Seth Rollins, John Cena and Finn Balor def. Intercontinental Champion Dean Ambrose, Drew McIntyre and Bobby Lashley
I'm sure it was an attempt by WWE to switch things up from the stagnant status quo on Raw, but I really liked the brawl that opened the show. The fact it was joined in progress felt different, and then the verbal back-and-forth between Cena and McIntyre breaking down into a six-man tag team match was well done. They were given a ton of time and the in-ring action was entertaining, eating up almost the entire first hour of Raw in the process. I was hoping Cena would do the honors for McIntyre based off their interaction beforehand, but it ended up being about Rollins pinning Ambrose to earn another title shot.
Hulk Hogan Paid Tribute to "Mean" Gene Okerlund
It's amazing how fondly Okerlund was remembered by wrestlers and fans alike in the days following his passing, and rightfully so because the legacy he leaves behind is massive. Of course, you can't properly do a tribute to Okerlund without Hogan. Regardless of what your personal feelings are toward Hogan, he was needed in this segment and I thought he was fine here and didn't overstay his welcome. For those wondering, he was largely well-received by the crowd with only a handful of fans booing him.
Raw Tag Team Champions Bobby Roode and Chad Gable def. The Revival in a Lumerback Match
I hate the Lumberjack stipulation because it rarely ever adds to the match going on inside the ring. If anything, it invites interference from the wrestlers around ringside, in addition to serving as a reminder of how sad of a state the Raw tag team division is in at the moment. Otherwise, this was a very well-wrestled match with a fun pace. It's a just a shame the crowd was as quiet as they were. I wasn't a fan of the fluky finish. Yes, it sets up another rematch between the two teams, but what was the point of this in that case?
Baron Corbin def. Elias
Elias has been riding a wave of momentum lately with back-to-back wins over Bobby Lashley, so I was surprised to see him lose to Corbin so decisively here. I guess Corbin needed the victory more because he could desperately use the credibility, but it was still a questionable decision, nonetheless. We'll see where it leads, but I'm sure Elias will eventually avenge the loss.
Braun Strowman Called Out Universal Champion Brock Lesnar
This segment was advertised one week in advance, and it should be noted that this marked Lesnar's first appearance on WWE TV since Survivor Series two months ago. Unfortunately, this fell flat and should have felt like a way bigger deal than it did. Strowman's lines were beyond scripted and came off horribly, while Lesnar doing nothing of note whatsoever was disappointing. I can't believe this feud has been as abysmal as it has been, but leave it to WWE to take something with a minimal amount of promise and squander it completely.
Apollo Crews and Ember Moon def. Jinder Mahal and Alicia Fox
I was curious coming off Crews' victory in last week's "Fresh Start" Battle Royal whether WWE would continue to push him in singles competition, and it looks like that just might be happening. Mahal and Fox are apparently still a thing for some reason and neither of them do anything for me in the slightest, but at the very least, this was brief and painless and the right duo went over.
Alexa Bliss Hosted The Moment of Bliss with Raw Women's Champion Ronda Rousey
I read recently that Bliss was medically cleared to compete, but I'm not 100 percent sure whether that was ever confirmed. Either way, it would be a bummer if she had to miss the women's Royal Rumble match for the second year in a row. At any rate, this wasn't as terrible as I thought it would be and did its job in setting up Sasha Banks vs. Nia Jax in a Raw Women's Championship No. 1 Contender's match. I'd be content with The Moment of Bliss becoming a recurring segment on Raw if they go as well as this one did.
Sasha Banks def. Nia Jax in a Raw Women's Championship No. 1 Contender's Match
I know it's been a while since Banks and Jax last did battle one-on-one, but I feel like I've seen this match countless times over the past two years. It doesn't help that they don't have much chemistry together, as this dragged on and on and wasn't the smoothest outing. Throw in a dead crowd and this was a total disaster. On the bright side, we're getting Rousey vs. Banks at the Royal Rumble, and I'm extremely excited for that first-ever-ever encounter.
Intercontinental Champion Dean Ambrose def. Seth Rollins in a Falls Count Anywhere Match
After what happened at the start of the show, Triple H granted Rollins his rightful rematch for the Intercontinental Championship later on in the night and declared it would be contested under the Falls Count Anywhere rules. They took full advantage of the stipulation and brawled all over the arena, which was cool. It was well on its way to becoming an excellent main event before Lashley's interference. That was an underwhelming ending to the evening, and worse yet, it accomplished nothing. I assume Rollins vs. Ambrose is over for the meantime, though.
Raw kicked off 2019 with all guns blazing by producing a terrific first hour. The rest of the show then fell off a cliff and nothing seemed to hold my interest as much with certain segments delivering more than others. On the whole, despite everything that was advertised and WWE loading this show up with plenty of star power and two title matches, this wasn't a super strong edition of Raw. It was better than some of those atrocities from late last year, but WWE really needs to start hitting it out of the park come WrestleMania season if they want ratings to improve.
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