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One week after a thrilling Royal Rumble, WWE was back with an uneven edition of Raw, which delivered in some ways but was absolutely lacking in others. Roman Reigns actually pulled double duty on the show competing in two matches over the course of the evening, but he was outshined by the Raw women’s division, which excelled in each of their segments over the three-hour program.

Not only was the women’s Elimination Chamber match set (with some controversy), the men’s Chamber is now one entrant away from being complete. There are three official matches now on the slate for the next Raw pay-per-view with a few more yet to be decided. 

Lets take a look at what went down Monday night on Raw.

Women’s division booked strong on Monday

Unlike most editions of Raw where the women get one or possibly two segments, they were featured extensively on Monday night with five different segments throughout the show. The primary storyline involved four women in particular: Asuka, Bayley, Sasha Banks and Nia Jax. It started when, watching film of her loss to Asuka from last week, Banks told Bayley she now knows how to beat the Empress of Tomorrow. Bayley asked her friend to share that information, but Banks refused, saying she was keeping her tricks to herself. Bayley then called back to Banks eliminating her from the Royal Rumble, but Banks said she did what she had to do and believed she was the only one who could end Asuka’s undefeated streak. “You think you can beat Asuka?” she asked Bayley. “I know I can beat you,” Bayley replied. “And if you’re good enough to beat Asuka, so am I.”

Asuka def. Bayley via submission: The high-intensity two-segment match featured a lot of big spots by both Asuka and Bayley, who have a history dating back to NXT. Bayley escaped an Asuka Lock cinched in through the ropes, but as she looked poised to hit Bayley-to-Belly, Asuka reversed it into an Asuka Lock. However, Bayley immediately rolled through and got an extreme near count. Just as Asuka kicked out, she immediately locked Bayley in an armbar and made her tap in seconds. The two shared their mutual respect after the match via handshake. 

Raw general manager Kurt Angle announced before the Asuka-Bayley match the entrants for the Chamber with Mandy Rose, Mickie James and Sonya Deville joining Bayley and Banks. He also said Jax would face Asuka with Jax able to earn a guaranteed shot at the Raw women’s title at WrestleMania 34 should she win. Alexa Bliss hit the ring to ask Angle pointedly why she had to put her title on the line in the Chamber, while Lesnar gets to coast to ‘Mania with the men’s match being for the No. 1 contendership to the universal title. Angle noted that Bliss hasn’t defended her title in four months as the reason, but she said he makes the matches and is acting sexist by treating her different than Lesnar. Angle countered by saying Bliss was just trying to weasel her way out of the match, leaving it up to the crowd to decide.

Nia Jax def. Vanessa Floyd via pinfall: Jax teased and taunted the way-smaller jobber before quickly bulldozing her twice, hitting a pair of hip tosses and dropping a leg for the win. Jax promised to make Asuka wear her match permanently and make her the “Empress of Yesterday” at Elimination Chamber.

The Banks-Bayley segment was fantastic — albeit completely scripted — and fueled the budding rivalry between the two friends. It’s going to explode at some point soon.  The Asuka-Bayley match was great, as one should expect considering their history, and told a consistent story in Bayley still being unable to overcome Asuka despite getting close on two occasions late in the match. The Angle-Bliss segment was a bit sloppy, due in large part to Angle being given a convoluted storyline to explain in the ring and Bliss coming up with a strong argument that was tough to dispute or counter. The reaction was mixed to Angle’s request for a crowd chant, which is not what WWE intended, but ultimately the match is on. Jax also delivered a strong-but-scripted promo in her opportunity to speak.

Jason Jordan gets on The Shield’s bad side, again

Jordan and Seth Rollins met up backstage early in the show with Rollins expressing concern for Jordan’s health. Jordan said he is completely healthy and has been cleared by trainers, so Rollins emphasized it was time for them to go out and win the tag team titles back. Later in the night, an apologetic Jordan said he was stretching and “something didn’t feel right in his neck,” leading trainers to rule him out for the match. Angle told Rollins he saw no other option than to forfeit the match … until Roman Reigns walked into the picture as his new partner. Jordan and Angle both smiled.

Tag Team Championship — The Bar (c) def. Seth Rollins & Roman Reigns via disqualification to retain the titles: The Bar hit a tired Reigns with their elevated White Noise finisher, but Reigns kicked out and then countered a Gotch Neutralizer . With Rollins injured outside the ring, Jordan ran down to lift him back onto the ring apron. Rollins got the hot tag and cleared the ring with a couple dives, but Cesaro dodged the Black Out. Rollins hit a suplex into the Falcon’s Arrow but only got a two. Sheamus distracted the ref, allowing Cesaro to poke Rollins in the eye, but Jordan grabbed Cesaro’s leg to neutralize the distraction. After a couple near falls, Reigns yelled at Jordan, “We got this,” demanding he go to the back. Rollins hit the ripcord and a superkick on Sheamus, but as Reigns was prepared to hit the Shield powerbomb, The Bar tried to vacate ringside. Jordan stood in their way, leading The Bar to attack him, but he blocked Cesaro’s punch and inadvertently connected first, causing the interference DQ.

Backstage after the break, Rollins lost his cool at Jordan for being selfish and never listening to him. Angle tried to break things up, but Rollins’ rage kept building. “The only thing I’m sorry about is [that] I didn’t legitimately hurt him myself!” he screamed. Angle ordered Rollins to back away, but as Jordan protested, he yelled at his son himself. “Go home and stay home until you’re medically cleared!” Angle said as Jordan looked dejected and depressed.

This was near-perfection from start to finish. Rollins went from supportive in the first segment to annoyed in the second to enraged in the third. In between, he and Reigns put on a tremendous match against The Bar with Jordan’s interference well-placed. It was a fantastic storyline finish with Jordan purposely getting involved but accidentally costing Rollins and Reigns the titles when it looked like it was in their grasp. With plans seemingly changing for Jordan due to his legitimate neck injury, it will be interesting to see how this plays out over the next few weeks.

What else happened on Raw?

  • Roman Reigns def. Bray Wyatt via pinfall: Before the show-opening match, Wyatt cut a promo about winning the Elimination Chamber a year ago in the biggest victory of his career, while Reigns cut one saying nothing will stop him on his way into and through the Chamber. Matt Hardy was shown watching on a backstage monitor after the first commercial break. Wyatt reversed a Superman Punch into a ura-nage, but Reigns eventually hit the move and looked ready to put Wyatt away. Instead, the Eater of Worlds rebounded, hitting Reigns with Sister Abigail only for Reigns to kick out at 2.75, shocking and dismaying Wyatt. This led Wyatt to attempt it again, but Reigns was able to power out and quickly land a spear for the 1-2-3 to advance to the Chamber. Immediately after the finish, Hardy appeared in the ring and hit Wyatt with Twist of Fate. There was hardly any crowd reaction to Reigns’ expected victory despite portions of the crowd chanting, “This is awesome,” late in the match. The Reigns win was assumed, but it occurred in such typical fashion with him kicking out of a finisher, setting the stage for WrestleMania 34 against Brock Lesnar.
  • Finn Balor & Karl Anderson def. The Revival via pinfall: Originally set to be a one-on-one match, The Revival challenged Balor to make it a tag team bout. Anderson took Dash Wilder out at ringside, giving Balor the opportunity to hit Scott Dawson with a slingblade and Coup de Grace for the clean win. WWE 50-50 booked two wrestlers in as many weeks with Balor getting a win back after falling to John Cena and The Revival eating an unnecessary loss after looking like they were building momentum a week ago.
  • Cedric Alexander & Mustafa Ali def. Tony Nease & Drew Gulak via pinfall: Alexander eventually hit Lumbar Check on Gulak for the victory as he continued his extended winning streak.
  • The Miz def. Apollo Crews via pinfall: Ahead of the match, Miz cut a promo about the instant impact he has made since his return to WWE, defeating Reigns in back-to-back weeks and now about to enter the Chamber. Raw came back from commercial in the middle of the match. Crews got in a tremendous amount of action with a moonsault and standing shooting star press on Miz but could only manage a two count. He also reversed the Skull-Crushing Finale into a small package but was unable to get the pinfall. Eventually, Miz hung Crews up on the top rope, knocked him down and hit his finisher to advance to the Chamber. Credit WWE for giving Crews a ton of shine for the second straight week. You could argue Miz does not need to be in the Chamber (as he’s not going to win it) and Crews would have been a more exciting participant, but alas.
  • Mickie James def. Sonya Deville via pinfall: It was James who was the aggressor early with Deville selling a busted open nose. Mandy Rose jumping on the ring apron provided enough of a distraction for Deville to reverse her fortunes as James sold a neck injury. James surprised Deville with a roll-up for the pinfall, leading Absolution to attack her after the match until Bliss ran in to save James. Both the crowd and James were confused as Bliss helped James to the bank.
  • Elias def. John Cena (via pinfall) and Braun Strowman: The winner earned the right to enter Elimination Chamber last. Elias avoided Strowman as long as he could with Cena taking a beating early, even getting flattened as he attempted to hit Strowman with the Attitude Adjustment. Eventually, Cena and Elias teamed up to take Strowman out of the ring, drive him into the ring post twice and throw him into the stairs. Strowman could not be knocked down, so Cena drove stairs into him, Elias hit Strowman with his guitar and Cena hit Strowman with the AA onto the bottom of the steel steps. Just as Cena was ready to put Elias away, Strowman ran in for a running powerslam, but Elias tossed him out of the ring and pinned Cena. Strowman then reentered the ring to powerslam Elias and took out his frustration with an additional running powerslam for each. WWE cut Strowman’s music early so he could celebrate with the crowd, which was completely silent, so Strowman hit Cena and Elias with a third running powerslam each. The action in the middle with Cena and Elias teaming up was fantastic, and the finish was unexpected, which made this a positive segment all around. The Iowa crowd sat on its hands throughout, however, and Strowman did not get the reception he deserved to end the show.
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