With WWE Champion Drew McIntyre out of action with COVID-19 and the Royal Rumble less than three weeks away, Triple H returns to Monday Night Raw to save WWE in its hour of need.
WWE Raw Recap for January 11th, 2020
Promo: Triple H
Raw starts with a recap of Randy Orton bullying legends last week and then Old Man Helmsley heads to the ring. WWE pumps in extremely loud Triple H cheers. These Thunderdome kids don't know what they're getting into. Twenty years ago, if Triple H opened Raw with a promo, you could expect about 45 minutes of narcissistic-ah rambling-ah. Randy Orton isn't in the mood for that so he interrupts right away. Orton breaks kayfabe and says Triple H is only here because Drew McIntyre caught the 'rona. Orton says Triple H should award Randy the WWE Championship. Triple H says Orton will have to win the Rumble for that. Orton tries to intimidate him.
Now he made Triple H mad so Triple H goes full McMahon Helmsley Era promo mode. In about 10,000 words, he explains he's proud of Randy for burning The Fiend alive, doing whatever it takes to get the WWE Championship. But he isn't proud of what Orton has been doing to legends, especially Triple H's wrestledad, Ric Flair. He calls Orton "nothing but a no-good prick."
Orton says he's at his peak right now (eh… five years past) and he wants to know if Triple H has still got it. He challenges the old man to a fight tonight. Triple H says there's nothing in it for him and starts to leave. Orton says Triple H's balls are in Stephanie's purse. Triple H decks him. Orton smiles. Looks like someone is tearing a pec tonight. Though commentary points out that Triple H hasn't officially accepted yet, so maybe there's a swerve coming.
Charlotte Flair vs. Lacey Evans
Charlotte Flair cuts a promo backstage with Sarah Schreiber, calling Lacey Evans classless for hitting on her dad last week. Charlotte says that she patched things up with Ric after elder abusing him last week. Charlotte heads to the ring. Now Sarah talks to Lacey, who says that Ric Flair wanted her to flirt with him and Lacey is totally into Ric. She dedicates her match to him and blows him a kiss. Alright then. Not gonna kink shame here in The Shovel. Lacey heads to the ring.
Raw takes a commercial break, and then Drew McIntyre cuts a promo (via video) about having the coronavirus. He urges people to follow social distancing guidelines and wear a mask and promises to see us soon. Then Lacey and Charlotte have a match. A few minutes in, Ric Flair comes out. Wow, does viagra kick in that quickly? After a while, Charlotte has LAcey beat but Ric pulls Lacey's leg onto the rope. "For this hooker?" Charlotte asks. Charlotte dodges a Women's Right but Ric trips her again and then holds Charlotte's leg so Lacey can get the pin.
Winner: Lacey Evans
Lacey cavorts with Ric after the match. After the match, she and Ric leave for a hotel.
Charly Caruso interviews Keith Lee backstage, but Sheamus interrupts right away. He says Lee earned Drew McIntyre's respect and Sheamus's respect too after his match last week. Miz and Morrison interrupt to insult Lee and Sheamus and set up a match for tonight. It goes on longer than it needs to.
Jeff Hardy vs. Jaxson Ryker
Elias comes out and tells Jeff Hardy he has to fight Jaxson Ryker this week, and he has to do it quick because the FBI is looking for him for storming the Capitol last week. Ryker says he'll do whatever it takes to prove his allegiance to Elias because his previous cult leader got banned from Twitter. They have a match and Ryker rolls up Hardy for the win faster than Parler got nuked from the internet.
Winner: Jaxson Ryker
But that was just some bullshit to set up a commercial break because…
Jeff Hardy vs. Elias
Hardy goads Elias into a match by saying Ryker is better than him because Ryker beat Hardy and Elias can't. After some commercials, Hardy and Elias fight. Hardy wins with the Swanton Bomb.
Winner: Jeff Hardy
Guess Hardy was right. Ryker is better than Elias.
Keith Lee and Sheamus vs. The Miz and John Morrison
Keith Lee and Sheamus team up to take on Miz and Morrison in a match whose purpose is to kill a shitload of time. It succeeds.
Winners: Keith Lee and Sheamus
These guys are friends now.
Sarah Schrieber interviews Triple H, looking for an answer to Randy Orton's challenge. Triple H says he came here as a businessman, not to fight. Triple H cuts a pretty great promo about Orton not respecting legends and Triple H kicking his ass on behalf of every legend ever, which will prove once and for all that Triple H is the greatest of all legends. He was #3 back in the Attitude Era, dammit! Well, a distant #3. And he was tied with Foley and Taker and maybe Kane. Bottom line is he accepts Orton's challenge.
Keith Lee vs. Sheamus
I guess enough time wasn't killed earlier because now Keith Lee and Sheamus have a one-on-one match. This one is better though because it doesn't feature Miz or Morrison. But that's a low bar. Lee wins with the Spirit Bomb.
Winner: Keith Lee
Lee wants a fist bump after the match, but Sheamus shoves his fist out of the way. He hugs him instead. Awwwww!
Now we see a video of Goldberg Challenging Drew McIntyre from last week. Good lord, that garbage promo is going to have to essentially carry this feud for the next three weeks. Oh, actually, Drew McIntyre is gonna respond via Skype tonight. Can you get COVID through your TV? I better put a mask on just in case.
Promo: Drew McIntyre
We see another recap of last week, this one longer than the last one. It does its best to edit Goldberg's promo to make it sound less stupid, but you can only polish a turd so much. Drew McIntyre, via Skype, cuts a promo on Goldberg. During the promo, McIntyre admits he was watching WCW back during Goldberg's day. Backstage, Vince is like, "That son of a bitch…" Expect McIntyre to drop the title at the Rumble now. McIntyre accepts the challenge.
"Riddle" is backstage getting hyped for his match tonight by talking about pizza with Lucha House Party. He explains the feeling of taking a bite of a nice slice of pizza with lots of cheese. Lince Dorado says he understands because it's like discovering that your fursona has been trapped inside a human body all this time and you can live your furry life the way you want. "Riddle" agrees that sounds freeing.
Xavier Woods vs. T-Bar
Xavier Woods heads to the ring. Retribution follow. Xavier Woods wrestles T-Bar. Yes, on free television. Woods jobs out to T-Bar's finisher, Eyes Wide Shut (ew).
Sarah Schrieber talks to Randy Orton to get his reaction to Triple H reacting to Randy Orton challenging him earlier tonight on Raw. Man, this whole show has been Triple H and Randy Orton. A lot more people must have COVID than just McIntyre.
"Riddle" vs. Bobby Lashley
"Riddle" makes his way to the ring for a non-title match with Bobby Lashley. Lashley heads out with MVP. Lashley makes quick work of "Riddle" and makes him tap to the Hurt Lock.
Winner: Bobby Lashley
"Riddle" vs. MVP
Riddle, with a bloody lip, challenges MVP to a match now. This is the third match tonight to lead directly into another match with the same people involved. MVP looks like a stepdad beating up his slacker son in this match. It's not long before Lashley interferes though.
Winner: Riddle (by DQ)
Lashley and MVP destroy Riddle some more after the match.
Drew Gulak vs. AJ Styles
AJ Styles talks Adam Pearce's ear off backstage when Drew McIntyre interrupts to declare he's entering the Royal Rumble. Pearce says there's a limit on the number of people who can be in the Rumble and Drew can't just enter himself. Drew says AJ Styles did that. AJ says he can do that because he's actually a star (which is true). Pearce says Gulak can get in the Rumble if he can beat AJ in a match right now on Raw.
Spoiler alert: Drew Gulak will not be entering the Royal Rumble match.
Winner: AJ Styles
We get a video package explaining who Goldberg is. God damn, half the roster must be out with COVID. Keith Lee talks to Triple H backstage. Lee says he can have Triple H's back tonight and take over the match with Randy Orton. Triple H says he's got this.
Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler vs. Mandy Rose and Dana Brooke
Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler come to the ring. Mandy Rose and Dana Brooke declare they're entering the Royal Rumble and then also head to the ring. A match ensues. You know what, normally I would make fun of Nia's wrestling skills here but this match isn't bad. These four have a decent act going. Too bad they're the only two women's tag teams on Raw. Mandy taps out to the Kirafuda clutch.
Winner: Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler
Triple H vs. Randy Orton
Triple H comes to the ring with 10 minutes left on Raw, which isn't even long enough for his entrance normally. Both he and Orton manage to get their entrances done in five minutes, leaving five minutes for the "fight," which is basically just a normal wrestling brawl with no ref. Triple H goes for the sledgehammer within two minutes. But before he can use it, the lights start to go down. Triple H lights the sledgehammer on fire, but when the lights go fully out, the fire (and Triple H) disappear.
The ring is lit in dim purple and Alexa Bliss is standing behind Orton. Alexa throws a fireball in Orton's face. Orton sells it like he's been blinded forever. Raw goes off the air with Orton's ridiculous selling.
The Triple H vs. Randy Orton stuff and the Sheamus/Keith Lee stuff took up more than half of Raw on their own tonight, and most of the other matches were doubled up, so clearly WWE was struggling to fill a lot of time. Yes, even worse than normal. Way worse. Rumor going around before Raw was that McIntyre was just the first of a new outbreak in the wrestling industry, across multiple companies. So who didn't we see tonight? Despite the extra slow pace, Raw was alright tonight.