Image Credit: provided via wwe.com

Folks, we kick off the first live RAW of 2019 with a bit of a somber note. Hall of Fame announcer “Mean” Gene Okerlund passed away last week. Tonight’s RAW has WWE bringing back ostracized Hall of Famer Hulk Hogan as part of their memorial for the late Okerlund. As such, we will also take a moment to say thank you, “Mean” Gene. Aside from the salute to the deceased Okerlund, we have a nice show to look forward to. Gable and Roode defend their tag belts in a lumberjack match against The Revival. Braun Strowman is back. Brock Lesnar is back, The Royal Rumble is just three weeks away. Need I say more? Lets crack open this Nutshell!

Best Match of the night:

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This is not me being lazy, this is just being honest. Flip a coin and go with either the opening bout or the main event. Or both. Heck of a way to open and to also close the show, with matches involving Ambrose and Rollins. It’s certainly one way to try to remind folks that these two are two of your top Superstars. I might put the main event slightly below the opening bout, just because I am not a fan of the tainted ending.

Worst match of the night:

Maybe worst isn’t fair. How about “match, or matches, that I just wasn’t too interested in”. That is more fitting. Those were Elias and Corbin, or Jinder Mahal and Alicia Fox versus Ember Moon and Apollo Crews.

Nothing against any of those Superstars, but those matches were just filler.

Crowd Chants of the Night:

Cena

Mean Gene

Hogan

Thank you Mean Gene

Get these hands

Burn it down

We want tables

Star of the Night

It’s my column and I can do how I see fit, right? Sure. And tonight, this award goes to…”Mean” Gene Okerlund. Why not? I mean, he never worked a show in the era of me doing Nutshells (or, as far as I know, any of my predecessors either). It’s an award for his memory, but still. The memorial segment, ten bell salute, Hogan speaking and the video package was well done. I guess I could give Hogan a nod too.

From an actual wrestling perspective, how about Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose, both opening and closing the show. Six man tag to open, falls count anywhere to close. All in a night’s work…

Spot of the Night:

I don’t even know what to say about this one…

Jobber of the Night:

I guess the lumberjacks?

Upset of the Night:

Corbin pinning Elias was a bit of a surprise.

Holy Sh** Moment of the Night:

Wow, Baron Corbin beat Elias!?

Did not expect Sasha Banks to defeat Nia Jax and thus become the #1 contender for Ronda Rousey’s RAW Women’s Championship.

Lashley’s closing attack on Seth Rollins. It cost Seth his chance at the Intercontinental Championship, plus gives him a new program. Wonder who chases the IC belt next…(even the announcers did say this was the end, during the match).

Noteworthy Moment:

Cena declared for the Royal Rumble. On one hand, no shock, everyone else is. On the other, we had news over the last couple weeks that indicated Cena might miss the event due to filming his next project. Seems those reports were off.

If you know wrestling history, you know that the careers of Hulk Hogan and “Mean” Gene Okerlund were very much connected. That friendship was on display as a genuinely emotional Hogan had to compose himself several times during his segment. Was good to see Hogan back, though you’d rather it be for better reasons than a memorial.

Was interesting listening to his reception. I could have heard wrong, but it sounded like some boos as he walked down? Anyone else hear that? Beyond that, I did expect a bigger response than what was heard, but then I saw something in the crowd and I wondered: so many fans nowadays are holding their smart phones and filming or texting or streaming the show. Wonder if some reactions are down, in terms of applause at least, because so many fans don’t have two free hands? OK, that’s my totally random thought for the evening.

Overall lowlights:

Am I the only one who wishes we’d see at least one of these new arrivals already? We’ve been seeing Lars vignettes for nearly two months now. The others going on a month. If you wanted to debut them in the Rumble matches, then do not announce them. If you don’t plan to debut them then…then stop hiding them.

Overall highlights:

It’s nice to see WWE have Brock Lesnar play with Braun Strowman’s mind. While Strowman was not wearing any sling for his repaired arm, word was he wouldn’t be cleared to perform until essentially the Rumble. Assuming those reports were close to accurate, it makes sense for these two (plus Heyman) to engage in a war of words and some mind games. Having Lesnar circle the ring, but not confront Strowman, strings things along and protects Strowman. For that matter, it saves the clash for a later date-not a bad move.

Excellent tribute for Okerlund.

After the final bell:

Anyone want to bet me that the feud between Roode and Gable and The Revival leads to either a best two out of three falls match, or perhaps a series with the same idea? I’m betting on the two out of three falls stipulation, though it will probably get stuck on the Rumble pre-show.

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