British superstar Paige announced her retirement and Ronda Rousey punished Stephanie McMahon during a night of surprises on Raw.
The post-WrestleMania edition of WWE’s flagship show is always a special occasion and last night in New Orleans lived up to expectations.
But the events were tinged with sadness as England’s Paige was forced to call time on her short but spectacular career due to her neck injury.
Paige, real name Saraya-Jade Bevis, made history in Louisiana by winning the Divas title aged just 21 on the Raw after WrestleMania 30 in 2014.
Four years later, the now 25-year-old, from Norwich, was forced to say goodbye to the business she grew up in as part of the famous Knight family.
In an emotional speech, Paige thanked her colleagues and said wrestling had been her life, but now she was going to have to find something else.
The former NXT Champion burst into tears as a predominantly British crowd chanted a reworked version of her catchphrase: “This is your house.”
Paige replied: “This will always be my house.”
Earlier in the night, Ronda Rousey wrecked Stephanie McMahon’s arm again to kick off the post-WrestleMania 34 edition of Monday Night Raw.
The day after teaming with Kurt Angle to defeat Steph and her husband Triple H at the Show of Shows, Ronda made a big statement.
Stephanie hit the ring to berate the crowd, praise her own performance and then put over Ronda and talk of what they could achieve together.
As the audience chanted in disapproval, the Raw commissioner hugged the former UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion, who played along.
But her face turned and she quickly dropped Stephanie and locked in the armbar, as her boss screamed in pain and tapped out once again.
WWE is portraying Rousey as a ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin-style, badass rebel at war with management – and so far it’s working a treat.
The action got underway with new Raw Women’s Champion Nia Jax set for a tag team match involving ex-champ Alexa Bliss and Mickie James.
Bliss again bullied Jax about her weight and blamed her beatdown of James at Mania for causing her “emotional distress” before she lost her title.
She said Jax wouldn’t have a tag team partner, but out came the former NXT Women’s Champion Ember Moon to great fanfare.
Moon showcased her athletic ability as she won the match by pinning Bliss clean after hitting her spectacular Eclipse diving corkscrew stunner.
Braun Strowman and Nicholas – the 10-year-old boy he chose as his partner when winning the Raw tag team titles at Mania – appeared backstage.
Strowman informed Kurt Angle they were relinquishing the titles because Nicholas had a “scheduling conflict” as he is still in the fourth grade.
Nicholas promised to one day return and said he would come for his titles with whoever was holding them set to “get these hands!”
Another NXT talent made his debut as No Way Jose danced his way to the ring and defeated a local performer with a Knockout punch.
Angle then told former Raw Tag Team Champion Sheamus and Cesaro they would get their rematch at the Greatest Royal Rumble in Saudi Arabia.
He said a four-team “tag team eliminator” would be held to determine their opponents, with The Revival then defeating Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson.
New Intercontinental Champion Seth Rollins cut a good promo as he celebrated becoming a grand slam champion, but was interrupted by Finn Balor and The Miz.
Miz, backed by the Miztourage, said losing his title at Mania made his new daughter and his wife Maryse cry, which made him cry, and booked a rematch at Backlash.
Jeff Hardy returned to a great ovation, signalling that one of WWE’s underused top tier talents is now going to be competing solo without his brother Matt.
Bayley inadvertently cost Sasha Banks a bout with Absolution’s Mandy Rose, before Paige’s speech, which also mentioned the inspirational Daniel Bryan ad Edge.
The popular Elias played his guitar and milked the adoration of the unique Mania crowd, before former ECW World Heavyweight Champion Lashley hit the ring.
After a big pop, The Destroyer lived up to his nickname, as the ex-TNA World Heavyweight Champion hit a massive delayed vertical suplex – with one hand!
Backstage, Angle talked about next week’s two-night Superstar Shakeup and was approached by Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn, begging for a
Coming off the appearance of Lashley, who left Impact Wrestling in January, Angle quipped to gasps: “My tag team division is full, but I hear that TNA is hiring.”
He said Owens and Zayn could earn a Raw contract in a singles match later in the evening, which duly proved to be the match of the night.
In the meantime, Heath Slater and Rhyno issued an open challenge to anyone in the back, but were greeted by former NXT Tag Team Champions The Authors of Pain.
Akam and Rezar demolished Slater with the Last Chapter then appeared to split up with their legendary manager Paul Ellering, of Legion of Doom/Road Warriors fame.
A battered and bruised Roman Reigns cut a shoot style promo, in which he hinted that he was never told he was going to lose to Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania.
While he discussed the loss and his impending rematch for the Universal Championship in a steel cage at the Greatest Royal Rumble, Samoa Joe arrived.
In the best promo of his WWE career to date, Joe said Reigns was a failure who lied to the fans, his family and himself and couldn’t accept that Brock had his number.
He said he would face Reigns at Backlash and that he would put him to sleep.
Titus O’Neill and Apollo were eliminated from the tag team tournament by a mystery duo that turned out to be the impressive new alliance of ‘Woken’ Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt.
Owens and Zayn fought to a draw in a cracking match, displaying their trademark chemistry and pulling out all the stops with the chance of a
After surviving each other’s finishers and countering all they could muster, neither man could get up from a fisherman’s buster suplex and they both lost the opportunity.
Following a hilarious encounter between Jeff and Matt Hardy backstage, which included Bray Wyatt hugging “Brother Nero”, we were treated to a fun main event.
Rollins, Balor and Hardy toppled The Miz and The Miztourage after Seth hit a Stomp on Miz, and then they ran through their signature moves on Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas.
Post-match, the three babyfaces celebrated in the ring. But who among them will be left on Raw after the Superstar Shakeup?