TLC was the final PPV of the year and it’s fair to say it had its ups and downs (you can read Bradley Tiernan’s full review here). There’s not much pre-advertised for tonight’s show, just a vague query about whether anyone can stop Seth Rollins and AOP, and a match between Randy Orton and AJ Styles. I think most of us would just like an update on Kairi Sane. She tweeted a thumbs-up earlier, but some official news would be nice.
I’m Amanda and this is the RAW review.
The OC def. The Viking Raiders
Erick Rowan def. Dante Leon
Akira Tozawa def. R-Truth > Ricochet def. Akira Tozawa > Ricochet def. Matt Hardy > Humberto Carrillo def. Ricochet > Humberto Carrillo vs Andrade never officially started
Asuka def. Deonna Purrazzo
Randy Orton def. AJ Styles
♦ After a recap of Seth Rollins throwing all his toys out of the pram and joining forces with AOP, Rollins opened the show. The first thing he did was bring out AOP, describing them as the first 2 men who have chosen to live on the right side of history. Rollins talked about everyone referring to him as the future, right from his debut to just recently. Then suddenly the mood changed and people started to question his leadership. He explained the difficult decisions that leadership requires and how it meant what he did to Kevin Owens was Owens’ fault for resisting. Rollins is a leader and a visionary who is going to lead the brand into the next decade and beyond whether anyone likes it or not. He will impose his will and if he meets resistance then AOP will enforce his will.
Tonight he has to make an unpopular decision. He has a score to settle and the WWE Universe won’t like it. For what they are going to do, he’s sorry. Then they left.
♦ The Viking Raiders vs The OC was a TLC rematch. Gallows and Anderson had a lot to say on their way to the ring. They objected to The Viking Raiders using ‘dangerous and risky dives’ to avoid losing their titles. Good match but Ivar waited way too long before delivering a moonsault to Karl Anderson. Long enough for him to punch Gallows off the apron and Gallows to recover enough to pull Anderson out of the ring. Before Ivar could regroup, Anderson kicked and Erik off the apron and Ivar took a Magic Killer and got pinned. It was a non-title match, so expect them to get a title shot soon.
♦ Sarah Schreiber tried to find out what Erick Rowan carries in the cage. He asked her if she had family, someone she’d do anything to protect, then told her to mind her business.
♦ AJ Styles celebrated backstage with Gallows and Anderson. He asked them to let him take care of Randy Orton alone tonight and promised to destroy him.
♦ Erick Rowan vs Dante Leon was another silly skit where the local competitor ran away then inexplicably tried to look in the cage before being destroyed. Bored now.
♦ There will be a gauntlet match to decide Rey Mysterios’ next US Championship challenger. Ricochet, Andrade, Humbert Carrillo, Akira Tozawa, R-Truth, and Matt Hardy will compete for the number one contender’s position.
Andrade and Zelina Vega got angry with Charly Caruso for suggesting that Humberto Carrillo might be favoured over him in the gauntlet match because he’s beaten him twice. They apparently take Carrillo seriously now, which will be bad news for him when they decide to even the score.
♦ There was a vignette for Liv Morgan where she talked about having let her friends tell her who to be and how to dress. All she’s ever wanted is to be comfortable in her own skin and now she has to destroy herself to let the real her out. For no obvious reason, this required her to be in the bath. It is to be continued.
♦ Lana and Bobby Lashley had a celebration after Lashley defeated Rusev at TLC. She brought an engagement ring for herself and asked him to propose. He did. She revealed she’d made him rehearse it when she responded. I had hoped this terrible storyline might be over soon, but it’s just getting more cringeworthy.
♦ R-Truth vs Akira Tozawa started the gauntlet match, but not until R-Truth had a few moments to speak. 24/7 rules were suspended for as long as R-Truth was in the match. That didn’t turn out to be long. Tozawa pinned him and R-Truth was run off by the chasing pack.
Akira Tozawa vs Ricochet was up next, and it was good. Fast-paced and energy-sapping considering one of them potentially had three more opponents to face. As it turned out, that was Ricochet, who finished Tozawa with a Recoil. Matt Hardy’s music hit as soon as the pin was counted.
Ricochet vs Matt Hardy was another tough match for Ricochet, and for Hardy. There were close calls on both sides, with Hardy’s best chance coming from a Side Effect. Ricochet finished the match with a roll-up after avoiding the Twist of Fate, but it took a few moments before there was an official announcement which made it feel a bit odd.
Ricochet vs Humberto Carrillo was match four. Ricochet, on his third match, tried to finish it quickly to conserve whatever energy he had left. Carrillo avoided that fate and took full advantage of being the fresh man. It was fairly obvious what was going to happen as soon as the match order was clear. It was always going to be Carrillo and Andrade as the final 2. But before we got to that, we got to see how much fun a Ricochet vs Carrillo feud could be. Zelina Vega came to watch the match from the stage, but she stayed there and didn’t interfere. The end came via an Humberto Carrillo moonsault.
Humberto Carrillo vs Andrade never officially started. Andrade attacked Carrillo from behind while Carrillo was focused on Vega. After he’d beaten Carrillo down a bit Andrade threw him out of the ring and peeled back some of the matting at ringside. He hurled Carrillo into the barricade then delivered a hammerlock DDT on the concrete. Rey Mysterio came down to protect Carrillo from any more punishment so Andrade and Vega walked away.
A very unsatisfying non-conclusion to the gauntlet.
After a break, Carrillo was being wheeled out on a stretcher when Rollins’ music started up. Rollins and AOP arrived with Rollins holding the steel pipe Mysterio gave to Kevin Owens last week. Mysterio attacked AOP instead of waiting for the assault and they put him down. Rollins told him they were just there to return his property and dropped it next to Mysterio on the mat. When Rey Mysterio tried to take it, he got another beating from AOP after which Rollins told him it didn’t have to be this way. Rollins said that was the end of it, and Mysterio owed him one for leaving it there, then turned around and Stomped him anyway.
Backstage, Seth Rollins told Charly Caruso he attacked Rey Mysterio because he leads by example. He said he had a score to settle and he settled it. The only reason he didn’t leave Mysterio in a hospital bed is because he wouldn’t be able to answer his challenge that way. Rollins wants a one on one US Championship match next week.
Rey Mysterio later accepted the challenge. That’s fine, but it makes the entire gauntlet match pointless.
♦ Asuka vs Deonna Purrazzo was a surprise after last night. Kairi Sane accompanying her to the ring was good to see. Deonna Purrazzo on RAW was also a nice surprise. She got an intro video and a full entrance (listed as an NXT superstar), and she wasn’t there to make up the numbers. She started things off by kicking Asuka in the face. Asuka rolled out of the ring to regroup during the break. Once the match had officially started, Asuka made her pay and it took a long time before Purrazzo got anything else in. Even when she did it was short-lived. Deonna Purrazzo tapped out to the Asuka Lock.
♦ Becky Lynch had a sit-down interview immediately after Asuka’s match. Charly Caruso asked how she was handling the loss. Lynch said she hasn’t been herself for the last few months. She’s realised that the powers that be aren’t trying to bury her, they’re are trying to protect her from facing Asuka one on one by putting her in the tag division, because they don’t think she can win. Maybe they’re right but she didn’t come this far to be protected. The Championship says she’s the best, but as a champion, she thinks Asuka is the best in the world right now.
Lynch sent a message to Asuka that she usually says her opponents need her, but she needs Asuka. Up until now, she can admit Asuka has had her number and she needs to face her to prove something to herself.
♦ Randy Orton vs AJ Styles main evented the show. It was decent. Orton tried and failed to go for an early RKO and spent a long time in a calf crusher without tapping. When Orton took a break on the outside, Styles followed him and took the damaged leg from under him. After a break, Styles had a target limb and he worked it hard. Randy Orton resorted to a thumb in Styles’ eye to give himself a moment’s break, and a powerslam to give himself a bit more. Every time Orton tried to do anything, the injury to the knee was obvious, and Styles kept returning to it. Styles managed to drag Orton down from the top turnbuckle and another chop block put him down for Styles’ moonsault, but it was only worth two. Orton resisted the Styles Clash and delivered a draping DDT, but he was slow going for the RKO and had to get himself out of another calf crusher.
The end came when AJ Styles went for a Phenomenal Forearm. He’d faked it out once because he saw Orton was waiting to deliver an RKO, but he went for it the second time and Randy Orton was still ready. The RKO put AJ Styles down for the win.
Gallows and Anderson ran down to beat up Randy Orton after the match and The Viking Raiders ran down to stop them. They did save Orton, but Ivar was pitched out of the ring and Erik took a Magic Killer.
Taken as a whole, this was a bit of a nothing episode and a slog to get through. TLC didn’t end any major storylines (more’s the pity) and there is nothing exciting and new happening to prep for Royal Rumble just yet. We’re heading into Christmas and New Year, which is often a limbo period in WWE, so we’ve just got to wait it out.