Bruno Sammartino In Memoriam

As when any major wrestler passes, Monday Night RAW began its episode with a ten bell salute in honor of our most recent departed superstar. This time, it is the longest reigning champion of all time, Bruno Sammartino. Bruno was one of the best stories you’ll ever hear in wrestling. He grew up in Europe and got sick, moved to America and became a lifter to stop getting bullied, and would become the greatest wrestler of his time while holding the title for nearly a decade. He sold out Madison Square Garden over 100 times and never used steroids to get over. Odds are we’ll never have a Bruno Sammartino again, but that’s what makes him a Living Legend.

Brock Lesnar Returns to Monday Night RAW

Brock Lesnar returned to Monday Night RAW this week after shockingly retaining his title at WrestleMania on April 8. If there’s one good thing about Lesnar retaining, it’s that Paul Heyman will still be around cutting promos for him. Heyman is on a level of his own when it comes to the self-promotion. His words transcend anything Brock Lesnar could do on his own, so when you complain about Lesnar’s reign, just remember that there is a silver lining in all of this.

Of course, Heyman’s promotion of Brock was intended to draw out the Big Dog. When Roman Reigns came out, there were actual cheers for him, but it sounded like they upped the mic on the fan section that was behind Reigns. If that’s what they have to resort to get this guy over, shouldn’t they just abandon this four-year train wreck of push? Reigns came out for a two-minute promo that said, “I’m bringing back the title…Believe that” and then he left. Something about Roman has changed. When I see him now, I see him growing tired of the criticism he draws. He handles it professionally and does his job, but how could he not let it get to him?

RAW is Glorious!

On SmackDown Bobby Roode was accused of only being an entrance. Interestingly, my biggest criticism of Elias is that he draws incredible heat on the mic before his matches but doesn’t deliver in-ring. As Elias began his usual guitar playing promo, Roode cut him off with the Glorious entrance and then they put on a decently good match. The shake-up is a good chance for Roode to get over but he should have turned heel like he was in NXT.

Elias and Roode worked well together in the ring and set up a program that has potential to be good for both men. Roode hit a blockbuster off the top rope and Elias immediately rolled out to draw the heat. Roode went out to keep the heel from getting a counted out, but when he tried to enter the ring, Elias pulled the ropes to daze him. Elias rolled up Roode for the victory, despite losing for most of the match.

Elias def. Bobby Roode via pinfall

Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt vs. the Ascension

Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt cut a promo about winning the RAW tag team championships at Greatest Royal Rumble and since the Bar moved to SmackDown, there’s a good likelihood that happens. In the build to their probable championship victory, Wyatt and Hardy will be booked strong and their match against the Ascension was a showcase of their teamwork and ability. Ascension had a small comeback but ultimately were defeated with an assisted Twist of Fate.

Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt def. the Ascension via pinfall

The Kevin and Sami Show

Stephanie McMahon not only gave Owens and Zayn spots on the RAW roster, but they got their own radio show style segment as well. Their first guest would be Kurt Angle, who, Sami Zayn rationalized, is hated by his boss Stephanie McMahon. Angle said that would get his chance for payback at Greatest Royal Rumble along with Daniel Bryan, Shane McMahon, and Chris Jericho who have all been in programs with Owens. Angle also said that he could get some payback tonight by booking a match against Braun Strowman and Bobby Lashley for the duo.

Titus Worldwide vs. Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre

Drew McIntyre redebuted on RAW after coming back to the WWE and getting a run as NXT champion. He tore his bicep in the match that started Andrade “Cien” Almas’ title reign in NXT and never wrestled on the developmental brand again. He seems to be adored by the fans, despite coming up as a heel tag team with Dolph Ziggler. Their combined entrance debuted this week and seems like it’ll work well, especially given the cut-off right before Ziggler’s music plays.

Ziggler and McIntyre made quick work of Titus O’Neill and Apollo Crews, who is back to using his last name. Their finishing combo is really clean and should get built as utterly devastating, so they can be a credible force when they compete for the titles. Ziggler cut a promo right after the match and McIntyre joined in calling out the entire WWE roster. His claim that he will be the “wake up check this place desperately needs” surely won’t go unnoticed as they look to be the top heel duo on RAW.

Drew McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler def. Apollo Crews and Titus O’Neill via pinfall

Chad Gables Debuts on RAW

Chad gable thanked Kurt Angle backstage for giving him an opportunity as a singles competitor, but Jinder Mahal was nearby waiting to complain about Angle putting him in a title match last week. Gable told Mahal to show some respect, but the Modern-Day Maharajah came back with a comparison to former tag champ ten-year-old Nicholas and an untimely joke regarding Gable’s height where he called him Mini-Me, who had passed away within the past week. Mahal continues to get bad lines and it was dead silent when he made that jab.

The two settled things in the ring, but Mahal attacked Gable before the match started. Because he started at a disadvantage, Gable played the underdog of the match. After Mahal beat on him senselessly, Gable got an upset win by rolling up Mahal for the cover as he climbed the ropes. Gable’s victory establishes him as a mid-card babyface that has Kurt Angle’s favor, so when Jason Jordan comes back I expect a high-profile feud involving Angle having t choose between them.

Chad Gable def. Jinder Mahal via pinfall

Bobby Lashley and Braun Strowman vs. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn

In the first moments of the match, Zayn and Owens scrambled in and out of the ring to avoid the two monstrous men chasing after them. Eventually, they got caught and began to endure a beating by Lashley, but they kept Strowman out of the match. Owens would run around the ring and stop the hot tag by pulling Strowman’s feet from under him, but this only angered the Monster among Men.

When Strowman got in the match, he ran out of the ring and flung Owens into the barricade with a shoulder tackle. After clotheslining Zayn, Strowman would run out and repeat the combination until he delivered a jumping dropkick to knock Owens out. Strowman got Zayn on his shoulders and ended the match with a running Powerslam. Owens and Zayn are great heels, but their victories wouldn’t be so great if they didn’t lose every now and then. Losing to Strowman and Lashley doesn’t hurt them at all, but it does maintain their credibility.

Braun Strowman and Bobby Lashley def. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn via pinfall

No-Way Jose and No-Match Baron Corbin

No Way Jose was supposed to have a match against Baron Corbin, but Corbin canceled it because he saw Jose’s Conga Line as a trap. Jose told the WWE Universe not to let him ruin the party and his music hit. After the Conga Line exited to the back, a dancing Jose was blindsided by the Lone Wolf and left defeated.

Finn Balor and Seth Rollins vs. Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas

The Miztourage spent a good portion of the evening trying to win the favor of Rollins or Balor as their new leader. Both declined, and the two men were forced to come out to their Miztourage music. Rollins, the IC champion, and Balor, a high contender for the title, made Axel and Dallas look like a couple of jobbers hitting a suicide dive and Coup de Gras to win the match quickly.

Finn Balor and Seth Rollins def. the Miztourage via pinfall

10-Woman Tag Match: Alexa Bliss, Mickie James, Ruby Riott, Sarah Logan, and Liv Morgan vs. Bayley, Ember Moon, Sasha Banks, Natalya, and Nia Jax

Alexa Bliss did a PSA promo against Nia Jax’s bullying that was pure heel gold. Bliss plays her character so well and it’s crazy to think there was a time when she was booked as a babyface. Sasha Banks and Bayley continue to have tensions come up whenever they look at each other. With so many women with legitimate storylines, the ten-person tag match was an excellent way to include everyone and claim equality with the men’s match last week.

That being said, ten-person tag matches tend to drag because everyone has to get a chance. Jax came in last, and when the entire opposing team began to break up her pin attempt on Ruby Riott, all hell broke loose. James attacked Natalya ringside while the other women lay in a heap. Ronda Rousey came out to defend her friend, but James delivered another blow to knock out Nat. Rousey angrily raced into the ring and locked in the armbar far faster than she did on Stephanie McMahon. James tapped, and the bell rang, but because Rousey wasn’t legal, Natalya’s team was disqualified. Rousey’s next match is supposed to be in London against James on the European tour after Greatest Royal Rumble.

Alexa Bliss, Mickie James, Ruby Riott, Sarah Logan, and Liv Morgan def. Bayley, Ember Moon, Sasha Banks, Natalya, and Nia Jax via disqualification

 

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David Rosenberg

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