By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw on the USA Network
Aired live on December 10, 2018 from San Diego, California at Valley View Casino Center
[Hour One] Seth Rollins’ music played and he was already in the ring to start the show. Rollins plugged his TLC pay-per-view match with Dean Ambrose and then called out Baron Corbin “for a dose of reality.” Michael Cole, Corey Graves, and Renee Young checked in on commentary while Corbin made his entrance.
Corbin said they could have a conversation in private and added his door is always open to a superstar of his caliber. Rollins told him to cut the crap. Rollins said he’d been too caught up with his feud with Ambrose to tell Corbin what he thinks of his work as general manager. “Under your leadership, Monday Night Raw has sucked,” Rollins said. “And it has sucked because of you.”
Rollins said what Corbin has done as general manager has been wrong. Corbin said he was allowing Rollins to vent but warned that he should watch how he talks to him. Rollins sang the praises of the locker room by saying it was one of the most talented in the show’s history. Rollins complained about the Revival competing in Lucha House Rules matches when they should be challenging for the tag titles. Rollins also mocked the urination jokes.
“Every decision you have made has been to mask your insecurities,” Rollins said. He mocked him by asking if Braun Strowman was mean to him. Rollins also complained about Brock Lesnar only showing up when he wants to show up. Rollins said he never shows up and questioned where he is. Rollins asked if Corbin knew when the last time Lesnar worked a Raw match. Rollins noted that it was in 2002.
Rollins said Corbin’s run has been an abject failure. He said the morale, fan support, and television ratings are all at an all-time low “and it’s all because of you.” Corbin said the next time he had feedback he could slide it under his door. Corbin said he wouldn’t care. He said Raw is his show and it will be for a long time. He threatened that things will only get worse for Rollins.
Corbin said he’ll defeat Strowman via forfeit to become the permanent general manager. He acted disappointed because he always wanted to be in a TLC match. Corbin said he would put Rollins through hell starting next week until the day he quits. Rollins challenged him to make his life hell starting tonight and challenged him to a TLC match.
Every time Corbin tried to decline the match, Rollins called him a coward. Corbin finally got upset and gave Rollins the TLC match and said it would be for the Intercontinental Championship…
Cole and Graves hyped the TLC match and announced AOP and Drake Maverick vs. Chad Gable and Bobby Roode in a handicap match for the Raw Tag Titles… [C]
Powell’s POV: Finally, a compelling segment with Rollins pointing out the shittiness that has been Raw lately even if he was blaming Corbin rather than the guy in charge of writing the show. If you’re looking for a word play, Corbin said Rollins had his TLC match, but he never confirmed it would be against him. Either way, it’s a nice hook and it looks like the company is finally out to do something to improve their lousy ratings.
Rollins was interviewed backstage and was asked if he regretted calling out Corbin. Rollins said it may not have been the smartest move, but he can’t let Corbin get away with it anymore. He said that if he wants to be a leader to “the guys and girls back here” then he has to take a stand…
1. Akam, Rezar, and Drake Maverick vs. Bobby Roode and Chad Gable in a handicap match for the Raw Tag Titles. AOP’s entrance was not televised. Maverick was launched by Roode and Gable onto AOP at ringside heading into a break. [C]
AOP took offensive control and hit their neckbreaker powerbomb on Gable. Maverick called for a tag and AOP obliged. Maverick got cocky and played to the crowd before making a lazy cover, which led to Roode countering him into a pin for the win…
Bobby Roode and Chad Gable defeated AOP and Drake Maverick to win the Raw Tag Titles in 8:25.
The broadcast team recapped Drew McIntyre attacking Finn Balor last week. They announced Balor was not at Raw due to injury. They also hyped McIntyre vs. Dolph Ziggler, and the TLC match… Natalya made her entrance… [C]
Powell’s POV: When you tell people your show sucks and is drawing record low ratings, it’s only logical that you would follow it up with a feel good, newsworthy moment. Here’s hoping they also follow up Seth’s comments about The Revival by having them take the titles from Roode and Gable soon.
Bobby Roode and Chad Gable were celebrating their win when Charly Caruso approached them with a mic. Roode spoke about how they kept putting in the work. Gable said only one word comes to mind to describe how they feel. Yep, glorious…
Powell’s POV: I guess no one bothered to let Vince know that the thrill with glorious is gone. Baby steps, folks.
Natalya stood in the ring and thanked the fans for their reaction. She said she normally comes out with a huge smile on her face because she wears her heart on her sleeve. She said loves the business, but Ruby Riott doesn’t respect the business or one person in it. She said Riott made thing personal when she destroyed her father’s sunglasses.
Natalya took exception to Riott saying she used her family name. She spoke about Bret Hart punching Vince McMahon in the face and other examples of things she had to overcome to make it in the company. Natalya dedicated her TLC match to her late father Jim Neidhart. Natalya wiped her eyes.
Riott Squad made their entrance. Riott walked out with a mic while Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan carried a covered table onto the stage. Morgan and Logan set up the table and headed backstage. Riott mocked Natalya for crying again “like we’ve never seen this before.” Riott said Natalya doesn’t need respect, she needs a good counselor.
Riott said Natalya doesn’t represent the Hart family, she disgraces them. She said she knows she won’t be invited to the Hart family Christmas, but she got Natalya the gift that keeps on giving. Riott pulled the cover off the table to reveal that it has Neidhart’s image on it. She said Natalya and her daddy would be closer than ever once she puts her through his table on Sunday…
A Dolph Ziggler selfie promo aired. He said Drew McIntyre should not have pretended he was Finn Balor last week, he should have remembered he’s Dolph Ziggler… [C] An ad for Smackdown hyped Charlotte Flair vs. Asuka, and the rap battle…
Powell’s POV: It does feel like Natalya cries or gets beaten up every week, so score one for Ruby. I’m happy to see women who are not in the title picture get an actual storyline, but I find the way they are using Neidhart’s death to be a turnoff.
An ad with Miz and Maryse aired to promote next week’s WWE Holiday Week on USA Network… A Finn Balor “Superstar Facts” graphic was shown. It noted that he relocated from Ireland to Japan to hone his skills before moving to the U.S. to work in NXT…
Drew McIntyre made his entrance. It was noted a couple more times that Balor was not at Raw due to injury. Caruso met McIntyre in the ring and asked him why he would face Ziggler on Raw when he is scheduled to face Balor on Sunday. He spoke about being the most dangerous man in WWE. McIntyre said he is making Raw a better place for everyone. He said the fans don’t have to like him, but they will respect him. He said Ziggler is the guy who is about to get his head kicked off. Ziggler’s dreadful entrance music played and he made his entrance…
2. Drew McIntyre vs. Dolph Ziggler. McIntyre got an early two count heading into a break. [C] McIntyre hooked Ziggler around his back and then leapt back first off the middle rope, which led to another two count.
[Hour Two] A short time later, McIntyre took a bump into the ring post and barely beat the referee’s count. Ziggler set up for a superkick and collapsed. McIntyre laughed. McIntyre pulled the bottom rope in and encouraged Ziggler to grab it and help himself. Ziggler got up and performed a Zigzag for a two count. Ziggler set up for a superkick, but McIntyre beat him to the punch with a Claymore Kick and scored the pin.
Drew McIntyre pinned Dolph Ziggler in 8:30.
After the match, McIntyre ran Ziggler into the post and worked him over at ringside. McIntyre took the ring steps apart and wanted to powerbomb Ziggler onto the bottom half, but referees and producers ran out and talked him down. McIntyre kicked Ziggler again before leaving…
Powell’s POV: A good match. McIntyre is the best heel on the brand. I’m happy they seem to have moved on from the Corbin, McIntyre, and Lashley alliance, as the trio had no chemistry. On a side note, it’s funny that company officials race out to stop a powerbomb, but the same company has tables, ladders, and chairs set up all around the ring and on the stage tonight because of Sunday’s theme.
The broadcast team recapped Heath Slater pinning Rhyno in a loser is fired match, followed by Baron Corbin making Slater a new referee… Sasha Banks and Bayley made their entrance while Young worked in another reference to women’s tag titles. Cole hyped Bayley vs. Alicia Fox for after the break while working in a plug for their involvement in the Mixed Match Challenge… [C]
3. Bayley (w/Sasha Banks) vs. Alicia Fox (w/Jinder Mahal, Singh Brothers). Believe it or not, Fox and Jinder’s entrance was televised. Cole announced that Apollo Crews will replace Finn Balor as Bayley’s partner in the MMC match against Fox and Mahal tomorrow. Bayley had Fox down and was setting up for her finisher when Jinder and the Singhs distracted her. Crews ran out and worked over the heels at ringside with help from Bayley. In the ring, Bayley hit her Bayley to Belly finisher on Fox and pinned her…
Bayley pinned Alicia Fox in 3:45.
Dean Ambrose was shown backstage looking at the monitor that showed a graphic for the Rollins vs. Corbin match… [C]
Powell’s POV: Maybe Dean is just a big fan of WWE’s graphic design work? By the way, they aired an ad on USA for the return of the Temptation Island reality show. It’s a sleazy reality show where four unmarried couples are tempted by singles who are trying to pry them apart. It was so wrong and yet I loved the original! Yes, I’m a lousy person.
Backstage, Caruso introduced Ambrose as the Lunatic Fringe. Ambrose told her not to ever call him that again. Ambrose spoke about how Rollins likes to keep the spotlight on himself. He questioned why he would put his title on the line against Corbin, then blamed it on his ego. Ambrose stopped short of calling Rollins a piece of shit, then said that if Rollins is still IC Champion after Raw then he will take his title on Sunday and tell him what he thinks of him to his face.
Caruso asked how Roman Reigns would react if he knew what was happening between him and Rollins. “Roman? Who cares?” Ambrose replied. Caruso set up a video package on Ambrose turning on Rollins on the night Reigns announced his leukemia battle, and running through last week’s gas mask promo. Back live, Caruso put the mic up to Ambrose, who walked away without saying anything…
Alexa Bliss’s press conference for Ronda Rousey vs. Nia Jax was hyped, then Elias was shown backstage while Cole said he had a song about Bobby Lashley… [C]
Ring announcer JoJo introduced Elias, who played his guitar. He claimed Bobby Lashley said in a radio interview that he would like to move every sports team out of San Diego and move it to a cool city like LA. Elias said if it was up to San Diego they wouldn’t let Lashley perform. Elias said he’d rather perform down at the Gaslamp District than for LA trash. Elias sang a song with a punchline of how bad Bobby Lashley sucks. Bobby Lashley’s music interrupted and then he and Lio Rush walked out as Cole hyped Elias vs. Rush for after the break… [C]
Powell’s POV: Meh. Not one of Elias’s stronger verbal outings. I doubt anyone from LA will care about his line because they are too vain to think he was talking about them in particular. I’m kidding, LA (kinda).
4. Elias vs. Lio Rush (w/Bobby Lashley). Heath Slater came out to serve as the referee for the match. Elias powerbombed Rush and had him pinned, but Lashley ran in and broke it up. Slater wanted to call for the bell. Lashley made it clear that wasn’t a good idea. Lashley worked over Elias. Rush slid the guitar inside the ring and then Lashley broke it over the back of Elias. Rush covered Elias for the pin, which Slater reluctantly counted…
Lio Rush defeated Elias in 4:10.
An ad for NXT hyped Ricochet defending the NXT North American Championship in an open challenge… [C]
Powell’s POV: I’m surprised they didn’t make a big fuss over Rush being put in the ring with Lashley. Granted, those who watch 205 Live know he’s a talented wrestler, but it may have been a hook for the masses who aren’t watching the cruiserweight show to think that the annoying Rush could be put in his place. By the way, you can join John Moore every Wednesday night for live coverage of NXT as it streams on WWE Network.
After showing a family that was upgraded to ringside seats in a phone company ad campaign, the broadcast team set up a recap of Rollins blaming Corbin for Raw being the shits lately. They also replayed Ruby Riott unveiling the Neidhart table, and McIntyre destroying Ziggler…
Slater was shown backstage looking unhappy. Corbin congratulated him and told him he did a good job. He asked him about Rhyno and told him to get over ending his career. Slater said he was going home, but Corbin informed him that he had another match to ref…
Alexa Bliss made her entrance to a flat reaction.
[Hour Three] Nia Jax and Tamina made their reaction to a slightly louder reaction. Jax said she will become the Raw Women’s Champion at the direct expense of Ronda Rousey. Jax being cracked in the head in UFC did a number on Ronda’s logic. She said if Ronda had sense, she would lay the title at her feet and spare her the beating at TLC.
Jax said she doesn’t talk trash and dubbed herself the anti-Rousey. Jax showed off her fist and boasted about breaking Becky Lynch’s face with one punch. She said she would punch Rousey repeatedly until she taps out just to stop her. Jax did the “MY TITLE” scream again.
Ronda Rousey made her entrance and headed straight to the ring. She said she didn’t come to talk, she came to fight. Rousey rushed into the ring and Jax and Tamina fled to ringside. They teased a double team attack, but Ember Moon came out and stood by Rousey in the ring. Cole hyped Moon vs. Tamina for after the break… [C]
Powell’s POV: I’m so happy we didn’t get another batch of fan questions, which is what they were teasing for that segment. Jax was solid, but her promo was wordy and she seemed to lose people as it went on.
5. Ember Moon (w/Ronda Rousey) vs. Tamina (w/Nia Jax). The match was joined in progress. Moon dropkicked Tamina, whose head hit the bottom rope when she landed. Jax stood in front of Tamina at ringside and jawed at Rousey, who gave her the mean look. Back in the ring, Moon leapt off the top rope and into a big boot from Tamina. Moon eventually bounced back and performed an Eclipse for the win after Rousey dumped Jax over the barricade…
Ember Moon over Tamina in 5:15 of television time.
Cole hyped the main event… [C]
Powell’s POV: WWE failed to make Jax feel like a monster and a true threat to Rousey. Jax acted fearful last week and Rousey roughed her up with ease in this segment. It just doesn’t feel like a showdown match and that’s too bad considering that Jax is the monster heel of the division.
Corbin was on his phone backstage when Caruso entered the room and asked if he felt the match was an abuse of power. Corbin asked if she was trying to get shipped to Smackdown, then said he was kidding. He said he simply accepted a challenge, then boasted he would beat Strowman by forfeit on Sunday. Caruso asked if she was worried that Strowman might show up. Corbin downplayed the idea and said he’ll become the permanent general manager and the locker room will say all hail Baron Corbin…
The broadcast team ran through the pay-per-view lineup and announced Elias vs. Bobby Lashley in a ladder match, and touted Buddy Murphy vs. Cedric Alexander for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship. Cole explained that a guitar will hang above the ring for Elias vs. Lashley and the person who pulls it down can use it as a weapon…
Heath Slater headed to the ring to serve as the referee for the main event. Young was talking as they cut to commercial in mid-sentence. Oops… [C]
The broadcast team set up the latest Lars Sullivan video package. He said what happens at TLC will be a minor tremor compared to the earthquake that occurs when he comes to WWE. “You have never seen a freak like me,” Sullivan concluded. A graphic noted that “Lars Sullivan is lurking”…
Ring entrances for the main event took place. The Intercontinental Championship was hanging above the ring, and tables, ladders, and chairs were on the stage, ramp, and at ringside…
6. Seth Rollins vs. Baron Corbin in a TLC match for the Intercontinental Championship. JoJo delivered in-ring introductions for the title match, and Slater was the referee. Corbin barked at Slater early on. Slater went to ringside to retrieve a ladder per Corbin’s order. Rollins performed a springboard clothesline. Corbin rolled to ringside and Slater returned to the ring without the ladder heading into a break. [C]
Young and Graves bickered about Corbin. Young said it would be a sad day for everyone employed by WWE if the man who singlehandedly turned people off from Raw becomes permanent general manager. Corbin was working over Rollins at ringside when Graves said Young was enjoying it because the more damage that Corbin does to Rollins, the better the chances are of Dean Ambrose winning the championship. Young said she wouldn’t lie, if Ambrose wins the title it brings more money into her household. What a mess.
In the ring, Corbin suplexed Rollins onto a ladder that was leaning against the corner. Rollins bounced back, but Corbin backdropped him to ringside. Corbin made a play for the belt. Rollins raced back to the ring and stopped him. Corbin knocked Rollins down to ringside again heading into another break. [C]
Rollins ended up with a chair and worked over Corbin until he rolled to ringside. Rollins performed a pair of suicide dives onto him and went for a third, but Corbin caught him and slammed him through a table on the floor. Later, Rollins accidentally hit Slater with a chair. REF BUMP!!!
Corbin went for End of Days on the floor. Rollins flipped himself over, then ducked a charging Corbin, who crashed into the ring steps. Rollins placed Corbin on a table at ringside and then performed a top rope frogsplash that drove him through the table. Rollins rolled back inside the ring and made a play for the belt while selling his injuries from the match.
Slater returned and shoved the ladder over, causing Rollins to take a safe bump onto the ropes. Slater rolled Corbin back inside the ring and helped put him in position to climb the ladder. Rollins took out Slater in a spot the camera missed, then Rollins powerbombed Corbin from the ladder and through a table set up in the corner. Rollins superkicked Slater after Cole said you have to feel for him due to the position he’d been put in. Rollins performed the Stomp on Corbin and pulled down the title to win the match.
Seth Rollins defeated Baron Corbin in 24:30 in a TLC match to retain the Intercontinental Championship.
After the match, Dean Ambrose walked onto the stage and looked at Rollins, who glared back at him from the top of the ladder while Cole closed out Raw by hyping their match for Sunday…
Powell’s POV: The closing minutes were very good with the crowd coming to life for Seth’s big spots. It’s perfectly logical that Ambrose waited to come out rather than attacking Rollins during the match because it would have cost him a shot at the Intercontinental Championship. In fact, it would have made more sense if he had stopped Corbin at some point, but that would have been confusing.
It’s interesting that they spent the entire show blaming Corbin for the sad state of Raw, yet he was all over the show and in a 24-minute main event. In fairness, they are blaming his work as the storyline general manager for Raw’s sad state rather than him as a wrestler. Raw was an improved effort and it was nice to see them offer some hint that they are aware of how bad things are, but there were still some of logic gaps and awkward moments, which I’ll discuss in my Raw audio review for members coming up shortly, and in the WWE Raw Hit List on Tuesday.
Check below for the new Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell and guests David McLane and Selina “Bambi” Majors discussing the launch of the WOW women’s wrestling promotion series on AXS TV.
The new edition of the Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell and guest Will Pruett on the Roman Reigns whodunnit angle, WWE heading into SummerSlam, AEW's October 2 premiere on TNT, the New Japan Pro Wrestling G1 Climax Tournament through Day 11, and more (77:45)...