Thanks both to circumstances outside anyone’s control and some extraordinarily weak booking, Raw turned in one of the poorest episodes in a while.
These WWE Raw Results (January 11, 2021) contain major spoilers.
Covid-19 is running wild on the WWE, brother. With Drew McIntyre having tested positive and found himself in at least two weeks of isolation, his title defence against Goldberg at the upcoming Royal Rumble is in question, as is the health of everyone else on the roster given how this tends to spread. In light of that, what did WWE’s creative team elect to do with their vast roster of underused talent? Absolutely nothing!
Well, almost nothing, presumably all of it written on the fly to accommodate the last-minute changes. But even under those trying circumstances, we should be able to do better than this, shouldn’t we? Let’s go over it anyway.
Triple H Is Mad On Raw
In a determined effort to give us things we haven’t seen before, Triple H opened the show with a message for Randy Orton, who spent all of Legends Night last week harassing old-timers backstage because, if I’ve got this straight, he hates himself for not setting Alexa Bliss on fire. Randy saw an opportunity in a match-fit Triple H and challenged him to a fight, and you know how the COO is, so some kind of encounter between the pair is scheduled for the main event. When you’re kicking off your flagship show with a rehash of a feud that has been on-and-off for twenty years, the alarm bells should be ringing.
Charlotte Flair vs. Lacey Evans
Is it just me, or is the idea that Ric Flair’s gimmick is still being a styling and profiling ladies man a bit gross at this point? Either way that’s what we’re running with here, as Lacey keeps throwing herself at the Nature Boy while Ol’ Ric responds to the attention by sabotaging Charlotte in the match. Where is this going? Where is Asuka? So many questions.
Jeff Hardy vs. Jaxson Ryker and then Elias
Jaxson Ryker is Elias’s swole chum. In a bit of confusion, he managed to roll up Jeff Hardy in their match, and then Jeff challenged Elias, and Elias, fearing that people would think Jeff was better than him if Jaxson interfered, cautioned him to stay out of the proceedings no matter what. Jeff, with his unchanged-since-the-early-2000s moveset, managed to hit the Twist of Fate and the Swanton for the win, and then Elias was sad that Jaxson didn’t intervene despite ordering him not to. I mean, it isn’t exactly Shakespeare, is it? But at least Jeff didn’t have to suffer any career-altering bumps, which he seems contractually mandated to do sometimes.
The Miz and Morrison vs. Sheamus and Keith Lee
I hope you like Keith Lee and Sheamus, folks, since Creative decided to double-book the pair of them, since there obviously isn’t any decent talent backstage who could have used the suddenly free airtime. The first match was a tag team affair against the Miz and Morrison, and the question was whether the big men could put their differences aside for long enough to work as a cohesive team. Thanks to some favourable booking they were able to quite easily, but Sheamus tagged himself in at the end to steal the win with a Brogue Kick. But rather than just let sleeping dogs lie here and enjoy the fact that the sudden top-rope snap was the best spot of the night, a disagreement during the commercial break led to…
Keith Lee vs. Sheamus
It was a decent big man match, and Keith Lee needed a solid put-over after his impressive loss to Drew McIntyre. Both men hugged after the fact, rendering the whole thing kind of pointless, and the structural integrity of the ring was disappointingly maintained.
WWE Raw Results (January 11, 2021) Cont.
T-Bar vs. Xavier Woods
Kofi Kingston doesn’t have Covid-19, but he’s temporarily out of action with a jaw injury, leaving poor Xavier Woods to go one-on-one with the Retribution’s hulking T-Bar. The big man’s finisher, a kind of more muscular GTS, is called Eyes Wide Shut. The match existed to put him over, really, though it wasn’t quite a squash thanks to some determined offence by Xavier, who’s going to struggle to find much to do with Kofi on the shelf.
Bobby Lashley vs. Riddle (United States Championship)
More pointless filler surrounded the United States Championship, as Bobby Lashley was determined to avenge last week’s mishap by absolutely beating the snot out of Riddle, who got demolished basically throughout before tapping to The Hurt Lock. In a phenomenally stupid move, Riddle then called out MVP, presumably not thinking far enough ahead to realize that he was never going to get the chance to win thanks to Lashley’s presence at ringside, and then ate a giant Spear to win the match by DQ. MVP kicked him in a bit more after the fact for good measure.
This is the second match of the night to just outright re-use talent, which raises some awkward questions. I get the need to put Lashley over here after he was humiliated last week, but did we have to make Riddle look so dopey to do it? And twice, no less?
Drew Gulak vs. AJ Styles
In retrospect, it was incredibly naïve of me to think that WWE would put two incredibly talented workers like Drew Gulak and AJ Styles together and give them enough time to actually have a decent match. In storyline terms, Drew had been tasked by Adam Pearce with earning his spot in the Royal Rumble by beating Styles, which only makes it more inexplicable that he’d have to so shamelessly job to Styles, a guy who needs no putting over whatsoever and is already in the Rumble match. Of course, Omos’s giant foot occupying a good chunk of airtime is getting over the idea of this giant dude being an ever-present threat to everyone who goes near Styles, but Gulak lost without any direct interference. It was a waste of time.
Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax vs. Dana Brooke and Mandy Rose
There really is nothing to talk about here. It was a plodding match with no real consequences and didn’t go long enough to even be decent on its own terms. Nothing to see here.
Triple H vs. Randy Orton
Time for the eagerly-anticipated main event, folks, which wasn’t even a match, really. The announcers kept putting it over as “a fight”, and it really did look like it was going that way, especially once Randy was opened up and Triple H found his trademark sledgehammer under the ring (why are they always there?!). But it quickly became a spot for the Fiend, as the lights went out, the sledgehammer set alight, and Alexa Bliss appeared in the ring. The closing moment of the episode was her blowing a fireball in Randy’s face, leaving him screaming and writhing around on the floor.
Fireball spots aren’t anything new, especially coming on the back of a scrap between Randy Orton and Triple H, of all people, which only made this whole segment feel even more like pointless filler. Triple H literally disappearing could probably do with some explanation, but I imagine it won’t get any – that kind of thing just hand-waved away as the Fiend’s typical demonic magic. Maybe next week he can conjure a better show.