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WWE Raw Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from Dec. 23

Ryan DilbertWWE Lead WriterDecember 23, 2013

WWE Raw Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from Dec. 23

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    WWE.com

    The Christmas theme weighed down the superb parts of Monday's WWE Raw.

    Toilets, dueling Santas, Vince Russo-like pole matches and a caroling competition made it hard not to change the channel. Those fans who stuck through the entire episode were rewarded with a pair of excellent six-man tag matches and a piece of intriguing news.

    WWE officially announced that Batista will be back in the ring beginning Jan. 20.

    The excitement over that and stellar performances from The Wyatt Family, Daniel Bryan and The Shield clashed with the irritating filler segments.

    The following is a look at the highs and lows of the Dec. 23 episode of Raw, one that inspired a medley of emotions from boredom to awe.

Opening Segment

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    WWE.com

    On their way to the ring, The Authority, donning Santa hats, passed out candy to fans. Triple H talked about giving back, and Stephanie McMahon wished everyone a merry Christmas.

    Just after The Authority listed the night's big matches, Randy Orton sauntered down to the ring.

    He thanked McMahon and Triple H for their support and gave them himself as a gift. Orton said he was grateful for having the night off as well.

     

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    Kane in a Santa hat and suit making the turnbuckles shoot flames was an odd combination of images.

     

    Grade

    D

     

    Analysis

    The Authority delivered the entire segment with condescension dripping from their mouths. It couldn't be clearer that they were trying to appeal to the kids watching.

    There was no drama, no foreshadowing, no tension in the segment. Nothing about it got one excited about what was to come. This was a poor way to kick off the show.

Jingle Belles Match

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    The Total Divas cast battled the rest of the division, minus AJ Lee, all dressed in Christmas costumes. 

    Vickie Guerrero wore a pair of fluffy antlers that she used to poke her opponent at one point. Alicia Fox and Aksana got in a few moves on the reality show cast before things broke down. Cameron, Natalya and Brie Bella locked arms and started running around the ring, knocking people over.

    They slowly added the rest of the team to the Red Rover-like move.

    Soon, Natalya was left in the ring with Aksana, whom she trapped in the Sharpshooter for the victory.

     

    Result

    The Total Divas win via submission.

     

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    "This is riveting stuff right now," AJ.

    "She looks like a sexy Fruit Roll-Up," AJ on Aksana.

    "It's like a Total Divas pinwheel," JBL on the Total Divas' arm-in-arm move.

    Michael Cole thought Summer Rae was Rosa Mendes.

     

    Grade

    D

     

    Analysis

    This has to rank among the worst matches of the year. There were only a handful of moves in the bout and no flow whatsoever. 

    The announcers weren't engaged, and neither was the majority of the audience.

    No amount of skimpy Christmas-themed clothing makes up for a painful match like that. AJ's commentary brought the grade up some. She was entertainingly appalled by the action.

Sin Cara vs. Curtis Axel

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    Before the bout, Sin Cara gave a bilingual promo, wishing everyone but Curtis Axel a merry Christmas.

    The announcers reminded fans of Sin Cara's recent wins against Drew McIntyre and Alberto Del Rio. Axel grounded him early, knocking him off the apron and smashing his back into the ring post.

    Sin Cara rolled Axel to the ground for a pin attempt. Axel soon hit a crisp dropkick.

    The crowd was mostly quiet until Sin Cara flipped over the top rope onto Axel. His next few flying moves were met with increasingly loud cheers.

    The masked dynamo soon launched himself at Axel for his senton bomb finisher and the win.

     

    Result

    Sin Cara wins via pinfall.

     

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    "Some of these three-, four- and five-year-olds can get out of the house and make some of their own money," JBL on kids.

    Sin Cara's dive to the outside was one of many impressive moves from him.

     

    Grade

    B

     

    Analysis

    Axel's chemistry with the current Sin Cara isn't as great as it was with the original Sin Cara. Still, both wrestlers put on a better-than-solid match that worked to continue the highflier's streak.

    Now that Hunico has taken over, Sin Cara matches are more consistent. WWE has clearly noticed that and is ready to give him a big push. It'll be mighty interesting to see what the company has planned for him and just how high it thinks he can go.

    As a bonus, this Sin Cara speaks.

The Wyatt Family vs. Daniel Bryan, Cody Rhodes and Goldust

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    The crowd chanted "Yes!" as Cody Rhodes and Erick Rowan circled each other. Rhodes sped around the big man, knocking him down to one knee before tagging his brother in. Soon, Daniel Bryan was having his turn, kicking Rowan in the chest.

    The fan favorites continued to stay on top with quick tags.

    Rowan and Luke Harper snatched the advantage back, keeping Rhodes in their corner as they looked to squeeze the air out of him. When the tag champs had Harper on the defensive, moments later, Bray Wyatt growled at him from the apron.

    Wyatt waited until Goldust was on his back stunned before he came in. The clan leader attacked him viciously while wearing a grin.

    The intensity of the match picked up from there.

    Bryan dropkicked Wyatt off the apron, Rowan clamped a claw hold on Goldust and Bryan revved up the crowd with his usual frenzied offense. Distracted by his hunger for revenge, Bryan was ambushed by Rowan and soon found himself in survival mode against all three members of WWE's weirdest family.

    Rhodes tagged in and knocked The Wyatt Family around.

    That momentum soon hit a roadblock, as Wyatt hit him with Sister Abigail's Kiss for the win. Harper threw a discus clothesline after the bell before he and the entire clan stomped on Bryan, leaving him hurting in the ring.

     

    Result

    The Wyatt Family wins via pinfall.

     

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    Bryan hangs Harper upside down and dropkicks him in the head.

    Rowan uses the claw on Goldust.

    "The wall ran into him!" JBL on Rowan hitting Bryan.

    "I could have given you the world," Wyatt to Bryan.

     

    Grade

    A

     

    Analysis

    The Wyatt Family continues to improve every week. Each member seems to sink deeper and deeper into his character. 

    They put on a fantastic match with Bryan and the Rhodes brothers.

    Wyatt left the door open for Bryan to join. This story is clearly continuing, as The Flying Goat has to find some way to stop this painful recruitment process. 

    Should the feud continue to produce matches like these, fans are going to be extremely happy.

Christmas Caroling Contest

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    Xavier Woods and R-Truth paired up for a rendition of "O Holy Night." Drew McIntyre and Jinder Mahal followed with a rocking version of "Jingle Bells." Santino Marella and The Great Khali wrecked "Deck the Halls."

    Woods and Truth received modest applause, 3MB earned boos, and Santino and Khali had the biggest reaction by a significant margin.

    A fight broke out, and the fan favorites sent McIntyre and Mahal out of the ring before singing another song.

     

    Result

    Santino and The Great Khali win.

     

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    R-Truth confuses Houston with Austin.

    "Was Jillian busy?" JBL on 3MB.

     

    Grade

    C-

     

    Analysis

    As ridiculous as this was, both in concept and execution, it was funnier than one would expect. Hearing Khali sing is more amusing than watching him wrestle. 3MB had a moment to shine, but Heath Slater wasn't around to do anything with it.

    The only thing of note from this segment is that The Funkadactyls are still with Woods and Truth, so that pairing looks like it's for the long term.

Fandango vs. Dolph Ziggler (Present on a Pole Match)

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    The present hanging on the pole was a shot at Big E Langston's Intercontinental Championship.

    Dolph Ziggler went for the present early several times, but Fandango yanked him off each time. They slugged it over the turnbuckle, Fandango climbing on top of Ziggler at one point.

    The ballroom dancer sent Ziggler flying into the steps and easily grabbed the present.

     

    Result

    Fandango wins via grabbing the present.

     

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    Ziggler took some brutal falls out of the ring.

     

    Grade

    C

     

    Analysis

    High stakes and great athletes couldn't overcome the silly stipulation. The pole element limited the wrestlers and turned the bout one-dimensional.

    Fandango gets a significant victory, even if it was in a forgettable match. Ziggler has now become the official stepping stone to folks en route to midcard title shots.

The Prime Time Players vs. The Usos

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    Titus O'Neil and Darren Young said they wanted a title shot before taking on The Usos. Young pulled an R-Truth and mixed up Austin and Houston. The Usos dominated the action in the opening, keeping Young grounded.

    Young had a brief run, hitting a clothesline and a number of suplexes. He didn't realize that The Usos had made a tag and was soon the victim of some kicks to the face.

    After a splash and a three-count, The Usos celebrated with their opponents, doing the Prime Time Players' dance.

     

    Result

    The Usos win via pinfall.

     

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    The fans chanting "This is Austin!"

    Jey Uso slips on a Rudolph nose before hitting the splash from the top rope.

     

    Grade

    B-

     

    Analysis

    The short, quick match had some fun action. Neither of these teams is going to put this bout in its greatest hits collection, but on a night marked by filler and goofiness, it just took a few moments of solid wrestling to hype up the crowd.

    The announcers played this up as a means to jockey for position in the tag team division. With a few more wins, The Usos will earn their way back into title position.

Mark Henry vs. Damien Sandow (Battle for Christmas)

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    Mark Henry played the Good Santa; Damien Sandow was the Bad Santa. Christmas trees and presents surrounded the ring with John "Bradshaw" Layfield reminding us that if Henry loses, Christmas will be cancelled.

    Henry clocked Sandow early on.

    He shoved Sandow's face into a toilet, whacked him with a candy cane kendo stick and sprayed him with a fire extinguisher.

    A World's Strongest Slam later, and Henry earned the victory. After the match, Henry shoved a pan of cupcakes into Sandow's face.

     

    Result

    Henry wins via pinfall.

     

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    "Chimneys are dirty. I don't know if you've ever been down one," JBL to Michael Cole.

    "Who gives a toilet as a Christmas present?"

    "Santa is a thief! Police! Police!" JBL on Henry opening presents.

     

    Grade

    D+

     

    Analysis

    A few funny moments couldn't save the match from its lack of drama and one-sided nature. Watching Sandow get whacked with wacky weapons is a one-note song that fans have already heard.

    Remember when Sandow was seconds away from being world champ? I can't either.

    At least this was short.

Los Matadores vs. The Real Americans

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    Zeb Colter riled up the crowd with his usual anti-immigrant rant. El Torito, dressed in white, accompanied Los Matadores.

    Fernando began the match with some athletic moves, but Antonio Cesaro grabbed hold of him and spun him around in the Cesaro Swing. Los Matadores pulled the "twin magic" maneuver, which helped them take control of the match.

    A gore from El Torito and a crossbody later, and the bullfighters picked up the win.

     

    Result

    Los Matadores win via pinfall.

     

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    "You've never seen an albino bull?" Michael Cole to JBL.

    Cesaro flings Diego into the security barricade with impressive force.

     

    Grade

    C+

     

    Analysis

    Los Matadores, who have been out of the spotlight recently, get a win over a team that has been hanging around the tag team title picture. It's hard to imagine WWE giving them a title shot, though, with how odd of a fit they are with so many teams.

    The pace of the match was enjoyable, even if it was over very quickly, providing only a few moments to savor.

Ryback vs. Kofi Kingston

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    Kofi Kingston flew at Ryback, speeding around the ring and keeping the powerhouse off balance with kicks and flying moves. A clothesline that sent Kingston to the outside of the ring changed things for Ryback.

    The Big Guy then relished stomping and smashing his foe.

    Ryback used Goldberg's Jackhammer, but Kingston soon dropkicked Ryback in the teeth. They traded offense until a meat-hook clothesline left Kingston limp. The Shell Shocked then proved to be the decisive blow.

     

    Result

    Ryback wins via pinfall.

     

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    Kingston seems to get even more height than normal on a crossbody from the top rope.

     

    Grade

    B

     

    Analysis

    Kingston and Ryback put on a solid back-and-forth match. Ryback's power provided a compelling juxtaposition to Kingston's impressive agility. 

    There was no mention of The Miz, so it appears that his feud with Kingston is officially over. Kingston is going to need a new rival then. Perhaps it's Ryback, who aside from his partnership with Curtis Axel, has little to do right now.

    Ryback created a stir with officials once before for using Goldberg's moves, so keep an eye out to see if he catches any heat for doing it once more.

The Shield vs. John Cena, CM Punk and Big E Langston

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    Even after a night of filler, the main event still had an electric feel before it began. CM Punk and John Cena, who teamed together on last Friday's SmackDown, now added Big E Langston to the mix. 

    Cena went for the Five Knuckle Shuffle early on Seth Rollins, who rolled out of the ring. Roman Reigns tagged in and began to hit Cena with a barrage of stomps.

    The Shield held Cena in their corner, taking turns attacking him.

    Cena managed to reach out and tag Punk, who charged around the ring, striking any Shield member within range. A distraction from Rollins led to Punk's momentum halting. Punk then became the prey passed between the predators.

    Langston, who was shaking with anticipation on the apron, eventually got tagged in and started leveling The Shield. The match turned chaotic from this point on, spears and clotheslines revving up the fans.

    Langston seemingly had the match won, but Reigns and Rollins chose disqualification over defeat. The brawl that erupted saw the fan favorites stand in the ring with their arms raised.

     

    Result

    Cena, Punk and Langston win via disqualification.

     

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    Cena sells Reigns' Superman punch like it gave him whiplash.

    Reigns turns a bear hug into a devastating spinebuster.

    Langston hits a double running splash.

      

    Grade

    A

     

    Analysis

    This six-man tag challenged The Wyatt Family vs. Daniel Bryan and the Rhodes brothers for match of the night honors. Classic tag team wrestling done superbly helped erase much of the memories of the episode's filler material.

    Reigns looked like a monster, and Langston played the hero at the end.

    Even during what some would consider a throwaway show, WWE wisely elevated the perception of those two young stars. The Shield's superb year continues, their resume now bursting with great matches.

    Enjoy it while you can, though. Eventually, WWE is going to split that group up. 

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