Elimination Chamber is next week, people! That means we gotta finalize some things, pave some roads, and also not forget about WrestleMania right around the corner.
Claire’s blog dishes details, so read that. Why? Because you should read it. Then come back here.
Let’s talk Raw!
Steel Cage Redux
IT'S LITA!@AmyDumas is back on #WWERaw! pic.twitter.com/WXOij7r3D1— WWE (@WWE) February 7, 2023
I never questioned this match’s quality. It’s Bayley and Becky Lynch in a cage! We missed out on this a couple weeks ago at Raw XXX so fittingly (for me) we get it this week. I liked how vicious it got because Bayley made this personal when she mentioned Becky’s family. Becky talked a lot of trash and slammed her opponent’s head into the cage several times. Both women worked rather stiff and truly made the stipulation worthwhile.
But things got interesting during the third act. Of course Damage CTRL got involved the minute Becky and Bayley battled on top of the cage. Bayley tumbled down faster than Humpty Dumpty and IYO SKY, the one member not on crutches thanks to Lynch’s actions last week, blocked Becky from exiting.
Something about this match screamed for a big reveal at the end. Becky or Bayley winning isn’t a big hook for next week, especially during WrestleMania season. And that’s when a familiar tune blared out the speakers.
Welcome back, Lita!
Lita preened to the crowd a bit, jogged to the ring, and assisted Becky. She attacked SKY, snatched Kai’s crutch, and slammed the cage door on Bayley’s face. Bayley stumbled backwards into a Manhandle Slam, got the W, and sent the home crowd home happy as she and Lita embraced.
These two interacted in Saudi Arabia almost exactly a year ago at Elimination Chamber in Saudi Arabia. I’m so curious how this story unfolds and they explain Lita’s change of heart. Becky idolized Lita and Lita felt incredibly disappointed that she possibly inspired such behavior during Becky’s Big Time Bex phase. Color me intrigued and it’s a nice wrinkle for this feud between Becky and Bayley that freshens it up.
Watch out! @HeymanHustle just made it personal between @CodyRhodes and The Tribal Chief @WWERomanReigns for #WrestleMania!#WWERaw pic.twitter.com/Ww44HOK9bn— WWE (@WWE) February 7, 2023
I don't know if Cody Rhodes and Paul Heyman planned their promo. I hope they didn’t because that’s part of wrestling’s magic. At least they didn’t plan the beginning. Cody came out with Sami Zayn on his mind because, hey, things might change in Montreal. Cody, dressed like a railroad tycoon, gave Sami all the props in the world before Paul Heyman walked to the ring.
And that’s where things shifted before shifting again, which is something Heyman does with ease. Cody got real, thanking Paul for giving Dusty Rhodes a job in 2000 when the family had about $100 in their respective bank accounts and Dusty did local car commercials in exchange for keeping his car. Heyman gave Dusty confidence and self-respect, while giving the whole family the life raft they desperately needed.
A speechless Heyman stood stuck with tears falling down his eyes. Cody then thanked Paul for showing him how to disrupt the business when Cody started AEW—which he didn’t mention by name—and the crowd gave their own adulation for the man once known as Dangerously.
Paul’s great because he takes something like that, gives a real reaction, and finds his way back to the business at hand. He talked about his admiration for Dusty and the Rhodes family, but he reminded everyone this is still about Cody. Cody has a chance to beat Roman and do something no one else in his family accomplished. Paul sowed doubt in Cody’s mind, as he should, and then got back to Dusty. He referenced Dusty training all these future WWE stars while working at the Performance Center.
Seth Rollins, Becky Lynch, and, yes, Roman Reigns. But he didn’t train Cody. While most people might take that as a diss, Heyman sees it as a compliment. Like I said, the man mixes sweet and bitter better than almost anyone. Sure, Dusty didn’t train him, but that’s possibly because he wanted Cody to be his own man and not live in Dusty’s larger-than-life shadow. Heyman loved Dusty more than words convey and Dusty told him personally just how much he loved Cody.
Great, right? Well, yeah, then came the bitterness.
Heyman remarked that during their last conversation, Dusty told Paul that Cody was his favorite son...but Reigns is the son he always wanted.
Whew, Lord have mercy. That perfect mix of real and wrestling worked beautifully here. I love Reigns’ promo skills but Heyman was and is the perfect foil for Cody because of his connection to Dusty. More importantly, he exploits that relationship and history in a way Roman would never. It doesn’t give their feud as much juice as Sami vs. Roman, but it’s a great start. Heyman is WWE’s clean-up hitter for a reason.
Four Hours Later...
F-5! F-5! F-5!@BrockLesnar takes down The All Mighty @fightbobby on #WWERaw! pic.twitter.com/8DdKZPk95y— WWE (@WWE) February 7, 2023
Brock Lesnar cut a hilarious promo tonight. After greeting Orlando with “good evening,” Brock explained why Bobby Lashley stays on his mind. The best part was how he noted that Bobby’s on his mind when he crawls into bed with his wife. Of course, Bobby only creeps into his psyche four hours later. Brock, you sly dog. Lesnar wants Lashley at Elimination Chamber and even has the contract ready for the All Mighty’s signature.
Not so fast, according to Lashley. He wants his agent, manager, and lawyer to put eyes on that piece of paper before he signs anything. But Lashley literally poked the bear before he left the ring, poking Lesnar’s nose as part of his oneupmanship.
Unsurprisingly, Brock’s temper got the best of him. He dished out not one but two F-5’s to Lashley and left the contract on his chest.
Fun segment that leaves me wondering how Bobby responds.
The Omen: Damian
Every show runner or head writer has their signature style. For Aaron Sorkin, its rapid-fire dialogue often said on the move. For Triple H, it’s an opening promo segment that segues into the episode’s first match. That’s how we got to Angelo Dawkins vs. Damian Priest this week, with the two squaring off after Edge and Beth Phoenix called out Judgment Day. Edge applauded the fact that his plan for Judgment Day kinda worked.
Each member, including Dom Dom, is in a better position now than they were a year ago, even if that success came at his expense. He’s 1000 percent correct too. Count me as one of the naysayers of this group once Edge exited stage left as the entire thing relied on Edge’s image. But I’m so happy I was wrong as the group steals the show almost every week.
But enough about that. After Beth and Edge challenged Finn Balor & Rhea Ripley to a tag match at Elimination Chamber, Finn accepted while Dom said yes on mami’s behalf (Rhea was absent tonight). The three men surrounded Hall of Fame couple and a fight broke out. Cue Angelo Dawkins, who rushed the ring like ring with the fervor of me at a sneaker drop. A couple punches later and their Elimination Chamber qualifier match commenced.
Whew, we got an absolute brawl. Whether it was Dawkins launching Priest across the commentary table, Priest uppercutting Dawkins in mid-air, or just the absolute bombs they threw at each other towards the end. These are big men and they wrestled the appropriate match for powerful men their size.
We also got a Swanton Dive from Angelo, who improves every week.
Very cool opening match that Priest won with the South of Heaven. Which makes sense because Judgment Day needs representation in Montreal. Also, the idea of putting the Profits against each other in the chamber just feels wrong. At least for now.
Speaking of Which...
Montez Ford defeated Elias, solidifying his spot in the Elimination Chamber. Solid match, nothing worth crowing about or even writing that much about. Plus, no diss to Elias, but this was a forgone conclusion.
Austin Theory joined commentary and then found himself on the wrong end of a Seth Rollins attack post match. Everyone wants the champ.
I don’t know if I said it here before but I’m a big Carmela fan. I thought her character work on SmackDown Live in 2016 was fantastic and her wrestling improved on the regular. While I’ll never call her the best wrestler, she understands just how much personality matters and gets that personality over every time she’s in the ring. Returning to her original gimmick only enhances that. Seeing her return in a 4-Way dance for a spot in the Elimination Chamber match felt good, if only because of the personal trials and tribulations she endured during her hiatus.
That said, I’m happy she won! Battling against Piper Niven, Michin, and Candice LeRae, Mela did what she does best which is outsmart her opponents. It worked because all four women, especially Piper, Michin, and Candice, punished each other. Piper’s name change brought out her aggression, while Michin and Candice tried preserving their friendship, which is a bit impossible in this situation.
Carmela put Candice in the corner, put the boots to her, talked a lot of trash moonwalked, and dodged Piper Niven’s cannonball, which pummeled LeRae. Mela super kicked Niven out of the ring and pinned a dazed and confused LeRae for the big W.
Bottomline? Shelton Benjamin & Cedric Alexander defeated Alpha Academy handedly and cleanly, with MVP in their corner. Nothing else matters, people! We’re getting closer to the Hurt Business...
Resident Velociraptor Interrupts Woman Calling Manager
WWE doesn’t often do pop culture things well as of late. I’m sure a lot of that has to do with the dirty, old man who ran creative. Triple H seemingly has a better handle on these things though, and Chelsea Green’s Karen character illustrates it best. Green’s interactions with the world’s worst manager, Adam Pearce, are pitch perfect.
This week, she pulled that “call your manager” threat one time too many. Green demanded a match...or else. Well, Pearce gave it to her and unfortunately for Chelsea, Pearce picked Asuka.
Asuka decimated Green with rest of the women’s elimination chamber participants standing ringside. That got a little wonky because they weren’t there as lumberjacks nor did they show any inclination to interfere. We found out after Asuka’s victory that the women amassed for a short and sweet Bianca Belair promo.
Bianca entered the arena, put over all six women, and told them she’ll see the winner in Cali.
First off, Kevin Patrick said swinging a hatchet at someone, which Dexter Lumis did last week, is not a crime. Bruv, swinging a hatchet at someone is definitely a crime.
I digress. This match between Baron Corbin and Lumis wasn’t much of a match. Corbin’s taking mad L’s since hitching his wagon to JBL. Lumis is yet another who showed the modern day wrestling god that he’s barely a demigod much less a full blown deity.
JBL looked like a man ready to rescind Corbin’s godhood after his protege fell victim to yet another three count. Which is exactly what happened later in the show but whew, I didn’t expect that level of severity. JBL said he was “must see television” while Corbin is “channel changing television.” That hurt me! And I don’t even like Corbin! Corbin said he can do better but JBL says you can’t polish a turd.
Ouch. If that’s not burying Corbin then I don’t know what the term means.
Really dope show. The first hour flew by, the middle dragged a bit, but the last hour found its momentum once again. Elimination Chamber is shaping up nicely.
That’s my grade and I’m sticking to it. Your turn.