Ronda Rousey Attacked Raw Commissioner Stephanie McMahon
Kicking off the post-WrestleMania Raw with a Stephanie promo isn't exactly ideal, but this was a well done segment. Stephanie attempted to pretend that she and Rousey had "made up" and were all of a sudden friends after the WrestleMania war they went through, but Rousey didn't buy her crap and broke her arm, again. She didn't say a single word, either. The crowd was hot for the attack and the segment didn't overstay its welcome. Now, it would be perfect if we never saw Stephanie again after this.
Raw Women's Champion Nia Jax and Ember Moon def. Alexa Bliss and Mickie James
Moon has been made roster ready for a while now, but the timing of her call-up was perfect considering she just lost the NXT Women's Championship to Shayna Baszler at NXT TakeOver: New Orleans and there was no real need for a rematch. This was largely a showcase for her, and although Jax is the new Raw Women's Championship, I was happy Moon scored the win for her team. I also liked that she pinned Bliss because it gives her some credibility from the get-go.
No Way Jose def. John Skyler
This was another call-up that had been rumored for months, if only because Jose had been treading water in NXT for well over a year and a half. I hate to say this, but he gave me an Adam Rose vibe during his debut. By that I mean, how long until Vince McMahon ditches his congo line? It'll be fun while it lasts, though, and this was a short and sweet showing for him. I just don't know how far a gimmick like his can go on the main roster.
The Revival def. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson to Advance in the Tag Team Eliminator
Pretty dumb name for a tournament, huh? Anyway, it's cool that Sheamus and Cesaro aren't getting the Raw Tag Team Championship back right away after Braun Strowman and Nicolas (ugh) had to relinquish the belts, and I'm hopeful it leads to a new tandem taking the straps. The Revival and Gallows and Anderson have had countless matches in the past, so while this was nothing new, it was fine for what it was and led to the right duo going over.
Jeff Hardy Saved Intercontinental Champion Seth Rollins and Finn Balor From The Miz and The Miztourage
Let the record show that everyone (myself included) said the "Burn it down!" bit at the beginning of Rollins' entrance theme was dumb when it was initially introduced, yet it's become one of the most popular aspects of Rollins' character. Despite what we might think at times, Vince McMahon is a genius. As for this segment, it was effective in establishing multiple challengers for Rollins' Intercontinental Championship, getting Hardy back in the mix and setting up the six-man tag team match for later in the night.
Mandy Rose def. Sasha Banks; Paige Announced Her Retirement
I was hoping we'd get a full-fledged heel turn from either Banks or Bayley weeks ago, but they're still spinning their wheels with this thing. The match itself was decent at best, but it's the same old, same old on the Bayley/Banks front. Afterward, Paige officially announced her retirement from the ring, in the same arena she debuted in the night after WrestleMania four years ago no less. It was an emotional speech and a sad moment, especially considering how young she is. She made it sound like she'll be leaving WWE all together, which is slightly surprising because I thought the company would find another role for her, either on- or off-screen.
Bobby Lashley Attacked Elias
Lashley left IMPACT earlier this year and it was all but confirmed he was headed back to WWE. His last run here didn't end on the best of terms, but that was a decade ago and things have changed. Plus, if you didn't see his stint in IMPACT/TNA, he improved drastically in every way. He was undoubtedly a better heel than a babyface, but he won't be doomed as a fan favorite if he continues to receive reactions like the one he got here. He dominated Elias with ease and he looked stoked to be back "home."
Authors of Pain def. Heath Slater and Rhyno
As I've said countless times before, Authors of Pain should have been called up to the main roster late last year after they dropped the NXT Tag Team Championship at TakeOver: Brooklyn III, but better late than never. They are two of the best "homegrown" stars from the Performance Center and are an exciting tag team, so they will be a breath of fresh air in the stagnant Raw tag team division. This brief bout was exactly what it needed to be.
Samoa Joe Interrupted Roman Reigns
Joe has been cleared for a good while apparently and although it's unfortunate he missed out on a WrestleMania moment for the second straight year, he's back on TV in a prominent program with Reigns again. Speaking of whom, Reigns' promo was totally illogical. He basically said he lost to Brock Lesnar because he didn't know he re-signed. What? Joe's rebuttal was much better, and I'm looking forward to them facing for the Universal Championship (come on, admit it, we all know Reigns is beating Lesnar for the belt at the Greatest Royal Rumble event later this month) at Backlash.
"Woken" Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt def. Titus Worldwide to Advance in the Tag Team Eliminator
"Woken" Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt as a tag team is something I didn't know I needed in my life until now. Seriously, this was outstanding. Hardy's "Woken" shtick is already over with the audience for the most part, but adding Wyatt to the act is brilliant because he has been floundering for years on his own. Hell, even the stuff with The Wyatt Family died a death because they were never booked properly, but this duo has the potential to be extremely entertaining, and they proved that here. Personally, I'd have them go all the way and win the tag titles in Saudi Arabia.
Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn in a Winner Earns a Raw Contract Match Ended in a Draw
You can always count on Owens and Zayn to deliver a great match and this was no exception. Sure, they're both heels and the crowd didn't have an incentive to cheer for one guy over the other, but they kept the crowd engaged with a strong second half. The non-finish ensures they both remain jobless for now, but before they inevitably return to SmackDown Live, I'd love if they showed up at NXT or even 205 Live first to further sell the storyline.
Intercontinental Champion Seth Rollins, Finn Balor and Jeff Hardy def. The Miz and The Miztourage
Rollins and Balor have beaten The Miztourage on their own in the past, so while they didn't technically need Hardy's help, it was a sweet visual since they could be considered a "dream team" of sorts. It was a fairly standard six-man tag team match with the babyfaces emerging victorious and hitting their finishers on The Miztourage afterward. No one turned heel as I thought could happen, but that's perfectly fine.
The post-WrestleMania Raw never disappoints, but this might honestly be one of my favorite installments in years. That could be because I found WrestleMania 34 to be slightly underwhelming on Sunday night and this did a lot to get me amped up about the coming weeks of Raw. We had multiple NXT call-ups and major returns along with the announcement that the Superstar Shake-up is back on next week's Raw and SmackDown. Better yet, I'll be there for the first half on Raw in Hartford! My review will likely be up later than usual as a result, but it should be a fun night. As for this episode, though, it was exceptional on the whole and kicked off this new "season" for Team Red on a high note.
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