Monday, December 14, 2015

WWE Monday Night Raw Review - December 14th, 2015

Stephanie McMahon starts the show to address what happened last night with Roman Reigns and Triple H. She foreshadows firing Reigns which brings out the man himself. Reigns showed the same fire he did last night and the crowd responds in kind. I like this attitude that he's dawned, it doesn't sound AS scripted. It still sounds sort of phony because you know he's not that Stone Cold/CM Punk esque rebel, but it DOES sound more genuine which is much needed. He talks about "kicking her husband's ass" and insults her family. Stephanie slaps Reigns. Once, twice, three times, fuck sake, she lays it into Roman multiple times without holding back. All this before she announces that Vince McMahon will be coming to the arena to handle him tonight!

1) Dean Ambrose vs. Dolph Ziggler
The newly crowned IC Champion battles the Show Off in the first match of the evening. The crowd is hype off that hot opening segment so this ruled. Both of these guys almost always deliver and this was no different. By the time we got back from commercial, they were in the midst of a run of false finishes. Ambrose even busted out a new face buster variation thing. It was going awesome then all of a sudden the crowd roars out of nowhere. The camera pans to the entrance and IT'S KEVIN OWENS! I DIDN'T WANT A NON FINISH BUT THIS FEELS SO HUGE AND IS THE PERFECT VISUAL!

Match rating - ***1/4

Big Kev marches in disrupting the match and throwing Dolph Ziggler out of the ring. He starts beating on Ambrose and nails him with a sick pop up powerbomb. Ziggler jumps him, but gets laid out. Owens powerbombs Ziggler onto Ambrose and looks like a complete dominant badass. This was just amazing. Hot match and an amazing angle afterwards that raised the importance of the IC Title by a lot.

Speaking of the prestige of the IC Title, the interview with Kevin Owens afterwards continued that trend as he acted completely nuts, all because he lost the title. This whole little thing has made the Intercontinental Championship feel important again because both Owens & Ambrose showcase passion when discussing/holding it. It all started with Ambrose's ecstatic celebration last night and continued here. Let's hope it doesn't stop anytime soon because it's great.

2) R-Truth vs. Bo Dallas
Jobbers thrown out there for a few seconds only to be interrupted by Vince when he arrives at the arena.

Mr McMahon has his confrontation with Roman Reigns. It's as solid as can be on McMahon's end and he carries most of it. Reigns' lines weren't timed very well, but it wasn't a trainwreck and I'd actually say this was a good segment. The announcement of Reigns/Sheamus tonight for the title has me hyped because unlike last night, I have a reason to care because the outcome will be huge either way. Reigns becomes champ or he gets fired. I like the direction that WWE has taken with us. Tonight has been A- so far, a vast improvement from the treacherous past month of TV.

3) Ryback & Jack Swagger vs. Alberto Del Rio & Rusev (w/ Lana)
Unlike most, I like League of Nations so this was automatically kind of enjoyable for me however from an unbiased perspective, I was still solid. Ryback & Rusev are a good match up and Del Rio has been stiff as shit since returning so all the action was crisp. Nice little finishing run off a Swagger hot tag. Del Rio & Rusev get the cheap win.

Match rating - **3/4

4) Neville vs. Tyler Breeze
The lowest point of the show for me. That's a personal thing though and this wasn't particularly bad. It just felt like it wasn't reaching the level it was intended to. Miz was at ringside to continue his storyline of scouting Neville. He coaches Neville throughout the match by shouting advice from ringside. Neville ends up winning with the Red Arrow and Miz takes credit for it only to get told off by Neville backstage afterwards.

Match rating - **

5) Bray Wyatt, Luke Harper, Erick Rowan, & Braun Strowman vs. The Dudley Boys, Rhyno, & Tommy Dreamer - Extreme Rules Match
WHERE IN THE HELL DID THIS COME FROM?! Like, seriously. I was expecting a bump or two and a bunch of nostalgia, but this was absolutely awesome. It had the same chaotic feel that the old Shield/Wyatt Family matches used to have. It was a weapon filled fight all around the ring then once Bubba threw Bray over the railing, this got taken to the next level. Braun Strowman's big ass went flying/sliding across the announce table in some sort of attempt to knock someone down. I don't even know who he was aiming for. That's what made it so hilarious though. As I said on Twitter, this match was both crazy and funny. Just pure unbridled fun, to be honest. I was shocked at how far these guys went. Dreamer bodyslammed Harper off the stage through two tables, Strowman slammed Dreamer through the barricade, Harper & Bubba had an awesome brawl mid-match that felt all too real, Rowan came flying in with his spinning kick, Wyatt with a Sister Abigal on Bubba on the floor, and ultimately, Rowan would finish the match off with a frog splash off the top through a table. Rowan, of all people, pins Rhyno for the victory. This was fantastic.

Match rating - ****

The New Day come out to the ring to discuss their much talked about Ladder Match from last night at TLC. They seem to have dawned a new character as they bring The Usos & Lucha Dragons out to the ring. They compliment them, praise all that they did in the match, and ultimately offer a handshake. The men all agree that they took the tag division to the next level last night so they shake hands. As the babyface teams leave, New Day goes right back to bragging about everything they did last night, they also say tonight is all about them. The Usos and Lucha Dragons stop while walking up the ramp when they hear this. You know what's coming! The Usos & the Dragons run into the ring and clean house. All the signature moves get hit and the babyfaces stand tall although the crowd was behind New Day as well. I'm glad we're seemingly gonna get more matches between these three teams.

6) Charlotte & Becky Lynch (w/ Ric Flair) vs. Alicia Fox & Brie Bella
Meh. This Flair stuff is getting kinda old. You pretty much knew where this was going before it even started. They wrestle for a few minutes and Charlotte & Becky are firing up. Foxy starts fighting back, she hits the ropes, and Flair grabs her legs. Becky capitalizes and forces her to tap out. The story here was that Becky didn't see Flair do that, but Charlotte did. I'd be lying if I said I wouldn't rather have Nikki Bella around as champ right now.

Match rating - **1/4

7) Sheamus (c) vs. Roman Reigns - If Reigns Loses, He Is Fired
What a way to cap off the year. This was basically the perfect ending to the year. But I'll get to that later, let's talk about this match. As said earlier, the stakes were high and I had more interest in this than anything WWE has done in the past month. This was honestly one of the most well booked matches of the year and it all happened in one night. WWE delivers under pressure, it's such a shame they can't do this regularly. None the less, this had the big time feel to it and honestly came off like a lot of the old Attitude Era title matches that everyone loves so much. You had the evil boss, you had the babyface, you had the villain. With that in mind, you could almost say this was re-hash. But it wasn't. It wasn't because you didn't just have a babyface. You had a babyface that has went through hell and high water this year. A babyface that got booed out of buildings because fans wanted no part of him. WWE kept pushing him though. They put Reigns in hostile situation after hostile situation. Big time match after big time match. Reigns was shaking after the Mania match with Lesnar that saw him stand toe to toe with the baddest man in sports entertainment in one of the stiffest matches this year. Reigns went through the Bray Wyatt feud that felt like a complete drag. Reigns got the title stolen from him multiple times. It was mentally and physically, (kayfabe and non kayfabe), a tough year for Reigns. And with that came a special connection & respect that developed over time with the fans. That led to this match. As you know, I wasn't fan of Roman when his push began, but even after the Lesnar match, he earned my respect because he went into all of these situations that were clearly out of his league and he handled it like a trooper. While he may not be my favorite, I have to admit that delivered in almost every big match he was put in. And now here, tonight, after all that, he got his one last shot at the title with the odds so stacked against him that the boss of the entire company has threatened to fire him if he loses. It's perfection. It made for a high stakes, drama filled match. Sheamus & Reigns threw bombs at each other. Story wise and action wise, this match was a culmination of all that Reigns went through this year. Seeing Roman get busted open the hard way with a headbutt from Sheamus made me cringe, but also took me back to all the brutality he's endured in the ring this year. The match with Brock and more recently the spot filled match with Sheamus in front of a virtually dead crowd. Seeing him hoist up a man as big as Sheamus and nail him with the sit out powerbomb showed the determination that got him through this entire year that tested him in every way possible. The icing on the cake was the completely unexpected superman punch to the chairman of the board himself, Vince McMahon. The final few moments of nearfalls and big moves had me on the edge of my seat. This was just crazy to watch unfold. An awesome match and the best way I can think of for WWE to end the year. It could be looked down upon considering that WWE always has to correct major mistakes and we have to go through dreadful weeks/months of television to get matches & moments like this, but I have to say, these personal, unintended stories like this one and Daniel Bryan's in 2013-2014 make for some damn sure special moments. You can't script things like this. Roman Reigns is your new WWE Champion and he got massive cheers in Philly. The same place that shat all over his moment nearly a year ago. Let that sink in. This was outstanding.

Match rating - ****1/4

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