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The John Report: The WWE Raw Deal 12/26/16

Posted By: John Canton on Dec 27, 2016

It's the last Raw of 2016. I hope you had a Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah or whatever it is you may have celebrated. I had a great Christmas, took about four days off from writing, which felt good, but it's time to get back into it. What was advertised going into this show? Absolutely nothing. Good effort, WWE.

Live from Chicago, Illinois this is the Raw Deal for episode #1231. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport.

Raw begins with a video package showcasing the rampage and destruction caused by Braun Strowman last week. Apparently his powerslam is deadly.

The Raw Commissioner Stephanie McMahon entered the ring for a promo because this is Raw where promos almost always start the show. The announce team of Michael Cole, Corey Graves and Byron Saxton welcomed us to the show.

Stephanie sucked up to the Chicago crowd welcoming them to Raw. She said no Mick Foley because she gave him the week off. The fans chanted "CM Punk" at her. Stephanie responded to CM Punk chants saying: "If you guys can keep that up for 2 minutes, 15 seconds you'd last one second longer than Punk did." Ouch. Here comes Seth Rollins.

Analysis: Good line by Steph as a heel character. Pissed off the crowd a lot. It was a reference to his UFC fight a few months ago when he lost in 2:14 in round one. It drew a big reaction. I miss CM Punk in WWE, for the record, but if he hated it then it’s fine that he left. His life and his choice.

Rollins entered the ring to a loud ovation. He asked Stephanie if she got Hunter his manhood back for Christmas. Stephanie said that Hunter is still the COO of the company and Rollins said Hunter used to be a badass in the ring. He talked about how he's begging Hunter to come out there, but his wife has him in a suit and tie or at home with the kids. Rollins talked about how Hunter will be remembered as the biggest coward of all time. She said she doesn't boss her husband around. He said he wanted a match against Braun Strowman. Here comes Roman Reigns, to a chorus of boos.

Reigns had the US Title with him. Stephanie asked Roman if he wants to face Braun Strowman as well. When Reigns spoke, the crowd booed him and he said he's there to fight Strowman. Rollins said he asked for Strowman first. They argued about who gets to fight Strowman and then agreed to go to the back to beat up Strowman. Stephanie goes: "Yeah let's do it" and suggested a Shield pose to kill the moment. She mentioned that Dean Ambrose might be in the area since Smackdown is in the same building tomorrow night and asked if they should reunite the Shield. Loud "yes" chants. She said that's too bad because it ain't going to happen. She laughed at the crowd saying they are too easy. (FYI: Ambrose was actually in NYC at the Smackdown MSG show.)

Analysis: The same crowd that booed Reigns heavily five minutes earlier cheered him heavily when he suggested that they put Strowman through a table. Wrestling fans never know what they want.

Stephanie told Rollins he gets a match against Braun Strowman. Stephanie also informed Reigns that he'll defend the US Title against an opponent of Stephanie's choice. She also announced a Tag Team Title rematch is up next.

The New Day made their entrance. They dumped Booty O's cereal on some kids. Big E said "the longest reigning tag team champs" instead of "two time tag team champs" for the entrance.

Analysis: It was a typical 15 minute opening segment that was used to set up matches later in the show. Stephanie's character is very annoying in a bad way. She's not a performer. It's just that her heel boss shtick is old and needs to go away. Why not actually advertise matches before Raw begins so people have something to look forward to? Smackdown advertised four things for this week. Raw could have done the same, but they choose not to. It's weird to me.

(Commercial)

The Tag Team Champions Cesaro & Sheamus made their entrance. Lots of yay/boo chants for them with Sheamus still in the heel role.

Raw Tag Team Championships: Cesaro & Sheamus vs. The New Day's Xavier Woods & Kofi Kingston (w/Big E)

It's a different match with Big E not in the ring. Quick start by Kingston and Woods with dropkicks on Sheamus followed by multiple elbow drops. Cesaro tagged in, was met with a dropkick and New Day did the unicorn stampede in the corner leading to double dropkicks. A legdrop by Woods earned a two count. Cesaro with an uppercut. Woods was up against the ropes, the referee kept Cesaro back, so Sheamus tossed Woods over the top to the floor as the show went to break about three minutes into it.

(Commercial)

Back from break, Woods was trying to fight out of the corner of the champs. Sheamus with a backbreaker leading to Cesaro jumping off the ropes with a knee drop for a two count. Woods nearly got a tag, but Sheamus cut him off. That was brief because Woods tagged in Kingston. It led to Kingston nailing a dive on Cesaro on the floor. Kingston followed with the SOS on Sheamus for two. Woods tagged in, Sheamus was 3/4 of the way across the ring and Woods hit a flying elbow drop for a two count. Cesaro made the save for his partner for the nearfall. Cesaro tagged in with a sunset flip into the Cesaro Swing on Woods. Big E was on the apron causing a distraction. Cesaro caught Kingston when he was going for a Trouble in Paradise. Cesaro managed to pick up Cesaro and launched him onto Big E on the floor. Woods with a forearm on Cesaro. Sheamus tagged in, Woods never saw it, Woods went for the Honor Roll on Cesaro and Sheamus hit a Brogue Kick on Woods to pin him to retain the titles. It went about 11 minutes.

Winners by pinfall: Sheamus & Cesaro

Post match, Big E and Kingston helped Woods to the back while the champs celebrated.

Analysis: *** Good match, but not at the level of their title change match at Roadblock a few weeks ago. It didn't shock me that Woods took the pin since he's not in the matches as often as the other two guys, but I think Woods is very good in the ring like Kingston and Big E. I like the way that Sheamus and Cesaro continue to work well as a team with crucial saves as well as the blind tag by Sheamus leading to the Brogue Kick victory. It really works well for the team. Now that New Day has lost their rematch, I wonder if they will feud with another team or if they will be split up soon. I think the split is most likely leading to a possible angle at the Royal Rumble. That's just a guess on my part at this point.

Coming up later: Rollins vs. Strowman. Also, there's a look at Brock Lesnar coming up next.

A commercial aired about John Cena on Smackdown Live this week. He's been off TV since early October.

(Commercial)

The announcers mentioned we are just five weeks away from the Royal Rumble. They talked about 30 men entering the match, so that's good that they aren't making it 40 men again just because it's going to be a four hour show.

A video package aired about Brock Lesnar to remind us about him as if they think we don't know who he is. There were clips of Lesnar throwing suplexes and hitting the F5 on different people.

Next week on Raw: Goldberg returns. The first Raw of the year is usually a big one, so that's no surprise.

Braun Strowman was shown walking backstage. He scared some people. Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho were standing by. Owens said that Strowman was the man that they wanted to see. Jericho said he would not want to be on the List of Strowman: "Squash em down, man." Owens said that once he beats Roman Reigns at the Royal Rumble, Strowman is next in line at the Universal Title. Jericho claimed that Rollins and Reigns said they want to cut down Strowman like a tree. They kept on going with Owens suggesting that they wanted Strowman to take up crossfit. Jericho said Rollins claimed that Strowman didn't win against Sami Zayn because he (Strowman) is a stupid idiot. Strowman was angry. Owens said rumors suck.

Analysis: It was a way for the smartass heel duo of Owens and Jericho to fire up the angry guy Strowman. There were some funny lines in there.

In another part of the backstage area, Goldust & R-Truth were there. Bayley showed up to say she had a belated Christmas present for her friend Goldust. She gave Truth a hug. She gave Goldust a bear that had the polka dots symbolizing Dusty Rhodes. She said she loved him very much. Goldust thanked her and gave her a big hug. Bayley left. Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson showed up to call them nerds. Anderson grabbed the teddy bear and ripped it up.

Analysis: The Dusty bear was a nice gesture at first. No surprise that a heel would ruin it. I thought it might be later in the show, but they did it right away.

Cody Rhodes was angry about it and let it be known on Twitter.

It's just a wrestling angle, but I understand why he would be upset by it. If Goldust, his brother, can agree to it then Cody should understand too.

(Commercial)

The announcers set up a replay from last week when Nia Jax beat up an injured Sasha Banks.

Nia Jax made her entrance. Her song is catchy. Maybe. Sort of. I don't know.

Her opponent is some woman named Scarlett. Charly Caruso interviewed her outside the ring. Scarlett said that Sasha Banks inspired her and wishes she was there. She was wearing a Banks shirt.

Nia Jax vs. Scarlett

Jax kicked her, tossed her across the ring and splashed her against the turnbuckle. Running hip attack by Jax in the corner. Jax gave Scarlett a Samoan Drop, then faced the hard camera and covered for the win after about one minute.

Winner by pinfall: Nia Jax

Post match, Jax told her to choose a better role model. Jax hit a leg drop. She left.

Analysis: 1/4* It was just a squash match to put over Jax in a dominant way, which is something that has happened many times on Raw this year.

Bayley was shown backstage walking to the ring.

(Commercial)

There was a shot of Charlotte backstage and she shook Stephanie's hand. No idea what was said.

Owens and Jericho showed up in Stephanie's office to complain about Jericho in a shark cage with Jericho calling himself a sexy piñata again. Jericho complained about it with Owens wondering if Stephanie was going to change it. They moved on to talking about Roman Reigns having a US Title match. She told them that Owens will get the shot at the US Title. Jericho seemed okay with it as Owens told him they'll make history.

Analysis: They're doing Reigns vs. Owens again after doing it at Roadblock and also on the November 28th edition of Raw. I guess there aren't many options, but I was hoping for something different. Doing the same match three times in less than a month when it’s also the Universal Title match is too much.

Bayley made her entrance at the top of hour two. She received a nice ovation from the crowd.

Bayley entered the ring to say that she loved Chicago. She said Christmas came early last week because she pinned Charlotte for the third time in a row. She said it makes her the new number one contender. Ever since she was a kid all she has dreamt about was holding that Women's Championship.

The Raw Women's Champion Charlotte Flair made her entrance. She's wearing a robe and is in her gear like Bayley. The crowd booed her, but some fans did the "WOO" chant. Charlotte stood on the ramp to address Bayley. Charlotte told Bayley that she didn't beat her. Bayley said when the ref counts to three and raises your hand you have won the match. Charlotte called her a child. There was a replay of the finish last week when Charlotte got her shoulder up, but the ref never saw it.

Charlotte said that her shoulder was up before the three count. Charlotte talked about how her lawyers talked to Stephanie McMahon last night and due to the referee's error the victory by Bayley has been expunged from the record book. That means it never happened. Charlotte went in the ring saying she knows how the system worked and made it work for her. Charlotte claimed that she will give Bayley a second chance at her childhood dream - the opportunity to defeat her right now. Charlotte said that in her settlement she was guaranteed a ref that would call it down the line.

Dana Brooke walked out dressed as the referee. She may be the bustiest referee in wrestling history.

Analysis: The repeating of the matches from the Raw brand continues.

They reminded us that coming up later is Seth Rollins vs. Braun Strowman and Roman Reigns vs. Kevin Owens for the US Title.

The women's match is up next.

(Commercial)

Charlotte Flair vs. Bayley

Dana Brooke is the referee. This is not for the Raw Women's Title.

Charlotte opened up with some chops early on. Bayley tried to get some offense in, but Brooke told her to back off. Bayley hit her with a Bayley to Belly suplex on Brooke. It led to Brooke going to the floor. Bayley with a hiptoss and clothesline with a regular referee going into the ring to take over. Bayley hulked up after Charlotte sent her in to the turnbuckle and Bayley did the ten head slams into the turnbuckle. Bayley with a cross body block off the top for a two count. Elbow smash in the corner from Bayley. Charlotte with a backbreaker and sent Bayley face first into the middle turnbuckle. Bayley went for the Bayley to Belly, but Brooke pulled the ref out of the ring when he tried to count the fall. Brooke said that she's the ref. They went into the ring, Charlotte did a ROLLUP OF DEATH~! with her feet on the ropes and Brooke did a fast count to give Charlotte the win. It went about five minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Charlotte Flair

Analysis: *1/4 It was an angle more than a match. Cheap heel win for the champion. At least a champion retained a non-title match. Of course the ROLLUP OF DEATH~! was used to end the match as well. The story is just okay at this point. It's likely going to lead a title match at the Royal Rumble.

Stephanie McMahon was shown walking backstage. She walked up to Braun Strowman that was apparently strangling somebody. Strowman said he wanted to know where Sami Zayn was. Stephanie said that she didn't know where Sami was, so she said she can give Strowman a match next week against him. Strowman said he wanted a Last Man Standing match with Zayn. Stephanie said it's on for next week. She told Strowman that he wants him to picture Zayn when he sees Rollins as her way to motivate him. Strowman left.

Analysis: Can Zayn win again next week? Maybe. A Last Man Standing match could be used to put Zayn over and not have Strowman get pinned. I think Strowman will win.

Neville entered for a match against TJ Perkins up next.

(Commercial)

The great Austin Aries sat in on commentary replacing Byron Saxton for this match. Aries is great on commentary on 205 Live.

Neville vs. TJ Perkins

No handshake by Neville before the match. Perkins with a dropkick followed by a running knee. Perkins hit a spin kick that didn't really connect, but Neville bumped to the floor. Perkins with a corkscrew plancha onto Neville on the floor. Back in the ring, Perkins with a cross body block for a two count. Fans were chanting for Aries. Neville nailed a roundhouse kick while Perkins was on the apron to give Neville control of the match. Neville sent Perkins into the barricade. Neville chinlock. Perkins got back in control with a dropkick and a double chickenwing into a gutbuster for a good nearfall. Neville tried to a come back, but Perkins caught him with a Detonation Kick. Perkins went for a knee bar, Neville sat on top, covered and pulled on the tights for the win after about six minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Neville

Analysis: **1/2 A cheap win for the heel Neville to establish that he's an evil man these days. That's why he grabbed the tights for the win. Lots of offense for Perkins, which is the common way of booking people in matches where they get screwed out of the win.

Neville was interviewed by Charly Caruso while on the ramp. He said when he leaves a line of bodies in your wake, everybody wants to talk to you. Neville spoke about how people usually only talk to him because they're making fun of his accent, thinking he's land and thinking his face isn't good enough for Raw. He told America it's their arrogance and ignorance that prevented them from appreciating him. Neville said that tomorrow he's going to beat the Cruiserweight Champion Rich Swann because you're looking at the king of the cruiserweights. He left.

Analysis: Solid heel promo by Neville. When he turned heel he focused on ripping the other cruiserweights. This time it was more about blasting the fans for not supporting him enough. I'm optimistic about his heel run and happy he's on Raw after not having a role for so many months.

A replay aired of Enzo getting beat up by Rusev and Jinder last week.

Backstage, Big Cass was shown backstage pushing Enzo in a wheelchair. They're up next.

(Commercial)

There was a plug for Smackdown Live's "Wild Card Finals" show on Tuesday night: Bliss vs. Lynch for the Smackdown Women's Titles, Wyatt Family defends the Smackdown Tag Team Titles in a four way match and Styles vs. Ziggler vs. Corbin for the WWE Title.

Analysis: The "Wild Card Finals" name really is pretty random after they mentioned it last week. Other than that, I like the card a lot. It feels like a big show.

Big Cass and Enzo Amore made their entrance. They did the usual promo at the top of the ramp. Cass wheeled him down to the ring. Enzo said he's already certified because he's got a degree from Certified G University. He mentioned Rusev and Jinder Mahal attacking him two on one last week. Enzo did his "cuppa haters" routine. Cass grabbed the microphone and went into the ring. Cass called Rusev a coward while telling him that he couldn't do something like that to Cass because if he tried, Cass would slap the taste out of his mouth just like. Cass said if you've got a problem with Enzo then you've got a problem with him (Cass). Cass told Rusev to come out there right now to do something about it.

Rusev walked out with his hot wife Lana. Jinder Mahal walked out with him. The heels tried to corner Cass, but Enzo popped out of the wheelchair to trip up Mahal on the apron. Cass nailed Rusev with punches and a clothesline sent Rusev out of the ring. Cass tossed Enzo off the steps onto Mahal, who was seated in the wheelchair. Rusev retreated up the ramp. Enzo limped into the ring with his buddy.

Analysis: I figured they might do the tag match this week, but I'm okay with building it some more. It could happen next week. When it does happen, Mahal is likely going to be the guy that gets pinned in the match. This feud has been pretty awful, by the way.

Rollins vs. Strowman still to come.

(Commercial)

PLUG TIME: My 8th annual WWE Johnny Awards column will be posted this Wednesday, December 28. It’s my favorite column of the year. The archive of past awards are here. Here’s a spoiler: The Shining Stars will not win the Tag Team of the Year. Shocking, I know.

The Shining Stars (Primo & Epico) vs. Bo Dallas & Darren Young (w/Bob Backlund)

The reason Dallas and Young were teaming is because they were in sensitivity training together last week. Primo with a dropkick to Young and Strowman made his way down to the ring. It led to the ref calling for the bell after about one minute.

Match Result: Nobody cares because Brauny the Strowman knew this match would suck and decided to interfere.

Strowman grabbed a Christmas tree and threw it into Dallas. Strowman nailed Primo with a forearm. Strowman crushed Young with a clothesline. Epico hit Strowman in the back with a chair, but it had no effect. Huge clothesline by Strowman on Epico. Outside the ring, Strowman threw Young into Backlund. Strowman threw the top half of the stairs into Epico, Primo and Dallas to knock them down. Strowman went back in to the ring to do some more yelling as the show ended. Fans chanted: “Thank You Strowman.”

Analysis: No point in rating the match. It was just another way to put over Strowman as a devastating monster. If you keep having him interfere in bad matches it may turn him face, though.

Replays aired of Strowman’s destruction. Strowman remained in the ring for his match up next.

(Commercial)

A video package aired showing the destruction caused by Strowman on last week’s Raw when he beat up Reigns and Rollins. “Everyone will fall” according to Strowman.

It’s the top of hour three as Seth Rollins made his entrance.

Braun Strowman vs. Seth Rollins

Strowman tossed Rollins across the ring. Rollins knocked him out of the ring, went for a suicide dive, Strowman no sold it and went back in the ring with a shoulder tackle. Clubbing forearm from Strowman. Rollins nailed a kick to the face, he avoided a corner attack causing Strowman to hit the turnbuckle. Rollins with a flying knee to the face two times in a row staggered Strowman. Rollins off the top again, Strowman caught him and drove him back first into the turnbuckle. Rollins came back with a Blockbuster off the top rope. Back body drop by Strowman sent Rollins over the top to the floor. Running clothesline by Strowman on Rollins on the floor. Sami Zayn’s music hit. Strowman turned to face the aisle, but Zayn attacked him from behind with a punch. Ref called for the bell due to the disqualification after four minutes.

Winner by disqualification: Braun Strowman

Analysis: *1/2 A solid effort by both guys in the time they were given. A cheap ending was obvious because I didn’t think WWE was going to book either man to lose a match like this. Guys like Zayn and Rollins are the best opponent on Raw for Strowman in terms of hoping for a good match one day.

Zayn shoved Strowman into the ring post three times. Fans were chanting “Sami” for Zayn. Strowman yelled some more, Zayn ran away, jumped over the barricade, Strowman chased after him and they ran to the back.

Analysis: Good attack by Zayn. It made sense for him to get away before Strowman could get his hands on him. Solid build to their Last Man Standing match next week.

Chris Jericho snuck into the ring. Rollins staggered to his feet, he turned around and Jericho dropped him with a Codebreaker. Referees went in the ring to try to separate Jericho from Rollins. When Rollins got back to his feet, Jericho went back at him with another Codebreaker to knock him down. Jericho posed over a fallen Rollins to a mix of cheers and boos from the crowd. Jericho left.

Analysis: Cheap attack from a heel when Rollins was already banged up after a match with Strowman. Good way to send a message to Rollins. The idea is that Jericho wanted to take out Rollins before the main event match.

Owens was shown watching on a monitor backstage. Charly Caruso showed up to ask a question with Owens saying he can’t answer because he tuned out when she started talking. Owens mentioned that Jericho just took out Rollins, which means that we will have a new US Champion and “their” names are Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho. That’s when Jericho showed up to say they will own the US Title. Owens said let’s go because she’s annoying him. Jericho called her “Chuck” and left.

Analysis: They talked about what I just mentioned with Jericho taking out Rollins to prevent an attack later.

(Commercial)

There was another Emmalina photo collage video that aired. She spoke saying that we’ve waited so long, but she promises it will be worth the wait.

Analysis: It’s been three months now. I feel bad for her having to wait so long to make her return. Earlier in the year she had major back surgery. She worked hard to get back in the ring and they don’t even use her for three months where she could have been in the ring contributing to the show.

Anderson and Gallows were in the ring. R-Truth did the Golden Truth rap into the ring with Goldust joining him.

Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson vs. Golden Truth – Goldust & R-Truth

Goldust nailed Anderson with punches. Goldust whipped him into the corner. Goldust was mad about the bear thing earlier, so he was very aggressive to start the match. Truth with a hip toss on Anderson followed by a leg drop. Gallows tagged in and a boot to the face from Gallows knocked down Truth. Running kick by Anderson on Truth earned a two count. Goldust got the hot tag against Anderson with a snap powerslam. Anderson went to the floor, so Goldust whipped him into the barricade. Running bulldog by Goldust on Anderson in the ring. Gallows on the apron, Goldust punched him and Anderson did a ROLLUP OF DEATH~! on Goldust to win the match. No tights pull since there are no tights on Goldust’s outfit. The match went four minutes.

Winners by pinfall: Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson

Analysis: ** A predictable win from Gallows & Anderson, who are higher on the tag team totem pole than the Golden Truth are. G&A can beat teams like this, but lose when titles are on the line. The crowd didn’t seem to care too much. Second match on the show where a heel won with the ROLLUP OF DEATH~! because apparently people in WWE don’t coordinate finishes so that they are not repeated. Neville's win was cheap too, so third match with a similar finish.

The Cruiserweight Champion Rich Swann was shown walking backstage. He walked by Noam Dar chatting with Dana Brooke, which could lead to something.

(Commercial)

The video aired for John Cena’s return on Smackdown Live this week. The announcers also mentioned the three title matches as well.

Rich Swann vs. Ariya Daivari

This is not for Swann’s Cruiserweight Championship. The great Austin Aries replaced Saxton on commentary for this match. Daivari hit a neckbreaker for a two count. Daivari up top for a frog splash, but Swann moved out of the way. Two clotheslines from Swann, kick to the gut and double foot stomp to the spine of Daivari. Swann with a spin kick to the face of Daivari for the win after less than two minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Rich Swann

Analysis: * That’s the definition of a rushed match. I assume it was cut short on time because they were doing these high impact moves so early in the match and ended it after less than two minutes.

Swann was interviewed on the ramp by Charly Caruso. Swann called Neville a royal sourpuss. He said that despite the bitterness, Neville is still one of the better athletes in WWE. He said if it’s a fight Neville wants then it’s a fight Neville will get. Neville showed up with a punch to knock him down. Neville whipped Swann into the side of the ring apron. Neville set up Swann in the corner, set him up so he was face first against the mat and Neville went up top to hit the Red Arrow to the back.

Analysis: Heel Neville is doing a great job. That was a predictable attack, but it worked. It builds up their match on 205 Live on Tuesday night as well.

Goldberg returns next week. A video package is up next.

(Commercial)

Ariya Daivari was interviewed backstage by Charly Caruso. He said the only factor for his loss was the possible interference from the scoundrel Jack Gallagher. It led to Gallagher showing up in a suit. Daivari called him a scoundrel again. Gallagher challenged him to a duel. Gallagher took out leather glove and slapped him in the face.

Analysis: It sets up another match between them on 205 Live unless they are really going to have a duel…whatever that means.

A video package aired about Bill Goldberg’s return to WWE including his victory over Brock Lesnar at Survivor Series. I’m still surprised that they had Lesnar lose in under two minutes. It got people talking, so it worked in that regard. The video also showed Goldberg's speech the next night on Raw when he said he’ll be in the Royal Rumble.

Analysis: Goldberg’s presence in the Royal Rumble will certainly help the match in terms of star power. I think Goldberg and Lesnar will take out eachother so that neither man wins, but it sets up their next match at WrestleMania. I’m sure I’m not the only one thinking that either.

There was another reminder of Goldberg appearing on Raw next week in Tampa.

Also next week on Raw: Strowman vs. Zayn in a Last Man Standing Match.

The Universal Champion Kevin Owens made his entrance alone. He held up the Universal Title, which he is not defending in this match.

(Commercial)

The matches advertised for 205 Live on Tuesday night: Swann vs. Neville and Gallagher vs. Daivari in a Gentlemen’s Duel.

The United States Champion Roman Reigns made his entrance. I guess the fans forgot when they cheered him earlier in the night when he talked about working with Rollins. They hate him by himself, but like him with Rollins. Simple enough to understand.

United States Championship: Roman Reigns vs. Kevin Owens

This is their third match I’ve reviewed in the last four weeks. Owens’ Universal Title is not on the line, which means he’s going to lose. I wrote “Winner by pinfall: Roman Reigns” before the bell rang.

Reigns was the aggressor early, so Reigns went after him on the floor. Back in the ring, they exchanged punches. Reigns with a clothesline off the ropes. Chris Jericho’s music hit and he ran down to the ring. Owens capitalized with a DDT for a two count. Senton by Owens earned a two count.

(Commercial)

Back from break, Reigns hit Owens with some clotheslines to take control. Owens came back with a superkick followed by a cannonball in the corner. Chinlock city time by Owens. Fans were so bored that they chanted “CM Punk” at them. What? No Stephanie showing up to mock him for his UFC loss? Owens dumped Reigns to the floor and whipped Reigns into the barricade. Reigns with a Drive By dropkick on Owens and he threw Owens into the barricade. More clotheslines by Reigns because that’s what he does. Boot to the face by Reigns followed by a Samoan Drop for a two count. Owens came back with a backstabber (double knees to the back) for a two count. They exchanged forearm shots and Reigns nailed a sitout Powerbomb for a two count. Owens got a rollup for two. Reigns came back with a Superman Punch for two. People always buy that as a finish even though it’s just good for a nearfall every time. Jericho on the apron to distract, Reigns bought it like an idiot and Owens hit a Codebreaker for a two count. Good nearfall. Seth Rollins ran down to the ring so I guess he’s fine after taking two finishers. Rollins kicked Jericho and gave him a Pedigree on the floor. Owens with a superkick on Rollins on the floor. Owens back in the ring, he turned around and Reigns hit the Spear for the predictable win at the 17 minute mark.

Winner by pinfall: Roman Reigns

Analysis: *** It was their usual match that hit the three-star level like most of their matches. At least it was better than their Roadblock match, which I didn’t like that much. Reigns shouldn’t be the US Champion since he seems to be above it, but this is WWE where Reigns is always going to look strong. Owens is one of the most poorly booked champions of a major title that there’s ever been.

Post match, Rollins went into the ring and hit a Pedigree on Owens. Reigns left the ring and hit a Spear on Jericho on the floor.

The show ended with Reigns holding up the US Title while Rollins was at his side. They were left standing tall while Owens and Jericho were out on the floor. That’s it for the last Raw of 2016.

Analysis: It was similar to the ending of Roadblock with Reigns and Rollins working together to look strong at the end of the night. I was thinking that Strowman might show up again, but I guess he was out of the picture after chasing Zayn.

 

Three Stars of the Show

1. Kevin Owens

2. Roman Reigns

3. Seth Rollins

 

The Scoreboard

5 out of 10

Last week: 4.5

2016 Average: 5.77

2016 Average since brand split starting July 25: 5.89 (Smackdown is 6.32)

Last 5 Weeks: 4.5, 7, 6.5, 7, 7

2016 High: 9 (April 11/July 25)

2016 Low: 4 (Feb. 29/Mar. 21/Aug. 15)

 

Final Thoughts

I give it a 5 out of 10.

That’s a below average score based on the yearly average and the average post brand split. It felt like a repeat episode, to be perfectly honest.

I keep waiting for Raw to do something fresh and exciting. Instead of that we get the same matches all the time such as Owens vs. Reigns and Charlotte vs. Bayley again. The tag title match was pretty good at least, but not at the level of their Roadblock match.

The Strowman angle is going well. It’s one of the few things on the show that feels fresh. I just don’t know how excited I am to see more of Strowman. I mentioned it in last week’s Raw Deal when I said that Strowman might win the Royal Rumble.

I was disappointed that there was no video package showing highlights from the last year in WWE. Just because they stopped doing the Slammy Awards doesn’t mean we have to completely forget about the highlights from the past year. They should have spent 3-4 minutes showing clips to remind us of what happened in the last year.

It would have been nice for the last Raw of the year to be a better show. Instead it was just average like most episodes of Raw in the last few months. At least next week could be better with Goldberg’s return.

Happy New Year!

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That's all for now. See ya next time for the Smackdown review.

Thanks for reading. Go Toronto Raptors. Go Toronto Maple Leafs.

John Canton – mrjohncanton@gmail.com

Twitter @johnreport

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