Hi everybody! SAM here with Botch and we are here to review this go-home episode of Raw for TLC. Raw has been pretty solid and that is always a pleasant sight as we start to close out the year. Plenty to look forward to this week with Raw as well. We have the Lana/Nia match and Bray Wyatt brings the Firefly Fun House to Raw. Enough intro and let us see what Raw had for us this week.
The Dirt Sheet – The Miz, AJ Styles, Omos, John Morrison, Sheamus
I know this opening may not be for everybody but I enjoyed it. The way it was over the top with Morrison was perfect and the three men looked like they were having fun. I also loved how Omos was cut for time and how disappointed he was as the light was turned off. I loved AJ’s reaction to Miz saying he would cash-in and become champion. Miz changed the script on him and both sold it well. Sheamus would come out and pretty much talk his smack and AJ would hit him with a Christmas tree that was in the ring. Sheamus wouldn’t stand for that though as he nailed AJ with a Christmas present when he was on the outside and it was a perfect hit. Fun opener that I can see some not liking because of how goofy it was.
I agree with Sam. Look, wrestling is a show – not fake, but a show. This nonsense was really fun. I don’t care that it wasn’t wrestling. If you didn’t like this, you hate fun. I really liked Miz’s cutting Omos for time and prompting his spotlight to go off too. Omos reaction was perfect. Great stuff. I agree that this was totally goofy…and I was here for absolutely all of it. Sheamus took that tree like a champ too.
AJ Styles (w/ Omos) vs Sheamus
Sheamus really has been having some of the best matches of his career since he came back and this is another one. It is hard for AJ to have a bad match and he has some solid chemistry with Sheamus. I liked how AJ worked the left knee of Sheamus and Sheamus did a good job in selling it throughout the match. I liked the part too when Omos took AJ off the shoulders of Sheamus and his reaction to that. Omos is doing a good job in the role he is in right now and making the most of his opportunity. AJ would end up winning the match and I was fine with the finish too. I liked the post-match stuff as well when AJ would beat down Sheamus with a chair while he was hung up in the ropes. It was interesting that Drew didn’t come out to help him and that will definitely play in their story.
Agree again. Sheamus has been on fire both as an in-ring competitor and on the mic since he returned. He’s just compelling in both areas and this match was further proof of it. Omos saving AJ from peril and carefully placing him on the ground was an absolute riot. Sheamus came for AJ after losing the match. Not a good idea. AJ and Omos made him pay dearly. I like vicious AJ and this was a healthy dose of vicious. Good stuff.
Backstage Segment– The Hurt Business
This segment was fine and all but it just felt too repetitive of what we got last week. The Hurt Business act like bullies backstage and that is fine and all but we need more than that from these types of segments. I will admit the milk was a nice touch but just felt like more of the same.
More bullying but they do it so well. Dag, so much milk. It looked like that carton would ever empty. Cedric is getting incredibly cocky and I am here for it. He did something similar in CWF a few years ago and it’s fun to see it come back in some form. He wears it well. No idea why Sam’s grade is so low here.
Backstage Segment – The New Day, Jeff Hardy and Riddle
I never knew how much I wanted a Riddle/New Day interaction until I saw it unfold. Riddle is that bro that knows what he is all about and the New Day are a perfect foil for him. Jeff Hardy loosened up a bit here too but Riddle is just that bro. You may feel what you want about him but the man has all the makings of a future world champion.
A looser Jeff Hardy. Finally! He didn’t totally get in there with them but he had a little more fun than he usually does. I’ll take it. Riddle, Woods, & Kingston were fun together too. They’ve moved in a very comedic direction with him and he appears to be there for it. Well done.
The New Day & Jeff Hardy (w/ Riddle) vs The Hurt Business (Shelton Benjamin, Bobby Lashley & Cedric Alexander) w/MVP
This was actually quite the fun match and I loved that Jeff color coordinated with the New Day’s gear. It is little things like that that will make me appreciate a talent. Like I said, the match itself was quite fun and I like how the Hurt Business work together. Sure, they only have a midcard title but I would not be opposed to them gaining more gold. The New Day were great in their role and so was Jeff but I still feel like he may be an odd man out considering that Riddle is really the one that should be in his spot in the match. Either way, this was a fun match that saw the Hurt Business pull out the win here. I will say that I love how the go continues to grow with Cedric and I cannot wait to see what happens next with him.
The color coordination with Hardy’s face paint. Nice. I would be totally fine with the Hurt Business getting the title belts at this point – especially given how Cedric is growing as an arrogant heel. He’s done something similar in CWF but this is turned up a bit and I really like it. I love how he broke away from everyone else at the end and celebrated on his own. He’s become impetuous and harder to handle. His ego will likely explode when Benjamin and he win the belts.
Backstage Segment – Lana and Asuka
This did what it needed to do and reaffirmed that Asuka is there for Lana. I do wish Asuka was doing something more but she does add a bit of legitimacy to Lana by being by her side.
This was fun. You could really feel a nice camaraderie between them. Asuka is so supportive and Lana responded to it well. For all the crap Lana catches, she really has been very good lately. I’ve completely warmed to the two of them as a team. As Sam said, I do wish the Raw Women’s champion was in an actual feud but this has been entertaining so I’ll let this slide.
Lana vs Nia Jax
The match was short and sweet and it saw Lana pick up the upset win over Nia. The grade though is for everything that happened after. Lana fell out of love with fans because of the whole story between herself, Rusev and Lashley and I cannot blame them. What I can say is that she has totally redeemed herself with this story and her selling of the beat down was superb. Lana is honestly starting to show she may be more than just a mouthpiece and that she can truly bring something more to the table. Shayna and Nia were ruthless in their attack and Asuka would come down to make the save for her friend. Lana was the MVP of this segment and she deserves nothing but love from fans.
Yeah, this is so much more about what happened after the match itself, although that certainly wasn’t bad either. Lana got one over on her bullies again. Sadly, she was made to suffer horribly at their hands at the conclusion of the match. Such sore loser… Nia/Shayna inflict damage so well. Nia is so expressive and we’ve gotten the vicious NXT Shayna back now. Lana sold all of this so well – even generating real tears. Anyone still coming for Lana after segments like this just doesn’t get it.
In-Ring Segment – Elias
The only reason this does not get a skull is because of R-Truth and how hilarious he is. I have no interest in seeing that Jaxson Ryker with someone as talented as Elias. Elias does not need him and this segment is only getting any semblance of a grade because of how talented Truth is.
I’m not as charitable as Sam is here. I hate that Elias is being saddled with the charisma vacuum known as Jaxson Ryker. He’s not exactly a very bright bulb either so he’s sure to say more stupid things on Twitter that will eventually lead to his dismissal. If the live crowd were back, Elias would have been massacred for this whole thing. Even Truth wasn’t as fun here as he usually is. He just didn’t “land” here somehow. He couldn’t save this and there was nothing worth going back to watch. If you missed it, be glad. I wish I could have.
Backstage Segment – The Miz, John Morrison, Keith Lee
The problem I had with this segment is that it kind of felt very scripted. Keith did not come off sounding natural at all and that was to the detriment of it. I do enjoy how goofy Morrison is with Miz but this segment just fell flat to me.
I agree. Except for Lee’s final statement, the rest of this felt a little “phoned in”. ‘Course, knowing the outcome of the match now…
The Miz & John Morrison vs Keith Lee
The story of this match was timing and how bad it was. It felt like none of the timing between the competitors was in sync and that really made for a match that was meh. It should have been better than what we got but the timing was just off from all parties. It is strange to see the timing being this bad with three veterans but that is what happened. Miz and Morrison ended up winning and I guess fans will be up in arms over Lee losing after the reports the came out about him being sent to the PC.
I agree with Sam. This match just felt weird. A few things were right. They did the classic “show off the strength of the big dude” thing a couple of times but Morrison’s timing was unusually off. They tried to pull off a cool pounce move but Morrison was just late on it so it didn’t work at all. The loss kind of had to be. Miz is a Money in the Bank case holder; it would have looked weird if Morrison and he would have lost. I just question the match itself. That didn’t have to be. There were other things they could have done. Dre mentioned that perhaps this will lead to a heel thing for Keith. I’ve seen it on the indies and it actually works really well. The uniqueness and articulation we enjoy from his promos…darkened. Imagine it. Here’s hoping…
In-Ring Segment – Bray Wyatt
I normally love Bray with the Firefly Fun House stuff but this one just felt okay to me. He did what he always does but the magic of the Fun House wasn’t there with him in the ring. Randy would appear on the tron to offer him a chance to play hide and seek and I did love his reaction to that. Other than that, this segment just did not feel like it lived up to what it could have been.
Nah. This belonged in the Firefly Fun House. I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about seeing it in Blunderdome but I know now. I didn’t really like it. Orton’s thing was cool but it wasn’t anything we haven’t seen before. Of course, it couldn’t have happened had this segment occurred in the Funhouse and I get that but Bray is somehow less magical in Blunderdome.
Mace w/ Retribution vs Ricochet
I really wish I could find much reason to care about this but I honestly do not care at all. I feel like Retribution’s days are numbered and I honestly would not be opposed to that. Dijakovic is so much more than this and so are Mia and Ali. Thorne and Dio could be used in NXT and Ricochet could easily be inserted into the Hurt Business and could use the tutelage of MVP. Mace won but do we really care anymore?
Man, I’m harsh this week. I didn’t care; it’s that simple, though it was a little bit of fun hearing Dio’s former life referenced. I didn’t even really care about Ali on commentary. He said all the things he’s already said with very little edge or fire. Ricochet has become a vacuum and Retribution is nowhere. I disagree with Sam here a bit on what they could be doing instead. I love Dijacovic, Mia, and Ali. All three – especially Ali & Mia – should be doing so much more. Dio and Shane never did a thing for me so they could both vanish and I wouldn’t miss them. I do agree that Chet might benefit from the edge Hurt Business could give them but we can’t just keep adding members to that group all willy nilly. In my opinion, four is enough. Heck, even feuding with them didn’t bring any edge to Chet. I love Chet in the ring but he just can’t do it on the mic and I’ve effectively given up waiting for him to show me something. I doubt I’m alone. All in all, the match meant nothing.
Backstage Segment – Bray Wyatt and Riddle
I do not know if it is possible for me to gush more about how much I love Riddle because the man simply gets it. He takes whatever he is given and it comes out as gold. This was hilarious and I loved the interaction between Riddle and Bray. Both know exactly what their characters are and that made for some fun. Riddle getting an autograph from Rambling Rabbit was the icing on the carrot cake here.
Oh, Riddle. Nice way to come off that snoozer of a segment. Bray stayed up there with him. The autograph corpsed me. This just has to be seen.
Shayna Baszler vs Dana Brooke
The match was what it was and Nia would cause a DQ. I do not get why Shayna is not taking an issue to Nia costing her the match but whatever. Mandy Rose would make her return to save Dana and that was good, I guess. Asuka would end up being the one to save them from the tag champs and it would be revealed that Asuka would need someone to replace Lana. I honestly hope we get a segment where Lana tells Asuka that she actually can still go and the two win the tag titles.
This was for Shayna and for Mandy coming in for the save. As I said earlier, I love the return of NXT-mercenary Shayna. I just have no reason to care about Dana at all. She is nothing and nowhere. I agree with Sam in that I’d love for Lana to work anyway and win the titles.
Backstage Segment – R-Truth
Truth is just a national treasure and should be in the hall of fame someday. The comedic timing from Truth is unparalleled and he simply knows what to do each time. He is basically undefeated in his comedy and I feel like I want more interactions between him and Bray.
Would have been graded higher had it been longer. Still, this was fun. R-Truth went on to prove his worth for the millionth time. That other segment he was in was just an aberration and I’ve already forgotten about it. You should too. I’d love more interaction between these two.
Backstage Segment – Bray Wyatt
The subtlety in the way Bray approached the rocking chair is what helped really make this segment. He didn’t just rush to it but rather took the moment in. It is nuances like that which make Bray a true master of his craft. Of course, this was a trap by Randy Orton and he would end up trapping Bray in a box and lighting it on fire. It looked like Randy one upped Bray but the Fiend would burst out of the box and put Randy in the Mandible Claw. It would seem like Randy may have bitten off more than he can chew and I am all for that.
So much excellent storytelling here. Bray’s approach on “the chair” was just great. Orton lighting the box on fire was just great. The diabolical way he did it really made it fly; it wasn’t just about the fire itself. The Fiend coming out of the box was predictable but it was so well done that I don’t even care that I saw it coming. Orton’s in over his head and I’m all about it.
MVP vs Riddle
This match happened and the right person won. That is pretty much it and it is a shame because it probably could have been more than what it was.
Yes! For once, Sam’s being overly harsh! I was fine with this. Riddle took it as he should and life goes on. Both did what they needed to do here and they did it well. It didn’t set my world on fire but it was fine.
In-Ring Segment – Drew McIntyre and AJ Styles w/ Omos
It was strange seeing Phillips in this role but it does suit him considering that other announcers before him have done this. AJ took the reins and spoke about how he has defended the title in a TLC match and that it gives him the edge. Drew then spoke about how fans have clamored for a match between the two and how they will finally get it on Sunday. Drew then spoke about how he thrives under pressure and he has all the confidence in the world befitting of a champion. Miz and Morrison would end up coming in and a brawl would ensue. AJ would end up getting the better of Drew and would stand tall on a ladder while holding the WWE Championship. Nice segment to end Raw on and a nice image of Drew trying to climb the ladder as AJ grabbed the title.
I said this in DD last night and I’ll say it again. No one has ever benefited more from WWE’s scripting than AJ Styles. It has given him a whole new lease on life since he got there. The back and forth was really good and it sets up the match between them nicely in the WWE tradition.
Overall, this was a solid go-home episode but not the best one. There were segments that were just okay and nothing really stood out too much. I am interested in TLC this Sunday but am also a bit bummed by it. I do not like the prospect of Lana being written out when she has clearly put in work. AJ/Drew has had a nice build and I think that will be a good match. All in all, a good but not great go-home episode of Raw.
The internet is trashing this episode and there was some really bad stuff here but it wasn’t a throwaway. Dana is nothing and Chet is nothing too. Seeing Jaxson again is the most unwelcome sight I can think of. Poor Elias. Beyond that, this was a decent episode. I didn’t feel the need to turn it off (I mean…I can’t anyway but I didn’t feel a need to do it) and when it was good, it was really good. Let’s see how all of this manifests at TLC!