Venue: Van Andel Arena (Grand Rapids, MI)
Commentators: Michael Cole, Corey Graves, & Renee Young
Don’t feel like watching RAW live? Can’t blame you. Come read the recap and follow along that way instead!
- WWE Universal Champion: Brock Lesnar
- WWE Intercontinental Champion: Bobby Lashley
- RAW Women’s Champion: ‘Rowdy’ Ronda Rousey
- RAW Tag Team Champions: Bobby Roode & Chad Gable
- The Boss ‘n’ Hug Connection vs. The Riott Squad vs. Nia Jax & Tamina Snuka (*3/4)
- Finn Balor vs. Drew McIntyre (*)
- Kurt Angle, Finn Balor, & Braun Strowman vs. Baron Corbin, Drew McIntyre, & Bobby Lashley (1/2*)
- Nikki Cross vs. Ruby Riott (*)
- EC3 vs. Dean Ambrose (*1/4)
- Bobby Roode & Chad Gable [c] vs. The Revival for the RAW TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP (***)
Show opens with Triple H and Stephanie McMahon already in the ring. Full on selljob for this Sunday’s Elimination Chamber. They take it to a video package highlighting Becky Lynch being suspended for refusing to seek medical treatment for her knee on last week’s show. Full on attack on Steph on RAW, a slap to Triple H on SmackDown the next night when he accuses Becky of being afraid of Ronda Rousey and the prospect of facing her at WrestleMania.
Back live Steph tries to introduce Becky, but ‘The Man’ cuts her off with her theme music. Oh snaaaap. Triple H wants to put everything behind them and apologizes for his comments on SmackDown. He says she saw her doctors this week and WWE Medical agrees; there is no tear or structural damage so the suspension is lifted and her match with Rousey at WrestleMania is on. Steph says the match will indeed take place if Becky can do just one thing: apologize for her actions over the past week. Steph tells her not to be stubborn, Becky says she doesn’t trust the McMahon Family and will fight any of them and refuses to apologize. Becky tries to walk off, Steph gets in her face and a screaming match ensues. Triple H breaks it up and tells everyone to calm down, which is something you DEFINITELY want to say to an angry woman. Triple H gives Becky a choice: at the end of the night she needs to apologize or she loses her match at WrestleMania. Cold-blooded.
The Authority exit the ring, leaving Becky to stew in her thoughts…for a few seconds before The Boss ‘n’ Hug Connection (Bayley & Sasha Banks) make their way out for the opening match. Becky looks like she raided Bob ‘Spark Plug’ Holly’s dressing room, and I love it.
- And we’ve got our main story for the night. Decent way to build some intrigue. They’re overdoing it a bit on Becky’s rebelliousness, including using *gasp* HER OWN DOCTORS, but it’s still working. Can’t think of anyone worth caring about more than Becky Lynch on this roster, male or female. Not a fan of the Boss ‘n’ Hug Connection coming out for the opening match mere seconds after the ultimatum but hey they only have THREE HOURS TO FILL so every second counts.
The Boss ‘n’ Hug Connection (Bayley & Sasha Banks) vs. Riott Squad (Liv Morgan & Sarah Logan) [w/ Ruby Riott] vs. Nia Jax & Tamina Snuka
The team that gets pinned in this one has to start the Elimination Chamber match on Sunday. Banks slaps Jax and tags in a surprised Morgan. Morgan charges, Jax swats her down like a gnat. She tries to tag out but Bayley and Banks hop off the apron. Rude. Logan tags in and escapes a Samoan Drop but gets dropped with a headbutt. Tamina tags in, Logan drives her to the mat and Morgan tags back in for a two-count. Tamina slams Morgan and wears her down with a chinlock. Morgan tries to escape, Tamina throws her to the mat like nothing. Boss ‘n’ Hug sit back and let the two heel teams beat each other up. Jax tags in, Morgan drops her to her knees with a pair of dropkicks. Bayley tags herself in, Morgan shoves her into Jax while Logan and Riott take care of Banks on the outside. Boss ‘n’ Hug are in trouble as we go to commercial.
Back live the medical staff is checking on Banks while Morgan has Bayley in a chinlock. Morgan tags out to Tamina, who delivers a headbutt. The medical staff lead Banks to the back, leaving Bayley alone for the second week in a row. Bayley gets a couple of quick nearfalls on Tamina and tags out to Morgan. Riott drags her out of the ring, Morgan tags in and the Squad hit a double dropkick. Logan follows up with a running knee, Morgan tags back in and splashes Tamina for the 1…2…she kicks out and Morgan screams in anger. Logan tags back in, Tamina belts her with a back elbow. Jax back in for a corner splash followed by a running elbowdrop. Jax misses another corner splash, going shoulder-first into the ring post. Tamina tags back in and hits Logan with a Samoan Drop. Logan counters a bleh Superfly Splash with a pair of knees, Morgan tags in as does Bayley who’s alive again. Bayley rampages through, hitting everyone in her way. Bayley belts Morgan with a knee trembler and a flying elbowdrop for the 1…2…Logan barely makes the save. Bayley with a Bayley-to-Belly but gets kicked in the face by Tamina before she can make the cover. Jax tags in and connects with a Samoan Drop on Bayley for the 1…2…3. Boss ‘n’ Hug are now forced to start the Elimination Chamber come Sunday.
Nia Jax & Tamina Snuka defeated The Boss ‘n’ Hug Connection and The Riott Squad when Jax pinned Bayley following a Samoan Drop (11:05 shown)
- Once again Sasha isn’t there to help Bayley but this time it cost them and now they’re going to have to pull off a superhuman performance in the Elimination Chamber to become the Women’s Tag Team Champions. Match was okay, everyone went through the motions well enough. Tamina’s Superfly Splash is the worst though. (*3/4)
-Ladies and Gentlemen…Elias. Or maybe not as we cut backstage to Finn Balor who tells Becky Lynch to not let her pride get the best of her. Balor trained Becky so there’s a little history there. Back to Elias…who is once again interrupted, this time by a video of Seth Rollins‘ damn good 2018, including beating both John Cena and Roman Reigns in a Gauntlet Match and winning the IC Title at WrestleMania. Graphic hyping Rollins/Lesnar for WrestleMania. And for the THIRD TIME…Elias, who’s interrupted by The Lucha House Party (Kalisto, Lince Dorado, & Gran Metalik).
- Honestly I thought it was a production cue misfire the first time but once I understood what was going on I laughed. Eat it, Elias. AND GET A LAST NAME, NERD.
-We return from the commercial break where an angry Elias tells The Lucha Party to knock it off. Elias is sick of being interrupted and what’s even worse he wasn’t nominated for a Grammy. Kalisto says they want to WALK…WITH ELIAS. Elias launches into his song about how terrible Gran Rapids. Elias asks what The Lucha Party thinks, they don’t seem too thrilled. Elias asks if they can do better than him, Dorado is the dancer while Metalik is the…something or another. Elias challenges Kalisto to try and place his guitar, which he does, I guess. Renee Young compares Kalisto to Esteban because he is also a Hispanic man who plays an acoustic guitar. Elias offers to duet but instead hits Kalisto with his backup guitar and runs off. DANG.
- Segment went on a little long but hey I’m an easy mark for a guitar shot. Lucha House Party is a dumb thing though, those three deserve a lot better. Wasn’t Gran Metalik supposed to be a big part of the Cruiserweight division?
-WWE Intercontinental Champion Bobby Lashley and Lio Rush make their way out to watch the next match…which happens after another commercial break.
–Sonya Deville & Mandy Rose cut a pre-taped promo vowing to become the first-ever Women’s Tag Team Champions at Elimination Chamber.
–Finn Balor makes his entrance, video plays recapping his feud with Lashley. Balor will take on both Lashley & Lio Rush in a handicap match for the Intercontinental Championship at Elimination Chamber.
Finn Balor vs. ‘The Scottish Psychopath’ Drew McIntyre
Lashley and Rush distract Balor, giving McIntyre the advantage at the outset. After a bit of pummeling Balor catches McIntyre off-guard with a dropkick and they fight on the apron. McIntyre charges and goes right into the post, Balor goes to follow-up with a tope but Rush grabs the leg. Balor hits Rush with a baseball slide followed by a sling blade and dropkick to McIntyre. Balor sets up for the Coup de Grace, Lashley shoves him off the turnbuckle and the ref calls for the DQ.
Finn Balor defeated Drew McIntyre via DQ when Bobby Lashley interfered (3:02)
- K. (*)
Kurt Angle breaks up a 2-on-1 attack, hitting both McIntyre and Lashley with German Suplexes. Rush runs in and gets caught into an Ankle Lock until Baron Corbin attacks him from behind. 3-on-1 attack until Braun Strowman shows up to give some hands. Some hands are given, but Corbin is saved from a Running Powerslam by Lashley. Strowman, Angle, and Balor stand tall as we go to commercial, wouldn’t be surprised to see a match break out.
Kurt Angle, Finn Balor, & Braun Strowman vs. Baron Corbin, ‘The Scottish Psychopath’ Drew McIntyre, & Bobby Lashley
AND THERE IT IS, joined in-progress because again they only have THREE GODDAMN HOURS TO FILL. I forgot to start the timer, but whatever honestly I have no real interest in any of these folks. The heels beat on Balor for a bit, then Balor catches McIntyre with a DDT and makes the tag to Angle. German suplays, McIntyre escapes an Angle Slam but eats a missile dropkick from the middle buckle. This time the Angle Slam is successful, but Corbin makes the save. Strowman runs in and the ref gets distracted with him, allowing Lashley to attack Angle from behind. Not enough to get the pin though as Corbin tags in for a wear-down hold. Lashley tags in and we’ve got a CHINLOCK, y’all. Lashley runs into a boot from Angle (deja vu, whoa), McIntyre stops the tag and tosses him out to the floor as we go to commercial.
Back live Balor gets the hot tag and goes ham on everybody until Corbin connects with a chokeslam across the knee for the 1…2…oh we’re still going, okay. Lashley gets his licks in, going after the ribs Brock injured at Royal Rumble. Balor rolls through a sunset flip and connects with a basement dropkick. McIntyre pulls Strowman off the apron and gets punched for it. Strowman goozles Corbin, McIntyre gets his revenge with a Claymore Kick. Lashley goes back into the post shoulder-first then Balor hits both Corbin and McIntyre with a senton to the floor. Rush tries to get involved, Balor knocks him off the apron. Lashley, however, attacks a distracted Balor and hits some sort of move for the 1…2…Balor gets his foot on the rope…3! HUH?
Another referee shows up and mentions that Balor’s foot was on the rope so the MATCH WILL CONTINUE AFTER THE BREAK. Boy they really testing my desire to get back into the weekly recap game with this sh*t.
Back live once again and Balor is going it alone as Strowman is recovering in the crowd and Angle is out cold somewheres. Balor plants Corbin, but his side has nobody to tag so Lashley continues the punishment. Finally Lashley hits a shoulder to the midsection in the corner, avoiding going into the post a third time. Balor escapes Lashley’s clutches and hits a double stomp but still there’s nobody to tag. Balor hits Lashley with an enzuigiri, Strowman finally wakes up and gets the HOT TAG. Strowman splashes Lashley and clubs everybody in the chest. Strowman runs around the ring, flattening everybody, including Lio Rush. Corbin tries to stop Strowman from re-entering the ring, Angle pulls him off and hits a German suplex. McIntyre runs in, Strowman clotheslines him out and Lashley attacks from behind. Lashley charges, Strowman catches him with a Running Powerslam. He tags Balor in who hits the Coup de Grace for the 1…2…3.
Kurt Angle, Finn Balor, & Braun Strowman defeated Baron Corbin, Drew McIntyre, & Bobby Lashley when Balor pinned Lashley following the Coup de Grace (TIME NOT RECORDED, BALL PARK AT FIFTY HOURS)
- A match that went on WAY TOO LONG involving six people I don’t have any particular affinity for. There were some okay moments as the faces hit their usual spots. Balor pinning the champ is the usual WWE trope, and probably means he won’t be winning on Sunday. Also…honestly I have no more to say about this, I was not interested at all. (1/2*)
–Kevin Owens cuts a promo from the bowling alley to update everyone about his time off. He apparently has a flip phone because the quality is awful. Owens doesn’t know where he’s coming back, but he WILL be back in one month. Owens then bowls a gutter ball. Somehow he’s stolen the whole show with just this little segment.
–Nikki Cross makes her entrance, then we cut to the back where Charly Caruso asks Becky Lynch what she’ll tell her family if she doesn’t apologize tonight. Becky says it’s none of her damn business. She’s right. Ruby Riott is out next…and now it’s time for WWE, patron saint of racial tolerance, tells us about Black History Month.
Nikki Cross vs. Ruby Riott
Riott jobs, er, challenges Ronda Rousey for the RAW Women’s Championship on Sunday but given how the focus is all on Becky/Ronda it feels like a waste of time devoting any energy to this. The commentators try though, because they gotta. Cross yells a bunch and slaps on a side headlock. Riott belts her with a forearm, Cross responds with a crossbody into a lateral press for a 1-count. Front chancery, Riott escapes and goes on the offensive.
WE CUT AWAY FROM THE F*CKING MATCH to go backstage where Ronda Rousey tells Becky to ‘Man Up’ so they can make history at WrestleMania. Yeah, Ruby Riott is a real threat. Riott fights through a brief comeback to Cross and drives a series of knees to the back. Cross kicks Riott out of the corner, Riott dodges a crossbody and penalty kicks her right in the ribs. They fight on the apron, Cross hits an inverted DDT on THE HARDEST PART OF THE RING and follows up with a crossbody on the floor. Riott tries to escape, Cross traps her in the ring skirt and unloads with a series of forearms. Back in the ring Riott kicks Cross off the buckles and hits the Riott Kick for the 1…2…3.
Ruby Riott defeated Nikki Cross via pinfall with the Riott Kick (5:29)
- A win for Riott to give her a semblance of momentum heading into Elimination Chamber but let’s be real: she doesn’t have any. Rousey didn’t even bother interacting with her and Riott didn’t get any mic time after. Come on, y’all. (*)
–Paul Heyman is shown backstage talking to a production assistant. Probably mad he messed up his coffee order or something.
Seth Rollins makes his way out to talk to the ring to do some WrestleMania hype. Rollins recaps the last year of his career and points to the WrestleMania sign because of course he does. Rollins then brings up the 6 F-5s given to him by Brock Lesnar, which sent him home for a few weeks to “think about stuff”. Very eloquent. Good news and bad news: bad news is he’s in pain, good news is…he’s still standing, I guess? If he can fight he can stomp and if he can stomp he can beat Brock Lesnar.
Rollins’ rambling is mercifully stopped by Paul Heyman. Heyman has a WrestleMania-level surprise for everyone and introduces BRAWK LEEEEESNAR…j/k he isn’t here. Heyman says all men aren’t created equal and asks Rollins if he really thinks his DNA matches the DNA of Lesnar. Heyman calls Rollins’ plight a ‘suicide mission’ and Rollins will be the architect…of his own demise. That’s not a prediction, that is a spoiler. Rollins will NOT STAND FOR Lesnar holding the Universal Championship for two years and will do anything it takes, including selling his soul to the devil, to make sure he loses the title.
Well that was a whole lot of not-oh wait here comes Dean Ambrose. Cool cool cool. Ambrose only has one thing to say: ‘Slay the Beast’. Alright then. Ambrose is in action next.
EC3 vs. Dean Ambrose
Ambrose lost to EC3 last week, so now we get the rematch. The EC3 character has never made sense outside the world of TNA but hey, good for him being able to keep the gimmick across companies. Ambrose chases EC3 into the ring, allowing EC3 to catch him off-guard and go on the offensive, including a running clothesline. Is he supposed to be the heel now? I don’t really understand. EC3 shows off his “power” (his arms were shaking WILDLY) with a delayed vertical suplex and applies a NERVE HOLD. Ugggggh. Ambrose escapes EC3’s clutches and sends him shoulder-first into the post. Ambrose mounts his babyface-like comeback, including a swinging side slam for the 1…2…nope. You could hear a PIN DROP in this arena. Ambrose climbs to the top, EC3 crotches him. An arrogant EC3 goes for the kill, Ambrose surprises him with a small package for the 1…2…3. 50/50 BOOKING, Y’AAAAAALL.
Dean Ambrose defeated EC3 via pinfall with an inside cradle (3:54)
- So apparently Dean Ambrose is a good guy now or something? I don’t really know. He’s gone come April supposedly so I’m sure he’s just doing whatever until he can finally peace out. This was a short but okay match, no reason to give Ambrose the win though, he doesn’t need it. (*1/4)
-Becky Lynch is backstage, still thinking of what to do. Alexa Bliss tells Becky not to apologize, trying to play to her pride so that frees up a spot at WrestleMania. Bliss denies this, then says if Becky apologizes she’ll be selling out. Becky agrees…selling WrestleMania out THAT IS. Ohhhhhhh someone give Alexa a lift to the burn unit, suckaaaa.
RAW Tag Team Championship
‘The Glorious’ Bobby Roode & Chad Gable [c] vs. The Revival (Scott Dawson & Dash Wilder)
The Revival earned the shot by winning a four corners match last week. Gable uses some RASSLIN’ to maintain control early until Dawson decks him with an uppercut. Roode tags in and it’s right hands for everybody followed by a flying double clothesline and The Revival are cleared from the ring. Gable follows up with a beautiful moonsault on both Revival members as we go to commercial. CHAD GABLE DESERVES BETTER THAN THIS.
Back live and wouldn’t you know it but The Revival are now in control. Roode escapes a cobra clutch, Wilder shuts him down with a shoulder to the midsection. Dawson tags in, Roode fights off both Revivalers and makes the lukewarm tag to Gable. Gable don’t care and shows off anyway because HE DESERVES BETTER THAN THIS. Deadlift German into a bridge onto Dawson for the 1…2…nah. Roode accidentally distracts the ref, Revival connect with a stun gun for the 1…2…Gable manages to kick out. The Revival continue the attack but can’t put Gable away. Gable tries to make a tag, Dawson uses the hair to stop him but gets suplexed for his troubles. Wilder pulls Roode off the apron and chases Wilder away, he climbs up and gets sent back off, and The Revival hit a sort-of Demolition Decapitation for the 1…2…Gable kicks out again. Gable hits Wilder with a rolling German suplex, Dawson tags in and eats a German suplex as well and…another commercial? Eyyyy good for them.
Back live Gable slingshots Dawson into the corner and both men are down. Wilder gets the tag but so does Roode and it’s The Glorious One on offense. Backdrop to Wilder, urinage for Dawson, suplex to Wilder on top of Dawson. Roode clotheslines Dawson out and hits a spinebuster on Wilder for the 1…2…NOPE. Dawson gets a blind tag and The Revival hit a Gory Special into a facebuster for the 1…2…ROODE KICKS OUT. The Revival are frustrated, to say the least. That was a cool move. Wilder kicks out of a sunset flip, Gable tags in, the champs hit a blockbuster/German suplex combo for the 1…2…WILDER BREAKS IT UP JUST IN TIME. The Revival hit Gable with a flying clothesline/power bomb combo for the 1…2…Roode sends Wilder into Dawson to break the count and THE CROWD IS FINALLY AWAKE. Roode runs Wilder into Dawson, Dawson spikes Roode with a DDT, Gable hits a flying sunset flip into a jackknife cover for the 1…2…DAWSON KICKS OUT. Blind tag to Wilder, The Revival counter a flying crossbody into the Shatter Machine for the 1…2…3! NEW CHAMPS!
The Revival defeated Bobby Roode & Chad Gable [c] to win the RAW TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP after a Shatter Machine on Gable (12:41 shown)
- A good match that became great after the second commercial break. Excellent exchanges and beautiful double team offense from The Revival en route to a well-deserved tag team title win. They even got a crowd that didn’t even cheer a moonsault to the floor earlier in the contest to chant ‘THIS IS AWESOME’, and that’s impressive. About damn time, almost too little too late really. Also despite the quality of the match I stand by the fact that Chad Gable deserves better. (***)
Charly Caruso catches up with The Revival backstage for some comments. Nothing of any real importance is said but you can see how genuinely happy they are to finally get the belts.
Becky Lynch makes her way out to make her choice….after a commercial break. Back live here come The Authority. Triple H and Steph plead their case for an apology. Becky still doesn’t trust Triple H and Steph, but if it all it’ll take is two words to realize her dream to headline WrestleMania then…she’s sorry. Triple H and Steph try to shake hands, Becky ignores it and says that no one will take the dream away from her. Triple H congratulates Becky and says she’s going to WrestleMania. The Authority go to exit, Becky confusingly asks if that’s it, and it apparently is. Huh, right on.
Ronda Rousey makes her way out to confront Becky but that’s quickly interrupted by Mr. McMahon. McMahon says both Ronda and Becky have bad attitudes and says Becky thinks she’s bigger than WWE. McMahon decides to SUSPEND BECKY FOR SIXTY DAYS, which runs out five days after WrestleMania. McMahon announces her replacement, someone who knows to stay in their lane: Charlotte Flair. McMahon raises Flair’s arm and that concludes the episode.
- The whole ‘will Becky apologize?’ thing was a goofy story, but goddamn did I love the payoff. Becky swallowing her pride in order to get the match was a nice bit of acting by ‘The Man’ and the ending with McMahon inserting his hand-picked challenger into the main event instead of Becky was pretty great…as long as it doesn’t lead to a triple threat match at WrestleMania. I think WWE is playing with us here, but you never know with these guys.
Overall Thoughts: Great tag team match and ending segment to an otherwise dull as dirt RAW that did little to make a case for Elimination Chamber‘s relevance. I’m going to watch the show Sunday but it’s inconsequential for the most part, at least on the RAW side. Maybe SmackDown will be better. Keep that fast-forward button handy for this one if you decide to watch it later.
- Match of the Night: Bobby Roode & Chad Gable [c] vs. The Revival for the RAW TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP
- Moment of the Night: The tag team main event gets the tired crowd from ‘meh’ to ‘THIS IS AWESOME’ on quality alone. Beautiful thing to see.