It’s time for the first night of the WWE Superstar Shake-up which is taking place on Raw. So, since they’re not calling it a draft does that mean we could always have an actual draft later on in 2017? Regardless we should enjoy tonight for what it is: a chance for WWE creative to have a fresh start with some new stories.
Apollo Crews has already been chosen to jump to the red team. Let’s just hope more superstars make a move tonight that could use a career shake-up much in the same way Apollo Crews desperately needed one.
John Cena’s music hit and that was quite a surprise. But of course, it wasn’t John Cena and Nikki Bella — it was Miz and Maryse doing the best impressions of a WWE superstar since DX impersonated The Nation Of Domination.
Michael Cole said Miz and Maryse are now a part of Monday Night Raw. That is certainly news. Miz got the crowd to chant “Cena sucks,” because he cares. “Nikki” had a huge costume ring on her finger and it was hilarious. It’s great that even though Miz is playing John Cena, his microphone case is still turned upside down like Miz does.
Suddenly Dean Ambrose’s music hit and The Lunatic Fringe came out with the IC Title in tow. Michael Cole said Ambrose is now on Raw too. So, does that mean Kevin Owens is SmackDown bound?
Dean hugged Miz and Maryse and congratulated them on their “engagement.” Dean kept talking to Miz and Maryse like he didn’t realize they weren’t John Cena and Nikki Bella. It was very funny. He told him not to do anything stupid like make “The Marine 5.”
Miz and Maryse took off their disguises to let Dean know they weren’t really John and Nikki. Dean Ambrose said, “ahh, well in that case…” then Dean Ambrose laid out Miz with Dirty Deeds and the “It Couple” went running.
So, it looks like Dean Ambrose is on Raw now. Unless Renee Young gets moved to the red brand too, that’s not going to make them very happy.
Kurt Angle is backstage and Sami Zayn joins him to keep up great relationship with a Raw General Manager. Kurt Angle told Sami there is “a lot of interest” from SmackDown for Zayn and The Underdog From The Underground sounded very intrigued. Miz and Maryse joined them and butted into their conversation. They started a verbal confrontation and Kurt Angle set up a match between Miz and Sami Zayn for later on in the night.
New Day vs. The Revival
Xavier Woods and Big E came out with their ice cream cart. Big E was carrying a blow-up doll with dreadlocks. So, Kofi is being replaced by a blow-up doll? That’s neat.
Big E announced the mannequin isn’t Kofi Kingston and Xavier said Kofi’s spirit will live on in the blow-up doll. Okay. That’s PG.
Xavier told The Revival to come get some because they broke their ice cream cart, snapped Kofi’s ankle, and stole Fizzy Lifting Drinks. The Revival came out wearing shirts that said “We Broke Kofi’s Ankle” and a memorial for the New Day Pops cart. That was funny.
Big E and Woods took it to Dash Wilder pretty quickly to send a message to the newest additions to the Raw roster. The Revival soon got an upper hand by using some sneaky heel tactics and double teamed Xavier.
Xavier woods took a beating from Scott Dawson, but kicked out after a suplex. Dash Wilder got the tag but tagged Dawson back in as Woods tried to sunset flip him into a pin. These guys are so smart and show such amazing tag team technique. They really are a great throwback.
Big E soon got the tag and started cleaning house with belly-to-belly suplexes all around. Big E hit Wilder with a splash and threw Dawson out of the ring. Big E later broke through a double clothesline attempt from The Revival.
Xavier hit a massive elbow drop from across the ring. That was impressive. Dawson kicked out at two. Wilder got the blind tag and hit they hit Woods with an awesome looking Shatter Machine as Xavier jumped off the top rope. Xavier woods landed really awkwardly too. That looked painful. 1-2-3, and The Revival are still undefeated on the main roster.
Neville is standing backstage with his Cruiserweight Championship. He said he’s already proven Austin Aries isn’t on the Neville Level. As Neville started to talk smack about the rest of the cruiserweight roster, TJ Perkins came up and said Neville should be careful of what he says because someone’s going to make him eat those words. Neville said TJP’s career is a joke now and he’s been overlooked since 205 Live started. Perkins started to look like he was listening to what Neville was saying.
Austin Aries came up and pointed a banana at Neville while he joined the conversation. Aries said he might have his sunglasses on inside at night, but even he can see Neville is lying through his teeth.
Austin Aries asked TJ Perkins if he was buying what Neville was trying to sell. TJP just looked at him and walked away.
Superstar Shake-Up Continues
Curt Hawkins was in the ring and said he’s back on Monday Night Raw. He said him coming to Raw was the biggest get since the Louisiana Purchase, what a timely reference. He said “where’s the welcoming committee? We should be lighting tiki torches.” WELLLLL IT’S THE BIG SHOW… Big Show just walked up to him, KO Punched Hawkins and left him laying in the ring. Well, that was quick. Michael Cole made some quip about how Big Show might be moving to SmackDown but nothing official was said.
On that note, nothing really official was said about this the whole night. There are no podiums or anything that seems like an actual official decision was being made like in previous drafts. Well, that’s what a shake-up is for I guess. People just go out there and say, “I’m on Raw now!”
Austin Aries vs. TJ Perkins
A Double came out looking like he was ready for a fight. TJP came out, dabbed, and threw his t-shirt to the crowd — so he’s still babyface for now. This was a match between two babyfaces. Perkins offered a handshake, and Aries shook his finger. That was neat.
These two wrestled around exchanging some quick offense in the beginning of this match. Neville was on commentary the whole time eyeing the match and speaking under his breath like a Disney villain.
Austin Aries turned the match to his favor by doing a cartwheel and lounging on the top rope and doing a dab of his own. He followed it up with an elbow in the corner and then a flying elbow off the top rope to the back of TJP’s neck.
Perkins hit Aries with a stiff looking upper forearm and baited Aries to the outside of the ring. Austin countered Perkins’ pendulum drop kick with an ear clap and followed it up with a top rope dive onto TJP on the floor.
Neville got up and confronted Austin Aries on the outside. Aries made it back to the ring just in time but he was distracted by Neville. Perkins got A Double with a quick roll-up pin and the referee counted to three for the upset win.
After the match, Austin Aries was inviting Neville into the ring. Perkins assaulted Austin Aries from behind, hit him with a Detonation Kick, and turned full heel. Neville just stood on the ramp and started laughing while the crowd chanted, “you still suck.”
Seth Rollins was walking backstage and they showed him talking to Enzo and Big Cass. He showed off his new knee brace and they looked very chummy. The Architect’s segment was next.
Seth Rollins Segment
Rollins’ music hit as Michael Cole said we were about to find out “the fate of The Architect.” Sounded ominous. Rollins got a great babyface pop and he looked like he was feeling pretty good.
He started his promo out by saying it felt good to be in the ring talking to the crowd again and they ate it up. He’s really coming off as a great face at this point and it feels good to see WWE has finally let people cheer for him like they’ve always wanted to. He said he left it all in the ring at WrestleMania 33. He said he did it — no, “we did it. We slayed the King of Kings,” great babyface line. He thanked the crowd for giving him a second chance. He said they are just getting started on Monday Night Raw and immediately name dropped Samoa Joe’s name as someone he wanted to get ahold of.
He said he wanted to get his hands on the Universal Title too. Then he said he may not be able to get those kinds of opportunities because he helped put Stephanie through a table at Mania. They showed the replay and it was just as awesome as we remembered it. “Thank you Seth” chants broke out as Seth said he probably won’t be named the employee of the month.
Seth said once Steph comes back his face will remind her of her failure. He said realistically it would be easier to pack his bags and go to SmackDown Live. “No” chants broke out. Seth then said he took the easy way out before and he won’t do it again.
He said if Stephanie wanted to take him to SD Live then she better send an army to drag him out of the building because he’s not leaving without a fight. Then Kurt Angle’s music hit. It’s still so cool to see Kurt Angle as Raw General Manager. Not only does he look great in a suit, but we mark out every time we see him.
Kurt said it’s true that Steph wants Rollins gone, but he saw something in Rollins. Angle said he won the Olympics with a broken freaking neck, but Rollins is a one-legged man who won an ass kicking contest. Angle said Raw has Seth Freaking Rollins — “it’s true, it’s damn true.” The two shook hands and it was a really nice feel good moment.
But of course, feel good moments can never last in WWE. Samoa Joe jumped Rollins from behind after Kurt left. Angle came back to the ring and put himself in between Joe and Seth. The Destroyer, Samoa Joe just left instead as Seth Rollins’ music played.
Kevin Owens was interviewed about how the Superstar Shake-up is going to affect him. Owens said they can shake things up all they want but the cream always rises to the top. Kevin said that the interviewer should go find Chris Jericho and ask him about the shake-up, but she can’t because Y2J is still at home recuperating from the table spot last week.
Kevin said Dean Ambrose can run around with the IC Title all he wants as long as he remembers that Kevin Owens is the man on Raw. If Dean forgets that fact, Owens said he’ll just beat the hell out of him. Because Raw is still the Kevin Owens Show.
Charlotte Flair vs. Nia Jax
Charlotte tried all she could to take Nia down in the early moments, but Nia just threw her down like a ragdoll time and time again. They’re really booking Jax to be a monster, and that’s a good thing. Charlotte hit Jax with a neckbreaker, but Nia didn’t go down.
Jax his Char Char with a shoulder breaker and an elbow to the back, but Charlotte kicked out at two. Jax locked in a “modified Cobra Clutch” on Flair and held it for a minute. Charlotte tried to get out of the hold but Jax kept the hold on. Charlotte jacked Nia’s jaw to break up the move but soon found herself at Nia’s mercy once again.
Then Charlotte started to chop at Jax. She landed a few of them as “woos” broke out in the crowd, but it didn’t do much damage. Charlotte tried to roll Nia up for a pin but Jax yelled, “not today Charlotte!”
Flair hit Jax with a chop block and a Natural Selection, but Nia kicked out at two. Charlotte then drove Nia into the ring post two times and Nia went out of the ring. Charlotte climbed up the top rope and hit Jax with a beautiful moonsault to the floor.
Nia got back in the ring before the 10-count, but just as Charlotte was about to get her in the Figure-8, Jax grabbed her by the hair and threw her into the turnbuckle. Nia went charging in the corner and hit Charlotte with a splash and a Samoan Drop. 1-2-3, and Nia Jax beat Charlotte Flair CLEAN. She’s certainly not like most girls.
Finn Balor vs. Jinder Mahal
This one would be a huge surprise if Jinder Mahal came out with the win here. Jinder tried very hard to snuff Balor out, but Finn returned his efforts with a dropkick to the face.
Mahal tried to use his size against Finn and stomped away at Balor. He choked him with his boot, but couldn’t get a pinfall. Jinder hit Finn with a STIFF forearm to the temple but it didn’t slow him down. Finn hit Jinder with a sling blade, a corner dropkick, and a Coup de Grace. 1-2-3, and Finn Balor picked up a win. He had some marks on his face from the stiff shots he took from Jinder, but he didn’t look any worse for wear.
Suddenly BRAY WYATT popped on the screen and said: “RAW IS MY NEW HOME NOW!” Bray said he brought the gift of Payback. He said he’ll still be torturing Randy Orton in his House Of Horrors match. Wyatt said Finn better watch himself because he will be watching him. “Monday Night Raw… I’m here *blows out lantern*” EPIC.
But the fact that he’s still going to be facing Orton in the House Of Horrors match but Wyatt is now on a different show, kind of gives away the ending.
Still, that was an excellent get. This Superstar Shake-up is going way deeper than expected. It makes us wonder who will be popping over to SmackDown if so many huge names are moving over to Raw.
Before the next segment they played a recap of the opening segment of the show and it just hit us that unless they move people around, then all three members of The Shield are on the same brand and they’re all babyface (unless you count Roman Reigns who is only a face in certain markets).
They also announce that Apollo Crews, Kalisto, Heath Slater, and Rhyno are moving to Raw.
The Miz vs. Sami Zayn
There were some mild “Ole” chants to start this match out. Wish those were as loud as they used to be. Miz got the early advantage with some underhanded tactics, but Sami quickly turned it back around with three armdrags in a row.
Miz rolled outside and Sami started to go flying, but Maryse stood in front of her bae to save him from taking an aerial attack. Imagine that, Miz figuring out a way to not catch someone.
Miz took control of Sami Zayn with a rear chin lock. Sami tried to break it up with a suplex but Miz landed on his feet. The A-Lister propped Zayn on the top rope and climbed up to try a superplex. Miz gave a mocking “Ole” chant to get the crowd going for Zayn.
Sami knocked Miz down but couldn’t land a top rope move. Miz hit Zayn with a DDT for a close two-count. Miz then started doing his Daniel Bryan kicks. Looks like he’s going to keep doing his D-Bry stuff. Corey Graves said he can’t remember the last time he saw Daniel Bryan do those kicks so those are the Miz’s kicks from now on. Wow.
Zayn hit a Blue Thunder Bomb for a two-count. He tried to hit a Helluva kick, but Maryse pulled her hubby out of the ring. Zayn chased Miz around the ring, and once they got back Sami caught Miz with a roll-up pin out of a Skull Crushing Finale reversal for the quick win.
Roman Reigns Interview
They’re keeping Roman out of the ring so he can get a word in edge-wise. Reigns said defeating The Undertaker was the biggest victory of his career, but it was bittersweet. He said, “how do you prepare to retire a legend?” He said he’s the Big Dog and this is his yard now.
Just as Cole was saying that’s a heck of a motto, Braun Strowman came in and wasted him. He threw Roman through a table and continued his beat down on The Big Dog as some backstage staff tried unsuccessfully to separate them.
So, it looks like they’re going for the whole, “if you show him getting his ass kicked, people will feel sympathy for him” tactic to keep Roman a babyface. They put a neck brace on Roman and lifted him up on a stretcher as the crowd chanted “you deserve it.”
Strowman came in and then rolled Roman off a ledge while strapped to a stretcher while you could hear the crowd pop something fierce. Roman was on the floor and looked hurt AF. He wasn’t moving and the backstage crew was doing a good job to make it seem like a shoot emergency.
Of course, Roman didn’t really take the bump off the ledge in the parking garage. They used quick cuts, going to replays, and some static interference to make it look like he really took the fall.
As they were loading Roman up in the ambulance, Braun screamed “I’m not finished with you!” and the crowd popped huge again. He pounded on Roman a few times and jumped out. Braun Strowman then TURNED THE AMBULANCE ON IT’S SIDE.
The EMTs take Roman out of the overturned ambulance and put him in one that’s on its wheels. The close the doors and speed off before The Monster Among Men can come back and flip that one over too.
The Club and The Shining Stars vs. Sheamus and Cesaro and The Hardy Boyz
When The Hardys came out some people in the crowd were bowing, others were doing the “delete” gesture, but it was by far the loudest pop of the night. This is a very odd match-up because the #1 contenders for the Raw Tag Team Championships are teaming with their future opponents.
As The Hardys enjoyed their welcome, The Drifter Elias Samson wandered down the ramp with his guitar over his shoulder.
Matt and Jeff took over early on with some tandem offense. Cesaro got the tag as Karl Anderson came in. Sheamus tagged in and they started to hit Anderson with some double team moves. This match felt really rushed.
Cesaro hit Karl Anderson with an amazing springboard cross-body block for a two count. As the match continued, Primo hit Cesaro with a backstabber and left everyone down in the ring.
Matt got the tag to a resounding “delete” chant. He hit Epico with a running bulldog and snapped a Side Effect on Primo. Jeff hit a Twist Of Fate and then Jeff Hardy nailed a Poetry In Motion on everyone standing on the outside. The Hardy Boyz hit a Twist Of Fate and a Swanton off the top rope. 1-2-3 and The Hardy Boyz were celebrating. They shook hands with Sheamus and Cesaro in the ring before their segment concluded. That was a nice sign of sportsmanship.
But Elias Samson came out and just kind of well… drifted around without doing anything. That was a very weak debut if we do say so ourselves.
Sasha Banks and Bayley Segment
The Boss got on the microphone and said she’s got some unfinished business. But first she introduced “Just Bayley…” this might be taking a bad turn for Bayley.
The Hugger Of Huggers came out and her and Sasha hugged. Sasha had a smile on her face, but you could tell she was trying to contain it. Bayley thanked Banks for the introduction and thanked the audience for sticking by her. Banks just stood back and looked at Bayley with a grin on her face.
Sasha said WrestleMania didn’t go as she planned. But that moment is over. But just as Sasha was about to ask for a title match ALEXA BLISS’ music hit and The Five Feet Of Fury came out so Sasha was no longer the shortest person in the ring.
Bliss said Bayley and Banks were nauseating and started to cut an amazing promo. She said the Sasha/Bayley sideshow is kinda weird and she’s finally arrived at Raw.
Then Mickie James’ music hit and said she’s arrived on Raw too. James touted the fact she’s the only 6-time Women’s Champion. She said Bliss’ nightmare has just begun.
Then Nia Jax destroyed Mickie James. Nia ran to the ring as Bliss headed for the hills and Nia launched Sasha out of the ring and planted Bayley, held up the Raw Women’s Title and proclaimed “this championship is mine.” Nia looked down at Alexa Bliss for a moment as she headed up the ramp but decided she would let her live for tonight.
Dean Ambrose vs. Kevin Owens
Before the match, Michael Cole said Roman Reigns has suffered cracked ribs, internal injuries, and a possible separated shoulder due to his Braun Strowman beatdown earlier in the night. Well, at least his separated shoulder is only a possible one.
Kevin Owens received came out as The Champion Of America and he looked great with that belt. Dean Ambrose looked unhinged and ready to do battle on his first night on the red team.
Kevin Owens started off the match by hitting Dean with some shots in the corner, but Dean quickly returned the favor. Owens rolled out of the ring and Ambrose followed him. They bounced each other off of the barricade a couple of times and Ambrose launched himself over the top rope to hit Owens on the floor.
Kevin kept Ambrose grounded with a chin lock as Corey Graves tried to get Michael Cole to say “I pledge allegiance to Kevin Owens.” Ambrose fought his way out of the hold, but Owens used Ambrose’s momentum against him to send him flying over the top rope.
Owens scooped Dean up and tossed him ribs first into the ring post. That little bit of business looked like it hurt. Dean eventually found Kevin where he wanted him and launched himself through the ropes with a suicide dive onto KO.
Dean played possum on the corner and caught KO as he was trying to get him with a cannonball. He placed Owens on the top rope and clotheslined him off to the mat. Dean scaled the top rope and Owens rolled out of the ring. It didn’t stop Ambrose though because he just redirected his focus and hit Owens with a standing elbow off the top rope to the floor.
Owens got back in the ring and Ambrose tried for another move from the high rent district. Kevin caught him with a kick to the stomach and a package slam, but Dean kicked out. Dean countered out of a pop-up powerbomb and KO countered his counter. After a little bit of business Dean Ambrose caught Kevin with a Dirty Deeds to secure a clean win.
Suddenly Chris Jericho’s music hit and The Ayatollah of Rock ‘n’ Rolla came out. Jericho hit Kevin with a Codebreaker to really seal the deal for Owens.
So there goes night one of the Superstar Shake-up. If tonight was any indication and the old adage rings true that you go out looking at the lights then Charlotte and Kevin Owens are two of the top prospects making the jump. We wouldn’t be surprised to see The Club move over either. After all that happened tonight, they’ve certainly got some holes to fill on SmackDown Live.