First, we saw Riddle challenge the “All-Mighty” Bobby Lashley, only to lose once again to the Hurt Lock. The night before, Riddle lost to Sheamus in a hard-hitting show-stealing contest, but losing like that to Lashley just feels like he’s back to square one.
Brock Lesnar’s return; Dolph Ziggler’s cash-in; and Paige’s debut – all incredible moments that happened the night after Wrestlemania. This year’s episode of RAW did not have the magic it once had. Virtual crowd or not, this night is a way to get fans excited for a new year in WWE. But this Monday felt like every episode of RAW that leads to WrestleMania. Many things were missing from this particular episode. There were no surprise debuts, returns, or establishment of new feuds that give the fans a great send-off to that long WrestleMania week. Fans might have set expectations way too high for these nights, but it just felt weird to not have a big post-WrestleMania night.
Fans did receive one significant return when the Viking Raiders returned as a team after Ivar was taken out with an injury. The RAW tag team division has been missing something. Hopefully, Ivar and Erik are the missing pieces. The two behemoths did not miss a beat, dominating Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin in their return. A dominant tag team has barely scratched the surface with what they can do on the red brand. If things go smoothly, they can be a massive threat to the brand new tag team champions, the impressive Omos and “The Phenomenal One” AJ Styles.
And with about a month gone, “The Queen” Charlotte Flair came back, and her spot was still there when she made it clear she’s going to be in the championship picture. It appeared that Charlotte was becoming the locker room leader that up-and-coming superstars had to defeat to prove themselves. Kind of like the U.S. open challenge John Cena in 2015, where every week great wrestling happened without taking attention away from the main world championship. But after that great promo, it was too good to be true, and the queen is back where she never left the last six years. Charlotte can stay on top, put on great matches, and be nowhere near any of the women’s championships, but as of now, that version of the queen is too good to be true.
Alexa Bliss did tap into a new exciting side of her character where she is deep into the darkness where she no longer needs The Fiend. At the beginning of WrestleMania night two, she left a compelling presentation that has become a must-watch to see the pay off wherever it goes from here. As for Bray Wyatt, it will be interesting how this feud with Bliss will evolve now that he has his Firefly Funhouse back.
Then comes the groundhog day story with the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championships. Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler are currently the longest reigning women’s tag team champions, but this reign has felt like the same episode of RAW for the past six months. Mandy Rose and Dana Brooke have already had a feud with the tag team champions back in November, and this past episode of Raw did not feel different from those episodes. With the night after WrestleMania being the restart of the WWE season, this was not a restart. It was just a never-ending continuation of the Nia Jax and Shayna Bazler show. WWE might have made the wrong decision on not capitalizing on the popularity Tamina received from the live crowds at WrestleMania. That win would have felt like a new season with new women’s tag team champions.
Even with the main event triple threat, it did not have that big post-WrestleMania feel. At the end of 2020, Braun Strowman and Randy Orton already had their eyes on the WWE Championship. Drew McIntyre challenging Bobby Lashley once again is not a wrong decision, but that match was missing something. Until the final minutes seeing T-Bar and Mace taking out McIntyre was somewhat of a great mystery; it allows us to ask the question “are we seeing new members of the Hurt Business?”
But those final minutes were not enough to kick off the post-WrestleMania season. Fans might have been spoiled the last couple of years with moment after moment. But after getting the missing piece of wrestling so many have missed and desired for over a year, the magic must continue. This past week so many talented individuals busted their ass to make this night feel like there was no pandemic and wrestling was still alive and well. In this episode, RAW might have struggled to keep that magic in the bottle.