Major Leadership Changes Made to RAW and Smackdown
What Happened: For the first time since RAW 25, the Chairman returned to RAW to shake things up. And shake things up he did. Along with Stephanie McMahon, Shane McMahon, and Triple H, Mr. McMahon announced that from now on, the McMahon-Helmsley family would jointly control both Monday Night RAW and Smackdown Live. Now former Commissioners Stephanie and Shane acknowledged a failure to listen to the fans in recent months on their respective brands and vowed to rectify that. In other words, as the COO described it, the people are now The Authority. But Vince wasn’t done there, revealing that, in addition to Lars Sullivan, NXT standouts EC3, Nikki Cross, and Lacey Evans would be making their debuts on either RAW or Smackdown in the near future.
Analysis: In my opinion, this is the most epic move made since the 2016 draft, and I love it. The entire McMahon family turned face in one fell swoop, and now it will seem that both brands will be getting a facelift going into the new year.
Apollo Crews, Kurt Angle, Chad Gable, and Bobby Roode def. Baron Corbin (4-on-1 No Disqualification Handicap Match w/Heath Slater as Special Referee)
What Happened: It seemed that the only person not happy about the changes being made to RAW was Baron Corbin, who was still furious about what happened to him at TLC last night. With the entire McMahon family on hand, Corbin took his opportunity to air his grievances. The WWE Universe wanted to see the Lone Wolf stay out of power, but Mr. McMahon offered Corbin a second chance to win the spot as permanent RAW GM… provided he could defeat Kurt Angle. Corbin did quite well, but had the rug pulled from underneath him when Triple H summoned Apollo Crews and the RAW Tag Team Champions Chad Gable and Bobby Roode to transform the match into a 4-on-1 Handicap Match. The tandem proceeded to beat down on Corbin unimpeded as Stephanie handpicked referee Heath Slater seemed to be preoccupation with the ring’s stability. The need for such a preoccupation was eliminated when Shane McMahon came out and made the match No Disqualification. With nothing holding them back, Angle, Roode, Gable, and Crews laid waste to the Lone Wolf with steel chairs before the Olympic Hero ended his misery with an Angle Slam. Vindicated, Angle and company prepared to take their leave, but gave the WWE Universe one more request by putting Corbin through a table.
Analysis: Sometimes, it’s not about what happens, but how. This is one of those cases. We all knew Corbin would not regain the GM position, but the match was entertaining nonetheless.
Finn Balor def. Dolph Ziggler via Disqualification
What Happened: If there is one man in the RAW locker room that will not be affected by the changes in management is Drew McIntyre. After taking a loss to Finn Balor last night at TLC, thanks in big part to Dolph Ziggler, the Scottish Psychopath made clear that he will not be made a fool of, crashing the scheduled match between the Extraordinary Man and the Showoff to lay them both out with Claymore Kicks.
Analysis: I’m in a very positive mood tonight, so let’s keep it that way. McIntyre’s second run in WWE has put him back on the map. His continued push shows that McIntyre is the lead man on RAW, so I still expect him to win the Royal Rumble.
Dean Ambrose (c) def. Tyler Breeze (Intercontinental Championship)
What Happened: Despite taking the Intercontinental Championship from Seth Rollins last night, Dean Ambrose clearly isn’t done with the mind games. Ambrose used several tactics to try and draw out the former champion, first by outright calling Rollins out, then challenging him to a non-title match. When that didn’t work, he issued an Intercontinental Championship Open Challenge to anyone except the Kingslayer. That challenge was answer by Tyler Breeze. Much like his NXT North American Championship match with Ricochet, Prince Pretty put out a stellar performance but fell short of his mission. After dispatching Breeze, Ambrose laid into Rollins verbally for refusing to show. Unfortunately, Rollins proved himself to be a master of disguise, emerging from the new champion’s SWAT team to jump him from behind and send him into retreat.
Analysis: I’m glad Tyler Breeze is getting more opportunities because he is an underappreciated talent. My only fear is that he will end up like Emma and be released soon.
The Revival def. Lucha House Party, AOP, and The B-Team to earn a RAW Tag Team Championship Match (Fatal 4-Way Tag Team Match)
What Happened: As part of the McMahons’ effort to give more Superstars high-profile opportunities, Shane McMahon declared that defeated champions will no longer have the luxury of a contractually obligated rematch. As such, AOP had to earn a shot to win the RAW Tag Team Championships back from Bobby Roode and Chad Gable. But to do that, they would have to get past The B-Team, The Revival, and Lucha House Party. But with Lucha House Party Rules, the winner was clear right? WRONG! In another huge move from the McMahon family, Lucha House Party rules were abolished from tag team action. With teams once again even, Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder reverted back to their old MO: tag, Shatter Machine, win.
Analysis: I’m a bit conflicted about the abolishment of Lucha House Party rules. It was very entertaining, though The Revival has been long overdue for tag team gold on RAW.
Natalya wins Eight-Women Gauntlet to earn a RAW Women’s Championship Match
What Happened: Forget the long and short of it, RAW Women’s Champion Ronda Rousey kept it short. She made a promise that Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch would suffer retribution for their actions against her and she kept that promise. Moving on from that, Rousey wanted to start a new tradition where the RAW Women’s Champion defended the title the night after every pay-per-view. And for once, Stephanie McMahon agreed with her. The only problem was that just about the entire Women’s division wanted a shot at the gold. Stephanie quickly found a solution, instantly sanctioning a Gauntlet to see who gets to face Rousey for the title next week.
Bayley kicked out the match by eliminated Alicia Fox and Dana Brooke, before being taken out herself by Mickie James. The six-time champion’s stint in the match would be short-lived though, as Ember Moon sent her packing with the Eclipse. This brought out Natalya, who looked to build momentum from her Tables Match victory against Ruby Riott. After an intense battle with the Shenom and a final exorcism of her personal demon Riott, the Queen of Harts made it to the final round against Sasha Banks. Banks took advantage of her fresh body from not have a match at TLC and entering the Gauntlet last, locking in the Bank Statement. Natalya not only managed to break the hold, but she also countered into the Sharpshooter and forced Banks to tap out. As a result, best friends do battle next week for the RAW Women’s Championship.
Analysis: So, Stephanie McMahon is “done playing favorites,” huh. Let’s see how long that lasts.
Match of the Night
My favorite match tonight was the Fatal 4-Way Tag Team. Primarily because we got back to old school tag team action and The Revival will finally get a traditional championship match.