WWE had a clear goal with the most recent edition of Monday Night Raw, and that goal was to set the course for the Tables Ladders and Chairs pay-per-view coming up on Dec. 13 in Boston.
In my eyes, that goal was accomplished, and WWE accomplished it by putting the proverbial rubber to the road on a number of storylines that will culminate at the final pay-per-view of 2015.
Did it make for a program that helped WWE gain some much-needed momentum? Not so much.
Although WWE planted the seeds for numerous stories, it did so by using a number of the same people in multiple segments throughout the night. While I will never complain about seeing The New Day in three segments, it did, however, make the show feel a little repetitive. For example, I believe we saw Sheamus' entrance three times during the course of the program.
To be fair, WWE is rather limited in the talent it has at its disposal, as a sizeable chunk of its active roster is out nursing injuries and its biggest star, John Cena, is taking time off to film a reality television show.
I'd like to believe the show would have a different flow if WWE had Cena, Cesaro, Randy Orton and even Daniel Bryan healthy and available. Which makes its lack of use of Kevin Owens on this show even more puzzling.
Instead of using the same people over and over again, use a guy like Owens, who is one of the best talkers on the roster and is, oh by the way, the Intercontinental champion.
It is up to WWE to figure out a way to make the show less repetitive throughout the night given these unfortunate and unforeseen circumstances.
With that said, here are the full match results from Raw, which took place at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh:
- Dolph Ziggler def. Tyler Breeze
- Ryback def. Rusev via count out
- The Dudley Boyz & Tommy Dreamer vs. Luke Harper, Erick Rowan and Braun Strowman ends in a no-contest
- Alberto Del Rio def. Goldust
- The Usos vs. The Lucha Dragons ends in double disqualification
- Sasha Banks def. Brie Bella
- WWE World Heavyweight championship – Roman Reigns def. Sheamus via disqualification
- Charlotte def. Becky Lynch
- Sheamus, Rusev, King Barrett, Alberto Del Rio & The New Day def. Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose & The Usos
Introducing The League of Nations
In most circumstances, a faction consisting of Sheamus, Rusev, Alberto Del Rio and King Barrett would be a considered a nice mid-card act. That's not an indictment on their talent. That's just being an avid watcher of WWE television over the last five years where by none of these guys have found permanent homes in the main-event scene.
They're typically pushed to a main-event spot when needed and when they are no longer needed, they are cycled back down to rule the mid-card roost.
But with the injury bug biting WWE hard in the rear end, it had no choice but to make these four men the top heel group in the company, especially since Sheamus is the current WWE World Heavyweight champion.
Although I thought the addition of Del Rio came out of left field given his affiliation with Zeb Colter and the so-called MexAmerica, I think the group overall has potential of doing some pretty memorable things as long as WWE knows how to handle it.
For Monday night, anyway, WWE did just that by having them look strong at the end of the night after taking out Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose and The Usos.
The running theme throughout the show was that Reigns was going to be given a shot at Sheamus for the WWE title shot before TLC, but with many caveats. Reigns had to beat Sheamus in under five minutes and 15 seconds since that was apparently that's how long Reigns' title reign was a Survivor Series before Sheamus cashed in the Money in the Bank contract on him to end.
However, if Reigns lost then he wouldn't his title shot at TLC. Also, Ambrose and The Usos would not get their respective title shots as well.
Not only WWE sort of give away its next pay-per-view main event, it also weaseled its way out of the stipulation by having Reigns win by disqualification. Although Reigns didn't win the title, he technically didn't lose the match, which meant Ambrose and The Usos kept their title opportunities.
This eventually led to an eight-man tag team match, which was changed to a 7-on-4 handicap when The New Day were inserted to stack the deck against the babyfaces.
The heel friends took advantage of that stacked deck and laid out Reigns and his buddies. This would have all made for a great Survivor Series angle, but that is now two weeks in the past.
Tommy Dreamer stops by to help The Dudley Boyz
The pleasant surprise of the night went to Tommy Dreamer, who was summoned by The Dudley Boyz to help ward off The Wyatt Family.
The Dudley Boyz took great offense to The Wyatt Family getting the upper hand on them twice last week and wanted to put all four members of the family through tables with their names literally on it.
The Dudley Boyz came prepared to be outnumbered as they called upon former Extreme Championship Wrestling brethren Dreamer to help out.
This led to a six-man tag that ended with a no-contest. This looks like it will lead to tables match at TLC, but will Dreamer stick around long enough to take part in that match? Also, will The Dudley Boyz even the odds at some point and if so with who?
As far Monday night, Dreamer got a great reaction from the Pittsburgh fans and still looked good in the ring. Dreamer told philly.com in early November that he still wrestles on the independent on a regular basis and he still wrestles for his House of Hardcore promotion as well.
Lana and Rusev are reunited and it feels so good
Peaches and Herb ain't got nothing Rusev and Lana, as the latter duo finally resumed their on-screen relationship/romance Monday night.
I must say that this was a welcome happening for me. I was never a fan of breaking the pair up to begin with. They simply work so well together as an act that it never made all that much sense to break them up.
Despite the senseless breakup and the awful love quadrangle that followed, the lone positive we did get out of the split was the comedic side to Rusev's character, which is something he did not have when he and Lana were going strong through 2014 and the first half of 2015.
I don't think Rusev should be a comedic character, but I would like it if he used his comedic timing on a selective basis. Rusev's character isn't one that possesses a lot of depth. Quite frankly, it doesn't need a whole lot, but his sense of humor is a piece to his character that I actually like.
The one aspect I'm not so sure about is this softer side to Rusev, which was showcased during his match with Ryback. After Lana was inadvertently hit in the leg by the steel steps, Rusev opted to help her instead of getting back into the ring before the 10-count.
I don't know how that's supposed to make him a bigger heel, but it looked like it may set up the dubious stairs match at TLC. Hopefully, I'm wrong about that.
From a storytelling standpoint, I applaud WWE for actually explaining how Rusev and Lana got back together. I probably shouldn't give too much credit for filling a plot hole that needed to be filled in, but this is WWE, and quality storytelling isn't always its strong suit.
I could definitely see WWE simply throwing the pair back together without any explanation from anyone involved, but used a Miz TV segment to do so.
Charlotte shows Becky Lynch 'tough love'
With her Hall-of-Fame father at ringside, Charlotte played possum by feigning an injury and used a timely distraction by Ric Flair to roll up her friend Becky Lynch for a victory Monday night.
While Lynch took offense to Charlotte's underhanded tactic, Ric Flair pumped his fist with joy, as the so-called "Dirtiest Player in the Game" saw his daughter use a bit of a dirty trick of her own.
After the match, Lynch confronted Charlotte backstage about the tactic. Charlotte told Lynch that it was merely a lesson in tough love and that Lynch needed that lesson because they're in the big leagues now.
Charlotte assured Lynch that they're still friends and they did whole pinky swear gimmick to symbolize their friendship.
I'm not a fan of the overly used distraction roll up finish, but it worked here, as it was a subtle hint to a heel turn from Charlotte.
Although her heel turn is coming out of left field, I think it's the right move for Charlotte as she doesn't seem all that comfortable in the clean-cut babyface role. Her best run in NXT was when she was a dominant heel champion. She seemed much more comfortable in that role and for the first I can remember, she seemed comfortable with the dialogue she was given this past Monday night.
I also like Ric Flair's part in this as well, since he made a career out of being the top heel in wrestling that took pride in cheating. He can be Charlotte's mentor when it comes to ways to take shortcuts to gain victories.
50/50 booking strikes Tyler Breeze
One of the biggest issues standing in the way of WWE making anyone seem special is the 50/50 booking tactic it uses in almost every storyline.
If someone is in a feud in WWE, it is almost a certainty that said person will trade wins back and forth with their opponent, thus making everyone look like an 8-8 football team.
The entire mid-card has fell victim to it and then WWE wonders why none of those mid-carders over enough to take seriously in the main-event scene.
WWE's latest victim with the 50/50 booking philosophy is Tyler Breeze, as he lost to Dolph Ziggler Monday night. Yes, the same Ziggler he defeated at Survivor Series a little more than a week ago.
And because of that, Breeze simply looks and feels like everyone else on the roster. He doesn't even get to do his entrance on television anymore, which is one of the best parts of his act. It's part of the reason why people like him so much.
This doesn't mean Breeze's career is over. It just mean that whatever momentum he had has been quelled for seemingly no reason other than WWE has no idea how to create more than viable star at a time.
Right now, the creative focus is all on Reigns, which is why he rarely loses.