by Amanda Why
RAW time again and it’s the go-home show for Elimination Chamber. That means we get a massive gauntlet match from the competitors of the men’s match, and yet another six-woman tag match. We’ll also be hearing from Asuka ahead of her match with Nia Jax. Going into the show there are only three matches and a contract signing on the PPV card so we’ll probably get at least one addition.
I’m Amanda and I’m here to guide you through RAW.
The Opening Segment – Gauntlet Match
The show opened with a moment’s silence for the victims of the recent shooting in Parkland, Florida.
Roman Reigns opened the show proper. He was interviewed by Charly Caruso, and we learned that he will start the gauntlet match. He said he wasn’t worried about that, but he was worried about the Elimination Chamber match because he’s never been in one and he’s up against the stiffest competition. But none of them can beat Brock Lesnar, and he can.
Seth Rollins joined them, and the gauntlet match began. NOTE: This was long, I’ll try to keep it brief.
Roman Reigns vs Seth Rollins – Gauntlet match 1
Fun match but long considering it was the first of a gauntlet, it carried us through the first and second ad breaks. A match where the competitors know each other well is generally a joy to watch, and these two always work well together. The duelling ‘let’s go Roman/Roman sucks’ chants are consistent now, that’s probably the reaction sweet spot for him. They took way too much out of each other by the time Reigns went for a spear, got kicked in the face, countered the curb stomp, tried to roll Rollins up, and got rolled up for the pin. Very good natured at the end, a quick fist bump, and John Cena was out for the next match.
Seth Rollins vs John Cena – Gauntlet match 2
Rollins went straight for trying to cover Cena, before he was ready, a sensible tactic. It didn’t work, and by the time we came back from yet another ad break, they were into it. Cena went hard on an already exhausted Rollins, but Seth Rollins refused to stay down. More than that, he dished out at least as much as he took. By the time Cena kicked out of the superplex into falcon arrow combo Rollins had been in for 50+ minutes. Cena went for a submission, Rollins got to the ropes, twice. It looked like it might be over when Rollins hit John Cena with an AA (yes, you read that right), but Cena kicked out. Cena hit an AA, went for a second and Rollins countered with a knee, then hit The Stomp. Rollins got the pin. Elias out for the next one.
Renee Young did a quick interview with Cena during the Elias match where he praised Rollins. He also talked about juggling a lot of things at the moment and needing to focus because the Elimination Chamber match is must win for him.
Seth Rollins vs Elias – Gauntlet match 3
Unsurprisingly, Elias tried for the quick pin but failed. Rollins’ knee became an issue early in this one, around the time he passed the one hour mark. It didn’t stop him throwing kicks, or launching himself over the top rope onto Elias. Sadly, this was as far as Rollins went. After one hour and five minutes, Rollins was pinned off the Drift Away, and eliminated from the gauntlet match by Elias. Finn Balor was next up.
In Rollins post-match interview, he said he pinned two of the best, but it doesn’t mean anything unless he wins in the chamber on Sunday. He actually sounded disappointed with himself.
Elias vs Finn Balor – Gauntlet match 4
Balor gave Rollins a round of applause as they passed on the ramp. He deserved it. I’m starting to see why the preview was so short. There was no holding back in any of these matches and no quick run-throughs.
Elias had control of much of the match. He spent a long time working on Balor’s shoulder. There were some ‘we want Strowman’ chants in this one, which reflected the slowing of the pace (and the crowd’s disappointment that Rollins was out). It was slower, more about Elias trying to ground Balor and grind him down, but it was still a decent match. Every match within the gauntlet could have stood by itself as a decent RAW match.
Balor’s fightback was gradual and stilted, but almost exactly halfway through RAW, Finn Balor pinned Elias. The Miz was next.
In Elias’ interview, he said he’ll come into the chamber last, pick up the scraps and go to WrestleMania.
Finn Balor vs The Miz – Gauntlet match 5
Miz sent The Miztourage down the ramp to keep Balor’s attention so he could sneak attack him from behind. Miz will be first into the chamber, so a quick loss would have been his best option, but neither of them was playing to lose.
The Miztourage were a factor, causing frequent distractions. Miz continued to exploit the work on Balor’s shoulder, started by Elias.
Balor threw himself over the top rope to take out the Miztourage after Bo Dallas had got involved behind the ref’s back. He was ramping up for the Coup de Grace but was distracted by Dallas and Axel getting up on the apron. Dealing with them again caused enough of a distraction for Miz to hit the Skull Crushing Finale and pin Finn Balor.
The look on The Miz’ face as the realisation hit that he now had to fight Braun Strowman, was priceless.
Balor’s interview was him being angry about the Miztourage and determined to win on Sunday.
The Miz vs Braun Strowman – Gauntlet match 6
The Miz went through the barricade and ran for the back, Braun Strowman chased him, caught him, and dragged him back to the ring. As expected this was mainly Strowman manhandling Miz, including dropkicking him, while Dallas and Axel seemed reluctant to get involved. At one point The Miz was curled in the foetal position by the ropes just waiting for Strowman to come at him again.
Miz did get some offence including a Skull Crushing Finale. The Miztourage got to catch Miz after Strowman’s kick out from the Skull Crushing Finale sent him out of the ring. That was the sum total of their usefulness to Miz in this one.
It didn’t do him any good. Braun Strowman hit the running powerslam and pinned Miz to win the gauntlet match.
The whole thing took an hour and fifty-five minutes.
Strowman said in his interview that he doesn’t fear the unknown, the unknown fears him. The result of the Elimination Chamber will be the same as tonight’s result, then he’s coming for Lesnar. Then he went back to beat Miz up some more. He laid out Dallas and Axel with powerslams, then chased Miz up the ramp, threw him out from backstage into the ring, and gave him another couple of running powerslams for good measure.
The Other Stuff
– Double J, Jeff Jarrett is the latest name announced for this year’s Hall of Fame, joining Goldberg, Ivory, and the Dudley Boyz.
– Asuka had an in-ring interview with Renee Young. She asked how Asuka felt about the idea of Nia Jax ending her streak and making her title match a triple threat. Asuka said ‘I control my own destiny. My destiny is to win the championship at WrestleMania’. They discussed some of the comments Jax has made then, as Asuka said she was going to make Jax tap out, Renee Young dashed out of the way and Asuka turned around to face Nia Jax. After a flurry of kicks and strikes from Asuka, Jax hit a Samoan drop and three leg drops before she was satisfied that Asuka was down enough to leave the ring.
– Big promo package for Ronda Rousey. They had Charlotte Flair, Naomi and Natalya talking about her, which is interesting considering Rousey is coming to RAW and they’re all on SmackDown, could be important. They also showed a bunch of training footage.
– Sheamus and Cesaro vs Titus Worldwide – Apollo is Crews no more, he’s just Apollo now. Ok match, short. Titus Worldwide picked up the win when Apollo rolled up Cesaro. That should solidify the title match at Elimination Chamber.
– Matt Hardy versus Bray Wyatt announced for Elimination Chamber. They had a back and forth promo segment which was about as odd as you’d expect it to be.
– A Black History Month segment was the last thing before the main event.
The Main Event – Sasha Banks, Bayley and Mickie James vs Alexa Bliss, Sonya Deville and Mandy Rose
This match makes no sense. Last week Alexa Bliss and Mickie James teamed against Absolution, now Bliss is teaming with them.
It looked like Bliss and James were going to start things off, but Bliss tagged Deville in instead. She made a point throughout the match of not wanting to get in there with Mickie James. Sonya Deville and Mandy Rose are finding their feet quickly, they both looked decent in this one.
Good match. There was some friction between the Absolution and Bliss team. There was some confusion when Bayley got a desperately needed tag to Banks, but the ref didn’t it. No serious damage was done, and Mickie James was in a few moments later. It did mean that Bayley took some extra punishment. She was laid out on the outside for a long time after.
Rose, Deville, and Bliss had the best of the offence, but not by much. Sonya Deville and Mandy Rose have started to work very well together, and Alexa Bliss only came in for brief stints.
Towards the end Sasha Banks was dishing out double knees all over the place, Bliss got two lots, Deville got some from the apron to the outside. Bayley just about made it back and ###
Sasha Banks made Alexa Bliss tap out to the Bank Statement. Absolution immediately attacked Banks and Bayley, then turned their attention to Bliss. Mickie James came in to help Bliss out, and they gave Sonya Deville a double DDT. Alexa Bliss and Mickie James left together.
Excellent episode of RAW. Who would have thought a near two-hour gauntlet match could be so entertaining? Seth Rollins did an incredible job and earned himself the record for longest time spent in a match on RAW in the process. Asuka looks more vulnerable than she ever has in the run-up to her match with Nia Jax. And Braun Strowman still looks like an absolute monster. Elimination Chamber should be interesting, and we’ve got you covered. Check back after the PPV for a full review.
Elimination Chamber card
Men’s Elimination Chamber match – Finn Balor vs Seth Rollins vs Roman Reigns vs John Cena vs Braun Strowman vs Elias vs The Miz
Women’s Elimination Chamber match for the RAW Women’s Championship – Alexa Bliss vs Mickie James vs Sasha Banks vs Bayley vs Mandy Rose vs Sonya Deville
Asuka vs Nia Jax
Matt Hardy vs Bray Wyatt