By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw (Episode 1,439)
Live from Tampa, Florida at Tropicana Field
Aired December 21, 2020 on USA Network
[Hour One] The Raw opening aired. The broadcast team of Tom Phillips, Byron Saxton, and Samoa Joe recapped some of the WWE TLC matches and hyped Raw matches…
Powell’s POV: Shouldn’t they have opened the show with the McMahons and all the wrestlers on the stage paying tribute to The Fiend? Or not.
New WWE Women’s Tag Team Champion Charlotte Flair made her entrance. Footage aired of Flair and Asuka beating Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax to win the titles at WWE TLC. Flair spoke of being in the ThunderDome and walking in as a champion because that’s who she is at her core. Flair introduced Asuka while saying some people label her the heartbeat of the division.
Asuka made her entrance. Once in the ring, she noted that she’s a dual champion. She said Jax and Baszler weren’t ready for her or Charlotte. Flair brought up the Raw Women’s Championship, but she was interrupted.
Jax and Baszler made their entrance and entered the ring. They spoke about handing out season’s beatings, and said just ask Asuka’s last partner. Dana Brooke and Mandy Rose made their entrance on the stage that was decked out with a Christmas theme. They spoke as they walked to the ring and mocked Jax and Baszler for not being tag champions any longer.
Flair suggested the call for a referee and watch a match a match between the other tag teams. Saxton asked if they were going to do this now. Phillips said he assumed it would be Jax and Baszler vs. Rose and Brooke coming out of the break…
An ad aired for Raw Legends Night in two weeks. Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Kurt Angle, Beth Phoenix, and Torrie Wilson were advertised. Clips were also shown of Sgt. Slaughter, Booker T, Michael Hayes, Boogeyman, and others… [C]
Powell’s POV: It’s logical to open the new year with some type of themed edition. Hopefully they use the legends to bring in the viewers and do something to hook them on the current product. Meanwhile, the opening segment felt flat. How strange is is that a man was burned alive to close the pay-per-view and they didn’t open with any sort of an update?
1. Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler vs. Mandy Rose and Dana Brooke. Flair and Asuka sat in on commentary. Rose and Burke sent the heels to ringside, the performed cross body block dives onto them from the apron. Jax came back and ran Rose into the barricade heading into a break. [C]
Late in the match, Baszler attmepted to stomp the bent arm of Brooke, who moved. Brooke rolled Baszler into the corner. Brooke pulled Baszler toward the middle of the ring and went for the pin, but Baszler kicked out. Baszler applied the Kirifuda Clutch and got the submission win.
Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler beat Mandy Rose and Dana Brooke in 12:50.
After the match, Jax and Baszler stood near the ropes and jawed at Asuka and Flair. Rose and Brooke ended up clearing the heels from the ring…
Powell’s POV: I assumed this would be a dominant win for the heel duo to give them their heat back. Instead, the match dragged on and, while they eventually won, they were shown up afterward by Rose and Burke. In other words, no one really came out of this looking good.
Footage aired of Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin defeating Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods to win the Raw Tag Titles at WWE TLC…
The Hurt Business were shown walking backstage when they spotted a guy wearing a New Day t-shirt. They ripped the shirt off off of him and replaced it with a Hurt Business t-shirt… [C]
MVP hosted the VIP Lounge segment and was accompanied to the ring by Bobby Lashley, Cedric Alexander, and Shelton Benjamin. MVP said the VIP Lounge is for the champions. He boasted that the Hurt Business no holds the U.S. Title and Raw Tag Titles, and said the belts are held by people “who are better than you.” Yes, you!
Lashley looked a little surprised by Alexander speaking before him. Lashley said they are the most dominant force in WWE. He also said there’s not a man alive who can beat him for the title.
Powell’s POV: The Fiend is no longer alive. Can he beat Lashley for the title?
The Hurt Business posed for a photo in the ring. As a photographer was snapping the photo, WWE 24/7 Champion R-Truth photobombed them by standing on the ropes behind them. The usual suspects ran out and chased Truth onto the stage and around the Christmas set before heading to the back.
Jeff Hardy and Riddle made their entrance while the broadcast team called them The Hardy Bros. MVP said they weren’t invited to the celebration. Riddle congratulated them on the win, but he said they were doing things wrong with the celebration.
Riddle said they didn’t need to spend so much money on the champagne when they could hang with their bros, grill some tasty treats, and get a little toasted. He said they could listen to the Joe Rogan podcast or watch a Dave Chappelle comedy special.
MVP said Riddle doesn’t even know what he’s talking about. Hardy said there are more important thing in life than status and money. Hardy said they would rather die full of pride than live a life of greed. Hardy said they would fight with one thing worth a lot more than Hurt Business could ever buy. “Our faith, bro,” Hardy said…
Saxton hyped Randy Orton commenting on “his inferno actions” later in the show… [C]
Powell’s POV: I find it comical that Riddle mentioned The Hardy Bros name as an intentional groaner a couple weeks ago, yet now WWE has actually started using it as their tag team name.
Drew Gulak was shown in the ring waiting for his match with Angel Garza, who was interviewed on the Gorilla Position set by Sarah Schreiber. Garza gave Schreiber a rose. He said he would be fighting Gulak, but he would be thinking of her. Garza said that maybe she could interview him under the mistletoe after his victory…
2. Angel Garza vs. Drew Gulak. The bell rang, but Garza made Gulak wait until he removed his tearaway pants. Garza threw the pants at Gulak and then attacked him. Garza ended up winning with the Wing Clipper…
Angel Garza beat Drew Gulak in 2:10.
Powell’s POV: The horniest man in WWE returned to the ring and picked up a quick win.
The broadcast team set up highlights of Drew McIntyre beating AJ Styles and The Miz in what turned out to be a Triple Threat TLC match once Miz cashed in his Money in the Bank contract…
AJ Styles and Omos were walking backstage when Charly Caruso popped up out of nowhere with a mic and asked about Miz cashing in the MITB contract. Styles claimed that Miz screwed him out of winning the WWE Championship. Caruso asked why Styles agreed to appear on Miz TV. Styles said he wanted to hear what Miz had to say for himself, then looked at Omos and said that for Miz’s sake it better be good… [C]
Powell’s POV: Styles has a nasty abrasion on his cheek from a spot that occurred late in the TLC match. By the way, the Styles character didn’t just agree to appear on Miz’s talkshow, he’s also scheduled to team with him and John Morrison later in the show.
The Miz and John Morrison stood in the ring for the Miz TV segment. Miz said you’re not always presented with a chance to become WWE Champion, but he failed. Miz said he failed himself and his family (especially poor Marjo).
[Hour Two] Miz said he was sorry. Morrison said that wasn’t the only apology that needed to be made. Miz agreed and then introduced Styles, who headed to the ring with Omos. Styles cut off Miz and said they both lost because of him.
“You don’t think I know that,” Miz fired back. Miz said he cashed in MITB successfully and headlined WrestleMania once before and it was supposed to happen again. Miz said no one respects him, but if he cashed in at just the right time then Styles and others would respect him. Miz apologized to Styles, claiming they were both robbed at TLC.
Miz said it’s the holidays and therefore time for giving and forgiving. Miz said he would give Styles and early holiday gift. Miz invited Styles to co-star in the next installment of The Marine. Miz pointed to the big screen. Styles took offense at how small his image was on the poster.
Omos said Morrison technically cashed in the Money in the Bank contract. Morrison said Styles was going to lose anyway. Styles and Morrison bickered. Omos left the ring. Miz had an epiphany. He said Omos was right in that Morrison cashed in the MITB contract. Miz said he’s the only person who can cash it in. Miz asked for his briefcase back.
Drew McIntyre made his entrance. McIntyre ended up reading “The Nightmare After TLC” from a napkin. Sheamus showed up on the other side of the ring, then Keith Lee showed up and helped McIntyre in reading the lines. The babyface trio entered the ring and attacked the heels. Styles dropkicked Lee into Sheamus. McIntyre had to keep Lee and Sheamus apart.
The broadcast team hyped Ricochet facing T-Bar, then set up a video package on Ricochet’s ongoing issues with Retribution. T-Bar made his entrance along with the rest of Retribution… [C]
Powell’s POV: Do you hear that clicking noise? No, it’s not reindeer on your roof quite yet. It’s the sound of thousands of remote controls being used simultaneously after Retribution appeared. Meanwhile, the WWE website preview didn’t mention anything about the main event being a “holiday” street fight. It was simply listed as a street fight. Gee, lucky us.
The Raw Legends Night ad aired again…
Keith Lee and Sheamus were bickering backstage when McIntyre got between them again. McIntyre threatened to beat both of their asses if they didn’t stop. McIntyre said Lee hitting him was accidental. Sheamus stormed off. McIntyre told Lee that Sheamus is a prick sometimes, but he told him to imagine the damage they could do together. Lee bumped fists with McIntyre…
3. Ricochet vs. T-Bar (w/Mustafa Ali, Reckoning, Mace, Slapjack). Ricochet’s entrance was televised. T-Bar hit Ricochet with an early clothesline and covered him for a two count. A short time later, Ricochet roughed up Mace and Slapjack at ringside. T-Bar capitalized on the distraction. Ali yelled at Ricochet that he belongs with Retribution. Ricochet hit Ali. T-Bar pulled him off and performed a GTS for the win.
T-Bar beat Ricochet in 2:45.
After the match, T-Bar told Ricochet that Retribution are not his enemies. He told him that he needed to join them or they would end his existence…
Powell’s POV: This just won’t end. On the heels of the lowest rated Raw show in history, you’d think the company would take stock and do away with or at least tweak the acts that are universally panned. Instead, it’s just business as usual.
Footage aired of Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods talking about how they would bounce back… MVP and Lashley made their entrance for the tag match… [C]
Powell’s POV: I guess if anyone can take the John Cena approach to shrugging off title losses it’s New Day due to all of their power of positivity talk. It’s still not ideal. If they aren’t bothered by losing the belts, why should their fans be bothered by them losing the belts?
4. Bobby Lashley and MVP (w/Cedric Alexander, Shelton Benjamin) vs. “The Hardy Bros” Jeff Hardy and Riddle. The Hardy and Riddle entrances were televised. Hardy and Riddle cleared the heels from the ring, then kicked them both from the apron heading into a break. [C]
Late in the match, Hardy made a blind tag. Riddle blasted Lashley with a running knee. Riddle took out Alexander and Benjamin. Hardy went for a Swanton, but Lashley moved. Hardy avoided a spear, but Lashley applied a Hurt Lock and got the submission win…
Bobby Lashley and MVP beat “The Hardy Bros” Jeff Hardy and Riddle in 11:35.
Backstage, Styles barked at Miz and Morrison, then stormed away with Omos while Saxton was on commentary hyping the holiday street fight… [C]
Powell’s POV: Is Lashley just beating Hardy every week now or is this actually going to lead to something?
An image from Randy Orton’s Instagram page was shown of Orton standing over a burning Fiend (scarecrow) at TLC. Phillips said they would talk about what happened after the next segment…
Elias was introduced as he sat on a stool with a guitar in hand and Jaxson Ryker standing next to him. Elias thanked the fans who put Universal Truth on the best of lists. He assumed anyone who didn’t simply had not heard it yet, because his music changes lives. Elias said Ryker has been reborn in the universal truth. He said they would test how powerful his music can be. Elias was interrupted by the Lucha House Party entrance music…
5. Jaxson Ryker (w/Elias) vs. Gran Metalik (w/Lince Dorado). Elias sat on the top rope and played his guitar and sang while Ryker faced Metalik. Ryker missed a spear in the corner. Metalik performed a huracanrana on Elias. Ryker swatted Metalik to the mat, then performed a choke bomb and scored the pin.
Jaxson Ryker pinned Gran Metalik in 0:55.
Powell’s POV: Now that there are heel tag team champions, it seems like a good time to do something with Metalik and Dorado as a team while letting someone else take the squash singles losses.
The broadcast team set up a Firefly Inferno match video package. Randy Orton was shown smiling as he walked through the backstage area… [C] A Superstars Fact graphic listed notes about Kofi Kingston being born in Ghana, Africa and graduating from Boston College…
Randy Orton made his entrance. Once in the ring, he said he’s been called many thing, including sick, twisted, deranged, and demented. Orton said he proved that he is all of those things at TLC when he burned The Fiend alive.
[Hour Three] Orton said a normal man would have regrets about setting another man on fire, but The Fiend is no normal man, nor is Orton normal. Orton said he enjoyed every second as he stood by and watched The Fiend burn. Orton stood over the spot in the ring where Fiend burned and said it was exactly where it happened.
Orton said that if he closed his eyes, he could see and smell it. He said the stench of burning flesh has a tendency to linger. Orton said the voices in his head no longer exist. He said the only thing he hears now is The Fiend gasping for his last breath. “The Fiend is gone,” Orton said. “The Fiend is no more. And I am the evil son of a bitch that took him out.” The Fiend’s entrance lighting started.
The lights went out and when they came back on, Alexa Bliss was in the ring on a swing set. She asked if Orton was expecting someone else. She invited Orton to join her on her playground. She assumed Orton was wondering where Fiend was. She said he could be at a tanning salon because he was looking pale or he could be at the beach. She said she hoped he didn’t get sunburnt. She said Fiend could be at a restaurant eating his favorite food, BBQ.
Bliss stood by Orton and said that it’s almost as if The Fiend was absorbed into the ground under each layer of the Earth. She said he might come back to Alexa’s playground. “And if he does, it will be like nothing you have seen before,” Bliss said. The Fiend lighting wound down again until the arena was dark.
They cut to the broadcast team who acted as if they were taken aback. Phillips said they had to continue, then the moved on to setting up footage of Flair and Asuka winning the women’s tag titles at WWE TLC…
Powell’s POV: The night is young, but it’s a good thing if The Fiend isn’t resurrected during Christmas week. It’s better than doing it around Easter, but still… Unfortunately, it looks like we haven’t seen the last of Orton vs. Fiend.
Charlotte Flair made her entrance and then the video aired of the WWE wrestlers beating up the 2020 monster… [C] An ad aired for Straight Up Steve Austin’s second season premiere on January 11…
Asuka was in the ring coming out of the break. Lacey Evans and Peyton Royce were interviewed backstage by Schreiber, who asked if they were ready for the challenge of facing the champions. In a shocking development, they said they were. Once Evans made her entrance, Royce told Schreiber that she got them the match…
6. WWE Women’s Tag Champions Charlotte Flair and Asuka vs. Lacey Evans and Peyton Royce in a non-title match. Royce was getting the better of Asuka heading into an early break. [C] Evans and Royce bickered with one another after Evans tagged herself into the match, and then Royce returned the favor moments later.
Flair tagged in and worked over Royce. Jax and Baszler were shown watching on a backstage monitor. Royce caught Flair in a single leg crab. Evans fought off Asuka temporarily, but Asuka eventually broke free and broke up the hold in the ring. Flair came back and beat Royce with the Figure Eight.
WWE Women’s Tag Champions Charlotte Flair and Asuka beat Lacey Evans and Peyton Royce in 8:20 in a non-title match.
Phillips announced that Flair and Asuka would defend the tag titles for the first time on Friday’s Smackdown…
McIntyre, Lee, and Sheamus were shown backstage. Sheamus still didn’t look pleased with Lee… Another Legends Night ad aired…
Powell’s POV: WWE is loading up the Christmas night show this year when they’ve run throwaway holiday week shows in past years. It actually makes sense to load up Smackdown this week, as they are following the Christmas day NFL game on Fox, so they have an excellent lead-in and will probably get a lot of hype during the game.
A Royal Rumble ad aired.. A video package aired on Titus O’Neil’s charity work. Titus rewarded a charity’s staff member who had been with them for 25 years with a new car…
Saxton said Titus actually gave away five cars. Phillips set up footage from earlier in the night involving the teams in the holiday street fight…
Backstage, The Miz was on the phone making his pitch to get his Money in the Bank contract back. AJ Styles walked up and hung up the phone on him… Drew McIntyre and Sheamus made their entrance for the main event… [C]
Powell’s POV: There’s a 50 percent chance that Miz will have a candy cane shoved up his butt during the holiday street fight. Okay, probably not, but this is the same company that burned a man alive last night so I can’t rule out anything at this point.
Charlotte Flair, Ricochet, Shelton Benjamin, and Cedric Alexander were announced as the guests for Raw Talk… Keith Lee made his entrance coming out of the break. McIntyre got Lee and Sheamus to bump fists, then the heels made their entrances…
7. Drew McIntyre, Keith Lee, and Sheamus vs. The Miz, John Morrison, and AJ Styles (w/Omos) in a Holiday Street Fight. There were tables with cookies, candy cane kendo sticks, gift boxes, trees, a bowl of eggnog, and other holiday items at ringside. Sheamus and Lee had words after clearing the heels from the ring. Sheamus and Lee went back and forth patting one another aggressively until McIntyre got between them. [C]
McIntyre and Sheamus worked over Miz and Morrison, then passed them off to Lee at ringside. Lee tossed one into gift boxes and the other into a Christmas tree. Lee threw Styles inside the ring to face Sheamus. Styles ended up getting the better of Sheamus, then tagged out. Miz and Morrison tried to attack Sheamus, but they were quickly beaten up by McIntyre and Lee.
Sheamus performed a rolling senton on Morrison, then went up top. Styles approached him on the apron. Morrison took advantage of the distraction and tossed Sheamus onto a table that was set up at ringside. Once Sheamus returned to the ring, he was isolated by the heels.
McIntyre eventually took a hot tag and worked over The Miz and Morrison with suplexes. Miz avoided a Future Shock DDT and then kicked the knee that McIntyre sold at TLC. McIntyre came right back and got a near fall that Styles broke up. After rapid fire big spots from the various wrestlers, McIntyre cleared Miz from the ring. Styles hit McIntyre’s bad leg with a candy cane kendo stick.
Styles followed McIntyre to ringside where Mcintyre powerbombed Styles through a table, which led to Styles being covered in eggnog. Sheamus hit Morrison with a kendo stick repeatedly. McIntyre set up for his finisher, but Sheamus returned to the apron and tagged himself in, then Lee tagged himself in.
Lee knocked Morrison off the apron and into the arms of Omos. Morrison was relieved, but Omos slammed him through a table. In the ring, Lee performed a Spirit Bomb on Miz and pinned him.
Drew McIntyre, Keith Lee, and Sheamus defeated AJ Styles, The Miz, and John Morrison in a Holiday Street Fight in 17:55.
After the match, Sheamus hit Lee with a Brogue Kick. McIntyre got in Sheamus’s face and questioned why he did it…
Powell’s POV: As much as the holiday themed matches make me cringe, WWE didn’t deliver any silliness over the Halloween or Thanksgiving weeks this year, which made it easier to suffer through the Christmas themed match. And we’ve certainly seen campier holiday themed matches than this one, which at least concluded with more friction between Sheamus and his partners. But make no mistake about it, Raw remains a creative disaster heading into its final edition of 2020.
Let me know what you thought of the show by assigning it a letter grade below. I will be back shortly with my same night audio review for Dot Net Members. I hope you’ll join us for live coverage of NXT and AEW Dynamite on Wednesday. Either way, I hope you all have a great holiday week.