SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
WWE MONDAY NIGHT RAW TV REPORT
DECEMBER 20, 2021
MILWAUKEE, WIS. FROM THE FISERV FORUM
AIRED LIVE ON USA NETWORK
REPORT BY BRUCE LEE HAZELWOOD (@B_Lee253), PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Commentators: Jimmy Smith, Byron Saxton, Corey Graves
Ring Announcer: Mike Rome
Backstage Correspondent(s): Sarah Schreiber, Kevin Patrick
-The show began with a recap video of Bobby Lashley and M.V.P. saying it was imperative to add Lashley to the WWE Championship match Day 1. They showed Adam Pearce say Lashley had to beat all three men in the match in one night. They showed Kevin Owens tap before The Hurt Lock was in, Owens causing a DQ by attacking Seth Rollins only for Pearce and Sonya Deville to continue the match and Lashley winning immediately, E telling off Owens and Rollins, Owens and Rollins getting involved in the match, E and Lashley fighting off both men, and Lashley defeating E thanks to a cane shot from M.V.P.
-They cut to the Fiserv Forum as Jimmy Smith and RAWbot welcomed viewers to what looked like a good crowd in Milwaukee. Lashley’s abbreviated entrance music hit as he and M.V.P. began the show. He was wearing a leather blazer over a black-on-black dress shirt and tie ensemble. Smith, Corey Graves, and Byron Saxton went over the fatal four-way for Day 1.
BOBBY LASHLEY & M.V.P. IN-RING PROMO
Both men had a mic The crowed booed. M.V.P. asked, “We on?” that was audible, then said Lashley is in the building, so get on your feet and give praise to The All Mighty. He said you should when you consider what Lashley did last week, what some people – even the most extraordinary people – would call impossible. The crowd gave him the “What?” treatment as he listed off the three men. He took it back by calling them unathletic and wouldn’t be able to understand what he did. He said it would be like winning the Boston Marathon, winning the NBA Finals, and then going five rounds with Francis Ngannou and knocking him out. He said now that Lashley has been added to the pay-per-view, no one can ever disrespect him again because he showed them what happens. He said they must acknowledgehim as E’s music hit and interrupted.
E entered the ring with a mic to good cheers. He said hats off and cheese curds to Lashley. The crowd popped for the last part. He said Lashley did everything he said he was going to do and made the match a fatal four-way, but there’s something that sticks in his craw. He said the Lashley he knows is strong, dominant, and has a lot of sistas (the crowd laughed), but when it comes to getting it done in the ring, he does it all on his own. He said that’s why he was so surprised when Iceberg Slim cracked him the knee. E said maybe Lashley doesn’t have the plums, the cajones, that he thought he did.
Lashley said he would have beat him anyway. He asked M.V.P. if he did that on his own; he nodded. Lashley said he didn’t need M.V.P.’s help to beat the others or “Little E.” He said he’s no saint, so if E got struck in the knee, he’s going to take the chance. Lashley said, “P, now people are questioning if I can beat him on my own.” He said he’s beginning to think that M.V.P. believes he can take out E by himself, so he implored E to put that to the test. He said M.V.P. is a former two-time United States Champion and has that cane, so he’s going to go sit and in the spirit of competition, let’s see what happens.
M.V.P. readied the cane like a batter, but Rollins and Owens suddenly jumped Lashley from behind. They threw him into the ring post, but Lashley came after them. They then fought each other by the timekeeper’s area, then threw E into the barricade on the opposite end. Lashley rolled into the ring, but Rollins and Owens met him. Owens held Lashley for Rollins to hit the stomp, but E came back in and hit both with overhead belly-to-bellies. Lashley hit a Dominator on Rollins as Lashley and E stood tall in the ring, glaring at each other. The commentary went out for a bit and came back mid-sentence from Graves.
-Smith shifted to a video recap of the past two weeks between Bianca Belair and Doudrop, beginning with the count out victory for Belair two weeks ago and Belair’s victory with a 450 splash last week, followed by another Doudrop attack. They cut to Belair in Gorilla as Sarah Schreiber approached, saying this is being called the final chapter. Belair said it sounds like a story Doudrop made out of bitterness and envy. She said all Doudrop tries to do is take out her frustrations on Belair. She said they have one final match for Doudrop to learn that no matter how many times she attacks Belair, she’ll always emerge victorious over Doudrop. She made her entrance. It’s hard to tell if the reaction was added or legitimate, but they did show some kids cheering excitedly. They cut to break. [c]
(Hazelwood’s Take: I think the promo segment went well, particularly E bringing up the legitimate issues after being attacked by M.V.P. Did the latter also allude to Roman Reigns by saying we needed to “acknowledge” Lashley? That would be a fun match! I don’t what the point of Lashley putting M.V.P. alone with E like that was about other than to sloppily foreshadow a breakup. It was weird, and the subsequent attack seemed misplaced.)
-They returned with Owens and Rollins arguing in the back about needing to get rid of Lashley. Owens called Lashley a “jacked up Benjamin Button.” Pearce and Deville approached and said they could put together one of the most interesting tag team matches in the history of the show. Pearce made Owens & Rollins vs. E & Lashley official. Rollins said Owens was too loud, and Owens was left alone. He said don’t go, we should strategize. He’s great.
-Doudrop’s new music hit as she made her entrance. Belair’s demeanor changed immediately upon hearing the music, glaring at the entrance. It was well done.
(1) BIANCA BELAIR vs. DOUDROP – “Final Chapter” singles match
Belair and Doudrop traded shoves before Belair hit a big right and went for the K.O.D. Doudrop rolled outside as the crowd booed at Belair’s behest. Doudrop was able to ring up Belair across the top rope, then took a shoulder tackle and landed a big one of her own. They hyped “Cutting Edge” with Maryse. Belair tried fighting out of a corner, but Doudrop just beat on her. She hit a running splash in the corner as the fans chanted “EST.” Belair landed four shots, but one from Doudrop dropped her to her knees.
Belair countered out of the corner and hit a dropkick. She then ran in with a big shoulder tackle in the corner, but was sent to the apron. Belair was able to land a big forearm, but Doudrop caught Belair as Belair leaped from the top rope with a crossbody, hitting a modified World’s Strongest Slam for a two-count. She then missed a senton, but got her knees up as Belair went for the handspring moonsault. Both women went outside by the entrance area as Doudrop sent Belair into the apron. Belair ducked a clothesline, then hit a spinebuster on the outside as they cut to break. [c]
Belair was crotched on on a top rope near the announce desk as they returned. Doudrop climbed to the second rope for a superplex. Belair tried fighting off and went for an avalanche sunset bomb, but Doudrop held on and landed a punch that sent Belair to the floor. She went for seated bomb out of the corner, but Belair moved. Belair went for a crucifix, but Doudrop rolled through, then hit a corner splash for a two-count. Frustrated, Doudrop just rained down a couple of punches.
She used part of the braid to hit a biel. She did another one as the crowd booed, then started a tepid “EST” chant. Belair landed a big slap in return, ducked some blows, then landed a few kicks and a dropkick. Belair rushed Doudrop in the corner, but Doudrop reversed an Irish whip. Belair slipped out and hit a frogsplash crossbody from the second rope. She then hit her springboard moonsault for a two-count as the crowd went “Ahh.” Smith said nine times out of ten, the match is over there (really? when?).
Belair went for the ten punches in the corner, but after four, Doudrop turned it into a sit-down powerbomb. Instead of covering she dragged Belair to the corner for the Vader Bomb/Doudrop Bomb. She mocked Belair’s taunt, but missed as Belair moved. Belair lifted Doudrop for the K.O.D., even holding her for about five seconds before landing the move. She used her head to roll over Doudrop and scored the pinfall victory. The crowd really popped for the ending sequence.
WINNER: Bianca Belair at 11:21 (K.O.D.)
-Smith shifted to the brewing Finn Balor-Austin Theory feud. First, Theory attacked Balor two weeks ago with the ATL after Balor defeated T-Bar. Then last week, he caused a distraction in Balor’s tag match, causing him to eat the Zig Zag and lose the match. They showed Theory walking in the back looking at his phone as Kevin Patrick approached asking if he could have a word. He asked about Vince McMahon taking a “keen liking” to Theory. Theory said he feels like the luckiest person in the world and it’s obvious that McMahon sees something in him. He said he thinks McMahon sees him as a future WWE Champion and walked away. Patrick said he better hopes he doesn’t lose, to which Saxton responded with enthusiasm in the affirmative. Balor’s music then hit as he made his entrance for their match. They cut to break. [c]
(Hazelwood’s Take: Decent match that was affected by the lack of an enthusiastic crowd until the end of the match. Belair’s feats of strength always pop the crowd, and they really built to a crescendo as she began lifting Doudrop, finally hitting the move after showing even more power by hold Doudrop for seconds. It’s a great way to set Belair up to either win the Rumble match again or be the challenger for Lynch at the event, or both. What’s next for Doudrop is uncertain, but hopefully it isn’t too far of a drop down the card.)
-They returned with Saxton going over sponsors, then Balor waiting in the ring as his music continued. Theory’s music hit to boos. They showed people booing who didn’t care to even rise from their seats (haha).
(2) FINN BALOR vs. AUSTIN THEORY – Singles match
Balor immediately went after Theory, beating him in a corner, then hitting a running back elbow. Theory rolled outside, but Balor followed. Theory hit a kick and then slammed Balor’s face into the apron, rolling him back into the ring. Balor took him out inside the ring, but Theory went to the apron and hung Balor along the top rope. He then mounted Balor and hit a punch of punches, then a leaping stomp to the chest for a two-count.
He hit two big corner clotheslines before hitting a snapmare and a rear chinlock. Balor rose to his feet, but Theory took him back down. Theory hit a foot stomp as Balor reached his feet, but Balor rolled through a sunset flip and hit a basement dropkick to Theory’s face. He hit a clothesline, sending Theory to the outside. Theory caught Balor’s kick, dropping him forward onto the apron, then a neckbreaker with Balor off the apron to the floor. They cut to break. [c]
Theory had Balor in another rear chinlock as they returned. They replayed the neckbreaker from before the break. Balor fought to his feet and hit a jawbreaker, then boots out of the corner. Balor hit a flying forearm off a rope run, then a double stomp to the chest as the crowd came alive a little bit. Balor hit a running PK to the gut, then stomped the gut against the ropes. Theory rolled to the apron and then hit a rolling dropkick for a two-count.
He landed some left hands in a corner to Balor, but Balor escaped the rush and hit an enziguri from the apron. Balor climbed for the Coup de Grace, but Theory took out his legs. He then hit a leaping springboard (from a sitting position) Spanish Fly. He grabbed his camera for the pin, but Balor rolled him in a crucifix for a two-count. He then landed his elbow and shotgun dropkick, then Coup de Grace. The crowd popped hard for Balor’s finishing sequence and victory. On replay, Theory tried begging off as Balor leaped for the Coup de Grace, a nice touch.
WINNER: Finn Balor at 9:07 (Coup de Grace)
-Smith shifted to a video recap of “Miz TV” from last week where The Miz pulled Maryse in the way of an attempted spear from Edge, allowing him to hit Skull Crushing Finale. Maryse slapped him and walked away. They showed The Miz in the back who was next to Omos. He said it was going to be a fascinating edition and if Edge’s pathetic little talk show could top this. Styles approached, and The Miz walked away. Styles said he’s just glad he and Omos are on the same page. Omos grabbed him hard behind the neck and agreed. Styles’ eyes widened, but he played it off. The Miz’s music hit as he made his entrance alone.
(Hazelwood’s Take: Now that was a fine match. As annoying as Theory is, he’s been pegged as a future world champion since his days in Evolve. Working with Balor definitely helps one look better in the ring, but he took great bumps and again, that little bit at the end was nicely done. His promos need work, but he’s still very young, so that should come with time. Balor needed a victory here after looking so foolish last week, and it was great to see it was clean and emphatic. He could be one of the final four in the Rumble match.)
-They returned with a video postcard of Milwaukee’s sports teams, including the defending NBA champion Bucks. They went to the Smackdown Breakdown which showed Reigns’ return. Heyman’s facials are always so damn good. They showed Reigns asking if he could trust Heyman, asking if Heyman’s a special counsel or an advocate. Reigns said he wanted Heyman to acknowledge him with the truth: why is he protecting Lesnar from him? They showed Heyman, with his facials of knowing he was about to get his ass whipped, said he was protecting Reigns from Lesnar. Reigns then fired Heyman as Heyman repeated, “I love you. my Tribal Chief.” Reigns landed a superman punch, but Lesnar interrupted the con-chair-to, hitting F5s to both Usos and then to Reigns, and another one.
-Smith then hyped footage of Liv Morgan attacking Becky Lynch at the Performance Center.
MIZ TV w/A.J. STYLES & OMOS
They finally shifted to The Miz in the ring as they showed a graphic for his match against Edge. He said before they get to his guest, he wanted to address the controversy from last week. He said to his beautiful, loving, understanding wife, I love you, Maryse, and if you love me and our family, you will not talk about our relationship on “Cutting Edge” tonight. He then did his usual intro with gusto, then gave a pumped up introduction for Styles & Omos. They made their entrance as Smith said there’s been some friction recently.
Omos threw his seat out of the ring as Styles sat in his. The Miz said they didn’t need that chair and thanked Omos for getting rid of the chair. The Miz said he’s noticed they’ve been a little out of sync; Styles retorted kind of like him and his wife, and the crowd went “oooooh.” Styles said it was growing pains, and he meant what he said last week that they’re unstoppable when on the same page. Styles said Omos could be a Tag Team Champion on his own; that’s how good he’s become. He said disagreements happen, but they’re back on the same page. He said they’re seeing eye-to-eye to the point that they should take all the titles.
The Miz said that is interesting with such a heartfelt and sincere answer. He asked what happens if he heard otherwise? He alluded to Omos as Styles tried deflecting. Styles asked what kind of man puts the mother of his children in harm’s way. The Miz said now that’s Styles deflecting. He said he was shocked Omos confided in him, saying Omos said he was sick and tired of carrying Styles. The Miz said Omos said he’s been held back by Styles ever since Styles “recruited” him. He then said the mutual respect thing is very one-sided. He said Styles took 15 years to get to WWE, but WWE begged Omos to get here. The Miz said Omos said it best: he’s not the next Andre the Giant, but the first Omos.
Styles asked if he’s done and said they never should have come on since The Miz is full of BS. He said he’s open ears and asked for Omos’ answer. Rey Mysterio’s music hit for their scheduled match. What was Omos going to say?! They cut to break. [c]
-They returned hyping Migos at Day 1.
(3) A.J. STYLES & OMOS vs. THE MYSTERIOS (Rey Mysterio & Dominik Mysterio) – Tag team match
The Mysterios were in black and orange. Styles hit a takedown, but Dominik hit his arm drag from the top. Styles responded with a pendulum backbreaker. Styles hit an abdominal stretch off of a rope run. Dominik hit a modified leg trap rollup for a two-count, but Styles hit a Pele Kick. Dominik evaded Styles and tagged in his father. They hyped Styles confronting Grayson Waller on NXT tomorrow night. Rey hit some quick offense, including a tornado DDT and drop toehold. He hit the 619 and went to the top. He went for the frogsplash, but Styles go this knees up. He crawled to the corner for the tag, but Omos just turned his shoulder to Styles’ tag. Rey rolled up Styles for the quick victory.
After the match, Styles just stared at Omos, who looked away as if nothing happened. Styles walked up to him and asked if this is how it’s going to be. He said he should have never took Omos under his wing because Omos is a piece of trash. Omos shoved him away, but Styles landed a bunch of shots and an enziguri as Omos entered the ring. Omos shoved him away again, then ate a forearm. As Styles went for a Phenomenal Forearm, Omos grabbed his neck, but Styles on his shoulders, and hit a quick Military Press Slam in one fluid motion; he pretty much just lifted and tossed Styles forward in a pressing fashion. He took a mic and said the next Styles sees him, it will be in a match…against you! He called him “trash ass” before walking off.
WINNER: The Mysterios at 2:25 (rollup)
-Smith shifted to a video recap of Otis defeating Riddle last week with a popup World’s Strongest Slam, then fending off Randy Orton before landing his new signature spinning back elbow like he’s Jon Jones. Orton’s music hit as Smith said Orton told Riddle he wanted to do tonight’s match alone. he entered without Riddle, holding his Tag Team Championship over his shoulder. The crowd popped big for Orton’s entrance. They hyped Orton vs. Chad Gable as they cut to break. [c]
(Hazelwood’s Take: They had been hinting at the breakup of Styles and Omos for a few weeks, but I think they could have gone a little longer with it as I expected this to be a WrestleMania match, not a Day 1 match. They haven’t announced when the match would happen yet, but it seems more likely in two weeks than several months. The fluidity with which Omos just tossed Styles was impressive. He’s still a bit weird in his cadence on the mic, but Omos has that “it” factor that goes beyond his height. Let’s hope his improvement is as astounding as they alluded to tonight.)
-They returned with Theory outside of McMahon’s office, hyping himself up to knock. He walked away instead.
-Orton’s music was still running as he stood in the middle of the ring waiting for his opponent. Alpha Academy’s music hit as Gable and Otis made their way to the ring, I’m sorry, valedictorian Gable. A round of boos greeted them. Gable said look at Otis’ face before giving Otis a big kiss on the cheek.
(4) RANDY ORTON vs. CHAD GABLE (w/Otis) – Singles match
They locked up with Gable taking the left arm in a wringer. An immediate “Randy” chant began as Orton reversed the wringer with one of his own. Gable flipped and bridged out, then hit his rotating drop toehold. Orton rolled outside to gather himself. Orton took his time and reentered just before six. They locked up again with Orton taking a side headlock and then a takedown. Gable escaped with a leg scissors, but Orton kipped out. Gable took him out with a single leg, quick pin, then an arm drag he held on Orton.
Orton rose and forced Gable into the corner, then whipped Gable across. Gable dodged and hit a deep arm drag, then another as Gable held the arm lock again. Graves said this is Randy freaking Orton and he’s getting schooled. He hit a knee to the gut and sent Gable outside. He landed a kick as Gable tried reentering and the crowd popped for the draping DDT. Gable countered and went for a German, but Orton elbowed out. Gable hit an arm drag, but Orton dodged the next one and hit a wicked, wicked RKO that spiked Gable. Great bump there from Gable.
After the match, as Orton was posing, Otis entered. Otis fought off an RKO, then another, then another! His last shove sent Orton outside, setting up an eventual match where the story is can Orton land the RKO on Otis?
WINNER: Randy Orton at 2:58 (RKO)
-Smith shifted to a recap video of the opening segment where Lashley left M.V.P. in the ring with E prior to being attacked by Owens and Rollins. This eventually led to the main event tag team match with the four men in the Day 1 WWE Championship match. They showed Lashley getting ready to dress for his tag match. M.V.P. approached and asked if he could trust E. Lashley said no, but he’s going to beat the hell out of Owens and Rollins, and if E so much as looks at him wrong, he’s going to kick E’s ass, too. M.V.P. said that was just setting up a trap out there – he can take care of himself – but it was just a trap, right? Lashley closed his locker and said he needed to hydrate, asking for some water. M.V.P. said sure and walked off as Lashley reopened his locker.
-Damian Priest made his entrance to a decent pop as one dude presumably in his 20s was jumping, hyped for Priest’s entrance. Mike Rome announced this as a Championship Contenders (no possessive) match with Dolph Ziggler. They cut to break. [c]
(Hazelwood’s Take: Damn, that was one hell of a three-minute match. What a story told in such a short time. Gable just went to the well one too many times with the arm drag, and Orton showed that years of experience doesn’t go to waste (kayfabe) by dodging the last arm drag and capitalizing with an immediate RKO. Seriously, watch this match. It was a fantastic three minutes. Now, I wonder if they’ll end the macro story with Orton landing the RKO on Otis – which he has yet to in this feud – or have Otis emerge victorious. Is Alpha Academy the next Tag Team Champion?)
-They returned with a pre-recorded video of Dana Brooke and Reggie looking at a bunch of lit up trees. As expected, Akira Tozawa showed up looking for R-Truth; he was in an elf costume. Tamina showed up and shoved away Tozawa. They snuck up on the two at “Santa Claus,” who was Truth. Tamina tried a rollup, but no luck. Tozawa went after Truth as Brooke fought off Tamina in some lights. Brooke and Reggie ran off. Tamin scared away the other two. That was…a segment that aired.
-They cut back to the ring where Priest was awaiting his foe. Their music hit as Ziggler and Robert Roode made their entrance. They showed a replay of Priest besting Roode two weeks ago only for Ziggler to land a superkick after the match, setting up tonight’s match.
(5) DAMIAN PRIEST (c) vs. DOLPH ZIGGLER (w/Robert Roode) – United States Championship Contenders match
The bell rung before both men were even ready, Priest with his title still on his shoudler. Ziggler hit an elbow, but Priest threw Ziggler into a corner and then a running shoulder tackle. He then hit a leaping back elbow as Ziggler came off of a rope run. Priest went for a corner splash, but missed. Ziggler went for his leaping DDT, but Priest threw him off. Ziggler hit a kick to the knee and went for a fame-asser, but Priest lited him only for Ziggler to hit a sunset flip for two. Priest took the advantage, but Ziggler hit a knee kick again that Smith said Priest checked. He then hit a big lifting slam, but as he went to the top rope, Ziggler nimbly climbed up and hit a big superplex as they cut to break. [c]
They aired a Ruthless Aggression 2 documentary ad for peacock prior to returning. Priest was fighting off Ziggler as they returned, but Ziggler hit a big kick, ducked a spin kick, and landed his big leaping DDT for a two-count. Ziggler set for the superkick, but Priest caught the kick and landed a right hand. He then landed a series of kicks with each leg before hitting a spinning heel kick. This time he hit the corner splash, but Ziggler slipped out of the Broken Arrow. Priest hit a clothesline instead, then the Broken Arrow for a close two-count.
Priest went to the top, but Ziggler climbed again. Priest went to the apron, Ziggler to the mat, and Priest hit a big kick to the head. As the ref’s back was turned, Roode took out Priest’s leg on the apron. Priest rose in fury, turned with his wide eyes, and chased after Roode, who fell and then ate a clothesline. Priest pounded away as he was counted out. After Rome made the announcement, it hit Priest. Graves said this means Ziggler gets a title shot. Priest reentered, but Ziggler caught him. Priest reacted in anger, so Ziggler bailed. Priest exited, grabbed Roode, and hit The Reckoning while staring down Ziggler the whole time. He then chased off Ziggler.
WINNER: Dolph Ziggler at 8:58 (count out)
-They cut to Balor walking in the back as Patrick approached, saying the victory must have been satisfying. Balor said very satisfying and he’s on to more important things. Theory attacked, ramming Balor into the equipment crates, then a belly-to-back on top of one. He took a selfie.
-Edge’s music hit to a good pop, but not as loud as Orton’s, for the return of “Cutting Edge.” Edge’s pop may have been more sustained as Edge does more crowd engagement during his entrance. They cut to break. [c]
(Hazelwood’s Take: I think that was Priest’s first loss since the handicap match after WrestleMania? If so, sure, it was a count out and not clean, but come on, what a way to blow someone’s long-built momentum.)
-They returned with a shot of McMahon in his office. Theory knocked, and McMahon said, “YEAH.” Theory entered. He said he got in there and was foolish, trying to take a selfie when he shouldn’t have, but he got “Flynn” back with a cold-blooded vicious attack. McMahon said he enjoyed that, like he beat the chocolate pudding out of him…but he lost the match. He said maybe he should fire Theory. He said he enjoys firing people, and it gives him a warm feeling in his stomach like he just ate a good meal. He said he’ll give Theory another chance in a rematch next week. He said he didn’t become a billionaire by making bad investments, and he hopes he didn’t make another one. He mentioned the pencil again, then erased some stuff, and blew the remnants in Theory’s face before ho-hoing like Santa.
CUTTING EDGE w/MARYSE
Edge yelled loudly Milwaukee, and welcomed everyone to the return of the “Cutting Edge.” He said his guest doesn’t have much in common besides being Canadian and being frustrated with The Miz. He welcomed Maryse. Her music hit as she made her entrance. Saxton said The Miz is sweating bullets. They replayed last week’s events one more time. Maryse took a seat in a fantastic dress. Edge asked how frustrating it is to be married to The Miz. She said she’s not here to be best friends, and it’s not going to be like that, she’s just here to use the platform to speak.
Edge said she couldn’t get on “Miz TV” and she said have you seen her husband? He won’t let her talk and that he’s a narcissist and arrogant. She said this is uncomfortable and it’s a little embarrassing. She said most people know her as perfect Maryse, but she’s a human and just wants to be respected, a thank you for everything she does for their family. She said she does every single thing. The crowd started booing. Edge looked shocked as she said she’s exhausted and tired. She said last week, Edge could have hurt her really bad, but he didn’t. She said people need to know that she’s a mom with two kids and if something happens to her, who’s going to take care of their kids (maybe her husband?)? She started crying, kind of.
Maryse asked if Edge would have ever done this to his wife, Beth Phoenix. Edge just said he’s sorry that her life is some kind of horrible country song. He said what, you’re going to lose your dog and your favorite pickup truck, too? He asked the crowd if anyone’s buying this, and they said no loudly. He said it’s just some trap to lull him into a false sense of security and said this is low, even for The Miz. He said he wouldn’t do this to Phoenix because he respects her. He called out The Miz, who’s music hit on cue.
The Miz tried attacking from behind, but Edge intercepted him. Maryse him him with her purse, then a slap, then The Miz hit Skull Crushing Finale. Maryse began laughing as they hugged and kissed, so it was all planned out. Graves said it’s extra humiliating when you call out the trap and still fall for it, and yeah, that’s true.
-Smith shifted to a video recap of Queen Zelina defeating Rhea Ripley last week after Carmella and Nikki A.S.H. got involved in the match. Ripley’s music hit to a decent pop as she made her entrance, no A.S.H. in sight. They hyped Ripley vs Zelina in a rematch as they cut to break. Graves said A.S.H. and Carmella were banned from ringside. [c]
(Hazelwood’s Take: Yeah, even though Edge knew it was a setup, still falling victim to the attack makes him look pretty dumb. Maryse’s acting was…subpar. I said this was a predictable first feud for Edge on Raw, but I still don’t think enough has been done for people to get invested in this match beyond, “Please shut The Miz the hell up.”)
-They returned with a Veer Mahaan promo, the same footage as all of the other ones. This time, there was no narration.
-They cut to the ring, where Ripley was posing to different parts of the crowd. Zelina’s royal music hit. She had a mic and said greetings, greetings, my loving farm peasants. She yelled out in Spanish, then in English saying they’re choosing Ripley over her? Her music came back as she regained her fake accent. SHe said without that “fatal attraction” A.S.H. at ringside, Ripley isn’t enough to end the reign of the one true queen in WWE. Sure.
(6) RHEA RIPLEY vs. QUEEN ZELINA – Singles match
Zelina hid in the ropes as Ripley rushed. She ducked a clothesline and landed two leg kicks, but Ripley caught the third. Zelina came off of the ropes with a tornado DDT attempt, but Ripley countered. She tried for a vertical, but Zelina countered into a seated Stunner for a two-count. They showed A.S.H. watching in the back. Zelina tried a flurry of strikes, but Ripley lifted and tossed her, then landed a boot to send Zelina flying.
Ripley placed Zelina on the top, landed a few strikes, then lifted for a superplex from the second rope. Zeilna wiggled free, then slid out, grabbing the arm to cause Ripley’s head to hit the turnbuckle. Zelina then landed a running knen for a two-count. However, Ripley hit a superkick, then a big Riptide that really turned more into a falling powerbomb for Ripley.
WINNER: Rhea Ripley at 2:10 (Riptide)
-They cut to the back where E was walking as Schreiber approached. She asked if they could, but E cut her off saying don’t say that filthy c-word (co-exist). He said it’s about setting the tone for Day 1 and like a preacher on Sunday mornings, he has to lay hands on Owens and Rollins. Lashley approached. E said should he expect M.V.P. to attack him? Lashley said he doesn’t need M.V.P. to take the title and tonight, he’s focused on the match, but is E? E said just keep Montel Vontavious Porter in check. Lashley said he’s got P and walked away.
-Liv Morgan’s music hit to a good pop as she entered. They cut to break. [c]
(Hazelwood’s Take: So why have Ripley lose with so many shenanigans when she beat Zelina so quickly and so dominantly tonight? It just makes Ripley look foolish for being stuck like this, but it also might add to the story that A.S.H. is an albatross on both of their careers, possibly leading to a split, whether amicable or not. On the other end, Lashley continues to do well in these promo segments, as does E. I like their dynamic, and I see them as the only viable options to win at Day 1.)
-They returned with an anti-vaping promo, this time highlighting E’s accomplishments prior to joining WWE.
LIV MORGAN IN-RING PROMO
Morgan stood in the ring with a kendo stick/Singapore cane (take your pick). Smith shifted to Morgan’s promo last week (that I said lacked impact) and her attack on Lynch until Lynch attacked the arm, using the ring steps. Saxton then hyped the title match as a graphic displayed. Morgan said last week she challenged Lynch to a rematch at Day 1 and good old Rebecca tried to “ensure herself” by injuring her before the match. She said as her arm was stuck between those steel steps, she knew she couldn’t let Lynch gain the upper hand. She said she knew Lynch would go train at the private gym she owned with her “try-hard husband,” and that she knew she would follow them. She cut to the video of her attacking Lynch with all the stupid highly-produced camera cuts. Morgan attacked someone who wasn’t Lynch, but thwarted an attack from Lynch. Lynch grabbed the kendo stick and struck Morgan a few times, but Morgan hit an enziguri and grabbed the stick, waylaying Lynch until Lynch exited the ring. Lynch yelled at her students to get Morgan, but they didn’t.
Morgan said she’ll admit that Lynch may have been a step ahead of her, but she learned that Lynch is so threatened that she had one of her own students disguised as her. Morgan said she really can’t stand that she had to beat up an innocent woman, but she can’t tell you how happy it made her when she thought it was Lynch. She said that’s the kind of person Lynch is, sacrificing her student for self-gain. She said she welcomes Lynch cheating because at the end of the day, it will be Morgan with her arm raised so Lynch will have all the time in the world to hang out with her baby and her “hot husband.” She said she’s going to break Lynch’s face and become the new champion.
Lynch’s music hit as she strolled out in a fur jacket, title over the left shoulder. There was a slight boo. Lynch said congrats, you foiled her master plan. She said Morgan may have even broken the elbow of the poor woman she attacked. She said that’s OK, you have to crack a couple of eggs to make it, but she’s too strong to be felled by a few shots from a kendo stick. Morgan said it only took one arm to whoop Lynch’s ass. Lynch said Morgan taught her students that everyone gets lucky once, but luck runs out. She gave kudos to Morgan for stepping up more than she thought she would. Lynch said it gets very hot under those light and she doesn’t think Morgan can handle the heat. Morgan said she can’t be scared out of the match because she’s starting the year as the new Women’s Champion. She invited Lynch into the ring to see the spotlight for herself.
Lynch said as much as she would like to go in there and leave Morgan with another bad arm, she’s not an idiot and isn’t going to enter with Morgan wielding the kendo stick. Morgan said no, she didn’t bring this for her, she brought it for Lynch. She tossed it to Lynch. Lynch said don’t insult me and Morgan’s lucky that Lynch has a private jet to catch. She threw down the mic as Morgan laughed and posed to the crowd.
-Smith shifted to another recap of Lashley leaving M.V.P. in the ring, then the Owens and Rollins attack, then E and Lashley fighting them off. They cut to Owens and Rollins arguing in the back as Owens taped his hands. E’s music hit for the second time tonight as he was the first entrant for a tag team match, even though the WWE Champion should always enter last. They cut to break. [c]
(Hazelwood’s Take: So let me get this straight…we’re supposed to cheer Morgan for essentially being a stalker that enacted violence on two women??? She’s plateaued on the mic, and there wasn’t that much improvement to begin with in that department. It’s almost like she thinks that just saying something with force makes it a good line, and yeah, that’s not how it works. The crowd is behind her, though, but I don’t see this as a reign-ender for Lynch.)
-They returned with E in the ring yelling that he’s tired of waiting and for his partner to enter. They did Lashley’s full entrance, and it’s still fantastic; he was in his red tights. Graves hyped the fatal four-way as a graphic displayed. Owens’ music hit first (he re-signed with WWE last week for three more years), followed quickly by Rollins. Owens threw up his hands that his entrance was cut short (haha, that was a nice touch as well). The dynamic between these two is also amazing, great chemistry. They hyped Styles vs. Omos for next week, along with a few other matches.
(7) BIG E (c) & BOBBY LASHLEY vs. KEVIN OWENS & SETH ROLLINS – Tag team match
E and Owens started, with E forcing Owens into the corner. Owens fought out, then rolled outside. Lashley tagged himself in and chased down Owens on the outside with a shoulder tackle. E intercepted Rollins, who leaped from the top rope, sending him outside, right into Lashley, who launched him with a shoulder tackle. They cut to break. [c]
Lashley was beating on Rollins on the outside as they returned. He threw Rollins into the ringside barricade. Rollins rolled into the ring and tried for a suplex, but Lashley countered with a delayed vertical, walking around the ring a bit before waiting in the center of the ring. Lashley even flexed for a good three seconds before landing the suplex. The crowd grew into some big cheers. He called for The Hurt Lock as a brief “Bobby” chant started, but Rollins landed a kick and sent Lashley outside. Owens tagged in and landed a senton to Lashley on the outside, then rolled him back into the ring where he hit another senton for a one-count.
Owens grabbed a front face lock as a “Bobby” chant began. Owens hit a quick kick to the head, then taunted E with a hip swivel. He tagged in Rollins, then both men hit a double suplex. Owens rose with a flexing pose like Lashley, then a suck it as Rollins covered for a two-count. Another “Bobby” chant started. He hit a flatliner and tagged in E, who hit an overhead belly-to-belly twice, then a traditional one. He set for his splash, swiveling over Owens, but clotheslined Rollins over the ropes. Owens rolled him up for two, but ate a corner uranage from E for a two-count.
E set for The Big Ending, but went after Rollins. He turned into an Owens superkick. Owens tagged in Rollins, who hit a picture perfect frogsplash for two. He tagged in Owens, who hit a Swanton for a two-count as Rollins hit a tope to Lashley on the outside. They cut to break. [c]
Owens was stepping on E in the ring as they returned. Owens went for a second rope moonsault, but E moved. Both men crawled and made the tags. Lashley came in and took down Rollins, then hit a nice neckbreaker and an overhead belly-to-belly. He hit a corner clothesline, but Rollins hit a boot on the second one. Lashley leapfrogged Rollins, then lifted him for a running powerslam, but the pin was broken up by Owens. E took out Owens, but Owens got the knee up on E’s spear attempt. Rollins then leapfrogged Lashley’s spear attempt, which instead hit E. Owens tagged in and went for the Stunner, but Lashley countered and hit a spear for the sudden victory. Rollins broke up the pin after the three count.
Owens rolled outside yelling, “Ow, my ribs!” They double teamed Lashley on the outside with stomps. Rollins and Owens grabbed the top steel step and rammed it into E. They set for Lashley and hit him as well. Owens hit a running cannonball to E against the barricade. They then turned to Lashley, and Rollins assisted Owens in hitting Lashley with the powebomb on the apron. Rollins then set the flat bottom step as Owens placed Lashley’s head on the step. Rollins climbed, faked a curb stomp, stepped down, then hit a running one using the stairs. They rolled back into the ring, triumphant, shaking hands. They slowly backed away from each other, then turned and hugged each other with gusto raising each other’s arms. The show ended.
WINNER: Big E & Bobby Lashley at 13:59 (spear)
(Hazelwood’s Take: For what we saw of the match, it was good! Lashley controlling the first part of the match was another smart way to reaffirm why he belongs in the match. However, having E take so much damage doesn’t present your top champion in the best light. That spear mishap looked less contrived than a lot of similar spots; it was actually pretty smooth. That attack after the match was pretty brutal, so it’ll be interesting to see exactly how they build after such an exclamation point with one more Raw until Day 1.)
FINAL THOUGHTS: Since Survivor Series ended, Raw has been a good show. Yes, there have been some questionable booking decisions and segments, but for the most part, the action has been good with stories told well and, for the most part, acceptable to great promo work. I would still prefer a standard singles match for the WWE Championship, but aside from another match with Lashley, I’m not sure if singles matches with the other two would have – to steal from Reigns – moved the needle much. A fatal four-way may be the best option, and I like how they’ve gone about inserting Lashley and telling the interwoven stories between all four men. What’s concerning is Morgan’s plateauing on the mic, especially as she’s the number one contender for the Women’s Championship. I also think some stories were rushed a bit, like Priest taking the count out loss and the breakup of Styles and Omos, which is culminating next week already? Still, Raw is closing out 2021 with a strong run of shows, at least if we’re grading on the curve of Raw since basically the pandemic hit. Let’s hope that continues into the new year and beyond.