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Five Stars From @WWE #RAW (2/26/18): Roman Reigns, Miz, Asuka & More!

WWE Raw was live from Anaheim, California last night. Most of the show centered around fall out from Sunday night’s Elimination Chamber. I wrote a short post about Ronda Rousey’s contract signing yesterday, but the main takeaway from the Chamber is that we’re inching our way towards WrestleMania. Alexa Bliss is still the women’s champ, The Bar are still tag champs and Roman Reigns is the new #1 contender for the Universal title. Let’s get to the five stars!

Average Nobodies note: make sure to follow us on Twitter – @averagenobodies and like us on Facebook – Facebook.com/AverageNobodies. We love talking pro wrestling, so you can comment on this post or reach out to us on social media if you want to join the discussion. You can also find all of our wrestling content by clicking the ‘wrestling’ tab under the banner on our home page.

5. Alexa Bliss

Raw opened with women’s champ Alexa Bliss and her best friend (?) Mickie James gloating about her win in the first ever women’s elimination chamber. Bliss cut a masterful promo after her win on Sunday, playing the crowd like a fiddle and eventually stomping on their dreams. I think Sunday night was Bliss’s best overall performance on the main roster. She won the match with a combination of resourcefulness and true wrestling skill, and then finished it off with a great promo.

Her promo last night wasn’t as good as Sunday’s, but it was effective. It worked so well because everything she said was true. She did win the first ever women’s elimination chamber, and she did win it on her own. Mickie James is apparently her best friend now, but she was already out of the match by the time Alexa entered. Alexa moved on to talk about breaking Asuka’s streak at WrestleMania, which brought out the Empress. Thankfully WWE didn’t have Asuka try to match Bliss on the mic, and hopefully they realized Asuka’s facial expressions and body language have more impact than any promo.

Bliss turned full heel once Asuka got into the ring. She made fun of Asuka’s poor English skills, which is not as easy as it sounds. Alexa could have easily crossed the line from arrogant and conceited to offensive and insensitive. I personally don’t think it went too far, and it got the crowd firmly on the side of Asuka. Alexa also laid the perfect trap, as Nia Jax came out to attack Asuka 3 on 1. Alexa Bliss continues to be a smart, sophisticated heel.

4. Multiple Stories For The Women’s Division!

Bayley and Sasha Banks ran down to help out Asuka which gave us our first match of the night, playa. It wasn’t the most exciting match in the world, but I appreciate them advancing multiple stories. Bayley and Sasha are destined to blow the roof off of the Super Dome as WrestleMania. After Sasha eliminated Bayley from the Rumble and Lion King’d her at Elimination Chamber, Bayley bailed on her last night. The back and forth betrayal could get monotonous for the next five weeks, but you know the pay off match will be awesome.

Even though Alexa is champ, Nia and Asuka are the two most dangerous women on the roster. They proved that again in this match, with Nia bull dozing people and Asuka picking up the win. Alexa/Nia/Asuka vying for the women’s title and Sasha/Bayley in a grudge match feud are two very good stories for the women on the Road to WrestleMania.

3. Seth Rollins & The Miz

Before the Rollins/Miz match, Miz was given a microphone. 99 out of 100 times that’s a good thing, and last night was no exception. Miz is forcing the IC title to be relevant through his performance, which makes guys like Rollins and Balor wanting the belt feel like a real thing. It’s not just a guy wanting a championship because that’s what you’re supposed to do. It’s a guy wanting a championship because it’s an important part of your most important show.

Onto the match. Has anyone had a better 7 day in ring stretch than Seth Rollins? He wrestled for 60+ minutes last Monday, killed it in the Elimination Chamber and then had a fantastic match last night against Miz. The Miz is such a great bad guy that he gives almost every match he’s in an old school heel/face dynamic. Rollins has had a hell of a week and is super easy to root for, but when you add in the fact that you want to see The Miz get his ass kicked, it makes the match that much more enjoyable.

Rollins is aces in the ring right now, and watching him fly around taking out Miz, Axel and Dallas was a delight. As happy as I am that the curb stomp is back, he should start getting some pins with the top rope suplex into the falcon arrow. That’s such a crowd pleasing move, but it loses a little bit of it’s luster when you know the guy is going to always kick out.

This was a great match though, and I only have one minor complaint. Having challengers beat the champion so the challenger can face the champion again is a weird trope. The roster is too deep for that to consistently happen. Miz/Rollins was great, but I’d rather see Seth beat other guys to earn a title shot instead of beating the champ in a non title match. It’s a weirder story, and takes away from the eventual title match.

2. Roman Reigns

Roman Reigns is almost the perfect wrestler. He’s consistently good to great in the ring, has a believable look and CAN be good on the microphone. Every good Roman Reigns promo has a natural feel to it. His best one to date was a five word promo on the Raw after WrestleMania last year. Last night’s was a close second. If you look at Reigns, you know right off the bat that everything he says should be quick and impactful. He doesn’t need clever writers. He’s a 6’3 bad ass Samoan with wrestling royalty in his blood. If he’s going to speak, there should be a point to it. Last night he had a point to make, and he made it well.

WWE was advertising a face-off between Lesnar and Reigns all day. Lesnar was scheduled to be there and the face-off was in the script, but Lesnar never appeared. I’ll leave the speculation to the internet, but this worked out perfectly for Reigns. For the first time in a long time, he felt like an actual person instead of a first draft of a character.

He spoke with intent and purpose and whether this was a heavily scripted promo or not, there was some absolute truth behind it. It’s not secret Lesnar is an asshole, and that he only works for the money, and that he only cares about himself. I don’t know if I’d go so far as to say Reigns doesn’t respect Lesnar, but I would not be surprised if he doesn’t like him.

Reigns speaking with a fiery passion is such an easy guy to root for. He’s already great in the ring and has a bad ass look. If you remind people that he actually loves what he does and cares about the business and fans once in awhile, the fans will respond. When’s the last time you heard more cheers than boos during a Reigns promo? Well it happened last night, and the best part about it was that it was earned. If WWE sticks with Reigns vs. Lesnar at WrestleMania, I guarantee you Reigns enters as the fan favorite.

1. Ronda Rousey, Slow Burn

The main event of last night’s show was Ronda Rousey and Kurt Angle explaining their actions from Sunday night. The whole Kurt Angle/pneumonia/hallucinating story is silly, but I thought Rousey was very good here. She was much more confident on the mic, and that’s because her material was better. Ronda Rousey isn’t a character. She’s an actual real life bad ass. I understand having her explain this is her dream and she’s happy to be in the WWE. But I’m much more interested in the ‘I will rip your arm out of your socket’ Ronda Rousey.

The good news is that this will definitely lead to Angle and Rousey vs. HHH/Stephanie. HHH and Stephanie are experts at being dick bags, so it won’t be hard for the crowd to get behind Rousey. Let’s just hope Kurt Angle remembers not to blankly stare at the ceiling when HHH is around:

-Ryan

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Ronda Rousey Kicked Some Ass At #WWEChamber

The Raw brand had their final stop on the road to WrestleMania last night. WWE Elimination Chamber was a really enjoyable show featuring both a men’s and women’s chamber match. Alexa Bliss successfully defended the Women’s championship while Roman Reigns outlasted Braun Strowman to become the #1 contender for the Universal title. We predicted both of those things. My favorite part of the show wasn’t a match, though. It was Ronda Rousey being a bad ass.

Ronda Rousey Contract Signing

Kurt Angle, HHH and Stephanie McMahon were all in the ring to welcome Rousey aboard. After a Rousey promo, business immediately picked up. Kurt Angle was ushered out of the ring, Rousey and Steph went to nose nose, HHH was thrown through a table and Stephanie slapped the hell out of Rousey. The crowd loved it, because Rousey should always be kicking ass instead of cutting promos. I enjoyed it for that reason, as well as WWE remembering their history. Rousey, Steph, HHH and The Rock had an altercation at WrestleMania 31. There’s obviously still some unfinished business there, and I’m glad WWE is keeping that story line going. Also, it’s a smart move to have Rousey work with Steph and HHH instead of immediately inserting her into the women’s title picture. You want the crowd to be on Rousey’s side, and it’d be too easy for them to turn on her if she’s forced into something.

This was a great ‘official’ introduction for Rousey, and perfectly planted the seeds for a mixed tag WrestleMania match. Kurt Angle is the most likely partner for Rousey, which should be a lot of fun.

-Ryan

Your Average WWE Elimination Chamber Preview & Predictions #WWEChamber

WWE Elimination Chamber

After a successful Royal Rumble, the Raw brand will make their final stop on the road to WrestleMania at Elimination Chamber. Sunday’s show is co-headlined by a men’s and a women’s Elimination Chamber match. The winner of the men’s match moves on to face Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania for the Universal title. Alexa Bliss will be defending her women’s title inside the chamber, which is the biggest possible champion’s disadvantage I can think of. Let’s get to the preview and predictions!

Average Nobodies note: make sure to follow us on Twitter – @averagenobodies and like us on Facebook – Facebook.com/AverageNobodies. We love talking pro wrestling, so you can comment on this post or reach out to us on social media if you want to join the discussion. You can also find all of our wrestling content by clicking the ‘wrestling’ tab under the banner on our home page.

Ronda Rousey Contract Signing

Ronda Rousey will officially sign her WWE contract Sunday night. I’ve already given my take on the Rousey-WWE partnership, but I don’t have a clue what they have planned here. The only thing I can think if some type of confrontation with Stephanie McMahon. The rest of the Raw women’s division will be preoccupied with their matches, so I don’t expect any of them to get involved. Plus, the plan seems to be Rousey and a partner vs. HHH/Stephanie at WrestleMania, even though everyone online loves to complain about Rousey getting a title shot at the big show. There’s been no indication of that and it wouldn’t make sense with Asuka/Nia Jax already in the title picture. Hopefully the Las Vegas crowd gives Ronda a deserving applause, and we get a peek at what’s next for the Rowdy one.

‘Woken’ Matt Hardy vs. Bray Wyatt

What’s the opposite of exciting? A piece of wood? This Matt Hardy vs. Bray Wyatt has been the wrestling equivalent of a piece of wood. That’s not pessimism, either. That’s just reality. I’m a huge Wyatt fan, and ‘Broken’ Matt Hardy was one of the most unique wrestlers in recent memory, but their feud has been bad. It’s been made up of short matches, dueling backstage promos and laugh off’s. All those wary of a Hardy/Wyatt feud when Hardy was still in TNA have been proven right, because WWE creative is basically Vincent Adultman when it comes to giving Wyatt something meaningful to do. Need an example? Watch the link I added in above. THAT is the build to their match at Elimination Chamber.

This feud is dead in the water, so I think it’s time to move on to something interesting. Let Wyatt beat Hardy, turning him from ‘Woken’ to ‘Broken’ (since he now owns the rights to that character). Let them team up and form a revamped version of the Broken Universe from TNA. This would ideally give them a better storyline than they have now and add a fresh tag team to the stale as hell Raw tag division.

Prediction: Bray Wyatt

Asuka vs. Nia Jax

While this could be viewed as a throw away match, it actually has a lot going to for it. If Nia Jax wins, she joins the Raw women’s title match at WrestleMania. In addition, Asuka’s winning streak will be in the most danger it’s ever been in on the main roster. These two have fought in NXT and on Raw, so you know they can have quality matches together. Nia is the only woman on the roster that forces Asuka to fight from underneath, and it’s always fun to watch Asuka adapt. Asuka might be quicker and more experienced, but Nia’s strength makes up for it.

This match is a tough call. The better story for WrestleMania would feature Alexa and Nia in some kind of title match. You also don’t want to end Asuka’s historic streak right before she has her first title match at WrestleMania. With Nia ambushing Asuka on Raw, I could see this ending in a double count out with both women brawling on the outside. I’m not a fan of ending pay per view matches like that, but these two still have a lot of story to tell.

Prediction: Double count out

Tag Team Title Match: The Bar vs. Titus Worldwide

The only downside to the incredible two hour gauntlet match on Raw was it left little time to build up other storylines for Elimination Chamber. One of those storylines is the tag titles, which hasn’t been interesting in far too long. The Bar have been fighting Titus and/or Apollo (Crews no more) for what feels like the entirety of 2018. Sometimes The Bar come out on top, sometimes Titus Worldwide wins. I guess that was enough for Titus Worldwide to get a title shot, which is fine, but not overly exciting. The tag team division needs a hard reset, and I think teams like The Revival and a Hardy/Wyatt partnership could help things. It wouldn’t make sense for The Bar to lose their titles before WrestleMania, especially when Titus Worldwide haven’t been built up as legitimate challengers.

Prediction: The Bar

Women’s Elimination Chamber


Mark it on your calendar, folks. The first ever women’s elimination chamber match is this Sunday, and it’s time for them to make history.
Sasha Banks, Bayley, Mickie James, Mandy Rose, Sonja Deville and Alexa Bliss all vie for the Raw Women’s Championship in a grueling every woman for herself match inside 60 million pounds of steel. Or however many pounds Michael Cole says these days. I was there for the first ever women’s Hell in a Cell match and those ladies delivered. There’s no doubt in my mind they will do it again on the road to WrestleMania. Expect a stable alignment, some star making spots and possibly an unexpected pin from Mandy Rose and/or Sonja Deville. I highly doubtful either of them walks out the new champ, though.

Personally I’d like to see a strong showing out of Mickie James. Think of this as a resume builder for her eventual Hall of Fame induction. Bonus points if she lands a Mick Kick at any point.
The main story here is between Bayley, Sasha Banks and Alexa Bliss. The bond between Bayley and Banks will continue to crack, and ultimately lead to the ever opportunistic Alexa Bliss retaining her title. That sets up a collision course with Asuka (and possibly Nia Jax) at the grandest stage of them all. More importantly, all the women will leave this match with their stars shining brighter than ever before as the women’s revolution continues to destroy barriers.

Prediction: Alexa Bliss

Men’s Elimination Chamber

This is the first ever Elimination Chamber match with seven participants. Other than that, the rules remain the same. Two men will begin the match, with a new man allowed to enter from their pod every five minutes. Miz will be the first entrant, while Elias will be the last. The winner of the match will challenge Brock Lesnar for the Universal title at WrestleMania.

This match is similar to the Royal Rumble odds system. While there are 7 men in the match, not all of them have the same odds of winning. I think you can count out Rollins, Balor, Elias & Miz. Rollins had his star making performance on Raw, and while I think he puts on a show again Sunday, I would be shocked if he won. Elias is a definite star in the making, but I can’t imagine putting him in the main event of WrestleMania just yet. Miz and Balor would be the perfect heel/face dynamic feud for the IC title at WrestleMania, so I hope that’s the route they go with those two. If WWE can find a way to develop that feud within the chamber, that would be ideal.

That leaves us with Cena, Strowman and Reigns. Before I scare you: no, I do not think John Cena is winning. Based on Monday’s gauntlet match, I do think he and Reigns will be the final two. Only Reigns and Cena didn’t pick up a win in the gauntlet, while the other five guys were allowed their time to shine. Plus, if Reigns is going to win, it would make sense for him to beat Cena last, who is the only guy crowds want to see win less than Reigns.

The Potential Winners

If you’re a wrestling fan on the internet, chances are you’ve seen the rumors for the last 9 months that WWE wants Reigns/Lesnar at Mania. In a snow globe, the rematch from WrestleMania 31 sounds awesome. Reigns and Lesnar beat the crap out of each other in that match, and Reigns is always at his best when he’s tested physically. If that’s the route WWE chooses to go, people will be mad, but it’s not the worst option. It’s also not the best option. Outside of that Reigns/Lesnar snow globe is the most popular man in WWE, the mother f’ing Monster Among Men, Braun Strowman.

If you’ve been watching WWE pretty much any time over the past year, you know this is Braun Strowman’s time. He’s one of the most physically gifted men WWE has ever had, and he’s improving each and every week. He’s good enough on the microphone with his short, impactful promos and crowds are literally giddy whenever he shows up. I can’t remember a time when a man was this ready for his moment, but Strowman should 100% be in the main event of WrestleMania. Just like Reigns and Lesnar, Braun and Brock match up perfectly from a physicality standpoint. And if Braun wins? That would set up future title feuds with Reigns, Rollins, Balor, Cena, Samoa Joe, etc. While he would technically be ‘the guy’, the roster is so deep he wouldn’t have to carry ANY of those feuds.

Because WWE loves to torture it’s fans, Reigns will enter the chamber as the favorite, but Braun should be the winner.

Prediction: Head – Roman Reigns. Heart – Braun Strowman

-Ryan

Five Stars From #WWE #RAW (2/19/18): Next Stop, Elimination Chamber

WWE Raw was live last night for their final stop before Sunday’s Elimination Chamber pay per view. Two hours of the three hour show featured a 7 man gauntlet match with the members of the men’s Elimination Chamber match. Hour three consisted of poor Asuka trying to cut a WWE style promo, The Bar vs. Titus Worldwide AGAIN and a 6 women tag match. Needless to say, hours one and two were much better than hour three. Let’s get to the five stars, including a historic night for Seth Rollins.

Average Nobodies note: make sure to follow us on Twitter – @averagenobodies and like us on Facebook – Facebook.com/AverageNobodies. We love talking pro wrestling, so you can comment on this post or reach out to us on social media if you want to join the discussion. You can also find all of our wrestling content by clicking the ‘wrestling’ tab under the banner on our home page.

5-2 The Gauntlet Match

Seth Rollins

Raw started off with Seth Rollins vs. Roman Reigns in the first of six consecutive matches. Over an hour later, Rollins was still wrestling. His performance went from enjoyable to engrossing to record setting. Rollins is one of the best wrestlers/athletes on either roster, so watching him shine last night was wonderful. You know you’re having a great night when you pin both Reigns and Cena and that’s the last thing people are talking about. Rollins and Reigns have great chemistry, and they set the pace with last night’s show opener.

Cena/Rollins started a little bit slower, but once the near falls started popping up the crowd was super into it. I loved the roll through AA spot from Rollins, and this was one of the most human performances from Cena in a long time. John tends to still try to wrestle like super human Cena, but he’s much more enjoyable when he’s wrestling vulnerable.

The night belonged to Rollins though, who showed the best character work of his career. Imagine if THIS was the Seth Rollins we got when he was the champion instead of relying on J & J Security and Kane to win matches? I wasn’t sure if he could pull off the gutsy baby face role, but if you have doubts after last night you’re a crazy person. He gets compared to HBK from time to time, but this is the first time I saw some similarities in their character and in ring work. Fantastic stuff from Rollins.

Finn Balor & Miz

After Rollins was finally eliminated by Elias, Finn Balor entered the gauntlet. Balor and Elias are two of the best mid card guys in WWE, so it wasn’t a surprise that they had a solid match. Balor picked up the win, as he should have, and then was sneak attacked by Miz. I’m glad that Elias and Miz solidified themselves as the heels in the gauntlet match. After Rollins beat Cena, Elias rushed the ring and immediately attacked Rollins. It was a heel move, but also a logical one, because by that point Rollins was running on fumes. After Balor won a hard fought match against Elias,

Miz had Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel distract Balor while Miz attacked him from behind. Miz and Balor would be my dream IC title match at WM, and I was a little surprised Gallows and Anderson weren’t out there to help Balor. If they do fight again at Mania, Balor Club vs. Miz-Tourage would be a fun secondary story.

Once the match got going it was a lot of fun, and Balor fires up better than most guys. I loved the spot when he took out Dallas and Axel with a flip to the outside, and he was seconds away from beating Miz. Ultimately the numbers game was too much, as Axel and Dallas stopped Finn from hitting the Coup De Grace. That allowed Miz to recover and hit the Skull Crushing Finale for the win. I liked that decision for two reasons. 1. Miz won, but needed the help of the Miz-Tourage to do it. That could/should lead to Balor getting a shot at the IC title after the Elimination Chamber. 2. It set up Miz vs. Strowman, with everyone in the universe wanting to see Strowman destroy some human beings. It also produced this great GIF of Miz realizing his fate:

BRAUNNNNN

The final gauntlet match of Strowman vs. Miz was another great showcase for Braun. It began with Braun chasing down the Miz in a legitimately disturbing feat of quickness and ended with numerous power slams. If that’s the way every Strowman match ended from now until the end of time, I’d be OK with that. I thought having Braun enter the gauntlet last was perfect, as it allowed Rollins, Elias, Balor and Miz to do their thing without compromising the monster among men. Plus, the crowd knew he was coming eventually, and when he finally did appear, they were hot as hell for it. Braun also got to cut a quick, precise promo on the Elimination Chamber and Lesnar. It was perfect, and he followed it up with a few more power slams to the delight of the crowd.

If you needed more proof that Braun is ready for the title, watch his segment last night. There is no one even close to him right now, and if WWE pulls the trigger and puts him vs. Lesnar at Mania, they’re going to have a lot of happy fans. Unfortunately, I think having Reigns and Cena be the only two to not win a match in the gauntlet was done by design. I’ll get into this more in my Elimination Chamber preview, but I’ll be shocked if the final two in the chamber aren’t Roman and Cena.

1. Main Event

The 6 women tag main event featuring the participants in the first ever women’s Elimination Chamber was a good prequel for Sunday’s match. I thought Sasha, Bayley, Mandy and Sonya looked the best, and I’m glad there are multiple story lines that will exist within the chamber match. Everyone knows the chamber is every women for themselves, but it’s good to have to friendships and alliances that exist between the competitors. Sonya and Mandy are apart of Absolution; Bayley and Sasha are long time friends; Mickie and Alexa have struck up an unlikely friendship over the past few weeks.

That’s three different storylines within the match. I don’t foresee Mandy and Sonya having a chance to turn on each other, but I cant’ say for same for the other two alliances. Bayley and Sasha are friends now, but they were heated rivals in NXT. Mickie and Alexa are new found friends, but it’s clear Alexa is using Mickie so she has some type of backup in the chamber. Plus, Mickie has a history of ulterior motives, especially when it comes to winning championship gold.

The women didn’t have a ton of time with the men’s gauntlet match going two hours, but I enjoyed the tag match as a build towards the chamber match.

-Ryan

 

Five Stars From #WWE #Raw (2/5/18): Asuka, Miz, Elias & More!

WWE Raw was live last night from Des Moines, Iowa. John Cena vs. Elias vs. Braun Strowman was the main event. Asuka took on Bayley in an NXT women’s championship rematch, plus there were two more Elimination Chamber qualifying bouts. Let’s get to the five stars!

Average Nobodies note: make sure to follow us on Twitter – @averagenobodies and like us on Facebook – Facebook.com/AverageNobodies. We love talking pro wrestling, so you can comment on this post or reach out to us on social media if you want to join the discussion. You can also find all of our wrestling content by clicking the ‘wrestling’ tab under the banner on our home page.

5. No One Is Ready For Asuka

WWE LOVES to give wrestlers catchphrases. John Cena says ‘you can’t see me’. Roman Reigns says the ring is ‘his yard’. Asuka’s most famous one is ‘no one is ready for Asuka’ and it’s probably the most accurate catchphrase in WWE history. Asuka retired as the undefeated NXT women’s champion, and she’s kept that streak going while on Raw. She literally hasn’t lost a match since debuting, which was in OCTOBER OF 2015. Last week she had a sensational match against Sasha Banks and followed it up with another strong win over Bayley.

This is the best Bayley has looked in awhile, and I’m glad Asuka took Bayley seriously in this match. Bayley has never defeated Asuka, but she’s come close twice, so Asuka was not messing around here. There were a ton of hard kicks and strikes, but Bayley hung around and put in a valiant effort. Asuka won in the end, because no one is ready for Asuka.

After the match Asuka shook Bayley’s hand, bringing their feud full circle. Fantastic character work.

4. The Miz vs. Apollo Crews

The second elimination chamber qualifying match (the first being Reigns vs. Wyatt which we will not speak of) saw Miz take on Apollo Crews. Before the match Miz cut a great promo, because at this point he’s incapable of doing anything else. Miz is the master of bringing up something factual but twisting it just enough to make him look like a jerk.

For example, he talked about how Raw 25 had the best ratings in three years (true) and the sole reason for that was him (not true). It’s part factual part braggadocios, and he tip toes that line wonderfully. He also talked about his daughter being born right around WrestleMania (true) while making sure the focus is still on him by saying his daughter will be born just in time to see him become the dual IC/Universal champ.

The match that followed was a great example of how Miz’s in ring skills have caught up with his mic skills. Miz understands that he only looks good beating Apollo Crews if Crews looks good in defeat. Apollo is stronger and faster than Miz, and he used those attributes to his advantage to score a few near falls on the IC champ. Miz’s main advantage is his experience, so when Crews went for one high risk move too many, Miz hung him up on the ropes. One Skull Crushing Finale later and Miz is in the Elimination Chamber match while Crews looked legit in defeat.

3. Jason Jordan Ruins Everything

Before Raw went on the air, Kurt Angle announced Jordan & Rollins would challenge The Bar for the tag titles. The stipulation was that if Jordan/Rollins lose, they’ll never get another shot at the titles as long as The Bar are champs. While Jordan reassured Rollins he’d be OK to wrestle, he backed out last minute (he is actually injured). Luckily for Rollins, Roman Reigns was able to step in and replace Jordan.

Reigns and Rollins had a good match going with The Bar until Jordan showed up at ringside. Reigns shooed him away to the back, but Jordan stuck around to temporarily block The Bar from bailing on the match. Unfortunately for Reigns and Rollins, Jordan took Cesaro’s bait and punched him, causing a DQ and allowing The Bar to retain.

I truly believe Jason Jordan is hitting his role out of the park. It sucks that he’s injured and we can’t watch him wrestle every week, but his character has continued to improve. He plays the entitled do gooder so well, and the writers continue to find unique ways for him to get involved while continuing to piss of Rollins and Reigns. Plus, The Bar holds on to the tag belts, and hopefully they’ll now move onto a fresh team.

2. Nia Jax

Nia Jax had herself quite a night. First, Kurt Angle announced that she would take on Asuka at Elimination Chamber. If Nia defeats Asuka, she will be added to the match of whichever title Asuka decides to go after at WM. She also got a nice squash win over poor Vanessa Floyd. I’m not sure why WWE doesn’t utilize these squash wins more often, but they always seem to work. Nia is a monster with a big match coming up at Elimination Chamber, so why not feed her a few easy wins and make her look like a star? They’re already doing that with Asuka beating Sasha and Bayley back to back weeks, so hopefully Nia continues to look good so their match at Elimination Chamber has the ‘either women can win’ type feel.

1. The Main Event

The main event was a ‘winner enters Elimination Chamber last’ match which I really enjoyed. The WWE has three weeks until the Chamber, so having these type of matches with a consequence attached to it is great for the build up. Too often they’ll just have the guys who will be in the chamber fight each other for no reason other than they’ll be in the same match at the PPV. Putting together this match gives each guy a reason to fight with a game plan and a sense of urgency. That’s why Cena and Elias teamed up to take out Strowman early on. They knew if they didn’t, chances are Strowman would take them both out and win the match.

I thought the finish was good too, because it gives Elias the technical advantage of entering last while reinforcing that Braun is still the most dangerous guy regardless of when he enters. I don’t know how many times WWE can give Strowman these title opportunities and not pull the trigger, but he’s ready to be the top guy. The crowd loves him, he’s turning into a super worker and has a different vibe than almost anyone else. While it’s great that he continues to dominate, eventually it’s not going to be enough that he dominates and loses. If Reigns is still the guy they want to dethrone Lesnar, Strowman needs to be the first guy up after that.

-Ryan

Five Stars From #WWE #RAW (1/29/18): Road To The Elimination Chamber

WWE Raw was live from Philly last night, the same site of NXT TakeOver & the Royal Rumble. WWE LOVES to talk about the ‘E’ in their name standing for entertainment. It’s true, and entertaining the fans is a major part of their success. Last night they focused on the second ‘W’, which stands for wrestling, and turned in one of their best shows in awhile. They have such a strong roster from a wrestling standpoint that I’m surprised they don’t do more shows like this. There were seven matches last night and almost all of them served a purpose, which is all you can ask for on a three hour wrestling show. Let’s get to the five stars!

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Braun Strowman, Forever & Ever

I feel like I type Braun Strowman’s name a lot in these posts, but it’s for a good reason. Braun and Lesnar duked it out for real at the Rumble and he was ready to cause more destruction last night. He fought Kane in a Last Man Standing match, which is pretty self explanatory. The only rule is that you win by beating your opponent so badly they stay down for a 10 count. Braun understands the rules of the match (which doubled as an Elimination Chamber qualifier) and beat the shit out of Kane. To ensure Kane wouldn’t get up, Braun flipped the entire announcing stage, table and all, on top of Kane. Braun flipping large objects continues to be one of my favorite things, and we even got this hysterical image out of it:

There was an was odd exchange backstage where Kurt Angle was yelling at Braun for trying to kill Kane. Even though Angle is the one who put them in a LAST MAN STANDING match. What was he supposed to do? Sit on his chest for 10 seconds and hope he doesn’t get up? If you put Braun in that kind of match, two things are going to happen. 1. Something large is going to get flipped and 2. Braun will be the one walking away.

2. Women’s Elimination Chamber

One night after the amazing inaugural women’s Rumble, Stephanie McMahon announced the first ever women’s Elimination Chamber. That’s great news for everyone except Alexa Bliss, who will have to defend her title inside the structure. The announcement opened Raw, and also gave Asuka a spotlight to enjoy her Rumble victory. I doubt she’ll be in the chamber match since she’s already the #1 contender, but I’m excited to see who earns a spot.

Reigns vs. Miz

Roman Reigns and Miz had a rematch of their very good IC title match at Raw 25. The rematch was very good, but the finish wasn’t as creative. I did like that they played off their match last week, with Miz trying to remove the middle turnbuckle again. The ref caught him this time, but Miz was still able to retain thanks to distractions from the Miz-tourage. While the distraction finish is stale as hell, I do enjoy Miz winning by pitting his strengths against Reigns’ weaknesses.

Miz’s greatest strength is the numbers game, while Reigns is the prototypical lone wolf. Technically he’s in The Shield, but he and Rollins haven’t been together in a while. Plus, he just eliminated Rollins in the rumble. While Reigns can get by on his own most of the time, Miz is just good and crafty enough to eek out a win. The crowd was super into this match as well, which always helps. Now that Reigns has lost two weeks in a row and failed to win the rumble, he’ll probably win every match for the rest of the year (not kidding).

Asuka vs. Sasha – Match of the Night

In a night full of great pro wrestling, Sasha Banks and Asuka stood above everyone. This was easily Asuka’s best main roster match, and Sasha’s best match in a long time. This really had everything. Submissions, counters, cringe worthy strikes, near falls and Sasha Banks trying to murder herself:

The move itself got saved because Asuka was countering the dive with a kick, but Jesus Christ, Sasha. She very rarely hits that move clean and she’s either overshooting it and folding herself in half or getting her foot caught in the ropes and almost decapitating herself. Sasha is way too good a performer to keep trying that move, and I’m sure she can come up something safer. I really loved this match and it put Sasha and Asuka on another level as in ring performers. I know Bliss is the champ and she’s a great character, but nobody tells a story in the ring like these two. It came down to Asuka being too talented and too resilient for Sasha, which is a lethal combination. No one is ready for Asuka.

Cena vs. Balor

John Cena took on Finn Balor in the main event. It was an elimination chamber qualifying match, and these two capped off a great night of in ring work. Balor is so solid, and he tows the line perfectly of delivering believable offense while making Cena’s moves look great. Balor put up a hell of a fight, and was only defeated when Cena hit his top rope AA. If you factor in Balor going almost an hour in the rumble last night and that he fought JOHN CENA, it makes a little bit of sense. That’s the glass half full theory.

Now, let’s talk the logical theory. I don’t like Cena beating Balor at all. I honestly don’t know what this accomplishes, especially if Cena isn’t winning the chamber match. Balor just had a memorable night in the rumble, so they follow that up by having John Cena beat him clean? It’s the same illogical booking as having Balor beat Styles in a MOTY candidate at TLC and then losing to Kane the next night on Raw. ESPECIALLY since he and the Balor Club had their ‘pass the torch’ moment with DX last week.

There’s still three Raw’s to go before Elimination Chamber, so maybe Balor still gets in, and I say that because who else would take his spot? There are three slots left, with one presumably going to Reigns. Who takes the final two? Samoa Joe is hurt. Dean Ambrose is hurt. Seth Rollins and Jason Jordan weren’t even on Raw. Kane? Apollo Crews? If you want Cena in the match, fine. Throw big match John in there. But to put him in there at the expense of Balor is insane. I hate it and it stinks.

Other notes

Elias beat Matt Hardy to earn a spot in the Elimination Chamber. Yay for Elias and silent indifference for the dead in the water Hardy/Wyatt feud.

The Coach (Jonathan Coachman) replaced Booker T on commentary. A piece of wood would have been better than Booker, but Coach was great last night. I’m excited for him moving forward.

The Revival beat Heath Slater & Rhyno. Let’s hope Raw 25 was just a tiny bump in the road for the best tag team on the main roster.

The Bar retained the tag belts in fun match against Titus O’Neil and Apollo Crews. Apollo got a chance to shine and took advantage of it. His move set is so dynamic that I’m not sure he isn’t spotlighted more often, but it was great to see last night.

The Dudley Boyz are the newest inductees into the WWE Hall of Fame. Congrats to Bubba Ray & Devon.

-Ryan

Bray Wyatt Won The Elimination Chamber & Is Your New WWE Champion #WWEChamber

If you didn’t catch last night’s Elimination Chamber pay per view, you missed out on a landmark moment for one of WWE’s rising star and in my opinion, it’s greatest character. Bray Wyatt outlasted The Miz, Baron Corbin, Dean Ambrose, John Cena and AJ Styles to become the WWE Champion in the main event, pinning Cena and Styles to pickup the win. This is inexplicably Wyatt’s first singles title in the WWE, and it’s hard to think of someone more deserving. While guys like Reigns, Rollins, Ambrose, Owens & Styles have won titles during their brief singles careers, Wyatt has been relegated to a frustrating pattern of stop and start pushes. He’s carried WrestleMania season feuds with John Cena and The Undertaker, only to lose on the big stage and be sent back to the mid card. Last night he finally grabbed the brass ring, and he did it by himself. There was no assistance from Luke Harper or Randy Orton or a surprise return from Erick Rowan; it was just Wyatt, in his all glory, Sister Abigailing himself to championship gold. While anything could happen between now and WM, the smart and logical story is going to be Orton/Wyatt for the title in one of the main events, so Bray Wyatt should go into WrestleMania as the defending WWE Champion.

-Ryan

5 Stars From Last Night’s #RAW

The Raw after Elimination Chamber aired last night from San Antonio, and it was pretty good. The Raw’s after pay per views are usually some of the best ones, and luckily for us, WWE seems to be putting on pay per views every couple of weeks now. We have a new IC champion, Twin Magic returned & John Cena yelled things. Let’s get to the 5 stars from last night’s Raw.

1. Roman Reigns

At this point, I don’t understand anyone who hates on Roman Reigns. If you wanted to hate on him for his John Cena-esque rise to the main event at WrestleMania, fine. If you wanted to hate on him for winning the Royal Rumble over YOUR favorite wrestler, that’s dumb, but fine. But at this point, all the guy has done is work his ass off on the microphone and in the ring, so you’re petty hate is unwarranted. During last night’s show opening promo, Reigns looked as comfortable as I’ve ever seen him on the microphone, and it was the first time that I can remember him speaking without sounding like he was reading a script. He got right to the point, and actually made a lot of sense, and bonus points for getting his best buddy a title match at MITB. After the talking was over and Reigns sufficiently pissed off the Authority, he was put in 3 separate matches, all of which came with the stipulation that if he lost, he’d be out of the MITB ladder match. He won all 3, beating King Barrett, Mark Henry & Bray Wyatt. His match with Wyatt was the main event and my favorite match of the 3, but Reigns just looked great all around last night. At this point, I’d have to assume he’s going to be the frontrunner to win the MITB ladder match, and then we’ll have a 3 way feud for the title with Lesnar and Rollins heading into Summerslam.

2. Kevin Owens

Let’s have a little talk about Kevin Owens. He’s the best character in the WWE right now and he’s fresh off a couple month span where he won the NXT title and beat John Cena clean with a power bomb in his main roster debut. He wrestled a hell of a match against Cena at Elimination Chamber, easily the match of the night, and followed it up with a short but great promo on Raw. Owens is slowly breaking down the John Cena façade, and even though Cena followed it up with a promo inexplicably calling Owens “less than a man”, KO came off looking better than Cena once again. As a side point, if Owens is less than a man, and he beat Cena fair and square last night, what does that make Cena? The tricky thing with Cena is that we’ve been programmed to believe that Cena always wins in the end. You might beat him initially, like Rusev and Bray Wyatt before him, but he will come out on top so decisively that the initial loss doesn’t end up mattering. I think Owens is different. He’s not a character. He’s a guy with a wife and a son. His son, much like other kids, loves John Cena, and instead of asking him how daddy was feeling after his match Sunday night, his son asked how John Cena was doing. If that’s not the best motivation to beat somebody up then I don’t know what is. I hate that they announced the rematch for MITB right after Owens won Sunday night, but for the first time in a long time, I’m not worried about a guy in a John Cena feud.

3. Titus O’Neil

During the 6 man tag match, Titus O’Neil got the hot tag and just started catching and tossing guys around like rag dolls. WWE has decided to push the PTP, and that 2 minute stretch during the tag match last night shows how easy it is for fans to get behind a person or team. Titus O’Neil is bigger and scarier than most of the guys on the roster, so put him in matches where he can be big and scary. I was amped up watching him toss guys around and scream like an animal, and I bet other fans were too. The tag team division is so boring at times because WWE is afraid to let teams show some emotion and get fired up. The talent is there, just like it’s always been, but the match quality has to be there too if the division is ever going to get back on track. Putting teams like Cesaro/Kidd, PTP & New Day together is a step in the right direction.

4. Neville

As much as I love Bo Dallas, this was great. Neville beat Bo clean Sunday night at Elimination Chamber, and now Bo is done with the inspirational talk and just wants to hurt Neville. 2 minutes later Bo is flat on his back and Neville is twisting through the air like a god damn gymnast on his way to another win. Neville might not win MITB, but I can’t think of anyone else in the match I’m more excited to watch.

5. Bray Wyatt

This is more a pity star, as one guy (Reigns) was in half the matches on the show. When Bray Wyatt is on my TV I’m happy, and since he wasn’t on the card for Elimination Chamber and is in limbo again, I was just happy to see him. Now let’s put the Wyatt family back together and have him win some important matches.

– Ryan

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