WWE Raw preview (Feb. 11, 2019): Transition period

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The red brand’s last stop before Elimination Chamber is in Grand Rapids.

The Headliner(s)

It’s taken almost a year, but I think WWE may have finally figured out to do with Bobby Lashley.

That’s partly because he stumbled into an Intercontinental championship reign thanks to Dean Ambrose’s feud with Seth Rollins failing to catch fire, and Ambrose’s decision to leave the company. But even before that, they were gradually stumbling across parts of the formula. Abandoning using him as a babyface and giving him a hype man in Lio Rush were the two biggest pieces.

It’s giving a cruiserweight-free Raw an excuse to showcase the undersized but supremely talented Rush that might be the most important thing Lashley does in his second run (heck, if history is any guide, Lio might end up President some day). At first it was just a way to keep the impressive looking former amateur wrestler off the microphone, but the Man of the Hour has slowly been introduced as an in-ring performer as well, leading up his getting a full match against Finn Bálor to show off in last week.

This program with Bálor, which WWE’s official preview for this week’s Raw is hinting will soon give us a title match between the All Mighty & the Extraordinary Man, is also a smart use of Lashley. It allows Finn to immediately get back into a program after his quick trip up the card for a one-off shot at a different belt at Royal Rumble. It also should end with the white-and-gold strap around his ridiculously defined midsection. A Bálor run with the workhorse title is such a great idea, it’s remarkable it hasn’t happened yet.

After that happens, Lashley & Rush can be a fun addition to what’s supposed to be a re-emphasized tag scene. That should give the powers-that-be ample time to decide if they feel comfortable presenting the 24 year old as a singles star. Maybe just in time for his former tag partner from the Maryland/D.C. indie scene to get the call from NXT. Velveteen Dream and Lio Rush would probably get some “fight forever” chants.

Where was I? Oh yeah, a Finn Bálor IC title run and a Lio Rush push would be good outcomes from Bobby Lashley’s second stint in WWE.

The title scene

The man Finn faced in Phoenix, Universal champ Brock Lesnar, won’t be here. Unlike last week, his WrestleMania 35 opponent is supposed to be. Rumble winner Seth Rollins is kayfabe recovering from the effects of the F5’s Brock gave him two weeks and allegedly shoot dealing with some bad back issues, but he’s supposed to grab a mic and say some things to/about the Beast tonight.

Her own ‘Mania opponent is suspended and injured (both storyline), but will somehow be on the show tonight to meet with the ruling McMahon family. You can probably expect Women’s titleholder Ronda Rousey to run into or at least say something about Becky Lynch this week, but after beating Sarah Logan & Liv Morgan last week and having Ruby Riott installed as her challenger for this weekend, Rowdy’s attention should probably be focused on the Riott Squad.

Morgan & Logan will want to have Ruby’s back, but they’ve got their eyes on a different prize. They’re one of three Raw duos who earned their way into the Chamber match for the new Women’s Tag belts, and will probably be jockeying for position with Sasha Banks & Bayley, and Nia Jax & Tamina. We’ll also be paying attention to see how The Boss is recovering from the injuries which kept her from tagging into her match with the Hugster last Monday.

It doesn’t matter how many teams you put them up against, if everybody follows the rules, there’s no one better than the Top Guys. The Revival will get a chance to prove it again sometime soon now that they’re the #1 contenders for Chad Gable & Bobby Roode Men’s Tag championship.

Other stuff to keep an eye on

– It looked like Kurt Angle might call it a career last Monday, but big meanies Drew Galloway & Baron Corbin decided to dis our Olympic Hero. Braun Strowman doesn’t stand for bullies (when he’s not playing heel opposite Roman Reigns) and can win tag matches with literal children. So it’s no surprise the Monster Among Men & Angle stood tall to end last week’s show. It was a little surprising they lost because the referee enforced the rules. Where is all this going? We have no idea!

– In a scene right out of a sitcom, Natalya’s AirPods kept her from hearing Dana Brooke’s apology, so now they’ll fight.

– He may not be a babyface any more, but we’d still walk with Elias. Both because he’s for some reason feuding with Road Dogg & Jeff Jarrett, and also because he toughed out a stiff shot from a non-gimmicked guitar.

– A feud with EC3 sounds like a good way for Dean to mosey off into the sunset. Hopefully, future matches won’t require Alexa Bliss’ bad talk show to set them up.

– We kind of already covered this, but it bears repeating… The Man is totally gonna punch or slap either Vince or Shane.

– Mojo Rawley is mad at teams.

It’s the Elimination Chamber ‘go home’ show!

What will you be looking for on Raw tonight?

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