The John Report: The WWE Raw Deal 12/11/23 Review

wwe raw deal december 11

This week’s WWE Raw featured CM Punk deciding what brand to sign with, Drew McIntyre taking on Jey Uso, Cody Rhodes against Shinsuke Nakamura and more.

I think Raw is in a very good place as we get to the end of the year in a few weeks. There’s no Christmas Day episode, so that means there are only two more episodes in 2023 counting this week’s show and then there’s a Raw on New Year’s Day in 2024. Last week’s Raw was excellent and I rated it 8.5 out of 10 thanks to the great match quality. I hope can keep that positive momentum going into 2024. The Raw roster is loaded with popular babyfaces so if they can get some heels going against them, that’s going to be a great thing too. The tag team division is pretty strong as well while I think their women’s division is deep enough at this point. All of those reasons are why we’re getting an entertaining product on Monday nights.

This is the Raw Deal for episode #1594 of Monday Night Raw. It’s taking place at the Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse in Cleveland, Ohio. Follow me on Twitter/X @johnreport. Let’s get to it.

There was a video package about Drew McIntyre’s issues with others on the Raw roster. Drew beat Sami Zayn in a match last week and then Drew injured Sami in a backstage attack. At the end of Raw, Drew attacked Jey Uso after Seth Rollins beat Jey in an excellent World Title match. Drew suplexed Rollins on the floor. Drew also slammed Jey through the table.

The Raw video aired to open the show. An impressive pyro display took place after that. It was Michael Cole and Wade Barrett on commentary as usual.

Let’s Hear from Jey Uso

Jey Uso was up first for his match. Jey was wearing his “YEET” shirt because WWE got the trademark for the word, so we can go back to using it for Jey. The fans came alive with the up-down arm swinging motion for him.

Jey welcomes us back to Monday Night Raw. Jey: “I got Yeet back. I’m excited about that one.” Jey said he was excited about CM Punk being back and asked the fans to say “Yeet” if they wanted Punk on Raw, so the fans chanted “Yeet” for that. Jey said they lost a real one last week – Sami Zayn and he told Sami to get well. There were “Sami” chants. Jey mentioned Drew McIntyre came after Sami and then he came after Seth & Jey after the main event last week. Jey said that Drew is two-faced. Jey said that they were going to settle his business with Drew tonight…and here comes Drew with his entrance.

Analysis: Best wishes to Sami Zayn on his much-deserved break. I think Sami has worked a busy schedule for a couple of years straight, so he deserves some time off. I assume we’ll see him again in January.

Drew McIntyre walked out doing a promo complaining about Jey as usual. Drew said that we do not want CM Punk because he’s bad for the locker room. Drew said he traveled the world with him, so he knows what this story is like. Drew mentioned Sami Zayn and looked into the camera saying that Zayn did run his mouth a lot. Drew said that he was sorry, but he left Zayn with one leg. Drew told Jey that’s how you do an apology.

Drew talked to the fans saying that if somebody hurt a loved one, would you want revenge? Drew asked if they didn’t apologize, would you want to take revenge? Some people had their hands up. Drew mentioned a fan named Austin in the front row not having his hand up and called him a coward for not caring about his family. Drew mocked Jey for his hand motion and for making up a stupid word. Jey got the fans to say “YEET” for Drew to get a “Yeetdown” so it’s time for the match.

Analysis: I am really enjoying these heel promos from Drew McIntyre. I liked Drew as a face for the last three years, but he is also an outstanding heel as well. Anyway, the match was already announced, so it was a way to give both guys some promo time before the bell rang.

Jey Uso vs. Drew McIntyre

Jey punched Drew a few times and Jey hit a clothesline that sent Drew over the top to the floor.


Drew sent Jey to the turnbuckle and Jey hit a jumping kick to the head. Jey jumped off the top with a cross body block for two. Drew sent Jey into the turnbuckle followed by a kick to the gut. Drew picked up Jey off the ground leading to a suplex. Jey fought back with punches (the fans chanted “YEET”) and Drew sent Jey into the ropes leading to Drew hitting a back elbow. Drew continued to work over Jey with punches. Drew went for a Claymore Kick on the floor, Jey moved and Drew landed back-first onto the commentary table. Jey hit a suicide dive onto Drew on the floor leading to a break.


The match continued with Jey punching Drew by the turnbuckle, but Drew did an incredible reach up to the top rope and slammed Jey down. Jey fought back with strikes, but Drew hit a headbutt. Jey sent Drew to the apron, Drew with a forearm and Drew jumped off the top, but Jey moved. Jey with a kick to the gut followed by a Samoan Drop for two. Jey charged, Drew moved and Jey went back-first into the turnbuckle. Drew hit a neckbreaker followed by a kip up to show he had a lot of energy left. Drew charged, but Jey hit him with two superkicks. Jey jumped off the top with an Uso Splash, but Drew got the knees up. Drew hit a Future Shock DDT for a two count leading to Jey shooting his right shoulder up at two. Barrett was right in saying that Drew beat Jey with that move three weeks ago. Drew pulled the padding off the top turnbuckle while the referee looked at Jey. Drew charged, but Jey hit a Spear for two. I like Jey using the Spear as a nearfall move. The referee saw the turnbuckle pad down, so Drew put his fingers into Jey’s eyes for some blatant eye gouging. Drew hit a Claymore Kick for the pinfall win after 17 minutes. Cole called it a “disgraceful” win for Drew due to the eye gouging.

Winner by pinfall: Drew McIntyre

Analysis: ***3/4 That was a great match just like both of these guys had last week with different opponents on Raw. The heelish win by Drew is a smart way of booking that finish with Drew doing the blatant eye gouging while the referee wasn’t looking. It’s not like eye gouging would lead to a DQ, but it is illegal in theory. It makes sense for Drew to have to resort to something like that to win a match because it shows he is a changed man who will do anything to win a match. Jey played his role very well as the babyface that took a beating, kept on coming back for more and nearly got the win with that Spear, but it wasn’t enough. I like Drew winning because it continues his positive momentum and I think that’s important for Drew as the top heel on Raw.

A clip was shown of CM Punk doing his promo on Smackdown last Friday and NXT Deadline last Saturday. It was all done to tease what brand Punk might be on.

CM Punk will be on later to announce what brand he will be on.


There was a Shinsuke Nakamura video talking (he spoke in Japanese with English subtitles) about how he has watched Cody Rhodes every week talking about finishing his story, yet Cody is no closer. Nakamura said that Cody is not good enough and never will be. Nakamura said he was drawing his own destiny and painting his own story. Nakamura claimed that Cody asked for this.

Analysis: I like those videos. It’s a way to allow Nakamura to do promos and gives them a different feel from everybody else.

The Judgment Day was shown in their clubhouse. Finn Balor said that the wheels are falling off around here. Rhea Ripley ripped on them for letting R-Truth get involved. Ripley noted that Dom & JD lost to The Creed Brothers and Ripley mentioned Dominik losing the NXT North American Title. Priest took a shot at Ripley and Balor missing Raw last week. Priest said that he and Balor will take care of The Creed Brothers when they face them. Ripley complained about Priest saying he was a leader, so Priest argued with her. Ripley was angry about all of this so she said she’ll make an example out of Maxxine Dupri.

Maxxine Dupri and Alpha Academy were backstage with The Creed Brothers, who had Ivy Niel with them. R-Truth walked in with some Christmas lights that he stole from The Judgment Day. Chad Gable said that he doesn’t think Truth is in the group. Truth said he is in the group and he wished them a Happy Thanksgiving.

Analysis: Truth rules. I certainly don’t miss the 24/7 Title either.

Rhea Ripley, the Women’s World Champion, made her entrance for singles action.


Rhea Ripley (w/Ivy Nile) vs. Maxxine Dupri

Ripley’s title was not on the line. There’s a big difference in experience level here. Dupri has had six matches according to Cole. Maxxine got a slap to the face. Ripley followed up with three straight clotheslines. Ripley did a lift and Maxxine countered with an awkward headscissors that she had to attempt twice to get it right. Maxxine dropkicked Ripley into the turnbuckle. Ripley hit a running boot to knock Maxxine down. Ripley hit the Riptide slam which was a bit sloppy. Ripley trash-talked Maxxine and Ripley applied her Prism Trap submission move. Maxxine tapped out to end it after two minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Rhea Ripley

Analysis: *1/2 Easy win for Ripley. It didn’t need to be a longer match. Dupri is still green, which you could tell since she had trouble doing a hurricanrana and the Riptide didn’t look great either. I’m not blaming Maxxine. I’m just saying you can tell there’s a lack of experience with her.

After the match, Ivy Nile got into the ring and had a staredown with Ripley. Rhea held up her Women’s World Title and laughed at Nile. Ripley smirked and left.

Analysis: That could lead to a math. If it does, it should be another decisive win for Ripley.

A video aired about Kayden Carter & Katana Chance partying and having fun since they are the life of the party. They spoke about setting their sights on the Women’s Tag Team Titles. They have a match later.

Adam Pearce, the Raw General Manager, was shown walking backstage. Pearce knocked on the dressing room door of CM Punk and Pearce went into the room.


CM Punk Chooses What Brand He Will Be On

Adam Pearce was in the ring saying the man he’s going to bring out here doesn’t need an introduction, but Pearce did it anyway. Pearce had a Raw contract with him. Pearce mentioned knowing CM Punk for 25 years. They are the same age and started in the business at around the same time, so they likely do know each other well. Pearce introduced CM Punk.

CM Punk made his entrance to a big ovation from the crowd. Punk was wearing his “Hell Froze Over” shirt. Punk went into the ring and shook hands with Pearce. The fans chanted “CM Punk” before he said a word.

CM Punk said he thought he was in a sullen mood, but he sees all these signs and sees all of these people. Punk said that he had a huge decision to make. Punk said that he’s been thinking about it all week. Punk spoke about how he loved the fans, but the truth is that this town and this building historically haven’t always been kind to CM Punk. Punk said that in the hallways, there are a lot of ghosts. Punk said that he debuted in this building and he had Mickie James on his arm. Punk said that it was so good that they said they were sending him to OVW. Punk said he didn’t want to go.

Punk said that he embraced being uncomfortable and learned to love it. Punk said that he triumphantly returned to this same building as the World Champion who was ready to put up a show. Punk said that Randy Orton kicked him in the head, he woke up and said that he was no longer the champion. Punk was like “Cleveland…again.”

Punk asked if anybody was here ten years ago and not bore you with details. Punk said he’s focused on the now. Punk said that ten years ago, he took himself off the hamster wheel and he left. Punk talked about how he didn’t want any of the fans to feel disappointed. Punk said that if you were disappointed that CM Punk walked out, he understood and he apologized.

Punk talked about how he saw Nick Aldis, who said he put out a substantial offer for Smackdown. Punk talked about getting an offer from Shawn Michaels to mold the next generation of superstars in NXT. Punk said that the Raw deal offered is head and shoulders above the other deals. Punk said that his mind was probably already made up when he looked at the calendar and he saw Cleveland. Punk said that he was here to bury those ghosts, right a few wrongs and his future starts Raw. Punk said that ten years ago, almost to the day, CM Punk walked out and now he walks back in no matter how you feel about it. Punk said congratulations to Adam Pearce because the newest Raw superstar is CM Punk and CM Punk. The fans chanted “CM Punk” as Punk signed the contract. Punk celebrated on the turnbuckle.

Here comes Seth “Freakin” Rollins, the World Heavyweight Champion!

Analysis: That is a lot of Cleveland history for Punk. I knew the Mickie James thing because she’s been a friend of mine for a long time and obviously the story of Punk walking out of WWE in January 2014 is memorable as well. I fully expected CM Punk to sign with Raw because it makes a lot of sense, especially with Randy Orton going to Smackdown. I also wondered if they would do the Punk-Rollins confrontation and here we are.

Seth “Freakin” Rollins walked out to the ring in a purple jacket and pants along with a black shirt. Rollins got in Punk’s face for a staredown while Pearce tried to keep things calm between them. Rollins and Punk had a staredown while fans chanted “holy shit” at this moment along with some Seth Rollins song singing. Rollins walked past Punk to grab the microphone.

Rollins: “Cleveland, Ohio…CM Punk…welcome to Monday Night Rollins.” The fans chanted that with Seth. Rollins said that Punk is incredibly fortunate to be standing in this ring right now. Rollins told Punk that he shouldn’t call this place your home. There were “CM Punk” chants in response to that.

Rollins told Punk that he abandoned this place ten years ago. Rollins said that Punk also tried to tear it down. Rollins said that Punk spent ten years slandering Rollins and slandering the locker room and walk back in here calling this place your home. Rollins said “This is not your home, this is my home.” The fans cheered that. Rollins said that he’s been here. Rollins said that the guys in the back are his brothers and sisters. Rollins said that everybody in the crowd and at home are his family, so he’ll do everything he can to protect it from people like Punk.

Rollins said that he didn’t want there to be any confusion. Rollins stared at Punk saying “I hate you.” Rollins said that if Punk is going to be in WWE again then he wants him on Raw. Rollins told Punk that the truth always comes out. Rollins told Punk that we all know that this is Punk’s last chance. Rollins said that Punk is going to self-destruct like he always does and Rollins will slam the door shut on Punk’s legacy. Rollins said if by some miracle, if Punk has changed and he has any gas left in the tank, maybe one day you’ll be in the ring you’ll be lucky enough to stand across the ring in a World Heavyweight Championship match. Rollins said he would expose Punk for the fraud that he is. Rollins said that there are levels to this and wrestle circles around him. Rollins said he’ll show Punk what it means to be the Best in the World. There were “CM Punk” chants after that.

CM Punk: “Are you done?” Punk said that was your one pass to speak to Punk disrespectfully. Punk said that he has always made it a career of doing things the hard way. Punk called on Adam Pearce, who was on the apron. CM Punk said that he is entering the Royal Rumble. Punk said when he wins, maybe he’ll choose to go after Seth Rollins. Punk walked by Rollins as Punk’s music played to end it.

Analysis: That was an excellent promo from Rollins while Punk only had a short reply. I think we can pencil in Rollins-Punk for WrestleMania 40 as one of the two main events. There’s still a lot of time to get there of course, but I think the seeds have been planted. Everything that Rollins said from a character standpoint made sense because Rollins has been a main event level guy for the ten years that Punk has been gone, so Rollins has every right to say this isn’t your home because it is Seth’s home. What Punk could say in the future is that he also put in eight years in WWE and he came up with the idea of The Shield, so they could touch on that history there. Anyway, I thought it was a great idea to have Rollins confront Punk and tease this as a future match.

The full CM Punk segment was posted on WWE’s YouTube channel. It is 18 minutes, so it was a lengthy promo.

A video aired about the Bronson Reed-Ivar rivalry with both guys commenting about their upcoming match.

Bronson Reed entered for his match.

This Friday on Smackdown: Roman Reigns returns, plus Kevin Owens vs. Austin Theory and Carmelo Hayes vs. Grayson Waller in the US Title Contender’s Tournament.


Bronson Reed vs. Ivar (w/Valhalla)

Ivar attacked with strikes and elbow smashes. Reed came back with a running body attack to knock Ivar down. Reed whipped Ivar into the turnbuckle. They both ran the ropes leading to a double clothesline spot that knocked them both down. They were both on the floor leading to a long-distance staredown. They charged at each other on the floor leading to a double cross body block. Good spot leading to a break.


Ivar hit an impressive spinebuster for a two count. Ivar charged at Reed, who moved and Ivar hit the turnbuckle. Reed went up top, but Ivar knocked him down followed by Ivar hitting a clothesline on Reed on the apron. Ivar hit a cannonball off the top rope onto a standing Reed on the floor. That was impressive with Ivar hitting hard on the mat. Back in the ring, Reed and Ivar battled by the turnbuckle. Reed stood on the top rope and hit a superplex! Reed covered with one arm on the chest for the pinfall win after about ten minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Bronson Reed

Analysis: *** It’s rare to see a match end on a top rope superplex since it’s such a common move, but I think it’s fine to end with that move since they are two super heavyweights in the match. It really could have gone either way since Ivar is getting a decent push as a singles guy while Reed is also a talented powerhouse. I thought Reed winning was the right move. These guys are talented and match up well together.

CM Punk was shown walking backstage with his phone in his hand. Punk walked up to The Judgment Day without Rhea Ripley there. Punk asked about Rhea. Damian Priest welcomed Punk to Raw and said that he hoped Punk would be the one to finish the story because when he did, Priest would be waiting. Priest showed Punk the Senor Money in the Bank briefcase. The Judgment Day left while Punk just stared at them. Cole said the landscape has changed a lot in the last ten years and that’s very true.

Analysis: I like segments with CM Punk interacting with different people on the roster. It teases the idea of future matches.

The Judgment Day’s Damian Priest, Finn Balor, Dominik Mysterio & JD McDonagh entered for a promo.


Let’s Hear from The Judgment Day

The Judgment Day’s Damian Priest, Finn Balor, Dominik Mysterio & JD McDonagh were in the ring for a promo. Priest wanted us to rise for The Judgment Day and Balor wanted us to rise for the only two-time Undisputed WWE Tag Team Champions Priest & Balor. Priest said they had a simple message for every WWE superstar. Priest said if you have already been dealt by The Judgment Day, a returning superstar or new superstars like The Creed Brothers. Dominik Mysterio tried to speak, but he was booed heavily.

R-Truth walked out wearing a Raw shirt along with the Christmas lights. Truth claimed that they had a lock for the front and back door. Truth talked about a holiday party. JD told Truth this is not a holiday party and he wouldn’t be invited. Priest invited Truth into the ring.

R-Truth went into the ring saying he had a lot of ideas for The Judgment Day to help the group out. Truth said they needed to kick JD out, which led to laughs. Truth: “I’m sorry, dog! Nobody likes you!” Truth told Priest to stop calling himself the boss, but it makes Mami mad and they all get confused. Priest said that Truth is a funny guy and he understands why people like him. Priest said that everybody likes R-Truth except him, so Priest clotheslined Truth. The rest of the group stomped on Truth.

The Creed Brothers duo of Julius & Brutus Reed ran out to the ring to make the save for Truth. They were outnumbered so The Judgment Day was in control. Julius fought back with a suplex on JD & Dom on the floor. Julius dropkicked Balor off the apron to the floor. The Creeds hit a double spinebuster on Priest. The Judgment Day retreated to end it.

Analysis: That was an effective segment in terms of showing that The Creed Brothers are two guys who can put up a fight and they took out four guys on their own. R-Truth was hilarious as usual. I also thought Priest does a nice job of being a pure heel who is there to anger the fans.

CM Punk was backstage with Drew McIntyre and Raw GM Adam Pearce. Drew said that he didn’t care about CM Punk’s story or Cody Rhodes’ story because Drew is going to finish his story. Drew left. Pearce said that he thought Drew would be happier since he’s challenging Seth Rollins for the World Heavyweight Title on Day 1 Raw on January 1st. Kofi Kingston, Chad Gable and Ricochet walked up to Pearce. Punk greeted his friend Kofi with a mention of Kofi’s Jamaican past with Kofi saying he didn’t do that anymore. That was funny. Punk was nice to Gable and said he heard Ricochet sucked at video games, so Ricochet left. Punk left and Kofi, Gable & Ricochet went into the office with Pearce to talk about something related to the Intercontinental Title.

Kayden Carter & Katana Chance entered for tag team action.


Candice LeRae & Indi Hartwell vs. Kayden Carter & Katana Chance

The Women’s Tag Team Champions Chelsea Green & Piper Niven were on commentary. Indi knocked down Carter with a shoulder tackle while Carter came back with a dropkick. Chance tagged in with a slingshot senton splash. Chance did a headscissors on Indi. LeRae tagged in to trip Carter and LeRae hit a back splash onto Carter’s back. Natalya and Tegan Nox were shown watching the match. Indi and LeRae hit a double team neckbreaker for a two count. Indi hit a spinebuster on Carter. Carter blocked a double team move with double knees and a superkick. Chance tagged in leading to the 450 splash/neckbreaker combo called the After Party. It went three minutes.

Winners by pinfall: Kayden Carter & Katana Chance

Analysis: ** It was the second straight win for Carter & Chance so it will set them up for a title opportunity. A short match just to give Carter & Chance a win. Indi & LeRae are talented as a team, but they just aren’t being used much.

Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa were backstage with Gargano holding a Cleveland Browns title since they won one day earlier with Gargano on hand. Imperium’s Ludwig Kaiser & Giovanni Vinci walked in wondering who their mystery partner would be for the six-man tag team match. Ciampa said they wondered how GUNTHER would react when they disappoint him again. GUNTHER wasn’t worried about the partner for #DIY and Imperium left.

Becky Lynch was shown backstage because she’s up next.


Let’s Hear from Becky Lynch

Becky Lynch made her entrance in street clothes with the fans cheering her as usual. They showed Nia Jax beating Shayna Baszler last week. After the match, Jax backed away when Lynch confronted her.

Lynch said she was there to call out Nia Jax. Lynch said that they have never had a singles match, but they have been linked together for five years because of this. A clip was shown of Nia Jax punching Jax five years ago and giving Lynch a broken nose. Lynch was bloody and missed a bit of time, but then she went on the best run of her career.

Lynch talked about how she would go on to main event WrestleMania while Jax went on to have double ACL because Jax is a woman so unlikable that even her own knees wouldn’t stand up for her. Good line. Lynch said she had a child, Jax got fired and now it’s 2023 and they are both here.

Nia Jax walked out to the ring to let Lynch know that Jax was better than ever. Jax said that punch was a lucky swing that almost ended Lynch’s career. Jax claimed she didn’t even get all of it. Jax said Lynch wouldn’t even get up if Jax punched her with full force. Jax said it’s a contact sport. Lynch said she didn’t even hold it against Jax. Lynch talked about how Jax has nearly ended a few careers and Jax said that’s why people like Lynch keep talking about Jax. Jax claimed that Lynch should thank Jax for Lynch’s career.

Lynch said this is the narrative that she needs to change. Lynch said that it was about dusting yourself off, getting back up and fighting like hell. Lynch said that it was what she has done her whole life and done ever since. Lynch told Jax that she is lying when she said that Lynch is only a main event star because of that. Jax told Lynch that Lynch needed Jax. Jax said that Lynch has to prove to herself that her career wasn’t some accident after Jax broke her face. Otherwise, Jax will be the woman that made the man.

Lynch told Jax to shut the hell up. Lynch said she didn’t just come to Cleveland to talk because she came there looking for a fight. Lynch offered up her face for Jax to punch her. Jax said that you need this a lot more than I do and Jax left. The fans booed. They played Lynch’s music.

Analysis: That segment was pretty good. It reminded us why we love Becky Lynch as a fighting babyface who never wants to back down from a challenge. Lynch made a lot of good points about how her dedication to the business and her drive are what made her a success, which I believe as well. Jax backing away is a smart way to get heel heat from the fans who don’t like Jax to begin with. I thought it did nice a job of building up to a future match.

Cody Rhodes was interviewed by Jackie Redmond. Cody said that he was happy for CM Punk, happy for Adam Pearce getting it done, happy for Raw and mentioned that he knows Royal Rumble is right around the corner. Cody said if Shinsuke Nakamura didn’t spit the mist in Cody’s eyes then he’d be more excited about a first-time match. Cody said that Nakamura is vicious now. Nakamura says that Cody asked for this and Cody said “damn right I did” to end it.

The Imperium trio of Intercontinental Champion GUNTHER, Ludwig Kaiser & Giovanni Vinci entered for a six-man tag team match.


The #DIY duo of Tommaso Ciampa & Johnny Gargano made their entrance with a mystery partner…The Miz. That’s a smart choice since Miz has a history with GUNTHER and The Miz is a Clevelander like Gargano is. Cole wondered if this would work out.

The Miz, Tommaso Ciampa & Johnny Gargano vs. Imperium – GUNTHER, Ludwig Kaiser & Giovanni Vinci

There was a loud “Johnny Wrestling” chant from the crowd. Gunther decked Gargano with a punch and a stiff chop. Imperium made quick tags as they worked over Gargano a bit. Ciampa tagged in with a jawbreaker followed by a clothesline. Ciampa ran the ropes, Kaiser pulled open the rope and Ciampa bumped to the floor. Gunther hit a boot to the face of Ciampa while on the floor and that led to a break.


Gunther was in there for his team as he kicked Miz off the apron to the floor. Vinci tagged in with a cross body block on Ciampa. Vinci charged, Ciampa moved out of the way and Vinci hit the turnbuckle. Gargano tagged in with a kick on Kaiser followed by a bulldog combo move. Gargano hit a slingshot Spear on Kaiser for two. Gargano avoided Vinci, who went tumbling over the top to the floor. Gargano slipped out of a Kaiser move and Gargano hit a superkick. Miz got the hot tag against Gunther leading to punches and a corner clothesline. Miz kicked Gunther followed by a cross body block off the top. Miz delivered a kick to the jaw. Miz worked over Gunther with kicks to the chest, but Gunther came back with a hard chop. Gunther applied a Boston Crab submission that Ciampa broke up with a running knee. Kaiser/Vinci hit a double team clothesline chop block on Ciampa. Miz and Gargano each hit DDTs on Kaiser and Vinci. Gunther was back up with a kick to knock Gargano down. Miz tripped up Gunther leading to Miz applying the Figure Four Leglock. Gargano applied the Gargano Escape submission on Kaiser. Vinci tagged in and hit an elbow drop on Miz to break up the hold. Miz got out of a Vinci move and Miz hit a Skull Crushing Finale for the pinfall win after 11 minutes.

Winners by pinfall: The Miz, Tommaso Ciampa & Johnny Gargano

Analysis: *** When Imperium is in a six-man tag team match and they lose, it’s usually Vinci taking the fall, so that wasn’t a surprise here. I liked how they built up the hot tag for The Miz, who was cheered heavily by his hometown crowd. It seems like The Miz might be challenging Gunther again. If that’s going to happen then building up Miz as a threat is a smart booking move. Gunther could have done more in the match, but I think this was all about putting Miz over to give him some more momentum.

Next week on Raw:

* Undisputed WWE Tag Team Championships: The Judgment Day vs. The Creed Brothers

* WWE Women’s Tag Team Championships: Chelsea Green & Piper Niven vs. Kayden Carter & Katana Chance

That’s the final Raw of 2023 because Christmas Day is a “best of” show and the following Monday is New Year’s Day 2024.

Shinsuke Nakamura made his entrance for the main event.


A replay was shown of CM Punk announcing that he is joining Raw. Seth Rollins got in Punk’s face to say that Punk abandoned this place and tried to tear it down. Seth told Rollins that is his home. Punk said he’s entering the Royal Rumble and when Punk wins, maybe he’s coming after Seth.

The Imperium trio of Gunther, Kaiser & Vinci were backstage with The Miz walking up to Gunther asking for another title match. Gunther said that he’ll grant Miz a title match again, but Miz can never challenge for the title again as long as Gunther is the champion. The Miz: “Done.” That’s a match to look forward to in the future.

Analysis: Next week is the last Raw of 2023, so I’m assuming that WWE will load up the January 1 show. They can do Gunther-Miz there and Lynch-Jax, plus we know Rollins-McIntyre is already set for it.

Cody Rhodes made his entrance for the main event with the fans cheering loudly. The fans were into the song and the “WHOA-OH” part of the entrance as well.

Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Cody Rhodes

This was a first-time ever match. There were counters early on until Cody connected with a dropkick followed by the ten punches against the turnbuckle. Cody went up top, Nakamura kicked him to stop that and Nakamura hit a running knee to the ribs. Nakamura did a sliding kick to knock Cody out of the ring to the floor.


Nakamura was in control with a jumping kick to the chest. Nakamura grabbed a headlock. Cody broke free with an uppercut. Cody went for a Cody Cutter off the ropes, but Nakamura avoided it and applied an armbar. Nakamura got out of a Cross Rhodes attempt and Nakamura applied an armbar again. Nakamura kicked Cody against the ropes leading to Nakamura’s sliding reverse German Suplex. Nakamura jumped off the middle turnbuckle with a knee to the jaw. Nakamura charged, but Cody dropkicked the leg to stop that. Cody did a dragon screw leg whip. Cody wrenched on Nakamura’s left leg against the ropes. Cody hit a face-first suplex to send Nakamura into the mat. Cody applied a half crab submission until Nakamura got to the bottom rope to break the hold. Nakamura left the ring so Cody hit a suicide dive into the barricade.


The show returned with about seven minutes left as they did a double clothesline to knock both guys down. They got into a slugfest. Nakamura hit a forearm to the head, but Cody came back with a running elbow. Cody hit a powerslam. Nakamura trapped Cody in a sleeper hold on the mat with Nakamura using his legs around the waist. Cody got back up to his feet and Cody fell backward while Nakamura was on his back. Cody hit a Disaster Kick for a two count. Cody delivered punches doing the Dusty Combo followed by an elbow smash to the head. Cody hit the Cody Cutter off the ropes. Cody went for Cross Rhodes, Nakamura slipped out of it and Nakamura spit the red mist into Cody’s face! The referee was right there, so he saw it. It was a disqualification finish after 18 minutes.

Winner by disqualification: Cody Rhodes

Analysis: ***1/4 It was a very good match by two talented veteran wrestlers, but I’m not a big fan of going nearly 20 minutes just to end with a disqualification. I get that it’s a story about Nakamura being cheap with the mist and he didn’t care about winning the match, but if you are going to end it like that then cut down the time so it’s a bit shorter. It just seems silly to have Rhodes and Nakamura go that long just to do a DQ finish. There will be a rematch down the road.

After the match, Nakamura stomped on Cody on the mat while Cody was selling the idea that he couldn’t see well because of the mist in his eyes. Nakamura dropkicked the back of Cody’s leg and Nakamura hit a running Kinshasa knee to the back of the head. Nakamura brought a steel chair into the ring. The Creed Brothers ran out to the ring and Nakamura left the ring. Cody was handed a towel while a referee used a water bottle to try to help Cody clear out his eyes. When Cody left the ring, Nakamura returned with a running knee strike. The Creeds were in the ring while Cody was on the help. Nakamura was booed as he left while Cody continued to sell the attack. End of show.

Analysis: I thought Cody Rhodes did a great job of selling the red mist to the eyes. As I mentioned above, this will lead to a rematch between Cody and Nakamura. This will keep Cody busy until the Royal Rumble, so it’s good that the creative team came up with a rivalry for Cody before that huge show in January. It’s not the most exciting way to end Raw and it’s the second straight week with a heel attack in the main event. However, I thought it made sense to have Nakamura stand tall to get heat on him for this rivalry.


Three Stars of the Show

  1. Seth Rollins, CM Punk
  2. Drew McIntyre
  3. Cody Rhodes, Shinsuke Nakamura, Jey Uso


The Scoreboard

7.5 out of 10

Last week: 8.5

2023 Average: 7.41


Final Thoughts on WWE Raw

It was another interesting edition of Raw. Last week was better, but that was probably the best Raw of the year, so it’s not like this was bad. I still rated it highly. The Seth Rollins-CM Punk segment was definitely the highlight of the show. Rollins got to say a lot of things he wanted to say while Punk offered a quick reply to let Rollins know he could be coming after him if Punk wins the Royal Rumble. Rollins played the obvious “this isn’t your home because you left us” card that I figured they would use and it worked very well. They did great well. It certainly teased a future major showdown at WrestleMania.

The match quality was pretty good most of the night, but not as great as last week’s outstanding show. I thought Drew McIntyre-Jey Uso easily had the best match. It was another outstanding performance by Drew, who is thriving as Raw’s top heel. The Becky Lynch-Nia Jax promo was pretty solid as well. I’m not clamoring for Nia Jax matches, but there is a long backstory and if you don’t give it away too soon it can mean something. I think what they did here was effective enough.

I think the Cody Rhodes-Shinsuke Nakamura main event was solid. However, I don’t love a DQ finish in a match that nearly goes 20 minutes. I get that Nakamura is the heel that doesn’t care about winning and spraying the mist in Cody’s eyes will continue the story. It just felt a bit long with a bit of a flat ending. As I wrote in the opening, Raw is loaded with top-level babyface wrestlers and that’s one of the strengths of the brand right now. Next week is the last new Raw of 2023, then Christmas is a “best of” type show and the New Year’s Day 2024 episode looks to be a big one.


Thanks for reading. Please check out my reviews of every WWE PPV ever listed in order. Go Los Angeles Rams, Toronto Raptors and Toronto Maple Leafs. My contact info is below.

John Canton


Twitter/X @johnreport