The WWE was in the full holiday spirit on the most recent edition of Monday Night Raw, and the company was in a given mood.
The company gave us a solid show that featured a stellar Intercontinental Championship match, but it also gave us some questionable booking decisions, especially in the main event.
Before we dive into the show, let's run through the full match results that took place at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minn.:
- John Cena def. Seth Rollins
- Fandango def. Jack Swagger
- R-Truth def. Adam Rose
- Roman Reigns def. Big Show via count out
- Natalya def. Brie Bella
- Los Matadores & El Torito def. Goldust & Stardust
- WWE Intercontinental Championship – Dolph Ziggler def. Luke Harper
- Alicia Fox, Emma & Naomi def. Cameron, Paige & Summer Rae
- The Miz def. Jey Uso
- Miracle on 34th Street Fight - Bray Wyatt def. Dean Ambrose
With that out of the way, let's dig into my full observations of Monday Night Raw:
Dean Ambrose can't buy a big win
I guess Dean Ambrose is bulletproof, or that's how the WWE sees him at least.
That's because Ambrose has yet to win a big match since the breakup of The Shield. Both Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins have signature wins to their credit, but despite having the most over character among the three, Ambrose has yet gain a big win.
If this was a part of a bigger storyline like what happened with Sami Zayn in NXT, then I wouldn't mind because it would eventually lead to him gaining a big win.
Maybe Ambrose will eventually get that win, but will it be too late? Will it be past the point where people will care about whether Ambose wins or loses? It's possible.
Technically speaking, he's lost every match in his current feud with Bray Wyatt. At Survivor Series he got himself disqualified, at TLC he was pinned and this past Monday night he was pinned again.
The way he's lost all of these big matches has left a lot to be desired as well.
I know pro wrestling has pre-determined outcomes where the winners and losers don't matter that much, but to a certain extent they do.
Why do kids love John Cena? It's not because of his charitable work and his positive message. Kids don't think that in-depth. They like Cena mostly because he wins a lot more than he loses.
Ambrose has garnered a connection with the fans. Unfortunately, he's not the guy the WWE has chosen to be the future top star of the company. That's clearly Reigns.
But that doesn't mean he has to be a utility mid-carder that is the stepping-stone for greener pastures, which is seemingly his role in this feud with Wyatt.
Maybe, if you make more than one guy look like the top guy, you would have more top guys at your disposal. It's called depth and the WWE had it once upon a time.
It doesn't have it today and it's not doing anything in the way of creating it.
By the way, a Miracle on 34th Street Fight ... in Minnesota?
Dolph Ziggler, Luke Harper steal the show again
For whatever reason, the WWE didn't learn its lesson from TLC.
That's because Dolph Ziggler and Luke Harper stole the show in the middle of the card. They did it to open the show at TLC and left a lot of people thinking that it should have closed the show.
But in their infinite wisdom, the WWE slid them into the middle of the show. Once again, it deserved to be in the main event.
Regardless of its placement on the card, the match was great. And once again, the commentary team talked glowingly about Ziggler and the Intercontinental Championship.
I'm not sure where this will end up, but Ziggler is in the midst of the most serious push of his career. Even as World Heavyweight Champion, Ziggler was not showcased to this extent.
My only issue is where does this all lead to? It's like the WWE has placed a glass ceiling over top of him because the spot he could ascend to will eventually be occupied by Reigns.
Being the Intercontinental Champion is cool, and stealing the show in the middle of the card is great, but the real money and the real accolades come from being in the main event scene.
Not a fan of Roman Reigns-Big Show finish
The WWE has clearly made quite the effort of protecting Roman Reigns. Like CM Punk said, the company wants to make sure he looks strong at all times.
But I'm not sure a count out win over Big Show will do that.
Conventional wisdom would say that the finish Monday sets up a rematch between the two at the Royal Rumble, where we should see a decisive conclusion to the match. But then why have the match on Raw in the first place? What's the point?
You don't set up a pay-per-view match by giving it away four weeks in advance. It makes the pay-per-view match feel less special.
It lends credence to fans' complaints that pay-per-view far to often feel like Sunday Night Raw. That's because the cards are full of matches we've seen for weeks leading up to the event.
Hulk Hogan's attraction has been sucked dry
Vince McMahon said on Steve Austin's podcast that the reason why we don't Sting and Brock Lesnar on television that often is because the attraction needs to remain in tact.
I guess that rule doesn't apply to Hulk Hogan.
Despite the fact that Hogan is one of the most recognizable wrestlers in history, the WWE has managed to make an appearance of his feel like yesterday's news.
When Hogan shows up, it means little to nothing. He showed up for almost the entire month of October to promote the WWE's fight against breast cancer. That's a commendable cause, but you can't send Hogan out there every single week. It's not like the ratings are going to shoot up because of him. There wasn't anyone else that could have done that?
On Monday, he was dressed up as Santa Claus. Really? At least Roddy Piper got to do Piper's Pit. Meanwhile, Hogan is in a costume.
In case you weren't tired of seeing Hogan, you'll see him again on Smackown sans the Santa Clause outfit.
John Cena takes down Seth Rollins… again
For the third time in two weeks, John Cena and Seth Rollins went at it.
The match was good, but the result was predictable: Cena pinning Rollins in the middle of the ring.
I understand that Cena has to look strong heading into his match against Brock Lesnar, but does it have to come at the expense of Rollins?
However, I do think Rollins can recover from all of this. He's a very good heal with a ton of in-ring ability, but this does him no favors at all. And if he goes up against Randy Orton some time soon, I don't expect him to come out of that smelling like roses either.
Roddy Piper gives Rusev a Christmas gift
As I mentioned earlier, Roddy Piper hosted an edition of Piper's Pit and had Rusev and Lana as his guests.
The banter between the two parties was okay, but the best part was when Piper gave Rusev a gift. It was a big gift.
In fact, it was the big guy Ryback, who's suddenly the No. 1 contender for the United States Championship, and came out with a big red bow on his chest, just like Piper promised.
I'm digging this Ryback-Rusev feud so far and the potential it has once they actually meet in the ring. Ryback has a ton of charisma and can generate a response from almost any crowd. Combine that with Rusev and Lana's ability to draw heat and you have a winning recipe, in my opinion.
Ryback is definitely the most over superstar Rusev has faced during his run of dominance.
Alicia Fox breaks out cool finishing move
There wasn't anything of note during the big Divas tag team match until the end when Alicia Fox broke out this new finishing move of hers.
It's unique and it looks very, very painful. I like it much better than the Booker T ax kick she had been using.