With Stephanie McMahon out injured, of course Kurt Angle opens the show to hype up the Superstar Shake-Up. First on the list is the WWE United States Champion Jinder Mahal and Sunil Singh; jeez, talk about a downgrade. Last year, the number one draft pick was Finn Balor and he was pushed all the way to the Moon…for all of five minutes. Mahal, instead, gets to defend the United States Championship against Jeff Hardy. If you’re wondering what Jeff did to earn this title shot, he literally was just the first man out t answer the challenge. Oh, and, also, he won, hot-potatoing the belt away from Mahal in short order.
Bayley and Sasha Banks looked to put to rest their issues in the ring after, only for the Riott Squad to interfere right when Sasha has Bayley locked up in the Banks Statement. The Squad then beat the piss out of both women. Speaking of getting the piss beaten out of you, the Authors of Pain made short work on Heath Slater and Rhyno, meaning that they’ve already beaten, like, 25% of Raw’s tag team division.
Afterwards, the Miz officially welcomes Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn to Raw, which is kind of weird as they didn’t have jobs last week. I guess they were “free agents”? anyway, Angle pops out to tell Miz that he’s moving to SmackDown! Live at the specific request of Daniel Bryan, but Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas are staying put. Then, for old time’s sake, he books a multi-man tag team match for later.
As I predicted last week, the WWE’s newly established odd couple tag team of Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt took on and defeated the Revival. Gotta say, I’m not a big fan of their weird attempt to make the Sister Abigail into the Twist of Fate their tag team finisher, if only because Wyatt doesn’t actually do any damage with his move.
Afterwards, Ember Moon established herself with a strong win over Mickie James (well, as strong as you can get when you’re beating Mickie), before Dolph Ziggler makes his return to Raw. Titus O’Neil and Apollo Crews (yep, he randomly has his last name back now) tried to induct him into Titus Worldwide so Ziggler announced that he’s come to Raw with a buddy of his own. He and Drew McIntyre then attack Titus Worldwide, before Roman Reigns comes out to cry some more about how he’s a full-timer and Brock Lesnar isn’t. Luckily, Samoa Joe interrupts again to basically talk about how he’s going to choke Reigns out at Backlash.
Anyway, Natalya (who’s now also on Raw) defeated Mandy Rose but got attacked by Sonya Deville afterwards. Luckily, as of this week, Natalya is best buddies with Ronda Rousey, who comes out to event the odds. Also on Raw now, Tyler Breeze and Fandango get a random win over Sheamus and Cesaro which would be great if the Bar weren’t heading into a Tag Team Championship match at the Greatest Royal Rumble and Breezango haven’t really won or done anything for weeks now.
The main event pits Finn Balor, Seth Rollins, Bobby Lashley, Braun Strowman, and another big acquisition for Raw, Bobby Roode, against the Miz, Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, Curtis Axel, and Bo Dallas. I guess if you were in any doubt about Strowman’s status as a full-blown babyface, his appearance and actions in this match should put any doubts to rest. The faces pretty much dominate the match but the finish ultimately comes when the Miz-tourage bail on the Miz, because he’s leaving the brand, leaving him to fall to Strowman’s Powerslam.
AJ Styles opens the Blue Brand to run down Shinsuke Nakamura as a cheap-shot, cock-punching son of a bitch. He vows to not leave the ring until Nakamura confronts him face-to-face, so Rusev (with Aiden English) challenges him to a match. Rusev’s offense is immediately shut down when AJ locks him into the Calf Crusher but Aiden causes the disqualification before they can double-team AJ. Daniel Bryan makes the save and Paige makes another dream match for the main event: AJ Styles and Daniel Bryan vs. Rusev and Aiden English.
Shelton Benjamin looks to make a splash as a single star once again by taking on SmackDown! Live’s newest acquisition, the WWE United States Champion Jeff Hardy. These two compliment each other really well and I’m super psyched to see Shelton away from languishing in the tag team division; Jeff retained and, hopefully, will bring some life and energy back to SmackDown! Live’s mid-card.
Harper destroyed Jey Uso in less than a minute and then, afterwards, he and Rowan beat them senseless until Naomi yelled at them to stop. Tch, the Dudley Boyz would have put her stupid ass through a table! Next up, despite vowing to end Roman Reigns at Backlash, Samoa Joe is now on SmackDown! Live and makes a…well, I guess you’d call it a statement…by choking the life out of Sin Cara (when was the last time he was on television?). Afterwards, he promises to destroy everyone on the Blue Brand and bring the Universal Championship over just as soon as Reigns wins it and Joe beats him.
Carmella comes out to celebrate finally winning the SmackDown! Live Women’s Championship, which Charlotte takes issue with. The Iconics then attack her and the three of them start beating her up until Becky Lynch saves her ass. Charlotte then defeats Billy Kay in a match, completely negating what credibility the Iconics may have had, and then Asuka saves Charlotte and Becky from another beat down to, no doubt, set up even more six-woman tag team matches in the future 😀
In the main event, Daniel Bryan teams up with AJ Styles to take on Rusev and Aiden English but, right as things really start to heat up, Nakamura wallops AJ in the balls once again and then Big Cass boots Bryan in the face for the disqualification; I tell you, that dastardly Nakamura really likes his balls!
The Riott Squad
It seems to me as though the WWE has made an effort to bolster their failing tag team divisions with this year’s draft, with the Bar, the Club, and SAnitY being pretty big additions to the SmackDown! Live roster. I also like Almas, Jeff, Miz, and Cass being on SmackDown! Live; they should all help bring some excitement to the United States and WWE Championship divisions. I’m also hoping this means that we’ll see Samoa Joe get a big title win soon.
As for Raw, they got some top-class mid-card talent in Roode, Kanellis, and McIntyre. The biggest issue I have is that there’s very little for anyone to do in Raw’s main event due to the never-ending stranglehold Reigns and Lesnar have over the Universal Championship. I would have liked to have seen Seth Rollins, Lashley, and maybe even Strowman move to SmackDown! Live and Randy Orton go to Raw but I’m honestly surprised that the WWE didn’t put AJ on Raw.