The following is a guest post from WrestleTalk. Subscribe to their YouTube channel for new videos every day.
The 04/11/16 edition of WWE Monday Night Raw reviewed in about 4 minutes – featuring the long-awaited debut of Luke Gallows (formerly ‘Doc Gallows’ in New Japan Pro Wrestling) and Karl Anderson, aka. The Bullet Club; two fantastic matches with Sami Zayn vs AJ Styles, and Kevin Owens vs Cesaro; Shane McMahon is in control of Raw again; everyone still hates Roman Reigns; is Bray Wyatt a babyface yet and much, much more…
Support WrestleTalk – buy a t-shirt!
SHANE’S STILL HERE
Shane was always meant to be the General Manager again this week, only the reason had to change. Originally the WWE were going to say it’s because last week’s ratings were so good. But they weren’t, so they went for ‘overwhelming social media support’ instead. Which means it only took a few tweets to overturn a major defeat against the Undertaker at Wrestlemania. Still, it’s good to see Shane’s weird face bruise has cleared up. Moley moley mole.
If this is how Raw’s going to be, though, I don’t care how many stipulations it renders worthless. Shane brought a coherence to the show that’s been missing for a long, long time. Matches meant something, and those matches were good. Like the opener, Cesaro versus Kevin Owens to become the number 1 contender for The Miz’s Intercontinental Title.
CESARO BEAT KEVIN OWENS
Cesaro’s entrance is starting to look like several pop culture references got drunk and accidentally slept with a nightclub bouncer. He’s a James Bond, Hitman hybrid who turns into Superman. And who’s talking to him on that earpiece? Is Vince shouting abuse at the wrestler as well as the commentators now?
Confusing gimmick aside, he had a really solid match beating Owens to open the show. Cesaro will now challenge Miz for the Intercontinental Title, but Owens still looked strong in defeat.
It makes sense, Owens already has a feud with Owens, and Cesaro can now fight for a title. Everyone is taken care of. Apart from Zack Ryder. Speaking of Sami…
AJ STYLES BEAT SAMI ZAYN
“Hats off to these two…” – awkward pause – “…superstars,” was Michael Cole’s line at the end of this brilliant match. Just had to make it a bit rubbish at the end there, didn’t you?
Again, this match made sense. Sami couldn’t compete in last week’s number 1 contender’s four way, so he got a go here. I like a clean finish, and AJ did make Zayn look really strong, but I feel like they missed a trick with Owens not costing Sami the match. It would’ve made their blood feud even more heated.
Here’s the other stuff that happened…
NATALYA BEAT CHARLOTTE VIA DQ
Ric Flair pulling the referee out the ring cost Charlotte her match via DQ, but not her title. Charlotte was visibly tapping, so expect this feud to continue.
Natalya’s ring gear looks like she’s on her way to a Torture Garden fetish night. Or, as Tyson Kidd calls it, Thursdays.
CHRIS JERICHO HIGHLIGHT REEL
Jericho interviewed his biggest guest ever…himself, with Dean Ambrose interrupted with his zany brand of comedy.
Here’s your new Y2J program! I can’t wait for Ambrose to win the first three matches and lose the last. Jericho beat the current number one contender at Wrestlemania. He should moan about that more.
APOLLO CREWS BEAT ADAM ROSE
Apollo Crews likes his squash Adam Rose-flavoured.
DUDLEYS BEAT LUCHA DRAGONS
Shane continued his making matches mean something theme by kicking off a tag team tournament to decide the division’s number one contenders – which was sponsored by Booty-O cereal instead of Kay Jewellers or TapOut for once.
This was its first match, with the Dudleys beating a Lucha Dragon because Kalisto was injured early on the outside. Then Enzo and Cass came out to do all their catchphrases. Yep, still over.
THE USOS BEAT CURTIS AXEL AND HEATH SLATER
The Social Outcasts lost after a mistimed Bo-Train against the Usos, but it was the post-match angle that really mattered: Festus made his long awaited return to the WWE!
Ex-Bullet Club members Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson ran through the crowd and beat down everyone in the ring. Michael Cole didn’t just reference them dominating ‘Japan,’ he specifically said ’New Japan’.
Hopefully they’ll do an Outsiders-like invasion teasing a third man to bring Hulk Hogan back! Or call up Fin Balor. Either works.
And now, the main event…
BRAY WYATT & ROMAN REIGNS VS ALBERTO DEL RIO & SHEAMUS
Roman’s said that ‘the good, the bad and the The’ line again. It was good for a one-off delivery, but it’s not zingy enough for a catchphrase. The League of Nations came out to minimise the ‘boos’ and then the Wyatt Family materialised out of nowhere. In his best impression of Teddy Long, Shane then made a tag match of Reigns and Bray vs the League, players.
FLASH FACT: This is the first time Bray Wyatt has ever had a 2-on-2 match without a Wyatt Family member as his partner.
This whole angle, from the promo to the main event match, felt like a hangover from the Authority days. Everything else felt fresh and exciting, but this was stuck in a pre-Shane time.
The only saving grace was Bray’s steady transition into a babyface. The guy can take a hell of a hot tag. It’s easy to forget just how fast he can move around the ring when most of his matches and promos require him to do things very methodically and slowly.
One day, a heel Roman vs face Bray is going to be big.
This week’s Raw is a resounding ‘Cor’.
NEARLY EVERY MATCH MEANT SOMETHING! And why? Because they were centred around titles. If the post-Mania Raw was the crazy fun show that burns you out quite quickly, this week’s was the measured, maturer older brother you’d happily hang out with for hours.
The announcing is still in its own league of awful, but the mostly coherent logic and meaning behind matches, combined with the freshness of new feuds, debuting faces, no Authority and several stunning matches, made this – for me – the best Raw of the year so far.
But what did you all think? Let us know in the comments down below.
If you enjoyed this review, subscribe to WrestleTalk’s YouTube channel (where you can watch the video version above) and go there every day for new videos.
And, before you go to read all the other great articles on Flickering Myth, you might as well watch the latest episode of British Wrestling Weekly: