OPENING SEGMENT- odd
John Cena comes out to open the show. Yes, John Cena. The man who chose to represent Smackdown at Survivor Series. And yet all of his appearances over the past four months have been on Raw.
Cena starts with his usual long-winded saying of absolutely nothing but was interrupted by The Drifter, and being saved from an extra five minutes of John Cena waxing poetic and giving us a generic special holiday message made me pop. That’s probably the opposite of what they were hoping for.
The Drifter says that WWE stands for “Walk With Elias.” That was a great line. Then I couldn’t pay attention to anything else they said because I was distracted by a bunch of fans that someone somehow let on the hard-cam side. First there was a redhead with an afro and a goatee and mustache wearing the single ugliest Christmas-themed suit I have ever seen. It was green with red stockings and things all over it. Also, he had a matching tie. Next to him was a grown adult still carrying around his own toy championship belt- this one was a WCW World Heavyweight Title that he had spray-painted nWo on. Next to him were two people in full costume, one as the 1960s TV show Batgirl, and next to her was someone in what I guess was supposed to be a version The Scarecrow? I don’t know. I just know that their presence was very distracting to me.
Elias complained about always getting interrupted, which the fans in Chicago predictably responded to by chanting “CM PUNK!” Elias responded this by telling the crowd he was certain that CM Punk wasn’t going to interrupt him tonight, so the fans booed. When do you think they’ll realize that WWE never heads to Chicago anymore without prepared responses to CM Punk chants to make them all look like idiots?
Cena agreed to let The Drifter play. Cena and The Drifter went back and forth in a childish, annoying manner until The Drifter attempted to pick Cena’s nose so Cena gave in. The Drifter started to sing and his song inevitably dissed Chicago so Cena, who had just agreed to let The Drifter do his thing, interrupted him because Cena didn’t want The Drifter to make fun of Chicago. Well then why’d you let him sing, Cena? He comes out every single week and sings a song making fun of the city they’re in, so if you didn’t want him to insult the city, why’d you let him sing?
Cena says that every week he likes The Drifter’s songs until he inevitably calls the people in the crowd jerks, to which The Drifter responds by very sincerely telling Cena “I just feel like I speak the truth, you know?” The Drifter’s talking/singing has actually become one of my favorite parts of Raw every week, which is a not phrase I would have ever been able to even imagine myself saying at the beginning of the year.
Cena tells The Drifter that “they’re not being jerks. You’re being a jerk!” The Drifter responded to this by saying “you know… I’ve never thought of it that way” and apparently rethinks his life and says “well… it is Christmas,” and that he’d like to try his song again, if Chicago would be willing to give him a second the chance. The crowd booed this idea, which annoyed the hell out of me because everyone knows that the phrase “well… it is Christmas” is the giving someone a second chance equivalent of asking the don for a favor on the day of his daughter’s wedding. They have to give him a second chance!
At least John Cena understands this, and he tells The Drifter to give it another shot and The Drifter is all polite and then even lets Cena start to sing… and then he punches Cena right in the f*cking face (whih got a surprisingly small reaction) and I just laughed my ass off. And then Cena didn’t get up. THE F*CKING DRIFTER KNOCKED JOHN CENA OUT WITH ONE PUNCH!
Elias insults Cena and insults Chicago, then turns around to see Cena stirring so he beats him down some more, then challenges Cena to a match right now… and out comes a referee who calls JoJo over and tells her to announce that said match will start right now. He didn’t even ask Cena first. Kurt Angle just sent a referee out to the ring to order a match to start when one of the competitors- one who just got sucker-punched by the other guy, no less- couldn’t even stand up! He didn’t even get The Drifter’s stool out of the ring (giggle, giggle) before ordering the bell rung.
JOHN CENA vs. “THE DRIFTER” ELIAS SAMPSON- 6.5/10
Elias dominated the beginning of the match. They had a really scary moment where Elias went for the terrible Tree of Woe double-stomp but Cena fell off the turnbuckle so Elias almost gave him a shoot version of the move landing right on his heart.
Um… guys… The Drifter just slipped out of an attempted top-rope AA and hit Cena with an electric chair spun into a powerbomb. This got weirdly good and then Cena made his comeback and won. I was so totally behind The Drifter in this match, and I’m one of the people who usually likes Cena.
SAMOA JOE VIDEO PACKAGE- I guess these are going to be what they do instead of commercials for the first hour. At least this gave the next segment some context for potential new viewers.
KURT ANGLE, SETH ROLLINS, & JASON JORDAN BACKSTAGE- bad
This started with a shot of Kurt Angle decorating a Christmas Tree. While he’s still not actually doing his job, at least he’s not f*cking around on his phone. But really. I’m not a Christian so this is not my area of expertise, but don’t people usually make an effort to decorate their Christmas Trees by Christmas Eve? It’s 9:30 pm on Christmas Day! Isn’t it a little late for this?
First Jordan and then Rollins enter, one from stage right and the other from stage left. They both say they want matches with Samoa Joe tonight. Oh my G-d this has been going on for weeks now. How the f*ck not learned to deal with this during the week. What is so difficult for Kurt to just announce one morning that Rollins will get a match with Joe this week and Jason Jordan will get a match with Joe next week (or vice versa)? What does this lazy f*cker do all week?
Kurt points out to them that each time they try to fight Joe, Cesaro and Sheamus get in the way, so if they want to get at Joe, they’ll have to deal with Cesaro & Sheamus first. Here’s an idea Kurt? Why don’t you deal with them by just announcing that they’ll be stripped of their titles if they interfere or booking a cagematch or something like that? Instead, lazy Kurt wants them to team together. They don’t want to team together, but Kurt books them together anyway, and in a title match, too. Yes, Kurt, who keeps telling Jordan that he can’t be perceived as showing him any sort of favoritism, just gave his son a shot at the tag titles despite him having done nothing to earn it (in fact, Jason hasn’t won a match on TV in almost two months).
KURT ANGLE & ROMAN REIGNS BACKSTAGE- much better.
After Seth and Jason left, Roman Reigns showed up, and Kurt told him that he had booked him to defend his title against Samoa Joe tonight, which is a match he should have booked weeks ago.
CHARLY CARUSO INTERVIEWS BRIAN KENDRICK (& JACK GALLAGHER)- bad
I didn’t remember that either of these men was still employed. Charly asked Kendrick for his thoughts on his match with Hideo Itami tonight. Kendrick cut a very boring promo, but at least they’re really trying to make Itami feel like a big deal.
HIDEO ITAMI vs. BRIAN KENDRICK (w/Jack Gallagher)- 4/10
KENTA won with the GTS.
THE MIZ-TOURAGE, MICKIE JAMES, SASHA, & BAYLEY BACKSTAGE- Miz-tourage tried to sing “Miz-mas carols.” There were other people in the room so I skipped this. I’m sure I didn’t miss anything.
ABSOLUTION vs. SASHA BANKS, MICKIE JAMES & BAYLEY- 4.5/10
Well… one advantage of them not having commercials is that all of the babyfaces get their own entrances so that two of them (almost certainly Mickie and Bayley) don’t have to look like lesser stars than Sasha. Speaking of Sasha, she found yet another new way to kill herself this week, as she took a bump for a Sonya Deville clothesline on the outside and smacked her head on the floor on the way down. At this point, I think she might secretly be Gumby.
This spot of course led to the She-ield getting the heat on Sasha for a while. She eventually made the hot tag to Bayley and Bayley ran wild for a bit but Paige pinned her with the RamPaige to give the Paige-erous Alliance the win.
Corey Graves said that Mandy is a great athlete and that she “looks like she was built in a laboratory.” In other words, “if you could build a sports entertainer from the ground up, it’s be Mandy Rose.”
RENEE YOUNG INTERVIEWS SAMOA JOE- She asks him if he has any remorse for injuring Dean Ambrose last week. Now that WWE has recently been forced to officially acknowledge Dean & Renee’s relationship on the air, it seems really cruel of Kurt to have assigned Renee to do this interview rather than Charly. And speaking of cruel, Joe responded to Renee’s question by pointing out the “silver lining” to Dean’s injury, which is that because he was injured, Dean would be able to “spend the holidays at home with the ones he loves the most.” Meanwhile, Dean’s wife is here on Christmas, having to hold the microphone that Joe just said that into. I really hope that look on Renee’s face was her acting because otherwise I feel really bad for her. I’m going to assume that it was a work because 1) Joe chuckled, and everything I’ve heard about Joe is that he’s not a heartless douche who would say something like that for no reason, and 2) because the camera, which had previously zoomed in on Joe’s face, zoomed back out so we could see Renee’s reaction to this before eventually zooming on Joe again. Joe’s promo was pretty great.
KANE vs. HEATH SLATER (w/Rhyno)- squash
Heath & Rhyno cut an inset promo during Heath’s entrance but I don’t know what they said because the sound on my TV cut out and was replaced with Vince’s voice saying “Merry Christmas, Big Red Machine!”
Kane murdered Heath Slater. But they made good use of the time on the outside to get over the idea that Rhyno is trying to encourage Slater to be tougher and do better. Kane also attacked Rhyno after the match. Rhyno fought back and went for a GORE but Kane chokeslammed Rhyno, too.
CURT HAWKINS PROMO- someone else I forgot was employed. He cut a promo saying that tonight he would end his 146-match losing streak. I was hoping Kane would come out and squash him, too, but instead we got…
CURT HAWKINS vs. FINN BALOR- 3/10
This was a really fun little match for the time it got, with the story being that Hawkins went for a lot of pinfalls to try to score the quick win until Balor put him down with the Coup de Grace, dropping Hawkins to 0-147 in his last 147 matches. I assume the way this angle plays out is that he gets to 0-173 then beats Goldberg. Nothing else really makes sense.
GOOFBALLS BACKSTAGE- Bo & Axel gave Goldust a DVD of a Christmas movie Miz did as a Christmas present. Goldust then pawned it off on the first person he saw, which was Titus O’Neil. Then Goldust came back and startled Titus, sending the DVD flying. Goldust is an asshole. Also, Dana Brooke and Apollo Crews were there.
BRAY WYATT PROMO- he accuses Matt Hardy of tricking the fans into thinking he cares about them but he is actually just using them for his own personal game, but he took, five times as long to say that. Somehow, this managed to still be one of the shortest Bray Wyatt promos I can remember.
Michael Cole had this to say about Bray’s promo: “you have to believe the ‘she’ that he was referring to was the Sister Abigail.”
I hear I was thinking Bray was talking about Eleanor Roosevelt. It’s good thing I had you here to explain that to, me, Cole.
MATT HARDY ATTACKS BRAY WAYTT- bad.
Here was Bray coming out for his scheduled match and f*cking Matt Hardy jumps him from behind like a f*cking heel. Then Matt “cut a promo” and when I say he “cut a promo” I mean he just made noises into the microphone for thirty-two straight seconds. The fans then all chanted “HARDY!” and “DELETE!” during the next segment. How the f*ck did anyone find that entertaining?
SHEAMUS & CESARO EXCHANGE GIFTS- the Dean Ambrose action figure with the broken arm was good, the Seth Rollins and Jason Jordan action figures so they could recite bad WWE dialogue was not.
MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET FIGHT: Enzo Amore, Drew Gulak, & Ariyah Daivari vs. Mustafa Ali, Cedric Alexander, & Tozawa- 4.75/10
Yes, that’s right. Doing this dumb gimmick for Halloween went over so poorly that you knew they would do it again because Vince doesn’t give a sh*t about what you think. He just wants to make himself laugh. Anyway, they’re making these guys (well at least the heels) dress up like goofballs, and then they have the gall to want me to take Enzo seriously as the Cruiserweight Champion when he defends his title against Cedric next week. The babyfaces (including Cedric) didn’t get their entrances shown.
The match went less than a minute before we went to a commercial. The first bunch of weapons spots in this Street Fight took place during that commercial. The entire match went less than eight minutes, with almost half of it being during the aforementioned commercial break. But we should definitely be sure to tune in next week to see the clearly important title match. Yeah.
NIA & ENZO BACKSTAGE- The crowd is shockingly really into this budding relationship. They wound up under some mistletoe, so I assumed Gulak was going to show up to unintentionally cock-block Enzo again, but instead we got the only person on the roster I enjoy more than Drew Gulak. That’s right! Alexa Bliss! showed to clam-jam Nia Jax. She says she has to talk to Nia about the women’s Royal Rumble match.
RENEE YOUNG INTERVIEWS ROMAN REIGNS- he vows to avenge Dean Ambrose by injuring Joe tonight. Good promo by Roman.
WWE INTERCONTINENTAL TITLE MATCH: Roman Reigns(c) vs. Samoa Joe- 7/10
This was an exciting match that wound up going to a disappointing non-finish after Roman got DQed for not breaking in the corner and pushing the referee when he tried to pull him off. Roman gave Joe a Superman Punch after the match, then a second one outside of the ring and kept the beating going, so at least he is making good on promise to hurt Joe and avenge his best friends’ injury. He tried went after Joe with the ring steps after the match but some referees came out to yell at him, which bought enough time for Joe to escape Roman’s intention to seriously injure him.
SETH ROLLINS & JASON JORDAN BACKSTAGE- not bad, but it didn’t make our babyfaces likable, either.
Seth watches Roman’s attempted beat-down of Joe with sadistic glee, which was a little too much for a babyface, IMO. Then Jason Jordan showed up and Seth immediately told Jason that he doesn’t want to hear any teamwork speeches or anything like that from him. Seth was kind of a dick here, patronizing Jordan about things, to which Jordan responded by being completely insensitive and telling Seth “you have to admit: I make a pretty good replacement for Dean Ambrose.”
HANDICAP MATCH: The Miz-tourage vs. Braun Strowman- squash
For some reason we had to hear the Miz-tourage sing yet again. They even decided to wrestle in their holiday sweaters because they’re dumb and I guess they like being sweaty. At least this was short. Braun gave them a bunch of powerslams after the match, too. Maybe we’ll all get lucky and they’ll be off TV for a while after this.
They showed an old clip to build up the Raw 25th Anniversary Show (although the idiots didn’t put the date in their graphic!), but the clip they showed was Razor Ramon losing to Kid, and Sean Waltman is so young in that clips that he didn’t even look like Sean Waltman.
ALEXA BLISS! PROMO-
That forced Star Wars reference (which I’m sure was a WWE directive because it smacked of something JBL would have blurted out on Smackdown commentary to prove that WWE has the pulse of pop culture) was painful to hear. Even more painful to hear was Alexa Bliss!, who has WON A CHAMPIONSHIP THREE DIFFERENT TIMES THIS YEAR, have to tell us all that “the best moment of the year” was f*cking Steph coming out last week an announcing the women’s Royal Rumble. Even if these f*cking pathetic McMahon ego-trips weren’t frustrating on their own, this would still be bad because it’s completely out of character for Alexa, a narcissistic chicken-sh*t heel, to call the announcement of a match not only that will likely result in there being a #1 contender for her title, but for a match that Alexa herself won’t even be in.
Alexa then took credit for all of this happening, which I guess is better than taking credit for starting the Divas/Women’s R/Evolution.
Alexa was then interrupted by Asuka, and I became very sad as it finally became set in stone that Alexa’s title reign will indeed be coming to an end soon. On the bright side, Asuka said she was entering the Royal Rumble rather than going for Alexa’s title at the PPV, so we’ve got some more time. Then Asuka sucker-kicked Alexa like a total heel. Now I even have a kayfabe reason to root for Alexa during the inevitable showdown where our heroine will conquer the scary, supposedly unbeatable monster.
WWE RAW TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH: Sheamus & Cesaro(c) vs. Seth Rollins & Jason Jordan- 7.5/10
This was a pretty great match, but the finish felt kind of abrupt. I wish they would have gone another ten minutes before giving us the babyface win. Also, it would have been good for the announcers to draw a parallel between the dysfunctional origins of Sheamus & Cesaro and the predicament that Jordan and Rollins are in now, having to team together against their wills.
A decent episode of Raw. There was a lot of filler here, but at least it was mostly productive filler. All you really need to watch is the last hour, though.
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