Elimination Chamber saw The Boss ‘N’ Hug Connection crowned WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions, and Finn Balor become the new Intercontinental Champion (read Tom Beasley’s full review here). With The Revival winning the RAW tag titles last week, there are a lot of new champs floating around the Red brand. Tonight is all about them, although the preview drops hints that Balor will end up in another multi-man match. We will also find out the ramifications of Becky Lynch’s attack on Charlotte Flair and Ronda Rousey at Elimination Chamber. The episode was dedicated to the memory of Pedro Morales.
I’m Amanda, and this is the RAW review.
Braun Strowman def. Baron Corbin
Finn Balor & Ricochet def. Bobby Lashley & Lio Rush
Lucha House Party def. Zack Ryder & Curt Hawkins
Tommaso Ciampa & Johnny Gargano def. The Revival
Drew McIntyre def. Dean Ambrose
Aleister Black def. Elias
Ronda Rousey def. Ruby Riott
The Key Bits
» Triple H opened the show and asked if we can feel the excitement, the electricity in the air. We’re on the Road to WrestleMania. Last night, Sasha Banks and Bayley made history and became the WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions. Finn Balor beat Bobby Lashley and Lio Rush to win the Intercontinental Champion. Kofi Kingston captured hearts by coming so close to becoming the WWE Champion. And then there was Becky Lynch.
The Man came around last night and showed the whole world that she will not let a 60-day suspension or a knee injury prevent her from getting to Charlotte Flair or Ronda Rousey. Corporately, he has to say that if she does that again she’ll be arrested and prosecuted. But personally, he has to say it was pretty damned cool. And speaking of pretty cool, it was released on ESPN this morning, the first of the announced inductees for the Hall of Fame 2019, will be D-Generation X – Him, Shawn Michaels, X-Pac, Road Dogg, Billy Gunn, and Chyna.
If that wasn’t enough to prove this is the Road to WrestleMania, he was about to pour gas on the fire. As most people know, his responsibilities don’t end with RAW and SmackDown Live, he oversees NXT as well. So it is his pleasure to introduce some people who will be making their RAW debut tonight from NXT.
Video introductions were shown for Ricochet, Aleister Black, Johnny Gargano, and Tommaso Ciampa. It’s not clear if these are call-ups or just visits. Gargano and Ciampa are both still Champions. Triple H said there is a saying in NXT, ‘the future is now’, and we get to see the future tonight.
Triple H’s final announcement of the segment was the first match of the night. Braun Strowman versus Baron Corbin in a tables match (see The Other Bits).
WWE later confirmed, via Michael Cole, if Becky Lynch does anything like that again, she will be arrested and charged with criminal trespassing, disorderly conduct, and menacing.
» Finn Balor said it’s been a while since he held a championship, and it feels good. Growing up and watching the great like Razor Ramon, Shawn Michaels, Ric Flair, it’s been a dream to hold that title and he’s proud to continue its legacy. He plans on defending the title…
Lio Rush interrupted him at that point, looking dejected after Lashley beat him down for losing the title. He said, ‘You don’t deserve to be the Intercontinental Champion. Bobby Lashley deserves to be the Intercontinental Champion’. Then Lashley attacked Balor from behind and they went for the two on one beatdown. Ricochet came to make the save and did so in spectacular fashion. Guess what happened next.
Finn Balor & Ricochet vs Bobby Lashley & Lio Rush broke out in the break. Ricochet is awesome. Corey Graves and Renee Young certainly think so. Ricochet did the major work in the match for his team, as you’d expect. Lio Rush wanted nothing to do with Balor when he tagged in and brought Lashley in to wear him down before he had another go. Balor still got the better of him. Lashley distracted Balor as he went up for the Coup de Grace and Lio Rush chop blocked him and tagged out. Balor was isolated and in trouble for a long time, but he eventually tagged in Ricochet to clean house and deliver the 630 to Lio Rush for the win.
Finn Balor and Ricochet were later interviewed backstage. Balor said he had his night last night, but tonight is all about Ricochet. Ricochet said you can envision how you’ll arrive at your dream and it never goes like you planned. But it feels better than you can ever imagine. We haven’t seen the last of him, he’s going to show the whole WWE universe why he’s the one and only. Still not clear if they’re call-ups).
» Roode and Gable crashed Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa talking backstage. They didn’t understand why they got a match against The Revival instead of starting from the bottom. Gargano said they’ve been running the hottest brand, NXT, for over two years and they’re there to take over (maybe they are call-ups). The Revival turned up and were condescending. Ciampa said they’re not there to earn their respect, they’re there to make an impression at their expense.
Tommaso Ciampa & Johnny Gargano vs The Revival was truly excellent. There wasn’t any way for it to be anything else. There really is nothing better than tag team wrestling done well and it was a great way to showcase the best of Ciampa and Gargano, which of course is what this was all about. Scott Dawson pulled Ciampa off the apron and slammed him into the barricade then they went for Johnny Gargano. Ciampa didn’t make it back in time to stop Gargano taking the double team finisher, but he broke the pin. Ciampa threw Wilder out, Dawson threw Ciampa out. Johnny Gargano might have lost a tooth from a Dawson punch (probably just chewing gum), but he delivered a slingshot spear and tagged in Ciampa for their DIY, superkick and knee to the head finisher. Ciampa pinned Dawson for the win. Interesting to have the RAW tag champs lose clean, but there you go.
» The Boss ‘N’ Hug Connection talked about how happy they are to be the first WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions. It still feels like a dream, but it’s here. They’ve made history and they’ve done it all together. They’ve gone from hating each other to loving each other and can’t imagine doing this with anyone else. They have the same dream, they were born to do this. It took them going to war with each other to realise it’s together they’re changing the world. This is just the beginning because they are taking over the world and plan to be the champs for a very long time. They have put their hearts and souls into helping to create the tag team women’s division so they plan to defend the titles against anyone, past present or future, on RAW, SmackDown Live, or NXT. Most importantly they know how special the titles are to the entire women’s evolution. There is no stronger connection than the Boss ‘N’ Hug Connection, and you can bank on that.
Nia Jax and Tamina at least waited until the end of the speech before they came out. Jax called it a nauseating love-fest, then tried to drive a wedge between them by saying Sasha Banks only cares about Sasha Banks, and history shows us she loses her titles on the very first defence. They got lucky last night but their luck has run out. Banks and Bayley were ready for them, and Tamina had to save Jax from a Bank Statement on the apron. I guess we know who the first challengers will be.
» Ronda Rousey vs Ruby Riott was the main event of the evening and was set after Rousey finished Riott in around a minute at Elimination Chamber. This time Riott had her squad with her for support, and she lasted a lot longer. If Riott had been given this time and respect on the PPV, many of us would have been significantly less upset. Riott even got a period of control in the match, admittedly after Sarah Logan kneed Rousey in the face at ringside. A spear gave Ruby Riott a solid two count, a senton got her another. The Riott Kick got her yet another near fall, and Rousey looked like she was in trouble. Rousey caught her and delivered a gut wrench but didn’t get the pin. A second Riott Kick, after Riott Squad interference, still only got two, and Riott got desperate. She went to the top rope but found herself in a submission when she came down. Logan and Morgan saved her but got taken out by Rousey diving off the top turnbuckle. Rousey flipped Riott face-first into the turnbuckle then took her down into an armbar. Ruby Riott tapped. Morgan and Logan tried to attack Rousey after the match and were quickly dispatched.
The Other Bits
» Braun Strowman vs Baron Corbin – Tables match – Strowman was covered in kinesio tape after the beating he took from Corbin, McIntyre, and Lashley last night, but a weakened Braun Strowman is still a significant threat. They threw each other around in the ring, outside the ring, up the ramp and onto the stage. Strowman cleared off the announce desk and picked Corbin up to slam him onto it, but Corbin scrabbled down and shoved Strowman into it instead. Strowman fell off the stage as we went to a break. They were back in the ring when we came back, and Strowman had taken a chair edge to the gut in our absence. Corbin made use of a kendo stick on the tape over Strowman’s ribs and slammed him into the stairs. Strowman turned Corbin’s favourite weapon against him by picking up the steps as Corbin jumped off the apron, hitting him in the chest, then hitting him with them a couple more times. Finally, Strowman caught Corbin as he charged towards him and powerslammed him through the table to secure the victory.
» Drew McIntyre interrupted Triple H and Natalya talking, to say he wants Seth Rollins. Dean Ambrose appeared and said he’s not doing anything tonight, how about him, and slapped McIntyre across the face. Triple H asked McIntyre is he still wanted Rollins, or if he’d rather have Ambrose. McIntyre told him to change it. Is Ambrose protecting Rollins on his way out of the company?
Dean Ambrose vs Drew McIntyre was much too short. Drew McIntyre took Ambrose down with two Claymore kicks when Ambrose was just getting into his stride. There’s no coming back from that.
» Paul Heyman came to the stage as Strowman was leaving after his match. He gave Strowman some attitude and found himself held by the throat. He pleaded to be let go, and Strowman let go of him and left.
Heyman said he isn’t surprised by Braun Strowman’s actions, everyone should be jealous of his client because he’s the most dominant Champion in the history of WWE and MMA. Then he showed a Brock Lesnar hype package/history lesson covering the first half of Lesnar’s career. Heyman was busy explaining why Seth Rollins doesn’t have a chance of beating Lesnar, when Finn Balor came out. There was no interaction, it was just a weird crossover.
The second half of the package was shown later in the show. In his narration, Heyman called Rollins, Lesnar’s most dangerous opponent, because he’s willing to lose it all to win it once. Lesnar isn’t going to have to knock Seth Rollins down, he’s going to have to put Seth Rollins down. That’s not a prediction or even a spoiler, it’s the end of the story of a man named Seth Rollins.
» Rollins was asked, from somewhere backstage, if he had any regrets after seeing the video. He said that everything Heyman said is true, except he isn’t walking into WrestleMania with a death wish, he’s walking in accepting his fate. And Brock Lesnar needs to accept his fate because at WrestleMania, it’s all over for him, his reign of terror is done. As for Rollins’ fate, whether he gets taken out on a stretcher or on his own two feet, he’s leaving with the Universal Championship.
Ambrose wandered over and Rollins asked if he could help him with something. Ambrose said, where the hell was he out there. Rollins asked if he’d completely lost his mind. Dean Ambrose shrugged and walked away.
» Lucha House Party vs Zack Ryder & Curt Hawkins was a fun match. Ryder and Hawkins are working up to breaking Hawkins massive losing streak. They fought hard and came close, but tonight was not their night. Hawkins took the pin.
» Heavy Machinery got an onstage interview. They told people about their ‘steaks and weights’ philosophy, then Lacey Evans arrived and just wandered down the ramp and back. She did the same thing at Elimination Chamber. She stopped on the stage and stared at Otis and Tucker until the strutted down the ramp and back, and Bushwhacker walked around her.
» Elias is fed up with the way he’s been treated. He’s the most talented and charismatic superstar to come through in a long time, yet he is constantly disrespected and interrupted. Everyone is excited about the new superstars, but it isn’t going to change the living truth, he makes magic every night. Aleister Black was the one to stop Elias singing this week. Apparently, they had a match panned. Black told Elias he would make him fade to Black.
Aleister Black vs Elias was another fun match. Short but entertaining and designed to show off Aleister Black’s talents. He didn’t have things all his own way, but he did get the win with the Black Mass.
The NXT involvement made this a really interesting episode of RAW. As was Bayley and Sasha Banks’ mention of NXT as a place they would defend the titles. I’m intrigued as to how this inter-brand stuff will work.