The RAW following Wrestlemania is always one met with anticipation and excitement. I’m pleased to say, this year did not disappoint! Despite a few strange decisions in booking, it was one of the better shows this year.
A rambunctious crowd, who chanted throughout, saw a show run my Shane McMahon (despite his loss at Mania) following a characteristic outburst by the Chairman.
The first match saw the tag champs The New Day defend their titles against Barrett and Sheamus of the League of Nations. The regular pre-match talk of the unicorns was met with cheers of delight from the fans in attendance. I think this has firmly cemented the New Day as babyfaces for the foreseeable future. A fairly uneventful match in which there was no interference – despite the three men outside the ring, ended with the champions retaining their gold. Post-match, the angry Celtic Warrior decided change was afoot, and used his one of his to Brogue Kick the King out of the league. Suddenly, the lights went out. When they came back up, the Wyatt‘s were brawling with the remaining members before Bray hit Sheamus with Sister Abigail to the delight of all in attendance. A turn maybe? Anyway, it was well received.
The second match of the night – Summer Rae vs Sasha Banks – started out under strange circumstances. Summer, for some reason, called out the Boss for failing to win the night before. In response, Banks beat her in under two minutes. A strange, strange choice indeed.
Our next event, and the second big moment of the night, saw the debut of NXT’s Apollo Crews. The rookie took no time at all to make a good impression, knocking over Tyler Breeze in double quick time. As brilliant as it is to see Crews on the main roster, where “mega-star” (to quote JBL) obviously belongs, Prince Pretty seems to be without direction once again…
As soon as Roman Reigns‘ music hit, the boos were deafening. There’s no two ways about it, he is not a popular champion. To his credit, Reigns recognised this and issued an open challenge for his title – a challenge answered by four men. Firstly, Chris Jericho, because: why not. Secondly, AJ Styles, because you can’t have one without the other it would seem. The former Intercontinental champion, Kevin Owens, entered the fray, followed by the fan favourite Sami Zayn. Soon enough the whole thing broke down into a brawl, finishing with a spear to Jericho. Later it would be announced that these four would compete in the main event for the number one contender spot.
The next match on the card would be Dolph Ziggler facing the “Andre the Giant Battle Royale” winner Baron Corbin. I love Corbin and I’m very happy he’s finally been called up, but this wasn’t his best introduction to RAW. Firstly, the match ended in a double count out. Secondly, a commercial break in the middle of the match really took us out of the occasion and made it feel a lot less special. At least he hit End of Days on the floor to end the bout.
One of my favourite moments from Wrestlemania 32 was the unexpected victory of Zach Ryder. Unfortunately, it would appear the WWE writers don’t share this opinion, having Long Island Iced Z drop the title to The Miz following ringside shenanigans. Having confronted Ryder’s father (on the front row), Miz was pushed to the ground by the aforementioned spectator. Maryse, Miz’s wife, didn’t take too gladly to this and proceeded to slap Ryder senior before being escorted away. This was enough to distract Zach long enough for a roll-up and the 1-2-3. Thankfully, there will be a rematch on Smackdown!
The official presentation of the Women’s Championship was overshadowed by the constant chants for former NXT women’s champion Bayley throughout Charlotte‘s acceptance speech – in which she was getting visibly annoyed. Following some gloating and praise for her father, the rest of the division piled out of the ring without ever looking back at the ungrateful champ.
So, I have never been a fan of the Uso–Dudley storyline, and it just won’t go away! The teams faced each other, again, in a tables match (why not). The veterans won despite a botched end in which the ring bell was called way too early. Then there was an ad break. When the show resumed the Dudleys were still there. The crowd must have been very frustrated by this… But their frustration would soon change to joy when the music of Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady hit. The baddest guys in the room were on top form as they delivered their famous lines – which the WWE Universe gladly joined in at, before cracking jokes and riling the men from Dudleyville. Unfortunately we didn’t see them fight, but its a good sign of things to come.
Preceding the main event of the night, KO took it upon himself to remove Sami Zayn from the equation by attacking him backstage and powerbombing him through a table. His plans worked! However, Shane O’Mac declared it would still be a 4-way affair with the final combatant being… Cesaro! The roar of the crowd was massive – easily the biggest pop of the night. Out strode the Swiss Superman, dressed in a full suit, only to rip it off and uncover his wrestling gear. The match which followed was a full-blooded bout with false finish after false finish; signatures galore, and finally a win for AJ using the Styles Clash. For once the main event was actually the match of the night, in which all four men looked strong and capable of challenging for the title – especially the man returning from shoulder surgery.