THE RAW RECAP – 23/04/2018

Here we are again on Monday night and Greatest Royal Rumble is this Friday (April 27), so I guess this is the go home show. That probably explains why the preview for tonight’s show is vague and short. Brock Lesnar is paying RAW a visit ahead of his steel-cage match with Roman Reigns. There will be some fallout from the Superstar Shake-up. Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt are going to be in action. And there are hints that Stephanie McMahon hasn’t finished taking her WrestleMania loss out on Kurt Angle. That’s all we’ve got to go on.

I’m Amanda, and I’m here to make sure you know what’s what on Monday Night RAW.

The Opening Segment

Tonight’s show opened with the tolling of the bell for Bruno Sammartino with the RAW roster onstage, followed by a tribute package.

Tribute to Bruno Sammartino
photo credit: wwe.com

Booker T is back on commentary.

Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman started off the show proper.

Heyman said the crowd were booing because they think he’s going to gloat, then gloated a bit. Apparently, Brock Lesnar does not gloat, Brock Lesnar conquers. Paul Heyman gloats, he proved that with more gloating. Brock Lesnar doesn’t dwell on the past. He looks forward to the future, especially this Friday in Saudi Arabia. He equated Lesnar being locked in a cage with having a UFC fight, talked about Lesnar pinning Reigns and getting a substantial raise with his new contract, and suggested that the steel cage was Lesnar’s idea.

Finally, Roman Reigns showed up. It felt like Heyman had been talking for a week. Lesnar and Reigns stared at each other for an age then Reigns said he doesn’t know what state he’ll come back in, but he’s coming home with that title. That was it.

Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar
photo credit: wwe.com

The Other Stuff

– Elias vs Bobby Roode – Elias only got to introduce himself before Glorious kicked in and Roode appeared. Roode and Elias will both be participants in Friday’s Rumble match. Technically decent, but I find Bobby Roode exceedingly dull so it felt long. Fifty-fifty on the offence then Elias won by roll-up.

– Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt cut a promo about their RAW Tag Team Championship match at Greatest Royal Rumble, and tonight’s match with the Ascension. I’m not sure they actually said anything except that they were going to win.

– Congratulations to The Rock and his partner on the birth of their daughter.

– The Ascension vs Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt – The Ascension moved across to RAW in the shake-up. Michael Cole is still struggling to process what happened at Ultimate Deletion. Matt Hardy applauded Viktor doing a cartwheel, calling it wonderful. Not a bad match, a little too short to develop much. Sadly, the Ascension didn’t mark their RAW debut with a win. Hardy and Wyatt double teamed Viktor for the win.

– The Sami and Kevin Show, featuring Kurt Angle – Owens and Zayn started by lamenting the loss of Miz from RAW, then moved on to talking about how they’re going to win the 50-man Rumble match at Greatest Royal Rumble. They sang ‘you suck’ to bring Angle out and gave him a fold up picnic chair to sit on. They talked about falling out with bosses, and the ‘conspiracy’ they were the victim of on SmackDown Live. Owens mentioned attacking Vince McMahon and said their presence on RAW proves that Stephanie McMahon must either really appreciate their talent or really dislike Angle. Kurt Angle said he wouldn’t be surprised because without him she’d still have Rousey under her thumb, and full use of her arm. He revealed he’s going to be in the rumble, as are Daniel Bryan and Chris Jericho. To repay Owens and Zayn for the way they’ve treated him, he gave them a match tonight, against Bobby Lashley and Braun Strowman.

The Sami and Kevin Show
photo credit: wwe.com

– In the locker room, Seth Rollins was approached by Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel. The former Miztourage were looking to align themselves with Rollins and were wearing his shirts. The crowd booed as they suggested they could be the new Shield. Rollins declined the offer.

– Drew McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler vs Titus Worldwide – Honestly, I’m not sure this is the company McIntyre wants to be keeping, three superstars WWE haven’t known what to do with. McIntyre appears to have come back from injury in great shape though. And the Claymore into Zigzag finisher is nice. Post-match Ziggler was asked why he brought Drew McIntyre with him. It’s because he wanted someone dangerous to watch his back. McIntyre said the locker room has gone soft. He’s not what WWE wants, he is the wake-up call this place needs. Ziggler said they don’t give a damn about stealing the show, they are the show.

Drew McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler vs Titus Worldwide
photo credit: wwe.com

– Chad Gable thanked Kurt Angle backstage for bringing him to RAW. Angle reassured him he was brought over as a singles competitor because he has a lot of fire. Jinder Mahal interrupted and complained about being made to defend (and lose) his title last week. He said he’ll win it back on Friday and insisted Angle sends him back to SmackDown Live. When Angle said no, Mahal threatened him with Stephanie McMahon. Gable told him to have some respect. Mahal made some size jokes, Gable pushed him, and Angle sent them to the ring to sort it out.

– Jinder Mahal vs Chad Gable – Sunil Sigh distracted Gable so Mahal could push him off the steps and beat him down before the match. Once the ref had ascertained Gable was good to go, the match was good. Power versus speed and technique, Gable is extremely talented. After taking a huge amount of punishment, Gable blocked the Khallas and managed to pin Mahal.

Jinder Mahal and Chad Gable
photo credit: wwe.com

– Renee Young interviewed The Riott Squad. She asked them if they were trying to send a message by attacking Bayley and Sasha Banks last week. They said it was a message to the whole locker room. They’re not there to build bridges or become role models, they’re there to disrupt. They’ll even give their teammates tonight, Alexa Bliss and Mickie James, the Bayley and Sasha treatment if they get too familiar.

– Samoa Joe promo – He said he’d heard Roman Reigns’ claims that he’s going to return to America as champion, and he’s worried he’s not going to have an opponent for Backlash. If history is anything to go by, Brock Lesnar will leave Reigns buried in the sands of the Arabian desert.

– Dallas and Axel turned up in the locker room again, this time wearing Finn Balor’s shirt and trying to align with him. Again, they were unsuccessful.

– Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn vs Braun Strowman and Bobby Lashley – Zayn and Owens tried to escape as soon as the bell rang. That tactic finished with Braun Strowman throwing Zayn into the barricade and Owens into the ring. Bizarre to see Owens and Zayn in such an underdog position, but the whole focus was on how much power they were giving up. Owens pulled Strowman off the apron to prevent Lashley tagging out, but it only delayed the inevitable. Strowman happily split his time between knocking Zayn about inside the ring, and popping outside to level Owens. Sami Zayn ran off up the ramp, Lashley caught him and threw him back to Strowman. Strowman and Lashley took Zayn apart, he took both their finishers before Strowman put him out of his misery.

Braun Strowman slams Sami Zayn
photo credit: wwe.com

– No Way Jose vs Baron Corbin –Corbin decided Jose’s conga line was a ploy to allow some of them to jump him while they were fighting. He walked away and refused the fight. No Way Jose had a little dance instead. He congaed back up the ramp and, as soon as the line vanished backstage, Corbin attacked him from behind and beat him up on the stage.

– Alexa Bliss cut an ‘anti-bullying’ promo, against Nia Jax, called A Moment of Bliss. More fat-shaming and vileness. Nothing of interest of value.

– Seth Rollins and Finn Balor vs Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel – Now Miz has gone, Dallas and Axel have to try to legitimise themselves as a tag team. I’m not sure this helped. I wish they’d moved wither Rollins or Balor to SmackDown Live, hopefully they’ll separate them after Friday. Decent match for showcasing Balor and Rollins. Curtis Axel took a Stomp and a Coup de Grace before getting pinned by Balor.

Seth Rollins takes out Curtis Axel
photo credit: wwe.com

– Backstage segment with the ‘good’ team with Natalya hyping everyone up. Bayley and Sasha Banks were left as the final two. They looked at each other, and Bayley walked away.

The Final Segment – Sasha Banks, Bayley, Nia Jax, Ember Moon, and Natalya vs Ruby Riott, Liv Morgan, Sarah Logan, Alexa Bliss, and Mickie James

A post-shake-up multi-woman match just to show everyone how the heel/face dynamic lies now in the RAW women’s division. Hopefully, it’s a chance for them to build some individual feuds as well.

Unsurprisingly, this was a great match. Sasha Banks got some time against both Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan. Ember Moon is being built as a huge star. She dominated Morgan in their stint.

Sarah Logan didn’t appreciate Mickie James tagging herself in. It might have been a touch hard.

Mickie James looked like she was going to tap to the Sharpshooter, but Sarah Logan took her out with a chop block. The ref had concerns about whether Natalya could continue but she managed to tag Bayley in, only to be cheap-shotted by Mickie James. Natalya was treated by medics on the outside for the rest of the match.

Chaos in the 10-woman tag match
photo credit: wwe.com

Bayley tagged Nia Jax in against Ruby Riott, and the whole team came in to prevent the pin on Riott. Chaos broke out and Nia Jax launched herself off the apron and skittled everyone.

Mickie James was the first up and went back to attacking Natalya. Ronda Rousey ran down to save her friend. Rousey was helping Natalya up when James baseball-slide dropkicked her over. Seconds later, James was on the mat in an armbar and the Natalya and friends lost by disqualification.

The show closed out with Rousey’s music playing while Rousey and an official helped Natalya to the back and commentary advertised Greatest Royal Rumble for the hundredth time.

Ronda Rousey and Mickie James
photo credit: wwe.com

So many adverts for Greatest Royal Rumble tonight. Fair enough, the card is stacked. It would have been nice for them to directly reference the fact the women aren’t allowed to compete over there, but I guess that was too much to ask for. The first hour of the show was a bit slow, but it picked up and turned into a decent enough episode. Plenty to look forward to in the coming weeks.