Royal Rumble was a bit of a mixed bag (read the SteelChair review here), but we’re on the Road to WrestleMania proper. Bobby Lashley will “Usher in the All-Mighty Era” tonight, and his first title defence has been announced already. It will be in the Elimination Chamber match in Jeddah on February 19. Brock Lesnar gets to pick his WrestleMania opponent tonight. And Ronda Rousey might well pick hers too.
I’m Amanda and this is the RAW review.
Rhea Ripley def. Nikki A.S.H.
The Miz def. Dominik Mysterio
Austin Theory def. Kevin Owens
Angelo Dawkins def. Dolph Ziggler
Riddle def. Otis
Bianca Belair def. Carmella
AJ Styles def. Rey Mysterio
♦ Adam Pearce opened the show, to sum up Royal Rumble and talk about Elimination Chamber. Bobby Lashley and MVP came to see what he had to say about the other five competitors.
MVP is angry about Pearce’s decision to put Lashley into the Elimination Chamber, calling it unfair. Lashley is equally unhappy but preferred to focus on how much better than Lesnar he is.
Brock Lesnar, alone having lost his lackey to The Tribal Chief along with his title, arrived ready to fight. Babyface Brock Lesnar is weird, but I’m into it. He’s funny. Having shut MVP up by threatening to shove his cane up his ass, he questioned how much pride Lashley can take in the victory. Lashley only got the win because of Paul Heyman and Roman Reigns, and it’s them he’s mad at, not Lashley. Anyway, he won the Royal Rumble so he gets to choose who he fights at WrestleMania.
He’s not picking Lashley, he’s picking Roman Reigns. That’s no reflection on Lashley, but where he does come into it, is that the WrestleMania match is going to be title vs title. And as he’s ready to fight, he’s challenging Lashley to an immediate rematch.
Lashley said he’s pinned him once, he can pin him again. MVP declined the match on Lashley’s behalf, so Lesnar called him chickenshit. Lashley clearly wanted the match, but listened to his manager and left.
As Bobby Lashley and MVP got to the stage, Adam Pearce announced that Brock Lesnar will be one of the five Elimination Chamber competitors.
♦ Rhea Ripley vs Nikki A.S.H. hasn’t really developed as a feud. They have better chemistry as teammates than opponents, and the promos to highlight the emotion of the betrayal just haven’t been there. The match was decent, and the commentary worked hard to build the story. Nikki A.S.H. stopped to pose instead of finishing Ripley and lost to a Riptide as a result.
♦ Riddle and Chad Gable had a scooter race, officiated by Kevin Patrick. Gable complained about it then laughed at how easy it would be. The race was 50 laps of the arena, finishing in the ring. R-Truth brought out a chequered flag to get them underway.
♦ Alexa Bliss had another therapy session and talked about how real Lilly was to her. The therapist asked how she’d feel if Lilly came back to her and showed her a replica Lilly doll, reminding her it wasn’t the real one and shouldn’t mean anything to her. She gazed at it longingly and said, ‘Lilly’.
♦ The Miz vs Dominik Mysterio, with Rey Mysterio, was a good excuse for them to show The Miz and Maryse getting their asses kicked by Edge and Beth Phoenix, and mention that Rey Mysterio is on the cover of 2k22. Miz shoved Rey into the announce desk, then tripped himself to get Rey ejected from ringside. A Skull Crushing Finale finished Dominik before Rey got to the ramp.
♦ Dana Brooke fought off Tamina in the corridor, just in time for the scooter racers to fly past them on lap 18/50.
At lap 25, Riddle ran into Omos and told him he has beautiful eyes.
♦ Kevin Owens hosted a special KO Show to talk about The Road to WrestleMania. He declared himself for the Elimination Chamber match but noted he has to beat Austin Theory first.
Seth Rollins was his guest. He got the hell beaten out of him with a chair after Reigns got himself disqualified in their match. It was very well done. Reigns delivered the exact shot Rollins did to destroy The Shield, then followed it up with a LOT more. Rollins entered to The Shield music and fought in full Shield gear, so he had it coming.
Owens called Rollins the Universal Champion of his heart. Rollins said he didn’t get the title, but he got a permanent piece of real estate in Roman Reigns’ head and he can go back any time. But that’s SmackDown business and this is RAW and he had an announcement. Rollins will be in the Elimination Chamber.
Owens was a little annoyed he has to qualify when Rollins gets straight into the match. He suggested Rollins use his sway to get him in as well, by threatening to walk. Rollins wasn’t sure at all. Owens was still trying to convince him when Theory turned up and made it too late.
Kevin Owens vs Austin Theory – Elimination Chamber Qualifying Match – was good. It was all about Owens until Theory slammed him backwards onto the step as we headed for a break. By the time we got back, he was back in it. Theory halted his momentum, avoiding a moonsault from the top and delivering a neckbreaker, but Owens kicked out.
Theory got his foot on the ropes from Owens’ superplex. Owens lost his temper and battered Theory on the outside, but Theory caught him getting back in, with the middle rope to the balls, and finished it with an ATL.
Austin Theory will join Seth Rollins and Brock Lesnar as Bobby Lashley’s opponents in the Elimination Chamber.
♦ Street Profits gave Riddle a drink on lap 39/50. They refused to give Gable one. Otis turned up and handed him a cup of what turned out to be steak sauce.
♦ Angelo Dawkins, with Montez Ford, vs Dolph Ziggler was really good. Ziggler is so annoying that I sometimes forget he’s great. Montez Ford is so incredible, Dawkins doesn’t always get the props he deserves. That should change after this one. Pinning Dolph Ziggler in singles action is a huge win for him.
♦ Gable fell off his scooter at the bottom of the ramp so it should have been an easy victory for Riddle. Otis turned up and bulldozed Riddle off his scooter, giving Gable a chance to get up and even do a lap of Riddle before crossing the finish line.
Gable took offence at being called a cheater and said Riddle was obviously looking for a match. He gave him one, against Otis.
Adam Pearce made Riddle vs Otis an Elimination Chamber Qualifying Match as it was about to start. Riddle got bounced around a lot, but he’s resilient to the point where commentary questioned if he should give up. He bounced Otis’ neck off the ropes, but that burst of energy was halted by a clothesline described by Corey Graves as ‘A Ferrari running into a redwood’.
Eventually, Riddle’s persistence paid off and he got Otis down with a couple of knees to the face. He took Otis’ knee out with a Floating Bro, then pinned him with his next flight from the top.
Riddle’s addition to the match leaves just one slot left.
♦ In a rare sign that WWE still gives us nice things sometimes, the final qualifier will be the main event of the night, Rey Mysterio vs AJ Styles.
♦ Bianca Belair lasted 47 minutes in the Royal Rumble match. The longest surviving competitor for the third year running. Her ‘reward’? Bianca Belair vs Carmella. They stood in the ring for the whole ad break then Carmella put her mask on to waste time. It still looks like a gimp mask. Carmella slapped Belair, then realised she’d done a stupid thing and ran. Of course, she attacked Belair as she chased her back into the ring, but turned her back and got caught. This character has diminished the credibility Carmella has worked so long for, to the extent, it was somewhat surprising she caused Belair so much trouble. The match still finished with a K.O.D. though.
♦ We got the second instalment of Alexa Bliss’ journey back to RAW. The therapist reminded her it wasn’t the real Lilly then gave her the doll. Bliss hugged her like the real one and cried.
♦ Chad Gable told Kevin Patrick he’s chosen a quiz bowl for the final challenge. That will be next week.
♦ AJ Styles vs Rey Mysterio – Elimination Chamber Qualifying Match – couldn’t possibly be anything other than great. They got the main event, but not the close of the show. Ronda Rousey got that, which is definitely the wrong way around. There was a lot of, if you can do this I can do that, which is so much fun to watch at the level of the legends.
Mysterio avoided a Styles Clash from the second rope to deliver a 619, but Styles dodged his frog splash and laid him out with a Pele kick. Styles rolled through Mysterio’s next frog splash and delivered the Styles Clash to secure the final place in the Elimination Chamber.
♦ Rowdy Ronda Rousey said she has unfinished business with both champions and she’s been debating who to pick since Saturday. She could pick ‘Rebecca’ but her attention is a compliment she doesn’t deserve and her stagnating title reign is not her problem. She could choose Charlotte, just to prove that Rebecca will know she’s still on her undercard. Then they’ll both know the baddest big-time bitch is her.
Becky Lynch came out and told Rousey she missed her. She said Rousey loses credibility when she talks about her being on her undercard when she’s the only one who’s been able to beat her and no one’s beaten her for the title since. The analogy she used was that Charlotte is the appetiser and she’s the main event. But when she goaded Rousey for an answer, Rousey threw her to the mat and said she’d have her answer on Friday.
Lynch went into a tirade about Rousey fearing her, which was interrupted by Lita.
Lita agreed Rousey was rude and they got into a nice exchange of compliments until Lita said the thing she admires most is that Lynch never backs down from a challenge. When Lynch asked what she was getting at, she asked for a match at Elimination Chamber. Lynch said no, but all it took was Lita telling her to just say if she was scared to change her mind.
Two days after Royal Rumble and the Elimination Chamber Match is already set up. Bobby Lashley vs Brock Lesnar vs Seth Rollins vs Riddle vs Austin Theory vs AJ Styles is a hell of a line-up. I’m into Becky Lynch vs Lita as well. It’s shaping up to be a solid show already, just a shame about its chosen location.