Will Seth Rollins and AOP continue the rampage they started all the way into 2020? Sure seems like Kevin Owens and Samoa Joe are counting on it. The two Superstars, each of whom ended up on the wrong end of a beatdown from The Architect and his collective last week, seemed more than willing to throw down at the start of the final Raw of 2019, with Owens even going so far as to call out Rollins, Akam & Rezar for some “fireworks.”
KO was also looking for some retribution on behalf of Rey Mysterio, who was similarly ambushed in a way that may have contributed to Mysterio’s United States Title loss to Andrade at a WWE Live Event. Rollins reiterated his belief that his alliance with AOP was his way of becoming a “Messiah” who was sacrificing himself for the greater good, but Owens had little taste for talk. The former Universal Champion made a run at Rollins, only to be intercepted by Akam & Rezar on the ramp. Samoa Joe emerged to even the odds, fighting his way through AOP to ensnare Rollins in the Coquina Clutch, but AOP rallied to their boss’ side. Owens joined the fray with several wild steel chair strikes to the backs of Akam & Rezar, leading to a five-way brawl that even a full WWE security crew was barely able to stop.
A post-match interview with Joe and Owens seemed to confirm that the two had forged some sort of alliance to battle Rollins & AOP. They were escorted from the building with the promise that they had seven whole days to think of what they'd do next, which means that as 2020 draws ever closer, the question isn’t so much who will be left standing as whether any of them will.
Aleister Black and Buddy Murphy gave us an early holiday gift with a show-stealing brawl at WWE TLC. Now, as 2019 concludes, the pair graced us with a rematch that stood toe-to-toe with Round One and ended in similar, savage fashion, with Black claiming a quick-strike victory at the end of a long, grueling fight.
Murphy clearly did not let the first loss get to him. Even though he made it apparent last week that he wasn’t exactly sweating another go with The Dutch Destroyer, the Aussie wasted no time going strike-for-strike with his brooding opponent. (Murphy also tried to go a little dirtier than last time, nearly pinning Black with his feet on the ropes.)
Fighting on a tweaked knee certainly earned Murphy the respect of the audience — and, perhaps, from Black himself. When the former NXT Champion finally struck his opponent with Black Mass, he caught Murphy on his foot and picked him up for a second kick to the jaw, just to make sure Murphy didn’t get up. It’s a wrap on the rematch, but there are many shows yet to be stolen. If the 2020s are good to us, we will get nothing less than 100 more of these.
Erick Rowan didn’t get an invite to Lana and Bobby Lashley’s wedding, but that doesn’t mean that he wasn’t in a festive mood — or, at least, as festive as he tends to get. Rowan happily demolished another local competitor, though at least this one, a Connecticut product named Kip Stevens, knew better than to get near that mysterious pen. Unfortunately, his caution led him straight into the path of Rowan, who scooped his opponent into the ring, slammed him about for a bit, and pinned him with the Iron Claw.
Charlotte Flair had quite the night in Hartford, earning a victory and making an announcement. Each may send their own unique shockwaves down The Road to WrestleMania. The Queen became the first Superstar to declare for a Royal Rumble Match and followed up by earning a bruising, open-challenge victory over Natalya to set herself up as the woman to watch en route to The Showcase of the Immortals.
As the Raw commentary team noted, the Royal Rumble Match is one of the few accolades Charlotte has not yet amassed, but based on her effort against Natalya, it’s looking like she may rectify the situation next month. Despite running into a tough challenge from an opponent she had no time to prepare for, Charlotte grinded out the win down the stretch, finally submitting The Queen of Harts with the Figure-Eight. (She even kicked Eric Young in the head when the chase for the 24/7 Championship briefly interrupted the match.) Just like that, the Women’s Royal Rumble Match has its first contender, and The Road to WrestleMania has its first victory.
Becky Lynch has made no secret that her status as WWE’s “golden goose” was what prevented the higher-ups from granting her a match with Asuka. Ironically, it’s that same status that ended up getting her the bout after all. With her contract coming up, Lynch opted for some hardball tactics, forcing management to grant her a bout with The Empress of Tomorrow as a precondition for any negotiations.
Lo and behold, that bit of bargaining did the trick, and Lynch will defend her title against Asuka at the Royal Rumble pay-per-view in a bout she needs to balance out her win-loss record as well as the last remaining bit of self-doubt in her soul. Of course, Asuka submitted Lynch at the 2019 Royal Rumble event, and even with a history-making run between then and now, Becky admittedly isn’t any more confident that she can overcome her last looming loss. But as she said on Raw, she’s planning on wiping that record clean, even if it kills her.
The O.C. came to Raw with one case to make: That thanks to a pair of wins over The Viking Raiders, they should be next in line for a Raw Tag Team Title Match. If not for The Street Profits, they might have left Raw having made that case. After reminding the good brothers that they defeated Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson on their Raw debut, Montez Ford & Angelo Dawkins repeated the feat, handing Gallows & Anderson a loss that surely complicates one team’s claim to a title match even as it bolsters another.
Surely helping the Profits’ cause was the fact that AJ Styles was ejected from ringside after some light interference. Losing “Uncle Allen” left The O.C. without their usual numbers advantage, and they had a tougher time putting their foes away as a result. Ford threw himself to the wind to close out the match, breaking up a Magic Killer and taking out Gallows with a plancha to the outside that left Anderson alone in the ring. Dawkins pounced with a spinebuster, and Ford put the finishing touch on the bout, swooping down with a gorgeous Frog Splash to secure the victory.
Now, when it comes to a title opportunity, The O.C. find themselves at a disadvantage for the first time in a long time, and their status as potential challengers up for debate ... along with, just perhaps, their claim to The Best Tag Team in the World.
Drew McIntyre walked into the 2010s with the weight of destiny on his shoulders and never quite got there. But if this past year — these last two weeks in particular — are any indication, the former “Chosen One” will accept nothing less in the 2020s than the complete and utter fulfillment of the so-called prophecy that followed him into WWE.
Consider the emphasis with which McIntyre took care of Zack Ryder & Curt Hawkins, a tag team whose members cast a wide shadow on the decade in their own right. Ryder’s Internet and social media exploits laid the groundwork for much of what you see today, but he and Hawkins have been little more than punching bags for the former NXT Champion these last two weeks. Even tonight, a 2-on-1 advantage did little to hold off McIntyre, who bulldozed Hawkins with a Claymore following a New Year’s-style countdown, hit Ryder with the Future Shock DDT and pinned both men by stacking them atop each other. If this trend holds, the New Year is going to be very, very kind to this man.
Last night at a WWE Live Event in Hershey, Penn., Randy Orton suffered an apparent injury that cut his match short and sent The Viper for a medical evaluation. Tonight, the 13-time World Champion came down the ramp on crutches and had to be helped into the ring. It was surely a dire sign before Orton was scheduled to address the injury and “his future” — a future, we soon learned, that was far clearer than he was letting on.
While Orton couldn’t quite get out the words to reveal the results of his MRI, he did say that he was set to be out “for a very long time,” and there was even a chance he wouldn’t make it back to the ring at all. All he would commit to is making sure “somebody gets RKO’d at WrestleMania,” and right on cue, AJ Styles showed up to poke the bear. Seemingly cleared to provoke Orton at will at least until WrestleMania, The Phenomenal One made good on his opportunity, pestering his rival with schoolyard taunts and kicking his crutch out from under him, all with the promise to eventually put Orton in the Calf Crusher at WrestleMania and retire him.
Being that he was a “patient man,” Styles was more than willing to wait until WrestleMania for any further shenanigans, but as Orton admitted, he wasn’t. The Viper lashed out with an RKO, quickly revealing that his knee was just fine, and AJ Styles has plenty more to look forward to before WrestleMania even gets close.
Andrade is the new United States Champion, and he is feeling himself in a major way. Fresh off dethroning Rey Mysterio at a WWE Live Event on Dec. 26, the newly-christened titleholder wasted no time flexing his muscles against a hapless local and a not-so-hapless former U.S. Champion.
The local was a poor soul who went all but unnamed and was set to be Hammerlock DDT’d into the exposed concrete — the same move that put Humberto Carrillo out of action — until Ricochet chased the champ away and offered himself as Andrade’s opponent instead. The new titleholder accepted and ultimately prevailed, though the former United States Champion certainly made it much more interesting for the braggadocious titleholder.
For one, Ricochet stayed in the fight even after finding himself backdropped onto that same exposed concrete, revving up down the stretch to escape the Hammerlock DDT and position Andrade for the 630. But Zelina Vega paid dividends as ever, shoving Ricochet off the turnbuckle while the ref was tending to a dazed Andrade, allowing the champ to finally hit the Hammerlock DDT and escape with the win. Suffice it to say, Zelina and Andrade have worked out the bugs in their partnership, and Rey Mysterio has his work cut out for him next week.
You know those parts of weddings where they ask you to speak now or forever hold your peace? Bobby Lashley and Lana had a bunch of those at their wedding, ranging from the expected to the very, very, very unexpected when Liv Morgan showed up to bring the ceremony to a halt.
For a while, the wedding proceeded as expected. Nobody had apparently accepted the invites, and Lashley walked down the aisle in a sleeveless tux. Lana yelled at the audience when they kept chanting “Rusev Day,” declared this was the happiest day of Lashley’s life and revealed she’d written the groom’s vows. And then, the officiant got to the part where any man or woman (this will be important in a minute) with just cause could speak up, and things got interesting. First was Lana’s first husband, who was swiftly dispatched by Lashley. Next was Lashley’s first wife, who caught a bouquet to the face from The Ravishing Russian. And then, after the increasingly harried officiant asked for a third time whether anybody objected, Liv Morgan reappeared.
The returning Superstar, who’d only been glimpsed in vignettes over the past few weeks, tearfully claimed she couldn’t allow the wedding to go on and that she wouldn’t have gotten through the last year without the person who became the “love of her life.” Lashley was confused since he’d never laid a hand on Liv Morgan. Oh no, she retorted; she wasn’t there for Lashley. She was there for Lana.
With Lashley and the priest both speechless, Liv pleaded with a teary-eyed Lana to stop the wedding, and The Ravishing Russian decked Morgan, raining down punches in what quickly became a brawl until a WWE crew pulled Liv off of Lana. And then, when it looked like the wedding might finally happen, the giant cake separated to reveal Rusev, who absolutely obliterated Lashley while Lana watched. Liv roared back and rubbed her apparently estranged love’s face in the wedding cake. Suffice it to say, the wedding of the decade lived up to its name. What awaits in 2020? If tonight is any indication, it could literally be anything.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Aleister Black defeated Buddy Murphy (15:40)
- Erick Rowan defeated Kip Stevens (1:45)
- Charlotte Flair defeated Natalya (14:10)
- The Street Profits (Angelo Dawkins & Montez Ford) defeated The O.C. (Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows) (w/ AJ Styles) (11:40)
- Drew McIntyre defeated Curt Hawkins & Zack Ryder in a Two on One Handicap Match (0:50)
- Andrade (w/ Zelina Vega) vs. Shawn Donavan ended in a No Contest
- Andrade (w/ Zelina Vega) defeated Ricochet (11:15)
Other on-screen talent