Well, I arrive half an hour late to this Raw because, well, frankly I’ve spent three days being stuffed with food and alcohol, and not sleeping a lot, and now my body would like to let me know that it’s past 1am, and all sensible people should be in bed. But, as I’m a wrestling fan and not a sensible person, we don’t need to worry about that. Also joining us is Spooks, our big white cat, who is sat in my lap to let me know that vanishing for three days and someone popping in to feed them, is not an acceptable thing to do. I’m not sure that sitting on Vince’s lap and purring would let him know that Boxing Day Raw is not an acceptable thing to do, but I’m so exhausted that I might be willing to try it.
Ah, the Boxing Day Raw, proof that Vince McMahon has heard of the holidays, and this mythical thing called ‘time off’, and has decided that he doesn’t want any, thank you very much. Which is pretty much how I feel about all the misogyny in his product, but as I’m not a billionaire, that probably doesn’t matter.
Steph arrives to welcome us to Chicago, Illinois, home of the CM Punk chant, which they start up nice and quickly – before she tells them if they kept it up for two minutes and fifteen seconds, they’d last longer than Punk himself. Ouch, the claws are out, even in the holidays. Seth turns up and hopes her holidays were good, with Triple H, and Seth asks if Trips got his manhood back.
Steph won’t engage in your dick talk, Seth, and though he says that Triple H was a big threat last year, now he’s nothing, because he won’t come back, Steph says she isn’t her husband’s keeper. I think that’s code for ‘he sleeps around a lot’, isn’t it? Seth says he didn’t expect Trips to show up, but because he wants a proper fight, he wants a match against Strowman tonight.
Roman appears, and guess what, he too wants a match, because he’s also annoyed about Strowman’s beat down last week. He and Seth bicker, before they decide they could just go to the back and beat Strowman down unofficially.
Steph is sort of into it, and puts her hand in for a Shield fistbump, saying that Dean might even be around because SmackDown is in the same arena tomorrow, so… of course it’s not happening, we want it too much. She makes the match Braun vs. Seth, and tell Roman he’s defending the US title later against someone she’ll choose later on.
MATCH: Cesaro & Sheamus vs. The New Day – Tag Team Titles Match
It’s Xavier and Kofi against the new tag team champions, trying to get their titles back after losing them unceremoniously just after cementing their longest reign.
- Xavier straight in with a dropkick on Sheamus, and a quick tag to Kofi, who comes off the ropes with a kick, followed by a lariat from Xavier and elbow drops for a near fall. Cesaro in, Kofi manages to duck the lariat. Headscissors takeover, corner dropkick and a tag to Xavier, before we get the unicorn stampede under way. Corner dropkicks, leg drop from legal man Xavier Woods, pin for one.
- Chops to Cesaro, he fires back with an uppercut. Back elbow, Sheamus throwing Xavier to the outside. Back from commercial, Xavier can’t make a tag as there’s no one for him to get to. Double team Irish Curse Backbreaker, followed by a diving knee drop for a near fall. Cesaro goes for the wing, but Xavier fights out, throwing Cesaro outside for a HUGE diving tornado DDT on the outside.
- Tag to Sheamus, unsuccessful back suplex, Xavier landing on his feet and tagging in Kofi. Diving clothesline off the top rope, dropkick, and he takes Cesaro out before dodging the Irish Curse from Sheamus. SOS – doesn’t hit. Xavier in with a kick, and then a ropewalk elbow drop.
- Cesaro breaks up the pin, and tags in, turning a sunset flip into the swing! While Big E distracts the ref, Kofi comes in to break up the swing with a Trouble in Paradise, but Cesaro catches his foot, slamming him to the outside!
- Rolling elbow from Xavier, tag made to Sheamus, but Xavier didn’t see it, and Sheamus hits a Brogue Kick, hard and fast – and Sheamus makes the pin!
The New Day carry their fallen brother out and up the ramp, and Cesaro and Sheamus celebrate with the titles in the ring, until we go to commercial.
Commentary turn up to tell us that we’re only five weeks away from the Royal Rumble, which basically makes me go ‘please don’t wish the year away’, and then ‘oh god, I’d forgotten that Lesnar and Goldberg are both showing up to the Royal Rumble’. I pause because the colour of Corey Graves’ suit is a colour I can only describe as ‘baby poop’.
Braun Strowman is backstage, making everyone run away from him, until he comes across Chris and Kevin, who were apparently looking for him, and say they don’t want to be on Strowman’s list. Kevin wanted to talk to Strowman, man to giant man, and says that he’s the next in line for the title shot after Roman. Jericho carries on, winding Strowman up about Strowman and Seth later tonight, including calling Strowman a stupid idiot. He sizes up to Jericho, both Chris and Kevin saying they have no time for rumours, before they watch Strowman walk away, and breathe a sigh of relief.
Goldust and R-Truth are hanging around backstage, and Bayley comes in to give Goldust a Bayley Bear dressed like Dusty Rhodes, and they share what looks like a really tender hug as she says how much she loved Dusty, and how much he helped her in NXT. God, that’s touching. Gallows and Anderson show up to snatch the bear out of his hands and rip the head off it, of course, and Goldust breathes hard, staring at the camera as he holds the headless bear.
MATCH: Nia Jax vs. Scarlet
Nia’s here! Hello lovely! Oh, and it’s a squash match against some tiny little thing wearing a Sasha shirt, because Sasha inspired her to get in the ring.
- Big kick to the midsection, Nia just buckles the poor girl all over the ring, finishing with a Samoan Drop, with a nice easy pin after that.
Nia gets a mic and leans over the fallen girl telling her to get a better role model, before a huge leg drop onto the prone Scarlet. Then she heads up the ramp, secure in the knowledge that she can take any Sasha fangirl.
Bayley’s backstage in a gold and red jacket, excited to be the new #1 contender. We see Charlotte shake Steph’s hand, and then Kevin and Chris show up, to be upset about the shark cage match at the Royal Rumble. They say that Roman has to defend the US title tonight, and Chris’s smile fades as Steph says that Kevin Owens will face Roman for the title. Poor Chris, even old friends won’t help him out now.
Bayley has come out to talk to us, and the crowd chants for her after she hugs a few girls near the front. Bayley says she’s 3-0 up on Charlotte, and that makes her the new #1 contender. She says it’d be nice to replace the replica title she has with the real one, and then out comes Charlotte.
Charlotte says the she’s sorry to interrupt Bayley’s cosplay moment, but that her shoulder was up. We see a replay where we see that this is true, and Charlotte says that she and Steph talked with her lawyers, and that win never happened, because it’s been expunged from the records.
Charlotte calls Bayley average, and says she can’t relate, because she knows how the system works, and made it work for her. She says she can remember talking about Bayley’s childhood dream to get the title, when they were in NXT, but that she was laughing at Bayley the whole time. However, it’s the holidays, so she’s going to give Bayley a chance to have another match. Unfortunately for Bayley, Dana Brooke is the guest referee!
MATCH: Charlotte vs. Bayley
- The women lock up, Dana doing fast counts when Bayley’s taking it to the corner, and slow when it’s Charlotte. Dana pulls her back, and Bayley hits a Bayley-to-Belly, throwing Dana out of the ring a crumpled mess.
- We get a real official, with Charlotte taking it to Bayley, bouncing her off the turnbuckles. Bayley comes back, and responds with ten smacks of Charlotte’s head off the turnbuckle. She hits a huge cross-body off the top rope onto a woozy Charlotte, and pins her for two.
- Charlotte in the corner again, using her elbows, and she gets a pin on Bayley, for two, before going for the Figure Eight. Bayley gets out of it, hits a Bayley-to-Belly, and pins Charlotte. She’s about to get the win, but Dana pulls the official out of the ring.
- Bayley chases Dana around the ring, then grabs her in the corner. As Bayley’s busy with Dana, Charlotte rolls her up, and Dana gives her a fast count, and ignores Charlotte’s feet on the ropes.
It’s a win for Charlotte! In typical Charlotte fashion!
Steph finds Braun Strowman holding some suit, asking about Sami Zayn, and saying he wants Seth AND Sami tonight. Steph says she can’t find Sami, but she can assure that Braun will have a match with Sami next week. Braun says he wants a last man standing match, and Steph says okay, as long as he takes all his anger out on Seth.
MATCH: Neville vs. TJ Perkins
We get a recap of Neville last week, giving us his heel talk, and I’m sorry, Nev, I won’t be able to boo you, I love you too much. He takes a lunge at a guy behind the barricades, who comically lurches back. Austin Aries is on commentary, yawn. The two men go for the handshake, and Neville looks SO BIG compared to TJP, and obviously he refuses the handshake.
- Collar-and-elbow tie, wristlock, and a dropkick from Perkins. Uppercuts from TJP, followed by high speed kicks and a running knee. Down, pin for one.
- Headscissors from TJP, followed by a blow, Neville heading out of the ring, corkscrew from the top rope onto Neville on the outside. Neville crawling in the ring, TJP goes high, and hits a cross-body, pinning Neville for two.
- Big kick from TJP, hanging Neville up on the ropes, goes for the sliding dropkick, but Neville dodges, coming back with a kick to TJP.
- Neville takes TJP to the outside, throwing him into the barricades as Chicago cheer for him. He gets Perkins back inside, huge elbows to the side of the head, before a cravate. We cut to Austin Aries’ face, for some reason.
- TJP rises out, Neville throwing him over his shoulder, but he land on his feet. Thrown into the ropes, he twists easily, coming back by sliding through Neville’s legs, and kicks him over the ropes. He comes through with a sliding dropkick.
- Double chicken wing into a gustbuster, the pin still doesn’t pick up the win. Detonation Kick from TJP, and he goes for the kneebar, but Neville rolls him up! Neville grabs the tights in the pin, holding TJP down – and he takes the win!
Charly interviews Neville on the ramp, and he sneers about how Americans don’t appreciate him, and he hates them for that. Tomorrow, he’s going to be the true king of the cruiserweights.
Enzo and Big Cass are backstage, Enzo being wheeled in with talks of defrauding social security, because obviously benefit fraud is hilarious, and we totally want to push the narrative that it happens all the time. Enzo shows off how good he is at wheeling himself around, and I just… I’m sorry, but WWE have made me hate you now. A picture of your bruised arse doesn’t help me, and now I’m grumpy because I know so many people who can’t afford wheelchairs, and…. I’m the wrong person to recap this stuff.
Enzo says that he was outnumbered at sensitivity training, and then has cornrows, so I think maybe we need to go back to it. Just a thought. Cass takes the mic and heads into the ring, as Enzo wheels around the outside. Cass says that Rusev should trap him in a room instead of Enzo, because he’s a coward, and should be wary of having a problem with Cass.
Rusev and Jinder show up, Lana looking good in green, and Jinder slaps Enzo. As Jinder goes to get up into the ring, Enzo dives at his legs, and drags him to the floor. Cass and Rusev are slugging at each other, Rusev sent rolling out of the ring. Cass comes to join Enzo, throwing him into Jinder, who has collapsed in Enzo’s wheelchair. Cass helps Enzo into the ring, and they celebrate.
MATCH: Darren Young & Bo Dallas vs. The Shining Stars
Darren taking down Primo, whip into a right hand. Darren dives towards him, and Primo dodges, Young landing hard on the ropes.
Braun Strowman appears, decimating them all, using a Christmas tree to take out Bo, and shrugging off a chairshot from Epico. He throws Darren Young into Bob Backlund, and then the steps into Primo, Epico, and Bo. There’s a ‘thank you Strowman’ chant.
MATCH: Braun Strowman vs. Seth Rollins
Seth proves he’s got better at taking a shirt off, managing not to get stuck in it this time, which is good.
- Strowman sends Seth straight into the corner, then throws him into the other corner, sending him sprawling. Seth comes back with kicks, holds the ropes down to let Strowman go over the ropes. Suicide dive, Strowman catches Seth, and then throws him back into the ring, a huge shoulder tackle knocking him down. Clubbing blow to the chest.
- The crowd chant ‘let’s go Rollins’ as Braun presses him to the ropes. Seth rallies, landing on his feet, landing a kick, followed by two flying knees, both of which make Strowman hit hard. Seth goes for the splash, but Strowman catches him, placing him on the top turnbuckle. Seth rolls into a Blockbuster!
- Avada Kedavra, and then Seth goes for the Pedigree, but Strowman throws him over the ropes, coming back and hitting hard. He rolls a groggy-looking Seth back into the ring, and Sami’s music hits! Sami arrives from behind, shoving Braun over and over into the ring post. Sami heads into the crowd, Strowman following him, running out of the match, leaving Seth in the middle of the ring, in agony.
- Jericho appears, hitting a Codebreaker, before pulling Seth up by the hair, the officials getting him away from Rollins, who wobbles to his feet with the help of two officials, before he gets another Codebreaker for his troubles!
- Jericho heads off, secure in the knowledge that he’s done what he wanted. Seth lies in the ring, four officials trying to move him as he holds his head, eyes unfocussed.
Charly comes to Kevin, who’s watching this on a screen, and asks for insight on what he’s going to do to Roman. Kevin says that he’ll tell this random stranger that he’s very happy Jericho took Seth down, because it means that he – he means, they – will get the US title. Poor Charly, no one knows who she is.
Emmalina! She purrs that we’ve been waiting so long, we’ve been so good – and of course she’s not showing up today. Ah well.
MATCH: Golden Truth vs. Gallows & Anderson
This is because of the Bayley bear earlier, and I should care, but… I’m not sure I do.
- Goldust to Anderson girst, huge punches, followed by boots in the corner. R-Truth tagged in, throwin into Anderson, big hip toss followed by a couple of leg drops and a blow to the face.
- Gallows in, Truth trying to get out of the corner, big boot from Gallows, followed by a second, Truth down hard and taking an elbow drop.
- Anderson back in, chokehold, Truth fighting out with blows to the gut and coming off the ropes with a kick. He tries it again, but Anderson has a kick of his own, and Truth goes down hard, pin for two.
- Gallows tagged in while Anderson holds Truth still. Knees from Truth, followed by a dropkick. Goldust and Anderson tagged in, clotheslines to Anderson, kicking Gallows off the apron and coming back with a powerslam to Anderson, throwing Anderson into the barricades on the outside.
- Running bulldog from Goldust, distraction from Gallows, and Anderson gets the pin. No comeuppance for destroying a cuddly toy, I call that disgraceful.
Rich Swann is backstage with his title, and walks past Noam Dar chatting up a fully dressed Dana Brooke, which Swann just shakes his head at. They keep playing an advert for SmackDown, which sounds a lot more interesting and well-planned than the show I’m watching.
We’re catching up now, so the last two matches will be briefly explained. Curse my internet dying at 3.30am!
MATCH: Rich Swann vs. Ariya Daivari
Swann takes the win off a knockout kick. As he’s being interviewed on the ramp, Neville comes out and batters him, in prep for his match against Swann tomorrow on 205 Live. He slides him into the ring and hits the Red Arrow on him.
Daivari is interviewed after the break, and he says he was worried about interference from Jack Gallagher, and that’s why he lost. Jack turns up and says Daivari can take it back, for he is no scoundrel! Daivari refuses, so Gallagher challenges him to a duel, making sure to get the Hamilton reference in, which will happen on 205 Live.
MATCH: Kevin Owens vs. Roman Reigns – United States Championship Match
Throughout the match, Kevin keeps trying to stay on the outside, trying to get the ref to back Roman off, etc. Jericho shows up for the distraction, but in the end, it’s Seth Rollins showing up who distracts KO, causing Roman to win via a spear.
Seth pulls out the crotch chop before he Pedigrees Owens, and Roman spears Jericho on the outside – and that’s how we fade out Raw, crumpled besties, and 2/3 of the Shield victorious.