By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw (Episode 1,404)
Live from Orlando, Florida at the WWE Performance Center
Aired April 20, 2020 on USA Network
[Hour One] Raw opened with a recap of last week’s main event and the post match angle with Seth Rollins attacking Drew McIntyre… The Raw opening aired… Tom Phillips, Jerry Lawler, and Byron Saxton were on commentary…
WWE Champion Drew McIntyre headed to the ring while the broadcast team hyped him facing Angel Garza in the main event. McIntyre looked into the camera and welcomed viewers to Raw. He said it’s the highlight of his week and he thanked viewers for joining him.
McIntyre recalled Seth Rollins attacking him last week. He pointed to his belt and said that it’s for the best of the best in the industry. He said it’s lonely at the top and he gets that everyone wants the title. McIntyre recalled being Stomped twice by Rollins. McIntyre said he’s champion and Rollins wants to be champion.
McIntyre recalled stating last week that if someone deserves a title shot they will get one. McIntyre said he’s been in the ring with Rollins and he knows how good he is. McIntyre announced that he will face Rollins for the WWE Championship at the Money in the Bank pay-per-view. McIntyre called for the cameraman to zoom in. He waved to Rollins and said he wasn’t going to hurl a bunch of insults at him.
Music interrupted McIntyre and then Zelina Vega, Angel Garza, and Austin Theory walked onto the stage. Vega said they are sick of his rah rah speeches and accused him of looking past Garza in tonight’s main event by talking about facing Rollins at MITB.
Andrade attacked McIntyre from behind. McIntyre quickly regrouped and hit Andrade with a Claymore Kick. Vega told Garza and Theory to help Andrade, but they both stood at ringside looking apprehensive. Once Andrade stood up, McIntyre did a countdown with his fingers and hit him with a Claymore Kick. McIntyre looked into the camera and said you might want to put the kids to bed because he’s going to slaughter Garza…
The broadcast team spoke about the climb the corporate ladder Money in the Bank ladder matches. They noted that the wrestlers will start on the ground floor of WWE headquarters and go after the briefcases that will be on the roof of the building. They hyped the three qualifying matches and noted that the first of the three was coming up after the break… [C]
Powell’s POV: The segment made McIntyre look really good, but it’s hard to get excited about a main event when the guy he’s facing was afraid to go after him even in a three-on-one situation. Well, unless you’re into seeing the slaughter that McIntyre teased, which is something.
An ad aired for Triple H’s 25th anniversary celebration starting on Friday’s Smackdown…
1. Aleister Black vs. Austin Theory in a Money in the Bank qualifying match. Zelina Vega sat in on commentary (because they just didn’t have enough people seated within six feet of 70 year-old heart attack survivor Jerry Lawler). Black was in offensive control at ringside when Vega got up from the broadcast table and distracted him. Theory ran Black into the ringside barricade heading into a break. [C]
Black applied an armbar. Theory impressively powered up Black and slammed him to the mat to break the hold. Black rallied and connected with a series of strikes and a running knee to the head. Black followed up with a springboard moonsault for a near fall. Theory came back with a kick and a nice neckbreaker onto his knee for a near fall of his own.
Theory hoisted up Black for his ATL (Austin Theory Launch) finisher, but Black avoided it. Black executed a German suplex into a bridge for a two count. Black rebounded and hit his Black Mass kick finisher before scoring the three count…
Aleister Black defeated Austin Theory in 11:45 to qualify for the Money in the Bank match.
After the match, Saxton entered the ring with a microphone and asked Black what his plan is for the MITB match. Black said he will make sure that each floor is their own personal hell. Phillips noted that the other two MITB qualifiers will be the last on the Raw side, meaning Raw will have three entrants and Smackdown will have three entrants. He also hyped Shayna Baszler as being in action after the break… An NXT ad hyped three Interim NXT Cruiserweight Championship tournament matches… [C]
Powell’s POV: A good match to open the show. Unfortunately, it’s already becoming tough to take Vega’s trio seriously. Hopefully that changes because there’s a lot of talent in that faction.
Shayna Baszler was making her entrance when Charly Caruso approached her on the stage and asked her if she took it too far last week in her match against Sarah Logan. Baszler asked if she broke any rules, then said no, she just broke Logan’s arm…
2. Shayna Baszler vs. Indi Hartwell. Baszler repeated the spot from last week’s match against Logan by stomping on the arm of Hartwell. The referee called for the bell, ruling that Hartwell could not continue.
Shayna Baszler beat Indi Hartwell in 1:00.
Saxton said that what Baszler did was sick Phillips said it’s technically within the rules. Baszler left the ring and returned with a ladder. Baszler put Hartwell’s injured arm inside the ladder, which was leaning against the ring steps, then stomped the ladder. “That is evil,” Saxton said. “That is just pure evil.” Phillips called it “absolutely grotesque”…
Powell’s POV: It was hard not to watch the match and wonder whether Hartwell will meet the same fate as Morgan did last week on Black Wednesday. If you can get past that, it was well executed and I like the way they are making Baszler out to be ruthless and sadistic.
3. Ricochet and Cedric Alexander vs. Brendan Vink and Shane Thorne. Vink and Thorne’s entrances were not televised. Phillips hyped an encore presentation of “Break It Down” featuring Ricochet for WWE Network immediately following Raw. Alexander performed a tornado DDT on Thorne and then Ricochet followed with a standing shooting star press, but Vink broke up the pin. Moment later, Ricochet performed a Recoil on Thorne, then Alexander followed it with a Lumbar Check and scored the pin…
Ricochet and Cedric Alexander defeated Brendan Vink and Shane Thorne in 3:10.
Powell’s POV: A simple spotlight win for Ricochet and Alexander that filled a few minutes of television time.
Backstage, Caruso interviewed Kairi Sane and Asuka and noted that Sane would face Nia Jax in a rematch. She said the height difference was insurmountable last week and questioned why this match would be any different. Asuka and Sane did their yelling bit…
Bobby Lashley was shown in the WWE Performance Center gym in front of a tractor tire. Lashley introduced himself, then waited for Lana to enter the picture and introduce herself. He mentioned doing something with the tire and was more friendly with Lana than usual… The broadcast team hyped Sane vs. Jax as coming up after the break… [C]
[Hour Two] Ring entrances for the Sane vs. Jax match took place…
4. Nia Jax vs. Kairi Sane. Asuka was shown yelling at a backstage monitor while watching the match. Jax picked up Sane by the neck and tossed her into the corner where her head hit the bottom turnbuckle pad. Sane avoided a charging Jax, then went to work on one of her two surgically repaired knees. Sane blasted Jax with a spinning back fist that knocked a kneeling Jax into the corner. Sane performed a move in the corner and followed up with an Insane Elbow attempt, but Jax moved. Jax hit her Samoan Drop finisher and scored the pin…
Nia Jax defeated Kairi Sane in 4:10.
Powell’s POV: This match was a bit more competitive than last week with Sane targeting Jax’s knee, but the outcome was never really in question and the end result was the same. I noted last week that it’s easier to do these heel vs. heel matches without a crowd present because you don’t get the awkward silence from fans who don’t know which wrestler to root for, but the question is whether these matches without a definitive babyface are keeping viewers engaged.
Highlights aired of Seth Rollins attacking Drew McIntyre last week. Rollins was shown sitting on a throne and said McIntyre is a brave man and he respects it. Rollins said not many men know what it’s like to go into the main event of WrestleMania and beat Brock Lesnar for a WWE championship, but he does. Rollins said he and McIntyre have a lot in common. He said they command the respect of their peers and have a deep love and passion for the industry. Rollins accepted McIntyre’s challenge for a WWE Championship match at MITB.
Rollins said it’s not out of respect or disdain because it’s not personal. Rollins said he accepts out of necessity. He said the WWE Universe needs a leader more than ever. Rollins said that as much as they have in common, he is a true leader and McIntyre is not. Rollins said he is the one who will sacrifice for the greater good, make the difficult decisions, and will be the light in the darkness. Rollins said he’s going to take the title at MITB, not because he wants to but because he has to…
Phillips hyped the other two MITB qualifying matches… [C]
Powell’s POV: A good promo from Rollins. This appeared to be something that Rollins did from his home or somewhere outside the WWE Performance Center because it didn’t have the high level sound that we normally get on WWE programming.
Footage aired of The Viking Raiders driving in an SUV. Erik was driving and Ivar was eating a drumstick. They played a strange version of carpool karaoke by singing bunch of lines about themselves and yelling “Viking Raiders” each time…
Powell’s POV: WTF was that? Just assume that anyone who raves about it is celebrating 420 Day.
MVP stood in the ring and delivered a promo about facing “the extreme talented Apollo Crews.” MVP said he’s probably the most talented man on the roster today and claimed he has “absolutely lit up” Raw since he debuted. MVP acted like he forgot Crews’s name and said he told his agent to book the private jet for Stamford. Crews interrupted MVP’s promo…
5. Apollo Crews vs. MVP in a Money in the Bank qualifying match. Lawler referred to the match as potential vs. experience. Crews performed a couple dropkicks. MVP rolled to the ring apron and called for a timeout. Crews knocked MVP to the floor. Crews went to the apron. MVP swept the legs of Crews, who fell to ringside heading into a break. [C]
MVP talked trash and set up for the Playmaker, but Crews fought him off. Crews put MVP down with a clothesline and a bodyslam. Crews went for a frogsplash, but MVP avoided it. MVP hit the Playmaker for a near fall. Crews came back with a sit-out powerbomb and scored the pin…
Apollo Crews defeated MVP in 8:10 to qualify for the Money in the Bank match.
Powell’s POV: It’s nice to see that creative is doing something with Crews coming out of that 27-minute match he had with Aleister Black a couple weeks ago. It was still needlessly long, but at least they didn’t go right back to booking Crews as a traveling enhancement wrestler.
Ruby Riott was interviewed by Caruso backstage and asked her about what went wrong with Riott Squad. Riott said there never really was a Riott Squad. She said she had to carry Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan on her back. She said Logan has a broken arm and Morgan will be lucky if she doesn’t break both her arms. Riott said she would show Morgan how small and weak she is without her… [C]
6. Liv Morgan vs. Ruby Riott. Riott controlled the majority of the offense, but Morgan caught her with a Flatliner from the middle rope and scored the clean pin…
Liv Morgan beat Ruby Riott in 3:20.
Powell’s POV: It feels like Sarah Logan has received more mentions on this show than she did during her last year of WWE employment combined. I’m only slightly embellishing. Meanwhile, this should have been a bigger win for Morgan, but they just haven’t pushed Riott as much as they should have.
In the WWE PC gym, Lana told Lashley that he’s not warm, he’s hot. After she stepped aside, Lashley pushed the tractor tire over. Lashley pointed out an even bigger tire… Phillips hyped the final MITB qualifier of the night as coming up next… [C]
Powell’s POV: I guess those four pro wrestling fans who enjoy watching men tip tires over have one hell of a hook to keep watching.
A graphic appeared on the screen to note the passing of Howard Finkel. The broadcast team spoke about him briefly while Rey Mysterio made his entrance…
7. Rey Mysterio vs. Murphy in a Money in the Bank qualifying match. Murphy came out to generic entrance music while the Monday Night Messiah graphic appeared on the screen. Phillips noted that Mysterio was nursing a hand injury. Murphy stomped Mysterio’s bad hand at ringside going into a break. [C]
Mysterio called for a 619. Murphy was waiting for him, so Mysterio performed a tornado DDT instead. Phillips questioned whether Mysterio could actually perform the 619 with his injured hand.
[Hour Three] Murphy rolled through Mysterio’s cross body block and dropped him onto his knee with a neckbreaker. Murphy followed up with a brainbuster for a near fall. A short time later, Mysterio performed a Canadian Destroyer from the ropes and hit the 619. Mysterio followed up with a frogsplash and scored the pin…
Rey Mysterio defeated Murphy in 15:05 to qualify for the Money in the Bank match.
Powell’s POV: A well worked match that went 15 minutes and didn’t feel like it overstayed its welcome, which is tough in the empty venue setting. I really liked the call of the broadcast team in that they played up the question of whether Mysterio could execute the 619 with the hand injury.
Backstage, Caruso interviewed Angel Garza and Zelina Vega. Caruso said it seemed like things didn’t go according to plan earlier. Vega asked how she would know that. Vega played up the possibility that Andrade injured McIntyre. After Vega walked away, Garza told Caruso that he would love her to ask him later tonight how it felt to beat McIntyre. A smitten Caruso said she could do that…
Charlotte Flair was hyped as being in action after the break… [C]
Powell’s POV: I’m still not a fan of Caruso acting lovestruck whenever Garza flirts with her. She strikes me as the most credible of the backstage interviewers now that Renee Young is performing other duties, and this just feels beneath someone in that role.
8. NXT Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair vs. Kayden Carter in a non-title match. Flair was stretching on the ropes and then turned and blasted Carter with a big boot to the face to start the match. Carter rallied and picked up a couple of near falls and then applied a nice octopus style submission hold, which Flair eventually broke by standing up and backing into the ropes. Flair threw elbows at Carter while in the ropes. Flair speared Carter, then applied the Figure 8 and got the submission win…
Charlotte Flair beat Kayden Cater in 2:45 in a non-title match.
The broadcast team hyped the main event… [C]
Powell’s POV: This match was similar to when Carter faced Asuka on Raw in that she picked up a couple of near falls and wasn’t just squashed. I like it because it’s consistent with the way Carter puts up a strong fight in NXT only to lose more than she wins.
Back at the WWE PC gym, Lashley noted that the giant tractor tire weighed 450 lbs. He said he didn’t know if he could move it, but if anyone could it was him. Lashley tried and failed twice, then punched and kicked at the tire while Lawler laughed. Lashley tried a third time and tipped it over. Lana entered the picture and told him that he’s amazing. Lashley said that’s the power that everybody in the locker room needs to fear…
Powell’s POV: You know times are tough in WWE when they cut Rusev and replace him with a tractor tire.
The broadcast team set up a recap of the opening segment involving Drew McIntyre and Vega’s crew, then hyped the main event again… Andrade and Vega made their entrance heading into a break… [C] Another ad aired for Triple H’s 25th anniversary celebration starting on Friday’s Smackdown…
9. U.S. Champion Andrade (w/Zelina Vega) vs. Akira Tozawa in a non-title match. Tozawa’s entrance was televised. Tozawa connected with an early knee strike and covered Andrade for a one count. Phillips noted that Tozawa lost on Monday, then won his Interim NXT Cruiserweight Title tournament match on Wednesday. Tozawa dove off the apron and performed a senton onto Andrade, who was against the barricade.
Back in the ring, Tozawa performed a missile dropkick and got a two count. Andrade rolled to ringside. Tozawa followed and was distracted by Vega, allowing Andrade to deliver a cheap shot that put him on the offensive. Tozawa caught him in an octopus submission hold, which Andrade broke by reaching the ropes.
Andrade caught Tozawa with an elbow to the head. Tozawa knocked Andrade down and ran the ropes, but Andrade caught him with a dropkick. Andrade talked smack and was put in an inside cradle for a near fall. Tozawa picked up two more near falls and then superkicked Andrade. Tozawa went to the top rope and was cut off by Andrade, who gave him the hammerlock DDT and scored the pin.
Andrade defeated Akira Tozawa in 4:55 in a non-title match.
Powell’s POV: A fun match. Tozawa had a really good showing in defeat, which he should given that he just beat Isaiah Scott in the cruiserweight title tournament opener. Vega did a really nice job of expressing concern only to act like the outcome was never in doubt after Andrade won.
After the match, Andrade and Vega were celebrating on the stage when they were interrupted by The Street Profits. Montez Ford climbed onto the broadcast table and danced, then Saxton stood up and danced in a scene that Vince McMahon presumably loved… [C]
Ford and Angelo Dawkins were both dancing on the broadcast table while Saxton was seated and pumping his fist in the air. Ford introduced his wife Bianca Belair as the EST of WWE.
10. Bianca Belair vs. Santana Garrett. Garrett’s entrance was not televised. Ford and Dawkins sat in on commentary. Belair dominated the majority of the match, though Garrett did almost get a one count off a cross body block. Belair hit her finisher and scored the clean pin…
Bianca Belair beat Santana Garrett in 4:15.
Powell’s POV: A showcase win for Belair, who dominated the match while the Street Profits made way too much noise on commentary. I’m all for some extra noise from wrestlers at ringside, but that was just obnoxious through the headset mics.
11. WWE Champion Drew McIntyre vs. Angel Garza (w/Zelina Vega, Andrade, Austin Theory) in a non-title match. McIntyre performed an early overhead belly to belly suplex. Garza rolled to the floor and McIntyre followed. McIntyre picked up Garza and dropped him onto the barricade, then chopped him. McIntyre said he could do better and hit him with a second chop.
McIntyre shook off Andrade’s attempt to interfere and then hit Garza with a headbutt. McIntyre also fought off Theory, but Garza was able to take advantage by running him into two ring posts. A short time later, McIntyre pulled off Garza’s tearaway pants as Garza escape to ringside. McIntyre performed a flip dive onto Garza, Andrade, and Theory, then told Vega that he can do it all. Back inside the ring, Garza rolled up McIntyre for a two count. When they stood up, McIntyre blasted him with a Claymore Kick and scored the clean pin.
Drew McIntyre defeated Angel Garza in 5:05 in a non-title match.
After the match, McIntyre walked over to the broadcast table and spoke with Saxton, then headed back to the ring while Phillips hyped McIntyre vs. Rollins for the WWE Championship at MITB. McIntyre hit Garza with another Claymore Kick. McIntyre told Vega to keep lining them up and he’ll keep Claymore Kicking them down. Theory entered the ring and took a Claymore Kick as well. McIntyre went to the ramp and smiled as he laid down with his title belt…
Powell’s POV: McIntyre is making good use of the lack of crowd noise by talking during his matches. He comes off confident and also seems like he’s having a lot of fun. Overall, the show definitely dragged. It was a step back from last week, though still more entertaining than that rough night after WrestleMania edition. The MITB qualifying matches helped last week’s shows, but all of tonight’s matches felt predictable. They really need to shake things up rather than being so formula with their match outcomes. Dot Net Members will hear my same night Raw audio review. Let me know what you thought of the show by giving it a letter grade in our post Raw poll available on the main page. Stay safe.
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...