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WWE Raw recap and reactions (Dec. 12, 2016): History

WWE Raw returned last night (Dec. 12) from Philadelphia, PA with the Roadblock: End of the Line go home show. I know you were promised the return of Geno Mrosko tonight, but much like Emmalina, he’s been delayed another week.

You can find all of the results and action from the show at the live blog here.

Making History

The New Day had to put in the work tonight to beat Demolition’s record to become the longest reigning tag team champions. That work included not one but two tag team title triple threat matches in a show long arc that wouldn’t just involve them, but incorporate the Roman Reigns/Kevin Owens feud, the Chris Jericho/Seth Rollins feud, and of course, the personal issues between once best friends Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens.

In the first match, the New Day fended off the Club and Cesaro/Sheamus to retain the titles (in a match that Cesaro just went wild in). Of course, their momentous victory deserved a backstage celebration. Unfortunately for the champs, during that party (a party where Big E ate Booty O’s out of a punch bowl with a ladle!), Stephanie McMahon got doused with champagne. Serves her right for going to a backstage WWE party that had champagne.

Kevin Owens took advantage of the boss’ anger and convinced her to give him and Jericho a tag title match to close the show. Owens is still trying to win back his friend (presumably because he knows he can’t win without him). He revealed this information on Seth Rollins’ new talk show “The Rollins Report” that is like every other WWE talk show ever and probably won’t get renewed for a second season. While Y2J is still reluctant to make up with Owens, he was down for the title match. After the Architect continued to try to drive the wedge between the two, they tried to attack him and Roman Reigns made the save.

This led to Mick Foley digging what he saw and since he loves to put people in tag team matches who don’t want to be in tag team matches, he added the former tag champions of Reigns and Rollins into the main event.

The main event match was quite the blast with plenty of action and nearfalls between six men who know how to work between those ropes. Xavier replaced Kofi in the main event in a smart move to get a fresher body into the match.

The match ended after a superb nearfall when the Best Friends looked to be on the same page with Kevin Owens popping up Xavier Woods into the Code Breaker. (The fact that these guys are breaking up and we won’t get to see this double team move again is a bit saddening.) Jericho went for the cover and Owens wisely went to block Rollins from breaking it up. Seth was able to shove KO into Y2J to break up the pin as part of a great false finish.

Owens hitting Jericho enraged Chris and he started bickering with Owens. This allowed Rollins to hit a Pedigree on everyone’s favorite scarf wearing rockstar. However, Big E pulled Rollins out of the ring and Xavier was able to just roll over to get the 1-2-3.

History was made.

It was really great to see these three break the record. The team that started off as a generic, dancing trio got things going and now hold a record that will be hard to beat. WWE ended up backing off the heel turn for the New Day tonight for them to break the record. After the match, sitting on the ring apron, Big E kept telling his partners that they were his brothers in a really sweet moment.

Letting them win less heelishly made sense, though it is a quick course change from where they were the last couple of weeks. If I were to have any gripe about how this was all put together, I would have liked to see the tag title pursuit be a bit more of the focus than Jericho/Owens and the Shield guys issues with the former best friends. But that’s small potatoes. The main event was set up so people could root for whomever they wanted. If you wanted to see the New Day get it done (like I did) you could root for that. But it wasn’t set up in a way that it was weird rooting against them if you preferred the former Shield mates or the former best friends.

As for Owens and Jericho, after the match was over, he continued to yell at Owens. KO continued to play his part of trying to prevent the break up, trying to calm Jericho down. He didn’t want to be antagonistic. He needs Chris. But Y2J doesn’t need him so he left the ring to allow his former best friend to get hit by a Reigns spear.

Fire Him Up

Sami Zayn finally got his match against Braun Strowman. But he had to show Mick Foley that he was ready. When he demanded the match earlier in the night (after Braun murdered Curtis Axel, RIP Ax Man), Foley told him he wasn’t ready. At the end of his rope, Sami demanded a trade to SmackDown. Mick agreed to get on the phone with Daniel Bryan and put one together.

After Sami defeated Jinder Mahal (remember him?), Mick came to the ring with his new contract in hand. The GM made the trade and Sami just needed to sign. Zayn tried one more time to get what he really wanted: Braun Strowman. But Mick dug his heels in, telling Sami that he didn’t want Strowman. So all it came down to was the signature.

But before Sami put pen to paper, the Hardcore Legend asked if he wanted to know who he traded him straight up for. It was Eva Marie!

This infuriated the Underdog from the Underground. He fired up, shouting that he’s worth a thousand Eva Maries. Foley liked his fire and asked him again how much he wanted Braun Strowman. Sami got into his face almost screaming he was ready for Strowman. That was enough for Foley. He gave him the match.

In fact, this was all a ruse to get Sami to show Mick the fire Foley thought he needed to fight the monster Strowman. There was never a trade. This was all a test to bring out the fire burning in Zayn. (I think Mick judges someone’s intensity by if they can shout as loud as he can.) And while I jest about Foley yelling, I feel these two yelling at each other worked here.

I am sure this segment disappointed some people. Those like Geno were likely sad that they didn’t get to see Eva Marie on Raw. There were probably plenty more that wanted to see Zayn on the blue brand. But this segment was a good way to head into the PPV.

It would never have made sense for Foley to trade Sami. The story is based around the fact that Zayn is too important to Foley to feed him to Strowman. Choosing Eva Marie was a great decision because her entire character is based on the fact she’s a terrible wrestler who avoids matches. (Choosing even someone like Curt Hawkins would have been a bit too insulting to the man.)

Foley made the stipulation that this is a 10-minute time limit match. That adds intrigue that a regular match would never have. We could all guess that Sami isn’t picking up a pin on big Braun. But lasting 10 minutes, something no one has done, is something he can do. He doesn’t need to win. He just needs to survive. And that’s something that Sami Zayn can do.

Promo of the Year

No one should have tried to cut a promo after Jack Gallagher walked out there with the microphone last night. Because the dude was “extraordinary.”

Last Monday on Raw, Jack Gallagher picked up his second win in a row over Ariya Daivari and Daivari attacked Jack’s leg afterwards. They met up again the next night on 205 Live and Daivari focused on that leg to pick up a win.

So of course, next up was for Jack Gallagher to interfere in Daivari’s match with Lince Dorado. And how did he interfere? HE ANNOUNCED IT!

The man came out with a microphone and “announced his intention of interfering in this match” and “deliver a thorough thrashing!” Brilliant! And then he did it!

Jack Gallagher is special. He’s unique and that’s so important in wrestling. He’s different on the microphone and he’s different in the ring. If just left to his own accord, this man could be a big star in the Cruiserweight division.

All the rest:

Video greatness

Sasha Banks and Charlotte were represented by a video package highlighting their long history. In WWE, there’s nothing wrong with getting the video package treatment because they do video packages really well and tonight’s was no exception. Ric Flair wasn’t in the video package so hopefully that means he won’t be a factor in the match this weekend.

These two have had a long history and another round of promos tonight wouldn’t have done much more than the video did. Onto the Iron Man match!

Hoss Fight!

Rusev and Lana came out promising to show us what they do behind closed doors. (Have sex... they teased us with a sex tape.) Of course, it wasn’t. It was just the video of Rusev beating the tar out of Enzo Amore from last week. Admittedly, that was behind closed doors so I’ll technically count it.

Big Cass came out looking for a fight and the two big dudes brawled, setting up a match for Sunday. Whatever the build, I’m looking forward to this hoss match.

Bayley def. Alicia Fox

In a rematch from last week, Bayley once again defeated Alicia Fox. Foxy is still upset that last week the Hugger tried to give Foxy’s boyfriend, Cedric Alexander, a Bayley Bear. So this week, she ripped apart one of the bears and left it in Bayley’s bag. To her credit, Bayles was calm and explained that she wasn’t trying to hit on Cedric. But when Fox said her win last week was a fluke, the rematch was on.

Sure, they could be doing more with Bayley, but at least they didn’t come up with a reason to 50/50 this. Plus, I enjoy crazy Fox. Since the women’s match on Sunday is a final match, they should be shaking up the feuds afterwards. If that’s the case, this is all fine.

Brian Kendrick def. TJ Perkins

To get us ready for the triple threat between these two and Rich Swann at Roadblock, these two had a match. Kendrick won. There was a backstage promo earlier but no one said the words “thorough thrashing” so not much to say here.

I ended up thoroughly enjoying this Raw. Tying in the three big stories of the evening made the show feel a bit shorter since all of the main segments connected. Yes, the actual Universal title match was barely mentioned again and it clearly has become an afterthought to the break up of Owens and Jericho. But for a late December PPV, that’s not terrible.

The show tonight focused on the New Day trying to retain their titles and beat the record and that’s something that should get focus. It’s quite the feat. The Braun/Sami/Foley stuff has been the most consistent story told on Raw and they booked the match for Sunday to put the finish in question. And the Gentleman Jack Gallagher is straight up awesome.

And a random thought to end it: I kind of wish Roadblock was subtitled “End of the Road” instead of “End of the Line” so they could use the Boyz II Men song as the official theme.

But that’s neither here nor there.

Grade: B

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