Nita Strauss Recaps ‘Monday Night Raw’ Insanity Following WrestleMania 34
Nita Strauss is one of this era's bona fide guitar heroes: for the past few years, she's been playing guitar in Alice Cooper's band, she's become the first female artist to get a signature Ibanez guitar, she recently graced the cover of Guitar Player, and she now has a regular column in Guitar World. She recently announced her upcoming solo album on Kickstarter, where she has more than tripled her fundraising goal of $20,000 in just a couple of days. (Read our interview with Nita about the album here.) Clearly her fans are seriously looking forward to hearing what she can do on her own. This past weekend, she put down her guitar - for a little while, anyway - to cover WrestleMania for Loudwire. And last night, she covered the post-WrestleMania RAW. Here's how it went:
Arguably as important as Mania itself to serious wrestling fans, the episode of Monday Night Raw that follows WrestleMania tends to be a night of surprises. New performers get called up from the developmental league NXT, veterans return to the ring after long and usually injury related absences and the start of the year's storylines begin to fall into place.
The event started with a slideshow of WrestleMania moments, including one of me (!!!!) and then a recap of one of the best matches of Mania: Triple H and Stephanie McMahon vs. Ronda Rousey and Kurt Angle. If you missed my Mania recap (read it here!), Stephanie McMahon plays a perfect "heel" (a "heel" is a villain, in wrestling terms.) Stephanie came out to the ring on Raw wearing a cast on her wrist and playing the heartless boss perfectly. Ronda joined her in the ring and shook her hand, then almost immediately put her into a vicious looking armbar, culminating in ripping the cast off and tossing it on the floor to a huge reaction from the crowd, who chanted "YOU TAPPED OUT" gleefully to Stephanie. An awesome start to the night.
Next up was the women's tag team match. After Alexa Bliss made some mean-girl style remarks about Champion Nia Jax's weight, NXT star Ember Moon made her WWE debut as Jax's surprise tag team partner. Moon's charisma and talent in the ring made the short match a joy to watch.
Braun Strowman and the kid he pulled out of the crowd to be his tag team partner relinquished their titles. Good. That angle made no sense.
No Way Jose made his WWE debut, and they put him over (in other words, they made him look good) by having him defeat some poor no-name wrestler and leave in a conga line, high-fiving the crowd, including my boyfriend Josh, which apparently made it on TV.
The Tag Team elimination tournament was announced. It's a two-week tournament, which gives The Bar a chance to win their titles back at the Greatest Royal Rumble. With the call ups from NXT, the tag team division is looking more interesting.
Speaking of NXT and tag teams, The Revival came up and put a solid beating on Anderson and Gallows. The Authors of Pain also came up and made quick work of Rhyno and poor Heath Slater and his kids. The match didn't leave as big of an impression on me as their exit did, as AoP stopped their longtime manager Paul Ellering from leaving with them, and left the ring alone. It was a surprisingly emotional moment for a couple of newcomers, and it definitely left me curious to see what they'll do next.
Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn have to give up their team and battle each other for a single spot on the roster, which was ended in a count out, meaning that neither man won the spot. The unlikely tag team of Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt defeated Titus Worldwide in one of the most entertaining matches of the night- made fun by the crowd interaction with Matt Hardy. "WOOOONDERFULLLL," 18,000 people shouted in unison.
Mandy Rose defeated Sasha Banks with some (maybe) not-so-accidental sabotage by Bayley. The entire segment was overshadowed by Paige, who announced her retirement after the match ended. With tears in her eyes, she thanked the WWE organization, fans, and women's division, ending her speech with "This will always be MY HOUSE." The crowd chanted "This is your house" as she left. I may have shed an actual tear.
Elias and his guitar playing were interrupted by the return of Bobby Lashley. Lashley got a huge crowd reaction, and the match was quick, but fun to watch.
Samoa Joe burst in on Roman Reigns as Roman complained about the state of WWE and how he has to find out about his own matches from the internet. Whoever said wrestling was fake? A lot of Roman's words sounded very heartfelt tonight and I wouldn't be surprised if there was some very real frustration mixed in here.
The final match of the night was, in this writer's opinion, the best actual match. Seth Rollins, Finn Balor, and surprise partner Jeff Hardy took on the always entertaining Miz and the Miztourage. Miz is a great heel (remember that term?) and always gets the crowd fired up. Jeff Hardy's acrobatic work was superb as always and the enthusiasm of the crowd played a huge part. A great win by a very strange tag team.
Overall, the energy of the Raw after WrestleMania is what makes it fun. It's not often that you get the biggest fans from countries all over the world converging on a single event, and that's what makes WrestleMania weekend so unique. It's definitely something special to witness and be a part of. Overall, the storylines for 2018 are shaping up to be fun and exciting, and I can't wait to see what they come up with next.
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