Monday Night Raw opened with Braun Strowman talking up winning the WWE Universal title at the Royal Rumble. Baron Corbin interrupted him and Strowman ran him off. Strowman chased Corbin backstage, where Elias told him he was hiding in a limo. Strowman ripped off the limo door to find Vince McMahon.
Vince fined Strowman $100,000 on the spot for damaging his vehicle, and Strowman yelled that the limo isn’t worth that much. McMahon upped the punishment for Strowman, pulling him from his Royal Rumble championship match against Brock Lesnar. Strowman responded by flipping McMahon’s limo.
Sasha Banks and Ronda Rousey defeated Tamina and Nia Jax. Banks tapped out Tamina with the Bank Statement. After the match, Rousey and Banks had issues over who the best in WWE is. As Banks walked back up the entrance ramp, she flashed the Four Horsewomen sign to Rousey.
Jerry “The King” Lawler was shown backstage leaving Vince McMahon’s office.
Bayley and Natalya bickered about the Rousey-Banks issue when the Riott Squad challenged them to find a third partner and face them in a 6-woman tag.
The Revival defeated Lucha House Party (Gran Metalik and Kalisto). Scott Dawson dropped Metalik with a DDT before covering him for the pinfall victory. Metalik got his foot on the rope, but Dash Wilder knocked it off before the referee could see it.
During the match, EC3 showed up backstage as one of the many stars vying for a shot at Lesnar’s title.
Vince McMahon hit the ring and before he could speak, John Cena interrupted him. Cena said he deserves a shot at Lesnar because he has ruthless aggression. Drew McIntyre and Baron Corbin both came out and said they deserved a title match as well. Finn Bálor came to the ring and said Vince never believed in him, but the WWE Universe does. The four men then brawled, and McIntyre was the lone man standing. McMahon announced a Fatal 4-Way match for the No. 1 contender spot later in the evening.
Backstage Jinder Mahal requested his inclusion in the Fatal 4-Way later in the evening, and McMahon told him to pick one of the four men in the main event, and if he beats them, he takes their place in the match. Mahal chose Bálor.
Bayley, Natalya and Nikki Cross defeated the Riott Squad. Bayley hit the diving elbow drop on Liv Morgan for the pinfall.
Backstage, Lacey Evans was shown chatting with the women’s superstars.
Finn Bálor defeated Jinder Mahal to remain in the Fatal 4-Way main event match. Before the match could start, Samir Singh held Bálor’s leg, giving Mahal a cheapshot start to the match. Bálor made his comeback and landed the Coup De Grâce for the pinfall.
Intercontinental Championship match: Bobby Lashley defeated Dean Ambrose (c) and Seth Rollins. Rollins went for the Curb Stomp, but Lio Rush pulled the top rope down. Lashley hit Ambrose with the spear for the pinfall.
Alexa Bliss debuted “Moment of Bliss” with her guest, Paul Heyman. Bliss announced that at the Elimination Chamber, three teams from Raw and three teams from Smackdown would compete for the first women’s tag team titles inside the Elimination Chamber structure. Heyman came out and talked up Raw’s main event and Lesnar’s potential opponents before Otis Dozovic from Heavy Machinery hit the stage and ended the segment abruptly.
No. 1 contender for the WWE Universal Championship match: Finn Bálor Baron Corbin, John Cena, Drew McIntyre. Bálor landed the Coup De Grâce on Cena for the pinfall to earn a title match against Lesnar at the Royal Rumble. After the match, Cena said he believes in Bálor and hugged it out with him.
End of show.
This was easily their best Raw in a long while. It's not that they changed their entire format or anything. They just let one major storyline keep the audience interested throughout the entire show. And that's probably the only way to make a 3-hour Raw show good. Strowman not being cleared is a blessing in disguise for him. He was going to lose at the Royal Rumble, which wasn't going to help his damaged momentum. Now he has avoided that and he was written out of the match in a way that protects him.As an extra bonus to the whole thing, Balor gets the long awaited match with Brock a lot of us were wishing for. On top of that, he gets it by winning 2 matches and by pinning Cena. We've all had legitimate gripes for the way they've booked Finn at times, but they certainly did him justice here. Hopefully the match with Brock will get 10-15 minutes. Say what you will about Brock, but he does relish working with workhorses like AJ, Bryan and Balor.
Photo credit: WWE.com