With Mr. McMahon’s “Wild Card Rule” allowing a limited number of Superstars to cross brands for a night, Raw was host to a WrestleMania rematch when SmackDown LIVE’s Kofi Kingston defended his hard-earned WWE Championship against “The New” Daniel Bryan. Did Bryan cause Kingston’s 11-year journey to the WWE Title to end in heartbreak?
Also on Raw, Universal Champion Seth Rollins teamed with AJ Styles in an impromptu tag team match, Ricochet put his Men’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match opportunity on the line and much more!
Kingston, Bryan and Reigns crash Raw and the “Wild Card Rule” is born
He did it. Roman Reigns showed up. After a full weekend of will-he-or-won’t-he speculation – complete with some passive aggressive stuff from The Big Dog to the official WWE Twitter account – the four-time World Champion did as he promised and appeared at the top of the show, smack in the middle of Mr. McMahon’s opening address to the WWE Universe. That would have been surprising enough, but The Big Dog didn’t come alone.
Reigns – who admitted he came to Raw to rebuke the McMahon family by going where he was needed rather than where he was assigned – was quickly followed by WWE Champion Kofi Kingston and Daniel Bryan, who wasted no time rekindling their pre-WrestleMania hostilities. Luckily, their appearances led to an epiphany from The Chairman: A “Wild Card Rule” that allows three Superstars to make one-off appearances on the opposite brand they are assigned to.
And since he had three SmackDown Superstars already, Mr. McMahon once again used their presences to his advantage by sanctioning two WrestleMania rematches: One between Reigns and Drew McIntyre (who appeared to puff his chest over the SmackDown ship-jumpers infringing on his turf) and a WWE Title bout between Kofi and Bryan. As The Chairman said, it’ll be a night to remember, and for all the chaos that unfolded, it seems like things couldn’t have gone any more according to plan.
Could Rollins & Styles coexist against Corbin & Lashley?
One person who’s not nuts about the new “Wild Card Rule”? AJ Styles. The Phenomenal One is understandably miffed that – just as he’s about to put down roots on Raw – he has to deal with the possibility of Seth Rollins calling in backup in their Universal Title Match, should he so choose.
(He went so far as to threaten to bring some “friends” over from Team Blue to watch his back; Mr. McMahon stressed the rule is invitation-only.) Rollins didn’t seem to need much back-up against The Phenomenal One, hitting the scene and squaring up to his challenger so ferociously that Mr. McMahon decided to pair them as partners against a team of his choosing.
That didn’t go so well either for the challenger – or the champion, for that matter: Despite some early chemistry against The Chairman’s hand-picked tandem of Baron Corbin & Bobby Lashley, the bubbling animosity threatened to bubble over each time there was a lull in the action. Eventually, the two got their act together, but an errant Phenomenal Forearm seemingly intended for Corbin levelled legal man Rollins, and The Phenomenal One bailed on the match without a backward glance rather than make it right.
Corbin finished the match out with an End of Days to The Beastslayer, who was understandably furious over the outcome. So, could they coexist? In a word, no. It was a noble experiment by The Chairman, to be sure. But at the end of the day, some people just work better as enemies.
Braun Strowman silences Sami Zayn with trip to the trash
For three weeks, Sami Zayn has made it his life purpose to insult the moral fibre of the WWE Universe, but if we’re being honest, it was only a matter of time before someone decided to shut him up. To Zayn’s great detriment, that someone turned out to be Braun Strowman, and while “The Critic of the Critics” catlike agility didn’t diminish a bit during his time on the shelf, The Monster Among Men has wheels of his own. Strowman pursued Zayn relentlessly through the bowels of the arena, quickly gaining ground despite taking bundles of paper towels and other assorted backstage detritus to the face.
When Strowman finally got his hands-on Zayn, he promptly dumped the former NXT Champion in a dumpster – moments before a garbage truck dumped the contents of the container in its bed. Adding to the surrealistic nature of the chase, The Lucha House Party dispatched a trio of locals seconds after the chase had concluded; clearly Strowman isn’t the only one who likes to let his actions do the talking.
Robert Roode makes a play for Ricochet’s Money in the Bank berth
Nobody much raised an eyebrow when Ricochet was named to the Men’s Money in the Bank Match on merit – after all, it’s pretty much a tailor-made contest to the former NXT North American Champion’s skills, and it’s a near-guarantee he’s going to do something nuts. But it’s hard to argue against Robert Roode’s frustration with being passed over, given that he’s the only man to pin Ricochet in WWE.
At least, the McMahon family seemed to think so, granting Roode a win-and-you’re in match against his rival after some backstage wheeling-and-dealing, but the outcome of that contest left little doubt as to who deserved to go to WWE Money in the Bank.
In short, they got it right the first time, as Ricochet withstood an aggressive full-court press from The Glorious One to retain his “Money” berth via 630. It was a firm reminder of not just his athleticism but his perseverance – the win was come-from-behind by any measure – and he’ll need both of those skills if he wants to win the Money in the Bank Ladder Match. As for Robert Roode? He’ll surely politick his way to another opportunity eventually. As far as WWE Money in the Bank is concerned, however, he’ll go no further.
Lacey Evans’ power play provokes aggressive response
There is a difference between being a champion and a locker room leader. Lacey Evans, we’re finding out, may well have it in her to become the former at WWE Money in the Bank at the expense of Becky Lynch. The latter, however, is a different story.
For all the dominance she showed in her rout of a local competitor named Allie Catrina on Raw, The Lady of WWE did nothing to endear herself to her fellow Superstars when she sent out formal-attire ringside invitations to the Raw Women’s Money in the Bank competitors.
While Alexa Bliss, Naomi, Dana Brooke and Natalya did indeed surround the ring per Lacey’s request, they were subject to a round of insults from The Lady and made their displeasure known by standing aside when Lynch appeared to brawl with her challenger. Evans briefly traded haymakers with Becky before heading for higher ground, though being forced into retreat did little to dim her confidence again, she has more than a fighting chance and may well turn The Man into Becky One Belt when all is said and done. The respect of her peers? That might be a little harder to obtain, win or lose.
Ryder & Hawkins try their luck against The Viking Raiders
Zack Ryder & Curt Hawkins have managed to avoid The Viking Raiders ever since losing to them in their Raw debut, which is good news for the fan-favourites’ fledgling Raw Tag Team Title reign. But the champs got a good look at what the future might hold when they squared up with Erik & Ivar in a non-title match and found themselves steamrolled by the Raiders, despite an impressive opening sequence that saw them force Ivar against the ropes with quick tags and teamwork.
Even after Erik entered the fray, Ryder & Hawkins stuck to their strategy and seemed like they might pull off the win until an overzealous Hawkins found himself kneed into oblivion by Erik, leaving The Ultimate Broski alone to suffer The Viking Experience, and a reality check with it: As impressive as Ryder & Hawkins have been since winning the titles, they’ve definitely been the recipients of some good luck and better timing along the way. If there’s a takeaway from this match, it’s that luck didn’t save them, and time may be running out.
It’s picnic time on Bray Wyatt’s “Firefly Fun House” … but where’s Rambling Rabbit?
The trio’s down to two on “Firefly Fun House” as Bray Wyatt entered his humble abode to find that Mercy the Buzzard had torn Rambling Rabbit to pieces – he’d apparently tried to force the bird to adhere to his bohemian worldview and ideologies. But as we learned last week, self-expression is important, and as far as Bray was concerned, ripping the bunny apart was just Mercy’s way of conveying his feelings. That was worth a reward: “Picnic time” with a gaggle of dead-eyed children who stared blankly at the camera while Wyatt waved giddily at the audience.
The slightly unsettling image made his jovial sign-off somewhat ominous in context: “See you next week!”
Reigns and McIntyre clash under the “Wild Card Rule”
The “Wild Card Rule” certainly lived up to its name in the very first bout under its banner, as a WrestleMania rematch between Roman Reigns and Drew McIntyre led to a four-way brawl encompassing two Raw Superstars, two SmackDown Superstars and a member of the McMahon family to boot.
McIntyre more or less had his way with The Big Dog for most of the match until Reigns hit what would have been the match-ending Spear on his last legs, but the pinfall was broken up by Reigns’ SmackDown rivals, Shane McMahon and Elias. That brought out The Miz, who had been lying in wait for Shane-O-Mac outside his private dressing room and chased off “The Best in the World” with steel chair in hand.
In the aftermath of the match, Reigns found himself pulverized by a Claymore from McIntyre while The A-Lister tracked down Shane in the backstage area and went to town, blistering the former Team Blue Commissioner with several swings of the chair. Unfortunately for Miz, Shane fought him off with a low blow and managed to escape in his private limo, leaving The Awesome One’s quest for retribution unfinished for now. Call it a narrow victory for Reigns’ rivals, though they’d be wise to keep things in perspective: After all, this “Wild Card Rule” goes The Usos strike again and Sullivan rears his head on Raw
The Usos’ prank war against The Revival continues to be a one-sided affair, as Jimmy & Jey followed up their shower-cam footage from last week by filling Dash & Dawson’s trunks with sweat-activated “Ucey Hot” cream that fired up just moments before the “Top Guys” were scheduled to face Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson. It turned out exactly like you might imagine, as The Revival frantically ran about the stage and eventually exited before their match began.
Less jovial was the arrival of No Way Jose moments later, as The Dominican Dancing Machine was interrupted by a wild-eyed Lars Sullivan, who took advantage of the “Wild Card Rule” to wreak havoc on Raw. The Freak made short work of Jose and his conga line, leaving beads and human burgers and one particularly unfortunate human hot dog in his wake as he forged a one-man path of destruction. A brief rally by Jose was summarily snuffed out, and The Freak finished his business with a running sit-out powerbomb.
You will note that Lars Sullivan is the fifth SmackDown Superstar to appear on Raw, despite Mr. McMahon setting a very clear cap at three. But as The Chairman explained backstage on a telephone call, Elias doesn’t count because he accompanied Shane McMahon, and as for Lars after a wordless confrontation with The Freak in which Sullivan simply stared down The Chairman, Mr. McMahon decided to change it to four Superstars apiece. Clearly, even among wild cards, Lars Sullivan stands alone.
Bryan takes Kingston to the limit in WrestleMania rematch for the WWE Title
There would have been no bigger way for Daniel Bryan to reclaim the mantle of The Planet’s Champion – and the bully pulpit that goes with it – than by dethroning Kofi Kingston on Night One of the “Wild Card Rule” in Raw’s first true WWE Title Match since 2016 but The Power of Positivity is not quite done just yet. The Dreadlocked Dynamo’s miracle run continues, despite a fearsome effort from The Beard that nearly sapped all the pancake power out of Kingston thanks to a rough landing over the ropes and a targeted attack on Kofi’s arms.
With Kofi worn down from Bryan’s strikes and submissions, the champion was deer-in-headlights helpless against a Running Knee. But a wobbly-legged Kingston dodged the maneouver, wormed his way out of a LeBell Lock and connected with Trouble in Paradise to the jaw, grounding Bryan for three and keeping the magic alive. History made again. Bryan thwarted again. And now it can happen anyplace at anytime. It’s a new day, yes it is.
Which Money in the Bank alliances will hold?
Braun Strowman, Baron Corbin, Drew McIntyre, Ricochet. All four have a chance to become the new Mr. Money in the Bank, and while it may seem like alliances and rivalries are starting to form, keep in mind we have a long way to go.
For instance, Strowman and Ricochet were pretty chummy this past week, but it’s hard to imagine The Monster Among Men putting a temporary partnership over his quest to once again become Mr. Monster in the Bank. And while McIntyre at Corbin are at loggerheads, it’s possible each will take an enemy-of-my-enemy-is-my-friend view of things if it gets them closer to the contract. The point is, take nothing for granted.