Welcome to the post-TLC, official start of the road to Royal Rumble, RAW review. Vince McMahon will be visiting to ‘shake things up’, Dolph Ziggler faces Finn Balor, after their backstage altercation at TLC, and everything else boils down to fall out from TLC or the build-up to Royal Rumble.
I’m Amanda, and this is your guide to Monday Night RAW.
Kurt Angle def. Baron Corbin
Finn Balor def. Dolph Ziggler
Dean Ambrose def. Tyler Breeze
The Revival def. The B-Team, AOP, and Lucha House Party
Eight-woman Gauntlet match: Bayley def. Alicia Fox > Bayley def. Dana Brooke > Mickie James def. Bayley > Ember Moon def. Mickie James > Natalya def. Ember Moon > Natalya def. Ruby Riott > Natalya def. Sasha Banks
The Best Bits
» Vince McMahon opened the show as expected. He played off the crowd a bit then said everyone wants to know what’s going on with Monday Night RAW, and tonight we’ll find out. He talked about RAW having been on air for 25 years because they change with the time, and about how, despite his brilliance creativity and vision, he couldn’t do it on his own anymore. Then he brought out Stephanie McMahon, Triple H, and finally Shane McMahon.
Between them they said they’re there because they haven’t been doing a very good job recently. They haven’t been listening to the audience, they’ve let middle managers air their petty grievances they’ve been suffocating their superstars and it’s going to change.
The days of absentee management are over and the four of them will be taking over Monday Night RAW and SmackDown Live. They’re going to empower the superstars, empower the audience and give fans what we want. In the coming months, there will be new faces, new superstars, new matchups. As of now, the WWE universe is the authority.
Vince McMahon got the closing line – ‘As long as we give you less of what you don’t want and more of what you do, WWE will always be Then, Now, Forever.’
Baron Corbin came out and said no one is more excited for a fresh start than him. Stephanie McMahon pointed out the crowd were booing him. Corbin did some prime sucking up then said what happened to him at TLC wasn’t fair and they needed to talk about it.
There was a really oddly placed ad break while Corbin was talking. When we rejoined, Shane McMahon was holding his mic up to amplify the crowd’s boos and Corbin was trying to say it was a minority. The McMahons and Triple H took turns encouraging them.
Corbin said ‘do you have no respect’ to the crowd and their reaction was booing and a ‘you suck’ chant. He said every night he does his best and tries to motivate superstars, it’s not his fault if they can’t live up to the challenge. Strowman wasn’t supposed to be there last night, Corbin wasn’t prepared, especially for all the people he brought with him. It wasn’t fair.
Triple H told Corbin he knows that he was trying to say last night was a huge miscarriage of justice and he wants them to reconsider him as permanent General Manager.
He said yes, he would have beaten Braun Strowman without all the other superstars who joined him, the asked them to overturn the ruling and make him permanent GM.
The all took a turn in saying no, then Vince McMahon said there might be a way. They huddled up then Triple H said Vince, being the genius he is, raised a good point. Maybe everyone’s wrong and he deserves a chance to prove himself. If he wins tonight, he can be permanent General Manager. If he can beat… Kurt Angle.
As the McMahons left, Stephanie introduced a special guest referee, Heath Slater.
Baron Corbin vs Kurt Angle – The match went to an ad break a minute in, and when we returned Triple H came out and said that with all the confusion and loud booing he forgot to mention it was a handicap match, then brought out Bobby Roode, Chad Gable and Apollo Crews.
It was all downhill for Corbin from then. He took suplexes from Angle and Gable, then Roode and Crews had a turn. Corbin tried to escape through the crowd and was hauled back into the ring. Heath Slater turned his back to fix a turnbuckle while they all beat him down.
Shane McMahon came out and made the match No DQ. Everyone left Corbin laying in the ring while they went to get chairs and Heath Slater put the boot in to keep him down. When they were done with the chairs, the crowd asked for tables. Corbin took everyone’s finisher instead with Angle taking the final turn, delivering and Angle-Slam for the pin.
After the match, Roode and Gable and Crews got a table and Kurt Angle Angle-Slammed Corbin through it.
» Finn Balor vs Dolph Ziggler was a fantastic match, and why wouldn’t it be. It got time to develop, there was a reason for it, all that good stuff. Sadly, it didn’t get a clean finish. Drew McIntyre appeared, Ziggler met him as he got to the apron and they started to brawl. As McIntyre pushed Ziggler away Balor sailed over Ziggler’s head onto him. Balor and Ziggler picked up the match and Drew McIntyre got into the ring and clotheslined Balor to cause the disqualification then started beating on Ziggler. Once Ziggler had been felled by a Claymore, Balor got one too and McIntyre left.
» New Intercontinental Champion, Dean Ambrose, still has his gas mask men. He said, ‘the more things change the more they stay the same’. People should be showing him some respect. He called everyone vermin then said everything he said would happen at TLC happened. Rollins spun out of control and dropped the ball. He failed himself and he failed the people. Ambrose doesn’t need respect, he has the IC title. It wasn’t long ago Rollins had two titles and now he has none. Ambrose said he took the most important thing to Rollins and he’s not done. When he’s done Rollins will have nothing left. He’s going to take Rollins career, and drag his reputation through the mud.
But, because he’s the moral compass of WWE, he gave Rollins the opportunity to come out and tell him he was right. It’s not enough to know it, he needs to hear Rollins say it. Rollins didn’t come out, so Ambrose put out an open challenge, not for the title, just an opportunity for Rollins to punch him in the face a few more times. Rollins still didn’t come out and Ambrose said, since Rollins doesn’t have the guts to come out, he’d have an Intercontinental open challenge for anyone but Seth Rollins. Tyler Breeze answered it.
Dean Ambrose vs Tyler Breeze – Intercontinental Championship open challenge – This was a lot of fun, I’m into Breeze answering all open challenges from now (he answered Ricochet’s on NXT last week). Breeze had some good chances as he should, Breeze is often cited as one of the most underrated and underutilised superstars in WWE, with good reason. Good as he was, it wasn’t Breeze’s night. Ambrose pinned him with Dirty Deeds to retain the title.
After the match, Ambrose said that was the performance of an Intercontinental champion. Finally, Rollins music hit, and it turned out that Rollins had been one of the gas mask men all along. He attacked Ambrose from behind and pounded on him until he managed to escape when the gas mask men jumped on him.
» Ronda Rousey addressed her actions at the end of TLC when she tipped Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch off a ladder. She said she told Nia Jax she could kiss that right hand she’s so proud of goodbye, she told Charlotte Flair she would write their next chapter and she told Becky Lynch that she’s the last woman on earth she should provoke.
But she wasn’t there to justify her actions, she was there to define what a real champion is. She did in a really long-winded way. The short version is that a real champion is the best of the best. She thinks there should be a new tradition of champions defending their titles the night after a PPV and set an open challenge. The cameras cut to the women’s division backstage, all shouting for their music to be played. Stephanie McMahon appeared and ordered them all out onto the stage. She told Rousey all the women want a shot and they all deserve one. So Rousey will defend, next week on the (pre-recorded) Christmas Eve show, against the winner of an eight-woman gauntlet match, starting immediately.
Alicia Fox vs Bayley started the gauntlet and it went on a bit long for the first in a gauntlet. Not that is wasn’t good. It was, Bayley and Fox are an entertaining combination. This time Bayley got the win and moved on to the next competitor.
Bayley vs Dana Brooke was next, and Brooke offered no respite to Bayley. She came in hard and didn’t give Bayley chance to get her bearings. Bayley’s knee was clearly causing her trouble. This one was much shorter. Bayley caught Brooke in a Bayley to Belly and got the pin despite Brooke having most of the offence.
Bayley vs Mickie James was going on when we returned. It’s not a surprise that James was in control, Bayley had been through a fair bit by then. Bayley fought hard, but the punishment she’d taken in the other two matches caught up with her and Mickie James pinned her off a DDT.
Mickie James vs Ember Moon was so much fun to watch. I wish it had got more time, but there’s a lot to get through in a gauntlet match. Ember Moon got the win with an Eclipse.
Ember Moon vs Natalya was up next Natalya pinned Ember Moon with a roll-up to set up a rematch of sorts from TLC. Shame, Ember Moon vs Ronda Rousey would have been a blast.
Natalya vs Ruby Riott, of course, meant Natalya versus the Riott Squad. Liv Morgan took a cheap shot during the ads, other than that they were just a threatening presence. This was too long considering they had a match 24 hours before. Natalya got the pin with another roll-up.
Natalya vs Sasha Banks was the final match of the gauntlet. A DDT from Banks nearly won the match for her early, but Natalya kicked out. Banks spent a long time in the Sharpshooter, barely managing to send Natalya into the turnbuckle to get out. Natalya spent a while in the Bank Statement, and wouldn’t tap. Double knees from the top didn’t put Natalya away and Banks couldn’t get the Bank Statement back on. Natalya managed to get Banks in the Sharpshooter again and Sasha Banks tapped out.
Ronda Rousey wandered down to the ring while Natalya was celebrating and raised her hand and gave her a hug. They had a stare-down and shook hands then left together. Natalya came back out to the stage to celebrate alone on the stage to close the show.
The Other Bits
» Some of the call-ups have been announced as coming to WWE (brand not specified). Lacey Evans and Nikki Cross will be joining the women’s division. Lars Sullivan and EC3 will be added to the men’s roster, and Heavy Machinery are joining the tag division. Short promo packages were shown for each of them. It was also announced, via video packages, that Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens will be returning soon.
» Bobby Lashley and Lio Rush, mainly Rush, did an Elias style segment, with Lashley holding a heavily broken up guitar, before Lashley ran through his poses finishing with the bent over butt display. Elias was announced, and he hit Lashley over the head with a guitar then legged it.
» Shane McMahon was telling Charly Caruso that the new regime means new faces and new opportunities on both brands but there will be some difficult decisions, when Drake Maverick interrupted and introduced himself and AOP. Maverick asked for AOP’s mandatory rematch, McMahon said that system is antiquated, especially since they got handed the titles in the first place. Instead, they will have an opportunity against The B-Team, The Revival, and Lucha House Party, in a fatal four-way.
AOP vs The B-Team vs The Revival vs Lucha House Party was supposed to be a single member of any two teams in the ring at any one time, but these things never work like that after the first minute. Drake Maverick was still whinging as he led AOP to the ring. It was a fun to watch match, complete chaos in places. Everyone got a chance to get a bit of something in. Dash Wilder pinned Bo Dallas to make The Revival number one contenders.
» Seth Rollins said TLC was a disaster. He let Ambrose get inside his head and take his Intercontinental Championship. And he heard the crowd last night, he heard everything they said (there were ‘this is boring’ and ‘Becky Lynch’ chants during the match), and that’s all on him. He’s got to take responsibility for it, own it, and move forward. This is his life and what he loves, and it’s gone off the rails. But he’s going to right the ship and that starts with him ending Dean Ambrose. Baron Corbin interrupted and accused Rollins of being the cause of all his problems and the reason the McMahons are back in charge. All the things Ambrose said about him were true. Rollins punched him in the face.
Next week we get Baron Corbin versus Seth Rollins, a Miracle on 34th Street Fight between Bobby Lashley and Elias, and an appearance from Paul Heyman as well as the RAW Women’s Championship match between Rousey and Natalya. Are WWE really going to give the fans what they want? Who knows, but tonight The Revival won a title opportunity, Tyler Breeze had a title match, and the women’s division got a whole hour. It’s a pretty good start.