This week, Raw opened up to a good, old-fashion backstage brawl and Bobby Lashley and Seth Rollins tried to tear each other’s throats out! Despite the efforts of the WWE’s famously inept security guards (and Curt Hawkins), they fought their way onto the ramp, which Seth knocked Lashley off of and then dived down onto him before they were finally separated. Undeterred by all of this, John Cena and that dead badger he keeps on his head came out to officially announce that he’ll be in the Royal Rumble; Drew McIntyre interrupted him, though, to let Cena know that he has his sights set on ending him. Cena, as always, laughs off Drew’s threats because he never takes any challenger seriously, but Lio Rush, Lashley, Rollins, Finn Balor, and Dean Ambrose all interrupted to lead us into the first match of the night.
Obviously, this was the now-traditional six-man tag team match; Cena, Balor, and Rollins largely controlled the early portion but Ambrose, Lashley, and McIntyre took over when Bobby slammed Finn and tagged in Dean, who put some heat on Finn. Balor eventually tagged in Cena, whose five moves of doom were shut down but a McIntyre headbutt; Drew continued to put the pressure on Cena and the heels traded tags until finally making the dramatic tag to Finn. After a bit of a finisher-fest, Rollins made the tag, crashed and burned on a Frog Splash attempt, but countered the Dirty Deeds into the Stomp for the win.
Hulk Hogan made a return to the WWE to pay tribute to “Mean” Gene Okerlund, which was guaranteed to keep the negativity off of Hogan’s back for a little while. Afterwards, Bobby Roode and Chad Gable out the Raw Tag Team Championships on the line against the Revival in a lumberjack tag team match. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one of them before; what a bizarre way to get all of the tag teams on the show…I guess it’s faster and easier than trying to come up with stories for them all. The lumberjacks didn’t really seem to factor into the match too much, though, and Gable managed to grab the win after a cradle but not without controversy as it appeared that Scott Dawson had a foot under the ropes so I guess the “conspiracy theory” storyline continues with the Revival. At least this time, unlike with Roman Reigns, there’s actually some basis for this storyline as it genuinely feels like the Revival are being screwed over.
Elias sang a bit of a song about all the success he had in 2018, which he declared would see him through to a Royal Rumble win, and ended up targeting Baron Corbin, who promptly came out to shut him up in a bit of a match. It seemed like a pretty standard match, with Elias building his momentum up and keeping Corbin at bay, but then Corbin randomly just threw the Drifter into the corner, hit the End of Days, and got the win. I guess it’s a good thing that Baron is getting a win and building some kind of legitimacy but that seemed like a very flat ending; maybe a disqualification would have been better?
Braun Strowman made his way to the ring to confront Brock Lesnar and was met only by Paul Heyman and Lesnar on the TitanTron; Heyman questioned whether Strowman would be fit enough to compete at Royal Rumble but Braun dared Lesnar to face him right then and there which…actually worked, as Lesnar came out for a bit of a stare down to end what was largely a pointless segment but, hey, at least the Universal Champion was actually on television for a change.
Apollo Crews and Ember Moon then teamed up against Jinder Mahal and Alicia Fox; I still find it astounding that Jinder has ended up simply being the intergender tag team guy, what other former WWE Champion cane make that claim? Anyway, the faces got the win after Ember hit the Eclipse on Alicia.
After a bit of rowdiness during Alexa Bliss’s new talk show segment, Sasha Banks took on Nia Jax, which largely saw Nia dominating due to Tamina’s interference. I love how they have made the threat of Nia simply punching an opponent in the face something to be feared, as though she may break something or end someone’s career simply because of one mistake. After a weird botch off a Hurricanrana, Sasha managed to lock in the Banks Statement and get the win, continuing to throw dirt on top of the Nia Jax experiment.
Raw finished up with a falls count anywhere match for the Intercontinental Championship as Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins went at it one more time; they kept things on the outside in the early stages, fighting over the barricade and over near some equipment, before Seth started attacking Dean with a shovel. Dean managed to avoid and drop a ladder on top of Seth for a two count before they ended up brawling into the crowd and back to ringside; Dean hit Seth with a chair for another two count and then pulled up the ringside padding and tried for a Dirty Deeds onto the concrete but Seth countered it with a brutal Back Body Drop. Somehow, they both made it back into the ring, where Seth hit the Superplex, effortlessly rolled through into the Buckle Bomb, hit a Superkick, and landed the Stomp but Lashley interrupted the count and hit the Spear, which allowed Dean to crawl over for the win. After the match, Lashley put Seth through a table; so I guess this, and this entire show, has officially shifted Rollins away from Ambrose and towards Lashley for the foreseeable future?
Daniel Bryan kicked things off to lecture the audience, and the millions watching at home, about their consumer choices, criticising them for eating crap and buying pointless merchandise. R-Truth, of all people, attacked him, which led into the first match of the night. R-Truth even seemed like he was going to win it after a Suplex into a Stunner of sorts but Bryan shut him down with the Running Knee. Afterwards, AJ Styles attacked Bryan as he made his way up the ramp.
Cruiserweights united next as Rey Mysterio and Mustafa Ali teamed up against Samoa Joe and Andrade “Cien” Almas. You’d think this match was a foregone conclusion but Mustafa is the new hot prospect and Rey sells merch so they held their own quite well; Rey even countered Almas with the Canadian Destroyer, of all things! However, while Ali took out Joe on the outside, Almas countered the 619 and hit the Hammerlock DDT for the win (the first in a long while for him, I believe).
Rusev popped out to air his grievances with Shinsuke Nakamura; Nakamura, however, countered his argument and said that Lana got hurt because of Rusev (it’s funny how a lot of Rusev’s feuds involve people blaming him for Lana getting hurt or involved,…) so Rusev ran backstage for a bit of a punch-up.
Afterwards, the Bar and the Usos went at it, with the stipulation that, if the Usos win, they get a title shot…great, just when I think we’re going to see new teams getting title shots. Luckily, a distraction from Mandy Rose was enough to allow Cesaro to hit the Neautraliser and get the win but, thank God, the Miz challenges the Bar to face him and Shane McMahon for the belts at Royal Rumble and the Bar…accept! I bet Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson are even happier to have left Japan now…
A similar match followed, a triple threat between Becky Lynch, Carmella, and Charlotte Flair to see who will face Asuka (I genuinely forgot that she was even holding the belt…) at Royal Rumble. Slightly less shenanigans in this match, though, but, similar to AJ’s win last week/the other week, this was all smoke and mirrors to get Becky back in the title hunt as the number one contender as she won after forcing Carmella to tap out.