HEYDORN’S WWE RAW REPORT
JANUARY 21, 2019
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK
AIRED ON USA NETWORK
Announcers: Michael Cole, Corey Graves, Renee Young
-The show began with a tribute video to Martin Luther King Jr.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Just a tremendous tribute video. That’s expected these days from WWE, but this one surpassed typical expectations. Great stuff.
-After the video, Brock Lesnar’s music hit and the Universal Champion made his way to the ring with Paul Heyman at his side. The audience popped big for his appearance. As he walked down, the announce team hyped his upcoming Royal Rumble title match against Finn Balor. When his music stopped, the crowd reacted in 50/50 fashion with half the audience booing and the other half chanting “Suplex City.” From there, Paul Heyman did his standard intro and then addressed Balor becoming the number one contender last week on Raw. Each time he said Finn Balor, the audience cheered and Heyman responded by building Balor up and discussing the fact that Balor beat John Cena clean in the middle of the ring. Heyman continued and said that John Cena and the WWE Universe believe in Finn Balor. Heyman said that he too believes in Finn Balor because Balor seized the moment against John Cena. He then said that Finn Balor would be sacrificed and become a martyr in his defeat at the hands of Brock Lesnar. From there, Heyman said his spoiler for the night was that even miracles like Finn Balor fear Brock Lesnar and that at the Royal Rumble Lesnar would end Balor’s story with a clean 1,2,3 win in the middle of the ring.
Heydorn’s Analysis: I liked that piece of work from Heyman. He was able to build Balor up in a way that legitimized him while not overshadowing the mystique and dominance of Lesnar. That’s an art, and Heyman proved why he is one of the best artists in the game with this.
When Heyman finished, Vince McMahon’s music hit and he walked to the ring to confront Lesnar and Heyman. Once he got there, he grabbed a microphone and said that Heyman had went a bit soft. McMahon said that there was no way Finn Balor could take on Brock Lesnar and that the match is representative of David vs. Goliath. McMahon then ran through that story and said that David in the story was reincarnated as Finn Balor. From there, McMahon said that Balor earned his shot, but that if any of his fans believe that Balor can beat Brock they all believe in fairy tales. During his speech McMahon ran down the OKC audience as hillbillies.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Something was off there for Vince. He seemed like he was struggling to remember lines and it showed. Ultimately, it didn’t totally derail the promo, but certainly didn’t maintain the flow of Heyman’s opening.
From there, Braun Strowman’s music hit to a nice reaction from the crowd. Lesnar laughed at Strowman as Braun walked onto the ring apron. Vince asked him why he was there as the audience chanted “get these hands” and Lesnar taunted him in the ring. Strowman stared Lesnar down before entering the ring. Once he was in there, Strowman said that last week was the worst night of his life due to Corbin ruining his Universal Championship opportunity. Strowman then said that if Lesnar is still champion after the Rumble, he’d rip him apart like one of Vince’s limousines.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Short and sweet is the key for Braun and this hit that note perfectly. Could have even been a bit shorter, but well done.
When Strowman stopped talking, Finn Balor’s music hit to a loud reaction from the crowd. The announce team talked Finn up and said that the Balor Club would need to be out in full force if Balor is to win on Sunday at Royal Rumble. When Balor got to the ring, he called this opening the same old Monday Night Raw. From there, Balor said he beat three other people last week including the greatest of all time, John Cena, to earn his opportunity at Brock Lesnar. Balor then addressed Vince McMahon and said he knows that Vince doesn’t believe he can beat Brock. Balor said that he believes and the Balor Club believes as well. He then said at the Royal Rumble he would beat Brock Lesnar and become Universal Champion once again. Braun Strowman then chimed in and said he didn’t know if Finn could win, but that he’d better win. Balor told Strowman to stay out of his business and then told McMahon the other part of the David vs. Goliath story. He said that Goliath fell and fell face down in the dirt and that nobody was laughing then. McMahon then made a David vs. Goliath match of his own and said that Finn Balor would take on Braun Strowman. He also suggested that Brock Lesnar stay ringside to watch the match. Lesnar walked back to the ring from the ramp and nodded his head in agreement as the show went to break. (c)
Heydorn’s Analysis: I liked this segment until this point. Both Balor and Strowman are supposedly babyfaces. Why force the audience to take sides and possibly dilute their reactions by making them face each other. Especially Balor who has his biggest match to date at the Royal Rumble.
(1) FINN BALOR vs. BRAUN STROWMAN
Out of the commercial break, the match had already begun and Strowman was in control. Quickly, Balor battled back and slapped Strowman in the face. This angered Braun and his response was to beat on Balor with a sledgehammer fist to Balor’s chest. After, Strowman tossed Balor over the top rope. Strowman followed and shoulder tackled Balor into the guardrail before tossing him back into the ring. In the ring, Braun kept up the attack with a series of running splashes in the corner. After, he made a cover, but Balor kicked out at two.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Heavy announcer discussion of Balor as the underdog. He’ll play that role well, but it deviates from the lane that Heyman carved up with his promo. Balor can be an underdog and that extraordinary performer that Heyman talked about. The announce team is abandoning the latter.
Eventually, Balor connected with Sling Blade on the outside of the ring to gain a quick upperhand. The action spilled back into the ring where Balor locked in sleeper hold on Braun. The hold brought Strowman to his knees, but eventually Strowman broke the grip and the hold with his hands. Out of that, Balor elbowed Strowman in the face and then hit his standing double foot stomp. From there, Balor climbed to the top rope, but Strowman caught him and pushed him onto Brock Lesnar. Lesnar caught Balor and suplexed him overhead as the audience booed loudly. After the move, Lesnar climbed onto the apron and stared down Strowman. This allowed Balor to knock Lesnar off the apron and dropkick him into the ring post. Balor then nailed Strowman again and hit Lesnar with an over the top rope dive. After, Balor continued to beat on Lesnar and dropkicked him into the ring barrier. As that happened, Strowman lifted Balor back into the ring and attempted a running shoulder tackle. Balor moved out of the way which sent Strowman crashing into the ring post. From there, Balor hit the Coup De Gras on Strowman and went for the pin, but Lesnar interfered with an F-5 to cause a disqualification.
WINNER: Balor via disqualification
Heydorn’s Analysis: Not a fan of putting Strowman and Balor against each other as babyfaces. That aside though, this worked and it worked because Balor got enough offense in to tease the notion that he could actually hang with and beat Brock Lesnar. He hit his offense in a believable way on both monsters which paints him in a good light heading into the match on Sunday.
-After the match, the announce team plugged upcoming events on the show as Lesnar walked off with Balor and Strowman selling in the ring. The show then went to break. (c)
-Out of the commercial break, the announce team plugged the Royal Rumble and the upcoming Elimination Chamber event where first ever women’s tag team champions would be crowned. From there, Bobby Lashley hit the ring with Lio Rush. As they walked down, a recap video aired that highlighted Lashley winning the Intercontinental Championship last week. After the video, Rush spoke on the microphone and said that Lashley was better than both Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins. Rush called Lashley a fighter and then said that they came out to celebrate. From there, Rush said that the best way to celebrate was for Bobby Lashley to show off his physique. At that point, Rush put the IC title belt around Lashley’s waist as the lights went out and he posed.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Rush hit a note regarding Lashley that has not been hit before. He called him a fighter. In a state of happiness, I almost spit up the beer I was drinking. Then, he went and called for a pose and I went back to rolling my eyes.
As the posing happened, Apollo Crews walked out to interrupt. When Crews got to the ring, he congratulated Lashley on winning the IC title. He then said that nobody in the audience paid their hard earned money to watch Lashley pose, but to compete. Crews then challenged Lashley to a match. Rush stepped in and said that if Crews can beat Lashley in a pose-off, he’d allow the match to happen. Crews said he didn’t know how to pose and Rush responded by saying he didn’t know how to be a champion either. Crews eventually did accept and the pose off happened. In a shocking turn of events, Lashley poses got booed and Crews got cheered. In the end, Lashley attacked Crews during one of his poses to a reaction of boos. Crews got the upperhand though and tossed Lio Rush over the top rope and onto Lashley as the show went to break. (c)
Heydorn’s Analysis: To be fair, the segment is getting a reaction from the live audience. I’ll give it that. Outside of that though, I’m still rolling my eyes. A pose off? C’mon WWE, you had it right with the fighter narrative from Rush regarding Lashley. That is the fast lane to a Bobby Lashley that can main event PPV’s as a heel. Stay there.
(2) APOLLO CREWS vs. BOBBY LASHLEY
After the break, the match was underway with Lashley in control of the match. Crews got the momentum back soon enough and nailed Lashley with a top rope move. Crews then press slammed Lashley and attempted his standing moonsault, but Lashley countered. Instead, Crews hit a step up enziguri on Lashley. As Crews went for a pin, Rush got involved and distracted Crews. From there, Crews chased him around the ring and eventually got speared by Lashley. Lashley then covered and went for the 1,2,3 win.
WINNER: Lashley via pinfall
Heydorn’s Analysis: A nothing match for the most part. Crews looked fine when it was his time, but this existed for Lashley.
-After the match, Seth Rollins walked out to a massive pop. As he confronted Lashley on the ramp, the show went to commercial break. (c)
-Out of the break, Rollins cut a promo in the ring and said that today is a day to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Rollins then quoted Dr. King to a loud reaction from the crowd.
Rollins then addressed his year and said that he is without a title and without a family. He then said that you can’t focus on what you don’t have, but what you do have. He said what he does have is the wrestling business. From there, Rollins said he would go to the Royal Rumble and win it. Rollins said that it was strange to hear that out loud and that it might be a long shot, but that his life was a long shot. Seth then detailed his standard upbringing and said that the only reason he wasn’t just driving a truck was because of “this”. Rollins then said that when the dust settles at the Royal Rumble, there would be one man that goes to WrestleMania and that would be him. When Rollins wrapped up, Drew McIntyre hit the ring with a microphone as well.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Now that’s a babyface promo. Rollins was clear, pulled at the heart strings a bit, and defined his mission for the world to hear. He gave the audience a reason to get behind him and a reason to watch and cheer him on during the Rumble match. Very well done.
McIntyre said that he would beat Rollins tonight, but said that he couldn’t stand by and let him lie to the audience. McIntyre said that Rollins has a zero percent chance of winning the Royal Rumble because of his style. McIntyre said that if you harness the energy of Rollins and put it into a bigger body you’d get Drew “Freaking” McIntyre. Drew then said that he hopes he and Rollins are in the ring together when the Rumble ends so that he could throw Rollins over the top rope and so that Rollins can hear his name called as the winner. The show then went to commercial break. (c)
Heydorn’s Analysis: A perfect heel rebuttal. Rollins set up what victory means to him and the heel McIntyre tears it down. Booking 101. Great stuff.
(3) SETH ROLLINS vs. DREW MCINTYRE
After the break, the match was underway with Rollins in the drivers seat. Rollins connected with offense in the middle of the ring and then dove off of the top rope at Drew, but McIntyre moved out of the way which sent Rollins crashing into the ring barrier. As he did that spot, the announce team discussed whether or not Seth’s style would be a viable style to win the Royal Rumble with. After, McIntyre rolled Rollins into the ring and locked in a submission before going for a cover, but Rollins kicked out at two. From there, McIntyre beat Rollins with a flurry of intense offense including a slam on the outside ring mats as the show went to break. (c)
Heydorn’s Analysis: Interesting that the announce team is playing up the style of Rollins as a reason he may lose the Royal Rumble match. It’s a narrative out of left field, but one that could explain and be used as a crutch for Rollins should he lose on Sunday. It’s WWE, so surely the full Rumble match isn’t planned yet, but something to watch here nonetheless.
After the break, the action continued with Rollins owning full momentum. He nailed McIntyre with a Sling Blade and followed that with a top rope neckbreaker before attempting a pin, but Drew kicked out at two. Out of the pin, Rollins kept momentum and hit Drew with a Falcon Arrow before making a two count pin attempt again. From there, Rollins cued up The Stomp and kicked Drew in the chest before trying to hit it. McIntyre countered which led to Rollins lifting Drew up to the top rope. McIntyre elbowed him off, but Rollins responded with a step up enziguri. Next, after back and forth action that involved top rope spots, Rollins hit McIntyre with a superkick and covered for a two count. The audience loudly chanted “this is awesome.” Out of the pin, Rollins and McIntyre exchanged strikes in the middle of the ring as the audience cheered. In the end, McIntyre got the upperhand after crushing Rollins with a vicious headbutt. After, Drew climbed to the top rope with Rollins on his shoulders. He suplexed Rollins off the top rope and covered for a two count before power bombing Rollins and covering for a second two count. The audience popped huge for the second kick out. After that second cover, Rollins rolled McIntyre up and pinned him 1,2,3 for the victory.
WINNER: Rollins via pinfall
-After the match, Rollins rolled out of the ring and McIntyre stared him down. On commentary, Graves said that there was no way Rollins would be 100% after this match heading into the Royal Rumble.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Really good match on a lot of levels. For one thing, it was incredibly hard hitting and entertaining start to finish. In addition though, it set the tone for Rollins and McIntyre in the Royal Rumble match on Sunday. They have a larger story now and Drew has an added reason to focus on eliminating Rollins.
-The Revival was shown talking to Vince McMahon backstage. They were pleading their case and requested another opportunity at the Raw Tag Team Championships. From there, Curt Hawkins walked up and McMahon immediatley discarded any chance that Hawkins would get a match because he’s lost too many. Instead, McMahon said that Hawkins could referee the Revival’s match. McMahon then walked off as the show went to break. (c)
-Out of the commercial break, Dean Ambrose cut a promo backstage and said that it was an injustice that he was not Intercontinental Champion any longer. He said that he would address that injustice in the Royal Rumble and said that he would dump both Rollins and Lashley over the top rope. From there, he said that 2018 was not his year and that he owes it to himself to win the Royal Rumble. Ambrose finished and said that he owns the road to WrestleMania.
-Back in the ring, Jinder Mahal and the Singh Brothers faced off against the Lucha House Party.
(4) LUCHA HOUSE PARTY vs. JINDER MAHAL & THE SINGH BROTHERS
Out of the gate, the LHP gained momentum, but it was quickly squashed by Mahal and company. Mahal took control, but eventually the LHP made a quick cover on one of the Singh Brothers for the 1,2,3 win.
WINNER: Lucha House Party via pinfall
Heydorn’s Analysis: Strictly a time filler. Period.
-A hype video for EC3 aired. After the video, Dana Brooke talked with EC3 and told him he looked great. From there, Elias walked past him and toward the ring as the show went to break. (c)
-Out of the break, Elias was introduced. He strummed his guitar and then said that 2019 would be an incredible year. He then did his Walk With Elias shtick before cuing up what he called his best song yet. As he was about to play, Baron Corbin interuppted to a chorus of boos. Corbin told the booing audience to shut up and the audience booed even louder. Corbin said that Elias almost got him killed by Braun Strowman last week. He called the audience hillbillies and then said he would walk to the ring and put him in his place. Elias told Corbin that he wasn’t GM anymore and that he could do whatever he wants and that meant playing a song. Elias requested Corbin’s mic be cutoff and then proceeded to sing about Corbin. The song caused the audience to cheer and Corbin to run into the ring. As he did, Elias swung his guitar at him, but he rolled out of the ring. The show then went to commercial break. (c)
Heydorn’s Analysis: Typical Elias stuff. It got a reaction and a loud one, but the gimmick is upper mid card at best until it develops some depth.
(5) ELIAS vs. BARON CORBIN
Out of the break, the action had begun. Corbin decimated Elias with punches as the audience chanted “you got fired” at Baron Corbin. Elias worked to battle back, but was nailed with an Elias clothesline. After the move, Corbin went for the pin, but Elias kicked out at two. Out of the pin, Corbin tried to throw Elias over the top rope, but Elias caught himself on the apron. From there, Elias nailed Corbin with a knee to the face and followed that with a neckbreaker before covering. Corbin kicked out at two and after the kick out, Elias tried to maintain momentum. His momentum was halted though as Corbin connected with End Of Days before covering for the 1,2,3 win. (c)
WINNER: Corbin via pinfall
Heydorn’s Analysis: Corbin needs wins like these to give him credibility as a viable star in the company. As GM, he was treated as one even though the company didn’t put anything tangible behind him to define him as one. His heel reaction is strong though and something is there to build off of.
-Out of the break, Alexa Bliss walked out for A Moment Of Bliss.
The audience cheered Alexa as she welcomed everyone into the show. Bliss plugged the women’s Royal Rumble event and then introduced some of the participants in the match. From there, Bliss introduced her guest, Nia Jax. As Jax walked out, Cole called her the favorite to win the match. Right away, Bliss asked Jax who she would pick to face at WrestleMania if she wins the Royal Rumble. As Jax was about to answer, Ember Moon interuppted. Bliss asked Moon if she was invited to her show and Moon grabbed the microphone from Jax. Moon said that she would win the Royal Rumble. After, Alicia Fox walked out ans said that she was the captain of the women’s division and she would dictate the road to WrestleMania.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Ok, since when does Alicia Fox work a sailor captain gimmick?
Mickie James walked out next and said that she’s stolen the show at WrestleMania before and she’d do it again. After, the women argued and the Riott Squad walked out to join. Alexa then stood on her chair and said that this was her show. She told the women to stop being catty and to calm down. In response, Jax pushed Moon into the other women and the brawl was on. The women battled to the backstage area and left Bliss out on the ramp by herself. She said that that was unexpected. From there, Bliss announced that she would be wrestling in the Royal Rumble match as well. Lacey Evans then walked out and called the women classless. She then said that the winner would be her, a sophisticated and classy lady.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Tremendous debut for Lacey Evans. She was succinct, in line with her character, and different from the “catty” women that Alexa Bliss had on the show. She conveyed a sense of serious star power in that moment. Very well done.
-After the segment, Heavy Machinery was shown walking backstage as the show went to break. (c)
-Out of the break, the Ascension were the in the ring awaiting their opponents. From there, Heavy Machinery walked out for their debut.
(6) HEAVY MACHINERY vs. THE ASCENSION
Otis started things off and hit an overhead airplane spin before tagging Tucker Knight into the match. Knight lost the momentum briefly before hitting a lateral press and tagging Otis in again. They then hit a flurry of double team moves before Otis danced in the ring before hitting an elbow drop. In the end, Knight and Otis hit their trash compactor finish for the 1,2,3 win. (c)
WINNER: Heavy Machinery via pinfall
Heydorn’s Analysis: Effective debut squash. Heavy Machinery has a nice energy about them. To truly advance up the card on Raw, they need additional depth. They found it in NXT and need it on Raw as well.
-After the commercial break, The Revival made their way to the ring for their tag team championship match. From there, Roode and Gable walked out.
(7) THE REVIVAL vs. BOBBY ROODE & CHAD GABLE – WWE Raw Tag Team Championship Match – Curt Hawkins as special guest referee
As soon as Roode and Gable got to the ring, Hawkins rang the bell, and the match began. The action went back and forth to start things off until Gable connected with a top rope clothesline on both Revival members. Next, Roode launched Gable over the top rope and onto Dash. As Gable celebrated, Dawson flattened him with a clothesline as the show went to break. (c)
As the show returned from break, Gable made a hot tag to Bobby Roode. Roode nailed Dash with a back body drop and planted Dawson with a sidewalk slam. From there, Roode nailed Dash with a spinebuster, but Dash rolled out of the ring to avoid a pin. From there, Roode tried to suplex him back in, but Dash countered and landed on top him. Dash then made the cover with Dawson’s help, but Roode kicked out. At that point, the Revival lined up pinfall attempts on Roode and Gable, but each time they cheated and their cheated was caught by Curt Hawkins. Finally, Roode and Gable won the match with a roll up of their own.
WINNER: Roode and Gable via pinfall
-After the match, the Revival argued with Curt Hawkins in the ring. They then beat on Hawkins as the audience booed. Eventually, Zack Ryder made the save and cleared the ring. Then, Ryder helped Hawkins to his feet as the audience cheered.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Man, nothing about that Revival story made sense. It appears that it’s over, so good riddance. At the very end of it, they got some heat for beating up Curt Hawkins. All of that … for that. Go figure. Eye roll.
-Ronda Rousey was interviewed backstage. Rousey said that she’s been trying to find a reason to apologize to Sasha Banks. In the end, Rousey said she decided she didn’t owe Banks anything. Ronda went on to say that Banks didn’t have what it takes and hasn’t shown anything to become champion. From there, Rousey said that the Boss would have to answer to her, the boss of the boss, and that she would walk out of the Royal Rumble as the champion once again.
Heydorn’s Analysis: A little disjointed at times, but authentic too. That’s Ronda Rousey. Loved it.
-Rousey’s music then hit and she walked to the ring with a purpose. As she made her entrance, the announce team plugged Rousey vs. Banks this Sunday at the Royal Rumble. The show then went to commercial break. (c)
(8) SASHA BANKS & BAYLEY vs. RONDA ROUSEY & NATALYA
After the commercials, Natalya was in the ring with Ronda. From there, Sasha Banks made her entrance and Bayley followed. As Banks walked into the ring, Rousey acted angry and yelled at Banks as she posed in the ring. Natalya held her back to prevent a confrontation. Before the match began, Banks grabbed a microphone and addressed Ronda. Banks told Ronda she was a four time champion. She then said that Ronda came in and was handed everything. She said that the world already knows she’s a championship competitor and that she’s earned her opportunity at Ronda’s title. Banks finished by saying that she made Nia Jax tap out and she’d do the same to Ronda at the Royal Rumble. Banks’s words caused Ronda and Banks to be separated in the ring. Nattie calmed Ronda down and Bayley calmed Banks down. From there, the bell rang and the match began. Right out of the gate, Banks dodged Nattie and nailed Rousey off of the apron. Banks then took Nattie down to the mat before tagging Bayley into the match.
Heydorn’s Analysis: That Banks promo was what it was, but the true character of “the boss” showed in Sasha knocking Ronda off the apron to start things off. That is classic Sasha Banks and that attitude is what makes her the star she is. That said, that attitude gets lost a bit when she talks on the mic. It doesn’t click the same way as it does within the physicality of a match.
From there, the action continued, but the show went to a commercial break. (c)
Out of commercials, Ronda Rousey was owning the match and taunted Sasha Banks before tagging Nattie into the match. Nattie worked over Bayley on the outside of the ring and then tossed her inside. From there, Nattie hit a snap suplex before stomping Bayley in the stomach and covering for a two count. Eventually, Bayley made the tag to Banks and Sasha immediatley connected with a knee to Nattie’s face. Right after, Banks went for a cover, but Nattie kicked out. From there, Sasha hit a top rope Meteora before covering again for a two count. In the end, after a Ronda fire up, Bayley knocked Rousey out of the ring and to the floor. With Rousey out of the picture, Banks locked in Bank Statement on Nattie which caused Natalya to tap out.
WINNER: Banks and Bayley via pinfall
-After the match, Rousey checked on Nattie before Banks confronted her in the ring. Both women stood face to face and needed to be separated as the show faded to black.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Fine match, but Ronda looked rusty and mishandled what was to a be a major spot near the end. Ultimately, this feud needed a promo segment between both women instead of a match. Not that they gave away much between Banks and Rousey tonight, but their first time against each other in a ring is a selling point. The promo segment could have ironed out a story better and positioned both women in likable positions heading into the Royal Rumble.
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S REPORT: HEYDORN’S WWE RAW REPORT 1/14: Alt Perspective coverage of the live show including Rollins vs. Ambrose vs. Lashley for the IC title, Rousey and Banks in tag team action, and more