It’s the night at Survivor Series, and we have a new WWE World Champion in the form of Sheamus, who cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase to wrest the title away from tournament winner Roman Reigns. Plus, we’ve only got three weeks until the next Pay Per View, so you would think that WWE is going to have to set up some feuds quickly in order to have meaningful matches at TLC! Yes, last night’s Raw should have been chock-full of action and hints of a future direction! So, what did we get instead? Read on, and find out just exactly what the heck happened on Raw last night!
10. Follow The Lack Of Direction
So, fresh off their devestating loss to a pair of near-senior citizens at Survivor Series, The Wyatt Family is now reduced to fighting The Dudley Boyz (another team that has basically lost all momentum, but at least has a decorated history and a constant threat of table use to fall back on) in a meaningless opening tag match. And The Wyatt Family won cleanly, then destroyed Bubba and D’von afterwards, so it’s not like it even set up any sort of feud, just gave them a token victory the night after their entire faction was shown to be basically irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. At this point, it’s pretty safe to say that the Wyatt Family is about as threatening as The Mean Street Posse, in that there’s allegedly a powerful force backing them up, but it sure doesn’t help them win anything important. Building up an incredibly useless faction of heels seems like it might have been the theme for the evening, actually, but we’ll get into that.
9. Sasha Sees A Spider
On the bright side, we did get a match involving Sasha Banks. Even better, it was against Becky Lynch, and anyone who watches NXT knows that they put on an incredible one-on-one match on an NXT: TakeOver event earlier this year. Of course, we were never going to get that match on Raw, and given the incredible amount of filler that took place last night, it’s a shame they didn’t cut something to give the ladies an extra five minutes or so, but it was still a taste of what we’ve been waiting for. With the Bellas a non-factor on television right now, the opportunity is there for the NXT women to bring more of the stuff that they were doing in developmental, knowing that they are now working with opponents who can keep up. And even though it ended on a distraction roll-up, they made sure to include a spot where Sasha visibly tapped out to Becky out of sight of a distracted referee, giving Becky some credibility while letting Sasha have the victory. Plus, it gives them a reason to fight another time, and it gave us this sweet Raw Fallout video where poor, beleaguered Eden Stiles attempts to get a comment from Team B.A.D.
Seriously, between Team B.A.D., New Day, and Kevin Owens, it’s a wonder the entire WWE backstage interview team hasn’t just quit in disgust by now.
8. The New Day’s First Anniversary Country Music Jamboree & WWE Tag Team Championship Open Challenge
When you’re looking for the height of ridiculousness, you can’t go wrong with titles that are just overly long descriptions of exactly what you’re going to do. It’s the kind of joke that’s only funny if you constantly insist on repeating the entire title every time you mention it, which is why we’ll try to avoid every directly mentioning it here. We’re on a word limit, after all. At any rate, this was an opportunity for The New Day to be awesome and set up a new feud for the tag titles, and in the process, we found two different challengers and must now consider the possibilities of some sort of ridiculous multi-team ladder match at the TLC Pay Per view. Also, apparently Sin Cara speaks English now. Actually, the current Sin Cara always spoke English, but for some reason they pretended the character didn’t for the longest time. Frankly, he was more interesting that way. Maybe they can bring back the idea from the Scooby Doo movie that Sin Cara can only communicate through lucha.
7. Astronomy With Titus And Cody
Poor Stardust. His brush with relevancy due to his interactions with Stephen Amell at SummerSlam is far in the past, and he’s adopted possibly the most incompetent tag team in WWE to be his proteges. Meanwhile, his prospective feud with Cesaro is gone with the wind, and although his brother has only been back for two days, he’s already getting his ass kicked at every turn in that area. It’s the kind of thing that makes you want to hide out in your dark, mysterious room full of stars that apparently can be walked into accidentally. Both Stardust and Titus O’Neil show off the kind of talent that should make them at least decent-sized stars in WWE, with both having boatloads of charisma and wacky ideas that wrestling fans latch onto in an instant, but both have absolutely nothing to do except lose matches. The only good thing about facing each other in a six-man tag match last night is that at least one of them got to win for the first time in a while.
6. State of Mexamerica: It Sucks
After making a one night return at Survivor Series to show what he can do when motivated, Alberto Del Rio was back to staring blankly while Zeb Colter danced around the line of political correctness and the crowd desperately prayed for a hero to save them. Unfortunately, the best we’ve got is Real American Jack Swagger, who wants Zeb to remember the old days when they used to hang around and speak out against immigrants and people of different races. In a war between xenophobes, the one who loves America is apparently the good guy, but the whole thing is just deader than Del Rio’s eyes while he halfheartedly tries to sell the concept of Mexamerica. Jack Swagger is neither the hero WWE fans need or deserve, and he’s almost certainly just a placeholder feud for Del Rio until something more important happens, which means we’re pretty much guaranteed another month or so of Del Rio (and fans) struggling to stay awake while wrestling matches that could generously be considered boring wastes of time. The good news is, Swagger might have finally gotten rid of his lisp!
5. Not On The Table!
Because it is the night after a Pay Per View, WWE made sure to include a rematch to something you might have paid to see the night before. We don’t know why, it’s just what they always do. In this case, it was the apparently continuing feud between Paige and Charlotte, since just because you beat somebody cleanly, doesn’t mean they don’t get another shot at the title, for whatever reason. At any rate, Paige and Charlotte went out and had another decent match, which ended in a double count-out, to ensure that the feud continues to the TLC Pay Per View. Admittedly, that’s not the worst idea, since three weeks isn’t exactly the greatest amount of time to start a feud from scratch (that raises other questions about poor scheduling of Pay Per Views, but we’ll be here all day if we go down that road). After the match ended, the women continued to brawl, and it ended with Paige performing her now-trademark maneuver of applying her PTO submission maneuver on top of the announce table. Which Michael Cole attempted to sell as a deadly move, but which you’ll see from the picture below adds absolutely nothing new to the hold and couldn’t possibly be any more painful than if it were applied inside the ring. But at least the effort was there?
4. Breeze Is Just Another Guy
We spoke in the preview for Survivor Series about how Breeze’s match with Dolph Ziggler would establish his place in WWE going forward. Perhaps we should also have included the night after on Raw, as he got thrown into a tag team match that served as dual rematches from the Pay Per View, and, in the grand and dumb tradition of win trading that WWE has established over the last decade, Breeze’s team lost and he took the pin so that Dolph Ziggler could get his heat back. And in one fell swoop, WWE did indeed establish that Tyler Breeze is going to be just another guy, trading wins and losses with the rest of the Superstars who are stuck in the limbo that is the WWE mid-card, where nobody is better than anyone else and everyone is definitely worse that the wrestlers in the main event. You would think at a time when WWE’s main roster is looking thinner than the hair on Shawn Michaels’ head (why did you think he wears a hat all the time now?) and with WrestleMania only a few months away, featuring less potential returning nostalgia on a daily basis, and expected to sell out a 100,000 seat stadium, that they’d be looking to establish some hot new acts going forward. Apparently not, though.
3. Rusev’s Back. Yep.
Admittedly, after the ridiculous story he was in just before an injury took him off TV for the last few weeks, maybe Rusev is okay with just being brought back in as part of Sheamus’ goon squad. But come on, freaking Goldust had more attention paid to his return. Meanwhile, Rusev shockingly attacks Reigns during the opening segment and it’s treated like he’s been there every day leading up to last night. Plus, he doesn’t have any of his valets, or his medal, or his big flag, and he didn’t even get to speak! Literally everything that made him so interesting, and we saw none of it last night! And his big return match, after missing several weeks and spending the months before that losing a whole bunch of matches, was another loss! Okay, it was a good match, but just like Tyler Breeze, it would have probably been a good idea to give Rusev a big win in his return if they’re planning to use him as a threat in their main event story line going forward. Of course, with that said, we have to discuss the overall effectiveness of this basically freshly-formed Rusev-Sheamus-Barrett stable, and for that, let’s take a look at their planned surprise attack on the head of the Roman Empire that closed the show…
2. Worst. Underdog. Ever.
All right, the story line is that Roman Reigns is a massive underdog fighting against the powerful Authority who gets screwed at every turn, just as he’s about to achieve his dream, right? Therefore, you’d assume that when a new faction of heels that was assembled for the purpose of screwing over Roman Reigns and protecting the new WWE World Heavyweight Champion interferes in his match and attack him from behind, we’re settling in for one of those good old-fashioned heel beat-downs that establishes them as the powerful obstacle that Reigns, the underdog, will have to fight through in the coming weeks in order to finally get his chance at a fair fight against the champion. Or, you could do what WWE did last night, and have Reigns effortlessly fight off three men, including the WWE Champion, establishing them as bumbling morons who have no chance of preventing Reigns from doing anything he wants. One sets up three previously shamefully under-used Superstars as serious threats after months of being treated as worthless losers, and the other is one of those qualities that people really, really hate about the character of the departed John Cena. But since Reigns is expected to be John Cena 2.0, despite showing almost no aptitude for the job and the original Cena coming back within a month, you can see why WWE went the direction that they did.
1. One Down, Only Two To Go
Hey, thanks to the holiday season, we’re only three weeks away from the TLC Pay Per View! Well, just over two weeks, now that WWE decided the best thing to do in such a compressed time between big shows is to waste a week with meaningless matches that don’t actually set up any feuds, useless comedy segments featuring Heath Slater getting knocked out by Ryback, and commercials masquerading as dream sequences that make us question whether we did some really bad drugs when we weren’t paying attention. But don’t worry, after all, there were only two Raws left before Survivor Series when Seth Rollins suffered a massive knee injury and necessitated the complete re-booking of that show, and that turned out all right, didn’t it?