|Still the best thing to happen either week.|
The gauntlet match featuring all seven participants in the Elimination Chamber match took up over half of Raw’s three hour running time. And yes, there are seven. They’re not adding an extra pod, they’re just going to start the match with three dudes. So it’s Balor, Rollins, Elias, Cena, Strowman, Miz, and Reigns.
The gauntlet’s first half was set up as a showcase for Rollins, who beat Reigns and Cena in grueling matches that took over an hour. They were good matches, but drawn out with lots of rest holds and submission spots for obvious reasons. Strowman ended up winning the gauntlet match and destroying the Miztourage at the end with his now traditional ten minutes of running powerslams, which I assume is his consolation prize for losing on Sunday.
CRUISERWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND 1 ENDS
Mustafa Ali defeated Jack Gallagher in a great match if you discount the slow bits, which you have to do in all these 25 minute tournament matches. And Buddy Murphy, debuting on 205 Live, defeated Ariya Daivari but did not defeat my inability to give two shits about Buddy Murphy, an inability that peaked when he was outshone in NXT by a barely-trained Alexa Bliss and didn’t really weaken in the year or so he spent on the shelf.
THIS US TITLE FEUD IS LUKEWARM TRASH
Bobby Roode is facing off against both Jinder Mahal, who isn’t great, and Randy Orton, who suuuuuuuucks, and is hamstrung by someone deciding he has to be “respectful” towards Randy Orton, which is completely incongruous and against his character. At least Roode GDDT’sd the shit out of Orton at the end of the segment, but they’re setting up a Triple Threat I have a suspicion Roode will lose at Fastlane and I do not like any of it.
JOHNNY GARGANO “MUST LEAVE NXT”
I don’t understand any of this, from a purely narrative standpoint. At a huge event on a huge weekend before a huge crowd, Johnny Gargano loses an incredible match against Andrade “Cien” Almas. After the match, he’s hit once with a crutch by his former partner, Tommaso Ciampa. Then, a few weeks later, at a small TV taping in Atlanta, Gargano loses a fourth time, in a mediocre match, because Ciampa once again hits him once with a crutch, this time at the end of the match except after it. It makes no sense. Anyhow, there are two possible moves from here. One, Gargano and Ciampa get called up to the same show on the main roster and they try to recreate the excitement around the Owens/Zayn feud from a couple of years ago and probably won’t succeed. Two, Regal voids the stipulation as a result of the interference and Gargano and Ciampa feud on NXT in front of audiences who know them and are invested in their history.
I’VE LOST INTEREST IN THE SMACKDOWN WOMEN’S DIVISION
It feels like they’ve been doing three on three matches between Three Faces and The Riottt Squadd as the only Women’s Division action since, well, since whatever PPV was before the Royal Rumble. Every week, the same damn thing, going nowhere. I mean, this week they’re setting up a Fastlane match between Charlotte and Ruby, which I’ll watch, even knowing there’s no way Ruby will win.
ASUKA ENGLISH UPDATE
Not great. They gave her her first shot at a longer promo on Nia Jax, with an interview format, and it could have gone better. She got lost in her sentences a couple of times. But the gist got across and she’s super over. Jax destroyed her after the promo, for obvious reasons.Asuka is still not mentioning “Raw” or “Alexa Bliss” in her promos, so I sense a swerve.