This week’s edition of Monday Night Raw took place North of the border in Montreal, Quebec and was advertised as the first half of the “Superstar Shake-up.”
The show started off with Stephanie McMahon in the ring, and then shortly after brought her brother, the self-proclaimed “best in the world” Shane McMahon down to the ring to kick the night off.
After a bit of pandering to the crowd with his best in the world shtick, the first shake-up of the night took place when The Miz’s music hit and instead of coming down the ramp, Miz made his way through the crowd.
He and Shane would get into a brawl, with Miz eventually getting sent over the barricade, only to reappear with a steel chair in hand and beat down Shane. As the segment came to a close, a quite obvious gash on Miz’s head appeared.
The McMahons were playing full-on heels in this segment, getting the crowd riled up. It worked well, and Miz standing tall at the end likely means we will see some sort of rematch down the line, perhaps at Money in the Bank?
Ricochet and Alister Black were the next superstars to make their way to the ring, meaning in all likelihood they would be on the red brand. But as we have seen this brand split does not precisely have tight rules, so it is quite possible we could see them on Smackdown Live tomorrow night.
This led to an eight-man tag team match between Black, Ricochet, Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder facing The Revival and the debuting Viking Experience?
I put the question mark there because of their similar look to the current NXT champions the War Raiders. Well, turns out they WERE the War Raiders, just under a different name. I do not understand this name change & pray it isn’t permanent. The name Viking Experience sounds more like a ride you see at Disney World than one you associate with a tag team.
This led to an okay tag team match, nothing special overall. The Viking Experience (barf) picked up the pinfall win. Mainly I spent the majority of this match thinking why in the world Vince thought changing the War Raiders name would be a smart idea, especially when their new name is a rough one.
Following that, uh, interesting segment, Finn Balor entered the arena, and Michael Cole let us all know that Balor would be facing a Superstar of the McMahon’s choosing who is making their Raw debut.
Turns out that Superstar was Andrade. After Zelina Vega & Andrade himself took turns on the microphone, a match ensued. Overall it was a reasonably good TV match, with Andrade picking up the win thanks in part to some help from Vega. This win for Andrade could possibly sew the seeds of a push in the coming weeks.
It’s nice to see Andrade get a fresh start on Raw (that phrase will be repeated several times for the next two nights) and possibly inserted into the Intercontinental Championship picture, although Balor could be on his way to the blue brand. It’s a position that Andrade deserves & has earned and hopefully will pay off with some solid matches.
Next up we got an Elias segment. Even though we see him out there with this same shtick on an almost weekly basis, it does not get old for me. This an entertaining man and he knows how to get a reaction out of the crowd week in and week out.
And this time Elias was interrupted by Mysterio. After a quick skirmish between the two Superstars, Mysterio stood tall, only for Lars Sullivan to come out and beat down the master of the 619.
WWE has done a great job of building up Lars, I particularly like the fact he is taking out legends thus far. First, it was Kurt Angle, then it was the Hardy Boyz, and now it’s Mysterio. This legitimizes Sullivan in my eyes and makes him a legit threat on whichever brand ends up selecting him.
We then got Bobby Roode and Chad Gable inviting any tag team to come out and face them, bringing out the six-time tag team champions The Usos. The move was rumored to have been in the works, so it was not a total shock to see Jimmy & Jey make their way to the red brand.
This is a fresh start (see I told you I’d be using that phrase again) should work in the Usos favor, and they should immediately be in the picture for the Raw Tag Team titles as they are one of the top tag teams in all of professional wrestling.
Then we got to arguably the best segment of the night. Sami Zayn made a return to his hometown, and the crowd was HOT for Zayn. They chanted his name, his theme music, and other tunes.
Sami soaked it all up, before berating his hometown, saying they aren’t his people and he hates the citizens of Montreal, and that’s why he moved to Orlando.
Zayn’s character is remarkable and pair that with his elite in-ring ability, WWE has a brilliant act on their hands. Here’s to hoping they use him the right way moving forward.
Up next was the IIconics, who was set to challenge Bayley and a mystery partner since Sasha Banks was still not on TV after the reported incidents from last week’s Wrestlemania.
This brought out another new addition to Raw, and that was Naomi. With Jimmy Uso & his brother Jey debuting on Raw, Namoi was a logical choice to come on to Monday Night Raw due to the fact she’s married to Jimmy.
This was an alright match, nothing too exciting, and more surprisingly Bayley & Naomi picked up the win. I get they wanted to make a debuting Naomi look strong, but doing it at the expense of the newly crowned tag-team champions does not seem like a smart strategy to employ.
Then wouldn’t you know it, we had a rare EC3 sighting, who came down to the ring for a match on Raw in the first time in forever. But it was not EC3’s lucky day as “The Monster Among Men” Braun Strowman marched down to the ring to meet him, and the bell never even rang, as Strowman threw EC3 pillar to post.
I get WWE is trying to make Braun look strong, but there are only so many times you can do that before it just becomes stale. But I do have to admit seeing him throw EC3 clear through the stage was still a unique sight to behold.
Hopefully, with the Superstar shakeup, we get Braun moving to Smackdown Live, this would create new matchups for the Monster Among Men and hopefully liven his character up a bit.
This then brought what I thought was quite a unique interaction between Bruan and the double champion Becky Lynch. All in all, it was something minor, but personally, I thought it was a nice little bit thrown in there by WWE.
Becky’s reason for being in the ring was a matchup again the leader of the Riott Squad Ruby Riott. After months of Becky being wrapped up in the Main Event storyline, it was refreshing (see there it is again) to see Becky 2 Belts doing what she does best, getting in the ring and throwing down with whoever is in front of her.
Lynch & Riott had quite a solid TV match, with Lynch of course standing tall at the end of the match, tapping out Riott with her Disarmher submission move.
I’m intrigued to see where WWE goes with Lynch following her trek to the top of the WWE Women’s division. The Lacey Evans bits were a good bit of storytelling, as was this with the Riott Squad.
To me it looks like WWE is shaping this story to be that Becky will be facing challengers from all directions, and ‘The Man’ will need to keep her head on a swivel to keep both belts around her shoulders.
This was case and point when Natalya came marching out to throw her name in the pool of challengers for the Raw Women’s Title. But amid their interaction, Evans came out and informed the two women that she would face Natalya, with the winner getting the first shot at Becky.
The resulting match was a solid back and forth, with Evans picking up the win and securing her spot against ‘The Man’ for the Raw Women’s Title. Evans is an excellent first challenger for Lynch post-Wrestlemania, she displayed some impressive in-ring skill and should be a good opponent for Lynch at the next pay-per-view.
This then led to Raw’s Main Event, which was advertised throughout the night as a six-man tag match featuring Baron Corbin, Bobby Lashley, and Drew McIntyre taking on Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins and a mystery partner.
That mystery partner was another incredible addition for the Red Brand in the form of the Phenomenal A.J. Styles. This was yet another name that had been speculated to switch brands in the shake-up.
These six men had quite a few solid spots in the six-man tag match, ending with the three faces all hitting their finishing moves, culminating with Styles hitting the phenomenal forearm and pinning Lashley for the win.
It was a bit depressing though to see Corbin, Lashley, and McIntyre back together in a faction yet again. These are just three heels thrown together (again), and hopefully, it does not last beyond this episode of Raw.
McIntyre is the only star among those three ‘bad guys’ in the Main Event. He needs to be the featured star going forward, after all, he is the perfect foe for Rollins post-Wrestlemania.
Overall this was a jam-packed episode of Raw, with a lot of moving parts coming into the mix on the red brand. I felt like this episode was much better than the last week, as it moved along much smoother. I’m intrigued to see where WWE goes with these new storylines that were started last night.
With all that being said, I’d rate Raw 3.5 out of 5.