Monday Night Raw – April 2, 2018

Monday Night Raw
Date: April 2, 2018
Location: Phillips Arena, Atlanta, Georgia
Commentators: Michael Cole, Corey Graves, Jonathan Coachman

Should he do something? Over the last few weeks, John Cena has come off as a complete jerk to Undertaker, basically demanding that Undertaker come out of what seems to be retirement to face him. Why would Undertaker do this? Well apparently because the people want to see it and nearly thirty years in WWE isn’t enough to make them happy. Or so Cena says. Let’s get to it.

We open with Coach in the ring to emcee a sitdown between Stephanie McMahon (Who dances to the ring and looks like she doesn’t have a care in the world. I know she’s the boss and all that jazz, but could you PLEASE look at least a little worried? It’s Ronda Rousey, not Dana Brooke. This feels like Hollywood Hogan coming to the ring at Starrcade 1997 and that’s not a good thing), HHH, Kurt Angle and Ronda Rousey.

Stephanie mocks the fans for cheering for Rousey and HHH calls Angle’s third I (intelligence) into question. Rousey should be the biggest signing WWE could ever have and Angle is giving her a match on the biggest stage of them all. This is a whopper even for Angle and HHH needs to know why. Rousey cuts Angle off and says she’d like to know too. Why did they sign her under ulterior motives?

Stephanie says Rousey doesn’t quite get how it works around here and promises to teach her the right way after she’s broken down on Sunday. Rousey knows the format and wants her answer so Stephanie says the two of them work for her. Why did Angle cost Rousey (HHH: “And WWE. Thanks Kurt.”) millions of dollars. Angle says she’s RONDA FREAKING ROUSEY and says she’ll make Stephanie tap on Sunday.

HHH laughs it off and we get some questions from Twitter, mainly asking how big this is. Stephanie promises to give Rousey a loss in her first WWE match. Rousey asks if Stephanie is right or left handed. Stephanie: “I’m a rightie.” Rousey: “Good. I just want to make sure you can still sign my checks after I rip your arm off.”

They go for the photo op and a brawl is imminent but HHH breaks it up. Rousey chokes him down but Stephanie slowly slams her through a table. Stephanie brought the annoying here but Rousey’s comeback line (which she stumbled through at the end) wasn’t being topped. If Stephanie doesn’t tap on Sunday though (or at least lose), I don’t know what to tell you.

Bayley vs. Sonya Deville

Bayley wastes no time with a crossbody for two before Sonya goes after the arm. That earns her a takedown out of the corner but Sonya stomps on Bayley to take us to a break. Back with Bayley in a chinlock but fighting back as you might have expected. Bayley knocks her into the corner and goes up top for a high crossbody and no cover. Even Coach wants to know why that wasn’t a cover. Bayley’s running knee to the head gets two and Sonya bails to the floor. That’s not happening as Bayley throws her back in and finishes with a rollup at 9:55.

Rating: D+. Deville isn’t the most interesting character, especially now that you have Rousey as the real MMA woman on the roster. She’s fine in spots like this though and that makes for some perfectly acceptable performances. Bayley was smart for once here by throwing Sonya back in instead of letting her get regrouped with Absolution, meaning her character is actually changing a bit.

Post match the beatdown is on with Sasha Banks running in for the save. Sasha says she wants her hand raised but Bayley will have none of it. A brawl breaks out and Absolution comes back in to beat them both down.

We get a By the Numbers video on Asuka’s streak. This was done before but the numbers are updated here.

265 Wins

0 Losses

35 Women

4 Continents represented

11 Countries represented

8 Former champions submitted

523 Days as NXT Women’s Champion

7th Longest Reign of all time

1st Woman to be a Survivor Series sole survivor and win a Royal Rumble

29 Women defeated in the Royal Rumble

15 Former Women’s Champions in the Rumble

904 Days undefeated

Congratulations to Miz and Maryse’s daughter.

Finn Balor vs. Seth Rollins

Miz is on commentary as they fight over wristlocks to start. With no one being able to get an advantage, Miz gives a heartfelt speech about how he’s main evented Wrestlemania and won the WWE World Title, but watching his daughter being born was the greatest moment of his life. He held her in his arms and heard her cry and then stop crying. Miz wants her to grow up and be able to be proud of her daddy because having a baby changes people. If Miz isn’t a face off that speech, he’s never going to be again. That was very sweet to hear.

Anyway it’s a standoff as we take an early break. Back with Cole asking Miz if the birth of his daughter is going to make him change his in-ring style. Miz seems to say that it will and promises to give the performance of a lifetime on Sunday. Rollins and Balor slug it out until Seth’s Blockbuster gets two. We hit a chinlock on Balor and get a commercial for AJ Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura (good idea actually).

Back (from a split screen) with Balor fighting up and hitting the running forearms to the head. Balor’s Eye of the Hurricane gets two but Rollins sends him outside for a big suicide dive and we take another break. Back with Rollins superkicking Balor’s head off for two as the fans think this is awesome. Rollins gets kicked in the face and the Coup de Grace is loaded up, only to have Rollins hit his superplex.

Balor counters that into a small package for two, followed by Seth’s Wind-Up knee for the same. Rollins’ frog splash hits knees and Balor small packages him for two as the fans are WAY into this. They head outside with Rollins loading up the shoulder destroying Buckle Bomb. That’s countered as well and they head back in with a wicked Stomp finishing Balor at 22:03.

Rating: B+. Oh yeah they were feeling it here but above all else, you can’t ignore Miz’s heartfelt talks about his daughter. She’s only six days old at this point and of course his heart is going to be even more touched than ever. That’s the kind of thing that can get Miz cheered, or at least add another layer to his character. The match rocked as these two have some excellent chemistry together, especially in this kind of a hard hitting, back and forth match.

We recap the opening segment.

Announced for the Kickoff Show: both battle royals and the Cruiserweight Title match.

Long video on Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns, starting with Brock winning the title last year at Wrestlemania, then skipping about eleven months to Reigns winning the Elimination Chamber and the ensuing beatdowns at Brock’s hands.

Kurt Angle runs into Paul Heyman in the back and asks him not to cause any more drama tonight as he’s worried about Lesnar’s well being. Heyman finds this hilarious but promises to keep it civil tonight.

Here’s the Bar to say they don’t care who Braun Strowman has as a partner. At some point he has to tag them in and that means they can retain the titles. Cue Strowman, to say he doesn’t play well with others. He has to have a partner though and that means he’s got one. That partner is someone in the back and the partner doesn’t appreciate what they were saying.

The Bar wants the partner to come say it to their face. Strowman agrees, but only if the partner can have a match with one of them. Sheamus says it’s on so Strowman goes to get the partner, who is just like him. Strowman leaves and comes back….in a white shirt and glasses. Strowman: “My brother is Braun. I’m BRAINS!”

Brains Strowman vs. Cesaro

The Bar goes after Strowman, who takes off the glasses to reveal THE RUSE! A Brogue Kick rocks Braun but he shoves both of them away. The Bar bails and I don’t think we’re having a match. No match. That was an actually funny idea, making me think it must be Wrestlemania season.

Goldust is ready for the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal but Matt Hardy interrupts him to say that Argos of Ancient Greece and even Goliath himself have been training him to win the battle royal in honor of Humongous Wonder #8. Tonight, Goldust is scheduled for DELETION!

Matt Hardy vs. Goldust

Joined in progress with Matt applauding Goldust and getting punched in the face for his efforts. A spinebuster gives Goldust two and we hit a chinlock. Back up and Matt gets two off the Side Effect but Goldust gets the same off a powerslam. The first Twist of Fate doesn’t work but the second attempt ends Goldust at 3:09.

Rating: D. Just a way to give Matt some momentum (the most valuable thing in WWE anymore) going into the battle royal. The fact that Goldust is still going mostly strong all these years later is nothing short of amazing. He’s awesome at staying solid in the ring and it makes for some impressive performances. Matt could wind up winning the battle royal and it wouldn’t be a big surprise.

Post match Matt goes to the trophy and says PROCURE over and over.

Alexa Bliss and Mickie James suggest Nia Jax is fat and ugly. This needs to be the squashiest squash of all squashifications on Sunday.

Here’s John Cena to say he was wrong because there’s no Undertaker. He’s done everything he could to get Undertaker to DO SOMETHING. That’s not going to get Cena to put his head down though because he won’t walk into New Orleans with his head down. Cena isn’t going to have a match because Cena is going to Wrestlemania as a fan. Earlier today, Cole said go enter the Battle Royal or be Strowman’s partner or be in a triple threat match.

That won’t happen because Cena has lost in his last five pay per view matches. After all that, he would be taking a spot from a full time WWE superstar who has worked hard to earn it. That’s so dumb that I’m not even going to touch it so we’ll move on to Cena wanting one last chance. A match vs. Undertaker will be a match where neither is held back. Now Cena will go to Wrestlemania as a fan and he’s proud of it. He can’t wait to see people like Rollins and Bryan and Rusev and Elias perform on the grandest stage of them all.

Cena offers some praise to the women on the show because success isn’t determined by gender. However, there’s one more thing about Undertaker. The fans did what they could to get Undertaker to Wrestlemania but Cena thinks the fans here in Atlanta haven’t tried yet. Cena: “I don’t think you guys can be loud enough.” He says the cheering here sounds like a Dallas warmup. If they want the lightning they need to be the thunder so let him hear it all the way in Death Valley.

The fans chant for Undertaker but get nothing. Cena says that as soon as you ignore the people, you’re a dead man walking. Now it’s clear that Undertaker left his hat in the ring and his balls at home. That gets nothing either so Cena walks away with no response. Are they really waiting for Sunday to announce this? Because that would be really stupid.

Wrestlemania rundown.

Roman Reigns is in the back when Angle comes in. Angle asks him to leave to keep the peace tonight but Reigns is going to listen to what Heyman says. Roman doesn’t think much of Angle’s fear.

Here’s Elias to say Sunday will be the performance of a lifetime but tonight he’s stuck in this horrible city. He’d rather be in a town that matters but it’s time for a song….which is quickly cut off. They never said what Elias will be doing.

Elias vs. Heath Slater

Elias pounds him down to start and the fans are all behind Slater. After some stomping, Drift Away ends Slater at 1:12.

Strowman is in the back when he runs into Curt Hawkins in a PICK ME BRAUN shirt. Braun asks about Hawkins’ win/loss record and throws him through a wall. Strowman: “There’s your big break.” I’m glad they acknowledged Hawkins as an option.

Rundown of the Wrestlemania Week events.

Earlier today, Nia Jax sat down with Renee Young to talk about what’s been going on with Alexa. She thought Alexa was her best friend and was treated horribly again, just like she was as a child. Those comments hurt and took a toll on her and her confidence. She’s looked in the mirror though and remembered that she’s Nia Jax. Nia: “I don’t take this s***”. She’s big, but that’s who she is and she’s proud of it. With tears in her eyes, Nia promises to squash Bliss like a bug on Sunday. Oh…she better.

Alexa Bliss/Mickie James vs. Dana Brooke/Asuka

Dana and Alexa start things off with Brooke throwing her into a fireman’s carry to freak Bliss out a bit. The fans want Asuka but settle for Mickie hitting Brooke in the face. A takedown gives Dana a breather and we take an abrupt break. Back with Bliss holding Brooke in a chinlock but getting suplexed down for a breather. That’s enough for the hot tag to Asuka and it’s time to clean house in short order. Asuka kicks away but gets kicked in the face, giving Mickie two twice in a row. Not that it matters as the Asuka Lock makes Mickie tap at 10:28.

Rating: D. The weird thing is they’ve built up a pretty nice rivalry between Asuka and Bliss despite having no interest in actually doing the match right now. Nia vs. Bliss is going to be a lot of fun if they do it right but I’m not sure what the point is in keeping Asuka on Raw right now. That being said, she’s getting some exposure and that’s a good thing for her going into a huge match.

Post match the double beatdown is on but here’s Nia for the save. She gets Bliss by the hair but Mickie makes the save and takes the beating for her.

Heyman and Lesnar assure Angle that nothing will go wrong.

Here are Heyman and Lesnar with wrestlers guarding the entrance. Heyman doesn’t think much of Angle’s actions tonight, including failing as Rousey’s mentor. We hear about how this Sunday is a battle between the two men who have defeated Undertaker at Wrestlemania. People think that this is going to be Roman Reigns’ coronation and Heyman respects everything about Lesnar.

However, this Sunday, Lesnar is going to pin Reigns 1-2-3 after an F5. Should an act of God happen though and Reigns win, Heyman and Lesnar will never appear on Raw again. If they’re leaving though, Brock will say goodbye from UFC but Heyman needs to say something now. You know this aura that Heyman has built up since 2002 of Lesnar being above everyone else and that no one is worthy of polishing his boots? It’s all true, because no one in the locker room can hold his jock, let alone take his title.

f Reigns thinks he’s having a victory party, he’s going to have to go home to his family on Sunday night to say he got beat by Brock Lesnar. Heyman: “Roman Reigns, you’re just Brock Lesnar’s b****.” That’s enough to bring out Reigns, who asks why the full time talent is protecting Lesnar. They give Reigns a path and it’s time for the in-ring staredown. The fans chant for Roman (remember he played college football in this town) but Lesnar bails to the floor. Lesnar grabs a chair but it gets Superman Punched into his face. Two more have Brock in trouble and a third puts him down. Reigns picks up the title and is promptly F5’d.

Overall Rating: B. This was a mixed bag but above all else, it got the job done by making me more interested in some stuff for Sunday. Reigns vs. Lesnar has me intrigued, mainly because they didn’t push the match down our throats this year. It’s not something I’m dying to see but it should be a good power brawl with a big ending. The rest of the show was good enough to make me care about Sunday and that makes this week a success. Of course none of that matters if Sunday is a bomb (which it shouldn’t be) but this week worked for the most part.

Results

Bayley b. Sonya Deville – Rollup

Seth Rollins b. Finn Balor – The Stomp

Matt Hardy b. Goldust – Twist of Fate

Elias b. Heath Slater – Drift Away

Dana Brooke/Asuka b. Alexa Bliss/Mickie James – Asuka Lock to James

Remember to check out my website at kbwrestlingreviews.com and pick up the paperback edition of the WWE Grab Bag (also available as an e-book) from Amazon. Check out the information here:

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