I'm going to change up the Monday Night Raw recap format this week, if only because it's the final look back at the show in 2016 and because, well, this episode didn't inspire much creative energy. If that sounds like a cop out of sorts, well, I won't fight you on that.
Thankfully, our own Reverend Kain does the best damn live blog in the business, so you can get up to date on every detail of Raw here. I'll just hit you with some assorted thoughts on the show:
- Stephanie McMahon is amazing and that crack on CM Punk is one of the greatest moments of the year in WWE. Fans chanting for him at this point are just sad. It’s all so sad. He doesn’t care. They don’t care. It’s just an opportunity for Stephanie to eat them up, and did she ever.
- Braun Strowman, like it or not, is actually getting over in front of live audiences, although maybe Chicago isn't the best town to judge this on. Sure, they still wildly cheered the babyface opposing him but the fact that he's finding acceptance here means it isn't far off everywhere else and what they've done, slow as it took them, worked. Also, he brandished a Christmas tree on this show. He's incredible, and it's great to see so many folks coming around on that fact. He should have hurt Seth Rollins a lot more, though.
- Speaking of Rollins, his sudden partnership with Roman Reigns makes me terribly uneasy. The trauma of that day years ago has faded, yes, but the scar remains and it's vibrating. I'm just waiting for another chair shot to the back...
- You knew Kevin Owens wasn't going to win the United States championship and this story with Chris Jericho is treading water. It needs something to move it forward. What the hell is TV going to look like for the next few weeks before the Royal Rumble?
- Anything for heat but it's a bit much when dealing with death and Cody Rhodes' tweet was heartbreaking, especially considering Bayley was involved in the segment.
- Bayley, by the way, is a great foil for Charlotte in a physical sense but I don't know that I want to sit through another talking segment involving the two. The promo work from the Raw women's division leaves much to be desired.
- Bravo to whoever came up with the idea to have Nia Jax beat up wrestlers inspired by Sasha Banks while she's absent. It's a creative way to get heat on Jax while putting Sasha over strong as the babyface without her ever having to show up to the arena.
- Big fan of the BROGUE KICK OUTTA NOWHERE but my god, can we move on from Sheamus and Cesaro only kind of getting along and always trying to one up each other? This is school yard nonsense to the extreme and it's tired.
- The cruiserweight division is getting some real time, a couple of stories, and the characters are developing. I'm still not sold they're ever going to amount to anything more than a niche within a niche but that would be a success, wouldn't it?
- Jinder Mahal is YOKED and it feels strange, but good on him for beating some demons in his personal life to help get him there. This Enzo & Cass vs. Rusev & Lana stuff is bad, though.
This wasn't a bad show, necessarily, but it didn't give you much to remember or feel excited about. It feels good to get to 2017, though!