WWE RAW 4/8/2024: 3 Things We Hated And 3 Things We Loved

Welcome to Wrestling Inc.'s weekly review of "WWE Raw," the show where usually things are normal but this is the "Raw" after WrestleMania, so things are very much not normal! Especially after a WrestleMania like this one. We have a new WWE Champion, a new World Heavyweight Champion, new tag team champions, and The Rock and John Cena are here. It's an entire thing, you may have heard about, a lot of people are pretty excited.


There's always a lot to cover on "Raw" (though less than usual on this episode thanks to the sheer length of the opening segment) so there's always stuff we can't get to — sorry Jade Cargill vs. Chelsea Green, but what else more can we really say about how much we love both of you? If you need all the details you can find them on our "Raw" results page, but that's not why you're here. You're here to learn what the WINC staff thought about the show. So without further ado, here are three things we hated and three things we loved about the 4/8/24 episode of "WWE Raw," aka "The Raw After Mania."

Hated: The Triple H Era

Leading up to WrestleMania weekend, WWE CCO Paul Levesque spent media time taking shots at his rival and wrestlers that chose not to sign with WWE. He then put himself front and center on both nights of WrestleMania. Obviously, WWE needs to publicly move away from Vince McMahon, so during Paul Heyman's Hall of Fame speech, he coined "The Triple H Era," and WWE reinforced that concept over and over during their time in Philadelphia.


Levesque came out at the beginning of both shows; on Night 2, he brought out wife, Stephanie McMahon, in her first public appearance since being named as Corporate Officer #3 in the lawsuit against her father, John Laurinaitis, and WWE. After the main event, Levesque came to the ring alongside Bruce Prichard (who Ronda Rousey called Vince's "avatar" while he was "retired") to celebrate with Cody Rhodes. It was at the new champion's request, but it still felt like Levesque basking in the spotlight. Nick Khan, Corporate Officer #1, was ringside as well, and Rhodes hugged him, too.

"Raw" opened with more Levesque. With his old entrance music blaring, he came out to much fanfare; the fans chanted "Thank you, Hunter." He also came to the ring before the brand new champion. It should have been Rhodes' night and yet, Levesque overshadowed him.


For WWE and TKO, separating the companies from Vince on screen is important. Fans are familiar with Levesque and he's built up a lot of good will. On the other hand, he is Vince's son-in-law; he's married to Corporate Officer #1; he works in close proximity to Corporate Officers #1 and #2. The Janel Grant lawsuit will continue to hang over WWE like a black cloud, and rightfully so considering the heinous acts that are alleged to have been committed in WWE's corporate offices. During the post-show press conference on Sunday, Levesque admitted that Brock Lesnar is still employed by WWE, despite having been pulled from television following his own identification in the lawsuit.

Vince may be physically gone from TV, but he remains in the shadows, no matter how much WWE and TKO deny it. Calling this "The Triple H Era" is a reminder of the alleged crimes, not a disavowal of them.

Written by Samantha Schipman

Hated: This is awkward

I don't know why I didn't expect The Rock on the "Raw" after WrestleMania, but for some reason, I figured he'd go softly into the night, back to Hollywood, or at least behind the scenes on the TKO board of directors for awhile, considering Roman Reigns' loss. But, when his music hit during new Undisputed WWE Universal Champion Cody Rhodes' celebration (side note: man, does it feel good writing that), I asked myself how I could have ever thought that in the first place. The rowdy crowd gave Rock heck, which was fine; it drug the segment on far too long, but that's not what I hated about it — that much was to be expected. It was just how awkward Rock made the entire thing that irked me.


Rock said he had come out to give Rhodes his flowers after winning, which was all fine and dandy, but then asked to hold the championship. Rhodes responded, awkwardly, that he wanted to then hold Rock's People's Championship gifted to him by Muhammad Ali's widow at the WWE Hall of Fame ceremony. So they awkwardly exchanged belts in the middle of the ring for a few seconds. It would have made more sense for Rock just to take hold of Rhodes' title, which would seemingly set up a title match between the two, for what I assumed would be Saudi Arabia. But, nope, after giving Rhodes his belt back, Rock announced he "has to go away for a little while."

With Dwayne Johnson being the huge movie star that he is, on top of his hundred other business ventures, that much make sense. But when he told Rhodes he would be coming back for him, whether he was the champion or not, because their story together isn't finished, I just didn't really understand. That story seemed all wrapped up, nice and neat, considering Rhodes beat Rock's cousin Reigns, while Rock pinned Rhodes clean as a whistle in the middle of the ring on Night 1. Rhodes' story with The Bloodline as a whole, outside of maybe his friendship with Jey Uso, because that's awesome, is completely over, in my eyes. Who knows how long The Rock will be gone? Is his second return going to feel as special, especially going up against someone he's already beaten, and especially if, God forbid, Rhodes doesn't have the title anymore?


Overall, I found the entire first hour of "Raw" to be very awkward. But The Rock interrupting what should have been a nice celebration of Rhodes addressing the crowd took the cake. Even if he had just interrupted, give Rhodes his flowers, announce he was leaving again for a bit, then gone on his merry way, I would have been okay with that. Even the crowd was chanting "This is awkward!" when it come to the weird belt exchange in the middle of the ring.

Thankfully, even though I hated this, it's something that's easily moved on from, with The Rock seemingly being off TV for awhile. I'm extremely interested in seeing who Rhodes' first challenger is going to be ... I just wish we would have gotten closer to that story on Monday night.

Written by Daisy Ruth

Loved: The new champ's new threads

When a wrestler who holds a championship is in a stable, it can be hard for them to stand out with the certain level of cohesiveness they have to maintain with the rest of the group in both character and presentation. While having a world championship certainly does make it easier to stand out, the gold alone is not the be all and end all.


WWE struck the perfect balance in tweaking the presentation of Damian Priest following his World Heavyweight Championship win at WrestleMania. Giving him new music and a new look with a red suit (which, might I add, looked rad) were subtle changes, but still noticeable, and they made him feel like an even bigger star in a similar manner to Rhea Ripley. Priest still looked like he was part of The Judgment Day and still maintained that cohesiveness with the rest of the stable in their group promo, but he stood out without overshadowing any of the non-titleholder members of the group or feeling less important next to Ripley. It was a well-balance presentation, and an aesthetically pleasing one.

Written by Olivia Quinlan


Loved: You can't see the Awesome Truth

WrestleMania took care of plenty of business this weekend, but "The Showcase of the Immortals" is supposed to be a celebration of the wrestling industry, as well. The Awesome Truth capturing the "Raw" Tag Team Championship in Night 1's Six-Pack Ladder Match was a nice little touch of appreciation and celebration, in part, for the work done by R-Truth since his return at Survivor Series 2023. And Monday night, the team was joined by none other than John Cena in a six-man tag match against Finn Balor, JD McDonagh, and Dominik Mysterio of The Judgment Day, and the trio had a blast in securing the win, hitting Cena's finishing moves in triplicate while smiles abounded for all three men.


You love to see it, or at least I do, beginning with the callback to Truth's repeated insistence to include himself in The Judgment Day for months on end. When Damian Priest and Rhea Ripley raised their respective world championships, suddenly Truth's "Raw" tag team title entered the shot in a hilarious moment that was met by rejection and anger from Priest, which led to the match against his Judgment Day comrades. After homages to Little Jimmy and "the guy you can't see," the match began as a handicap, but ultimately saw Cena, whom we were reminded was Truth's "childhood hero," enter the mix and lead his team to a "15-Knuckle Shuffle" and three simultaneous Attitude Adjustments on their adversaries.


Cena's involvement gave the local crowd (and fans at home) one last little cherry on top from WrestleMania weekend to help send everyone home happy. His interference in Sunday's main event helped Cody Rhodes become Undisputed WWE Universal Champion, which was obviously important, but Monday's surprise insertion into this match made people smile as well, which is what it's all about, especially at this time of year.

Written by Jon Jordan

Hated: We're doing this NOW?

Chad Gable has lurked behind the WrestleMania build-up to Sami Zayn's contest against Gunther for the Intercontinental Championship. While Zayn was trying to prove his grit to Gunther, the WWE Universe, and himself, Gable was always lurking backstage to remind Zayn that the Intercontinental Championship "just means more" to him. Monday night, Zayn acknowledged Gable's impact in motivating him to dethrone "The Ring General," and promised Gable that he would have a shot at the Intercontinental Championship next week on "WWE Raw."


Wait, we're doing this now?

This feels like the spiritual successor of my thoughts in March 2024, where I claimed the WWE cannot find the perfect pace. I'll be the first to admit that my idea of the "perfect pace" is entirely subjective — and maybe I need to check my pacing myself in case I'm jumping the gun with this opinion — but putting Gable's yearned-for Intercontinental Championship opportunity on just some random episode of "WWE Raw" feels like a nonconsequential shrug from WWE creative. It's kind of like when you forget that you had to do something, so you kind of do it half-way because you don't have the time to fully dedicate yourself to it. We all know that Zayn is not going to lose his title in his first defense — if he does, then you'll hear from me again — so why even put Gable in this situation where he is guaranteed to lose, without any build or investment to it?


The pacing issue is not even the worst part of it. The worst part of this whole "storyline" (if you can even call it that) is that they are treating this long-awaited, incredibly emotional moment as a transaction. Zayn himself even issued the challenge for the purpse of "repaying" Gable for his efforts pre- and post-WrestleMania. It feels like they are going through the motions — like they're looking at Zayn and going "yeah, he needs a challenger — Gable works, he's popular." Gable isn't getting this opportunity because of his very well-performed emotional investment in GUNTHER pre-Wrestlemania; he's getting this opportunity because Zayn owes him a favor.

For a good while leading up to WrestleMania 40, Gable was telling us that his desire for the Intercontinental Championship "just meant more." Sure, Gable has a chance at the Intercontinental Championship now, but this method feels so much more shallow and soulless than his pre-WrestleMania campaign. Even if the streets are true, and he does turn heel — what then? He didn't beat GUNTHER, and the chance of him beating someone as over as Zayn so shortly after Zayn put an end to a historic reign is slim, if present at all. What a way to waste Gable's well-performed vulnerability. What about this campaign for the Intercontinental Championship just means more?


Written by Angeline Phu

Loved: The winds of change

Considering the not insignificant amount of hullabaloo that accompanied this year's "Raw" after 'Mania (Commercial-free first hour! Anyone could be there! Vince isn't around to tear up our scripts anymore!) there was something low-key about Monday's offering. Yes, Cena showed up to briefly team up with Awesome Truth, which was delightful, and we got a bunch of teases for people like Sheamus and Bo Dallas, but for the most part this was the same kind of "Raw" episode we've been getting lately, complete with a 45-minute segment involving Cody Rhodes and The Rock. I thought maybe something big was getting saved for the end, but the main event segment turned out to be a perfectly serviceable four-way match and a CM Punk appearance. All very fun; nothing that totally blows your doors off.


What I liked about this approach, however, was that it put more emphasis on the biggest actual surprises that went down: the two call-ups from "NXT." The most exciting new pieces on the table for "Raw" were "NXT" Champion Ilja Dragunov and "NXT" Women's Champion Roxanne Perez, both of whom got emphatic wins in their "Raw" debuts. I appreciated that they got put into very different kinds of matches — Dragunov got paired with Shinsuke Nakamura, a very "AEW dream match" thing to do because that just sounds awesome, while Perez took on Indi Hartwell, a story-driven decision that advances both Perez' personal heel arc and the tense dynamics of Hartwell's friendship with Candice LeRae — and while the audience might have sounded a little muted in their response, there definitely was a response, with Perez in particular seeming to win the crowd over by the end.


The other thing I really enjoyed about the "NXT" call-ups was how they coincided with the return of the WWE Draft. I absolutely love the idea of holding the draft in late April, right after WrestleMania; it synchs up with the NFL Draft, which is just a good idea, and it allows you to shuffle the deck as a booker after you just played every card in your hand at your biggest show of the year. I also found it really interesting that the two "NXT" call-ups, both of whom will presumably be in the draft, were the two major singles champions. That's not how it used to work — usually you get called up right after losing your singles title so you can come to the main roster unimpeded by hardware and hand back some equity to whoever beat you on your way out the door. These were the two champions, titles in hand, showing up on the main roster and murking some midcarders as their argument for why they should be drafted. It's a different approach to call-ups, and I think I dig it. It makes more sense in the fictional world of wrestling that people like Adam Pearce and Nick Aldis would be most interested in the champions, not the people the champions just beat, and with a couple weeks' worth of TV between now and the draft, you can make a story out of the fact that the champions are moving up and figure out if they're going to lose their titles some or just vacate them. Either way, you're starting from a premise with roots in the logic of the fiction (the champions are the best "NXT" wrestlers, ergo the champions are the most likely to be drafted) as opposed to the logic of the reality (non-champions are logistically easier to move between rosters, ergo non-champions are the most likely to be drafted). To me, that's the direction wrestling should always be trying to move.


Written by Miles Schneiderman