In an incredible main event on WWE Raw, Seth Rollins finally received his Intercontinental Championship rematch against Dean Ambrose, but this time, the former Shield brothers clashed in a barbaric Falls Count Anywhere Match. Will The Kingslayer go on reclaim the red brand's workhorse title? Also on the show, John Cena returned to the red brand, Sasha Banks battled Nia Jax with a chance to face Ronda Rousey for the Raw Women's Championship. As expected, Hulk Hogan paid tribute to his longtime friend and fellow WWE Hall of Famer, "Mean" Gene Okerlund.
At the start of the night, John Cena returned to Raw to announce his plans for 2019. The 16-time World Champion declared himself for the Men's Royal Rumble Match. Drew McIntyre came out to interrupt Mr. Free Agent and reminded Cena that there have been some changes to the pecking order since he last set foot on Monday nights. Now, McIntyre claimed he sat at the top having broken The Shield, obliterated Dolph Ziggler and submitted Kurt Angle, The Scottish Psychopath had his eyes firmly set on the greatest of all time.
But before he could elaborate his plans, Lio Rush appeared out of nowhere with frantic threats to sue Seth Rollins, who had beaten Bobby Lashley across the arena in a pre-show brawl before Cena made his entrance. This brought out The Kingslayer from backstage; Dean Ambrose was quick to follow, and Rollins and Cena quickly found themselves swallowed up in the ensuing brawl ... until Finn Bálor sprinted down the ramp and evened the odds in a melee.
In the tag team match that followed, John Cena, Seth Rollins and Finn Balor had the last word in the first episode of 2019. In the six-man tag team match, The Kingslayer pinned the Intercontinental Champion Dean Ambrose and setting himself up for another crack at The Lunatic Fringe's title. The opponents – Drew McIntyre, Bobby Lashley and Ambrose – blew Cena out of contention until Bálor bailed him out in the nick of time.
Rollins wriggled free of Dirty Deeds, administered the Stomp and scored the pin - a display Triple H agreed was close enough to the "old" Seth Rollins to give The Kingslayer an Intercontinental Title rematch later in the night in a Falls Count Anywhere Match.
In the match, despite The Architect's furious, man-on-fire efforts against Ambrose, his best-laid plans were blown up by Bobby Lashley. This came after Rollins and Ambrose had engaged in brawl through the curtain, a body slam on top of the announce table and, a straight right square to the nose of The Lunatic Fringe.
Ambrose was eager to exploit the anything-goes scenario of the match, but due to the pre-match ambush by The Kingslayer, Ambrose never quite managed to find his footing and found himself flattened. 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 – something he did albeit slowly and painfully.
Hulk Hogan pays tribute to "Mean" Gene Okerlund
Of the many WWE Superstars who had crossed paths with the late "Mean" Gene Okerlund, few 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 WWE Raw to pay his 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 honour Okerlund's. He said, "I love you, 'Mean' Gene; I miss you." As a final tribute, Hogan gathered himself, wore the shades back on and gave one last interview to the legendary announcer who may have been inside the ring in spirit.
WWE Raw Results
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
Sasha Banks def. Nia Jax to earn a Raw Women's Championship Match against Ronda Rousey
Intercontinental Champion Dean Ambrose def. Seth Rollins (Falls Count Anywhere Match)