By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw on the USA Network
Aired live on January 28, 2019 from Phoenix, Arizona at Talking Stick Resort Arena
[Hour One] The broadcast team was Michael Cole, Corey Graves, and Renee Young… Men’s Royal Rumble winner Seth Rollins made his entrance and was introduced by ring announcer Mike Rome. A “burn it down” chant broke out and Rollins smiled at the crowd while the camera got a shot of the WrestleMania sign hanging behind him.
Rollins recalled saying that heart, determination, passion, and love was the reason he would win the Rumble. He said tonight he can say that he is going to the main event at WrestleMania (Becky Lynch should have interrupted and taken issue with which match will be the main event, but she didn’t). The fans chanted “you deserve it.”
Rollins said he promised himself that if he won the Rumble he wasn’t going to do it, but since it was once in a lifetime he had to point at the WrestleMania sign. Rollins said some people grow up and want to be astronauts or play in the Super Bowl, but all he wanted to do was main event WrestleMania.
Rollins spoke of the two paths he could take to WrestleMania. He said he could face Daniel Bryan and noted that he has been a good friend of his or he could go to Suplex City and face Brock Lesnar. Rollins said it will be a very difficult decision and it’s one he has to take some time to think about.
Triple H’s entrance music played and he headed to the ring dressed in a suit. Hunter stopped and spent a moment with a child in the front row before entering the ring. Hunter said he’s glad that Rollins lived the dream and pointed at the sign. He said he would have been disappointed if he didn’t point at it because he knew it was his dream.
Hunter recalled challenging Rollins to bring back the old version of himself. Hunter said knows that dream. Hunter got choked up and said Rollins was making him emotional. Hunter said the Royal Rumble was created to test the limits of 30 men until there is only one, and he said that one is Rollins. Another “burn it down” chant broke out.
Hunter noted that Rollins and Becky Lynch both have decisions to make. Hunter said Lynch will make her decision on Smackdown tomorrow night, and Rollins has to make his decision tonight. He said Rollins knows how fast the machine moves. Hunter said Daniel Bryan and Brock Lesnar would both be present and he needs Rollins to tell him whose ass he’s going to kick at WrestleMania.
Rollins said it would be one of the toughest decision he’ll make in his life. He started to sign off on the idea of it being done tonight, but he was interrupted by Dean Ambrose’s entrance music. Ambrose mocked how cute the “father/son” dynamic was between Hunter and Rollins. He said it makes him sick. Ambrose said Hunter didn’t believe in Rollins while he always did.
Hunter asked if Ambrose was going down the brother route even though he stabbed his brother in the back on the same night his other brother announced he was battling leukemia again. Ambrose barked that it doesn’t concern Hunter, who responded that everything in the ring concerns him. Ambrose said he hopes Rollins beats Lesnar or Bryan. He said Rollins knows that he is the one guy he’s never been able to beat fair and square.
Ambrose asked for a match with Rollins. Hunter started to leave the ring. Ambrose ducked between the ropes and looked him in the eye and asked, “What’s the matter, do you have to ask permission from your father-in-law first?” Hunter called for a referee. Cole hyped the match as a ref came to the ring and Rollins and Ambrose jawed at one another in the ring going into a break… [C]
Powell’s POV: Finally, the proud poppa Paul Levesque character that has been great for NXT seems to have made his way to the main roster. I like that Seth is playing up uncertainty regarding his decision. And I really liked Ambrose in this segment. It was good see him get right in Hunter’s face and not eat a Pedigree as we may have not all that long ago. That said, if we don’t get Batista vs. Hunter at WrestleMania, I could see Ambrose being a potential opponent for a babyface Triple H.
1. Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose. Rollins worked over Ambrose at ringside early on. Ambrose came back and slammed Rollins down face first in the ring and got a two count going into a break. [C] Rollins performed a couple of suicide dives and then performed a step-up enzuigiri back inside the ring that sent Ambrose to the floor. Rollins performed another suicide dive.
Rollins rolled Ambrose back inside the ring and went up top. Rollins looked at the WrestleMania sign and then went for a frogsplash, but Ambrose moved. Ambrose rolled Rollins into a pin for a near fall. Ambrose went for his finisher, but Rollins avoided it and hit a ripcord knee, a buckle bomb, and a kick to the face. Rollins performed a Stomp and scored the pin…
Seth Rollins defeated Dean Ambrose in 12:25.
The broadcast team hyped the Rollins decision, Ronda Rousey’s open challenge, and Kurt Angle vs. Baron Corbin, and Braun Strowman vs. Drew McIntyre. They actually went back to a shot of Ambrose, who was upset about losing. They also showed the new WWE Women’s Tag Title belts set up on a podium at ringside… [C] An ad for Smackdown hyped Royal Rumble fallout
Powell’s POV: A good match with Rollins building more momentum by beating his on again, off again rival. I’m curious to see where Ambrose goes from here. His heel run hasn’t gone as well as anticipated, but his promos have been better lately and I’m curious to see what they do creatively to breathe more life into his act.
Ambrose was still in the ring and was seated on a chair coming out of the break. He told the fans not to be a jerk and said he was baring his soul. Nia Jax and Tamina interrupted him. Jax got in the ring and jawed at Ambrose, who turned toward Tamina. Jax hit Ambrose from behind and he went to ringside. Referees got involved and talked Ambrose into heading to the back. Alexa Bliss and Mickie James made their entrance…
2. Nia Jax and Tamina vs. Alexa Bliss and Mickie James in a qualifying match for the Elimination Chamber match to determine the WWE Women’s Tag Champions. A Bliss and James pre-taped promo aired. James said Jax and Tamina holding the belts would be like putting lipstick on a pig, which drew laughs from Bliss. Jax knocked Bliss and James to ringside. [C]
James went for a tornado DDT on Jax, who shoved her off and the hoisted her up on her shoulders. Meanwhile, Bliss was going to the top rope for a move. Jax put Bliss on her shoulders too and performed a double Samoan drop and then pinned James…
Nia Jax and Tamina defeated Alexa Bliss and Mickie James in 10:10 to qualify for the Elimination Chamber match to determine the WWE Women’s Tag Champions.
Powell’s POV: I wasn’t crazy about Jax entering the men’s Rumble match, but it looks like they are committed to making her out to be a badass again so that’s encouraging.
An interview aired with Kurt Angle from earlier in the day as various clips were shown related to the things he was discussing. He said he’d probably still be general manager of Raw if it wasn’t for Baron Corbin. He was asked about being “pretty much humiliated” by Drew McIntyre. He was asked if he was worried the same thing could happen tonight. Angle said it’s going to take a long time for him to get over that loss, but it took even longer to get his match with Corbin. Angle said the only person who should be worried is Corbin…
Corbin made his entrance for the match against Angle… [C]
Powell’s POV: Will Pruett and Dot Net reader Matt H are at the show and passed along word that Ambrose spoke during the commercial break and complained about the count and mocked the schools in Arizona. He also said he had to go to the back for a shower and breath mint to get the stink of Phoenix off before competing. Will previously noted in the Main Event spoilers (available on the main page) that the top level of the building is entirely tarped off.
3. Kurt Angle vs. Baron Corbin. Angle’s entrance was televised and he got the big singalong “you suck” reaction. Before the match, Corbin took the mic and said Angle believes he has one more great run or match in him and the people make him believe something that isn’t true. Corbin said that it will be their fault when he hurts him. Angle punched Corbin. The ref pulled them apart and then started the match.
[Hour Two] Corbin took offensive control for a stretch. Angle came back and performed three German suplexes that led to a two count. Corbin avoided the Olympic Slam and blasted Angle with a boot to the head. The broadcast team bickered throughout the match with Graves defending Corbin while Cole and Young sided with Angle. Cole insinuated that Graves sided with Corbin because he was in Corbin’s wedding.
Angle performed an Angle Slam for a two count. Angle lowered the straps and applied the ankle lock. Corbin rolled out and kicked Angle off of him. Corbin hit the Deep Six and scored the clean pin. After the match, Corbin left the ring, then returned and performed End of Days…
Baron Corbin pinned Kurt Angle in 3:55.
A shot aired of Finn Balor walking gingerly backstage. He was greeted by Heath Slater, who congratulated him. Rhyno, Apollo Crews, and Heavy Machinery also greeted him, and Sasha Banks and Bayley hugged him… [C]
Powell’s POV: The broadcast team was more obnoxious and distracting than helpful to the match. I hope they have a redemption story in mind for Angle at WrestleMania. By the way, a local ad for the Smackdown house show in Minneapolis hyped Daniel Bryan vs. AJ Styles for the WWE Championship, and Asuka vs. Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte Flair for the Smackdown Women’s Championship.
The broadcast team set up a video package on the Brock Lesnar vs. Finn Balor match from the Royal Rumble that consisted mostly of still shots from the match…
Finn Balor entered to his music and walked to the ring slowly rather than perform his usual entrance routine. Balor said he went toe-to-toe with Lesnar for ten minutes. Balor said he makes no excuses and stated that Lesnar beat him. “And then Brock Lesnar beat me again,” Balor said. He said he never felt speed or power like that and never saw it combined. Balor said he’s hurt, but he’s holding his head high because he made Lesnar believe.
Bobby Lashley’s entrance music interrupted Balor, and Lio Rush headed to the ring with him. Rush said it was a disgrace that a twerp like Balor got a title opportunity. Rush said Lashley is bigger, faster, and stronger than Lesnar will ever be, and the ass whooping Balor took was nothing compared to what Lashley would do to him.
Balor said he lasted longer with Lesnar than Lashley did in the Rumble and questioned if it was a 12-second outing. Lashley attacked Balor and slammed him down multiple times. Rush removed his All Mighty t-shirt and draped it over Balor…
Footage aired of Drew McIntyre’s involvement in the Braun Strowman injury angle, then the broadcast team hyped their match… An ad aired for NXT Halftime Heat…
Powell’s POV: A good angle. Balor’s promo was very well received by the live crowd and he sold his injuries well, which made him all the more sympathetic when Lashley attacked him. This should be a good Intercontinental Championship feud.
A graphic boasted of how socially active the Royal Rumble was because it beat out the worthless NFL Pro Bowl and various shows…
4. Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder vs. “The Revival” Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder. The Revival entrance was not televised. Cole recapped the history of Hawkins and Ryder as a team as some highlights were shown. There was actually an audible “let’s go Hawkins” chant at one point. The Revival hit Hawkins with the Shatter Machine and Wilder pinned him…
The Revival defeated Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder in 3:00.
Powell’s POV: I’m happy they didn’t have Hawkins break his losing streak in just one outing with Ryder. They should build up to that in a meaningful way before pulling the trigger.
Daniel Bryan and Erick Rowan were shown walking backstage when Charly Caruso approached and asked about the way Bryan beat AJ Styles and whether he thinks he could beat Rollins. Bryan said he would have won no matter what, and Rollins promotes pollution whenever he says burn it down. Bryan said he would end all of Rollins’ WrestleMania hopes tonight…
The broadcast team spoke about about WWE working with UNICEF Kid Power and then a video package aired… Elias strummed his guitar… [C]
A WrestleMania video aired. We are 69 days away…
Elias sat on a stool in the ring, introduced himself, and played his guitar. The fans cheered. Fans sang the “walk with Elias” line loudly. Elias said it’s interesting they did that because he’s been testing them and they let him down. He said they need to be better. Elias said once the guitar strums, the fans should be on their feet giving him a standing ovation and cheering wildly. Fans cheered loudly.
Elias said the fans are in the presence of greatness. “But it’s too late,” Elias said. The fans responded with a “we’re not worthy” chant. Elias said they were right and they are not worthy. He said he wasn’t writing songs for them anymore, they are for him. Elias emphasized that they need to shut their mouths for his song.
“Double J” Jeff Jarrett made his entrance. “Listen up, Slap Nuts,” Jarrett said from the stage. Jarrett took issue with Elias hitting him with a guitar and said he has a problem with him. Jarrett did the “Double J” spelling bit and walked toward the ring. Road Dogg’s entrance theme played and he came out wearing a “The Man” t-shirt and did his entrance schtick.
Road Dogg took issue with Elias wanting to perform for himself. Road Dogg told him to play with himself on his own time. Road Dogg did the “two words” bit. A “holy shit” chant broke out. Road Dogg told the fans it’s a family show, then apologized to everyone in the back for making it worse.
Road Dogg called for his music to be played. Road Dogg approached Renee Young, who danced while he sang “With My Baby Tonight”. Road Dogg wanted her to fill in the chorus, but she didn’t sing. Cole danced in his chair like a goof. Road Dogg and Jarrett went to ringside and continued to sing their song until Elias smashed a guitar over Road Dogg’s back.
Elias beat up Jarrett in the ring. Jarrett fought back and put Elias down with a punch. Jarrett pointed to his guitar. Fans cheered. Elias punched Jarrett, took the guitar, and smashed it over Jarrett’s back. Elias posed over Jarrett and received some boos…
Backstage, Dana Brooke told Natalya that she knows Ember Moon was her first choice to team with and she got hurt. Brooke said she’s just as good as Moon. Natalya said the only thing that matters is they try their hardest. Brooke said she’s better than Ember and Natalya… [C]
Powell’s POV: So the fans love Elias and gave him arguably the second biggest reaction of the night behind only Seth Rollins, but he’s turning heel and feuding with Double J and Road Dogg? I’m happy that Jarrett is getting some WWE love, but this is an odd choice given Elias’s popularity.
Mojo Rawley was shown seated in a dark room. “This is your fault that this has happened,” Rawley said while looking at something off-camera. He barked that he’s the greatest combination of size and speed that WWE has ever seen, but they think he’s a nobody “because of you.” The camera pulled back to show that Rawley was talking to himself in the mirror. He said everyone will see who he is soon…
Powell’s POV: I like it. Rawley seemed to be gaining a little momentum when they fed him to Bobby Roode in a brief and what turned out to be a pointless feud.
4. Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan (w/Ruby Riott) vs. Natalya and Dana Brooke in a qualifying match for the Elimination Chamber match to determine the WWE Women’s Tag Champions. Late in the match, Natalya had Morgan in the Sharpshooter when Morgan shoved Brooke into her to break up the hold. Morgan rolled up Natalya and pinned her. Brooke tried to talk to Natalya afterward, but she blew her off…
Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan defeated Natalya and Dana Brooke in 2:50 to qualify for the Elimination Chamber match to determine the WWE Women’s Tag Champions.
Young hyped Rousey’s open challenge as coming up next… [C] Cole boasted about the fairytale attendance of 48,193 at Chase Field for the Royal Rumble…
[Hour Three] Raw Women’s Champion Ronda Rousey made her entrance and handed a piece of merch to a young fan. Rousey received a mixed reaction and some fans held up “The Man” signs. Rousey said that if you can’t dream big or ridiculous dreams then what’s the use of dreaming at all. Fans booed.
Rousey said she stepped in the ring at the Royal Rumble last year and this year she entered as the Raw Women’s Champion. Rousey said Sasha Banks gave her the fight of her life. A loud “Becky” chant broke out. Rousey smiled, then thanked Banks. Rousey stumbled over a line, smiled, and said the fans got her to stumble over a line and congratulated them.
Rousey asked if they want to talk about what’s next. Rousey pointed at the WrestleMania sign. She said she knew Lynch was watching and has a choice to make. Fans booed. Rousey spun the mic around in her hand and then smiled as they continued.
Bayley made her entrance and said Rousey looked like she was looking for a fight and added that she was too. Bayley challenged Rousey to a match. Rousey held up her title belt. Bayley’s music played and she headed to the ring. Cole said Rousey wants to go to WrestleMania as champion and needs to get through Bayley in order to do that. Cole said the Lynch chants are because of her winning the Rumble and the choice that she has…
5. Ronda Rousey vs. Bayley for the Raw Women’s Championship. Rome delivered introductions for the title match. Rousey applied an armbar over the ropes and was booed. There was an awkward spot where Rousey pressed herself up in the corner. She came back down awkwardly and the broadcast team questioned if her arm or knee gave out. After a little confusion, Bayley clipped the back of Rousey’s knee and wrenched it over the ropes. Rousey tumbled to the floor heading into a break. [C]
Bayley continued to target the leg. Rousey sold hand or arm pain and continued to be booed by some in the crowd when she was on the offensive. Rousey threw a kick, and Bayley caught her leg and applied a kneebar. Rousey escaped the hold and they rolled to ringside. Bayley performed a Bayley To Belly into the barricade. [C]
Bayley applied a Bank Statement. Rousey reached the ropes and Bayley showed some frustration. Rousey caught Bayley on the ropes. Bayley punched her off, but Rousey went up again and took her down and applied the armbar for the submission win. After the match, Rousey helped up Bayley and they shook left hands.
Ronda Rousey defeated Bayley in 15:35 to retain the Raw Women’s Championship.
Powell’s POV: A rough night for Rousey with enough of the crowd turning on her that it appeared they sent out Bayley earlier than planned, as Rousey never finished her promo or issued the open challenge. It was tough to tell if she was lost and didn’t know how to react or if she was hoping to wait them out. Either way, Ronda detractors will assume they can get to her, so this will be interesting to watch going forward. There was also the awkward moment during the match before the commercial break with the rough spot in the corner.
Becky Lynch’s music played and the fans went apeshit. Lynch limped to sell her Rumble match injury. A loud “Becky” chant broke out as she stood across from Rousey in the ring. “Look at this, The Man is back on Raw,” Lynch said. She recalled telling Rousey that she’d find her way back to her again. Lynch said she’s been hearing about this baddest woman on the planet.
Lynch said the last time she came to Rousey’s show she dropped Rousey, but Rousey didn’t come looking for her to prove she’s the baddest. “Funny, I’ve come looking for you to prove you’re not,” Lynch said. Another loud “Becky” chant broke out. Lynch said she won the Rumble match and she doesn’t need much time to think unlike Rollins.
“I choose you,” Lynch said. A loud Yes! chant broke out. “And at WrestleMania, I’m going to break your mystique, I’m going to take your title, and I’m going to kick your ass in front of the whole world.” Rousey got a mic and the fans booed. “I want the whole world to hear this,” Rousey said. She said she doesn’t want to just beat Lynch, she wants to beat the best version of Lynch that ever existed.
Rousey said everyone knows she could break Lynch’s face faster than she could say Nia Jax. Rousey said everyone knows she could kill Lynch with her bare hands and the only thing stopping her was her decision not to. She said she and Lynch are the same age. She said that while Lynch was training she was competing in a sport that didn’t even want women in it, let alone in the main event.
Rousey said that while Lynch was on the kickoff show at WrestleMania, she stole the show. She asked how long Lynch has been The Man. “I’ve been a household name for a decade,” Rousey said. “You gotta learn something here, honey, any ring I step into is mine, I own the ground under my feet, and I’m gonna own you at WrestleMania.” Rousey slammed the mic down and Becky mouth the words “we’ll see” before Rousey left the ring as her music played. Lynch remained in the ring and looked to the crowd…
Powell’s POV: Now that was one hell of a segment. I’m sold on the true WrestleMania main event and we’re still in January. Lynch’s promo was strong and Rousey’s comeback was intense to say the least. This is going to be a blast.
Rollins was shown standing backstage thinking when Braun Strowman showed up behind him. “You earned it last night,” Strowman said. They shook hands. Strowman told him to go make the right choice and make it count at WrestleMania… [C]
Cole noted that Phoenix hosts the headquarters for Make A Wish. The kid who Triple H greeted in the crowd was shown arriving at the building for what he thought was a simple tour. People cheered as he arrived and then he was surprised by Sasha Banks and Seth Rollins. He also met Ronda Rousey and Stephanie McMahon. Cole noted that the boy and his family were at Raw…
6. Braun Strowman vs. Drew McIntyre. Strowman sent McIntyre to ringside and followed. Strowman charged McIntyre, who tripped him and sent him into the barricade. [C] They fought at ringside again and Strowman picked up a piece of the ring steps while Cole said he was going for revenge for the arm injury angle. Baron Corbin ran out and hit Strowman from behind for the apparent DQ.
Braun Strowman beat Drew McIntyre by DQ in 6:55.
After the match, Strowman worked over Corbin and McIntyre. He picked up a piece of the steps laid it flat on the ground. Strowman slammed Corbin’s head into the steps, but then McIntyre caught him with a Claymore Kick. McIntyre and Corbin started to leave, then decided to dish out some punishment. The duo performed a double chokeslam onto the ring steps. McIntyre and Corbin celebrated and headed backstage…
Bryan was shown talking to Rowan, then Paul Heyman knocked on Brock Lesnar’s locker room door. Graves said the Rollins decision was next… [C]
Powell’s POV: Please tell me that this isn’t going to lead to Nicholas making his triumphant return as Braun’s tag partner. It was cute once and I don’t really need it to become an annual thing, particularly when a strong heel in McIntyre is involved in the feud.
Cole hyped Sasha Banks and Bayley vs. Alicia Fox and Nikki Cross in an Elimination Chamber qualifying match for next week’s Raw…
The ring announcer tried to introduce Rollins, but Lesnar’s music played instead while Cole said he clearly doesn’t want to wait. Lesnar and Heyman headed to the ring. Heyman took the mic and introduced himself and then Lesnar as the main event of WrestleMania.
Heyman said the premise of the program is absurd because it should be the easiest decision of Rollins’ life. Heyman said the only option for Rollins is to challenge Daniel Bryan and it’s for his own good. He said they would have a great grappling match and put on a sports entertainment clinic. Heyman said the last thing anyone wants to do is get into a fight with Lesnar because it takes a special kind of being to withstand a beating from Lesnar.
Seth Rollins’ music interrupted Heyman and he walked intently to the ring and immediately went nose to nose with a smiling Lesnar. Rollins punched Lesnar and kicked him in his injured abdomen three times. Rollins went for a Stomp, but Lesnar caught him with an F5. Lesnar stood up and smiled. “Once he regains consciousness, Seth Rollins may want to reconsider his options,” Graves said.
Lesnar picked up Rollins and gave him another F5. Rollins got back to his knees and then Lesnar gave him a third F5. Lesnar picked him up again and gave him a fourth F5. Lesnar picked up his title belt, then laid it down and gave Rollins a fifth F5, only this time on the title belt. Lesnar held up his title belt while the crowd booed and Rollins sold. Rollins laid against the ropes and then called out. “Hey, Lesnar, is that all you got?” Lesnar kicked Rollins and gave him a sixth F5 to close the show…
Powell’s POV: I like it. There’s plenty of time for Rollins to officially announce the match, which is obviously happening. Rollins looks like the big underdog right now and if they do this right it will be a great story if he beats Lesnar at WrestleMania. I assume that Lesnar stands tall today, yet Rollins will be the last man standing at WrestleMania.
Overall, this was a strong show. The Rousey and Lynch segment was so damn good. Charlotte Flair needs to face Asuka and stay out of this match because it’s perfect with just the two of them. I will have a lot more to say about Raw in my members’ exclusive audio review coming up shortly.
Check below for the new ProWrestling.net Live with Jason Powell and Will Pruett taking calls on the WWE Royal Rumble and NXT Takeover: Phoenix events.