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Raw recap & reactions (Feb. 14, 2022): Guess who’s back for the go home show

A very dope gauntlet match leads the way as WWE heads to Saudi Arabia for an unfortunately titled premium live event.

Hey, people! Did you enjoy the Super Bowl? Good. I assumed you said yes. While Raw wasn’t nearly as compelling or dramatic this week, it did serve a purpose: Raw prepared us for Elimination Chamber, which takes place this upcoming weekend! Claire (and Josie) has you covered on the blog, and I’m holding you down here.

Sit back and echoey the show.

Let’s talk Raw!

Are You a God?

The women entering the Elimination Chamber this weekend needed to kill time. As a result, they figured why not have a gauntlet match? Even better, why not add the stipulation that the winner enters the Elimination Chamber last?

This was a hell of a performance from one Rhea Ripley, and a well paced gauntlet match with a logical crescendo and even more logical outcome. Rhea bodied Nikki A.S.H. in a minor rematch from the last time I thought they were done with their beef. Nikki looked better in defeat here, but she’s still a non-factor for anyone paying enough attention.

From there, Liv Morgan and Rhea wrestled a match worthy of Liv’s story: Watch her learn. Morgan took it to Liv early, attacking the former champ with the same aggression Snoop Dogg attacks an ounce. Even the change in tempo didn’t stop Rhea’s momentum.

And then out came Doudrop, who clearly wants to assert her power. Beating up on a weakened Rhea worked for a while, but Rhea found the strength...from somewhere. Probably because Doudrop can never leave well enough alone and can’t help but taunt her opponents way too much. Somehow, someway, Rhea slapped on the Riptide for the 1-2-3.

Then came Ms. Bianca Belair. Bless Rhea’s heart, but she didn’t have enough to handle Belair. But damn did she try. Obviously, these two know what they’re doing and put on a great final match that served as the exclamation to the story.

Bianca hit Rhea with the KOD, got the win, and gave Rhea her well-deserved props.

Rhea looked like a beast and each competitor had a moment to shine. Rhea and Bianca were probably the favorites going into Elimination Chamber. I say probably because Alexa Bliss, cured apparently, declared herself the final entrant into the match. Because duh.

While Bianca is always my pick to win everything, there are legitimately three women who can win this match and it would make all the sense in the world: Bianca, Rhea, and the returning Ms. Bliss. If there’s one advantage in Bianca’s favor, it’s that she’s entering the match dead last.


The Tools and the Talent

Becky Lynch and Lita partook in a weird segment. Why weird? Glad you asked.

Because there’s no way anyone buys what Becky is shoveling.

Becky showed up to the contract signing out of sorts. Lynch looked less big time and more like me on an early Saturday morning Target run. Lita looked puzzled, Adam Pierce—the worst boss in history—looked utterly shocked. Becky pleaded with Lita to do everything but sign on the dotted line. According to the champ, she isn’t sleeping because destroying Lita will, in fact, destroy her. Becky knows Lita better than Lita knows herself and can’t bring herself to do what she has to do. And, of course, she blamed the fans.

Lita, with the line of the night, noted if there is no Becky Lynch without Lita, then it’s on Lita to end whatever Becky morphed into. That right there is actually a fun angle, and one I wish we got more of in the prelude to their championship match.

But yeah, we didn’t. Becky is rarely genuine unless she’s dealing with Charlotte Flair or Ronda Rousey, so everything she did this week felt performative. I know, I know, all of wrestling is performative. But we watch because it’s believable. This right here? Even Stevie Wonder and a blind matador can see through the bullshit.

Valentine’s Day. Bummer

Guess what? Seth Rollins and Randy Orton wrestled a good match. Duh. This was Randy attempting to avenge Riddle’s lost to Rollins last week. Orton almost got the job done, until Alpha Academy’s dreaded theme music played. Riddle followed to save his partner but caught a beating for his efforts. Randy, clearly a changed man, tried to save his partner and took his eye off Seth Rollins in the process.

Seth got the win—after taking a pretty long time to go for the pin following his curb stomp—and Riddle looked on in anguish as his partner took an L.

Not sure if they’ll examine the fact Randy is a changed man since befriending Riddle, but if/when RK-Bro goes the way of the Dodo, this is the way to get them there. Riddle couldn't get the job done against Randy because he’s always distracted, and now Randy, a man of intense focus, is in the same shaggy boat.

He Came, He Saw, He Kicked Ziggler’s Ass

NXT 2.0—I know, I know—and the main roster cross the lines more frequently now. For those of you who do other things on Tuesday nights, like, idk, regular human things, Dolph Ziggler interjected his nose into NXT business. In the process, he pissed off Tommaso Ciampa, a man who starts his day on the wrong side of the bed.

Ciampa showed up this week to return the favor, and that distraction was the start of the ending for the Dirty Dawgz. The Street Profits got the W but again, the story was Ciampa and Ziggler. Is a WrestleMania match brewing? Or will the two clash at Stand and Deliver? The world may never know...until WWE tells us.

You’re More like a Gameshow Host

Alpha Academy, fresh off destroying the Broga Party, defeated the Mysterios. Although, it wasn’t the clean victory Chad Gable wants you to believe it was. Miz and Maryse were ringside, meaning the match was a rather quick affair that, for me, never really got its footing. Miz distracted Rey, the Academy got the W.

Meh. I’m not excited about Rey and Miz wrestling at Elimination Chamber. Like not even a little bit.

Dogs and Cats Living Together

Raw opened with the All Mighty Champion talking his shit. Pretty much repeating what he said last week. and one by one, the participants in the upcoming Elimination Chamber match came to the ring to state their case. It was basically 10-15 min of puffing out their respective chests. MVP is a boss though. He’s incredibly entertaining and always understands the assignment.

But I digress.

And you know what we learned? Well, Austin Theory does not belong. This isn’t to say he’s a bad wrestler, but he doesn’t have the gravitas to hang in the ring with these cats. At all. Also? He has the worst story.

Eventually, Brock came out and, to quote another program, business picked up. Actually, that’s a lie. Brock came out looking very dapper, immediately backed up my idea that Austin Theory doesn’t belong, the ring cleared, and then he embarrassed Theory again.

Sigh. I wanted more and needed more.

Your Winner, and Still...

Damian Priest pinned AJ Styles in an okay match that went a lot shorter than I anticipated. The story commentary sold was one of the champion learning his lesson against a challenger who bested him last week. What I saw was a guy competing for the WWE Championship this weekend losing cleanly mere minutes after telling everyone how dope he is and why he will walk out of Saudi Arabia with more gold than a king.

No sir, I don’t like it.

We Both Have the Same Problem...

You know what’s pathetic? Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin coming out to the Hurt Business music and draped in that specific attire. You know what’s even more pathetic? The two former tag champs losing a handicap match to Omos.

That’s all I have to say about that.

She’s not My Girlfriend...

Reggie had enough of the friend zone. After taking Dana to Valentine’s dinner and saving her—again—from a poorly planned ambush, Reggie finally told Dana how he felt. Of course, she didn't feel the same. Reggie was cool with that choice, then rolled her up for a pin, taking back his 24/7 championship.

Also left her with the bill. Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!

Raw is...fine. Look, this wasn’t the worst episode of Monday Night Raw, but it was far from the best. It was watchable, which is quite the compliment for Vince McMahon’s longest running episodic show in the history of the glowing box. This didn’t feel like a go home and really lacked a compelling hook to watch Elimination Chamber. Even the Broga Party, which seemed rife with comedy potential, was just the setup to an Animal House joke and a beatdown at the hands of the Alpha Academy...which they also accomplished as the show ended.

Like I said, a fine show. Not great, not bad. Just, as Stringer Bell might say, a forty degree day. And nobody gives an f about a forty degree day.

Grade: C

That’s my grade and I’m sticking to it. Your turn.

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