SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
WWE RAW TV REPORT
FEBRUARY 6, 2023
ORLANDO, FLA. AT AMWAY CENTER
AIRED LIVE ON USA
Commentators: Kevin Patrick, Corey Graves
Ring Announcer: Mike Rome
-After “Then, Now, Forever, Together,” the Raw “Feels Like Greatness” opening aired.
-Kevin Patrick introduced the show as pyro blasted on the stage. He said it was a “jam-packed and rowdy” arena. Corey Graves hyped the cage match, which was visible hanging above the ring.
-Edge’s music played and he came out with his wife Beth Phoenix to a big ovation. A two minute recap aired of the angles between Edge & Phoenix and The Judgment Day dating back to Extreme Rules last October when they attacked Phoenix through Edge’s return at the Royal Rumble last month. Back live, Edge said he needed a few seconds to cool down. He said The Judgment Day is his fault. He said the idea was to elevate talent he thought truly deserved it, “and it worked.” He said everyone in The Judgment Day is better off than they were a year ago. He said fans could applaud that. Most everyone passed on applauding. He touted Finn Balor, Rhea Ripley, and Damian Priest individually. When he mentioned Ripley’s Royal Rumble win, he pointed at the WrestleMania sign and drew attention to doing it deliberately and called it the “mandatory point.” He said, “And Dominik Mysterio is there too.” He said when Phoenix was getting beat down, he felt helpless and he isn’t the man who is used to that feeling. He said they made a bad problem even worse because he is a vindictive, cruel bastard who will sink to any level to get his pound of flesh.
Phoenix cut in and began to challenge Ripley, but she was interrupted by The Judgment Day music. Balor said it might be time for Edge to say “I quit.” He laughed. Dominik said they might have heard “because word on the street travels fast.” He said since they were last around, he has served hard time. He told them to run along before he does something to them that he learned on the inside. He said he did it to his “deadbeat dad” and he didn’t even make it to the Royal Rumble match. Fans chanted “You suck!”
Priest then talked about his plans to beat Angelo Dawkins and earn his slot in Money in the… He cut himself off and told Balor that Edge has him so flustered he can’t even speak right now. He said he will go into the Elimination Chamber and become U.S. Champion. He said he wished Ripley was there, but she is traveling the world promoting WrestleMania. Edge told him to shut up.
Edge said they don’t know what they want. He accused Priest of once saying he didn’t want a leader, but now he’s following Balor around “like a giant Labradoodle.” He said he and Phoenix have each other’s back, but they’d “drop each other faster than ex-com Dom dropped his drawers in the clink.” He said it makes sense given how many times he’s screwed his dad over. He said he can’t wait until Rey snaps and 619s his teeth down his throat.
Phoenix said the real reason Ripley isn’t there is last week she speared her soul out of her body. She challenged Balor & Ripley to face them at the Elimination Chamnber. Balor said they accept, but Edge & Phoenix still have to make it to the Chamber. They walked to the ring and circled Edge and Phoenix. The Street Profits ran out to even the odds. Edge speared Balor. Ford threw Dominik into the ring. Phoenix gave Dominik a Glam Slam.
(Keller’s Analysis: Basic stuff. Dominik was the highlight. Edge’s attempts at humor and clever lines were the worst parts, which isn’t a surprise as his one-liners are just awful.) [c]
(1) DAMIAN PRIEST vs. ANGELO DAWKINS – Elimination Chamber qualifier
As the match began, they went to a split-screen that showed that during the break, Adam Pearce came out and ordered everyone else gone from ringside. Meanwhile, Priest bailed out to ringside. Dawkins knocked him into and over the announce desk. Back in the ring, Priest punched a leaping Dawkins out of mid-air. Priest took control at ringside and clotheslined Dawkins. They cut to a break. [c]
Back from the break, Dawkins was in control after both hit each other mid-ring with clotheslines. Graves called it a see-saw battle from the start. Dawkins landed an exploder suplex for a two count. Priest recovered as Dawkins slowly climbed to the top rope. Priest kicked Dawkins and then hit a Flatliner for a two count at 10:00. Dawkins came back with a silencer for a near fall. Dawkins climbed back to the top rope and landed a swanton for a near fall. After back and forth mid-ring exchanges, Priest landed a spinning kick and South of Heaven for the win.
WINNER: Priest in about 13:00 to earn a spot in the Chamber.
(Keller’s Analysis: This was what you’d expect from these two – hard-hitting, evenly fought, but a little clunky in a couple places. A lot of people were looking forward to Montez Ford and Dawkins both being in the Chamber, but apparently that’s not happening.)
-They showed Austin Theory arriving at the arena earlier in the day in a sports car convertible. He carried the U.S. Title belt over his shoulder.
-Patrick said Sami Zayn turned on Roman Reigns at the Royal Rumble and they’d look back at Smackdown after the break. [c]
-Graves congratulated Bad Bunny for his 2023 Grammy Award.
-Pearce oversaw the Maximum Male Models signing a contract to move to Raw. Chelsea Green approached Pearce and complained about her accommodations, having received the wrong kind of chocolate. When she complained about not being in the Chamber, he said she didn’t last five seconds in the Rumble. She said she could contact his “manager.” She said she has family in the audience and she’d like an opportunity. She said she wanted to be presented as “the big star I am.” She said if it doesn’t happen, she could make one call and have him fired.
-Graves asked “who this chic has dirt on” that she thinks she can get Pearce fired. Patrick threw to the video recap from Smackdown of the Bloodline and Sami Zayn segment.
-Patrick hyped the Usos vs. Braun Strowman & Ricochet match coming up on Friday.
-Baron Corbin and JBL made their ring entrance. [c]
(2) BARON CORBIN (w/JBL) vs. DEXTER LUMIS (w/Johnny Gargano)
Corbin applied a nerve hold on the mat early. Lumis made a comeback with punches and a clothesline in the corner. He landed a running bulldog, a back suplex, and a leaping legdrop after a kip up. He set up another move, but Corbin elbowed out of it. Lumis avoided a charging Dexter, who then hit his one-arm slam for the clean win. They cut immediately to JBL who looked displeased. Gargano entered the ring and applauded.
WINNER: Lumis in 3:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: If they disband the JBL-Corbin alliance, that’d be just fine. They have zero chemistry and it’s somehow set Corbin back from where he was before this. JBL isn’t producing anything to value here because he doesn’t seem to believe in Corbin on any level, either.)
-They went to Graves and Patrick at ringside. Graves said Corbin associated with one of the great wrestling minds in JBL, but he can’t seem to get out of his own way. Patrick threw to a video clip of the attack before the cage match between Bayley and Becky Lynch scheduled on Raw two weeks ago.
-Byron Saxton interviewed Lynch backstage and asked what tonight meant to her. Becky said it all began ten years ago in Orlando when she got off the plane to begin her WWE adventure. She said she met Saxton back then and also Bayley. She said Bayley high-fived people and hugged people and attached herself to whomever she thought could help her get to the top. She said she wanted to be great, too, but she smashed faces. She said Bayley isn’t happy with her success, so she attacked her and went after her shoulder and brought her family into it. She said she’ll teach Bayley not to bring her family into it. She said Bayley can bring her little friends and her little tricks, but there’s one hand she hasn’t played and she thinks tonight might be the night.
-Patrick plugged the cage match. Graves said the news broke earlier that a storm is on the way to Raw in the form of Brock Lesnar. [c]
-Brock Lesnar made his ring entrance. He was in full “ah shucks, golly gee Country Boy” mode as he talked about how much it bothers him that Bobby “Who” eliminated him from the Rumble. He said his mind is always on Lashley. He made a joke about having four or five hours of sex with his wife and then immediately thinking about Lashley after that. He pulled a contract out of his “five dollar jean vest” that lists him against Lashley at the Elimination Chamber. He told Lashley to come to the ring and sign it. Lashley’s music played and he made his way out, looking dapper as usual. Patrick said there is nothing that costs five dollars in Lashley’s wardrobe.
Lashley said when he faced Lesnar for the first time, he pinned Lesnar. He said in their second match, Lesnar won, but “I laid your ass unconscious” as he left the ring. He said at the Rumble, the third time they faced off, he “threw his ass over the top rope without any problem.” He said things will be done on his terms. He said he’ll take the contract and let his agent and manager and lawyer look it over and he’ll get back to Brock. Lashley stepped toward Lesnar and asked if he was surprised that he has one-up on him. He pushed Lesnar’s nose with his index finger, then turned to leave. Lesnar spun him around and gave him an F5. Lesnar put the contract on his chest. Some fans chanted “One more time!” Lesnar gave him another F5.
(Keller’s Analysis: The fans cheered Lesnar, but not wildly. It seems some still see Lashley as the babyface in this dynamic even if it seemed Lashley was going for boos by talking about his lawyer and agent and manager.)
-They went to Graves and Patrick at ringside. Graves talked about what a brawl it’ll be next time Lashley faces Lesnar.
-Backstage, Gargano and Lumis approached Candice LeRae about her big match later. Dexter drew her a picture of Gargano, LeRae, their baby, and their dog, but Nikki Cross was in the background. LeRae noticed and asked about. Nikki then was shown lurking behind them live. LeRae noticed and then Nikki ran away while laughing maniacally.
(Keller’s Analysis: Nikki and Lumis are going to end up together, aren’t they?)
-Carmella made her ring entrance as Patrick hyped the Fatal Four-way match up next. Graves said that’s his wife and she’s gorgeous. [c]
(3) PIPER NIVEN vs. CARMELLA vs. CANDICE LERAE vs. MICHIN – Elimination Chamber Qualifier
After the break, LeRae was in the ring and the very end of Michin’s ring entrance aired. Niven’s full entrance aired. Carmella had some words for Niven at the start. Niven yelled at her and Carmella bailed out to the floor. Niven then went after LeRae and Michin. LeRae and Michin teamed up to knock Niven out of the ring. Carmella tried to steal the pin on LeRae after a Poison Rana by LeRae. That was an awkward landing. Carmella covered Michin for a two count. She tried LeRae and Michin again and screeched at the kickouts. Niven then dove onto all three at once. She scored a two count on Michin. Niven cleared the ring and struck a pose as they cut to a break. [c]
Back from the break, Niven continued to dominate until Michin surprised her with a neckbreaker. Niven rolled to the floor as Carmella and Michin exchanged strikes mid-ring. Niven yanked Carmella out of the ring as Michin tried to cover her for a pin attempt. Niven re-entered the ring and absorbed some Michin strikes, then headbutted her. LeRae hit Niven with a moonsault, with Michin breaking up the cover. Carmella shoved a charging Niven into LeRae in the corner and then stack-covered LeRae for the win. Graves gloated.
WINNER: Carmella in 10:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: No surprise Carmella won with this being her return after seven months away. Niven was presented in a strong way during the match despite not winning.)
-Corbin approached JBL backstage and asked if he wants to go out for drinks. JBL said he isn’t going anywhere with him because he is a former WrestleMania main eventer, and the fact that Corbin is losing and everyone is changing channels when he enters the ring. He said he doesn’t give a damn about Corbin, but he does care that his legacy is taking a hit because of him. JBL said he is a clown and he doesn’t belong near him. Corbin looked distraught and pleaded with him to let him try to get better. JBL said, “You can’t polish a turd; I tried.” He walked away and Corbin looked crestfallen. In the distant background, MVP was chatting with Shelton Benjamin and Cedric Alexander.
-Chad Gable and Otis made their ring entrance. [c]
-Backstage, LeRae was holding her side and catching her breath when Niven shoved her. She said it’s her fault she’s not advancing to the Chamber. Michin told her to back off. Niven said she won’t be so forgiving if they get in her way of headlining WrestleMania again.
(4) CEDRIC ALEXANDER & SHELTON BENJAMIN (w/MVP) vs. OTIS & CHAD GABLE
Graves wondered if MVP joining Shelton and Cedric means all fences have been mended. A graphic said Cody would speak later in the show. (They definitely didn’t hype Cody’s TV appearance this week like they have in the past.) Cedric kicked Gable to the floor a few minutes in. When he dove at Gable, Gable caught him and gave him an exploder suplex. Back in the ring he landed a top rope flying headbutt. Shelton broke up Gable’s cover.
Otis and Shelton battled next. Shelton gave Otis a Samoan drop. Gable knocked Shelton out of the ring. Gable and Cedric did battle again, with Cedric landing a leaping backbreaker for the win.
WINNERS: Shelton & Cedric in 5:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Can Cedric & Shelton be taken seriously again, even if they start winning? At least there’s a new ingredient with MVP rejoining them to help explain why they might start having success again.)
-They went back to Graves and Patrick on camera. Graves said it’s time to put respect back on the names of Cedric and Shelton. They threw to clips of the MVP-Rick Boogs angle last week on Raw.
-Cathy Kelley interviewed Miz backstage and asked for his reaction to the return of Boogs. He said he wants to be reimbursed for what what Boogs did to the $10,000 suit his wife bought for him. Boogs barged ahead of Miz in line to meet with Pearce. Miz said he would have beat him easily if he was dressed and ready to compete. He said Boogs is lucky that Pearce is a lazy, incompetent official. Just then Pearce stepped out of the locker room. Pearce asked Miz from behind, “Tell me how you really feel.” Pearce said he can grant him that rematch with Boogs next week. Boogs was happy with the news. He began working out excitedly. Miz winced. As Pearce turned to return to his office, Green walked up to him and said she is about to enter the ring and he better find an opponent for her or she will call his manager. [c]
(5) CHELSEA GREEN vs. ASUKA
Green made her ring entrance. Graves said Green is talented and a threat to anyone she steps into the ring with, but he took exception to her attitude. When Asuka’s entrance theme began, Patrick and Graves laughed at Green’s fate. Raquel Rodriguez, Liv Morgan, and Natalya were at ringside. Carmella walked out, also. Patrick said this adds pressure to Asuka since all of her Chamber opponents are watching her every move up close. Green dropkicked a distracted Asuka from behind right after the bell. Green yelled at Carmella that she should be in the Chamber match. She turned to yell at Natalya next. Nikki Cross crawled out from under the ring and waved at Green. Green bent over and called her crazy. Meanwhile, Asuka recovered and she took control and submitted Green a minute later.
WINNER: Asuka in 2:00.
-Bianca Belair danced out after the match. She told them all to take a close look at each other. She said she sees six top tier women in WWE, but she asked who has what it takes to win the Chamber and then face the EST of WWE. She said last year, she was in her position and she knows what it takes to win the Chamber match. “That’s how I got this,” she said, pointing at her title. She wished each of them good luck because whomever makes it out, she’ll be ready to see them at WrestleMania. She smiled and pointed up at the WrestleMania sign. [c]
-Cody Rhodes made his entrance, his first appearance on live WWE TV since his name was booed on Smackdown when Roman Reigns mentioned his name in contrast with Sami Zayn. Cody asked, “So what do you want to talk about?” Fans chanted “Cody! Cody!” There did seem to be some booing. Cody said last week he used his interview time to talk to them with respect about his WrestleMania opponent, Roman Reigns. Fans booed, but then started chanting “Sami! Sami!” He said they all read his mind. He said Reigns is his current opponent, but he’s putting his titles on the line at the Elimination Chamber against the man who was kicked up all the dust and has all the momentum and is walking into his hometown – Sami Zayn. More “Sami!” chants. He said the fans seem like a perfect judge of his next question. He said it seems more like he’ll be facing Sami at WrestleMania, not Reigns. He said he says that with the utmost respect. He said Sami is his friend and he wishes him the best of luck. “May the best man win,” he said. Paul Heyman interrupted.
“Ladies and gentleman,” he said. He introduced himself. He said he serves as special counsel to Reigns. Heyman entered the ring to more “Sami” chants. He asked Cody permission to enter the ring. He told Cody that he may one day find out in his life that as a top star the only week busier than the week leading into a major event is the week coming out of a major event. He pointed at the WrestleMania sign and drew attention to his pointing. He said The Bloodline had a lot going on the week after the Rumble, and some things fell through the cracks. He said he and the entire Bloodline would like to congratulate Cody on his Rumble match win. He said he deserved it and shook his hand. Fans chanted, “You deserve it.”
Cody said his father and his brother had a nickname for him, but he’d prefer to call him Mr. Heyman. He said he has an unparalleled respect for him, “and I think you know why.” He said he wants to pull the curtain back for everyone watching. He said he wanted to tell story from the year 2000. He said it was hard times for his family at that time. He said they went broke and had just $100 in a checking account. He said his dad was doing local car commercials not for money, but just so he could keep the car. Fans chanted “Dusty! Dusty!” Cody said he then got a phone call from Heyman. He said he told Dusty that ECW was in town and Steve Corino was going to talk a little smack about him, and if Dusty would appear on ECW, he would pay him and pay him well. An “ECW” chant broke out. Cody said Heyman kept his word. Cody said in addition to the money he sorely needed, ECW gave his dad his confidence back. He said he never repay him for that. He thanked Heyman. Heyman seemed moved. Fans applauded.
Cody then said: “We turn the clocks a bit forward here. I know we don’t talk about it, but before I was here, I was somewhere else causing a little bit of trouble. From one disruptor in sports entertainment to another, you showed me the way. Thank you again.” Heyman wiped a tear from his eye. Fans began chanting, “Thank you, Paul.”
Heyman said he is good and he caught him off guard. He said he came out there to schmooz and he got him personally. Fans applauded. He said if they’re going to peel it back and shoot from the hip, let’s go all the way. He said this isn’t about him. He said with all due respect and adulation, this isn’t about his dad, either. “This is about you,” he told Cody. “This is about everything you have fought for.”
He pointed at the WrestleMania sign and said it’s about everything leading to WrestleMania. He said getting there is a long, long road, and that’s Cody’s story. He said it’s his story to finish to see if he can make his dream come true or suffer the nightmare of coming “just this close.” He said he’s not just trying to win, he’s trying to take it away from the greatest box office attraction and greatest champion of all time, Roman Reigns. He said that’s no easy task for any mere mortal, especially someone who doesn’t know what it’s like under that spotlight.
Heyman brought up that Dusty “trained and prepped” Seth, Becky, Bayley, KO, and Reigns” at the nearby Performance Center. Cody was moved by the list of people Heyman credited with training and prepping that list of names. He said Dusty did not train and prep Cody, though. He said maybe his father wanted him to make it on his own without his help and not go through life as “Dusty’s son.” He said maybe he wanted him to be the one who would stop Reigns. Heyman said he cannot quantify in words how much he loved his dad, and he told Cody that his dad loved him so much. He said in his last conversation with his dad, he told him that he, Cody, was his favorite son. “But Roman Reigns was the son he always wanted,” Heyman added. He dropped the mic and put his hands in his pockets. Cody made a move toward Heyman. Heyman backed away and said he was just carrying the message. Cody grabbed Heyman’s hand for a handshake.
Cody said he’s just trying to win a wrestling championship and everyone wants to make it personal. He said that’s what he just did, but Heyman won’t pay for it. “Your boy, Roman Reigns, is going to pay for it at WrestleMania when I take those titles personally,” he said. He jammed the mic into Heyman’s chest and left to his music.
(Keller’s Analysis: Stellar. I have been saying I was really looking forward to The Bloodline in a fresh storyline opposite of Cody in the build to WrestleMania, even if it is unfortunately overlapping the climax of the Sami Zayn saga. This was a segment that lived alongside the Sami momentum and didn’t get overshadowed by it. It was smart to have Cody basically predict Sami would beat Reigns helped it seem like supporting Cody doesn’t have to come at the expense of Sami’s chances of winning at the Chamber. In the end, though, the focus was so much on building anticipation for a Reigns vs. Cody match, it signals that Sami isn’t winning the title. I think fans probably realize that anyway, but that segment was so good it did underline that likelihood. Maybe the one thing I’d have added during the end is having Cody say that he’ll be happy to offer Reigns a title rematch after he beats Sami for the titles at WrestleMania. The drawing from the history of Heyman and Dusty and ECW and the Performance Center was so well done. Heyman has been great in short snippets and adding to segments through his body language in the background. It’s great to see him in the spotlight for an extended segment like that just shining and showing how good he is. Cody was great here, too. Not taking away from Cody, but this is yet another example of people who share TV time with Heyman having their best talking segments, like so many wrestlers in the 1980s whose best-ever matches were against Ric Flair. What really stood out here is that Heyman and Cody cleverly established that Cody didn’t benefit from his dad in ways fans might assume by establishing that Dusty was broke and Dusty helped groom other wrestlers, including Reigns, but not Cody. The last line about Reigns being the son Dusty always wanted was so perfect.)
-Montez Ford made his ring entrance. [c]
(6) MONTEZ FORD vs. ELIAS – Elimination Chamber Qualifier
Austin Theory joined in on commentary. They cut to a very early break. [c]
Ford landed a top rope bodypress and then a standing moonsault for a near fall. Theory talked about other Chamber opponent. He said Gargano will be a stay at home dad after the Chamber. He asked if Bronson Reed can even fit in a pod. Ford finished Elias a minute later with two ringside dives and his top rope frog splash in the ring.
WINNER: Ford in 11:00.
-Afterward, Theory held up his U.S. Title belt while standing on the announce desk. Seth Rollins ran out and knocked Theory off the desk.
-They showed Bayley warming up backstage alongside Iyo Sky and Dakota Kai. [c]
-Graves and Patrick hyped a Lashley-Lesnar contract signing for next week’s Raw, plus Asuka & Nikki & Carmella vs. Liv & Rodriguez & Natalya, plus Miz TV with Seth as his guest.
-Bayley’s ring entrance with Sky and Kai took place followed by Becky Lynch’s entrance. [c]
(7) BAYLEY vs. BECKY LYNCH – Cage Match
They cut to a break a few minutes in. [c]
Bayley applied a leglock on Becky. Becky tried to crawl out of the ring while in the hold. Bayley reapplied the anklelock. Becky made a comeback as fans chanted “Becky! Becky!” They battled on the top rope. Bayley hit a Bayley-to-Belly off the second rope for a near fall. Both were down and slow to get up.
They fought to the top of the cage next. Becky knocked Bayley down. Becky looked to the floor, but Sky climbed the side of the cage and met Becky on the top rope. She smashed Becky’s face into the cage and knocked her back to the canvas. Kai handed Bayley her crutch, which Bayley used against Becky. Lita’s music then played and she ran out to even the odds. She yanked Sky off the edge of the cage and then yanked another crutch away from Kai. She gave Sky a Twist of Fate. Bayley tried to leave through the cage door, but Lita slammed the door on her and then Becky landed her Manhandle Slam for a three count. Graves said just when it seemed Becky didn’t have a friend in the world, Lita arrived. Lita and Becky embraced in the ring as the show ended.
WINNER: Lynch in 14:00.