Raw 04/09/2018: Moon rises as the final Paige turns

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It’s time for the big one, the RAW after WrestleMania! The day of the ‘WrestleMania’ hangover has only recently become a big thing for us women’s wrestling fans. After WM 33, we saw the return of ‘Evil Emma’ after the ditched Emmalina gimmick. After WM 32, Maryse made her welcome return to the division after a 5-year absence. The RAW after WM 31 was the farewell match for beloved former Divas Champion AJ Lee and it was the RAW after WM 30 where her then-record-breaking run as Champion was cut short by the one and only Paige. So, what would be in store this time? A debut, a return, a farewell…

The top of the show sees Stephanie McMahon woddle to the ring with her arm in a cast, with the crowd drowning her with “You Tapped Out!” chants. Think Steph was going to be upset? Hell no, in classic McMahon style, she’s back to her sneaky ways and trying to get back on Ronda Rousey’s good side. She brings her out and is very apologetic, seemingly trying to extend the olive branch… and Rousey seems to play ball. The two shake hands and hug, but not so fast, Rousey flips Steph onto the mat, rips off her cast and goes for another nasty arm wrench leaving Steph and her Ariana Grande ponytail writhing in the ring! She limps to the back as the “Na na na na hey hey hey GOODBYE!” chants, to which Jojo randomly asks the crowd to be respectful to Steph, leading to an even louder chorus of boos!

We’re on a roll as our NEW RAW Women’s Champion Nia Jax comes out to an amazing fanfare and “You Deserve It!” chants. Proudly sporting her first ever Championship, Jax has the biggest smile on her face, until former Champion Alexa Bliss and her bestie Mickie James come to the ring. Bliss states that she only lost at WrestleMania as she was concerned about the beating James received at the start of their match, causing her emotional distress. However, she goes back to her usual digs, cussing Jax for throwing her ‘weight’ around and telling her she’s got no mates.

Jax isn’t phased. She shows off her new Championship and tells her that she does have a partner for the match… Ember Moon!

The crowd is super excited about this one and Ember draws a huge reaction. The War Goddess has arrived on Monday Night RAW!

The match is an interesting one, as it’s the first time that we’ve really seen Nia Jax working as a face. The Mean Girls duo try to work over Jax’s legs, but once Ember Moon gets the tag it’s a wrap. James gets kicked out of the ring, while Bliss gets finished off with the Eclipse! Ember Moon and Nia Jax get the win!

Backstage, the two celebrate their victory. Jax is proud of Moon making a strong impression, while Moon tells us that she’s excited to start a new path. Mike Rome also reveals that Ember Moon won’t be going back to NXT to finish off her business with Shayna Baszler, but she’s confident that the women in the current division will take care of her.

We’re also treated to an exclusive look at Nia Jax first photoshoot with her Championship. Where are her title plates though? I’m curious to see what she’ll get!

Think the Sasha Banks VS Bayley drama was over? Nope, not just yet! Sasha Banks is out to take on Absolution member, Mandy Rose. As always, Rose is accompanied by Paige and Sonya Deville, so Bayley comes out to even the odds… but Banks doesn’t seem too happy about it.

A standard match with these two, as always with the numbers game contributing to the final result. Rose isn’t a ‘five-star’ mat technician, but she’s a very solid worker (and Sonya too) so they definitely serve their purpose in these mid-program establishing matches. Banks hits her double knees from the top rope, scoring a near fall, but Rose rolls out of the ring. The two seem to blow a spot on the outside, but they make a swift recovery with Rose turning her attention to Bayley and shoving her.

As the referee sees the rest of Absolution heading to the other side of the ring, Bayley swings for Rose… but ends up smacking Banks instead. Awks! The two stare off in the middle of the ring, but Banks walks right into a high knee from Mandy Rose! 1… 2… 3! Mandy Rose has picked up her first singles win since joining RAW!

Bayley heads straight to the back like a child that has been caught drawing on the walls, while Banks looks like the angry parent. She also heads up the ramp, leaving Absolution in the ring and Paige takes to the microphone…

If you haven’t seen it all over wrestling websites today, then here it is one more time. Paige reveals that she has to make to her official retirement due to her neck injuries. The crowd showers her with “Thank you Paige!” chants. She thanks her family, the women’s division and other Superstar legends Edge and Daniel Bryan who has given her hope that she may wrestle again. As I stated in the intro, it was 4 years ago when Paige made her astounding debut on the main roster, winning the Divas Championship. She reminds us that it happened in New Orleans, but 4 years later she now she has to retire. Oh, the feels… if you weren’t crying by then, then I don’t know why you’re still reading. As the crowd chant “This Is Your House!”, a tearful Paige says her signature line one more time as she leaves her Absolution t-shirt and microphone in the center of the ring as she bows out of the arena. THANK YOU PAIGE!

And finally, for next week the roster switches continue as it’s revealed that we will be having our Superstar Shake Up! Sasha Banks is pretty adamant that she wants to stay on RAW, while Bayley wants to see her NXT bestie Carmella come over to the red brand. Conveniently, it’s also revealed that Sasha Banks VS Bayley will take place next week (lol and not on WrestleMania)… the last match between them for awhile I’m guessing?

Thoughts: As I said at the top of this piece, the RAW after WrestleMania was never really much of a big deal for us women’s wrestling fans. We would usually get the women shoved in a tag match, so it’s only been recent that they’ve started becoming things for us to look forward to. And damn, they didn’t disappoint, I got all sorts of emotions from last night. Now, this week, my review might be a little longer, but that’s because there is so much to talk about so keep reading!

Ronda Rousey proved that she’s got ‘it’ at WrestleMania. Sure she’s not a Sasha Banks or Charlotte Flair yet, but she moves so quickly and this MMA style will be fun to work with. I don’t know if she’s going to be a weekly regular, but she’s a nice side piece for the division. She’s over, her facial expressions are perfect and I’m sure a couple more months in the Performance Center will really help her progress. They’ve struck gold there, but there’s a lot more polishing to do.

Say what you want about Stephanie McMahon’s weird politics and views, but she knows how to play her part well and pull it out of the bag when she gets in the ring. I guess this segment was to write her off of TV for awhile, but I’m sure we’ll see her again by SummerSlam. PS. I was so here for her Ariana Grande ponytail, it was a yes from me.

Seeing that genuine reaction on Nia Jax’ face as the crowd chanted for her was so sweet. As I’ve said before, you guys who have read my RAW Reduxes since her debut on the main roster will tell you that I’ve never been her biggest fan, but damn she has worked hard this year and deserved it. I can’t say I was the biggest fan of her match at WrestleMania either, but it will be interesting to see her as a face, thank God they did it without having to use Enzo Amore. One thing I do find weird already is if she starts to take too much offence during matches, she’s still meant to be the biggest girl on the roster so we I don’t want to see her start getting soft.

That brings us to her opponents, first Alexa Bliss! Now Alexa Bliss is still one of the big characters, but I think she may be off to SmackDown for a bit. There was a time where I thought WWE would keep Bliss separate from Charlotte Flair as polar opposites, but after Survivor Series and their segment at RAW’s 25th Anniversary, I think it’s clear to see who they favour. Bliss has a lot of star power still, so seeing her back on the blue brand, but with her stronger character, it could be a lot of fun.

Her lackey Mickie James… can we just address WrestleMania, please? This woman has beaten the likes of Trish Stratus, Lita, Beth Phoenix… but she was treated like she was Dana Brooke at WrestleMania (no discredit to Dana, but you know what I mean). While I like the continuity that they have with Bliss/James relationship, it just bugs me because we all know James could be doing so much more. I’d personally like to see her go back to SmackDown too, but eventually turn back to face and maybe give Charlotte a run for her money… one can dream, right?

Onto the Sasha Banks/Bayley saga. I mean, it’s a shame that there’s all this build going into this match and it’s going to climax on next week’s episode of RAW since one of them is definitely going to SmackDown. Each week it does seem like Bayley is going to turn heel and I’m so ready for it, but I guess they might just push the restart button with her on SmackDown, which isn’t a bad thing by any means. I do miss heel Sasha, don’t get me wrong, she’s playing her part of the big face on RAW well enough and guess that what she has to do while everyone else around her catches up.

Speaking of possibly big faces, onto the latest addition Ember Moon! Now as I just mentioned, RAW is lacking big faces so that would make Ember Moon a welcome addition and I’m happy she’s got her overdue call-up. However, I won’t lie though, I’m very cautious of how she’s handled. She didn’t have that Four Horsewomen popularity and she didn’t have the mystique feature that Asuka had, I mean her character doesn’t really exist either. She’s a great wrestler, has an orange weave and red contacts… but she needs to be more than a finisher or she’s not going to last and that would be a real shame. Right now, she’s just debuted as ‘Shiny New Toy #4’ and it’s going to be a big task for her to stand out when all eyes are on Nia Jax and Asuka…

Speaking of Asuka, I’m very much part of the fandom that is pissed that her streak has ended. Asuka’s whole schtick worked when she was a Champion because she was already on top of the ladder. People grew tired of the streak because she was climbing over people that she had already climbed over and then for her to lose it means that she climbed the ladder and got shoved off. LOL so we squashed all the women in NXT and RAW for two years for her to lose after one submission attempt. Asuka’s booking in NXT was perfect because as Champion, she was kept to TakeOver’s and infrequent appearances. Say what you want about Brock Lesnar and being a part-timer, but it works perfectly for Champions. What’s worse is that this was all done to advance Charlotte Flair, who again didn’t need it. She went over Sasha Banks and Alexa Bliss, now Asuka joins that list and will probably be eating a pinfall to Sonya Deville next week. Bleh.

And finally, that leads me to the Absolution women. As I stated, Mandy Rose is a solid worker, but she needs to add something to her move set to take it up a notch. I loved Sonya representing the LGBTQ community too with her WM attire. What would have been nice is if Rose and Deville finished off Bayley and Banks with a RamPaige and PTO for a truly handing of the torch moment, which leads me to my final woman:

Paige, I friggin’ love you! From the moment she was signed, you could tell that the WWE was going to be protective of her. She was arguably not your normal ‘Diva’ at the time, she was always booked strong in FCW and NXT, so being crowned the first NXT Champion was a sign that they believed in her. A lot of people ask “Who started the Divas Revolution?” and while it’s an inane question, we can all agree that Paige was an integral part of that role. She was already starting to change the women’s role because they were handling her differently, she was given a darker gimmick, she was given rock music, she was allowed to wrestle a rougher style. It would have been all too easy to turn her into another Diva, but someone was definitely watching out for her.

I remember reading that her debut on the main roster and first Divas Championship win was something mandated because they were adamant about making her a star so quickly. Now, one could argue that maybe she wasn’t ready for it and it all came a bit too soon, but untimely injuries like this show why this is such an unpredictable business and we need to appreciate what we can. It was such an amazing moment to see her return and you can’t help but think that she would have had a certified spot on the WrestleMania card.

Paige’s career is probably one of the wildest we’ve ever seen. In the space of four years on the main roster, she rose to popularity, she worked across a range of women pulling some of the best matches out of Nikki Bella, an early Charlotte and obviously AJ Lee. She got up to the whole nude video scandal and had the very public relationship with Alberto Del Rio, but she bounced back in a way that gained our respect. Retiring in the same place she debuted may have just been a coincidence, but it was so symbolic of seeing her career and her life come full circle. I’ll miss you Paige, thank you for everything for have done for the women’s division and hopefully this isn’t the last we see if you!

PS. I’m totally up for grabbing a drink and having a night out with you when you’re next in London!

What did you think of the RAW after WrestleMania? Do you think it was the right time to call up Ember Moon? Who do you think will be drafted next week? Will Carmella ever cash in her title? What do you think about Paige’s retirement? I’ll be reading those comments below.