Bayless’ RAW Rundown 12/21/15


December 21, 2015
From the Target Center in Minneapolis, MN
Your hosts are Byron Saxton, JBL and Michael Cole

We are shown last week’s events that led to Roman Reigns knocked out Vince McMahon and more importantly, defeated Sheamus for the WWE World Title.

The show starts by showing us the “Slammy Awards”on the stage before Stephanie McMahon heads out to the ring. She tells us that she is happy to be here, despite Roman Reigns attacking her husband and father because McMahons do not wallow in self-pity but rather rise to the occasion. She then talks about nothing letting her down as Roman Reigns’ music hits as he heads through the crowd holding the WWE World Title belt. He gets in the ring and tells us that everyone seems to be in a good mood tonight, especially because they are celebrating a new WWE Champion. Reigns then talks about how the League of Nations could attack him at any minute and tells Steph that she might be like her father and try to make him “sweat.” However, Reigns tells her that he doesnt sweat her father or husband, who he has not seen since laying him out at TLC. He then wants Stephanie to tell HHH that he is not hard to find and now the one holding the WWE World Title. Stephanie then orders him out of “her ring.” She gets more pissed as he smiles and laughs then yells and screeches non-stop as Reigns tells her she sounds like a little kid. Stephanie then tells him to leave before she makes him. Reigns said he is in a good mood and doesnt want her to lose his temper…but the fans want him to stay. Stephanie then goes mental and says she owns the building as Reigns asks the crowd if they want to see her get really mad so he turns his back to her as Stephanie orders him to get back in when he leaves, irate that she is being disrespected. She screams some more then tells Reigns he will watch his family be defenseless as the Usos take on the New Day in a 3 vs. 2 handicapped match and have Dean Ambrose take on Sheamus in a steel cage as Reigns is celebrating with the fans in the crowd. She also never told him about any consequences that would occur if he did interfere, making the line about watching his family suffer seem idiotic. She then tells Reigns there will be hell to pay as the segment ends. Bad segment to open the show. Imagine flicking around TV and landing on Stephanie screeching like she was here. Who would continue to watch if you were not a week-to-week fan to begin with? And besides that, the matches she made did not seem all that out of the ordinary: a handicapped match and a cage match, which is not out of the ordinary, especially eight days removed from a gimmick match-based show.

Dolph Ziggler comes out to introduce the “Breakout Star of the Year” award. Nominees are Kevin Owens, Neville, Charlotte, Tyler Breeze, Braun Strowman. After the break, the winner is announced and its Neville. He comes out and is happy about receiving the award and said that it was a huge shock to win this and thanks the fans until Kevin Owens interrupts. Owens tells Neville it should come to shock that he won because it was crap and he should have won. Owens then tells Neville to leave…and he does without incident. Owens yells about beating John Cena on his first night then yells at Ziggler, who was on the side laughing. Owens then tells Ziggler the only way he would win a Slammy is if they had a “Has-been of the Year” catergory and that triggers a brawl between the two that gets broken up quickly. First off, Neville came off as a complete wimp here. A face getting told by a heel to leave and doing so without a fight is not going to get that face over. And, as far as Ziggler/Owens, at least that can potentially lead to something.

Bray Wyatt w/ Wyatt Family vs. Kane

Bray hammers away to start but runs into a boot. Kane lands punches in the corner but Luke Harper distracts Kane, allowing Bray to attack. The Wyatt Family then jumps up on the apron and the action spills outside where it is ruled a DQ (0:54) NR. Its 4-1 against Kane until the Dudley Boyz and Tommy Dreamer run out to even the score and they brawl as we head to break.

Thoughts: I thought the ECW guys were done feuding with the Wyatts but that is not the case. Subbing out Rhyno for Kane is not for the best and we have already seen enough of Kane vs. Wyatt to last a lifetime and Kane already beat them all with his brother, the Undertaker, so why are they mixing it up again?

Wyatt Family vs. Kane & Dudley Boyz & Tommy Dreamer

This match is joined-in-progress. Harper uses the Gator Roll on Dreamer but Dreamer escapes and tags Kane, who cleans house. Bubba tags himself in and backdrops Harper. He goes for a cover but Rowan & Bray break that up as a melee ensues. Harper and Bubba are in the ring as the Dudley’s hit the Wassup Drop. Bubba tells D-Von to get the tables before hitting Rowan with a 3D. Strowman takes them down then Kane takes out himself and Strowman before Harper hits D-Von with a discus clothesline for the win (2:48) 1/4*

Thoughts: A nothing match. I really do not have more to add other than that but this is the third time in the past eight days the Wyatt Family have defeated the ECW guys.

Santino Marella comes out to present the “LOL Moment of the Year” award. The nominees are New Day/Edge & Christian music battle, Bushwhackers Hall of Fame speech, Miz’s commercial premiere, HHH & Stephanie dancing with the New Day, and R-Truth finding out he was not in the Money in the Bank ladder match. R-Truth was the winner and Santino accepted on his behalf. R-Truth then came out looking for his award as Santino distracts him before running away as R-Truth chases. The Santino/R-Truth bit was okay for lower midcard comedy but it wasn’t great by any means.

Santa Claus (Mick Foley) tells us that the nicest boys and girls come from the “WWE Universe” as his daughter Noelle and younger son play his elves. He ends by wishing us all a goodnight. Just a quick holiday segment before Christmas.

Paul Heyman comes out to present the “OMG Moment of the Year” award. He said that his client, Brock Lesnar, should win every award. The nominees for this category were Seth Rollins cashing in his MiTB title shot at WrestleMania 31, Brock Lesnar destroying J&J Security and their Cadillac, Kalisto hitting the Salida del Sol through the ladder at TLC, Wyatt Family taking out the Undertaker, and Sheamus cashing in his MiTB title shot at Survivor Series. The winner was announced after the break as Kalisto. He comes out in a suit, wearing his mask, as he smiles while holding the award. He says that moments like this motivate him before leading the crowd into the “Lucha” chant.

Kevin Owens vs. Dolph Ziggler

Both guys aggressively go back-and-forth to start. Cole said he talked to Ziggler earlier today, who claimed to have inadvertently superkicked Dean Ambrose on Smackdown, thinking it was Owens. Back to the match as Ziggler fights off Owens until running into an elbow. Owens yells out that he is the breakout star then heads outside and rams Ziggler into the barricade. Owens gets a nearfall then puts on a chinlock as we see the brawl that set up this match shown in an insert. Ziggler breaks up the chinlock with a jawbreaker. Owens comes right back with a gutbuster before getting two with a senton. Cole plugs the “Super Smackdown” live tomorrow as Owens stays in control. He tries to put Ziggler away but fails then goes back to the chinlock. Ziggler breaks free and hits a corner splash bur runs into a clothesline. Ziggler then hits a DDT as we head to break. The match returns as Owens hits Ziggler with a top rope Fisherman’s suplex for two. Ziggler avoids getting hit with the Pop-up Powerbomb then super kicks Owens out of the ring. Owens avoids Ziggler, who hits his head on the announcers table. Owens rolls Ziggler inside but gets hit with the Fameasser for a nearfall. Both guys are stunned but as Ziggler charges, Owens catches him and hits the Pop-up Powerbomb for the win (12:10) ***.

Thoughts: Good match. With Ziggler’s losing streak and being called a “has-been” earlier in the show and kicking Ambrose last week, I am getting the feeling Ziggler is turning heel soon. And despite getting cheers from the crowd, a turn is probably the best thing for him at the moment in the WWE. He is really stale as a character.

Stephanie McMahon comes out and apologizes for her behavior earlier. She then comes out to announce the winner of the “Superstar of the Year” award, which she says for the first time ever was selected via fan voting. After the break the winner is announced and it’s Seth Rollins. His music hits but we do not see Rollins. They cut again to the entrance as his music continues to play as Rollins comes out on crutches. He says there was no other option for the award as he runs down all of his accomplishments. Rollins then said after one wrong landing it disappeared before declaring that in 2016, he will redesign and rebuild himself in order to reclaim the title he never lost. Decent enough promo by Rollins, who is really missed right now.

Cole then breaks the news that John Cena will return next week to face Alberto Del Rio.

Jack Swagger vs. Alberto Del Rio

Swagger starts by firing away in the corner. Del Rio turns the table until Swagger escapes and hits a clothesline. The League of Nations are shown at ringside as Del Rip snaps Swagger’s neck off of the top rope. He sends Swagger down then tosses him into the barricade as we head to break. A mild”USA” chant breaks out as Del Rio stays in control. He gets two with a DDT but misses a kick as Swagger hits him with an inverted atomic drop. He gets two off of a Swagger Bomb as JBL said in the AWA it was called a “Vader Bomb” while taking about seeing Greg Gagne backstage. Back to the match as Swagger ends up in the Tree-of-woe and Del Rio comes off of the top rope with a stomp for the win (7:09) *3/4. After the match, the League of Nations beats on Swagger and stand over his body with their arms raised in unison.

Thoughts: Dull match that the crowd did not care about. The beatdown after the match was at least an attempt to put over the League of Nations, who have not been built up well at all.

Mark Henry comes out to present the “The Hero in All of Us” Award. The nominees are Natalya, Roman Reigns, Titus O’Neill, and John Cena. The winner is John Cena, who was not in attendance as Henry accepts the award on his behalf. The crowd wanted to see Cena. Henry then tells us that on behalf of the WWE, they do not partake in charity for awards but that it comes from their hearts. Nice speech by Henry.

Santa Claus then comes out to announce the “Surprise Return of the Year.” This is Bo Dallas dressed as Santa, who revealed himself as the real Santa Claus. The nominees are the Dudley Boyz, Chris Jericho, Alberto Del Rio, Kane, and Sting. After the break, the winner is announced as Sting, who was not here to accept. I thought the whole gag with Dallas as Santa was incredibly lame.

The New Day are in the ring. Xavier is pissed because Sting won a Slammy and did not care enough to show up as Kofi tells the fans they failed for not voting the New Day as the “Tag Team of the Year.” Big E wants to spoil Star Wars and is about to but Kofi stops him because he has not yet seen the film. The Usos come out for their match, as Cole notes this was the second straight year they won the Slammy for “Tag Team of the Year.”

New Day vs. The Usos

Match starts with the Usos working over Kofi, who gets pulled to safety following an attack. The New Day head up the ramp to avoid getting taken out by dives as we head to break. We return with the Usos beating on Xavier. Kofi kicks Jimmy on the back of the head from the apron as the New Day stomp him in the corner. Xavier plays the trombone as Cole tells us the New Day will defend the Tag Titles against the Lucha Dragons tomorrow night on Smackdown. The New Day uses frequent quick tags as they beat on Jimmy. Big E tries a superplex but Jimmy shoves him off and hits a corkscrew senton before making the tag. Jey runs wild then reverses a rollup to put Xavier away for the win (10:58) **.

Thoughts: So much for Reigns’ relatives being punished here. The crowd was not into the match. I do not even remember any New Day chants. The Usos have not been over since teaming again and they could also benefit from a gimmick change.

R-Truth comes out to announce the nominees for the “Diva of the Year” award. They are Nikki Bella, Naomi, Paige, Sasha Banks, and Charlotte. After the break the winner is announced as Paige. She comes out smiling and cannot believe she won the award. However, R-Truth tells her she made a mistake and that she was not the winner so he announces the reall winner, Nikki Bella. Nikki comes out and hugs Paige then tells her to stay. Nikki thanks the fans for the award then dedicates to all of the women in the WWE, no matter the position. Paige and Nikki hug again and walk off holding hands. Interesting.

Neville vs. Rusev w/ League of Nations

Miz is on commentary as he continues to scout Neville. Match starts with Neville landing several kicks until Rusev knocks him down. Rusev overpowers Neville and stomps him in the corner as he continues to scream the name of his faction. Rusev uses a chinlock but Neville escapes and hits an enziguiri. He tries to run Rusev over and fails but hits a springboard missile dropkick. Neville then tries a plancha but gets caught and rammed into the post as we head to break. We return with Neville dodging a charge then heading up top as he flies outside with a moonsault block to take down Rusev.  Neville dodges a kick and connects with one of his own. He heads up top but takes too long then jumps off and lands while Rusev winds up and hits a super kick. Rusev then gets the win quickly with the Accolade (8:03) **. Miz then leaves to present for the Slammys as the League of Nations take out Neville.

Thoughts: They tried but the crowd was not into this match at all. And the “Breakout Star of the Year” looks pathetic once again tonight. His feud with the Miz does not bode well for anyone either.

Miz gives the nominees for the “This is Awesome” Moment of the Year. The nominees are Lesnar destroying J&J Security’s Cadillac, Randy Orton’s RKO at WrestleMania 31, Divas Revolution, The Shield hitting Orton with a triple powerbomb, Rock & Ronda Rousey at WrestleMania 31. The winner is announced after the break as the Rock & Ronda Rousey as Miz accepts on their behalf and plugs his movie before walking away, holding up a copy of the film.

We get a look at the newest edition of “Muscle & Fitness” with Charlotte on the cover. The photos are touched up to a ridiculous level.

Brie Bella vs. Becky Lynch w/ Charlotte

Becky gets a few rollups to start. Brie stalls for a bit then boots Becky before going to work in the corner. Brie snaps Becky’s arm off of the top rope then targets that for a bit. Brie then hits the Yes kicks then yells Brie mode after hitting a basement dropkick. Brie applies a chinlock then goes back to working the arm. Team BAD is shown watching backstage as Brie works an armbar. Becky fights out and hits a leg lariat while selling her arm. Brie hits a missile dropkick for two but Becky flips her over and puts on the Disarmer for the win (5:12) *1/2. After the match, Charlotte celebrates by holding up her belt then yanks up the injured arm of Becky in an attempt to celebrate.

Thoughts: Brie looked the best she has probably ever here. She was passable tonight and they worked a fine match for the time allotted. The Charlotte/Becky stuff is dumb and makes Becky look like a naive dope for sticking around with here.

Ric Flair is out to present the “Match of the Year” award. Nominees are Lesnar vs. Cena vs. Rollins from the Royal Rumble, Sting vs. HHH at WrestleMania 31, Cena vs. Owens at Elimination Chamber, Reigns vs. Ziggler vs. Del Rio vs. Owens from RAW, and Lesnar vs. Undertaker at Hell in a Cell. The winner is announced after the break and it was Lesnar vs. Undertaker. Heyman comes out to accept the award on behalf of Lesnar.

The camera cuts backstage to the League of Nations taking out the Usos. Sheamus takes them both out with Brogue Kicks then says “two down, one to go.” At least they are trying to portray the League of Nations as a threat.

Before the match, Cole plugs that Big Show will be on ESPN SportsCenter at 9pm EST to hype up Wednesday’s “Tribute to the Troops” show. Also, Ambrose will be defending the Intercontinental Title tomorrow on Smackdown against Kevin Owens and Dolph Ziggler.

Steel Cage Match: Sheamus vs. Dean Ambrose

Sheamus Brogue Kicks Ambrose as he gets on the steps as the League of Nations rolls Ambrose into the cage. The door is locked as Sheamus rams Ambrose into the cage. Sheamus beats on Ambrose for a minute then climbs the cage. Ambrose gets up and yanks Sheamus down as an audible “This is Boring” chant breaks out. Ambrose ducks a Brogue Kick and backdrops Sheamus into the cage. Ambrose fires away then catches Sheamus with a clothesline. Stephanie is watching backstage on a monitor then we see Ambrose climb the cage. Sheamus cuts him off and climbs himself as they are now battling on the top rope. Sheamus takes him off with the White Noise but that only gets two. I guess pinfalls are acceptable in this match too. Sheamus climbs the cage again but Ambrose grabs on to his leg. They are fighting on the top rope then Sheamus gets knocked off. Ambrose climbs as the League of Nations now surround him. Ambrose then leaps off the top of the cage and hits Sheamus with an elbow for a two count. Ambrose now crawls towards the door but Del Rio slams it shut on his face. Reigns then runs out and spears Del Rio and beats on the rest of the League of Nations. Sheamus climbs up tp then Reigns sees this and meets him with a chair and tosses that into the ring. Ambrose grabs it first and beats Sheamus before hitting the Dirty Deeds. Ambrose slowly climbs up top as Sheamus meets him. They trade strikes sitting on top of the cage then climb down as Ambrose jumps off after getting hit with a headbutt and wins the match (11:04) **1/4.

Thoughts: I was not a fan of this match. The psychology was a mess and making it both pinfall and escape rules made it tough to build to a finish. Plus, there were no stakes on the line and this is not part feud. Speaking of the finish, I hated it as the winner won after getting headbutted off of the cage. Makes it less important. With Reigns coming out on top, Stephanie’s roadblocks placed in front of him failed so its obvious she will have to try harder.

Backstage, Tom Phillips approaches Stephanie, who responds by slapping him down while telling him that is her reaction. The camera then cuts to the ramp with Ambrose and Reigns celebrating.

Final Thoughts: This was a chore to watch. The Slammys stuff was not fun and a drag for the most part. I also think the premise no longer works today. It was fun in the 1980s when the company was willing to poke fun at itself and had larger-than-life characters but today, the WWE is too self-aware and more about branding than anything else.

Another thing that stood out here was the opening segment. Unfortunately, it was for the wrong reasons. It was just awful and all due to Stephanie. Watching her act like Vince McMahon when he never gets here comeuppance is tiresome to say the least.

Roman was somewhat of an afterthought here on his first RAW as champ. I’m sure once the holidays end that will change a lot but I expected more of a focus on him. He wasn’t getting booed but at the same time, not getting close to cheers comparable to a main event guy.

On the plus side, they at least tried to present the League of Nations as something more than four guys tossed together on a whim. And Owens vs. Ziggler was fun but the company needs fresh blood and compelling feuds. And to do that, you need to present your talent in a far better manner than they did tonight.