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WWE Raw: Hulk Hogan returns, Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose battle

By
Wade Sheridan

Jan. 8 (UPI) -- WWE legend Hulk Hogan returned for the first Raw of 2019 to pay homage to late professional wrestling interviewer 'Mean' Gene Okerlund.

Okerlund, who died on Wednesday at the age of 76, worked with Hogan throughout his career during interviews that took place inside and outside the ring.

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Hogan's tribute on Monday was preceded by a ten bell salute that was made in honor of Okerlund. The Hulkster, after playing to the crowd, took off his sunglasses and started to get more serious as he spoke about his late friend.

"Mean Gene loved entertaining and he loved entertaining everybody here in the WWE universe," Hogan said. "Mean Gene loved entertaining more than anything that he did."

Hogan said Okerlund would be enjoying his time in heaven next to other deceased wrestling greats such as 'Macho Man' Randy Savage, The Ultimate Warrior, Rowdy Roddy Piper, Mr. Perfect and Andre the Giant, among others.

John Cena also returned to Raw and declared he would be competing in the Royal Rumble match on Jan. 27. The winner of the Royal Rumble receives a championship match at WrestleMania.

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Cena was quickly interrupted by Drew McIntyre who was then interrupted by Bobby Lashley and his manager Lio Rush who demanded to see Seth Rollins. The Kingslayer arrived onto the scene and attacked Lashley. His rival, Intercontinental Champion Dean Ambrose, then came out.

Finn Balor, as a brawl ensued, came to the aid of Cena and Rollins in order to even the numbers. Cena, Rollins and Balor would go on to face Ambrose, Lashley and McIntyre in a Six-Man Tag Team Match. Rollins won the bout after he nailed Ambrose with the Curb Stomp.

Rollins' victory earned him another shot at Ambrose's Intercontinental Championship in a Falls Count Anywhere Match that was set for Raw's main event.

Rollins dominated the main event, punishing The Lunatic Fringe outside the ring and around the backstage area. As Rollins went to pin Ambrose following a Curb Stomp, Lashley returned to keep Rollins away from the title.

Lashley's assault on Rollins gave an exhausted Ambrose the chance to pin his rival and retain his Intercontinental Championship. Lashley then slammed Rollins through a table for good measure.

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Other moments from Raw included Raw Tag Team Champions Bobby Roode and Chad Gable defeating The Revival in a Lumberjack Match; Baron Corbin defeating Elias; Apollo Crews and Ember Moon defeating Jinder Mahal and Alicia Fox; Sasha Banks defeating Nia Jax to earn a title match against Raw Women's Champion Ronda Rousey; and Braun Strowman having a war of words with Universal Champion Brock Lesnar and his advocate Paul Heyman.

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