WWE Monday Night RAW - April 3, 2017
by Scrooge McSuck
- Live from the Amway Center in Orlando, FL, it's the magical night known as "The Night After WrestleMania!" Who knows what surprises to expect. Title changes, face and heel turns, NXT call-ups, you never know what to expect other than a rowdy crowd that occasionally crosses the line in good taste when it comes with their chants. Michael Cole, Byron Saxton, and Corey Graves are calling the action, unless otherwise noted.
- We kick things off with photos from Roman Reigns vs. The Undertaker and the accompanied commentary. It took countless Superman Punches and four Spears to finally put the Deadman down for WrestleMania Loss #2. Post-match, the Undertaker slowly removed his gloves, coat, and hat, and left them in the ring. Apparently, they remained there, after the show went off the air, and even during the deconstruction of the set. We cut to the crowd for a healthy "Undertaker" chant, which segues into alternating "Roman Sucks" chants.
- Roman Reigns makes his way out to more crowd disapproval. Michael Cole all but says the Undertaker's career is, indeed, over, and puts him over as the greatest performer in WWE history (let's not get too carried away). Crowd chants "Delete" at Roman before he says a word, and maybe something inappropriate that gives fans a bad name. We get our "You Suck" and "A**hole" chants, too. Roman finally, FINALLY, says something: This is my yard now, drops the microphone, and leaves. Well, that was a long waste of time, although I'm sure they intended for it to be as obnoxious as what we received.
WWE Tag Team Championship Match:
Who knew we'd be typing THAT in 2017? The Brothers Hardy make their surprise return last night at WrestleMania and were victorious in the Ladder Match for the (Raw) Tag Titles. It was last year the Night After Mania that Gallows and Anderson made their WWE debut (or return in Gallows' case). Anderson starts with Jeff. Whip to the ropes and Jeff with a shoulder tackle. Whip to the ropes and the Hardy's with a double elbow. Anderson gets an elbow up in the corner, but gets caught with the Side-Effect for a near fall. Anderson avoids a Twist of Fate, but gets tossed to the floor. The Hardy's with a double clothesline, sending Gallows to the floor, as well.
The Hardy Boyz © vs. Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson:
We return from break, with Matt fighting out of the corner, only to get caught with a double team back suplex and neck breaker for a near fall. Anderson takes a cheap shot at Jeff and continues to pound away. Gallows with an Avalanche. Crowd chants "F*** That Owl", and again, I implore people to have better taste. Anderson with a jumping high knee as the crowd chants "obsolete." Matt knocks Anderson off the apron, but gets laid out with a boot. Gallows misses a follow-up elbow drop, and hot tag to Jeff. He pounds away on Gallows and connects with an inverted atomic drop. Double leg drop across the midsection, basement dropkick, and splash for two. He follows Gallows to the floor, positions the ring steps, and uses them for a one-man Poetry in Motion. Anderson with a distraction, allowing Gallows to straddle him across the top turnbuckle. They hit the Boot of Doom for two. Matt saves Jeff from the Magic Killer and gives Anderson a Twist of Fate on the floor. Twist of Fate to Gallows, and the Swanton Bomb finishes at 7:00 (shown). **1/2 Good TV match once we came back from the commercial break.
- Recap of the Seth Rollins vs. Triple H "Unsanctioned Match". I must've dozed off during the sequenced where they kept finding ways to counter the Pedigree, until Triple H took a shot at the bad knee. Also, that Phoenix Splash... awesome. I'm still comfortable with my rating, though.
Neville vs. Mustafa Ali:
Neville is the reigning Cruiserweight Champion, but this is a Non-Title Match. It was two years ago on the Night After Mania that Neville made his (main roster) debut. We see photos of Neville's victory over Austin Aries at the WrestleMania Kickoff Show. Ali cut off Neville's gloating, and promising a "proper celebration" on 205 Live. Neville refuses a handshake and opts for a shove. Lockup to the corner, Neville grabs a handful of hair. Ali grabs a side headlock and comes off the ropes with a shoulder tackle. Crisscross and Ali with a jumping hurricanrana. He back drops Neville to the apron and nails him with a spinning heel kick. Ali quickly follows him to the floor with a twisting Asai Moonsault. Back inside, Neville recuperates and presses Ali into the air for a crash landing.
We return from break, with Neville in control of a side headlock. During the break, Neville connected with a beautiful missile dropkick. The crowd seems distracted by something off camera. Whip to the ropes and Afi comes back with a push-off dropkick. Ali with a kick from the apron to stagger the Champion, followed by a rolling neck breaker for a near fall. Neville regains control, choking Afi across the middle rope. After a quick sequence, Neville connects with a tear-drop suplex, followed by the most brutal short-clothesline I've seen in a long time. Of course, it only gets two. Neville boots Ali to the apron, but gets caught on the top and Ali takes him down with a springboard Spanish Fly! Neville with a spinning kick to the midsection to slow Ali down. Ali avoids a baseball slide and connects with a reverse Frankensteiner! Ali with a Tornado DDT, but Neville gets a foot on the bottom rope. Ali to the top rope, missing an inverted 450 splash. Neville climbs the ropes now, but decides not to do the Red Arrow, and instead finishes with the Rings of Saturn at 7:04 (shown). This was a damn fine TV match. ***1/2 The crowd is a waste of space, and disrespected what was an outstanding performance, chanting for beach balls for several minutes.
- Vince McMahon has arrived! You know it's the Raw After Mania, because he's heading towards the ring. Crowd greets him with a "Roman Sucks" chant. He thanks the WWE Universe for their passion and making WrestleMania "the Ultimate Thrill Ride." Next week, there'll be a "Shake up", which means we're going to have our annual "dicking with Smackdown" and moving the good workers from Smackdown to Raw, and the stale people from Raw to Smackdown. We see highlights from last night, where Stephanie McMahon took a bump through a table. Crowd approves hearing she won't be on Raw for a while. Vince feeds the fire, and announces a replacement for General Manager. They were just inducted into the Hall of Fame... and out comes Teddy Long. I think this is a big tease, and indeed, Teddy Long is NOT who Vince was talking about. No, the REAL General Manager is the only Olympic Gold Medalist in WWE History, Kurt Angle. So, we've got a NEW Raw General Manager, and a "Superstar Shake-Up" next week.
- The New Day come out, and this should be interesting, with this P.O.S. crowd. Woods and Kofi seem to be wearing LOD inspired shoulder pads, while Big E has a big box of Booty O's that blasts cereal into the air. Despite promising New Day Popsicles, they haven't produced anything yet for the television audience. A small part of themselves were disappointed they didn't get to wrestle at the Ultimate Thrill Ride, so tonight, they're issuing an open challenge. Oh boy, this should produce results.
The New Day vs. The Revival:
(Xavier Woods & Big E vs. Scott Dawson & Dash Wilder)
Here we go with our (first) big debut of the night! Dammit, I was hoping for them on Smackdown, but hey, next week could shuffle things around. They throw over the Pop-Cycle, much to the satisfaction of Corey Graves. Woods and Dawson start. Wilder with a distraction, allowing Dawson to attack from behind. Wilder with a snap mare into an arm-bar. Crisscross, and Woods with a spinning head scissors. Woods tries a roll up, but Dawson with the blind tag and single-arm DDT.
We come back from commercial, with Woods fighting out of a wrist-hold, only to get laid out with a clothesline for a near fall. Dawson slams the shoulder of Woods into the knee of Dash. Wilder stomps away in the corner and wraps the arm around the top rope. Woods fights out of a top rope predicament and comes off with a so-so missile dropkick. Big E with the hot tag and throws Dawson with a series of over-head belly-to-belly suplexes. Big E with a clothesline to send Dash to the floor, but misses the diving Spear through the ropes. Woods got the blind tag and holds his own against both. Wilder gets the tag, but hangs back a bit, and a Shatter Machine out of nowhere gets three at 4:32 (shown). Post-match, Dawson wraps up the leg of Kofi and Dash comes off the middle rope with a stomp across the ankle. ** Decent showcase, although not a heck of a lot of time. Moving New Day to Smackdown seems like an obvious move to give them fresh teams to work with.
- Enzo and Cass are backstage with the New Raw General Manager. Enzo has overalls with an Orlando Magic inspired look to it. Angle playing it straight with Enzo's routine is some funny stuff. They seem a little butt-hurt over not having gold around their waists, and complain about, among other things, why the Hardy Boyz have the belts, and why Goofy is treated like a human, while Pluto is treated like a dog. Tonight, Enzo and Cass face Sheamus and Cesaro (again) for the #1 Contenders spot (again). Angle questions their spelling of the word "Sawft."
Bayley, Sasha Banks, and Dana Brooke vs. Charlotte, Nia Jax, and Emma:
Six-Women Tag Team Action, and FINALLY, the return of Emma! That babyface team desperately needs a heel turn or two, and yes, I know Dana just turned face, but that's a total miscasting. Sasha appears to have traded in last night's ridiculous wig for her more traditional weave. Charlotte and Dana start... but then Emma tags herself in. Emma throws her into the corner turnbuckle and nails her with a basement dropkick. Bayley tags in. Lockup and Emma goes to work on the arm. Bayley gets a shoulder up in the corner, takes her down with a drop toe hold, and does a ridiculous body roll. Emma quickly recovers and drops the Champ with a forearm.
We return from commercial, with Nia towering over Bayley. Charlotte traps her in the tree of woe and stomps away at the leg. Emma with more taunting and picks up where Charlotte left off. She slides to the floor and pulls Bayley from the hair, with her still trapped in the corner. Charlotte with knees and chops. Bayley fights back, dumping Charlotte over the top rope. She pulls Sasha off the apron to prevent a tag and tosses Bayley back in her team's corner. Sasha gets he tag on the second attempt and runs mild. She takes shots at everyone and takes Charlotte over with a spinning head scissors. Sasha with the stack up in the corner and knees across the midsection for two. Dana with a fireman's carry slam to Emma. UGLY double dropkick to Nia Jax, and Bayley comes off the apron with a body press. Charlotte goes for the Natural Selection, but Sasha counters with the Bank Statement for the tap out at 6:01 (shown). Post-match, Charlotte takes her frustrations out on Emma and Nia Jax, and ends up getting squashed in the corner by Nia while Emma bails. ** Another OK match that served as a reason to introduce Emma back to the television audience. Does this mean "Charlotte to Smackdown"?
- Sami Zayn is backstage with Kurt Angle, looking for an opportunity. Kurt Angle says Zayn has shown he has all three I's: Intensity, Integrity, and Intelligence, but makes a face behind his back, because Zayn is a goofball that annoys people. Jinder Mahal storms in complaining about Gronk costing him the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. Zayn and Mahal argue, so Angle makes a match between them. Why is JINDER MAHAL getting so much TV time?
- Paul Heyman and NEW Universal Champion Brock Lesnar are here to gloat about last night's conquering of the Man Named Goldberg™. If Brock will be making more frequent television appearances, I have no objection to him being the King of the Division. Heyman tells another bed-time story to go along with the one used to hype the Brock/Goldberg confrontation. The happily ever after is that we won't be seeing Bill Goldberg any more (Crowd: YES!). Brock is looking for new challenges and new challengers, and we run down the list of potential opponents. Seth Rollins? Brock still owes him one. Matt Hardy? Jeff Hardy? Brock isn't going to be a Champion who takes selfies with his title. Heyman brings up the "2" in "23-2", because history demands those "2" go "1-on-1" to determine who's yard this really is. If Roman Reigns is the big dog, then Brock Lesnar is animal cruelty, and it's time to give the Raw After Mania crowd something they'll never forget. They're interrupted by... Braun Strowman. Ha! Expecting Finn Balor? He says when he's finished with Reigns, maybe Brock will have his. Brock lays down the belt, daring Strowman to do something about it. Strowman decides to take a walk, to crowd disapproval.
- Charly Caruso is backstage with Chris Jericho. He gets his rematch with Kevin Owens in 4-weeks at Payback. Tonight, he teams with Seth Rollins to take on Owens and Samoa Joe. He puts over the Raw After Mania crowd and says Beach Ball Mania is running wild. He's going to start his revenge tonight with the tip of Kevin Owen's finger. You know what happens when you help beat Chris Jericho at WrestleMania? That's right, the tip of KO's finger made THE LIST. Owens finally interrupts, pounding away on Jericho and throwing him into production storage cases. Joe from out of nowhere to help with the beating, and they put him through a nearby table, possibly taking him out of tonight's Main Event, and leaving Seth without a partner... or does it?
- Seth Rollins meets up with Kurt Angle outside the trainer's room, and as expected, Jericho is in no shape to compete, but don't worry, Angle will find Seth a new partner.
Enzo & Big Cass vs. Sheamus & Cesaro:
Sheamus and Cesaro have matching jackets and kilts to show unity. Poor Sheamus is sporting a double shiner following last night's Ladder Match. Winners become the #1 Contenders. Enzo grabs a side headlock, but Cesaro counters and comes off the ropes with a shoulder tackle. Crisscross and Enzo with a spinning head scissors for two. Cesaro takes him over with a back suplex. Enzo escapes trouble and tags in Cass. He puts Sheamus down with a shoulder tackle and unloads with strikes in the corner. Whip to the corner, Cass misses a charge, and Sheamus hits him with a spinning heel kick. Cass avoids a sledge from the top and plants Sheamus with a slam. He flings Enzo into Cesaro, then again into Sheamus. They both end up on the floor, so Cass press slams Enzo onto the pair as we take a break.
We return with Sheamus in control of Enzo with a chin-lock. Enzo ties fighting out of the corner, but Sheamus catches him and connects with a rolling fireman's carry. Cesaro comes in with a double stomp for two. Sheamus meets the post on a failed charge and Cesaro gets dumped to the floor. Cass makes the mistake of going after Cesaro and gets knocked into the barricade with a dropkick through the ropes. Enzo plants Sheamus with a DDT. Cesaro with the running uppercut and a Giant Swing. With his body size, this could've lasted forever, but Cesaro chooses to switch gears to a Sharpshooter. Cass interrupts with a big boot, and another boot takes Sheamus out. Cass with the hot tag and the crowd seems more Pro-Cesaro and Sheamus this time around. Cass with an avalanche, side-walk slam, and Empire Elbow. Cass with another boot, but Sheamus interrupts the Rocket Launcher and throws Enzo into an Uppercut from Cesaro for the three count at 6:05 (shown). When did the hardcore crowd decide they disliked Enzo and Cass? **1/2 Another decent match in a series of them tonight.
Sami Zayn vs. Jinder Mahal:
I already forgot about this match taking place. Please, for the sake of my sanity, don't be longer than 2-minutes. Mahal takes a cheap shot at Zayn, knocking him off the apron, and beats on him around the ring before the match finally begins, with Zayn at a clear disadvantage. Whip to the ropes and Mahal with an elbow, followed by a basement dropkick for two. Mahal remains in control, hooking a chin-lock. Zayn with blows to the midsection to escape, but is knocked back down with a high knee. Zayn with an Exploder into the corner, and the Helluva Kick finishes at 1:58. There is a God.
Seth Rollins & ??? vs. Kevin Owens & Samoa Joe:
Main Event of the night. Did I mention Samoa Joe didn't make an appearance at WrestleMania, despite being a big piece of one of the main feuds over the last couple of months? Rollins surprise partner turns out to be the Brooklyn Brawler.... Just kidding, it's FINN BALOR. Nice to see Seth make up over the last week with both men he recklessly injured. Fun Fact: All four men are former NXT Champions. Now that I think about, I do believe every former NXT Champion is on Raw! (Seth, Big E, Bo, Neville, Sami, KO, Finn, and Joe).
The match begins after the commercial, so hopefully no more interruptions. Rollins and Owens start. Lockup and Owens grabs a waist-lock. Owens with a side headlock and shoulder tackle. Crisscross and Rollins with a boot to the midsection. Owens counters a suplex and after a failed roll up, avoids a Super-Kick. Joe wins a slugfest and pummels Seth in the corner. Rollins with strikes, but Joe kicks him down. Rollins avoids a charge and slams KO into the middle turnbuckle. Balor tags in and unloads with rights and lefts. Whip, Owens with a sunset flip, but Balor rolls through and hits a basement dropkick. Balor goes to the top, but Owens bails. Balor follows and knocks him into the barricade with a dropkick. Owens bails again, so Rollins hits him with a suicide dive, followed by a somersault senton on Owens and Joe. Owens with a kick to the bad knee and connects with a DDT for two. Joe with a corner avalanche and spinning enzuigiri for two. Rollins fights out of a chin-lock, but gets thrown down by the hair. Joe sweeps the leg and applies a spinning toe hold. Rollins fights to his feet again, but Joe cuts off the tag attempt with a knee capper. Joe with a senton. Rollins rolls away from another and hangs Joe up on the top rope to escape a Kokina Clutch. Balor with the hot tag, coming off the ropes with forearms to KO. Whip to the corner and Balor follows with a big chop. Owens gets an elbow up, but takes a kick to the head climbing the ropes. Balor to the top rope, but Owens avoids the Coup de Grace. Owens with a modified Fallaway Slam for two. Balor avoids the Pop-Up Powerbomb and comes off the ropes with a sling blade. Joe catches him in the Kokina Clutch, but Rollins breaks it with a flying knee. Balor sends Owens crashing into the corner with a running dropkick, and the Coup de Grace finishes at 12:11. *** Perfectly Acceptable Tag Team Main Event, but the crowd doing the wave was a bit annoying.
Final Thoughts: It's the Raw After Mania, so we've come to expect a few things: surprises, a big match, and a wild crowd that sometimes crosses the line of good taste. The show delivered on those expectations, for the most part, with a series of decent matches, beginning to set the table for the immediate future, and introducing the Raw audience to the Revival, the return of Finn Balor, as well as bringing back Kurt Angle as the General Manager, and Emma FINALLY returned after months of teasers and an aborted gimmick change. Next week promises to be another big week, with some roster shake-ups. With treatment for such talent as the New Day and Charlotte, a change of scenery and fresh opponents would definitely be a smart move... but who moves from Smackdown to Raw? Smackdown tomorrow night, and finally, WrestleMania week (and the days after) is over.
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