We’re finally over that holiday slump. Brock Lesnar showed up this week to hype the Royal Rumble and the WWE Women’s Division showed they’re what the audience really cares about. Here’s our recap and the results of WWE Raw, SmackDown, and NXT for the week of January 7th through 9th.
Monday Night Raw – January 7th
Seth Rollins and Bobby Lashley Brawled. Well, this was a new way to open the show. After their battle last week (in which Rollins used a chair), The Architect attacked Lashley backstage and it spilled out onto the ramp until the refs, a few suits, and a bunch of guys from the locker room pulled them apart.
John Cena cuts a promo. The newest (oldest?) WWE Superstar came to the ring to announce his entry in the Royal Rumble. But then Drew McIntyre showed up to remind The Champ of his own reputation as he threatened to beat down Cena like he’d done to The Shield, Dolph Ziggler, and Kurt Angle. Just as it looked like they were going to brawl, Lio Rush and Lashley interrupted to say Raw was canceled until someone did something about crazy Seth Rollins. Cue attack #2 by Rollins. Dean Ambrose ran out from backstage and all men present joined in a ringside brawl as Finn Balor ran to the ring to battle McIntyre.
Seth Rollins, John Cena, and Finn Balor defeated Dean Ambrose, Drew McIntyre, and Bobby Lashley. All of this chaos turned into a (sorta) legit match. A newly enraged Rollins got the pin with a Stomp on Ambrose. After the win, he stormed backstage, slapped Triple H’s coffee cup out of his hand, and demanded a rematch for the Intercontinental Title. He got it…for later that night.
Hulk Hogan celebrates the life of “Mean” Gene Okerlund. The old-school WWE Superstar headed to the ring to throw a video package on the screen that paid tribute to the recently passed announcer. It featured great moments from Okerlund’s career, but what does this appearance mean for Hogan? Anything? We have no idea.
Bobby Roode and Chad Gable defeated The Revival in a Lumberjack Match to retain the title. It was a close one, and the heels do look like the better team, but Gable pinned Scott Dawson for the win… even with his leg kinda on the rope?
Baron Corbin defeated Elias. The crowd favorite Elias sang a song about how he would dominate at the Royal Rumble but, shocker, Corbin interrupted him and added his name to the PPV event too. The former GM scored a win after throwing Elias into the ref and hitting him with an End of Days for the pin.
Braun Strowman called out Brock Lesnar (who was actually there). The Monster Among Men headed down to the ring to call out Lesnar. Backstage, The Beast declined to come out, but eventually he and Paul Heyman answered the call and walked down to the ring. Despite insults from Strowman, Lesnar refused to engage with his future Royal Rumble opponent, laughed, and walked off. It was all pretty anticlimactic.
Apollo Crews and Ember Moon defeated Alicia Fox and Jinder Mahal. Does anybody like these mixed matches? The heels talked trash to the crowd but Moon finished this one with an Eclipse on Fox for the win.
On Moment of Bliss, Ronda Rousey challenged Sasha Banks. During the debut of Alexa Bliss’s new segment, Bliss asked Ronda Rousey what’s next for her. The Raw Women’s Champ said she wants fans to be proud of her and that means taking on the woman who has pushed everyone in the locker room to be better – Sasha Banks. Nia Jax annoyingly interrupted and asked for her rematch with Rousey. But then The Boss appeared and said she was honored to hear Rousey’s words. Banks said she’d love that title match and she’d also love to teach Rousey how to “lose with dignity and class.” Nia Jax didn’t appreciate the interruption and told Banks to get in line. Instead, The Boss respond with a challenge: “What line? There’s a ring right here and I’ll face you right now”
Sasha Banks defeated Nia Jax for a shot at the Raw Women’s Title. With Bayley and Tamina Snuka hanging out ringside, Banks and Jax went at it. Bayley stopped an interference from Snuka but ended up in a heap on the floor. The Boss came to her friend’s rescue but as she was beating on Snuka, Jax picked up her up and threw her onto an equipment case. Banks continued to take a pounding but got her leg on the ropes to break Jax’s pin attempt and later sidestepped the Samoan, sending her into the post. After tangling on the apron, both women ended up collapsed in exhaustion before Banks launched herself into the ring and locked on the Banks Statement for the tap. Yeah, Sasha Banks is back!
Dean Ambrose defeated Seth Rollins to retain the Intercontinental Title. In a “falls count anywhere” match, as determined by Triple H earlier in the evening, Rollins attacked before the bell and took the brawl with Ambrose backstage. After finally making their way back to the ring, The Architect called for a Stomp as the crowd chanted “Burn it down!” and it looked like he had the title in the bag. As Rollins hit the Stomp and went for the cover, however, Bobby Lashley jerked him out of the ring and began his (legal) attack. Lashley left Rollins lying on the mat in the middle of the ring so that Ambrose could crawl over and cover him for the 1-2-3. After the bell, Lashley continued the damage by sending Rollins through a table.
SmackDown – January 8th
Daniel Bryan cut a promo from the concession stand. The WWE Champ opened the show from a concession stand backstage, bashing fans for their consumerism and unhealthy eating habits. He said they were just filling the void of a vacuous life with junk food. It was entertaining though, especially when Bryan threw a hotdog at a fan’s head and dumped a soda on another guy. He went around pointing out all the ways the crowd and their habits were terrible for the environment, all while bashing AJ Styles.
Bryan defeated R-Truth. R-Truth attacked the champ to end the promo and get back at Bryan for ruining his Christmas celebration. Truth didn’t wait for the official start and pretty much controlled the entire match, hitting a Jawbreaker for two. But after he missed a running splash when Bryan sidestepped him, the champ got the pin off a running knee.
Samoa Joe and Andrade “Cien” Almas defeated Mustafa Ali and Rey Mysterio. A couple of rising stars shined in this close tag team match. The agile Ali took it to Almas before he could finally make the tag to Samoa Joe. Ali dove off the ropes right into the arms of Joe who slammed him into a table. When Almas and Mysterio got in the ring together, we saw some crazy athletic moves (seriously, you’ll want to watch it in slow motion) before Joe broke up the pin attempt by Mysterio. Ali took out Joe while Mysterio attempted a 619, but Almas countered with a gutbuster and a Hammerlock DDT for the pin and a clean win.
Rusev cut a sad promo. A distraught Rusev came to the ring to address Shinsuke Nakamura’s attack last week, saying that Lana was at home resting from her injuries. He called out Nakamura, saying, “Once you mess with my wife, you cross a line.” His foe responded on the screen from backstage saying it was Rusev’s fault his wife got hurt, showing a replay. The Bulgarian Brute took off after Nakamura who was backstage waiting to attack with a production case. Several producers had to pull Nakamura off. Feud city!
The Bar defeated The Usos to retain the SmackDown Tag Team Title. The Bar isolated Jey Uso for a while, and as Jimmy waited for the tag, Mandy Rose showed up in a towel on the ramp. She grabbed the mic to ask Jimmy if she’d left her tiny gold shorts and top in his hotel room. The distraction allowed Sheamus to knock Jimmy off the apron while Cesaro hit Jey with the Neutralizer to retain the title. The Miz came out to congratulate The Bar and challenge them to a title match against Shane McMahon and himself at the Royal Rumble. Sheamus hit Miz with a Brogue Kick and accepted the challenge. Backstage, Naomi attacked Rose, who was backed by Sonya Deville, and Jimmy came to save his wife. Draaama.
Becky Lynch defeated Carmella and Charlotte Flair in a Triple Threat Match for a shot at the SmackDown Women’s Title. These three women had excellent chemistry in the ring together and the crowd loved it as they each battled to be first to get the pin and a shot at Asuka for the title at the Royal Rumble. Carmella got a two-count on The Queen and screamed in desperation as she kicked out. The Queen hit a Natural Selection on Lynch and Carmella tried to cover but Flair stopped it. Flair locked Carmella in a Figure Four but Lynch broke it up with a Leg Drop. Lynch locked a Dis-Arm-Her on The Queen but Carmella kicked her in the face to break up the submission hold. Carmella broke up a Dis-Arm-Her on The Queen. Flair hit Lynch with a Spear and as Carmella was trying to capitalize on it, The Man got the victory by making Carmella tap out with a Dis-Arm-Her. So many close calls!
NXT – January 9th
Johnny Gargano cuts a promo. NXT is building up to Takeover: Phoenix, so Johnny Gargano came to the ring to tell everybody that his double-team beat down of Aleister Black last week in the cage with Tomasso Ciampa was a one-time thing. He only cares about wins and championships now, and Ciampa still has one that he wants. Also, he might also want Ricochet’s North American title. Cue Ricochet coming out to chat and Ciampa trying to get under Gargano’s skin. Johnny Wrestling seemed more interested in Ricochet until the lights went out and Black appeared on the screen to tell Gargano that he was the real threat. Black showed up out of nowhere and attacked Ciampa from behind while Gargano kicked Ricochet in the face. Interesting start. Looks like it’s Black vs. Ciampa and Gargano vs. Ricochet for Takeover… most likely.
Bianca Belair defeated Nikki Cross.These women are probably the biggest crowd pleasers in the NXT and it’s clear the WWE is building them up for something bigger. Belair knocked Cross out of the ring early but Cross trapped her in the ring skirt and pounded her in the chest. Belair caught the knees on a standing splash and got hit with a neckbreaker before she rolled out of the ring to escape the unhinged one. Cross went after her, climbing onto Belair’s back and attempting a sleeper hold but it backfired when Belair slammed her backwards onto the metal floor. Back in the ring, Belair rolled away from a cross-body and hit Cross with a KOD for the pin.
European Union (Marcel Barthel and Fabian Aichner) defeated Stanley Watts and Hector Kunsman. This was Barthel and Aichner’s NXT debut and they dominated the jobbers from the start. The duo got the pin following a powerbomb into a German suplex.
Adam Cole defeated EC3. With Undisputed Era hanging around the ring, EC3 talked trash and took on the smaller Cole with the threat of interference the entire match. The One Percenter controlled early with chops and slams, showing no fear as he headed outside the ring and into the lion’s den. As EC3 tried to pull his opponent back into the ring, he ate a kick to the face by Cole who slammed him into the steel steps. Cole hit him with a backstabber for a two-count and it became apparent that EC3’s shoulder was hurt. EC3 managed to come back with a German suplex and clothesline for a two-count, but interference from the rest of Undisputed Era helped Cole hit a Superkick and a Last Shot for the pin. Cole’s buddies entered the ring to finish off EC3 but the War Raiders attacked and took care of them, standing tall with EC3 to end the show.