5 YRS AGO – WWE RAW (12-23-13): Christmas Carol Contest, Christmas Present on a Pole, Bad Santa Damien Sandow, plus Batista vignette, Punk, Cena, Shield, Cody, Ryback, Bryan

By James Caldwell, PWTorch assistant editor


Damien Sandow art credit Grant Gould (c) PWTorch

The following article was originally published on PWTorch.com five years ago this week…


WWE Raw TV Results
December 23, 2013 – Episode #1,073
Taped 12/17 in Austin, Tex.
Aired on USA Network
Report by James Caldwell (@JCTorch), PWTorch assistant editor

The Christmas edition of WWE Raw started with a pre-tape of Mark Henry sitting down to read a WWE-themed Christmas message. It was interrupted by doom & gloom provided by “Bad Santa” Damien Sandow, who said WWE fans should be at school on Christmas. Henry rhymed that he plans to put Sandow in the Hall of Pain, but Sandow plans to defeat Henry and cancel Christmas.

In the arena, Michael Cole introduced the show from the University of Texas and JBL commented on it being Christmas in Texas. Triple H’s music then played to bring out Hunter, Stephanie McMahon, Kane, and an elf dressed in Santa hats. Kane handed out Christmas candy, then stopped at a fan wearing a Daniel Bryan t-shirt and shoved candy at him, upset by the t-shirt demonstration. Is this a seed-plant for Kane vs. Bryan? Before The Authority spoke, Cole noted that Jerry Lawler is home in Memphis sipping egg nog right now.

In the ring, Hunter somewhat-sarcastically said they like to make their employees volunteer at soup kitchens around Christmas. Stephanie also somewhat-sarcastically said they are glad to spend Christmas with their extended family here tonight. Hunter then announced tonight’s card: Evil, bad Santa (Damien Sandow) going against the jolly, good Santa (Mark Henry) with Christmas hanging in the balance. Sound effects were post-produced over the audio, then Stephanie announced Bryan & Rhodes Bros. vs. the Wyatts in a six-man tag tonight. Apparently Bryan is okay after being chucked off a ledge on Smackdown. And, in the main event, it’s Cena & Punk & Langston vs. The Shield.

Randy Orton’s music interrupted to bring out the WWE World Hvt. champion all-smiles. Orton entered the ring and held up both his WWE and World Titles before trying to quiet down boos from the crowd. Orton somewhat-sarcastically wished everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. Orton thanked Hunter and Steph for showing him support on his quest to become first-ever WWE World champion.

Orton noted he’s in a very good, giving mood right now. Which is why he decided to give The Authority a Christmas gift this year. It’s a big-ticket, one-of-a-kind item. It even comes wrapped in a golden bow. His gift is… the WWE World Hvt. champion. Steph and Hunter continued to sell gleefulness at this gift, then Orton thanked them for the night off. Orton, Hunter, and Steph hugged as Kane stood in the background approving of the gesture. Kane then closed the segment with a speech as Orton left. Hunter and Steph kissed in the ring as Kane’s pyro shot off.

Up Next: 12-Divas Jingle Bells match.

[Commercial Break at 8:10]

This Friday: Who will make the biggest impact on the final Smackdown of the year?

In-ring: The non-Total Divas, including Smackdown GM Vickie Guerrero, were in the ring back from break. Divas champion A.J. Lee was on commentary to resume her tit-for-tat with JBL as the Total Divas roster was introduced to the ring.

[Q2]

1 — TOTAL DIVAS vs. NON-TOTAL DIVAS — 12-Divas Jingle Bells tag match

A.J. explained why she is not in the match that the other Divas have to impress her in order to get a future Divas Title shot. She added that she’s wearing a Grinch t-shirt, which suggested an allegiance to Bad Santa tonight. The action broke down three minutes in. In the melee, Natalya KO’ed Aksana with a discus clothesline. A.J. remained unimpressed. So, Natalya put Aksana in the Sharpshooter for the win.

WINNERS: Natalya’s Total Divas at 3:30. Another round of A.J. vs. Natalya? Depends on whether any stock should be put into what happens on tonight’s show.

Still to come: Daniel Bryan & Rhodes Bros. vs. the Wyatts. Cole acknowledged the Wyatts throwing Bryan off a platform on Smackdown. Tonight, a bruised & battered Bryan seeks revenge.

[Commercial Break at 8:19]

In-ring: Curtis Axel, introduced by Cole as the “former IC champion,” was in the ring awaiting Sin Cara’s arrival for singles competition. No sign of Ryback backing up Axel. Earlier today, Sin Cara had a holiday greeting in an inset video. Cara a/k/a Hunico vowed to “entertain you like never before” in the next year. Cara added that he would still like to win matches, vowing to give Axel a “big L” tonight.

2 — CURTIS AXEL vs. SIN CARA

Mood lighting for Cara’s match-up, which started with Axel knocking Cara out of the ring to the floor. Cole repeated the lines about Axel having all of the tools to reach his potential as Axel rammed Cara into the ringspot. JBL name-dropped Paul Heyman for recruiting Axel, but noted that “didn’t work out.” After JBL complained about Cara wearing a mask, Cole played Mike Tenay talking up the Luchador mask and its lineage before noting JBL used to wrestle down in Mexico.

Cara answered Axel’s offense by knocking Axel to the outside before delivering a big splash on the floor. Back in the ring, Cara covered for a two count. Cara followed with a handspring elbow smash, but took a lariat to the back of the head for a nearfall. Cara came back moments later with a top-rope dive for the three count. JBL said Cara is on a roll as of late.

WINNER: Cara at 5:21.

[Q3] Smackdown Flashback: Last Friday, Cena and Punk fought The Shield in a handicap match after the Wyatts took out Daniel Bryan. The action broke down and the match was thrown out, then Roman Reigns dropped Cena with a spear. Shield followed with a triple powerbomb and wanted one for Punk, but Big E. Langston made the save.

Therefore, tonight, it’s Cena & Punk & Langston vs. The Shield in a six-man tag main event.

Pre-taped Video: Damien Sandow was sitting in his Bad Santa chair flanked by A.J. Lee and Tamina Snuka. A little girl tried to present her requests to Santa Sandow, but Sandow scared her off after claiming that Christmas will be canceled this year.

Video: A drunk-looking Big Show was shown dancing in a diaper to celebrate New Year’s as the New Year’s Baby. The voice-over man said Big Show has invited everyone to next Monday’s Raw ringing in the new year.

[Commercial Break at 8:35]

Vignette: Dave Batista is back. The video spotlighted Batista’s various body parts to remind viewers of his physique. “I’m tired of waiting. I’m back!” Batista declared in a voice-over. The video closed with a plug for Batista returning on the January 20 WWE Raw, which is the Raw before the Royal Rumble.

After the “Animal” Batista video aired, WWE cut to an exterior shot of a Texas Longhorn statue outside the Erwin Center.

Earlier Today: Wade Barrett was shown in Austin ringing a bell to try to get donations. Barrett claimed the donations are going to a good cause. Back in the arena, Cole wondered if Barrett has changed his ways.

Video Package: Bray Wyatt has recently tried to convince Bray Wyatt to join the Wyatts, but Bryan has refused his offer. “Join us, Bryan,” Bray closed.

Smackdown Flashback: Daniel Bryan showed last Friday that he wants nothing to do with the Wyatts, clearing the trio from the ring. But, because of his refusal, the Wyatts chucked Bryan off a ledge.

[Q4] In-ring: Rhodes Bros’s music played to bring out the WWE tag champions for six-man tag action. Daniel Bryan’s music then played to bring out Bryan to loud “Yes!” chants. Bryan showed no ill-effects of being chucked off a ledge, which JBL said he’s faking to make it. Cole said Bryan is not going to let the injuries show tonight. In other words, WWE taped this tag match last Tuesday, then WWE taped Bryan being chucked off a ledge on Smackdown last Wednesday.

[Commercial Break at 8:47]

Back from break, the Wyatt Family video intro “interrupted” the show. Bray Wyatt declared their arrival, then the Wyatts’s music played in the arena to bring out the trio for six-man tag action. JBL tried to comment on the proceedings, but his audio was lowered to 2. Once the entrance was over, Bray leaned back in his rocking chair and cackled at Bryan, who told him to get in the ring.

3 — DANIEL BRYAN & WWE tag champions CODY RHODES & GOLDUST vs. THE WYATTS (BRAY WYATT & ERICK ROWAN & LUKE HARPER) — six-man tag match

To make it seem like Raw is live, WWE ran a Twitter crawler with Batista comments following the announcement. On commentary, Cole hyped Batista’s return and JBL said it’s a game-changer. The commentary then returned to the match, which started with each team trading control as they felt each other. Bryan then took control for the faces by delivering signature offense to Luke Harper. Bryan then called for Bray. “Who, me?” Bray said with a smile. “Yes!” Bryan led the crowd in response.

[Commercial Break at 8:56]

Cody Rhodes was in trouble back from break.

[Q5 — second hour] Cody broke free and tagged in his brother, Goldust, who ran over Luke Harper with clotheslines before booting him in the face. Goldust lit up Harper with corner punches as Cole talked up Goldust’s big comeback year. But, Harper came back with a big boot to Goldust, knocking down the tag champ.

Now, Bray Wyatt decided to enter the ring with Goldust in trouble and Bryan forced to watch from the ring apron. Cole reset the show with news of Batista’s return, Orton having the night off, and Christmas in jeopardy tonight. JBL continued to present the show as live by introducing today’s news of Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo being out for the year with a back injury. Rowan then busted out The Claw, popping JBL and bringing up a Von Erich reference since they’re in Texas. Cole countered with a Baron Von Raschke reference.

Goldust found an opening to escape the heels and hot-tag Bryan, who ripped off signature offense as the crowd “Yes!’ed” along. Bryan dropkicked Rowan at the knee, then Yes! kicked Rowan in the chest. And one for the head for a knock-down. Bryan climbed up-top for a diving headbutt, and he connected. Bray then entered the ring and Bryan tackled him to finally get his hands on Bray. But, Bray escaped out of the ring, Bryan chased, and Rowan destroyed Bryan with a boot to Bryan’s face. The Wyatts stood over Bryan as Raw abruptly cut to a second break during the match.

[Commercial Break at 9:07]

Back from break, Bryan was now isolated in the ring after Rowan mack-trucked him on the floor before the commercial. Bray tagged in and taunted Bryan, telling him to fight back. So, Bryan did, but Bray clubbed him with strikes to cut off his “friend.” Bray dragged Bryan toward the heel corner, then tagged in Harper, who slingshot smashed Bryan “like a little guy,” as described by Cole.

At 20:00, Bryan tried to fight back against Rowan, then finally found an opening with a Tornado DDT out of the corner. Bryan hot-tagged Cody and Harper also tagged in. Cody tried to pin Harper out of the corner, but Harper kicked out. Cody then disaster-kicked Rowan off the ring apron before climbing to the top for a moonsault on Harper. Bray broke up a pin, but didn’t see Bryan coming with a top-rope missile dropkick. Bryan then smashed Bray with a suicide dive on the outside.

Chaos on the floor, with Goldust taking out Rowan after Rowan took out Bryan. Back in the ring, Cody dropped Harper with a Disaster Kick, but he didn’t see Bray tag himself in before the kick. Bray then snatched Cody and dropped him with Sister Abigail for the pin and the win.

WINNERS: Wyatts at 22:26. Heck of a six-man tag. Three really good sequences and very good enhancement of the Bryan vs. Bray feud. The side-effect is that it seems like Bryan is out of the WWE Title picture at the moment when it appeared that a three-way of Orton vs. Cena vs. Bryan was in the mix for the Rumble. Things could change when the calendar flips to 2014, but they’ve given Bryan a strong follow-up feud with Bray at the moment.

Post-match: Harper ran over Goldust with a clothesline, then Rowan smashed Bryan into the barricade. The Wyatts dragged Bryan back into the ring to isolate him, then Bray requested no physicality. Bray told Bryan that he could have given Bryan the world, but he chose not to receive it. The Wyatts’s video cut out, then cut back in to show Bray rocking in his chair while his henchmen stood over him outside the ring. JBL said Bray could have destroyed Bryan, but they chose not to. The Wyatts’s video cut out one more time to go commercial.

[Q6] [Commercial Break at 9:16]

Pre-taped Video: “Good Santa” Mark Henry was confronted by a kid who thought Christmas was canceled this year because of “Bad Santa.”

Video: WWE flashed photos of Cy Young winners Clayton Kershaw and Max Scherzer displaying their WWE Title belts last week, courtesy of WWE CEO Vince McMahon.

Announcers: Michael Cole transitioned to a “Bad News” Barrett clip from earlier in the day in Austin. JBL flashed the Hook ‘Em Horns hand signal before Cole went to the footage.

Earlier Today in Austin: Barrett continued to try to get donations for his cause. Generous passer-byers provided donations as Barrett thanked them for contributing to a “good cause.”

Comedy Sketch Attempt

In-ring: Renee Young was standing by for a Christmas Carol Singing Contest. Already in the ring were 3MB, Xavier Woods & R-Truth, and Great Khali & Santino. Xavier and Truth opened the contest by singing O Holy Night. More like Xavier sang nicely and Truth provided an echo.

Next up were Drew McIntyre and Jinder Mahal representing 3MB. They tried a duet on Jingle Bells, botched it, and drew a Jillian Hall reference from Cole. Next were Santino and Great Khali singing Deck the Halls. Santino tried to sing seriously, while Khali shouted “Fa la la la” over and over again.

Renee Young polled the crowd on who won, which drew a tie for XavierTruth and SantinoKhali. But, Renee declared Santino & Khali the winners. So, 3MB jumped the winners from behind, but they overlooked the presence of another babyface team already in the ring, making it easy for Xavier & Truth to clear the heels. Santino, Xavier, Truth, and Khali then sang out the segment together while Cameron and Naomi celebrated.

Backstage: Dolph Ziggler and Fandango (with Summer Rae) were shown walking down the hallway on a split-screen. They’re in action next.

[Q7] [Commercial Break at 9:30]

In-ring: Fandango and Summer Rae were mid-entrance as Cole listed Fandango’s Christmas List. Cole name-dropped the disappearing Raw GM Brad Maddox as Cole hyped this match involving pole-climbing to find a present. Dolph Ziggler was out next to face Fandango.

4 — DOLPH ZIGGLER vs. FANDANGO (w/Summer Rae) — Christmas Present on a Pole match

Once both men were in the ring, Justin Roberts gave a formal ring introduction, including announcing that the present is an IC Title shot next week on Raw. Ziggler tried to get the present early on, but Summer encouraged Fandango to knock down Ziggler just in time. Another Jillian Hall reference by the commentators as Fandango slowed down the pace.

Ziggler came back with a Fameasser, giving him an opening to climb the pole and win. But, Summer Rae pounded the mat to wake up Fandango, who then frantically dove at the pole, awkwardly knocking both men to the outside.

Back in the ring, Fandango got his hands on the present, but Ziggler fought him off. Fandango responded with a kick to the face that hung Ziggler out to dry. Fandango then climbed onto Ziggler’s back and tried to grab the present, but Ziggler crotched him just in time. Next, Ziggler got his fingertips on the present, but Fandango cut him off again before ramming him head-first into the pole, sending Ziggler crashing to the floor. Fandango then reached up and grabbed the present to win.

WINNER: Fandango at 4:44 to earn an IC Title shot against Big E. Langston next Monday on Raw.

Still to come: Cena & Punk & Langston vs. The Shield in a six-man tag main event.

[Commercial Break at 9:40]

[Q8] In-ring: Prime Time Players were in the ring. Darren Young wanted to talk, but then showed why he shouldn’t talk by shouting out to Houston (instead of Austin). Titus O’Neil tried to cover for Young, then gave him the mic again, drawing boos. So, Titus took the mic back and said they have a Christmas wish for a Tag Title shot and to do their Millions of Dollars dance. JBL said they sure would like a Tag Title shot “in Houston or Austin or Dallas or somewhere.” The Usos then came out as the opposition to the Players, setting up an odd face vs. face tag team match-up.

5 — PRIME TIME PLAYERS (TITUS O’NEIL & DARREN YOUNG) vs. THE USOS

D-Young tagged in early on, drawing a “This is Austin” chant. So, apparently the Players are the heels in this match due to the wrong city shout-out. Uso then worked on D-Young, telling him “This is Austin” in-between holds. Cole and JBL talked Texas football, prompting Cole to explain to the viewers what they were talking about. Uso continued to incorporate “Austin” into his offensive moveset before delivering a corner butt bomb to D-Young.

Titus broke up a pin attempt, but was clotheslined to the floor for his trouble. D-Young then took a superkick before “Rudolf the Rednose” Uso delivered a top-rope splash after JBL incorrectly guessed that the red nose was for Bozo the Clown. The Usos celebrated the win before Titus entered the ring to check on his tag partner. Post-match: The music stopped, then The Usos called for Players’s music for a four-man Millions of Dollars dance.

WINNERS: Usos at 4:52.

Up Next: Good Santa vs. Bad Santa. On a split-screen, Mark Henry and Damien Sandow were shown walking down the hallway with positive, bright lighting behind Henry and negative, dark lighting behind Sandow. It’s the top-of-the-hour match…

[Commercial Break at 9:52]

Back in the arena, Cole claimed it’s snowing in Austin. Mark Henry then came out representing Good Santa and the Texas Longhorns. Damien Sandow was out next representing Bad Santa. “Ho ho ho, Christmas is canceled!” Sandow declared on the way to the ring. Once in the ring, Sandow tossed some coal toward ref Mike Chioda.

6 — MARK HENRY vs. DAMIEN SANDOW

Henry quickly knocked down Sandow, then unwrapped a present in the ring. It was a perfectly-fine toilet, representing McMahon’s brand of humor. Henry then gave Sandow a swirlie before Sandow rolled out of the ring. Sandow failed in his attempt to use a fire extinguisher, so Henry demonstrated before spraying Sandow with the contents.

[Q9 — third hour On-stage, Sandow retrieved a loaded candy cane and blasted Henry with it before using the cane to bash some prop presents. Henry smashed the stick after ripping it away from Sandow, sending Sandow rolling down the entrance ramp. Henry then shoved Sandow into a Christmas Tree as Cole reluctantly reset the show as this match unfolded.

Back in the ring, Sandow picked up the fire extinguisher and tried to spray Henry again, but Sandow failed again. So, Henry kicked him in the gut and sprayed Sandow in the face. Henry followed with World’s Strongest Slam, which Cole called the Sleigh ride for one night. Henry pinned Sandow for the win to “save Christmas,” overcoming the stacked deck.

Post-match: Henry took a present for himself, prompting JBL to cut a promo on Santa stealing presents. Henry opened another present, which contained a plate of Christmas cupcakes. Henry took a bite of one, then shoved the entire pan of cupcakes in Sandow’s face. Cole congratulated Henry for saving Christmas before Henry left the ring to applause.

WINNER: Henry at 3:17.

Backstage: Renee Young brought in C.M. Punk to discuss facing The Shield again tonight. This time around, Punk has a plan. So, he did something he’s never done – he asked for help. Punk said he had to do something drastic and actually asked Santa for help by delivering two tag partners against The Shield. Wait, so, Punk beat Shield by himself at TLC and now he needs help to beat Shield again? Wouldn’t his character just follow the same solo gameplan used at TLC?

In any event, Punk brought out Big E. Langston first. Langston said he’s handing out beatings this season. Next was John Cena, who hyped up his tag partners in classic Cena fashion. Cena said he even found Shield’s Christmas list, which said they need to have their teeth kicked in, their Attitudes Adjusted, and to Go To Sleep. Cena, Langston, and Punk met fists in the center to signal their allegiance heading to break.

[Commercial Break at 10:06]

Back from break, Real Americans’s music was playing. In the ring, Zeb Colter spoke to the crowd about Santa Claus technically being an illegal immigrant. “Yeah!” Jack Swagger echoed as Antonio Cesaro backed up Zeb. Colter said the difference between Santa and other illegal immigrants is Santa comes for one night, then leaves. Zeb asked the audience and “Real Americans everywhere” to rise and proclaim, “We the People.”

Some joined in, then Los Matadores made their return to Raw TV. Diego and Fernando came out on-stage for their full ring entrance, complete with El Torito charging through their capes on-stage. El Torito was dressed in an alternative uniform apparently designed by Nikie representing a White Christmas. Cole called him an “albino bull.”

7 — REAL AMERICANS (JACK SWAGGER & ANTONIO CESARO w/Zeb Colter) vs. LOS MATADORES (DIEGO & FERNANDO w/El Torito)

The crowd started with an “OU sucks” chant for Swagger as Cole recapped the Texas vs. Oklahoma feud. Cesaro controlled the action, then Los Matadores did a switcheroo on the outside. They tried a pin, but Swagger broke it up. Chaos on the outside, including El Torito goring Cesaro on the outside, then the Matador formerly known as Primo pinned Swagger with a top-rope splash back in the ring.

WINNERS: Los Matadores at 3:21. Real Americans were starting to get some momentum, but now they’re back to comedy fodder for Los Matadores. If this week’s show counts for something.

[Q10] Smackdown Flashback: The Shield fought C.M. Punk and John Cena in a handicap match on Friday night. Shield got themselved DQ’ed, then took out Cena via triple powerbomb. But, Langston saved Punk from similar disaster. Tonight, it’s a six-man tag with Langston added to Cena and Punk’s team.

In-ring: Kofi Kingston was introduced for the next match. He faces “the bully,” Ryback,” next.

[Commercial Break at 10:20]

Batista Video: WWE re-aired the hype video for Batista’s return on the January 20 Raw before the Rumble. Of note, audio from Jim Ross’s calls of Batista in action was included.

From Batista to Ryback, Ryback came to the ring as Kofi Kingston’s opponent.

8 — RYBACK vs. KOFI KINGSTON

Kofi knocked Ryback to the outside early on, then tried a flip-dive that caught about 15 percent Ryback and 85 percent ring floor padding. Kofi celebrated the move, then the ringside crowd greeted Ryback with “Goldberg” chants. Back in the ring, Ryback took over with a hard corner whip that rocked Kofi. JBL inserted a plug for Shawn Michaels’s hunting show as Ryback slowed down the pace with a bearhug.

Ryback transitioned to an attempted Jackhammer as Cole read a tweet from Batista that playtime is over for the children in WWE. Apparently they’re incorporating Batista’s disdain for the PG product into his return. Back in the ring, Kofi made a comeback with signature offense, including the Boom Drop. Kofi tried to follow with the Boom Drop, but Ryback avoided. Kofi followed up with a springboard cross-body block, though, causing Ryback to grunt and make audible breath-catching noises.

[Q11] Kofi tried to follow up with corner punches, but Ryback face-planted Kofi on the top turnbuckle. Ryback followed with a Meathook Clothesline before sarcastically wishing Kofi “Happy Holidays.” Ryback followed with Shellshock, ending Kofi’s night.

WINNER: Ryback at 5:46. Just another match on a three-hour show that has come to a screeching halt since the six-man tag.

Still to come: Cena & Punk & Langston vs. The Shield in a six-man tag.

On the way to break, WWE aired a “Don’t Try This At Home” P.S.A. spot.

[Commercial Break at 10:32]

Last Week: Vince McMahon led a group of stars to Afghanistan to visit U.S. military overseas. Cole said more footage will be included in the “Tribute to the Troops” special airing this Saturday on NBC.

Ringside: Wade Barrett was shown ringside. Barrett smiled as he announced his collection from citizens of this fine city. He then got serious as he pounded his gavel. Barrett growled that he has some bad news. Because he’s not actually affiliated with any charities, so this money is going home with him. Cole held his head to sell anger over Barrett pulling the con. Barrett proclaimed that it will be a very good Christmas at the Barrett Household. Cole called him a scrooge. Apparently no legal claim will be made against Barrett for impersonating a charity to collect money, and they move on…

Video Replay: Last Monday on Raw, C.M. Punk lost to The Shield with The Usos as his tag partners. So, tonight, Punk has decided to try the tag team route again to beat Shield despite beating Shield by himself last Sunday at TLC.

Backstage: The Shield addressed C.M. Punk, asking why he’s all of a sudden chummy with Cena. And, Roman Reigns noted his eyes are now on IC champion Big E. Langston.

[Commercial Break at 10:40]

New Year’s Raw plug: Big Show, dancing in a diaper, welcomes everyone to next week’s Raw. On commentary, Cole tried to own it by saying that was “so disturbing.”

[Q12] In-ring: C.M. Punk was introduced to the ring first for the main event. IC champion Big E. Langston came out next to follow up on his main event inclusion. JBL called it a “meteoric rise.” John Cena was introduced next. Cena bounced to the ring and completed his usual ring entrance in front of a mainly pro-Cena crowd.

The Shield’s music then played to bring out the heel trio through the crowd. U.S. champ Dean Ambrose led the group to ringside, then the opening bell sounded.

9 — JOHN CENA & C.M. PUNK & IC champ BIG E. LANGSTON vs. THE SHIELD (U.S. champion DEAN AMBROSE & SETH ROLLINS & ROMAN REIGNS) — six-man tag match

Cena started the match for the face trio, so the crowd picked up an early “Let’s Go Cena / Cena Sucks” ritualistic dueling chant. Cena wanted an early Five Knuckle Shuffle on Rollins, but Rollins easily rolled out of the ring. Rollins pounded the mat in frustration, then Ambrose and Reigns tried to calm him down. Back in the ring, Rollins geared up to fight Cena, but opted to tag in Reigns.

Reigns slowly entered the ring to stare down at Cena. Reigns shoved Cena, so Cena shoved back. Cole called this an interesting match-up as Reigns landed the first blow with a Samoan Drop. Reigns then dominated Cena in the heel corner before tagging in Rollins as Raw cut to break.

[Commercial Break at 10:51]

Back from break, The Shield continued to work on Cena. Cena finally broke free and tagged in Punk just before Ambrose could cut him off. Punk smashed Ambrose to the outside, then delivered a suicide dive. Back in the ring, Punk gave Ambrose a corner knee. But, Rollins provided a distraction that allowed Ambrose to bump Punk off the ring apron to the floor.

On the outside, Ambrose suplexed Punk onto his back. Ambrose then rolled Punk back into the ring for the heels to begin working on Punk.

[Q13 — over-run] The heels continued to wear down Punk heading to the top of the hour. During the reset, Cole relayed “news” that Christmas will not be canceled after “Good Santa” beat “Bad Santa” on Raw tonight. Cole re-hyped Batista returning next month as The Shield continued to wear down Punk. Punk broke free with a back-drop suplex, but Ambrose cut off Cena from receiving a tag from Punk.

The Shield regained control on Punk as Ambrose mocked Langston, but they took too much time gloating. This allowed Punk to break free and make a desperation tag to Langston as Reigns tagged in Rollins. So, it’s Langston and Rollins legal. Langston overpowered Rollins, then press-slammed Ambrose onto Rollins. Langston followed with a big double splash before dropping the straps. Langston tried the Big Ending on Ambrose, who tagged in behind Langston’s back, but Rollins kicked him in the head. Ambrose covered, but Cena broke up the pin just in time.

Cena then tried an AA on Rollins, but Reigns came out of nowhere with a big spear to Cena. Punk then cleared Reigns, but Ambrose cleared Reigns. They came back to Langston and Ambrose, who walked right into the Big Ending. But, Reigns and Rollins assaulted Langston during the pin, causing the ref to throw out the match.

WINNERS: Team Punk via DQ at 16:01. WWE protected Langston in this match, saving him for the ending sequence after Cena and Punk did the heavy lifting selling for the heels. It’s a smart move easing Langston into these big spots while he still develops in the ring. Overall, a bit repetitive following the Team Bryan vs. Wyatts six-man tag, but a solid Raw main event.

Post-match: Shield beat down Langston, but Punk and Cena made the save. Cena then fulfilled the babyface’s earlier promise to deliver their finishes to The Shield, sending the heels rolling out of the ring in pain. Cena’s music played as the faces celebrated in the ring, then Cult of Personality played. Then, Big E.’s theme song. JBL welcomed Langston to the “deep end” where the big boys play in WWE. Cole thanked everyone for watching the Christmas Raw, said, “God Bless,” and plugged next Monday’s New Year’s theme Raw. Raw signed off six minutes past the top of the hour.

FINAL THOUGHTS: A chunk of the show was skippable and there were no real storyline developments on a pre-taped, holiday-themed episode. At least the show didn’t feel completely over-done in post-production, which is typical for a taped Raw, with the announcers being produced to sound real-time. Not a bad show, but a lot of filler and hit-or-miss comedy bits on a three-hour show.


RELATED: 5 YRS AGO – WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT (12-3-13): Tamina vs. Natalya, Shield, Punk vs. Ambrose, Orton vs. Bryan, Fandango vs. Big E, plus Mysterio

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