Peanut Butter & Johnny Sandwich

Hey, kids.  It’s the Botching one with Sam here to go Eye to Eye on another episode of “Raw”.  Last night’s TLC PPV was absolutely stellar – like “NXT TakeOver” good.  There was certainly a lot to expound upon for tonight’s Raw so let’s see how we feel they did!

 

In-ring segment – Charlotte Flair, Asuka, Nia Jax, Shayna Baszler, Mandy Rose, & Dana Brooke

 

Why didn’t I see this coming?  Like…how could I not know that Charlotte would likely return during the tag title match.  It was all too perfect.  Guess I was just hoping against hope that Lana would be able to come back.  Oh well.  There’s no conceivable way this tag team between Charlotte & Asuka can last and I’m certain the crux of it will involve Asuka’s Raw Women’s championship.

Oh, the promo from Charlotte?  So very shaky.  Charlotte clearly hasn’t done it in a while and it really showed here.  She was trying too hard the entire time and it wasn’t great.  Asuka is a national treasure who must be protected at all costs.  Charlotte didn’t really know what to do with Asuka in there.  This strangeness continued at the commentary table between them.  I love that Nia shot on Charlotte for sounding stiff.  Nia is so good with promos like this and she completely nailed.  Mandy was decent here and Dana was Dana.  This was so hard to grade because of all of this.  It truly was the good, the bad, and the ugly.

 

Something about this felt off to me and I know what it was. It was seeing the face version of Charlotte because she really does not thrive in that role. She is born to be a heel and really does better like that. It was fun to see her with Asuka and then the former tag champs came out. They were fine and I did like how Charlotte came back at Nia for saying she had a robotic voice. Nia’s is far more robotic to me and it was nice to see Charlotte clap back at her. Mandy and Dana would come out and they were fine, I guess. This would lead to Mandy and Dana taking on Nia and Shayna and this wasn’t the best opening segment for me.  

 

 

Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler vs. Mandy Rose & Dana Brooke

 

Charlotte is who she is.  She’s a really sweet person and there’s nothing wrong with that.  The problem is that he’s supposed to be “The Queen” and she kept vacillation between what was expected of her and who she really is.  It was disconcerting.  This is what happens when you’ve got someone playing someone they aren’t.

The match was fine, I guess.  Nia is just a botching machine.  Mandy had to literally fall out of the ring because Nia wouldn’t push her.  It just looked weird.  Beyond that, she just kinda lumbers around in there and her speed is non-existent.  Shayna is so much better than any of this and hopefully, she’ll get to show the main roster audience that at some point.  Shayna’s Kirifuda clutch is such a good finisher and it just looks so merciless and violent.  Mandy & Dana, allegedly a face team, decided to be bad sports because…reasons.

 

I get that this match was all about establishing somewhat the team of Dana and Mandy against the former tag champs but it just didn’t do it for me. The match was fine enough but it didn’t feel like something that should have been the opening match. Very much felt like something you see in the middle of Raw rather than be the first match. I do love hearing Asuka on commentary and you could tell that Charlotte didn’t know what to do when Asuka would be her perfectly excited self. The heels won and the faces attacked them because reasons?  

 

 

Backstage segment – The Hurt Business (MVP, Cedric Alexander, Shelton Benjamin, & Bobby Lashley

 

Ah, the bully thing again.  They do this often and while it’s never terrible, it is getting a little aged.  Still, I see why they do it as it’s very “on brand”.  They also do it really well so I have no real issue with them continuing down this path.

 

 

More bullying from the Hurt Business backstage. It is fun and all but it has become rather stale. They need something to spice things up with this because it is pretty much become a S.S.D.D. (Same Stuff Different Day) scenario.  

 

 

VIP Lounge – Hurt Business (MVP, Shelton Benjamin, Cedric Alexander, Bobby Lashley), & Hardy Bros. (Riddle & Jeff Hardy)

 

MVP came out with them to gloat and he always does that well, though I am sick to death of “big things poppin’ and lil’ things stoppin'”  The early 2000s want its phrase back.  Loved seeing Cedric interrupt Shelton. The look on Shelton’s face was so money.  Cedric has become E-X-T-R-A and I love every second of it. He’s finally alive in WWE the way he always should have been and I am here for it all day.  R-Truth is life and breath.  Loved him chillin’ on the top rope getting his photobomb on.  Total nonsense and I love it.  You do too.

Whoever wrote the script Riddle & Jeff had to memorize deserved to have to come out and recite it.  Even Riddle was shaky trying to get that pablum out.  I literally have no idea with Riddle & Hardy were saying and they don’t know either.  Again, tough to grade because it ran the gamut from great to absolutely awful.

 

This was a nice celebration from MVP and the Hurt Business here and it is great to see them with gold. The best part was for me was Cedric interrupting Shelton. I agree with Botch that he is becoming money and I am interested in seeing what happens with his growing ego. I loved how R-Truth photobombed their photo-op and then the 24/7 jobbers came out.  

Then the Hardy Bros came out and I honestly could not recollect what they were trying to say. That was with rewinding for results and for writing the blog. This was by far the worst Riddle has been on the mic since being called up and it really is the fault of whoever wrote that because it was far too much.  

 

 

Angel Garza vs. Drew Gulak

 

The less said about the promo that preceded this match, the better.  Okay, the match.  Relatively quick and he got in much offense.  It was very nearly a jobber thing.  They basically fed Gulak to Garza – a character they are clearly restarting on.  I do like his Wing Clipper finisher.

 

 

This is very close to being a “SKIP!” but it isn’t because we got to see Garza back on tv that wasn’t in a backstage promo segment. He did hit on Sarah Schreiber so I guess he has a new backstage interviewer to hit on. The match was what it was and Garza would win.  

 

 

Backstage segment – AJ Styles & Omos

 

Dre has a pet name for Omos.  He calls him The Green Mile and I die every time he says it. It’s kinda dead on.  I love that Omos is getting a real shot and he’s so much fun.  I shall use the name out of love going forward.  The promo itself was nice and quick.  Wonder what he’s got planned on “Miz TV”?  Clearly, somethin’s-a-brewin.

 

I pretty much agree with what Botch had to say here about this segment. Omos is taking this opportunity and is making the most of it. Short and to the point and AJ clearly is not happy that Miz cashed in at TLC. We shall what AJ has in store for Miz when he appears on Miz TV.  

 

Miz TV – Miz, John Morrison, and AJ Styles (w/ Omos), & Drew McIntyre, Sheamus & Keith Lee

 

When Miz gets going and goes into his emotions, he simply cannot be beaten on the mic.  Just a stunning display here.  We even got some Omos dialog and it was decent too.  The “Marine 7” poster was a riot. Omos looked made for that poster; he TOTALLY fit.  John Morrison was always as he is – unnecessary.  He kept talking while Miz was going for it and it was really annoying.  Also not a fan of watching AJ mouthing everyone’s words while they’re talking.  He might want to get a handle on that.  The little recitation between McIntyre, Sheamus, & Lee was kinda fun.  We got a little preview of the match to come too.  The best part was the tension between Sheamus & Keith, though the start of that tension made no sense.  Still, decent segment.

 

This was a lot of fun and that Marine 7 poster had me dying. I love how AJ was excited but then it all went away when he saw how small he was. I also dug how Morrison was peeved that he wasn’t even on the poster. I, unlike Botch, do like Morrison and his goofy behavior. If you have seen the episode of Miz and Mrs. that he appears on, this is very much close to how he is in real life. Omos got a line in as well and it really made Miz think about how he should still have the MITB briefcase because he didn’t cash-in, Morrison did.  

Drew McIntyre would come out and he was as fun as usual on the mic. He would be joined by Sheamus and Keith Lee and they would recite a bit. This would lead to a bit of a skirmish and it would end with Sheamus and Lee getting in each other’s face. Drew is trying to keep the peace before their match and we shall see how well he does with that.  

 

 

Backstage segment – Sheamus, Drew McIntyre, & Keith Lee

 

Nice tension here.  I can forget that the motivation behind it made zero sense.  That just a script thing.  Keith & Sheamus both did well here and Drew also did well as the peacemaker.

 

 

Drew is doing his darndest to keep the peace between his two friends and I am loving it. We have all been there when we have to keep peace between two of our friends over something minor and he does a good job here. It seems like he has Sheamus and Lee on the same page for now.  

 

 

T-Bar vs. Ricochet

 

My ability to enjoy this match is largely predicated upon whether or not I care about Ricochet joining Retribution.  Since I don’t, this match meant nothing.  Ricochet has the personality of a manilla envelope and Retribution means absolutely nothing.  As usual, I feel bad for Mustafa, T-Bar, & Reckoning.  All three of them deserve better than this.  P.S:  If you haven’t see Raw Talk yet, it would be worth doing.  Ricochet brings out some real emotion, though Truth oddly gets in the way badly there, so maybe it’s the scripting that’s killing him softly.

 

SKIP! Yep, I said that and you won’t be missing much. The match happened and they are continuing with this storyline. I really do not know anybody that is invested in this anymore and that is such a sad thing. Dijak can be much more than this and so can everybody that is involved in this really. Also, Dijak does look a bit pudgier since being a part of Retribution. So once again, SKIP!  

 

 

Backstage segment – New Day (Xavier Woods & Kofi Kingston)

 

Both are masters on the mic.  This was quick and I have absolutely no clue what’s next for them but it was fun all the same.

 

 

I second everything that Botch had to say about this. Woods and Kofi are so good on the mic and they know how to deliver no matter how much time they are given. You have to imagine they will try and get their rematch with the Hurt Business at the Rumble and I would be all for that.  

 

 

MVP & Bobby Lashley vs. Hardy Bros (Riddle & Jeff Hardy)

 

Solid match!  Jeff took a NASTY spill off the top rope and onto the steel steps when Lashley pushed him off.  The sound it made!  He did continue the match but there’s no way he’s totally okay after that.  When Lashley put on the Hurt Lock, he applied it lopsided so as to “go easy” on Hardy’s right shoulder.  We even got the Ballin’ Elbow from MVP which, despite its throwback-ness, I still enjoy.  Riddle’s strength is nothing to play with.  That Fisherman Suplex from nowhere was really cool.

 

This was quite the fun match and the best one of the night so far. Riddle may have had a bad night on the mic but he did not have one in the ring. That is where he thrives and he did great here. He even had some nice tandem moves with Jeff here as well. Speaking of Jeff, that was quite the nasty spill he took onto the steps and it made quite the thud. Really fun match here and made all the sense for the Hurt Business to win. It also protected Riddle a bit because he did not take the submission loss and I do hope we get a match between Riddle and Lashley eventually.  

 

 

Jaxson Ryker vs. Gran Metallik (w/ Lince Dorado)

 

I have an ethical problem here.  On one hand, this did occur on Raw and, as such, I should write about it.  On the other, Chad (the guy who played Jaxson) is such an odious human being (it’s well-documented) that I really don’t want to write about him.  I’ll make this brief.  This was a jobber match that ended quickly.  I have no idea what Jaxson is doing with Elias and I really just don’t care.  There was nothing worth seeing here.  Even Elias’ promo, usually worth seeing, did nothing more than introduce a character I have no interest in seeing.  Oh well.  At least it ended quickly.  Grade withheld.

 

SKIP! Second one of the night and I have no qualms with this one other than I hate Ryker being paired with Elias. I second what Botch had to say about Ryker and I have no desire to write about that man. The match itself wasn’t even noteworthy and Ryker won by beating Gran MetalikMetalik and Lince should be in the tag title scene and not stuck with this. 

 

 

In-ring segment – Randy Orton & Alexa Bliss

 

This was just amazing.  Randy is a master storyteller and he proved it here.  The match last night was just fantastic.  When the Prelude to Fiend began, Orton’s face was just perfect.  The creepier things get, the better Alexa gets and she was great here.  A truly bizarre segment and it couldn’t have been done any better.

 

Randy is my wrestler of the year and it is because of things like this. He has had great feud after great feud and this was so good. He truly nailed it here in how much pleasure he took in reminiscing over burning the Fiend to a crisp. I liked how he was a bit shocked when the lights would go down and then we would get the return of Alexa Bliss with her playground. That was quite the image of her swinging on the swing and it gave me vibes of Nightmare on Elm Street. Alexa told Randy that the Fiend may come back as something he has not seen before and I am all for that. Best segment of the night right here.  

 

 

Asuka & Charlotte Flair vs. Peyton Royce & Lacey Evans

 

If it isn’t the Queen of Catering, Lacey Evans and Peyton Royce.  That promo at the beginning was okay but the “frenemy” thing is already being done by Jax & Baszler so yeah, totally tired.  The match was good with odd pairings on both sides.  Billie is really fun the way she is but Peyton has really floundered on her own.  They put her with Lacey ’cause… and they’re nowhere.  Charlotte & Asuka is a quickie thing that can’t possibly last.  No clue why Lacey hopped over the top rope and out of the way so Asuka could get in to interrupt Peyton’s submission move on Charlotte.  Like…what?  Peyton did a particularly poor job of selling Charlotte’s Figure Eight.

 

Like the previous women’s tag match, I just was not into this one. I am a firm believer that they never should have broken up the IIconics because Peyton is back in another tag team. I do love what Billie is doing on Smackdown but they two should be a team and tag champs right now. The match itself was what it was and that is really all I can say about it. I am just not vibing with Lacey and Peyton as a team and I think both women could be doing something much better than this. Charlotte and Asuka would win here and you have to imagine their reign will not be that long.  

 

 

Titus O’Neil

 

Just a solid human being.  Virginia is so sweet and Titus is a great guy to have anything to do with this.  He does so much good for so many.  His career as a wrestler was fun at times; his career as a humanitarian has been truly inspiring.  Here’s to you, Titus!

 

I second everything that Botch said and then some.

 

 

 

Backstage segment – The Miz, John Morrison, AJ Styles (w/ Omos)

 

Quick, fun thing.  I love that Omos (our beloved Green Mile) put the idea in his head and now Miz is going full speed ahead with it.  John really did cash in Miz’s MITB briefcase so it makes total sense.  AJ wasn’t having any of it.  Off to the match!

 

Miz was on the phone to try and get his contract back and I did enjoy how gung-ho he is about it. Morrison was warming up next to him and then AJ would appear. AJ was trying to get his attention for their match but Miz was too occupied with the phone call. AJ would end it for him and I like how Miz reacted to it. Short but fun segment.  

 

 

AJ Styles, The Miz, & John Morrison vs. Drew McIntyre, Sheamus, & Keith Lee

 

I love that though Drew is on the ride of his life, he’s still not taking himself too seriously.  Him with the cookie at the beginning was fun and him in this match at all is cool.  Ditto on AJ.  Both have taken part in some holiday-themed ridiculousness lately and it’s all in good fun.  It’s so weird seeing Keith Lee being the shortest of the team by a good few inches.  RIP to the egg nog that AJ crashed into.  As an egg nog addict, that cut me to my very core. The match itself was as much fun as you think it’d be but it also had some real repercussions.  It appears we’re getting a feud between Sheamus & Keith Lee – a feud that would generate some really fun promos and fun matches to go with them.  About time they gave Keith something of substance to do and Sheamus will likely bring something fun out of him.

P.S.:  Yes, we did see the nonsense about Keith and others being sent back down to the PC to work.  I’ll admit for about ten seconds, I bought into it to.  After a little thought, we all realized that it was likely being blown way out of proportion so we didn’t bother to cover it.

 

This was a fun match to end Raw with and I dug that Drew, Sheamus and Keith were having fun with it as well. We have heard all too much how some released talent hate being a part of this but the ones that stick around know exactly the point of these type of matches. They are meant for fun during the holiday season and that is what we got here. The heels got their chance to shine and so did the faces. There did seem to be some timing issues but they had fun with it. It almost had that house show feel to it and that is always welcomed with something that is holiday themed. I love how Morrison thought he was safe when Omos caught him but he went through the table since he cost AJ the title at TLC. Lee picked up the win but Sheamus would hit him with a Brogue Kick. I loved how Drew sold it because he vouched for him and Sheamus seems to have wasted it.  

 

 

The Last Word

Not an amazing episode of Raw but it wasn’t a disaster either.  Randy and Alexa are just platinum together and I love that from beginning to end.  Keith is finally on his way to a meaningful feud and I’m all for that.  I also love that Cedric’s arrogance continues to build.  There was terribleness here too but there are three hours to fill and it happens.  Either way, I’m glad I watched it.

 

Overall, this was not the best episode of Raw but there were some good nuggets in it. The main event was fun and I liked how they have built the tension between Lee and Sheamus with Drew caught in the middle. I am all for a program between those two and it could lead to some very good matches. The segment with Randy and Alexa was fantastic as well and by far the best of the night. The tag match between the Hurt Business and the Hardy Bros was fun too. The rest of Raw? Well, that was just kind of meh for the most part. All in all, not the best Raw but there were some things to go back to watch.