Date: January 7, 2019
Location: Amway Center in Orlando, FL
The Big Takeaway --
Dean Ambrose retained his IC title in an entertaining falls count anywhere match against Seth Rollins after Bobby Lashley appeared to attack Rollins. Sasha Banks beat Nia Jax and earned a title match against Ronda Rousey at Royal Rumble.
Hulk Hogan returned and did what they advertised, which was pay tribute to Gene Okerlund. (Ric Flair was not on the show.)
Show Recap --
A memorial graphic aired for “Mean” Gene Okerlund and the crowd chanted for him.
They cut to the backstage area, near Gorilla position, where Bobby Lashley and Seth Rollins were in a brawl as wrestlers and officials tried to break them up. The fight spilled out on stage. They were eventually separated as the crowd chanted “burn it down.”
Pretty much immediately after that, John Cena entered. Corey Graves mentioned the passing of Gene Okerlund and announced that Hulk Hogan would return tonight. They also plugged Brock Lesnar and Braun Strowman in a face-to-face, as well as A Moment of Bliss.
Cena said it was the road to WrestleMania and it was time for everyone to step up or step aside, which was why Rollins was so fired up. Cena said he was not stepping aside again and entered himself into the Royal Rumble match. Drew McIntyre interrupted.
McIntyre said he has waited for this moment for years. He said, unlike everyone else, he didn’t care who Cena shared his bed with or about his stupid haircut (which the crowd laughed at). McIntyre cared that Cena was a 16-time champion who main evented multiple WrestleManias, and who Vince McMahon called the greatest of all-time.
McIntyre said he agreed with McMahon--Cena was the greatest of all-time. Cena asked what his point was. McIntyre said he has developed a reputation for taking out the greats, like the Shield, Dolph Ziggler and Kurt Angle. McIntyre called himself the most dangerous man in WWE and was coming for Cena next.
Cena said he was sad, because he has heard this same thing every week and got so sick of it that he had to leave so someone would have enough time to come up with a new promo. Cena asked what made him so different. McIntyre said those guys were all talk but he was going to show Cena why.
Before McIntyre could get in the ring, Lio Rush appeared on the stage ranting about Rollins. Lashley was with him, so Rollins ran out and attacked him. Dean Ambrose ran out and attacked Rollins, so Cena made the save until McIntyre joined in.
Finn Bálor ran out (to his music), attacked McIntyre and took out everyone (Cena and Rollins included) with a flip dive.
6-man tag match: Seth Rollins, Finn Bálor & John Cena defeated Intercontinental Champion Dean Ambrose, Drew McIntyre & Bobby Lashley (w/Lio Rush)
The match started during commercials. Ambrose wrestled in black pants which made it look like he was on a team with Rollins, who wore black tights.
The heels worked over Bálor until he hit Ambrose with a Pelé kick and made the hot tag to Cena, who did his usual comeback. Cena hit Ambrose with the AA, but McIntyre had tagged himself in and hit Cena with a headbutt.
Back from break, the heels worked over Cena, whose new haircut exposes a visible bald spot. Lashley began posing so Cena gave him an AA. Cena went for a tag but Ambrose cut him off. Ambrose drove him into the steel steps and they went to another break.
Back from break, Ambrose had Cena in a headlock. Cena stood up with Ambrose on his back and the crowd cheered as he got close to his corner. Ambrose raked his eyes, then knocked Rollins off the apron. Cena and Ambrose collided with clotheslines, then Bálor made the hot tag.
Bálor ran wild, drove Ambrose into the corner with a dropkick and nailed Coup de Grace. However, McIntyre caught Bálor with a Claymore kick. Bálor tagged in Rollins and the crowd popped big. He ran wild on McIntyre, then hit a moonsault off the turnbuckle to the outside on Ambrose and Lashley. Rollins then gave McIntyre a falcon arrow for a nearfall.
Cena saved Rollins from a reverse Alabama slam and gave McIntyre an AA, Lashley speared Cena, then Rollins superkicked Lashley. Rollins caught McIntyre with a superkick too, but missed a frog splash. Ambrose tagged himself in and went for Dirty Deeds, but Rollins countered into a curb stomp for the pinfall win.
Triple H was shown on the big screen talking to Sasha Banks and Bayley. Rollins was annoyed so he marched to the back. Bálor and Cena high fived some fans. The match went about 20 minutes. The last few minutes were good.
Rollins found Triple H backstage. He knocked the coffee cup out of his hand and demanded a title match with Ambrose tonight. Triple H gave it to him in a falls count anywhere match.
Hulk Hogan was shown walking backstage and he seemed to get a pretty big pop.
They showed tweets from Vince McMahon, Kurt Angle, Steve Austin, The Rock, Triple H, Jim Ross, and Ric Flair honouring Mean Gene. Mike Rome was in the ring and asked the crowd to stand for a ten-bell salute in honour of Okerlund. The crowd chanted “Mean Gene” when it was done.
Hulk Hogan return
Hogan came out to a good reaction. (There might’ve been some booing, but not loud.) Hogan wore a red “Mean Gene - O - Mania” t-shirt. Hogan said he came out in character because that’s what Okerlund would’ve wanted. He said Gene loved entertaining and they aired a terrific tribute video. The crowd chanted for Mean Gene again.
Hogan said he could speak for the WWE universe and superstars and said they all loved Okerlund. He said Okerlund wasn’t there, but he was in Hogan’s heart. The crowd chanted “thank you, Mean Gene.” Hogan put his shades on, pointed at the screen (with Okerlund’s picture up) and yelled, “let me tell you something, Mean Gene.”
He cut a promo, talking about Okerlund in heaven hanging with other greats who have passed along the way. He mentioned Randy Savage, Ultimate Warrior, Roddy Piper, Mr. Perfect, Andre the Giant, Gorilla Monsoon, Bobby Heenan. He then joked that Gene could only choose one between Moolah and Mae Young. Hogan finished with, “Whatcha gonna do when Mean Gene O Mania runs wild on you.”
Lumberjack match: Chad Gable & Bobby Roode defeated The Revival to retain the Tag Team Championship (10:10)
The Ascension, B-Team, Lucha House Party, Heath Slater and Rhyno were the lumberjacks.
Gable and Roode controlled most of the match. Gable gave Scott Dawson a Chaos Theory German suplex, but as soon as he did, Dash Wilder nailed him with a splash off the top. Roode yanked Wilder off the apron as Dawson applied a small package on Gable. Roode pushed them over (the referee couldn’t see) so that Gable pinned Dawson in a small package for the win.
Dawson’s foot was under the bottom rope on the pin, so they complained to the referee. Konnor and Viktor saw what happened and argued on their behalf. The announcers played it up like they got cheated again. The match was fine while it lasted but the crowd was quiet.
They aired a video package for the incoming NXT wrestlers.
Elias was in the ring. He said he wept when he thought about 2018 and how quickly his stardom rose. He said 2018 would be nothing compared to 2019 and announced that he would enter and win the Rumble match.
As much as he’s enjoyed his own successes, he’s enjoyed the failures of Baron Corbin. It wasn’t long ago that Corbin was on top, running Raw into the ground, but now his life was a joke. Elias began performing but was immediately interrupted by Corbin.
Corbin said the fans didn’t understand having a job with the stress-level of running Raw and thought they should respect him. Corbin also announced that he was entering the Rumble match and would win it.
Baron Corbin defeated Elias (9:25)
Corbin wrestled in his dressy GM clothes. Renee Young asked Graves why he would be friends with Corbin, which is a strange thing to ask someone. The crowd chanted “you got fired” as Corbin worked over Elias. Corbin came off the middle rope and Elias caught him with a high knee.
Elias hit a swinging neckbreaker as a handful of fans chanted for CM Punk. Corbin whipped Elias into the corner and Elias had to hold up to avoid hitting the referee. Corbin then launched him shoulder-first into the post and hit End of Days for the clean win. Nothing match.
Ambrose was backstage and began ranting at the camera. He said he never liked 6-man tag matches, which was funny. Ambrose said he lost everything to do what he had to do, bringing balance back to WWE. He wasn’t going to allow Rollins to take his title and would end this tonight. Ambrose said he would burn Rollins down.
Braun Strowman/Brock Lesnar face-to-face
Strowman came out first. He had a microphone, but then handed it back, ripped off his t-shirt and called out Lesnar. Lesnar and Paul Heyman appeared on the screen. Heyman said he knows they’ve spent a lot of money hyping this face-to-face, but Strowman should know the words “card subject to change,” which was in Strowman’s best interest tonight.
Heyman said Strowman didn’t need to thank him and said, “you’re welcome.” Strowman had a mic and called Lesnar “beastie boy.” Strowman called out Lesnar as Heyman mocked his attempts. Strowman tried to bait him by calling him a coward and saying he wouldn’t make it to Rumble if he went face-to-face with him tonight.
Lesnar was amused. He handed his title belt to Heyman and headed toward the stage. Heyman wanted him to leave, but he didn’t listen. Lesnar’s music hit and he came out. Lesnar sauntered around the ring then walked back up the ramp. He smirked as Strowman told him to get in the ring.
Lesnar stood on the stage with Heyman and Strowman said he would be crowned champion at the Rumble. This wasn’t particularly good or interesting. Not sure why Strowman didn’t just go after him.
Ember Moon & Apollo Crews defeated Alicia Fox & Jinder Mahal (w/The Singh Brothers) (1:47)
Crews wiped out Mahal and the Singhs on the outside with a dive, then Moon gave Fox an Eclipse for the quick win. Mahal cut a promo before the match insulting a few of the Orlando fans.
A Moment of Bliss
The chairs and table were set up on the stage instead of the ring. They took full advantage of all the screens. Bliss came out, insulted Orlando, demanded a stagehand bring her a coffee, then played a video package for her guest Ronda Rousey.
Rousey came out and refused to shake Bliss’ hand. Bliss said Rousey has had an exceptional year, so Rousey thanked her (moments after denying her a handshake). The crowd chanted for Rousey. Rousey said she wanted to look ahead and wanted to chase after her limits.
She said there was one woman who has pushed everyone to their limits, has more talent in her pinky finger than Charlotte Flair has in her whole body, has a more harrowing story than Becky Lynch, has more love for this business than Rousey herself, and was the unsung hero of Monday Night Raw--Sasha Banks. The crowd reaction was tepid to that.
Bliss responded, “Sasha Banks? I thought you were talking about me.” That got a laugh out of the crowd. Nia Jax came out, disgusted with what she’s seen so far. Jax said Rollins was getting his title rematch tonight, so she should too (note: she wasn’t the champion).
Banks interrupted. She said she would love to face Rousey for the title. Banks said it would also be her pleasure to show Rousey how to lose with dignity and class. Rousey thought that was funny. Jax got in Banks’ face, called herself a “300.5-ounce Samoan,” threatened to break her face, and told her to get in line.
Banks responded, “Bitch, what line?” Banks challenged her to a match right now with a winner facing Rousey. Jax sat down and said she wasn’t ready. This wasn’t good.
Sasha Banks (w/Bayley) defeated Nia Jax (w/Tamina) to become number one contender for the Women’s Championship (14:11)
Jax press slammed Banks onto an equipment box, which was not a DQ. After a break, Banks made a brief comeback but Jax caught her with a Samoan drop for a two count after Banks got her foot on the rope. Jax hoisted Banks on her shoulders as she sat on the top rope. She then dropped down, causing Banks to land face first on the ropes, which led to a two count.
Tamina tried to go after Banks, so Bayley fought her off and sent her into the barricade. Banks dodged a charge and Jax ran into the post. Banks then used a leg scissors to slam Jax into the apron. Banks then jumped in the ring and applied the crossface and Jax tapped out quickly. Banks will face Rousey at the Rumble for the title.
They aired a couple of promos throughout the show for NXT UK Takeover on Saturday.
Falls Count Anywhere: Dean Ambrose defeated Seth Rollins to retain the Intercontinental Championship (14:58)
Rollins attacked Ambrose during his entrance and the referee called for the match to begin once they entered the ring. It quickly went into the crowd with Rollins all over Ambrose. Rollins continued the attack as the fight spilled to the backstage area.
Rollins tried a powerbomb on top of some equipment cases, but Ambrose countered and slammed him onto the cases instead. Ambrose then chucked a ladder at his face and made a cover for a two count. Commercial break.
During the break, Rollins body slammed Ambrose through the announce table. After the break, it appeared like Ambrose was trying to rip Rollins’ face off. He was unsuccessful. Rollins fought back and hit a dive, jumping off a metal barricade (which separated the 100 level from the floor seats). Rollins then punched Ambrose right in the nose and they made sure to show a replay.
Ambrose managed to grab a chair and hit Rollins with it which led to a two count. It also led to a “we want tables” chant. Ambrose ripped the mats off the floor, exposing the concrete, then hammered away at him before giving him a kiss on the forehead. Ambrose set up for a Dirty Deeds on the concrete, but Rollins gave him a back body drop on the concrete instead.
Ambrose raked Rollins in the eye and went to the top, but Rollins ran up and hit a superplex, floated through into a buckle bomb, followed by a superkick and curb stomp. He had it won, but Bobby Lashley yanked him out of the ring, drove him into the barricade and suplexed him. The crowd chanted “Lashley sucks.”
Back in the ring, Lashley gave Rollins his Dominator variant and a spear. Ambrose crawled over and covered Rollins for the pinfall win. The match was enjoyable. Afterwards, Lio Rush grabbed a table from under the ring, which was actually not cheered. They set up the table in the ring and Lashley put Rollins through it with a spinebuster.
Final Thoughts --
This wasn’t a good show and it was dragged down by a couple of bad talking segments. I did enjoy the main event and the post-match angle. They’ll probably take flak for doing another heavy heat angle at the end of the show, but it did get some steam behind Lashley, and if Rollins really is facing Lesnar at Mania, then taking down Lashley along the way makes sense.