1/14 Powell’s WWE Raw TV Review: Dean Ambrose vs. Bobby Lashley vs. Seth Rollins in a Triple Threat for the Intercontinental Championship, Ronda Rousey and Sasha Banks vs. Nia Jax and Tamina, the Royal Rumble build continues

By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)

WWE Raw on the USA Network
Aired live on January 14, 2019 from Memphis, Tennessee at FedExForum

[Hour One] A limo was shown backstage. The limo driver opened the door and Vince McMahon exited the car. Vince called the limo driver over to point out a couple of spots, which the driver wiped away… Michael Cole, Corey Graves, and Renee Young were on commentary…

Braun Strowman made his entrance. Strowman didn’t have any type of wrap or brace on his elbow. A loud “get these hands” chant broke out. Strowman said Brock Lesnar would never admit it, but he’s always been afraid of him. Strowman looked into the camera and said, “Hey, Beastie Boy, I hope you’re watching this from training camp because I’m all healed up.” He added that there’s no one to save Lesnar now that Baron Corbin is out of power.

Corbin walked onto the stage and said he may not run Raw anymore. “Yeah, that’s because you got fired,” Strowman barked. Braun led the fans in a brief “you got fired” chant. Corbin said the fans believe in Strowman and yet all he does is them down. Corbin said Strowman can’t beat Lesnar. Corbin said his focus would be on winning the Royal Rumble and going somewhere Corbin never will – main eventing WrestleMania.

Strowman chased Corbin into the backstage area. The Singhs pointed him toward where Corbin went. Strowman tossed one of the Singhs over a catering table. As Strowman walked out of camera range, Elias appeared and sang a song about how he knows where Corbin went. Strowman showed up and listened as Elias sang that Corbin was hiding “down in that limo.”

Strowman approached the limo that Vince arrived in and kicked off the driver’s side mirror. Strowman pulled the limo driver out and tossed him over the hood. Strowman barked for Corbin to get out. Strowman picked up a pipe and smashed a rear window out, then pulled off the door. Strowman exited the other side of the limo. Strowman told him he better run. Vince showed up and surveyed the damage. “There’s gonna be hell to pay,” Graves said before a commercial break… [C]

Powell’s POV: If they want to send the right message, Vince will basically tell Strowman he better make it worthwhile by getting his hands on Corbin. It would be ridiculous to cast the McMahons or anyone else as a heel authority figure given how burnt out the fans seem to be on that concept. The good news is that Strowman must be medically cleared given that he manhandled multiple people in this segment.

Strowman attempted to put the limo door back on before giving up quickly. Vince said he’s some sort of a raging wooly mammoth and a human wrecking ball. “Look what you’ve done to my car,” Vince said. “That’s going to cost you $100,000.” Strowman said “that piece of crap” isn’t worth $100,000. Vince said if Strowman wanted to raise his voice then he can forget about his match with Lesnar. “You’re out,” Vince said. Vince walked away and then Strowman powered up the limo and tipped it over…

Powell’s POV: The live crowd didn’t go as nuts for the latest Strowman stunt. Aside from Vince’s involvement, this had a “been there, done that” feel to it. I’m not sure what’s up with Strowman being pulled from the match. Perhaps he’s cleared for some basic manhandling and not an actual match? I’d love to see that on a doctor’s note. “Patient is allowed to do manhandling of the basic variety, yet is not cleared to work a full match.”

Ronda Rousey and Sasha Banks made their entrance. The broadcast tam recapped Banks beating Nia Jax last week to earn the Raw Women’s Championship at the Royal Rumble. Nia Jax and Tamina made their entrance… [C]

Strowman was escorted from the building by security. Corbin showed up after Strowman was outside the building and smirked…

1. Ronda Rousey and Sasha Banks vs. Nia Jax and Tamina. Jax and Banks were going to start, but Jax motioned for Rousey. Banks teased obliging, then punched Jax and started the match. Banks eventually tagged in Rousey to a pop. Rousey went for an armbar on Tamina, who was pulled to ringside by Jax. The heel duo stalled going into a break. [C]

Jax and Tamina isolated Banks and they showed a split-screen movie ad shortly after returning from the full break. Banks fought her way out of the heel corner and put Tamina in a Bank Statement for the submission win…

Ronda Rousey and Sasha Banks defeated Nia Jax and Tamina in 10:10.

After the match, Charly Caruso entered the ring and interviewed Rousey and Banks about getting along despite being opponents soon. Rousey said it was an honor to team with Banks. Rousey said a win over Banks would be her greatest accomplishment as champion. Banks took offense. Rousey said the way to show Banks the utmost respect would be to do everything she can to tap her out at the Rumble.

Banks asked if Rousey thinks she’s the only one who can tap people out. Banks said she will face any woman, any size, anyplace, anywhere. She said it will be her pleasure to teach Rousey how to lose with class. Rousey told her she can keep the title of world’s classiest loser because she didn’t want it. Rousey regretted her words. Banks got in her face and said Rousey will be the loser at the Rumble when she taps her out and takes back the championship. Banks left the ring. Rousey raced after her and tried to talk her down. Banks continued to jaw at Rousey and walked away…

Powell’s POV: There were no hints of issues between Rousey and Banks during the match, which ended with another predictable loss for Tamina. The post match exchange gave Rousey vs. Banks some needed tension going in, but super respectful Rousey is kind of a bore. If nothing else, it should lead to quite the heel promo someday when she talks about how she tried to do everything right.

Heath Slater, Rhyno, the B-Team, Curt Hawkins, and Apollo Crews were shown along with Dasha Fuentes waiting outside Vince McMahon’s office. Jerry Lawler emerged from the office just in time for No Way Jose to lead his goof troop in.a conga dance right in front of him… [C]

Backstage, Bayley and Natalya stood between a bickering Banks and Rousey and talked them into going their separate ways. Natalya said Sasha has to learn how to control her emotions. Bayley objected to that and blamed Rousey. They bickered until Riott Squad showed up. Ruby Riott said everyone seems to be falling apart while they are sticking together. Riott challenged them to find a friend to face them later in the show. Natalya accepted…

2. “The Revival” Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder vs. “Lucha House Party” Kalisto and Gran Metalik (w/Lince Dorado). Before the match, The Revival complained about LHP watching as lumberjacks while they were screwed in the tag title match. Dawson said it was time for them to pay up.

They cut backstage to Fuentes, who was in front of Vince’s dressing room. She interviewed Apollo Crews, who said he was first in line to challenge Lesnar. Hawkins showed up and made his pitch. EC3 appeared and stood there. The B-Team also showed up, as did Slater and Rhyno. Back in the ring, Dawson DDT’d Metalik, who put his foot on the bottom rope. Wilder pushed the foot off from ringside and the ref made the three count…

The Revival defeated Lucha House Party in 4:10.

Powell’s POV: The broadcast team spent the match talking about how The Revival believe there’s a conspiracy. It sounds like someone has been watching The Kingdom in ROH for inspiration. Of all the things to be inspired by in ROH, they go with that dreadful storyline? By the way, I’m not sure if the live crowd actually saw the backstage segment on the big screen. They didn’t react to any of it, so EC3 just stood there and got zero reaction for his character’s first appearance on Raw.

Backstage, Vince left his dressing room and Dasha was waiting. Vince asked if she was waiting for a scoop. He said he’d rather go to the ring… [C] Cole noted they were in Memphis as a brief video and graphic spotlighted the city…

Vince McMahon made his entrance. Just as Vince was about to speak, John Cena’s music interrupted him. Cena joined Vince in the ring and said he knew Vince was there to tell someone to step up. Cena recalled Steve Austin and The Rock leaving, and Brock Lesnar going to play football. He said Vince begged someone to step up. Cena said he looked Vince in the eye and said he wouldn’t let him down. “Give me a chance, Vince,” Cena said. “I will not let you down.” Cena said he would beat Brock Lesnar and become a 17-time champion. Cena said it’s because he has ruthless aggression.

[Hour Two] Drew McIntyre called out “no, no, no” and walked to the ring. McIntyre said he doesn’t care about Cena’s movies or whatever books he’s writing. “But how dare you stand in this ring and claim that you still have ruthless aggression,” McIntyre said before walking over to Vince. “This is what ruthless aggression looks like.” McIntyre said Cena’s time is up and his time is now.

Baron Corbin came out and said his life was just threatened. He said he’s not the type of guy to have a lawyer on speed dial, but he indicated that it would be in Vince’s best interest to give him the title shot. Finn Balor walked out and said he’s the only person amongst the group in the ring who has ever been Universal Champion.

Vince said maybe Balor would be again someday. He said he had tremendous speed and had it all, but there was a lot of beef out there. He questioned whether Balor was the right guy to face Lesnar. Balor said Vince never believed in him, but the people do. Balor said Vince is stubborn and he knows he can’t change his mind, so he would show him. Balor attacked Corbin. McIntyre ended up laying out Balor and Cena. Vince booked Cena vs. McIntyre vs. Balor vs. Corbin in a four-way to determine who will face Lesnar at the Rumble…

Powell’s POV: I guess none of the guys who lined up in front of Vince’s door cared enough about the match to come out. Anyway, it’s been well over a decade since Vince dropped the “ruthless aggression” line and they just won’t let it die. It’s just not as special as people in the company seem to think it is. I guess Corbin’s involvement explains why he’s been all over the show tonight. Now the question is who pins him in the four-way.

Vince was backstage talking with a crew member when Jinder Mahal showed up and said he was honored to be in his presence, yet he was disappointed that he wasn’t in the No. 1 contenders match. Vince asked if Mahal thinks everyone wants to see him face Lesnar. Vince told Mahal to pick any man from the four-way and if he could beat him tonight, then he would replace him at the Royal Rumble. Mahal selected Balor…

Powell’s POV: Wait, so this is happening at the Royal Rumble and not on Raw? My apologies for misunderstanding, but that’s a really odd call.

3. Bayley, Natalya, and Nikki Cross vs. Ruby Riott, Liv Morgan, and Sarah Logan. Cross received a decent reaction. Cole said the new NXT call-ups will be appearing on both shows so that fans can see what they are all about. Cross was pulled into the apron by Cross, who then blasted her with repeated forearms to the head going into a break. [C]

Bayley was isolated by Riott Squad. She eventually tagged in Natalya, who worked over Logan. Morgan checked in and had Natalya pinned, but Cross broke it up. Cross tagged into the match. Natalya held up Morgan and Cross came off the ropes with a clothesline. In the end, Kross performed a neckbreaker on Morgan, then Bayley performed a top rope elbow drop and pinned her…

Bayley, Natalya, and Nikki Cross defeated Ruby Riott, Liv Morgan, and Sarah Logan in 11:55.

Finn Balor was shown walking backstage. He stopped when he noticed Dana Brooke and Mickie James speaking with Lacey Evans, then went back to walking. Mahal made his entrance for their match… [C]

Powell’s POV: I’m just happy they didn’t try to pass off Ember Moon as a surprise opponent again. It was nice to see Cross and she was given plenty of time in the match to get over her frantic style. So when do we find out when the NXT talent is tied to one brand or the other? I guess they can just announce that whenever they feel like it, but this approach feels a little odd.

Dean Ambrose delivered a backstage promo about moral empathy vs. raw animal instinct. He said he’s always right, where it’s wrong that he has to defend his title against two opponents. He complained about having to defend the title against both men and in Memphis… Balor made his entrance. Cole clarified that the four-way match will take place on this show…

Powell’s POV: Okay, so now the four-way is taking place tonight after all. I don’t know if it’s the cold medicine playing tricks with my brain or if they really did make this confusing. I suspect it’s a little of both given that Cole laid things out again.

4. Finn Balor vs. Jinder Mahal (w/Samir Singh). Sunil Singh sold his limo angle injuries by not accompanying Mahal to ringside. As Balor was posing on the ropes, Mahal knocked him down and roughed him up at ringside before the bell. Mahal rolled him inside the ring, the ref checked on Balor, and then called for the bell to start the match. Mahal tripped Balor on the apron heading into a break. [C]

Mahal remained on the offensive with a chinlock. Balor came back with an overhead kick. Balor performed a flip dive onto Mahal and Singh. Back inside the ring, Balor performed a Coup De Grace and scored the clean pin…

Finn Balor defeated Jinder Mahal in 9:30 to earn a spot in the No. 1 contenders four-way match. 

Powell’s POV: They tried to put Balor in the position to overcome the pre-match attack, but I don’t think anyone really bought it. So between Vince questioning Balor earlier and now Balor being forced to work an extra match, that would seem to make him a strong candidate to win the four-way.

Lio Rush delivered a promo from the locker room area about stepping up. Rush said Bobby Lashley is the man that people need as champion. He said Lashley would become the IC Champion whether people like it or not. Lashley entered the picture while Rush told Rollins and Ambrose to come correct or not to come at all… Ambrose made his entrance for the IC Title match… [C]

Powell’s POV: That was the least annoying promo we’ve heard from Rush on Raw. The awkward laugh was gone and he delivered a good, straight forward promo. I like Rush and I’m optimistic about what they are doing with Lashley, so hopefully this is part of their new approach.

A sponsored ad showed Shawn Michaels superkicking Marty Jannetty through the Barbershop window…

Bobby Lashley made his entrance and then Caruso interviewed Seth Rollins backstage and noted it could be his last shot at the IC Title. Rollins said he would make the most of it by kicking Ambrose’s teeth down his throat. Rollins recalled Ambrose attacking him on the night that Roman Reigns announced his leukemia battle. Rollins said he will never forgive Ambrose. Rollins said Lashley is impressive, but physiques only get you so far. Rollins said no one on the planet can do what he does from bell to bell…

5. Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins vs. Bobby Lashley (w/Lio Rush) in a Triple Threat for the Intercontinental Championship. Ring announcer Mike Rome delivered in-ring introductions for the championship match.

[Hour Three] Ambrose talked Lashley into working together to work over Rollins. Lashley performed a big spinebuster on Rollins. Ambrose tossed Lashley to ringside and went after Rollins, who ended up coming back with a suicide dive. Rollins returned to the ring and got into it with Rush. Rollins chased Rush around the ring and into an attack by Lashley, who then suplexed Ambrose heading into a break.

Rollins had Ambrose pinned off a falcon arrow, but Rush ran in and broke up the pin. Lashley returned and set up for a spear on Ambrose, who kicked him. Ambrose set up for his finisher, but Rollins performed a springboard clothesline. Rollins went up top and performed a frogsplash on Lashley. Ambrose threw Rollins to ringside and covered Lashley for two at 12:00.

Ambrose went u top and was cut off by Rollins. Lashley hoisted up Rollins on his shoulders and Ambrose performed a Doomsday clothesline. Rollins popped right up and superkicked both men. Rollins ran the ropes. Rush held the top rope down and Rollins tumbled to ringside. Lashley speared and pinned Ambrose to win the title…

Bobby Lashley defeated Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins in 13:10 to win the Intercontinental Championship.

The broadcast team hyped the four-way main event and A Moment of Bliss with Paul Heyman… A crew member brought a coffee to Alexa Bliss’s locker room. When she didn’t answer, the man entered the room where Bliss was topless, yet holding a top over her breasts… The broadcast team set up a trailer for the movie Glass…

Powell’s POV: Wow, a mild surprise. As I mentioned, they’ve been doing a better job with Lashley and now Rush, so I’m not opposed this by any means. It frees up Rollins to go after the WWE Universal Championship, and I’m not sure what comes next for Ambrose, though I’m sure he’ll go after Rollins again when/if Rollins becomes Universal Champion. Ambrose has not been been off to a hot start as a heel, but he’s still a star. The title does more for the Lashley and Rush act than it was doing for Ambrose. Meanwhile, we’ll see if it’s going somewhere, but Bliss covering herself backstage did not get a reaction from the crowd and felt really out of place from the modern WWE product.

Cole noted that the show was in Memphis while a lot of Elvis clips were shown…

Alexa Bliss made her entrance onto the stage where her table and two chairs were set up for her talkshow. Bliss noted that Vince McMahon teased WWE Women’s Tag Titles. She announced that three teams from Raw and three teams from Smackdown will compete inside an Elimination Chamber match in five weeks at the pay-per-view in Houston to become the first WWE Women’s Tag Champions. Bliss unveiled the new title belts. There were some cheers.

Bliss tried to introduce Paul Heyman, who interrupted to deliver his self introduction. Heyman sat down and told Bliss to ask her best questions. Bliss noted that Strowman is out of the WWE Universal Championship match. She asked what his emotions are regarding the four-way. Heyman said emotion plays not part, it’s the strategy. Heyman said you can line up all four of the top challengers and Lesnar would eat through them individually or en masse.

Heyman ran through the list of challengers individually. Heyman praised McIntyre and said he’s almost guaranteed to someday be a Universal Champion, “just not now.” Heyman saved Corbin for last and said he’s not the most popular guy. Suddenly, Otis Dozovic of Heavy Machinery walked onto the stage and yelled. His tag partner Tucker Knight came out and tried to talk him into returning backstage. Dozovic left with some help from Adam Pearce and a referee. The bell rang for the main event ring introductions to end the talkshow segment… [C]

Powell’s POV: The women’s tag belts look good. I’m surprised they are going with one set of tag champions. While they could add additional teams later, I like the idea of floating champions between the brands. I advocated the idea of going with a women’s tag title tournament to replace the flat Mixed Match Challenge on Facebook Live. Instead, we’re getting a six-way Elimination Chamber tag match to determine the first champions. Meanwhile, Dozovic didn’t get much of a reaction from the crowd. There are some NXT fans in the building, but the majority of the live crowd are not treating the call-ups like stars.

Ring entrances for the four-way main event took place…

6. John Cena vs. Drew McIntyre vs. Finn Balor vs. Baron Corbin in a four-way for a WWE Universal Championship match at the Royal Rumble. Balor went for his finisher early, but Corbin cut him off and performed a chokeslam backbreaker heading into a break less than a minute into the match. [C]

McIntyre took the five knuckle shuffle and an Attitude Adjustment from Cena and was pinned until Corbin broke it up. Ugh. Corbin stopped Cena and Balor from performing a double team move on the Corbin, who was on the top rope. Corbin tied up McIntyre in a tree of woe, but McIntyre sat up and flung Corbin from the ropes heading into a break. [C]

Corbin hit End of Days on Balor and had him pinned, but McIntyre broke it up. Corbin did his usual run around the ring post bit and this time ran into a headbutt from McIntyre. Cena went for a top rope move and McIntyre powerbombed him on the way down for a two count. Late in the match, Cena caught Corbin with an AA, but McIntyre gave Cena a Claymore kick. Balor performed a tornado DDT on McIntyre. Balor went up top and performed a Coup De Grace on Cena. Balor covered Cena and pinned him to win the match…

Finn Balor defeated John Cena, Drew McIntyre, and Baron Corbin in 18:45 to earn a WWE Universal Championship match at the Royal Rumble.

A graphic touted Brock Lensar vs. Finn Balor for the WWE Universal Championship. Cena took the mic and addressed Balor. He said where he comes from when you’re confronted you fight and earn respect. Cena recalled Vince saying he doesn’t believe in him. Cena said Balor said the people believed in him, and now he has one more person who believes in him. Cena shook Balor’s hand and told him to give ’em hell at the Royal Rumble. Cena introduced Balor as the winner and hugged him. Cena shook Balor’s hand one more time and exited the ring while Balor celebrated to close the show…

Powell’s POV: Balor winning was a bit foreshadowed based on Vince giving him extra attention in the previous segment, not to mention Balor being forced to jump through the extra hook known as Mahal. At first, having Cena take the pin seemed like a wasted job of him, but the post match endorsement completely justified it and was well done.

The overall show was a mixed bag. I liked the main event and Lashley winning the IC Championship. On the flip side, Strowman looked like a monster tamed by Vince, Otis came off like a modern day Bushwhacker, and the EC3 character debuted on Raw by standing amongst the heroes of WWE Main Event. I will have plenty to talk about in tonight’s members’ exclusive audio review of this show. Join us via PWMembership.net.

Check below for the new Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell and Brian Fritz discussing the formation of All Elite Wrestling and their launch rally.

Readers Comments (8)

  1. Ok maybe it’s conspiracy theory time…but Sasha Banks clearly held up 4 fingers… Said something like it’s about this while holding 4 fingers… Idk man… What did you guys hear and see?

  2. Lashley should not have the belt. Dean Ambrose should. That match was not a no dq. Rush interfered so that means Ambrose should still have belt. Ref should be fired for not doing his job

  3. I’m watching NXT Takeover Blackpool and refreshing prowrestling.net here and there to see if there’s any reason for me to watch Raw. So far no deal….

  4. How come I keep waiting for Cena to hit a Clothesline From Hell?

  5. Wasn’t Vince supposed to say “championship opportunity” when he took Strowman out of his match at Royal Rumble? I swear I heard him say “championship match”.

    • No, it was a championship match so Vince was right here. Shame he screwed up later when he said the fatal 4way would be at the rumble instead of later on in the show lol

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