PWTorch editor Wade Keller presents a special Thursday Flagship edition of the Wade Keller Pro Wrestling Podcast featuring a WrestleMania 36 Preview with ex-WWE Creative Team member and professional stand-up comedian Matt McCarthy.
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KELLER’S WWE RAW REPORT
DECEMBER 9, 2019
AIRED ON USA NETWORK
Announcers: Vic Joseph, Jerry Lawler, Samoa Joe
-The Raw opening theme aired. Joseph introduced the show.
-Jerry Lawler stood mid-ring in front of a table and two chairs. He said he had hoped he could negotiate a reconciliation between them, and he showed off his shirt that says, “King of Love.” He said he’s afraid he learned it’s at a point of no return for Lana and Rusev. He said unfortunately he now here to preside over a divorce proceeding. He introduced Lana first. She walked out with her lawyer. They went to Joseph and Samoa Joe on camera briefly as they talked about what was happening.
Lana looked excited to be there and strutted around in her short tight dress. Fans began chanting “Rusev Day!” Lawler said Lana has waived the distance provision in the temporary restraining order, but he otherwise must caution Rusev that all other provisions will be enforced. He then introduced Rusev. Rusev walked out with a broad smile and a Donald Duck t-shirt under his suit coat. Joe said it looks like a weight has been lifted off his shoulders and he has a pep in his step.
Rusev and Lana sat down. Rusev clapped and waved to the fans before sitting. He offered a handshake to Lana. She glared at him. More “Rusev Day!” chants. As Lana began to talk, Rusev interrupted and said, “Hello everybody!” She told him not to interrupt her. Rusev said she wasn’t even talking. She said she wants him to know that she used to love him so much. She said when the fans hated him and called him stupid, ugly, fat, and bad at wrestling, she loved him over everyone. She said when he became rich and famous and successful, it went to his head. She said she’s a smart, intelligent woman, and she knows that it wasn’t just Rusev’s fault their marriage failed, it’s also the fault of the WWE fans. He told her to calm down. She said if he violates the restraining order, he will go to jail for a very long, long, long time.
Rusev said he’s the one who needs protection these days. He threw to a video package on the big screen showing Lashley and Lana being arrested last week. Back live, Rusev was leaning back in his chair smiling. Lana called him a selfish monster. She said she’s the most ravishing woman in the world and no one will love him again like she used to. She sounded very annoying on purpose when she said he’ll never find anyone again like her. Rusev said he can barely stand her, so why would he want another one like her. She screeched that he’s selfish. She went into Vickie Guerrero territory in being over-the-top grating in her screeching. Rusev said this is getting ridiculous, so it’s time to sign the divorce papers.
Rusev happily tried to sign first. She yanked the contract away from him and said she’s going to be first. He said that’s a window into his life at home, as she always has to be first. She told fans to stop booing her. Fans booed louder. She said she is keeping the dog. He said it was a birthday gift for him. She said she gave it to him so she’s taking it back. She called him a son of a bitch. He told her to shut up. She signed the paperwork. Rusev then held it up and smiled. He was about to sign it, but then said, “On a second thought, I need something from you before I sign this.” Lana asked if he wanted sex again in the elevator, in the ring, at the doctor’s office, on the plane. She said he’s a sick, sick, sick person, just like all the sick people in the arena. More boos. Rusev said what he wants is a match with his “hot, cut boyfriend, Bobby Lashley.”
Lashley’s music played and he walked out. He said this is a big joke to Rusev at his and Lana’s expense. He said Lana is hers now. He said when the divorce is over, he’s going to ask her to marry him. She smiled and whispered in his year. Rusev said she’s all his, so run to Vegas and get married. “She’s just, she’s just… bad.” He said he wants to live happily on Rusev Day. He said he’ll face Lashley in any match, anytime, and then he signed the contract. Lashley attacked Rusev as he was signing. They brawled to the floor. Lashley rammed Rusev into the ringside barricade. Back in the ring Rusev caught Lashley with a Machka Kick and then he gave him a belly-to-belly through the table. Lana freaked out.
(Keller’s Analysis: That was 18 minutes mostly juvenile nonsense. Lana turned it up to 11 in her reactions, and Rusev was likable for the most part in ceasing to care about her anymore. I don’t really know what else they could have done here. Well, thinking about it, they could have gone a lot of much worse places, so this was actually pretty tame. I mean, we didn’t get Photoshopped pictures trying to humiliate Rusev or tawdry examples of Rusev or Lana mishavior. I was whatever comes right under “mildly amused” in the scale of liking or not liking something. I didn’t hate it, but it didn’t have a lot of value beyond setting up presumably a tables match at TLC.)
-They went to Joseph and Joe. Joe said Rusev ultimately had his day. They then commented on clips of last week’s AOP attack on Kevin Owens. Joseph said they’d hear from KO next. [c]
-Charly Caruso interviewed KO backstage. Caruso asked if KO has figured why AOP attacked him. KO said that’s easy to figure out. They attacked him because Seth Rollins told them to do it. He said Seth didn’t like his honesty about how full of crap he is. He said he got away last week and that means they have a problem with him this week. The camera followed KO as he walked around backstage. He said hi to Rey Mysterio. They hugged. Rey offered to help watch KO’s back. KO said he appreciated it, but he will handle it himself. Rey held up his pipe and offered it to KO. KO took it and thanked him.
-Matt Hardy made his ring entrance. Drew McIntyre then came out. Drew said last week Matt’s wife Rebecca just gave birth to their third baby. “I hear the kid’s cross-eyed, but at least we know he’s the father,” he said. He said Matt has been successful in the ring, but outside the ring he hasn’t made the best decisions, so reproducing might not be the best choice. He said he is going to give Matt and his family an opportunity to leave the ring with his tail between his legs so he can hold his child and not be broken. Matt jumped him as he entered he ring. He gave him a Twist of Fate. Drew dropped to ringside. Joseph asked if the match would take place. [c]
(1) DREW MCINTYRE vs. MATT HARDY
They were battling after the break. Matt avoided a charging Drew in the corner, so Drew went shoulder-first into the ringpost. Matt hit a Side Effect for a two count. Drew came back with a Future Shock DDT and a Claymore Kick for the win.
WINNER: Drew in 2:00.
-The announcers hyped A.J. Styles vs. Rey Mysterio for later. Then a clip aired of the Kabuki Warriors beating Charlotte Flair last week.
-Backstage Charlotte told Becky Lynch she doesn’t like her, but dislikes the Kabuki Warriors more. She asked Becky if she would like to be Becky Two Belts again. Becky said she’d rather face Kabuki Warriors alone than trust her. Becky said she’s facing them alone later tonight, “an opportunity to collect an old debt.” Charlotte snipped, “Well, good luck with that.” Then she left. [c]
-KO walked around backstage asking wrestlers if they’ve seen AOP. Mojo Rawley told them they went that way, but then switched and said the other way. Then he laughed and pointed both directions. KO heard enough and slapped him.
-The Viking Raiders walked to the ring. They said for weeks they’ve been searching for worthy opponents, but all they’ve encountered are victims. They issued an open challenge to anyone who can take their gold. “Now, let the raid begin!” The Street Profits came out to their music. They danced through the crowd. [c]
-Joseph talked about Dave Bautista being inducting into the WWE Hall of Fame next year. They showed footage and Samoa Joe said he’s more than deserving.
(2) THE VIKING RAIDERS (Erik & Ivar) vs. THE STREET PROFITS (Montez Ford & Angelo Dawkins) – Raw Tag Team Title match
The Profits took it to the Raiders early including a flip dive over the top rope onto Ivar at ringside. Ford scored a two count after a top rope frog splash on Erik, but Ivar broke up the cover. Ford cartwheeled to avoid Ivar. Ivar joined in with his own cartwheel. Ford shook the top rope and yelled in celebration. Joe said, “Stay on target, stay focused.” When he turned around, Ivar gave him a spin wheel kick. Dawkins tagged in rallied briefly. Soon thereafter, the Raiders gave Ford the Viking Experience for the win.
WINNERS: The Viking Raiders in 3:00 to retain the Raw Tag Team Titles.
(Keller’s Analysis: That seemed like a real defining down moment for The Street Profits, who had already lost whatever momentum they had before Survivor Series hype dominated the show last month already, and this really established in such a short definitive loss that they’re a dancing happy smiling mid-card act, but not a team that WWE is building toward bigger things, at least in the short-run. That’s too bad.)
-After the match, the Raiders and Profits exchanged “good sport” forearm bumps. Seth Rollins then made his ring entrance. He said he had something to say, and they can all stay or go, it’s up to them. The Profits left right away. The Raiders eyed Seth and stared him at him as they left the ring. Joseph said that’s a blatant showing of the lack of respect Seth has from his colleagues. Seth said he has something to take care of, and that’s the unfinished business with AOP. He called them to the ring and indicated he was ready to fight them “right here, right now.” Instead, Kevin Owens came out to his music. He brought Rey’s pipe with him. When he entered the ring, Seth said there’s no need for the pipe. KO told Seth he doesn’t need to worry about the pipe, that’s for AOP. He asked when AOP would arrive so the three of them can attack him. Seth said he has nothing to do with AOP. They cut backstage to the parking garage where a black SUV arrived and out came AOP. They cut to a break. [c]
-After the break, Seth told KO that AOP are about to come to the ring to kick his ass, and that has nothing to do with him. KO said maybe he should take care of Seth first. Seth leaped out of the ring. KO said he’s supposed to believe they arrive right when he comes to the ring to confront him. Seth said he’s going to leave because it’s the right thing to do because it’s apparently the only way he can prove to him he has nothing to do with AOP. KO said when he’s done with AOP, he’s coming to find him. KO called for AOP and said he’s not hard to find – “I’m the loud one with the steel pipe.” AOP appeared on the big screen and spoke in their native languages. KO said, “All strong points, I can’t argue with any of them.” He added, “Let’s just do this!” He threw down the mic. Then Sami Zayn came out. Joseph asked what he was doing there. He led Mojo out onto the stage.
Sami said he’s a Smackdown Superstar, but he has some leeway because he has applied for and been approved for a managerial license. He told KO he’s not actually a manager or an agent, he’s a liberator who sets people free. He said he can tell just looking at KO that he’s a prisoner in his own head. He said he doesn’t judge him for any of it. He slinked into the ring, followed by Mojo. He said what he did to Mojo was way out of line. He told fans not to cheer that. He asked KO to admit he was wrong and apologize to Mojo. Joe said some call Sami “peacemaker.” Mojo told KO not to disrespect Sami like he disrespected him backstage. Sami tried to calm them down and told him not to take that tone when he has that look in his eyes and that pipe in his hands. Mojo said everybody’s tough with a steel pipe in their hands. KO threw Mojo the pipe, then gave him a stunner. Then he hit him across his back with the pipe over and over about eight times before Mojo rolled out of the ring.
(Keller’s Analysis: Sami’s always entertaining, and I’m all for getting some use out of Mojo if he’s going to occupy a spot on the roster, but the crowd didn’t react much as it seemed this is leading somewhere but it didn’t get anywhere interesting yet. Nobody believes Seth at this point, and Sami and Mojo just distracted from whatever that Seth-AOP story is. I didn’t know managers had lee-way to float between brands according to Brand Split Regulations, but as long he doesn’t wrestle on Raw, I suppose it seems plausible enough.) [c]
-A local TLC commercial listed King Corbin vs. Roman Reigns, Kabuki Warriors vs. Becky & Charlotte, and The Miz vs. “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt in a Universal Title match. [c]
-They showed KO searching backstage for AOP again.
(3) ALEISTER BLACK vs. AKIRA TOZAWA
As Black made his ring entrance, in an inset interview Buddy Murphy said he’ll prove he is WWE’s best kept secret when he beats Black at TLC. The announcers hyped C.M. Punk’s return to “WWE Backstage” on FS1 tomorrow night. Joe said dynamite was human, it’d be Tozawa because he can explode at any time. When Tozawa ducked a Black kick, he staggered into the corner and sat and looked at Black with fear and respect. Joe said Tozawa is staring at a puzzle he doesn’t think he can solve. Black sat and looked back at him. Tozawa body scissored Black to the floor and then went for a dive through the ropes, but Black caught him mid-air with a leaping knee. Black threw Tozawa back into the ring and connected with Black Mass to win. Joseph hyped the Black vs. Murphy match at TLC.
WINNER: Black in 3:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Good short match. Tozawa’s facial expressions really conveyed his sense of awe at Black’s type of offense and intimidating demeanor. Tozawa is good in this role.)
-Caruso interviewed Humberto Carrillo. She called him a rookie sensation on Raw who has shown in recent weeks he’ll be a key component of this show for years to come. A series of highlights aired from his matches. Then she began to interview him, but then Zelina Vega and Andrade interrupted. Zelina yelled and then Andrade shoved him and yelled at him in Spanish. [c]
-A vignette aired hyping the pending return of Liv Morgan. The screen said: “Liv Morgan. Makeover. Coming soon.”
(4) ANDRADE (w/Zelina Vega) vs. HUMBERO CARRILLO
Joe talked about this being “by far one of the biggest matches of his career.” Andrade charged at Carrillo and dropkicked him to dominate early. He grounded him with a chinlock. Carrillo made a comeback and then leaped off the top turnbuckle and backflipped onto Andrade. They cut to a break. [c]
Carrillo landed a spinning kick to Andrade’s head and then a standing shooting star press for a two count. Andrade knocked Carrillo off the top rope and then double-stomped him. The turnaround time on this was fast, minimizing the awkwardness of Carrillo holding himself parallel to the mat in order to get stomped. Andrade then charged the corner, but Carrillo moved out of the way. Then he hit a missile dropkick off the top rope followed by a Aztek Press that seemed botched leading to a one count. Not sure what happened there. Andrade surprised Carrillo with a spinning back elbow for a believable near fall. He dragged Carrillo mid-ring and went for a moonsault, but Carrillo moved. Andrade landed on his feet. Carrillo then hit a running dropkick. He lifted Andrade, but Andrade elbowed free. Zelina stood on the ring apron. Andrade shoved Carrillo toward the ropes, but he stopped short. Andrade charged and knocked Zelina off the ring apron. Carrillo then rolled up Andrade for the win. Joseph called it the single biggest win of his career. Andrade helped Zelina up, but then yelled at her for being the problem. She yelled back at him.
WINNER: Carrillo in 11:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Nice match. I still think Carrillo looks like he has a big upside.)
-A backstage promo aired with Rey Mysterio. He said he wants to prove he is worthy of being called “Rey Mysterio and still the United States Champion.” [c]
-A commercial aired for Goldberg on Steve Austin’s WWE Network show, “The Broken Skull Chronicles.” It teased Goldberg saying he didn’t feel like he belonged and he was WCW’s copycat Austin, then Austin asking if he really believed that.
(5) BUDDY MURPHY vs. ZACK RYDER (w/Curt Hawkins)
Joseph said Buddy will face Black at TLC. An inset interview aired with Black, breathing heavily, saying the biggest mistake he made was picking a fight with him. Murphy stomped away at Ryder in the corner in the opening seconds of the match. Murphy took a shot at Hawkins at ringside before eating a wrecking ball dropkick by Ryder. Joe said Murphy knocked on Black’s door because he knows he can beat him and be a secret a no more. Murphy ended up winning with Murphy’s Law.
WINNER: Murphy in 2:00.
-Joseph plugged Becky vs. Kabuki Warriors.
-KO smashed the windows out of the black SUV limo that AOP arrived in. Then he broke open the back of the door. AOP attacked him from behind and threw him into the garbage doors backstage and then stomped away at him. Inside the limo, someone spun around who was wearing a black hood. It was Seth, who revealed himself to be with AOP after all. His demeanor changed. He said it’s come to this, and it’s a shame, but he’s sorry. Then he stomped KO onto the concrete floor. He and AOP stood over KO and looked at each other. Seth walked away and AOP followed.
(Keller’s Analysis: There wasn’t much crowd reaction, at least not that we could hear on TV. A few gasps and boos. The reveal was cool with Seth spinning around in a chair in the back with a black hoodie hiding his identity for a few seconds. The problem was, no genuinely effective attempt was made to create any doubt that Seth wasn’t a bad guy here aligned with AOP, so the “reveal” felt anticlimactic. That said, it’s good to get Seth solidly on the heel side of things aligned with AOP now. I don’t think dragging it out longer had any added value.) [c]
-They replayed Seth and AOP attacking KO.
-Seth walked onto the stage. Joe said there are questions and they’re about to get some answers. Seth asked the fans what they want from him, because he’s been asking himself that for a long time. He said, “We used to get along, we used to see things eye-to-eye.” He said it went wrong somewhere, and he can’t figure out why. He said he did everything right. He said he doesn’t take nights off and he wrestles through injuries. He said he lays it all on the line “for each and every one of you.” Boos. He said he put himself out there in the media, too, and all he got was disrespected and spit on. “I’m sick of it!” he said. He said last week he told KO and the fans he had nothing to do with AOP, “and that was the truth.” He said the truth wasn’t good enough for them. He told the fans they believed a “flavor of the month” Kevin Owens called him a liar and they believed him. He said he tried again to tell KO he wasn’t with AOP, “and that was the truth.” He said the truth wasn’t good enough for him. He asked what is good enough for them in 2019.
He said he beat Brock Lesnar and brought the Universal Title back to Raw, but that wasn’t good enough for them. Some fans chanted “You suck.” He said it’s time for him to push back. He said their fiction has turned into fact. He said it has turned him to stand side-by-side with the AOP. Joe said he understands his frustration, but there are better and less dramatic ways to handle it. AOP walked onto the stage with Seth, then they left together. Lawler said he’s skeptical of Seth’s claims about his AOP alliance because there were too many coincidences.
-They cut backstage to KO being loaded into an ambulance.
(6) BECKY LYNCH vs. THE KABUKI WARRIORS
Becky came out first. Then the Kabuki Warriors. Becky put up a good fight early, but then succumbed to a distraction and being outnumbered. They cut to a break early. [c]
Becky made a comeback shortly after the break ended. She DDT’s both Asuka and Sane. When she climbed to the top rope, Asuka grabbed her leg and then Kairi took over. Kairi went for the Insane Elbow, but Becky moved. Becky then gave a Becksploder onto Asuka who had tagged in. She went for a legdrop, but Asuka moved and put her in an Asuka Lock. Becky stood and grabbed the ropes, then countered with her own version of the Asuka lock. Asuka dropped to the floor. She battled at ringside and got the better of the heel duo. She leaped off the ring but got caught with a Kairi knee. The ref held Becky’s leg as she re-entered the ring, but Becky broke free. Asuka caught her with a Shining Wizard as she entered the ring for a believable near fall. More double-teaming followed. Asuka put Becky on her shoulders and then Kairi leaped off the top rope and knocked Becky to the mat for a near fall. Kairi screamed in frustration. Kairi went for an Insane Elbow again. Becky lifted her boots and caught her mid-air, then began to apply her armbar. Asuka broke it up. Becky slammed her, then applied the Disarm Her. Asuka yanked Kairi to ringside. Fans booed. Becky stood and looked enraged. Asuka then jabbed Becky in the gut with a chair. The ref DQ’d them.
WINNER: Lynch via DQ in 13:00.
-They pulled a table out from under the ring. Joe said they’re “reaching into the toy basket.” Becky fought back as best she could, but Asuka put her on the table at ringside and then Kairi landed the Insane Elbow. Asuka and Kairi celebrated on the stage.
-Backstage A.J. Styles stood with Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows. He said he’s with the best tag team in the world, and sooner than later they’ll take those Raw tag team titles from the Viking Raiders. He said they’ll be celebrating with the U.S. Champion when that happens, because he’s getting his title back tonight. He told Randy Orton that if he sticks his nose in his business, he’s going to hurt him to the point of ending his career. [c]
-Joseph announced that the NWO (Scott Hall, Sean Waltman, Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash) will be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame next year.
-Backstage a trainer was giving Becky icepacks. In walked Charlotte who asked her how it went. Becky was sulky. Charlotte told her it was a good match and walked away. The camera followed her out of the locker room for an awkwardly long time, and then Asuka and Kairi attacked her. (Can’t they figure out a less obvious way to foreshadow an attack than filming Charlotte for such a long time after she left the locker room in a way that they never have previously?) They quickly finished their attack and left before Becky could be inconspicuous by her absence making the save.
(7) ERICK ROWAN vs. AN UNNAMED WRESTLER
Rowan’s opponent grabbed the cage and ran up the ramp to put it on the stage. Rowan followed behind, checked on his “pet,” and then destroyed his foe to the point that the ref DQ’d him.
WINNER: Rowan in 1:30.
-Backstage Asuka and Kairi, acting rowdy and riled up, challenged Charlotte and Becky to a match for their titles. [c]
-Becky and Charlotte sat backstage and decided to accept the challenge for a TLC match on Sunday.
-The Street Profits hosted a spoof on SNL’s Weekend Update. With an obnoxious laugh track, they talked about recent angles in WWE including a Baby Yoda joke. They also made a “size joke” about Baron Corbin’s private parts. Ford then sang “We Want the Smoke.”
(8) REY MYSTERIO vs. A.J. STYLES (w/Karl Anderson, Luke Gallows)
Late in the match, Rey went for a 619, but Gallows blocked it and took the blow. Styles then scored a near fall. When Styles climbed to the top rope, Rey met him up there and went for a huracanrana. Styles was supposed to counter into a Styles Clash, but they botched it. Styles then recovered and gave Rey a powerbomb and then a regular Sytles Clash. Orton snuck into the ring “out of nowhere” and stared at Styles. Lawler said he just winked at A.J. Rey then surprised Styles with a small package for the win.
WINNER: Styles in 14:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Man, they cut that close. They had the credit box in the corner and cut to a commercial five seconds later as Orton gloated and Styles sold the shocking loss.)