Chris Novak: Raw’s supposed to start with Roman Reigns. This has been something that’s been heavily discussed for whatever reason this week. But, whatever. Long as this works out and has a point, it’s okay. And since one of the people he’s been feuding with (read: Shane McMahon) bounces around the shows, then I don’t see why Roman can’t.
Anyways, that’s Vince McMahon’s music. So, Mr. McMahon’s starting the show actually. I would wager this, certainly, has a lot to do with the aforementioned paragraph. Vince says it’ll be a night to remember, because he’s here. Before he can go any further, Roman Reigns comes down to the ring. Last time they shared a ring, of course, Reigns caught him with the Superman Punch.
Robert O’Neill: Vince says he better not think of trying it again, and also he’s on Smackdown so why is he on Raw right now? Roman tells him to check his tone, because he wants to leave Raw better than he found it. Vince and his kids said the fans are the authority now, but that was a lie! Vince goes to respond but DANIEL BRYAN’S MUSIC HITS!
Chris Novak: Well… if you wanted my attention, boy, you got it. Bryan says he’s spent the last month in solitude, and now hoped to have an intellectual conversation. Before he can continue, Kofi Kingston makes his way out here.
Robert O’Neill: After Bryan and Kofi goes back and forth, Vince has an epiphany! He’s instating a “wildcard rule” where three Raw superstars can be on Smackdown and three Smackdown superstars can be on Raw. Neat.
Chris Novak: Don’t hate it as a concept going forward. We’ll see how they utilize it. Don’t really have a strong opinion either way. AJ Styles comes out, and he asks him, basically, what the hell he’s doing. Seth Rollins is now on his way out, so we’re still working here on our opening promo. We learn soon enough that Styles and Rollins are teaming up to face a tag team after the break. Who will it be? I suppose we’ll find out.
Robert O’Neill: Bob Lashley and Baron Corbin! Well, that should have been expected. It’s also fine, the story is between Rollins and Styles here. The two get along for most of the long match, but Styles catches Rollins with an inadvertent Phenomenal Forearm after Corbin ducked, and then Styles left instead of helping Rollins, as he got hit with an End of Days. That told the necessary story.
Miz has pulled up a chair right outside Shane McMahon’s dressing room, as he awaits Shane’s arrival.
Sami Zayn is here! He goes on about how the crowd is dumb and bad (correct) and then he gets interrupted by Braun Strowman, who isn’t pleased with him and decides to chase him around the ring and into the back, where he threw Sami into a dumpster which then got put into a garbage truck.
Ricochet is facing Robert Roode, and Ricochet’s Money in the Bank spot is on the line. Stakes!
They showed a recap of last week’s events between Rey Mysterio and Samoa Joe. Announced was a United States Championship Match between the two of them. Once again, not a surprising development. Mysterio and Dominick were shown backstage, and Mysterio went into his locker room while Dominick walked away. Ominously… Samoa Joe was seen walking behind him. Probably not great news for Dom, if any horror movie ever made suggests.
Joe then is seen with him. I enjoyed the air quotes around “Uncle Eddie.” I almost wish he referenced that storyline. Joe runs him down and says that he needs to send his father a message, and that’s that he will enjoy what he’s going to do at Money in the Bank.
Up next is Lacey Evans, who’s competing in a match. Her opponent is a local talent, and she wanted the entire locker room to come down to ringside. Lord knows why.
Robert O’Neill: Lacey beats a jobber and then calls up Becky Lynch, who comes out swinging! Lacey leaves before Becky can lock in the Dis-Arm-Her.
Chris Novak: I didn’t mind this segment at all. For one, the use of a squash to put Lacey over as a legitimate threat is a good one. Secondly, having her warn and threaten the MITB competitors not to pull a fast one on her was also totally fine with me too. In fact, I think it was an effective way of getting everything in the mix. I know there are people that are going to want more out of the division, but… what more can you get out of this division right now? They did Alexa vs. Naomi last week. Any throw together tag match would’ve gotten the same usual complaints that we get.
Robert O’Neill: The Viking Raiders also beat some jobbers. Oh, wait, those were Raw Tag Team Champions Zack Ryder and Curt Hawkins. Enough already. You have more than enough good tag teams to get the belt off the comedy act.
Chris Novak: Friend, you need to really calm down. There’s going to be an end to these means. It’s fine. The match was also fine, but obviously dominated by the Raiders, who’ve looked good from the jump. Now that they pinned the champs, I’d expect to see them face off at MITB. Which, hey, I’m okay with it.
Robert O’Neill: This week on Firefly Funhouse, Mercy the Buzzard has something in his box but he’s hiding it from Bray. OH MY GOD HE ATE RAMBLIN’ RABBIT. Bray says it’s okay though. You can be forgiven no matter what happens. In fact, Mercy should be rewarded.
Chris Novak: RIP Ramblin’ Rabbit. Why is this stuff so ridiculous and brilliant each week? I continue to be a huge fan of it all.
Robert O’Neill: Roman Reigns and Drew McIntyre are up next in a Wrestlemania rematch. This should be pretty good. I enjoyed their match at Mania quite a bit, aside from the stupid crowd.
Chris Novak: Turns out… it was pretty good! May have been Roman’s best outing since he came back, may have been one of Drew’s best outings in a long time. Really enjoyed this match, well, up until the non-finish at the end (even if it did make sense). Shane McMahon and Elias came down to beat down Reigns. Miz then came by the chase and fend them off. Shane went running, and Miz caught up with him and beat him up with a chair.
All around, very effective stuff here. Hope we get a Miz-Roman tag team match out of this against Shane and Elias. Or something of that ilk.
Robert O’Neill: I think they could be approaching a feud better between two very good teams but once they finally get in the ring it’ll be fine.
Kofi Kingston puts his WWE Championship on the line against Daniel Bryan next. The match was really good. What a surprise, right? There was a pretty tremendous end sequence here, where eventually, Kofi caught him with Trouble in Paradise to retain. This wasn’t quite as great of a match as they had at WrestleMania but, for a lot of reasons, it was never going to eclipse that anyway. Still a very, VERY good match.
Robert O’Neill: That was a really good TV match. Nice to see Bryan back in action.
Chris Novak: Weird show, just from a format perspective. Have no idea what to make of this Wildcard stuff but if they don’t go OD with it, it’ll probably be just okay. But aside from that and some of the weird stuff in the 3rd hour, the work rate here was great and both WrestleMania rematches kicked ass. I’ll give this show a B-.
Robert O’Neill: I enjoyed more than I didn'’t enjoy, and that’s good enough for me. They still struggle to fill three hours, but having more hits than misses is good. Wildcard, bitches. B
Chris Novak: Alright, so we’re continuing on this Wildcard Rule stuff, and AJ Styles is back on Smackdown Live for the moment. I’ll try not to get too frustrated about this or anything. I just hope this doesn’t get too out of hand going forward, is really all that I ask. The good thing, I suppose, is that he’s over like rover. Styles talks for a moment until Sami Zayn arrives. So, Sami’s alive after being thrown in a dumpster last night. Good to know.
Zayn and Styles (which also could double as a reference to The X Factor) banter for a bit, until Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods arrive. Kingston wonders what Styles is doing here, and they get a bit contentious. Woods quotes Ice Cube, telling Styles to check himself before he wrecks himself. Kingston ponders what Styles is going to do about it before Sami intervenes. Sami suggests that Kofi not do this because the people aren’t happy for him. He’s caught in a web and also, that he deserves a WWE Championship opportunity instead of AJ.
Kofi and Xavier roast him for how he smells like garbage. And also, Kofi adds that he considers himself a fighting champion and that he’ll defend the title against EITHER Styles or Zayn. He says it doesn’t matter which it is, because he’ll remain as WWE Champion.
Robert O’Neill: That was an awesome opening segment. I like the wild card rule so far. I’m just wondering how they’re gonna keep it fresh every week, but for now it’s good.
Chris Novak: We’ll get ourselves a Triple Threat Match later out of this segment, so that will be a good deal of fun.
Ali-Andrade was a fun but short match, interrupted by Randy Orton. Orton ate some kicks from them both but then hit Ali with a pop-up RKO. Andrade then leapt at him but Orton dropped HIM with an RKO too. So, decent segment here, although I certainly wish we could’ve gotten more time out of Ali-Andrade.
Robert O’Neill: I would be interested in an Ali-Orton feud if Andrade wins the briefcase like I think he’s going to. I think they would work very well together. I liked this match but was fine with how it ended.
Shane McMahon is here to announce the new tag team champions, but first he has to talk about how he’s not a fan of what The Miz has been up to lately. He’s going to emerge from the steal cage at Money in the Bank in victory yet again.
And now it’s time to announce the new tag team champions. It’s… Daniel Bryan and Rowan! But before Bryan and Rowan can accept, The Usos come out! They said instead of Shane just handing the titles to Bryan and Rowan, they should have a match for them, to which Shane agrees.
Chris Novak: Oh, I am all the way here for this one, baby.
Robert O’Neill: The match is, unsurprisingly, absolutely awesome. The Usos are probably the best tag team in WWE history and Daniel Bryan is the best wrestler on the planet, so it all comes together and is beautiful here. Even Rowan was very good! He got the pin with the Iron Claw to get Bryan and Rowan the tag titles.
Chris Novak: God, that match kicked so much ass. One of the better tags of the entire year so far. Rowan looked great! For once!
Robert O’Neill: Shane McMahon has news about the Money In The Bank ladder matches. Before he can get to the point, Miz comes out and attacks him! But the B-Team come out to save Shane, and while Miz is fighting them off, Shane hits Miz with a chair from behind.
Chris Novak: Well… sure. I mean, sure. I don’t know what exactly he was going to announce, but I suppose that’s not the point here. Miz getting beaten down before his ultimate comeuppance works fine with me, as that’s probably going to be the plan.
Robert O’Neill: Mandy and Sonya face off with Ember Moon and Carmella next. This match was… alright. Mandy and Sonya won as Bayley was supposed to be in the match but was removed without explanation.. Perhaps there’s something more to that. Perhaps not. Who knows.
Chris Novak: Mandy gets a big win. Still wondering what happened with Bayley and Charlotte, but that’ll be a mystery I suppose. Paige came out after and said next week, Mandy and Sonya will face Asuka and Kairi. Okay, cool!
Another Aleister Black vignette aired. I’m still wondering where this is headed, but this has all worked well for me so far.
So, the WWE Championship Triple Threat Match proceeded onwards, and it was a doozy. Kingston retained after pinning Sami Zayn after Trouble in Paradise. Kevin Owens got involved, and for a little while, it was between he and Sami after Styles was out of commission for a bit. The match was fire and was, in my view, the best match all week. A good end to this show.
Chris Novak: I’ll save more of my comments on this whole Wildcard deal on the podcast this week. But we got some great matches out of this thing. That being said, it’s not without its faults. It didn’t disrupt SmackDown Live too much, but I definitely felt like this show needed some more zip. I’ll give it a B and keep it moving.
Robert O’Neill: Bayley and Charlotte disappearing was weird, but I liked more than I disliked, particularly the main event match. B+