It was another dramatic step forward in the WWE's women's evolution, and the piece de resistance of a Raw that laid out a lot of runway for the next five weeks and the journey to the Royal Rumble pay-per-view.
Brock Lesnar, Braun Strowman and Kane got right down to business, taking up just 11 minutes at the open of the show before all three men called it a night. Paul Heyman insisted Lesnar had to interject, and Kurt Angle announced a triple threat match for the Universal championship between them at the Royal Rumble. Lesnar then hit a clothesline to Strowman and an F-5 to Kane to seal the agreement, and that was that.
It opened the door for the rest of Raw to be about everything else. In addition to the women's Royal Rumble announcement, we got the surprise debut of Hideo Itami one night early, bringing things full circle from NXT as Itami joined Finn Balor as his tag team partner in a time of need against the Miztourage. After the better part of a year on the shelf, The Revival made their long-awaited return to the ring with a victory over Heath Slater and Rhyno.
Drew Gulak held his own and got the upper hand at several points in his No. 1 contender's match against Cedric Alexander, only for his thirst for acceptance from Enzo Amore to be his downfall, thanks to the distraction of Amore's departure.
There was also the case of a supposed French dictator trapped in the vessel of a goldfish losing a chess match to "woken" Matt Hardy, but that's an issue best handled by someone with a psychology degree or three more than I hold.
What does it all mean for the Royal Rumble and, beyond that, WrestleMania? Let's break it all down.
Women are ready to Rumble
In a moment 30 years in the making, the women of Raw and SmackDown (and possibly NXT) will get their first ever Royal Rumble match at the 30th anniversary edition of the iconic pay-per-view on Jan. 28 in Philadelphia.
After a three-year stretch where milestones like the first women's Iron Man, Hell in a Cell and Money in the Bank matches all became a reality, as well as the first ever women's pay-per-view main event, it doesn't get much bigger than a women's Rumble. Sure, there have been plenty of battle royals on all of the WWE's weekly programs, for titles and title shots alike, but stepping onto the stage of the Royal Rumble with a WrestleMania title shot on the line raises the stakes a great deal.
Not only does it establish a lengthy championship rivalry that is guaranteed to last for more than two months along the way, but like the Royal Rumble match we've all come to know and love, it comes with so many other added perks. There's also the potential of setting the stage for a half-dozen other rivalries through how the match plays out, further developing the depth of storytelling in the women's divisions.
But there's also the surprises that a Royal Rumble match can bring. In addition to legends like Trish Stratus, Beth Phoenix, Lita or any number of other icons who could come back for such a historic occasions, there's also the element of Rumble surprises. Much along the same lines of AJ Styles' debut in 2016, if this became the moment for, say, Ronda Rousey to make her presence felt within the WWE, it would blow the roof of the Wells Fargo Center.
There's plenty of time for the details to be sorted out, like how many women will get a chance to compete and where it'll fall on the card, but this is a moment to enjoy a piece of history.
The Revival comes back to save the tag team division from itself
There could not have been more rotten luck than what's befallen Dash Wilder and Scott Dawson since they debuted on Monday Night Raw back in April. Less than two weeks after answering the New Day's call and laying out the longest reigning tag team champions (and their little ice cream cart, too), Wilder suffered a broken jaw during a NXT live event, the brand's farewell tour for the Revival.
Wilder returned eight weeks later, and they picked up victories over both The Hardy Boyz and Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson, only for Dawson to suffer a ruptured bicep in early August. It took just over four months of recovery, but Dawson stepped back into the ring on Monday night and looked as though he hadn't lost a step. The Revival hit the first of what will hopefully be many Shatter Machines to come to pick up the victory over Slater and Rhyno.
Their arrival could not have been more fortuitously timed.
As good as the matches have been between Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins and Sheamus & Cesaro, seeing some form of that conflict in singles, tag or six-man tag team action every single week on Raw has grown stale. All credit goes to those four men, who continue to try new and innovative spots and different paces to keep things fresh, but you could march out Ric Flair and Ricky Steamboat every single week for the same audience and eventually, they'd grow tired of it.
Having the match that featured Ambrose, Rollins and Jason Jordan taking on Cesaro, Sheamus and Samoa Joe end with a focus on Ambrose's arm injury, followed by further harm done during a backstage segment moments later, is hopefully a way to create some space between the current and former Raw tag team champions. Between The Revival, Gallows & Anderson and whatever else the Raw tag team division can put together, it's time for something fresh.
Hits and misses
Rollins versus Jordan, which was the first match of the show, likely wouldn't have gone over so poorly in the beginning if Rollins versus Samoa Joe wasn't the advertised match to begin with. Jordan is throwing his all into his whiny, entitled son gimmick, but it's time for something big to happen between him and Angle (who's his father, by the way, if you've forgotten). Rollins and Jordan had to fight through "this is boring" chants for several minutes before breaking through and catching on with the audience towards the end of the contest. The fans hate Jordan, so give them a reason to really hate him so that the negative energy being sent in his direction can more easily be channeled into a positive outcome.
Itami came to Balor's rescue as a tag team partner in much the same way that Balor helped Itami against The Ascension in his NXT debut back in 2014. After a shoulder injury robbed Itami of more than a year of his career, and a neck injury that took another five months, Itami finally has a chance to show what he can do for a broader audience -- and a Go 2 Sleep to pick up a victory on Monday Night Raw can only help.
Imagining somebody explaining the phrase "thirst trap" to Vince McMahon or the veteran producers of WWE was funny, up to the point where I myself had to Google it to make sure it didn't bleed over into something that could get me in trouble for mentioning it. Amore and Nia Jax is, at its heart, the odd couple story we've seen so many times in WWE.
The Gulak vs. Alexander match was a solid effort for both men, highlighted by Alexander hitting a Spanish Fly and Gulak's increasing physicality. It's now up to Alexander to step up and prove himself a worthy No. 1 contender for the cruiserweight championship.
Another week, another win for Asuka. She has to be a prohibitive early favorite to win the first ever women's Royal Rumble.
Elias feigned friendship with Tom Brady, only to dedicate his song to Roger Goodell. That's a man who knows his audience.
Dueling promos between Hardy and Bray Wyatt is likely the best way to go for the immediate future, as it seems the seeds for the "Great War" have been planted. Whether it happens at the Hardy compound or the Wyatt residence, it will certainly have a low bar to clear when it comes to precedent in the WWE.
Someday, Absolution will have a full match together, right?