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This week’s edition of Raw takes place less than a week after the death of arguably the greatest WWE Champion ever, Bruno Sammartino. Bruno passed away last Wednesday in Pittsburgh at the age of 82 years old. The wrestling community showed a lot of love to the man that was the most popular wrestler in the through most of the 1960s into the 1970s. It was before my time as a fan (I started watching in the mid-1980s), but we all know about Bruno and the tremendous impact he had on the professional wrestling business. It’s expected that WWE will pay tribute to him on Raw as they should.

It’s also a busy week for WWE because it’s the first Raw after the Superstar Shake-up and then we get to see what the new look Smackdown is like. I wrote about all the Superstar Shake-up moves here at The Comeback in case you want my thoughts on everybody that moved. On Friday, it’s the Greatest Royal Rumble event from Saudi Arabia that will be on WWE Network and I’ll review that one live as well. The following Sunday, May 6, is Backlash, so there’s a lot for WWE to promote on this week’s Raw. Let’s get to it.

Live from St. Louis, Missouri, this is the Raw Deal for episode #1300 of Monday Night Raw. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. Thanks to Melo Man for the banner up top. Thank you for reading and remember you can always pick up a TJRWrestling t-shirt to support the site as well. We might get some new designs up soon.

A graphic aired saying this show is in memory of Bruno Sammartino: 1935-2008.

The Raw roster stood on the stage. Vince McMahon was there with the talent with Roman Reigns and Bobby Lashley on each side of him. No Triple H because he is in Saudi Arabia ahead of the Greatest Royal Rumble event. Everybody stood in silence as the bell rang ten times.

A video package aired about Bruno Sammartino talking about how big of a star Bruno was showing him in the ring getting cheered, they showed pics of him with The Pope, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Paul Heyman called him the greatest champion and box office attraction in the history of sports entertainment. That’s a true statement because he headlined Madison Square Garden more than anybody in wrestling history and it was sold out shows. Triple H talked about Bruno’s journey and Vince McMahon said that Bruno epitomized the American dream. They showed clips of Bruno’s Hall of Fame induction in 2013. More classic photos and videos of Bruno were shown. It was really well done.

Brock Lesnar, the Universal Champion, and Paul Heyman made their entrance to start the show.

The announce team of Michael Cole, Corey Graves and Booker T welcomed us to the show. Booker was replacing Jonathon Coachman this week due to Coachman being on assignment for his golf announcing job that he has.

The Lesnar and Heyman segment is after the break.

(Commercial)

Let’s Watch Brock Lesnar Stand in a Ring While Paul Heyman Talks

The graphic reminded us that Lesnar will defend the Universal Title against Roman Reigns at the Greatest Royal Rumble event in Saudi Arabia on Friday with a start time of 12pmET.

The crowd booed a lot as Heyman tried to start the promo with Heyman proudly noting that Lesnar is still the Universal Champion. Heyman said the fans think that they are there to gloat and say we told you so. Heyman talked about Lesnar conquering The Undertaker’s undefeated streak (the crowd booed that), he mentioned Lesnar taking Cena to Suplex City and said every other wannabe tough guy didn’t have a chance against Lesnar. Heyman said that he doesn’t offer predictions, he delivers spoilers. Heyman said they are not gloating because Brock Lesnar conquers and Heyman said that he gloats.

Heyman talked about how Lesnar used some non-PG era elbows to scar up Roman Reigns face and Heyman gloats over the fact that Lesnar took Reigns to Suplex City and Heyman bragged about how Lesnar beat up Reigns at the biggest WrestleMania of all time. Heyman said that none of that means anything to Brock Lesnar because Lesnar does not dwell in the past even when the past was only two weeks ago at WrestleMania. Heyman said that Lesnar looks forward to the future even when it’s this Friday in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia at the Greatest Royal Rumble event. Heyman said that Lesnar craves to be in the UFC fighting and now Lesnar will go on a private jet to Saudi Arabia for the opportunity to be locked inside of a cage with Roman Reigns. Some fans started a “Roman” chant although it was not a lot of them. Heyman asked them if being in a cage was Roman’s idea.

Heyman said that Lesnar pinned Roman Reigns, so WWE had no choice and Lesnar signed a big, fat, beautiful contract that Lesnar earned by beating Roman Reigns at WrestleMania. Heyman said that WWE came to Lesnar saying that they needed the Universal Title defended at the Greatest Royal Rumble event. Heyman claimed that Lesnar wanted Reigns in a fight for the title in a steel cage. Heyman said the odds are stacked even more so against Reigns than they were at WrestleMania. Heyman continued ranting about how Reigns is going to come back to the United States in multiple boxes as a former WWE superstar…and here comes Reigns.

Analysis: That went on for a few minutes too long probably to get some heat on Lesnar and Heyman. At least Heyman tried to explain why Lesnar vs. Reigns is happening again.

Roman Reigns walked out to the usual mixed reaction while Lesnar stood in the ring with the Universal Title on his shoulder. Heyman left the ring.

Reigns walked down to the ring. He took his time getting in there. Reigns faced off with Lesnar as the crowd was standing in anticipation of what might happen. It sounded like there was a louder “Roman” chant than earlier in the show.

Reigns did a promo saying that he doesn’t know how he’ll get back from Saudi Arabia, but he knows he is coming home with that title “and you can believe that.” Reigns dropped the microphone and left. Reigns’ music played and he left to a mixed reaction.

Analysis: That was a very basic opening segment with Heyman doing the usual promo he always does, Lesnar didn’t say a word and Reigns spoke briefly with confidence. I thought that maybe there would be a brawl or one of the guys would hit their finisher. Nope. It was just a staredown with no physicality. They are saving it for the Greatest Royal Rumble event on Friday.

Later on Raw: Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens debut their talk show with Kurt Angle as the guest. There’s a ten woman tag team match that will be the main event according to Graves.

Elias was shown walking backstage because he is up next.

(Commercial)

PLUG TIME: My writing career is as busy as ever. It’s more than just reviews of Raw and Smackdown every single week along with PPV previews/reviews. Here are two columns I did for The Comeback covering all the moves in the Superstar Shake-up last week and I followed that up with a review of Something Else to Wrestle with Bruce Prichard (I enjoyed it a lot)…Over on TJRWrestling, I did two Question and Answer mailbag style posts with part one here and part two is here. Those are great because they are a mix of questions from the past, the present and predictions for the future…I also try to get a retro WWE pay-per-view review done every week where I’m continuing my reviews of events from the mid-2000s. The latest review is No Way Out 2005 featuring JBL finding a way to keep the WWE Title against Big Show in a Barbed Wire steel cage match and a great match with John Cena and Kurt Angle. It’s a bad show overall, but I really enjoyed Cena vs. Angle and the creativity that went into the finish of the main event.

There were messages shown from people remembering Bruno Sammartino including NFL Hall of Famer Dan Marino, Booker T and Shane McMahon.

Elias was in the ring about to do his song, but Bobby Roode’s “Glorious” song interrupted him. Cole was upset about no concert even though Cole is normally the face announcer and Elias is a heel. Graves was happy with no concert even though Graves is usually a heel. Cole mentioned both men are in the Greatest Royal Rumble on Friday.

Bobby Roode vs. Elias

They exchanged chops early on, boot to the face by Roode, atomic drop by Roode and a dropkick. Roode favored his left knee after he landed on it. Graves and Cole bickered with both guys saying Elias is a main eventer even though he really isn’t a main eventer. Elias worked over Roode with chops, Roode wanted his DDT, Elias slipped out and Roode hit a clothesline that sent Elias over the top to the floor leading to the commercial.

(Commercial)

Back from break, Roode with a chop to the chest. Elias took control by sending Roode shoulder first into the ring post. Elias did the dreaded vice grip on Roode’s shoulder while an ad aired for the Greatest Royal Rumble event. Elias remained in control with a running knee on the apron for a two count. Elias slapped on a headlock while Cole claimed Raw’s roster is more stacked than ever, which is not true, but they need to tell their stories. Roode with the comeback with clotheslines, a corner clothesline and a swinging neckbreaker. Roode with a clothesline off the top rope. Roode did his glorious pose, he wanted the Glorious DDT, but Elias countered and Roode got a two count. Roode with a boot to the face followed by the Blockbuster neckbreaker off the middle rope. Elias rolled out to the floor. Roode rolled Elias back in, then Elias sent the side of Roode’s head into the top rope and Elias did the ROLLUP OF DEATH~! for the pinfall win. It went about 11 minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Elias

Analysis: **1/4 Simple match with not a lot of heat. The finish was weak with Elias just sending Roode into the top rope, which stunned Roode enough that Elias got the win with the dreaded ROLLUP OF DEATH~! It didn’t come off as a good ending at all. It was too basic without much creativity.

There was a backstage promo from Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt. When Hardy spoke there was a lot of light. When Wyatt showed up it was darkness. They did their laugh and said “run” to end it. There wasn’t much to it.

(Commercial)

They showed the Instagram post from The Rock showing a pic of him with his newborn third daughter, Tiana Gia Johnson. It is The Rock’s third daughter and his second with his girlfriend Lauren. Graves wondered why Rock was shirtless while comically noting that Rock isn’t the one that gave birth. Good point. Rock’s message mentioned skin to skin, so that’s why he did it like that.

The Ascension duo of Viktor and Konnor were in the ring to lose…I mean have a match.

Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt made their entrance to Hardy’s theme song at the start and then it turned into Wyatt’s song. When they got into the ring, it turned into Hardy’s song again.

Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt vs. The Ascension (Viktor and Konnor)

Hardy applauded Viktor for a spot where avoided a move and Hardy led the crowd in a standing ovation. Hardy with a Russian legsweep on Viktor. Double team back elbow by Hardy/Wyatt followed by a leg drop and senton splash combination. Konnor tagged in against Wyatt with punches and Wyatt came back with a clothesline. Hardy with boots to the face, Wyatt with a shoulder tackle and Viktor drove Hardy to the corner. Viktor tagged in with stomps on Hardy. Viktor got back in there, Hardy tagged in and hit a running cross body block. Wyatt hit a corner clothesline and Hardy hit a Side Effect for two on Viktor. Konnor broke up the Twist of Fate attempt, but Wyatt went back in with a Sister Abigail on Konnor. Double team Twist of Fate by Hardy and Wyatt on Viktor for the pinfall win. It went about three minutes.

Winners by pinfall: Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt

Analysis: * Easy win for Hardy and Wyatt to give them positive momentum going into the Greatest Royal Rumble. There wasn’t a moment in the match where The Ascension looked like they might win, nor did the crowd believe in them at all. It was very basic. At least the crowd likes Hardy and Wyatt together. I do too.

Hardy and Wyatt celebrated the win. They face Sheamus and Cesaro for the Raw Tag Team Titles at the Greatest Royal Rumble event. I’ll go with Hardy and Wyatt there.

The Sami and Kevin Show is up next. Good.

(Commercial)

There were more social media posts remembering Bruno Sammartino including the Pittsburgh Steelers (Bruno was from Pittsburgh), Triple H, Chris Jericho and Bruno Mars (who was named after Sammartino).

The Sami & Kevin Show

Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens made their entrance to Zayn’s theme song. There were photos of them in the ring. They sat down on leather chairs behind a table that was in the ring. They talked about how this is the greatest talk show in WWE history and they hope it’s a weekly show. Owens mentioned The Miz being taken off Raw while talking about how great The Miz was and there was a void without him. They mentioned the Rusev Casket Match with Undertaker and Lana letting Rusev doing it, which was pretty funny. Zayn and Owens talked about how they are the most dominant of the 50 superstars in the Greatest Royal Rumble match. Zayn said they will prove why they were handpicked as the crown jewels of this show by Stephanie McMahon.

Owens said this is about new beginnings and fresh starts. They did their own version of the Kurt Angle theme song with Zayn chanting “you suck” for it.

Kurt Angle made his entrance with the fans chanting “you suck” as Angle walked out there in a suit. Angle will be in action in the 50-man Royal Rumble match at the Greatest Royal Rumble event. Angle entered the ring, so Owens took out a cheap lawn folding chair. Angle sat in it.

Zayn asked Angle how he liked the song. Angle said they shouldn’t quit their day jobs. Owens talked about how they got off on the wrong foot last week. Zayn said they were on a toxic environment on Smackdown and Owens said they were victims of a conspiracy due to Shane McMahon’s personal vendetta. Owens said that’s why he had to take matters into his own hands and crack the skull of Vince McMahon. Zayn said that means that Stephanie either appreciates their talents or…Zayn mentioned that she must really dislike Angle. Angle said he wouldn’t blame her if she did because if not for Kurt, Stephanie would have Rousey under her thumb and Stephanie would have full use of her arm.

Zayn and Owens mentioned Angle’s kids with Zayn thinking it was five kids. Owens pointed out it was six kids and Owens said that he forgot Jason Jordan. Zayn: “It’s no big deal because Kurt kinda forgot him too.” Great line.

Owens asked Angle what he is going to do for them on Raw. Angle said that he’s going to repay them at the Greatest Royal Rumble. Angle pointed out he’ll be in the match, so will Daniel Bryan (lots of “yes” chants) and Angle pointed out Chris Jericho will be in it as well and others as well. Angle put them in a tag team match for Raw against Bobby Lashley and Braun Strowman. Sami and Kevin were not happy. Angle’s music played to end it.

Analysis: That was a fun segment. I enjoy Owens and Zayn as a duo. The funniest line was when Owens told Zayn he forgot about Jason Jordan and then Zayn pointed out that Angle forgot about Jordan for years. That was clever. Angle played his part well talking about how he can get his hands on them in the Greatest Royal Rumble match while mentioning Daniel Bryan and Chris Jericho in the match as former adversaries. The tag team match for later sounds like fun.

Seth Rollins was in the locker room. Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel showed up to say that they don’t have The Miz anymore, but they could team up with Rollins to become the new Shield. Bo and Curtis were wearing “Monday Night Rollins” shirts. Rollins said sorry to them and that it’s going to be a hard no on that. Rollins left.

Analysis: I thought it was a bad move to take Bo and Curtis away from The Miz. I’m intrigued to see what plans WWE has for them. If they have nothing interesting then I wonder why they even did the move.

The announcers shilled the Greatest Royal Rumble lineup for this Friday. I have the full lineup at the bottom of this review.

Still to come: 10-woman tag team match. Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre are up next.

(Commercial)

There was a replay of last week when Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre destroyed Titus and Apollo.

Titus O’Neil and Apollo Crews (he got his last name back) were with Dana Brooke in the ring for a tag team match. Dana has a retro look to her. She looks great like usual.

Drew McIntyre made his entrance first and then he was joined by Dolph Ziggler. I know this is the new Drew, but I loved the “Broken Dreams” song that Drew used to have. It was a catchy tune.

Drew McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler vs. Titus O’Neil and Apollo Crews (w/Dana Brooke)

O’Neil whipped Ziggler into the turnbuckle. Crews tagged in with a clothesline followed by a standing moonsault. McIntyre with a boot to Crews and McIntyre tagged in with a belly to belly throw across the ring. Ziggler tagged in with a superkick and McIntyre hit a reverse Alabama Slam on Crews. McIntyre tagged back in and they hit the Claymore Kick into the Zig Zag double team move for the pinfall win. It went two minutes.

Winners by pinfall: Drew McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler

Analysis: * A quick match to put over Raw’s new heel duo. I like their double team finishing move a lot.

Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre were interviewed by Charly Caruso. Ziggler said that he’s never had anybody watching his back (hey Big E how you doing?) and he talked about how good McIntyre was. McIntyre said that he sees people in the back that don’t have the fire, but he’s a superstar, this is how a superstar speaks and Drew said he is not what WWE wants – he is the wakeup call and reality check that this place definitely needs. Ziggler says they don’t care about stealing the show because this right here is…the show. Ziggler dropped the microphone and they left.

Analysis: Good promo from Ziggler and McIntyre. I liked what McIntyre said about how he’s a wakeup call that WWE needs. With Owens and Zayn also on Raw, that means there are two heel duos in similar spots, so hopefully both duos are able to stay fresh.

Angle was in his office and Chad Gable showed up in his ring gear. Gable thanked Kurt for bringing him to Raw. Gable asked how Jason Jordan was and Angle said he’s good and he’ll be back here soon. Angle told Gable he brought him there to be a singles competitor. Jinder Mahal showed up with Sunil Singh to complain about Angle putting him in a US Title match last week, which Mahal lost and then Angle moved Jeff Hardy to Smackdown. Mahal gets his rematch at the Greatest Royal Rumble event on Friday. Gable talked about respect. Jinder joked that Gable was the little boy that became tag team champions with Braun Strowman. Mahal joked that Mini Me just passed away this week. Gable shoved Mahal and Angle told them to settle it in the ring right now. Gable said he loves it and they left.

Analysis: It was a quick segment to have Mahal act like a jerk and get some sympathy for Gable. I figured Gable would go back to being a babyface as a singles wrestler on Raw. It’s the more natural role for him due to being a shorter guy as well as the offensive style that he has.

This week on Smackdown hyped up The Miz and Daniel Bryan going face to face.

(Commercial)

Sunil Singh did the introduction for his buddy Jinder Mahal by calling him the former and future United States Champion. The crowd booed Mahal like usual. Mahal challenges Jeff Hardy for the US Title at the Greatest Royal Rumble event on Friday.

Chad Gable entered to the American Alpha theme song.

When Gable tried to enter the ring, Singh distracted Gable and Mahal knocked Gable off the apron. Mahal pounded on Mahal. Gable got back to his feet in the ring and the bell rang.

Jinder Mahal (w/Sunil Singh) vs. Chad Gable

Mahal with a boot to the face. Mahal charged in, Gable ducked and sent Mahal over the top to the floor. They were on the floor where Mahal hit a clothesline as the show went to break.

(Commercial)

Back from break, Mahal slapped on an armbar. Mahal hit a suplex. Mahal with a hard whip into the corner that Gable sold with a sternum first bump like Bret Hart did hundreds of times. Mahal with a chinlock. Gable broke free leading to Mahal dropping him with a back elbow. Mahal with knee drops to the face. Gable came back with a rolling kick to the head, then he worked on the knee and did a dragon screw leg whip. Mahal came back with a stun gun followed by a running knee to the face that looked great. Mahal wanted The Khallas, but Gable kicked his feet against the turnbuckle and landed on top of Mahal for the pinfall win. It went about eight minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Chad Gable

Analysis: ** A decent match for the most part with Mahal in control for 90% of it. It’s not fun to watch Jinder’s chinlocks and other basic moves. The finish was the classic ending where the guy holds onto a move for too long, the other guy kicks off the ropes and covered for the win. That’s a finish we’ve seen before for Bret Hart vs. Steve Austin at Survivor Series 1996 for example and even further back with Bret Hart and Roddy Piper at WrestleMania 8 in 1992. It was an upset win for Gable to give him some momentum as a singles wrestler on Raw.

The announcers put over the win as a huge upset since Mahal is a former WWE Champion and that’s the biggest win of Gable’s career as a singles wrestler.

The trio of Ruby Riott, Sarah Logan and Liv Morgan were interviewed by Renee Young backstage. They talked trash about the other women on Raw. Riott said they are like a tear gas and when they hit the scene, everybody else is begging for help.

Coming up at Backlash on May 6 is Roman Reigns vs. Samoa Joe. Up next are Samoa Joe comments.

(Commercial)

There were more social media comments remembering Bruno Sammartino including comments from Vince McMahon, Ted Dibiase, MLB player Josh Reddick, Madison Square Garden and Kurt Angle.

The announcers talked about the Bruno Sammartino special on WWE Network after Raw. Booker talked about the honor of being in the same Hall of Fame class as Bruno in 2013.

A replay aired of the Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns face to face from earlier in the night.

Samoa Joe did a cell phone promo about how Brock Lesnar will once again conquer Roman Reigns and leave him buried in the desert. Reigns faces Samoa Joe at Backlash on May 6.

The announcers plugged more matches that are part of the Greatest Royal Rumble event.

Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel were shown in the locker room. They talked to Finn Balor and tried to convince him that they should be in the Balor Club. Balor wasn’t interested. Bo and Curtis did the “too sweet” hand gesture, so Balor pushed their hands down. Dallas asked if Axel knew what he was thinking and Axel said he had no idea.

Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn were shown backstage because they are up next in tag team action.

(Commercial)

The top of hour three meant it was time for another tag team match on a show full of tag team matches.

Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn entered first. Bobby Lashley was out first for his team followed by Braun Strowman. Huge ovation for Strowman.

Braun Strowman and Bobby Lashley vs. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn

Owens and Zayn did the cowardly thing by running away to start the match. Strowman whipped Zayn into the barricade while Lashley hit a neckbreaker on Owens. Lashley picked up Owens and hit a spinebuster. Lashley worked over Owens with a punch followed by a shoulder tackle against the turnbuckle. Zayn tagged in and Lashley dropped him with a snap suplex. Lashley charged in and Zayn got a boot to the face to knock him down. Owens tagged back in with punches on Lashley. That didn’t last long because Lashley sent Owens out of the ring and hit a cross body block on Zayn for a two count. Lashley with a shoulder to the ribs of Zayn against the turnbuckle. Owens pulled down the top rope, so when Lashley ran towards the ropes, he ended up bumping over the top to the floor. They went to break there.

(Commercial)

Back from break, the heels had Lashley isolated and Lashley came back with a belly to belly suplex that sent Zayn across the ring. That was a great move and bump by Zayn. Owens back in and Lashley got his knees up to block the senton attempt. Lashley with a sidewalk slam on Zayn. Strowman finally got the hot tag with a running shoulder tackle on Owens outside the ring. Strowman back in the ring with a punch on Zayn. Strowman left the ring and ran over Owens again with a running shoulder tackle. Strowman nailed Zayn with another punch. Strowman with a running dropkick on Owens on the floor. The crowd was going wild for Strowman’s offense. Zayn tried to run away, but Lashley caught up to him and rolled Zayn back in. Strowman with a punch to the chest on Zayn. Fans chanted “get these hands” as Strowman hit a splash on Zayn in the corner. Lashley tagged back in and Strowman threw Zayn across the ring. Lashley hit a delayed vertical suplex on Zayn. Strowman tagged back in with a Running Powerslam on Zayn. Strowman covered for the pinfall win after 12 minutes.

Winners by pinfall: Braun Strowman and Bobby Lashley

Analysis: *** It was a solid tag team match with the predictable story of Lashley as the face in peril and Strowman getting the hot tag. The crowd was on fire for Strowman’s offense, so it was the right way to book the match. I don’t think anybody believed Zayn and Owens would win this match. It would be interesting if Strowman and Lashley became a regular tag team because they could be booked as a dominant super team, but I think there’s too much money in Strowman as a singles wrestler to put him in a tag team.

The faces celebrated the win while the announcers wondered if Strowman and Lashley would be a regular team. Booker said it wouldn’t be fair.

Still to come is the 10-woman tag team match. Seth Rollins and Finn Balor vs. Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel is still to come.

Baron Corbin is up next.

(Commercial)

No Way Jose made his entrance with a conga line. Cole told Booker to get in the conga line. Booker: “What?” Welcome back to commentary for one week, Booker. The announcers bickered about it for about one minute with Cole ending it saying Booker is back for one night and said “Thank God.”

Baron Corbin walked out on the stage with a microphone. Corbin said that Jose’s conga line might try to attack him when he’s in the match. Corbin talked about how his idea of fun is ruining other people’s fun. Corbin said he is a former champion (he didn’t say US Champion) and Corbin told Jose he is not on his level. Corbin said no way Jose to having a match as long as Jose has his freaks at ringside.

Jose said just because Corbin doesn’t want them to have fun, does not mean that the party has to stop. Jose danced with conga line again. They went up the ramp with the conga dancers going to the back first. Corbin attacked Jose from behind with the microphone to the back of the head. That was very obvious. Corbin kicked Jose in the ribs and in the head. Corbin hit a Chokeslam Backbreaker. Corbin stood over a fallen Jose.

Analysis: It was a way to start a new rivalry on Raw with the angry man Corbin against the overly excited Jose. Corbin should win the brief feud that they have because he’s more of a future star while Jose is just an opening act character.

Alexa Bliss talked during “A Moment of Bliss” segment. Bliss talked about how Nia Jax was a bully while telling a story about a homeless woman and Nia ripped the food from the woman and Nia ate it. Bliss talked about her title match against Nia Jax at Backlash where she will show that bullies never win.

Analysis: It just continued the story of Bliss calling Jax a bully. Never forget that heels lie.

Finn Balor made his entrance.

(Commercial)

They showed a clip of John Cena lifting 500 pounds. That’s what Cena posted on Twitter earlier on Monday, which was also his 41st birthday.

Seth Rollins made his entrance with the Intercontinental Title. Great ovation for him. Rollins defends the IC Title at the Greatest Royal Rumble in a 4-Way Ladder Match vs. The Miz, Finn Balor and Samoa Joe.

Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel entered to The Miz’s theme song and were introduced as The Miztourage.

Seth Rollins and Finn Balor vs. Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel

Axel was in the ring with Balor, Dallas distracted and Axel took control. Dallas tagged back in with a headlock. Balor with a jawbreaker, Dallas with a forearm and Balor hit an overhead kick. Rollins got the hot tag against Axel with Rollins hitting a clothesline off the top followed by the Slingblade. Rollins clothesline sent Axel over the top to the floor. Rollins hit a suicide dive on Axel on the floor. Rollins sent Axel back in, kick to the face and a Blockbuster neckbreaker off the middle ropes. Rollins with a kick on Dallas, kick to Axel’s stomach and Rollins hit The Stomp on Axel. Balor tagged in, went up top and hit the Coup de Gras double foot stomp on Axel for the pinfall win after four minutes.

Winners by pinfall: Seth Rollins and Finn Balor

Analysis: *1/2 Easy tag team match win for Rollins and Balor like every time they are in a match with Dallas and Axel.

The women’s team of Bayley, Sasha Banks, Natalya, Ember Moon and Nia Jax were backstage talking about their opponents. Three women left and then Bayley had a staredown with Banks.

The 10-woman tag team match is up next.

This week on Smackdown is Miz TV with Daniel Bryan as the guest. That’s great.

(Commercial)

There were more social media comments shown to honor the memory of Bruno Sammartino including comments from AJ Styles and Bret Hart.

The duo of Alexa Bliss and Mickie James made their entrance for the main event. It’s weird seeing Bliss without the title and it’s always good to see Mickie. Ruby Riott was joined by her Riott Squad buddies Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan.

Bayley was up first for the face team. Nia Jax was up last for the face team since she is the Raw Women’s Champion.

Analysis: I assume that this match is main eventing because the women are not a part of the Greatest Royal Rumble event on Friday.

Nia Jax, Natalya, Sasha Banks, Ember Moon and Bayley vs. Alexa Bliss, Mickie James, Sarah Logan, Ruby Riott and Liv Morgan

Banks worked over Logan with the double knees to the face. Moon tagged in against Morgan with Booker talking about Moon was the hardest worker he’s ever worked with as Moon hit a springboard cross body block on Morgan. Moon nailed Bliss with an impressive suicide dive as the show went to break three minutes into it.

(Commercial)

The match returned with Logan working over Banks with an armbar. When Banks tried to tag out, Logan tackled her. James tagged herself in and told Logan to get out of there. James stomped away on Banks. James slapped on a headlock on Banks as a commercial aired promoting the Greatest Royal Rumble event. Banks got to her feet, James kneed her in the ribs and slapped on another headlock. Banks hit a forearm on James and tagged in Natalya, who nailed a clothesline on James and a suplex. Natalya with another suplex. Natalya did her step on the back move followed by the basement dropkick. Natalya slapped on the Sharpshooter on James and Logan ran in for the save by hitting a chop block on Natalya’s knee. Natalya tagged in Bayley and James kicked Natalya into the ropes. Natalya was in pain on the floor and Natalya was favoring her right knee. Natalya was being checked on by doctors. Riott faced off with Bayley with Riott hitting a STO for a two count. They replayed the Natalya injury spot as well as the cheap shot kick by James. Bayley backed Riott into the corner and Jax tagged in to a nice ovation.

Jax splashed Riott against the turnbuckle. Jax with a press slam on Riott followed by a running leg drop. The other heel women broke it up. The women brawled outside the ring. Jax jumped off the apron and knocked down the other women. All of the women were down except James, who managed to avoid it. Natalya got back to her feet, so James ran into the ring and hit a running dropkick on Natalya, who was knocked down on the floor. James kicked away on Natalya. Ronda Rousey’s music hit. Huge ovation from the crowd for that. Rousey went down to the ring and helped Natalya up, but James hit a running dropkick on Rousey. That drew an angry face from Rousey. When Rousey went into the ring, Rousey tripped James up and slapped on an armbar. James tapped. The referee called for the bell because Rousey was not a part of this match. Rousey’s music played to end it. It went about 15 minutes. The crowd cheered the aggressiveness from Rousey.

Winners by disqualification: Alexa Bliss, Mickie James, Sarah Logan, Ruby Riott and Liv Morgan

Analysis: **1/2 They wrestled for 15 minutes and put over a woman that wasn’t even in the match because it was Ronda Rousey. It makes it tough to rate the actual match for that reason because everything they did felt like a waste of time because it was all done to build to Rousey. I did enjoy the stuff with Logan attacking Natalya’s knee, then James attacking Natalya with a cheap shot and another cheap shot after that as well. That was cool. Some of the women in the match like Alexa Bliss didn’t even tag in at least during the part of the match that was shown. I know Bliss had some minor procedure of some kind done recently, so maybe that’s why. Anyway, the final sequence was well done. The rest of the match felt like an afterthought. What I like is that my two favorites Mickie and Natalya are probably going to feud after this, so that’s interesting to me.

After the match was over, Rousey helped Natalya to her feet and they walked up the ramp together.

The announcers were shown on camera shilling the Greatest Royal Rumble event.

Rousey was shown helping Natalya as the show ended at 11:07pmET.

Analysis: It looks like it will set up a storyline with Mickie James vs. Natalya or Mickie James vs. Ronda Rousey or perhaps James and Alexa Bliss vs. Rousey and Natalya. I am fine with either of those possibilities because I’m a fan of all the women involved. It’s smart to put Rousey in an angle with Mickie and with Natalya especially if Natalya turns on Rousey down the road. Mickie and Natalya will bring out the best in Rousey because they are veterans that know what they are doing out there.

 

Three Stars of the Show

1. Braun Strowman

2. Sami Zayn

3. (tie) Kevin Owens

3. (tie) Bobby Lashley

 

The Scoreboard

5.5 out of 10

Last week: 7

2018 Average: 6

Last 5 Weeks: 7, 7, 5.5, 4.5, 5.5

2018 High: 8 (February 19)

2018 Low: 4.5 (March 26)

 

Final Thoughts

I give it a 5.5 out of 10.

I thought it was just an average show. There was a lot of excitement about Raw after the Superstar Shake-up and wanting to see what the new superstars might do. It ended up being not too much at all. There just wasn’t a lot of story development on this show.

There were five tag team matches on this show. That’s too much, but it does get a lot of people in matches. If you are a fan of tag team wrestling then this might have been your favorite show. The problem with five tag matches on the same show is when you do the same formula for every match it feels very repetitive.

The women’s tag team match was all about building up Rousey’s big moment at the end of the night even if it meant the match result was meaningless. Rousey got the crowd excited and that’s what matters with how WWE books her.

Here’s the lineup for the Greatest Royal Rumble event from Saudi Arabia on Friday, April 27 with a 7pm local start time, which his 12pm ET/9pm PT. I will have a preview up on Wednesday and a live review on TJRWrestling on Friday.

Universal Championship: Brock Lesnar (c) vs Roman Reigns

WWE Championship: AJ Styles (c) vs Shinsuke Nakamura

50-Man Royal Rumble Match – Names include: Daniel Bryan, Braun Strowman, Big Show, Kurt Angle, Chris Jericho, Elias, Baron Corbin, Big E, Kofi Kingston, Xavier Woods, Apollo Crews, Shelton Benjamin, Sin Cara, Chad Gable, Goldust, Titus O’Neil, Mojo Rawley, Dolph Ziggler, Bobby Roode

John Cena vs Triple H

Casket Match: The Undertaker vs Rusev

Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match: Seth Rollins (c) vs The Miz vs Finn Balor vs Samoa Joe (Ladder Match)

United States Championship: Jeff Hardy (c) vs Jinder Mahal

Raw Tag Team Championships (Titles are vacant): Bray Wyatt & Matt Hardy vs Sheamus & Cesaro

SmackDown Tag Team Championships: The Bludgeon Brothers (c) vs The Usos

Cruiserweight Championship: Cedric Alexander (c) vs To be determined on 205 Live this week

That’s all for this week. See ya next time for the Smackdown review.

Go Toronto Raptors, Toronto Maple Leafs and Toronto Blue Jays.

You can contact me using any of the methods below. Thanks for reading.

John Canton

Email: mrjohncanton@gmail.com

Twitter: @johnreport

Personal Facebook and TJRWrestling on Facebook

 

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