Monday Night Raw – December 26, 2022 (Best Of 2022)
By Thomas Hall on 26th December 2022
Monday Night Raw
Date: December 26, 2022
Hosts: Jackie Redmond, Corey Graves
It’s the final show of the year and for the first time in a long time, we’re having a Best Of special. That should make for a pretty easy night, but there are also several things to pick from this week. WWE probably put about 18 seconds of thought into this, but it’s nice to have a bit of a week off for once. Let’s get to it.
Note that I’ll be including the full versions of the matches/segments rather than the edited versions broadcast here.
The Street Profits are in a white room, with Montez Ford saying he doesn’t think this is Gorilla. Angelo Dawkins uses his psychic powers to turn the walls into a Profits video. They realize they can make anything (PG at least) appear on the screen so we start with a look at various returns. Ford gets a little too excited over the hype videos so we slow things down a bit.
Our hosts welcome us to the show and send us to our first match.
WWE Universal Title: Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar
Reigns is defending in a Last Man Standing match…..and Lesnar rides to the ring in a tractor. Lesnar cuts off Paul Heyman’s entrance and does his own, while standing in the….whatever you call the part of a tractor that holds stuff. Lesnar dives out of the tractor to start and Reigns is knocked outside, setting up a big overhead belly to belly. They fight over to the lighting structure and knock each other into it, with Lesnar getting the better of things again.
A German suplex sends Reigns flying again so it’s table time. Heyman begs enough for a distraction, allowing Reigns to Samoan drop Lesnar through the table. Reigns puts him through another table and takes it back inside for a pair of Superman Punches. The spear keeps Lesnar down for a bit but a second attempt is countered into a failed F5 attempt. Reigns gets sent outside in a heap so Lesnar goes to the tractor.
With that going nowhere, he hits Reigns in the head with a piece of the table for about six. Lesnar throws Reigns into the bucket of the tractor, raises him up, and then drops him down into the ring. With that not working, Lesnar rolls some German suplexes and hits an F5 for nine. Another F5 is countered into a guillotine, which Lesnar reverses into one of his own. Reigns is mostly out but dives back to the ropes to break the count at nine.
Lesnar gets back in the tractor….and starts ramming the ring. Then he lifts the ring up to send Reigns sprawling out onto the floor but here are the Usos for the save. Lesnar dispatches them so Heyman tries to call it off, only to get F5’ed through the announcers’ table (they’ve been teasing that for a LONG time). Reigns is back up with a spear and they’re both down…so here is Theory to cash in.
A briefcase shot drops Reigns but Lesnar F5’s Theory onto the briefcase. The Usos are back up with a double superkick for nine, followed by a spear for nine more. Reigns unloads with the briefcase for nine more, followed by a belt shot, but Lesnar gets up again. A shot with the other belt knocks Lesnar down and the Bloodline piles a bunch of stuff onto him before standing on top of it to retain at 22:44.
Rating: B-. This is going to be the really divisive match of the night and that isn’t a surprise. They did a lot of stuff and the match was a total spectacle, but they lost me at the end with Reigns knocking him down for nine over and over. It’s a good example of a match that needed to be trimmed down by a few minutes to hammer the point home better. At the same time, I’m sure the fans on the other side of the ring loved looking up at the video screen, because those front row tickets are pretty worthless when the ring is halfway on its side for the last seven minutes of the match.
The other problem here is simple: who in the world is supposed to be able to stop Reigns? Drew McIntyre is the next big challenger, but is that their solution? McIntyre has already had his time and while you can’t really gauge things from the pandemic, I don’t know how much of a success it was. Reigns has cleared out the company by this point, and they are going to need something special to get the title off of him, whenever they finally do it.
We get a long video tribute to John Cena.
From Raw, June 27.
Here is Vince McMahon to introduce John Cena, who comes through a tunnel of adoring stars. With Vince gone, Cena says this is a milestone, which he rarely likes to celebrate because he is always looking forward. However, tonight he has been looking back at what he has done and he couldn’t do it without these people. Cena has been allowed to do this for two decades and that is because of the fans.
The people have been honest enough to tell him when he sucks and kind enough to tell him when he doesn’t. Cena has been waiting for that right moment and this feels like that right moment. We get a THANK YOU CENA chant and he says his heart is beating out of his chest. Cena thanks the fans for moments like that one and for making him who he is. He has always said WWE prepared him for anything and he doesn’t mean Fast and the Furious or Peacemaker.
WWE has made him a better human being, person and husband. Spending moments with the families he has spent time with today has taught him empathy and kindness. The fans have taught him humility and perseverance and every time he gets in the ring, he gives everything he has because these fans give him everything they have. This isn’t about a last name but about people coming together and he’s 45 years old. He doesn’t know when you’ll see him again, though he isn’t saying it isn’t happening. Fans: “ONE MORE MATCH!” Cena: “It ain’t just gonna be one. Don’t worry about that.”
It isn’t about him but about us. If you like something, tell the people. If you see something that sucks, tell the people. Cena thanks the people and asks Laredo to show what kind of noise they can make. Some catchphrases wrap us up. Cena didn’t say much here, but it felt a lot more real than some of the things he usually says. Good stuff, even if it didn’t mean a great deal.
We take a very fast look at Steve Austin returning to a*action at Wrestlemania and beating up Kevin Owens in the main event of night one. This gets maybe two minutes for the setup and match.
We look at Sami Zayn vs. Johnny Knoxville in the Jackass match at Wrestlemania. Not my thing, but dang that crowd reaction was impossible to deny.
Zayn joins us to ask why you would show that. He’s not hurt but disappointed, though it doesn’t matter as we have enough Bloodline stuff to make it work.
We get a sitdown interview with New Day, who praise the NXT tag team division. After talking about the origins of New Day, we hear about the importance of their feud with the Usos. Kofi Kingston talks about how they have a lot of quirks, but they have found their way to what they are now. Over their years though, they have fought the Usos many times as their paths keep crossing.
From Smackdown, November 11.
Tag Team Titles: New Day vs. Usos
The Usos are defending and they’re starting big here. Jey, with his hand taped, starts with Woods and they stare each other down a bit. Woods grabs a headlock as we hear about the histories between the teams. Kofi springboards in with a crossbody for two on Jey but it’s off to Jimmy with a right hand to the face. Everything breaks down and Kofi hits a Trust Fall onto both Usos as we take a break.
We come back with Jey hitting a suicide dive to send Kofi into the barricade and then whipping him into it again for a bonus. The fans want Sami, who is apparently missing due to a personal issue. We slow down a bit to Kofi being sent into the corner, setting up a wishbone leg split. A middle rope dropkick gets Kofi out of trouble though and Jey gets kicked away, only to have Jimmy pull Woods off the apron in a classic move. The pop up neckbreaker gives Jey two and we take a break.
Back again with Kofi fighting out of a chinlock and making the hot tag to Woods so house can be cleaned. Kofi hits a splash to set up a good looking Woods top rope legdrop for two. The Boom Drop connects on Jimmy but Jey makes a blind tag. That’s fine with Kofi who hits the SOS for two. Frustration is setting in as it’s off to Woods, who gets superkicked down to set up the double Superfly Splash. The 1D is broken up though and the Midnight Hour hits Jey on the floor.
Back in and a tornado DDT to Jimmy sets up the Midnight Hour for two as Jey makes a VERY last second save for two. The four of them stand up and slug it out with Woods being sent outside and superkicked over the barricade. That leaves Kofi to be sat up top where he goes old school with a double noggin knocker. Kofi tries a diving something, only to land in the 1D to retain the titles at 23:47.
Rating: A-. Yeah these guys are awesome together and this was no exception, as they had a long, pay per view quality tag match. I know it’s been done before and I’ve not been wild on seeing them fight again, but this should have been the final match to give the Usos the record. Unless there is some surprise Tag Team Title match on Monday (and there might be), New Day’s record has fallen and it happened after a great match.
Bianca Belair talks about her life starting from childhood, when she found out she was awesome in track. She started at the University of South Carolina but put too much pressure on herself and developed bulimia.
Belair joins us via satellite to talk about how much she loves Christmas and maybe she should make her own wrapping paper. We move on to how great her year has been, with so much of it leading to her Wrestlemania match with Becky Lynch.
Raw Women’s Title: Bianca Belair vs. Becky Lynch
Lynch is defending and gets a special intro (similar to the WWE TV intro as we look at moments from her career)….but Belair one ups her with the Texas Southern University marching band playing her to the ring. They both have special gear, with Lynch coming out in a kind of skirt/jacket combination and Belair in black and red with her top made to look like her lips logo. They both look like they’re on the big stage and it’s an awesome addition.
They both take the time to soak it in a bit but Lynch would rather punch than shake hands. The very early Manhandle Slam gets two and Lynch can’t believe the Summerslam plan didn’t work. Belair goes to the ropes to avoid the Disarm-Her so some covers give Lynch two. They trade rollups for two each and Lynch reverses a suplex into a DDT for two more. Belair tries….something but can’t get Lynch onto her shoulders so she switches to a rollup instead.
They head outside with Lynch slipping off the shoulders to send Belair into the steps to take over. Some Bexploders connect back inside and we hit the chinlock to slow things down a bit. With that broken up, Lynch switches to a cross armbreaker but Belair powers up and dumps her outside for the double crash. Back in and Belair drives some shoulders into the ribs in the corner, setting up a gutbuster for two. The handspring moonsault gets two more but Lynch catches her on top.
Belair gets creative with a Chicago Skyline of all things and a middle rope 450 gets another near fall. Lynch is back up with a Molly Go Round, with her feet hitting Belair in the face (OUCH) for two of her own. Belair is back with a spinebuster and a cradle but the kickout sends her into the corner.
The KOD is broken up but Belair KOD’s her to the floor. That doesn’t work for Belair so she tries to come back inside, only to have Lynch hit the Manhandle Slam onto the steps. Belair dives back in at nine and then kicks out at two, sending Lynch even further into hysteria. Another Bexploder is loaded up but Belair gets to the middle rope, moonsaults over Lynch, and hits the KOD for the pin and the title at 19:09.
Rating: B+. The action was good to great, but what mattered here was the feeling. This felt like the rise of a new champion, with Belair surviving what Lynch threw at her and then winning in the end, showing that she was the better woman when things were even. It came off like the Wrestlemania showdown with the special entrances and gear and I had a great time with the whole deal. Best thing on the show by a mile so far.
Post match Lynch falls out to the floor and collapses as Belair celebrates, giving us a great visual of the fallen former champion and the new queen.
Video on Gunther vs. Sheamus at Clash At The Castle.
Sheamus joins us from his house to talk about how important Christmas is for him. After a tour of his home bar, Sheamus talks about how the Brawling Brutes work well together because they have no egos. We hear about the Good Old Fashioned Donnybrook at Extreme Rules so you know where this is going.
From Extreme Rules.
Imperium vs. Brawling Brutes
This is a Good Old Fashioned Donnybrook, meaning street fight with some props at ringside. It’s a brawl to start, as it should be, with everyone pairing off in and around the ring. Kaiser is tied in the Tree of Woe for a running dropkick but the rest of Imperium comes over for the save. Everyone goes for the weapons and Sheamus is sent into various things at ringside.
With Kaiser and Vinci holding Sheamus over a bar, Gunther chops away and hits the big boot before dropping him onto said bar. Back in and it’s Butch and Holland getting beaten up, including the double running dropkick to Butch in the corner. As Imperium poses, Sheamus fights up and it’s time to wreck Gunther’s minions.
Gunther tells Sheamus to bring it and the slugout is on. A release German suplex drops Sheamus but he’s right back up with a clothesline. Holland and Butch are back up to help with the beating until everyone knocks each other down. The teams get up and fight to the floor, with Butch hitting a heck of a moonsault off some barrels.
Gunther is back up and hits the shillelagh shot for two Sheamus. The rest of the Brutes get back in and beat down Gunther, allowing Sheamus to hit a heck of a shillelagh shot to knock Gunther silly. Gunther gets powerbombed through the announcers’ table, leaving Kaiser to get Brogue Kicked for the pin at 17:42.
Rating: A-. The good old fashioned part was right as these guys didn’t bother with anything more than what was advertised. They beat each other up for about eighteen minutes and you could feel a lot of the pain and violence they were showing off here. Sheamus getting the win was the right way to go and he can probably have a final showdown with Gunther. This was what I was looking for from this match and they delivered hard.
Sami Zayn, wearing glasses and reading from the Bloodline Dictionary, talks about the greatness of the Bloodline.
We look at Drew McIntyre getting ready for Clash At The Castle.
McIntyre joins us to talk about how he is on the mend from a minor injury and can’t wait to be back. We hear about his match with Roman Reigns at Clash At The Castle.
Video on Karrion Kross vs. Drew McIntyre.
We look at various returns this year (and there have been a lot of them).
Cody Rhodes (whose return was not shown) talks about how much his return meant and how much he needed that kind of a reaction. We hear about his history with Seth Rollins, including the Cell match with the horrible pectoral injury. He feels he has paid his price and is ready to pick up where he left off. There is one thing that he came back for and he has made that clear (meaning the WWE Title). It’s still weird having Cody sound sane and not going all over the place whenever he talks.
From Hell In A Cell.
Cody Rhodes vs. Seth Rollins
Inside the Cell and Cody has a torn pectoral muscle. Rollins cranks up the evil by coming out in Dusty Rhodes polka dots but Cody’s chest steals the show, because it looks AWFUL, making him seem all the nuttier for being out there. Cody starts firing off the left hands and manages a Disaster Kick, setting up a not so great Cody Cutter. The Figure Four goes on but Rollins manages to reach underneath the ring and grab a tool box. That doesn’t work so it’s a kendo stick to the bad arm to break things up.
Rollins stabs him in the chest with the stick and then knocks Cody into the Cell. Cody manages a whip of his own but can barely follow up. The steps off the shoulder rocks Cody again so Rollins puts on Cody’s jacket. He also grabs the weightlifting belt to beat on Rhodes before setting up the table. The fans chant THANK YOU ROLLINS as he steps on the bad arm in the corner. Cody can’t powerbomb him through the table but he can avoid the frog splash through the table, leaving Rollins down.
With nothing else working, Rhodes pulls out a bullrope with a cowbell so Rollins is confused. Rhodes ties one end around his wrist and Rollins does the same, giving us an impromptu bullrope match. Cody takes him down and hits a superkick, setting up the cowbell to the head for two. Rollins gets in another shot and unhooks the rope, allowing him to set up a table. A one armed Cross Rhodes gives Cody a quick two but the arm gives out on a powerbomb attempt.
Rollins cranks on the arm and toss powerbombs Cody through the table for two. It’s sledgehammer time but Cody kicks it away and hits a Pedigree for two of his own. Cody grabs the hammer but gets caught with the Stomp for two more. Another Stomp is countered into Cross Rhodes from Rollins but Cody pops up and hits one of his own for the double knockdown. They both go for the hammer but Cody switches to back to back Cross Rhodes. Now Rhodes picks up the hammer and hits a running shot for the pin at 24:18.
Rating: B+. That’s on a heck of a sliding scale as Cody was almost literally fighting with one arm. Having him win, especially before he goes off for surgery that might have him missing all the way through the Rumble, is quite the choice. It might be a feel good moment, but Rollins is going to need some time to recover from that kind of a loss. Cody looked like an absolute star and points for an amazing effort, but that arm was about as gruesome as you could get and it was hard to watch at times.
Video on Liv Morgan’s rise to the top of the Smackdown women’s division, including a cameo from Morgan’s mom to talk about what wrestling meant to Liv as a kid.
Morgan joins us to talk about what it meant to her and how happy she has been. She is ready for anything and the best is yet to come.
We get a quick look at Ronda Rousey taking the Smackdown Women’s Title from Morgan at Extreme Rules.
Video on the rise of Judgment Day.
Video on the rise of Austin Theory.
We look at Bobby Lashley’s year, setting up his nearly getting fired, plus Seth Rolling beating him to get the US Title shot next week on Raw.
From Crown Jewel.
Undisputed WWE Universal Title: Roman Reigns vs. Logan Paul
Reigns, with Paul Heyman (for the sake of clarity, any mentions of “Paul” will mean Logan), is defending and powers Paul into the corner to start. Paul wrestles him down a few times and Reigns actually needs a breather on the floor. Back in and Paul tells him to stop running so Reigns hits an elbow to the face. Some rights and lefts to the ribs set up a hiptoss to Reigns, followed by a running clothesline to the floor. A diving clothesline off the barricade takes Reigns down again and it’s a Buckshot Lariat for two back inside.
Paul’s springboard is knocked out of the air and Heyman is right there with the big rah rah speech. The chinlock goes on for a bit, followed by the corner clotheslines. The jumping clothesline gives Reigns two and he grabs a one armed camel clutch. Paul fights up and hits a gutwrench suplex for a much needed double knockdown. A Blockbuster gives Paul two and he hits his own Superman Punch (which looked a lot more like a Shawn Michaels flying forearm) into a high crossbody.
The standing moonsault gets two and Heyman is stunned. Sweet Chin Music (complete with Tuning Up The Band) is countered into a release Rock Bottom for two. The Superman Punch is countered with a shot to the ribs and the big right hand, followed by the Superman Punch to give Paul two. They head outside with Logan putting him on the announcers’ table. Paul talks to his friends in the front row, with one of them giving him a camera as Paul goes up top.
The splash through the table (with camera in hand) connects but here are the Usos to beat up Paul’s friends. Cue Logan’s brother Jake (also Paul) to take the Usos out with a right hand each. Logan hits a frog splash for two and here is Solo Sikoa to go after Jake. Logan dives onto the Usos and goes back inside, where Reigns hits the Superman Punch. The spear retains the title at 24:45.
Rating: B+. They went too far with the run-ins and interferences, but this was GREAT for a celebrity match and I was having a very good time. I didn’t think for a second that they were going to change the title, but that isn’t the point of something like this. The match was all about Paul getting to blow people’s minds and it worked well. Very fun stuff here, as Logan absolutely has the talent to be a special attraction around here. This was highly entertaining (Jake Paul easily dispatching the Tag Team Champions aside) and far better than I would have expected.
The hosts wrap it up to end the show.
Overall Rating: B. I never know how to rate something like this so we’ll call this quite good and that’s about it. This show did what it advertised and covered a bunch of stuff throughout 2022 while also hyping up future major events. That was more than enough to make a three hour show interesting and they didn’t leave out anything overly important. We can move on to the important stuff this Friday and next Monday, but it was nice to have a one off, fun show that didn’t mean anything.
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