By: Keila Cash
Location: Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa
Homecoming from Hell: Jason Jordan burned Seth Rollins’ championship dreams to the ground.
Casper’s New Best Friend: John Cena because no one can see his worth as of late. #SpittingTruth
· Roman Reigns defeated Bray Wyatt with the Spear to secure a spot in the Elimination Chamber match. The match started off sluggish, but the action picked up after the commercial break. Wyatt had Reigns on the ropes with a couple near falls, but the outcome was never in doubt despite Reigns kicking out of Sister Abigail.
· Corey Graves oversold their rivalry on commentary by putting them on the same pedestal as Superman vs. Lex Luthor and Batman Vs. The Joker. The Reigns-Wyatt feud from 2015 was terrible, but their matches made up for the shit fans had to deal with on a weekly basis.
· Minor criticism aside, I thought the announcers did a nice job emphasizing the importance of the Chamber match being the final playoff game before WrestleMania. It’s the last chance for someone to main event the biggest PPV of the year and that point should be hammered home over the next few weeks.
· After the match was over, Matt Hardy nailed Wyatt with the Twist of Fate to get a measure of revenge after Wyatt cost him a spot in the Chamber last week. Their never-ending feud continues. Yay! *Insert Sarcasm Here*
· Karl Anderson and Finn Bàlor defeated The Revival when Bàlor pinned Scott Dawson with the Coup De Grace in a solid match. Anderson shouting Kiai after kicking Dash Wilder in the face was unintentionally hilarious. I’m not thrilled with The Revival and Bàlor Club going 50/50 as of late, but it’s understandable because the tag team ranks are thin at the moment when it comes to the heel : face ratio.
· Mustafa Ali and Cedric Alexander defeated Tony Nese and Drew Gulak when Alexander nailed Gulak with the Lumbar Check for the win. The match was fine, but it lacked heat despite the acrobatic feats of Alexander down the stretch.
· Kurt Angle announced the five women who will face Alexa Bliss inside the Elimination Chamber for the Raw Women’s Championship. They are: Bayley, Mandy Rose, Mickie James, Sonya Deville, and Sasha Banks.
· Nia Jax isn’t in the Chamber match, but she will face Asuka at the PPV with possible WrestleMania ramifications. If Jax defeats Asuka, one of the Women’s Title matches will become a Triple Threat affair. The streak and a spot at the biggest show of the year are on the line. Talk about high stakes!
· Alexa Bliss made her way to the ring and complained about being treated unfairly when it comes to defending her title inside the Chamber. The Universal Championship isn’t on the line in the Men’s Chamber Match which should automatically exempt her from competing in the women’s bout.
· Angle stated that Bliss hasn’t defended her title since October. Bliss shot back by saying that he’s responsible for making the matches. Feeling exasperated, Angle asked the audience if they wanted to see Bliss defend her title inside the Chamber. This was a risky move because the fans actually backed Bliss’ argument, but they stayed on the script by chanting “Yes!” as the segment came to an end.
· Bliss had a great point, but she was overruled in the end. If she tried to state her case to Stephanie McMahon, things would’ve ended badly for Little Miss Bliss. It’s like leading a lamb to slaughter…
· Asuka defeated Bayley with an Armbar in a solid match. Both ladies delivered the goods, but the outcome was never in doubt.
· The Miz defeated Apollo Crews with the Skull Crushing Finale to advance to the Elimination Chamber match. Miz vs. Crews was surprisingly competitive as Crews had a nice showing. Jonathan Coachman was astute on commentary as he criticized Crews for going to the well too many times instead of finishing Miz off when he had the chance. Crews went for pay dirt, but he got caught between the ropes which set up the finish moments later.
· The fact is not lost on me that Reigns will get one of his wins back against Miz when he pins him clean inside the Chamber. Just a hunch…
· Jason Jordan is still not medically cleared to compete which put Seth Rollins in a bind leading up the Raw Tag Team Championship against Sheamus and Cesaro. Roman Reigns was more than happy to provide the assist as Kurt Angle nodded in approval.
· Sheamus and Cesaro defeated Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns via disqualification to retain the Raw Tag Team Championship after Jason Jordan punched Sheamus in front of the referee. To say Rollins and Reigns were pissed off would be an understatement. Before the bullshit finish, this was a good match as Rollins became the hometown hero down the stretch. He was on fire like the flames on his pants as the Des Moines native put on a one-man show.
· Jordan made his way to ringside to provide emotional support and helped his partner get out of a jam when he grabbed Cesaro’s leg which helped Rollins score a near fall.
· Reigns told Jordan to hit the showers because he and Rollins had everything under control. Jordan started to head towards the back when The Bar tried to get counted out on purpose. This led to the ill-fated punch which set up the DQ finish moments later.
· Jordan looked guilty, but it could’ve been an act because he didn’t want Reigns to steal his spotlight. If that’s the case, mission accomplished! If not, Jordan just became the most hated man in Iowa.
· Kurt Angle just went Uncle Phil on Jason Jordan…
· Nia Jax destroyed Vanessa Floyd with a leg drop in quick and decisive fashion.
· Mickie James defeated Sonya Deville with a roll-up in a decent match. After the match was over, Mandy Rose and Deville double-teamed James until ALEXA BLISS made the save. James looked confused as Bliss helped her to the back. Something tells me that Bliss is trying to worm her way into James’ good graces ahead of the women’s Elimination Chamber match.
· A Second Chance Fatal 4-Way featuring Matt Hardy, Bray Wyatt, Finn Bàlor, and Apollo Crews with the winner securing the final spot in the Elimination Chamber Match. It should be a good one if everything goes according to plan.
· Elias will be the final man to enter the Elimination Chamber as he pinned John Cena thanks to an assist from Braun Strowman. The Triple Threat Match featuring Elias, Strowman, and Cena was fine but nothing special. Cena and Elias joined forces to take out Strowman as they laid him out at ringside before turning on each other.
· Cena got back on offense as he nailed Elias with the Five Knuckle Shuffle. Cena tried to finish off The Drifter when Strowman caught Cena and dropped him with a Running Powerslam. Elias knocked Strowman out of the ring and picked up the tainted win moments later.
· Elias’ celebration was short-lived as Strowman laid him out with a Running Powerslam. Cena ate a second Powerslam as the fans egged Strowman on. He gave them what they wanted as he laid out both men two more times before Raw went off the air with Strowman fist bumping fans at ringside.
· This was a good way to end the show. Outside of Seth Rollins, Strowman was the most over star in the building. It’s weird to see Cena almost treated like an afterthought, but it happened here tonight. This is becoming a disturbing trend as of late because Cena is usually positioned as a top star despite not being featured in a front-burner storyline. Elias needs the rub, but seeing Cena in such a nothing feud is surprising to see in 2018.
· Despite his part-time status, Cena should still be a top five star in WWE. Unless the company is waiting to pull the trigger on his rumored match against The Undertaker the night after the Elimination Chamber PPV, I don’t get the creative direction thus far. I know that hardcore fans have been clamoring for Cena to take a backseat over the past several years, but he still has equity as a marquee draw and it’s stunning that the company is treating him like a random guy on the roster with zero cachet.
· That might not be the case behind the scenes, but the presentation of his character has been lazy and uninventive ever since his ho-hum return at Survivor Series last November. Here’s hoping Cena has a meaty storyline to sink his teeth into as we head into the heart of WrestleMania season because seeing him swim in the shallow waters of mediocrity is so 2002.
· Overall, I thought tonight’s episode of Raw was middling at best. The Des Moines crowd was lukewarm as the in-ring action ranged from decent to solid. This felt like a glorified house show that happened to air on live television. There was no spark outside of Seth Rollins and Braun Strowman kicking ass during the third hour. Outside of that, the fans were subdued most of the night.
· WWE is doing a nice job hyping the Elimination Chamber PPV even though it’s predicated on the two chamber matches so far. The card should feature some decent mid-card bouts, but the show will be bookended by the Chamber matches. I have a sneaky feeling that Asuka vs. Nia Jax might steal the show if they are given enough time to do so. Their match on Raw a few weeks ago was a pleasant surprise. Let’s hope they can recapture the magic in Las Vegas later this month. Fingers crossed!
On that note, this wraps up another edition of The Raw Exposé. I hope you enjoyed it and I will be back tomorrow night with a brand new installment of The SmackDown Files. See you later, boys and girls!