WWE Raw results, recap, grades: Post-Survivor Series episode delivers lackluster effort
Monday's Raw after Survivor Series felt like a mailed-in effort nearly all around
For all of the goodwill built up from an incredible weekend of wrestling from WWE, highlighted by Sunday's fantastic Survivor Series card, the momentum was all but lost one night later. In an almost unforgivable mail-in job on Raw, Monday's episode failed to capitalize on any of the big moments from 24 hours earlier and, if anything, took an already red-hot angle between Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose and overexposed it.
From an opening segment and follow-up match which ate up one-third of the three-hour show to a handful of subsequent moments that failed to move the chains, this was a WWE creative team content to press pause and live off the after-buzz of such a successful weekend. Considering how inconsistent Raw in particular has been since WrestleMania, it's a development that's incredibly disappointing.
Baron Corbin orchestrates beatdown of Braun Strowman
Raw opened with Corbin and commissioner Stephanie McMahon gloating about their victory at Survivor Series. But Corbin's plea for a promotion to full-time general manager was interrupted by Strowman's arrival. Vowing to keep her promises to everyone, McMahon granted Strowman his match against Corbin at TLC in December with the stipulation that Corbin becomes permanent GM with a win and loses complete authority with a loss. She also granted Strowman his universal title rematch against Brock Lesnar at the Royal Rumble -- but only if he beats Corbin. McMahon then overruled Corbin's attempt at giving Strowman a handicap match tonight to weaken him by announcing an immediate six-man tag elimination match.
Braun Strowman, Elias & Finn Balor vs. Baron Corbin, Bobby Lashley & Drew McIntyre ended in a no contest: This 3-on-3 version of Sunday's traditional Survivor Series matches saw Strowman dealt a 3-to-1 disadvantage after McIntyre finished Balor with a Claymore kick and Lashley speared Elias to count him out. That's when the calculated attack began. McIntyre disqualified himself by hitting Strowman with a chair before Corbin and Lashley continued to help beat him down outside the ring. Strowman, who was bleeding from his elbow and nose, was thrown into the ring steps before absorbing a Claymore. Corbin then used his belt to tie Strowman's arm down so he could crush it with the top-half of the steps. Strowman later complained to medical personnel that he couldn't feel his fingers or arm, and Raw announcer Michael Cole went on to report he suffered a crushed elbow.
Raw was able to get an astonishing 54 minutes of this opening segment and match, which was an early signal that this post-Survivor Series show would be a mail-in job. Yet despite the gratuitous nature of booking such a long match with literally nothing at stake, the violent nature of the attack on Strowman nearly made up for it. From Becky Lynch's attack on Ronda Rousey last week to Charlotte Flair's turn on Rousey on Sunday, WWE has amped up the intensity over the past seven days when it comes to physicality and Strowman, in this case, sold it well. Still, Strowman is too good (and too over) to be given anymore stay-busy feuds until Lesnar's part-time schedule affords his return. A pay-per-view match with Corbin simply doesn't whet the appetite. Grade: C+
Seth Rollins finally tracks down Dean Ambrose
Rollins cut an in-ring promo referencing how Sunday was the six-year anniversary of The Shield's WWE debut and how Ambrose doesn't have the guts to face him man-to-man before their Intercontinental title match at TLC. An angry Rollins then insisted Ambrose come out and fight. Ambrose appeared on the video screen inside the arena from backstage, where he called Rollins desperate. "You don't get it, do you man? Things have changed," Ambrose said. "The Shield did more bad than good for over six years."
Ambrose went on to cryptically hint that the Shield were different people than fans would expect behind the scenes. "We were rotten at the core from the very beginning, and now we are going to pay for it," Ambrose said. "We will all get what we deserve. I mean, look at Roman … he has to answer to the man upstairs." The crass remark in light of Reigns' battle with leukemia was met with boos from the crowd. Rollins then ran backstage to try to find him and assaulted security guards who were unwilling to help.
A cat-and-mouse game proceeded backstage with Ambrose escaping each time Rollins got close (including a boiler room door that Ambrose wrote "burn it down" on to incite Rollins). Ambrose then began cutting odd promos about a smell inside the arena that turned into heel insults about Los Angeles. He also addressed Rollins' anger with his comments by saying, "This isn't about Roman, this is about the bond between brothers -- broken, crushed, shattered." After a frustrated Rollins left early to catch a red-eye plane, Ambrose closed the show with an in-ring promo that further insulted the "dirty little children" in the crowd. Rollins suddenly returned to run in and tackle Ambrose until they brawled into the crowd as Rollins gave chase. Back inside the ring, Rollins missed a stomp and Ambrose hit him with a low blow followed by Dirty Deeds to stand tall. "I was trying to talk to your people," Ambrose told him. "Don't ever interrupt me again."
What an incredible waste of time considering the storyline served as the backbone of the final two hours of the show. For as good as Ambrose's initial heel turn was received because of how vicious it was immediately after Reigns' reveal, it's hard to shake the feeling that his momentum has been completely lost since he finally broke his silence. Ambrose as a heel just isn't working on the microphone with more cringeworthy moments -- including his lengthy bit on the smell in the air -- that I'd like to count. The idea that Rollins was so angrily unable to find Ambrose backstage and would then settle with leaving altogether was equally as comical. Even though it was met with expected blowback, Ambrose's crass comment about Reigns turned out to be the best moment of the night for his character because at least it was real, and that's not a good thing on this night. Ambrose needs to find a way to be intimidating and angry without being lame in the process. Grade: C-
What else happened on Raw?
Nia Jax & Tamina Snuka def. Bayley & Sasha Banks via pinfall: Alexa Bliss sat in on commentary as Bayley traded particularly stiff shots with Snuka in what turned out to be a fun little brawl. But with the crowd showering Jax with continued hate due to her accidentally injuring Becky Lynch last week, WWE continued to smartly play it up as part of the story. Jax used a referee distraction from Snuka to lay Bayley out with a right hand, and shortly after, connected with a Samoan drop for the pin.
Lucha House Party def. The Revival via pinfall: The match was competed under "Lucha House Rules," which did nothing but give the trio of masked cruiserweights an unnecessary 3-to-2 advantage. While it's clear the match was created to shine up Kalisto, Gran Metalik and Lince Dorado, the execution was all over the place. The Luchas even played keep away from The Revival with a pinata at one point in a development which made even less sense. At least the finish was beautiful, as Dorado hit a shooting star press on Wilder off the top rope for the pin.
Ronda Rousey def. Mickie James via submission: Rousey was all smiles as she fought off "We want Becky" chants from the crowd to deliver a speech about her toughness following a. Rousey revealed she would be defending her title at TLC against Nia Jax and vowed to get revenge on Flair afterwards. Rousey, who improved her delivery from a dreadful showing last week, also cut a promo about being a fighting champion. "So this is me on my worst day," Rousey said, after removing her jacket to show her bruises. "If I can't defend this tonight, I don't deserve to be champion." Her attempt at an open challenge for her title was initially denied by Corbin until she insisted (after threatening Corbin the opponent would be him if he refused). Out came James, and after a slow start, Rousey made quick work in forcing a tap via armbar. Out came Jax and Snuka to stare her down, with Jax rubbing her right fist before laughing and walking away.
Bobby Roode & Chad Gable def. AOP via pinfall: AOP manager Drake Maverick was heckled earlier in the night by his fellow WWE employees in catering for wetting his pants on Sunday in the face of Big Show. To gain revenge, Maverick got a match booked against Roode & Gable. After early domination from AOP, the babyfaces earned a non-title upset win against the Raw champions when Roode hit a blockbuster on Akam and Gable immediately followed with a sunset flip off the top rope for the 1-2-3.
Natalya def. Ruby Riott via pinfall: One night after their pre-match shoving led to their respective dismissals from the Raw women's Survivor Series team, Natalya finally gained revenge for Riott breaking her late father's sunglasses. Riott landed a particularly stiff reverse senton from the top rope late for two, but the finish came when a distraction from Liv Morgan outside let to Riott rolling up Natalya only for Natalya to then counter into her own pin for the victory.
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