WWE Raw Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from April 25

Ryan Dilbert@@ryandilbertWWE Lead WriterApril 26, 2016

WWE Raw Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from April 25

0 of 11

    Credit: WWE.com

    Ahead of Payback, WWE Raw cranked up the intensity on a number of feuds.

    AJ Styles vs. Roman Reigns, Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn and Chris Jericho vs. Dean Ambrose all intensified by the end of the night. In many cases, stories that had been dragging along suddenly picked up speed. 

    WWE finally explained to the non-NXT-watching audience why Zayn and Owens hate each other so much. It had Jericho and Ambrose brawl. It added intrigue to the tale of Reigns fending off Styles, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson.

    For the most part, WWE nailed the go-home show. But an inane narrative involving Shane McMahon and the continued shortchanging of the women were its low points.

    Picking apart those moments and the rest of the matches and segments on Monday's Raw, let's dive into what worked and what flopped on the last Raw before Payback.

Shane McMahon Kicks off Raw, Clashes with Stephanie

1 of 11

    Shane McMahon welcomed everyone to Raw, promising new matches and a fun show. Stephanie McMahon interrupted. She mocked him for pandering to the crowd.

    Stephanie informed her brother this would be his last night running Raw. She said Vince McMahon would decide at Payback who will officially control the show.

    After requesting her to leave didn't work, Shane-O-Mac had security escort Stephanie out of the ring.

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    "WWE Payback is this Sunday, and it's the first pay-per-view of a new era."—Shane.

    "These are my people."—Stephanie. 

    Stephanie smacks one of the security guards in the face. 




    There still has been no real explanation why Vince would keep relinquishing control of Raw. Shane's ongoing reign is making the WrestleMania match with Undertaker more and more meaningless.

    This new twist is such a vague scenario. Vince is supposed to make a decision at Payback based on what?

    This whole story has been riddled with holes from the beginning. The McMahon family drama angle is overdone. And even as compelling of a performer as Stephanie is, she couldn't make this more than average.

AJ Styles vs. Sheamus

2 of 11

    Sheamus pounded AJ Styles in the early going, smashing him with forearms and stomping him into the mat. The Celtic Warrior dominated much of the match.

    Styles, though, fought on. He was able to gain the advantage using his speed and quick feet.

    The Phenomenal One withstood more punishment, and eventually scored the win with his flying forearm.

    Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson walked out and watched Styles from the entrance ramp. Michael Cole and company wondered aloud what role these two would play at Payback.


    Styles wins via pinfall. 

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    Sheamus flings Styles over the ring steps.

    Styles smashes Sheamus in the jaw with forearms.

    "If you can knock Sheamus down for a three-count, you can knock Roman Reigns down for a three-count."—John "Bradshaw" Layfield. 




    An excellent opener resulted in a hard-fought win for the No. 1 contender. This was a smart way to prepare Styles for his title match with Reigns at Payback. And the announcers did well to play up the parallels between Reigns and Sheamus.

    This bout continued Styles' run of impressive matches since debuting this year. He has shown himself to be one of the company's top performers, regardless of opponent.

Tag Team Tension

3 of 11

    The New Day briefly talked up the tag team tournament before The Vaudevillains walked in and claimed they would win at Payback. Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady joined the fun soon after, bickering with their Payback foes.

    Xavier Woods said it didn't matter who was in that match. They would just lose to The New Day.

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    Woods sings a snippet of "1999" and the group points its fingers toward the sky as a tribute to Prince.

    "The Vaudevillains want to be the No. 1 contenders, and I want to run down the beach in my own arms. But that's impossible."—Amore.




    Not the most memorable segment, but it got the job done. The Vaudevillains and The Realest Guys in the Room's tension was on full display. And both duos made it clear how much they want the tag team straps.

    WWE would have been better off shortening the opening confrontation with the McMahons in favor of making this longer.

    This didn't move past a surface level. The audience only saw glimpses of these new characters. WWE has to find ways to let us get to know them better in a hurry, especially The Vaudevillains.

The Usos vs. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson

4 of 11

    Backstage, The Usos tried to convince Roman Reigns to let them be in his corner. He insisted that he do it alone.

    In the ring, Luke Gallows halted a flurry from Jey Uso with a huge clothesline. He then beat on the babyface, taking turns with Karl Anderson. Anderson and Gallows focused on Jey's injured shoulder.

    Jimmy Uso eventually tagged in, went on a flurry, but suffered the same fate as his brother. Magic Killer put him away for a three-count.

    They looked to continue the beatdown after the bell, but Reigns rushed in and chased the heels off.


    Gallows and Anderson win via pinfall.

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    "Sometimes the one needs help from the all."—Jimmy.

    "They come out here, beat people up and leave."—John "Bradshaw" Layfield.

    Gallows pushes Jey out of the ring onto the security barricade.




    The announcers, JBL especially, did well to play up Gallows and Anderson's accomplishments in Japan. Rather than repeat the tired "If it didn't happen in WWE, it doesn't matter" narrative, they worked to hype up the newcomers.

    The heels were nasty, aggressive and used good tag team strategy. They dished out ample amounts of violence and looked plenty formidable until the run-in with Reigns.

    Reigns taking them both out hurt the impact of Gallows and Anderson's debut. How are we supposed to take these two seriously as threats when one man pushed them around so easily?

Sami Zayn vs. Rusev

5 of 11

    WWE aired a video package that recapped Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens' relationship. They talked about traveling together and their friendship, before moving on to their explosive NXT history. 

    Zayn then had to focus on fighting Rusev.

    The Bulgarian Brute overpowered Zayn in the early going. The former NXT champ, though, rode his high-risk offense to fight back. The intense battle ended when Zayn used a schoolboy pin to roll up Rusev for the win.

    Lana began throwing her high heels at Zayn while screaming. Owens ambushed Zayn, attacking him on the entrance ramp.


    Zayn wins via pinfall.

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    Rusev slams Zayn's face on the ring apron.

    Zayn hits a moonsault off the guardrail.




    The video package was what's been missing from this story since Zayn's debut. Fans who don't watch NXT didn't have much to work with when it came to their feud. These clips changed that, adding several layers to the narrative in short time.

    The match itself was a a good showcase for both men. This is the best Rusev has looked in a long while.

    Hopefully, getting booked to be so dominant here is the start of him gaining some momentum. 

Apollo Crews vs. Stardust

6 of 11

    Backstage, Apollo Crews met up with Stardust. He said it was an honor to step into the ring with Dusty Rhodes' son.

    Crews overwhelmed Stardust with his athletic gifts. The Prince of Dark Matter countered with mat wrestling, trying to ground the dynamo. It didn't last.

    Crews went on the attack and ended the bout with his spin-out powerbomb. 


    Crews wins via pinfall.

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    "How befitting that a man named Apollo wishes to dwell among the stars."—Stardust.

    Crews cracks Stardust in the jaw with a thunderous forearm.




    The audience got more of a peek at who Crews is in the brief backstage interview. He then went to work in the ring with another impressive show of his skills.

    Stardust sold extremely well to help make Crews' offense look devastating.

    Getting Crews another dominant win is a smart move. Starting his career off on a roll like this forces the crowd to view him as a force. The next step, though, has to be giving fans reasons to invest in his journey. 

Dean Ambrose Faces off with Chris Jericho

7 of 11

    Dean Ambrose announced he wouldn't be hosting "Ambrose Asylum," but instead calling out Chris Jericho. He laid out the differences between him and Jericho, inferring that Y2J is soft and cowardly.

    Jericho soon arrived, staring down his foe. He talked down to Ambrose, saying he wasn't on his level. 

    The Lunatic Fringe cut the talking short. He beat up on Jericho, but the brawl ended badly for him. Jericho locked him into the Walls of Jericho while atop the announce desk. 

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    "I'll come right to your front door, and I'll kick that door in."—Ambrose.

    "There's a lot of black eyes, a lot of chipped teeth, a lot of big, ugly bruises in my line of work."—Ambrose.

    "There's no way I'm wasting time fighting you in a dump like this."—Jericho.




    Ambrose showed how well he can connect when he tones down the goofy side of his character. Focused, angry and filled with memorable lines, this was one of his best promos to date.

    The brawl that followed made the match at Payback far more personal. Ambrose looked like a star; Jericho came off as a merciless, cold heel. WWE did well to jack up the intensity with this story just in time for the pay-per-view.

    This feud promises to be one of the year's best if it keeps up this pace.

Natalya vs. Emma

8 of 11

    Charlotte joined the commentary team as Emma and Natalya locked horns. 

    Emma clobbered the No. 1 contender to the Women's Championship. The dominance didn't last, though. Natalya locked on the Sharpshooter for the win.


    Natalya wins via submission.

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    Emma hits a butterfly suplex on the outside. 




    WWE is back to giving the women the tiniest sliver of airtime each week, even on the same show it honored a pioneer like Chyna with a video tribute. Emma looked excellent here, but why couldn't she and Nattie have had more space to tell their story?

    AJ Styles got a great warm-up bout before his title match. Natalya got a win in a rushed, forgettable bit of action. 

Damien Sandow vs. Baron Corbin

9 of 11

    Dolph Ziggler ambushed Baron Corbin. He brawled with The Lone Wolf until the powerhouse slipped away in retreat.


    The match never begins.

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    Damien Sandow sighting!




    As much as this had to disappoint Sandow fans, this was a good way to accomplish a lot in a short amount of time.

    We saw how fired up Ziggler is and how much of a cowardly bully Corbin is. It played on Corbin's previous attacks. Their match at Payback suddenly feels more important.

The Miz Crosses Paths with Cesaro

10 of 11

    Credit: WWE.com

    The Miz and Maryse derided fans for not understanding them. He talked up the importance of the Intercontinental Championship before mocking the audience for liking Cesaro.

    The King of Swing himself emerged to fire back at the champ.

    The Miz teased an exit, but when he went to attack Cesaro, the Swiss strongman uppercutted him to the canvas. Maryse protected her man; Cesaro admired the IC title.

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    "Educate them. Look at them. They're hungry for your knowledge."—Maryse to The Miz.

    "This is more than a title. This is more than an accomplishment. This is legendary."—The Miz.

    "The only movie that you belong in is Jackass."—Cesaro.




    The Miz remains one of the most underrated members of the roster. His heel work is aiding Cesaro on his current rise, playing an apt foil for the powerhouse.

    Cesaro's promo work was better than normal here. It's still not his strength, but he held his own in there with The A-Lister. Overall, Cesaro looks like he's having fun and is comfortable with this new persona. 

    This match still doesn't feel as big as many of the other Payback bouts, though. Blame nothing major happening between them before this.  

Roman Reigns vs. Alberto Del Rio

11 of 11

    Ron Elkman/Sports Imagery/Getty Images

    Backstage, AJ Styles told Roman Reigns he was taking his title at Payback.

    WWE later showed Reigns meeting with a kid for the Make-A-Wish foundation. The kid was also in attendance at Raw. Reigns shook his hand before the bout. 

    Alberto Del Rio controlled the action early in the match. He slapped Reigns around, mocking his opponent.

    Reigns responded with clotheslines and right hands. He had Del Rio reeling, but Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows walked out to distract the world champ. Even so, Reigns hit the spear for the win.

    Anderson and Gallows beat on Reigns after the bell. Styles came down to tell them to stop. Reigns still decided to clock Styles.

    A brawl broke out that ended with Styles knocking Reigns on his back.


    Reigns wins via pinfall.

    Memorable Moments and Quotes

    Fans chant "Roman sucks!" 

    Reigns dropkicks Del Rio into the ring post.

    "Is this collusion?"—Michael Cole.




    The important thing is all this chaos left one curious about what's to come. Styles' relationship with Gallows and Anderson could go in a number of directions at Payback and beyond. It's certainly clear those newcomers will play a key role in the pay-per-view main event somehow.

    The tension between Reigns and Styles rose some, too.

    It's just hard to soak any of that in when Reigns is getting booed so hard. Fans continue to push back against him as a babyface. 

    That will just be fuel for a blazing Reigns run as a heel if WWE goes in that direction. Otherwise, Reigns' time as champ will be a certified bust.