Six nights before colliding for the Raw Women’s Title at Royal Rumble, Sasha Banks and Raw Women’s Champion Ronda Rousey teamed up with their best friends in tag team action. Find out why it could be “Boss Time” for The Rowdy One in Phoenix this Sunday.
For a moment, let’s say that Finn Bálor can defeat Brock Lesnar. How would he do it? The Irishman’s bout with Braun Strowman — something of a show-me match orchestrated by a skeptical Mr. McMahon — gave some clues. As the commentary team suggested, stick and move is the obvious answer, and indeed that strategy paid dividends, as the first-ever Universal Champion whittled his monstrous opponent down to his knees, much to the begrudging admiration of Lesnar at ringside.
He even got to employ that quickness against Lesnar after Strowman tossed Finn into the waiting arms of a suplex-happy Conqueror and instigated a three-way scramble that ended with Bálor blasting Lesnar with a running dropkick into the barricade. Finn rode his hot hand to the cusp of a Coup de Grâce against Strowman, only for Lesnar to roar back with an F-5 to the Irishman, ending the match in a disqualification victory for his challenger. The move had the outward appearance of an overreaction by a Beast looking to mark his territory. But maybe, however narrow, a path to victory exists.
Looking beyond the Royal Rumble for a moment, it might be time to give Seth Rollins serious consideration as a potential Universal Title challenger. True, he’s in the mix with Superstars a lot bigger and stronger than he is, but as The Kingslayer explained in an address that evoked Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., he has one ace in the hole: Bone-deep passion and a burning desire to win the day. And lest you think that’s just a downtrodden former champion trying to talk himself up, Rollins put his money where his mouth was by defeating Drew McIntyre — as dangerous a competitor as there is and a champion-in-waiting by all accounts — on the strength of those very intangibles.
After much consideration, Ronda Rousey would like to clarify: She will not be apologizing to Sasha Banks. Despite the shaky if mutual respect at the outset of their road to the Royal Rumble, a series of escalating confrontations led The Baddest Woman on the Planet to recast The Boss as a resentful also-ran during an interview before the main-event tag team match that pitted Rousey and Natalya against The Boss ‘N’ Hug Connection. Banks retaliated on the mic, saying she earned her title match and claiming that the Raw Women’s Champion has been handed everything since she came to WWE, and The Boss administered as many cheap shots as she could muster once the bell rang.
Infuriating The Baddest Woman on the Planet was a bold strategy, but it seemed to pay off. Banks capitalized on Rousey’s relative inexperience and overt aggression to trap her in the Bank Statement, which Natalya quickly broke up. Rousey, who dubbed herself “The Boss’ Boss” in her pre-match tirade, eventually replied by catching Banks in the Armbar, though the four-time Women’s Champion narrowly escaped the hold by rolling to the ropes. Natalya tagged in and administered the Sharpshooter on a depleted Banks, only for Bayley to break the hold and knock Rousey off the apron, teeing up The Boss to trap The Queen of Harts in the Bank Statement, earning her third consecutive tapout with the signature maneuver.
Lest anyone think tempers would cool after the match ended, rest assured, they did not. Banks held on to the Statement a beat too long for Rousey’s liking, and champion and challenger went nose-to-nose as Raw went off the air, as Bayley, Natalya and the official struggled to keep them apart. Clearly no one will be apologizing come Sunday, but someone will be sorry.
In other action … Finn Bálor and Braun Strowman confronted Mr. McMahon and Brock Lesnar … Intercontinental Champion Bobby Lashley def. Apollo Crews … The Lucha House Party def. Jinder Mahal & The Singh Brothers … Baron Corbin def. Elias … Heavy Machinery def. The Ascension … and Raw Tag Team Champions Bobby Roode & Chad Gable def. The Revival (Special Guest Referee Curt Hawkins).