WWE Raw Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from February 12
The Raw brand is building toward WWE Elimination Chamber on February 25, and Monday night, it delivered a broadcast rife with pay-per-view implications.
John Cena defeated The Miz to ensure The Hollywood A-Lister is the first Superstar to enter the unforgiving steel structure, while Braun Strowman dealt pain, punishment and a cello across the back to the man who will enter the match last, Elias.
The sixth and final spot in the match was up for grabs in a blockbuster Fatal 5-Way match between Apollo Crews, Woken Matt Hardy, Bray Wyatt, Finn Balor and Seth Rollins, who campaigned Raw general manager Kurt Angle for the opportunity earlier in the night.
The controversy surrounding that match leaves the marquee gimmick bout shrouded in uncertainty.
Find out what else went down on an explosive night of action that also included one of the greatest women's rivalries of all time revisited, as Sasha Banks battled hometown hero Bayley, with this recap of the February 12 broadcast.
John Cena Kicks Off Raw
John Cena kicked off Monday's episode of Raw, drawing a huge reaction as he entered the arena in San Jose, California.
Cena discussed the significance of WrestleMania, something that has been drilled into the minds of fans for the last three decades, before intercontinental champion The Miz and his Miztourage interrupted.
Cena laughed off the idea Miz could be a legitimate and credible opponent to universal champion Brock Lesnar, going so far as to say the only way he has a chance is if The Beast Incarnate does not show up.
Miz reminded Cena he beat him at WrestleMania.
Eventually, Cena challenged Miz to a match in which the loser would be the first Superstar to enter the Elimination Chamber on February 25.
The Miztourage attacked Cena, drawing out Angle, who made the match official but banned Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel from the ringside area.
This was a fine enough opening segment, but one must question the decision to point out just how few of the Superstars on today's roster would stand a snowball's chance in hell against Lesnar in a fight.
Still, the segment set up a significant opener for the show featuring two former WWE champions, so it served a purpose.
John Cena vs. The Miz
The Miz attempted to put Cena at a tremendous disadvantage at Elimination Chamber, beating him and forcing him to enter the gimmick bout first.
Cena evaded a Skull-Crushing Finale, only to find himself trapped in a Figure-Four. Cena escaped and locked Miz in an STF, but the intercontinental champion made it to the ropes.
At one point, Cena delivered the Attitude Adjustment, but a resilient Miz shot his shoulder off the mat, preventing a fall. Miz reapplied the Figure-Four, but Cena again countered into the STF.
Miz landed the Skull-Crushing Finale off a Cena blind charge, but the franchise kicked out at two.
An overconfident Miz attempted his finisher from the top rope, but Cena countered and delivered a super Attitude Adjustment to score the win and ensure Miz enters the upcoming Elimination Chamber match at No. 1.
John Cena defeated The Miz
The ghost of WrestleMania 27 lingers over both Cena and Miz to the point that it is easy to forget the in-ring chemistry they have. This was a strong match, easily one of Cena's better recent performances, and a high-profile way to kick off this week's show.
In most cases, it would be easy to complain about Cena going over, but Miz is such a strong talker and character that he can easily cut a promo later in the night or on next week's show that regains him any heat this may have cost him.
Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows vs. The Revival
The team of Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows has been waging war with The Revival in recent weeks, and Monday night, it appeared as though they would do battle once more.
Instead, Dash Wilder and Scott Dawson attacked Gallows and Anderson, chopping the knee out of the former and leaving the freshly turned babyfaces fired up ahead of the bell.
After a furious flurry by the Good Brothers, The Revival seized control heading into the break, taking Gallow's knee out for the second time.
The Revival continued to work over the knee until a hot tag to Anderson appeared to turn the tide in favor of the former Raw tag team champions. With his partner down at ringside, though, Anderson fell prey to the tag team skills of the heels and fell in defeat courtesy of The Shatter Machine.
The Revival defeated Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows
The tag team psychology here was strong, as is typically the case when The Revival is involved.
The question following this bout is whether the program will continue. The underhanded tactics by Wilder and Dawson prior to the match seem to suggest that will be the case, but only time will tell.
Regardless, both teams would make phenomenal top contenders to Sheamus and Cesaro's Raw Tag Team Championships.
Kurt Angle's Huge Announcements
Kurt Angle addressed the audience, announcing Ronda Rousey will sign her Raw contract at Elimination Chamber. Then he revealed his son, Jason Jordan, suffered a neck injury and will miss WrestleMania.
He went on to tell the jubilant fans they should be ashamed of themselves.
Seth Rollins interrupted, reliving his unforgettable WWE Championship victory at WrestleMania 31 in San Francisco and the heartache he endured by missing WrestleMania one year later.
He told Angle he wanted to make it Monday Night Rollins once again by winning the WWE title.
He ultimately convinced the general manager to make the scheduled Fatal 4-Way match for later in the show a Fatal 5-Way in which the winner would fill the final spot in the upcoming Elimination Chamber bout.
Rollins told a story WWE could easily milk for a big WrestleMania run, even if all signs currently point to Roman Reigns headlining WrestleMania against Brock Lesnar.
With that said, Rollins delivered a strong promo and had the fans on his side in a way they have not necessarily been throughout the duration of his babyface run.
More storytelling like that, rather than trotting him out to have a great match every week without character development, will benefit him in the long run.
Bayley vs. Sasha Banks
A social media battle between best friends Bayley and Sasha Banks boiled over into the ring Monday night, as two of the original Four Horsewomen of NXT battled in the former's hometown of San Jose.
Banks showed the first hint of frustration, unloading on Bayley with a series of hard rights following a series of holds and counter-holds early.
Heading into the night's first commercial break, she targeted the taped-up shoulder of the loveable hometown hero, seizing control of the bout.
Banks continued to target her opponent's injured joint, but arrogance on her part allowed Bayley to seize an opening and fire off a passionate comeback.
Bayley attempted her top-rope elbow drop but missed, and Banks applied the Bank Statement. Bayley made it to the ropes and sent Banks face-first into the turnbuckle.
The women ultimately fought to the top turnbuckle, where Bayley delivered a super Bayley-to-Belly for the upset victory.
After the match, tension between the Superstars was teased, but before there was any resolution, Nia Jax hit the ring and laid both of them out. She vowed to break Asuka's streak at Elimination Chamber.
Bayley defeated Sasha Banks
Banks and Bayley are incapable of having a bad match at this point.
They have such in-ring chemistry, like The Rock and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin or Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels that even their weakest effort is still pretty damn good. That was the case here, as the two worked a lesser version of their TakeOver: Brooklyn match, but it accomplished exactly what it set out to: It teased Banks' heel turn, gave Bayley a big victory and spotlighted Nia Jax after the bell.
Jax has quietly developed into one of the most over female Superstars on Raw right now.
A quality segment that put heat on the upcoming Elimination Chamber match.
Mickie James and Alexa Bliss vs. Sonya Deville and Mandy Rose
Alexa Bliss cited the need to keep Absolution from winning the Raw Women's Championship as the reason she came to the aid of Mickie James.
Monday night, she teamed with her former rival to battle Absolution's Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville in yet another preview of the upcoming Elimination Chamber.
The heels isolated James for the majority of the bout, but the veteran fought her way back into the match and delivered a neckbreaker to Rose.
Before she could make the tag, though, Deville pulled Bliss off the apron.
Rose would pick up the victory for her team with a double underhook facebuster to James.
After the match, Bliss broke up a beatdown and stared Absolution down to end the segment.
Sonya Deville and Mandy Rose defeated Alexa Bliss and Mickie James
Deville and Rose continue to grow as in-ring workers and have been presented as stars to this point by WWE Creative.
Their victory here, isolating one opponent and preventing the hot tag through nefarious means, is the stuff of a much more seasoned team. It will help with earning them heat and building their status in the coming weeks and months.
Braun Strowman Pummels Elias
Elias attempted to play his music for the WWE Universe, but its collective boos interrupted him on more than one occasion, earning it his scorn.
Braun Strowman interrupted, the spotlight shining directly on him. He produced a stool and an enormous cello. He broke the strings playing it and proceeded to march toward the squared circle, threatening to use it on Elias.
He eventually delivered the running powerslam on Elias, drawing a big pop.
As The Drifter attempted to flee, Strowman broke the cello over his Elimination Chamber opponent's back.
It is against character for Strowman to engage Elias in a comedy segment, but both he and the sinister songster have been so good in recent months that they made this work when it should not have.
Strowman is a beast, a fun monster of a man who makes every segment better. Elias is a quality heel whose best days are ahead of him.
For a throwaway segment, this was entertaining shlock.
Roman Reigns vs. Sheamus
One of the top rivalries of 2015 was revisited Monday night, as Roman Reigns battled Sheamus. Though it was a singles match, The Big Dog was forced to keep his eye on Cesaro at ringside.
Sheamus earned control of the match just before the first break, delivering a rolling senton on the arena floor that left Reigns writhing in pain.
The Celtic Warrior wore Reigns down, utilizing the Irish Curse and a Cloverleaf in an attempt to put away his resilient opponent.
Reigns fought his way back into the match, delivering a big Superman Punch. On the arena floor, he obliterated Cesaro with a Superman Punch that sent The Swiss Cyborg into the stands. Sheamus, alert, blocked Reigns' attempt at a Drive-By.
He scaled the ropes and came off...directly into a spear by Reigns, who scored the hard-fought victory.
Roman Reigns defeated Sheamus
Not on the level of previous bouts between the two, but Reigns vs. Sheamus was still a strongly structured match that showcased Reigns and gave him a big win ahead of Elimination Chamber.
It is always debatable whether tag team champions should be losing singles bouts and thus devaluing their title reign, but Sheamus and Cesaro are arguably the most established team on Raw and should recover just fine from The Celtic Warrior's loss to WWE's current franchise star.
Finn Balor vs. Apollo Crews vs. Bray Wyatt vs. Woken Matt Hardy vs. Seth Rollins
Apollo Crews, Seth Rollins, Finn Balor, Bray Wyatt and Woken Matt Hardy battled Monday night in an explosive Fatal 5-Way match for the opportunity to enter the Elimination Chamber on February 25 and maybe, just maybe, earn a trip to WrestleMania and a date with Brock Lesnar.
The action was fast and furious, each of the five Superstars having the opportunity to showcase their signature moves and finishers.
At one point, Rollins delivered the Blackout to Balor and nearly scored the win, only for Crews to break up the pin. What followed were several minutes in which Crews shined, delivering standing moonsaults and Shooting Star Presses to Rollins.
The Kingslayer survived, though, while Bray Wyatt leveled Hardy on the outside with Sister Abigail.
The finish came when Balor and Rollins grabbed ahold of Wyatt, who delivered a superplex to Crews in a Tower of Doom spot.
Both Balor and Rollins proceeded to pin Wyatt for the win.
The show went dark with commentators Michael Cole, Corey Graves and Jonathan Coachman speculating as to which Superstar actually won the match.
This was a nonstop, action-packed conclusion to the show that demonstrated just how desirable the final spot in the Elimination Chamber is. It made the opportunity to endure hell for a shot at championship glory feel that much more significant, and as a result, fans were more invested in the contest.
All five men turned in a hellish performance, but for the third week in a row, it was Crews who stood out, performing up to the moment.
The finish will divide the audience, some believing it was a brilliant cliffhanger for next week's show while others will find fault with the company for not delivering a resolution.
Regardless, it was a refreshing change of pace and a strong feature bout.