While WrestleMania has deservedly earned its reputation as the biggest sports entertainment event of the year, another event has a similar following: The episode of Raw immediately following WrestleMania.WWE has often leveraged “The Red Brand” for major announcements after ‘Mania, and last night was no exception, as several Superstars made their first appearance on the show. Many NXT superstars made the move to Raw on Monday, including tag-team The Authors of Pain and hilarious fan-favorite No Way Jose (who, of course, came out leading a conga line). The biggest NXT debut of the night, however, was former NXT Women’s Champion Ember Moon, who teamed up with current Raw Women’s Champion Nia Jax to defeat Mickie James and Alexa Bliss. Moon successfully struck Bliss with an Eclipse for the pin.


Monday night also featured surprise returns. After Roman Reigns appealed to the crowd following his surprising defeat to Brock Lesnar on Sunday, Reigns was met with none other than Samoa Joe, who told Reigns he would humiliate him once and for all at Backlash next month. Jeff Hardy also returned after being out for months due to shoulder injury, assisting Seth Rollins and Finn Bálor against The Miz and his Miztourage.


The most shocking return last night, however, was 10 years in the making. During a musical interlude, Elias received a surprise guest: two-time ECW Champion Bobby Lashley, making his first WWE appearance after 10 years in MMA and independent circuits. As one would expect, Lashley greeted Elias by holding him up one-handed and slamming him down. One can only hope Lashley has a match with Brock Lesnar in his future.


Unfortunately, one of the biggest events of the night was something many fans were hoping they would never hear. In a heartfelt speech, Paige announced that she had been forced to retire from competition and would be leaving WWE due to neck injuries. While she said in her speech that Daniel Bryan’s recent return to the ring makes her hopeful that she may be cleared someday, for now she needs to do “something else.” The audience made sure Paige was aware of her impact on the WWE Universe by chanting “This is your house!” as she ended her speech.


Also: Braun Strowman sadly relinquished the Tag-Team Championship belt, because his partner—a 10-year-old named Nicholas, whom Strowman summoned from the WrestleMania 34 crowd—had “scheduling conflicts.” (He’s still in fourth grade.) And when Stephanie McMahon attempted to apologize to Ronda Rousey for her match the day prior, Rousey responded as she often does: by putting McMahon in an armbar.


The good news: The surprises don’t end after last night. Next week is set to be a “Superstar Shake-Up,” in which Raw and SmackDown will trade a number of talents between brands. We can’t wait to see the changes to the status quo.

Ronda Rousey at WrestleMania 34

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