RECOMMENDED NEW PODCAST - EX-WWE CREATIVE TEAM MEMBER DISHES ON BACKSTAGE WWE OPERATIONS...
(Search "wade keller" to subscribe in podcast app)
KELLER’S WWE RAW REPORT
DECEMBER 5, 2016
AIRED LIVE ON USA NETWORK
ANNNOUNCERS: Michael Cole, Byron Saxton, Corey Graves
-A video package aired on the parking garage angle with Seth Rollins and Chris Jericho last week.
-Seth Rollins made his ring entrance. He said something has been bubbling under the surface for a few months and he wants to get it off his chest. “I want Triple H,” he said deliberately. “Yeah, it needed to be said.” He said he’s made some choices years back and put together The Shield. “We changed the face of WWE forever. When the time was right, I had to dismantle The Shield. That’s when I learned life isn’t just about choices, but it’s about the consequences of choices you make.” He said Triple H made a choice, too – to be against him. He referred to himself in the third person. He criticized Hunter for choosing to back Kevin Owens as his new “golden boy.” He said what he did to Chris Jericho last week was a message to Triple H. He said the best way to get to Triple H is to take the Universal Title from Kevin Owens. He said he has to take Jericho out before he can have a fair shot at that. He said without Jericho, the Kevin Owens Show has shown it’s not ready for prime time.
Owens’ music interrupted. Owens stepped onto the stage. Seth asked how Jericho was doing and how is their friendship. Owens told Seth it is rude to interrupt people (even though he interrupted Seth). Owens said he must be asking about their friendship because he and Jericho had a fight last week, but “sometimes best friends fight.” He said Seth doesn’t know about that because he doesn’t have any friends. He pointed out that he stabbed his Shield cohorts in the back first chance he got. Owens said best friends make up. Seth said he assumed Jericho has been returning his texts all week and returning his phone calls. Owens said Seth doesn’t have to worry about their friendship or whether they talked. He said Jericho was probably busy recuperating from his attack last week, and he was busy buying his best friend Chris gifts. He said he is such a great guy, he bought him three gifts. Seth said hopefully that’s enough to compensate for all of the times Jericho has given him the Universal Title with his interference. Owens didn’t like that. He yelled back that he’s sick of people saying that. He said he is a fighting champion. He said Roman Reigns beat him last week only because of Seth, because he was distracted by how Jericho was doing the whole match.
Seth said if he’s such a fighting champion, defend against him today. Owens said he beat him two weeks ago already. He said he already has a match booked against Sami Zayn tonight, and he’s already scheduled to defend his title against Reigns “at Roadblock: End of the Line.” Owens said he negotiated with Stephanie McMahon and secured a match between Jericho and Reigns for the U.S. Title later tonight. Also, Jericho is now booked against Seth at Roadblock. Seth smiled and nodded. He told Seth he has a match right now. Big Show’s music played and he walked out. Show has lost weight. Cole said he’s down to 395 pounds, despite a giant new beard. The segment clocked in just over 12 minutes. [c]
(1) THE BIG SHOW vs. SETH ROLLINS
Graves said Owens must have some stroke with Stephanie to get this match booked. Cole noted the size difference between them. Owens pounded the mat in excitement as Show took it to Seth early. At 2:00 Seth dropkicked Show’s legs. Show rolled to the floor. Seth dove through the ropes, but Show caught him, pressed him, and dropped him over the barricade ribs-first. Owens cheered him on. When Show set up a chokeslam in the ring, Seth fought out of it and DDT’d Show and scored a two count. Seth set up a Pedigree. Owens leaped onto the ring apron to distract the ref. Show backdropped Seth. Owens yelled at Show, “Just finish him, dammit! Just knock him out or something. He almost had you!” Show heard enough and chokeslammed Owens into the ring. Show left the ring and slapped hands with fans. He applauded when he was counted out. Seth gave Owens a Pedigree.
WINNER: Rollins via countout in 5:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Show looked aesthetically better than he has in years. I was thinking watching the match that he seemed more like a babyface now than a heel. Makes sense to have him get fed up with Owens and turn on him. I’m hesitant to ever have a babyface throw a match and lose on purpose, as it diminishes the very notion that it’s worth fighting hard to win, rather than just “put in your time to entertain.”)
-They went to the announcers on camera, who plugged Reigns vs. Jericho. Cole then hyped the “205 Live” show and the Rich Swann victory over Brian Kendrick to capture the Cruiserweight Title. Graves said he’s excited about the arrival of Jack Gallagher.
-A video package aired on Gallagher. He said to stand out in the Cruiserweight Division, he just has to be himself. And he believes if he performs to the best of his abilities, the best of his abilities are some of the best in the world.
(Keller’s Analysis: Really good personality profile that set him apart both in terms of personality and in-ring style.) [c]
-Cole hyped and congratulated John Cena for getting the “Saturday Night Live” hosting gig this coming weekend.
(2) JACK GALLAGHER vs. ARIYA DAIVARI
Gallagher escaped a side headlock by doing a hand stand and hand walk away. Cole said Gallagher’s three favorites in WWE were Mankind, X-Pac, and Steve Austin. Gallagher headbutted Daivari and then hit a running dropkick in the corner and scored the three count. Cole said, “That’s just a little bit of what this young man can do.”
WINNER: Gallagher in 3:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Cole shouldn’t refer to Cruiserweights as “young men” like someone would an eight year old picking out a suit for a wedding. “You look very handsome, young man.” Just because Cruiserweights are smaller than the other wrestlers doesn’t mean they should be referred to like children. Plus, Gallagher is 26, old enough to be a medical doctor.)
-Gallagher offered a handshake afterward. Daivari accepted the handshake, but then kicked him in the legs a few time, seemingly setting up a rematch on “205 Live” tomorrow night.
-Cole announced that Sheamus & Cesaro would face Karl Anderson & Doc Gallows later, winners facing New Day next week for the WWE Raw Tag Team Titles.
-Titus O’Neal was handing out flyers backstage about his Titus brand. [c]
-Backstage Owens yelled at Mick Foley about booking him against Sami Zayn later. He said if Stephanie was there, this wouldn’t be happening. Foley said Stephanie is not there and the match is happening. Foley walked away. Owens spotted Jericho and asked him if he saw what just happened. Jericho said he just arrived. Owens said, “Tell me you heard about the gifts I got for you?” Jericho glared at him. Owens, stammering in a panic, explained that he got him a match against Reigns for the U.S. Title, so they’ll both be Universal Champions and U.S. Champions, plus he gets his revenge against Seth at Roadblock. He bragged about Big Show softening up Seth earlier. “We’re good right?” he asked. Jericho said, “No, we’re not good.” He walked away.
-Enzo and Big Cass were chatting backstage when suddenly conveniently, Lana and Rusev arrived. They were speaking loudly to each other. Enzo said he doesn’t stand for Rusev talking to a woman like that. Cass said that’s not his business. Enzo said they just made it everyone’s business. Rusev told Enzo to stay out of his business. Lana said he is trying to help. Rusev didn’t like her standing up to “this worm.” Rusev called Lana pathetic and said maybe she deserves a pathetic man like that. Lana grabbed Rusev’s arm and pointed at her wedding ring. She said, “This means you are the only man that can have me.” She dropped the ring. Rusev stormed off. Lana looked sad. Enzo asked Cass to let him take care of this. Cass left. Enzo handed her the ring and then talked about being a great listener. He asked her, “Let me ask you a question; how are you doin’?”
-Sami Zayn made his ring entrance. They cut away to a kid dancing in the crowd to Sami’s music. [c]
-They went back to Lana and Enzo. Lana said she doesn’t believe Rusev appreciates her and that he takes her for granted. Lana suggested that Rusev needs to be taught a lesson. She said if Rusev saw that another man appreciated her, he wouldn’t take her for granted. She offered him a chance to visit her hotel room #704. She said a few words in Russian. Enzo seemed besotted over the chance to have a possible private evening with a married woman who wants to use him to make her husband appreciate her more.
(3) SAMI ZAYN vs. KEVIN OWENS
Cole said earlier Sami stormed into Foley’s office earlier demanding another shot at Braun Strowman. Foley booked him against Owens instead. Sami went after Owens aggressively at the start. Owens came back with a flip dive. Sami came right back with a flip dive of his own. They cut to a break at 2:00. [c]
As Owens had Sami in a headlock, they showed a clip of Seth giving Owens a Pedigree earlier. I don’t remember WWE showing a highlight from earlier in the evening during an actual match. Between this and all of the cutaways to fans reacting to the action, someone in WWE had a brainstorming session on how to change the presentation of the show. Sami dove through the ropes in the corner and DDT’d Owens then hit a suplex and scored a near fall in the ring at 5:00.
A couple minutes later Owens caught a charging Sami with a kick and then went for a Pop-Up Powerbomb. Sami gave Owens an exploder suplex into the corner and then a Blue Thunder Bomb for a near fall. Sami landed an exploder suplex at ringside. Sami threw Owens into the ring, but Owens managed to hit a Pop-Up Powerbomb out of nowhere for the sudden win. He rolled onto his back after the three count to sell the effects of the battle.
WINNER: Owens in 10:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: These two always have a good match, but it’s seems sad when it’s overdone just to fill TV time instead of saving it for down the line when their paths cross again after achieving considerable success otherwise.)
-Reigns walked into Jericho’s locker area. Jericho snarled, “What are you doing here?” Reigns lectured Jericho on showing up late. Reigns asked what something was on his face. “Do you still have car paint on your forehead?” he asked. Jericho rubbed his forehead in a panic. Jericho called him a stupid idiot. Reigns told him to watch his mouth around him and get ready for their match. Jericho said tonight his luck runs out and he’ll be the lucky man. Reigns said the way he sees it, he’s just doing Owens’ dirty work again. He patted him on the shoulder and wished him luck.
-Saxton said Sasha Banks would speak about her title win last week next. [c]
-A video package aired on the Charlotte-Sasha Banks feud and their match last week.
-Charly interviewed Sasha backstage. She said last week’s match took everything out of her. She said last week reached “a whole ‘nother level” because she walked into Charlotte’s kingdom and walked out with her crown. Sasha said Charlotte wasn’t crying because she was celebrating with her daddy, but rather because the better woman won. She said she understands why Ric Flair cost her the title at WrestleMania, but she understands why he did what he did last week. She said she can’t wait until Charlotte gets her rematch because she brings out the best in her. Charly quoted Charlotte’s Twitter feed challenging her to a rematch. Sasha challenged her to an “Iron Man” match.
(Keller’s Analysis: There wasn’t a word Sasha said that felt natural in cadence of inflection. It was just so scripted and unnatural sounding. It’s just not worth it to have “clever” language like “I walked into her kingdom and walked out with her crown” if it results in any sense of genuine connection to the words being spoken is absent.)
-They replayed Charlotte last May kicking her father Ric out of the ring and telling him she doesn’t need him anymore. Cole wondered if what Ric did last week changed something in her because she has invited Ric to the ring tonight to make amends with a public apology.
(Keller’s Analysis: Why not announce that at the start of the show instead of waiting until near the mid-point?)
-“Are you ready to have fun?” asked Cole as Rich Swann made his ring entrance. [c]
-A video package aired on Swann, the largely the same profile piece that aired last week on “205 Live,” plus post-title-win comments dedicating the match to his late mother.
(4) RICH SWANN vs. T.J. PERKINS
Cole talked about Swann having a sunny disposition and a great outlook on life despite all that he’s been through. He said that’s one of the reasons he’s a champion today. Graves said imagine how that’d all change if Swann had to spend time around Saxton. Some crowd response early for the athletic exchanges. At 5:00 Perkins hung Swann upside down in the corner and then gave him a running dropkick leading to a two count. A minute later Swann caught Perkins mid-air with a kick and scored the pin.
WINNER: Swann in 6:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: I wish instead of this being all about how upbeat and happy Swann is, they would have spent a little time making it seem like something was at stake here for Perkins, the recent standard-bearer for the division. They didn’t create that sense that this was a pivotal match for Perkins to back in the title mix, and that a loss would be a setback. The way the match was presented there was never any doubt that Swann was going to win and that Perkins was just a body in there to share some ring time before losing. About four minutes in they got around to saying that Perkins has hit a speed bump but he has a long career ahead of him, so it just accentuated the vibe that it’s not his time and he’s just there to help Swann shine.)
-They showed Bayley walking backstage to head to the entrance stage. She had Bayley Bears, a new merchandise item they’re pushing. [c]
(5) BAYLEY vs. ALICIA FOX
Cole said earlier Bayley gave Cedric Alexander a Bayley Bear, and Fox was “extremely upset” and stormed off. Cole said Fix has a crush on Alexander. Graves said Bayley needs to learn to stay in her own lane. Fox was aggressive early. Bayley won with a Bayley-to-Belly.
WINNER: Bayley in 2:30.
-Enzo told Cass, “My mind is telling me no, but my body is telling me bada-boom go to her hotel room.” Cass said she’s trouble. Enzo said he knows that. Enzo checked his phone and he got a text from Lana. His eyes bugged out. It was a close-up of her face. Cass got wide-eyed. Enzo said he has to go get changed. Enzo left. Rusev walked up to ask Cass where his wife is. Cass said that’s not his problem, it’s Rusev’s problem. Rusev spun Cass around. Cass said he might have lost his wife, but he also lost his mind putting his hands on him like that. Rusev said he’d crush him in the ring later.
-The announcers excitedly hyped “The Tussle in Texas” coming up next. [c]
-A video hyped the arrival of Emmalina next week on Raw. Graves said it’s like Christmas, he can’t wait.
(6) TITUS O’NEAL vs. MARK HENRY
Titus taunted Henry. Henry powerslammed him and pinned him instantly. They cut to kids in the crowd reacting with shock, then another fan jumping up and down celebrating.
WINNER: Henry in about eight seconds.
-Enzo was all dolled up for his evening with Lana. A limo pulled up. Enzo seemed surprised. Out walked Ric Flair. The fans cheered. Enzo was excited and they hugged. Enzo told Flair where he was going. Flair offered his limo to Enzo. [c]
-Reigns’s full entrance aired. Lots of boos for Reigns’s ring entrance.
-They showed Jericho backstage heading toward the entrance stage. There had to be a reason he wasn’t introduced on stage as usual. Sure enough, Owens walked up to him and told him he’d be sure there was no injustice tonight. Jericho told him to listen to him. He said he is going to win the U.S. Title by himself because he doesn’t need him in his corner. “Stay out of my business,” he said. “Stay away from me.”
(7) CHRIS JERICHO vs. ROMAN REIGNS
Saxton pointed out that Jericho has never held the U.S. Title in his 26 year career. They did formal ring introductions for the title match. Reigns opened up with punches against Jericho. Reigns went for an early Superman Punch, but Jericho caught him mid-flight with a dropkick. Jericho knocked Reigns to the floor, then dove onto him at ringside with a body block. He threw an empty water bottle at Reigns, then they cut to a break. [c]
Jericho had Reigns down in a chinlock after the break. Reigns made a comeback and pounded his chest. The crowd booed. Jericho caught him charging with a boot to the face. Jericho side -tepped him and threw him out of the ring. Jericho then did a springboard dropkick to knock Reigns off the ring apron. Reigns gave Jericho a drive-by a minute later to a mix of jeers and silence. He “locked and loaded” again and Jericho once again side-stepped him and then landed a Lionsault for a two count. Reigns came back with a Samoan Drop and a Superman Punch. Saxton said, “The big fight feel drives Roman Reigns.” Reigns played to the crowd and then set up the spear, but Jericho caught him again with a boot. He went for a Code Breaker, but Reigns countered it with a powerbomb for a believable near fall. They cut to a kid in the crowd reacting. The kids and women chanted “This is awesome!” Can we all agree the chant finally officially jumped the shark there?
Reigns stomped away at Jericho in the corner. The ref scolded him for not breaking right away. Jericho threw a distracted Reigns into the ringpost and Cole went bonkers with his stuttering as Jericho scored a near fall. Jericho went for a Walls of Jericho. Reigns powered out. Jericho went for it again. Reigns small packaged Jericho for a near fall. Cole called it a small package! They usually avoid that term. Jericho then successfully applied the Walls of Jericho and part of the crowd popped. Reigns crawled to the bottom rope. Saxton channeled Vince McMahon: “Look at the grit! Look at the toughness from Reigns! Crawling!” Jericho complained to the ref. Owens snuck to ringside and superkicked Reigns in the face. Jericho then gave Reigns a Code Breaker for a two count. Owens threw a fit on the ring apron and complained to the ref. Jericho saw Owens and was upset he was there. He turned his back to Reigns. Cole said for a moment he thought Jericho was in on it, but it doesn’t appear that’s the case. Jericho told Owens that he told him to stay away because he doesn’t need him. Jericho slapped Owens in the chest and ordered him to “get out!” Owens left like a scolded dog. Reigns, of course, then surprised Jericho with a spear attempt, but Jericho leapfrogged him. Reigns tried again and hit the spear for the win. Cole said Jericho has good reason to be upset. Graves said Jericho was doing a great job and had a legitimate chance to become champion without Owens.
WINNER: Reigns in 14:00 to retain U.S. Title.
(Keller’s Analysis: Good match that told a good story. The seemingly accelerated break-up of Owens and Jericho seems to now be without a logical “swerve” factor being built in.)
-Cole hyped that Reigns would face Owens for the Universal Title at Roadblock. Then they aired a clip once again of Charlotte rejecting her dad on Raw back in May.
-Big Cass made his ring entrance. [c]
-Cole said Enzo wouldn’t be at ringside. Graves said that’s because he’s busy wrecking a marriage. Cole said Rusev has no idea any of the stuff with Enzo and Lana is going on. Rusev didn’t come out to his entrance music. Cass went to ringside and grabbed a phone and called Enzo, worried that Rusev and Lana were in on it. They cut to Enzo in the hotel hallway. His phone rang, but he didn’t answer it when he saw it was Cass was calling. Enzo approached the room, but then got cold feed. Lana stepped out and thanked him for coming. Enzo said this isn’t a good idea. Lana got sad and walked in her room. A camera was conveniently stationed in her room. Enzo entered. Lana hugged him. Enzo said he’s really uncomfortable right now. Lana said she is, too. Maybe it’s the camera in the room? Lana bent over and showed off her legs and picked up a napkin. She offered Enzo a drink. Lana ate a strawberry seductively. Enzo swigged the drink. Enzo said he had to go. He thanked her for the drink and tried to leave. She began rubbing his chest and laughed at his t-shirt which said “Rock ‘n’ Roll made me do it,” then ripped it off. Enzo said he was serious about having to leave. He kept saying he had to go and she had to stop. “Take off your pants,” she said. Enzo said it’s a terrible idea. She ordered him in a more stern voice. Enzo said okay and took off his pants. She began massaging his back. She said something in Russian. He said he doesn’t know what that means. She said, “It means you’re a fool.” She called for Rusev. Rusev walked in and was fuming mad. Enzo said he was going to grab his stuff and get out. Rusev tackled him and beat him up on the couch. Rusev broke furniture over Enzo and threw him into the wall again. Lana said it was perfect. Rusev broke a vase over Enzo head as Lana said, “Rusev is the only man who can have me!” Rusev yelled and then dragged Enzo out into the hallway where another camera was filming. Lana smiled and closed the door, but put a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door first.
(Kellers Analysis: In the end, Enzo still went to the hotel to have an evening with a married woman, and it’s hard to have a ton of sympathy for him because of that. Yes, Lana tricked him and he showed resistance and reluctance and wanted to leave over and over, which helped, but still… As for the whole execution of it was fine, other than the fact that Lana and Enzo had to ignore the cameras, which just felt strange and distracting because that’s not the usual narrative perspective on the show. Or, they didn’t care there were cameras there as things got steamy. WWE is trying to take the storytelling outside of the ring and the arena, and it’s hit or miss when they do stuff like this. At least there were no guns.) [c]
(8) SHEAMUS & CESARO vs. KARL ANDERSON & LUKE GALLOWS – No. 1 Contenders Match
Cole talked about how if New Day can beat the winner of this tag match next week, they’ll become the longest reigning tag team champions in WWE history as of midnight next Monday. Did Demolition win or lose the tag titles at midnight or something? New Day were at ringside to watch and were making a spectacle of themselves. [c]
After several more minutes, New Day got into a brawl with the two teams. Kofi dove over the top rope toward Sheamus and Cesaro, but they caught him and threw him into the other New Day members at ringside. The announcers said they still don’t know who the no. 1 contenders are going to be.
WINNERS: No contest.
-They showed Charlotte backstage getting ready to head to the ring to supposedly publicly apologize to her dad. [c]
-The announcers said next week’s Raw would feature a triple threat with New Day, Cesaro & Sheamus, and The Club with the tag titles on the line.
-Charlotte walked to the ring. He announced that next week on Raw, Sasha would defend against Charlotte in a 30 minute Iron Man match. Charlotte said last week it dawned on her that she made the biggest mistake of her life. She said she is ashamed of what she said and did. She said if you didn’t remember what a cold-hearted bitch of a daughter she was, she’d like to remind them. She pointed at the video wall. After a replay aired, she explained that it was difficult to watch her dad endorse Sasha like that because all she ever wanted to do was make him proud. The crowd taunted her and even chanted, “Who’s your daddy?!” Charlotte finally asked her dad to come out for what she described would be a “heartfelt apology.”
Flair walked out. Charlotte smiled. Flair looked concerned about the situation. She said she was sorry. She looked hopefully at Ric for some sense of forgiveness, then moved in and hugged him. Then after the hug, Charlotte slapped Ric hard. Then she yelled, “You son of a bitch! I’m your daughter! I’m your flesh and your blood.” She said she is his daughter and he turned his back on her. Sasha ran out to come to the aid of Ric. Charlotte knocked Sasha hard out of the ring and beat her up at ringside. Ric yelled down at her her not to do that. Flair cried as Charlotte gloated to end the show.
(Keller’s Analysis: Charlotte almost made me believe she felt bad. She has that gravitas that can serve her and the Women’s Division for years to come. Ric Flair played his usual part, which can be a little sappy and maudlin, but I think it worked here. This felt like WWE wanted to see if they could draw a strong third hour viewership number this week like they did last week for the Charlotte vs. Sasha main event. I don’t think they actually hyped this segment quite enough for everyone to have it at the forefront of their mind that this was the main segment worth staying tuned for. It served to also hype next week’s “Iron Man” match. I’m curious if we see Ric at Sasha’s side. With all of the “he should have known better” aspects of both Ric and Enzo this week, WWE has to be careful that they don’t play too many babyfaces as suckers as that can backfire if the fans seem more perceptive than the heroes and stars they’re supposed to look up to or at least pay to see. That said, who can blame Ric for being manipulated by his daughter and Enzo is a bit of goof anyway.)