My God, Raw actually opened with a match this week! It really is a Christmas miracle! Ronda Rousey and Natalya teamed up against Tamina and Nia Jax, so it was two sets of best friends battling it out for supremacy! I mean, it wasn’t, because the Riott Squad came out and attacked Natalya for a disqualification in less than two minutes. Ronda was very upset about the whole thing and you could tell because she was making her mean faces.
Alexa Bliss then decided to get a bit of promo time to help hype her new role as the overseer of the Raw women’s division, which led to another confrontation with Bayley and Sasha Banks. They announced that they plan to be tag team partners for life (so I guess one or the other will turn on the other within a couple of weeks…) and that they want to be the first ever WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions. To that end, Alexa booked them into a tag team match against Mickie James and Alicia Fox, which Bayley and Sasha won without any real issue, probably because they’ve fought almost constantly for about a year now.
Scott Dawson came out to, rightfully, complain about the Lucha House Party constantly forcing him and Dash Wilder into handicap tag team matches…which of course led to a three-on-one handicap match that saw Dawson staring up at the lights once more. I…just don’t understand, are we supposed to find the Revival being buried like this amusing, is that it? We’re supposed to cheer the lucha boys because they’re all flippy-dippy and colourful and boo the Revival because they’re getting their comeuppance, maybe? But…comeuppance from what? They have literally done nothing of merit, certainly nothing to deserve constantly being against the odds, so I really question this booking. Why not have the luchas on SmackDown! Live so they can feud with SAnitY instead in six-man tag team matches?
Baron Corbin then hosted “Drew McIntyre Appreciation Night”, which is also a bit of a joke as Drew, for all his prominence, hasn’t exactly won much of merit apart from that match against Kurt Angle the other week. Corbin gave him a medal for that victory; Drew than ran down Finn Balor and also again declared that he was splitting from Dolph Ziggler, which led to a match between the two. Not being funny but I don’t get how this break-up is supposed to be different from the last one? I guess because a match actually came out of it? Also, does this now make Ziggler a face again? Anyway, this was all about Drew dominating Dolph and Ziggler trying to rally against his power with his unique offense; Balor popped out to attack McIntyre, which allowed Ziggler to hit a Superkick and get the win. Apparently, this was Drew’s first singles loss since his return to Raw, which I honestly didn’t notice; after the match, Drew vows to end both Ziggler and Balor because there’s nothing I like more than seeing two former allies fight against each other instead of side-by-side.
Elias and Bobby Lashley then had a bit of an altercation, which resulting in Balor helping him to attack Lashley and Lio Rush; I am liking the extra screen time for Finn Balor this week, it’s about time he became relevant again. Afterwards, Bobby Roode took on Drake Maverick, with the stipulation being that, if Roode wins, he and Chad Gable earn a shot at the tag belts. Baron Corbin quickly made it a handicap match and threw the Authors and Pain and a beaten-up Gable into the mix, which allowed the AOP to easily win with the Super Collider. I have no doubt that Roode and Gable will somehow earnt hat shot anyway though.
Dean Ambrose and a bunch of goons stormed the ring in gas masks afterwards to talk shit about the crowd and the city and, obviously Seth Rollins. He called them all weak and needy and related the life lesson that life sucks and you don’t get what you want; he also attacked them for not appreciating him for staying true to who he is and not selling out. Kind of standard heel stuff, really, but it was enough to bring out Rollins; however, it was Seth that was once again on the receiving end of a beat-down.
Earlier in the night, Corbin told Heath Slater and Rhyno that they would have to fight to stay on Raw as he has to let one of them go; therefore, we got a short and pretty pathetic match between the two where Heath pinned the former ECW Champion in just over a minute and was rewarded by Corbin with a referee’s position. Riii-iiight…anyway, Balor was back again, this time in a match against Jinder Mahal. I have literally never seen so much Balor on one show before, it’s so awesome; he really should be pushed as the go-to face figurehead of the show now that Roman Reigns is out. Anyway, Apollo Crews gave him an assist by taking out the Singh Brothers, which allowed Balor to win; afterwards, the WWE undid all that goodwill with Balor by having Drew beat him up backstage but, hey, at least it wasn’t Corbin!
Raw ended with another women’s tag team match (I guess we really are trying to set up for tag belts…), this time between Ronda and Ember Moon and Tamina and Nia Jax. Really? We have to see those two twice in one night? Ugh, well, anyway, the heels went right after Ronda and then isolated Ember to allow Ronda to get a hit tag mid-way through the match. After things broke down a bit, Ember hit the Eclipse and Ronda forced Tamina to tap out to get the win.
Paige once again graced her with her presence at the top of the show to host the contract signing for the first-ever women’s TLC match. Naturally, that brought out Becky Lunch, Charlotte Flair (who really hasn’t done anything to earn another shot except slightly change her character by stealing Becky’s), and Asuka, who threw threats at each other and all claimed to win. Eventually, Mandy Rose and Senya Deville crashed the party, which resulted in (you guessed it!) a tag team match pitting them against Charlotte and Asuka. Flair and Asuka had some issues with teaming up, which allowed the heels to largely control the pace of the match; this even factored into the ending when Charlotte accidentally kicked Asuka, which pissed her off and allowed Sonya to get the win.
This was immediately followed by a triple threat match between Cesaro, Xavier Woods, and Jey Uso; it’ll never be weird seeing Xavier in solo action like this but this was, for me, a good way of continuing the issues and the feud between these three teams without resorting to another tag or six-man match. After quite a fun little sprint, Jey got the win after pinning Cesaro; one day, Cesaro may get some kind of proper push towards the top but, as long as he is languishing in the tag division, it won’t be any time soon.
The Miz had a bit of a chat with Daniel Bryan next; Miz took credit for Bryan’s new perspective on life and Bryan elaborated further on why he’s become such a dick. Personally, I am glad that he has completely changed his character into this new heel persona; I’m not happy about him being a heel but at least he’s doing a good job with crafting a new character for himself. I would like to also see him slow down in the ring and be more of a technical worker who doesn’t rely on flashy, impressive moves. AJ Styles came out to confront him but ended up getting laid out with the Skull-Crushing Finale after Bryan shoved AJ into Miz.
Jeff Hardy and Randy Orton faced off…again…this time, Jeff nearly crashed and burned on a Whisper in the Wind attempt and ended up being distracted when Samoa Joe appeared on the TitanTron, which allowed Orton to his the RKO and win. I think they could have come up with a fresh opponent for Jeff to accomplish this but it appears to be in Orton’s contract that he appears on every episode of SmackDown! Live and has some impact on a storyline.
AJ Styles and the Miz closed us out this week; I find it amusing that AJ hardly ever got the main event spot on SnackDown! Live when he was the WWE Champion but, now that he doesn’t have the belt, he’s in the main event. Anyway, AJ attacked right at the start but Miz worked a strong heel style, grounding the action and using the ropes to choke AJ. AJ rallied back with his signature moves, overcame Miz’s leg work, and got the win with the Calf Crusher. After the match, Bryan attacked AJ, working over the knee and the leg and really putting it to him. Again, Bryan’s newfound aggression is great but I would like to see him interacting with other heels, especially the Miz, less; he should be a lone wolf type.