December 26, 2016
From the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, IL
Your hosts are Corey Graves, Byron Saxton, and Michael Cole
The show starts off with a recap from last week when an irate Braun Strowman destroyed staffers backstage, ran in during Sin Cara vs. Titus O’Neill and beat them down then did the same to Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins in the main event.
The live show starts off with Stephanie McMahon coming out to the ring and welcoming the crowd to RAW. She tells us that Mick Foley is off tonight then told the crowd if they kept up their “CM Punk” chant they’d last about two minutes and fifteen seconds longer than he did. However, Seth Rollins comes into the ring and wishes Merry Christmas to both the crowd and Stephanie. Seth keeps asking Stephanie about giving Triple H what he wanted, like NXT jammies and a leather jacket, before saying he needs his manhood back. Stephanie tells Seth when he goes low, she goes high as Triple H is the COO of the company. Seth then says he used to be one of the baddest dudes in the WWE but now he is going to be remembered as one of the biggest cowards of all-time because he will not answer his challenge. Stephanie tells Seth her husband is more of a champion that he will ever be as Seth tells Stephanie he knows Triple H is not here tonight but did come for a fight and wants it with Braun Strowman. Roman Reigns comes out to a chorus of boos as he is unhappy. Stephanie asks Roman if he wants to face Strowman too after what he did last week as Roman says Strowman made a big mistake last week and is here to fight. Seth then tells the “Big Dog” to get to the back of the line as he asked for him first. They then go back-and-forth about who gets Strowman first before agreeing to find him backstage and drag him to the ring and powerbomb him through a table. Stephanie then tells the crowd if they want a Shield reunion for one night only but then says it will not happen. She then makes Seth vs. Strowman later on tonight and tells Roman he will be facing an opponent of her choosing before saying we will be getting a Tag Team Championship rematch tonight as the New Day come out right before commercial.
A basic segment to set up the rest of the show. I actually though the interaction between Reigns and Rollins on who will get Strowman first was just awful to be honest. It was disjointed and unnatural.
WWE RAW Tag Team Championship Match: New Day vs. Cesaro & Sheamus (c)
Xavier & Kofi are representing New Day in this match. Xavier dropkicks Sheamus from behind to start as the New Day are on the attack. Sheamus is able to tag out but Kofi takes Cesaro down with a hurricarana as the New Day are using the Unicorn Stampede in the corner. Xavier gets two with a leg drop then hits a chop but Cesaro knocks him down with an uppercut. Xavier then gets dumped outside as we head to break and we return with Xavier trying to fight out of the corner. Sheamus knocks Kofi off of the apron then they hit Xavier with a backbreaker/flying knee drop combo for two. Xavier is able to dump Cesaro outside then slingshots out with a tornado DDT as both men are down. Back inside, Xavier floats over on a back suplex and tags out as Kofi runs wild. He almost puts Sheamus away with the S.O.S then Xavier tags in and hits a springboard elbow drop as Cesaro was able to make the save. Sheamus hits Xavier with a knee smash then Cesaro tags in and slingshots with a sunset flip and turns that into a swing. Big E is on the apron then gets down as Cesaro tosses Kofi out on him. Xavier quickly rolls up Cesaro for two then tries for the Honor Roll but he never saw the blind tag as Sheamus catches him with the Brogue Kick and gets the win (10:05) ***1/4. After the match, the crowd cheers for Cesaro while booing Sheamus as a displeased New Day head backstage.
Thoughts: Good match. Based on how aggressive the New Day were at the beginning and how angry they seemed after losing, I’d expect a heel turn soon. Cesaro & Sheamus seemed on the same page here as they are really starting to gel as an act.
We get a video package on Brock Lesnar to hype up his appearance at the Royal Rumble. It was really brief. It ends with the announcers telling us that Goldberg will be on RAW next week.
Braun Strowman is walking around backstage as staffers are running away in fear. He then walks into Kevin Owens & Chris Jericho, who want to talk to him. Owens says after he defeats Roman Reigns at the Royal Rumble and retains his Universal Title that he will be the #1 contender. They then both tell Strowman how Rollins and Reigns were talking trash about him and saying he is just a one-hit wonder. Strowman gets pissed and that they are full of crap, just like Jericho, as Strowman leaves all pissed off. This was all Owens & Jericho trying to amp up Strowman to work in their favor.
The Golden Truth are backstage talking as Bayley interrupts. She gives them both belated Christmas gifts as R-Truth gets a hug while Goldust gets a Bayley bear dressed up as his dad, Dusty Rhodes. Bayley tells him how much he meant to him while they hug. She leaves then Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows enter and call them nerds. Anderson takes the bear and rips it head off before leaving and laughing as Goldust is pissed. And now we have a new lower card Tag Team feud.
We are shown a clip of Nia Jax attacking Sasha Banks on RAW last week. When it ends we are shown a tweet from Sasha saying that she might be done but is not out.
Nia Jax vs. Scarlett
Charly Caruso asks Scarlett about whether or not it is wise to have her debut match against Nia. Scarlett says she is honored to make her debut and to fight for the honor of her role model, Sasha Banks. Nia boots Scarlett down then hits an avalanche in the corner before finishing her off with a Samoan Drop (1:05). After the match, Nia stands over Scarlett and tells her next time to choose a better role model before hitting a leg drop.
Thoughts: With Strowman doing a similar gimmick, and doing it better, its tough to really get behind Jax in this role. Scarlett is former Ring of Honor character Scarlett Boudeaux.
Charlotte is in Stephanie’s office and says thank you before leaving. Owens & Jericho enter and issues a complaint against Mick Foley for making him face Reigns, who he already beat, in a title match at the Royal Rumble while Jericho is hung in the air inside of a shark cage. Jericho talks about everything that will happen to him if he is that high in the air. Stephanie talks about hating authority figures who abuse their power so Reigns will defend the United States Championship in the main event against…………Kevin Owens. Stephanie leaves as Jericho is disappointed while Owens reassures Jericho that it will be great because they can both be the Universal and the United States Champions. Just as Jericho & Owens get back together they are facing more conflict as Jericho is showing some jealously over Owens getting a shot at another title.
Bayley now heads out to the ring. She talks about loving Chicago and hopes that Santa gave them all everything they wanted before saying she got what she wanted by becoming the new #1 contender. Charlotte comes out to interrupt her and shows us a clip of last week where she lost the match but the replay showed Charlotte had her shoulders off the mat before the three count. Charlotte then said her dad always told her to have a good lawyer on hand and after meeting with Stephanie, her win as been expunged from the record books. Charlotte cannot believe why Bayley is stun, suggesting its because Bayley is average while she is great. Charlotte also talks about being born with a silver spoon in her mouth and never had to clip coupons before saying she was secretly laughing at her during their stay in NXT. So, Charlotte said she will give Bayley a second chance at her childhood dream with a match tonight as Bayley suggests they finish what they started. Charlotte then said the settlement included a referee that will call the match fairly as Dana Brooke is introduced to the crowd. The feud remains Charlotte making fun of Bayley for being happy-go-lucky.
Bayley vs. Charlotte
Charlotte cheap shots Bayley then chops away in the corner. Bayley fights back but Dana steps in between but gets knocked down. However, Charlotte goes on the attack. Another referee slides inside as Bayley’s comeback is cut short with a knee smash. Bayley starts hulking up then rams Charlotte’s head against the turnbuckle ten times. Charlotte catches Bayley with a backbreaker in the corner then yells at the ref about his counting but that allows Bayley to catch her with a Bayley-to-Belly. The ref almost counts to three but Dana yanks her out then Charlotte rolls up Bayley from behind and puts her feet on the ropes as Dana uses a fast count and Charlotte gets the win (3:56) *1/4.
Thoughts: Not much of a match but I assume there will be something else done to get Bayley back into the #1 contender spot because there is no one else to fill the role at the moment.
Backstage, Braun is beating on someone as Stephanie yells at him to stop. Braun says he is waiting for Sami Zayn and wants both him and Rollins tonight. Stephanie says he cannot find Zayn but can guarantee a match next week. However, Braun says its not good enough as he wants him in a last man standing match. Stephanie then wants Braun to do something for her and that is to do everything he will to Zayn next week to Rollins tonight. Strowman showed personality here as he remains one of the most compelling characters on the show.
We are shown a clip of Neville from last week where he explained why he destroyed Rich Swann and TJ Perkins at Roadblock: The End of the Line and how he will obliterate the Cruiserweight Division.
Neville vs. TJ Perkins
Austin Aries has replaced Saxton on commentary for this match. They refuse a handshake as they stare each other down. Perkins dropkicks Neville after a reversal sequence then starts firing away. Perkins snaps off a hurricarana then flies out with a corkscrew pescado. Back inside, Perkins hits a crossbody for two then places Neville in a tree-of-woe as the crowd chants for Aries. Neville avoids a slide then catches Perkins with an enziguiri. Neville rams Perkins into the barricade then tosses him back inside and works a headlock. Perkins escapes and dropkicks Neville outside before hitting a chicken wing gutbuster for a nearfall. They trade strikes until Perkins catches Neville on his shoulders and lands the detonation kick. Perkins then tries for the knee bar but Neville blocks it and grabs the tights on a rollup for the win (5:50) **3/4. After the match, Charly asks Neville what he plans to do next. He says its funny how people want to talk to you after leaving bodies laying behind. He then chastises Americans for making fun of his accent, thinking is personality is bland, and face not made of Monday Night RAW while getting the “what” treatment from the crowd. Neville then tells us Americans we are too ignorant to appreciate him and that he will show us he is the King of the Cruiserweights when he beats Rich Swann tomorrow night on “205 Live.”
Thoughts: Perkins looked really good in the ring here. He also took most of the match on offense as Neville barely did anything at all. Neville’s heel persona here is not much in the ring as its all strikes and restholds, apparently. The crowd did not care about this other than Aries on commentary but they are at least trying to get a heel over that isnt Daivari or Dar so that’s good.
Clips of Rusev & Jinder Mahal attacking Enzo Amore at Sensitivity Training last week on RAW. After the break, Big Cass & Enzo, in a wheelchair head out to the ramp. We are also shown a tweet of Enzo in the trainer’s room last week after getting attacked as is thigh is all bruised. Enzo talks about being a certified G and calls Jinder a “chicken.” Big Cass then tells both men if they have a problem with Enzo, they then have a problem with him and that’s something they do not want to have. Rusev & Lana come out then Jinder comes out behind them as he slaps Enzo across the face. Rusev & Jinder surround Cass on the apron but Enzo gets out of his chair to take Jinder down then Cass clotheslines Rusev outside. Jinder is in the wheelchair as Cass launches Enzo at him and he falls down. Cass boots Rusev off the apron as Cass & Enzo are left standing tall as the others retreat.
I thought this was a weak segment with a bad promo from Enzo. It really died with the crowd. This feud really does not seem to be going anywhere and has not done any favors for those involved besides Jinder, who gets to be on RAW now.
Darren Young & Bo Dallas w/ Bob Backlund vs. Shining Stars
Primo and Young go back-and-forth briefly but then Strowman comes out with a Christmas tree. Bo runs at him but gets hit with a tree. Strowman takes everyone else outside and tosses the stairs at Bo & The Shining Stars as the crowd starts a “thank you, Strowman” chant.
Thoughts: Just a segment to get Strowman over as a crazed monster. The four guys he destroyed are of little use other than putting people over. The actual match lasted under a minute.
Braun Strowman vs. Seth Rollins
Strowman launches Rollins across the ring to start. Rollins pulls the ropes down as Strowman falls outside then he flies out with a tope. Back in the ring, Strowman runs over Rollinswith a shoulderblock then knocks him down with a clubbing forearm to the chest. Rollins fights back then hits a pair of springboard knee smashes that stun Strowman but gets caught coming off the top and rammed into the corner. Rollins dodges an attack and hits a blockbuster off the top rope and tries for the Pedigree but Strowman counters as he backdrops Rollins to the floor. Strowman runs Rollins over but Zayn’s music plays. Strowman stares at the ramp looking for Zayn, who comes from the crowd and hits Strowman from behind. Zayn rams Strowman into the post a few times and sets up for a charging attack but Strowman screams and then chases Zayn through the crowd as the match is ruled a DQ (3:40) *3/4. Back inside, Jericho slides in and hits Rollins with a Codebreaker. A few referees come out to check on Rollins but Jericho hits a second Codebreaker before leaving.
Thoughts: Fun while it lasted. Both guys in the match needed to be protected and it also hypes up next week’s last man standing match between Zayn and Strowman.
Owens is watching Rollins on the mat from the monitor backstage as Charly comes up to ask about preparing against Reigns. Owens says he stopped paying attention to Charly as soon as she talked but said his friend took out Reigns only friend and tonight, Jericho & himself will become the United States Champion. Jericho joins him as they talk about being both the Universal and United States Champion as Owens wants to leave because Charly is annoying him.
Emmalina will be premiering soon as she narrated her own vignette.
Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows vs. Golden Truth
Goldust beats on Anderson and tosses him in the corner. R-Truth tags in and hits a hip toss and a leg drop. Anderson backs Truth in the corner as Gallows tags in and fires away. Anderson is back in as he grabs a chinlock while the crowd gets behind Truth. Anderson takes Truth down with a Sick Kick for two as Truth is being neutralized in the opposing corner. Truth fights back with a leg lariat then makes the tag as Goldust runs wild on Anderson. He hits a snap powerslam then tosses Anderson into the barricade outside. They head back in but Gallows provides a distraction as Andesron rolls up Goldust and gets the win as Graves notes how Gallows & Anderson are heading to the “pay window” (3:50) *1/2.
Thoughts: The action was fine and Goldust looked the best he has in a while here as this feud will continue.
Ariya Daivari vs. Rich Swann
Aries is back on commentary here. Daivari attacks Swann as the bell rings and stomps a mudhole in the corner. Swann escapes but misses a dropkick as Daivari catches him with a neckbreaker. Swann manages to avoid a frog splash then lands a double stomp before putting Daivari away with a roundhouse kick (1:34). After the match, Charly catches Swann on the ramp and asks him about Neville. Swann calls him a “royal sour puss” in a line that went over like a fart in church then tells Neville if its a fight he wants, its a fight he will get. Neville then attacks Swann from behind and drags him into the ring where he hits a Red Arrow on Swann’s back as Cole hypes their match tomorrow night on “205 Live.”
Thoughts: This was used to put over tomorrow night’s Cruiserweight Title match. Swann’s “royal sourpuss” line was among one of the worst I’ve heard from a WWE performer in quite some time, which is really saying something.
Charly is backstage with Daivari, who blames that “scoundrel” Jack Gallagher for his loss. Gallagher then comes in with a suit and tie as he challenges Daivari to a duel as Daivari wants to know if he is Alexander Hamilton. Gallagher pulls out a glove and slaps Daivari across the face before leaving as Daivari is pissed as this sets up a match for next week. Gallagher remains a breath of fresh air, especially since RAW currently has a lot of cold babyface characters.
We get a brief video package on Goldberg beating Lesnar at Survivor Series and when he declared himself as part of the Royal Rumble match.
WWE United States Title Match: Kevin Owens vs. Roman Reigns (c)
Owens stalls to start off the match. The crowd does a dueling chant for Reigns as Owens grabs a side headlock. Owens bails after getting hit then they trade strikes until Reigns kicks Owens down. Jericho comes out to distract Reigns as that allows Owens to hit a DDT for a nearfall. We head to break then return with Owens still in control. Reigns fights back and hits a few clotheslines. He tries his corner clotheslines but gets kicked down as Owens follows with a cannonball for a two count. Owens kicks Reigns in the back then grabs a chinlock. Reigns finally escapes but gets tossed outside where Owens follows and rams Reigns into the barricade. Reigns comes back with a Drive By then rams Owens into the barricade before heading back inside and hitting ten corner clotheslines. Reigns gets two with a Samoan Drop then Owens rolls out on the apron to lure him then gets two with a lungblower. Reigns hangs on to the ropes as Owens went for a Pop-Up Powerbomb then they go back-and-forth until Reigns gets two with a sitout powerbomb. Both men are down as Jericho rallies behind his best friend. Reigns is up first but misses a Superman Punch as Owens gets two with a rollup but Reigns connects with a second attempt and that almost gets him the win. Reigns sets up for the spear but Jericho distracts him from the apron and Owens hits the Codebreaker for two. Rollins runs out and beats on Jericho before hitting a Pedigree on the floor. Owens heads out and super kicks Rollins but heads inside and walks into a spear as Reigns gets the win (16:24) ***. After the match, Rollins and Reigns briefly celebrate then Rollins does the “suck it” taunt before hitting Owens with a Pedigree. Reigns heads outside to spear Jericho after that to close out the show.
Thoughts: I liked this better than their match at Roadblock. I’m not keen on having Owens lose right before they face off for the title at the Royal Rumble, especially since the stipulation there is that Jericho will be kept in a cage so he cannot interfere, but they played into the story of Owens/Jericho having problems and continue to tease Rollins and Reigns getting closer on the same page.
Final Thoughts: Not much of a show this week. There was a lot of backstage stuff here and unfortunately a lot of bad promos from the babyface performers. Both title matches were good anyway. While RAW did a great job building up heels, it continues to fail at making any compelling babyfaces for them to feud with. Its a problem that needs to be corrected for 2017. Without babyface wrestlers that the crowd can get behind, expect live crowds to check out going forward.