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RAW vs. SmackDown (4/30-5/1/2018)

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Everything kind of seemed like it was back to normal this week as we closed the door that was the Greatest Royal Rumble so we can now move all of our focus to next Sunday night’s Backlash event. So, what were some of the highs and lows on WWE programming this week and which night ultimately took the bigger strides in helping pique our interest leading into those featured programs in New Jersey? Let’s take a gander below.

Best Open: On RAW, Roman Reigns opened up the show to speak about his controversial loss to Brock Lesnar this past Friday at the Greatest Royal Rumble event. The Montreal crowd gave him everything they had, laughing and booing as he explained that he was robbed of his chance to hoist the Universal Championship in Saudi Arabia. We also learned that the referee in charge of the contest, Chad Patton, agreed. Smackdown Live’s Samoa Joe would interrupt Reigns to light him up with a fiery promo before Jinder Mahal, Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn all came out to set up the weekly 6-man tag for the show that would also include Braun Strowman and Bobby Lashley — they’d come out last.

With no authority figures present, the onus fell on Reigns to open the show and he did just fine regardless of the reaction he got. That’s to be expected and really has nothing to do with how he works — we all know the story and there’s no need to let it hijack this piece.

The high point of this segment was definitely the hometown reactions Owens and Zayn got and watching them soak it all in as they spoke back to the crowd in their native tongue. This wasn’t a blow away open by any means but it did what it needed to do to give six of the big names something to work with and although it didn’t give us any clear indication of what’s going on with in the Universal Title picture, we did learn that Lashley and Strowman will likely be involved at either Money in the Bank or SummerSlam when Lesnar decides to grace us with his presence once again. Overall, this was some all-star action packed fun that gave off that pro wrestling “SuperShow” feeling.

On the SmackDown side, we started with an announcement from Paige. She told us that Shinsuke versus AJ Styles at Backlash will now be a NO DQ match due to the repeated low blows from Nakamura to Styles since WrestleMania. Then came the true opening segment — another lovely episode of MizTV.

The Miz announced that Daniel Bryan had been banned from his show after last week and brought out Jeff Hardy as this week’s guest. They did a solid job of setting up the upcoming United States Championship match between these two men at Backlash. In the end, we get a tag team match pitting The Miz and Shelton Benjamin against Hardy and Orton; the babyfaces won and Orton would hit Hardy with an RKO after the match to send a message. Pretty basic, solid stuff.

The Montreal crowd was way hotter for the RAW open and it certainly packed more of a punch. Miz, as always, did his job by putting over the US Title match and engaging the crowd but it really did come off as the B Show this week.

WINNER: RAW

Top Performers

RAW: Seth Rollins

Monday Night Rollins once again proves that he’s the consummate workhorse for RAW by delivering us the best television match of the year opposite Finn Balor in the main event of the night with the IC title on the line. I have a feeling we’re going to see Rollins show up in this category on a near weekly basis. Montreal showered Rollins with affection during his promo earlier on in the show and he gave it right back to send them all home happy.

SmackDown: Charlotte Flair

Flair stood out like a sore thumb in the six-woman tag match on Tuesday night digging deep into her arsenal to remind us why she’s arguably the top performer on either brand.

Best Promo: SmackDown — Samoa Joe

Not only did we get a short taped promo from Joe on RAW during the open, we also got to see him in the flesh here on his new home brand. Joe pretty much covered everything here, letting AJ or Shinsuke, whomever emerges with the WWE Championship coming out of Backlash, know that he’s coming after he puts the “Big Dog” to sleep in his own match. “Believe That.” Masterful stuff from Joe week after week.

Best Match: RAW — Seth Rollins vs. Finn Balor

By far the best match of the week came on Monday when Rollins and Balor hooked up again, giving Montreal quite the treat. Sasha Banks versus Ruby Riott gets an honorable mention with really nothing to write home about on SmackDown.

Worst Segment/Promo: SmackDown — Big Cass builds his upcoming match with Daniel Bryan

This was pretty rough to get through. After a solid showing last week on the mic, Cass was given a goofy segment here that involved him making quips about Daniel Bryan’s height before he attacked a midget dressed like Bryan. Cringeworthy. Very generic and unfortunate on every level.

Best Close: Again, Rollins and Balor closing out the show on RAW takes the nod here. It’s not even close.

Winner: RAW

Overall Winner

Monday Night RAW made full use of their 3 plus hours here keeping up the post WrestleMania 34 momentum with solid segments and a main event for the ages, capitalizing on a super hot Montreal crowd.

Dave has been covering Pro Wrestling and Mixed Martial Arts for various websites since 2010. He currently runs both FightBooth and FightBoothPW with the help of some lovely and talented people.

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