A highly anticipated Raw that saw the return of Vince McMahon was supposed to bring fans a reason to be excited about a new direction. Did the show live up to the hype?
On the heels of TLC and with Vince back on WWE programming, Raw should have been one of the better shows in a while. Unfortunately, the build-up offered only a promise of something different and the cramming of new faces into the spotlight in what appears to be a change for the sake of change scenario.
Dean Ambrose was the newIntercontinentall Champion, Ronda Rousey likely had a message after costing Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair the chance at holding the SmackDown Live Women's Championship and Baron Corbin was likely on his way out as the shows general manager.
Here are your winners and losers for Raw, December 17, 2018.
Loser: Opening of Raw
Exactly what change are fans getting that they didn't already know after Sunday's pay-per-view?
Stop me if you've seen and heard this before... Vince showed up and he wasn't alone. Stephanie, Shane and Triple H accompanied the chairman, talked about listening to the fans and giving them what they want and then took back control of Raw. This time, the McMahon's were going to let the WWE Universe become the new authority. Yadda, yadda, yadda...
The quartet offered no new direction at all, other than to say Raw would see some new faces. They tried to sell themselves as the saviors of the show when everyone knows they're responsible for the mess and their answer was just to flood the show with name drops from Kevin Owens to Sami Zayn and NXT callups that include Lars Sullivan, Heavy Machinery, EC3, Nikki Cross and Lacy Evans. Ignoring that these are not likely the names most fans want to see called up, WWE just killed the debut of Sullivan by flooding the market with new faces.
This was a segment that really offered nothing, expect an excuse to call beating up Corbin "what the fans wanted".
Loser: Baron Corbin
Corbin not only lost on Sunday, he came back on Monday to lose again, in a similar beating he took the night before. While he's not terribly entertaining, Corbin essentially became the scapegoat for a writing team that shoved him down the throats of the fans in the first place and his future is certainly unclear.
Corbin's exit was to represent change but it sure doesn't feel like much progress when the fans were expecting so much more. How bad is it that some people actually feel guilty for Corbin?
Loser: Finn Balor vs Dolph Ziggler
The match between the two was actually good, but it gets a losing grade because it was the first match out of the gate right after the McMahon's said fans can expect to see change. Ziggler and Balor, Ziggler and McIntyre, McIntyre and Balor... none of these are new combinations.
Basically, WWE offered change and gave fans more of the same. That the match ended in a disqualification and suggesting this trio is far from done with each other only speaks to how hollow the words to open the show were.
Winner: The Revival
In a Fatal 4-Way tag match, the Revival came out on top and will get a shot at the Raw Tag Team Champions. It's about damn time. The Revival has been so underused that their win here is enough to overlook the fact that this is the first time fans have seen the B-Team in a while or that WWE just scrapped the Lucha House Rules without explaining why.
I guess that must have been one of the changes the McMahon's spoke about?
Loser: Ronda Rousey
A babyface promo after interfering in a match at TLC that earned Ronda Rousey major heat? This just screams of WWE trying to cram the hero-version of Rousey down our throats knowing that Lynch and Flair are the stars the people want to cheer for. Why not embrace the idea of Rousey teasing a heel turn or go full-blown heel after Natalya wins the Gauntlet Match?
This was an opportunity for WWE to offer up that change they spoke of, but they didn't.