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The Royal Rumble is in the books and it was a pretty good show with Shinsuke Nakamura winning the men’s Rumble while Asuka won the first ever women’s Rumble. In addition to that, Ronda Rousey made her WWE debut at the end of the night. Check out my very detailed (nearly 10,000 words!) Royal Rumble review right here and also check out my 10 Takeaways from the Royal Rumble over at The Comeback for even more thoughts on Sunday’s show. On Saturday, I wrote an in-depth review of the NXT Takeover Philadelphia show that featured a five-star match, which is pretty rare. I’ve seen it twice and loved it even more the second time. It’s busy season, that’s for sure.

Live from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (for the third night in a row), this is the Raw Deal for episode #1288 of Monday Night Raw. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. If you like what you read here, please support TJRWrestling by getting one of our amazing t-shirts right here. Thanks to Melo Man for the banner up top.

The opening video package showed Asuka celebrating her Royal Rumble win in the main event of the show. It also featured Ronda Rousey walking out to make her WWE debut with shots of the crowd going wild. That was followed by some press clippings showing Rousey in a WWE ring.

Let’s Hear from Stephanie McMahon

Stephanie “Making History” McMahon is the Raw Commissioner and she entered for the show opening promo. The announce team of Michael Cole, Corey Graves and Jonathon Coachman, who replaces Booker T.

Analysis: The announce team change was announced earlier on Monday with Booker T moving to Kickoff Show panels.  I think Coach is better at it than Booker, so it’s an upgrade because Booker’s bickering with Graves hurt the show more than it helped a lot of the time.

Later on Raw is The Miz vs. Roman Reigns for the IC Title.

There are new graphics on Raw as Stephanie welcomed us to the show. Stephanie said they are there to kick off 25 more years of Raw. Stephanie talked about the first ever all-women’s Royal Rumble match while putting over Sasha Banks lasting nearly an hour, Nia Jax, Naomi’s athleticism, legends like Lita, Jacqueline, Beth Phoenix and Trish Stratus. Stephanie said when all was said and done,  pardon the pun, the game changed. Stephanie mentioned the arrival of the former UFC Bantamweight Champion “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey, which drew cheers.

Stephanie said that the story is about the historic Rumble match and the winner of that match. Stephanie introduced the “Empress of Tomorrow” Asuka.

Asuka made her entrance in her ring gear and she received a huge ovation from the crowd while the announcers put her over strongly. Asuka went into the ring.

Stephanie said Asuka is going to WrestleMania. Stephanie said normally she would ask about who Asuka wants to challenge at WrestleMania, but Stephanie said she may want to wait because Alexa Bliss may not be champion since she is going to have to defend the Raw Women’s Title in the first ever Elimination Chamber on February 25.

Asuka did a promo in Japanese showing a lot of enthusiasm. Asuka pointed at the WrestleMania sign. Asuka said that at WrestleMania she will become the champion because “nobody is ready for Asuka.”

Sasha Banks made her entrance. Graves complained about Banks making her way down to the ring because he said she was stealing the spotlight. Banks said that the Royal Rumble was a dream come true because they got to make history. Banks said she got to share a ring with 29 incredible and one of them was Asuka. Banks congratulated on her victory and going on to WrestleMania. Banks said that she proved she can go the distance. Banks: “I’m ready for Asuka…tonight.” Stephanie told them the match is on: Banks vs. Asuka.

Analysis: They set up a big match for later with that segment, which is normal for what they do in an opening segment. It will be the first time ever for Banks vs. Asuka, so hopefully they get time because it will be great if they do. That’s one of those matches where I would have rather saved the first time for a PPV, but this is WWE and they’re not good at doing that. They didn’t announce names for the Women’s Elimination Chamber match other than Bliss is defending the title in it.

The announcers talked about six qualifying matches to enter the men’s Elimination Chamber match on February 25. That’s a #1 contender’s match.

Qualifying matches to get into the Elimination Chamber on Raw tonight: Strowman vs. Kane in a Last Man Standing Match, Matt Hardy vs. Elias and John Cena vs. Finn Balor. Three more matches next week.

Braun Strowman made his entrance. Strowman grabbed a table from under the ring and set it up on the floor to get ready for his match.

(Commercial)

The match started during the break.

Last Man Standing Match: Braun Strowman vs. Kane

The winner gets one of the six spots in the Elimination Chamber match.

Kane was in control early as he sent Strowman into the ring post. They went brawling into the crowd and near the technical area. They were near the announcer’s table area. Strowman shoved an equipment case into Kane’s right arm and Strowman hit Kane with a chair. The three announcers left their table. Kane was right under the table so Strowman pushed over the entire announce set (including the part under the table) onto Kane or at least that was the idea. The referee called for the bell, so Strowman won. It was an impressive visual. It went about five minutes.

Winner: Braun Strowman

Analysis: * Easy win for Strowman with an impressive move for the finish because it’s not very common to see a guy push over the entire staging area with the announce table. Good job by WWE continually finding ways to make Strowman stand out from everybody else.

Strowman moves on as one of the six men in the Elimination Chamber match on February 25th.

Analysis: Does Strowman have a chance to win? No. His name isn’t Roman Reigns.

Kane was shown under the table as medical personnel, referees and agents were there to help him. Strowman stood on the ramp to see the destruction he caused.

Strowman was interviewed by Graves on the stage. Strowman said it was Last Man Standing, so that’s what he did and he’s the last man standing. Pretty simple.

Analysis: It could be a long injury angle for Kane since he is running for mayor in Knox County and probably has to concentrate on that since the election is getting closer. Then again, he could be back in two weeks. You never know. I can’t say I would miss him that much if he’s gone because I think it’s time for Kane to retire. I say that with all due respect. He’s 50 years old and it just looks like the right time to call it a career. He may be back again and go out in a different way, though. It does seem like the right time for an extended break, at least.

(Commercial)

The announce team was on the stage with microphones with Cole describing just what happened. Another replay aired of Strowman flipping the table. Cole said that Kane was taken to a local medical facility and Kane had trouble breathing.

There was a shot of Kane being taken away on a stretcher by medical personnel, referees and agent Adam Pearce (the bald guy) was there too.

Analysis: Good luck in the mayoral race to the Big Red Machine.

Strowman was shown walking backstage. Raw General Manager Kurt Angle showed up to yell at Strowman about continuing to put guys in danger every single week. Angle asked him to give him a break. Strowman said that it was Last Man Standing and that’s what he did. Strowman said that’s what he’ll do at Elimination Chamber and to Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania. Strowman stormed off as the crowd cheered.

Analysis: Strowman is booked very well, probably the best of anybody on this show on the men’s roster. The reason for that is because he’s allowed to be different. When you can do stuff that nobody else does it certainly helps you get reactions from the crowd. Angle trying to slow him down and not being able to do it will make people like Strowman even more.

Elias was in the ring with the guitar for one of his pre-match songs. Elias said that he sings for himself because he likes the sound of his voice. Elias said that John Cena’s going to get what’s coming to him for eliminating him during the Royal Rumble. Elias said WWE stands for “Walk With Elias” (the crowd chanted that) and he talked about getting in Elimination Chamber to become Universal Champion. Elias did one of his songs and was interrupted by Matt Hardy’s entrance.

“Woken” Matt Hardy made his entrance. They went to break there.

(Commercial)

There were images shown from the Royal Rumble.

The announce team was moved near the ringside area where they were sitting beside eachother looking at a monitor.

“Woken” Matt Hardy vs. Elias

The winner gets a spot in the Elimination Chamber match.

Hardy did his laughing routine in Elias’ face as the match got going. A crew was at ringside putting together an impromptu announce table. Hardy nailed a neckbreaker for a two count. Hardy slapped on a headlock. Elias took control with a clothesline. Elias attacked Hardy in the corner with punches and a running kick. Elias sent Hardy’s left arm into the ring post two times. The show went to break there.

(Commercial)

The match returned with the two men exchanging punches, Hardy with a back elbow and Hardy with a side Russian legsweep for two. There was a shot of the empty announce table by the right side of the ramp. Hardy with corner clotheslines, he went for a bulldog, but Elias pushed him into the turnbuckle. Hardy with an elbow to the back followed by the Side Effect for a two count. The Bray Wyatt graphic appeared on the screen, but no sign of him and Hardy was distracted by it because even when you’ve wrestled for over 20 years, you are distracted by things easily. Elias capitalized with a running boot to the face and the Drift Away neckbreaker for the win after nine minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Elias

Analysis: *1/2 It was a basic match that wasn’t very interesting at all. Cheap win due to the Wyatt logo distraction. I figured Elias would win since WWE is trying to make him a big star.

Elias moves on as one of the six men in the Elimination Chamber match on February 25th.

Analysis: Does Elias have a chance to win? No. His name isn’t Roman Reigns.

After the match, the arena went dark and Bray Wyatt appeared on the screen laughing about what happened.

The Miz did a promo on his Instagram. Miz talked about how when he defends his Intercontinental Championship, he is owed a standing ovation much like the one Tom Brady is going to get when he crushes the Eagles. Cheap heat in Philly.

Miz vs. Reigns for the IC Title is up next.

The Total Divas season finale is this Wednesday. The teaser clip featured pregnant Maryse saying she is freaking out. I’m just glad I don’t have to see the commercials for it after this.

(Commercial)

There were promos from Sami Zayn/Becky Lynch and Braun Strowman/Alexa Bliss for Mixed Match Challenge on Tuesday. I totally forgot to review last week’s match. I will do both of them in the same post probably on Wednesday.

The announce team was at a makeshift table at ringside.

The Miz, who is the 8-time Intercontinental Champion, made his entrance for the title match. Miz had Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas with him with those guys dressed in suits. Coach was really sucking up to Miz like Graves does, so that’s two Miz supporters on commentary.

Roman Reigns entered to some loud boos from the crowd. Reigns was the runner-up in the Royal Rumble on Sunday. He has been the runner-up a few times in his career and he’s still going to main event WrestleMania again.

Intercontinental Championship: The Miz (w/Curtis Axel & Bo Dallas) vs. Roman Reigns

Reigns nailed Miz with punches early on. There’s not much room at ringside near the impromptu announce table. Miz got a boot to the face with Cole saying he can’t believe he was sitting beside two Miz fanboys. Reigns decked Miz with an uppercut punch. Reigns hit a clothesline that sent Miz over the top to the floor. Reigns sent Miz into the steel steps. When they went back in the ring, Reigns hit a clothesline that sent Miz over the top rope to the floor. Reigns grabbed a steel chair to make Axel and Dallas run away like cowards as they ran to the back. Reigns was tempted to hit Miz with a chair, but ref John Cone told Reigns not to do it, so Reigns threw the chair down. Reigns back in to break the count, Reigns back out and Miz sent Reigns face first into the ring post as the show went to break.

(Commercial)

Back from break, Miz slapped on the headlock. Reigns fought out of it with a Samoan Drop leading to cheers from the kids in the crowd. The two men exchanged punches, Reigns blocked a punch and hit Miz with multiple clotheslines. Reigns hit the clotheslines in the corner with Cole saying he loves when Reigns gets in that zone. So does Vince McMahon, pal. He really loves it.Reigns charged in, but Miz hit a shoulder tackle to the knee of Reigns to stop him. Miz hit his Miz kicks with fans chanting “yes” and “no” for it and Reigns blocked the final kick. Miz rolled through and slapped on the Figure Four Leglock. Reigns was screaming in pain. Reigns reversed the Figure Four Leglock and Miz got to the ropes. Miz blocked another Figure Four Leglock again with a rollup leading to a sitout Powerbomb for a two count. Good nearfall with the crowd buying that as a finish even though he never wins with that. Miz tried to take the cover off the turnbuckle, but the ref stopped him. Reigns went after Miz when he was against the turnbuckle, so the ref pushed Reigns back and Miz did an eye poke leading to a Skull Crushing Finale for two. Great nearfall there. The crowd thought that was it with Miz shocked that Reigns kicked out. Reigns charged and Miz sent Reigns into the steel ring post. Reigns nailed a Superman Punch for a two count. The fans were chanting “this is awesome” for them even though they were booing Reigns. Axel and Dallas went back to ringside. Reigns decked both guys with punches outside the ring. Reigns punched Miz. Reigns sent Miz into the ring. Reigns with a punch for Dallas, Superman Punch for Axel and Reigns hit a Spear on Dallas. Miz hit the ROLLUP OF DEATH~! for the pinfall win after 19 minutes.

Winner by pinfall: The Miz

Analysis: ***1/4 It was a very good match as usual from them. Similar to last week in a lot of ways. They did an excellent job of building up the nearfalls with the crowd buying into them even for moves that never win the matches. Reigns kicking out of the Skull Crushing Finale was a pretty good nearfall, though. It was no surprise that The Miz won the match. I would have bet on the ROLLUP OF DEATH~! finish being used as well because that’s the usual ending they use when somebody loses a match without taking a finisher. That’s what they do when they don’t want somebody to lose to a finishing move because it protects the loser. That ends Roman Reigns in the IC Title picture for a very long time because he’s probably going to be Universal Champion at WrestleMania.

Replays aired of Braun Strowman’s distraction from earlier in the night.

The announcers showed a tweet from Paul Heyman saying that when somebody wins Elimination Chamber, they get Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania.

Still to come: Balor vs. Cena in a Qualifying Match. That’s a big match that is likely the main event. Also Banks vs. Asuka.

The Revival made their entrance.

(Commercial)

The match began during the break.

Heath Slater & Rhyno vs. The Revival – Scott Dawson & Dash Wilder

Rhyno was working on Wilder and Slater tagged in with a double axehandle on Wilder. Running forearm by Slater on Wilder against the turnbuckle. Dawson provided a distraction, so Wilder took down Slater by the arm. Dawson hit a back suplex dropping Slater on the left arm. Wilder tagged in with a knee attack to Slater’s left arm followed by an armbar. Rhyno tried to fire up the crowd. Slater countered a suplex into a neckbreaker on Wilder. Rhyno got the tag from Slater and hit a back elbow followed by a shoulder block off the middle rope. Rhyno with a shoulder tackle followed by a belly to belly suplex. Slater punched Wilder out of the ring. Dawson with a chop block to the left knee of Rhyno. Wilder took out Slater on the floor. Back in the ring, double team Shatter Machine on Rhyno led to the pinfall win after four minutes.

Winners by pinfall: The Revival

Analysis: *1/4 It was an easy win for The Revival as they continue to win matches to help them gain more credibility as a team. Slater and Rhyno are together to put teams over, so that’s what they did. The Shatter Machine is one of my favorite finishing moves in WWE.

Dawson and Wilder were interviewed in-ring by Charly Caruso. Dawson asked her if they would compare to the legendary Graham Brothers with Caruso saying she’s not familiar with them. Wilder said just like these people, they don’t care because they are chanting “ECW” trying to get themselves over. Fans chanted “ECW” for them. Wilder said unlike the two of them, they learn from the past and these people can’t stop living it. The Revival song played to end it.

Analysis: A quick post match promo is a good way to continue to push their characters as old school tag team wrestlers that like to rip on the fans.

Still to come: Sheamus & Cesaro vs. Titus O’Neil & Apollo Crews for the Raw Tag Team Championships.

(Commercial)

There was a commercial for WrestleMania on April 8.

The video package aired for the latest inductees for the 2018 WWE Hall of Fame: The Dudley Boyz. The announcement was made earlier on Monday.

Analysis: They are one of the best tag teams ever with 9 Tag Team Title reigns in WWE (you could say 10 if you count the WCW reign that happened in WWE) and I believe the total is 24 Tag Team Title reigns around the world. They are a HOF team for sure. The video featured comments featuring various people in wrestling history from some old WWE video because you can tell the hairstyles of some of them are different. The video talked about their love of putting people through tables and hitting their famous 3D finisher. They finished up their last WWE run in 2016. D-Von works backstage in WWE as a producer for over a year now and Bubba Ray hosts the Busted Open Radio show. They also have two wrestling schools together.

The crowd cheered loudly at the end of the Dudleys video package. They join Goldberg as inductees in the Hall of Fame on April 6 in New Orleans, which is the Friday before WrestleMania. Tickets on sale now.

There was a Finn Balor cell phone promo with Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows behind him. Balor talked about lasting 57:38 in the Royal Rumble as the longest man in the match. Balor noted that the opportunity was taken away by John Cena, so now he has to step up to John Cena and step over him.

Analysis: That’s the second time in the show where a wrestler did a promo on a cell phone, so that’s probably going to be a regular thing with Raw in this new era with the new graphics.

Cena vs. Balor is up later.

Sasha Banks was interviewed by Renee Young. Banks said we are moments away from her defeating Asuka and she’s waited for this opportunity for two and a half years. Banks said that Asuka made history, but now it’s her turn.

Sasha Banks made her entrance.

(Commercial)

There were more images shown from the Royal Rumble.

Asuka made her entrance for this match with Banks.

Sasha Banks vs. Asuka

Asuka with a deep arm drag, but Banks held on leading to an armbar. Asuka took control with a back kick to the head followed by the running hip attack that knocked Banks off the apron onto the floor. Back in the ring, Asuka did some Japanese trash talk or maybe she said something friendly. I don’t know. Asuka slapped on an armbar. Banks came back with a kick followed by a double knee attack for two. Cole was screaming about it, but the crowd was quiet for it. They went to break after four minutes.

(Commercial)

The match returned with Asuka working over Banks with kicks, but Banks came back with double knees to the ribs against the turnbuckle for a two count. Banks grounded Asuka with a submission where she had her knee in the back of Asuka. Banks hit a suplex for a two count. Banks ran the ropes followed by a slap. Asuka nailed Banks with strikes, but Banks came back with a headscissors and Banks slapped on the Bank Statement submission. Asuka countered into a pin attempt for two. Banks slapped on the Bank Statement again with the crowd making no noise. Asuka went to the floor, Banks went for a dive and Asuka nailed Banks with a kick that sent Banks crashing to the floor. Back in the ring, Asuka with a stiff knee to the face followed by a spin kick and sliding knee. Asuka with a running hip attack against the turnbuckle. Asuka went up top with a missile dropkick. Banks got to the ropes to avoid a submission. Asuka went for a running dive, Banks ducked, held the ropes open and Asuka had a hard fall on the floor. Banks with a double knee attack on Asuka on the floor. Back in the ring, Banks with double knees off the top for a two count. Banks locked in the Bank Statement submission, but broke free and slapped on the Asuka Lock submission. Banks tapped out after 14 minutes to give Asuka the submission win.

Winner by submission: Asuka

Analysis: ***1/2 That was a very good match. The two women busted their ass to try to deliver a classic, but the crowd never got into it the way I thought they would. Some of the big spots drew reactions like the head kick by Asuka leading to Banks landing hard on the floor and when Asuka had a rough landing outside the ring. There wasn’t much of a reaction during the submission attempts by Banks, though. Maybe that’s because fans know there’s no way Asuka is going to lose on a thrown together match on Raw. That’s where you can tell if the crowd is into a match because they had no reaction to Asuka nearly losing. I’m not sure what the problem was with the crowd other than being tired after three straight nights there, but the effort by the women was there.

The replays aired of the key spots in the match including the rough landings. Cole called it an instant Raw classic. Cole was going over the top talking about what they accomplished in the last 24 hours. Cole was really pushing how great it was with how he was yelling, so you can tell he was being instructed to do it.

Analysis: The match was pretty good, but instant Raw classic is a bit much. They are just really pushing the women’s division really hard right now. Cole’s announcing was very annoying with how hard he was pushing it.

John Cena did a cell phone promo about losing the Royal Rumble and Cena said he’ll win Elimination Chamber to go to WrestleMania. Cena said he’s just getting started. He’s just getting started except when he takes breaks to film movies.

Titus O’Neil, Apollo Crews & Dana Brooke were shown backstage because they are up next.

(Commercial)

Sheamus and Cesaro, the new Raw Tag Team Champions for the fourth time, made their entrance.

Titus O’Neil and Apollo Crews were joined by their “statistician” Dana Brooke looking good in business attire. They get the title match because they beat Sheamus & Cesaro during the last two weeks on Raw.

Raw Tag Team Championships: Sheamus & Cesaro vs. Titus O’Neil & Apollo Crews (w/Dana Brooke)

When O’Neil and Crews were introduced, there was no crowd reaction. There was a bit of reaction for the champs at least.

Crews got a rollup on Sheamus for two. O’Neil tagged in and Cesaro beat on him with some forearms. O’Neil came back with chops followed by a toss across the ring, corner splash and Sheamus distracted. O’Neil slammed Cesaro, Sheamus blind tag, Sheamus hit O’Neil in the back with a forearm and kicked O’Neil out of the ring as they went to break.

(Commercial)

Back from break, O’Neil was still isolated from his partner as Sheamus hit him with a clothesline and Cesaro tagged in with a double clothesline. Cesaro grabbed a headlock on O’Neil. Sheamus tagged back in and sent O’Neil out of the ring. Cesaro tried a cheap attack, but O’Neil stopped him with a kick to the chest. O’Neil chopped Sheamus and then sent him sternum first into the top rope. Knee lift by Sheamus, but O’Neil came back with a clothesline. Crews got the hot tag against Cesaro with no reaction for Crews. Running kick by Crews, forearm by Crews and he went up top for a cross body block off the top. Crews showed off his athleticism a bit leading to a leaping clothesline as well as a standing Shooting Star Press. Sheamus tagged in and they did a spot where Sheamus hit a Powerbomb on Crews that looked like Crews was supposed to flip over with a hurricanrana. Crews was planted on his neck/head and it looked bad. Crews got back to his feet with a standing SSP on Sheamus for two. Cesaro sent Crews into the ring post. Cesaro and Sheamus hit a double team White Noise for the pinfall win after 11 minutes.

Winners by pinfall: Cesaro and Sheamus

Analysis: ** It was just an average match with the crowd dead for most of it. Crews showed off some incredible athleticism in the match and after he got up from that rough landing as if it was nothing it showed how tough he is. I would have liked to hear the crowd cheer him a bit more because he was busting his ass out there. It was no surprise that Sheamus and Cesaro got the win.

A graphic said Ronda Rousey “up next” even though she’s not there. But she’s on my banner for this review.

(Commercial)

There was a video package about Ronda Rousey at the Royal Rumble. It’s the same thing they aired at the start of the show 2 hours, 30 minutes ago.

The announcers talked about Rousey with Coachman saying he has witnessed Rousey in UFC and she’s a game changer for WWE.

They showed a tweet from Alexa Bliss about retaining the Women’s Title in the Elimination Chamber. There’s no time for her to do a quick interview? This show is three hours. Let people talk, WWE.

A replay aired of Braun Strowman’s destruction of Kane from earlier in the night.

Cole said that Kane sat up in the emergency room and crawled his way out of the hospital, he dragged himself to his feet and doctors tried to keep Kane from leaving, but Kane left and has not been scene.

Analysis: Look for him in Knox County. Maybe he’ll be driving a Diesel truck and stop by the dentist while he’s there.

The duo of Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows made their entrance to support their buddy Finn Balor.

Finn Balor made his entrance to a great ovation from the crowd because it’s hard for them to stay asleep for his entrance due to how fun it is. The match against Cena is next.

(Commercial)

This week on 205 Live there’s a new General Manager. They showed some tweets from cruiserweights suggesting who they want to be the GM of their show. No cruiserweights were on this show.

John Cena made his entrance to the usual mixed reaction with more cheers than boos it seems.

Finn Balor vs. John Cena

The match started at around 10:48pmET so they should get a solid amount of time.

Balor slapped on an armbar early. Fans did the “Let’s go Cena/Cena sucks” chant. Back to their feet, Balor with an arm drag into an armbar. Cena took down Balor with a side headlock. Very slow pace for the first five minutes of this match with nothing really happening. Balor got a two count on Cena leading to Cena bailing to the floor to take a bit of a break. Cena pointed at some fans in the crowd and then went back in the ring. The fans were not paying attention to the match because they were looking at something in the crowd and Cena was looking at it. There might have been a beach ball, so the guys did a test of strength spot. Fans chanted “asshole” at somebody in the crowd as Cena nailed a punch and the show went to break.

Analysis: There was nothing happening in those first seven minutes.

(Commercial)

They returned from break with Cena hitting a body slam. Cena whipped Balor hard into the turnbuckle two times in a row. Balor came back with a kick leading to a double stomp. Balor nailed Cena with a chop, but Cena came back with the vintage Cena two shoulder tackles and a spinning slam. Cena did the “you can’t see me” hand gesture, Balor avoided it and Balor did the same hand gesture leading to a reverse DDT for a two count. Balor and Cena got into a slugfest as they exchanged blows with the crowd getting into it. Cena with a kick to the face. Cena stood on Balor’s wrist followed by the fist drop that barely grazed Balor. Cena went for the Attitude Adjustment, Balor slipped out of it and hit a leaping kick for two. Balor took down Cena. When Cena got back to his feet, he nailed a charging Balor with a clothesline. Balor got his feet up to block an attack. Balor charged, Cena hoisted Balor onto his shoulders and hit the Attitude Adjustment for two as Balor got his shoulder up. Cena was selling frustration, the fans were booing him and Cena said to Coach: “I’m just trying to go to WrestleMania.” Cena up top, Balor with a running kick and Balor hit a dropkick that sent Cena into the turnbuckle. Balor up top, Balor jumped off with the Coup de Gras and Balor was favoring his left knee. Cena slapped on the STF submission hold. Balor crawled to the bottom rope to break the hold. Balor on the apron, Cena went after him and Balor hit a kick to the head. Balor up top, Cena went after him and Cena hit the Attitude Adjustment off the middle ropes for the pinfall victory after 19 minutes.

Winner by pinfall: John Cena

Analysis: ***1/4 The match was good and I like both guys, but the really slow pace in the first half of it made it feel like a 10 minute match instead of 19 minutes. There just wasn’t a lot that happened early on with rest holds they were doing. When they returned from the break, things got a little better as Balor showed some good babyface fire when he kicked out of the Attitude Adjustment and made the ropes during the STF attempt. I thought Balor should have had a few moments in there where people believed he was going to win. Balor did not his Coup de Gras finish, so maybe if he did that for a nearfall it would have helped. I thought Balor might win the match because he needs wins like that, but WWE went back with their guy and gave Cena the victory. I would have had Balor win, but this is WWE. They love that Cena guy.

The win means that Cena is going to be a part of the Elimination Chamber match on February 25.

Analysis: Will Cena win that match at Elimination Chamber? Nope. That’s Roman Reigns.

Cena posed in front of the fans. Cena kept telling them that he had to get it done because he needed to win to have a chance of going to WrestleMania.

Balor was helped to his feet by the referee. Balor looked dazed a bit after the loss, which is something he has done before, so maybe it’s some kind of concussion angle, but maybe it’s just good selling by him.

Cena celebrated the win while pointing to the WrestleMania sign (they sure love to do that) and that’s how Raw ended at 11:09pmET.

Analysis: The three men in Elimination Chamber so far are Cena, Elias and Strowman. I think the other three will be Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins and maybe Jason Jordan, but they could go with The Miz in there. I just think The Miz vs. Finn Balor feels like a good idea as a feud right now. Bray Wyatt probably won’t win since he cost Matt Hardy, so Matt will cost him against one of those guys.

 

Three Stars of the Show

  1. Braun Strowman
  2. Asuka
  3.  Sasha Banks

 

The Scoreboard

6 out of 10

Last week: 5

2018 Average: 5.5

Last 5 Weeks: 5, 5.5, 5, 6, 6.5

 

Final Thoughts

I give it a 6 out of 10.

It was a wrestling heavy show with Reigns/Miz, Asuka/Banks and Cena/Balor matches all getting a lot of time and hitting the three-star level, which is why I am going with a 6 out of 10. It just didn’t feel like a show with much in the way of story development and there was not a lot of interest in the crowd.

I gave my first star to Strowman because it was another week where he was pushed strongly in the first hour (which usually has the most viewers every week) and did another of his feats of strength to make him stand out to the fans, which led to a huge ovation for him.

There wasn’t much talking or angle development. A lot of people probably tuned in expecting to see Ronda Rousey there, but she wasn’t there and they just showed the same video package about her twice. There weren’t many comments from Stephanie McMahon about it expect to say that Rousey was a part of WWE.

I thought Jonathon Coachman did well with Cole and Graves. There were a few moments where they argued a bit, but not nearly as much as when Booker was there. Cole was a little more annoying than usual with the yelling during the women’s match.

The next WWE Raw PPV is Elimination Chamber on February 25. Here’s what we know so far.

Men’s Elimination Chamber Match for a Universal Championship Match at WrestleMania: Braun Strowman vs. Elias vs. John Cena vs. three others.

Women’s Elimination Chamber Match for the Raw Women’s Championship: Alexis Bliss vs. five opponents.

That’s all for this week. See ya next time for the Smackdown review.

Go Toronto Raptors and Toronto Maple Leafs.

You can contact me using any of the methods below. Thanks for reading.

John Canton

Email: mrjohncanton@gmail.com

Twitter: @johnreport

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