Monday Night Raw – April 4, 2016

Monday Night Raw
Date: April 4, 2016
Location: American Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas
Commentators: Byron Saxton, John Bradshaw Layfield, Michael Cole

It’s pretty much New Year’s Day in WWE after everything came to a big conclusion last night. We’re officially in the Roman Reigns Era (part three) and hopefully that means a little break from the Authority. The other interesting thing will be seeing where the McMahons go from here because they’re the real stars of this show. Let’s get to it.

Again I was in the arena for this show so my perspective might be a bit different.

We open with a long recap of Wrestlemania, because what else are they going to start with?

Opening sequence.

The announcers tell us that the crowd is going to be “non-traditional” tonight. Translation: “Please don’t listen to the fans booing Reigns. He’s really AWESOME!” JBL says they’re just having fun. If fun means chanting for the Sheraton Hotel room that came in their travel packages, followed by a TRAVEL PACKAGE chant, I’d rather sign up for misery.

Here’s Vince to get things going and the fans actually sing his theme song. Vince: “Exactly the same chance my son had against the Undertaker!” He brings up Reigns winning the title and the fans are really not pleased. However, as of this morning the lock box is all taken care of, save for explaining what the heck that’s about. Last night was a great night but seeing his grandsons out there with Shane got to him a bit. It almost got to him when Shane climbed the Cell, which of course draws a Shane O’Mac chant.

Vince promises that tonight is a night we’ll never forget and goes to leave but Shane slowly limps out to cut him off. The fans thank Shane but he wants to shake Vince’s hand (“Since I’m the only man in the family.”) because Vince won at Wrestlemania. Shane thanks the fans and goes to leave but Vince cuts him off and blames the fans for what happened last night. Vince cuts him off again and says no one upstages him. He’s often thought how insane it would be to have Shane running Raw…..so let’s see how bad it can get.

Yes Shane is now in charge of Raw, completely negating A MONTH AND A HALF of storylines, along with erasing the point of last night’s Cell match. It’s almost like they booked themselves into a stupid corner with the story and had to find a way out of it while completely throwing logic out the window. This is the kind of nonsense that gets old in a hurry because I basically spent a month and a half trying to make sense of this stuff and then they say “oh never mind because we’re just doing what Vince was so scared of because.” Why? Just because. That drives me crazy but it happens far too often around here.

Here’s New Day for a talk before their title defense. Woods now has a smaller horn for reasons that aren’t likely to be explained. Maybe Vince just lost his mind and felt it should be smaller. The fans do the HEY! WE WANT SOME NEW DAY song before Big E. says things didn’t go according to plan last night.

Kofi did get to twerk with Shawn Michaels but Woods took a Stunner. Woods: “Upon further review of the tape, I have to admit….that it was pretty much my own fault.” However, they now have the last piece of Bootyo’s from last night, which will be playing the role of Simba as Woods hums Circle of Life from Lion King. It’s one of my all time favorites and the fans dug the heck out of that bit.

Tag Team Titles: King Barrett/Sheamus vs. New Day

The challengers come out after a break but first we get to see Lillian dancing with New Day, which she actually did twice. Kofi and Sheamus go into the corner to start as the announcers talk about the Shane story because the Tag Team Titles aren’t interesting enough. Everything breaks down and the League is sent outside, followed by Kofi being launched over the top (complete with fanfare from Woods) for a big crash.

Sheamus gets back up and knocks Kofi off the top for a crash but thankfully Woods is there to reassure him that the Bootyo is magical. Kofi fights back on Barrett but gets kicked hard in the ribs. We take a break and come back with the Wave going on in the background. Even Sheamus gets in on it, which actually causes Woods to get the mic and say if you like the Wave you like Sheamus.

This was the second time he said something like that after he had to get the fans to stop chanting Rocksteady during the break. To his credit, the crowd stopped cold both times so that seems to be the solution to the annoying chants. Kofi kicks Sheamus away and makes the hot tag as the fans are busy chanting about how awesome they are. Big E. starts in with the suplexes and the Warrior splash, followed by a whip to send Barrett into Sheamus. The Midnight Hour retains the titles at 8:45.

Rating: C. The match was fine but I’m sick of seeing these groups fight. There has to be someone else that New Day can fight, even if it’s some pairing of two big heels. The League just isn’t interesting no matter how many times they call themselves the lads or spin their fingers around their heads. New Day is way over but they’re getting into that Edge and Christian territory of having no one to feud with. At least they’re getting a nice long reign out of it though and with those shirts selling as strong as they do, the team isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Post match Sheamus says he’s had it with all this losing. Every time he looks at one of these losses, he sees one weak link and that’s going to change. That means a Brogue Kick to Barrett, which draws out the Wyatts to destroy the remainder of the League, complete with the fans singing He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands. So there’s the face turn for the Wyatts, though let’s look at this League thing for a minute.

Did Sheamus forget that whole THEY WON AT WRESTLEMANIA part? Barrett knocked Woods silly to set up the win but now he’s kicked out after one loss? As has been proven already, it seems that New Day should have won at Wrestlemania to set this up, especially since they won here like the Wrestlemania match meant nothing. It’s bad storytelling and really should have been fixed before it became a stupid moment.

Vince goes to leave the arena but tells Renee Young that Shane is only in charge temporarily. He’s leaving early because this is going to be a disaster and he doesn’t want to watch the ship go down.

Summer Rae vs. Sasha Banks

Summer actually gets promo time and says if she was in charge of Bad and Blonde last night, they wouldn’t have wound up flat on their faces like Sasha did. Banks is back in the shorts tonight. She grabs the mic away from Summer and reminds us that she is in fact the Boss before slapping Summer in the face. Summer begs off like a heel should and suckers Sasha in to a neck snap across the middle rope. We’re in a chinlock thirty seconds in but Sasha is quickly up with a snapmare and running knees to the chest for two. The Bank Statement makes Summer tap at 1:40.

Shane McMahon is talking to Apollo Crews.

Apollo Crews vs. Tyler Breeze

This is Crews’ main roster debut after only a few months down in NXT. Then again when you have those natural gifts, it’s not expected that you’ll see him in developmental that long. Crews starts fast with a pop up powerslam for two, followed by a suplex from Breeze for the same. We’re already in the chinlock and it would be nice for Crews to at least look….something. He’s just kind of there and ignoring that someone has him in a chinlock. Crews pops up with the gorilla press and standing moonsault, followed by the lifting powerbomb for the pin at 1:52. Typical debut squash.

Clips of Charlotte and Roman Reigns on the Today Show.

Here’s Reigns to open the second hour with even louder booing than the previous night. During the entrance, JBL says Reigns is so happy to finally be on top of the mountain. That would be back on top of the mountain actually because this is his third reign which is supposed to mean more than the first two. The people boo him again but Reigns says he’s not a bad guy. He’s not a good guy either. No he’s just THE guy because he won the World Title in the biggest Wrestlemania of all time. If anyone wants to come get this title from him, he’s not going anywhere.

This brings out Chris Jericho, who brags about all his successes, which are far stronger than anything Reigns has ever done. Jericho stops though and calls out the fans for their stupid chants because they’re not going to hijack the show. Fans: “WE ARE IDIOTS!” Jericho rips on the internet favorite AJ Styles, which brings out Styles himself.

Before he can say anything though, here’s Kevin Owens. Again nothing is said though because Sami Zayn comes out, likely due to his leash to Owens getting a bit too tight. Owens and Zayn go right at it and fight to the floor with Zayn hitting a big flip dive. AJ is sent outside and Jericho eats a spear.

Of note: Zayn seemed to land awkwardly on that flip dive and BOLTED to the back with his arm dangling by his side. He ran off while the lights were down so most people couldn’t see him but it was definitely visible.

We look back at Vince agreeing to let Shane run Raw.

Back from a break and Shane makes a four way between Zayn, Owens, Jericho and Styles for the #1 contendership. Reigns thinks that’s just fine.

Baron Corbin vs. Dolph Ziggler

Before the match, Corbin says all you need to know about him is this trophy. Ziggler hammers away in the corner but gets elbowed in the face for his efforts. A forearm knocks Ziggler off the apron and we take a break. Back with Ziggler in a nerve hold and the fans cheering for a beach ball because some nitwit fan felt the need to pull one out and bat it around.

This would be during the Raw debut of an NXT talent that the same people probably begged to be promoted for months while chanting for NXT. I’d also be willing to bet that they’ll blame Vince for not pushing Corbin properly while Vince’s reaction is “they saw him in his first match and would rather play with a beach ball.” BUT THEY’RE JUST HAVING FUN! Anyway Corbin misses a charge and hits the post, setting up a neckbreaker for two. Deep Six gets the same for Corbin and they head outside into the crowd for the double countout at 8:32.

Rating: D+. This was an awkward one as Ziggler was kind of being squashed but is too big of a star for that treatment and tried to fight back but couldn’t make it work. Corbin looked good but I’m not sure why they didn’t just have him get the win here. It’s not like Ziggler can’t bounce back from a dozen losses or anything like that so just give Corbin the big win here. At least he didn’t lost though.

Post match Corbin gives him the End of Days on the floor.

We look back at Lesnar destroying Ambrose last night.

Here’s Zack Ryder with something to say. When Ryder was a kid he got to meet Razor Ramon and hold the Intercontinental Title. Well last night they took another picture with Ramon holding Ryder’s title, which makes for a really good pair of photos. Ryder thanks his dad (in the front row) but here’s Miz to interrupt. Last night Ryder stole what belongs to Miz and now it’s time to show that Ryder is just a flash in the pan. That means it should be time for a title shot right now. Ryder says Woo Woo Woo let’s do this.

Intercontinental Title: Zack Ryder vs. The Miz

Ryder is defending of course. Miz can’t get in an early Reality Check so Ryder dropkicks him for two. A baseball slide sends Miz into the barricade and we take a break. Back with Ryder getting knocked to the floor like the jobber that he is. Ryder fights back with some clotheslines but misses a dropkick, setting up the low DDT for two. The Rough Ryder misses but Ryder counters a suplex with a neckbreaker. I’ve always liked that counter.

The Elbow gets two on Miz but the Broski Boot misses. They head outside in front of Zack’s dad, so as you might expect, Miz is shoved down by Ryder Sr. To be fair, Zack’s dad is in better shape than half the roster. Fans: “MR. RYDER!” This brings out Maryse of all people (Miz’s wife) to slap Papa Ryder in the face, which is enough of a distraction for Miz to hit the Skull Crushing Finale for the pin and the title at 10:26.

Rating: D. Yeah this didn’t work. You can push Ryder as having a big moment all you want but at the end of the day, he’s still the same Zack Ryder who has been a jobbing goon for years now. It would be a stretch to have him beat Miz in the first place and an even bigger stretch to have him beat Miz to retain the title. As I’ve said already though, this was pretty clearly Neville’s spot and he would have fit better, but I’m not sure who else they could have put here, especially if Miz is just getting the title back so soon.

Also of note: Lillian started to get in the ring to announce a match before Miz came out at all. This led to what looked like quite an argument at ringside which went on for a bit between Lillian and a producer.

Owens says he lost the title because he was in the ring with six other guys so the loss was hardly fair. Last night Sami Zayn stole the title from him but now it’s on to bigger and better things, like winning the WWE World Title. Sami cost him the Intercontinental Title last night but he’s not costing him the World Title tonight. The road to KO Mania II begins tonight.

The Vaudevillains are coming on Smackdown.

All of the women including Lita come for the formal presentation of the Women’s Title. Lita talks about not having many role models to look up to as a kid. That’s not the case for the youngest generation today though because this division has never been stronger. Charlotte is introduced but the fans cut her off by wanting some Bayley. She says this title is about all the women in this ring who made this happen and because of all the fans…..who won’t stop singing about how they want Bayley. JBL: “These people are rude.”

Charlotte finally goes with the heel stuff by saying she won the title, but now the fans are on a WOMEN’S WRESTLING chant. The real credit goes to Ric Flair though because she got her here. The energy from the fans fueled her to her victory. It makes her laugh that she hasn’t even been here for a year while some of the less successful women have been here seven or eight years.

Sasha and Becky walk out and the rest of the women follow, save for Natalya. Somehow this turns into an argument over the Harts and the Flairs because that’s still a thing they’re pushing. Also ignore the fact that we just saw Charlotte vs. Natalya and haven’t gotten Sasha vs. Charlotte in a one on one feud yet. Natalya puts her in the Sharpshooter until Ric makes the save.

AJ Styles says it’s a new beginning and the start of a new era. That new era is going to be phenomenal.

Video on Primo and Epico, who really like Puerto Rico. This might actually be a downgrade from Los Matadores.

Usos vs. Dudley Boyz

Tables match. It’s a brawl to start of course and they head outside as JBL talks about his tables matches against Bubba and D-Von. Jimmy gets slammed to set up What’s Up but Bubba won’t do GET THE TABLES. The Usos pop up and dive onto the Dudleyz and we take a break. Back with Jey breaking up a superplex through the table as the fans are almost entirely behind the Dudleyz.

Jimmy dives over a table and onto Bubba with a splash. A double superkick breaks up a double powerbomb attempt, followed by the Usos running the barricade for a double dive. Back in and the Superfly splashes miss but drive the Usos through the tables. Apparently that’s enough to give the Dudley Boyz the win at 8:53, even though it’s long since been established that you have to drive them through a table using an offensive move. They’re not announced as the winners and JBL acknowledges that it was an early bell.

Rating: D. A lot of these matches really aren’t working for me and a lot of that is due to this match not needing to happen. I’d assume we’ll get a third match between them soon enough because the world is waiting on seeing who gets the advantage in a feud that isn’t interesting in the first place. The Usos need a new direction because they’re getting less and less interesting every time they come out.

Sami Zayn says he’s been in every kind of match around the world. He talks about wrestling around the world when Kevin Owens jumps him and gives him a powerbomb through a table.

Post break the Dudleyz are still at ringside yelling…..and here come Enzo and Cass to the pop of the night. Cole: “If you haven’t got a sample of them…..well some would say you’re in for a treat.” The fans start a loud HOW YOU DOIN chant before Enzo talks about being a smack talker skywalker with a lightsaber in his hand. The Dudleyz are still standing in the aisle and Enzo thinks they’re jealous because they’re ugly.

Bubba and D-Von look almost scared at how stupid this sounds but Enzo says he’ll use the gift of jab to knock that lazy eye back into place. Enzo: “Fall back like your hairline!” Cass invites the Dudleyz down for a fight but they back off like true heels. That’s enough for Cass to declare them SAWFT to wrap this up. Yeah the insults were kind of lame but this was all about the delivery and the reaction and these guys look like stars.

Zayn is officially out of the four way but a replacement will be named.

Ryder gets his rematch on Smackdown.

Dr. Phil will be the guest star next week. Why? No reason of course but he’s a celebrity and therefore interesting.

Kevin Owens vs. Chris Jericho vs. AJ Styles vs. ???

The mystery entrant is……Cesaro, who was the most likely option and very well received by the fans. If nothing else we get a cool new entrance as Cesaro comes out in a tear away suit with trunks underneath. AJ and Jericho fight in one corner with the other two across the ring before it’s off to AJ vs. Cesaro to a very nice reaction. A tilt-a-whirl backbreaker drops AJ for two and we take a break.

Back with Jericho suplexing Styles but Cesaro gets back in, only to have Owens break up the Swing. The big guys head outside again as Jericho loads up a superplex on AJ, only to have Owens and Cesaro come back in to make it a Tower of Doom. With everyone else down, Cesaro starts running the corners for European uppercuts, only to have Owens get a boot up. AJ enziguris Kevin but walks into Swiss Death. Jericho clotheslines Cesaro outside but gets jumped by his fellow Canadian.

The package side slam gets two on Jericho, who avoids a Cannonball. The Lionsault hits knees though, only to have AJ hit the springboard 450 for two of his own. Owens gets back again and tells AJ to stay down with his stupid haircut but Cesaro gets back in and sends both of them into the corner for rotating European uppercuts. Jericho takes over a third corner and now it’s time for triple rotating uppercuts.

Chris breaks it up but dives into the Swing as it’s all Cesaro at this point. Owens superkicks AJ to block a springboard and there’s the Pop Up Powerbomb for two on Styles. A Codebreaker gets the same on Owens with Cesaro making the save. Cesaro gets caught in the Walls but he reverses into the Sharpshooter to a big reaction. AJ makes the save with the forearm to Cesaro and Peles Owens to the floor, only to eat a Codebreaker for two. A quick backslide attempt has Jericho in trouble but AJ keeps rolling forward into the Clash for the pin and the title shot at 16:44.

Rating: B+. This match was a blast with four potential winners until Styles pulled off the big surprise pin. I’m not sure where Cesaro goes after this as you would assume Sami vs. Owens for Payback so maybe Cesaro gets Jericho. Styles vs. Reigns could be something interesting if they build it up properly but it could also be a borderline disaster with the fans booing Reigns out of the building.

AJ celebrated for a very long time after the show went off the air.

Overall Rating: B-. I had a good time here, despite some big holes in a lot of what was going on. The Raw after Wrestlemania isn’t about the in ring action but rather all the events that take place. Cesaro returning, Shane taking over Raw (and seems to be more off camera than the Authority, which is already a huge plus) and a bunch of debuts are a good sign and there should be some fun matches going into Payback, even though a lot of them aren’t hard to figure out. This may not have been a great, blow away show but it showed some promise going forward which is all it needed to do.

Results

New Day b. Sheamus/King Barrett – Midnight Hour to Barrett

Sasha Banks b. Summer Rae – Bank Statement

Apollo Crews b. Tyler Breeze – Lifting powerbomb

Baron Corbin vs. Dolph Ziggler went to a double countout

Miz b. Zack Ryder – Skull Crushing Finale

Dudley Boyz b. Usos – The Usos went through tables

AJ Styles b. Chris Jericho, Cesaro and Kevin Owens – Styles Clash to Jericho

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