WWE Raw results, recap, grades: Brock Lesnar announcement, surprising return in main event
Lesnar will, of course, be competing at the Royal Rumble -- just not in the match that we all expected
The new year has arrived and the Royal Rumble is just around the corner, so that can mean only one thing: Brock Lesnar has returned to his place of employment. Now with Lesnar making his return on Monday night, the assumption was that we would find out who would be challenging him for the WWE championship in Houston at the Royal Rumble event. Well, we were indeed educated on what Lesnar will be doing at one of the biggest events of the year, but it will not be defending the WWE title. Instead, we were delivered quite the blockbuster announcement to begin the new year.
Let's have a look at everything that went down on Raw this week which took place in Oklahoma City, an entertaining show that also included some follow-up to last week's viral wedding angle as well as a legendary star making his return to action for the first time in over a year.
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Brock Lesnar twist at Royal Rumble 2020
The WWE champion and Paul Heyman were out to kick off the first Raw of 2020. Heyman said he wanted to kick off the new decade with a little history because that's what Lesnar does -- he makes history. He said they've been pondering who could be worthy of challenging Lesnar for the WWE title at the Royal Rumble, but in the end, they deemed no one on the Raw, SmackDown or NXT roster worthy of the opportunity. Then, Heyman got down to just exactly how Lesnar would be making history this time around. He said that everyone will get their chance to face Lesnar at the Royal Rumble because he was not only officially entering himself into the men's Royal Rumble match in Houston but he will be entering the match as the No. 1 entrant. Heyman finished by proclaiming that Lesnar will conquer the Royal Rumble match, and of course, that's not a prediction ... that's a spoiler.
This was an incredible twist that adds an intriguing layer to this year's men's Rumble match. Instead of just placing Lesnar in a match where you know he's going to walk out victorious because there's no way he's entering WrestleMania without the WWE title, we get to see the "Beast Incarnate" mix it up in the ring with a slew of new competitors stretching across all brands. The truth is that it's not really necessary to have Lesnar defend the WWE title in Houston, especially if there's no one meaningful to pair him against. It'll be much more entertaining to watch Lesnar wreak havoc in the 30-man match before we likely learn who his WrestleMania opponent -- the superstar who eliminates him from the match -- will be come April. Grade: B+
Samoa Joe enlists some legendary help
Prior to Raw going on the air Monday night, Seth Rollins posted a video to Twitter flanked by AOP in which he said his plan with Kevin Owens and Samoa Joe is to divide and conquer. Early in the show, Owens and Joe were interviewed by Charly Caruso backstage. Owens explained how the enemy of his enemy is his friend before Joe laid out a challenge where he alluded to him and Owens being joined by a third person. All Joe said was that he's "got a guy" as he repeatedly assured Owens not to worry. Caruso then caught up with Rollins and AOP walking backstage. Rollins accepted the challenge, and said that if anyone stands up to their united front, then they will be dealt with by Akam and Rezar. Caruso caught up with Joe a little later on and pegged him on who this mystery partner is. Owens arrived and explained his uneasiness with not knowing either, so Joe asked if he would feel better if he were to show him who the partner is. He led Owens and Caruso to a door, and after Owens took a peek inside, he was more than pleased with who would be joining them later in the night.
Prior to the main event beginning, Rollins cut a promo where he said that he knows what's best for everyone as the leader. He called Owens and Joe out to meet their fate at the hands of the AOP and the "Monday Night Messiah."
Kevin Owens, Samoa Joe & The Big Show def. Seth Rollins & AOP via disqualification: Turns out, Joe really delivered as he enlisted the services of The Big Show, who drew a massive pop from the crowd upon his return to action for the first time since November 2018. The match reached its conclusion after Rollins blasted Big Show across the back with a steel chair. Big Show got the final shot in, however, laying out Rollins in the ring with a right hand post-match. As AOP were carrying Rollins back up the ramp and the show was going off the air, it was announced that there will be a rematch between these six next week in a ... "fist fight."
Owens and Joe as a badass babyface pairing continues to serve as entertaining television, and it was nice to see a legitimate surprise for once as Big Show returned to the ring for the first time in over a year to help deal with the new heel group. But, more importantly, Rollins is continuing to thrive in this heel role and is coming as close to knocking it out of the park as possible with this "Monday Night Messiah" gimmick. Big Show is likely not back on anything close to a permanent basis, so one would maybe believe that Rollins and AOP could gain some more heel heat next week by taking out the legendary big man in this "fist fight" rematch. Overall, it was fun to watch this play out from start to finish on Monday night. Grade: B-
What else happened on Raw?
- United States Championship -- Andrade (c) def. Rey Mysterio via pinfall to retain the title after the Hammerlock DDT. Mysterio was distracted after he inadvertently took out Zelina Vega on the outside. Andrade took Mysterio's mask as a trophy after the victory, and he was gloating later in the show during a backstage interview. Mysterio showed up and pummeled Andrade, taking his mask back in the process.
- Raw Tag Team Championship -- The Viking Raiders (c) def. The OC (via pinfall) and The Street Profits to retain the titles after Ivar connected with a top rope splash onto Karl Anderson.
- Becky Lynch was out for an in-ring promo where she started off by admitting she's doubting herself a bit after demanding a title match with Asuka. She wondered whether she should just avoid the one woman she can't seem to defeat. Asuka was out to interrupt, screaming at Lynch in Japanese all the way down the ramp and into the ring as the Raw women's champ looked intimidated. It was all an act, though, as Lynch flattened Asuka with a right hand in the ring before walking off.
- Erick Rowan def. KJ Orso (enhancement talent) via pinfall after the Iron Claw Slam.
- AJ Styles def. Akira Tozawa via pinfall after an RKO. It was announced that Styles will face Randy Orton on Raw next week.
- Lana and Bobby Lashley made their way out to the ring, where they were met by the officiant from last week who married them again, this time by the power vested in him by the state of Oklahoma. Lana went into a rant about how people were jealous of their love (again) before Rusev interrupted on the Titantron in front a a green screen that depicted him on a beach. He trolled Lana and Lashley with a wedding album he had made with stills from last week's melee. Infuriated, Lashley challenged Rusev to a match next week on Raw, which the "Bulgarian Brute" accepted in a serious manner. Backstage with Caruso, Liv Morgan interrupted an interview with R-Truth and said she'll be in Rusev's corner for the match next week. The highlight of the segment was what took place prior, however, as it looked as if no one told security the officiant was making his way into the ring...
- Charlotte Flair vs. Sarah Logan never began as the two brawled on the outside. Inside the ring, Logan destroyed Flair's robe which only lit a fire under "The Queen." Flair eventually floored Logan with a boot on the outside before taking her robe and walking to the back as the announcers hyped up how everyone will be gunning for her in the women's Royal Rumble match.
- Drew McIntyre def. No Way Jose via pinfall after a Claymore kick. Post-match, McIntyre -- seemingly playing an organic babyface role -- asked the crowd if they wanted to see one more Claymore. He planted Jose with another one before entering himself into the Royal Rumble match.
- Aleister Black def. Shelton Benjamin via pinfall after Black Mass. Following the match, Buddy Murphy attacked Black in the ring. On the outside, Murphy placed a chair underneath the chin of Black and connected with a Kamigoye knee strike.
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