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Not only will the event — to be broadcast live on USA Network from American Airlines Center in Dallas on April 4 — undoubtedly grapple with the fallout of WrestleMania. But it will also (as is tradition) set the stage for some of the most important WWE matches and events for the rest of the year. It’s a night known for huge turns, shocking moments, and comebacks.
While exactly what will go down remains to be seen, looking back at some of the wildest moments in the history of Raw after WrestleMania should get fans primed for whatever may happen. Here we go:
1. Brock Lesnar Becomes “The Next Big Thing”
WWE Superstar and Current Champion Brock Lesnar made his debut for WWE during the 2002 Raw after WrestleMania. He came onto the scene as “The Next Big Thing” on Mar. 18, interfering in a WWE Hardcore title match between Al Snow and Maven, dominating both (and Spike Dudley for good measure) while WWE announcers marveled at what a “monster” he was. His first appearance proved that he was very much indeed the next big thing.
Lesnar will be facing off against Universal Champion Roman Reigns at WrestleMania and, if he wins, it will be a very big win. The winner will take on both titles, unifying both the Universal Championship and the WWE Championship.
2. Brock Lesnar’s Return
Lesnar departed the WWE in 2003 — but came back in 2012 in a familiar setting: on “Raw After WrestleMania.” On April 2, he burst into the WWE ring once more, surprising John Cena (fresh off his defeat to The Rock at WrestleMania 28 the previous night) and sending the Miami crowd into a frenzy.
After making his way to the ring and offering Cena a handshake, he shocked the fans in attendance, unleashing his signature, a brutal F-5, leaving Cena in a heap. Quite a dramatic way to announce his return.
3. “The Rock” and John Cena Agree To A Match
WWE superstar icons The Rock and John Cena agreed to an epic match during the April 4, 2011 episode of Raw after WrestleMania. The Rock was the host of WrestleMania 27, and after he got involved in Cena’s match, Cena challenged The Rock to a match. Not only did The Rock accept, he upped the stakes, proposing they meet at 2012’s WrestleMania 28.
“You bet your candy ass The Rock will bring it,” he told Cena before delivering his trademark quote, “If you smell what The Rock is cooking.”
Cena agreed and the two would square off the following year for an epic match, with The Rock emerging victorious.
For years now, it has been rumored that “The Rock” will return to fight again at WrestleMania. Could that happen this year?
4. Ronda Rousey Armbars Stephanie McMahon
Watch out for Ronda Rousey, who will be facing off against Charlotte Flair at WrestleMania. She’s certainly provided her share of dramatic moments in WWE history. But there has been no Rousey moment as memorable during her debut on Raw after WrestleMania on April 9, 2018.
Rousey had defeated retired WWE Superstar Stephanie McMahon (also the daughter of Vince McMahon and Raw commissioner) during a mixed tag team at WrestleMania 34, placing McMahon in an arm bar and getting her to tap out. When McMahon showed up the next night at Raw (in a sling), she sang Rousey’s praises, but also sort of took credit for recognizing the potential greatness in her. Then Rousey showed up. After McMahon’s promises that they’d make an unstoppable team together, they shook on it, only for Rousey to give an encore armbar, leaving McMahon screaming in pain in the ring.
5. Dolph Ziggler Cashes In For The World Title
Dolph Ziggler made history on April 8, 2013 when he cashed in his “Money in the Bank” against an enfeebled Alberto Del Rio during Raw after WrestleMania.
Ziggler had won 2012’s Money in the Bank case containing a championship match contract, which he could redeem at the time and place of his choosing any time within the next year. He chose Raw after WrestleMania in 2013 against reigning World Champion Albert Del Rio, who had defended his title the night before against Jack Swagger, injuring his leg in the process.
As he marched toward the ring with the Money in the Bank briefcase, the audience and announcers knew exactly what it meant: He was about to cash in on the chance to win the coveted belt. Del Rio was weak in the knees at this point — literally only able to stand on one leg — but a rule’s a rule and he had to defend his championship.
While Del Rio certainly did put up a fight, especially given his wounded state, Ziggler beat him and became champ, silencing naysayers who’d had spent months doubting his ability to cash in.
6. Finn Bálor’s Return
Finn Bálor — who will be competing at WrestleMania against Damian Priest for the U.S. Championship — took the crowd by surprise when he made a completely unexpected comeback on “Raw after WrestleMania” on April 3, 2017.
He returned to join Seth Rollins in a successful tag team match against Samoa Joe and Kevin Owens, and that win kicked off a weeks-long string of successes, in which Bálor beat out WWE SuperStars like Jinder Mahal and Curt Hawkins.
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