Welcome to Fightful.com's live coverage & discussion for tonight's episode of WWE Raw.
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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!