WWE Raw Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from December 16

Jonathan SnowdenCombat Sports Senior WriterDecember 16, 2013

WWE Raw Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from December 16

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    via WWE.com

    WWE is in a weird place. All too often the shows for which it asks fans to pay more than $50 disappoint in a major way. Fans walk away from the experience displeased, upset that the serialized storylines they hoped to see concluded continue on with no resolution in sight.

    That's the nature of the beast. WWE is a weekly soap opera. Dramatic and compelling events happen weekly—but, in the end, nothing really changes.

    Maybe that's why the Raws after a pay-per-view are so often a better viewing experience than the pay-per-view extravaganza itself. WWE isn't a "big fight" company. It's a television company. Weekly product, as it should be, is what it does best.

    This edition of Raw was no exception. From the great main event between Randy Orton and Daniel Bryan on down, this show delivered the goods. In the ring, where a pay-per-view is supposed to shine, Raw outperformed Tables, Ladders & Chairs from top to bottom.

    I've rated every major match and segment from A to F and added my own instant analysis. Disagree? Let me know in the comments.

Randy Orton Celebration

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    The McMahons gathered the entire locker room to pay tribute to new champion Randy Orton. But his coronation turned into an impromptu bit of matchmaking by John Cena, as Daniel Bryan was booked into a non-title match with Orton.


    Highlights and Quotes

    "Last night, we witnessed the dawning of a new era." —Triple H on Randy Orton's title win.

    Orton walked through a gauntlet of angry and envious superstars on his way to the ring.

    "Isn't it a nice feeling when your faith is rewarded? Then again, you didn't have faith in me in the first place." —Orton, chastising the crowd.

    "Where you stand is appropriate and where I stand is appropriate. Because I'm that much better than you." —Orton to the Superstars.

    "Face of the WWE, Apex Predator, Viper, Viper, Viper, Viper." —John Cena, with the CliffsNotes version of Orton's speech.

    "Yes, yes, yes!" —the crowd, unprompted, asking for Daniel Bryan.

    "One thing Steph and I always do is listen to the WWE Universe." —Triple H. Oh Hunter, you card!






    John Cena set it up, and the WWE Universe delivered right on cue. "Yes, yes, yes" is the new "What? what? what?" And it's about time. The sport needs a new hero. Why not Daniel Bryan?

The Rhodes Brothers vs. Big Show and Rey Mysterio

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    Rey Mysterio pinned Goldust with a splash off of Big Show's shoulders.


    Highlights and Quotes

    Rey Mysterio with a sliding splash onto Cody Rhodes. Cool spot.

    "Happy hour." —JBL, explaining when he performed high-flying acrobatics a la Rey Mysterio.

    Big Show's slap to Cody Rhodes makes the entire arena grimace.

    The crowd popped for a hot tag to Goldust. Tag team wrestling works, y'all.






    The babyface match is always a tricky proposition. For years, WWE avoided it all together. Bruno Sammartino and Hulk Hogan never wrestled fellow good guys. And for good reason. It eliminates much of the emotion and built-in narrative of a regular match between hero and villain.

    The same issues prevented this match from being truly great. Mechanically, it was excellent. Emotionally? That's where it failed to engage me completely.

Fandango vs. Dolph Ziggler

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    Before the match, "Bad News" Barrett told the fans they wouldn't win the lottery, and Stephanie McMahon talked some sense to Randy Orton.



    Ziggler rolled up Fandango out of nowhere for the win.


    Highlights and Quotes

    "Over half a billion dollars is at stake this weekend in the lottery. However, I'm afraid I've got some bad news. Because none of you will be fortunate enough to win even a cent of that money. And you will be forced to return to your ramshackle homes and your miserable, lowly lifestyles." —"Bad News" Barrett with some real talk.

    "We value you." —Stephanie McMahon, trying to calm a ranting Randy Orton.

    "Every single night you've got to show them why you're the champion." —Triple H to Orton.

    "Elvis could sing King." —Michael Cole, explaining to Lawler that Elvis Presley had some talents Fandango does not.

    The crowd chanted for Ziggler like he is a real star. The Universe loves him. WWE? Not so much.






    Ziggler is a special talent. But he just can't seem to find his way in WWE. At this point it's almost impossible even to imagine him as a top guy. He has everything it takes except the support of the office. Too bad for him that's the most important skill for any rising wrestler to master.

The Real Americans vs. Big E Langston and Mark Henry

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    Big E pinned Antonio Cesaro with the Big Ending.


    Highlights and Quotes

    Big E leapfrogged Jack Swagger like a man half his size.

    Mark Henry launched Langston into Swagger in a cool-looking spot.

    "The Rick Ross look." —Cole mentions the rapper who has the same beard style as Henry. JBL clearly believed he was talking about former WCW jobber Ranger Ross. That's solid unintentional comedy. 

    Langston with a huge hip toss on Cesaro. What a powerhouse!

    Cesaro's drop toehold prevented Langston from making a hot tag.






    JBL felt cheated out of seeing Cesaro attempt to giant-swing the enormous Mark Henry. That would have been awesome. But since Cesaro seemed to be getting over with the move, he's been forced to tone it down a bit. I guess WWE isn't quite ready for a full-on Cesaro face turn—and that's where he was heading.

Tons of Funk vs. Ryback and Curtis Axel

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    Ryback pinned Tensai with the Shell Shock.


    Highlights and Quotes

    "Took it to the hizzo for shizzo." —R-Truth on his win over Brodus Clay at WWE TLC.

    "I'm not talking about Shrek and Barney behind him." —JBL, trying to explain to R-Truth that he was just cheering for the Funkadactyls, not Tensai and Clay.

    After the match, Brodus Clay attacked Tensai to officially go heel.

    "I'm the main event playa." —Brodus Clay.

    Xavier Woods and R-Truth to the rescue with a double dropkick. Somebody owes Ricky Morton royalties.






    On one hand, I'm pretty relieved that Clay is now a villain. I couldn't take another week or two of lame teases. On the other hand, who cares?

CM Punk and the Usos vs. the Shield

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    CM Punk accused the Authority of conspiring against him. He challenged Triple H, which brought Shawn Michaels down to the ring. After a brief discussion, he brought out Punk's opponents.



    Roman Reigns pinned CM Punk with the Spear.


    Highlights and Quotes

    "I figure, Triple H and me, we're both adults. Why doesn't he come down here right now and we can hash out whatever problems he and I have man to man. Face to face." —CM Punk.

    "Unless he's afraid of what I can do to him with this microphone." —Punk, laying down the challenge to the boss. Shawn Michaels comes out instead.

    "You sold out! You sold out!" —crowd lets HBK have it, but the chant eventually died. He mocked them for running out of gas.

    "That pained me more than it pained you." —HBK on kicking Punk in the face last week.

    Seth Rollins with a dive into the corner that missed badly.

    "The machine hates me!" —JBL, making fun of disgruntled wrestlers like Punk.

    CM Punk with a neckbreaker/DDT combo. That was cool!






    CM Punk made the crowd wait for him to step into the ring. But the Usos and the Shield had the audience primed and waiting. So, once he did get the tag, Punk made it an occasion worth waiting for. He was a house of fire before eventually getting stopped cold by the Shield.

    Those writing the superteams obituary may have jumped the gun. The Shield looked pretty good tonight.

The Bella Twins and Natalya vs. AJ Lee, Tamina Snuka and Alicia Fox

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    image via WWE.com

    Bray Wyatt apologized to Abigail for doubting her and threatened that Daniel Bryan would burn with the saints.



    AJ Lee pinned Nikki Bella after a Shining Wizard.


    Highlights and Quotes

    "Daniel Bryan is a coward. He is but a miniscule ant, trying to pierce the armor of a scorpion." —Bray Wyatt in a dark, dark promo. 

    "It would be like Hagrid marrying Jennifer Aniston." —JBL, closet Harry Potter fan, on the Bryan-Brie Bella relationship.

    "If Tamina was your girlfriend, what would you get her for Christmas?" —Jerry Lawler, posing a question literally no one in the audience had ever considered before.

    A skipping AJ Lee got a huge pop from the fans. She's still got it.

    Snuka absolutely stuffs Nikki Bella with a kick to the face. Ouch.






    I know this isn't the most popular opinion in the world—but the Bellas are learning how to work. Nikki looked better than ever here—at least she did before getting her jaw jacked.

    I'm a big fan of the Divas Division. Here's hoping that 2014 is the year they finally get their due and the right opportunities to really make a difference.

Randy Orton vs. Daniel Bryan

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    previous action
    previous actionvia WWE.com


    Daniel Bryan beat Randy Orton by disqualification after Orton hit him with a low blow.


    Highlights and Quotes

    "How many times do I have to beat this sawed-off loser?" —Randy Orton on Daniel Bryan.

    Superstar of the year Bryan made his entrance to an absolutely electric crowd response. The man is kind of a big deal.

    Bryan crotched Orton into the ring post, then delivered a huge right hand.

    "Would you call the match? I'm begging you." —JBL, as the announcing crew seemed determined to ruin the match with their bickering.

    Bryan reversed a Thesz Press into a half-crab. The degree of difficulty there was tremendous. He out-Lance Stormed Lance Storm.

    Huge back elbow by Orton.

    "Aaaaaaah!" —Bryan let out a scream as Orton worked the arm.

    Orton side-stepped a Bryan suicide dive, and the goat crashed and burned.

    Bryan cracked Orton with a forearm that shook his teeth, then hit a top-rope hurricanrana. 

    Bryan with a great near-fall off a diving headbutt and a Yes Lock.

    "This is awesome!" —the crowd. So true the fans had to chant it twice.






    This was one of the best matches we've seen all year on Raw, so good that I can't even complain about the non-finish. Orton carried his end like the champ that he now is and Bryan continues as the "Little Engine That Could," doing everything but winning the big match clean.

    That's coming.

    Whether it's in the plans or not, eventually WWE is going to have to acknowledge that Bryan's push is working. The crowd is into Bryan.

    When the payoff does come, and it has to eventually come, it's going to be huge.

After Raw Dark Match

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    Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

    According to WrestlingInc.com, the live crowd got a bonus match as Randy Orton did double duty, taking on John Cena with Booker T as the guest referee. The match ended when Orton hit Booker and then slugged Cena with the title belt.

    The crowd went away happy, however, when Booker recovered to push Orton into Cena's arms. The real face of the WWE delivered an AA, did a spinaroonie with Mr. Five Times and walked off into the sunset. A harbinger of things to come?