WrestleMania is firmly in the rear-view mirror, the rosters fresh and the slate clean. Expectations for some fresh and interesting programs on Monday Night Raw are high. We’ve got a new Universal Champion looking to defend the title, and perhaps some new contenders too. With that being said, what exactly can viewers tonight expect to see?
Shakin’ All Over
The Official Preview highlights the Superstar Shakeup and the new talent on the red brand. They shifted some big shoes this year, with AJ Styles coming across to Raw and Roman Reigns headed to SmackDown. The Intercontinental title left along with champ Finn Balor, and we can expect to see US Champion Samoa Joe join Raw tonight. Perennial tag champions The Usos moved to Monday, as did The Miz. So we can expect to see some moves at the top of the card. It’s not likely Styles will move right into the number-one contender position, as mouth-watering a match him versus Rollins would be. It’s still more likely to see Drew McIntyre emerge as the first challenger for The Beastslayer. But that means a main event-level heel has to tackle Styles. Bobby Lashley could benefit from that pairing.
Man vs Lady
Lacey Evans finally got to walk from the ramp and into the ring, and now gets a shot at Becky Lynch for the Raw Women’s Championship. It’s not likely we’ll see that tonight, The Man versus The Lady sounds much more like a PPV-level match. But we can expect to see another confrontation between the pair this evening. The Irish Lass Kicker should come out on top this time.
The Official Preview suggests The Miz still has unfinished business with Shane McMahon. This may be true, but isn’t Shane still the SmackDown guy? I don’t remember hearing Shane and Steph swapped, so maybe Shane came as part of a package with Miz. I assumed moving The Miz was intended to end the fairly pointless feud between the pair. Apparently not. Or apparently WWE.com have made a big mistake. In the meantime, it would be much more interesting to watch Miz go up against some of the guys he hasn’t gotten to face. Maybe former Raw GM Baron Corbin could be enlisted by the McMahons to fight for Shane on Monday nights?
Andrade is an interesting addition to the Raw roster. He’s obviously a youngster with a good look, strong charisma and solid in-ring talent. Moving him from SmackDown to Raw is the final test for Andrade, to see how he does on the ‘big show’. Beating Balor last Monday, Andrade established himself quickly as an upper-tier guy. There are options for first feuds, and the best that comes to my mind would be a returning Dolph Ziggler. Sadly, because of their 50/50 booking , I’m expecting Creative to send out Braun Strowman tonight to put Andrade back in his place.
Ricochet and Aliester Black were made permanent, The War Raiders/Viking Experience and The Usos arrived, and the days became numbered for Zak Ryder and Curt Hawkins’ feel-good Raw Tag Team Championship run. There have been reports around the Web that Black and Ricochet’s partnership could be dropped in favour of letting them return to the singles division. I expect to see the pair pushed further as a duo before they’re split. Besides, they need teams if the tag division is really getting it’s long-awaited spotlight.
We can expect to see another video or two for Bray Wyatt’s upcoming return. We can look forward to Alexa Bliss and her Moment. We’ll get to see how Cedric Alexander makes the move from 205 Live to Raw – will he be the latest ‘little man’ to face a barrage of giant opponents? Or will he be treated more like Mustafa Ali was on SmackDown, his underdog status reasoned by his inexperience? I think we all know the answer to that one before it happens. Expect EC3 or Jinder Mahal to be the first musclebound victim for Alexander.
And as far as actual expectations go, that does about wrap it up. The annual reset after Mania gives Creative, and fans, a chance to reevaluate things. This initial period is really setting the stage for that – we can speculate and discuss, but there’s not much to evaluate yet. Our imaginations can conjure up projected paths leading to next April, but until we see some solid intentions laid out, those paths are made of dust. So the best we can expect from Raw tonight is to see some foundation put down. On a scale of one to five, with five being, “I think the guy under the mask giving the GTS is CM Punk!”, and one being, “I think the guy under the mask with the chainsaw is Terry Funk,” expect tonight’s Raw to rate a three.
Follow Holden on Twitter @Shocked_n_Awed; comments and discussion are welcomed below!