WWE Raw Live TV Review: Three Elimination Chamber qualifying matches, The Miz vs. Roman Reigns for the Intercontinental Title, the night after the Royal Rumble

By Jason Powell, Prowrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)

WWE Raw on the USA Network
Aired live on January 29, 2018 from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at Wells Fargo Center

[Q1] Raw opened with a montage touting the appearance of Ronda Rousey at the Royal Rumble… Michael Cole, Corey Graves, and Jonathan Coachman were on commentary. Graves said Booker T did a great job of filling in and would resume his duties as a Kickoff Show panelist…

Powell’s POV: WWE is debuting some new graphics on the show. Dot Net reader Tyler England is in attendance and noted that there is also a new theme song, but they didn’t air the opening this week.

Stephanie McMahon made her entrance and said Sunday was historic. She also recalled Raw 25 and said they were kicking off 25 more years. Stephanie ran through some of the highlights of the Royal Rumble and said the game was on afterward via the debut of Ronda Rousey. “That was last night,” she said. “Tonight is about the winner of the historic Royal Rumble match.”

Stephanie delivered a big buildup and then Asuka made her entrance. Stephanie said she would normally ask Asuka which champion she would like to face, but she added that Asuka may want to wait. Stephanie said Alexa Bliss may not be champion by the time WrestleMania gets here because she will defend her championship in the first women’s Elimination Chamber match.

Asuka spoke to the crowd in Japanese and then pointed at the WrestleMania sign. “Now that I understand,” Stephanie said. Asuka declared that she will become the champion at WrestleMania “because no one is ready for Asuka.”

Sasha Banks made her entrance. Graves accused Banks of being a habitual spotlight stealer. Banks said she proved at the Rumble that she can go the distance and added that she’s ready for Asuka. Stephanie booked Banks vs. Asuka for later in the show. Asuka and Banks jawed at one another…

The broadcast team hyped the three Elimination Chamber match qualifiers – Braun Strowman vs. Kane in a Last Man Standing match, Matt Hardy vs. Elias, and John Cena vs. Finn Balor…

Braun Strowman made his entrance. He reached under the ring and pulled out various weapons heading into the commercial break…

Powell’s POV: A strong start to the show with the graphics providing a fresh coat of paint and the overdue broadcast team shakeup. We’ll see how Coachman does, but Booker T was counterproductive too often. Stephanie McMahon was good in her role. She put over the women in the match and Asuka nicely, and the Banks vs. Asuka match feels big time. Furthermore, Strowman coming out and teasing carnage is always a great hook.

[Q2] [C] 1. Braun Strowman vs. Kane in a Last Man Standing match qualifier for the Elimination Chamber match. The match was joined in progress with Strowman and Kane brawling at ringside. They fought there way up to the stage in front of the broadcast team, which headed for the hills to avoid the action, leaving no commentary. Strowman pushed the broadcast on top of Kane. Maybe he’s a Booker T guy? The referee called for the bell.

Braun Strowman beat Kane via ref stoppage in a Last Man Standing match to qualify for the Elimination Chamber match.

After the match, producers Adam Pearce, Jamie Noble, and other agents ran out and called for help. EMTs came out with a stretcher. Meanwhile, Corey Graves approached Strowman on the stage. “That’s a human being, what did you just do?” Graves asked. Strowman said he did his job. “Kurt Angle said last man standing?” Strowman asked. “Well, that’s what I did.”

Powell’s POV: The crowd reacted favorably to what appeared to be a very safe spot since Kane wasn’t actually struck by the table. With the loss to Lesnar on Sunday and now this lopsided match angle, I wonder if Kane is going away again. I hope Kane at least works WrestleMania before he heads off to run for mayor. At age 50, there’s no telling how many more opportunities there will be for him at WrestleMania.

Cole, Graves, and Coachman stood over where their broadcast table normally sits and set up a replay of the angle with Strowman and Kane. Cole said Kane was taken to a local medical facility. Cole said Kane is having trouble breathing, which could indicate any number of things. Graves said being that close to Strowman was terrifying for him. They cut backstage where EMTs were leading Kane to an ambulance via his stretcher.

[Q3] Cole said Strowman had crossed the line again. They cut backstage to a shot of Strowman walking. Kurt Angle vented that he did this on a night when the whole world is watching. “Can you give me a break?” Angle pleaded. Strowman said Angle is lucky he didn’t do more since Angle said it was last man standing. Strowman said he would be the last man standing over Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania…

Powell’s POV: It may seem like a little thing, I love that they didn’t just move on from the Strowman attack on Kane coming out of the break. They made the attack feel more significant by simply following up on it.

Elias played his guitar in the ring and did his usual introduction. Elias sang a song about being on the road to WrestleMania, winning the Elimination Chamber, and how it was his night. “Woken” Matt Hardy’s entrance theme interrupted Elias and he made his entrance for their match… [C] Royal Rumble still shots aired…

2. Elias vs. “Woken” Matt Hardy in an Elimination Chamber qualifier. The production staff set up a broadcast table at ringside during the match. Elias wrenched the left arm of Hardy around the ring post heading into the break roughly four minutes into the match.

[Q4] [C] Cole and company were shown sitting at ringside while the production staff continues to assemble their new table beside them. Hardy came back and performed a Side Effect for a two count. Bray Wyatt’s video flashed and distracted Hardy long enough for Elias to hit him with a big boot. Elias followed up with Drift Away for the win…

Elias beat Matt Hardy in 9:45 to qualify for the Elimination Chamber match.

After the match, a laughing Bray Wyatt appeared on the big screen. Wyatt laughed uproariously while Hardy watched from the ring…

They cut to a Miz selfie style promo. Miz said Reigns is supposedly owed a rematch. Miz said he is owed silence when he raises the mic and a standing ovation when he retains the title, much like the one Tom Brady will get when he beats the Philadelphia Eagles… Graves hyped the IC Title match for after the break… [C]

Powell’s POV: Hardy was somewhat protected via the distraction finish and they kept his feud with Wyatt going. I’m happy to see Elias in the Elimination Chamber match, as he continues to impress and has been a pleasant surprise on the main roster. Meanwhile, I was hoping the awful selfie style promos were just a Royal Rumble thing, but it looks like they are sticking around.

A Mixed Match Challenge ad aired with Sami Zayn and Becky Lynch saying they would burn Braun Strowman and Alexa Bliss. They cut to Strowman and Bliss. Bliss said they would extinguish their fire…

The broadcast team were at their newly assembled table. Their original table was shown on its side next to the stage… Ring entrances for the IC Title match took place. Reigns was booed loudly again…

[Q5] 3. The Miz (w/Bo Dallas, Curtis Axel) vs. Roman Reigns for the Intercontinental Championship. Cole and Graves noted that Reigns eliminated four men from the Rumble match, including Seth Rollins. JoJo delivered in-ring introductions for the title match. Reigns was dominant to start. He picked up a chair and scared Dallas and Axel into running backstage. Reigns teased hitting Miz with the chair, but the referee warned him and he dropped the chair. Miz ran Reigns into the post heading into a break. [C]

Miz threw his kicks. Reigns caught his leg and powered him up, but Miz escaped and applied a figure four. Reigns rolled it over and Miz teased tapping before he reached the ropes to break the hold.

[Q6] Reigns powerbombed Miz for a two count. The referee caught Miz attempting to remove the middle turnbuckle pad. Reigns approached Miz in the corner and the ref got between them, allowing Miz to thumb Reigns in the eye. Miz hit the Skull Crushing Finale for a good near fall. Reigns came back with a Superman Punch for a two count at 16:15.

Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas returned. Axel bickered with the referee while Dallas pulled Miz to ringside. Reigns punched both minions and then struck Miz before tossing him back inside the ring. Dallas tried to attack Reigns from behind, but Reigns ended up bringing him inside the ring. Reigns punched Axel off the apron and speared Dallas, but Miz rolled up Reigns and pinned him…

The Miz pinned Roman Reigns in 18:10 to retain the Intercontinental Championship.

Powell’s POV: A good match. I started off a little bored by the idea of seeing yet another match between these two, but they won me over. I assume this paves the way for Reigns to enter an Elimination Chamber match qualifier next week. Reigns sold his knee after the match so we’ll see if he continues to sell that going forward or if it’s just an injury for the night.

The broadcast team recapped the Strowman and Kane angle. They showed the carnage that was still left by the stage. They shifted the focus to the Elimination Chamber and read a tweet from Paul Heyman, who praised Angle for the idea but said the winner will be tasked with the clear and present danger of facing Lesnar. Graves hyped John Cena vs. Finn Balor in a qualifier, and Coachman hyped Asuka vs. Banks…

The Revival made their entrance for a match. An ad for Smackdown hyped that the show will open with Royal Rumble winner Shinsuke Nakamura… [C]

4. “The Revival” Dash Wilder and Scott Dawson vs. Rhyno and Heath Slater. The match was joined in progress.

[Q7] Dawson chop blocked the knee of Rhyno and then he and Wilder hit the Shatter Machine for the win. Coachman said the Revival know how to push the rules without getting disqualified. He predicted that 2018 is the year of the Revival…

The Revival beat Rhyno and Heath Slater.

After the match, Charly Caruso interviewed The Revival in the ring. Dawson boasted that they beat the first Smackdown Tag Champions. He asked how they compare to the Graham Brothers. Caruso admitted she wasn’t familiar with them. Wilder said she was just like the fans who are too concerned with chanting ECW. Wilder said he and Dawson learn from the past, but the fans are too busy living in it…

Asuka was shown shadow boxing backstage while Cole hyped her match with Banks. Graves hyped Sheamus and Cesaro vs. Titus O’Neil and Apollo Crews for the Raw Tag Titles for later in the show… [C]

Powell’s POV: The Revival (or someone on the creative team) is probably well aware that Vince McMahon grew up idolizing Dr. Jerry Graham. It’s nice to see The Revival getting wins. It’s just a shame that there are no obvious babyface teams for them to face in a real feud on Raw these days.

The WrestleMania video aired. We are 69 days away… The broadcast team set up the WWE Hall of Fame video package for new entrants Bubba Ray and D-Von Dudley…

Finn Balor, Luke Gallows, and Karl Anderson delivered selfie style promo with Balor boasting about being in the Rumble for 57 minutes and 38 seconds. Balor said the promise of the title shot kept him fighting until John Cena took it away. He said he’s not going to just step up to Cena, he’s going to step over him…

Renee Young interviewed Sasha Banks in the Gorilla position area and noted that she was in the Rumble match for 54 minutes and 46 seconds. Banks said they were moments away from her defeating the undefeated Asuka. Banks said she’s been waiting for this moment for a long time because Asuka was unbeaten for over two years. She said Asuka made history last night, but now it’s her turn. Banks made her entrance…

[Q8] [C] A collection of Rumble still shots were shown… Asuka made her entrance…

5. Asuka vs. Sasha Banks. Asuka got the better of Banks for a stretch, but Banks came back with a kick and a double knee press for a two count heading into a break. [C] Banks remained in offensive control and the crowd remained quiet coming out of the break. Banks got cocky and mocked Asuka’s dancing and slapped her a couple times.

[Q9] Asuka got upset, but Banks applied the Bank Statement. Asuka countered into a pin for a two count. Asuka performed a back slide for a one count, then Banks reapplied her finisher. Asuka reached the ropes to break it and ended up at ringside.

Banks went for a suicide dive and ended up eating a kick to the face. They turned to the ring and traded punches. Asuka performed a GTS like move and threw several strikes. Later, Asuka took a tumble to ringside when Banks avoided her “hip attack” move. Banks performed the double knee press off the apron.

Back in the ring, Banks hit another double knee press for a two count. Banks applied the Bank Statement, but Asuka reached the ropes. Asuka countered into an Asuka Lock and got the submission win…

Asuka defeated Sasha Banks in 14:35.

Powell’s POV: The live crowd picked a strange time to get quiet. They warmed up to the match down the stretch, but they were very quiet early on. Perhaps because it was a battle of two babyfaces and they simply didn’t pick sides? Banks was lucky to get up after that suicide dive spot. Her feet hit the ropes as she was going through them and she landed awkwardly. It looked like her waist and thighs hit the edge of the apron after that and actually saved her from taking a face plant or worse.

A John Cena selfie style video aired. He said they are on the Road to WrestleMania, but only Asuka and Shinsuke Nakamura know exactly how they are going to get there. Cena said the rest of WWE are asking hw to get there. Cena said he let it slip through his fingers last week, but now he has a chance to get into the Elimination Chamber and then get to WrestleMania. Cena said he keeps hearing the question of when he’ll be done. He said it’s time for people to realize that he’s just getting started…

Titus O’Neil, Apollo Crews, and Dana Brooke were shown pumping themselves up while walking backstage… [C]

[Q10] 6. Sheamus and Cesaro vs. Titus O’Neil and Apollo Crews (w/Dana Brooke) for the Raw Tag Titles. Cole noted that tickets for SummerSlam go on sale this weekend. JoJo delivered in-ring introductions for the title match. The champions had offensive control heading into the break. [C]

There was a brutal spot where Cesaro popped up Crews into a powerbomb from Sheamus that went wrong. Somehow, Crews popped up and continued the match. Crews threw a high kick and performed a standing moonsault on Sheamus. A short time later, Sheamus and Cesaro performed the finisher on Crews for the win…

Sheamus and Cesaro beat Titus O’Neil and Apollo Crews in 11:30 to retain the Raw Tag Titles.

Powell’s POV: Cole is labelling it a “hard hitting night” on Raw when it’s actually a night of wrestlers dodging bullets. That Crews spot was dangerous and one can only hope that he’ll still be fine once the adrenaline wears off. Putting that aside, the crowd was once again quiet. The two weeks of oddball Titus Worldwide wins didn’t seem to convince anyone that they would beat Sheamus and Cesaro when the tag titles were on the line.

[Q11] The broadcast team hyped a look at Ronda Rousey’s appearance at the Royal Rumble for after the break… [C] The broadcast team set up a recap of Asuka winning the Royal Rumble followed Rousey crashing the party…

Coachman said he’s been in attendance or live on SportsCenter for Rousey’s last five fights. He said it’s not just a game changer for the women’s division, it’s a game changer for WWE…

Cole shifted the focus to Alexa Bliss defending the Raw Women’s Championship in the first women’s Elimination Chamber match. They read a tweet from Bliss, who expressed confidence in going to WrestleMania as champion. The broadcast team also recapped the Strowman and Kane angle. Cole said the update on Kane is that Kane sat up and then crawled out of the hospital and dragged himself to his feet and left the building…

Finn Balor made his entrance… [C] More Royal Rumble still shots aired… Cole hyped 205 Live and the reveal of the new general manager. They listed tweets from the wrestlers in the division regarding the GM spot… John Cena made his entrance…

7. John Cena vs. Finn Balor in an Elimination Chamber match qualifier. The broadcast team noted that it was the first time Cena and Balor had faced one another. The fans became distracted, presumably by a beachball if history is any indication. The fans chanted “asshole” at someone. [C]

Cena threw Balor into the corners aggressively twice. The fans booed. Cena looked at the fans and shook his head and held his hands up. Coachman said there’s a time to have fun and a time to get serious, and Cena just got serious. Balor came back with a standing double stomp.

[Overrun] Balor avoided a Five Knuckle Shuffle. Balor stood and mocked Cena with his “you can’t see me” gesture. Cena swung at him. Balor ducked and Balor put him down for a two count. Cole said Balor is learning what it’s like to be in the ring with the greatest of all time.

Cena and Balor traded punches with the fans booing Cena and cheering Balor. Cena went for an Attitude Adjustment, but Balor landed on his feet and connected with a kick. Cena came back with a clothesline.

Cena caught Balor going for a sling blade clothesline. Cena powered him up and performed the Attitude Adjustment, but Balor kicked out at two. Cena went to the apron and was booed. He told the broadcast team that he was just trying to go to WrestleMania. A short time later, Cena applied the STF. Balor reached the ropes. Balor went to the ropes, but Cena cut him off and performed an AA from the middle rope and scored the clean pin…

John Cena beat Finn Balor in 17:45 to qualify for the Elimination Chamber match.

A graphic showed Braun Strowman, Elias, and John Cena as three of the six Elimination Chamber match entrants. Cole said there would be more qualifiers next week. Coachman said it was unfortunate that Balor went as far as he could go during the match, but he will not be in the Chamber match. Coachman said he deserved it. Graves pointed out that it also meant the Balor would not be in the WrestleMania main event. Cole said Balor had proven himself in the Rumble and in this match, but he was in there with the greatest of all time…

Powell’s POV: A good match, though not particularly memorable despite this being the first match for Cena and Balor. It was fine, yet it’s nothing that people will be buzzing about when they look back on Royal Rumble weekend. Overall, Raw and the crowd’s enthusiasm seemed to peak during the first couple hours of the show. The fans seemed drained or were simply uninspired by what they were seeing despite the fact that WWE gave away some bigger matchups. It was definitely disappointing that Ronda Rousey did not appear, though she was never advertised. A “full-time” job that will let you start one day and then let you take the next day off? That’s a great gig if you can get it.

Check out our ad on the main page to find out how can join us on the ad-free website and mobile website for just $1.50 for one month and save big on our longer subscription options, including our new three-month plan. The members are listening to my NXT Takeover audio review from Saturday, as well as the 90-minute audio review of the Royal Rumble that Jake Barnett and I recorded on Sunday. They will also hear my Raw review later tonight and my Smackdown audio review on Tuesday night.


Readers Comments (4)

  1. I like they let asuka shine as the winner of the rumble unlike last night when they made it more about rousey although she wasn’t even in the match.

  2. No Sonya DeVille? What a waste…..

  3. Hi Jason, regarding Ms. Rousey, am I the only one holding out hope that she appears on Smackdown instead? I know WWE insists on doing everything they can to make Smackdown inferior, but it would possibly make more sense as Charlotte doesn’t have a clear challenger and Asuka is clearly out on her own as a challenger on Raw.

    • Lots of speculation that it might be a mixed tag match involving Triple H and Steph on the other side. If so, she’s on Raw. If she faces Charlotte, then my guess is they’d find a way to have her do both. They will want her on Raw too. They will always see it as the A show.

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