The Big Takeaway: As always, a newsworthy night after WrestleMania. Next week, there will be a SuperStar Shake-Up. Ember Moon, No Way Jose, and the Authors of Pain (teasing dissension with Paul Ellering immediately, so it looks like his run is over) made their main roster debut.
Bobby Lashley returned to the company for the first time since 2007 (when he did an injury angle at the hands of Mr. Kennedy) to lay out Elias. In an emotional moment, Paige formally announced her retirement due to neck injuries. Samoa Joe returned to set up a match at Backlash with Roman Reigns.
For all the mystery that lingered from last night's Reigns-Lesnar match, there wasn't much follow-up tonight. Reigns cut a promo saying he would beat Lesnar at the Greatest Royal Rumble in Saudi Arabia in a cage, only to have Joe really run him down on the subsequent interview with no verbal comeback whatsoever.
The Raw Tag Team Championships were vacated by Braun Strowman because Nicholas is still in grade school. They started a Eliminator Tournament to crown new champions, which will culminate at the Greatest Royal Rumble with either the Revival or Matt Hardy & Bray Wyatt facing the Bar. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn showed up looking for a job on Raw. Kurt Angle claimed that he had only one vacant spot on the Raw roster and the two could wrestle for it. Owens and Zayn went to a double countout in the best match of the night.
Stephanie McMahon came out with her left arm in a sling limping down the ramp. Michael Cole put over Ronda Rousey's debut as possibly the greatest in WrestleMania history. Crowd chanted "You tapped out" at her. Stephanie admitted she expected more from the people. She said she knows the typical crowd on the night after WrestleMania is more of an international flavor, and she smelled the difference on the breaths of the fans on the way to the ring. Stephanie said everyone had to admit they were surprised by her performance and she does deserve their accolades. Stephanie said she knew what she was doing, she would bring out the best in Rousey. She deserves that pat on the back so she thanked the fans. Stephanie said she was proud of Rousey and what she accomplished last night, so she introduced Rousey.
Rousey came out to a big reception wearing a big smile. Stephanie admitted the better woman won last night and Rousey made her tap out. Stephanie said Rousey was spectacular, she was beaten by the best in the world and she doesn't feel bad about that. Stephanie said since Rousey is under contract to her, together they can blaze new trails together. With her in Rousey's corner, together they can spread Rousey's message. Crowd chanted "B.S." Stephanie said Rousey was smarter than all of them and that Rousey taught her a lesson last night and Stephanie paid a message. As the crowd chanted "S.T.F.U" (without the initials), Stephanie abruptly told the crowd to give it up for Rousey. They two hugged, but after they released the embrace, Rousey wiped away her smile and frowned at Stephanie. Rousey put Stephanie in an flying armbar as Stephanie screamed and tapped out quickly. Several referees and EMTs ran down to help Stephanie and rush her to the back.
Ronda left, but Stephanie remained in the ring. Crowd chanted "you deserve it," then "Hey, hey, hey, goodbye." Jojo the ring announcer asked the crowd to show a little respect for Stephanie. They just booed louder as Stephanie slowly walked to the back while she nursed her injuredleft arm.
Cole, Jonathan Coachman and Corey Graves gave their annual disclaimer about how the crowd tonight will be different from other crowds that folks typically see on Raw. The fans will boo wrestlers that others typically cheer and vice versa.
Next week, there's a Superstar Shake-Up, starting on Monday with Raw.
Jax got "You deserve it" chants after her ring entrance. She looked really choked up. Alexa Bliss said it looks like there's no bigger bully here than Rousey, unless you talk about Jax. Bliss said the truth about Jax is that she's the bully because she loves to throw her weight around, which is clearly a lot of weight because it's twice the size of Mickie James and three times the size of her. Bliss said Jax beat up James last night for no reacon, and she was distraught over that, which is why she lost. Bliss said she lost because she is a compassionate woman and was competing under emotional distress. Bliss said everyone in the locker room knows deep down that Jax is cold as ice.
Jax told Bliss to shut up. Jax said she loved every second of what she did to Bliss and James last night. At first, this was supposed to be a handicap match but Jax said she has a partner tonight: Ember Moon, who came out to a loud ovation.
In Durham, N.C., (where I'm located), the break after announcing the Superstar Shake-Up, they advertised a Smackdown house show at PNC Arena in Raleigh for next month. A.J. Styles was billed as defending the WWE Heavyweight Championship against Shinsuke Nakamura, along with a four-way featuring Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn, even though they're supposed to be fired.
Raw Women's Champion Nia Jax and Ember Moon defeated Alexa Bliss and Mickie James (3:02)
Crowd popped big when Moon tagged in and chanted "NXT." She looked rough around the area on some spots, but hit the Eclipse on Bliss for the pin.
Kurt Angle talked to someone on a cellphone when Strowman walked up. Angle congratulated Strowman on his win of the Raw Tag Team Championships and asked where his partner was. Turned out, Nicholas was there the whole time. Crowd roared for Nicholas. Strowman said they're relinquishing the Raw Tag Team Championships because Nicholas has a scheduling conflict since he's still in 4th grade. But as soon as he graduates, he's coming back for the championship. Nicholas said someone is going to get these hands. So the Raw Tag Team Championships are now vacant.
A vignette for No Way Jose aired. He debuts next.
No Way Jose defeated John Skylar (:25)
Jose came out with his conga line and won with the windup punch. There's a reason why NXT acts are called up to the main roster in front of this crowd and it's because they come across like stars on their first night in front of hardcore fans. It was no different in this situation.
Cesaro and Sheamus walked up and asked about Strowman relinquishing the tag team championship. Angle corrected Sheamus and said Strowman and his partner relinquished the tag team championships. Cesaro asked if they were going to hand them the tag team championships back now, or would he rather do it in the ring with a more formal presentation. Angle reminded them they lost to a 10-year-old last night. Instead, Angle arrange a tag team eliminator, not using the term tournament. It would start tonight and conclude at the Greatest Royal Rumble event in Saudi Arabia. The Bar would be in action tonight.
The Revival defeated Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows in a Tag Team Eliminator match (3:35)
Karl Anderson got the hot tag and kicked Scott Dawson across the face and hit a neckbreaker. Anderson hit Dash Wilder with a pescado, then followed with an Anderson spinebuster. Wilder made the save. Wilder made a blind tag and pinned Anderson after the Shatter Machine. There are no brackets for this tournament and it must be one of Vince McMahon's directives not to use the term "tournament" because it was omitted by the announcers.
Seth Rollins came out as the new Intercontinental Champion. Rollins said there have been a lot of ups and downs over the last few years, but that was the loudest "Burn it Down" he's ever heard. After last night, Rollins can finally say that Seth "Freakin'" Rollins is back. Rollins said he had to admit "Grand Slam Rollins" has a nice ring to it, which led to a chant. Rollins said he's finally caught up to Reigns and Dean Ambrose and now every member of the Shield is a Grand Slam champion and the best part is he did it at WrestleMania.
Finn Balor walked out without his usual entrance. Balor congratulated Rollins. Balor said Rollins was the better man last night, but last night was a Triple Threat match. There was a winner, there was a loser, and then there was Balor, who wanted more. He challenged Rollins to an Intercontinental Championship match. The two shook hands and it appeared Rollins accepted.
The Miz came out with Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel. Miz, who was no babyface here, said Rollins didn't deserve it, he does. Miz said he made the Intercontinental Championship the most prestigious in the WWE. Miz said he told the MizTourage to stay in the back because he wanted no excuses from Rollins when he won. Rollins asked Miz if he just said that Miz can't beat Rollins without the MizTourage. Miz said he became a father two weeks ago, which got cheers. Maryse said when Rollins stole the belt from him, he made Monroe Mizanan cry. That made Maryse cry. When Miz heard that, he cried. Rollins said he had to admit, he's proud that Miz admitted he cried, because that's what everyone does when they watch Miz wrestle. Rollins said Miz can't lace his boots.
Miz said he's entitled to a rematch. Rollins said if he wants to invoke his rematch clause, they can do it tonight. Miz rejected that idea because he's in a custom suit and he will invoke his rematch clause at Backlash. Miz challenged Rollins and Balor to a 3-on-2 handicap match. They got ready to square off when Jeff Hardy came out to a big pop to join the babyfaces. They teased going at it, but Miz, Dallas and Axel left. There will be a six-man tonight.
Mandy Rose (with Paige and Sonya Deville) defeated Sasha Banks (with Bayley) (6:58)
Just as the match was about to start, Bayley came out, got in the ring, then stepped out be in Sasha Banks' corner. Crowd chanted for Bayley the way every international crowd does. Banks nailed Mandy Rose with a knee acros the jaw and came off the top rope with double knees to the shoulders. Rose rolled out to the floor and pushed Bayley. Bayley retailiated and went after Rose, but Rose ducked and hit Banks. That led to Banks and Bayley arguing Banks got back in the ring and Rose gave her a knee lift for the pin.
Bayley walked to the back looking remorseful.
Postmatch, Paige said it was really hard for her to sit on the sidelines for WrestleMania because this ring is her heart and soul. Paige announced that due to neck injuries, she can't perform in the ring as an in-ring competitor anymore. Crowd chanted "Thank you, Paige." Rose and Sonya Deville vanished at this point. An emotional Paige thanked every single female star and said she was proud to be a part of this division. They have built the division into something huge. Paige thanked her family and thanked Daniel Bryan, who came back from a career-ending injury yesterday and had his first match back. That gave her hope. Paige thanked Edge, who was backstage tonight. He said Edge has showed her there's life beyond wrestling and he's got a successful acting career and a lovely family. Paige said she will have to find something else besides wrestling to do. Paige said she debuted four years ago in New Orleans and won the Divas Championship. Now, New Orleans will be the place where she wants to retire. Paige thanked everyone and with tears streaming down her eyes, the crowd chanted "This is your house." Paige thanked everyone and said this will always be her house. She laid down the micropone, placed her t-shirt over it and left the ring.
Elias was in the ring wearing a leather jacket that looked like 1981 era Burt Reynolds in "Smokey and the Bandit 2." Crowd actually clapped along with his guitar playing. Elias said, in one year, he's become the biggest musical act on the face of this planet. Last night at WrestleMania, everyone paid to see an Elias performance. Crowd started singing for Elias to the tune of "Seven Nation Army." Elias looked taken aback. Elias shouted the crowd down and said he was going to perform tonight, albeit in front of the same unappreciative scumbags from last night. That led to a "We are scumbags" chant. Elias sang a song about wanting to punch the fans in the face as they clap.
Then Bobby Lashley came out to a huge pop. Elias looked stunned. Lashley, wearing a black headband, got in the ring to 'Welcome back" chants. Elias took a swing at him but Lashley gave him a neckbreaker, followed by a one-arm vertical suplex where he held him for 15 seconds.
In the back, Angle was in the middle of another cell phone conversation when Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn showed up, all dressed up. Owens said they've had a falling out with SmackDown Live management. Angle asked if they were looking for a job. Angle asked if they got fired for attacking their Commissioner and General Manager. Zayn said that was true but that won't happen again. Angle actually said his tag team division is full but TNA is hiring. (He just had a 10 year old compete on the biggest show of the year) Owens sold out Zayn and said he was a father, unlike Zayn. Angle said he has one spot on the roster and the two of them can wrestle for it tonight, take it or leave it. They reluctantly agreed.
Rhyno and Heath Slater were in the ring. Slater said it's a shame they weren't involved in "the tag team eliminator thing" because they were the first SmackDown Tag Team Champions. Slater challenged any tag team to come out. Crowd chanted for Authors of Pain before their music started, and guess who came out?
The Authors of Pain defeated Heath Slater & Rhyno (:49)
Cole opened the match by mistaking Akam for Razor. Akam pinned Slater following the Last Chapter. Akam and Razor then refused to allow Paul Ellering to walk to the back with them. Ellering just shook his head at them. It looks like Vince's stance on managers isn't changing.
They announced Reigns vs. Lesnar in a steel cage for the Universal Championship at the Greatest Royal Rumble.
Reigns walked out. As if this is news, he's just never going to get acceped by the hardcores as he was booed out of the place. He was selling his beating from last night. This year, the fans actually let him talk, but not without some resistence. Reigns said he got his ass kicked last night, as everyone can see. But he's here tonight and Lesnar isn't. Reigns said he really doesn't know what happened yesterday. He said Vince McMahon couldn't look him in the eye and smarten him up. Reigns said he knew that Lesnar was a smart businessman because he heard at the end of last week that Lesnar was going back to UFC. Then he learned today that Lesnar had signed a new contract and that he was going to face Lesnar in a cage match, something he wasn't told ahead of time until he got on the Internet. Reigns said if he faces Lesnar one-on-one, he would walk out the Universal Champion.
Samoa Joe showed up for the first time since January and mocked how Reigns thinks there's a conspiracy against him. Joe said Lesnar didn't just beat Reigns last night, Lesnar exposed Reigns. For over a year, Reigns said he was the only one who could beat Lesnar, but the truth is no matter what, Reigns failed, which makes Reigns a failure. Crowd cheered and chanted "Failure." Joe said it also makes Reigns a liar, he lied to the fans, he lied to his family because Reigns can't face the fact that every time he goes face-to-face with Lesnar, Reigns gets jacked up. Regins winds up on tables, Reigns winds up on tables and Lesnar gets richer. Joe said the vicious cycle will end because after Lesnar fails again in a cage, he'll be waiting at Backlash to put Reigns to sleep. Joe left to "Joe" chants like he was the top male babyface in the company.
Titus O'Neil and Apollo were waiting on their opponets for the tag team eliminator. Matt Hardy talked to the Andre the Giant trophy like it was a deity. Behind him was one Bray Wyatt, who seems to have just turned babyface after emerging from the Lake of Reincarnation and is now partnering with Hardy.
Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt defeated Titus Worldwide in a Tag Team Elimination match (5:06)
O'Neil and Hardy chanted "Delete" and "Worldwide" back-and-forth. Apollo did a backflip out of the corner. Wyatt and Hardy together said "Wonderful" and applauded, with many fans joining in. Apollo came off the second rope, but Wyatt caught him and delievered a uranage. Wyatt set up Sister Abigail, but threw Apollo into Hardy, who hit the Twist of Fate for the pin.
Next week, the Revival faces Hardy & Wyatt. The winner advances to the Greatest Royal Rumble to face the Bar.
They played a Backlash PPV ad as one of the rare times all year that SmackDown and Raw are joining forces, completely leaving out the fact that's how future PPVs are going to be.
Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn went to a double countout in a match where the winner gets hired to Raw (10:13)
Zayn hit a tope con hilo immediately. Owens recovered almost instantly and tried to power bomb Zayn onto the apron, but Zayn catapulted Owens into the ringpost. Zayn tried to walk the ropes, but Owens crotched him and landed an inverted splash. After a commercial, Zayn hit the Blue Thunder Driver for a two count. Zayn attempted the diving DDT through two ropes, but Owens caught him with a kick and scored the Bullfrog Splash for a two count. Crowd was into it with rhythmic applause. Owens hit two running knees, but Zayn caught the Helluva Kick. Owens landed through the ropes so Zayn couldn't cover him. Then Owens caught the Pop Up Power Bomb, but fell out of the ring. Owens screamed "I need this, OK?" as he climbed the top rope, but Zayn kicked him on the ropes and tried a Superplex. But Owens turned it into the Steenalizer. Zayn and Owens were both down and, for the first time I can recall on Raw, they were both counted out int he ring. They announced that neither man would get a job on Raw.
Jeff Hardy, Balor and Rollins were in the back. Jeff walked up to Matt, who said he was happy to see that Jeff had recovered from his broken condition. Jeff said he was glad that Matt won the Battle Royale. Matt said he did it with the help of a familiar foe. Wyatt walked in, looked menacingly at Jeff, then opened his arms and said "Brother Nero." They hugged. Balor and Rollins looked at this scene with their jaws agape.
Seth Rollins, Jeff Hardy and Finn Balor defeated Bo Dallas, The Miz and Curtis Axel (13:57)
Not sure if it was microphone placment or what, but Rollins' spot calling was louder than a Slayer concert. Miz didn't get into the ring at all early. he distracted Miz long enough for Dallas to deck him from behind for the heat. After a dropkick to Miz, Balor tagged Jeff. Crowd chanted "Brother Nero." Hardy hit Whisper in the Wind on Axel and Dallas to tag Rollins, who gave Axel a tope, clotheslined Miz over the top rope and hit a tope on all three heels. Crowd chanted "Burn It Down." Rollins missed a charge in the corner and Miz went to the top rope, but Rollins caught him with a superplex rolled into the Falcon Arrow. Dallas made the save, but Balor gave Dallas a sling blade. Balor clotheslined Axel over the top rope and Balor gave Axel and Dallas the Cope con Hilo. Rollins pinned Miz after the Curb Stomp.
Postmatch, Dallas ran after Balor, but Hardy intercepted with a Twist of Fate, Balor hit the Coup de Grace and Rollins gave him the Curb Stomp. Axel went after the faces, but Hardy gave him the Twist of Fate, Balor the Coup de Grace and Rollins the Curb Stomp.