TOP 3 DEVELOPMENTS – RAW 4/9: Post-WrestleMania, Roman Exposes the Business, Stephanie-Ronda, Reactions for Nia, Alexa, and Ember, with Random Thoughts

By Jeff Vandrew Jr., PWTorch Specialist

Roman Reigns (artist Joel Tesch © PWTorch)

SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...

ROMAN EXPOSES THE BUSINESS…

Recap: At the top of the third hour, Roman Reigns came down to the ring to boos. He had a massive lump on his forehead and walked very gingerly. The crowd cheered when he mentioned that he got his ass kicked the night before.

Roman stated that no one could look him in the eye backstage before the match last night, and blamed Vince McMahon for not “smartening him up” about the match ahead of time. He stated that he was unaware of Brock re-signing and their match in Saudi Arabia until he read about it on the internet, and swore to beat Brock.

Roman was then interrupted by Samoa Joe, who accused him of being a conspiracy theorist and failure. He also called him a liar for claiming he could beat Lesnar. He recapped Lesnar’s domination of Roman. He then challenged Reigns to a match at Backlash after Reigns’ return from Saudi Arabia. Joe was cheered by the crowd.

Evaluation: I thought that Reigns’ comments, specifically his criticism of Vince’s failure to “smarten him up” before the WrestleMania match, clearly were meant to imply that people backstage knew the outcome beforehand, exposing the worked nature of WWE matches. For that reason, I really didn’t like this segment. To me, the illusion of real competition during the broadcast is key to the whole show. WWE has done “worked shoot” angles before, but previously they had avoided implying the match results were fixed. This was something I would’ve expected to see on Nitro.

More than anything, I’m starting to feel sorry for Roman (the person, not the character), as he was embarrassed in front of a huge crowd last night and is being booked into an unworkable corner.

Forecast: There seems to be broad agreement among prognosticators that Brock was re-signed short term to allow Reigns to take the title from him in front of a more friendly crowd in Saudi Arabia. That seems very likely, as it would be odd to move on from Reigns after continuing to feature him and portray him sympathetically tonight. That would mean that Reigns’ first title defense will be Samoa Joe. All of that said, 24 hours ago Reigns taking the title at WrestleMania was a foregone conclusion, so WWE may be more committed to fooling us than any one outcome.

THE STEPHANIE-RONDA PROGRAM CONTINUES…

Recap: The show opened with Stephanie McMahon coming down the ramp to boos. She chastised the crowd for having no sympathy for her. She also blamed the negative reaction on the “international flavor” of a post-WrestleMania crowd, which she said she could “smell”.

She indicated that there was a lot of speculation about whether a certain woman could make a transition at WrestleMania, and, implying that she was that woman, stated that she was successful and deserves accolades for it. She claimed to have brought out the best in Ronda Rousey, and that she couldn’t be more proud of Ronda.

Ronda then entered to cheers. Stephanie said that the better woman won, and that with Ronda’s talent and Stephanie’s spotlight they could blaze new trails. Stephanie emphasized the advantages of having the entire WWE machine behind Ronda. She closed by asking the crowd to give it up for her friend Ronda Rousey.

The two then embraced, all smiles. Ronda’s countenance quickly changed however, as she took down Stephanie, ripped off her brace, and applied an armbar. Stephanie screamed in pain. Ronda released the hold and left Stephanie in the ring. The crowd chanted “you deserve it” as Stephanie limped off with medical attention.

Evaluation: This was another promo where Stephanie takes all of her qualities that are criticized on the internet and turns them up to 11 for heel heat. It works, so there is no need to go away from it. Narcissism and disingenuousness are classic heel traits.

Ronda again looked good. Although she didn’t speak, she looked very comfortable and her facial expressions were great.

Forecast: Because a large driver of this angle is publicity for Stephanie McMahon, I do not expect that WrestleMania ended the feud. I presume that we’ll be informed next week as to the extent of Stephanie’s injuries, which will determine whether the feud continues in Saudi Arabia, at Backlash, or at some event further into the future.

STRONG REACTIONS FOR NIA, ALEXA, AND EMBER…

Recap: Nia Jax entered with the title to “you deserve it” chants, followed by Mickie and Alexa. Alexa referred to Nia as the only bully bigger than Ronda Rousey. She said that Nia likes to “throw her weight around, which is clearly a lot of weight.” The crowd responded with a-hole chants to Alexa.

Alexa blamed her WrestleMania loss on being distraught due to Nia’s beating on Mickie before the match. She claimed to be competing under emotional distress due to her compassion. Alexa then accused Nia of being cold as ice.

Nia told Alexa to shut up, to a big crowd pop. Nia then revealed her tag partner for the following match as Ember Moon.

Nia dominated the match early, stopping Mickie and Alexa dead with chokes. She then tagged in Ember to a huge pop. Ember hit a series showcasing her move set, finishing the match with an Eclipse to Alexa.

Evaluation: The bullying angle clearly worked, as the crowd loved Nia. Even more telling was that they hated Alexa, which has not always been the case. Due to Alexa’s look and friendly disposition on social media, the inclination for many crowds had been to be hesitant to jeer her.

Ember Moon was given a very strong debut, not only spending more time in the ring than Nia but also pinning former champion Alexa Bliss with her finisher.

Corey Graves’s dubbing of Ember as the “War Goddess” is far better than Mauro’s preferred “Shenom” nickname.

Forecast: It was great to see Ember booked so strongly in her debut, as she had been booked fairly weakly as NXT Champion. She was unable to ever defeat Asuka, only taking the title after Asuka left. Then, in her first match against Shayna Baszler she was dominated despite taking advantage of a mistake by Shayna to retain. Ember looked stronger in her rematch with Shayna, but still lost. With a statement victory over a champion like Alexa I’d expect her to be a real threat on Raw.

If tonight’s crowd is indicative, Nia is way over and Alexa has legitimate heel heat. In 2018, a clear distinction like that doesn’t always come along, so WWE deserves booking credit. If Nia can keep this reaction, she can have a good run as a face champion.

RANDOM THOUGHTS…

-All of tonight’s analysis could change radically with the Superstar Shakeup next week….

-I was surprised to see No Way Jose booked in a squash match against local enhancement talent. In NXT, he himself was generally enhancement talent for main eventers, so even a role as a comedy midcarder on the main roster would be a huge step up for him….

-The Miz was back into full heel mode tonight, whining about being more deserving of the title than Seth Rollins. Sending the Miztourage away last night was a tease. He successfully transitioned the fatherhood gimmick from being endearing to being annoying….

-Jeff Hardy’s appearance tonight is puzzling on two levels. First, I would have expected a longer rehab stint considering his recent relapse into a DUI. Second, he appeared as Jeff Hardy, not Brother Nero….

-It was nice to see that Paige had a hot crowd to pop for her final moments in the ring tonight….

-Lashley’s return with a one-arm stalling suplex to Elias got a great reaction….

-Kurt Angle’s dig at TNA while Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens asked for jobs was the first time I think I’d ever heard TNA mentioned on WWE TV….

Hopefully Authors of Pain can restore some legitimacy to the tag division after it was totally buried by Braun and Nicholas last night….

The double count out in the Owens-Zayn match may foretell at least a temporary return for the two in masks….


NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S COLUMN: TOP 3 DEVELOPMENTS – RAW 4/2: The Authority goes face-to-face with Rousey & Angle, Cena gets no answer yet again, mixed reaction for Lesnar and Reigns

1 Comment on TOP 3 DEVELOPMENTS – RAW 4/9: Post-WrestleMania, Roman Exposes the Business, Stephanie-Ronda, Reactions for Nia, Alexa, and Ember, with Random Thoughts

  1. I’m not quite sure how that crowd figured Nia deserved it? Because she’s related to the Rock? She is where she is because she threatened to walk out. Nia Jax isn’t bad at what she does, but I’m not buying into this babyface run of her’s either. I also feel like Alexa having to take the loss tonight to Ember Moon, after just dropping the title last night, is garbage. I’m not all that into what they’re doing with the women’s division here.

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