News And Notes After John Cena, Brock Lesnar And Hulk Hogan Return

Brock Lesnar returned to Raw Monday night as he prepares to defend the WWE Universal Championship against Braun Strowman at the Royal Rumble.Credit: WWE.com

Cena announced himself as an entrant for the 2019 Royal Rumble while Brock Lesnar didn’t do much during a face-to-face with Braun Strowman. Meanwhile, Hulk Hogan turned in a heartwarming tribute to Mean Gene Okerlund and was warmly received by the Orlando crowd.

Last week’s Raw saw a sizable 11.8% rebound from last week’s historic low, however viewership remained under two million to close out 2018. Last week also marked the second straight week SmackDown Live viewership outgained Raw with an average viewership of 2.091 million.

WWE Raw Viewership—Last Five Weeks
Air Date WWE Raw Viewership 
December 31, 2018 1.968 million viewers
December 24, 2018 1.775 million viewers
December 17, 2018 2.547 million viewers
December 10, 2018 2.194 million viewers
December 3, 2018 2.285 million viewers

WWE Raw Key Competition:

  • College Football National Championship: Alabama vs. Clemson

From the Forbes WWE Vault:

WWE Total YouTube Viewership for Raw Last Monday: 9,125,834 views (Down from 10,786,123)

  • Most-Viewed: Ronda Rousey and Natalya vs. Nia Jax and Tamina (1,698,931 views) 
  • Least-Viewed: WWE Superstars Reveal their New Year’s Resolutions (125,627 views)
  • Median Viewership: 641,201

Average Attendance in "B+ City": 7,608

Average WWE Raw Ticket Price at the Amway Arena$88

WWE Raw Estimated Live Gate: $669,504WWE Raw: Monday, January 7, 2018

Opening Segment Featuring John Cena and Drew McIntyre

For all the talk of a fresh start, the most innovative thing I’ve seen was Raw kicking off with a brawl between Seth Rollins and Bobby Lashley.

You know it’s the beginning of the end for John Cena when he’s still wearing his merchandise from a year ago.

John Cena tried to improvise with Drew McIntyre and the Scottish Psychopath would have none of it.

John Cena, Seth Rollins and Finn Balor def. Drew McIntyre, Dean Ambrose and Bobby Lashley 

If somebody threw a water balloon inside this ring, somebody who won’t win the Royal Rumble would get wet.

It felt like John Cena was trying to make up for lost time by spending somewhere in the neighborhood of 27 days in this match.

Hulk Hogan Returns to Honor "Mean" Gene Okerlund 

If anybody was worried about outrage culture hijacking Mean Gene’s memorial due to the presence of Hulk Hogan, this wasn’t even close to being the case.

Hulk Hogan was so popular in Florida, I thought he was a concealed weapon.

Mean Gene had that great line at the Hall of Fame about being buried face-down so his critics can kiss his rear end, but honestly, I don’t think Gene Okerlund ever had a critic in his entire career.

Hulk Hogan has not even passed on yet and he was already booking Heaven.

Chad Gable and Bobby Roode def. The Revival 

The Revival once again came up short in their pursuit of the WWE Raw Tag Team Championships.Credit: WWE.com

These four were bound and determined to have the greatest tag team match in Raw history, but unfortunately, they had to do so after following an emotional tribute to Gene Okerlund.

The Revival’s gimmick is getting screwed week after week, but that gimmick will only work if fans think they deserve to be in this position to begin with.

How great would it have been if one of the members of The Revival wrote "AEW" in the air?

Baron Corbin def. Elias

Baron Corbin picked up a much-needed victory over Elias on Raw.Credit: WWE.com

As a babyface, Elias has become infinitely better on the guitar leading me to believe that he was, in fact, screwing up chords on purpose.

After being fired on Raw: Fresh Start, Baron Corbin feels two weeks away from adopting a "will work for food" gimmick.

Baron Corbin’s victory means WWE’s plans for both of these men are on hold at the very least.

Brock Lesnar and Braun Strowman come Face-to-Face 

Brock Lesnar and Braun Strowman briefly came face-to-face on Raw.Credit: WWE.com

Braun Strowman said "beastie boy" and expected to get the rousing reaction he received in the Barclays Center. Not a peep.

This was an extremely awkward segment. It felt like the backstage segment with Heyman and Lesnar was re-taped and Braun Strowman was struggling to time his responses to it.

There have been a lot of forgettable Brock Lesnar segments on Raw, and this had to be right up there with the most forgettable.

Apollo Crews and Ember Moon def. Jinder Mahal and Alicia Fox

The comedic stylings of Jinder Mahal returned for one more night of roast-style fun.

Apollo Crews and Ember Moon were on the same team and, surprisingly the word "athletic" was used less than 42 times.

Renee Young said she doesn’t see anything stopping Apollo Crews in 2019, revealing to the world for the first time that Renee Young is blind.

Moment of Bliss with Alexa Bliss featuring Ronda Rousey 

The set design was tastefully done. The segment itself was a waste of time and talent.

Fans were not on board with Ronda Rousey shouting out Sasha Banks while dissing Becky Lynch and Charlotte.

Nia Jax, like the rest of the Raw roster, was not paying attention when Shane McMahon said there are no more automatic rematches.

Nia Jax revealed she weighs 300.5 ounces or 18.75 pounds.

The b-word was said four times in this segment. Three of them came from Nia Jax and I’m pretty sure she thought she was off camera.

Sasha Banks def. Nia Jax to become No. 1 Contender for the Raw Women’s Championship 

Sasha Banks is the new No. 1 Contender for the Raw Women’s Championship.Credit: WWE.com

Ronda Rousey wants Sasha Banks to earn an opportunity at the Raw Women’s Championship because she’s one of the only women Ronda hasn’t beat.

I wonder how Bayley feels about Ronda Rousey giving props to her best friend and not her?

Even if Nia Jax weighted 300.5 ounces, I feel like she would still be bigger than Sasha Banks.

Dean Ambrose def. Seth Rollins—Intercontinental Championship 

If Renee Young is ever going to turn heel, the first Raw of 2019 is the spot to do it, especially on a night with very little news.

If somebody was to watch this match with no context they’d be convinced that Dean Ambrose was the sympathetic figure.

There were chants of "we want tables," which is just a couple steps up from the "this is boring" chants Ambrose and Rollins received at WWE TLC.

Bobby Lashley vs. Seth Rollins could be worlds better than Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose, and they have zero history to build on.

Renee Young was so biased in her commentary of this match, the heel commentator Corey Graves had to step in to defend Seth Rollins.

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John Cena, Hulk Hogan and Brock Lesnar all returned to kick off the first Raw of 2019 in an episode that was largely devoid of any major news despite the stacked lineup.

Brock Lesnar returned to Raw Monday night as he prepares to defend the WWE Universal Championship against Braun Strowman at the Royal Rumble.Credit: WWE.com

Cena announced himself as an entrant for the 2019 Royal Rumble while Brock Lesnar didn’t do much during a face-to-face with Braun Strowman. Meanwhile, Hulk Hogan turned in a heartwarming tribute to Mean Gene Okerlund and was warmly received by the Orlando crowd.

Last week’s Raw saw a sizable 11.8% rebound from last week’s historic low, however viewership remained under two million to close out 2018. Last week also marked the second straight week SmackDown Live viewership outgained Raw with an average viewership of 2.091 million.

WWE Raw Viewership—Last Five Weeks
Air Date WWE Raw Viewership 
December 31, 2018 1.968 million viewers
December 24, 2018 1.775 million viewers
December 17, 2018 2.547 million viewers
December 10, 2018 2.194 million viewers
December 3, 2018 2.285 million viewers

WWE Raw Key Competition:

  • College Football National Championship: Alabama vs. Clemson

From the Forbes WWE Vault:

WWE Total YouTube Viewership for Raw Last Monday: 9,125,834 views (Down from 10,786,123)

  • Most-Viewed: Ronda Rousey and Natalya vs. Nia Jax and Tamina (1,698,931 views) 
  • Least-Viewed: WWE Superstars Reveal their New Year’s Resolutions (125,627 views)
  • Median Viewership: 641,201

Average Attendance in “B+ City”: 7,608

Average WWE Raw Ticket Price at the Amway Arena$88

WWE Raw Estimated Live Gate: $669,504WWE Raw: Monday, January 7, 2018

Opening Segment Featuring John Cena and Drew McIntyre

For all the talk of a fresh start, the most innovative thing I’ve seen was Raw kicking off with a brawl between Seth Rollins and Bobby Lashley.

You know it’s the beginning of the end for John Cena when he’s still wearing his merchandise from a year ago.

John Cena tried to improvise with Drew McIntyre and the Scottish Psychopath would have none of it.

John Cena, Seth Rollins and Finn Balor def. Drew McIntyre, Dean Ambrose and Bobby Lashley 

If somebody threw a water balloon inside this ring, somebody who won’t win the Royal Rumble would get wet.

It felt like John Cena was trying to make up for lost time by spending somewhere in the neighborhood of 27 days in this match.

Hulk Hogan Returns to Honor “Mean” Gene Okerlund 

If anybody was worried about outrage culture hijacking Mean Gene’s memorial due to the presence of Hulk Hogan, this wasn’t even close to being the case.

Hulk Hogan was so popular in Florida, I thought he was a concealed weapon.

Mean Gene had that great line at the Hall of Fame about being buried face-down so his critics can kiss his rear end, but honestly, I don’t think Gene Okerlund ever had a critic in his entire career.

Hulk Hogan has not even passed on yet and he was already booking Heaven.

Chad Gable and Bobby Roode def. The Revival 

The Revival once again came up short in their pursuit of the WWE Raw Tag Team Championships.Credit: WWE.com

These four were bound and determined to have the greatest tag team match in Raw history, but unfortunately, they had to do so after following an emotional tribute to Gene Okerlund.

The Revival’s gimmick is getting screwed week after week, but that gimmick will only work if fans think they deserve to be in this position to begin with.

How great would it have been if one of the members of The Revival wrote “AEW” in the air?

Baron Corbin def. Elias

Baron Corbin picked up a much-needed victory over Elias on Raw.Credit: WWE.com

As a babyface, Elias has become infinitely better on the guitar leading me to believe that he was, in fact, screwing up chords on purpose.

After being fired on Raw: Fresh Start, Baron Corbin feels two weeks away from adopting a “will work for food” gimmick.

Baron Corbin’s victory means WWE’s plans for both of these men are on hold at the very least.

Brock Lesnar and Braun Strowman come Face-to-Face 

Brock Lesnar and Braun Strowman briefly came face-to-face on Raw.Credit: WWE.com

Braun Strowman said “beastie boy” and expected to get the rousing reaction he received in the Barclays Center. Not a peep.

This was an extremely awkward segment. It felt like the backstage segment with Heyman and Lesnar was re-taped and Braun Strowman was struggling to time his responses to it.

There have been a lot of forgettable Brock Lesnar segments on Raw, and this had to be right up there with the most forgettable.

Apollo Crews and Ember Moon def. Jinder Mahal and Alicia Fox

The comedic stylings of Jinder Mahal returned for one more night of roast-style fun.

Apollo Crews and Ember Moon were on the same team and, surprisingly the word “athletic” was used less than 42 times.

Renee Young said she doesn’t see anything stopping Apollo Crews in 2019, revealing to the world for the first time that Renee Young is blind.

Moment of Bliss with Alexa Bliss featuring Ronda Rousey 

The set design was tastefully done. The segment itself was a waste of time and talent.

Fans were not on board with Ronda Rousey shouting out Sasha Banks while dissing Becky Lynch and Charlotte.

Nia Jax, like the rest of the Raw roster, was not paying attention when Shane McMahon said there are no more automatic rematches.

Nia Jax revealed she weighs 300.5 ounces or 18.75 pounds.

The b-word was said four times in this segment. Three of them came from Nia Jax and I’m pretty sure she thought she was off camera.

Sasha Banks def. Nia Jax to become No. 1 Contender for the Raw Women’s Championship 

Sasha Banks is the new No. 1 Contender for the Raw Women’s Championship.Credit: WWE.com

Ronda Rousey wants Sasha Banks to earn an opportunity at the Raw Women’s Championship because she’s one of the only women Ronda hasn’t beat.

I wonder how Bayley feels about Ronda Rousey giving props to her best friend and not her?

Even if Nia Jax weighted 300.5 ounces, I feel like she would still be bigger than Sasha Banks.

Dean Ambrose def. Seth Rollins—Intercontinental Championship 

If Renee Young is ever going to turn heel, the first Raw of 2019 is the spot to do it, especially on a night with very little news.

If somebody was to watch this match with no context they’d be convinced that Dean Ambrose was the sympathetic figure.

There were chants of “we want tables,” which is just a couple steps up from the “this is boring” chants Ambrose and Rollins received at WWE TLC.

Bobby Lashley vs. Seth Rollins could be worlds better than Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose, and they have zero history to build on.

Renee Young was so biased in her commentary of this match, the heel commentator Corey Graves had to step in to defend Seth Rollins.

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