Cody Rhodes, Damian Priest’s 1st Challengers and More Raw After WrestleMania 40 Takes

Cody Rhodes, Damian Priest’s 1st Challengers and More Raw After WrestleMania 40 Takes


On the highly anticipated Raw after WrestleMania 40, WWE looked forward to the new Paul Levesque era throughout this April 8 episode.

Cody Rhodes opened the show, celebrated by Triple H before The Rock confronted him. The Final Boss left The American Nightmare with a foreboding promise for a future encounter, opening up Rhodes’ immediate future as champion.

Damian Priest found out the first threat to his World Heavyweight Championship reign when Jey Uso won a Fatal 4-Way over Drew McIntyre, Ricochet and “Big” Bronson Reed.

The Scottish Warrior may have won if CM Punk had not got involved in his business again by stopping him from hitting the Claymore.

Jade Cargill picked up the second win of her WWE career in less than one minute over Chelsea Green to further establish her dominance.

Ilja Dragunov and Roxanne Perez made their Raw debuts, defeating Shinsuke Nakamura and Indi Hartwell, respectively.

It was a big night for WWE, and moments from Monday night promised to have long-lasting effects on the red brand.

The Rock has seemingly left Cody Rhodes with a promise that will not be fulfilled until the summer at least. That’s a lot of time to fill for the new undisputed WWE universal champion.

The American Nightmare is the hottest star in WWE, and anyone who works with him will be elevated. This gives the company a chance to elevate a heel who has needed a big story to gain relevance.

SmackDown especially has a wealth of underused names who could benefit from getting a chance to take their shot at The American Nightmare.

Santos Escobar backed by Legado World Order, and Karrion Kross being pushed higher than he ever has been with help from The Authors of Pain.

While not a completely fresh name, AJ Styles—perhaps helped by new members of The OC—could get back on track after several years out of the spotlight.

If WWE is not ready to push one of these stable leaders to challenge the face of the wrestling business, he could help establish Bron Breakker or Carmelo Hayes.

There are multiple exciting options, and WWE could sell anyone with the help of Rhodes. The Undisputed WWE Universal Championship feels fresh again, and it’s time to take advantage and establish some new names at the top.

The Raw after WrestleMania typically features NXT call-ups, but that rarely includes the current NXT champion.

Bron Breakker did defeat Dolph Ziggler to regain the gold in 2022 without getting a formal call-up, but that was an exception.

WWE deliberately highlighted both the NXT champion Ilja Dragunov and NXT women’s champion Roxanne Perez in one-sided matches on Monday.

This could be a sign that the company is ready to bring both to the main roster, but neither can fully acclimate with NXT gold in hand.

When the two drop the titles, though, they should be immediately treated as top names on the main roster.

NXT has done important work in elevating these two great wrestlers. Any time they appear on Raw or SmackDown, they need to keep looking this dominant.

Dragunov is one of the best wrestlers in the world. He is the rare man who has beaten Gunther in the past. His NXT Championship reign has solidified his legacy, and he should be seen as an immediate world title challenger.

Perez was a top name when she first debuted for NXT, but she has found her character in the past few months. She should be viewed as an immediate threat to Rhea Ripley or Bayley when the time is right.

These are names who can define this new era of WWE with the right backing.

Jade Cargill’s claim to fame in All Elite Wrestling was built on a phenomenal streak. She won 60 straight matches including a 508-day reign as TBS champion.

This created an aura of invincibility around The Storm, making her stand out in a talented roster.

While WWE does not need to go quite as far as AEW, it has a chance to build her up for a new audience with similar dominant booking.

Until the 31-year-old is ready to go after gold, she could run over the competition by defeating enhancement talent and established names.

By WrestleMania 41, Cargill should be ready to showcase what she can do under the brightest spotlight. If she went in undefeated and challenged Bianca Belair, who is 4-0 at The Show of Shows, the battle of winning runs would sell tickets.

This is an easy way to protect the newcomer, who can slowly increase her in-ring time over the next year, creating a more impressive win streak after a summer of learning by defeating bigger names.

If WWE is fully on board with Cargill, she could win at WrestleMania and continue her streak while capturing gold in 2025.

CM Punk has become a serious nuisance for Drew McIntyre, after costing him his World Heavyweight Championship and his first opportunity to reclaim it.

While The Scottish Warrior is getting his just desserts for now, The Best in the World tormenting him is going to grow tiring eventually.

WWE must capitalize on the hype of McIntyre vs. Punk as soon as possible, but it’s all down to when the latter will be cleared for full action.

Ideally, Punk would be cleared for Backlash France on May 4, and McIntyre and Punk can have their heated battle at its hottest.

If it takes longer, though, WWE should ensure the match is announced as soon as it can be. This is not a contest that can wait for SummerSlam or Survivor Series.

If Punk isn’t ready to wrestle a full match until The Biggest Party of the Summer on August 3, he needs to be taken off TV to allow McIntyre to move on for a time and rebuild his momentum.

Jey Uso deserves a major spotlight in 2024, but it was the wrong time for him to challenge Damian Priest and The Judgment Day again.

The history between Jey and Priest could have been utilized to hype a major premium live event months down the line.

The Raw after WrestleMania is a time to reestablish the hierarchy in WWE, and Ricochet was ready to get the biggest opportunity of his career.

The One and Only stole the show with his springboard 450 splash on Bronson Reed through the Spanish announce table, but that is not enough at this stage.

The story has been building for months with Ricochet. He needed to win on this night to get that post-WrestleMania crowd rub that might sell him as the man who could shock the world by dethroning The Punishment quickly.

This story would also help Priest build credibility, fighting someone he can claim is lower on the totem pole than him.

Instead, Uso is bigger than Priest at this point and would invalidate the world heavyweight champion by beating him now. It’s harder to root for Jey at this point.


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