The Monday Night RAW after Wrestlemania is always known to be pretty explosive, the WWE based a 24 program on last year’s after all. Still, this was the first SmackDown that went live after the big event – and all eyes were watching to see if it would live up to the other brand’s expectation. How did they both do on one of the biggest nights of year for WWE television? Here’s what I thought.
Monday Night RAW
The Opener: This win goes out to RAW’s Orlando crowd and Roman Reigns. The crowd, for barely letting him belt out a word, thanks to numerous chants, and I can’t remember the last time a superstar received so much heat. Still, whether you agree with the crowd or not, they were energetic and passionate – and the live crowd can make or break a RAW some nights. Roman Reigns gets a nod, for standing out there, taking it (holding back a little bit a laughter at one point – the situation was a bit comical), but finally saying what he needed to say.
The Hardys Return: Fantastic match between the Hardy Boyz and The Club. Welcome back to RAW, Boyz!
You Suck: When Vince McMahon shows up to a Monday Night RAW, you know something big is going down. RAW had plenty of surprises on Monday night, and one to highlight here was Kurt Angle as new RAW General Manager. He’s definitely going to add some much-needed flavor and comic relief to the program. I’m looking forward to how he changes the dynamic of the program.
Surprises: So, as I stated above, there were plenty of surprises on RAW, which is usually the case the Monday after Mania. We had Kurt Angle’s GM announcement, the Revival debuted, Emma (the real Emma) returned, and Finn Balor … but more on Finn later … I digress, surprises are what the Monday night RAW after Wrestlemania is all about.
Women’s Match: Sasha, Bayley, Dana, Nia, Emma, and of course Charlotte, killed it. What was even better was a tease of a feud between Charlotte and Jax at the end. Is Jax turning face before Banks turns heel? Regardless, I’d love to see a program between these two ladies.
My Name Is Paul Heyman …: Paul generally lands on the wins’ list because, well, he’s Paul Heyman. There seems to be reports out there stating that Brock Lesnar will not be at the Payback pay-per-view (PPV) and the idea of him winning the Universal title and taking a hiatus is not surprising to say the least (he did that the last time he had a high-level run). So, I truly enjoyed the tease of a feud between him and Braun Strowman during Lesnar and Heyman’s segment. That is a match, I am looking forward to.
Did We Just Because Best Friends? Yup!: Kurt Angle sure came through for Seth Rollins Monday night. Poor Y2J was attacked – leaving Seth Rollins to battle it out against Samoa Joe and Kevin Owens on his own. Who makes the save? Finn Balor! And it was awesome to see him walk down that ramp. What’s even funnier is how quickly things change in the WWE. Rollins was the storyline-related reason that Balor was out of action for so long, but upon Finn’s return … who does he save? Meh, I’m not judging … just saying … regardless, I love to go with the flow.
I honestly couldn’t think of any fails this week on RAW. If the WNZ fans have any, I’d love to read them in the comments below.
Opener: Wyatt and Orton are magic when it comes to promos and build up for this program, that is clearly nowhere near over. I don’t necessarily think they have that same magic when they step into a ring, but that’s my personal opinion. Regardless, Eric Rowan returned to SD Live in the opening segment, re-arranged mask and all. Wyatt has one minion back, interesting to see how this will all change his dynamic.
Naomi versus Alexa Bliss: Great match, great to see Naomi as champ and back in action.
10!10!10!10!: One of the many surprises on SmackDown Live this week was the main roster debut of Tye Dillinger. This was one I wasn’t expecting, but enjoyed watching. Welcome to the main roster, Perfect 10!
John Cena and Nikki Bella: Or should I say the Miz and Maryse. So, with Bella and Cena on hiatus (Cena is headed for a Hollywood project and Bella is healing … and maybe starting to plan a wedding?) this may be the last time we see Miz and Maryse mimic the couple. But, I personally have enjoyed watching the Miz and Maryse pretending to be Nena. It’s been a highlight of SD Live and probably the best work Maryse has ever done.
The King of Strong Style: Speaking of the Miz/Maryse segment … once again, I was half expecting to see Shinsuke Nakamura debut on SD LIVE this week. But the way he did it was perfectly executed, considering the uniqueness of this character. Miz and Maryse are doing their Nena segment, when a spotlight is placed on a violin player. Was I the only one who got goosebumps when this happened? Nakumura has a fantastic entrance, one that is not like any other on the main roster; watching him walk down that aisle was something I won’t soon forget. And really without a word, but with more of a presence, Nakumura made a strong statement last night: he’s on the main roster and ready to shine.
AJ Styles/Shane McMahon: They had one heck of a match on Sunday, and it was nice to see these two exchange a handshake, out of respect. Styles declared that despite the Superstar Shake-Up next week he wants to stay on SD Live. Hhhmmm are we seeing a face turn for the Phenomenal One …?
Street Fight: Wow, Dean Ambrose and Corbin Baron brought it last night. Did they have something to prove? Their Wrestlemania match was a good one, that also happened to land on the pre-show. Alas, even better than the match was the outcome; Corbin cleanly beat Ambrose. I love Ambrose, but I also see Corbin as a future main eventer and love the fact that he got this nod.
No real fails this week for SD LIVE, although I am disappointed that there was nothing from the Tag Champions. Why did the belts even exchange hands before Wrestlemania if there wasn’t going to be a match at the big event and the team wouldn’t even be acknowledged after WM? It continues to sadden me how WWE Creative has dropped the ball on SD LIVE’s tag division and those titles.
Honestly, I enjoyed both shows. I can’t even say ‘one was better than the other’. RAW was incredible and SD LIVE was phenomenal. I place a draw this week; which means it was a huge win for WWE fans everywhere.