Tonight's New Year's Eve episode of Raw was taped at the Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Michigan this past Friday.
Former tag team partners Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre face off in a steel cage match on the episode. Last week, both were involved in a triple threat match that was won by Finn Balor. McIntyre targeted Ziggler after the match, but Ziggler laid him out with the Zig-Zag.
McIntyre was officially announced for the men's Royal Rumble match last week. The build to the pay-per-view will continue on tonight's episode.
WWE will follow up on Ronda Rousey defeating Natalya in their Raw Women's Championship match last week. A performance by Elias is also being promoted for tonight, along with Seth Rollins having unfinished business with Intercontinental Champion Dean Ambrose. Rollins lost the title to Ambrose at TLC earlier this month, and WWE has announced that there will be no more automatic rematches.
Our coverage begins at 8 p.m. Eastern time.
The cage lowered for the steel cage match as the announcers ran down the Royal Rumble card.
Drew McIntyre defeated Dolph Ziggler in a steel cage match
Ziggler immediately tried to escape the cage, but McIntyre blocked him. He also tried to escape, but Ziggler thwarted his plans. Both men crotched themselves as they fell to the floor.
Ziggler gained control, hitting a famouser. He tries to escape, but McIntyre intercepted and laid out Ziggler with a headbutt. Ziggler tried to escape again, but McIntyre used the cage door and rammed it into Ziggler’s head.
Back from break, Ziggler struggled to escape as McIntyre grabbed him and dropped to the floor with a giant superplex off the cage. McIntyre then rammed him into the cage head first, telling him he won’t get away that easy. Ziggler came alive with a zig zag for a nearfall.
McIntyre out of nowhere then drilled Ziggler with the claymore kick. McIntyre then took his time as Ziggler recovered, then hit a second for the pinfall win. This was a pretty solid match, but nothing special.
After the match, Ziggler yelled at McIntyre “Is that all you got?”. McIntyre responded by returning to the cage, pinning Ziggler with a chair against the cage and drilling him with another claymore kick.
McIntyre took a microphone after the match and said he was the king of the Raw jungle. He told Ziggler to walk away, but he kept trying to get his scraps. Ziggler doesn’t even deserve his scraps, he said.
He said this chapter was closed, but it is now time to prove he is the king of the WWE. He said he would win the Royal Rumble match and fulfill his destiny by winning the Universal championship. McIntyre then left Ziggler lying with one last claymore kick.
Shane McMahon and Triple H arrived in a limo.
Finn Balor’s new year’s resolution is to win the Universal title again (good luck). Ember Moon said hers is to win the women’s Royal Rumble. The Ascension wants the tag titles, while the Lucha House Party just said 2019 will be their year.
Seth Rollins came out to talk. He mentioned the term “fresh start” and eventually said he wanted another shot at Ambrose. This brought out Triple H. He mentions there’s no more anything -- his automatic rematch for the IC title isn’t happening.
Hunter said that he doesn’t think Seth deserves a rematch anything. He was always his most vocal supporter. Rollins brought up their history, saying he only used him as a puppet. Hunter said Seth made him believe in what he was doing through his actions and words. He mentions their WrestleMania match, saying Seth kicked his ass until he made him believe in him again.
Seth said he isn’t asking for anything -- he’s carried Raw for the last year, being here having classics with Finn Balor and even Mojo Rawley (ouch) while Brock Lesnar was away. He asked Hunter if he wants the old Seth Rollins back. Hunter says yes, and he can prove it tonight by taking on Bobby Lashley. Seth says he’ll burn Lashley down then take everything away from Dean Ambrose. He’ll go after anyone that comes his way, including Triple H’s family.
This brought out Shane McMahon. He told Seth to get ready for his match, but someone will be facing Dean Ambrose for the Intercontinental title tonight in the Fresh Start battle royal. Finn Balor came out for the Battle Royal as Raw went to a commercial.
No Way Jose, then Baron Corbin (who is still wearing his GM outfit) entered to start the battle royal.
Apollo Crews won the Fresh Start battle royal
No Way Jose was the first man eliminated, followed by Viktor after both being press slammed to the floor by Crews. Zack Ryder was in here, so that stat about him not being on Raw in a match for the entirety of 2018 is officially broken. The Lucha House party worked together to eliminate Titus O’Neil.
Back from commercial, Balor eliminates the Lucha House Party as Crews eliminates the B-Team. Crews racks up eliminations, sending Mojo Rawley, Tyler Breeze and Konnor as well. Corbin eliminates Balor as he was working on Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder. Corbin eliminates Ryder, then Hawkins.
Crews and Corbin go at it. Crews hits an enziguri, then another as he eliminates Corbin for the win. Nice last few minutes in what was otherwise a plodding battle royal.
Charly Caruso was with Apollo Crews following the match. He says this is what he’s been begging for. He can’t think of any better way of spending the last day of 2018 by becoming Intercontinental champion.
Dasha brings in Natalya backstage, then recaps what happened last week in the Rousey/Natalya match. Dasha asked Natalya what the future holds for Natalya in 2019. She said 2018 had ups and downs for her, but the match last week pushed both of them to their limits. She said she is entering the women’s Royal Rumble match so she and Ronda can face one another again, this time at WrestleMania.
Nia Jax walks in, questioning if Ronda Rousey will even be champion by then -- maybe something will derail their plan. Tamina then jumps in from behind as she and Jax lay Natalya out.
Back from commercial, Corbin was upset in the ring, saying no one deserves a fresh start more than he does. He said the crowd had no idea how thought it was to be GM and he deserves an award.
This brought out Elias, who played Auld Lang Syne. He called Corbin a loser, and that led to chants of “You’re a loser” to Corbin. He said that Corbin said that Detroit was run down, but he and his friend Kid Rock agree that Detroit is making a comeback. Is Detroit like Raw? Or WCW after a reboot?
Elias started to play his song asking Corbin to go away. Corbin heard enough about a minute in and the two ended up brawling around the ring and into the crowd. Corbin eventually fled backstage as Elias stood tall.
Sasha Banks, Bayley and Ember Moon defeated The Riott Squad
Started off with some good action as everyone faced each other with some back and forth in the ring, spilling to the outside.
The Riott Squad were in control after the break, with the heels working over Sasha Banks for a long period of time. Morgan and Banks traded nearfalls. Moon broke up a pin and launched off with a crossbody to the floor, taking out Morgan and Riott. Bayley then laid out Sarah Logan with an elbow for the win. This was fine, good action throughout.
They aired a video showing Braun Strowman’s 2018 highlights. A lot of them included destroying Kevin Owens.
Lio Rush came out and said that if anyone deserves a fresh start in 2019, it’s Bobby Lashley. Rush told him to dominate as they headed to the ring.
Bobby Lashley defeated Seth Rollins by DQ
Rollins rushed Lashley at the start, but Lashley grabbed Rollins and threw him around shortly after. Rush interfered, sending Rollins into the post via hurricanrana.
Lashley had Rollins in a rest hold after the commercial break. Rollins made his comeback, but Lashley took opportunity with a Rush distraction with a slam. Rollins counters, but Rush is back on the apron. He and Rollins essentially play a game of cat and mouse, a game that Rush loses after being thrown into the barricade.
Lashley jumps Rollins, but he fights back with a steel chair for the DQ.
Something comes over Seth as he begins tearing into Lashley with steel chair shots. Rush launches off with a springboard, but Rollins lays him out and pelts the both of them with steel chair shots. The announcers said that this was what Triple H wanted. Rollins then stomped Rush for good measure.
Ronda Rousey looked mad backstage as Natalya paced around her.
They announced that John Cena will be on Raw next week.
For the third week in a row, they aired the same video about these fresh new faces from NXT coming to WWE.
Jinder Mahal and The Singh Brothers defeated Heath Slater and Rhyno
If you are wondering how Rhyno got his job back, well, I guess dressing up as Santa and hitting your finish on someone qualifies you to get a new contract.
Heels worked on Slater for a while. For the record, the Singh Brothers are about a million times more entertaining than Jinder Mahal in the ring. Rhyno made a hot tag. He took care of all three then looked for the gore on Mahal. The referee was distracted by one of the Singh brothers. Mahal then just kicked Rhyno and pinned him with a Khallas. Cool.
Dean Ambrose ran down Seth Rollins for a bit. He will make it his duty to make Apollo Crews’ fresh start rotten.
Gable and Roode says they can’t think of anything better than to take on the Revival next week, and that they will continue to make the tag division glorious. Revival, Sasha Banks and Bayley all had tag-related resolutions for 2019 too.
Dean Ambrose defeated Apollo Crews to retain the Intercontinental title
Crews started off hot with some near falls, then landed a moonsault to the floor, which sends Ambrose reeling to the outside.
Back from break, Ambrose is in control, grinding down Crews, who eventually manages a comeback, hitting a crossbody and standing shooting star press for a couple of nearfalls.
Ambrose rakes the eyes and goes for dirty deeds, but Crews hits a blue thunder bomb, with Ambrose clutching the ropes to break it up. Crews hits a tope con hilo and makes his way to the top rope, going for a frog splash but it doesn’t connect. Ambrose then lays him out with the dirty deeds and gets the win. Thought this was good, but weird booking for Crews to lose clean like this when just a few hours ago he looked really strong in that battle royal.
Backstage, Alexa Bliss said she’d miss running the Raw women’s division. She said she made history, because if you say that enough times eventually it becomes true, I guess. She announced that A Moment of Bliss, her new talk show, would debut next week and Ronda Rousey will be the first guest. She then knocked Roddy Piper, saying Ronda better dress up as she’ll be in the ring with a goddess, not slumming it in some pit.
Highlights of Brock Lesnar aired. He’ll be on Raw next week.
Ronda Rousey and Natalya defeated Nia Jax and Tamina
Ronda, who was still ticked about the Natalya assault earlier, beat up Nia and Tamina right as she got in the ring. She beat up Tamina once the bell rang, but Nia splashed her in the corner. Nattie is tagged in as she and Tamina wrestle for a bit. Ronda is tagged backed in as she laid both women on the outside out with a crossbody.
Nia and Tamina both work on Nattie until Ronda makes the hot tag. Nia managed to cut her off as she went to the top rope for a big samoan drop. Ronda tried for a powerbomb but escaped instead, walking right into a Tamina superkick. Ronda goes for the armbar on Tamina, but Nia cut her off with a leg drop.
Tamina sets up Ronda for the superfly splash but Ronda gets her feet up and applies an armbar. Tamina quickly submits, giving Ronda and Nattie the win. And that is Raw, three hours of a television show that I can confirm existed here on December 31, 2018.
Have a happy new year. everyone!