So my PPV reviews I’m going to be doing a little different, mostly because I want to watch the show and enjoy it rather than analyse it as much as I can. Much less technical analysis than my Raw, Smackdown and NXT reviews and more just my general thoughts on what I see and what it means and where I think it’ll go… particularly now we are indeed on the road to WRESTLEMANIA!!!
So we begin the show with the first ever Women’s Elimination Chamber match for the Raw Women’s Championship. The champion Alexa Bliss enters first, she doesn’t look to happy upon entering the chamber. “BOSS TIME” (Cole, 2016) next… Mickie James out then followed by Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville of Absolution next (wearing matching white gear which looked delightful) Mandy in the pod with Sonya in the ring awaiting the final entrant into the match, Bayley. Good start to the match from both Bayley and Sonya, Mandy Rose enters next to aid her best friend (check their Instagram pages, … Oh My sweet Lord…). Sasha Banks next in to even the odds. She dominates both Mandy and Sonya, including sending Mandy flying into a pod. Sasha and Bayley joined forces to launch Deville into the chamber wall three times. Mandy Rose first to be eliminated as Sasha hits the Backstabber – Bank Statement combo as Bayley stops Sonya from helping her friend so Mandy is out first (first out from the Women’s Rumble now first out in the Women’s Chamber… not ideal…).
Mickie James next in the match and does some really good offence to begin. Mickie climbs the chamber wall, eventually jumping off the top of one of the pods onto Sonya Deville to pin her and both of Absolution are out. 1st and 2nd… considering they needed a good showing here, more than any imo, not sure I agree with dumping them out at the start. Sasha Banks backstabber to Mickie, who then finds herself into a Belly-2-Belly from Bayley and Mickie James is out! That was a great little sequence and keeps James protected too.
Bayley and Sasha now in the ring with Alexa still in her pod… the plot thickens… Alexa does some really good character work and stops her pod door from entering, she escapes the pod only to run from Bayley and Sasha in a chase that leads up the side of the chamber wall. Sasha Banks and Bliss are on top of a pod, Banks helps Bayley up with a hand but then KICKS HER BACK DOWN (YES YES YES YES)!!! A Belly-2-Belly from the top rope on Banks, but as Bayley gets the cover Alexa rolls Bayley over and pins her. Bayley is eliminated!
Sasha and Alexa on the top rope, Bliss rams Banks’ face into the Perspex glass a few times, then hits a DDT to the floor on a weakened Banks for the pinfall, and ALEXA BLISS retains the Raw Women’s Championship and wins the first ever Women’s Elimination Chamber Match! A good match overall, thank GOD, and lots of potential for a few different stories now; what next for Absolution, are Sasha and Bayley still friends, who at Wrestlemania for Alexa Bliss? … After the match Alexa Bliss interview by Renee Young; Alexa teases a face turn with an inspiring speech, then finishes with ‘none of you will ever accomplish any of your dreams… nobody is better than me!” … she had us all; hook, line and sinker and it was great. Sensational promo from a supremely talented performer. On to Wrestlemania, once again as champion, Alexa Bliss goes!
Raw tag team title match; The Bar defending vs Titus Worldwide… Titus & Apollo on top early on, Sheamus and Cesaro later getting into it with their slow, methodical style to assert their dominance. The finish saw Apollo delivering a really good looking kick to Sheamus, his momentum put in him tagging distance of his partner, Apollo was hit with a chop block by Cesaro before he and Sheamus hit their tag team finisher to pick up the win. The BAR RETAIN. Not much heat or anything to this match but always going to be tough following the Women’s chamber match.
Asuka vs Nia Jax; before she walks out Nia is shown stomping on an Asuka mask. Fast paced start to the match, great chemistry and early exchanges from these 2. Crowd seem split too “let’s go Asuka, let’s go Nia” chants. Asuka gets a flying Armbar but Nia though powers up and slams Asuka into the turnbuckle; Nia then goes for a powerbomb but Asuka reverses it into a pinfall and ASUKA WINS! Really fun entertaining match this, both women looked good. After the match Nia destroys Asuka, driving her through the barricade. She walks to the back looking furious at her loss as the still-undefeated Empress of Tomorrow is helped up by referees. Alexa Bliss is shown watching the match via a screen backstage and is very pleased with what she has seen her friend do to her POTENTIAL Wrestlemania opponent. The attack on Asuka at the end still keeps Nia strong which I like, are we going to get a triple threat after all? Will Asuka go to Smackdown and challenge Charlotte even???
Charlie Caruso with an interview with Roman Reigns now; crowd response seemed… mixed… which is surprising for him I’m sure… Roman puts down Paul Heyman before declaring that ‘everything I do I back up, I *spoiler alert* will win the Elimination Chamber, I will go on to Wrestlemania and I will win the Universal Championship’. Yes Roman, indeed your ‘Spoiler Alert’ may well be true, considering it has been the worst kept secret in Wrestling for almost a year now…
WOKEN Matt Hardy vs Bray Wyatt followed. I love these 2 dearly but I had to try my best to stay into this match and these 2 characters who are SOOOOOOOOOO underutilised it is untrue! One highlight for me was when Bray did his spider thing in the corner and Matt responsed with “WONDERFUL” before proceeding to lead the crowd in a round of applause (this was HILARIOUS). The crowd for the majority of this one though, embarrassingly enough, seemed more entertained with the beach ball that was doing the rounds, “Rusev Day” chants and a Mexican wave spoiled a decent enough match in a story that still has plenty of room to grow and places to go. Good video package beforehand, Bray did his light trick with his graphic before entering but when he did he was just stood in the ring with Hardy’s jacket. Matt eventually blindsided him, and the match was eventually won by the WOKEN one. Not that anyone in the crowd cared. FFS!
Next up is RONDA ROUSEY’S CONTRACT SIGNING (DO NOT DARE FUCK THIS UP WWE)!!! A really good video package plays before Raw GM Kurt Angle comes to the ring… followed by BOTH Stephanie McMahon AND Triple H! We are in Las Vegas as well which is famously a stronghold for UFC so should be a good reception for Ronda. As she is welcomed out it seems a mixed crowd response to the Rowdy one… Ronda cuts a promo where she seems very nervous and emotional, she seems happier though as the crowd responds with chants for her. She seems a bit ‘stumbly’ during the promo as she puts over her hero Roddy Piper, she says she doesn’t want anything handing to her and that she wants to earn the WWE crowd’s respect. HHH double checks that Ronda doesn’t want any perks? As Ronda says yes she is told she won’t just be at Wrestlemania, she will be COMPETITNG at Wrestlemania! Not a championship match (so as expected) but a match nonetheless.
Ronda says she wants to earn a future opportunity and not be handed one. Then as Ronda appeared to be being helped sign her contract by Stephanie McMahon as Triple H talks to Kurt Angle, Kurt looks on quizzically which leads Rousey to ask her fellow former Olympic medallist if he has something to say? Kurt then says a series of things which he alleges McMahon and Triple H have said recently about Ronda, in which they basically want to ‘own’ Ronda once she signs and that they have revenge in mind after Rousey attacked them both at Wrestlemania 3 years ago. As Rousey angrily goes nose to nose with Stephanie, Triple H attempts to calmly separate the two, only for Rousey to push his arm away and judo-slam him through the contract signing table. As Steph makes her escape Ronda signs the contract and throws in onto the fallen COO. Ronda walks to the back with her classic furious, face on. What appeared to be the happy, glad-to-be-here babyface turned into a fiery, badass that Ronda Rousey SHOULD be in WWE. A rocky start but we got there in the end. This did what it should have done. And with Kurt Angle already trying to expose Mr and Mrs HHH as wanting to manipulate and use Ronda are we destined for the anticipated mixed tag team match at Wrestlemania? I would no way be against that, providing Angle is in good condition that is, which those of you who saw Survivor Series will be very worried about…
And then finally we had the Men’s Elimination Chamber match; Elias is in the ring first doing his usual brilliant stuff. He quickly escapes to the sanctuary of his pod once Braun Strowman makes his way to the chamber. John Cena and Roman Reigns follow which means we begin with The Miz, Finn Balor and Seth Rollins in the ring. Miz attempts to form an alliance early on but is instead double teamed by Balor and Rollins, the 3 exchange offences in an unsurprisingly, considering what may lay ahead, slow paced start.
John Cena next in. His introduction sees a significant rise in the speed of the match. ROMAN REIGNS next to enter… good little match this, some good moves from all so far. One highlight ,being with the other 4 participants on their knees, The Miz delivered kicks to one after the other to the delight of the crowd when he focused on Roman Reigns. The Big Dog begins to take control of the match until, with the crowd chants of “GET THESE HANDS”, the main man in WWE rn enters the fray…… BRRRRRRAAAUUUUNNNNN!!!
The Monster Amongst Men goes on an absolute tear after this; downing all but Miz who runs away, that’s until he is pushed by Strowman off the top of a pod onto the other participants down below in the ring. Braun eventually pins Miz after a running powerslam and THE MIZ IS ELIMINATED BY BRAUN STROWMAN! Elias finally enters the match, albeit hesitantly. He in fact re-closes his door and remains in his pod for a short time! With Elias not yet joining the action it takes Cena AND Roman AND Balor AND Rollins to deliver a 4 man powerbomb to Braun, and then with all 4 men trying to simultaneously eliminate him he manages STILL to kick out! Then Cena hits him with an AA; 2 COUNT! Reigns hits a Spear; 2 COUNT! Rollins hits a Curb Stomp; 2 count! Balor hits a Coupe de Grace; 2 count! Strowman seemingly indestructible!
After a short time all 4 men, apart from Strowman whom is down on the outisde of the ring, are down inside and it is then that Elias chooses to enter. However he performs unsuccessful pin attempts on the 4 downed participants before running into a Braun powerslam and BRAUN STROWMAN ELIMINATES ELIAS! He then fairly soon after does the same to Cena and BRAUN STROWMAN ELIMINATES JOHN CENA! What now for the 16 time World Champion with “no clear road to Wrestlemania”?*
The rest of the match was really fun. Rollins and Balor got some great looking moves in in particular; eventually FINN BALOR WAS ELIMANATED BY BRAUN STROWMAN as despite hitting his finisher on Reigns, Braun was there to pick him up and swat him down. Seth later missed a Curb Stomp and was caught into a powerslam and… yep… SETH ROLLINS WAS ELIMINATED BY BRAUN STROWMAN! So we were left with Braun and Roman…
The finishing sequence saw Roman hit a Superman Punch (crowd began to boo the seemingly inevitable conclusion), Reigns goes for a second but is caught (much to the Las Vegas’ crowd delight), Reigns escapes and hits another Superman Punch, hits the Spear, Braun gets up, Roman hits another Spear to get the 1,2,3 and ROMAN REIGNS WINS THE MEN’S ELIMINATION CHAMBER MATCH! … Obviously.
Decent match tbf to end a decent show. Afterwards Braun, as seems customary now, attacks the actual match winner and ends the show standing tall. This though doesn’t change the worst kept secret in WWE history now being a reality, as the graphic appears to show Roman Reigns will indeed challenge Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania for the Universal Championship. It tbh would seem like the last year or so was a waste of time if that were not to be the case, so at this point it is what it is. And I for one actually think the match itself will be pretty good (I urge you to read one of my previous blogs where I looked back at their Mania 31 match).
So no shock results on the show as we head to Wrestlemania. A few people’s path to the show of shows remains unclear indeed…
Key points to take home:
– the Roman Reigns “expirement” isn’t ending any time soon
– Braun is still the man and is being booked incredibly strong… but for what purpose???
– What now for Asuka?
– Ronda Rousey is a badass. And can be if WWE let her!
– What will Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman have to say to Roman Reigns on Raw? Whatever it is they are all very different from this time 3 years ago…
Raw’s road to Wrestlemania is lined for Roman, Lesnar and Bliss but who knows about anyone else… lots of potential encounters which should make for an exciting few weeks of Raw tv. Next stop on ppv for them; WRESTLEMANIA!!!
*UPDATE: On Raw Talk (the aftershow panel hosted by Renee Young and Pete Rosenburg) one of their guests was a very despondent John Cena. He finished a very emotional talk about his previous experiences, his current life and predicament by saying ‘ I don’t have an opponent [for Wrestlemania] but I may have a plan, it may involve me stepping outside the proper etiquette of how we do things in the WWE” . He was asked what this meant only to respond with “I’ll figure it out” before walking off the set.
This is clearly laying the groundwork for something absolutely HUGE for Cena and Wrestlemania. And in my opinion for the 16 time World Champion there are only really 2 major things left for him to do in WWE; and with the door to a potential record breaking 17th world title closed for now, for me it leaves one final dream match, at one place, against one opponent………………