I'm so late that I'm just going to jump in. I hope you enjoy!
In Ring Segment > A+
What an amazing moment. From when Reigns beat Taker at WrestleMania, the fans had been discussing what would happen with Reigns on Raw, and contemplating what might happen. We all know that the Raw after WrestleMania is the most intense of the year, and that the fans wouldn't let Reigns get away with anything. What I honestly didn't completely expect was ten full minutes of the fans ripping Reigns a new one, and cussing him out. Taker's entrance, from GONG to end of music was 5:23, and we were all expecting it to be at least ten. Well, Taker got his ten minutes here, and I'll be shocked if he didn't watch it, just to see what would happen. It was Taker who decided he wanted to put Reigns over in his final match, so he has something invested in Reigns. Further, Reigns did a beautiful job of keeping Taker safe at WrestleMania, which was what made their match that much better for me – because it was obvious that Reigns took care of Taker in the ring when his own good friend, BL couldn't do that a few years ago.
Anyway, I'm blown away at how Reigns took the abuse. He made it look, after a bit, as if he was reveling in it a bit. Not the way Cena revels in the dueling chants he always gets, but really taking in the moment, and helping to breathe even more life into it by taunting them with the mic and a couple of smirks. When Reigns left the ring at WrestleMania, but then looked back with a worried look at Taker, I wasn't sure they wouldn't be keeping him face, but the way he handled this was all heel. Ten minutes of solid abuse, only to deliver five words perfectly and leave the ring. Whoever came up with this was genius and should be praised for it, because I truly believe it was the only way to handle things. If he'd tried to go out there and really talk, there could have been a number of arrests for throwing of food and other things into the ring, but simple and to the point. Bravo!
Tag Team Championship Match – Matt Hardy & Jeff Hardy (c) vs Anderson & Gallows > B+
I've been up and down, all over the place when it comes to Matt and Jeff. I've always been a bigger Matt fan, until all the issues he went through before his beautiful son was born, and I've been a HUGE Reby fan from the first moment I met her. Yes, Jeff is great in all he does, but when he was younger, I just wasn't feeling it. I know the TNA/Sting incident didn't help my feelings toward Jeff. But the past couple years the Boyz, along with Reby and that beautiful baby boy, have really proven that they are a bigger force to be reckoned with in the industry than they were when they were Team Extreme! I know this is just the start for them, but I'm so glad they're back home, along with Angle, where they belong. I also hope that Reby joins them on Raw, because not only is she beautiful, but she's a hugely important part of their storyline and who they have become over the past couple years.
I will say that Matt and Jeff did a great job of making Anderson and Gallows look that much better in the ring. I honestly don't know where the disconnect is with Anderson and Gallows. I watched an episode of Ride Along with Anderson driving, Gallows in shotgun, a cardboard cutout of AJ Styles behind Gallows, and a cardboard cutout of Finn Balor behind Anderson. Not only were Anderson and Gallows funny and engaging, they were also charismatic and endearing. They have it in them, now they need to figure out how to translate that to the fans. I also have to say that Gallows does a pretty solid impression of AJ's way of speaking. His voice goes a bit too high, but the inflection and what he was saying was all AJ. Shows how close the four of them are, and makes me wonder what the four of them could do together in the WWE. Maybe if they were all on Raw together...then again, Balor returning from injury will have to be face for a while, but not forever!
Winners – DELETE!
Mustafa Ali vs Neville > B
I really love Ali's character and ring work, but they need to let him step up his character more. He's so endearing each time we see him, but it feels as though they're purposefully not giving us more of certain Cruiserweight Division Superstars characters. They are being blamed for not getting over, but there's only so much they can get from the fans if they cannot talk, work the way they work the best, or give some reason for us to cheer for them. I will admit that he could emote a bit more in the ring, but if they're already being held back in how they...Well, as I wrote this Ali hit a move I've never seen, than that DDT! Holy smoked, that was a whole beautiful move set from the corner through the DDT. What a beautiful chain, and while Neville worked with him, they were some of the moves I've been dying to see from Ali!
Neville really knows how to work the fans as a heel. No clue why they didn't turn him heel well earlier, because this is exactly where he should be.
EDIT: I watched 205 Live and was further blown away by Ali. He was in his second match of the night, and he made it look effortless. If you haven't had a chance to see the Fatal Four Way – Ali vs TJP vs Gallagher vs A Double for the #1 contender for the Cruiserweight Championship, please, go watch it, for it's one of the best Cruiserweight matches I've seen since the CWC. The work from all four men was outstanding, and really showed what they should be allowed to do on Raw to entertain the fans. I saw so much more of Ali and TJP, especially personality they've not shown previous. I have to give the match on 205 Live a solid A.
Winner – Neville
In Ring Segment > A
Each time I see Vince McMahon on WWE TV I wonder how that man could be so out of touch with the fans, and make such poor decisions when it comes to major characters, directions, storylines, feuds, and the flow and pacing of Raw. He's so on point as the Mr. McMahon character, but Mr. McMahon the boss really does seem to get it. It's something I have huge troubles wrapping my mind around.
I loved how McMahon toyed with the fans! First off, it was a great moment for Teddy Long, especially since he was available in Orlando already. Then when Angle's music didn't start, and it was the one thing the fans wanted more than almost anything. To be honest, I didn't know where they were planning on going with putting Steph through the table at WrestleMania, but as soon as it clicked, most fans were all about Angle returning to the WWE as the Raw GM.
All weekend whenever Angle's music hit, and the chants of, “You suck!” filled the arenas, Angle was glowing. He gets that the fans were showing love in the best way possible. Now, they will chant it at him when he's again heel, someday, but that chant means so much more than those two little words, and Angle was glowing in a way I'm not sure I've seen from him. Yes, he was also sweating like a medieval fighter in full armor in hundred degree heat, and he went right through his shirt and suit coat, but it was bloody hot there! I'm among many when I say I'm wonderfully excited at what the future holds for Angle in the WWE, and only time will tell what happens, but as long as they do right by him, I'll be very happy.
New Day vs Revival > B+
I'm way behind on my NXT, as I have admitted many times, but I did see NXT TakeOver on Saturday night, and was very impressed with both Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder, as well as DIY and AoP. I'm quite excited to see the Tag Divisions on Raw and SmackDown grow as these teams are called up. I think AoP is going to be quite the dominant team, and I wonder who will be able to stop them. But that's not either here nor there, until they're called up.
Their work with New Day was great to see, and I cannot wait to see them work the ring with the Hardys! It looks as though the Tag Division on Raw (barring the 'Shakeup') could be a force to be reckoned with.
I will say that Woods' spinning forearm was amazing! Didn't help much when Big E wasn't there for Woods to tag out, but Revival needed to win this match. With New Day not working WrestleMania, I think we missed a lot of great wrestling from them. I always forget how good Woods is, and Big E is destined for greatness, but not if he's with New Day for too much longer.
Winners – Revival
Backstage Segment > A
Angle's reactions to Enzo and Cass were classic Angle obliviousness, and something I didn't realize how much I'd missed. Angle's facial expressions about had me on the floor laughing. No clue how Zo and Cass were not completely cracking up through this whole segment. That they all managed to keep it together got them extra points from me. So happy Angle is back for more of these beautiful moments.
Bayley & Dana & Sasha vs Charlotte & Nia & Emma > B
Other than Bayley, Sasha, and Charlotte being obviously tired from the long week and their WrestleMania match, but Nia didn't have that look at all. Though she was still in the horrid ring gear. Further, I have to scream at whoever put that belt and skirt on Nia at WrestleMania, because it gave her rolls where she doesn't normally have them. It's time they stop trying to make her look bad, and let her be the beautiful woman she is!
I actually really enjoyed this match, and I'm thrilled that Evil Emma is back. Raw needed her in a huge way, and she fills a role that's been glaringly obvious. Though I have to wonder, with Bliss dropping the SD Women's Championship at WrestleMania, if she might be moving to Raw very soon. Just a thought, and I hope they mix up the women in a way that makes sense, and isn't well thought through.
Winners – Bayley & Sasha & Dana
Backstage Segment > B+
Angle talking up Sami Zayn? But his facial expressions are hysterical! He's a Dad at home, and doesn't need to be in that role at work! Trust me, I get it! (Love all you guys, and of course I love you Liz!) After the roads Angle's taken since he left the WWE, and how he's now the father of five kids, he really has those facial expressions down. I have always been very facially expressive, but my kids know exactly how I feel just by how I look at them, and that's what I saw from Angle behind Sami's back there.
The last thing Sami needs is to be stuck feuding with fricken Mahal! Ugh! I have no clue why he's back in the WWE – other than being built the way McMahon likes his wrestlers – and further, why he was almost the last one in the Andre The Giant Battle Royal! That had me shaking my head through much of the night. I truly don't get it!
In Ring Segment > C+
Paul Heyman could sell ice cubes to Maine-iacs in the middle of a blizzard! He's just that damn good. I wish the same could be said about Brock Lesnar! That man just doesn't seem to give a shit about anything but the money. I will admit that his WrestleMania match with Goldberg was much better than I expected, but that doesn't mean I've changed my opinion of him at all, in any way. I'm not a fan, and unless he drastically changes his whole attitude and way of working in front of the fans, and I highly doubt that would ever happen. I cannot believe I am writing this, but I'd actually rather hand Sable back on TV, rather than her husband. I've never been a fan of her, but at least she emotes for the fans, and works to give the fans a show!
All that being said, I was thrilled to see Strowman go out to the ring, though I did want more than a few lines, then him backing off. Okay, I'll admit it, I'm always saying I want the slow burn, and I do, but I'm also the person who waits until a show is completed, or at least has three seasons under its belt so I can binge watch and really get into the story. I think that's why I love the WWE Network so much, I can watch the build of storylines over the weeks and months leading up to PPVs, especially the Big 4. I have to say that while they rushed some storylines, there were a couple of huge story arks going on at any given time, and I'm missing that in a big way. So yes, I love the slow burn, and I hope we get that here with Brock and Strowman, but only if Brock is actually going to participate in the storyline. If he's only going to sit there and bounce, then he needs to drop the belt and let someone else feud with Strowman, because we deserve Superstars and storylines that both make sense, and involve all members of the feud interacting, more than just bouncing.
Backstage Segment > A
Jericho is one of the best on mic. Of course KO attacked, but Joe kinda shocked me. Either they're really going to be running together as The Authority's muscle, getting their orders from Trip, who, of course, isn't there, or they will just continue to watch each others backs. Them as a team, with all the new teams on Raw, could be a great thing, and their names rhyme! Or maybe Joe was just there to help KO put Jericho out for a bit. Either way, Jericho was on in a most fantastic way!
Backstage Segment > B+
Jericho is too hurt? That means Balor? Hope so, because this is #RAWAfterWrestleMania! And then there's Angle. I cannot say enough about him being back in the WWE. Yes, he deserves to be in the WWE HoF, but he has so much more left to give us!
#1 Contenders Match – Cesaro & Sheamus vs Enzo & Cass > B
From appearing as thought they were destined to winning the Tag Team Championships at WrestleMania to losing a #1 Contenders Match. I really hope this 'shakeup' helps Enzo and Cass with their futures. Further, with the way they lost, I worry that they might split up Enzo and Cass, leaving Enzo without a direction and Cass without enough of a background to reach for the top. This teaming is mutually beneficial for both of them, and shouldn't just be tossed aside because McMahon thinks only big guys get over and talking only matters to a point. Fingers crossed, but I am quite worried.
On the other hand, Cesaro in the ring with Jeff makes me giddy! The same can be said for Sheamus and Matt, so I'm kind of excited to see what they will do in the ring when it's just the four of them.
Winners – Cesaro & Sheamus
Sami Zayn vs Jinder Mahal > C+
Ugh! Why? I haven't spoken to even one person online, or in person, who likes that Jinder Mahal is back in the WWE. To take it even further, not one person was happy, or not hate, that Mahal was one of the last two in the ATGMBR! The hatred that flew because people were truly worried that Mahal might actually win the ATGMBR was downright ugly! This is one of those moments where McMahon is dead wrong that the body and the look can make the wrestler. Yes, he's quite well built, and he has a unique look, but no one wants to see him. I didn't like ADR from the start and people thought I was daft until his return to the WWE. Many, I'll even go as far as saying most, fans didn't like Mahal before, and now they loath him upon his return. Bleeping Aron Stevens might like sleeping in his own bed, but he's a far cry better than Mahal has ever been! Bring him back!
Winner – Sami Zayn
Rollins & Balor vs Joe & KO > B+
We all knew it was going to be Balor tagging with Rollins, and because of that, I think most of us just were not as excited as we would have been if he'd returned at WrestleMania. I know a lot of fans wanted the WWE to wait for this Raw to debut him, but it was so obvious that it lose a lot of the excitement that he deserved.
I know a lot of fans were wondering if Balor would turn on Rollins after how Balor was injured, but he also has beefs with Joe and KO, so that didn't make a lot of sense. Only time will tell if, or when, Balor turns heel. Either way, I'm just glad he's back.
Winners – Rollins & Balor
RAW Talk > A
Okay, not for the whole show, I am specifically writing about Goldberg's time on the mic. I don't see myself regularly covering a scripted talk show, but Goldberg on mic in that ring was a moment. Please, if you haven't seen it, go watch it.
Not saying every Raw should be like this one, because they cannot debut new Superstars every week, but they can have amazing segments – through amazing storylines – and kick ass matches like these. Not all of them have been great, but they actually made it feel like a wrestling show! There was wrestling and storyline moves that made sense, as well as a decent flow to the show. I didn't want to go to bed less than two hours into the show, and that's unusual for me as of late.
I mentioned at the end of the WNW WWE WrestleMania Predicts that if anyone could guess who most, if not all, of the action figures I used in the pics – other than the girl dolls that were not actually action figures – they would get a prize. I'm serious, I have a physical prize that I will mail to you if you get them all, or close to all right. Email me – firstname.lastname@example.org You never know, you might just win!
Queen of WNW