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WWE Raw preview (Feb. 15, 2021): Get off the pot

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Live from ThunderDome!

The Headliner

Miz is featured in both the segments announced in advance for tonight’s Raw. As one of the former WWE champions (along with Randy Orton, Sheamus, AJ Styles and Jeff Hardy) challenging current WWE champ Drew McIntyre at Elimination Chamber on Sunday, he’s in the Gauntlet Match for the right to enter the Elimination Chamber match last. He’ll also welcome McIntyre onto “the set” of Miz TV. According to the hype, they’ll talk Sheamus turning on Drew a couple weeks back.

Not mentioned at all in the commercial for the Feb. 15 episode? The Money in the Bank contract Miz is holding that could turn either segment into a shot at McIntyre’s belt. To be fair, the prospect of a cash-in is teased in a write-up about Miz TV on WWE.com, but even that feels like an afterthought. Much like the briefcase that fell into Otis’ hands on the roof of Titan Towers back in May of last year.

You could definitely argue that Money in the Bank is a concept that could stand to be mothballed for a while, and many have argued just that. I think there are ways to keep it viable and interesting, but the way it’s been used this time around ain’t one of them. In fact, the longer it’s carried around like a fashion accessory rather than used as a plot device, the easier it to make a case that WWE should just scrap the concept - at least for a few years.

That won’t happen, because the company’s had some measure of success marketing the late spring/early summer PPV as one of its biggest events. But for the wrestling fans who tune in to Raw and SmackDown every week, Money in the Bank the show is going to be less of a draw if we don’t care about the prize men and women are climbing ladders to grab on said show.

A few good things have happened this year with the briefcase currently in Miz’s possession. Using it as the basis of his feud with Otis was one, and lobbying to get it back because John Morrison was the person who actually cashed it in at TLC fit the duo’s personalities. But before and after those story beats, it’s gone back to just being a prop.

Having McIntyre start tonight’s Gauntlet will certainly give Miz a prime opportunity to start an impromptu title match against a weary Drew. The A-Lister would not be a convincing champion right now. Like, at all. Since Royal Rumble, he and Morrison have been getting clowned by a guy who just debuted and a celebrity super-fan (Damian Priest & Bad Bunny). But I think most fans would welcome a failed cash-in or even a brief title run just to get the briefcase off the table.

It would also be interesting to see another wrestler call Miz on his hesitancy to use the contract. This kind of booking would further cement the Awesome One as an upper mid-card heel, but WWE’s already made it very clear that’s what they see him as. Have Priest bait him into challenging McIntyre by calling him a coward, then laugh at him when he gets his Claymore-d in the face. Not terribly consequential, but at least it helps define a few characters.

Whatever they do, they should do it soon. The longer they wait, the more obvious it becomes they don’t have a plan, and the harder it becomes for us to care.

The title scene

Raw Women’s champion Asuka is being used as more of plot device than an actual character right now. She’s putting the belt she won at Money in the Bank last year on the line against Lacey Evans at Elimination Chamber. Evans has the shot because of her storyline with Ric Flair, who baited his daughter Charlotte into getting disqualified in a #1 contender match. Lacey did cost the Empress & the Queen their tag titles on the Royal Rumble pre-show, but it doesn’t seem like Asuka cares that much. Maybe they can generate some heat between her and the First Lady tonight, but I’m just expecting more Flair stuff.

Speaking of those WWE Women’s Tag Team titles, the beneficiaries of Evans & Naitch’s involvement at the last PPV, Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler, have to defend them against Lana & Naomi soon. I mention in case you overlooked it amidst all the attention being paid to Nia’s “hole”.

Gotta admire the proactive stance The Hurt Business CEO Bobby Lashley took regarding his United States championship. Riddle and Keith Lee both think they can take it from him, so he took them out after their match last week. That set up a Triple Threat we’ll see on Sunday night. Maybe he can convince his stablemates, Raw Tag Team titleholders Cedric Alexander & Shelton Benjamin, to go on the offensive as well? Then again, there aren’t really any teams in a position to challenge them, so they can just stay fighting among themselves.

One week and counting on R-Truth’s 49th run as 24/7 champion. God is good.

Other stuff to keep an eye on

- Rumble winners Edge & Bianca Belair both say they’re watching Raw’s main title drama. But they’re both likely to go after SmackDown’s top prizes when all is said and done.

- Give Xavier Woods his tie-breaker against RETRIBUTION’s RECKONING, damnit! Unless she’s too busy celebrating her recent engagement, that is.

It’s the Elimination Chamber go home show!

What will you be looking for on Raw tonight?