It's the night before the night before Christmas, and all through the arena...

It's the Christmas week edition of Raw, taped last week in Texas.  We'll surely get the yearly dose of Christmas silliness, such as the "Jingle Bells Diva match" or the "present on a pole match" or something of that nature.  WWE tends to mail it in during the holidays so we're not likely getting any story advancement going on toward the Rumble.  Tonight's show is highlighted by the battle of Santas with Mark Henry facing Damien Sandow in a "Good Santa vs. Bad Santa" match.

Show Open, Taped in Austin, TX at the University of Texas on 12/17/2013

We open with Mark Henry reading a WWE-themed version of "The Night Before Christmas" with Damien Sandow interjecting various heel lines, along with the threat to cancel Christmas.  The announcer hypes the "Good Santa vs. Bad Santa" match for later in a battle for Christmas supremacy.

Cole welcomes us to Raw Christmas in the Frank Erwin Center at the University of Texas.  JBL tosses out an Oklahoma insult before the familiar "King of Kings" chords belt out.  Here comes "The Authority", wearing Santa hats.  Kane is passing out candy canes...how the devil's favorite demon has fallen.  Cole and JBL are at the commentary table, and King is away this week.

Triple H says it's a special time of year,  for family, sharing and giving back.  He says he and Stephanie like to make the employees volunteer and it warms their heart.  She says there's no place they would not rather be than with the extended family.  She says it's their job to make sure they all have a merry Christmas.

Triple H says Christmas is hanging in the balance when Damien Sandow, the "Bad Santa" will face Mark Henry, "the Good Santa."  Stephanie hypes a six man tag between The Wyatts and Cody and Goldust along with Daniel Bryan.  Triple H hypes The Shield facing Big E Langston, CM Punk, and John Cena.  He says "without further adieu, Merry Christmas to all of you."  Randy Orton's music hits.

As Orton walks to the ring, Cole recaps the match between Orton and Daniel Bryan.  He says it was a classic but it was a shame that Orton took the cheap way out.  JBL puts over Orton and says he's in the holiday spirit.  Stephanie is clapping.

Orton wishes the fans Merry Christmas, and he thanks Stephanie and Triple H for showing him the support in his quest to be the first WWE World Champion.  He says it's the faith they had in him that inspired his victory over John Cena.  Orton says he thought it appropriate to give the Authority a present but asks "what do you give this loving couple that has everything?"  He says that he wants to give them a priceless gift wrapped in a gold bow. He presents himself as that present.

The Authority shares a group hug with Orton and he thanks them for giving him the night off.  He exits.  Kane says "and he heard them exclaim as he drove out of sight, Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night."  He does his pyro bit and Triple H and Stephanie share a kiss as Orton leaves.

It was what it was.  Kane kind of singled out a Daniel Bryan shirt wearing fan - I hope that's not a foreshadow of a match at Wrestlemania...Bryan deserves much better.

Cole hypes the 12-Diva Jingle Belle match coming up next.

Match #1 - Natalya, The Bella Twins, Cameron and Naomi, and Eva Marie vs. Kaitlyn, Tamina, Rosa Mendes, Alicia Fox, Aksana and Vickie Guerrero ; 12-Diva "Jingle Belle" match

The "Total Divas" team gets their entrance after the break.  AJ is at the commentary table and points out her "Grinchmas" shirt and says she doesn't celebrate Christmas.  The Total Divas ladies control the offense in the early going as AJ says she will be the longest running Divas Champion ever.

Vickie tags in and gores Brie in the butt with the antlers.  Yes, that happened.  Natalya rolls up Aksana.  A cat fight breaks out for a moment, then the "Total Divas" team does a series of clotheslines where another woman joins the line as they hit each of the heels.  AJ hopes that she doesn't end up on Total Divas if it means doing that.  Natty locks Aksana in the Sharpshooter for the win.  The Total Divas do a synchronized celebration.

Just awful.  I'll warn you, I'm enjoying...um...beverages.  Matches like this are the reason why.  I get the holiday theme thing, but give me something good at the same time.  It is possible.

Cole sells the Wyatts vs. Cody, Goldust and Bryan going into break.

Match #2 - Curtis Axel vs. Sin Cara

Axel is in the ring as JBL says that WWE stars travel more than Santa.  Sin Hunico...err..Cara comes to the ring and cuts a "picture in picture" promo, saying he wants to give Axel "a big L."  Mood lighting hits as we get started.

Axel controls the early going of this one.  JBL insults Cole, saying he knows it's Christmas because he's sitting with a turkey.  Okay.   Sin Cara hits a dive out of the ring to begin to take over the offense.  In the end, he hits Axel with the Swanton to get the win.

I think they've sweetened the audio a little as this is taped, but Sin Cara is getting a bit more reaction than he has in the past.  The visual seemed to match up with the audio a bit better than normal.  He looked good here.

Cole reminds us of what happened last week on Smackdown.  Bryan got taken out by the Wyatts, leaving Punk and Cena to face the Shield alone.  They show highlights of the match that ended up as a three on two handicap.  Cena took a spear and a triple powerbomb, but Big E Langston came out for the save before they could do the same to Punk.  Cole hypes the six man between those men coming up later.

Backstage:

Bad Santa Sandow is with AJ and Tamina when a little girl approaches.  She tells him his breath stinks and Sandow tells her that he should bring her a toothbrush.  Sandow says he sees her when she sleeps and when she's awake and thinks all children are ungrateful.  He says he has a better idea and says Christmas is canceled and the little girl runs.  Voiceover hype for the Bad Santa vs. Good Santa match hits.

Vince McMahon has a ton of clout if he can cancel the holiday.

We see Big Show in a diaper, dancing and using noisemakers to hype the New Years Raw.  Yes, we saw that.

If you're enjoying beverages with me, take a big swig, then crack another and swig it.  Some things cannot be unseen.

We get a hype package for the return of Batista.  We'll see him on January 20.

I'm interested to see how they use him and how long of a run this may or may not be.  His heel run before he left was good, but will he still have that in him?

Bad News Barrett is out in the streets, soliciting charitable donations and thanking passers-by who give.  A bit out of sorts for the heel character, but okay.

They show us a recap of recent events between the Wyatts and Daniel Bryan from the TLC pay per view and on Smackdown last Friday.  Wyatt says they could have been friends but the other two toss Bryan off a loading dock.  Cole says that Wyatt did not take kindly to being rejected by Bryan.

Match #3 - Cody Rhodes and Goldust and Daniel Bryan vs. The Wyatt Family

Cole mentions that Rhodes and Goldust were on the "Slammy Award winning" JBL and Cole Show.  JBL says that Bryan will "fake it til he makes it" and he's banged up going into this match.  This is next on Raw Christmas.  After the break, the Wyatts make their entrance.  Cole explains that Rowan wears the mask because it makes him feel like a lamb until it's off, then he becomes a monster.  Take a drink.

Wyatt sits in his rocking chair and laughs as Bryan taunts him.  The three finally make their way to the ring, with Bryan calling Wyatt out.  Rhodes starts off with Rowan, then the face team controls Harper for a short period of time.  Harper begins to tee off on Bryan but misses a charge and ends up in a Tree of Woe, which gets him kicked around a bit before a missile drop kick.  Bryan calls for Bray to join the match going into break.

Cody sells for the heels out of the break, then gets the hot tag to Goldust.  He hits some of his trademark offense.  The announcers rant that he has had a great year as Goldust hits a huracanrana.  He then eats a boot to the face to stop the run and Harper tags in Wyatt, who takes control of Goldust.  The announcers talk about the return of Batista and recap some of the show happenings to this point.  Wyatt continues the control then tags in Harper, who continues the offense.  Rowan gets a near fall as Goldust continues to sell.

Rowan applies the claw and throws Goldust out of the corner then tags Harper.  Goldust hits a modified version of the Canadian Destroyer to create separation.  WOW!  Bryan gets the hot tag and goes on a run on Rowan.  He hits his series of kicks then goes up for the headbutt that hits the mark.  Wyatt charges the ring to break the fall up, then Bryan goes after him.  Rowan is out there to greet him though and it's a big collision.  Wyatt asks how it feels as we go to the next break.

Good long match here.  Bryan sells for the heels for a bit, then hits a tornado DDT on Rowan to get the hot tag to Cody.  Cody goes to work on Harper with a running knee then rolls up Harper.  He hits Rowan with the Disaster Kick then a drop toe hold on Harper.  Cody hits him with a moonsault for a fall that Wyatt breaks up.  Wyatt takes a missile drop kick from Bryan, who follows it with a suicide dive.  He fires away on Wyatt til Rowan throws Bryan to the barrier.

Back in the ring, Cody fights off Harper, but he got the tag to Wyatt. After a Disaster Kick, Wyatt tags in quickly and hits Sister Abigail for the win.  The Wyatts dispose of Goldust and Cody, then attack Bryan.  Wyatt directs traffic as his boys put the boots to Bryan, then he tells Bryan it doesn't have to be like this.  He poses over Bryan then the weird cut-out hits and Wyatt is in his chair with his boys flanking him.  JBL says they could have destroyed Bryan but chose not to.

This was a good long television match, and WWE did wonders to forward two stories here - the Bryan/Wyatt eventual meeting and the story between Rowan and Harper and the tag champs (Goldust and Cody).  It matters not that Wyatt got the pin here because the story did get told.

Backstage:

We get Mark "Good Santa" Henry with the Bellas and Hornswoggle.  A little boy walks in and he looks forlorn because he met Damien "Bad Santa" Sandow earlier and he's threatening to cancel Christmas.  Henry says it will be the merriest Christmas ever.

They show Clayton Kershaw and Max Scherer, the NL and AL Cy Young award winners, posing with WWE title belts that they received from Vince McMahon.

Bad News Barrett is shown out on the street collecting money for a cause again and thanking passers-by for giving.

Singing Contest:

Xavier Woods, R-Truth, Cameron and Naomi, Santino and Great Khali, and 3MB.  Woods and Truth do O Holy Night, and aren't bad.  3MB is horrible.  Great Khali and Marella are decking the halls worse than Drew's horrible Christmas sweater.  This shit is happening tonight, really.  Take a drink.

Truth and Woods get a good round of applause, 3MB gets booed out of the building, and Marella and Khali win, somehow.  That makes 3MB mad and they attack.  Marella pulls out the Cobra Deer and they chase out out 3MB.  He, Woods, Truth, and Great Khali sing "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" to close it out.  Horrible, horrible segment.

We get a split screen of Fandango and Dolph Ziggler.  They get a Christmas Present on a Pole Match, next.

Vince Russo lives on!

Match #4 - Dolph Ziggler vs. Fandango (w/Summer Rae); Christmas Present on a Pole Match

Retrieve the present, win the prize.  It's an Intercontinental title shot.  Fandango controls the early going and makes  a play for the present but Ziggler stops him.  Fandango delivers some shots but takes a whip from Ziggler.  Ziggler makes a play but Fandango stops him.  Ziggler hits a Fameasser and makes another play for the present.  He gets blasted off the ropes and to the floor.  Both men are outside the ring.

The two men make plays for the present in the corner.  Fandango gets crotched and Ziggler goes for the present, with it in hand.  Fandango stops him and knocks Ziggler to the floor in a nasty bump off the stairs.  Fandango claims the present, which gives him a title shot against Big E next Monday on Raw.

Gimmick on a pole match.  It was fine for what it was and I sort of expected heel Fandango to go over on the face Ziggler to go at the face Langston.  I don't figure Fandango to win though.  And for Gimmick on a pole matches - take 3 drinks in honor of Vince Russo.

Match #5 - The Uso Brothers vs. The Primetime Players

Darren Young screws up and says that they're in Houston.  Titus says they aren't greedy but they want three things: A win tonight, a shot at the tag titles, and to do their Millions of Dollars Dance.  They do that before the Usos come out to the ring.

Titus starts off with I think Jimmy.  Basic moves to start, and Uso tries a cross body.  Titus catches him and hits a fallaway move.  Darren Young gets tagged in and gets a "This is Austin!" chant.  Usos control the offense while Cole and JBL chat about Texas coaches and quarterbacks.  Young hits a nice Northern Lights suplex to get the offense moving.

Blind tag and Uso hits some kicks.  They mock Young with the Austin stuff, then hit a Samoan drop and the butt splash in the corner.  Titus saves the match, but he gets dumped and Young takes a superkick.  Uso puts on a Rudolph nose before hitting the big splash for the win.  The announcers give us a recap.  All four men are in the ring and they do the "millions of dollars" dance together.

The four of them doing the dance together made little sense to me.  The fans got all over Young for the faux pas on the town name thing.

Cole gives us a tweet from Bad Santa about it being time to go, and then a tale of the tape.  JBL says Christmas is done as they show a split screen shot of the two men coming to the ring.  Battle for Christmas is next!

Match #6 - Mark "Good Santa" Henry vs. Damien "Bad Santa" Sandow; The Battle for Christmas

Henry is out first and he gets a nice reaction.  JBL says he's a Longhorn fan and Cole tells him that Mark Henry is the same guy.  Sandow gets booed as he comes out and he drops lumps of coal.  JBL says this might be it.

We start off with Henry uncovering a toilet, and he stuffs Sandow's face in it.  Sandow unwraps a fire extinguisher but can't figure out how to work it.  Henry helps him and sprays him with it.  This must be no DQ by the way.  Sandow beats Henry with a candy cane then wrecks the stage.  JBL says this is great and kids should work for their gifts.

Henry keeps in control, clotheslining Sandow into a tree then throwing him in the ring.  Cole is trying to make this an epic battle, but it's horrible.  Have a drink, as it's another blown fire extinguisher spot for Sandow.  Henry can use it though.  He hits the World's Strongest Slam and mercifully ends this match.

Henry finds a gift with his name on it after the match, and it has cupcakes in it. He takes a bite then splats it in Sandow's face.  Jimmy Stewart is rolling in his grave by now, JBL says.  We're all rolling our eyes.  Cole says Christmas has been saved.

Dear god this was bad.  Sandow apparently lost to Cena to be in this horrible gimmick match.  Wow.  But it fit the theme of the show, if not loosely.

Backstage:

Renee Young is with CM Punk.  She says that he has documented issues with the Shield.  He says they've been trying to ruin everything for everyone, and now they're ruining Christmas.  He says he needed something drastic and asked Santa for help.  Good Santa delivered him two partners, Big E. Langston.  Langston says he's handing out beatings this season.  He introduces Cena, who cuts a goofy promo about finding the Shield's Christmas list.  He says that Reigns wants his teeth knocked out, and Big E. says he will give him that.  Rollins wants an attitude adjustment, and Ambrose must not have slept for days because he wants to go to sleep. They join fists like the Shield does and Langston says "Believe in that."

Remember those "superpowers" promos from the 80's?  That's exactly what this reminded me of.  It wasn't bad - but it was that kind of promo.  And I'm convinced "Release the Langston" is a disguised penis joke.  Take three drinks.

Match #7 - Los Matadores (w/El Torito) vs. The Real Americans (w/Zeb Colter)

Colter cuts a promo calling Santa an illegal alien. Yes, he did that.  He makes fun of the Austin folks saying there are many illegals there as well and they'll sneak back across the border.  We the People.  El Torito is in white tonight.  Swagger is greeted with "OU Sucks" chants.  Screw you, Austin, TX.

Early on we get the Cesaro swing on one of the Matadores, and they count along.  JBL wants him swung until New Years.  Cesaro looks a bit dizzy, as the Matadores do a bait and switch outside.  Matadores tries a small package but Swagger breaks things up.

One Matadores hits a suicide dive on Cesaro, while the other hits a moonsault.  Take a drink on the bull references by the announce team.  Cesaro throws Matadore into the ringside barrier.  The bull hits a gore on Cesaro, and the other Matadore hits a cross body on Swagger to get the win.  The announcers recap as the Matadores celebrate.

Bah.  Take a drink for the Bull references again.

We get a recap of The Shield vs. CM Punk and John Cena.  Pretty much the same package they aired earlier.  This is to set up the six man tag for the main event.

Match #8 - Kofi Kingston vs. Ryback

Kofi makes his entrance prior to the commercial break.  He's up next against Ryback.  That should give you time to retrieve a beer, or other drink of choice. 

Ryback throws Kofi around a little, but he tries a back suplex and Kofi flips through it.  They say that Ryback is looking for a weight bench and a bunch of egg whites.  Take two drinks for egg whites.  Kofi hits a nice dive outside of the ring, but Ryback comes back with a clothesline.  Bottoms up for the Goldberg chants.

GoldBack takes over with clubbing offense while JBL plugs MRA with Shawn Michaels.  More namedropping, so bottoms up.  Ryback controls Kofi with a bear hug while they debate Kofi wanting a crew cut.  Ryback gets a two count out of a delayed vertical suplex.  He tries something off the ropes but eats Kofi's boot.

Kingston comes back and hits the Boom Drop, then tries for Trouble in Paradise.  Ryback counters and hits a springboard cross body instead.  He tries a move in the corner but takes the Meathook clothesline.  Ryback hits Shellshocked to get the win.  Take two drinks because Kofi lost again.  The announcers recap it for us.

Cole hypes the main event six-man tag match still to come tonight going into commercial.

We get some still shots of WWE stars such as Vince McMahon, R-Truth, Big Show and Eva Marie visiting troops in Afghanistan.  Cole hypes Tribute to the Troops coming up on Saturday.

#BadNewsBarrett Segment:

Barrett says he was out raising money all day, and it's raised thousands and thousands of dollars and he thanks Austin.  His bad news though, is that he's not affiliated with any charity and it's going home with him.  It will be a happy holiday at the Bad News Barrett household.  Cole calls him a scrooge.  Take a drink for scam charity.

They recap Punk's loss last week on Raw.  They cut to the Shield backstage.  Ambrose tells Punk he has three thorns in his side.  Rollins tells Cena and Punk they've walked this alley before and the result will be the same - they will be laying on the ground. Reigns talks to Big E, telling him he is now swimming with the sharks in the deep end.  Believe in that.

Reigns is improving on the mic and gaining confidence.  If they split the Shield up, he is showing promise of being a good stand-alone talent.  The main event should be fun, especially with as much beer as I've drank.

We get the New Years Eve edition of Raw hype again, with Baby Big Show.  Take another chug or four for seeing Big Show in a diaper again.

Match #9 - Big E. Langston, CM Punk, and John Cena vs. The Shield

Main event time!  Punk gets his entrance first to a nice reaction.  JBL puts over that Punk got two early presents in Cena and Langston.  Langston comes out next, and Cena last to his normal mixed reaction, although they did show a blonde in a tank top bouncing up and down for him.  Focus, Bill...focus.  After a plug for the Royal Rumble, the Shield make their entrance through the crowd.

If I'm not hung over then, I may try to head to Pittsburgh to be at the Rumble live.  We'll see how that goes.

Dueling Cena chants early on.  He works with Rollins and goes right for the Five Knuckle shuffle but Rollins rolls out.  The Shield regroups and Reigns tags in.  He works Cena over and hits him with a Samoan drop as they go to break.

After the break, Punk goes on a flurry.  He hits a leg lariat on Ambrose, followed with a suicide dive.  He ends up getting in trouble though and ends up selling for the Shield.  Rollins misses a charge that gives Punk a hope spot.  Reigns gets the tag though and uses a bear hug and a belly to belly to work the injured ribs.  The Shield work quick tags as Cole resets the show for us at the 11PM hour.

Punk hits a belly to back suplex for some separation, but Punk can't get the tag.  Ambrose knocks Cena off the apron, then Reigns hits a big flying clothesline.  The Shield taunts but Punk creates separation again.  Reigns gets the tag and misses a charge which lets Punk tag Langston.

Langston goes on a run, taking out the Shield.  He hits a big belly to belly, and cues up the Big Ending but Rollins hits an ensugiri.  Cena catches Rollins and cues up the AA but takes a spear from Reigns.  Punk hits an elbow off the ropes on Reigns but takes a knee to the back from Ambrose.  Langston cues the Big Ending again, and hits it, but the Shield breaks the fall up.  That throws it out.

The Shield try to gang up on Big E., but Cena stops Reigns from delivering the triple powerbomb.  Cena throws him into the railing, and he and Punk hit the ring while Langston hits double clotheslines on Rollins and Ambrose.  Cena hits the AA while Punk hits the GTS, and the faces stand tall.  Cole hypes the three of them, with Langston as "the rising star" and JBL calls them a formidable team.  The faces celebrate as Cole wishes everyone Merry Christmas and signs off.

Well, logic failed me here, or I've had a few too many drinks.  Cena breaks up a pinfall, and it's no issue, but Reigns breaks it up and it throws the match out?  Very, very odd booking there.  I like how they teased going to Langston in the match, but they didn't give it enough time to really make it all that effective.  That said, they did try hard to give the IC champ some rub here and they succeeded to some degree.  Well played.

It's the Christmas show, so what did we all expect, really?  WWE gave us their normal dose of holiday week silliness but still managed to work in some good in-ring action.  Sadly, it felt kind of throw-away wrapped up in all the Christmas gimmickery. 

Nothing really of major note tonight except for the return of Batista, which makes sense in a holiday week like this.  He'll be back on January 20 and it'll be interesting to see where he plugs in to things.  Will he be in the Rumble?  Will he directly feud with someone?  We shall see.

No Raw Afterthoughts this week, as tomorrow is Christmas Eve.  We'll be back next Monday with coverage of the New Years' week edition of Raw, hopefully without Big Show in a diaper, live here on Ring-Rap.com.  In the meantime, I think I speak for all of us here on staff in wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and happy holidays for whatever it is you celebrate!  Join us next week, and always join in the conversation on the Twittah Machine too!