With last night's Monday Night Raw coming on the eve of Christmas Eve, two things were certain. One, they were going to do a lot of holiday-themed silliness. Two, they were going to be careful not to give too much away in terms of storyline evolution, as there was going to be a sizeable portion of the audience more interested in last-minute holiday preparations then anything WWE was going to present to them.
So, how did the show go? Well, there was some good wrestling on the show with the six man tags and well, a lot of naughty elves in the creative department of the company who thought the best way to make the show work was LOTS of holiday camp. Star Wars Holiday Special, this was not.
*The Wyatts vs. The Rhodes Boys and Daniel Bryan. Just an excellent back and forth six man tag that did a lot to further the idea that The Wyatts as a force to be reckoned with. Great in-ring worked involving all six and if you look at the Tag bout on Smackdown and then follow it up with the six man on Raw, some really good booking stringing the two episodes together as well. Really, truly enjoyed the work in this one. Track it down.
*Big E. Langston in the main event. He rescued CM Punk and John Cena on Smackdown, so it made sense they would pick him as their partner against the Shield. Nice to see Langston's hard work being rewarded.
*Shield vs. Punk, Cena & Langston. The ending left a lot to be desired (see below) but after some really "just tossed on the show" matches designed to fill segments and not much else, this was a nice way to close out the show. The usual work you'd enjoy from all the usual players.
*Batista return promo. The video was well done and absolutely had people talking about his return. There's nothing negative that can be said about Batista being back for Wrestlemania season (and beyond) as it opens up lots of new potential matches.
*Sin Cara vs. Curtis Axel. As WWE continues their attempt to rehabilitate the Cara character, it was another short but solid outing for Cara 2.0. His high-flying moves worked well and hey, he cut a promo in English, something the originator could never do. In WWE's eyes, that speaking ability goes a long way towards connecting with the audience. This worked well in all regards.
*Santa vs. Santa. WWE's idea of holiday cheer involved a toilet wrapped as a Christmas present. This is exactly why visiting relatives ask me why I bother writing about wrestling, because I guarantee, they just happened to switch on the show just as THAT (or something just as goofy) was happening. Mark Henry and Damien Sandow did the best with what they were given, but hey, they weren't given all that much!
*Bad News Barrett. This character is DOA. WWE needs to go back to the drawing board. At least if he was giving "bad news" about different wrestlers as a means to insult them, eventually we could have a deal where one of the heroes confronts him to set up a sneak-attack or something. This is just a complete waste of time thus far. Wade Barrett the bare-knuckles fighter would scoff at this guy and KO him. I hope Santa brings Barrett something of more worth to do in 2014.
*Lots of meaningless matches. Primetime Players vs. Usos, Los Matadores vs. Real Americans, Ryback vs. Kofi Kingston, etc. I am all for giving mid-card talents ring time to give them a chance to connect with the audience - in fact, I endorse it, but there were far too many matches that were tossed out there for no reason other than they needed filler on the show. That's not really fair to the talents or the audience.
*Dolph Ziggler can't get a win, ever. Even in a goofy "Present on a Pole" match, Ziggler can't get over the hump and win something. It's sad to see how far he's fallen. If he falls any farther, he'll be on a WWE.com Where Are They Now column, because apparently the creative team has forgotten how hot he was a year ago. Anyone else remember that moment where he cashed in for the World title? That seems like a decade ago and it's not fair to the audience that he's used the way he is.
What We Learned:
*WWE officials are corrupt. Roman Reigns gets DQ'd for breaking up a pinfall attempt, but John Cena doesn't? As our old pal Hurricane is fond of saying, "What's up with that?"
*Triple H and Stephanie McMahon are benevolent. Why else would they give Randy Orton a week off?
*If Kane wants you to have a candy cane, you take it! I don't know what it was about the sight of Kane in a Santa hat slamming candy into the "fan" at ringside and forcing him to take it, but it legitimately made me laugh. So silly, yet so funny to me.
*Daniel Bryan is apparently Superman. On Smackdown, he was beaten and thrown off a loading dock. Three days later, he is 100% fine and able to wrestle in top form. Why WWE would even do the injury deal and then completely blow it off is beyond me. Just a waste of time for everyone involved and the next time the company does a storyline twist of that sort, the audience has every reason to shrug and not care, because WWE made it mean nothing.
*Great Khali can sing. No, not really! The caroling deal was awful, but what did you expect out of WWE this week? I was somewhat bummed to see Xavier Woods roped into all this because that means the company sees him as an undercard comedy character, but I guess it beats toiling in NXT well past when you should be.
*Jo-Jo is invisible. Seriously, this woman went from one of the focuses on Total Divas to pretty much ignored and she didn't even appear in a segment that was so short of women, they booked VICKIE GUERRERO to wrestle. Not a good sign for Jo-Jo going into 2014.
*Big Show as a New Year's Baby. REALLY? What did anyone do to deserve that? Show has fallen a LONG way from the interest the company generated in him during the feud against the Authority, a feud that ended with him being beaten up and forgotten about, as opposed to getting his hands on HHH. But hey, he got to wear a diaper on TV.
Mike Johnson wishes you and your family the most amazing holiday season possible. He can be reached at MikeJohnsonPWInsider@gmail.com and can be followed at www.Twitter.com/MikePWInsider. Happy Life Day!