WWE Raw Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from February 18
Champions have been crowned. Sasha Banks and Bayley captured the WWE Women's Tag Team Championships in a brutal Elimination Chamber match on Sunday when they outlasted the best teams on Raw and SmackDown Live to emerge victorious.
The Boss 'n' Hug Connection promised long before the titles existed that they would be tag team champions. Now they need to keep elevating their game, as they have a target on their back. Every woman on Raw and SmackDown will want that new gold.
While Raw was less of a focus than SmackDown at the event, there were still multiple important moments for the red brand that set up an interesting night. Most notably, Finn Balor became the new intercontinental champion by pinning Lio Rush in a handicap match.
This left Bobby Lashley without gold and angry with his hype man, and he lashed out at The Man of the Hour. Now he has realigned himself with Baron Corbin and Drew McIntyre, he is a dangerous man looking to regain his gold as quickly and decisively as possible.
Ronda Rousey also made quick work of Ruby Riott only to get taken out by Becky Lynch, who used crutches she feigned needing to strike out at The Baddest Woman on the Planet and Charlotte Flair. This feud continues to heat up.
These were just a few important setups for this week's Raw that made it a vital episode on The Road to WrestleMania.
Triple H Announces the Debuts of NXT Stars on Raw
Triple H droned on a bit too long about what happened Sunday night at Elimination Chamber before announcing four of the biggest stars in NXT right now would be debuting on Raw.
Ricochet, Aleister Black, Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa were all given small video packages.
The Game also announced the first match of the night: Braun Strowman vs. Baron Corbin again, this time in a tables match.
This was a lazy way to open the show. Triple H tried to sell everything he was saying as a big deal, but it just felt like a recap dump followed by the laziest introduction possible to four of the best young stars in the business.
While it was cool to know Ricochet, Black, Gargano and Ciampa would make their debuts on the main brand, there were more interesting ways of making it clear.
This felt like the WWE executive was just trying to showcase some NXT guys who will head back to the developmental brand after Monday.
Tables Match: Braun Strowman vs. Baron Corbin
A confident Baron Corbin quickly lost his smile as Braun Strowman threw him around the ring and dominated despite his injuries from Elimination Chamber. The two fought onto the stage and destroyed the announce table, but neither went through it.
The Monster Among Men was hobbled but refused to let up. He ended up catching The Lone Wolf as he returned to the ring and running powerslammed him through a table in the corner.
Afterward, as Strowman walked to the back, he caught Paul Heyman with a choke and flustered The Advocate.
Strowman def. Corbin by table break
This was a perfectly fine tables match, better than the ones the two have had in the past, including on Sunday. They just fought to a finish and used weapons for the primary spots. It was simple and fun enough while avoiding unnecessary interference.
It's hard to say what the point of it was, though. Bobby Lashley and Drew McIntyre were nowhere to be seen just a day after helping Corbin win a similar match. Why couldn't Strowman just win on Sunday and move on instead?
Paul Heyman Introduces Video Chronicling Brock Lesnar's Legacy
Paul Heyman introduced a video package of Brock Lesnar's dominance in WWE, reminding fans of The Beast Incarnate's biggest moments, including ending The Streak.
The Advocate then made fun of fans for thinking Seth Rollins could end the dominance of his client.
This was a generic attempt to keep this feud going while Lesnar is not around and The Architect is healing up. WWE can always craft a strong video package, but there was no real purpose to any of this, especially having Heyman introduce it.
Rollins vs. Lesnar has a ton of potential, but it has no momentum behind it right now. The two need to do something to make this feel like a WrestleMania main event.
Finn Balor and Ricochet vs. Bobby Lashley and Lio Rush
Finn Balor arrived to enjoy his moment in the spotlight as a new champion before Lio Rush distracted him to allow Bobby Lashley to assault his rival. Ricochet arrived to even the odds, setting up an exciting tag team match that lived up to expectations.
The One and Only showed how great he can be, while The Extraordinary Man's own athleticism was, as always, on display. The Man of the Hour tripped Balor, though, leaving him grounded with a bad knee and isolated by the heels.
This kept the NXT call-up fresh for his hot tag, as he ran around both heels and caught Rush with a diving back uppercut into a 630 splash for the win.
Balor and Ricochet def. Lashley and Rush by pinfall
Despite a shockingly apathetic crowd, this was an electric tag team match, with Ricochet and Balor looking right at home working together. The two athletic stars pulled off some insane spots, while Lashley and Rush did their part to make it all look impressive.
I don't know if right now is the perfect time to call up The One and Only, but he showed he can be huge on the main roster.
Lucha House Party vs. Zack Ryder and Curt Hawkins
Curt Hawkins looked better than he has done in months as the hot tag in this match, but Zack Ryder got taken out outside to force him to fight two-on-one odds.
He took a headscissors takedown into a roll-up by Lince Dorado for three.
Lucha House Party's Gran Metalik and Dorado def. Hawkins and Ryder by pinfall
This was a fine but completely unremarkable tag team match that continued the uninspiring run of Hawkins and Ryder reunited.
To be fair, The Long Island Iced-Z attempting to help his friend break his losing streak is a fun idea, but it has not led to memorable matches despite great competition.
Raw's tag team division needs a jump-start, but no one here really seems like they can help do that, with Lucha House Party being the more likely stars to catch fire in the right situation.
Heavy Machinery Tries to Impress Lacey Evans
Tucker Knight and Otis Dozovic talked about their relationship and looking out for each other, before Lacey Evans came out to strut.
This inspired Heavy Machinery to do its own strut, with Evans seemingly impressed.
This was a bizarre segment.
At best, it was an attempt to set up Evans as the manager of Heavy Machinery, but it felt more like WWE was just putting all three on TV so they are not forgotten amid the arrival of the biggest NXT stars.
The Revival vs. Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa
Backstage, Chad Gable and Bobby Roode questioned Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa getting a shot at The Revival in their debut.
Both NXT champions were unfazed, saying they had been running NXT as the hottest brand before Dash Wilder and Scott Dawson walked in and declared their greatness.
Picking up where they left off, DIY looked great against the champions and showed off their cohesion as a team. They survived a Shatter Machine attempt before they hit their signature move, Meeting in the Middle, for the victory.
Gargano and Ciampa def. Revival by pinfall
Few teams have been better together than Gargano and Ciampa. They have a chemistry that is almost impossible to match. Despite being separated for years, they went right back at it here with new characters and freshly crafted move sets to put on another spectacle.
Despite being a great match, it was an odd decision to have The Revival losing so decisively just one week into their title reign. The finish derailed their momentum more than it helped the debutants.
Sasha Banks and Bayley Refuse to Let Nia Jax and Tamina Ruin Their Moment
The Boss 'n' Hug Connection celebrated their huge victory with the championships held high. The duo talked about how much it meant to be standing up together with the gold.
Nia Jax and Tamina predictably interrupted to challenge the champs but got taken out by Banks and Bayley.
This was a fine segment to celebrate the crowning of the first WWE women's tag team champions. Banks and Bayley cut fine promos, putting over just how important this moment is for them, and they hinted at who could challenge them soon.
Jax and Tamina are not all that interesting as a threat, but they make sense as the first to step up. Hopefully, SmackDown's teams will not be left out of the shuffle.
Drew McIntyre vs. Dean Ambrose
Backstage, Drew McIntyre demanded a shot at Seth Rollins from Triple H, which seemingly set off Dean Ambrose, who slapped The Scottish Psychopath.
This aggravated the big man, who destroyed The Lunatic Fringe in their match. With back-to-back Claymores, McIntyre stood tall over the former WWE champion.
McIntyre def. Ambrose by pinfall
This was a fine way to establish McIntyre as an elite talent on Raw, but it was also a clear statement that Ambrose will not be treated like a top threat anymore. His final months with WWE are going to be disappointing.
Elias vs. Aleister Black
Elias demanded better treatment and blamed the new NXT call-ups for taking away from his spotlight. Aleister Black took exception to this and promised to make him fade to black.
The musician looked good early but grew more frustrated as The Dutch Destroyer stayed in the match.
Elias yelled at the crowd and his opponent before taking the Black Mass, giving the NXT stars a clean sweep in their main roster debuts.
Black def. Elias by pinfall
This wasn't all that exciting as a match, but it worked for what it needed to be. Black got to look good without steamrolling his more seasoned main roster opponent.
The two have similar styles, with The Dutch Destroyer being better at executing on that style.
Of all the guys to come up Monday night, it is Black who feels readiest to stick around. He has done his work in NXT and can compete with anybody on the main roster while looking impressive.
Ronda Rousey vs. Ruby Riott (Raw Women's Championship)
An angry Ronda Rousey took down Ruby Riott early with vicious arm drags.
Even with Sarah Logan and Liv Morgan at ringside to help The Riott Squad leader, it led only to a more competitive loss than her defeat on Sunday.
Riott escaped Piper's Pit and hit the Riott Kick for a near-fall. The Baddest Woman on the Planet survived a second Riott Kick off the second rope with a kick-out, giving her a second wind that finally led to the armbar for the submission.
Rousey def. Riott by submission to retain the Raw Women's Championship
How did Riott earn another title shot after getting completely steamrolled on Sunday?
It doesn't matter, really, because it gave fans the match Rousey and Riott should have had at Elimination Chamber. With a bit of help, The Riott Squad leader pushed the champion.
It was unnecessary to have Rousey kick out of two Riott Kicks, but otherwise the contest was a solid main event that only faltered for feeling like it needed some drama that was never there.