WWE Raw Live TV Review: Finn Balor vs. Matt Hardy vs. Bray Wyatt vs. Apollo Crews vs. Seth Rollins in a five-way Elimination Chamber qualifying match, Sasha Banks vs. Bayley

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

WWE Raw on the USA Network
Aired live on February 12, 2018 from San Jose, California at SAP Center

[Q1] Michael Cole welcomed viewers to Raw and noted that they are on the road to WrestleMania. He was joined on commentary by Corey Graves and Jonathan Coachman…

John Cena made his entrance. The broadcast team recapped Elias beating Cena and Braun Strowman in a Triple Threat last week to earn a spot in the final pod that will open at Elimination Chamber. Cole said Elias is the Chamber favorite on paper. Um, sure.

Cena said the past is the past and it’s all about being here right now on Raw on the road to WrestleMania. He said fans, viewers, and the wrestlers understand the importance of WrestleMania. He said the event can bring a legend back from the dead and can be the most important moment in the life of a wrestler. He said we find out weekly who will get a chance to make a moment at WrestleMania.

Cena said he was there to face the truth. “In two weeks, I have to win the Elimination Chamber match,” Cena said. Fans booed. Cena said that if he doesn’t win the match for the first time in 15 years then he’s not sure he has a road to WrestleMania. Cena said he has to survive the most un-winnable match to earn a match against the most unbeatable champion in WWE history.

Cena said the fans know he loves making the impossible absolutely possible. “I will win the Elimination Chamber match,” Cena said. I will go on to make history against Brock Lesnar in the main event of WrestleMania.” There were far more boos than cheers.

The Miz made his entrance along with Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel. He said it’s not 2013, it’s 2018, which is his year. Miz accused spending too much time in Hollywood and getting caught up in fantasies. He said Cena started Suplex City. Miz said he will be the first person to hold the Intercontinental and Universal Championship. Cena pointed out that a fan in the front row was laughing at the notion.

Cena said Miz wouldn’t stand a chance against Lesnar and it would likely be his final match if it ever took place. Miz said he matches up better with Lesnar than Cena ever did. Miz said he uses his brain and wins by doing whatever it takes. “I do the things that other people won’t do,” Miz said. He said he crosses the line that Cena won’t cross. He boasted that he beat Roman Reigns to win the IC Title.

Miz pointed out that he outsmarted Cena in the main event of WrestleMania. Cena said he likes that Miz isn’t afraid to run his mouth and sometimes he even finds a weaselly way to back it up. Cena challenged The Miz to a match. The fans cheered. Cena said the loser of the match would be the first entrant in the match.

Miz asked why he should take that chance. Suddenly, Axel and Dallas attacked Cena. Miz asked the same question again and answered, “Because I’m smarter than you, challenge accepted.” Miz called for a referee.

Raw general manager Kurt Angle made his entrance onto the stage. Angle said he liked the stipulation of the match and said the match would happen. A referee ran past Angle, who then “eliminated” Axel and Dallas from ringside…

Powell’s POV: All of Cena’s talk about not having a path to WrestleMania without winning Elimination Chamber just doesn’t ring true. It would be so much better if he made it clear that he covets the Universal Championship and this is his only path toward challenging for that title at WrestleMania. Even the most naive Cena fans don’t believe he won’t have a WrestleMania match if he doesn’t win the Chamber. I did like that Cena proclaimed that he’s winning the match. That packs a punch coming from him in that he’s not someone who makes a lot of bold statements without backing them up. The match challenge was idiotic. Why wouldn’t Cena challenge Miz for his precious IC Title instead of putting himself in a match with no upside?

1. The Miz vs. John Cena to avoid being the first person to enter the Elimination Chamber match. Miz covered Cena to start the match, but Cena kicked out. Miz tried again and got the same result heading into a break.

[Q2] [C] Miz was still on the offensive coming out of the break. Cole pointed out that Cena has won three Chamber matches including one from the first position. Cena came back with a DDT for a two count. Miz regained control and had a chinlock applied heading into another break. [C]

Miz applied a figure four coming out of the break. Cena pushed Miz’s leg off of his own and then applied an STF, but Miz reached the ropes. Later, Miz charged at Cena in the corner, but Cena hoisted him up and performed an Attitude Adjustment for a near fall.

[Q3] Cena applied the STF and Miz once again reached the ropes. Miz performed the Skull Crushing Finale for another good near fall. Miz placed Cena on the top rope and set up for the Skull Crushing Finale, but Cena countered into a Super Attitude Adjustment and scored the pin. After the match, Cena went to ringside and visited with a special needs fan and presented him with his armband…

John Cena pinned The Miz in 19:10.

The broadcast team was interrupted by a “Woken” Matt Hardy video. He spoke about getting a second chance to enter the Elimination Chamber match. He said he would turn the match into the Deletion Chamber. Hardy did the Delete bit and they cut to various fans in the crowd doing it along with him… [C]

Powell’s POV: A better match than anticipated in terms of the length and both wrestlers taking the big match approach by kicking out of the other’s finisher. Miz lost the match, but kicking out of Cena’s finisher still means something and they are definitely making him more credible in the ring than they have in the past, which is a major plus. I’m not really sure why they want Miz in the Chamber match first when he’s already considered an underdog, but perhaps it plays into that. How silly will this match stipulation look in retrospect if Cena ends up being the second entrant and thus starts the match at the same time as Miz?

Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows cut a promo while a Nerd O Meter graphic appeared on the screen. They ended up calling The Revival nerds and the graphic exploded. Anderson and Gallows made their entrance and were attacked from behind by The Revival…

3. “The Revival” Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder vs. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson. Gallows worked over both Revival members to start the match. Dawson clipped the knee that Gallows sold after the pre-match attack. [C]

[Q4] Gallows made a hot tag to Anderson, who hit a nice kick on Wilder and knocked Dawson off the apron. Anderson performed a neckbreaker off the middle rope, which Cole referred to as a Blockbuster from the top rope. Oops. In the end, The Revival hit the Shatter Machine on Anderson for the win…

The Revival defeated Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows in 7:35.

The broadcast team put over The Revival’s win as big because, well, it happened on the Road to WrestleMania. Um, sure. They recapped last week’s angle involving Jason Jordan and Seth Rollins and the Raw Tag Title match. They described Jordan’s injury as being very serious. Angle was shown walking backstage and they said he would provide an update on Jordan after the break… [C]

Powell’s POV: I still can’t believe that Ogre from 1984’s “Revenge of the Nerds” is the inspiration for a tag team’s act in 2018. The only thing worse is the Smackdown graphic insanity making it’s way to Raw via their pre-match promo. Raw is desperate for a babyface tag team. It’s down to Anderson and Gallows, and Apollo Crews and Titus O’Neil at this point due to the injuries suffered by Dean Ambrose, Jeff Hardy, and now Jordan.

Angle stood in the ring and said he had mixed emotions. First, he announced that Ronda Rousey would sign her Raw contract at the Elimination Chamber. The reaction seemed more negative than positive. Angle quickly switched the focus to Jordan’s neck surgery and said that he will miss WrestleMania. There were some cheers and a minor Yes! chant.

Angle said he comes out calm and cool every week, but he can’t do it. As a father, he said that anyone who gets any kind of joy out of watching a wrestler suffer an injury and miss WrestleMania then they should be ashamed of themselves. He said Jordan may not be their favorite, but he’s a human being. He stumbled over his words a bit as he said he wished they would send him best wishes.

Seth Rollins made his entrance. Rollins entered the ring and said he’s sorry about Jordan. He said he was tough on him last week, but he’s a good kid and he’s in a tough spot. Rollins said he was WWE Champion a few years ago. He spoke about how he was on top of the world after cashing in his Money in the Bank contract, but then he had to forfeit the championship and miss WrestleMania due to blowing out his knee. Rollins brought up WrestleMania and noted that he doesn’t even have a match at Elimination Chamber.

[Q5] Angle said they could find him another partner. Rollins said thanks but no thanks. Rollins said Angle said he wanted him to be a big part of Raw. Rollins said he wants to be Raw. Rollins said he wants a shot at the WWE Universal Championship at WrestleMania. Rollins said the only way that can happen is if he’s in the Elimination Chamber match.

Angle said he couldn’t just cancel the four-way match. Rollins said he wants to earn a spot in the match. He asked Angle to change the four-way to a five-way with him in the match. The crowd was receptive. Angle teased that it wasn’t fair to the wrestlers in the four-way, then he polled the crowd and left it up to them. Angle announced it as a five-way match…

A Bray Wyatt promo aired about Rollins joining the match and how Matt Hardy is a sick man. He claimed he would win the match and then win the Chamber match for the second year in a row and go on to slay the best…

Sasha Banks made her entrance for the match with Bayley… [C]

Powell’s POV: The Rollins and Angle segment was nicely done. I like that Angle scolded fans who cheered Jordan missing the match. I also like the way Angle and Rollins both put over how heartbreaking it is for WWE wrestlers to miss WrestleMania, as it helps given even more prestige to the match.

The broadcast team noted that Banks and Bayley had been bickering on Twitter all week. Bayley made her entrance…

4. Sasha Banks vs. Bayley. Graves said sources told him that Banks requested the match take place in San Jose because she wants to steal the spotlight from Bayley in her hometown. Both women traded early two counts.

[Q6] Banks targeted a Bayley shoulder injury heading into a break. [C] Banks continued to attack the shoulder. Bayley cut her off with a nice clothesline. Later, Banks avoided an elbow drop from Bayley and applied the Bank Statement. Bayley broke it by reaching the ropes. In the end, Bayley performed the Bayley to Belly from the second rope and scored the clean pin…

Bayley pinned Sasha Banks in 12:05.

After the match, the women came face to face. Bayley shoved Banks out of the way and ended up being struck by Nia Jax, who showed up out of nowhere. Jax performed Samoan Drops on both women and left them lying. Charly Caruso interviewed Jax on the stage and asked why she got involved after a match that had nothing to do with her. She said Asuka beat both women and she destroyed them both in a matter of seconds. She said she is the only one who can end Asuka’s streak…

Powell’s POV: A good match. The broadcast team is really trying to make the match results seem important heading into the Chamber and WrestleMania. It doesn’t really ring true, but I like the effort. I also hope this is another step toward Banks turning heel. She’s been miscast for far too long. Meanwhile, Jax is getting better and more believable on the mic.

The broadcast team pimped WWE Network and the usual free trial for new subscribers and hyped the three previously advertised matches…

[Q7] Backstage, Roman Reigns cracked that Rollins worked his magic and got himself added to the four-way. Rollins asked if he was fearful of him getting into the Chamber match. Reigns said with a smile that he would eliminate him from the match just as he did from the Royal Rumble match. Rollins smiled and said it doesn’t have to be like that.

Sheamus and Cesaro showed up and said Rollins shouldn’t be worried about the Chamber since it would be another failed opportunity for him. Reigns asked what happened to Cesaro’s mouth (braces). He said Sheamus must not have got the memo, but he would later tonight… [C]

Powell’s POV: Right now there is a teenage Reigns fan with metal in his/her mouth in tears because he mocked Cesaro for wearing braces.

A recap of the Jax promo aired complete with the dorky Smackdown word graphics… The broadcast team set up a video package on Asuka being 240-0. The narrator stated that 34 women on four different continents and in 11 different countries had fallen to her during the 860-day run. It also noted that her NXT Women’s Championship reign would still be going had she not forfeited the belt once she was called up to the main roster…

Powell’s POV: A terrific video that was similar to the Royal Rumble numbers video. It effectively put over Asuka. The one thing I would have left out is that she’s only beaten 34 women in 240 matches because that part didn’t sound impressive. That said, this was a good piece of business.

Backstage, Renee Young interviewed Titus O’Neil, Apollo Crews, and Dana Brooke. Titus took the mic and dismissed Young. Titus asked Crews about his various opponents and Crews indicated he wasn’t fearful of any of them. Titus deemed him ready. Brooke, who had been writing on her notepad the entire time, said Crews can’t lose. Crews said he would take one small step for himself and one giant leap for Titus Worldwide…

Powell’s POV: This act does nothing for me. It’s just over the top silliness and I still have no idea why Dana Brooke was added as a bad Alexandra York knockoff.

Backstage, Mickie James asked Alexa Bliss why she helped her last week and why they were teaming together this week. Bliss said she asked for the match and she’s tired of the newbies thinking they run the place. James recalled the old woman jokes that Bliss told at her expense.

Bliss said she only said those things because she was jealous of her being a six-time champion and a mother. James asked her what she wanted. Bliss said that if Absolution works together in Elimination Chamber then they are screwed. Mickie said she appreciated what she did last week and they could team together on Raw, but she will come for her title at the Elimination Chamber…

[Q8] Absolution made their entrance. The broadcast team hyped their match with Bliss and James for after the break… [C] James and then Bliss made their entrances for the match…

5. Alexa Bliss and Mickie James vs. Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville (w/Paige). The heels isolated James. She went to make a tag, but Deville pulled Bliss off the apron. Rose followed up with her Bed Of Roses finisher. After the match, Bliss saved James from a beatdown…

Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville beat Alexa Bliss and Mickie James in 4:00.

Elias was shown walking backstage with his guitar. Graves mocked his shirt by comparing it to a grandmother’s bathrobe. Cole said Elias would be performing a new song called Elimination Chamber Blues… [C]

Powell’s POV: A good win for Absolution as they are trying to spotlight the possibility of Rose and Deville working together in the Elimination Chamber. Meanwhile, an ad for Smackdown focussed on Dolph Ziggler vacating the U.S. Title and walking out, so we’ll see if there’s any type of follow up to that angle when he returns to face Baron Corbin. Join Jake Barnett for Smackdown live coverage every Tuesday night at 7CT/8ET.

The broadcast team touted Philadelphia Eagles players wearing the replica WWE Championship belt they were presented by the company…

[Q9] Elias strummed his guitar in the ring while Cole referred to him as a modern day Bob Dylan. Isn’t Bob Dylan the modern day Bob Dylan? Anyway, Cole recapped Elias hitting Braun Strowman with a guitar last week.

Elias did his usual schtick inside the ring. He ripped San Jose by saying the best thing about it is that it’s an hour away from a real city like San Francisco. “Who am I kidding, every city in California is a toxic dump,” Elias cracked.

Elias boasted that he beat John Cena and Braun Strowman at the same time. He said that makes him the favorite to win the Chamber. Elias set up his new song by asking for silence. He sang a line and then stopped because the crowd was booing and threatened that he wouldn’t sing. He said his vocal chords were warmed up so he was going to sing. Elias sang about his Chamber opponents and said he wrote songs for Maryse, not for Miz.

Ring announcer JoJo interrupted by saying, “Ladies and gentlemen, Braun Strowman.” A shot aired of Strowman sitting on a stool on the stage with a mic in front of him. He pulled out a giant bass guitar and and played it poorly before signing about how Elias would get his hands before the song was over.

Strowman said he broke a string on his bass and so he couldn’t play it and there was only one thing left to do with it. Strowman walked to ringside. Elias tried to hit Strowman with his guitar, but Strowman caught him and knocked him down with a shot to the chest.

Strowman picked him up and powerslammed him. Elias crawled up the stage. Strowman followed with his giant bass guitar and looked to the crowd before slamming it over the back of Elias. Referees and trainers checked on Elias…

Powell’s POV: A fun segment. I’m sure this won’t be for everyone and there will be questions about whether this is the right approach to take with Strowman’s character. There’s only so much grunting giant stuff they can do with him before that will run its course, so I like that he showed a little more personality here. In fact, he also showed a different side of his personality on the Mixed Match Challenge recently and that was well received by the fans, so I wonder if that inspired this in any way.

Cole hyped the five-way match for later in the show and they cut to a selfie style Finn Balor promo. Balor said he doesn’t care what any of his opponents want, he only cares about making the most of his second chance and going on to winning the Elimination Chamber match. He said that would put him one step closer to getting what he wants, what he never lost, the Universal Championship…

Sheamus made his entrance along with Cesaro for a match with Roman Reigns…

[Q10] [C] Reigns made his entrance to more boos than cheers…

6. Roman Reigns vs. Sheamus (w/Cesaro). Reigns hit Sheamus with an early clothesline. Sheamus rolled to ringside and sold it briefly. He returned to the ring only to be dumped back to ringside again. Reigns followed and whipped him into the barricade. Sheamus performed a rolling senton at ringside heading into the break. [C]

[Q11] Reigns sold leg and back pain after breaking a cloverleaf. Reigns went for a Superman Punch, but Sheamus caught him and performed White Noise for a two count. Sheamus went for a Brogue Kick, but Reigns hit him with a Superman Punch and got a two count. Reigns caught Sheamus with a sit-out powerbomb for another two count.

Sheamus hit Reigns with a nice knee to the face and got a near fall. Sheamus screamed out in frustration over not being able to get the three count. Sheamus rolled Reigns to ringside where Reigns took out Cesaro. Back inside the ring, Sheamus went up top and went for a move, but Reigns speared him on the way down and pinned him…

Roman Reigns pinned Sheamus in 14:25.

Cole asked Graves and Coachman could feel it, then noted that they were on the road to WrestleMania. Cole set up the WWE Hall of Fame video for the newest inductee Ivory. Molly Holly said Ivory did the prudish character in Right To Censor better than anyone on the planet. The video also showed her facing Chyna at WrestleMania… The broadcast team hyped the five-way main event… [C]

Powell’s POV: A good match from Sheamus and Reigns. The outcome was never in doubt for viewers over age ten, but both guys worked really hard to have a good competitive match. Meanwhile, the HOF video touched on Ivory’s run in GLOW for a few seconds at the beginning before moving into her WWE run. You’d think WWE would want to tie this in with the GLOW series on Netflix, which shouldn’t be too hard since I’m sure the show producers would be cool with the easy publicity.

Cole and a graphic hyped Ronda Rousey signing her Raw contract at Elimination Chamber…

Powell’s POV: I can’t believe I forgot to touch on this earlier. Actually, I can because the announcement was so quick and uninspired. No one should be surprised that Rousey will technically be a Raw wrestler, but it’s odd that they didn’t have Angle make a bigger fuss over it.

[Q12] Ring entrances for the main event took place. Balor was the last man out… [C]

7. Seth Rollins vs. Finn Balor vs. Matt Hardy vs. Bray Wyatt vs. Apollo Crews (w/Titus O’Neil) in a five-way Elimination Chamber qualifying match. Dana Brooke did not accompany Crews to ringside. The match was joined in progress. It was rapid fire to start with everyone getting in some offense and taking some offense. Rollins got a couple of early two counts on Wyatt. Wyatt had a run of offense on various opponents and got a two count on Crews heading into a break. [C]

[Overrun] Hardy and Wyatt had a moment after the break. Hardy set up for a Twist of Fate on Wyatt, but Rollins broke it up. Rollins picked up a two count on Crews following a falcon arrow. Wyatt turned Rollins inside out with a clothesline for a two count.

Hardy had Wyatt pinned, but Balor broke it up with a Coup de Grace. Rollins stomped Balor and had him pinned, but Crews broke it up. Fans chanted “this is awesome” as there was a rare moment with all the wrestlers down. Crews hit a standing moonsault on Rollins for a nice near fall.

Hardy caught Crews on the ropes. Wyatt pulled Hardy to ringside and put him down with Sister Abigail. There was a tower of doom spot with Wyatt being powerbombed by Rollins and Balor, while Crews was suplexed by Wyatt. Crews ended up outside the ring while Rollins and Balor both pinned Wyatt. They bickered about who won the match. Cole questioned which man would enter the Elimination Chamber match…

Seth Rollins and Finn Balor scored a simultaneous pin to win a five-way over Bray Wyatt, Matt Hardy, and Apollo Crews in 16:20 of television time.

Powell’s POV: A well worked, fast paced match without any dull moments. It felt like a two-man match in that it was hard to believe anyone other than Rollins or Balor would win, but I honestly didn’t see the double pin coming. It doesn’t make for a great conclusion this week, but it sets the stage for a likely match between them next week. Everyone in the match had plenty of moments to shine. Crews received plenty of love down the stretch and it’s sad to think that he’ll likely go right back in Titus Worldwide silliness next week.

Did anyone else notice that the cruiserweights were missing from this episode of Raw? There was a time (heck, just a few weeks ago) when that wouldn’t have bothered me in the least, but they are finally doing more with 205 Live and this is the week they choose to ignore them? Strange.

Thanks for following along with me tonight. I will be by later this evening with plenty of bonus Raw thoughts in my member exclusive audio review. One more big thanks to everyone for the support. We celebrated ten years in business yesterday and I’m truly grateful for your support.

Readers Comments (7)

  1. “It’s just over the top silliness and I still have no idea why Dana Brooke was added as a bad Alexandra York knockoff.”

    They’re as big as your head, and Vinny Mac is still more about that kind of women’s evolution than anything else.

  2. The Good: Sonya Deville (and Mandy)getting a clean decisive win….Bayley’s Buddies returned!!…Nia Jax getting love from the crowd….Braun Strowman adding more layers to his character…Finn Balor in the main event.

    The Bad: Paige can’t wrestle…Sheamus can’t win a singles match…The other four guys didn’t express frustration that Seth could get in after one match when this was their second…The Good Brothers can’t get over which is a shame…Powell doesn’t like Titus Worldwide

    The Ugly: Miz proclaiming he was a smarter wrestler than Cena then proceed to put himself in the position for the Super Attitude Adjustment he saw Cena hit Balor with just TWO WEEKS BEFORE!! Yeah Miz is a genius alright.

  3. The WWE app has an article under the RAW results that said Angle put both Rollins and Balor into the Chamber to make it the first ever 7 man Elimination Chamber.

  4. “and I still have no idea why Dana Brooke was added as a bad Alexandra York knockoff.”

    – They had nothing else for her and they’re giving this a go. The reaction when she came down the ramp with Titus and Crews the other week and did the pose with them was pretty big, so why not? It also helps Titus and Crews to have another person in “Titus Worldwide” again so that it feels bigger than just one tag team. A lot of tag teams are improved by having a 3rd person involved…

    Also Terri Runnels actually gave the whole thing her blessing on Reddit, so if the original Alexandra York is a fan, who are we to call it a bad knockoff?

    “Did anyone else notice that the cruiserweights were missing from this episode of Raw?”
    – Using 10 minutes of Raw every week to promote 205 Live with a meaningless tag match was never a good use of time. 205 Live can stand or fall on its own feet, they can use Raw time when have a particularly good showcase match they want to put out there or an interesting storyline to suck viewers in, but meaningless cruiserweight tags have just been death.

  5. I cannot believe they gave away the match between Sasha Banks and Bailey on Raw instead of building it up more and having it as a Wrestle mania match. I sure hope Banks turns heel soon.

  6. I like seeing Dana Brooke with Titus Worldwide too, because it at least keeps her on television. The whole Titus Worldwide acts feels a little similar to the old, face-painted Uso gimmick to me. There’s maybe some talent there, and if WWE would script them a bit less and take the reigns off, they might be more?

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