It's go-home show week for Raw, as we prepare for the Elimination Chamber pay per view next Sunday. Randy Orton has been running the gauntlet, facing each of his contenders that he will face in the Elimination Chamber match. The only man left to face is the Celtic Warrior, Sheamus, and he will face Orton on tonight's show. The Shield and The Wyatts continue to heat up their story, as well as the teased break-up of the Shield along the way. The undercard has filled out as well.
It's the "Stream of Consciousness" Edition of the Raw Recap, in minutes! I promise, it's Power Ranger free.
Show Open, Live from Denver, CO at the Pepsi Center
Cole welcomes us in, and John Cena's music hits right away. He comes to the ring with his usual mixed reaction. Cole and Lawler run through highlights of John Cena's win over Randy Orton last Monday night on Raw. He's got neon colors on - but we aren't supposed to be able to see him. Cena hypes up that we're live in Denver and on the road to Wrestlemania.
Cena hypes up the Elimination Chamber match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. He talks about the danger of the match and how it can end a career. He says the winner gets to punch his ticket to Wrestlemania 30 and the main event against Batista. He says that Orton has no momentum going into the match and he has lost over recent weeks, including to Bryan and himself. Cena says the odds favor a new champion on Sunday.
Colter and Cesaro come to the stage. Colter puts Cesaro over as the next champion, and Cesaro points out that Cena wasn't the only one who beat Orton last week. Cesaro says he will become the new champion, face of WWE, and face of America. Denver doesn't like that idea. Cena asks him to join him in the ring, and congratulates him for beating Orton. He says that means Orton is on a losing streak. He says that Cesaro has never been in the chamber and shouldn't write checks with his mouth that his ass...err..body can't cash.
Sheamus' music hits. He says there is no match like the chamber and he's been in it twice. He tells both men that their faces will look funny when he kicks their teeth down their throat. Christian's music interrupts. He tells Sheamus he should have saved his Brogue Kick for Dean Ambrose. He says he knows what happened on Smackdown was a n accident and he's not mad.
Christian tells Sheamus he will hit the killswitch on him and it won't be an accident. Randy Orton's music hits, and he comes out with the belts over his shoulders. He thanks the Authority for allowing him the chance to beat all of them in the chamber, and the Brogue Kick won't find him in their match later tonight.
Daniel Bryan's music hits and he gets a rousing ovation. New shirt for Bryan. Bryan says the people are talking for him, and the Chamber leads to Wrestlemania 30. He has worked too hard to let this slip through his fingers. He says there will be a whole arena chanting yes on Sunday. They weren't tonight.
Kane's pyro and music hits. He comes out looking forlorn and says the Authority has given him a chance to make right on some mistakes he has made recently. Denver thinks he sold out and lets him know. Kane was left in charge of the show this evening by the Authority. He says we already know Orton will face Sheamus, so the rest of the men will be in action also to be fair to the champion. He books Cesaro vs. John Cena, and Christian vs. Daniel Bryan. Kane says he will stay ringside to get a bird's eye view for that match, next.
A nice segment that put some good hype on the Chamber match and set up the night's programming. They need to do this more often.
Cole hypes that match, and also Mark Henry vs. Roman Reigns. Los Matadores and Sin Cara will take on the Wyatts. In the ring, Bryan taunts Kane, but Christian ambushes from behind. JBL says he likes this Christian. The two brawl at ringside, with Christian throwing Bryan to the stairs going into commercial.
Henry vs. Reigns feels random. Christian attacking Bryan was an unexpected surprise, but a good one.
Match #1 - Christian vs. Daniel Bryan
Out of break, the official checks on Bryan and this is underway. Bryan tries to kick at him while Cole talks about Christian being the most dangerous version of himself in the Chamber. Bryan hits some uppercuts but Christian gets him as he tries a dive. Christian focuses his offense on Bryan's shoulder that went into the stairs. Christian controls the offense in the early going, but Bryan gets a suicide dive going into the commercial break.
Bryan comes back with a flip and a running clothesline. Series of "yes!" kicks from Bryan as the fans chant along. Christian cuts off Bryan a bit later by lifting the boots. Bryan tries the Yes! Lock but can't lock it. A bit later, Christian tries the Killswitch, but Bryan counters by locking Christian's arms and rolling him up for the victory.
Kane congratulates Bryan for winning, but tells him he neglected to tell Bryan he has a second match..."against me." Oh, yeah, about that. Kane takes the tie and jacket off and Bryan nods in approval. Kane goes in and Bryan attacks, but Kane sends him to ringside. Bryan sells at ringside going to break.
A good 30 minutes so far. The broadcast team has been doing a good job of selling Bryan's shoulder damage.
Match #2 - Kane vs. Daniel Bryan
Joined in progress. Kane pretty much is in control of this from the get-go. Lots of banter from the announce position regarding Kane asserting his role as Director of Operations to hinder Bryan, and if this was a deeper assignment from the Authority to injure Bryan before the Chamber. Bryan gets a hope spot and opens up his series of kicks, but Kane goozles him and throws him out of the ring. In the end, Kane wrenches Bryan's arm around the ring post and gets disqualified. After a few more shots, he walks away, then comes back to get a mic. He says "I know, I'm disqualified."
30 minutes of making Bryan look sympathetic, Kane looking ruthless, as well as Christian. Are they setting up pulling him from the match, or winning against all odds?
They recap Mark Henry's match with Dean Ambrose last week. Henry had the US Championship won until Seth Rollins saved the match. Reigns hit him with a spear afterward.
Renee Young is with The Shield. Renee addresses Roman first but Ambrose cuts him off. Reigns asks "really? you were beaten" and Ambrose says he was softening Henry up for Reigns. Renee asks if they're on the same page and Rollins says he understands what Renee is trying to do but they are always on the same page. He says the Shield is built for war. Ambrose says that Wyatt's mind games won't work on them, and Reigns says they don't experience fear or back down. He closes with "believe in the Shield."
Nice continued tease for the breakup of the Shield. Rollins is the peacemaker between Reigns and Ambrose. It's working well.
9AM next Monday, the Network goes live. The storyboard says so.
Match #3 - Santino Marella (w/Emma) vs. Fandango (w/Summer Rae)
I am really upset that they're doing this silly pairing with Emma. They give her a hype package and Summer looks irritated. Basic offense from the two in the ring. Santino loads the Cobra but Summer gets on the apron. Emma hits Summer with an airplane spin. Flirting moment for Santino with Emma. Blah. Fandango interrupts with a kick and throws him in and hits his finish for the win.
JBL says exactly what I'm thinking - get Emma away from Santino.
Mark Henry is walking with purpose. He says he should have won the US Title, but tonight's not about titles, or winning or losing. It's about inducting someone into the Hall of Pain, because that's what he does.
The Shield makes their entrance through the crowd. Reigns faces Henry, next.
Match #4 - Roman Reigns (w/Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose) vs. Mark Henry
Cole is sure to point out that Henry is still wrapped up selling the attack from Brock Lesnar. Reigns gets Henry up for a Samoan drop, but Henry comes back with JYD headbutts. Late, Reigns hits his Superman punch, then the spear, to get the clean win. Afterward, Ambrose puts the boots to Henry while Rollins and Reigns wonder what he's doing and just shake their heads.
Afterward, the Wyatts cut in. He sings a clip of a gospel type song about joy, then cuts a promo. He asks if they're willing to die for this, and if not, they've already lost. Roman Reigns says he has an idea and says "why not come out here and talk that noise." Wyatt says he was thinking the same thing. The live crowd reacts well to this as the Wyatts come out. The announcers hype it up as a big deal as the Shield stands ready.
Wyatt in. Reigns steps up. The remaning Family enters the ring. The rest of the Shield steps up. The Wyatts bail to boos from Denver. Some buzz for this moment from the live crowd. This showdown will have to wait for Sunday.
Cole hypes Cena vs. Cesaro and Randy Orton vs. Sheamus for later tonight. Then we go into an extended WWE Network hype up package, including a one week free trial.
Cole hypes the Kickoff Match for Elimination Chamber - Cody Rhodes and Goldust against Rybaxel. How the mighty have fallen. Backstage, Rhodes is playing with the Smackdown set when Goldust enters. Goldust talks about ripping wings off of butterflies and gluing them to his hamster. They banter, but Barrett has bad news for them. Barrett kicks over the setup and leaves. The Brotherhood restores the play set.
Match #5 - Kofi Kingston vs. Jack Swagger (w/Zeb Colter)
Late in this one, Kingston hits the SOS for a near fall. Swagger gets his foot to the ropes. He throws Kofi through the ropes, but Kofi comes back with a cross body for two. Swagger gets Kofi to submit in the end to the Patriot Lock.
So they give Kofi a lot of chances to win when Swagger is the #1 Contender to the IC title?
Big E's music hits. Swagger eyes the ramp as Langston makes his way to the ring. He climbs in and Swagger exits with Colter. Big E is in action, next.
Match #6 - Big E. vs. Jinder Mahal and Drew McIntryre
Two on one situation in this handicap. Langston gets the better of the early going but Colter gets a mic. He taunts on the mic throughout the match. Of course Colter has to bring out the Denver/Seattle reference to get cheap heat. The heels keep up the offense though. Big E gets some offense and hits Mahal with a series of backbreakers but McIntyre hits a big kick. Colter can't shut up.
Langston goes on a run, with a pair of belly to belly suplexes, then a big splash. Colter says he won't do it to Swagger. Langston keeps hitting offense and Colter says it won't happen to Swagger. In the end, Langston hits both men with the Big Ending, pinning McIntryre. Langston grabs a mic and tells Colter he hopes that they make diapers his size, because after Sunday his mouth won't be the only thing full of crap. Not a great promo there, Big E.
This was a pretty rough segment. Big E was sloppy in the ring especially on the belly to belly spot. This did nothing for me.
We get a Rusev promo, with his valet, Lana. The announcers hype up the Wyatts vs. Los Matadores and Sin Cara.
Black History Month promo. This features Ron Simmons, and his rise to stardom and eventual enshrinement in both the college football and WWE Halls of Fame.
The announcers hype up the Elimination Chamber match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. They feed it into a promo for the Elimination Chamber match.
Back live, we're with Renee Young. She is with John Cena and she talks about his match with Cesaro. He says last week he made a clear statement to the roster that the roster is filled with young talent, and Orton is clinging to his title. He says that he stands by what he said last week that young talent needs to go through him. He says that tonight we find out what Cesaro is made of. His music hits in the background.
Match #7 - John Cena vs. Cesaro (w/Zeb Colter)
Cena charges the ring and the announcers say that Cesaro has the chance to go through Cena. Cesaro makes his entrance after the break. The announcers put over Cesaro beating Orton and that he might have the tools to win in the Chamber. They talk about how entering from #5 in the Chamber has been the most successful position. Cena hits a hip toss and Cesaro rolls to ringside to regroup. Mixed chants from Denver for Cena as Cesaro works on Cena's arm a bit.
Tilt of whirl backbreaker for a near fall for Cesaro. An upper cut gets another near fall as Cesaro takes over the offense. Cena comes back with a slam and charges but Cesaro pulls the ropes down. Cena crashes and burns. Cesaro follows it up with a toss into the barrier. Cena drapes Cesaro over the ropes, then a bit later tries to load the AA. Too close to the ropes, so he unloads Cesaro at the apron. Cesaro drapes Cena over the ropes then hits an elbow drop. Big neckbreaker from Cena for a near fall.
Cesaro on a run after the break and he uses a sleeper hold. Cena hits his trademark shoulder blocks, but rather than get the Five Knuckle, Cena gets set up in the Swing. Cena counters and goes for the STF. Cesaro counters that into a gutwrench suplex for two. Cena goes back on offense and gets booed pretty heavily as he hits his side slam and the Five Knuckle Shuffle. Cesaro hits a big uppercut though in return.
A light "this is awesome" chant. Cesaro wants the Swing again but Cena manages to sit up out of it and hit a DDT in a neat spot. A bit later, Cesaro stands on the ropes, pulls Cena up from the apron and into a superplex from the second rope in another neat spot that the announcers sell huge. Cena tries for the STF again but Cesaro gets the ropes.
Time for the swing. Cesaro swings Cena right round baby right round like a record...ok I'll stop. He gets a good near fall out of it. Another "This is awesome" chant as Cesaro cracks his neck and prepares for the Neutralizer. Cena counters to the AA, but Cesaro counters with a big boot. Cena hits a clothesline and follows with the AA to get the win.
That was a good match. Good counters and unexpected moves. They worked hard and the crowd enjoyed it. The announcers have been engaged as well which helped sell the match too. This match has needed all the help it can get - and it's getting it.
Backstage, Randy Orton is with Triple H. He says he appreciates all Hunter and Steph have done for him. Triple H says it's great and he was thinking the pressure was getting to Orton. He sees Orton is making an effort now. Orton says his head wasn't right but he will make up for it at the Chamber. He thanks Hunter for all he is going to do as well.
Orton talks about how he and Hunter go back to Evolution, and jabs at Batista for being a bad face of WWE. Batista appears behind Orton. Orton catches a look of him and says "what's up?" Batista tells Orton he's not the face of WWE, he's the ass. Orton exits. Del Rio shows up with a neck brace. He calls Batista an animal, and says he's a man. He says he will make Batista pay on Sunday. Del Rio tells Batista that he hopes he doesn't need his arms in his Wrestlemania match because Del Rio will rip them off. Batista shoves Del Rio into a rolling cart and walks off.
So, there's almost zero heat on Del Rio. It's a foregone conclusion that Batista destroys him once and for all I guess.
Renee Young tells us that Darren Young will face Titus O'Neil on Sunday. We get a clip of their interaction on Smackdown last week.
Titus shows up and introduces himself. He asks Renee how you spell champion and he spells it for her - "T-I-T-U-S." He calls Young dead weight and he will get mowed over on Sunday. He says Young will watch the rise of Titus O'Neil.
Match #8 - Los Matadores (w/El Torito) and Sin Cara vs. The Wyatt Family
Los Matadores do their entrance with the bull. Denver could not possibly care less.
The Wyatts pretty much control this one bell to bell. Sin Cara goes on a run late in this one. He gets up for the Swanton, but he misses. Harper hits a big clothesline and tags in Bray. Wyatt hits Sister Abigail for the win. They pose, and the strange cut sends us to commercial.
We get hype for the Network, debuting next Monday. Wrestlemania 30 is available on it, as well as a lot of video on-demand library. You can even get a free trial week!
Match #9 - Jey Uso (w/Jimmy) vs. Billy Gunn (w/Road Dogg)
In the ring, The Old Age...err...The New Age Outlaws do their entrance gimmick, with the fans chanting along. So much for heel tactics. The Usos get their entrance and the two men who aren't in the match join in on commentary. The Usos will get a shot at the Outlaws on Sunday for the titles. Jey gets some offense in the early going and sends Billy to ringside. Road Dogg goes and talks to him. Gunn takes over in the ring while Jimmy and Road Dogg banter back and forth at the announce position.
Gunn keeps control of the match. He tries the Fameasser, but Jey counters in a roll-up and pins Gunn for the win. Afterward, Jimmy superkicks Road Dogg and Jey hits a dive on the Outlaws. The Usos celebrate in the ring.
I'm hoping this signals a tag title change, but traditional booking says that won't happen.
Backstage, Byron Saxton interviews Sheamus. He says the Chamber requires sacrifice, and the reward is worth it. He talks about Christian showing his aggressive side, and he never has a problem showing his aggressive side. He says he has an antidote for the viper, and that's some good old fashioned blunt force trauma. He's up next against Randy Orton.
Some hype for Smackdown, as they show Sheamus "accidentally" Brogue Kicking Christian. Sheamus will face Christian on Friday night.
Match #10 - Randy Orton vs. Sheamus
Orton comes to the ring slowly. The announcers talk about his lack of momentum and how he has lost all but one of his gauntlet matches. The crowd seems burned out. The announcers hype his poor effort in the gauntlet and his 0-5 record in the gauntlet. Sheamus comes out - and fear the cross, Fella. Orton points to the Wrestlemania 30 sign in the rafters before the two men tie up. Light "CM Punk" chants gain some momentum.
Orton sells and dodges Sheamus early. He attacks the bad shoulder though and runs him into the post going to commercial. After, Orton uses a backdrop to put Sheamus through the announce table. That generates a "holy shit" chant, but that was really pretty routine. Sheamus barely beats the count, then goes on a bit of a flurry. Orton stuffs that with a powerslam.
Orton tries for his elevated DDT but Sheamus counters. We're about to go a clubbering as Sheamus hits his forearm shots on the ropes. Orton comes back with a backbreaker, then hits his elevated DDT on the second attempt. Orton's hearing voices, and it's time to cue the RKO. He tries, but Sheamus counters and hits three Irish Curse backbreakers in a row. Sheamus calls for the Brogue.
The Shield charges the ring and attacks Sheamus. This ends in a DQ. Cena and Bryan charge the ring to attack The Shield, then Cesaro comes out to attack anyone he can. Christian has joined the fray also. The Wyatt cut in hits, and it's the Wyatts and The Shield going off on each other. The fans pop for that one. The melee continues as the show goes off the air.
This was a good match but it was hard for me to invest in it. Sheamus hasn't meant much since he got back, and we've seen these guys go at it a bunch of times in the not all that distant past. I guess putting this match here was a way to re-establish Sheamus a bit though. The crowd was pretty quiet throughout the match though, which didn't help it.
The brawl was good at the end also. It made me want to see more, which is a good thing. The Wyatts and The Shield actually exchanging blows got a big pop so fans seem to want to see that match. It's the one story that WWE has done well with on the build to Elimination Chamber.
All in all, a decent show. It started out hot, and as Jim Ross said in his blog it looked like the home run they needed for Elimination Chamber. But after the Bryan matches and that opening promo segment, things kind of fell off from there. Cena and Cesaro had a great match, but I fear that turns into Sandow II for Cesaro. They did a good job of selling the Elimination Chamber, but it might end up being too little, too late.
Be watching for Raw Afterthoughts sometime tomorrow evening. In the meantime, get those questions together for RingRap Audio and tweet 'em on out to us (@RingRap or @RingRapAudio) with the #AskRingRap hash tag. We'll also do our Elimination Chamber predictions, where Matt Hester will be all kinds of wrong. Thanks for watching along tonight. Be sure to comment, and join in the conversation on Twitter as well!