Welcome to the WWE Raw Deal review for the Christmas Eve edition of Raw. This is going to be a condensed review that is about half of what I normally write. I was thinking of skipping it altogether, but I don't like missing a week even though Christmas is a good reason to skip it. By condensed review, I mean I won’t be writing the details for the matches, but I’ll watch them and give thoughts on the outcomes as well as star ratings. If it bothers you that I’m taking it easy this week, I’m sorry. There’s a lot going on in my life including my biggest column of the year in a few days (the 10th annual WWE Johnny Awards), so I feel like it’s a good time to write less than usual. Merry Christmas. Let’s roll.
Live (on tape) from Sacramento, California (for the second week in a row), this is the Raw Deal for episode #1334 of Monday Night Raw. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. If you want to support us at TJRWrestling, here’s a Donate Link for our Paypal to contribute in some way to help us grow the site. Thanks to Melo Man for the banner up top.
There was an opening video package about the matches coming up later. There was a shot of the crowd in Sacramento where this was taped after last week’s Raw. The announcers are Michael Cole, Corey Graves and Renee Young as usual.
Elias did one of his pre-match songs ripping on Bobby Lashley, who was his opponent.
Miracle on 34th Street Fight: Elias vs. Bobby Lashley (w/Lio Rush)
They had a gimmick match with Christmas trees and gifts around ringside. Elias sent Lashley into the steps leading to a break.
One of the big bumps was Lashley taking a bump onto Legos. Yes, that’s right, the deadly Lego bump. Shortly after that, Elias shoved Lashley into Rush, who bumped off the apron onto a table at ringside. Elias also unwrapped a bowling ball gift and rolled it into the groin of Lashley. Ouch. Elias unwrapped a cello from a box, hit Lashley in the back with it and Elias covered to win after about 13 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Elias
Analysis: ** It was a decent match with the face Elias going over, which is what you would expect in a match like this. The crowd seemed to be into it and enjoyed the use of “presents” as weapons to help Elias get the win. Lashley looked like a loser during this. That's the role of the heel in this kind of match, though.
Post match, Elias dumped a bowl of eggnog onto Rush.
A video aired from last week showing the McMahons speech about “new” and “fresh” things coming to Raw and Smackdown.
Heath Slater did a pre-taped promo saying he wanted his best friend Rhyno back on Raw.
Raw Tag Team Championships: Bobby Roode and Chad Gable vs. The Revival (Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder)
The face team of Roode and Gable were in control early on. Gable with a headscissors on Dawson, he tossed Wilder across the ring, then The Revival hit a double team stun gun on the top rope leading to a break.
The Revival isolated Gable leading to Roode getting the hot tag. Roode was on fire with suplexes on both guys and a spinebuster on Wilder that got a two count. Cole said, “Revival kicks out.” That’s not the name of the guy, Cole. Gable tagged back in and hit a rolling German Suplex for two. The Revival got an awesome nearfall with an uppercut into a German Suplex for nearfall with Roode making the save. Gable countered a Dawson suplex into an inside cradle for the pinfall win at around 11 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Bobby Roode and Chad Gable
Analysis: *** It was a pretty good match with the champs retaining in a competitive match. The last few minutes after Roode’s hot tag were excellent with a lot of good nearfalls for both sides. Gable was the star of the match with some cool moves.
After the match was over, Graves and Cole noted that Gable pinned Dawson even though Wilder was legal, so there could be a rematch down the road.
There were pre-taped promos from Lucha House Party, Heath Slater (he wanted to win a match for Christmas) and No Way Jose is still on this show saying that he wants to party with Santa Claus at the North Pole.
A video aired about NXT stars coming to WWE’s main roster soon. Same video as last week.
Drew McIntyre made his entrance for a triple threat match.
A video aired letting us know Kevin Owens is returning soon. Same video as last week. KO has been out with double knee surgery.
Drew McIntyre did a pre-match promo about winning the Royal Rumble and then winning the main event of WrestleMania.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Finn Balor vs. Drew McIntyre
Ziggler and Balor worked together briefly with a double clothesline that sent McIntyre out of the ring. Balor managed to send Ziggler out of the ring with a clothesline. McIntyre got back into it by sending Balor into the barricade and a slam on Ziggler on the apron leading to a break.
McIntyre was in control of the match as he worked over Ziggler, then tossed him out and McIntyre worked over Balor. Balor got back into it with a stomp to the chest, dropkick to the back and he went up top for the Coup de Grace, but McIntyre moved and Ziggler hit a Zig Zag on Balor for two. McIntyre got back into it with a reverse Alabama Slam on Ziggler onto Balor for a two count. Ziggler with a superkick on McIntyre and Balor broke it up with a Coup de Grace. Balor with a dropkick on Ziggler and up top for the Coup de Grace on Ziggler for the pinfall win after 12 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Finn Balor
Analysis: **3/4 It was a standard triple threat match with two guys in the ring for most of it, the other guy on the floor and then an exciting sequence to end the match. I’m a bit surprised by the outcome because I figured McIntyre would get the win. There is that rumor out there about Balor receiving a push, though, so maybe there is some truth to that. I am not surprised that Ziggler took the fall.
After the match, McIntyre told Ziggler he’s screwing everything up because he’s trying to save this place and there’s not enough room here for both of them. Ziggler hit a Zig Zag on McIntyre to leave standing tall. They have a match next week.
A video package aired about WWE’s Tribute to the Troops event from last week. Read my review of that event here in case you missed it.
Santa Vince McMahon was backstage in a chair. He said that the “Greatest of All Time” John Cena is back on Raw and Smackdown. They piped in crowd noise reacting to it. Vince also announced Women’s Tag Team Championships coming in the new year. Vince announced Ziggler vs. McIntyre in a Steel Cage Match next week on Raw. After it was over, Vince took off the Santa gear and asked if we’ve seen Bad Santa. I have, and I love it.
— WWE (@WWE) December 25, 2018
Analysis: The big news there is the announcement of the Women’s Tag Team Titles finally being announced. They did exist briefly in the 1980s, but they were not that prominent. Women’s Tag Team Titles are something fans have wanted for a few years. I thought they would have started earlier this year, but next year is fine. John Cena’s return should provide a ratings boost.
Sasha Banks, Bayley and Ember Moon vs. Mickie James, Alicia Fox and Dana Brooke
Moon was dominant early in the match with a kick on Fox, then dive onto James on the floor and Fox came back with a boot to Moon’s face leading to a break.
The heels were still in control as they worked over Moon. Bayley got the tag with a belly to back suplex on Brooke. Bayley sent James face first into the turnbuckle. Banks finally tagged in to no reaction. Banks hit the jumping knee to the face off the top that looked rough, but James is okay. Moon hit the Eclipse on Fox. Banks hit the Backstabber on James, Bayley got the tag and hit the Bayley to Belly suplex on James for the pinfall win after about eight minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Sasha Banks, Bayley and Ember Moon
Analysis: *1/4 It was a below average tag team match. It feels like they do this tag team match every week or every other week with different women in the spots. Anyway, the faces getting the win was expected. Banks and Bayley are among the favorites to be the first Women’s Tag Team Champions. I would have preferred to see Fox or Brooke as the heel that got pinned, but I guess it doesn't matter that much.
The Riott Squad trio of Ruby Riott, Sarah Logan and Liv Morgan beat up the faces and tossed them out of the ring. That should lead to another six-woman tag team match next week.
Paul Heyman Celebrates The Holidays
Paul Heyman was in the ring to celebrate the holidays. He sang his own version of “Silent Night” while singing that Brock Lesnar will not get those hands from Braun Strowman. Heyman added that Lesnar is your Christmas Grinch. Heyman killed time in a promo saying that there’s no way Santa is going to deliver Braun Strowman a Universal Title at the expense of Brock Lesnar. He said Strowman will get a lump of coal from Santa, so here comes Strowman.
Braun Strowman entered to a big pop with his surgically repaired right elbow taped up and with an elbow pad on it. Strowman got in the ring to intimidate Heyman. Strowman put a red nose on Heyman along with reindeer “ears” while noting that it’s Paul Heyman the red-nosed advocate. Strowman said that at the Royal Rumble he’ll be healed up and Lesnar will get these hands.
Analysis: There wasn’t much to this. Heyman is good at filling time with his promos, but I was bored by this. This was just a very basic segment to kill some time on a three-hour show.
Natalya did a pre-match interview about her match with her friend Ronda Rousey. Natalya noted that she helped train Ronda, so nobody knows Ronda as good as her.
PLUG TIME: The 10th Annual WWE Johnny Awards are coming this week, so please check out our polls for the awards. The winners of the polls don’t win the awards. The winners are my picks and will be announced in a column on December 27 (or maybe the 28th)...The WWF in 2000 reviews are posted in our WWF in 2000 section.
More Christmas wishes: Alexa Bliss said she didn’t need anything from Santa because she’s perfect. She would like Santa to give Bayley a personality, Sasha Banks some humility, Nattie’s a lost cause that Santa can’t help and she wants to give Ronda some good makeup. Merry Blissmas!...Tyler Breeze said he wants a speedy recovery for his best friend Fandango and a couple of Ariana Grande tickets. He was told he could only get one of those things, so he said he wants the tickets. Good luck.
Raw Women’s Championship: Ronda Rousey vs. Natalya
There was a slow pace to start the match with Rousey showing frustration at not being able to get going due to Natalya countering Rousey’s moves. Each woman went for submission holds in the first few minutes. When Natalya wanted a Sharpshooter, Rousey kicked her out of the ring and that led to a break.
The match returned with Natalya in full control by hitting a clothesline, trapping Rousey in an abdominal stretch, a dropkick and a suplex. Rousey came back with an impressive running knee that got a two count. Rousey was acting like she didn’t want to hurt her friend, so that became the story with Rousey looking reluctant to unleash her offense on Natalya. Rousey fought off a Sharpshooter and hit the Piper’s Pit slam. Natalya came back with a Sharpshooter, Rousey tripped Natalya up and Rousey slapped on the armbar with Natalya tapping out to give Rousey the win. They went 16 minutes.
Winner by submission: Ronda Rousey
Analysis: ***1/4 That was pretty good. It was one of Rousey’s best singles matches so far. The result was not surprising since it’s Rousey and we know she’s going to win. I’m interested to see if Natalya turns heel soon because she can’t beat Rousey, so that leads to another title match at the Royal Rumble. Natalya had that long match during the Gauntlet Match earlier this same night and then this match, which was awesome. Great showing by her.
Post match, Rousey and Natalya hugged in the ring to show they are still friends.
Dean Ambrose did a backstage promo saying he got the Christmas gift he deserved, the IC Title. Ambrose talked trash about Seth Rollins. Not much to it.
A clip aired for “Fighting with my Family” showing the scene of the Paige character and her brother talking to The Rock backstage.
The Sami Zayn “returning soon” video aired.
Heath Slater vs. Jinder Mahal (w/Samir and Sunil Singh)
Mahal had Slater grounded with a headlock and somebody dressed as Santa Claus was in the crowd tossing out gifts. Slater got back up and hit a jumping side kick, so the Singhs went into the ring to attack for the DQ after two minutes.
Winner by disqualification: Heath Slater
Analysis: 1/4* The best part about this match is that it was short.
Santa went into the ring and told Mahal and the Singhs to calm down. The fans started a “Santa” chant. Santa and Slater tossed the Singhs out of the ring. Santa hit Mahal with a Gore and Santa was Rhyno, so he’s back with Slater.
Analysis: Welcome back to Rhyno. His "firing" didn’t last long. Shocking.
There were several Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas backstage segments. They weren’t funny.
Next week on Raw: Dolph Ziggler vs. Baron Corbin in a Steel Cage match. Plus, another reminder that John Cena returns to Raw and Smackdown in the new year.
Analysis: Next week’s Raw is taped in Detroit on Friday. Smackdown is taped in Pittsburgh on Saturday.
The same video about the NXT stars going to the main roster aired for the second time in the show. I guess they had more time to fill.
Seth Rollins made his entrance for the main event.
There were more Christmas wishes with Apollo Crews saying he wants a tank to flip over and then moonsault over it…The Ascension said they wish to punish their opponents. Yawn.…Kurt Angle said Christmas came early when he made sure that Baron Corbin did not become the permanent GM of Raw.
Seth Rollins vs. Baron Corbin
Corbin is still wrestling in his dress shirt and slacks. These guys did a TLC match two weeks ago on Raw. This week it’s a regular match. Rollins hit a suicide dive on the floor in the first minute. Rollins managed to hit another suicide dive shortly after. When Rollins went up top, Corbin punched him, Rollins bumped to the floor and that led to a break.
Corbin was in full control when they returned from the break. After a few minutes of Corbin’s sleep-inducing chinlocks, Rollins hit a Blockbuster neckbreaker. A Falcon Arrow by Rollins got a two count. Corbin hit a Deep Six slam and a Chokeslam backbreaker with each move getting a two count. Rollins sent Corbin into the ring post, kick to the face and The Stomp for the pinfall win after about 13 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Seth Rollins
Analysis: **1/4 The match was okay. It was like a house show match. They could have set up some better nearfalls towards the end of the match. Corbin matches are boring and even a guy as good as Rollins has a tough time to make it exciting sometimes. It was basic stuff with the heel in control, Rollins made the big comeback and got the predictable win.
Rollins celebrated the win and that was it for Christmas Eve Raw.
Three Stars of the Show
- Ronda Rousey
- Finn Balor
5.5 out of 10
Last week: 5.5
2018 Average: 5.62
Last 5 Weeks: 5.5, 5, 4.5, 2.5, 4
2018 High: 8 (February 19)
2018 Low: 2.5 (November 26)
I give it a 5.5 out of 10.
It was an average Raw with a few matches around the three-star level, so that was nice. There wasn’t much in terms of storyline development or promos, but for a taped Christmas show it was easy to get through.
The most newsworthy item about the show is that Women's Tag Team Title are coming in 2019. They should have announced it next week during the live Raw to make it more of a bigger deal, but it's fine to do it here.
— WWE (@WWE) December 17, 2018
The next WWE pay-per-view is Royal Rumble on Sunday, January 27 in Phoenix. Here’s what we know so far.
Men’s Royal Rumble Match (R-Truth is #30)
Women’s Royal Rumble Match (Carmella is #30)
Universal Championship: Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Braun Strowman
A typical Raw Deal review is about 7,000 words. My goal was to make this about half of that and that’s what it was.
You can contact me using any of the methods below. See ya next time for the Smackdown review. Go Los Angeles Rams, Toronto Raptors and Toronto Maple Leafs. They’re all good! Thanks for reading.
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