Shane McMahon and Adam Pearce Announced the Participants in the WWE Championship Elimination Chamber Match
Pearce has been the head official for WWE from a storyline standpoint for many months, so I'm not sure why Shane's presence in this segment was necessary. Don't get me wrong, limiting him to just this was smart, but it was such a random return. I'm glad the WWE Championship will be defended inside the Elimination Chamber this year and that we won't be getting Drew McIntyre vs. Sheamus just yet, but they should have saved Sheamus' big turn for the pay-per-view. Also, I understand Shane said only WWE Champions would participate, but Jeff Hardy and The Miz don't deserve to be in there with how they've been booked lately.
AJ Styles def. Jeff Hardy
Although they're both closer to the end of their respective careers than they are the beginning, you can always count on a quality contest from Styles and Hardy. They were given more time than I was expecting and I was happy to see Hardy face someone other than Elias for a change. In all seriousness, I enjoyed this. Styles hasn't been pinned since coming to Raw in October, which has to mean he's being built up for something significant. Meanwhile, Hardy can't win a singles match to save his life, it seems.
The New Day (Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods) def. RETRIBUTION (T-Bar and Slapjack)
The best thing I can say about this is that Kingston is back in action after missing some time due to a jaw injury. This was fine for what it was, but it's hard to care about seeing a different variation of New Day vs. RETRIBUTION each week. The only thing carrying the feud at this point is the fact that Mustafa Ali blames Kingston for stealing his WrestleMania spotlight two years ago. I'm looking forward to Kingston vs. Ali eventually, but these matches in the meantime mean nothing.
Lacey Evans def. Charlotte Flair by Disqualification
These two weren't originally scheduled to have a match. They were advertised to have a face-to-face encounter before agreeing to go one-on-one right then and there. The storyline has done nothing for me and the matchup hardly changed my mind. There wasn't anything wrong with it, but to waste that much time only to end it with a disqualification was lame. What is this supposed to be leading to? And don't tell me Charlotte vs. Ric.
The Miz Interrupted Edge
I've never understood why Miz has continued to cut promos reminding people that he can cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase at any time. It just reinforces that he won't be cashing him in the near future. Edge was completely correct when he said Miz was a moron for reminding him that his contract is still in play when he could have just surprised him/the champion of his choosing instead. Edge destroying Miz on the mic was terrific, but the booking of Miz remains a mystery to me. He hasn't meant this little in ages.
Damian Priest def. Angel Garza
It was about damn time Garza resurfaced on Raw. Unfortunately, he was given the enhancement treatment here. Don't get me wrong, he shouldn't be beating newcomer Damian Priest, but it's amazing how far he's fallen from where he was a year ago. On the bright side, this was a nice little match and another good win for Priest. Bad Bunny was once again at ringside, so Priest and Bunny vs. Miz and John Morrison is clearly coming. I just don't know how they can hold off on it until WrestleMania in two months.
Keith Lee def. Riddle
It's great to have Lee back after a brief hiatus. He and Riddle have a lot of history together both in WWE and outside of WWE, so it was cool to see them face off here. They had a fun match and I was pleasantly surprised that it had a clean finish. Bobby Lashley laid out both men afterward to set the stage for their United States Championship Triple Threat at Elimination Chamber. I'm really looking forward to that because any one of them can realistically win. My guess is that it leads to Lee vs. Lashley at WrestleMania.
Lana def. WWE Women's Tag Team Champion Nia Jax in a Tables Match
The Lana vs. Jax rivalry has been brewing for a long time and they had their long awaited Tables match here. I can't say I've cared about it or thought this was good, but at least they finally got to the payoff with Lana putting Jax through a table (though Jax screaming "My hole!" is all people will be talking about coming out of this). Shayna Baszler attacking Lana and Naomi afterward was a fine segue into Baszler vs. Naomi happening right after the commercial break.
Naomi def. WWE Women's Tag Team Champion Shayna Baszler
As previously noted, I wasn't excited for Lana vs. Jax by any means, but at least that match made more sense and had more to it than this, which was really just two members of two feuding teams facing each other. I've mentioned before how underutilized Baszler feels and how creatively damaged she is at this point, but Naomi deserves better, too. Seeing them feud over pointless tag titles does nothing for me. Both of these women should be winning, so it didn't matter who won. Plus, I don't know how much Naomi gained by beating Baszler with a roll-up.
WWE Champion Drew McIntyre vs. Randy Orton Ended in a No Contest (Non-Title)
WWE originally announced this match for the January 11th episode of Raw before McIntyre came out and said he tested positive for COVID-19. I was honestly relieved it was canceled at the time, yet we got it again here, anyway. Don't get me wrong, they work well together and the video package recapping their rivalry from last year was well done, but there wasn't anything out of the ordinary about this. Rather, it merely existed so Sheamus could interfere and accidentally attack Orton. Any heat he had by betraying McIntyre last week was quickly squandered when he ate a Claymore from McIntyre. Shouldn't WWE have waited a little longer to have McIntyre get his hands (or feet) on Sheamus, or at least Elimination Chamber?
Raw is far from a thrilling three-hour show, but I will say that it's been a bit more bearable in the last two weeks following the Royal Rumble pay-per-view. Elimination Chamber is coming up way too soon (they should have waited until February 28th), but to the company's credit, they're putting together a solid card on such short notice. WWE did a better job than usual of filling the time, even though there are still a few storylines that either don't interest me or aren't clicking yet. Let's hope Raw can continue to improve as WrestleMania season progresses.