By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw (Episode 1,438)
Live from Tampa, Florida at Tropicana Field
Aired December 14, 2020 on USA Network
[Hour One] Raw opened with a recap of last week’s issues between Drew McIntyre and Sheamus… The Raw opening aired… Tom Phillips, Byron Saxton, and Samoa Joe were on commentary. They hyped an “Ascension Ceremony” involving McIntyre and AJ Styles and other segments…
Powell’s POV: Insert your own Konnor and Viktor jokes here.
The Miz hosted The Dirt Sheet inside the ring. Miz noted that Thursday’s edition of Miz & Mrs. (starring Marjo) would be the final episode of 2020. Miz read through “The Nightmare Before TLC” from a book.
When Miz got to AJ Styles’s name, a light shined on Styles, who was in the ring. Styles pointed out Omos at ringside. When Miz spoke about McIntyre, the lights turned up and showed John Morrison dressed up like Braveheart.
Styles and Morrison pretended to fight while Miz narrated the story, which included with Styles pretending to stab Morrison with the sword and then climbing a ladder that was set up in the ring. Miz read more about how he would cash in the Money in the Bank contract and become WWE Champion, which upset Styles, who said that wasn’t in the book that he gave to Miz.
Sheamus made his entrance with a mic in hand and spoke about his scheduled match against Styles. Sheamus entered the ring and went face to face with Styles, who said he’s part of the solution or part of the problem. Sheamus said he prepares to be part of the problem.
Styles backed away from Sheamus and then grabbed a Christmas tree that was inside the ring and threw it at Sheamus. Styles exited the ring. Sheamus picked up a gift box that was part of the set and threw it at Styles. Phillips said Sheamus clearly wanted his match with Styles immediately… [C]
Powell’s POV: They really need to stop opening these shows with Miz and Morrison talkshows. I enjoy the work of both men, but they’ve been booked so poorly that they strike me as turnoffs and channel changers.
A graphic noted Sheamus’s background as a rugby player, that speaks Gaelic, and worked as a bodyguard for U2…
1. AJ Styles (w/Omos) vs. Sheamus. Sheamus was dominant early on. Styles came back and threw a kick that knocked Sheamus off the apron to the floor. When Sheamus returned to the ring, he suplexed Styles twice. Styles blocked the third attempt and hit Sheamus in the throat. Styles dropkicked Sheamus to ringside near Omos.
Styles went to the apron. Sheamus had him up for a powerbomb, but Omos stepped in and pulled Styles away from Sheamus and set him down safely. Sheamus and Omos had a staredown going into a break. [C]
Sheamus caught Styles with a knee to the head and then covered him for a near fall. Sheamus ended up at ringside for another brief staredown with Omos, then he returned to the ring. Sheamus performed a top rope clothesline and got another two count.
Sheamus went for an Irish Curse, but Styles countered into a Calf Crusher. Sheamus reached the ropes while the broadcast team played up the damage that had been done to Sheamus’s left knee during the match. Sheamus stuffed a Styles Clash attempt and then put Styles down with White Noise for another near fall.
Sheamus powered up Styles and took him to the ropes, but Styles slipped away. Styles clipped the left leg of Sheamus to knocked him off the ropes, then covered him for a three count.
AJ Styles defeated Sheamus in 16:00.
After the match, Styles went to ringside and was jawing at Sheamus while pointing at him. Sheamus grabbed his arm. Omos pulled Sheamus out of the ring, which led to Sheamus being hung up in the ropes. Styles took some cheap shots at Sheamus while Omos grabbed a chair for him. Styles beat Sheamus with the chair several times, including delivering a shot to his bad left knee. Styles backed off, then hit Sheamus with the chair a few more times…
Phillips hyped Bray Wyatt bringing the Firefly Funhouse to ThunderDome… [C]
Powell’s POV: Which wrestler is challenging McIntyre for the WWE Championship on Sunday? If you didn’t know, you probably would have thought it was Sheamus for the majority of the match given how much offense he got and how valiant the broadcast team made him out to be. It felt like creative was trying to do too much by trying to make both men look strong even though Styles got the win. It was a well worked match and it would have been fine most weeks, but they just never gave Styles the big big boost going into the pay-per-view. The post match attack was better and at least put some heat on Styles for beating up McIntyre’s buddy, but there’s just no reason to think that Styles will take the title on Sunday and they didn’t even try to sell us on the possibility. By the way, the big Omos physicality tease heading into a commercial break has quickly become formula for those watching the show on a weekly basis.
The broadcast team recapped U.S. Champion Bobby Lashley beating Jeff Hardy in a non-title match last week…
The Hurt Business members Lashley, MVP, Cedric Alexander, and Shelton Benjamin were shown walking backstage. They came across a crew member eating one of Riddle’s “bronuts” and he offered them one. The group intimidated the man and then Lashley poured milk over his head.
Burgundy’s POV: Milk was a bad choice.
Sarah Schrieber showed up and looked like she wanted to to give up on interviewing the Hurt Business, but they invited her to ask her question. She asked about MVP facing Riddle and noted that Riddle has been focused on Lashley. MVP said Riddle can’t string together a coherent sentence. He put him over as a tremendous athlete.
MVP said she should have asked about the other members of Hurt Business facing New Day and Jeff Hardy. Benjamin said all those clowns belong together. Lashley said they would send them all to their own world of hurt…
Jeff Hardy was shown talking with Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods at the Gorilla Position set when Riddle showed up. He asked if he could run something by them. Riddle suggested that Hardy team up with New Day while “Bro E” was in their corner. They liked the idea. Hardy and Riddle, and then Kingston and Woods made their entrance for the match… [C]
2. “The Hurt Business” Bobby Lashley, Cedric Alexander, and Shelton Benjamin (w/MVP) vs. Kofi Kingston, Xavier Woods, and Jeff Hardy (w/Riddle). Lashley was getting the better of Kingston and pressed him over his head when Alexander tagged himself into the match. Lashley shot Alexander a look. The babyfaces ended up coming back and Woods played the trombone going into a break. [C]
[Hour Two] Late in the match, Kingston performed a dive over the top rope onto Benjamin at ringside. Wood tried to do the same to Lashley, who caught him and ran him into the barricade. Hardy kicked Lashley through the ropes, then traded near falls with Alexander. Lashley made a blind tag. Hardy hit a Twist of Fate on Alexander, but Lashley entered the ring. Hardy avoided a charging Lashley in the corner and went to the ropes, but Alexander tripped him up. Lashley put Hardy in the Hurt Lock for the submission win…
“The Hurt Business” Bobby Lashley, Cedric Alexander, and Shelton Benjamin beat Kofi Kingston, Xavier Woods, and Jeff Hardy in 15:50.
After the match, Alexander leapt into Lashley’s arms and was over the top happy. Alexander celebrated on the ropes while the other members of his faction shot him a look. Once Alexander got down, they all celebrated together…
Powell’s POV: A good match that filled a lot of television time. I guess there’s no reason to view Hardy as a threat to Lashley given that he’s lost two weeks in a row to him.
The broadcast team hyped the Nia Jax vs. Lana match, then set up a recap of last week’s promo with Jax saying that Lana would have boobs on her back once she and Shayna Baszler were down with her. Highlights also aired of Asuka giving Lana a pep talk and leaving, only to have Lana turn and find Jax glaring at her…
Asuka and Lana were on the Gorilla Position set. Lana told Asuka that she believes in herself, but she was leery of facing Jax alone in the singles match. Asuka said Jax is scary, then hyped up Lana about beating her. They hugged and then Lana made her entrance… [C]
The broadcast team hyped Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax vs. Asuka and Lana for the WWE Women’s Tag Titles at TLC. Saxton questioned whether Asuka and Lana could “pull off the miracle” of winning the tag titles at TLC. Jax made her entrance…
3. Nia Jax vs. Lana. Asuka was shown cheering for Lana while watching a backstage monitor. Jax took offensive control. Lana caught her with a huracanrana. Lana went to the ropes and was cut off by Jax, who hoisted her up for a Samoan Drop, but Lana slipped away and threw a kick that hung up Jax in the ropes. Lana stomped Jax, then covered her for the pin.
Lana beat Nia Jax in 1:45.
Asuka was shown celebrating backstage when she was attacked by Shayna Baszler. In the ring, Jax attacked Lana and slammed her head into the mat. Baszler ran out and joined Jax in the ring. Jax dropped a leg on Lana. Baszler stomped on the arm of Lana, then wrenched her leg behind her and stomped on it. Baszler removed Lana’s kick pad and continued to wrench on her leg.
Jax ran the ropes and dropped her leg onto Lana’s bad leg twice. Asuka showed up and cleared Baszler form the ring, then hit a Codebreaker on Jax. Asuka threw a Hip Attack at Baszler and then cleared Jax from the ring. Asuka checked on a crying Lana…
Phillips hyped Bray Wyatt bringing the Firefly Funhouse on a field trip to ThunderDome… [C]
Powell’s POV: I assume that Lana scoring the pin in this match means that she and Asuka won’t be winning the tag titles on Sunday. Either way, they did a nice job of attempting to put heat on the heels going into the pay-per-view. I don’t know how many fans really view Lana as sympathetic, but at least they tried.
Elias was introduced and then he sat on a stool and played his guitar inside the ring. Elias introduced himself and then pointed to Jaxson Ryker, who was standing next to him. Elias recalled being electrocuted during the Symphony of Destruction match and said that he was not a normal man. Elias said he gained vision of his purpose and vision of Ryker. Elias led the “WWE” chant and Ryker belted out “walk with Elias.”
Ryker said that Elias’s music changed him and he was reborn in the universal truth. Ryker said Elias has been interrupted, disrespected, and attacked, and he was going to stop that. Elias dedicated his performance to Lana given what just happened in the ring.
R-Truth entered the ring and said he didn’t want to interrupt. He said he was there to apologize for interrupting Elias on WWE Main Event. He said he’s not an interrupter. Elias pointed out that he was interrupting him. Truth said he’s not an interrupter. Elias started playing his song.
The usual suspects ran out to go after R-Truth. Erik of the Viking Raiders threw Gran Metalik into the ring where Ryker destroyed him. Erik threw Akira Tozawa into the ring. Ryker pressed slammed Tozawa onto a group of wrestlers at ringside. Ryker powerbombed Metalik while Truth ran to the back…
Powell’s POV: So is Ryker a groupie or just a smaller version of Omos? Either way, I’m shocked that Truth actually acknowledged the existence of the WWE Main Event show on Raw. I wonder how many casual fans were left wondering what he was talking about.
The Miz and John Morrison spoke backstage about how Miz could cash in the MITB contract. Keith Lee showed up with a coin and flipped it. Miz celebrated that it landed on heads. Lee congratulated them on winning, then said that was the only thing they were going to win. Phillips hyped Lee vs. Miz and Morrison in a handicap match for after the break… [C]
4. Keith Lee vs. The Miz and John Morrison in a handicap match. Lee cleared both opponents to ringside heading into a break. [C] At 7:30, Lee tried to suplex Morrison from the apron, but Miz tripped Lee, causing Morrison to fall on top of him for a near fall. The duo applied a double submission, then released it and went for a double suplex, but Lee blocked it and suplexed both men.
Later, Lee set up for a Spirt Bomb on Morrison, who slipped out. Morrison caught Lee with a kick from the ropes. Miz threw a kick to the head of Lee, then Morrison performed a springboard dive. Lee caught Morrison, but Miz tripped Lee. Morrison fell on top of Lee, then Miz piled on and the duo got the pin. Saxton called it a lucky win for the heels.
The Miz and John Morrison defeated Keith Lee in 10:00 in a handicap match.
Powell’s POV: You know Miz and Morrison are in a bad place when they win a handicap match and it feels like an upset, and the babyface color commentator calls it a lucky win. This was a waste of time. Lee lost the match, and Miz and Morrison gained nothing since they had the man advantage.
A video package recapped last week’s Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt segments… The Wyatt field trip was advertised as coming up next… [C]
Bray Wyatt headed to the ring wearing a Fiend ugly Christmas sweater. Once in the ring, Wyatt said hello to the fireflies. He said it was nice to see all their smiling faces in the ThunderDome. “It really warms my soul,” Wyatt said. He said he had an apology to make. Wyatt told Randy Orton that he was sorry.
Wyatt said he and Orton were having the time of their lives last week and then one thing led to another. Wyatt said “He” has a sick, deranged, and twisted mind of his own.
Powell’s POV: How many cheating men have tried to use that same line?
Wyatt said TLC will be no laughing matter, so he’s decided that tonight would be. He said he prepared some jokes for Orton and said they would be hysterical.
[Hour Three] Wyatt read from a page while asking the best way to measure a Viper. He said it’s in inches because they don’t have any feet. Wyatt laughed hysterically. Some of his puppets appeared on the barricade and laughed along with him as he told another bad joke.
Randy Orton interrupted via the big screen. Orton said he put Wyatt down with an RKO last week and then The Fiend appeared out of nowhere. Orton said he was outmaneuvered. He guaranteed that wouldn’t happen on Sunday at TLC or during this episode of Raw.
Orton said he knows Wyatt loves to play games. He encouraged him to expand his field trip and pay him a visit. Orton asked Wyatt to play a game of hide and seek. Wyatt laughed and said he couldn’t resist a game. “I accept,” Wyatt said before laughing again. Orton told Wyatt to come find him. Wyatt said he was going to find Orton. “Let the games begin,” Wyatt said before dropping the mic and leaving the ring…
The broadcast team spoke at their desk and shifted the focus to hyping Ricochet vs. Mace. Phillips set up a sponsored recap of Ricochet and Dana Brooke beating Slapjack and Reckoning…
Retribution made their entrance while Phillips noted that there is an open invitation to Ricochet to join their faction… [C] Ricochet made his entrance…
5. Ricochet vs. Mace (w/Mustafa Ali, Slapjack, T-Bar, Reckoning). Ali sat in on commentary while the rest of the Retribution members stood by. Ali said his goal is to help Ricochet, not hurt him. Mace was the early aggressor and picked up a two count. Phillips asked Ali why he wanted Mace in Retribution. Ali told Phillips to ask Joe if he wanted to know more about Mace, then said Joe was sitting in Mace’s chair. Joe said he was and that Mace was having a tough time.
In the ring, Ricochet took offensive control. Ali sent Slapjack to interfere, but Ricochet fought him off. Ali sent T-Bar to help. Ricochet knocked T-Bar off the apron, but Mace took advantage of the distraction and got a two count. Ali barked at Mace to shut Ricochet down. Mace performed a TKO style move and scored the pin.
Mace beat Ricochet in 3:05.
After the match, Ali and the rest of Retribution entered the ring. Ali told Ricochet that it ends once he joins Retribution. The others slammed Ricochet’s head onto the mat…
Powell’s POV: So Joe the commentator knows that Mace is played by Dio Maddin, but he won’t acknowledge it for some reason? Retribution just keeps getting worse.
Backstage, Bray Wyatt asked Riddle if he’d seen Orton. Riddle said no, but he had seen the future. He held up a board that listed “Bro-Nouns” and pitched it as an idea for the Firefly Funhouse. Wyatt made an excuse to leave. Ramblin’ Rabbit popped up. Riddle got him to sign a carrot for the rabbit he has at home…
Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax made their entrance… [C] Dana Brooke came out. A graphic listed Baszler and Jax defending the tag titles against Asuka and “???” on Sunday while the broadcast team noted that Asuka would need to find a new partner after Lana was attacked earlier…
6. Shayna Baszler (w/Nia Jax) vs. Dana Brooke. Brooke avoided Baszler stomping her arm, then avoided the Kirifuda Clutch early on. Brooke took offensive control and went to the ropes, but Jax climbed onto the apron and pushed her off the ropes for the disqualification.
Dana Brooke beat Shayna Baszler by DQ in 1:30.
After the match, Baszler and Jax worked over Brooke. Mandy Rose ran out with a kendo stick in hand and worked over the heels. Baszler cut off Rose and took the kendo stick, but Asuka entered the ring and attacked Baszler. Asuka and Rose cleared the heels, then helped up Brooke…
Powell’s POV: So Lana is out of the pay-per-view after all those table spots and what felt like an endless build to the tag title match? Strange.
Backstage, R-Truth told someone that he got a Playstation 6 for his nephew because Playstation 5 was sold out. Truth said his nephew did three to five minutes in detention for excessive loitering. He noted that the person next to him looked like he spent time in the pen and asked him for his take. The camera pulled back and showed that Truth was talking to the Huskus puppet. Wyatt showed up and warned Huskus about talking with strangers. Truth wondered if Huskus was Wyatt’s father… [C]
The broadcast team hyped Elias, Jaxson Ryker, Bobby Lashley, MVP, Mandy Rose, and Dana Brooke for Raw Talk…
Bray Wyatt continued his search for Randy Orton. He entered a room where he found a rocking chair that was positioned under a light. Wyatt approached the chair and sat down. Orton entered the picture, attacked Wyatt, and stuffed him into a wooden crate and closed the lid.
Orton grabbed a small container of gasoline and poured gas onto the crate. Orton smiled as he watched the crate burn, but then The Fiend emerged from the burning crate and applied the Mandible Claw. The Fiend put Orton down while applying the hold, then The Fiend image flashed… [C]
Powell’s POV: Imagine that conversation with Tropicana Field officials. On night two of this residency arrangement, WWE had to ask them about starting a crate on fire in the backstage area. Anyway, you had to know where that was going the moment that Orton shoved Wyatt into the crate.
The broadcast team recapped the previous segment. Saxton called it one of the most shocking things he’d ever witnessed…
Schiavone’s POV: Apparently, Byron didn’t see Kenny Omega hit Jon Moxley with a microphone!!!
7. Riddle vs. MVP. Riddle came out with a box of “bronuts.” MVP was already in the ring. MVP avoided a kick at the opening bell and threw punches, forearms, a knee, and an uppercut. Riddle avoided MVP going for a big boot. Riddle connected with a knee strike, then followed up with the Floating Bro and scored the clean pin.
Riddle beat MVP in 0:48.
Afterward, Bobby Lashley ran out, but Riddle slipped out another side of the ring, grabbed his bronuts, and took a bite out of one as he backed up the ramp…
WWE Champion Drew McIntyre was shown walking backstage. Saxton hyped that McIntyre was on his way to the ring for the ascension ceremony… [C]
Powell’s POV: It would be very interesting to see what type of reaction a live crowd would give Riddle. They make him out to be stupid and annoying. R-Truth is booked in a similar way, but the live crowds enjoy his act. It works for Truth, but it feels like Riddle is being wasted in this comedy role.
Tom Phillips stood in the ring, which was surrounded by tables, ladders, and chairs. There was one big ladder in the middle of the ring. Phillips introduced Styles, who headed to the ring with Omos. McIntyre made his entrance. Styles spoke about how he and McIntyre had never met in a singles match before. He mocked McIntyre by saying that it took him nineteen years to rise to the top of WWE.
Styles also pointed out that McIntyre has never been in a TLC match. Styles said he has and knows what it takes to be a WWE Champion, then threatened that he’ll do whatever it takes on Sunday to take the championship.
McIntyre spoke about how long he’s wanted to face Styles and how countless people had asked when they would finally meet. He said his goal was to become WWE Champion, but now it’s to keep the championship. He said he was willing to do whatever it takes to keep the title. McIntyre questioned whether Styles was willing to do the same.
McIntyre put the title belt on the hook while Phillips slipped out of the ring. Styles asked McIntyre what if he didn’t just have to face him in a TLC match. The Miz and John Morrison entered the ring and shoved a ladder at McIntyre. The heels worked over McIntyre, who quickly came back and cleared them from the ring.
McIntyre put Styles down and waited for him to get up so that he could hit him with a Claymore Kick. Omos threw the ring steps into the ring. Styles took advantage of the distraction. Styles hit the Phenomenal Forearm. Omos passed a ladder to Styles, who then battered McIntyre with it.
Omos passed Styles another ladder and a table, which Styles set up inside the ring. Styles placed McIntyre on the table, then climbed up the ladder and performed an elbow drop that drove McIntyre through the table. Styles climbed up the ladder and pulled down the WWE Championship. McIntyre pulled himself up and tried to climb the ladder, but he fell back to the mat as the show abruptly went off the air…
Powell’s POV: A good segment to put heat on Styles heading into the title match at TLC. Miz and Morrison looked like an absolute joke for failing to help even in a three-on-one situation, but they got across the message that McIntyre could have to fight Styles, Miz, Morrison, and Omos at TLC. Overall, they filled the time better this week, but Raw is still in a rough place. Let me know what you thought of the show by giving it a letter grade in our post show poll. I will be back later tonight with my weekly same night audio review of Raw for Dot Net Members.
Join me for live coverage of ROH Final Battle on Friday and WWE TLC on Sunday.