22nd Jan2019

WWE Raw – January 21st 2019: Results & Review

by Nathan Favel

2018-raw-logo

Welcome to this week’s Raw review, right here on Nerdly. I’m Nathan Favel and we have the card before the Royal Rumble, so let’s get down to it.

Match #1: Finn Bálor def. Braun Strowman

The following is courtesy of WWE.com:

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.

My Take: 3.5 out of 5 – Braun did well here for some-body that has been away healing, while Balor proved he can make a match with a big man work as an actual wrestling match, rather than the lumber-yard routine that those kinds of bouts usually are. Balor went for all sorts of great submissions in a match that was all about selling him as capable of running circles around a large, angry man. The match ended with a $#!@ finish, but the finish was incorporated quite well into the action itself, so it didn’t hinder the whole thing like it could have.

Match #2: Bobby Lashley def. Apollo Crews

The following is courtesy of WWE.com:

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.

My Take: 3 out of 5 – This was a lot of fun and they are a great pairing. Actually, I think you could call this a dream match. I wish they were able to go longer, but they had many excellent minutes of action and they were impressive the whole time.

Match #3: Seth Rollins def. Drew McIntyre

The following is courtesy of WWE.com:

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.

My Take: 3.5 out of 5 - This was a furious fight to the finish that delivered what it should have. The action was mean and vicious and…guys and dolls…they’re just a bunch of crazy guys and dolls! This might be a great pairing to head into Wrestlemania with, depending on what both men are scheduled for at the big event. I could go for a few more between these guys.

Match #4: The Lucha House Party def. Jinder Mahal & The Singh Brothers

The following is courtesy of WWE.com:

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.

My Take: 2.5 out of 5 – The match was fine, but it just felt like filler, especially after three excellent matches preceded this one.

Match #5: Baron Corbin def. Elias

The following is courtesy of WWE.com:

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.

My Take: 2 out of 5 – This was about what you might be expected, but they are getting better working together. The action was clunky and chunky, but that was just an excuse to rhyme, anyway. All in all, this was no Ric Flair/Ricky Steamboat classic, but it came and went without any-one dying, so there you go.

Match #6: Heavy Machinery def. The Ascension

The following is courtesy of WWE.com:

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.

My Take: 1.5 out of 5 – Collectively, these guys weigh enough to put a hole through a mile of soil. The match was a grunt and a shove with some of those vibrating plastic football players from that board game mixed together. There…that ought to cover it.

Match #7: Bobby Roode & Chad Gable def. The Revival (Special Guest Referee Curt Hawkins) – Raw Tag Team Championship Match

The following is courtesy of WWE.com:

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.

My Take: 3 out of 5 – This was quite good and it made for some excellent wrestling from two teams who have been screwed over by bad booking too many times to count. Hawkins worked well as a referee, but it seems this is all an angle to build to something else.

Match #8: (Main Event) The Boss ‘N’ Hug Connection def. Raw Women’s Champion Ronda Rousey & Natalya

The following is courtesy of WWE.com:

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.

My Take: 3 out of 5 – This was a bit clumsy because of Ronda, but it still worked all the way through. Natalya was the best of the four here and she really came across as the leader here. The action was the standard pace for this kind of thing, which is just fine. Over-all, this worked well as the end of the card, but I wish the match could have been booked to be more than just a tune-up for Ronda and Sasha.

News Of The Night:

  1. Brock Lesnar attacked Finn Balor during his match with Braun Strowman and ruined the finish.
  2. The “Vince Doesn’t Believe In Finn” angle is still being used for the Universal Title match this Sunday, so that might lead to some-thing big for Finn Balor, either way.
  3. Lacey Evans will wrestle in the Women’s Royal Rumble Match.
  4. Alexa Bliss is back in action and will compete in the Women’s Royal Rumble.
  5. Renee Young was teased as having a heel turn, made quite evident during the tag title match when she thought that The Revival should be able to cheat to win.
  6. Zack Ryder saved Curt Hawkins from being attacked by The Revival, which should be a tease for Ryder and Hawkins to re-unite as a team.
  7. Ronda Rousey cut a nervous yet intense promo on Sasha Banks being spoiled that worked better the faster Ronda talked.

Final Verdict: 3.5/5

This was an excellent show that had lots of strong matches and a focus on what parts of the Royal Rumble event mean the most.

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