HEYDORN’S WWE RAW REPORT 4/23: Alt Perspective coverage of Superstar Shakeup fallout, final build to the Greatest Royal Rumble, the return of Brock Lesnar, and more

BY ZACK HEYDORN, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR


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

HEYDORN’S WWE RAW REPORT
APRIL 23, 2018
ST. LOUIS, MO
AIRED LIVE ON USA NETWORK

Announcers: Michael Cole, Corey Graves, Booker T


CHECK OUT THE WADE KELLER PRO WRESTLING POST-SHOW DISCUSSING THIS EPISODE OF RAW:


[HOUR ONE]

-The show opened with a memorial graphic for Bruno Sammartino, the Raw superstars onstage in Bruno legend t-shirts, and the tolling of the ring bell ten times. After the bells, a long video tribute package aired for Sammartino.

Heydorn’s Analysis: A pretty classy tribute for one of WWE’s best. The package didn’t delve ultra deep into Bruno’s contributions, but showcased him as the true legend he was. 

-Out of the video package, Brock Lesnar’s music and the WWE Universal Champion hit the ring with Paul Heyman alongside him. Cole sold Lesnar’s battle with Roman Reigns at WrestleMania before officially welcoming the audience to the program. As the show went to commercial break, Corey Graves noted that “Roman Reigns can’t be far behind.” (c)

-After the commercial, Paul Heyman introduced himself in typical fashion as Brock Lesnar laughed as the crowd booed. When the intro was done, Heyman said that the audience must think that he’s out there to gloat. He then proceeded to to do just that and gloat about Lesnar’s long list of accomplishments in the WWE. Heyman said he didn’t offer predictions but that he deliver’s spoilers. Heyman then said that Brock Lesnar does not gloat, Brock Lesnar conquers. Heyman said that HE gloats and sold the hard way elbows that Lesnar delivered to Reigns at WrestleMania.

Heydorn’s Analysis: Surprised they added focus to the brutal elbows that busted Reigns open at WrestleMania due to just how brutal and colorful it got. They could figure that it happened and they may as well use it to their advantage. Bringing it up today plants a seed in heads that it was all planned and orchestrated from the beginning though.

As the crowd cheered a bit about the elbows, Heyman said that Brock Lesnar doesn’t dwell on the past, but looks forward to the future, the Greatest Royal Rumble event in particular. Heyman said that Lesnar so badly wants to fight in a cage that he will travel around the world to do so with Roman Reigns. During this, the camera caught a group of fans chanting Roman’s name.

Heydorn’s Analysis: Hmm, that just looked fishy to me. I don’t want to be a conspiracy theorist and claim “plants,” but Roman Reigns just doesn’t get those types of chants or cheers. Plus, the camera cut to them as soon as they started chanting. I’m not saying, but I am saying …

Heyman said Lesnar earned his new contract at WrestleMania and that the odds would be massively against Roman Reigns inside a cage. To finish, Heyman ran down Reigns and said he would return to the United States a shell of a WWE superstar. This prompted Reigns’s music to hit. Reigns took a long and slow walk to the ring as the audience had their typical 50/50 reaction at best. In the ring, Reigns stared Lesnar down and said that he didn’t know how he would get back from Saudi Arabia, but he knew for sure he would be coming back with the championship. He then said to “believe that” as Cole told the audience how gutsy it was for Reigns to confront Lesnar.

Heydorn’s Analysis: A so-so promo from a Heyman grade level, but obviously infinitely better than most promos we’ll see on tonight’s show. He sold Lesnar’s dominance well, but was all over the place when trying to connect Lesnar’s UFC aspirations to the cage, to his contract, and then back to Roman Reigns. On the Reigns side, outside of the random chanting guys he got a relatively positive and loud response that WWE certainly has to be happy with. Being short and sweet on the microphone worked well for him tonight too as the crowd didn’t see him long enough to fully turn against him. Reigns still looked a bit flat and uninterested, but overall tonight was a protected success for him. 

-When the segment ended, Elias was shown walking backstage ahead of his upcoming match against Bobby Roode. (c)

-Out of the commercial, Elias was in the ring and was instantly interuppted by Bobby Roode’s glorious entrance.

(1) BOBBY ROODE vs. ELIAS

The match began with Elias gaining momentum of the gate, but that was quickly squashed by Roode who systematically worked Elias’s body parts to get him down to the mat. Elias tried a handful of ways to get the upperhand back, but a stiff right hand did the trick. Again, his momentum was short-lived as Roode clotheslined him out of the ring as the show cut to another break. (c)

Heydorn’s Analysis: Roode isn’t doing anything for me as a babyface. He’s bland as bland can be. The crowd reacts because of the “glorious” pose and gimmick so he’s ripe for something deeper too. The audience wants to fully connect, they just need a little more and frankly so does he. 

Back in the ring, Elias had Roode pinned in the corner, but then received a series of chops to the chest before he got whipped into the ropes. Elias was able to counter and eventually sent Roode shoulder first into the steel ring post. After, Elias wore down Roode with a shoulder submission hold as a picture in picture commercial aired for the Greatest Royal Rumble event. From there, Elias and Roode exchanged shots in the middle of the ring before Elias dragged Roode to the outside and slammed his face on the apron before kneeing him in the face. Elias covered, but only received a two count. Out of the pin attempt, Elias locked in a deep chin lock and taunted Roode as the crowd clapped to cheer Roode on. Roode heard the claps and almost escaped, but was brought back down to the mat with Elias’s chin lock. Finally, Roode dropped Elias with a back body drop to escape the hold and create separation. Again, they exchanged strikes in the ring before Rood took over with a swinging neck breaker. From there, Rood went to the top rope and connected with a clothesline. Roode then signaled for the Glorious DDT and went for it, but Elias countered. Instead, Roode rolled Elias up for a pin, but just got a two count. After, Roode connected with a top rope neck breaker that sent Elias to the outside of the ring. Roode followed to throw Elias back into the ring, but as he did Elias hung up on the top rope. From there, Elias pinned Roode by grabbing the tights for the 1,2,3 victory.

WINNER: Elias via pinfall

Heydorn’s Analysis: Not a bad match at all. Straightforward, not fancy, but entertaining. Roode losing takes some wind out of his sails, but hey, he didn’t have much anyway right? On the flip wide, Elias got a nice victory and did so as a heel. 

-A backstage promo aired from Matt Hardy in which he said he and Bray Wyatt would win the the tag titles at the Greatest Royal Rumble event. Hardy then shared the screen with Wyatt who said that in the darkness there can be no light. He said together him and Hardy would cast a shadow over all living things. The two then laughed and said run before the show went to commercial. (c)

-After the commercial, The Ascension was in the ring as Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt’s music hit. Both got a nice reaction as Cole and the commentary team broke down what happened to Bray Wyatt.

Heydorn’s Analysis: WWE can do better with Hardy and Wyatt’s entrance music. It’s literally their two songs spliced between each other. It sounds small time and minor league to me.

(2) THE ASCENSION vs. MATT HARDY & BRAY WYATT

Wyatt and Hardy controlled the early part of the match and exchanged tags often between each other. Eventually, Hardy was pushed into the Ascension’s corner and there, the momentum shifted. Hardy took some double team moves which yielded pin attempts, but each time Hardy kicked out at two. The audience was firmly behind Hardy as he worked to make the tag to Wyatt. When he finally did, Wyatt hit the ring with a good amount of fire and lit both Ascension members up with flying cross bodies and clotheslines. Hardy quickly tagged in and hit a side effect. From there, Hardy attempted a pin, but it was broken up by Konnor. Wyatt answered with Sister Abigail which sent Konnor out of the ring and then Hardy connected with a Twist Of Fate for the 1,2,3 victory. (c)

WINNER: Hardy and Wyatt via pinfall

Heydorn’s Analysis: Essentially as squash match, but a well-timed one. Hardy and Wyatt need to look strong ahead of their tag title match and they did here. I like what these two are doing and the audience reacted positively to them. That said, WWE needs to be careful on how the commentary team discusses them. Graves and Cole seemed a little overbearing when talking about some of Hardy’s verbiage and almost made the gimmick uncool. They need to walk it back a little bit and just let the crowd experience this entire world themselves because its almost impossible to dictate properly. The reaction will come. 

[HOUR TWO]

-Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens hit the ring for the first ever Sami and Kevin Show. The duo walked out to Zayn’s entrance music.

Heydorn’s Analysis: Zayn’s music? Interesting. Usually they walk out to the music of Kevin Owens as he is regularly presented as the bigger star. Nothing to read into on a big level yet, but something be mindful of.

In the ring, Zayn and Owens sat down at a desk and welcomed everyone to their show. They called their show the hottest new interview show in WWE and that they would do the show whenever they felt like it. They said that they would try to fill the talk show void that The Miz left behind when he went to SmackDown Live. From there, Owens and Zayn said they would prove how great they are when they win the Greatest Royal Rumble event.

Heydorn’s Analysis: The Greatest Royal Rumble needs stakes. It always needed them, but it especially needs them if wrestlers are going to make a big deal out of winning it. Right now, a win does as much as a house show win. Stakes will make this match much more exciting come Friday afternoon.

Owens and Zayn then sang Kurt Angle’s “you suck” entrance music in a disrespectful way and then welcomed him to their show. Angle got a nice response from the audience and walked to the ring as Cole sold how great of a job he did during the Superstar Shakeup. With Angle standing in the ring, Owens gave him a lawn chair and told them that he didn’t really like their version of his song. Owens said they got off on the wrong foot with Kurt and said that its normal for people to have disagreements with their boss. They then ran down their outs with Shane McMahon and said they were victims of a conspiracy against them. Zayn and Owens said that Stephanie McMahon must hate Angle and Angle responded by saying that he wouldn’t blame her because of how he got Ronda Rousey to turn against her. Owens and Zayn then ripped on Angle, his family, and Jason Jordan before asking what Angle was going to do to maximize their presence on the show. To answer, Angle said that he would take care of business with them on Friday in the Greatest Royal Rumble. For tonight, he announced Bobby Lashley and Braun Strowman vs. Owens and Zayn.

Heydorn’s Analysis: I like Owens and Zayn, but they were annoying within this segment and not in a good way. They seemed whiny and not threatening. They need to be more than just disgruntled employees. 

-Backstage, Seth Rollins was shown looking at his phone. Axel and Bo Dallas interuppted him and said that they redesigned and rebuilt themselves when they left The Miz. They then said they could be the new Shield and attempted the Shield fist bump. Rollins shrugged it off and walked off camera. (c)

Heydorn’s Analysis: Ok, we all can agree right? Keep Axel and Dallas as far away as possible from Seth Rollins? Ok good.

-After the commercial break, Titus Worldwide was in the ring ahead of their match as Drew McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler made their entrances. Cole said that Ziggler and McIntyre turned WWE on its side by teaming together.

(3) DREW MCINTYRE & DOLPH ZIGGLER vs. TITUS O’NEIL & APOLLO CREWS

O’Neil and Ziggler started the match with Titus demolishing Ziggler in the corner before tagging in Apollo. Crews kept the momentum with a standing moonsault, but lost it instantly when McIntyre it the ring. Drew tossed Apollo around like a rag doll as Cole put over McIntyre’s strength. From there, Ziggler and McIntyre double teamed Crews, hit their combination finisher and got the 1,2,3 win.

WINNER: McIntyre and Ziggler via pinfall

Heydorn’s Analysis: Solid squash match that showcased McIntyre really well. 

-After the match, Ziggler and McIntyre were interviewed in the ring. Ziggler said that Drew has his back and said that McIntyre was dangerous. McIntyre then said he was especially dangerous to a locker room that went soft. He said he saw a group of guys just collecting checks and that times are changing. He called himself the wake up call and reality check that the WWE needs. Ziggler then called themselves the show before the pair left the ring.

Heydorn’s Analysis: Really great promo from Drew McIntyre. He spoke well, acted really well, and made some great points that felt real. If he continues to talk like that, he is going to be a prominent fixture on the show. Ziggler was better here too, but the star was clearly Drew. He may outgrow Ziggler quicker than the WWE wants. 

-Backstage, Chad Gable walked into Kurt Angle’s office and thanked him for bringing him to the show. Gable then asked how Jason Jordan was. Angle said Jordan was good, but that he didn’t bring Gable to Raw for him to tag with Gable. The two were then interuppted by Jinder Mahal. Mahal told Angle that he would win his US Championship back at the Greatest Royal Rumble event at that he then wanted to be sent back to SmackDown Live. Angle said no and Gable told Mahal to show some respect. From there, Mahal ridiculed Gable’s size which led to Angle making a match between the two. (c)

(4) JINDER MAHAL vs. CHAD GABLE

Mahal hit the ring first to some nice heat and Gable out second to a very small babyface reaction. Before Gable was able to enter the ring, he was distracted and crushed from behind by Mahal. After tossing Gable into ring barrier, Mahal then threw Gable into the ring so the ref could check on him. Gable gave the ref the “ok” and the match started. Out of the gate, Mahal dominated Gable and continued his beat down with strikes and kick to Gable’s face. Gable worked and got some shots in here and there, but Mahal consistently stayed on the offensive. Eventually, Mahal tossed Gable to the outside and followed through the ropes before the show went to a commercial. (c)

Heydorn’s Analysis: Mahal looked like a monster to start this match. Gable sold perfectly for him and instantly drummed up sympathy for himself in the process. 

Out of the commercial break, Mahal was still dominating Chad Gable. He had a rear choke locked in and made it virtually impossible for Gable to escape it. Finally, Gable was able to create some headway, but Mahal kept him down with a vertical suplex. After, Mahal went for the pin, but Gable kicked out at two. Out of the pin, Mahal stomped Gable and then whipped him chest first into the corner. From there, Mahal relentlessly kept up his attack with forearm strikes to Gable’s face. Finally, Gable fired up and connected with a rolling kick to the head before working over Mahal’s legs. The momentum didn’t last long as Mahal connected with a stiff knee to the face. After, Mahal looked to hit the Khallas, but Gable countered. From there, Gable countered with a roll-up pin attempt for the 1,2,3 win.

WINNER: Gable via pinfall

Heydorn’s Analysis: That was a surprising ending. The match built Mahal up perfectly ahead of his title match on Friday and Gable seemed to be fodder for that build. Mahal losing sends some mixed signals now. This either brings Gable up to Mahal’s level or brings Mahal down to Gable’s. Time will tell. 

-Backstage, Renee Young interviewed the Riott Squad. Riott said that last week their attack was meant to sent a message to the Raw locker room. She said they were equal opportunity agitators and that they were like tear gas. (c)

-A selfie promo aired from Samoa Joe. Joe said that he is worried that he may not have an opponent for Backlash and that if history is an indicator, Lesnar will conquer Roman Reigns and leave him buried in the desert.

Heydorn’s Analysis: This was the first selfie promo ever that I was truly excited for and it also was the shortest one. Just my luck. I wanted to hear more from Joe here. I know he is now on a different brand than Reigns, but he needs to say what he is going to do to Reigns at Backlash and not just lean on Lesnar’s dominance. 

-Backstage, Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel were shown talking to Finn Balor. They tried to convince Balor to let them join him and said it would be too sweet. Balor said no thanks and walked off screen. From there, Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens were shown walking toward the ring ahead of their tag team match against Braun Strowman and Bobby Lashley. (c)

Heydorn’s Analysis: Again, like Seth Rollins, keep Axel and Dallas away from Finn Balor please. Thanks. 

(5) BRAUN STROWMAN & BOBBY LASHLEY vs. KEVIN OWENS & SAMI ZAYN

Owens and Zayn hit the ring to a good reaction (and the Owens entrance music).

[HOUR THREE]

Lashley hit the ring next and was followed by Strowman would got a monster pop from the St. Louis crowd. The match started with Zayn and Owens both rolling out of the ring after the bell rang. They continued to play cat and mouse with their opponents as the crowd chanted “get these hands.” Eventually, Strowman became wise to their ways and crushed them with a clothesline on the outside of the ring. From there, the match officially got underway with Lashley stealing the momentum over Kevin Owens. As he beat down Owens, Cole and the announce team sold Lashley’s accomplishments as an athlete and performer.

Heydorn’s Analysis: Braun Strowman is just hugely over. Plain and simple. In addition, Cole did a nice job on commentary to frame Lashley as a very credible contender on Raw and a huge signing for the brand. To this point, Lashley hasn’t spoken or given any time to tell the world who he was. Its still imperative that he does that, but Cole set the table nicely for him. Clearly he is over with the fans too as they chanted his name in the early part of the match.

Owens was able to tag Sami Zayn into the match, but his entrance didn’t change their fortunes much. Finally, Zayn hit a big boot on Lashley to counter a move which allowed them to gain some momentum. It didn’t last long as Lashley connected with a cross body splash on Zayn. Lashley then went to hit the ropes, but Owens pulled them down which caused Lashley to crash to the outside of the ring. (c)

Out of the commercial break, Owens and Zayn still had the momentum on Lashley. Zayn attempted a Helluva Kick, but Lashley countered with a nice suplex. Lashley crawled to make the hot tag to Strowman, but Owens interuppted to stop it.

Heydorn’s Analysis: The build to Strowman’s hot tag has been perfect. Lashley is showing agony and Zayn/Owens are selling the notion that they don’t want to face Strowman. Really well done on all accounts. 

From there, Lashley continued to try and tag Strowman into the match, but Owens and Zayn never allowed it to happen. Finally, the tag was made and the audience went ballistic. Strowman hit shoulder tackles, clotheslines, and a slew of other power moves that popped the audience. Zayn then attempted to run away, but Lashley ran him down and tossed him back to Strowman. Strowman then connected with a vicious punch as the crowd chanted “get these hands.” Strowman then tagged Lashley into the match and he promptly hit Zayn with his delayed vertical suplex. After that, Strowman tagged in and connected with a running power slam for the 1,2,3 win.

WINNER: Lashley and Strowman via pinfall

Heydorn’s Analysis: This was a really good match. Not because of anything spectacular from and in-ring perspective, but because of how over Braun Strowman is. People wanted to see his destruction, badly. When it came time for Strowman to deliver that, he did so in epic fashion. He was crisp, his timing was great, and his role in the match lived up to the audience’s expectations. Zayn and Owens sold everything like professionals and really made the babyfaces look good. The WWE has something with Strowman. He is connecting with the crowd in every way the WWE wants Reigns to. 

-After the match, a mini promo aired for Baron Corbin who Cole said would be competing next. (c)

(6) NO WAY JOSE vs. BARON CORBIN

No Way Jose hit the ring first with his conga line behind him. The crowd reacted a little, but nothing of significance. Corbin was out next, but stopped at the top of the ramp to talk. Corbin said that he sees through Jose’s conga line advantage. He said that he understands Jose is there to have fun, but to him, having fun is ruining other people’s fun. He told Jose that he wasn’t on his level and that as long as he was going to run around with his “freaks” he says no way to their match. Jose then got on the mic and said the party doesn’t have to stop because Corbin says so. He then called for his music and danced with his conga line again.

WINNER: N/A as the match never took place.

-The conga line danced around the ring and up the ramp and then Jose was decimated by Baron Corbin. Corbin hit a chokeslam back breaker on the ramp and then posed to the crowd as they booed.

Heydorn’s Analysis: The goal here was to get heat on Corbin and they got the heat they were looking for. That said, I hated Booker T’s commentary during the beat down. He essentially put Corbin over as a good guy and sung his praises on the determination and drive Corbin has. If you’re confused, you should be. This ran counterproductive to the goal of getting heat. WWE can’t talk about Corbin in a positive light as he dismantles a helpless opponent. It hinders his character and the story being told between him and No Way Jose. They got the heat tonight, but eventually, this inconsistency will come back to haunt them. 

-After, A Moment Of Bliss aired in which Alexa Bliss detailed a story about Nia Jax being a bully to an old woman. Bliss said she did nothing to help the old woman and that she would need to live with that for the rest of her life. She then said she would have to beat Nia at Backlash to prove that bullies never win.

Heydorn’s Analysis: This was hilarious. Bliss played it well and it worked within the framework of her story with Jax. 

-Finn Balor’s entrance music hit and the crowd went nuts ahead of his tag team match with Seth Rollins as his partner. (c)

(7) FINN BALOR & SETH ROLLINS vs. CURTIS AXEL & BO DALLAS

After the break, Seth Rollins hit the ring to the second biggest pop of the night outside of Braun Strowman. After, Dallas and Axel came out to a nothing response. Graves did comment on how Axel and Dallas were “men without a country” now that Miz moved to SmackDown Live.

The match began with Dallas and Balor. Dallas connected with a shoulder tackle and then taunted Rollins by doing the Shield fist bump with Axel. Dallas then tagged Axel into the match who also hit a shoulder tackle on Balor. Axel and Dallas then mocked Balor with the too sweet hand gesture. Balor fought to gain momentum with a few strikes, but never was able to get anything materialized. Dallas grounded Balor with a sleeper hold as Rollins cheered his partner on and worked to get the audience into the match. Finally, Balor connected with an overhead kick on Dallas and made the tag to Rollins. Rollins entered the match with a spring board clothesline which he followed up with a sling blade. From there, he connected with a suicide dive on Axel which he followed up with a Blockbuster. Rollins then called for the stomp as the crowd chanted “burn it down.” He connected with it and then tagged in Finn Balor who connected with his Coup De Gras. Balor then covered for the victory.

WINNER: Balor and Rollins via pinfall

Heydorn’s Analysis: A to B match. Rollins and Balor shined well ahead of Friday and that was the mission. 

-After the match, Natalya was shown giving her team a pep talk ahead of their main event match. After, Sasha Banks and Bayley had a mini stare down in which Bayley was extremely dismissive of Banks. (c)

(8) ALEXA BLISS, MICKIE JAMES, & THE RIOTT SQUAD vs. NIA JAX, SASHA BANKS, BAYLEY, EMBER MOON, & NATALYA

Bliss and James walked to the ring first and were followed by The Riott Squad. From there, Bayley hit the ring and was followed by Moon, Natalya, Banks, and Nia Jax. Banks and Bayley conveyed some tension as they stood next to each other at ringside and Bliss reacted dismissively and scared of Jax as she climbed into the ring.

Banks and Morgan started the match, but it devolved into a two on one beat down instantly as Morgan made a quick tag to Sarah Logan. Logan took over on Banks, but Banks was able to gain control by slamming Logan into the turnbuckle. From there, Banks locked in a choke hold, but it was countered by Logan. After the counter, Logan was able to tag in Morgan again, but Banks was ready with a slap to her face. From there, Banks tagged in Ember Moon.

Heydorn’s Analysis: Moon continues to look great. The big stage can be overwhelming for some, but Moon’s prescense and gimmick have transitioned well to it. The bigger stage amplifies her strengths. 

Moon worked on Morgan and connected with a flipping splash into the corner which she followed up with a springboard cross body. This sent Morgan to the outside of the ring and Moon then hit a massive suicide dive to a nice pop from the audience. (c)

Out of the commercial break, the control was back in the hands of the heel team. Logan had a chin lock on Banks and as Sasha attempted to break free, she took her down to the mat and then tagged in Mickie James who kept Banks strategically near her corner. Like Logan, James locked in a chin lock and taunted Banks and her team as she wrenched it in. Eventually, Banks clocked James in the face with forearm smash and tagged in Natalya. Nattie took over the match after the tag and hit James with a neck breaker before locking in her sharpshooter. Right before James could tap, Sarah Logan broke the hold with a chop block.

Heydorn’s Analysis: Great sell job from Natalya on the chop block. The match was lumbering on to this point, but Natalya’s selling and facial expressions gave it some much needed life. 

[OVERRUN]

After the questionable move, the referee checked on Natalya who tagged Bayley into the match. Outside of the ring, doctors tended to Nattie, but inside, Bayley worked to continue the momentum for her team. When Ruby Riott tagged into the match, Bayley’s momentum was gone as Riott locked in a sleeper hold of her own. The announce team really sold Nattie’s injury hard.

Back in the ring, Bayley made the tag to Nia Jax who cleaned house with a massive leg drop on Riott after connecting with a powerslam. After, both teams brawled with each other and the brawl spilled to the outside. From there, Jax hit a high risk move that sent everyone crashing down to the outside mat. Micke James was the first woman up and proceeded to beat down and already injured Natalya. This prompted Ronda Rousey to hit the ring to make the save.

Heydorn’s Analysis: Huge pop for Rousey and she ditched the smile as she made the save. I’m not sure Rousey could have done that four weeks ago, especially given the reaction she received. She’s learning. Losing the smile in this particular moment helped to convey the seriousness of the situation and sold her as a dangerous person to cross. Side note – Nattie’s selling really helped lay the foundation for Ronda’s save and pop. Props to her. 

From there, Rousey checked on Nattie and then was kicked in the back by James. Ronda then entered the ring and dismantled James with her armbar to which James tapped out to right away.

WINNER: No contest

Heydorn’s Analysis: Overall, this match was very slowly paced. Each woman had a little time to shine, but outside of a couple big spots for Jax and Moon it was pretty forgettable. The memorable part coincided with Ronda Rousey’s involvement. Ronda appeared confident, in the moment, and was not overwhelmed by her massive reaction. Clearly she’s growing as a performer. WWE was smart to feature her with physicality as she is infinitely more comfortable in that role. She looked like a major star tonight and put some ground work down for a presumable tag team match down the road with Nattie as her partner. 

-After the match, Ronda Rousey helped an injured Natalya to the back as Michael Cole and the announce team sold the Greatest Royal Rumble event on Friday afternoon. From there, the show faded to black.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Tonight’s Raw had a strange vibe to it and The Greatest Royal Rumble event is to blame. WWE and Michael Cole positioned this show as a major event, but with so much confusion on the show due to the roster shakeup its hard to truly view it as one. That confusion is also causing some difficulty in building up feuds for Backlash which is just a couple weeks away. Reigns and Joe can’t fully get anywhere until the Lesnar match is taken care of on Friday. The same holds true with guys like Finn Balor, Seth Rollins, Hardy & Wyatt, and Jinder Mahal. All are tied up and stuck in the mud until the Saudi Arabia show is in the books. With half the roster in a holding pattern, the show naturally mirrored that feel.


NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S REPORT: HEYDORN’S WWE RAW REPORT 4/16: Alt Perspective coverage of Monday Night Raw featuring part one of the Superstar Shakeup, Sasha Banks vs. Bayley, and more

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