Monday Night Raw
Date: January 21, 2019
Location: Chesapeake Energy Center, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Commentators: Michael Cole, Corey Graves, Renee Young
It’s the last Raw before the Royal Rumble and last week saw a pretty big change. Finn Balor has taken Braun Strowman’s place in Sunday’s Universal Title match and that means things are a lot more interesting in a hurry. I doubt something that big is going to change tonight but you never know. Let’s get to it.
We open with the traditional Martin Luther King Jr. Day video, which absolutely never misses.
Here are Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman to get things going. Heyman sounds rather disgusted this week and talks about Finn Balor winning the title shot last week. Balor pinned John Cena, who them endorsed Balor for his win. Everyone got on their feet and said they believed in Balor, who is going into a Universal Title match.
Lesnar was ready for Braun Strowman and now he’s going to take that out on Balor. Finn is going to be sacrificed for believing that he can defeat Lesnar and for the sin of believing that he can take what Brock has. Here’s your spoiler alert: Balor will be destroyed for his sins and conquered by the conqueror.
This brings out Vince McMahon to say Heyman believes this one more than usual. Vince sees this as David vs. Goliath. See, one day David went out and ate every mushroom he could find and decided he could beat Goliath. Then Goliath beat David to death, but David was reincarnated as Finn Balor. Vince calls this hillbilly land (Heyman: “You’re speaking too fast for them Vince.”) and says no one should believe Balor can win.
This brings out Braun Strowman, much to Vince’s annoyance. Strowman says last week was the worst night of his life because of Baron Corbin, who cost him $100,000 and his Universal Title shot. That makes Lesnar a lucky man too because it means Strowman won’t be waiting for him on Sunday. He’ll be waiting after Sunday though and it’ll be time for Lesnar to get these hands. This brings out Balor, who says he earned the title shot last week by beating the best of all time in John Cena. Heyman: “Second greatest of all time after Brock Lesnar. Continue.”
Strowman chimes in again but Balor says to keep his nose out of it because Balor is going to do something that Braun never did. Lesnar leaves so Balor explains the story of David to Vince. No one bought what David was made of, just like Balor will do on Sunday. Vince tells Lesnar to hang on because we’ll have Strowman vs. Balor right now in a David vs. Goliath match. No Chance playing us to the break seems rather appropriate. Also, how long did it take for Vince to turn heel? My goodness.
Braun Strowman vs. Finn Balor
Joined in progress with Balor’s dropkick not having much effect. Strowman knocks him to the floor for the running shoulder and it’s off to the nerve hold back inside. They head outside again and this time the running shoulder is countered with a Sling Blade. Back in and Balor grabs a sleeper to knock Strowman down. It’s too early for the Coup de Grace though as Strowman throws him off the top and down onto Lesnar for a belly to belly.
The bell didn’t ring and it’s Balor going back in to attack Strowman. A running flip dive takes Lesnar down and there’s another Sling Blade to Strowman. Balor dropkicks Lesnar through the ropes and dropkicks him into the barricade for a bonus. Strowman pulls Balor back inside but misses a charge into the post. The shot gun dropkick sets up the Coup de Grace but Lesnar comes in with an F5 for the DQ at 7:46.
Rating: C. This was much more about the brawling at the end than the match and that’s fine. Balor needed some momentum heading into the pay per view, though having Lesnar come in for the DQ wasn’t the best idea in the world. I guess they didn’t want Strowman taking a pin, though that begs the question of why book the match in the first place.
Here are Lio Rush and Bobby Lashley for the Intercontinental Title celebration. Rush brags about how good Lashley is and says we’re having an open challenge (non-title of course), because Lashley fights for money. The lights are turned low so Lashley can pose until Apollo Crews comes out to interrupt. Apollo knows that Lashley is a stud but no one paid money to see Lashley pose.
Rush says that Crews doesn’t have the stature to do this but if he can beat Lashley in a pose off, he can have the match. Lashley poses but Crews dances into his pose. They do it again to the same result, followed by Lashley doing his most muscular pose. Lashley finally jumps Crews but gets sent outside. Rush is tossed on top of him to really hammer the point home.
Bobby Lashley vs. Apollo Crews
Non-title and joined in progress with Lashley powering him down. Crews is right back with a press slam of his own (dang) for the double knockdown. Crews makes the mistake of going after Rush though, meaning another gorilla press. That’s enough of a distraction for Lashley to spear him down for the pin at 2:45.
After Lashley’s win, Seth Rollins comes out for a staredown. Post break, Rollins says this day is about Martin Luther King Jr., including a quote talking about a man being measured by what he does when he’s surrounded by tragedy. That’s what Rollins has felt for the last few months because he now has his ring all around him. He’s going to Phoenix this weekend and winning the Royal Rumble.
It’s a long shot, but he’s betting on himself because of what’s inside his chest. This brings out Drew McIntyre, who says he can’t wait to take everything away from Rollins both tonight and on Sunday. If you had Rollins’ heart and put it in Drew’s body, the person would be unstoppable. That sounds like the setup of a match to me.
Seth Rollins vs. Drew McIntyre
Joined in progress again with Rollins elbowing him in the face for two. Rollins sends him outside but the suicide dive misses, allowing McIntyre to put on an armbar. That delay lets Cole tell us that Cena is out of the Rumble with an ankle injury. I guess that’s how they get him back on the movie set. Rollins fights up but misses a charge into the post, allowing the armbar to go on again. Drew kicks him in the ribs to the floor and the reverse Alabama slam takes us to a break.
Back with Rollins hitting the Sling Blade but having the Buckle Bomb reversed. Rollins gets two off a hurricanrana and the Falcon Arrow gets two. The Stomp is countered but the Claymore is countered with a heck of a superkick for two more. They’re certainly trading the heavy shots so far. It’s McIntyre up first and he takes Rollins up for the super White Noise into another near fall. The frustrated McIntyre tries a clothesline but gets rolled up for the pin at 10:49.
Rating: C+. This shouldn’t have been on Raw and I’m not sure I can go with the idea of McIntyre losing to anyone clean at this point. At least there’s a good chance that Rollins is winning the Rumble on Sunday so it would make sense to give him a win this big. The loss doesn’t do serious damage to McIntyre, but it doesn’t exactly help him either. Kind of a weird choice, though if they go all the way with Rollins it makes more sense.
The Revival (hey they’re still here) sucks up to Vince to get a title shot. Vince agrees, but this time we need a special referee. Someone like….Curt Hawkins. The Revival immediately starts sucking up.
Dean Ambrose says 2018 wasn’t his year because he drove his body into the ground. He’ll make 2019 better by winning the Royal Rumble.
Lucha House Party vs. Jinder Mahal/Singh Brothers
Dorado goes right after Jinder to start but gets driven into the corner. We hit an early chinlock but Dorado is quickly up. Sunil comes in and almost immediately allows the hot tag to Kalisto. The step onto the shoulders into a splash gets two on Sunil but a knee to the back puts Kalisto down. A kick to the head allows the hot tag off to Metalik so house can be cleaned. Metalik wastes no time in hitting a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker….to pin Sunil at 3:22. Everyone is surprised by that pin, as they should be.
Rating: D. Were they just running short on time this week and needed to fill in some time? The match wasn’t anything interesting and I was half expecting Mahal to take a pin in there instead. The ending came out of nowhere and while I didn’t like how fast it was over, it did mean I didn’t have to watch it anymore so that’s an improvement.
Video on EC3.
Dana Brooke seems awestruck by EC3 and asks him a bunch of questions about his nutrition.
Here’s Elias for a song. He talks about what a great year it’s going to be until Baron Corbin interrupts. Corbin threatens to come beat him up so Elias wants the mic cut. Since Corbin isn’t in charge anymore, Elias gets what he wants. Elias goes on to sing about how much Corbin sucks and the fight is on. You know what’s next.
Elias vs. Baron Corbin
Joined in progress because opening bells are the enemy tonight. Elias hits Old School into an armdrag and clotheslines Corbin down before sending him outside. That means the slide underneath the ropes into the big clothesline but Elias is right back with the jumping knee to the face. A swinging neckbreaker gives Elias two but Corbin punches him in the throat, setting up End of Days for the pin at 3:33.
Rating: D. Another match that didn’t have time to mean much here, but I’ll certainly take a Corbin match going as short as possible. This feud hasn’t done anything for me, though it’s sad to see Elias fall so far so fast. He wasn’t going to be a big star with the rather simple gimmick, but this face turn and losses to Corbin have killed him.
It’s time for A Moment of Bliss with Alexa talking about the Women’s Royal Rumble. After listing off 21 names in the match so far, she brings out her former best friend and the odds on favorite to win: Nia Jax. Before Nia can answer who she would want to face with a win, Ember Moon interrupts to says he’s staking her claim right now. This brings out Alicia Fox to says he’s the captain of the division and navigating the ship towards Wrestlemania.
Mickie James comes out (much to Bliss’ annoyance) and says she’ll win. A fight breaks out and a bunch of other women come out, sending Bliss onto her chair to say ENOUGH. The fight breaks out again and heads to the back so Bliss announces herself for the Royal Rumble. This brings out Lacey Evans to say that was messy. She’ll be bringing class to the Royal Rumble, including taking care of the sawed off girly runt Bliss.
Titus O’Neil announces his introduction into the Royal Rumble when a production guy bumps into him. Titus isn’t happy as the guy leaves….and that’s it.
Ascension vs. Heavy Machinery
Otis spins Viktor around with a slam to start and it’s off to Tucker for a double headbutt. The Bushwhackers double knee to the head sets up the Caterpillar, followed by the Compactor for the pin at 2:12. Total squash and fun match that Heavy Machinery can do.
Tag Team Titles: Revival vs. Bobby Roode/Chad Gable
Roode and Gable are defending and Curt Hawkins is guest referee. Wilder and Gable start things off and it’s time to take over in the corner early on with a tag to Roode not counting due to a lack of grabbing a tag rope. Everything breaks down in a hurry and it’s stereo t-bone suplex to send Revival outside. Gable is backdropped onto Wilder but gets clotheslined down by Dawson as we take a break.
Back with Gable making the hot tag so Roode can clothesline away, followed by a spinebuster to Wilder. Dawson tries the Ultimate Warrior/Bobby Heenan leg trip on a suplex but gets caught at two. Wilder’s rollup with feet on the ropes gets the same treatment, as does Dawson pulling the trunks on a rollup. Dawson has had it and shoves Hawkins, allowing Gable to grab a rollup for a fast counted pin at 8:04.
Rating: C-. They had a story here and while I’m not sure if this is enough to keep the Revival happy, it’s still something that has been done as of late. Would it really hurt to give them the titles at some point? It’s not like Gable and Roode are anything special and they’ve been a team for all of a few months anyway. Not a bad match, but I just want to see the Revival get to do something.
Post match Hawkins gets beaten down until Zack Ryder runs in for the save to a rather mild reaction from the announcers.
Ronda Rousey says she doesn’t owe Sasha Banks a thing because Banks insulted her as soon as she got a Women’s Title shot. She’s the Boss’ boss, and she’ll prove it at the Royal Rumble.
Ronda Rousey/Natalya vs. Sasha Banks/Bayley
Before the match, Banks talks about Rousey not being around very long and being ready to stop her on Sunday. That sets Rousey off to the point that Natalya has to hold her back. Banks and Natalya start things off with Sasha getting in a cheap shot on Rousey to knock her off the apron. Rousey comes in to clean house and we take an early break. Back with Bayley coming in for a running knee to Natalya’s face. Sasha adds the Meteora for two but Natalya gets over for the hot tag to Rousey.
Banks slips out of a quick fireman’s carry and rolls Rousey into the Bank Statement with Natalya having to make a save. Bayley gets beaten up as well but takes Rousey into the corner for an ax handle to Rousey’s arm. That doesn’t seem to bother Rousey as she pulls Banks down into an armbar attempt. That goes nowhere so it’s back to Natalya for a suplex into the Sharpshooter. Everything breaks down and Banks slaps on the Bank Statement to Natalya for the tap at 7:41.
Rating: C. The match was as watchable as you would expect, but what matters here is I’m much more interested in seeing Rousey vs. Banks than I was before. Rousey showed some fire here and that’s what makes her matches that much better. I don’t think Banks will win the title, but I think there’s the tiniest chance that it could happen, and that’s what matters. Good job on that, and that’s what mattered most.
Banks and Rousey stare each other down to end the show.
Overall Rating: C-. This show felt fast and I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not. Everything felt like it was happening at a breakneck pace and that gives it a benefit of never dragging. At the same time though, very little felt very good or even worth seeing, though I’ll take that over boring or dragging every week. The Rumble itself isn’t getting a lot of attention at the top, though that’s mainly because Seth Rollins is such a heavy favorite. The rest of the card is looking good though and that’s a fine way to go. Not a bad show, but it went flying by.
Finn Balor b. Braun Strowman via DQ when Brock Lesnar interfered
Bobby Lashley b. Apollo Crews – Spear
Seth Rollins b. Drew McIntyre – Rollup
Lucha House Party b. Jinder Mahal/Singh Brothers – Tilt-a-whirl backbreaker to Sunil Singh
Heavy Machinery b. Ascension – Compactor to Viktor
Chad Gable/Bobby Roode b. Revival – Rollup to Dawson
Sasha Banks/Bayley b. Ronda Rousey/Natalya – Bank Statement to Natalya
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