Here we are at the Raw after Survivor Series and Raw didn’t have the best showing on Sunday. The red brand only took home one win but that is better than getting shut out. Some interesting things seemed to be set up on Sunday like an Asuka/Charlotte feud and the tension between Seth Rollins and Kevin Owens. Let us jump right in and see what Raw had with Survivor Series in the rearview.
Seth Rollins Townhall
Seth Rollins was in the ring and the Chicago crowd let him have it. The wrestling community has turned on Seth and it is prime time for a heel turn. I honestly love Seth as a heel, and I think that is the course correction he needs to get the fans back on his side. He did handle the “CM PUNK!” chants very well and told him that he wouldn’t show up. Honestly, Seth came off a lot like King Corbin in the way he belittled the members of the Raw roster. He went after Randy Orton and he decided to take off instead of listening to Seth. This would end up being the theme as he went after Charlotte Flair and AOP and all three walked off. He then tried to go after Rey Mysterio and he, along with the rest of the Raw locker room, took off. At least that is how it looked until Kevin Owens entered the ring. Seth started to belittle him, and Owens answered by giving him a stunner. This was a really solid opener and Seth would lay down a challenge for Owens backstage in an interview after this and that would end up being the main event this evening.
Bobby Lashley vs Titus O’Neil
It was at this moment that Jerry Lawler became unbearable for me and I will talk about him later on. It was nice to see Titus on tv in a match, but I knew this would either be a squash or Rusev would get involved some way. It ended up being the latter as Rusev would come in through the crowd and lay a beatdown on Lashley. I believe it was Lashley that drew blood at some point because it was on Rusev’s shirt and this was the fire this feud has needed. I have been a fan of this program for all the wrong reasons, but this was a good reason to be a fan of it. Rusev showed fire and aggression the likes we haven’t seen since the days of his debut on the main roster. Rusev would end up getting handcuffed by the police but that didn’t stop him from knocking Lashley off the stage. He then kicked a piece of the stage onto Lashley and the crowd was totally hot for this. Really great segment and we all know this is leading to a probable gimmick match at TLC.
AOP vs Hawkins & Ryder
This is AOP’s first match on Raw since this repackaging of sorts and they looked as dominant as ever. This was a squash and it was nice to see some continuity from last week play out this week. AOP attacked Hawkins and Ryder so they wanted some form of payback. That didn’t end up happening as AOP would eat them alive in this match. I like that AOP have ditched most of their previous in-ring gear because they really resembled the Shield too much. AOP picked up the win and this wouldn’t be the last we saw of them.
Andrade vs Akira Tozawa
This has the potential of being a really good match if given the time but sadly that would not be the case here. It feels like there are some big plans for Andrade right now and I could totally see him winning Money in the Bank next year because that gimmick is tailor made for him. There was some good action, but it just wasn’t what we know both men are capable of. It was nice to see Andrade pick up a win without the help of Zelina because they shouldn’t dip into that well too much or else it will run dry.
Aleister Black’s Room
So Aleister is ready to go after the person who wants to pick a fight with him. It is about darn time that we get the ball rolling on this because this has been going on for far too long. We all know it will be Buddy Murphy and that is something that can elevate both men nicely if booked right.
Sir Mitch vs Matt Hardy
Surprise, surprise because look who is back on tv. Well, at least for this week as Matt Hardy had his first tv match in what seems like ages. He is in darn good shape and that is something considering how badly in shape his body has been in recent years. It is no surprise his body is finally showing the damage because he put it through so much during his first run in WWE and even in TNA/Impact. Didn’t really know what to expect from this match but it was actually pretty fun. Felt obvious that Mitch would beat Matt here and that would end up being the case, but Matt did put up a good fight. It wasn’t enough though because Mitch ended up picking up the win after hitting Matt with some knees. He then got on the mic to call out Aleister Black and before he could get far into it, Black came out and had a one-sided fight with him. Looks like this feud is officially a go and this should be fun.
Charlotte Flair Backstage
Solid promo from Charlotte backstage as she was getting asked about what happened at Survivor Series with Asuka. She pointed out how many times she had beaten her and the only way Asuka could win is with the mist. I wonder if Charlotte was unable to get all of the mist out of her hair of if she let some in to sell getting misted. Either way, solid promo from Charlotte here and a nice way to build her match with Asuka tonight.
AJ Styles vs Humberto Carrillo
At least that was supposed to be the match for the US title, but Gallows and Anderson attacked Humberto before the bell. The attack as so severe that it left him unable to compete tonight. Ricochet came down to check on him and that would set off a chain that would lead to the next match. Ricochet came into the ring to challenge AJ, but AJ would decline. Randy Orton then came out and did the same and AJ would also decline. Drew McIntyre would then come out and challenge AJ and he didn’t want none of Drew. Rey Mysterio made his way out next and AJ didn’t want any of Rey as well. Ricochet then pitched having a four-way dance to determine who faces AJ tonight and, after some persuasion from the OC, AJ agreed to the terms and that match would be next.
The best part about this match was that I had no idea who would win and that is always a recipe for a good match when stakes are involved. There was a ton of fun stuff happening in this match and I loved the interactions between Orton and McIntyre. That would be a fun match to see and I wouldn’t mind seeing it. Rey and Ricochet also had some fun interactions and that should be of no surprise given their history in Lucha Underground. The one thing about this match was how McIntyre left Orton’s chest after delivering some chops. Those chops would have made WALTER proud in how they sounded and looked. Really solid back and forth action that saw Rey pick up the win over Ricochet with a roll up. Not the most exciting choice of the four but one I should have seen coming and I’ll mention that during the next match.
AJ Styles vs Rey Mysterio
This will always be a match you want to see because both are arguably in the top 10 of greatest wrestlers of all-time. AJ looked happy at the opportunity to face Rey tonight because he just saw him go through a match prior and that is a nice heelish touch from AJ. The longer the match was going, the more it felt like Rey would end up pulling out the victory here. It also didn’t help that commentary was pretty much shouting that every five minutes either. Solid back and forth action and it looked like AJ would retain after the referee went down and the OC came in to take advantage. Randy Orton would end up coming down to take care of Gallows and Anderson and deliver an RKO to AJ. Rey would then hit him with a splash and become the new US Champion. His son Dominick came down to celebrate with him and that was a nice moment. Like I said before, this was something I should have seen coming considering that Rey’s color scheme tonight for his outfit was the exact same as the US Championship. I don’t know if many noticed that, but I certainly did.
Kevin Owens Backstage
It was Kevin Owens’ turn on the mic backstage and he absolutely nailed it here. Owens has always been one of the best on the mic and this was a great time to showcase it here. I loved the passion he showed about how he has always known who he was, and nobody could tell him otherwise. That reminded me of the story about him and Cornette and how he felt Owens would never make it, I could be misremembering that part, and Owens felt adamant that he could make it and boy did he. Really great stuff from Owens and he is really giving me those Austin vibes that everybody said he was capable of.
Charlotte Flair vs Asuka
From a strong promo to a strong match as these two put on another great match in their history. No matter how you feel about how many times Charlotte has beaten Asuka, you cannot deny how good their matches are. The chemistry between these two is quite something and I love seeing them work with one another. The difference in this match from their other matches is that Asuka is a heel and she is accompanied by her tag partner, Kairi Sane. I love how Charlotte chased away Sane because she knew she would try to get involved in the match and I love how quick Kairi was to get out of there. Really fun back and forth from these two and Kairi would indeed return to cause a distraction. The distraction was key because it allowed Asuka to hit Charlotte with the green mist and roll her up for the win. I think this was Asuka’s best usage of the mist so far and I actually don’t mind that so much comes out.
Erick Rowan vs Local Talent
Hate the grade all you want but this segment was perfect. I keep saying that the IIconics are great and hilarious and this just furthered that. They were great in promoting Black Friday and it got even better when R-Truth came in. Truth took it to a whole nother level and his interaction with the IIconics was indeed IICONIC! I love that he placed the 24/7 Championship in plain sight so nobody would think it was his and he took it right when he got them to close their eyes and their reaction to it was priceless. The IIconics totally nailed this and I truly believe that the future is IICONIC!
AJ Styles Backstage
AJ absolutely nailed this as he was still in shock and left speechless over losing the US title. He kept trying to muster up some words but just simply couldn’t. Finally, he was able to say something and that was simply “Randy Orton”. AJ totally nailed this because it could easily come off as fake and forced but it wasn’t the case here. Great stuff from AJ and it really is hard to believe this is the same AJ that we said could act a lick in TNA.
Again, another solid backstage segment for this week’s Raw. Lana came in to talk about Rusev’s actions from earlier in the night and she demanded that he be fired. She moved on from that and then talked about the condition of Lashley. At least that is was she was intending to do when she only said that he was a medical facility. She then told Charly that she was okay and that had me dying. I am not sorry for liking this angle because I think it is playing out rather nicely.
Seth Rollins vs Kevin Owens
There was absolutely no doubt that this would be a good match and it was definitely that. Owens and Rollins are two of the best in the world and were able to show it once again. One of the best parts of this match was the slight tweaks in character from both men here. Rollins was working the match a bit more heelish in nature and Owens was definitely leaning towards the Austin style of babyface here. I honestly think if this can be booked right, it can turn into a Rock/Austin like feud and I know that is high possible praise, but I think both men are capable of it. Solid back and forth action and it looked like either man would pick up the win. That was until AOP showed up and completely beat down Owens. Both men were in a neutral corner when AOP showed up and they went on the attack on Owens. Rollins just sat back and watched the destruction and didn’t really try to help Owens. He then got up and AOP turned their attention to him, but they simply walked away. Rollins took in the situation and delivered two stomps to Owens while talking trash to him as Raw came to a close. This feels like a heel turn to me, but we will have to wait until next week to see if it does indeed play out that way.
Now I normally do not dedicate a whole part on commentary, but I feel like I must. Vic Joseph has found his groove on Raw an he is nailing it each and every week. Then there is Jerry Lawler who was regressed in every week and this week was truly unbearable. He tried to work the heel, but he failed at it and would seemingly act like a face at times as well. Jerry is a legend no doubt, but he is horrendous on commentary. Like JR in AEW, he is absolutely not needed and there are plenty of people who can do his job 10 times better than him. Reports came out that Jerry’s position was temporary, and someone needs to replace him because I honestly do no know how much more I can take of his horrendous, outdated, poorly time jokes, and failure to relate to the current wrestling scene. This was the tipping point for me to finally decide to write an article about him and JR and be sure to look out for that because it is a comin’.
Now that I ranted about Jerry, this Raw was a darn good episode and might be one of the best ones of late. I am not saying the NXT invasion stuff wasn’t good, but this is one of the best episodes of Raw that didn’t need to have that. All the matches were pretty darn good and so were the promos. The only really low point was Jerry on announce and the Erick Rowan stuff. The Seth/Owens feud is building up quite nicely and I cannot wait to see what comes next with AOP’s possible involvement. Asuka is clearly being built back up again and I could see her being the next to challenge Becky. Speaking of Becky, where was she this week? It seemed strange to not have “The Man” on the episode right after Survivor Series. Either way, good stuff from Raw this week and really makes me look forward to next week. I am Sovereign S.A.M. and I will see you all next week for another Sovereign Statement.