By Jason Powell, Prowrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
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WWE Raw Hits
Elias vs. Braun Strowman vs. John Cena in a Triple Threat: The match was enjoyable and Hit worthy, but there were some issues. Most notably, this felt like a wasted loss for Cena. As I noted in my live review, WWE should be more strategic with Cena’s losses. It should mean something when any wrestler beats him. His losses have become a little too casual to the point that those who beat him are not gaining much from it. Also, was there a good reason to put final entry during the Elimination Chamber match on the line? It came off like creative was trying to spice up a television main event more than anything. Ultimately, they picked the right guy of the three to enter the match last, but I’m just not sure what purpose this really served. Did anyone come away from the match looking at Elias as a more serious threat to win the Elimination Chamber match?
Sheamus and Cesaro vs. Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins for the Raw Tag Titles: A good match with a creative finish that appeared to write out Jason Jordan for the time being. Rollins was super over with his home state crowd, and it was comical to hear the crowd cheer when Reigns was added to the match then boo him just minutes later during his entrance. It will be interesting to see where Sheamus and Cesaro go next. Injuries have depleted the Raw tag division to the point that the only babyface teams are Apollo Crews and Titus O’Neil, and Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson. Will they put together another makeshift babyface tag team? Where does Rollins go from here now that both of his recent tag partners are out with injuries?
Roman Reigns vs. Bray Wyatt in an Elimination Chamber qualifier: It was refreshing to see WWE take a different approach with the opening segment. We didn’t get the usual 20-minute promo segment. Instead, we heard brief promos from both men to set up the match and then they went right to it. The match was laid out to make it seem like Wyatt was on the verge of winning several times, but it was impossible to buy into his near falls when everything continues to point toward Reigns challenging Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania.
Asuka vs. Bayley: A quality match with a very good near fall for Bayley off of Asuka’s attempt to apply the Asuka Lock. Asuka did a terrific job of selling how close the Bayley character came to winning by simply standing up and bulging her eyes to show shock over how close she came to losing. It is a little frightening to see WWE plow through some of Asuka’s bigger Raw matches by giving her back to back wins over Sasha Banks and Bayley and now booking her against Nia Jax at Elimination Chamber. Is this a sign that Asuka isn’t long for Raw or that she is staying while some of the women she is beating are Smackdown bound in the next shakeup? On a positive note, it was encouraging to see Sasha Banks continue to show more heel tendencies in that backstage segment with Bayley.
The Miz vs. Apollo Crews in an Elimination Chamber qualifier: Solid work from both wrestlers, though it was difficult to buy into the possibility of Crews winning. What did the Crews character actually do in singles competition to earn a spot in a qualifying match? In retrospect, it’s surprising that they didn’t book an upset in one of the qualifying matches since they are going with the second chance four-way next week.
Nia Jax vs. Vanessa Floyd: A simple yet effective showcase squash win for Jax.
WWE Raw Misses
Asuka storyline gap: Did I miss Asuka declaring that she would challenge for the Raw Women’s Championship at WrestleMania? It was left open last week, but this week it was announced that Jax will join Asuka in challenging for the Raw Women’s Championship in a Triple Threat at WrestleMania if Jax can beat Asuka at Elimination Chamber.
Finn Balor and Karl Anderson vs. The Revival: Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder boasted about being tag team specialists before the match, then turned around and lost to a makeshift tag team. I’m all for WWE doing more with Balor, but this win was more damaging to The Revival than it was helpful to him.
Cedric Alexander and Mustafa Ali vs. Tony Nese and Drew Gulak: It’s hard to make babyface stars when the heels have zero heat. Is there a rule that cruiserweight heels are only allowed to matter when they hold the WWE Cruiserweight Championship? Most of the cruiserweight heels continue to be treated like glorified enhancement talent and thus it means nothing when the babyfaces beat them. Most of them are so severely damaged that they would be wise to feature Hideo Itami as a heel and/or introduce new heels who can be positioned strong right out of the gate. It was nice to hear Drake Maverick on commentary and it’s also good that he spoke about his desire to make the division feel like the WWE Cruiserweight Classic. That line provided more hope that WWE is serious about addressing the many problems with the division.
Sonya Deville vs. Mickie James: It was nice to see the women get three matches in one night, but this was the most forgettable of the bunch. The purpose of the match was to put Mickie in a bad spot so that Alexa Bliss could come out and save her. The wrestler execution of this was fine, but it was embarrassing that the broadcast team had to act baffled as to why Bliss would save James. This is not the first time the Bliss character has tried to manipulate her way into gaining allies. The viewing audience is certainly aware of that and thus it made the broadcast team look really bad when they had to act clueless to her motivations.
Alexa Bliss and Kurt Angle: Speaking of playing dumb, does Kurt Angle always have to stand there and take it? It’s as if the legends hand over their brains and backbones when they sign on for the general manager responsibilities. Bliss attempted to manipulate her way out of the Elimination Chamber match by accusing Angle of being sexist. There were plenty of sufficient comebacks for the Angle character that would have worked here, but instead he had to stammer and act befuddled by the accusation. Angle’s character should have seen right through her antics and called her on it. Instead, I suspect Angle had to play it this way because they are setting up a moment for Stephanie McMahon to show up and put Bliss in her place.
Ronda Rousey: Remember her? WWE seemed to forget all about their big hire last night.
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The new edition of the Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features Ricky Starks on his NWA run, doing enhancement work for WWE, leaving NOLA due to Hurricane Katrina, the January 24 NWA Hard Times PPV on FITE.TV, his relationship with Nick Aldis, and much more...