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KELLER’S WWE RAW REPORT
DECEMBER 3, 2018
AIRED ON USA NETWORK
Announcers: Michael Cole, Corey Graves, Renee Young
Tonight after WWE Raw, join me live with guest cohost Rich Fann to break down the show with live callers, mailbag, and an on-site correspondent from Houston, Tex.
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-They opened with Jo Jo paying tribute to the late President George H.W. Bush followed by a ten bell salute.
-Then they went to the generic WWE brand video intro. (I still miss the Raw-specific theme.)
-Ronda Rousey walked out with her WWE Women’s Title belt to start ring entrances for the advertised Rousey & Natalya vs. Nia Jax & Tamina match. She smiled and waved at the fans. Cole hyped that she’d defend her title against Nia Jax at TLC in two weeks. Out next was Natalya. Cole talked about their friendship, and how Natalya has had issues with the Riott Squad lately. Rousey and Natalya hugged. (They’re laying their friendship on thick, a precursor to a turn in pro wrestling.) They went to the announcers on camera who talked about the opening match. Then Nia Jax and Tamina made their ring entrance. They replayed Natalya running out to save Rousey from a Riott Squad attack last week.
The Riott Squad walked out, which distracted Rousey and Natalya. Tamina and Jax attacked Rousey and Natalya. Natalya was knocked to the floor. Then Tamina yanked Rousey to the floor by her leg and then they double-teamed her. The Riott Squad further attacked Natalya on the other side of the ring. They set up a table at ringside and powerbombed Natalya off the ring apron through the table. No crowd pop (which is good, since it means they’re upset with the babyface getting hurt instead of cheering a “big spot.”) Jax and Tamina left while all smiles. Then Riott Squad retreated while all smiles also. Rousey went out to check on Natalya as referees tended to her. She was holding her elbow. [c]
-They replayed what happened before the break.
-They cut backstage to Rousey helping Natalya sit on a storage crate. Rousey nastily shouted, “Can we get some help here?!” Medics showed up as Natalya favored her right elbow and left hip or ribs.
(Keller’s Analysis: They didn’t do a very good job addressing the ramifications of this situation, and whether the advertised match would actually occur pending a Natalya update.)
-Alexa Bliss walked out. She said her Open Forum last week didn’t go according to plan. “Let’s try it again, shall we?” she said. Then she said this is the fans’ chance to learn what makes Sasha Banks and Bayley tick. Sasha came out first. Then Bayley. They sat mid-ring (as fans began having flashbacks to last week’s dismal show.) Alexa asked who had the first question. Bayley asked how many questions they’ll answer before Alicia Fox, Dana Brooke, and Mickie James attack them. Bliss apologized for that
A fan at ringside asked how they respond to social media comments that “Sasha is using Bayley.” Sasha sarcastically said, “Oh, Bayley, you’re not supposed to find out. You’re not supposed to find out I’m going to stab you in the back. This is so embarrassing.” She then said they had a great weekend together in Texas and shook hands. Sasha said they are best friends and are going to be tag team partners for life. Bliss said that was sweet and cute. Another fan asked which wrestler from the past would they like to have a match with. They both said together “Trish & Lita at WrestleMania.” Bliss threw to another question. The fan asked what superpower they’d want. Bayley said she’d make things disappear and start with Bliss. Bayley ran around her stool in celebration. Bliss said she disappointed her yet again. Sasha said she agreed with Bayley’s superpower. Bliss threw in that she took Sasha’s title, then moved on to another fan question. This fan asked what changes they’ll bring to the Raw Women’s Division in 2019. Bayley said they had an amazing first-ever all-women’s PPV. She said they want to be the first-ever WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions. Dana, Fox, and Mickie ran out. Bliss stopped them and said this won’t happen on her watch again. She said since they’re so eager to fight, there will be a tag team match tonight with Mickie & Fox vs. Bayley & Sasha. [c]
(1) SASHA & BAYLEY vs. ALICIA FOX & MICKIE JAMES
They stayed with the action in the ring on split-screen, a first-time for Raw, as they aired a short single commercial. Graves said it’s ridiculous Banks & Bayley want to win titles that don’t exist. Graves said he wants to be President of Connecticut. Cole wondered if Bob Backlund was that once. Mickie got pinned after a Bank Statement and Bayley-to-Belly in quick sequence. Bliss clapped at ringside, but looked like she was chewing on a sour lemon candy as she did it.
WINNERS: Banks & Bayley in 4:00.
-Cole hyped that Dean Ambrose is inoculated and is “ready to appear in front of the WWE Universe here live tonight on Raw.”
-They cut to highlights of Corbin, Bobby Lashley, and Drew McIntyre attacking Elias and Finn Balor last week. The announcers said Corbin has decided to christen this “Drew McIntyre Appreciation Night.” Plus, Graves said Corbin will assume total control of Raw in two weeks, and they’ll take an inspirational look at his rise to power next. (Oh, goodie!) [c]
-They showed Morgan Waller, a country singer, in the front row. Cole said he’ll be at Tribute to the Troops.
-Backstage Rousey yelled at Bliss and said the Riott Squad crossed a line. She said she had no idea that was going to happen and she sent the Riott Squad home. Rousey said she wants to get her hands on Jax and Tamina tonight. Bliss said she cannot do that in good conscience without a partner. Rousey said that everyone knows she doesn’t have a conscience and she’ll go find a new tag partner.
(Keller’s Analysis: This is a good hook for the rest of the program. I thought it was odd when they appeared to star the show with Rousey’s match.)
-A narrated video aired on Corbin with the narrator touting everyone should be on the right side of history and that he would soon be the permanent G.M. Graves then hyped Corbin vs. Braun Strowman at TLC.
-Corbin was backstage looking inside a folder (a nice break from texting). In walked Chad Gable and Bobby Roode. They said they wanted a rematch against AOP. Roode said he’d do anything to get his hands on Drake Maverick. Corbin said they already lost to AOP, so they have to earn another match by Roode beating Drake. Roode asked what the catch was. Corbin said not to believe everyone who says he’s a bad guy. Corbin did say Gable and AOP are banned from ringside. Roode looked on suspiciously, but said okay and they walked off.
-Lucha House Party made their ring entrance. Cole said they are on the verge of WrestleMania season. He plugged tickets for Raw and Smackdown in Brooklyn, N.Y. next week. LHP brought piñata’s with them. [c]
(2) SCOTT DAWSON (w/Dash Wilder) vs. LUCHA HOUSE PARTY (Gran Metalik & Kalisto & Lince Dorado)
After the break, The Revival walked out. Dawson complained about LHP not respecting tag team wrestling. He said if they can’t respect their lessons in tag team wrestling, he’ll teach them a lesson in a traditional one-on-one match tonight. Then Jo Jo announced the singles match would be fought under Lucha House Party Rules, which means all three LHP members can compete. Graves complained. Cole said to complain to management because somebody is making the rules. LHP triple-teamed Dawson and eventually pinned him after a series of rapid-fire flashy moves. Renee asked Graves if he was at least entertained. Graves said, “No, I’m a stickler for the rules.” (Good for Corey!)
WINNER(S): LHP in 3:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: This would potentially be funny if there was any semblance of plausibility for how this could be an official rule when Raw is run by heel G.M. Corbin and Stephanie, and if they had done more with the Revival to build up their heel image so this felt like some sort of payback or justice.)
-An intern presented Corbin with something in a box. Corbin said it’s perfect and Drew will love it. Corbin then yelled at the intern. “Why are you still here? Make sure everything is ready for Drew McIntyre Appreciation Day.” Graves wondered if it was a Rolex. [c]
-A Smackdown commercial hyped the contract signing for the first-ever Women’s Triple Threat TLC match tomorrow night.
-Cole congratulated Titus O’Neal for making the Ebony 100 list.
-Corbin stood mid-ring. He said he is living proof that if you are born better than everyone else, you can achieve anything. He said he’s had some thorns in his side along the way – The Shield, Balor, Kurt Angle, and Braun. He said with the help of one person, his journey has been pain-free lately. He said tonight is therefore Drew McIntyre Appreciation Night. A video played of Drew’s recent attacks. Corbin then introduced him.
-As Drew walked out, Cole said Drew has aimed to change the culture in the locker room since he arrived. Graves said he’s been molding WWE into his image of what he wants the WWE Universe to look like. Corbin presented Drew with a golden medal in a fancy box. Corbin said now that he has ridden WWE of Angle, WWE needs a new Gold Medalist. He said he is appointing him the new Gold Medalist of Excellence. Drew said when he arrived seven months ago, wrestlers were playing video games on their phones and were just happy to collect a paycheck. He said they were retweeting compliments of fans “like they belonged in the audience, not on my damn roster.” He said that’s why he decided to reform Raw in his image focused on those willing to give 150 percent seven days per week, not just on Mondays. He said he’s doing a very good, apparently, given his gold medal award. He said Balor likes to think of himself as the voice of the pathetic people in the crowd. He said he is best at telling the truth, and Balor is nothing more than a boy in a man’s world, and at TLC, he will hurt him and break is spirit. He was interrupted by the Dolph Ziggler record scratch noise.
Ziggler said he brought Drew to Raw. “I was the brains, you were the muscle,” he said. He wondered if his invite to this party got lost. Drew said the truth is he was never invited. The crowd “ohhhh’d.” He apologized and said he doesn’t quite meet the height requirements. He looked over at Corbin. He asked if this was starting to hurt his feelings. He said he’s going to drop another truth bomb – he was always the brains and the muscle and the talent “and the whole damn package.” He said this business relationship was working for him, but it’s not working for him anymore. He said if he wants to know his role, it was to get him in a prominent position. He said he did it and he succeeded “for once in your life.” He thanked him and then whisked him away with his hand. He asked if he was going to cry. “You should be kissing my feet,” he said. “I am the reason you became relevant for the first time in ten years.” Ziggler heard enough and attacked Drew and gave him a Zig Zag. Minor pop from the crowd. Drew pounded on the mat in frustration and then held his back. Corbin told Ziggler that he’s not going to come down there and ruin Drew Appreciation Night. He said if he wants to fight, it starts now. Graves said he thought he’d never see this match.
(Keller’s Analysis: I’m not sure if being dumped by Drew is a way to get Ziggler over as a babyface any more than it worked for Seth Rollins when he was dumped by The Authority. Then again, the plan here might not be focused at all on helping Ziggler, but rather exclusively forwarding Drew.) [c]
(3) DREW MCINTYRE vs. DOLPH ZIGGLER
The match was joined in progress. Drew yelled at Ziggler that he just couldn’t walk away. He catapulted him into the ringpost. Ziggler bumped to the floor. Graves said this is a “what have you done for me lately industry,” and Drew got what he needed out of Ziggler. Drew settled into an armbar. Drew tossed Ziggler over his head and chopped him down afterward. Ziggler rolled to the floor. Drew said he might still have a soft spot for Ziggler. He said he’s taking it too easy, so he’ll pretend he’s Finn Balor. He drove Ziggler into the ring apron and then the ringside barricade. He stood over him and smiled. After throwing him into the ring, he fended off a flailing Ziggler comeback attempt. Balor then walked out onto the stage. They cut to a break as Balor walked to ringside. [c]
Cole said Balor coming to ringside allowed Ziggler a momentary comeback when Drew got distracted. Drew was on the attack when Ziggler caught him with an elbow. Then he gave him a boot to the face and an elbow to the head. He gave Drew an Alabama Slam and scored a believable near fall. Drew kept looking down at Balor between moves. Ziggler made a comeback and leaped off the apron with a flying forearm. He pounded away at Drew. The crowd didn’t seem to be rallying behind Ziggler much, though. Drew came back and dropped Ziggler crotch-first over the ringside barricade. Graves said this is Drew sending a message to Balor, who is looking on. Renee said it’s a message for the entire locker room. After Drew threw Ziggler into the ring, Balor surprised Drew with a dropkick at ringside. The ref didn’t see it as he was checking on Ziggler. The ref began to count Drew out at ringside. Drew barely beat the count. Ziggler superkicked Drew and scored the three count. Cole said Drew is fuming mad headed into his match against Balor at TLC, and that may not be good for Balor.
WINNER: Ziggler in 15:00.
-Renee plugged the Rousey tag match with a mystery partner later. Graves plugged the Ambrose appearance later. Then Cole commented on clips of Lashley spearing Elias at ringside last week. They showed Elias backstage looking very serious. [c]
-Backstage Charlie Caruso caught up with Drew and asked if he really thinks it’s smart to turn on Ziggler when other WWE wrestlers are targeting him. Drew said Ziggler was never his friend, he was an asset and a means to an end, but now he’s an enemy. He said Ziggler isn’t celebrating his victory, he’s terrified. He said Ziggler knows how sick and twisted and can be. He said he can’t use him to climb the mountain because he is the mountain. He said Balor is marked man. He stormed off.
(Keller’s Analysis: Drew is a throwback because he’s not trying to be clever and he’s just playing his role like a man on a mission who wants to reach the top of WWE. Doing it the way he’s doing it makes him a heel, but it’s a great example of how effective it can be when the cleverness is erased and it becomes about winning matches and an ego out of control on a mission to reach the top.)
-Elias sat mid-ring with his guitar. He said he wants to wrap his guitar around Lashley’s head, “but in this arena, he’s harder to find than Carmello Anthony.” He said he can see the fear Lashley carries around with him, and he’s carried it around for a long time, but at TLC there will be no hiding. He said everybody knows WWE stands for “Walk With Elias” and Lashley will learn that at TLC. He said he has a song to sing. He asked politely for everyone to silence their cell phones until he is finished. He was interrupted early by Lio Rush’s grating voice.
Rush stood on the stage with “the almighty Bobby Lashley.” He said as much as he’d like to hear Elias play a song, the spotlight tonight belongs to Lashley. He narrated Lashley’s various poses. They cut to Elias who was trying to untangle his hair caught in the guitar strings. When they got to Lashley’s favorite pose, bending over, Elias charged with his guitar. Lashley kicked him on the stage as Elias wound up the guitar. He beat him down and whipped him into the video wall. Elias came back with his guitar and chased Lashley away. Balor shoved Rush onto the stage. Elias bashed him with a chair.
-Backstage Jinder Mahal told Corbin not to let what happened stress him out. He said he’s doing a great job with Raw. He said he will put an end to Strowman at TLC and he should ignore the rumors that he’s showing up tonight. He told him to let him take care of Balor for him. Corbin said he can have his shot at Balor. Corbin said he’s not worried about Braun showing up because he’s “a one-armed man.” Corbin invited Heath Slater & Rhyno into the ring. Corbin said after crunching some numbers, he has come to a conclusion. He looked at his notebook and said there’s only enough room on Raw for one of them. He said he’d be fair and let one of them quit to save the other guy’s job. Slater said he can’t quit because he has a family and kids. Rhyno said he’s worked hard for everything in his career and he can’t just quit. Corbin said then they will wrestle later and the loser is fired. “What a jerk!” exclaimed Renee. [c]
(4) BOBBY ROODE vs. DRAKE MAVERICK
Drake threw his jacket at Roode, but that didn’t help much. Roode dominated early. The big screen then showed AOP attacking Gable backstage. Corbin then walked in and said he changed his mind, and he’s making it a three-on-two handicapped match. He sent AOP to the ring because “it’s already started.”
(4B) BOBBY ROODE & CHAD GABLE vs. AOP & DRAKE MAVERICK
Roode quickly delivered a DDT on Drake to try to score a quick pin as AOP charged to the ring, but AOP got to the ring to break up the cover. Graves said the beating is an example of why it’s best to be on the right side of history when it comes to Corbin. A couple minutes into the beatdown, Gable made his way to the ring and put up a fight, but was no match for both AOP teammates. They delivered a Super Collider to both Roode and Gable mid-ring. Drake asked for the tag. He tumbled into the ring and made the cover and got the three count on Roode.
WINNERS: AOP & Maverick in 8:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Corbin’s abuse of power like this seems destined to come back to haunt him at some point, right?)
-They aired a clip of Dean last week getting inoculated. [c]
-WWE Superstars Fact: Before joining WWE, Jax was a star basketball player in high school and college including a winning team at the Pacific Coast Conference Championship. (You know, just in case any of you were wondering if she’s got an athletic background which offsets some of her mistakes in the ring so far.)
-They went to the announcers on camera. Cole congratulated Cena for winning the Muhammad Ali Legacy Award. Cole touted his work with Make-a-Wish. He said Magic Johnson, Jack Nicholas, Jim Brown, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Bill Russell were among the prior winners.
-Six men in gas masks walked out onto the stage in Shield-style gear as sirens sounded. Then Ambrose made his way out to his music as the sirens continued. Cole called it one of the strangest things he’s ever seen. Dean wore the gas mask to the ring. Graves said Dream finds the fans filthy and disgusting. Ambrose stood in the ring with his mask on and brought the mic up to his mouth. Graves said it’s bizarre as Dean breathed Darth Vader-like. He told fans they can all be seated now. He apologized for the drastic measures, “but you can’t be too safe in a dangerous slum like Houston, Texas.” He said he has to protect himself from whatever diseases they might be carrying, but also he needs protection from that madman Seth Rollins. He took off his gas mask and snarled.
Dean said the last time he was in the ring, he was viciously attacked by Seth unprovoked. He admitted to saying things to trigger Seth before, and for someone who fancies himself an architect, he was pretty easy to rattle and set off. “He was just like all you people, needy and emotional.” Boos. He said Seth always wanted something from him, just like the fans, sticking cameras in his face to get pictures, “trying to add something exciting to your miserable lives.” He asked if they know what it’s like to live with someone who always has to be in control and always needs to get his way. He said if people in the crowd had any guts, they’d slap that person sitting next to them who is like that. He asked if there are any takers. “You don’t have guts, you have weak character,” he said. He said the biggest scumbag on the planet is Seth, but fans high-five him because he makes them feel important. “It’s disgusting,” he said.
He said he was once a proud member of The Shield, but then Seth and Roman started sucking up to the fans. He said they changed and sold out, but he is the last man in the industry with integrity because he didn’t change. Fans chanted, “We Want Rollins!” He said you can’t always get what you want in life. He declared himself the moral compass of WWE. He said the fans probably don’t even know what that means “because schools aren’t that good in Houston, are they?” He said he could take the WWE Title by force at TLC, but that would be too easy. He looked into the camera and said he wants Seth to listen to what’s going to happen to him at TLC. He said Seth will lose control of himself and his emotions and the situation and ultimately his IC Title. He said nobody should worry because their precious, prestigious championship will fall safely into his hands. Seth’s “Burn it Down!” blared.
The SWAT Team walked up the ramp, but Seth came out through the crowd instead and threw Dean out of the ring. Renee said Seth has lost control, just as Dean said he would. Seth then fended off the SWAT Team members. He threw one onto the crowd of them at ringside, then dove through the ropes. Dean threw the SWAT guy in Seth’s path, then tried to run off. Seth caught up with him and pounded away at him. Dean made a comeback and threw Seth into the ringside area. Seth came back and launched himself onto Dean in the crowd. Back at ringside, Seth leaped at Dean again, but Dean bashed Seth out of mid-air with a gas mask. Seth went down, grabbing his mouth. Fans chanted “You suck!” at Dean as he took it to Seth with a Dirty Deeds on the floor. He left Seth lying on the mat and then said, “I have integrity, I have integrity.” The SWAT Team threw Seth into the ring. Dean paced around him. He delivered another Dirty Deeds mid-ring. Some fans briefly chanted “One more time.” Dean’s music then played. [c]
-The announcers commented on Dean’s attack on Seth. Graves said Dean becomes more and more unhinged. He asked Renee what’s going on. She said she is in a bit of precarious situation. She said no one is entitled to know what goes on behind closed doors between a husband and wife. “How dare you!” she said. Graves backed off. Cole said they’d respect Renee’s privacy. Renee crossed her arms. Cole shifted to commenting on clips of the angle earlier that took Natalya out of her tag match.
(Keller’s Analysis: The overall angle worked well. Seth put up a fight, but fell prey to a gas mask. Dean was believably heelish. He might have been too Houston-focused in his insults, which doesn’t resonate with the rest of the country, though. Dean is always entertaining, but this version of him is more “main event” and less zany and mid-card than his prior incarnation as a babyface.)
-Caruso revealed to Tamina and Jax that Rousey would be teaming with Ember Moon. Jax said that’s disappointing because they were hoping Caruso would be Rousey’s partner tonight. She said that might sound ridiculous, but anyone being Rousey’s partner is ridiculous. Jax said she knows why Ember is joining Ronda – because Jax eliminated her in the women’s battle royal. She said tonight they’re going to see Ember’s face because she can’t attack from behind, so they’ll rearrange her appearance “just as I did with Becky.” She said then they’ll isolate Rousey because she can’t be 100 percent after the beating Charlotte gave her at Survivor Series and the beating they gave her earlier on Raw. She said she’s on a historic path to reclaiming what is hers. “Mine!” she shouted, over-modulating badly into the mic. She stared down at an intimidated Caruso.
(5) HEATH SLATER vs. RHYNO – Winner Stay on Raw, Loses Is Fired
Slater is Rhyno walked out together, but they looked like they were bickering over who should have quit first. Rhyno attacked Slater at the bell. Slater came back a minute later when he avoided a charging Rhyno and then delivered a neckbreaker for the win. Graves said you have to feel terrible for Rhyno. Renee wondered what he’d do next.
WINNER: Slater in 1:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Not sure where this is going, if anywhere. I wasn’t shocked the match was super-short, but Rhyno losing so quickly did lessen the sense that Raw is actually losing something worthwhile on the roster.) [c]
-Selfie promos aired with Naomi & Uso and then Miz & Asuka.
-Backstage Corbin applauded Slater after his win. Slater asked if there is anything he can do for Rhyno. Corbin said he should just do his job. He said he has a new uniform for him. He gave him a referee t-shirt. Corbin said his days as a wrestler are over, but he can have a long career as a referee. Renee said Corbin makes him sick. (But Dean’s comments about the fans and Seth and Roman didn’t?)
(6) FINN BALOR vs. JINDER MAHAL (w/The Singh Brothers)
During his entrance, Renee said the ruthless side of Balor is serving him well. Jinder didn’t get a ring entrance on TV; he was already in the ring. Jinder took control early. When Cole complimented Balor for not joining Corbin since he disagreed with him, Graves said, “There is plenty of room for heroes on the wrong side of history.” They cut to a break after Jinder sent Balor to the floor. [c]
Jinder had Balor grounded after the break. When Balor made a comeback, Sunil shoved him off the top rope. The Singh Brothers celebrated at ringside and danced. Apollo Crews ran out and clotheslined one and threw the other onto the other. Jinder kicked Crews. Balor flip dove at Jinder and almost landed on his head. Balor rallied in the ring and landed the Coup de Grace for the win.
WINNER: Balor in 8:00. [c]
-Backstage, Caruso began to interview Balor. Drew attacked him just as he began to talk about what a night he’d had. Two referees ran out and pulled Drew off of Balor. Drew said he could finish him right now, but he’ll wait. He backed away as the refs yelled at him, but then pounced on Balor again. He yelled intensely at Balor. Producer Adam Pearce pried himself between them. Referees led him away.
-They went to the announcers who commented on the pending arrival of Lars Sullivan. Cole said he’s one of the most sought after free agents in WWE history. He said Stephanie and Shane are both vying for his services and “he is a game changer.” Graves said he has fists the size of cinder blocks.
(7) EMBER MOON & RONDA ROUSEY vs. TAMINA & NIA JAX
Tamina and Jax came out first. Then Rousey with her determined look. And finally Ember Moon. Graves wondered if Moon will be enough to help her fend off Jax and Tamina. All four brawled early. Ember and Rousey cleared the ring of the heels and got fired up in the ring as the heel duo regrouped. [c]
Back live, Moon took it to Tamina, then tagged in Rousey. Rousey took Tamina down and kneed her in the chin as she sat up. Moon tagged in and slammed Tamina’s face into the mat and scored a two count. After isolating Moon for a while, Moon finally tagged out to Rousey. Rousey demanded Jax tag in. Jax entered but then quickly tagged back out to Tamina. Boos. Rousey yanked Jax into the ring. Tamina, though, was legal and she went after Rousey. Rousey fought back and punched away at Tamina with aggression. She hit a flying elbow to the side of Tamina’s face and then a spinning kick. Nia broke up the pin. Moon recovered and joined in. Tamina rolled up Rousey from behind. Moon delivered an Eclipse on Tamina and then Rousey put her in an armbar. Tamina tapped out frantically.
WINNERS: Rousey & Moon.
(Keller’s Analysis: Heated action to close out the show.)