Wednesday, 30 December 2020

WWE NXT Highlights 30 December 2020

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WWE NXT Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from December 30

Sana Ejaz Khan

    Credit: WWE.com

    It is that time of year again. For the final show of 2020, WWE NXT presented the NXT Year-End Awards. This was the time to celebrate the greatest competitors for the black-and-gold brand over the year of 2020.

    Nine categories were to be named on this show including Overall Competitor of the Year, Match of the Year and Breakout Star of the Year. Some of the NXT greats had an impressive year, and it was time to recognize stars like Adam Cole, Tommaso Ciampa, Keith Lee, Io Shirai, Rhea Ripley and more.

    Pete Dunne still had a score to settle with Rodrick Strong The long-time rivals were set for another huge technical showdown in the continued clash of Undisputed Era against The Kings of NXT.

    Johnny Gargano looked to exorcise his biggest demon in his title career by fighting and hopefully defeating Leon Ruff. The Rebel Heart has lost repeatedly as champion. The Curse had yet to be broken, but he had a chance to prove he is a true legendary NXT North American champion with a win.

    Two likely future top stars on the black-and-gold brand, Bronson Reed and Isaiah "Swerve" Scott were set to open the show. Mercedes Martinez was also announced to return to the ring.

    This show was massively booked from the Year-End Awards to the variety of big matches promised. This looked to be a fantastic show to close out the year.

The NXT Year-End Award Results

1 OF 8

    These were the winners of this year's WWE NXT Year-End Awards:

    • Event of the Year: NXT TakeOver: WarGames.
    • Rivalry of the Year: Adam Cole vs. Pat McAfee.
    • Breakout Star of the Year: Shotzi Blackheart.
    • Tag Team of the Year: Undisputed Era.
    • Female Competitor of the Year: Io Shirai.
    • Male Competitor of the Year: Adam Cole.
    • Match of the Year: Finn Balor vs. Kyle O'Reilly, NXT TakeOver 31.
    • Future Star of the Year: Austin Theory.
    • Overall Competitor of the Year: Shirai.

"The Colossal" Bronson Reed vs. Isaiah "Swerve" Scott

2 OF 8

    Credit: WWE.com

    To open the show, WWE showed a tribute picture for a former NXT star, the late Luke Harper.

    Isaiah "Swerve" Scott walked into this match far too confident, fighting a man nearly twice his size. While he managed to injure Bronson Reed's knee, The Colossal refused to lose in his return to action.

    He fought through the pain and blasted Swerve with a standing senton followed by The Avalanche to pick up another impressive victory.

              

    Result

    Reed def. Swerve by pinfall.

               

    Grade

    C-

                

    Analysis

    While both Reed and Swerve are immensely talented, this never truly worked. The dynamic was awkward as Reed sold too much for Swerve despite their massive size difference. Scott needed to do more to sell that he could truly injure and potentially defeat The Colossal.

    The short run-time for the match coupled with a lack of drama and psychology felt off for NXT's typical quality. This may have been a last-minute addition to the show because there is no doubt these two can work a fantastic match with time to prepare.

The Grizzled Young Veterans vs. Breezango

3 OF 8

    It was announced early in this match that the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic would return next week, and commentary reminded fans that The Grizzled Young Veterans almost won the tournament last year.

    Fandango kept the pressure off Tyler Breeze after Zack Gibson and James Drake isolated Prince Pretty early, but the electric dancer injured his knee on an impressive dive into The Grizzled Young Veterans. Gibson saw a target and went after that knee of Fandango.

    Breeze saved his partner, trying to fight back two-on-one. Prince Pretty caught Drake with an enzuigiri, but Gibson knocked Fandango off the apron to leave Breeze alone. The two heels hit the Ticket to Mayhem to win. Afterward, Ever-Rise taunted Grizzle Young Veterans but ultimately backed off.

    After winning NXT Tag Team of the Year, Undisputed Era announced Adam Cole and Roderick Strong would represent the group in the Dusty Classic.

              

    Result

    Grizzled Young Veterans def. Breezango by pinfall.

               

    Grade

    B+

                

    Analysis

    This was a fun tag team between two of the best in NXT today. Breezango played the underdog faces well throughout, even if the booking never allowed them to work together for long. This was a classic heel domination over a team that refused to quit.

    The Dusty Rhodes Classic is always a fun tournament, one of the highlights of NXT. Grizzled Young Veterans have been set up as the favorites, even with Undisputed Era involved. That said, favorites in the Dusty Classic rarely win.

Mercedes Martinez vs. Valentina Feroz

4 OF 8

    Credit: WWE.com

    Xia Li and Boa completed their torturous training, and the mystery woman led them into the light. NXT promised the group would arrived in NXT at New Year's Evil.

    Mercedes Martinez barely gave Valentina Feroz room to breathe in this physical squash. The veteran dominated her opponent and hit the Air Raid Crash for the three. Afterward, she called out every woman in NXT.

              

    Result

    Martinez def. Valentina by pinfall.

               

    Grade

    C+

                

    Analysis

    This was a straightforward re-introduction for Martinez. She has been gone long enough that a squash match had some merit. She was able to show her physical and technical style in dissecting her opponent.

    That said, the squashes should not last long. She took out Io Shirai last week, and that should be the next goal for the dangerous wrestler. She is a veteran who deserves opportunities to treated like the best in the business finally.

Roderick Strong vs. Pete Dunne

5 OF 8

    Credit: WWE.com

    Pete Dunne's joint manipulation of Roderick Strong was too much for The Messiah of the Backbreaker early, but few have the resilience and endurance of the Undisputed Era stalwart. Strong fought back until The Bruiserweight blasted him into the steel barricade.

    The two men went back and forth as The Messiah of the Backbreaker pulled out his signature move in a few key situations while Dunne gladly punished Strong for the smallest mistakes. The Bruiserweight broke the fingers of Strong with a vicious catch, followed by an emphatic Bitter End for the win.

              

    Result

    Dunne def. Strong by pinfall.

               

    Grade

    A-

                

    Analysis

    This technical showcase was everything one would expect of two of the best wrestlers in NXT. Strong got a chance to show that he is still a fantastic singles wrestler, even if he has transitioned to tag team wrestling primarily.

    In the end, this was about building up Dunne. The Bruiserweight is clearly on the precipice of title contention, and a match with Finn Balor would remind the world how great he is. This was a great start as Dunne pulled out the classics in this battle of smart technicians.

Finn Balor and Kyle O'Reilly Set the Stage/Damian Priest Attacks Karrion Kross

6 OF 8

    After winning NXT Match of the Year for his battle with Kyle O'Reilly, he took his rival's trophy and headed to the ring. Pete Dunne caught him on the ramp, promising he was coming after the NXT Championship next.

    The Prince invited O'Reilly to the ring to take his NXT Year-End trophy. While the Undisputed Era rival was glad to accept it, he wanted something greater. Both men promised to hurt the other until one remained standing with the NXT Championship.

    Scarlett and Karrion Kross interrupted to tell the winner that he would see Doomsday soon. Damian Priest started his fight Kross early as the men brawled over the entire arena. The two crashed through a table as Scarlett laughed at the carnage.

               

    Grade

    B

                

    Analysis

    O'Reilly and Balor have insane chemistry when wrestling, but they are both limited on the mic. The segment was supposed be a fiery clash of top stars. Instead, the two came off as midcard competitors next to the brutal fight around the ring.

    Kross and Priest did not need words to sell their rivalry. It was impressive how easily the two took over the moment to the point that it was easy to forget the NXT champion was just in the ring. NXT New Year's Evil may be main evented by Balor and O'Reilly, but Kross and Priest have more presence behind them.

Lucha House Party vs. Legado Del Fantasma

7 OF 8

    Rhea Ripley talked about her friendship with Raquel Gonzalez. She had opened up her heart to someone she considered a close friend, and her friend had turned on her. Gonzalez mocked The Nightmare, saying she had planned this all from the start to take advantage of Ripley.

    Santos Escobar mocked the cruiserweight division and the "sham" of the NXT Year-End Awards. He made clear he was not looking for praise or popularity, just domination. Lucha House Party arrived in a surprise appearance from Monday Night Raw and challenged Legado del Fantasma.

    William Regal made the match official, and Lince Dorado and Gran Metalik immediately went after Raul Mendoza and Joaquin Wilde. The luchadors ran over the heels, pushing the pace even before the bell.

    Legado del Fantasma struggled to keep up. Dorado hit Mendoza with a reverse hurricanrana into a springboard elbow for the win.

    It was announced by Dexter Lumis that Escobar would fight Metalik next week at New Year's Evil.

              

    Result

    Lucha House Party def. Legado del Fantasma by pinfall.

               

    Grade

    B+

                

    Analysis

    This was the best Metalik and Dorado have looked in months. From the opening bell, they looked spry and energized. While Lucha House Party remain members of the red brand, this proved the luchadors should move to NXT full time until Raw decides to actually use them.

    Metalik is an ideal opponent for Escobar. An experienced performance with a wealth of in-ring talent, the luchador can bring out a new side of the NXT cruiserweight champion. Until Curt Stallion is ready to return, this is a perfect idea by WWE, using underutilized talent.

NXT North American Champion Johnny Gargano vs. Leon Ruff

8 OF 8

    Credit: WWE.com

    Johnny Gargano found a black cat backstage and freaked out, sure someone was mocking him. After Austin Theory won Future Star of the Year, The Rebel Heart accidentally broke a mirror with Theory's protein powder then ran under a ladder.

    Even with The Way on the outside, Ruff dominated early while Gargano was clearly off his game. However, the NXT North American champion managed to trip his challenger off the apron then throw him into the barricade repeatedly to turn the tide.

    Early confusion turned to overconfidence as Gargano beat down and mocked Ruff. The underdog battled through with an enzuigiri into a hanging neckbreaker and German suplex before a cannonball. This was only enough for a nearfall though.

    The NXT North American champion refused to get caught by anything more, battling through and connected on a powerbomb. He locked in the Gargano Escape, but Ruff made it to the ropes.

    The challenger planted the champion with a flatliner outside then a huge frog splash for a close nearfall that worried The Way. However, he ducked Ruff in the corner, bashing him face-first into the top turnbuckle then hit the One Final Beat for three.

              

    Result

    Gargano def. Ruff by pinfall to retain the NXT North American Championship.

               

    Grade

    A-

                

    Analysis

    While the build was mostly comedic, the in-ring action was worth of an NXT main event. Both men brought their all. Even with a few sloppy counters, Ruff had his best singles performance to date on the black-and-gold brand thanks to the giving work of Gargano throughout.

    In the end, it was the right time to end the Curse. The joke was fun for a moment, but The Rebel Heart deserves a big title reign. He proved he can make a star of anyone, and he has plenty more challengers on the horizon.

AEW Dynamite Highlights 30 December 2020 HD

 

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AEW Dynamite Results: Winners, Reaction, Highlights from Brodie Lee Tribute Show

Sana Ejaz Khan

    Credit: All Elite Wrestling.

    This week's episode of AEW Dynamite was originally going to be part of AEW's two-week celebration of the new year, but after Brodie Lee died Saturday, it was turned into a tribute show.

    Lee, real name Jon Huber, was the leader of The Dark Order, and one way the company honored him was by having every match on the card include at least one member of the group.

    Cody Rahodes and Orange Cassidy teamed up with 10 to take on Ricky Starks, Brian Cage and Will Hobbs, while Chris Jericho provided commentary throughout the night.

    We also saw Anna Jay and Tay Conti face Dr. Britt Baker and Penelope Ford, and much more. Since this week's episode is a tribute show to Lee, we have chosen not to grade the matches and instead will focus on recapping the action and how AEW paid tribute to him.

    Let's take a look at everything from Wednesday's show.

It's Wednesday; You Know What That Means

1 OF 7

    Dynamite opened with the entire roster on the stage. Jim Ross said Lee's signature catchphrase before they stood silent for a 10-bell salute. Lee's family was on the stage with the wrestlers, and his eldest son Brodie Jr. could be seen wearing a Dark Order mask.

    We then cut to a video of Jon Moxley talking about how hard it was to come up with the right words to pay tribute to his friend. He talked about knowing Lee for over a decade and how they fought in bingo halls and stadiums together.

    Mox spoke about how Lee always told him how much he loved being a father and closed by saying he loved Lee like a brother and will never forget him.

    The first match kicked off shortly after with Matt Hardy and Private Party taking on Colt Cabana and The Young Bucks.

The Young Bucks and Colt Cabana vs. Matt Hardy and Private Party

2 OF 7

    Cabana and Isiah Kassidy started for their teams. The Bucks and Cabana kept the upper hand for a long time and sent Hardy out of the ring with a triple dropkick.

    The rest of the match unfolded like a typical six-man contest. Each team had multiple sequences and double-team moves as they traded control back and forth.

    The Bucks and Cabana dominated more than Private Party and Hardy, but not by a huge margin. All six men had their time to shine, and we saw just about every combination of opponents this matchup could produce.

    It was smart to start the show with this bout. It was fun, fast-paced and helped bring the mood up in the building after the emotional opening.

    This night was a celebration of Lee's life and the business he loved. He would have wanted people to have fun and enjoy the show. This match helped put people in that mindset.

    Cabana scored the win after The Bucks hit the Meltzer Driver, and he followed up with a Superman dive into a pin. Brodie Jr., whom the announcers called -1, was shown in the crowd cheering after the match.

    The Acclaimed came out and was about to complain about The Dark Order dominating the show, but SCU showed up and threw them into the ring so Cabana and The Bucks could take the team down.

Lance Archer, Stu Grayson and Evil Uno vs. Eddie Kingston, Butcher and Blade

3 OF 7

    Darby Allin spoke after the break about how he met Brodie when he debuted in AEW and immediately wanted to wrestle him. He said Lee had no ego and wanted to elevate everybody. Allin said he would pick Lee's brain because he was always willing to share.

    Lance Archer came out in jeans and a tank top looking like Lee's WWE persona, Luke Harper. Eddie Kingston grabbed a mic and said he loved and missed Brodie before going into heel mode and saying The Dark Order is nothing without him.

    Evil Uno attacked Kingston before the bell to kick off a big brawl. The Muderhawk Monster helped Uno and Stu Grayson take out all three men on the opposing team.

    Grayson filled the role of the guy who takes all of the damage from the other team before he was able to hit one of Lee's signature moves as the show went to a break. We returned to see Kingston and Uno slapping the life out of each other.

    Archer came in and ran over everybody before he walked across the top rope and hit an impressive moonsault to The Blade. Uno and Grayson hit their double-team finisher on The Blade to score the win.

    Once again, the wrestlers of AEW put on a wild match that entertained from start to finish. The attire Archer wore was a nice touch, but the performance of all six men is what stood out the most.

    After the bout, AEW played another tribute video with several people sharing their thoughts on Lee. Cash Wheeler, Arn Anderson, Cabana and Bryce Remsburg spoke about how he was a great family man.

Hangman Page, Alex Reynolds and John Silver vs. MJF, Santana and Ortiz

4 OF 7

    John Silver wore his own version of Lee's attire for his match alongside Alex Reynolds and Adam Page against MJF, Santana and Ortiz. MJF had the Puerto Rican flag on his trunks.

    Silver and Reynolds threw some paper at their opponents as a reference to what Lee would do to them on Being The Elite. MJF rolled out of the ring and yelled at Brodie Jr. The young -1 stood resilient.

    Just like the previous bouts, this one followed a familiar formula. Everybody had a chance to be in control, but for some reason, this one seemed a bit more cohesive. The pace was steady, and the teamwork on both sides was crisp.

    Johnny Hungie got that hot tag when we returned from a break and went on a rampage. He single-handedly took out everyone on the opposing team.

    Silver hit some great spots before MJF hit him with the Heatseeker. Santana and Ortiz tried to pin him, but Reynolds made the save. Wardlow took Reynolds down, and Erick RedBeard, the former Erick Rowan, showed up to take him out of the equation.

    MJF ripped the mask off Brodie Jr. and the little man hit him with a kendo stick. The match ended with Silver, Reynolds and Page getting the win. RedBeard joined them in the ring with a sign for Lee and tears in his eyes.

    This was somehow the most fun and the most emotional match up to this point. Everything with Lee's son was done so well, and he performed in a way that would have made his dad proud. AEW just gave Brodie Jr. the memory of a lifetime. Everything about this was exactly what it needed to be.

    Kingston shared his thoughts about Lee and how much he will miss him. He could barely keep himself from crying as he spoke directly to Lee's family through the camera.

Anna Jay and Tay Conti vs. Britt Baker and Penelope Ford

5 OF 7

    Anna Jay and Britt Baker started the match with some chain wrestling. They each managed to get in some offense before Conti tagged in.

    This match took a slower approach than the six-man bouts we saw earlier because there weren't as many moving parts. There was more time for each performer, so they paced themselves.

    Tay and Jay have teamed together before, but it was a little surprising to see Ford and Baker work so well as a unit. They had the heel tactics down like they have been working together this whole time.

    Jay, aka 99, got the hot tag when we returned from a commercial. She hit a series of moves before Ford stopped her momentum. Conti dealt with Ford, leaving Jay and Baker together in the ring.

    Lee's protege signaled to the sky and gave The Dark Order gesture with tears in her eyes. She caught Ford in a moonsault and locked in a sleeper hold for the victory while Conti kept Baker at bay.

    Jay and Conti celebrated with glassy eyes as the crowd cheered. Tony Schiavone interviewed Baker after the match. She said the whole match was rigged and it was a conspiracy. She said it was a big rig, which was a reference to Lee's name on the indie scene.

    Thunder Rosa attacked her before a group of officials broke them up.

Team Taz vs. 10, Cody Rhodes and Orange Cassidy

6 OF 7

    Chris Jericho shared a story about Brodie Lee from when they were in Saudi Arabia together. He said Brodie spent the last six months of his career proving he was a main event star. He said even his unfriendly dog loved Brodie.

    The main event saw Preston "10" Vance team with Cody Rhodes and Orange Cassidy to take on Ricky Starks, Brian Cage and Powerhouse Hobbs. Cassidy went out and gave Brodie Jr. a hang bump before the match.

    Cody started off against Starks. They traded chops in the corner before The American Nightmare went down from a dropkick. 10 reluctantly took the tag and entered the match. When Hobbs tagged in, he only wanted to fight Cassidy.

    After everyone on Team Taz spent some time beating on Cassidy, Cody came in and turned the tables against Starks. We got to the spot when everyone came in and took out somebody else, and it ended with 10 hitting Cage with a short-arm clothesline before Starks hit a tornado DDT for a two-count.

    Cassidy, Cody and 10 took turns hitting their finishers on Starks to get the win. 10 hugged his partners for the night and threw up The Dark Order symbol before Team Taz came back for revenge. They decimated everyone before the lights dropped out and Darby Allin's music hit. The TNT champion was soon joined by Sting.

    The painted duo made their way to the ring from the stands and stood with 10, Cody and Cassidy to end the segment.

One Final Goodbye

7 OF 7

    Cody was in the ring after the final break and talked about how hard it was to write the memo letting everyone know Brodie had died. He spoke about how much every single person loved Lee in AEW, and he almost cried as he introduced Brodie Jr. with his very own entrance.

    He came out with his mother Amanda, and they set Brodie's boots down in the ring. Tony Khan appeared and presented -1 with the TNT Championship and named him the TNT champion for life.

    Khan presented a video package to give one final tribute to Lee. We saw pictures and clips from his time on the indie scene before he had a huge beard and some family photos.

    This whole show was a beautiful tribute from top to bottom. One of the great things about pro wrestling is that it is entertainment, not a sport. It can do stuff like this because it is what the fans want to see.

    The Exalted One will be deeply missed, but he will not be forgotten. Rest in peace, Big Rig. This night was for you.

Monday, 28 December 2020

WWE Raw Highlights 28 December 2020 Full Show HD

 

WWE Raw 12/28/20





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WWE Raw Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from December 28

Sana Ejaz Khan
    Credit: WWE.com

    2021 is on the immediate horizon, and that means The Road to WrestleMania is approaching. The December 28 edition of Monday Night Raw was the red brand's final addition to the 2020 year in wrestling.

    The biggest story Raw has to offer is the strange and brutal warfare between Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt. After burning The Fiend alive, The Viper thought he was done with Wyatt. Instead, Alexa Bliss promised he would return. This week, she had plans to torment Orton further in Alexa's Playground.

    Charlotte Flair was out of action for six months following the heinous attack of Nia Jax. This week, The Queen got her revenge. She and The Indomitable Force would battle one-on-one for the first time in years.

    In another huge match, Keith Lee fought Sheamus for a chance at the WWE champion, Drew McIntyre. Only one man would be granted the honor of fighting The Scottish Psychopath next week on Raw.

    After months of torment, Ricochet was done fighting lackeys. The One and Only demanded a match with Mustafa Ali, and the leader of Retribution was happy to accept.

    This show had the build to bring big moments to close out 2020. With major stories including Orton, Charlotte and McIntyre, this Raw had the potential to be the first in a long time where the red brand exceeded all expectations.

No. 1 Contender: Keith Lee vs. Sheamus

1 OF 9

    A tribute picture for the late Jon Huber (Luke Harper in WWE) was shown ahead of the show.

    Drew McIntyre opened the show to talk about his future challengers Sheamus and Keith Lee. The Celtic Warrior arrived to make clear that he did not lie to The Scottish Psychopath, only Brogue Kicking The Limitless One off after the bell.

    Lee said McIntyre's word was worth nothing after last week, and he was done working with the two men. McIntyre wanted a referee to come out and start the show off with the No. 1 Contender's match. As a referee arrived, Sheamus hit back-to-back Brogue Kicks.

    McIntyre joined commentary as the bell rang. The Limitless One took control once he had recovered from the pre-match attack, throwing around Sheamus. The Celtic Warrior fought back and blasted Lee onto the announce table with a top-rope double ax handle.

    Sheamus held the action together for a while, but the power of Lee was overwhelming. A spinebuster and running crossbody from The Limitless One nearly put the match away. The Celtic Warrior fought back with White Noise for a near-fall.

    Just as it looked like neither man could possibly do anything more to the other, The Limitless One planted The Celtic Warrior with a Spirit Bomb to take an emphatic victory.

              

    Result

    Lee def. Sheamus by pinfall to earn a WWE Championship match against McIntyre next week.

               

    Grade

    A

                

    Analysis

    Sheamus has been rock-solid in the ring for much of his career, but his work in 2020 has been especially excellent and underrated. This match was one of his most high-profile successes. He pulled out all the stops against the physical presence and power of Lee.

    The Limitless One brought it as well in one of his best matches in WWE to date. This was all-around excellent wrestling. It was never clear who would win, yet WWE never shied away from the emphatic clean ending.

    This was a huge moment from Lee on par with his victory over Randy Orton. He has a chance to take things to the next level now with McIntyre. Even if the end goal is McIntyre vs. Sheamus, The Limitless One got a huge rub in the mix of that story.

The Miz (w/ John Morrison) vs. Gran Metalik (w/ Lince Dorado)

2 OF 9

    Lucha House Party mocked The Miz ahead of this match, calling him delusional for thinking he would get his Money in the Bank briefcase back.

    The A-Lister was angry, but he spent too much time mocking Gran Metalik and not getting the win. This allowed the luchador to stay in the fight until he was able to roll up Miz for three.

    Near the end of the night, Adam Pearce returned the Money in the Bank briefcase to Miz, stating that The A-Lister was right and only Miz could cash in the briefcase.

              

    Result

    Metalik def. Miz by pinfall.

               

    Grade

    C-

                

    Analysis

    While Metalik winning was a welcome move with an underused star, this match was a non-factor. Miz and Metalik barely got going before the generic underdog roll-up victory. It was honestly too predictable for a moment that should have been shocking.

    The A-Lister has not been dominant enough lately to sell this story of losing his nerve. WWE is trying to make out Miz to be a bigger star than he has been to put over other talent. The only positive here is potentially building up Metalik and Lince Dorado in the tag team division.

Shayna Baszler vs. Dana Brooke (w/ Mandy Rose)

3 OF 9

    Shayna Baszler showed a complete lack of humanity as she targeted the left arm of Dana Brooke. Her assault looked bad enough to break the limb in front of Mandy Rose, the woman The Queen of Spades had badly injured not long ago.

    Brooke was out of her depth until Baszler got distracted trying to re-injure God's Greatest Creation on the outside. The distraction almost cost The Queen of Spades the win following a spinning neckbreaker. However, Baszler kicked out and caught Brooke with a knee strike into the Kirifuda Clutch for the win.

    Afterward, Baszler pulled in Rose to make her tap out to the Kirifuda Clutch as well.

              

    Result

    Baszler def. Brooke by submission.

               

    Grade

    C+

                

    Analysis

    While this segment felt out of place with Nia Jax facing Charlotte Flair the same night, the match worked well. The Queen of Spades did not fall to the underdog story. She did what she does best and made sure her opponent suffered.

    Brooke sold the limb manipulation well and had an impressive comeback sequence that felt like it might seal the win. Baszler had to win in the end if she is going to be in title contention. She is the best option to challenge Asuka for the Raw Women's Championship.

Alexa Bliss Demands a Match with Randy Orton After Destroying Firefly Fun House

4 OF 9

    Alexa Bliss invited Randy Orton to Alexa's Playground, but The Viper did not answer. Instead, Orton decided to enter the Firefly Fun House. Bliss was frightened as Orton tore through it. In response, she challenged The Viper to a match in the ring, which he accepted.

               

    Grade

    D+

                

    Analysis

    The line delivery in this segment was all off. Orton did not seem confident in what he was saying, and Bliss lost her words late. The concept of the segment worked well. It was just the execution, and that comes down to a lack of preparation and a potential bad script.

    The mystery of a potential return by Bray Wyatt needs to be held together as long as possible, but if the segments continue to be this awkward, it may be vital for Wyatt to return.

AJ Styles (w/ Omos) vs. Elias (w/ Jaxson Ryker)

5 OF 9

    Elias tried to prepare for a performance backstage with Jaxson Ryker until AJ Styles and Omos knocked on the door, angry about all the noise. The Phenomenal One challenged The Living Truth to a match.

    Despite early overconfidence, Styles was not quite ready for the power of Elias. The Living Truth threw around The Phenomenal One. Omos made sure that Ryker could not take a cheap shot at Styles, slowing the match enough to let the former WWE champion recover.

    As Styles fought back, he got caught with Drift Away for a huge near-fall. Omos encouraged the toughness of Styles, who managed to unbalance his opponent late and then hit the Phenomenal Forearm.

              

    Result

    Styles def. Elias by pinfall.

               

    Grade

    B-

                

    Analysis

    This match made little sense on the surface. Styles has been one of Raw's top heels, but he played the face against Elias in a meaningless clash. This may be a turning point for The Phenomenal One. However, that is far from clear at this point.

    The action was good. Elias got to show off what he can do against top talent. Styles gladly worked with a fresh athletic rival. This just all felt premature, ahead of the two men building a story together.

Mustafa Ali (w/ Retribution) vs. Ricochet

6 OF 9

    WWE showed Ricochet's interview on Raw Talk where he explained that he could not afford to keep losing to Retribution. Mustafa Ali gave a pretaped message to The One and Only, telling him to accept that he needed help.

    T-Bar planted Ricochet on the outside behind the referee's back, and Ali followed up with a splash onto the floor. The leader of Retribution continued the onslaught with a backstabber before The One and Only flipped over Ali right into an impressive German suplex.

    A fired-up Ricochet planted Ali with the Kickback, but Mace saved Ali from the pinfall. Ricochet went after all the members of Retribution, taking them out to set up a 630 splash, but he landed on the knees of the leader, setting up Ali to lock in the Koji clutch for the win.

    The leader of Retribution offered one last chance to The One and Only to join the group. Instead, Ricochet landed the Recoil and escaped. He made clear that he would not lose his conviction no matter what happened to him.

              

    Result

    Ali def. Ricochet by submission.

               

    Grade

    B-

                

    Analysis

    This was a fun match, but Ricochet and Ali have pulled off much more together before. After so much buildup, this felt like just another week in this endless rivalry. There is no way a match with talent this great should feel so stale.

    The problem is that WWE has fallen into the same story as Ricochet had with The Hurt Business. Once again, The One and Only refused to join a team. Ali can only give so many of the same promo and still sell the angle. It is vital that this story develop in some manner quickly.

Charlotte Flair (w/ Asuka) vs. Nia Jax (w/ Shayna Baszler)

7 OF 9

    Credit: WWE.com

    Nia Jax was hardly focused on Charlotte Flair in a pre-match interview, announcing she would enter and win the Royal Rumble. Shayna Baszler put her name in the hat as well for the Rumble.

    The Irresistible Force was not ready to get bullied early by the size and power of The Queen. Asuka took out Baszler on the outside while Charlotte went for the Figure-Eight only to get bashed head-first into the lowest turnbuckle.

    This turned the match around as Jax began to dominate. She planted Charlotte with a powerbomb and barely missed a leg drop that would have sealed the win. Outside, Baszler took out Asuka and then saved Jax from a Figure-Eight, locking in the Kirifuda Clutch on The Queen.

    The Empress of Tomorrow saved Charlotte from the hold and sent the heels running.

              

    Result

    Charlotte def. Jax by disqualification.

               

    Grade

    C+

                

    Analysis

    Charlotte and Jax have chemistry, but this match went on too long. It was good in stretches but sloppy in others. They lost track of the action in moments. The Irresistible Force is far from the ideal opponent for anyone in their first singles match back.

    Still, the spark was there. Once Charlotte is back to working at her comfortable best, she and Jax could have a great match. They just need to keep the action moving. The disqualification finish clearly set up a rematch between these two at a better time.

The Hurt Business vs. New Day and The Hardy Bros

8 OF 9

    The Hurt Business scared someone backstage into falling on the floor. Angel Garza had a special rose for someone, but a parade of wrestlers after chasing R-Truth for his 24/7 Championship stomped on it. Garza was left with only the head to give to Charly Caruso.

    New Day celebrated Big E's WWE Intercontinental Championship win before heading to the ring. MVP taunted the faces before giving the mic to Bobby Lashley to announce his entrance into the Royal Rumble.

    Early on, Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods worked with fire, ready to make a statement against The Hurt Business. The All Mighty managed to get his hands on Matt Riddle and isolate him in the heel corner, keeping him away from the motivated former Raw tag team champions.

    The Original Bro battled through to get the tag to Kofi, who planted Cedric Alexander with a Boom Drop. A fresh Woods got Alexander with a Luke Harper discus clothesline to set up the Swanton Bomb, but Lashley broke it up. He made Jeff Hardy tap out to the Hurt Lock.

    The faces survived a post-match attack from The Hurt Business after Riddle caught Lashley with a Final Flash.

              

    Result

    Hurt Business def. Hardy, Riddle, Kofi and Woods by submission.

               

    Grade

    C

                

    Analysis

    Beyond a wonderful clothesline tribute to the late Harper, this match was somewhat forgettable. Every week, Hardy is the weak link and taps out to Lashley. Every week, Riddle looks like he can beat The All Mighty, but the two barely cross paths.

    The formula is tiring, no matter the talent involved. It is time to move past New Day vs. Hurt Business and fully commit to Riddle challenging for the United States Championship. The repeat matches have done nothing for anyone.

Alexa Bliss Challenges Randy Orton to Burn Her Alive

9 OF 9

    Randy Orton stood in the ring with Alexa Bliss, demanding Bray Wyatt show his face. Instead, The Goddess grabbed a massive present and opened it in front of The Viper. She pulled out a gas can and matches and challenged Orton to burn her like he did The Fiend.

    The Viper was not sure what to make of the scene as Bliss surrounded herself with the gas and then poured it on herself. She called out Orton for not being as sadistic as he said he was. The lights began to go out, and Orton smiled as he lit the match, ready to burn Bliss. The show abruptly cut before anything could happen.

               

    Grade

    D+

                

    Analysis

    The Viper was still off his game in this promo, but the impassioned work of Bliss almost sold it all. The problem was that WWE did not have any way to deliver on the tease. The lights went out without any resolution, and the end of the show felt like a waste of time.

    We are left with a cliffhanger that won't be immediately answered or followed up. If Orton actually meant to burn Bliss, WWE could have at least presented it like he dropped the match. This was a moment in this rivalry that was better in theory than execution.

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