Nothing like a big brawl to truly kick the New Year off right. Seth Rollins and Bobby Lashley started out the first RAW of 2019 broadcast in Orlando, Florida by tearing the whole place apart. Officials and other wrestlers poured from everywhere like a leak in a raft to stop the madness.
After the bodies cleared up, the crowd cheered wildly as the camera panned across what looked to be an empty entrance ramp. Was the Ghost of Christmas Past sticking around a week into 2019? Just kidding, we knew it was John Cena returning to RAW even without the signature horn section. Glowing in green, he even covered up his unkempt Clark Kent hair with a ‘Never Give Up’ cap.
He cut a promo like Charlie Bucket, nothing on his mind but a golden ticket. Eventually, he dropped the Willy Wonka metaphors and said it straight up: Cena is going to enter the Royal Rumble this year. Then, Drew McIntyre had to stroll out and make Cena sad. You won’t like Cena when he’s sad. Get it, because he was wearing green and he’s jacked? It’s a Hulk joke.
Lio Rush came out with Bobby Lashley talking about the brawl and how he’s going to get lawyers involved. How many more dudes are going to walk out? Thankfully, Rollins interrupted the legal rant by clocking Lashley and the carnage continued. Dean Ambrose and Finn Bálor ran out. Cena and McIntyre got involved. The WWE wisely and swiftly organized this calamity into a six-man tag match, making it seem like they almost planned it that way.
Finn Bálor, John Cena, & Seth Rollins def. Dean Ambrose, Bobby Lashley, & Drew McIntyre
McIntyre used this time to keep his feud building with Bálor. He kept roughing him up and begging him to ‘fight for him’ in an almost romantic way. Lashley got his turn, but Balor almost squirmed away with the help of elbows, determination, and arm sweat. Villainous teamwork halted his efforts.
Finally, Cena got tagged in with his Jorts of Power and started making it known why he’s been on top for all these years. Well, that was until Mcintyre stunned him with that Glasgow Kiss of his. For what seemed like an eternity, the team of Ambrose, Lashley, and McIntyre held Cena captive in a prison of pain, away from his partners.
Cena slipped away and Bálor started going freaking nuts. He nearly had the whole bout won but got swept with a Claymore Kick. The battle continued! After Ambrose and Bálor laid on the mat, both fighting consciousness, the men tagged in their partners, turning RAW into Monday Night Rollins. Eventually, Rollins landed the Curb Stomp on Ambrose to get the ‘W’ for the team.
Imbued with confidence only a victory like that can give, Rollins immediately shot his shot with Triple H after smacking The Game’s coffee away. It paid off though because he was given a title bout with Ambrose later that night. …With no rules.
Let me tell you something, brother. Hulk Hogan walked to the ring in an iron-on Gene-o-Mania t-shirt. Instead of his body soaked with oil, his eyes were wet with tears, brother. A touching vignette aired in tribute to the late, great ‘Mean’ Gene Okerlund. The fans answered the video with a chant and the Hulkamaniac got choked up, brother. The fitting homage wrapped up with Hogan cutting one last promo to the spirit of the man who touched so many.
Chad Gable & Bobby Roode (c) def. The Revival, in a Lumberjack Match for the RAW Tag Team Championship
These teams picked up right where they left off at Christmas Eve, but this time, the outside of the ring was scattered with other RAW wrestlers to make sure everything stayed inside the squared circle. Gable and Roode dominated the early goings of the match-up with their incredible teamwork and the ability to keep such a high pace.
Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder broke out some of their dastardly devices to gain some respect but had their offense thwarted. Even individually, it seemed like the tag champs were just too badass to be beat. The two started straight showing out and pulled off a crazy German suplex/front flip
The pinfall to win it all didn’t come too long after that, but
Baron Corbin def. Elias
Elias came out to serenade us all. He made a strange barking noise once the crowd got behind him to let everyone know he was really feeling it. He tried to sing a ballad about Baron Corbin’s employment history but was interrupted by the man himself. Of course, he had the free time to intervene. The dude doesn’t have a job anymore.
The interruption soon turned physical and it became another installment in the “shirts versus skins” fight series. Elias took off the concert t-shirt to reveal his large muscular pecs (like most normal wrestlers) while Corbin opted to keep his button-up on. Just wearing a dress shirt won’t help you get your job back.
However, beating the crap out of Elias would certainly make him feel better, so he did just that. Elias pretty much controlled the entire match until a well-placed haymaker by Corbin changed the dismal tide. After an End of Days, Corbin didn’t have his GM position back but he did have redemption.
Braun Strowman put his enormous hand on a mic and called out Brock Lesnar. Paul Heyman and his client appeared on screen to belittle everything Strowman let out of his mouth. He kept beckoning the ‘Beastie Boy’ and the ill communication finally got to Lesnar. At the behest of his advocate, the WWE Universal Champ walked out to get face-to-face with his rival. Or, well, he actually just walked around the perimeter of the ring for a while and snickered before leaving. Looks like we’ll have to wait until Royal Rumble for Lesnar to catch these hands.
Ember Moon & Apollo Crews def. Jinder Mahal & Alicia Fox
After Jinder Mahal took a minute to insult Florida and soak in the obligatory boos, pyro fired off and Ember Moon with Apollo Crews got the audience in a good mood again. Mahal blasted right out of the gate at Crews. It was back and forth for a short time until Crews started tipping the scales and eventually took out Mahal and the Singh Brothers with a big plancha to the outside. Moon immediately destroyed Fox after that and hit her with an Eclipse to snag a quick win with ease.
Click right here to read all Ronda’s appearance on Alexa Bliss’ premiere of A Moment of Bliss and how it was completely ruined.
Sasha Banks def. Nia Jax
Jax put on her infamous pressure as soon as the bell rang. Banks cleverly cut the corner under the ring for a breather and to get the drop on Jax. Her minuscule advantage soon faded as Jax’s brute force once again reigned supreme. Then, it got real ugly in more ways than one.
After a grueling beatdown, Nia carried Banks around the entire ring to gorilla press her onto an equipment case. Weird flex, but okay. She casually strutted in the ring waiting for an inevitable count-out that never came. Banks just barely beat the count by rolling into the ring, started getting bullied again, got hit with a sit-out powerbomb, then barely beat that count as well.
Banks attempted a comeback, literally throwing everything she had at Jax. She landed a Meteora for only a two-count. The aggression just got turned up to 11 from there. Jax slang Banks by her purple hair. Strand littered the canvas. Trying to find any chance at escape, Banks slipped out of a second-rope Samoan drop but then got tossed right on the ropes and turnbuckle. Her back jolted in a curve like a scene from The Exorcist. It didn’t look fun at all.
Tamina came in for a cheap shot but this time Bayley was there to prevent her from interfering further. Unfortunately, it didn’t help that much. Banks attempted a hurricanrana and Jax ended up tossing Banks onto the floor in what was somehow an even more dangerous spot from the one before that made everyone cringe.
With all hope seeming lost, Banks leaped back into the ring and slapped on The Bank Statement to get the tap. She earned her shot at Ronda and the RAW Women’s Championship. But at what cost to her health?
Dean Ambrose (c) def. Seth Rollins, in a Falls Count Anywhere match to retain the Intercontinental Championship
Rollins seemed like he was still fired up from the last match and started taking it to Ambrose before he could even catch his breath. In no time, they were all over the arena. Ambrose tried to mount some sort of offense but hilariously ripped a microphone out and it fell to the ground before he could use it as a weapon. He then tipped over a Rubbermaid trash can like trying to stop a horror movie antagonist from pursuing him, but nothing can stop Rollins. He’s the boogeyman.
It was a veritable tour of terror. Rollins slammed Ambrose into anything that was metal. That sound is awfully satisfying. Finally, Ambrose gained the high ground on top of some sort of metal platform. Lockers? Cases? Whatever it was, it looked solid and painful.
They worked back into the arena and into the stands, Ambrose got slammed through the announce table on the way like as if it was a stop at a corner store you’d make while walking home. Ambrose retreated and begged for mercy on his knees like vintage Ric Flair. Sick reference, Ambrose. Everybody knows your references are out of control.
A chair shot evened the score. The crowd wanted a table to be put into the fray but Ambrose tearing up the mats and exposing the concrete seemed to curb their ever-growing bloodlust for a moment. Ambrose tried for the Dirty Deeds but Rollins answered with a backdrop instead.
It became the Rollins show once again: Superplex, roll through, buckle bomb, and a kick in the face which made Ambrose do The Stanky Leg and quiver his lips. Rollins was about to finish it all with a
Multiple spine slams on the barricade then a belly-to belly-suplex on the floor took all the fight and advantage away from Rollins. Lashley brought him back in the ring for a spear and Ambrose gets the unearned win, keeping his WWE Intercontinental Championship. Even after Ambrose got the win, Lashley wasn’t done with Rollins. He answered the earlier call for a table and slammed The Architect right through it.