Welcome back to the Raw review, delivered hot and fresh out the oven by yours truly. We’re still coming down from the ‘Mania high, and WWE is capitalizing on it with.. hm… Dr. Phil. Yeah, Dr. Phil. We’ll get into that later. Announced earlier today, Shane O’Mac will be in control once again tonight ‘due to overwhelming social media support’, because WrestleMania didn’t matter. Yeah, ‘social media support’, that’s certainly one way to go about it. We’ll see what difference that makes in the show. Whether it is high, or low, or a complete mess, I’m your captain of the boat, steering you directly into a giant whirlpool. Let’s dive right into it, shall we?
Here comes the MONEY and the interim GM 2 weeks running. Shane says he’s running Raw at Vince’s own personal amusement. He thanks the crowd for their support. Shane says let’s get back on track with new superstars and fresh match-ups. Shane announces Charlotte vs. Nattie for the women’s title, and a tag team tournament to determine the #1 contender to the titles, and Zayn vs. Styles (!!!), if Zayn wins, the title match at Payback becomes a TRIPLE THREAT~! KO interrupts (of course) and says Shane must have knocked a few screws loose at Mania if he thinks Zayn deserves a title shot. Owens says he feels screwed over, but Shane reminds him that he screwed Zayn last week. KO demands a rematch for his IC title tonight. Shane says he’ll have to earn it, in a match with Cesaro(!!!!!!!!) right now! Winner is the #1 Contender. Well shit! This Raw’s hype levels certainly skyrocketed real quick.
Cesaro’s suit-tear entrance was already the best thing in the company, but now he has a 007 minitron. The GOAT. Owens calls himself the headlock master while slapping one on but then Cesaro does some fast switching headlocks to take that title from him. Owens knocks over JBL’s hat but picks it up and says he got carried away. Another GOAT. Owens works over the surgically repaired shoulder of Cesaro for the match, but Cesaro gets momentum back with the running uppercuts with the good shoulder. Cesaro being back is amazing in so many ways, especially him shooting to the top of the workhorse list with only a few matches after being out for so long. Cesaro hits a crossbody from the top but KO rolls through into a crossface, Cesaro nearly taps but rolls through into a sharpshooter! KO gets the break in the ropes and hits a goddamn HIGH FLY FLOW from the top, and gets a very close nearfall. Cesaro nails a springboard twisting uppercut and goes for the swing and gets only a few rotations before he drops KO and sells the shoulder more, EXCELLENT stuff there. KO takes advantage by attacking the shoulder again and goes for the pop-up powerbomb but Cesaro rolls through, deadlifts him and hits the damn Neutralizer for the win! Definitely not surprising that these two tore it up but MY GOD did they ever. Awesome match with excellent selling by Cesaro, he never stopped selling it, even when he hit the Neutralizer he immediately grabbed at his shoulder in pain. Cesaro is the best TV worker man. I can’t wait to see him with that beautiful white belt.
Charlotte and Ric are backstage and Charlotte is complaining about her title match and who walks in but the soul-less hillbilly himself, Dr. Phil. Dr. Phil psychoanalyzes Charlotte’s leaning on her father and how she should stand on her own two feet with that grating yelling voice he does where he sounds like he has a tin cup taped to his mouth. Echoing throughout the halls are Dr. Phil’s voice. Charlotte storms out and Dr. Phil engages in fiercesome WOOO combat with Ric Flair. Fuckin’ Dr. Phil.
New Day are out to tremendous pops. Xavier says like NBA Jam, the tag team division is ON FIRE~! Big E says it’s time to say goodbye to March Sadness and welcome in the #1 contender’s tourney. They reveal the bracket and the tournament starts right now.
This match started during commercial and we immediately cut to Kalisto down on the floor, evidently hurt from an outside dive which he landed hard on. Doesn’t seem like he’s selling cause he’s out for the whole damn match, and Sin Cara tries to carry two dudes to an improv match but gets sent back to the swirling void with a 3D. Dudleyz advance and I’m hoping Kalisto isn’t too messed up. Out comes Enzo & Cass after the match to a huge pop. Enzo does his opening bit and Bubba calls them two young punks with a lotta nerve and Devon says they’re here because of them. Enzo calls him ‘Devin’ and says he’s here because his mom & dad got it on (howyoudoin’). Big Cass tells them to put on their hardhats and get back to work because there’s only one word to describe them. You know the rest. Enzo’s micwork is untouchable and these two are already stars with every crowd they come out to. Insane charisma.
Speaking of, ahem, charisma, Reigns is out next to the reaction you’d expect at this point. Reigns reiterates his not a good/bad guy, the guy bit from last week. Vince fuckin’ loves that line. Reigns says he’s defending his title against AJ Styles, and maybe Zayn if he can win. Reigns says he respects them but they’ve never won THE championship. The League interrupts real quick and says Reigns wouldn’t be so confident if he was facing one of them. Rusev says Reigns is the guy, well he’s a MAN and he should be the face of the WWE. Reigns says he’s more like the ASS of the WWE. If you could see my face, it’s grimacing to the point of pain. The League comes down to fight Reigns but the Wyatts make the save. Yes, The Wyatts make the babyface save. Shane interrupts and makes the main event for tonight, Reigns & Bray vs The League. Certainly interesting, but it seemed like they had something going with Reigns last week, now he’s back to cringey banter with the LON? That line at Rusev was so bad. So, so bad. This segment seemed to solidify him as still a babyface who’s just kind of a dick. Like a guy who holds a door open for you and says YOU’RE WELCOME very loudly when you don’t say thank you.
Dr. Phil is out for this match, getting a full entrance to no reaction, being played out to music by his son’s band, they even advertise the song on the corner of the screen. Dr. Phil must be harboring some dark McMahon secrets to be pulling all these strings. Anyway, women’s title match! Lots of grapplin’ in this match as they each try to work each other over with holds and submission attempts. Natalya quick offense in but is taken down by Charlotte’s sneaky tactics. Charlotte wears Nattie down with a headscissors. They keep cutting to Dr. Phil in the midst of the match for no reason. More limbwork done as Charlotte tries for the figure eight, gets reversed but turns it into a Sharpshooter that was actually pretty nicely done. Nattie moves out of the way of a moonsault by Charlotte and gets Charlotte in the Sharpshooter, Ric pulls the ref out of the ring as Charlotte taps out and the ref calls for the bell. The nuclear pop for the false finish of Nattie winning the title was astounding, you woulda thought Stone Cold just walked into the building. Lillian announces the winner.. via DQ.. Natalya. Charlotte retains via Ric Flair once again, but the false finish was done well, I will admit, and a very solid match as well.
This match seems too.. not a match to be just a clean win and end with nothing right? We’ll see. Outcasts work over the Usos in your generic heel-dominate-face-comeback style match. The Outcasts celebrate with the BO TRAIN~! and Jimmy Uso rolls up Slater for the win. A very short celebration as they are ambushed by two guys off-screen and it’s KARL F’N ANDERSON AND DOC GALLOWS! Karl and Gallows lay waste to the Usos and hit the Magic Killer! Karl and Gallows destroy them on the outside, Karl hitting a huge clothesline and Doc tossing an Uce into the steps. They leave back through the crowd. They. Have. Arrived. I am so hyped and have been waiting for them to show up for so long. I’m so pumped for Karl to be here, one of my favorites, and Gallows looks like he’s in incredible shape. Holy shit guys. It’s gonna get crazy, isn’t it? The BC has arrived.
Miz is backstage doing a facial cleanse with Maryse at his side, Jojo interrupts and gets torn down by Maryse for being a ‘groupie’. Cesaro interrupts looking like a damn secret agent, and promises a special uppercut for Miz when he takes that title from him. The god.
Styles coming out right after his pals debuted, and you can see him trying to hide the giant smile on his face. A dream debut, and now a dream match. A stalemate, big match pace worked at the start, each guy trying to get the opening momentum but they’re too evenly matched. A huge dropkick by Styles puts it in his corner but it’s back and forth throughout. Styles nails Zayn with a knee off the apron but Zayn responds with a huge dive taking out Styles as we roll to commercial. This match is being worked beautifully, the slow pace fitting these two well because you know they’re gonna turn it up later. Styles pulls out all the stops, the pumphandle gutbuster, the Ushigoroshi, it’s a huge match feel. Zayn responds to everything with a move, a small package that nearly got three, a high flying crossbody but can’t put him away, even the prettiest looking Blue Thunder Bomb gets him a close 2.9. Styles rolls through into the Calf Crusher and Zayn desperately crawls to the ropes to break it. This match has certainly not disappointed, my lord. Zayn nearly DIES flipping out of a sunset flip, landing on his head but getting right up and dropkicking Styles. Zayn goes for the Helluva Kick but Styles counters and nails the Phenomenal Forearm for the three count. Hoo boy, I need to take a few breaths after that. Incredible match, the pace and build-up was on point, the closing minutes were on fire, every nearfall from Sami had the crowd on the edge of their seats. Sami Zayn works the underdog pace so damn well, every big move he hits, you believe he’s got the three. They tore it up here, amazing stuff. An easy WWE MOTYC. Even Shane marked out backstage for them post-match. The future is blindingly bright.
Time for an impromptu Highlight Reel with Jeridad, promising a very special guest, the biggest star in WWE history. Multi-time world champion, Mania main eventer, future HOFer.. himself. Jericho interviews himself and gives the crowd ‘The Gift of Jericho’. Jericho says there’s no one on the roster who can touch him, but out comes the madman himself, Dean Ambrose. Ambrose is out here with a potted plant and a posterboard. Ambrose says it’s his show now. Ambrose pulls out a ‘memo’ from Shane himself saying that the Highlight Reel has been cancelled and replaced by the Ambrose Asylum with Dean. Dean starts to interview Jericho about his terrible scarf but Jericho says he better watch himself or he’ll BURY him. Ambrose asks if he’s gonna tell them about the scarf but Jericho pushes him and receives a Dirty Deeds for his efforts. Not a terrible segment, some actually funny bits. Ambrose can do anything and still be over and heel Jericho is pretty great.
Crews put in the segment of the show where the crowd is dead is no bueno. They popped for his athletic stuff but otherwise, deader than dead. Apollo won with the spin-out powerbomb. Looked very good! It’s just a shame that he was put in the death spot of this crazy Raw.
They play the confusing repackage vignette for Primo & Epico, are they tour guides? I truly do not understand. They also play a Big Banter Corbin hype vignette, real good stuff. A spooky Wyatt video of Bray talking about his ‘unholy bond’ with Reigns, saying you can trust me, with a creepy laugh.
Reigns and Bray have some issues between the two but eventual work together to take out Sheamus and Del Rio. Not a bad match, a pretty short sprint, very odd to see Reigns and Bray on the same side. Reigns counters the double foot stomp and gets the hot tag to Bray. The crowd is on fire for babyface Bray doing the hot tag, it’s unbelievable, WWE may have struck gold with this turn. Sheamus takes out Reigns on the outside and Rusev superkicks Bray when the ref isn’t looking, Del Rio nails a backstabber but Bray kicks out. Strowman and Rowan appear to neutralize the League. Bray hits Sister Abigail on Del Rio outta nowhere for the win to a big pop. Reigns and Bray have a staredown to end the show. Face Wyatt Family may be the best thing WWE has done in a long time, and I hope they roll with it, it could be the perfect way to finally elevate Bray to world title level. Maybe being too optimistic, but that hot tag was crazy!
This week’s Raw played out like a dream show, whatever weird or lame spots it had were completely overshadowing by all the awesome stuff. The opening segment was on fire, Cesaro/Owens was a great opener, Enzo and Cass, the women’s title match was good, KARL & DOC DEBUTING!, Styles/Zayn was incredible, the first match for a babyface Bray was killer. So many great things to talk about coming out of this Raw, and just look at all the talent listed. It’s so surreal to see WWE with the crop of talent it has right now. I haven’t been this excited reviewing Raw in a very long time, I sincerely loved this show y’all. I know it sounds unbelievable, but I really enjoyed it top to bottom. It may be naive and far too optimistic for me to say, but the future is looking very promising. Thank you very much for reading.