Ladies and gentlemen, we have arrived at the final Monday Night Raw of 2013. Blockbuster announcements from The Authority, an Intercontinental Title match and Big Show as Baby New Year are what’s in store.
CM Punk promo/CM Punk vs. Seth Rollins
Punk opens Raw with a promo discussing his year. He talks about The Rock, Paul Heyman, then he admits it wasn’t his best year. Then, he turns his attention to the guys who did take control of 2013, The Shield. He guesses he will cross paths with the trio at some point as he begins to make a challenge, but their music hits and they make their way down the steps.
Ambrose picks up the mic and eggs on Punk to finish his challenge. Punk tells them the three of them can beat anybody, the real challenge comes in a 1-on-1 match-up. Punk wants the best, and Ambrose just assumes it’s himself. Punk mocks Ambrose, bringing up his wins over Ambrose in the past. Reigns restrains Ambrose, as Rollins picks up the mic, who proclaims himself as the best. Punk goads Rollins, the same way he did Ambrose, as he proclaims Reigns to be the best. Reigns and Rollins then argue, away from the mic. Brad Maddox comes out and makes Punk vs. Rollins.
Rollins had the match won, he hit his finisher, but Ambrose had the referee distracted, and Punk kicked out. Punk wins the match with a GTS.
My Take: As I discussed in my review of this past Friday’s SmackDown, Rollins hasn’t played much of a role in the breakup of The Shield, so his role here was nice to see. The cracks are continuing to form in The Shield here, and it’s all starting to take shape, now that all three men have become involved.
As for the match, a couple of botches, it seemed they were both unsure of what was happening both times. The match took a while to get off the ground, but CM Punk always finds a way to get the crowd invested. This match was a bit disappointing, I think if they were given the chance these guys could do a much better job. More of Rollins getting the short end of The Shield’s stick in the finish, this could get very interesting.
Brad Maddox talking to referee, then Stephane McMahon, Triple H and Daniel Bryan
Maddox talks to the referee for the Intercontinental Title match, stressing how important the match is, when Stephanie and Triple H enter. He tells them that things have been a little out of sorts in their absence, but he intends to start finding solutions. Daniel Bryan enters and demands a match with Bray Wyatt. Maddox suggests he go through Luke Harper and Erick Rowan first, before he gets Bray, although it was not announced as a gauntlet match. Stephanie lets Maddox know she’s impressed as she exits to make her way to the stage.
Stephanie comes out to the stage to announce the main event for the Royal Rumble pay-per-view. She talks about the incoming new year, and mistakes made, but she has made no mistakes. She talks about the success of unifying the world titles, and introduces a career retrospective for Randy Orton.
After the video, Stephanie announces John Cena as the challenger to Orton’s title at the Royal Rumble.
My Take: We are putting Bryan in another gauntlet match? Though it was not announced that way, that’s essentially what it is. It’s a good call because he consistently performs well, but it’s still becoming overkill. Maddox has been great as an authority figure who is very unsure of himself. This was a different role for him though, and he was perfect. I have very high hopes for Maddox in the future.
As for Stephanie, she continues to bring her best every time she is on screen. As for the match at the Royal Rumble, Cena was due his rematch so no surprises here.
Curtis Axel pre-taped promo/Dolph Ziggler pre-taped promo/Curtis Axel vs. Dolph Ziggler
Both guys talk about their new year’s resolutions, they both talk about the hot starts to their years, but also their cold finishes, and how they will correct that in 2014.
Two solid workers in the ring in this match, but neither one has direction, this could be the start of another feud for Ziggler that takes part exclusively on Raw. Ziggler wins with the Zig Zag.
My Take: These guys are both going nowhere right now, so not a lot of stock can be put into this, but I really want to see Ziggler get pushed. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come.
Big E Langston vs. Fandango (Intercontinental Championship)
I honestly never thought “Fandango-ing” would still be a thing, so kudos WWE Universe. Big E never fails to impress with how agile and athletic he is, especially for his size. Fandango also hit a really cool tornado DDT. Big E wins with the Big Ending.
My Take: Legitimate title contenders don’t arise from Christmas present on a pole matches. The outcome of this one was never really in doubt. Fandango did a good job in this match, and Big E sold well for him, making him seem like a legitimate threat to the title. Hopefully, Fandango begins to be a more legitimate guy, he’s not quite a comedy act, but he’s on the borderline.
Booker T promo/Bad News Barrett promo
Booker T and some members of the locker room come on stage, he wants to ring in the new year with a spinaroonie. Barrett appears on a very tall podium next to the stage. He denies the world of the spinaroonie, and promises us that the only thing that will change on January 1st, is that we will be closer to the apocalypse.
My Take: Barrett’s really good, but this character is so hard to buy into. It’s not that funny, and I don’t see that changing.
Damien Sandow with Renee Young/Damien Sandow vs. The Great Khali
Sandow threatens to quit if he does not win his match-up tonight, because he is always being embarrassed.
Khali wins a WWE App vote to be Sandow’s opponent. Sandow barely sneaks a way with a win on a roll-up.
My Take: Khali is so bad, how is he still employed? Moreover, why did he almost beat Sandow? None of this makes sense.
R-Truth vs. Brodus Clay
Xavier Woods is on commentary. Truth and Clay have a pretty decent match, but Truth isn’t taken seriously. Clay isn’t taken seriously either, but they’re starting to try with him. The Funkadactyls came out to distract Clay, and Truth picked up the win. The Funkadactyls celebrated with Truth and Woods after the match.
My Take: It feels as though all Woods has done since he came up is put Clay and Truth over, which is completely backwards and nonsensical. Woods has to start getting in the ring and picking up legitimate wins, because he’s good and he deserves it.
As for the post-match celebration…let me just say this feud makes me sad.
Triple H promo/Brock Lesnar’s return/Paul Heyman and Brock Lesnar promo/Mark Henry
Hunter starts the same way Stephanie did. However, he surprisingly introduces Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman.
Heyman reintroduces Lesnar and says that him and Lesnar are returning, but they are not back to settle old scores, because Lesnar has beat everybody in his path. Lesnar is looking to enter the WWE World Heavyweight Championship picture, no matter who wins at the Royal Rumble. Lesnar then takes the mic and says he has no interest in the Rumble match, nor standing in a mysterious line for a title shot, he is the #1 contender because he is just that good. Heyman reclaims the mic and says nobody gets in Brock’s way because nobody wants to, and out comes Mark Henry.
Henry makes his way to the ring and the two monsters brawl. Lesnar takes care of Henry pretty quickly.
My Take: SmackDown spoilers informed us that Lesnar would be appearing, but being kindly introduced by Triple H was unexpected, although Lesnar did stare Hunter down as he left.
Lesnar doesn’t need the Rumble match, and neither does Henry. A match between the two at the Rumble would have made a lot of sense, but it doesn’t now, considering how quickly Lesnar dispatched of Henry. But I would like to see it.
10 Divas Tag Match
Stop me if you have heard this one before, members of the Total Divas cast, against a team of Divas not on the show.
A lot of dissension between both teams early on. Nothing comes of it and the non-Total Divas pull out a miracle win.
My Take: This match is getting really old, and it might actually be getting worse. The finish makes no sense, unless they want to make a real rivalry out of this, but what would be the point of starting now? After all the wins the Total Divas have already.
Brad Maddox, Stephanie McMahon and Triple H backstage
Not much to this, Maddox admits to the mistake in the Khali match, as his shoulder was up. Then promises to have both Stephanie and Hunter’s favorites at Old School Raw next week. Maddox finishes the segment by doing a lot of “Woo”-ing.
My Take: Maddox is awesome, and he really shines in his segments with The Authority.
Daniel Bryan vs. Luke Harper/Daniel Bryan vs. Erick Rowan/Daniel Bryan vs. Bray Wyatt
This is not being billed as a traditional gauntlet match.
Bryan begins against Harper, as Bryan finds himself in the main event, again. Bryan beats Harper with a running knee, now time for Rowan. Bryan beats Rowan with a roll-up. Finally, it’s time for Bryan to take on Bray Wyatt, a one-on-one match that everybody has been waiting for (not counting their match at Tribute to the Troops).
Interestingly, before the final match, Rowan began to attack Bryan, before Harper came in to stop him, so Wyatt could destroy Bryan himself. Then, not so interestingly, they attacked just after the bell rang, giving Bryan the victory via DQ. They weren’t done and continued the attack, which included a Shield-esque double power bomb on Bryan, as Bray grabbed a mic and sang something creepy.
Bray says that his time dealing with Bryan is over with, and that he can show no more mercy. Bryan takes the mic and says Bray was always right. Bryan says the machine would never let him win, no matter what the people wanted, then asks to join The Wyatt Family. Bray then hits Bryan with Sister Abigail, which I believe was actually a form of acceptance.
My Take: Harper’s match against Punk on Raw, about a month ago, made him my favorite member of The Wyatt Family. He has a lot of talent, especially with the smaller guys, like Punk and Bryan. Harper shined here, yet again.
Bryan and Rowan was okay. Rowan just seems to be missing something, his work is getting there. He seems to be very comparable to Roman Reigns when The Shield first started, the least talented member of his group, but with good size, so worth the time to train.
That last part was unexpected. They hinted at it, but I did not think it would happen. Bryan’s facials at the end were perfect, they really sold his pain and anguish and they made the segment. I can honestly say I don’t like this one bit.
This edition of Raw was pretty good. No Big Show as Baby New Year, but I think that’s okay. Storyline-wise, it appears WWE is still shy about committing to anything in the build to the Royal Rumble, but the matches on this show were very good, with one or two exceptions (I’m looking at you R-Truth and all the Divas). Still, looking to Old School Raw next week, there is a lot for the WWE Universe to be excited about.
Did you like this edition of Raw? Did you hate it? Somewhere in between? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.