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   October 26, 2014



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COMMENT





Raw: A very special Raw Christmas, naturally
By NICK TYLWALK - SLAM! Wrestling


You just know the WWE is going to pullout all the stops for its Christmas episode of Raw. Presents line the stage and fake snow is falling in Austin, as we get set to go live on USA for the penultimate broadcast of 2013.

Mark Henry and Damien Sandow read battling renditions of “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.” Henry is the good Santa, while Sandow wants to cancel Christmas -- and he has a reindeer named Irwin R. Schyster!

At least The Authority and Kane are in festive moods, wearing Santa hats and passing out candy canes on their way to the ring. Triple H welcomes everyone to a very Raw Christmas, saying that at this time of year, it warms his heart to make his employees volunteer at soup kitchens and stuff like that. As for matches, we’re going to see Bad Santa versus Good Santa, the Wyatt Family versus Cody Rhodes, Goldust and Daniel Bryan, and in the main event, The Shield facing Big E Langston, CM Punk and John Cena. Of course there has to be a Grinch in these proceedings somewhere, and in this case it’s WWE World Heavyweight Champion Randy Orton. Wait, he actually seems to be in a good mood by his standards, wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and thanking Trips and Steph for their support. He’s got a gift for them too: him. There’s a group hug before he exits the ring, and Kane sets off his flames in especially festive fashion.

Match 1 - Jingle Belles Match

This is a 12-Diva bout pitting the Total Divas gang against the non-TV crew. AJ Lee is not involved, joining Michael Cole and JBL (Jerry Lawler is home in Memphis) at the announce table. The fans pop a bit when everyone in the match hits the ring at once, and in one of the goofiest spots in a while, the Total Divas cast links arms and rotates in a circle to clothesline all of their foes. Natalya wins for her team by submitting Aksana with the Sharpshooter.

Match 2 - Curtis Axel vs. Sin Cara

Whoa, he talks! I mean Sin Cara, who delivered a Christmas message to the fans earlier today. JBL compares him to a bunch of fictional characters who are bad people. I wonder if the fans are better off watching the new man under the mask do everything at about ⅔ the speed as the old guy as long as he doesn’t botch any spots? Yeah, they seem to like him, even getting a chant going. Sin Cara slams Axel before hitting the high-angle senton to continue his winning streak.

The same Bad Santa vignette we’ve been seeing with Sandow is shown one last time. And in the “things I can’t un-see” category, we see Big Show dressed as the New Year’s baby to promote next week’s show. In more interesting promo news, Batista returns on January 20.

Earlier today, Bad News Barrett was out ringing the bell and collecting donations. Um, I smell a rat. We also see a video package that details the problems between Bryan and the Wyatts.

Match 3 - Daniel Bryan, Cody Rhodes and Goldust vs. The Wyatt Family

Bryan really wants to get his hands on Bray Wyatt, but at least before the commercial break, he doesn’t get his wish. Goldust picks up the pace after he tags in, hammering Luke Harper with corner punches and delivering a hurricanrana. Wyatt finally becomes the legal man for his team, laying into Goldust while continuing to wear his creepy smirk. Cole works in a Tony Romo dis for some reason as Goldust continues to suffer at the hands of all three Wyatt Family members. Bryan gets the inevitable hot tag, flying across to dropkick Bray Wyatt and chopping Erick Rowan down to size with kicks from every angle. He hits the flying headbutt and changes his focus to Wyatt, but Rowan clobbers him while they chase each other outside the ring. Time for more commercials. Wyatt doesn’t have as much problem facing Bryan after he’s already been softened up, and now Daniel is the one in trouble in the enemy corner. This time it’s Cody who gets momentum when he tags in, and pretty soon all six men are caught up in the chaos. Rhodes hits the Disaster Kick on Harper, but he had already tagged out to Wyatt. Bray plants Cody with the Sister Abigail, and that’s enough for the pinfall. The Wyatt Family doesn’t halt at the bell, of course, continuing to punish and torment Bryan.

We really need to just get this Santa match out of the way so we stop seeing these same vignettes over and over. After that, it’s back to Barrett’s efforts out on the street corner.

Renee Young oversees a Christmas carol singing contest between Xavier Woods and R-Truth, 3MB, and Santino Marella and the Great Khali. Mild hilarity ensues. The crowd is going to decide the winner by applause, and Santino and Khali take the dubious honors. A brawl breaks out, but the heels are outnumbered and quickly driven off. The faces join together to sing “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” and this segment mercifully comes to an end.

Match 4 - Fandango vs. Dolph Ziggler - Christmas Present on a Pole Match

This is exactly what it sounds like, and there are real stakes involved: the winner gets a shot at Langston’s IC title next week. JBL compares Fandango to a cross between Gene Kelly and Wanderlei Silva. Okay then. There’s a cool spot where Fandango kicks Ziggler while they battle on the top rope, but the dancing superstar gets crotched after that. Dolph looks for the win, but Fandango knocks him to the floor, bouncing off the steps on the way, and his opponent grabs the gift to get the victory.

Darren Young wants to do the talking, but he blows it right away by saying Houston instead of Austin. Titus O’Neil reclaims the microphone and tells everyone they want a tag team title shot and should have won a Slammy.

Match 5 - The Prime Time Players vs. The Usos

The fans get a “This is Austin” chant going to tease Young. That’s pretty funny. These two teams are evenly matched, with the first real near fall coming on Young’s Northern lights suplex. He’s soon in trouble after a Samoan drop and a Rikishi butt charge, and the Usos finish him with a big splash while wearing a Rudolph nose (#ThingsThatOnlyHappenAtChristmas). Proving it was only competition, the two teams join up after the bell to do the “millions of dollars” dance.

Match 6 - Good Santa (Mark Henry) vs. Bad Santa (Damien Sandow)

Christmas apparently is on the line. It's a hardcore match complete with presents, candy canes, a fire extinguisher, and for some reason, a toilet. Despite his smarts, Sandow has trouble with the extinguisher. Henry doesn't, and the World's Strongest Slam seals the deal. Christmas is saved! After the bell, Henry makes Sandow eat a tray full of Christmas cupcakes the hard way.

Young gets some word with Punk about his well-documented trouble with The Shield. He says he asked Santa for help and got exactly what he asked for in Langston and Cena. They're pretty pumped up for this main event.

Zeb Colter says that technically speaking, Santa Claus is an illegal immigrant. The only difference is that he only stays for one night.

Match 7 - The Real Americans vs. Los Matadores

El Torito is dressed for the season with a white bull outfit and Christmas lights on his tail. We get the Cesaro Swing almost immediately, and one of the matadors goes around about 20 times. He recovers by pulling a sneaky switch with his partner, and the masked men take over after that. Swagger is pinned after a cross body, and Cesaro gets gored by El Torito.

Match 8 - Kofi Kingston vs. Ryback

Kingston hits an impressive somersault dive to the floor, but Ryback recovers quickly and starts hurling Kofi around the ring. A bear hug and a vertical suplex earn Ryback a near fall before Kingston gets one of his own with a missile dropkick. Kofi connects on the Boom Drop and a springboard cross body, yet Ryback is able to kick out. A Meat Hook and a Shell Shock both find their target, and that's all she wrote for Kingston.

Barrett finally delivers his bad news: he's been out raising money all day, but he's not affiliated with any charities, and the money is going home with him. Backstage, The Shield get in some last minute taunts against Punk, Cena and Langston.

Main Event - CM Punk, Big E Langston and John Cena vs. The Shield

Cole mentions that Dean Ambrose is the longest reigning current WWE champ. It may be because he never defends his belt! Seth Rollins escapes an early Five Knuckle Shuffle attempt and regroups with his teammates. Cena and Roman Reigns stare each other down, and a Samoan drop gets the Shield enforcer a near fall. You know what's next: commercials. Cena is still receiving punishment after the break, but he strains and reaches Punk for the tag. He's all over Ambrose, but numbers finally get to him and he ends up in trouble on the outside. They play up Punk's injured ribs as Reigns keeps hammering him, and Rollins locks him in a body vice. Ambrose prevents punk from tagging out, dragging his body back to the Shield corner. He finally frees himself up and manages to lunge for his corner, and Langston gets the hot tag. A flurry of signature moves from all six men ends with the Big Ending on Ambrose, and just when it looks like good will prevail, Reigns and Rollins dive in and earn the disqualification. That doesn't end the fight though, though an Attitude Adjustment and GTS do. The faces raise their arms in victory as the Christmas Raw wraps up. See you in seven!

Nick Tylwalk wants to wish all SLAM! Wrestling readers around the world a Merry Christmas, happy holidays, and a fantastic New Year!