McMahon Family Ushers in New Era, Implements Several Changes

This week on RAW, Mr. McMahon, Stephanie & Shane McMahon, and Triple H announced several changes to the way Monday Night RAW and Smackdown Live are run. These changes, they say, are meant to give Superstars more and better opportunities and give the WWE Universe a bigger voice. Whether or not that is true remains to be seen, but here is a summary of the changes made this week.

1) The McMahon Family will oversee RAW and Smackdown as a collective unit.

As a result, the roles of Commissioner and General Manager on both brands no longer exist. With Corbin’s failure to win on Monday night, he will return to being strictly a competing Superstar. Paige was officially dismissed as Smackdown General Manager on Tuesday, though without prejudice. Shane McMahon said that Paige “isn’t going anywhere,” though her future role is still unclear.

2) There will no longer be contractually obligated rematches for deposed champions.

In other words, if you lose your title, you go to the back off the line. This should help alleviate some of the redundancy that has plagued both brands.

These, of course, are the only changes that have been explained directly by the McMahons and Triple H on Monday. But there were some things either said or done that may indicate other future changes.

1) Stephanie says she is “done playing favorites” in the RAW Women’s division.

This could operate one or two ways. Number one is that opportunities will be earned by the Superstars and not handed out by management. Number two is that the top of the RAW Women’s division will no longer be occupied by the usual suspects (Alexa Bliss, Nia Jax, Bayley, Sahsa Banks). Both theories are supported by Natalya Gauntlet victory, but we will have to see exactly what happens.

2) Vince to Charlotte and Becky: “You got a problem, take it out on Ronda Rousey.”

I actually had to review the segment to make sure I got the exact quote, but as I said in my review for this week’s Smackdown Live, Vince McMahon all but gave Flair and Lynch carte-blanche to attack Rousey. With Marina Shafir and Jessamyn Duke making their in-ring debuts this week as well, the Four Horsewomen feud is well on its way.

3) Triple H to the WWE Universe: “You are The Authority.”

#PeoplePower is back, except this time, it’s meant to be true to its name. If that is the case, we could see the return of Cyber Sunday, as well as some championships return, namely the Hardcore Championship.

As the year turns, so does a new page in WWE. We will have to see if this is a true effort to return WWE to its former glory or simply a bid for time before reverting to the same old tactics.

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NXT 19 December 2018

Io Shirai & Dakota Kai def. Marina Shafir & Jessamyn Duke

What Happened:Wherever you see NXT Women’s Champion nowadays, you’re likely to find Marina Shafir and Jessamyn Duke. That’s something Io Shirai and Dakota Kai have keyed in on, and tonight they looked to do something about it. Kai suffered greatly for the majority of the match, but the damage Shafir and Duke dealt over the course of the match was nothing compared to the damage Shirai dealt in a matter of moments. After she got the tag, the Genius of the Sky laid waste to Marina Shafir while the Captain of Team Kick recovered enough to bat cleanup, wiping out Jessamyn Duke with a running boot to the outside. One Asai Moonsault later, and the match was done.

Analysis: After the match, it was announced that Shirai will join Bianca Belair, Lacey Evans, and Mia Yim in a Fatal 4-Way Number One Contender’s match. The work of two Mae Young Classics is starting to culminate.

Johnny Gargano def. Aleister Black (Steel Cage Match)

What Happened: Last week, NXT Champion Tommaso Ciampa manipulated Johnny Gargano and Aleister Black into agreeing to face each other in a Steel Cage Match. There is no doubt that such a maneuver was a means to an end, but exactly what that end is remains in even deeper question than before. The Rebel Heart and the Dutch Destroyer tore into each other with such ferocity it was almost as if their match at WarGames 2 never happened. In fact, on several occasions, both men aborted escape attempts simply so that could inflict more punishment on their opponent. This backfired on Gargano in the climax moments when he was intercepted with Black Mass. Exhausted and war-torn, Gargano scaled the cage while Black headed for the door. But as Black reached the door, Ciampa rushed in and slammed the cage door into his face. Seeing what the Blackheart had done, Johnny Wrestling returned to the ring. He shared a tense moment with Ciampa, but in that moment came… something. Perhaps a meeting of the minds that led to Meeting in the Middle, giving Gargano the pinfall victory.

Analysis: Just as I expected. #DIY is getting back together to kick off 2019. Here. We. Go.

205 Live 19 December 2018

Hideo Itami def. Noam Dar

What Happened: A few weeks ago, Ariya Daivari returned from injury and has made it clear that his support is with Hideo Itami. But just in case that message wasn’t already clear, the duo took to the ring and threatened to hold up the show until and unless Itami received his due respect. 205 Live General Manager Drake Maverick quickly handled this situation by threatening to suspend Itami and Daivari before granting Noam Dar a match against the Japanese Superstar. Still irked at the perceived lack of respect, Itami brutalized the Scottish Supernova with punishing strikes and suffocating holds. But Dar, managed to get back on his feet by using his feet, kicking Itami off the top rope, prompting the Persian Lion to interfere, distracting Dar long enough for Hideo to put the match away.

Analysis: The Cruiserweight division really needs some more titles. Either that or just remerge it with RAW or Smackdown.

Akira Tozawa & The Brian Kendrick def. Gentleman Jack Gallagher & Drew Gulak (Tag Team Street Fight)

What Happened: A team that formed out of necessity has turned into a viable tag team. Akira Tozawa and The Brian Kendrick looked to finally rid themselves of Gentleman Jack Gallagher and Drew Gulak, or the self-proclaimed Submission Commission, in a good old-fashioned Street Fight. As far as Gallagher and Gulak were concerned, this was just another business meeting, and they dressed accordingly. The Stamina Monster and the Man with a Plan were relentless in their attack, forcing their foes to resort to crafty means of countering. Everything from chairs to brooms & mops were cracked, swung, and broken during the course of the match, But it was Kendrick who got the final words, dropping Gallagher with Sliced Bread No. 2 for the win.

Analysis: #CruiserweightTagTitles

Smackdown Live 18 December 2018 (TLC Aftermath)

Mr. McMahon arrives on the Blue Brand to discuss the Women’s Division

What Happened: It would appear that the Chairman’s work for the week isn’t quite done yet. As Asuka celebrated her championship win from TLC, Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch continued to fume over the actions of RAW Women’s Champion Ronda Rousey. Each believed that, had it not been for Rousey, she would be champion and not Asuka. As a result, both women demanded that Asuka defend the Smackdown Women’s Championship against her (remember, Lynch no longer has the security of a guaranteed rematch, nor will any other deposed champion). As Asuka, Flair, and Lynch continued to bicker, Vince McMahon made his appearance to bring some peace to the situation. In regards to Ronda Rousey’s actions, the CEO simply advised the Queen and the Man that if they have a problem with Rousey that they go handle it directly. In regards to the Smackdown Women’s Championship, Vince himself was wondering what should be done about it. But before he could offer any suggestions, Naomi hit the scene to offer her opinion. As far as the Glow is concerned, Lynch lost the title and is now in the back of the line and Charlotte Flair has already had enough opportunities as it was. And the Chairman agreed. In fact, he agreed so much so, that he instantly granted Naomi a Smackdown Women’ Championship match.

Analysis: In case you missed it, Vince McMahon essentially gave Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch the green light to invade RAW and take out Ronda Rousey. Things. Just. Got. Real.

Asuka (c) def. Naomi (Smackdown Women’s Championship)

What Happened: It’s one thing to convince Vince McMahon to give you a championship match off the cuff. It’s another to be able to fully capitalize on the opportunity. With Lynch and Flair sitting at ringside, good friend Asuka and Naomi went to battle for the Smackdown Women’s Championship. Having seen each other twice during Mixed Match Challenge, the Empress and the Glow were very familiar with each other, so when Naomi connected with the Rear View, it looked like it was all said and done. But not only did the champion kick out, she later countered the challenger’s aerial assault and transitioned into the Asuka Lock for the submission victory.

Analysis: Naomi has been completely underused. Hopefully, this new regime changes that.

The Miz & Mandy Rose def. R-Truth & Carmella

What Happened: For a month and a half now, The Miz has been trying to convince Shane McMahon to be his tag team partner. Tonight, he did the one thing he felt he could do, go to the big man. To his credit, the A-Lister humbled himself before the Chairman of the Board, asking him for his blessing to be Shane’s tag partner. Vince rejected such a request, but did grant Miz an opportunity to prove that he’s worth his salt by teaming him with Mandy Rose against R-Truth and Carmella. Truth and Mella were well on their way to proving that their status as Mixed Match Challenge champions isn’t a fluke, but their traditional mid-match dance break proved to be costly. The Suntan Superman saved the Princess of Staten Island from a knee from WWE’s Golden Goddess, but took a Skull-Crushing Finale for his heroics, allowing Miz to pin him.

Analysis: As I expected, R-Truth and Carmella are going to be completely trashed leading up to Royal Rumble. Makes me think this whole “the people are The Authority” is a joke.

The Usos vs. Gallows & Anderson ended in a No Contest after SAnitY attacked

What Happened: Despite failing to win the Smackdown Tag Team Championships at TLC, the Usos still believe they have unfinished business with The Bar. As far as Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson are concerned, they have no right to have beef within the Smackdown tag team division. This prompted an impromptu match between the two groups. At the apex of the action, The Bar arrived, clearly looking to cause some damage, but the Smackdown Tag Team Champions were cut off at the pass by SAnitY, who would force the match to be tossed out by laying waste to both teams. Once, SAnitY did their work, Sheamus and Cesaro picked the bones as Eric Young, Alexander Wolfe, and Killian Dain looked on.

Analysis: All during TLC, I saw other members of the WWE Universe demand better for the Good Brothers. This is one step towards that, but did WWE really listen to our voices? Time will tell.

AJ Styles & Mustafa Ali def. WWE Champion Daniel Bryan & Andrade “Cien” Almas

What Happened: Here’s a question for you. What is the best way to get the McMahon family’s attention without inciting their fury? If your answer is pin the WWE Champion in the main event of Smackdown Live, chances are you are correct. And that’s exactly what Mustafa Ali did. Teaming up with AJ Styles, Ali took on Andrade “Cien” Almas and WWE Champion Daneil Bryan. Ali and Almas kicked things off, shooting off fireworks. Once Styles and Bryan tagged in, they picked up right where they left off this Sunday, ripping into each other. Just when it looked like the Phenomenal One was going to force the WWE Champion to submit to the Calf Crusher, El Idolo ran interference, prompting the Heart of 205 Live to get involved. With Almas disposed, Styles was free to tag in Ali, who lit into Bryan to the point where Almas was forced to get involved again. But he was ejected from the ring again with a Phenomenal Forearm, and Mustafa Ali picked up the most significant pinfall of his entire WWE career, pinning Daniel Bryan after the 054.

Analysis: THIS IS WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH 205 LIVE! Most of the Cruiserweights are more than capable of being on the main roster. The shock on Ali’s face after the match is completely genuine. No Cruiserweight or NXT Superstar on the main roster as a one-off has been allowed to pin a champion, and Ali just pinned the WWE Champion. He not only elevated his own career, the entire Cruiserweight division.

Match of the Night

I have no choice but to give the glory to the main event and Mustafa Ali. A CRUISERWEIGHT PINNED THE WWE CHAMPION!

Monday Night RAW 17 December 2018 (TLC Aftermath)

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.

What to Expect Following TLC 2018

Some major stuff went down at Tables, Ladders, and Chairs: TLC 2018. Here’s what to expect now that it’s all said and done.

1) No Immediate RAW General Manager

As we all expected, Baron Corbin lost at TLC and is therefore is out of power. I know most of you are expecting Kurt Angle to be named General Manager again, but I don’t think so. Expect some temporary GMs first, then a new GM to be named, likely just before Royal Rumble.

2) The Horsewomen Angle Officially Begins

Ronda Rousey didn’t just screw Charlotte Flair, she screwed Becky Lynch as well. Two of WWE’s Four Horsewomen. Don’t be surprised if Sasha Banks and Bayley confront Rousey in the coming weeks to kick off the HW feud.

3) The United States Championship Goes On the Line

The United States Championship was the only title not to be involved in TLC in any capacity (remember the RAW Tag Team Champions Roode and Gable helped take out Corbin). It will likely be defended on Tuesday.

4) R-Truth and Carmella Get a False Push

By the terms of their Mixed Match Challenge victory, R-Truth and Carmella are supposed to enter their respective the Royal Rumble matches at No. 30. That’s not happening. The 30 slot always goes to someone that is supposed to be a surprise. Chances are they get pushed for a couple weeks, and then are forced to enter at No. 1.

5) Both Rosters Get Changes Up (A Bit)

As we know, Vince McMahon is shaking things up tomorrow night. I do think some roster changes will be made, but not to the extent of an outright Superstar Shakeup. Primarily, Lars Sullivan will debut and either at least one Superstar will be “fired.”

Tables, Ladders, and Chairs: TLC 2018 Results

Kickoff Matches

Buddy Murphy (c) def. Cedric Alexander (Cruiserweight Championship)

What Happened: After finally getting back on the winning track, Cedric Alexander finally got a chance to reclaim the Cruiserweight Championship from Buddy Murphy. Having faced each other on multiple occasions already, the Soul of 205 Live and the Juggernaut went back and forth, unleashing some new offense to try and keep the advantage. The first time Alexander went for a Lumbar Check, he connected, but Murphy survived by getting his foot on the bottom rope. In his follow-up attack, Alexander overpursued the champion, and ate a mouthful of turnbuckle for it, before being put away with Murphy’s Law.

Analysis: Another great match from the Cruiserweight division. More and more, Cruiserweight have been on RAW and Smackdown Live, but this match showed why 205 Live deserves to be more exemplified.

Elias def. Bobby Lashley (Ladder Match w/Guitar Suspended above the Ring)

What Happened: After a pair of guitar attacks in the last couple of weeks, Elias and Bobby Lashley looked to settled the score in a Ladder Match with one of Elias’s own guitars suspended above the ring. It didn’t take long for ladders to get involved. In fact, Elias was ready to claim the match just minutes in until Lio Rush intefered to give Lashley the advantage. The Almighty maintained that advantage by using his superior strength, but a desperation powerbomb on top of a ladder to Lashley, plus a rapid ejection of Rush gave Elias the opportunity he needed to retrieve his beloved guitar. Only problem was that the Sinister Songsmith didn’t properly dispose of the Man of the Hour, allowing him to distract Elias long enough for Lashley to use the guitar for himself.

Analysis: I can’t necessarily blame WWE for putting this match on the Kickoff Show. It was pretty irrelevant to begin with so there’s no real consequence.

Main Card

R-Truth & Carmella def. Jinder Mahal & Alicia Fox

What Happened: After a series of upsets in the Mixed Match Challenge playoffs, Jinder Mahal & Alicia Fox and R-Truth & Carmella locked up for a prize that could help reboot their careers: the 30th entry in their respective Royal Rumble matches next year, along with an all-expense paid vacation to boot. The men started things off, but Fox quickly called an audible by tagging herself in minutes into the match. The “Captain” looked to have things well in hand, using her veteran status to keep the Staten Island Princess at bay, but attempted interference from the Singh Brothers backfired, allowing Carmella to lock in the Code of Silence for the submission win. Not only does Fabulous Truth get the coveted No. 30 spots in next month’s Royal Rumbles, they also get an all-expense paid vacation to… WWE HEADQUARTERS IN STAMFORD, CT!!! Courtesy of R-Truth himself.

Analysis: I have to give WWE credit for airing this match on Facebook Watch. Of course, Truth and Mella won’t be holding to the 30 slots (unfortunately), but I’m glad they’re getting a bit of a push anyway.

The Bar (c) def. The New Day and The Usos (Triple Threat Match for Smackdown Tag Team Championships)

What Happened: Whether or not they won this past Tuesday’s rap battle, we still don’t know. What we do know is that The Bar, is still the Smackdown Tag Team Champions. The crazy unpredictability of both of the New Day and the Usos kept the champions off-guard and in constant, imminent danger of losing the titles. But the Swiss Cyborg and the Celtic Warrior would not allowing their titles to be taken away, with Cesaro taking out both the Usos and Kofi Kingston taking out Cesaro, Sheamus finished the job with a Brogue Kick to Xavier Woods.

Analysis: As much as I love the chemistry between these three teams, what about Gallows & Anderson or SAnitY getting a chance? Just saying.