12/25 Powell’s WWE Raw Live TV Review: John Cena returns on the Christmas edition, Roman Reigns vs. Samoa Joe for the Intercontinental Title, Sheamus and Cesaro vs. Seth Rollins and Jason Jordan for the Raw Tag Titles

By Jason Powell

WWE Raw on the USA Network
Live from Chicago, Illinois at Allstate Arena

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[Q1] Michael Cole wished viewers a Merry Christmas and welcomed viewers to Raw. John Cena made his entrance. The stage was filled with gift boxes and Christmas trees. Cole said there were 13,201 fans in attendance in the sold out venue. Cole was joined on commentary by Corey Graves and Booker T..

Powell’s POV: Meanwhile, Dot Net reader Craig noted that “tickets are as low as $5 from area brokers” with some “trying to do a double package deal with the Bears game yesterday.” Ouch.

Cena stopped at ringside and said there was a young fan in the crowd who was wearing the wrong colored hat and shirt. Cena gave the fan his own shirt and hat. Fans chanted “Merry Christmas.” Cena said he loves the holidays because it’s all about togetherness. He said wherever he goes the WWE fans are his family. He said they’ve had ups and downs, but he can also look around and see them all together.

Elias’s guitar interrupted Cena. Elias walked onto the stage with his guitar and introduced himself. Elias said WWE stands for “Walk With Elias”. Funny. Elias entered the ring and asked who wants to walk with him. There were loud boos and then a “Yes” chant broke out. Cena said the guys who started the Christmas chant want to walk with Elias. “Yeah, I’ll walk with Elias,” Cena said.

Elias said he’s tired of being interrupted. A “CM Punk” chant started. Elias said it’s for damn sure that Punk wouldn’t interrupt him. Cena said it’s Christmas and they were in Chicago and the fans love their fellow Chicagoans so it was cool. Another brief Punk chant started. Cena tried to give Elias advice, but Elias cut him off and eventually put his index finger over Cena’s mouth. Cena got a stool from ringside and set it up in the ring for Elias.

Elias sang “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” and changed the words to rip on Chicago by saying he couldn’t imagine a worse place to spend his holiday. Cena interrupted him and said he was trying to tell him earlier not to say anything bad about Chicago. Cena praised the Chicago fans and said that Elias was being a jerk. Elias said he never thought of it that way. Elias said maybe Cena was right and said he’d like another shot at the song.

Elias changed the lyrics to pro-Chicago. He told Cena to take it away. Cena started singing and then Elias punched him. Cena sold it like he’d been shot. Elias said Christmas is overrated and so is Chicago. Cena started to get up, but Elias put him back down and put the boots to him. Elias said Santa didn’t think of him so he was giving himself a gift. Elias called for a referee so they could have a match. A referee ran out and ring announcer JoJo told the crowd the match was starting immediately…

[Q2] 1. John Cena vs. Elias. Cena sold the pre-match attack by selling for Elias to start. Cena came back with punches, an armdrag, and a side headlock takedown. Elias bounced back and ended up performing a double stomp on Cena, who was tied up in the tree of woe. Elias remained in offensive control several minutes and got a two count off a powerbomb at 8:10.

Cena came back at 10:15. Elias rolled to ringside to avoid the Five Knuckle Shuffle. Cena followed him to ringside and rolled him back inside the ring. When Cena returned, Elias clotheslined him and covered him for a two count.

[Q3] Later, Cena came back with the Five Knuckle Shuffle sequence and hoisted up Elias and hit the Attitude Adjustment for the win…

John Cena beat Elias in 16:05.

Powell’s POV: A long match that made Elias look strong in defeat. It was a little plodding at times and the lack of commercial breaks during hour one may not have actually worked against them in that some of the slower parts could have been covered up had there been a break. Still, it says a lot that Elias was put in this match with Cena and was given so much offense before he took the pin.

A Samoa Joe video package aired…

Backstage, Jason Jordan showed up in Kurt Angle’s office. They hugged and exchanged Christmas greetings. Seth Rollins showed up and noted that Angle wanted to see him. Rollins said he wanted Samoa Joe in a match after he put Ambrose on the shelf. Jordan said he was sorry about Ambrose, but he wanted his match with Joe. Rollins and Jordan bickered. Angle booked them as a team to challenge Sheamus and Cesaro for the Raw Tag Titles later in the show.

Roman Reigns entered the picture after Rollins and Jordan walked away. Angle told Reigns that Samoa Joe was all his. “Merry Christmas,” Angle said. “By the way, it’s a championship match.” Reigns was pleased and walked away…

The broadcast team spoke about how it was a great Christmas present for the fans that there would be two title matches on Raw…

Charly Caruso interviewed Brian Kendrick and Jack Gallagher in the ring. Kendrick did the talking about Hideo Itami, who was then introduced as his oppponent…

2. Hideo Itami vs. Brian Kendrick (w/Jack Gallagher). Itami jumped out to the quick start and yelled, “You all have to respect me.” Kendrick took advantage of Gallagher providing a distraction and went on the offensive. Itami came back while Cole praised him as one of the best offensive innovators they have seen in WWE. Itami delivered some strikes, including a back fist. Itami connected with a running dropkick in the corner and then signaled for his finisher. Itami hit the GTS for the win…

Hideo Itami beat Brian Kendrick in 4:00.

Powell’s POV: The Chicago crowd gasped at how good the GTS looked. They didn’t really rally behind Itami before or during the match, but they liked the finisher. I was wondering if some less informed fans would view it as Itami copying Punk’s finisher, but it seemed like they either knew that Itami is the innovator of the move or they just didn’t care that someone other than Punk was performing the GTS.

[Q4] The broadcast team set up a video package on last week’s women’s Royal Rumble match announcement…

Backstage, Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas were wearing intentionally bad Christmas sweaters when Sasha Banks, Bayley, and Mickie James walked through. Axel and Dallas sang a Christmas carol about The Miz and themselves. Some fans cheered loudly. The ladies were not impressed. “Merry Mizmas,” Axel and Dallas said…

3. Paige, Mandy Rose, and Sonya Deville vs. Bayley, Sasha Banks, and Mickie James. Bayley received a nice reaction when she tagged into the match for the first time. Paige also got a nice reaction when she tagged in as the heels isolated Banks in their corner around 4:20. The broadcast team raved about Rose as she took her turns working over Banks.

[Q5] Bayley took a hot tag from Sasha and worked over Paige around 8:45. Bayley hit her finisher on Paige, but Rose and Deville pulled Paige to ringside to break up the pin. Banks and James ran over and fought off Rose and Deville on the floor. Bayley went to the top rope, but Paige cut her off and then put her down with the Rampaige for the win…

Paige, Mandy Rose, and Sonya Deville defeated Bayley, Sasha Banks, and Mickie James in 10:10.

Powell’s POV: It’s good to see the heel trio get some juice back. It’s interesting that the broadcast team gushed over Rose as much as they did here. Paige is still very much the leader, but it seems like Rose has some supporters and for good reason.

The broadcast team narrated footage from last week of Seth Rollins performing a suicide dive that took out Dean Ambrose, Samoa Joe, and Cesaro. They also showed the heel trio attacking Rollins and Ambrose backstage. Both moments were used to explain Ambrose’s triceps injury. Cole announced that Ambrose had surgery. Cole said he could be out of action up to nine months…

Backstage, Renee Young interviewed Samoa Joe. She asked if he had any remorse over what happened to Ambrose. “I have to admit, absolutely not,” Joe responded. Joe said Ambrose can now be at home with the people he loves the most on the holidays. Joe shifted the focus to facing Roman Reigns for the Intercontinental Championship later in the show…

Kane was shown walking backstage… An ad hyped the Raw 25 event for January 22… [C]

Powell’s POV: I love the way the Ambrose injury was handled. A heel Ambrose could always blame Rollins for the injury. For that matter, he could also blame the heels if they opt to bring him back as a babyface. Either way, Rollins and Reigns can point to the attack by the heels as they seek vengeance while Ambrose is sidelined. For those not watching the show, Young showed more disappointment than usual and made it seem awkward that she was interviewing Joe. Her relationship with Ambrose was not directly acknowledged, but it was a nice touch to have her interview one of the men blamed in the storyline for injuring her real life husband.

Kane made his entrance as a video recapped his recent drama with Braun Strowman and how both men will be challenging for the WWE Universal Championship at the Royal Rumble. Heath Slater and Rhyno made their entrance…

4. Kane vs. Heath Slater (w/Rhyno). A pre-taped promo aired with Slater saying his kids didn’t get any presents this year because Kurt Angle threatened his livelihood. Rhyno said Angle told Slater to toughen up. Kane dominated the match.

[Q6] Slater ended up at ringside and wanted to leave, but Rhyno stopped him and tried to fire him up. ‘You’ve got this,” Rhyno said. Kane won with a chokeslam moments later.

Kane pinned Heath Slater in 2:20.

After the match, Kane grabbed Rhyno by the throat. Rhyno fought off Kane, but when he went for the Gore, Kane grabbed him by the throat and put him down with a chokeslam… The broadcast team hyped the Raw Tag Title match for later in the show… [C]

Powell’s POV: There should be a Toys For Slater’s Tots fundraiser (the toys can be donated to the real Toys For Tots). Meanwhile, it’s nice to see them doing a little something with Rhyno and Slater on Raw. They had a nice run on Smackdown and the fans still like both men.

Curt Hawkins stood in the ring and said it was time that he be the person to face the facts. He said 2017 wasn’t kind to his win/loss record, but the year wasn’t over and he felt like a Christmas miracle was in the air. Hawkins issued an open challenge and said his 146-match losing streak would end. Finn Balor made his entrance…

5. Finn Balor vs. Curt Hawkins. Booker compared Hawkins to Barry Horowitz and Dusty Wolfe. He questioned how they broke through and got a win. Graves questioned if Balor had become the Cleveland Browns of WWE. Hawkins rolled up Balor a couple time for two counts. Balor came right back with his signature offense and got the win following the Coup De Grace. Cole said Hawkins had now lost 147 matches in a row…

Finn Balor pinned Curt Hawkins in 1:30.

The broadcast team hyped the Intercontinental Championship match… [C] An ad for NXT TV hyped the four-way match between Killian Dain Johnny Gargano, Aleister Black, and Lars Sullivan that will determine the No. 1 contender to NXT Champion Andrade Almas…

Powell’s POV: I still like the idea of Hawkins being cast as a lovable loser who eventually scores the upset win over a heel. They seemed to start down that road for a week, but then he and his losing streak seemed to disappear from Raw. Hopefully this is a sign that they are going to have some fun with it.

[Q7] Cole congratulated the Bella Twins on reaching one million subscribers on Youtube…

Axel and Dallas were all smiles as they walked backstage spreading Christmas cheer. They sang a Christmas carol (intentionally badly) for Goldust and gave him The Miz’s “Santa’s Little Helper” on DVD. After they left, Titus O’Neil, Dana Brooke, and Apollo Crews entered the picture. Goldust re-gifted the DVD by giving it to Titus…

A Bray Wyatt promo aired. Wyatt said Matt Hardy gives the people something to believe in, but he’s actually just using them for his own gain. Wyatt said Hardy is surrounded by darkness, his fireflies, and Sister Abigail. “Chicago, I’m here,” Wyatt said to cheers…

Bray Wyatt made his entrance. Once he got in the ring, Matt Hardy attacked him from behind. Hardy went for a Twist of Fate, but Wyatt avoided it and fled the ring. Fans chanted “Delete” and Hardy did the gesture. Hardy took the mic and laughed and made noises. A “Woken” graphic flashed to end the segment…

Sheamus and Cesaro complained in their locker room about having to defend the Raw Tag Titles on Christmas. The fans could be heard chanting “Hardy” as they spoke. Sheamus gave Cesaro a Dean Ambrose action figure as a Christmas gift. Cesaro noted that it was authentic because it was missing an arm. Cesaro gave Sheamus the gift of a Seth Rollins action figure. Sheamus said he couldn’t wait to break it just like they would break the real thing later in the show. Sheamus pulled out a Jason Jordan action figure. Cesaro said Rollins doesn’t want Jordan as a partner and Angle doesn’t want Jordan as his son…

Christmas trees were being set up at ringside. Cole said there was going to be a Miracle on 34th Street Fight involving the cruiserweights (DRINK)… [C]

Powell’s POV: The Wyatt and Hardy segment was disappointingly short, though obviously the idea is for this to be a slow burn. The Chicago crowd loved Hardy and even gave Wyatt one of the better pops he’s had on television in some time. Meanwhile, Sheamus and Cesaro exchanging action figures was good fun. The Miracle on 34th Street Fight? God help us.

[Q8] Enzo Amore came out dressed as Santa Claus. Drew Gulak and Ariya Daivari came out dressed as elves and they all did Enzo’s dance on the stage. Enzo did his usual schtick and the crowd was lively. Cedric Alexander, Mustafa Ali, and Akira Tozawa were in the ring. Enzo said they all received a lump of cole and noted that he wasn’t talking about the unfortunate gift of Michael Cole…

6. Cedric Alexander, Mustafa Ali, and Akira Tozawa vs. Enzo Amore, Drew Gulak, and Ariya Daivari in a Miracle on 34th Street Fight. Cole hyped Enzo vs. Alexander for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship for next week’s New Year’s Day edition of Raw. The babyface trio cleared the ring. Tozawa and Ali performed cool dives onto Gulak and Daivari heading into a break. [C]

Coming out of the break, there were gift boxes and trees in the ring and the heels were in control. Alexander used a kendo stick painted like a candy cane as a weapon. He ended up hitting a Lumbar Check on Daivari for the win…

Cedric Alexander, Mustafa Ali, and Akira Tozawa defeated Enzo Amore, Drew Gulak, and Ariya Daivari in a Miracle on 34th Street Fight in 7:45.

Cole hyped the IC Title match as coming up next… [C]

Powell’s POV: I spent the post commercial break part of the match worrying that someone was going to land on one of the stray bulbs that fell off the trees. If you’ve ever broken one of those things then you know how sharp they are. Anyway, holiday themed nonsense matches do nothing for me, but this wasn’t overly insulting in that it we didn’t see much of it since it aired during the commercial break, the heels looked like fools while the babyfaces did their usual thing, and they framed it as a momentum building win for Alexander heading into his title match next week. This could have been so much worse.

[Q9] Backstage, Enzo and Nia Jax found themselves under the mistletoe. The crowd roared in approval. Just as they were about to kiss, Alexa Bliss crashed the scene and told Jax they had to go because of something involving the first women’s Royal Rumble match. Nia looked disappointed and had to leave. “Well, Merry Christmas to you too,” a frustrated Enzo said to Bliss…

Renee Young interviewed Roman Reigns on the interview set and asked him about what Samoa Joe had to say. Reigns said he didn’t care about what Joe had to say. He said he wasn’t leaving Chicago without his title, and Joe would learn that if you hurt one of his brothers then he will hurt you…

Ring entrances for the IC Title match took place. Fans chanted Joe’s name during his entrance. Reigns received a mixed reaction…

7. Roman Reigns vs. Samoa Joe for the Intercontinental Championship. JoJo delivered in-ring introductions for the title match. Reigns went right at Joe once the bell rang. Booker said Reigns had a lot of pent up emotion and predicted that it would work against him. Reigns connected with a Drive By kick around 1:00. There were dueling “Let’s Go Roman” and “Roman Sucks” chants. Joe battled back and connected with a enzuigiri in the corner that led to a two count. [C] Reigns performed a Samoan drop for a two count. Joe came back with a uranage for a two count of his own.

[Q10] Joe applied the Coquina Clutch at 9:50. Reigns reached out to grab the rope, but Joe hooked that arm with his leg. Reigns eventually reached the ropes to break the hold. Reigns ended up at ringside. Joe performed a suicide dive. Reigns grabbed his elbow in pain (playing off the Dean Ambrose injury angle). Back in the ring, Joe targeted the elbow. Reigns headbutted his way free and then threw punches at Joe in the corner. The referee pulled Reigns out of the corner and hooked his arm when Reigns went back to putting the boots to Joe. Reigns shoved the referee away and the ref called for the bell…

Samoa Joe defeated Roman Reigns by DQ in 12:10.

Reigns hit Joe with a Superman Punch and knocked him to ringside. Reigns followed and hit him with another punch. Reigns ran Joe into the ring post twice. Reigns took the ring steps apart and struck Joe with the top half. Multiple referees tried to talk Joe down, but Joe hit him with the steps again. Joe picked up a chair and swung it at Joe, who moved his arm just in time as the chair hit the post instead. Joe headed backstage while referees and agents held Reigns back…

Seth Rollins was smiling as he watched the match on a backstage monitor. Jason Jordan entered the room. Rollins told him to save him the speech about putting their differences aside. Rollins said his concern is beating The Bar and winning the tag titles. He made it clear that another moral victory wouldn’t cut it. Jordan said Rollins had to admit that he makes a good replacement for Ambrose. Rollins intensely told Jordan that as good as he thinks he is, he will never be better than Ambrose. “Right, I’ll be better,” Jordan said… [C]

Powell’s POV: The finish to the IC Title match was disappointing, but it was also logical in terms of keeping his feud going. The post match attack by Reigns felt like it was all about making Reigns look like a badass and not about setting up a rematch. I would have preferred to see an intense and even brawl between the two. That said, this was nothing that a good revenge beatdown from Joe can’t make right.

[Q11] Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas were in the ring wearing their bad sweaters coming out of the break. Axel said they were excited because Kurt Angle told them they had a Secret Santa match. They sang “Jingle Bells” until Braun Strowman’s music interrupted them…

8. Braun Strowman vs. Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas in a Secret Santa match. Strowman destroyed both men and put Dallas away with a running powerslam. Afterward, Strowman turned his attention to Axel. A “one more time” chant broke out. Strowman obliged with a powerslam. The fans asked for another, Strowman scooped up Dallas and slammed him, then performed another on Axel…

Braun Strowman vs. Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas in a Secret Santa match in 1:00.

Alexa Bliss was shown walking backstage. Graves said she would address the fans after the break… [C]

Powell’s POV: You could see Strowman coming a mile away and that’s part of what made it so fun. By the way, Miz was actually advertised for this show on the WWE live events page, but there’s been no sign of him.

A “25 Years of Raw” flashback video focussed on 1-2-3 Kid (Sean Waltman) pinning Razor Ramon (Scott Hall) in the big upset match. Cole noted that they were counting down to the anniversary show in four weeks…

Alexa Bliss wished the fans a Merry Christmas. She said she was giving them the gift of a goddess. She said she likes to take the time to reflect. She said 2017 has been her year. She said she dominated “like a freakin’ Jedi from Star Wars.” She told the fans that she did it without them before and she didn’t need them now. She said the women’s had their faces against the glass ceiling and she punched right through it.

Bliss set up footage of Stephanie McMahon announcing the women’s Royal Rumble match. Bliss said she’s watched the footage a hundred times and she still gets cold chills. She told the fans “you’re welcome” because every historic moment that’s happening is because of her.

Asuka’s entrance music cut off Bliss’s promo and she headed to the ring. Asuka called for a mic and danced to her music as she approached Bliss. “I’m entering the women’s Royal Rumble match,” Asuka said. “And I will win because nobody is ready for Asuka.” Asuka dropped the mic and smiled at a nervous Bliss. Asuka blasted Bliss with a kick to the side of the head and then stood over her and smiled…

Powell’s POV: A good angle to set up Asuka’s Royal Rumble match entry and to tease the possibility of her challenging Bliss for the Raw Women’s Championship at WrestleMania. It’s unclear whether Asuka could challenge Charlotte for the Smackdown Women’s Championship or if she or another winner would have to challenge the champion of their brand. I wish they would make that clear for the men and the women. They would be wise to say it’s open because even if it’s not something they want to do this year, they may want to do it somewhere down the road.

[Q12] [C] Seth Rollins made his entrance while they aired highlights of the Ambrose injury angle from last week. Jason Jordan made his entrance and he smiled once in the ring while Rollins glared at him. Sheamus and Cesaro made their entrance…

9. Sheamus and Cesaro vs. Seth Rollins and Jason Jordan for the Raw Tag Titles. JoJo delivered in-ring introductions for the title match. Sheamus and cesaro worked over Jordan, but Rollins made a hot tag and ended up hitting them with a suicide dive. Rollins helped up Jordan from the corner. “Let’s go, Chicago,” Rollins yelled to the crowd heading into a break a couple minutes into the match. [C]

Sheamus and Cesaro isolated Rollins for a long stretch coming out of the break. Jordan ended up entering the ring and clotheslining Sheamus. Rollins crawled to his corner and made the hot tag. Sheamus came back with a stiff clothesline. Cesaro applied a Sharpshooter. Jordan came back with an inside cradle for a two count.

Sheamus and Cesaro teamed up for a Doomsday Device. Rollins leapt off the top rope, but Cesaro caught him, but it was enough to stop the ref’s count. At 14:00, Sheamus put Jordan in a cloverleaf. Jordan reached the ropes to break the hold. Sheamus tagged in Cesaro, who went to the ropes. Rollins grabbed Cesaro’s foot. Sheamus hit White Noise on Jordan.

Sheamus went to ringside after Rollins and ended up being run into the steps. Cesaro performed an uppercut on Rollins. Cesaro returned to the ring where Jordan popped him up and performed a neckbreaker on the way down before pinning Cesaro…

Seth Rollins and Jason Jordan defeated Sheamus and Cesaro in 15:10 to win the Raw Tag Titles.

Rollins and Jordan celebrated after the match as Jordan’s music played. Graves said Jordan winning tag titles with two different partners proves he’s legit. He also guaranteed that Dean Ambrose was smiling as he watched Rollins and Jordan win the tag titles…

Powell’s POV: The crowd seemed more surprised than excited by the tag title change. They seemed to like it, but it wasn’t the type of red hot reaction you’d expect for a tag title change. I’m not a big fan of Sheamus and Cesaro losing the titles again so quickly, but I guess this is one way to heat up the new Rollins and Jordan tag team. It will be interesting to see if there is a renewed attempt to get Jordan over as a long term babyface or if this merely delays and ultimately plays into a heel run. For that matter, they can also use the fact that Rollins found a new partner and won the tag titles a week after Ambrose as injured as fuel for an Ambrose heel turn somewhere down the road.

Overall, I can’t say the idea of Raw on Christmas was very appealing going in. Fortunately it was a straight forward show with minimal holiday campiness. It was also more newsworthy than expected with the tag title change. Thanks to those who watched along with me tonight and a very Merry Christmas to those who celebrate the holiday. I will be by on Tuesday with a member exclusive audio review rather than later this evening due to the holiday.


Readers Comments (2)

  1. There are a lot of ways they can go with Ambrose, Rollins and Jordan moving forward- but my first thought after the tag title switch was this is probably a short-term thing, meant to get the titles on Dash & Dawson without going heel vs. heel.

  2. What? Seth Rollin and Jesan Jorden The New Tag Team Champion…
    Love You Jhon Cena and Thanks For The Artical

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