Stephanie McMahon and Triple H showed a united front this week on Raw to hype up Elimination Chamber a bit and address the whole “Becky Lynch” situation. Becky came out and Hunter lifted her suspension (how true to life…) but said she would only go on to the WrestleMania match she earned fair and square if she apologised to the millions of impressionable WWE fans out there. Of course, Becky said no and told them to shove it, so Triple H and Steph gave her the rest of the show to think it over.
Sasha Banks and Bayley teamed up to face Nia Jax and Tamina and Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan to set up some entrance spots for their Elimination Chamber match. Nia and Tamina were used somewhat springly here (to keep them as a pyshical threat, I suppose, but more likely to allow the other women, who aren’t rubbish between the ropes, make the match watchable and make the Samoan girls look better). Anyway, Nia and Tamina started using their strength to take control around about the same time Ruby Riott decided to attack Sasha and take her out of the match; this, and Ruby’s continued interference, was enough to spell the end for Bayley, who ended up getting pinned following a Samoan Drop from Nia.
Jeff Jarrett got the night off this week so Elias was able to get a bit more feel heat and claw back a little credibility by smashing his guitar over Kalisto’s back after the Lucha House Party interrupted his little sing-a-long; I’ll be interested to see if the “Lucha House Rules” are invoked in any future matches between these guys.
Drew McIntyre and Finn Balor were up next; Bobby Lashley and Lio Rush were watching from ringside and distracting Finn throughout the match. That, and the overall narrative of Finn and Lashley, really made Drew a complete afterthought, which should never really be the case and is a bit of an insult. In the end, Lashley getting physically involved caused a disqualification and he and Drew beat up Finn for a bit until Kurt Angle, of all people, made the save!
Baron Corbin got involved so Braun Strowman came out and, before you know it, we have a traditional six-man tag team match! This was a little better for Drew, as he was actually a central point of the in-ring action, but suffered from a weird, screwy finish where Lashley pinned Finn but his foot was on the rope and the referee actually noticed it so the match got restarted… the match went on a bit more but, in the end, Stowman caught Lashley’s Spear attempt with the Running Powerslam and he very kindly allowed Finn to pin the Intercontinental Champion with the Coup de Grâce. They tried to make it a big deal that Finn pinned the champion but this whole thing was all over the place in a weird attempt to make everyone look strong.
Ruby Riott and Nikki Cross went at it next; I’m…slightly confused about this match as I thought Nikki was a tweener, at best, and Ruby is a heel, last I checked, so it was a bit of an odd pairing, especially as (like I mentioned before) I’d rather see these two be a tag team right now. Anyway, to give you a sense of how important this match was, it got interrupted with Ronda Rousey basically bullying Becky into doing whatever she needs to do to keep their match alive, because Ronda is all about the “competition”. Ruby ended up getting the win with the Riott Kick and I can’t help but think she could have gotten this win over anybody else.
Seth Rollins was next on the microphone to talk about the opportunity he won for himself by winning the Royal Rumble; he addressed that he’s feeling the pain a bit (rumours are he’s actually more injured than they’re letting on) and, of course, got interrupted by Paul Heyman, who did his usual bit of putting over Seth and then tearing him down by saying he cannot go face-to-face with Brock Lesnar. Rollins disagreed and then got some unexpected moral support from Dean Ambrose.
Ambrose hung around for a rematch with EC3; EC3 was kind of allowed to show a little more this week but nowhere near as much as he is capable of. Also, I really feel like EC3 should be getting some mic time in promos, backstage, and before his matches; the guy can work a crowd but, in the WWE, he’s just this oiled-up meathead. Also, he’s a complete idiot as, this week, he got cradled by Dean and lost like a chump; if Dean’s supposed to be putting EC3 over on his way out then they’re going about it in a really stupid way.
Bobby Roode and Chad Gable, still sporting their matching ring gear, put the Raw Tag Team Championships on the line against the Revival because…I guess it’s better than being relegated to the Elimination Chamber pre-show. Despite Roode and Gable now having honed their in-ring game to a point where they are a capable team, and an awesome assisted Blockbuster spot, the Revival finally got their due when they caught Gable with the Shatter Machine after an especially competitive match. Hopefully, we see the Revival hold the belts for a long time and talk some serious shit about the state of tag team wrestling; I’d also like to see Roode and Gable go their separate ways and head towards the Intercontinental Championship after the inevitable rematch.
Becky, Stephanie, Triple H, and Ronda all closed the show; Becky begrudgingly apologised, robbing her of a lot of her coolness appeal and making her look like a lot less of a bad-ass, in my opinion. Although Triple H was happy with that, Vince McMahon wasn’t; he pissed everyone off (and I mean everyone) by suspending Becky for sixty days and replacing her with, of course, Charlotte Flair.
This narrative continued on the Blue Brand as Charlotte Flair opened things up to brag about being picked to replace Becky Lynch; she used her time to really work over the crowd and get them all riled up, which didn’t take much as the audience hated this…and rightfully so.
The women continued to dominate the early part of the show as Naomi and Carmella teamed up against the Iiconics and Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville because the first-ever WWE Women’s Tag Team Championships are being crowned at Elimination Chamber. Surprisingly, though, considering the majority of the competitors, this was a decent little match; Naomi and Carmella picked up a feel-good win but got ruthlessly attacked by the Iiconics after the match.
Mustafa Ali officially announced that he is too injured to compete at Elimination Chamber, which sucks for him as I feel he won’t really get his pushed renewed once he’s fit and healthy. However, it was announced that Kofi Kingston will replace him in the WWE Championship match because….the New Day….sells merchandise?
Anyway, in an attempt to help push Kofi as being deserving of this spot, they then put on a gauntlet match to decide which of the six competitors will get the final spot in the Elimination Chamber. Presumably, this push and role was going to be filled by Mustafa but it’s gone to Kofi and, with this being the last show before the pay-per-view, it was a pretty fantastic way of putting over Kofi as he ran the gauntlet like a superstar! He faced off with Daniel Bryan to started with, which was a massively competitive, faced-paced match in-and-of-itself; Rowan, Big E, and Xavier Woods caused some ruckus at ringside, which got them all ejected; Kofi fought out of the Yes! Lock, battled back from Rowan’s assault, and pinned the WWE Champion with the Trouble In Paradise.
Jeff Hardy was out next and Kofi was already feeling it from the gruelling match he had with Bryan; Kofi was forced to rely on his wits and his wily nature to avoid Jeff’s big moves. He managed to frantically kicked out of a countered crossbody and got the pin after hitting the SOS (not sure how long it’s been since I saw that…)
Things take a turn as Samoa Joe came out next; Joe used his signature hard-hitting offense to take Kofi down but, in the end, seemed more concerned with beating Kofi and slapping him about rather than stretching him or taking advantage of everything he’d already been through. By the time Joe finally did decide to get serious, Kofi managed to luck into a surprise pin and ended up getting planted with a massive Uranage and locked into the Coquina Clutch.
AJ Styles made the save and scared him off; he then tried to appeal to Kofi to call it quits but Kofi soldiered on and got into it with Styles, which was bad news for Kofi’s knee as AJ worked him over at every opportunity. Kofi barely managed to escape being counted out after AJ rammed his knees into the ring post but couldn’t get the win with a Frog Splash; AJ quickly caught Kofi in the Calf Crusher and Kofi had no choice but to tap, having successfully wowed the crowd with his guts, heart, and determination.
All of that was ultimately for nothing, though, as Randy Orton flew in with an RKO and pinned AJ out of nowhere. Honestly, I get putting Bryan and Kofi together for an extended period but I really feel like Bryan should have gotten the overall win just to avoid being pinned.
WWE Cruiserweight Championship Match: Buddy Murphy (c) vs. Akira Tozawa
Oh…great…these two again. I’m just gonna pick Buddy Murphy to retain until a new challenger appears.
WWE Intercontinental Championship Handicap Match: Bobby Lashley (c) and Lio Rush vs. Finn Balor
I guess I missed that this was going to be a handicap match; you know, I’m really confused about the Intercontinental Championship situation. So, apparently, Dean Ambrose wants out and will be gone after WrestleMania; surely a good way to convince him to stay or to use him on the way out is to keep the Intercontinental Champion on him and have him lose it at WrestleMania in a four-way match featuring Dean (obviously), Finn, Lashley, and Drew McIntyre? Ideally, I would want to see Drew or Finn holding the belt after that show but, to randomly hot-shot the belt on to Lashley and then kind of turn Dean face again is just some weird storytelling. Regardless, I imagine the numbers game will factor heavily into this match to keep Finn strong and give him a reason to get a rematch, and eventual title win, at WrestleMania so Bobby Lashley will retain.
Braun Strowman vs. Baron Corbin
I did not realise that recent weeks were setting up for this match; surely Kurt Angle would be better suited to this match? Or, least, Angle and Strowman taking on Corbin and McIntyre? Eh, well, either way this isn’t looking good for Corbin and I feel Braun Strowman needs a win to get back on track towards some kind of decent WrestleMania storyline.
Raw Women’s Championship Match: Ronda Rousey (c) vs. Ruby Riott
I really do feel like I am missing a lot here; I’ve been very distracted lately but when the hell did Ruby Riott earn a shot against Ronda? I know I’ve been calling for it for ages now but this is totally the wrong time; the WWE is heavily telegraphing Ronda’s WrestleMania matches so I don’t see Ruby doing anything except staring at the lights as Ronda Rousey basks in the…glory…?…of the fans.
SmackDown! Live Tag Team Championship Match: Shane McMahon and The Miz (c) vs. The Usos
So, this match makes the card but the Raw Tag Team Championships are relegated to an everyday episode of Raw? I think it’s pretty obvious as to why this is and I am pretty sure that Shane McMahon and the Miz will continue on a little longer with the belts as there’s been next-to-no build to this.
WWE Championship Elimination Chamber Match: Daniel Bryan (c) vs. Kofi Kingston vs. AJ Styles vs. Samoa Joe vs. Jeff Hardy vs. Randy Orton
So Mustafa Ali is out and Kofi Kingston is in, most likely to be the spot monkey of the match. I am sure that Jeff Hardy will also try and kill himself here as well, to his detriment, and fully expect to see Samoa Joe mess some fool up to give him a bit of a feud going forwards. I am guessing that this will come down to Bryan and AJ Styles and that Daniel Bryan will retain as he may as well walking into WrestleMania holding the belt. Who he will face, and drop it to, is obviously still up in the air though.
WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship Elimination Chamber Match: Naomi and Carmella vs. Nia Jax and Tamina vs. Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville vs. The Iiconics vs. Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan vs. Bayley and Sasha Banks
I think it’s pretty much a given that this will get the main event as it’s a historic, first-ever match to crown the historic, first-ever Women’s Tag Team Champions. Honestly, none of these “teams” are really better picks than others; Nia Jax and Tamina actually are a team and have been getting pushed as an unstoppable duo lately, the Iiconics are a team but I feel they’re more a team of valets rather than credible competitors; I feel the Riott Squad won’t get the win as Ruby’s clearly losing to Ronda so the opportunity to do a storyline where they hold all the gold is lost; Mandy and Sonya seem pretty much surplus to requirements so I think I’m just going to pick Sasha Banks and Bayley to win so the WWE can lump some more gold and spotlight on to their golden girl.