WWE Raw Preview (Dec. 7, 2020): Return Trip (www.cagesideseats.com)

Sean Rueter

Live from ThunderDome!

The Headliner

There’s a lot of history between Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt. Some of it’s good. A lot of it isn’t.

They’ve played with that history quite a bit in the build to their upcoming match at TLC. Last week it was by having Randy claim he’d identified Alexa Bliss as the Achilles’ heel of Wyatt’s indestructible alter ego The Fiend. Orton believes this is similar to when he burned down the Wyatt Family compound in 2017. Many of us have our doubts.

Tonight, the Viper is heading into Firefly Fun House. It’s Bray’s happy place. And possibly a physic construction? We don’t worry about it too much. It exists, despite Seth Rollins burning it down during his pyromaniac, pre-messiah phase. Randy should expect to have his mind messed with while he’s there, even if he leaves thinking he has the upper hand.

It got me thinking I’d like to see Orton take more than a quick trip to the Fun House. I’m a big fan of Wyatt’s Firefly Fun House match with John “Johnny Largemeat” Cena from WrestleMania 36. That was a big, bold, meta-commentary on Cena’s career and the effect he’d had on Bray’s. And if there’s anyone else on the WWE roster deserving of a similar dissection, it’s the Legend Killer (and maybe Roman Reigns, but we’ll save that for later).

Part of my thinking here is based on how little interest I have in seeing a Wyatt/Orton match. We’ve seen plenty of those in the past – regular and House of Horrors varieties. Most of Bray’s Fiend era feuds have had interesting builds that led to lackluster finishes. The exception, in my estimation, was the Cena program. For that, Wyatt and his collaborators leaned into what makes the stories before his traditional matches so interesting. Was last April’s Cena vs. Wyatt affair a “match”? Maybe not, but it had a winner and a loser. And it was a lot more interesting than his blow-offs with Rollins or Goldberg*.

So instead of watch Orton kick The Fiend’s ass for 15 minutes before he takes a Mandible Claw, let’s have Wyatt lead us on tour of Randy’s head and history. You’re telling me you don’t want to see how Bray lampoons his fellow third-generation wrestler’s failed post-Evolution face push, or his reputation for phoning it in, or even the reports of him being a backstage bully?

Bliss could also be more involved in a cinematic affair. Lexi seems to be done with Nikki Cross, which would make Wyatt’s match the main way to get her involved with the show. WWE will be better able to play with the complexities of The Fiend’s relationship with his new partner via a multi-set mini-movie. With Wyatt/Orton confined to a ring, she’ll most likely just be a distraction.

They could hold it for Royal Rumble if they need to string it out, but I’m hoping tonight’s visit to the Fun House is just prelude to the second ever Firefly Fun House match. Who’s with me?

* The attempt to take a similar route during the Braun Strowman feud, Extreme Rules’ Swamp Fight, was an intriguing failure. Partly because they leaned into the horror without winking at the absurdity of it all; and partly because there just aren’t many layers to peel on the Braun onion.

The title scene

The alliance between Mr. Money in the Bank Miz and #1 contender AJ Styles hasn’t borne much fruit yet, but WWE champion Drew McIntyre will have to keep his eye on those guys – and their friends John Morrison and Omos. With their match at the Dec. 20 PPV now a TLC match, there will be plenty of chances for the quartet of bad guys to screw him over. Good thing he has his best pal Sheamus with him… right?

Looks like we’re going another month without a real challenger for Raw Women’s champ Asuka. But she will be in a title fight at TLC, since she’s taken Lana under her wing for weird Tik Toks – and a shot at becoming a champ-champ if they can take the WWE Women’s Tag belts off Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler. Oh, I think there’s some storyline about Lana going on here, too? It’s hard to remember since it only takes up 15 – 30 minutes every Monday night.

A lot of the interactions have been between him and Hurt Business CEO Montell Vontavious Porter, but it looks like Riddle could be next up for United States champion Bobby Lashley. It’s pretty clear MVP’s associates Shelton Benjamin & Cedric Alexander are going to get a shot at The New Day’s Raw Tag Team titles, especially after Ced pinned Xavier Woods last week.

Two weeks and counting into R-Truth’s 45th run as 24/7 champion. God is good.

Other stuff to keep an eye on

– He didn’t win the “Sudden Death” match that determined the #1 contender, but Keith Lee didn’t take the pin, either. Could he get the champ’s tag partner from last week as a consolation prize? I’ll sign up for some Lee vs. Sheamus.

– Jeff Hardy somehow didn’t crack his skull in the Symphony of Destruction match, but he did end his feud with Elias. We think.

– RETRIBUTION is now fighting to destroy WWE on two fronts: with Ricochet and with Dana Brooke. Not sure I like this plan’s chances.

Two weeks until TLC!

What will you be looking for on Raw tonight?