WWE returned to the USA network for Monday Night Raw last night (Dec. 14, 2015) from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with all the fallout from the TLC pay-per-view (PPV) that went down this past Sunday night in Boston. That show delivered the goods on the WWE Network and this show delivered the goods on the USA Network. So many goods.
Click here to get full results with the live blog. Let's get to reacting to all the night's events.
Behold the king
One night after he fought tooth and nail to get over in front of an apathetic Boston crowd, Roman Reigns returned to the scene of the Royal Rumble crime, sans megastar cousin, to attempt to do the same in Philadelphia.
He was a made man when he walked in the building.
Let's watch Stephanie slap Roman Reigns around
After what Roman Reigns did to her husband at "TLC" the night before, Stephanie McMahon got pissed and took it out on him at "Monday Night Raw" by slapping the taste right out of his mouth.
That performance at TLC changed everything, and that was clear the moment Stephanie McMahon walked out and was booed until she mentioned Reigns having put the boots to her husband, Triple H. They cheered this. They cheered every mention of his name, and they cheered his music, and they even cheered his promo -- still awkward, but good enough -- when he called the entire McMahon family garbage.
They didn't stop cheering when Stephanie tried her usual routine of running down the top babyface to get herself over, including slapping him hard across the face too many times for comfort. They were with him, and they weren't changing that for anything.
Then, Stephanie announced that Vince McMahon was making his big return later to deal with this himself.
What a nice touch this was.
For all their big talk, The Authority -- who switch alignments too often to be truly effective on a consistent basis -- are kind of bad at this whole holding people down thing. So Vince was back to take care of matters himself, because he's Vince McMahon damn it.
He's an outstanding character, and I could listen to him talk in the patented Vince Voice all day and night. I'm also a huge fan of how much of an unapologetic bastard he is, what with walking out in the middle of an R-Truth vs. Bo Dallas match and telling them to go kick rocks because he's Vince McMahon, damn it, and he's here to do business.
The Roman Empire is upon us
Roman Reigns failed to win the WWE world heavyweight championship from Sheamus at "TLC" in Boston. He did not fail to do so the next night on "Raw" in Philadelphia.
This, of course, leads to a showdown with Reigns and it absolutely felt electric to have the two sharing a ring. And they even booked Roman proper here, not giving him many lines and continuing his streak of defiance. He did go back to making fun of other dude's balls but at least it made sense here, considering he needed to get Vince to agree to a title shot and the easiest way to piss off a deeply insecure typical male like Vince is to attack his manhood. It basically ensures he'll try to set you up to get revenge on you in the coldest way possible.
So, screwing you out of another WWE world heavyweight title win and then firing his ass.
Which is what made Reigns' ultimate triumph that much better.
The match wasn't nearly as good as last night, but that's because it couldn't live up to what they managed to pull off last night, both in physicality and storytelling. They came close, considering they had to overcome a fatigued crowd and a seemingly obvious outcome.
The booking was beautiful. They teased a Reigns win to such a degree it was certain, then had Vince rip it away by taking the referee out. They built perfectly to that moment when Roman laid him out with a Superman Punch -- a nice bit of a payback for an earlier dick kick -- and Vince sold death for him. Then, immediately after, they had Sheamus hit a Brogue Kick for a way too close for comfort near fall that had you breathless.
Then, the spear.
Finally, a three count.
As he did last night, as he's done delivering in so many big matches both in and out of kayfabe for all of 2015, Roman Reigns earned this WWE world heavyweight championship victory. He went into an arena where they booed him out of the building less than a year before despite an endorsement from The Rock and had them cheering him as their conquering King.
Long may he reign.
All the best to all the rest
Dolph Ziggler vs. Dean Ambrose: I wasn't nearly as into this match as I expected to be considering the two involved, perhaps because of the rollercoaster of nonsense that has been the Ziggler character, but a very mean, nasty version of Kevin Owens showed up and got all mean and nasty and there is much to look forward to in the Intercontinental title scene.
Ryback & Jack Swagger vs. Alberto Del Rio & Rusev: Guess what happened? Yep! Rusev pinned Swagger because there is just no beating Rusev if you're Jack Swagger. One day, Jack. Don't you ever give up. One day it will happen. The match was fine.
Rosebush: This is dumb and should stop immediately.
Tyler Breeze vs. Neville: I'm not sad about Tyler Breeze meeting this fate on the main roster for Breeze, I'm sad it means we're getting less and less of Summer Rae, who is a gifted performer who should be featured in a much bigger role on this show. I like what they're doing with The Miz and Neville, but neither character has been given much time of late so there isn't much heat for any of it -- yet.
The Wyatt Family vs. ECW Originals: They did a promo backstage where The Dudley Boyz, Tommy Dreamer, and Rhyno were trying to summon ghosts of Philadelphia past that I'm still laughing at. It was the best kind of cheesy pro wrestling promo work that you either hated or loved and there is no in between. The same can probably be said of the match the two teams had, which I thought was super dumb fun if only because I find it impossible not to enjoy a bunch of big dudes just beating the tar out of each other. What's more, they gave us some fun spots and the booking was great! Erick Rowan, the only eliminated member of The Wyatt Family at TLC, was given the pin to put the heels over once more. It was as though WWE thought it best to give Philly a match like this but didn't sacrifice the booking to do it, which was really great to see.
New ... DayBabyfaces: This confused me. The New Day come out, put over the brutality of their triple threat tag match at TLC, bring out The Usos and Lucha Dragons, tell them they respect what they did and let's just bury the hatchet, and everyone shakes hands. It was different. It was nice. The Usos and Dragons started to walk out and New Day started celebrating their title win. Then, for some reason, The Usos and Dragons decided this was absolutely unacceptable and ran back in and kicked the shit out of them. The crowd in Philadelphia had the correct response to this and booed the two teams for this. The problem here is this didn't appear to be booked like a double turn. They just thought it was a good way to get heat on New Day. Just a terribly written segment.
Charlotte & Becky Lynch vs. Alicia Fox & Brie Bella: Ric Flair helped Charlotte and Becky win by tripping up Alicia but the kick is Becky didn't see him interfere and believes she scored the submission win without assistance. This continues the growing discord between the two women on how exactly they like to conduct business -- Charlotte doesn't mind taking any edge she can get while Becky wants to do things the right way. I've seen the typical "Becky is a dumb babyface" reaction to this but have a feeling if they were telling this EXACT story in NXT there wouldn't be any of that talk. This isn't bad, it's just being done in a division that has been treated so poorly for so long fans aren't receptive to damn near anything.
I really liked most of this show. There were a few issues with booking and other mostly minor quibbles but the main story delivered all throughout the show, built to a good match, and they gave us a seriously satisfying finish. It's easy to overlook the small stuff when they hit a home run with the big dog angles.
I'm a happy WWE fan, Cagesiders. You?