The April 23, 2018 Edition of RAW is a Professional wrestling television show of the WWE's RAW brand, which took place on April 23, 2018 at Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Missouri. This was the 1,300th episode of Raw and the final Raw before the Greatest Royal Rumble.
The last time the WWE Universe saw Brock Lesnar, he elbowed Roman Reigns into a gory defeat at WrestleMania to retain the Universal Championship. One day later, he signed a new contract with a surprising proviso: That The Beast would defend his title against Reigns once again in a Steel Cage at the Greatest Royal Rumble event. Now, five days before the showdown in Saudi Arabia, we found out how both Superstars feel about it.
Brock, unsurprisingly, remains unworried. As Paul Heyman explained, it’s his job to gloat. Lesnar simply attacks. And during his contract negotiations, he used his biggest bargaining chip — the Universal Title — to force the Cage Match stipulation specifically because it was the closest thing to a UFC fight that the former cage-fighter could select. Now, with the ink dry on his contract and a home-field advantage of sorts, The Beast had one more objective in mind: To “shred Roman Reigns to pieces” and send him back to the States in “multiple boxes.”
Also unsurprisingly, Reigns was equally unworried. Despite his loss at WrestleMania (to say nothing of the looming threat of Samoa Joe at WWE Backlash), Reigns confronted The Conqueror with a simple promise to his longtime enemy — that no matter how he returned from Saudi Arabia, he would have the title with him — and made his exit in confident fashion. That may not be enough to convince the crowing Heyman that a Lesnar victory is anything but a foregone conclusion, but if there’s one thing this series has taught us, it’s that nobody knows what’s going to happen, and it may well be Reigns who leaves Saudi Arabia as the spoiler.
Getting upstaged by Bobby Lashley led Elias to declare himself a healthy scratch for last week’s Raw, but Team Red’s resident wanderer was certainly not about to let his spotlight be stolen twice. After the heavenly strains of Bobby Roode’s theme song cut off Elias’ traditional pre-match performance, Elias notched an impressive in-ring victory at the expense of The Glorious One.
That's a big feather in Elias' cap, but it was also something of a rude awakening (so to speak) for the former United States Champion, who never seemed to think that the match was slipping away from him no matter how tough Elias hung down the stretch. As Booker T put it on commentary, Roode cut off his attack at several points to "admire his own handiwork," and that showmanship ended up leaving him open to some good old fashioned chicanery from Elias, who rammed Roode’s shoulder against the ropes to weaken him for a match-ending rollup. So Elias gets his groove back, while Roode’s Raw singles debut is somewhat less than glorious. Given that both Superstars are confirmed for the Greatest Royal Rumble Match, however, there may be another verse yet to this particular ballad.
Having dispatched The Revival last week to earn a bout against Cesaro & Sheamus for the vacant Raw Tag Team Championship at the Greatest Royal Rumble event, “Woken” Matt Hardy & Bray Wyatt turned their focus to The Ascension, making their Team Red return after coming over from SmackDown LIVE in the Superstar Shake-up.
The matchup was somewhat crucial to “The Deleter of Worlds’” preparation: If you’re looking for a team that can match The Bar’s physical prowess, Konnor & Viktor certainly fit the bill. And the former NXT Tag Team Champions put an undoubtable hurting on their opponents, pummeling Hardy into the corner while Wyatt was stranded on the apron.
Much like last week, however, The New Face of Fear’s entry into the match proved to be the turning point. He dispatched an interfering Konnor with Sister Abigail, leaving Viktor ripe for the picking of a wonderful tag team finishing maneuver. Now, having outsmarted the brains of The Revival and overcome the brawn of The Ascension, it’s time to see how Raw’s fastest-rising tag team fares when faced with both at once.
Last week, Dolph Ziggler returned to Raw in the Superstar Shake-up with Drew McIntyre in tow, much to the detriment of Titus Worldwide. And as it turns out, Titus O’Neil & Apollo Crews won’t be getting any retribution for their derailed scouting trip anytime soon, as Ziggler & McIntyre soundly dispatched the two Superstars in a match stemming from last week’s confrontation.
Not only was Ziggler & McIntyre’s tag team on point — Apollo was subjected to a superkick-Alabama Slam combo before suffering the Claymore-Zig Zag one-two for the pinfall — they made no bones about their aspirations going forward, with McIntyre claiming he was the “wake-up call” for a complacent locker room and Ziggler (emboldened now that someone “has his back”) declaring the team wouldn’t steal the show because they were the show. Michael Cole’s prediction that Ziggler & McIntyre would change the entire balance of Raw may have seemed bold on first glance, but if this night was any indication, the former champions will clearly settle for nothing less.
Jinder Mahal and Chad Gable both have an uphill battle ahead of them. Mahal, still reeling from his United States Title loss to Jeff Hardy last week and facing his rematch at the Greatest Royal Rumble event, opened his evening by demanding to be sent back to SmackDown LIVE. Gable, meanwhile, is on the cusp of his first proper singles run — Kurt Angle was adamant that he didn’t bring Gable to Raw to re-team with Jason Jordan once he gets better — and has a lot to prove as a result. Though, after tonight, he might have a little less.
It was fitting that a backstage confrontation in Angle’s office between the two Superstars led to a match, and it was also fitting that Jinder jumped Gable before the contest even began. The Modern Day Maharaja clearly thought Gable would pose little threat after his sneak attack — Sunil Singh never even got involved — but the former SmackDown Tag Team Champion showed that a little grit goes a long way when he hooked Mahal’s leg as he attempted the Khallas, stopping The Maharaja's victory march cold.
Still in Mahal's clutches, Gable ran up the turnbuckle in order to roll up the former U.S. Champion and notch a three-count that left Jinder fuming in the ring for the second week straight. That, too, was fitting: Gable will clearly make the most of his chances. When it comes to the United States Title, Mahal might be facing his last.
Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn found an unlikely champion in Raw Commissioner Stephanie McMahon, but their stick-it-to-the-man attitude might not fly quite like it did on SmackDown LIVE. Their insults of Raw General Manager Kurt Angle during the debut of “The Sami & Kevin Show” landed KO & Zayn in a match against Braun Strowman & Bobby Lashley, and despite the prodigious gifts of the former Universal and NXT Champions, the bout went more or less like you would expect it to.
Strowman & Lashley’s strength advantage was evident from the very start, and it forced Owens & Sami to get creative to stay in the fight. While their cat-and-mouse routine in the early goings went nowhere, Owens got in a cheap shot on Lashley on the outside in order to give Zayn some breathing room. Their strategy turned to keeping Braun Strowman out of the match at all costs, but The Dominator eventually reached The Monster Among Men, and then all bets were off.
Strowman’s progression to victory was ruthless and unstoppable. He pulverized Zayn and blasted the meddling Owens with a pair of shoulder tackles and a T-Rex Dropkick until KO was out of the equation. Lashley tagged in momentarily to drop Zayn with a stalling suplex, and The Gift of Destruction closed the book with a Running Powerslam. Stephanie may have gone over Angle’s head to bring Owens & Zayn to Raw, but between this and the Greatest Royal Rumble Match (Angle helpfully reminded them that he, Daniel Bryan and Chris Jericho will all be in the Greatest Royal Rumble Match along with KO & Zayn) the troublemaking duo may well soon find they’re in over theirs.
No Way Jose is all about battling adversity through an upbeat attitude. He’ll need one after what happened to him on Raw.
The Dominican Dancing Machine had been scheduled to face Baron Corbin in his Raw return post-Superstar Shake-up, but The Lone Wolf decided not to bother. For one, he would only accept “serious competition”; for another, he wasn’t about to play into Jose’s good-times mentality when he only enjoys spoiling everyone else’s fun. More practically, Corbin wasn’t going to risk Jose’s conga line jumping him, leading to a massive numbers disadvantage that would surely cost him the match.
With Corbin out of the picture, Jose attempted to start the dance party back up, but The Lone Wolf resurfaced right when Jose made his way to the top of the ramp, blasting No Way from behind, throwing him into the LED board and planting him with a chokeslam-backbreaker. With Jose’s hot start stopped in its tracks, Corbin’s second Raw run begins much as his first one did: Indiscriminate destruction and the only smile in the room plastered across his face.
With The Miz having been Superstar Shaken back to SmackDown LIVE, The Miztourage are men without a country. And after their attempts to join up with both Seth Rollins and Finn Bálor went nowhere, Bo Dallas & Curtis Axel decided to prove their worth the old-fashioned way: By facing Rollins and Finn in a tag team match. It didn’t quite work out.
To be fair, however, The Miztourage showed off much of the in-ring acumen that led Miz to recruit them in the first place. Bálor found himself isolated in the early goings, but Rollins changed the match the second he tagged in, flying across the ring before stomping Axel and launching himself over the top rope to take out Dallas with a crossbody on the outside.
Finn provided the finishing touch — the Coup de Grâce, if you will — on The Axe Man, and that was that for a solid team-up between Seth & Finn. They make a solid tandem, but given that they’ll face off in a Ladder Match for the Intercontinental Title on Friday (along with Miz and Samoa Joe), it’s safe to call this partnership one of convenience.
Ronda Rousey made her presence felt at the end of a 10-Woman Tag Team Match that pitted Raw Women’s Champion Nia Jax, Natalya, Ember Moon, Sasha Banks & Bayley (still not quite meshing together) against Alexa Bliss (who evoked her rematch clause against Jax for WWE Backlash in a faux-PSA about the dangers of “bullying”), Mickie James & The Riott Squad that Raw GM Kurt Angle had sanctioned in order to give the female Superstars the same spotlight the men had received the previous week.
Much like the men’s match, it was an epic free-for-all. Moon was a force of nature, putting a hurting on Riott Squad member Liv Morgan that culminated in a massive suicide dive (Sarah Logan dragged Liv to safety before The War Goddess could follow up), and Natalya found herself taken out of the match after a chop block from Logan. Chaos broke out after Jax was attacked by the entire opposing team, but James extracted herself from the fray to attack the recovering Queen of Harts with a baseball slide.
That ambush was what finally drew Rousey to her training partner’s aid, and while Ronda didn’t seem interested in throwing down initially, another baseball slide to Rousey’s back landed Mickie square in the clutches of The Baddest Woman on the Planet. Rousey responded to Mickie’s attacks by wrenching James into an armbar that led to a disqualification (though, ironically, Mickie furiously tapped out to the hold) before helping Natalya back up the ramp. A win will go in Mickie’s record book as a result of all this. But that armbar will be what she remembers.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Elias defeated Bobby Roode (11:15)
- Matt Hardy & Bray Wyatt defeated The Ascension (Konnor & Viktor) (3:55)
- Dolph Ziggler & Drew McIntyre defeated Titus Worldwide (Titus O'Neil & Apollo Crews) (w/ Dana Brooke) (2:05)
- Chad Gable defeated Jinder Mahal (w/ Sunil Singh) (8:50)
- Bobby Lashley & Braun Strowman defeated Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn (12:05)
- Seth Rollins & Finn Bálor defeated Bo Dallas & Curtis Axel (4:55)
- Alexa Bliss, Mickie James & The Riott Squad (Ruby Riott, Sarah Logan & Liv Morgan) defeated Sasha Banks, Bayley, Nia Jax, Ember Moon & Natalya by disqualification (15:20)
Other on-screen talent