WWE Monday Night RAW - April 9, 2018
by Scrooge McSuck
- Presented LIVE on the USA Network from the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, LA, it's our annual trip into the absurd: THE NIGHT AFTER WRESTLEMANIA. Michael Cole, Jonathon Coachman, and Corey Graves are calling the action tonight, unless otherwise noted.
- Stephanie McMahon comes out, selling the arm and greeted with chants of "You Tapped Out." She puts herself over for her performance in last night's match with Ronda Rousey. She calls out Rousey, who's still all smiles and back to being a mark. Stephanie tries to cut a deal with her but gets taken down and trapped in the arm-bar. Stephanie overacts as the crowd tells her that she deserved it.
- Next week: Superstar Shakeup! What mid-card and enhancement talent will switch shows?!
Nia Jax & ??? vs. Alexa Bliss & Mickie James
Last night at WrestleMania, Jax (THE IRRESISTABLE FORCE) defeated Bliss for the Raw Women's Championship. This is announced as a tag team match, but they don't even acknowledge Jax is out there without a partner. Bliss continues with the body shaming, but at least they aren't pushing the envelope too far like they did years ago with Mickie James and LayCool. Who could Nia's partner be (Who? Who? WHO?)? Turns out her partner is the debuting Ember Moon, likely ending what you might consider a disappointing run in NXT (never got one-up on Asuka and dominated at every turn by Shayna Baszler). Short match that got right to the point. Moon did a little bit of selling for Mickie James but made her own comeback and eventually pinned Alexa Bliss with the Eclipse at 3:02.
- Braun Strowman and NICHOLAS (real-life son of referee John Cone) relinquished the Tag Team Championships back to Kurt Angle due to Nicholas' scheduling conflicts (he's still in fourth grade). I think it would've been funnier had they "went there" and said he's stripped because he tested positive for Flintstones Chewable Vitamins. They promise that once he's out of school, they're coming back for the titles, and Nicholas gets his one line in about getting these hands. OK, I've had time to digest and this was ridiculous... but fun. I don't think Strowman is the guy to use in this role, but he's literally one of the few guys who could believably beat two guys at once that aren't at the level of Curt Hawkins.
- No Way Jose is debuting... NEXT!
No Way Jose vs. John Skylar
Jose makes short work of Skylar, dancing him into a suplex and finishing with the wind-up punch in less than 30-seconds. Jose had his Conga line for his entrance, and I'm sorry, this gimmick is going to die a death on the Main Roster. He already lost steam on NXT and hasn't been featured much on TV for the better part of the last 12-months, doing the occasional enhancement work (like putting over the real developing stars like Lars Sullivan). I'll give it time, but this is a second-rate Adam Rose/Exotic Express, and nowhere near as fun or outlandish.
- Cesaro and Sheamus ask Kurt Angle if he's handing back the Tag Team Titles right now or in the ring. Angle says neither, there's going to be a Tag Team "Eliminator" to determine opponents for them at Greatest Royal Rumble in Saudi Arabia on April 27th. Two matches will take place tonight, the winners face next week, and the winner of that will face Cesaro and Sheamus.
Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows vs. The Revival
Match began during the commercial break. Anderson ran wild after a hot tag and hit Dawson with a spinebuster, but Wilder made the save. Gallows took it to the floor and hurt himself ramming his knee into the security wall. Back inside, Wilder made the blind tag and finished Anderson with the Shatter Machine at 3:33. With a match this short, you'd think they could just do all three matches tonight, but we need to fill time over the next three weeks.
- Seth Rollins comes out to celebrate being the new Intercontinental Champion and the next man to join the Grand Slam Club (IC Champion, former WWE, US and Tag Team Champion). He says it's about time we saw the return of Seth FREAKIN' Rollins (as in winning a singles belt, I assume). Finn Balor interrupts, a little bitter over not being a factor in the deciding fall last night, and wants a shot at the belt. The Miz interrupts, saying he only lost because he deviated from his usual plan to show people he was going to win without the Miztourage and that they wouldn't have any excuses. Challenges are made with Miz and crew having the numbers advantage, but JEFF HARDY makes his return from injury to even things up, sending Miz, Axel, and Bo to the floor in retreat. Don't worry, we're getting a 6-Man Tag later tonight.
Sasha Banks (w/ Bayley) vs. Mandy Rose (w/ Paige & Sonya Deville)
I should note that Bayley is in Sasha's corner, but not because they came out together. When are they going to push forward with their little angle? Basic action here. Things break down on the floor, where Bayley accidentally nails Sasha during a melee with Absolution. Mandy Rose takes advantage of this and knocked Sasha out with a knee for the surprise three-count at 5:58.
Post-match, Paige got on the microphone to let us know that because of her neck injury, she's forced to retire from in-ring competition. She made her WWE debut in New Orleans the night after WrestleMania XXX, and will retire here as well. She says Daniel Bryan coming back from his hardships gives her hope for the future, and thanks everyone for their support. They serenade her with positive chants, including "This is your house." Seemed out of left field, but it's nice they finally addressed her situation.
- Elias is out to perform, since he was rudely interrupted last night by John Cena. He runs down New Orleans of course before being interrupted by the returning LASHLEY (no Bobby?). Elias tries to deck him, but gets taken down with a neck breaker, followed by a delayed vertical suplex.
- Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn, dressed in their Monday best, interrupt Kurt Angle begging for work. Angle says his tag Team Division is full, but "TNA IS HIRING." HOLY CRAP, that's awesome. He offers them an opportunity to earn employment, but only has one spot available, so they're going to fight for it tonight.
- Heath Slater and Rhyno are in the ring and upset over being excluded from the Tag Team Eliminator. Slater reminds us they were the 1st Tag Team Champions on Smackdown and he's got kids. He issues an open challenge and it's answered by...
Heath Slater & Rhyno vs. The Authors of Pain (w/ Paul Ellering)
With the Bludgeon Brothers on Smackdown Live, this made the most sense since debuting them as babyfaces would be a huge mistake. Slater starts aggressive, but barely rocks Rezar with a jumping heel kick. Rezar with a takedown and ground n' pound. Akem hits the big stomp from the middle rope. They knock Rhyno off the apron and finish Slater with the Last Chapter at 0:50. I was going to set the over/under at 60-seconds. Post-match, it appears they've ditched Paul Ellering already. Huh. I didn't expect him to do full-time traveling schedules but talk about jumping the gun if that is the direction they're taking.
- Roman Reigns comes out to the usual chorus of Post-WrestleMania Boos. The crowd cheers him admitting he got his ass kicked last night, but he's here tonight and Brock Lesnar isn't. Reigns tries to turn this into a shoot, mentioning Brock's intentions of leaving for UFC, then signing a new contract today, and only finding out about his rematch in Saudi Arabia by going on the internet. If they keep putting him in matches with Lesnar, the story will end with him leaving as Universal Champion. He teases walking away, but SAMOA JOE returns from injury (again). Joe says Lesnar didn't beat him, he exposed him. Roman said week after week for a year he's the one that can beat Brock, but he failed, making him a failure (well, duh). When they meet again, the Beast will conquer the Big Dog again, and he'll make more excuses. When Brock is done rag-dolling him, he'll be waiting at Backlash to put him to sleep.
Titus Worldwide (w/ Dana Brooke) vs. ???
The mystery team turns out to be the obvious choice of WOKEN Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt. I don't think it's hard to figure out who's advancing in this match. Wyatt and Hardy both teleport into the ring via Wyatt's Mystery Vortex. Corey Graves informs us the Lake of Reincarnation has rid Wyatt of the succubus known as Sister Abigail. Wyatt works the match in his butcher's apron. The crowd sings "He's got the whole world in his hands" to remind themselves when Wyatt had upward potential. Apollo does something neat, so Wyatt and Hardy stop the match to applaud. Wyatt with an Avalanche and Hardy hits the Side-Effect, but Titus saves. Apollo tries to rally, but Wyatt plants him with a uranage and Hardy finishes with the Twist of Fate at 5:07.
- We get a replay of the opening to the show, and one must wonder... how did Kurt Angle keep his job as General Manager through all this with Triple H and Stephanie McMahon? It seems like a big plot hole that won't be resolved, unless they switch GM's in the Superstar Shakeup next week.
Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn
Winner receives a Raw Contract. Maybe it goes to a no contest and both are forced to go begging NXT for one. I'd make a joke about 205 Live, but Owens exceeds the weight limit by a pound or two, I'd say. Zayn teases the Helluva Kick at the bell. Zayn avoids the Pop-Up Powerbomb, sends Owens to the floor, and hits a tope con hilo. Back inside, Owens straddles Zayn across the top rope while attempting a springboard. Owens with a Vader Bomb/Elbow for two. [Commercial] We come back with Owens hitting Sami with a Super-Kick. Zayn counters the Pop-Up Powerbomb with the Blue Thunder Bomb for two. Owens rolls out to avoid the Helluva Kick, then nails Zayn leaping through the ropes with a Super-Kick. Back inside, Owens with a cannonball, followed by the Frog Splash for a near fall. Kurt Angle continues to watch backstage, looking like a Deer in the headlights. Owens with charging clotheslines and Zayn with the Helluva Kick, but Owens falls through the ropes. Owens with the Pop-Up Powerbomb, and this time he can't capitalize. They fight on the top rope, ending with Owens hitting a Super-Fisherman Buster. Neither can make it to their feet, and it's a Double Count-Out at 10:15. That's how you annoy a crowd that is loving the match.
- Matt and Jeff Hardy come across each other backstage. Jeff hams it up like Matt and hugs it out with Bray Wyatt. Finn Balor and Seth Rollins look on in confusion.
Seth Rollins, Finn Balor, and Jeff Hardy vs. The Miz, Curtis Axel, and Bo Dallas
Main Event of the evening. Rollins and Miz start, or so we think, as Miz quickly tags out to Axel. AXEL-MANIA STILL RUNNING WILD! Maybe I'm going crazy, but Seth sounds like he's calling spots a bit loudly. Dallas and Axel get worked over, including Poetry in Motion from Jeff. [Commercial] We return with Dallas working on Seth with a chin-lock. Balor gets the warm-tag and runs wild on the usual punching bags. Miz with the distraction, allowing Dallas to hit Balor from behind with a clothesline. Miz decides now is the time to tag in and grabs a chin-lock. Axel in with a rolling neck snap and another chin-lock. Dallas with a flurry of knee drops for two. CHIN-LOCK. Balor fights free and hot tags Hardy. He hits Axel with an inverted atomic drop and double leg drop for two. "Brother Nero" chants. Axel fights out of a Twist of Fate, but Hardy comes back with Whisper in the Wind. Rollins with a suicide dive onto the Miztourage, followed by an encore with Miz in the pile. Back inside, Rollins meets the corner on a dumb charge. He recovers quickly enough to hit a Super-Plex and Falcon Arrow, but Dallas and Axel save. Balor clears them out and hits a tope con hilo. Miz with a roll-up on Rollins, but Rollins escapes and hits the Curb Stomp for three at 13:59. Post-match, we get the house show finale where all the babyfaces hit their big moves on the lackies.
Final Thoughts: We got our usual, fun Post-Mania episode of Monday Night Raw. We got the return of (Bobby) Lashley after a near-decade long absence, the NXT call-ups of Ember Moon, The Authors of Pain, and No Way Jose, as well as Samoa Joe and Jeff Hardy returning from injury. Paige officially announced her retirement in a touching from the heart moment. As far as story-telling goes, the Tag Titles are in abeyance and will be determined in Saudi Arabia, and Brock Lesnar is re-signed, at least long enough to drop the title to Roman on April 27th. Next week is the Superstar Shakeup, so that should be interesting.
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