Roman Reigns begins Raw tonight, he will then be the first participant in this gauntlet match. It will begin with 2 men in the ring for a match, once that has concluded the winner will then immediately be in a contest against whoever comes to the ring next… and so on and so on… the winner of the final 1 on 1 match will be declared the winner overall. And the match will be participated in by the 7 men who will fill the men’s Elimination Chamber match on Sunday. There is then a brief recap of the finish of the 5 way last week and Kurt Angle’s subsequent announcement that both Finn Balor and Seth Rollins will be in the chamber. Charlie Caruso then cuts an interview with Roman in the ring; Reigns seems confident about the match tonight, but more fearful of the Elimination Chamber structure and the fact he will have to face 6 other men on Sunday also. He does though state that he ‘can beat Brock Lesnar… I nearly did last time…’ (eluding to their Wrestlemania 31 match, see my Wrestlemania Flashback 1 blog from a couple of weeks back, which…) and had it not been for a certain someone maybe Roman would’ve beaten Lesnar… and right on queue out comes Seth Rollins!
The two stare down and soak in the crowd reaction (as “burn it down” chants ring around the arena). This is followed by a LONG ‘feeling out process’ between the two, this will make sense as to why the match started very slow as we go on… Seth gets a couple of near falls, followed by a kick to the mid-section as Roman stares back defiantly. Seth later goes for a suicide dive but Roman on the outside counters with a right hand and then a drive-by kick. The Samoan attempts a Superman Punch which is countered by Rollins who in turn attempts his signature knee finisher but this too is countered out of. The Kinglslayer is though able to hit Roman with a buckle bomb, however Reigns uses his momentum to bounce back off the ring corner and deliver a Superman Punch to Rollins. An ad break is returned from with Rollins missing a frog splash on Roman who rolls out the ring, Rollins responding with 2 suicide dives in a row. Upon returning to the ring Rollins flies off the apron straight into a Superman Punch that leads to a 2 count for Roman. Roman then tries to hit a Spear but this is countered into an attempt at the Curb Stomp from Seth but it is Reigns who then reverses into a pin attempt for 2. This same move is then rolled through by Rollins and he gets the pin! SETH ROLLINS WINS THE FIRST PART OF THE GAUNTLET MATCH, ROMAN REIGNS IS ELIMINATED!
Next out is… John Cena! Cena gains dominance and is almost the victor via count out. He then urges an exhausted Rollins to “stay down”. Cena later hits 3 belly-to-belly suplexes but Seth is able to kick out of the pin. Rollins then counters an attempted Attitude adjustment into a DDT for a near fall of his own. Cena gets a 2 count again after a stunner-like move, and again nearly gets a count out victory. As Rollins flies back in to the ring he runs straight into an STF from Cena, he is able though to get out of it before hitting a Slingblade for a 2 count pin attempt. The leader of the Cenation then rolls through a suplex and eventually sets up Rollins for a 5 Knuckle shuffle which Seth counters and hits a superkick for another 2 count. Both men later find themselves on the outside in various predicaments before they both re-enter the ring only at the count of 9. Cena is then eventually able to hit his patented 5 knuckle shuffle and follows up with an AA that is then reversed into a nearfall. Rollins then locks in a crossface on Cena whom himself then has Rollins in position for an AA, Seth counters this with a inziguiri and then hits a beautiful frog splash on Cena for a 2 count only (Rollins now passing the FIFTY MINUTE mark in this match). Cena then finally hits Seth with an AA but ONLY gets a 2 count.
A baffled Cena goes to the top rope in desperation but falls victim to a suplexplex, followed up with a falcon arrow from Seth for another near victory moment. Cena then fails in two STF submissions as Rollins reaches the rope each time. An amazing moment followed where Rollins hit an AA ON Cena! Sadly this only garnered a 2 count from the referee. Rollins goes to the top rope with Cena on the floor, he misses a phoenix splash and Cena performs his AA followed by a roll through (think the finish of the amazing WWE Championship match Cena had against AJ Styles at Royal Rumble 2017) but upon trying the second AA Rollins hit his knee finisher, his superkick to the chest and then finally a CURB STOMP on Cena… AND SETH ROLLINS WINS! STANDING OVATION FROM THE CORWD! IN ONE NIGHT, BACK TO BACK, SETH ROLLINS HAS PINNED ROMAN REIGNS AND JOHN CENA!!!!!!! Truly a historic and remarkable achievement for him.
Next man to the ring is Elias, he sprints down and after a pretty short beat down Elias hits his Drift away finishing move to pin Rollins. An amazing effort from Seth nonetheless. Should also mention during this one Renee Young was shown backstage with John Cena interviewing him, I don’t like the idea of conducting interviews DURING matches. Takes all the focus from the match imo. Next down to the ring is Finn Balor (f/t red, Royal Rumble 2018, attire). Good exchanges of offence between these 2 is again interrupted with an in-match interview backstage with Renee. Rollins this time, still don’t like this concept at all! Elias in control is stopped by Balor who then hits a lovely kick to Elias to knock him off the top rope and then double drop kicks him into the barricade. They exchange nearfalls, they battle outside, it’s a very back-and forth one this. Good watch though I should say. The finish comes when Balor stomps on Elias chest in the ring, and then when both men are down Balor gets to his feet first and hits Elias with the Slingblade -> kicks into the corner -> Coupe de Grace and Finn gets the win.
The Miz is in the match next. We begin with the Miztourage distracting Balor so Miz can blindside him. Miz controls the early part here, a few nearfalls showing to that. Miz continues his punishment to Finn Balor by throwing him to the barricade before wrenching his arm on the ring ropes. (Renee Young interviews Elias… NO, NO, NO!) Miz hits some ‘yes’ kicks and does the ‘yes’ chants, but Balor is able to battle back with a nearfall of his own. He hits a series of chops to The Miz in the different corners of the ring, but Miz then attempts A Skull Crushing Finale but this is rolled up by Finn for a 2 count. The next highlight saw Finn fly over the top rope onto the Miztourage on the outside (this was a thing of beauty), Miz is though able to take advantage of Balor’s diverted attention to hit his Skull Crushing Finale finisher and The Miz eliminates Finn Balor.
Next… BRRRRRRAAAUUUUNNNNN!!! Much to The Miz’s dismay and the huge ovation from the crowd. A terrified Intercontinental Champion attempts to run away, he is though chased down through the crowd and dragged back to the ring by Strowman. Braun proceeds to pulverise Miz, only being stopped by The Miztourage delaying him so that when Braun charges into the corner Miz is able to get out the way and get his offence in (Renee Young backstage interview with Balor now). During Balor’s interview Strowman hits a remarkably good dropkick on Miz… reminder: Braun is 385 lbs!!!
Miz then uses Strowman’s momentum to send him to the outside, only for him to then walk into a huge Braun clothesline. The Miztourage then distract The Monster Amongst Men once again allowing for him to suffer a Skull Crushing Finale from The Miz. The pin attempt is though thwarted when Braun launches Miz to the outside onto Dallas and Axel. Upon re-entering the ring Miz is hit with another clothesline from Braun which is followed up with a running powerslam to give Braun the final pinfall and the gauntlet match victory. The longest match in Raw history is FINALLY over!!!
After the match Braun is interviewed and sends a warning out to Universal Champion Brock Lesnar before going back to inflict more damage to The Miz, Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel (Should also mention that it was confirmed that 3 men will start in the ring for the men’s Elimination Chamber match on Sunday with the usual 4 pods).
Next Asuka makes her way to the ring to be interviewed by Renee (she must be paid per interview tonight surely). It was simple but typically effective from Asuka; she said she’ll win the title at Mania, and that her opponent on Sunday Nia Jax didn’t look so strong in their last match when she limped off injured. Nia then appears behind Asuka and after a brief brawl hits the Empress of Tomorrow with a Samoan Drop and 3 leg drops. Good little segment to make Nia look strong going into the match.
This is followed by a huge hype video package for Ronda Rousey ahead of her WWE contract signing during the ppv in Las Vegas. Yes, Yes and YES from me!!!
The Bar out next. They face Titus Worldwide in a quick match that the man fka Apollo Crews but nka… Apollo… gets the win for his team. One would highly expect a tag title match between these 2 at Elimination Chamber now. Speaking of Elimination Chamber WOKEN Matt Hardy vs Bray Wyatt is also announced for the card. A back and forth video promo follows between the 2. Usual stuff and good if you like these 2. Hardy keeps saying he’ll render Bray OBSOLETE in recent weeks… don’t tease us pls…
The main event of the show was a 6 woman tag team match involving the participants in the Women’s Elimination Chamber match. Sasha Banks, Mickie James and Bayley vs Sonya Deville, Mandy Rose and the Raw Women’s Champion Alexa Bliss. You’ll forgive me if I don’t go too in depth on the analysis of this one, considering what we saw earlier, so… to summarise: Mandy and Sonya played their parts well but both still green, Alexa played the role of reluctant partner to them both, Mickie looked really good in ring as did Sasha and the recently rejuvenated Bayley, match concluded with Alexa Bliss attempting to capitalise after throwing Sasha into the ring mid-rope turnbuckle, only to fall into a Bank Statement which causes her to tap.
Unsurprisingly a brawl breaks out post match; the 2 active members of Absolution eventually turning on their partner for the match Bliss, only for Mickie James (who as mentioned in previous blogs Alexa had been trying to buddy up with in recent weeks) to make the save. So going into the chamber seems we have Sasha & Bayley, Mandy & Sonya and now Alexa & Mickie as the alliances.
And that, at long last, was Raw. If ever there has been a 1 match show THIS was IT! The longest match in WWE history (longer than even any Royal Rumble match there has ever been) lasted a total of ONE HOUR, FORTY SIX MINUTES AND FIFTEEN SECONDS! Seth Rollins lasting for ONE HOUR FIVE MINUTES of the match, longer than any amount of time anyone has spent in one match in Raw history. It really was a historic match. Was it good? Imo… yeah I enjoyed it. Dropped off at times but it was bound to, overall I had fun watching it.
Key points to take home:
– Seth Rollins is going on to BIG things as we head to Wrestlemania…
– Braun Strowman should be THE GUY
– Somehow Titus Worldwide are the top contenders in Raw’s tag division… hmm…
– I’m not convinced Nia is ‘ready for Asuka’
– Alexa Bliss is retaining on Sunday. I’m almost certain! …
Elimination Chamber has been built to well imo. Seems like a big deal. We’re in danger though of, ala the Royal Rumble last month, having the 2 main gimmick matches overshadowing the rest of the card… but then the rest of the card isn’t exactly blockbuster. But the ppv overall should be good… SHOULD……