This Week in WWE: The Baddest vs. The Boss, The Empress vs. The Man are set

Rob and Chris recap the first full week of shows of the year 2019, as the road to the Royal Rumble hits a high gear.

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Robert O’Neill: We’re back for the first live Monday Night Raw of 2019!

Chris Novak: And Seth Rollins and Bobby Lashley are beating the pants off each other backstage! The fight’s spilling into gorilla. We’ve got people trying to separate them and it’s out into the arena now. That ended promptly and then John Cena came on out to the ring.

Robert O’Neill: His hair is dumb, but also it’s nice to see him! And he’s going to be in the Royal Rumble this year. That’s exciting.

Chris Novak: But HERE… COMES… DREW MAC! McIntyre is out here now and talks down on Cena and he says he agrees with Vince McMahon’s designation that Cena’s the GOAT. His point is that he has a reputation for taking out the greats, and invites John to do research. He calls himself the most dangerous man in WWE, and he’s come for John Cena now. Mac makes his approach, Cena talks up the start of the show, and then he says this happened and now he’s sad. Cena says it’s sad because Cena’s heard the same thing over and over and had to leave so maybe people would think of different things to say. He asks him what makes him different than anybody else?

Robert O’Neill: Oh my God, Lio Rush is here. Cena’s gonna run him down!

Chris Novak: But before Cena can even do that, Seth comes out and attacks Lashley AGAIN!! And then here comes Ambrose, but Cena’s here to be the cavalry! Mac attacks Cena! WHAT CHAOS!! AND NOW HERE COMES FINN BALOR!!! Finn goes after McIntyre, and then EVERYBODY else! I smell a six-man tag. And what do you know? That’s exactly what we get.

Robert O’Neill: This is a hell of a way to kick off the show. Not surprising given what else is on right now, but this match should be fun.

And it was! It lasted almost a half hour and Rollins got the pin over Ambrose but all six guys looked really good. That’s a hell of a good way to start the show. We see Triple H backstage talking to Sasha Banks and Bayley instead of paying attention to Rollins, which upsets him. He makes his way backstage and Triple H says he can face Ambrose later in a falls count anywhere match for the Intercontinental Title. 2019 is looking like yet another year of Seth Rollins, Iron Man.

Chris Novak: The Hogan segment happened. Here’s the Mean Gene tribute video to the right. That’s all that’s noteworthy here.

Robert O’Neill: Welp. It’s time. Bob Roode and Chad Gable against The Revival for the tag titles.

Chris Novak: That was… a match. The lumberjacks barely made much of an impact. And then it ended in a small package where Dawson had his foot under the rope. Very clearly. But the ref didn’t see it and the count was made. So Gable and Roode are still the tag champs. Match was… just okay.

Robert O’Neill: That referee should be suspended indefinitely without pay. That was a travesty!

Chris Novak: I’m glad that refs keep being incompetent, no matter the spot.

Here comes Elias now, who says he’s going to be in the Rumble. Baron Corbin interrupts this segment and talks down on the crowd, and wonders if everyone would like to disappear. Guess how the crowd responded? He says he’s not going to do that, will enter the Rumble and claims he’ll win and main event WrestleMania. And now, the previously announced match between these two is going down.

Baron Corbin won after a match that went pretty long. It was exactly what you expected it to be.

Robert O’Neill: BRAAAAUUUUUNNNNNN is here! He wants Brock Lesnar, who is also here. But Brock is backstage with Paul Heyman, who is on the titantron letting Strowman know that they’re not coming out there. But, surprise, Lesnar wants to go out there so they do go out. But they just circle the ring and then leave.

Chris Novak: That segment absolutely tanked.

We’ve got Jinder Mahal vs. Apollo Crews next up. Well… maybe some kind of a modification of that, because Ember Moon’s here. So I’d guess we get mixed tag action with Ember and Apollo against Jinder and Alicia.

Robert O’Neill: That’s fun! Keep the mixed match action going. I enjoy them.

Ember Eclipsed Alicia for the win, and it’s time for A Moment of Bliss. This is gonna be good.

It was going very well and Alexa showed a nice montage of Ronda’s first year, then they had a nice discussion and Ronda said she would like to face Sasha Banks, but here comes Nia Jax to ruin everything.

Chris Novak: Naturally. The two have an interaction, and Sasha then comes out. She says she’s honored by the words that Ronda said and said she’s going to teach her how to lose with dignity and class. Nia takes offense, Sasha calls her a bitch, and now we have a match between Nia Jax and Sasha Banks. The winner faces Ronda Rousey for the Women’s Championship at the Rumble.

Sasha and Nia have a crazy match with a lot of crazy spots. So, you know, a typical Sasha Banks match where she knows she has to go hard. Banks won via the Bank Statement. And now, Banks will face Ronda Rousey for the title at the Rumble. BIG MATCH! HUGE!

Time for Falls Count Anywhere.

Robert O’Neill: To their credit, they actually went all over the arena! Too often you get falls count anywhere matches that just go around the outside of the ring and the stage. This one went backstage and into the crowd and all around! Eventually Lashley came out and beat up Rollins as some revenge for earlier, and Ambrose got the win. Then Lashley and Lio Rush set up a table in the ring and spinebustered Rollins through to end the night.

Final Thoughts

Chris Novak: The show had its peaks and its valleys. For the past few weeks it’s been improving and this showed signs of growth for me. Hot start, hit a lull, picked back up. Rob will be the high man here. I’ll give this a solid C+.

Robert O’Neill: Was that a good Raw? Relatively speaking, yes. It kept my interest over what turned out to be a bad National Championship, so that was promising. Some of the stuff was a miss, like the Hogan part, Braun/Brock, and most of the Sasha/Nia and tag titles matches, but I think the six-man opener and falls count anywhere main event did enough to save the show for me. Plus, I haven’t watched the last two weeks since they were taped and it was the holidays, so a little break did some good for me as a viewer. B-

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Chris Novak: SmackDown Live starts with Daniel Bryan up on the concourse. He derides fans for eating concessions at arenas and stadiums because of how bad it makes you feel. Honestly, unironically I do agree with him. Stadium food can be trash. Anyways, he continues on the way here, he derides more fans and gets to ringside. R-Truth then jumps him and we’re off and running with a match between Bryan and Truth!

Bryan won a quick match, which was as expected. Afterwards, Styles came through and beat Bryan up. The “real” AJ Styles is being put over here. He grabbed a steel chair but Bryan took off running after.

Robert O’Neill: Shoutout to Truth for still being very good in the ring in 2019 at 47 years old though. Truly a great career.

Anyway, we’re going right onto Mustafa Ali and Rey Mysterio vs. Samoa Joe and Andrade “Cien” Almas. Whew.

Chris Novak: Good God this is all I could want out of a match right now. And holy hell, this match was incredible. Almas won after pinning Rey clean as a sheet in the ring. This is a must-watch match for anybody who may have missed SmackDown and will definitely be one of the best matches of the entire month and maybe the year, too.

Rusev came out to address what happened last week between he, Lana and Shinsuke Nakamura. Rusev was somber in talking about his wife getting knocked out. Rusev said he was addressing Shinsuke as a husband and wanted Nak to come out to the ring. Turns out Nak was in the production truck. Rusev then said he was going to bring the fight to him but it was a trap, as Nak attacked him with a chest and then took him off his feet with a knee to the face.

The Bar vs. The Usos for a shot at the Tag Team Titles is next.

Robert O’Neill: Unsurprisingly, it was very good. They’re two of the six best tag teams in WWE history, so it really isn’t a shock that it was good.. The Bar got the win because Mandy Rose came out and distracted Jim Uso and Cesaro got the win. Then Miz came out and said since The Usos don’t get the tag title shot, he and Shane McMahon should get it.

Chris Novak: That was incredible television.

Robert O’Neill: We go backstage where Naomi is beating the shit out of Mandy Rose AND Sonya Deville, then they turn the tables and Jim Uso breaks it up.

Chris Novak: That was incredible television also. This is an incredible television show. Charlotte vs. Carmella vs. Becky is next.

Unsurprisingly, this match ruled. Some great drama at the end with a lot of great near falls. Becky emerged victorious after tapping Carmella out. We’ve got ourselves a hell of a match set now for the Rumble at the BoB. Becky vs. Asuka for the Women’s Title.

Robert O’Neill: The result was a little surprising, I have to say. I thought Becky would win the Royal Rumble and go to Raw and challenge Ronda Rousey. As it stands though, it was an excellent match.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Chris Novak: Just an absurd show from top to bottom. I personally went ***¾+ on three different matches, including **** on the Mustafa&Rey/Almas&Joe tag match. And Bryan-Truth got a low rating ONLY because of the time, and I could argue it was still very good. This was an excellent show that advanced angles and had great in-ring action. What more could you want? A

Robert O’Neill: What a show. In typical Smackdown fashion, it was loaded and everything had a purpose. That’s really all you could ask for. There was nothing I disliked and I can’t wait to watch again next week. A