Craig Wilson, Jamie Lithgow, Brian Damage and Earl Marx
While WrestleMania is the big one, generally one of the hottest nights of the wrestling calendar, certainly in terms of crowd reaction, is Raw the night after. Following on from last week’s Sunday Sermon looking ahead to WrestleMania, today we turn our eyes towards that episode of Raw.
Craig: Last week in the Sunday Sermon we rounded off by talking about how much we were looking forward to the episode of Raw after WrestleMania. It’s a night of big moments, debuting stars and crazy crowd reactions.
It seems a logical follow-up this week to look at that episode of Raw and discuss what sort of things could happen. Could it be when Shinsuke Nakamura makes the step up? Is it when Finn Balor returns? Or is it something completely different?
What and/or who are you expecting to see on that episode of Raw and do you expect the crowd to take over things like most years?
Jamie: Thinking about The Universal Title situation, I am almost certain that the belt will be defended on this episode of Raw. All signs point towards Owens dropping the title to Goldberg at Fastlane in order to make his match Lesnar a title bout, and thus justify its spot at the top of the Wrestlemania card. Goldberg and Lesnar are part-timers so surely whoever leaves ‘Mania with the title will not have a lengthy reign? Owens would likely be due a rematch, so he could go over and get his win back from Fastlane. Or, and this would be amazing, Finn Balor is also due a rematch from the Universal Title. There’s a return, a title change and the old guard putting over the new generation in one fowl swoop. Surely the post-Mania crowd can’t shit all over that kind of booking? The WWE themselves might, though…
Craig: While I like the idea of Owens, or indeed, Balor winning the night after WrestleMania, largely because I don’t particularly want to see Goldberg win the Universal title, I can’t see his reign being cut short the night after Mania. Despite firmly being of the opinion that Goldberg vs. Lesnar doesn’t need a title as it’s two huge, albeit, part-time names going head to head, I can’t get past Goldberg winning it at Fastlane. Plus, I think Jericho will interfere and cost Owens the gold and that leads to their WrestleMania match, no?
Could the Raw after Mania be The Undertaker’s retirement night? A ‘Thank you, Taker’ type affair? I wonder if we get the latest influx of NXT talent. I can’t help but think that NXT Takeover: Orlando will be the final swansong for a number of NXT talents. If Roode beats Nakamura, which I expect he will, then Nakamura is surely heading to Raw or Smackdown. Maybe Asuka, should she lose the women’s title at Takeover. After all, there’s not much for her to do on NXT anymore…
Although I think the most surefire thing to happen is a title change. It’s almost a dead cert. I wonder if it’ll be the tag team titles but can’t think who could return/debut in a big moment and take them. The Revival? I sorta see them being a better fit for Smackdown but can’t think of any other suitable teams…
Jamie: I’d agree with Asuka and Nakamura stepping up sooner rather than later. You have to imagine Nakamura is on good money so WWE will want a return on their investment. As for Asuka, the longer she stays in NXT the worse it is for the Women’s division there. She’s beaten everybody. All that’s left is Ember Moon and Nikki Cross, in a one-on-one match. Do we really think they stand a chance at this point in time? With the Raw women’s title stagnating badly with the same matches recycled, I think it’s about time a new challenger stepped in. I’d love Asuka to bring the NXT Title and make a match with Charlotte a Champion vs Champion bout, that would go down a treat the night after Wrestlemania.
Maybe we’re thinking too far ahead with the Universal Title, though, maybe Owens retains at Fastlane? Maybe Lesnar costs Goldberg the match. Brock doesn’t strike me as the type of character to care that it would be in his best interests to help Goldberg, so that’s worth considering too.
I like your point about The Revival being better suited to Smackdown, so maybe they debut the Tuesday after Wrestlemania instead? Do we think WWE will try to make the Smackdown after Wrestlemania ‘a thing’ too? Surely those still drunk from Sunday night will have sobered up by Tuesday?!
Brian: The night after Wrestlemania is typically my favorite Raw of the year. Not just because the crowds are rabid…which certainly helps maintaining interest…but because it is like a whole new season starts up for the company. New feuds and storylines are developed and most times fresh faces emerge from NXT. To me, it definitely is an exciting time because it gives you new hope for a fresh start for the WWE.
Talent I expect to see sooner rather than later after Wrestlemania include Shinsuke Nakamura, The Revival and dare I say Asuka? All in all, though, you can’t help but get swept up in the moments that the Raw after Wrestlemania creates. We have seen Paige debut and win the Divas title…we have seen the Miz shock Zack Ryder and win the Intercontinental title…the birth of Fandangoing etc…
Craig: Brian is spot on. The best moments on Raw after WrestleMania are the ones we can’t predict, that is what makes them so special. Jamie is right, you’ve got to expect that the Smackdown after WrestleMania will be blistering hot too with new additions and some big moments, right?
Jamie: I hope and expect that WWE will go all guns blazing with both Raw and Smackdown after Wrestlemania, but will they pull it off with the blue brand? I’m filled with hope because if you look at moments like Fandango, for example, the same fans that started the craze on Raw also attended the subsequent Smackdown taping.
We seem to agree that, if not at the Raw after ‘Mania, Shinsuke Nakamura’s debut is not far away. So, how exactly do we see him debuting? There’s no way he just shows up for a random match. Who does the King of Strong Style target first?
Earl: Alrighty. Back off a week’s break and I am ready to have fun! The day/week after Mania….lot of good memories. This day is particularly important because it’s the beginning of the dreaded “Post-Mania Lull” where things sloe down until we pick up again around Money In The Bank. What can set this off just right? Why some debuts and returns of course!!
As my peers have ever so greatly noted, I can see Balor returning here for the Raw brand. I can also see Nakamura debuting on SD because they will be in need of more face star power if Johnny Cena is taking another hiatus. Both returns can give us a few fresh feuds. Brock vs Balor…Beast vs Demon anyone? I’ll take it (yes I’m aware Brock looks like.he eats Balor for dinner, but I’m old school and like David vs Goliath matchups here and there). For SD, I wouldn’t mind Randy vs AJ And/or Nakamura and AJ leading us into the summer.
Outside of that, I am not seeing other big debuts with the exception of Asuka on SD (due to Nikki Bella possibly leaving). The brands are crowded to an extent now, so I don’t know if a flood of talent is the route they’ll take. I expect the Raw women’s division to look the same.
Do I forsee some other wild and wonky moments on that Post-Raw/SD? Sure. Will the crowd be red hot and likely hijack the show? Yeah. At first, it was nice, but now…I’m a mixed bag on it now.
I do like what Craig mentioned about this being a Taker centered night. I know it’s said every year, so I’m gonna say it now…I DO see it being a Taker centered Raw because it will be it this year. I’m probably gonna be wrong, but I think there’s a new Big Dog now…and there’s not really anything else for Taker to do since it does not seem he and Cena will lock up. Let’s pen in Taker addressing the crowd at the Post-Mania Raw.
This year is the first post-Mania week after the brand split. I EXPECT BIG and I’m fairly confident the E will deliver in the time of need.
Got predictions for the night after Wrestlemania? As ever, leave them below in the comments section.
You can read all previous Sunday Sermons here.