WWE Raw Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from January 14
The January 14 episode of WWE Raw represented the first of a new era.
The pace of the show, the interview cut-ins and the scatterbrained-ness of the presentation represented a change from the rather formulaic broadcasts that had grown boring and stale.
The introduction of new titles and a new champion, the arrival of fresh faces and the crowning of a new No. 1 contender to Brock Lesnar's Universal Championship only added to the overall newness of the broadcast.
Not everything was good, not everything worked, but it was a show that was a hell of a lot more entertaining than the one-dimensional shows that ended 2018 with a thud.
Relive matches, moments and segments of Monday's broadcast with this recap.
Braun Strowman Kicks off Raw, Ticks off Vince McMahon
Braun Strowman kicked off this week's show and discussed his upcoming Universal Championship match against Brock Lesnar, during which he evoked the name of Baron Corbin.
The former interim Raw general manager made his presence felt and wasted little time playing mind games with The Monster Among Men, insinuating that Strowman is incapable of beating Lesnar. Corbin, on the other hand, will win the Royal Rumble and go somewhere Braun never will: the main event of WrestleMania 35.
Strowman chased Corbin backstage, ran over The Singh Brothers and heeded the advice of Elias, who sang the whereabouts of his target.
When The Monster attacked the nearby limo driver and sent him flying over the hood of the vehicle, Corbin escaped, and an enraged Vince McMahon emerged from inside. He stared down Strowman heading into the break.
After the break, McMahon announced that, because of his actions, The Monster had been thrown out of the Universal Championship match at Royal Rumble. An infuriated Strowman flipped over the limo.
Even without the power he once yielded, Corbin is still sticking it to Strowman and potentially costing him a championship opportunity.
That Strowman was so gullible to buy into his antagonizing, one has to wonder how fans are truly supposed to pour their support into his character when he is booked so poorly.
The announcement he has been removed from the championship encounter against Lesnar is a game-changer and leaves fans to wonder who The Beast Incarnate will defend against on January 27. More importantly, it creates doubts that management will ever pull the proverbial trigger on Strowman.
Even with the big announcement, this was a show-opening segment aimed at convincing fans to stay tuned that did not feel nearly as hot as it should have been.
Ronda Rousey and Sasha Banks vs. Nia Jax and Tamina Snuka
A week after Sasha Banks defeated Nia Jax to earn a championship opportunity against Ronda Rousey at Royal Rumble, The Legit Boss would be forced to set aside her differences with Rowdy in order to defeat Jax and Tamina Snuka in a high-profile tag team match to kick off this week's in-ring portion.
Heading into the commercial break, Rousey established her dominance and even taunted Snuka from inside the squared circle.
Banks soon found herself cut off from the Raw women's champion, though, and at the mercy of her larger and more powerful opponents. Showing great resiliency, she overcame the disadvantage and capitalized on a miscommunication spot from her opponents to tap out Snuka to the Bank Statement.
After the match, a war of words escalated from friendly to contentious, and Banks stomped out of the arena, unwilling to listen to the pleas of her partner/upcoming opponent.
Banks and Rousey defeated Snuka and Jax
Banks was strong here, overcoming the beating and scoring a big win.
The booking felt disjointed, though.
The team won the match and then began bickering with each other in a promo that did nothing to make anyone want to see the upcoming title bout any more or less. It felt like wasted time that could have been given to a match that was interrupted by a commercial break and a movie promo.
Lucha House Party vs. The Revival
Frustration has defined The Revival for the last two weeks, the team's losses to Bobby Roode and Chad Gable chalked up to "conspiracies."
Monday, Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder had the opportunity to right the proverbial ship as they battled Lucha House Party's Kalisto and Gran Metalik.
With the Raw tag teams watching on from backstage, all vying for championship opportunities, Dawson and Wilder overcame the speed and agility advantage of the opposition to win in less-than-admirable fashion.
At the last minute, Wilder pushed Metalik's foot off the bottom rope, ensuring the heels netted the much-needed win.
The Revival defeated Lucha House Party
The parade of average this Monday night continued here with The Revival scoring a win over Lucha House Party by using the screwjob against Kalisto and Gran Metalik. It was a clever finish that demonstrates The Top Guys are willing to stoop to any lows to win, but if controversy reigns against them, they cry foul.
That is the sign of a great old-school heel act, which is of no great surprise given The Revival's respect for all things traditional.
The match itself, though, was uneventful and did nothing to jump-start a stagnant Raw tag division.
Vince McMahon Addresses the Universal Championship
Superstars looking to get Vince McMahon's attention, in typical pro-wrestling style, interrupted the chairman's attempt to address the WWE Universe.
John Cena was out first, touting the years of service to the company, his history of not letting down the owner and his never-ending supply of ruthless aggression.
Drew McIntyre took exception, telling McMahon he is what ruthless aggression looks like in this era.
Baron Corbin, citing the incident from earlier in the night, vaguely threatened a lawsuit if he was not given a championship opportunity.
Finally, Finn Balor appeared. He said he is one thing none of them are: a former universal champion. McMahon doubted him, claiming he did not have the "beef" to go to war with the likes of Corbin, Cena, McIntyre or Brock Lesnar and emerge victoriously.
The segment ended with McIntyre laying out Cena and Balor, Corbin escaping and McMahon announcing a Fatal 4-Way for the main event.
This segment set up Balor to win the match and challenge Lesnar at Royal Rumble in spectacular fashion, if that is the creative direction the company takes.
Positioning him as the underdog who seemingly has no shot against his opponents Monday night, let alone the monstrous Lesnar, only to have him emerge with a title opportunity in his possession is a story the company has told before with the likes of Rey Mysterio and Eddie Guerrero.
When a Superstar is as popular and beloved as those two, and even Balor, it is a story that always works.
If ever there was a time to strike while the iron is hot, it is now.
McIntyre looked strong here, taking advantage of openings to lay out the babyfaces and continue establishing himself as a threat to anyone in his path.
Nikki Cross, Natalya and Bayley vs. The Riott Squad
Nikki Cross made her Raw debut this week, teaming with Natalya and Bayley to battle The Riott Squad.
Michael Cole noted prior to the match that Cross is not necessarily a Raw fixture going forward, as all new Superstars will appear on both brands.
The Scot was spotlighted heading into the break, unloading on her opponents.
Following the formula of the match earlier in the night, the heels isolated Bayley after the break and spent the middle portion of the bout wearing her down until a hot tag to Natalya turned the tide in the babyfaces' favor.
Eventually, Cross entered the match legally and took the fight to Liv Morgan, Ruby Riott and Sarah Logan. After systematically disposing of the heels, the debutante delivered a big neckbreaker to Morgan and set her up for a big elbow drop from Bayley, who scored the win.
Bayley, Natalya and Cross defeated The Riott Squad
Cross looked really strong here. Why she couldn't score the win for her team is a question best left to the creative geniuses behind the show. With that said, it was nice to see Bayley pick up a win, even if it comes at the expense of a trio that could use a little momentum of its own.
Unfortunately, matches like these mean nothing in the long run as long as there are no compelling storylines surrounding them. As they are, they are showcases for six women with no real trajectory or upward momentum to speak of and a major indictment of a writing team that owes the talent more.
Finn Balor vs. Jinder Mahal
In order to compete in the main event Fatal 4-Way match to determine Brock Lesnar's Royal Rumble opponent, Finn Balor would first have to defeat former WWE champion Jinder Mahal.
He was up to the task, as has been just about every Superstar on the Raw brand not named Curt Hawkins.
Mahal capitalized on an overzealous Balor, dropping him on the ring apron ahead of the break. He proceeded to control the match until The Extraordinary Man mounted a babyface comeback.
Balor wiped out Sunil and Samir Singh before finishing off Mahal with the Slingblade, the corner dropkick and the Coup de Grace.
Balor defeated Mahal
This was an extended squash for Balor, and that is all it needed to be.
The former universal champion overcame the obstacle and advanced to the night's main event on a show that is shaping up to be one of the pivotal ones in his main roster career.
Triple Threat Match for the Intercontinental Championship
The Intercontinental Championship was up for grabs Monday night in a Triple Threat match that brought two rivalries together in one explosive bout.
The unstoppable force that has become "The Almighty" Bobby Lashley forced champion Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins to set aside their red-hot grudge and work together to thwart his ferocity and power. They used the steel ring steps on him before returning their attention to each other.
Late in the action-packed match that gained chants of "this is awesome" from the fans, Rollins was rolling. That is, until Lio Rush interjected himself in the match. The momentary distraction took The Architect out of the equation and allowed a recovered Lashley to blast Ambrose, score the win and the title.
Lashley defeated Ambrose and Rollins to win the Intercontinental Championship
The storytelling here was really solid, as Ambrose and Rollins recognized the threat that was Lashley and had to set aside their differences if there was any shot at all of winning. And even when they proved capable of momentarily neutralizing The Almighty, they could not stop fighting long enough to account for Rush, who proved to be the X-factor.
Lashley winning the match was a smart move in that neither Rollins nor Ambrose needs the IC title. It does nothing to elevate their stars or add to their legacies at this point. Their opponent, though, garners that bit of legitimacy and credibility he has needed since his return to the company.
More importantly, it gives a main event-quality Superstar a title he can defend in meaningful midcard matches rather than it being a prop for two elite guys to trade in matches that do nothing to benefit the midcard.
A Moment of Bliss
Alexa Bliss welcomed the WWE Universe to another edition of A Moment of Bliss and delivered a history-making announcement at the top of the show.
At Elimination Chamber, she revealed, the first WWE women's tag team champions will be crowned when three teams from Raw and three from SmackDown battle inside the titular structure. She even displayed the title belts, which were perched on a pedestal.
She proceeded to introduce guest Paul Heyman, but before the advocate for Brock Lesnar could really discuss any of the developments regarding his client's Royal Rumble opponent, Heavy Machinery's Otis Dozovic appeared and awkwardly...lusted(?)...after the newly revealed titles.
Eventually, Tucker Knight dragged him backstage as the segment came to an abrupt end.
This was the most scatter-brained segment on Raw in a long, long time.
The announcement of the tag titles alone would have been fine. Heyman putting Drew McIntyre over would have been enough. Everyone could have done without whatever the Dozovic stuff was. But together? It was a scrambled mess of unrelated stories and segments.
It was far too random for random's sake and fits with the backstage segment from earlier in the night where a production assistant walked in on a topless Bliss.
What is this? 1998?
Fatal 4-Way No. 1 Contender's Match
As made earlier in the night by Vince McMahon, Finn Balor, John Cena, Drew McIntyre and Baron Corbin battled in a Fatal 4-Way match to determine who would challenge Brock Lesnar for the Universal Championship at Royal Rumble.
A wild, chaotic match highlighted each of its four competitors appropriately until Corbin and a steel chair wreaked havoc late.
The former acting Raw general manager unleashed a weapon-assisted attack on McIntyre, Cena and Balor before being knocked out of the ring and to the floor.
Cena and Balor paired off, and as he has done far more times than he will ever get credit for, The Champ put over the Irishman, succumbing to the Coup de Grace as Balor cashed his ticket to Royal Rumble.
After the match, the franchise of WWE put him over even further, labeling himself a believer of Balor.
Balor defeated McIntyre, Cena and Corbin
Balor's coronation came in the main event of a show that elevated his star to a level it had not seen since his initial push toward the Universal Championship in 2016.
He denounced McMahon's criticisms of him, passed the test of defeating Jinder Mahal and pinned the biggest star the industry has produced since the Attitude Era. Most importantly, he earned Cena's respect in a nice moment to close out the show.
McIntyre not being involved in the finish or even down the stretch, thanks to Corbin's chair attack, was the right move and helped him save heat. He will be a huge factor going forward, even if now is not his time to challenge for the title.
All things considered, this capped off an episode of Raw that was sometimes strong, sometimes sloppy but always kept the viewer's attention, even when things didn't hit.