By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw (Episode 1,488)
Elmont, New York at UBS Arena at Belmont Park
Aired November 29, 2021 on USA Network
[Hour One] Jimmy Smith welcomed viewers to the show and was joined on commentary by Corey Graves and Byron Saxton. Seth Rollins made his entrance. The broadcast team hyped the show’s “stacked lineup” and ran through the previously advertised matches and touted the return of Edge.
Rollins said he was in a good mood because he had a secret. Rollins said he had breaking news and then asked the fans if they wanted to hear it. Rollins had the production team give him a drumroll, then announced that he would challenge Big E for the WWE Championship at the WWE Day 1 pay-per-view event on January 1.
Finn Balor made his entrance. Balor attacked Rollins once he entered the ring. The fight spilled over to ringside. Balor dove at Rollins and they both tumbled into the timekeepers area. Balor continued to dominate Rollins and finally tossed him inside the ring. Rollins hit Balor and then executed a suicide dive.
Balor came back with a sling blade clothesline. Balor grabbed the top piece of the ring steps and hit Rollins with it. Once both men were in the ring, the referee checked on Rollins, who confirmed that he still wanted to wrestle the match.
1. Seth Rollins vs. Finn Balor. Balor immediately dropkicked Rollins in the corner. Balor went up top for his finisher, but Rollins rolled to the floor. Balor dropped down and did a flip dive onto Rollins at ringside heading into the first commercial break. [C]
Balor picked up a couple of near falls, but Rollins cut him off with a sling blade clothesline. Once Balor was on his knees, Rollins superkicked him and covered him for a near fall of his own. Balor came back and went for his finisher, but Rollins avoided it. Rollins went for a Stomp, but Balor avoided it. They both threw simultaneous forearms that resulted in both men lying on a mat for a moment.
Rollins and Balor traded enzuigiris. Balor avoided a high knee and then performed an inverted DDT. Balor went for another move, but Rollins poked Balor’s eye to break it up. Rollins performed a rolling elbow to the back of the head and then followed up with the Stomp and scored the pin…
Seth Rollins defeated Finn Balor in 8:45.
Powell’s POV: A hot opener. Balor showed good intensity with his post match attack, and both men showed good intensity during the actual match. I guess the poke of the eye was meant to protect Balor to some extent, but I’m not sure that it really worked. And that’s okay because there’s nothing wrong with losing a good, competitive match.
Highlights aired of Raw Women’s Champion Becky Lynch and Liv Morgan’s backstage segment from last week… Lynch made her entrance for a contract signing for her title match with Morgan… [C]
Vince McMahon was texting on his phone inside his office when Austin Theory knocked on the door and entered the room. Vince shook his hand. Theory made the mistake of asking Vince how he was doing. Vince said he hates that. He ran through a list of potential ailments that he could discuss, then said it’s phony crap.
Vince said Theory’s match against Big E was not phony. Highlights aired of Vince granting Theory the match and upsetting Sami Zayn. Back live, Vince told Theory that he was going to have him watch the show with him and they would look to see if anyone expects the unexpected, and how they will respond if they do. Vince told Theory that he would kill him if he ever steals from him again…
Sonya Deville hosted the contract signing for the Lynch vs. Morgan match. Lynch was seated at the contract signing table. Deville introduced Morgan, who made her entrance and took her seat at the table. Lynch said she intentionally got Morgan worked up last week and praised her right hand punch, but said it would take more than that to beat her.
Deville announced Lynch vs. Morgan for the Raw Women’s Championship for next week’s Raw. Lynch taunted the live crowd for not getting the big title match and then took shots at the New York Islanders hockey team that plays in the venue.
Morgan asked Lynch to please shut the hell up. Morgan signed the contract. She said she decided to use her fist last week rather than become a blubbering mess like Lynch was after her match with Charlotte Flair. Morgan had footage air of an emotional Lynch talking about how much she and Flair had been through and how they now despise each other.
“Who knew Big Time Beck cried like such a little baby?” Morgan asked. She also blamed Lynch’s big contract as the reason that her friends are gone. She told Lynch that she’s become everything she once despised. Morgan said Lynch is no longer the person she once admired. She said that if her punch wasn’t enough to impress her last week, maybe this one will. Morgan tried to go after Lynch, but Deville stopped her.
Lynch questioned the idea of Morgan thinking she could be the leader of the women’s division and called for a ten-woman tag match. She had Deville call for a match graphic to be shown that listed Morgan, Bianca Beliar, Dania Brooke, Rhea Ripley, and Nikki ASH vs. Lynch Queen Zelina, Carmella, Tamina, and Doudrop. Morgan accepted the challenge…
Highlights aired of Riddle’s cosplay of Randy Orton from last week…
Backstage, a disappointed Riddle told Orton that he thought Orton was going to dress up like him this week. Riddle rambled until Orton cut him off and told him that he was braindead if he thought that Orton would ride his scooter barefoot to the ring. Orton told Riddle that they had to be more ruthless than everyone else to keep the tag titles.
Riddle had Orton close his eyes and then put a wig on his head. Orton looked in the mirror and told Riddle he had two seconds to take it off. Riddle immediately took it off. Orton told him never to do it again. Riddle said he was sorry and then they made their entrance for the tag title match… [C]
Powell’s POV: Wow, Randy Orton just go the Goldberg treatment. Anyway, the bulk of the Morgan and Lynch segment was solid. But Morgan mocking Flair over her emotional promo didn’t click because the footage didn’t come off like something that a babyface should mock.
2. “RKBro” Randy Orton and Riddle vs. “The Dirty Dawgs” Robert Roode and Dolph Ziggler for the Raw Tag Titles. Roode and Ziggler’s entrance was televised. Ziggler attacked Riddle to start the match. A short time later, Roode catapulted Riddle into a DDT from Ziggler, which resulted in an early near fall.
Orton tagged in a short time later and ended up fighting with both challengers at ringside. Roode slammed Ziggler’s head into the broadcast table and then went for a side slam, but Ziggler landed on his feet and superkicked Orton. Riddle ran over and leapt off the ring steps and into a kick from Roode, who then gave him a side slam onto the broadcast table. [C]
Late in the match, Ziggler hit a Zigzag on Orton for a near fall. Orton came right back with an RKO and scored the pin while Riddle prevented Roode from breaking it up…
Randy Orton and Riddle defeated Robert Roode and Dolph Ziggler in 10:30 to retain the Raw Tag Titles.
Seth Rollins was shown walking backstage when Kevin Owens approached him. Owens said the title match at WWE Day 1 was big news. Owens said he had big news too. He said that Adam Pearce told him that if he beats Big E, then he’ll be added to the WWE Championship match at WWE Day 1. Rollins thought he was joking. Owens told him to go ask Pearce. Rollins said he would ask, but he didn’t believe it because Owens a liar…
Powell’s POV: A good tag title match even if the outcome never seemed in doubt. I’ve been assuming that Big E would defend against Rollins and Owens in a Triple Threat. We’ll see if they make it official later tonight.
Edge made his entrance… [C] Adam Pearce was shown texting while standing backstage.
[Hour Two] Rollins asked him about Owens’ claim. Pearce said Rollins should know not to believe a word that comes out of Owens’ mouth. Rollins left the room. Deville showed up and heard what was discussed, then said adding Owens wasn’t a bad idea…
Edge stood in the ring and told the fans that he missed them. He said he was back and the last time fans saw him he was surviving a war with Seth Rollins. Edge said now Rollins is the number one contender to the WWE Championship. Edge said he never thought he’d say it, but Rollins deserves it because he’s operating on a different level.
Powell’s POV: I’m sure we’d all be that gracious in praising someone if they broke into our home. Ugh.
Edge played to the Long Island crowd and spoke about the new additions to Raw. He said it was exciting because everything was side open. Edge was interrupted by entrance music.
The Miz and Maryse made their entrance wearing “Miz” and “Mrs.” jackets. A brief video aired of Miz’s appearance on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” most recent season. Once in the ring, Miz took issue with WWE giving Edge the big return treatment and press release.
Miz said Edge has been gone a month and then asked if his career is now just about making big comebacks. Miz spoke about how he has represented the company on a major television show, yet he doesn’t get the triumphant return with the pyro display. Miz touted the return of Maryse. Edge applauded.
Miz took issue with Edge not mentioning his name when he spoke about the Raw roster. Edge said he thought Miz was still painting himself like a genie and dancing. Maryse sang her husband’s praises. “Didn’t he come in like ninth place?” Edge asked. Miz said everyone knows he was the real winner. He blamed the WWE fans for not being loyal, adding that Jojo Siwa has a more devoted fanbase.
Edge said Miz and Maryse could have gone to Pearce and demanded to get the treatment they want, but instead Miz came out and interrupted him because he knows it makes him main event. Edge got the crowd (or at least some fans) to yell Miz sucks.
Miz questioned when Edge last held a championship. He boasted that Edge opened WrestleMania when he was headlining with John Cena. Miz said Edge was once great, but he should have stayed home for good this time.
Edge conceded that he can’t continue to wrestle much longer. He said he’s the guy that everyone wants to stand across the ring from. He said it’s mutual respect, which is something that Miz knows nothing about. Edge said Miz could still earn it, but instead he bitches about what he doesn’t have and wants a pat on the back.
Edge said he would give him one and said he sincerely meant what he was about to say. He spoke about Miz’s accomplishments and said he made it farther than anyone thought he would or could. Edge said Miz believed it and made it happen.
“But the big difference between you and I is that I fought with every fiber of my being to get this small window back, where you used this to get notoriety for your next endeavor, for your next reality show, for your next dance competition while leaving your partner high and dry to get fired,” Edge said. “You come out here and expect respect. I earn it.”
Miz removed his shades. Edge said he could take them off and stare him down and they could do it right now. Miz asked the fans if they wanted to see them dance. “No,” Miz told Edge. Miz tossed the mic aside and then headed to the back with Maryse…
Powell’s POV: While I can’t say that this paring jumps off the page at me, I really hope that Edge is approaching this feud with the goal of helping Miz become more than a pest heel. Of course, Miz has to actually aspire to be more than that in order for it to happen. Say what you will about Miz, he and John Morrison were booked terribly and deserved better.
Backstage, Sarah Schreiber asked AJ Styles and Omos why The Street Profits used a fire extinguisher to beat them. Styles said the Profits can’t beat him or Omos. Styles, who was wearing shades, said he couldn’t see. Styles said the doctors are unsure of whether his vision will ever be 100 percent…
“The Street Profits” Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins made their entrance for a match against Alpha Academy… [C]
3. “Alpha Academy” Chad Gable and Otis vs. “The Street Profits” Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins. The entrance of Gable and Otis was not televised. Before the opening bell, Omos led a “blind” AJ Styles to ringside where he joined the broadcast team on commentary. Ford went up top. Styles left the broadcast table and tried to interfere, but Ford kicked him to the floor. Ford splashed Gable and scored the pin.
“The Street Profits” Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins defeated “Alpha Academy” Chad Gable and Otis in 3:15.
Afterward, Omos just looked down at Styles and they bickered with one another…
Backstage, Vince asked Theory what he thought of AJ’s surprise. Theory said he thought it was pretty good, but Vince said it was frigging horrible and could be seen coming a mile away. Theory said he was right. Vince told him he has to be more attentive…
Powell’s POV: It was hard to tell whether Omos was upset with Styles or if Styles was upset with Omos. There was no obvious reason for Styles to be upset, but he seemed more upset than apologetic, so I don’t know what they are going for.
Highlights aired of Dana Brooke winning the WWE 24/7 Championship last week. A shot aired of her talking with former champion Reggie in the backstage area… Damian made his entrance for the U.S. Title match… [C]
Kevin Owens was seated backstage when Seth Rollins showed up and laughed at him and called him a liar. Rollins recalled Adam Pearce telling him that Owens was not going to be in the WWE Championship match at Day 1. Owens said he was not lying and would be added to the match if he beats Big E. Rollins laughed it off… Apollo Crews and Commander Azeez made their entrance…
4. Damian Priest vs. Apollo Crews (w/Commander Azeez) for the U.S. Championship. Saxton noted that this was Crews’s first match on Raw since being drafted to the brand. Graves dropped a reference to popular Islanders wing Cal Clutterbuck. Crews rolled to ringside. Priest followed and was distracted by Azeez, allowing Crews to hit him with a flying knee to the head. [C]
Crews had a run on offense, then Priest came back with a cliffhanger DDT for a near fall. Crews rolled to the floor. Priest wanted to go or a springboard leap, but Azeez stood in the way. Priest went to the apron and dove onto Crews. Priest rolled Crews back inside the ring and went up top. Azeez pulled him down. The referee ejected Azeez from ringside.
Priest snapped. “The devil is here,” Graves said. Priest chokeslammed Crews from the apron into the ring. Priest hit The Reckoning and scored the pin…
Damian Priest defeated Apollo Crews in 8:30 to retain the U.S. Championship.
Powell’s POV: I loved the energy that Cal Clutterbuck brought when he was with the Minnesota Wild, but I never thought he’d be name dropped on Raw. Good for him. Anyway, I was surprised to see Priest plow through Crews. I realize they are still establishing Priest’s snapping gimmick, but I thought this would end up being a program rather than a one off. And maybe it still will be. Lord knows Crews lost his share of matches to Big E and their Intercontinental Championship led to what felt like a thousand rematches when both men were on Smackdown.
Backstage, Rollins told Pearce and Deville that Owens was still spreading rumors that he could be added to the WWE Championship match at WWE Day 1. Pearce said Deville thought it was a good idea and they agreed to the stipulation. Rollins said Pearce lied to him. Pearce said he did not. Rollins yelled and stormed out of the room…
Rey Mysterio and Dominik Mysterio made their entrance for a tag team match… [C]
5. Rey Mysterio and Dominik Mysterio vs. Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin. The entrances of Alexander and Benjamin were not televised. The Mysterios hit a double 619 on both opponents simultaneously. Rey took out Benjamin at ringside, then Dom hit a top rope frogsplash on Alexander and pinned him…
Rey Mysterio and Dominik Mysterio beat Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin in 3:10.
Powell’s POV: I get that this was meant to be a bounce back win for Rey and Dom, but I continue to feel bad for Alexander and Benjamin. They rejoined the Hurt Business and nothing has changed in terms of them being booked to lose the majority of their matches.
The broadcast team hyped the ten-woman tag match, and footage from the Becky Lynch and Liv Morgan segment was shown… Morgan’s team made their entrance to her music heading into the break… An ad for NXT 2.0 touted that fans can vote to determine which team has the advantage in Sunday’s men’s WarGames match… [C] The Smackdown recap video package aired.
[Hour Three] The Smackdown recap video ran over into the top of the third hour. Highlights aired of Queen Zelina and Carmella beating Rhea Ripley and Nikki ASH to win the WWE Women’s Tag Titles… Becky Lynch’s team made their entrance…
6. Liv Morgan, Bianca Belair, Rhea Ripley, Dana Brooke, and Nikki ASH vs. Becky Lynch, Queen Zelina, Carmella, Tamina, and Doudrop. Carmella’s assistants put on her white mask once the referee called for the bell to start the match. Morgan got the better of Lynch to start the match. Morgan missed a running elbow in the corner and then Lynch went on the offensive before tagging out.
A short time later, Tamina was surrounded by the five babyfaces in the ring while the other heels just stood in their corner. Belair hoisted up Tamina for her KOD finisher, but Lynch and Doudrop pulled Tamina down. The heels regrouped at ringside. [C]
Ripley clotheslined Carmella, who stayed down on the mat. The referee checked on her and held Ripley back. Carmella eventually ran at Ripley, who hit her with several knees and then missed a dropkick. Carmella applied her finisher on Ripley, but Brooke broke it up.
Doudrop splashed Belair. Morgan goaded Doudrop into “charging” at her and then held down the ropes so that she would tumble to the floor (this was bad). Lynch performed an inverted DDT on Morgan. Ripley tossed Lynch to ringside. Ripley went for her finisher on Carmella, who avoided it and then superkicked her. Carmella picked up a near fall on Ripley. [C]
Late in the match, Zelina shoved Brooke off the ropes onto some of her teammates below. Morgan fought off multiple heels and then ran into a superkick from Tamina. Morgan battled back and performed her Oblivion finisher and then scored the pin…
Liv Morgan, Bianca Belair, Rhea Ripley, Dana Brooke, and Nikki ASH defeated Becky Lynch, Queen Zelina, Carmella, Tamina, and Doudrop in 19:40.
After the match, Lynch attacked Morgan. Belair performed a spinebuster on Droupdrop. Lynch went for a Manhandle Slam on Morgan, who dodged it and then put Lynch down with Oblivion. The babyface team stood tall while the broadcast team hyped Lynch vs. Morgan for next week…
Powell’s POV: This match really overstayed its welcome. There were some rough moments, but it wasn’t all bad. They are doing a solid job of showcasing Morgan. I actually hope that her match with Lynch next week is more of an angle to set up a match at WWE Day 1 than anything. It still doesn’t feel like they have sold the masses on Morgan, so I think it would mean more if they stretched this out.
Backstage, Vince continued to lecture Theory about expecting the unexpected. Vince barked at Theory to look at him…
Big E was shown wiping Kevin Patrick’s face with a napkin on the backstage interview set… [C] A Veer Mahaan video package aired. He’s still listed as coming soon to Raw… The broadcast team set up a video package on Bobby Lashley…
Big E was interviewed by Kevin Patrick on the backstage interview set. Patrick asked him about defending his championship against Rollins and possibly Owens if it turns out to be a Triple Threat. He teased giving a one-word answer, then said he would take out Owens and make his match against Rollins a singles match. “Now you gotta feel that, sucka,” Big E said to close his promo…
Kevin Owens made his entrance for the main event… The Street Profits hosted a Cyber Monday merch ad… [C] The guests for Raw Talk were listed as Liv Morgan, Damian Priest, Rey Mysterio, and Dominik Mysterio…
Backstage, Vince asked Theory if he’s enjoyed himself. Theory said he’s had a great time. Vince asked what he learned. Theory said that when it comes to surprises, you have to learn to expect the unexpected. Vince stood up to shake his hand, then slapped him across the face. “You have a lot to learn,” Vince said…
Big E made his entrance. Graves hyped the WWE Championship match for WWE Day 1 for January 1. Seth Rollins made his entrance and was in angry mode rather than doing his over the top laughing schtick…
7. WWE Champion Big E vs. Kevin Owens in a non-title match. Owens can earn a spot in the WWE Championship with a win. Rollins sat in on commentary and said he was lied to by Adam Pearce. Big E kicked Owens to ringside. Rollins chanted in support of Big E. Owens stood up and smacked Rollins and then returned to the ring.
Rollins climbed onto the apron. Owens asked him what he was going to do about it. Rollins returned to his chair while Graves explained that Rollins interfering would have resulted in Owens winning by DQ and being added to the WWE Championship match. A short time later, Owens rolled to ringside and Big E followed. Big E took the top half of the ring steps off. Owens kicked Big E and then DDT’d him on the bottom half of the ring steps. [C]
Powell’s POV: In a correction from earlier, the NXT 2.0 TV ad actually states that fans can vote for which two wrestlers will compete in a ladder match to determine the advantage in the men’s WarGames match. My apologies for the error.
Big E performed three suplexes on Owens and then stood over hi and gyrated. Big E ran the ropes and splashed Owens, who lifted his knees. Later, Rollins got nervous as Owens superkicked Big E and covered him for a two count. Owens charged Big in the corner, but Big E caught him with a uranage slam for a two count of his own.
Big E powered up Owens for his finisher, but Owens slipped out and rolled him up for a two count. Owens caught Big E with a Popup Powerbomb for a near fall. A nervous Rollins said Big E had Owens right where he wanted him. Owens went to the apron, then dropped to the floor and attacked Rollins. When Owens returned to the ring, Big E put him down with a clothesline. Rollins entered the ring shortly thereafter and attacked Owens for the disqualification.
Kevin Owens defeated WWE Champion Big E by DQ in a non-title match in 16:30 to earn a spot in the WWE Championship match at WWE Day 1.
After the match, Rollins hit Big E with a Stomp. The ring announcer named Owens the winner by DQ and added that Owens would now be in the WWE Championship match at WWE Day 1. Rollins threw a fit while Owens laughed at him from the stage. “I got you,” Owens said…
Powell’s POV: When they teased the possibility of Owens winning by DQ early on, I assumed that meant it wouldn’t actually be the match finish. Rather, they used that tease to explain what they were going for even though it really didn’t feel like it required that type of explanation in advance. While this felt a little clunky, they have done a good job overall of building to the Triple Threat by establishing issues between all three wrestlers.
Overall, this was a solid show that played to a tougher than usual crowd. They weren’t completely flat, but they did seem less enthusiastic than most recent crowds despite getting a more loaded show than usual. The Vince McMahon and Austin Theory skits weren’t golden egg bad, but they didn’t really amount to anything either. If nothing else, Vince appearing on the show would seem to suggest that the company is feeling some pressure to improve its television numbers. I will be back with my weekly same night audio review of Raw for Dot Net Members. Let me know what you thought of the show by grading it below.