The Post ‘Mania Raw is always an interesting one. As it shares a crowd with Wrestlemania, there’s always a great sense of continuity from the night before and the audience energy is palpable.
We started incredibly strongly with the title-stripped beast Brock Lesnar coming out with Paul Heyman, demanding a rematch. Heyman did what he does best and talked, Brock standing by, battle scars visible for all to see. Stephanie comes out and promises that new champ Seth Rollins was still travelling and will be along later.
Next was a rematch for the Intercontinental belt between Daniel Bryan and Dolph Ziggler. It’s always a joy to watch these two wrestle. They’re both very technically sound wrestlers and are always innovative and exciting. Things were so entertaining, the match got a standing ovation mid-way through. I’m glad the Intercontinental title has had a fire lit under it. Bryan retained, but the battle for the title is far from done as not only are there all the people from ‘Mania’s ladder match gunning for it, but nobody’s favourite wrestler Sheamus came back and put himself in the picture by beating down both combatants. It’s clear Sheamus has gone heel, which is fine by me. The guy works better as a thug than a babyface. I’m in the minority, but I liked his new mohawk and beard thing he had going on. He looks like a proper Celtic warrior.
Tag action next with The Ascension, Tyson Kidd and Cesaro taking on New Day and new NXT graduates The Lucha Dragons making their WWE debut. It was clearly meant to be a showcase for what the Dragons can do and boy, did they deliver. We’ve seen Sin Cara in action before, but tag partner Kalisto was incredible. I will always cheer acrobatic Lucha style wrestlers and Kalisto performed some nigh-on impossible moves. It was such a fun match and I hope to see a lot more of The Lucha Dragons.
Lesnar came out again to face Rollins. When Rollins finally did come out, he wussed out of a rematch and escaped the arena, leaving Brock furious and sending him into a rampage where he took out J&J Security, flipped the commentary table and F5d Michael Cole, before picking up an innocent cameraman. Steph came out to put a stop to it, but Brock was too far gone. He powered the cameraman into the mat and Steph suspended him indefinitely. WWE achieved some great things with this segment. One, they got around the problem of Lesnar’s special appearance contract, meaning he only works part time. Two, they solidified him as a face. From now on, it looks like it’s Brock vs. The Authority and I’m down with that. Three, he took out the entire commentary team, meaning we didn’t have to listen to their drivel for the rest of the night. The guy’s my hero.
We then had singles action between Damien Mizdow and Stardust. The match was fine enough, but it was an excuse to cement the Miz/Mizdow split that occurred during the Andre the Giant Battle Royal. Miz came out and did his finisher on the victorious Mizdow and then yelled at the crowd. He’s such a great heel and as such fully earned the subsequent “asshole!” chant.
#Axelmania ran wild again as Curtis Axel addressed the crowd, telling them that the road to “Axtreme” Rules begins now. He’s interrupted by NXT’s Adrian Neville (simply billed as “Neville”) also making his first proper WWE debut. If you didn’t know, Neville is the absolute bomb in the ring. He’s also from Newcastle, so he’s another Brit to cheer for. The match was fast, furious and was a brilliant spotlight for what Neville can do. When they say that he’s the man that “gravity forgot”, they aren’t kidding.
Fresh from winning the US title, John Cena issued an open challenge to anyone who wanted to step up. Instead of the expected Rusev, Dean Ambrose made his way to the ring. I love how dynamic they’re making these secondary titles feel. It was an alright match, but I get the feeling it was more to prove that Ambrose as a guy can swing it with the big boys. There was a nice moment where Ambrose had Cena in Cena’s own submission though. Whilst Cena predictably retained, Ambrose definitely made himself known and left an impact.
Things started to wind down with more tag action in the form of a 6 Diva Tag match. This is the point in the night where the energetic crowd turned heel. The match wasn’t anything groundbreaking, but it was solid. The crowd decided to jeer at the Divas with chants like “You suck Cena” to Cena’s girlfriend Nikki Bella. Nearly all of the Divas got their own personal derogatory chant and it was shitty behaviour.
The rather random match of Rusev and Goldust was next, with Rusev easily dispatching the veteran. The point of this appears to be creating a mystery as to why Rusev didn’t immediately challenge Cena and chose to fight Goldie instead. This is good as it shows they at least have ideas on where to take Rusev now his streak’s over. I was heartened by it.
The night was rounded off with yet more tag action with Seth Rollins, Kane and Big Show pitted against Randy Orton, Ryback and a mystery third man, who anyone with an attached brain stem could have guessed would turn out to be Roman Reigns. I will admit that the final match is a little uninspired. We’ve seen so many variations of this match-up, it’s hard to get excited for it. When Roman did show up, he got huge boos, which I found to be rather surprising after his performance in the ‘Mania main event. I mean, he didn’t win the belt, what are people complaining about now? Even the reviled Big Show got a huge cheer when he battered Roman. I’m not sure what they want. Anyway, the crowd decided to make it all about themselves and chanted anything but anything match related, including doing a Mexican wave. Hey audience pricks- I watch Raw for the wrestlers, not your dumb hive-mind asses. If you have to chant “We are awesome!”, chances are you probably aren’t. Yes, the match was lazy, but you didn’t need to be this obnoxious.
Whilst the wheels fell off towards the end, I thought this was a quality episode of Raw. We had some cool storyline advances, some impressive NXT debuts and promises of big things in the future. I’m also delighted to be able to give an episode of Raw more than three stars for the first time since I started doing these. Brilliant.