By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw on the USA Network
Aired live on December 30, 2019 from Hartford, Connecticut at XL Center
[Hour One] The Raw opening aired and then pyro shot off on the stage… Vic Joseph checked in on commentary and hyped the previously advertised segments. Joseph was joined on commentary by Jerry Lawler…
Kevin Owens made his entrance for a promo. Owens said he was kicking off the new year early with some fireworks. He asked if everyone knew why, then said here’s why. A video package recapped Owens, Rey Mysterio, and Samoa Joe being attacked by Seth Rollins and AOP at various times.
Owens said he keeps getting the hell beaten out of him, but he will take one of the trio down with him. Owens said he was taken to the hospital last week before Mysterio was attacked. He said he knows that attack is why Mysterio lost the U.S. Championship last week. Footage aired of Andrade defeating Mysterio to win the U.S. Championship at the Madison Square Garden house show.
Seth Rollins and the AOP duo of Akam and Rezar made their entrance. Rollins said what happened wasn’t something he chose, it was forced on him by Owens and people who think they know best. Rollins said it’s a sacrifice, meaning he’s sacrificing himself for the greater good by being a leader and a messiah who will take the industry into the next decade.
Owens went to ringside and was attacked by AOP, who threw him into the ring and continued the attack. Rollins entered the ring. Samoa Joe’s music played and he came out and roughed up AOP. Rollins removed his jacket and attacked Joe as he entered the ring, but Joe quickly got the better of Rollins and put him in the Coquina Clutch.
AOP regrouped and attacked Joe to break the hold. Owens returned with a chair and fought AOP. The heels used their numbers advantage until security rand out and pulled everyone apart. Security pulled the heel trio to ringside. Owens went up top and performed a somersault dive onto the pile and the brawl continued going into the break… [C]
Powell’s POV: A good opening segment. I’m not big on the wrestlers setting up video packages when it feels like something that could be covered in a simple recap at the beginning of the show. That said, I liked the way Owens tied in Mysterio’s title loss to the Rollins and AOP attacks.
Lawler and Joseph recapped the opening segment while replay footage aired…
Owens and Joe were shown talking backstage in a locker room when Charly Caruso entered the picture and asked Joe why he opted to get involved in this situation. Joe said Rollins made a choice to never be safe again and that guaranteed that Owens will never stand alone again.
Owens said he’s known a lot of bad people, but he’s never known anyone as bad as Joe and he means that in the nicest way possible. Owens said he was happy to have Joe by his side. He noted that they had been told that security was on their way because they’d been asked to leave the building.
Owens said that seems to happen every week. Security showed up. Joe told them that if anyone touches him then they don’t deal with their fingers anymore. Owens and Joe left the room with security walking behind them…
Powell’s POV: Believe me when I say that I’m not asking for the return of heel authority figures, but who asked Owens and Joe to leave? And why wouldn’t they ask Rollins and AOP to do the same?
1. Aleister Black vs. Buddy Murphy. Both entrances were televised. Black caught Murphy with a kick while Murphy was on the ropes. Murphy sold it like he was out. Black went to the ropes, but Murphy regrouped and went for a sunset bomb. Black held on to the ropes and threw a kick at Murphy, who then tripped up Black on the ropes so that he fell face first onto the ring post. Joseph recalled Murphy breaking the nose of Black at TLC. [C]
The wrestlers were fighting on the apron coming out of the break. Black kicked Murphy into the ring post. Back inside the ring, Black fired kicks at Murphy and targeted his left knee. Black performed a springboard moonsault onto a standing Murphy and then covered him for a two count. Murphy kicked Black to ringside.
Murphy sold his knee before crawling to the ropes. Black fired a kick at Murphy from the floor. Black fired another kick at Murphy, who fell back into the ring. Murphy came back by pulling Black into the corner and ended up pinning him while using the ropes for leverage, but the referee spotted it and stopped his count. Black charged at Murphy, who avoided him and sent Black to ringside. Murphy performed a flip dive onto (and mostly over) Black.
Murphy rolled Black inside the ring, then went up top and performed a double knee press. Murphy grabbed his bad knee and then covered Black for a near fall. A “this is awesome” chant started up and faded. A short time later, Murphy performed a sit-out powerbomb for another near fall.
Murphy taunted Black by lifting his head with his boot. Black wrenched on the bad knee. The wrestlers traded kicks. Murphy caught Black with a knee. Black came right back with a brainbuster for a near fall. Lawler said he came in a Black fan, but he thought he’d be going home a Murphy fan.
Black got to his feet first and lifted Murphy’s head using his foot. Murphy ducked a Black Mass kick. Black rolled up Murphy for a two count, then connected with a Black Mass kick. Black lifted Murphy with his foot again and hit the Black Mass again before pinning him…
Aleister Black defeated Buddy Murphy in 15:40.
Powell’s POV: A strong match. I really hope they have plans for both guys. And hopefully they do a better job of establishing the babyface/heel dynamic. The crowd was receptive as the match went on, but I got the feeling that they didn’t really know which wrestler they were supposed to side with.
Seth Rollins stopped AOP from speaking in their native tongues and asked them what was happening. AOP said nobody was kicking them out. Rollins said management politely asked them to leave. Rollins mocked the idea of having the last Raw of 2019 without him. Security showed up. Rollins told them they were not needed because they were leaving voluntarily…
Powell’s POV: I guess I got my answers in that Rollins and AOP were also asked to leave, and Rollins indicated that “management” was behind those requests.
Lana was getting ready for the wedding when Erick Rowan showed up and took issue with not being invited. Rowan had his pet cage with him and said “we don’t care.” Rowan let out a primal scream and then walked away… An ad for Wednesday’s NXT hyped the year-end awards and the airing of three of the brand’s biggest matches for the first time on television… [C]
A “breaking news” graphic appeared. Joseph spoke of the Randy Orton knee injury while split screen photos showed Orton down in the ring at the Hershey house show, then in a wheelchair (presumably later in the night)…
2. Erick Rowan vs. Kip Stevens. The bell rang and Stevens rolled to ringside when Rowan charged. Stevens went underneath the ring and came out near the animal cage. Rowan attacked him from behind. Back inside the ring, Rowan claw slammed Stevens and scored the pin…
Erick Rowan defeated Kip Stevens in 1:45.
Lana was shown getting reading for the wedding… [C]
Powell’s POV: As I mentioned last week, it feels like they are running out of ideas for the enhancement wrestlers showing interest in the animal cage. And now I wonder if the creative forces have any intention of revealing what’s inside the cage or if it’s something they intend to leave to the imagination of viewers.
Charlotte Flair made her entrances while Joseph hyped the top five matches from 2019 on Tuesday’s WWE Backstage. Flair entered the ring and announced that she was entering the women’s Royal Rumble match. She said she new it was surprising and exciting that she’s in. She then said she knew and the fans knew that she would be in the Rumble match.
Flair said the fans didn’t want her to come out and state the obvious. She said she could talk about being a ten-time champion who main evented WrestleMania (and her other accolades). Flair said she’s the first person male or female of the decade to enter the Rumble.
Flair said she’s tired of talking about how she is the queen of WWE (amen). She said she wants to show everyone why she’s the queen. She said she had her gear on and then challenged someone to come out and bow down to her. Natalya’s entrance theme played and she walked onto the stage going into a break. [C]
Powell’s POV: I’d rather hear Flair talk about entering the Rumble match than listen to her repetitive queen schtick, especially now that we’re getting the male version with King Corbin on Smackdown.
3. Charlotte Flair vs. Natalya. The broadcast team made a big fuss over Flair being in the Rumble match despite her promo making it seem like the most obvious thing in the world.
[Hour Two] Natalya put Flair in a surfboard, which she escaped while a graphic and Joseph hyped an “exclusive interview” with Becky Lynch for after the match. Flair and Natalya ended up at ringside. Natalya suplexed Flair onto the bottom of the entrance ramp and then brought her back to the ring.
Natalya barked at the crowd to shut up at one point. Natalya grabbed Flair and asked her if something she did to her felt good. The broadcast team spoke of Natalya’s aggressive attitude. Flair caught Natalya in a Boston Crab in the ropes for a moment. Natalya fell to ringside.
R-Truth ran out and was chased around the ring by Shelton Benjamin, Eric Young, No Way Jose, and Cedric Alexander. Young entered the ring and ate a big boot from Flair. Truth left through the crowd heading into the break. [C]
The Flair and Natalya match continued without the WWE 24/7 wrestlers. Natalya caught Flair on the ropes and powerbombed her for a near fall. Flair came back with a big boot and a spear for a near fall. A short time later, Flair went for a figure four, but Natalya countered into an inside cradle for a two count. Flair came right back with a big boot and applied the figure eight. Natalya held on for roughy ten seconds before tapping out…
Charlotte Flair beat Natalya in 14:10.
Powell’s POV: A well worked match, but I have no clue who they wanted the fans to cheer or boo again. Flair is the egomaniacal queen, and apparently Natalya once again has a mean streak and is barking at fans.
Becky Lynch was interviewed by Caruso on the backstage interview set. Caruso asked Lynch if she knew when her title match with Asuka would take place. Lynch announced the title match will take place at the Royal Rumble (shocking). Caruso asked how Lynch was able to make the match happen. Lynch said her contract is coming up and she insisted that the match occur before she would even consider discussing a new deal.
Lynch said she could sign one of the biggest contracts in WWE history if she would just shut her mouth and move on and forget about Asuka beating her last year. Lynch said she can’t forget. She said money and status don’t help if you can’t look at yourself in the mirror. Lynch said she doesn’t know if she can beat Asuka, but she’s going to right her record even if it kills her…
Powell’s POV: I like the way Lynch has made it seem like management is trying to protect her, but she won’t go for it and is insisting that she gets another match with Asuka. While it’s not a necessary part of the story they are telling, it definitely feels unique.
Bobby Lashley was shown wearing a sleeveless black jacket without a shirt underneath while smiling at himself in a mirror. Lawler said he looked nervous (huh?)… A Royal Rumble ad aired… [C]
The latest Liv Morgan vignette aired. She said spoke about being different and said she decides when she’s ready and she thinks she’s ready. “Are you?” Morgan asked. Another “to be continued” graphic appeared at the end of the video…
“The OC” trio of AJ Styles, Luke Gallows, and Karl Anderson headed to the ring. Styles set up a video of Gallows and Anderson beating the Viking Raiders, and the trio beating Orton and the Raiders last week.
Anderson said that everyone though the Viking Raiders were unbeatable. He brought up being recognized as the best tag team in the world at Crown Jewel (in Saudi Arabia). Gallows started to speak, but he was quickly interrupted.
“The Street Profits” Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins made their entrance and spoke from the stage. Ford wondered what it mean for him and Dawkins that they beat Anderson and Gallows in their Raw debut match. Styles said it meant that they were lucky. Styles said they’ve had a handful of matches and suggested they stick to their cute skits backstage or risk getting hurt.
Dawkins sad he would feel threatened if it wasn’t coming from three men named after a teen soap opera. Ford sang The OC television series theme song. Gallows said it wasn’t a high school musical and called for them to enter the ring…
4. “The Street Profits” Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins vs. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson (w/AJ Styles). Styles was caught trying to interfere from ringside and was ejected by the referee. [C] Late in the match, Gallows and Anderson set up Dawkins for their finisher, but Ford broke it up. Ford dropkicked Gallows to ringside and then performed a dive onto him. Dawkins put Anderson down, then tagged in Ford, who splashed Anderson and pinned him…
The Street Profits beat Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson in 11:40.
Powell’s POV: So the Viking Raiders destroyed the Street Profits in three minutes, then Gallows and Anderson got the better of the Viking Raiders, and now the Street Profits beat Gallows and Anderson. They are either setting up a Triple Threat tag title match or paying tribute to the parity booking in AEW’s tag team division.
Joseph and Lawler hyped Lynch vs. Asuka for the Raw Women’s Championship for the Royal Rumble… Lana was shown backstage checking out the flowers for her wedding… An ad for Smackdown focused on The Fiend and Daniel Bryan. The narrator said “be careful what you wish for” regarding Bryan earning a title shot… [C]
Backstage, Ford wondered if beating Gallows and Anderson means they are now the best team in the universe. Dawkins said to think bigger and said they are the best team in the multiverse, then started to explain the meaning. Ford brought up the wedding. Dawkins said he was only worried about the bridesmaids. Ford still wants that elusive smoke…
Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder came to the ring for a handicap match. Drew McIntyre delivered a promo as he walked to the ring. He said he’s supposed to be at a disadvantage, but he’s not worried. McIntyre polled the crowd by asking who thinks he should be worried. No one raised their hands. McIntyre asked if Hawkins and Ryder should be worried. A number of people raised their hands. McIntyre climbed onto the apron and was attacked by Hawkins and Ryder…
5. Drew McIntyre vs. Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder in a handicap match. McIntyre battled back quickly and hit a Claymore Kick on Hawkins, and a Future Shock DDT on Ryder. McIntyre placed Ryder over Hawkins and pinned them…
Drew McIntyre beat Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder in 0:50 in a handicap match.
Joseph said Randy Orton would appear to address his knee injury and his future… [C]
Powell’s POV: I continue to hope that McIntyre destroying undercard wrestlers is leading to him winning the Rumble match or doing something big. He’s done more than enough wheel spinning.
Joseph and Lawler hyped Brock Lensar returning, Andrade vs. Rey Mysterio for the U.S. Title, and The Viking Raiders vs. The Street Profits vs. Gallows and Anderson for the Raw Tag Titles for next week’s Raw…
Randy Orton made his entrance using crutches. Orton had a brace on his left knee. A crew member helped Orton get onto the apron, then helped him get to his feet inside the ring. Lawler said Orton has done just about everything there is to do in WWE.
[Hour Three] Orton said there’s a saying in the business that it ain’t ballet. He said there are accidents and injuries and everyone who laces up the boots is aware of the fact that it can happen. Orton said it killed him that he needed help getting into the ring in front of the fans. The crowd chanted “Randy”.
Orton said he’s seen people surrender titles due to injuries and recalled Edge surrendering his entire career due to injury. Orton said he was rambling, but long story short he really screwed up his leg. He said he knew it was bad, but he didn’t know how bad until this morning when the doctors looked at the MRI.
Orton said he would be out a very long time and there’s a good chance that he won’t be able to come back. Fans responded by chanting “no.” Orton said that no matter what happens, he’s going to do everything in his power to make sure someone gets RKO’d at WrestleMania. “That is my promise to you,” Orton said.
AJ Styles interrupted Orton. Styles asked Orton if he was saying that he wouldn’t get to fight him until WrestleMania. Orton mouthed that it wasn’t the time. Styles told him it was the time and it was the place. Styles taunted Orton by asking if The Viper was going to strike. “Huh, Mr. RKO, are you going to strike?” Styles asked. “I don’t think so.”
Styles said he would do something he hadn’t done since he was five. Styles poked at Orton and said he wasn’t touching him. Orton told him off mic not to do it again. Styles asked what Orton would do. Styles said Orton would stand there and take it. Styles said it was funny that fate bit Orton before Orton could bite fate or him.
Styles said he was going to give the fans what they want. Styles said he was putting his arms behind his back and would let The Viper strike. Styles put both arms behind his back and yelled, “Come on.” Styles noted that he was closing his eyes. Styles opened his eyes and said Orton really was hurt. He said he was a patient man and would wait until WrestleMania to take Orton’s bad leg and put it in his calf crusher and retire him.
Styles told Orton he would see him at WrestleMania, then kicked one of his crutches away. Orton hobbled and leaned against the ropes while an “AJ sucks” chant broke out. Orton asked Styles if he knew what the big difference was between them. A fan said something that was censored and Orton acknowledged it with a nod. “You’re patient, I’m not,” Orton told Styles. Orton dropped Styles with an RKO, then stood up and stomped on his leg to show that he was healthy. Orton went to the ropes and played to the crowd…
Powell’s POV: It’s great to see that Orton is healthy despite the scare or swerve or whatever happened at the house show. The angle was fun and Styles did a good job of getting heat before Orton put him down with the RKO.
The broadcast team recapped Andrade defeating Rey Mysterio to win the U.S. Championship at the Madison Square Garden live event. Footage aired from after the match of Mysterio standing backstage and saying that Andrade was the better man, but he was looking forward to his rematch. Mysterio told Rollins and AOP not to count him out. Mysterio said he didn’t start it, but when it’s all over he would be standing tall…
The new U.S. Champion Andrade and Zelina Vega made their entrance. Joseph said Andrade would be in action after the break… [C] Joseph hyped Roman Reigns vs. Dolph Ziggler on the Fox New Year’s Eve special…
6. U.S. Champion Andrade (w/Zelina Vega) vs. a local wrestler in a non-title match. Andrade set up for his finisher when Vega called an audible. Andrade tossed his opponent to ringside, then joined Vega in pulling back the ringside mat while Joseph recalled Andrade hitting Humberto Carrillo with his finisher on the exposed floor.
Ricochet’s music played and he came to ringside before Andrade could execute the move. Ricochet grabbed a mic and said it wasn’t going down like that. Ricochet said that if Andrade was looking for a fight then he should fight him. [C]
Andrade fought a local wrestler to an apparent no-contest.
Powell’s POV: The independent wrestler can now tell his grandchildren that he worked a match with the U.S. Champion and was not pinned and did not submit.
7. U.S. Champion Andrade (w/Zelina Vega) vs. Ricochet in a non-title match. Vega provided an early distraction that led to Ricochet hesitating while on the ropes and then jumping into a dropkick from Andrade. At ringside, Vega pulled the mat back again.
Later, Andrade shoved Ricochet into the barricade and then pointed at the exposed floor. Andrade smiled and went for his finisher on the floor, but Ricochet avoided it and punched Andrade. Ricochet charged at Andrade, who backdropped him onto the exposed floor. [C]
Ricochet hit a standing shooting star press for a near fall. Andrade avoided the Recoil and came back with a spinning elbow that led to a two count. Andrade set up for the hammerlock DDT, but Ricochet avoided it. Ricochet put Andrade down and went up top, but Vega shoved him back into the ring while the referee was checking on Andrade like a dope. Andrade hit his hammerlock DDT finisher and scored the pin…
Andrade defeated Ricochet in 11:15 in a non-title match.
Lana was shown posing for photos while Lawler hyped the wedding… [C]
Powell’s POV: The match was entertaining, but I’m disappointed that they didn’t treat Andrade’s title win with more fanfare. This felt like a great opportunity to let Vega shine on the mic with a gloating promo while also putting to rest the oddball story of her and Andrade teasing a split, which never led to anything.
Backstage, Vega pumped up Andrade about being champion. Sarah Schreiber approached them and asked about his title match with Mysterio. Vega spoke about Andrade beating Mysterio again. Andrade boasted that he’s the U.S. Champion…
Joseph and Lawler stood at their desk and hyped Brock Lesnar appearing on next week’s show. They also hyped the previously announced U.S. and Raw Tag Title matches…
There was a giant wedding cake and flowers inside the ring, and and a few rows of white chairs positioned on the stage. The minister (who sadly was not Eric Bischoff in makeup) introduced Bobby Lashley as the groom. Lashley came out wearing his sleeveless tuxedo without a shirt underneath. The minister introduced Lana as the Ravishing Russian. Joseph hyped “the wedding of the decade” for after the break. [C]
The minister read from his script. There were some boos. The minster mentioned something about the pitter patter of little feet. Lana said she didn’t want a monster coming out of her and didn’t want that line in the script. A “Rusev Day” chant broke out. “This is not about Rusev,” Lana yelled.
The minister continued. The Rusev Day chants broke out again. Lana yelled “shut up” at the fans. She said it was her day and it was all about her. Lana read her vows and said it was the luckiest day of Lashley’s entire life because he was marrying the greatest WWE Superstar of all time and the greatest woman who has ever lived. Lana said Lashley has strived for excellence throughout his life and she’s the greatest gift that he could give himself.
The Rusev Day chants grew louder. Lana responded by saying “Lana Day” repeatedly. Lana said this was the greatest moment of Lashley’s career, life, and manhood. She said she wanted to jump on top of him and make love. Lana jumped into Lashley’s arms and they made out.
The minister said it was Lashley’s turn. Lana said she took so much time preparing his vows. Lashley read from a piece of paper while saying he’s the luckiest man on the planet because he’s marrying a woman that no other woman on the planet can compare to. Fans gave Lashley the “What?” treatment. Lana said it’s not what, it’s who, and it’s all about her. Lashley went back to reading his script, which echoed what Lana said earlier.
The minister said that was a bit different and called for them to get to the rings. Lashley placed the ring on Lana’s finger and then repeated the lines that minister read first. Lana cut off the minister and said “we got it, let’s keep this going.” Lana took her turn and said Lashley promised her everything she wanted in life because it’s about her and her Bobby.
[Overrun] The minister said he was dreading the next part. He said that if anyone had any objections. An unknown man walked out dressed in a suit and said it was a charade and it should not be allowed to continue. The minister asked who the man was. The man entered the ring and introduced himself as Lana’s first husband. He said they got married the day she turned 18 and then she left him for “that son of a bitch Rusev and then she left that son of a bitch for this son of a bitch.”
The man told Lashley that she would leave him the moment something better comes along. Lashley grabbed the man and slammed him. The minister asked for any objections. He was about to pronounce them as married when a woman objected and headed to the ring.
The woman introduced herself as Lashley’s first wife. She said they met when Lashley was in the military and it was beautiful. Lana knocked the woman off the apron and threw a tantrum. The minister called for additional objections.
Liv Morgan came out and said the wedding had to stop. She said the love of her life is right there. She said she wouldn’t have made it through the year if it wasn’t for their love. “How could you do this to me?” Morgan asked. Lashley said he’d never touched Morgan and had no idea what she was talking about.
“Oh, no, no, no, no,” Morgan said. “I’m not talking about Bobby.” The oblivious crowd gasped. “I’m not talking about Bobby, I’m talking about Lana,” Morgan said. A “yes” chant broke out. Lana tried to cry and eventually approached Morgan and slapped her across the face. Lana and Morgan had a catfight style brawl. Lana ended up on top of Morgan and slapped her. Referees and agents pulled them apart.
Lana demanded that the minister continue. The minister was about to name them husband and wife when Rusev exited the giant cake in the least surprising moment in television history. Rusev, who was wearing a bowtie along with a t-shirt and jeans, attacked Lashley. Rusev taunted Lana and then went back to roughing up Lashley. Morgan returned and shoved Lana’s face into the cake. Lana slapped Rusev as the show went off the air…
Powell’s POV: The very worst of the Attitude Era just closed out the final Raw of 2019. Wrestling weddings are typically good for ratings, but this felt really flat throughout the night. The buildup during the show was bland and WWE just didn’t make this feel like an event. And given the over the top antics in the ceremony, I’m surprised they didn’t make this feel bigger. I’m all for some soap opera style storytelling, but this didn’t do anything for me and it didn’t leave me looking forward to seeing where any of these characters go next. Dot Net Members will hear my weekly same night audio review of Raw coming up shortly. Let me know what you thought of the show by voting in our post show poll on the main page. Thanks for watching along with me tonight and thanks for a great 2019.