Sheamus and Keith Lee Interrupted WWE Champion Drew McIntyre; Lee def. Sheamus in a WWE Championship No. 1 Contender's Match
Tom Phillips and McIntyre starting Raw by saying, "It's Monday, you know what that means" as a tribute to the late, great Luke Harper was wonderful. The rest of the segment was good and further established tension between the three men. Lee and Sheamus had a hard-hitting affair and Lee winning was the right call. WWE should hold off on Sheamus vs. McIntyre until at least Royal Rumble, while we never got a definitive finish to McIntyre vs. Lee back in September. Their WWE Championship clash next week should rectify that.
Gran Metalik def. The Miz
It's official: Miz has hit rock bottom. I mean, why else would he lose to one-half of the former Lucha House Party? The only thing that would have made it worse was if it happened on an episode of Main Event. It's not like WWE has any plans to elevate Metalik and Lince Dorado, either. We've seen stuff like this from them time and time again and it never leads anywhere. WWE is clearly telling a story with Miz being frustrated, but all this angle is doing is telling viewers that Miz isn't someone to be taken seriously. Giving him back the Money in the Bank briefcase isn't going to solve that problem, either.
Shayna Baszler def. Dana Brooke
This was a rematch from last week when Brooke beat Baszler by disqualification following interference from Nia Jax. It wasn't exactly a match I needed to see again, but it did allow Baszler to win decisively this time. I'm also glad that the match was kept on the shorter side. Brooke was on offense for a bit, but Baszler picked up the win as she should have. Brooke and Mandy Rose should be out of contention for a WWE Women's Tag Team Championship shot at this point.
Alexa Bliss Challenged Randy Orton
I thought Bliss appearing in the playground in the ring was cool last week, and while it was cool again here, I hope they don't make it a regular thing because it will likely lose its luster quickly. At any rate, this was a solid segment that served as an effective hook for their face-off later in the night. I didn't love Orton basically exposing the Firefly Fun House as fake, but Bliss played her role well as always. This is the most compelling she's been as a character in ages.
AJ Styles def. Elias
I have no idea who viewers were supposed to root for here given that both guys were heels and neither came off as likable during that segment where the match was made official. Is this supposed to be leading to a mixed tag team match? Nonetheless, this was a quality contest. Elias has proven on countless occasions he can hang with WWE's top talent in the ring, yet the company doesn't seem to see him as anything more than a midcard act. Entering the Royal Rumble is probably what's next for Styles now that he's out of the WWE Championship picture.
Mustafa Ali def. Ricochet
These two ripped it up against each other the last time they went one-on-one and this encounter was equally entertaining. Ricochet has never meant less in his career, but at least he's still putting in the effort. Ali extended another invitation to him afterward to join RETRIBUTION, but Ricochet refused and hit Ali with the Recoil. In other words, there was no real progression in this program and it is doomed to continue. Ugh.
WWE Women's Tag Team Champion Charlotte Flair def. Nia Jax by Disqualification
This match stemmed from Flair wanting revenge for Jax putting her on the shelf (in storyline) six months ago. I'm glad they acknowledged that, but this wasn't a very exciting outing. For as much time as it was given, the non-finish was lame. This was largely designed to keep the feud alive between the two teams, and although I'm sure a rematch is coming, I have minimal interest in seeing it.
The Hurt Business (United States Champion Bobby Lashley, MVP and Raw Tag Team Champions Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin) def. Jeff Hardy, Riddle and The New Day (Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods)
As solid as the matches have been involving these eight men lately, I can totally understand fans getting bored of them. They've consistently delivered and this was another enjoyable encounter, but the booking has done the babyfaces no favors. This was seriously the fourth straight week that Lashley has tapped out Hardy. We get it, Lashley is superior to Hardy. If Hardy isn't turning heel, then I'm not sure why WWE is making it a point to tell viewers that he's a loser.
Alexa Bliss Threatened Randy Orton to Burn Her
If this is all we were going to get from this segment, then I wish they had just done it earlier in the evening when Orton originally interrupted Bliss. She's getting better with the delivery of her lines and I was among the few who didn't mind what WWE did at the end of TLC with Orton and The Fiend, but this was too silly for me because you knew Orton wasn't actually going to burn Bliss. The lights went out and the show went off the air before we could find out what Orton did, which I have to assume WWE did that to create a cliffhanger heading into next week's show. The Raw ratings are in the toilet, but this felt like a weak way to get to the next chapter of this story.
I can't be the only one disappointed WWE didn't do more to honor Jon Hober/Luke Harper/Brodie Lee on this show. The opening graphic was appreciated as well as some subtle mentions throughout the three hours, but a video package or a 10-bell salute would have been nice given the outpouring of positive messages there's been about him in the last 48 hours. I understand he worked for the rival promotion before his death, but that shouldn't matter. As for the show itself, Raw was slightly more bearable this week than usual, though that's not saying much. A handful of matches were well-wrestled and thus the three hours didn't drag terribly, but that doesn't change how there isn't a lot of stuff worth sinking your teeth into heading into the new year. The Royal Rumble is right around the corner and that's fun, but that just makes me fear that WWE will phone it in like they always do until the road to WrestleMania officially begins.