By: Jamie Henry –
Last night’s WWE Raw at the Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, Arizona begins with a moment of silence for those lost in the Florida shooting on Feb. 14th. In an interview with Charly Caruso prior to his gauntlet match with Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns discussed his upcoming Elimination Chamber match: “I’ve seen how rough it is, I’ve seen what it does to the men’s body. But that’s not even the roughest part. I’m going to be going against the toughest men in the company…But all those guys have one thing in common. They cannot beat Brock Lesnar. And that is why it is my time now. Because I can beat him. And you don’t think it’s true? Go back and watch the Wrestlemania. I would have defeated him.”
Seth Rollins comes out, appropriately, as Rollins had cashed in on Reigns during Wrestlemania 31 to become champion, to face Reigns. The match goes back and forth with drive-by’s, Superman Punches, knees to the face, power bombs, buckle bombs and near pitfalls that had the viewer on the edge of their seat. Rollins attempts a Phoenix Splash only for Reigns to avoid it, but Rollins eventually picked up the win with a roll up after a captivating 30-minute battle.
Next up is John Cena vs Rollins, which showed Cena in a different light. Throughout the match he kept forcing countouts, openly taunted Rollins, and encouraging him to give up. As Rollins manoeuvres out of an Attitude Adjustment, he nearly pins Cena after a Frog Splash. Cena then tries to pin Rollins with another AA, but Rollins fights out of it, to the shock of everyone, which ignites the crowd’s interest. Rollins gives Cena a Superplex and a Falcon Arrow before nearly pinning Cena again. The two continue back and forth, nearly pinning one another, before eventually Rollins scores another victory with a Curbstomp.
Rollins’ next opponent is Elias, who unsuccessfully goes for a pin attempt early. However, in a surprise twist, Elias made off with the win in short order, as fans gave a Rollins a standing ovation and “thank you Seth” chants, for his record one-hour of time spent in the ring.
Finn Balor is up next, applauding Rollins as he makes his way past him. Balor vs Elias goes back and forth, both men having their moments, the crowd not into it early on. We get a quick interview of Rollins backstage, who says that beating Reigns and Cena will mean nothing if he doesn’t win at Elimination Chamber on Sunday. Balor wins when he gives Elias the Coup de Grace.
The Miz is next, as his Miztourage causes distraction after distraction against Balor as Miz scores a Skull Crushing Finale on Balor and pins him for the win.
The last opponent is Braun Strowman, which terrifies Miz as he runs out of the ring and through the crowd, causing Strowman to chase after him and force him back into the ring. Dominating early and often, Strowman destroyed Miz quickly with a Running Powerslam.
During Asuka’s pre-match interview with Renee Young, comes out, Nia Jax sneaks up on her and dominates before walking away, her music playing, with a smirk on her face.
Bray Wyatt throws out a promo next saying, “Some say the end is near and personally, I hope they’re right. Not for all of you but for Matt Hardy. His end is at the Elimination Chamber.” Matt Hardy interrupts and the two share a duelling promo talking about the other must be silenced or rendered obsolete.
Sasha Banks comes out first for the six-woman tag team match. Her teammates are Mickie James and Bayley. The three are wrestling Absolution’s Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville, alongside Alexa Bliss. James and Deville start of the match, going back and forth before Rose and Bayley square off, Bayley taking the offense when Rose acts like she can’t hurt her. We see a more vicious Bayley, which is nice and makes me continue to wonder if they’re going to pull the trigger with a heel turn for the hugger. Bayley tags Banks but the referee doesn’t see it, causing some confusion until Bayley tags Mickie James. James does well against Rose, until Deville interrupts more than once until Rose manages to take over James for a little while. Deville is tagged in and works against James before tagging in Rose as the duo cause some more hurt against James. Finally, Banks has Bliss tapping out for the victory.