Date: February 5, 2019
Location: Angel of the Winds Arena, Everett, Washington
Commentators: Tom Phillips, Corey Graves, Byron Saxton
We’re less than two weeks away from Elimination Chamber and unlike Raw, we actually have some stuff set up for the pay per view. That includes the Smackdown World Title match, meaning we have some singles matches between the six competitors to get through for the next two weeks. Those start tonight so let’s get to it.
We open with a recap of Stephanie McMahon suspending Becky Lynch last night and getting attacked as a result.
Here’s Charlotte to say she hopes Becky gets better in time but if not, she’s 100% healthy and would love to face Ronda Rousey at Wrestlemania. Cue Becky through the crowd, with Charlotte saying the fan better have a ticket and that she needs to stop stealing Roman Reigns’ entrance. Charlotte mocks Becky’s limp but here’s an angry HHH to cut them both off. After telling Becky to get out and go see the doctor, HHH gets in Charlotte’s face and tells her to get out. Becky says she doesn’t trust any of this but HHH says get cleared by the doctor and go to Wrestlemania.
HHH goes to leave but Becky asks how Stephanie is after she got punched in the face. He doesn’t seem phased because he sees it in Becky’s face: she’s just looking to be a martyr who is trying to find a way out of this whole thing. That’s why she came to Raw just before Survivor Series. She knew it was a suicide mission and then came out blaming the doctor.
HHH continues his reverse psychology by saying Becky is doing it again. Maybe that’s why she won’t go to the doctor: the knee is fine and she’ll be stuck in the match with Rousey and be exposed as the fraud that she is. That earns him a slap to the face and the fans are right back behind her again. Becky leaves through the crowd again.
They’re doing something interesting here by going with the idea of getting inside both women’s heads where they might be scared of losing, which is a lot more interesting than the physical stuff they could do. This is a different way to go about doing things and if they can sell it right, it’s the best way to go.
Good Brothers vs. Shinsuke Nakamura/Rusev
Fallout from Nakamura and Rusev both getting pinned by R-Truth last week. Lana is at ringside and still in a walking boot. Gallows shoulders Nakamura down to start and it’s quick off to Anderson, who gets kicked in the head. Rusev tags himself in and everything breaks down in a hurry, with Anderson dumping both villains to the floor for a flip dive.
Back from a break with Nakamura hitting the reverse exploder on Anderson but charging into a spinebuster. That’s enough for the hot tag to Gallows for the running splash in the corner, followed by a chokebomb to put Nakamura on the floor. He’s right back in to break up the Magic Killer on Rusev so it’s a Rocket Kick to Nakamura. Rusev is back in for the Machka Kick to finish Anderson at 7:13.
Rating: D+. Just a quick match here as Rusev and Nakamura have both gone from popular faces to the new foreign heel tag team. Why that’s the best possible option isn’t clear, but I’m sure WWE thinks its better than bringing in that Rusev Day shirt money or giving the fans something to cheer for.
Mustafa Ali says what if he beats Randy Orton tonight. Or what if he wins the Elimination Chamber.
Paige shows us a clip from Fighting With My Family.
The Usos are ready to win the Tag Team Titles back. We’ve got a guy with daddy issues in Miz and a guy whose dream was to win the Tag Team Titles in Shane McMahon. Next week, McMizTV is turning into the Uso Penitentiary.
Randy Orton vs. Mustafa Ali
Ali gets a jobber entrance. During his own entrance, Orton says he doesn’t care who is in the Chamber because he doesn’t see names. Orton chops away in the corner to start but Ali tells him to bring it on. That just earns him a clothesline down and a look on his face that makes it seem to be a big mistake. They head outside with Randy dropping him onto the announcers’ table, followed by the snap powerslam. Orton hits the top rope superplex as this is completely one sided so far.
Back with Ali still in trouble and Orton grabbing a chinlock. Ali finally fights up and hits a dropkick to send Orton outside. Another dropkick sends her over the announcers’ table, followed by a running crossbody. Back in and Ali scores with some superkicks into the rolling X Factor for two. Ali loads up the tornado DDT, head fakes Orton as he goes for the RKO counter, and hits the tornado DDT for two in a smart move. The 054 is loaded up but Orton gets to his feet and pulls him off the top, straight into the RKO (in one motion) for the pin at 10:19.
Rating: C. This was looking bad to start but got a lot better down the line. At the same time though, Ali was getting squashed to start and then made a comeback in the end. Ali didn’t win, but at least he got in some offense and had a comeback. Eventually he needs to win a big singles match though or the spark is going to go out.
We look at the replays and come back with Samoa Joe choking Orton out (that felt natural for a change). Ali gets kicked outside for a bonus. Joe goes to leave as Daniel Bryan and Rowan come out for a staredown.
Post break Joe says he’s going to go much further at Elimination Chamber when the night will end with him as champion.
Bryan and Rowan are in the ring for a chat. Daniel gets smart by sucking up to his home state fans, saying they know we need change. Everyone tries to fill their void with one bad food after another and the good people of Washington see that he’s fighting an uphill battle. That’s why he created this new title, which is now a symbol for change. Rowan talks about people who think like them are considered dangerous because of their ideas.
The fans give him the WHAT treatment but Bryan isn’t happy. People try to silence him because he isn’t a corporate champion. He’s the planet’s champion, which is why he’s in the Elimination Chamber, which he shouldn’t be involved in. Bryan knows what it takes to survive the Elimination Chamber and we get a video on the match.
Back in the arena, Bryan says WWE wants to take the title from him and put it back on a leather strap. The people and the planet need him as champion though, and the fans certainly seem to agree. This was fine as Bryan knew he wasn’t going to get booed in his home state and didn’t go hardcore against the fans in a smart move.
Jeff Hardy doesn’t like the idea of Bryan disrespecting the title. AJ Styles comes in and says Jeff’s recent history should keep him from being the guy talking about the title’s legacy. Jeff says the REAL AJ Styles can’t beat the NEW Daniel Bryan. They’ll finish this inside the Chamber.
Carmella/Naomi vs. IIconics vs. Mandy Rose/Sonya Deville
Before the match, Carmella and Naomi promise to be fabulous in winning the titles. The IIconics have worked to get here and the titles would be the icing on the cake. Mandy and Sonya are the real team around here and have been inside the Chamber before. They may now be called Fire and Desire. Mandy bails from Carmella to start so it’s off to Naomi for a sliding lariat to Peyton.
Back from an early break with Carmella in trouble as the IIconics start stomping away in the corner. Mandy comes back in to cut off a crawl over to Naomi and it’s off to an abdominal stretch. That’s broken up as well and it’s back to Naomi, sending Mandy bailing over to the corner. Naomi cleans house and it’s an accidental tag to bring Mandy back in. Peyton has to be beaten up as well, leaving Mandy to hit the sitout Pedigree for the pin on Naomi at 6:15.
Rating: D. Well the Fire and Desire name is dumb, but at least we now have the six teams in the Chamber and the match itself should be entertaining. Mandy beating Naomi advances their own story but it’s not like the blowoff match is going to be in doubt. At least they did something here though and that’s better than I was expecting.
Zelina Vega calls Rey Mysterio a fable and a myth of the past. Last week Andrade destroyed a legend like he needed to do. The legend of Andrade begins with Mysterio’s end.
Video on Martin Luther King Jr. in Birmingham, Alabama for Black History Month.
We recap the opening segment.
Video on Asuka.
Jeff Hardy vs. Daniel Bryan
Non-title. Bryan starts fast and kicks away at the ribs in the corner but gets caught with the swinging clothesline. The running dropkick slows Jeff down though and a second one makes things even worse. We hit the surfboard for a bit before Jeff sends him outside for the clothesline off the steps…but Rowan is waiting on him. The distraction lets Bryan trip him up, sending Jeff into the steps and us to a break.
Back with Bryan working on the arm until Jeff fights back with a dropkick into a legdrop between the legs. The Twist of Fate is broken up with Bryan getting backdropped to the floor instead. There’s the running clothesline from the apron but Bryan is right back with the YES Kicks. The big kick is countered into the Twist of Fate though and the Swanton connects but Rowan pulls Jeff out for the DQ at 10:45.
Rating: C+. This ended earlier than I was expecting but it’s certainly better than having things go really short. Bryan vs. Hardy is certainly a big time match and worthy of a pay per view main event, but there’s only so much you can get out of a ten minute match with a DQ finish.
Post match Bryan grabs the LeBell Lock, drawing in Samoa Joe to post Rowan and choke Bryan out. Cue Orton for the brawl, followed by Mustafa Ali for a suicide dive. Another one to Rowan earns Ali a claw slam onto the announcers’ table. Now it’s AJ Styles, with music, for the slow walk to the ring.
AJ cleans house and points at Bryan for what seems to be the end of the show, even as there are three minutes left. After a few replays, AJ poses and we cut to the back where Bryan rants about doing everything out there because he’s the best. No one is getting this title because he’s going to be WWE Champion forever. It’s what the planet needs!
We cut back to AJ for one more pose as that match must have ended way early.
Overall Rating: C-. It’s not a very good show, but it’s amazing how much better things are with something to build towards. Just having a main event at the pay per view helps a lot, even if the match feels like a stopping point before we get to Wrestlemania. You can’t have both Elimination Chamber and Fastlane as rest stops there though, so having a match like this helps. The rest of the show was hit or miss, but this show was an easy watch and that’s a great distance ahead of where Raw is right now. Oh and where was R-Truth? He wins the US Title and defends it one week but can’t make the show the next?
Shinsuke Nakamura/Rusev b. Good Brothers – Machka Kick to Anderson
Randy Orton b. Mustafa Ali – 054
Fire and Desire b. IIconics and Naomi/Carmella – Lifting sitout Pedigree to Naomi
Jeff Hardy b. Daniel Bryan via DQ when Rowan interfered
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