It was fun while it lasted, I guess.
I mean, let's not pretend that RAW has been pitch-perfect since Survivor Series. I don't think it's been truly "good" since it tacked on the needless third hour. It's just that there was so much riding on the whole "Team Cena vs. Team Authority" thing, that to have it all turn to dust in a matter of minutes is pretty insulting to one's intelligence. And that's not even counting the silliness that was King Vince giving Cena the arbitrary power to "bring back the Authority" or Rollins apparently murdering Christian with a weak little briefcase shot to the gut or that Cena couldn't have just lunged into the ring like he did following the decision or the fact that Triple H and Steph, after Rollins had forced Cena to bring everyone back, suddenly materialized from the back as if they were released from The Phantom Zone...
It's all meaningless now. Everything that Ziggler did or that Sting did...nothing's been given a chance to breathe or decompress. It's as if Team Cena never won the match in the first place. And now what happens? I can't imagine that they hit the "Team Cena is fired" button. It's a bit late for that.
Since it's almost 2015, I feel compelled to make a Back to the Future II reference: this was Biff Tannen going back to 1955 and giving his younger self Grey's Sports Almanac so that he could be rich and powerful.
Let's get going...
We open with Rollins forcing Cena to bring back The Authority on last's night's RAW.
We are LIVE(!) from Norfolk, Virginia!
Michael Cole, JBL and Booker T are the three guys on the mics.
Edge and Christian come out to the ring with pomp and circumstance as if none of that ever happened. They joke at first but Edge says he couldn't sleep last night. He says nothing will happen to them tonight because their lawyers will eat the company alive and then Edge and Christian will "run the WWE". Christian says that they are running Main Event and Smackdown -- but that the Authority returns on Monday. They're gonna have fun tonight. More joking around and then they bring out Adam Rose and the Express which, to its credit, is now lead to the ring by some awfully hot new ladies.
Christian says that it MUST be "party time all the time" because Adam Rose looks like he hasn't showered. Also, one of Rose's Express guys has Edge's "puppet stunt double". You know, just in case "rock bottom" wasn't the lowest we could go here. They recall a bunch of tag teams that used the word "Express" in their name. But they really would like to know where the Bunny is. Adam Rose says he thought that Edge and Christian were the life of the party...but they're lemons. Rose says he booted The Bunny off the party bus. Christian asks if the Express just follows him all over the place. Rose says they always follow him. Edge disagrees. Rose walks off and tells them to come with him...but the Express stays put. Edge and Christian hit a 5-Second Pose as the Express dances around. Edge takes his puppet stunt double away and him and Christian walk off.
Cole says they'll recap the Authority thing later and they're ready for the first match of the evening.
We get Charlotte Flair promo with original character catchphrases like "I am the complete package" and "To be the woman, you have to beat the woman", and "Wooooo."
NEXT: Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks
MATCH #1: Sasha Banks vs. NXT Womens Champion Charlotte (non-title)
The two kinda run around the ring before Charlotte hits a weak Flair chop. Two count. Banks takes over and puts Charlotte in the corner, then stomps on her chest, getting two. Banks snap mares Charlotte, then mocks her with a Flair Strut. She kicks Charlotte and hits a Surfboard. Charlotte finally escapes and drops Banks on her back. Flair clotheslines Banks and chops her as Cole says, "Shades of Ric Flair" as if nobody on WWE programming has EVER chopped anyone ever since Ric Flair retired. Charlotte goes for a Moonsault, botches it, then flips on top of Banks, then botches the pin by putting her own foot on the rope. Banks kicks out then knocks Charlotte to the mat. Charlotte counters a follow-up and hits Natural Selection for the win at 4:41.
RATING: *7/8. Charlotte either needs to bake a little more or she was having an off-night. Even the Flair Chops looked awful.
Santino's backstage, celebrating the New Year, talking to the Cobra about the lack of other guests. Wasn't the Express just around? He doesn't want the Cobra to kiss him this year. Luke Harper shows up and asks where the party is. Ha. Ha, ha. Sigh...
Titus says 2015 is the "Year of the Gator" and they damn sure bite.
MATCH #2: Justin Gabriel vs. Titus O'Neil
All the main guys are already celebrating, I guess. Gabriel counters Titus's Irish Whip and hits a dropkick. Titus rolls out of the ring and Gabriel runs and kicks him a couple times before Titus clotheslines him. He rolls Gabriel back into the ring and clotheslines him. Titus hits two backbreakers and a Fallaway Slam. Two count. Titus puts Gabriel in the corner but Gabriel kicks him on a rush, then stomps him off the buckle. He hits a Springboard Missile Dropkick and gets two. He goes for another high risk move but Titus gets up, grabs Gabriel and hits a Falling Powerbomb for the win at 3:44.
WINNER: Titus O'Neil
Cole gives us a recap of Daniel Bryan's "big announcement" on RAW.
ON RAW: Ambrose vs. Bray Wyatt in ARBITRARY NO-DQ MATCH #83.
Santino's backstage, partying with Luke Harper. R-Truth shows up and says he's leaving. Harper blows his party favor in Santino's face.
ON SMACKDOWN: Edge & Christian host.
MATCH #3: Gold & Stardust vs. WWE Tag Team Champions The Usos (Jimmy & Jey) (non-title)
Jey starts with Gold and he uppercuts Gold. Tag to Jimmy who chops Gold to the mat. Star gets into the fray and Jimmy slaps him around. After a series of counters, Jimmy hits a nice spinning kick, then gets two. Tag to Jey and he splashes Star in the corner and puts him to the mat for two. Tag to Jimmy and it's a battle in the corner. Jimmy hits the Corkscrew off the top buckle. After the break, NOBODY IS IN CONTROL!!! Seriously, both sides are in their corners. Jimmy starts again with Star and he chops at Star. Irish Whip and Star bails, then hits an Enzuguri when Jimmy chases him. Jimmy manages to get back into the ring after an eight count. Star stomps Jimmy and tags Gold who drops elbows. Quick tags as Star and Gold work Jimmy over in their corner. Star puts a headlock on Jimmy but Jimmy breaks it. Star blocks a tag by kicking him and it's a tag to Goldie who covers Jimmy for two. Jimmy tries to get out of Goldie's grasp and misses a kick. Two count by Gold. Jimmy tries to rush Goldie but Goldie hits a Spinebuster and tags Star. Star goes top buckle, grins and then gets punched in the gut as he leaps at Jimmy. Hot tag to Jey and it's clotheslines, a kick, uppercut and a Samoan Drop. Jey tries a Rikishi. Star interrupts and Jey does it to him instead. He rushes at Gold and Gold catches him for a Powerslam. Jimmy comes in and dumps Star. They go for Uso Crazy but Gold stops them. Jey NEARLY rolls up Goldie for the win but Gold kicks out. Star rushes back into the ring and tries the Disaster Kick but misses and hits Gold instead. Usos hit the Superfly Splash for the win at 10:56.
WINNERS: The Usos
RATING: **1/2. It got better after the hot tag...you've seen it before.
The Usos celebrate as we go off the air.
OVERALL: **1/2. The show started terribly, then ditched the nonsense (Santino's "New Year's Party" was a fizzle, even on a comedic level) and got better with decent matches.
I'll be back next week, same time, same website. We've got Bayless and Keith and Chris Fothergill-Brown covering the retro stuff as well as some NXT action. Tommy will cover Smackdown to take you into your weekend and Andy PG will be back to start your week off right with the PG Era Raw Rant on Monday.
Thank you to all the BoD'ers and, hey, if you wanna read more of our stuff, please check me out at The Daily DDT (http://dailyddt.com/author/mattlperri/) for all my wrestling editorials and opinion, visit WE HATE YOUR GIMMICK at http://wehateyourgimmick.blogspot.com and, of course, visit us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/wehateyourgimmick/.
I wish you all a great New Year. Be safe. Don't drink and drive and all that. See you next year!