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WWE Monday Night RAW - April 16, 2018

by Scrooge McSuck

Roman Reigns

- It’s the 2nd Annual (Modern Brand Split Era) Superstar Shake-Up! Presented LIVE on the USA Network from Hartford, CT. Michael Cole, Jonathon Coachman, and the overworked Corey Graves are calling the action tonight, unless otherwise noted. Last year, Monday Night Raw got the better of the deal, receiving The Miz and Maryse, Bray Wyatt, Dean Ambrose, Heath Slater and Rhyno, Alexa Bliss, Mickie James, and of lesser note, Apollo (formerly Crews), Kalisto, and Curt Hawkins, while losing Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, Charlotte Flair, The New Day, Jinder Mahal, Epico and Primo, Rusev, Lana, and Sin Cara. OK, maybe it’s more balanced when you realize who on that list were used well over the last year (plus Smackdown got Shinsuke Nakamura from NXT).

- Raw General Manager Kurt Angle comes out to kick things off. Sunil Singh interrupts, which means the cancer of Smackdown is back on Monday Night Raw (Jinder Mahal), along with the United States Championship. Mahal complains about having to travel to the arena in an SUV. I would’ve guessed he requested a BMW. I think I might start recapping Smackdown Live every week now that Mahal is gone. He wants the same respect given to Brock Lesnar. Mahal cheeses Angle off, so Angle books a US Title Match for RIGHT NOW.

WWE U.S. Championship Match: Jinder Mahal (w/ Sunil Singh) vs. Jeff Hardy

I never thought I’d beg for Jeff Hardy to beat someone for a singles title, but I am now. Mahal wastes no time stomping Hardy down. In what universe is Mahal 6’5"!?! Hardy with a snap mare and basement dropkick. Whip to the ropes and Hardy with another dropkick, sending Mahal to the floor. Hardy knocks him back with a wrecking ball and dives off the apron with a clothesline. [Commercial] We return with Mahal in control of a chin-lock. Hardy escapes with a jaw breaker but gets dropped across the top rope. Slow motions lose a lot when you see the obvious leg slapping on any strikes. Hardy goes to the top but gets straddled across the turnbuckle. Hardy fights Mahal down and hits Whisper in the Wind. Hardy with an inverted atomic drop and double legs across the midsection. Basement dropkick for two. Mahal counters the Twist of Fate and hits a running high knee for two. Hardy counters the Khallas with a victory roll for two. Mahal with a big boot for two. Jeff with the Twist of Fate (taken poorly) and the Swanton Bomb for three AND the US Title at 11:28. Good to see Mahal can suck the fun out of any match on Raw, too. What does this mean for Orton vs. Mahal at Backlash? Should I even bother mentioning it?

- Something Else to Wrestle With Bruce Prichard coming to the WWE Network. But what of Conrad Thompson?!

- Renee Young meets up with an upset Jinder Mahal backstage. He says what just happened was a conspiracy, and he wasn’t even ready to compete despite coming to the ring in his wrestling attire. He wants his rematch at The Greatest Royal Rumble. Suddenly, No Way Jose’s music plays and he dances by with his Conga Line, telling Mahal to smile, and when life brings him down, to say "no way."

Bayley vs. Sasha Banks

After all these months, a throw-away match on Monday Night Raw to potentially blow it off? Bayley wants to talk it out, but Sasha makes the first move. Bayley quickly botches something in the corner that’ll be featured on a popular web series. Sasha gets tossed and Bayley follows with a wrecking ball hurricanrana. [Commercial] We come back with Sasha in control of a straight-jacket chin-lock. Bayley escapes as they continue to go back and forth. Bayley with a middle rope Stunner and an inverted Tornado DDT for two. Sasha dumps Bayley to the floor and hits the world’s weakest double knees against the post. Take some lessons from Andrade Almas. Sasha with double knees into a cover for two. Sasha with trash talk, leading into a slap fight. Sasha with the Drive-Thru Knees. Bayley with a crucifix cradle, but Sasha counters with the Bank Statement. Suddenly, The Riott Squad (Ruby Riott, Liv Morgan, and Sarah Logan) run in for the No Contest at 8:56, laying a beating on both women. I called that one before the match.

Heath Slater & Rhyno vs. The Authors of Pain

Rematch from last week’s massacre. We get a pre-match promo with the words flashing on the screen. It works for Sesame Street, not WWE. They confirm the removal of Paul Ellering as the manager of the AOP. Slater and Rhyno attack before the bell to hopefully get an advantage. Akem pushes Slater off but gets backed into the corner. Rhyno with a charging shoulder to the midsection. Slater gets hung up across the top rope and its squash time. Rezar runs him over with a shoulder tackle. AOP with a double stomach buster for two. Rhyno in with fisticuffs and a diving clothesline. Belly-to-belly suplex on Rezar gets two. Slater gets tossed on his ass and Rhyno gets finished with the Last Chapter at 2:44. The AOP sold too much for the JTTS babyface team of the Raw Division.

Miz TV with Special Guest ???

That’s exactly how it reads on television for the pre-commercial teaser! It’s someone from Smackdown Live, but who? If they move Daniel Bryan to Raw, I’m going to be so upset. It turns out to be Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens. "You can’t trade for someone that’s out of work." Michael Cole with the most logical line of the night. Owens and Zayn celebrate with Miz and the Miztourage like they just won the Stanley Cup. We’re now at 3 people who moved shows last year and move back this year. Kurt Angle interrupts to let us know that Owens and Zayn AREN’T signed to Monday Night Raw. Zayn reads a letter that over-ruled Angle and awarded them contracts to Monday Night Raw, written by Stephanie McMahon. Angle has the last laugh, informing The Miz that he’s being sent back to Smackdown Live, teasing a possible continuation of his rivalry with Daniel Bryan. The Miztourage, however, will stay on Monday Night Raw. Angle also books a 10-Man Tag of Finn Balor, Seth Rollins, Lashley, Braun Strowman, and a Superstar making his Raw Debut against The Miz, Miztourage, KO, and Sami Zayn in tonight’s Main Event.

- Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt make dumb noises while paying homage (I think) to Poltergeist.

Matt Hardy & Bray Wyatt vs. The Revival

Winning team faces Cesaro and Sheamus at The Greatest Royal Rumble to determine the NEW Tag Team Champions. Cesaro and Sheamus join the commentary team for the match. Hardy and Wyatt have the least mash-able entrances possible. Hardy quickly introduces Wilder to the top turnbuckle and takes him over with a hip toss. Wyatt tags in (still wrestling with his apron on) and teases Sister Abigail, but Dawson breaks it up. Crisscross interrupted by the Spider Walk. Double elbows, followed by a combo leg drop and senton by the Woken Warriors. Wyatt with a suplex on Dawson across the body of Wilder. Revival come back with a double clothesline on Hardy. Dawson with a short-arm clothesline for two. Whip to the corner, Matt with a boot and the Side Effect on Dawson. Wyatt with the hot tag, running wild on Wilder. He charges into the corner with an avalanche and plants Wilder with a uranage. Sister Abigail to Dawson, Assisted Twist of Fate to Wilder, and Wyatt and Hardy move on to Saudi Arabia to challenge for the Tag Titles at 5:29. The Revival could stand to move to Smackdown.

- The announce team completely ignores The Bar posing on their table so we can get a music video dedicated to promoting all PPV’s moving forward will feature Raw and Smackdown Live talent.

- The Bar come across Tyler Breeze and Fandango backstage. To be fair, The Fashion Files ran its course on Smackdown Live months ago. They give Cesaro and Sheamus trouble for their choice of wardrobe and haircuts.

- Highlights of last weeks segment with Ronda Rousey and Stephanie McMahon. Backstage, Kurt Angle warns Ronda about Stephanie McMahon not going away quietly. Angle welcomes Natalya to the Raw Roster, and she hugs it out with Ronda because she helped train her, I guess.

Ember Moon vs. Mickie James

Nia Jax joins the commentary team for this one. Alexa Bliss was supposed to be but doesn’t show up (yet). Lockup and Moon goes to work on the arm. Mickie cartwheels into a counter, but Moon regains control shortly after. Whip to the ropes, Moon takes Mickie over with an arm drag and follows up with a dropkick. She goes high risk but gets swept off the ropes for a two-count. We cutaway from the match to further the angle between Alexa Bliss and Nia Jax. At least they used the chin-lock spot of the match to ignore. Mickie with a hangman’s neck breaker for two. Moon springs off the canvas and takes Mickie over with a head scissors. She lands a pair of knees and completely whiffs on a right hand (Mickie sells it regardless). Moon with a butterfly suplex and handspring forearm into the corner. She goes to the top rope and finishes Mickie with The Eclipse at 4:37. That might be the BEST bump for the Eclipse we’ve ever seen. Crowd was mostly silent, but we’re removed from the smark heavy audience of WrestleMania week.

- Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn are paranoid about tonight, but all Miz is worried about is how things are with Shane McMahon these days.

- Dolph Ziggler is the next Smackdown Live Superstar to arrive on Monday Night Raw. He gloats about stealing the show wherever he goes. His promo is interrupted by Titus Worldwide. Neither Titus or Apollo is dressed to compete. Anyone else remember that awful angle with Dolph, Apollo, and Kalisto on Smackdown at the beginning of 2017? Titus offers Dolph a business card to join Titus Worldwide. Dolph says he didn’t come to raw alone, and here’s DREW MCINTYRE to lay out both Titus and Apollo. We can see that the NXT booking has no effect here, since McIntyre was strictly a babyface on NXT (see also: Bobby Roode coming to Smackdown as a babyface).

- Roman Reigns comes out to let us know Brock Lesnar has Monday off, again. Let it go. That’s like complaining about me having every Sunday off. The best people deserve the best treatment. He promises to be our FULL TIME Universal Champion. Samoa Joe interrupts to promote their match at Backlash on May 6th. Joe reminds Roman he’s lost every time he steps in the ring with Lesnar. Joe promises to put the Big Dog to sleep once and for all. We see highlights of Brock mauling Roman. He tells Joe to bring his "lazy, fat ass" to the ring, but of course, Joe doesn’t play into other people’s games.

Mandy Rose (w/ Sonya Deville) vs. Natalya

Absolution lives on, and they’re still using Paige’s theme music. So... is Natalya suddenly a babyface? Lockup and Natalya with a school boy. Rose throws a slap and gets taken over with a side headlock. Natalya sweeps the legs and throws some forearms that somehow look good and awful in the same series. Rose leads her to the floor and lays her out with a knee. Back inside, Rose puts the boots to Nattie and locks her in a modified abdominal stretch. Rose ducks the discus clothesline, Nattie ducks the high knee, and the Sharpshooter finishes at 5:41. Post-match, Deville attacks Natalya, but Ronda Rousey comes out to scare Deville and Rose out of the ring. Deville mans up and gets back in the ring. Rousey throws a flurry of strikes to knock her loopy.

- Hype video for the NEWEST MEMBER of Raw... Baron Corbin. Another one I’ve called, probably since last week when the announcement was made. Oh, and Zack Ryder announced on Twitter and Instagram he’s on Raw, too, but nobody cares about his ass in 2018 except Chelsea Green.

Breezango vs. The Bar

They couldn’t save this match for next week? Three hours is a lot of time to fill, dammit! Fandango puts on Cesaro’s jacket to remind us this is a comedy match. Fandango blocks a sunset flip and gyrates before dropping a leg for only a one-count. Breeze in to instantly get knocked silly with a body press uppercut. I must’ve slept a while... when did Sheamus start bleaching the ends of his mohawk? The Bar cut the ring off, relying mostly on chin-locks. Cesaro comes off the top for the Demolition Decapitation for a near fall. Fandango sweeps Sheamus off the apron to prevent the tag, and Breeze pins Cesaro with a sunset flip at 3:51. Everyone wins one when switching shows! Unless you’re Zack Ryder, then you suck.

- Renee Young is backstage with Elias. He doesn’t play in rinky-dink places like Hartford, and says Bobby Lashley needs to learn that WWE stands for Walk With Elias.

- Mojo Rawley and The Ascension ate on Monday Night Raw, another batch of "Shake-Ups" announced via social media.

Seth Rollins, Finn Balor, Braun Strowman, Bobby Lashley, and ??? vs. The Miz, Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, Bo Dallas, and Curtis Axel

Quite the lopsided teams. The mystery man from Smackdown Live turns out to be Bobby Roode. It was either going to be him or Randy Orton. Rollins and Owens start. Owens gets sent into the turnbuckle and Rollins comes off the top with a flying clothesline. Rollins tosses him to the floor and hits a plancha. The heels try to swarm, but the babyfaces stand tall in the ring. [Commercial] We come back with Axel and Rollins in the ring. Balor with a double axe-handle from the top rope. Axel prevents the tag to Strowman, forcing him into his team’s corner. Miz with the combination back breaker and neck breaker for two. Lashley tags in and throws Sami around. He takes shots at everyone on the apron and plants Zayn with a delayed vertical suplex. Miz in and he gets press slammed over the top rope. [Commercial #2] We’re back from another break with Owens in control of Rollins with a chin-lock. Miz with a sweeping DDT for two. Miz with his signature It-Kicks. Rollins surprises Miz with an enzuigiri and hot tags Roode. He runs through Axel with clotheslines and connects with a neck breaker. Roode with a flying clothesline from the top rope. Axel fights out of the Glorious DDT but gets taken down with the Block Buster. Miz goes for the Figure-Four but Roode counters with a small package. Strowman tags in for the first time and chases Miz around the ring, running over Owens in the process. Heck breaks loose with high spots and signature moves dished out at rapid speed. Dallas and Axel leave Miz to die, and Strowman finishes him off with the Powerslam at 22:10. Boring house show formula match that lost any momentum it might’ve had with two lengthy commercial breaks.

Final Thoughts: The Superstar Shake-Up almost did a reset of last year's, sending a lot of talent back and forth to shows they were previously on. Monday Night Raw received Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, Bobby Roode, Jinder Mahal, Baron Corbin, The Riott Squad, Natalya, Breezango, The Ascension, Mojo Rawley, Zack Ryder, Dolph Ziggler, and Drew McIntyre to freshen things up. The Greatest Royal Rumble is the big deal right now, and the over-sized card continues to receive a WrestleMania worthy hard-sell.

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