WWE Raw Results: Vince McMahon Promises Change and Top Takeaways
The reign of Baron Corbin on Monday Night Raw ended in inglorious fashion as the general manager elect was beaten down by all the wrestlers he disrespected over the past few months. This left the December 17 edition of Raw to pick up the pieces.
With the promise of Vince McMahon appearing, this felt like the turning point for the red brand. The end of this year was going to begin a major shake-up for a product that was in desperate need of a fresh start.
It took only a few minutes of Raw for WWE to deliver on that promise with an interesting if uncertain announcement of absolute change. In short order, statements were made about authority being handed to the WWE Universe and new stars stepping up to the challenge.
While nothing was completely clear, this was certainly a huge move by Raw that created a bevvy of fascinating takeaways on the future of WWE.
The McMahons Promise Change That May Eventually Come
Mr. McMahon opened Raw and introduced his entire family with Stephanie, Triple H and Shane all arriving. They announced that they would bring change to WWE by listening to the fans and taking a hands-on approach to running Raw and SmackDown.
This was meant to be a big turning point for WWE as the company made a firm statement to start taking chances and embracing change. However, Raw did not feel all that different this week beyond spending the first forty minutes on empty platitudes.
This does not mean the shows will not change though. There were small hints of what can make Raw interesting again. Matches had more meaning. Underused stars got more chances to shine. Corbin only took up about 20 minutes of air time.
It would have been nice to get clearer statements from the McMahons about what is coming, but it is still refreshing to have honest evolution in WWE. Nothing is certain anymore beyond more of all the McMahons than anyone really wants.
In a few months, fans will look back at this night either as the turning point that righted the ship or the final opportunity for WWE to make a change that never came.
This Is Still Drew McIntyre's Brand to Conquer
Drew McIntyre interrupted an intense battle between Finn Balor and Dolph Ziggler, causing a disqualification as he ran through both men. While they fought valiantly, even together they were no match after a grueling match and were laid out.
Despite a few recent losses, The Scottish Psychopath looks as focused and dangerous as ever. While it is not surprising, WWE has clearly established that these are minor setbacks for McIntyre on his road to a huge second career in WWE.
Raw has a few genuine top stars at the moment, and, while The Showoff and The Extraordinary Man are good, they are absolutely not in that league. The former Chosen One though may well be in that elite category.
McIntyre should be one of the heavy favorites at Royal Rumble with his Road to WrestleMania likely to go very close to the top of the card. He and Braun Strowman certainly have unfinished business that would help both continue to take over the red brand.
Tyler Breeze Still Deserves Better
Dean Ambrose offered an open challenge to anyone but Seth Rollins with Tyler Breeze accepting. The Gorgeous One brought the fight to The Lunatic Fringe, constantly pushing him. However, even after a superkick, Breeze could not put this away and walked into Dirty Deeds.
In NXT last week, Prince Pretty returned to his roots in a great match against Ricochet that reminded everyone what he can do. Raw followed up by letting him push one of Raw's top stars to his limit in a short but explosive title defense.
While Breeze was a bit off against the Intercontinental champion unlike in his fight with the NXT North American champion, he still proved he deserves better than he has been given. He's one of the most underutilized genuine talents on the show.
Hopefully, Fandango will return soon, and The Fashion Police can at least get back to entertaining. However, it shouldn't take the return of Breezango to make sure that The Gorgeous One actually gets screen time weekly.
NXT Call-Ups Are Coming Fast and Furious with the New Year
One of the biggest promises from the McMahons in the coming weeks was a series of NXT call-ups. Raw showed a series of video vignettes for Lars Sullivan, Lacey Evans, Nikki Cross, Heavy Machinery and EC3 with all set to debut soon.
Coming up to the main roster is not as big a moment as it used to be since NXT has evolved into such a big brand, but it is still a noticeable jump in responsibility. Stars can quickly go from household names to barely appearing on TV.
For this reason, it is dangerous to bring up this many stars at once. The honeymoon period where a new star comes off as a fresh act on the roster will be much shorter, and it is likely not everyone brought up will make an impact.
Nikki has the best chance as there's still room for fresh talent in the women's division. Sullivan should make a major impact simply due to his size and presence. EC3 has all the tools, but he didn't stand out all that well in NXT and may struggle to stand out on a bloated roster.
Meanwhile, Evans and Heavy Machinery come off more like roster fillers than genuine interesting additions to the roster. Both could prove that wrong with great early performances, but there's just not enough hours of wrestling for everyone to make an impact.
Natalya Earns the Biggest Match of Her Career
In a surprise final-hour gauntlet match, eight women fought for the opportunity to face Ronda Rousey next week on Monday Night Raw. While Bayley, Mickie James, Ember Moon and more fought valiantly, Natalya emerged victorious after eliminating Moon, Ruby Riott and Sasha Banks.
This was not a complete surprise as The Queen of Harts has been on the biggest run of her career lately including her impressive win over Riott at TLC, but it was still a huge moment for Natalya to defeat three of the best on Raw right now and earn a title match with The Baddest Woman on the Planet.
While the former multiple-time champion is no stranger to gold, she has never been put in this high profile a spot. She just main-evented Raw, and she will likely do so again next week. Her match with Rousey could be one of the most defining of her career.
It will also be interesting to see the training partners get to go at it. Few have been more influential in helping the Raw women's champion quickly get acclimated to WWE, and they have likely been rehearsing this match for a long time.
The Baddest Woman on the Planet will move onto huge competition like Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch soon, but this may just be the make-or-break moment for Natalya. She can end 2018 with one of the best performances of her career and perhaps set up for an even bigger 2019.