When Drew McIntyre was forced to leave his main WWE Raw event with Randy Orton following McIntyre’s COVID-19 diagnosis, it left WWE with the need to scramble to fill the void. Needing the power of a star, WWE searched the Bag of Legends that culminated in Triple H’s first match since June 2019.
Triple H faced off against Orton in the main event of the night, although the match was interrupted by the involvement of Alexa Bliss, still seeking revenge for Orton after setting “The Fiend” Bray on fire. Wyatt at TLC. After setting Triple H’s hammer on fire, followed by Triple H’s disappearance, Bliss ended the night by shooting a fireball into Orton’s eyes. It was yet another odd wrinkle in one of the most unique stories in recent WWE history. Now, once again, fans will have to wait a week for the fire-related fallout.
Triple H comes back, Orton hit with a fireball
Triple H was ready to open the show with an in-ring promo when he was interrupted by Orton, who pointed out that “the office” had shown up because Drew McIntyre was out with COVID. Orton asked if Triple H was there to advertise Orton as No.30 in the Royal Rumble or just hand him the WWE Championship. Triple H asked if, after all these years, they were now at the point of implied threats before saying Orton had impressed him when he set The Fiend on fire. It was, Triple H said, the exact thing he would have done in Orton’s place. He did not, however, support Orton’s disrespectful legends, especially Ric Flair. As tensions mounted, Orton challenged Triple H not to a match but to a fight instead. Triple H said no because there was no benefit to him. Orton asked if Triple H was “unable to get his balls back” from Stephanie McMahon’s purse, which led to Triple H knocking him out of the ring. Later in the series, Triple H officially accepted the challenge.
Triple H vs. Randy Orton ended in a no-contest after Alexa Bliss throws a fireball into Orton’s eyes. Triple H hit Orton with his right hand early in the match, knocking him out of the ring. The two brawled until they got to ringside where Triple H sent Orton down the steps of the ring. Orton used a thumb in his eye but was thrown onto the announcement table. After bloodying Orton, Triple H grabbed his hammer and was walking towards the ring when the lights started to go out in the arena. Triple H’s hammer was suddenly on fire and the lights went out completely, returning to reveal that Triple H was missing. A distorted version of the Firefly Fun House song played before Alexa Bliss was revealed to be standing behind Orton. Bliss then shot a fireball at Orton’s face and Orton stumbled in pain, clinging to his eyes as the show ceased.
Almost everything about Orton, Bliss and Bray Wyatt is a matter of personal taste. For some, it’s just too cheesy to watch a mannequin light up and Alexa Bliss shoot fireballs. For others, it achieves an acceptable level of entertainment. There’s no real middle ground with an angle like this. The little we got from Triple H against Orton was a lot of fun, but it’s hard not to feel a little bit disappointed every time there’s a three hour build for a game that doesn’t fully happen, especially something like a Triple H return to the ring. That said, the fireball is a bit of a classic wrestling shenanigans, so it does get a slight bump. Category B-
What Else Happened on WWE Raw?
- Drew McIntyre spoke in a brief video, addressing her diagnosis of COVID-19. He said he had no symptoms and urged everyone to take the virus seriously and take the appropriate steps to prevent its spread.
- Lacey Evans a vaincu. Charlotte Flair via pinfall after the intervention of Ric Flair. Ahead of the game, Flair explained that his father was at home and that there were no lingering issues as it accidentally cost him a game last week. Ric Flair’s music then hit during the match and he strutted to the ring. Ric openly helped Evans, putting his foot on the ropes, then tripping Charlotte to help Evans score the pin. Ric and Lacey hugged and left the ring together after the match.
- Jaxson Ryker bat. Jeff Hardy via pinfall with a school pin. Elias claimed his thumb was injured and couldn’t compete, then distracted Hardy to allow Ryker to score a very quick pin.
- Jeff Hardy a vaincu. Elias via pinfall after a Swanton bomb. Hardy called on Elias to fight him, saying he knew Elias didn’t want the world to think Ryker was better than him. Elias agreed and winked at Ryker not to intervene. Hardy won the match clear, after which a confused Ryker told Elias that Elias had said not to help him.
- Sheamus et Keith Lee battent. The Miz & John Morrison via pinfall after Sheamus hits Morrison with a Brogue Kick. The match took place after a behind-the-scenes challenge from Sheamus and Lee. During the match, Lee threw Morrison into the corner, knocking the top rope off when the turnbuckle “snapped.” Sheamus used a blind beacon to tag each other and steal his team’s victory, but Lee and Sheamus hugged and celebrated the victory together.
- Keith Lee a vaincu. Sheamus via pinfall after a spiritual bomb. The show returned from publicity and the two were now competing in singles. After a hard-hitting match, Lee scored the pin and delivered a punch. Sheamus pushed his hand away and the two exchanged a hug.
- Drew McIntyre answered Goldberg’s challenge. McIntyre said Goldberg was one of his heroes, but he was disappointed with the legend that put words in his mouth. McIntyre said out of respect that he didn’t want to respect the challenge of a man 20 years older than himself. But after Goldberg put a hand to him, his mind changed, which ultimately led him to accept the challenge.
- T-Bar déf. Xavier Woods via pinfall with Open Your Eyes. Woods didn’t have Kofi Kingston with him, and Retribution’s distraction helped T-Bar score the win.
- United States Championship – Bobby Lashley (c) a vaincu. Matt Riddle via soumission with the Hurt Lock to keep the title. Lashley attacked before the bell, gaining an early advantage and never really looking back before scoring a submission win easy enough for revenge after losing to Riddle last week. After the game, Riddle said he couldn’t beat Lashley, but he could definitely beat MVP.
- Riddle def. MVP par disqualification after interference from Bobby Lashley. MVP struggled in formal attire, but Lashley stepped in as soon as Riddle launched his attack. Lashley and MVP continued to attack after the bell.
- AJ Styles déf. Drew Gulak via pinfall after a phenomenal forearm. Styles was talking to Adam Pearce about Pearce’s upcoming match with Roman Reigns at the Royal Rumble when Gulak interrupted to declare himself for the Royal Rumble match. Pearce told him that with just 15 spots for Raw, Gulak should earn his spot, leading the game. Gulak was competitive but failed in the end.
- Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler fight. Mandy Rose & Dana Brooke via submission when Baszler locked Rose in the Kirifuda pouch. Ahead of the game, Rose and Brooke declared themselves for the Royal Rumble – not facing any of the pushbacks given to Gulak. Jax and Baszler won with relative ease, although Jax seemed embarrassed that Baszler didn’t accompany her to the finish.