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WWE Raw preview (Nov. 16, 2020): Status quo

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Live from ThunderDome!

The Headliner

Since the Raw vs. SmackDown theme emerged for Survivor Series after the latest brand split, the card-changing title switch has been a staple of WWE’s booking for the event.

Last year it was New Day taking The Revival’s spot in the Triple Threat tag, and the year before that Daniel Bryan beat AJ Styles to get his dream match with Brock Lesnar. In 2017, Styles, Charlotte Flair and The Bar captured championships in November to shake-up the PPV line-up.

It’s been enough that we’re now expecting it to happen. A year off from the trick would not only bring back the element of surprise for future Survivor Series builds, it would also leave the best version of the 2020 card intact.

Randy Orton is scheduled to defend his WWE championship against Drew McIntyre tonight. As the homie Cain A. Knight pointed out in his Stock Report over the weekend, WWE’s been doing great work establishing this version of McIntyre against Tribal Chief Roman Reigns as a WrestleMania-worthy main event - so much so that some are hoping to see it on Sunday. But they’re right to delay that gratification. Neither Roman nor Drew should lose a match like that yet, whereas Orton’s legacy will allow his brush off an exhibition loss to Reigns. Sheamus can be used to explain McIntyre losing tonight... kicking off a slobberknocker of a program that will kill time until ‘Mania season.

Tonight’s other title clash would seem more likely to alter plans for Sunday night. And I would like to see The Hurt Business draped in gold after Shelton Benjamin & Cedric Alexander battle Raw Tag Team champs Xavier Woods & Kofi Kingston. But New Day vs. Street Profits just sounds better, and if after they handed their belts to each other the Draft and SmackDown paused Big E’s push so he could serve as a hype man for a clash we don’t even get? Man...

Ced & Shelty will win those belts, but it should happen later. Plus, MVP’s squad already has United States champion Bobby Lashley. And surprisingly enough, I don’t want to see Lashley drop his belt. Because amazing as it is after the segment with Bobby’s “sisters,” the gimmick tweaks both he and Sami Zayn have undergone since 2018 actually has me looking forward to revisiting Zayn vs. Lashley.

Meanwhile, there’s no risk of the Raw Women’s titleholder dropping her belt, because Asuka’s been idling for what feels like months now. Maybe Mia Yim RECKONING will do something other than talk about the Empress this week, but if they decide to wait until after the latest Asuka vs. Sasha Banks banger on the 22nd, I’m okay with that, too.

So here’s hoping they break the streak of Thanksgiving Eve title changes this year. My plea for that covers most of it, but there a couple more items to cover from...

The title scene

The WWE Women’s Tag Team championship doesn’t have a blue brand counterpart, which is why Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler are the centerpieces of the five-on-five elimination tag match booked for this weekend. Baszler & Jax’s titles are probably safe until Lana teams up with an announce table. The big drama surrounding their team tonight is whether Mandy Rose’s apparent injury from last Monday will take her off the team, or if they’ll need a replacement before facing Bianca Belair, Ruby Riott, Liv Morgan & their two yet-to-be determined partners on Sunday.

Anything can always happen with the green-and-gold, but we’re a week and counting on R-Truth’s 44th run as 24/7 champion. God is good.

Other stuff to keep an eye on

- Raw’s men’s Survivor Series team is all set, but it remains to be seen whether Skipper AJ can keep Braun Strowman, Keith Lee, Riddle & Sheamus from killing each other long enough to focus on SmackDown’s Seth Rollins, Jey Uso, Kevin Owens, King Corbin & their TBD teammate.

- Her former tag partner seems pretty far gone to us, but Nikki Cross is determined to break The Fiend’s spell on Alexa Bliss.

- Miz’s early Money in the Bank plans haven’t been effective. Back to the drawing board.

- RETRIBUTION picked up their first win last week when Mustafa Ali beat Ricochet. What’s next? If they really want to destroy WWE, they should probably recruit Zelina Vega...

lt’s the Survivor Series go home show!

What will you be looking for on Raw tonight?