HEYDORN’S WWE RAW REPORT
DECEMBER 17, 2018
AIRED ON USA NETWORK
Announcers: Michael Cole, Corey Graves, Renee Young
-The show open with a quick intro from Michael Cole that welcomed the audience to WWE Week on the USA Network. From there, Vince McMahon’s music hit and the chairman of WWE hit the ring. McMahon received a huge pop and the audience sung his song as he walked down the ramp.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Pretty amazing that crowds cheer the man directly responsible for the show they claim to dislike.
When he got to the ring, the reaction from the audience was a bit more mixed and McMahon told them he didn’t want to hear any boos. McMahon then said that Monday Night Raw had been on the air for 25 years. He said one reason it was so successful was because they change with the times. From there, he said that despite one man’s vision (himself) he can’t do it by himself any longer. Then, McMahon said “with that in mind” before pointing at the ramp and cuing Stephanie McMahon. Stephanie received a decent pop as well and hugged her father and bowed to him after she entered the ring. When Stephanie’s music stop, the boos rang for her, but Vince told them to be nice. After Stephanie, Vince said “and” and Triple H’s music blared in the arena. Triple H received the biggest pop of all three and was talked up on commentary because of his work with NXT.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Notable pop for Triple H. Bigger than Stephanie and Vince. A testament to the goodwill he has with most wrestling fans nowadays. If that was the goal for him when NXT started, he and Vince hit a home run.
One Triple H got to the ring, he hugged Vince at well and all three cued up Shane McMahon. Just like Triple H and Stephanie, Shane received a big pop too. Shane hugged all three and then grabbed a microphone himself. With all four in the ring, the audience cheered and chanted “Shane O Mac” loudly. Then, Stephanie said they had not been doing a good job lately in listening to their audience. She said that would change and it would start tonight. Triple H then chimed in and said that the four of them would be taking back Monday Night Raw and SmackDown Live. Stephanie then said they would empower their superstars and give the fans what they want. Triple H said they would provide something new and fresh including new faces, new superstars, new match ups. He then called the fans the new Authority. Vince chimed in next and said that as long as they do that, WWE will truly be then, now, and forever.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Interesting announcement, but absolutely no mention of how they would do any of that. The words spoken were fine, but the true insight is regarding the “how” of it all.
When Vince was done talking, his music played again until it was interuppted by Baron Corbin. The audience booed loudly as he said that nobody was more excited for a fresh start than him. As the booing ensued, Stephanie reminding Corbin that they were booing him loudly.
Heydorn’s Analysis: See, I don’t think Stephanie gets to run down Corbin there within the narrative they’ve told with him. She was the reason he was in charge to begin with, right?
Corbin said he was excited that the entire McMahon family would be running Monday Night Raw, but that what happened to him last night at TLC was not fair. He said he wanted to talk and have a conversation about it. As he did, the show went to break. (c)
Out of the break, Corbin was still conversing with the McMahon family regarding what happened to him at TLC. Just like before the break, the audience was relentlessly and loudly booing him. Corbin asked Stephanie to get the audience to stop, but she caused the audience to boo more instead. From there, Corbin kept trying to talk, but the audience chanted “you suck” so he couldn’t speak. He then said that he wasn’t prepared for Braun Strowman last night because he wasn’t supposed to be there. Triple H then pretty much predicted what Corbin would say and said that he wanted them to reconsider him as Raw General Manager. Corbin agreed and asked if they would overturn the ruling last night and make him the permanent Raw GM. The McMahon’s huddled together and each told him “no.” The audience cheered and Corbin asked why not. Then, Vince brought up a point and suggested that maybe they and the fans were wrong and that he deserved to be Raw GM.
Heydorn’s Analysis: One of the things Triple H, Vince, Shane, and Stephanie said was that they would listen to fans and that the fans were the new authority. Literally about 4 minutes later, Triple H said out loud on the microphone that maybe the fans were wrong. Call me confused!
Corbin said that all he needed was a chance and Triple H responded by saying that they would give him that chance. He then said they would make him permanent GM of Raw if he could beat “this man.” As the audience looked up the ramp, Kurt Angle’s music played to a big pop. Then, as the McMahon family was leaving, they announced that Heath Slater would be the special referee. Slater then walked out and shook hands with the McMahon’s before jumping in the ring and starting the match.
(1) BARON CORBIN vs. KURT ANGLE – Heath Slater as guest referee
Out of the gate, both men exchanged strikes before Angle hit Corbin with a German suplex. The show then went to break. (c)
When the show returned from the break, Triple H walked out and made the match a handicap match. From there, Bobby Roode walked out with Chad Gable and Apollo Crews to make the match four on one.
(1b) BARON CORBIN vs. KURT ANGLE, BOBBY ROODE, CHAD GABLE, & APOLLO CREWS – Heath Slater as guest referee
Those three men beat on Corbin and then tossed him back into the ring. Angle was waiting and nailed him with three more German suplexes before tagging Gable into the match. Gable hit a German suplex as well before tagging Bobby Roode into the match. Roode hit a few moves with Gable and then tagged Crews in as the announce team called him the fasted rising superstar in WWE.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Say what? The fasted rising superstar in WWE? C’mon now. How many times has he even been on the show in the last six months?
Eventually, all four superstars stomped Corbin as Heath was distracted. As that was happening, Shane McMahon walked out and made the match a no DQ match. Once they heard that, the referee started beating up Corbin and the rest of his opponents grabbed chairs. From there, they took turns nailing Corbin with chairs to a loud pop from the crowd. Finally, Kurt Angle hit his Angle Slam and covered for the 1,2,3 win.
WINNER: Angle, Roode, Gable, and Crews via pinfall
-After the match, the four winners grabbed a table as the audience chanted “we want tables.” From there, Angle hit an Angle Slam on Corbin through the table. As that happened, the announce team said that that was “finally what the people wanted.” (c)
Heydorn’s Analysis: Not really. This was nearly 30 minutes of straight Baron Corbin. Sure, he was getting beat up, but this didn’t feel fresh to me. The crowd was reacting to it, but it just felt like a better aligned segment to yield a positive crowd reaction. Nothing ground breaking and nothing that screamed “finally what the people wanted.”
-Out of the break, a promo video aired for John Cena winning the Muhammad Ali legacy award from Sports Illustrated.
-After the video, Finn Balor made his entrance to a nice pop from the crowd. As he did, the announcers cued up a video from TLC that detailed the events of last night between Ziggler and Balor. When the video ended, Ziggler hit the ring.
(2) FINN BALOR vs. DOLPH ZIGGLER
Once Ziggler got to the ring, the bell rang and the match began. Both men stood toe to toe to start it off, but eventually Balor took over and got the upper hand after a stomp. The show then went to commercial break. (c)
After the break, the action continued and Balor was firmly in control of the match. He then went for Sling Blade, but it was countered by Ziggler who elbowed him in the face. From there, Ziggler attempted a Fame Asser, but Balor countered. He then successfully hit the Sling Blade and attempted to follow with his corner dropkick, but Ziggler countered with a DDT. From there, Ziggler eventually hit the Zig Zag and made a cover attempt, but Balor kicked out at two. Out of the pin, Ziggler cued up his superkick, but it was interuppted by Drew McIntyre. Ziggler attacked Drew on the outside of the ring and Balor ended up hitting his flipping dive on McIntyre. After, Ziggler attacked Balor again and tried to pin Balor, but only got a two count.
Heydorn’s Analysis: So Ziggler is a babyface against McIntyre and a heel against Balor? That’s not a good position for him. It’s not good for anyone, but worse for him. He has a hard enough time connecting with the audience as it is and now that audience officially has no reason to care about him one way or another.
In the end, McIntyre totally interuppted the match and beat up both Balor and Ziggler. With Balor on the outside of the ring due to Drew, McIntyre viciously beat on Ziggler in the ring. The beating culminated with a Claymore Kick to both Ziggler and Balor. From there, McIntyre walked off and stared them down from the ramp.
WINNER: No decision due to interference
-After the match, Dean Ambrose was shown backstage with his new Intercontinental Championship. He then walked to the ring through the back as the show went to break. (c)
Heydorn’s Analysis: Pretty good TV match for both guys and McIntyre looked great within the beatdown at the end of the show. The angle worked for Balor as the pure babyface. Ziggler’s involvment makes it messy and harder to follow.
-Out of the commercial break, Dean Ambrose hit the ring flanked by men in gas masks. On commentary, Graves said that there must have been a celebration in the Ambrose house and Renee Young agreed, but said “do you really think I’m going to tell you about it.” When Dean got to the ring, he told the audience they should show him respect as they booed him.
He said that everything he predicted would happen at TLC happened. He said that Seth Rollins dropped the ball and failed just like he said he would. From there, Ambrose said he didn’t need anything from the fans because he has the Intercontinental Championship. Ambrose then said he took two titles from Seth, but that he wasn’t finished. He said that when he was done with Seth Rollins, he’d leave Seth with nothing. Ambrose then said he wanted to give Rollins a chance to save face and tell him man to man that he was right.
Heydorn’s Analysis: I like the intensity from Ambrose. When he’s not being goofy, he’s incredibly on point and this promo is a good example of that differentiation.
The audience chanted “Burn It Down,” but Rollins never walked out. Instead, Ambrose offered Rollins a chance to punch him in the face a few times too. Again, Rollins didn’t show and Ambrose told the audience that all Seth was, was a whiner. Ambrose then said that he was going to have an IC Title Open Challenge for anyone in the back NOT named Seth Rollins. Tyler Breeze answered the call and walked down to a very small response from the crowd.
(3) TYLER BREEZE vs. DEAN AMBROSE – WWE Intercontinental Championship Match
As Breeze walked to the ring, Cole put him over big for his match last week on NXT TV. Once he got to the ring, the bell rang and the match began. Out of the gate, Breeze owned Ambrose and stomped him in the corner before drop-kicking him over the top rope. Right after he did that, the show went to break. (c)
Out of the break, Dean Ambrose took full control of the bout. He held Breeze in a sleeper hold and slammed him to the mat each time he attempted an escape. Finally, Breeze did escape and immediatley rolled Ambrose up for a pin. Ambrose kicked out at two, but Breeze followed with a kick to the head. After, Breeze hit Ambrose with a top rope cross body into a pin attempt, but Ambrose kicked out. After that, Breeze hit Ambrose with a second kick to the face as the audience chanted “let’s go Tyler.” In the end, Ambrose connected with Dirty Deeds on Breeze out of nowhere and made the cover for the 1,2,3 win.
WINNER: Ambrose via pinfall
-After the match, Ambrose called his performance one of integrity. He then ran down Rollins a bit before Seth’s music hit. Nobody walked out as the music was playing, but one of the Ambrose SWAT team members stood in the ring and super kicked Dean in the face. Rollins then revealed himself from underneath the mask and attacked Ambrose more.
Heydorn’s Analysis: A to B match that effectively portrayed Ambrose as a viable champion. The post match angle was fun, but it didn’t progress the Ambrose/Rollins story in a meaningful way. Just more of the same. Coming off the lackluster match they had at TLC, they needed something impactful here and this didn’t deliver in that way.
-From there, Shane McMahon was shown backstage. Shane said that opportunity would come knocking for new faces in the WWE. The interview was interupped by Drake Maverick and AOP. Maverick said that their tag titles were stolen and then suggested a rematch. Shane said no to the rematch because it’s an antiquated tradition, but that he would give them an opportunity at the titles if they win a number one contender fatal four-way later in the night. Maverick and AOP then walked off as the show went to break. (c)
Heydorn’s Analysis: The rematch clause stipulation can get tiring at times. That said, it’s rooted in logic which is something Raw desperately needs. Not sure that was the best element to “shake up” at this point.
-After the break, hype videos aired for Lars Sullivan, Lacey Evans, Nikki Cross, EC3, and Heavy Machinery as “new faces on their way” to WWE.
Heydorn’s Analysis: As a whole, I liked these hype videos. It builds interest in the new characters and gives fans a reason to invest initially in them. Lars Sullivan needed to be presented outside of this big batch, however. He’s a character that shouldn’t fall in lockstep with the everyday WWE structure. As a freak, he needs to live outside of the boundaries.
-When the hype videos wrapped, Lio Rush introduced Bobby Lashley like Elias would typically introduce himself. Rush said in the spirit of fresh starts, they wanted to give the fans a performance. Rush said that the greatest music Elias ever heard was the sound of a guitar smashing across the back of him because of Bobby Lashley. Rush said that nobody came to see Elias play a song, but that people did come to see a true work of art from Bobby Lashley. Rush proceeded to tell the audience to silence their phones, hold their applause, and shut their mouths which caused them to boo loudly. After, Lashley put down the guitar and flexed to a chorus of boos from the crowd. From there, the posing continued and Rush made fun of Sacramento over their sports teams before cuing Lashley’s butt pose.
Heydorn’s Analysis: More of this? Eye roll. Nothing fresh here either WWE. Except for the yawns and sounds of folks changing the channel.
Finally, Elias was introduced like he typically is, but instead of sitting on a stool, he smashed Lashley in the back with a guitar. Elias then jawed at Lashley from the ramp. (c)
-Out of the break, a hype video returned for Sami Zayn.
(4) AOP w/ Drake Maverick vs. THE REVIVAL vs. LUCHA HOUSE PARTY vs. THE B TEAM – #1 Contender Match for the Raw Tag Team Championships
After the video, AOP walked out with Drake Maverick. When they got to the ring, the other teams were already waiting and the match began. Axel and Lince Dorado started everything off by dueling with chants until Dorado nailed Axel with a dropkick. From there, the action was fast and furious with each team tagging in for offense when the could. Eventually, AOP settled the match with their own offense as the show went to commercial. (c)
Heydorn’s Analysis: A bit discombobulated to start and the dueling chants to start made everything feel not important. It’s early, but they’re climbing uphill right now.
Out of the break, the pace of the match slowed down Lince Dorado once again battled with Curtis Axel. Eventually, Dorado made the tag to Kalisto who proceeded to hit a flurry of moves on Bo Dallas who entered the match as well. From there, Scott Dawson made a blind tag on Kalisto to enter the match and tossed Kalisto over the top rope. Dallas then flattened Dawson with a body slam before attempting a pin, but Dash stopped the count. The chaos then ensued again with various teams tagging in and out until LHP were tossed over the top rope and onto AOP who were on the outside of the ring.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Big spot there. Credit where credit is due. Good stuff.
In the end, The Revival hit the Shatter Machine on Bo Dallas before covering for the 1,2,3 win.
WINNER: The Revival via pinfall
Heydorn’s Analysis: Pretty much a nothing match, but The Revival winning is a step in the right direction for the tag division on Raw. Roode/Gable vs. The Revival should make for some good matches.
-Seth Rollins was interviewed backstage and said that last night at TLC was a disaster for him on all fronts. He said that he allowed Ambrose to get in his head and take his IC championship. In addition, he said that he heard the crowd and that negative response from them was on him. He said that he loved the business, but it has recently gone off the rails for him. He then said he would right ship and that would start by ending Dean Ambrose. From there, Baron Corbin blamed Seth Rollins for creating all of the “change” on Monday Night Raw. In response, Rollins simply just decked Corbin in the face and walked off. (c)
Heydorn’s Analysis: Loads of heat again for Corbin and the attempt here was to put some of tonight’s “change” on the shoulders of Seth Rollins. Conceptually, that’s fine as Seth is the lead babyface of the brand. In practice though, nothing much has changed at all and fans that Rollins can speak to will see through that narrative making it ineffective.
-After the commercial break, Ronda Rousey hit the ring to a big pop from the crowd. As she walked down, Michael Cole recapped the events of last night at TLC including her match and her involvement in the main event TLC match from SmackDown Live. After the recap, Ronda spoke to a more mixed reaction from the audience. Ronda herself highlighted the events of TLC and alluded to the fact that she made good on what she said she’d do. From there, Ronda said she didn’t come to Raw to justify her actions at TLC. She said she came to define what a real champion is. Ronda then ran down what a real champion truly is and said that a real champion is the best that the human race has to offer. As she said this, the audience loudly chanted “Becky.” Ronda then said she wanted to start a new tradition where after a PPV event, the champion would defend her title. She then called for an open challenge and the camera cut to the backstage area where the Raw women were arguing about who would get the shot. Stephanie stopped the arguing and told everyone to walk out to the ramp with her. When they were out on the ramp, Stephanie said that Ronda would defend the title, but against the winner of an eight woman gauntlet match. Stephanie then announced that match number one would be Bayley vs. Alicia Fox.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Not a bad showing from Ronda Rousey, but it got a little clunky when she started talking about being a real champion. In the end, she got where she needed to go. What’s with the arguing backstage? Too catty for me and unbecoming for most of the babyfaces that were back there doing it.
(5) BAYLEY vs. ALICIA FOX
Both women battled even against one another until Fox attempted a pin on Bayley. Bayley kicked out at two, but after the pin, Fox maintained control with a sleeper hold. The show then went to break. (c)
Out of the break, the action continued and Alicia Fox was still firmly in control of the match. Fox slapped Bayley and taunted her, but Bayley countered by slamming her into the ring post. From there, Fox took over again and crushed Bayley with a boot to the face. Fox covered, but Bayley reversed the pin for the 1,2,3 win.
WINNER: Bayley via pinfall
(6) BAYLEY vs. DANA BROOKE
Brooke hit the ring and immediatley took Bayley down and worked her knee. From there, the referee checked on Bayley, but Brooke kept up the attack and covered, but Bayley kicked out at two. Out of the pin, Brooke locked in a sleeper on Bayley as the audience clapped for her to escape. Eventually, Bayley connected with the Bayley to Belly for the 1,2,3 win.
WINNER: Bayley via pinfall
-After the match, the show went to a commercial break. (c)
Heydorn’s Analysis: I like the run that Bayley is on, but these matches leave a lot to be desired.
(7) BAYLEY vs. MICKIE JAMES
After the commercial break, the match was underway and Bayley was getting dominated once again. James then attempted to hang Bayley up on the ropes with her knees, but Bayley moved to counter. She then made a cover on James, but only got a two count. Out of the pin, James connected with a sidewalk slam before she kipped up and climbed to the top rope. From there, James jumped off for a move, but Bayley countered. The counter was short lived as James immediatley kicked her right in the face. At that point, James called for her finish, but Bayley countered with a back suplex. After, Bayley tried to climb to the top rope, but slipped off because of her bad knee. Eventually, she successfully made the climb and hit James with a top rope cross body. After that, Bayley climbed the top rope again and hit James with an elbow drop. Bayley then immediatley covered, but James grabbed the ropes to stop the count. In the end, James wore Bayley down and made the cover for the 1,2,3 win.
WINNER: James via pinfall
Heydorn’s Analysis: Best match by far at this point. Bayley did a nice job of selling her exhaustion and James was effective in delivering her final blow. Good stuff.
(8) EMBER MOON vs. MICKIE JAMES
Moon hit the ring with fire, but was quickly taken down by James. James owned the match from there and connected with successful strikes until Moon took over with a cross body. The action then proceeded to move to the outside of the ring where James slammed Moon’s face into the apron. The show then went to break. (c)
After the commercial, the match continued with Moon slamming James to the mat. From there, both women exchanged punches and strikes in the middle of the ring until Moon got the upper hand with a step up enziguri. After, Moon attempted a running splash in the corner, but James moved out of the way and rolled up Moon for a two count in which she used the ropes. Out of the pin, James climbed to the top rope and jumped off for a move. Moon countered with a knee strike and then nailed James with the Eclipse for the 1,2,3 win.
WINNER: Moon via pinfall
Heydorn’s Analysis: Nobody sells the Eclipse like Mickie James. Perfect.
(9) EMBER MOON vs. NATALYA
Nattie furiously hit the ring, but couldn’t gain momentum. Moon proceeded to lock in a rear chin lock and held it in place until Nattie lifted Moon on her shoulders to counter. In the end, Nattie countered Moon’s Eclipse and nailed her with her Discus Clothesline. Then, after some battle back and forth, Nattie rolled Moon up for the 1,2,3 win.
WINNER: Natalya via pinfall
(10) NATALYA vs. RUBY RIOTT
The Riott Squad’s music played and as they walked to the ring, the show switched to commercial. (c)
Out of the break, Riott held momentum until Nattie slammed her to the mat with a body slam. Nattie’s momentum was quick as Riott took her down with a clothesline right after and followed that with stiff kicks to Nattie’s midsection. Riott dominated the bout from this point forward. In the end, Nattie reversed Riott’s reverse Senton and covered for the 1,2,3 win.
WINNER: Natalya via pinfall
(12) NATALYA vs. SASHA BANKS
Banks hit the ring and immediatley hit Nattie with a stiff knee to the face. Banks gloated a bit and Nattie took advantage by shouldering her into the corner. Banks escaped and went to the top rope for the Meteora, but Nattie countered. From there, both women battled and Banks connected with a tilt a whirl DDT. As both laid on the mat, the show went to break. (c)
After the break, the action continued as Nattie connected with a low basement dropkick. Nattie then attempted the Sharpshooter, but Banks countered it into a roll up pin, but only got a two count. Out of that pin, Nattie connected with another clothesline and made a cover herself, but Banks kicked out at two. Right after that pin attempt, Nattie locked in the Sharpshooter to a decent pop from the crowd. Banks writhed in pain and went to the ropes, but Nattie pulled her back into the middle of the ring. Finally, Sasha flipped Natalya into the ring post to break the hold.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Big bump there from Nattie. Hope she’s ok.
Once Sasha got back to her feet, she locked in a half Boston crab. Nattie screamed in pain and escaped, but Banks countered that escaped into the Banks Statement. Nattie proceeded to escape that too and got some space from Sasha by hitting her with a release German suplex. From there, Banks connected with her top rope Meteora and covered, but Nattie kicked out at two. In the end, Nattie locked in the Sharpshooter and Banks tapped out.
WINNER: Natalya via submission
-After the match, Nattie showed respect to Banks as Ronda walked out to meet her in the ring. As Natalya posed on the ropes she confronted Ronda, but Ronda showed respect to Nattie and raised her arm in victory. After, Ronda held out her arm to shake Nattie’s hand and Nattie obliged. Both women then hugged before leaving the ring together.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Not the greatest gauntlet match in the world, but not the worst either. Nattie vs. Ronda is a good television match and its smart to give it some hype a week out.
-While Rousey and Nattie walked up the ramp, the announce team plugged next week’s Raw matches including Baron Corbin vs. Seth Rollins, Natalya vs. Ronda Rousey, and Finn Balor vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Drew McIntyre. The show then faded to black.
FINAL THOUGHTS: This show was an incredible miss by WWE. You can’t admit your own show’s downfalls, claim to shake things up to fix those downfalls “starting tonight” and not deliver on that in any way shape or form. It’s too big of a promise to your audience. Bad form all around.
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S REPORT: HEYDORN’S WWE RAW REPORT 12/10: Alt Perspective coverage of the live show including final hype for TLC, Rollins addresses Ambrose and the state of Raw, Rousey and Jax face off, and more