When you’re on the road to WrestleMania and you pass the Elimination Chamber, you start looking for signs for the final exit. The card’s been taking shape for months now, and we’re really putting the final touches on it.

For tonight’s Raw, there are only two advertised matches, Sami Zayn versus Shinsuke Nakamura, and Cody Rhodes versus Grayson Waller for some strange reason. Regarding the Sami match, I’m really hoping he gets a win. But I’m also sure that we’re going to see some other appearances. Drew McIntyre, Becky Lynch, Rhea Ripley, you name it.

WWE Raw on February the 26th, 2024 was in the SAP Center in San Jose, California. And these are my thoughts:

  • Of course we start off RAW with the shots of people arriving. I’m still loving these new production bits. Drew McIntyre’s here, so is Becky Lynch. Good.
  • We start with Dominic Mysterio in the ring to introduce Rhea Ripley. Now, seeing as Ripley was just a huge babyface in her home country, I think the reason they put Dom out there is to get the crowd booing and make sure everyone knows she’s still a heel.
  • The crowd, of course, massively boo Dom, but start chanting “Mami” when Rhea’s in the ring cutting her promo. And then we get Becky Lynch, who they, of course start cheering for. It’s a fun little back and forth. And maybe a bit too much fun for Michael Cole, who started laughing hysterically when Lynch referred to Mysterio as a “kumquat”. I don’t know if you can say that word on TV, but Becky did, and they didn’t bleep it.
Becky Lynch confronts Rhea Ripley (with Dominik Mysterio) during her promo on WWE RAW February 26 2024
  • When the promo ends, and all of a sudden, Nia Jax hits the ring and starts attacking Becky, Rhea considers coming to help, but doesn’t, even though it means she’s missing a chance to take on the woman she just beat over the weekend. I’m guessing this is to further reinforce that Rhea is a heel to the now-booing crowd.
  • I also really like Pat McAfee’s interesting choice of words, that it took “seven humans to stop Nia Jax” I mean, yes, technically he’s correct. But why refer to the random people who showed up not as security, but as humans, which they obviously are.
  • Okay, the first match is Sami Zayn versus Shinsuke Nakamura. I’m really pulling for my fellow Montrealer in this one. He needs to get back on the winning track. And that’s something that not only am I thinking and the audience is thinking, but the announcers are definitely reinforcing.
  • Shinsuke did look strong at first, purportedly injuring Sami’s midsection. and repeatedly targeting it throughout the match. So that’s something else Sami had to fight through. When we come back from the first commercial break with an interesting walk-in shot towards the ring, we start hearing the “Ole, Ole, Ole!” chants, and McAfee lets us know that we were hearing those all throughout the commercial break. So it’s good to know that the California crowd is also behind Sami.
  • Zayn makes a comeback. Almost wins with a Mishinoku Driver and turns a Kinshasa into a Blue Thunder Bomb and gets a two count. He takes another Kinshasa to the back of the head.
Sami Zayn hits Shinsuke Nakamura with the Blue Thunder Bomb during their match on WWE RAW February 26 2024
  • He ends up winning with two Huluva kicks, and I legitimately cheered at home. Yes, I’m cheering a Sami Zayn victory over Shinsuke Nakamura, but it’s more about the story of him getting back on track.
  • By the way, Sami Zayn’s WWE 2K24 score is 87 and Shinsuke Nakamura’s is 84.
  • After the match, we get a nice interview segment with Jackie Redmond where Sami says that either his road to WrestleMania will find him or he’ll go looking for it. Just as Ludwig Kaiser and Giovanni Vinci walk by and then Gunther. Are they really setting up Sami versus Gunther at Mania? I hope so.
  • We’re getting more of these pre-match animated graphics, which I’m loving.
  • I really like how Chelsea Green now mouths her name along with ring announcer Samantha Irvin in that very unique style. And I love the fact that Green cut a promo in the center of the ring. A really nice heel promo dissing the San Jose Sharks, among others. And making sense in her own weird way. She only lost the Battle Royal because Adam Pearce decided to put Raquel Rodriguez into it.
Chelsea Green cuts a promo on Raquel Rodriguez on WWE RAW February 26 2024
  • Chelsea versus Raquel was pretty much a squash match, except for the fact that Chelsea was just so entertaining. She complained and whined about all these moves being done to her and tried to negotiate with Raquel not to do the moves that she was supposed to do to win the match. She even drew an imaginary line in the sand in the ring.
  • By the way, Raquel’s 2K24 score is 86 and Chelsea’s is 75.
  • We get a nice quick Cody Rhodes promo at the nine o’clock hour, setting up a match with Grayson Waller, the first ever Monday Night RAW Main Event for the SmackDown star who never really main events.
  • When Gunther hits the ring, I’m excited. He mentions his future challengers. He acknowledges how he almost lost to Jey Uso in a way as humble as Gunther could possibly be, which is not that humble. And he talks about the potential of facing Sami Zayn, Chad Gable even brings up R-Truth. And then of all the music to come on, we get the Judgment Day’s. I’m thinking, what? Is it going to be Dominic Mysterio challenging Gunther first, and then maybe eventually Damian Priest, though not using his briefcase? I definitely want to see Priest versus Gunther at some point, just not at WrestleMania.
Damian Priest, accompanied by Judgement Day, confronts Gunther, accompanied by Imperium on WWE RAW February 26 2024
  • I have some thoughts on Gunther’s next opponent, or more specifically his WrestleMania opponent, and I’m going to share those in a video.
  • This leads into the Street Fight between the New Day and Imperium. This is something I’ve been waiting for, because it seems like all of their matches have devolved into an unofficial street fight. So at least we’re just throwing the pretext of a normal match out the window.
  • It was really hard hitting. There was lots of kendo sticks, and slamming into things in the audience. Just what I was expecting from these teams. They all put on a great show. Ludwig Kaiser did some top-notch heel work when the audience was chanting for a table. He pulls one out and puts it right back under the ring. Eventually the crowd-pleasing New Day would shout “Get the tables!’ as a tribute to the Dudley Boyz and produce one. They put Giovanni Vinci throug it to a massive pop from the capacity crowd in San Jose. Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods both went to town with kendo sticks on Ludwig Kaiser, and it looked like they’re going to win. But eventually, Imperium took out Woods and ran Kingston into a frying pan and then a chair for the pin.
Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods attack Ludwig Kaiser with kendo sticks during the Imperium Versus The New Day Street Fight on WWE RAW February 26 2024
  • Given the ending, there will probably be a rematch. Who knows? Maybe even at WrestleMania. Maybe Hell in a Cell, or something like that. This was a really well done, fun, violent and physical match to watch on RAW. And we don’t get those all the time.
  • Chad Gable made an excellent pitch to Adam Pearce backstage on why he should be the one to fight Gunther. His angle is personal, the story of his daughter. He’s even released a video subsequently about this. Still my solid second choice after Sami.
  • Shayna Baszler and Zoe Stark made sense backstage before their match with Candice LeRae and Indi Hartwell. Their upcoming opponents shouldn’t have got a shot at the WWE Women’s Team Championships on the pre-show of Elimination Chamber just because Indi’s from Australia. While I’m glad that they did get the shot because I understand storytelling, in the world of the story, Baszler and Stark are right.
  • This was a short match. Zoe and Shayna made quick work of Candice and Indi, submitting Hartwell for the win, and potentially setting up a match between them and the Kabuki warriors.
  • I enjoyed the segment with R-Truth, The Miz, and DIY in the now-abandoned Judgement Day Clubhouse. I especially liked Tommaso Ciampa channeling his inner Triple H. I think we might actually get a DX comedy segment next week, which the cornball part of me is quite looking forward to.
  • Drew McIntyre’s heel work is really on point and developing nicely, and this episode was no exception. He comes out pretending the fans are on his side, and claims he’s not going to miss WrestleMania due to injury because “Who do you think I am? CM Punk?” He then sits down in Punk’s pipe bomb pose. Trolling perfection.
2024 Men’s Elimination Chamber Match Winner Drew McIntyre sits CM Punk-style during his promo on WWE RAW February 26 2024
  • What McIntyre said to World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins, after calling him out, made sense. Why is Rollins risking everything to help Cody Rhodes fight The Bloodline? What Rollins said in response made sense as well, too. These are two competitors making sense, and I’m definitely looking forward to their match, and I’m also waiting for the other shoe to drop, or the next fist to fly. Part of me is even wondering if maybe Rollins is actually planning to betray Cody and have The Bloodline help him beat Drew. I hope that doesn’t happen, but it would definitely be an interesting turn of events.
  • Nia Jax versus Liv Morgan was a good match for what it was, and while it lasted. Liv was definitely struggling for a lot of it, but did get some moves in. I was starting to wonder if this match was supposed to be payback for Nia, for losing to Rhea, or for Liv for coming in second in the Elimination Chamber. And then, of course, I realized it was neither.
Liv Morgan escapes Nia Jax during their match on WWE RAW February 26 2024
  • But before we got there, I think Pat McAfee’s use of the Telestrator, or the Patstrator, following the one and only commercial break, but as the match was still going, an interesting choice. I’m not sure it was best to place it there. Funnier as an after-match thing, but we’re still trying things out.
  • I should have figured Becky Lynch would come in and attack Nia Jax, cause a disqualification, and set up a match for next week. I thought that was the only purpose behind that booking, until Liv Morgan ran by her backstage and called her out for interfering in her match. “Not everything has to be about you!” I’m now wondering if maybe Liv is going to turn heel next week, or maybe who knows Becky is going to go from being The Man back to Big Time Becks with a heel turn of her own. Who knows? I’m actually going to do a video on this one as well, too.
Becky Lynch attacks Nia Jax on WWE RAW February 26 2024
  • It’s nice that Michael Cole gave a tribute to wrestling legend Ole Anderson, who passed away, especially considering Ole had never actually been part of the WWE. He definitely was someone who had a lot of impact on a lot of the current roster and the past roster.
  • Cody Rhodes has a WWE 2K24 rating of 93, and he’s also on the cover. Grayson Waller has a rating of 74, not so good. Tonight’s Main Event is a mismatch, and not just in terms of video game power ratings, but storyline, too. And this despite Austin Theory being in Waller’s corner.
  • The match was decent, but short. Waller did get some moves in at the start, but then Cody took over with a nice vertical suplex. There was a Davey Boy Smith reference from Pat McAfee. Midway through, Michael Cole has breaking news from the internet that Paul Heyman is backstage. Of course, you could have just seen Heyman in the back of Austin Theory and Grayson Waller’s interview, which some people on the internet probably did, but I digress. And with Heyman confirmed and only 10 minutes left in the show, I had a funny feeling Grayson Waller wasn’t going to last that much longer. He did a nice roll, but ended up eating a Cody Cutter, followed by a Crossroads, and Cody pins him for the win.
Cody Rhodes hits Grayson Waller with the Cody Cutter on WWE RAW February 26 2024
  • Paul Heyman does come to the ring, has his usual interplay with the audience, but he’s not with Solo Sikoa or Jimmy Uso. He’s with three guys I don’t recognize that he identifies as retired, no, suspended police officers, obviously amateur wrestlers playing a different role. The unknown nature of Paul’s three “friends” added to the suspense of the moment.
  • It’s not an ambush, according to Heyman, just a reminder to “Keep The Rock’s name out of your mouth!”, but Cody does get to take out the three guys, and cut a fiery promo. He’s not being hunted by The Bloodline, he’s hunting The Bloodline. Excellent passion, and we’ll have to wait and see if The Rock accepts his now reissued challenge.
Cody Rhodes attacks Paul Heyman’s “friends” on WWE RAW February 26 2024
  • The show ended with one of the funniest things I’ve seen in wrestling in a while. Paul Heyman pulling out one phone to call Roman Reigns, and another, with the Brahma Bull logo on it to call The Rock made me think of Star Trek, and all those pads. It’s obvious that Heyman, in character, knows he can use the same phone to call both, so the sheer ridiculous exuberance and opulence of this stunt was just hilarious.

So we ended by progressing one major WrestleMania storyline which we’re not entirely sure where it’s going, but have an idea. We also laid the groundwork for some other potential WrestleMania matches, and built on the ones we knew, but we also introduced some potential snags. Yes, this is the last stretch before the final exit to WrestleMania, but this RAW, had a few pleasant and interesting bumps in the road.

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