By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw (Episode 1,445)
Live from Tampa, Florida at Tropicana Field
Aired February 1, 2021 on USA Network
[Hour One] WWE Champion Drew McIntyre was introduced by ring announcer Mike Rome. The broadcast team of Tom Phillips, Byron Saxton, and Samoa Joe checked in with Phillips recapping still shots of McIntyre beating Goldberg the night before at the Royal Rumble.
Once in the ring, McIntyre welcomed viewers to Raw. He said they were kicking things up a notch because they are no on the road to WrestleMania. McIntyre said the Royal Rumble was awesome. He said he went to war and earned the respect of Goldberg, who also earned his respect.
“Thank you,” McIntyre said while looking into the camera. McIntyre put over Bianca Belair for winning the women’s Royal Rumble match. McIntyre started to shift the focus to the men’s Royal Rumble match, but he was interrupted.
Edge made his entrance and joined McIntyre inside the ring. McIntyre thanked Edge for everything he did while he was champion and said Edge was always there for him. McIntyre recalled being there when Edge had to retire. He also recalled being in the Rumble match last year when Edge made his surprise return. Edge smiled.
McIntyre told Edge that he’s proud of him for winning the Rumble match. Edge said he appreciated the compliment and he said he has been a mentor to him, but he had to be blunt. “What is wrong with you?” Edge asked. “I won the Royal Rumble last night, that means I can challenge you for that championship at WrestleMania.”
Edge said McIntyre could kick his head off, but instead he’s showering him with compliments. McIntyre said he’s not that type of champion. Edge said McIntyre isn’t him. Both men were interrupted by Sheamus’s entrance theme.
Sheamus headed to the ring and confronted Edge. He said that McIntyre might take the high road, but he sure as hell does not. McIntyre said he appreciated it, but he’d handle it. McIntyre asked Edge if he would make his decision or if he needs to make it for him.
Edge said he would assess the situation and let McIntyre know. He told McIntyre that he has a big target on him. Sheamus asked Edge why he was looking at him. Edge said that he would let McIntyre know his decision, but he will walk out of WrestleMania as champion regardless of who he opts to challenge. Edge left the ring.
McIntyre watched Edge leave, then held up his WWE Championship belt. When McIntyre turned around, Sheamus blasted him with a Brogue Kick. Sheamus left the ring while Phillips pointed out that Sheamus and McIntyre were friends for over twenty years… [C]
Powell’s POV: We all knew the Sheamus attack was coming sooner or later. There wasn’t a huge beatdown angle that one might expect from a betrayal angle. Shemaus just hit McIntyre with his finisher and left the ring, so I guess we’ll see where it goes. I like that Edge didn’t reveal his decision right out of the gate. While it’s possible he does at some point during the night, they didn’t really promise it, so I assume they will play up the mystery and take a little time before he makes the official announcement.
Sheamus was walking backstage when Kayla Braxton asked him what happened. Sheamus said everyone knows him as McIntyre’s friend. Sheamus said he’s no longer his friend, and he wants the WWE Championship. Sheamus had a brief moment with a smiling Drew Gulak and then walked away…
Riddle made his entrance for the U.S. Title match. Footage aired of Riddle beating the rest of Hurt Business in a gauntlet match last week to earn the title shot. Bobby Lashley and MVP made their entrance. Rome delivered in-ring introductions for the title match… [C]
1. Bobby Lashley (w/MVP) vs. Riddle for the U.S. Championship. Riddle jumped out to a quick start and performed a Floating Bro onto Lashley at ringside. As they returned to the ring, Lashley put Riddle in the Hurt Lock while Riddle was on the apron. The referee called for Lashley to release the hold since he was over the ropes, but Lashley blew him off and was disqualified.
Riddle beat Bobby Lashley by DQ in 1:40 in a U.S. Championship match.
Afterward, Lashley went to ringside and reapplied the Hurt Lock. Lashley released the hold. MVP asked Lashley what he was doing and tried to talk him down, but Lashley reapplied the hold and ended up heading to the back. MVP smiled and rubbed his hands as he watched Lashley walk up the ramp. Lashley and MVP headed to the back together…
Powell’s POV: Lashley continues to destroy everyone he comes in contact with. Whether it’s WrestleMania or another show, I assume Lashley will eventually challenge for the WWE Championship.
Highlights aired of Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax beating Asuka and Charlotte Flair to win the WWE Women’s Tag Titles with help from Lacey Evans…
Phillips hyped Flair and Asuka vs. Naomi and Lana vs. Mandy Rose and Dana Brooke in a Triple Threat for a future tag title shot…
A sports car was shown pulling into the building. The camera started at the feet of the driver and moved up to his head, revealing that it was Bad Bunny… [C]
Powell’s POV: The sports car clip was actually kind of exciting until they revealed it was Bad Bunny rather than an actual wrestler. I miss the days when the wrestlers were actually presented as the coolest people on their own show.
Riddle was seated near the barricade being tended to coming out of the break. The broadcast team recapped the U.S. Championship match…
Randy Orton stood backstage and spoke to Edge via the camera. Orton said he didn’t think it was possible that Edge would return to the ring, let alone enter the Rumble at number one and win the match. Orton congratulated Edge and said he meant it, but added that there’s a problem.
Orton recalled saying that Edge wasn’t coming back and now he’s making him look like a liar. Orton said everything he did to Edge was done out of mercy and compassion. Orton said Edge thinks he’ll main event WrestleMania, but he won’t. Orton said Edge made the decision to look past him and everything he’s done for him and his family, so there won’t be compassion or a WrestleMania main event…
Orton vs. Edge was announced for later in the show…
Powell’s POV: Wow, that just came out of nowhere. I know it’s the night after the Rumble and therefore the show should do better viewership numbers than usual, but you’d think they would advertise a big match like Edge vs. Orton in advance if they actually intend to follow through with it.
Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods spoke backstage about Mustafa Ali. Kingston said it’s about Woods getting his payback and he would have his back. They sang “New Day Rocks” briefly and then made their entrance. Phillips hyped Woods vs. Ali for after the break… [C]
Ali and the male Retribution members made their entrance. Footage was shown of Ali delivering a promo earlier in the day about his issues with Kofi Kingston while the other Retribution members stood behind him making bad grunting noises while looking ridiculous in their bad costumes…
2. Mustafa Ali (w/T-Bar, Slapjack) vs. Xavier Woods (w/Kofi Kingston). Mace was in the background of the pre-taped promo, but he did not come to ringside with the others. Woods had Ali pinned, but T-Bar reached in and pulled Ali’s arms to break the pin. Kingston ran around the ring and jumped off the ring steps onto T-Bar. In the ring, Woods ended up pinning Ali…
Xavier Woods beat Mustafa Ali in 4:10.
Powell’s POV: Apparently, wrestlers are now allowed to reach inside the ring from the floor and interfere in a pin attempt without being disqualified. Seriously, the referee just scolded T-Bar. Anyway, it’s hard to be excited about Ali vs. Kingston when they aren’t even bothering to build up Ali with wins nor putting actual heat on him.
Backstage, Bad Bunny and Damian Priest spoke to one another in Spanish… [C] The WrestleMania video aired. We are 68 days away… Footage aired from the opening segment with McIntyre, Edge, and Sheamus… Phillips hyped a McIntyre interview for later in the show…
The Miz and John Morrison made their entrances for Miz TV. Phillips said it could be the biggest edition of Miz TV ever. Once in the ring, the duo spoke about the Rumble and said Bad Bunny was the star of the night and called his performance spectacular.
Miz introduced Bad Bunny, who walked to the ring while Morrison danced like a jackass in the ring. They all took their seats. Miz called him “Mr. Bunny” and thanked him for appearing. Miz set up a video package of Bad Bunny’s night at the Rumble.
[Hour Two] Bad Bunny accepted the apologies of Miz and Morrison. Miz asked if he had anything he wanted to say to them. He said no. Miz said he heard that Bad Bunny wants to become a WWE Superstar. Bad Bunny said it’s one of his dreams.
Miz cited Daniel Bryan as an example of someone he turned into a beloved superstar and WrestleMania main eventer. Morrison told Bunny to imagine what they could do for him with their connections. Miz said they could teach him how to become a superstar if he helps them record an album. “We get Grammy’s, you get Slammies,” Miz said. Miz and Morrison sang a bad song.
Bad Bunny cut them off and said they are “um, special.” Miz thanked him. Bunny said he wasn’t interested in their offer. Miz got upset. Bad Bunny said the only reason he was there was because his good friend wanted to be on Miz TV. The lights went out.
Damian Priest made his entrance while Phillips recalled that he eliminated Miz and Morrison from the Rumble match. Once in the ring, Priest shook hands with Bad Bunny, then walked over and punched Miz in the face. Miz and Morrison rolled to ringside… [C]
3. Damian Priest (w/Bad Bunny) vs. The Miz (w/John Morrison). Bad Bunny sat next to the broadcast team. Miz rolled to ringside to start. Priest did his springboard flip onto Miz and Morrison, then shook hands with Bad Bunny.
Back inside the ring, Miz went on the offensive and talked smack to Bad Bunny. Priest came right back and knocked Miz down with a clothesline. Priest performed a Broken Arrow on Miz for a two count. Morrison climbed onto the apron to distract Priest, who ran into a big boot from Miz.
Morrison encouraged Miz to grab the Money in the Bank briefcase, but Bad Bunny beat him to it. Morrison asked for the briefcase. Bad Bunny gave it to Morrison, then slapped him. Inside the ring, Priest hit the Reckoning and scored the pin…
Damian Priest beat The Miz in 4:25.
Powell’s POV: A solid debut for Priest. Beating Miz means nothing in 2021, but pairing Priest with Bad Bunny for the night was logical and plays into the Priest’s party guy schtick from NXT.
An Alexa Bliss video package chronicled her recent storylines on Raw. It included footage of Orton wearing the makeup last week from his burns, which magically disappeared in time for the Royal Rumble match… Phillips hyped Bliss vs. Nikki Cross for later in the show… [C]
Phillips hyped that The Weeknd’s “Save Your Tears” is one of the WrestleMania theme songs…
4. Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin vs. “Lucha House Party” Lince Dorado and Gran Metalik for the Raw Tag Titles. The entrance of the champions was not televised. MVP sat in on commentary and apologized for Lashley, saying he’s never seen that side of him before. MVP confessed that he liked it.
MVP also said they addressed the issues with Alexander and things are better now, then tried to change the subject. Lucha House Party knocked the champions off the ring apron heading into a break. [C] Dorado put Benjamin down with a DDT, but Alexander stopped him from tagging out. Dorado dropkicked Alexander and then made the hot tag.
Metalik worked over both opponents. Dorado performed a clunky springboard leap onto Benjamin, who managed to catch him. Dorado followed with a dive onto both men. Back inside the ring, Metalik and Dorado made quick tags and hit top rope moves on Alexander, but Benjamin broke up the pin.
Benjamin knocked Dorado to ringside by blasting him with a knee when Dorado was on the ropes. Benjamin tagged himself into the match, which upset Alexander. Benjamin hit Paydirt on Metalik and pinned him.
Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin defeated “Lucha House Party” Lince Dorado and Gran Metalik in roughly 12:00 to retain the Raw Tag Titles.
Afterward, MVP tried to keep the peace between Benjamin and Alexander…
Powell’s POV: A match that looked a lot better on paper than it was in execution. It wasn’t all bad, but there were some clunky moments.
Highlights aired of the WWE Women’s Tag Title change from the Royal Rumble Kickoff Show…
Asuka and Charlotte Flair were getting ready to make their entrance when Sarah Schreiber approached them and asked about Lacey Evans and Ric Flair. Charlotte said she felt bad for her mistake and let her drama get in the way. Asuka said she wasn’t happy with the loss, but they would have won if it wasn’t for Lacey Evans and Ric Flair. Charlotte said the only thing on her mind was regaining the tag titles, then made her entrance for the Triple Threat tag match… [C]
5. Asuka and Charlotte Flair vs. Mandy Rose and Dana Brooke vs. Naomi and Lana in a Triple Threat tag match for a shot at the WWE Women’s Tag Titles. All of the entrances were televised. A pre-tape aired with Lana saying she was back to go after the tag titles and was not alone. Naomi said they could feel the glow if they worked together.
Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax were shown watching the match on a backstage monitor. Rose and Brooke were in offensive control and they both flexed their biceps heading into the break for reason only they understand. [C]
Charlotte had offensive control when she was distracted by her father’s entrance music. Ric Flair and Lacey Evans made their entrance. Charlotte tagged Asuka and left the ring. A distracted Asuka walked into a Rearview and was pinned by Naomi…
Naomi & Lana defeated Asuka & Charlotte Flair vs. Mandy Rose & Dana Brooke in 11:05 in a Triple Threat to earn a WWE Women’s Tag Title shot.
[Hour Three] [C]
Powell’s POV: It’s odd to see the show in a commercial break at the start of the hour. Anyway, I don’t really get the Naomi and Lana pairing, but I guess the creative forces want to keep Lana’s feud with Baszler and Jax going for some reason. I guess we’ll see how Asuka reacts to Charlotte walking out on the match, but I assume this is the end of their tag team or it’s coming soon.
Backstage, McIntyre was interviewed by Caruso. He questioned Sheamus ending their friendship over the WWE Championship, and spoke about having Christmas dinner at a diner with Sheamus because they had no one else. McIntyre said that if Sheamus wants the match, he’s got it…
A Carlito video package aired that featured old clips along with footage from his Royal Rumble appearance…
6. Carlito and Jeff Hardy vs. Elias and Jaxson Ryker. Phillips noted that Carlito and Elias eliminated one another from the Rumble match. Hardy was isolated. Elias took a cheap shot at Carlito and knocked him off the apron. Carlito eventually tagged into the match and had an exchange with Ryker. Elias tagged in again and ended up taking the Backstabber. Hardy tagged in and performed a Swanton Bomb on Elias and then pinned him…
Carlito and Jeff Hardy beat Elias and Jaxson Ryker in 5:55.
Phillips hyped Edge vs. Orton… [C]
Powell’s POV: Apparently, Hardy is only booked to beat Elias. Phillips repeatedly mentioned that Carlito weighs 240 lbs. He’s definitely jacked and either Phillips or more likely the guy producing him is very excited about it.
A video package chronicled the Edge vs. Orton feud. The narrator said they will face off one last time…
Edge sat backstage and delivered a promo. He spoke about winning the Rumble after coming back from a triceps injury. He said Orton is a black cloud that hangs over the heads of him and his family. Edge said Orton had a chance to go bell to bell just like he did, but he acted like he had a knee injury and came back at the end.
Edge told Orton to cut the crap about his actions being for Edge and his family. Edge said Orton’s actions are about jealous. Edge said he has to get his family out from under the black cloud so that he can walk into WrestleMania to take back a championship that he never lost. Edge said he would get closure tonight for him and his little girls. “Randy, tonight this ends,” Edge closed…
Bliss made her entrance to the Firefly Funhouse theme song… Titus O’Neil hosted a brief video package for Black History Month… [C] Lana, Naomi, Lacey Evans, Ric Flair, Kofi Kingston, and Xavier Woods were named the Raw Talk guests…
Edge was shown walking backstage when he came across Damian Priest. Edge welcomed Priest and shook his hand… Nikki Cross made her entrance…
7. Alexa Bliss vs. Nikki Cross. Bliss avoided a charing Cross, who then asked what Bliss wants from her. Cross said Bliss was her best friend and she wanted nothing to do with this. Bliss smiled. Cross asked if she wanted to fight, then said let’s go. Cross took Bliss down and put her in a headlock, then yelled that she was her best friend.
Bliss remained all smiles once she was out of the headlock. Cross worked over Bliss and performed a running cross body block for a two count. Cross once again asked Bliss what she wanted from her. Bliss smiled. Cross roughed up Bliss and suplexed her, then covered her for a two count.
Bliss came back with a jaw jacker and a couple of punches, then excitedly covered her for a two count. Bliss looked perplexed, then covered her again for another two count. Bliss dropkicked a kneeling Cross, then stood on her and slammed her head into the mat with her foot.
Bliss played hopscotch, then kicked Cross and covered her for another two count. Bliss teased the Mandible Claw, but Cross avoided it. The camera focused on Cross, then Bliss’s old entrance theme played. When the camera showed Bliss, she was dressed her old gear. “It’s me,” Bliss told Cross. Bliss went for a hug, but Cross kicked her and then clotheslined her.
The Firefly Funhouse theme played, and then Bliss was back in the gear she wore to start the match. Bliss knocked Cross down with a shoulder block, then followed up with Sister Abigail and scored the pin.
Alexa Bliss defeated Nikki Cross in 6:45.
Afterward, Bliss started to skip away from ringside when Randy Orton’s entrance theme played. Bliss approached Orton on the ramp and glared at him. Orton stopped, but he never made eye contact, and eventually headed to the ring… [C]
Powell’s POV: I beg you, wear a mask, socially distance, wash your hands, get the vaccine when you can, and do anything and everything to end the spread of the virus so that fans can return and WWE can’t do these ridiculous production tricks anymore.
Edge made his entrance, which included pyro…
8. Edge vs. Randy Orton. Orton avoided Edge’s Anti-Venom submission hold early. Edge dropped Orton with an Impaler DDT and got a two count. Edge followed up with a spear attempt, but Orton countered into a powerslam. Orton ran Edge over the top turnbuckle and into the ring post. Edge tumbled to ringside and Orton followed to the floor where he ran Edge into the ring steps. [C]
Edge stuffed an RKO attempt and performed an Edgecution for a near fall. They fought to ringside where Orton dumped Edge onto the broadcast table. Orton rolled Edge back inside the ring. Orton put Edge down with a Draping DDT, then struck the Viper’s Pose. The warped lullaby music played and Alexa Bliss was suddenly seated on the top rope with blood coming out of her mouth. Edge speared and pinned a distracted Orton…
Edge defeated Randy Orton in 16:05.
Powell’s POV: So we’re supposed to feel excited about a Royal Rumble winner who needed a supernatural distraction to beat his archenemy? Strange. Overall, WWE filled the three hours of Raw better than they have in recent months, but it still didn’t feel like a hot night after the Rumble show like we’ve had in past years. It wasn’t all bad, but so much creative damage has been done to so many wrestlers that they just can’t pull it off even when they headline with a big main event. Sheamus’s turn on McIntyre was about as basic as it gets with just the Brogue Kick, and neither one of the title matches delivered beyond Lashley beating up Riddle for what felt like the hundredth time.
I will return shorty with my weekly same night audio review for Dot Net Members. Let me know what you thought of the show by giving it a letter grade below.