Intercontinental Champion The Miz Interrupted John Cena
It was about time we heard from Cena considering he has been fairly quiet since returning to Raw on Christmas night, even if his promo was paint-by-numbers about his spot at WrestleMania being in jepoardy. Yeah, right! Miz was great with his response and brought up his history with Cena from The Grandest Stage of Them All. I'm happy Miz accepted Cena's invitation for an impromptu match (where the loser would enter the Elimination Chamber first), but only after laying him out with help from The Miztourage.
John Cena def. Intercontinental Champion The Miz (Non-title; Miz Will Enter First in the Men's Elimination Chamber Match)
I maintain that Cena vs. Miz had no business being the WrestleMania 27 main event, and we have seen them clash countless times over the years, but at least they work well together more often than not and this was an entertaining encounter from them. The crowd bought into each of the nearfalls in the second half, even though Cena winning was a foregone conclusion (to me, anyway). The champ losing a non-title match is nothing new, so don't expect Cena to get a shot at the strap.
The Revival def. Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows
The Revival and Balor Club have done battle on a handful of occasions in recent weeks, so switching it up by having Revival attack Anderson and Gallows before the bell even rang was smart because it gave the babyfaces an out for losing. It was a well-wrestled matchup and I'm glad Revival scored the victory, but Raw is in desperate need of tag teams right now. Do we get a Triple Threat for the Raw Tag Team Championship at Chamber?
Seth Rollins Confronted Raw General Manager Kurt Angle
Angle announced that Ronda Rousey will "officially" sign her Raw contract at the pay-per-view next Sunday. It then looked like he was teasing a heel turn by making the fans feel bad for cheering Jason Jordan's injury and him missing WrestleMania, so we'll see if that was designed to plant any seeds or if it will amount to nothing. I've said for months that Rollins vs. Angle would a cool WrestleMania match, so I'm hoping that's the direction we're headed in. It was nice to see Rollins turn down yet another shot at the Raw Tag Team Championship and get fired up about wanting to get back into the Universal Championship picture, inserting him into the night's Second Chance Fatal 4-Way match in the process.
Bayley def. Sasha Banks
I'm usually not a fan of WWE giving away potential money matches away for free on TV, but it isn't the first time they've done Banks vs. Bayley on TV and it won't be the last. Besides, they'll both be in the women's Elimination Chamber and have teased tension lately, so this furthered that storyline. As a match, this was very good, and obviously, I expect nothing less from these ladies. I had to do a double take when Bayley won in her hometown because that rarely ever happens, but the Banks heel turn is well on its way! Additionally, Nia Jax attacking both women afterward was excellent because it established her as a force to be reckoned with before her match against Asuka.
Absolution def. Raw Women's Champion Alexa Bliss and Mickie James
Bliss "saved" James from Absolution last week, so this was solid follow-up to that. I appreciated that James didn't come across like a total idiot and buy into Bliss' crap, but they're telling a logical story going into that women's Chamber match where it will be every woman for themselves. Absolution beat the makeshift team as they should have and received a bit of a boost following a recent string of losses.
Braun Strowman Attacked Elias
This was easily the highlight of the night up to this point with both Strowman and Elias playing their roles perfectly. I'm sure there will be those who will up-and-arms about Strowman doing comedy, but it was refreshing to see him doing something out of his comfort zone, and he hit it out of the park. Not to mention that the crowd loved this. Elias lost nothing by being attacked, as he continues to be one of my favorite parts of Raw each week.
Roman Reigns def. Raw Tag Team Champion Sheamus
Similar to Cena vs. Miz, this was hardly a fresh matchup and I figured the audience would sit on their hands for this in the third hour, but they were surprisingly engaged in the action. Reigns and Sheamus, to their credit, put together an enjoyable encounter, despite there being nothing on the line. I didn't think WWE would have Sheamus compete in such a lengthy match since he is reportedly working hurt, but you would never know that based off his performance here.
Finn Balor vs. Seth Rollins vs. Bray Wyatt vs. "Woken" Matt Hardy vs. Apollo Crews in a Second Chance Elimination Chamber Qualifying Fatal 5-Way Match Ended in a Draw
Save for Rollins, these were the men that lost their respective qualifying matches over the past two weeks. Everyone assumed either Rollins or Balor was winning, so while the rest of the competitors didn't have much of a chance, it was a very fun main event, nonetheless. There tended to be only two or three people in the ring at a time, but at least the pace was kept consistent and there never seemed to be a down period. I was fine with the non-finish between Balor and Rollins because it sets up a match next week to determine who the final spot in the Chamber will go to, but the commentators could have addressed that real quick before Raw went off the air.
Not every edition of Raw is going to be must-see, but WWE deserves credit for building up Elimination Chamber fairly well since right after the Royal Rumble. Most of the matches for the card have been confirmed (along with Rousey's return), and this show did an effective job of hyping up most of those matchups. Plus, the wrestling was above-average on this episode with a number of quality contests taking place and the main event is well worth checking out. I'm hopeful that the company can deliver a strong go-home show next week and sell any fans on the fence about the pending pay-per-view that it should be a newsworthy event.
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