Everyone had been speculated about how soon and how much we’d see the influence of Paul Heyman on his first episode as Executive Director (but not onscreen GM) of Monday Night Raw, and the answer turned out to be “immediately and a lot.” The show opened with a Falls Count Anywhere Match between Braun Strowman and Bobby Lashley, which was a mixed blessing at first because these two have been having an uninspiring feud for weeks now, but on the other hand, it was a wrestling match opening Raw, instead of forty minutes of talking, so that was a pretty good start. Then things got nuts.
Naturally, since the match didn’t have to won in the ring, the two big men fought their way across the arena. They ended up on the stage, where Strowman drove Lashley through the big LED screen that forms the backdrop. There was an extended explosion of sparks as the entire system of screens seemed to short out. Strowman and Lashley fell to the floor in the backstage area. Corey Graves was heard to exclaim “Holy shit,” and then ran backstage to see how they were.
The reaction to the spot was perhaps the most fresh-seeming part of the whole thing. The camera silently focused on the backstage devastation for a surprisingly long time, as Braun and Bobby were both put on stretchers. In the aftermath, Graves and Cole maintained an absolutely serious tone as though they believed someone might be seriously hurt. Graves said he could smell something backstage. As Strowman and Lashley were loaded onto ambulances after a commercial break, the crowd could be heard chanting “Thank you Heyman.”