Monday Night RAW began this week with a tribute to Martin Luther King since today is Martin Luther King Day in the United States. MLK was given a 10 bell salute. After this, Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman came to the ring. Heyman talked about how Finn Balor pinned John Cena last week. Heyman said that Lesnar trained for Braun Stroman but will be fighting Balor, who is a completely different style. He said that Balor will be a martyr when he faces Lesnar. This was a good promo from Heyman. After Heyman finished his promo, Vince McMahon came out. Vince told Heyman that he should promote the fight as more of a David vs. Goliath story, but doesn’t believe that Finn can actually defeat Brock. Braun Stroman came out shortly after as well.
Of course, McMahon and Stroman are still on bad terms because Stroman flipped his limousine last week. Stroman says that once Brock defends his belt he will be ready to rip him apart like one of Vince’s limos. The talk of the town, Finn Balor, finally came out after this. Finn reminded us that he earned his title match by beating three people last week. After Finn says he will beat Brock Lesnar, Brock left to the ramp. To finally end the segment, Vince booked Braun Stroman vs. Finn Balor for after the break.
This was one of those straining 25-minute openings for RAW. This felt like a step backwards after what was a pretty good opening last week. It’s good that Stroman is still involved in these segments since he is most likely the Wrestlemania program against Lesnar.
Braun Stroman vs. Finn Balor
Brock Lesnar was sitting at ringside for this match. The match was nearing its end when Balor headed to the top rope for the Coup de Grace. Instead, Stroman shoved him off the ropes and sent him to the outside where he was caught and thrown down by Lensar. For some reason, the match didn’t end via DQ, with Balor diving to the outside onto Lesnar on two different occasions, and then reversing Stroman’s momentum for a Coup de Grace. Lesnar came in the ring and landed an F5. The match ended via DQ this time. So, I’m sorry, is Balor so good that he nearly beat Stroman, the original #1 contender, while fighting off the champion Brock Lesnar?
Bobby Lashley’s Championship Celebration
The next segment on RAW was Bobby Lashley’s Intercontinental Championship celebration. Lio Rush wore the title and talked for Lashley. Lashley got on a pedestal and got the championship put on him. His posing session was interrupted by Apollo Crews. Crews was challenged to a pose-off. He took the challenge. Both guys took turns posing, with Apollo’s last pause being broken up by Lashley jumping him. Lashley got taken out of the ring, and then caught Rush, who was thrown.
Bobby Lashley w/ Lio Rush vs. Apollo Crews
After a commercial break, we came back to Lashley versus Crews, which was already underway. As Crews was ahead in the match, Lio Rush got on the apron. Rush was brought into the ring and picked up by Crews. While still holding Rush, Crews got speared by Lashley to end the match. After the match commentator Michael Cole said: “a lot of leeway given by the referee” as if the first match didn’t let a DQ slide.
Seth Rollins vs. Drew McIntyre
Before the next match, it was announced that the Bella Twins will be on Jimmy Fallon on Friday. Seth Rollins was in the ring and talked about how we could learn a lot from Martin Luther King. He someone tied MLK into his own situation. Seth says that the Rumble this weekend will be a longshot, but his whole life has been a longshot. He cut a pretty good promo. I don’t know if comparing himself to Martin Luther King was the best thing to do though. Drew McIntyre came out and cut a promo of his own after. These two fought an already scheduled match after a commercial break. Late in the match, Rollins tried for a Draping Double Stomp but was thrown off the ropes. McIntyre was hit with a Superkick for a two count. Both wrestlers traded chops, with McIntyre winning the exchange because of a headbutt. McIntyre gave Rollins a Samoan Drop off the second rope but Rollins kicked out. He was given a Powerbomb and kicked out again. Wow, McIntyre must be weak. McIntyre picked up Rollins for a Clothesline but Rollins reversed it into a roll-up for the win. Felt odd to finish a move-heavy match like that with a roll-up.
Backstage we saw Vince McMahon talking The Revival and Curt Hawkins. The Revival was asking for a guest referee for a match. Vince decides to make Hawkins the guest referee for The Revival’s match.
Jinder Mahal & The Singh Brothers vs. Lucha House Party
After the break, we saw a promo from Dean Ambrose, who also quoted MLK and then compared the quote to his situation. Our next match was a six-man tag match with The Singh Brothers and Jinder Mahal facing Lucha House Party. I don’t know the last time I saw the brothers compete, but it was a nice surprise. During this match Corey Graves was in full banter mode, telling people that Kalisto’s mask is fused to his head. Gran Metalik pinned a Singh Brother after a Tilt-A-Whirl Backbreaker. Someone was coming in for a pin but seemingly didn’t get there in time, and that was the finish. I think this was a genuine mistake. You could hear a sense of shock in the commentators after this happened. After this, we saw a video package for EC3 and then saw him talking to Dana Brooke backstage.
Elias vs. Baron Corbin
In the next segment, Elias performed in the ring. Before Elias got to perform a song he was cut off by Baron Corbin. Corbin is no longer in a position of power, but this was yet another week where he came out in formal clothing. Elias got Corbin’s mic cut, and then made a song about him. Corbin eventually charged the ring and dodged a swing of a guitar. Corbin put away Elias with an End of Days.
“A Moment of Bliss” Women’s Royal Rumble Edition
We had another “Moment of Bliss” segment this week. Alexa Bliss announced a list of women’s wrestlers who will be in the Rumble. Her guest this week was Nia Jax. Before Nia got a sentence in, Ember Moon came out to say that she would win the rumble. Then came Alicia Fox, Mickie James, The Riott Squad, Nikki Cross and Tamina. Bliss got fed up with all of the run-ins and stood on her chair and listed reasons as to why they shouldn’t brawl. Of course, they all brawled to the backstage. This left just Bliss, who said that the women in the Rumble are passionate. She then announces that she will also be performing in the Royal Rumble match. Lacey Evans came out, took Bliss’ mic and said that she will win the match. “A Moment of Bliss’ goes 0 for 3.
The Ascension vs. Heavy Machinery
The next match was a quick squash match for Heavy Machinery. The team did a pretty cool finishing move. Otis Doszovic did the worm during the match as well.
The Revival vs. Bobby Roode & Chad Gable (WWE RAW Tag Team Championship Match) (Curt Hawkins Guest Referee Match)
The next tag team match was for the tag championship. Roode was on a roll late into this match but got a move reversed into a Crossbody by Hawkins. During a pin attempt, Dawson was pinning down Roode’s feet. Hawkins caught this. During another pin attempt later, Hawkins had his feet on the ropes. Hawkins saw this as well. Dawson reversed a Crossbody into a roll-up but the pinfall was stopped due to Dawson pulling the tights. Gable won off of a roll-up after Hawkins broke up another cheating attempt from The Revival. It looks like Curt Hawkins is the best referee in WWE history. Hawkins was attacked after the match, which made Zack Ryder come out to help out Hawkins.
Ronda Rousey & Natalya vs. Sasha Banks & Bayley
The main event was a four-woman tag match to promote the women’s tag match. Before this match, Ronda cut a promo backstage where it was hard to understand what kind of tone she was trying to convey. The rivalry between Banks and Ronda is the big story in this. Ronda put Banks in an Armbar but Banks rolled to the ropes. Natalya was tagged in and did a Sharpshooter, but Bayley broke it up. Bayley took Ronda off the apron and then got hit with a Clothesline by Natalya. Banks put Natty into a Banks Statement to end the match. This match was lame for the most part but had a pretty good ending sequence.