SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Opening Segment – HIT: Raw got off to a good start with the new WWE Champion Brock Lesnar coming out to introduce himself. Lesnar continues to have a blast as a babyface. Paul Heyman interrupted to inform Lesnar that he has to defend his newly won Title in a few weeks against some mystery opponent. The banter back and forth between Lesnar and Heyman was strong. It set up a WWE Title match for a big house show at MSG plus teased that Lesnar will be on Smackdown on Friday. So, it was entertaining and successful in a few ways.
Alpha Academy vs. Street Profits – HIT: I continue to be pleased that WWE is keeping Alpha Academy strong as the Tag Team Champions. Unfortunately, the Street Profits continue to lose. It doesn’t have to be an either or situation if they had lower card teams who could lose to Alpha Academy while others lose to the Street Profits to keep them strong for an eventual run at the Titles. Now, they don’t look like Championship material. At least they continue to have good matches like this one.
Dirty Dawgs vs. Ciampa & Balor – HIT: It was good to see Tommaso Ciampa wrestling on Raw. It was also good to see Finn Balor back after a brief absence. They tied into his past in NXT nicely as he stepped up to team with Ciampa against The Dirty Dawgs. They are doing a nice job of cross promoting Raw and NXT with this feud between Ciampa and Dolph Ziggler. Plus, it was a good match.
MizTV – MISS: I get that Logan Paul is a draw on PPV. I appreciate the fact that he is correctly cast as a heel to team with The Miz against The Mysterios. Also, they aren’t trying to put him in a top of the card position. If you are going to use him, this is the way to do it. But, I don’t want to see it. The cutesy tease of Cody Rhodes from The Miz didn’t work. It was lame. I haven’t enjoyed the storyline with Miz and The Mysterios so far. The mic work from Dominic was weak as it has been for most of his WWE career. So, this just didn’t do it for me.
Ripley vs. Cross – HIT: I’m giving this a Hit only for the fact that WWE didn’t do what I feared they would which is give Nikki Cross a tainted win to continue her program against Rhea Ripley. Thankfully, they had Ripley get another strong win. I hope this is the last match between them. They need to move Ripley onto something new, hopefully a meaningful match for WrestleMania.
Damian Priest – MISS: Damian Priest seems lost right now. They had something good with him as a strong, cool United States Champion. They started going more and more towards this Demon inside character, seemingly to set up an eventual heel turn. But that story saw him lose multiple non-title matches after he had been undefeated for quite awhile. That did damage. The last few weeks, they have pulled back on the Demon inside bit which has left him feeling like a man without a character. His match against Finn Balor next week should be good, maybe great, but he doesn’t feel like he’s in a strong position heading into WM.
Bel Air – Lynch – HIT: This was a very good segment to start the build towards Bianca Bel Air challenging Becky Lynch for the Raw Women’s Championship. Bel Air was definitely the right choice to win the Elimination Chamber. This feels very WM-worthy as the culmination of the feud that started at SummerSlam last year with Becky’s return and subsequent heel turn. She is doing such a great job as a heel, and Bel Air is over as a babyface, so Becky is getting that negative reaction that they want. They both played their parts very well here. It is interesting to hear Becky blaming Bel Air for the fans turning on her. This was a good first step and I look forward to seeing how they continue the build over the next few weeks.
Bel Air vs. Doudrop – HIT: That good talking segment was followed up very nicely by this good match between Bel Air and Doudrop. Lynch was good on guest commentary adding to the quality of the match. The match played well into Bel Air’s power as she eventually was able to lift Doudrop up on her shoulders for the Kiss of Death for the win. Doudrop is talented and continues to have good matches. I wonder if they could rehab her over the next few weeks, give her some strong wins and have her face Ripley at WM. There should be more than just two women’s title matches, a battle royal and maybe a tag title match on two WM shows. Doudrop and Ripley both deserve a singles match at the show.
Edge – HIT: I remember a few retired wrestlers giving amazing promos in WWE that really put over something important. Rowdy Roddy Piper did one putting over the importance of the WWE Title to John Cena. Mick Foley did one when he addressed Edge before a Hell in a Cell match against Undertaker. Now Edge isn’t retired, but he is a legacy star cutting a promo where he put over the importance of WrestleMania. I thoroughly enjoyed his trip down memory lane as he discussed his history at WM. He set up how important it is for him to have a big match while challenging someone to step up and face him. The rumors are that it will be AJ Styles which would be very good. I am definitely curious to see what happens next week.
RK-Bro vs. Rollins & Owens – HIT: WWE did a nice job of building towards the main event which had important ramifications as Seth Rollins & Kevin Owens would be added to the Tag Title match in two weeks if they could beat RK-Bro here. It isn’t surprising that these four very talented wrestlers would have a good match. I suspected that RK-Bro would win to keep the Tag Title match two-on-two and continue the Kevin Owens in limbo before WM angle. But, that would have also put Seth Rollins in limbo too which hadn’t been part of the story. It is now, as he lost at the Elimination Chamber. Having them win here to drag that storyline out (in a good way) makes sense. They won’t have to go back to the idea that Owens might not be at WM until after that Tag Title match. Are they going to go with Owens vs. Rollins? Or is some type of Owens vs. Steve Austin match or moment still in the works? If so, where does that leave Rollins? It will be interesting to see what happens going forward.
Jon Mezzera is PWTorch.com’s WWE Hits & Misses Specialist, providing his point of view for Raw and Smackdown each week. Email him at email@example.com.
CATCH-UP: 2/21 WWE MONDAY NIGHT RAW RESULTS: Keller’s report on new WWE Champ Lesnar addressing “Winner Take All” match at WM, RK-Bro vs. Seth & KO, Miz TV
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