Hi everybody! SAM here with our friendly neighborhood Botch as we are here to talk about this week’s episode of Raw. This is actually the go-home episode for Elimination Chamber and that really snuck right up on us. Plenty to look forward to this week so let us jump right in and see what the Monday night brand had for us.
Miz TV – The Miz & Drew McIntyre
Solid stuff from Miz here as he hosted Miz TV without Morrison for the first time in quite a bit. He did a good job in hyping up Drew as his guest and Drew would come out. Drew didn’t want to play any games though as he was all business here. Miz would try to be his usual self but Drew had absolutely no time for it. Drew would end up attacking Miz and would leave. This is when things got even more interesting as Miz did one of his trademark intense promos that would end with him removing himself from the Elimination Chamber match. He didn’t need to be in it anyways since he has the MITB briefcase so it will be interesting to see who ends up being his replacement. Nice opening segment overall from two guys that can get it done on the mic.
So glad they took Miz out of the Chamber. It made no sense for him to be there. He already has a title match no matter what happens. I’m also really glad they took the case from Otis. He just doesn’t have it to tell stories like Miz does. Honestly, few do. Miz is just unbeatable on the mic. “Can I call ya Andy?” DEAD! Drew played it perfectly too – reacting perfectly while Miz just went on and on and on and on… Drew blew up so well too. Miz recovered and finished telling the story. This was all it needed to be. Fun segment.
The Hurt Business (MVP, Shelton Benjamin, & Cedric Alexander) vs Riddle & Lucha House Party (Lince Dorado & Gran Metallik)
This was a fun little tag match here and I am liking the pairing of the Lucha House Party with Riddle. Raw actually doesn’t have much going with tag teams so this could be a nice way to build up LHP into something of a legit contender that does not get the random fluke looking win. I dug their interaction in Gorilla prior to the match and everybody seems to have fun when they are in a segment with Riddle. The match itself was nice with plenty of back-and-forth action in it. Riddle would end up picking up the win by hitting the Floating Bro on MVP and he looked to celebrate with LHP. That was until Bobby Lashley would come out and unleash another beating on LHP and Riddle. He would put Riddle in the Hurt Lock and it was interesting that Keith Lee was nowhere to be seen here. Nice match and post-match beatdown from Lashley.
I agree; this was good. The promo was mostly fun. LHP and Riddle work well together. LHP do nothing for me on the mic whatsoever and that’s been a problem the whole time. With Riddle, they don’t need to worry about that anymore. Riddle is unhinged and he eliminates that issue for them. Riddle was fun on the mic but when Lince started talking, it was stiff and “Saved By the Bell”.
There are no apologies for anyone to make in the ring – certainly not LHP. Riddle’s Floating Bro really is fun. Shelton has found new life in Hurt Business and he’s so much more compelling this way. I love that Cedric is so vocal while he’s working. He’s becoming compelling arrogant slime. This is the heel Cedric we’d see on the indies. It was always there and now we’re seeing it. I always love seeing Lashley snapping and he did it here on poor Riddle. There’s some doubt as to whether Keith Lee will be in the match will Riddle (this may be real too; still working to confirm) and that makes it far less compelling. Still, we should get a good match out of Riddle & Lashley regardless.
Backstage Segment – The Miz & Adam Pearce
Miz was great here in pitching who he thought should take his place in the Elimination Chamber and of course he would want it to be Morrison. There really is nobody else he would pick and Pearce told him he would take it under consideration. Botch has also been dead on about Pearce and his facial expressions. I feel like facial expressions are the most underrated part of anybody’s game in wrestling and he has some of the best going right now throughout the business.
Pearce is just aces when it comes to facial reactions. He emotes so well. I always look at the other person in situations like this and Pearce’s face told the story just as well as Miz did with this dialog. You can’t do this any better.
Backstage Segment – Bad Bunny, Mandy Rose, Damian Priest, R-Truth & Akira Tozawa
I know there is a section of the IWC that does not like Bad Bunny but I have actually seen the IWC come to embrace him because of how well he has done. The man is a lifelong fan like many of us and we are all kind of living through him right now even though he is a celebrity. You should see the Day Of special of the Royal Rumble to see how much of a fan he still is because he was geeking out the whole time he was there. He was talking a bit with Mandy Rose and then would talk to Damian Priest. They had some words and then R-Truth and Akira Tozawa would come by with Akira pinning Truth for the 24/7 Championship. This is when things got really fun when Priest laid out Akira and told Bunny to pin him to win the title. Bunny legit looked overjoyed with this and I feel nothing but love for that man because he is living the dream he may have thought he would never get.
If you don’t like Bad Bunny, you simply don’t get how this stuff works. As I said before, unlike the rest of the WWE superstars who are “wrestling famous”, Bad Bunny really is famous and he’s great for business. His merch outsells everyone else’s by a nautical mile. Even better is that he’s into this entirely. He really has been fun and he’s giving a nice rub to Damian Priest too. I love that he became the 24/7 champ and I’m hoping that Truth will show up at SNL when Bunny is there this Saturday to reclaim the title – hopefully in the middle of a sketch (they break the fourth wall often so why not?). Akira was really fun here too.
Oh, and Mandy & Bunny have the chemistry of oil and water. That was just awkward. Thankfully, it ended quickly.
Backstage Segment – The New Day, Adam Pearce & The Miz
I love how Kofi pointed out that he is a former WWE Champion and how he is the easy replacement for the Miz. I also love how Xavier Woods continues his quest for a match with Reckoning and that match needs to happen. The Miz would end up coming in to continue his plea for Morrison and I love how Kofi dismissed that because he is not a former WWE Champion. Miz of course would bring up how Morrison is a former WWECW Champion and I love how Kofi dismissed that as a legit title. Pearce would end up making a match between the two with the winner getting their respective way. I love how Kofi and Woods poked fun at the Marine sequels and how peeved Miz got for them calling them bad. Really fun segment overall and Pearce continued to nail it with facial expressions.
That look on Wood’s face when Miz evoked that ECW title run that didn’t matter. Miz referenced sequels and became a sitting duck for the ether-ing his mama shoulda gave him. I loved to see it. The whole time, Pearce was totally into it with reacting genius. So much fun.
Charlotte Flair & Asuka vs Lacey Evans & Peyton Royce
The promo Lacey did prior to the match was fine I guess but it just reminded me of how I have not been into this whole feud between her and Charlotte Flair. Peyton ended up doing all the work in the tag match and we would end up finding out why. I will say that it was nice to see Peyton work the ring because she is good when she gets a chance in there. Peyton should totally be given a real shot and if not, pair her back up with Billie Kay to reform the ever so awesome IIconics. Charlotte and Asuka would get their licks in on Peyton and Peyton would eventually tag Lacey. That is when Lacey would end up getting on the mic and saying that she was pregnant. Ric started celebrating to imply that the kid is his and that was that for the match. I was ready to completely trash this but the word is that Lacey is legit pregnant and this is their way to write her off. All reports do seem to say she is pregnant so in that case, congrats to Lacey and her hubby on another child and I look forward to seeing her when she comes back.
This time, Sam is very nice. This time, I’m not. This has become a complete disaster. In WWE-land, Lacey is pregnant and Ric is the father (she’s pregnant with her second child in reality). Like…what? This is just utterly terrible writing; Ric and Lacey are not to blame. This whole thing could really have been fun. Instead, they’ve gone off the deep end and I’m turning on it entirely.
The match? It was perfectly fine, though I have no idea why Asuka & Charlotte are still together. It makes zero sense at this point. Peyton is really struggling to find direction since being split from Billie. Didn’t see that coming. I figured Billie would struggle and she’s become even more fun than she was before. Still, I hope they can come back together again as Peyton deserves more than she’s getting.
Backstage Segment – Sheamus
Sheamus has really become one of my favorites on the mic right now because he just comes off so naturally. Maybe whatever acting classes he took when he made that TMNT movie did wonders for him because he really is killer on the mic now. He spoke about how he should be facing Drew in a standard match but he won’t complain as he is still able to get his hands on him and the WWE Championship. He just will make more people suffer and I am digging this. This feud with Drew is still in the early stages but it is coming along quite nicely.
Yeah, I agree. This is the best of Sheamus right now. He’s an amazing heel and we’re getting that now. He tells a very compelling story too. The match that results will be spectacular.
Kofi Kingston vs The Miz
These two have been in the company for quite some time now and it showed with how good this match was. This build up rather nicely over time and told quite the good story. Miz was fighting for his best friend to be added to the Chamber and Kofi was fighting for another chance at “KofiMania” to kickstart at Elimination Chamber. Really fun action between the two and the chemistry is clearly there from years and years of matches. The story was told very well and Miz really does show that he can be in there with the best of the best even if his style is not the flashiest of the bunch. Kofi would end up winning and earning the vacated spot inside the Chamber. Kofi will also have to be in the gauntlet match and we shall see how he fairs there.
Yeah, these two were never gonna get it wrong. Both of them can get it done in the ring and they showed that here. I’m also thrilled that Kofi won so he can be in the Chamber. I really wish the Chamber could have a traditional audience. The story that they’re moving toward involves a physical crowd – something they can’t have right now for obvious reasons. They’ll control the reactions and it won’t be organic. A shame but what choice do they have?
Backstage Segment –Lana & Naomi
Solid enough promo from Lana here as she spoke about beating Nia Jax and her hole last week. Lana knows she needs to focus if she wants to beat Shayna this week and Naomi has her back. I do like this pair and I do think they should be the ones to beat Nia and Shayna. I do say that and also want Lana and Naomi to then drop the titles to Dakota and Raquel because I think the tag titles would be better served in NXT where they have the depth for a women’s tag division compared to Raw and Smackdown.
I agree with Sam. Lana was really fun here. She really excels in this role. She’s very good at putting across real emotion and trepidation. I also like that she has a confidante here. I would love to see them as tag champs too.
I agree with Sam about them dropping to Dakota & Raquel simply for the fact that Dakota is a star.
Backstage Segment – Randy Orton & Alexa Bliss
Randy is continuing to be stellar on the mic and spoke about how he still has unfinished business with Drew due to Sheamus interrupting their match last week. He said he plans on winning the Chamber match and moving on from everything because everything he has done has prepared him for it. He name dropped when he burned the Fiend and I wondered if we would get a hint of him or see Bliss. My question would be answered das Alexa would appear in the Fun House and she would begin to talk about resurrecting the Fiend. She would be shown sitting in a pentagram and it seems like she is doing some black magic stuff to bring him back. I am loving this and Randy better watch out for what is coming for him.
Lana w/ Naomi vs Shayna Baszler w/ Nia Jax
Good enough match and that is more than you can ask for with someone at Lana’s level. She isn’t horrible in the ring like she used to be and it is clear she is putting in the work to get better. One thing that she is great at though is her selling because she gives just the right amount and doesn’t go into Dolph territory of overdoing it. Shayna did make it look easy for the most part even though Lana did have some hope spots. Shayna would make her tap and looks to regain the momentum for her team for whenever their eventual title match happens.
I agree that Lana has really improved. She tells a good story in there – especially with her face. She reacts so well. When it starts to go south, her face tells the story. I also enjoy her selling. Shayna is just a mercenary and she was having fun here. I love seeing the Kirifuda Clutch and way Baszler puts it on. It just looks so completely cruel.
Backstage Segment – Adam Pearce & Braun Strowman
I loved how Pearce told Braun that being a former Universal Champion is not the same as being a former WWE Champion. Braun wanted in on the Chamber match but he was told why he wasn’t going to be in it. Braun sure did name drop Shane McMahon plenty and even told Pearce to tell him what he said so he can get answers. This is making me think we are heading for a Braun/Shane match at Wrestlemania and I would be for it so long as it is a street fight of sorts so Shane can flourish in his element.
I literally have no reason to care about Braun at this point. He’s barely been there. It does feel as if they’re headed for Braun/Shane for Mania but they’ve got some work to do to make me care about it. Still, the storytelling here was quite solid.
Gauntlet Match #1 – AJ Styles vs Kofi Kingston
WWE tends to have a good track record with gauntlet matches over the last few years and I was looking forward to this one. I enjoyed the promo by AJ prior to this one and how he spoke about how he would crush Kofi’s hopes because that is what he does now. Kofi would end up coming out and these two would have quite the good match. I loved how Omos got involved by choking Woods and tossed him over the barricade. That would cause Omos to be thrown out and the match would continue. Kofi and AJ have some great chemistry and I actually want to see more from these two. Both are great in the ring and imagine if they were given 25-30 minutes of ring time. AJ would end up winning by taking advantage over Kofi having wrestled a match earlier. AJ advanced in the gauntlet and would be facing Drew McIntyre next.
Agreed with all of the above. These two did well here as we knew they would. Kofi’s already in the chamber so I’m not trippin’. This got plenty of the time and they both did great work. The best part of this for me was Omos disposing of Woods. They both played it perfectly. Woods was in mid-note on Francesca II and Omos decided he was a little flat. The camera work made Omos look one-hundred feet tall. Woods sold it like a rock star and Omos looked incredibly menacing. Fantastic stuff.
Gauntlet Match #2 – AJ Styles vs Drew McIntyre
This was by far my favorite of the gauntlet matches and this really was some pay-per-view level work from these two. They had a great match last year and this was another one during the gauntlet. Really good chemistry and back and forth in this one from these two here. AJ worked the knee to try and chop down Drew and Drew would fight back during it. This match was plenty of fun and I can watch these two do battle whenever they please. I did wonder if AJ would win but Drew would end up beating AJ to advance in the gauntlet. This was quite the match and this could main event any show in all honesty with how good it was.
This could have appeared on a PPV and I wouldn’t have been mad. McIntyre sells really well and he did well with the work AJ was doing on his knee. He made that Calf Crusher look like it was gonna kill him. It really was hard to tell who’d win here. ‘Course, as Omos had gotten himself thrown out, there was no one to interference and as a result, this one was for the wrestling fans…and I loved it.
Gauntlet Match #3 – Drew McIntyre vs Jeff Hardy
Jeff may not be the greatest on the mic but he surely makes up for it with his ring work. He has always been talented in the ring and is more than just the guy who did the high spots and took risks. Jeff and Drew have some darn good chemistry and I really enjoyed this match as well. Jeff did not waste any time in trying to take it to Drew as he just went through a war with AJ. The two traded back and forth in the match and Jeff thought he was close to winning but that would not be the case as Drew would come out on top to advance and he would be greeted by Randy Orton next.
For as bad as Jeff is on the mic, he’s as good in the ring. He displays all the nuance and fluidity that’s missing when he talks. This was another really fun match and I’m glad Hardy will be in the ring in the Chamber. I just don’t want the promos from him I know we’ll get before that happens.
Gauntlet Match #4 – Drew McIntyre vs Randy Orton
I just knew something screwy was going to happen with this match and that is exactly what happened. Orton came out and he and Drew had some nice work in the ring for as long as it lasted. Randy would end up finding himself on the outside and that is when the mind games would come in. The lights started going down and Alexa Bliss would take over the ThunderDome screens with her laughing face. Randy was completely distracted by this and would end up getting counted out. Drew advances and it seems like Orton isn’t done with the Fiend and Alexa Bliss like he thought he was.
There’s no way Sheamus wasn’t going to get involved here. Orton is busy now with the Fiend stuff I can no longer cover (I don’t do Satanic black magic stuff) and Sheamus is the new hotness for McIntyre. Fun match until that stuff started.
Gauntlet Match #5– Drew McIntyre vs Sheamus
Of course, Sheamus would attack Drew from behind instead of facing him face to face. It totally goes in line with him right now and I liked the beating he gave to Drew. The referee asked Drew if he wanted to continue and Drew would tell him to get the match started. These two gave us a nice preview of what will be coming with them as they had some nice work in there. I do not want a technical match from these two but rather a good old fashioned hoss fight. It needs to be like what Big E has said in the past of two big meaty men slapping meat. I did think that there was a chance Drew would win but Sheamus would end up hitting Drew with a Brogue Kick for the win and earns the right to enter last into the Chamber match. I loved the post-match promo from Sheamus and how he was bragging about the win like he beat a totally healthy Drew. Drew versus Sheamus is building up quite nicely and I am digging all of it.
When we really get this match, it’s going to be amazing like I said above. This was a really solid foreshadowing of said match. I agree that this is more likely to be a fight than anything. Sheamus’ promo was great. Man, I can’t wait for this!
T h e D e d u c t i o n
Overall, I rather enjoyed this episode of Raw. The only really bad part was the Lacey stuff but she seems to be legit pregnant so I am happy for her and her family. The gauntlet match was a ton of fun and the AJ/Drew match of the gauntlet was the best of the matches in my eyes. Pearce continues to show his awesome facial expressions and I love that Bad Bunny is a champion. All in all, nice stuff from Raw this week and a solid go-home episode for Elimination Chamber.
Solid episode of Raw. Lacey/Ric/Charlotte has devolved into a total mess because of bad writing. Shame too since Ric is really on for this. This effectively wastes him. Bad Bunny is the 24/7 champ and I’m loving it.
Oh, and GIVE US WOODS VS. RECKONING!!!