Mr. McMahon, Triple H, Raw Commissioner Stephanie McMahon and SmackDown Commissioner Shane McMahon Announced They Would Be Running Raw and SmackDown Live
It was announced last Friday that Mr. McMahon would be appearing on this show to "shake up" Raw coming off Seth Rollins' comments last week about how abysmal the brand has been lately. Their grand plan for a shake-up, you ask? Putting the McMahons back in charge of both Raw and SmackDown. I don't know what's worse: having a heel general manager in charge or the McMahons, or both. The more things change, the more they stay the same, I suppose. On the bright side, they did say there would be new matchups and new faces on WWE TV in the coming months (we found out several stars from NXT are getting called up soon), but all of this is just lip service until they actually follow through on their promises. I'm definitely skeptical given their track record, but I'm also willing to give them a chance.
Kurt Angle, Apollo Crews and Raw Tag Team Champions Bobby Roode & Chad Gable def. Baron Corbin in a No Disqualification 4-on-1 Handicap Match
Yes, this was essentially the same "match" we saw at TLC with the babyfaces ganging up on Corbin and using his own tricks against him, but the crowd ate it up and Corbin deserved everything he got here. In other words, I didn't mind this one bit. If Angle isn't returning to his role as Raw general manager, I'm interested to see if he'll become an active member of the roster moving forward or if he'll only show up occasionally. Either way, I'm relieved Corbin's days as the head honcho on Raw are finally over.
Finn Balor def. Dolph Ziggler by Disqualification
This was solid followup to what we saw at TLC where Ziggler ambushed Balor backstage. It was a well-wrestled match, it received an ample amount of time, and Drew McIntyre's interference and subsequent destruction of Balor and Ziggler were totally logical. A Triple Threat pitting these three against each other was announced for next week's Raw. It's possible McIntyre's recent losses will lead him to coming out on top in the Royal Rumble, but time will tell.
Intercontinental Champion Dean Ambrose def. Tyler Breeze
Ambrose continues to be extremely underwhelming in his new heel role, especially coming off his disappointing outing with Seth Rollins at TLC on Sunday night. Rollins was a great Intercontinental Champion earlier this year, but the title has been an absolute afterthought in recent months, so we'll see if Ambrose can do a better job of making the belt more important (though I'm not getting my hopes up). At any rate, Breeze is no stranger to open challenges, as he answered NXT North American Champion Ricochet's open challenge last week on NXT. I was happy Breeze was given another opportunity to shine and look good in defeat. Meanwhile, Rollins disguising himself as one of the S.W.A.T. dudes Ambrose brought to the ring with him before going after Ambrose was well done.
Elias Attacked Bobby Lashley
If you couldn't have cared less about Elias vs. Lashley at TLC on Sunday, never fear, the feud is continuing (I say that sarcastically, of course)! I figured as such given what happened after Elias won their Ladder match, but at least he scored a measure of revenge by attacking him here with a guitar. They'll battle in the annual Miracle on 34th Street Fight on next week's Christmas Eve Raw, and hopefully that'll be the end of it.
The Revival def. The B-Team, The Lucha Dragons and AOP in a Raw Tag Team Championship No. 1 Contender's Fatal 4-Way Match
Before the bout, Drake Maverick confronted Shane backstage and demanded that AOP get their automatic rematch for the Raw Tag Team Championship, but apparently, they are doing away with that clause. I'm in full favor of that if they do stick with it because it was a waste to begin with. The Fatal 4-Way wasn't given much time to be as exciting as it could be, but it was fun while it lasted and the right team won. Again, I don't have a ton of faith that this is the start of a bigger push for The Revival based off how they've been treated on the main roster up to this point, but this is still a positive sign for their future.
Natalya def. Sasha Banks, Ruby Riott, Ember Moon, Mickie James, Bayley, Dana Brooke and Alicia Fox in a Raw Women's Championship No. 1 Contender's Gauntlet Match
Ronda Rousey originally issued an open challenge and also declared that all champions should defend their titles one night removed from every pay-per-view (which I'm sure Brock Lesnar wasn't too thrilled to hear), but Stephanie instead insisted that a Gauntlet match be held to determine who would challenge Rousey for the title on next week's show. It was given the full third hour of this show, which was a refreshing change of pace. They made excellent use of the time they were allotted and I thought the layout was largely decent. Natalya winning took me by surprise, but it made sense since next week's Christmas Eve Raw will be taped in advance. Banks vs. Rousey is a marquee matchup that shouldn't be wasted on a holiday show, while WWE has been building to Rousey vs. Natalya for some time now.
Michael Cole repeatedly said on commentary over the course of the night that this was supposed to mark the beginning of a "new era" in WWE, but I honestly don't know about that. This show didn't feel incredibly different than normal, but it was unquestionably an improvement over the past month or so. They did some little things right and the wrestling was above-average on the whole, but the McMahons being back in charge doesn't make me incredibly optimistic. I should also note that nothing will change for at least a few weeks because the next two episodes fall on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve and will be taped in advance. It's time for WWE to stop talking and start doing. Otherwise, everything will remain the same.
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