This Week In The WWE: 2/14-2/20

First things first. NXT TakeOver: Vengeance Day was an almost perfect PPV! A terrific treat for Valentine’s Day, if you will (thanks Dusty!)

Every match delivered in spades. And yes, Eli Drake has returned as LA Knight! We got two new champs in crowning MSK along with Dakota Kai & Raquel Gonzalez as this year’s Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic winners.

I don’t know how, but Johnny Gargano held on to his NXT Championship in an amazing match over KUSHIDA. Classic, on the edge of your seat stuff here folks!

Io Shirai pinned Mercedes Martinez in the triple threat match that left Toni Storm coming up short in her first title bid and wanting more of Miss Shirai.

Plus, not only did Finn Balor and Pete Dunne put on a masterpiece that celebrated some old school mat skills, but it also saw the return to the evil ways of Adam Cole. Is it truly the end of The Undisputed Era?

Now, one week later, it’s RAW and SmackDown’s chance to shine with the Elimination Chamber PPV and they’ll be hard pressed to put on a show that can equal the passion and back-and-forth action that NXT brought to the table.

Here’s your Elimination Chamber PPV updated card. We’ll have predictions coming up in our parting shots.

• WWE Championship Elimination Chamber – Drew McIntyre vs. Jeff Hardy vs. Kofi Kingston vs. Randy Orton vs. Sheamus vs. AJ Styles
• Universal Championship Elimination Chamber #1 Contender’s Match: Daniel Bryan vs. Cesaro vs. Sami Zayn vs. King Corbin vs. Jey Uso vs. Kevin Owens
• Universal Championship Match: Roman Reigns vs. Elimination Chamber Match Winner
• United States Championship Match: Bobby Lashley vs. Keith Lee vs. Riddle
• WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship Match: Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler vs. Sasha Banks & Bianca Belair

(As of Saturday morning, Asuka vs. Lacey Evans is still being promoted by WWE on their website, but that one doesn’t appear likely due to Evans’ pregnancy announcement on RAW.)


Star of the Week:

Bad Bunny – 24/7 Champ is taking over the WWE Universe. SNL TONIGHT and then next stop: WrestleMania!


RAW

RESULTS

• Riddle & Lucha House Party defeated The Hurt Business
• 24/7 Championship Match: Bad Bunny defeated R-Truth
• Charlotte Flair & Asuka defeated Lacey Evans & Peyton Royce by DQ
• Kofi Kingston defeated The Miz to earn spot in WWE Championship Elimination Chamber Match
• Shayna Baszler defeated Lana
• Gauntlet Match to earn last entry into WWE Championship Elimination Chamber Match: AJ Styles defeated Kofi Kingston; Drew McIntyre defeated AJ Styles; Drew McIntyre defeated Jeff Hardy; Drew McIntyre defeated Randy Orton by countout; Sheamus defeated Drew McIntyre

The Good…

Kofi Kingston – Putting Kofi into the Elimination Chamber match for the WWE Championship makes all the sense in the World. It upgrades the talent for one. Not that The Miz is a slouch, but Kingston if flat out better. Plus, there was no need for The Miz to be in the match when he already has a contract for a championship match anytime he wants. Why fight through five other guys in the chamber to win, right?!

Bad Bunny – With Bad Bunny being the musical guest on Saturday Night Live this week, making him champ to bring the belt to SNL and grab some mainstream media attention is a huge plus. It also takes his tag team with Damian Priest up a notch as they head towards a match with The Miz and John Morrison reportedly set for WrestleMania. He’s been gold for the WWE and now he truly holds the gold!

Alexa Bliss – Her short vignette foreshadowing the rebirth of The Fiend was chilling. It’s going to happen of course and I’m mad curious as to how it will happen.

Meh…

Baby Mama – Lacey Evans is pregnant huh? Sure, on tv, it’s a twist in the Charlotte Flair-Ric Flair daddy-daughter storyline for sure. But, in reality, it’s reportedly very real that Evans will be having her second child. But does it make any sense the way WWE threw it out there? If she’s truly pregnant, she wouldn’t be wrestling Asuka this Sunday at the Elimination Chamber PPV for the RAW Women’s Championship? When Becky Lynch announced she was going to be a Mom, she left and hasn’t been seen since. The WWE, as of Saturday, still hasn’t let us know if the match was going to happen or not – we’re guessing not but they were still promoting it on the WWE website. So, no clue as to where this leaves Asuka. In the storyline now, is Ric the Dad or just the mentor? We need some details and let’s be honest, how does any of this help put Charlotte over as a babyface? The quick answer is that it doesn’t.

Gauntlet Match – To me, if you’re going to have a match take over a third of your show, it has to be dynamic. Unfortunately, the six-man gauntlet match was just ok. Nothing spectacular. We got Kofi and AJ Styles out early which I didn’t like. Randy Orton predictably gets distracted by Alexa Bliss for his countout and of course, Sheamus earned the last spot in the chamber with a win over his former friend Drew McIntyre. It just wasn’t memorable.

Shayna Baszler – A win over Lana. Yawn.

Fun…

Three Amigos – Putting Riddle with the Lucha House Party was an entertaining way to start the night in the ring. Let’s hope that MVP isn’t hurt too badly though.

Missing…

Where was – Keith Lee. Will he still be in the US Championship Match Sunday? Is it COVID-19 related after missing the Royal Rumble? We need answers.

I want in…

Braun Strowman – Please don’t tell me that Strowman’s reaction to being left out of the Elimination Chamber will be to go after Shane McMahon! I have no want to see that match. Is there something I’m missing here?


NXT

RESULTS

• Ember Moon & Shotzi Blackheart defeated Candice LeRae & Indi Hartwell
• Leon Ruff defeated Isaiah “Swerve” Scott
• Kacy Catanzaro & Kayden Carter defeated Aliyah & Jessi Kamea
• KUSHIDA defeated Tyler Rust
• Zoey Stark defeated Valentina Feroz
• Finn Balor, Roderick Strong & Kyle O’Reilly defeated Oney Lorcan, Danny Burch & Pete Dunne

Every Wednesday night, it seems like the performances in the ring are what are truly make NXT stand out. This week, I felt like it was the work outside the ring, in the form of the pre-produced pieces that really told the story this week. Eli Drake, as LA Knight and NXT’s newest free agent, really had that Rock feel to him. He’s definitely going to raise the game. Pat McAfee was dead on in his #PatWasRight moment letting everyone know that he was 100% right on just who Adam Cole was. Cameron Grimes gets better and better (and apparently richer and richer) each and every week. He’s comic gold! Toni Storm took out NXT Women’s Champion Io Shirai out at a photo shoot. Each piece had a reason behind it and advanced the storylines without a match. That’s an improvement for NXT and a place they can look to get better at in the future. And how about Santos Escobar and Karrion Kross? Their match was pushed back a week after Escobar went home but now he has to face Kross this week or else William Regal is stripping him of his Cruiserweight title. Tick Tock. The time is now for this reckoning and Kross says Escobar’s destiny has been determined.

In the ring, I loved the pairing of the two Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic champions as MSK joined Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez. Wes Lee and Nash Carter proved they have that New Day feel to entertain, eating popcorn with Beth Phoenix while Kai & Gonzalez threw verbal jabs at the WWE Women’s Tag Team Champs, Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler. Gonzalez delivered the KO blow, telling Jax she’s was going to shove the Dusty Cup straight up her hole. Brilliant and I’m glad they’re keeping the Jax line going. March 3rd will be awesome with a pair of tag team championship matches on tap.

Ember Moon and Shotzi Blackheart get a nice rematch win over Candice LeRae and Indi Hartwell to start the night. Nothing amazing but nothing bad either.

Is Kacy Catanzaro about to become the next victim of Xia Li? It sure looks like after Li marked her hands. Nice little win too for Catanzaro & Kayden Carter.

Should we be excited about Zoey Stark? Not yet for me. But, I’m willing to give it more than one night.

KUSHIDA and Leon Ruff get victories but I’m not sure it did Tyler Rust or Isaiah “Swerve” Scott any favors, even with Scott’s supposed heel turn.

There was a ton to parse in that six-man tag team match. For one, Pete Dunne gets a pinfall over the NXT Champ Finn Balor. Adam Cole not only takes out Balor, but also Kyle O’Reilly in an attack that some at the Capitol Wrestling Center thought left O’Reilly suffering from a seizure. He didn’t. So, now we’ve got Balor vs. Cole. Balor vs. Dunne continuing. Cole vs. O’Reilly. Where does Roderick Strong fit in after an accidental hit from Balor? It’s undisputed that there’s a new era in NXT with so many possibilities to come! It was a very well-played out follow-up to NXT TakeOver: Vengeance Day.


SMACKDOWN

RESULTS

• Shinsuke Nakamura defeated Apollo Crews
• Tamina & Natalya defeated The Riott Squad
• Rey & Dominik Mysterio defeated Chad Gable & Otis by DQ
• Daniel Bryan, Kevin Owens & Cesaro defeated King Corbin, Sami Zayn & Jey Uso

Putting Edge and Roman Reigns in the ring together on the mic. Pure poetry. Edge is like Randy Orton, delivering some of the best promos of his career. This time, he’s spot on in that Reigns needs Edge to make it the true main event of WrestleMania. Wouldn’t we all love to hear what Reigns whispered in Edge’s ear? As for the Ultimate Opportunist, Edge is making the rounds with Kevin Owens, King Corbin and Daniel Bryan backstage as he continues to ponder his decision.

Poor Big E! He gets stretchered out by Apollo Crews after Shinsuke Nakamura gets the three count on Crews, frustrating him to the point of nailing the I-C Champ with the ringside steel steps. This one’s far from over! Crews’ heel turn has been in the making for weeks. I wonder if Crews’ appearance on Talking Smack, with a nod and no words to Paul Heyman could mean a new partnership with Reigns and could impact the PPV on Sunday.

50-50 booking give Natalya and Tamina the win this week over Liv Morgan and Ruby Riott. Are either of these teams really headed anywhere or just continuing the dance for another few weeks? I’m guessing just a dance where Billie Kay gets tossed around by both sides as she did Friday night by Tamina & Natalya.

We love Reggie! It just keeps getting better and better for our favorite Sommelier! This week, he joins forces with Sasha Banks and Bianca Belair to pin Nia Jax, Shayna Baszler and Bayley. My only question is where was Carmella to celebrate with her favorite sidekick? Well, apparently not enjoying the wine she threw in Reginald’s face backstage. For their victory, Banks & Belair got a title match against the champs Sunday at Elimination Chamber.

Seth Rollins with legal notice for the WWE? Really? Cesaro vs. Rollins. Yes, please! Cesaro saying Rollins came back as the same condescending SOB is priceless.

Is Otis turning a corner here? Has Chad Gable got him seeing things a different way? New tights and you know what that means. No more Mr. Nice Guy as he squashes Rey Mysterio. Having Otis turn to the dark side the same night as Crews though seems like it will get lost in the shuffle without some future legwork.

As good as the six-man tag team main event was with all six of the Elimination Chamber match participants was, it was almost overshadowed by Edge and Paul Heyman trading barbs at the announce table. Based on the short sample we got Friday night with Daniel Bryan making Sami Zayn tap out to have the good guys going over, Sunday’s chamber match could be something we’ll remember for quite some time. That closing sequence with King Corbin hitting End of Days on Bryan, Kevin Owens stunning Corbin, Zayn giving the Exploder to KO, Cesaro uppercutting Zayn, Jey Uso super kicking Cesaro, Edge spearing Uso leading to the final Reigns spear of Edge was fantastic. SmackDown set up the PPV very nicely and after all, that’s the point.


Parting Shots:

Elimination Chamber PPV Predictions
WWE Championship Elimination Chamber – Drew McIntyre retains title
Universal Championship Elimination Chamber #1 Contender’s Match: Sami Zayn wins
Universal Championship Match: Roman Reigns retains title
United States Championship Match: Riddle wins US Championship
WlWE Women’s Tag Team Championship Match: Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler retain titles
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Coming up this week:
RAW:

Elimination Chamber fallout

NXT:
Karrion Kross vs. Santos Escobar

SMACKDOWN:
Elimination Chamber fallout


Thanks for letting us share our thoughts! Shoot me an email at jcrowe567@gmail.com. We’d love to hear your comments and suggestions! You can also check out my blog, The Crowe’s Nest as we delve into more pro wrestling, sports entertainment and the World of Sports. My apologies ahead of time – I AM a Patriots, Red Sox, Celtics and Bruins fan! If you’re not down with that, I’ve got TWO WORDS for you… NEW ENGLAND