Monday Night Raw
Date: January 29, 2018
Location: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Commentators: Michael Cole, Corey Graves, Booker T.
It’s the night after the Royal Rumble where the big story was the debut of Ronda Rousey, who came out for a staredown with Charlotte, Asuka and Stephanie McMahon to end the show. Other than that we need a #1 contender, which is why the qualifying matches for the Elimination Chamber begin tonight. Let’s get to it.
We open with a look at Rousey’s debut and all the mainstream coverage. I couldn’t escape this story today and that’s a big reason why this was done.
Jonathan Coachman is welcomed back to the announcers’ booth.
There are new match graphics for the first time in what feels like forever. That’s a good thing too as sometimes you just need to freshen things up.
Here’s a dancing Stephanie McMahon to recap last night’s women’s Royal Rumble. After taking way too long to do so, Stephanie brings out Asuka to ask about which champion she wants to face. Before she makes that decision though, she needs to know that Alexa Bliss will be defending the title in the first women’s Elimination Chamber. Asuka says something in Japanese before talking about becoming champion because no one is ready for her. This brings out Sasha Banks to mock the “nobody is ready for Asuka”. Sasha disagrees and wants Asuka tonight.
Elimination Chamber Qualifying Match: Kane vs. Braun Strowman
Last man standing and joined in progress with the fight heading into the crowd. Strowman hits him with a chair and knocks Kane into an anvil case. That means it’s time to go to the announcers’ area, sending the announce team bailing in a hurry. Kane gets knocked down in front of the table and Braun turns the whole thing over (desk and stage) on top of him for the win at 2:41. What in the world was that? A way to write Kane off TV and make Strowman look dominant? Didn’t they do that half a dozen times already?
Post match a stretcher is brought out and Strowman says he just did his job.
Back from a break with the announcers on the stage, talking about how Kane has been sent to a medical facility. Therefore, cut to the back to see Kane being rolled around on a stretcher.
Strowman is still here when Kurt Angle comes up and tells him to lay off. Strowman says he’s right…..because Strowman can do more. He’s going to be the last man standing at the Elimination Chamber and then he’ll be the last man standing over Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania.
Elimination Chamber Qualifying Match: Elias vs. Matt Hardy
Before the match, Elias talks about taking out John Cena last week. For now though, his mind is on Wrestlemania and the song is about wanting to take out Brock Lesnar on Elias’ night. The announcers have moved to ringside as Elias takes Matt down with a headlock to start. Matt comes back with some chops and grabs a cravate while saying DELETE over and over. The Twist of Fate is broken up and a clothesline puts Matt down as Elias gets way more fired up in a hurry.
Matt gets taken down with his arm being wrapped around the post as we take a break. Back with Matt getting two off a Russian legsweep as we keep looking at the destroyed announcers’ table. People: it’s a table on its side, not the car door that Brock threw into the crowd. The Side Effect gets two and we’ve got Bray Wyatt. Well at least his lights going out thing, allowing Elias to hit a running boot to the face. Drift Away ends Matt at 9:48.
Rating: C-. Not much to the match but I’m digging the heck out of this Elias push. It’s clear that they think something of him and that’s a very good thing. He has a good gimmick and the people are buying into it so there’s not much missing. What is missing is something interesting between Matt and Bray, which feels like another forced Wyatt feud. It would be a good idea to have Bray be more calm and sinister rather than so over the top for a change but that’s what WWE seems to like about him.
Bray pops up on screen and laughs.
Miz, doing one of those hand held promos that seem to be becoming the norm, says tonight he’ll retain the Intercontinental Title. Once he does, he’ll deserve a standing ovation like the one Tom Brady should receive on Sunday when the Patriots beat the Eagles.
The announcers now have a desk at ringside.
Intercontinental Title: The Miz vs. Roman Reigns
Miz is defending and gets punched in the face to start as the beating is on in a hurry. For some reason Miz tries a chop and is suddenly the Ric Flair to Reigns’ Sting. The champ gets knocked outside for a whip into the steps as the one sided beating continues. Reigns grabs a chair to chase the Miztourage off but Miz posts him to take over as we take a break.
Back with Reigns fighting out of a chinlock and grabbing a Samoan drop. Glad to see some things never change. Miz actually wins a bit of a slugout until Reigns hits the corner clotheslines and a big boot to take over again. The YES Kicks have Reigns in trouble and a chop block puts him down.
We hit the Figure Four for a good while until Reigns turns it over, sending Miz to the ropes. Reigns’ lifting sitout powerbomb gets two so Miz goes to the turnbuckle like last week. That’s intercepted though and Miz pokes Reigns in the eye so the Skull Crushing Finale can get two. The Superman Punch gets the same but here’s the Miztourage to interfere again. That earns them a Superman Punch and a spear but Miz grabs a rollup to retain at 18:07.
Rating: B-. These two have some good chemistry together, which is rather surprising given both of their reputations. Miz retaining is the right call here as it seems like they’re setting up Reigns on the comeback trail. You know, because we’re supposed to buy that Reigns is someone who faces adversity and wasn’t anointed as the chosen one several years back.
We recap the Elimination Chamber qualifying matches and Braun’s path of rage.
Rhyno/Heath Slater vs. Revival
Joined in progress for a change with Slater working on Dash’s arm. Wilder isn’t about to stand for someone showing up their ability to work on a limb so he takes Slater down by the arm instead. Dawson comes in for a belly to back suplex and it’s back to Wilder for an armbar. A neckbreaker takes Wilder down but Dawson comes in and cuts the ring off. It doesn’t work as Slater makes the tag anyway but it was cool to see. Rhyno comes in and hits a shoulder as everything breaks down. Dawson gets in a shot to the knee and the Shatter Machine ends Rhyno at 3:21.
Rating: D+. That’s all this needed to be as Revival gets another win. Of course they need this win to rebuild themselves after last week but the Shatter Machine will get them out of a lot of problems. Just give them a run towards the titles and let them be the old school Andersons style team and everything will be fine.
Post match the Revival asks Charly Caruso how they compare to the Graham Brothers. Charly isn’t familiar with them (humbug) and Wilder isn’t surprised. She’s just like these fans who chant ECW and try to get themselves over because they’re stuck in the past. This….could be interesting.
Dudley Boyz Hall of Fame video. What do you want me to say here? This is the biggest layup of a tag team not named Demolition that you’ll ever see.
Balor Club brags about Balor’s time in the Rumble and he wants to move on to Wrestlemania anyway. Now he has to get by John Cena to get to the Elimination Chamber so that’s what he’s doing tonight. Anderson and Gallows have done wonders for Balor, though not as much as getting away from Wyatt and the Demon vs. Abigail thing.
Sasha says she’s ready to end Asuka’s undefeated streak.
Asuka vs. Sasha Banks
Banks slaps her in the face to start and takes Asuka into the corner for a ram into the buckle. That just earns her a kick to the head and a hip attack to put Sasha on the floor. Back in and some kicks to the legs set up the armbar to keep Sasha in trouble. Banks fights up with a kick to the face and running double knees as we take a break.
We come back with Asuka in trouble after the double knees in the corner, followed by the double arm crank. A headscissors into a very fast Bank Statement is countered into a rollup for two. Sasha gets it right back on but Asuka rolls out again before being sent outside. Banks’ dive is blocked with a kick to the face for a SCARY crash to the floor.
Back in and Asuka unloads with a knee to the face and some HARD strikes to the head. The hip attack in the corner sets up a missile dropkick for two so it’s off to the cross armbreaker. Banks reverses that as well and Asuka’s running hip attack misses, sending her outside in a heap. Banks follows with the knees off the apron (nearly crushing Asuka’s head in the process) and more of them off the top for a close two. The Bank Statement goes on again but Sasha tries to move it back to the middle, allowing Asuka to reverse into the Asuka Lock for the tap at 14:28.
Rating: B+. This was in the “beat the heck out of each other” school of wrestling with Sasha’s knees hitting Asuka over and over while Asuka just survived the whole thing and caught Banks at the end. That’s the biggest win Asuka has had yet in WWE and if she can beat Charlotte, whoever finally beats Asuka is going to look like the biggest conqueror ever. Excellent match here and a lot of fun, especially after how big last night was.
John Cena wants to join Asuka and Shinsuke Nakamura in knowing how they’re getting to Wrestlemania. Maybe on a plane, a train or a bus, but maybe an Elimination Chamber. For everyone wondering when he’s done, he’s just getting started.
Tag Team Titles: The Bar vs. Titus Worldwide
The Bar is defending. Crews rolls Sheamus up for two less than ten seconds in and does it again less than a minute in. Titus comes in and forearms Sheamus down, meaning it’s time for the Titus Worldwide pose. It’s off to Cesaro, who gets chopped in the chest and tossed around with ease. A blind tag brings in Sheamus for a forearm to the back and we take a break.
Back with Sheamus cutting off a hot tag attempt and bringing Cesaro back in for a double clothesline. Titus gets knocked to the floor but chops Sheamus in the chest and pulls him throat first into the ropes. Back in and Titus hits a clothesline and the hot tag brings in Crews. A top rope clothesline looks to set up a standing moonsault but Crews has to land on his feet instead.
Crews dropkicks him down and now the moonsault get two as Cesaro comes back in to launch Crews into a powerbomb where he lands HARD on his head. Thankfully he’s back up with an enziguri but has to roll through a high crossbody for two. Not that it matters Crews is sent into the post, setting up Super White Noise to retain the titles at 12:25. Titus disappeared at the end of the match.
Rating: B-. Another match that went beyond its league and that’s a good thing. Titus Worldwide can grow off of this mini push and it was very nice to have some fresh air in the division. Of course having three matches between the same team didn’t help things, but I’ll take what I can get.
We recap Rousey’s debut again.
We recap Strowman’s destruction earlier. Apparently Kane sat up in the emergency room and pulled himself to his feet. Kane left the hospital and no one has seen him since. So they couldn’t catch a 50 year old man who has been banged up tonight? How bad are these doctors?
Elimination Chamber Qualifying Match: Finn Balor vs. John Cena
Balor has Anderson and Gallows in his corner. The fans are behind Balor of course as he takes Cena down into an armbar. Balor does it again but Cena takes him down with two straight headlocks. Cena gets sent outside and points at a fan as we hit a test of strength. The fans are looking at something else, which is initially booed and then cheered. The camera cuts to the side as Cena looks into the crowd to see what’s going on. Cena punches Balor down and we take a break with Cena looking at the crowd again.
Back with Cena tossing Balor into the corner a few times but stopping to look at the crowd. The announcers say the fans are getting to him, which is a weird way to go with Cena. The finishing sequence is initiated but the Shuffle takes WAY too long, allowing Balor to move. Balor gets two off an Eye of the Hurricane and scores with the Pele.
The Sling Blade sets up the shotgun dropkick but Cena is right there with a clothesline to take him down. Cena grabs the AA for two and goes to the apron….where he tells Coach that he’s just trying to go to Wrestlemania. He takes way too long to go up top and Balor kicks him down, setting up the shotgun dropkick. The Coup de Grace misses and Balor bangs up his knee. We hit one of the worst looking STF’s Cena has ever put on but Balor makes the rope. Balor takes too long going up and it’s the Super AA for the pin at 17:48.
Rating: C+. Weird crowd and weird Cena aside, this was only pretty good. The problem is both guys should be in the Chamber and Cena is likely getting the Undertaker match (erg) so I’m not sure why they needed to have Cena beat Balor here. That being said, I’m more confused about the whole crowd thing. Is that Cena’s latest crisis of confidence as we head to New Orleans? It seems like he has one every other year. Oh and Balor wasn’t buried. He lost, but that’s a far cry from being buried.
Overall Rating: B. I liked this one a lot actually as they had an energy all night long. It felt like they were trying to get to a goal now instead of just going through the motions of heading towards the Rumble. Hopefully that means we get something good in the next nine weeks as Wrestlemania approaches, but if history has shown me anything, it’s to not get my hopes up.
Braun Strowman b. Kane when Kane couldn’t answer the ten count
Elias b. Matt Hardy – Drift Away
The Miz b. Roman Reigns – Rollup
Asuka b. Sasha Banks – Asuka Lock
The Bar b. Titus Worldwide – Super White Noise to Crews
John Cena b. Finn Balor – Super AA
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