Sasha Banks Confronted Asuka
I could have done without Stephanie McMahon kicking off Raw and putting over the "women's revolution" for the millionth time, but this segment did lead to the announcement that we will be getting the first-ever women's Elimination Chamber match next month for the Raw Women's Championship and tease what's next for Ronda Rousey. I liked the little back-and-forth Asuka and Banks had that set up their match for later on in the night.
Braun Strowman def. Kane in a Last Man Standing Elimination Chamber Qualifying Match
Last Man Standing matches are known to be tedious, especially when they feature stars such as Strowman and Kane, but this was exactly what it needed to be with Strowman completely dominating Kane and making short work of him to earn his entry into the Chamber match. It definitely looked like WWE's way of writing Kane out of storylines for the time being, and I surely hope that's the case because this feud with Strowman has been boring beyond belief. Plus, there isn't much else for him to do now that it's over.
Elias def. "Woken" Matt Hardy in an Elimination Chamber Qualifying Match
This would have been an unexciting affair a few months ago, but Elias has some momentum right now and Hardy is much more fun to watch with this "Woken" character. Granted, this wasn't a mat classic by any means, but they made decent use of the time they were allotted and the right guy went over. Hardy was protected in defeat thanks to the distraction from Bray Wyatt, and that feud will continue.
Intercontinental Champion The Miz def. Roman Reigns
I'd argue that this was on the same level as their Raw 25 championship clash from last week in that it was a very good television match and entertaining down the stretch. The crowd bought into many of the nearfalls and these two continue to work well together. Needless to say, Reigns losing his title rematch clears him up for one of the remaining Elimination Chamber matches in the weeks to come.
The Revival def. Heath Slater and Rhyno
I wasn't a fan of The Revival losing in a matter of minutes to Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows at Raw 25, but at least WWE isn't giving them The Ascension treatment and they appear to be back on the ascent between their win on the Royal Rumble Kickoff show and now this. It was a glorified squash match with nothing out of the ordinary about it, but the Shatter Machine on Rhyno was a sweet visual and I dug their post-match promo as they talked about how fans are too busy living in the past to appreciate the present. So true!
Asuka def. Sasha Banks
There was definitely a sense of unpredictability when it came to this contest in regards to whether Banks would snap the undefeated streak of Asuka or not. Yes, I realize it's Raw and it was extremely unlikely, but it could have been the catalyst for a Banks heel turn (which she desperately needs at the moment). The match was above-average and the physical nature of it was refreshing. It's a shame the crowd wasn't into this more than they were. I'd much rather see an Asuka vs. Banks rematch at WrestleMania than Asuka vs. Alexa Bliss for the Raw Women's Championship.
Raw Tag Team Champions Shemaus and Cesaro def. Apollo Crews and Titus O'Neil
I fully expected WWE to totally forget Titus Worldwide beat The Bar two weeks in a row, but ultimately, it made sense for Crews and O'Neil to win those matches because it put them in contention for the championship once Sheamus and Cesaro regained the gold at the Royal Rumble. This was actually better than I thought it would be with a solid showing from Crews, but the crowd largely sat on their hands. They didn't believe for a second that the titles were changing hands, and to be honest, who can blame them?
John Cena def. Finn Balor in an Elimination Chamber Qualifying Match
It would have been nice had this received a one week build, but if nothing else, at least Balor acknowledged in a backstage promo that it was Cena who eliminated him from the Royal Rumble match on Sunday night. This had a big fight feel to it, and thankfully, the crowd cut the crap with the beach ball nonsense rather quickly. Once they picked up the pace in the second half, this turned into an excellent main event with Balor not losing much in defeat. I really wish WWE would go all the way with him, but perhaps there's a bigger picture that I can't see (no pun intended) here, like Cena facing The Demon at WrestleMania! Never mind, it's probably just a case of WWE putting Cena over a fresh face just because they can.
This was shades of that first Raw from after the return of the Brand Extension in July 2016 in that there were new graphics, an updated logo and even an announcer shake-up with Jonathan Coachman replacing Booker T (praise the lord!). WWE went all out for the night by holding multiple marquee matches and wasting no time in setting the stage for the two Chamber matches next month. Rousey was nowhere to be seen, which was slightly disappointing, but we might not see her again until after Chamber I imagine. On the whole, though, this edition of Raw held my interest throughout and I enjoyed it.
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