It has become tradition for the RAW after Mania to be more interesting and shocking than the Mania before it. Last night was no exception. There were surprises and shocks aplenty from NXT call ups to a very surprising return. Here are the top 5 moments from last night’s RAW.
1. The NXT Contestants
A tradition of the RAW after Mania is a slew of NXT call ups. Again last night’s RAW was no exception. After the opening segment it was revealed that Ember Moon is now on the main roster. She teamed with Nia Jax to defeat Alexa Bliss and Mickie James. She was made to look strong and obviously got to showcase what she could do. After that out comes another NXT call up who had more questionable value, No Way Jose. No Way is a fun member of the NXT roster but I think it’s gonna be limited in what he can do here. He basically comes across as Adam Rose 2.0 and his gimmick could get stale very quickly. He had a dominant showing against an enhancement talent called John Skyler. There was one more call up we’ll get to later.
2. Tag Team Regeneration
So much to everyone’s sadness, Braun and Nicholas had to vacate their RAW tag team titles. This was played up perfectly by Braun who explained that scheduling conflicts would have gotten in the way. This lead to the creation of a mini tag team tournament to decide who the Bar will face at the Greatest Ever Rumble. This has shaken up a slightly stale tag division and given teams a chance to shine (looking at you The Revival.) There were then a series of matches between the new Wonderful team of Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt and Titus Worldwide, The Revival and Gallows and Anderson and the call up of the Authors of Pain who obliterated Heath Slater and Rhyno. Interestingly the Authors of Pain also left Paul Ellering behind after their match. It looks like they will now be flying without their manager.
3. A New Contender in the IC Title Run
Jeff Hardy is back! He returned last night to interject himself in the IC title scene, interrupting the Miz as he tried to create a handicap match. This is perfect as it looks like WWE are willing to let Jeff pursue a singles run whilst Matt Hardy has the broken universe with Bray Wyatt. This was nicely dealt with in a backstage segment between the two in their broken tongue (much to the confusion of everyone around them.) This lead to the formation of a six man tag main event between the Miztourage and Rollins, Balor and Hardy. A fun and frantic match that lead to an ending where the Miztourage were pummelled with finishers.
4. Two Dominant Returns
Next was another return that, unless you read the dirt sheets, no one may have been able to predict. Bobby Lashley has returned to the WWE. He made his re-debut by destroying Elias with an incredibly stalled suplex. Lashley is last remembered for leaving WWE to go to Impact where he has improved exponentially. This is a positive because the man is massive. WWE have another powerhouse that could easily go toe to toe with Brock. There are some very interesting match ups than can come from this and since Lashley is no longer the green, awkward wrestler some WWE audience members may remember, I welcome them.
I’ll also add in here that Samoa Joe returned last night and completely destroyed Roman Reigns with a promo. Joe hasn’t missed a beat and is clearly set for a programme with Reigns that he will hopefully win. He basically called out Roman for being exposed as a liar and a failure after failing to beat Brock again after a year of build-up. He also threatened to put Reigns to sleep at Backlash after he loses to Brock again at the Greatest Ever Rumble.
5. Best Friends, Bitter Enemies
As expected, after losing to Shane and Bryan at Mania, Zayn and Owens appeared on RAW looking for work. They were hilariously turned down by Kurt Angle who told them, “TNA are hiring.” What a burn towards both their competition and Zayn and Owens. Kurt laid out that there was only one contract available and that they would have to fight for it. Which they did, in a short but brutal match, Zayn and Owens went to war. The match ended in a double knockout as neither man made the 10 count. With no one winning this means the feud can continue or we can see them both as free agents. It was also interesting to see this friendship instantly disintegrate under the pressure with both throwing out barbs at the other as they fought. It’ll be interesting to see how next week’s superstar shake-up affects this storyline and the rest of the RAW roster.
Honourable Mention – Goodbye Paige
This isn’t a positive moment but I feel it needs to be mentioned. As of last night Paige has officially retired from the WWE. She announced this last night after Absolution’s Mandy Rose picked up a win over Sasha Banks. This isn’t a massive surprise as she has been plagued with injuries ever since she first took time off. It’s a shame she has to go so early as she was one of the most interesting members of the old divas division and is considered a precursor to the women’s revolution. She would have been a perfect re-edition to the women’s division providing new storylines and feuds. I wish her all the best in whatever she does next.
photo credit – WWE
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