Seth Rollins and AOP Addressed Their New Alliance
It couldn't be more apparent from these promos Rollins has been cutting every week since Survivor Series ended that this heel turn was desperately needed. He's just so much more comfortable in the role and has become far more interesting than he was a month ago. This was great mic work from him. He provided a suspenseful cliffhanger for the rest of the show by teasing doing something fans wouldn't like. My only nitpick is that I wish he would do more to turn his remaining fans against him.
The O.C. def. Raw Tag Team Champions The Viking Raiders (Non-Title)
As logical as a feud between these two teams is, I honestly couldn't bring myself to care about this boring affair. Yes, it was better than what we got from them at TLC, but that isn't saying much considering that was designed to be filler. It went way too long and nothing they did was overly exciting. Maybe it's because they've already had a bunch of matches against each other this year, but The O.C. pinning Viking Raiders for the first time in a standard tag team matchup should have meant more than it did. I could see WWE having them meet in a rematch for the Raw Tag Team Championship on the premiere Raw of 2020 as opposed to the Royal Rumble pay-per-view.
Erick Rowan def. Dante Leon
Another week, another Erick Rowan squash that accomplishes absolutely nothing. He's been doing this for over a month at this point. I think I speak for most fans when I say we're ready for what's next. The fact he got more television time on Raw this week than Aleister Black and Buddy Murphy (coming off that awesome encounter they had at TLC) is ridiculous. Unlike Rowan's opponent last week, Leon looked like a complete idiot trying to crawl under the ring to grab the cage without once trying to rip its cover off.
Bobby Lashley Proposed to Lana
This storyline needs to die a death as soon as possible. I mistakenly hoped it would end at TLC with Rusev beating Lashley, but obviously, that did not happen. While Rusev did not appear on this episode, I assume he isn't done with Lashley and Lana, either. Once again, the verbiage was terrible, but you had to know this was headed toward a wedding with them eventually (with Rusev predictably crashing it).
Andrade vs. Humberto Carrillo vs. Ricochet vs. Matt Hardy vs. Akira Tozawa vs. 24/7 Champion R-Truth in a United States Championship No. 1 Contender's Gauntlet Match Ended in a No Contest (Non-Title)
I have no idea what Tozawa and Hardy did to deserve a spot in this match, but I guess they had to fill the spots somehow without guys like Aleister Black and Buddy Murphy eating unnecessary losses. It had a nice pace and each mini match was well wrestled. Truth, Tozawa and Hardy didn't last long, but I liked that Ricochet and Carrillo got to shine for a bit. Andrade vs. Carrillo never got started as Andrade laid out Carrillo on the concrete before it could happen, so we were left with no winner and no explanation as to how the number one contender will be determined. Why waste so much time on a match that didn't end up mattering?
Seth Rollins and AOP Attacked United States Champion Rey Mysterio
Rollins targeting Mysterio made perfect sense when you consider Mysterio gave Kevin Owens a lead pipe to use against AOP last week. He had AOP brutalize him before hitting him with a Curb Stomp to end the segment. They kept this thing short and sweet to set up Rollins vs. Mysterio for the United States Championship on next week's Raw. Lest we forget, they were supposed to clash for the Universal Championship on the "season premiere" of Raw three months ago, so at least we're finally getting that match for the first time ever.
WWE Women's Tag Team Champion Asuka def. Deonna Purrazzo
Interestingly enough, these two previously faced off on an episode of NXT four years ago when Asuka was getting started there. Purrazzo has since been signed by NXT but hasn't made a ton of appearances on the black-and-gold appearances as of now. I liked the brief video package that aired for her beforehand, but she obviously had zero chance of winning. This was an extended squash for Asuka ahead of her likely opportunity at the Raw Women's Championship.
Charly Caruso Interviewed Raw Women's Champion Becky Lynch
I like that this immediately followed Asuka's match because this sit-down interview was all about her. Just as I suspected, Lynch seems to be transitioning into a feud with her over the Raw Women's Championship coming off their tag team main event at TLC. It's a rivalry worth revisiting because, as Lynch and Caruso discussed here, Lynch has never beaten Asuka before. Lynch went so far as to say the powers that be are trying to "protect" her by not booking her to face Asuka out of fear she might lose. I really hope WWE can wait until the Royal Rumble to do this match given that will be the one year anniversary of when they last went one-on-one.
Randy Orton def. AJ Styles
Well, this was a disappointment. I remember their WrestleMania match not being anything out of the ordinary (partially because of the inconvenient light situation going on in the arena at that point in the pay-per-view), but they had a chance to redeem themselves here with an instant classic. Instead, it was painfully mediocre. It truly came across like they were going through the motions and never felt motivated enough to deliver something special. They played off the finish to their WrestleMania matchup nicely at the end, but that's about it. It doesn't help that I can't remember the last important thing Styles won.
Has Des Moines always been this quiet? I realize this wasn't a hot show by any means, but good lord, they reacted to virtually nothing and sat on their hands for almost the entire three hours. The worst part is that next week's show was taped immediately afterward in the same city due to the holiday. Nevertheless, this was a lousy edition of Raw. It started promisingly enough with that Rollins promo, but nothing that followed was remotely memorable (at least for the right reasons). It felt phoned in to the highest degree, which I'm not shocked by considering the holidays are fast approaching and WWE tends to not put their best foot forward until at least the Rumble. Maybe SmackDown can produce a better post-pay-per-view show on Friday night, but I'm not holding my breath.
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