By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw (Episode 1,541)
Live from Washington, D.C. at Capital One Arena
Aired December 5, 2022 on USA Network
[Hour One] The Raw opening aired and then pyro shot off on the stage. Kevin Patrick and Corey Graves were on commentary, and Mike Rome was the ring announcer.
“The Bloodline” members Jimmy Uso, Jey Uso, Sami Zayn, and Solo Sikoa made their entrance. Footage aired from earlier in the day of the group arriving at the building and being approached by Byron Saxton for an interview. Matt Riddle drove through on his scooter. Elias walked around the corner and was hit from behind by Solo Sikoa. The Bloodline members put the boots to Elias and left him lying.
Jimmy told the crowd that The Bloodline is now in their city. Jimmy said he had bad news in that their tag title match had been cancelled. Matt Riddle made his entrance and said it wasn’t cool of The Bloodline to take out his tag team partner. Riddle noted that it was Elias’s chance to get WWE gold.
Riddle said it wasn’t very Ucey of the The Bloodline. “Hold up, my dawg,” Zayn told Riddle. Zayn said Riddle isn’t the one who decides what is and is not Ucey. Zayn labeled himself an Uceologist. Zayn said what Sikoa did to Elias was Ucey. Zayn said that the Usos being the longest reigning tag team champions in history is Ucey.
Zayn said Riddle coming out and thinking he had a chance to beat The Bloodline was not Ucey. Zayn told Riddle that unless he wanted to suffer the same fate as Elias, he should turn around and go home. Riddle said he found a tag team partner for the title match. Riddle said he’s not really bros with his partner, but they both hate The Bloodline.
Kevin Owens made his entrance. Owens and Riddle headed to the ring for the tag title match. Patrick played up the fact that the Usos didn’t have a chance to prepare for facing Owens…
Powell’s POV: I’m surprised they didn’t run the injury angle online and announce Owens as his replacement, because the new match is much more appealing that the advertised match. I wonder if they will do something similar on Friday with Drew McIntyre, who announced today that he won’t be medically cleared to team with Sheamus to challenge for the tag team titles on Friday night.
1. Jimmy Uso and Jey Uso (w/Sami Zayn, Solo Sikoa) vs. Matt Riddle and Kevin Owens for the Undisputed WWE Tag Team Titles. Owens got off to a strong start, causing Jey to head to ringside. Owens followed and ran Jey into the barricade heading into a commercial break. [C]
The Usos took offensive control. Jey popped up Riddle and hit him with a neckbreaker that resulted in a near fall heading into another break. [C] Late in the match, Riddle sent Jey to ringside. Zayn helped Jey to his feet. Owens came over, but Sikoa went face to face with him.
Riddle went for a dive onto The Bloodline members, but Zayn pulled Jey out of the way, so Riddle only landed on Sikoa. Jey took out Owens with a superkick. Riddle barked at Zayn, then returned to the ring, not realizing that Jimmy had tagged in. The Usos hit 1D on Riddle and then Jimmy pinned him…
Jimmy Uso and Jey Uso defeated Matt Riddle and Kevin Owens in 14:10 to retain the Undisputed WWE Tag Team Titles.
After the match, the Usos and Zayn attacked Riddle. Owens returned to the ring and hit the Usos with chairs, which caused Zayn to run away. Owens chased the heels to the back. In the ring, Sikoa superkicked Riddle and then threw punches at him. Sikoa picked up Riddle and used his taped thumb to spike Riddle. Sikoa performed a hip attack on Riddle in the corner.
Sikoa went to ringside and brought back a chair. Sikoa wrapped the chair around Riddle’s head and hit him with another hip attack. Riddle sold neck damage while Sikoa looked down at him. Sikoa put his hood up and walked to the back while EMTs stretchered Riddle out of the ring. Sikoa stopped near the stage and looked back… [C]
Powell’s POV: The usual quality entertaining tag team title defense from the Usos. I’m surprised they didn’t do the angle to set up the match for later in the show rather than diving right into it. It’s already a big night for Sikoa, who has taken out Elias and Riddle. On a side note, no luck for those of you who were hoping to see the second part of the Teddy Hart true crime documentary after Raw tonight. USA Network is airing Barmageddon instead.
The broadcast team hyped the the Triple Threat qualifiers for next week’s No. 1 contender match for a shot at the Raw Women’s Championship…
Rhea Ripley delivered a promo about facing Asuka and Bayley later in the show while Dominik Mysterio, Finn Balor, and Damian Priest stood by. She said the whole locker room would call her Mami… The broadcast team recapped highlights of the opening match finish and the post match angle…
JBL’s Poker Invitational was taking place with various wrestlers playing at a pair of tables backstage. JBL welcomed the wrestlers to his poker game. Luke Gallows, Karl Anderson Chad Gable, and Baron Corbin were playing at one table while Mia Yim and Otis stood by. The second table had Dominik Mysterio, Akira Tozawa, Shelton Benjamin, Dana Brooke, and Tamina. Dexter Lumis and Johnny Gargano showed up. Lumis had his bag of cash that he won from Miz. JBL was going to blow him off, but he dumped the cash on the table and was then allowed to play…
Bayley made her entrance. Becky Lynch walked out from the old Shield entrance area with a mic in hand (Bob didn’t make the trip this week). Lynch said she was reminiscing about beating up Bayley and her friends at the merchandise table. Lynch walked down the steps and entered the ring while talking about how long it had been since she and Bayley had a singles match.
Lynch said Bayley carried the company on her back during the ThunderDome era. Lynch said that she returned and then Bayley was gone, and then when Bayley returned Lynch ended up being gone. Bayley took issue with Lynch interrupting her and said Lynch thinks she can do whatever she wants. Lynch confirmed that to be true.
Bayley said the spotlight is always on Lynch when she’s around. Lynch smiled and looked to the crowd, which responded with a Becky chant. Bayley said Lynch doesn’t care about the fans. Bayley claimed that she cares about everyone. Bayley scolded the fans for not caring about what’s she’s trying to do for the company. Another “Becky” chant broke out.
Lynch said Damage CTRL have been successful, then corrected herself and said that 2/3 of the group are champions while the other is a loser. Lynch said she hopes Bayley wins her match so they could go one-on-one and make some history if she’s woman enough to face The Man. Lynch left the ring.
Rhea Ripley made her entrance as Lynch was walking toward the back. Ripley and Lynch stared one another down. A referee came out and tried to talk them down while they stared at one another intensely. Ripley walked past Lynch and they both turned and maintained eye contact. Ripley teased going to the ring, then went face to face with Lynch again. Lynch wished her good luck and then Ripley headed to the ring… [C]
Powell’s POV: While I can get excited about seeing Lynch vs. Bayley in terms of assuming it will be a strong match, it doesn’t mean much right now because Bayley has struggled since she returned. Conversely, Lynch vs. Ripley feels like a money match.
Asuka made her entrance for the first Triple Threat match…
2. Asuka vs. Bayley vs. Rhea Ripley in a Triple Threat qualifier for next week’s No. 1 contender match. Graves said he hoped to see a return to form for Asuka, who was among the most feared wrestler in the company not all that long ago. Ripley used her power on both opponents to gain an early advantage. Asuka and Bayley teamed up to run Ripley through the ropes and into the ring post. Bayley took Asuka to ringside and ran her into the barricade. Ripley returned to diving from the apron onto both opponents heading into a break. [C]
[Hour Two] Asuka caught Ripley in an armbar, but Bayley leapt off the middle rope onto Asuka to break it up, then covered her for a two count. Ripley performed a northern lights suplex on Bayley for a two count. Ripley put Asuka in Electric Chair position and then slammed her face first to the mat. Ripley covered Asuka, who kicked out.
Ripley dropkicked Bayley off the apron and then went to ringside and went for a cannonball dive off the ring steps. Bayley moved, causing Ripley to crash and burn. Bayley returned to the ring and ate a series of strikes. Asuka went for a dropkick from the middle rope, but Bayley moved out of the way. Bayley hit the Rose Plant and pinned Asuka.
Bayley defeated Asuka and Rhea Ripley in 15:15 in a Triple Threat to qualify for next week’s No. 1 contenders match.
After the match, Ripley returned and attacked Asuka. Ripley hit her Riptide finisher on Asuka. Ripley held her right arm at her side and had some discoloration on her shoulder…
Seth Rollins was shown dancing for the camera backstage. Patrick said Rollins would face Bobby Lashley next week for a future shot at the U.S. Championship… [C]
Powell’s POV: For those who missed it, the winner of the two Triple Threats will meet in a singles match next week to earn a future shot at the Raw Women’s Championship. They sure seemed to be foreshadowing Lynch vs. Bayley earlier, and I assume the Lynch and Ripley staredown was meant to build long term anticipation, perhaps for a Royal Rumble moment between the two. It’s interesting that Graves mentioned that he’d like to see a return to form for Asuka. Hopefully that’s a hint that Asuka will be getting some type of a makeover to freshen up her act. On a side note, I’m not sure if the spike will be a regular part of Sikoa’s act or if they were simply paying homage to Umaga one day after the anniversary of his death.
The broadcast team acknowledged Drew McIntyre’s social media announcement that he won’t be medically cleared to wrestle on Friday’s Smackdown. They also announced that Butch will take his place by teaming with Sheamus in the tag title match with The Usos on Smackdown…
Seth Rollins made his entrance. Once in the ring, Rollins told the crowd he had breaking news and then told them that he would face Bobby Lashley next week for a shot at the U.S. Title. Rollins had the crowd sing his song again until they were interrupted.
Bobby Lashley made his entrance in non-wrestling attire. Lashley played to the crowd and slapped hands as he walked to the ring. A “Bobby” chant broke out. Lashley asked Rollins what he wanted to tell him and then told him to be careful. Rollins said Lashley hasn’t been the same since he lost to Brock Lesnar at Crown Jewel. Rollins said there’s no shame in losing to Lesnar and added “we’ve all been there.”
Rollins asked Lashley about his obsession with Lesnar and questioned whether Lashley is afraid of Lesnar. Lashley said he knew that Rollins was just trying to get under his skin. Rollins said that if Lashley isn’t scared, he must be jealous of Lesnar because he’s a bigger star and has won more championships. Rollins tried to say that Lesnar had the career that Lashley wished he had.
Lashley grabbed Rollins by the collar and said it wasn’t about Lesnar, it was about him and Rollins meeting next week for a shot at the U.S. Title. Rollins said Lashley needs to get his head right when it comes to his frustration over not being able to beat Lesnar or it will be easier to beat him next week. Lashley punched Rollins.
Lashley and Rollins fought to ringside. Adam Pearce, producers, and referees ran out and pulled them apart. Lashley teased leaving while Rollins was being held back in the ring. Lashley returned to the ring and was pulled apart again. Lashley went for a spear on Rollins, but he ended up spearing producer Pete(y) Williams instead…
Byron Saxton asked Austin Theory for comments on the Rollins and Lashley brawl. Theory said he saw the past and said both men are oblivious to how the business has moved on from both of them. Theory said forever is just beginning. Theory turned to walk away and bumped into Mustafa Ali, who accused him of writing checks that he can’t cash.
Theory told Ali that he’s annoying and told him he should just quit. Ali said he has to fight for everything. He said he’ll get back up and beat Theory to become the U.S. Champion. Theory told Ali to get dressed because they could have the match tonight. Theory told Ali that he didn’t want to hear the word opportunity come out of his mouth ever again…
An ad aired for the new Peacock documentary “Becoming Ric Flair” that premieres on December 26… [C]
JBL’s poker game continued. AJ Styles was with Anderson and Yim as they stood behind Gallows while he played. In a shocking twist, Lumis has a great poker face, which fooled Corbin into losing a hand. Corbin accused Lumis of cheating. Lumis pulled an axe out from underneath the table and placed it on the pot. At the other table, Dom told Tozawa that Raw is his show and he gets what he wants or Judgment Day has a problem with you. JBL told told them to go outside if they wanted to fight. Dom and Tozawa agreed to meet one another inside the ring…
Powell’s POV: Is this poker tournament an early Christmas gift to Vince McMahon? Meanwhile, Ali ditched the bad braids and looks much better, at least in the opinion of this old viewer.
Entrances for the U.S. Title match took place…
3. Austin Theory vs. Mustafa Ali for the U.S. Championship. Mike Rome delivered in-ring introductions for the title match. Ali performed an early suicide dive. Ali tried to throw Theory back inside the ring, but Theory ended up running Ali into the ring post and the barricade. [C]
Ali went for a top rope huracanrana that was botched. Fortunately, both men seemed to be okay. Ali followed up with a tornado DDT for a near fall. Ali went to the ropes and was stopped and eventually tripped and tied up in a tree of woe. Theory kicked Ali and then worked him over with punches. Suddenly, Dolph Ziggler showed up in the ring and superkicked Theory for the DQ finish.
Austin Theory defeated Mustafa Ali by DQ in 8:05 to retain the U.S. Championship.
After the match, Ali was upset with Ziggler for costing him the match. Ali and Ziggler bickered. Theory returned to the ring and shoved Ziggler into Ali, then ran Ali through the ropes and into the ring post. Theory performed his A-Town Down finisher on Ziggler. Theory stood over Ziggler and held up the U.S. Title belt…
Powell’s POV: The botched spot was frightening. It seemed like there was some miscommunication with Theory actually going for the hurcanrana while Theory seemed to think that he was supposed to stuff the move and then ended up taking the move awkwardly. The DQ finish was weak. It seemed like this was meant to move Ali away from Theory and into a program with Ziggler.
JBL was on the phone outside his poker room when The Miz showed up. Miz said there must have been an oversight because he wasn’t invited to play. JBL said he didn’t know Miz played and told him there was a $50,000 buy-in. Miz said he didn’t have cash and offered his Rolex, which JBL informed him was not real. Miz walked away and JBL went back to his phone call… [C]
The poker game continued with Corbin winning a big hand over Gallows. When Corbin reached for the pot, cards fell out of his sleeve. Styles and Corbin pushed and shoved. JBL threw a fit. He said they were barbarians who were ruining his poker tournament. The OC agreed to face Corbin and Alpha Academy in a match. JBL called them all idiots. Gargano assumed that Lumis won. Lumis tossed the dealer a wad of cash as a tip…
Raw Women’s Champion Bianca Belair was interviewed by Cathy Kelley on the backstage interview set. Kelley asked for a prediction regarding who would face Bayley in next week’s No. 1 contenders match. Belair went into politician mode by making a case for all of them. She said they would have to be ready for her because she stays ready so she doesn’t have to get ready…
The OC made their entrance for the six-man tag match… [C] The broadcast team recapped highlights of the opening match and the post match angle.
[Hour Three] Additional footage was shown of Riddle being placed in an ambulance in the back… JBL made his entrance followed by Baron Corbin and Alpha Academy…
4. “The OC” AJ Styles, Luke Gallows, and Karl Anderson (w/Mia Yim) vs. Chad Gable, Otis, and Baron Corbin. JBL sat in on commentary. Styles tagged in a few minutes into the match and went on an offensive flurry until Gable held the top rope down, causing Styles to tumble to ringside. Otis clotheslined Gable on the floor. [C]
JBL wondered if Kurt Angle would acknowledge that he was retired by Corbin when WWE celebrates his birthday on Friday. Styles was isolated. Corbin hit him with a Deep Six and then Gable covered him for a near fall. A short time later, Anderson caught Gable leaping off the ropes and put him down with a spinebuster. Anderson had the pin, but Corbin broke it up.
It was rapid fire big spot time from everyone involved. Otis performed an impressive suplex on Gallows, but Styles hit Otis with a Phenomenal Forearm. Gable performed a German suplex on Styles. Anderson and Gable traded shows with Anderson getting the better of it before he tagged in Gallows. Gable went for a rolling suplex on Anderson, but Gallows stuffed it and then he and Anderson hit Gable with a Magic Killer for the win…
“The OC” AJ Styles, Luke Gallows, and Karl Anderson defeated Chad Gable, Otis, and Baron Corbin in 14:30.
Alexa Bliss was shown warming up in the backstage area. A Lilly doll was hung up by her, and the Bray Wyatt symbol flashed on a monitor behind her. Patrick said Bliss hasn’t had singles success in over four years and questioned what viewers would see from her tonight… [C]
Powell’s POV: Stay tuned to watch a wrestler who hasn’t been successful in over four years! That’s quite the hook from Patrick. Anyway, The OC continues to feel like a flat act despite having a quality match tonight. I’m sure Styles is happy to have his buddies back, but I’d much rather see Styles get a meaningful singles push than continue to work time-filling, trivial six-man tag matches.
Washington D.C. sports imagery was shown…
Candice LeRae was interviewed by Saxton in the backstage area. Saxton said LeRae will face Iyo Sky on next week’s Raw and asked if she feels like a marked woman by Damage CTRL. LeRae said she does and had to return from an injury they were responsible for. LeRae said she’s a new mom and has more to fight for.
Johnny Gargano and Dexter Lumis entered the picture. LeRae asked how the poker game went. They showed her the bag filled with cash and chips. “What the…” LeRae said before Gargano covered her mouth… Judgment Day made their entrance…
5. Dominik Mysterio (w/Rhea Ripley, Finn Balor, Damian Priest) vs. Akira Tozawa. Tozawa’s entrance was not televised. Tozawa performed an early head-scissors takedown and yelled to get a rise out of the flat crowd. Dom came back and hit the Three Amigos suplexes for a one count.
Tozawa rallied with a shining wizard for a near fall. Tozawa put Dom down with another kick and then went to the ropes. Tozawa went for a senton, but Dom rolled out of the way. Dom performed a top rope frogsplash and got the three count.
Dominik Mysterio defeated Akira Tozawa in 2:50.
Judgment Day was about to rough up Tozawa after the match, but “The Street Profits” Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins ran out to scare off the heels…
Becky Lynch was shown getting ready for the Triple Threat match… [C]
Powell’s POV: And this concludes the match that spawned from JBL’s poker tournament. I guess we’ll never know how they were going to fill the three hours had it not been for the poker game.
The broadcast team recapped footage of Bobby Lashley spearing Pete Williams…
Backstage, Adam Pearce caught up with Bobby Lashley and said he knew Lashley didn’t spear Williams on purpose and he wasn’t taking away his title shot. “But if it happens again…” Pearce asked him not to make another mistake. Lashley told him to make sure nobody else gets in his way…
Powell’s POV: The end game is Bron Breakker showing up to avenge the spear taken by the guy who likes to dress up like his uncle while calling himself Little Petey Pump. Okay, probably not.
The broadcast team hyped the following matches for next week’s Raw: Seth Rollins vs. Bobby Lashley for a shot at the U.S. Title, Candice LeRae vs. Iyo Sky, and Bayley vs. the main event winner to for a shot at the Raw Women’s Championship…
Alexa Bliss made her entrance for the main event followed by Nikki Cross. Graves played up the past friendship between Bliss and Cross… [C] Becky Lynch made her entrance…
6. Becky Lynch vs. Alexa Bliss vs. Nikki Cross in a Triple Threat qualifier for next week’s No. 1 contender match. There was an early and brief “Becky” chant from the crowd. Lynch teased hitting Sister Abigail, but Lynch countered out of it. Cross ended up performing running splashes in opposite corners on both opponents until Bliss dodged her. Lynch ran over and jumped off the back of a collapsing Bliss to hit what Graves called “a glancing blow” on Cross in the corner.
All three women ended up at ringside. Cross slammed Lynch’s head into the ring steps. Bliss went for a tornado DDT off the steps, but Cross stuffed it and put Bliss down with a neckbreaker. Cross cleared the broadcast table and then poured water over her own head. “There goes my notes,” Patrick said. [C]
Bliss had Cross down and was setting up for Twisted Bliss when Lynch got involved. Bliss fought off Lynch, but Cross recovered and joined Bliss on the ropes. Lynch returned and performed a tower of doom spot and then covered Cross for a two count.
A short time later, Cross performed a crossbody block from the ropes onto Lynch and had her pinned, but Bliss broke it up. Cross hit Bliss with repeated shoulder blocks in the corner and then bulldogged her. Bliss shoved Cross to ringside and went for a kick under the ropes, but Cross pulled her to the floor and ended up splashing her against the apron.
Cross went for a Draping DDT on Bliss. Lynch performed a double leg drop from the ropes onto Bliss while Cross executed the move. Lynch covered Bliss for a near fall. Lynch and Cross fought on the apron. Cross went for a move, but Lynch stuffed it and put Cross down with a clunky Manhandle Slam on the apron. Lynch crawled to cover Cross, who rolled away.
Iyo Sky and Dakota Kai ran out and pulled Lynch out of the ring. Lynch tried to fight them off, but the heel duo performed a double powerbomb through the broadcast table. Bliss hit Twisted Bliss on Cross and then pinned her…
Alexa Bliss defeated Nikki Cross and Becky Lynch in 16:30 in a Triple Threat to qualify for next week’s No. 1 contenders match.
The broadcast team hyped Alexa Bliss vs. Bayley to become No. 1 contender to the Raw Women’s Championship for next week’s show…
Powell’s POV: The main event was rough in spots and the crowd was pretty quiet. Cross really needed some wins when she made her recent character shift. There’s just no reason to see her as a threat to win key matches like this and that’s unfortunate. On the bright side, I was legitimately surprised by the outcome of the match. They seemed to be foreshadowing Lynch vs. Bayley earlier, so Bliss’s win caught me off guard. Hopefully we’ll be getting a payoff to Bliss and the Wyatt symbol flashing soon.
Overall, a decent show aside from the poker game skits that were predictable and uneventful. Having the two Triple Threat qualifiers helped give two matches a sense of importance. It was also good to see the company get back to announcing multiple matches for next week’s show. I will be back shortly with my weekly same night audio review of Raw for Dot Net Members (including our Patreon patrons). Let me know what you thought of Raw by grading it below.