By: Keila Cash
Hello everyone and welcome to another installment of The Raw Exposé. Tonight’s episode of Monday Night Raw emanated from the Nassau Coliseum in Long Island, New York. After Vince McMahon’s blockbuster announcement from last week, The Superstar Shakeup officially gets underway tonight.
It’s night one of a two-night extravaganza where the General Managers from Raw and SmackDown Live trade talent back and forth in order to bolster their rosters during Post-WrestleMania season. The rumor mill has been running rampant about who is going where. How did the shakeup shakeout for Raw? Did SD Live suffer serious damage heading into night two? The answer to these pressing questions can be found throughout this blog. Without further ado, let’s dissect tonight’s episode of Raw in no particular order.
· The Superstar Shakeup got off to a hot start when The Miz, Maryse, and Intercontinental Champion Dean Ambrose made it known that they were traded to Raw.
· Miz and Maryse continued their John Cena and Nikki Bella impersonations while Dean Ambrose pretended they were actually the recently engaged couple by ribbing them nonstop.
· Miz and Maryse ended their charade which allowed Ambrose to nail Miz with Dirty Deeds as the opening segment came to an end.
· This was a fine way to kick off the show. With Ambrose moving to Raw, it appears that Kevin Owens is heading to SmackDown because is missing a secondary champion. We shall see if my theory checks out as the Superstar Shakeup continues.
· It should also be noted that all three members of The Shield are on the same brand. Let the reunion speculation begin!
· The Revival defeated The New Day when Dash and Dawson nailed Xavier Woods with the Shatter Machine in mid-air for the win. Woods’ top rope flying elbow from across the ring wasn’t pretty as his knees landed on the canvas before hitting the move. Outside of that spot, the match was solid for the most part. The Revival’s booking thus far has been strong. Let’s hope they continue to string together wins as they are the perfect contenders for the Raw Tag Team Titles whenever the opportunity presents itself.
· Neville planting seeds of doubt in TJ Perkins’ head was a nice storyline development. A heel turn would do Perkins a world of good because the cocky personality he displayed during the opening round of the Cruiserweight Classic is far superior to the video game aficionado he portrays on television. That might be his hobby in real life, but it’s not clicking on the big stage. Let’s hope this backstage segment is the first step towards giving TJP a character revamp.
· Curt Hawkins’ debut on Raw went swimmingly as he got knocked out by The Big Show. Here endeth the analysis.
· TJ Perkins defeated Austin Aries with an inside cradle thanks to a distraction from Neville. Neville made his way down the ramp which caused Aries to hesitate for a moment which led to the finish. The action was solid, but it was too choreographed in spots. The lack of crowd heat didn’t help matters either as the match never got past a certain level in terms of excitement.
· After the match was over, Perkins attacked Aries from behind and laid him out with the Detonation Kick. It appears that TJP is joining the dark side of the force after all. Neville is not only the King of the Cruiserweights, he’s also the King of Jedi Mind Tricks as well.
· Seth Rollins will remain on Monday Night Raw after Kurt Angle stepped in to reassure Rollins that he was safe from the wrath of Stephanie McMahon. For now…
· Rollins cut his best babyface promo since his de facto turn last fall as the crowd was hanging on his every word. He was very likable and made me want to root for him. Let’s hope this new and improved Rollins sticks around because he has the potential to get over as the top babyface on Raw.
· After Angle’s announcement, Samoa Joe attacked Rollins from behind. Rollins and Joe had a back and forth brawl which ended with Rollins knocking Joe out of the ring with an enzuiguri. I think it’s safe to pencil in Rollins vs. Joe at Payback in a few weeks.
· Unless my eyes are deceiving me, I think I saw The Drifter walking through the crowd during the Charlotte-Nia Jax match.
· Nia Jax defeated Charlotte with a Samoan Drop in a so-so match. It was rough in spots and Charlotte’s foot nailing Jax on the side of the head during her top rope moonsault didn’t help matters either. This is probably Charlotte’s swan song on Raw because she has lost four matches in a row dating back to the WrestleMania go-home show two weeks ago. It’s almost a guaran-damn-tee that The Queen is heading to SD Live tomorrow night.
· Finn Bálor picked up his first singles win since SummerSlam when he defeated Jinder Mahal with the Coup De Grace in a decent match. Mahal had a good hope spot when he drilled Balor with a sick forearm, but the outcome was never in doubt.
· However, the top story was Bray Wyatt making a surprise appearance on the Titantron. Monday Night Raw is Wyatt’s new home and he announced that his House of Horrors match against Randy Orton is now set for Payback in three weeks. Unless this is an inter-promotional match, Orton being traded to Raw makes no sense because SD Live is already down one champion in the form of Dean Ambrose. Let’s hope this is a one shot deal in order to wrap up their storyline.
· Wyatt also put Bálor on notice that he should watch his back. Balor and Wyatt would have an interesting feud if it’s not bogged down by supernatural nonsense.
· Apollo Crews, Kalisto, Heath Slater & Rhyno have made the jump to Raw as well. Perhaps Kalisto will make his long-awaited debut on 205 Live after all…
· Sami Zayn picked up the surprise win over The Miz when he pinned the Hollywood A-Lister with a roll-up. The match was decent, but it was nothing to write home about. Maryse pulling her husband out of dicey situations was a nice recurring theme that ultimately played into the finish of the match. Zayn is still a member of the Raw roster until Angle trades him to SD Live due to sheer annoyance.
· Michael Cole’s exclusive interview with Roman Reigns was cut short when Braun Strowman attacked Reigns backstage. Strowman kicked his ass from pillar to post when he tossed Reigns through a table before slamming him against the garage door.
· Strowman followed things up by dropping Reigns with a Powerslam onto a trunk. He proceeded to push another trunk against Reigns as backstage personnel tried to break things up.
· EMTs put Reigns on a stretch and was about to load him into the ambulance when Strowman went on the attack again as he pushed Reigns off a ledge near the production truck area. The quick edit of Strowman pushing the crash test dummy instead of Reigns was hilarious.
· The paramedics finally loaded Reigns into the ambulance, but Strowman still wasn’t finished. He climbed inside the vehicle to deliver a few more blows before flipping the ambulance over on its side as the segment came to a jaw-dropping conclusion.
· Strowman damn near killed Reigns and none of his Shield brethren came to his rescue. So much for friendship.
· In all seriousness, this was a great way to get heat on Strowman. However, the crowd treated him like a super babyface as they chanted “Thank You Strowman!” and “You Deserve It!” at Reigns in the most sarcastic way possible. It was a memorable segment that will be featured in Strowman’s highlight reel for years to come.
· Drifter Sighting!
· Cesaro & Sheamus and The Hardy Boyz defeated Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows and The Shining Stars when Jeff Hardy pinned Epico with the Swanton Bomb. The action was fast-paced and hard-hitting throughout which was a great way to fend off the 10:30 Lull Period of Death.
· Alexa Bliss and Mickie James have also joined the Raw ranks, but things took a sinister turn when Nia Jax laid out James from behind.
· Bliss pushed Banks in harm’s way which allowed Jax to take out The Boss as well.
· Bayley was a sitting duck as Jax laid her out with a Samoan Drop for good measure. Jax grabbed the Raw Women’s Championship and warned Bayley that she was going to take her title.
· Bliss did a great job breaking up the saccharine promo exchange between Sasha and Bayley. Bliss’ mic work will suit the women’s division well, but she might expose the weakness of the other ladies on the roster because cutting promos is not their strong suit. In any event, Little Miss Bliss will bring some much-needed sassiness to Monday nights.
· In the battle of Champion vs. Champion, Intercontinental Champion Dean Ambrose came out on top as he defeated Kevin Owens with Dirty Deeds to cap off the main event segment.
· Ambrose and Owens had a good match that featured some creative spots such as Ambrose’s sick clothesline to Owens while the US Champion was sitting between the ropes. The action spilled over onto the outside as Ambrose laid Owens out with a suicide dive and flying elbow. Owens took flight as well while keeping things on the ground as well.
· The closing moments of the match featured both men countering each other’s finishers as Owens tried to hit Ambrose with Dirty Deeds only for The Lunatic Fringe to turn the tables by hitting his finisher for the win.
· After the match was over, Chris Jericho came out and nailed Owens with a Codebreaker as Raw went off the air with Jericho standing tall in the ring.
· The Jericho surprise was a nice way to end the show, but it should be interesting to see where he and Owens land when the Superstar Shakeup continues on tomorrow night on SD Live. As I mentioned earlier, the blue brand is missing a secondary title and one can only assume that the Face of America is joining the SmackDown ranks to fill that void. Jericho could join KO as a packaged deal, but it makes their US Title match another inter-promotional bout that continues to blur the lines of the brand extension. Fortunately, the next SD Live PPV is five weeks away which shouldn’t muddy the brand split any further. Hopefully…
· Overall, I thought tonight’s episode of Raw was decent. The Superstar Shakeup was the overarching theme of the show and the buzzword lived up to its moniker as Dean Ambrose, The Miz, Bray Wyatt, Alexa Bliss, and Mickie James joined the red brand.
· Ambrose’s feud with Baron Corbin came to an abrupt end, but that doesn’t mean it’s completely over because Randy Orton will face Wyatt at a Raw exclusive PPV in three weeks. It’s weird, but it appears that the contractual obligations excuse might come into play to explain the inter-brand mingling.
· The in-ring action ranged from serviceable to good with Ambrose and Owens winning best match of the night honors by a wide margin.
· The most memorable moment was Braun Strowman’s attack on Roman Reigns. It was an instant Raw Classic that will be replayed for years to come. It was vicious and comical at the same time. Strowman got his heat back after hitting a rough patch in recent weeks. Here’s hoping his epic beat down on Reigns doesn’t result in another loss at Payback because he needs to be built up like an unstoppable monster who can go toe-to-toe with Brock Lesnar if WWE chooses to go in that direction. If so, Strowman needs to look strong by defeating the New Big Dog at a high profile PPV.
· The fans were extra antsy tonight as they chanted for Zack Ryder and CM Punk early on, but they calmed down after the first hour. Roman Reigns getting sent to the hospital revved them back up as they made the segment with their celebratory chants. It’s the opposite reaction the company was going for, but it was awesome nonetheless.
· Night one of the Superstar Shakeup is in the books. SmackDown Live lost some key players, but I expect Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan to replenish the cupboards to make things Even Steven. AJ Styles staying on SD Live makes me a very happy camper. We are one step closer to Styles vs. Nakamura. *Squeals* We shall see how night two of the Superstar Shakeup shakes out tomorrow night.
On that note, this wraps up another edition of The Raw Exposé. I hope you enjoyed it and I will back tomorrow night with a brand new installment of The SmackDown Files. See you later, boys and girls!