Kevin Owens def. Mojo Rawley in a No Disqualification Match
Owens was kept off last week's Raw, so the crowd popped when he kicked off the show. He laid out Rawley with a Stunner two weeks ago and decimated him again here. It was actually Rawley's first match on Raw since May, but I see no reason for him to appear more often on the show going forward. This was designed to give Owens an easy win and nothing more. Owens attempted to fight Seth Rollins and AOP afterward but was left looking up at the lights.
Bobby LAshley def. Cedric Alexander
There were rumors of Alexander getting buried toward the end of his rivalry with AJ Styles over the United States Championship a few months ago and they weren't entirely inaccurate seeing as how he's hardly competed/won on Raw since. He and Lashley had a fun little match, but the outcome was never in doubt. This allowed Lashley to maintain momentum heading into his heavily touted wedding with Lana next week. I'm bursting at the seams with anticipation as I type this (sarcastically speaking, of course).
Drew McIntyre def. Zack Ryder
Since it looks like Creative has officially run out of ideas for Ryder and Curt Hawkins (despite how they were Raw Tag Team Champions for a two-month period earlier this year), Ryder being utilized in a singles capacity to lose to more notable names like McIntyre isn't a bad idea. It was a perfectly fine squash, but this was a total waste considering we've seen McIntyre beat nobodies before and it's lead nowhere. It's high time he did something meaningful.
WWE Women's Tag Team Champion Asuka Interrupted Raw Women's Champion Becky Lynch
Lynch's sit-down interview with Charly Caruso last week was excellent and this was an effective continuation of that. She spoke about Asuka being the only one to beat her fair and square since she became The Man and how she has to be next in line for a shot at the Raw Women's Championship. Asuka's response wasn't anything out of the ordinary, but she did demand that the title must be up for grabs if and when they face off next. Here's hoping that rematch goes down at the Royal Rumble pay-per-view and not on an upcoming episode of Raw.
Aleister Black def. Deonn Rusman; Buddy Murphy def. Joeasa
I was disappointed Black and Murphy weren't on last week's Raw coming off their barn burner of a bout at TLC, but I understand now it was because they were being saved for this show (which was taped that same night in front of the same crowd). In fact, we found out during Black's entrance that they'll clash in a rematch next week on Raw, which I'll be fortunate enough to be attendance for. He won his match with relative ease and Murphy did as well. I loved how he taunted Black by picking up his opponent with his foot like Black would. I'm really looking forward to seeing if they can top themselves next week.
Ricochet def. Tony Nese
Ricochet was pinned by Humberto Carrillo in last week's Gauntlet match, so this was a necessary rebound win for him. He isn't in the midst of any rivalries at the moment and hasn't been for some time, so I hope he can spend the next several weeks getting back on track and rebuilding his momentum ahead of the Rumble. Nese was a nice opponent for him and they worked well together in the few minutes they had.
Charlotte Flair def. Chelsea Green
Now that Lynch is finally feuding with Asuka, I assume Flair will go back to being directionless until the Rumble. Green got the same treatment that fellow NXT star Deonna Purrazzo did last week in that she received a video package prior to her entrance, except she didn't have nearly as many highlights because she signed with WWE over a year ago and has yet to debut on NXT TV (seriously). She didn't have much of a chance to shine here, but she didn't embarrass herself, either. I'm honestly waiting for someone to be called up to the main roster from NXT's women's division so Green can be promoted to NXT TV to take their spot.
The O.C. def. Randy Orton and Raw Tag Team Champions The Viking Raiders
Neither of the matches these guys were involved in last week on Raw lit the world on fire, but this was a nice improvement. It was fairly formulaic early on, but once they picked up the pace after the commercial break, it turned into an enjoyable encounter. Styles hasn't scored any important victories in well over a month, so him pinning Orton here was the right call. The finish was well done with Styles capitalizing on Orton's "injured" knee and hitting him with the Phenomenal Forearm for the win. I'd hold off on The O.C. vs. Viking Raiders for the Raw Tag Team Championship for Royal Rumble, but I could see WWE blowing it off either next week or on the first episode of 2020.
Erick Rowan def. Travis Horn
This crap with Rowan has been going on since before Survivor Series and has overstayed its welcome by this point. It didn't exactly excite me when it started, but it's even worse now because it's the same stuff week after week. Horn offering Rowan a candy cane before predictably running over to the cage was stupid and caused this to drag on longer than it needed to. Can we just skip to the end of this angle please?
Rusev def. No Way Jose
Rusev was one of the few stars who received a genuinely loud reaction from this dead crowd (not one that was piped in during post-production). This storyline with Rusev and Lana has been horrid, but he's managed to remain over with the audience throughout the entire thing. He came across as extremely elated here and made quick work of Jose before dancing with him and his congo line afterward. This served zero purpose, but at least the fans in attendance were wildly behind Rusev.
United States Champion Rey Mysterio def. Seth Rollins by Disqualification
In my opinion, this first-ever-encounter should have been saved for a crowd that would have cared more. That isn't necessarily their fault because this took place after nearly six hours of wrestling between the two shows that were taped. The work was solid, but it never seemed to reach that next gear before the non-finish that could be seen coming from a mile away. The most interesting part was Rollins and AOP teaming up on Mysterio and specifically Samoa Joe post-match, putting him through the commentary table. I sincerely hope this means Joe has been cleared to compete and will be positioned as a face in a feud with Rollins and AOP. He could be a real breakout babyface on the brand if booked properly.
Although this was taped a week in advance, I thought this was a bit of a better effort than last week's Raw. The squashes matches won't be for everyone, and a handful of them were obviously filler, but the three hours weren't terrible on the whole by any means. WWE saved the holiday stuff for SmackDown last Friday and instead spent this show furthering storylines, spotlighting certain Superstars and building toward matches for upcoming episodes. It was painfully apparent how the crowd noises were edited more often than not, and not a single match stood out as being overly memorable, but it was an acceptable middle-of-the-road show with an intriguing cliffhanger ending.
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