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    Credit: WWE.com

    It’s time to fight. The February 17 edition of WWE Raw gave plenty of wrestlers the opportunity to let loose and brawl on a show highlighted by some first-time matchups and personal showdowns.

    Matt Hardy got his first major match in months, as he was set to fight Randy Orton in a No Holds Barred match. After The Viper laid him out one week prior, The Woken One was ready to get his revenge.

    Bobby Lashley teamed up with Angel Garza to combat their two longtime rivals Rusev and Humberto Carrillo. The Bulgarian Brute has fallen short too many times against The All Mighty, and he needed this win more than anything.

    Two men on major hot streaks clashed to see whose winning streak would survive. Aleister Black challenged Erick Rowan for the very first time.

    Fallout continued as Shayna Baszler and Becky Lynch were expected to be in the same building at the time following The Queen of Spades’ heinous attack. Seth Rollins also held a special sermon on the back of his latest victory over Kevin Owens and his friends.

    The night was set to be odd and exhausting and hard-hitting from start to finish. The talent just needed time to deliver.

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    After a video package recapped Randy Orton’s attack on Matt Hardy, The Viper came out and told everyone his No Holds Barred match against Hardy was not happening. Matt in a neck brace stated he would fight despite the WWE doctors not clearing him.

    Orton apologized for his actions and walked away. However, he stopped himself, turned around and assaulted Matt with a steel chair. He almost stopped himself from another con-chair-to, only to decide he wanted to hit it on the steel steps twice.

    Grade

    B+

    Analysis

    This was the best thing Matt has done in months. He cut a strong promo on Orton again and made that attack by Orton look brutal. It was a memorable send-off for one of the wrestlers who helped define a new style of wrestling.

    This segment could have been 10 minutes with the same impact, but it still left a lasting impression all the same. Continually to this point, this story for The Viper has delivered.

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    Credit: WWE.com

    This match started fast, and it never truly slowed down. Erick Rowan came out swinging against Aleister Black, which got him off his feet early. However, The Ominous Man From Amsterdam refused to stay down.

    Black escaped the Iron Claw and hit a pair of Black Masses for the hard-fought victory.

    Result

    Black def. Rowan by pinfall.

    Grade

    A-

    Analysis

    The Ominous Man From Amsterdam is a master of the TV-match style. Even in split-screen, he was pushing Big Red to show off only what he does best. It was nonstop action between two men hoping to make an impact.

    The win had to go to Black, but this might have been the best showcase of Rowan’s ability as a solo act to date. He did not slow the match to a crawl. He just kept hitting back until he was one big move short from a surprise win.

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    Charlotte Flair came out to talk about her attack on Rhea Ripley after a recap, explaining why she chose to go after the NXT champion at WrestleMania 36. She talked about the hardships she went through in NXT and wanting to put over the brand in her own way.

    Grade

    D+

    Analysis

    The Queen has never been a great mic worker, but mostly useless promos like this certainly show that more clearly. Charlotte added nothing to the feud between her and Ripley. She honestly had no reason to even be on the show this week.

    She could have just waited until NXT and said this to The Nightmare’s face. As good as Charlotte vs. Ripley will be, the build to get there may not advance too far past this point in the next few months.

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    Mojo Rawley came out swinging in this match and seemed like easily the most motivated person in the triple threat. However, he could not handle the madness of the triple threat setting.

    After he slammed R-Truth to the mat, Riddick Moss slipped in and rolled him up again to retain the 24/7 Championship. Rawley looked poised to attack Truth for costing him his title, but the veteran took him down with a scissors kick.

    Result

    Moss def. Rawley and Truth by pinfall to retain the 24/7 Championship.

    Grade

    C

    Analysis

    It was nice to have the 24/7 Championship defended in a ring for once, meaning that no one went down to a single pinfall attempt. Everyone made this brief contest fun, but it was certainly not much of a match.

    Moss has benefitted from his sudden spotlight though it would have been better if Rawley had more time to stand tall as champion before it all went wrong.

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    Drew McIntyre once again promised to defeat Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania. Paul Heyman interrupted to make sure The Scottish Psychopath was worried about The Beast Incarnate.

    Montel Vontavius Porter ran down McIntyre for attacking him yesterday. MVP was completely outmatched by the No. 1 contender, who hit a Future Shock DDT into the Claymore for the win.

    Result

    McIntyre def. MVP by pinfall.

    Grade

    C

    Analysis

    This was a fine segment though was just another moment where McIntyre was put over as far more than his competition. MVP is certainly not the right guy to truly challenge The Scottish Psychopath, but the No. 1 contender should not just be squashing everyone until Lesnar.

    It would be nice to see McIntyre challenged a bit before WrestleMania. He may lose fan support if it feels like he is invincible all the way to fighting The Beast.

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    Becky Lynch came out with a bag of money and threw dollars on the mat as a preemptive payment for the fines she would be given for the pain she caused Shayna Baszler.

    The Queen of Spades appeared on the titantron to tell The Man she was going to Elimination Chamber and earning a shot at the Raw Women’s Championship. Lynch said she was rooting for Baszler.

    Grade

    B

    Analysis

    This was a short and effective promo to keep this feud going. Lynch’s down payment on violence was exactly the right moment to add the eventual video package at WrestleMania 36.

    Even if it seems obvious The Queen of Spades will win inside Elimination Chamber, it should not take away from the performance. The match will be a great way to show everyone that The Queen of Spades is the only true threat to The Man on Raw.

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    Humberto Carrillo took a beating early in this tag team match as Bobby Lashley and Angel Garza isolated him. His heart was shown in every moment as he fought back to get the hot tag to Rusev.

    The Bulgarian Brute fought valiantly, but he was too distracted by attacking The All Mighty. He hit a Machka Kick on Lashley only to be rolled up by The Most Beautiful Man in the World for three.

    Garza attempted to celebrate after the bell, but Rusev knocked him out of the ring in frustration.

    Result

    Garza and Lashley def. Carrillo and Rusev by pinfall.

    Grade

    A-

    Analysis

    This was a fantastic TV tag team match that especially showed how good Carrillo and Garza can be together. It was a great lucha libre showcase where Lashley came in at the right moments to slow the action down action.

    As always, Rusev is great but losing every time he competes. He needs a hard reset. It may only come once his contract disputes are settled. He will just have to keep performing and making the most of losses.

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Natalya was looking for revenge for a black eye she received at the hands of Asuka, but she was not ready for the combined efforts of The Kabuki Warriors.

    Kairi Sane had The Queen of Harts on the ropes, but just as Natalya turned it around, Asuka knocked her out of the ring, causing a count out win for The Pirate Princess.

    Result

    Sane def. Natalya by count out.

    Grade

    C

    Analysis

    Natalya vs. Sane was not up to the level of Natalya vs. Asuka, but it was a fine match that showed some of the potential of The Pirate Princess, which has been lost in recent months.

    Ultimately though, interference and lack of time left so much promise on the table. It should be fun to see how WWE continues to build toward Elimination Chamber with all the women involved.

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    As a part of his first sermon to the masses, Seth Rollins told everyone that the next phase of his plan would not be easy. He would reach out to the weak and help them. He would also make sure anyone who was non-complaint suffered.

    The Viking Raiders came out and attacked AOP. Rollins and Murphy attempted to retreat up the ramp, but Kevin Owens caught The Messiah with a stunner.

    Grade

    B-

    Analysis

    This was a fascinating promo by Rollins, who has now fully committed to his role as The Messiah. He played the preacher giving a sermon to the WWE Universe. It is the most direct gimmick Rollins has played in a long time.

    This rivalry between The Messiah and KO has raged on to many fascinating moments, but it is impressive how it still remains so relevant and surprising week to week. The storytelling has been far more solid than expected for a long-term WWE rivalry.

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    Credit: WWE.com

    The OC celebrated the return of AJ Styles from injury as The Phenomenal One told everyone he was Mr. WrestleMania and needed to be on that card. He did not care who he fought even legends like The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels. He promised after ‘Mania he would fight the WWE champion.

    Ricochet arrived to make clear he would be the champion after WWE Super ShowDown 2020. The One and Only wanted to fight Styles, but Karl Anderson challenged him instead. Ricochet won with the Recoil.

    Result

    Ricochet def. Anderson by pinfall.

    Grade

    C

    Analysis

    While it was nice to see Anderson actually compete in a singles match, not much came of the contest. Ricochet won, but he still feels like barely a threat to Lesnar. Paul Heyman is clearly more focused on Drew McIntyre.

    It was nice to see that The Phenomenal One is back and healthy after a worrying injury. He absolutely should be a major performer at WrestleMania no matter how the card shapes up.

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Erik got isolated early in this match, which only left Kevin Owens ready for his moment to shine. He ran over Murphy with the fire of a man who was truly sick of dealing with everyone involved.

    Ivar got the true hot tag and pushed the action forward. Everyone was flying, but KO was especially ready to win. He hit a stunner on The Best Kept Secret, only for Seth Rollins to run down to attack Owens and cause the disqualification.

    As The Disciples threatened to take out KO for good, The Street Profits joined the resistance and gave KO the advantage he needed. Montez Ford and Ivar hit diving splashes side by side on AOP while The Messiah ran up the ramp.

    Result

    KO and Raiders def. Murphy and AOP by disqualification.

    Grade

    C+

    Analysis

    On a show filled with matches and segment promised before the night, it was odd to end once again with a Seth Rollins-influenced tag team match. The contest was good. As always, The Best Kept Secret was the strongest performer in a stacked contest. It just was not an exciting main event.

    Even The Street Profits joining KO did not have much effect since so many had already been helping Owens. Adding more bodies to this feud does not really help anyone. It just means this story will dominate more screen time on Raw.

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