We’re on the Road to WrestleMania, and this was the Go-Home RAW for Elimination Chamber, but it felt like so much more. It had a real big match feel. The really hot capacity crowd at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California definitely helped, but it was definitely some of the matches, two in particular.

Here are my thoughts on the February 19, 2024 WWE RAW:

  • We found out before the show on social media that we’re starting off with Cody Rhodes versus Drew McIntyre, meaning that the Intercontinental Championship Match between Gunther and Jey Uso would close the show. We also found out that Chelsea Green will be in the Battle Royal for the final spot in the Women’s Elimination Chamber Match. The blink-and-you-miss-it fun was when CM Punk walked behind Green as she was talking to RAW General Manager Adam Pearce. I wonder if Punk will show up on the show? (Spoiler Alert: He doesn’t, but did talk to the Anaheim crowd after RAW went off the air.
  • More great walk-ins at the start of the show. Still loving this new production style.
  • We went right into Cody versus Drew, and it was a real banger of a match that was allowed to breathe, taking up the first 30 minutes of the show. Michael Cole echoed my thoughts when he said it has a big match feel. It even started with a staredown, which Drew interrupted with a shove. This allowed us to get their WWE 2K24 Power Rankings. Cody’s at 93, and Drew’s at 89. I wonder if that will change after this match.
Cody Rhodes and Drew McIntyre at the start of their match on WWE RAW February 19 2024
  • There was a rare (for these two) double-submission attempt, Cody kicked out of a Future Shock DDT, and a Sit-Up Powerbomb, Drew kicked out of a really impressive-looking Cody Cutter off the top rope, and a Pedigree, and the crowd gave this a deserving “This is awesome!” chant.
Cody Rhodes and Drew McIntyre try to submit each other on WWE RAW February 19 2024
  • I started thinking that no way could this be a clean finish, as either of these guys taking a loss this close to Mania couldn’t be in the cards, but I also didn’t see how either of them would overtly cheat, either. But then, of course The Bloodline would interfere. Jimmy Uso with the distraction, and Solo Sikoa, with the Samoan Spike, stopped Cody from winning with the Cross Rhodes. This, we were reminded later, was only Cody’s second singles pinfall loss since returning to the company. The first was to Roman Reigns, and it also happened because of a Solo Spike.
Solo Sikoa spikes Cody Rhodes during his match with Drew McIntyre on WWE RAW February 19 2024
  • I’m glad Adam Pierce made it clear that Jimmy and Solo were kicked out, otherwise, I’m sure they’d just go and get some food or something, it’s not like there’s another match Jimmy might want to interfere in…
  • Pat McAfee with the telestrator may not be Kevin Owens-level funny yet, but his drawing over Drew and Cody was great. So was his later use of the device.
  • The no words conversation between an injured Cody and World Heavyweight Champion Seth “Freakin” Rollins spoke volumes. Cody letting Seth be his “shield against The Bloodline”, as well as that Mania Night One tag match seem all but locked in, at this point.
  • Not sure what I think of Andrade yet. I never caught him on NXT, and don’t watch AEW. The two videos promoting his return that they’ve show on RAW give a glimpse at him and a mood. The two things I now know are that he comes from the Lucha Libre tradition, and that he’s married to Charlotte Flair, and after watching these, I don’t know much else. We’ll just have to wait and see.
  • As the Last Chance Battle Royal started, I both hoped Chelsea Green would win, and also thought it would be really funny if she was eliminated first, given how much she wanted into the contest. Neither happened, of course. Maxxine Dupri and Valhalla were the first to go, and the returning Raquel Rodriguez dominated early. I should have realized that Raquel would win, given that someone of her size makes sense in a match like the Elimination Chamber, that her former partner Liv Morgan is already heading to Perth, and that it was exciting to see her return.
The Last Chance Battle Royal for the final spot in the Women’s Elimination Chamber Match on WWE RAW February 19 2024
  • Zelina Vega and Elektra Lopez fought off to the back, furthering their feud, and sentimental favorite Indi Hartwell isn’t going home to Australia, and didn’t make it to the final four. Though, come to think of it, Michin, Shayna Baszler, Zoey Start, and Rodriguez weren’t really the final four. After the first three were eliminated, Raquel stood alone in the ring, only for Chelsea Green, who never went over the top rope, to return and sneak up on her. Chelsea wasn’t exactly Royal Rumble Shawn Michaels here, and Raquel threw her out to win. While this was exciting, and the right woman won, for a brief moment, we almost had a real fun twist.
Chelsea Green tries to sneak up on on WWE RAW February 19 2024 during the Last Chance Battle Royal for the final spot in the Women’s Elimination Chamber Match on WWE RAW February 19 2024
  • And then we got a nice bit of corporate synergy, with the UFC’s Michael Chandler challenging Connor McGregor to a UFC match on a WWE microphone, sitting at ringside at RAW.
  • The dual-location interview with Women’s World Champion Rhea Ripley and her Elimination Chamber challenger Nia Jax was solid continued build, without any physicality. It reinforced Ripley being the babyface in Perth by her telling her real story. She even spoke of the crowd chanting “Mami!”.
  • The style reminded me of the heel Seth Rollins and Matt Riddle interview from a couple of years ago, a style WWE hasn’t utilized since then, I believe. This along with some of the new graphics, the walk-in promos and intro segments, and new camera angles like the one behind the turnbuckle, and the one moving from outside to inside the arena, and up the entrance way to the ring after breaks, indicate that WWE may be headed to a more sports-based visual presentation. Not to mention they seem to have stopped flooding the crowd with red light. They’re clearly still experimenting with style, and I’m loving it!
  • Jackie Redmond’s pre-recorded outdoor interview with R-Truth in the rain was a nice piece of dramatic comedy. It felt like a believable progression to the final chapter in the R-Truth/Judgement Day Saga
  • I really hope that Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa came out to DX music, instead of their usual DIY music, to make Truth, and the crowd, happy. They didn’t, but we did get them, along with Truth and The Miz doing the DX crotch chop in the ring after they had temporarily vanquished Damian Priest, Finn Bálor, Dominik Mysterio, and JD McDonagh to the outside.
(l-r) Tommaso Ciampa, R-Truth, The Miz, and Johnny Gargano give the DX Crotch Chop on WWE RAW February 19 2024
  • The Judgement Day (without Rhea) versus DIY and Awesome Truth 8-man tag team match was another banger, with more deserved “This is awesome!” chants. It was fast-paced, with everyone getting moves in, and taking each other out of the ring. The focus was Truth, who had a new decisive and aggressive attitude, clearing house a few times, before being left one-on-one with Priest, where the real emotional crux of this story lies.
  • Truth wasn’t backing down, even turned a South of Heaven Choke Slam from Damian into a roll-up and getting a two-count. Of course, Priest just hit the move again and won. It wasn’t exactly Roman Reigns beating Sami Zayn in Montreal, but it still was good storytelling.
R-Truth attacks Damian Priest on WWE RAW February 19 2024
  • Judgement Day stood tall, which may indicate that Bálor and Priest will lose the Undisputed WWE Tag Team Championships to Pete Dunne and Tyler Bate in Australia, but who knows.
  • Redmond is back with another great backstage interview with Sami Zayn. He’s giving up on Drew for the time being, and still trying to find his way into a championship match at WrestleMania. While I’m still hoping my fellow Montrealer wins the World Heavyweight Championship at the RAW a week after Mania in our hometown, at a show I have tickets for, but barring that, a Mania match against Gunther could be interesting. Logan Paul would be a bit of a stretch, but maybe something involving Kevin Owens gets his longtime friend Sami into the United States Championship picture for Manai.
  • Okay, the in-ring segment with all the Women’s Elimination Chamber participants cutting promos on each other was a little by-the-numbers. I wasn’t sure during Becky Lynch’s solo promo on Rhea and her challengers Saturday, but a soon as Liv Morgan showed up, it was clear the others would join soon enough.
  • Still, there were some fun parts, like Becky looking annoyed as each new person showed up go cut into her time. There was time for serious, too, like when Liv really drove home her reasons for wanting, or in her eyes, needing to win…a new determination for her character. And she even brought up how she was the last person to defeat Mami. Raquel made a valid point of what if Nia won instead at Chamber. Naomi was confident, and let everyone know she had a new focus as well. Tiffany Stratton reminded me, at least, that she was, in fact, the only heel in this match. And Bianca Belair reminded me that there is someone else in this match we can never rule out.
(l-r) Bianca Belair, Tiffany Stratton, Naomi, Liv Morgan, and Becky Lynch cut Elimination Chamber promos on WWE RAW February 19 2024
  • Of course, it came to blows, with Stratton attacking Morgan first, and the two of them will have a match on the pre-taped Smackdown this Friday (not sure if that’s a spoiler, but I don’t know who won). Then Nia Jax cleared the ring. No run-in from the Women’s World Champion, but Rhea could have done that interview from Australia for all we know. It was a good way to put some doubt on a Ripley victory, but also the first stages of some of the potential Mania feuds that will emerge in the Chamber.
  • I know we saw Chad Gable versus Ivar a few weeks ago, and the only official difference here was the lack of Valhalla at ringside to cause a distraction, but I still really enjoyed this match. How can you not be impressed with Gable giving a German Suplex to a man Ivar’s size. He even successfully sold whether or not he could pull the move off, despite us having seen him do it before. After the German, he hit a moonsault, and got only a two-count, so he turned it into the Ankle Lock, and Ivar tapped quickly. Some real nice work from Gable, and I suspect he may end up challenging Gunther at WrestleMania after all.
Chad Gable submits Ivar with the Ankle Lock on WWE RAW February 19 2024
  • Drew is so interesting in promos. I was wondering if he would try and justify his obvious hypocrisy of taking a victory with Bloodline help, and not only did he, he did so effortlessly. He was able to convince, at least himself, that it was for the greater good. This is some of the best, believable heel character development I’ve seen from anyone in wrestling in years.
  • So next week we’re going to have The New Day versus Imperium in a Street Fight. It’s about time they actually gave one of their encounters a stipulation like that. The last few times Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods fought Ludwig Kaiser and Giovanni Vinci, the matches took a backseat to the unofficial post-match street fights, anyways. I’m looking forward to this encounter.
  • The Main Event also had that Big Match feel. Gunther entered first, probably officially due to “champion’s prerogative”, though really because everyone knew the crowd would explode when challenger Jey Uso entered. Jey even pulled a Bret Hart by giving his sunglasses to a kid sitting by the entranceway. I loved it when Pat McAfee stopped doing Jey’s movement with the rest of the crowd when The Ring General stared at him.
Samantha Irvin introduces Challenger Jey Uso and Champion Gunther before the Intercontinental Championship Match on WWE RAW February 19 2024
  • The Intercontinental Championship may be the very prototype of a mid-card title, but not when Gunther defends it most of the time. Also, when someone finally takes it from him and ends this historic run, it will feel anything but mid.
  • After the ring introductions, we got another big match staredown, like in the show’s opening bout. When Gunther broke it up with a chop, we got their 2K24 Power Rankings. They’re both at 90.This was a fast-paced, hard-hitting, and exciting match. Gunther took the lead, Jey rallied, Gunther stopped that rally with a chop. There were plenty of chops, also quite a few false finishes. Uso kicked out after a dropkick and powerbomb, and broke a Boston Crab by reaching the ropes. Jey gave Gunther a backdrop outside of the ring, then threw him on the announce table, and almost capitalized. Jey hit five consecutive spears, including one outside of the ring.
Jey Uso flies into Gunther’s chop during the Intercontinental Championship Match on WWE RAW February 19 2024
  • This is the type of scenario where Gunther excels at giving the crowd hope that he might lose, before kicking out of the pin at 2 and 3/4, but that wasn’t needed. In one of the most unique bits of interference I have seen, we hear the bell ring before the 3, causing the referee to stop counting, and it’s Jimmy Uso ringing it! Jey dealt with Jimmy, but that gave enough time for Gunther to recover and get his knees up when Jey tried to hit another Uso splash. The Intercontinental Champion turned this into a rollup to retain.
  • This physical storytelling left us with the feeling that Jey probably should have won without his brother’s interference, but at the same time knowing that Gunther didn’t cheat to win, or that he even consciously took advantage of the cheating. So neither of them loses credibility. Really masterful. The only thing I would have done different is not establish that Jimmy was in the building in the first place. Maybe just have Solo and, say, Heyman, come out in the Cody/Drew match. But there’s a counter-argument, too: If people are expecting Jimmy in that match, having him show up somewhere else could give the impression he was done for the night. Regardless, it’s a minor point, and overall very well-executed.
  • So we ended up with Jimmy beating down Jey after the match, and setting up brother versus brother for WrestleMania. You just know that will be an excellent match, with a lifetime’s worth of build already.
Jimmy Uso after attacking his brother Jey Uso on WWE RAW February 19 2024
  • Cody came to save the day after RAW went off the air, and even brought in CM Punk to say hi to the crowd. It made sense to end the broadcast with the Jimmy and Jey angle.

Much more than a go-home show, this RAW was a show firing on all cylinders, with some truly top-notch matches, connected to, but not eclipsed by, larger angles. This show felt big.

Share and Enjoy !


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>