The post-Mania Raw was full of surprises and returns. This is to be expect every year and this Raw was no different. We saw the NXT call ups of Ember Moon and the Authors of Pain. Both of these were structured excellently and fit right in to the chaos that Raw can be. No way Jose also was called up and beat some local wrestler in about a minute. Im less excited for this, despite being a pretty big fan, mainly because Squash matches should be saved for monsters, not for party animals. Plus, this reeks of the Adam Rose debacle from a few years ago and I severely hate seeing wrestlers gimmicks fail when they’re brought up too early. RAW also saw the return of Samoa Joe and Jeff Hardy….OH AND BOBBY F***ING LASHLEY. There had been some rumblings about it earlier in the day but things like this always happen right after Wrestlemania. Each return came with thunderous applause and were a welcome sight for this Raw roster. Seth Rollins, Finn Balor, and Jeff Hardy took on the Miz and friends, Roman Reigns came out to the ring and played up the being mad at Vince things, Paige retires, and Sasha was taken out by Bayley on accident. The new Raw Tag Team Champions, Braun Strowman and Nicholas, had to relinquish the titles due to Nicholas still being a 10 year old kid who needs to get his learn on. Finally, Kevin and Sami show up to get a job but Uncle Kurt says only one can have one! We got a match! But, both are counted out and there is no winner. No Jobs for them. Kurt takes a jab at TNA and the internet exploded. I believe that’s pretty much it for Raw. There was a decent build up for Backlash and stories seem to progress juuuust a little bit but this episode was about the returns for sure. If I had to pull a Meltzer and rate RAW, I’d give it a solid 3 out of 5.
For our intermission, I’ll tell you all a story of my Wrestlemania experience. My wife and I reach the entrance to the Superdome, after waiting about 30 minutes to get in, extremely excited and ready to experience our first Wrestlemania in person. As the ticket lady scans the fellow in front of me, his ticket is rejected. A small wave of fear passes over me. What if our tickets are fake? What if I have to buy tickets off the street?? My heart raced as we made it to the lady. She scans my ticket. A bead of sweat runs down my brow. Months of waiting leads to this moment and hinged on this single, hand held device. A large red X appears. My heart drops. Oh God no! I internally scream. The lady scans again. Still the same. She scans my wife’s ticket, just to see…Same result. We both start to panic. She says we need to go to the Master of Tickets to fix it. My wife and I storm off. We will find this Master of Tickets and vanquish them! Nothing will stop us from getting inside. I try to think of alternative routes in but nothing comes, my mind is cloudy with rage. As we walk up to the Master of Tickets my wife hopes in another line, mainly to see if she can get there first, and partially just to add some control to our situation. As I get closer to the window, my mind races. Im ready for anything I need to do to get to the Grandest Stage of them all. At the window is a lovely Southern woman who asks me what’s wrong. I give her my ticket and she walks away. I stare blankly into the abyss, knowing ill have to sell my body to get inside. I should have shaved. Oh well. The lady comes back with a smile on her face. She hands me a new ticket and tells me sorry for the inconvenience. I nod, thank her, and back away slowly. I look at the ticket but something is different….our seats changed. My heart drops again. I’d spent good money on these tickets and now we’re forced to move. Then I noticed something. The Section area…it said Floor. My eyes widened. Wait…Floor?! Like the Floor?? I checked the row. 13. Again, my eyes grew large and my heart raced. I called my wife over and told her to go to the window. She, at first, got the same ticket back. We went up to the window and the lady, seeing me, realized there was a mistake. She took both our tickets and came back. Both read Floor, both in row 13. The wife and I walked away, grinning ear to ear. I pulled out my phone to check where these actually were. We were so close to the ring we could smell it. The pure ecstasy that came over me is indescribable. When we finally made it down to our seats it was even better than we imagined. An added bonus was the entire NXT roster sitting one row behind us. I turned around and was looking Drew McIntyre in the face. I exchanged pleasantries with Ricochet. I even caught a glace of EC3. My entire year had been made in these small moments. Wrestlemania itself, in my opinion, was one of the better ones in recent memory. Now, I do not agree with some of the results but in terms of quality of show and not story wise, it was incredible. Killer seats didn’t hurt either. Anyways, after the main event, my wife and I rush to get our free Wrestlemania chairs and head to the door. As were walking out, I notice an old man staring out the glass window towards the exit. From the back, he was just an average person, but then he turned around. It was WWE Hall of Famer Bob Backlund. At a loss for words, I just smiled and gave him a thumbs up. He smiled and returned the thumbs up and My wife and I left the Superdome. I find it hard to believe that I will ever have an experience like that ever again, but if I don’t, this one will go down as one of the most incredible trips of my life.
But enough about me. Its time for Smackdown Live!
Shane O’ Mac kicks things off! He looks all smiles tonight and for good reason, his victory of Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens. He thanks everyone for coming to Wrestlemania and making it such a huge success. He mentions Daniel Bryan and the crowd pops. He says Daniel is born to be a wrestler and says he’ll be full timer. He says he accepted D Brys resignation as GM and introduces the new General Manager….Paige! WOAH! The crowd goes nuts! She says she retired last night but Shane saw her and asked her to be GM. They shake hands. The crowd chants “This is your house”. She says she wants to make this night special for everyone and brings up Daniel Bryan. She puts him in a match tonight against…she thinks for a few moments. She puts him in a match against AJ Styles! Uncle Alan vs the American Dragon. Hot damn. Smackdown is coming out of the gates with a vengeance.
The Usos vs The New Day
Woods and Jimmy start it off. They have a small exchange before Jey gets the hot tag. They double team Xavier. Big E tags in and lays Jey out. Xavier lifts E on his should then slams him down on Jey. Woods tags in gets a little offense in then we see a Unicorn Stampede. Jey gets clobbered and ends up outside. Commercial time. Jey ends up back in the ring with the New day still in control. Large E puts Jey in an abdominal stretch and grinds a little bit just because. Jey gets out and starts to fight back. New Day is totally in control of the match. Big E misses a body splash and Jey tags Jimmy. Jimmy runs wild (Brother!) and evens the odds. Woods goes for the Honor Roll but it gets reversed into a Samoan drop. Woods reverses a double team and hits a second rope leg drop on Jey. Xavier hits Jey with some stiff shots, showing a good show of aggression. Jey has a few of his own. These two are battling. Big E slams Jey down, after the hot tag, with Xavier hitting a backstabber at the same time. Jey hits a splash and gets the win. Wow. That match was awesome.
Winner: The Usos
The Bludgeon Brothers come out after the match with hammers in hand and titles around their waists. They point the hammers, the Usos apparently are afraid of hammers…
Backstage segment with Naomi and Natalya. They’re going to have a match.
Naomi vs Natalya
They go back and forth from the start, both do kip ups, getting a decent crowd reaction. Naomi does a sloppy head scissors take down and takes control of Natalya. We go to commercial. Back from commercial and Natalya has taken over. Naomi gets a good kick combo in but Natalya comes back and takes her out the a powerbomb. Naomi ends up back on top and beat Natalya with a top rope moonsault. Not too shabby of a match. Naomi isn’t my favorite but it is what it is.
The Angel Renee Young is backstage with Shinsuke. They talk about his heel turn on Sunday. He says he doesn’t know what came over him. Maybe he got too emotional. He says he’s sorry (with a wink). Renee isn’t buying it and calls his ass out. He says “Sorry, No speak English” and walks away. Gangster.
Charlotte is next!
Charlotte cruises down to the ring, looking like some sort of golden god. She talks about her match at Mania, where she defeated Asuka and ended her undefeated streak. She thanks Asuka and asks who’ll she’ll make magic with next….out come The Iconic Duo. Peyton Royce and Billie Kay. The crowd loses it and chants NXT. They say one of them can make that title disappear. They introduce themselves and continue to taunt Charlotte. They say her match was good but it wasn’t…Iconic? They make fun of Charlotte more, much to the joy of the crowd. The crowd chants Iconic. These girls kill it on the microphone. Charlotte attacks them both but cant stand up to the numbers. Royce and Kay continue to beat Charlotte down outside the ring. Some guy ringside shouts that theyre the bad guys and they should get away. Night is made. The duo continue to wreck Charlotte as the crowd waits for Carmella…. The Iconic Duo hit some sort of modified powerbomb on the outside and Charlotte is done. Annnnnnnd here comes Carmella. GET SOME! DO IT! DEAR LORD CASH THAT SHIT IN! The ref pretends to not understand what a Money in the Bank briefcase is while Carmella shrieks. Charlotte is slowly coming to her feet as the bell rings. She hits a super kick and wins the title. WOW!
AND NEW SMACKDOWNS WOMENS CHAMPION: CARMELLA
My wife points out that Carmella changed her Instagram name from Ms Money in the Bank before Smackdown. My wife is the new Dave Meltzer. Praise be to her.
Bobby Roode vs Randy Orton vs Rusev
Jinder Mahal is ringside with Sunil.
A commercial starts off things. I went to grab a drink and things had already started. Rusev kicks Randal in the head and goes to pin but Randy kicks. Rusev is outside the ring with Randy, slamming him into random things. Don’t know where Robert Roode is. Probably grabbing a drink. Speaking of Roode, he comes out of nowhere and starts running wild on Randy Orton. Rusev eats a table and it laid out. Roode and Orton are in the ring. Roode hits a top rope clothesline and does the GLOURIOUS thing but Randy reverses and starts taking it to Roode. Randy tries to hit the second Rope DDT but reverses. Randy attacks Randy and goes after Roode. He starts beating on Bobert Roode and gets the crowd fired up. Roode gets a Matchka kick for his troubles then gets put in the Accolade. Randy breaks it up and the world is sad. Randal hits a RKO out of nowhere. The crowd is not happy with that nonsense, especially since this match fell on Rusev Day.
Winner: Randy Orton
Randy will face Jinder Mahal at The Greatest Royal Rumble in Saudi Arabia. And I guess at Backlash too? Who knows anymore. I think I have a title shot too.
Backstage segment with Carmella. She mocks Charlotte’s speech earlier. Mella is Money.
Backstage with Uncle Alan. He’s still pissed at Shinsuke but he’s excited for his match with Daniel Bryan. Says he’s one of the greatest, but he’s not Phenomenal.
Daniel Bryan vs AJ Styles
The two lock up in the center of the ring. After a quick exchange AJ has taken control, but Daniel quickly gets the upper hand. Both men are agile in the ring. Daniel starts hitting some powerful kicks to AJ’s arm. He continues to work over the arm, holding the WWE Champion down on the mat. AJ hits a stiff elbow and starts to come back, culminating with a nice dropkick to Daniel in the middle of the ring. Bryan rolls out, AJ launches himself over the ropes onto a recovering Daniel Bryan. Commercial 2… Back from commercial and Daniel is in charge. He nails Uncle Alan with a kick in the corner. He proceeds to the Yes! kicks. AJ stops the last one with a dragon screw. Its AJ’s turn for some corner love. Daniel backflips out of the way but catches a reverse DDT (Not sure what that’s called). AJ goes after the knee of Bryan. Daniel reverses and goes for an armbar but AJ gets out of that and turns it into a Calf Crusher in the middle of the ring. Daniel rolls over and turns over and almost gets a Yes Lock in. Styles hits a Pele Kicks and a crazy clothesline but cant put Bryan away. AJ sets up for the Phenomenal forearm but Daniel counters with a kick. Daniel gets hit YES! on and charges up. AJ almost reverses it but it turns into a YES! lock. AJ breaks the hold. Daniel puts Styles in a Tree of Woe and proceeds to kicks the tar out of him. Now they’re both on the top rope. They had an awkward fall and both look hurt. Shinsuke comes out of nowhere and hits a Kinshasa on Bryan. He attacks AJ and gives him a Kinshasa for good measure. Shinsuke isn’t finished continues to low blow AJ. He slides out of the ring. And wanders away.
That’s all we’ve got this week. Its been exhausting and I need a nap. While I slumber, read more excellent content on our website. Follow me on the Twitter Machine @buuurch1, and as always…Take Care!