It’s the first Raw of 2019 and the first time it has been live in three weeks after taped shows for Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. There are several things advertised for the show: John Cena is there, Brock Lesnar is there with Braun Strowman to hype up their Royal Rumble match, there’s a “Mean” Gene Okerlund tribute led by Hulk Hogan, the Raw Tag Team Titles are on the line and Alexa Bliss is having a talk show with Ronda Rousey as the guest. I wrote a tribute article for Mean Gene at The Comeback that you can check out here. Let’s get to Raw.
Live Orlando, Florida, this is the Raw Deal for episode #1336 of Monday Night Raw. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. If you want to support us at TJRWrestling, here’s a Donate Link for our Paypal to contribute in some way to help us grow the site.
Raw began with a graphic saying this show is in memory of “Mean” Gene Okerlund 1942-2019. He died last Wednesday, January 2nd.
There was a shot of the backstage area where Bobby Lashley was shown attacking Seth Rollins. There were other wrestlers (hey Zack Ryder), producers, referees and security there to try to break it up. They fought all the way up to the gorilla position area and spilled out into the arena. Rollins sent Lashley to the area beside the stage and then Rollins jumped onto Lashley. After a few minutes, Rollins and Lashley were separated.
Analysis: That was a different kind of way start Raw with a brawl in the backstage area that spilled out to the arena. Rollins and Lashley had issues last week with Rollins using a steel chair against Lashley, so it carried over to this week. It’s a cool way to start because it is different from the norm and shows that maybe Raw can be unpredictable once in a while.
Let’s Hear from John Cena
John Cena’s music hit to start the show. Cena was rocking some green attire as he ran down to the ring and slid into the ring. Big ovation for Cena. The announcers plugged the events still to come on the show.
Cena welcomed us to Orlando, to Monday Night Raw and the road to WrestleMania. Cena said that’s why Seth Rollins is fighting for his life because everybody knows it. Cena said that at WrestleMania, you either step up or get left out. He said he knows how that feels, so he’ll be damned if he gets left out this year. Cena said that on the road to WrestleMania, there is one match where any superstar can grab that golden ticket to a main event championship match at WrestleMania and that’s the Royal Rumble. Cena said that nothing is given away in life, nothing is handed to you, you work hard and you earn every inch. Cena said that he is going to earn his golden ticket. Cena said that he is officially entering himself in this year’s Royal Rumble match.
Analysis: Cena will be one of the favorites to win the Rumble match. Cena could win and face Daniel Bryan for the WWE Title to go for record World Title reign #17, so that’s something to think about. I don’t want Cena to win (I want it to be Rollins), but it’s a possibility.
Drew McIntyre’s music hit as the interruption. You knew an interruption was coming, but we didn’t know who it would be. I’m cool it with being McIntyre.
McIntyre said that he has waited for this moment for years. He said that unlike anybody else, he does not care who John shares his bed with or who he doesn’t. He doesn’t care about John’s stupid haircut. Cena took off his hair to show his hair. Drew said what he cares about are Cena’s 16 World Championships and that Cena has main evented multiple WrestleManias. Drew said he cares that Vince McMahon called Cena the greatest of all time. Drew agrees with Vince because he said Cena is the greatest of all time. Cena asked what his point is. McIntyre said that he has a reputation for taking out the greatest like The Shield, Dolph Ziggler or maybe he should phone his friend Kurt Angle because he humiliated him. McIntyre bragged about making Angle tap out to his own ankle lock. McIntyre called himself the most dangerous man in WWE and he told Cena he’s come for him now.
Cena said he was feeling good, started the show with a brawl, amazing noise and now he’s sad. Cena told McIntyre that he’s heard the same thing every week for years, so much so that John had to leave, so they could think of a different promo. Cena asked what makes Drew any different from anybody else as the fans chanted “Cena” for him.
McIntyre said that the others were all talk while McIntyre is going to show Cena what he’s all about. McIntyre was in his ring gear as he nearly entered the ring, but he was still on the floor.
Bobby Lashley and Lio Rush showed up on the stage with Rush complaining about Seth Rollins. Rush said if something isn’t done about Rollins, they are going to get a lawyer. Rollins showed up from behind Lashley and they brawled on the ramp. The camera was shaking a lot, which was annoying. Dean Ambrose ran up to attack, so John Cena tried to save Rollins. The three heels dominated Rollins and Cena. Finn Balor’s music hit as he ran out to the ring for the save wit ha Slingblade to McIntyre and a clothesline out of the ring. Balor hit a somersault dive over the top to take out the five guys on the floor. They went to a commercial break quickly.
Analysis: That was an entertaining opening segment. McIntyre did a good job with his promo. They transitioned to the obvious six-man tag team match smoothly.
The predictable six-man tag team match was made during the break. They could have saved it for later, but the crowd is hotter in the first hour. The announcers are Michael Cole, Corey Graves and Renee Young as usual.
Finn Balor, John Cena and Seth Rollins vs. Drew McIntyre, Dean Ambrose and Bobby Lashley (w/Lio Rush)
All six of these guys are in the Royal Rumble, which Cole mentioned at the start of the match.
Cena and Lashley were in the ring at the start until they tagged out. Balor worked over Ambrose with a basement dropkick for a two count. McIntyre hit a delayed suplex on Balor. Lashley tagged in, he looked for a slam, Balor with a forearm to the face and Balor fought out of the corner punches, but Lashley kept Lashley isolated by sending him into the turnbuckle. Ambrose sent Balor into the turnbuckle followed by a forearm. Balor hit an overhead kick to Ambrose’s head. Cena got the tag with two shoulder tackles on Ambrose, a spinning slam and the Five Knuckle Shuffle fist drop. Cena hit the AA on Ambrose, but McIntyre made the tag as the legal man, he hit Cena with a Glasgow Kiss headbutt and McIntyre covered for two. They went to break there about five minutes into the match.
The match returned with Cena trying to fight out of the heel corner as he hit a dropkick on Ambrose. McIntyre tagged in to prevent a tag. McIntyre hit a spinebuster for two. Lashley tagged in with a neckbreaker for a two count. Lashley took a break to do some flexing, so that drew boos. Lashley punched Rollins off the apron. Cena hit the Attitude Adjustment on Lashley, but Cena was too beat up to go for the cover. Ambrose tagged in with a sleeper hold and took Cena down to the mat. When Cena got back up, Ambrose hit a knee to the ribs to knock Cena out of the ring. Ambrose whipped Cena shoulder first into the steel steps.
Analysis: They are really building up to that Rollins hot tag since they went 13 minutes with Rollins not in the match at all.
The third segment of the match saw Ambrose grounding Cena with a chinlock. Cena broke fee by slamming Ambrose to the mat. Ambrose knocked Rollins off the apron before that. Balor got the hot tag with an elbow smash to Ambrose’s chest and a double foot stomp to the chest. Balor with a running dropkick to send Ambrose into the corner. Balor up top and he hit the Coup de Grace on Ambrose. McIntyre got into the ring with a Claymore Kick to prevent Balor from making a cover. That was timed well. Rollins finally got the hot tag (after nearly 20 minutes), and he was sent to the apron where he hit a moonsault onto Ambrose and Lashley on the floor. Rollins back in the ring with a Falcon Arrow on McIntyre for two. Rollins with a kick to the gut, McIntyre tried a slam on Rollins, but Cena went back in with an Attitude Adjustment on McIntyre (three AA’s for Cena in this match) and Lashley back in with a Spear on Cena. Rollins took out Lashley. Rollins with a superkick on McIntyre. Rollins up top and he went for a Frog Splash, but McIntyre rolled out of the way. Ambrose tagged back in going for Dirty Deeds, Rollins slipped out with a rollup and Rollins hit The Stomp on Ambrose for the pinfall win after 22 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Finn Balor, John Cena and Seth Rollins
Analysis: ***1/2 That was a great tag team match that got a lot of time, built up to Rollins in the most important spot getting the hot tag and Rollins finished off his rival Ambrose for the victory. Going into the match, I figured it would be a win for the faces with Rollins going over, but I didn’t think McIntyre would take the pin. Ambrose getting beat is fine as a champion. I think Balor vs. Ambrose would be a good feud to do post Royal Rumble, which could lead to a WrestleMania match and Balor getting the title there. That’s for down the road, though. I enjoyed this match. It was fun.
Seth Rollins marched up the ramp where he saw Triple H on the big screen talking to Sasha Banks and Bayley. Rollins went up to Hunter, slapped him in the face and said he wanted to face Ambrose for the IC Title tonight. Triple H said he’s got it and it’s Falls Count Anywhere. Triple H smiled, said “welcome back,” slapped him in the chest as if to say, “good job” and left.
Analysis: The welcome back was in reference to Hunter wanting the old Rollins to come back, so he likes that Rollins is showing that intensity again. Considering the Rollins/Lashley segment to start the show, Falls Count Anywhere makes it seem likely that interference is coming during that IC Title match.
Hulk Hogan was shown walking backstage. He was wearing a shirt that said “Mean Gene-o-Mania” on it. Nice touch. That segment is up next.
A commercial aired for Total Bellas. It looks as bad as ever. Poor Daniel Bryan
There were images and tweets shown from some of the biggest names in wrestling talking about the late, great “Mean” Gene Okerlund.
There was a ten-bell salute in honor of Mean Gene while the cameras found some “Mean Gene” signs in the crowd.
Celebrating the Life of “Mean” Gene Okerlund
Hulk Hogan made his entrance with the crowd giving him a big pop. As I said, he was wearing the “Mean Gene-o-Mania” shirt in honor of his friend. This is Hogan’s first time on Raw in over three years. The fans chanted “Hogan” before he said a word.
Hogan started with his “well, let me tell you something, brother” line. Hogan took off his sunglasses saying that he came out there in character because that’s how Mean Gene would have wanted it. Hogan said that Mean Gene loved entertaining everybody in the WWE Universe. Hogan cued up a video of some of Gene's greatest moments.
A tribute video aired about Mean Gene showing video and images of Gene interacting with the biggest names in wrestling history. They included the “put that cigarette out” line in there. Classic. There were clips of Gene training with Hogan from an angle in the 1980s. They showed some comedy clips featuring Okerlund as well with his buddy Bobby Heenan. It also included the SummerSlam 1989 clip where he swore when a piece of the set fell down. Classic. A lot of the clips were fun. There was a clip of Gene saying that wrestling was everything to him and he had a good life. They played the famous clip from his Hall of Fame speech saying that when they bury him, do it face down so his critics can kiss his ass. That drew a lot of cheers to end the video on a happy note.
Analysis: The video was a nice tribute to Okerlund, who was one of the most well-liked guys in the history of wrestling. When he died, there wasn’t a bad thing said about him. He put a smile on our faces and he was very entertaining.
Hogan said that Gene was one of a kind. Hogan said that he can speak for all of the WWE superstars and everybody that has ever watched WWE, they loved him. Hogan said that being out there in the ring without Mean Gene, he’s not there, but he is in his heart. Hogan said he loved Mean Gene and he misses him. The fans chanted “Thank You Mean Gene” as Hogan took a moment trying to hold back tears.
Hogan did his promo routine saying “well let me tell you something Mean Gene” and talked about how Gene was putting together a tag team match up there with Randy Savage and Ultimate Warrior vs. Roddy Piper and Mr. Perfect. He also knows that Andre the Giant is the special referee. Hogan said he knows Gene is also breaking up a fight between Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby Heenan. Hogan mentioned Gene has a choice between Moolah and Mae Young. Hogan asked a final question: “What are you gonna do when Mean Gene-o-Mania runs wild on you, brother?” Hogan dropped the microphone and went into his posing routine as his music played to end it.
Analysis: Hogan did a good job with the promo talking about how much Mean Gene loved wrestling. Even those of us that didn’t know Mean Gene could tell how much the business meant to him. Hogan was one of his closest friends, so I was okay with Hogan being out there. I know that due to Hogan’s racist comments that came out four years ago that some people are never going to forgive the guy. I’ve never been a huge Hogan fan, but I respect his place in the wrestling business as arguably the biggest name ever. It was nice of WWE to give Gene that tribute.
A graphic aired showing us images of the women that are in the women’s Royal Rumble match on January 27.
The Raw Tag Team division was surrounding the ring for the title match that was set to take place. There were only four teams out there with no sign of AOP.
The championship team of Gable and Roode made their entrance. A clip aired from two weeks earlier when Gable pinned Dawson, who was not the legal man.
Lumberjack Match for the Raw Tag Team Championships: Bobby Roode and Chad Gable vs. The Revival (Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder)
Dawson worked over Gable with a back elbow and Gable came back with a pin attempt. Gable took down both Revival guys with headscissors takedowns. Double team back body drop by the champs to the Revival. When The Revival were sent out of the ring, they were sent back in by Lucha House Party. When Gable/Wilder were sent out of the ring again, Roode sent Gable over the top to the floor to take out the heels. Back in the ring, Dawson made a blind tagged and suplexed Gable onto the top rope. Rhyno rolled Gable back into the ring leading to Dawson getting a two count as the show went to break.
The match returned with Wilder preventing Gable from a tag, but then Roode tagged. Roode hit suplexes on both Revival guys. Roode with a running forearm on Wilder and a clothesline sent Dawson over the top to the floor. Back in the ring, Roode with a spinebuster on Dawson for two. Gable tagged in, he jumped off the top and Roode hit a neckbreaker into a German Suplex for two as Dawson kicked out because Wilder was too slow to break it up. I think Wilder missed that. The match continued with Gable hitting a cross body block off the top with Dawson rolling over for a two count. Wilder with a blind tag, Gable with a German Suplex and Wilder back in with a splash off the ropes for a two count. Dawson back in with a sunset flip for two. The crowd was dead quiet for most of this match. Gable and Dawson battled over a backslide. Roode knocked Wilder off the apron. Dawson covered Gable, then Roode put Gable on top and Dawson’s foot was clearly on the bottom rope, but the referee never saw it even though all of us did. Gable got the win after ten minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Bobby Roode and Chad Gable
Analysis: **1/2 It was a solid tag team match with a dead crowd that didn’t care about most of the match. That’s something WWE should be concerned about because we’re supposed to be more excited about a title match. They went for the controversial finish route again, which is more of a thing to do for a face team rather than heels like The Revival. It should lead to a title change, but it might be a few weeks until that happens. It's a bad sign that the crowd was so dead for this title match.
After the match was over, Graves complained about the ref missing the foot on the rope and called it a joke. Dawson and Wilder complained about what happened to the other teams that were at ringside.
Elias vs. Baron Corbin is up next.
PLUG TIME: I wrote a review of the first major show of the year and it was not WWE. It was New Japan’s Wrestle Kingdom 13 from this past Friday. I thought it was an incredible show with a five-star main event between Tanahashi and Omega while Chris Jericho proved he’s still got it at 48 years old in a great match with Naito. I was very impressed by it. I also liked the opening match of Ospreay vs. Ibushi a lot. I’m hoping to write more about New Japan this year.
The announcers were shown on camera welcoming us to the first Raw of 2019. The same video aired about NXT stars coming to the main roster that has been airing for about four weeks now. The wrestlers are Lars Sullivan, Lacey Evans, tag team Heavy Machinery, Nikki Cross and EC3. I'm getting tired of this video.
Analysis: Lacey Evans had a match with Natalya prior to Raw and EC3 faced Curt Hawkins. Those matches might air on Main Event this week. That show is not watched by many people. I don’t watch it.
Elias was in the ring for a pre-match song with his guitar doing his WWE stands for “Walk With Elias” bit with the crowd chanting along right on cue. He said 2018 was nothing of what he has in store for 2019. He said that on January 27 at the Royal Rumble, he will enter and win the Rumble. Elias said that he has not forgotten all the times that Corbin has wronged him. Baron Corbin interrupted him.
Analysis: I don’t expect Elias to win the Royal Rumble, but I can see him being a guy that lasts a long time to try to put him over a bit.
Corbin is still wearing the same vest and dress shirt even though he’s only a wrestler now instead of being a front office job like acting GM of Raw. Corbin said he should have our respect and admiration, but we don’t understand, so we disrespect him. Corbin said we would all like him to disappear and go away (the crowd cheered), but that’s not going to happen. Corbin said he’ll enter the Royal Rumble and win it. Elias told him to shut his mouth, which led to the start of the match.
Analysis: They should have had Elias make fun of Corbin’s gear because it’s silly that he still dresses like that for matches. Somebody in WWE must hate Corbin’s tattoos and wants them covered up or something. That’s just a guess on my part.
Elias vs. Baron Corbin
Elias hit a mule kick followed by a clothesline that sent Corbin over the top to the floor. Sliding dropkick by Elias sent Corbin into the turnbuckle. Elias up top with a cross body block onto Corbin on the floor leading to a break.
Back from break, Corbin was in control as he hit a forearm to the head of Elias while he was on the apron, so Elias was sent into the barricade. Back in the ring, Elias was in control briefly until Corbin did his slide out of the ring and go back in with a clothesline. The fans chanted “you got fired” at Corbin. Corbin went to the middle ropes, he jumped off and Elias hit him with a knee to the face. They tried some spot that seemed to be a mistake where Corbin was going to hit a move, then he slipped, then they followed that up with a neckbreaker from Elias. Corbin came back with a punch to the face. Corbin whipped Elias into the ring post and Corbin hit the End of Days slam for the pinfall win after 9 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Baron Corbin
Analysis: *1/2 It was a below average match that was boring because their styles don’t mesh well at all. The win was relatively clean for the heel Corbin, who controlled most of the match. Elias never really got going and the crowd was barely into the match. There will probably be a rematch next week with Elias getting the win because they love 50/50 booking on Raw.
Dean Ambrose did a promo backstage about his IC Title match against Seth Rollins. Ambrose claimed he lost everything to bring balance back to WWE. Ambrose said he’s going to end this thing with Rollins tonight and he’s going to burn Seth Rollins down.
There was a shot of Brock Lesnar’s locker room, Paul Heyman opened the door to say it’s time and they are up next.
Braun Strowman and Brock Lesnar Face to Face
Braun Strowman made his entrance to a good ovation from the crowd. Strowman didn’t have an elbow pad or anything on his surgically repaired right elbow. Strowman wanted a microphone, but then he put it down because he wanted a fight.
Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman appeared on the video screen (Titantron if you want to call it that). Heyman did a promo saying that if Lesnar went down to the ring now he wouldn’t have an opponent at the Royal Rumble because Braun would be just another victim. Heyman said there’s no reason to thank Lesnar and said: “you’re welcome.” Lesnar smiled into the camera.
Strowman spoke up to “Beasty Boy” telling him that he’s standing in the ring waiting for him. Strowman stood there as fans chanted “Get These Hands” and he told Lesnar to get in his face like Heyman told everybody that he’s going to do. Heyman said no and wondered if that was the best he’s got. Strowman looked like he was thinking of what to say, so maybe he forgot his lines. Strowman wondered if Heyman’s ass gets jealous out of all the stuff that comes out Heyman’s mouth. Strowman continued saying that Lesnar doesn’t want to be face to face with him while Lesnar is hiding on the screen like a coward. Strowman said that if Lesnar came out there right now he isn’t making it to the Royal Rumble because everybody knows what happens when you “get these hands” and the fans chanted it right on cue.
Lesnar put the title on Heyman’s shoulder and they walked towards the ring. Lesnar’s music hit as he entered the arena on his own without Heyman.
Lesnar slowly walked down the ramp to the ringside area. Lesnar walked around the ring while Strowman just stood in the ring doing nothing. After Lesnar completed a lap around the ring, he walked up the ramp again. Strowman told him to turn around. Heyman was back on the ramp with the title. Strowman said that at the Royal Rumble, they will crown him Universal Champion. Strowman’s music hit to end it.
Analysis: That was boring and uneventful. If Strowman wanted Lesnar to fight, why not leave the ring to try to go after him? My guess is WWE didn’t want Strowman to risk further injury to his elbow, so they opted to do a segment without any physical contact. I listened to a report from Dave Meltzer noting that Strowman wasn't cleared for physical contact yet. It felt like a complete waste of time.
There was a graphic showing the men that have declared they are in the Royal Rumble match.
Jinder Mahal, Alicia Fox and the Singh Brothers were in the ring doing their meditating gimmick. Fox did the “Shanti” thing, the crowd booed and Mahal ripped on the crowd for not paying attention. Ember Moon and Apollo Crews entered for this mixed tag team match.
Apollo Crews and Ember Moon vs. Jinder Mahal and Alicia Fox (w/Samir and Sunil Singh)
Crews hit a dropkick early on Mahal followed by a flying elbow. Fox tagged herself in, so Crews hit a slingshot dive over the top to the floor to take out the guys. Moon hit cross body block off the middle ropes. Moon with a clothesline against the turnbuckle. Moon up top and she hit the Eclipse for the pinfall win after about two minutes. Nice sell job by Fox.
Winners by pinfall: Apollo Crews and Ember Moon
Analysis: 3/4* A quick match to give Moon and Crews some positive momentum like they have had for several weeks now. It was fine as a quick match because if they went longer it would have been boring because the heels don’t get much of a reaction.
Alexa Bliss was shown getting her makeup done because her talk show is up next.
A Moment of Bliss hosted by Alexa Bliss with Ronda Rousey
There were two chairs set up on the stage as Alexa Bliss made her entrance looking great. She said she knows they don’t have much going for them as a city (I think she lives there, for what it’s worth), but it’s okay because tonight they will be known for the history-making, premiere episode of a A Moment of Bliss. She yelled about coffee, so a guy brought out a cup of coffee for her and she told him to leave.
A video package aired about the year that Ronda Rousey has had showing her debut at the Royal Rumble, winning the Raw Women’s Title (from Bliss at SummerSlam) and more. They showed clips of her appearing on talk shows because WWE loves the media attention.
Analysis: This is just a reminder that WWE cares a lot about media attention since they showed more of that than Ronda’s matches in that video package.
Ronda Rousey, the Raw Women’s Champion, made her entrance to a loud ovation from the crowd. Rousey refused a Bliss handshake and Rousey sat on the chair instead.
Bliss asked Rousey to tell us about her exceptional year and what’s next for her. Rousey said it’s been a tremendous year, but she wants to look forward and not back. Rousey talked about wanting to be a champion we can all be proud of and in order to do that she needs to chase after her limits with a vengeance. Rousey spoke about somebody in the locker room with more athleticism in her little finger than Charlotte Flair has in her whole body, a woman with a more heroine story than Becky Lynch and puts Ronda’s love for the business to shame because she is this business. Ronda said she was talking about the unsung hero of Monday Night Raw, Sasha Banks. Bliss said she thought she was talking about her.
Analysis: This "talk show" had one question before an interruption. Just saying.
Nia Jax showed up for the interruption with the fans booing her. Jax said that Rousey had a girl crush on Banks. Jax noted that at TLC she wasn’t at her best, but that was way back in 2018 and now it’s a new year, new me. Jax wondered when she would get her rematch.
Sasha Banks’ music hit with Banks showing up in her ring gear. Banks said she is extremely honored for those kinds from Rousey and she said she would love to face Rousey for the Raw Women’s Championship. Banks said she would like to teach Rousey how to lose with dignity and class. Jax said that there is a “300.5 ounce Samoan” standing in front of her. Jax said she can rip Banks’ face off or she can break her face. Jax told her to get to the back of the line. Banks called her a bitch and asked what line? Banks said she’ll face her right now with the winner facing Rousey. Jax sat down on the chair saying “I am the bitch, but I am not a bitch” and Banks was ready to go as they went to break.
Analysis: Jax didn’t say she was 300 pounds in the promo. She said ounce, so that was weird. Rousey mentioning Banks was a first for her because they haven’t interacted much since Rousey has been in WWE. Banks doesn’t have much momentum as a singles wrestler, but she has enough credibility as a former champion that she can certainly be built up again as a worthy challenger.
The match was made official during the break. Shocking, right? The winner gets to face Ronda Rousey for the Raw Women’s Title at the Royal Rumble.
Sasha Banks (w/Bayley) vs. Nia Jax (w/Tamina)
Banks with a slap to the face, she left the ring, they went to the floor and Banks hit a kick to the face. Banks with a baseball slide dropkick followed by a dropkick to bring Jax into the ring. Banks slapped on a guillotine headlock submission with Jax getting out of that with a slam. Jax with a running splash against Banks. Jax hit Banks with a knee that sent Banks out of the ring. Tamina tried to go after Banks, so Bayley went after Tamina and Tamina tossed Bayley into the barricade. Banks went after Tamina, Jax picked up Banks and tossed her onto an equipment case that was at ringside. Back in the ring, Jax hit a sitout Powerbomb for a two count as the show went to break.
Back from break, Banks got back into it with the double knee attack. Banks with a shining wizard knee to the face for two. Banks up top and she jumped off with the Meteora double knee attack into a pinfall for a two count. Banks tried the Bank Statement, but Jax got out of it easily. Jax went for a punch to the face, Banks avoided that and Jax came back with a Samoan Drop for a two count with Banks getting her foot on the bottom rope. Jax hit a running splash against the turnbuckle. Jax put Banks on her shoulders and dropped her throat first on the top rope. That was a cool spot. Jax missed a leg drop because Banks moved. Jax charged, Banks moved and Jax went shoulder first into the turnbuckle. Tamina tried to attack, so Bayley kicked her and threw her into the barricade. Banks and Jax went to the apron, Banks avoided a charge, Jax hit the ring post and Banks hit a headscissors onto Jax on the apron. I don’t know what they were going for, but Banks looks like she took a worse bump by hitting the floor. They went back into the ring with Banks slapping on the Bank Statement submission and Jax tapped out to give Banks the win after 14 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Sasha Banks
Analysis: *3/4 It was a below average match that went too long. I like longer matches when they are good, but this would have been better if it went about seven minutes. Some of Nia’s selling was poor, which hurt the match. That’s another reason to not book her in longer matches. Banks is good at selling and making the big comeback, so at least the finish was good.
Banks celebrated the win with her buddy Bayley. The win by Banks means she will challenge Ronda Rousey for the Raw Women’s Title at the Royal Rumble on January 27.
Analysis: That’s another win for Rousey. It should be a good match designed to give Rousey a competitive match against a new opponent.
Dean Ambrose was shown backstage getting ready because his IC Title defense is up next. Seth Rollins was shown taping up for the match.
This Saturday on WWE Network, it’s NXT Takeover UK. I don’t know if I’m going to review it.
Dean Ambrose made his entrance with the Intercontinental Title with Seth Rollins showing up to attack him in the aisle. Rollins threw him into the ring, the bell rang and the match began.
Intercontinental Championship Falls Count Anywhere Match: Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins
Rollins was aggressive with a clothesline that sent Ambrose out of the ring, suicide dive and a rollup on the floor got a two count. They went brawling into the crowd by the equipment area and Ambrose ran backstage with Rollins in pursuit. Rollins whipped Ambrose into a ladder. Rollins tried using a shovel, but Ambrose moved out of the way. Rollins whipped Ambrose into some steel structure. They went on top of some equipment cases and Ambrose whipped Rollins down by the back of the head onto the containers. Ambrose threw a ladder at Rollins for a two count on the floor.
The match continued with Ambrose in control as they battled on the steps in the crowd. There was a replay from during the break when Rollins gave Ambrose a body slam through the announce table. Rollins jumped off a barricade from the 100 level of the crowd to the floor and he hit a cross body block for a two count. They went back to the ringside area with Rollins in control. Rollins whipped Ambrose into the barricade at ringside. Ambrose got back into with a steel chair to the ribs and a chair shot to the back for a two count on the floor. Ambrose pulled off the mat at ringside and wanted a Dirty Deeds on the floor, but Rollins countered with a back body drop onto Ambrose on the floor. Back in the ring, Ambrose with the dreaded fingers to the eye. Ambrose up top, Rollins met him there with a superplex into a Buckle Bomb into the turnbuckle. Rollins with a superkick. Rollins set up for The Stomp and Rollins connected with The Stomp, but here comes Bobby Lashley for the interruption. Lashley pulled Rollins out of the ring. Lio Rush was there too. Lashley sent Rollins into the barricade followed by a belly to belly suplex by Lashley on Rollins on the floor. Back in the ring, Lashley put Rollins on his shoulders and slammed him down. Lashley set up in the corner and hit a Spear on Rollins to take him out. The fans were booing with some of them chanting “Lashley Sucks” but it was not a loud chant at all. Ambrose crawled his way over to Rollins, put his arm on top and Ambrose retained the Intercontinental Title after about 15 minutes of action.
Winner by pinfall: Dean Ambrose
Analysis: **3/4 It was a good match with a predictable finish based on the stipulation they used. The show started with Rollins/Lashley brawling, so it was fitting that Lashley was the one that screwed Rollins out of the win. Rollins had the win after hitting The Stomp and Lashley cost him the title, so it furthers that feud. I don’t think any Rollins fan should be upset that Rollins failed to win back the title because Rollins is hopefully going after the Universal Title at WrestleMania.
After the match was over, Ambrose left. Rush grabbed a table from under the ring and gave it to Lashley in the ring. They set the table up in the ring. Lashley picked up Rollins and gave him a Spinebuster through the table. Lashley and Rush posed over a fallen Rollins. That was the end of Raw this week.
Analysis: It was a strong showing from Lashley. The issue with that is Lashley lost easily to guys like Elias in recent weeks, so that didn’t make him look strong at all. At least this gets Lashley back into a good spot again as a top heel.
Three Stars of the Show
1. Seth Rollins - Great performance all night. Best performer on this show by far.
2. Dean Ambrose
3. (tie) John Cena
3. (tie) Bobby Lashley
5.5 out of 10
Last week: 6.5
Last 5 Weeks: 6.5, 5.5, 5.5, 5, 4.5
I give it a 5.5 out of 10.
It was an average Raw to start the year. The first hour was good with the opening promo and the six man tag team match that got a lot of time, but then they just lost steam from there. John Cena showed good energy to open the show and his announcement about being in the Royal Rumble adds to the star power of that match.
That Lesnar/Strowman segment was so lame. It was as if they thought of it one minute before it took place instead of having a week to prepare. Maybe Strowman couldn't bump because of the elbow, but they could have done something more interesting. Did they really think that was an effective way of building up to a match? It was boring.
I’m happy with Sasha Banks being pushed to a title match even though it’s obvious she’ll lose at the Royal Rumble. At least they are doing something with her. It would have been nice if they built up to it over the last few weeks instead of having Rousey randomly mentioning her.
The main event was fine while likely putting an end to Rollins going after the IC Title again. Ambrose can move on to feuding with somebody else (like I mentioned earlier, Finn Balor would be a good choice) and Rollins will have to deal with Lashley on the road to the Royal Rumble.
Here’s the lineup for the Royal Rumble on January 27 from Chase Field in Phoenix.
30 Man Royal Rumble Match
30 Woman Royal Rumble Match
WWE Universal Championship: Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Braun Strowman
WWE Championship: Daniel Bryan (c) vs. AJ Styles
Raw Women’s Championship: Ronda Rousey (c) vs. Sasha Banks
Smackdown Women’s Championship: Asuka (c) vs. Carmella, Charlotte Flair or Becky Lynch
WWE Cruiserweight Championship: Buddy Murphy (c) vs. Akira Tozawa vs. Kalisto vs. fourth competitor TBA
You can contact me using any of the methods below. See ya next time for the Smackdown review. Go Los Angeles Rams, Toronto Raptors and Toronto Maple Leafs. They’re all good! Thanks for reading.