This Week in WWE: Fair to Flair, Unfair to The Man

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Robert O’Neill: We open Raw with Triple H and Stephanie McMahon in the ring as they’ve invited Becky Lynch back to Raw… and here she comes! Becky saw her doctors and they conferred with the WWE doctors and the match at Wrestlemania is on BUT only if Becky apologizes to Triple H and Stephanie McMahon. Naturally she’s not super thrilled with this idea.

Chris Novak: She’s stubbornly refused to at this point and that makes a good amount of sense. Becky eventually outright refused to, but Triple H issued an ultimatum after she and Stephanie got into a verbal argument. Becky must apologize by the end of the night, or there will be no match. This is right out of the Austin-McMahon playbook. Let’s keep it going.

Robert O’Neill: We keep rolling right along with Boss N’ Hug Connection vs. Riott Squad vs. Nia and Tamina in a triple threat tag team match.

Chris Novak: Grand Rapids popped like wild for Bayley, AND, they did a “WE WANT BAYLEY” chant. I mean, I already liked the state of Michigan quite a lot. This is adding to it though. Sasha eventually got dumptrucked by Ruby on the outside. Sasha evidently still hasn’t been cleared, if this is any indication.

Bayley put up a super valiant effort, but wound up falling to a Nia Jax Samoan Drop. So, Boss and Hug will enter the Chamber first. As expected really. Really fun match here, too, if we’re being honest.

Elias is next. Well… first he gets cut off by an interaction between Finn Balor and Becky Lynch. Then a Seth Rollins video package interrupts him! I don’t know if this is intentional… I have a feeling it is… but it’s still amusing.

Robert O’Neill: Finally, Lucha House Party interrupt him. He sings them a song and they don’t like it

Chris Novak: And Kalisto then eventually decides to strum Elias’ guitar and, sure enough, e’s pretty good at it! Elias offers to do a duet, but then Elias attacks him from behind. He leaves the ring. This was actually a pretty entertaining and engaging segment.

Finn Balor faces Drew McIntyre next.

He match eventually got disrupted after Lashley got involved and went after Finn. Kurt Angle then came down to play the role of cavalry. Corbin then came into the ring and went after Kurt. This pretty much says everything you need to know about the current state of Raw minus Seth and Brock, but this got over with the Grand Rapids crowd hugely.

Robert O’Neill: That got chaotic in a hurry. I feel like we all know Angle is old and bad now but he gets a pass because of how good he used to be. Maybe I’m off base, but that’s the feeling I get.

Apparently we’re now having a Braun/Kurt/Finn vs. Drew/Corbin/Lashley match. Alrighty. After a back and forth match Lashley appears to have the match won as he pins Balor, but Balor had his foot on the rope, but the referee didn’t see it. Another referee comes down to restore order and the match will continue!

Chris Novak: Gotta be honest… don’t know what any of that was. But it happened, and the babyfaces win. OK, cool. Let’s move the hell on.

Ruby Riott vs. Nikki Cross, which should be better than that, is next. So far, unsurprisingly it is. Ruby won with a Riott Kick. It was an okay match, all things considered.

Seth Rollins is next. Likely, so is Paul Heyman.

Robert O’Neill: That was… what it was. I mean, you know how the leadup to a Brock Lesnar match goes by now. Rollins says he’ll beat him. Heyman says he won’t. We have a lot more of this coming over the next two months which is a blessing and a curse.

Chris Novak: Got that right… segment was fine and effective but it likely won’t be too memorable.

Here comes Dean Ambrose, for some reason. Dean comes up and… tells Seth to slay the beast. Well, hey, okay then! Apparently Ambrose will be in action again.

Robert O’Neill: He’s facing EC3 again. Alright!

Chris Novak: Dean won. Okay! If I know anything about how things work, a 3rd match will happen soon. Possibly at… Elimination Chamber on Sunday? Maybe on the Kickoff Show? I don’t know. That was definitely something.

Alexa and Becky had a back and forth backstage. Lex said that Becky shouldn’t apologize, but Becky questioned her motives about it because it would open up a title match. This wound up being a very good segment. Imagine that, when you let two of the best talkers have banter with each other. Rob missing it was funny.

Revival are challenging for the Tag Team Titles (again).

Robert O’Neill: Holy shit. What a match. These two teams threw everything they had at each other and THE REVIVAL FINALLY WON THE TAG TITLES. My god. What a match. It’s not the highest bar to clear but it was the best tag match on Raw in quite some time.

Chris Novak: Wow, Rob. You got your big moment and that’s ALL you got for your reaction?!?! 4/10. You gotta do better at your fanboying.

Becky’s “apology” is next. They have her out here now and they’re trying their damnedest to get her to apologize. She eventually did, and… surprisingly (?) that was it. Becky went to talk and… then, here comes Ronda.

AND NOW… HERE COMES VINCE!

OH MY GOD… Vince says he doesn’t care what Triple H or Stephanie ruled, he’s ruling that Becky’s been suspended for 60 days. That mark would take her OUT of WrestleMania… and who else does he insert but CHARLOTTE FLAIR!

Robert O’Neill: Holy shit. What a way to end things.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Chris Novak: The beginning and tail ends of this show were great. Everything else… was in the middle. So I’ll give this show a B and go from there.

Robert O’Neill: I really don’t know what to think about this Raw. The beginning was quite good, The Revival winning the tag titles was one of the best TV matches of the year so far, and the end was excellent. Everything else though? Hit or miss. The women’s tag match was good, but the Balor/Angle/Strowman vs. McIntyre/Corbin/Lashley stuff lasted entirely too long, and I can’t do eight more weeks of Seth Rollins and Paul Heyman cutting the same promo back and forth. Overall, the good outweighed the bad, though. B-

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Chris Novak: We begin things with a recap of the twist from last night’s episode of Raw. And… here comes The Queen herself. Naturally she’s getting a hearty amount of heat. Charlotte cut what was a pretty great heel promo here. She’s immersing herself in the heat and leaning all the way into it. Can’t hate it at all, whatsoever.

Robert O’Neill: Yeah a lot of people have been complaining about Charlotte being added to the match and I don’t see how you can hate it. It’s such a good story being told. Anyway it’s time for a tag triple threat match between the three Smackdown teams in the Elimination Chamber. Just like on Raw, the team that gets pinned enters the Chamber first.

Things go along and the match ends up being pretty good. Naomi comes in late and goes right at Mandy, and picks up the win so the Elimination Chamber will open with Mandy and Sonya vs. Bayley and Sasha. Cool.

Chris Novak: Only right, especially since those four started last year’s Elimination Chamber Match, the first Women’s Elimination Chamber match, of course. So, nice bit of storytelling there. Little things!

Robert O’Neill: Time for McMiz TV with tonight’s guests: The Usos!

Chris Novak: This, unsurprisingly, turns out to be super entertaining. We even got a Toledo Mudhens reference, so that’s fun. There’s plenty of banter here, as The Usos said it was disrespectful for Shane and The Miz to call themselves the best tag team in the world, while Shane said that the only thing ‘real’ was that they were champs. The Usos superkicked them for their troubles and left.

We got another Miz & Mrs. ad, which is tremendous.

The Gauntlet Match is next!

Robert O’Neill: Love to start the main event with 70 minutes to go!

Chris Novak: The New Day’s representative, filling for Mustafa Ali is… KOFI KINGSTON! So, Kofi’s in the Chamber on Sunday. Fantastic.

So the first segment of this absolutely ruled. Kingston played up to snuff with Bryan and they booked him extremely well. New Day were thrown out of the ringside area, but after Rowan got involved, the ref sent him out too. Bryan was going to hit him with the Running Knee, but Kingston got him with Trouble in Paradise and got him with the 1-2-3 (kid)!

Kingston then went on to eliminate Jeff Hardy in the Gauntlet… and now, here comes Samoa Joe. Kofi continues to fight hard here but wound up in the Coquina Clutch. But Kofi used the same finish Finn used on him in London (and the Piper-Hart finish from WM VIII!) to eliminate him too!! Joe then proceeded to beat the shit out of him and choked him out with the Coquina Clutch after the elimination. Naturally this would make him easy pickens for AJ Styles, but Styles would fight Joe off and away from the scene first.

Kofi still wants to fight after being hit with the chokehold, and fight he does. They do a countout spot with him… and… he jumps into the ring to beat the 10 count. Kofi eventually taps out to the Calf Crusher after simply an incredible performance.

Styles then loses via the RKO OUTTA NOWHERE by Randy Orton. An exclamation point on an incredible main event match. Orton will now go in the Elimination Chamber last.

Robert O’Neill: What a fun match. Kofi looked like a million bucks, and the story that needed to be told was told. I’m glad they don’t do gauntlet matches too often, because every time they do them they feel good and special and fun.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Chris Novak: I enjoyed this show a whole lot. The Gauntlet Match was incredibly good and everything else served its purpose heading into Sunday. A- for me here. Real good stuff.

Robert O’Neill: Like Raw, Smackdown is hard to grade! The gauntlet match was excellent and took up more than half of the show. The women’s match was fine, and the Shane/Miz/Usos segment accomplished it’s intention. That’s really all that matters, right? So what if it was only a two match show? I’ll give it an A-