By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
Rhea Ripley vs. Nikki ASH vs. Liv Morgan vs. Bianca Belair vs. Doudrop in a gauntlet match to become the final person to enter the Elimination Chamber match: This was a pleasant surprise only because WWE didn’t bother to advertise the match for some odd reason. The layout was excellent, as Ripley was finally showcased as a singles force before she took the loss to Belair. Ripley’s character can obviously point to the fact that she entered the match long before Belair did as her out for losing. In fact, if neither of them end up winning the Elimination Chamber, I’m all for Ripley vs. Belair at WrestleMania.
Becky Lynch and Lita contract signing: The unhinged Lynch persona was a fun and unexpected twist. Lita continues to be very likable and she’s one of the few wrestlers who is over enough to make the vast majority of fans root against Lynch. I really liked Lita saying that she has a full run left in her, as it plants the seed in the mind of fans that this could be more than just a one-off appearance.
Randy Orton vs. Seth Rollins: A good television main event. The right guy went over given that Rollins is in the Elimination Chamber match and Orton isn’t advertised for the event. But they also protected Orton by showing that he was on the verge of winning before he was distracted by Alpha Academy.
Opening segment with the WWE Championship Elimination Chamber entrants: A solid segment with the champion and his challengers all stating their case for winning the match. It was nice to see Austin Theory take a more serious approach while he was talking even if he ended up being the punching bag for Brock Lesnar in the end.
Raw Tag Team Champions “Alpha Academy” Chad Gable and Otis vs. Rey Mysterio and Dominik Mysterio in a non-title match: A good match that was preceded by Gable’s anti-cheater promo, so you had to know that he was going to cheat to win. Gable continues to make the most out of the mic time that he’s getting, and Alpha Academy are now one of my favorite acts on Raw these days.
Kevin Owens: As much as Owens heeling on one particular state wouldn’t normally mean much to the rest of the world, WWE fans know that Owens ripping into WrestleMania host state Texas means he’s likely to end up taking some Stone Cold Stunners. But the big question is whether those Stunners will come at the end of the usual Austin skit or at the end of Austin’s long awaited return to the ring.
Reggie: I suspect that more than a few viewers who were at home watching Raw on Valentine’s Day could relate to Reggie being bitter about being placed in the friend zone. Most of us have been there at one time or another. This was a rare time when something involving the 24/7 Title actually made me laugh.
Alexa Bliss finishes therapy: The therapist took a strange turn by encouraging Bliss to keep the Lilly doll with her even after Bliss made it seem like she was fine without it. I didn’t care for Lady Fiend. I can’t stand Lilly. I despise nonsensical hocus pocus in pro wrestling. And yet I am very curious to see what the latest version of the Bliss character is all about. So whether I love or hate whatever Bliss ends up doing, adding her to the Elimination Chamber match was an excellent late hook for Saturday’s show.
WWE Raw Misses
Damian Priest vs. AJ Styles for the U.S. Championship: I came away from this match wondering if someone called a creative audible and they decided to move on from this feud. Priest showed anger and frustration after losing his last match to Styles, which had me wondering if he was on the verge of turning heel. Instead, he won this match clean without displaying the dark side personality, and he even shook hands with Styles afterward. The timing of this felt strange in terms of having Styles take a clean loss before he enters the Elimination Chamber match. The ring work was fine, but the match was brief and uneventful.
Omos vs. “The Hurt Business” Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin in a handicap match: The broadcast team tried to make a fuss over Omos beating former Raw Tag Team Champions. As much as they played it right with that call, Alexander and Benjamin have been beaten down so badly by the booking that the match outcome was never in question and it didn’t feel like an impressive win for Omos. But, um, at least Alexander and Benjamin got to keep the Hurt Business name?
“The Street Profits” Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins vs. Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode: A soft Miss for a brief match that surprisingly included Tommaso Ciampa on color commentary. Unfortunately, the angle was nothing special and it’s hard to imagine that it will generate much buzz for NXT 2.0. That said, here’s hoping for more crossover segments designed to create interest in the developmental show.
Riddle’s Broga Party: Meh. It’s not that I got my hopes way up for these skits, but somehow I still expected them to be more fun.
>I really liked Lita saying that she has a full run left in her, as it plants the seed in the mind of fans that this could be more than just a one-off appearance.<<
No one with any intelligence about wrestling thinks Lita has a shot, unless the Prince paid the right amount to Vince to make that happen.
Even if that were true, it’s still the right move to do what they can to make viewers think she has a chance. But I’m always amazed by how many fans convince themselves that a heavy underdog has a chance to win. There have been some slam dunk locks over the years that still had fans speculating that bookers might surprise us by putting over the underdog. It’s not unintelligent people. Okay, maybe sometimes. But it’s usually a case of a fan just overthinking things or hoping to be surprised.