RAW opens with a stretch limousine, which can only mean one thing: Mr. McMahon is in the building.
Also in the building? “The Monster Among Men” Braun Strowman. In two weeks, he’s facing Brock Lesnar for the Universal Championship at the Royal Rumble pay-per-view. But tonight, he’s got some words for “The Beast”:
“You know he’ll never admit it, but Brock Lesnar has always been afraid of me.”
But now that Strowman’s all healed up, and Baron Corbin is no longer in power, Lesnar’s “biggest fear is about to come true.”
For some reason, Baron Corbin decides to come out, in all of his lack of authority. (Strowman even starts a sing-song “YOU GOT FIRED” chant.) But Corbin keeps talking trash about Strowman’s chances at the Royal Rumble, so Strowman chases him into the back. One of the Singh brothers gets launched when neither one of them can agree on which way Corbin went, and Strowman’s off to find Corbin.
Elias is also backstage, and he has a song about Corbin. Specifically, a song about where Corbin’s hiding. That brings Strowman back, and Elias lets him know what’s
After the commercial break, Strowman attempts to put the car door back on, to no avail. And Mr. McMahon is livid, saying it will cost Strowman $100,000… which Strowman says the car’s not even worth. As punishment for talking back though, Mr. McMahon takes Strowman out of the Royal Rumble Universal Championship match. And Strowman? Well, he flips over the limousine in response.
After that, Strowman is escorted out of the building, while Corbin just laughs and laughs.
Ronda Rousey & Sasha Banks def. Nia Jax & Tamina
You can read more about Ronda Rousey and Sasha Banks teaming up for the first time ever against Nia Jax and Tamina here.
WWE Superstars are backstage, waiting outside of Mr. McMahon’s office, hoping to ask for the opportunity to face Brock Lesnar for the Universal Championship at the Royal Rumble pay-per-view. Even WWE Hall of Famers apparently, as Jerry Lawler surprisingly comes out. (They are in Memphis, after all.)
After Bayley and Natalya get into an argument over Sasha Banks and Ronda Rousey, The Riott Squad chime in to “make a bad situation even worse.” They challenge Bayley, Natalya, and a partner of their choosing to a six-woman tag team match. Natalya accepts, without consulting Bayley.
The Revival (Scott Dawson & Dash Wilder) def. Lucha House Party (Kalisto & Gran Metalik)
Before the match, The Revival calls out the “Loser House Party” for allowing them to “get screwed” in their match last week. Now it’s time to pay the price for that injustice.
Dash Wilder starts off the match against Kalisto, mocking the “LUCHA” chants before being made a fool of with some good lucha things.
But during this match, Dasha Fuentes gives an update about the WWE Superstars lining up to get that opportunity at facing Brock Lesnar for the Universal Championship. There are quite a few Superstars in this line who definitely don’t deserve this opportunity—like Curt Hawkins, come on—but then there’s one person who actually makes sense standing outside Mr. McMahon’s office: a debuting (and silent) EC3.
All of this happens during the match, so in case you were keeping track of injustices toward The Revival, putting their match in picture-in-picture for half the time it’s even happening might count.
And then The Revival win when Scott Dawson pins Gran Metalik, with Dash Wilder getting revenge by removing Metalik’s leg from the bottom rope and getting even.
Post-match, we’re back to Dasha outside Mr. McMahon’s office. But he plans to make his announcement about the Brock Lesnar’s Royal Rumble opponent out in the center of the ring.
Once in the ring, Mr. McMahon doesn’t even get a sentence out before John Cena and his new hair interrupt him. “I’ll save you the time and the trouble,” Cena says about the whole announcement. Cena brings up people leaving Mr. McMahon “high and dry”—The Rock, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, and even Brock Lesnar—and Mr. McMahon looking for someone to step up. Years ago, that someone was John Cena, and he’s ready to step up again right now.
“Give me a chance, Vince. I will not let you down.”
That’s what he said back then, and that’s what he’s saying now. He promises to become a 17-time WWE Champion, though I’m not sure if it counts with the Universal Championship. He reminds Mr. McMahon he has something no other WWE Superstar has: RUTHLESS. AGGRESSION.
Actually, to that point, Drew McIntyre would beg to differ. “How dare you, Cena? How dare you?” He wants to know how Cena can still claim he has ruthless aggression because “this is what ruthless aggression looks like.” According to McIntyre, Cena’s time is up and his time is now. So Cena can leave, just like the rest of them.
Oh great, Baron Corbin is back and somewhat litigious. And now Finn Balor is here, and he reminds them he’s the only former Universal Champion in the building. But Vince McMahon decides to let Finn Balor know he doesn’t compare to “all this beef” in the ring. (He keeps saying “beef,” and it’s weird.) Balor says he knows Mr. McMahon’s never believed in him, but the WWE Universe does; and since his words won’t change McMahon’s mind, maybe actions will. He takes the fight to Corbin, while McIntyre then attacks Cena… and then McIntyre takes Balor out with a Claymore Kick (and does the same to Cena too). (So, Balor failed in his endeavor, didn’t he?)
Despite McIntyre clearly coming out on top, Mr. McMahon says this all opens the door for a Fatal 4-Way match between these men tonight.
After all that chaos, Jinder Mahal sucks up to Mr. McMahon backstage. He points out all of his accomplishments and how disappointed he is that he wasn’t considered for the match tonight. (He says he didn’t come out because he was tending to Sunil Singh.) Mr. McMahon gives him an opportunity: Pick one of the Fatal 4-Way competitors and beat him tonight, and he’s in the match. So of course, Jinder chooses the fresh match-up, himself vs. Finn Balor.
Bayley, Natalya, & Nikki Cross def. The Riott Squad (Ruby Riott, Sarah Logan, & Liz Morgan)
Oh wow, Bayley and Natalya’s partner? A debuting—and absolutely insane—Nikki Cross. (Also, Michael Cole now notes that before any of the new NXT call-ups officially have a brand, they’ll be testing the waters on both RAW and SmackDown.) The Riott Squad really, really don’t look happy about this. In fact, they look a little scared. But luckily for them (and Sarah Logan, specifically), Bayley starts the match off. Well, she would have, but Nikki is ready to fight and the WWE Universe is hyped to see her fight.
Actually, Nikki wants to “play” and decides to go after all three members of The Riott Squad on her own, as ill-advised as that might be for a sane person. And she gets Ruby Riott trapped in the apron—the Fit Finlay special—and just clubs her with forearms.
Finn Balor def. Jinder Mahal
Before the match, Finn Balor spots another debuting NXT call-up—Lacey Evans—chatting it up with Dana Brooke and Mickie James. Also before this match—but after Jinder Mahal has made his entrance—Dean Ambrose cuts a backstage promo about things that are “wrong,” like having to defend his Intercontinental Championship in a match against two other men or having to defend his Intercontinental Championship in Memphis.
Okay, now it’s time for the match. Mahal attacks Balor during his entrance, before the match officially begins,
But with the WWE Universe behind him and the Coup de Grace, Balor wins the match. But he already wasn’t at 100% going into the match, so after it? Oh boy.
In a backstage promo, Lio Rush warns Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins about Bobby Lashley. He even lets them know: “You better come correct, or don’t come at all.”
Before he makes his entrance, Seth Rollins reminds us all why it is Monday Night Rollins.
Bobby Lashley def. Dean Ambrose (c) & Seth Rollins, in a Triple Threat match for the Intercontinental Championship
Ambrose begins the match by trying to convince Rollins that they should team up against Lashley, but instead, Rollins just tosses Ambrose out of the ring and takes the fight to Lashley. Once Lashley’s out of the way, Rollins is back to Ambrose.
However, Ambrose’s plan works when he decides to team up with Lashley against Rollins. Ambrose even starts directing traffic for Lashley. Rollins eventually finds an opening to fight back, but he’s then rocked by a gigantic spinebuster by Lashley… and that’s when Ambrose ends the alliance, trying to take advantage and pin Rollins. That fails, but then Lio Rush decides to get involved. He evades Rollins, and he succeeds at luring him into another giant spinebuster, this time on the outside. Then Lashley makes clear he’s done doing teamwork and takes Ambrose out too.
Lashley gains momentum, so then out of instinct, Rollins and Ambrose end up working together momentarily. They even work together to use the steel steps on Lashley. And then it’s back to fighting each other. Rollins is able to hit a Falcon Arrow on Ambrose… and then Lio Rush breaks up the pin that comes as a result. The chase is on, only this time, Rollins actually gets his hands on Rush… and then Ambrose accidentally destroys Rush. Lashley gets back in and almost gets a three-count on Ambrose, but nope. Ambrose then deflects a spear attempt, but he truly capitalizes after he covers Lashley after a Frog Splash from Rollins. Actually, nope—another two.
Rollins is about to hit the stomp on Ambrose for the win, but once he hits the ropes, Rush interferes and Rollins comes crashing to the outside… and Lashley hits Ambrose with a spear for the win. Bobby Lashley is the Intercontinental Champion for the first time in his career.
Now for the second episode of A Moment of Bliss. Alexa Bliss brings up the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship, noting that Mr. McMahon never said when they would finally arrive. But Bliss has the “inside scoop”: In five weeks, at the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view, three teams from RAW and three teams from SmackDown will compete in the structure to determine the inaugural WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions. And Bliss even has the titles
But now it’s time for the guest of the week, Paul Heyman. He interrupts Bliss before she can even officially introduce
Also, NXT call-ups Heavy Machinery interrupt the show—well, Otis Dozovic does, while Tucker Knight tries to rein him in—and then it’s time for the main event.
Finn Balor def. John Cena, Baron Corbin, & Drew McIntyre, for the opportunity to face Brock Lesnar for the Universal Championship at the Royal Rumble
Balor goes for the Coup de Grace on Corbin early but instead ends up eating a chokeslam on to Corbin’s knee. Then Corbin and McIntyre circle Cena. But Cena is able to fight back with the power of vintage Cena, and eventually, he and Finn Balor end up as an alliance in this multi-man match. But despite their past, McIntyre and Corbin very clearly have no such alliance.
Okay, while they have no alliance, they do have a moment when they just decide to keep beating up on Balor and Cena, just for the fun of it all. But Cena and Balor get their momentum back before they finally go after each other. Cena avoids a Coup de Grace and follows up it with an avalanche AA… which Corbin tries to take advantage of by covering Balor. But Corbin only gets a two-count and decides to bust out a steel chair: This is no disqualification after all.
First Cena gets the chair shot from Corbin, then McIntyre, and last but not least, Corbin goes after Balor. That is the one he takes pleasure in. Two chair shots to the back, and then he covers Balor, but Cena breaks up the pin. Corbin grabs the chair once more and prepares to get Cena back, but he misses and then gets hit with an AA. Cena then eats a Claymore Kick, and then Balor hits McIntyre with a spinning DDT. After that, Balor hits the Coup de Grace on Cena for the three-count and the ticket to the Royal Rumble for “Balor and The Beast.”
Post-match, Cena gets on the mic to let Balor know he also believes in him. “You give him hell at the Royal Rumble.”