Coming off a terrible 2020, the first Raw of 2021 looks to the future by… looking to the past. It's Legends Night, and WWE is hoping nostalgia can help them kick off the new year right. Will it work? I'm Jude Terror. This is The Shovel. Let's find out.
WWE Raw Recap for January 4th, 2021
Raw opens with than advertisement for something called the H-Phone, which appears to be an iPhone with a beat-up Hulkamania case on it that can Tweet, Instagram, Facebook, Parler, or even… (Hogan picks up the phone) make a phone call. "Whatcha gonna do, brother?" Umm. I think the rant from the sex tape was more coherent than that.
Promo: Miz and Morrison
The Miz and John Morrison are in the ring and they tell us about the card for tonight, which consists of two matches and appearances by Ric Flair, Torrie Wilson, Booker T, Hulk Hogan, and of course, the most legendary of legends, The Miz. The fake boos get louder. They ramble on a little longer and then introduce The New Day.
Xavier Woods and Kofi Kingston walk out looking like Hogan just asked them backstage if they know he once starred in an episode of The Love Boat. They say they're taking over Miz TV or the Dirt Sheet or whatever this is with their new show, New Day Talks. So Miz and Morrison are actually guests on their show.
More witty banter ensues as the teams insult each other. Eventually, Kofi asks Miz and Morrison some questions. Morrison answers by revealing his silly New Years resolutions and admitting that, of all the legends backstage today, he'd most like to go to dinner with Tatanka. Then it's time for the cooking portion of the show, so Woods puts on a chef's hat.
That's apparently the line for Miz. He starts flipping out when Teddy Long's music plays. "Hold on a minute there, playa!" Long (who doesn't look like he's aged a day) says he has a solution: Miz and Morrison will face The Undertaker. Adam Pearce comes out and informs Long that The Undertaker is "retired." So instead, Long puts Miz and Morrison in a tag team match against the New Day, happening next. Well, after some commercials. You still got it, Teddy!
Miz and Morrison vs. The New Day
After the break, these guys have a match. Thank god Teddy Long was here or Raw wouldn't have had an opening match for the night! the match is really long. Woods gets the pin on Morrison after a Shining Wizard.
Winner: The New Day
If I'm Tatanka, there's no way I'm having dinner with Morrison now. Sorry.
Interview: Randy Orton
Time for a recap of the end of last week's show, an Alexa's Playground segment that ended on a cliffhanger with Randy Orton about to light Alexa Bliss on fire and burn her to death. Charly Caruso interviews Orton and asks what was going through his mind when he held the match. Orton says the voices in his head told him drop the match and kill Alexa Bliss, but he couldn't do it, because like everyone else, when he faced The Fiend, something in him changed. He showed Alexa Bliss restraint, compassion, and mercy and he hates himself for it. But Orton realized that he can use that hatred for himself to be even more evil than before. Charly asks if Orton thinks The Fiend is coming back. Orton doesn't care. He's gonna go find some of the old-timers here for Legends Night and remind them why he's called The Legend Killer.
And WWE is gonna show them why they're the real Legend Killers by giving them all coronavirus.
After Raw takes a commercial break, we see Angel Garza win the 24/7 Championship from R-Truth during WWE's New Years Eve TikTok live stream. Garza hits on Alicia Fox backstage, but when he doesn't know enough about TikTok, she ditches him. Garza talks to Sgt. Slaughter, Tatanka, and Mickey James, who is apparently a legend now. Welcome to forced retirement, Mickie. Garza gives his rose to Mickie James, but Slaughter chases him off by calling him a maggot.
AJ Styles vs. Elias
AJ Styles heads to the ring with Olmos, who is now apparently called Omos. Give it a few weeks and it will be 'Mos, and then by WrestleMania he's just going by "M." Elias and Jaxson Ryker follow. Ryker is being punished for his Twitter bullshit by being made to wear Jeggings to the ring. At least, I can't believe that's a willing fashion choice.
Styles and Elias have a match. Styles pins Elias after a Styles Clash.
Winner: AJ Styles
Ryker tries to hit Styles with a guitar after the match but Omos jumps in the ring and kicks the guitar mid-swing, shattering it. I honestly have no idea who is supposed to be the heel in this feud.
In a video from earlier today, we see Charlotte Flair declaring her intention to enter the Royal Rumble. Flair comes out with her dad, the Nature Boy! It's so exciting Raw has to take a commercial break.
After the break, "Riddle" pitches some of his ideas to The Big Show. He leaves to get ready for a match and Randy Orton appears. Orton says he ended Big Show's career and asks him how it feels. Show says his career isn't over and he can compete any time he wants. Randy wants to fight him now, but Show isn't falling for it. He says he's proud to be a legend. Orton says Show doesn't have the guts to take on Orton and leaves.
Charlotte Flair and Asuka vs. Peyton Royce and Lacey Evans
Raw Women's Champion and one half of the Tag Team Champs Asuka joins Charlotte Flair in the ring. Peyton Royce and Lacey Evans come out. They're out to impress the legends tonight, a video recorded earlier tells us. They have a match. Charlotte gets mad at Lacey when, at one point, Lacey does a Ric Flair strut in front of Ric and Ric enjoys it too much. In another spot, Lacey tries to make out with Ric, enraging Charlotte again. A moment later, Ric "accidentally" trips Charlotte while she's running the ropes and Royce pins her.
Winners: Peyton Royce and Lacey Evans
Lacey gives Ric a kiss after the match. Hopefully she doesn't have COVID. Charlotte is very unhappy. She gets in Ric's face and tells him to stay out of her business… again.
Backstage, Sheamus chats with Drew McIntyre ahead of his match with Keith Lee tonight when Hulk Hogan and Jimmy Hart show up. Hogan says he's McIntyre's biggest fan and wishes him luck in the match. He tells Drew he's proud of him and reminds Hulk of himself. Drew says that means the world to him and he wants to know if Sheamus's big mouth reminds Hulk of Jimmy. Sheamus doesn't find it funny, but he wishes Drew luck tonight. Hogan has one more question for McIntyre. They do a "Whatcha gonna do" and posedown together.
"Riddle" vs. Bobby Lashley
"Riddle" heads to the ring. Bobby Lashley comes out with MVP. "Riddle" attacks Lashley from behind to start their match. "Riddle" starts out strong but Lashley dominates for most of the match. After a Dominator, Lashley even mes "Riddle" tap out to the Hurt Lock, but the referee is out of position and doesn't see the tap out. As Lashley and MVP yell at the ref, "Riddle" rolls up Lashley for the pin.
Mark Henry, who looks to have an injured leg because he's riding one of those leg scooters, counsels Ricochet backstage. After Ricochet leaves, Randy Orton shows up. He says he entered the Royal Rumble and wants to know if Henry did too, but then "remembers" Henry can't go anymore. Orton mocks Henry's scooter and forces him to scoot away in disgrace lest Orton physically assault him. Has no one considered calling the police? Can this be classified as elder abuse?
After some commercials, Charly Caruso interviews an irate MVP and Bobby Lashley backstage. MVP says it was a travesty and "Riddle" quit. Lashley says he's gonna punish "Riddle's" punk ass when he gets his hands on him. To see it, you have to subscribe to
Mandy Rose vs. Shayna Baszler
Mandy Rose comes to the ring. But Shayna Baszler attacks her from behind on the ramp and beats her up. Dana Brooke runs out and offers to take Mandy's place.
Dana Brooke vs. Shayna Baszler
Dana Brooke gets her ass kicked and gets put in the Kirafuda Clutch, but manages to pin Shayna while in the hold.
Winner: Dana Brooke
Shayna doesn't let go of the hold, but Mandy is up and she runs in to make the save.
Ric Flair talks to IRS and Molly Holly backstage when Randy Orton appears. Holly and IRS walk away. Orton gets in Ric's face and suggests Ric walk him to the ring for his match with Jeff Hardy. Ric says he'll never walk that aisle with Randy again after what Randy did last time. He brings up their history. Orton says Flair taught him everything he knows, but now Randy is the dirtiest player in the game. He says Charlotte is ten times the competitor Flair ever was. He reminds Ric of when he punt-kicked him in 2020 and says Flair is nothing now, to Randy and to everyone, but a pathetic old man.
WWE has IRS right there, the father of Bray Wyatt, who Randy Orton is currently feuding with, but they don't even have them interact? Why? Because they don't respect their audience enough to trust them to know about a relationship they haven't spoonfed us.
"Riddle" gives Keith Lee a pep talk backstage ahead of his match with Drew McIntyre tonight. Lee thanks him so he'll go away and he can continue warming up.
Randy Orton vs. Jeff Hardy
Randy Orton heads to the ring, followed by Jeff Hardy. They have a match. It's the usual crap until they get to a spot where Orton puts his fingers through Hardy's stretched earlobes and yanks on them, causing everyone watching this show to writhe around in sympathy pain and avert their eyes from the screen. Eventually, when I'm able to open my eyes again, Orton hits an RKO and pins Hardy.
Winner: Randy Orton
So Orton bullied the legends tonight with no comeuppance? Cool.
Lucha House Party vs. Hurt Business
Lucha House Party run into Melina backstage. They chant "lucha" and dance together. Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin head to the ring with MVP. Raw takes a commercial break and then Lucha House Party come out. In a pre-recorded promo, Lince Dorado says that 2021 will finally be the year when his furry lifestyle is accepted in the mainstream and he can start wrestling in his full fursona instead of with just that little bit of fur on his mask.
They have a match. Hurt Business have some miscommunication issues and Dorado is able to pin Shelton Benjamin.
Winners: Lucha House Party
Maybe it really will be your year, Golden Lynx. Well done.
MVP yells at Alexander and Benjamin after the match. Alexander storms off. Benjamin is angry.
Torrie Wilson chats with Nikki Cross backstage when Angel Garza arrives and offers her his rose. She tells him she' busy talk , but she invited Cardi B, Kylie Jenner, and Ariana Grande to watch Raw with her tonight and he can find them right down the hall and Cardi B would like the rose. Garza heads back there, but he finds the Boogeyman instead. As he runs away, R-Truth sneaks up behind him and wins the 24/7 Championship back. He skips off with Torrie and Nikki. Ron Simmons walks up, looks at Garza, and says "Damn!" This segment was a good use of legends.
Keith Lee vs. Drew McIntyre – WWE Championship Match
Drew McIntyre heads to the ring. After a commercial break, Keith Lee heads out. All the legends are standing at the top of the stage now, so if anyone is infected, this could be a super-spreader event. Whether it's coronavirus spreading or Hulk Hogan's racism, I can't personally say.
Lee and McIntyre have a match. It's pretty good match, so I guess those remedial wrestling classes Vince McMahon sent Keith Lee to paid off. Not enough for him to win though. McIntyre pins him after a Claymore.
Winner: Drew McIntyre
McIntyre grabs a mic and gets ready to cut a promo when Goldberg's music plays. Goldberg heads to the ring and Drew hands the mic to him. Goldberg says he was in the back and he was thinking about how good a representative Drew McIntyre is as WWE Champion. He has size and athleticism, but the one thing he "don't got" is respect. He says he heard what McIntyre said, but when he looks these legends, he looks at them as past their prime and sees himself as better than them even in their prime. Wait, what? Drew didn't say anything to the legends at all? Holy crap, the match went long, they cut Drew's promo, and Goldberg just came out and read his scripted lines anyway because he's a moron and incapable of improvising! Hahahaha!
McIntyre denies he said that stuff (which he didn't say). He says Goldberg can't beat him though. Fighting Goldberg would be like fighting his own dad (sick burn). Goldberg shoves him and Raw cuts off the air. Damn, USA, you couldn't have thrown them an extra 30 seconds there?
Final Thoughts on WWE Raw
Wow, Raw was already pretty bad tonight, but that botched ending really put it over the top. Here's the thing: I get, from a cynical perspective, that the purpose of Raw Legends Night is to spike ratings after WWE had their lowest-rated episode ever just two weeks ago, but at the very least, the point of something like that is the joy of seeing these old legends on the screen. But do you know what isn't joyful? Watching Big Show, Mark Henry, and Ric Flair get bullied by Randy Orton backstage with Orton getting no comeuppance from it, since he simply went on to beat Jeff Hardy with no interference.
Here's what would be awesome: if while all these legends are here, WWE is filming scenes with them for the Firefly Funhouse they're rumored to be having between Orton and Wyatt at the Royal Rumble. If WWE does that, then I'll have to apologize for doubting them, though let's be fair here, I have been watching their product for nearly forty years now so my lack of faith in them to put that kind of effort into their storytelling isn't my fault. It's theirs.
And then there's Goldberg. He wasn't good even when he was in his prime. Now he's not only dangerous and sloppy, but he's old and weak besides. A match between Goldberg either lasts about 30 seconds, or it ends with at least one of them getting injured. And theres's a very real possibility Goldberg walks out of the Rumble with the WWE Championship and goes on to fight Roman Reigns at WrestleMania. That's the nightmare we're facing down. 2021 could actually be worse than 2020, people. Think about that.
Okay, so Raw sucked. But the week gets better from here. Tonight: Impact. Tomorrow: my Impact report. See you then.