Live (actually taped last Tuesday) from Austin, Texas this is the Raw Deal for episode #1074. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport.
Before I begin, thank you for all the kind words about the 2013 WWE Johnny Awards column that I posted on Thursday. It's my favorite column to write every year and usually generates the most feedback, which held true again this year. I still have some emails to respond to. I thought 2013 was a pretty good year from WWE. Could it have been better? Sure. But there were plenty of positives from it too.
Regarding this week's Raw, I'm not going to write as much. Life's busy and I need a bit of a break. I would skip it, but I've reviewed every Raw since May 2009 and I don't want the streak to end. It will be shorter than my usual, though.
Raw began with Good Santa (Mark Henry) and Bad Santa (Damien Sandow) reading WWE themed Christmas stories in anticipation of their match later in the show. The set had presents as well as Christmas trees at the top of the ramp. The announcers are Michael Cole and John Bradshaw Layfield. No Lawler this week. I guess he doesn't like working on Tuesdays although commentary on taped shows often times is done in a studio rather than in the arena.
Triple H, Stephanie McMahon, Kane (and an elf) started with a promo. You could hear the fake crowd noise throughout their promo as they went over some of the matches on the show.
Randy Orton came out for a promo. He has both the WWE Title and World Title with him. The WWE Title is on top of the other one. They'll likely eliminate the World Title soon. He gave the gift of himself to The Authority (that's awkward) and said he had the night off. He gave them a hug. Kane set off some fireworks to end the opening segment.
Natalya, Eva Marie, Nikki & Brie Bella, Cameron & Naomi vs. Alicia Fox, Tamina Snuka, Kaitlyn, Summer Rae, Aksana & Vickie Guerrero
It's a "Jingle's Bells" match with all the women in Christmas gear. The Divas Champion AJ Lee is on commentary. Eva Marie did one bump and a hair whip that didn't look good. Then she left. I thank her for leaving. Cole thought Rosa Mendes was in there when it was Summer Rae and AJ made fun of him for it. With Natalya and Aksana in there, everybody went into the ring to brawl. All the babyfaces hooked their arms together and delivered clotheslines. AJ's commentary: "Wow Cameron's actually doing something useful." Well played. Natalya gave Aksana the Sharpshooter leading to the tapout win for her team after 4 minutes.
Winners by submission: Natalya, Eva Marie, Nikki & Brie Bella, Cameron & Naomi
Analysis: Most of the women tagged in and got their chance to shine. A babyface win as expected. AJ's commentary was fun...unless you're Cameron.
Sin Cara vs. Curtis Axel
There was a Sin Cara promo in a pre-tape before the match where he spoke English. The Sin Cara lights were on for this match. Yes it's Hunico as Sin Cara - that's likely going to be a permanent thing. Axel got in some offense early, but of course Sin Cara made the comeback by hitting a nice dive over the top to the floor. JBL said "Sin Cara's been rejuvenated - like a new man." Literally. Angle Slam by Sin Cara leads to the Swanton Bomb for the win after five minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Sin Cara
Analysis: ** Clean face win in a generic TV match. I'm sure Kurt Angle and Jeff Hardy liked the last two moves he did.
There was a clip of last week's Smackdown, which ended with The Shield attacking John Cena and CM Punk until Big E Langston made the save. That will lead to tonight's six man main event as Langston teams with Cena & Punk vs. The Shield.
The same clip aired from last week with Bad Santa Damien Sandow telling a little girl that Christmas was canceled. They are mailing it in this week huh?
Big Show is the New Year's Baby and next week's Raw is about the New Year. I'm not sure why WWE has a house show scheduled in Toronto next Monday, but they do. Some people won't be on Raw next week.
Batista is going to return to WWE on January 20, 2014. That's one week before the Royal Rumble. He'll be in the Royal Rumble match although it wasn't officially announced yet. I'm not really for or against Batista coming back. He's cool with me, but not super excited either. I'd rather see Punk & Bryan get more of the spotlight, so his presence will likely hurt them and others. Here's the return video.
They showed Bad News Barrett trying to raise money on a street corner. Remember when he was main eventing three years ago? Times have changed.
They aired some video packages about the Wyatt Family/Daniel Bryan story with the Wyatt Family injuring Bryan on Smackdown.
Cody Rhodes and Goldust made their entrance followed by Daniel Bryan. The announcers mentioned that Bryan wouldn't let his injuries show. This show was taped on Tuesday and Smackdown was taped on Wednesday, so perhaps that's why he wasn't selling.
Cody Rhodes, Goldust & Daniel Bryan vs. Bray Wyatt, Luke Harper & Erick Rowan
There were plenty of quick tags and Bryan was able to take advantage of Harper after he missed a big boot in the corner. Bryan wanted Wyatt to come in the ring. They went to break before we could see if he would.
After that Wyatt/Bryan hype, we return with Cody being worked on in the corner of the heels. Goldust made the tag and hit the Goldi-rana as JBL called it, but Harper knocked him down and Wyatt finally tagged in as they isolated Goldust. The announcers mentioned the holiday Tout's by the superstars, which is a reminder that Tout still exists apparently. Rowan applied the Claw to Goldust. Don't see that often. Goldust made the hot tag to Bryan and he unloaded on Rowan. Two corner dropkicks with the crowd chanting "yes" for all of it. After more kicks, Bryan went up top for the headbutt, which connected. Wyatt broke up the pin, then ran away from Bryan and Rowan decked Bryan with a body attack.
Bryan was in trouble as Wyatt went after him. Bryan hit a Tornado DDT on Rowan to create some space and tagged in Cody. Disaster Kick on Rowan on the apron and then a moonsault on Harper for two. Wyatt broke it up, so Bryan hit a missile dropkick on Wyatt flowed by the Flying Goat dive outside the ring. Rowan threw Bryan into the barricade, so Goldust took him out. Disaster Kick by Cody on Harper, but Wyatt made a blind tag. He hit Sister Abigail on Cody and pinned him after 23 minutes of action.
Winners by pinfall: Bray Wyatt, Luke Harper & Erick Rowan
Analysis: ***1/2 It was a typical six man WWE tag match in the sense it was very good. They got plenty of time and the crowd was into it. All three babyfaces were selling for an extended period of time. I didn't expect a heel win in this match (I avoided spoilers), so it was refreshing to see something different.
Post match, the Wyatt Family took out Rhodes and Goldust. They brought Bryan into the ring, which led to Wyatt telling Bryan that it didn't have to be like this. In other words, he wants Bryan to join them. Wyatt looked on from his rocking chair in the aisle with Harper & Rowan looking on.
Analysis: I'm glad this storyline isn't over yet. Bryan needs to get the big win soon, though.
The same Mark Henry as Good Santa vignette that aired last week also aired here.
They showed MLB Cy Young winning pitchers Clayton Kershaw & Max Scherzer with WWE titles that WWE sent them. There was another clip of Wade Barrett collecting money.
There was a holiday singing contest: Xavier Woods & R-Truth were against Drew McIntyre & Jinder Mahal (no idea where Heath Slater was) and Santino also teamed up with The Great Khali. Santino & Khali sang "Deck the Halls" so Khali just did the "fa-la-la-la" part although he did it wrong. The crowd liked Khali's part, so of course Santino & Khali won. The heels attack after, so the faces cleared the ring. They sang "we wish you a Merry Christmas" as this segment came to a close.
Analysis: It was typical WWE comedy filler. That doesn't mean it's funny.
Christmas Present on a Pole Match: Dolph Ziggler vs. Fandango w/Summer Rae
If you grab the present that is on the pole above the turnbuckle you get a shot at the IC Title next week on Raw. They each tried to climb. Ziggler got the advantage after a Fameasser and he did the slowest climb ever, which allowed Fandango to knock Ziggler to the floor and Fandango also went over the top to the floor in an exaggerated bump. Kick by Fandango knocked down Ziggler and then Fandango crotched himself on the top rope. Fandago slammed Ziggler into the pole and he climbed up to grab the present to win after 5 minutes.
Analysis: *1/2 Two heel wins in a row. I didn't expect that on the Christmas Raw, but it makes sense since heel Fandango gets a title shot against face Langston next week. The finish was well done. It's hard to have a gimmick match like that, but it worked.
The Prime Time Players were in the ring for a promo with Darren Young incorrectly thinking the city was Houston instead of Austin. The idea is he's the dumb one. They did their "Millions of Dollars" dance.
The Usos (Jimmy & Jey) vs. The Prime Time Players (Titus O'Neil & Darren Young)
It's a face vs. face tag match, so they slapped hands at the start. They chanted "this is Austin" when Young tagged in and even "Houston sucks" too. Nice Northern Lights Suplex by Young and then an overhead suplex. Jey tagged in with a Samoan Drop followed by the "just like daddy" corner butt splash. O'Neil missed a charge, so he went outside the ring. Huge splash off the top by Jimmy Uso finished it off after five minutes.
Winners by pinfall: The Usos
Analysis: * Short match that put the Usos over. Doesn't really mean much in the big picture although I hope the Usos win the tag titles at some point in 2014.
There was a "tale of the tape" for Good Santa Henry vs. Bad Santa Sandow with a shot of both guys walking backstage.
"Good Santa" Mark Henry vs. "Bad Santa" Damien Sandow
I don't know how many times JBL said "Christmas might be cancelled" but it felt like at least 50 times. Henry unwrapped a present that had a toilet in it so she shoved Sandow's head into it. Sandow unwrapped a fire extinguisher, but he couldn't use it right so Henry blasted Sandow with it. Sandow attacked presents with a Kendo Stick/Candy Cane. Henry knocked him into the tree. Sandow tried the fire extinguisher again, but couldn't use it so Henry used it again. Henry hit the World's Strongest Slam to win the match after three minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Mark Henry
Post match, Henry slammed a tray of Christmas cupcakes into Sandow's face. Be a star, Good Santa.
Analysis: This was one of the most promoted matches on Raw this year and it was a comedy match that got three minutes.
CM Punk was interviewed by Renee Young backstage. He spoke about the match tonight with Big E Langston, who showed up to say he's handing out beatings. Then John Cena showed up to give a fired up promo. They all put their fists together as Langston said "believe in that."
Zeb Colter did a promo to say that Santa Claus is an illegal immigrant, but at least he leaves after one day unlike the people that cross the border and never go back.
The Real Americans (w/Zeb Colter) vs. Los Matadores (w/El Torito)
El Torito had Christmas lights on his horns and tail. Cesaro applied the Cesaro Swing early in the match. It was at least 20 revolutions. Los Matadores did the switcheroo that the ref didn't see. Swagger tagged in and was on the receiving end of a flipping dive off the top. Cesaro threw one of them into the barricade, which led to Torito hitting a gore on Cesaro. Back in the ring, a top rope cross body by Diego led to the pinfall on Swagger after about four minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Los Matadores
Analysis: *1/2 Hopefully we can just forget this show because the Real Americans should be winning matches on their way to winning the tag titles soon. This is the Christmas show, so it doesn't really matter too much.
The same video used to promote the main event was played again because this show is too damn long.
Kofi Kingston entered for a match against Ryback.
The Batista return video aired again. He's back on January 20th.
Kofi Kingston vs. Ryback
Cole said Kingston has a "new attitude" because he's more aggressive. He really hasn't changed much. Kingston hit a very pretty somersault plancha over the top onto Ryback outside the ring. Back in the ring, a Ryback clothesline sent Kingston over the top to the floor. I don't know what the announcers were talking about, but it showed how little interest they had in the match as Ryback hit a bearhug. Kingston hit a dropkick off the middle rope for two. A cross body block off the top by Kingston got two. Ryback dropped Kingston face first into the turnbuckle (sort of), then the big clothesline and Shellshock finished it after six minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Ryback
Analysis: *1/2 A match between two midcarders that aren't really going anywhere. Crowd didn't care early, but they got into a bit later. That's the third heel win of the show, which surprised me because I expected all babyface victories.
Six man tag coming up.
Bad News Barrett showed up to say that they have raised thousands of dollars. However, there's some bad news. He's not really affiliated with any charities, so the money is coming home with him. So he stole people's money. I have some bad news for him: you can get arrested for that.
Analysis: I really think these Bad News Barrett segments are written by 10 year olds. It's not a compliment.
The Shield did a promo backstage. Reigns told Langston he was swimming in the deep end with the sharks now. Believe in The Shield.
Next week's Raw is the New Year episode and Big Show is dressed like the New Year's Baby. Cover your eyes, kids.
CM Punk entered for the main event followed by Langston and then Cena. No Jerry Lawler at ringside to mark out like a 12 year old girl. The Shield entered last.
John Cena, CM Punk & Big E Langston vs. Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose & Roman Reigns
Lots of quick tags early. They did a big faceoff when Reigns went against Cena, which led to Reigns hitting a Samoan Drop. They went to break shortly after that.
They replayed the Superman Punch by Reigns that happened during the break. Love that move. Cena powered out of an Ambrose sleeper to tag in Punk. Punk was on fire as he hit a neckbreaker, high knee, clothesline and no top rope elbow because Rollins distracted him. Punk got knocked off the apron. Back in the ring, the heels isolated Punk. It looked like Punk would break free, but Ambrose prevented that. Reigns applied a bearhug on Punk. Cole reported that "Christmas will happen." I wish the announcing on this show was better.
Punk hit a back suplex on Rollins to create separation. Ambrose blocked a tag while Reigns hit a Superman Punch on Cena outside the ring. Punk hit a roundhouse kick on Ambrose. Reigns missed a corner splash, so Punk tagged in Langston and Rollins also tagged in. Langston cleaned house with clotheslines and a belly to belly on Rollins. He hit a splash on Ambrose & Rollins at the same time. Ambrose tagged in, which led to Rollins hit a side kick to Langston. Cena saved and wanted Attitude Adjustment on Rollins, but Reigns hit a Spear. Everybody hit big moves to clear the ring. Langston hit the Big Ending, which led to Rollins & Reigns making the save. The ref called for the DQ. On a save? They happen all the time. I guess it happened because it was two at a time.
Winners by DQ: John Cena, CM Punk & Big E Langston
Analysis: *** I'm surprised they would end it with a DQ. We'll likely see this match again soon. They booked it so that Langston didn't have to work a lot to make the fans pop more for him when he received the hot tag. It's a smart way to elevate somebody to another level. Langston and Reigns are two of the young guys that management is really high on, so they are two to watch heading into 2014.
Post match, The Shield went after Langston. They wanted to hit the powerbomb, but the good guys fought back. Cena hit the AA and Punk hit the GTS to clear the heels. Raw ended with the babyfaces celebrating.
Three Stars of the Show
1. Daniel Bryan
2. Cody Rhodes
3. Bray Wyatt
5.5 out of 10
Last week: 8
2013 Average: 5.83
2013 High: 8.5 (August 27)
2013 Low: 3.5 (January 28)
Last 5 Weeks: 8, 7, 5.5, 4.5, 4.5
The two six man tag matches carried the show. Everything else was pretty forgettable.
At least we don't have to hear about the "will Christmas be cancelled" story for another year. It's brutal how many times they mentioned it.
The length of this was just over 3,000 words so that's about 2,000 words less than my usual. Next week I will go back to writing the Raw Deal live again since NFL Monday Night Football is done for the year. Check it out on TJRWrestling.com and on other sites it will be posted on Tuesday. Not every week will be live, but most weeks will be.
That's all for me. Merry Christmas to all those celebrating and happy holidays to everybody. I've always enjoyed Christmas for the time spent with family that I don't see too often throughout the year, the feast and for the annual poker game. We're Greek. That's what we do!
Be safe, my friends.
Until next time, thanks for reading.
John Canton - firstname.lastname@example.org