Stephanie McMahon comes out to open the Raw after WrestleMania, sporting a sling on her arm, and attempts to make amends with Ronda Rousey. Rousey, although initially appearing to accept Stephanie’s gracious offer, instead sticks her in the Arm Bar and, apparently (potentially) finishes the job and breaks her arm. Afterwards, Alexa Bliss teams with Mickie James to get some payback against Nia Jax but, wouldn’t you know it, Nia has a new friend: NXT’s Ember Moon. Ember brought the team to a quick a decisive victory with the Eclipse; if I had to bet, I world guess that Ember and Nia will be buddies for a bit before Ember turns on her to challenge for the Raw Women’s Championship.
Backstage, Braun Strowman and his kid partner (yes, I know his name, but ‘m not going to give him/the WWE the satisfaction of calling him by it) reluctantly and regretfully relinquish the Raw Tag Team Championships because the kid is still in school and won’t be able to defend them…so, what was the point of that again? NXT’s No Way Jose then made his in-ring debut, squashing some guy in quick fashion. Here’s a thought: if you want to hammer home that Strowman is a face now, how about teaming him with the guy with a fucking conga line and massive crowd support?
Anyway, because of all that, Sheamus and Cesaro will get a rematch for the Tag Titles at the…Greatest Royal Rumble (don’t even get me started on how asinine that event is!)…and will face the winner of the “eliminator” (not “tournament” because Vince McMahon doesn’t like tournaments…). The first match of which pits Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson against the Revival, which the Revival wins, which is fine but…I would much rather have seen these two be the last teams to fight for the title shot as they should be pushed as one of Raw’s top teams.
Next up, Seth Rollins comes out to bask in the glory of being the new Intercontinental Champion. Finn Balor requests to be his first challengers, so the Miz interjects and throws his name in the hat. He also proposes a handicap match later on in the night but Jeff Hardy randomly returns to even the odds.
Sasha Banks, surprisingly, lost to Mandy Rose next after Bayley accidentally hit her when Mandy pushed her; apparently the WWE has forgotten that Sasha and Bayley had that wild brawl the other week that effectively ended their friendship. Afterwards, all hope and reason was forever taken away as Paige officially announced her retirement from in-ring action; it’s such a shame to see that happen. Not just because she’s super hot but, also, because she’s so young and never got a chance to make a big in-ring comeback. I also feel like the WWE kind of mistreated her; having her win the Diva’s Championship in her Raw debut may have seemed like a great moment but, once you have the belt, you can’t just languish in obscurity and then randomly turn heel.
Afterwards, Elias tries to sing a little song but Bobby-freakin’-Lashley mkes a massive return and beats the hell out of him. Here’s another idea: how about teaming Lashley with Strowman to form a super-team!? Well, I’m glad to see Lashley back; he improved drastically while in Impact Wrestling but it remains to be seen if he has improved enough to be more than just a big fish in a small pound. Also, I probably would have put him on SmackDown! Live as Raw has loads of big, kick-ass guys and Lashley could get lost in the shuffle.
The debuts keep coming as Akam and Rezar, the Authors of Pain, make their main roster debut; they completely decimate Heath Slater and Rhyno and then split from Paul Ellering. Hopefully the WWE doesn’t completely neuter them like they did with the Club, the Revival, and the Ascension. Roman Reigns then came out, seemingly humbled after the decisive, devastating, and down-right-humiliating ass-kicking he got at WrestleMania but then appears to complain that he has been booked into a Steel Cage match for the Universal Championship at the Greatest Royal Rumble. Samoa Joe thankfully comes back (also: Why not team Joe with Strowman!?) to call him out for being a whiney, self-entitled bitch and challenge him to a match, win, lose, or draw, at Backlash. Apparently, the WWE wasn’t happy with Reigns’ reactions at WrestleMania so they’re saving his big title win for a crowd that is less likely to boo him, chant horrible things at him, and actually care that he’s kicking out of a million F5s. judging from the WrestleMania crowd and the crowd tonight, I don’t think that’s too likely to happen. Also, why the hell does Roman get an immediate rematch when he got beat clean as yesterday’s sheets? He could have, at least, had a match or something to earn another shot, or held Vice/Paul Heyman/someone hostage.
Matt Hardy and his brand new best friend, Bray Wyatt, took on Titus O’Neil and Apollo to decide who will face the Revival next week. Sadly, my fears come true as Matt and Bray win, meaning that they will most likely beat the revival, beat the Bar, become Raw Tag Team Champions, and then Bray will probably, randomly, turn on Matt and continue talking in riddles and spinning his wheels. Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens fought next (or should I say “again”), with the winner earning himself a Raw contract…so of course it went to a no contest to further the angle. With the Superstar Shake-Up happening next week, I really hope the WWE uses this as an opportunity to split these guys up; Owens on SmackDown! Live and Zayn and Raw and gives this whole thing a break!
After a brief run in with Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt, Jeff Hardy teams up with Seth Rollins and Finn Balor to take on the Miz, Bo Dallas, and Curtis Axel. Despite some tension in the weeks leading up to WrestleMania and the fact that Jeff has been drunk injured, the faces worked well together and managed to get the win after Rollins landed the Blackout Stomp on Miz. Afterwards, they all hit their finishers on Dallas and Axel. I really hope that, if the WWE are going to continue with Brock Lesnar as the Universal Champion for a bit longer (I’m guessing until he beats CM Punk’s title reign), Rollins, Balor, Jeff, Miz, and the like can carry the main event of Raw in feuds over the Intercontinental Championship. It’s a shame, though, that it took taking main event talent and putting them in this division to do it as they really should have been pushing stories revolving around the Intercontinental Championship a bit hard with old Part-Time Brock holding the “top belt”.
What’s good for one is good for another as Shane McMahon opened the show this week to brag about his match at WrestleMania but who cares about that because, now that Daniel Bryan is officially back in the ring, his replacement as the SmackDown! Live General Manager is…Paige! And if the Blue Brand wasn’t superior before, it certainly is now! Paige’s first order of business is to make a match between Daniel Bryan and AJ Styles!
But first, the New Day have to face the Usos…again…to determine the number one contenders to the SmackDown! Live Tag Team Championships…even though the Usos, as the former champions, get a rematch by default. But, hey, to be fair, at least they’re earning their rematch, unlike Roman Reigns. Oh, yeah, the Usos won anyway, so…
Speaking of redundant, Naomi defeated Natalya and then Charlotte Flair comes out to put over her match against Asuka, but she’s interrupted by NXT’s Peyton Royce and Billie Kay, who talk shit to her, beat her up, and then Powerbomb her on floor outside the ring. Carmella finally cashes in her Money in the Bank briefcase, kicks Charlotte in the face, and finally wins the belt. At last they’ve put an end to that! I swear, the longer you tease or take to cash in that briefcase, the less I care about the performer holding it. It just doesn’t make sense to wait and wait and wait; you should cash in as soon as you can and get the belt around your waist, not drag it out for nearly a year! (And, yes, that includes Seth Rollins).
Bobby Roode, Randy Orton, and Rusev fight to determine who will face Jinder Mahal for the United States Championship at Backlash (oh, yeah, by the way: all pay-per-views are going to be co-hosted from now on, signalling the beginning of the end of this poorly-realised brand split. I’m sure by next year’s WrestleMania, the WWE will all be one brand again). Similar to the Usos/New Day match, it’s worth highlighting that Orton, as the former champion, is guaranteed a rematch (well, maybe not guaranteed; look at Finn Balor, after all…) and, as he won this match, it again seems a bit redundant. Also, who the hell is crying out the see Orton and Jinder put on another of their snooze-fests? Didn’t we get enough of those last year, where we pretty decisively saw that Orton cannot beat Jinder. Honestly, this should have been Rusev’s win but, hopefully, he gets a push towards a belt and a reign of some sort once the post-WrestleMania fever has died down.
The main event of Daniel Bryan vs. AJ Styles (two “dream matches” in one week for AJ) was going pretty well until Shinsuke Nakamura interfered, smacking Bryan in the back of the head with the Kinshasa, low blowing AJ, hitting him with the Kinshasa, and the low blowing him again. Really likes his balls, that Nakamura. I’m kind of glad that he showed up, though, as Bryan and AJ didn’t get to showcase off of their skill or give away their match too soon and this possibly means that Bryan could be added the to Championship picture going forward.