By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw on the USA Network
Aired live on February 11, 2019 from Grand Rapids, Michigan at Van Andel Arena
[Hour One] Triple H and Stephanie McMahon were in the ring and were introduced by the ring announcer. The broadcast team was Michael Cole, Corey Graves, and Renee Young. Stephanie misspoke while trying to say Elimination Chamber pay-per-view. “Let me try that again,” she said before getting it right.
Hunter and Stephanie ran through the Elimination Chamber matches. Hunter noted that if Ronda Rousey successfully defends the Raw Women’s Championship against Ruby Riott, she will go on to defend the championship against Becky Lynch at WrestleMania. Hunter then noted that was the plan, and set up a recap video of last week’s Lynch and Stephanie angle from Raw, and the Lynch and Hunter angle from Smackdown.
Stephanie said that in spite of what happened last week, they were still going to do what’s best for business by giving the fans what they want. Steph said Lynch met with her doctors and was about to introduce her. Lynch’s music played and she headed to the ring. Lynch said it was nice to be there and it was nice to see Hunter and Steph looking so well. She noted that the swelling had gone down on Steph’s face. “I’ll hit you harder next time,” Lynch said.
Hunter said they wanted to put their differences aside. He apologized for what he said to her on Smackdown last week. He noted that Lynch saw her own doctors, who conferred with WWE doctors, and she didn’t suffer a major injury. Hunter said she would be okay after a couple weeks of therapy. Hunter said Rousey vs. Lynch is on for WrestleMania. Lynch smiled. Stephanie hyped up the match and then said the match would happen only if Lynch would do one thing. Lynch said she knew there would be a catch.
Hunter said the suspension is lifted and the match is on. “All you have to do is apologize,” he said. Hunter asked for her to apologize to both of them and then they could put it all behind them. Stephanie noted that they apologized to her. She added that Lynch punched her and slapped her husband and they are merely asking her to apologize. Lynch said they wanted her to go to a doctor and she went to a doctor. Stephanie told her not to be stubborn. Lynch told Stephanie to shut her face. She said she doesn’t trust them or “your old man” and noted that they’ve been screwing people for decades. Lynch said nobody will steal her opportunity and she will fight either one of them or “your old man if it comes down to it, but apologize, no.”
Lynch looked at Triple H and said, “Take your apology and shove it up your ass.” Lynch walked around Hunter and was going to leave the ring. Stephanie got in Lynch’s path and they bickered until Triple H told them to calm down. He said this isn’t a hill Lynch wants to die on. He asked if Lynch wants to “fight here or fight at WrestleMania.” Hunter said he was giving her a choice, but he wanted his answer by the end of the night…
Sasha Banks and Bayley made their entrance and a pre-taped promo aired with the two of them talking about becoming the first women’s tag team champions… [C]
Powell’s POV: I normally watch the show via DirecTV, but the weather in Minnesota has knocked out my signal for certain channels including USA Network, so I’m watching the show from the USA website. The point is forgive me if there are a couple of glitches tonight. With that out of the way, I liked the opening segment for the most part. Everyone played their parts well. The only problem is that Lynch comes off a bit paranoid and unreasonable when Hunter and Steph apologized and simply asked her to do the same. It may go against her character to apologize, but I wouldn’t put her in this position where she looks a bit petty. It’s not like her character has past issues with Hunter and Steph that justify her not wanting to apologize to them.
1. Sasha Banks and Bayley vs. Nia Jax and Tamina vs. Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan (w/Ruby Riott) – the losing team starts first in the Elimination Chamber match. Cole noted that there will be a match on Smackdown that will determine which team from that brand will join the losers of this match in starting the Chamber match on Sunday. Riott ran Banks into the barricade, then Logan caught her with a running knee heading into a break [C]
A couple of referees and three trainers escorted Banks to the back. Tamina went for a top rope splash on Logan, who put her knees up. Tamina ended up in Bayley’s corner and she tagged herself into the match. Bayley went on an offensive flurry and worked over her opponents in and around the ring. Bayley performed a top rope elbow on Morgan, but Logan broke up the pin. A short time later, Bayley hit the Bayley to Belly on Morgan, but Tamina kicked her in the head before she could get the pin. Tamina dragged Morgan to her corner and Jax tagged in. Jax performed a Samoan Drop on Bayley and pinned her, meaning Bayley and Banks will be the first entrants in the Chamber match…
Nia Jax and Tamina defeated Bayley & Sasha Banks and Liv Morgan & Sarah Logan in 14:40.
The broadcast team hyped the Chamber and WWE Network. They also questioned whether Lynch would apologize, hyped Finn Balor vs. Drew McIntyre for later in the show, and Seth Rollins appearing. Lynch was shown walking backstage and she crossed paths with Elias, who was tuning his guitar… [C]
Powell’s POV: A good match down the stretch with Bayley getting the crowd behind her only to have the heels cut her off. They have done a good job of betting the fans behind Bayley going into the title match with her spirited performances despite being shorthanded due to Banks being taken out. They could easily spin this into Bayley doing something similar on Sunday only to have Sasha turn on her if they come up short.
Elias was introduced in the ring. Becky Lynch was shown on the big screen and they cut backstage to where Finn Balor was telling her not to let her pride get the better of her. He said he wants to slap Bobby Lashley and Lio Rush when they run their mouths, but it’s better to bide his time and take the title. She asked if that meant he thought she should apologize. He said he wasn’t going to tell her what to do.
The ring announcer introduced Elias again, but he was interrupted by a Seth Rollins video package. Cole hyped Rollins appearing later in the show.
Elias was introduced again and started to greet the fans, but he was interrupted by the Lucha House Party entrance music. Cole said LHP “loves to have fun.” Ugh. Kalisto, Lince Dorado, and Gran Metalik came to to the ring and danced around with their party favors while Elias was still in the ring… [C]
Powell’s POV: I love to have fun too. And my idea of fun would be Elias beating all the three LHP members senseless with his guitar. I really don’t want to feel that way because I think highly of all three LHP members, but the silliness of their act combined with crap like Cole telling us they love to have fun makes them a huge turnoff.
Elias barked for the LHP music to stop. He told the trio that he is the biggest musical act on the face of the planet and he gets interrupted repeatedly. He complained that his album was not nominated for a Grammy. Kalisto said LHP loves entertaining the WWE Universe. Kalisto said they decided that tonight they want to walk with Elias. The trio stood by while Elias started to play a song heeling on the host city.
Once he was finished, Elias asked LHP what they thought. LHP gave him the thumbs down. He asked if they could do better than him. “I got this,” Kalisto said. Kalisto sat down on Elias’s stool and played his guitar briefly. Elias said it was pretty good and asked if Kalisto wanted to do a duet with him. Elias grabbed another guitar and slammed it over the back of Kalisto, then raced out of the ring.
Powell’s POV: One down, two to go.
Bobby Lashley’s music played and he headed out with Lio Rush. Cole said Lashley was coming out for to watch Balor vs. McIntyre… [C] A Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville pre-tape promo aired about their history and their goal of becoming the first women’s tag team champions.
[Hour Two] Finn Balor and Drew McIntyre made their entrances…
2. Finn Balor vs. Drew McIntyre. Lashley and Rush were at ringside, and their handicap IC Title defense against Balor was hyped for the Chamber event. Rush and Balor interfered a couple of times. Balor kicked Rush. Balor had McIntyre down and went up top for his finisher, but Lashley shoved Balor off the top rope for the DQ.
Finn Balor defeated Drew McIntyre by DQ in 3:00.
After the match, Lashley worked over Balor while McIntyre pulled the ring steps apart. Kurt Angle came out and made the save and beat up all three heels. Angle had Rush in an ankle lock when Baron Corbin entered the ring and hit him from behind. Braun Strowman’s music hit and he headed to the ring. Strowman roughed up McIntyre and Lashley, then set up for a powerslam on Corbin, only to have McIntyre pull Corbin to ringside… [C]
Powell’s POV: A good segment that presumably sets up a six-man tag match coming out of the break.
3. Braun Strowman, Kurt Angle, and Finn Balor vs. Drew McIntyre, Baron Corbin, and Bobby Lashley (w/Lio Rush). The match was joined in progress coming out of the break. Graves stated that he’s a big fan of Brock Lesnar during the match. Young asked where Lesnar was. “Doing champion things,” Graves replied. After a few moments, he added that Lesnar was probably somewhere counting his money. McIntyre dumped Angle to ringside heading into a break. [C]
Balor took out Corbin and McIntyre with a flip dive at ringside. Balor knocked Lashley down and was going up top when Rush interfered enough to let Lashley recover. Lashley put Balor down with a move near the ropes and covered him. Balor put his foot on the bottom rope, but the referee made the three count anyway. A second referee ran out and told the first referee what happened. The referee informed ring announcer Mike Rome that he was restarting the match. [C]
Late in the match, Strowman went on a run. Corbin grabbed him by the feet as he was returning to the ring. Angle performed a rough looking German suplex on Corbin and was down at ringside. In the ring, Strowman performed a running powerslam on Lashley, then tagged in Balor, who performed a Coup de Grace and scored the pin, which Angle counted from ringside…
Braun Strowman, Kurt Angle, and Finn Balor beat Drew McIntyre, Baron Corbin, and Bobby Lashley.
Powell’s POV: A crowd pleasing match that gave Balor momentum going into his oddball handicap match for the IC Title on Sunday. Angle seemed fine afterward despite that clunky suplex.
A Kevin Owens camera video aired. Owens was at a bowling alley with his family. He spoke about how it’s been tough to watch Raw and Smackdown because it’s tough to watch other people do what he does best. He said he hasn’t been told whether he will be on Raw or Smackdown, but he will return in about a month. Owens’ son let him know that it was his turn. Owens said he would show everyone how it’s done. Owens bowled a gutter ball and then laughed about it with his family…
Powell’s POV: Are we getting the babyface KO that I believe can be money if booked properly in WWE?!? Or is this a set up for the nice guy doing something ruthless once he returns? I’m intrigued either way.
Nikki Cross made her entrance. They cut backstage to Charly Caruso asking Becky Lynch about her decision. Lynch told her it was none of her damn business and then walked away. Ruby Riott made her entrance for a match against Cross. Cole set up a Black History Month video heading into the break… [C]
The broadcast team noted that Titus O’Neil was at the Grammy Awards and a photo was shown…
4. Ruby Riott vs. Nikki Cross. Cross performed an early cross body block and then slammed Riott’s head into the mat a few times. Riott caught Cross’s head between her knees and drove it into the turnbuckle.
They cut a split screen shot of the match and Ronda Rousey confronting Becky Lynch backstage. Rousey said it was time for The Man to man up and spoke about the significance of facing one another at WrestleMania. Rousey told Lynch to apologize even if she doesn’t mean it. Rousey said that if Lynch said anything other than that she’s sorry then she’s proving to the world that she’s too big of a coward to face her at WrestleMania.
In the ring, Riott grabbed Cross by the face and barked at her. Cross performed a move on the apron and followed up with a cross body block on Riott at ringside. Cross pulled Riott into the ring skirt and punched her repeatedly. Cross shoved Riott back into the ring, then went up top, but Riott cut her off with a kick. Riott caught her with a Riott Kick and pinned her…
Ruby Riott defeated Nikki Cross in 5:30.
A shot aired of Paul Heyman giving a crew member an earful backstage… [C]
Powell’s POV: The match was fine, but you had to know Riott was winning given that she’s challenging Rousey for the title on Sunday. It’s a shame that the build to Rousey vs. Riott has been so weak. The broadcast team couldn’t even muster up fake enthusiasm while trying to say that Riott could be the new women’s champion if she hit her finisher on on Rousey. By the way, are the call-ups ever going to be assigned to a roster?
Seth Rollins made his entrance in jeans and his latest t-shirt. A “burn it down” chant broke out. Rollins said he was going to come out and talk about Brock Lesnar and WrestleMania, but he got a chance to watch the highlight reel they showed earlier. “What a ride,” Rollins said regarding the last 12 months of his career. He said it’s been a crazy year and he was happy to share it with the fans. He said he rode the momentum all the way to win the Royal Rumble where he achieved a childhood dream by punching his ticket to WrestleMania. Rollins said he was on top of the world until the bottom dropped out in the form of Lesnar and six F5’s.
[Hour Three] Rollins said he had to go home and think about things. He said he had bad news and good news. Rollins said the bad news is that he took six F5’s and he hurts. He said it could have stemmed from the last year of his career, but he said the pain is like nothing he’s felt in his life. “The good news is that I took six F5’s and I’m still here,” Rollins said. Rollins noted that he’s still standing and if he’s standing then he can fight and if he can fight then he can stomp and if he can stop then he can beat Lesnar. Rollins spoke about his family questioning whether it was worth it.
Paul Heyman interrupted just as Rollins was about to talk about a scenario where it’s the last match of his career. Heyman stood on the stage and did the big tease for Brock Lesnar being present before announcing that he wasn’t there. It didn’t seem like many fans believed him. Heyman said he was there to educate Rollins. Heyman said Rollins believes all men are created equal. “And they’re not,” Heyman said. He asked if Rollins really believes his own DNA matches that of Lesnar. Heyman said Rollins is a great athlete and a top tier performer, but Lesnar is a beast.
Heyman played the WrestleMania match as a suicide mission for Rollins. He said that if Rollins goes through with the match then he will be the architect of his own demise. Heyman said that’s not a prediction, it’s a spoiler. Rollins said Heyman is right, but he doesn’t care. Rollins said Lesnar has held the industry that he loves hostage for two years and he won’t stand for it anymore. Rollins said he will be that martyr and sacrifice his body and heart, and sell his soul to the devil and burn in hell if it means that Lesnar does not leave WrestleMania as the Universal Champion. Rollins said that’s not a prediction, that is a spoiler.
Dean Ambrose’s music played after Heyman had gone backstage. Ambrose joined Rollins in the ring and put his hand out for the mic. “I only have one thing to say to you,” Ambrose said. “Slay the beast.” Ambrose left the ring, leaving Rollins looking confused. Ambrose took a seat at ringside. Cole hyped that Ambrose would be in action after the break… [C]
Powell’s POV: A strong segment. The live crowd didn’t seem to buy into the idea that Lesnar was there, but everything else worked nicely. Heyman did a good job of looking ultra confident to start and then showing some concern by the end. The Ambrose portion was intriguing given that he was bothered by Rollins getting the match in the past. I like when the Ambrose character is mysterious in his intentions. I’m curious to see what happens after the break with Ambrose.
A graphic noted that Raw was the most active show on social media last week… A Peyton Royce and Billie Kay pre-taped promo aired with the duo talking about how winning the tag titles would make all of their hard work seem worth it… Cole explained how the women’s Elimination Chamber match will work…
5. Dean Ambrose vs. EC3. Cole recapped EC3 pinning Ambrose in his debut last week. EC3 threw an early missile dropkick and then followed up with a vertical suplex. EC3 actually spoke as he called for the crowd to say his name. In the end, Ambrose caught EC3 in an inside cradle and pinned him…
Dean Ambrose pinned EC3 in 3:55.
Powell’s POV: The crowd was very quiet and it was hard to blame them beyond just the third hour fatigue setting in. They just saw Ambrose show kindness to Rollins, then watched him work a match with a character who hadn’t spoken on WWE television. And don’t even get me started on the ridiculous idea of introducing a One Percenter character as a babyface. Was this meant to set up a double turn? Either way, I have no idea why EC3 would lose in his second match on Raw television, especially when Graves was gushing over him as a future champion.
Backstage, Alexa Bliss encouraged Becky Lynch not to apologize. Lynch figured out that Bliss wanted to replace her in the Raw Women’s Title match at WrestleMania and called her on it. Bliss denied it and said she just wants to see Lynch be true to herself. Lynch said there’s not a genuine bone in Bliss’s body. Bliss told her to go ahead and apologize, but then no one would see her as The Man, they’d see her as an Irish girl who sold out. Lynch said that if she does apologize then the only thing she’ll be selling out is WrestleMania…
Bobby Roode and Chad Gable made their entrance for a tag title match against The Revival… [C] Cole hyped the “Fighting With My Family” movie and noted that Snoop Dogg hosted a private screening of the film at his own theater…
6. Bobby Roode and Chad Gable vs. “The Revival” Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder for the Raw Tag Titles. Only a portion of the Revival entrance was shown and there were no in-ring introductions for the title match. Gable performed a moonsault onto Dawson and Wilder on the floor heading into an early break. [C]
Roode was shoved off the apron by Dawson, allowing the Revival to isolate Gable briefly. Gable ended up hitting both men with German suplexes. Gable looked to his corner, but Roode was still down heading into a break. [C]
Roode checked in and worked over Dawson and Wilder coming out of the break. Roode performed a spinebuster on Wilder for a near fall. The Revival came back with a facebuster off a Gory special on Roode for a near fall of their own. Gable tagged in and performed a double team Blockbuster suplex onto Wilder, but Dawson broke up the pin at the last moment.
The Revival came back with a Doomsday Device (minus the recipient taking a flip) on Gable, but Roode broke up the pin. A “this is awesome” chant broke out. Wilder took a blind tag. Gable leapt from the ropes at Dawson, but The Revival hit him with a Shatter Machine on the way down and got the win.
The Revival defeated Bobby Roode and Chad Gable in 19:25 to win the Raw Tag Titles.
The Revival returned backstage and were greeted by Chary Caruso, who interviewed them. They spoke about how no one around the globe is better than they are. They hugged…
Powell’s POV: It’s about damn time. All four wrestlers deserve a lot of credit. The live crowd came off like they couldn’t have cared less when the match started, but the wrestlers won them over and had them chanting “this is awesome” and reacting to the near falls. Putting the tag titles on The Revival won’t fix all of the Raw tag division’s problems, but it’s a nice start.
Becky Lynch made her entrance. Cole questioned whether she would apologize or give up her opportunity at WrestleMania… [C] Cole hyped Ric Flair’s birthday celebration coming up in two weeks on Raw in Atlanta…
Triple H and Stephanie McMahon made their entrance (because that couldn’t have happened during the break). Stephanie said it had been a long night for everyone. She asked if she would live her dream at WrestleMania or not. Hunter said they want it to work out whether Lynch believes it or not. Stephanie asked if she would say “those two little words” or throw away her moment in history.
Lynch looked to the crowd. Hunter told her to shut out the fans, which drew boos. Hunter told her not to let strangers dictate her future. “Their opinions don’t matter,” Hunter said. “What do you want?” Lynch said she still doesn’t think they want her anywhere near that match (WHY?). She said she let her emotions get the better of her.
“If all that is keeping me away from my dream is two little words then…” Lynch paused and shook her head. “Stephanie, Triple H, I’m sorry,” Lynch said. Triple H and Stephanie offered her handshakes. She blew them off and said they had a deal and now she has her match with Rousey. She said no one will take her dream away from her. Hunter said he wouldn’t have it any other way and congratulated her and said she was going to WrestleMania.
Hunter and Steph shook Lynch’s hand. “That’s it?” Lynch asked. Hunter said it was and then left the ring with his wife. Lynch started hyping her match with Rousey, whose music interrupted her. Rousey headed to the ring with the title belt over her shoulder.
Vince McMahon came out minus music. Vince said it could be one of the greatest main events of all time. Vince said Becky thinks she’s bigger than WWE and has a bad attitude and he doesn’t like bad attitudes. Vince said Lynch isn’t the man, he is. Vince suspended Lynch for sixty days. “I’m not going to accept your apology, they may, I’m not,” McMahon said. He noted that her suspension would go five days beyond WrestleMania.
Vince said they needed someone who knows how to stay in her lane and someone who has charisma. Vince introduced Charlotte Flair as Rousey’s opponent. Charlotte walked out and joined Vince on the stage. Vince told Rousey to get used to what she was about to see because it’s what she would see at WrestleMania. Vince raised Flair’s hand and did the “new women’s champion” introduction of her to close the show…
Powell’s POV: All signs point to the Triple Threat that many of us have been expecting. I’m still a bigger fan of Rousey vs. Lynch in a singles match, but I can’t say I’m surprised by this development. If nothing else, Vince’s endorsement of Flair stealing the popular Lynch’s spot should cement her as a heel. The angle between Lynch and the McMahons was awkward and there will be a lot of grumbling about the expected Triple Threat. It will be interesting to see if they can win people over the by the time they circle back around to officially inserting Lynch back into the match. Overall, Raw was a solid show with decent hype for the Elimination Chamber event while continuing the long build to WrestleMania. I will have more to say about the show in my audio review for members coming up later tonight.
Check below for the new Pro Wrestling Boom with Jason Powell and Will Pruett discussing the All Elite Wrestling rally in Las Vegas, the potential fallout from the partnership with Mexico’s AAA promotion, Kenny Omega signing, and much more.
The new edition of the Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell and guest Todd Martin on his background, attending pro wrestling events in Japan, the NJPW G1 Tournament, why lucha libre companies haven't been as successful as NJPW in the United States, AEW optimism, covering pro wrestling and MMA, and more (68:57)...