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Credit: WWE.com

The Superstar Shake-up left WWE Raw unrecognizable. After all the additions and roster moves on Monday’s show, the red brand felt like a whole new show.

Jinder Mahal, Kevin Owens, Baron Corbin, Natalya and Breezango were among the SmackDown stars to jump to Team Red.

In many cases, Raw brought in SmackDown’s lesser talent, midcarders with little momentum to speak of. We may see a number of these wrestlers find new life in a new environment. For the moment, though, Raw’s Shake-up shifts were more about quantity over quality.

Monday’s Raw also touched on the Backlash pay-per-view on May 6 and next week’s Greatest Royal Rumble in a fast-moving episode. Rivalries intensified in Hartford, Connecticut, on a busy night.

Read on for a breakdown of the latest Raw as the first stages of the Superstar Shake-up unfolded.

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Sunil Singh cut Kurt Angle’s introduction short to announce Mahal’s arrival to Raw.

The United States champ demanded to be treated like Brock Lesnar. He claimed to be the best wrestler on the brand. Angle forced him to defend his title against Jeff Hardy.

Mahal overwhelmed Hardy early on, pounding on the high-flyer with strikes. A methodical offense kept Hardy down.

Hardy responded with a flurry, and although his legs were wobbly throughout, the challenger was able to take down the champ with a Swanton Bomb.

Backstage, Mahal said he wanted his rematch at the Greatest Royal Rumble. No Way Jose danced by him and annoyed the former titleholder.

Result

Hardy wins via to claim the United States Championship.

Memorable Moments and Quotes

  • “It’s now Monday Night Maharaja.”—Corey Graves.
  • “I’m already better than any Superstar than you have on Raw.”—Mahal.
  • Angle says his email address is “kurt.angle@nofreakingway.com.”
  • A loud chant of “You suck!” breaks out.

Grade

B

Analysis 

A title match kicking things off was a fun move even if Mahal is one of the least exciting guys on the roster. 

The Maharaja and Hardy had a solid bout. The former isn’t ever going to tear down the house but held his own here. He returns to Raw a new man, his push on SmackDown upping his value.

Even so, the United States Championship scene gets a major upgrade with Hardy holding the crown. 

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Sasha Banks and Bayley’s bout began with ample aggression, each woman going full speed. They traded the advantage until a spill to the outside slowed Bayley.

The match devolved into a brawl.

When it looked as if Banks had Bayley dead to rights, The Riott Squad stormed in. The faction laid out both competitors. 

Result

The match ends in a no-contest.

Memorable Moments and Quotes

  • Bayley slips off the ropes during a crossbody attempt.
  • Bayley dives through the ropes and hits a hurricanrana on the floor.
  • Banks knees Bayley into the ring post.
  • “I’m better than you, Bayley!”—Banks.

Grade

A-

Analysis 

Banks and Bayley gave us just enough to whet our appetite for their eventual PPV showdown. Their bad blood pulsed on the screen and they created some strong drama even if this wasn’t their crispest performance against each other.

The Riott Squad is a welcome addition to Raw. The stable wasn’t used to its full potential on SmackDown and now they can battle Banks, Bayley and a whole host of new rivals.

This is a chance to give the trio the direction it has been missing.

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Heath Slater and Rhyno jumped on The Authors of Pain before the bell rang. They briefly had Akam reeling, but the powerhouses soon took control. 

The Last Chapter spelled Slater and Rhyno’s doom in a short contest.

Memorable Moments and Quotes

  • “I know Heath Slater’s got kids. I sure hope he has good medical insurance.”—Graves.
  • The Authors of Pain crush Slater with a double-team gutbuster.

Grade

C

Analysis 

In this solid, brief slugfest, Slater and Rhyno surprisingly weren’t made to look like pushovers. Their aggression and quick demise after their hot start worked to play up The Authors of Pain as a powerful force.

The Authors of Pain are a championship-caliber team that continues to get better. WWE would be smart to give them a Bludgeon Brothers-type path.   

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The Miz talked up Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens, the newest members of Raw. 

Angle came out to explain that Zayn and Owens weren’t actually on the roster. Zayn read an email from Stephanie McMahon that stated the heels earned their place on Raw.

The GM told The Miz he was heading to SmackDown sans The Miztourage, but not before wrestling in a 10-man tag later in the night.

Memorable Moments and Quotes

  • “This is bigger and better than the NWO. We have more talent than the 1992 Olympic dream team.”—The Miz.
  • Zayn dons reading glasses and hams it up as he reads an email.

Grade

B-

Analysis 

In classic WWE style, the company followed a high-stakes match to decide whether Zayn and Owens would join Raw with a decision to add them both via a deus ex machina plot device. That made for a clunky resolution.

Kudos to Zayn for making reading an email on live TV so entertaining, however.

Owens and Zayn will be a valuable addition to Raw. The Miz heading back to SmackDown sets up the eventual blood feud between Daniel Bryan and The Miz. The blue brand will now have a Feud of the Year candidate to build around.

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Bray Wyatt spooked Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder with his trademark shtick. He then took it to The Revival with a hard-hitting offense.

Matt Hardy soon found himself in trouble, though. The Revival kept him in the wrong corner and worked him over.

Result

Hardy and Wyatt win via pinfall to face The Bar at The Greatest Royal Rumble for the Raw Tag Team Championship.

Memorable Moments and Quotes

  • “The name Nicholas should never be mentioned ever again.”—Cesaro.
  • Hardy and Wyatt hit a two-man version of the Twist of Fate.

Grade

C-

Analysis 

The ongoing merging of Wyatt and Hardy’s gimmicks has big potential if WWE goes all in. It can’t be a surface-level act. It has to be balls-to-the-wall weird.

Wyatt, Leatherface apron notwithstanding, looked tremendous. The tag team has clearly energized him.

Michael Cole’s indignant attitude about the Hardy “woken” stuff adds nothing. It makes zero sense to have the voice of the company undercut an act.

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Nia Jax joined the commentary team for Mickie James vs. Ember Moon. Alexa Bliss cut a promo from backstage about Jax being a bully.

James kept Moon grounded and taunted her while she was down. A series of kicks got the former NXT women’s champ going. The Eclipse was the final blow of Moon’s barrage and was good enough to get her the victory.

Result

Moon wins via pinfall.

Memorable Moments and Quotes

  • James yanks Moon off the top rope and scores a near-fall.

Grade

D+

Analysis 

Bliss’ promo was strange. She’s clearly trying to play the victim in this story but the dynamic didn’t click and she didn’t feel particularly villainous. 

The announcers did a good job of selling The Eclipse as a big-time finisher.

The match itself was fine. It got Moon a win. There weren’t a ton of highlights to savor, though.

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Dolph Ziggler’s speech didn’t last long. Titus Worldwide cut in as Titus O’Neil offered him a spot in the group.

The Showoff revealed that he brought Drew McIntyre along with him. Ziggler and McIntyre thrashed O’Neil, Apollo and Dana Brooke.

Memorable Moments and Quotes

  • “You’re what we like to call a multi-platform Superstar.”—O’Neil.
  • Fans chant “McIntytre!”
  • Ziggler and McIntyre hit the Zig-Zag and the Claymore at the same time.

Grade

B-

Analysis 

McIntyre ranks as arguably the best addition for Raw during the entire Superstar Shake-up. He transformed himself into a main event star since his first WWE run. 

He’s a more over act than Ziggler at this point. He doesn’t need The Showoff. The Scotsman will outgrow this pairing in a hurry.

Hopefully, these heels don’t tangle with Titus Worldwide for an extended period. There are far better stories to tell with McIntyre and Ziggler. 

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Roman Reigns took a shot at Brock Lesnar for not being around. He promised to beat him at The Greatest Royal Rumble. Samoa Joe, though, emerged to tear down The Big Dog.

He reminded Reigns of his recent failures and promised to put him away at Backlash.

After a clip recapping Lesnar’s feud with Reigns, Joe teased a fight with his rival. The Samoan Submission Machine opted to head up the entrance ramp instead.

Memorable Moments and Quotes

  • Fans chant “Roman sucks!”
  • “You haven’t got the job done and you never will.”—Joe.
  • Joe promises to “put The Big Dog to sleep.”

Grade

B

Analysis 

This version of Reigns, complete with man bun and gold chain, is closer to his ideal incarnation. 

Joe is a stellar talker and that was evident again here. His verbal body shot to Reigns were entertaining to no one’s surprise.

Reigns’ feud with Lesnar is a low-energy detour from the more intriguing Reigns vs. Joe tale that is developing.

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Natalya palled around with Ronda Rousey backstage. Angle welcomed her to Raw before her match against Mandy Rose.

Rose had to play defense early on as Natalya clubbed her on the mat. It took a slight distraction from Sonya Deville to get her on track.

Natalya used the Sharpshooter to put away her foe in a hurry.

Deville ambushed Natalya afterward. Rousey came charging in to chase off the heels. She cracked Deville with a barrage of punches before walking Natalya to the backstage area.

Result

Natalya wins via submission.

Memorable Moments and Quotes

  • “Who do you think you are? What are you doing here?”—Rose.

Grade

C+

Analysis 

The match fell flat. There was too much mid-match talking and Rose’s high knee outside the ring was way off. And heel-on-heel matches often lack spark as this one did.

The Rousey moment, however, was a blast as she was made to look like a badass again. 

Natalya appears to be in line for a babyface turn. An alliance with Rousey would be beneficial to both women. Natalya needs a new element to her character and Rousey could use a veteran to lean on.

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Backstage, Breezango bumped into The Bar and made fun of their fashion sense.

Fandango danced himself out of trouble against Cesaro. The Bar then began to punish Tyler Breeze, wearing him out with power moves and haymakers. 

Breeze surprised the former tag champs, though, with a roll-up on Cesaro.

Result

Breezango wins via pinfall.

Memorable Moments and Quotes

  • “These outfits. There’s no theme. Everything just clashes.”—Breeze.
  • Fandango begins the match by putting on Cesaro’s jacket.
  • Cesaro swats Breeze out of the sky with a thunderous uppercut.

Grade

B-

Analysis 

Breezango is a great get for Raw. They were the best part of SmackDown for a stretch.

This bout was a good mix of comedy and action. And while WWE has already done the “shocking upset over The Bar” bit recently, but going back to it was a smart way to welcome Breezango. They are best suited to be plucky underdogs who can score a big win if things fall their way that night.

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Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, The Miz and The Miztourage joined forces on Monday's Raw.

Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, The Miz and The Miztourage joined forces on Monday’s Raw.Credit: WWE.com

Bobby Lashley, Seth Rollins, Finn Balor, Braun Strowman and Bobby Roode vs. Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, The Miz, Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas.

Roode revealed himself as the babyface team’s mystery partner. 

Rollins took it to Owens in the early going. The Miz and his squad was able to gain control by focusing on Balor. Lashley soon went on a tear to even things up.

Strowman clobbered everyone in sight before a chaotic stretch unfolded as everyone got involved, fighting in and out of the ring. 

The Miztourage turned on The Miz, abandoning him mid-match. That left The Miz along to face Strowman’s wrath and take the three-count.

Result

Lashley, Rollins, Balor, Strowman and Roode win via pinfall.

Memorable Moments and Quotes

  • “Monday Night Raw just got glorious!”—Graves.
  • “Go back to SmackDown!”—Owens.
  • Lashley hurls The Miz out of the ring onto The Miztourage.
  • Strowman floors The Miz with a running dropkick.

Grade

B-

Analysis 

Roode is not a thrilling addition by any means. He was largely one-dimensional on SmackDown and will need some adjustments to his act to make a real impact on Raw.

This was no classic bout, but instead a bustling convergence of talent that got a lot of people involved. Lashley and Strowman got their moments. The Miztourage’s betrayal of The Miz was an intriguing touch. 

What happens next with Axel and Dallas is an under-the-radar storyline heading out of the Superstark Shake-up. It would be a shame for them to go back to bench-warming after growing alongside The A-Lister.

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