This week on RAW, three qualifying matches for the Elimination Chamber takes place. WWE Intercontinental Champion The Miz defends against Roman Reigns. Sasha Banks battles Asuka for the first time ever.
World Wrestling Entertainment presents RAW
From: Philadelphia, PA
Stephanie McMahon makes her way down to the ring to start the show with a promo. Stephanie puts over the historic week that WWE has had and talks about the first ever women’s Royal Rumble. She also talks about Ronda Rousey making her debut after the Rumble match. Stephanie says the focus tonight is on the winner of the Royal Rumble match, Asuka! Stephanie reminds Asuka that she’ll be going to WrestleMania. Stephanie suggests that Asuka wait before she reveals who she wants to challenge. Stephanie reveals that Alexa Bliss will be defending the Women’s Championship in the first ever women’s Elimination Chamber match. Asuka cuts a promo in Japanese. Asuka says she will become the champion at WrestleMania because nobody is ready for Asuka.
Sasha Banks makes her way out to interrupt the segment. Banks talks about making history last night and sharing the ring with Asuka. She just came out to give props to Asuka for winning and going to WrestleMania. Banks proved she can go the distance last night and she’s ready for Asuka tonight. Stephanie makes the match for tonight.
Opening Contest: Braun Strowman vs. Kane in a last man standing match, winner qualifies for Elimination Chamber: Strowman tosses in a few weapons into the ring during his entrance. After a commercial, Kane sends Braun shoulder first into the ring post. Kane hits Strowman on the legs with a kendo stick and they brawl in the crowd. Braun rams Kane face first into the barricade. Braun whacks Kane over the back with a steel chair. Braun fights back ramming Kane face first into the barricade. Braun sends a case into Kane’s arm. They are over by the announcers table as Strowman works over Kane with a chair. Strowman tips over the announcers table onto Kane. The referee calls for the bell and that’s it. (*. I guess it’s okay since it gives Braun a dominating win and I didn’t really want to see these guys wrestle again. I can’t imagine Strowman actually wins the Chamber match, but who knows.)
Corey Graves interviews Braun Strowman on the aisle way. Braun says he did his job and says he’s the last man standing. Braun stares at the wreckage he caused as officials check on Kane.
Michael Cole, Coach and Corey Graves are standing where their announcers table was previous located. They aren’t going to be able to do commentary up there for the rest of the evening and thus they’ll have to go down to ringside. Kane is having problems breathing as he’s being brought to the hospital. We get a live shot of Kane doing a stretcher job.
Backstage, Braun Strowman is walking around proud of himself. Kurt Angle runs over and tells Braun that he keeps on putting people in danger. Braun tells Kurt he’s right. Braun tells Kurt he’s going to be the last man standing at Elimination Chamber and he’ll be the last man standing at WrestleMania over Brock Lesnar.
Elias is in the ring and does his usual promo work asking who wants to walk with him. He is going to look towards the future instead of thinking about the past. Elias wrote a song for his opponent, Matt Hardy. He basically repeats that it is his night. Matt Hardy cuts him off.
Second Contest: Elias vs. Matt Hardy in a qualifying match for Elimination Chamber: Hardy works over Elias in the corner with a right hand and then yells at him. Elias controls Hardy on the mat with a side headlock. Hardy hits a back suplex on Elias and kicks Elias into the corner. Hardy tries for the Side Effect but Elias breaks free. Hardy chops Elias several times to keep control of the match. Hardy drives Elias down with a neckbreaker for a two count. Hardy has control of Elias wrenching on his neck but Elias fights out of the hold with chops. Elias avoids the Twist of Fate and clotheslines Hardy. Elias works over Hardy with stomps in the corner. Elias wraps Hardy’s left arm around the post. Elias continues to work over the left arm of Hardy as we go to commercial. They are putting an announcers table together at ringside.
Elias yanks Hardy down by his arm and they trade strikes in the middle of the ring. Hardy delivers a few headbutts followed by a side Russian leg sweep for a two count. Hardy rams Elias into the corner head first several times. Hardy clotheslines Elias in the corner but Elias avoids a bulldog. Hardy comes off the middle rope with an elbow strike. Hardy plants Elias with the Side Effect for a two count. Hardy sets up for the Twist of Fate, but Bray Wyatt causes a distraction. Elias hits the Drift Away for the win. (*3/4. Hardy’s character is just not connecting with the crowd and I can’t say I’m surprised. I’m digging Elias and I like his push he’s getting.) After the match, Bray Wyatt appears on the big screen and is laughing at a fallen Matt Hardy.
RAW is doing the cellphone interview that I’ve noticed on Smackdown. WWE Intercontinental Champion The Miz talked about being owed silence and respect since he’s the champion. He is owed a standing ovation when he defends the championship.
Second Contest: WWE Intercontinental Champion The Miz vs. Roman Reigns: Miz runs right into a right hand from Reigns as he tried to get the early advantage. Reigns continues to work over Miz with strikes in the corner. Reigns sends Miz into the corner but runs into a boot. Reigns isn’t bothered by chops from Miz and drops Miz with another strike. Reigns clotheslines Miz over the top to the floor. Reigns goes to the floor and sends Miz shoulder first into the ring steps. Reigns scares off Axel and Dallas to get away from Miz. Reigns rolls Miz into the ring only to clothesline Miz over the top to the floor again. Reigns goes to the floor and grabs a steel chair to scare off Axel and Dallas again. They actually run all the way backstage. Reigns goes to use the chair but the referee is yelling at him and Reigns tosses the chair down. Miz is able to send Reigns face first into the ring post as we go to commercial.
Miz has kept a sleeper hold on Reigns to maintain control of the match. Reigns drops Miz with a Samoan Drop to counter the Skull Crushing Finale. Miz delivers a flurry of punches but Reigns comes back with a few clotheslines. Reigns beats on Miz with several short arm clotheslines a big boot coming off the ropes. Miz avoids the spear managing to deliver a chop block to Roman’s knee. Miz continues to work over Reigns with kicks to the chest but Reigns blocks a kick to the head and goes for a powerbomb but Miz counters and locks in the figure four. Reigns can’t reach the ropes as Miz drags him back to the middle of the ring. Reigns turns over the figure four and Miz is trying to reach the ropes now and is able to. Miz chop blocks Reigns to keep him on the mat. Reigns rolls Miz up but then switches to a one arm sit out powerbomb. Reigns goes for the cover but Miz kicks out at two! Miz goes to the corner and tries to expose the turnbuckle but the referee catches him. Reigns grabs Miz but Miz delivers an eye rake and plants Reigns with the Skull Crushing Finale for a two count. Reigns rams Miz back first into the corner followed by a back elbow. Reigns misses a spear but nails Miz with the Superman Punch for a two count.
Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas come back out to ringside and Reigns decks Axel off the apron. Dallas is with Miz and gets met with a right hand. Reigns punches Miz and sells the left leg that has been bothering him. Reigns gets grabbed by Dallas on the apron but hip tosses Dallas into the ring and hits a Superman Punch on Axel. Reigns spears Dallas leading to Miz getting a rollup and pins Reigns! (**3/4. I thought this was slightly better than their match last week, but it was pretty much the same formula. I’d have to think that this would eventually lead to a cage match between the two in order to prevent any interference. I’m liking that Miz is getting several pinfall victories over Reigns. Miz should be getting elevated and I’m in full support of that direction. Reigns losing isn’t going to hurt him since he’s likely going to main event WrestleMania regardless.)
Third Contest: Heath Slater & Rhyno vs. The Revival (Dash Wilder & Scott Dawson): Rhyno and Wilder are wrestling as the match is joined in progress after a commercial. Slater comes off the top to drive down onto the arm of Wilder. Dash knee lifts Slater but Slater hits a few forearm strikes to send Wilder to the floor. Dawson cheap shots Slater and Wilder delivers an arm breaker. Dawson tags in and works over the left arm with a hammerlock back suplex. Dawson delivers a leg drop and Wilder comes off the middle rope with a knee strike. Wilder keeps Slater on the mat working over the left arm. Slater fights back with a neckbreaker on Wilder. Rhyno gets tagged in and cleans house on Dawson and Wilder with clotheslines. Rhyno elbows Dawson and hits a middle rope shoulder block. Rhyno hits a belly to belly suplex on Dawson. Slater goes after Wilder on the floor while Dawson chop blocks Rhyno. Revival hit the Shatter Machine for the win. (*1/2. It was a fine match and I’m really liking the Revival. They keep their stuff simple and they come across like a true wrestling tag team. Their gimmick of no dives makes them stick out and I really enjoy their wrestling. I hope they have a big 2018.)
The Revival cut a promo talking about beating the first ever Smackdown Live Tag Team Champions. Wilder says that the fans don’t care about how good they are. The fans just care about chanting ECW to get themselves over. Wilder says they learned from the past while the fans can’t stop living in the past.
The Dudley Boys will be getting inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame this year. There is a video package highlighting the accomplishment.
The Balor Club cut a cellphone promo backstage with Finn Balor putting over his Royal Rumble performance where he lasted 57 minutes and 38 seconds. Balor’s moment was taken away from John Cena. Now, he is going to step up and fight the man who cost him the Rumble match. Tonight, he’s facing John Cena and he’s going to step over John Cena.
Backstage, Sasha Banks is interviewed regarding her match with Asuka. Banks says we are moments away from her beating Asuka. Banks says it is her turn to make history.
Fourth Contest: Asuka vs. Sasha Banks: Banks backs Asuka into a corner and backs away. Banks gets a close fall with a rollup. Asuka comes off the ropes with a shoulder block and arm drags Banks. Banks gets control with a roll through and controls the arm of Asuka. Banks pummels Asuka in the corner with strikes and chokes Asuka. Asuka lifts Banks onto the apron and delivers a knee strike followed by a kick. Asuka runs and knocks Banks off the apron with her butt. Asuka works over Banks in the corner by choking her and delivers a kick. Asuka sends Banks into a corner but Banks delivers a knee strike and a running double knee strike for a two count. Banks taunts Asuka as we go to commercial.
Asuka delivers several kicks to Banks chest as we return from commercial. Banks stops Asuka with a double knee splash in the corner for a two count. Banks controls Asuka on the mat with her knee pressed into Asuka’s shoulder blades. Banks drives Asuka down to the mat to maintain control of the contest. Banks takes Asuka over with a snap suplex for a two count. Banks comes off the ropes and just slaps Asuka. Asuka gets up and strikes Banks several times. Banks takes Asuka down with a head scissors and puts the Bank Statement on but Asuka rolls over for a near fall. Banks gets the Bank Statement on Asuka again but can’t get a submission! Banks knee lifts Asuka and sends her to the floor. Banks comes off the ropes and attempts a suicide dive but he legs hit the top rope and Asuka kicks Banks right on the face. That was incredibly dangerous. They get back in the ring and trade strikes. Asuka delivers a knee to the face and several more strikes to drop Banks. Asuka delivers a sliding knee to send Banks to the corner where she delivers a splash. Asuka heads to the top rope connecting with a missile dropkick. Asuka goes for the cover but Banks kicks out at two. Banks has a rollup on Asuka for a two count. Asuka gets the arm bar on Banks but Banks is able to rollover and nearly pins Asuka. Banks goes to the apron where Asuka attempts another butt splash but Banks moves and Asuka crashes to the floor! Banks comes off the apron to deliver a double knee splash! Banks heads to the top rope delivering another double knee strike but Asuka kicks out at two! Asuka elbows Banks and tries for the chicken wing. Banks counters and hits the backstabber and puts the Bank Statement on Asuka! Asuka struggles and Banks prevents Asuka from reaching the ropes. Asuka counters and gets the Asuka Lock on Banks! Asuka forces Banks to submit! (***1/4. That was a really good women’s match, folks. There were a few dangerous moments, but this held my interest and flew by. A really good, quality women’s match. These are the kind of matches that need to be delivered for the women’s revolution to really make an impact. They were given plenty of time, it was very competitive and it delivered a quality match.)
John Cena did a cellphone promo and talks about how does he get to WrestleMania. He let a chance slip through his fingers last night. However, tonight he is going to beat Finn Balor to get in the Elimination Chamber and win the match to challenge for the title at WrestleMania. Cena says he’s just getting started.
Fifth Contest: RAW Tag Team Champions Sheamus & Cesaro vs. Apollo Crews & Titus O’Neill: Crews and Sheamus start the match with Crews getting a two count with a rollup causing Sheamus to bail to the floor. Sheamus sends Crews into the ropes but Crews nearly wins with another rollup. Sheamus elbows Crews in the corner and delivers a shoulder block. Sheamus comes off the ropes and is met with a dropkick. Crews tags in O’Neill and they knock Sheamus down with an elbow strike. Sheamus elbows Titus followed by an uppercut. Titus works over Sheamus with several strikes in the corner. Cesaro tags in and continues to work over Titus with several uppercuts. Titus drives Cesaro back first into the corner and delivers several chops. Titus tosses Cesaro out of the corner and plays to the crowd splashing Cesaro. Sheamus tags in as Titus slams Cesaro. Sheamus attacks Titus from behind and knocks Titus to the floor as we go to commercial.
Cesaro has a sleeper hold on Titus, but Titus breaks free with a back suplex. Sheamus knocks Crews off the apron and clotheslines Titus. Cesaro clotheslines Titus for a two count. Titus tries to tag in Crews, but Cesaro prevents him and tags in Sheamus. Sheamus sends Titus to the floor. Cesaro tries to attack Titus on the floor but Titus drops Cesaro with a big boot. Sheamus is met with a right hand from Titus several times. Titus sends Sheamus throat first into the top rope. Titus slowly gets in the ring and is met with a knee strike. Titus recovers to clothesline Sheamus. Sheamus tags in Cesaro and Crews gets tagged in as well. Crews clotheslines Cesaro several times followed by a kick to the face. Crews forearms Cesaro from the apron and hits a top rope crossbody for a two count. Crews drops Cesaro with a clothesline and gets the crowd behind. Crews hits a standing moonsault for a two count on Cesaro. Cesaro tags in Sheamus but Crews lands badly on his head as Sheamus dropped him. Sheamus nearly wins with a rollup. Crews kicks Sheamus followed by a standing moonsault for a two count as Cesaro breaks up the cover. Titus sends Cesaro to the floor but runs into a boot from Sheamus. Cesaro tags in and hits a cross body but Crews rolls through for a near fall. Cesaro sends Crews into the post shoulder first. Bar hits White Noise/neckbreaker combo to pin Crews. (**1/4. There was some actual suspense in the match since Titus and Crews had gotten two victories over the Bar in recent weeks. There were a few dangerous spots and a little sloppy, but I enjoyed most of the match. Apollo Crews is capable of getting the crowd behind him with his explosive offense and seems to be getting wasted. I’d like to see Crews get a push. I think the crowd would get behind him.)
Apparently, Kane sat up from the hospital bed and crawled out of the hospital. He hasn’t been seen since. I don’t know why, but I thought that was hilarious.
Main Event: Finn Balor vs. John Cena in a qualifying match for Elimination Chamber: Balor backs Cena into a corner early on and cleanly breaks away. Cena controls Balor with a wrist lock and takes Balor down to the mat. Balor arm drags Cena and locks in an arm bar. Balor arm drags Cena several times and controls Cena’s left arm. Balor avoids a slam but Cena drops Balor with a shoulder block. Cena takes Balor down to the mat with a headlock for a few moments. Balor gets a two count with a rollup and Cena rolls to the floor to regroup. Cena gets back in the ring and does a test of strength with Balor. Fans are paying more attention to someone with a beach ball in the crowd. Cena has the advantage controlling Balor on the mat with the test of strength. Balor kicks Cena to break free and gets a rollup for a two count. Cena decks Falor with a right hand to the forehead as we go to commercial.
Balor comes off the ropes but Cena drops him with a forearm strike. Cena scoop slams Balor for a two count. Cena sends Balor back first into the corner and Balor crashes to the canvas. The fans are booing Cena, who points at the WrestleMania sign and shrugs. Balor boots Cena in the corner followed by a few forearm strikes. Balor delivers a double stomp and Cena rolls to the corner. Balor chops Cena in the corner but Cena comes back with a few shoulder blocks and a slam. Cena comes off the ropes and misses the Five Knuckle Shuffle. Balor drops Cena with a reverse DDT for a two count. Cena attempts an AA but Balor breaks free and trades right hands with Cena. Balor comes off the ropes and is met with a boot to the face. Cena hits the Five Knuckle Shuffle. Cena attempts the AA but Balor avoids it and hits an overhead kick for a two count. Balor drops Cena with a Sling Blade. Balor waits in the corner but is met with a clothesline. Balor boots Cena in the corner and tries for the Sling Blade. Cena catches Balor and hits the AA! Cena has the cover but Balor kicks out, which shocks Cena. Cena doesn’t understand why the fans are booing him and says he’s just trying to go to Mania. Balor kicks Cena off the top rope and delivers a running dropkick. Balor goes to the top rope but misses a double stomp. Balor grabs his knee and Cena locks in the STF! Balor struggles but reaches the bottom rope to break the hold. Balor goes to the apron and kicks Cena. Balor heads to the top rope again but Cena gets up and proceeds to hit a middle rope AA for the win. (**1/4. I didn’t find this match to be all that enjoyable. I did like the focus on Cena acknowledging the crowd booing him and having that seemingly bother him. I doubt that will lead to any kind of heel turn, but I’m curious to see if they continue in that direction for Cena’s character. Cena needs to be freshened up at this point. The finish was rather predictable, too. This was a rather disappointing “first time ever” match.) After the match, Cena plays to the crowd while Balor is helped to the backstage area.
Plenty of focus on the Elimination Chamber pay per view this week. There were several quality matches on the show and RAW was actually pretty easy to watch this week, which is a rarity. I’ll give the show a thumbs up.
Thanks for reading.
31-year old currently living in Syracuse, New York. Longtime fan of the New York Mets, Chicago Bulls and Minnesota Vikings. Avid fan of professional wrestling and write reviews/articles on the product. Usually focusing on the old school wrestling.