Ladies and gentlemen, it’s finally here. RAW after ‘Mania. The most anticipated Raw of the year, coming fresh off the heels of WrestleMania 32. A show that I can’t quite put into words as anything but confusing and exhausting. If you want the full review and rundown, check out Trask’s masterclass of a review of the whole nearly 7 hour affair, here, the man put in some serious work so give it a read. Despite my own gripes and dislikes about last night, I am thrilled about tonight’s show, as it acts as a true ‘Season Premiere’, we’re definitely gonna see new faces, possibly new champions, and a whole bunch of twists & turns backed by an insane crowd of people. This review also marks one full year of Raw reviews for me, my first ever review was last year’s Raw after Mania. A nearly 12,000 word wall of text that read like a full-fledged script of the show. I was a goddamn lunatic for that, but I’ve grown as a writer, and am proud to still be sitting here delivering the good stuff to you after one year. Enough about me, WWE has some big deliveries to be made tonight, they have a whole damn lot of explaining to do and a lot of excitement to conjure up. I am going full force into this with my excitement levels dangerously high, let’s. do. this.
The show kicks off with commentary literally laying out a disclaimer about the show, describing the crowd as ‘different’. Absolutely HILARIOUS, it’s literally damage control. Vince starts us off and the crowd is immediately in full banter mode, singing along to his theme. Vince says he’s taken care of business and ‘secured the secret’ that Shane was holding over his head. Vince says tonight will be one to remember and goes to walk out but somehow, Shane O’Mac strolls out, somehow intact but not without some visible damage. Shane says he’s here to shake Vince’s hand like a man, and thanks the crowd for supporting him, and it appears to be a somber goodbye for ol’ Shane. Vince says he won’t be upstaged and puts Shane in control of Raw tonight to ‘prove a point’.
New Day and Barrett/Sheamus have one banter-filled match but not a lot of interesting in-ring action. The crowd of course, hijacks the match. This is a very ‘serve an ending purpose’ match here so let’s just jump right to it. Big E and Kofi hit the assisted Big Ending to win and retain. Sheamus grabs a mic right after and says he’s sick and tired of all of it. He says they’re the greatest athletes from across the world, and they should be destroying everyone in the WWE.. but there’s something wrong. Sheamus says everyone knows you’re only as strong as your weakest link… and they turn on Barrett, Sheamus nailing him with a Brogue Kick. The crowd sings him off with a HEY HEY HEY GOODBYE, but the Wyatts appear out of nowhere and beat the hell out of the League, signifying a beautiful face turn as the crowd sings HE’S GOT THE WHOLE WORLD IN HIS HANDS and BRAY IS GONNA KILL YOU! Bray nails a Sister Abigail on Sheamus to end it. Oh man, I’ve been waiting for that one. Looks like that’s Barrett’s send-off as well, I can’t wait to see that man tear shit up in other promotions.
Summer Rae is out here to banter about last night’s tag match, saying that if she ran her team things would have been different. She insults Sasha and how she wasted her ‘Mania moment, queuing the Boss herself to come out to a massive pop. Sasha reminds Summer that she is STILL The Boss and smacks her across the face. Sasha destroys Summer for the majority of the match and makes Summer tap to the Banks Statement with incredible ease.
Up next, APOLLO CREWS DEBUTS! They even show him talking to Shane before his match! My god, Shane is the true savior.
Never will you see a happier man than Apollo looking at his name on the big titantron. A beautiful showcase for Apollo, already getting big pops from the crowd for his athelicism. Breeze gets some offense in but gets leveled by a kick, the gorilla press and the standing moonsault press from Crews. Crews hits the delayed spin-out bomb, winning the match with a big pop from the crowd. What an awesome thing for Crews, and I’m very interested to see what they do with him.
Oh boy, Reigns is out next and my god THEY ALL HATE HIM. This right here is the reason they did the damage control bit at the start, cause JBL even sputters out a nonsense explanation that IT’S A CRAZY CROWD WHO BOO WHO THEY LOVE AND CHEER WHO THEY HATE. Reigns says he’s not a bad guy, or a good guy, he’s THE GUY to massive boos. Reigns says he came out here to fight anyone who thinks they can take the title from him and throws the mic. The crowd gets hyped only for Dad of the Year Jericho to come out. Jericho wants the shot and even says that he ‘buried AJ Styles’ last night, prompting Styles to come out.. but so does Owens.. and Zayn! A big brawl breaks out with Reigns standing tall after spearing Jericho to massive boos. They looked to have something with Reigns’ short and sweet speech at the start, but still set him up to be the least cared about guy in the entire situation. Shane confronts Reigns backstage and confirms the fatal-4-way main event to determine the #1 Contender to his title. Hoooly shit.
Banter Corbin grabs a mic, saying he doesn’t care if you don’t know who he is. His arrival signals the end of days for anyone who stands in his way, and so the death of Dolph Ziggler commences! Some drama over a security guard taking away a beach ball happened that took away the crowds attention to this match, even chants for the beach ball broke out. Very solid back and forth match, trading move for move, Ziggler hitting a Famouser nearly getting the three, and Corbin nearly getting the three with a huge Deep Six. Corbin boots Ziggler into the barricade and the ref calls the count out. Baron continues the destruction and nails an End of Days on Ziggler on the outside. Not really sure why Dolph was so heavily protected here? Why not have Corbin beat Ziggler clean after winning that battle royale? Strange, but this was all a pretty good way to put over Baron’s destructive power and such. The crowd wasn’t too into it, but they popped decently for the Deep Six & End of Days.
You know it’s Raw after ‘Mania when the scoops that people are tweeting about are about the dramatic beach ball situation, apparently they are respawning at a disturbing rate. Out of control.
Lillian accidentally announces an IC title match and they cut her goddamn mic, but the damage is already done. Zack Ryder is out with a mic and a YOU DESERVE IT chant breaks out. Zack goes over how amazing the moment was, talking about how as a kid, he held Razor Ramon’s title, and last night, Razor held his title which is legitimately fucking awesome. Zack Ryder thanks his dad at ringside. Miz interrupts and says Zack ruined his moment, and challenges him to a title match to prove himself. Zack says he’s got nothing to prove and Miz taunts him into accepting. Thus.. we have this. Poor Lillian.
Not the match to deliver to this crowd, but if they wanted to silence them they sure did a good job. You could hear the smallest pin drop. This match isn’t necessarily bad or anything it’s just.. nothing. The crowd doesn’t want to see this on the Raw after ‘Mania. Miz argues with Zack’s dad at ringside and Maryse appears and gets involved, after all the chaos, Miz hits the Skull Crushing Finale on Ryder to win the match and the title. He stands tall with Maryse. So yeah, I don’t fuckin’ get a single thing that just happened but Maryse still looks gorgeous and that’s pretty much all I can conjure up to say about this! Movin’ on!
The official crowning of Charlotte winning the new women’s title is up, Lita doing the honors with all the women standing by, Sasha and Becky looking monumentally pissed. The crowd wants Bayley and Cole chimes in with “Bayley is not here!”. Charlotte tries to thank everyone that made this happen, but the crowd sings about Bayley. Charlotte acknowledges them and finally gets a ‘women’s wrestling’ chant, at least they’re not all bad. Charlotte starts talking herself up and the crowd chants for Sasha and Becky, who leave, everyone else following suit. Charlotte yells at them to show respect. Nattie grabs a mic and has had enough. Nattie calls herself the woman who gave Charlotte her hardest matches, and she doesn’t repsect her. Nattie says she has the heart of a champion, and challenges Charlotte to a match. Charlotte says her family will always be better and Nattie has had enough and puts her in the Sharpshooter, Ric helping Charlotte escape right quick. Huh, well, looks like we’re reverting back to this feud? Not necessarily a bad thing but.. why?
A hilarious vignette plays hyping the re-re-debut of Primo & Epico, no idea where it’s going but it looks ridiculous.
Not really sure what to say about this match. There’s nothing happening on this Raw and the crowd is tired, so tired. They’re not even shitchanting anymore! They’ve been given nothing to be overly excited about since hour one, and this match is during the mid-point of the third hour. A Gable & Jordan chant break out and Cole says they’re chanting for tables. Usos go for the Splash through the tables but the Dudleyz move and Usos go through the tables. The timekeeper fucks up and rings the bell, Bubba grabs an Uso and throws him through another table and yells NOW WE WON, NOW YOU RING THE BELL. Outstanding.
Zayn gets taken out backstage by Owens, and it seems like this was to write him off. Deep, sad, sigh.
The Dudleyz are still out here after that, and finally, we get the debut of ENZO & CASS~! They do their opening bit, the whole crowd doing it along. Enzo says he’s got a micsaber for a hater, and we got a couple haters, pointing to the Dudleyz. Enzo says hate is love disguised by jealousy and he’d be jealous of them too cause they are UGLY. Enzo says he’ll CONNECT 4 D’Vons DOMEPIECE and put his lazy eye back to work! JESUS GOD. Enzo brings the unbelievable banter to the Dudleyz and tells Bubba to step back like his hairline. I am DYING over here trying to type. The Dudleyz step up for a fight but back down quickly, leading to Big Cass leading the crowd in a chant of S-A-W-F-T SAWWWWWFT~! Instant. Fucking. Stars. That’s all that needs to be said about this, it was amazing and woke up the crowd in the BEST way. Enzo and Cass on the main is gonna be beautiful.
Here we go. It was announced that Sami would get replaced by a mystery 4th man and it’s… C E S A R O. THE SWISS GOD HAS RETURNED TO US. AND HE HAS BLESSED US WITH THE BEST GIF EVER.
— WWE (@WWE) April 5, 2016
Nearly right off the bat we get a Styles/Cesaro staredown and I am losing my goddamn mind. Cesaro hasn’t missed a beat which is not at all surprising, I certainly missed those stiff euro uppercuts. Owens, Jericho and Styles go for a crazy suplex set-up spot on the top rope and Cesaro capitalizes with a BIG POWERBOMB to destroy them all, and pops Styles in the air and cracks him on the way down with the uppercut. What a goddamn match to close Raw here, spots after spots. Styles and Jericho have a great sequence with Styles busting out the springboard 450. Cesaro re-solidfies himself as the biggest workhorse in the company in one night, drilling everyone with countless corner uppercuts. Jericho finally counters and goes off the top but gets caught into the Cesaro Swing! Owens breaks it up and the fight continues. Cesaro and Jericho get into a great grapplin’ fest for a few, Cesaro getting Jericho into the Sharpshooter, and Styles breaking it up with the Phenomenal Forearm. An incredibly worked match with awesome spots and great nearfalls at the closing stretch. Styles rolls a backslide pin on Jericho into the STYLES CLASH and gets the three count off of it!!! Styles is the #1 Contender!
Wow, just wow. I did not expect that at all, I was fully expecting Jericho to win, and I think the crowd did too because they IMPLODED when Styles got the three count. Reigns vs. Styles is gonna be insane, what a time to be alive. One helluva conclusion to the Raw after ‘Mania. Not really a show that lived up to expectations and not what I’d call good by any means, but when they delivered, they made sure it was pretty damn big deliveries. Crews, Corbin and Enzo & Cass being the new faces is pretty damn cool. Cesaro returning and not missing a damn step and proving that he’s still one of the best workhorses in wrestling was amazing. But the show certainly had some very, very weak spots that they shouldn’t have had on such a big show, a lot of their direction seems screwy and there’s a lot of stuff that seems like it’s going to go nowhere or just fizzle out. (i.e. this sure to be ongoing Ryder/Miz/Maryse angle). Though I guess all that really pales in comparison when you think about AJ Styles being the #1 Contender to the world title. They’ve planted all the seeds, now we have to watch how they grow. Thank you for reading, a huge thank you to those who have been reading since the beginning. Here’s to another year. Cheers.