It's that time of year: WWE Superstar Shakeup!
With Raw and Smackdown in dire need of some fresh faces, would we get any shocks?
Monday Night Raw would hold the first night of the Superstar Shakeup with superstars strictly coming over from SmackDown Live.
Would AJ Styles make a move? Could the Red Brand nab Daniel Bryan?
It's fair to say the first addition of the show caught plenty of fans off-guard.
Raw's first addition
Kurt Angle kicks off superstar shakeup and we soon learn that United States champion Jinder Mahal was the first addition from SD Live and he claims he is better than the entire Raw roster already. Angle makes an open challenge to the Red Brand's lockerroom and Jeff Hardy answers to a huge pop. Hardy wins the title and becomes a Grand Slam champion while in Jinder's post-match interview - where he invokes his rematch clause in Saudi Arabia - he is interrupted by No Way Jose.
Score - 8/10
What a hot way to start the show. The WWE Universe will always hold Jeff dear to their heart and it's great to see him with gold again. It's a shame that Jinder could only hold the strap for eight days, but one would assume Jeff is SmackDown bound with the strap. The match itself was one of Jinder's better outings.
Sasha Banks Vs Bayley
An early botch from Bayley didn't hurt this bout too much. A nice back and forth between the pair ensued and that's what we've come to expect from these two longtime friends. Just as the bout was reaching a high intensity, The Riot Squad break things up and leave both ladies lying, announcing their arrival from SmackDown Live.
Score - 6.5/10
The match itself continued the story that these two are growing bitter towards each other by the day, but it obviously held back from going full throttle. The post-match beatdown was the meat and gravy with all of Liv Morgan, Ruby Riot and Sarah Logan hitting their finishers on Bayley and Sasha. Will they have to team up to take them on?
Authors of Pain Vs Heath Slater and Rhyno
With Slater and Rhyno looking for some retribution for the squash match last week, they certainly didn't find it. Rhyno managed a slither of offence in the match but otherwise, it was just a showcase for Akeem and Rezar. In a matter of minutes, they picked up another victory.
Score - 5/10
Sure, we know the AOP are dominant, but we didn't learn too much about their arsenal or who they are here, other than the fact they are clearly physically imposing. Some character development will be needed; what does a win over Slater and Rhyno even mean at this point?
MizTV introduces two new stars
The Miz had announced a big guest ahead of time, what we didn't know was he had two of them. The Hollywood A-lister brought out a jubilant Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn who were all hugs for the Mitourage when they got in the ring. Although they said they had joined Raw, Kurt Angle appeared to dispute that claim. Sami produced an e-mail stating that Stephanie McMahon had overruled him and the duo were officially members of Raw. Kurt then dropped the bombshell that at the request of Daniel Bryan, The Miz would be moving to SD Live and as a farewell gift, he made a 10-man tag for the main event. Miztourage, KO & Sami Vs Seth Rollins, Finn Balor, Braun Strowman, Bobby Lashley and a mystery superstar.
Score - 8/10
It had all the ingredients of a decent segment. KO and Sami arrive on Raw, The Miz will go back to Tuesday nights where his character really reached its apex in the first place and, Kurt revealed the Miztourage were staying on Raw. The e-mail reveal from Zayn was so obnoxiously entertaining and Angle sold it really well too. It seems the Angle/Stephanie story is just getting started.
Woken Matt & Bray Wyatt Vs The Revival
The winner of this match would meet Sheamus and Cesaro in Saudi Arabia for the vacant Raw Tag Team Championships. The match had no spectacular action to speak of, but the character work from Hardy and Wyatt continues to compel and the Revival continue to get lost in the shuffle. Debuting a new tag team finisher that seems to be an elevated Twist of Fate, the Woken Warriors were victorious.
Score - 6.5/10
It wasn't a clinic by any stretch, but the Woken Warriors get another win and showed signs that they are developing as a team in characters and performers. They now seen genuine threats to The Bar with the Saudi Arabian event looming large and WWE creative has done well to achieve that so quickly.
Ember Moon Vs Mickie James
This will go down as a heavily underrated match. Mickie James showed she can still work her butt off in the ring during this affair and she made Moon look brilliant in the process. The former NXT champion was able to show her incredible athleticism on more than one ocassion to wow the fans, but the way that James sold her finisher the 'Eclipse' damn near stole the show. She made it look devastating and Moon picked up the victory.
Score - 8/10
For the time it was given, this match was really, really good. Moreover, Moon is looking like the star everyone had hoped and James made her look a milloion bucks here. Mission accomplished.
Dolph Ziggler returns to Raw
It's fair to say when Dolph Ziggler's music hit, the crowd went mild. After a brief promo about how good he is (of course), Titus Worldwide came out and tried to recruit him. However, Dolph would reveal that he had not returned to Monday nights alone and a re-debuting Drew McIntrye helped him destroy Titus O'Neill and Apollo. The duo also pulled out a new combined finisher of both of their finishing moves as one - it looks great.
Score - 8.5/10
The crowd was really hot for McIntyre's return to WWE television and rightly so. He made an emphatic impact and Ziggler sold the entire segment really well. This gives Ziggler some purpose that he has been sorely missing and former NXT champion McIntyre has a story to sink his teeth into straight away - perfect.
Roman Reigns talks Brock Lesnar
After making his way to the ring showered in boos, Reigns talks about showing up yet again, but where is Brock? His promo doesn't last long before Samoa Joe interrupts and berates Reigns on how Lesnar always beats him, even showing him a video to back up his claims. The Big Dog then invites his "lazy, fat ass" to the ring, but Joe says he will wait for Backlash.
Score - 5.5/10
Honestly, the only thing that saved this from having a lower score was how great Samoa Joe's promo was. As the snarling, intense heel, the former TNA legend is nothing short of brilliant and deserves a world title run in his future. The Reigns rhetoric of him being a day-in, day-outer is clearly not going over well with the fans right now, no matter how much Vince wants it to.
Mandy Rose Vs Natalya
Earlier in the night, Natalya entered Kurt Angle's office while Ronda Rousey was conversing with her WrestleMania partner. It turns out Rousey and Natalya are friends after the Queen of Harts helped train her. Nattie appeared to be a face during the segment and given her debut was against Mandy Rose of Absolution - a heel - it seems as if the WWE are sticking with that with no explanation. After some tidy back and forth action, Nattie clamped on the Sharpshooter to pick up the win, only for Sonya Deville to enter the fray and attack her after the bell. This drew Rousey out from the back to a big pop and while Absolution initially backed off, Deville ended up trying her luck, but to her predictable demise.
Score - 8/10
Rousey continues to look like a certified bad ass and the story between her an Natalya will be an interesting one. Nattie is the perfect dance partner for Rowdy in the early stages of her career and performers don't come much smoother than Natalya. One has to assume the Canadian will turn on Rousey in the near future and that's a story worth waiting around for. As for Absolution, do they really need to still be using Paige's music?
Breezango Vs The Bar
Breezango announced their arrival during a backstage segment with The Bar where they give them fashion tickets. Apparently, such a slight is grounds for a match and later in the night, the two team did battle. After Sheamus and Cesaro dominated for long periods, the newcomers scored the shock rollup victory after Tyler Breeze caught Cesaro.
Score - 5.5/10
It was what it was. We all know that Breezango isn't going to get a noteworthy push, so this was just a fun way to introduce them. The shock result was cool, but The Bar also dropped two matches to Titus Worldwide not so long ago, only to be far superior when it really counted. So what did this loss matter?
Elias refused to perform in front of a small, undeserving crowd like Hartford, Connecticut, so he gave a backstage interview to Renee Young instead, whom he called Rachel ignorantly. Elias sent out a warning to Bobby Lashley and then offered to do a private set for Young, only for the interviewer to shut him down and throw back to Michael Cole on commentary.
Score - 6.5/10
We didn't get to see the best of Elias in such a short space of time, but there was still some excellent character work from the popular star. The fans are clearly digging him and while there was nothing for him on this particular show, he has a bright future.
10-man tag team main event
Bobby Roode emerged as the surprise tag partner and last addition from SD Live for the night. He teamed up with Seth Rollins, Braun Strowman, Bobby Lashley and Finn Balor, after some early joy for the babyfaces, it was the latter who then took the brunt of the beating from the heels. Balor gave Lashley one of the hottest tags you're likely to see and then the match broke down. Eventually, Strowman gets into the match and demolishes the competition and the Miztourage turn on The Miz when he's looking for a tag, leaving Strowman to pick up the win.
Score - 9/10
The match was filled with decent spots and kept up a decent pace throughout. It was also able to shine adequate spotlight on the stars that needed it with both Lashley and Strowman looking particularly impressive. Roode's debut was a nice surprise and gives Raw a very lop-sided top of the card with about seven babyfaces clogging the picture until tomorrow night and the Miztourage's betrayal of Miz was also executed very well.
List of new Raw Superstars:
- Bobby Roode
- The Riott Squad
- Dolph Ziggler
- Drew McIntyre
- Baron Corbin
- Jinder Mahal
- The Ascension
- Chad Gable
- Mojo Rawley
- Zack Ryder
- Mike Kanellis
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