WWE Raw results, recap, grades: Seth Rollins completes heel turn, women's TLC match set
Raw's go-home show ahead of TLC featured some big developments
The Seth Rollins heel turn that has been teased for weeks came full circle on Monday night's edition of WWE Raw with Rollins officially aligning himself with AOP. That wasn't the only big news coming out of the go-home show to WWE's final pay-per-view of 2019, however.
Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair, again the victims of brutal attacks by the Kabuki Warriors, will challenge the women's tag champs in a tables, ladders and chairs match Sunday at the aptly named TLC event. Both matches are trying to wrap up some extended storylines that have played out on Raw, which continues to differentiate itself from SmackDown on Friday nights.
Let's take a look at how the action went down in Raw's go-home show ahead of TLC.
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Rollins officially turns heel, joins forces with AOP
Kevin Owens, fists taped and ready for a fight, was interviewed backstage, claiming AOP attacked him last week because Seth Rollins told them to. Owens said he was lucky to get away last week -- but he did get away, and would now go looking for AOP. Instead of AOP, Owens ran into Rey Mysterio, who offered to have Owens' back. When Owens turned down the offer, Mysterio clarified his meaning, handing Owens his lead pipe, which Owens happily accepted. As he hunted through the backstage area, Mojo Rawley "assisted" by repeatedly suggesting AOP had gone different directions, leading Owens to slap him before walking off, something that would come into play later in the first hour of the show.
Following the match between the Viking Raiders and Street Prophets, Rollins hit the ring and offered the teams to stay in the ring to hear what he had to say -- which all four men declined. Rollins said he wanted to settle things with the AOP, challenging them to a match before Owens walked to the ring. Owens said he knows they're not in the building and told Rollins to let him know when they were coming so he could be the victim of a three-on-one attack, which Rollins denied was the plan as AOP arrived in a car backstage. Rollins said the only way to prove to Owens that he was not in league with AOP was for him to leave, which he did before AOP were shown on the Tron. Then, Sami Zayn's music hit and he announced he had secured a managerial license, allowing him to move between brands and he brought Rawley to the ring, where they demanded an apology, leading Owens to hit a Stunner and then lay into Rawley with the pipe to end the segment.
Owens continued his hunt for AOP, eventually busting up their van in the backstage area before being jumped from behind by the team, who slammed the door into his head. Seth Rollins then emerged from the van, confirming himself as in league with AOP. He hit a curb stomp on the concrete before the three walked off together. After the commercial break, Rollins re-entered the arena to explain the crowd had turned on him despite doing everything wrong, not taking nights off and always laying it all on the line for the fans. Now sick of the disrespect, Rollins said he was telling the truth last week when he claimed to not be working with AOP. Because the fans jumped to Owens' side on the claims, and again earlier in the evening when he still said they weren't working together, the fan negativity became a self-fulfilling prophecy, turning him to stand with the AOP.
The reveal of Seth Rollins in the van, spinning in the chair with the hood over his face and slowly lifting his face was as good of a shot as WWE TV has featured this year. And, all credit to Rollins for delivering a tremendous promo explaining his actions -- even if it seems he isn't being totally honest about the timeline of his partnership with AOP. The strength of the whole story may be that Owens was not fooled, he did not look stupid, he simply could not handle the odds when push came to shove ... and stomp. This was a story that ran through almost the entire show while being solid the whole way through. Grade: A
Lynch and Flair decide to team up
A video from earlier in the evening aired with Charlotte Flair confronting Becky Lynch in the locker room. Flair said that, despite their past issues, she wanted to give Lynch the chance to be "Becky Two Belts" again by teaming together against the Kabuki Warriors. Lynch declined due to having issues with not only the Kabuki Warriors, but also Flair, saying instead she'd face the tag champs in a handicap match as Flair had last week.
Becky Lynch def. Kabuki Warriors via disqualification: Lynch controlled much of the match despite it being a two-on-one against the tag champions. Eventually a chair was brought into play for the DQ before Sane drove Lynch through a table with an elbow from the top rope to ringside. Lynch was in the trainer's room after the match when Flair confronted her yet again, leading Lynch to agree to team up. As Flair left the room, she was attacked and laid out by Asuka and Sane. Lynch and Flair later accepted the Kabuki Warrior challenge, saying they wanted to up the ante and make it a tables, ladders and chairs match.
If there's any complaint to be had, it's that these handicap match situations weaken the image of the tag champs. The team that holds the belts representing themselves as the best team should not struggle against a single opponent, no matter how big a star someone like Lynch may be. But that's a personal pet peeve and everyone pulled their weight well through the show, so those complaints can only go so far. Plus, that elbow drop was a thing of beauty. Grade: B
What else happened on WWE Raw?
- The show opened with a table in the center of the ring and Jerry Lawler ready to preside over the official termination of the marriage of Rusev and Lana. Rusev, wearing a Daffy Duck t-shirt under a blazer for added effect, was in fine spirits as he entered the ring. Lana told Rusev she wanted him to know she used to love him, even with the WWE universe hated him. She then said Rusev's fame and success went to his head and made him another celebrity statistic. Before signing the divorce papers, Rusev had one demand: a match with Bobby Lashley. Lashley entered and announced his intentions to marry Lana at the completion of the divorce, something Rusev claimed to be perfectly happy with. Lashley, of course, attacked Rusev, smashing him into the ringside barricade repeatedly. Rusev turned the tables, however, eventually putting Lashley through the table which had been set up in the ring with a belly-to-belly suplex. It was later announced the two would meet in a tables match at TLC.
- Drew McIntyre def. Matt Hardy via pinfall after a Claymore Kick. McIntyre took shots at Hardy's new child and his past poor life choices. McIntyre gave Hardy the "opportunity" to leave rather than have the match, leading hardy to immediately go on the attack. An overly emotional Hardy eventually fell victim to the Future Shock DDT and the Claymore Kick for the finish.
- WWE Raw Tag Team Championship -- The Viking Raiders (c) def. Street Prophets via pinfall to retain the titles: The Viking Raiders issued a challenge to any team willing to face them for the Raw tag team championships, a challenge accepted by the Street Prophets, who quickly took the initiative and almost scored a pinfall victory just moments into the match. The Viking Experience on Ford allowed the Raiders to retain their titles over the fan favorites. The teams traded respectful forearm smashes after the match and as Seth Rollins' music hit.
- Aleister Black def. Akira Tozawa via pinfall after Black Mass. This was a hard-hitting match that could have been a great TV match given more time. The highlight was a Black jumping knee to the face of Tozawa as the Japanese star attempted a suicide dive. That was the beginning of the end for Tozawa as a Black Mass finished him off.
- Humberto Carrillo def. Andrade via pinfall with a roll-up. Carrillo was being interviewed backstage when he was confronted by Andrade, who shoved him while yelling in Spanish, leading to a match after the commercial break. Andrade lost for the first time since coming to Raw in an absolutely fantastic match between two men who have incredible chemistry together. After the match, Andrade and Zelina Vega argued in the ring due to his collision with her leading to the pinfall. If there's one thing you go out of your way to see from this edition of Raw, make it this match.
- Buddy Murphy def. Zack Ryder via pinfall with Murphy's Law: Murphy got a fairly quick win to match Black's earlier win as they head toward a newly-announced showdown at TLC.
- Erick Rowan def. Tracer X via stoppage: Tracer X in the role of indie talent brought in for the squash showed some smarts, stealing the covered cage of Rowan and running up the entrance ramp. He left it at the top of the ramp and ran back to the ring through the crowd, trying to get a win via count out as Rowan tended to it. Rowan beat the count and hit multiple iron claw slams until the match was stopped, all the while yelling about how Tracer had attempted to hurt someone he loved by stealing the cage.
- WWE United States Championship -- Rey Mysterio (c) def. A.J. Styles via pinfall to retain the title with an inside cradle. Styles cut a backstage promo with The O.C., calling them the best tag team in the world and promising he would regain the United States title while his brothers would eventually come for the tag belts held by the Viking Raiders. They also threatened to end Randy Orton's career should he involve himself in their business again. It took very little time in the match before Gallows and Anderson came to ringside, Gallows eventually putting himself in harms way to prevent Mysterio from hitting the 619. The interference brought out Orton to lay out The O.C. on the outside, distracting Styles and allowing Mysterio to get the small package pin for the victory.
Adam Silverstein nailed the winners of the men's and women's Royal Rumbles twice.
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