Monday Night Raw
Date: January 7, 2019
Location: Amway Center, Orlando, Florida
Commentators: Michael Cole, Corey Graves, Renee Young
It’s the first show of the year and WWE has stacked the card. In this case we have the return of John Cena, the return of Brock Lesnar, the return of Braun Strowman, the return of Hulk Hogan and the return of the Tag Team Title match from Christmas Eve with the Revival challenging Chad Gable and Bobby Roode, this time in a lumberjack match. Oh and getting ready for the Rumble in case you didn’t have enough to pick from. Let’s get to it.
In memory of Gene Okerlund.
We open with a big fight in the back between Seth Rollins and Bobby Lashley with wrestlers, agents and referees not being able to break it up. They fight into the arena with Rollins finally being dragged to the back to separate the two of them.
Less than five seconds after the fight is over, here’s John Cena to open things up. Cena welcomes us to the show and talks about Rollins and Lashley being all fired up because it’s almost Wrestlemania season. He’s not getting left out this year so he’s going to start stepping up right now. There is one match where any superstar can grab the golden ticket and that is the Royal Rumble. Nothing is handed to you and he’s planning on earning his golden ticket by officially entering the Rumble.
This brings out Drew McIntyre to say he’s been waiting on this for several years. Cena is standing in the middle of the ring and McIntyre doesn’t care what’s going on with him, including who is in his bed. What McIntyre cares about is Cena being the best of all time. See, Drew has a tendency to take out the best of all time, like the Shield and Kurt Angle. McIntyre is a dangerous man and now he’s coming for Cena. That makes Cena shake his head, because he had to leave so that everyone else around here could think of a different promo. He’s heard this before so why is McIntyre any different?
The match seems ready to happen but here are Lio Rush and Bobby Lashley to rant about how Rollins sent nuts. If something isn’t done, they’re getting a LAWYER. Cue Rollins to jump Lashley from behind and the fight is on all over again. Dean Ambrose comes out to go after Rollins so Cena and McIntyre get in on it as well. Finn Balor comes out and hits the big flip dive as we take a break.
Bobby Lashley/Drew McIntyre/Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins/John Cena/Finn Balor
We start fast with Balor working on Lashley’s arm but getting knocked into the corner. Ambrose comes in and gets caught with a basement dropkick, only to drag Balor into the corner for a hard chop from McIntyre. The beatdown continues with Lashley hitting a chinlock but not being able to hit the spinning Dominator. Balor gets up some boots in the corner (it’s always the boots) but Lashley drives him straight back into the corner again.
One more chance gets Balor over to the corner so Cena can clean some house but the Glasgow Kiss cuts him off as we take a break. Back with Cena dropkicking Ambrose, drawing Lashley right back in to break up the tag. Lashley stops to pose and the delay lets Cena hit the AA to put both guys down. Ambrose cuts off the hot tag bid though and we hit the chinlock. They head outside with Ambrose sending him into the steps as we take a second break.
Back again with Balor getting the hot tag to clean house, including a double stomp and shotgun dropkick to Ambrose. The Coup de Grace connects but McIntyre is right there with the Claymore to cut him down. It’s too early to finish things up though as Balor gets over for the tag to Rollins. That means a springboard clothesline to McIntyre and a moonsault to Lashley and Ambrose.
The Falcon Arrow gets two on McIntyre but the Stomp doesn’t connect. The reverse Alabama Slam is broken up by an AA but Lashley spears Cena down. That means a superkick to Lashley and another one to McIntyre. The frog splash (with some crazy height) misses McIntyre though and Ambrose tags himself in. Rollins blocks Dirty Deeds though and hits the Stomp for the pin at 21:15.
Rating: B. Good, hot match to open the show as they try as hard as they can (in vein that is) to fight off the National Championship game. Rollins pinning Ambrose to continue their feud is fine, especially if Rollins vs. Lashley is going to continue. Having Cena in there is a good idea as you might not want to have him in a long singles match when he hasn’t been in the ring much lately. Solid match and a very good start to the show.
Post match HHH is shown in the back talking to Sasha Banks and Bayley. That’s not cool with Seth, who storms to the back. Seth finds HHH and demands a title shot with Ambrose tonight. HHH agrees and makes it falls count anywhere. Egads they’re pumping this show up hard.
We look at some Tweets regarding Mean Gene passing away.
We get a ten bell salute to Okerlund.
Here’s Hulk Hogan, in a Mean Gene O Mania shirt (which he had back in the 80s), to pay tribute to Okerlund. Hogan talks about Gene loving to entertain and we get the big video tribute. Back in the arena, Hogan says Gene isn’t here, but he’s right here, with a point to his heart.
The fans start a THANK YOU MEAN GENE chant and we get one more WELL LET ME TELL YOU SOMETHING MEAN GENE with Hogan talking about Gene getting the angels singing Tutti Frutti. He’s making Randy Savage/Ultimate Warrior and Roddy Piper/Mr. Perfect with Andre the Giant as a special referee. Gene better be pumping the weights because he has to choose between Moolah and Mae Young. Whatcha gonna do when Mean Gene O Mania runs wild on you? That was awesome, with the tribute being worth seeing for old school fans.
Tag Team Titles: Revival vs. Bobby Roode/Chad Gable
Roode and Gable are defending in a lumberjack match and a rematch from two weeks ago when Gable and Roode pinned the illegal man to retain. Roode grabs a headlock on Wilder but it’s way too early for the Glorious DDT. The arm cranking begins until Dawson chops Gable down without much effort. Everything breaks down for a bit with Revival being clotheslined to the floor, allowing Roode to backdrop Gable onto both of them. Back in and Dawson gets in a clothesline on Gable to take over as we hit the break.
We come back with Roode getting the hot tag and coming in to clean house. A spinning Rock Bottom plants Wilder and the Blockbuster into the German suplex gets two on Dawson with Wilder mostly missing a save. The blind tag means Gable’s Rolling Chaos Theory to Dawson doesn’t count, allowing Wilder to come off the top with a splash for two more. Dawson and Gable fight over a backslide and manage to flip Wilder to the apron. Gable grabs a small package for the pin at 10:11, even though Dawson’s foot was underneath the bottom rope.
Rating: C. Can we please stop giving the heels sympathy? This is twice now that the faces have won the match and are then told that they haven’t quite gotten it. Not only does it mean we have to see a match that wasn’t great in the first place, but now we have a reason to feel sorry for the bad guys. That’s not how this is supposed to go and once they do win, it’s a reason to cheer for them because they finally got a fair shake. Why is this so complicated?
Here’s THE SAME NXT ARRIVAL VIDEO THAT WE’VE SEEN FOR A MONTH NOW! EC3 and Lacey Evans already debuted on Main Event this week so what’s the point in doing this again?
Here’s Elias for a song. He talks about 2018 being a great year with everything he accomplished. 2019 is going to be even better when he wins the Royal Rumble, but for now he wants to sing about how awful Baron Corbin is. This brings out Corbin to say he’s here to help. That starts by entering the Royal Rumble but for now, he’ll just beat up Elias.
Elias vs. Baron Corbin
They fight to the floor early on and Elias hits a falling crossbody as we take a break. Back with Corbin hammering away until Elias makes the comeback and slugs away in the corner. The fans try to care about egads man, it’s a Baron Corbin match. Elias gets him up in an electric chair but drops him down, setting up a swinging neckbreaker for two instead. The CM Punk chants start and Elias misses a top rope splash, allowing Corbin to send him shoulder first into the post. End of Days is good for the pin at 9:25.
Rating: D-. I don’t remember the last time a wrestler managed to suck the life out of a show like Corbin does. He’s not interesting, he’s not very good, and WWE has ruined the already not very high potential that he had. It’s not working, and now the solution is to keep him on TV. Corbin needs to go away for a very, very long time just to let people stop hating him so much because he’s actively destroying shows he’s on anymore. Elias isn’t that much better, but at least he doesn’t drag others down with him.
Dean Ambrose isn’t happy about the title defense tonight but he never liked six man tags anyway. Tonight he’s keeping the title from Rollins, because everything falls apart if Seth gets it back.
Here’s Braun Strowman for the showdown with Brock Lesnar. Paul Heyman and Lesnar show up on the screen with Heyman talking about how Strowman is looking for a confrontation. The words that Strowman needs to understand are Card Subject To Change, because if Lesnar came out there right now, there would be no Royal Rumble title match.
Strowman stays in the ring, saying he’s waiting for Beastie Boy. Heyman tells Brock not to
worry about it and they stay in the back, with Strowman saying Lesnar must be scared. Lesnar finally comes out, walks near the ring, and starts heading to the back. Strowman says Lesnar needs to get back here….because he’s winning the title at the Royal Rumble.
This was AWFUL as they clearly have no way around the fact that Strowman is the challenger of the month and has no chance of winning. That’s what happens when you do this match twice with Lesnar winning both times, the most recent being without breaking a sweat. Side note: the last time Lesnar defended the title (not counting house shows) in a match that didn’t involve Strowman or Roman Reigns was in July 2017. And they wonder why his matches stopped meaning anything years ago?
Jinder Mahal/Alicia Fox vs. Apollo Crews/Ember Moon
Before the match, Alicia leads us in some breathing exercises and Jinder insults some fans for not getting into it. It’s like they want us to change the channel sometimes. Crews flips over Jinder to start and gets two off a crossbody. The guys head outside and it’s Moon hitting all of her usual, capped off by the Eclipse for the pin on Fox at 1:48. At least it was short.
Here’s Alexa Bliss for the debut of her talk show, A Moment Of Bliss. After demanding and receiving a cup of coffee, we see a video on Ronda Rousey’s rookie year. Rousey is of course the first guest and wants to talk about the future instead of the past. She talks about someone who is more athletic than Charlotte and had a tougher road here than Becky Lynch. Rousey means Sasha Banks, so here’s Nia Jax (Me out loud: “GOOD GRIEF!”) to say that sounds like someone has a girl crush on Sasha.
Nia wants to know when she’s getting her rematch from TLC but here’s Sasha, who says she’s honored by the words. She’d love to face Ronda for the title and teach her how to lose with grace. Nia says the line starts behind her before she’s a 300.5 ounce (not pounds, but ounce) Samoan. Sasha: “B**** what line?” Sasha challenges her to a #1 contenders match right now but Nia has a seat and we take a break.
Sasha Banks vs. Nia Jax
The winner gets Rousey, presumably at the Rumble. Nia does indeed get in the ring during the break as Bayley and Tamina are watching at ringside. Sasha kicks her in the face and tries a guillotine but gets thrown into the corner. A kick to the head rocks Nia until she runs Banks over with a knee. Nia drops her face first onto the barricade for a nine count as Bayley and Tamina get in a fight.
Back in and a Batista Bomb gives Nia two as we take a break. We come back with Nia holding her in a torture rack until Sasha slips out and starts in with the knees. The running knees in the corner set up the top rope Meteora for two but Banks can’t hold the Bank Statement. Nia misses the face breaker and it’s a Samoan drop to crush Banks again. There’s a corner splash and Nia loads her up in a fireman’s carry on the middle rope.
Instead of falling back though, Nia jumps down, dropping Sasha onto the corner in a nasty crash. That’s only good for two and Bayley dropkicks Tamina for a bonus. Banks comes back with a dropkick in the corner and tries a hurricanrana off the apron but Banks just falls off to the side in what looked like a botch. Back in and the Bank Statement finishes Nia at 13:23.
Rating: C.- Nia and Corbin are the kind of people who need to just go away for awhile. They just got done with some terrible stories and feuds but they’re still trotted out there every week with the fans getting more and more sick of them every time. Eventually they kill the show whenever they appear because the fans don’t want to boo them but rather just not see them at all. WWE keeps at it anyway, because even though they have the huge roster, they don’t want to start anything new but rather keep doing the same stuff over and over again, to worse and worse returns.
Intercontinental Title: Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose
Ambrose is defending and it’s Falls Count Anywhere. Seth jumps him from behind to start and we’re off in a hurry. The fight heads outside immediately with Rollins clotheslining him over the barricade. They go backstage with Rollins throwing Dean into a ladder but missing a shovel shot. Ambrose sends him head first into a metal case for two and then gets in a ladder shot for the same.
Back from a break with the fight in the crowd and Rollins diving off a barricade with a crossbody for two. Rollins punches him straight in the nose and they head to ringside with Dean being tossed into the barricade. Ambrose is right back with a drop onto the barricade for two and it’s time to peel back the ring mats. After a kiss on the head, Dean’s Dirty Deeds attempt is countered with a backdrop onto the concrete.
They head inside with a superplex into the buckle bomb into a superkick keeping Dean in big trouble. The Stomp connects but here’s Bobby Lashley to pull Rollins out of the ring. Lashley beats the heck out of him on the floor, including an overhead belly to belly. Back in and the beating continues, including the spinning Dominator and a spear. Dean covers the finished Rollins to retain at 15:22.
Rating: B-. It was a good brawl but they telegraphed the ending by about nine miles. There was no hiding Lashley interfering to cost Rollins the match and that brings up the bigger problem: they set Rollins up as being back last week, have him in a great performance earlier tonight, and then oh dang he lost. Well thanks for letting us get reinvested in him for….oh a week or so. I’m sure Lashley vs. Rollins will be fine and Ambrose can find something else to do, but it didn’t make for a strong main event to end a bad show.
Post match Lashley puts Rollins through a table to end the show.
Overall Rating: D. This show was a perfect example of everything wrong with Raw right now. The wrestling was fine at times and even good at some points, but the people and stories that they keep bringing out are death. Between acts that the fans do not want to see (Jax and Corbin) to talented people who have no story and just float from match to match (Crews, Bayley) to feuds that keep going with whatever illogical booking they have going this week (Revival vs. Gable/Roode), there are so many problems with this show that the good stuff is completely drowned out.
I know they’ve had to deal with holidays and the big football game tonight, but we’re less than three weeks away from the Royal Rumble and three months away from Wrestlemania with almost nothing looking like it’s even gotten started. In theory Rollins wins the Rumble to set up a feud with Lesnar, which will be over Lesnar not being around often enough and Rollins being the man and all that. The problem though is what else do they have besides that and the women’s match?
It’s certainly not too late to fix things up but the show continuing like this is flaming death for a TV show. There’s no reason to care about so much of what people are going to do because they’re still in the same place they were in months ago. Elias, Corbin (outside of his time as GM), Strowman, Lashley, Balor and probably others, are all virtually in the same place they were in a year ago with no significant title reigns for any of them in that whole time frame. Why is that? Well it could be because the Intercontinental Title is the de factor World Title right now because Lesnar has to face Strowman for his quarterly defense and leave.
This whole show needs a completely different style of presenting itself, and it’s not like WWE doesn’t know how to do it. Smackdown, NXT, heck even 205 Live knows how to do this stuff but Raw can’t figure it out. I haven’t been this sick of the show in a very long time and so much of it comes from the fact that they know how to do it properly and just won’t. I don’t know if it’s the lack of a proper World Champion or the writers being hacks or Vince losing his touch or some combination of everything, but it needs to change and it needs to change soon. Terribly dull show, with the two good matches not being able to save it.
John Cena/Finn Balor/Seth Rollins b. Dean Ambrose/Bobby Lashley/Drew McIntyre – Stomp to Ambrose
Chad Gable/Bobby Roode b. Revival – Small package to Dawson
Baron Corbin b. Elias – End of Days
Apollo Crews/Ember Moon b. Jinder Mahal/Alicia Fox – Eclipse to Fox
Sasha Banks b. Nia Jax – Bank Statement
Dean Ambrose b. Seth Rollins – Pin after a spear from Bobby Lashley
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