WWE Raw Report (12/31/18) - Taped in Detroit, MI

WWE Raw Results - 12/31/18
Taped in Detroit, MI
Report by: Wade Keller, pwtorch.com

They opened with a wide shot of the center of the arena with a cage lowering over the ring. Cole introduced the show, saying it would be a marquee match kicking off Raw. Cole said Drew McIntyre has entered the Royal Rumble match. Cole was struggling with a hoarse voice himself (I’m not alone, then.) Graves said the winner of the Rumble faces “a champion of his choosing in a main event of WrestleMania.”

(1) DOLPH ZIGGLER vs. DREW MCINTYRE
Four minutes into the show, the bell range the match began. (They can’t necessarily do this every week, but it’s nice to kick off a show with wrestlers wrestling instead of authority figures yapping for ten minutes. Now if they could just stop doing mid-match commercial breaks, they’d end 2018 with two new good habits.) Ziggler tried to climb out of the cage three seconds into the match, but Drew yanked him down. The announcers called it a smart strategy. (If you presume Ziggler is cast as the babyface here and he wanted a cage match to get revenge on McIntyre, why would he hope to win in fluke-like fashion by simply fleeing the cage seconds after the bell rang? What would that prove? These cage match rules in WWE are awful, but Ziggler’s psychology in playing within the rules here was way off, unless you don’t believe he’s the babyface here, and given his promo saying he’s neither a good guy or a bad guy, maybe he’s not – but then why would fans care either way about this match?) Cole said Ziggler is really bothered by what Drew did to him. Graves said the focus should be what Drew did *for* Ziggler. When Drew got an early advantage, Drew said this is what he wanted and he’s an idiot for wanting a cage match with him; Ziggler punched him. Dolph stopped Drew from escaping over the top at 3:00. They stood on the top rope and battled. They each straddled the top rope at 4:00. Cole called it a “stalemate” and they cut to a break. [c]
They showed Finn Balor watching the match on a monitor backstage. (He couldn’t have watched from a more fake looking awkward angle, but at least we (a) knew who he was because we could see his profile, and (b) knew what he was watching because we could see the front of the TV screen. So, you know, it’s totally worth looking totally stage and awkward and un-human-like to position him that way.) Drew catapulted Ziggler, but Ziggler rolled through for a near fall. Then he threw Drew into the side of the cage twice. Drew went down. Ziggler landed a superkick seconds later for a near fall. When Ziggler tried to crawl out of the cage, Drew grabbed his legs and then they head-butted each other. Ziggler got up first and crawled toward the opened door, but Drew grabbed him again. Ziggler slammed the door on Drew’s head. Ziggler connected with a Fameasser for a near fall. They cut to a break at 12:00. [c]
Back live Ziggler was on top of the cage and Drew was meeting him there to stop his exit. Drew gave Ziggler a superplex off the top of the cage. A “This is awesome” chant was heard. Cole acknowledged the chant and said it was the WWE fans (he said “fans,” not “Universe”) showing respect for the match. Drew stood over Ziggler and told him to rise. Drew yelled more at Ziggler about how he wanted this. He suplexed him into the side of the cage and did more trash talking. Drew told him to fight, fight, fight. Ziggler took his advice and fought back with a Zig Zag out of nowhere for a near fall. Cole exclaimed it was a “last gasp effort.” Graves said Drew got caught admiring his own dirty work and ended up paying. When Ziggler stood and yelled at Drew, Drew connected with a Claymore Kick that looked just great (thanks to both guys). Cole said it might be the most devastating finishing maneuver in WWE today. Graves said, “Without a shadow of a doubt.” Drew sat up and laughed and clapped and got a maniacal look as he set up a second kick. He connected with a second one and scored the three count.
WINNER: McIntyre in 20:00.
-Ziggler yelled at him, “Is that all you got?” Graves said he must be delirious. Drew entered the ring with a chair. He pounded away at Ziggler with a barrage of fists, then put a chair against his head and delivered a dropkick to the chair. “Oh my god!” yelled Cole. Drew stood at ringside and said he is king of the Raw jungle. He said it didn’t have to be this way. He said he told Ziggler to walk away, but he kept coming. He said he is “nothing, pathetic, and dead weight.” He said now that the Ziggler chapter is closed, they can focus on what really matters. He said it’s time to prove he is the King of the WWE, so he is going to win the Royal Rumble match and win the Universal Championship. Cole said who could argue with Drew after what they just witnessed. Drew saw Ziggler standing up, so Drew turned and returned to the cage. He gave Ziggler another Claymore Kick.
-They went to the parking garage where Shane McMahon and Triple H got out of the limo. (Shane acted like a fool dancing around Triple H, who gave the reaction to Shane that I have every time I see Shane.)
-New Year’s Resolution for WWE Superstars: Finn Balor wished for a push that matches his crowd responses (or he wants to become Universal Champion again)… Ember Moon wished for character development by WWE (or winning the Women’s Royal Rumble match)… The Ascension wished for a TV win and one skit that didn’t make them look like buffoons (or the return of Fashion Files and a Raw Tag Team Title reign)… Lucha House Party wished for one segment where they didn’t end it by chanting “Lucha!” over and over (or they chanted “Lucha” over and over).
-Cole thanked fans for spending Christmas Eve with them.
-Seth Rollins made his ring entrance. He said he’s not for New Year’s Resolutions because the pace of life is too fast in WWE for that. He said every week is a chance for a fresh start. He said he is not interested in waiting for the ball to drop in Times Square. He said he has earned a rematch against Dean Ambrose and he wants it right now. Triple H’s music interrupted.
Triple H said there is not going to be anything automatic anymore, which is why he’s informing his IC Title rematch is not going to happen. Boos. Triple H said he’s not sure Seth deserves a rematch.
Hunter said he once believed in Seth. Seth told him he only believed in him because he was his puppet. Triple H said he made him believe in him. He said when he doubted it, Seth kicked his ass at WrestleMania and made him believe in him again. He said now all he sees is a shell of the man he once believed in “asking for stuff.” Seth said he’s not asking for anything. He said he’s been carrying Raw on his back for the last year. Cheers. He said Brock is up in Saskatchewan doing whatever it is Brock does, while he was “churning out classics with Finn Balor, Dolph Ziggler, Mojo Rawley of all people.”
Seth asked Triple H if he wants the ruthless bastard and soulless guy who will do whatever it takes to get what he wants. Triple H got in his face and said that’s what he wants. He said he wants him to burn it all down against “the almighty Bobby Lashley.” Seth said he will take all Lashley has to give and then he’ll take all Dean has to give including the IC Title, and then he’ll take Brock Lesnar if he gets in his way and take his Universal Title if that gets in his way and he’ll take down his whole family if Triple H gets in his way.
Shane McMahon ran out. Cole said he was there to diffuse the situation. Graves said he hasn’t seen that fire in Seth’s eyes for some time. Shane asked Hunter to please stop amping up Seth until he literally burns this place down. Shane announced a “Fresh Start Battle Royal” to determine the no. 1 contender for the IC Title. He then told Seth to go get ready for Lashley. Finn Balor’s ring entrance took place.

(2) BATTLE ROYAL FOR INTERCONTINENTAL TITLE SHOT
The ring was filled with wrestlers after the break. They showed the tail end of No Way Jose’s entrance and Baron Corbin was the last to enter. They cut backstage to Dean Ambrose reacting to various moves in the match. He also chose to stand oddly sideways and turning his head sharply to look at the screen peripherally. The Lucha House Party eliminated Titus O’Neal. They cut to a break.
Lince Dorado eliminated Kalisto and then Balor eliminated Since. Other in the match were Bo Dallas, Curtis Axel, Tyler Breeze, Konnor Viktor, Zack Ryder, Curt Hawkins, and Mojo Rawley. Crews eliminated several wrestlers one after another including tossing Breeze onto six wrestlers at ringside. Corbin chokeslammed Crews. Cole declared Crews’s run “just about over,” meaning in Vince McMahon’s World of Heavy-handed Reverse Psychology, Crews was going to win. Corbin eliminated Balor. Boos. It came down to Ryder, Hawkins, Corbin, and Crews. Corbin laughed at Hawkins. He tossed him over the top rope, but Hawkins landed on the ring apron. He then yanked Corbin over the top rope by his neck, but Corbin held on and dropped Hawkins to the floor. Crews leaped off the top rope, but Corbin ducked and went for a chokeslam, but Crews avoided it and then he knocked Corbin out of the ring with an enzuigiri.
WINNER: Crews in 12:00 to earn an IC Title shot.
-Charlie Caruso interviewed Crews afterward in the ring. He said he has been asking for and begging for a fresh start like this. He said he can’t think of any better way to spend his last day of 2018 than becoming the new Intercontinental Champion.
-In a backstage interview, Natalya said 2018 was a whirlwind year for her, including losing her father, but also being part of Evolution and wrestling Ronda Rousey last week. She said she wants to face Rousey again at WrestleMania, so she plans to win the Rumble. In walked Nia Jax and said maybe Rousey won’t be the champion at WrestleMania. Tamina then attacked Natalya from behind. Tamina and Jax beat up Natalya. Jamie Noble and Adam Pearce got between them. [c]
-They replayed the angle with Jax, Tamina, and Natalya before the break.
-The announcers talked about what happened. Renee said she wouldn’t want to be Nia once Rousey gets wind of what just happened.
-Corbin stood mid-ring and said what happened wasn’t fair. He said he deserves a fresh start as much as anyone. He said he tried hard to please the fans, but all they did was boo him. He said he had to deal with all of the egos and the prima donnas in the locker room, plus he had to deal with the McMahons and the sponsors. He said he deserved a reward. Elias interrupted with a guitar strum. He sat on the stage and played “Auld Lang Syne.” He said he wants to party, but he doesn’t invite losers to his parties, so Corbin has to go. Fans chanted “You’re a loser!” at Corbin. Elias said Corbin is such a loser, it was his plan to never bring Raw to “a depraved and rundown city like Detroit,” but he got on the phone with his buddy Kid Rock and they both agreed this city is on the rise. (Almost every fan in that crowd bought tickets before Corbin was fired.) Elias got fans to chant “Walk With Elias!” He said he has a song to sing tonight. He sang a song at the expense of Corbin, making fun of him losing his G.M. job and playing to the Detroit fans. Corbin walked toward Elias. Elias stopped mid-song and met him in the aisle and they fought at ringside and into the crowd. Corbin eventually fled. Cole said 2018 can’t end soon enough for Corbin.
-The announcers said Natalya & Rousey vs. Nia & Tamina had been signed.
-New Year’s Resolution: Drake Maverick & AOP vowed to become more brutal and barbaric until they get their Raw tag Team Title rematch and becomes champions again… The Riott Squad said their opponents will show their true selves and break and they are there to apply pressure… Zack Ryder said his resolution is have more matches on Raw and collect all the WWE action figures… No Way Jose said he’s going to enjoy the moment and not worry about next year. His Conga Line joined him and they acted like fools for five seconds…

(3) EMBER MOON & BAYLEY & SASHA BANKS vs. THE RIOTT SQUAD (Ruby Riott & Liv Morgan & Sarah Logan)
Cole said all six will be part of the Women’s Rumble in four weeks. Renee said Logan ate a deer heart at her Viking-themed wedding. Renee said Ember “never takes her eye off the ball” and “controls her own destiny.” Renee called the announcers “rude” because they were questioning her about contradicting herself over whether Ember Moon has New Year’s Resolutions or not. When the match broke down to chaos, they cut to a break. [c]
The Riott Squad dominated after the break against Banks. Sasha made a comeback and reached for a tag, but neither of her partners were there because of a brawl seconds earlier at ringside. Bayley blind-tagged in seconds later and surprised Logan with a top rope elbow for the win.
WINNERS: Bayley & Sasha & Ember in 12:00.
-The announcers hyped Seth vs. Lashley was next. [c]
-A commercial aired for “Total Bellas” returning Jan. 13.
-The announcers introduced a vignette on Braun showing him beating up Kevin Owens, Kane, and a lot of equipment. There was a particular focus on the Owens angle with the Port-a-Potty and tipping lots of things over including the semi-trailer.

(4) SETH ROLLINS vs. BOBBY LASHLEY (w/Lio Rush)
Lio said Lashley is ready for a fresh start. Seth went after Lashley aggressively at the start. One might say Seth is showing ruthless aggression. (That’s what Vince McMahon thinks solves everything when ratings are down – just preaching about “ruthless aggression.” It’s a mindless testosterone fueled non-solution that is a substitute for introspection and honest dialogue about how to improve things.) Lio went after Seth at ringside, and sent Seth head-first into the ringpost with a head scissors. [c]
Seth eventually made a comeback and played to the crowd. He flew through the ropes with a tackle. And another right after. When Seth climbed to the top rope, Lio distracted him. Seth went after him, but Lio avoided him and ran to the time keeper’s area. Seth eventually caught up to him and dropped him over the ringside barricade. Lashley hit Seth from behind. Hard to have too much sympathy for Seth there given how long he was preoccupied with Lio. Seth made a comeback and bashed Lashley with a chair across his back. Lio leaped at Seth, but Seth caught him with the chair in mid-air with a jab. Seth took turns bashing each heel with the chair over and over. Cole said, “Triple H asked for it, he got it.” Seth stomped Rush who took a weird angle and bumped onto the top of his head.
-Backstage Ronda Rousey was intensely meditating backstage as Natalya paced in front of her.
-Renee plugged the Ambrose vs. Crews IC Title match. [c]
-The announcers said John Cena will be on Raw next week in Orlando, but first he’ll be on Smackdown (Not) Live tomorrow night. Renee said she is “stoked” to have Cena back on Raw. Cole threw to the vignette on the five NXT acts arriving in WWE in 2019.

(4) JINDER MAHAL & THE SINGH BROTHERS vs. HEATH SLATER & RHYNO
They replayed Rhyno dressed as Santa beating up Jinder and the Singh Brothers last week. The announcers complimented the shape the Singh Brothers are in now that they’re in wrestling gear and not slacks and shirts as usual. Rhyno hot-tagged in and gave both Singh Brothers a belly-to-belly. Jinder tagged in, but Rhyno gave him a spinebuster. He signaled for the Gore. One Singh Brothers yanked on Rhyno’s leg as the other Singh distracted the ref. Jinder them surprised Rhyno with a kick to the face and the Khallas for the win.
WINNERS: Mahal & Singh Brothers in 4:00.
-Dean Ambrose spoke about defending his IC Title against Apollo Crews backstage. He said everybody seems to be talking about fresh starts. “Do I look like a guy who needs a fresh start?” he said. “I don’t think so.” He said Seth, on the other hand, doesn’t look good. He said he looks angry and bent out of shape. He said as the moral compass of WWE, he still has an obligation to fulfill his promise to the people and take everything Seth holds dear and burns it down. He said this isn’t going to be the Apollo Crews storybook ending for 2018. He said he’s not the type to enjoy feel good moments. He said he will make it personal duty to ensure Apollo’s fresh start has a rotten ending.
-New Year’s Resolutions: Bobby Roode & Chad Gable said they plan to shut up The Revival next week and continue to make the Raw Tag Team Division absolutely glorious… The Revival said they are resolved to bring credibility back to the Raw Tag Team Division… Bayley said her resolution is to become the first-ever WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions with Sasha Banks. Sasha agreed 2019 will be their year…

(5) DEAN AMBROSE vs. APOLLO CREWS – Intercontinental Championship match
Grave asked Renee what Dean’s resolutions were. Renee said that’s not what married couples do. Cole said he and his wife do. Renee sarcastically said she sits with Dean at him “with a dream board.” Graves laughed at striking a nerve with her. They replayed what Triple H and Shane McMahon said to Dean earlier. As Crews came to the ring, Cole said IC Title wins can be a launching point to greatness, noting Steve Austin, The Rock, and Triple H. Graves said Crews grew up in a military family and WWE was his escape and he idolized Ricky Steamboat and Randy Savage. They did formal ring introductions. Crews attacked Dean before the bells, and the referee ridiculously rewarded it by calling for the bell after Crews got the unfair advantage. #Ruthless Aggression. Cole said Crews recognizes what an opportunity this match is Crews did a lightning fast backflip after some early offense against Ambrose. Ambrose retreated to ringside two minutes in and they cut to a break. [c]
Ambrose was in control after the break. Crews ducked a charging Ambrose, who tumbled to the floor. They collided mid-ring with simultaneous clotheslines. Crews rallied and kipped up. He let out a big roar. The post-production crowd noise editing didn’t make Crews seem super-over. Ambrose raked Crews’s eyes. Cole said the ref didn’t see it. (What if the ref did, though? Ambrose would have been given an empty warning, that’s all.) Ambrose set up a Dirty Deeds, but Crews escaped with an enzuigiri and then landed a sitout powerbomb for a near fall. Crew flip dove onto Ambrose on the floor, then threw him back into the ring. Crews climbed to the top rope and went for a frog splash, but Dean moved. Ambrose landed a Dirty Deeds for the win.
WINNER: Ambrose in 9:00 to retain the Intercontinental Title.
-Alexa Bliss talked about being in charge of the Women’s Division in 2018 and how she’ll miss having that power. She said she made history, though, and next week she’ll make more history. She said next week will be the premier of her very own talk show “A Moment of Bliss.” She said she’l be the first woman to host a talk show and her first guest will be Ronda Rousey. She brought up that Rousey worshipped Roddy Piper, but she suggested she dress appropriately for the occasion because she’ll “be in the presence of a goddess, not slumming it in some pit.” [c]
-A vignette aired on Brock Lesnar. Cole said he’ll be on Raw next week and he can’t wait.

(6) TAMINA & NIA JAX vs. NATALYA & RONDA ROUSEY
The heel duo came out first, then Natalya, and finally Rousey. Rousey was angry about what they did to Natalya earlier and cleared the ring of the two heels before the bell. She insisted on starting the match. Tamina charged, but Rousey judo tossed her twice hard. Tamina tagged in Jax. Jax charged, but Rousey ended up rolling Jax around and going for an early armbar. Jax fought it off. Rousey stood and cornered her. Jax reversed her in the corner and then threw her across the ring. Rousey tagged in Natalya who showed an aggressiveness noted by the announcers as different than usual from her. #RuthlessAggression. Renee said they don’t get to see this spark in her that often. She slammed Tamina and scored a soft two count. She went for a sharpshooter, but Tamina fought out of it. Nia dragged her to the floor. Natalya slidekicked both of them. Rousey leaped off the top ope onto both of them. [c]
The heels were in control after the break, tagging in and out against Natalya. Natalya collided mid-air with Tamina. They were both slow to get up. Natalya reached for Rousey, but Tamina grabbed her leg. Natalya fought free and hot-tagged Rousey. Tamina also tagged in Jax. Rousey gave Jax a step-up running nee and then a judo throw for a two count. Rousey landed a leaping right elbow to the side of Jax’s head for a two count. Jax powered Rousey into the air and then dropped her leading to a two count. Jax climbed to the second rope for a Samoan Drop, but Rousey fought out of it. Tamina tagged herself in and superkicked Rousey for a near fall. They didn’t do as much (or any) post-production sound editing this week, so the crowd reactions were actually muted sounding compared to Smackdown last week, which used post-production to make up for the exhausted crowd.
Tamina head-butted Rousey once, but missed on a diving headbutt afterward. Rousey then went for an armbar. Jax legdropped Rousey to break it up. Natalya entered, but ate a superkick from Tamina. Tamina rolled onto Rousey for a near fall. She leaped off the top rope with a Superfly Splash, but Rousey lifted her legs and blocked it, then applied an armbar for the tapout.
WINNERS: Rousey & Natalya in 13:00.
-The announcers hyped next week features the return of the Universal Champion Brock Lesnar, The Revival challenging Roode & Gable, “A Moment of Bliss” with Rousey, and the return of John Cena. They went back to the ring as Rousey and Natalya celebrated together.