Monday Night Raw
Date: April 16, 2018
Location: XL Center, Hartford, Connecticut
Commentators: Michael Cole, Corey Graves, Jonathan Coachman
It’s time to change things up a lot with the first half of the Superstar Shakeup. In case you didn’t get enough new names last week, this time around we should be getting a bunch of Smackdown names heading over to the red show. How will the names be picked? Who might be coming? That’s not important enough to announce in advance so let’s get to it.
Here’s General Manager Kurt Angle to start things off. He gives us a quick introduction but here’s Sunil Singh to announce that Jinder Mahal is now on Raw. Jinder isn’t happy that he was brought here in an SUV because he only travels in a limousine with a motorcade. Angle doesn’t like some of this but wants to be treated like Brock Lesnar around here. Kurt suggests that Jinder email him his issues and gives Sunil his address: Kurt.Angle (which he has to spell) @ NOFREAKINGWAY.com. We settle things in the ring here so it’s time for a title match RIGHT NOW.
US Title: Jinder Mahal vs. Jeff Hardy
Mahal is defending. The fans are behind Hardy (because they have taste) as he slugs away in the corner. A dropkick to the back of the head and a clothesline off the apron rock Mahal and we take a break. Back with Jeff in a chinlock for a good while until a big right hand drops him on the apron. Jeff is fine enough to shove him off the top though and the Whisper in the Wind gets a breather.
Sunil gets dropkicked down (and hopefully shut up) and a basement dropkick gets two on his boss. Things are starting to pick up but a jumping knee to the face looks to set up the Khallas (which Cole calls a half nelson slam). Jeff slips out so a big boot to the face gives Mahal two more. A Twisting Stunner out of nowhere drops Mahal though and the Swanton gives Hardy the title at 11:27.
Rating: C-. Not a great match (to be fair, Mahal) but Jeff winning the title is a great way to get him back on the fast track (and to give hope to impaired drivers everywhere). Hopefully Mahal falls WAY down the ladder now, though I’m curious to see what happens to Orton’s title shot as a result. Just please not another triple threat. Is that too much to ask for?
Post break Jinder rants about being disrespected and wants his rematch at the Greatest Royal Rumble. No Way Jose with the Conga Line interrupts and takes Renee Young off with him.
Bayley vs. Sasha Banks
This is a grudge match after weeks of simmering tensions. Bayley slips off the middle rope but shrugs off a chop and throws Sasha out to the floor. A hurricanrana through the ropes drops Sasha and we take a break. Back with Sasha holding a chinlock until Bayley drives her into the corner for a break. That’s certainly a different one and I’ll take that over the traditional elbows to the ribs.
The Stunner over the middle rope keeps Sasha in trouble so she kicks Bayley in the head and sends her outside again. This isn’t exactly seething with hatred so far. Back in and the top rope double knees get two before it’s time for the trash talk. Sasha goes one step too far and slaps Bayley in the face, triggering what looks like a hockey fight. Sasha gets the better of it again and hits the running knees in the corner. Bayley tries a rollup but gets reversed into the Bank Statement. She’s in big trouble but here’s the Riott Squad for the no contest at 8:55.
Rating: C. This was cranked up from a five to a twelve in the last two minutes or so but I’m assuming they’ll save the big match for later. The Riott Squad to Raw makes sense as Absolution has no reason to stay together and the Iconics can be the villainous group over on Smackdown. I’m fine with everything here, including Bayley vs. Sasha once they turned it up.
Sasha and Bayley take another beating post match.
Heath Slater and Rhyno are ready for the Authors of Pain tonight.
Heath Slater/Rhyno vs. Authors of Pain
Slater and Rhyno jump the Authors before the bell and actually take over. A top rope ax handle drops Akum but he shoves Slater away and brings in Rezar. Slater gets lifted up for a double gutbuster but slips out of a powerslam for the hot tag to Rhyno. A belly to belly gets two on Rezar but Slater gets sent HARD to the floor. The Last Chapter ends Rhyno at 2:37.
It’s time for MizTV with some special guests who will change Raw forever: Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens, who Cole flat out said COULD NOT be included in the Shakeup. Cole brings it up again here but Coach and Graves basically tell him to get over it. The five of them have a group hug with Miz saying this is better than the NWO and calls the team better than the Avengers. They won’t be held down by Shane McMahon or Kurt Angle, the latter of whom comes out with a rebuttal.
Apparently this can’t happen but Owens says plans have changed. There was an email sent out earlier tonight and Sami has printed it out. With his glasses on (that’s funny for some reason), Sami reads that Angle’s decision on Sami and Kevin’s status has been overturned because Stephanie McMahon thinks they proved themselves last week.
Owens is thrilled but Angle has some news: Miz is now going to Smackdown, as per Daniel Bryan’s request. Miz takes it in stride but gets even more bad news: the Miztourage is staying on Raw. For a going away present though, the five of them can face Finn Balor, Seth Rollins, Bobby Lashley, Braun Strowman and someone making their Raw debut.
Tag Team Title Eliminator Finals: Revival vs. Matt Hardy/Bray Wyatt
The winners face the Bar, on commentary, for the titles in Saudi Arabia. Matt’s I WILL DELETE YOU now leads into Bray’s music for a combined entrance. Dawson and Hardy start things off with Scott not being able to do much with the odd Matt. It’s off to Bray and Wilder with Wyatt doing his spider bridge, allowing Matt to offer a distraction. A double back elbow (with Bray’s not quite connecting) puts Wilder down and Bray slams Scott on top of him. Matt: “That move was WONDERFUL!”
Back in and the Revival elbows Matt down with Scott grabbing a chinlock. Dawson draws Bray in to keep Matt in trouble, including a double headbutt. Matt gets in a Side Effect and the hot tag brings in Bray for the big right hands. A running corner splash and release Rock Bottom have Wilder in trouble. Everything breaks down and Sister Abigail plants Dawson, followed by an elevated Twist of Fate to end Dawson at 5:06.
Rating: C-. Nothing special here with the right team winning. Revival is in need of a change but there’s only so much you can do when the Bar is the top team on the show. They’re better off facing teams like the Usos and New Day, but the big power team on Smackdown doesn’t make things much better. In other words, it’s a bad time to be an old school tag team.
Video on the shows coming together for pay per views, in the form of both rosters coming together for a big song ala We Are The World. This is uh, overthinking things a bit.
Back from a break and the Bar runs into the Fashion Police. Fandango: “Do you have a permit for that mohawk?” The kilts are too much for them and the Bar gets tickets. They’re so mad that they yell as the Fashion Police leave.
Recap of everyone who came to Raw both last week and tonight.
We recap Ronda Rousey attacking Stephanie McMahon last week and hurting her arm even worse.
Rousey is in the back with Angle when the debuting Natalya comes in. It turns out that she and Rousey are old training partners and Natalya seems happy. Nothing else happens in a kind of odd segment, though you can probably bet on Natalya vs. Rousey at Backlash.
Ember Moon vs. Mickie James
Nia Jax is on commentary and Bliss, who isn’t here, is supposed to be. Mickie grabs a headscissors to start before forearming the heck out of Ember. We hit the chinlock and go split screen to hear from Nia…..whose reaction we see instead of the match. Basically Alexa calls Nia a bully and won’t give her the satisfaction of being out here. Moon fights up but gets dropped again with a neckbreaker for two. A suplex serves her a bit better and the flipping forearm in the corner rocks Mickie. The Eclipse (with Mickie flipping over like Rock taking a Stunner) gives Ember the pin at 4:37.
Rating: D+. Kind of a dull match but the Eclipse is all that matters with Moon. There’s a good chance that she’ll wind up facing Nia for the title one day soon and that could make for a nice brawl. Moon might not be the best choice in the world but she’s a shot in the arm for the division, which is needed with Nia in charge.
Owens and Zayn are worried about the ten man tag when Miz comes in to ask how Shane is at the moment. Sami doesn’t want to hear about it right now because they have bigger things to worry about tonight. The Miztourage is talking about something else but Miz calls them over, saying mourn tomorrow and focus today. This is Miz’s Raw finale so it needs to be must see. It seems like he has an idea.
Dolph Ziggler is back on Monday Night Raw and talks about how great he is. Cue Titus Worldwide to offer him a spot on the team. Ziggler doesn’t think so, but he’s also not on Raw alone. Cue Drew McIntyre, now a heel, and apparently aligned with Ziggler. The big beatdown is on and a Claymore/Zig Zag combo drops Apollo. The fans seem very pleased with McIntyre being back, but don’t worry: Ziggler will suck the life out of that as soon as possible.
Here’s Roman Reigns to talk about how he’s here again tonight, unlike Brock Lesnar. He’ll win the title in Saudi Arabia and bring it back here full time. Cue Samoa Joe to say Reigns is a great talker but never talks about getting the job done. I remember him doing plenty of jobs. Joe talks about how Reigns can never put him away and at Backlash, he’ll put Reigns to sleep again.
We see a video of Lesnar destroying Reigns at Wrestlemania so Reigns wants to fight now. Joe comes down the ramp twice before walking away, as expected. Again: if they want Reigns as a big deal, DON’T PUT HIM OUT THERE WITH PEOPLE WHO SLAUGHTER HIM ON THE MIC!
Mandy Rose vs. Natalya
Absolution still comes out to Paige’s music. Natalya gets a rollup for two but a Sonya Deville distraction lets Mandy get in a jumping knee to the face. Back in and we hit an abdominal stretch to keep Natalya in trouble but a quick Sharpshooter makes Mandy tap at 2:49.
Post match Sonya comes in for the beatdown but Ronda Rousey (awkwardly) walks down the ramp for the save. Deville actually wants to fight so Rousey gives her a look as if to say “seriously?” Rousey knocks Deville out in all of five seconds, hitting about ten punches and a legsweep to send Deville packing.
Baron Corbin is coming to Raw. Is anyone left on Smackdown?
Breezango vs. The Bar
Fandango steals Cesaro’s jacket to start and throws it on, followed by a hip swivel while blocking a sunset flip. Breeze comes in and eats Swiss Death to change control in a hurry. We hit the chinlock from Cesaro, followed by one from Sheamus to really mix things up. Cesaro gets two off a Demolition Decapitator but Fandango pulls Sheamus off the apron, allowing Breeze to get a sunset flip for the pin on Cesaro at 3:49.
Rating: D+. So we have two options here: a triple threat at Greatest Royal Rumble or ignoring this match for the sake of illogical booking. Breezango has potential to be a very nice team but for some reason they’ve lost a lot of steam. That might change here with no Usos or New Day to outshine them and I heartily appreciate this.
Elias isn’t playing tonight and doesn’t think much of Lashley. A lot has changed since Lashley was last here so he should go sit in the stands and worship Elias like everyone else. If Lashley interrupts him again, he’ll learn that WWE stands for Walk With Elias. Elias won’t perform for the people, but he might for Renee in a private concert. All she has to do is hold her applause and silence her cell phone. She says we don’t have time so he starts playing, only to be cut off to throw it back to Cole.
Seth Rollins/Bobby Lashley/Braun Strowman/Finn Balor/??? vs. The Miz/Miztourage/Sami Zayn/Kevin Owens
The mystery partner is…Bobby Roode. Rollins and Owens start things off with Kevin missing a charge into the corner. The springboard clothesline drops Owens and Seth sends him outside for the slingshot dive. The good guys clear the ring and it’s off to a break. Back with Balor in trouble and Axel driving him into the corner to continue the beating. The Reality Check drops Balor for two but he kicks Miz away, allowing the hot tag to Lashley. House is cleaned again and we take a second break with Lashley looking great in his short burst.
Back again with Owens hammering on Rollins and putting on that unbreakable chinlock. Miz grabs the short DDT and busts out the YES Kicks one more time before going over to Smackdown. Everything breaks down with Strowman shoving around Owens and Zayn before Roode takes over on Axel. A chop block cuts Roode down but he counters the Figure Four into a small package for two. The hot tag brings in Strowman to clean house, including a chokeslam to Miz.
Strowman runs into Dallas in the corner, which is called him hitting the post for reasons of bad timing. Seth dives onto Axel and the Glorious DDT drops Sami. The parade of finishers begins until we’re down to Miz vs. Strowman with the running dropkicks actually staggering the big man. Strowman comes back with a dropkick of his own and the Miztourage walks out on Miz, leaving Strowman to powerslam him for the pin at 22:11.
Rating: C+. Nice main event tag to wrap things up, especially with the Miztourage turning on Miz, as they should. Miz is the kind of guy who can take a loss like this and then regroup on Smackdown without missing a beat. Just give him Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin as the new Miztourage (like they have anything better to do) and he’ll be fine. Lashley looked great here, but the rest were kind of lost in the shuffle. Not a bad way to end the show though, as we needed a longer match for a change.
Overall Rating: B-. I was mostly liking the show, though I liked the original version last week a little bit better. This felt very similar to the post Wrestlemania show and again shows why this needed to be done around Summerslam instead of a week after Wrestlemania. They had a bunch of big names come over to Raw but they need several going to Smackdown to balance this out again. Right now Smackdown is looking barren and some fresh talent could help them out a lot. I liked this show well enough though and it worked well in almost every area it needed to.
Jeff Hardy b. Jinder Mahal – Swanton Bomb
Sasha Banks vs. Bayley went to a no contest when the Riott Squad interfered
Authors of Pain b. Heath Slater/Rhyno – Last Chapter to Rhyno
Matt Hardy/Bray Wyatt b. Revival – Elevated Twist of Fate to Wilder
Ember Moon b. Mickie James – Eclipse
Natalya b. Mandy Rose – Sharpshooter
Braun Strowman/Seth Rollins/Finn Balor/Bobby Lashley/Bobby Roode b. The Miz/Miztourage/Sami Zayn/Kevin Owens – Running powerslam to Miz
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