The “Monday Night Raw” after WrestleMania is always just nuts and this one was no exception. It’s no secret that the crowd that comes to the “Raw” after WrestleMania is merciless. It takes no prisoners so the show has to be great. Thankfully, the WWE did not disappoint here. Grab your builder’s tea (black as night) and get ready to take in another “Spot of Botch”.
In-ring segment – Stephanie McMahon & Ronda Rousey
This was the perfect way to open this kind of an episode of “Raw”. The crowd was merciless with Steph but she was merciless with them too. She is so poised that it didn’t matter what they threw at her. She is more than capable of handling it. If a crowd was going to knock her off her game, it would be this one. They didn’t even come close.
Ronda was really cool here. She was honestly excited and happy to be getting all the cheers. Very Daniel Bryan of her. When Rhonda stopped hugging Steph and the smile went off her face, it was just magical. She made Steph pay again and the crowd ate it up. JoJo’s announcement to “have a little respect for Stephanie McMahon” was even funnier.
Of course, Ronda will have to pay for her sins and she will. When she does, the storytelling will be delicious.
In-ring segment – Nia Jax, Alexa Bliss, & Mickie James
The story told to get her the title was masterful. As she stood in the ring this evening, she was so happy. The story served to help little girls all over the world who feel bullied. It also got her completely over. When Alexa continued to try to tell that story, the crowd didn’t like it and responded to her in ways that aren’t generally safe for primetime television. Alexa is an incredible heat magnet and when she began spouting excuses, they hated her for it.
The look on Alexa’s and Mickie’s faces as Ember was revealed as Nia’s tag team partner was priceless. Okay, on to the match itself…
Nia Jax & Ember Moon vs. Alexa Bliss & Mickie James
I am thrilled that Ember is now on the main roster. I’ll miss her on “NXT” but there was nothing left for her to do there. There really was nowhere left to go with Shayna Bazler and Shayna needed to take the title.
Mickie received what can only be described as a Very Brady Beating last night so it’s amazing she’s at the show at all.
Ember is a total beast in there and she was on her game in this match. Her finisher, The Eclipse, is just a thing of beauty.
I’m not sure I like the fact that Alexa got in so little offense. She basically pulled a “jobber to the stars” in there this evening but Ember had to get the pin.
Backstage segment – Braun Strowman, Nicholas, & Kurt Angle
I loved this. We saw Strowman’s sense of humor here big time. Nicholas was great as he yelled “GET THESE HANDS!”. Nicholas has likely lived a dream and he handled it all beautifully. Kurt handled it all well like he always does. Excellent segment.
No Way Jose vs. John Skyler
I fear for the way they’ve set this gimmick up. In NXT, he danced alone. Here, they’ve given him an entourage a la Adam Rose. He’s great and is a very good worker. I’ve been following him since CWF as Manny Garcia and he makes both a great face and heel. John Skyler is also a great wrestler who I’ve followed for years. Here, No Way Jose had to win and win decisively so he steamrolled over the very competent Skyler in short order. He officially spent far more time dancing to and from the ring than he did in the match. Here’s hoping it leads to more for Skyler.
The Revival (Dash Wilder & Scott Dawson) vs. Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson
This was a solid match. I didn’t realize how good Luke could be when it came to selling but he really is quite good. They worked on his leg and when they stopped, he didn’t forget it. The match was paced well and since they appear to be on a Revival kick, they won.
In-ring segment – Seth Rollins, Finn Bálor, Jeff Hardy, & The Miz (w/ the Miztourage – Bo Dallas & Curtis Axel)
Seth was having fun out there! He knew just what to do with this crowd and he handled them beautifully. Finn, of course, was not going to have any trouble getting over with this crowd since marks like me love him.
There was a time when The Miz would never have gotten over in front of a crowd like this but those days are long gone. The Miz is a fantastic performer in the ring and on the mic. They know this so he has no problem getting over in front of any crowd. I loved how he broke a little when he said “a father to my beautiful daughter”. It was really nice. This segment was great from stem to stern. When Rollins went over to comfort him, he absolutely ether’d Miz and I was DEAD! DEAD I tell you! Miz is still a heel so the match Seth proposed wasn’t going to happen here. It won’t happen until Backlash – the first co-branded PPV in recent memory and likely the shape of things to come.
Jeff appeared at the end and it’s nice to see him back too.
Mandy Rose (w/ Paige & Sonya Deville) vs. Sasha Banks (w/ Bayley)
This is very tired. These combinations of ladies have been working each other to death and it’s completely old at this point. Seeing all the ladies of Absolution hug and Paige say “I love you” to them before the match started spoke to what would happen after this match ended but I’m getting ahead of myself.
The match was good like it always is. The rowdy crowd was singing to Bayley throughout and it was really cool. Coachman, as usual, had no clue what was happening so…
The dissension between Sasha & Bayley is all these matches have been about and Bayley accidentally gave a nasty shot to Sasha which fans the flames a little more. This feud has had a slow burn and while I really like that, I just wish other women had been involved. It’s always the same two and it’s just old.
In-ring segment – Paige
This was just heartbreaking. All of us in DD really felt for her. How could we not? She’s been in wrestling her whole life. She began her in-ring career at 13 years old and at just 24, she can no longer compete. She simply started wrestling too soon and it caught up with her. The body is still developing at that age so starting that early wasn’t the right decision. The crowd was very supportive of her and that was so nice. She struggled mightily and got through it.
Still, she made the most of it and gave us some incredible moments along the way. Jester Jason did a very nice article on her that goes into more detail about her and you can read it (here). The night she came to New Orleans and beat AJ Lee on her very first night for the Divas Championship was a very special evening indeed. She debuted on the main roster as the “anti-Diva” and was great in that role. She really was one of the main catalysts for the Women’s Evolution that we’ve been enjoying since then. Without Paige, there is no Four Horsewomen. While we won’t be able to see her in the ring anymore, I’ll think of her whenever I see women “main eventing” shows and PPVs. Whenever I see a woman win a title for her wrestling and not just for her good looks, she’ll be on my mind.
And I’ll smile.
In-ring segment – Elias & Bobby Lashley
Elias was beyond having fun with this crowd. He was electrified by them. They went into business for themselves and he was a bit caught up by it but he got it back on track nicely. With a segment like those Elias does, this was begging to be swallowed whole and they had fun with him. He got the last laugh, though, because he was ready lyrically for them.
Bobby Lashley has been rumored to be coming to “Raw” for a little while now and while he can be divisive, I’m happy to see him again. While he was away, he learned to talk and his work became less robotic. He’ll be great here so I’m excited. The crowd was happy to see him too. He laid waste to Elias as only he can. The suplex he executed on Elias was just breathtaking. He held him up there so long, my beard grew back in while I waited for him to put Elias down.
Backstage segment – Kurt Angle, Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn
It was only a matter of time, really. As the stipulation in the WrestleMania match was that they would no longer be able to be in a Smackdown Live! ring anymore, they had to do this. Kurt was a riot here. He knew he had the upper hand and he played it brilliantly. When he said, “I hear TNA is hiring” I died! Sami very nearly did too. I watched it back and he almost cracked. He didn’t know it was coming. Given the way Angle put it across, it absolutely was in the script though. Maybe a last-minute addition? Hard to know but it was great. It was also fun watching them turn on each other when Kurt told them the tag team division was full.
Heath Slater & Rhyno vs. Authors of Pain (Akam & Rezar) (w/ Paul Ellering)
Heath has always been an endearing mess on the mic and that’s what we got here too. Once the promo ended, Rhyno kept talking and he shouldn’t have. The mic is not either of their strong suits. I’ll leave it at that.
The match was a complete and total squash. Of course, the Authors of Pain had to win handily for it to make sense. More interesting is that the AOP seemingly fired Ellering when they gently pushed him back before he would walk back up the ramp with them. Ellering is 64 and, as Josh in our DD intimated, he likely doesn’t have any desire to do all the traveling that being their manager would entail.
In-ring segment – Roman Reigns
They took a very big chance by having Reigns come out here at all. First of all, he took big damage last night in the ring with Lesnar. He bled muchly and had to have 12 sutures and 10 staples to close the cuts. Secondly, this crowd has been rowdy all night long and they could have eaten him alive.
Anyway, this storyline is completely silly and no one believes any of it. Reigns is doing what he can with it but he’s just not over. He’s trying to play slighted and it’s completely unbelievable. We don’t believe that he’ll become the Universal Champion if WWE keeps putting him in matches with Brock. That road is a dead end.
Thankfully, Joe came out to rescue us from this nonsense. “Let’s break out the tin foil hats because Roman thinks there’s a conspiracy!” I was on the floor! He completely ether’d (apparently that’s my word for the night) Roman and the crowd absolutely ate it up. The feud between these two should be a lot of fun and that’s where we’re headed.
The grade would have been higher but Roman’s bad storyline dragged it down.
Cinéma de WOKEN – “Woken” Matt Hardy & Bray Wyatt
Bray is now….WOKEN! Watching Matt talk to the Andre statue was just…WONDERFUL! Then, Bray appeared and it was even better. We surmised that these two would likely join forces and now they have. Here’s hoping it means something for both of them going forward. Does Bray become the new Brother Nero? There’s more on that front in this very blog so keep reading. I still remember when Bray called Hardy out for doing a riff on his own character. Now that they’re together, it’s become fun.
Titus Worldwide vs. “Woken” Matt Hardy & Bray Wyatt
Listening to Corey correct Cole about the Woken Universe is an absolute riot. Cole is dismissive and Graves is well-versed…darn it! Graves waxing Woken about Bray being “rid of the succubus known as Sister Abigail” just about destroyed me. The match itself was decent too but more so for its antics than for the work itself. Seeing dueling “Titus Worldwide”s and “Delete!”s from Titus and Matt was an absolute riot. The crowd was totally into it to – joining in with both. The crowd did a lot for this match – serenading everyone with “he’s got the whole world in his hands”.
Coach wasn’t watching the show when he was with ESPN and he doesn’t know Bray’s work so I proudly order the Obsolete Mule to…
I also order him to try doing a little research. It’d do him wonders…
Anyway, this was a lot of fun for all the reasons that this crowd should have destroyed it for. Still, they ate every bit of it up and I’m glad they did. It was too much fun for them not to.
As for Titus and Apollo, I fear for both of them. Apollo, in particular needs a shake-up badly. Titus Worldwide has failed completely and no one has benefitted. It could have worked really but Vince clearly wasn’t feeling it so it didn’t work. I sincerely hope they aren’t giving walking papers after the shake-up next week.
Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn
There was no way this match would be as it appeared. Something screwy had to happen and it did. As the match started, it was oddly botch-y. They’ve had a hard 7 days so I can see how that can happen. They pulled it together well and the match went just like you think it’d go. It’s pretty amazing how much both gave to this given how tired they must have been.
The twist is that both men were down and neither man were able to make it to their feet. As a result, the match is a “no contest” and neither one will be hired by “Raw”.
Backstage segment – “Woken” Matt Hardy, Jeff Hardy, Bray Wyatt, Finn Bálor, & Seth Rollins
The Hardys and Bray waxed Woken for a bit with each other and it was nice to see Brother Nero again for a bit. Turns out that Jeff is bilingual. He speaks both Woken and English exceedingly well. The look on Bálor’s and Rollins’ faces as after they saw this go down was high-larious!
Seth Rollins, Finn Bálor, & Jeff Hardy vs. The Miz, Bo Dallas, & Curtis Axel
This was another fun match. In spite of the week they’ve all had, they managed to turn in a really good match here. Only Jeff is fresh and he definitely brought it. The faces took the match and then it was a “finish party” where Bálor, Hardy, and Rollins got off their finishes on both Bo and Curtis. Jeff’s Swanton Bomb was particularly vicious on poor Curtis.
So ends the rowdiest episode of “Monday Night Raw” we get all year long. We got some really great debuts, great ring work, and great storytelling. We all had a blast watching it and I had a blast writing his up. Hope you enjoyed reading it. As an aside, thanks to all of you for hanging with us during WrestleMania week. There was so much to see but it wouldn’t have been as much fun without all of you being along for the ride. Thanks so much! See you all next week for another “Spot of Botch”.