WWE Raw Preview: TLC Fallout and More for the December 16 Episode

Erik Beaston@@ErikBeastonFeatured ColumnistDecember 16, 2019

Credit: WWE.com

On the heels of the TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs pay-per-view, WWE Raw hits the USA Network Monday night with its attention on ending 2019 with a bang. It will look to do so with a star-studded main event and the continuation of some of its hottest storylines.

What is next for Raw women's champion Becky Lynch after falling just inches short of capturing tag team gold from The Kabuki Warriors, and how will Kevin Owens respond to the brutal assault at the hands of AOP and Seth Rollins?


Already Announced


An Unstoppable Trio?

If there was any question as to whether Seth Rollins was a heel, all doubt was put to rest a week ago when he joined Akam and Rezar in a three-on-one beatdown of Owens, then cut a scathing promo on the WWE Universe in which he announced his alliance with the team and completed a much-needed character transformation.

Monday will represent the first full episode of Rollins' heel turn, and with it comes the latest chapter in his intensifying rivalry with Owens. The program figures to be the top story on the red brand and is off to a hot start. The question is whether the creative team can sustain the momentum it has built for Rollins after last week's angle and if they can consistently write Owens as a compelling babyface, something it has struggled to do with other top good guys over the last year.

An Owens looking for vengeance is an interesting one, at the least, and should make for some intriguing television. That is, as long as WWE Creative can resist the urge to focus all of its attention on Rollins, who the company still clearly sees as the top star on Monday nights.


The Man vs. The Empress?

Asuka has Becky Lynch's number.

For the second year in a row, Asuka defeated Becky Lynch in a Tables, Ladders & Chairs match to close out the December pay-per-view. Throw in a victory at last January's Royal Rumble pay-per-view and The Empress of Tomorrow continues to be the one woman Lynch has been unable to get the upper hand on since her rise to the top of the industry.

After Asuka tipped over the ladder Sunday, sending Lynch crashing to the mat and setting up The Kabuki Warriors' victory over the Raw women's champion and Charlotte Flair, it appears she is on a collision course with Lynch, presumably with a shot at the top prize on Raw awaiting her.

With an easy-to-tell backstory and Asuka fully entrenched as a heel, it is a feud the writing team should absolutely capitalize on and present in Houston at the Royal Rumble. Start the build to that bout Monday night and create some doubt that Lynch can actually overcome the unstoppable force that is the NXT icon.


Will The Viper Strike AJ Styles?

The only match announced for Monday's show at the time of publication is Randy Orton vs. AJ Styles. The contest, which could have been added to the TLC pay-per-view card to bolster star power, is the culmination of weeks of storytelling that peaked last week when The Viper interfered in the United States Championship match between The Phenomenal One and Rey Mysterio, costing his rival a shot at regaining the gold.

Styles will be looking for revenge, and with Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows never far behind him, Orton could find himself in a three-on-one beatdown situation.

Considering WWE Creative opted to hold off on the match until Monday suggests their encounter will be more of a plot device than the actual blowoff to a program that has steadily intensified in recent weeks. That is a good thing. Orton and Styles have only worked together a handful of times, at least in high-profile television or PPV settings, and a match between the two of them should mean something.

Especially on the storied flagship of WWE.

Using Monday's match to propel the story forward is the right call, as long as the writing team has a definitive direction it is looking to take the two Superstars.