Welcome to Fightful.com's live coverage & discussion for the first WWE Raw of 2019!
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!
Following Raw, remember to tune into the post-show podcast too. Link is below!
We begin this week's show with a graphic in tribute of 'Mean' Gene Okerlund before transitioning to a wild brawl between Seth Rollins and Bobby Lashley. A bunch of the talent is attempting to separate them but their fight spills out live regardless. This is chaos, and leads to Rollins diving off the ramp onto Lashley as the talent finally pulls them apart.
This seamlessly takes us to John Cena's RAW return as he takes a microphone in center ring. After welcoming us to the 'Road to WrestleMania,' Cena makes it clear that he won't be left out again this year. With that in mind, Cena announces his participation in this year's Royal Rumble match, hoping to earn his "golden ticket" to WrestleMania. In response to the news, Drew McIntyre arrives. 'The Scottish Psychopath' says that he's been waiting for this moment, as he doesn't care about Cena's "stupid hair" but instead, is only concerned with his in-ring accomplishments.
Drew credits Cena as the greatest of all time before citing his recent dominance and laying down a challenge. Cena says that this makes him sad, as he's heard the same thing from almost every superstar. So much so that he had to leave in order for his peers to 'come up with a new promo.' McIntyre says that the others are all talk while he's ready to prove it. As their apparent match seems set to start though, Lio Rush and Bobby Lashley emerge. Lio is very angry about Seth's actions and cancels the show until Rollins arrives, jumping Lashley before Dean Ambrose emerged for some heel help. This resulted in an all-out brawl including the arrival of Finn Balor, running Drew out of the ring and hitting a big dive on all involved.
Finn Balor, Seth Rollins and John Cena vs. Dean Ambrose, Drew McIntyre and Bobby Lashley
As you'd expect, we return to an impromptu six-man tag as well as the news that all of these men will be in the Royal Rumble match. After flurrying on Lashley, Cena brought in Finn who was quickly cut off in response. The heels were now in control, working Finn over with quick tags until Lashley eventually grounded him. Balor soon rallied, fighting to his feet before Lashley bullied him into the corner. Ambrose continued the attack, working Finn over in the corner and calling his trio a 'dream team.'
The overhead kick turned the tide regardless, allowing Balor to bring Cena in for his vintage hot tag as he run wild on Ambrose. This culminated in the AA but Drew had tagged himself in, scoring with The Glasgow Kiss for 2. Following the break, we return to see Cena in the midst of a comeback, dropkicking Ambrose to create some space. McIntyre halted that though, flooring Cena again and bringing Lashley in to continue the control. Bobby had some fun flexing and in the meantime, removed Seth from the apron but he then turned into an AA that reset the action.
Lashley made it to his corner first though, tagging in Ambrose who stopped Cena in his tracks with a sleeper hold. The action then moved to the outside, with Ambrose maintaining control by launching Cena into the steel steps. Following another break, Cena is still being controlled, once again fighting to his feet but having his eyes raked as Dean once again took Seth off the apron. A double clothesline shifted momentum nonetheless, with Cena tagging in Balor who cleaned house on the whole heel team. He even hit Coup De Grace but McIntyre cut him off, hitting Claymore to leave both men floored.
This resulted in Rollins and McIntyre meeting in center ring with Rollins flurrying big including a spectacular moonsault on Lashley and Ambrose. Falcon Arrow followed on Drew for 2 but McIntyre fired back before Cena's AA began a wild sequence of signature moves. In the end, Seth looked set to close the show but Drew evaded his frog-splash and brought in Dean. Within moments, Rollins had got the win regardless, countering Ambrose and hitting the stomp for 3.
Winner: Seth Rollins, Finn Balor and John Cena
Up on the big screen, Seth sees Triple H talking with Bayley and Sasha Banks and immediately heads to the back in response. We move directly to that spot too, with Rollins getting in Triple H's face to demand a shot at Ambrose tonight. Triple H gives him exactly that...in a Falls Count Anywhere match!
As advertised, we next move to Hulk Hogan's segment in tribute of 'Mean' Gene Okerlund but first, we see a flurry of tweets in tribute as well as a 10-bell salute. Hogan's music comes next and he's here boa and all. Following the traditional 'brother' opening, Hogan explains that he entered in character as that's simply how Gene would've wanted it. He credits Gene's love for entertaining before transitioning us to a beautiful video package that highlighted some of Okerlund's finest moments. This was unsurprisingly brilliant and everything you'd expect and hope for. Truly touching. Back to Hogan in-ring now as he spoke for everyone in sending love before paying homage with a throwback promo to complete the tribute.
RAW Tag Team Titles
Bobby Roode and Chad Gable (C) vs. The Revival
Before the first bell rings, we get a recap of their last title match as well as a short Revival promo about the integrity of tag team wrestling. To the action now, as Roode and Wilder get us started with a feeling out process early. The lumberjacks played a part immediately though, stopping Wilder from retreating and instead forcing him to bring in Dawson. Gable quickly greeted Dawson and flurried big before bringing in Roode for double back body drops. With The Revival on the outside, Gable hit his big assisted dive as the champs continued to control things in-ring. With a pull of the air, that had changed though, as Dawson cut Gable off in an instant.
We return from the break as that portion came to a close, with Gable bringing in Roode for a hot tag as he run wild on both challengers. The lumberjacks again played a key role, throwing Dawson back in for the AA Spinebuster for 2. The champions then stayed on top, with a German Suplex coming extremely close to keeping the belts around their waist but The Revival fired back, with Dash hitting a big splash for 2. An exchange of quick pin attempts came next as Dawson and Gable wrestled for position until Wilder intervened. Roode returned the favor though, turning Dawson's roll-up around to give Gable the pin while Scott's foot rested on the bottom rope. More controversy here.
Winner and Still Champions: Bobby Roode and Chad Gable
Following this, we move to the video packages promoting the upcoming arrivals of Lars Sullivan, Lacey Evans, Heavy Machinery, Nikki Cross and EC3.
Elias vs. Baron Corbin
Another match up now but first, the customary Elias pre-match concert. Elias explained that he weeped uncontrollably while pondering his fame and success, traveling the world with the universal truth that WWE stands for Walk With Elias. He claims that his 2018 has nothing on what's coming this year though, as he announces his entry into the 2019 Royal Rumble match. Elias then mocked Corbin's struggles before transitioning to a song about just that. Corbin halted him though, complimenting his own work as General Manager and demanding everyone's respect and admiration. Baron will also be entering the Rumble match.
Right to the match now as Elias unleashed some big chops before sending Corbin to the floor with a clothesline. A 'dive' off the top followed as Elias continued his attack on the outside. As we return from the break though, Corbin has turned the tide, forcing Elias over the top rope and pushing him into the barricade. Corbin's big clothesline kept him on top also, following up with some ground and pound before heading up top. Elias cut him off though, scoring with his high knee and making a strike-filled comeback too. The swinging neckbreaker came next but Corbin kicked out at 2. Using the referee to his advantage, Corbin evaded Elias and then closed the show, landing a right hand before hitting End of Days for the win.
Winner: Baron Corbin
Backstage now as Dean Ambrose discusses his dislike for 6-man tags before admitting that it hurts him to hurt Seth. He can't let Seth regain the Intercontinental Title though as if he does, "it's game over for all of us." No matter where he has to beat him, Dean plans on ending this tonight.
To the ring now as Braun Strowman is here, ready for his face to face meeting with Brock Lesnar. He grabs a microphone and soaks up the 'Get These Hands' chants before getting fired up and handing the microphone back. On the big screen, we see Paul Heyman and Brock Lesnar as 'The Advocate' mocks Braun's plans before claiming that a face to face would leave Brock without a Royal Rumble opponent. Heyman says that there's no reason to thank him but Braun verbally responds nonetheless, challenging Lesnar and daring him to meet him face to face. He claims that Brock is afraid of him and that if he came to the ring, Lesnar wouldn't make it to the Rumble.
Easily convinced, The Universal Champion ignores Heyman and heads to the ring. Initially circling Braun, Brock eventually opts to head backstage. First though, Strowman says that at the Rumble, he'll become new Universal Champion.
Jinder Mahal and Alicia Fox vs. Ember Moon and Apollo Crews
With the Singh Brothers and Alicia Fox by his side, Jinder Mahal mocked the crowd after demanding that they show tranquility. This brought out Ember Moon and Apollo Crews for a mixed tag match. Jinder immediately took control, bullying Apollo into the corner until Crews evaded him with some flashiness, scoring a crossbody for 2. He continued to flurry, dominating until Mahal brought Fox in. Moon greeted her with some explosive offense, almost immediately going up top and hitting The Eclipse for the win.
Winner: Ember Moon and Apollo Crews
Time for 'A Moment of Bliss' now as Alexa takes a seat on her set positioned on the ramp-way. Bliss mocks Orlando before demanding coffee and sending us to a video package all about Ronda Rousey. Following that, Bliss officially introduced her first guest. Ronda refused Alexa's attempt at a handshake but Bliss asked about Rousey's 2018 nonetheless. Ronda says that she wants to move forward, becoming a champion to be proud of and starting a feud with RAW's real Cinderella story, the division's unsung hero: Sasha Banks.
Bliss thought this description was for her but Nia Jax soon arrived regardless, demanding a rematch for her effort at TLC. Sasha was out next, saying that she's honored by Rousey's words and would love to face her for the RAW Women's Championship. Reason being, she'll be able to teach Ronda how to lose with dignity and class. Jax then threatened to break Banks' face before Sasha dropped a 'bitch' bomb and challenged Nia to a match. Jax initially took a seat instead but it seems that match is indeed up next.
Nia Jax (with Tamina) vs. Sasha Banks (with Bayley)
Sasha was evading Nia early and soon snatched a guillotine choke but Jax powered free, scoring a vertical suplex counter. Now in control, Jax bullied Sasha around while in the meantime, Tamina got the better of a ringside brawl with Bayley. Nia then impressively carried Banks around the outside before dropping her heavily on the barricade. Sasha made it in before the count-out finish but ate a power-bomb for her troubles, kicking out at 2. Back from the break and Nia is still on top until Sasha made a comeback, hitting some signature offense including two knees for false finishes.
The Meteora came next for another 2 as Sasha then shifted approach, applying The Bank Statement before avoiding Jax's punch in response. Nia soon regained control regardless, scoring with The Samoan Drop and forcing Banks to barely get her foot on the bottom rope. Jax then headed up to the middle rope, seemingly thinking Super Samoan Drop until Sasha escaped and then got herself back in trouble anyway, violently landing face first on the top rope. Banks avoided the follow-up leg drop though, fighting back and making a comeback after Bayley halted Tamina's plans for interference.
This comeback included a nasty looking move that left both women landing face-first on the outside before Banks returned inside the ropes and applied The Bank Statement for the win.
Winner: Sasha Banks
Falls Count Anywhere
Dean Ambrose (C) vs. Seth Rollins
Main event time now and as Dean makes his way to the ring, Seth jumps him from behind, chasing him around ringside and forcing him into the crowd. Ambrose was simply looking to escape here but Rollins tracked him down backstage, using a range of weaponry to continue his assault. Dean's evasive tactics continued until he finally turned the tide, avoiding Seth's powerbomb plans and lashing out with a counter of his own. An attack with the ladder came next but Seth stayed in it, kicking out at 2. As we return from the break, Ambrose and Rollins are fighting in the stands but in the meantime, we are shown that Seth has slammed Dean through the announce table.
Rollins hit a big dive next, continuing to dictate the brawl as he next landed some sharp punches before returning Dean to ringside. After continuing to scurry, Ambrose used a chair to assist him, flooring Rollins with the weapon for another false finish. In a flashback to this feud's origins, Ambrose next exposed the concrete floor, pulling up the ring mat and unleashing some ground and pound. However, Rollins countered, dropping Dean back-first on the floor and chasing him in-ring. Dean met him with a poke to the eye but Rollins returned the favor, hitting a superplex/buckle bomb combination out of nowhere.
A kick to the face followed and The Stomp too but as Seth went for the pin, Lashley pulled him to the floor for a violent assault on the outside. Bobby then returned Rollins inside the ring and left him laying with a Spear. Dean seized, crawling over to retain his Intercontinental Title.
Winner and Still Champion: Dean Ambrose
Post-match, Lio retrieved a table, passing it over to Bobby as the next part of their plan took shape. With a massive slam, Lashley sent Rollins through the table and with that, the first RAW of 2019 is complete.
Be sure to check out our post-show podcast at the link below!