The final PPV of the year is over (read the full TLC review here), but that doesn’t mean we’re not getting remixes of some of the matches tonight. Drew McIntyre teams with Sheamus and Keith Lee to face AJ Styles, The Miz, and John Morrison. The Hardy Bros (Jeff Hardy and Riddle) take on The Hurt Business’ MVP and Bobby Lashley. Randy Orton is going to talk about setting fire to The Fiend. And the night will begin with the brand-new WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions.
I’m Amanda and this is the RAW review.
Shayna Baszler & Nia Jax def. Mandy Rose & Dana Brooke
Angel Garza def. Drew Gulak
T-BAR def. Ricochet
Bobby Lashley & MVP def. Jeff Hardy & Riddle
Jaxson Ryker def. Gran Metalik
Charlotte Flair & Asuka def. Lacey Evans & Peyton Royce
Drew McIntyre, Sheamus, & Keith Lee def. AJ Styles, The Miz, & John Morrison
♦ Charlotte Flair came out to open the show and said a few words about how nice it is for us to have her back before she brought Asuka out to join her. Asuka said ‘The Empress of Tomorrow is the double champion today.’ Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler were not ready for Asuka and they were definitely not ready for Charlotte Flair.
Flair started to ask something about the RAW Women’s Championship, but Jax and Baszler arrived before she had a chance. They were there to hand out Season’s Beatings to the people on their personal naughty list. Mandy Rose and Dana Brooke arrived before anything happened.
As soon as they got in the ring, Charlotte Flair said she wanted to stick around to see this. Asuka agreed and they called for a ref.
Flair and Asuka joined commentary for Shayna Baszler & Nia Jax vs Mandy Rose & Dana Brooke, so were heard a lot more about Charlotte Flair than we did about the match. She said her partnership with Asuka is founded on respect, and they appear to have quite a sweet rapport. The match was decent. Rose and Brooke are looking like a cohesive team now, and they had some success against Jax and Baszler. They took some brutal punishment as well but showed a lot of resilience. Dana Brooke avoided Baszler’s elbow stomp and flipped Baszler into the corner. She tried to stack her up and pin her but found herself tapping out in the Kirifuda Clutch.
Jax and Baszler leaned over the ropes to yell at Asuka and Flair after the match, so Rose and Brooke tipped them both out of the ring.
Asuka and Charlotte Flair will be defending the titles for the first time on SmackDown on Christmas Night.
♦ The Hurt Business bullied a guy in a New Day shirt backstage on their way to the ring for The VIP Lounge. They ripped it off him and replaced it with a Hurt Business one. The VIP Lounge was to celebrate the new tag champs, Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin, and to generally talk about how wonderful they all are. Bobby Lashley called them ‘The most dominant force in WWE’. MVP hired a photographer for the occasion, and R-Truth popped up in the background while they were posing. A few seconds later, the chasing pack arrived. By the time they’d chase Truth away, Jeff Hardy and Riddle arrived.
Riddle told The Hurt Business they were celebrating wrong and described how he thought they should be doing it (basically have a barbecue with friends and get stoned). Then he got all philosophical about the nature of human existence and handed over to Hardy to talk about man’s character being the only criteria for wealth after MVP said he didn’t know what he was talking about.
♦ Angel Garza is back and just as ‘charming’ as ever. According to him, Angel Garza vs Drew Gulak was his gift to all the women of the world… It was very short and finished with Garza’s Wing Clipper.
♦ AJ Styles is extremely angry with Miz for cashing in at TLC. He thinks that screwed him out of the title. The only reason he agreed to go on Miz TV was to see what he had to say for himself.
Miz started Miz TV with an apology to his family for failing to win the title. Morrison said that’s not the only apology that needs to be made tonight. Miz agreed and brought Styles out. Styles only let him get a couple of sentences out before he yelled at him and told him he’s the reason they both lost.
Miz lost it and yelled, ‘You don’t think I know that?’ then went off on a tirade about how the contract was everything. Ten years ago he cashed in and main-evented WrestleMania and this was supposed to be the same. For fifteen years he’s tried to earn respect but no one respects him. If he’d cashed in at the right time and become WWE Champion, then maybe they would. He offered a heartfelt apology and said he blew it. To make it up to him, he offered him a movie role and it descended into a very silly argument.
Miz got excited after Styles made a comment about Morrison having cashed in the title. He’s going to demand the briefcase back because he’s the only one who can cash it in, so it wasn’t an official cash-in.
Drew McIntyre arrived and told them they weren’t to take each other out because they had a match later and he was going to do it. He read out a sequel he’d written to their story last week. Sheamus and Keith Lee appeared on different sides of the ring to read their parts but they didn’t have the finish, so they started the street fight early. Sheamus had Miz set up for the Brogue Kick, but Styles kicked Lee into him, and they started arguing instead with McIntyre trying to separate them.
They were still arguing after a break and Drew McIntyre made Sheamus go off and cool down then had a calm-down chat with Lee about how loyal Sheamus is when he’s on your team.
♦ T-BAR, with RETRIBUTION, vs Ricochet was fun to watch, but probably less fun for Ricochet to experience. T-BAR is huge and powerful and threw Ricochet around like he weighed nothing. Luckily, Ricochet bounces. If it hadn’t been for the distraction of having to deal with MACE and SlapJack and then grabbing Mustafa Ali, he might have had a chance. Instead, he took a knee to the jaw and got pinned. There was no beatdown after the match. T-BAR told him they’re not his enemies, they’re his allies. He either joins them or they will end his existence.
♦ The New Day will be back for the titles. It’s what they do. Kofi Kingston apparently cracked two teeth in the match.
♦ Bobby Lashley & MVP vs Jeff Hardy & Riddle was a lot more fun than I expected it to be. Hardy and Riddle work well together, but Hardy took a rough-looking fall from the turnbuckle mid-match and hurt his arm. It’s never a good idea to give Lashley or MVP such an obvious target, and they worked it hard. Eventually, he got back to Riddle, who would have pinned MVP if it weren’t for Lashley breaking it up. Jeff Hardy missed a Swanton after beautifully setting it up with every member of The Hurt Business down, and tapped out in Lashley’s Hurt Lock.
♦ AJ Styles was arguing backstage with Miz and Morrison. It could just as easily be a six-man free for all as a six-man tag.
♦ Elias, with Jaxson Ryker by his side, talked about his year, his music and how important it is. It has facilitated Ryker’s rebirth, which somehow means he’s got to beat the hell out of a random opponent. As ever, we didn’t hear the last of what Elias had to say because the opponent arrived and Jaxson Ryker vs Gran Metalik got underway. Elias chose to sit on the turnbuckle playing his guitar and sing a narrative of the match until Metalik pulled him down. Lince Dorado took the guitar though. It worked in a roundabout kind of way, Ryker flattened Gran Metalik and slammed him into the canvas for the win.
♦ He’s been called many things, sick, twisted deranged and demented and last night he proved he is all those things. A normal man would have regrets if they set another man on fire, but The Fiend is not a man, and Orton is not normal. Last night he enjoyed every single second as he stood by and watched The Fiend burn. He knelt by the part of the ring where it happened and said if he closes his eyes he can see it and smell it. He didn’t sleep last night because the voices in his head are gone and all he can hear is The Fiend gasping for his last breath as the flames grew higher. The Fiend is gone. The Fiend is no more, and he is the evil sonofabitch that took him out.
That’s when the lights went off and The Fiend’s sound effects played. The light came back on in purple and Alexa Bliss was sat on a swing set in the ring.
She said ‘he’ built it for her and called it Alexa’s playground. She invited Orton to take the other swing and talked about what The Fiend could be doing, with lots of burning and barbecue jokes. She said it’s like he was absorbed into the mat, under each layer of the earth. He’s home, but if he ever leaves home, he may come back to Alexa’s playground. And if he does, it will be like nothing Orton has ever seen before. The lights went off again, and that was the end of that.
♦ Charlotte Flair & Asuka vs Lacey Evans & Peyton Royce came about at the request of Evans and Royce. Peyton Royce hung back at the end of their pre-match interview to make it clear she was the one who secured it. I still hate that they broke up The IIconics and have so far put them in a worse position in shoddy teams with other people. Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax were shown watching the match from backstage.
Royce and Evans had Asuka in trouble after taking advantage of an unseen tag, but they let her get to Flair because they were arguing. Charlotte Flair was making quick work of Peyton Royce, but she had to take a moment to deal with Evans and got caught in a single leg crab while Evans kept Asuka away. Asuka made it in and kicked Royce in the head. Flair finished things off with the Figure-Eight shortly after.
♦ Royal Rumble will be on January 31st.
♦ The Miz was on the phone backstage working on trying to get his Money in the Bank contract back. AJ Styles hung up the phone for him to make him go to the ring. Drew McIntyre, Sheamus, & Keith Lee vs AJ Styles, with Omos, The Miz, & John Morrison in a street fight at any time had the potential for chaos, but neither of the teams is getting along, so carnage was likely in this Holiday Street Fight. There were cookies and eggnog on big tables at ringside. McIntyre ate one of the cookies while he and Sheamus were waiting for Keith Lee, so that’s one less wasted.
It took a long time to become a street fight. Sheamus and Keith Lee had a nice moment of teamwork, taking out all the opposition, then managed to turn it into an argument McIntyre was breaking up going into the break. McIntyre and Sheamus caved in Miz and Morrison’s chest in unison then threw them down to Lee, who caught them both and ran them into the apron. They went into the presents stacked under a couple of Christmas trees, but it was still a very civilised match. Morrison threw a present at Sheamus while he was fighting AJ Styles, but it was ignored. Finally, someone went through a table. It was Sheamus, courtesy of Morrison, and it was a big drop from the top turnbuckle.
Sheamus was isolated on the wrong side of the ring for a long time after that, but he made it back to McIntyre after Lee had been knocked off the apron by Styles. McIntyre came in like he hadn’t had a brutal ladder match last night and his knee wasn’t bandaged up. The Alabama Slam of Morrison onto Miz took out Morrison. Styles saved Miz from being pinned, then got pounded by Keith Lee before Morrison took out Lee with a kick to the head and immediately took an Irish Curse Backbreaker from Sheamus. Miz threw out Sheamus. McIntyre threw out Miz. AJ Styles remembered weapons were legal and laid into McIntyre with a candy cane kendo stick. McIntyre threw him into a Christmas tree and put him through a table. Styles ended up covered in eggnog. Morison and Sheamus battered each other with candy canes.
It all fell apart when Sheamus and Keith Lee both wanted the glory. Lee took it and threw Morrison at Omos as a gift before he Spirit Bombed Miz for the win. Omos put Morrison through a table, payback for hitting him with a chair last night. While they were celebrating, Sheamus Brogue Kicked Keith Lee. The show closed with McIntyre yelling at him.
Not a bad episode of RAW. Christmas and New Year is always a bit of a limbo time in WWE. Post-TLC, but too far from Royal Rumble for any serious build-up. Have a fabulous Christmas and we’ll see what next week brings.