Monday night saw the Royal Rumble go-home edition of Raw as WWE tried to piece together the final build for the red brand ahead of one of the biggest shows of the year. While the show was headlined by Alexa Bliss challenging Asuka for the Raw women's championship, the biggest news coming out of the show may have instead been a surprise entrant into the men's Royal Rumble match.
Edge, who has been out of action since June due to injury, first provided an update on his health before announcing that he would participate in the rumble match. Edge made his WWE return in the 2020 edition of the Royal Rumble, competing in his first match since 2011. Now, he'll attempt to win the iconic match for the second time in his legendary career.
CBS Sports was with you all night, bringing you recaps and highlights of all the action. Read on for everything you need to know coming out of the final pre-Royal Rumble edition of Raw.
Legends deliver final messages
Drew McIntyre opened the show with a promo in the ring, thanking everyone for their well wishes while he was dealing with COVID-19. He dedicated Sunday's match to all his fans and then turned his attention to Goldberg. McIntyre vowed to remain champion when he faces Goldberg, including promising to break Goldberg's streak of returning to action and winning world championships. The Miz and John Morrison interrupted to make it clear that Miz would be cashing in the Money in the Bank contract on whoever won Sunday's match, drawing out Goldberg to the ring. Goldberg got in McIntyre's face and told McIntyre, "You're next." Goldberg and McIntyre then pulled Miz and Morrison into the ring, hitting a spear and Claymore, respectively before staring each other down to end the segment.
Edge provided an update on his health and entered the Royal Rumble. Edge said that his injury was a reminder that tomorrow is never guaranteed and sometimes you have to pick yourself up and keep walking forward, also flashing back to when he had to forfeit his world title and career due to his neck injuries 10 years ago. He then announced that he would be entering the Royal Rumble, with a need to win and take back the title he never lost.
The match between Goldberg and McIntyre continues to just have no heat. That's largely a product of McIntyre being out for two weeks because of COVID, but also because the program kicked off with a Goldberg promo that truly made no sense. Monday night featured a brief McIntyre promo and then Goldberg delivering a five words, saying, "You. Me. Sunday. You're next." Edge's return is a big positive, however, and adds another credible potential Rumble winner to the match. Also, as he has done for his entire career as a top star, Edge brought the goods in his pre-taped promo. The two segments largely offset each other in impact and presentation. Grade: C+
Randy Orton costs Alexa Bliss the title
After a recap of Orton's promo from last week, Bliss appeared in an Alexa's Playground segment. Bliss again spoke to the empty seat next to her on the swing set, laughing about what she'd done to Orton's face. Bliss then said that Asuka didn't want to play nice last week, but neither did she. Bliss said The Fiend had taught her many things, including how to transform as she had last week during her match with Asuka.
Raw Women's Championship -- Alexa Bliss def. Asuka (c) via disqualification after Randy Orton hit Bliss with an RKO. Early in the match, Bliss knocked Asuka to the floor only to suddenly be riding a rocking horse in the center of the ring. Bliss stayed in control for much of the match, smiling as she executed offense, grinding down the champion. Asuka went on a roll with her offense and Bliss' music hit and distorted and she began to cry. After knocking Asuka into the turnbuckle, the lights went out and Bliss transformed as she had last week. Asuka went on the attack, but her offense had no effect before Bliss locked in the mandible claw. Randy Orton then appeared in the ring behind Bliss and attacked as the show went off the air.
This was all much more well done than last week. Bliss' recap on the playground provided some glue to hold everything together and the match with Asuka -- even as mostly a replay of last week -- held up well. The ending was a necessary bit of clever booking. Asuka couldn't lose the title in this spot and Bliss shouldn't take a clean pin right after debuting in-ring supernatural powers. Allowing Orton to not only interfere, but also fully attack Bliss, checked all the boxes, while also showing that he had learned to abandon compassion and return to his natural, evil self. Grade: B+
What else happened on WWE SmackDown?
- Charlotte Flair def. Shayna Baszler via disqualification after interference by Nia Jax. Jax interfered almost immediately and the pair began to attack Flair. This brought out Mandy Rose and Dana Brooke to make the save before Lacey Evans ran in as well.
- Nia Jax, Shayna Baszler & Lacey Evans def. Dana Brooke, Mandy Rose & Charlotte Flair via pinfall after Jax hit Brooke with a chokeslam and leg drop. This match came out of the actions of the previous bout between Flair and Baszler. Flair and Baszler were battling on the floor when Baszler lost track of the count, rolling Flair into the ring but not beating the count herself. This led to Adam Pearce demanding the match be restarted after none of the women involved were satisfied with the finish. This led to the actual finish where Jax got Brooke one-on-on to score the victory.
- Xavier Woods def. Slapjack via pinfall after a running knee. Woods was in control when Mustafa Ali sent T-Bar to interfere. Woods still managed to score the win, but was then attacked by Retribution after the match. Ali was about to hit Woods with a chair, but instead sat down and was given a microphone and cut a brief promo, saying he'd show Woods mercy and send a message to Kofi Kingston. Ali then announced he would be in the Royal Rumble.
- Sheamus def. John Morrison via pinfall after hitting White Noise. After the fairly long match, The Miz immediately told Sheamus that he needs to prove he's ready for the Royal Rumble and the need to keep his head on a swivel by facing Morrison and Miz in a handicap match immediately.
- The Miz & John Morrison def. Sheamus via pinfall when Miz hit the Skull-Crushing Finale. Sheamus survived an early onslaught to take the match over, but the numbers game got the best of him when Miz was able to sneak behind him to hit the Skull-Crushing Finale for the win.
- Charlotte Flair confronted Ric Flair backstage. Ric was giving Lacey Evans grappling tips. Charlotte confronted Ric, who said he was always going to be himself. As Charlotte said Ric was transforming from legend to old man, Evans attacked from behind, landing a Women's Right and kicking Charlotte into the wall before pulling Ric out of the room.
- AJ Styles def. R-Truth via submission with a calf crusher. For the third straight week, Styles was in a position to deny someone entry to the Royal Rumble. As he had the previous two weeks, Styles managed to pull off the victory to deny R-Truth a spot in the match.
- Riddle def. Cedric Alexander, MVP & Shelton Benjamin in a gauntlet match. Earlier in the night, Riddle had used R-Truth and those chasing the 24/7 championship as a distraction to hit a Final Flash knee on MVP during a VIP Lounge segment. Shelton Benjamin was the first man up in the gauntlet, but Cedric Alexander running interference caused the referee to miss that Benjamin had Riddle pinned. Seconds later, Riddle rolled up Benjamin for the first elimination. MVP was up next and Riddle immediately heel hooked him for the submission after MVP was distracted breaking up an argument between Benjamin and Alexander. After some back-and-forthwith Alexander, Riddle managed to hit a pinning combination for the victory. As he left the ring, Bobby Lashley ran in from behind and attacked, putting Riddle in the Hurt Lock.