Following last night’s Survivor Series, RAW emanated from a lively Toronto, Canada. Evidently, the major headline emerging from Survivor Series was the ninety second decimation of Brock Lesnar by Goldberg, who had not stepped inside a WWE ring since he last defeated Lesnar in 2004. Unsurprisingly, Golderg’s surprise victory was a central theme of the show amidst the beginnings of the build towards Road Block.
New Day def Cesaro & Sheamus to retain the Tag Team Championships.
Cedric Alexander def Ariya Daivari.
Rusev def Enzo Amore.
The Club def Golden Truth.
Braun Strowman def Sami Zayn.
Sasha Banks & Bayley def Charlotte & Nia Jax.
Rich Swann def Noam Dar, TJ Perkins to become the #1 contender for the Cruiserweight Championship.
Kevin Owens ded Seth Rollins to retain the Universal Championship.
Raucous chants of “Goldberg” accompanied the man that defeated Brock Lesnar in less than ninety seconds to the ring. Emotional, Goldberg addressed the events of Survivor Series, thanking the fans and his family for supporting his return. Goldberg lamented that “all good things come to an end” before explaining that Stephanie McMahon asked him if he had one last title run in him. Goldberg proceeded to declare he would be the first entrant in this year’s Royal Rumble.
Last night, prowrestlingsheet.com broke the story regarding Goldberg’s participation in the Royal Rumble. Given the manner he defeated Lesnar, it was patently obvious he would be returning. Admittedly, Goldberg had been receiving huge ovations since his return: this one felt different, this one was buoyed by the reassurance Goldberg was sticking around for the foreseeable future. Like it was 1998, Goldberg felt like the biggest star in the company.
New Day (Kofi Kingston & Big E) vs Cesaro & Sheamus
WWE Tag Team Championship Match
New Day prefaced the match with their customary nonsensical proclamations filled with contrived pop cultural references. Sheamus and Cesaro earned their title opportunity after they managed to coexist to win the Survivor Series’ elimination tag team match for Team RAW.
Cesaro’s ability to work with a variety of styles was on display here: Cesaro seamlessly adapted to suit Big E’s strength to Kingston’s finesse. Although this match has been played out extensively over the past few months, this felt fresh due to the crowd’s vocality following Goldberg’s segment. After the teams went back and forth, Cesaro caught an attempted Trouble in Paradise by Kofi Kingston, transitioning from the swing into the sharpshooter. As Kingston tapped, Woods stood on the apron playing his trombone to distract the referee. Moments later, Kingston rolled up Cesaro to retain the championships. I like this a lot: New Day appear to have jettisoned their happy go lucky attitude due to their desire to break Demolitions’ record title reign. That’s character development that has been absent for the past 400 days.
Chris Jericho promised to tell the world who was to blame for Team RAW’s defeat at Survivor Series.
Enzo Amore wandered around naked backstage after Cass locked him out of the locker room. Enzo accosted Lana before Rusev interrupted, speaking in innuendos. I heard Vince pulled a muscle from laughing. Rusev said that he would punish Enzo for accosting his wife.
— WWE (@WWE) November 22, 2016
Mick Foley asked Stephanie if she intended to fire members of male Team RAW at Survivor Series. Stephanie stated she wasn’t going to take such punitive measures before Sam Zayn interjected. Foley stated there would be ramifications for his loss, despite Stephanie claiming there would be no punishment moments earlier. Foley booked Zayn against Braun Strowman later in the evening.
Cedric Alexander vs Ariya Daivari
Much like the three on three tag at Survivor Series, this match served as little more than an advert for the upcoming cruiserweight only show, 205: Live. Adorning stereotypical Arabian headdress, Daivara chastised Canadians before the match.
This match was framed by the well worn trope of booing the man speaking in a different language. Well, it would have been if the crowd wasn’t lulled into mind numbing apathy. Alexander secured the victory following a lumbar check. Some people cheered, most thanked the graps lords it was over.
The Highlight Reel
A forlorn Chris Jericho arrived, clutching his list before providing the autopsy of Team RAW’s loss last night. Before Jericho could announce the cause of Team RAW’s loss, Universal Champion, Kevin Owens, emerged. Owens was rude and dismissive, retelling events from last night from his perspective.
Owens and Jericho argued about what it means to be a best friend. With a tear in his eye, Jericho complained that Owens was never there when he needed it before proclaiming that he was finished with Owens.
As Kevin Owens was about to blame Jericho for losing at Survivor Series, JeriKO said in unison that the loss was Roman Reigns’ fault as they hugged.
Owens began to blame Rollins before the man himself arrived. Rollins ran through a lame name calling routine, which set him up to be lightly booed. Rollins demanded another Universal Championship match, claiming he would take JeriKO out single handedly. As Rollins found himself on the end of a beat down, Roman Reigns emerged to even the numbers and clear the ring.
RAW GM, Mick Foley, arrived to announce Kevin Owens will face Seth Rollins in a No DQ match for the Universal Championship, with Jericho and Reigns banned from ringside. Banning Reigns and Jericho seems pretty optimistic given the No DQ stipulation.
Rusev vs Enzo Amore
Fortunately, Cass had allowed Enzo to get dressed. However, Rusev was still affronted by the temerity of Enzo Amore’s sexist ramblings. Rusev dispatched Enzo faster than Goldberg dispatched Brock Lesnar after submitting him with the accolade.
— WWE (@WWE) November 22, 2016
Golden Truth vs The Club
Winner gets a Tag Team Championship Match next week
Underscored by the sound of silence, The Club and Golden Truth had a back and forth match. Some weeks, WWE appear set on presenting The Club as a credible team. Other weeks, WWE appear set on confining The Club to mediocrity. The Club secured the victory and the opportunity to face New Day next week following the Magic Killer.
— WWE (@WWE) November 22, 2016
Sami Zayn vs Braun Strowman
As punishment for failing to bring the IC Title to RAW, Sami Zayn was forced to face Braun Strowman, who wasn’t punished for failing to secure the victory for Team RAW.
As Zayn was about to enter the ring, Strowman sprinted down the ramp to attack him from behind.
After Strowman tossed Zayn into the ring, he proceeded to toss Zayn around the ring with ease as a chant of “please don’t kill him” broke out. Animated by the crowd’s support, Zayn landed some offence but failed to make an impression on Strowman, who proceeded to decimate Zayn before Mick Foley arrived.
— WWE (@WWE) November 22, 2016
Perturbed, Foley arrived and declared the match was over.
Strowman looked great here once more. Sure, he has been tangibly improving on a week to week basis, but Zayn selling actual death made Strowman appear all the more heartlessly destructive. Moreover, Zayn was protected in defeat here: long term, Zayn vs Strowman is a good programme as it pits the consummate underdog against the literal embodiment of annihilation.
Charlotte, accompanied by her protege Dana Brooke, arrived to explain why she attacked Bayley at Surivor Series. In her customary patronising tone, Charlotte lambasted fans for their support of Bayley before Sasha Banks arrived. It goes on and on and on and on and on and on and on.
Sasha Banks demanded her rematch for the RAW Women’s Championship. Charlotte accepted the challenge before stating the match will be next week in her home town of Charlotte, NC.
Nia Jax arrived shortly after, insulting Banks’ appearance before attacking her. Bayley came to assist Sasha Banks, but she was prevented from entering the ring due to Nia Jax. The dialogue here was atrocious. The mitigating circumstances were Dana Brooke’s facial expressions.
Sasha Banks & Bayley vs Charlotte & Nia Jax
Since the brand split, the Women’s Division on RAW has been an abject shambles. This match attempted to redress that, with all four women being presented as equal. Sasha Banks secured the victory after submitting Charlotte with The Bank Statement.
Rich Swann vs Noam Dar vs TJ Perkins
# 1 Contender’s Match for the Cruiserweight Championship at the premier of 205: Live
Brian Kendrick, who was on commentary, did a good job of putting over each participant in the match. Dar, TJP and Swann all were given moments to showcase themselves, but-as is a weekly theme-the crowd only popped for the high spots rather than holding any emotional attachment to any character in particular. A clumsy finishing stretch was punctuated by a roundhouse kick by Rich Swann to TJP. Moments later, Rich Swann secured the victory and the right to face Brian Kendrick for the Cruiserweight Championship.
Kevin Owens (C) vs Seth Rollins
Universal Championship Match
No DQ Match-Chris Jericho & Roman Reigns banned from ringside
Rollins and Owens have decent chemistry, though it has yet to translate into anything other than a good match due to Chris Jericho’s continual interference. The issue has been that Rollins is still incredibly dislikable. Sure, his moveset is aesthetically pleasing, but he has appeared a significant distance away from mastering the nuances of working babyface. Combined with his questionble charactoral motivations-an embittered ex trying desperately to prove he is better off without his former partner- he has been really struggling.
This appeared to mark a turning point in Rollins’ babyface run.
Rollins and Owens used chairs and tables, creating suspense and believable near falls before the brawl spilled into the crowd. Rollins delivered a beautiful dive through the crowd before a man wearing a Sin Cara mask and a Nakamura hoodie attacked him. As Rollins retaliated, he pulled the mask off the man in the crowd to reveal it was Chris Jericho. Rollins pedigreed Jericho before eating a superkick courtesy of Owens. Moments later, Owens retained the Universal Championship after pinning Rollins following a pop up powerbomb on the apron. Despite the flaws in logic, this was a real good main event that really helped Seth Rollins.
Final Word: This was a really good edition of RAW: it didn’t drag nearly as much as previous weeks. Admittedly, there was low points-the continual lackluster booking of the cruiserweight division and an interminable Club vs Golden Truth come to mind- but there was a lot of good: Goldberg’s promo, Kevin Owens vs Seth Rollins and Braun Strowman vs Sami Zayn amidst a solid build to next week’s tv ensure that this show goes down as one of the better episodes of RAW in recent months