This week’s WWE Raw featured three title matches including GUNTHER defending the Intercontinental Title against The Miz.
It’s the final new Raw episode of 2023 because next week’s Christmas show will be a “best of” type of episode. The New Year’s Day episode of Raw on January 1st looks like it will have a strong lineup. I want you wish you fine people a Merry Christmas if you are celebrating. I will be and I look forward to relaxing a bit around those days. I am planning on posting my 2023 WWE Johnny Awards on Thursday, December 28th or maybe a day later if I need more time. It’s 15 years of those awards, so that’s pretty cool.
The Raw intro video aired to start the show. There was an impressive pyro display as well. It said “Happy Holidays” on the big screen with Christmas trees and presents all around the entrance area. It was Michael Cole and Wade Barrett on commentary.
Let’s Hear from The Judgment Day
The Judgment Day’s Women’s World Champion Rhea Ripley, Dominik Mysterio, WWE Tag Team Champions Damian Priest & Finn Balor and JD McDonagh entered for a promo ahead of JD’s match.
Priest welcomed us to Raw and told us to rise for The Judgment Day, so that drew boos. Balor congratulated The Creed Brothers for earning the Tag Team Title match tonight. Balor said it was The Creeds biggest match and biggest night, but for them, it was just another night at the office. Rhea Ripley threatened Ivy Nile and reminded us that they ran WWE in 2023 and they will run WWE in 2024.
R-Truth interrupted the promo wearing a tank top with his makeshift Judgment Day shirt. Truth welcomed us to Raw. JD asked Truth what he was doing out there. Truth got into the ring saying he was in The Judgment Day. Truth said that the beatdown last week was his initiation. Truth claimed he was hurt physically and initially. Truth told Priest he knew he didn’t mean it when Priest said he didn’t like him. Priest was laughing. JD threatened to hurt Truth. Truth said that they all wanted to get into a fight, so then Truth said he needed somebody to beat up on. Truth suggested a Miracle on 34th Street Fight with JD, who said that match was already advertised and it’s happening. Truth said that 34th Street is far away so they better get going. JD said that Truth isn’t in The Judgment Day. Truth claimed that this was a Loser Leaves Judgment Day match. Priest thought it was a good idea. JD said it doesn’t matter because Truth will need a miracle to beat him.
Analysis: It was good comedy by R-Truth as usual. The rest of it was the usual Judgment Day promo.
Miracle on 34th Street Fight: R-Truth vs. JD McDonagh (w/Dominik Mysterio)
This was Truth’s first match in over a year since suffering a major leg injury in an NXT match. Truth attacked with punches. JD avoided a move and hit an elbow smash. Dominik Mysterio handed JD a candy cane kendo stick. Truth avoided the kendo stick and Truth hit a scissors kick. Truth took off his belt and whipped JD in the butt. Truth slammed JD into a tray of cookies. Truth hit a pump kick into a box on JD’s face and knocked him down. Truth hugged Dominik at ringside, so Dominik shoved Truth into the ring post. Cole: “Oh come on Dom, why do you always got to be the stooge?” They went to break.
Truth hit a running corner splash followed by a hiptoss into a pin attempt for a two. Truth brought a table into the ring. Dominik tripped up Truth and Truth headbutted JD when he landed. Truth got payback on Dominik my sending Dom into the steel steps. Truth used a fire extinguisher to spray it into JD’s eyes. Truth set up a table in the ring followed by Truth doing the John Cena sequence with two shoulder tackles and a spinning suplex. Truth ducked a move leading to Truth hitting a jumping heel kick. Truth hit his own version of the Five Knuckle Shuffle fist drop. Truth sent a charging JD to the floor. Truth hit JD with a Christmas tree while they were on the floor. Truth set up JD on the table in the ring. Truth went to the middle turnbuckle, JD slapped him in the face and they battled on the turnbuckle. JD grabbed Truth looking like he was going to do a move off the ropes, but then they went crashing through the table with Truth on top for the pinfall win. It went nine minutes.
Winner by pinfall: R-Truth
Analysis: **1/2 It was fine for a comedy match with Truth getting the win even though he didn’t initiate the move through the table. JD got a decent amount of offense, but not that much. I thought Dominik would get more involved in the match. It’s smart to have the babyface win a match like that.
R-Truth celebrated the win while the announcers argued about whether this meant Truth was in The Judgment Day. Barrett threatened to call Cole “Byron Saxton” again as he did earlier in the show. That’s because Barrett does Main Event with Saxton before Raw comes on.
Kayden Carter & Katana Chance did a backstage promo about becoming the new Women’s Tag Team Champions. They said it was their time to party.
Nia Jax made her entrance for a promo.
Let’s Hear from Nia Jax…and Becky Lynch
Nia Jax was in the ring alone about to do a promo when Becky Lynch showed up for the interruption. When Lynch got into the ring, Jax left the ring. Lynch wondered why Jax left the ring and said that she could say it to her face.
Jax said as much as she would love to break Lynch’s face again, Jax had more important matters to deal with. Jax said she was going to announce she was in the Royal Rumble. Lynch said that the fans don’t care. Lynch said that they might care that Lynch is here. Lynch said that she came here looking for a fight. Jax remained in the aisle saying that WWE officials were afraid of what Jax would do to her. Jax claimed Lynch is the money maker in the company and that would end if Jax had a match with her. Lynch said she is the money maker because she will fight anybody anywhere and at any time. Lynch told Jax that her entire existence here was on the back of somebody else’s name. Lynch said first it was Jax’s cousin (referring to The Rock) and now it is Lynch’s name. Lynch said that Jax’s claim to fame is she broke the nose of the greatest to ever do it. Lynch suggested Jax fights Lynch right here and right now.
Jax called for a referee to come out there right now. A referee ran out to the ring and Jax teased going into the ring. However, Jax got off the apron and left the ring. Jax said that Lynch isn’t going to get it. Jax said that it is going to happen on her terms and in her hometown of San Diego in two weeks on Raw Day 1. Jax said that when she puts Lynch in the hospital, Lynch’s daughter will ask why Lynch is uglier than usual. Jax turned her back, so Lynch jumped on Jax’s back to go after her. Officials broke it up, so Jax punched Lynch in the back to knock her down. Lynch was down selling to end it.
Analysis: It was an effective promo to set up their match two weeks away. That felt like an obvious spot for the match based on their promos last week, so it was more of the same this week and now we know when the match takes place. They can probably do a spot in the match where Jax punches Lynch in the face and it looks like Lynch is knocked out, but Lynch can fight back and find a way to win. It will be interesting to see how they book it.
There was a video from earlier in the night when “Kofi Claus” aka Kofi Kingston tossed gifts to the fans and handed some gifts out to fans at ringside.
Kofi Claus was backstage where he walked up to #DIY’s Tommaso Ciampa & Johnny Gargano asking what they wanted. They said they wanted a Tag Team Title shot. Kofi gave Gargano a Jey Uso “YEET” shirt. Kofi left while #DIY walked up to Miz to shake his hand. They both wished Miz good luck.
The Miz was interviewed by Jackie Redmond about Miz’s title match against Intercontinental Champion GUNTHER. Miz said that Gunther is reeling and Miz claimed he rattled him. Miz claimed he pushed Gunther to the brink and Miz will become a nine-time Intercontinental Champion. Miz spoke about how you should ask Gunther if there’s added pressure since Gunther never wants to face Miz again.
The Miz made his entrance for the IC Title match with some fans cheering Miz since he’s a babyface now.
Intercontinental Championship: GUNTHER vs. The Miz
This is a rematch from Survivor Series when GUNTHER beat The Miz. If GUNTHER wins this match, then The Miz can’t challenge GUNTHER again.
Gunther tripped up Miz going for a Boston Crab, but Miz got to the ropes. Miz kicked Gunther in the legs until Gunther blocked a kick and Gunther delivered a hard chop. Miz applied a standing deathlock submission with Barrett saying that Miz was studying it. Gunther managed to get to the ropes. Miz kicked Gunther out of the ring. Miz went for a running kick, but Gunther avoided it and Gunther chopped Miz. Gunther gave Miz a Powerbomb on the apron. At first, Gunther didn’t lift him up all the way, so a second try allowed Gunther to complete the move.
Miz was punching Gunther, so then Miz ran the ropes and Gunther hit a running boot to the face. Gunther worked over Miz with kicks along with another hard chop to knock Miz down. Gunther yelled at Miz that he wanted to see him fight and Gunther chopped Miz hard in the chest again. Miz got back up leading to a bit of a chop fest, but Gunther hit him with an uppercut to the jaw. Miz came back with two kicks to the face along with the running clothesline that Miz likes to do. Miz went for a cross body block off the top, but Gunther caught him. Gunther put Miz on the top turnbuckle followed by Gunther putting his boot to the throat. Gunther chopped Miz out of the ring. Miz was up against the ring post, so Gunther delivered a chop, Miz moved and Gunther chopped the ring post. That led to a break.
The story was that Gunther may have an injured right hand so Miz wrenched on the right arm. Miz kicked the arm a few times. Gunther went for a Boston Crab submission. Miz countered it by wrenching the right arm. Gunther applied a cravat headlock pulling back on the face, but Miz squeezed the right hand to get out of it. Miz hit a DDT and there was no cover. Miz hit another DDT. Miz ran the ropes leading to a tilt-a-whirl DDT for two. Miz worked on the hand some more, but Gunther came back with a running dropkick. Gunther hit a Powerbomb for two. Gunther applied a Boston Crab submission and Miz crawled to the ropes while Gunther was selling the hand injury again. The fans were into it chanting “this is awesome” for them. Gunther hit some lefty chops, so Miz begged for more. Miz did a slap to the ear. Gunther applied a sleeper, but Miz countered it for two. Miz kicked Gunther’s hand to get out of a move and Miz hit a Skull Crushing Finale for one…two…but no! Gunther got his right shoulder up before the three count. Miz delivered two kicks to the head, but then Miz ran off the ropes and Gunther nailed Miz with a huge lariat. Gunther went up top. Miz went after him and Miz kicked Gunther’s hand. Miz hit a Skull Crushing Finale from the middle rope, but when Miz tried to cover, Gunther rolled out of the ring to the floor. The fans booed. They went back into the ring with Gunther hitting a Powerbomb, a lefty clothesline and Gunther hit another Powerbomb for a stacked pin on Miz for the one…two…and three! What a great match. It went 21 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: GUNTHER
Analysis: ****1/4 That was an awesome match that was better than their match at Survivor Series. It was one of The Miz’s best singles matches I’ve ever seen and I have covered the majority of his career. I liked the story of Gunther hurting his right hand in the second part of the match and Miz capitalized with a lot of offense after that. That Skull Crushing Finale for Miz was a great two count that the fans bought as a believable nearfall. Gunther sold the hand injury so well until the end of the match and even when he was delivering moves as well. It was cool to see Gunther doing some lefty moves because he was selling the injured right hand. That made it look like Miz had a shot to win, but of course, Gunther was able to put him away. The announcers did a terrific job of telling the story throughout the match while also praising Gunther for finding a way to win.
Gunther left with the title with Cole noting it was 556 days for Gunther as the champion.
Analysis: I’m not sure when Gunther will lose. What I am sure of as I think of my WWE Johnny Awards column is that Gunther is going to win some awards and maybe even some really big ones.
A video aired about The Creed Brothers talking about their match against The Judgment Day for the WWE Tag Team Titles. They spoke about how they are champions who are undefeated on Raw.
This Friday on Smackdown: AJ Styles is coming after Solo Sikoa, an eight-woman tag team match and two semifinal matches in the US Title Contender’s Tournament. The show was already taped last week.
GUNTHER was shown backstage with the Intercontinental Title around his waist. Imperium’s Ludwig Kaiser and Giovanni Vinci were there to applaud the champion. GUNTHER said he’s going to step away for a few weeks and recharge as the legendary champion that he is. GUNTHER wants them to work hard and impress him. GUNTHER left. Kofi Claus walked up so Kaiser said he had no time for this nonsense. Kofi gave Kaiser a gift – it was coal. Kaiser stared at Kofi and left. Kofi shouted that you have to be nice all year round.
Analysis: I hope this means that Imperium starts winning more matches. The Raw tag team division is pretty stacked these days, so you can’t have them all get wins.
Shinsuke Nakamura Presents “The American Nightmare Before Christmas”
A video aired featuring Shinsuke Nakamura reading a story saying that the nightmare is over and the nightmare is through. Nakamura even said that Cody’s father was inbred. Nakamura wished Cody a Merry Christmas and said that it would be his last fight.
As Nakamura was reading his story, Cody Rhodes went after Nakamura. They were fighting in the backstage area and then they ended up fighting out towards the ring. There were security guys (indy wrestlers) trying to break it up as Cody hit a running forearm on Nakamura. Cody was being held back by about five guys until Cody broke free.
Cody and Nakamura were at the ringside area with Cody hitting a double axhandle to the back. Cody cleared off the commentary table. Cody hit a suicide dive on Nakamura and the security guys. Cody sent Nakamura face first into the commentary table. Cody teased doing Cross Rhodes through the table, but a security guy pulled Nakamura away to stop that. Cody stood on the commentary while Nakamura walked backstage. Cody shouted: “We’re not done!”
Analysis: That should lead to another match between them and I expect Cody to get the win when that happens. It was a good segment overall to show that Cody wanted payback on Nakamura, who continues to try to play mind games. It’s a rivalry to keep Cody busy until Royal Rumble time gets here.
Akira Tozawa was talking to Raw GM Adam Pearce, who asked if this was really the match Tozawa wanted. Tozawa said, “Let’s do it.” Tozawa left. Chelsea Green & Piper Niven walked up to Pearce saying maybe Pearce should call the match off, but Pearce denied that request. Green & Niven walked away. Bronson Reed walked in saying he heard Pearce had plans for Gunther’s next challenger, so let’s talk. It ended there.
Katana Chance & Kayden Carter entered for their tag team match.
A video aired wishing the legendary WWE Hall of Famer Trish Stratus a happy birthday. I miss her.
Women’s Tag Team Championships: Chelsea Green & Piper Niven vs. Kayden Carter & Katana Chance
Carter hit a dropkick on Green and Chance tagged in with a senton splash on Green for two. Niven tagged in for the huge size advantage on Chance, who ran off the ropes and Niven decked Chance with a forearm. Carter tagged in, Chance with a bulldog and Carter hit a dropkick to the leg. Green helped Niven avoid a double team attack. Niven hit a splash off the middle turnbuckle on Chance and it was only a two count. They went to break.
The match returned with Niven going for a corner splash, but Chance moved and Niven hit the turnbuckle. Cater tagged in with multiple kicks including a kick/splash combo. Niven splashed Green by accident when Carter moved. Carter hit a springboard leg drop on Green for a two count. Green blocked a superplex, then Green jumped off the top and Green hit a leaping leg lariat that her husband Matt Cardona (former Zack Ryder) does. That got a two count. Niven back in, Green hit a double knee attack and Niven hit a senton splash on Carter for two because Chance made the save. Carter superkicked Niven to knock her down. Chance tagged for the double team Keg Stand splash for two because Green made the save. Green hit a German Suplex on Carter to take her out of the ring. Chance hit a double knee attack on Green. Carter was back in as the legal woman and Chance did the 450 Splash off the top into the neckbreaker by Carter for the After Party double team move for the pinfall win after 10 minutes.
Winners by pinfall AND NEW Women’s Tag Team Champions: Kayden Carter & Katana Chance
Analysis: *** It was a pretty good match that had a bunch of believable nearfalls throughout the match. They were very effective in terms of getting the crowd into the match more with all of the nearfalls. The team of Carter & Chance are extremely likable, but I wouldn’t say that it’s a particularly strong women’s tag team division right now. Perhaps it will improve now. Green & Niven did fine as champions although I don’t think they needed a title reign that was much longer than what they were given.
Kayden Carter & Katana Chance celebrated the win while Chelsea Green was screaming in frustration. Niven was out on the floor looking sad about the loss.
Ivy Nile was backstage with Alpha Academy with Nile saying she went to Adam Pearce to challenge Rhea Ripley. Nile left. Akira Tozawa walked in saying he has a match tonight. Chad Gable asked who. Tozawa said “him” and it was Ivar with Valhalla. Gable said he wanted Tozawa to go big in the new year, but not that big.
Ivar made his entrance with Valhalla.
There was a replay of Chance & Carter winning the Women’s Tag Team Titles before the break.
Kayden Carter & Katana Chance were backstage with the Women’s Tag Team Titles while other Raw women were standing around backstage. Kofi Claus asked what they wanted for Christmas this year and Carter said that they got what they wanted. Chance & Carter talked about dreams coming true, so they went to party with Candice LeRae & Indi Hartwell. Natalya & Tegan Nox were standing together with Shayna Baszler & Zoey Stark. Natalya said those new champions will need challengers and Baszler said that’s what she was thinking.
Analysis: That should lead to a matchup between those teams. We found out later it was happening in two weeks.
Akira Tozawa (w/Maxxine Dupri) vs. Ivar (w/Valhalla)
Tozawa went after Ivar with punches. Ivar shoved Tozawa out of the ring. Tozawa hit some kicks and a “Thank You” shout. Ivar caught a leaping Tozawa and Ivar tried a move, but Tozawa got out of the way. Ivar lifted Tozawa into the air leading to Tozawa hitting a DDT. Tozawa charged, but Ivar got his legs up and sat on Tozawa’s chest to put him down. Ivar went up top, he jumped off with a splash and Tozawa moved out of the way. Tozawa ripped his tank top off. Tozawa went on the top rope, Valhalla stared at him and Maxxine pulled Valhalla off the apron, so Valhalla charged and Maxxine sent Valhalla into the barricade. Tozawa hit a senton splash off the top for two. Ivar hit a spin kick to knock Tozawa down. Ivar went up top, Tozawa shoved him down and Tozawa kicked Ivar in the head. Ivar blocked a hurricanrana attempt and Ivar hit a World’s Strongest Slam off the middle turnbuckle for the pinfall win after four minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Ivar
Analysis: **3/4 It went longer than I thought, but it was the expected result. Ivar lost to Bronson Reed, so it was a way to give Ivar a win. Tozawa is extremely entertaining in his role.
A video aired recapping the CM Punk-Seth Rollins confrontation from last week’s Raw.
Seth Freakin’ Rollins was shown walking backstage with the World Heavyweight Title for some promo time at the top of hour three. Nikki Cross was hiding in the background.
It was Steve Austin’s birthday on Monday so they said happy birthday to him. Happy Birthday to Stone Cold!
Let’s Hear from Seth Rollins and Drew McIntyre
Seth “Freakin” Rollins made his entrance as the World Heavyweight Champion and he was introduced as “Iowa’s Own” since he’s from Davenport, Iowa and I believe he still lives in the area. The fans gave Rollins a huge pop. Rollins had on a lime green shiny jacket, red shirt and black pants. The fans sang the Rollins song loudly as usual.
Rollins welcomed us to “Monday Night Rollins” as the show hit the third hour. Rollins went over his nicknames as usual while the fans sang the song again. Rollins said that things have been heating up for this Iowa boy. Rollins said after his confrontation last week, he is more motivated than ever to be the best World Champion in this entire industry. Rollins said that at Day 1 Raw he’ll defend the World Heavyweight Championship against Drew McIntyre, which led to boos at the mention of Drew’s name. Rollins said at Crown Jewel, Drew gave…and here comes Drew.
Drew McIntyre made his entrance in street clothes including a black jacket, black shirt and jeans. Rollins put the World Heavyweight Title down in the ring. Cole noted that Rollins hasn’t been pinned since January 3rd of this year. Rollins told Drew he remembered that headbutt from a few weeks ago, so tread lightly.
Drew said he wasn’t there to fight. Drew said he was proud of Rollins. Drew said that so many back there turn a blind eye to CM Punk and kissing arse, but not Seth. Drew said that Rollins told Punk the truth exactly the way it needed to be said. Drew said that is a real leader. Drew said that Rollins is World Champion, we’re in the festive season and Seth’s home crowd was singing his song. They sang the song again as Rollins picked the World Title up.
Drew said it probably feels pretty good. Drew said he’s talked a lot about his family and said that he had a chance to go home not long ago. Drew said he started to feel guilt, he saw his dad getting older and he wondered if this was all worth it. Drew said that Seth’s wife (Becky Lynch) is in the same position that Drew is in by moving across the world and not spending time with her family back home. Drew talked about when you miss a family event because of a show. Drew spoke about his mom passing away, but his family told him to chase that dream and suddenly they’re not here anymore. Drew said that he doesn’t want that title, he needs that title. Drew wants to know if the sacrifices are worth it. Drew said he’ll do whatever it takes to take that title from Rollins at Day 1.
Rollins spoke about how we don’t know entirely how to feel about Drew. Rollins said he wants to believe Drew, but as of late his actions don’t line up so Seth isn’t sure if he can believe him or call him out on his crap. Rollins said that he respected Drew because, after Crown Jewel, Drew said he would work his way to another opportunity and he has done that. Rollins wondered what made Drew think that this time would be any different against Rollins. Rollins wanted to know if that meant Drew was willing to lie, cheat and hurt people while taking shortcuts.
Rollins said that Drew still wants to point the finger at everybody else. Rollins said that Drew needed to take responsibility for his actions. Rollins wanted Drew to look himself in the mirror and face the hard reality that the only person keeping Drew from being a World Champion is Drew himself. Rollins said that last week he told a man (hey CM Punk) he hated him and he meant it. Rollins said he didn’t hate Drew, but Rollins said he pities him. Rollins wished Drew a Merry Christmas and he’ll see him in a couple of weeks. Drew went for an attack, Rollins was ready for it and Rollins superkick Drew out of the ring. Rollins hit a suicide dive. Drew hit a headbutt. Drew punched Rollins while saying he didn’t need his pity. Drew gave Rollins a reverse Alabama Slam face first onto the steel steps. Rollins was selling a left arm injury. Drew left a fallen Rollins, who was selling the left arm injury.
Analysis: That was an excellent promo segment with both guys making a lot of great points. Drew explained why he needed to win to justify spending all this time wrestling while Rollins made it clear that while he respected Drew, he also said he pitied Drew. That’s the line that set Drew off leading to the cheap attack as Drew went back to heelish ways yet again. I think they’ll have an awesome match at Day 1 in two weeks, but it would be a surprise if Rollins lost the title before WrestleMania 40 at this point.
The Creed Brothers – Julius & Brutus Creed – were standing backstage looking ready ahead of their match. Cody Rhodes walked up thanking them for having his back last week. They said no problem and Cody wished them the best in their match.
Kofi Claus aka Kofi Kingston walked out to ringside and tossed merchandise into the crowd. Ludwig Kaiser and Giovanni Vinci ran out to ringside to attack Kofi from behind. Vinci gave Kofi a belly-to-back suplex. Barret: “It’s not Santa, it’s Kofi Kingston.” Shocking. Jey Uso made the save. Jey cleaned house on Kaiser & Vinci with punches for both guys. Jey cleared the ring and Jey hit a dive over the top onto both guys on the floor. They went to break there. Jey picked up Kofi Claus and Jey challenged Kaiser to a match.
Analysis: That set up a match for after the break. Simple enough.
Jey Uso vs. Ludwig Kaiser (w/Giovanni Vinci)
Kaiser hit a shoulder tackle. Jey came back with punches while the fans chanted “YEET” for them. Jey charged right into a clothesline from Kaiser. Kaiser sent Jey into the ropes leading to a back elbow. Jey came back with punches, but Kaiser whipped Jey hard into the turnbuckle. Kaiser set up Jey against the ropes leading to Vinci delivering a cheap shot punch. Kaiser knocked Jey out of the ring followed by a running uppercut on the floor.
Jey got some momentum going leading to an enziguri kick to the head. Jey worked over Kaiser with punches, then a kick to the gut, a spinning kick and a running hip attack against the turnbuckle for two. Kaiser did an eye gouge followed by a rolling senton for two, so Barrett called it a Kaiser Roll. Well played. Jey countered a move leading to a superkick. Jey went up top, the referee was looking at Kaiser, so Vinci shoved Jey off the top. Kaiser hit an enziguri kick for two. Kofi Clause was back out at ringside and hit a Trouble in Paradise kick on Vinci. Jey ran the ropes leading to a Spear. Jey went up top and hit an Uso Splash on Kaiser for the pinfall win after 11 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Jey Uso
Analysis: *** A solid match to give Jey a singles win. It made sense for Kofi Kingston to take out Vinci on the floor after the interference. Kaiser losing is typical for him in most singles matches. I think that win by Jey could mean that he’s going to be a challenger for GUNTHER’s Intercontinental Title. That could be an incredible match if it happens.
Jey Uso and Kofi Kingston celebrated the win with Jey doing his up/down arm motion with the fans.
The Undisputed WWE Tag Team Title match was up next after a break.
The Judgment Day was shown in the locker room with the guys in the group laughing about JD McDonagh losing to R-Truth. Rhea Ripley said that the loss reflects all of them. Priest wanted to kick JD out of the group. JD said please don’t kick me out of the group. Priest said JD is still in the group. Rhea Ripley said she’s going to face Ivy Nile at Day 1 Raw and put her Women’s World Title on the line too. Balor said don’t worry because they will show why they are the WWE Tag Team Champions. Ripley shoved JD down while Ripley walked with Finn & Priest.
Analysis: Sorry to R-Truth, but JD McDonagh is still in The Judgment Day.
Here’s what is coming on the Day 1 WWE Raw on January 1st in two weeks:
* Becky Lynch vs. Nia Jax
* Natalya & Tegan Nox vs. Shayna Baszler & Zoey Stark
* Women’s World Championship: Rhea Ripley (c) vs. Ivy Nile
* World Heavyweight Championship: Seth “Freakin” Rollins (c) vs. Drew McIntyre
Analysis: The Rollins-McIntyre match should be outstanding. I thought they would set up even more matches going into Day 1, but it’s still a good lineup.
The entrances took place for the main event with The Creed Brothers up first followed by the champions from The Judgment Day.
Undisputed WWE Tag Team Championships: The Judgment Day – Finn Balor & Damian Priest (w/Rhea Ripley) vs. The Creed Brothers – Julius & Brutus Creed (w/Ivy Nile)
Julius did a couple of waistlock takedowns on Balor. Julius did a hiptoss and arm drag. Brutus went into the ring when Priest got into the ring, so Brutus clotheslined Priest out of the ring.
The Creeds did a double team takedown on Balor. Brutus delivered knees to Balor, Julius tagged in with knees and Julius did a stomach breaker to Balor. Priest made a blind tag and pulled the ropes down, so Julius went over the top to the floor. Priest clotheslined Julius on the floor. Priest whipped Julius into the steel steps. Balor sent Julius into the turnbuckle, but Julius broke free. Brutus tagged in with a trip on Balor leading to forearm smashes. Brutus hit a gutwrench suplex on Balor along with a running splash. Brutus had Balor on his shoulders leading to a Samoan Drop style move for two. Priest tagged in while Brutus was holding Balor and Priest kicked Brutus. Balor sent Brutus out of the ring. Priest hit a running Pounce on Brutus on the floor so Brutus went bumping over the commentary table.
Priest was in control against Brutus with about five minutes left in the show. Priest went for a spin kick, but Brutus caught Priest and Brutus hit a belly-to-back suplex. Julius tagged in against Balor with Julius hitting forearms along with three belly-to-belly suplexes. Julius hit a standing Shooting Star Press for two. Brutus went up top, but Priest shoved him down. Balor got a sunset flip for two. Balor & Julius ran the ropes leading to a double clothesline. Ripley tried an attack on Nile on the floor, but Nile slammed Ripley into the apron. Brutus got the tag, Julius had Balor on his shoulders and Brutus hit a Brutus Ball off the top for a two count because Priest made the save. Julius dropkicked Priest out of the ring. Julius jumped up top and hit an incredible somersault dive onto Priest on the floor! Wow. Balor hit Slingblade on Brutus in the ring. Balor dropped Brutus into the turnbuckle. Balor was up top, Julius jumped up top and Priest tagged in for his team. Brutus knocked Balor down on the turnbuckle. Julius lifted Priest on his shoulders and Brutus hit a Brutus ball on Priest as Balor made the save with the Coup de Gras double foot stomp on Julius’ back. I’m not sure if Julius was legal for his team, but they acted like it was. All four guys were down selling. The fans were chanting “holy shit” for them. Brutus tackled Balor out of the ring. Priest hit the South of Heaven Chokeslam. Priest did a slow cover for the one…two…and three even though it looked like Julius got his shoulder up. Maybe the shoulder being up was right after the pin. It went 16 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: The Judgment Day – Finn Balor & Damian Priest
Analysis: ***3/4 I thought it was an impressive performance from the challengers. The Creeds stood out with one of the best matches I’ve seen them have. Trust me on that considering I reviewed all of their NXT matches over the last couple of years as well. Julius got to show off a lot of his athleticism in this match and the fans reacted strongly to it. It was full of nearfalls to make it as dramatic as possible for the finish. I’m not surprised by Balor & Priest winning. I’d love to see The Creed Brothers as the next champions, but there’s no rush on it considering how young they are. Since Julius kicked out right after a three count, perhaps it was a way to show that it was a close finish, so perhaps we’ll see a rematch soon.
Right after the pin, Damian Priest had a frustrated look on his face. I’m not sure if he was selling the idea that it was a tough match (I think that’s what it was) or maybe Julius didn’t do something right.
Finn Balor went into the ring with Damian Priest, who tossed Julius out of the ring. Balor & Priest celebrated with their titles while Ripley was in there supporting her buddies. Priest & Balor continued to celebrate. That was the end of the show.
Analysis: The Judgment Day was all over Raw this year, so I guess the final Raw of the year should end with The Judgment Day as well.
Three Stars of the Show
- Gunther and The Miz
- Kayden Carter & Katana Chance for winning the Women’s Tag Team Titles
- Finn Balor & Damian Priest and The Creed Brothers
8 out of 10
Last week: 7.5
2023 Average: 7.42
Final Thoughts on WWE Raw
I thought it was an excellent show for the second time in three weeks. Two weeks ago I went 8.5 out of 10 and this week it’s an 8. Raw was very good in December because some incredible matches got plenty of time and that always helps.
The match quality was strong all night with the IC Title and Tag Team Title matches standing out. Gunther is so amazing while Miz held his own for sure. They told a nice story with Gunther selling the hand injury and Miz came close a few times before Gunther put him away. It was one of Miz’s best singles matches ever while Gunther continued to impress. The Creed Brothers did an incredible job in their match against Balor & Priest. I thought a title change was certainly possible, but Balor & Priest were able to retain. The Creeds are still fairly new on the main roster, but as long as they have matches like that, they are going to win over the fans. Shoutout to Kayden Carter & Katana Chance for winning the Women’s Tag Team Titles. They are proof that hard work pays off.
There were some strong promos as well with Seth Rollins-Drew McIntyre once again while Becky Lynch-Nia Jax did a nice job of building their match too. I’m not clamoring for Nia Jax matches, but Lynch has made it more interesting, that’s for sure. They have a good lineup set for Day 1 Raw in two weeks. There was no CM Punk on this show, so hopefully he’s back for that episode too.
That’s all for new Raw episodes in 2023 since Christmas Day is some sort of “best of” type of show. A strong year overall. I believe my average score for this year is the highest of any year I’ve reviewed this show going back to when I started in 2009. Just saying.
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