Monday Night RAW was LIVE from the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, OH on 1/23/19!
“The Big Dog” Roman Reigns starts off the show by promising the fans that he’s gonna walk out of the Royal Rumble this Sunday with the Universal Title. He is quickly interrupted by the champ, Kevin Owens, and his best friend, the United States Champion, Chris Jericho. KO says that Roman is delusional and that he’s got an overly active imagination. He then says maybe it’s because he can’t remember what happened last week where he got put through the announce table. KO says he’s the only one that powerbombed Reigns by himself. Reigns says he’s the only one about to get whooped in front of the whole world. Jericho asks if he’s Nostradamus with his predictions. He then compares himself to a piece of salami hanging in the butcher’s shop as it relates to being in the Shark Cage Sunday. He then calls himself a “sexy pinata” once again and he says he’s gonna head down to the ring to knock the pearly whites out of Roman’s mouth. Roman asks if Jericho just gave him a rematch? KO accepts the rematch for Jericho and he says by the end of the night, Roman will be the one in the shark cage. Roman says tonight in Cleveland he’ll win the US strap back and he’ll win the Universal Title on Sunday and he’ll once again be something KO never will be, “the guy”.
Luke Gallows defeats Cesaro via pinfall with a faceplant after a distraction from Karl Anderson at ringside. This was a hot start to Raw as far as the action goes. Enjoyable clash of styles here and both Karl and Sheamus interfered, but it was Anderson, coming back to ringside after leaving the area after Sheamus chased him away, who turned the tides and got his partner the victory. We found out earlier that we’ll have a tag team title match during the kickoff show where two referees will be keeping track of the action.
Sami Zayn shows up backstage where Mick Foley is on the phone with Stephanie McMahon. Sami declares for the Rumble match, but we are told he will have to “earn” his way into the Royal Rumble by defeating Seth Rollins in singles action tonight. There is something we cannot hear that Foley is supposed to tell Seth later on in the evening after he takes Steph off the speaker phone. They head to a commercial break.
We come back from a break where Corey Graves is interviewing Bayley before her women’s title match in a pre-taped segment. Bayley talks about coming up and competing in the indies and she says the word “wow” described her anticipation of the match. We are treated to highlights of her work early on in her career and she talks about her family being attendance this Sunday as she competes for the title. Graves says her attitude is infectious and he asks how she feels to be considered a “role model”. Bayley says she’s just her, she’s just a fan. A superstar pointing at her back in the day made her night and tries to do the same with her fans. She feeds off the energy of the crowd and they make her feel like she can do anything. Graves asks if she can beat Charlotte Flair for the belt. Bayley says she’s gonna walk out of San Antonio with her tassles still being herself.
Seth Rollins is backstage, taping up his fists. Mick Foley walks into the segment and he tells him he and Sami are competing against each other next. Mick explains that if Sami wins the match, he’s in and he’ll take Seth’s spot in the Rumble match. Seth says it’s clear what he’s got to do, he’s got to beat Sami and then go on to win the Rumble and main event Wrestlemania so he can throw it in the face of Steph and her “coward” husband, Triple H. They head to a break.
Sami Zayn defeated Seth Rollins via pinfall with an inside cradle. This was such a match. Signature spots from both men, including Seth’s unusual blockbuster that he does that looks so cool. Sami countered a top rope pedigree attempt into a sunset flip powerbomb and he caught Seth with an inzaguri and then an exploder as he set up for the Helluva kick. Rollins made his escape and then he caught Sami was a pedigree on the apron! What a spot that was. The crowd ate it up. Seth got into the ring only to hear the music of THE GAME, TRIPLE H! Triple H never actually appeared and Sami used the opportunity to catch Seth with a crucially timed inside cradle and a three count. Sami is in the Rumble and as it appears now, Rollins is out?! What a shocker and thus far, this has been a fine Raw. Let’s hope they keep things moving along because right now, they have been quite good.
After the match, they hype the Rumble and the legendary Shawn Michaels being a part of the pre-show. We are then treated to Rumble highlights featuring the tenacity of Michaels as he won the Rumble after going the distance by besting Davey Boy Smith, “The British Bulldog”. That was an amazing ending where only one foot touched the floor. He won the very next year as well to go on to defeat Bret Hart for his first world title. In 1995, he lost a title match to then champion, “Big Daddy Cool” Diesel aka Kevin Nash. They head to another break after the highlights.
Seth Rollins has a confrontation backstage with Mick Foley after the events that just occurred in the ring. He says Steph robbed him of a year of his life and a chance to headline ‘Mania and he’s gonna get to the bottom of things. We then see a video package for the very impressive Mustafa Ali who is apart of the six man Cruiserweight match that takes place next! Austin Aries joins the commentary team and wins our hearts once again!
Mustafa Ali, TJ Perkins and “Gentleman” Jack Gallagher defeated Tony Nese, Drew Gulak and Ariya Daivari via pinfall after Ali hit a reverse 450 splash on Gulak for the pinfall. The crowd wasn’t very into it sadly and that’s because of how they’ve been booking the Cruiserweights since the inception of the division but it doesn’t take away from the sheer athleticism of those involved. Ali is something special and he really impressed during the Cruiserweight Classic. All involved showcased their talent and athleticism but after a brilliant neckbreaker and the reverse 450, Ali secured the victory for his team as we see The New Day heading to the ring backstage before another break.
The New Day are out after the break talking about winning the Rumble, but they are interrupted by Enzo Amore and Big Cass! That’s surprising. The crowd gives them a huge reaction and there’s a massive “How U Doin?” chant. Enzo and Cass say a few words and Big Cass declares himself for the Royal Rumble match before being interrupted by Rusev and Jinder Mahal. Rusev says that he’s had enough of this and he calls Big E. and Cass “big goofs”. He questions why they feel the need to put the word “big” in front of their name. There’s a “USA” chant, but Rusev quickly turns the conversation the way he wants as he says he doesn’t put the word “handsome” in front of his own name because everyone knows he’s handsome. Rusev also declares for the Royal Rumble match. Here comes Titus O’ Neil. The crowd gets as quiet as a church mouse. He enters the ring and Big E. tells him to “hold up sucka!” He says after last week, the New Day was supposed to be done with him. Xavier tells Titus to catch him outside, how bout that? Titus says they don’t have to go outside, Titus got an eight man tag set up. The New Day point out that there’s five of them, but there’s four of them and one of them is Lana! The crowd eats it up. Titus says the fourth person in their match is…BRAAAAAAUN! Wow, Strowman! I didn’t expect that. Could we clock a W for Jinder Mahal as a part of the eight man tag? It takes place after the break.
Braun Strowman/Jinder Mahal/Titus O’Neil/Rusev defeated The New Day/Enzo and Big Cass via pinfall after Strowman hit a running powerslam on Enzo. The match was pretty competitive until Strowman got the tag and then that was pretty much all she wrote. Strowman countered a brief comeback by Enzo after catching him coming off the top with the powerslam. After the victory, we hear Big Show’s music and he comes down to the ring as he and Strowman size one another up. I gotta say, Show is fantastic shape and looks quite fearsome with his frame and he appears to be sitting about 380, give or take a few pounds. Strowman leaves the ring and mouths that he’ll take care of business on his time. He says he does what he wants, how he wants and when he wants. It was nice to see Titus and Jinder get the W on RAW for once, albeit thanks to Strowman handling things. Strowman and Show will certainly be a confrontation we see in the Rumble match.
The commentary team hypes the Rumble match once again and they plug the NXT: Takeover San Antonio show which is going to feature a sensational title bout between current champion, Shinsuke Nakamura and Bobby Roode. That’s going to be a fine match. The Big Show walks up and has some words with the commentary team as they put over his size. They then highlight the events from earlier which led to the match taking place next where Jericho defends the strap in a rematch against Roman Reigns. Interesting, I thought for sure it would be the main event, but I suppose it’ll be something featuring Goldberg heading into the Rumble.
Roman Reigns defeats Chris Jericho via DQ after Kevin Owens interferes in the contest. Outside of one miscommunication between Reigns and Jericho which may or may not have been a botch, this was a pretty good match. Reigns set up for the spear, but Jericho leap frogs only to eat a Superman punch. Kevin Owens, who had been on commentary, causes the DQ and he begins to mug Reigns with hard right hands. The crowd is chanting “Thank You Owens” as it’s a pretty pro-Jericho crowd in Cleveland. KO calls for the shark cage to be lowered and the mugging continues. Owens locks Reigns in the shark cage and Jericho has the key. They never get the cage locked and Reigns slams both the Universal and US Champ into the cage and he locks the champ in the cage instead! Roman is grinning from ear to ear as the cage begins to rise and the Universal Champion takes to the skies, suspended in front of the Cleveland faithful. Jericho tries to hold onto the cage, but he eats a Superman punch. Jericho then eats a spear as his best friend watches from on high, but Jericho still leaves with the US strap.
After the break, we see Chris Jericho helping Kevin Owens out of the shark cage and the two best friends argue and Chris Jericho is frantic about how high the cage is. We find out that now the title match on Sunday is a No DQ match! Jericho will be suspended in the shark cage and it seems that the deck is stacked against Owens. KO says the match should be cancelled and the two slam the cage repeatedly as they make their exit.
They show the other segment that was pre-taped where Corey Graves sat down with the WWE Women’s Champion, Charlotte and she talks about some of her earliest memories including her watching her father dominate over the years while Bayley sat and watched from her couch. Graves questions the privilege that Charlotte grew up with, namely the “one phonecall” that got her into the fed. She isn’t apologetic, she says she could be winning gold medals in volleyball, but instead she’s winning the women’s title. She says Bayley is the lucky one to be there. Charlotte says last week she didn’t want to embarass Bayley and she calls her the heart and soul of NXT, but Charlotte wanted the fans to know who they were supporting. Charlotte says she turned on Bayley when she had the audacity to challenge her and look to her title. Charlotte says once she walks the aisle on Sunday, she’ll hand it confidently to the ref. After the match is over, she’ll see Bayley crying because she’ll still be the franchise player and the Queen of PPV.
Nia Jax defeats Ray Lyn via pinfall in a squash match. As expected, Nia wins in dominating fashion and she gives a post-match eulogy for “The Boss” Sasha Banks, indirectly calling her a has-been. Sasha comes out to confront Nia, and she’s on a crutch. They further that program as Sasha attacks Nia and sends her fleeing to the back before we take a break and then get another Emmalina promo, which at this point is becoming laughable. They need to get her on TV yesterday. The Cruiserweight Champion, Rich Swann heads to the ring for singles action as he prepares to defend the title against Neville this Sunday at the Rumble.
Rich Swann defeats Noam Dar via pinfall with a spinning hook kick. They highlight the events of last week’s 205 Live which led to the pairing of Noam Dar and Alicia Fox, which was inevitable, after she turned on Cedric Alexander. Cedric faces Neville tomorrow night, but we got Rich Swann on top of his game tonight. He nailed a marvelous kick that you could hear in the cheap seats. Dar takes charge finally before a mid-match break, and after the return, Swann has taken charge of the match. There might not be a harder hitting finish right now than his kick and it lands brilliantly, putting Dar down for the three second tan. Swann gets fired up after the match and he calls Neville a “jester” before Neville takes him up on his challenge, making his way down to the ring. Neville opts to leave the ring, but Swann nails him with a topei suicida and Swann lays it on thick, working him over. Neville takes his leave as Swann’s music plays and the champ stands tall!
Cedric Alexander is interviewed backstage. He says he is excited about moving past the Alicia Fox and Noam Dar nonsense. He is excited to beat Neville tomorrow night and move into the title picture. Alicia Fox comes screeching into the scene and Noam Dar asks for forgiveness for stealing Foxxy from him. Cedric says they’re good, but he pushes Dar down for attacking him last week. Fox says he’s jealous and tends to Dar.
Goldberg’s music hits and the former WCW world champion makes his way towards the ring to a grand ovation from the raucous Cleveland crowd. Goldberg slaps hands with the fans including one amazing human being who tore his shirt off afterwards in the grand fashion once employed by “Hollywood” Hogan. That was pretty darn funny. Goldberg makes his way into the ring and begins with “So, Here We Go!”. The “Goldberg” chant is deafening and he thanks the fans and continues. He stumbles over his words and makes light of it due to the overly emotional response. He says he has to win the Rumble for a shot at the Universal Title for a shot at Kevin Owens or Roman Reigns. He says he will stop at nothing to get to ‘Mania, even if that means he has to spear and jackhammer twenty-nine other guys. He says that they are…LADIES AND GENTLEMEN! Paul Heyman, “The Advocate” for “The Beast” Brock Lesnar, comes out and interrupts Goldberg. He says this year’s Rumble is like a winning lottery ticket. He asks for us to imagine the possibilities of competitive dream confrontations that could take place inside the ring. He name drops Lesnar, Strowman, Taker, Orton and others. Lesnar’s music hits and he makes his presence known! The crowd goes bananas as Lesnar stands next to Heyman atop the ramp. Heyman calls Lesnar the instrument of Goldberg’s demise. He says Goldberg will be beaten, victimized, emasculated and conquered. And then, and only then, he’ll be tossed over the top rope and eliminated and Lesnar will be the man to do it. Brock “The Subjugator” will be the one to do it. Goldberg interrupts him and calls Lesnar to the ring, he’s sick of the talking. The two legends stand face to face and we hear the gong! THE DEADMAN APPEARS! All three behemoths stand in the ring to a massive holy four letter word chant as the show goes off the air! Now THAT is how you hype a PPV and what a fine RAW tonight! No complaints here!