We've seen a lot of weird things happen over the past few years at the RAW after WrestleMania. Monday night, something happened that we've never really seen before: What happened at WrestleMania didn't matter.
RAW featured many of the things that we've seen from past RAWs in the WrestleMania season. We saw debuts of NXT wrestlers, and we saw returns of previous wrestlers. We, of course, had the requisite rowdy fans. When they weren't making a mockery of things by chanting for hotels and beach balls, they did make the show more interesting, giving great reactions to the NXT callups and returns, and raising the bar on the good matches. The overarching theme, though, was an odd one, and it was countering many things that happened at WrestleMania.
The first thing that fans were greeted by when RAW started was Vince McMahon coming out, gloating over the success of WrestleMania, and happy about the fact that he didn't have to relinquish control to Shane. At the end of the segment, Shane came out, not to do much, but just to thank the fans, and say goodbye. However, Vince wouldn't let him leave just like that, and instead bent to the fans' will and let him run RAW for a night, despite Shane losing that exact stipulation the night before. I doubt this is a one-night thing, so it begs the question why bother with the stipulation if it wasn't going to matter?
Moving on though, the big move Shane made during the night was to set up a No. 1 contender match between two of the feuding pairs in WWE, AJ Styles, Chris Jericho, Kevin Owens, and Sami Zayn. Zayn wouldn't make it to the match, as Owens attacked him, and he ended up being replaced by the return of Cesaro, who was greeted with a deafening ovation. Surprisingly, it was AJ Styles who ended up winning the match which, again, was met with massive approval from the crowd. The sight of Styles, both during and after the broadcast, completely overwhelmed by the adulation he was receiving was a highlight of the weekend. However, it again begs the question ... why have Styles lose the night before at WrestleMania? Styles winning this basically made Jericho's win meaningless in the grand scheme.
Throw in the fact that the New Day knocked off the League of Nations in a title match, and Zack Ryder lost the IC title to Miz -- with help of a returning Maryse, yes, the power couple is back in WWE! -- it seemed like WWE either decided to reverse course on their thoughts going in to WrestleMania, or they just decided from the beginning that the finishes to WrestleMania really weren't going to matter going forward. Call me old-fashioned, but while that's acceptable for some other shows, WrestleMania is the biggest show of the year, and we should never say that a match and a result doesn't matter. WrestleMania is about the spectacle, yes, but it also at least used to be about finishing storylines, and being the end of the wrestling year. If it's just treated as any other pay-per-view as far as storylines and matches go, that is not a good way to go about business.
We'll see what happens in the upcoming weeks. With no Dean Ambrose, Brock Lesnar, or Triple H, we haven't seen all of the fallout yet from Mania. So hopefully, we'll find out soon that WrestleMania did matter.
The Rest of RAW:
--As mentioned above, there were several RAW debuts on Monday night. Baron Corbin, fresh off of winning the Andre the Giant Battle Royal, made his RAW debut against Dolph Ziggler. Curiously, this match ended in a double countout as the two started to brawl through the crowd. It seems like they are going to set Corbin up as a guy who doesn't care about wins or losses, and just wants to hurt people. He cut a solid promo at the beginning of the match explaining who he is, and how he doesn't care about the fans.
Apollo Crews also made his WWE debut. It's clear that people in WWE have been high on him, but this was definitely a bit of a surprise that he's being called up so soon. It makes sense, though. He wasn't doing too much in NXT, so calling him up doesn't affect any storylines, and he was a guy that really wasn't going to get too much better in NXT. He already has a presence to him, he has a good look, and while the promo classes might have helped somewhat, he's certainly passable and can still develop that on the main roster. He ended up beating Tyler Breeze in a squash match.
Finally, Enzo and Cass made their long-awaited debut on RAW. I think Cesaro ended up getting a slightly bigger pop, but these two gave him a run for his money. Enzo was fantastic. Granted, this was a partisan crowd, but if anyone held the odd opinion that these guys won't translate to the main roster is nuts. They cut a great promo on the Dudleys, and it would be a fantastic move to use the Dudleys to put these guys over. Also, speaking of NXT tag teams, a video was shown saying that the Vaudevillains would debut on Smackdown.
--As mentioned above, Miz won the IC title from Zack Ryder. It wasn't so much the win that was newsworthy, though it is odd that Ryder lost so soon, but how it happened. Zack Ryder's dad was sitting in the front row, and at one point got involved in the match when Miz got in his face. In response, Miz's wife and former WWE diva Maryse came out of the crowd and slapped Mr. Ryder. That was enough of a distraction for Miz to take advantage and win the match. Already Maryse has been shown behind Miz for future matches, so it does seem like she's back for good. When these two paired for a short time in the past, it was gold, so this could be huge for The Miz, and I'm looking forward to seeing what they can bring to the table together.
--All of the women in WWE came out for Charlotte's women's title coronation. What started off as a promo putting over all the women in WWE, and how hard they worked, turned into an egotistical promo. Eventually, all the women walked out on Charlotte, except for one, Natalya. Natalya grabbed the mic, said that Charlotte needed to learn some humility, and eventually attacked and put Charlotte in a Sharpshooter. I think a lot of people expected more to happen with Sasha and Becky, but this is a good move to ensure that the women's division doesn't just become a three-person division. As this was going on, the fans were chanting for Bayley, though she didn't appear, and it seems like she'll stay down to feud with Asuka for at least a while longer.
--The New Day defended their tag titles against the League of Nations, and successfully retained. After the match, the League blamed Wade Barrett for the loss, and attacked him. This could be it for Barrett, as it was reported that he had asked for his release. After the attack, Sheamus cut a promo about how they were still the best force in the WWE, when the lights went out and the Wyatt Family attacked. Could this be the beginning of a face turn for the Wyatts? It would be a bold decision, but it might be what Bray needs to get him back on track.
Thoughts? Questions? Leave them in the comment section, email me or find me on Twitter: @TheAOster. You can also find my podcast, Jobbing Out, at https://soundcloud.com/jobbingout