11/30/15 – Andrew Berg – @WrestleRosters
Roman Reigns def. Sheamus by DQ; Sheamus Remains WWE Champion
Early in the show, Sheamus gloated about his win over Reigns and coined the catchphrase “Sheamus 5:15 says I just kicked your arse.” He celebrated in the ring with New Day until Reigns ran in and laid him out with a Superman Punch. Grouping Sheamus with New Day is clever on a couple of levels- it keeps the likable New Day heelish and it makes an otherwise boring Sheamus promo more palatable.
The match resulted in a title shot for Reigns later in the show, but with several strings attached. Reigns had to beat Sheamus in under the 5:15 length of his own title reign, or else he would lose his shot at TLC, as would Dean Ambrose, the Usos, and the Lucha Dragons, for the Intercontinental and Tag Team Titles, respectively. The point of the stipulation was to create some intrigue in a match that seemed to otherwise have an obvious result. It might have worked had the match not gone on in the second hour of Raw, which would be an absurd place for a title change.
When the match started, Reigns went for quick offense and covers with an exciting sense of urgency. Sheamus used his momentum against him and threw him in the barricade outside. Reigns hit a boot, clothesline, and Samoan drop for a near fall. With time ticking down, he set up for a spear, but Rusev, King Barrett, and Alberto Del Rio interfered to cause a disqualification. Sheamus reintroduced his new teammates as the League of Nations, and an eight-man tag was scheduled for later in the show that pitted them against Reigns, Ambrose, and the Usos.
League of Nations and New Day def. Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, and the Usos
Before the crazy eight-man main event started, New Day announced that they intended to join the heel team to make it a 7-on-4 match. An early knee injury to Jimmy Uso further depleted the babyfaces. Jey Uso took his turn accepting a beating from the heels before he made a hot tag to Reigns. That led to a brief moment of momentum for the babyfaces before the numbers again caught up with them. Ambrose tagged in for another rally that led to a fracas outside the ring. He found some success against Sheamus until Sheamus rebounded with a Brogue Kick to get the pin.
The jury is out on the new League of Nations stable. It appears that they will maintain some alignment with The Authority and carry on the quantity over quality strategy to replace Seth Rollins. Each member of the group has his strengths, and Del Rio particularly has shown that he can be one of the best wrestlers in the world when engaged. On the other hand, the angle feels a bit thrown together and it’s not terribly clear why the supporting cast would want to align with Sheamus.
Dudley Boys and Tommy Dreamer Wrestled The Wyatt Family to a No Contest
The Dudleys cut one of their better promos since returning to WWE on the Wyatts. They said that they respected them for the losses they dealt last week, but that the Wyatts didn’t finish the job. In response, they revealed four tables, each with a Wyatt Family member’s name. When the Wyatts encircled the ring, Dreamer joined his old ECW compadres with a Kendo Stick and kept the heels at bay.
Wyatt stayed on the outside while his teammates sided against the ECW squad. Dreamer looked spry early in the match, but he was quickly overwhelmed by the big heels. Bubba got a hot tag and a near fall on a big side slam. The match quickly deteriorated into a brawl and the 4-on-3 advantage put the Wyatts in control. Just when it looked like they were going to put Bubba through a table, he sprung to his feet and shoved Wyatt off of the apron and through a table.
It was a sensible way to build some interest in a fun and logical feud. The Dudleys needed to get some credibility back and did so in a way that didn’t hurt the Wyatts. In the big picture, Bubba’s straightforward promo style will help keep Wyatt from taking the rivalry adrift into a mystical wasteland.
Alberto Del Rio def. Goldust
Zeb Colter delivered a promo in which he called all of the fans haters for not embracing MexAmerica. Del Rio looked to continue the verbal assault, but Goldust jumped him. He looked very good for a couple of minutes and downed Del Rio with a nice spinebuster. He slipped on a bulldog attempt, though, and Del Rio polished him off with his tree of woe stomp. Del Rio put him in a Cross-Armbreaker after the bell and held him there until Jack Swagger made the save and Del Rio retreated. It’s amazing that Swagger has so much support after being on ice for many months. He can definitely wrestle, so it’s a welcome reintroduction.
Ryback def. Rusev by Count-out
Rusev reintroduced Lana on Miz TV and they agreed that their past indiscretions were forgiven when Rusev proposed. Since they are both better with each other and seemed adrift after their split, it was all the explanation that was needed. Ryback cut them off and made some borderline sexist comments about Lana’s promiscuity. He used athleticism against Rusev early with a nice dropkick and some power offense. They wrestled to the outside, where Ryback flung Rusev into the ring steps. The steps bounced off of Lana and she fell to the ground. Rather than continuing the fight, Rusev helped Lana back to her feet and took the loss. While I’m not particularly interested in Rusev and Ryback rekindling their rivalry, I like that the new League of Nations members seem to have their own storylines outside the main event.
Charlotte def. Becky Lynch
Charlotte was initially hesitant to accept Becky’s challenge, but ultimately relented when Becky told her to bring her dad to the ring with her. Becky worked Charlotte’s arm while Paige painted both of them as idealistic and gullible on commentary. Charlotte used her amazing core strength with her head scissors slams to get an advantage. When Becky started rolling, Charlotte feigned an ankle injury and rolled her up with a schoolgirl for the win. After the match, Charlotte said she was teaching Becky some tough love. There is no need for Charlotte to turn heel so quickly, so I hope that this was more of a tweener homage to her dad’s “dirtiest player in the game” reputation.
-Sasha Banks got a nice win over Brie Bella with the Banks statement, although it was clearly aided by interference and distractions from Tamina and Naomi. It seems more and more likely that the plan for Sasha is to keep her warm until the spot in the title picture opens up for her naturally.
-New Day attacked the Usos and Lucha Dragons during their #1 Contenders’ match with the intent of taking them both out of the title picture. It was a failed strategy, but it was a funny technicality nonetheless. Plus, anything that gets New Day in another segment makes Raw better.
-Dolph Ziggler got a surprisingly easy win over Tyler Breeze when he followed a series of pin attempts with a superkick. I’m not surprised that Ziggler got the pin back after Breeze beat him at Survivor Series, just surprised that it came so convincingly.
-Adam Rose debuted a gossip segment in which he sarcastically made fun of Rusev, Lana, Tyler Breeze, Summer Rae, and Dolph Ziggler. I’d like to see Rose find his niche, but this segment added nothing to the show.
-Titus O’Neil interrupted a Stardust vignette to wish the fans happy holidays. It might have just been a throwaway means to get O’Neil on the show. On the other hand, it could be the start of a new rivalry for Stardust, whose program with Cesaro is obviously on hold.