It was an eventful night on the Raw after WrestleMania, which is usually the most fun edition of the show each year. It wasn’t the best episode I’ve ever seen or anything like that, but it was a good show and I thought it was the best Raw of the year.
There were a few big stories during the show, so I’ll touch on them rather than pick on one singular subject.
Roman Reigns was booed mercifully after an Undertaker tribute
The show began with some highlights from WrestleMania featuring The Undertaker after his loss to Roman Reigns. It was likely the retirement match of The Undertaker. The fans chanted “Undertaker” for about three minutes. It switched to “Roman Sucks” by the end of it.
Reigns entered the arena to loud boos from the crowd. They were relentless in their chants at him.
Some of the chants included “Delete,” “F**k You Roman,” “You Suck,” “Roman Sucks” to the tune of the New Day chant and more “Delete” chants. When Reigns tried to talk, the fans chanted “Shut the f**k up” at him. They also chanted “Go Away.” There were more too.
After standing in the ring for about eight minutes, Reigns put the microphone to his mouth and said: “This is my yard now!” He dropped the microphone and left. It was his only appearance on Raw this week.
It was the most unique 15-minute start to Raw that I have ever seen. If he was booked as a heel from this point forward, I would say the reaction was exactly what WWE wanted. However, Vince seems determined to use him as a face that works against heels and is booed by the crowd all the time. Reigns barely said anything, yet the crowd was out there giving him the kind of heel heat that even Vince McMahon wasn’t getting when he was the top heel in 1998.
Vince McMahon announced Kurt Angle as Raw GM and a “roster shakeup” next week
WWE Chairman Vince McMahon made his television return. He doesn’t appear on TV that much anymore. But the WWE’s top boss said that next week on Raw, there will be some kind of “Roster Shakeup” while not providing more information. It’s not a Draft like last year or a Draft Lottery that they used to do a decade ago.
Here’s how it is described on WWE.com:
“The WWE Chairman will be granting both sides an opportunity to make trades, deals and other moves that they feel fit, according to WWE.com sources.”
It’s vague and we need more info. For now, there’s not much to do other than try to guess at who might be switching shows — even though we have no idea how many people it may be.
After making that announcement, Vince also mentioned that Stephanie McMahon was injured after going through a table at WrestleMania. He didn’t give a specific timeline, but said she’ll be out of action. Weeks? Months? I don’t know, but Vince said he needed a new General Manager.
Vince said the new General Manager was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame over the weekend. The crowd popped huge for that. Instead of who they thought, it was former GM Teddy Long. Vince told Teddy it wasn’t him and Teddy left after saying “my bad” to some laughs. Vince then announced it was Kurt Angle.
There was a huge ovation for Angle, who was sweating through the suit he was wearing. This was a move that was rumored for months since Mick Foley is having hip surgery later this month and was written out of storylines a few weeks ago. It was Angle’s first time on Raw since he left the company in 2006.
Angle’s in-ring speech was short and sweet: “I only have one thing to say… it’s great to be back on Monday Night Raw! Oh it’s true, it’s damn true.”
Angle had a funny line in a backstage segment with Enzo & Cass. After they did their usual promo to introduce themselves to Angle, Cass did the “SAWFT” bit. Angle replied: “That’s not how you spell soft.” It drew a lot of laughs. Angle has always had good comedic timing. He’ll do well in this role because he has credibility as a Hall of Famer and can be funny when needed.
In late February, I wrote an article about how Angle needs to do more in his WWE return than just the Hall of Fame. I’m glad they put him in the GM role because it’s the right time for it and he’s the perfect guy. Plus, it can lead to conflict with wrestlers that should end up with him in the ring at some point, although not as a full-timer since he’s in his late 40s. He can still have good matches, though.
Finn Balor returned as Seth Rollins’ partner to beat Kevin Owens and Samoa Joe
It was announced early in the show that Chris Jericho would team up with Seth Rollins against Kevin Owens. During a backstage interview, where Jericho got the crowd behind him by acknowledging their “Beach Ball Mania” chant, Jericho was attacked by Owens and Joe. Owens picked him up and put Jericho through a table. As soon as it happened, I thought of Finn Balor and I’m sure others did too.
After the attack, Angle told Rollins that the match would still happen and he would find Rollins a partner.
Balor made his WWE return after being out of action since SummerSlam in August. That was the night when he became the first-ever WWE Universal Champion by beating Seth Rollins. In that same match, Rollins hit a Powerbomb against the barricade that injured Balor because of how he landed. Balor ended up finishing the match, won the title and was forced to give it up the next day. Balor has been working live events in the last month with WWE choosing to keep him off WrestleMania and bring him back for the #RawafterMania.
— WWE (@WWE) April 4, 2017
The match was pretty good with Rollins flying around everywhere, even with the bad right knee. I get that he wants to show everybody that he’s fine, but doing suicide dives and somersault dives is pretty dangerous considering he couldn’t wrestle for two months. He’s a great worker, though. Balor was kept on the apron for most of the match. He got the hot tag and jumped around the ring like a guy who couldn’t wait to get back on Raw, nailing Owens and Samoa Joe in the face and chest with numerous drop kicks.
No surprise that Balor and Rollins got the win. It was WWE’s way of showing that Balor looked as good as ever. I’m glad he’s back because he’s a main event level talent who is a fresh opponent on a show that could use the boost.
This Week’s Raw Matches
This week’s Raw had better matches than the last few months. I don’t know why they can’t do this every week where it’s five or six matches getting around 10 minutes. Much better than doing three-minute matches regularly.
The Hardy Boyz defeated Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson to retain the Raw Tag Titles
This was the first time the Hardys teamed up on Raw in nine years, according to the announcers. They won the titles at WrestleMania, so Gallows & Anderson got their rematch.
The crowd was hot for the Hardys. There were plenty of “Delete” chants from the fans as a nod to what they were doing in Impact Wrestling. So far, no on-screen promos from the Hardys and when they were on Talking Smack, there was no accent from Matt like he had done in Impact. Anyway, G&A got a near-fall after the Boot of Doom. The Hardys came back with Jeff doing a Twist of Fate on Gallows while dropping a leg on Anderson. Matt hit a Twist of Fate on Gallows and Jeff hit a Swanton to win. Great to see the Hardys doing their thing in WWE again.
Neville defeated Mustafa Ali
This was a non-title match, which made me think Neville was going to lose, but he got the win.
The story of the match was the crowd losing interest even though the wrestlers were out there busting their ass. Neville looked visibly frustrated by it. He did it because he’s the heel in the match. There was a beach ball in the crowd apparently. It took a few minutes for the announcers to acknowledge it but they did, thanks mainly to the “Beach Ball Mania” chant that took place. Ali is a great flier who did a lot of great spots, including a great Springboard Spanish Fly off the top and a Tornado DDT. He missed an inverted 450 Splash, so Neville capitalized with the Rings of Saturn submission to pin.
The Revival defeated The New Day’s Big E & Xavier Woods
The Revival (Scott Dawson & Dash Wilder) duo was arguably the greatest tag team in NXT history that had two Tag Team Titles. The New Day issued an open challenge that was answered by The Revival. The crowd loved it because this was the crowd that cheered heels like The Revival and sang their catchy “we go hard” song as well.
They got about seven minutes with a commercial in there, so it was only about four minutes of televised action. The Revival won after Dawson avoided a Big E dive and they hit the Shatter Machine (double team Codebreaker) on Woods to get the win. Post-match, The Revival did a double team attack to injure the leg of Kofi Kingston. I’m not sure if Kingston is injured or if it’s just an angle to put over The Revival in a big way. I thought it was well done.
Sasha Banks, Bayley & Dana Brooke defeated Charlotte Flair, Nia Jax & Emma
Good to see Emma finally in a match on television after about five months of hype. She was back in the look she used in NXT the last few years.
The match was average and got about 10 minutes. Brooke doesn’t come across like a face at all, so they need to work on her character. Why should we cheer for her? There’s really no reason at this point. There was a bad double dropkick spot by Banks and Brooke that barely connected with Jax. Banks got the win by making Charlotte tap out. I think Banks is slowly going to turn heel, leading to a title feud with Bayley.
I think Banks beating Charlotte by submission was a way to write off Charlotte. She’s likely going to be a part of that roster switch next week. She’s feuded with the Raw women enough that it makes sense to move her over to Smackdown. I really want to see her feud with Mickie James.
Sheamus & Cesaro defeated Enzo Amore & Big Cass
This was a No. 1 contender’s tag match.
The crowd was firmly behind the Sheamus & Cesaro duo. They were doing some kind of chant or song for them. A lot of European fans go to this Raw, so that’s why the European team got such a strong reaction. Typical Enzo & Cass match with Enzo getting beat up, hot tag to Cass, then he tagged Enzo back in, Sheamus hit a Brogue Kick to knock Cass out and Cesaro’s uppercut finished off Enzo. Solid match around 10 minutes.
I can see Enzo & Cass moved to Smackdown next week. They weren’t pushed strong enough on Raw for their year on the show. It makes sense since Raw has a lot of teams and Smackdown can use a boost. Plus, Cass’ girlfriend Carmella is on Smackdown, so he probably wants to be there anyway at this point.
Sami Zayn defeated Jinder Mahal
This was the only short match on the show. It was set up earlier in the night when Angle told Zayn he has the three I’s: Intensity, Integrity and Intelligence. Mahal interrupted, which led to the match.
Mahal attacked before the match. They went into the ring, Zayn said he was ready to go and the match began with Mahal still in control. Zayn came back quickly and won with a Helluva Kick in about three minutes.
Other Key Items From Raw
Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman celebrated the Universal Title win
Brock Lesnar walked out with his new Universal Champion and his advocate Paul Heyman was there as always. They started off with a “fairy tale,” talking about how Lesnar put an end to the “superhero” Goldberg.
The promo transitioned to Heyman talking about the “two” in 23-2 as the two men that beat Undertaker at WrestleMania: Lesnar and Roman Reigns. The crowd booed when Heyman mentioned Reigns, of course. Heyman called out Reigns for a confrontation with Lesnar.
But instead of Reigns, Braun Strowman made his way into the ring. The same Strowman who didn’t win the battle royal at WrestleMania, even though he should have. Strowman got in Lesnar’s face to tell him that when he (Strowman) is done with Reigns, maybe he will have Lesnar’s attention because Lesnar has Strowman’s attention. Lesnar put the title on the mat between them and Strowman just walked away.
According to Dave Meltzer on Wrestling Observer Radio, Lesnar is not going to have a match at Payback at April 30. He will face Braun Strowman whenever he has a match again, but we don’t know when that may be. The plan is to do Reigns vs. Strowman as the Payback main event. I thought Lesnar would work at Payback since he was part of the commercial that aired promoting the event. Apparently, that’s not happening.
Goldberg said goodbye on “Raw Talk” after Raw was over
Goldberg, the former Universal Champion, didn’t appear on Raw. However, a show called “Raw Talk” aired on WWE Network after Raw. On that show, Goldberg delivered a 10-minute promo while also bringing his son into the ring. Goldberg talked about how much this return meant to him and his family. It was a really good speech where he managed to calm down the raucous crowd as he spoke from the heart.
After he was done talking, Goldberg picked up the microphone and said this: “One more thing… never say never.”
It wasn’t an official retirement from in-ring action but I think at 50 years of age, it would make sense for him to never wrestle again. His matches were short and in other interviews, he spoke about the physical toll it took on him at his age. I think he’s done wrestling, but the “never say never” phrase is pretty common in wrestling.
Looking Ahead To Payback
The next WWE pay-per-view event is a Raw brand show on April 30 in San Jose, California. There’s only one match announced at this point.
United States Championship: Kevin Owens vs. Chris Jericho
It looks like they will do The Hardy Boyz vs. Cesaro & Sheamus as well, but it wasn’t officially announced for this show.
The rumor is that Reigns vs. Strowman will be the main event. That could change, though. With the roster shakeup coming next week it’s hard to predict.
This was a very good show that I enjoyed from start to finish. It’s hard to predict who is going to feud with who because of the “Roster Shakeup,” but I think the Raw brand is in a good spot right now, thanks to the Balor return as well as the Hardys adding much needed star power. I’m also happy The Revival are on the main roster.
The crowd was a lot of fun, even though there were times when it was a bit much, such as when they ignored the Neville/Ali match. The impact of the crowd was certainly felt during the Reigns segment to open the show as well.
I’ll be back tomorrow with a Smackdown article right here at The Comeback. Yes that’s right, I’ll be writing about Smackdown every week as well. Thanks for the support.