Seth Rollins def. Dean Ambrose
Rollins was all fired up talking about his Royal Rumble victory from Sunday night, and listening to how hot the crowd was for him here confirmed it was the right call by the company to go with him as the men's Rumble winner. Triple H telling Rollins that he had until the end of the night to make a decision regarding who wanted to face at WrestleMania was weird since past Rumble winners never had to make their decision the next night on Raw. Nevertheless, it was a good hook for the rest of the show. Before Rollins could focus on the WrestleMania main event, he had to finish up his feud with Ambrose. This was easily their best match in recent memory and it helped kick off he night on a high note.
Nia Jax and Tamina def. Alexa Bliss and Mickie James to Qualify for the WWE Women's Tag Team Championship Elimination Chamber Match
Ambrose stuck around following his loss to Rollins, but before he could air his grievances to the world, he was cut off by Jax's music. Jax then forced Ambrose out of the ring, and after what happened during the men's Rumble, it appears WWE is more open now to intergender wrestling than they were before. The match that followed was far from an instant classic, but it accomplished what it needed to with Jax and Tamina advancing to Eliminaton Chamber.
Baron Corbin def. Kurt Angle
The bad blood between these two has been brewing for close to a year, so it was about time they clashed one-on-one (Angle gained a measure of revenge against Corbin last month at TLC and on the next night's Raw, but that was it). Considering Corbin isn't normally great in the ring and Angle is in the twilight of his career, I had zero expectations for this, but it ended up being a fun little match. I can't say I'm a fan of Corbin winning clean. Yes, it lends him some credibility, but a win over Angle means nothing at this point. He has lost decisively to the likes of Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre since November and had a less-than-stellar showing in the Royal Rumble, so now there's nothing special about him whatsoever.
Intercontinental Champion Bobby Lashley Attacked Finn Balor
It's amazing how the bad booking of Balor has been forgotten by fans lately and he's instead been positioned as a main event player. Hey, I'm in full favor of his newfound push, but the timing is definitely interesting. He and Balor had an underwhelming series of matches late last year, so I really hope this segment doesn't lead to them feuding over the Intercontinental Championship. However, if WWE wants to build sympathy for Balor by having him get beat down by Raw's baddest heels, it's working.
The Revival def. Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder
Do we still have any idea why Scott Dawson teamed with Rezar at the Royal Rumble and not Dash Wilder? I liked the brief video clips that aired beforehand showing highlights of Hawkins and Ryder's original run together, informing fans who weren't watching back in 2008 of their history as tag team partners. They're a good addition to Raw's depleted tag team division, and I'm honestly surprised Hawkins didn't finally win here by beating The Revival, who reportedly want out of their contracts. The match was fun while it lasted yet could have been so much more.
Elias Attacked Jeff Jarrett and Road Dogg
I just read earlier today that Jarrett has been hired by WWE in a producer role, which is excellent news. I got a kick out of his interaction with Elias (who is apparently already back to being a heel) at the start of the Royal Rumble match, but it looks like this is going to be a full-fledged feud. I don't know how much it'll do for Elias in the long run, but this was a fun segment that the live crowd ate up. Jarrett and Elias eventually joining forces wouldn't a bad idea, either.
The Riott Squad def. Natalya and Dana Brooke to Qualify for the WWE Women's Tag Team Championship Elimination Chamber Match
You had to know Natalya and Brooke were losing this thing as soon as they teased tension backstage. I'm still not sure whether Brooke is supposed to be a babyface or a heel, but what I do know is that she's a pretty abysmal wrestler. This match was total throwaway, but it might have benefited from being so short because the outcome was never in doubt. It would have been a crime for The Riott Squad to not be involved in that WWE Women's Tag Team Championship Elimination Chamber given how long they've been a unit.
Raw Women's Champion Ronda Rousey def. Bayley
Rousey has never been incredibly comfortable on the mic, but she tends to be composed and fares well in her promos more often than not, as long as the crowd is on her side. When they're not, she slips up and has trouble recovering. That was the case during her pre-match promo here. Seriously, it was bad enough that she had to be cut off by Bayley's entrance music. It started off terribly too with that botch in the corner, but props to them for bouncing back after the first commercial break. Bayley benefited from the crowd despising Rousey so much and the final stretch was strong. Becky Lynch emerging afterward was a pleasant surprise, and she didn't want to wait until SmackDown Live on Tuesday to make her matchup with Rousey official for WrestleMania. Their verbal exchange was exceptional and there is no doubt in my mind that their match should be the main event.
Braun Strowman def. Drew McIntyre by Disqualification
At one point, I thought there was a decent chance of this happening at WrestleMania 35 for the Universal Championship. Obviously, that isn't in the cards, and that might be for the better. That isn't to say this was a bad match, but it didn't feel WrestleMania worthy, either. With Corbin and McIntyre laying out Strowman with chairs and steel steps, WWE basically rehashed the same angle they ran with these three two months ago. I could have sworn Strowman wrapped up his rivalry with Corbin at TLC, but apparently not. And this company wonders why Strowman has cooled down significantly.
Universal Champion Brock Lesnar Attacked Seth Rollins
With this segment starting so close to the top of the hour, it was clear that it was going to be rushed. Paul Heyman mocked the idea of Rollins challenging Daniel Bryan at WrestleMania and the two having a "grappling" match, so if I had to guess, it'll be Rollins vs. Lesnar after all. Then again, we don't know for sure because Rollins went right after Lesnar and was immediately laid out by him. Thus, there was no announcement as promised. Lesnar hitting multiple F5s on Rollins was a fairly flat ending to Raw in my opinion.
What a mixed bad this show was. I loved the opening promo and subsequent match, but the rest of the episode was all over the place. Other than the qualifiers for the women's tag team title Elimination Chamber, nothing was said about the next pay-per-view. Rousey vs. Lynch being set in stone for WrestleMania this early is encouraging and their segment was the highlight of the night, but there were a few questionable booking decisions as well with Corbin beating Angle, Strowman rekindling his rivalry with Corbin, and Lesnar viciously attacking Rollins. The cool thing is that there is some uncertainty regarding the road to WrestleMania right now, so if nothing else, I'm looking forward to seeing how the card comes together in the weeks and months ahead.
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