Raw heads into Uniondale, NY and the new Nassau Coliseum tonight as we start the “Superstar Shakeup.” Vince McMahon promised last week that we would shake things up on both rosters, so we’ll see the beginnings of that tonight. Who will be exiting the red brand, and who will be joining them? What trades and moves will the new GM, Kurt Angle, make to bolster the Raw roster? Will the returning Finn Balor (who we saw team with Seth Rollins last week) be staying, or will Smackdown pick him up? Beyond that, we know who will be challenging the Hardys for their tag titles next – Cesaro and Sheamus. Will those two try to get a leg up on the returning Team Extreme? With Brock Lesnar holding the Universal Championship, who will step up to challenge him next?
Show Open, Live from the Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, NY:
They ran the Raw opening and pyro shot off. Michael Cole, Corey Graves, and Byron Saxton were on the call and Cole hyped the sold-out attendance. They hyped the Superstar Shakeup and said it might be the last night they work together.
John Cena’s music played, but The Miz and Maryse came out dressed as the newly-engaged couple. They spoofed Cena and Nikki until Dean Ambrose interrupted. He acted like they really were Cena and Nikki and said it was nice to see familiar faces. He congratulated them on their engagement and hugged them.
Miz tried to interrupt Ambrose and let him in on the spoof, but he kept playing along. He congratulated them for beating Miz and Maryse and said they’re the worst. Miz said they are the “It” couple and the Superstar Shakeup brought them to Raw. Miz finally let Ambrose in on the spoof and Maryse took the wig off. Miz took the hat off, and Ambrose said “Oh, well, in that case…” and hit him with Dirty Deeds.
Bill Says: So, does this mean Miz, Maryse, and Ambrose (along with his Intercontinental Championship) are coming to Raw for sure? Miz seemed to indicate he and Maryse are there. Some explanation would have been nice, but we didn’t get any. I am also guessing that Kevin Owens and the US Championship (should they not book him in a match to lose it and send the winner) gets sent to Smackdown.
The commentary team hyped Roman Reigns in a sit-down interview about the rumors that he ended Undertaker’s career. Graves hyped The Revival vs. Big E and Xavier Woods of New Day after the break.
Bill Says: By the way, Kofi Kingston did have surgery today to remove bone spurs from his ankle, so he will be out of action for a little bit.
Kurt Angle was on the phone telling someone that it’s going to be a great one. He said he would call the person back and Sami Zayn entered. Zayn said the suspense is killing him. He said he has told people for months he belongs on Smackdown. He said he wants to stay on Raw now that Angle has arrived. Angle told him there is a lot of interest from Smackdown for him. Zayn pressed for details.
Miz and Maryse entered and complained about what Ambrose did. Zayn introduced himself and said he was in the middle of something. Miz said superstars were talking and told him to leave. Angle said Zayn was on Raw as of this point, and Miz would need to earn his respect. Angle booked Miz vs. Zayn for later.
Bill Says: I do hope – if they move Zayn over – that Smackdown’s team has a better vision for the character than Raw’s creative team does. Right now, he looks like a pest act.
New Day came out with a blow up doll dressed like Kofi. They said his spirit lives in the doll, and addressed his ankle surgery. They called out the Revival and the crowd responded to them and chanted for New Day. Revival came to the ring for the match.
Match #1 – The Revival (Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder) vs. New Day (Big E and Xavier Woods);
Winner: The Revival
The Reax: Cole noted that the Revival was all about injuring their opponents as they cut to an early break. After a break, Cole noted that Miz, Maryse, and Ambrose were officially moved to the Raw roster. The Revival worked on Woods and isolated him.
Woods got the hot tag, and Big E hit belly to belly suplexes on Dawson before dancing. He hit a running splash on Wilder then clapped. Wilder rolled Big E up for a two count. A short time later, Woods hit an elbow drop on Dawson, going coast to coast. New Day tried for the Midnight Hour, but it got broken up. Woods jumped from the top and fell right into Shatter Machine.
The finish was this pretty strong. I liked that Revival came in strong and they got a pair of wins over the established New Day team. I wonder if this is a sign that New Day is going to Smackdown, or if this is the sign of an ongoing feud. Either way, I like how this has gotten the Revival going in the early part of their run either way.
Graves noted that we would hear “the fate of Seth Rollins” later in the show, and asked if he would still be on Raw.
Bill Says: It could create an interesting story if Steph McMahon ordered a trade to send Rollins off of Raw. Of course, given her propensity to talk down to people she would rather have him on the same show as her and make his life miserable. Will we get the Shield reunion here too? As of right now, all three members are on Raw. I sort of want to see Ambrose go heel, myself.
Charly Caruso talked to Neville about Austin Aries regaining the No. 1 Contender to his title. Neville said Aries isn’t on his level, then was about to put down the rest of the division when TJ Perkins entered. He told Neville to be careful about what he says. Neville told Perkins he would never get another chance to be champion. He said he was the first champion of the division, and now his career is a joke.
Neville said opportunities that should have gone to Perkins went to people like Aries. Neville said it seems he is the only person who has an iota of respect for Perkins. Aries entered and took exception to Neville’s comments, saying he’s lying through his teeth. Neville said he’s the only man who can provide championship opportunities. Neville walked off and Aries asked Perkins if he was buying it. Perkins looked sad and said nothing before walking away.
Bill Says: Perkins’ natural personality screams heel, so it seems like they might have that in the works here. But the rest of this segment was weird and almost put me in mind of how TNA books their X Division. Neville said he’s the one who grants title shots – which is what they do on that show too.
Curt Hawkins was in the ring and boasted about being on Raw. He said it was the greatest get since the Louisiana Purchase. He asked for the welcome party, and here came Big Show. He punched out Hawkins.
Bill Says: Well, not a good night for the heels on Raw so far. Miz got a Dirty Deeds, and Hawkins got knocked out. I’m not so bent about Hawkins, because he was pretty much enhancement talent on Smackdown, but Miz could be a main event player. I just don’t trust the Raw creative team to do right by him like they did on Smackdown, and Miz will end up sliding to the midcard again.
Cole said his sit down interview with Roman Reigns would be live, then hyped Neville vs. Aries for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship at Payback.
Match #2 – Austin Aries vs. TJ Perkins;
Winner: TJ Perkins
The Reax: Neville watched on from commentary and denied that he was trying to win Perkins over to his side heading to Payback. Neville started toward the ring at one point when Aries stood on the barricade and played to the fans. Aries met him, but Neville stayed back. Aries returned to beat the count only to get rolled up with an inside cradle by Perkins.
Aries held the ropes open for Neville after, but Perkins attacked him from behind. Perkins hit a Detonation Kick and left him laying. Neville celebrated but Perkins didn’t join him. He stood at ringside while highlights played.
I welcome Perkins changing character here because he felt like he was stuck a bit as a babyface. The finish made Aries look foolish for getting caught up with Neville’s distraction but the post match angle was the most important thing people will take away here so it’s not that big of a thing.
Seth Rollins was shown backstage with Enzo and Big Cass, and Cole hyped an update on him. After a commercial, Rollins came to the ring, and Graves said a payment must be due for Rollins given what happened to Stephanie McMahon at Wrestlemania.
Rollins said it was good to be back with the fans, because he didn’t know if he would be able to stand on his own two feet in front of them. He said he put everything into getting back for his match against Triple H, and didn’t consider “after.” He said his knee was sore and swollen from Wrestlemania, but he was at peace mentally. He said he left it all in the ring. “I did it.” He corrected himself to say “we did it.” The fans chanted for him, and Rollins said that Wrestlemania was not the finish line.
He said he and the fans are just getting started on Raw. He talked about settling scores, mentioning Samoa Joe. He said he wanted to get his hands on the Universal Championship. He said that because of what happened at Wrestlemania, those opportunities might not come. He sent it to footage of Stephanie’s table bump at Wrestlemania, to which the fans chanted “Thank you, Seth!”
Rollins said he probably wouldn’t be named employee of the month and said Steph doesn’t deal with failure well. He said she would come back to work and see his face, which would remind her weekly of her failure and her husband’s defeat at Wrestlemania. He said it would probably be easier to pack his bags and go to Smackdown, to which the fans chanted “no.” Rollins said he took the easy way out before, and he wouldn’t do it again. Rollins told Steph that she better have an army ready to drag him off if she intends to send him to Smackdown.
Kurt Angle’s music played and he came to the ring. He said Steph made it clear that she wanted Rollins gone, but Kurt said he saw something in Rollins at Wrestlemania that he hadn’t seen before. He said he thought it was impressive that he won a gold medal with a broken freakin’ neck, but Rollins won an ass kicking contest with one leg.
Angle said his agenda is to put on the best show he can deliver, and his show has Seth Rollins. He said as long as he is GM, Rollins has a home on Raw. Angle left the ring and his music played, but back in the ring Samoa Joe blindsided Rollins. Angle tried to break the fight up, but they fought anyhow. Rollins cleared Joe with a superkick.
Bill Says: A solid promo from Rollins that told the basic story of him not wanting to take the easy way out. That seemed to resonate with the live crowd and they got behind him. One has to ask if Balor will be heading to Smackdown now since it seems Rollins is not leaving. Odd that Angle went back to the ring to break the fight up. Is this a tell for future physicality from the Raw GM?
Charly Caruso interviewed Kevin Owens, who said they can shake things up all they want but the cream rises to the top. Owens told her to ask Jericho how Superstar Shakeup is affecting him. Owens said she couldn’t ask Jericho anything, because he was at home recuperating.
Owens said that he is the US Champion, which makes him the number one champion on Raw. She noted Dean Ambrose now being on the show with the Intercontinental Championship. Owens said he can run around with that title all he wants, as long as he remembers Owens is the man on Raw. He said he would beat the hell out of Ambrose if he didn’t.
Charlotte headed to the ring to face Nia Jax. A Smackdown ad asked which Raw wrestlers would be on the show. Drew Koscelek will tell you all about that when he covers Smackdown tomorrow night.
Match #3 – Nia Jax vs. Charlotte;
Winner: Nia Jax
The Reax: Jax got an entrance. Early, Jax hit a shoulder breaker then two elbow drops to the back for a two count. Charlotte chopped back then tried a roll-up through the ropes, but Jax didn’t go down. Charlotte clipped her knee then hit Natural Selection. Charlotte ran Jax into the post from the apron, sending her to the floor. Charlotte hit a moonsault where Jax took a boot to the head. Charlotte tried for the Figure Eight, but Jax pulled her face-first to the corner. Jax splashed her then hit a Samoan Drop to win.
I am guessing Charlotte is on her way to Smackdown. This looked like a write-off, so, it’s the only way I can take that. I would rather see her go out strong, but maybe the company feels they would rather elevate Jax and rebound her quickly when she gets set on Smackdown.
The commentary team talked about Finn Balor being in a singles match. Cole fed it to a video package on Balor.
Match #4 – Finn Balor vs. Jinder Mahal;
Winner: Finn Balor
The Reax: “It is indeed one of the most exciting scenes in sports entertainment today,” Cole said when Balor made his entrance. Mahal got a fast start but Balor started to fire up. Mahal hit a nice forearm to the head, but Balor rallied with a kick. He followed with a Slingblade then a running drop kick before hitting Coup de Grace for the win.
Afterward, Bray Wyatt appeared on the screen and said Raw is his new home. He said he didn’t come empty handed and brought the gift of payback. He said the world will be able to watch him torture Randy Orton in his house of horrors match. Wyatt turned his attention to Balor, and told him to watch himself because Wyatt would be. “Monday Night Raw, I’m here.”
Looks like Wyatt is moving over to Raw, rather than moving Balor over to Smackdown. I do like the feud, but I am a bit concerned about what talent is going to be on the Smackdown side going forward. I am hoping we don’t see the hocus-pocus side of Wyatt now that he’s on Raw.
They ran a Sasha Banks PSA, and Cole noted she is a Raw talent. Cole recapped Miz, Maryse, and Dean Ambrose showing up at the beginning of the show, and the commentary team also noted Apollo Crews, Kalisto, Heath Slater, and Rhyno are all also coming to the show.
Bill Says: Seems like more people are moving around than expected. The one good thing – they are NOT announcing the Raw talent heading to Smackdown. A clever way to keep people invested and watching Smackdown tomorrow night to see what talents are moving over.
Match #5 – The Miz (w/Maryse) vs. Sami Zayn
Winner: Sami Zayn
The Reax: Cole said people called Zayn neurotic. Ugh. Zayn tried for a flip dive but Miz pulled Maryse in front so Zayn stopped. Miz tried for his Daniel Bryan kicks, but Zayn countered with a Blue Thunder Bomb. Zayn tried to set the Helluva Kick, but Maryse pulled Miz out. Zayn followed, then chased Miz in the ring. Maryse held Zayn’s boot, which opened the door for Miz to try his finish. Zayn countered to a roll-up for the win.
Miz looked like he kicked out on two, and then he protested. The commentary team didn’t really make much of it though, so not sure what to think there.
They hyped a Roman Reigns interview for after the break. Graves announced Kevin Owens vs. Dean Ambrose in a champion vs. champion match for later.
Backstage, Cole asked Roman Reigns if he feels responsibility or remorse that Wrestlemania may have marked the end of Undertaker’s career. Reigns said he felt a lot of things, and called it the greatest win of his life but yet the heaviest and most bittersweet. Reigns said he respects Taker and asked “how do you prepare to retire a legend?” Reigns said it is what it is, and he did what he said he would do. “I’m the big dog here, and this is my yard now.”
Braun Strowman attacked Reigns, running him into a garage door repeatedly. Security tried to cut Strowman off, but he ignored them and powerslammed Roman into a production case. Strowman left Reigns laying, then EMTs showed up to treat Reigns. A “You deserve it” chant got started as Reigns was strapped to a board and hauled off.
They recapped it, then they showed the EMTs pushing Reigns out to an ambulance when Strowman pushed them aside and threw the stretcher off a loading dock. They put Reigns in the ambulance, then Strowman said he wasn’t finished and shoved the ambulance over on its side.
Bill Says: Well, that’s one way to show Strowman as a monster I suppose. But, maybe a monster babyface. The angle was great and Strowman looked completely merciless. Reigns in the interview really didn’t change his tenor or tone and continues to be the “nice guy” overall. I did think the “you deserve it” chant for a stretcher job was a bit of a reach. Stay classy, Long Island.
The commentary team recapped the previous angle and showed Reigns being put in an ambulance and taken away. Cole said he has been at the desk for 20 years and can’t recall a moment like that. The crowd sang the “goodbye” song and Cole noted that they were sending a reporter to the hospital for updates.
Match #6 – Matt and Jeff Hardy, Cesaro and Sheamus vs. Luke Gallows, Karl Anderson, and The Shining Stars;
Winner: Matt and Jeff Hardy and Cesaro and Sheamus
The Reax: Cole noted that the champions were tagging with the number one contenders. “The Drifter” Elias Samson appeared before the match got started and Graves asked why he was there. After a break, Jeff tagged to Matt, which brought on Delete chants. Matt worked over Primo and Epico until Gallows hit a boot. Jeff jumped off of Matt and onto several guys out on the floor. Matt held on the ropes to block a backstabber attempt then hit the Twist of Fate. Jeff followed with the Swanton bomb for the win.
No issues between champs and contenders, and they shook hands after. I wouldn’t say this is the right night to try and heat things up since it would get lost in the shuffle of the talent shake-up, but it might not have been a bad idea to tease a little something since the pay per view is coming up very quickly. Elias Samson didn’t do anything, so I guess he just drifted over to Raw?
Dana Brooke was reading when Emma entered. She said Brooke would have never been on Raw had it not been for her. Emma said she was there to pick up the pieces after Charlotte dumped Brooke. Dana said Emma was having an identity crisis, and the women’s division has gotten better since Emma was around. She admitted she might not be the best, but she’s making strides and learning to stand on her own two feet. She said she wouldn’t be with Emma, or anyone, anymore.
Bayley was hyped for an appearance after the break. They showed a graphic that touted Sheamus as the first ever Irish-born WWE and World Heavyweight Champion.
Sasha Banks came to the ring and said she had unfinished business. She welcomed Bayley to the ring and hugged her once she got there. They showed kids in the crowd as she came to the ring. Bayley thanked her for the introduction and said she had something to say that she’s been waiting for since Wrestlemania.
She thanked the fans for being there with her since her first day in NXT and staying by her side. Sasha said Wrestlemania didn’t go how she planned but she wanted to congratulate Bayley on the biggest moment of her career. She said that moment was over though, and seemed to be looking to ask for a title match.
Alexa Bliss’ entrance interrupted her, and she got a loud pop. Alexa asked if they could be more nauseating, and she got cheered. She told the fans she doesn’t need their approval. She said she was there to take over the women’s division and proclaimed her arrival on Raw. Mickie James made her entrance, and that didn’t please Alexa.
Mickie touted herself as a six time champion and said she was back on the red brand. She told Bliss her nightmare had just begun. Nia Jax showed up and knocked Mickie down, then roughed up Banks and Bayley. Bliss escaped untouched. Jax held the title belt up over Bayley then dropped it on her. Bliss smiled at ringside.
Bill Says: I like the shifting in the Women’s division. Charlotte seems Smackdown bound, which will change the picture over there quite a bit as well. I wonder who else moves from Raw to Smackdown in terms of the women? Poor Mickie though – immediately taken down by Jax in what could have been a good moment for her. Sigh. Can’t catch a break.
They advertised TJ Perkins vs. Jack Gallagher for 205 Live (Drew’s got you with the daily double of Smackdown and 205 Live tomorrow night). They recapped the Strowman/Reigns angle, and Cole said Reigns had cracked ribs, internal injuries, and a possibly separated shoulder.
Cole hyped night two of the Superstar Shakeup for Smackdown on Tuesday.
Kevin Owens came to the ring as the commentary team hyped Jericho vs. Owens for Payback. Ambrose came to the ring and Cole noted that Ambrose would be in his home state of Ohio on Raw next week as the show would be in Columbus.
Match #7 – Dean Ambrose (Intercontinental Champion) vs. Kevin Owens (US Champion);
The Reax: Ambrose tried for Dirty Deeds early but Owens escaped and rolled to the floor. Ambrose gave chase and threw Owens into the barrier a couple times. Cole put Ambrose over as being a fry short of a happy meal as he controlled the offense going to commercial.
Owens took over the offense after the break, and commentary emphasized that no titles were at stake. Owens sent Ambrose to the floor then followed, where he put Ambrose on his shoulders then tossed him side-first into the post.
Ambrose rallied, hitting a suicide dive. Later, Ambrose hit his top rope elbow on Owens out on the floor. Back inside, Ambrose jumped from the ropes into a boot. Owens hit the package powerbomb for two. The fans chanted for Jericho briefly. Ambrose tried his Wacky Line, but Owens hit a superkick. Ambrose countered Owens’ next move and hit Dirty Deeds to win.
After, Chris Jericho came to the ring and put Owens down with a Codebreaker. The fans chanted for him and his music played. Cole asked who would be leaving Raw and heading to Smackdown and hyped the show as Raw ended.
Even though nothing was at stake here in the main event, it was still good. Ambrose going over, and with both secondary titles on Raw now, leads me to believe Owens heads to Smackdown. Will Jericho follow? We didn’t see Corbin come over with Ambrose on this show, and they’re feuding still. I guess there’s nothing stopping them from making other moves on Smackdown tomorrow night to realign feuds if they want to continue them.
If you were looking for all the moves to be announced, this show did nothing for you. But, they did make Smackdown feel more important and must-see because now you have to see that show in order to see the completion of the juggling of talent. With that, we can’t really judge one way or the other how the talent exchanges will play out. I am happy about some, and some leave me scratching my head.
Drew will have your Smackdown and 205 Live coverage tomorrow night, with more on the Superstar Shakeup. I will be back on Wednesday with Ring of Honor and Ring Rap Audio. See you then.