An Intercontinental Championship triple-threat is the big headline match for tonight’s show. Dean Ambrose defends against Bobby Lashley and Seth Rollins after Lashley destroyed Rollins chances last week (I have no idea why that gets Lashley a title match). Ronda Rousey and Sasha Banks are teaming up to face Nia Jax and Tamina because… nope, no idea on that one either. Other than that, Braun Strowman’s readiness to face Brock Lesnar is being called into question, and The Revival are getting paranoid that their streak of bad luck is a conspiracy.
I’m Amanda, and this is the RAW Review.
Ronda Rousey and Sasha Banks def. Nia Jax and Tamina
The Revival def. Lucha House Party
Bayley, Natalya, and Nikki Cross def. The Riott Squad
Finn Balor def. Jinder Mahal
Bobby Lashley def. Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins – TITLE CHANGE
Finn Balor def. John Cena, Baron Corbin, and Drew McIntyre
The Best Bits
» There was a long through-narrative to this week’s show, so here’s how it happened.
The show opened with Vince McMahon getting out of his limo.
Braun Strowman started the show proper. He said Lesnar will never admit it but he’s always been scared of him. When he had the Money in the Bank contract Lesnar was looking over his shoulder. When Strowman had a Universal title opportunity Lesnar ripped the cage open to stop him winning it. And when Strowman was about to get his hands on Lesnar at WWE World Cup, Lesnar had Corbin injure him. He’s all healed up and with Corbin no longer in power, there’s no one to save Lesnar. He’s going to take the title in Phoenix.
Corbin came out and said Strowman can’t beat Lesnar and they both know it. While Strowman is failing to beat Lesnar, Corbin is going to focus on winning the Royal Rumble and going somewhere Strowman never will, to the main event of WrestleMania.
Strowman started up the ramp and Corbin ran off backstage. Strowman chased him but couldn’t find him. Elias appeared and sang a song to tell Strowman that Corbin was hiding in the limo we saw Vince McMahon getting out of. Strowman trashed the limo then came face to face with Vince McMahon.
McMahon fined him $100,000 then took away his Universal Championship opportunity at Royal Rumble when Strowman raised his voice. To show what he thought of that, Strowman tipped the car onto its roof.
Strowman was shown being escorted from the building before the first match and Corbin walked away from the scene smiling.
An update was provided (during a match). Apollo Crews, Curt Hawkins, EC3 (one of the NXT transfers in waiting), and possibly Rhyno were among the hopefuls to face Lesnar. After the match they’d interrupted was over, Vince McMahon came out of his office and refused to say anything anyway.
He later came out to address the situation, but didn’t get chance to say anything before John Cena joined him. Cena said he knows McMahon is there to tell someone to step up and he’ll save him the time. Twenty years ago, he asked Vince McMahon to give him a chance and he wouldn’t let him down. He gave him a chance and he didn’t let him down. Then he gave him another and another. Cena has missed birthdays, weddings, and funerals, because stepping up in WWE doesn’t mean putting your life on hold for it, it means making WWE your life and loving every second of it (McMahon smiled at that). Then he said, ‘Give me a chance, Vince, I will not let you down.’ He’ll walk into Royal Rumble and walk out WWE Universal Champion because he has something no other WWE superstar has, Ruthless Aggression.
Drew McIntyre came out next shouting ‘no’ and said ‘how dare you’ to Cena. How dare he stand there with a straight face and claim he still has ruthless aggression. McIntyre got nose to nose with Vince McMahon and told him this is what ruthless aggression looks like. Cena’s time is up his time is now. McIntyre tried to dismiss Cena, then Baron Corbin came out. He said his life was threatened earlier in the night by Braun Strowman and he’s not the type of man to have a lawyer on speed dial but if he was Vince McMahon would have to agree that what’s best for business is to give him the match.
Finn Balor came out to stake his claim and said he’s tired of being left out of these conversations. He was the inaugural Universal Champion. Vince McMahon said he might be again one day, but… well, basically, he said he was too small. Balor said McMahon had never believed in him, but the people do. He knows McMahon is stubborn and nothing he can say will change his mind so how about he shows him.
Balor punched Corbin in the face, McIntyre put Cena down then Claymored Balor and Cena.
Vince McMahon said he likes it and set a fatal Four-Way for the main event.
Jinder Mahal caught up with Vince McMahon backstage and said he was a little disappointed to not be included in the match. Vince McMahon said Mahal could pick any one of the Four-Way competitors and, if he beats them, he takes their place in the Four-Way. Mahal chose Balor.
Jinder Mahal vs Finn Balor started with Mahal and Samir Singh attacking Balor during his entrance posing and Mahal beating him up. Balor insisted he could continue, and Mahal went for the early finish. He didn’t get it so he continued the beatdown he started before the bell. Balor gradually fought back into it, took out a Singh Brother as a bonus, then threw Mahal out next to him and launched himself over the top onto both. It was a quick thing from that to the Coup de Grace which won Balor the match.
Drew McIntyre vs Finn Balor vs John Cena vs Baron Corbin got the last twenty minutes of the show. Cena looked like he was going to pin McIntyre in the first serious chance of the match, but Corbin broke that up. We got a tower of doom of sorts, but Corbin, who would have been at the top, managed to cling to the turnbuckle. McIntyre went up to get him back down, got hung up in the tree of woe, but sat himself up and yanked Corbin over his head to the mat. Cena came off the top rope at McIntyre, but got caught and powerbombed into the canvas.
Cena delivered an AA off the second turnbuckle to Balor, but Corbin threw him out of the ring before he could capitalise, and Corbin only got a two count on Balor. Corbin took Cena and McIntyre out with a chair then brought it into the ring and hit Balor with it repeatedly. John Cena barely made it in in time to stop the pin. Corbin went back to the chair but missed and took an AA from Cena. Cena took a Claymore from McIntyre, then Balor dropped McIntyre with a DDT and went up for the Coup de Grace. Balor got the Coup de Grace on John Cena and secured the win.
After the match, John Cena told Balor that when Vince McMahon said he didn’t believe in Balor, Balor said the people believe in him. For what it’s worth, he now has one more believer. Cena announced Balor as the title challenger to end the show.
» Ronda Rousey and Sasha Banks vs Nia Jax and Tamina was the first match of the night. Banks and Jax started thing off but Banks tagged out when she’d started to get the better of Jax. Nia Jax powered Rousey into their corner and Tamina tagged in. Less than a minute later Jax had to rescue Tamina from an armbar by pulling her out of the ring. Tamina was reluctant to get back in the ring. Tamina help Jax take control during a break and Sasha Banks took a bunch of punishment the way Sasha Banks does. Tamina knocked Rousey off the apron, Rousey got into the ring and diverted the ref’s attention, but Jax and Tamina didn’t take the opportunity to double team Banks. Instead, Banks got a few moments of recovery time. She jumped over Tamina’s oncoming charge which meant Tamina knocked Jax off the apron, then rolled her into the Bank Statement. Tamina tapped.
Charlie Caruso spoke to them after the match. Rousey said it was easy to trust each other because they respect each other. It was an honour to tag with her and it will be an honour to defend the title against her at Royal Rumble. A victory over Sasha Banks will be her greatest achievement as RAW women’s champion. Banks got irate and said she’s glad Rousey has already decided where she ranks on her list of accomplishments as champion. Rousey said that’s not what she meant. The greatest respect she can show her is to try her best to tap her out at Royal Rumble. Banks asked if Rousey thinks she’s the only one who can tap people out. It will be her pleasure to teach her how to lose with class. Rousey told her she can teach by example and Banks can keep the title of world’s classiest loser because she doesn’t want it. It devolved into an argument and Banks told her she’s not scared of her. Banks walked away and Rousey followed and kept trying to placate her. Rousey looked very frustrated when Banks walked away again.
Backstage, Banks and Rousey were screaming at each other and being held apart by Bayley and Natalya. After they sent Banks and Rousey off in opposite directions, they started arguing about it themselves. The Riott Squad interrupted, there were insults and some sniping, then Ruby Riott challenged Natalya and Bayley to find a partner and face them.
» Natalya, Bayley, and Nikki Cross vs The Riott Squad – Nikki Cross was an interesting addition. We were told by commentary that the NXT call-ups will be appearing on both RAW and SmackDown Live before being allocated to one brand. Cross stated the match and the whole Riott Squad squared up to her. When Bayley and Natalya stepped up beside her Cross screamed ‘let Nikki play’ and started beating on all three Riott Squad members at once. Eventually, Bayley and Natalya had to even up the numbers, but Cross got Riott hung up in the ring skirt to show off one of her signature offensive moves. There was chaos, just as Cross likes it, and it was Nikki Cross’ neckbreaker, delivered with Liv Morgan’s legs on the top rope, which set Bayley up for the elbow drop that finished the match.
Lacey Evans was shown backstage.
» Dean Ambrose, in his pre-match promo, said he thinks he’s right all the time but it’s wrong that Rollins and Lashley got a match against him. It doesn’t matter though because no one is taking away his championship. Lio Rush, on behalf of Bobby Lashley, said Lashley is the Champion we need and he’s going to become Intercontinental Champion whether we like it or not. Rollins got a pre-match interview. He was asked if this felt like his last chance. He said it might be but he’s going to take it and kick Dean Ambrose teeth down his throat. He talked about Roman Reigns, and Ambrose’s unforgivable betrayal, then about Lashley’s impressive physique and performance. He still wants his title back.
Thanks to the Four-Way, Dean Ambrose vs Bobby Lashley vs Seth Rollins – Intercontinental Championship match – didn’t main event. Ambrose had the cheek to try to form an alliance with Rollins. Rollins threw him out of the ring instead. Ambrose also tried to ally himself with Lashley, that worked out a little better, for a while anyway. Rollins took a lot of punishment then fought his way back to the point of landing a suicide dive on both Ambrose and Lashley. As he went for a second, Lio Rush entered the ring. Rollins got caught by Lashley while he was chasing Rush and slammed to the floor. Ambrose got literally caught by Lashley as he launched himself off the apron and was suplexed to join Rollins. Ambrose and Rollins started working together naturally, old habits die hard. They exchanged a look, then went with it and took Lashley out together, first with kicks, then the steps. When Lashley was down, Rollins got back in the ring, waited for Ambrose to join him, and they went at it. Rollins almost got the pin from a falcon arrow, but Lio Rush broke it up. Lashley came back in time to almost take advantage of Rollins having put Ambrose down, but Ambrose kicked out. Rollins couldn’t capitalise on his splash on Lashley, but by the time Ambrose got rid of Rollins, Lashley was able to kick out. Lio Rush pulled the top rope down to tip Rollins out of the ring when he went for the Stomp. Bobby Lashley hit Ambrose with a spear and pinned him to become the new Intercontinental champion.
The Other Bits
» Lucha House Party vs The Revival happened. There were no Lucha House Rules, but The Revival still think there is a conspiracy to stop them winning. The match was given so much importance that there was a cut to Dasha Fuentes outside Vince McMahon’s office part way through and the update wasn’t even important. Gran Metalik took the pin after Dash Wilder knocked his foot off the ropes while Scott Dawson was pinning him.
» For no fathomable or justifiable reason, they had the guy who delivered Alexa Bliss’ coffee catch her changing so she had to hold a shirt over her chest while she yelled at him. Have we gone back to the worst of the ’90s? In the Moment of Bliss segment Bliss announced she had the scoop on the Women’s Tag Team Championships. They will be competed for by three teams from RAW and three teams from SmackDown inside the Elimination Chamber. She also unveiled the belts. I really like them, some won’t – See the SteelChair news item, including pictures, here.
Paul Heyman introduced himself and told Bliss to throw him her best questions. She asked what his emotions were with everything going on tonight. He said emotions play no part in it. It’s his strategy that practically guarantees Lesnar will retain. Heyman went through the contenders speculating on who would win the four-way. He said the foundation of Suplex City was built of the mangled carcass of John Cena, called McIntyre a future Universal Champion but not now,
He’d got as far as Baron Corbin when Otis Dozovic (from Heavy Machinery) appeared onstage. Dozovic was rambling a bit, something about pretty ladies, then Tucker Knight (his tag partner) arrived and dragged him offstage with a couple of officials.
We never got to find out what Heyman thought of Balor, or the rest of his thoughts on Corbin, because the bell went to announce the Four-Way and Bliss and Heyman quietly left the stage.
Overall, a decent RAW. An Intercontinental Championship change, the unveiling of the Women’s Tag Team Championship belts, and a major alteration to the Royal Rumble title match. And Nikki Cross. There was some fluff and some nonsense as well, but Royal Rumble is shaping up to be a really very good PPV.