There’s not much on the preview for tonight’s RAW. The WWE Championship Elimination Chamber match participants – Drew McIntyre, AJ Styles, Sheamus, Randy Orton, Jeff Hardy, and The Miz – will compete in a gauntlet match to decide who will be the final entrant into the Chamber on Sunday. Drew McIntyre will also join The Miz on Miz TV.
I’m Amanda and this is the RAW review.
Lucha House Party & Riddle def. The Hurt Business
Charlotte Flair & Asuka vs Lacey Evans & Peyton Royce – No Contest
Kofi Kingston def. The Miz
Shayna Baszler def. Lana
AJ Styles def. Kofi Kingston > Drew McIntyre def. AJ Styles > Drew McIntyre def. Jeff Hardy > Drew McIntyre def. Randy Orton > Sheamus def. Drew McIntyre
♦ Miz TV opened the show, but The Miz was without John Morrison. That meant we didn’t have to sit through the excruciating promo/banter at the start, Miz brought Drew McIntyre straight out. Morrison’s absence was explained as, ‘He is with a huge producer making a Bad Bunny diss track’, and Miz insisted on calling McIntyre Andy.
Miz ran through the format of the Elimination Chamber match and asked McIntyre if it had dawned on him that statistically speaking his Road to WrestleMania could end there, and said if it was him, he’d be panicking. He didn’t give McIntyre a chance to answer, just started talking about Sheamus’ betrayal. Every time Miz looked like he was waiting for a response, he waited until McIntyre got the mic to his lips then started again.
Eventually, McIntyre told him to shut up and said he was going to speak, and if Miz interrupted one time, he’d regret it. He got as far as saying he was sick and tired before Miz interrupted him. Drew McIntyre headbutted him and left. Interview over.
After he’d left, Miz said he’d applied a little bit of Elimination Chamber pressure and we’re starting to see cracks in the WWE Champion. But he has no Elimination Chamber pressure because he has the Money in the Bank briefcase. He blithered on about being a master strategist and thinking on a whole different level. He might or might not cash in the briefcase at Elimination Chamber. He wanted everyone to know he’s in control – and nothing says ‘I’m in control’ like screaming it while red in the face after being headbutted by a large Scottish man.
Then he made his one interesting point. The Miz is removing himself from the Elimination Chamber match. He doesn’t need to be in it.
♦ Lucha House Party had a very confused and confusing conversation with Riddle about President’s Day, backstage before they came out for The Hurt Business vs Lucha House Party & Riddle, but the majority of conversations with Riddle are confused, confusing, or both. Not a bad match at all. Bobby Lashley watched from backstage instead of joining MVP, Cedric Alexander, and Shelton Benjamin.
The last couple of minutes got very chaotic. It was down to MVP and Riddle while everyone else was recovering from something. Lucha House Party broke up MVP’s pin on Riddle, so Alexander, Benjamin piled in as well. When it was back to MVP and Riddle, Riddle kneed him in the face and finished him off with a Floating Bro.
Bobby Lashley attacked Riddle and Lucha House Party on the ramp. He put Riddle down while he took out Dorado and Metalik, then went back to put Riddle out cold with the Hurt Lock.
♦ Keith Lee is injured and not currently medically cleared after last week interaction with Lashley. His status is unknown for the United States Championship Triple-threat against Bobby Lashley and Riddle on Sunday.
♦ The Miz is very upset that his briefcase got dented when McIntyre threw it. He pitched for John Morrison to take his spot. Adam Pearce said he’d take it into consideration.
♦ Damian Priest’s finisher is now named Hit the Lights instead of The Reckoning. He had a backstage interview alongside Bad Bunny after catching him chatting to Mandy Rose. The interview was interrupted by Akira Tozawa pinning R-Truth for the 24/7 Championship. Priest threw Tozawa into a packing crate, but let Bad Bunny pin him. Bad Bunny is now the 24/7 Champion.
♦ Xavier Woods and Kofi Kingston made a case for Kingston to take Miz’ place in the Elimination Chamber match. Miz came over and argued with them about it. Pearce made a match between Miz and Kofi Kingston for tonight. If Miz wins Morrison gets the place. If Kofi Kingston wins then he gets it. The segment finished with Kingston and Woods mocking Miz’ movie career while Miz got red and shouty again.
♦ Ahead of Lacey Evans’ title shot against Asuka, we got Asuka & Charlotte Flair vs Lacey Evans & Peyton Royce, with Ric Flair. Lacey Evans had a lot to say for herself on the way to the ring. I have no idea what her character is supposed to be now, except grating and unpleasant. She might also be the worst tag partner as well. When Charlotte Flair shoved Royce towards their corner for Evans to tag in, Evans whispered something in her ear then spent the next few minutes hiding behind the post. Royce did ok for a while, but Evans suddenly got busy talking to Ric when Royce needed her. Next time, Peyton Royce just tagged her and rolled out of the ring.
Evans walked halfway up the ramp and grabbed a mic. She said Charlotte couldn’t put her hands on her because she’s pregnant. Ric got very excited and said, ‘Call me daddy’, and they left… excuse me while I go and bleach my brain. Charlotte Flair’s expression is everything you need to know about this storyline.
The only possible good thing about it is, if Evans sticks to her story (and Evans is legitimately pregnant), she’ll have to be removed from the title match on Sunday.
♦ Sheamus had a backstage interview with Charly Caruso about whether winning the gauntlet will improve his odds of winning on Sunday. He said he shouldn’t have to play the odds. McIntyre accepted his challenge and that should have been the end of it. As it is, he’s going to win the gauntlet the Brogue Kick whoever is still standing when his pod opens on Sunday and take the title.
♦ Kofi Kingston, with Xavier Woods, vs The Miz was good. As commentary said, Miz has carefully crafted his game plan for Elimination Chamber to have his sidekick to the maximum damage so he can cash in without having to put his body through a gruelling match. Kofi Kingston wants a repeat of Kofi Mania, which started at Elimination Chamber. In this case, high motivation equalled high brutality and high resilience from both of them. It nearly finished with a figure four from Miz, but Kingston got to the ropes. Miz still waited out the whole five-count before he let go, but Kingston paid him back with the Trouble in Paradise that ended the match.
♦ WWE felt it necessary to replay Nia Jax screaming, ‘My hole’ before she got shoved through a table, as a lead in to Lana and Naomi’s interview. They got a couple of hole puns in as well, but it wasn’t like Jax was ever going to live it down anyway. The essence of the interview was Lana just wants to be her best. She’s just trying to get better every week. And Naomi is the best tag team partner and friend. She’s going to give the match with Shayna Baszler her all like she always does, and if she wins, great.
Shayna Baszler, with Nia Jax, vs. Lana, with Naomi, was mostly painful looking for Lana. It’s a very good job she’s flexible because Baszler twisted her in a variety of ways the body generally doesn’t twist. Lana made the decision to slap Baszler in retaliation, which might not have been her best plan. She never stops trying though. There aren’t as many tools in her toolkit, and she can’t compete in terms of strength, but she’s resilient as anything, and the world loves a trier.
Nia Jax attacked Naomi on the outside. She chucked her into the barricades, so Naomi shoved her into the post. Baszler grabbed Naomi by the head and Lana attempted a rollup while she was distracted. Shayna Baszler kicked out and got the Kirifuda Clutch locked in. Lana had to tap.
♦ Randy Orton said that thanks to Sheamus, the business between him and Drew McIntyre remains unfinished. But that’s ok because tonight he’s going to win the gauntlet match so he becomes the final entrant on Sunday. He will do whatever it takes to get what he wants. He used what he did to The Fiend as an example. Now he wants the WWE Championship and he’s not facing five opponents, he’s facing five victims of the RK…
Before he got to the O, the cameras cut to Alexa Bliss, the dark side version, sat in a darkened Firefly Fun House. She was scattering ashes and said, ‘In the fire, he was destroyed, but in the future, he will be reborn’. The camera panned out to show she was knelt in the centre of a pentagram with a lit candle at each point. The candles went out and she started laughing and clapping her hands.
♦ Braun Strowman demanded to know why he’s not in the Elimination Chamber match. Pearce said he filled the match with former WWE Champions and Strowman was a former Universal Champion, which isn’t the same thing. He told Strowman he’s just the messenger. Strowman told him to give Shane McMahon the message that he needs to make it right or he promises it’s not going to be pretty.
♦ AJ Styles vs Kofi Kingston was the first match of the gauntlet. Styles had some stuff to say about Kofi Kingston trying to recreate Kofi Mania before he knew Kingston would be his opponent, mainly that he’s going to crush those dreams. The gauntlet match is just going to be a warmup and a preview. Omos didn’t like Xavier Woods’ trombone playing, so he picked him up by the throat and held him there for a good few seconds before throwing him over the barricade. Kingston ran over and yelled at him and the ref ejected Omos from ringside. Styles used Kingston’s distraction as an opportunity to chop block him. Kingston was still getting the better of Styles on one leg, but he couldn’t get the finish and Styles kept chipping away to increase the damage to his knee. In the end, AJ Styles advanced with the Phenomenal Forearm.
AJ Styles vs Drew McIntyre was a fun match two, but possibly not for Styles. The champ was in no mood for messing around and didn’t give Styles a second’s respite. It was less match and more systematic destruction of Styles, who somehow kept kicking out even after literally being thrown around at ringside. Styles eventually caught himself a break with a punch to McIntyre’s throat, but he paid for that shortly after on the wrong end of an Alabama Slam. He countered the Claymore with a dropkick and kicked McIntyre out of the ring with another, but his forearm over the top rope just left them both laying. McIntyre was struggling to get back in the ring, so Styles kneed him in the face and knocked him to the floor then delivered a forearm from the apron when he got nearly to his feet.
They were back in the ring after a break, and the match got another five minutes. For the finish, McIntyre headbutted his way out of a calf-crusher and ducked a Phenomenal Forearm, then shoved Styles into the middle rope and Claymored him when he stood up.
Drew McIntyre vs Jeff Hardy was match three. Hardy had a promo played during his entrance. He said he’s made a career out of taking risks and he’d have to take more to outlast five other superstars. The risks would be worth it as they’re going to get him to WrestleMania.
He came in with the same, start fast, strategy as McIntyre had, and it was working for him going into a break, and when we came back. A neckbreaker gave McIntyre some breathing space, but Hardy countered the first hammerlock DDT and kicked out of the second. Suplexing Hardy on the floor didn’t do either of them any favours, but McIntyre couldn’t finish it and his ribs were clearly problematic. He still delivered a superplex to Jeff Hardy, but Hardy kicked out. McIntyre missed a Claymore and Hardy got the Twist of Fate, but McIntyre got his knees up for the Swanton Bomb. The next Claymore didn’t miss and Jeff Hardy didn’t get up.
Match four, Drew McIntyre vs Randy Orton, started with McIntyre struggling to catch his breath and get to his feet as Orton approached the ring. It was in full swing when we got back from a break, with Orton in charge. The ThunderDome went purple then every screen had Alexa Bliss’ laughing face on it. Orton was so freaked he got counted out. He attempted to re-enter the ring, but McIntyre Claymored him back down.
Drew McIntyre vs Sheamus completed the set with match five. It nearly didn’t start at all because Sheamus attacked McIntyre from behind and gave him a beating before the bell. The ref had to back Sheamus off until he’d checked on McIntyre and let him get to his feet. He didn’t stay on them long. McIntyre had been in the ring for forty minutes or so by then, and it showed. He had nothing left except stubbornness. He managed a headbutt and Futureshock DDT but didn’t have the energy to cover. At ringside, after he tipped Sheamus over the ropes and forearmed him off the apron, McIntyre rammed Sheamus’ head into the post. That wasn’t enough and McIntyre failed to cover after the spinebuster, choosing to go for a Claymore. Sheamus was ready, avoided it, and pinned Drew McIntyre with a Brogue Kick.
Sheamus gloated from the stage after the match, while McIntyre glowered at him.
Giving the whole final hour over to the gauntlet match was nice. A whole hour (give or take) of wrestling. Most of the gauntlet matches got long enough to be stand-alone matches, long enough to develop and show what it means to have the champion and five former champions in the Chamber on Sunday. It has the potential to be a great match.