) vs. Seth Rollins and Buddy Murphy (w/Akam, Rezar) for the Raw Tag Titles. Mike Rome delivered in-ring introductions for the title match. Rollins had Murphy start the match and hugged him, then Murphy turned into a running knee from Erik. Ivar checked in and was slammed by Erik onto Murphy, who rolled to ringside. AOP climbed onto the apron and were pulled down by Joe and Owens, which led to the four men brawling into the crowd as the show went to break. [C]
Coming out of the break, AOP, Joe, and Owens were no longer at ringside. A graphic hyped the mixed tag match for later in the show. Erik blasted Murphy with a knee to the head. Both men made tags. Ivar worked over both challengers with a nice flurry of offense that got a rise out of the crowd. The Viking Raiders set up for their finisher, but Rollins broke it up. The Viking Raiders sent both challengers to ringside and then performed stereo dives onto them.
Rollins and Murphy regrouped and performed a double team slam of Ivar that led to Rollins getting a near fall. Rollins tagged in Murphy. Ivar blew through their double clothesline attempt and then did a springboard double elbow and made a tag to Erik, who powerbombed Murphy. Ivar went up top, but Rollins shoved him to ringside. Murphy blasted Erik with a knee to the head. Rollins hit the Stomp on Erik while the the referee was tied up with Murphy, then Murphy pinned Erik.
Seth Rollins and Buddy Murphy defeated The Viking Raiders in 11:05 to win the Raw Tag Titles.
AOP came out afterward and hugged Rollins and Murphy, then they all posed together on the stage going into a break… [C] An ad aired for Roderick Strong vs. Keith Lee for the North American Championship on Wednesday’s NXT television show…
Powell’s POV: I must admit that I didn’t see the tag title change coming. I assumed that AOP would eventually take the tag straps, Rollins would go for the WWE Championship, and Murphy would go for the U.S. Title. I suppose they could still go in that direction long term, but I enjoyed the surprise title change either way.
Backstage, Rollins celebrated with Murphy and AOP when Schreiber showed up for an interview. Rollins said everything he said was happening. He said it was just the beginning and they would cement their dominance when he wins the Rumble match for the second year in a row…
The Street Profits hosted another “Monday After The Weekend Update” segment. Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins were on the wannabe “Saturday Night Live” Weekend Update set. They told jokes about Paul Heyman entering a shrimp eating contest, and Miz teaming with John Morrison being a reboot.
R-Truth checked in as their special Royal Rumble correspondent. Truth said taking the F5 hurts and spelled it “hurt’z”. The Street Profits moved on to joking about Otis and Mandy Rose, which consisted of slow motion footage of Otis shaking while Val Venis’s entrance theme played…
Powell’s POV: I didn’t think they could do wore than their first SNL Weekend Update spoof. They pulled it off somehow. I want to like the Profits, but skits like this make it tough.
Matt Hardy made his entrance. Lawler referred to Hardy was one of the most popular WWE wrestlers ever. Joseph hyped the Worlds Collide event for Saturday night and then said Hardy would be in action after the break… [C]
6. Erick Rowan vs. Matt Hardy. Rowan’s entrance was televised and he brought the pet cage to ringside. Rowan sent Hardy to the apron and knocked him to the floor with a big boot. Rowan brought Hardy over to his cage and then shoved him away. Rowan put his hand in the cage and acted like he was bit again, and once again came up with blood on his hand.
Rowan picked up the pet cage and slammed it onto the steps a few times. Hardy hit Rowan from behind, but Rowan came right back with a running cross body block. Back inside the ring, Rowan performed his Iron Claw Slam on Hardy and pinned him…
Erick Rowan beat Matt Hardy in 2:10.
Powell’s POV: Will PETA protest without knowing what’s inside the cage? Don’t slam your pet cages at home, kids.
The broadcast team set up a video package on the participants in the mixed tag match… [C]
Samoa Joe and Kevin Owens were interviewed by Sarah Schreiber, who asked what was next now that Rollins and Murphy won the tag titles and declared themselves for the Rumble match. Owens said they would take care of them being tag champions eventually, but Owens announced that he would be in the Rumble match.
Owens said he would do everything he could to win the Rumble match and make sure that Rollins does not win. Joe also declared for the Rumble match and noted that it’s the epitome of every man for himself. Joe said he’ll always stand by Owens in his fight with Rollins, but if Owens stands in his way of going to WrestleMania then he’ll go right through him…
Mojo Rawley was asked by Caruso what he meant by being a different WWE 24/7 Champion. He said the title has been held by cowards who flee at the first sign of danger. The Sings showed up. One Singh tried to distract Rawley while the other attempted to roll him up. Rawley didn’t budge and tossed both men at a production crate and left them lying…
Powell’s POV: I guess that was the symbolic end of the rollup era of the 24/7 Championship.
Bobby Lashley and Lana made their entrance for the mixed tag match. Lana took the mic and said Rusev Day is cancelled. She said she and Lashley were trying to share their inspiring love with the world, but none of the fans cared. She insulted the fans and then said they’ve accepted the fact that the fans are jealous and envious of their love. She tried to get the fans to thank them via chants, then barked about her “stupid ex-husband”… [C]
Joseph touted the men’s Royal Rumble match and touted the new entrants in Rollins, Joe, and Owens… Rusev and Lana entered to Rusev’s entrance music…
7. Rusev and Liv Morgan vs. Bobby Lashley and Lana in a mixed tag match. Morgan clotheslined Lana twice and then dropkicked her. Lashley distracted Morgan briefly, allowing Lana to catch her with a kick to the head, which led to a couple of two counts.
Morgan eventually tagged in Rusev, which brought Lashley into the match. Rusev got the better of Lashley to start and performed an impressive overhead belly to belly suplex. Rusev set up for his finisher when Lana distracted him. Rusev moved when he sensed Lashley charging. Lashley stopped short of hitting Lana after Rusev moved.
Rusev went for a pin. Lashley kicked out and sent Rusev into a punch from Lana. A short time later, Morgan caught Lashley with a kick, then Rusev did the same. Rusev was setting up for his finisher when Lana grabbed his foot. Lashley speared Rusev and pinned him.
Bobby Lashley and Lana defeated Rusev and Liv Morgan in 3:30.
Joseph asked Lawler if he could imagine what Lana would be saying about the win on social media. They recapped the match and hyped the Rumble for Sunday to close the show…
Powell’s POV: That was a strange way to close Raw’s go-home show for the Royal Rumble, but at least the match was quick. Does this mean Smackdown will close with the big brawl that WWE typically does before the Rumble match? And maybe the women’s Rumble match will actually get some attention on Smackdown? Probably not. Overall, Raw started strong, but it was pretty uneventful following the tag title change. I will have more to say about this episode in my members’ exclusive audio review. Let me know what you thought of the show by assigning it a letter grade in our weekly post show poll.
Join me for live coverage of the NWA Hard Times pay-per-view on Friday, WWE Worlds Collide on Saturday, and the WWE Royal Rumble on Sunday. Dot Net Members will hear exclusive audio reviews of all three events.
The Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features Kenny Herzog discussing his journalism career, his new Outside Interference podcast, doing a feature story on CM Punk, pro wrestling in the pandemic, WWE talk on Retribution, The Hurt Business, Roman Reigns as a heel, and much more...