The Good, the Great and the Awesome from Raw 12/23/13
After a hiatus, "The Good, The Great and The Awesome" returns for a very special Christmas edition of Monday Night Raw.
It is the holiday season, and "Bad Santa" Damien Sandow has threatened to cancel Christmas. "Good Santa" Mark Henry has vowed to save the holiday for children all over the globe. Would the World's Strongest Santa be able to vanquish the evil, Scrooge-like Sandow?
The feud between CM Punk and The Shield would continue into the holidays as Punk teams with John Cena and intercontinental champion Big E Langston to take on Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns in the evening's main event.
Would Langston rise to the occasion and help his former WWE champion tag partners to victory over the Slammy award-winning Best Faction?
The Wyatt Family's quest to bring Daniel Bryan into the fold continues as well. The flying goat-faced Superstar teams with WWE tag team champions Cody Rhodes and Goldust to meet the cult-like faction in the second of two six-man tag team bouts.
What else would go down on Monday night's show, the final episode of Raw before the holidays?
Find out now as we take a look back at the good, the great and the awesome from the December 24 episode of Raw.
A Holly, Jolly, Authority Christmas
If the completely disingenuous manner in which Triple H, Stephanie McMahon and WWE World Heavyweight champion Randy Orton celebrated the holiday season to kick off this week's Raw was not entertaining enough, the way in which Kane forced holiday joy on a (planted) fan at ringside put the opening segment of the evening over the top.
The Big Red director of operations has been doing the little things so well since turning heel, adopting a new look and joining The Authority. He has been a joy to watch in the role, even if he has been one of the more underutilized and understated characters on Raw and SmackDown.
Giving Orton the night off was the perfect heel move from Triple H and Stephanie, while Kane ending with a classic line from the Night Before Christmas followed by a huge blast of pyro from the four corners was spectacular.
There is a lot that The Authority angle has done to hamper WWE television since August, but Monday night, everyone involved was brilliant.
Sin Cara vs. Curtis Axel
Not every match can be as explosive or dynamic as those involving Punk, Bryan, Cena or The Shield. There is plenty of room for good, solid wrestling, however, and Sin Cara and Curtis Axel delivered just that Monday night.
There was nothing overly flashy, nor was there anything inherently wrong, with the match. Instead, two seasoned in-ring veterans gave fans a crisp match that showcased the masked luchador (we get it, JBL; it's a different guy) and allowed him to continue his winning ways.
As 2014 approaches, Sin Cara appears poised to continue his new-found push while Axel sinks further into the midcard without manager Paul Heyman to guide him.
While some may complain about the comedic nature of most of the Christmas-themed matches and segments on Monday night's broadcast, those segments were responsible for a lighter atmosphere and family-friendly entertainment that everyone could find some sort of enjoyment in.
While the Jingle Bells Divas tag match may have featured a massively stupid spot involving six of the Total Divas castmates, it got 12 beautiful women of television and allowed them to shine in a match that had absolutely no impact on the Divas title picture or any long-term booking for the division.
The Christmas carol contest was kept mercifully short, and the battle between "Good Santa" Mark Henry and "Bad Santa" Damien Sandow was relatively inoffensive and paid off a week-long story questioning whether or not Christmas would go on as scheduled or if it would be cancelled.
Like a number of the cheesy Lifetime films that air during the holiday season, the programming may not be of the highest quality, but it was good, innocent fun for fans who bothered to watch this week's show in the first place.
The Animal Is Back!
News leaked regarding the return of Batista to World Wrestling Entertainment early this past weekend, and Monday night on Raw, WWE confirmed the earth-shattering news with an awesome little video package that revealed that The Animal will return to the company on the January 20 episode of Raw.
One of the great Superstars of the past decade, Batista is a homegrown star who figures to factor heavily into WrestleMania 30 plans.
It should be quite interesting to see what Batista has to see when he steps back inside the squared circle and addresses the WWE Universe for the first time in over three years.
On a personal note, as a big fan of The Animal, this writer marked out appropriately upon hearing the news.
Daniel Bryan, Cody Rhodes and Goldust vs. The Wyatt Family
There is something about watching a match the quality of this six-man tag match from early in Monday night's broadcast that helps one appreciate how far Bray Wyatt, Luke Harper and Erick Rowan have come since being called up to the main roster, not to mention how truly great Goldust has been since returning to the company back in October.
The chemistry the two teams have developed by working with each other on a number of occasions is special and gives management great confidence that they can throw those involved out in the squared circle and expect a good-to-great match should an unforeseen circumstance call for such a thing.
The storyline failed to advance any further Monday night, but fans were still treated to an outstanding match featuring six very talented individuals.
John Cena, CM Punk and Big E Langston vs. The Shield
Cena is an awesome professional wrestler.
Punk is an awesome wrestler.
The Shield have been exceptional all year.
Add in the blossoming Langston and you have all the ingredients for a phenomenal main event, capable of covering up the fact that the writers did not want to work hard to conceive a main event for the show.
The action was brisk, and Langston looked particularly impressive as the company continues a sudden, meteoric push just in time for the Royal Rumble match.
The disqualification finish was disappointing, but it allowed the babyfaces to go over without beating The Shield again.
A fitting conclusion to a fairly entertaining show.