By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
Drew McIntyre vs. Keith Lee for the WWE Championship: A strong main event that was given plenty of time. Lee looked good in defeat. I just wish that WWE would have done more to build him up going into the match. There were no video packages to spotlight him, just a quick recap of his win over Sheamus followed by an awkward backstage verbal exchange with Riddle.
Raw Tag Team Champions Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin vs. Lince Dorado and Gran Metalik in a non-title match: While I have no idea why Metalik didn’t get the win for his team since he’s challenging for the NXT Cruiserweight Championship on Wednesday, I am curious to see where the friction between Alexander and Benjamin leads. That said, this was one of three matches where champions lost non-title matches and it didn’t feel like the winners of those matches really gained much of anything.
WWE Raw Misses
Drew McIntyre and Goldberg: Nothing says new, fresh, and now quite like Raw starting off 2021 with yet another throwback to the Monday Night War. Look, I can live with this match taking place at the Royal Rumble pay-per-view because it’s not a true main event and the Rumble matches sell the show. But it really is sad that WWE just can’t stop living in the past because their modern day creative work is so damn bad. The actual segment felt rushed and Goldberg’s lines about McIntyre thinking he’s better than the legends didn’t make any sense. McIntyre’s character is always respectful to the legends, and he even got help from several of them to defeat Randy Orton in their Ambulance Match.
Randy Orton and the legends: The Viper character strikes. The entire night felt inconsistent with the strong work we saw from Orton throughout the previous year. Rather than attacking the legends, he just kept talking and making threats and then he ultimately didn’t do anything.
WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions Asuka and Charlotte Flair vs. Lacey Evans and Peyton Royce in a non-title match: So horny old Ric sold out his daughter to the point that he actually tripped her to cost her the match because Evans flirted with him. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Flair reverted to her old heel persona by getting in his face and telling him to stay out of her business. Neither Flair came off well and I’m not really sure what purpose this served unless there’s more to come. The match outcome surprised me, but it’s not like Evans and Royce really gained anything since the finish was all about Ric and Charlotte.
U.S. Champion Bobby Lashley vs. Riddle in a non-title match: So now we’re supposed to view Riddle as a threat to Lashley because he scored a flukey rollup victory over him only after he tapped out to his submission finisher. Seriously, think about that for a moment.
Shayna Baszler vs. Dana Brooke: The badass of the NXT women’s division was beaten by Brooke and then roughed up by Brooke and Mandy Rose afterward. Why?
Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods vs. The Miz and John Morrison: The first full segment on the first Raw of the new year featured the ice cold duo of Miz and Morrison. It doesn’t seem like Vince McMahon or the creative forces have figured out just how much damage they have done to this duo. Sadly, they weren’t even the lamest part of the talkshow segment, as this was not a good night for Kofi Kingston.
AJ Styles vs. Elias: A repeat from last week’s heel vs. heel match. I don’t know why they booked this match the first time around let alone felt the need to have a rematch. Did Styles have one of those weird WWE turn where there wasn’t an actual turn? Or is this really an oddball heel vs. heel feud that no one really wanted to see? Is it more about Omos and Jaxson Ryker than Styles and Elias?
Randy Orton vs. Jeff Hardy: Who did Jeff Hardy piss off? He followed up all those submission losses to Lashley with another clean loss to Orton.