WWE Raw 04/03/17 is this year’s “Raw after Mania” special episode. With WrestleMania 33 in the bag, there is a LOT on the plate for tonight. Will Brock Lesnar see his shadow and disappear with the Universal Title until SummerSlam? Will we see Taker again tonight or will Reigns get a chance to come to terms with what he had to do last night? Will the Hardys be the shot in the arm the Raw tag division needs? Will Balor come back? Will we see any NXT call ups? All of that and more. For once, I’m actually looking forward to Raw!
WWE Raw 04/03/17 Recap
WWE. Then. Now. Forever. We open tonight with a dramatic video package telling the tale of last night’s match between Taker and Reigns.
Cold open on the crowd. No Raw credits, no pyro, and we’re live from Orlando. The crowd chants “Thank you Taker” until a slow burn “Roman sucks” chant starts to build against it. WWE is savage with the signs they’re allowing on TV tonight. I think the worst one I saw said “Roman is worse than polio”. Wow. Eventually, Roman’s music hits to massive boos.
What transpires next is incredible. The crowd boos and chants obscenities and “delete” at Roman for 10 minutes. Every time it dies down, Roman acts like he’s going to speak, doesn’t, and a new chant starts up. Roman handles this brilliantly and again, after this goes for over 10 minutes, Roman simply says “this is my yard now” and drops the mic. Roman leaves to massive boos.
Up next? The Hardys will have to defend their newly acquired titles against Gallows and Anderson.
Wasting no time, Anderson and Gallows head to the ring. We see the Hardys debuting at Mania again and are then sent to break.
Back from break, the Hardys are out to a pop and a big “delete” chant. I know a lot of people are upset about them not being full-blown “broken” here, but there is the legal situation with TNA. Regardless, I think it’d be more compelling of a story to have something happen to “break” Matt again and do that story again, but with WWE money and production behind it. No idea if that is where they’re headed, but it makes a lot of sense if they are. I mean, honestly, Matt and Jeff are back home and won the titles on their first night. What do they have to be “broken” about, yet?
Match #1: The Hardy Bozy (c) vs. Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson (WWE Raw Tag Team Championship Match)
Not bad. It seemed like a given that WWE was going to keep the titles on the Hardys so they had to get this match out of the way. It seems obvious that they have no plans for an extended Hardyz / Club program, but this was still a fun watch nonetheless. Matt goes in peril for a while and makes the hot tag to Jeff who goes on a run. Eventually, Gallows and Anderson hit the Boot of Doom on Jeff, but he kicks out. Gallows and Anderson set up Jeff for a Magic Killer, but Matt trips Anderson from the outside, allowing Jeff to hit a Twist of Fate. We then get “classic Hardy’s” as Matt hits a Twist of Fate, and Jeff finishes Gallows off with a Swanton Bomb.
Verdict: Thumbs Up – The nostalgia is still strong for the Hardys so this was obviously the right move.
Later tonight? Brock Lesnar.
Even later tonight? Seth Rollins & Chris Jericho vs. Kevin Owens & Samoa Joe. Hey, it’s the exact dark match main event announced for the Raw I’m going to in a month.
Next, we see stills from the Rollins vs. HHH match last night.
After that, Neville’s music hits, he’s out, and we head to break.
During the break, WWE Champions presents us with a “rewind” which shows us stills from the Cruiserweight Championship match at Mania.
Back live, Neville cuts a promo in the ring putting himself over and claiming the “real celebration” will happen tomorrow night on 205 Live. He’s interrupted by Mustafa Ali who he’ll be facing next.
Match #2: Neville vs. Mustafa Ali
Hey, live crowd – I loved you in the opening segment, but Mustafa Ali’s Spanish Fly > your stupid beach ball game. Seriously, Ali and Neville have a “205 Live quality” match and the crowd is too busy watching beach balls bounce through the arena. Neville acts like he’s going to put Ali away with a Red Arrow. However, true to form, he decides this crowd is unworthy, and puts Ali away with a Rings of Saturn. Ali looked great here, even though no one there was watching. Good stuff.
Verdict: Thumbs Up – Great match even though the crowd was terrible during it.
Next, a limo pulls into the building. It’s Vince McMahon! Power walking is about to intensify!
Back from break, “No Chance In Hell” hits, and Vince heads to the ring. A “Roman sucks” breaks out and Vince only barely sells it with something to the effect of “I guess that’s how you feel”. Nice. Vince is here to announce that we’re going to have a “Superstar Shake Up” next week. I guess it’s not a formal draft, but a series of roster swaps (and likely NXT call ups) but I suppose we’ll find out next week since Vince immediately shifts gears to drum up sympathy for Stephanie.
We learn the table bump will keep her off TV for a while and since there is no GM and Commissioner, Vince is here to name the new GM. Vince’s choice? A man who was just inducted into the Hall of Fame. Cue Teddy Long. Teddy comes out and starts dancing on the stage and Vince cuts him off and says it’s not going to be Teddy. A dejected Teddy Long heads to the back. Vince attempts to announce the GM a few times but nothing happens. He finally just name drops “Kurt Angle” and “Medal” hits to a giant pop.
As Kurt heads to the ring, he’s serenaded with a huge “You Suck” chant along to “Medal”. Great stuff. Kurt hits the ring, says it’s great to be back on RAW, and adds “it’s true, it’s damn true”. Mic drop and he’s out.
Later tonight? We “hear” from Lesnar (through Paul Heyman no doubt).
Even later tonight? Jericho & Rollins vs. Samoa KO.
Back from break, the New Day are out. They’re dressed in gear that I can only describe as “The Road Warriors if they were fans of unicorns”. Kofi also rides the ice cream bicycle to the ring again. Still trying to get that thing over, huh? Anyway, the New Day are bummed that they didn’t get to deliver a whuppin’ at Mania so they issue an open challenge.
Who accepts? Just my favorite “Top Guys” from NXT. The Revival head to the ring to a pop and Dawson knocks over the ice cream bicycle because “Top Guys do Top Guy Things”.
Match #3: The New Day (w/ Kofi Kingston) vs. The Revival
The Revival do their thing. They isolate Woods and manage to counteract the “numbers game” disadvantage to win their Raw debut. Not even a hot tag Big E suplex run was enough to hamper the Revival. Before long, Woods is doing a somersault right into the Shatter Machine. SAY YEAH!
Verdict: Thumbs Up – The Revival were long overdue on the main roster and having them soundly defeat the New Day in their debut is a good sign.
Post-match, the Revival beat down Kofi Kingston. After a while, they do the “let’s hurt a guy’s leg” double team off the top rope. This leaves Kofi clutching his ankle in pain. Top Guys, out!
Next, we see Kurt backstage in what will be his “office”. He has a literally box of gimmicks, that includes his gold medals and the tiny cowboy hat. I have a feeling Kurt Angle as GM is going to be a lot more fun that Mick Foley as GM was. That said, Enzo and Cass appear and Enzo cuts his usual spiel at Kurt. Angle agrees that being a “certified G and a bona fide stud” as well as “being 7 foot tall” are both things that can’t be taught. Enzo says “how you doin?”. Kurt responds that he’s doing great. God, I love this. This devolves into Enzo and Cass being upset they don’t have the titles post-WrestleMania. Kurt puts them in a #1 Contender’s Match against Sheamus and Cesaro. Cass ends up spelling out “sawft” and leaves. Kurt seems amused, but then adds “that’s not how you spell ‘soft'”. Incredible.
Bayley is out next for a six-woman match as we head to break.
Back from break, Dana Brooke is out to team with Bayley. Their partner is Sasha Banks.
Emma’s music hits and MY GOD IT IS FINALLY HAPPENING. Emma appears next to the announce table, aviator shades and all. She climbs up on the table and starts posing and Graves has the same “in awe” reaction I did. Emma leaves, but turns and lunges at Saxton and reminds him it’s all about her. She’s teaming up Nia Jax and Charlotte, who enter in that order.
Match #4: Bayley, Dana Brooke, & Sasha Banks vs. Emma, Nia Jax, & Charlotte Flair
It is so amazing to see Emma working in the ring again. She appears to not have lost a step since the last time we saw her. Emma seems to be setting her sights on Bayley as she focuses in on her a lot during the match. The heels isolate Bayley for a bit, but Bayley eventually breaks free and gets a hot tag to Sasha. Banks goes on a tear before things break down in the ring. Charlotte tries to hit Sasha with a Natural Selection, but Sasha ducks under it and delivers a Banks Statement. Charlotte taps out.
Verdict: Thumbs Up – Between Emma seemingly going after Bayley and after what goes down in the post-match, we’re finally branching out a bit in the Raw women’s division.
Post-match, Charlotte throws a tantrum and shoves both Emma and Nia. Jax takes offense, shoves Charlotte into the corner, and Emma wisely bails to the back. Nia ends up delivering an elbow drop to Charlotte. Looks like Nia Jax vs. Charlotte is going to be a thing sooner rather than later.
Meanwhile, we get an exchange between Sami Zayn and Kurt Angle. Sami hopes to have a similar relationship with Kurt that he had with Mick Foley. Kurt puts over that Sami has the “3 i’s” when Jinder Mahal appears. Jinder is upset that he didn’t win the Battle Royal, because of Gronk, and demands that Kurt do something about it. Jeez guys, Kurt just got hired an hour ago. He had nothing to do with anything that happened at Mania! Anyway, Sami takes offense to Jinder interrupting and they start arguing. Kurt says that under his rule things get settled in the ring, so he makes a match between them.
Back from break, Heyman and Lesnar are out. Heyman puts over Lesnar as the new Universal Champion and tells us a “bedtime story” about a superhero named Goldberg meeting his end in Suplex City. Heyman finishes by saying “You won’t be seeing Bill Goldberg around here anymore”. This gets a “Yes!” chant followed by a “Thank you Brock” chant. Heyman lists off the potential new challengers for Brock, including Seth Rollins, Matt Hardy, Jeff Hardy, or both Hardys vs. Brock. But nah, really they want Roman Reigns. Heyman puts over the inevitable clash between the only two men to beat Taker at Mania. A big “we want Balor” chant breaks out, but Heyman no sells it. Heyman calls out Reigns and says that Brock wants to go right now.
This brings out Braun Strowman. Braun heads to the ring and says when he’s finished with Reigns, he’ll turn his attention to Lesnar. Braun actually pushes Brock back, which causes Brock to put the title on the mat. Massive “Braun” chants break out, but Braun, much like with the Undertaker, decides to leave before escalating things. Strange choice.
Meanwhile, Charly is backstage with Chris Jericho. Y2J puts over all of the various “friends of Jericho” that are in attendance from around the world. Tonight, Jericho will begin his revenge plot against Kevin Owens – starting with the tip of KO’s finger. In a nice call back to the awesome “one finger on the ropes to break the pin” spot, Jericho proceeds to put The Tip of Kevin Owens’ Finger on the List of Jericho. Chris is promptly attacked by Owens, who is joined by Samoa Joe. After a brief brawl, Jericho goes through a table. Uh oh, Seth may not have a partner tonight after all.
Back from break, we see Kurt leaving the trainer’s room. He encounters Seth and shakes his head. Jericho won’t be able to go tonight, but Seth need not worry, as GM Kurt will find a suitable replacement.
Meanwhile, already in the ring? Enzo & Cass. Wow. Sheamus and Cesaro enter next and they’re still sporting the “suit jacket and kilt” look they debuted at Mania. I’m down.
Match #5: Enzo & Big Cass vs. Sheamus & Cesaro (Number One Contenders Match for the WWE Raw Tag Team Championship)
Wow, I’m really glad I turned the corner and began liking this Sheasaro team. Especially since they were able to squeak out a victory over Enzo & Cass here. Sheamus and Cesaro do a great job here of isolating Enzo from Cass and even defeat a Cass comeback. Sheamus is able to break up the Rocket Launcher finisher and send Enzo flying into a Cesaro uppercut. Cesaro gets the pin and the crowd goes wild.
Verdict: Thumbs Up – Either team facing the Hardys in a match would have been entertaining. However, Enzo is still pretty grating so I’m glad Sheasaro got the nod here.
Later tonight? Seth Rollins & ??? vs. Samoa KO.
Back from break, Cole speculates on if WrestleMania was Taker’s “last ride” and we see all of the “Thank you Taker” tweets from WWE Superstars. I think it’s quite apparent he’s done.
Jinder Mahal is out next. Sami Zayn enters last.
Match #6: Jinder Mahal vs. Sami Zayn
Well, this absolutely happens. Mahal manhandles Zayn for a while, before Sami builds up a comeback and puts Mahal away with a Helluva Kick. I’m all for Zayn getting a win on Raw, but this felt less like a “Raw after Mania” match and more like something we’d see on an average episode of Raw.
Verdict: Thumbs In The Middle – Yay, Sami won. Boo, it was a nothing match.
Up next? Main event!
Next week? Superstar Shake Up!
Tomorrow on 205 Live? A number one contender Fatal Four Way between Perkins, Aries, Gallagher, and Ali!
Meanwhile, Kevin Owens is out first for the heel team, followed by Samoa Joe. Rollins enters next and his secret partner is… Finn Balor! Finn is out in his “non-demon” get up and receives a huge return pop.
Match #7: Kevin Owens & Samoa Joe vs. Seth Rollins & Finn Balor
Owens and Joe are starting to coalesce as a team and that is evident in the way they systematically dismantle Rollins in this match. If WWE is not planning a Triple H heel faction, they’re really missing out on something that could be huge. As expected, Rollins is still selling that he’s not 100% and most of his arsenal of moves end up doing damage to him. The inevitable hot tag to Balor happens and he goes on the anticipated run. Joe tries to slap on a Coquina Clutch, but Rollins is able to knee Joe off of Finn. From there, Balor is able to drop Owens in the corner with a kick to set up the Coup de Grace. One double stomp off the ropes later, Finn gets the pin fall victory.
Verdict: Thumbs Up – I’m glad to see Finn back on TV and equally glad we didn’t get swerved with him being the “third man” in this potential “former NXT champion heel faction”. Not bad for the seemingly “standard” Raw tag team main event.
Post-match, Rollins and Balor stand tall in the ring as we go off the air.