The Miz, John Morrison and AJ Styles Presented The Nightmare Before TLC
I, like most people, feared the worst when I saw this was announced for the show. WWE rarely does this type of stuff well, but I honestly got a kick out of it, like when Miz reenacted A Christmas Carol 10 years ago on Raw. It was pure silliness, sure, but it made me laugh at a few different points and I liked how it immediately segued into Styles vs. Sheamus. Miz has been cutting the same promos for weeks now, but I appreciated that this was at least something out of the ordinary. Plus, I'm a sucker for almost anything holiday-themed.
AJ Styles def. Sheamus
I believe 2016 was the last (and only other) time these two last went one-on-one on TV, so this was a fresh match. As well-wrestled as it was, I question Sheamus getting in as much offense as he did. Yes, Styles scored the victory as he should have, but it wasn't very decisive. I realize they want to protect Sheamus for when he eventually gets his shot at Drew McIntyre's WWE Championship, but Styles should have been booked more dominantly heading into TLC. The post-match attack on Sheamus was well done, though.
The Hurt Business (United States Champion Bobby Lashley, Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin) def. Jeff Hardy and Raw Tag Team Champions The New Day (Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods)
I'd rather Riddle and Hardy be utilized as singles stars, but this "Hardy Bros" team may actually have potential, not to mention that the Raw tag team division would benefit from having them around for a bit. This was a fun six-man tag team affair that received a ton of time and featured plenty of entertaining action. The heels going over was the right call with Alexander and Benjamin challenging for the Raw Tag Team Championship on Sunday.
Lana def. WWE Women's Tag Team Champion Nia Jax
I can't stress enough how little I care about this feud pitting Lana and Asuka against Jax and Shayna Baszler. This was supposed to be a big moment with Lana finally conquering Jax, but it was way too short to be anything of note and the finish felt like it came out of nowhere. Maybe its brevity was for the better, but whatever. On the bright side, the babyfaces overcoming the heels in the last two weeks must mean they aren't winning the WWE Women's Tag Team Championship at TLC. The belts are pointless either way, but Asuka and Lana are the wrong team to take the titles from them.
24/7 Champion R-Truth Interrupted Elias and Jaxson Ryker
This was basically an extension of the segment from last week's Main Event, which I was shocked they actually acknowledged. Ryker spoke this time and said that Elias understood him when everyone else didn't, or something along those lines. Like I said last week, Ryker is perfectly fine in this role, though I was subscribed to the belief that he wasn't coming back after being pulled from TV earlier this year. Maybe this is his last chance and if it doesn't work out then he's gone. Either way, it was a fairly straightforward segment that served its purpose in establishing the new act of Elias and Ryker. The 24/7 Championship goofs were just there to take the beating from Ryker.
The Miz and John Morrison def. Keith Lee in a 2-on-1 Handicap Match
What was the point of this? When has Lee ever had bad blood with Miz and Morrison? Who came away from this looking better than before? So many questions, so few answers. There wasn't anything technical wrong with this match from an in-ring standpoint, but it was difficult to get excited about. Miz and Morrison have lost so many Handicap matches in 2020 that I guess they were due a win eventually, but it's a shame that it came at the expense of Lee, who has been struggling to maintain momentum since coming to WWE's main roster.
Randy Orton Interrupted Bray Wyatt
I have no doubt that Orton vs. The Fiend will be one of the weaker matches on the TLC card, but I'd be lying if I said the build to the bout hasn't been compelling. I wasn't sure what to expect from this Firefly Fun House "field trip," but it ended up holding my interest. Orton also played his role well and the segment provided a nice hook for the remainder of the show. Wyatt sitting in his old rocking chair was a cool touch. Wyatt has gotten the better of Orton so often that it makes me wonder if Orton is beating The Fiend at TLC, which would absolutely be the wrong call.
Mace def. Ricochet
As I've said before, I was hoping that a Ricochet vs. RETRIBUTION feud could help both parties get back on track, but that has yet to be the case. In fact, I have the urge to change the channel whenever I see Ricochet in the ring with another member of the group. Dio Maddin isn't awful by any means and I guess it makes sense for him to be beating Ricochet given the size difference, but he didn't benefit much from it because Ricochet lacks credibility at this point. RETRIBUITON are still a band of losers and Ricochet is a loser himself, so how anyone can care about these matches is beyond me.
Dana Brooke def. WWE Women's Tag Team Champion Shayna Baszler by Disqualification
Jax and Baszler previously beat Brooke and Mandy Rose to retain the tag titles a few months ago, but it looks like WWE is going back to that feud because there aren't other other teams to go for the gold post-TLC. Speaking of Rose, she returned afterward by making the save for Brooke. Baszler vs. Brooke was total filler and merely existed to set up the post-match angle. Jax and Baszler attacked Lana and she had to be stretchered out, so does that mean she won't be wrestling at TLC? Isn't that what this whole storyline has been building to? I'm so confused.
Riddle def. MVP
Man, what a waste of time. I'm glad Riddle is a regular on Raw nowadays, but his "bro" material is downright deplorable and makes it hard to root for him. I don't have a problem with him and Hardy feuding with The Hurt Business, but this was a complete waste of time. MVP hasn't been positioned as anyone important in the ring since his return at the Royal Rumble, so while it wasn't egregious that it was so short, I wish it went a little longer to justify happening. I may not have been as bothered by it if there weren't already so many short matches on this show.
The Ascension Ceremony Ended with AJ Styles, The Miz and John Morrison Attacking WWE Champion Drew McIntyre
Remember the Ascension Ceremony from six years ago before TLC 2013 when WWE tried to make it a big deal but the crowd completely hijacked it by chanting for hometown hero Daniel Bryan the entire time? That was great. This wasn't remotely as memorable, though I did appreciate this last-ditch effort to get people to buy into Styles as a legitimate threat to the WWE Championship. I don't think it worked because it's obvious McIntyre is winning on Sunday, but the effort was there, nonetheless. The mic work from both men was great and I really wish WWE tried to make their match a bigger deal prior to this point. As of now, McIntyre vs. Styles is a total afterthought compared to the stuff McIntyre has going on with Sheamus.
The buildup to TLC has been weird. I truly think the card has potential on paper and I am looking forward to the event, but these Raw shows have been abysmal. That third hour was especially rough. There were so many matches I couldn't have given two craps about and that served zero purpose in the grand scheme of things. The WWE Championship picture has been heating up lately, but McIntyre vs. Styles has been unfortunately overshadowed. Orton and Wyatt have carried Raw in recent weeks and yet their match at TLC will likely be a dud. This show was going well for the first two or three segments but fell off a cliff after that. I feel like I say this every week, but while this wasn't the worst edition of Raw all year, it was totally skippable and didn't offer much of substance.