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Ranking the moments from RAW and SmackDown

Aaron Oster
Contact ReporterFor The Baltimore Sun

The night after WrestleMania over the years has been known for wild crowds, big debuts and huge moments. This year featured all of these things, across both RAW and SmackDown. We knew RAW would be good, but none were certain about how SmackDown would be handled. WWE didn't disappoint on either show. With everything that happened over the past 48 hours, I ranked the biggest developments that occurred. 

1) Shinsuke Nakamura debuts on SmackDown

Everyone knew that Nakamura would be debuting either on RAW or SmackDown. He had his curtain call on NXT, which meant he was due up imminently. Nobody knew exactly how he'd be used, but very few expected him to interrupt The Miz on SmackDown. He had a special entrance, complete with violin entrance, and he didn't even have to say a word to completely enthrall the crowd. While Miz quickly exited the segment, there is no better person to put Nakamura against to make sure he gets over than The Miz if they're going that route. Nakamura was the most anticipated debut at least since AJ Styles (yes, even more than Finn Balor last summer), so it's hard to argue with this being the most important moment of the week. Throw in the strong execution, and it felt special.

2) Finn Balor returns on RAW

People have been waiting for Balor to return for weeks now, especially once he started to appear at house shows. So when Jericho was attacked backstage, there was only one logical person to replace him for Rollins. That didn't diminish the pop he received when he came out, and allowing him to get the pin was big. Plus, immediately putting him back with Rollins, Owens and Joe immediately puts him at the top of the card. The biggest moment for me though? Watching his face as he soaked in the crowd's adulation after the match. It was full of emotion, and you could tell how much he missed being in front of a live RAW crowd. 

3) Kurt Angle named RAW GM

Did people expect this? Of course they did, especially after Mick Foley was “fired” from RAW. However, that didn't make it any less special to hear his music on RAW once again and to have an entire arena shout “You suck” as Angle made his way down the ramp. Plus, it doesn't seem like he has lost a beat as the straight man in a comedy routine. In segments with Enzo and Cass, plus Sami Zayn and Jinder Mahal, his personality shined. In a bubble, this might not have been the biggest, but of everything that happened, this is one of the most refreshing.

4) Tye Dillinger debuts on SmackDown

You could make a case that this deserves a higher spot, based simply on the journey that it took for Tye Dillinger to get to this point. Yes, it was cool in a bubble to see Tye Dillinger answer Curt Hawkins' open challenge, and hear the 10 chants ring through Orlando. However, knowing his path made it even more special. For those who are unaware, Tye Dillinger originally signed with WWE's developmental system at the beginning of 2006. He did eventually make it to WWE television on ECW briefly in 2008, but it was a small role there before being released in 2009. He re-signed with the company in 2013, and it took until now for him to make the main roster. Seven years over two stints in developmental, as much time as anyone has spent in that system, and he now gets his main roster chance. He could be a star, but we'll see what happens.

5) The Revival debuts on RAW

The first surprise debut of the night went to The Revival, and quite frankly, this was the best work of the two days. The pop that The Revival received made them seem important. They were even getting cheers over the uber-popular New Day. And then they got the win, establishing their credibility. But it was the post-match attack of Kofi Kingston that really made it great. The fans who had been cheering them all night had no choice but to start booing, fully establishing that the “Top Guys” are in fact heels going forward. Perfectly executed match that will make the RAW tag scene must-watch.

Honorable mentions: Hardys defend the tag titles on RAW, Emma returns on RAW, Erick Rowan returns on SmackDown 

Questions? Thoughts? Leave them in the comment section here, email me, or find me on Twitter: @TheAOster. You can also hear my podcast, Jobbing Out, at

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