Five days before Christmas, WWE hoped to give the Milwaukee fans an early gift before the calendar reached Dec. 25. Whether or not WWE accomplished this will depend on your wrestling tastes, but from an objective perspective (if that’s even possible), the promotion did produce some solid matches and effective angles throughout the three-hour telecast.
These are the top two things that went right on the Dec. 20 episode of WWE Raw.
Honorable mention: Rhea Ripley pins Queen Zelina- Generally speaking, booking a champion to lose a non-title match achieves nothing but tarnishing a championship’s credibility, but given how WWE presents the Women’s Tag Team Championships and current co-holder of the title Queen Zelina, another loss wouldn’t do much more damage.
Rhea Ripley, on the other hand, needed a bounceback win after losing to Zelina in less than a minute last week, and that’s exactly what she got here.
Honorable mention: The Cutting Edge- There wasn’t much to this edition of Edge’s talk show — the second of TWO talk show segments on Raw — but it was nice to see Edge not fall for Maryse’s crocodile tears. He was even ready for Miz’s blindsided attack, though the proceedings still ended with “The Rated R Superstar” eating another Skull Crushing Finale.
It didn’t do much to spark my interest in the Miz/Edge Day 1 match, but the segment itself was fine.
Bianca Belair vanquishes Doudrop with the KOD
Last week, in a piece similar to this one, I hypothesized that WWE had (sigh) Doudrop attack Bianca Belair after their match to necessitate a rematch where “The EST” could beat her most recent archrival with the KOD, even though Belair already (sigh) Doudrop clean without her signature maneuver, and that scenario played out on this week’s Raw.
In the end, any critiques regarding WWE not positioning (sigh) Doudrop as a genuine threat to Belair and WWE rendering the moment unecessary by showing that Belair can beat her without her finisher didn’t matter once Belair hoisted the former Piper Niven up for the KOD, as the incredible feat of strength brought the fans in the Fiserv Forum to their feet, showing that WWE still has something special with the former SmackDown Women’s Champion.
Now that Belair has beaten (sigh) Doudrop three straight times, this most recent victory should signify the end of this feud. WWE billing this as “the final chapter” on its Youtube channel indicates this, too, though this is the same company that promoted the John Cena vs. The Rock match at WrestleMania XXVIII as “Once in a Lifetime” only to book the rematch a year later, so we shall see if this program is truly done.
Randy Orton vs. Chad Gable
This match only spanned three minutes, but Randy Orton and Chad Gable — two excellent workers — made the most of their time here with a crisp, fast-paced (especially for Orton’s standards) affair.
The two told a nice little story here that led to a shrewd finish, as Orton brushed off Gable’s armdrag attempt — showing off his veteran knowhow by picking up on Gable’s heavy usage of the move earlier in the bout — and hitting a tremendous RKO to score the clean pin. Even small stuff like Orton selling his arm for a second before going for the draping DDT and giving Gable time to counter it contributed to enhancing this beyond your typical short WWE match.
This match reaffirmed how good Orton can be when he isn’t slapping on a five-minute chinlock and how much it sucks that WWE thinks Gable is too short to be anything other than a jobber to the stars.
Also, kudos to WWE for using the post match to continue building Otis as this impenatrable blunt instrument, as he countered the RKO three times, illustrating that Orton was prepared for another ambush while also adding some intrigue for whether “The Viper” can hit his patented cutter on Otis in their match next week.