Date: January 14, 2019
Location: FedExForum in Memphis, TN
The Big Takeaway --
Finn Bálor pinned John Cena in a fatal four way match to become number one contender for the Universal title. Bálor will face Brock Lesnar at the Royal Rumble. Bálor worked double duty, beating Jinder Mahal earlier in the show to retain his spot in the four way. The story is that Vince McMahon doesn’t believe a guy like Bálor can beat Lesnar.
McMahon stripped Braun Strowman of his opportunity at the beginning of the show after Strowman damaged his limousine.
Bobby Lashley is the new Intercontinental champion after beating Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins in a triple threat. Also, the new Women’s tag titles will be decided inside Elimination Chamber next month, with teams from Raw and Smackdown competing.
Finally, Nikki Cross, EC3, Lacey Evans and Heavy Machinery all “debuted” tonight. They’ll all be competing on Raw and Smackdown until they are eventually signed to either brand. With the exception of Cross, they each debuted in the most hamfisted manner possible. See more below.
Show Recap --
Vince McMahon was shown arriving at the building in a limousine. McMahon rolled his eyes at his driver, then made him wipe off a smudge from the car.
Braun Strowman came out to start the show. The crowd chanted “get these hands.” Strowman said Brock Lesnar has always been afraid of him. He claimed Lesnar was always looking over his shoulder when he was Mr. Money in the Bank, interfered in his Universal title shot, and had Baron Corbin attack him before their previous match together.
Strowman warned Lesnar that he was all healed up and Corbin was no longer in the picture. Strowman said he would win the title at Chase Field and Lesnar would get these hands. Corbin interrupted. Strowman led the crowd in a “you got fired” chant.
Corbin said he would take as long as he wanted, and if it took him five minutes, that would be longer than Strowman lasted against Lesnar. Corbin said everyone knew that Strowman couldn’t beat Lesnar. Corbin said he would win the Rumble and go on to main event WrestleMania, something Strowman would never do. Strowman chased after him into the backstage area.
He ran into the Singh brothers who couldn’t agree on where Corbin went, so Strowman tossed Sunil over a table where people were eating. Strowman saw McMahon’s limo, then stormed off in the other direction. Elias happened to be nearby and began singing, basically about how he knew where Corbin was. The crowd was amused. Elias said Corbin was hiding in the limo.
Strowman was listening to Elias, so he marched toward the limo and kicked the side mirror off, then yanked the driver out of the car. The rear door wouldn’t open, so he smashed the window with a pipe. Corbin was, in fact, in the limo, pleading for his life. Corbin escaped the limo and Strowman told him to run, so he did.
Strowman turned around and McMahon was right there, visibly pissed about the limo. McMahon sized up the damage as they went to commercial.
After the break, Strowman tried picking up the car door and putting it back in place, which was funny. McMahon called Strowman an animal, a human wrecking ball, and a danger zone. He fined Strowman $100,000. Strowman said the piece of crap limo wasn’t worth that much. McMahon didn’t appreciate him raising his voice, so he cancelled Strowman’s match with Lesnar at the Rumble.
After McMahon left, Strowman huffed and puffed and flipped the limo over, then roared and walked off.
They cut to the announcers who said flipping the limo wouldn’t help his case, then Corey Graves wondered who Strowman’s replacement would be.
After a commercial break, Strowman was shown being escorted from the building. Corbin laughed and Renee Young put the blame for all of this on him.
Women’s Champion Ronda Rousey & Sasha Banks defeated Nia Jax & Tamina (10:11)
Banks and Jax worked together first, which did not look good. Banks tagged in Rousey, who almost got Tamina in an armbar but Jax pulled her out of the ring. They did a lot of stalling until Banks took out Jax with double knees off the apron (which happened as they were showing a replay), then went to break.
Jax had Banks in a bearhug, then countered a hurricanrana into a powerbomb. Jax applied a rest hold, then they did an inset commercial for a movie. It was already about the fourth time the movie has been mentioned and we’re only 30 minutes into the show.
Banks fought back and used a side Russian legsweep into a crossface on Tamina for the submission win. So Rousey never got a hot tag. I actually wished they did this more often. Cole reminded us that Banks has a dangerous submission just like Rousey.
Charly Caruso interviewed them afterwards. Rousey was looking forward to facing Banks and beating her would be right up there with her greatest accomplishments. Banks was offended that Rousey has already pegged her as an accomplishment. Rousey said she didn’t mean anything by it, but reiterated that she would tap-out Banks.
Banks said she wasn’t the only one with a submission, just ask Jax and Tamina. Rousey said Banks could keep the title of being the world’s classiest loser. Banks said she would make Rousey tap-out at the Rumble. Banks began leaving up the ramp, then Rousey chased after her to reason with her. Banks didn’t want to hear it and left.
Heath Slater, Rhyno, Bo Dallas, Curtis Axel, Curt Hawkins and Apollo Crews were shown waiting outside McMahon’s office. The announcers speculated that they all wanted a match with Lesnar. Dasha Fuentes was also there with a microphone. Jerry Lawler came out of the office and got a pop here in Memphis. No Way Jose and his friends then danced by.
Elsewhere, Banks and Rousey argued as Natalya and Bayley trying to calm them down. Rousey and Banks left, then Natalya and Bayley argued on behalf of their friends. The Riott Squad showed up. Ruby said they were happy to take a bad situation and make it worse, so she challenged them to a six-woman tag, assuming they could find a partner. Natalya accepted.
The Revival defeated Kalisto & Gran Metalik (w/Lince Dorado) (4:11)
Before the match, Revival said Lucha House Party would pay for doing nothing last week when they just stood by and watched as they got screwed in their title match. During the match, they did a split screen and cut to Fuentes who interviewed various wrestlers who wanted to face Lesnar.
Crews made his case, then Hawkins made his. Hawkins said it could be the Beast Incarnate vs. The Streak. He asked Fuentes, “you feel me?” She responded, “not really.” EC3 then showed up, smiled and nodded at Fuentes, then just left without saying anything. That was his Raw debut. A few others made their cases, then they went back to the match.
Scott Dawson gave Metalik a DDT and went for a cover. Metalik got his foot on the rope, but Dash Wilder pushed it off and the referee counted to three. Revival won.
Backstage, Fuentes stuck the microphone in McMahon’s face and didn’t actually ask him a question. He mocked her, then said he would make his announcement in the ring.
Vince McMahon’s announcement
McMahon came to the ring. Before he could say anything, John Cena came out. He said we all knew why McMahon was out there and wanted to save him the time. Cena wouldn’t a chance. He recalled a long time ago when everyone left McMahon -- Austin left, Rock left, Lesnar left. Cena said McMahon looked at a roster of rejects and misfits and wanted someone to step up.
Cena said he got in McMahon’s face back then and stepped up. He’s missed birthdays, weddings, and funerals, but he wasn’t complaining, because he loved what he did. He asked McMahon for another chance because, unlike everyone else, he had ruthless aggression.
Drew McIntyre interrupted. He didn’t care if Cena wanted to talk about his movies or whatever book he’s writing but asked Cena how he could dare say he has ruthless aggression and told McMahon that he is what ruthless aggression looked like. He said Cena’s time was up and his time was now, and just like Austin, Rock and Lesnar, Cena can leave.
Corbin interrupted. He hinted at possibly threatening legal action because of what happened earlier, and said it would be best for everyone if he was given the match.
Finn Bálor came out and said he was tired of being left out of these conversations. Bálor reminded everyone that he was the only one out there who has actually been Universal champion. McMahon said maybe he would be again one day, but “there’s a lot of beef out here.” McMahon put over Bálor as a great competitor, but wasn’t convinced.
Bálor said we know McMahon hasn’t always believed in him but the fans did. They cheered. Bálor said he would show McMahon, then attacked Corbin. He took out Corbin, then McIntyre took out Cena. McIntyre then wiped Bálor with a Claymore kick. McMahon liked what he saw and made a fatal four way with the winner facing Lesnar.
After a break, Jinder Mahal approached McMahon and complimented his suit. He said he would’ve come out the ring to make his case but he was busy tending to Sunil Singh. He also noted that we were robbed of Mahal vs. Lesnar last year.
McMahon said he could face one of the four men in the fatal four way, and if he won, he would take their place. (Actually, he said Mahal would take their place at the Rumble, but I assume he meant take their place tonight.) Mahal picked Bálor.
Six-woman tag match: Bayley, Natalya & Nikki Cross defeated The Riott Squad (11:32)
Cole said that the incoming NXT wrestlers would be competing on Raw and Smackdown in the coming weeks before officially signing to either brand.
Nikki Cross paced around on the apron before tagging in to start the match. She then tried to take on all three Riott Squad members, which didn’t work out well. Natalya and Bayley saved her with baseball slides on the heels. Cross had crawled under the ring, then reappeared to grab Ruby by the leg, then dragged her between the ring and the skirt and clubbed away at her.
After a break, the heels had the heat on Bayley. After a while, Natalya tagged in and hit Sarah Logan with a dropkick, German suplex, discus clothesline and facebuster, but Ruby broke up the cover. Bayley then took out Ruby. Liv Morgan tagged in and gave Natalya a hurricanrana but Cross broke up the cover.
Cross tagged in and did a Hart Attack with Natalya. Eventually, she used an elevated swinging neckbreaker on Morgan and tagged in Bayley who hit a flying elbow drop for the win. They tried to do too much near the end of the match and the crowd was quiet.
Bálor walked backstage and walked by Lacey Evans who was speaking with Dana Brooke and Mickie James.
Dean Ambrose said tonight was the old story of right vs. wrong. Ambrose said he was right all the time about everything and it was wrong that he had to defend his title against two guys. He thought it was especially wrong he had to defend his title in Memphis. He said nobody, especially Rollins, would take his championship.
Finn Bálor defeated Jinder Mahal (w/Samir Singh) (9:28)
Mahal attacked Bálor during his entrance. Mahal demanded the referee start the match with Bálor down. The ref checked on Bálor who slowly got to his feet and told him to start the match. The match started and Mahal immediately caught him with a kick for a two count. Mahal controlled the match through a break.
Mahal had Bálor in a chinlock as the crowd chanted “let’s go Bálor.” Bálor came back using forearm strikes and double foot stomp. He dropkicked Samir off the apron, tossed Mahal to the outside, and wiped out both guys with a flip dive. Bálor followed with a sling blade, running dropkick and Coup de Grace for the win. Bálor keeps his spot in the fatal four way.
During the match, Cole said Bálor has been working for two years or so to get another match for the Universal title. Of course, Bálor lost to Roman Reigns in a title match on Raw back in August last year.
Lio Rush said it was time for others to suffer, and that includes Ambrose and Rollins. He said Bobby Lashley was the champion we needed, because he was a fighter, and he would become IC champion whether we like it or not.
Triple Threat match: Bobby Lashley (w/Lio Rush) defeated Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins to win the Intercontinental Championship (13:10)
Before the match, Rollins told Caruso that his brother Roman Reigns had the courage to tell the world about his battle with leukemia and he and Ambrose embraced him, telling him he didn’t have to fight it alone. But Ambrose betrayed that embrace later that night and destroyed six years of friendship (except for all that time they weren’t friends). He said some other stuff and went to the ring.
Also prior to the match, Young complained about Lashley being added to this match. There was a funny moment later where Cole read an ad for a new sponsor, Golden Crisp cereal, and the ad included verbiage about their Sugar Bear mascot. Graves then asked if (Renee’s) sugar bear could retain his title tonight and chuckled.
Ambrose and Rollins both wore black pants again, which looks weird. Ambrose wanted to work with Rollins at the start. Rollins pretended to oblige, then tossed Ambrose from the ring. Ambrose then formed a union with Lashley. Rollins fought them off, but Lashley killed him with a spinebuster and Ambrose kicked Lashley out of the ring before he could go for a cover.
Rollins later nailed both men with a suicide dive. Rush interfered, so Rollins chased after him but ate another spinebuster from Lashley, this time on the outside.
After a break, Rollins and Ambrose worked together to take out Lashley. Initially, they seemed to be operating independently, then they teamed up to clothesline up out the ring. They then grabbed the steel steps and knocked down Lashley.
Back in the ring, Ambrose and Rollins went at it, trading fists and chops. Rollins hit a falcon arrow but Rush broke up the cover. Rollins chased after Rush, then Ambrose inadvertently knocked Rush out of the ring. Rollins superkicked Ambrose, then Lashley tossed Rollins from the ring and covered Ambrose for a near fall.
Ambrose poked Lashley in the eye, then Rollins took out Ambrose and followed with a frog splash on Lashley. Ambrose tossed Rollins from the ring and covered Lashley for a near fall.
Rollins went to the top, but Lashley got him on his shoulders. Ambrose clotheslined Rollins, but Rollins landed on his feet and hit superkicks to both men. However, Rush dropped the top rope on Rollins who fell out of the ring. Lashley then speared Ambrose for the pinfall win. For the first time, Lashley is the Intercontinental champion. Lashley was pumped.
A stagehand knocked on Alexa Bliss’ locker room door and let her know he had her latte. She didn’t answer, so he knocked again. Still no answer. He thought this meant it was a good idea to go in, so he opened the door and let her know he was entering. Of course, she was standing there topless (holding a shirt over her breasts). He closed his eyes and started stammering. She told him to leave.
A Moment of Bliss with guest Paul Heyman
Bliss announced that the new Women’s tag team champions would be decided inside Elimination Chamber next month in Houston, with three teams from Raw and three from Smackdown. She unveiled the title belts, which had gold and silver plates on a white strap.
She then introduced Heyman. Heyman ran down Lesnar’s potential opponents. He said Suplex City was built on the carcass of hustle, loyalty and respect. He put over McIntyre and said he would be Universal champion one day, just not yet. He began talking about Corbin when Otis Dozovic wandered out onto the stage.
Bliss told him this wasn’t “A Moment of Otis.” He rambled incoherently until Tucker Knight ran out to grab him and apologize to Bliss. The segment just sort of ended after that with Heyman and Bliss looking confused. Heyman never got to Bálor.
Fatal Four Way match: Finn Bálor defeated John Cena, Baron Corbin and Drew McIntyre to become number one contender for the Universal Championship (18:39)
Corbin gave Bálor a backbreaker and they went to commercial 40 seconds into the match.
Cena gave McIntyre an AA but Corbin barely broke up the cover. Bálor and Cena then gave Corbin a suplex. With Corbin sitting on the top, Cena and Bálor were going to double team him again, but McIntyre powerbombed them both off the ropes. McIntyre then flipped Corbin off the top. McIntyre set up for the Claymore kick and… they went to commercial.
Back from break, it turns out the match didn’t end with a Claymore kick. Corbin gave Bálor an End of Days but McIntyre broke up the cover. Cena came off the turnbuckle but McIntyre caught him with a powerbomb. McIntyre worked over Cena and Corbin worked over Bálor. The babyfaces each made comebacks at the same time.
Bálor went after Cena, hit a dropkick and went to the top, but Cena fought him off and gave him an AA off the middle rope. Corbin shoved Cena out of the ring and went for a cover but Bálor kicked out. Corbin grabbed a steel chair and nailed both Cena and McIntyre on the outside. Corbin then attacked Bálor with the chair and went for a cover but Cena broke it up.
Cena dodged a chair shot and hit Corbin with an AA. McIntyre took out Cena with a Claymore kick, then Bálor took out McIntyre with a DDT. Bálor then Cana with Coup de Grace for the pinfall win.
After the match, Cena grabbed the mic. He said McMahon may not believe in Bálor but the people did and “you got one more person that believes in you.” He told Bálor to give Lesnar hell at the Rumble and shook his hand. They hugged and Cena raised his hand. Bálor celebrated as the show ended.