The Big Takeaway: One of the most wrestling heavy Raws in a long time with some very good matches. For the first time ever, there will be a women's Elimination Chamber match next month. Asuka defeated Sasha Banks in one of the best women's matches Raw will likely see this year. Braun Strowman destroyed Kane by turning the broadcast commentator's stage onto Kane to win a Last Man Standing match. Strowman, John Cena and Elias qualified for the Elimination Chamber. Cena defeated Finn Balor in the main event.
Stephanie McMahon came out to start the show. Michael Cole and Corey Graves welcomed back Jonathan Coachman to the commentator's table. Graves thanked Booker T. for his work on Raw and announced that Booker would resume his duties on the PPV kickoff broadcast team.
McMahon said they're kicking off another 25 years of Raw tonight and put over the women's Royal Rumble with Sasha Banks going nearly an hour. She also mentioned Nia Jax, Naomi, Lita, Trish Stratus, Beth Phoenix and Ronda Rousey. She introduced the winner of the Royal Rumble, Asuka.
Stephanie told Asuka that Asuka was going to WrestleMania and normally she would ask Asuka who she would face, but before she makes that decision she may want to wait. Stephanie announced that Raw Women's Champion Alexa Bliss would defend the Raw Women's Championship at the Elimination Chamber in the first women's Elimnation Chamber match. Stephanie gave Asuka the stage. Asuka spoke in Japanese and pointed to the WrestleMania sign. Stephanie said she could understand Asuka's point. Eventually, Asuka said in English at WrestleMania she would become the champion because no one is ready for Asuka.
Banks came out and said she got to share the ring with 29 incredible women last night and one of them was Asuka. For the last year, Banks has listened to Asuka say no one is ready for Asuka. But she was ready for Asuka because she lasted nearly an hour last night. The two went nose-to-nose as Stephanie ordered Banks vs. Asuka for tonight.
Graves announced that Raw GM Kurt Angle has ordered six qualifying matches for the Elimination Chamber. Tonight, Kane faces Braun Strowman in a Last Man Standing match. Plus, Matt Hardy vs. Elias and John Cena would take on Finn Balor.
Braun Strowman defeated Kane in a Last Man Standing match in an Elimination Chamber qualifying match (2:42)
This show must be packed because they started this match during the opening commercial. They brawled through the crowd, through the sound crew and near the commentator's table, where Strowman slammed a chair across Kane's back, then jabbed the end of the chair across his chest. Cole, Coachman and Graves bolted as Strowman lifted the commentator's stage and tilted it onto Kane. The referee didn't even count to ten and simply called for the bell. The pop for that spot wasn't as loud as when Strowman tilted the ambulance that Reigns' was riding in over. A group of referees and Adam Pearce rushed over to check on Kane, who was covered in wires.
Graves did a postmatch interview asking Strowman what did he just do? Strowman said he did his job because Angle said it was last man standing and that's what he just did.
Cole announced that Kane was being taken to a local medical center and has trouble breathing. That showed Kane being taken away on a stretcher. Strowman walked backstage where Angle yelled at him for putting people in danger. Angle asked if Strowman could give him one break. Strowman softly said that Angle was right, then screamed that Angle was lucky he didn't do more and he'll be standing over Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania. Cole, Graves and Coachman had to adjust their broadcast location to three chairs at ringside, sans a desk. A group of stage hands actually had to build a temporary desk as the first hour went on, which was shown on camera.
Elias was back for another song. Elias said it didn't care if anyone sang with him because he likes the sound of his own voice. He said he was disappointed to have been eliminated from the Royal Rumble by Cena, but Cena was going to get what was coming to him. Elias said the Elimination Chamber was on the horizon and WWE stood for "Walk With Elias." Before he gets to that point, he has to defeat Hardy, but he has WrestleMania on his mind so he sang a song about having Lesnar in his sights, it's Elias' night, after he wins the Chamber, it's Lesnar who will be in danger, it's Elias' night, Hardy, noticably limping, interrupted him.
Elias defeated Matt Hardy in an Elimination Chamber qualifying match (9:53)
Elias beat up on Hardy's left arm. Hardy came back with the Side Effect and called for the Twist of Fate, but Bray Wyatt's video wipe and music flashed by. That led to this week's distraction finish where Matt dropped his guard and Elias booted Hardy in the face and got the pin with Drift Away.
Postmatch, Wyatt appeared on the screen and laughed at Hardy for losing.
MIz did a promo saying that Reigns is owed an Intercontinental Championship rematch. Miz wondered what he was owed for restoring the dignity of the Intercontinental Championship. Miz said he's owed rose petals thrown at his feet during his ring entrance and a standing ovation, just like the one that Tom Brady will receive when he beats the Eagles this Sunday to win the Super Bowl.
Intercontinental Champion The Miz (with Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel) defeated Roman Reigns to retain the Intercontinental Championship (18:07)
If you're wondering about Reigns' reception, there was a sign at ringside that read "The Big Dog has Fleas." Reigns clotheslined Miz over the top rope twice in the opening minutes, then pulled out a chair to send Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel scurrying away backstage. Reigns teased hitting Miz with the chair, but the referee told Reigns he would be disqualified if he used it. Miz grabbed Reigns' trunks and pulled him into the post. Reigns started his comeback with the Samoan Drop and ten clotheslines in the corner and a boot to the face. Reigns called for the Superman Punch, but Miz chop blocked Reigns left leg, followed by the Yes kicks. But Reigns caught a kick and teased a power bomb, but Miz flipped over into a Sunset Flip, then clamped on the Figure Four leglock. Reigns sold it great before reversing it. Miz got the ropes. Miz kicked Reigns' left leg and tried another Figure Four, but Reigns countered it into a small package that turned into a one-armed power bomb for a two count.
Miz tried to take off the second turnbuckle, but the referee caught him. Reigns went after Miz in the corner. As the referee tried to pull Reigns off, Miz thumbed him in the eye and got the Skull Crushing Finale, but Reigns kicked out. Miz tried the Skull Crushing Finale again, but Reigns backed Miz into the corner, but missed a charge into the post. Miz came off the ropes but Reigns hit the Superman Punch for a two count. Crowd with "This is awesome" chants. Dallas and Axel returned to ringside. Axel distracted the referee, but Reigns gave Axel a Superman punch. Reigns limped to the other side and punced Dallas an Miz. Axel jumped back on the apron, where Reigns gave him another Superman punch. Axel nearly landed on the makeshift announcers table. Reigns pulled Dallas into the ring. Miz came up from behind and pinned Reigns with a schoolboy cradle while holding the trunks.
They showed a tweet from Paul Heyman commending Angle on his decision to have the winner of the Elimination Chamber face Lesnar at WrestleMania. He said that facing Lesnar was more punishment that reward.
The Revival defeated Rhyno and Heath Slater (3:23)
Crowd chanted "ECW" for Rhyno. True to Midnight Express form, Dash Wilder gave Heath Slater the Divorce Court to build the heat. Wilder appeared to give Slater Yoshi-Hashi's Bunker Buster, but it was Wilder who sold it like Slater gave him a neckbreaker. That led to the hot tag to Rhyno, who gave Scott Dawson a shoulder block off the second rope. Slater intercepted Wilder's attempt to interfere, but Dawson clipped Rhyno and Wilder pinned Rhyno after the Shatter Machine.
Dawson did a postmatch interview Charly Caruso saying they just defeated the SmackDown tag team champions. Dawson asked Caruso how would she compared the Revival to the Graham Brothers, who was Vince McMahon's favorite tag team as a teenager. Caruso acted like she didn't know who it was. Wilder said she was just like the people chanting "ECW," they live in the past instead of moving on from it.
Cole announced the latest inductees into the WWE Hall of Fame are the Dudley Boyz. Nice promo package where Joel Gertner was featured during the team's ECW days. The Dudleys join Sting as the only acts to make it into the WWE and TNA Halls of Fame. Edge was featured talking about their TLC matches, which put everyone on the map. JBL laughed about how many 3-Ds he took over the years. Crowd granted the announcement with more "ECW" chants.
Balor did a promo with Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows. He talked about lasting 57:38 in the Royal Rumble and it was the promise of an opportunity that kept him fighting. Balor said it was taken away by Cena. Now, he's not just going to step up to Cena, he's going to step over him.
Banks did an interview backstage with Renee Young. Banks said they were moments away from her defeating Asuka. She said how Asuka has been undefeated for 2-and-a-half years but now it was her turn.
Asuka defeated Sasha Banks by tapout (14:30)
Lot of submission holds as they appeared to be pacing for a 20-minute match. That changed when Banks, who was a subtle heel, slapped Asuka, who rose up for a comeback. Banks withstood some strikes and put Asuka into the Bank Statement. Asuka slipped out with a cradle, but Baks escaped and returned to the Bank Statement. Asuka got to her feet, but Banks threw her out of the ring. Banks attempted a tope, but Asuka caught her with a roundhouse kick as she came threw the ropes and Banks nose dived right on her head to the floor. The referee immediately rushed over but it appeared Banks said she was OK. Asuka also looked concerned. Banks took one sick bump but kept going. Asuka was relentless in the ring, throwing several backhands to the face, a hip toss into a knee to the face, a spin kick, followed by a missile dropkick. Asuka got the flying armbar, but Banks bridged over into a cradle for a two count. Asuka tried a butt butt like Ryusuke Taguchi, but she missed and fell through the ropes to the floor. Banks dove off the top rope for double knees to the face for a two count. Asuka tried to clamp on the Asuka lock, but Banks blocked it, hit the back stabber and put on the bank statement again. Asuka struggled to the ropes, but Banks kicked off and pulled her back to the middle of the ring. Asuka slipped out the backdoor and put on the Asuka Lock and Banks tapped out. Crowd heat didn't equal the caliber of the match. Cole put it over as a Raw classic.
Cena did an interview saying they're on the road to WrestleMania and only two people knew how they were going to get there. That was Asuka and Shinsuke Nakamura. Cena said if he beats Balor tonight, he will make it to the Elimination Chamber, which is how he can get to WrestleMania. Cena said he's been asked for years when is he going to be done, but those people don't understand he's just getting started.
Raw Tag Team Champions The Bar defeated Titus O'Neil and Apollo Crews (with Dana Brooke) to retain the Raw Tag Team Championships (11:22)
Apollo Crews did a good hot tag sequence that ended with a standing moonsault on Cesaro for a two count. This led to a botched spot where it appeared Cesaro was supposed to hoist Crews into Sheamus, but Sheamus dropped him and Crews landed right on his head. Somehow, Crews got right up and went on to reverse a crossbody attempt by Cesaro for a two count. Sheamus went on to pin Crews after the double team White Noise. Sheamus and Crews looked shaken up.
Cole announced that Kane sat up in the emergency room, crawled out of the hospital and worked his way to his feet, leaving the medical facility. He hasn't been seen since.
John Cena defeated Finn Balor in an Elimination Chamber qualifying match (17:46)
Coachman wondered why it feels like its Cena vs. the world. Apparently hosting SportsCenter causes amnesia. After about five minutes of trading headlocks, Cena went to ringside and appeared to single out a fan. This led to the crowds' attention being taken away for something going on offscreen, totally taking their minds off the match. Cena whipped Balor into the corners twice. Cena hit the Blue Thunder driver, but missed the Five Knuckle Shuffle. Crowd grew more supportive of Balor as the match went on and Cena didn't look like he wanted to play along. Cena hit a fistdrop, then attempted the AA, but Balor slipped out the backside and caught an overhead kick for a two count. Balor went for the Woo dropkick, but Cena clotheslined him. Balor attempted the Sling Blade, but Cena caught him, hoisted Balor onto his shoulders, threw up Balor's Too Sweet hand gesture and hit the AA, but Balor kicked out. Cena had a blank look on his face as he stalled and went to the top rope, but Balor met him with a kick to the head, the Woo Dropick. He attempted the Coup de Grace, but Balor landed on his right knee as Cena rolled out of the way. Cena clamped on the STF, but Balor made the ropes. Balor kicked Cena in the head on the apron and again went to the top rope, but Cena climbed the top rope and hit the Super AA for the pin.