12/3 Powell’s WWE Raw Live TV Review: Ronda Rousey and Natalya vs. Nia Jax and Tamina, Dean Ambrose returns, the build to WWE TLC continues

By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)

WWE Raw on the USA Network
Aired live on December 3, 2018 from Houston, Texas at Toyota Center

[Hour One] JoJo stood in the ring and asked fans to stand for a ten bell salute for the late George H.W. Bush. Photos of Bush were shown on the screen and then a graphic acknowledged his death… Michael Cole, Corey Graves, and Renee Young were on commentary…

Raw Women’s Champion Ronda Rousey headed to the ring and then the rest of the introductions took place for the women’s tag match. Just as the referee was about to start the Rousey and Natalya vs. Nia Jax and Tamina match, Riott Squad made their entrance. It distracted Rousey and Natalya long enough for the heel duo to attack them. Jax and Tamina worked over Rousey while Riott Squad attacked Natalya.

Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan set up a table on the floor. Ruby Riott superkicked Natalya off the apron and into a double powerbomb from Morgan and Logan, who drove her through the table. Rousey and a pair of referees checked on Natalya as she sold at ringside…

Powell’s POV: A good opening angle, but two things stand out. One, babyfaces don’t have friends who will save them in situations like this. Two, Natalya is beaten up and left lying on a near weekly basis. By the way, WWE is already doing local television advertising for Smackdown in Minneapolis on March 2 with Daniel Bryan vs. AJ Styles and Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte Flair advertised.

Alexa Bliss headed to the ring where a pair of chairs were set up. Bliss recalled being placed in charge of the Raw women’s division by Baron Corbin. She promised to work hard to give the best that the division has to offer. She said her open forum with Sasha Banks and Bayley didn’t go according to plan. Bliss introduced Sasha and Bayley to come out and noted that Charly Caruso was at ringside ready to take fan questions.

Sasha and Bayley recalled being attacked by Mickie James, Dana Brooke, and Alicia Fox. Bliss claimed she had nothing to do with that and James and Fox were both reprimanded. A fan asked about Banks using Bayley. Banks mockingly said Bayley wasn’t supposed to find out, and they both laughed if off. Another fan asked if they could be any superstars from any era then who would they be. Both women said Trish Stratus and Lita.

The next fan asked if they could have any superpower what would it be. Bayley said she would like to have the power to make Bliss disappear. She took a celebratory lap around her chair. Bliss reminded her that she beat her for the title. A fan asked what changes they would bring to the women’s division in 2019. Bayley said they want to be the first WWE women’s tag team champions. Fans cheered.

James, Brooke, and Fox hit the ring, but Bliss barked at them and made them stop on the apron. Bliss booked Sasha and Bayley vs. James and Fox on the spot… [C]

Powell’s POV: A painful segment. Fans cheered the tag title tease and I suspect that’s basically why this segment occurred, but it was long and the crowd seemed restless throughout most of it. Meanwhile, the ad that aired was a split screen ad similar to those that air on Smackdown.

1. Sasha Banks and Bayley vs. Alicia Fox and Mickie James (w/Dana Brooke). Banks performed a Backstabber, then Bayley performed her Bayley to Belly finisher on James and pinned her. Bliss clapped for Sasha and Bayley afterward…

Sasha Banks and Bayley over Alicia Fox and Mickie James in 4:30.

A Drew McIntyre Appreciation Night segment was announced for later in the show, and Graves hyped an inspirational look at Baron Corbin’s rise to power for after the break… [C]

Powell’s POV: Is it really a good idea to tease a Corbin video as a hook going into a commercial? Anyway, it’s only a matter of time before we get women’s tag titles, and Banks and Bayley seem to be the early favorites to hold the titles. Of course, plenty can happen between now and whenever they introduce the titles. It sounds like a good idea until Vince McMahon inevitably loses interest in the women’s tag titles and they become a afterthought just like the men’s tag titles are these days.

Musical act Morgan Waller was shown in the front row. Cole said Waller is involved with Tribute to the Troops this year…

Powell’s POV: Is weed legal in Texas? Morgan’s eye say yes.

Backstage, Rousey told Bliss that Riott Squad crossed the line. She also said she would take care of Jax and Tamina backstage if she had to. Bliss said she’d help find her a partner. Rousey said everyone knows Bliss doesn’t have a conscience and said she would find her own partner…

A video package aired on Baron Corbin’s rise. It was like a political ad with the narrator encouraging people to be on the right side of history… Graves hyped Corbin vs. Braun Strowman for the pay-per-view…

Corbin was shown backstage. Chad Gable and Bobby Roode showed up and said they want a rematch with AOP for the tag titles. Roode said he would do anything to get his hands on Drake Maverick to get his hands on. Corbin pointed out they lost, then said he would give them a title shot if Roode could beat Maverick. Roode wondered what the catch was. Corbin said there was no catch and added that Gable and AOP would be banned from ringside…

Powell’s POV: So now we have both heel authority figures pretending to play nice with the babyfaces.

“Lucha House Party” Kalisto, Gran Metalik, and Lince Dorado made their entrance for a match… [C] The Revival came out and once again complained about LHP not respecting tag team wrestling. Scott Dawson said it they can’t respect tag team wrestling then he would team them a lesson in a singles match…

2. Kalisto, Gran Metalik, and Lince Dorado vs. Scott Dawson (w/Dash Wilder). JoJo announced the match as being fought under LHP rules, making it a three-on-one match. Graves complained. Cole said someone was clearly making the matches and he shouldn’t blame LHP. In the end, Metalik performed a springboard senton and scored the pin…

Kalisto, Gran Metalik, and Lince Dorado beat Scott Dawson in 2:40.

Powell’s POV: Two talented teams, one joke told three weeks in a row.

Corbin was looking at paperwork when a man showed up and handed him a jewelry box. Corbin scolded the man for being late, then said it was perfect for McIntyre’s appreciation night… [C] An ad for Smackdown hyped a contract signing between Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair, and Asuka, and Daniel Bryan appearing on Miz TV…

Corbin stood in the ring and ran through his management rise. He said if you are born better than anyone else then you can achieve anything. Corbin spoke about his enemies and said Drew McIntyre made his life pain free lately, thus it was his appreciation night. A McIntyre video package aired and then he made his entrance.

[Hour Two] Corbin thanked and praised McIntyre, then presented him with a medal. McIntyre complained about wrestlers playing video games in the back when he returned and deciding to reform Raw in his image. McIntyre said Finn Balor is a boy in a man’s world. He said he would break him at the pay-per-view.

Dolph Ziggler’s bad record scratch and dreadful music interrupted McIntyre. Ziggler questioned if McIntyre had a memory problem. He said he brought McIntyre to Raw and they dominated, yet he wasn’t even in his video package. He wondered if his invitation to McIntyre’s party was lost in the mail.

McIntyre said Ziggler was never invited. Fans booed. McIntyre said Ziggler doesn’t meet the height requirement for one. McIntyre he said he was always the brains, muscle, and talent of their business relationship, which he said is no longer working for him. McIntyre said Ziggler’s role was to get him into a prominent position and he succeeded for once in his life. McIntyre thanked Ziggler, then tried to shoo him away.

When Ziggler didn’t leave, McIntyre said he should kiss his feet because he’s the reason Ziggler became relevant for the first time in ten years. Ziggler hit McIntyre several times and gave him a Zigzag. Ziggler’s craptastic music played and he tried to leave, but Corbin called him back for a match with McIntyre… [C]

Powell’s POV: All I want for Christmas is new theme music for Ziggler. Yes, I know everyone has different musical tastes, and that some of you actually like his entrance theme. Hey, to each his own, just as long as you know that you were born with a shitty ear for music. It’s probably a genetic defect so there’s not much you can do about it.

3. Drew McIntyre vs Dolph Ziggler. The match was joined in progress. McIntyre took offensive control and said over the house mic that he was going to pretend Ziggler was someone he disliked, Finn Balor. McIntyre worked over Ziggler at ringside and then rolled him back inside the ring. Finn Balor walked out minus music heading into a break. [C]

Balor watched the match from ringside as McIntyre continued to work over Ziggler. Dolph performed a DDT and took offensive control until McIntyre caught him with a headbutt at ringside. McIntyre crotched Ziggler on the barricade and then rolled him back inside the ring. As the ref tended to Ziggler, Balor performed a running dropkick on McIntyre, who was nearly counted out. Ziggler caught McIntyre with a superkick and pinned him. Cole said he believed it was the first time that McIntyre had been pinned or submitted since he returned to Raw…

Dolph Ziggler pinned Drew McIntyre.

Graves hyped Dean Ambrose as coming up later. Cole set up footage of Corbin, McIntyre, and Bobby Lashley beating up Elias last week. Elias was shown walking backstage… [C]

Powell’s POV: Good booking in that they made everyone wait to see McIntyre take Ziggler’s head off with a Claymore Kick. Wait, what do you mean McIntyre isn’t the babyface?

Caruso asked McIntyre if it’s smart to turn on Ziggler when he has others like Balor targeting him. McIntyre said Ziggler was never a friend, he was an asset. McIntyre said Ziggler was a parasite who attached himself to him on his rise to the top…

Elias sat in the ring and played his guitar. He was about to sing a song when he was interrupted by Lio Rush, who introduced Bobby Lashley and gushed over him. Lashley did his “favorite pose” while bending over in Elias’s direction.

Elias went after him on the stage and ended up running Lashley into the LED wall. Elias chased after Lashley with a guitar, but Lashley scurried backstage. Rush appeared on the stage again. Elias hit him with his guitar. It was revealed that Finn Balor tossed Rush onto the stage. Elias pointed at Balor, who did the too sweet sign…

Backstage, Jinder Mahal and the Singh Brothers approached Corbin. Mahal said Corbin will put an end to Braun Strowman regardless of the rumors of him showing up. Mahal asked Corbin to let him take care of Balor tonight. Corbin granted him the match and mocked the notion of Strowman showing up because “he’s a one-armed man.”

After Jinder Mahal left, Heath Slater and Rhyno entered the area. Corbin noted that he’d been crunching numbers and there was only enough room for one of them on Raw. Corbin told one of them to quit to save the other man’s job. Neither man wanted to quit. Corbin booked them in a match against one another and said the loser would be fired…

Powell’s POV: Hey, Corbin, let’s make it a triple threat with Jinder Mahal.

4. Drake Maverick vs. Bobby Roode. AOP and Chad Gable were banned from ringside. Maverick came out in his AOP gear. Young said she wasn’t buying that it would be a fair situation. Roode punched Maverick several times, then a shot of AOP destroying Gable backstage was shown on the big screen. Corbin told AOP he changed the match to a three on two match.

Roode performed his finisher on Maverick, but AOP got to the ring before he could get the pin. Chad Gable walked out and threw some punches at AOP before they got the better of him. In the end, AOP performed the Super Collider. Maverick tagged in and pinned Roode…

AOP and Drake Maverick defeated Chad Gable and Bobby Roode in 3:35.

Powell’s POV: Hey, LHP rules! Ugh. Well, at least Renee Young didn’t have to act like an idiot and be the only person who thought there wouldn’t be a swerve. Nope, that was Michael Cole, who congratulated her for figuring it out.

Cole and company recapped footage of Dean Ambrose attacking Seth Rollins two weeks ago, and then of his promo from the doctor’s office last week. Graves hyped Ambrose for after the break… [C]

A graphic noted that Nia Jax was a star basketball player prior to WWE… Cole congratulated John Cena for winning an award from Sports Illustrated…

[Hour Three] Sirens sounded and men dressed in black and wearing gas masks walked onto the stage. Dean Ambrose’s music played and he walked out wearing a gas mask. Ambrose delivered his promo through the gas mask. He said you can’t be too safe in a dangerous slum like Houston. Ambrose said he needed those measures to protect him from “that madman” Rollins.

Ambrose removed the gas mask. He complained about fans sticking their phones in his faces. He also asked if they know what it’s like to live with someone who always has to be right. He said they do and asked if they slap that person in the mouth. He said they don’t because they have no character. He complained they cheer Rollins.

Ambrose said he was once proud of the Shield, but then Rollins and Roman Reigns started caring about being role models. Ambrose said he hasn’t changed and he’s the only person in the business who has integrity. Ambrose labeled himself the moral compass of WWE. Ambrose said Rollins will lose control of himself and the Intercontinental Championship at the pay-per-view. He said the title would fall safely into his hands.

Seth Rollins made his entrance through the crowd and roughed up a couple of the gas mask wearing “swat team members” before dumping Ambrose to ringside. Rollins kept working over the swat team members, then chased Ambrose into the crowd where they traded punches. Rollins got the better of the exchange and threw Ambrose over the barricade. Rollins leapt off the barricade, but Ambrose hit him with a gas mask.

Ambrose punched Rollins repeatedly on the floor while fans chanted “you suck” at him. Ambrose performed Dirty Deeds on the floor and then said, “He doesn’t have integrity, I have integrity.” A couple of the swat teamers thew Rollins back inside the ring. Ambrose performed Dirty Deeds again…

Powell’s POV: I’m sure everyone has a Bane joke for Ambrose’s gas mask bit, but there’s no denying that his entrance was unique and it grabbed my attention. Ambrose is working hard to be a heel with no redeeming qualities. Unfortunately, it didn’t stop a few fans from chanting “one more time” after he performed Dirty Deeds the second time.

Graves asked Young what’s going on with Ambrose. She said she doesn’t know what else he wants her to say. She said she’s in a precarious situation with this. He asked if she knows or not. “No one is entitled to know what goes on behind closed doors between a husband and a wife,” Young said. “How dare you”.

Cole transitioned into recapping the opening angle…

Caruso interviewed Jax and Tamina backstage and informed them that Rousey would be teaming with Ember Moon. Jax said that was a shame because they were hoping Caruso was going to be Rousey’s partner. Jax said that sounded ridiculous, but it was just as ridiculous as anyone teaming with Rousey against them. She said she would rearrange Ember’s appearance just like she did with Becky Lynch, and then they would torture Rousey while on her way to recovery “what is mine… MINE!!!”…

Powell’s POV: Jax’s promo was a little wordy, but I like the calm, intimidating approach (prior to her screaming “mine” into the microphone).

5. Rhyno vs. Heath Slater in a loser is fired match. Rhyno punched Slater in the face and then worked him over to start. Slater came back with a neckbreaker and scored the pin. Slater didn’t look pleased as he left the ring and Rhyno acted shocked and disappointed…

Heath Slater pinned Rhyno in 1:05.

Young hyped Balor vs. Mahal… [C]

Powell’s POV: If Rhyno is moved to Smackdown then his character just failed forward.

Backstage, Corbin applauded Slater, who asked if there was anything he could do for Rhyno, who has a family. Corbin told him he could put on his new uniform. Corbin informed Slater that he was keeping him on as a referee…

Powell’s POV: This actually has some short-term potential. Fans like Slater and I could see them getting behind him if he makes life miserable for the heels. That said, I assume Slater is a referee for a week or so and then the new general manager, who may be the old general manager Kurt Angle, rehires Rhyno.

6. Finn Balor vs. Jinder Mahal (w/Samir Singh, Sunil Singh). Mahal’s entrance was not televised. Mahal was on the offensive heading into an early break. [C] Balor came back, but the Singh Brothers ran interference. Apollo Crews ran out and roughed up the Singh Brothers until Mahal hit him with a slow superkick. Balor performed a flip dive on Mahal, then rolled him back inside the ring and performed a running dropkick and a Coup de Grace for the win…

Finn Balor defeated Jinder Mahal in 7:30.

Powell’s POV: Hey, Crews is back for the first time since beating Mahal a few weeks ago. Balor’s stock continues to be up due to the shortage of babyfaces, but the problem he’s running into is that there aren’t many heels who matter on Raw these days. He’ll work with one in Drew McIntyre at TLC, but the company just gave away his first pinfall loss since his return to Ziggler tonight with zero build.

Caruso interviewed Balor and said he’s had a hell of a night. Before he could say much, McIntyre attacked him from behind. A pair of referees tried to intervene. McIntyre backed off, then came back for round two, which brought in another referee and Adam Pearce…

The broadcast team spoke about Lars Sullivan and set up a video package. Sullivan spoke as footage aired. He said it doesn’t matter which brand he chooses to go to, he will wreak havoc the magnitude of which you have never seen. Sullivan said you have never seen a freak like him…

Powell’s POV: Here’s something the company is getting right. Fans in the building just sort of sat there, but I like the way they are making Sullivan a free agent and generating interest in his main roster debut.

Ring entrances for the main event tag match took place. Jax and Tamina were out first. Rousey was all business during her second entrance. Moon’s entrance started and the heels attacked Rousey from behind. Moon rushed to the ring to help. Rousey and Moon cleared the heel duo from the ring… [C]

7. Ronda Rousey and Ember Moon vs. Nia Jax and Tamina. The match was joined in progress. Moon was isolated by the heels. Rousey tagged in and wanted to face Jax, who tagged out and acted fearful. Rousey used the ropes to bring her into the ring. Tamina went after Rousey, who quickly took advantage. Moon performed the Eclipse, then Rousey applied her armbar on Tamina for the win.

Ronda Rousey and Ember Moon over Nia Jax and Tamina.

Powell’s POV: I’m not a fan of Jax acting timid. She’s a monster and watching her show fear going into a big showdown match the same way Alexa Bliss would just takes something away from her and the match. Overall, Raw was an improvement over last week, but it would have been hard to get much worse. I will have more to say in my members’ audio review coming up later tonight.

Check below for the new Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell and Jonny Fairplay discussing WWE Raw’s struggles, All Elite Wrestling, Johnny Impact on Survivor, and Drake Maverick’s gimmick infringement.


Readers Comments (12)

  1. A boring and awkward women’s segment? A three-on-one match where the “babyfaces” have the advantage? Stick a fork in Raw because this show is done.

  2. Hyping Corbin could work on this particular show, especially if/when it involves McIntyre and Strowman.. Also, now that that Total Divas finale has aired, perhaps Nattie can turn heel, that’d be nice.

    • Not if fans turn the channel before those things happen.

      • Fair point, but if I were watching live, I’d be wanting Strowman to show up every time I see Corbin.. As for Ziggler, I agree he needs new music, sadly it doesn’t have the long term appeal of ‘Sexy Boy’ or ‘Real American’

  3. I am hoping a returning Bray Wyatt can save this episode. Natty getting her ass kicked all the time is wishing she would just go away. Which isn’t her fault, it’s whoever is scripting this garbage. I like face Ziggler, I agree get new music. Also I noticed Raw is very heel heavy on the women’s side. Only choice I could think of for Rousey is Ember Moon. I guess I’ll see later.

    • What would Bray do? Except maybe a Sister Abigail to Corbin.

      Well, I’d like McIntyre as a face, but also want, I’d like Rollins v. McIntyre at WrestleMania for the Universal title.

      In fact, Triple threat match for McIntyre to qualify for the Rumble would involve Heath Slater and Jinder Mahal..

  4. Ok. I have been flipping around a lot tonight. The Knicks played the Wizards and I’ve peaked at the football game here and there, but Raw is just so boring to me. Kind of waiting until the first of the year before things heat up again.

  5. Can I change my wish? I want the insane Rhyno who actually wins. I respect and like Heath, but c’mon…

  6. Still no f’n Bray Wyatt. Ugh!!

  7. okay seriously Renee Young makes me want to mute the whole damn show,her reactions to people getting slammed into the barricade give me douche chills… and that big hillbilly Sara Logan continues to look absolutely ridiculous with her wannabe Viking war paint.

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