It’s a Christmas miracle this week as Raw actually opened with a match…I mean, sure, it was one of the WWE’s patented “Miracle on 34th Street Fight” matches, which meant that Elias and Bobby Lashley had to settle their differences decked out in Christmas gear and using Christmas-themed weapons. While I do kind of dislike these kinds of matches, the WWE really raised the bar this year as Lashley took perhaps the worst bump in all of wrestling history when Elias pushed him off the top rope and on to a pile of Legos!! Elias blasted Lashley with a fire extinguisher, rolled a bowling ball into his balls, and then smashed a cello over his back to get the win. This was all very well and good for Elias but Lashley kind of got punked out like a bitch here; the days of him actually being booked like a “Destroyer” seem a distant memory now.
As quickly as the Revival made themselves relevant to the tag team division, they just as quickly got, and lost, their shot at the Raw Tag Team Championships. I say that but this was probably the best match they’ve had on the main roster (or maybe it’s just the excitement of actually having them on Raw and in a championship match); plus, there was some controversy as Chad Gable pinned Scott Dawson but it appeared as though Dash Wilder was the legal man, so we’ll probably get some kind of rematch and a continuation of the Revival’s “conspiracy theory” angle.
Finn Balor, Drew McIntyre, and Dolph Ziggler all went at it next in a bit of a triple threat match; McIntyre, clearly the primary threat, got dumped in the early going so Finn and Dolph could work at a faster pace. McIntyre quickly shut that shit down, though, and asserted himself for the middle portion of the match. To keep him protected, Balor dumped him again, and won following the Coup de Grâce to Ziggler but it was Dolph who stood tall in the end as he laid out Drew with the Zig-Zag.
Vince McMahon, dressed as perhaps the most disturbed Santa Claus ever, finally announced the long-awaited WWE Women’s Tag Team Championships; I’m surprised that Stephanie McMahon didn’t make this announcement and steal all the glory. No idea if they’ll be co-branded or when they’ll debut but, to wet out appetites for it further, we got yet another six-woman tag team match between Sasha Banks, Bayley, Ember Moon, Mickie James, Dana Broke, and Alicia Fox. Sasha and friends got the win, despite Sasha making a botch of a Meteroa and her and Bayley still doing that weak-ass Banks Statement-into-a-Belly-To-Bayley, but all the faces got beaten up by the Riott Squad afterwards anyway.
Paul Heyman and Braun Strowman had a bit of a confrontation next, wherein Braun promised to be fully healed and gunning for Brock Lesnar at Royal Rumble. Afterwards, Ronda Rousey put the Raw Women’s Championship on the line against Natalya who, lest we forget, is her bestest ever friend! This actually played into the narrative, though, as Ronda didn’t want to hurt Nattie and the two were a little hesitant to really let loose. In the end, though, it was a decent bout, with Ronda once again being carried to a great match by a better, veteran opponent; Ronda successfully retained after locking on the Arm Bar and they had a bit of a cuddle afterwards.
Retcons galore followed next as Heath Slater was out of the referee shirt and back in action, this time against former WWE Champion Jinder Mahal. The Singh Brothers interfered and caused a disqualification within seconds (because why should we remember when Jinder was getting wins over Randy Orton?) but Santa Claus came out to even the odds…only it was actually Rhyno in disguise! The status quo!
The main event this week saw Seth Rollins literally, and figuratively, Stomp the final nail into Baron Corbin’s coffin. Tensions were quite high after all the…nothing Corbin has done to Rollins over the weeks and months…leading to a bit of a brawl before Corbin grounded the action, ensuring that the crowd popped harder than ever when Seth rallied back with the Blockbuster, Sling Blade, and Falcon Arrow. There was a great moment where Corbin countered the Stomp into the Deep Six, but it only got a two count and Rollins landed the Stomp, and got the win, after Corbin was once again done in by running into a ring post.
The Christmas action continued on the Blue Brand, this time with R-Truth and Carmella dressing up and playing to the crowd. Daniel Bryan interrupted to throw barbs at them (he called R-Truth’s entire career a joke, which is pretty easy to believe if you just look at his WWE work) and the entire season, criticising those who buy into Christmas for their material desires. When R-Truth reminded Bryan that he cold very easily win the Royal Rumble since he is number thirty, Bryan beat him up and attacked his leg with the Heel Hook to some pretty decent heat.
Mustafa Ali’s sudden and newfound Evan Bourne push continued this week with a match against Andrade “Cien” Almas. Almas went at Ali right away, beating him down, throwing him around with Suplexes, and chopping the shit out of him. Every time Mustafa tried to rally back, Almas shut him down, ensuring his attacks looked devastating due to Ali’s amazing selling ability. However, Mustafa managed to dodge Almas’ Corner Knee spot and hit the 054 for another shock victory. While this was a great match, this kind of sucked for Almas, who appears to be treading water once again after almost, kind of, flirting with a higher spot on the card.
The Usos and the Club teamed up against the Bar and SAnitY and, again, I am just happy to see some new faces and new teams being involved in tag team matches. This was a pretty fast-paced and chaotic match that saw the Club get a big win (probably the biggest of their WWE careers so far) by pinning Cesaro with the Magic Killer. More of this, please (only less Usos and New Day…)
The Miz finally convinced Shane “Best in the World” McMahon to form a tag team with him by spinning some bullshit about how his Dad (as in, the Miz’s Dad) has never been proud of any of his accomplishments. Whatever. Anyway, this was quickly followed by Jeff Hardy and Samoa Joe going at it like it’s No Surrender 2012 or some shit; things quickly got heated between these two, leading to a double count-out when they spilled to the outside and Jeff getting choked out in the aftermath.
The United Stats Championship not only appeared on SmackDown! Live it actually got the main event! Shinsuke Nakamua finally graced us with his presence to put the belt on the line against Rusev. This was one hell of a match; Nakamura actually looked motivated and energetic, almost as if being on television actually made him want to put in a decent effort. Rusev almost had it won when he countered a Flying Knee Strike with the Machka Kick; Nakamua also nearly stole it with a sneaky roll-up but, in the end, Rusev kicked out of the Kinshasa and then put Nakamura away with another Machka Kick to one again become the United States Champion. It’s great to finally see Rusev getting a big singles, and championship, win but I really feel like he should have been elevated towards the main event and the WWE Championship so that a new, young star like Tye Dillinger could have feuded with Nakamura for the belt.
Oh, and AJ Styles ended up knocking down Vince McMahon when he tried to fire him up. No sure what that was all about…