WWE Raw Recap: January 15, 2018
S2018 episode 1286 Aired on January 15, 2018

Battling one-on-one for the first time since the inaugural Universal Championship Match at SummerSlam 2016, Seth Rollins and Finn Bálor held nothing back in a competitive Raw main event that concluded with a rare move from The Kingslayer's arsenal. But what role did Rollins' fellow Raw Tag Team Champion, Jason Jordan, play in the bout’s outcome?

Last week, Braun Strowman used pure strength and a literal grappling hook to pull a piece of the backstage rigging down on Kane and Brock Lesnar. It was astounding even by Strowman’s standards, and it changed the entire complexion of the trio’s Universal Title Triple Threat Match in one swoop. And now, it’s gotten Strowman fired.

The Monster Among Men was in the middle of gloating over his complete obliteration of both the Universal Champion and The Devil’s Favorite Demon when Raw General Manager Kurt Angle arrived to reprimand Strowman by relieving him of his position as a Raw Superstar. The decision left the WWE Universe in an uproar, but Strowman took it far worse than the audience: After appearing to acquiesce to Angle’s wishes and heading to the backstage area peacefully, Strowman savaged the entire team of security guards that The Olympic Hero had hired to escort him from the building before marching away from the scene with very bad intentions on his mind.

No one can say Braun Strowman’s time on the unemployment line was uneventful, though thankfully for the Raw roster, it was short-lived. The Gift of Destruction tore apart the backstage area for the entire hour after Kurt Angle pink-slipped him, rampaging through the catering area and tipping over the tractor of the production truck in a blind fury.

All of this devastation led to Raw Commissioner Stephanie McMahon pulling rank on her beleaguered General Manager and ordering The Monster Among Men rehired. Angle enacted her wishes just in time, as Strowman had Michael Cole in hand at the commentary table when The Olympic Hero emerged to give him his job back, including his position in the Universal Title Triple Threat Match. Strowman celebrated the good news in his singularly devastating fashion: By throwing Cole off the stage and onto a pile of security guards anyway.

Jason Jordan is at it again. Not only did Kurt Angle’s son swing a loss for Cesaro & Sheamus, he talked his tag team partner Seth Rollins into a match against Finn Bálor to give The Architect a chance at payback from their defeat to The Bálor Club last week. For his part, Rollins didn’t mind what Jordan did so much as the way he did it, but his partner’s meddling proved to be as clutch as possible when it came to Rollins’ main-event clash with Raw’s resident Extraordinary Man.

In a semi-rematch of the first-ever Universal Title tilt (remember, Bálor was “The Demon” in that one), Rollins came out swinging, and Bálor answered, targeting The Kingslayer’s surgically-repaired knee in the hopes of rendering his offense one-dimensional. Rollins opted instead to battle through the pain, forcing Finn to fight from underneath.

With the match escalating to something of a dead heat, Rollins went big with a Frog Splash, and Cesaro & Sheamus emerged with punishment in mind for Jordan. Some clever maneuvering from the young champion led to a brawl between The Bar and the good brothers that Bálor thwarted with a soaring plancha. As Finn attempted to finish off Rollins, Jordan tripped Bálor up on the sly, and Rollins dug deep into his arsenal, planting Finn face-first into the mat for the victory with a move we’ve seen him use to win many big matches.

As Bálor staggered to his feet with Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson at his side, Rollins departed with a thrilling victory thanks in no small part to what his partner did, to say nothing of the way he did it.

In other action … Titus Worldwide def. Cesaro & Sheamus … Cedric Alexander def. Tony Nese … Asuka def. Nia Jax via Match Stoppage … WWE paid tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. … The Revival def. local competitors … Intercontinental Champion Roman Reigns def. The Miztourage (1-on-2 Handicap Match) … and Sonya Deville def. Sasha Banks … "Woken" Matt Hardy def. Heath Slater.