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Mitchell’s NJPW Report: AXS TV New Beginnings in Sapporo Part 1!

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NJPW New Beginning in Sapporo Graphic

This review of NJPW: New Beginnings in Sapporo Part 1 will be as broadcasted by AXS TV.
Therefore, all images are courtesy of AXS TV.

 

OFFICIAL RESULTS

  • From January 27th, 2018- Six Man Tag: The Bullet Club’s Elite VS Chaos’ Jay White & Roppongi 3K; The Elite wins.
  • IWGP Intercontinental Championship: Hiroshi Tanahashi VS Minoru Suzuki; Suzuki wins and becomes the new IWGP Intercontinental Champion.

PLAY BY PLAY

AXS TV and NJPW take a look at what led to this intense match-up!

The Once in a Century Talent was victorious through four IWGP Intercontinental Championship defenses, but is badly battered. Meanwhile, the Man with the Worst Personality lost his NEVER Openweight Championship to Hirooki Goto, and even sacrificed his hair. However, it was at New Years Dash that Suzuki chose to strike the weakened Tanahashi, with Suzuki-Gun by his side.

The Meanest Man in the World clearly wants the IWGP IC Championship, and is willing to completely dismantle The Ace of NJPW to do it. Can Tanahashi hope to survive the wrath of THE Minoru Suzuki!?

 

From January 27th, 2018 – Six Man Tag: The Bullet Club’s Elite VS Chaos’ Jay White & Roppongi 3K!

We join this match in progress as Matt Jackson of the Young Bucks breaks free of Sho’s waistlock. Matt leaps and tags in The Cleaner, Kenny Omega! Omega runs in but Sho gets him with a German Suplex! Sho holds on, but Kenny gets the standing switch and snap dragon suplex! Then Yo comes in, he gets a snap dragon! White runs in, Omega blocks his punch with a kick then grabs him in a full-nelson. White elbows out, swings, but Omega still gets him with the snap dragon!

Omega fires up with the fans as the Bucks return. Sho is alone against them, and turns around into a TRIPLE SUPERKICK! Cover, but White breaks it up. Yo returns but Nick Jackson is upon him. He throws Yo out while Matt throws White out. Nick climbs up quick and somersault splashes to wipe them both out. The Elite regroups with Sho in position. Matt puffs, puts it out and lifts Sho, Omega and Nick are there for the buckle bomb kick combo! Tag to Nick, and Matt brings Sho back up. Matt drapes Sho on the ropes while Nick climbs up. Nick hits the draping swanton bomb! Cover, TWO! The fans applaud while The Elite are frustrated.

Nick waits for Sho to stand up, but Sho blocks the superkick. He spins Nick around, German Suplex but Nick lands on his feet. Nick gets the takedown, then the “Cease” Sharpshooter! Sho endures but drags himself towards ropes. Matt and Omega keep White and Yo back, respectively, while Nick drags Sho away from ropes. White pushes Matt away then kicks Nick to end the hold. Omega returns, lunges in but White avoids V-Trigger to respond with a stiff forearm smash. Matt returns to SPEAR White! Yo returns, but Matt rallies on him and Sho.

He runs but RPG3K take him down with double knees. Nick returns, but Sho catches him into a backstabber, that feeds him into Yo’s shotgun knees! The fans fire up for RPG3K, Sho pops Nick up for Yo, but Nick counters with a tornado DDT!

Omega returns to V-Trigger Sho! Nick officially tags Omega in, and Omega rallies the fans. He fires up and says, “BANG!” for Sho. Omega runs and hits an even bigger V-Trigger!

That’s not all, he brings Sho up and onto his shoulders. Omega wants One Winged Angel but White returns! Sho slips down and feeds Omega into Switchblade position, but the Bucks double SUPERKICK White from behind!

Yo returns, he turns Nick’s kick into Matt, then dragon screws Nick. Omega gets up and rocks Yo with a forearm. Yo yo-yos back in to SUPERKICK Omega! But then Yo takes double SUPERKICKS from the Bucks! Nick feeds Yo into Matt’s tombstone piledriver position, and Omega helps pop Nick up for the Indietaker!

Cover, The Elite wins!

Winners: The Elite (Kenny Omega & The Young Bucks)

Omega and The Bucks all win together, but will be facing White and RPG3K separately later in the Sapporo event, all defending their IWGP championships. Will Omega defeat Chaos’ Switchblade 1v1? Will the Young Bucks throw a Superkick Party against the duo formerly known as the Tempura Boyz?

But wait! White attacks from behind!

He gets Omega with the Switchblade driver! White gets away clean, having once again gotten the drop on the IWGP United States Champion. Will he do it again to The Cleaner when the title is on the line?

 

Jay White regroups with Chaos backstage.

“Forgive me if I’m a little off at the moment.” Chaos has started a war with Bullet Club, but White promises to “bring all new kinds of chaos to New Japan.” He hopes they’ll be with him. He wants them to think about this: Yes, Okada leads Chaos now, but he’s holding Chaos back. Has Sho gotten a chance against Will Ospreay? Yes, the team of RPG3K wants tag team titles, but even Yo could challenge for Ospreay’s championship.

Rocky Romero points out Chaos doesn’t work like that, but White says it’s not about breaking Chaos apart, it’s about everyone doing their best to be the best. That way, NJPW can take over the world. Omega wants to change the world, but Bullet Club aren’t the ones to do it. Chaos will. White will. He will do Omega’s work for him, whether or not he has someone backing him. “I am the Switchblade, and everyone will breath with the Switchblade.” White’s newfound edge is making him a bit scary, but can that be exactly what he needs to change the wrestling world?

 

IWGP Intercontinental Championship: Hiroshi Tanahashi VS Minoru Suzuki!

Suziki makes his entrance.

The time has come! Accompanied by Suzuki-Gun, the Man with the Worst Personality in the World wants to make up for losing the NEVER Openweight Championship by taking away the Ace’s. How far will the ruthless Suzuki go to hold gold again?

The “Ace” of New Japan heads to the ring.

As is customary, the challenger is shown the belt he fights for before it is put aside.

With that, the formal introductions finish, and the match begins. The fans already chant as the two circle. Suzuki and Tanahashi feel each other out as they tie up. Tanahashi powers Suzuki back to the ropes, then gives him a clean break. He and Suzuki tie up again, and Tanahashi gets the wristlock. Suzuki reverses into his own wristlock, then the hammerlock. Tanahashi drop toeholds and floats to a headlock then facelock. Suzuki powers his way up and puts Tanahashi against the ropes. This break is tense, but clean. They circle again, and Suzuki lunges in for the waistlock. Tanahashi gets the standing switch, but Suzuki counters into the wristlock. Suzuki brings Tanahashi to a knee, but Tanahashi gets back up to his feet to roll and takedown Suzuki. Tanahashi holds onto that foot, then drops into a leglock, but Suzuki counters with a leglock!

Suzuki has the Achilles hold but Tanahashi drags himself to ropes. Tanahashi gets the ropebreak, but Suzuki doesn’t let go! He drags Tanahashi back to the center of the ring and drops down again. Tanahashi stands up and gets his toehold back on, then transitions into a seated knee wrench. Suzuki endures the bending while trying to grab Tanahashi. Tanahashi bends the leg more, but Suzuki starts to power his way out. With that, Tanahashi stands up and goes after the hamstring with stomps and knees. He drops an elbow and puts the toehold on again. Suzuki responds by grabbing Tanahashi’s hair and pulling back.


He seems to be talking trash in order to intimidate Tanahashi, but Tanahashi doesn’t give in. Instead, he continues to wrench and bend Suzuki’s leg. Suzuki gets frustrated, but Tanahashi keeps on his knee by grinding in his own, then stomping the joint. Tanahashi stomps and stomps, but Suzuki just laughs, egging him on. Tanahashi grabs both legs and knots them, but Suzuki resists. Even so, Tanahashi gets a standing Deathlock!

Suzuki endures as Tanahashi bends and pulls the legs. When it is clear this won’t make Suzuki quit, Tanahashi lets the hold go and stomps the thigh. Tanahashi walks around and brings Suzuki up, but Suzuki hits back with body shots. Tanahashi hits back, then puts on a headlock. Suzuki works to bring Tanahashi down to a knee, and then gets a headlock of his own. Tanahashi powers out but Suzuki grabs his hair! Suzuki uses the hair to bring Tanahashi into a headbutt. Suzuki whips Tanahashi but Tanahashi reverses. Tanahashi sees Suzuki hold onto the ropes, so he rushes in, only to be caught into Suzuki’s hanging triangle!


The referee, “Red Shoes”, counts Suzuki, and he lets go at 4. He grabs Tanahashi’s leg, but Tanahashi fights him off. Suzuki hits barriers, and the champion catches his breath, while we go to break.

NJPW on AXS returns, and Suzuki stands up to drag Tanahashi out of the ring after all. He whips Tanahashi into the guard rails, rocking the barriers. Suzuki opens the gate to go around and confiscate a chair! He heads back to Tanahashi and jabs that chair into Tanahashi’s ribs. Suzuki raises that chair high over the crawling Tanahashi, to SMACK him across the back!

Tanahashi writhes while Red Shoes takes that chair away. Suzuki doesn’t care, he just brings Tanahashi up to bump him off the apron. Then he kicks Tanahashi against the barriers like he’s a heavy bag. Tanahashi collapses, and Suzuki returns to the ring to let the 20-count climb. It gets halfway before Tanahashi gets to his feet. Tanahashi beats the count at 12, and the fans applaud his heart. Suzuki, however, toys with The Ace, even kicking him while he’s down. The fans rally for Tanahashi as he takes more kicks, and Tanahashi responds with right hand palm strikes. Suzuki responds with his own overhand chop, then waits for Tanahashi to chop back. Suzuki swiftly chops three times, then catches Tanahashi’s counter into a Fujiwara armbar! He bends Tanahashi’s arm back but Tanahashi endures.

Tanahashi crawls around and gets a ropebreak with his foot. However, Suzuki continues to bend the arm! Suzuki lets go at the referee’s count, but comes back to kick and stomp Tanahashi. He wrenches that arm, then kicks it, letting Tanahashi feel that pain. He kicks Tanahashi again, and Tanahashi falls back against ropes. Suzuki kicks again, Tanahashi fires up and dares him to do it again. Suzuki obliges, kicking and kicking and kicking. Tanahashi fires off forearms in return, but then Suzuki kicks again.

Suzuki’s next kick is caught, and Tanahashi fires off more forearms, then body shots and a European Uppercut. He whips but Suzuki reverses, Tanahashi knocks Suzuki down with a flying forearm smash! The fans applaud while Suzuki checks his nose. The fans rally as Tanahashi scoop slams Suzuki. He then hops up, and hits a second-rope somersault senton!

Cover, TWO, but Tanahashi is not deterred. He gets back up and brings Suzuki to his feet. Suzuki fights back with body shots and knees, but so does Tanahashi. Tanahashi backs Suzuki down into the corner, then whips him corner to corner. Suzuki reverses and runs in for a boot in the corner! Suzuki snapmares Tanahashi and kicks away on that back. He then runs, Penalty Kick CAUGHT. Tanahashi stands up, but Suzuki punches him away. Tanahashi throws in a forearm, but Suzuki comes back with one of his own. They go back and forth with heavy rights, and Tanahashi starts to stagger. He still hits back, but Suzuki doesn’t back down.

They both laugh as they continue to brawl with forearms. Tanahashi starts to fade, but he fires back up to keep going. Suzuki keeps laughing as he and Tanahashi speed up with forearms! Tanahashi swings, misses, but blocks Suzuki’s kick to counter with a dragon screw! Both men are down while the fans applaud, and cheer for Tanahashi. Suzuki clutches his leg, so Tanahashi grabs it for a grounded dragon screw. Tanahashi keeps on that leg, even as Suzuki is on his stomach, and dragon screws the other way. Suzuki rolls away but Tanahashi keeps on him. Tanahashi knots the legs and rolls Suzuki into the Cloverleaf!


Suzuki endures the bend, and drags himself to the ropes for the break. Tanahashi lets go, then stomps on Suzuki. Suzuki eggs him on, so Tanahashi keeps stomping. Tanahashi drags Suzuki up from the outside and then grabs a leg. Suzuki senses what’s coming, and fights Tanahashi with right hands. When Tanahashi refuses to let go, Suzuki grabs handfuls of his hair and headbutts away. That still doesn’t back Tanahashi down, and he hits the dragon screw between the ropes! Suzuki tumbles into the ring, but both men are down. Tanahashi gets up first and gets running, but runs into a powerful dropkick from Suzuki!

The fans applaud as both men go down again. Suzuki stands up first, then drags Tanahashi up and into the sleeper hold! Tanahashi endures and backs Suzuki down, but Suzuki holds on. Tanahashi snapmares Suzuki off but Suzuki comes right back with a stiff knee to the stomach. Suzuki puts on a facelock for the front choke, but Tanahashi slips out and spins around to hit Suzuki with a swinging neckbreaker! He brings Suzuki up for a second swinging neckbreaker! Then a third!

The fans applaud the trifecta, but Tanahashi doesn’t cover here. He calls for something big, gets running, and hits the Slingblade!


The Ace isn’t done there, he climbs up top. He takes aim as Suzuki stands up, and hits the flying crossbody! Still no cover, as Tanahashi’s leg bothers him again. Red Shoes checks on the champ while we go to break.

NJPW on AXS returns, and the fans are rallying while Tanahashi clutches that bad leg. Red Shoes also checks on Suzuki, but both men are okay to continue. Suzuki stands up but falls back while Tanahashi gets himself back to a corner. Tanahashi climbs up, takes aim again, High Fly Flow splash!

But into Suzuki’s knees!


Then Suzuki gets that bad leg into the Kneebar! And then, the full Heel Hook!

Tanahashi endures the torturous combination of holds, but practically tears his hair out. The fans rally for Tanahashi but Suzuki just bends that foot back more. Suzuki goes so far, that foot looks to be facing the wrong way! Tanahashi refuses to give in, and uses Suzuki’s legs to help him roll to ropes.

However, Suzuki drags Tanahashi back the other way, and wrenches that foot ever further! Suzuki shouts for Tanahashi to quit, but instead, Tanahashi slips around and grabs those ropes for the break! Suzuki lets go, but then drags Tanahashi back out, for a Figure Four leglock!


Tanahashi endures this new hold, but won’t give up, even as Suzuki uses his arms for leverage. Suzuki twists the foot as part of the hold, but Tanahashi won’t give up. Tanahashi works to roll, and gets some of the pressure off. The fans rally again but Suzuki rolls it back into his favor. Suzuki wants Tanahashi to give, but Tanahashi refuses. One more extra bridge and wrench, but this still doesn’t make Tanahashi give up.

Tanahashi grits his teeth and pries at the hold itself. Suzuki and Tanahashi talk back and forth, but Suzuki rolls it back the other way. Tanahashi uses that to roll it back in his favor. Sweat drips off Suzuki’s face but he won’t let this beat him, either. They roll again, Tanahashi gets another ropebreak!

Red Shoes helps undo the leglock, and Suzuki dares Tanahashi to get up. The fans continue to cheer for Tanahashi as he slowly gets to his feet. He grits his teeth and brawls with Suzuki, but Suzuki fires off nearly endless strikes, both to body and head. Tanahashi is dazed, and Suzuki puts him back in the sleeper hold! Suzuki squeezes tight, and Tanahashi fades, but then springs back to life. He reaches, but fades again.

Tanahashi fades, and fades, but Suzuki won’t let it end with that. He spins Tanahashi around and puts him into position and puts on the Gotch grip, but Tanahashi resists! Tanahashi uses all his strength to keep that piledriver away, but Suzuki lifts him up! Tanahashi flails and gets back on his feet, then takedown to the Cloverleaf! Suzuki resists the turn, but Tanahashi still gets it back on!


Suzuki endures a submission now, but he drags himself little by little. Tanahashi walks forward to drag Suzuki away, but Suzuki grabs hold and pops out into a small package cradle! TWO, into SLINGBLADE! Cover, TWO!! Tanahashi was so close and he knows it. The fans are thunderous as he brings Suzuki up. He puts on a full-nelson but Suzuki breaks it. Suzuki mule kicks that bad knee! But Tanahashi hits back with a left palm strike. Suzuki staggers back and Tanahashi catches his breath while the fans rally again. He runs at Suzuki and rocks him with a forearm smash at the ropes. He throws more forearms, then fires up to run again. That bad leg slows him down, and Suzuki dropkicks it out! Both men are down while we go to break.

NJPW on AXS is back once again, and Suzuki has the Kneebar-HeelHook again! Tanahashi endures the torture all over again, and his foot is twisted all around again. Tanahashi rolls but that only eases some of the pressure. He reaches and gets the ropebreak! Suzuki lets go again, but he waits for Tanahashi to stand. Red Shoes wants space to check but Suzuki pushes Red Shoes aside to kick away at the bad leg! Suzuki kicks and kicks all around the ring, and doesn’t stop, even after Tanahashi falls to the mat. Suzuki brings Tanahashi back up for palm strikes, then drags Tanahashi into position. He puts the Gotch grip on, and lifts Tanahashi, for the Piledriver!!


But no cover, Suzuki goes for the KNEEBAR HEEL HOOK! He wants it to work this third time! Tanahashi endures, grabbing Red Shoes in desperation. Suzuki wrenches as deep as ever, and the fans are so loud for The Ace. Tanahashi doesn’t want to, hates to, but Suzuki is doing everything he can to get Tanahashi to. Red Shoes asks, Tanahashi shakes his head “NO!” But he can’t even get away as Suzuki has his legs in a Deathlock knot on top of everything else.

The fans rally for Tanahashi once more, and he desperately reaches for ropes. He drags himself around, but Suzuki rolls him away! Suzuki gives it all he has, and Tanahashi holds on with everything he has. The hold is released, only so Suzuki can drag Tanahashi further away from ropes and reapply the Kneebar. Red Shoes pleads with Tanahashi, but when there’s no response, Red Shoes has to call it! Suzuki wins and is the new IWGP Intercontinental Champion!

Winner (new IWGP Intercontinental Champion): Minoru Suziki

He takes the belt that was once Tanahashi’s, and stands over him with it as if to add insult to injury.


Suzuki-Gun joins him in the ring again to celebrate his victory while medics tend to Tanahashi.

Minoru Suzuki speaks.

“Hey, Tanahashi, you asked me to make it exciting, right?” Suzuki takes offense that Tanahashi, “injured all over”, yet thinking he could beat Suzuki. “Even if you performed a miracle by reviving a New Japan on the verge of collapse,” Tanahashi won’t get a second miracle. Suzuki says “Power is the only thing that matters!” He’ll find any excuse to beat you down. Suzuki dares Tanahashi to come back and try again, he’ll “beat your ass once more. You can count on it!” Then Suzuki turns on Sapporo, asking “what the hell are you clapping about?!” Suzuki mocks the “dopes” sitting at ringside. They thought this was a good match, right? But now he has their “precious Intercontinental belt”! And he made sure that “your other treasure, Hiroshi Tanahashi, will never stand in the ring again.” Go ahead and tell everyone how bad it hurts. Suzuki says his knee and ankle joints “made the most delightful sounds a moment ago.” Snap crackle, pop! But that’s right, only those who have “battled in the ring” know that sound. “Idiots who will never set foot in the ring have no right to criticize!” Suzuki-Gun is NUMBER ONE! Cannons fire to rain streamers down on the victorious Suzuki.

Meanwhile, Tanahashi is taken away on a stretcher. After all the damage Tanahashi endured, what is the state of his legs? When will he be able to return to action?

 

Suzuki-Gun has a post-match press conference.

With both his IWGP Intercontinental Championship and Rev-Pro Wrestling Undisputed British Tag Team Championship on the table, Suzuki shakes up and cracks open a beer.

The NJPW belt, THE IWGP IC belt, is now his. And he’s coming after those who “stepped on my head”. “This won’t go the way you think. You’ll see. I’ll show all of you. And remember, Suzuki-Gun is NUMBER ONE! He leads his team in spraying even more beer on the reporters. Suzuki is now the Champion with the Worst Personality in the World. What more sadistic damage and destruction will he and his faction inflict on the rest of NJPW?

 

My Thoughts:

This is my first time covering and even watching a full NJPW program, but I have always been pretty aware of the major players. I was surprised to see even just part of the Six Man Tag from this same night, but even just part was great. The Elite wins to keep themselves established in the trios divisions, but then White drops Omega to keep things even going into their IWGP United States Championship match coming up. White’s press conference promo was great to help us understand his new mindset as “The Switchblade”, as well as his missing. Having covered ROH where he went on “expedition”, I know White is a great talent and could be champion easily. I also had the fortune of seeing Minoru Suzuki when he faced Cody in ROH. Just that one match gave me an idea of how cutthroat Suzuki was, and this match upped that even more. The story told in the ring was incredible on both sides, with Tanahashi fighting through the pain while Suzuki wants to sideline Tanahashi to get back at him and everyone in NJPW. I really do expect Suzuki to do more of the same to anyone and everyone put up against him next.

My Score: 8.8/10


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Coverage

Mitchell’s WWE Raw Results & Report! (1/25/21)

Will the Empress still reign?

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Coverage Raw 2021

Raw is revving up towards the Royal Rumble!

The Royal Rumble is this Sunday, but a lot could change right before it! Will Asuka still be Raw Women’s Champion after a rematch with twisted Alexa Bliss?

OFFICIAL RESULTS

  • Charlotte Flair VS Shayna Baszler w/ Nia Jax; Charlotte wins, by disqualification.
  • Six Woman Tag: Charlotte Flair, Mandy Rose & Dana Brooke VS Shayna Baszler, Nia Jax & Lacey Evans; Flair, Rose & Brooke win by count out, but restarted, Jax, Baszler & Evans win by pinfall.
  • Slapjack w/ Retribution VS Xavier Woods; Woods wins.
  • Sheamus VS John Morrison w/ The Miz; Sheamus wins.
  • 2v1 Handicap Match: The Miz & John Morrison VS Sheamus; The Miz & Morrison win.
  • R-Truth VS AJ Styles w/ Omos; Styles wins and Truth is NOT in the Royal Rumble match.
  • United States Championship Opportunity Gauntlet Match: Matt Riddle VS The Hurt Business; Riddle wins and will challenge Bobby Lashley for the title.
  • Raw Women’s Championship: Asuka VS Alexa Bliss; Bliss wins by disqualification, Asuka retains the title.

PLAY BY PLAY

Drew McIntyre is back!

The WWE World Champion is healthy and ready for his match this Sunday at the Royal Rumble PPV! McIntyre has the mic, and he says it feels so good to be back on Raw! McIntyre thanks the fans for their get-well wishes all over social media. The outpouring of support means the world to him. McIntyre was lucky with the COVID symptoms. He’s 100% now and will be for the Rumble, but he’ll dedicate his match to those dealing with COVID. We will get through this together.

But speaking of being sick, McIntyre would have to be out of his mind if he took Goldberg lightly at all. McIntyre watched Goldberg since McIntyre was a teen. Goldberg came out of nowhere and rose to the top, running through opponent after opponent, 173-0 to then defat Hulk Hogan for the championship! Then he went through The Rock, the rest of the WWE, and then just disappeared. The last thing to go in a heavyweight fighter is their power. Goldberg returned the exact same animal he’s always been, set a new streak, and has beaten every new champion he’s faced! But McIntyre vows to END the new streak! This Sunday, McIntyre is STILL going to be WWE World Champion!

McIntyre says he’s fired up and wants to start things right, but here comes The Miz and John Morrison. Miz says this Sunday IS the Royal Rumble, and McIntyre VS Goldberg will be one for the ages! WWE’s Godzilla VS King Kong! Two of the hardest hitting monsters of all time! But when something that big happens, there tends to be consequences… What might those be? Well, at the very least, one or both of them, by the end, could end up injured! Oh no~! Then what would happen? Well we can’t give that away. Oh c’mon! Well okay. “Hey, John~! Whichever superstar is left standing by the end of that match will be?” A sitting duck! CORRECT!

And then these two hit the ring. CORRECT! And then they beat the hell out of whoever is champion! COOOOOORRECT! And then, Mr. Money in the Bank, will cash-in, and all you’ll hear is… “The winner, and NEW WWE World Champion… THEEEE MIIIIIZ~!” But here comes Goldberg! McIntyre waits as the pyro goes off, and out steps the Icon himself! No faking it with Gillberg this time, Goldberg storms his way to the ring with a mic of his own! Challenger stares down champion and says, “You. Me. Sunday. You’re next.” Miz and Morrison like that and then egg the two on. But that only gets Goldberg and McIntyre glaring at them.

McIntyre and Goldberg drag Miz and Morrison into the ring! SPEAR for Miz! CLAYMORE for Morrison! Then back to staring the other down! McIntyre raises the belt, but will Goldberg be raising it after the Rumble?

 

Backstage interview with Charlotte Flair!

The Royal Rumble is Sunday, but she’s going 1v1 with Shayna Baszler for the first time! If there’s one thing Charlotte does well, it’s performing under pressure. Shayna should bring that invisible crown, because it’s one thing to say you’re a queen, it’s another to be one. Charlotte loves defying odds, and she’s always willing to bet on herself, #MsWrestleMania. So the “situation” with Lacey Evans and her father won’t cause an issue? Charlotte says she’s seen her dad in a lot of dark places, this might be his darkest. Charlotte knows Lacey’s intentions. It’s one thing to have the last name Flair, it’s another to carry the weight of that name. But for now, Charlotte focuses on Shayna.

Charlotte Flair VS Shayna Baszler w/ Nia Jax!

While the Empress of Tomorrow is busy with Lil’ Ms. Bliss, the Queen will see how ready the Queen of Spades is this close to their WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship rematch! Will Shayna be rolling towards the huge Sunday double header she has planned for herself?

The bell rings and the two circle. They tie up, Charlotte headlocks, but Shayna pries out to wrench and whip. Charlotte reverses, runs in but blocks a boot to give an elbow! Charlotte spins Shayna around into the ropes, elbows her down, then runs to dropkick Nia down for good measure! Shayna rushes in to get the sleeper! Charlotte rams Shayna into buckles, throws her off, then BOOTS her down! Charlotte gets the legs, Figure Four but Shayna fights it off! They move around, NIA drops a leg!!

Winner: Charlotte Flair, by disqualification

The challengers mug Charlotte! Charlotte fights back but here come Dana Brooke and Mandy Rose! The Sexy Muscle Friends fight Shayna and Nia off of Charlotte! Shayna kicks Mandy’s leg but Charlotte CLOBBERS Shayna! But here comes LACEY EVANS! Lacey brawls with Charlotte and it is chaos as Raw goes to break!

 

Six Woman Tag: Charlotte Flair, Mandy Rose & Dana Brooke VS Shayna Baszler, Nia Jax & Lacey Evans!

Raw returns, and battle lines have been drawn! Will the Queen and Sexy Muscle Friends get payback together against the troublemakers?

Mandy starts with Lacey and the two circle. They tie up, Lacey pulls hair, but lets off as the ref counts. Lacey does the strut but Mandy gets the arm. Mandy wrenches and yanks but Lacey uses a leg to pry free and wrench back. Mandy gets around to headlock, throw Lacey down and keep her down. Lacey pulls hair again, then headscissors free. Lacey copies the “WOO~!” but Mandy kicks free. Mandy headlocks again, Lacey powers out but things speed up. Mandy KICKS Lacey while she’s down! Mandy headlocks again, shifts around, and tags in Dana. They bring Lacey around to double suplex! Dana covers, TWO!

Dana keeps on Lacey with a whip and runs her over with a shoulder! Dana flexes, covers, TWO! Dana keeps Lacey away from her corner with a whip and hip toss! Handspring and stomp! Cover, TWO! Dana grows annoyed, she drags Lacey back over and tags in Charlotte. Lacey scrambles away to tag Shayna! Shayna and Charlotte continue where things left off, Charlotte blocks a kick to run and baits Shayna into buckles! But Shayna dodges the splash to fire off fast hands! Shayna KICKS the leg, but Charlotte avoids the knee to CHOP! And CHOP! And CHOP! Charlotte scoops and EXPLODERS Shayna to then kip up! Charlotte swipes at Lacey but goes after Shayna.

Charlotte brings Shayna over, tags in Dana, and Dana tags Mandy. Snapmare and double handspring BOOT! Mandy covers, ONE! Mandy drags Shayna back up, tags Dana in and they stomp away in the corner! Dana CHOPS and Charlotte lets out a “WOO~!” Dana CHOPS again, then tags in Charlotte. Charlotte and Shayna scrap, Charlotte CLUBS Shayna down then whips her to a corner. Shayna reverses but Charlotte tumbles up and out to then hit back with forearms! Charlotte KNEES Shayna through the ropes then drags her to the floor! Shayna hits the steps on the way down and hurries away. Nia checks on her teammate but the ring count is climbing! Shayna shoves Charlotte in at 8 but can’t get in herself, she’s COUNTED OUT!

Winners: Charlotte Flair, Mandy Rose & Dana Brooke, by count out

The Queen managed to get in the heads of her opponents and it cost them! Will it be this easy when it’s Charlotte and Asuka VS Shayna and Nia?

Raw returns, and it is NOT over! Adam Pearce had this match restart over commercial, and now Nia is throwing Dana around! Dana BOOTS then kicks low to throw forearms! Dana runs, Nia reels her in but Dana throws elbows! Dana handsprings and headscissors to throw Nia into a corner! Dana runs and handspring sin to back elbow! Dana keeps moving, but Nia CLOBBERS Dana! Cover, TWO! Nia drags Dana over and tags in Lacey. Lacey gets in Dana’s face and knocks her down, but the ref reprimands. Lacey drops down for a cover, TWO! Lacey stomps Dana in frustration, drops knees on Dana’s hand, then digs her into the ropes! The ref counts and Lacey lets off.

Lacey taunts Charlotte, tags Shayna, and they mug Dana in the corner. Shayna fires off body shots, snapmares Dana and KICKS her in the back! Shayna covers, TWO! Shayna has Dana’s arm, twists the wrist and STOMPS the arm! Nia tags in and goes after the arm with a cobra clutch! Dana endures as Nia smothers her then thrashes her around! Nia brings Dana up but Dana throws more elbows! Dana pushes but Nia pushes back, and Nia blocks the huricanrana! Dana manages to sunset flip but Nia breaks free, but Dana avoids the sit down! Hot tag to Mandy and Lacey! Mandy dodges Lacey to DECK Shayna, then Mandy fires off, and FLAPJACKS!

Mandy fires up, picks Lacey up and powers her to a corner! Mandy fires off forearms, the ref counts but Mandy runs to give Lacey a KNEE FROM A ROSE!! Cover, but Shayna breaks it! Charlotte SPEARS Shayna! Nia CLOBBERS Charlotte! Nia drags Lacey to the corner to tag in! Nia aims at Mandy, Lacey drags Charlotte out but Charlotte glares. They run into the empty ringside area and Dana tags in! Nia still runs in but only gets POST! Dana manages to hit the ROLLING NECKBREAKER! Cover, TWO!! Nia survives but Dana heads up top! But Nia drags her off with a ROCKET LAUNCHER TOSS!

Nia snarls and drags Dana up again, into a lift, for a CHOKE SLAM!! And a LEG DROP! Cover, Nia’s team wins!

Winners: Nia Jax, Shayna Baszler & Lacey Evans, by pinfall

Count out, controversy, whatever it is, that’s all the past now! Nia and Shayna are rolling towards the Royal Rumble, will they leave tag team champions as well as a Women’s Rumble winner?

 

Raw shares a WWE Network Exclusive from last week.

After Retribution’s Mace beat Xavier Woods, Mustafa Ali had a message. “Kofi, Xavier, people love watching you because you are their escape from reality.” But retribution is the reminder of reality! So get well soon, Kofi.

And in a message from earlier today, Ali answers Kofi’s burning question of why Retribution is after The New Day. To have the audacity to ask that! Kofi’s greatest moment came from Ali’s worst! KofiMania happened at Ali’s expense. That was Ali’s spot in the Elimination Chamber and it could’ve been Ali’s moment at WrestleMania! Ali feels the New Day took everything from him, so will he try to take everything from them?

Slapjack w/ Retribution VS Xavier Woods!

Raw returns as Woods makes his entrance. Woods is in no mood after having faced Ali’s allies twice already. The bell rings and Woods shotgun dropkicks Slapjack down! Woods throws hands, CHOPS Slapjack to a corner, then CHOPS him more! Woods whips corner to corner then back drops Slapjack high and hard! Slapjack flounders but Woods is on him. Slapjack throws Woods to the apron but Woods forearms back! Slapjack KNEES Woods, ROCKS him with a right, then slingshots out then in for an ELBOW DROP! Cover, TWO! Slapjack digs Woods’ face into the mat, then stomps him down!

Slapjack stomps Woods more, digs his face into the mat more, then stomps him again! Slapjack goes to a corner, hops up and leaps, but Woods avoids the stomp! Woods shoves Slapjack then blocks punches to give punches! And CHOPS! And CHOPS again! Woods fires off over and over, whips but Slapjack reverses, only for Woods to tilt-o-whirl to a Russian Leg Sweep! Woods fires up again before he dodges and LEG LARIATS! Woods whips, Slapjack reverses and UPPERCUTS! Woods boots back, and hits the HONOR ROLL! Cover, TWO!! Slapjack survives and Ali has T-Bar make a move.

Woods sees T-Bar coming but Slapjack rolls Woods, only for Woods to SHINING WIZARD! Cover, Woods wins!!

Winner: Xavier Woods, by pinfall

Mace chases Woods, but Woods gets out, only for T-Bar to BOOT Woods! T-Bar puts Woods back in and Retribution surrounds him! Ali says to “SHUT HIM DOWN!” T-Bar and Mace give Woods a DOUBLE CHOKE BOMB! Ali gets Slapjack up to get a chair and Slapjack does as ordered. T-Bar and Mace sit Woods up and Slapjack hands the chair to Ali. Ali scowls and demands Woods look at him. Ali raises the chair up, but he smirks as he spares Woods. Ali takes a seat and has Reckoning fetch him a mic.

“All this talk about wanting to be King of the Ring, but man, do you sure look like a peasant right now.” But like a real king, ALI will show mercy. “And for that, you are going to do exactly what I say. You are going to deliver a message to Kofi Kingston.” Tell Kofi that Ali heard the sad news that Kofi won’t make it to this year’s Rumble. But tell Kofi not to fear, “a replacement has been found. And his name is Mustafa Ali!” The tables have turned, and now the Beacon is ready to shine.

 

Matt Riddle finds R-Truth backstage.

Truth says he heard something. The Hurt Business is throwing a surprise party for him! How does he know that? Well it was Truth’s birthday last week, but he heard about a special VIP Lounge tonight! He’s getting 24 carrots! Well that makes sense as Capricorn, sign of the goat. BAAAH~! Now, don’t spoil the surprise! The secret is safe with Riddle, bro. Wait, someone got their wires crossed. Will Truth be sorely disappointed when the VIP Lounge isn’t what he thinks?

 

The Hurt Business heads to the ring!

The WWE United States Champion, Bobby Lashley, is going to be in the Men’s Royal Rumble this year, but his associates will be taking on Matt Riddle later on in a unique contender’s match challenge. But first, the VIP Lounge is decked out in black and gold as MVP says the BIGGEST things are popping, the littlest things are stopping, so relax and enjoy the view because the VIP Lounge is for people better than you. And MVP is stoked to see Bad Bunny is going to be at the Rumble and knows the after party will be lit! Lashley wanted this meeting for something important, MVP addresses the match with Riddle. Riddle may be brain dead but he is crafty. Let us not lose focus on that task in hand, Cedric Alexander.

Now, to Lashley’s business. “Sometimes you have to believe in somebody else’s belief in you.” Look at them! They all look good! Raw Tag Team and United States Championships. They believed! And more importantly, the beauty is that they’ve only just begun. So true. Benjamin says that looking at their individual accomplishments, it is hard to think that only a year ago- Alexander says that the Hurt Business is on a roll, thanks to MVP! Lashley says they collected some “outstanding debts,” to present something to represent their appreciation. It is only fitting that while these three are dripping in gold. MVP should have some gold, too. They present to him… #THB, the Hurt Business gold chain!

MVP tries it on, and loves it! It is not often that MVP is at a loss for words, but he doesn’t have any. Alexander takes credit working with the designer. Benjamin says Alexander doesn’t know what he’s talking about. But here comes R-Truth! PARTY~ TIME~! What?! Why!? Stop the music!! Truth says it is weird that the guest of honor isn’t on the list but sometimes it happens. He is NOT on the list! Truth says it is rude to eavesdrop, but he heard about this surprise party! Truth’s birthday was last week, but better late than never. No, this has NOTHING to do with Truth! This is all about MVP! Really? THB: Truth, Happy Birthday. And where the carrots at?

No, Truth. Just stop. Wait, dance break? Lashley says Truth is right. They’ve been so busy, Lashley forgot it was Truth’s birthday. And to make it up to him, they do have something for him, in the ring. MVP remembers now! Yeah, here we go. Oh wait, the other Raw superstars come out to go after the 24/7 Championship! They bust down the velvet rope, Tucker Knight rolls Truth up but Humberto Carrillo pushes him off. Lashley RAMS Carrillo into barriers! Gulak gets a haymaker, Lashley CLOBBERS Tucker and Benjamin throws Drew Gulak into steel steps! But Matt Riddle gets in to give MVP a FINAL FLASH knee! Riddle gets away but the Hurt Business tells him he’ll still pay! Will the Bro put the hurting on the Hurt Business from top to bottom?

 

R-Truth talks with Adam Pearce.

Truth “hides” but he asks about Royal Rumble opportunities. Truth wants to prove he can enter the MITB match and win! No, Truth, no… AJ Styles and Omos come over. Styles understands what Truth is really talking about. And being the nice guy Truth is, benevolent even, he’ll help Truth out. Styles is benevolent? Truth is a Capricorn! Sigh… Pearce arranges a match between Truth and Styles, and they accept! Truth says if Styles is benevolent, Truth is a Capricorn, and Omos must be a Taurus. Truth had a Ford Taurus, it broke down and… Well anyway, will Truth be able to prove he is worthy of the Rumble with just days left to get in?

 

Sheamus VS John Morrison w/ The Miz!

The Fella saw the Guru and A-Lister get blasted by McIntyre and Goldberg earlier, and figured why not get in on the fun? Will Sheamus use Morrison as a great warm-up before entering the Men’s Rumble this Sunday?

Raw returns as the Greatest Tag Team of the 21st Century make their entrance. The bell rings, Sheamus and Morrison circle and tie up and Sheamus puts Morrison on ropes. The ref counts for the break but Sheamus lets off at 4. Morrison holds his jaw from that Claymore earlier, but gets around to waistlock. Sheamus throws Morrison down to get the arm. Morrison fights around to another waistlock, then shifts up to a chinlock. Sheamus fights up as Morrison moves around, and Morrison knees low! Sheamus blocks the knee to drop Morrison then cover, ONE! Sheamus facelocks but Morrison fights up, only for Sheamus to wrench to a hammerlock.

Sheamus cranks on the arm, wrangles Morrison down, shifts to a double wristlock but Miz cheers Morrison on. Morrison fight sup but Sheamus throws him over to add a headscissor squeeze. Morrison kicks free, shifts to a lateral press, ONE! Sheamus facelocks again, Morrison fights up and powers out, but Sheamus runs Morrison over! Sheamus runs, Morrison goes to hip toss but Sheamus blocks! Morrison avoids the counter clothesline to O’Conner roll, TWO! Sheamus avoids the Penalty Kick to roll Morrison up, TWO! Sheamus clamps back onto the arm, Morrison fights up and puts Sheamus in a corner. The ref counts for the break, Sheamus lets Morrison go but Morrison ROCKS and KICKS Sheamus!

Morrison fires off on Sheamus, KICKS him again, then stalks him to the other corner. Morrison whips, Sheamus reveres but Morrison kicks back! Morrison runs, into a BACK DROP! Sheamus looms over Morrison, kicks him while he’s down, then kicks him again! Sheamus drags Morrison back up, throws a BIG EuroUpper, then keeps on Morrison with heavy body shots! Sheamus clamps onto the arm again, grinds Morrison down, but Miz rallies up with the “Hey hey! Ho ho!” Morrison wrenches, kicks, and shifts around to ROUNDHOUSE! Morrison grounds ‘n’ pounds but Sheamus shoves him away. Morrison deflects the leg guard to spin over Sheamus and and KICK him back down!

Morrison stomps Sheamus around, has him on the ropes, then whips him corner to corner. Sheamus reverses, then shoulders into him at the corner! Sheamus rains down rights, drags Morrison up and hits an IRISH CURSE BACKBREAKER! Cover, TWO! Sheamus keeps his cool as he goes to a corner. Miz gets on the apron, the ref backs him off, but Sheamus stops the sneak attack from Morison! Sheamus goes up, leaps, but Morrison dropkicks him out of the air! Morrison KNEES Sheamus to the apron! Morrison has the leg on the ropes and pulls! The ref counts, Morrison stops at 4, then wrecks Sheamus with a baseball slide!

Miz creeps closer but Morrison KICKS Sheamus in the leg! The ring count climbs, Morrison puts Sheamus back in and has the leg. Morrison DRAGON SCREWS Sheamus, covers, ONE!! Morrison keeps on that leg for elbow drops to the knee! Sheamus fights back but Morrison shifts around again for more ground ‘n’ pound! Then a standing toehold to a KNEEBAR! Sheamus endures, Miz likes the aggression but Sheamus throws haymakers to get Morrison away! Morrison stalks Sheamus to a corner and drops an elbow on the leg! Morrison keeps on the leg and has a toehold to bend the leg!

Sheamus endures again, reaches for ropes but throws elbows into Morrison’s head! And then stomps him! Sheamus stomps until Morrison lets him go! Both men stand slowly, and Sheamus clobbers Morrison with ax handles! Sheamus runs in to clothesline Morrison at the corner, then TOSS him across the way! Sheamus hobbles over, fireman’s carries, but Morrison elbows free! CHOP BLOCK to the leg! Sheamus stays up but Morrison springboards! Sheamus manages to catch Morrison, swing him, and SLAM him! Cover, TWO!! Sheamus grits his teeth as he gets the bad leg moving.

Morrison crawls, Sheamus gets the legs and stomps Morrison’s stomach, to then tie up the legs! Sheamus turns Morrison, Morrison resists but Sheamus kicks him into the CLOVERLEAF! Morrison endures, crawls and gets the ropebreak! Sheamus lets go at 4, Miz checks on Morrison but Sheamus hobbles over. Morrison hotshots back! Morrison hurries back in but into a KNEE! Morrison flops into the fireman’s carry, and WHITE NOISE! Cover, Sheamus wins!

Winner: Sheamus, by pinfall

The Miz protests! If Sheamus wants to prepare for the Rumble, he has to keep his head on a swivel! Miz challenges Sheamus to a handicap match, and Sheamus ACCEPTS! Will Sheamus be able to beat both members of the Greatest Tag Team of the 21st Century in one go?

2v1 Handicap Match: The Miz & John Morrison VS Sheamus!

Raw returns and the bell rings. Sheamus brawls with BOTH Miz and Morrison! Sheamus is on Miz but Morrison hops on Sheamus! Sheamus throws Morrison out over the top rope a la the Rumble, but Miz runs in! Sheamus elbows Miz away, fireman’s carries, but Morrison CHOP BLOCKS Sheamus! BASEMENT DDT! Cover, TWO! Morrison KNEES Sheamus down, Miz adds stomps, and they mug Sheamus at the ropes! Morrison and Miz double snapmare and then set Sheamus up for the BOOT, SHINING WIZARD and STANDING SHOOTING STAR! Double cover, TWO!

Miz and Morrison stalk Sheamus to ropes, he kicks them back, but Miz stomps Sheamus down! Miz digs his boot in, lets off as the ref counts, but Morrison drags Sheamus up with a chinlock. Sheamus elbows free, ROCKS Miz, but Morrison ROUNDHOUSES and clotheslines Sheamus out! Miz WRECKS Sheamus with a dropkick! Miz stands Sheamus up for Morrison to FLY out and take down! Miz and Morrison drag Sheamus back up, then throw him into the barriers! Morrison adds a HEEL KICK! Miz adds a BOOT! Sheamus flounders back up but Miz and Morrison drag Sheamus around the way to put in the ring. Miz climbs and Morrison sets Sheamus up, FLYING AX HANDLES!

Miz and Morrison put Sheamus in a corner but Sheamus blocks the buckle bump! Sheamus hits Miz back, Morrison KICKS and ROCKS Sheamus! Miz adds a mudhole stomp, then Morrison digs his knee in! The ref reprimands, Miz and Morrison drag Sheamus up and KICK, ROCK and repeat! Miz whips Morrison in but Sheamus throws Morrison out! Sheamus CLOBBERS Miz! Both men are down but Sheamus grits his teeth. Sheamus gets up and glares at Miz. Sheamus rallies with big ax handles on Miz! Morrison returns but gets a scoop SLAM! Miz staggers into a fireman’s carry, ROLLING SENTON onto Morrison!

The Celtic Warrior is seething as he sees Miz go to the apron. Sheamus stands Miz up to give him Beats of the Bodhrain! But Morrison comes over, only to miss! And now Morrison gets Beats of the Bodhrain! Sheamus shoves Morrison down, climbs up the corner, and as Miz and Morrison regroup, Sheamus LEAPS! SUPER DOUBLE FLYING CLOTHESLINES!! Sheamus drags Miz back into the ring, aims from a corner, fires himself up, and Miz stands up. Morrison anchors a foot, Miz hits the A-LIST LARIAT! Sheamus throws off the full nelson, ducks the Flying Chuck and BROGUES Morrison! SKULL CRUSHING FINALE OUTTA NOWHERE!! Cover, Miz and Morrison win!!

Winners: The Miz & John Morrison, by pinfall

Beat down as they were to start the night, and as beat up as Sheamus was from his match with Morrison, this battle was much harder than just a normal 2v1! But in the end, the two beat the one just six days from the Royal Rumble! Will Miz leave with the WWE World Championship thanks to his MITB contract? Or will he have double the chances going into WrestleMania?

 

Lacey Evans “trains” with Ric Flair.

She talks waistlock counters and Ric shows her the ways. Seems innocent enough, but Charlotte Flair walks in and walks over. Lacey, leave. Lacey does, staying away from Charlotte as best she can. Ric says that just because Charlotte is a big star now, doesn’t mean there isn’t room enough in the dressing room for both. If someone wants some tips from Ric, he’ll give it. He’ll always be him. Always be himself, huh? The man who spent all his money on everyone but his family? Charlotte isn’t the villain here. When she was young, this was “cute.” Charlotte is the only one protecting Ric. He’s going from legend to an old man. She isn’t afraid to say it, either.

The tension mounts, but Charlotte takes a step back. But Lacey is still there, and she SUCKER PUNCHES Charlotte! Then kicks her into the wall! Ric hurries over to check on Charlotte, but Lacey wants him to move on. Will Lacey pay for playing father against daughter soon enough?

 

R-Truth VS AJ Styles w/ Omos!

Truth wants to bring the 24/7 Championship to Money in the Bank! Too bad it’s Rumble season first. But will Truth still get in on the big time event when he’s up against a phenomenal gatekeeper?

The bell rings and Styles sees Truth busy with his knee pads, so he stomps and kicks him to a corner! Styles whips Truth corner to corner hard and Truth bounces off buckles! Styles taunts Truth, brings him up and throws haymakers. Truth ROCKS Styles back! Styles kicks Truth’s leg, grabs it to elbow the knee, then kick it! Styles runs in at Truth in the corner but Truth ROCKS him again! Truth runs, but into a BACKBREAKER! Styles says this is what he’ll do to 29 other men in the Rumble! Styles whips but Truth reverses and sends Styles out a la the Rumble! Styles is pissed, he gets in and drop toeholds Truth hard!

Truth checks his nose, but then he looks up to see Omos looming over him! And Omos is still on the floor level! Styles argues with the ref but Truth goes to a corner. Truth puts Styles on the apron, Styles springboards back in but Truth avoids the forearm to hit a SPIN OUT BOMB! A la his “childhood hero,” John Cena! YOU CAN’T SEE ME~! Five Knuckle Shuffle!! And the- No, Styles avoids the scissor kick! Truth fireman’s caries but Truth slips out to get the CALF CRUSHER! Truth taps, Styles wins!

Winner: AJ Styles, by submission

Another would-be Rumble entrant is denied! Is Styles going to have an even easier time in the Rumble match itself?

 

Alexa Bliss speaks.

She’s on her swing as she sings “Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary.” Alexa says last week was so much fun! And did “he” see what Randy Orton’s face looked like after what they did? The fireball that sent Orton writhing and rolling left him burned, and Alexa laughs at the idea that it’s an improvement. “For the record, I just wanted to have some fun with Asuka in my Playground, but she didn’t want to play nice.” Asuka just tried to make Alexa happy by saying “he” is still here, but Alexa didn’t take kindly to that. “But… neither did I.” Alexa pulled some trickery of her own, and became the dark side that Asuka feared we’d see. Alexa won the match, which is why she has her title opportunity tonight.

Did you like the magic trick? “He” taught it to her. And a lot of other things, actually. She can’t wait to see “him” again so she can say thanks. But tonight, Alexa can win herself a shiny new toy in the Raw Women’s Championship. And just like last week, Alexa won’t play nice. Now she sings “Ring Around the Rosies.” Will it be ashes to ashes for Asuka’s title reign tonight?

 

United States Championship Opportunity Gauntlet Match: Matt Riddle VS The Hurt Business!

The Bro has come close to taking the title off the Chief Hurt Officer, but the chase is never done! Can he get through Shelton Benjamin, “Prime” Alexander and Montel Vontavius Porter to earn another shot at Bobby Lashley’s gold?

Raw returns and the Hurt Business make their entrance. The first one to take Riddle on is… the Gold Standard!

Matt Riddle VS Shelton Benjamin!

The bell rings and Riddle rushes Benjamin only to miss the knee! Riddle fires off hands, kicks and forearms to put Benjamin in a corner! Riddle runs side to side to forearm smash! Then side to side, but Benjamin gets around to waistlock! Riddle throws elbows but Benjamin GERMAN SUPELXES! Riddle lands on his feet! Riddle spins Benjamin around to PELE! Benjamin ducks the Penalty Kick, blocks the Final Flash and SPINEBUSTERS Riddle down! High stack, TWO! Riddle survives an early exit but Benjamin lifts Riddle to the corner! Benjamin clubs away on Riddle then STEP UP KNEES Riddle out of the ring!

The ref counts as Riddle is down on the outside, but Benjamin drags him up and in. Benjamin clinches, throws knees, then scoop slams! Cover, TWO! Benjamin keeps Riddle from ropes with a seated cobra twist. Riddle endures, fights up as MVP taunts him, and he throws body shots! Riddle gets free to throw forearms, then he runs but into a kitchen sink knee! Cover, TWO! Benjamin grounds ‘n’ pounds, circles him and KICKS him! Benjamin drags Riddle up, Riddle blocks the suplex and throws more body shots but Benjamin clubs and KNEES Riddle back down! Cover, TWO!! Riddle is still in this and defiantly glares at MVP!

MVP wants Benjamin to stop playing with Riddle and Benjamin brings Riddle into a chinlock. Riddle endures even as Benjamin has a rear bearhug. Riddle fights up, pries free to go after the arm, and gets a GUILLOTINE! Benjamin drops, Riddle shifts around, but Benjamin fights up to suplex free! Riddle knees free of the suplex! Alexander distracts, Riddle swipes at him, but Benjamin runs in! Riddle switches to an O’Conner roll but Alexander distracts! But Benjamin reverses as Alexander argues too long! The plan backfires and Benjamin is furious! MVP tells Alexander to help but doing NOTHING! But Riddle goes up and victory rolls Benjamin, to ELIMINATE him!!

Matt Riddle VS MVP!

MVP tells Alexander to stop and let him handle business. Benjamin and Alexander argue and MVP is busy telling them to stop! The bell rings, Riddle rolls MVP up to a KNEEBAR!! MVP TAPS, Riddle ELIMINATES him!! Alexander and Benjamin blame each other, but now it’s down to “Prime” Alexander to end this! Will the young lion make up for his mistakes by solving the Riddle?

Matt Riddle VS Cedric Alexander!

Raw returns as Alexander RAMS Riddle into the corner! Alexander digs his shoulder in and KICKS Riddle while he’s down, but MVP and Benjamin aren’t happy with him. Alexander snapmares Riddle to a cover, TWO! Alexander and Riddle throw forearms, Riddle ROCKS Alexander but runs into another kitchen sink knee! Alexander fireman’s carries for a GUTBUSTER! Cover, TWO! Alexander keeps on Riddle with an armlock and a knee in Riddle’s back. Riddle endures, fights up and slips free to CHOP! Riddle fires forearms, has Alexander in the corner for KICK after KICK, then he runs to forearm smash! Riddle keeps moving but Alexander dropkicks Riddle down hard! Cover, TWO!

Benjamin and MVP tell Alexander to stay focused and he says he’s got this. Alexander drags Riddle into a standing cobra twist, but Riddle endures again. Riddle moves around, gets to the ropebreak, but Alexander counts along before he lets go at 4. Alexander then digs his knee into Riddle at the ropes, but lets off as the ref counts. Cover, TWO! Alexander covers again, TWO! Alexander has the rear bearhug and squeezes tight. Riddle endures, throws elbows over and over and is free! Alexander shakes out the cobwebs, but Riddle fireman’s carries him, only for Alexander to make it a DDT! Cover, TWO!! Riddle survives and MVP coaches Alexander to finish this.

Alexander drags Riddle into a chinlock but Riddle fights his way over to ropes again. Riddle fights up, fights back with body shots and forearms and fast hands! Alexander boots but Riddle spins him around for a PELE! Riddle kips up, runs in and forearm smashes! Then another! Then a BROSPLODER! Riddle grits his teeth as he runs, but Alexander dodges the PK, the moonsault, and gets knees up for the Broton! MVP tells Alexander to capitalize and Alexander gets up. Alexander brings Riddle up, throws body shots, but Riddle fires off fast hands! Alexander ducks a kick to give a kick, but Riddle gets him taunting, GERMAN SUPLEX!

MVP is annoyed as Riddle drags Alexander up, only for Alexander to BRAIN BUSTER! Cover, TWO!! MVP is furious as Alexander slowly gets up. Alexander rains down furious fists on Riddle, stomps him down, then grabs an arm to stomp Riddle unguarded! Alexander goes to a corner, climbs up top, and LEAPS, but the Frog Splash misses! Riddle comes back, flying takedown to a TRIANGLE HOLD! Alexander stays up, dad lifts and POWERBOMBS! But Riddle has the Triangle again! Alexander fights up, Riddle slips out, but Alexander pump handles! Riddle makes that a victory roll, RIDDLE WINS!!

Winner: Matt Riddle, by pinfall (NEW #1 Contender to the WWE US Championship)

The Bro breaks through to get another shot! And Benjamin laughs at Alexander for failing. But as Riddle goes up the ramp, Lashley ATTACKS! Lashley clobbers Riddle then puts Riddle in the HURT LOCK! Riddle is a ragdoll before Lashley finally throws him down! The Hurt Business still stands tall, but will the Rocky Mountain Machine be able to focus on the Men’s Rumble when Riddle awaits on the other side?

 

Edge is here!

The Rated R Superstar says 2020 taught all of us that you can’t sleep on tomorrow. If you have a dream, you have to fight for it every day. “Tomorrow is not guaranteed.” Sometimes you have to pick yourself up, dust yourself up and keep walking forward. But bear with him, okay? About 10 years ago, after WrestleMania 27, Edge was the world Heavyweight champion, on top of the world. And within a week, he had to give up the title, and his career, “the only career I’ve ever wanted. My dream.” Edge will never forget when he told his mom that he was going to be a wrestler. She said he should just go do it.

But those simple words were the jet fuel that lit the fire inside to make him fight for nine years to get back to his dream! And then at Backlash 2020, Randy Orton tore Edge’s triceps and gave him another reminder that everything you hold dear can be torn away, just like that. “But you can’t live in that space. You gotta fight.” Edge knows what his mom would say. “Just go do it.” So with that in mind, Edge is entering THIS YEAR’s Royal Rumble! He knows it won’t be like last year, because the stakes are higher! The window closes more and more every day so Edge needs to win, main event WrestleMania, and finally take back what he never lost!

If you have a dream, you need to fight to make it a reality. Edge will fight with every fiber of his being and every breath left in his body, to make the farfetched dream come true. Now, if you’ve been with him on this ride from The Brood to right now, Edge has to try. A world without dreamers and fighters is a much less magical place. Henry Ford once said, “If you think you can, or if you think you can’t, you’re right.” Edge thinks he can. Will he be right come the Rumble?

 

Raw Women’s Championship: Asuka VS Alexa Bliss!

The Empress of Tomorrow may be an intimidating superstar, but even she was spooked by the darkness on display last week. Will she be able to face her fears as she again faces the Fiend’s best friend? Or are we about to witness a new reign of terror?

The introductions are made, the Raw Women’s title is raised, and this crucial main event begins!

Asuka and Alexa circle, Alexa has fun teasing Asuka, but they approach, only for Asuka to avoid Alexa’s grip. They try again, and Alexa gets around to waistlock. Asuka elbows out hard, throws Alexa to a corner, then throws her across the ring! Asuka stomps Alexa down, the ref counts and Asuka lets off, to go after Alexa’s arm. Asuka grinds Alexa to the mat, Alexa just grins and shakes her head. Alexa fights up as she endures, but Asuka kicks and stomps the arm to keep her down! Alexa gets back up, throws body shots, kicks and CLUBS Asuka back! Alexa whips Asuka to a corner, Asuka goes up to leap and missile dropkick!

Asuka fires up, keeps moving, but the hip attack misses! Alexa KICKS Asuka out of the ring, and the tricks begin again! There’s a rocking horse in the ring and Alexa rides it with a big smile while Raw goes to break!

Raw returns and the rocking horse is gone as Asuka stomps and kicks Alexa in a corner. Asuka lets off just a moment before stomping Alexa again! Asuka whips, Alexa reverses but Alexa runs into an elbow! Asuka goes up and leaps but the missile dropkick misses! Alexa hits Insult2Injury! Cover, TWO! Alexa drags Asuka up to bump her off buckles, then stomps away! The ref counts, Alexa stops at 4 to then dig her boot into Asuka. The ref counts, Alexa lets off at 4 again, and she drags Asuka up to snapmare. Alexa wraps on a chinlock and grins as she leans on the hold. Asuka endures, fights up, elbows back but Alexa throws Asuka by her hair! Cover, TWO!

Alexa plays annoyed but she wraps Asuka back into the chinlock. Alexa smiles again as she smothers Asuka but Asuka endures. Asuka fights up, fights free, but Alexa whips her to ropes. Asuka holds ropes and ROUNDHOUSES back! Both women are down as Asuka gasps for air and Alexa shakes out the cobwebs. Alexa smirks as she looks at Asuka, and runs in, only for Asuka to dodge, follow and run Alexa over! POP-UP KNEE! Asuka runs corner to corner to HIP ATTACK! Mule kick and a GERMAN SUPLEX! Alexa flounders up into the SLIDING WIZARD! Cover, TWO! Asuka grits her teeth while Alexa still smiles on the mat.

Asuka drags Alexa up, bumps her off buckles, and stomps her down! Asuka runs corner to corner but whose music is that? Wait, Alexa has transformed back into… Is this the REAL Alexa?! She cries while clutching her arm and begging for mercy! This is the same trick she used on Nikki Cross, but is it just a trick? Alexa doesn’t seem to understand where she is or why she’s here. Asuka still runs in but Alexa sends her into buckles! Alexa still seems to be herself but she goes to a corner… And the screens start freaking out! And when the lights come up, it’s DARK ALEXA!!! She’s doing the spider walk!! Asuka is at a loss for what’s going on, but she runs back in!

Alexa blocks and deflects, just like last week! POP-UP KNEE hits, but Alexa just shakes it off!! Asuka gets a takedown! ASUKA LOCK! Alexa scrambles up to fight it off! Alexa grabs Asuka’s jaw! MANDIBLE CLAW!!! Asuka endures, but RANDY ORTON is here! He took off the mask to show his burnt face! RKO TO ALEXA!!!

Winner: Alexa Bliss, by disqualification (Asuka retains the Raw Women’s Championship)

The Viper strikes Alexa down, showing he has no fear and no mercy for The Fiend’s little friend! But will costing Alexa the title be only the beginning of Orton’s revenge?


My Thoughts:

I really hopes this go-home episode was going to go better, but a lot of this just ended up a bit of a grind. We got a good segment out of McIntyre returning healthy and Goldberg showing up, and beating up Miz ‘n’ Morrison as part of it, and that was about all we could expect out of it since Goldberg and McIntyre aren’t going to get physical with each other. Sheamus VS Morrison was a good match, and so was the Handicap Match, but having both of those tonight just felt like a couple weeks ago with all the doubling up. “Hey, you just had a match, but how about having a match with me now?!” This technically muddies the math for the Rumble and the MITB cash-in, but either way, I don’t see Miz coming away with the title or the Rumble ticket to Mania, perhaps saving his cash-in for Mania.

There was a clumsy restart with the Six Woman Tag that kinda hurt it, but I suppose it still turned out alright. Nia and Shayna go in strong to the Women’s Tag Team Championship match, but that match will determine how strong Nia and Shayna each go into the Women’s Rumble. Charlotte’s better segment was with Ric and Lacey. It escalates the story a bit more, and clearly sets up more Charlotte VS Lacey for post-Rumble, tag titles or not. Asuka had her own part tonight, but she almost seemed more a set piece for setting up the next step in Alexa’s story with The Fiend and Orton. I will say that everything Alexa was doing in that match, from being spunky Alexa to “Goddess” Alexa to extra scary Alexa saved the episode, as did Orton hitting an RKO, and I can’t wait to see what’s next.

Mustafa Ali had good promos, Woods VS Slapjack was alright, but I’m hoping Kofi can make it back to get things going towards a full New Day VS Retribution feud. The VIP Lounge segment was almost right, but I’m a bit disappointed MVP didn’t get the 24/7 Championship off of R-Truth tonight. It was good for Riddle to get his shot in on MVP but I was still hoping we’d get titles for all the Hurt Business members. The Gauntlet match was alright, definitely better story with the dysfunction in the Hurt Business growing. But the time used to basically replay ALL of Orton’s package last week took from the match being on equal footing with the story. Riddle wins the gauntlet but doesn’t stand tall, all to muddy the math again, but I feel like the third time will be the charm for Riddle to get the US Championship.

Hearing from Edge was great, and his promo was great in itself. And I’m pleasantly surprised that Edge is getting back with another Royal Rumble return. I don’t think he’ll win, but it’d be a great way for him to get back into things if he eliminates a good handful.

My Score: 8/10


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NOAH WEEKLY NEWSLETTER VOL.119 ~ 24TH JANUARY 2021

A former King of Pancrase and Triple Crown champion steps up to challenge for the GHC National title at Budokan! NOAH shaping up for their biggest event in a decade! 

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A former King of Pancrase and Triple Crown champion steps up to challenge for the GHC National title at Budokan! NOAH shaping up for their biggest event in a decade!

NEWS

Hajime Ohara tests positive for COVID-19

It was announced on the 22nd January that Hajime Ohara had tested positive for Covid after a routine PCR test. The Osaka card was changed with YO-HEY filling in for him. Ohara has not shown any symptoms of fever, cough or loss of taste so far, and temperature taken on the morning of the 24th January was normal. Ohara is isolating at home, and true to form is studying (he was taking an online English class), and and eating nutritiously. He is determined to be back to NOAH for The Budokan.

In Osaka, the roster paid tribute to him, with YO-HEY making the Muy Bien sign, and Naomichi Marufuji finishing his promo (tantrum) with “Muy Bien”.

Kenoh from Murakami to Masakatsu

In a match that lasted only nine minutes and forty seconds, which was really for how long it needed to last, Kenoh defeated Kazunari Masakatsu for the GHC National title in Osaka on the 23rd January 2021. The match started off somewhat MMA style, and went to mat wrestling. Kenoh got his own back on Murakami for felling him with a closed fist, by doing the same, but this seemed to only make Murakami mad and he unleashed a volley of kicks and punches on Kenoh. After a brief loss of temper, Kenoh came to his senses and realized that he was going to have to take Murakami down, and he did it by using the sleeper hold, which caused the referee to stop the match.

Almost immediately after the match had finished, Masakatsu Funaki made his challenge. He simply pointed at the belt and asked Kenoh to be his next challenger. Kenoh accepted the challenge, and set it for the Nippon Budokan (12th February 2021), but backstage rather than scream abuse about his opponent, he actually said that he was it was exciting and he was looking forward to it. Murakami he said he had also enjoyed the match with, although he admitted to being scared by him.

Masakatsu Funaki seemed to have a few different reasons for challenging; he had the image of being a champion alongside Mutoh, Kenoh was not something he had experienced before, and he felt that the time was now to do it. He was also complimentary about Kenoh, saying that he was “in his thirties and riding high”. Funaki makes the third MMA fighter to have challenged Kenoh.

EVENT RECAPS & POST MATCH PROMOS

Event recap: HIGHER GROUND 2021 (January 23rd, Edion Arena Osaka 2nd Stadium)

Post match interviews: HIGHER GROUND 2021 (January 23rd, Edion Arena Osaka 2nd Stadium)

ELSEWHERE IN NOAH

~ Atsushi Kotoge admitted some jealousy of Daisuke Harada.

~ Mohammed Yone did some catering for the roster on the way home from Osaka.

~ Naomichi Marufuji won the chop challenge against Go Shiozaki, then got annoyed at it being pointed out that he beat Shiozaki in the challenge, but wasn’t the one to make the pin and win the match. Pointed out that HE was the senior to them, and would take both their belts, “so I can enter last and show them off”. And then walked off.

~ Takashi Sugiura says he aims to create a new record, and become the GHC Heavyweight Champion at the age of 50, however if Keiji Mutoh defeats Go Shiozaki for it, he will do it when he is 60.

CURRENT CHAMPIONS

ALL the titles, except the GHC Heavyweight Tag, have been challenged for and the matches will take place at The Budokan. Fans are hoping that Katsuhiko Nakajima and Masa Kitamiya will challenge, especially as they are teaming together against Takashi Sugiura (Kazushi Sakuraba is absent) on NOAH’s last show before The Budokan, on the 31st January.

 

THIS WEEK IN NOAH

Sunday 31st January: “HIGHER GROUND 2021” (11.30am JST, Korakuen Hall.)

BROADCASTS

NOAH’s 23rd January show from Osaka will be available to view on WRESTLEUNIVERSE on Tuesday 26th January. The GHC National title match, and the main event were streamed live through Periscope.

The 31st January event at Korakuen Hall has not had broadcast details announced yet.

LINKS

“Parasyte” Kazunari Murakami’s plan to take over the REIWA Ark

“For us, The Budokan is the beginning rather than the “Return” ~ Interview with Yoshiki Inamura

Kazushi Sakuraba has an astonishing determination to “become the Takako Tokiwa” of the Pro Wrestling World

Pro Wrestling Casebook ~ a shock ran through Michinoku, when Kenoh announced he was joining Noah (2013)

“Aiming to become the GHC Champion, in the year of my 60th birthday” ~ Takashi Sugiura

GIF taken from Noah’s Periscope

Match graphic taken from the Official NOAH Twitter

 


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