Monday night marked the first Raw of the year. If the McMahon family really does want to instigate change on the show, then this would be the time to start making it known. They certainly promised us a lot at least. A confrontation between Brock Lesnar and Braun Strowman, the return to Monday nights of John Cena, and Hulk Hogan's first appearance on Raw for almost four years.
After Raw opened with a brawl between Seth Rollins and Bobby Lashley, John Cena didn't make us wait long for his much talked about return to Monday nights. After announcing his entry into the 2019 men's Royal Rumble, he was interrupted by another entrant into the match, Drew McIntyre. The Scot proclaimed that he has been waiting a long time to get his hands on Cena but before he could, the chaos that started the night returned to ringside. Lashley and Rollins battled down the ramp and Dean Ambrose joined the party too. Cena and McIntyre also wound up getting involved, which meant Finn Balor felt the need to interject himself so that the sides were even.
As you might have guessed, since there were six men with three on each side, when we came back from Raw's first break there was a six-man tag match going on. McIntyre did finally have the chance to get his hands on Cena, but the match did not end the way the former NXT Champion likely envisioned. Ambrose thought he had the chance to pick up a win over a weary Rollins but instead ended up getting stomped and pinned himself. A pumped-up Architect then went backstage in search of Triple H to demand an Intercontinental Title match, and that wish was granted.
The wrestling world sadly started off its 2019 with the news that it had lost a legend. 'Mean' Gene Okerlund passed away over the New Year, and this week on Raw was WWE's first real chance to pay tribute to the Hall Of Famer. Not everyone is on board with Hulk Hogan being back under the WWE umbrella, but it's hard to argue with him being the one to pay tribute to a man his career has been synonymous with. After the video package played, it was plain to see that Hogan was fighting back tears. That's why the best thing to do at that point was throw his glasses back on and cut one last interview Mean Gene style.
It likely came as a surprise to many fans that Brock Lesnar and Braun Strowman were booked for a face to face confrontation on Raw this week. The Monster Among Men has not been involved in any real physicality since before his elbow surgery. If he stepped into the ring with The Beast, he would either have to throw hands or receive an F5. Turns out WWE had all that under control in what turned out to be an extremely boring segment. Lesnar started off backstage and eventually made his way to the ring, seemingly to go at it with his Royal Rumble challenger. Instead, he did a lap of the ring and then left. Thrilling.
Alexa Bliss made a little bit more history for the women of WWE on Raw this week. The former Women's Champion became the first female Superstar to have her own talk show, A Moment Of Bliss. Her first guest? Ronda Rousey. The Rowdy One shocked Bliss by saying she wants to defend her title against who she believes is the most deserving woman on Raw, and that women is Sasha Banks. Enter Nia Jax who naturally did not echo that sentiment. After a fair bit of trash talk, Banks came out and challenged Jax to a match with the winner getting a title shot at Royal Rumble. Jax reluctantly accepted and after a typically brutal-looking, in a good way, Banks match, it was The Boss who picked up the win.
The night came to an end with the match Triple H promised Rollins earlier in the evening. A falls count anywhere match for the Intercontinental Title. The Architect really took advantage of the match's stipulation, attacking the champ before he had even made it to the ring. Unfortunately for Rollins, that very same stipulation would be his undoing. With the match basically won, Lashley dragged him from the ring and beat him down. Once he was suitably softened up, he handed him back to Ambrose for the win. With that, the IC Champ is still the same, and it seems as if the Rollins/Ambrose rivalry is now over, at least for the time being.