By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw Hits
Cody Rhodes and Sami Zayn: A very good segment. The creative forces are not shying away from having Rhodes and Zayn share the ring together despite whatever concerns there may be over the fans rejecting Cody because they want to see Zayn in the WrestleMania main event. While Montreal is going to be a unique situation, there’s no sign of that happening yet because it’s been handled so well thus far. This segment established Cody as the alpha, Zayn as the underdog, and also reminded viewers of just how dominant that Reigns has been since he formed The Bloodline. I also liked the impromptu match approach that was taken for Cody’s win over Baron Corbin. It felt much more energetic to have them brawl their way from backstage to the ring than it would have had they simply introduced both men for a standard match.
Brock Lesnar and Bobby Lashley contract signing: Lashley insisting that he’s the one calling the shots due to his recent success against Lesnar has made for a couple of good segments. Lesnar comes off like he’s having more fun in this babyface run than he has at any point during his career. He looks loose and genuinely happy. Meanwhile, Lashley is also still playing to the fans. Lashley comes off as the more heelish of the two, but it also feels like they are letting the fans choose for themselves heading into their latest match.
Raw Women’s Champion Bianca Belair vs. Becky Lynch vs. Bayley in a non-title Triple Threat match: It was a clever idea to set up this match with the believable possibility that Bayley or especially Lynch could win and be added to the Elimination Chamber match. In fact, I was actually mildly surprised that Lynch didn’t go over, as a case could have been made for her giving the Chamber match a boost even if the plan is for someone else to win it. I just pray that we don’t have to listen to the nonsense about Lynch not having a path to WrestleMania. Similar talk regarding other top stars that everyone knew would end up having matches on the two-night event was the biggest turnoff during the buildup to recent WrestleManias.
Miz TV with Seth Rollins: While kinda cute for one night, here’s hoping that Seth’s giant red boots were a one-time thing. Anyway, I really liked the way that Rollins labeled Logan Paul as “selfish and soulless” and saying that he cares only about lining his pockets not about the dream of headlining WrestleMania. I just pray that the creative team is committed to making Paul a heel and this isn’t going to be a case of him earning the respect of Rollins. We’ve seen the formula. The fans naturally dislike Paul. He wins them over with crazy high spots, but they go right back to booing him the next time he appears on WWE television. Paul is a heel. Stop fighting it.
Asuka, Nikki Cross, and Carmela vs. Liv Morgan, Raquel Rodriguez, and Natalya: Who knew that Carmella’s character would be the most stable member of any trios team? Asuka going over strong was the right move, though I was surprised that it came at the expense of Morgan rather than Natalya.
Finn Balor and Damian Priest vs. “The Street Profits” Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins: Good tag team action. There was no sign of tension from the Ford and Dawkins characters, which I thought we might see after Ford qualified for the Elimination Chamber match while Dawkins came up short. The Profits are a terrific team, but I still wonder if we’re getting close to the two of them becoming singles wrestlers.
Bronson Reed vs. Mustafa Ali: Another dominant win for Reed, whose Tsunami splash already seems to be one of the more over finishing moves on Raw. If Reed isn’t winning the Elimination Chamber match, then it will be interesting to see how he’s eliminated and what they do to protect him on Saturday.
Piper Niven vs. Michin: A good showcase for Niven, who is off to a really good start since ditching the dreadful Doudrop name.
Overall show: Everything felt like it had a purpose and it I never felt like I was watching filler. On top of that, Raw delivered strong go-home hype for the Elimination Chamber event.
WWE Raw Misses
Rick Boogs vs. The Miz: Boogs was a popular undercard act with his guitar playing entrance for Shinsuke Nakamura on Smackdown. He’s basically playing the same character on Raw, but it just doesn’t seem like it’s clicked with the live crowds since he returned from his long injury layoff. I think my favorite part of the segment was the picture in picture break that showed Miz struggling to get back to his feet after being laid out by Seth Rollins. Something out of the ordinary like that holds my attention during PIP breaks a lot more than actual matches do because we’ve been conditioned to know that matches don’t end during PIP breaks.
Montreal will be 50/50 for Cody at MOST.
Brock playing the babyface role is why they are cheering him and not Lashley. NOTHING to do with Lashley, as Brock is so mega-over that if both played the face role going into the match the fans would crap all over Lashley without hesitation.
Lynch will OF COURSE somehow be put in a “she doesn’t have a match at Wrestlemania” role, sadly, although as you said you KNOW she will be there.
Going over Morgan means “something”, although very little. Going over Natalya would have meant even less, though, at this point.
Overall, average show, but I get having to put it over since its the go home for the Elimination Chamber.