By: Jamie Henry –
Last night’s WWE Raw, the first since Sunday’s Wrestlemania 34, coming to you from the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, begins with an injured Stephanie McMahon, where she thanks the booing crowd for their ‘accolades’ over her transition from executive to wrestler for her match against Ronda Rousey and Kurt Angle at Wrestlemania 34. She then introduces Rousey into the ring, where McMahon talks about how the two could be trailblazers before holding out her hand for a handshake. Rousey then puts her in the Armbar, before walking away. A pointless segment, where anything else would have been better, if it meant giving time to actual wrestlers.
Nia Jax, our new Raw Women’s Champion comes out to “You Deserve It” chants in a Tag Team Match against Mickie James and former champion, Alexa Bliss. Bliss goes off on Jax’s weight once more to boos from the crowd before Jax tells Bliss to ‘shut up’, with the crowd cheering loudly. Bliss states Jax doesn’t have a partner, but Jaxproves her wrong when she announces her partner is NXT’s Ember Moon in her debut match on the main roster. James and Bliss attempt to get Jax down early but are unsuccessful, Jax headbuts Bliss before tagging in Moon, letting her give a forearm to James and then Suplexing her to cheers. Moon eventually pins Bliss with the Eclipse.
Braun Strowman appears while Kurt Angle is on a call, talking about the Superstar Shakeup that will happen next week. Strowman and his 10-year-old partner, Nicholas, announce that they’re relinquishing their titles, as Nicholas still has to go to school. This leads us wondering if The Uso’s will come to RAW to go for their Tag Team Championship Titles.
No Way Jose, an NXT favourite, comes out for his main roster debut, facing indie wrestler, John Skyler. Jose wins immediately with the Why Not Knock Out Punch, and a celebratory conga line ensures.
Angle is again seen backstage, where Cesaro and Sheamus appear asking about the relinquishing of the Titles and if they are getting those back. Angle says The Bar will be in a match next, in what he calls the Tag Team Eliminator, where they will face “Woken” Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt or The Revival at Saudi Arabia’s The Greatest Royal Rumble on April 27th, with qualifying matches up next.
The Revival faces Luke Gallows and Carl Anderson next for the Raw Tag Team Championship qualifying matches. The Revival almost pins Gallows and Anderson with the Crossbody, and Anderson and Gallows lose shortly thereafter with The Revival working together to pin Anderson.
The new Intercontinental Champion, Seth Rollins, comes out. He talks about how he’s finally back, how he’s a “Grand Slam Champion” and how thrilled he is for having won the title on the Grandest Stage of them All. Finn Balor interrupts, giving his congratulations to Rollins before saying he wants to be the first one to challenge Rollins for the championship, which Rollins agrees to. Unsurprisingly, The Miz comes out, looking like a man on a mission, saying Rollins doesn’t deserve the title, and that he’s the one who gave the title its prestige, which he absolutely did, before going on to say how he’s a new man since becoming a father. He adds that he wants to invoke his rematch clause, which Rollins says, ‘right here, right now’ and Miz responds to “At Backlash” before adding that he will be willing to wrestle Balor and Rollins now with The Miztourage. Rollins and Balor accept, and surprise return Jeff Hardy appears, to a loud pop before Miz and Miztourage leave the ring.
Up next is Sasha Banks vs Mandy Rose with Absolution by her side. Bayley comes out to be in Banks’ corner. Banks kicks Rose out of the ring before giving her a forearm and punching Rose continuously. At one point, Rose causes a slight distraction which has Bayley inadvertently right-handing Banks. Shortly after, Rose pins Banks for the victory. In an emotional moment, Paige announces her retirement from active competition due to neck injuries.
Elias comes out and sings us a beautiful song which a returning Bobby Lashley interrupts. Lashley gives Elias the Neckbreaker before leaving the ring.
Angle is on the phone when he’s interrupted by Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn, who ask Angle for a job. He brings up why they were fired and the two confirm they need to be team players. Angle admits his tag team division is full, but he “hears that TNA is hiring”. He says he has one spot open and the two can wrestle for it tonight.
Heath Slater and Rhyno are in the ring, offering an open challenge to any tag team backstage tonight as Heath ‘has kids’. Out comes NXT call up, Authors of Pain, the most dominating tag team in NXT. Slater manages a good kick before AOP eventually pins him.
Roman Reigns comes out and admits that if he keeps being put in matches with Lesnar, he will come out Universal Champion. Samoa Joe comes out, returning from injury, saying that when Reigns is done facing Lesnar at the Greatest Royal Rumble event, Samoa Joe will be waiting for him at Backlash.
Titus O’Neil and Apollo Crews face vs Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt in a qualifying match from earlier which…makes no sense, admittedly. Hardy and Wyatt move forward to face The Revival next week for a chance at facing Cesaro and Sheamus at The Greatest Royal Rumble.
Kevin Owens vs Sami Zayn are up next and the two begin laying waste to one another, needing the opportunity to work on RAW. Just when it seems like Owens is getting his stride, Zayn connects with a Helluva Kick. The match ends in a count out, however, which is extremely dissatisfying. The crowd clearly agrees, chanting what sounds like ‘let them in’.
In the main event, The Miz and The Miztourage face off against Seth Rollins, Jeff Hardy and Finn Balor. Despite there being no Matt, Jeff can work in the Poetry in Motion with the aid of Balor and Rollins, leaving Miz to be the only one on the apron to wrestle. Surprisingly, Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel get in a few defensive moves against Balor and Rollins before Hardy is tagged in and does a Whisper in the Wind against them. Rollins and Miz are tagged in, with Rollins getting the upper hand, nearly pinning Miz with a Falcon Arrow before getting interrupted by the Miztourage. Moments later, Rollins pins Miz for the win.
The show ends, somewhat lackluster, but leaves me wondering what’s next for Owens and Zayn, the roster during the Superstar Shakeup and Reigns vs Samoa Joe.