12/21/15 – Andrew Berg – @WrestleRosters
Dean Ambrose def. Sheamus in a Cage Match
WWE can’t have a title change and a Vince McMahon beat down in the main event of Raw every week, so the show was due for a bit of a come down. Still, it was clear that WWE is committed to making Raw feel more important and less formulaic. The result was another good show, even if it did not reach the fever pitch of last week’s title win by Roman Reigns.
Once again, Stephanie McMahon opened the show. She tried to put on a happy face and put her family’s losses to Reigns get in her way. Reigns came to the ring and showed more self-assurance when he pushed her buttons and made her even more angry. As a form of punishment, she booked his “family” into difficult matches. The Usos had to face New Day in a handicap match and Ambrose vs. Sheamus would take place inside a cage.
The League of Nations spent most of the show ganging up on adversaries to regain some credibility after Sheamus lost the WWE Title. The beat up the Usos before the main event to keep them away from the ring. As Ambrose made his way into the cage, Sheamus delivered a Brogue Kick and the rest of the LON pounded on him outside the cage. It took him several minutes to recover in the match. When he did, he sprung off of the cage wall with a rebound clothesline. Sheamus did not stay down long, though, and responded with a giant White Noise off of the top rope for a two count.
Sheamus tried to escape and Ambrose crotched him on the top rope. Ambrose could not escape because the LON blocked him, so he hit a flying elbow on Sheamus off the top of the cage instead. He again neared escape, only for Alberto Del Rio to slam the cage door on him. Reigns ran to ringside to help even the odds and attached the LON with a chair. He threw the chair into the cage for Ambrose and he pummeled Sheamus with it and hit him with Dirty Deeds. Ambrose got to the top of the cage very slowly and Sheamus caught up to him. They traded punches and headbutts while hanging on the outside of the cage until Ambrose fell to victory. Sheamus finally made his way down and Reigns promptly hit him with a spear.
It was a little clumsy to have both wrestlers hanging from the outside when either one could simply drop to the floor for the win. In any case, it was fun to have a ladder match in the main event. It made me care much more than I would have if the match had been a 4-on-2 handicap match between the LON and Ambrose/Reigns. I also get the booking decision because it will only enrage Stephanie and the Authority more. Expect a more concrete, evil plot from them next week to get some heat back on the top heels.
Kevin Owens def. Dolph Ziggler
Owens lost his mind when Neville won the Slammy for Breakout Superstar of the Year. Ziggler laughed at his meltdown and Owens said the only award Ziggler could win would be for “washed up has-been of the year.” That led to a match between the two.
Owens got off to a great start, wearing Ziggler down with chinlocks and other ways to use his size advantage. Owens finally hit his inverted superplex for a near fall on the first big spot of the match. Ziggler answered with a superkick that knocked Owens to the floor. When Owens got back in, Ziggler hit a famouser from the second rope for a two count. Ziggler looked for another famouser, but Owens countered into a Pop-Up Powerbomb for a nice victory. The match developed at a very good pace and built up nicely to the finish. Owens and Ziggler have great chemistry together and showed once again that they know how to maximize their minutes in the ring.
The Usos def. New Day
Before their handicap match started, New Day expressed dismay that the Usos won the fan vote for Tag Team of the Year. Their point was fair- while the Usos sat out for about six months, New Day were busy winning the Tag Team Titles twice and becoming one of the best parts of Raw. To get revenge on the fans, they threatened to spoil Star Wars, but Kofi Kingston stopped Xavier Woods because he hadn’t made time to see the movie yet.
New Day used their numbers advantage to tag in and out and wear down Jimmy Uso. When the Usos set up for their double plancha, New Day collectively ran up the ramp to get out of the way. The Usos went for the move again a few minutes later, but Big E tripped Jey to block it. Instead, Jimmy used a roll-up on Woods to get the surprise pin. The victory likely puts the Usos in line for another Tag Team Title shot in the near future.
Wyatt Family def. Kane and Team ECW
With Bray Wyatt slated to face the returning Kane in a singles match, the Wyatt Family ambushed Kane almost immediately and caused a DQ. The Dudleys and Tommy Dreamer ran in to make the save and the match restarted as an eight-man tag. The Dudleys hit a Wassup Headbutt on Luke Harper and a 3D on Eric Rowan. A run-in from Braun Strowman broke up their momentum and Harper downed Devon with a lariat to get the win. It would seem that the Wyatts-ECW rivalry has run its course. I suspect that Kane’s inclusion was the start of something new for that team.
Alberto Del Rio def. Jack Swagger
Del Rio dominated the match until Swagger ducked a superkick and hit a Swagger Bomb for a two count. Del Rio reversed momentum quickly and worked his way into a double-foot tree of woe stomp to get another decisive win over Swagger. After the match, the LON ganged up on Swagger and Sheamus hit him with a Brogue Kick. The match was primarly on the card to get heat on the LON, so it served its purpose.
Rusev def. Neville
Despite Neville’s Slammy win earlier in the night, he faced a tough challenge in his singles match. He had trouble flying early in the match because the LON stood outside the ring to threaten him if he came into their area. Rusev hit a tough looking release belly-to-belly suplex on the floor. Neville somehow recovered and responded with a moonsault from teh top rope to the floor. He tried the Red Arrow, but took too long. Rusev got to his feet and hit a superkick as a prelude to the Accolade. Neville tapped out, but the LON ganged up on him and also hit him with a Brogue Kick. It will be interesting to see if the victims of the LON get together to prevent more gang attacks.
Becky Lynch def. Brie Bella
Becky set out to prove she could get a clean win without the help of Charlotte or Ric Flair. It looked good for her until Brie started using Daniel Bryan-style kicks to make her comeback. Becky continued to target Brie’s arm and eventually countered a roll-up into a disarmer to get the victory. I believe that there is a long-term story in the works involving Becky and Charlotte. One problem with patient storytelling is that there are some weeks in which nothing happens.
Other Slammy Awards
-Ric Flair presented the Match of the Year award to the Brock Lesnar-Undertaker finale at Hell in a Cell. It was a good match, but both the Royal Rumble main event and Cena-Owens I were clearly better.
-The Miz presented the “This is Awesome” award that went to The Rock and Ronda Rousey. The best part of the segment was Miz accepting it on behalf of his fellow A-Listers. The award served as a reminder for how much WWE lost when Rousey was stripped of her air of invincibility.
-The most predictable moment of the night came when R-Truth parodied Steve Harvey and inadvertently gave Paige the Diva of the Year Slammy before correcting himself and giving it to Nikki Bella. To her credit, Nikki gave a great acceptance speech about how the award reflects on all women in wrestling, from the boardroom down to the fans.
-Lesnar and Undertaker won for Rivalry of the Year, which didn’t make it onto the show.
-Sting won Surprise Return of the Year, presented by Santa Bo Dallas.
-R-Truth’s LOL of the Year for thinking he was in the Wrestlemania ladder match was deserved. That was legitimately one of the funniest moments of the year.
-Kalisto’s SDS from the ladder at TLC won OMG of the Year. It was a strange category because it lumped in moves, matches, and stories. Even so, it was a good win for him.
-Seth Rollins emerged on crutches to accept his well-earned Superstar of the Year Slammy. He got some cheers from the fans as he vowed to “reinvent” himself and get the title back.