HEYDORN’S WWE RAW REPORT 2/18: Alt Perspective coverage of the live show including Elimination Chamber fallout, Balor’s IC title reign begins, Corbin vs. Strowman, and more

BY ZACK HEYDORN, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR



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HEYDORN’S WWE RAW REPORT
FEBRUARY 18, 2019
LAFAYETTE, LA
AIRED ON USA NETWORK

Announcers: Michael Cole, Corey Graves, Renee Young

[HOUR ONE]

-The show began with Michael Cole welcoming the audience to the program as Triple H stepped through the ropes and into the ring. Triple H then got on the microphone and pumped up the fact that they were on the road to WrestleMania. From there, Triple H put over Sasha Banks and Bayley making history in becoming the first ever WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions. He then highlighted Finn Balor’s Intercontinental Championship victory before discussing Kofi Kingston. As he did, the audience chanted “Kofi.” Triple H then addressed Becky Lynch and touted the fact that she wouldn’t let a 60 day suspension get in the way of dishing out payback to Charlotte and Ronda Rousey. Triple H then said that even though Becky destroying Ronda and Charlotte was “pretty cool,” she’d be arrested on the spot if she did it again. After Becky, Triple H hyped the fact that DX was the first inductee into this year’s Hall Of Fame. He then said that if that wasn’t enough to showcase the excitement on the Road To WrestleMania, his next announcement would. He then announced that brand new NXT stars would be making their debut on Raw tonight.

Heydorn’s Analysis: Huge news depending on who the NXT stars are. Intriguing to say the least and a good hook to keep an audience throughout the three hour show.

Triple H then announced Ricochet, Alistair Black, Johnny Gargano, and Tommaso Ciampa. After he announced each name, Michael Cole gave a quick snapshot on top of a video package that detailed each star.

Heydorn’s Analysis: Well, that’ll do it. Outside of Velveteen Dream and Adam Cole, this is the cream of the crop as far as NXT talent goes. Massive news across the board and a clear shift in direction for Raw.

When the announcements ended, Triple H said that the future was now. From there, he announced a table match between Baron Corbin and Braun Strowman. Strowman’s music proceeded to hit and Braun got a nice reaction of Braun roars from the audience. As he walked to the ring, the announce team discussed the happenings between Corbin and Strowman at Elimination Chamber. Then, as Strowman paced in the ring, Corbin’s music hit for his entrance. After Corbin made his entrance, he picked up the steel steps and teased walking into the ring as the show went to commercial break. (c)

Heydorn’s Analysis: Well, that entire segment lived on two polar opposite ends of the WWE Raw spectrum. A refreshing start with the NXT stars all the way to a beaten down feud between Strowman and Corbin. They need to leave this feud here. The table stipulation can do that given the history from last night at Elimination Chamber. 

(1) BRAUN STROWMAN vs. BARON CORBIN – Tables Match

Right out of the break, the bell rang and the match began. Strowman stared Corbin down to start as the audience chanted “get these hands.” Corbin then punched Strowman in his injured ribs. Strowman sold it for a bit, but then tossed Corbin out of the ring. While out there, Strowman beat Corbin down and pulled tables from underneath the ring. Eventually, Corbin countered Strowman’s offense and pushed the tables back underneath the ring. From there, Corbin assaulted Strowman’s ribs by slamming him into the ring barrier. As he did, the announce team discussed what Corbin, Lashley, and McIntyre did to Strowman at Elimination Chamber.

Heydorn’s Analysis: They mentioned last night, but without outrage? How does Corbin get heat if the announcers act like everything that happened last night was the norm?

Strowman got a brief run of offense in on the heels of Corbin’s attack, but eventually Corbin took momentum back and worked over Strowman’s ribs. The battle led back into the ring, but quickly spilled to the outside again and Corbin continued to beat on Braun’s injured ribs. Finally, Strowman reversed Corbin’s offense and suplexed him onto the steel ramp. The battle then rolled up to the top of the ramp where there were additional tables. Strowman then dismantled the announcer table and walked back toward Corbin as Corbin writhed in pain. From there, Strowman lifted Corbin above his shoulder to put him through that table, but Corbin countered and shoved Strowman off the stage as the show went to break. (c)

Heydorn’s Analysis: Good intensity and good pacing, but Strowman is giving an awful lot to Corbin thus far. Strowman selling the ribs as much as he is hinders the notion that he’s and unstoppable monster. Between Corbin winning last night and Strowman selling this way tonight, Corbin looks like the bigger  monster. That can’t be WWE’s goal here, but that’s the reality.

When the show returned from the break, Strowman took control of the match. He clubbed Corbin in the ring and lifted him on his shoulder again to put him through a table that was setup in the corner. Again, Corbin countered the move and kept up his attack. In the end, and after a battle on the outside of the ring with a unique spot with the stairs, Strowman caught Corbin and lifted him for a powerslam. He then connected with that move into the table setup in the ring for the victory.

WINNER: Strowman via a powerslam into a table

Heydorn’s Analysis: A fine match, but one that should have taken place last night at the PPV to solidify Strowman’s win in the biggest way possible. It worked, but the mark of Corbin beating Strowman less than 24 hours ago impacted this victory in a negative way.

-After the match, Strowman celebrated in the ring. As he did, Cole hyped the NXT superstars and announced that Gargano and Ciampa would face the Revival tonight in a tag team match. They then announced Ronda Rousey vs. Ruby Riott once again. When Strowman finished celebrating, he walked up the ramp as Paul Heyman walked out. Heyman had some words from Strowman and Strowman responded by grabbing his neck. Strowman then walked off as Heyman looked relieved. From there, Heyman attempted his standard introduction, but was booed when he couldn’t get it out. The show then went to break. (c)

-Out of the break, Heyman was in the ring with a microphone in hand. He paced back and forth but then addressed the audience without his typical intro. He then said that everyone should be jealous of his client, Brock Lesnar. Heyman then announced that he put a video package together to educate the fans on Lesnar’s rise to glory in the WWE. The video detailed Lesnar’s history while hyping his WrestleMania match against Seth Rollins.

Heydorn’s Analysis: That’s a nice piece of production right there. Defines Brock Lesnar as a top star and defines stakes for WrestleMania. Good stuff.

When the video ended, Heyman addressed the audience again in regards to Lesnar. Heyman polled the audience and asked them how many thought Rollins would win the Universal Title at WrestleMania. The audience cheered and chanted “burn it down” in response. To that, Heyman said that there wasn’t enough fire in the soul of Rollins to burn down suplex city. From there, Finn Balor’s music hit to big reaction from the crowd. As he made his way to to the ring, the announce team highlighted his IC championship victory from last night. The show then went to break. (c)

Heydorn’s Analysis: The announcers are selling Balor’s “big” win from last night. He didn’t pin the champion though and that hurts his reign regardless of how Cole and Renee position it. 

-Out of the break, Balor stood in the ring as the audience chanted too sweet. Balor said it had been awhile since he’s held a championship and it feels good to do so. From there, Balor said that its been a dream of his to hold the IC championship. He said he was proud to maintain its legacy and that he plans on defending it regularly. As he spoke, Lio Rush walked out with an upset look on his face. Rush told Balor that he doesn’t deserve to be the IC champion. He said that Bobby Lashley is the one that deserves the title. As he spoke, Lashley attacked Balor from behind. He beat on Balor for a while before Rush got into the mix. Together, Rush and Lashley beat on Finn as the audience booed. Rush then hit Balor with the Final Hour. As soon as he did, Ricochet’s music hit and he hit the ring to save Balor. He hit a few flashy moves before standing in the ring with Balor as the show went to break. (c)

Heydorn’s Analysis: Solid energy from Ricochet and most of the audience seemed to know who he was, but not all. He needs a great showcase here to showoff what he can do and who he is. Crazy to say just minutes into his debut, but with the expectations that Triple H set at the top of the show, this is a big moment for Ricochet the man and Ricochet the act.

(2) FINN BALOR & RICOCHET vs. BOBBY LASHLEY & LIO RUSH

As soon as the show returned from the break, the bell rang, and the match began. Ricochet started off against Lio Rush.

[HOUR TWO]

Both men exchanged headlocks before they traded counters in the middle of the ring. From there, they continue their fast paced action until Ricochet took Rush down with a hurricanrana and dropkick.

Heydorn’s Analysis: Great stuff out of the gate. Props to Rush who kept up and help sell Ricochet’s style.

After, Rush tagged Lashley into the ring. Ricochet quickly locked Lashley in a headlock, but that was quickly reversed into a sidewalk slam. After, Lashley controlled the match and locked in a shoulder submission on Ricochet. As the move was applied, the audience clapped for Ricochet and he responded by nailing Lashley with stiff strikes to the face. From there, he connected with a rolling dropkick that knocked Lashley out of the ring. Ricochet then went for a dive, but hit his flip pose instead as Rush and Lashley regrouped. The regroup included Rush tagging into the match to fight Ricochet again. Seeing this, Finn Balor requested a chance at Rush and tagged into the match after Ricochet obliged.

Heydorn’s Analysis: Smart tag. Ricochet wasn’t weakened and didn’t need to tag, but he did so to oblige his partner who wanted to get at Rush. Good booking that keeps Ricochet protected. Small, but important as he debuts. 

Balor quickly got the upperhand on Rush, but after Lashley tagged in, he lost control of the match to Bobby. Balor was beat down by Lashley, before Rush tagged back into the match to pick up the scraps. Eventually, Balor countered Rush and nailed him with a basement dropkick. Balor then took momentum and beat Rush up around the ring. Balor hit a series of chops on Rush before hitting his launch dropkick into the corner. From there, Balor went for the Coup De Gras, but Lashley distracted him. Because he was distracted, Rush chop blocked Balor’s knee. This brought the momentum back to the side of Lashley and Rush. On the apron, Ricochet worked to pump Balor up and get the audience cheering for a tag. With Lashley still in control, the show went to break. (c)

Heydorn’s Analysis: The crowd is primed and ready for the hot tag to Ricochet. Great psychology and story for the match. Executed to a “T” thus far. 

Out of the break, Lashley was still fully in control of the match and had Balor in a deep headlock. Finally, Balor hit the standing double stomp on Lashley and made the tag to Ricochet. Upon entering, Ricochet hit a flurry of offense including top rope moves and a corkscrew dive over the top rope and onto Rush. He then connected with a springboard uppercut. After, he connected with his double flip senton for the 1,2,3 win.

WINNER: Balor and Ricochet via pinfall

Heydorn’s Analysis: A really good match and a true showcase for Ricochet. The story was rooted in his hot tag and the entire match built to it well. In turn, the crowd reacted in a big way. Well done.

-After the match, Ricochet and Balor celebrated in the ring before Triple H was shown backstage. He was confronted by Drew McIntyre. McIntyre said that he wanted to prove to Triple H that he could beat Seth Rollins and main event WrestleMania instead. As Triple H was deciding, Dean Ambrose appeared and slapped Drew in the face. Triple H then suggested he make Ambrose vs. McIntyre instead. Drew agreed and walked off. (c)

-Out of the break, Lucha House Party made their entrance. As they did, the announce team highlighted the events of last week between Vince McMahon and Becky Lynch. From there, videos aired that highlighted weekend events between Charlotte and Becky and last night’s events at Elimination Chamber. When the videos ended, the announce team reiterated that if Lynch shows up again, she would be prosecuted.

Heydorn’s Analysis: The announce team reminding the audience what happens to Becky if she shows up is a very good clue as to whether or not she’ll appear. Still, a good video recap that did a nice job at making all three women look like true stars worthy of a WrestleMania main event. 

(3) GRAN METALIK & LINCE DORADO w/ Kalisto vs. ZACK RYDER & CURT HAWKINS

To start, Metalik and Dorado controlled the match with their high flying offense. As they hit this, the announce team discussed the history between Ryder and Hawkins. Throughout the match, Hawkins and Ryder got bits of offense in, but the outcome still saw them on the losing side of things after Dorado pinned Hawkins with a hurricanrana.

WINNER: Lucha House Party via pinfall

-After the match, LHP celebrated their victory. As they did, Heavy Machinery walked out and were interviewed by Charly Caruso. They told the audience that they were blue collar and that they were known to get the job done. They said they enjoyed steaks and weights before saying that they were ready for any challenge. As they spoke, Lacey Evans interuppted and walked down the ramp. She then did a quick pose and walked back up the ramp as Heavy Machinery looked on. They then strutted down to the ring as Evans looked on in an effort to impress her. The show then went to break. (c)

Heydorn’s Analysis: What in the heck was that? Lacey Evans and Heavy Machinery are two very new acts on Raw and in WWE. Even if they aren’t going to be main event level acts for the company, it behooves WWE to debut them in a way that makes them appealing to the audience. This wasn’t that. This was embarrassing, juvenile, and a poor attempt at comedy. 

-Out of the break, Ciampa and Gargano were shown backstage. They discussed their tag team match before being interuppted by Bobby Roode and Chad Gable. They congratulated them for their Raw debut but questioned why they got a tag match against the Revival and not them. Gargano answered and said that they’ve been running the hottest brand in the world and that they are there to take over. From there, The Revival popped in. Ciampa stopped Revival’s introductions and said they were there to make an impact at everyone else’s expense. Dash and Dawson then walked off and made their entrance to the ring.

(4) THE REVIVAL vs. JOHNNY GARGANO & TOMASSO CIAMPA

Once the Revival got to the ring, Ciampa walked out and was followed by Gargano. Together, they walked to the ring and once they got there, the bell rang for the match to begin. Gargano and Dash started things off an tied up in the middle of the ring. Gargano wrestled himself out of the tie-up and took Dash down to the mat before tagging Ciampa into the bout. Eventually, Gargano tagged back into the match and hit a suicide dive before the show went to commercial break. (c)

Heydorn’s Analysis: Gargano and Ciampa are certainly a breath of fresh air for Raw. That said, seeing them presented together without the layer of emotional distress and mistrust that bleeds between them on NXT is a missing ingredient tonight and one that has made each act flourish to this point.

Out of the break, the action continued with Dash holding the momentum over Gargano in the middle of the ring. Dash then tagged Dawson into the match, which allowed Gargano time to gain the upperhand with a step up enziguri. From there, Gargano tagged Ciampa into the match and Ciampa owned Dawson with a series of German suplexes. After, Ciampa hit Dawson with a knee to the face before attempting a double under hook suplex. As he did, Dash countered the hold for Dawson and then rolled Ciampa up for a two count pin. In the end, Ciampa and Gargano hit their DIY double kick finish for the 1,2,3 win.

WINNER: Gargano and Ciampa via pinfall

Heydorn’s Analysis: Good match start to finish. Seeing Ciampa essentially work as a babyface was unsettling though.

-After the match, Finn Balor and Ricochet were shown talking backstage. Caruso interuppted them for an interview and Balor said last night was his night and this night was Ricochet’s. Ricochet said that his debut went as he dreamed. He then said that he’d continue to show everyone on Raw why he’s the one and only. (c)

Heydorn’s Analysis: Clunky, clunky, clunky. Did Ronda Rousey give Ricochet promo tips? Ronda can pull of the disjointed promo with her natural personality. Ricochet can’t. His physical gifts and ring work will get him far, but he needs to shore up the mic work to be a top guy for the company.

-Out of the break, a second selfie promo aired from Kevin Owens. Owens discussed his return and ate popcorn before saying that he was ready to fight again.

-After the promo, Sasha Banks and Bayley walked out with their new tag team championship belts.

[HOUR THREE]

They walked down to the ring and interacted with fans around the ringside area as they did. From there, they entered the ring and posed before addressing the audience on the microphone. As they tried to talk, the crowd chanted “you deserve it.” When the chants died down, Bayley thanked the crowd and said that last night was emotional for both her and Sasha. Bayley said she couldn’t believe that they were the first ever women’s tag team champions. Sasha then spoke and said that even though it feels like a dream, it isn’t because they did it, and did it together. Banks then recapped the history her and Bayley made since their time in NXT. Bayley then said that they plan on taking over the world and being the tag champions for a long time. Banks said that they’d defend the titles against the past, present, and future. Finally, Bayley said that there wasn’t a stronger connection than the Boss and Hug Connection. From there, Banks and Bayley posed again before being interuppted by Nia Jax and Tamina.

Heydorn’s Analysis: A good message and one that has defined Bayley and Sasha since their call up. Their cadence and delivery seemed off though. Like they were remembering lines.

Jax told both Bayley and Sasha that nobody wanted to hear about their love fest. She then congratulated them on winning the tag titles. From there, Jax addressed Banks and said that she only cares about herself. Tamina then jumped in and said that last night they got lucky, but that their luck would run out. After she said that, Jax and Tamina rushed the ring, but Sasha and Bayley beat them down and ran them off. After, Banks and Bayley celebrated.

Heydorn’s Analysis: Silly. Jax and Tamina are the biggest threats on the roster for the tag titles. And they’re run off in mere seconds?

-A Hall Of Fame entry video aired for DX before the show went to break. (c)

-Out of the break, Dean Ambrose hit the ring to a positive reaction from the crowd.

(5) DREW MCINTYRE vs. DEAN AMBROSE

As he walked to the ring, the announce team replayed the backstage segment between Ambrose and Drew. Once Ambrose got to the ring, McIntyre made his entrance and made a b-line for Ambrose as he did. Once he got there, the bell rang and the match began. To start, McIntyre clocked Ambrose with a headbutt before mounting Ambrose and crushing him with strikes to the face. From there, Drew chopped Ambrose in the chest while taunting him. In response, Ambrose chopped McIntyre. He then kicked Drew out of the ring before connecting with a suicide dive through the ropes. Eventually, Drew took over again and nailed Ambrose with the Claymore kick. Instead of covering, McIntyre hit a second Claymore kick and then made the pin for the victory.

WINNER: McIntyre via pinfall

Heydorn’s Analysis: Squash city and a good win for McIntyre. WWE needs to be careful with Ambrose. If he gets beaten too much like he just was, using him to put over new stars becomes a card WWE can’t play.

-After the match, a second history hype video for Brock Lesnar aired. When the video ended, Seth Rollins was interviewed backstage. Rollins said that everything Heyman said about Lesnar was the truth. Rollins said Heyman is mixed up because he isn’t walking into WrestleMania with a death wish, but a recognition of what would happen to him. Rollins said that he’d end the reign of Lesnar at WrestleMania and leave the show as the Universal Champion. When Rollins finished up talking, Dean Ambrose was shown behind Rollins. Ambrose asked Rollins where he was while Ambrose was getting attacked. In response, Rollins asked if Ambrose had lost his mind. Ambrose said “ehh” before walking off. From there, the Elias strum was heard as the show went to break. (c)

Heydorn’s Analysis: Good promo from Seth regarding Lesnar. He continues to define his WrestleMania mission and each time I hear it, I buy in more. That said, WWE needs to keep a checked out Dean Ambrose far away from this story.

-Out of the break, Elias was introduced and he said he was fed up with the way he’s been treated. He said he was the most talented star to come in and certainly better than anyone from Lafayette. He called himself a musical genius and then announced he’d sing a song. He said he’d sing it for himself and not for anyone in the audience. As Elias was about to start, Alistair Black interuppted him. Black did his full entrance as Cole called him the dark and intimidating Alistair Black.

Heydorn’s Analysis: Like the other NXT call ups tonight, people seemed to know who Black was, but didn’t react much to him. He’s a characters with layers and can’t be fully understood in one entrance or one match. WWE needs to take their time with him if he is to realize his full potential. 

When the entrance ended, Black stared down Elias in the ring. He then grabbed a microphone and said that if silence is what Elias needs, he’d help him fade to black.

(6) ELIAS vs. ALISTAIR BLACK

When the match began, Black toyed with Elias and did his flip into a sit as the show went to break. (c)

Out of the break, the action continued. Elias maintained control and grounded Black with a headlock. From there, Black escaped the hold and hit a series of strikes on Elias. He took out Elias’s legs and then nailed a him with a running knee. Out of that move, Black connected with a moonsault before making a cover, but Elias kicked out at two. Right out of the pin, Black climbed to the top rope and jumped off, but Elias countered his move with a knee to the face. He then lifted Black back to his feet, but Black hit Black Mass out of nowhere for the win. (c)

WINNER: Black via pinfall

Heydorn’s Analysis: A showcase match that did its job. Too much selling from Black against a proven loser in Elias, but nothing that will derail the character.

-Out of the commercial break, Ronda Rousey hit the ring. She walked with a purpose and raised her title in front of Ruby Riott’s face. Riott made her entrance during the commercial break.

(7) RUBY RIOTT vs. RONDA ROUSEY – WWE Raw Women’s Championship

As soon as the bell rang, Rousey took Riott to the mat. Riott then rolled out of the ring to get some words in with Morgan and Logan before climbing back into the ring. When she did, she dropped Ronda on the back of her neck and then covered, but Rousey kicked out at two. From there, Riott kept up her offense and kicked Rousey in the stomach. After, Riott lifted Rousey to her feet and connected with a monkey flip. As Riott worked to build off the move, Rousey locked in a submission, but Riott escaped as the show went to break. (c)

When the show returned, Riott was back in control of the match. She locked in an arm submission on Rousey as Cole highlighted the involvement of Morgan and Logan during the break.

Heydorn’s Analysis: Props to the announce team for highlighting the fact that Riott had a bettering showing tonight thus far due to the fact that her posse was ringside. Consistent and well done. 

From there, Riott went for a pin on Rousey, but only got a two count. Out of the pin, Riott placed Rousey in a headlock as the audience chanted “we want Becky.” Eventually, Rousey escaped the hold and pumped up to the audience. After she did, she whipped Riott to the ground before connecting with a jumping elbow. Rousey attempted a second one, but Riott countered and slammed her into the turnbuckle. In the end, Rousey kicked out of the Riott kick and weather Riott’s storm before connecting with a flying cross body on all three members of the Riott Squad. Ronda then locked in the armbar for the submission victory.

WINNER: Rousey via submission

-After the match, the Riott Squad attacked Rousey. Rousey quickly dismissed them as the show faded to black.

Heydorn’s Analysis: Putting over Rousey strong is the right call from now until WrestleMania. She’s the main event and needs to be treated as such. If that means Riott playing second fiddle, so be it. Her time will come, it’s just not right now. 

FINAL THOUGHTS: What a strange show. Period. The debuts were fun, but the crowd’s lack of a reaction speaks to Raw’s bigger issues.


NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S REPORT: HEYDORN’S WWE RAW REPORT 2/11: Alt Perspective coverage of the live show including Becky Lynch’s return to Raw, Seth Rollins’ response to Brock Lesnar, final hype for Elimination Chamber, and more

4 Comments on HEYDORN’S WWE RAW REPORT 2/18: Alt Perspective coverage of the live show including Elimination Chamber fallout, Balor’s IC title reign begins, Corbin vs. Strowman, and more

  1. The way they’ve booked Ronda to destroy the Riott Squad, and others, is frustrating. I’m tired of it. I hope she goes to start a family after Mania.

  2. I like the fact that the guy who writes this seems like a real fan and isn’t just negative for the sake of it like other critics…..

  3. Re: the dead crowd. I don’t know what’s worse. Reacting to “superstars” who don’t deserve it. Or spending your hard earned money to be there and then sitting on your hands. There’s a reason they call us marks. But if you don’t like what you’re seeing, stay home. That’s the only thing they understand, whether the “they” is WWE, your local NFL franchise, the cinema, you get the drift.

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