By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Brock Lesnar Called Out WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins
You had to know Lesnar and Paul Heyman were going to be treated like babyfaces by this post-WrestleMania crowd, so they took the right approach with Heyman's promo. The crowd ate up everything he was saying and was the perfect follow-up to the events that transpired at the end of WrestleMania. The tease for Lesnar wrestling his first Raw match in over a decade was a major hook for the rest of the show and came across as very special. The person who lost the title kicking off the show instead of the new champion was a refreshing change of pace (plus, anything beats an Authority promo).
Intercontinental Champion Daniel Bryan def. Dolph Ziggler; Sheamus Returned
WWE was wise to put two huge fan favorites against each other in front of the smarky crowd as they were very receptive to the awesome action. Also, it's not like Ziggler didn't earn his shot since he technically already beat Bryan twice in the weeks before WrestleMania so it made sense. As expected, they worked a great match and it was cool to see the Intercontinental title spotlighted for once, but whether it will continue is the real question. The Sheamus return and subsequent heel turn was logically/perfectly booked. His new look is freaky, but very fitting of a heel and it's nice to see him reinventing himself. They need more legitimate heels right now and Sheamus fits that role to a tee. This was also the best possible crowd to turn in front of as well.
The Lucha Dragons and The New Day def. WWE Tag Team Champions Cesaro & Tyson Kidd and The Ascension
I was wondering why The Lucha Dragons didn't debut on Raw sooner since they've been working WWE Main Event and Superstars for some time now, but the timing couldn't have been better. The live crowd absolutely adored them and they made a great first impression, speficially Kalisto. The NXT crowd has gotten bored with them recently, but only because it was time for them to move on, and even though we've seen Kalisto's signature spots in the past, it was a treat to see them on Raw for the first time. A feud between them and Cesaro and Kidd over the tag titles would be nothing short of awesome. On a side note, the "New Day sucks" chants were hysterical.
WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins vs. Brock Lesnar Went to a No Contest
It was obvious where this was headed in terms of the match not happening, but they succeeded in giving it a "big fight feel" despite it never coming to fruition. Rollins will flourish in the wormy heel champion role and Lesnar is always at his best when he's on a total tear like he was here. The flipping of the furniture was cool and all, but what really made this segment stellar was his annihilation of the commentary team and the camera guy. It's something so fitting of his character that we never see on Raw, making it feel special as a result. What I love about Lesnar is that he's so beloved right now that even though he's somewhat of a babyface, he can get away with stuff like that because he's still technically heel. Of course, Lesnar's "suspension" was done to write him off TV until presumably SummerSlam.
Damien Mizdow def. Stardust
It's interesting to note that Mizdow is basically the same character he was when he was with The Miz, now he's using a shortened version of his theme and has his own entrance video. He was crazy over with this crowd, and while I think it would be cool for the time being, he should go back to being Damien Sandow eventually. The match with Stardust was a basic win for him to set up Miz's attack on Mizdow afterward. I loved how they program climaxed at WrestleMania and now we can finally see them feud going into Extreme Rules.
Neville def. Curtis Axel
Finally! Neville has been long overdue for a main roster call-up (along with Sami Zayn, who I hope will be up before long) and like with The Lucha Dragons, this was the best place to pull the trigger. The crowd popped big for his introduction and it was nice to see Axel featured on the show and still receiving some mic time. This was a typical enhancement match for Neville, but seeing his Red Arrow finishing maneuver never gets old. It's also encouraging that aside from his name being shortened and him wearing a purple cape when he came out, he isn't using the "Mighty Mouse" gimmick that was being rumored for a while. I look forward to what else Neville brings to the table in the weeks to come.
United States Champion John Cena def. Dean Ambrose
I was fully expecting some sort of surprise as Cena's opponent, but Ambrose was a welcome consolation prize. Because we haven't seem them work much against each other before, it felt fresh and they had a great match. Honestly, it seemed like it belonged at WrestleMania over Cena's rematch with Rusev; it was that good. I would like to see these two work together more down the line, and this match also added some importance back to the belt much like the Intercontinental title match earlier.
AJ Lee, Paige and Naomi def. Natalya and The Bella Twins
I feared the live crowd would chant derogatory things during this entire match, but for the most part, they didn't and I couldn't have been more thankful of that. These six lovely ladies are the best workers this division has right now (with the exception of Emma but we all know she isn't getting pushed any time soon) and they were given the time they deserved which was a pleasant surprise. Naomi has been overshadowed since leaving the Divas Championship picture last year, so with AJ beating Nikki at WrestleMania as well, is all of this being done to set up a mulit-Diva title match at the next pay-per-view?
Rusev def. Goldust
The commentators made a valid point while Rusev was making his entrance: if he was in the building, why didn't he accept Cena's open challenge? Hopefully we find out the answer to that at some point. Despite her one-off appearance at WrestleMania, Lana was nowhere to be found on Raw. Rusev squashed Goldust as a way of getting his heat back from losing the night prior, but that was the only purpose this served. I was shocked he and Cena didn't encounter each other at all.
Randy Orton, Roman Reigns and Ryback def. Seth Rollins, Big Show and Kane
This was the grand main event WWE had in store for the Raw after WrestleMania? It's hard to believe that this was the same company that gave us that amazing WrestleMania main event and then the first two terrific hours of this show. What the hell was this? No, the match wasn't terrible, but it was a very lackluster way of ending the night since you could have seen this on any other show. Contrary to popular belief, I personally don't think the constant chants from the crowd "ruined" this match. They had every right to crap all over it; it's not the wrestlers' faults but rather WWE for booking this trash. The ending sequence to the match was actually quite good, but WWE had to know revealing Reigns as the "mystery" third partner of Orton wasn't going to be received very well, thus ending the night on a sour note.
Aside from the awful ending, this was a great show, as all post-WrestleMania editions are. The first two hours of Raw were red hot before cooling down for the third, but even the third hour was made worth watching by the hilariously rowdy and fun live crowd. The two title changes, debuts and Sheamus heel turn made this a very newsworthy show while a few of the matches and segments made it highly entertaining. The future looks bright given who we currently have as our champions and I hope they can carry this momentum through the next few weeks. By the way, Sting's exclusive interview on the WWE Network was nothing of note. He didn't reveal what his future holds before taking out a returning Bo Dallas (yes, Bo Dallas) who interrupted him. It wasn't anything ground-breaking, but it gives me hope for a match against Undertaker at WrestleMania 32.
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