WWE Raw Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from January 28
Just 24 hours after an explosive Royal Rumble pay-per-view event that gave fans a taste of things to come on this Road to WrestleMania, WWE Raw hit the USA Network airwaves with momentum on its side and plenty of intrigue surrounding possible matches and storyline developments.
Seth Rollins won the men's Royal Rumble match and would address the WWE Universe regarding his choice of champions for The Showcase of the Immortals.
Ronda Rousey was on the heels of a physically intense match against Sasha Banks and without an opponent for the immediate future.
Would anyone step up to The Baddest Woman on the Planet and issue a challenge for a title bout, or would Becky Lynch, winner of the 2019 women's Rumble make her WrestleMania intentions clear?
Find out the answers to those questions and more with this recap of the January 28 episode of WWE's flagship show.
Seth Rollins Opens WWE Raw
Seth Rollins kicked off the first episode of Raw on The Road to WrestleMania, celebrating his Royal Rumble victory and drawing a huge pop in the process.
The Architect pointed to the WrestleMania sign and admitted his decision regarding whom to challenge at the show is a tough one that will take him some time.
WWE chief operating officer Triple H interrupted and got emotional as he addressed his former chosen one. He understands the complexity of the decision, he said, but he needs an answer by the end of the night because the machine keeps moving.
Chants of "slay The Beast" poured from the stands, fans making their preference for a Rollins-Brock Lesnar match felt.
Before Rollins could officially announce his decision, Dean Ambrose interrupted and demanded a match against The Architect.
The promo segment may have been another thinly veiled, lazy attempt by WWE Creative to book a match, but it also created a cliffhanger that will keep fans invested in the show until later in the night.
While it is a foregone conclusion that Rollins targets Lesnar for a WrestleMania showdown, it is a rare attempt by the writing team to keep fans around for the end of the show rather than just running down matches they may or may not care about.
Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose
Rollins overwhelmed and frustrated Ambrose early, taking the fight to his former tag team partner before a powerbomb from the apron to the floor, but The Lunatic Fringe fought out and sent The Architect into the ring post.
Ambrose worked over his former Shield teammate, grounding him with an STF. He proceeded to cut off any attempt at a comeback, blocking a Sling Blade to retain control of the match. A fired-up Rollins fought back, delivering a suicide dive and flattening The Lunatic with a Falcon Arrow.
A missed frog splash from Rollins created an opening for Ambrose. The former intercontinental champion tried Dirty Deeds, but The Architect fought out.
The ripcord knee, a buckle powerbomb and the Stomp finished off Ambrose as Rollins continued to roll.
Rollins defeated Ambrose
Ambrose and Rollins have their best matches when they go out and do their thing without trying to get too cute or clever. When they try too desperately to shoehorn cutesy spots or storyline developments into their bouts, they become bloated and uninteresting.
This was a strong match that gave Rollins the feud-ending victory and allowed him to continue building momentum ahead of his WrestleMania match.
Afterward, he announced he would reveal his WrestleMania opponent later in the show, continuing the cliffhanger from the opening promo.
Women's Tag Team Championship Elimination Chamber Qualifying Match
The first qualifier for the Women's Tag Team Championship Elimination Chamber match occurred Monday as Nia Jax and Tamina Snuka battled Alexa Bliss and Mickie James.
Before the match, a frustrated Dean Ambrose was sitting in the ring when he came face-to-face with Jax, who mocked him and knocked him out of the ring.
Tamina and Jax worked over the smaller Bliss, isolating the former Raw women's champion from her partner. They beat her down, using their size and strength advantage to wear down the previously injured Little Miss Bliss.
James finally made the hot tag and took the fight to the opposition but found herself overpowered by Jax.
The Irresistible Force hoisted both James and Bliss on her shoulders and delivered a Samoan Drop to cash her and Tamina's ticket to Elimination Chamber on February 17 and a shot at history.
Jax and Tamina defeated James and Bliss
Jax as an antagonist to both men and women alike is an interesting storyline and a bridge to intergender wrestling, if WWE is looking to head in that direction.
Her and Tamina going over Bliss and James was the right call and gives the championship bout at Elimination Chamber a duo of bruisers who can punish and pummel the opposition.
More importantly, it creates the possibility that a babyface team has to overcome them to capture championship gold and make history, a story that always sucks in viewers.
Kurt Angle vs. Baron Corbin
Two months ago, Kurt Angle was scheduled to battle interim Raw general manager Baron Corbin in singles competition before the corrupt authority figure replaced himself with Drew McIntyre, who punished and humiliated the Hall of Famer.
Monday, The Olympic Hero finally got his hands on The Lone Wolf.
Corbin controlled the majority of the match, grounding Angle and working him over with basic rest holds.
Angle fought back, fired up and delivered an Angle Slam, but he was unable to put away his opponent. He pulled down his straps and prepared for an ankle lock, but Corbin escaped and delivered Deep Six for the pinfall victory.
After the match, Corbin delivered End of Days, leaving Angle lying in a heap to end the segment as the commentary team questioned whether they had just witnessed the swan song for The Olympic Hero.
Corbin defeated Angle
Angle is one of the greatest wrestlers in the history of the sport, a performer whose list of extraordinary in-ring performances is a mile long. He is a Hall of Famer in both WWE and TNA Wrestling and deserves every honor he has received.
His in-ring career should be over, as evidenced by another lackluster performance Monday on Raw.
The Olympic gold medalist struggled to keep up with Corbin, displaying great heart and desire but lacking the actual ability to match a Superstar in his athletic prime. That the announce team so matter-of-factly suggested we may have seen the end of Angle as an in-ring performer only serves as proof that his days as a worker may be coming to an end.
Angle deserves fans who remember his golden days rather than the matches where he limped around the ring, unable to muster the physicality needed to perform at a high level in today's WWE. He should, instead, enjoy the legacy he has made for himself.
Finn Balor Addresses the WWE Universe
Finn Balor made his way to the ring to a huge ovation, just one night after falling just short of dethroning universal champion Brock Lesnar.
The Extraordinary Man talked about his Royal Rumble defeat and, more importantly, how he made Lesnar believe. Intercontinental champion Bobby Lashley and mouthpiece Lio Rush, though, interrupted his promo.
Rush laughed off the possibility Balor could have beaten Lesnar. The Irishman responded by reminding the WWE Universe Lashley lasted, what, 12 seconds in the Royal Rumble match.
This earned Balor a beatdown, as Lashley and Rush continued building heat for their heel act.
Balor as the inspirational underdog is a good fit for him, but a rivalry with Lashley over a title he has routinely competed for over the last year is hardly what one would consider a worthwhile program for a guy who just came within seconds of winning the top prize on Raw.
Hopefully, this is not just an excuse to put over Lashley at the expense of Balor, who really should be riding a wave of momentum but instead feels like he is about to be lost in the shuffle again.
Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder vs. The Revival
The Revival sought revenge as it battled Zack Ryder and Curt Hawkins in a match set up by Long Island Iced Z's save of Hawkins a week ago.
The former Major Brothers would not prove much of a threat to The Revival's claim to tag team dominance, as Hawkins missed a blind tag and fell victim to Shatter Machine as The Top Guys picked up a much-needed victory.
The Revival defeated Ryder and Hawkins
For a relatively short match, this was all action.
The outcome, though, leaves one to wonder what the point of booking a Ryder-Hawkins reunion was when they were going to be beaten and have all of their momentum drained in a single match.
Yes, The Revival needed the win. No, Dash Wilder and Scott Dawson could not have withstood becoming the first Superstars to lose to Hawkins in an eternity, but Hawkins and Ryder should have been given a win or three to build their stature in the division before being so thoroughly defeated.
Jeff Jarrett and Road Dogg Interrupt Elias
Elias was in the ring one night after a Royal Rumble match that saw him enter at No. 1, only to be confronted by Hall of Famer Jeff Jarrett and eliminated by Seth Rollins.
Still somewhat sulking, Elias announced he no longer wanted to perform for the WWE Universe but, rather, for himself.
This brought out Jarrett, followed by "Road Dogg" Jesse James, whose history with Double J is well-known.
James ran through the D-Generation X catchphrases before joining Jarrett for a rendition of "With My Baby Tonight."
Elias blasted James with a guitar and attacked Jarrett. Just as it looked like the former intercontinental champion might muster some babyface fire, Elias broke his own guitar over his back.
The fans chanted "whoa, walk with Elias" as he stood tall over Jarrett's fallen body.
So...is Elias a heel? Or a babyface?
This was harmless fun, but it watered down what was a cool moment Sunday night at Royal Rumble and led to muddied waters in relation to Elias' character.
Nothing was really accomplished, with the exception of re-establishing Elias as a heel. If that was not the intention, what the hell was?
Women's Tag Team Championship Elimination Chamber Qualifying Match
The second Women's Tag Team Championship Elimination Chamber qualifying match of the night saw Natalya and Dana Brooke battle The Riott Squad's Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan.
The presence of Ruby Riott at ringside played heavily into the outcome of the bout.
Morgan and Logan beat down Brooke for most of the match before the former NXT standout tagged Natalya into the match. The Queen of Harts was rolling, trapping Morgan in a Sharpshooter. An alert Logan shoved Brooke into her own partner, breaking the hold.
Morgan would then score an upset win over the former women's champion to advance to Elimination Chamber.
A frustrated Natalya walked out on an apologetic Brooke.
The Riott Squad defeated Natalya and Dana Brooke
There was not much to this match, other than the same antics fans have come to expect from the vastly underrated Riott Squad.
Morgan and Logan winning made the most sense and sets up the duo as one of the favorites to win the tag titles, while the dissension demonstrated after the match by Natalya and Brooke hints at a potential program between them. That is the type of depth this women's division needs.
Raw Women's Championship Match: Ronda Rousey vs. Bayley
One night after a successful title defense in a hard-fought match against Sasha Banks, Raw women's champion Ronda Rousey hit the ring and discussed her first year in WWE. Her promo was disjointed at one point, as it appeared as though the fans' chants for Becky Lynch flustered her.
Eventually, Bayley answered her open challenge for a Raw Women's Championship match, a nice bit of continuity as Rousey wages war with the original Four Horsewomen of NXT.
Bayley reminded fans early and often she is a former champion and a fine professional wrestler, surprisingly dominating a Rousey still reeling from her hard-fought match with Banks one night earlier.
Nursing a bad knee, Rousey found herself on the defensive. She escaped a kneebar at one point but ended up on the receiving end of a Bayley-to-Belly suplex into the corner. Back from the commercial, Bayley delivered her top-rope elbow drop in honor of Randy Savage and applied her friend Banks' Bank Statement for a near submission.
Sensing her title was in jeopardy, Rousey mustered enough energy to slam Bayley off the top rope and apply her armbar submission for the win.
After the match, Becky Lynch interrupted the proceedings and announced she will challenge Rousey at WrestleMania 35. The Man accused the former UFC star of sweating her, reminding the fans that she never did come find her to prove once and for all who the baddest was.
Rousey insisted she wants the best Lynch at WrestleMania. Rowdy said while The Man was trying to make it in wrestling, she was dominating MMA. She added she will own Lynch at The Showcase of the Immortals.
Rousey defeated Bayley
The promo from Rousey at the onset of this overall package was ugly and demonstrated that, while Rowdy is damn good between the ropes and carries herself as a star, she still needs to find herself as a talker in a world of great promos.
With that said, her match with Bayley was fun and showcased the former NXT women's champion's abilities. One of the better wrestlers on the women's roster despite never really getting the opportunity to prove it, Bayley reminded audiences of why they fell in love with her in the first place.
Though she was unsuccessful in her bid to dethrone Rousey, she emerged better for it.
Lynch appearing was unexpected, and the intense verbal showdown between them was superb.
Lynch is a star. A legitimate, unbridled star waiting to break through in the stratosphere as the face of WWE in 2019. That comes at WrestleMania where, if the company knows what is good for it and wants to avoid a Roman Reigns situation, she will become the first Superstar to fell Rousey.
Braun Strowman vs. Drew McIntyre
One night after being the runner-up in the 2019 Royal Rumble match, Braun Strowman battled Drew McIntyre, seeking vengeance for a sickening beatdown a few months back that left him injured and unable to compete.
McIntyre sent Strowman into the barricade ahead of the break and wore down the big man in an attempt to quell his fury. The Monster Among Men fought back, though, and had The Scottish Psychopath reeling before Baron Corbin appeared from out of nowhere and blasted Strowman with a steel chair.
What proceeded was a beatdown of the big man reminiscent of that aforementioned assault from months earlier. Corbin and McIntyre brutalized Strowman, leaving him lying and creating questions as to whether even a massive Superstar like the once-unstoppable force can overcome the united front of McIntyre and Corbin.
Strowman defeated McIntyre via disqualification
All things considered, there are far worse things for Strowman, McIntyre and Corbin to be involved in, especially given the unfinished business between them.
There are some who will complain about McIntyre being aligned with Corbin when he should be running over fools en route to a sustained main event push, but at this point, it does not appear WWE officials know what they want to do with him.
Pairing him with a legitimate main event star like Strowman is hardly their worst idea.
Seth Rollins Makes His Decision
Before Seth Rollins could hit the ring to make his decision regarding the WrestleMania main event, Paul Heyman and universal champion Brock Lesnar beat him to the punch.
Heyman, ever the master of the mic, explained to Rollins that he really only had one choice: a wrestling clinic against Daniel Bryan for the WWE Championship because a showdown with Lesnar would be a lesson in brutality he is not ready for.
Rollins hit the ring and took the fight right to Lesnar, unfazed by The Beast.
That would be a mistake.
Lesnar obliterated Rollins time after time, hoisting him up for four straight F-5s. The Architect, ever defiant in the face of a ruthless rival, egged him on and ate another of the finishers as The Beast stood tall to close out the show.
This established Rollins as fearless and unshaken by the most physically imposing Superstar in WWE history. He was unafraid to march to the ring and deal the first blow to Lesnar. He dared the champion to continue punishing him. The Beast did and The Architect suffered.
Maybe that is the storyline the Superstars will follow come WrestleMania.
Rollins is a longtime friend of Roman Reigns, whose WrestleMania 31 classic with Lesnar featured him suckering The Beast into the ol' rope-a-dope before mounting a comeback. Maybe The Architect utilizes the same strategy en route to a second championship victory over Lesnar on the grand stage.
One thing is certain: Rollins faces an uphill battle, and the rivalry between him and Lesnar should be a fun one, especially if they can pack a punch from an intensity standpoint.