Written by M.J. Rawls
Instead of waiting a month in respect to after Wrestlemania 32, the “superstar shakeup,” the new, stylized version of the WWE draft was moved up to the week after Mania. This is pretty smart as you want to keep the excitement from Wrestlemania weekend afloat.
Before the show even happened, it was announced that Apollo Crews was coming to the Raw Brand. For a wrestler that has a lot of potential, but maybe came up from NXT a little too fast, it probably would have been better to try to showcase him in a match. Nevertheless, I hope that Raw makes better use of him.
The show started off with The Miz and Maryse in their rather hilarious John Cena/Nicki Bella attire announcing that they are coming to Raw. This was followed by Dean Ambrose. Dean pretends that John Cena and Nicki Bella are in the ring. Once he realizes it’s The Miz, he hits him with Dirty Deeds.
We head backstage where Sami Zayn is talking to Kurt and pleads his case to stay on Raw. Kurt lets him know that Smackdown is drawing a lot of interest. (Let Sami go). The Miz and Maryse interrupts and a match between the two is set.
Afterwards, we get a New Day segment and find out that Kofi cannot be there due to injury. The Revival comes out for a match. This was a decent match as The Revival are old school, technical heels. However, there was a spot where Xavier tries to do a coast-to-coast elbow and comes up short. The Revival hits a hell of a Shatter Machine to get the W. Looking at this as The New Day’s swan song on Raw.
TJ Perkins and Neville are backstage. Neville is basically helping along the heel turn of video game man, TJ Perkins. Austin Aires enters and tries to talk TJ down as Neville is manipulating him. Oh wait, Curt Hawkins is on Raw now in a filter segment. The Big Show comes down and punches Curt out. “shrugs”
TJ Perkins vs. Austin Aires have a match with Neville on commentary. The crowd did not seem into this too much. It was your typical cruiserweight match until Neville approached the ring and TJ got the roll up for the pin. TJ then beats up Austin after the match to complete the heel turn. I tell you what, they will have to get new music for him. It will be awkward with that Bomberman-type music.
Seth Rollins came out for a promo. Thanked the fans for sticking by him and was celebrating his win over Triple H at Wrestlemania. They also showed a replay of Stephanie going through the table. Because of this, Seth stated that Stephanie will have it out of him upon her recovery and it may be better for him to go to Smackdown. Kurt Angle comes down and says that he wants him on Raw. Samoa Joe comes from behind and jumps Seth Rollins. Seth gets the upper hand and we have another match for Payback.
Charlotte v. Nia Jax: Look at this as Charlotte’s last match on Raw as she most likely is headed to Smackdown. There were a couple sloppy spots. When Nia went for the shoulder breaker, it looked like she dropped Charlotte on her head. Charlotte went for her moonsault on the outside and kneed Nia in the head. Otherwise, it was a match designed to make Nia looked dominant as she got the W.
Finn Balor v. Jinder Mahal: I feel that they want to protect Finn until after the super star shakeup, but creative has to find something better than Jinder Mahal. It was a quick match. Jinder hit Finn with an elbow that looked like it made him loopy. Finn gets the win. From there, we got a Bray Wyatt promo announcing that he was coming to Raw. There was a tease that he was keeping an eye on Finn, setting up a future feud, but Bray also stated that he was still facing Randy in a house-of-horrors match at the Smackdown pay-per-view. Huh? Bray would be on Raw for at least a month before that happens.
A couple of more trades were announced: Kalisto and Heath Slater/Rhyno are both headed to Raw. Kalisto would be great for 205 Live and the Raw tag team division needs some fresh faces, so these were two good trades.
Sami Zayn v. The Miz: this was probably the best match on the show. Both men got their spots, was able to wrestle their styles, and Sami got the win with a roll up.
Now, for the craziest segment of the night – Roman Reigns sits down for an interview. Talks about his match with The Undertaker at Wrestlemania and reiterates that it’s his yard. Out comes Braun Strowman who destroys him. They do the ambulance spot where Braun beats up Roman and then rolls it off the loading dock. You would think that it was over here, but alas, Braun then lifts the ambulance up and rolls it over to it’s side with Roman presumably still in it. The crowd loved it. It was overkill, but it was still great. I have no idea what this does for Roman in the short term, but Braun is over.
The Hardys/Cesaro & Sheamus vs. The Shining Stars/The Club: I’m not sure why The Shining Stars were in the match other than to take the pin. All the teams got some offense,but it then turned into the Hardy show. The Hardys got the win and shook the hands of Cesaro & Sheamus who they will face at the pay-per-view in three weeks.
A brief segment happened in the locker room between Dana Brooke and Emma. They used to be friends on NXT, but as Dana does not want to be anyone’s sidekick anymore, this was to set up a future feud between the two ladies. Perhaps, moving over to Smackdown.
From there, Sasha Banks came out to the ring followed by Bayley. Bayley continued the shtick of having Wrestlemania be her dream fulfilled. Sasha cut her off and informed her that the dream was over. FINALLY, I thought that the heel turn was coming and then Alexa Bliss’ music hits. Alexa came down to make her statement and then Mickie James’ music hits. As she’s talking on the mic, Nia Jax comes out of nowhere and blasts her. Everybody is sent scattering and Nia lays out Bayley to let everyone know that the title is hers. What?
Dean Ambrose vs. Kevin Owens in a champion vs. champion match: This was an average match, especially considering that it was the main event. Dean has to get better in the ring. Dean gets the win and Chris Jericho comes down to hit the code breaker. Looks like they will have their match at Payback, but the U.S. and Intercontinental titles cannot be on the same show. My guess is that they both go to Smackdown.
It’s good that they had two good Raws back to back to build up some momentum. With new moving parts, they have to find something for Finn to do and make the show meaningful now that Brock is taking time off with the main championship.