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Raw recap & reactions (Dec. 12, 2022): The fiendish Alexa Bliss

Alexa Bliss earns a shot at the Raw Women’s champion and Bobby Lashley gets a pink slip.

Fiendish

Last week, I asked a basic question from Bianca Belair’s perspective: friend or foe? Well, we kinda sorta got our answer. I say kinda sorta because while Alexa Bliss got the W over Bayley, she’s clearly going through some things so maybe the answer is both.

But let’s get to the match before I get back to that. Becky Lynch chased off Dakota Kai & IYO SKY before the bell rang. While that doesn’t completely settle the beef between Bayley and Becky, it’s a start. Then Bianca came ringside to scout, support Alexa, and ensure Bayley stayed on the straight and narrow. Bayley’s reaction when Bianca came out made me cackle. I always appreciate Bayley’s character work, even when it’s subtle things like exasperation when she believes everyone wants her head on a pike.

With the “deck stacked against her,” Bayley went for quick covers. She tried ending the match before it truly got going and I appreciate that. Bayley’s confidence of late comes from knowing Kai & SKY have her back. Even if they don’t show up when the match starts, they always show when it ends and tip the scale in her favor.

With the stakes this high and Bianca playing hall monitor, she started unsettled, which actually worked in Alexa’s favor. Bayley and Alexa wrestled a very methodical match. Bayley used her power against Alexa’s quickness, which makes sense. Bayley reversed a top rope attempt from Alexa into a spinebuster, then followed that with a Sunset flip powerbomb into the same turnbuckles.

Alexa kicked out of a Bayley-to-Belly and that’s when Bayley lost her cool. She removed the turnbuckle pad while the ref checked on Bliss, but Bianca noticed. I mean, how could she not? Bianca got the ref’s attention. Bayley turned her focus to the champ and off Alexa, who kicked Bayley out of the ring. Bayley got in Bianca’s face, almost begging the champ to hit her for a DQ win. But Bianca saw through it and basically distracted Bayley long enough for Alexa to take control with a dropkick when Bayley went back into the ring.

One Twisted Bliss later, and we have a new number one contender. But back to the thing I said up top, Bliss is going through some things. Bianca hit the ring and congratulated her friend and tried shaking her hand. Alexa turned that down and opted for a hug. But that damn Bray Wyatt butterfly flashed on the Titantron and Alexa put her friend in position for introduction to Sister Abigail. But she didn’t follow through, seemingly snapping out of the trance just in time. Alexa left the ring looking horrified while Bianca, and everyone else, looked confused.

Solid match with a better cliffhanger.


Extracurriculars

Mami Angry

An angry Rhea Ripley and an aggressive Asuka made magic this week. Rhea blames Asuka for her loss last week. Asuka didn’t appreciate what Rhea did to her after their triple threat match. They collided in the middle of the ring. As one of my favorite songs says, beef starts with the shove. Ripley shoved Asuka when the bell rang and Asuka went buck wild with kicks. Unlike Raw’s opening match, this was a slobberknocker out the gate. Asuka used her feet for roundhouse kicks, sweeps, and all Strong Style signifiers. Rhea was just strong with bear hugs, stomps, and kicks of her own.

The match turned when Dominik interfered once the match went outside the ring. Dom played sacrificial lamb for Rhea, putting himself in harms danger on her behalf. What I loved here was after Asuka attacked Dom and Rhea speared her then got her back in the ring, Rhea checked on Dom. She almost lost her advantage just to check on Dom’s well-being.

And she actually did. Rhea went for the Riptide but gave Asuka too much recovery time. The Empress reversed the hold and countered with the Asuka Lock. Rhea desperately tried getting her left foot on or under the rope but flailed wildly. Dom got out of the ref’s eyesight and placed Rhea’s foot on the bottom rope, then got on the apron and told the ref. Asuka, clearly done with Dom at this point, stepped to him and spit mist in his eyes.

That distraction allowed Rhea one more attempt at a Riptide and this time, she hit it.

Rhea won the match but found herself almost immediately wrapped up in Dom’s safety as he screamed at ringside. Rhea yelled for help and took him to the locker room.

This was a great match and Rhea continues her role as Raw’s most compelling wrestler. The backstage segment with Dom in pain while Rhea and the rest of Judgment Day looking on as the “doctor” administer eyedrops signified that we’re not finished with Asuka and Rhea. Mami wants revenge for her man. Which is fine because this match rocked and with more time, the next one might be great.

Walking Papers

Before Bobby Lashley and Seth Rollins tangoed, Dolph Ziggler addressed Austin Theory. Ziggler explained how much the United Sates championship means to him and every wrestler on Raw. He doesn’t believe Theory has what it takes for that responsibility. Speaking of Theory, the camera cut to him several times during this match. Nothing exciting or notable, just him watching tv in that weird way while wearing his favorite jacket.

Lashley came out hotter than blacktop in the middle of an August heatwave. In fact, he got so physical that he almost lost control. After clotheslining Rollins to the floor, Bobby grabbed the steel steps and almost got DQ’d. The ref talked him out of it but we’re clearly keeping this angle going that Bobby needs anger management. After dropping the steps, Lashley launched Rollins into the crowd with a back body drop.

Eventually, the action got back to the ring, where Seth only got in the game after biting Lashley. Yup, he pulled a Tyson: When nothing else worked, he started biting. He mounted some offense and then tried a Falcon Arrow. Nope, Bobby kept fighting. After going back to the outside, where Bobby once again found the advantage, Bobby put Seth back inside to finish the job. Seth dodged a spear, hit beautiful frog splash that once again didn’t put the big man away.

Seth went for a Curb Stomp that, well, Bobby blocked because he’s Bobby. The story here is that Seth just can’t handle Bobby. It’s only through desperate moves does Seth stand a chance. Or when Bobby makes mistakes.

Or when the ref takes a bump.

The ref bump here wasn’t great. And by that I mean he stumbled out the ring after Seth countered a Hurt Lock by backing into the same ring corner in which the ref stood. Yeah, he fell out the ring awkwardly as hell but... a leg injury? From that slow of a fall? And that modest of an impact from Bobby? Meh.

Anyway, to make a long story short, Bobby speared Rollins, the ref barely got back in the ring for a count and only got to two. Bobby went for another spear but Rollins countered with a sloppy Pedigree. The timing looked off and the two men just didn’t connect right for the move.

Seth got the W, and Bobby lost his temper. Bobby confronted the ref, complaining about the slow count. Another ref hit the ring and tried grabbing Bobby’s arm from behind. Bobby, unaware who tapped him, accidentally elbowed the man. Adam Pearce came ringside and after a back and forth, told Bobby his hands were tied. Bobby Lashley is fired.

This match was okay. Definitely not the best bout between these two and the ending just didn’t work for me. Not the greatest ending for Raw but Bobby’s firing does intrigue me.

Spilt Milk

Chad Gable is angry. Gable, still feeling embarrassed after taking that milk bath on SmackDown, stepped to AJ Styles backstage when The O.C. walked by laughing like hyenas. Turns out they too can’t get enough of watching Kurt Angle spray Chad and Otis with two percent milk, Gable insulted Angle, called him washed, just like Angle, and mentioned that all he ever hears anyone say is how good AJ used to be. AJ said “bet”—he didn’t but he should’ve—and we got a match.

AJ and Chad are incredibly smooth in the ring. I actually want more of a program between them, and not within the confides of a tag team story. Or outside of a story involving Chad’s hurt ego. I never get tired of the spot where Otis’ mass saves Chad from assured destruction. It’s simple but it works.

The ending really worked for me. Chad missed a moonsault, AJ went for a jackknife pin, got the two-count, flipped backwards over Chad and put him in the position for Styles Clash. Then got the pin and with the rest of The O.C. That was really dope.

My one criticism is with the California Boys & Girl no longer feuding with Judgment Day, they need something big. While I love AJ and Chad wrestling against each other, Alpa Academy plays the humorous tag team role at the moment. The O.C., at least as presented, is serious business. The problem is that as currently constructed, the only group that fits the bill is Judgment Day.

South of Heaven

Speaking of Judgment Day, they took on the Street Profits & Tozawa. Tozawa shined here, getting the best moments before the match with the solo cup, and killing it during the match. And seeing him beat up on Dominik Mysterio was a great move. My issue wasn’t with the match itself, which was a very fun six-man tag, or with the Judgment Day going over; it’s with what happens next. I know, I know, stories play out over weeks and sometimes we don’t understand why a thing happens until the following week. But Raw, at its best, eschews that in favor of whetting our appetites for the future. The Profits came back a couple weeks ago and as of now, they still seemingly have no larger story. Maybe that’s because the tag titles are locked down in the Uso penitentiary. But giving some larger direction to the Profits, and Judgment Day for that matter, feels necessary.

Without Edge, Judgment Day found a groove with the Rey Mysterio/Dominik/Rhea Ripley story. With part of that equation on Friday nights, they’re just engaging in random beatdowns. Which, sure, I guess, but it’s a step down from everything that came before.

Genius. Sheer Genius.

I watched Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 last night so that line echoes in my head at the moment. Anyway, IYO SKY defeated Candice LaRae with a gorgeous moonsault. Candice wanted revenge but Damage CTRL denied her that honor. Which makes sense seeing as how Dakota & IYO have a tag team championship match coming up on SmackDown and should look strong going into that. Candice is 1-1 in her Damage CTRL mission, so that’s not awful. But now one questions is going .500 good enough for her or does she want more?

Psycho Sigh

Look, I appreciate a silly wrestling segment as much as the next person. Johnny Gargano and Dexter Lumis buying WWE merchandise and sharing it with the crowd as Christmas gifts is fun...to a point. Dexter figuring out what to do with all that money is fun...to a point. But something Geno and I talked about in the Cageside office is the fact that some of Raw’s segments just go on way too long these days. This is one of them. Miz bum rushed the show and stole the purse with all that money because he’s “not liquid” right now. Adam Pearce hit the ring and made Miz return the money for basketball reasons, Then Johnny and Miz bickered in the ring for far too long, debating bank accounts, wives, and allowances.

Anyway, we finally got to the point: a ladder match. Not just any ladder match but one between Dexter and Miz with all that money hanging over the ring. Also, they forced Miz into an elf outfit and made him hand out gifts throughout the arena.

I wish this story would end and thought we were out of the woods. But nope, not yet.

Bloodline Ties

Elias never stood a chance against Solo Sikoa. Not even a little chance. So the match wasn’t the point here. Before the match, Elias wanted a word with Kevin Owens. One of those enemy of my enemy is my friend arrangements. The Bloodline took out Matthew Riddle last week, they “took Sami” from KO—Elias’ words—so Elias wanted KO in his corner.

BUT KEVIN OWENS REMEMBERS ZEKE! KO hilariously reacted to Elias even asking for his help after everything they went through. Elias said that’s beef with Ezekiel, not Elias, which further incensed KO. Elias’ logic that KO took out Zeke and he took out KO with a guitar shot so that makes them even just made it funnier. This was wrestling’s Rabbit Season, Duck Season. While KO didn’t show up at first, he rescued Elias from suffering Riddle’s fate when Sami and Solo tried putting the Man Who Walks out of commission.

But again, KO didn’t forget. Elias went to thank Kevin but got a stunner for his troubles as Sami & Solo left the ring while promising more pain in the future.


Another awkwardly paced Monday night. One match truly rocked, while everything else was solid as per usual but nothing anyone who missed it needs to see.

Grade: B

That’s my grade and I’m sticking to it. Your turn.

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