The final Raw of 2014 nearly went from reeking of awesomeness to reeking of roadkill when WWE World Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman interrupted the return of Christian and Edge (sporting a Sami Zayn shirt, no less) as Raw's tandem guest hosts. Heyman cut off the announcement of a “Peep Show”/"Cutting Edge" crossover (and subsequent Five-Second Pose) to gloat over what he called The Anomaly's “impending victory” over John Cena at the Royal Rumble. Cena arrived in the nick of time to run interference and did so in impressive fashion, suckering The Conqueror in by threatening Heyman and nearly Attitude Adjusting The Beast into 2015. But the champion and advocate both retreated, leaving the 15-time World Champion's chances for the Royal Rumble looking dire indeed.
It's too bad, brother, but Dolph Ziggler's Champion vs. Champion victory over U.S. Champion Rusev came via a grim technicality when The Super Athlete's overt aggression toward the Intercontinental Champion prompted the referee to throw the match out. With a rivalry that extends to the halls of WWE NXT, the two titleholders — battling tonight thanks to the decree of Raw Guest Hosts Edge & Christian — had been trapped in a deadlock thanks to Ziggler's speedy evasion of the Russian brute's power maneuvers.
The Showoff flitted around Rusev and took his shots where he could. The stick and move rankled Rusev so much that he eventually gave up on beating Ziggler and simply beat him up, pummeling him into a corner past the five count before trapping The Showoff in a rope-assisted variation of the Accolade. The severity of the attack brought out Ryback, who came to his Survivor Series teammate's rescue and chased off The Hero of the Russian Federation. Afterward, he delivered an emotional address to the WWE Universe about his origins as "The Silverback" Ryan Reeves and Skip Sheffield, the struggles that nearly ended his career, and the mentality that fuels him in his current battle with Rusev.
Clearly The Miz isn't the only WWE competitor who's targeted an enemy's spouse to get into their head: Nikki Bella's been subtly tweaking Natalya via several suspect interactions with Tyson Kidd, and The Queen of Harts seems to have had enough. That is, at least, judging by the way that Natalya took it to Nikki at the start of their match, pummeling her off the apron ... and straight into Kidd's arms. While the former WWE Tag Team Champion seemed more befuddled than anything that a Diva had fallen into his arms, Natalya was flustered to the point of defeat, as Nikki took advantage of her confusion and administered the Rack Attack for the win.
No, you haven't gone Uso Crazy: The WWE Universe's favorite twin whirligigs are tag team champions again, thanks to an inspired effort against The Miz & Damien Mizdow that returned the championships to the Slammy Award-winning duo's waists. Ironically enough, Miz has only himself to blame for the loss; his refusal to tag in Damien Mizdow ended up being the difference-maker against The Usos, who worked in perfect tandem for the entirety of the contest. And Jimmy Uso, who Miz had tried to unman by consorting with his wife Naomi, wrestled a near-perfect finale when it came down to him and Miz, countering Miz's Figure-Four into Tequila Sunrise and ultimately uniting with Jey for a double-superkick that set up the match (and title)-winning splash.
Having been publicly called out and dared to grab the brass ring plainly hasn't sat well with Cesaro. Unfortunately for The Swiss Superman, his open challenge to the WWE locker room ended in some (wait for it) bad news in capital letters. A returning Bad News Barrett spoiled The King of Swing's moment in the spotlight and proceeded to rub salt in the wound from there. Despite a furious performance between the former U.S. Champion Cesaro that included a five-rotation Cesaro Swing, Barrett pulled out the win with a rake to the eyes and a Bull Hammer to Cesaro's head. God Save the Queen, and God help the WWE roster.
A mysterious dispatch from Luke Harper clued the WWE Universe in to the twisted prism through which the former Intercontinental Champion views the world. The first victim of his tour of retribution was Jack Swagger, a Superstar tailor-made to battle the hulking Harper in one-on-one action. The result was a rousing success for Harper and yet another disappointment for the former World Heavyweight Champion Swagger, who was mauled into the defensive by a series of thrusts to the throat before Harper went about systematically dismantling him. A last-second rally with the Patriot Lock left Harper prone for a Swagger Bomb, but Harper countered the attack with boots to the face and a tremendous discus clothesline to take The Real American off his feet for the three-count.
Is a win a win if one is unconscious at the time of winning? It's a fair question to pose to Roman Reigns, who technically “beat” Seth Rollins on Raw in a match orchestrated by Edge & Christian. That's only because Big Show got up from commentary to take out the 2014 Superstar of the Year before Reigns could put Mr. Money in the Bank away, though. Picking up their rivalry from where it left off in September, Reigns and Rollins whaled on each other with months of pent-up frustration (understandably so), but it was Reigns who ultimately pulled ahead with a Superman Punch after a rapid-fire back and forth with Rollins. Before The Big Dog could follow up with the Spear, however, Show tripped him up and hurled him headfirst over the commentary table, burying Reigns in a pile of plunder.
Dust off those foam fingers, WWE Universe, because Daniel Bryan is coming back. Having teased a career-defining announcement before Raw went on the air, many in the WWE Universe speculated that the same neck injury that forced Bryan to vacate the WWE World Heavyweight Title would now force him to hang up his boots. What a surprise they got, then, when Bryan reached that make-or-break moment when he had to decide whether he could continue, he realized the answer was, well, yes. Not only will The Beard return, but Bryan also officially declared his entry into the 2015 Royal Rumble Match, potentially marking his official march toward The Grandest Stage of Them All, WrestleMania 31. Let's try this again.
It's likely The Miz thought he'd get some kind of consolation prize from Edge & Christian after his and Damien Mizdow's tag title loss to The Usos. What The Awesome One got instead, after demanding another match from Raw's guest hosts, was a one-way trip to the wasteland, courtesy of The Ascension. A pair of golems out of NXT named Konnor and Viktor, the much-hyped prospects made an impact and then some in their first Raw match. Miz, who was stingy with his tags in the title match against The Usos, tagged Mizdow in within the first two seconds and sat back as The Ascension went to work, dismantling Mizdow before putting him down with their tag-team signature maneuver: the Fall of Man.
What should have been a celebration for Edge, Christian and the WWE Universe turned into a nightmare of the highest order. Seth Rollins seized the ultimate opportunity on “The Cutting Edge Peep Show” and exploited the neck injury that ended Edge's career to force John Cena to do the unthinkable. With the assistance of Big Show and J&J Security, Rollins incapacitated Christian and threatened to administer a potentially life-endangering Curb Stomp to Edge unless Cena caved in and reinstated The Authority. Having no choice, Cena made the sacrifice for his former rival and agreed to bring Triple H & Stephanie McMahon back to power. The couple made their return then and there, watching with glee after Rollins gave Cena the beating he'd intended for Edge and raising a glass to 2015 in WWE. It was a development, it must be said, that sat quite well with Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman, who celebrated Cena's destruction alongside The Authority atop the ramp. Here's to 2015 ...
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Dolph Ziggler defeated Rusev (w/ Lana) by disqualification (10:10)
- Nikki Bella (w/ Brie Bella) defeated Natalya (w/ Tyson Kidd) (1:06)
- The Usos (Jimmy & Jey Uso) defeated The Miz & Damien Mizdow to win the WWE Tag Team Champions (13:03)
- Bad News Barrett defeated Cesaro (3:37)
- Luke Harper defeated Jack Swagger (9:44)
- Roman Reigns defeated Seth Rollins (w/ J&J Security) (Jamie Noble & Joey Mercury) by disqualification (16:14)
- The Ascension (Viktor & Konnor) defeated The Miz & Damien Mizdow (1:17)
Other on-screen talent