Monday Night Raw
Date: December 3, 2018
Location: Toyota Center, Houston, Texas
Commentators: Michael Cole, Corey Graves, Renee Young
Last week was one of the worst shows I’ve ever seen this company produce. It wasn’t funny, it wasn’t entertaining (save for one match) and it was a complete nightmare. Normally I would say things couldn’t get worse, but I’ve been wrong in that regard far too many times. Just…please nothing that terrible again. Let’s get to it.
We open with a ten bell salute to George H. W. Bush, who was a Houston resident. Nothing wrong with that.
Ronda Rousey/Natalya vs. Nia Jax/Tamina
Actually hang on a second as here’s the Riott Squad with a table. The distraction lets Tamina hit a superkick to Rousey and the beatdown is on in a hurry. The Squad sets up the table and Natalya gets powerbombed through as Rousey is beaten down. No match.
Post break Rousey has Natalya checked on and glares revenge.
Here’s Alexa Bliss for a chat. Last week she was put in charge of the entire women’s division and then the open forum that she set up didn’t go well. That’s why we’re going to try this again so we’ve got Charly Caruso in the crowd to answer questions. We need some people to ask questions to though so here are Sasha Banks and Bayley. After having a seat, Bayley gets straight to the point: when are Dana Brooke, Alicia Fox and Mickie James going to run in and attack them?
The first question is about social media asking if Banks is going to stab her in the back. Banks laughs it off and says they’ll be partners for life. Second (asked by a woman who looks like Carmella’s sister) is if you could have a match with anyone who would it be. Bayley/Sasha at the same time: “Trish Stratus and Lita at Wrestlemania.”
Next: if you could have a superpower what would it be. Bayley would want to make things disappear, starting with Bliss. That’s enough for a victory lap around her chair. Banks thinks Bayley’s answer works for her too. Bliss says she already made Banks’ title disappear so we’ll move on. Fourth: what changes will they be bringing in 2019? Bayley wants the two of them to be the first ever Women’s Tag Team Champions. Cue Dana, Mickie and Alicia but Bliss calls them off. A match is made instead.
Bayley/Sasha Banks vs. Mickie James/Alicia Fox
Bayley charges at Mickie to start but gets taken into the wrong corner for the northern lights suplex from Fox. The chinlock goes on for a bit until it’s off to Fox via the hot tag. Mickie has to break up the Bank Statement so Sasha forearms her in the face several times. A kick to the face drops Banks for two with Bayley making the save. Bayley comes back in and it’s a Backstabber into the Bayley to Belly to finish James at 4:17.
Rating: D+. So now we’ve officially heard about the Women’s Tag Team Titles. I don’t particularly need to see them but having some titles to fight over would be better than having the same women having the same matches for no apparent reason so I’ll take what I can get. As long as it’s not Stephanie making some big speech to tell us about them.
We look back at Baron Corbin, Bobby Lashley and Drew McIntyre wrecking Finn Balor and Elias last week.
Rousey yells at Bliss about Natalya so Bliss offers her a new partner tonight. That’s not happening because Rousey doesn’t trust her so she’ll find a new partner herself.
Video on Baron Corbin’s rise to power and everything that he’s done to everyone. Thankfully we get the awesome voiceover guy to make this a little more interesting.
Chad Gable and Bobby Roode come in to see Corbin and demand a Tag Team Title rematch with AOP. That’s a big negative, but Roode has to beat Drake Maverick in a singles match tonight. Gable and the AOP are banned from ringside so everyone seems happy.
Scott Dawson vs. Gran Metalik
Before we get going, Dawson says that since the House Party can’t understand the point of tag wrestling, he’ll have to explain in a singles match. Jojo: “The following match will take place under Lucha House Party rules!” So yeah, it’s 3-1 instead.
Scott Dawson vs. Lucha House Party
Metalik starts things off and takes Dawson down early on before bringing in Kalisto for the elevated splash. It’s off to Dorado, who gets caught in a Gory Stretch. Wilder gets beaten up as well and some rapid fire tags set up the Salida Del Sol. Metalik drops a rope walk Swanton for the pin at 2:39. I’ve grown to hate these matches more than almost anything else on the show. I mean….yeah this is really stupid. I’m trying to come up with something positive here and it’s not coming to me.
Corbin has a box delivered to him and says he’s going to love it. That he would be Drew McIntyre, who is getting an appreciation night next.
Here’s Corbin (because of course) to host Drew’s appreciation night. Corbin talks about being living proof that you can rise above anything, even if you have some thorns in your side. This man has helped him overcome some of those thorns though, which is why we’re celebrating him tonight. After a video on Drew, here he is in the flesh. Corbin gets straight to the point and hands him the box, containing a gold medal. That’s the Raw Gold Medal of Excellence, now that McIntyre has put Kurt Angle out of action.
Drew talks about coming here seven months ago to change the culture in the locker room. The wrestlers have been in the back playing video games and exchanging compliments with fans on social media. That’s why he’s tried to reshape Raw in his own image. Drew is going to keep doing everything that has gotten him here….and this brings out Dolph Ziggler to interrupt. Ziggler says he brought Drew to Raw but didn’t see him in the video package. Drew was the muscle while Dolph was the brains.
McIntyre isn’t convinced, starting with Dolph not meeting the height requirement. The reality is that Drew was the brains, the muscle and everything rolled into one. This isn’t working for him anymore because Dolph’s role was to get him in a prominent position. McIntyre turns things personal by saying he’s the reason Ziggler was relevant for the first time in ten years. Apparently hurt by the truth, Ziggler punches him in the face and hits the Zig Zag. Ziggler goes to leave but Corbin says it’s match time.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Drew McIntyre
Joined in progress with Ziggler in trouble and being tossed outside. McIntyre sends him into a few things on the floor and takes it back inside for a chinlock. Ziggler fights up so it’s an overhead belly to belly to cut him off again. They head outside again and this time Drew wants a microphone. McIntyre says he’s going to treat Ziggler like someone he doesn’t like, which means some alternating rams into the barricade and then the apron. Cue Balor himself as we take a break.
Back with McIntyre getting two off the reverse Alabama Slam as frustration starts setting in. Ziggler punches his way out of a superplex attempt and hits the running DDT for the double knockdown. As you might expect, the fans aren’t exactly thrilled because Ziggler was a villain until about fifteen minutes ago. Ziggler sends him outside for a running clothesline off the apron but a headbutt gets McIntyre out of trouble. McIntyre sends him back in and the ref gets bumped, allowing Balor to dropkick McIntyre into the barricade. That’s enough for nine as McIntyre dives back in….for a superkick from Ziggler for the pin at 13:19.
Rating: C+. Well, it wasn’t clean. That makes things a little bit better, but there was no reason to not have McIntyre lose via countout here. Ziggler still isn’t the kind of guy who should be getting a big singles pin, especially over someone like McIntyre. That being said, this is far from some death sentence for McIntyre so it’s hardly the worst thing in the world.
Post break Drew promises to have the mountain fall down on Dolph. As for Finn, he’s a marked man.
Here’s a banged up Elias, with his hair down for a change, for a song. After some playing, Elias says he wants to wrap his guitar around Bobby Lashley’s head and at TLC, there will be no more hiding. Cue Lashley and Lio Rush to promise Elias some pain. Bobby strikes some poses including the bending over one, drawing Elias up the ramp for a fight. Elias gets the better of it and sends Lashley into the video wall, leaving Rush to bail. Before he can get too far though, Balor throws him onto the stage so Elias can blast him with the guitar.
Jinder Mahal is in Corbin’s office and offers to beat up Balor tonight. They’re not worried about Braun Strowman showing up tonight. Mahal leaves and here are Rhyno and Heath Slater. Corbin has come to a conclusion: there’s only room for one of them on Raw so one of them needs to quit. Neither will do that so Corbin makes a match between the two of them with the job on the line.
Drake Maverick vs. Bobby Roode
Roode gets in a few shots but we cut to the back where the AOP beats up Chad Gable. Corbin comes in to say he’s changed his mind and it’s now a 3-2 handicap match.
AOP/Drake Maverick vs. Chad Gable/Bobby Roode
Roode is smart enough to hit the Glorious DDT before the AOP can get in but they’re just in time for the save. The beatdown is on in a hurry with the side slam/middle rope stomp combination getting two. Gable comes out holding his neck but gets caught with an atomic drop/big boot combination. The Super Collider lets Maverick pin Roode at 3:49.
Rating: D-. This was an angle instead of a match (that tends to be the case a lot tonight) and I get the big story they’re telling with Corbin being drunk with power and wanting to ruin people who opposed him. That’s fine on paper, but it’s not something that’s working in reality. It comes off as tiresome instead of effective and that’s a bad thing to build the show around. The match wasn’t the worst, mainly because it didn’t include any stupid Maverick segment. That alone keeps it from being the failure that was last week’s match, so at least they’re improving.
We look back at Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose, including Ambrose getting hit shots last week in a segment that gets worse every time I see it.
A bunch of security guards in gas masks come out to escort Ambrose, in a gas mask of his own, to the ring. Ambrose, still in the mask, says you can’t be too careful in a horrible city like Houston so he has some guards to protect him from that madman Seth Rollins. The mask comes off and Dean talks about how Rollins wanted something from him, just like all the people. Like all those people who would always stick their phones in his face to try and add some excitement to their lives.
Seth tried to control him and that’s the worst feeling in the world. Those people are sitting in the crowd right now but none of them have the courage to slap them in the mouth right now. Ambrose is proud to sit in this ring as the moral compass and at TLC, he could take the Intercontinental Title but he’d rather just teach Rollins a lesson. At TLC, Rollins will lose control of himself, his emotions and the Intercontinental Title. Don’t worry though, because he’ll be right there to save the title.
Cue Rollins from behind (at least he wasn’t a guard in disguise) to get in a few shots and then beat up the guards. Ambrose uses the distraction to get out but Rollins chases him down for the brawl. They come back to ringside though and Dean gets in a shot to the face with a gas mask. Ambrose even hits Dirty Deeds on the floor, followed by another inside. This was good but that’s the problem: it’s just good. This feud started off red hot and hasn’t lived up to the hype since then. The match will be very good as these two almost always are, but it’s not what it could have been.
Graves asks Renee about Ambrose again and Renee says how dare he try to find out what happens behind closed doors between a man* and wife. Fair enough.
We look back at the opening sequence.
Rousey has picked Ember Moon as her partner but Nia wishes it was Charly Caruso. Nia yells a lot and promises to injure Rousey just like she did to Becky. For some reason, she screams as I forget that Tamina exists.
Rhyno vs. Heath Slater
Loser gets fired so Rhyno goes straight at him to start and takes Slater, who has kids according to the fans, into the corner. Slater gets a neckbreaker for the pin at 1:07. It’s as sudden as it sounds.
Post break Slater comes up to ask Corbin if there is anything that can be done with Rhyno. That’s not happening, but Slater has a new job: as a referee.
Jinder Mahal vs. Finn Balor
Mahal takes him down into a headlock to start and drops Finn throat first across the top rope. Back from a very early break with Balor fighting out of a chinlock but getting pulled back down into a headlock. Balor is back up with the double stomp to the chest and a Sling Blade. The shotgun dropkick in the corner looks to set up the Coup de Grace but the Singh Brothers get involved to shove him off the top. This brings out Apollo Crews to take care of them but Mahal kicks him in the face. Balor hits a big flip dive, setting up another dropkick and the Coup de Grace finishes Mahal at 7:28.
Rating: D. And hey, it’s another preview for Mixed Match Challenge! Balor has done this kind of thing all season long so they might as well do it all over again here. At least they didn’t go with a stupid Mahal win as it was feeling that way for a little while. It’s sad that this is where Balor is now, but it’s a sign of the times around here.
Post break McIntyre jumps Balor in the back.
Lars Sullivan video.
Ronda Rousey/Ember Moon vs. Nia Jax/Tamina
Rousey walks hard to the ring but gets jumped 2-1 until Moon comes in. A middle rope Codebreaker rocks Nia and Rousey hits a running forearm off the apron to take her down again. Back from a break (with no bell beforehand) with Ember in trouble and Rousey bouncing back and forth on the apron. Ember gets over and makes the tag a few seconds later….and Rousey tags back out after a few kicks to Tamina. Nia loads up the big right hand, which she uses on Ember’s ribs after a quick tease.
Ember hurricanranas her way to freedom but Nia breaks up the hot tag, only to get knocked off the apron by Tamina. That means the hot tag can bring Rousey in for the clotheslines and knees to Tamina, who is knocked into the corner. Rousey demands the tag to Nia so she comes in and tags right back out. Rousey flips Nia back in and then beats Tamina up with the rapid punches in the corner. A jumping knee to the face gets two on Tamina but the Eclipse rocks her again. The armbar makes Tamina tap at 5:57.
Rating: D+. This was exactly what it needed to be with Nia being the loudmouth who won’t actually fight but at the same time, I’m not sure how much WWE can make me buy her as a threat to Rousey at TLC. She’s really living on that one right hand to Becky from a few weeks ago and that’s not exactly a lot of material. At least the ending was the right call here and Moon didn’t get treated like an afterthought again.
Overall Rating: D-. And yet, this was miles better than last week. Last week felt like a bunch of random stuff only loosely tied together. This show was tied together, but it was tied together with such a horribly uninteresting main character and story that almost doesn’t have a payoff because Strowman is nowhere to be seen.
That being said, there was no one segment here that dragged the show down to the depths and there was some watchable enough wrestling to carry things. I know the lack of Reigns has hurt them a lot, but it just goes to show you how risky it is to put everything on Reigns instead of building up other people at the same time. The other problem is they’re building the show around a midcarder who is now a middle management stooge. I need a lot more than that, but WWE is tripling down on Corbin instead of building someone up. That’s not working at the moment and it’s only getting somewhat less worse, not better.
Bayley/Sasha Banks b. Mickie James/Alicia Fox – Bayley to Belly to James
Lucha House Party b. Scott Dawson – Rope walk Swanton
Dolph Ziggler b. Drew McIntyre – Superkick
AOP/Drake Maverick b. Bobby Roode/Chad Gable – Super Collider to Roode
Heath Slater b. Rhyno – Neckbreaker
Finn Balor b. Jinder Mahal – Coup de Grace
Ronda Rousey/Ember Moon b. Tamina/Nia Jax – Armbar to Tamina
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