WWE Raw Recap: February 18, 2019
S27 episode 8 Aired on February 18, 2019

On a night when four standout NXT Superstars emerged on the WWE roster, Ronda Rousey defended the Raw Women’s Championship against Ruby Riott in a WWE Elimination Chamber rematch as the rest of The Riott Squad lurked at ringside. How did The Baddest Woman on the Planet fare, one night after she was brutalized by a crutch-wielding Becky Lynch?

Finn Bálor’s Intercontinental Title victory was a welcome return to championship status for the dynamic Irishman, who’s labored for almost three years to claim a title since winning and vacating the Universal Championship in the span of a day. His current reign, though only one day old, is certainly looking to be an eventful one: He’s already got a rival and a friend to his name, as well as a victory.

The rival is Bobby Lashley, the musclebound former champion who lost his title under Handicap Rules when Bálor pinned his second, Lio Rush. The friend is Ricochet, the NXT high-flyer who defies description — he’s literally called The One and Only, which should give you an idea — and came to Bálor’s rescue during a sneak attack from Lashley and Rush. The victory came in the following impromptu tag match, which showcased the skills and athleticism of everyone involved; with three speedsters and one powerhouse sharing the ring, it was, to borrow Rush’s phrase from last night, plenty of sizzle with a big side of steak.

Rush and Ricochet provided a lot of the former, while Lashley seemed set on painfully reducing Bálor to a flash in the pan. Rush made the mistake of provoking Bálor instead of closing out, however, allowing the Irishman to rally and tag in his partner, who took the fight to Rush and — once Bálor had dispatched Lashley at ringside — put the match away with his astounding 630 maneuver.

The state of the tag team division has been something of a sticking point for The Revival over the last few weeks — too many fluke losses and Lucha House Rules for their taste — so their first night as Raw Tag Team Champions was right up their alley: A rematch of a 2016 contest against NXT Champion Tommaso Ciampa & NXT North American Champion Johnny Gargano that was named the match of the year. To be sure, the arrival of the onetime #DIY was a godsend for tag-team aficionados; the two teams put on an impromptu classic that seemed to foreshadow a new, ultracompetitive era for Raw’s tandem division (former champs Bobby Roode & Chad Gable were pointedly wondering why they weren't involved in the action) and gave The Revival the kind of competition they crave. The result, however, left something to be desired for the self-proclaimed “Top Guys.”

Ciampa & Gargano did, indeed, give them a hell of a fight — more, perhaps, than they were ready for, as Dash & Dawson found themselves quickly put on their heels by Gargano’s speed and The Blackheart’s cruel ingenuity. Any strategy the champions had quickly went out the window, and the match quickly careened into a sequence of rapid-fire pin attempts. Dawson found himself on the wrong end of a slingshot spear from Gargano, which set up a fateful tag from Ciampa and the duo’s rattling finisher of a running knee and superkick to either side of the head that they call Meeting in the Middle.

The good news for the champs is that they could try to write it off as a fluke, as Ciampa and Gargano have unfinished business at Full Sail with various challengers and, perhaps, each other. This may be a one-off reunion, and it might be better for The Revival’s reign if it was. Because for one night at least, they got exactly what they wanted, and they weren’t ready for it.

Ruby Riott, long considered a contender-in-waiting, was more or less routed by Ronda Rousey at WWE Elimination Chamber, and even though she fell short of The Rowdy One’s title once again on Raw, Riott turned in a gritty performance and at least made it a fight.

She may owe a little bit to Becky Lynch. The Man’s attack the night before left Rousey as bruised as it did irritated, and Ruby capitalized accordingly. (Related note: Lynch will be arrested and charged with criminal trespassing, disorderly conduct, and menacing if she violates her suspension again, though Triple H admitted he thought it was cool). The rest of The Riott Squad also paid dividends, handing Rousey a 3-on-1 disadvantage where needed, but Ruby couldn’t close out. Rousey kicked out of not one but two Riott Kicks, took out the Squad with a crossbody to the outside, and sealed the deal with an Alabama Slam into the turnbuckles and the piece de resistance, the Armbar, for a near-instant submission.

The Baddest Woman on the Planet wasn’t quite done there, either; she quickly dispatched the rest of The Riott Squad when they rushed the ring to send her challenger and her cronies scurrying in a display of dominance that surely caught the eye of Charlotte Flair, to say nothing of you-know-who as well.

In other action … Triple H announced the arrival of Tommaso Ciampa, Johnny Gargano, Ricochet and Aleister Black … Intercontinental Champion Finn Bálor & Ricochet def. Bobby Lashley & Lio Rush … The Lucha House Party def. Zack Ryder & Curt Hawkins … Nia Jax & Tamina confronted WWE Women's Tag Team Champions The Boss 'N' Hug Connection … Drew McIntyre def. Dean Ambrose … and Aleister Black def. Elias.

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