WWE Raw Results: Seth Rollins Stars and Biggest Takeaways from December 10
The December 10 episode of WWE Raw focused on Sunday's TLC: Tables, Ladders and Chairs pay-per-view and building any kind of hype it possibly could for the matches it will present on that show.
In some instances, it succeeded.
In others, not so much.
Individual Superstars stood out thanks to strong performances in promos and video packages, while WWE Creative's shortcomings continued to rear their ugly heads.
Relive the most significant stars, matches and angles from Monday's broadcast with these five takeaways.
Seth Rollins Begins Ascension to the Top of the Raw Card
The biggest takeaway from Monday's show was the creative team's use of Seth Rollins and what it means for his future on the red brand.
Not only did Rollins address Dean Ambrose, whom he will meet Sunday at TLC, he came face-to-face with general manager elect Baron Corbin and told the authority figure why Raw has sucked under his rule.
Throw in an unscheduled Tables, Ladders and Chairs match for the Intercontinental Championship against Corbin in the night's main event and you have a banner night for a Superstar who probably should have been pushed into the spotlight the moment Roman Reigns was forced to the sidelines.
Rollins has been the heart of the Raw brand all year. He has also been its most consistently great performer, delivering stellar performances against every opponent put in front of him, and the one star whose connection with audiences has not been in question.
With Reigns out of the equation for the time being, and what feels like WWE's lack of faith in the Braun Strowman character to carry the brand, Rollins is the guy the company should focus its creative energy on.
Look no further than the reaction he received late in Monday's main event as he fought off Corbin and corrupt/confused referee Heath Slater to retain his title.
That Corbin already teased making life a living hell for Rollins after TLC this Sunday suggests management is ready to go all-in on Rollins, too.
Ronda Rousey vs. Nia Jax Hype Falls Flat
One of the highest-profile matches on this Sunday's TLC card is Ronda Rousey's Raw Women's Championship defense against Nia Jax. Unfortunately for the women involved, WWE Creative failed to deliver any sort of hype that created excitement or anticipation for the bout.
Jax cut the same promo she has for weeks, talking about the hand that broke Becky Lynch's face before vowing to use it relentlessly on Rousey. The champion answered, saying she was there not to talk or hit her poses, but to fight.
Then there was no fight.
Instead, Ember Moon came to Rousey's aid and squared off with Tamina while the TLC opponents watched from the floor. The extent of their interaction? Rousey sending Jax into the front row.
What should have been a night of intense and physical interaction was, instead, a lethargically booked segment of television that has Rousey's title defense feeling too much like any other match on the card. That is a major indictment of a writing team that should be emphasizing Rowdy's star power given the absence of Roman Reigns, Braun Strowman and Brock Lesnar.
WWE Continues Solid Build for Lars Sullivan's Debut
One issue that typically faces NXT call-ups is the lack of hype predating their debuts. They just kind of show up without any kind of video package or background explanation of who they are or why fans should care.
WWE Creative has not fallen into that same trap with Lars Sullivan.
The impending debut of NXT's resident Freak will be met with far more fanfare, and lead to bigger and better things for the massive competitor, because of the efforts of the company to get him over before he ever sets foot in a main roster ring.
The video packages have put him over as a dangerous force, an unstoppable menace to the Superstars he is about to encounter. He looks imposing in the videos we have seen to this point and Monday, his promo skills were tested in another package.
It is working and when he steps through the curtain for his first appearance, likely to be on the Raw brand, do not be surprised to see Sullivan instantly become a major player on Vince McMahon's flagship show.
Heath Slater's Plight Should Lead to Bigger, Better Things for Underrated Talent
There is a reason Heath Slater is the sole survivor of WWE's Nexus experiment.
Not only has the talented performer proven a solid hand between the ropes, but he has also proved comedically gifted and capable of generating genuine emotion from fans. It is that latter ability that will be beneficial to him in his new role as a reluctantly corrupt official in the back pocket of general manager elect Baron Corbin.
We saw it Monday night as he was forced to count Elias' shoulders to the mat after Bobby Lashley blasted him with a guitar, awarding the match to Lio Rush. Later, he nearly cost Seth Rollins the Intercontinental Championship against Baron Corbin. Luckily for him, he failed.
Slater has kids, as his T-shirt catchphrase reminds us all, and he has to do what is in their best interest. As long as WWE Creative carefully walks the fine line between sympathetic babyface and corrupt villain, never allowing him to flirt too much with the character portrayed by the great Nick Patrick during his days as the New World Order's hand-picked official in WCW, the potential is there for a character that allows fans to build a bond with Slater.
That bond would lead Slater to become as over as he has ever been.
We know Slater can pull that character off. He has made a decade-long career of running with every single opportunity presented to him. Now it is up to WWE Creative not to fumble the ball. If it can resist that urge, the One Man Rock Band may be one of the breakout stars of 2019.
Despite a Solid Show, TLC Still Feels Like a Throwaway PPV
WWE Raw was an infinitely better show this week than it had been in the two weeks prior. There is no doubt about it. From the Rollins promo to the steady build for the brand's contributions to the TLC card, it felt like a more focused and sensical broadcast than what fans had been exposed to over the last month or so.
With that said, the TLC pay-per-view still feels too much like a meaningless throwaway show that will wrap up a better-than-usual year of WWE Network specials but is really just a placeholder until the hype for January's Royal Rumble begins.
There was not enough effort put into creating a sense of excitement for Sunday's show, even with a TLC match main event.
It feels too much like there are no stakes to be had, no goals to be accomplished and nothing of any real substance come out of Raw's contributions to the event. That is a major problem, especially given the quality of the shows of late.
Bad television can be made up for with a great pay-per-view event that creates excitement and momentum for the company heading into the new year. Unfortunately, it does not appear as though there is enough of that heading into TLC Sunday night, and the result may be a lethargic presentation that falls right in line with the product of late.