December 31, 2014 by Joey Keogh
It’s the last Raw of the year, and what better way to finish 2014 off in style than by getting Superstar legends Edge and Christian to be the guest GMs! We kick things off with a little reminder of Edge‘s retirement in 2011, leaving one girl in the audience particularly distraught, before the boys themselves stride out, looking younger than ever, to rapturous applause from the Washington, DC crowd. Christian is surprised by Edge‘s pyro as they enter, but not by the fact they ended up dressing pretty much exactly alike tonight.
After bickering for a bit, the way old friends tend to do, about whether to do a Peep Show or an episode of The Cutting Edge later on, they compromise with The Cutting Edge Peep Show, the first guest for which will be none other than Seth Rollins, whose name alone is greeted with hisses, boos, and some scattered shrieks of pleasure from the ladies in attendance – it’s just like being at the panto, except he’s both the prince and the villain. Tonight’s Main Event match will see Rollins facing up to his old cohort, Roman Reigns, in what is some of the best booking in weeks.
Elsewhere, Rusev is going to be taking on Dolph Ziggler in a champion versus champion match and they’re both going to be totally naked, according to Edge. Finally, if you’re excited for Daniel Bryan, it’s justified for once because he’s here tonight to address all of us and it’s being dressed up as though he might retire like Edge but if you pay any attention to social media whatsoever you’ll know that’s most definitely not the case. Brock Lesnar strolls down to interrupt the proceedings, with his manager and belt in tow for once, and Paul Heyman cuts a reliably great promo about swimming in shark-infested waters and how Lesnar is the apex predator and that calling him such has nothing to do with Randy Orton or anything.
Sensing there’s some fun to disrupt, John Cena interrupts next to sap the room of all excitement. He’s greeted by the usual warring chants, which Lesnar, in particular, really gets a kick out of, and he does his usual Cena thing about overcoming the odds but we all stopped listening ten minutes ago so who cares. Lesnar and Heyman flee for some reason. They really shouldn’t be scared, though. Heels being scared defeats the purpose.
Champion versus Champion Match: Rusev -v- Dolph Ziggler
This booking makes no sense, but hey, Ziggler so who cares, right? We’ll take what we can get. The commentators seem to be building Rusev up as a super-strongman who can’t be pinned no matter what, and yet they also keep referring to his long and varied career – those two things don’t really go together, though, as one negates the other. The “Russian” pummels Ziggler to start, literally backing him into a corner but Ziggler manages some offence when he counters a sleeper hold with a swift kick to the big man’s jaw, followed by a dropkick and a DDT. Lana yells “come on!” from ringside as we are informed, once again, that some stuff happened during the commercials. Ziggler recovers from a brutal throw to land an elbow, followed by a flying dropkick from the top rope and a Fame Asser. A superkick leads to another near fall later on, but we all know this isn’t his match because of how Rusev is being pushed and, sure enough, he gets disqualified for kicking the shit out of his opponent in the corner, continuing the “can’t be beaten” mythos. He then administers the Accolade on the ropes once the bell has rung, leading Ryback, not John Cena, to march out and meathook clothesline the “Russian”.
There’s going to be a tag team championship match later on, so prepare yourselves for The Usos to win and yet again being another reign of…boredom. First though, the esteemed Michael Cole points out that Ryback is still in the ring and it’s a bit like when Poochie had something to say, except his planet doesn’t need him and sadly he isn’t going to die on the way back there. Rather, The Big Guy is here to share his life story with us, make veiled references to CM Punk, and to laugh at his own jokes about how ugly Rusev is. To say this is a bizarre promo would be an understatement, and the fans respond in kind by “What”-ing the hell out of it. If he’s worked so hard to get here, and if he was so depressed that he moved to Kentucky to work in a BBQ joint (literally, not an attempt at humour), then why does he keep botching moves and hurting other wrestlers? Ryback finishes off by calling out Rusev and putting weird emphasis on the words “ass thing”. These two are still just friends, right?
Divas Match: Natalya -v- Nikki Bella
As much as Nattie is a total bore in the ring these days, at least when she shows up she brings Tyson Kidd with her, so we won’t be completely comatose during this match-up. In fact, Nikki gets chucked out early on and lands in Kidd’s arms – apparently, he even wore her hat last week, which can only mean they’re fucking, right? – leading Nattie to look sad for a bit instead of, you know, beating the living shit out of her. Is this going to be a storyline on Total Divas? Nikki takes advantage of the distraction ringside to administer the Rack Attack to win.
Winner: Nikki Bella
Backstage, The Miz is telling Mizdow all about how much he loves his belts when Naomi attack-hugs him out of nowhere to thank him for getting her a shot at Hollywood or some shit. She makes Mizdow leave so she can thank him privately, which isn’t nearly as raunchy as that sentence suggests. This storyline needs to die, like, now.
Tag Team Championship Match: The Miz & Damien Mizdow -v- The Usos
The boo/cheer thing happens again to start, but poor Mizdow doesn’t get a look in here as Miz works the entire match alone. He takes out an Uso to start, as Naomi watches anxiously from backstage, as opposed to ringside, like Tyson Kidd just did moments ago. A Samoan Drop followed by a Splash sort of regains The Usos‘ composure, but Miz grabs one in a Figure-4 lock. He makes it to the ropes, and then catches him in a submission hold but Mizdow dashes in to save his boss just in time. Miz goes for the Skull-crushing Finale, but Uso counters with a superkick. He then Splashes from the top, but Miz counters with his knees, manages to land the Skull-crushing Finale, and Uso kicks out at two. He and his bro then double superkick Miz, with another Splash from the top winning the match, and the belts, for them.
Winners: The Usos
A nice little replay of the whole Shield debacle follows (as if we needed reminding), scored by sad violin music. It, presumably, has something to do with the Rollins/Reigns match-up later on, but at this point they really could just be using it to fill time. Also, on that note, Raw without Dean Ambrose isn’t Raw at all.
Cesaro -v- Bad News Barrett
More good booking – what the hell is going on tonight? The lead-in to this is great as, in total juxtaposition to Ryback‘s little performance earlier, Cesaro sits silently in a corner of the ring, with a towel over his head, before cutting a promo about how 2014 should’ve been his year (agreed) but he was totally mishandled and under-sold by people who didn’t have quite enough faith in him to push him properly(agreed again). He doesn’t care about pageantry or pyro or any of that bullshit, he just wants to wrestle, and with that in mind, he wonders aloud whether there’s anyone backstage who agrees with him and is willing to come out and show Washington, DC what it’s really all about. There’s a beat of silence before none other than Bad News Barrett – who made his triumphant return at MSG last week, but hasn’t wrestled just yet – strolls out, looking proper chuffed to be back, and says simply “It’s me, it’s me, it’s BNB!” This is an incredibly fluid match right from the get-go, the two moving remarkably well together, especially considering this is Barrett’s first match back and the Swiss Superman has barely had a look in the past few months, aside from bit parts here and there – remember when he won the Andre The Giant memorial trophy? No? Anyone? The two men are obviously hungry for it, which is great to see, with Cesaro focusing on dismantling his opponent’s injured shoulder for the most part, adding a nasty streak to the proceedings. However, this is Barrett’s night and he wins with a stunning Bullhammer.
Winner: Bad News Barrett
Luke Harper cuts one of his Texas Chain Saw promos next, in some sort of makeshift shed backstage that sports some shutters a bit like those on the side of the Hollister store, where all the losers queue for hours to get in and smell the clothes (and staff) for a bit. Someone wolf-whistles at him, which is sweet/creepy, before he gets really close to the camera and whispers “Sweet dreams”.
Jack Swagger -v- Luke Harper
There’s no reaction for Harper at all when he enters, rather annoyingly considering he just cut a decent promo, but maybe it’s because his music makes everyone think they’re watching Nashville for a second. There’s a nice bit of chain-wrestling to start, but Swagger gains dominance pretty quickly – although Harper gets some offence in, during the commercials of course. There’s a huge boot to the jaw by Harper that threatens to end the match early, before he hooks Swagger onto the ropes and bounces his head off them. Swagger manages a succession of okay-looking clotheslines, before locking Harper into the Patriot Lock, which he makes it out of, leading Swagger to eat a superkick and a clothesline as Harper picks up the win.
Winner: Luke Harper
Backstage, Edge, Christian and Cena are reminiscing about all the fun they’ve had over the years until Christian brings a halt to it by reminding them both of when his buddy slapped Cena’s father around. He then excuses himself, leaving the two to lock eyes for a bit before ultimately deciding that they really do love each other very much. The two embrace and it’s totally not forced.
Main Event: Roman Reigns -v- Seth Rollins
There’s another match after this one, and the whole Daniel Bryan angle too but, let’s face it, this is the Main Event so shut up. Big Show is on commentary and he actually does a pretty good job, thereby showing up (geddit?) every other person who’s ever done it ever, apart from Paige who uses the word “crumpet” and therefore gets a free pass. Reigns watches Rollins removing his shirt a little too closely, and is noticeably impressed by what he sees. He starts off with a rough shoulder tackle, knocking Rollins off his feet, and out of the ring, to be regaled with the usual cries of “you sold out”. He hops back in, once he’s had a quick pep talk from his security team, and attacks Reigns, who turns things around by grabbing him and messing up his hair before chucking him full force into the turnbuckle. Show waxes lyrical about how much of a star Rollins is, in comparison to Reigns who just wants to be one, even as he’s getting his butt kicked, and shouts encouragement in spite of the fact Rollins absolutely cannot hear him. There’s a pretty cool tilt-a-whirl slam by Reigns, but Rollins manages a kick soon after, and rolls Reigns up for a near fall. He then goes for the curbstomp, but Reigns counters and the two, quite literally, hop back and forth for a bit, before Reigns goes for the Superman Punch and Show intervenes, leading to a DQ that this rather good match did not need or deserve. He chucks Reigns over the announce table and then buries him under it.
Up next, Bray Wyatt, who is also sadly missed tonight, cuts a promo about things coming full circle. He’s inside an ambulance, because he and Ambrose are fighting in one on the first episode of the New Year, and as he finishes up, it speeds off into the night. “I have his soul” he says. It appears to be his ride, for whatever reason. Elsewhere, backstage, Daniel Bryan is greeting all of the jobbers, as he makes his way to the ring. Hey, I couldn’t think of anything worse than Santino Marella‘s NYE party, could you? Well, we’re invited to it anyway! There’s a HUGE pop for Bryan as he enters the arena, even though he has his hair in a little bun for some reason. He tells the crowd he is honoured to be in the ring every single time he gets an opportunity to do so, and it breaks his heart that his injury has stopped him from doing so – why are so many of the promos terribly real and sad tonight? A “No” chant erupts as he mentions Edge and his retirement and, after some teasing, DB reveals he will not be giving up and is due to make his triumphant return at the Royal Rumble. Phew. Edge and Christian aren’t paying attention to Bryan’s heartfelt speech because they’re too busy messing around with a kazoo backstage, trying to perfect his entrance music. They offer to play Miz’s when he and Mizdow show up to complain about their loss earlier, and get very into it in spite of not being asked to perform. Edge has a puppet stunt double, which is a nice touch, who Mizdow squares up to. They demand a re-match, but instead, are given another regular match to shut them up. And the commentators still have no table to sit behind.
Tag Team Match: The Miz & Damien Mizdow -v- The Ascension
Finally, after weeks of speculation and a couple of dodgy, Red Dwarf-esque promos, NXT favourites The Ascension are joining us from their home planet of Cyberdog to lay waste to poor Mizdzow, as his boss immediately ducks out of the ring upon spotting them. Konnor takes the lead at first, but soon tags in Viktor for a nice double-team move. Mizdow manages a clothesline, before eating one as punishment. Another quick bit of double team action wins it for the newbies. For future reference, this is how you move someone up and put them over with the Raw crowd, not by having that person lose to Nattie in ten seconds.
Winners: The Ascension
Renee manages to get a quick interview in with Rollins, en route to the ring, as Joey Mercury and Jamie Noble look on, impressed as always. He invites Lesnar to join him in toasting Cena’s year, even though nobody is falling for that. When we cut back to the ring, Edge‘s Sami Zayn tee that he’s been proudly sporting all night is more obvious than ever and it’s a really sweet moment. He and Christian introduce Rollins by his many names, including General Zod 2,000 and The Walking Pile Of Suck, before the man himself struts out, champagne flutes in tow, and makes a big deal about sitting on a stool. Edge refers to he and the security team as the “geek squad”. Rollins tells he and Christian how much he loves and respects them both, and is then shocked to be accused of condescension as a result. He is endeavouring to be a new person in the New Year, and, to that end, he wants to bring out Show and Cena. Only problem is, Cena doesn’t show! Edge notes to Christian that Rollins is trying to be them, only with no charisma and not enough blonde in his hair, and Rollins swiftly informs them that he doesn’t need to be, because he’s better. As there’s still no sign of Cena, Rollins turns to desperate measures and whacks Christian with his briefcase, leading Edge to square up to him. Unfortunately for the Canadian, he’s surrounded, and is quickly laid down and positioned for a curbstomp off Rollins’ briefcase. As they are all at pains to remind us, he won’t survive this because of his broken neck and will be paralysed if Rollins follows through. Cena never comes out to help his friends, as we all know, even from earlier tonight but for once he does show up and is immediately halted by Rollins just outside the ring. Rollins wonders aloud whether Cena is a phony or the real deal, before demanding he bring back The Authority or suffer the guilt of being the reason Edge is paralysed. Cena whispers yes, is given a mic by a too-enthusiastic Noble, and it’s done. Of course, Rollins notes, he’s a heel so he’s going to do it anyway regardless of whether Cena agrees, but luckily Cena intervenes just in time to allow Edge to roll away to safety. Show delivers his boring old knockout punch to Cena, before Rollins curbstomps him, and that’s that. They celebrate in the ring for a bit, Rollins throws Cena’s discarded merch around and finally The Authority‘s music drops and they stroll out to ring in the New Year with everyone.
So that’s it for Raw this year, and how sad that one of the most well-booked shows of the past few months also had to be the last one. At least we’re ending on a sort-of high. Here’s hoping 2015 kicks off with a bang, even though the fact The Authority are back way too soon suggests the powers that be are clutching at straws yet again. As always, we live in hope/fear of what’s to come.
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