Des Moines, Iowa was the host to Monday Night Raw as WrestleMania and the Superstar Shake-Up has finally been left behind, with Raw’s newest stars leaving their mark on the brand once and for all last night. And the main question heading into the night would be simple: Who will be the first challenger for Seth Rollins’ Universal Championship? Let’s dive into the highlights.
AJ Styles Becomes The Top Contender
Cesaro and Alexander Kickoff the New Era of Raw
While much of the attention last night went towards the Universal Championship and who would step up as the challenger, lost in the shuffle may have been two of Raw’s brand new stars going to war in the middle of the ring. Cedric Alexander, after years of being the franchise of 205 Live, was switched over to Raw last week in the Shake-Up and what is clear is the fact that Cedric has all the tools to be a star now that he is on Raw. And across from him was the quietly switched Cesaro, as he was included on SmackDown LIVE this past week but was switched seemingly when Andrade and Aleister Black were sent to SmackDown. Regardless, this is the first time that Cesaro is on his own and away from The Bar, and what many people know is that Cesaro could be a main event performer if given the chance. These two had a highly competitive match, in which Cesaro dominated much of it in the early going with his freakish strength and quickness. The resilient Alexander would show he is no joke however, fighting back showing that it may really be the “Age of Alexander” on Monday Nights. Cedric would hit his signature Tope Con Hilo over the top rope to take out Cesaro, rolling Cesaro into the ring and looking like this may be his, grabbing the biggest win in his WWE career. It would all be for not however, as Cedric would go for his big Springboard Clothesline and get caught with a gigantic European Uppercut, knocking the lights out of Cedric and getting the win for the Swiss Cyborg. An incredible match by two great performers, as this would be fun to see again, but right now, Cesaro is proving he is a dangerous superstar to the rest of the Raw locker room.
Robert Roode Shuts Down Ricochet
Before Raw kicked off, WWE.com had an exclusive interview with new look and all by Bobby Roode, telling the universe that he is no longer Bobby with Chad Gable gone, and only wants to be known as Robert Roode from now on. This wouldn’t be the first time by any means that he was known as Robert Roode, but the question would be if he can be a more aggressive version that NXT once saw when he held the NXT Championship. Now he would take on “The One and Only” Ricochet, who has been on a roll since his debut just a few months back, but now on his own without Aleister Black. Roode was noticeably more heel mannered than before, trying in every way to up Ricochet, who at times he could not get ahold of. As the match came close and closer to the finish, Ricochet would miss the 450 Splash, allowing Roode to capitalize with a Glorious DDT to pin Ricochet in a somewhat shocking win, but it is fair to say that Robert Roode is on his way to possible stardom once again.
Welcome to the Firefly Fun House
After a few weeks of Buzzards laughing, a creepy doll staring into your heart, and a rocking horse last night, we would finally learn what Bray Wyatt is up to. And it is certainly interesting to say the least as he is seemingly not a bad man no longer, but certainly still insane considering he would cut and old cutout of himself with a chainsaw. Rather than read about it, take a look at the video that has captured the eyes and attention of the WWE Universe. Bray Wyatt is back, as he welcomes you to his Firefly Fun House.
The Story So Far: Becky Lynch vs Lacey Evans
The story between Becky Lynch and Lacey Evans continues, as “The Man” faced Alicia Fox and would eventually defeat her with the Dis-Arm-Her. After “The Sassy Southern Belle” interrupted Becky before her match, she would come back out to lay two Women’s Rights on the chin of Lynch, getting the upper hand again on “The Man” as her first title match for the Raw Women’s Championship comes at Money In The Bank.
Raw MVP: AJ Styles
It took all of one week for AJ Styles to let everyone know that he is simply “The Phenomenal One” on Monday Night Raw. It was announced at the beginning of the night by Triple H that there would be two triple threat match-ups to decide who would face each other later in the night to face Seth Rollins at Money In The Bank for the Universal Championship. The first would be all former SmackDown LIVE stars as Rey Mysterio, the United States Champion Samoa Joe, and AJ Styles would face off to see who could get to the main event first. Joe would hit a double back drop on both Styles and Mysterio from the top rope as the match would near its end. Joe would attempt to lock in the Coquina Clutch on both Mysterio and Styles, but Styles would counter it into a close pinfall. Mysterio would then get both Joe and Styles on the ropes, choosing Joe for the 619 and ultimately hitting it. Rey would wait for Styles to get to his feet, catching Mysterio and hitting the Styles Clash on Mysterio on top of Joe, pinning Joe to get to the main event later on and get one step closer to the WWE Dream Match so many have clamored for.
In the second Triple Threat, Baron Corbin, Drew McIntyre, and The Miz would faceoff as earlier in the night it was teased that Drew McIntyre may be the man to make the step up and challenge Seth Rollins at Money In The Bank. And it looked to be true, as he hit a Claymore Kick out of nowhere on The Miz but was then pushed out of the ring by Baron Corbin, who would pin Miz and go onto the main event to face AJ Styles.
Now, would AJ Styles face Seth Rollins this soon? Could he defeat Corbin in the main event to lock in his first opportunity for the Universal Championship? The answer is yes. AJ Styles would battle and battle against the bigger Corbin, kicking out of everything the ex-Raw General Manager including a huge Deep Six. When Styles would manage to finally lock in the Calf Crusher, it looked that Styles would win the match and go on to Money In The Bank here, but Corbin would manage to fight it off once again. As Corbin would go to the second rope, he would try to hit a hammerlock on Styles, but he would slide out, having Corbin get caught up on the top rope, and ultimately allowing Styles to hit the Phenomenal Forearm to lock in his future and a dream match between these two men, 14 years since their only other singles match. It will certainly be one of the most excited matches to come in the WWE for a long time.
Raw was a show where stars to the next step, a contender was crowned, and a Fun House was introduced. Next week, Alexa Bliss will announce the Money in the Bank match competitors. But what will happen on SmackDown LIVE tonight with Roman Reigns possibly being in question for his actions? We will certainly see. Check back for SmackDown Highlights tomorrow afternoon.
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