A new year and a new Raw. Well, at least that's what we were hoping for. Not only is the first Raw of the year the perfect time to try and instigate change, but it also marks the time of year when WWE starts building towards WrestleMania season. The Royal Rumble is now less than three weeks away, so now is the time for the build to really begin, and that it did on Monday night.
Superstars Gotta Earn Those Rematches
A few weeks have now passed since the McMahon family returned to television and took back control of Raw and SmackDown Live. One of the things they continue to hammer home is that contractually obligated rematches are a thing of the past. Triple H made that abundantly clear to Seth Rollins last week, informing him he would have to earn a shot at Dean Ambrose. That's why The Architect was infuriated when he looked up to see The Game wasn't even watching when he defeated Ambrose in six-man tag action on Raw this week. With that, he stormed backstage, hit The Game's coffee out of his hand, and demanded an Intercontinental Title match. Surprisingly, Triple H obliged.
We Miss You Already Mean Gene
2019 kicked off in the worst possible way for wrestling fans. 'Mean' Gene Okerlund, a man who has been ever-present in the wrestling business for more than 40 years, passed away at the age of 76. On Raw, WWE quite rightly paid tribute to the most iconic announcer the business has ever seen. No one had more memorable moments with Gene than Hulk Hogan, so it was fitting that The Hulkster was the one to honor the late Hall Of Famer. After the video package played, just like the rest of us Hogan was struggling to fight back tears. With that, he spoke those iconic words one last time, "let me tell you something Mean Gene," and proceeded to act as if his good friend was interviewing him one last time.
So Much For The Face To Face
One of the biggest moments we were promised on Raw this week was a face to face showdown between Brock Lesnar and Braun Strowman. The two men will face off for the Universal Title at Royal Rumble. The segment started with The Beast backstage while The Monster was in the ring. Despite Strowman's promo not exactly being the greatest of all time, he did eventually coax Lesnar to the ring. The champ wasn't provoked enough to step between the ropes, though. We're assuming that physicality is still off the cards between the two at the moment as Strowman's elbow hasn't completely healed. We guess it was sort of a face to face as you can see above, but was it really worth the money WWE would have to have paid Lesnar to show up?
We Remember This Sasha Banks
A lot of the women currently in WWE rightfully get credit for how far the division has come. Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, Ronda Rousey. However, how much work Sasha Banks did to elevate herself and her peers is often overlooked. Her iconic rivalry with Flair on Raw was one of the best in recent history. On Raw this week, during a match with Nia Jax, we were reminded just how good The Boss can be. Her smaller, athletic frame allows her to take brutal looking bumps without injuring herself, something she did a lot of on Monday. Plus, the cherry on the cake, her win over Jax means she will face Rousey for the title at Royal Rumble.
Raw Ends In The Same Way It Began
As mentioned above, Triple H booked Rollins and Ambrose in a title match for Raw's main event. What we didn't mention is The Game made it a falls count anywhere match. That led to the two of them battling all around ringside, backstage, and through the WWE Universe. With a stomp to Ambrose back in the ring, Rollins looked to have the match won. That was until Bobby Lashley showed up, dragged him out of the ring, and softened him up for the man who remains Intercontinental Champion. Raw went on the air with Rollins and Lashley brawling, and that's exactly how it ended too.