WWE Monday Night RAW 4/16/18
The Superstar Shake-Up Begins
The Superstar Shake-Up gives the WWE the ability to switch up the rosters of SmackDown and RAW. As Kurt Angle began to explain how the two-night event would work, Sunil Singh introduced Jinder Mahal as the newest member of the red brand. This means that the US Championship is now on RAW and the mid-card champion wants treatment just like the Universal champion is. Instead, Angle told him that things worked differently on Monday nights and that he would be defending his title immediately against a mystery opponent.
Jeff Hardy came out to face the Modern-Day Maharajah for the title after being back for only a week. Hardy’s comeback comes at a time where his brother is newly tagging with Bray Wyatt. This leads me to believe they want to push Jeff as a singles guy to bolster the Hardy stable’s credibility. Mahal put on a decent match, but he dropped the title to Hardy on his first night on RAW. If that isn’t burying a guy, I don’t know what is. While Mahal’s Khallas is nearly undefeated, he loses to an older superstar in the opener of a “big event.” How does that make any sense? In the end, Mahal’s victory at ‘Mania has a payoff, and Hardy has the title which is probably an improvement.
Jeff Hardy def. Jinder Mahal via pinfall to become the US Champion
Sasha Banks and Bayley Meet the Riott Squad
Last week, Bayley accidentally hit Banks during their match against Absolution causing them to lose. Their break-up angle has been a back and forth of heel turns on each other. It’s been tough to follow, but the story this math was that Bayley was apologetic and tried to work things out at the start of the match. Banks was unreceptive and delivered the first blow. The match peaked when Bayley and Banks exchanged a series of emotionally punches that sold the difficulty of the feud. Before Bayley tapped to the Banks Statement, the Riott Squad interfered causing the match to end in disqualification. I always thought Riott Squad and Absolution were too similar to exist at the same time, so with Paige leaving for SmackDown, this shake-up makes sense.
Heath Slater and Rhyno vs. Authors of Pain
The commentary team explained that last week’s post-match confrontation between AOP and Paul Ellering was indeed a dismissal of the team’s long-time manager. Heath Slater and Rhyno decided to get some payback from last week’s defeat by attacking their newly called up opponents before the match. This backfired and Authors of Pain won handily. These squash matches will go until Backlash is over because that’s just how Vince books new talent. Their squash matches are fun though, so it shouldn’t be a total bore.
Authors of Pain def. Heath Slater and Rhyno via pinfall
Miz TV feat. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn
Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn had a match last week to determine which one of them would be on Monday Night RAW. The match ended in a double count out, so neither man was supposed to be on the show. However, Miz announced that they were his special guests and RAW’s newest members. Angle came out and made the logical argument before Zayn read a letter sent by Stephanie McMahon awarding RAW contracts to both Owens and Zayn. This gives a decent explanation to the Owens and Zayn story and furthers the McMahon-Angle angle.
The other big takeaway from this segment was that Angle announced Miz is going to SmackDown Live. The Miz gave a phenomenal promo complaining about his trade where he repeatedly begged the crowd to shut up. He focused the tirade to what the Miztourage would be taking from RAW and benefitting SmackDown with, but Angle swiftly reminded him that his posse remains untouched during the switch. Daniel Bryan and Miz finally get to do their program and Miz could use a change of scenery. Perhaps he’ll be followed by the Intercontinental title somehow and complete his quest of becoming the superstar with the most total days holding that belt.
Tag Team Eliminator Final: Deleter of Worlds vs. the Revival
The announce team coined “Deleter of Worlds” as a nickname for the tag team of Bray Wyatt and Matt Hardy and I hope it sticks. I know it’s grammatically awkward, but it’s one of the brighter things that’s come from the announce table in months. The new tag team dominated the technical specialists to secure a spot in the championship match at Greatest Royal Rumble. The Bar has felt stale for a long time, so I expect them to lose in Saudi Arabia. With the tag team titles and Jeff’s US championship, the Hardy stable would be among the strongest in all of wrestling.
Bray Wyatt and Matt Hardy def. the Revival via pinfall
More New Faces on RAW
Backstage, the Bar complained about the odd nature of the future opponents when the Fashion Police ticketed them for their outrageous outfits. Breezango was a good choice to change brands as I’ve been complaining about their stale act for months. Their gimmick can stay the same, but they needed more material and new faces to fight if they want to compete for the titles.
Ronda Rousey and Kurt Angle spoke backstage after the commercial and Angle introduced the latest addition to the RAW women’s roster, Natalya. Nat is another good candidate for the brand switch as she too has gone stale over recent months. With so many changes made, I’m more aware of how stale half the roster was than ever before. The fact that I like all these changes means good news for the future of the WWE but is a clear indication of what they shouldn’t do after all the changes finish up.
Mickie James vs. Ember Moon
Nia Jax came out for commentary as was Alexa Bliss supposed to, but Bliss declined to be in the same area as the “bully” who took her title. Moon made quick work of James with the Eclipse. The majority of this match got overshadowed by the Jax-Bliss angle on commentary, so I don’t know if Bliss will be switching shows as I expected. It seems like most of these matches are quick storyline developments rather than good matches, but that is needed post-Mania.
Ember Moon def. Mickie James via pinfall
The Showoff Comes to RAW
Dolph Ziggler made his RAW debut and is definitely a heel. I have to clarify his character because since he decided to drop the US title after he won it, he’s done nothing but flip-flop as a tweener. Heel Ziggler is probably the best Ziggler at this point and Titus Worldwide obviously recognizes that as they came out to recruit him. Ziggler told Titus that he was interrupted and agreed that he’d need a teammate. Drew McIntyre came out as his mystery partner and the two beat up Apollo and O’Neill. McIntyre’s call-up is exciting not only because he was great in NXT, but also because all three former members of 3MB are now on RAW.
Roman Reigns is Here but No Brock Lesnar
Roman Reigns came out and bashed Lesnar again for not showing up to a weekly show. He said he would leave Greatest Royal Rumble as the champion and be at RAW every week with the title. Reigns got booed heavily, and once again, Samoa Joe came out and buried him. Joe is one of the best mic workers in the world and it would really benefit both men if Roman turned heel at Backlash with the title against Joe. Joe is already cheered like a babyface and Reigns is booed like a heel. Vince is unlikely to make that realization and change, so Lesnar will probably remain champion or some other horrific McMahon idea involving Roman.
Rousey Saves Natalya Post-Victory
Rose has gotten much better in the ring since her first couple of matches on the main roster. She’s not great by any means, but she’s become a decent jobber which is an actual improvement if you’ll believe that. Natalya won her first match on RAW by countering Rose’s running knee into the Sharpshooter and forcing the submission. Deville hopped in the ring and began to beat down Nat when Ronda Rousey’s music played. Rousey came to defend her friend that she made while training for her WWE debut. Deville climbed back in the ring to face Rousey, but quickly realized she was in over her head and retreated after a short beat down.
Natalya def. Mandy Rose via submission
Breezango vs. the Bar
Tyler Breeze snuck in a roll-up pin to win as Cesaro was distracted making him look like a bottom of the barrel wrestler. Cesaro is supremely talented and deserves better than he’s booked, but the Bar is over so at least he’s mildly successful. Breezango’s victory indicates that they want to push them, so the pin means nothing but that. The Bar isn’t getting buried, but if they lose the title match, they could move towards a breakup angle.
Tyler Breeze and Fandango def. Sheamus and Cesaro via pinfall
Five on Five Tag Match: Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, the Miz, Curt Axel, and Bo Dallas vs. Braun Strowman, Seth Rollins, Finn Balor, Bobby Lashley, and ???
The mystery partner was revealed to be Bobby Roode with his glorious entrance and lackluster work. When Roode finally made it to the WWE, I was admittedly on the bandwagon. That was a time though, where he was killing it in NXT and performing as a heel. Now, he’s fallen victim to the same slow start everyone that’s made the jump from NXT has and it’s fed the argument that he’s just an entrance. In this match, his first match on Monday Night RAW, Roode hardly did anything but a Glorious DDT and wasn’t involved in the finish. I’d like to say that of all the roster shakeups I am most excited for this one, but nothing points in a direction that signals success for Roode. A good heel turn would do wonders, but that’s unlikely to happen for a bit.
Braun is still the biggest star on RAW right now and holding him out for the main event is the right even if it is a 5-on-5 tag match. The biggest pop of the match was for him when he tagged in last. Everyone bounced in and out of the ring doing their signatures and finishers before Braun finally running powerslammed Miz for the win. While entertaining, this match wasn’t a technical masterpiece. That’s what happens when you ask the Miztourage to keep up with the top of the WWE food chain. Rollins seemed like he could leave with the IC title to go to SmackDown, but I have a feeling they want the Shield to reunite once Ambrose is healthy again.
Braun Strowman, Bobby Lashley, Bobby Roode, Finn Balor, and Seth Rollins def. The Miz, Curt Axel, Bo Dallas, Kevin Owens, and Sami Zayn via pinfall