Goldberg is back.
Yes, it’s time for a major PPV with the Royal Rumble in three weeks and again we have a returning superstar from the past trying to worm his way into the main event. Goldberg returning on Legends Night, making the challenge for Drew McIntyre’s WWE Championship makes little sense, as we’ll explain in our RAW recap later. Regardless of the storyline, the match on its face doesn’t make me want to invest in it. McIntyre’s been an awesome champion carrying the RAW brand week-in and week-out. Why on Earth would anyone believe that Goldberg, who hasn’t wrestled since losing to Braun Strowman at WrestleMania 36 in April of 2020, should be able to beat a guy on top of the chain who’s been out there wrestling on a consistent basis? Besides, didn’t Goldberg already call out Roman Reigns at the end of 2020 or are we just supposed to forget about that? And speaking of forgetting, why exactly do we get McIntyre going up against Randy Orton again this Monday night out of the blue? Is there something I’ve missed there? Having your top champion wrestle every week waters down how the effectiveness of the championship and the wrestler. It should be a big deal when the WWE Champion wrestles on the show, not just more of the same old thing. I’m not saying it should be months in between appearances like back in the days of Bob Backlund and Hulk Hogan, but every Monday night for a month is a bit much.
Either way, that bit of business was the oddest thing to go down in what was a pretty eventful and productive week around the WWE.
Star of the Week
Finn Balor – Back from a broken jaw, The Prince delivers a main-event victory over Kyle O’Reilly to retain the NXT Championship, returning the jaw injury to his foe in the process. These two have put on back-to-back dynamite matches and here’s one who’s hoping there’s a third one to add to the trilogy down the road. He’ll need to stay on top of his came because here comes Karrion Kross and Scarlett back to take what they think is rightfully theirs.
- The New Day defeated The Miz & John Morrison
- AJ Styles defeated Elias
- Non-Title WWE Women’s Championship Match: Lacey Evans & Peyton Royce defeated Charlotte Flair & Asuka
- Non-Title United States Championship Match: Riddle defeated Bobby Lashley
- Dana Brooke defeated Shayna Baszler
- Randy Orton defeated Jeff Hardy
- Non-Title RAW Tag Team Championship Match: Lucha House Party defeated The Hurt Business
- WWE Championship Match: Drew McIntyre defeated Keith Lee to retain title
Someone’s got upset fever in the WWE. Not one, not two, not three, but four upsets on the night. Amazingly enough too, they all made perfect sense!
Charlotte Flair getting pinned by Lacey Evans after Papa Ric Flair takes his flirting with Evans to a nasty level and “inadvertently” trips his own daughter was a nice swerve. Maybe this wakes up Flair and turns her against Asuka and the true Queen persona returns after a few weeks of being nice.
Riddle over Lashley after seemingly tapping out makes him a US Title contender. That’s a good thing. He’s earned it.
Dana Brooke over Shayna Baszler. I’m good with that for a week. Brooke and Mandy Rose have been beat up so many times the past month, they deserve some positivity.
Lucha House Party wins again! Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin are at odds. It’s a nice mix as we lead to the eventual Four Horseman-esque dumping of Alexander I think it’s coming post-Royal Rumble.
Kudos to Keith Lee and Drew McIntyre! Those two put on quite a show as McIntyre defended his WWE Championship. Lee continues to keep himself in the main event mix with another quality showing.
Now, to the elephant in the room. Goldberg. The whole premise of him coming down to berate McIntyre for tearing the legends down when he’s done nothing of the sort. He’s been as respectful as the day is long. I don’t think for a second that Goldberg will, or should be on McIntyre’s level. Here’s hoping Drew puts his “Dad” in his proper place. Plus, not for nothing, but what a shoddy way to end the night by dumping out at the end of RAW to see Modern Family on the USA Network before we see McIntyre pop right back up from the Goldberg push down that we saw later on social media. Sloppy TV production right there from the WWE who is usually really good at that part of the biz.
Speaking of the legends, outside of the ridiculous H-Phone with Hulk Hogan to start the night, I thought it was pretty well done. Nothing crazy. Nothing hugely surprising. But they played the hits. Loved The Boogeyman being a shock to Angel Garza. Melina with the Lucha House Party was a nice touch. It’s too bad Mick Foley has to miss the night due to a COVID-19 positive test. Prayers out to Mick and the Foley family.
Otherwise, Jeff Hardy is one good sport for letting Randy Orton continue to stretch out his ears to no end. The New Day vs. The Miz and John Morrison was pretty good to kick-start the night. I’m expecting The Miz to turn on his buddy anytime now and blame him for the losses.
- Karrion Kross defeated Damien Priest
- NXT Cruiserweight Championship Match: Santos Escobar defeated Gran Metalik
- Last Woman Standing Match: Raquel Gonzalez defeated Rhea Ripley
- Shotzi Blackheart & KUSHIDA defeated Candice LeRae & Johnny Gargano
- NXT Championship Match: Finn Balor defeated Kyle O’Reilly
New Year’s Evil was a home run folks!
I’ll admit, Karrion Kross and Damien Priest was a little bit of a disappointment for me because I had such high expectations for it. It did what it needed to do though as Kross keeps his title aspirations alive to get back his NXT Championship from Finn Balor.
Santos Escobar continues to dazzle as the highlight of the cruiserweight division. While many can compete, there are few who can or will take him down. Gran Metalik tried but came up short.
Raquel Gonzalez and Rhea Ripley was a downright epic war. These two took their Last Woman Standing match all over the WWE Performance Center and even took it to another level with Ripley locking Dakota Kai in a locker to prevent further involvement. Gonzalez’ chokeslam of Ripley through the stage was impressive. I’ll have to say, I wonder where Ripley goes next as she hasn’t won “the big one” in almost a year since dropping the NXT Championship to Charlotte Flair at WrestleMania 36. Gonzalez stardom continues to rise and now joins Mercedes Martinez and Toni Storm at the top of the charts to take down NXT Women’s Champion Io Shirai.
Badass thy name is Xia Li. For the first time since their banishment, Li and Boa are back live and Xia showed she’s for real. She looks the part and has all the feels of a faction led by ???? We’ll continue to guess.
Shotzi Blackheart & KUSHIDA is an interesting combo to take on The Gargano Way duo of Johnny Gargano and Candice LeRae. It was fun!
Finn Balor vs. Kyle O’Reilly II. Holy smokes! This was high drama to say the least. It was touch-and-go right until the end. Having Balor take aim at KOR’s jaw seemed right. Balor with a little color the hard-way proved how tough his one was. I like that they didn’t get lazy and make a Kross run-in mar the finish either. It let these two have the stage they so richly deserved.
Finally, I love that the women of NXT are getting a Dusty Rhodes Classic of their own. The NXT women’s division is top notch and there’s plenty of match-ups that could be made. Just like the men though, I hope they bring in some other indie teams to spice it up too.
- Intercontinental Championship Match: Big E defeated Apollo Crews
- SmackDown Tag Team Championship Match: Robert Roode & Dolph Ziggler defeated The Street Profits to win the titles
- Gauntlet Match – Rey Mysterio defeated Sami Zayn; Shinsuke Nakamura defeated Mysterio; Nakamura defeated King Corbin; Nakamura defeated Daniel Bryan; Adam Pearce defeated Nakamura to win a title shot against Roman Reigns at Royal Rumble
It was all about the titles this week on SmackDown. First up, Big E defended his Intercontinental Championship for the first time against his friend, Apollo Crews. But, after Crews thought he pinned Big E yet instead the referee called for a double pin and a draw, Crews wasn’t so friendly. One slap later and a decent back-and-forth restart of a match, Big E retained his title. Nice job by Big E turning things serious when he needed to get the victory.
We have new tag team champions as Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode take advantage of Montez Ford’s injured left knee to take home the gold. Good to see the vets rewarded with a tactical win. Let’s hope they keep it for a bit and it’s not just a quick respite for the TSP.
The second hour of SmackDown was devoted mostly to the Gauntlet Match to decide who will face Roman Reigns for the Universal Championship at the Royal Rumble. As they foreshadowed in the opening segment, Paul Heyman got WWE official Adam Pearce put into the match as a bit of payback for making the Tribal Chief look stupid for his latest actions. And the rest, as we always say, is history.
As for the match itself, I didn’t like Sami Zayn being eliminated by Rey Mysterio in about a minute. He deserves better. Nakamura, who’s really been an afterthought on the singles front for months, looked good with victories against Mysterio and Corbin. Against Daniel Bryan, Nakamura looked even better as those two are magical together in the ring. Beautiful sign of respect afterwards as well. Unfortunately for Shinsuke, the expected happened as Reigns and Jey Uso beat up Nakamura before Pearce entered the ring as the final contestant of the Gauntlet Match. Reigns showed it’s HIS show, as Uso superkicks Pearce before dragging his body over Nakamura to get the win. Predictable? 100%! Good for the storyline. Absolutely.
Finally, what’s the deal with Sonya Deville? At least they addressed her loss in the loser leaves WWE match with Mandy Rose to end 2020. But they didn’t really quite explain what her role will be in aiding Pearce. Will it be taking over now that Pearce is back in the ring? I really wish Michael Cole and Corey Graves would give a little background on Pearce. He was a former 5-time NWA Champion. If Paul Heyman could slip in a Scrap Daddy WCW line, why not give us a little context. I get that the WWE doesn’t think anything exists outside the WWE Universe, but in this day of social media, it helps the story get over with some needed details. They’ve never explained who Pearce is other than just another backstage guy. Major mistake on their part.
Could Jay White be coming to the WWE? Rumors abound that he could be leaving New Japan Wrestling after his loss at Wrestle Kingdom. It seems like White liked this tweet from our star of the week Finn Balor after his NXT Championship match this week with Kyle O’Reilly. Count us in on wanting to see that one!
Coming up this week:
Drew McIntyre vs. Randy Orton
Goldberg’s Challenge addressed
Dusty Rhodes Classic begins
Thanks for letting us share our thoughts! Shoot me an email at email@example.com. We’d love to hear your comments and suggestions! You can also check out my blog, The Crowe’s Nest as we delve into more pro wrestling, sports entertainment and the World of Sports. My apologies ahead of time – I AM a Patriots, Red Sox, Celtics and Bruins fan! If you’re not down with that, I’ve got TWO WORDS for you… NEW ENGLAND