By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw (Episode 1,500)
Live from Columbia, South Carolina at at Colonial Life Arena
Aired February 21, 2022 on USA Network
[Hour One] Raw opened with an Elimination Chamber highlights package… The broadcast team was Jimmy Smith, Corey Graves, and Byron Saxton…
New WWE Champion Brock Lesnar was introduced by ring announcer Mike Rome. Lesnar wore western attire and was all smiles as he walked to the ring. Once at ringside, Lesnar hopped onto the broadcast table and held up his title belt.
Lesnar entered the ring and the crowd serenaded him with a “Suplex City” chant. Lesnar said it was getting hot, and he removed his sweater. “Now where were you?” Lesnar asked the crowd. They resumed their “Suplex City” chant. Lesnar thanked the fans and said he appreciated it.
Paul Heyman interrupted Lesnar with a “Ladies and gentlemen” greeting. Heyman walked onto the stage and tried to introduce himself. “That’s as far as I would go if I were you,” Lesnar said. The fans chanted “you suck” and Lesnar joined in on it.
Heyman said the special counsel for the Tribal Chief does not suck. He said he is the special counsel for the only real heavyweight champion in WWE. Heyman said he was there out of love for their twenty years together.
Heyman brought up the title vs. title match and said, “There’s a roadblock in your way, farm boy.” Heyman said Lesnar might not make it to WrestleMania as champion. Heyman said Lesnar must defend the WWE Championship on March 5 at Madison Square Garden.
“I can still appreciate you, Paul, even though you’re such a dick,” Lesnar said. Heyman said Lesnar would defend the WWE Championship against Bobby Lashley at MSG if Lashley clears the concussion protocol. Heyman said he would make sure Lesnar had a worthy of the world’s most famous arena opposition if Lashley didn’t clear concussion protocol.
Lesnar told Heyman that he was doing just fine without him. He informed Heyman that he would be at Smackdown on Friday night to introduce himself as the new WWE Champion to Heyman and Roman Reigns…
Powell’s POV: There was no announcement about the MSG event being televised on March 5. While that could change, I like the idea of making the MSG show feel special, and it should obviously be good for ticket sales. Lesnar continues to be a blast as a babyface. Meanwhile, the fact that WWE is teasing the possibility of Lashley working at MSG would seem to be good news, though they clearly gave themselves an out just in case he’s not ready.
Kevin Owens and Seth Rollins were speaking backstage when Kevin Patrick showed up for an interview. Patrick said it didn’t seem like they had a clear path to WrestleMania. Owens said that when they beat Randy Orton and Riddle, they will be added to the Raw Tag Title match in two weeks.
Owens said once they become champions, they could challenge The Usos to face them in a title vs. title match. Rollins walked off, and then Owens called Dallas a “hell hole”…
The Street Profits made their entrance for the opening match against Alpha Academy… [C] The broadcast team hyped Bianca Belair appearing later in the show. They also said Miz’s tag team partner for WrestleMania would be revealed during the Miz TV segment. They also announced that Edge would appear on Raw…
1. Raw Tag Team Champions “Alpha Academy” Chad Gable and Otis vs. “The Street Profits” Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins in a non-title match. The entrance of Gable and Otis was partially televised while the broadcast team ran through the upcoming segments. Gable and Otis worked over Ford at ringside, and then Dawkins performed a dive onto them heading into a break. [C]
The Profits performed a Doomsday Blockbuster on Gable and had him beat, but Otis broke up the pin. Otis took out Dawkins and tagged in. Ford cleared Gable to ringside and then performed a series of strikes. Ford tried to bodyslam Otis, but he couldn’t hold him up. Otis landed on top of Ford and then Gable reached in from the floor and held Ford’s foot down while he was being pinned…
Raw Tag Team Champions “Alpha Academy” Chad Gable and Otis defeated “The Street Profits” Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins in 9:05 in a non-title match.
Powell’s POV: Another television loss for the Profits. I’m not crazy about seeing them take so many losses, but they do seem to maintain their popularity with the live crowds, and they were protected to some extent via the way the finish was booked. Meanwhile, Gable and Otis continue to be a lot of fun as the Raw Tag Champions.
Backstage, Tommaso Ciampa was interviewed by Kevin Patrick about facing Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode in a tag team match. He said he wasn’t feeling added pressure because the match was on Raw. Ciampa said he knew just the person to call when he needed a partner.
Finn Balor entered the picture and said that while Raw is his home, he’ll never forget where he came from. Balor said he’d also never forget being in the ring with Ciampa. Balor acknowledged their past issues and said he wanted to start the road to WrestleMania by standing shoulder to shoulder with Ciampa. Balor made his entrance… [C]
Still shows aired from the Elimination Chamber and then Ciampa was shown entering the ring. Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode made their entrance. The broadcast team hyped Ciampa vs. Ziggler for Tuesday’s NXT 2.0 television show…
2. Tommaso Ciampa and Finn Balor vs. Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode. Ciampa tagged in Balor, then sent Ziggler onto the apron and knocked him to ringside with a knee. Roode grabbed Ciampa, but Balor sent Roode to the floor with a forearm shot. Ciampa held down the top rope while Balor executed a flip dive onto both opponents on the floor. [C]
Late in the match, Roode leapt from the middle rope and Ciampa caught him with a knee. Ciampa set up for his Fairytale Ending finisher, but Roode tried to backdrop out of it. Ciampa countered into a sunset flip and scored the pin. Graves labeled it a major upset for the unlikely allies beating “a decorated tag team”…
Tommaso Ciampa and Finn Balor defeated Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode in 9:15.
Powell’s POV: Good for Ciampa. It was fun to see him and Balor teaming together, and even better to see Ciampa get a win on Raw. I don’t get the sense that Ciampa is being called up, as this all served as hype for his match against Ziggler on Tuesday’s NXT 2.0 television show. Cheap plug time. Join John Moore for his weekly NXT 2.0 live review (Dot Net Members hear his weekly same night audio reviews).
The broadcast team ran through the previously announced WrestleMania matches… The Miz made his entrance for the Miz TV segment… [C]
The Miz hosted the Miz TV segment. He said the fans wish they had his success and instead look to Rey Mysterio because they can relate to him. Miz said Rey is everything that the fans despise about him, but they just refuse to see it. Miz said he found a new tag partner that he can relate to and trust. He said the person comes from a famous family and is very dashing.
[Hour Two] Rey Mysterio and Dominik Mysterio made their entrance. Rey said no one in the back would team with Miz because they can’t stand him. Rey said that whoever the outsider is, he can go right back to where he came from so that he didn’t take the WrestleMania spot of someone who deserves it.
Miz complained about Dom interfering in their match at Elimination Chamber. Miz questioned whether Rey deserved to win, then questioned whether Dom deserved a WWE contract or if his daddy got it for him. Dom spoke about being in the front row since he was seven and defended himself. Dom threatened Miz, who cut him off and proposed that he and his tag team partner face Rey and Dom at WrestleMania.
Logan Paul was introduced by Miz as his tag team partner. Paul came out in a sweatshirt and shorts. He took a drink from a bottle and then haded it to a kid before he headed to the ring and bumped chests with Miz.
Paul told Rey that he has bigger pool toys than him. Dom said that if “this jackass” was going to be Miz’s partner, then they accepted the match challenge. Miz hit Dom from behind, then Paul hit Rey from behind. Miz and Paul ran Rey through the ropes in a corner of the ring, then did the same to Dom. Miz put Rey down with a Skull Crushing Finale. Paul performed the Skull Crushing Finale on Dom…
Powell’s POV: Well, at least they figured out that Logan Paul is a heel, though I can’t rule out the possibility that he’ll punch out Miz coming out of their match. The segment put good heat on Miz and Paul, but Miz’s Cody Rhodes teases were my favorite part of the segment.
Chad Gable and Otis were interviewed by Kevin Patrick in the backstage area. Gable called the RKBro vs. Rollins and Owens match disgusting. He complained that their chances would drop to 33.3 percent if Rollins and Owens won the match to earn a spot in the Raw Tag Title match…
Rhea Ripley made her entrance for another match against Nikki ASH… [C] The Veer Mahaan video package aired. Yes, he’s “Coming to Raw”… Nikki ASH made her entrance…
3. Rhea Ripley vs. Nikki ASH. ASH yelled at Ripley about being a superhero and then slapped her. Ripley responded with a headbutt. Ripley dominated ASH and held her up before performing a vertical suplex.
ASH rolled to the floor and complained about Ripley being a bully to the broadcast team. Ripley followed and slammed ASH’s head on the table. Back in the ring, ASH mauled Ripley with a bunch of punches, but Ripley came back with a kick to the head and then hit the Riptide for the win…
Rhea Ripley defeated Nikki ASH in 2:35.
Graves hyped a look at the career of Undertaker… [C]
Powell’s POV: The creative forces could have made this feud a little more competitive by having ASH cheat to steal a win. Instead, they’ve made ASH a complete pushover heel and there was no mystery regarding the outcome. I am very curious to see what they have Ripley do at WrestleMania. Here’s hoping she gets an actual match and doesn’t simply win the Lady Dre battle royal.
The broadcast team recapped Bobby Lashley being removed from the Elimination Chamber match. They played up that he’s in the concussion protocol (it’s actually a shoulder injury), and Saxton assumed that someone would need to replace him as Lesnar’s challenger at the MSG event…
The Undertaker “Sad But True” video package aired… The live crowd chanted “Undertaker” and then the broadcast team hyped his Hall of Fame induction and tickets for the April 1 event that will follow the live Smackdown in Dallas…
U.S. Champion Damian Priest made his entrance for a match against Shelton Benjamin… [C] Benjamin and Cedric Alexander made their entrance…
4. U.S. Champion Damian Priest vs. Shelton Benjamin (w/Cedric Alexander) in a non-title match. Saxton acknowledged that Benjamin was born in Orangeburg, South Carolina. Priest was dumped to ringside and Alexander got a few cheap shots in while Benjamin distracted the referee.
Priest fought off Alexander a short time later, but Benjamin then blasted him with a high knee in the corner and followed up with a suplex for a near fall. Priest came back with a kick to the shoulder and a chokeslam. Priest followed up with The Reckoning and scored the clean pin…
U.S. Champion Damian Priest defeated Shelton Benjamin in 3:10 in a non-title match.
After the match, Priest took the mic and gave credit to Benjamin for “being one of the few to come out here and fight me like a man.” Priest said he’s beaten champions and he’s faced serious athletes fighters and remained the U.S. Champion.
Priest said it’s WrestleMania season. He said he would put his title on the line next week, but he wants it to be against someone “of world championship caliber.” Priest said he is the U.S. Champion and asked who would try to take that from him. Priest was going to leave the ring, but entrance music stopped him.
Finn Balor made his entrance and spoke from the stage. He asked Priest if he wanted to face a serious athlete, a serious fighter, and a world champion level opponent. “It sounds like you’re talking about me,” Balor said. “Be careful what you wish for, Priest, I’ll see you next week”…
Powell’s POV: I guess Shelton earned that non-title match by losing a handicap match to Omos last week. Anyway, it’s nice that they got Benjamin on the card in his hometown, even if it was in another loss. Meanwhile, I like that they took the time to set up Priest vs. Balor a week out rather than just randomly announcing the match on the day of the show.
Highlights aired of Reggie beating Dana Brooke to win the WWE 24/7 Championship after he learned he was stuck in the friend zone… Reggie made his entrance… [C] Still shots aired from the Elimination Chamber event…
Reggie had Dana Brooke join him in the ring and said he felt bad for what happened last week. He called for a referee to join them in the ring. Reggie laid down and let Brooke cover him, but he kicked at at the two count. He told her he was kidding and had her cover him again, but he once again kicked out at two.
Reggie told Brooke to pin him again. This time, she kissed him and he didn’t kick out. Dana Brooke pinned Reggie to win the WWE 24/7 Championship.
R-Truth, Akira Tozawa, and Tamina ran out. Reggie took out Truth, then Brooke knocked Tozawa off the apron and he fell into the arms of Tamina. Tozawa puckered up for a kiss, but Tamina dropped him and chased Brooke and Reggie…
Powell’s POV: WWE borrowed the finish that the AWA used when Stan Hansen defeated Rick Martel to win the AWA Title in 1985. Okay, so my memory isn’t very good and I might be off on that one. But I don’t think Reggie lying down for Brooke will be as devastating to WWE business as the finger poke of doom was to WCW business.
Highlights aired of the women’s Elimination Chamber match… Bianca Belair made her entrance… [C] The weekly Instagram photos clip aired… Graves hyped Becky Lynch vs. Bianca Belair for the Raw Women’s Championship at WrestleMania…
Bianca Belair delivered an in-ring promo. She spoke excitedly about going back to WrestleMania. She praised the other Elimination Chamber entrants and noted that she would be facing Doudrop in a match on Raw.
[Hour Three] Belair said she’s worked nonstop for this WrestleMania moment. She said she would show Lynch that you can’t spell WrestleMania without a little EST.
Raw Women’s Champion Becky Lynch made her entrance. Once in the ring, she congratulated Belair on making it back to the big time. Lynch spoke about her accomplishments and noted that it was six months to the day that she beat Belair in 26 seconds at SummerSlam.
Belair recalled Lynch telling her to go to the back of the line. Belair spoke about what she’s done since then and said she did it all without making excuses. Lynch claimed she is the victim. She said the people loved her before Belair came around. “I was the man of the people,” Lynch said.
Lynch claimed that the fans turned on her and now despise her because of Belair. Lynch said that because the fans despise her, she despises Belair. She boasted about beating Lita and said this is her own redemption story. Belair threatened to make Lynch the victim. Doudrop made her entrance for her match against Belair… [C]
5. Bianca Belair vs. Doudrop. Becky Lynch sat in on commentary and continued to blame Belair for turning the fans against her. Belair sent Doudrop to the floor. Belair performed a cross body block from the apron and then jawed at Lynch. Doudrop stood up and performed a running cross body block on Belair. [C]
Belair powered up Doudrop for a suplex, which Smith marveled over on commentary. Lynch sold it by acting flustered. Belair came back briefly, but Belair avoided a cannonball in the corner. Belair pulled her away from the ropes and covered her for a two count.
Doudrop came right back with a Michinoku Driver for a near fall. Doudrop went to the ropes, but Belair caught her and powerbombed her. Belair followed up with the KOD and scored the pin.
Bianca Belair beat Doudrop in 11:20.
After the match, Lynch stood on the broadcast table and held up her title belt while jawing with Belair…
Smith hyped Edge as appearing after the break… [C]
Powell’s POV: It’s not the first time that Belair has hit her finisher on Doudrop in a televised match, but it’s pretty damn impressive looking each time. In this case, she held her up and and walked a bit before actually executing the move.
The broadcast team hyped the Corey Graves and Carmella reality show that will premiere next Monday on the WWE YouTube page…
Edge made his entrance and then sat down on a chair in the middle of the ring. “Do you smell that?” Edge asked. He said it’s the smell of WrestleMania in the air. Edge told a story about listening to the radio for WrestleMania III results. He recalled the deejay saying that Hulk Hogan bodyslammed Andre the Giant and then beat Andre the Giant.
Edge said he would never forget that. Edge said he was brought to WrestleMania 14 as a talent, but it took him two more years to get on the show. Edge said he threw caution to the wind for that first appearance and knew he would have to keep trying to top himself.
Edge spoke of the TLC match and said it was on quite possibly the best event and they stole the show. He said he was thinking of D-Von Dudley (who just had spinal fusion surgery). He recalled his WrestleMania matches with Mick Foley, Undertaker, and what he thought was his final match due to injury.
Edge said he busted his ass for ten years “to get WrestleMania back.” Edge said he main evented WrestleMania last year. He said some kids dream of the Stanley Cup, the Super Bowl, or performing on Broadway. Edge said he dreamt of WrestleMania and still does.
Edge said you need to throw caution to the wind, fight your inner demon, and become undeniable at WrestleMania. “I need WrestleMania,” Edge said. He added that you can’t call it stupendous without him. “And as much as I need WrestleMania, WrestleMania needs Edge.”
Edge issued a challenge to the locker room. Edge said he needed someone to step up. He said that if someone wants to prove themselves, they need to fight him at WrestleMania. “You fight me at WrestleMania, and I’ll make you live forever,” he said. “So step up, boys, I’ll be waiting”…
Powell’s POV: A great nostalgic promo that really helped drive home that WrestleMania season is here. AJ Styles has publicly stated that he wants to face Edge at WrestleMania, but it’s unclear whether that match is happening or if they have something else in mind.
Randy Orton and Riddle made their entrance for the main event… [C] Additional Elimination Chamber still shots aired… Seth Rollins and Kevin Owens made their entrances…
6. “RKBro” Randy Orton and Riddle vs. Seth Rollins and Kevin Owens. Graves stated that the Alpha Academy duo of Chad Gable and Otis were barred from ringside. They were shown watching the match on a backstage monitor. Orton tried to side slam Rollins on the broadcast table, but Owens blocked it. Orton dumped Owens on the broadcast table instead, but Rollins hit Orton with a suicide dive that knocked him over the broadcast table. [C]
The broadcast team tried to play up both teams needing wins so they could have paths to WrestleMania. Late in the match, Owens performed a Swanton Bomb on Riddle, and then Rollins followed up with an immediate frog splash for a near fall.
Riddle made a hot tag to Orton, who worked over Owens with two clotheslines and then powerslammed Owens and then Rollins. Orton set up for a double draping DDT. Rollins slipped away, but Orton performed the move on Owens. Orton struck the Viper’s Pose and went for an RKO, but Owens stuffed it.
Riddle tagged in. Owens sent Rollins to ringside where Rollins Stomped him. In the ring, Riddle hit a Floating Bro on Owens. Rollins tagged in and hit a Buckle Bomb on Riddle. Owens gave Riddle a Stunner, then Rollins followed up with a Stomp and pinned him…
Seth Rollins and Kevin Owens defeated “RKBro” Randy Orton and Riddle in 12:40 to earn a spot in the Raw Tag Title match.
The broadcast team hyped Alpha Academy vs. Rollins and Owens vs. Orton and Riddle for the Raw Tag Titles in two weeks on Raw. They also hyped Priest vs. Balor for the U.S. Championship for next week’s show. Owens and Rollins celebrated their win to close the show while a graphic listed Bianca Belair, The Miz, and Finn Balor for Raw Talk…
Powell’s POV: Really good action from start to finish. Had Owens not dropped that Texas insult earlier, I’d be wondering if there was a change in plans regarding whatever he’s doing at WrestleMania. Overall, this was a solid show that set the table for some WrestleMania matches. A few of you have pointed out that Edge used the word “phenomenal” during his promo, so I guess that’s a pretty big hint that he will indeed be facing AJ Styles. I will be back shortly with my weekly same night audio review for Dot Net Members. Let me know what you thought of Raw by grading it below.
Check out today’s Pro Wrestling Boom Live podcast with Jonny Fairplay and I taking listener calls and answering email questions.