Wrestling Review: WWE Raw, December 17 2018

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Written By: Declan Brady

TLC Flashbacks:

Instead of focusing on last week’s Raw, a recap of the red side’s night at TLC seems to be a much better insight into Raw:

• Elias was able to get revenge over Bobby Lashley by winning the guitar ladder match, but his revenge would be short-lived as a post-match beatdown from Lashley and Lio Rush would leave the ‘Drifter’ laid out, with a frog splash and guitar hit being the focus.
• Braun Strowman made his grand return to WWE screens following the beatdown suffered from Corbin, McIntyre and Lashley to face the GM Elect in a match with big circumstances. However, in a quite interesting format, Strowman would beat Baron Corbin without hitting one move. This was due to Strowman calling on those who Corbin had ruined on Raw recently, with a returning Kurt Angle being the highlight, leading to a mass beatdown. This means Strowman will face Lesnar at Royal Rumble for the Universal Title, and that Baron Corbin is no longer acting GM of Raw.
• Due to Dolph Ziggler interference and a steel chair, Finn Balor would pick up a surprise win over Drew McIntyre in a rather entertaining match.
• Ronda Rousey would defend her Raw Women’s Title successfully against Nia Jax in a match which was not quite to the levels of their MITB encounter, but made both look impressive. Rousey would later go on to have a huge impact later on in the main event, costing Becky Lynch and Charlotte the SmackDown Women’s Title to tease a triple threat match at WrestleMania 35.
• Dean Ambrose would defeat Seth Rollins to become a three-time Intercontinental Champion, in a match which felt a lot less like a blood feud and more of a standard PPV match, which after the promo package felt lacklustre.

Segments announced for Raw beforehand are a singles match between Dolph Ziggler following a backstage altercation after Balor’s victory, and Mr. McMahon making his first appearance since RAW 25 to “shake up” Monday Night Raw. Raw this week comes from the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California.

Vince McMahon Segment

Well, the show can’t kick off any bigger really, can it? Mr. McMahon is here to kick off Monday Night Raw. Vince started off focusing on “changing with the times”, and that he cannot deal with Raw by himself. This would lead to Stephanie McMahon coming out, followed by her husband Triple H. This then became a family reunion as Smackdown Commissioner Shane McMahon came out. Stephanie took control of the promo saying “we haven’t been listening to the fans”, with all four claiming they are taking back control from a corporate businessman, and that the fans are now the ‘Authority’. This would lead to a focus on the ‘then, now and forever’ mantra.

Baron Corbin would then interrupt. Corbin claimed “I’m excited the entire McMahon family will run Raw”, but focused on “fairness” with last night not being fair. Corbin claimed the fans aren’t a full representation of the WWE Universe, leading to continuous boos. Baron then claimed “every night, I do my best”, leading to “you suck” chants without Kurt Angle in sight. Corbin wanted reconsideration as Raw GM, which got four NO’s, but then he was afforded a chance if he could win his match against KURT ANGLE. This segment was a good way to kick off the show, with high amounts of crowd interaction.

Kurt Angle vs. Baron Corbin (Heath Slater as guest referee)

This match started off with Kurt being in control before the ads. Once we came back, the match was turned into a handicap bout by Triple H with it being Angle, Apollo and the Raw Tag Team Champions against Corbin. All four each took their time to get a move in, before Shane McMahon came out to make the match no disqualification, allowing Slater to attack Corbin. The match finished with all four competitors hitting their finishers, with Angle getting the pin. This match did exactly what it needed to do, which was signify the destruction of Baron Corbin. Post-match, Angle hit another Angle Slam on Corbin through a table.

Finn Balor vs. Dolph Ziggler was announced to be next on Raw, along with them showing a John Cena tribute for the Muhammad Ali Legacy Award, which is an absolutely great achievement.

Finn Balor vs. Dolph Ziggler

These are two individuals who, with this new focus on Raw, could be getting a lot more attention, which especially for Balor will make many happy. Unsurprisingly, this was very good for a TV match, with both guys being able to get their big moves in, and Balor even kicking out of the Zig Zag. During the match, McIntyre attempted to get involved, but was taken out by a Finn Balor dive over the top rope. However, that would not deter Drew, who would get involved only a couple of minutes later. leading to a Finn Balor DQ victory. Post-match, McIntyre would hit claymore kicks to both Ziggler and Balor. This did what it needed to do, which is to set up the triple threat bout on next week’s show.

Dean Ambrose Promo

Out came the new Intercontinental Champion who claimed “Everything I predicted last night came true”, and that Seth Rollins “choked” and is a “failure”. Ambrose claimed his focus goes further than titles, and that it’s to end Seth Rollins career and put it in the “gutter”. Ambrose wanted “Mr. Monday Night Raw” to come out to tell him he’s right, which lead to no response from Seth. Ambrose then set up an Intercontinental Title Open Challenge, which led to the most underused guy on Raw, Tyler Breeze, to come out.

Intercontinental Championship Match
Dean Ambrose (C) vs. Tyler Breeze

Right from the start of the match, Breeze took control with a big dropkick, sending the Intercontinental Champion to the outside. During the commercial break, Ambrose took over with a clothesline on the outside, and then (because he’s a bad guy)a headlock. Breeze was able to get back in the match with an enziuguri and headscissors combination. Breeze then went on to hit his arsenal, with a Beauty Shot getting a 2 3/4 count. The finish came with a Dirty Deeds by Ambrose out of nowhere. Post–match, Rollins appeared dressed up as one of Ambrose’s guards and got his hands on Ambrose, before the Intercontinental Champion’s security sacrificed themselves for their leader. This segment was positive for getting Tyler Breeze on TV and adding tension, with Renee supporting Ambrose despite being behind all of the other faces.

Backstage, we cut to Shane McMahon being interrupted by AOP. Maverick demanded a title rematch, but instead was given a four-way #1 contender’s match with Lucha House Party, The Revival and The B-Team.

We were then informed of some new superstars who will be the “Future Of WWE”, which included Lars Sullivan, Lacey Evans, Heavy Machinery, Nikki Cross and EC3. Each had a promo video to hype up their imminent arrivals. Sullivan’s promo focused on his destructive abilities, and that the WWE Universe have never seen a “freak like him”.
The Lacey Evans segment focused on her getting rid of “societal trash” and the use of her “right hand”, referring to her finisher. Heavy Machinery’s promo focused on their strength in the ring and having a “good time” in the ring as well as lifting weights. Nikki’s promo focused on her catchphrase of “do you want to play”, which I’m personally a big fan of, as well as the concept of having “no fear” and loving “chaos”. EC3’s promo was pretty simple, mainly focusing on his in-ring power moves and his rich lifestyle.

Bobby Lashley Segment

This was a spoof with Rush and Lashley, pretending to be Elias, showing the post-match beatdown from TLC. Rush dominated the segment using Elias’s catchphrases, with it turning into a Lex Luger 1993 posedown. Lashley went for his glutes pose to finish, which would be interrupted by Elias appearing out of nowhere hitting the former ECW Champion with a new guitar. This was probably the weakest segment, but was still able to enhance the story no matter how much of Lashley’s glutes are shown every single week.

BIG NEWS: In a promo just before the four-way tag, it was announced that Sami Zayn is returning soon to Monday Night Raw.

#1 Contender’s Four-Way Tag Match
AOP vs. Lucha House Party vs. The Revival vs. The B-Team

To start off this match, Corey Graves said that Lucha House Rules matches have been banned, which is brilliant news. The main two teams starting in this match were Revival and LHP, with Dawson dominating Kalisto. The majority of the match consisted of these two teams, with B-Team and AOP mainly tagging in off the Revival. The match gained pace when the former Cruiserweight and US Champion Kalisto was brought in, but was quickly took out by Dawson. A big spot of this match was a double dive to the outside by the LHP on AOP. The finish came with a Shatter Machine out of nowhere on Bo Dallas, meaning new #1 contenders in The Revival.

We cut to a backstage segment with Seth Rollins, who called last night a “disaster” and said the crowd reactions last night were disappointing, as he gives his life to wrestling. Rollins says he will look to improve Raw by firstly removing Dean Ambrose. Seth was interrupted by Baron Corbin, with Corbin claiming that Rollins goading him into a match last week was why he lost his job as GM Elect, and that everything Ambrose has said about Rollins is true. Rollins responded with a right hand flooring the Lone Wolf.

Ronda Rousey Segment

Out came the RAW Women’s Champion, who had quite an eventful night at TLC. Ronda started by claiming all the promises she made to Nia, Charlotte and Becky Lynch were achieved, leading to “Becky” chants. Ronda claimed she’s here to shown what a “real champion” is, claiming it’s the pinnacle of what a human is and lives for a challenge. Throughout the segment, Rousey was bombarded by “Becky” chants. Ronda said she wants to create a “new tradition” by defending her title the night after every PPV. This led to the women’s division coming out, and an eight-women gauntlet being announced by Stephanie McMahon for right now.

Eight-Woman Gauntlet Match

Bayley vs. Alicia Fox

I can’t say I’ve never seen this match before. This match very much followed the same format as the previous Bayley vs Alicia Fox match on Raw last week, with Fox dominating with headlocks before Bayley broke out, hitting suplexes. The match ended with a crucifix win for Bayley when it seemed The Hugger had injured her knee.

Bayley vs. Dana Brooke

Dana Brooke entered like a house on fire, hitting multiple big moves including a splash into the corner. The finish came out of nowhere with Dana punishing Bayley in the corner, but after Bayley was given a second to recuperate, it led to a Bayley To Belly for the three-count.

BIG NEWS: During the ad break between Bayley’s second and third matches, a Kevin Owens return promo is released, which is a huge boost for Raw.

Bayley vs. Mickie James

We jump into this match whilst it’s ongoing, with Mickie James in control hitting a pretty nice neckbreaker on Bayley. Bayley started to get more desperate using rollups to try and end the match. Mickie attempted a MICKIE–DT but it was countered with a side suplex. Bayley’s knee continued to be a problem in this match, but the former Raw Women’s Champion was still able to hit an elbow drop for two. The finish would come with Mickie using her surroundings as an advantage with the turnbuckle and connecting with the MICKIE–DT for the three.

Mickie James vs. Ember Moon

This match was comfortably the best so far in the gauntlet. Mickie using her veteran ability against the speed of Ember was a good clash of styles. This was shown with the majority of the match being Mickie in control and stopping Ember before she could get back into the match. The tide began to turn with Ember hitting a superkick to the gut followed by an enzuiguri. The finish would come when Ember countered a top rope Lou Thesz Press with a Codebreaker, followed by an Eclipse.

Ember Moon vs. Natalya

From the get-go, Natalya went for the Sharpshooter, but Ember took control with speed over power; a very nice snap suplex being the highlight. Despite Natalya coming close with the discus clothesline, she would progress through with an O’Connor roll, shocking Ember and the crowd.

Natalya vs. Ruby Riott

Only 24 hours after their last encounter, we got this combination again. This match was as expected, as in a handicap match due to Morgan and Logan interference giving Ruby control. The match started to turn Natalya’s way following a quick rollup, which was quickly cancelled out by a Ruby clothesline. The finish of the match would come after Natalya got her comeback in and countered a senton for a three-count.

Natalya vs. Sasha Banks

Just like the last Women’s gauntlet in June, Sasha Banks came out last. Banks and Natalya seem to have good chemistry, which isn’t surprising, and was shown in a powerbomb reversal into a DDT by Sasha Banks. A seated dropkick and a discus clothesline earned Natalya two-counts before locking in the Sharpshooter in the centre of the ring, but the four-time Raw Women’s Champion countered using the bottom turnbuckle. Banks locked in a half Boston crab on Natalya, but Natalya reversed a Bank Statement into a German Suplex. The finish came after Natalya hit a reverse powerbomb and put the Sharpshooter on again for the win.

Natalya will face Ronda Rousey next week for the Raw Women’s Title on the Christmas Eve special, and the show ended with the two friends hugging. Finn Balor vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Drew McIntyre, Elias vs. Bobby Lashley in a Miracle On 34th Street Fight, Seth Rollins vs. Baron Corbin and an appearance from Paul Heyman were also announced for next week’s Christmas Eve edition of Raw.

Overall, Raw was a massive improvement this week, with every segment meaning something, including the promo videos for the NXT stars and returns. Raw had enough key moments to be seen as a good show, with the only surprise being the drop of the female GM in Alexa Bliss without any mention why. If Raw carries on this track, then we’re in for positives for the upcoming future.