WWE viewership was actually up this week! Fans are tuning back in to watch the rise of new stars, new champs, and new titles. We saw some big changes in what’s happening at the Royal Rumble too. Here’s our recap and the results of WWE Raw, SmackDown, and NXT for the week of January 14th through 16th.
Monday Night Raw – January 14th
Braun Strowman flipped Vince McMahon’s limo and gets removed from Royal Rumble match. Well, we haven’t seen anybody’s car get destroyed lately, so this was a solid way to intro the show. Braun Strowman opened things by hyping his match with Brock Lesnar at the Royal Rumble and talking about how he’s going to dominate. He thinks Lesnar is afraid of him and promised that the Beast would “get these hands.” Baron Corbin appeared to tell Lesnar to stop disappointing the fans because he can’t beat Lesnar. In fact, Corbin said he’d win the Royal Rumble to become the main event at Wrestlemania.
Strowman chased him backstage, trampling the Singhs on the way, and learned Corbin’s location from a little diddy by Elias: the former general manager was locked in Vince McMahon’s limo. The Monster Among Men tossed aside the limo driver, used a lead pipe on the window, and pulled off the door as Corbin exited from the other side of the car and ran off. A super angry McMahon showed up and said that this nonsense would cost him $100,000 to fix as Strowman unsuccessfully tried to reattach the door. McMahon then said Strowman would be thrown out of the Royal Rumble match due to his actions… so naturally, Strowman flipped the limo. He was escorted off by security as Corbin laughed.
McMahon clarified his decision. Backstage, we saw McMahon in his office looking over a crowd of WWE Superstars hoping to challenge Lesnar for the title. In the ring, McMahon was interrupted by John Cena’s music and The Champ came out and offered to step up. In all these years, he said he’s never McMahon him down… and he’s got that ruthless aggression. Drew McIntyre interrupted to say, um, he is the epitome of ruthless aggression, thank you very much. Then there was Corbin who wanted a shot, and finally, Finn Balor arrived to remind people that he’d been a Universal Champion before. McMahon suggested a Fatal 4-Way to determine the number-one contender. Then, backstage, Jinder Mahal said he wanted in. McMahon said Mahal could choose his competitor from these four men, and if he won, Mahal could take his place. (But like, what about Strowman?)
Finn Balor defeated Jinder Mahal. The Maharaja chose Balor. Despite an attack before the bell, Balor took out the Singh Brothers and ended things with a Coup de Grace.
Ronda Rousey and Sasha Banks defeated Nia Jax and Tamina Snuka. These two future opponents were on the same team in this tag team match. The heels targeted Banks, isolating her from making the tag to Rousey. After fighting back, she got the win by forcing Snuka to tap out with a Banks Statement. After the bell, Rousey said that beating Banks at the Royal Rumble would be a huge accomplishment… but Banks didn’t take that as a compliment. Rousey said she’d do anything to make Banks tap, but The Boss reminded her that FYI, she can tap out people too, like she just did. Banks stormed off and Rousey followed her to continue arguing.
The Revival defeated Lucha House Party. Scott Dawson hit Gran Metalik with a DDT and covered for the win as Metalik’s foot was on the rope. Dash Wilder knocked it off during the count for the win.
Bayley, Natalya, and Nikki Cross defeated The Riott Squad. Backstage, Natalya and Bayley argued about the fight between their respective BFFs earlier in the evening. The Riott Squad showed up to challenge them and the faces took on NXT star Nikki Cross as their third teammate. The heels wore down Bayley until Cross took them all out, hitting Liv Morgan with a neckbreaker so Bayley could get the pin off an elbow drop from up top.
Moment of Bliss with Paul Heyman. Alexa Bliss continued her new segment this week with Brock Lesnar’s agent as her guest. First, however, we learned that we’ll finally get that Women’s Tag Team Title at the February PPV, Elimination Chamber. Bliss presented the belts and introduced Heyman before being interrupted by NXT star Otis Dozovic. He acted like he might be in love with Bliss before his Heavy Machinery partner Tucker Knight swooped in and dragged him away.
Bobby Lashley defeated Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins in a Triple Threat for the Intercontinental Title. Yup, this happened. Each wrestler cut promos before the match and Rollins said this might be his last shot at his former title. (So does that mean he’s giving up or better things lie ahead? He think the latter.) The Architect was going for the Stomp on Dean Ambrose but Lio Rush knocked him from the ropes, setting up Lashley to spear Ambrose for the pinfall victory and the title!
Finn Balor defeated McIntyre, Cena, and Corbin for the Number-One Contender Spot. My, how things have changed! It was a solid match and each superstar shined… until Corbin ruined things as usual with a steel chair before getting knocked out of the ring himself. Balor ended this one with a Coup de Grace on John Cena. After the match, The Champ gave his congrats, saying that he, as well as Vince McMahon, was now a believer. Looks like it’s Balor v. Lesnar at the Royal Rumble. (But guys, what about Strowman?!)
SmackDown – January 15th
Becky Lynch and Asuka opened the show. The Ilconics interrupted. The Man pulled up in her truck and “Becky” cheers erupted from the crowd. She stopped to take a sip of Heavy Machinery and The New Day’s protein shake on the way to the ring and called it “weak.” Lynch told the crowd that she’s going to beat The Empress at the Royal Rumble because after Asuka’s loss to Charlotte Flair last year at Wrestlemania, Asuka lost her confidence and fell off the radar (true story). The Empress came to the ring and told Lynch not to worry about being in Flair’s shadow anymore because, Asuka yelled, “You’ll be in mine!” The Ilconics showed up and told Asuka and Lynch to show more class. The duo claimed that they’ll win the Royal Rumble and become the first WWE Women’s Tag Team Champs. Becky asked them which one of them wanted to take her on tonight…
Lynch defeated Peyton Royce. Asuka defeated Billie Kay. Lynch locked on a Dis-Arm-Her and tapped out Royce. To prove herself, Asuka screamed and asked for a match from Billie Kay, who refused. She pulled Kay to the ring anyway and forced her to submit with an Asuka Lock.
AJ Styles cut a promo backstage. In response to last week’s concession stand promo by the New Daniel Bryan, Style was shown backstage throwing his merch to fans and yelling that since they’d spent their hard-earned money on tickets, they should eat whatever they want. “You want hotdogs?! Get you some!” Bryan then jumped from the crowd in a hoodie to attack Styles, but Styles threw him through a table before security could pull them apart.
Samoa Joe vs. Mustafa Ali never gets started. Joe attacked Ali from behind before the bell, knocking him off the ropes and throwing him out of the ring. He slammed Ali into the post, knocking him out cold. Joe acted as if he was going to walk off, but came back for more, pounding Ali and throwing him into the post again, leaving Ali lying on the ground.
Andrade “Cien” Almas (who is now just Andrade) defeated Rey Mysterio. Announcement: they’ve dropped the “Cien” Almas for a more streamlined name. Before the match, Andrade said that Rey Mysterio was once his idol but Andrade is the future. Zelina Vega asserted that Andrade will win the Royal Rumble and take on the WWE Champ at Wrestlemania. During this impressive match, the crowd chanted “This is awesome!” as we saw some awesome moves by two high-flying, athletic superstars. The finale came when Mysterio hit a 619 and climbed the ropes to finish his opponent. A distraction from Vega allowed Andrade to knock his Mysterio onto the ropes and hit him with a hammerlock DDT for the pin.
Mandy Rose’s scheme backfired. Jimmy Uso received a package from Mandy Rose containing a note, a rose, and a hotel room key. He decided to visit the room… where Rose waited in a robe and lingerie. After he said, “We can’t do this,” a photographer appeared and Rose explained that this wasn’t about him. It was all about Naomi, whom she despises. Rose planned to use the photos to destroy her life. Jimmy just said, “Hmm, my wife?” and walked out, only to be replaced by Naomi who attacked her. The two women brawled across the hotel room before Rose got away and Jimmy came to his wife’s side.
Miz threw a birthday party for Shane McMahon. In the ring, Miz staged a 49th birthday party for his tag team partner, complete with balloons, the World Cup trophy, presents, and his favorite cakes, one with a photo of them on the icing. McMahon opened one of his presents, a pair of Jordans, which he actually loved. Miz continued to hype their presence at the Royal Rumble, claiming that they would win the Tag Team Title. McMahon seemed to have changed his tune about their partnership, explaining that winning the title was always a dream of his. Miz and the crowd began to sing “Happy Birthday” until The Bar’s music hit.
Miz defeated Sheamus. The Bar was annoyed about not being invited to the party, but they said even Vince McMahon didn’t come because he doesn’t give a damn about Shane. This one-on-one matchup was instigated by Shane, who didn’t care that Mix was wearing a suit. In a short bout, Sheamus distracted the ref while Cesaro got in a cheap shot on the Miz. McMahon retaliated by throwing Cesaro through the cake table. Meanwhile Miz got a quick roll-up for the win. After the bell, McMahon came to the rescue of his partner, setting up him up for a Skull Crushing Finale on Sheamus. The Commissioner climbed the ropes and launched himself for a Coast to Coast onto Sheamus through a cake held by Miz. (To be honest, it looked like it hurt.)
NXT – January 16th
The Street Profits defeated The Metro Brothers. This was basically an energetic squash match. The Street Profits joked around for much of it until Montez Ford put away the opposition with a frog splash on JC Metro. After the bell, the Forgotten Sons brutally attacked the winners.
Bianca Belair cut a promo. Shayna Baszler & Co. interrupted. In the ring, Bianca Belair bragged about getting rid of Nikki Cross, saying her sights were now set on the NXT Women’s Championship at Takeover. (She’s great on the mic, by the way.) Out came Shayna Baszler with Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir as backup. They got in each other’s face as an unimpressed Baszler called Belair overrated and threatened to break her arm, but The EST said she’d just use it to hold up the title belt. Baszler then turned around and caught a slap from Belair who laughed and quickly rolled out of the ring to escape the trio.
Dominik Dijakovic defeated Adrian Jaoude. It was a tough contest and both guys looked good in it. Jaoude fought hard but Dijakovic hit him with a lariat, big boot, finally a Feast Your Eyes for the win.
Johnny Gargano defeated Humberto Carillo. After some impressive, high-flying athletics from Carillo, Gargano turned things around with a slingshot spear. The future 205 Live star fought back, hitting a standing moonsault for a two-count, but he missed the next one off the top rope, catching some knees. Johnny Wrestling finished him off with a superkick and a draping DDT. After the match, Gargano challenged Ricochet to show up next week.