1) “This is My Yard Now” The first fifteen minutes of the show were basically the crowd chanting their hearts out. First, they gave a very respectful tribute that lasted for quite some time. As the minutes passed, half of the crowd threw in “Roman sucks!” and that’s when the Big Dog came out to say hello. The reaction was incredible as the crowd streamed through a number of PG and not-so PG chants before Reigns could even say a single word. He could simply move the microphone ever so slightly to talk and the boos would get louder and louder. Roman dropped one simple, somewhat disrespectful line, and went straight to the back.
The “Raw after ‘Mania” crowds are always a different animal, but that reaction from them was something else. I had a wonderful laugh when they cut to the announcers who (much like last year) instantly made excuses and let the TV audience know this crowd is not your typical crowd, so please, ignore them. That kind of talk is so lame on WWE’s part, fans can take in, process, and decide on their own without that kind of unnecessary input…even if the crowd did get kind of annoying with the beach balls.
2) Wonderful! Just like that, the Raw Tag Division is interesting again with the unbelievable return of Matt and Jeff Hardy. Matt looked to be finding his middle ground between being “extreme” and “broken,” it will be intriguing to see if he’ll work back towards what we saw in Impact or if those days are behind him. That gimmick helped get him back to WWE, so hopefully we will get to enjoy it a bit more as we move forward. Not that anyone really cares, but Anderson and Gallows have completely sunk down the rankings going from a sub-par championship run to losing both the titles and their rematch on Raw. Still think those two would do a lot better as enforcers in a stable, that window seems to have closed for the moment.
3) Vince Shaking Things Up Vince doesn’t show up on TV so much these days, so when he does appear, you know things are going down. Not only did he already announce a draft of some kind (“Superstar Shakeup,” to be exact) will take place next week, but he announced the new Raw General Manager, Teddy Lo- no, not him, get out of here Teddy. It’s Kurt Angle! His introduction came with a thunderous applause from the crowd as he gave a super quick promo. I’m sure he’ll bring some humor to the role until someone pisses him off and he ends up in match, which will be great. His segment with Enzo and Cass was hilarious as he tried to figure out what the hell those two were saying for most of the conversation. Getting back to next week’s show, it looks like isn’t going to waste much time freshening up both brands by moving some of their Superstars around. Although it’s faster than most expected, I like the move, might as well keep the hype train going for as long as possible in the afterglow of WrestleMania.
4) Evil Returns! What’s it been, like three or four years since we’ve seen her? Despite the incredibly long wait, Emma came in hot going went right over to commentary to let the crowd know she’s back, and also put some fear into the heart of Byron Saxton. Once the match kicked off, was initially going to start, but Emma tagged herself in to take on her former buddy, Dana Brooke. After thoroughly wrecking her, Emma called for the champ to get in the ring and face her. Looks like the next championship feud will be between and Emma!
Mustafa Ali I’ll admit this was a strange spot for Ali to come out to as the crowd didn’t exactly react, well, at all. Those who have been paying close attention though will know very well that Ali has quietly killing it in the ring for quite some time. Unfortunately, Ali was performing in front of a bunch of cats as a beach ball took away much of their attention, despite there being an incredible match going on in the ring. did a fantastic job in this (not giving the live crowd the Red Arrow), but Ali showed exactly why he received that spot on last night’s show. Spanish Fly forever and ever.
The Revival Their main roster debut finally came and knocking over that stupid New Day Pops cart was enough to get them here. Plus, they got a win over one of the most dominant tag teams ever in WWE, not a shabby start. I wouldn’t be surprised if they show up on SmackDown tonight.
Paul Heyman Brock isn’t a big talker, that’s well known, but couldn’t they mix it up every once in awhile? It would be great to hear from the new champion, no matter how short the promo. I find myself tuning out more and more when Heyman goes on one of his rants or stories like last night.
Braun Strowman He hasn’t exactly had the best month, losing clean to at Fastlane, punked out by The Undertaker on multiple occasions, and did nothing in the Andre Battle Royal. So, now he wants a title shot, what? Brock seemed to be down to fight and then Braun backs down, again! I get the whole “On my time” thing that heels love to do, but it drives me mad that Braun backs down from anyone. I’d even take him attempting to brawl, lose, and retreat, over simply walking away. Maybe, with all of these returns, it’s time to reel in expectations a bit with how WWE will use Braun going forward.
This Week’s MVP
Finn Balor After being out for about eight months, Balor finally made his return to Raw last night thanks to Chris Jericho (who could be done for awhile) being taken out by Samoa Joe and Kevin Owens. Even though it didn’t make a ton of sense why Balor would help Rollins, announcing framed it as “Time heals all wounds.” Balor received a huge ovation and was able to get the win for his team to close out Raw. This week’s MVP could have gone to Kurt Angle and maybe even Roman Reigns for how he kicked off the show, but it’s just really great to see Balor back on WWE TV.
If this was just any old Raw, it would have been considered absolutely amazing, but since it’s the first one after WrestleMania, expectations are a bit higher. We got to see plenty of people return/debut with Emma, The Revival, Balor, and Kurt Angle. Vince showed up with plenty of news, Reigns nearly started a riot, and the Hardys are back with Cesaro/Sheamus hot on their trail. A really fun show that was missing a big ending, I was fully expecting something to happen after the tag match, but with the Superstar Shakeup next week, WWE looks to be holding off on major stories until the rosters are set.
Grade (out of 10): 8 (Last Week: 5)
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