WWE Raw Recap: February 26, 2018
S2018 episode 1292 Aired on February 26, 2018

Stephanie McMahon invited Ronda Rousey to Raw to clear the air after Rousey put her husband Triple H through a table. However, after the Raw Commissioner apologized for slapping Rousey in the wake of the incident, The Cerebral Assassin inflicted some pain of his own, this time at the expense of Raw General Manager Kurt Angle.

Unfortunately, it’s not The Undertaker. Left adrift after coming up short in the Men’s Elimination Chamber (an unmitigated “failure,” in his words), John Cena faces an uncertain Road to WrestleMania, though he made it clear to the Monday Night Raw audience that his initial contingency plan — an "impossible" match with The Phenom — won't be happening, much to his and the audience's very vocal disappointment.

But while Cena's path to The Show of Shows will not run through Death Valley, it will take a turn through The Land of Opportunity. Despite failing to secure a dance with The Deadman, Cena refused to stay self-pitying for long, and he rallied by announcing that he would use his free agent status to pursue a Road to WrestleMania through the only avenue he has left: SmackDown LIVE.

Having just fallen short against Seth Rollins, The Miz was clearly in no mood to face Finn Bálor in an immediate follow-up, WrestleMania implications or not. But his plan of having The Miztourage simply jump The Extraordinary Man backfired in four major ways, one after the other: For one, the match was immediately restarted by Raw General Manager Kurt Angle. Two, The Miztourage was ejected from ringside — along with Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson, who had tried to even the odds. Three, if there was no clear winner, The Miz wouldn’t be going to WrestleMania at all.

Oh, and four: He lost. Even though Bálor basically out on his feet, he had the wherewithal to counter Miz’s early attempts to pick the bones and the heart to rally. Miz, of course, is too gifted a competitor to roll over, but he faded down the stretch (over a half-hour in the ring will do that to you) and he succumbed to Bálor's chest-caving Coup de Grâce.

Watching backstage, Rollins was less than impressed with Bálor piling on his win, but he had an idea of how he would rebound from his own Elimination Chamber loss and get to WrestleMania: A formal challenge to The Miz for the Intercontinental Title. In the words of Angle, he “might” have a case. But then again, so might Finn.

Ronda Rousey sending Triple H through a table on her first official night in WWE made for some great copy in the press, but Stephanie McMahon's reataliatory slap in the face left a lot of air to be cleared between the COO, the Raw Commissioner and The Baddest Woman on the Planet. Their planned confab on Raw did seem to smooth over all the tension at first, until a shocking turn of events ratcheted it back up.

To be fair, there were apologies thrown around. Sensing his job was in jeopardy, Raw General Manager Kurt Angle went first, claiming he had fabricated the behind-the-back insults Triple H and Stephanie had allegedly thrown around when they recruited Rousey — insults that had provoked Rousey’s attack on The King of Kings the previous night. Under the threat of having her arm ripped out by the former UFC Women's Bantamweight Champion, Stephanie went next and profusely apologized for slapping Ronda, who did not appreciate the idea that signing a contract meant she was now "owned" by WWE.

That was, however, far from the final surprise of the confrontation. On the way out of the ring, Triple H shocked everybody by hauling off and sucker-punching Angle in the face, leaving Rousey to tend to The Olympic Hero as the power couple made their exit. So, the lingering animosity from last night has been settled. But now there’s another slight to be addressed.

In other action … Asuka, Sasha Banks & Bayley def. Raw Women’s Champion Alexa Bliss, Nia Jax & Mickie James … Bray Wyatt challenged "Woken" Matt Hardy … Seth Rollins def. Intercontinental Champion The Miz … Roman Reigns addressed Universal Champion Brock Lesnar … Raw Tag Team Champions Cesaro & Sheamus def. Titus Worldwide (2-out-of-3-Falls Match) …and Braun Strowman def. Elias via Disqualification.