The January 21, 2019 Edition of RAW is a Professional wrestling television show of the WWE's RAW brand, which took place on January 21, 2019 at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. This was the go home show for the Royal Rumble.
Ready or not, Finn Bálor is facing Brock Lesnar for the Universal Title on Sunday, and the question is: Do you believe? Mr. McMahon doesn’t believe in fairytales, so safe to say he’s out of the Bálor Club. Braun Strowman is looking past the Royal Rumble to give These Hands to whomever is still standing. Lesnar and Paul Heyman are impressed with their upstart challenger, but they’re predicting “martyrdom” all the same.
But Bálor believes. Granted, that’s what happens when you beat John Cena to make it to the dance, but as The Extraordinary Man explained in a show-opening brouhaha, his self-belief was there long before he pinned the G.O.A.T. And it’s unlikely to abate anytime soon, as he promised Strowman he’d succeed where The Monster failed and take the title from Lesnar. That didn’t quite make The Chairman a believer, but it was enough to pique his interest and sanction Bálor vs. Strowman in a match he predicted would be “very interesting.”
For a moment, let’s say that Finn Bálor can defeat Brock Lesnar. How would he do it? The Irishman’s bout with Braun Strowman — something of a show-me match orchestrated by a skeptical Mr. McMahon — gave some clues. As the commentary team suggested, stick and move is the obvious answer, and indeed that strategy paid dividends, as the first-ever Universal Champion whittled his monstrous opponent down to his knees, much to the begrudging admiration of Lesnar at ringside.
He even got to employ that quickness against Lesnar after Strowman tossed Finn into the waiting arms of a suplex-happy Conqueror and instigated a three-way scramble that ended with Bálor blasting Lesnar with a running dropkick into the barricade. Finn rode his hot hand to the cusp of a Coup de Grâce against Strowman, only for Lesnar to roar back with an F-5 to the Irishman, ending the match in a disqualification victory for his challenger. The move had the outward appearance of an overreaction by a Beast looking to mark his territory. But maybe, however narrow, a path to victory exists.
The Intercontinental Championship represents hard-earned validation for Bobby Lashley, but some Superstars aren’t exactly sold on The All-Mighty just yet. Apollo Crews, who narrowly missed out on the title on New Year’s Eve when he challenged then-champion Dean Ambrose, stepped up to the imperious titleholder and goaded his way into a match by mocking Lashley in a pose-down (and atop Lashley’s custom podium, no less).
Crews certainly had the goods to hang with Lashley, flitting around The All-Mighty and even pressing him over his head (albeit briefly, as the effort left Crews with a tweaked lower back). But Lio Rush, as ever, proved to be the equalizer, catching Crews’ attention and setting him up to be bulldozed by a Spear, which Lashley administered while Apollo had The Man of the Hour pressed over his shoulders.
Even then, Lashley found himself upstaged once again: The All-Mighty’s victory celebration was interrupted by Seth Rollins, who locked eyes ominously with the champion as he approached the ring for his match with Drew McIntyre. Seth should tread lightly. If there’s a lesson to be learned from Crews, it’s that you disrespect Lashley at your own risk.
Looking beyond the Royal Rumble for a moment, it might be time to give Seth Rollins serious consideration as a potential Universal Title challenger. True, he’s in the mix with Superstars a lot bigger and stronger than he is, but as The Kingslayer explained in an address that evoked Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., he has one ace in the hole: Bone-deep passion and a burning desire to win the day. And lest you think that’s just a downtrodden former champion trying to talk himself up, Rollins put his money where his mouth was by defeating Drew McIntyre — as dangerous a competitor as there is and a champion-in-waiting by all accounts — on the strength of those very intangibles.
It would take nothing less to topple The Scottish Psychopath, who had Rollins completely and utterly outgunned in the power department. McIntyre made a show of rag-dolling The Kingslayer across and outside the ring in the first half of the match and later again down the stretch after the former WWE Champion fought his way back into the match. Yet Rollins notched kickout after kickout and finally caught McIntyre by rolling him up and stacking himself completely on top of the Scot to make his size count for nothing, and give Rollins' heart the last word.
What can possibly upset Jinder Mahal’s inner peace? Thus far, The Maharaja has kept his cool through defeats, humiliations and a stressful run through the Mixed Match Challenge, but a flash defeat from The Lucha House Party seemed to finally test the patience of the former WWE Champion. The win was especially frustrating since he was teaming with The Singh Brothers, and the speed of Sunil & Samir helped Mahal keep pace with the trifecta of luchadores. But Gran Metalik stunned everybody by notching the pin with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker, leaving The Maharaja fuming at ringside. Kalisto, meanwhile, was all smiles following his team’s win, and good thing too — he’ll need positive vibes when he heads into a Fatal 4-Way for the WWE Cruiserweight Title on Sunday.
Love him or hate him, you have to admit that Baron Corbin is not going gently into the purgatory that has swallowed up many a deposed General Manager. In the wake of his firing, The Lone Wolf has been a persistent thorn in the side of enemies and authority alike, and Elias in particular can’t seem to shake him, despite his best efforts.
Granted, The Living Truth added to Corbin’s humiliation in song (and nearly leveled him with a guitar), but Corbin got the last laugh in the ensuing match. Despite booming chants of “You got fired” from the WWE Universe, The Lone Wolf kept his cool, jabbed Elias in the throat behind the ref’s back, and hit the End of Days for the win. He may have been fired, but Baron Corbin clearly isn’t going anywhere.
For the second straight week, “A Moment of Bliss” played host to an appearance from an NXT veteran, though luckily it was neither member of Heavy Machinery this time. The Superstar in question was Lacey Evans, making her most prominent Raw appearance to date at the end of a contentious confrontation between several previously announced contestants in the Women’s Royal Rumble Match.
The Lady of NXT made her appearance known after almost the entire Women’s division brawled their way from the stage to the locker room area and stole the thunder from Alexa Bliss herself, who announced her return to in-ring competition by throwing her own hat in the Rumble. Looking down her nose at the “nasty, classless little girls” and “sawed-off, little girly runt” at her side, Evans announced her own entry into the contest, promised victory, and, let’s be honest, not a hair was out of place while she did it.
Last week, the WWE Universe got to see what makes Heavy Machinery unique. This week, they got to see what makes them shine. The big bulls got their first taste of in-ring action on Raw in a bout against fellow heavy-hitters The Ascension, and they didn’t waste any time besieging The Wasteland with a deluge of steaks and weights that the former NXT Tag Team Champions were helpless to stop. Heavy Machinery used their own bodies as battering rams in an unorthodox display that culminated in Otis Dozovic’s Caterpillar elbow drop and their tag-team finishing maneuver, the Compactor, which allowed Tucker Knight to score the pin. Who knows where they’ll end up in the long run, but this will certainly be fun.
Despite finagling a Raw Tag Team Championship Match from Mr. McMahon, The Revival missed out on the titles by the narrowest of margins, thanks largely to some shenanigans involving the referee. Sounds familiar, but it’s not: While Dash & Dawson convinced The Chairman they’d fallen short of the tag titles largely due to inattentive officiating, this time they were doomed by a ref who was wise to their tricks.
That would be Curt Hawkins, who Mr. McMahon appointed as the special guest ref as a way to give The Revival an unbiased official and present the Queens native with a potential fresh start after a losing streak that had gotten too long to justify giving him a match. Hawkins was a natural in the stripes, catching not one, not two, but three attempts at chicanery from the “Top Guys” that would have otherwise won them the match. Chad Gable eventually notched the pin on Dawson with a sunset flip roll-up, and no amount of instant replay could convince The Revival they hadn’t been bamboozled.
So, the two-time NXT Tag Team Champions mugged The Prince of Queens mercilessly, leading to a surprise save from none other than Zack Ryder, who bulldozed the “Top Guys” out of the ring and helped Hawkins to his feet. Funnily enough, Ryder and Hawkins were WWE Tag Team Champions back in the day, and while Mr. McMahon slammed one door shut for the beleaguered Superstar, another may have finally opened.
After much consideration, Ronda Rousey would like to clarify: She will not be apologizing to Sasha Banks. Despite the shaky if mutual respect at the outset of their road to the Royal Rumble, a series of escalating confrontations led The Baddest Woman on the Planet to recast The Boss as a resentful also-ran during an interview before the main-event tag team match that pitted Rousey and Natalya against The Boss ‘N’ Hug Connection. Banks retaliated on the mic, saying she earned her title match and claiming that the Raw Women’s Champion has been handed everything since she came to WWE, and The Boss administered as many cheap shots as she could muster once the bell rang.
Infuriating The Baddest Woman on the Planet was a bold strategy, but it seemed to pay off. Banks capitalized on Rousey’s relative inexperience and overt aggression to trap her in the Bank Statement, which Natalya quickly broke up. Rousey, who dubbed herself “The Boss’ Boss” in her pre-match tirade, eventually replied by catching Banks in the Armbar, though the four-time Women’s Champion narrowly escaped the hold by rolling to the ropes. Natalya tagged in and administered the Sharpshooter on a depleted Banks, only for Bayley to break the hold and knock Rousey off the apron, teeing up The Boss to trap The Queen of Harts in the Bank Statement, earning her third consecutive tapout with the signature maneuver.
Lest anyone think tempers would cool after the match ended, rest assured, they did not. Banks held on to the Statement a beat too long for Rousey’s liking, and champion and challenger went nose-to-nose as Raw went off the air, as Bayley, Natalya and the official struggled to keep them apart. Clearly no one will be apologizing come Sunday, but someone will be sorry.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Finn Bálor defeated Braun Strowman by disqualification (7:35)
- Bobby Lashley (w/ Lio Rush) defeated Apollo Crews (2:45)
- Seth Rollins defeated Drew McIntyre (13:55)
- Lucha House Party (Kalisto, Gran Metalik & Lince Dorado) defeated Jinder Mahal & The Singh Brothers (Samir & Sunil Singh) (3:10)
- Baron Corbin defeated Elias
- Heavy Machinery (Tucker Knight & Otis Dozovic) defeated The Ascension (Konnor & Viktor) (2:20)
- Bobby Roode & Chad Gable (c) defeated The Revival (Scott Dawson & Dash Wilder) (w/ Curt Hawkins as Special guest referee) to retain the WWE Raw Tag Team Championship (8:35)
- Boss 'n' Hug Connection (Sasha Banks & Bayley) defeated Natalya & Ronda Rousey by submission (11:45)
Other on-screen talent