WWE Raw Recap: January 7, 2019
S27 episode 2 Aired on January 7, 2019

In an incredible Raw main event, Seth Rollins finally received his Intercontinental Championship rematch against Dean Ambrose, but this time, the two former Shield brothers clashed in a barbaric Falls Count Anywhere Match. Could The Kingslayer reclaim the red brand’s workhorse title? Also on Raw, John Cena returned to action on the red brand, Sasha Banks battled Nia Jax for the right to challenge Ronda Rousey for the Raw Women’s Championship, and Hulk Hogan paid tribute to his longtime friend and fellow WWE Hall of Famer, “Mean” Gene Okerlund.

Of the many Superstars who crossed paths with the late “Mean” Gene Okerlund, few (if any) became more synonymous with the WWE Hall of Famer than Hulk Hogan, whose famous opening line — “Well let me TELL YOU something, MEAN GENE” — took on a life of its own. Hogan returned to Raw to offer a tribute to the man he called the best partner he ever had.

Accompanied by a 10-bell salute, Hogan’s tribute was a subdued remembrance almost completely free of Hulkamania, as he removed his customary shades to honor Okerlund’s commitment to entertaining, cued up a highlight reel of “Mean” Gene’s greatest moments and offered a quiet “I love you, ‘Mean’ Gene; I miss you.” As a final tribute, Hogan gathered himself, slipped the shades back on and gave one last interview for the legendary announcer who may no longer be visible at his shoulder, but was clearly sharing the ring with him all the same.

A while ago, Ronda Rousey gave a podcast interview where she named Sasha Banks as a dream opponent, but cautioned she wasn’t sure she was ready to have the match just yet. Well, it’s sink-or-swim time — or, more aptly, it’s Boss Time, because Banks is officially Rousey’s next challenger for the Raw Women’s Title, thanks to a big-ticket victory over Nia Jax on Raw.

She earned the win despite every effort by The Irresistible Force to get the victory by less-than-chivalrous means: Tamina was lurking at ringside — Bayley played backup for The Boss — and Jax attempted to wrangle a count-out victory when she press-slammed Banks on top of a production crate positioned in the audience. The Boss took Jax’s great equalizer out of the equation when she dodged the #Facebreaker and Jax pummeled the mat by mistake, but the power advantage proved almost too much to overcome, especially when Jax dropped her opponent sternum-first across the top turnbuckle.

Sasha still stuck around, leading to an attempted interference from Tamina that Bayley quickly snuffed out. With Nia reeling and Tamina out of the equation, The Boss rolled her foe into the Bank Statement, cranked back, and forced Nia to tap. Ready or not, here she comes.

In his efforts to channel the old Seth Rollins, The Kingslayer forgot the very important, hard-earned lesson from a few years back that helped spark his change of heart in the first place: What goes around, comes around.

Yes, for all The Architect’s furious, man-on-fire efforts against Dean Ambrose in an Intercontinental Championship Falls Count Anywhere Match, his best-laid plans were blown up by Bobby Lashley, who was humiliated by Rollins at the top of the show and apparently spent the whole night plotting his payback. The All Mighty reared his head at the exact perfect moment, blowing up a performance from Rollins that included a brawl through the curtain, a body slam on top of the announce table and, in a maneuver as effective as it was rudimentary, a straight right square to the nose of The Lunatic Fringe.

Ambrose was similarly eager to exploit the anything-goes scenario of the match, but thanks to a pre-match ambush by The Kingslayer, Ambrose never quite managed to find his footing and found himself flattened with a Stomp. That’s when Lashley struck, hauling Rollins out of the ring and tearing him apart so viciously all Ambrose had to do was crawl over and make the cover.

He did, slowly and painfully, and it was enough to retain his title. But The All Mighty wasn’t done, as he plowed The Kingslayer through a table with a one-handed spinebuster that well and truly left Rollins in ruins — proof if there ever was that Seth Rollins, new, old, or otherwise, might have his work cut out for him with Bobby Lashley. It's not out of the realm of possibility that he'll make it to the level Triple H wants him at, of course ... but he might do well to think of a Plan B.

In other action … John Cena declared for the Men’s Royal Rumble Match …  John Cena, Seth Rollins & Finn Bálor def. Intercontinental Champion Dean Ambrose, Drew McIntyre & Bobby Lashley … Raw Tag Team Champions Bobby Roode & Chad Gable def. The Revival (Lumberjack Match) … Baron Corbin def. Elias … Braun Strowman and Universal Champion Brock Lesnar met face-to-face … Apollo Crews & Ember Moon def. Jinder Mahal & Alicia Fox … Raw Women’s Champion Ronda Rousey appeared on the debut episode of “A Moment of Bliss”.