Monday Night Raw – December 31, 2018

Monday Night Raw
Date: December 31, 2018
Location: Little Caesars Arena, Detroit, Michigan
Commentators: Michael Cole, Corey Graves, Renee Young

We’re taped this week for the second time in a row, which has to be the first time in at least several years, assuming two of the UK shows didn’t take place back to back at some point. The big deal tonight is a cage match between Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre, because that was a story that needed to go on for the better part of nine months, assuming it ends tonight. Let’s get to it.

The cage is lowered to start.

Dolph Ziggler vs. Drew McIntyre

In a cage with pinfall, submission or escape to win. Ziggler has thankfully lost the record scratch at the start of his song. An early escape attempt doesn’t work for Ziggler and Drew chops the heck out of him. That and a delayed vertical suplex are enough to put Dolph down for some writhing on the mat.

Dolph’s early comeback is cut off by the Glasgow Kiss but he catches Drew on top. That means a series of rams into the cage but Drew kicks the knee out for a crotching. Back from a break with Drew demanding that Ziggler fight and being set into the cage for his efforts. The superkick gives Ziggler two but Drew pulls him back inside. A double headbutt puts them both down again but Drew is up first, only to have Ziggler slam the cage door on his head.

The Fameasser gets two and we take a break. Back again with McIntyre superplexing him off the top of the cage and then sending Ziggler face first into the cage. The Claymore takes Dolph’s head off but Drew would rather sit and look instead of cover. Another Claymore finishes Ziggler at 19:29.

Rating: C+. It’s a good win for McIntyre but it’s way past time for this feud to be over. McIntyre is better than Ziggler and they need to move him on to something else already. They’ve been at this for months now and McIntyre has gotten everything he can from Ziggler. That doesn’t mean it’s stopping, but it means that it should.

Post match Drew isn’t done as he puts a chair in front of Ziggler’s head and Claymores it into Ziggler’s head, driving it into the cage. Drew says that he’s going to win the Royal Rumble and leaves, but comes back as Ziggler was sitting up in the chair. That means another Claymore to leave Ziggler laying. Ok are we done with these two now? I mean we should have been three months ago but are we done now?

Time for some New Year’s Resolutions.

Finn Balor wants the Universal Title back.

Ember Moon wants to win the Royal Rumble.

Ascension wants to bring back the Fashion Files. And win the Tag Team Titles.

Lucha House Party wants it to be their year.

Here’s Seth Rollins for a chat. He wants a fresh start this year but that’s the case every single week on Raw because things move so fast. However, he has a guaranteed rematch for the Intercontinental Title and wants to use that right now. Cue HHH to say that it’s a new day in WWE and those automatic rematches are gone. On top of that, Rollins doesn’t really deserve a shot right now.

That’s hard for HHH to say because he’s always supported Rollins, which Rollins isn’t letting slip by. HHH talks about how Rollins made him believe in him but HHH is done handing things out. Rollins loses it over that, saying that he never wanted things handed to him. While Brock Lesnar was up in Canada doing whatever Lesnar does, Rollins was out here having classics with everyone from Finn Balor to Dolph Ziggler to MOJO RAWLEY.

HHH wants the old Rollins back and tonight he can burn it down against Bobby Lashley. That’s cool with Seth, who is taking Lashley down tonight, then Dean Ambrose and the Intercontinental Title, and then the Universal Title. If HHH and his family gets in his way, they’re being taken down too. This brings out Shane McMahon to say that Rollins needs to leave, because we’ve got a battle royal with the winner getting an Intercontinental Title shot later tonight and it starts right now.

Battle Royal

Finn Balor, No Way Jose, Viktor, Konnor, Kalisto, Gran Metalik, Lince Dorado, Titus O’Neil, Apollo Crews, Zack Ryder, Mojo Rawley, Tyler Breeze, Curtis Axel, Bo Dallas, Curt Hawkins, Baron Corbin

This is dubbed the Fresh Start battle royal. It’s a brawl to start with Jose hitting an airplane spin on Viktor. Crews eliminates both of them and then puts the B Team on the apron. Some dropkicks have Konnor in trouble and things slow down a lot. Kalisto puts Kalisto on the apron but the House Party gets together to eliminate him. Back from a break with Balor eliminating Metalik by knocking him off the top and then sending the other members of the House Part to the apron.

They’re both thrown out by Balor but Crews then gets rid of the B Team, Konnor and Rawley in a rush. Breeze follows them out for Crews’ seventh elimination until Corbin chokeslams Crews down. Balor dropkicks away as we’re down to five with Balor cleaning house. Corbin gets in a shot from behind though and dumps Balor, leaving us with Corbin, Ryder, Hawkins and Crews.

Ryder gets in some hope spots but Corbin backdrops him to the floor to cut him off. Hawkins and Corbin have the staredown with the fans getting behind Hawkins, even as he’s thrown to the apron. Renee: “Take that haters.” Of course he’s out shortly thereafter to gt us down to two. Corbin throws Crews to the apron but Crews gets back in, allowing Corbin to try the slide underneath the ropes. That’s cut off by a jumping enziguri though, followed by a second to give Apollo the win at 11:38.

Rating: D+. Not much to this one, though they did a good job of making Crews look like a star in the whole thing. There’s nothing to be gained by having him just hang around until the ending and then win by eliminating one person, but Crews got rid of half of the field, which is quite the feat. Now of course that doesn’t matter if he loses badly to Dean tonight, which is about what you have to know is coming. Oh and Corbin in a battle royal is fine, as long as he doesn’t talk.

Post match Crews says that’s what he’s been looking for and it’s finally here after 364 days. Tonight, he wants the title.

Natalya talks about how great this year has been, including last week’s title match against Ronda Rousey. This has been a rollercoaster year and she wants the Raw Women’s Title, which is why she’s entering the Royal Rumble. Nia Jax comes in to say Ronda might not be the champion by then. Something might derail Natalya’s plans too, and here’s Tamina to jump her from behind. Nia: “Where’s your best friend now Natalya?”

Corbin is still in the ring after a break (ERG!) and rants about how hard his job was as General Manager because he had so much to do. This brings out Elias to play some Auld Lang Syne and call Corbin a loser. He was talking to Kid Rock earlier in the day and they agreed that spending New Year’s Eve with Corbin was a bad idea.

Detroit is making a comeback and now that Elias is here it can be ready to roll like never before. Elias’ song is about how Corbin sucks but it doesn’t matter because he’s in Detroit Rock City. The fight is on and they fight into the crowd for a bit before going back to ringside with Elias getting the better of it. If this is as high as Corbin gets, I can live with it.

Drake Maverick and the AOP promise to make the new year even more brutal. Akam pops a balloon.

The Riott Squad isn’t changing because no one ever changes.

Zack Ryder wants to win and collect action figures.

No Way Jose wants a party.

Bayley/Sasha Banks/Ember Moon vs. Riott Squad

Banks takes Logan into the corner to start as the announcers talk about Logan eating a deer heart at her viking wedding over the weekend. Ember comes in to roll Ruby (who has gotten a big haircut) up a few times, followed by a hard dropkick for two more. It’s off to Morgan to kick Moon in the face and then stomp her down in the corner. The Squad triple stomps away so Bayley and Banks come in for the brawl as we take a break.

Back with Bayley getting hiptossed but armdragging Morgan down to take over again. It’s off to Banks for an attempt at the double knees in the corner but Morgan is up in time to take her down instead. Ruby’s chinlock doesn’t go anywhere so Morgan comes back in and runs Banks down for two and some loud screaming. Banks slips out of a backslide and kicks her in the face but the numbers game gets the better of her Moon has to come in for a save and dives onto Morgan and Riott on the floor. That leave Bayley to make a blind tag and it’s the Backstabber into the top rope elbow for the pin on Logan at 12:30.

Rating: C+. DO! SOMETHING! ELSE!!! Good grief how many months has we spent watching Banks/Bayley/a friend of the month vs. the Riott Squad? They have the same match against each other over and over as we wait for them to be in the next big gimmick match on pay per view. How is anyone supposed to benefit from this? Well other than the writers who get to take this segment off every week of course.

We look at Braun Strowman’s year.

Seth Rollins vs. Bobby Lashley

Lashley wants a fresh start so there’s no posing tonight. He’s a fighter and tonight he’s going to fight. Lashley runs him over to start but Seth slugs away to get a breather. An enziguri staggers Lashley and a running knee to the back sends him outside. That means a slingshot forearm but a Rush distraction lets Lashley take over again. The nerve hold doesn’t last long as Rollins jawbreaks his way to freedom but he stops to go after Rush. That means a hurricanrana into the post and we take a break.

Back with Lashley holding a chinlock until he lets go for some posing. Rollins gets dropped onto his shoulder for two more but the delayed vertical suplex is escaped. Some right hands and a Sling Blade put Lashley on the floor. The suicide dives keep Lashley in trouble and the springboard clothesline gets two. Rush offers another distraction though and this time Rollins chases him to the timekeeper’s area. Rollins finally clotheslines him down but gets jumped by Lashley. That’s enough for Rollins, who hits him with a chair for the DQ at 9:38.

Rating: C. They’re trying to build Rollins up but just let him have a match he can win if you want him to work. Rollins got over huge in the first place because he had the most energetic matches on the show but now he’s swatting at Rush like a fly and losing to Lashley. Just let him win here as Lashley losing to a former World Champion isn’t going to derail him. He can do the post match beatdown after a win and still be fine.

Post match Rollins destroys both of them with the chair.

John Cena is back next week.

Remember that video where we see the same six NXT names over and over? Well here it is again.

Jinder Mahal/Singh Brothers vs. Heath Slater/Rhyno

So Rhyno, the hometown boy, is already back after what, three weeks of being fired? It’s no Kevin Owens quitting one week and being back the next but still not great. Slater punches away at Mahal to start but gets driven into the corner for the series of right hands. Sumir comes in for some elbows and dancing but it’s quickly off to Rhyno for the house cleaning. A belly to belly plants both Singhs and it’s time for the Gore. Sunil grabs the foot though and Mahal adds a superkick. The Khallas is good for the pin on Rhyno at 2:59. That was the most necessary match I’ve seen in years.

Ambrose says he doesn’t need to have a fresh start because he’s great right now. He’s not about to have Crews get some feel good moment to begin the year.

Bobby Roode and Chad Gable want to shut up the Revival for good next week so the division can be glorious.

The Revival wants to bring credibility back to the division.

Bayley and Sasha want to win the Tag Team Titles.

Intercontinental Title: Dean Ambrose vs. Apollo Crews

Crews is challenging and dropkicks Dean in the face for talking too much trash. A sunset flip and a rollup give Apollo two each and a clothesline puts Dean on the floor. That means a moonsault from the apron and we take a break. Back with Apollo fighting out of a chinlock and getting two off a small package. A double clothesline puts them both down but it’s Apollo up first with a kick to the head.

The Toss Powerbomb is broken up but Crews settles for two off a standing shooting star pres. A belly to belly sends Dean into the corner and now the Toss Powerbomb connects for two with Dean grabbing the ropes. Dean bails to the floor but gets caught with a flip dive. Back in and the frog splash misses, allowing Dean to hit Dirty Deeds to retain at 9:15.

Rating: C. Well thanks for pushing Apollo for about two hours. It sure was nice to have him do the same offense he always does before Dean pinned him to retain the title. At some point they need to push someone and having them lose like this isn’t the way to do it. I’m sure he gets points for losing or something, but either don’t put him in the match or have him win.

Alexa Bliss is proud of her time running the Raw women’s division but that time has come to an end. Next week, she’ll be debuting her own talk show called A Moment of Bliss. Her first guest will be Ronda Rousey, and Ronda better dress for the occasion because she won’t be in a pit.

Brock Lesnar is back next week.

Nia Jax/Tamina vs. Ronda Rousey/Natalya

Ronda wastes no time and starts the fight in a hurry before dropping Tamina. Nia comes in and has to fight off an armbar. That’s finally shoved away and it’s off to Natalya for a snap suplex on Tamina. Nia pulls Tamina outside but Ronda dives onto both of them to send us to a break. Back with Natalya in trouble and Nia sending her into the corner. The pull out of the corner is even worse and gives Nia two as it’s off to the chinlock.

Natalya scores with a crossbody though and the hot tag brings in Rousey to clean house. A jumping elbow gives Rousey two on Nia but she throws Rousey down again. The super Samoan drop is broken up so Tamina makes a blind tag and kicks Rousey in the face for two. The armbar on Tamina is broken up with the legdrop and Tamina superkicks Natalya to the floor. Tamina misses the Superfly Splash and gets armbarred for the tap at 12:21.

Rating: D. Oh no. This really didn’t work as it was every match we’ve seen Rousey have with these two. OH NO! THEY HIT HER REALLY HARD AND HOW CAN SHE EVER GET AND THERE’S THE ARMBAR! This was a lifeless main event and I was so bored sitting through it after a long show already. Bad ending to the show, which isn’t the way to end the year.

Overall Rating: C-. This show felt rather self contained as it came off more like a holding pattern for next week than anything else. That being said, given how low the viewership is going to be for this due to the holiday, that’s not the worst idea in the world. Next week’s show is stacked though and it should be a good start on the way towards the Rumble. Nothing of note to see this week, though Drew winning is a good sign.


Drew McIntyre b. Dolph Ziggler – Claymore

Apollo Crews won a battle royal last eliminating Baron Corbin

Bayley/Sasha Banks/Ember Moon b. Riott Squad – Top rope elbow to Logan

Bobby Lashley b. Seth Rollins via DQ when Rollins used a chair

Jinder Mahal/Singh Brothers b. Heath Slater/Rhyno – Khallas to Rhyno

Dean Ambrose b. Apollo Crews – Dirty Deeds

Ronda Rousey/Natalya b. Nia Jax/Tamina – Armbar to Tamina

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