We All Just Want To Go To Wrestlemania – WWE Raw Recap and Reaction – January 29, 2018

Still in Philadelphia, which thank God because it gave The Miz a chance to troll the Eagles, Monday Night Raw is all about setting up for Elimination Chamber.

Let’s Set The Stakes

Stephanie McMahon opens the show and invites our inaugural Women’s Royal Rumble winner, Asuka, to the ring.  Asuka thanks the audience, but before she can make a choice about which title she wants an opportunity at, Stephanie tells her she may want to wait to make a decision, since Alexa Bliss might not be champion come Wrestlemania, because she’ll defend her belt in four weeks in the first ever women’s Elimination Chamber match.

They’re interrupted by Sasha Banks, the “attention hungry” Sasha Banks according to Corey Graves (and I agree), who challenges Asuka tonight, a match which Stephanie eagerly books.  #AsukasGonnaKillYou

The General Manager also informs the WWE Universe that a series of matches will determine qualifiers for the men’s Elimination Chamber match, and the winner of that match will challenge Brock Lesnar for the Universal Championship at Wrestlemania (as Nakamura has chosen the dream match against AJ Styles with his Royal Rumble victory).

Elimination Chamber Qualifying

  • Braun Strowman def. Kane in a Last Man Standing match when the referee deemed Kane could not go on.  Strowman overturned the entire announcers stage on Kane this time.  At some point, he’s going to flip the ring on someone.  Just wait for it.  It’s coming.  In a post match interview with Graves, Strowman said he did his job, because it was a last man standing match and Kane can’t stand, so #GetTheseHands.
  • Elias Samson serenaded (read: trolled) Philadelphia before def. Woken Matt Hardy to move on to the Elimination Chamber via distractions and mind games from Bray Wyatt.  At some point they’re just going to throw the swerve in and let Samson get a title shot, aren’t they?  I’m on board, just curious if that’s how they’re going to swing for the fences on an Elias Samson payoff in the end.
  • John Cena def. Finn Balor with the Super AA off the top rope.  Cena was getting booed relentlessly during the match, and just looked so sad, trying to remind the crowd that he’s just like everybody else, just trying to get to Wrestlemania.  Two quick notes: I think there’s a great deal of value in letting Cena get #17 over Lesnar, for what it’s worth.  Also, given how great this match played out, I can easily see Kurt Angle stepping in and giving Balor a second shot, or if Cena doesn’t get the job done in the Elimination Chamber, he meets a Demon at Mania where he was rumored to be going against a Dead Man.

The Rest of the Show

  • The Miz def. Roman Reigns for the Intercontinental Championship with a bit of an assist from Bo Dallas.
  • Asuka, as expected, def. Sasha Banks in quite a lengthy match.  Sasha looked good, but Asuka got one of those “I’m taking a beating but pulled a quick finish off to keep the streak alive” endings that has become the pretty common thread for Aleister Black matches.
  • The Dudley Boyz are going to the WWE Hall of Fame in the Class of 2018.
  • The Revival def. Slater and Rhyno, because Philly would have rioted if they hadn’t (not that they take much pushing to come to rioting).
  • The Bar def. Titus Worldwide to retain the Raw Tag Team Championship.  Why in the hell did Titus Worldwide have a championship opportunity here?
  • There was a Ronda Rousey video package, predominantly just recap footage from Rumble, but no actual Rousey.  Say what you wish, but I’m still not hopping on the train until she makes several weekly appearances in a row.  Even Lesnar can be troubled for that right around big events, and she’s going to end up in the Elimination Chamber match, isn’t she?


Looking back on this whole Cena-Balor thing, Balor eliminated Cena at Survivor Series, then Cena returned the favor in the Royal Rumble.  Now Cena has a singles win over the leader of the Balor Club.  I don’t imagine a world where Roman isn’t inserted to win the Elimination Chamber match, but if you can get Balor in there to eliminate Cena once again, that would even the odds and set up for what could be a pretty close second to Nakamura-Styles on that card.  Plus, he got the nod from The Klik/DX last Monday night, so Demon Balor going over Cena at Wrestlemania would be all the convincing I need to think the tales of Vince not thinking Balor is over enough were overblown.  Beat Cena at Mania and there’s not really any reason why Reigns-Balor wouldn’t main event Summerslam, and with Reigns consistent showing since his AJ Styles feud, that match could be absolutely f***ing amazing.

Raw was fine.  B- on a standard grading scale.  Oh, and while we’re speculating on stuff, put Nikki Cross in that Elimination Chamber match and see how quickly she gets over opposite Asuka in another insane match scenario like she did in the Falls Count Anywhere match from NXT.  Or maybe I just really enjoy Nikki Cross.