Becky Lynch finally starts a feud with Asuka! An NXT star gets called up, kind of, or maybe just makes a one-off appearance. What are the rules? And Liv Morgan has a bath! Pretty much just for the thumbnail.
Also plans for a returning big WWE star have been leaked, and there’s news on the backstage reaction to the botched TLC main event.
Click the timestamps below to jump to any of those stories right now.
I’m Oli Davis, and welcome to the 16th December 2019 Raw… in about 4 minutes!
Seth Rollins is now a heel, you know what that means? 10 to 20 minute in-ring promos to open every episode of Raw. You’ve learned well, young padawan.
Seth further fleshed out his new heel gimmick, saying that being a leader isn’t always cool, like riding e-scooters, and sometimes it’s about making unpopular decisions, also like riding an e-scooter. One of which is going to happen tonight, and for that, he’s sorry.
Kevin Owens didn’t appear on this show at all, presumably selling his injuries from last week’s beatdown. Which meant Rollins would target someone else later…
After their cluckold angle the previous night, TOP PUN!, The O.C. took on The Viking DON’T MENTION THE WAR EXPERIENCE Raiders again following their lame TLC count out finish.
The match was given time, going through two commercial breaks, and it made for a pretty decent heavyweight tag clash. Sadly the crowd were lacklustre through the whole show, though, undermining a lot of the action.
The finish woke them up, though, as Ivar was preparing a 2nd rope splash, before changing his mind and hitting a spectacular top rope moonsault on Karl Anderson. It was this tactical error that led to the Raiders’ loss, meaning the OC are still the Only Club… that’s beaten them twice.
Erick Rowan squashed an enhancement talent for touching his box giggity.
After being announced last week, Liv Morgan’s gimmick change got a more revealing vignette this week, where the voiceover talked about destroying herself so the real her can emerge. Which she’s going to do… by taking a really nice bath with loads of candles. What is this, early 00s supernatural TV series Charmed?
In what I hope is a rib, though, the promo used the exact same font as Emmalina’s often mocked, 16 week reintroduction videos. If they’re in any way similar, expect Morgan to redebut sometime in 2032.
You can hate it, you can make fun of it. You can even discover a whole new PornHub category off that back of it. But one thing you can’t do is deny the Lana, Bobby Lashley and Rusev love triangle storyline is connecting with the crowd. Lana making Lashley propose to her here got the biggest reactions of anything the whole night. And it’s going to be Lana Day for a while until that stops happening.
WWE don’t lead the wrestling world in many things, but over the last few years, they have become the best promotion at booking gauntlet matches, completely reviving the stipulation and making several star pushes off the back of them.
This one to decide the No. 1 contender to Rey Mysterio’s United States title, however, wasn’t one of their best.
Akira Tozawa got a rare win rolling up R-Truth early. Then Ricochet beat Tozawa in very good action, but to no crowd reaction. They woke up for Matt Hardy’s nostalgia pop entrance, but quieted again for the actual match, until booking the seemingly botched finish as Matt appeared to kick out with the three count.
Humberto Carillo and Ricochet had the best in-ring action of the night, smartly setting up babyface vs babyface as Carillo helped a tired Ricochet up to start the match, for Ricochet to desperately attempt a quick roll-up. It allowed Carillo to be justifiably annoyed, creating a better dynamic. The story would’ve been better overall, though, if either Carillo or Ricochet started the gauntlet.
Humberto won with a moonsault, but was then attacked from behind by the final competitor Andrade in a smart bit of Zelina Vega misdirection – with there being no mention of Andrade and Vega’s break-up storyline from the last week.
Andrade took Carillo out with a great-looking Hammerlock DDT on the exposed concrete outside to be chased off by Mysterio – meaning the gauntlet match we’d just invested over half an hour in just fizzled out.
It was all really a way to set up Seth vs Rey for the first time ever next week, as Rollins and the AOP attacked Mysterio afterwards. Which is both for the title and very exciting. It just makes the whole gauntlet match we’d just watched a bit pointless.
The injured Kairi Sane couldn’t even accompany Asuka to the ring for the next match, only appearing on the stage. Whether this was always the plan following the botched TLC main event for the women’s tag team titles, positioning Asuka as a singles competitor is long overdue – beating a surprise Deonna Purazzo appearance from NXT (which appears to be more cameo than call-up) – Caruso Alert! For Becky Lynch to challenge Asuka in a sit-down interview to avenge all the times she’s beaten her. It was a fascinating piece of character motivation for Lynch, who partly blamed WWE for protecting her from losing her title by putting her in the tag division. Interestingly, the complete opposite of her real-life fiance Seth’s character – who blames his fellow wrestlers and us fans for his losses.
And the main event saw a really good match between AJ Styles and Randy Orton, mostly based around the two men countering each others’ moves, and some great Calf Crusher selling from Orton. The finish saw an RKO FROM OUTTA… two fake out Phenomenal Forearm spots, meaning Randy won. Probably the right result, but I wouldn’t have AJ lose two consecutive Raw main events.
WWE seemed to agree, as the closing visual was the O.C. getting the heat back, beating down both Randy and the Viking Raiders.
That was this week’s Raw in about 4 minutes. Click the i above my head to let me know what you thought of the show, where you can choose from Rawsome, Cor, AvRAWge, Poor, and Rawful.
I thought this was a fine episode. There was nothing actively bad on it, and the Seth vs Rey and Becky vs Asuka feuds are very exciting. But there was nothing actively great on it either. You can blame the quiet crowd, but that’s really only a symptom – caused by years of WWE failing to create wrestling characters they can properly get invested in. This week’s Raw is a low AvRAWge.
And now onto Pete for the backstage reaction to TLC’s botched main event finish…
Last night’s episode of Raw wasn’t the only episode to be taped last night, with next week’s episode of Raw being taped straight afterwards too. As such, there are spoilers galore for next week’s Raw, so if you don’t want to know them, skip ahead using the timestamps below, but the plans for a major WWE star returning have seemingly been revealed on the show.
Last chance for spoilers. Entering the spoiler room brawl in 3, 2, CM PUNK RETURNED ON RAW, just kidding, 1…
Samoa Joe has been out of action in WWE for quite some time now, with him filling in roles on WWE Backstage, pre-show panels as an analyst, and joining the Raw commentary team. It’s the latter of these three roles that seems to have come into play for next week’s taping.
As was announced on this week’s episode, Seth Rollins faced Rey Mysterio for the United States Championship, however the match ended via DQ when AOP interfered. They looked to beat down Mysterio after the bell, with them moving to the announce table, looking to put Mysterio through it.
However, Samoa Joe at the desk refused to move, instead staring down AOP and Seth Rollins. AOP didn’t take kindly to this, instead beating down Samoa Joe and putting him through the announce table instead. Seth Rollins then delivered a Stomp to Mysterio to close the show.
This is interesting for several reasons. It’s quite clear that Joe is now cleared for action, hence how he can take a bump such as that through an announce table, and it’s interesting he has defended Mysterio. Has he turned face? His commentary would certainly suggest so, but this may then also lead to something like Samoa Joe, Rey Mysterio and Kevin Owens vs Seth Rollins and AOP, which is a tantalizing prospect.
Plus this would slot Joe back towards the top of the card, instead of floundering around lower mid-card feuds and getting rolled up every week. Fingers crossed they attempt to properly use him once again and he’s a formidable force to be reckoned with against AOP and Seth, rather than being the third man that needs to take the pin.
Speaking of properly using people, and it seems certain backstage personnel were not properly used at TLC. What a segue. There’s been a report that has surfaced detailing some of the backstage ongoings during the TLC show on Sunday, including an update for Kairi Sane and her injury.
According to John Pollock of POST Wrestling, both Vince McMahon and Triple H missed the show, with them both having other commitments to attend to. They both produced the show via a conference call during the production meeting, however they were not there in person while the show was going on. Vince was probably busy planning his next cucking angle.
In a further update to this, Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer has backed up that story, and added some details of his own. In Triple H and Vince McMahon’s absence, Paul Heyman was responsible for running the Raw matches, while Bruce Prichard was in charge of the SmackDown matches.
This then means that Paul Heyman was the one responsible for the women’s tag title main event, in which Kairi Sane seemed to pick up an injury very early on, which derailed the match going forward.
Meltzer noted that it was “pretty much universally agreed” that the main event was handled poorly, with the general feeling being that a doctor should have been sent out once it became clear Kairi had been knocked out, with the power to potentially stop the match or instruct them to head straight to the finish.
This would of course have led to some more complications, considering that if Sane was taken away, Asuka would then have to fight a 2-on-1 handicap match, and win, which doesn’t really fit with the heel booking of the Kabuki Warriors, potentially leading to an upswing of support for Asuka and with the crowd turning on Lynch and Charlotte. Plans would have needed to be altered drastically, however it may have saved Kairi from further punishment.
In an update on Kairi’s status, she has posted a thumbs up to Twitter, which clearly means she is ok and everything is fine, however according to Pro Wrestling Sheet, she is not medically cleared to wrestle right now, with the latest reports suggesting that she was knocked out during the first few minutes of the match, which only progressed later in the match with the more bumps she took.
WrestleTalk would like to wish Kairi Sane a speedy recovery. Hope to see you back soon, champ.
Have the Royal Rumble winners been leaked? Press the video to the right to find out more, and press the video below that to find out more about an ex-WWE star appearing at AEW! A special thank you to our pledgehammers on Patreon, some of whom you can see scrolling below me right now! I’ve been Chopper Pete Quinnell, and that, was wrestling.