After Braun Strowman’s destructive temper cost him his Universal Championship opportunity at Royal Rumble — along with $100,000 in the form of a hefty fine — Mr. McMahon scheduled a Fatal 4-Way Match to determine The Beast Incarnate’s new challenger. Find out how Finn Bálor overcame Drew McIntyre, Baron Corbin and John Cena in a hard-hitting Raw main event.
Braun Strowman is out of the Universal Championship Match at the Royal Rumble pay-per-view.
The dramatic shift in The Monster Among Men’s fortunes came after a tumultuous start to Raw that saw him go from promising victory against Brock Lesnar to chasing Baron Corbin throughout the backstage area when The Lone Wolf questioned Strowman's chances against The Beast. Strowman found his prey holed up in a limousine in the loading dock (Elias provided the key tip-off in song) and tore the door off the limo with his bare hands to smoke out The Lone Wolf, only to find himself face-to-face with the vehicle's intended passenger, and the only man who could possibly intimidate Strowman more than Lesnar: Mr. McMahon.
The Chairman was, obviously, less than pleased that The Gift of Destruction had decimated his ride. Furious, really, is a more apt description. So much so that he levied a $100,000 fine against Strowman. That might have been that, but when The Monster Among Men raised his voice, The Chairman upped the ante by calling off the Universal Title Match and walking away. Braun replied by flipping over Mr. McMahon’s limo in frustration, an impressive display that doesn’t hide the fact that Strowman let his long-awaited opportunity slipped right through These Hands. And with the most monstrous player off the board, the Universal Title field is wide open.
Bobby Lashley made a point of marking the amount of time since he’d held WWE gold on Twitter over the weekend. The All Mighty can stop the clock now. Following a power play on last week’s Raw that thrust him into the Intercontinental Title picture, Lashley finally broke his championship drought by winning a Triple Threat Match against Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins to win the ivory title for the first time in his career.
He did so more or less by force of will, as Seth Rollins opted for a blaze-of-glory game plan and fought everything that moved, while Dean Ambrose selected a canny, enemy-of-my-enemy-is-my-friend strategy, forging and fracturing alliances seemingly by the minute. The most effective of those team-ups was with Rollins, a tentative union that nonetheless took Lashley out of the running and set up a one-on-one battle between the two former brothers-in-arms.
Thanks to Lio Rush, however, The All Mighty was able to stay in the hunt. The Man of the Hour interfered at two crucial moments, breaking up a Rollins pinfall and high-lowing The Kingslayer over the top rope right when he appeared to be closing in on the victory. Lashley capitalized immediately, hurling himself into a Spear that de-cleated The Lunatic Fringe and handed the Intercontinental Championship to The All Mighty.
Even by his standards, Finn Bálor has had an extraordinary last few days: The Irishman started the weekend as a guest of honor at the opening of the UK Performance Center, ended up fighting his student Jordan Devlin at NXT UK TakeOver, and in the course of one Raw, went from long-shot title hopeful to winning two matches and becoming the next man up for Universal Champion Brock Lesnar.
Not bad for a guy who Mr. McMahon supposedly didn’t believe in, especially considering he defeated John Cena (the man The Chairman has called the greatest of all time), Drew McIntyre (the onetime “Chosen One”) and Baron Corbin (who Mr. McMahon once trusted to run his show). The Irishman played the match perfectly, weathering the perfect storm of conflicting agendas until he finally picked his moment to strike: Big Match John had the big match moves, but was a hair too slow to close. McIntyre was a marvel, but seemed more focused on making a statement than winning the match, and Corbin’s desire to slowly dismantle everyone with a steel chair left him vulnerable to a retaliatory strike from The Cenation Leader that set up the conclusion.
After the 16-time World Champion downed The Lone Wolf with an Attitude Adjustment, McIntyre blew him off his feet with a Claymore Kick, and Bálor pounced, disposing of the Scotsman and drilling Cena with a Coup de Grâce to seal the match. Despite suffering the deciding pinfall, Cena still got to his feet to deliver proper respect to the victor, declaring that Bálor had made a believer out of him. If The Extraordinary Man walks out of the Royal Rumble with the Universal Title, there won’t be a person in the world who doesn’t agree, from the kids on the floor to the man in the office.
In other action … Raw Women’s Champion Ronda Rousey & Sasha Banks def. Nia Jax & Tamina … The Revival def. The Lucha House Party … Mr. McMahon announced a Fatal 4-Way Match to determine Brock Lesnar’s newest challenger … Finn Bálor def. Jinder Mahal to keep him out of the Fatal 4-Way to determine Brock Lesnar’s challenger … and Alexa Bliss revealed the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championships on “A Moment of Bliss” and was confronted by Otis. Dozovic.