Drew McIntyre def. Dolph Ziggler in a Steel Cage Match
I still have no idea whether's Ziggler is supposed to be a babyface, a heel or a tweener, but regardless, he and McIntyre have strong chemistry together. I couldn't believe that it's been nearly a year since a Steel Cage match was held on Raw, so that was an interesting stat. It was an entertaining affair and I liked the story they told with Ziggler giving it all he had before finally falling short. McIntyre was ruthless and completely dominant here, which was great to see. He has to lead the list of potential Royal Rumble winners for this coming year.
Triple H Confronted Seth Rollins
Apparently WWE is serious about doing away with the automatic rematch clause for former champions, which has been a thing in the company for as long as I can remember. I'm sure we'll get a Dean Ambrose vs. Rollins rematch eventually, but Rollins will first have to earn his shot. At any rate, this was a strong segment with very good mic work from both men. Since Rollins brought up Brock Lesnar several times, I assume he'll factor into the finish of the Royal Rumble match if not win the whole thing.
Apollo Crews Won a Fresh Start Battle Royal to Earn an Intercontinental Championship Shot
This wasn't a much different than your typical Battle Royal early on, but the order of eliminations was largely logical and it was fun down the stretch. A "fresh start" for Crews sounds nice and all, but it won't mean anything if it doesn't lead to a substantial push for him. Remember when he won a Battle Royal on the relaunch of SmackDown Live in 2016 and nothing came of it? I'm all for him getting more television time in 2019, but WWE has to give viewers a reason to care about him. Otherwise, he'll continue to be looked at as a loser.
Elias Attacked Baron Corbin
Corbin stuck around after losing the Battle Royal to complain about not getting the fresh start he felt he deserves, only to be interrupted by Elias. This was pretty much what you'd expect from these two with Elias doing his usual shtick, embarrassing Corbin and getting the better of him in their brawl. That must mean Elias and Corbin will be feuding going into the Rumble, which is fine as long as Elias comes out on the winning end.
Bayley, Sasha Banks and Ember Moon def. The Riott Squad
Is it just me or have we seen some variation of this match at least a dozen times on Raw in 2018? Don't get wrong, all six ladies work well together and they were given an ample amount of time, but I just couldn't get into this outing. On the bright side, they're clearly building up Banks and Bayley as the front-runners to become the inaugural WWE Women's Tag Team Champions. Beyond that, though, this was pointless.
Bobby Lashley def. Seth Rollins by Disqualification
I found it funny when Michael Cole praised the match Rolllins and Lashley had in the WWE World Cup at Crown Jewel on commentary, which I don't remember being particularly memorable. This wasn't much better, as the crowd mostly sat on their hands for it. Rollins may be exceptional, but he's no miracle worker. It was decent once they picked up the pace, but I can't say much more than that. I guess the story is that Rollins can't contain his anger right now, hence the disqualification loss. Lashley, on the other hand, has nothing going for him whatsoever.
Jinder Mahal and The Singh Brothers def. Heath Slater and Rhyno in a 3-on-2 Handicap Match
I thought WWE was doing away with the Handicap matches now that "we" are in charge (according to the McMahons)? The more things change, the more they stay the same. Nevertheless, this was a result of Rhyno saving Slater from Mahal and the Singhs last week on Raw. It was a completely meaningless match that lacked crowd heat. As much as I don't care for Mahal, it made more sense for him to win considering Slater and Rhyno are enhancement talent.
Intercontinental Champion Dean Ambrose def. Apollo Crews
Despite how Crews came out on top in the Fresh Start Battle Royal earlier in the evening, I doubt the audience saw him as a true threat to the title. He put forth a commendable effort against Ambrose and it was a well-wrestled match, but the outcome was never in doubt. As previously noted, it remains to be seen whether this is the beginning of something bigger for Crews, or if it was merely a one-off.
Raw Women's Champion Ronda Rousey and Natalya def. Nia Jax and Tamina
Rousey teamed with Ember Moon not too long ago in the main event of Raw against the duo of Jax and Tamina. Replace Moon with Natalya and you have virtually the exact same match. That isn't to say it was terrible, but Rousey already conquered Jax at TLC, so I fail to see what purpose this was supposed to serve. It was average albeit forgettable and was obviously designed to be filler.
I wish WWE would have closed out the year with more of a bang, but considering it's New Year's Eve and they probably assumed not many people would be watching anyway, I'm not shocked in the slightest that they phoned it in. The three hours didn't drag as much as they normally do and it was far from the worst episode of Raw this year, but perhaps it was fitting this show was as dull as it was considering the sad state of Raw in 2018. If nothing else, WWE are advertising a hell of a lineup for the first Raw of 2019, so here's hoping they can start the new year off on the right foot.
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