Date: December 17, 2018
Location: Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, CA
The Big Takeaway --
The McMahons returned to save us and provided us with a show that was not all that different than what we’ve been getting. We will be getting debuts from NXT, as well as the returns of Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens “soon.”
Natalya won an 8-woman gauntlet match in the main event and will face Ronda Rousey on next week’s (pre-taped) Christmas Eve show for the women’s championship.
Show Recap --
Vince McMahon came out to start the show. He got a big ovation. A few people were booing but it wasn’t that noticeable until McMahon said he didn’t want to hear any booing, then they got louder. There are Christmas trees and presents all over the stage.
McMahon said Raw has been on the air for 25 years but they always needed to change with the times. Despite his brilliance, creativity and vision, he couldn’t do it all himself, then brought out Stephanie McMahon. The crowd loudly chanted “what” at Vince. Stephanie was booed.
They also brought out Triple H, who was cheered. He hugged Stephanie and a reluctant Vince. They then brought out Shane McMahon, who also got a big ovation. Shane hugged everyone in the ring. The announcers went crazy with each entrance, like they were seeing the biggest stars in the industry.
Stephanie said they haven’t been delivering on their duty to listen to the fans. Triple H said the four of them were taking back Monday Night Raw. Shane said that goes for Smackdown as well, because it was up to all of them to give the fans the best possible experience.
Triple H and Stephanie said they were giving power back to the superstars. Triple H said we would be seeing new faces, new superstars and new matches. The fans were the authority.
Vince closed things off by saying WWE would always be “then, now and forever.” His music played, but was interrupted by Baron Corbin. He was loudly booed. Corbin said he was also excited for a fresh start and was happy that the McMahons would be running Raw (like that hasn’t been the case already).
Corbin wanted a fair and simple conversation with them. They went to commercial. After the break, the crowd continued to boo Corbin as he spoke. Corey Graves said they booed him throughout the break. Triple H and Stephanie encouraged the crowd to keep going.
Corbin complained about what happened with Braun Strowman last night. Triple H cut to the chase and asked Corbin if he was out here to get his GM job back. Corbin made his case. They all said no initially, but Vince had an idea. Corbin could become the permanent GM of Raw if he could beat Kurt Angle right now.
To recap, the new Raw began with a talking segment so long it went through a break.
4-on-1 handicap match: Kurt Angle, Apollo Crews, Bobby Roode & Chad Gable defeated Baron Corbin (9:04)
Stephanie announced Heath Slater as the referee. Angle gave Corbin a suplex and they went to break. Of course, after the break, Corbin was in control. Triple H came out and announced this was actually a handicap match. That brought out Bobby Roode, Chad Gable and Apollo Crews, who went to town on Corbin.
The faces surrounded Corbin, so Slater pretended to ignore them breaking the rules. Shane announced it was no disqualification, so they all went out and grabbed chairs as Slater stomped away on Corbin. They took turns with chairs and the crowd chanted “we want tables.”
They all traded moves and Angle finished off Corbin with an Angle Slam for the pinfall win. After the match, they grabbed a table and picked up Corbin so Angle could give him an Angle Slam through the table.
They congratulated John Cena on winning the Muhammad Ali Legacy award and showed a clip of him accepting the award from Sports Illustrated.
Finn Bálor defeated Dolph Ziggler via DQ (9:32)
Bálor used a sling blade but Ziggler followed with a leaping DDT for two. Bálor went to the top but Ziggler pushed him off, drove him shoulder first into the post and hit a Zig Zag for a nearfall. Ziggler set up for a superkick when Drew McIntyre marched down the ramp.
Ziggler attacked him as the referee watched, then Bálor wiped out McIntyre with a flip dive. Ziggler grabbed Bálor and tossed him back into the ring, then hit a fameasser for two. Bálor hit a sling blade and set up for a dropkick, but McIntyre jumped in the ring and leveled him with a clothesline for the DQ.
McIntyre tossed Bálor from the ring then hammered away at Ziggler. He gave Ziggler a Claymore kick, then gave Bálor a Claymore kick on the outside.
Dean Ambrose promo
Dean Ambrose and his jacket and four men in gas masks entered. The masked men surrounded the ring. Renee Young said, “Not gonna lie, he looks pretty good holding on to that Intercontinental championship.” Corey Graves asked if there was a big celebration last night. Young said yes, but she wasn’t going to tell him about it.
Ambrose told the crowd they should be showing him respect. “You should be standing up on your fat little hooves and bowing down to me right now.” Ambrose said he told everyone what would happen at TLC. Seth Rollins lost control, he dropped the ball and failed. Ambrose didn’t want the people’s respect, because he had the title.
Ambrose noted that Rollins had two titles not long ago, but now he has none. Ambrose said he wasn’t done, because when he was done with him, Rollins would have nothing left. He said he would take Rollins’ career and drag his name through the mud.
Ambrose called himself the moral compass of WWE and wanted to give Rollins the opportunity to come out right now and admit that he was right. Rollins didn’t show. Ambrose offered an open challenge, but not for the title. Ambrose offered Rollins a chance to take out his frustration. Rollins didn’t show. Ambrose mocked him.
Ambrose thought of another way to get under his skin and offered an IC title open challenge for anyone not named Seth Rollins. Tyler Breeze came out almost immediately. Was he waiting behind the stage?
Dean Ambrose defeated Tyler Breeze to retain the Intercontinental Championship (7:24)
Breeze made a big comeback, getting a nearfall on a schoolboy, then another nearfall after a spinning heel kick and diving crossbody, then another after a superkick. A light “let’s go Tyler” chant started, then Ambrose abruptly hit Dirty Deeds for the win.
After the match, Ambrose ranted about Rollins when Rollins’ music hit. Three of the swat guys waited for Rollins by the aisle. One of the swat guys jumped in the ring and gave Ambrose a superkick. It was Rollins. The crowd popped. He took off his masked and hammered away at Ambrose. The other swat guys jumped in, so Rollins fought them off as Ambrose bailed.
Backstage, Shane told Charly Caruso that there would be new faces and opportunities, but difficult decisions would need to be made. Drake Maverick showed up with AOP and he wanted them to get their automatic title rematch.
Shane said automatic rematches were antiquated, especially in this case considering Corbin basically handed AOP the titles. Shane put them in a fatal four way tag match with B-Team, the Revival and Lucha House Party, and the winners would get the next shot.
They aired a video package for the incoming wrestlers: Lars Sullivan, Lacey Evans, Heavy Machinery, Nikki Cross, and EC3.
Lio Rush and Bobby Lashley were in the ring with the lights down and a spotlight on. Rush introduced Lashley the way Elias normally is. Rush cut a promo, then had Lashley do his poses. Rush said comparing Lashley’s physique to Elias’ would be like comparing the Golden State Warriors to the Sacramento Kings. The crowd booed.
Rush had Lashley “moon” the crowd, and Young asked, “How many times do we have to see Bobby Lashley’s butt like that? It’s weird.” Suddenly, JoJo introduced Elias, who appeared behind Lashley and nailed him with a guitar.
They aired a video for Sami Zayn, who is returning "soon." The video had him portrayed as a heel, but the crowd cheered the video anyway.
Fatal Four Way Tag Team Match: The Revival defeated B-Team, AOP (w/Drake Maverick) and Kalisto & Lince Dorado (w/Gran Metalik) (10:12)
Only AOP received an entrance. The announcers said the McMahons have done away with Lucha House rules. Graves joked that Metalik was given his mask at birth to stop his mother from crying. Cole said he made that joke a few weeks ago, and Graves responded, “to be fair, I think that was the video game.” Cole also suggested he call Jerry Lawler for new material.
Revival won with a Shatter Machine on Bo Dallas. I don’t know if I would call this a good match, but there was some good action, including Lucha House Party getting back body dropped over the top onto a pile of bodies. The crowd was quiet except on the high spots.
Rollins told Caruso that last night was a disaster. He let Ambrose get in his head and take his championship. Rollins also said he heard the crowd last night and every word they said. He took responsibility for it. He said this was not just about his performance in the ring and losing championships, this was his life.
Rollins said this was what he loved and what he dedicated everything to. Rollins said he would get back on track and that begins with him ending Dean Ambrose. Corbin showed up and said everyone thought he was doing a good job until Rollins said otherwise.
Corbin blamed Rollins for all of his problems and kept poking him in the chest. Corbin said he’d take Rollins’ championship if Ambrose hadn’t already, and if half the locker room hadn't just attacked him. Rollins punched him.
They recapped the opening of the show which Cole called an “iconic” moment.
Ronda Rousey promo
Ronda Rousey came out to a big reaction. A few people booed. Rousey said she warned Nia Jax, Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch. The crowd chanted for Lynch. Rousey said she wasn’t here to justify her actions last night, she wanted to define what a real champion was. She said being a champion was more than a title or an object you can hold.
She said a real champion was the best the human race had to offer. Rousey suggested a new tradition. The night after a pay-per-view, the champion shows up, in whatever condition, and defends their title. She issued an open challenge.
They cut to Gorilla and the women’s roster was screaming at the production crew in the back. Stephanie showed up and screeched at them, then told them to come with her. She led them out to the stage and they all blindly followed. Stephanie said Rousey would face the winner of an 8-woman gauntlet match.
There was a Kevin Owens return video.
Natalya won an 8-woman gauntlet match to become #1 contender for the Women’s championship
- Bayley defeated Alicia Fox
Six minutes into the match, Cole said, “this match-up has been going on a long time already.” Bayley landed awkwardly on her leg, then Fox nailed a big boot. Fox nonchalantly went for a cover, so Bayley rolled her into a crucifix pin for the win.
- Bayley defeated Dana Brooke
Brooke tried to take advantage of Bayley’s bum leg, but Bayley caught her with Bayley-to-belly for the win in just over 2 minutes.
- Mickie James defeated Bayley
Bayley fought through the injured leg and hit a flying elbow drop but James got a rope break. James then kicked her leg out of her leg and hit a DDT for the win. The announcers said Bayley was in there for over 20 minutes.
- Ember Moon defeated Mickie James
James caught Moon with a dropkick as soon as she entered the ring and dominated most of the match. After a while, Moon caught James off the top with what looked like a Codebreaker, then hit the Eclipse for the win.
- Natalya defeated Ember Moon
Moon applied a chinlock and it sounded like Graves was falling asleep. Moon was in control until Natalya cut her off with a discus clothesline. Moon avoided a Sharpshooter but Natalya caught her in a rollup for the pinfall win
- Natalya defeated Ruby Riott (w/Sarah Logan & Liv Morgan)
Ruby ducked a clothesline and hit an STO. Ruby tried her reverse senton off the top, but Natalya moved and used a schoolgirl for the pinfall win.
- Natalya defeated Sasha Banks
Natalya hit a discus clothesline for two, then applied a Sharpshooter, but Banks crawled to the ropes and used her legs to flip Natalya into the turnbuckle. Banks applied a single-leg crab, but as Natalya crawled toward the rope, Banks switched into a crossface. Natalya rolled through and got to her feet, then gave Banks a German suplex.
Banks came back with a meteora for two. Natalya slammed Banks, then applied the Sharpshooter for the submission win. Natalya faces Ronda Rousey next week on Christmas Eve for the Women’s title.
(She didn’t end up winning, but Banks coming out last here reminded me that there was a gauntlet match back in May where Banks came out last and won. That match also started with Bayley winning the first two matches before being eliminated in the third.)
As Natalya celebrated (and embraced Banks), Rousey came to the ring. Rousey raised Natalya’s hand and they hugged. Rousey then gave her a stern look and offered a handshake. Natalya shook her hand and gave her a hug. They left together as the announcers ran down next week’s show.
Next week, there’s a triple threat between Finn Balor, Drew McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler, plus Elias faces Lashley in a (Christmas-themed) street fight, Seth Rollins faces Baron Corbin, and Paul Heyman will appear.
Final Thoughts --
I won’t be doing the live reports over the next two weeks with Raw taking place on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. See you in the new year.