By Graham "GSM" Matthews
WWE World Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar Interrupted Edge and Christian
Edge and Christian's antics were entertaining as always and they had a lot of fun with the live crowd. The timing of Lesnar coming down to the ring right before they could break out the Five Second Pose was great. Paul Heyman's promo was solid and John Cena also played his part well. It was a simple, effective way of furthering their feud without giving too much away. On a side note, is Christian officially retired? It was hinted at by the commentators during the segment, and if so, I'm disappointed a bigger deal wasn't made of it.
Intercontinental Champion Dolph Ziggler def. United States Champion Rusev by Disqualification (Non-title)
Champion vs. champion matches doesn't quite mean what they used to, but this was still a good match while it lasted. They work well enough together that I wouldn't mind seeing a full-fledged feud between them down the line. You had to know Rusev's undefeated streak wasn't going to end in a random match with Ziggler and Ziggler had to keep his momentum going strong, so the non-finish (while executed in lame fashion) was logical.
Ryback Addressed the WWE Universe
The promo started off a bit rocky, but he found a pace as the promo went on (stupid "What?" chants aside). What I loved most about it was how down to earth he was, retelling his history and giving fans a reason to care about him. For the first time in nearly three years, he also gave an explanation behind the "Feed Me More" chant. This is the kind of character development WWE should be doing more of. Ryback has been doing some of the best work of his career since his return a few months ago and it's great to see him finally breaking out on the mic as well. I look forward to what 2015 brings for him.
Divas Champion Nikki Bella def. Natalya (Non-title)
What was the point of pushing Natalya into the Divas title picture only to get beaten in a minute long match? It felt rushed beyond belief, but as always, Tyson Kidd was the saving grace at ringside. It's hard to buy into him and Nikki being interested in each other when both are in relationships with WWE Superstars, but this wasn't the worst we could have seen from the Divas. In the end, it was all about promoting the return of Total Divas on Sunday, so it served its purpose.
The Usos def. The Miz and Damien Mizdow to Win the WWE Tag Team Championship
The crowd was rather flat for the matchup early, but they found a rhythm during the final few minutes and delivered a fun finishing sequence. The near-falls shortly before the finish were very well done and made the match more meaningful as a result. The Usos winning back the belts so soon came as a surprise, but I don't have a problem with it since you can always count on them for a great match. Plus, you need babyface champions when The Ascension eventually challenge for the titles. Is a split between Miz and Mizdow coming sooner than expected?
Bad News Barrett def. Cesaro
It was encouraging to see Cesaro actually receive mic time for once and make mention of how disappointing his 2014 has been. However, I agree with the masses that the only thing many people will remember from that promo is him botching the "four ropes" line. This was the perfect place to have Barrett return and it's refreshing that's back as a babyface. The match was rather brief and obviously didn't live up to its full potential, but I'd love to see these two mix it up a bit more down the line.
Luke Harper def. Jack Swagger
This was an exact rematch from last week's episode of Main Event and even less people cared this time around. I like both guys, but neither of them mean much at the moment. Harper was somewhat damaged from his fairly brief reign as Intercontinental champion, but at least this win was a decent way of getting his heat back. As for Swagger, they've already given up on pushing him after his mini feud with Rusev ran its course. It's a shame since they could be doing more with him, but this match definitely didn't need to be as long as it was.
Roman Reigns def. Seth Rollins by Disqualification
It definitely felt like they were holding back for the first portion of the matchup, and I have no complaints. This can be a money match for WWE later down the line if they hold off on it and I was glad it went to a non-finish. They picked up the pace down the stretch and gave viewers just enough of what they're capable of to keep them excited for when they do finally deliver a clean finish. Big Show, while effective on commentary, hurt the predictability of the match by sitting on commentary the entire time. Rollins was made to look strong by taking out Reigns afterward.
Daniel Bryan Announced His Participation in the 2015 Royal Rumble
As someone who was confident that Bryan was coming back at some point, even I was buying into the possibility of him retiring. His delivery of the promo was phenomenal, especially when he got emotional after his late father and serious neck injury. The crowd was hanging on every word and I couldn't be more excited to see him back in the Royal Rumble match. I'm a sucker for surprises, but it adds a lot more intrigue to the Rumble match and Reigns is no longer the only possibility to win. In retrospect, this should have closed the show over what we ended up getting.
The Ascension def. The Miz and Damien Mizdow
It's been over two and a half years in the making, but The Ascension are finally a part of the main roster. As a fan of the act, I'm excited for what they'll bring to the table. Their gimmick seems too goofy with all the face paint and it's a step down from what they were doing in NXT, but that stuff aside, they're fresh blood in the tag team division and that's what we desperately need right now.
Edge and Christian Hosted 'The Cutting Edge Peep Show' with Seth Rollins
Edge and Christian were once again played their parts very well here and I love their chemistry. Rollins was great here as well, but I think much like myself, many people were waiting for Randy Orton to return. Rollins was very vindictive in threatening to cripple Edge, and while I give him credit for making the most of the material he's being given, that seemed a bit too dark even for WWE. Injuring someone is one thing, but killing them? Seriously? The Authority being brought back left me speechless. I figured they'd be factored into the equation again at some point, but one month after they were forced out of power? Orton not returning wasn't what bothered me. It was ending the show on such a sour note, making everything that happened at the end of Survivor Series essentially irrelevant.
The awful ending aside, this was easily one of the best editions of Raw of 2014. My only complaint was that it happened so late in the year. Edge and Christian were very entertaining as guest hosts, The Authority being brought back was newsworthy (as much as I may have hated it), Bad News Barrett's return and The Usos winning the tag titles was a pleasant surprise and Ryback's promo was great. Do they really need to hold a live event the same night of Raw every week in order to put on a strong show? It was an excellent way of closing out the year and I look forward to what they have in store for the first episode of 2015.
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