The Miz and Dean Ambrose switch brands: The Miz and Maryse came out dressed as John Cena and Nikki Bella, which now two weeks after Wrestlemania, feels like old hat. It does its job as serving as a segue between his recent antics on Smackdown and his new home, but didn’t deliver much of a punch for the audience. During the schtick, Dean Ambrose’s music hits to a decent pop. He comes down to the ring and feigns not knowing that the two people in the ring are not Cena and Bella. He hugs them in congratulations for their engagement. Dean eventually “finds out” it’s The Miz and Maryse as they take off the costumes. “Oh, in that case,” he says before kicking Miz in the stomach and giving him a Dirty Deeds. Miz will be a breathe of fresh air for this show, and even though Ambrose wasn’t expected to come over from Smackdown, it still makes sense. There was nothing left for Ambrose to do over on Smackdown. Having the Intercontinental Title come over with him…that’s a little more questionable. This might lead one to assume that Owens is headed to Smackdown with the United States title now.
The Revival beat New Day again: Big E and Xavier come down and call out The Revival again after they “broke” Kofi’s ankle last week. Kofi isn’t present because he did have a shoot ankle injury and had surgery the other day. The two teams have a good match, and The Revival picked up the win again after executing a Shatter Machine on Xavier as he came off the top rope. This helps establish The Revival as a clear danger in the tag team division by taking out the longest-reigning champs two weeks in a row cleanly. Given the pattern so far, New Day is most certainly headed to Smackdown after losing cleanly twice.
TJ Perkins turns heel: Neville is being interviewed backstage when TJ Perkins interrupts and says he thinks he’s the guy that can take the title off Neville. Neville says he is the only one who still believes in Perkins and how Austin Aries has taken everything away from him. Later, Aries is wrestling Perkins when Neville looks like he is going to interfere. While Aries is distracted, Perkins rolls him into a small package and gets the pin. After the match, Perkins attacks Aries and performs a Detonation Kick on him. The fans have a small “You still suck” chant that starts. Despite the fans’ protestations, this is still the best thing to do with Perkins at this point. He was never accepted because of his dabbing and video game music. This gives him a fresh start to try to get over.
Seth Rollins stays on RAW: Seth Rollins comes out to address the crowd. He says that he hadn’t addressed them for a while because he was so focused on getting better and beating HHH. He thanks the crowd for “giving him a second chance.” He says he is just getting started. He has scores to settle with Samoa Joe and goals to achieve like winning the Universal Title. He is worried though that because Stephanie went through a table at ‘Mania that he might not get the chance. “Thank you, Seth” chants break out. “I’m not going to win employee of the month,” he quips. He’s says that it would be easier for him to go to Smackdown Live because Stephanie will make his life hell whenever she returns. “But I took the easy way out once before, and I will not do it again…[t]hat’s not the main I wanna be.” He says if Stephanie wants to send him to Smackdown, she better have an army to drag him away.
Kurt Angle’s music hits. He says that two weeks before Wrestlemania, he would be gone because that’s what Stephanie wants. But Angle wants to put on the best show possible, and Rollins impressed him by being “the one-legged man who won an ass-kicking contest.” Angle promises he has a job at Raw for however long he is GM. Afterwards, Samoa Joe attacks Seth Rollins, but Rollins turns the tables and superkicks him out of the ring to end the segment.
This was the promo of Seth Rollins’s career. It might be a little (or a lot) late, but it wasn’t too little. The crowd’s reaction to him saying he will not take the easy way out again was the acceptance he has needed from them. This positions him possibly as the top babyface on the brand right now.
Nia Jax beats Charlotte: Charlotte and Nia put on a good match with Charlotte performing an impressive moonsault to the outside of the ring. Charlotte works babyface must of the match, but Nia’s power is too much. She gets the pin clean on Charlotte after a Samoan Drop. This was a solid match for the women, and Charlotte made Nia look good in the match. Charlotte is probably headed to Smackdown after losing clean here.
Bray Wyatt shows up to taunt Finn Balor and announce his move to RAW: Finn got an easy victory with the Coup de Grace over Jinder Mahal, but while he’s celebrating after the match, Bray Wyatt appears on the Titantron. He tells Bray that he has a House of Horrors match against Randy Orton in a few weeks, but he’s going to be keeping his eye on Balor. This was the most surprising move of the night as the World Championship is now on RAW along with the Intercontinental Title. One might presume that the Universal Title is moving to Smackdown, but at this point, who knows. This is certainly more moves than was expected. Bray could use a(nother) fresh start after this Orton debacle, so this isn’t a terrible move at all.
Sami Zayn picks up a win over The Miz: The Miz started making enemies early in the show when he interrupted Sami’s talk with Kurt Angle. Angle said Miz had to prove himself on RAW and scheduled a match with Sami later. Sami gets a roll-up win for the victory later in the show. This was a decent match, but where they go from here is confusing. This doesn’t feel like a long-term feud at all. It’s possible that Sami gets shipped to Smackdown tomorrow although keeping him and Owens on the same show isn’t the best idea at this point.
Dean Ambrose pins Kevin Owens in a “Battle of the Champions”: Kevin Owens mouthed off early in the show about being a better champion and how RAW is his show. Angle then set a match between the U.S. Champion Owens against the IC Champion, Dean Ambrose. The match was good, reminiscent of their matches in early 2016. Ambrose won clean with the Dirty Deeds, which has to be one of the most protected finishers in the WWE right now. After the match, Chris Jericho’s music hits. He comes to the ring, and Owens rushes him, but Jericho ducks and hits The Codebreaker. He stands tall over Owens to finish the show. This was a fine main event match, but the fans seemed a little disappointed as there was no big surprise here at the end. Owens is definitely ending to Smackdown after this match.
The Mixed Bag
Roman Reigns gets annihilated by Braun Strowman: Roman was being interviewed by Michael Cole, saying beating The Undertaker was “bittersweet.” Thankfully, his bland babyface promo gets cut off by Braun Strowman attacking him. He throws him against walls, powerslams him on containers in the back, and drops containers on him. It was a good beatdown. Roman is being strapped down to the stretcher to chants of “you deserve it.” Braun comes back, pushes the stretcher with Roman strapped to it, and tosses him off the loading dock. The attendants are then loading Roman into the ambulance when Braun returns again, saying, “I’m not done with you yet.” Then Braun proceeds to flip over the ambulance! It was an impressive beatdown, for sure. However, the narrative is still as annoying as ever. Braun is the heel here by going overboard in beating up Roman. Yet, he’s getting cheers. Roman is supposed to be the sympathetic face who is injured. Yet the crowd is singing, “Na na na na, hey, hey, hey” as the ambulance is finally taking him away. There is a disconnect between the audience and the narrative that is infuriating to watch. Turn him heel and be done with it rather than troll the audience with this drivel.
Tag Team scene: The Hardys team with Cesaro and Sheamus against thrown together team of The Shining Stars and Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson. The Hardys get the pin after the Twist of Fate/Swanton Bomb combination. This match wasn’t anything special and didn’t really do anything to advance the story. The fact that the Hardys still have not cut a promo yet is frustrating as well. Presumably, both The Club is headed to Smackdown and probably The Shining Stars as well (because what the hell else are they doing?) Perhaps this scene gets more focus after the shakeup this week. Oh, this segment included The Drifter walking around for some reason. No comment.
Women’s scene: The women’s fifteen minutes on the show started with Dana reading a book titled How to Be Your Own Protege backstage. Emma shows up. “Let’s go,” she says. Dana doesn’t want to go though. She says that the women’s division has improved while Emma was out. Dana knows she’s not the best, but she’s paying her dues and getting better. At least this was a one-on-one interaction and sets up a singles feud between the two women. What comes next is less clear. Sasha Banks comes to the ring and introduces “her best friend” Bayley. Bayley comes out, and Sasha looks like she is going to challenge her, but Alexa Bliss’s music hits. Alexa says that their relationship is “weird” and that they should be more worried about her. Next, Mickie James comes out. She’s a six-time women’s champion, she says, even though some of those titles were actually the Divas title. The gist is now everyone should worry about her, especially Alexa. Then, Nia Jax comes out and beats up everybody but Alexa. She picks up the title, holds it over her head, and drops it on Bayley’s limp body. This situation needs to sort itself next week and fast. The women were lumped together before ‘Mania and now again after. The “shakeup” is partially to blame for this, but not entirely. The writers, male writers incidentally, don’t know how to write for these women, and they still somewhat treat them as second fiddle and therefore lump them together.
The Final Analysis: This show certainly had a number of surprises with Ambrose and Wyatt coming to RAW as the biggest. There was also an increased number of matches, which was a pleasant surprise and something I plan on writing about in Part II of my editorial about suggestions to improve the main roster shows. The shakeup helped the show a lot but also hurt a few segments, particularly with the women and tag teams. Once the shakeup ends tomorrow night, fans will have a better idea of future storylines on RAW and get a feel for how the show will look and feel in the coming months.