Happy New Year, my friends. Thank you for reading another edition of the WWE Raw Deal for the last Raw of 2018, which is being posted on January 1, 2019. I’ve never been a New Year’s Resolution kind of guy. If you need to change things in your life or set goals, do it any day in the year as needed, not just when it says January 1 on the calendar. What I can tell you is that I’m more driven than ever to make TJRWrestling bigger than ever. The signs of growth in the last few months are encouraging. Within the next two weeks, I think I’ll make a post looking for writers to add to our team. What am I looking forward to? The NFL Playoffs coming up. Go LA Rams. I haven’t been this excited about a playoff run in about 15 years. Anyway, let’s get to Raw.

Live (on tape) from Detroit, Michigan, this is the Raw Deal for episode #1335 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.

The show began with the steel cage lowering above the ring. The announce team of Michael Cole, Corey Graves and Renee Young ran down some of the matches at the Royal Rumble on January 27 including Brock Lesnar vs. Braun Strowman for the Universal Title as well as the men’s and women’s Royal Rumble matches.

There was a steel cage around the ring with Dolph Ziggler making his entrance first. He’s back in face mode for this match against his former tag team partner Drew McIntyre, who was up next.

Analysis: It’s nice to start Raw with a match that has a big feel to it with a steel cage match.

Steel Cage Match: Drew McIntyre vs. Dolph Ziggler

A wrestler can win a steel cage match by pinfall, submission, escaping the cage by climbing out or leaving through the door. If it was up to me it would only be climbing out of the cage, but it’s not up to me…sadly.

McIntyre was in control with a hard chop to the chest followed by a suplex. McIntyre set up Ziggler on the top rope leading to another chop to the chest. Ziggler got back into it with a jumping DDT off the ropes for a two count. McIntyre hit his Glasgow Kiss headbutt to the head of Ziggler. When McIntyre tried to climb out, Ziggler went after him to stop him and they had a slugfest. Ziggler sent McIntyre face first into the cage a few times, but McIntyre tripped up Ziggler leading to Ziggler getting crotched on the top rope. McIntyre also became crotched on the top rope when he fell, so both guys collapsed holding their groins.

(Commercial)

The match returned with McIntyre in control with some trash talking as Finn Balor was shown watching on a TV backstage with Cole noting that Balor won a triple threat with these two guys last week. Ziggler hit the Fameasser for a two count. McIntyre blocked a superkick attempt followed by a slam attempt, but Ziggler got a rollup for two. Ziggler sent McIntyre into the cage three times, which would have led to a blade job pre-2008, but not in today’s WWE. Ziggler hit a superkick on McIntyre for a two count. Good nearfall. Ziggler tried to climb out of the door, but McIntyre dragged him back in leading to a double headbutt spot with both men collapsing to the mat. Ziggler tried to leave through the door again, McIntyre went after him and Ziggler slammed the door into Drew’s head to knock them both down. After both guys were down selling for about one minute, Ziggler hit another Fameasser for a two count.

(Commercial)

The match continued with Ziggler at the top of the cage with McIntyre punching him to keep him from leaving. McIntyre came back with a huge superplex off the top rope into the ring. That was a great spot. That looked like a rough landing for Ziggler coming off the cage. The fans chanted “this is awesome” for them. McIntyre told Ziggler to rise, McIntyre said that Ziggler meant nothing to him and McIntyre launched Ziggler face first into the steel cage. McIntyre told Ziggler he’s not going to get off that easy as McIntyre tossed Ziggler suplex style into the cage. Drew told Ziggler it’s not over and he told him to fight. Ziggler came back with a kick to the knee and a Zig Zag for a two count with the crowd popping big for it as a believable nearfall. Ziggler set up for a superkick, but McIntyre beat him to the punch with an impressive Claymore Kick to the head. That was awesome. Cole said that it may be the most devastating finishing maneuver in WWE with Graves agreeing with him. McIntyre hit another Claymore Kick and he pinned Ziggler to win the match after about 19 minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Drew McIntyre

Analysis: ***1/2 That was a very good match to start the show and they got a lot of time. It seems like the end of this rivalry with McIntyre going over as the guy that is being pushed more these days. It’s refreshing to see a match in the first segment of the night. I hope that continues more often in this “new” era of WWE. Ziggler got in a lot of offense for most of it, which led to McIntyre coming back and looking dominant as the winner. That first Claymore Kick from McIntyre looked great as he beat Ziggler to it and I thought Ziggler sold it perfectly. These guys work well together.

After the match, McIntyre slowly left the cage as the winner with the announcers putting him over huge and Cole suggesting that McIntyre will have the best year of his career in 2019. I think that’s right. When McIntyre left the cage, Ziggler asked: “is that all you got?” McIntyre grabbed a steel chair and went into the ring. McIntyre put the chair against Ziggler’s head and Drew dropkicked the chair into Ziggler’s head into the cage. The fans chanted “one more time” after that.

Analysis: It was a classic heel beatdown to put McIntyre over huge even after he won the match clean.

McIntyre did a promo saying that he’s the king of the Raw jungle. McIntyre told Ziggler it didn’t have to be this way, but he kept coming for his scraps. McIntyre told Ziggler he’s pathetic, he’s dead weight and he doesn’t even deserve Drew’s scraps. McIntyre said now that this chapter is closed, we can focus on what really matters. Drew said that it’s time to prove that he’s the king of the WWE and he claimed that he’s going to win the Royal Rumble match and finally fulfill his destiny when he wins the Universal Championship.

McIntyre left the ring, but when he looked at the Titantron, he saw Ziggler was back on his feet. McIntyre went back into the ring and he gave Ziggler another Claymore Kick to knock him out. That put an end to it.

Analysis: That was a quality promo from McIntyre full of intensity. Ziggler got his ass kicked, but he also sells that Claymore Kick as well as anybody possibly could. It puts over McIntyre huge. McIntyre is clearly in line for a big push on Raw and I think he deserves it.

A limousine was shown arriving to the arena. Shane McMahon and Triple H made their entrance as the two brothers-in-law showed up to run the show. Shane did his annoying dancing routine, which frustrated Hunter. Hunter had a look on his face as if to say “dude, we’re almost 50.” Maybe not the “dude” part.

This week on Smackdown, John Cena is back on the New Year’s Day edition of the show.

(Commercial)

PLUG TIME: The 10th Annual WWE Johnny Awards were posted a few days ago and I got a lot of great feedback on them, so thanks for that. A lot of NXT stars got some awards this year while some main roster stars did well too. It covered a lot, so please check it out…I also posted my ranking of the 10 best WWE matches of 2018. It was tough to pick just ten and placing them in the right order was difficult too. I had fun putting it together….You should also check out my column on The Comeback where I did a countdown of the 8 biggest WWE stories this year including Roman Reigns, the women’s evolution, Ronda Rousey, the next WWE TV contracts and more…I took a break with the WWF in 2000 reviews, but I plan on getting back into it later this week and check them out in our WWF in 2000 section.

Finn Balor was shown saying that his New Year’s Resolution is to be the new Universal Champion…Ember Moon said that in 2019, she’s going to win the Women’s Royal Rumble…The Ascension did their New Year’s Resolution with Viktor wanting to bring back the Fashion Files and Konnor wanting to win the Raw Tag Team Titles…The Lucha House Party didn’t say much other than start their “Lucha” chant.

Let’s Hear from Seth Rollins

Seth Rollins made his entrance for what would normally be the opening promo on the show, but instead it is coming about 35 minutes into the show. Fine with me. Changing it up a bit is a good thing. Big pop for Rollins.

Rollins said that he’s not too big on New Year’s Resolutions because life moves too fast for that especially in WWE. Rollins said he’s not waiting for the ball to drop in Times Square because he wants to get the party started right now. Rollins talked about how he’s got himself a rematch against Dean Ambrose for the Intercontinental Championship and he wants to do that right now.

Triple H made his entrance to the “King of Kings” song. Hunter was in suit wearing mode as the fans gave him a nice pop.

Analysis: That also explains why this is not the opening segment since Triple H and Shane were shown arriving after the first match.

Hunter said that it’s been a while. He said that every day that you wake up you have an opportunity for a fresh start at life to do anything you want to do. Hunter noted that nothing will be handed to anybody and there will be no automatic anything, which is why Hunter is there to tell us there’s no automatic rematch for the IC Title. Hunter said he’s not sure Seth deserves a rematch anyway. Hunter said that it takes no pleasure in saying that and he said that he was Seth’s most vocal supporter. Rollins said that Hunter only believed in him because he (Seth) was his puppet.

Hunter told Rollins that he made Hunter believe in him. Hunter said that Rollins made him believe that Rollins would be the face of Raw and be the man there. Hunter told Rollins that he took everything that he ever wanted there and he believed in him. Hunter noted that when he didn’t believe in Seth, Rollins took him to WrestleMania and he kicked his ass until Hunter believed in him again. Hunter wanted to know where is the guy that took what he wanted because he sees the guy that is asking for stuff. Rollins noted that he has been carrying Monday Night Raw on his back for the last year, which led to cheers. Rollins said that while Brock Lesnar was somewhere up in Saskatchewan doing what he does, Rollins was in here churning out classics with Finn Balor, Dolph Ziggler and Mojo Rawley of all people. Rollins said that he’s glad Hunter isn’t handing out opportunities because Seth wants to earn it. Rollins asked if he wants the ruthless bastard back and Hunter told him to burn it down starting down tonight against Bobby Lashley. Rollins said he’ll take everything Lashley has to give and he’ll take everything Dean Ambrose has to give and then he’ll take Brock Lesnar down if he gets in his way (the fans cheered that). Rollins said he’ll take down Hunter’s whole family if they get in the way. Rollins got right in Hunter’s face as he stared at him.

Analysis: That was intense and well done with Hunter motivating Rollins in a way that was needed. Rollins did a fantastic job of talking about all the things he did on Raw this year while also focusing on the future by bringing up Lesnar. The rumor is Rollins vs. Lesnar at WrestleMania, so if that’s the plan, it’s smart for Rollins to mention Lesnar in his promos. The fans really got behind Rollins as well, which should tell the creative team that they are doing the right thing by pushing Rollins if that is the plan. I hope it is because he deserves it.

Shane McMahon’s music hit and he ran down to the ring. Shane noted to Hunter that Seth could burn it down. Shane told Rollins he has to prepare for his match with Lashley later. Shane said that there’s a “fresh start battle royal” with the winner getting an IC Title match against Dean Ambrose later.

Finn Balor made his entrance as one of the superstars in the battle royal. Triple H and Shane left. Hunter did a “too sweet” hand gesture to Finn while Shane bumped fists with him. Rollins left the ring as Balor posed.

Analysis: It was a smooth transition from setting up the Rollins match to the battle royal.

(Commercial)

The ring was full of Raw superstars. The end of No Way Jose’s entrance was shown and then Baron Corbin got his full entrance. One of the guys in there was Zack Ryder in his first Raw match of the year. He’s been on the show since April, but not used.

Battle Royal for an Intercontinental Title Match

The wrestlers all battled against the ropes as No Way Jose did an airplane spin on Viktor, so Apollo Crews did press slams on both guys to eliminate them. Dean Ambrose was shown watching on a TV backstage. There wasn’t anything going on as the announcers mentioned Ryder’s lack of matches. Titus O’Neil went after the Lucha House Party guys, but the three of them worked together to dump O’Neil out.

(Commercial)

The match continued with the Lucha House Party working on Balor, but Balor eliminated Gran Metalik when he was on the top rope. Balor sent Kalisto to the apron and kicked him out. Balor tossed Lince Dorado over the top to get him out of there too, so Balor got rid of the entire Lucha House Party. Corbin missed a running shoulder tackle on Balor and hit the ring post. Crews dumped both members of the B Team (Axel and Dallas) out of the ring at the same time with a back body drop. Crews dumped Konnor and Mojo Rawley out of the ring to eliminate them. Crews with a press slam on Breeze to eliminate him for his 7th elimination in the match. Corbin with a Chokeslam on Crews. Balor with a Slingblade and dropkick to Corbin. Balor with an elbow to the chest of Ryder and Corbin eliminated Balor, which drew boos because the fans wanted Balor.

The final four are Zack Ryder, Curt Hawkins, Apollo Crews and Baron Corbin. Ryder worked over Corbin against the turnbuckle, he went for his Broski Book and Corbin dumped Ryder out with back body drop. Corbin laughed at Hawkins, who fought back with punches. Hawkins avoided elimination. Hawkins tried to eliminate Corbin, but Corbin dumped him out. Crews and Corbin were the final two with Crews going up top, Corbin avoided an attack and Crews met him with a step up enziguri followed by another step up enziguri to send Corbin over the top to the floor. That was Crews’ 8th elimination to win the match. The fans cheered for Crews for the win after about 12 minutes.

Winner: Apollo Crews

The win by Crews meant that he gets to face Dean Ambrose for the IC Title later on Raw.

Analysis: **1/4 It was an average battle royal with Crews looking impressive by eliminating most of the guys in the match. I like the way he was put over in a big way. Nice bump by Corbin at the end there to really put over Crews. The fans wanted Balor to win, but they were happy that it was a face like Crews.

Post match, Crews was interviewed in the ring by Charly Caruso. Crews said that he was hoping for a fresh start like this and it took 364 days, but the opportunity is there for him. Crews said he’s going to become the Intercontinental Champion tonight.

Natalya was interviewed by Dasha Fuentes backstage leading to highlights of last week’s great match where Natalya lost to Ronda Rousey in a competitive match. Natalya said that 2018 was a whirlwind of a year for her like losing her dad, but it had great memories like the Evolution PPV, training with Ronda Rousey and last week’s great match. Natalya said she wants to do it again at WrestleMania, so she’s entering the Royal Rumble. Nia Jax showed up to ask what happens if Ronda Rousey isn’t the champion at WrestleMania and if something happens to derail those plans. Tamina attacked Natalya from behind. They tossed Natalya into some containers backstage. Jamie Noble and Adam Pearce showed up to separate the ladies leading to a break. Jax trash talked Natalya about it wondering where Rousey was for her.

Analysis: It was a cheap attack that was done to set up the obvious tag team match for later. I can say obvious because I read spoilers, but I also know familiar WWE booking patterns when I see them.

Analysis x2: That was a pretty good first hour of Raw plus another few minutes to finish that match. It was better than the usual first hour. I’m trying to start the new year in a positive way.

(Commercial)

There was a replay of Natalya getting attacked with the announcers talking about it.

Baron Corbin was in the ring doing a promo whining about losing the battle royal. He said that he was trying to please all of us, but all we (the fans) did was boo. Corbin said that he deserved a reward for running Raw. Elias appeared on the stage for the interruption. There were cheers for him.

Elias played the New Year’s song “Auld Lang Syne” a bit on his guitar. Elias told Corbin his time is up and it’s time for a New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Elias while telling Corbin that he doesn’t invite losers to his party, so Baron has to go. The fans chanted “you’re a loser” at Corbin. Elias said this is the same guy when he was General Manager, he was never going to bring Raw to a depraved and run-down city like Detroit. Elias said he got on the phone with his buddy Kid Rock (Detroit’s own) and they agreed that Corbin running his mouth ain’t a good way to spend New Year’s. Elias said that this city is making a comeback and now that he is there, the city will be resurrected. He did his “WWE stands for” bit leading to fans chanting “Walk With Elias” for him. Elias said he’s got a song to sing tonight.

Elias did a song about Corbin ruining Raw, so Elias will save Mondays. Elias claimed that whoever said that Corbin is entertaining should be sued. Elias sang about how he didn’t give a damn about Corbin losing his job because he’s in Detroit Rock City. That led to Elias leading “Detroit Rock City” chants.

Corbin left the ring leading to a brawl with Elias outside the ring. Corbin tossed Elias over the barricade. They went brawling into the crowd, Elias tossed a drink onto Corbin and they went back over the barricade to ringside with Elias hitting Corbin with a forearm to the head. Elias shoved a cart into Corbin. Corbin managed to escape and he ran up the ramp to get away.

Analysis: That will probably lead to an Elias match against Corbin on Raw next week. The segment was okay. The Corbin promo was the same thing he has been saying for weeks, which gets him a lot of heat and Elias was cheered a lot for his promo. The problem I have is I have no interest in seeing them have a match because I doubt it’s going to be good. Elias needs to be in there with smaller guys because he struggles against bigger opponents. Elias promos are fine and entertaining, but in terms of matches, there has yet to be anything that was meaningful for him as a face.

It’s official for later on Raw: Ronda Rousey and Natalya vs. Nia Jax and Tamina.

(Commercial)

The team of AOP and Drake Maverick did New Year’s Resolutions with Drake saying that they will be more brutal in 2019. Rezar popped a balloon…The Riott Squad said they will apply pressure on the others…Zack Ryder’s New Year Resolution is to have more matches on Raw and get more action figures…No Way Jose said let’s just enjoy the moment and celebrate right now. His friends danced with him.

The trio of Ember Moon, Sasha Banks and Bayley made their entrances separately for a six-woman tag team match. The Riott Squad made their entrance as the opponents. This match was set up after last week’s squad with The Riott Squad attacking the three faces after the faces won a six-woman tag team match last week.

Analysis: The creative team loves booking six-woman tag team matches on Raw.

Sasha Banks, Bayley and Ember Moon vs. The Riott Squad (Ruby Riott, Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan)

Morgan took down Bayley with Cole noting that all of these women are in the Royal Rumble. Banks tagged in, Bayley with a cross body block and Banks with a double knee attack on Logan. The announcers mentioned Logan’s Viking wedding, but not to who it was. It was Rowe of the NXT tag team War Raiders. Bayley tagged back in with a clothesline on Logan. Moon tagged in with Cole saying his usual line about Moon being a former champion that he says in every match she’s in. Riott was legal for the heels with Moon hitting her with a dropkick. Morgan tagged in with a kick on Moon for a two count. The heels took turns stomping away on Moon against the turnbuckle, so Bayley and Banks saved their partner. Morgan kicked Bayley down, Banks kicked Morgan and the show went to a break.

(Commercial)

The match returned with Bayley in control of the heels with arm drags for Riott and Morgan. Banks tagged in, then Moon tagged in and Moon hit a splash on Morgan in the corner followed by a rollup for two. Banks was legal again as she worked over Morgan against the turnbuckle, Logan distracted the referee and Riott tripped up Banks to give the heels the advantage. Morgan drove her foot to the back of Banks. Riott tagged in with a running elbow on Banks for a two count. Logan back in, she slammed Riott onto Banks and covered for a two count of her own. Logan with a hair whip followed by a running knee that looked great for another two count. Morgan back in with a facebuster leading to three nearfalls. Banks broke free after a backslide and a knee to the face. Logan prevented a tag with a headbutt on Banks. Logan kicked Bayley off the apron. Moon hit a cross body block over the top to take out Riott and Morgan on the floor. Bayley made the blind tag, Banks with a Backstabber and Bayley went up top with an elbow drop on Logan for the pinfall win after 13 minutes.

Winners by pinfall: Sasha Banks, Bayley and Ember Moon

Analysis: **1/2 It was an average six-woman tag team match.  The team of Banks, Bayley and Moon got the win again, so that shows that WWE is focused on really putting over Banks and Bayley as a team leading to the introduction of Women’s Tag Team Titles. The Riott Squad are in the picture in terms of being a cohesive team on Raw, but they lose more often than they win. It would have been nice if Moon was featured more. The finish was good.

Seth Rollins faces Bobby Lashley up next.

(Commercial)

A video aired about Total Bellas returning in a few weeks. It looks awful like usual. Poor Daniel Bryan. I hope he is paid well.

There was a video package about Braun Strowman showing destruction he caused in 2018. Poor Kevin Owens. Strowman was not on the show this week, so it’s a way to keep him fresh in minds of the viewer.

Seth Rollins was in the ring for his match. Bobby Lashley made his entrance with hype man Lio Rush, who had a microphone. Rush called Lashley a fighter that fights. Rush said that after Lashley is done dominating Rollins, that’s when Lashley will do his famous pose. Rush told Lashley to dominate.

Analysis: The problem with Rush putting over Lashley hard is that Lashley got beat easily by Elias last week in the comedic street fight match they had.

Seth Rollins vs. Bobby Lashley (w/Lio Rush)

Rollins started with a running dropkick and Lashley came back with a waistlock takedown. Lashley sent Rollins into the turnbuckle followed by a running shoulder tackle. Lashley jumped on the back of Rollins, who came back with chops and a jumping kick to the head. Rollins with a knee to the back of Lashley to send him out of the ring. Rollins with a slingshot attack over the top to take out Lashley on the floor. Rush caused a distraction, so Lashley avoided a Rollins attack leading to a flatliner for two. Rollins with a jawbreaker, but Lashley came back with a clothesline and dumped Rollins out of the ring. Rush followed that with a headscissors that sent Rollins into the ring post.

(Commercial)

The match continued with Lashley slapping on an armbar on Rollins. When Rollins tried to fight back, Lashley whipped him into the turnbuckle. Lashley teased a suplex, Rollins fought out of it and hit a boot to the face. Lashley went for a clothesline, Rollins ducked it and hit a Slingblade neckbreaker followed by a clothesline to send Lashley out of the ring. Rollins hit a suicide dive on Lashley followed by another suicide dive. Rollins sent Lashley back into the ring while Rush looked frustrated at ringside. Back in the ring, Rollins hit a springboard clothesline. Rush grabbed Seth’s foot and Lashley came back with an impressive spinebuster for two. Rollins avoided a corner charge, rollup for two and kick to the face. Rollins up top, Rush on the apron and Rollins chased after the speedy hype man. Rollins managed to hit him with a clothesline. Rollins sent Rush face first into the barricade. Lashley hit Rollins with a clothesline from behind. Rollins had enough, so he hit Lashley in the back with the chair leading to a DQ as the fans cheered that end of the match after 11 minutes.

Winner by disqualification: Bobby Lashley

Analysis: **1/4 It was okay with Lashley dominating most of it until Rollins made the exciting comeback to get the crowd into it. The lack of a finish was fine because of the story they were telling with Rollins being motivated to get that aggressiveness back.

Rollins continued the attack after the match with a chair to Lashley’s back, then Lashley went into the ring and Rollins hit Lashley with more chair shots to the back. Rush jumped into the ring, so Rollins hit him in the gut with the chair. Rollins continued the chair shots to the back of both guys. Rollins hit The Stomp (still needs a better name) on Rush, who sold it with a flip. Rollins had a serious look on his face with Cole and Graves noting it was a different Seth Rollins, but it reminds Graves of the best Rollins that they have ever known, which means his heel run in 2015 as WWE Champion.

Analysis: I thought it was very effective as a storyline that put over the idea that Rollins is more focused than ever. You can tell that WWE is ready to give Rollins that big push by doing the “he’s better than ever” commentary routine. Lashley has been made to look like a loser for a few weeks now, which doesn’t bother me much, but it does hurt his credibility. This was more about pushing Rollins.

Ronda Rousey and Natalya were shown backstage looking ready to go. Ambrose vs. Crews is still to come.

(Commercial)

The announcers talked about how John Cena is back on Raw next week for a live Raw from Orlando.

The video package aired promoting the NXT stars coming to the main roster soon: Lars Sullivan, Lacey Evans, Heavy Machinery, Nikki Cross and EC3. They have been promoted in video packages over the last month.

Jinder Mahal, Samir Singh and Sunil Singh vs. Heath Slater and Rhyno

Mahal took control early with a clothesline. The Singhs hit a double team suplex on Slater for a two count. Slater hit a spin kick on Samir. Rhyno got a pop for the tag because he’s from Detroit. Rhyno with a shoulder tackle on both Singhs against the turnbuckle and a belly to belly suplex by Rhyno on both Singhs at the same time. Mahal back in and Rhyno hit a spinebuster on him. Renee said Rhyno looks like a million bucks, Graves questioned if that was pesos and she said Canadian dollars. That was a good exchange. Slater did a jumping attack on Samir on the floor. Mahal capitalized with a kick to Rhyno and The Khallas slam by Mahal on Rhyno for the win after three minutes.

Winners by pinfall: Jinder Mahal, Samir Singh and Sunil Singh

Analysis: * A quick match between characters that don’t mean much on Raw. It was good to see the Singhs in a match because they are talented even though I doubt they are regularly put in matches.

Dean Ambrose did a backstage promo about how he’s the moral compass of WWE. Ambrose said that he’ll make it his personal duty to ensure that Apollo Crews’ fresh start has a rotten end.

(Commercial)

The tag team champions Bobby Roode and Chad Gable said they’ll bring in the next year next week by beating The Revival while making the tag team division glorious…The Revival said they will be tag team champions to bring credibility to the division…Bayley and Sasha Banks were shown on camera with Bayley saying her resolution is to be the first ever Women’s Tag Team Champions in WWE with her best friend Sasha Banks. Banks said that 2019 will be the year for the Boss ‘N Hug Connection.

Analysis: There were Women’s Tag Team Titles about 30 years ago, but I guess WWE is going to order their talent to say that this a new thing.

Dean Ambrose made his entrance with the IC Title with Graves asking Renee what Dean’s resolution is. She didn’t answer that while mocking him for thinking they make resolutions. Replays aired of how we got to this match with Apollo Crews winning the battle royal. Apollo Crews made his entrance for this IC Title match.

Intercontinental Championship: Dean Ambrose vs. Apollo Crews

Crews started on fire with a dropkick, then he used his athleticism to avoid an attack and a jumping elbow. Crews with a sunset flip rollup for a two count. Crews sent Ambrose out of the ring with a clothesline and a moonsault off the apron to the floor. Ambrose bailed to the floor on the other side of the ring leading to a break.

(Commercial)

The match returned with Ambrose hitting a clothesline. Crews came back with an inside cradle for two. They did a double clothesline spot leading to both guys being down on the mat. Crews got some momentum going with a Samoan Drop for a two count. Crews up top with a cross body block into a pin for two. Crews hit a standing Shooting Star Press for two. That always looks great and the crowd popped for it. Crews with a suplex followed by a splash against the turnbuckle. Crews picked up Ambrose, who raked the eyes and Crews came back with a jumping kick to the head. Crews hit a sitout Powerbomb for a two count with Ambrose getting his hand on the bottom rope. Crews hit a somersault dive over the top onto Ambrose. Back in the ring, Crews went for a Frog Splash, Ambrose moved and Ambrose hit a Dirty Deeds DDT. Ambrose did a slow clover with his arm across the chest of Crews for the pinfall win after around 10 minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Dean Ambrose

Analysis: *** It was a very competitive match with Crews coming close to winning a few times. Seeing a guy like Crews in a good match like this is what we want when we talk about fresh faces getting a chance to show what they can do. I liked the story of the match with the heel Ambrose on the defensive the whole match with Crews on offense for about 90% of it. The story ended up being about how Ambrose found a way to get the job done as a clever heel that capitalized when Crews missed his big Frog Splash. Crews lost, but he looked great during the match. I hope he doesn’t get lost in the shuffle after this. Give Crews more opportunities.

The lovely Alexa Bliss did a promo talking about changes on Raw and how she’ll miss the Raw women’s division. Bliss said that she made history when she was in charge. Bliss said she’ll make history again because next week on Raw, she’ll get to host her own talk show called “A Moment of Bliss” with Bliss noting that she’s the first woman to host a talk show in WWE history. Bliss said her first guest is Ronda Rousey. Bliss said she knows Rousey looks up to Roddy Piper, but Rousey will be in the presence of a goddess and not in some pit (a reference to Piper’s Pit).

Analysis: Bliss hosting a talk show is fine with me because she’s entertaining when she does promos. I believe she’s close to being cleared to the return to the ring and it might be around the Royal Rumble later this month, but that’s not confirmed. She has been out for about two months with concussion issues.

The women’s tag team match is the main event.

(Commercial)

There was a video about Universal Champion Brock Lesnar being on Raw next week.

Nia Jax and Tamina made their entrance for the main event. Natalya was up first for the face team. Ronda Rousey, the Raw Women’s Champion, was last and she got one of the loudest ovations of the show. Rousey did her serious march down to the ring rather than playing to the crowd like she does sometimes.

Rousey and Natalya went into the ring with punches, which led to the heels retreating to the floor. Cole put over the story that Rousey was mad about Tamina and Nia doing the cheap attack to Natalya earlier in the night.

Ronda Rousey and Natalya vs. Tamina and Nia Jax

Rousey worked over Tamina with knees to the ribs and tossed Tamina down. Jax tagged in, Rousey went for an armbar on her and Jax managed to toss Rousey across the ring. Jax with a splash on Rousey against the turnbuckle followed by a body slam. Jax missed a splash attempt. Natalya tagged in against Tamina with Natalya hitting a dropkick. Natalya hit two suplexes on Tamina. Tamina missed a corner attack and Natalya hit a body slam for two. Jax pulled Tamina out of the ring, so Natalya hit a baseball slide dropkick to knock down the heels. Rousey tagged in, went to the top rope and hit a cross body block onto the heels on the floor. That was impressive.

(Commercial)

The match continued with Jax and Tamina in control with Jax hitting a running shoulder tackle on Natalya to make her the face in peril. Jax with a body slam on Natalya and a whip into the ring post. Jax slapped on a chinlock on Natalya while Rousey was looking for a tag. Natalya with a jawbreaker to break free, but Jax shoved Natalya back into the turnbuckle. Tamina tagged in with her own chinlock. Natalya ran the ropes leading to a cross body block. Natalya kicked Tamina away, Rousey got the tag and so did Jax. Rousey worked over Jax with punches to the body, a takedown and a running knee to the face by Rousey got a two count. Rousey hit a leaping punch to the face. Graves said that it was an elbow. I say punch. Jax picked Rousey up with a press slam for a two count with Rousey kicking out. Jax put Rousey on her shoulders and she went to the middle ropes, but Rousey fought out of it and Tamina made the blind tag. Tamina went into the ring and hit a superkick for a two count. Good nearfall there even though nobody believes Rousey will get pinned in a tag team match like this. It’s still a good spot to have a nearfall. Rousey with the armbar on Tamina, but Jax broke it up with a leg drop on Rousey. Natalya back in the ring with the spinning clothesline on Jax and Tamina with a superkick on Natalya to knock her out of the ring. Tamina covered Rousey for two. Tamina went up top for the splash, jumped off, Rousey got her feet up to block and Rousey slapped on the armbar on Tamina leading to a tapout win.

Winners by submission: Ronda Rousey and Natalya

Analysis: **1/4 It was a predictable tag team match with Natalya as the face in peril, Rousey getting the hot tag and finishing off the heels for the win. I think the issue with Rousey matches most of the time is you know she’s going to lose in a tag match like this, so there’s not much drama when the heels get a nearfall. They are following the tag team formula for a match and that’s fine, but it’s not that exciting either.

There were images shown hyping up next week on Raw: Braun Strowman and Brock Lesnar return to Raw. Plus, Chad Gable and Bobby Roode vs. The Revival for the Raw Tag Team Titles. Alexa Bliss hosts the “Moment of Bliss” talk show with Ronda Rousey as the guest. Also, John Cena is back next week.

Rousey and Natalya celebrated the win with their arms raised in the air and that was the end of the show.

Analysis: They are pushing next week’s show hard, which is smart because they are live again after two taped shows. The problem with next Monday is that the college football championships are next Monday on ESPN with Alabama facing Clemson (I’ll pick Bama to win) and that’s a game that will get about 15 million or more viewers. The week after that is when Raw might get back some of the viewers they have lost in recent months. Fans of WWE know January is Royal Rumble season, so that should lead to a boost in viewers later in the month.

 

Three Stars of the Show

1. Drew McIntyre

2. Dolph Ziggler

3. (tie) Apollo Crews

3. (tie) Seth Rollins

 

The Scoreboard

6.5 out of 10

Last week: 5.5

2018 Average: 5.63

Last 5 Weeks: 5.5, 5.5, 5, 4.5, 2.5

2018 High: 8 (February 19)

2018 Low: 2.5 (November 26)

 

Final Thoughts

I give it a 6.5 out of 10.

It was a pretty good show with some entertaining in-ring action all night long. The best match was the cage match to start the show with Drew McIntyre looking dominant with his performance. Apollo Crews had a good night as well with a strong showing in the battle royal and he was very competitive in the IC Title match as well.

I also thought it was an effective show in terms of how Seth Rollins was booked throughout the night with the promo exchange with Triple H and then his actions against Bobby Lashley. I am all for the push of Seth Rollins to the top of Raw.

There was more of a focus on in-ring action this week. That leads to a better show. It’s not great, but at least we got an above average Raw to end the year. That’s a positive heading into the new year.

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, Drew McIntyre)

Women’s Royal Rumble Match (Carmella is #30, Natalya, Ember Moon, Bayley, Sasha Banks, Ruby Riott, Sarah Logan, Liv Morgan)

Universal Championship: Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Braun Strowman

There are other matches, but I don’t want to spoil it for those of you that choose to avoid spoilers. You can check out the Smackdown review for those new matches.

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.

John Canton

Email: mrjohncanton@gmail.com

Twitter: @johnreport

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