Welcome to Fightful.com's live coverage & discussion for tonight's episode of WWE Raw.
We'll be bringing you full, match by match coverage of every bout on the card and you can watch along with us, sending in your feedback on our Disqus boards below!
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We begin this week's show with a tribute for Martin Luther King Jr. before transitioning to the arena as Brock Lesnar made his way to the ring.
Paul Heyman is of course by his side and has a microphone in hand, introducing Lesnar as usual and then delving into Balor's triumph from last week. Heyman makes it clear that Balor's pinfall win over Cena was "no fluke" which is why fans are right to "believe in Finn Balor." Heyman even concedes that he himself believes in Balor, next transitioning to Sunday's match itself and pointing out Brock's lack of preparation time. However, Heyman promises that nonetheless, Lesnar will make Balor pay for the crowd's belief in him. "Spoiler alert: even miracles fear Brock Lesnar." Finally, Heyman claims that on Sunday, Lesnar will end the notion that Balor even belongs in the ring with him.
This brings out Mr. McMahon, arriving in trademark fashion and heading to the ring. McMahon initially sides with Heyman, next jokingly referencing the story of David and Goliath before dismissing Balor's chances once again. This included a brief moment of crowd mockery before suddenly, Braun Strowman emerged. After a somewhat distanced face to face with Lesnar, Strowman began to speak, calling last Monday "the worst night of his life." More than that though, last Monday was also "the luckiest night" of Lesnar's life too. Strowman makes it clear that provided Lesnar remains champion, he'll find a way to get a shot at him regardless.
Finn Balor was out next, reminding everyone of his recent win before speaking directly to McMahon. He made it clear that regardless of what McMahon thinks, Balor believes that at Royal Rumble, he'll reclaim his Universal Title. Strowman is unsure of this which results in Balor firing back with a retort of his own. Balor then corrected McMahon's memory of David and Goliath which encouraged McMahon to book Balor vs. Strowman for right now. He also invites Lesnar to watch on from ringside.
Braun Strowman vs. Finn Balor
We return from a break with the action already underway, as Balor flurries on Strowman with strikes. Braun soon stopped him in his tracks though, battering Balor to the mat and taking control. Strowman then followed Finn to the outside, shoulder tackling him against the barricade and then returning things to the ring. He continued to dominate too, eventually grabbing a hold as Balor steadily fought to his feet. Strowman cut him off though, next looking to repeat his earlier attack but instead running into a slingblade on the outside. Balor was now in the midst of a comeback, landing a salvo of strikes before applying a sleeper-hold also.
A double foot stomp came next and Balor then headed up top, being pushed to the outside by Strowman and landing in the arms of Lesnar who launched him with a belly to belly suplex on the floor. As Brock and Braun looked set to go head to head though, Balor yanked Lesnar off the apron and then hit a huge dive to floor him too. His momentum wasn't stopping yet either, running wild on both Lesnar and Strowman including a front dropkick that sent Brock flying into the barricade. Back in-ring, Balor evaded Strowman and then seized, landing Coup De Grace before Lesnar cut him off, hitting an F5 to cause the DQ finish.
Winner via Disqualification: Finn Balor
The new Intercontinental Champion Bobby Lashley is here next, making his way to the ring with Lio Rush by his side. Rush (with the title now over his shoulder) claims that Lashley is better than every single person in the locker room. However, Bobby isn't here for an open challenge as he's a professional fighter that does this for the money. Instead, Rush makes it clear that they are here to celebrate, with Lashley standing atop a podium while Rush puts the title around his waist. In response, Apollo Crews arrived, congratulating Lashley on his win before claiming that the people want to see him compete.
Crews says that he doesn't need a championship match but is happy to simply take Lashley on. Rush scoffs at this, challenging Crews to a pose-off against Lashley that with a win, would earn him his match. Eventually, Crews agrees but the crowd boos as Lashley poses before cheering Crews' less serious approach. This continues to go back and forth, with Rush increasingly frustrated at the crowd until Bobby lashed out, attacking Apollo before being removed from the ring. Apollo then sent Rush behind him, launching Lio onto Lashley as he stood outside the ring.
Bobby Lashley vs. Apollo Crews
Following this, the match is indeed underway with Lashley immediately taking control and roughing Crews up in the corner. Apollo fired back though, scoring with a salvo of strikes and using some acrobatics before attempting a quite terrifying gorilla press slam. On the 2nd attempt, Crews had more success but was soon distracted by Rush, bringing him in the ring and attempting another gorilla press before being speared mid-move, as Lashley scored the sudden win.
Winner: Bobby Lashley
Post-match, Seth Rollins is here, passing Lashley as he made his way to the ring for a match with Drew McIntyre. First though, Rollins has a microphone in hand and pays tribute to Dr. King before citing a quote that in Seth's mind, currently relates to himself. Rollins points out that right now, he has no titles and a broken family but nonetheless, Seth still has what he loves and on Sunday, he'll win the Royal Rumble match. Rollins knows that this could maybe be considered a long-shot but that doesn't bother him as his whole career has been a long-shot. Though not the biggest or strongest, Rollins made it here because this is engrained in his soul and no matter who is in his way, Seth is headed to WrestleMania.
Drew McIntyre arrived soon enough and had a rebuttal too, refusing to let Seth lie to himself or these people. He claims that there's a "0%" chance of Rollins winning the rumble as his wild style just isn't made for success. However, that same passion also exists in McIntyre and that'll show on Sunday, as he wins the Royal Rumble and heads to WrestleMania.
Seth Rollins vs. Drew McIntyre
We return from the break as Rollins is already running wild, hitting a suicide dive and springboard clothesline for 2. He then sent back Drew to the floor, next heading up top only to miss an aerial attack as McIntyre evaded, sending Seth hard into the barricade. Back in-ring, Drew grounded Rollins, grabbing a hold and cutting off the comeback attempt that emerged in response. Instead, McIntyre launched Rollins into the corner and went to work with some chops and power moves too. Another hold then followed, with Rollins again failing to turn the tide as Drew stopped him in his tracks with a sharp kick to the chest.
He followed Seth to the outside also, next hitting an inverted Alabama Slam on the floor. Eventually, Rollins made a comeback nonetheless, landing a Slingblade as well as the Blockbuster for 2. A Hurricanrana counter came next, then followed by a sudden Falcon Arrow for yet another 2 count. However, McIntyre avoided Rollins' stomp and soon fired back, launching Seth off the top before running into a superkick for one more near-fall. With both men worn down, a strike exchange commenced, culminating in McIntyre's Glasgow Kiss as both men were left floored.
Drew was unsurprisingly up first though, next carrying Rollins up to the middle rope for a big slam before then hitting a huge sit-out powerbomb for 2. McIntyre failed to follow up also, being caught in a roll-up as Rollins scored the quick win.
Winner: Seth Rollins
Backstage, The Revival pleaded to Mr. McMahon for another title match, this time with a competent referee though. Luckily, Curt Hawkins then asked for a match which gave McMahon the perfect idea, making Hawkins the referee for Revival's upcoming match.
Staying out of the ring, Dean Ambrose responded to Seth Rollins, citing a Dr. King quote of his own before promising to come after both Rollins and Lashley in Sunday's Royal Rumble match. 2018 may not have been his year but Royal Rumble will make sure that 2019 definitely will be.
The Lucha House Party vs. Jinder Mahal and The Singh Brothers
Six-man tag match here as Jinder immediately overpowered Lince before the Singh's introduction allowed their foes back on top, flurrying with some tandem offense until Sunil Singh dispatched Kalisto to the floor. Mahal was now in again grabbing a hold and then bringing Sunil back in to the same. Either way, Kalisto eventually created some separation and made the tag, bringing in Metalik who run wild on all three of his foes. This resulted in a tilt-a-whirl slam that closed the show out of nowhere.
Winner: The Lucha House Party
Following this, we get another viewing of EC3 in the form of a vignette before heading backstage to a shot of Dana Brooke asking him questions. In the meantime, Elias walked past on his way to ringside.
Speaking of such, he was up next, taking center ring with his guitar in hand. Elias says that even after he wins the Royal Rumble, it's not going to be an easy ride but nonetheless, the truth that "WWE stands for: Walk With Elias" will guide him along the way. Either way, Elias has written a song and in fact, this may be his finest yet but instead, Baron Corbin cut him off. Corbin told the crowd to shut up too, reminding Elias of his actions last week. Corbin seemingly wanted a match but Elias reminded him that Baron's no longer the GM and so he'll play his song regardless. Elias even got Corbin's microphone cut off, next singing a new song all about Baron and his recent fate before Corbin rushed the ring and almost ate a guitar shot for his troubles. Their match will indeed happen next!
Elias vs. Baron Corbin
We join this match in the midst of an Elias flurry, walking the ropes and then chasing Corbin to the outside before being violently sent into the ring-post. Baron was now in control, landing some ground and pound as well as hit trademark lariat for 2. Elias soon fired back regardless, landing a big knee as well as a neckbreaker for a false finish of his own. An onslaught of punches came next but as the referee intervened, Corbin seized, landing a big right hand and then hitting End of Days for the win.
Winner: Baron Corbin
Another edition of 'A Moment of Bliss' is up next as Alexa takes a seat on her set. Bliss mentions Sunday's Rumble match before pointing to the big screen as a graphic reveals the announced female competitors. Alexa then introduced her guest for tonight: Nia Jax. Bliss asks which champion Jax would potentially choose but before she can answer, Ember Moon arrived and made her own claim that on Sunday, she'll win the Royal Rumble. Alicia Fox and Mickie James then did the same before Tamina, Nikki Cross, The Riott Squad and Dana Brooke also arrived. Alexa Bliss was enraged by this chaos, standing on her chair and asking the women to respect her reputation as "a legitimate talk show host." Instead, Jax incited a brawl and all the women fought backstage among themselves.
Back on the ramp, Alexa sarcastically called the women in Sunday's Rumble "passionate" and then announced that she'll also be competing in Sunday's Rumble match! Lacey Evans then arrived, snatching the microphone, dismissing Bliss' chances and calling her a "runt" before claiming that she'll be winning it instead.
Titus O'Neil is talking next, making his own Royal Rumble aspirations clear before being rudely interrupted.
The Ascension vs. Heavy Machinery
Otis immediately bullied Viktor into the corner, eating some strikes for his troubles but then slamming himself into control. A little tandem offense came next, with Tucker coming in and even hitting a crossbody of sorts for 2. Another double-team maneuver followed and then Otis' Caterpillar too. Tucker then returned and Heavy Machinery closed the show via Compactor.
Winner: Heavy Machinery
Special Guest Referee Match (Curt Hawkins)
RAW Tag Team Titles
The Revival vs. Bobby Roode and Chad Gable (C)
Gable and Wilder got us started here, exchanging holds until Hawkins' sharp officiating allowed The Revival to take control. Dawson was in now, flooring Gable with a violent European uppercut but soon paying the price as both of the challengers ran into Chad's cross-body. Gable's dive landed also, but Dawson managed to evade and immediately wiped him out in response. With a back suplex though, Gable created some separation, bringing in Roode who ran wild on Wilder and then Dawson too. This culminated in a AA Spinebuster but Dawson then interfered, almost allowing Dash to illegally score the win until Hawkins spotted the tactic and stopped his count.
This continued twice more, with Hawkins spotting The Revival's continued cheating which in turn, eventually led to Gable scoring a quick roll-up win.
Winners and Still Champions: Bobby Roode and Chad Gable
Post-match, Hawkins used the big screen to explain his choices but The Revival then made him pay, battering Hawkins until Zack Ryder made the save! Ryder cleared the ring and helped Hawkins to his feet.
Before tonight's main event, Ronda Rousey stopped for a quick interview. She concluded that she doesn't owe Sasha an apology as she's always been nothing but respectful towards Banks. Rousey then questioned Sasha's dedication to proving that she's the best, before heading to the ring.
Ronda Rousey and Natalya vs. Sasha Banks and Bayley
Banks grabbed a microphone before the first bell, running through her resume in response to Rousey's comments. She then promised to make Rousey tap out at Royal Rumble. This enraged Ronda but Natalya held her back before getting things started opposite Banks. First though, Sasha smartly removed Rousey from the apron and immediately grounded Natalya too. Bayley and Banks were in control, using some tandem offense until Ronda came in to swiftly remove both. The tide had very much turned too, with Natalya getting the better of Bayley before bringing in Rousey for a brief double-team.
Nonetheless, Bayley soon made the tag, with Banks coming in to flurry on Natalya before using quick tags to maintain control. Natalya soon fired back though, tagging in Rousey who walked into a backslide pin before being caught in The Bank Statement. This forced Natalya to break things up but Banks soon removed her anyway, next bringing in Bayley who was halted by an emphatic throw. A salvo of knee strikes came next but Bayley somehow came out in control regardless, tagging in Banks who was immediately caught in the armbar.
She scrambled to the ropes though, kicking herself free before eating some offense from the incoming Natalya. However, Bayley prevented the sharpshooter from closing the show, then removing Rousey from the apron. This allowed Sasha to grab The Bank Statement, forcing Natalya to submit.
Winners: Sasha Banks and Bayley
Post-match, Banks and Rousey went face to face and that was this week's RAW.
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