KELLER’S WWE RAW REPORT
DECEMBER 12, 2016
AIRED LIVE ON USA NETWORK
Announcers: Michael Cole, Byron Saxton, Corey Graves
-The New Day came out to their music. Big E said tonight they join the immortals. Kofi Kingston said they have a chance to break a record that has stood for over 25 years. Xavier Woods said they have a chance to propel not only themselves, but anyone who has ever worn a New Day t-shirt or chanted “New Day Rocks!” and everyone who has ever supported them whether they are still with them today or if they have passed. “Tonight is for you, grandma,” he said. Big E patted him on the shoulder. Xavier welled up a bit. The crowd started a brief “Grandma!” chant. Xavier said the last thing that stands in their way is one last Triple Threat tag team match.
They touted themselves. Kofi said Xavier is “the brains, the wisdom.” Kofi said he’s real smooth with style and finesse, “not to mention really handsome” Big E said: “And me – I’m the big, thick, meaty third leg.” Xavier said in a Triple Threat match, they have two tag teams vying to become “your WWE World Tag Team Champions!” They sang and gyrated as they said it. They cut to a crowd of adoring fans smiling and chanting along. Then they called for their opponents to come on out.
First out were Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows. Then Sheamus & Cesaro.
(1) NEW DAY vs. LUKE GALLOWS & KARL ANDERSON vs. CESARO & SHEAMUS – WWE World Tag Team Championship match
In the early minutes, it was Cesaro vs. Kofi and Sheamus vs. Kofi. At 2:30 Anderson blind-tagged Sheamus to enter the ring. Cole said a lot of people he talked to today felt Anderson & Gallows were favorites tonight because New Day lose the champions’ advantage in a Triple Threat match. Gallows tagged in and scored a near fall on Kofi at 4:00. They cut to a break. [c]
Cesaro gave Anderson a Giant Swing and then a sharpshooter mid-ring 11:00. Big E broke it up and went for a belly-to-belly. Cesaro turned it into a huracanrana. Cesaro clotheslined Big E over the top rope. Sheamus tagged in. They gave Anderson a double-team Brogue kick. Kofi caught Sheamus with Trouble in Paradise and scored the three count. The pin felt like it came as a surprise to everyone. Cole exclaimed that New Day made history as the longest-reigning tag team champions ever. But it’s not Midnight yet, and they’ve stressed the record doesn’t get set until Midnight.
WINNERS: New Day at 11:48 to retain the WWE World Tag Team Titles.
(Keller’s Analysis: This had the same feel as the Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte match that took place early on Raw. It just felt “too early and too short” to live up to the stature of the match, so it seemed clear there was a “catch” New Day celebrating yet.)
-They showed a gathering of people backstage ready to party with New Day with Booty Os and Champaign. Byron said Bob Backlund was back there in the crowd.
-Cole announced that Seth Rollins would host The Rollins Report with his guest Kevin Owens. Then they went to the announcers on camera. Cole touted WWE had just surpassed 7,000 hours of original programming. Saxton said it’s every WWE pay-per-view, every WCW Nitro, every ECW show, and over 1,225 episodes of Raw. Graves said if you watched 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, it’d take a year to watch everything. Cole said if you watched one hour a day, it’d take over 20 years to watch everything. They pushed the free month sign-up offer. [c]
-They showed a graphic of Lana and Rusev. Graves said they’d be revealing what really happened behind closed doors later tonight.
-They went back to the New Day party. Mick Foley, Stephanie McMahon, the Vaudevillians, Bayley, Darren Young, Backlund, and many others were among the partiers. Steph toasted New Day and did their dance. Xavier sprayed her with Champaign. She wasn’t happy. The music stopped and everybody froze as Steph clearly was upset. She knocked a huge bowl of popcorn out of Big E’s hands and stormed away.
(Keller’s Analysis: WWE still doesn’t get that having all of the wrestlers freeze and cower at the notion that Stephanie might be upset undercuts the ideas that there are outlaw badass wrestlers worthy of looking up to and paying to see.)
-A video package aired on the Sami Zayn-Braun Strowman saga including Sami demanding Foley give him the match he wants. Cole read a Tweet of Sami saying he wants a match with Braun “or else.”
-Braun Strowman made his ring entrance. [c]
-A commercial hyped that A.J. Styles vs. James Ellsworth will take place on Smackdown as scheduled.
-A soaked Stephanie yelled at someone to get her fresh clothes. Owens walked in and said New Day don’t deserve to be champions after that. He said they deserve to be taught a lesson they’ll never forget. Steph told him to spit it out if he wants a favor. Owens said he had an idea to run by her. She said sit tight as she gets cleaned up.
(2) BRAUN STROWMAN vs. CURTIS AXEL
Squash match. Graves said it’ll take a miracle to stop him.
WINNER: Strowman in 1:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Where would Braun be today if he hadn’t won so many squash matches? I’d like to see WWE apply this approach not just to monster heels, but give wrestlers in need of a little boost or a recharge to get a decisive quick win on TV now and again. Sami Zayn, for instance would have benefited from concurrently also getting a handful of solid one-sided wins against inferior competition.)
-Saxton interviewed Braun in the ring afterward. Braun told Saxton to congratulate him on his victory and then ask him questions. Saxton did so. Santon sheepishly asked if he had a response to Sami saying he wants a match with him or else. Strowman said Foley is protecting Sami, as he should, because Sami can’t last two minutes with him – nor can anyone else.
-They showed Foley watching backstage. Sami walked up to Foley and said he won’t let Braun talk to him like that. Foley said he can’t give Sami the match. Sami said he has the power to do it, but he won’t, because he feels he needs to save him, but he doesn’t need to be saved. He said nobody needed to save Mick, and where would he be today if someone had stepped in. Foley said sometimes he wishes someone had stepped in to save him.
Foley said if he goes head-to-head with Strowman, it will be the end of his career. Sami said: “What you’re telling me is you don’t think you can do it. What more needs to be said? My childhood hero and my boss doesn’t believe in me. If you don’t want to give me the opportunities that I rightfully deserve on Raw, maybe I don’t need to be on Raw any longer.” The crowd cheered. Foley asked if that’s what he really wants. Foley said out of respect for him, he’ll call Daniel Bryan and work on a trade. Sami nodded and walked away. [c]
-A clip aired of Jack Gallagher beating Ariya Daivari last week, but Daivari attacking Gallagher’s knee afterward. Cole noted that Daivari beat Gallagher the next night on “205 Live” thanks to Gallagher’s weakened knee. Cole referred to “205 Live” as “the most exciting hour on television.”
(3) ARIYA DAIVARI vs. LINCE DORADO
Graves said he respected what Daivari did to Gallagher last week because it was a great career move by making a statement and capitalizing on it. No voice expressed dissent with Graves’ point of view. Saxton just said it’s a sign of the times in the Cruiserweight Division and every Superstar is “raising his game to get noticed.” When Saxton said Dorado was a seventh grade math teacher, Graves asked if he wore the mask. Daivari hit Dorado hard with a clothesline. Suddenly, he was interrupted by Gallagher, who walked out onto the stage in red and brown striped trunks. He said as a gentleman, he was announcing his intention of interfering in the match. He said he doesn’t usually endorse unsportsmanlike behavior, but Daivari is a scoundrel. The crowd chanted “Scoundrel!” at him. Daivari leaped out of the ring and fought with Gallagher. The ref promptly called for the bell.
WINNER: No contest at 2:40.
-Daivari and Gallagher fought into the ring. Gallagher dropkicked Daivari off the ring apron and then celebrated to his music and struck a fighting pose.
(Keller’s Analysis: Gallagher is a real standout personality in the Cruiserweight Division, and fortunatley he’s also pretty special in the ring, too. WWE needs to make sure they establish that he’s a killer in the ring, even if he does have an outlandish personality that could cause some to underestimate him.) [c]
-A clip aired of Steve Austin singing to Vince McMahon while strumming his guitar. Cole said, “That just doesn’t get old, does it?”
-Seth Rollins came out to his music to host The Rollins Report. Seth reasserted that he wants Triple H. He said his path to redemption leads to Triple H, but goes through Kevin Owens and the Universal Championship. He said he can’t isolate Owens until he gets rid of his “maybe best friend, Chris Jericho.” He said he has that chance on Sunday, but he wants to find out if he’ll be facing Jericho or Jericho & Owens.
Owens walked out onto the stage, mic in hand, Universal Title belt over his shoulder. He then turned and left. Cole said this is big news as Owens just walked out on the interview. Then he returned and brought out a stool. He sat on the stool on the stage. Seth said he had a padded stool in the ring for him. He wondered if he even knew how to get to the ring without Jericho holding his hand. Owens asked if he actually thought he’d come down there. He said he doesn’t care about his stupid Rollins Report. He said he came out there because he has an announcement to make. He said he has been talking to Stephanie. Seth interrupted and said everyone wants to know about their friendship. Owens said none of that is his business, but Jericho will have his back on Sunday, just as he’ll have Jericho’s back in his match against him. Owens threatened to break Seth’s face if he interrupts him again. Seth dared him. Owens said after talking to Stephanie and after what New Day pulled, Steph has decided to put them in another tag team title match tonight against him & Jericho. Some cheers.
Jericho’s music kicked in as Owens was still talking. Cole called it blockbuster news. Cole said that means New Day hasn’t made history yet. Jericho walked out with his List. He asked Owens if he’s thinking straight. Owens tried to sell Jericho on the idea of adding the tag team belts to their trophy case. When Jericho remained hesitant, Owens grew impatient and said the match is going to happen, so he might as well get on board. Seth noted the tension. Jericho called him a “stupid idiot.” Fan spopped. Seth asked if he was going to put him on The List. Jericho said, “Yes, the disabled list.” Jericho headed to the ring. Owens caught up with him. Jericho nodded in support of Owens being by his side. They charged to the ring together and beat up Seth. Eventually Reigns’s music played. He got a mixed reaction. Reigns ran to the ring. Owens swung a chair. Reigns ducked and slugged Owens and Jericho with punches. Seth popped up and together with Reigns, they beat up the heels. When Seth set up a Pedigree on Jericho, Owens yanked him to safety.
-Cole hyped a special look at the Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte “30 Minute Iron Man Match” coming up Sunday. [c]
-A clip aired of T.J. Perkins and Brian Kendrick getting into it on “205 Live” last week. Kendrick then interrupted a backstage interview with Swann. Then T.J. Perkins entered, too, and asked Kendrick if he is asking Perkins to let him win. Swann said he’s saying Perkins is a traitor who will stab him in his back because all he cares about is his Cruiserweight Championship. Perkins said he will do what it takes, and he can show Kendrick right now what that means.
(4) T.J. PERKINS vs. BRIAN KENDRICK
They cut to a break at 2:00. [c]
Kendrick won with Sliced Bread #2. Cole said that might have shed Perkins’s confidence going into Sunday.
WINNER: Kendrick at 8:35.
-The camera was focused on Seth and Reigns walking side-by-side backstage. They happened upon Foley who said they remind him a brash young tag team who ran wild in WWE en route to tag team championships. Reigns said his one focus is Owens and his U.S. Title. Seth said his focus is Triple H and Jericho. Foley said he’s there to talk about tonight. He said he is making tonight’s main event a Triple Threat as they’ve been added to the tag team title match. Reigns and Seth turned and looked at each other. [c]
-Cole threw to a video package on Sasha Bank and Charlotte.
-They showed Bayley backstage heading to the entrance stage, hugging people on her way. [c]
(5) BAYLEY vs. ALICIA FOX
WINNER: Bayley at 2:40.
-The announcers on camera hyped WWE Network and Roadblock. [c]
-Lana stood mid-ring and introduced Rusev. As Rusev came out, Graves complimented Reigns for standing up for his woman they way he did. Cole said they suckered Enzo Amore. As Rusev marched to the ring, Saxton plugged Toys R Us because this angle and Toys R Us goes together. Rusev said, “Enough with USA!” He said since he arrived in WWE, he has destroyed all of their American heroes one by one. He said last week was different because he took out “an American trash.” He said the “G” in “Certified G” stands for “garbage.” They cut to a bunch of kids in the crowd because this angle and kids go well together. He smiled and said after he threw Enzo into the hallway, he and Lana did their business. We never saw the camera guy who was in there leave. He asked the crowd if they’d like to see what he is talking about. Graves said he’d love to. Rusev said he must warn them that the footage is a little bit edgy. Lana told the children to close their eyes. “Are you ready to see what we do behind closed doors?” she asked. Saxton said he didn’t want to see this. Graves said Saxton’s parents wouldn’t let him see “Finding Nemo.” In the final minute of the second hour, they cut to Enzo taking off his pants as Lana massaged his back, only to have Rusev attack him.
[HOUR THREE] Back live, Lana and Rusev were laughing at the footage. She said that warms her heart. She then suddenly asked the crowd if they thought they were actually going to show them what they do behind closed doors. Graves said, “Saxton, you dummy.” She said they’re all so gullible, just like Enzo “who actually thought he had a shot with me. He is delusional and pathetic.” Rusev said his wife is the most beautiful and smartest. He said she concocted the plan to corner the mouse and when the time was right, he destroyed him.
Enzo and Cass’s music played. Out walked Cass. He told Rusev that last week he gave Enzo a beating of a lifetime and he’s now at home recovering, with ice all over his body. He said Enzo likes to run his mouth, but at least he’s got the balls to back it up. “Last week you caught him with his pants down, but as of tonight, this isn’t a hotel room. My pants are on. And me, I’m not Enzo.” He charged into the ring. Rusev jumped him. Cass came back with forearms. Rusev tackled Cass. Cass rolled over and mounted Rusev. They tumbled to the floor and brawled out there. Not a ton of crowd heat for this. Maybe because Cass is defending someone who tried to sleep with someone else’s wife? Rusev and Lana retreated as Cass huffed and puffed in the ring.
(Keller’s Analysis: Not a huge pop for Cass. I wonder if it’s because he’s standing up for a guy who tried to sleep with his opponent’s wife? Maybe fans think that’s not admirable or heroic?)
-In the locker room, Owens complained to Jericho about Foley adding Seth & Reigns to the match. He said they’d still win. “It’s you and me against The World, man,” said Owens. “Just like it’s always going to be. You and me.” Jericho stood up and said, “Just like it’s always going to be?” Jericho asked him to concentrate on winning the tag team titles tonight and start there.
-They showed Sami backstage. Cole wondered if he’d be traded. [c]
-A vignette aired for the new Emmalina with bikini shots. It said, “Premiering Soon.” Graves said, “One of the most beautiful women in the world, she’ll show up when she’s ready.” He was addressing the fact that last week the graphic said she’d debut this week.
(5) JINDER MAHAL vs. SAMI ZAYN
Graves acted like it was a betrayal to Raw for Zayn to ask for a trade. Zayn won with the Helluva Kick.
WINNER: Zayn at 3:25.
(Keller’s Analysis: Was it a rib or a callback to have Zayn beat Mahal, since Mahal was the last wrestler to face Jack Swagger before he was traded to Smackdown?)
-Foley headed to the ring as the cut to a break. [c]
-Foley told Sami that he just got off the phone with Daniel Bryan. Bryan agreed, after much negotiations, that they’d trade Sami to Smackdown for “a talent of equal value.” He said all he has to do is sign the paperwork. He said, “This is, after all, what you want, is it not?” Sami said that depends on his answer to this question: Would he give him the match against Strowman. Foley said he knows deep down he doesn’t actually want the match, so the answer is no. Sami said he’d sign whatever he wanted him to sign. Foley said he can now be a big fish in a small pond. A few “oooohs.”
Foley asked him if he wanted to know what the talent of equal value is that he’s being traded for. “Aren’t you kind of interested to know?” he asked. Foley said they’ve agreed to trade him straight up for Eva Marie. Graves was thrilled and exclaimed “Yes!” Sami looked insulted, almost emotionally distraught at such an insult. Sami yelled, “I’m worth 1,000 Eva Maries and it blows my mind that you don’t get me. You used to be me!” He said people told Foley he couldn’t do it, but he chose to take the risk, and now he’s treating him like he’s made of glass. Sami said he wants Strowman. Foley said he doesn’t want him. Sami got in Mick’s face and yelled, “Give him to me!!”
Foley said he wants him to remember this moment in time and how angry he feels and how bitter he feels and bottle it and duplicate it on Sunday night because he’d need every bit of it. Foley showed Sami a blank sheet of paper and said there was no trade and he wouldn’t trade him for anyone. “I believe in you and always have,” he said. He just had to find out if a guy as nice as him and a class act could get angry and mean and nasty and bitter enough to survive a monster like Strowman, and the answer he gave him tonight is a resounding yes. He said this Sunday night he has ten minutes in the ring with Braun and he can prove him wrong that he can’t last ten minutes with him, and prove everyone else wrong who has doubted him. Graves said, “Be careful what you wish for.”
(Keller’s Analysis: This was a long road to take, but they ended up at a place where they can put Strowman against stronger competition higher up the card in Sami, but not sacrifice Sami by having him job decisively nor have Braun lose before he gets to someone higher up the card nor do another copout finish of some type. Let’s see what happens in their ten minute challenge match, but this seems like a clever way to have their cake and eat it too.) [c]
-A video recap aired of John Cena on SNL.
-They announced Big Cass vs. Rusev as the match on the Kickoff Show. All of that for a prelim match before the PPV starts?
-A recap aired of the events earlier in the night with New Day spraying Stephanie at their party.
-Ring entrances and ring introductions took place. [cJ
(7) XAVIER WOODS & BIG E (w/Kofi Kingston) vs. CHRIS JERICHO & KEVIN OWENS vs. ROMAN REIGNS & SETH ROLLINS – Triple Threat for the WWE Tag Team Titles
They cut to an early break. [c]
Big E gave Jericho three belly-t0-belly suplexes and then his running splash. Seth distracted Big E and then pulled down the top rope, so Big E tumbled to the floor. Seth then did a running dive onto Jericho at ringside. Reigns landed a powerbomb for a near fall. They went into a series of other big moves and near fall. It settled into Xavier vs. Jericho, with Jericho applying the Walls of Jericho.
[OVERRUN] -Xavier powered out and small packaged Jericho for a near fall. Jericho hit a Code Breaker. Seth shoved Owens into Jericho to break up the pin. The announcers touted Seth’s strategy. Owens tried to explain to Jericho what happened as the crowd chanted “This is awesome!” Jericho slapped Owens. Owens tried to calm him down. Seth kicked Jericho into Owens, knocking him to ringside. Seth hit a Pedigree on Jericho. Xavier then draped his arm over Jericho’s chest and they got a passive pin for the victory.
WINNERS: New Day at 20:20 to retain the WWE Tag Team Titles again.
-Owens yelled at Jericho afterward and asked if he was blind. Jericho said they’re done. Owens said, “Please listen!” Jericho said, “This is over” and left. Fans booed. They want to see them stay together, or they thought Jericho was being unreasonable. Reigns watched this play out. Owens turned and Reigns surprised him with a spear. Reigns picked up his U.S. Title and the Universal Title and held them both up as his music played and the fans booed. There will be a lot of sound editing on Tribute to the Troops if that’s the response he gets later in the night from the same fans.
(Keller’s Analysis: I don’t get the booking of Jericho being the unreasonable one as he seems to be otherwise framed as the person in the duo destined to be the babyface once they break up.)
FINAL THOUGHTS: The focus on New Day on the final Smackdown before a PPV shows that it’s the WWE Network era and not an era where they need to actually sell viewers on buying a PPV out of pocket. That Vince McMahon doesn’t trust Reigns to cut a “go home” promo to rally his fans behind him for a big title opportunity and instead just has him hold up the belt he aims to win says something.