It’s the day after WrestleMania 33 and that can only mean one thing: obnoxious crowds trying to take over the show. That’s right, it’s the annual Raw After Mania! I’m Robyn and I’ll be filling in as recapper tonight.
We begin with a recap of last night’s main event highlighting Undertaker’s strength deteriorating throughout the main event until he is finally vanquished by Roman Reigns. Photos of his sombre farewell are interspersed with the crowds shock and career highlights as we fade into the Amway Center where seemingly every person in the building is chanting The Undertaker’s name. Shots of the crowd play free of commentary or interruption for five minutes or so, showing every fan united in gratitude. I cry forever. The Undertaker chants slowly devolve into a free-for-all with counters of “ROMAN SUCKS” for a while till The Big Dog himself enters to resounding boos.
Michael Cole calls it one of the greatest opening moments of Raw ever, thanks Taker for the years of entertainment, clarifying “if that is indeed the end”. Cole reminds us the only two people to beat Undertaker at WrestleMania are Brock Lesnar and the man currently in the ring receiving “FUCK YOU, ROMAN” chants. Oh boy. Roman takes his time, milking the reaction for all it’s worth. The crowd cycle through “ASSHOLE”, “SHUT THE FUCK UP”, “GO AWAY” “RO-MAN SUCKS!” and “DELETE!” chants. After a whole ten minutes or so of fake outs, Roman takes the mic and simply declares: “This is my yard now”. He retreats up the ramp to even more boos and anger from the crowd.
Cole, Byron Saxton and Corey Graves give us our annual reminder that they don’t want us to take the crowd seriously at all as tonight they’ll cheer for the heels and boo the faces. With that we’re into our first match of the night.
MATCH: The Club vs. The Hardy Boys – Raw Tag Team Championship
We recap Wrestlemania’s Tag Team Championship Ladder Match that saw the returning Hardy Boyz regain the Raw Tag Team Title after 9 years away from WWE. The Club then make their entrance looking as angry as they can as we cut to commercials
We return from the break to Jojo giving The Hardy Boyz a great introduction as they enter to large pyro, a big pop and more “DELETE” chants.
- Karl Anderson and Jeff Hardy start us off with Jeff taking the lead and immediately tagging in Matt for a tandem senton. Matt covers Anderson with a kickout at two
- Anderson is thrown into the corner, counters with an elbow but is caught by Hardy with an attempted Twist of Fate which Anderson easily gets out of only to be pushed out the ring. Gallows rushes the ring to avenge his fallen buddy and gets the same treatment. The Hardyz celebrate inside the ring as we cut to break just two minutes from the last one
- We return from commercial with Gallows dominating Matt in the heel corner. He tags in Anderson who bum rushes Matt in the middle of the ring, pushes Jeff off the ring apron and tags Gallows back in.
- Matt Hardy gets some shots in but it’s not enough to stop Gallows splashing him the corner. Another tag and Anderson is in to “FUCK THAT OWL!” chants. A sleeper hold in the middle of the ring has Matt desperate as Anderson tags Gallows in. Gallows focuses in on Matt’s midsection only for Matt to counter with some throws of his own.
- Matt buys himself enough time to tag in Jeff who comes in all guns blazing with a flurry of offence culminating in a splash resulting in a two count. They roll out the ring and Hardy charges Anderson with a Poetry in Motion and then moves the action back to ring.
- Anderson distracts The Hardys long enough to get The Club a chance to deliver the Boot of Doom for a two count. Looking to finish the job they set Jeff up for the Magic Killer only for Matt to get the save. Gallows gets a Twist of Fate from each Hardy, a Swanton Bomb from Jeff and a 3-count from Matt.
Cole lets us know that later tonight, we’re getting Seth Rollins & Chris Jericho vs. Kevin Owens & Samoa Joe plus comments from Brock Lesnar on his win last night as well as The Hardy Boyz on Raw Talk. We recap Seth Rollins victory over HHH last night at WrestleMania and the fact that he returned from injury to slay the king.
MATCH: Neville vs. Mustafa Ali
Pretty, angry as well as pretty angry, Neville enters the arena as Cole walks us through his victory last night over Austin Aries. Neville plays up his victory and assures us Austin Aries is all talk. He says we may not like his methods but his results are undeniable. He announces that tomorrow on 205 Live, we get a true Championship celebration worthy of a king. Before he can elaborate, Mustafa Ali’s music hits to interrupt. The crowd has zero reaction and not for the first or last time tonight, I hate them all.
- Both are eager to get at one another but as the bell rings, Ali immediately dominates. A moonsault from the second rope to Neville on the outside. Neville gets back into the fray by returning to the ring and launching Ali into the air. Neville celebrates Ali landing flat on his face as we cut to commercial.
- Back from the break and the action has picked up with Mustafa Ali locked in a strong headlock. Replays are shown of Neville dropkicking Ali from the top rope during the break. Neville gets Ali to his feet but instantly regrets it when Ali gets a dropkick of his own
- Ali avoids Neville’s wrath by jumping out below the third rope and rolling back in with a devastating neckbreaker. Neville recovers and regains momentum with slow offence followed by a wicked clothesline that knocks Ali down instantly but only for a two count.
- Neville tires of Ali’s resilience and I tire of the crowd repeating last years’ beach ball antics. Neville takes Ali to the top rope only to be on the receiving end of a springboard Spanish fly that has Ali as pained as Neville.
- Neville rises to his feet first to attempt some offence but is countered with Ali’s beautiful head-scissor float over DDT
- Capitalising on a missed 450 splash by Ali, Neville toys with the idea of a Red Arrow but opts to submit Ali with the Rings of Saturn for the victory.
We cut to the back and a limo pulls into the arena containing… the Chairman himself, Mr. McMahon! But why is he here? We’ll find out next!
Back from the 173rd commercial break of the evening, we kick off the second hour with Vince McMahon making his way to his ring. The crowd has fun singing along with his theme and bowing the face that actually runs the place. “Roman sucks” chants break out and Vince timidly says “Tell us how you really feel”. Vince thanks the fans for their passion and momentum. But that momentum must keep going towards the future as he announces that next week we’re getting a “superstar shake-up”. Did somebody open a window, ‘cos it’s getting draft-y up in here.
Vince gets sincere and offers heartfelt apologies for the ‘unplanned’ moment last night where Stephanie was accidentally put through a table by Triple H. The crowd is loving the recap that plays of the moment and Vince lets them have it for being “bloodthirsty”. He moves on to the matter of General Manager and announces our new Raw GM is a 2017 Hall of Fame inductee. Despite Theodore Long dancing his way out in celebration, Vince breaks the news that it’s not him. “My bad!” and a dance out the arena opens the door for Vince to announce that the actual new GM is none other than Kurt Angle!
Kurt comes out with the biggest smile on his face and a spiffy suit that only kinda makes him look like a giant baby. Vince leaves the ring after shaking Angle’s hand and the Olympic Gold medallist looks genuinely touched by the positive reaction. He takes the mic and tells us it’s great to be back on Raw, “Oh, it’s true, it’s damn true!”. He celebrates in the ring and gives us a glimpse of the massive patches of sweat that have formed all over his suit.
MATCH: The New Day vs. The Revival
Orlando feeeeeels the power as The New Day come out, ice cream float in tow. Big E sports a Booty-O’s backpack that rains Booty-O’s? That happened. Big E correctly calls WrestleMania one for the ages and tells us it made all the blood rush from his head to his… something. Kofi laments the fact that they were unable to compete at WrestleMania due to their hosting duties and Xavier Woods lays out an open challenge. Their challenge is answered by NXT call-ups The Revival!
- Big E and Xavier represent New Day tonight as Xavier kicks things off with some flippy offence against… Dash? Scott? The one that doesn’t look like Sabretooth. Scott Dawson.
- Back from break and Sabretooth tags in buff-er Zack Ryder (Dash Wilder) to continue the beatdown on Woods. Woods counters with a missile dropkick and in no time at all, Big E and Dawson are tagged in. Chaos ensues and I don’t even know who is legal. The Revival pick up the win, though.
After the bell has rung, The Revival focus their beatdown on Kofi Kingston. They zero in on his ankle and make their presence felt on their new home on Monday nights.
Backstage, Kurt Angle is unpacking his things till he is greeted by Enzo Amore and Big Cass. Amore gives Kurt his usual shtick but he is left unimpressed and confused, giving them a match against Sheamus and Cesaro later tonight. “That’s not how you spell soft!”
Bayley makes her entrance for 6-woman tag-team action next.
MATCH: Bayley, Dana Brooke & Sasha Banks vs. Emma, Nia Jax & Charlotte
The heel Emma of old is back and this is too much to handle. She makes her entrance walking all over the commentary table, much to Corey Graves’ pleasure.
- Dana kicking things off against her former mentor till Emma tags herself in, eager to be back in action. She rams Dana against the corner, slams her to the ground and demands she tag in Bayley. Dana obliges, and Bayley locks up with Emma. Emma takes control and focuses in on Bayley’s left arm but fails to get the three count. Drop toe hold from Bayley to counter and the spinning thing she does which probably has a name. Commercial.
- Back from break to Nia tagging in Charlotte to take control of Bayley in the Tree of Woe. Tag again to Emma, getting vicious and twisting Bayley’s arm around the ring post. Another tag to Charlotte and she gets in some chops before being thrown over the top rope by Bayley. Charlotte manages to pull Sasha out the way of Bayley’s tag the first time but Bayley finally manages it.
- Banks charges in and takes all three opponents out in quick succession, lands the knees to Charlotte’s midsection from the top rope and lands a two count. Nia attacks, gets chucked out the ring and is taken out with Bayley’s crossbody. With Sasha and Flair still legal, Charlotte goes for the Natural Selection, gets it countered into a Banks Statement and taps immediately.
Post-match, Charlotte is not happy at all. She shoves Emma and Jax but Nia isn’t having any of it. She hits back and lands a massive elbow on Charlotte, leaving her laying in the middle of the ring.
In the back, Kurt Angle meets Sami Zayn who says he wants to cultivate a good relationship with Kurt, similar to the one he had with Mick Foley, the previous Raw GM. Zayn advocates for staying on Raw in the Superstar Shake-up. Kurt is impressed and praises baby Sami for having all three I’s: intelligence, integrity and intensity. Jinder Mahal enters the scene, upset about his loss in the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royale. Sami and Jinder argue over who has more right to talk to the new General Manager, who isn’t having any of it. He informs the two that under his reign, people will settle problems in the ring. Jinder Mahal vs. Sami Zayn takes place later tonight and Brock Lesnar comments on his Universal Championship victory over Goldberg next, after the ads.
Cole informs us of WrestleMania 33’s record-setting attendance of 75,245 people.
Brock Lesnar and his advocate Paul Heyman make their entrance. Cole talks up the “intense 10 minutes” of action we saw last night in the Universal Title Match and I wonder if he is including Goldberg’s entrance in that timing. With permission from Brock, Heyman is going to share the bedtime story Lesnar tells his kids. One shrill superhero analogy later, Heyman has painted Goldberg as a naïve wannabe who makes a wrong turn into Suplex City and meets his demise at the hand of the beast incarnate, Brock Lesnar. Heyman tells us the “good news” that we won’t be seeing Goldberg around anymore and the crowd sincerely cheers for Brock for ridding us of Goldberg. Heyman tells us Brock is looking for a new challenger. He poses the possibility of Seth Rollins, Matt Hardy, Jeff Hardy or even both Hardys vs. Lesnar. Paul brings up Roman Reigns, assuring us that when the 2 in 22-2 go head to head, there can only be one. The crowd resists the idea of Brock vs. Roman with chants for Finn Balor. Paul Heyman says “If Roman is the Big Dog, Brock is animal cruelty” and I marvel at that line. Brock wants to give us all a killer moment and Heyman looks set to announce exactly what he means till he is interrupted by Braun Strowman. Neither Brock nor Heyman look happy.
Strowman posits that once he destroys Roman Reigns, he’ll have Brock’s attention the same way Brock has his. I think he’s going to ask him to prom? The most homoerotic stare-down in history takes place and Brock lays his title in the middle of the ring, taunting Strowman who retreats to “boring” chants. Same, Raw crowd. Same.
Charly Caruso interviews Y2J backstage and asks him about the tag match he’s to be in later tonight. Jericho plays to the crowd and gets back to his old face self, calling the crowd his friends in every language he can think of. Jericho tells us he plans to start his revenge tour against Kevin Owens tonight with the tip of KO’s finger. That’s gay. He runs through last night’s interrupted 3-count when Kevin Owens broke the count with a single finger on the rope. KEVIN OWEN’S FINGER MAKES THE LIST. Taking serious offence, KO and Samoa Joe ambush Jericho and lay him out through a table. A very timid referee arrives to break things up.
After the break, new GM Kurt Angle leaves the trainer’s room and Seth Rollins approaches. Telling Rollins that Jericho is in no condition to compete, he assures him that he will find him a tag partner tonight nonetheless.
MATCH: Enzo Amore & Big Cass vs. Sheamus & Cesaro – Raw Tag Team Titles No. #1 Contenders Match
- Cesaro starts off by doing his best to make Enzo look like a threat. Sheamus is in and Enzo retreats to tag in Cass. Cass shoulder tackles Sheamus, throws some elbows in the corner and gets himself thrown in the corner and hit with Sheamus spinning heel kick. Sheamus gets hit with a bodyslam and Enzo is tagged in to get launched into Sheamus by Cass. With both opponents on the outside, Cass throws Enzo onto them. Amore returns to the ring, dancing us into to the commercials.
- We’re back and Sheamus is doing a good job keeping Enzo from making the tag. He works seamlessly with Cesaro to deliver blows to Enzo until Cesaro is distracted outside with Cass. Sheamus drops Cass with a dropkick through the ropes and drops Enzo just as fast. Cesaro is tagged in and gets Enzo in the Cesaro Swing and Sharpshooter after Amore is unable to tag in the downed Cass. After a few moments of agony, Cass comes to the rescue, gets himself tagged in and splashes Cesaro. Sidewalk slam, empire elbow, big boot combo and a tag to Enzo. Sheamus takes Cass out of commission with a Brogue kick and launches Enzo from the top rope into Cesaro’s waiting fist. A European uppercut, that is. 1, 2, 3, Cesaro and Sheamus are the new no. #1 contenders for the Hardy Boyz Raw Tag Team Championships.
Michael Cole tells us that the media is speculating that last night’s match was The Undertaker’s last and nothing is clear. He thanks him nonetheless and sells the ostensibly open-ended close to ‘Mania last night.
MATCH: Jinder Mahal vs. Sami Zayn
Mahal takes Zayn out before the bell can ring. Sami hadn’t even removed his hat. The nerve of this guy.
- Mahal throws Zayn into the ring steps and then the ring. The bell rings and Mahal wastes no time taking the knees to Zayn’s face. Dropkick to the back and a 2 count. Sami holds out through a choke hold and a 2 count. Big high knee from Jinder but Sami fight back with an exploder and Helluva kick. That’s all it takes and Sami picks up the 3 count.
Cole touts the line-up for Raw Talk tonight which now also features Bayley and Goldberg as well as The Hardy Boyz.
MATCH: Kevin Owens & Samoa Joe vs. Seth Rollins & Finn Balor
As predicted, the returning Finn Balor is revealed as Seth’s new partner, replacing the injured Chris Jericho. I attempt to do his cool entrance pose with him but mate, I’m knackered.
- Bell rings with KO and Seth Rollins first. Cole makes a point of reminding us that it was Seth Rollins who injured Finn back at Summerslam last year.
- Rollins and Owens are equally matched, neither being able to get the advantage. Joe gets the tag in and takes control over Seth, laying in the blows. KO tag in and continues the assault with a corner ambush. Rollins counters against KO focusing on his right arm.
- Balor gets tagged in and looks like he hasn’t been gone a day. He lays in the kick on Owens and is ready to deliver the Coup de Grace till KO escapes the ring. Balor follows behind with a dropkick. Balor tags in Rollins to deliver a suicide dive to Owens then Owens and Joe at the same time. Favouring his injured knee, Rollins gives Owens the time he needs to tag in Joe who barrels into Seth in the corner. Big kick and a 2 count.
- Owens is in and not giving Seth a chance to get to his feet with a number of kicks and throwing all his weight onto Rollins with a senton. Cole, Saxton and Graves further sell us on the fact that Rollins and Balor may be tag partners but have to have more going on beneath the surface after Summerslam 2016.
- Joe is in, spinning toe hold and a focus on Seth’s knee. Balor is desperate to get the tag but Joe hold off Seth with a Kneecapper and a third senton. Joe locks in koji clutch but Rollins manages to land an enziguiri to buy time. Balor and Owens both get tagged in, with Finn showing no signs of ring rust.
- Balor delivers chop upon chop to KO and sets up the Coup De Grace only to have KO roll out the way. Owens lands a 2 count and looks to deliver the pop up powerbomb but nope, Balor gets his Coup De Grace at last for the 3 count and the win by pinning the reigning United States Champion.
We end the show with Seth and Finn celebrating. Seth raises Finn’s arm in perfect sync with his theme. The boys with the abs are victorious.
BONUS WWE NETWORK SEGMENT!
Goldberg is out, the most casual we’ve seen him yet. He walks through a gathered crowd backstage giving him a standing ovation. He informs the Amway Centre crowd that what’s about to take place isn’t part of the show. He talks about his trepidation on returning when WWE reached out in October. He yells at the crowd to listen since he’s speaking from the heart and doesn’t appreciate interruptions. Goldberg talks about doing it all for his family and not caring about the crowd reaction, good or bad. He singles out his son and tells him from the heart, that he is the reason he came back. Goldberg’s son sheds tears and I feel weird recapping this actually touching moment between father and son. He invites his son to the ring only for him to fall on his arse. “He can take a bump already! And that’s one more than I’ve taken my entire career till last night!”. Actually brilliant.
Goldberg continues, referencing “the debacle at WrestleMania 20”, the fact that this may be the last time we see him in a ring and finishes by ensuring us we have no idea who or what is next. Goldberg celebrates with his son who climbs on the second rope, dabbing to the crowd. That is quite the sentence.
Goldberg takes the mic one last time. “And one last thing. Never say never”.