Last night was the final WWE pay per view of the year, TLC. In the main event, John Cena and Randy Orton went toe to toe to see who the new WWE World Heavyweight Champion would be. In that match, Randy Orton came out on top - so now he is The Man. How will he open his title reign as the face of the company, and who will challenge him?
Also, CM Punk overcame The Shield, but Daniel Bryan did not overcome the Wyatts. How will those stories continue to unfold?
Show Open, Live from Dallas TX, American Airlines Arena
They open with a video package recapping the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match. It concludes with a shot of Orton holding both championships.
The locker room is standing on the stage with Triple H and Stephanie in the ring. Stephanie welcomes us to this "historic edition" of Raw. She says it's time for all the fans, and anyone who will ever don a pair of tights to pay respect to one man. Triple H says that last night we saw history as the past collided with the bright future in the crowning of a champion of champions. He says all are there to pay honor to that one man, and he introduces Randy Orton.
Orton's music plays and he gets a smattering of boos. He has both titles over his shoulders and pauses to stare at Cena and Daniel Bryan, then walks to the ring with both belts held up. King says that reports are saying that Orton is now unapproachable, and JBL says he should be because he's the champion of champions. Orton puts both belts back over his shoulder as Triple H looks on with a smirk.
They pan to Cena looking angry as Orton starts his promo. He says the fans didn't have faith that he would win the most important match in WWE history. He says that the fans bought into the lie that he was handed everything in his career. He says he proved it last night when he won both the WWE and World Championships at TLC.
John Cena speaks up and calls Orton an idiot. Orton gets mad and tells the sound guy to cut his mic, but Cena tells him to relax. Cena does his normal mocking routine and says he won't ruin Orton's moment. He says that Orton sometimes has trouble talking so he gives the abbreviated version of Orton's promo. He says "Apex Predator Viper Viper Viper greatest of all time" in his mocking routine. He boasts about Orton using handcuffs and calls it a creative touch. He congratulates Orton for being the better champion.
Cena tells Orton he has talked enough, so he has to put up or shut up tonight. Orton says he sees what Cena is trying to do but he won't get his rematch tonight and turns to Hunter. Cena tells him to relax and says he isn't talking about himself. The fans start a 'yes!" chant. Cena admits he wants to be champion, but recalled telling a man that he would get a fair match if he won the title.
Cena points to Daniel Bryan, who nods. "I don't care what you think," Orton says and demands Security get him out. Cena says Orton might not care what he thinks, but he knows that Orton cares about the title and being greatest of all time. This could cement Orton's legacy. Cena hypes up Bryan facing Orton for the title. Cena asks Orton if he's scared.
Orton rants that he doesn't have to listen to Daniel Bryan, John Cena, the fans, or anyone else. Stephanie leans in and says "except us." Orton says that they can't possibly think that giving Bryan a shot is best for business. Triple H says he agrees with Orton that Bryan doesn't deserve a title shot. Stephanie says that the fans voted him Superstar of the Year however, and Hunter says they always listen to the fans. Orton objects again, saying he was in a war last night.
Triple H says he can't think of a better way to kick off the Champion of Champions reign than to set up this main event - Orton vs. "Superstar of the Year" Daniel Bryan. JBL barks about "where's the respect" as Cole says the fans love it. Bryan leads "yes!" chants.
That went on longer than it needed to, and the biggest flaw is that Bryan did none of the talking. I like the match, but Bryan really needed to be the one to deliver an inspired promo about getting a fair opportunity. And what in the world is going on with Triple H and Stephanie and their heel/face positioning.
Cole hypes a poll to determine Cody Rhodes and Goldust's opponent for their match tonight.
Cody Rhodes and Goldust are in the ring for the first match. Cole ponders who the fans picked for their match.
Match #1 - Big Show and Rey Mysterio vs. Cody Rhodes and Goldust
Rey Mysterio's music hits and Cole says that Brothers Rhodes will have their hands full. As Big Show comes to the ring, Cole gives us a brief recap of what went down in the four-way elimination tag title match last night at the pay per view.
Rey and Cody start off, and they shake hands. Mysterio hits a neat spot in the early going when he slides under the ropes and splashes Rhodes out on the floor. Back in the ring, Rhodes hits the Disaster Kick to get a two count. A bit later, Show gets the better of Cody as they head to commercial.
Show continues to control Cody after the break, doing a series of "butt splashes" in one of the corners. The announcers are taking selfies on Lawler's phone. Yes, I'm serious. Rhodes gets the hot tag to Goldust. Goldust goes on his run of standard offense to get the better of Big Show.
Late, Goldust gets goozled and Show hits a chokeslam. Show covers but Rhodes breaks up the count. Show sends Rhodes over the top rope, but Goldust goes up for a cross body. Show moves out of the way, and hits the WMD Punch. Show tags Rey and Rey drops the dime from Show's shoulders to get the win.
Afterward, Show helps Goldust to his feet as Cole calls it an act of sportsmanship. JBL says it's so Goldust will be okay for Show to beat them for the titles.
Another solid outing from Rhodes and Goldust. They had a good four way last night, and this was very good as well.
The announcers do a short shill for downloading the app, then tell us there's a poll to decide CM Punk's partners to face the Shield.
We get hype for next week's Raw, which will be a "Good Santa vs. Bad Santa" theme to it (featuring Damien Sandow and Mark Henry).
Bad News Barrett:
Wade Barrett bangs his gavel and calls for decorum. He says that there's $250 million up for grabs in the lottery, but the bad news is that none of the fans will get any of it because they will have to return to their ramshackle homes and lowly lifestyles.
I want to take that gavel and shove it up the ass of whoever is booking this waste of talent for Barrett - he is far above this.
The announcers hype up that there are replica Slammy Awards being up for auction on WWE Auctions. Various superstars have signed them.
The Authority is talking among themselves when Orton barges in. He asks what the deal is about having to face Bryan after the biggest match of his career. Stephanie tells him to calm down and reminds him that Bryan took a beating from the Wyatts as well last night. She says they value him as the champion and as a friend.
Triple H tells him that he is the man and the top of the food chain now and everyone will be gunning for him. He tells Orton that "we have your back..."
Match #2 - Fandango (w/Summer Rae) vs. Dolph Ziggler
Fandango makes his entrance before the break. The announcers put this over as a rematch of the kickoff match from last night's show. Ziggler gets his entrance after the break as the announcers talk about Ziggler's comments earlier in the day of needing to get his head back in the game.
Fandango gets the bulk of the offense in this one. As he's going for his next attack, Ziggler rolls him up to grab the win. Fandango and Summer Rae look shocked as Cole calls it a "huge win" for Ziggler.
"A huge win...", well I guess that says how far Dolph has dropped off the radar. Not sure what the point of trading wins like that over the past two nights was. I want to see more from these guys though.
Cole hypes up the Bryan vs. Orton match for later on in the show. They show Big E. Langston and Mark Henry walking backstage and they'll be up next.
Match #3 - Big E. Langston and Mark Henry vs. The Real Americans (w/Zeb Colter)
No promo from the Real Americans as they come out. I'm still highly insulted that they throw the Gadsen flags like they do. Henry gets a decent reaction for being from Texas.
Langston starts off with Swagger. He gets the better of Swagger with a shoulder tackle, so he tags out to Cesaro. He gets the same fate, so Swagger tags back in. An "OU Sucks" chant gets going - screw you Dallas from this Sooner fan. Henry plays into the fans' chant and works over Swagger, then tags in Langston and throws Langston into Swagger in the corner for a big impact move.
It's all power from Langston and Henry. Henry hits some heavy headbutts, and Langston delivers a gorilla press before clotheslining Cesaro out of the ring. He regroups with Swagger and Colter before getting back in the ring for more abuse. The announcers talk about how the tag division is better than ever. Swagger double teams Langston, drags him to ringside and slams him headfirst off the announce table going to commercial.
The Real Americans control the action coming out of the break. Langston sells for Cesaro and tries to power his way to a tag to Henry but Cesaro takes him down. Cesaro gets him up for a belly to back suplex that the announcers call as impressive. Swagger follows with a belly to belly takedown for two.
Langston creates some separation but Swagger tries for the Patriot Lock. Langston kicks him away into Cesaro's corner for the tag. Cesaro delivers a stomp, then the Americans team up for a double team slam move. Langston continues to sell for the heels until he dumps Swagger over the rope then hits a belly to belly on Cesaro.
Hot tag to Henry, and he unloads with some JYD headbutts and a running powerslam for a near fall. Swagger saves it but takes a running shoulder block from Henry. Cesaro hits a drop kick then an uppercut, but Henry gets a tag to Langston.
Cesaro sets Henry up for the big swing, but Langston is the legal man. He runs Cesaro over then hits the Big Ending to get the win. The announcers recap it for us as Henry and Big E. celebrate.
A quality television match that ate up some time. Langston seems to be getting more over with fans now as they popped for his finish. And it could be a long week for Swagger, the native Oklahoman, as there's lots of tapings in Texas this week.
The announcers give us another "download the app" tutorial then shill the poll to determine CM Punk's partners for later against The Shield.
We get another tease for the "Evil Santa", along with AJ and Tamina playing evil elfs. This is the theme for next week's Raw.
They're taping this. I'm not exactly sure how I plan to cover it yet. There may be lots of alcohol involved. Maybe even a call-in from work. This isn't looking good.
Match #4 - Tons of Funk (w/Cameron and Naomi) vs. Curtis Axel and Ryback
R-Truth and Xavier Woods are on commentary. Axel and Ryback are in the ring. They do the normal dance routine entrance for Tons of Funk. There's lots of screwing around and ghetto talk going on during the Tons of Funk entrance. The announcers recap how the whole "Brodus is angry" thing started going down.
Tensai starts off against Axel and hits a big shoulder tackle. Woods and Truth say they have no issue with Tensai but Brodus is another issue. Ryback tags in and is immediately greeted with "Goldberg" chants. Tensai sells for Ryback.
Tensai goes for a tag but Clay backs off. Ryback is able to get Tensai up for Shellshocked an hits it. Axel and Ryback duck out and Clay gets in the ring to hit two big splashes on Tensai afterward. He drags Tensai to the corner, but Truth and Woods hit the ring and hit Clay with a double drop kick.
Clay taunts from ringside, saying he's a main event player. Truth addresses the ladies and asks if they've had anything to dance to lately. He and Woods invite them in the ring and Clay demands they go with him. They join Woods and Truth and they do a dance thing while Clay seethes and leaves.
This feels pretty much undercard at the moment. It might take off eventually, but right now it's not all that hot.
Cole is chair dancing as they pan to the announcers. He feeds it to a still-photo recap of Punk getting the win over The Shield. Reigns speared Ambrose, which led to the win. They show Punk backstage walking toward the ring. King says he has a message for the Authority, next.
CM Punk's music hits and Dallas welcomes him with a rousing ovation. They show a recap of last week's show ending, where Punk hit Triple H but took a superkick from Shawn Michaels. Punk wiggles his jaw to sell it a little. He talks about the match from last night. He says he's not much of a Christmas guy, or a miracle guy, but he says that not only did he survive last night at TLC, but he won.
He says this hasn't been about the Shield as much as it has been about the Authority. He says it's almost like someone is trying to sweep him under the rug and make him go away. Punk tells Triple H that they're both adults, and they can work their issues out man to man. He invites Triple H to come out to the ring to discuss their issues unless Hunter is afraid of what he can do with a microphone. Several moments of "no action from the entrance" as the fans chant for Punk.
Punk perches himself up on the corner and says "what do you think, Dallas, should I give him a couple more seconds?" No music. Punk says it's okay and figured that he wouldn't come out. Shawn Michaels' music hits and he comes out, camo and all, to the ring to a rousing ovation from the Dallas fans.
Before Michaels says anything, Punk says that whenever Stephanie is ready to talk, the Best in the World is waiting. Michaels starts to talk but gets greeted with a "you sold out" chant. He waits it out and tells the fans to shut up because he has a car waiting.
Michaels says he gets the issues with the Authority, but Punk really should have the issues with Michaels, not the Authority. Punk smiles and waits out a "one more match" chant and tells Dallas that he will have more than one more match. Punk says that "15-year old me was stoked that you kicked me in the face." He says that he will give HBK a pass, but adds that if Michaels does it again, Punk will kick back.
Michaels tells Punk that he likes him, and kicking Punk last week was something that hurt him more than it hurt Punk. He says that what he has to do next is going to hurt him more than it hurts Michaels also. He introduces The Shield for the next match.
Michaels isn't bringing his best, and as a result it made that promo segment fall flat.
Match #5 - The Usos and CM Punk vs. The Shield
King reveals the results of the poll with The Usos winning 57% of the vote. They get a nice reaction as they come out to the ring. Punk tries to lead the "U-So" chant and smiles when it doesn't really start. Ambrose starts the match with Jimmy, then Jey gets the tag and splashes Ambrose in the early going. The faces keep up the offense in the early going heading to commercial.
Out of the break, the Usos are selling for The Shield. Jimmy (I think) gets some offense going on Rollins, hitting a Samoan drop. He sets up for another move out of the corner but Reigns interjects himself. That gets Rollins a chance to hit a big ensugiri and a tag to Ambrose, who uses a series of stomps before tagging in Reigns.
Reigns drops an elbow and works the arm a little before Jimmy tries to fight back, but Rollins tags in and keeps things going in the Shield's favor. Rollins sets up a superplex but Jimmy fights back and dumps him then hits a cross body. Uso tries for the tag but Reigns gets to him first and keeps the offense up.
Jimmy hits an ensugiri then tags in Punk for the hot tag. Springboard double clothesline on Rollins and Ambrose, then running high knees for both and a suplex for Ambrose. Reigns saves the matchup, then hits a superman punch on one of the Usos. Reigns gets escorted out by the other, then a suicide dive. Punk gives Rollins one also.
Ambrose tries a dive but ends up taking a shot from Punk. Punk goes up for the Macho Elbow and hits it. Punk cues the GTS, but attacks Rollins instead at the ropes. He hits Reigns with a big kick, then loads the GTS on Ambrose and hits it. But Ambrose had tagged Reigns, and Reigns hits a big spear to get the win. The Shield celebrates as Punk and the Usos sell their wounds.
A solid six-man tag. They talked an awful lot about the impending internal friction in the Shield, but tonight all was well other than Ambrose's small cut on his head (hard way cut). I am glad they aren't rushing to a break-up of the trio as there's money to be made there yet. Keep the build to that slow.
Cole feeds it to a recap of the opening of the show with Orton holding the belts up, and Cena's interruption of Orton's promo segment to get the match set up with Daniel Bryan. Cole mentions that Orton has never defeated Bryan fair and square.
Out of the break, Cole shills a poll on WWE.com about who will be getting coal in their stocking. Your choices are AJ, Ryback, Brock Lesnar and Stephanie McMahon. Stephanie runs away with it. JBL goes bonkers over the results. Cole feeds it into an ad for WWE 2k14.
The Wyatts cut in. Bray says that the war to bring down the machine will be a long daunting process. He calls Bryan a liar and he's a miniscule ant trying to pierce the armor of a scorpion. Wyatt says he offered Bryan a way out but all he felt was his empty heart beating. He apologizes to Abigail and says he sees now what must be. Harper says that if Bryan won't walk with the reapers he will burn with the saints.
I think that's the first time I've heard anyone but Bray speak? Another cryptic promo, clearly pushing their story on with Bryan to some degree. How do they get involved in tonight's main event?
Match #6 - AJ, Tamina, and Alicia Fox vs. The Bella Twins and Natalya
Faces are in the ring coming out of break. AJ comes out with her partners as the announcers talk about the match last night and Natalya's emotional reaction to the loss. Natalya works with Alicia starting off, with Natalya reversing a backbreaker to a cross body. Brie gets the tag and she takes a really nasty bump off the corner when she tries to kick Alicia off.
Brie sells for Tamina for a bit. AJ gets a big cheer when she tags in but she gets a drop kick from Brie. Nikki takes the hot tag and goes on a run. She loads AJ in a torture rack but takes a superkick from Tamina. Things break down, with Natalya and Brie taking out Tamina and Alicia. AJ comes back with the shining wizard on Nikki for the win.
Meh. It lasted too long. That bump out of the corner was straight nasty and I thought Brie was legitimately injured.
The announcers hype the main event, coming in moments.
A pre-tape has Good Santa (Mark Henry) alongside The Bella Twins and Hornswoggle talking with the child that Bad Santa (Damien Sandow) scared off with the threat to cancel Christmas earlier.
Renee Young interviews Randy Orton. He cuts her off after she congratulates him, saying he has heard that word enough today. He rants about how he shouldn't have to face that "sawed off troll" Daniel Bryan again. He calls it bizzaro world because Bryan won Superstar of the Year. He says that the only thing that is best for business is that everyone in the arena, locker room, and around the world bend over and kiss his ass.
Match #6 - Randy Orton (c) vs. Daniel Bryan
Bryan gets his entrance before the break to a rousing ovation from Dallas. He leads "yes!" chants coming out of the break. Orton gets his entrance after the break and he gets mild heat from the live crowd.
All Bryan in the early going. He starts to focus his offense on Orton's leg, using a variety of submission holds. He locks Orton in a half crab that Orton breaks in the ropes, but Bryan slams his knee into the mat before breaking. Orton decides to bite Bryan to get an advantage.
Orton begins to take control. He works the arm, and Bryan screams. Orton plays to the crowd with some "no" motions, then delivers some headbutts in the corner then a shoulder block off the ropes. Orton goes back to the arm again then gets a near fall. He stomps methodically on the limbs in the "Garvin Stomp" style. JBL puts Orton over as Orton plays to the fans.
Orton turns around and gets bitten by Bryan, literally. Orton gets taken out over the ropes by a running knee, then Bryan tries to go for a suicide dive but Orton sidesteps him so Bryan crashes and burns. Orton is back in control going to commercial.
Cole fills us in on the break happenings. Orton's cut was patched up and Bryan barely beat a ten count into the ring. Orton controls the action, throwing Bryan into the ring post. He also uses a suplex on the barrier to go after the arm a little more. That gets a near fall back in the ring.
Orton sets up a superplex and hits it but knocks the wind out of himself in the process. Bryan starts to open up the offense, hitting a couple running drop kicks in the corner then following with a hurancanrana for a near fall. The fans start telling us this is awesome.
Bryan tries a whip but Orton reverses to a backbreaker. Orton tries a follow-up but Bryan tries for the Yes! Lock. Orton counters to a slingshot, but Bryan hangs on and tries to skin the cat. Orton kicks him then hits the elevated DDT. Orton poses for several moments then tries for the RKO. Bryan counters to a backslide for two, then hits a kick that nets a good near fall.
Bryan goes up top with the fans in full throat, but Orton crotches him. There's one guy chanting "Randy" near a mic. Kinda funny. Cole resets the show as we cross 11PM EST and Orton tries a superplex for the second time. Bryan blocks it and headbutts Orton down. He goes for the flying headbutt and gets a good near fall out of that.
Bryan delivers a series of kicks, whips Orton across, then tries a running charge in the corner but Orton ducks. Orton tries a roll up, but Bryan counters to the Yes! Lock in the middle of the ring. Orton gets to the ropes to break it and rolls outside. Bryan goes out after him with a suicide dive, then throws Orton to the barrier. He follows it up with a running drop kick and throws Orton back in the ring.
Bryan is on fire and hits a missile drop kick. He loads up his series of kicks, then winds up for the big finale. Orton ducks and hits Bryan with a low blow. That ends the match with a disqualification. Cole rants and calls it pathetic, with JBL actually agreeing with that.
Cena's music hits, and he charges the ring. He takes Orton down and drills him with strikes, then throws him out of the ring. He goes over to check on Bryan, and Orton gets back in the ring. He hits Cena with the RKO and stumbles backward. He demands his belts be given to him and he poses with them. Cole and JBL both say that they wanted to see an end to the match and it was a great one. Orton keeps posing as the show ends.
That was a great TV main event. The cheap finish here was logical in that they weren't going to have Orton lose his first match as "undisputed champion" yet it kept Bryan looking good because it was a low-blow that stopped the match. I appreciated the fact that the Wyatts stayed out of it too and let the finish be between Bryan and Orton. I'm all for continuing the story (if there is one) there, but this match needed to stay between the two in the ring.
Cena running out seems to point to a possible triple threat match down the road somewhere. Not sure how I feel about that one right now. I also certainly do not want to see Cena treating Bryan as his "little buddy" and do all the talking and hyping and such. Bryan is capable of doing that for himself and I think Cena would take away too much from Bryan rather than add to him here.
Overall, a solid edition of Raw tonight. It wasn't a newsworthy show, but the main focus was to get heat on Randy Orton and it seems they did that to some degree. They have a challenge ahead in that regard, as WWE really did a poor job of presenting Orton seriously going into TLC - he really felt like an afterthought to the Authority and still does to a degree. I was also glad we got limited doses of them tonight - which helped Orton stand on his own.
The next two weeks will be filled with Christmas silliness, and New Years silliness, so I'm not expecting much. Maybe they'll prove me wrong.
I'll have more to say tomorrow night in Raw Afterthoughts. Thanks for watching along tonight, and as always, feel free to join in the conversation on Twitter also!