Good morning my wrestling fans! I know you will read this Tuesday morning, after what can only be called a very unique and at least in some respects, unexpected RAW. If you had been following the news sites, including WWE’s own website, ahead of the show, you knew that four major NXT talents were “spotted” backstage at RAW. Are big changes in store? That’s going to be the major hook for RAW, really. Many times, Superstars and big name ones at that, spend time backstage and we only find out about them after the fact. Making mention of them ahead of time tells us to expect something. In any case, RAW continues on it’s Road to WrestleMania, so let’s crack open this Nutshell and see what happens!
Best Match of the night:
The Revival versus DIY, and it wasn’t even close. Now, to be honest, this match did not approach (and really, wasn’t given the chance to approach) the level of their classic match of the year from NXT. That match was so good, it will always be hard to match. But considering the circumstances-short notice, no hype-this match did well. Especially if you ignore the odd circumstances-like until recently, DIY was defunct and until recently, Ciampa and Gargano were embroiled in a blood feud.
Worst match of the night:
Drew McIntyre and Dean Ambrose? That was a squash. Guess those attempts by WWE to re-sign Dean aren’t going well…that or someone got punished for last week’s ad-lib.
How about Lince Dorado and Gran Metalik against Ryder and Hawkins. Others said it on social media, and I have to agree. The booking of this particular match was just bizarre. Short, no heat, no hook, and of the two teams, the one that fans ACTUALLY want to get behind basically got jobbed out.
Star of the Night
Hands down, the newest NXT graduates stole the show, as any fan of NXT knew they would. Ricochet, Gargano, Ciampa and Black looked awesome.
Also, the opponents for a reunited DIY deserve a nod as well.
Spot of the Night:
For me, it was all Ricochet. He’s a human highlight reel, and tonight he got to show off on a much bigger stage. Take your pick.
Jobber of the Night:
Hawkins and Ryder? Probably. Arguably, they got screwed.
Dean Ambrose? For sure, he got squashed by Drew McIntyre. Seems like whatever hopes WWE had of changing his mind have come and gone.
How about Riott Squad? Sure, I get the argument that WWE wants to make Rousey look strong, but it’s two nights in a row where Ruby got buried. Not good.
Holy Sh** Moment of the Night:
We really got to see four more NXT debuts tonight. The return of DIY. All showing up the day they were announced. Surreal in a way.
Botch of the night:
Right before Aleister hit Black Mass, there appeared to be a bit of a botch between he and Elias. Nothing terrible, they recovered nicely, but it appeared the transition wasn’t as crisp.
The newest NXT debuts was the big one.
DIY reuniting was notable too. Surprised WWE gave that match away with no hype.
Here’s going to be an unexpected take…but there are definite lowlights to the NXT debuts.
For one, we saw four new names show up and have more meaningful action on RAW that any of the prior call-ups from the end of 2018 have had. I think of all those, Nikki Cross and Heavy Machinery have done the most. Lacey Evans got in the Rumble and has made some appearances, but nothing substantial. Same for EC3. And then there’s Lars…where is Lars again?
Aside from that bit of an issue, here’s another. You just called up your top two NXT title holders. There is basically ZERO suspense for their next title defenses in all likelihood. It would be hard to imagine WWE keeping the NXT title on Ciampa or the North American title on Gargano past the next TakeOver. Honestly, there’s still enough time before that show where I’d somewhat be shocked if WWE didn’t make a change sooner.
There will also be fans who will be disappointed or surprised that Velveteen Dream wasn’t involved. The only thing I can think of? Well, two reasons. One, he’s going to be the next NXT Champion. Two, maybe they save his for post-WrestleMania.
And there’s actually my last low point-how much do these four debuts undercut the post-‘Mania shows? All four tonight were absolutely candidates to debut on the RAW or SmackDown following ‘Mania. Now with those debuts out of the way, do we see two or four different names moving? Or are our post-‘Mania surprises going to be limited to returning guys like Bray Wyatt and Kevin Owens? I really…REALLY…hope they didn’t ruin the post-‘Mania shows. Though, who is a big name left in NXT that could be called up soon? Undisputed Era? Velveteen Dream? Kassius Ohno? There are other names worth talking about, but I feel most of those guys are at least 6-12 months away (like Matt Riddle).
Loved seeing the NXT guys get the call. All did well. Ricochet was especially awesome.
After the final bell:
Folks, as awesome as the four newest members of RAW are, they give us more questions than answers. It leaves me wondering what exactly was the thought process with this move. It’s bold, for sure, but I don’t feel like it was enough to fix a ratings slump or anything to that extent. I am very curious to hear more about why this was the move, and why it was done now. Outside of those debuts, the show was a mess…and it was a mess not from a talent perspective, but rather from a Creative view.