WWE Raw Results: Biggest Winners, Losers and Moments from January 9
A Phenom. An Architect. A mammoth young Superstar with a knack for destruction.
They represent the biggest winners from Monday's episode of Raw, a show that continued WWE's build to the Royal Rumble on January 29 and featured some of the most focused booking the brand has seen in months.
From championship matches to storyline developments beyond "this guy beat that guy," the show did a much more effective and compelling job of setting up one of its marquee events.
That does not mean every Superstar benefited or even escaped unscathed.
There were losers.
A beloved Superstar still trying to find her way on the main roster despite a big upcoming title match and a wildly popular tag team act wandering aimlessly through the dark abyss of midcard uncertainty make up that portion of the roster.
Why did certain wrestlers fall on one side of the argument, and some on the other?
Take a look in this recap of Monday's broadcast.
Winner: Braun Strowman
The massive Superstar enjoyed another superb week from a creative standpoint as he waged war with Seth Rollins, continued his tear through the roster and had a monumental WrestleMania match foreshadowed later in the show.
Strowman kicked off his night by brawling with Rollins, interrupting the United States Championship match that started the show. From there, he wrestled one of the better matches of his career against The Architect but fought to a double count-out that protected both Superstars.
It was the brief cut to him watching a monitor during Undertaker's return and declaration for the Royal Rumble that raised eyebrows, though.
Could Strowman be in line for the biggest match of his career, a showdown with The Phenom at WrestleMania 33?
If what went down on Monday night is any indication, the answer is a resounding "yes." More importantly, it suggests the company is all-in with Strowman, who has consistently been on the receiving end of the best booking every Monday night since November.
Losers: The New Day
The New Day broke out in 2015, capturing the WWE Tag Team Championships and earning fan adulation for its over-the-top act. Booty-Os, unicorns and other nonsense followed, all the while elevating Big E, Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods to heights few imagined possible.
They became incredibly over, legitimate merchandise-movers and marketing assets. They also set a record for the longest tag title reign in WWE history.
Unfortunately, their loss to Cesaro and Sheamus at Roadblock: End of the Line not only cost them their titles, but also WWE Creative's attention.
No longer champions of the division, they have been left to wallow in mediocrity, the subjects of an uninspired feud with Titus O'Neil that has produced two dreadfully bad segments of television. Worse, there is no obvious endgame in sight, no conclusion that suggests the program is at all worth the time and energy.
How did a significant act like The New Day fall off so quickly, and how can it be revived before it is too late?
Here's hoping that the crack writing staff behind Raw can figure that out soon.
Winner: Seth Rollins
The Architect has struggled to find his footing as a babyface since August but showed flashes of brilliance Monday night.
Rollins was resilient and persistent in his attempt to ground Braun Strowman, throwing everything he had at the monster. In the process, he felt like a traditional babyface, not some spoiled former world champion who is upset because The Authority took away his support.
He was tough and gutsy and looked the part of a tenacious pit bull, a determined Superstar hellbent on knocking off the insurmountable giant.
He may not have succeeded, fighting the big man to a double count-out, but he enjoyed his most convincing night as a babyface since last August. For a guy figuring heavily into this year's WrestleMania plans, that is a huge step in the right direction.
The No. 1 contender to the Raw Women's Championship should have been able to build on her momentum from last week's show, where she became the first competitor to defeat Nia Jax in singles competition on the main roster.
Instead, she teamed with a hobbled Sasha Banks to battle Jax and titleholder Charlotte in tag team action...and was pinned cleanly.
Yes, she is regularly portrayed as a consummate underdog. Yes, it appears as though seeds are being planted for a match between Bayley and a jealous Banks, perhaps for WrestleMania.
Still, at some point, Bayley needs to rack up a couple of wins to earn credibility, or she will forever be viewed by main-roster fans as "just another woman," when she should be praised and celebrated for her uniqueness and ability to be a genuine hero for young girls in the audience.
Monday was yet another example of WWE's 50-50 booking hurting its talents rather than assisting them in becoming stars.
Winner: The Undertaker
The Undertaker returned to Raw Monday and announced his entry into the Royal Rumble.
That is not what earned him "winner" status this week.
No, what earned The Deadman that label was the continued change in demeanor fans have seen from him since his appearance on SmackDown just before Survivor Series.
A grizzled veteran almost dismayed by the current state of things, he stalked the squared circle Monday and did not hesitate to confront Stephanie McMahon, backing her into a corner and reminding her that no man or woman dares tell him where to go or what to do.
It was a threat from WWE's greatest phenomenon, a not-so-subtle warning to The Billion Dollar Princess and anyone else foolish enough to suggest that he should or should not do something.
It worked and will continue to work, as it suits the character of a legitimate badass who has been there, done that, walked through flames and will continue to do so until he is good and damn ready to leave.