2/22 WWE MONDAY NIGHT RAW REPORT: Hazelwood’s alt-perspective on Chamber fallout, The Miz as WWE Champion, Riddle as U.S. Champion, next for Asuka, more

BY BRUCE LEE HAZELWOOD, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR


SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...

WWE MONDAY NIGHT RAW TV REPORT
FEBRUARY 22, 2021
ST. PETERSBURG, FLA. AT TROPICANA FIELD (THE “THUNDERDOME”)
AIRED ON USA NETWORK
REPORT BY BRUCE LEE HAZELWOOD, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR

Commentators: Tom Phillips, Byron Saxton, Samoa Joe

Ring Announcer: Mike Rome

Tonight after the show, join Wade Keller live with guest cohost PWTorch assistant editor Zack Heydorn to break down the show with live callers and emails.

STREAM LIVE HERE ABOUT 5 MINUTES AFTER THE SHOW CONCLUDES
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(Hazelwood’s Take: Not to toot my own horn too much here, but I DID say on the post-show with Wade Keller a few weeks ago that we shouldn’t be surprised if The Miz cashes in after the WWE Championship Chamber match, and guess what: I was right! Look at me being the smarmy heel just rubbing it in that I was COOOOORECT in my best The Miz voice.)

[HOUR ONE]

-They began with a recap video of last night’s WWE Championship Elimination Chamber match, the subsequent attack by Bobby Lashley on Drew McIntyre (who retained), and The Miz cashing in to become the WWE Champion. Tom Phillips then did his usual welcome as John Morrison stood in the ring to celebrate his partner winning the WWE Championship. He introduced The Miz, Phillips said like it or not, The Miz is a master strategist, and Byron Saxton said the perfect plan was executed by The Miz.

The Miz said this was a Champions edition of “Miz TV.” He said when he first stepped inside the ring 16 years ago, most said he would be fired within months yet here he is on the flagship show as WWE Champion. He said all the tops from his generation have come and gone, but he’s still standing. He said he’s defeated them, name-dropping Batista, John Cena, The Big Show, Daniel Bryan, and The Edge. He said his longevity, his star power, his tenacious…attitude are what’s kept him at the top.

He called himself the Babe Ruth of WWE for calling his shot. He said it felt good because it wasn’t sneaky; he told McIntyre exactly what he was going to do, and that’s what happened. He said he put forth a detour on the road to WrestleMania. He said his career reads like a Jeopardy! clue and said he is the only two-time Grand Slam Champion in WWE. He said he’s holding the title because he deserves it. He didn’t ask for our respect, he demanded it. The Hurt Business’ music interrupted as Bobby Lashley, in a sweet, sweet white suit, made his way to the ring with M.V.P. still on a crutch.

The commentators reminded viewers of Lashley losing the United States Championship without being pinned or submitted. M.V.P. congratulated The Miz on his victory, but said he couldn’t help but notice where he omitted the part where Lashley wrecked and destroyed McIntyre, allowing The Miz to become WWE Champion. The Miz said he was getting there, actually, and thanked both of them. He then said they have more celebrating to and attempted to leave. M.V.P. stopped them and said let’s disclose the terms of our arrangment.

He said his man “J-Mo” cost Lashley his U.S. Championship so to make it right, Lashley helped The Miz to be first in line for the WWE Championship. The Miz said he did promise the match, but he didn’t say when. He said as WWE Champion, he has talk shows, interviews, the return of his reality show, and said it’s something they might not know about (the facial reactions were priceless). M.V.P. said so Lashley doesn’t measure up to The Miz. The Miz said that’s not what he meant. Lashley grabbed him, said they had an agreement, and gave The Miz an hour or he’s going to star in a new reality show called How Lashley Sent Me to the Emergency Room. He said it was going to be painful, merciless, and awesome.

-The cut to the back where Lince Dorado & Gran Metalik were approached by Riddle. He thanked them for their support, mentioned the Gulag and a warzone, then was interrupted by Dorado. Riddle said he’s going to name his championship Travis after a former friend who was a “real metalhead.” Dorado said they’re happy for him and “Travito” as they cut to break with Riddle riding a scooter to Gorilla. Yup, you read that right. [c]

(Hazelwood’s Take: I’m glad Lashley came out and forcefully demanded their arrangement be met, imposing an hour timeline. It will be interesting to see how they book this. Also, wow, that suit donned by Lashley alone makes him deserving to be WWE Champion.)

(1) RIDDLE (c) vs. JOHN MORRISON – Non-title match

They returned with Morrison posing in the corner and a “Lashley’s Ultimatum” countdown clock showing 43 minutes. Riddle made his entrance next. They began with Riddle hitting a go-behind, slam, and quick attempt at an armbar that Morrison rolled into a two-count. They locked up with Morrison using his quickness and athleticism to his advantage. However, when he went for a standing shooting star, Riddle caught him in a triangle choke attempt. Morrison reached the ropes to break the hold. Morrison threw a bevy of strikes, but Riddle caught his leg. Riddle went for a kick, but Morrison countered with a capoeira kick. However, Riddle hit a gutwrench for a two-count.

They traded strikes on the feet, but Riddle grabbed Morrison’s leg. Morrison then poked Riddle in the eye and locked in a modified Dragon Sleeper. Riddle got to his feet fast, flipped over Morrison onto the apron, but then was kicked by Morrison. Morrison then hit a spinning tope to Riddle, but he landed hard on his knee. He rolled Riddle back in, setting him up for Starship Pain, but Riddle rolled away. Morrison rushed Riddle, but Riddle caught him in a triangle and flipped him onto the apron. He slapped Morrison’s chest a couple of times, then hit a fisherman’s suplex on the apron. He rolled into the ring and celebrated as they cut to break. [c]

They returned with Riddle looking for a Broton, but Morrison put up his knees. He then hit a ROLLING Alabama Slam for a two-count. He locked in a modified rear chinlock as Riddle fought his way to his feet. Morrison backed Riddle in the corner and hit a flurry of strikes, but Riddle fought back and hit his overhead kick. He then hit his running forearm in the corner twice, hit an exploder, missed a PK, moonsaulted and landed on his feet, kicked Morrison (on the outside) from the apron, then hit a springboard Floating Bro. He then rolled Morrison in and hit a bridging German Suplex for a two-count.

They hyped The New Day vs. Mace & T-Bar for later in the night with. Morrison backed Riddle into the corner, but Riddle hit three forearms. As he climbed to the second rope, Morrison jumped up and hit a Spanish Fly for a two-count. He looked for Moonlight Drive, but Riddle hit the Bro to Sleep. Morrison hit a superkick, then Riddle went for a sunset flip. Morrison rolled through, hit a knee, but got caught looking for Starship Pain. He hit the Bro Derek for the win. After the match, he celebrated as they replayed the final sequence. They shifted to the countdown clock showing 29 and a half minutes. They then played a “Coming Soon” Rhea Ripley vignette as they cut to break. [c]

WINNER: Riddle at 11:02 (Bro Derek)

(Hazelwood’s Take: A serviceable TV match for Raw, and really what the average match on Raw should be. A strong win for Riddle is what his character needed even after last night because of how much he lost over the previous months. Now, the big news: Rhea Ripley! Raw women’s division sorely needs a boost, and she is definitely that boost. The additions of Damian Priest and Ripley bode well for the immediate future of Raw…I hope.)

-They returned by congratulating Bad Bunny for his Saturday Night Live appearance/performance, and they made sure to highlight he was wearing the 24/7 Championship. They showed Priest and Bunny in the back as Sarah Schreiber approached. Bunny said this is just the beginning and you can expect to see him every week. Priest said, “Hey! Truth, I can see you.” Truth approached and Priest said don’t play dumb, he saw him with the ref. R-Truth said Bunny had his baby on SNL and that made him happy. Priest got in his face, said, “His name is Bad Bunny,” and Truth said he got them this time and ran away.

-Phillips then shifted to the opening segment as they showed Lashley giving his ultimatum to The Miz. They showed The Miz in the back complaining to Adam Pearce asking if they would reward this sort of behavior. Pearce asked if there was an agreement, and The Miz said nothing was in writing. Pearce said he does agree with The Miz that so many doubted him, but that means he needs to step up and take on all challenges. The Miz said he wants to take on all challenges, but it’s just about timing. Pearce said he’ll respect whatever decision he makes, but the clock is ticking. The Miz pulled out his phone as they cut to the ring. They replayed what happened last week with Woods and Omos, the latter chokeslamming the former over the barricade. They cut to break. [c]

(2) THE NEW DAY (Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods) vs. MACE & T-BAR (w/Mustafa Ali & Slapjack & Reckoning)

They returned Woods obnoxiously playing the trombone in the ring and Kingston dancing. Phillips then hyped Punky Brewster on peacock by playing a preview; they showed the cast in the “Thunderdome,” including former WWE writer Freddie Prinze, Jr. Retribution, with Reckoning, made their entrance. Woods was excited because he wants a match with the latter. Woods and T-Bar started the match with Woods yelling at Reckoning. T-Bar hit a knee to the gut and a forearm to the back. Woods fought back, tagged in Kingston, and they worked the arm.

T-Bar countered an arm-wringer with a bodyslam and tagged in Mace. Mace bashed Kingston into the mat three times followed by a big boot from T-Bar for a two-count by Mace. T-Bar tagged in and hit a pendulum backbreaker for a two-count. Phillips complimented the strategy of targeting  Kingston because he was in the Chamber match last night. T-Bar booted Woods off of the apron, then they hit a double chokeslam after Mace tagged in. Ali said do it again, so T-Bar tagged in and they looked for the same combo as earlier. Woods pulled the rope down to send T-Bar to the outside. Then Kingston hit two Trouble in Paradise moves on Mace for the victory.

WINNER: The New Day at 2:50 (Trouble in Paradise)

-After the match, Ali grabbed the mic and berated his team, asking how many times are they going to disrespect and embarrass him. He said how long does he have to deal with this crap and threw the mic down. He yelled some more as they shifted to Lashley & M.V.P. making their way to the ring from the break. They cut to break with the clock at three and half minutes. [c]

(Hazelwood’s Take: Just…at least Ali’s pissed about all the losing?)

-They returned with another replay of Lashley’s ultimatum to The Miz from the opening segment. Pearce was in the ring and said it’s been an hour, so he introduced Lashley right as the WWE watermark hit the corner of the screen to indicate the end/top of the hour.

[HOUR TWO]

Lashley made his entrance (with M.V.P.) in his ring attire. Phillips reminded viewers of the deal between Lashley and The Miz. M.V.P., then Lashley, shook Pearce’s hand. He introduced The Miz.

The Miz entered with a hobbling Morrison from his earlier match. Lashley looked irate that The Miz was still in his suit, a fact that Phillips pointed out. The Miz entered with his hands up trying to keep everything calm.

Pearce said the challenge has been issued, and The Miz has the obligation to give Lashley his decision. The Miz said he made his decision…that he needs more time. Lashley said quit stalling. Lashley said wasting his time is like wasting his money. The Miz said he’s not worried about money, he’s worried about the prestige and lineage of the WWE Championship. M.V.P. said he doesn’t have a deal with another “superstar.” The Miz said he just needs more time. The Miz said Lashley deserves a shot, but The Miz also needs to be at his best for the prestige of the title. They said give him another week, “You can pencil it in, right Adam?” Braun Strowman’s music hit.

Strowman entered as they all looked surprised, but Lashley looking mad more than anything. Strowman was not put in the Chamber match by Pearce last week. Strowman said he’s getting the shot. Pearce said he can’t come out here and do whatever he wants, but Strowman said he will do whatever he damn pleases as it seems like Pearce and Shane McMahon have a thing against him. The Miz egged on Lashley, then McMahon’s music hit.

He strolled to the ring, did his shuffle in the ring, and stepped between everyone with piped-in “Shane O-Mac” chants. McMahon tried to calm everyone, but chastised Pearce for not running “a tight ship.” He also chastised Strowman, then said, “If there are any neurons left in your brain that didn’t grasp the concept of the Elimination Chamber,” McMahon reiterated it was for former WWE Champions, which Strowman admitted he wasn’t. Strowman’s response was everything sucked and he demanded a title match tonight. McMahon said that idea sucked. Strowman then demanded a match against Lashley. McMahon said he wanted to see that match, then made the match official. He then added the stipulation that if Strowman wins, next week it will be triple threat match for the WWE Championship. Overbooked to all hell again, but pretty much standard with WWE. Lashley hit a chop block to Strowman, then calmly left the ring as he glared at Strowman. They cut to break. [c]

(Hazelwood’s Take: Like I said, overbooked to all hell. They can’t help themselves.)

-They returned with a recap of the events of the previous segment, mainly the chop block, as they hyped the singles match for later in the evening. The Hurt Business were in the ring for their match against Lucha House Party.

(3) THE HURT BUSINESS (Cedric Alexander & Shelton Benjamin) vs. LUCHA HOUSE PARTY (Lince Dorado & Gran Metalik) – Torando tag team match

This is going to suck to recap. Benjamin took control of Metalik while Alexander did the same with Dorado in the corner. Alexander hit a basement dropkick to the back of a sitting Dorado as M.V.P. exclaimed about the impact of the move. They had Metalik & Dorado isolated in separate corner, but Metalik fought back only to be hit with a big backbody drop by Benjamin. Alexander sent Dorado to the outside, then hit a snap suplex on Metalik for a two-count. Dorado rushed in, but then ate a bunch of body knees from Benjamin. He put Dorado in a Gory Especial, and Alexander hit a dropkick on the exposed Dorado. Benjamin covered for a two-count.

Metalik fought back against Alexander as Benjamin tossed Dorado outside the ring, but the numbers caught up to Metalik. Benjamin hit a snap suplex, then Alexander hit a big jumping knee to a prone Metalik. Alexander threw Dorado into the barricade and side of the ring, then rolled him back inside. Metalik tried fighting back against Benjamin in a corner as Alexander beat on Dorado in another. Benjamin hit a powerbomb out of the corner to regain the advantage. Alexander pinned, but had it broken up by Dorado, who covered his partner in protection.

Dorado ate a bunch of double team strikes in the corner as Alexander yelled, “LUCHA!” They looked for a double team, but Dorado took out Alexander with a superkick. Metalik hit a tornado DDT followed by a big splash by Dorado. They both covered him, but Alexander broke it up. Benjamin rolled outside as LHP double-teamed Alexander. He fought back with strikes, but got caught on the second rope. Dorado hit a springboard head scissors, followed by Metalik walking the ropes. Alexander moved, and Benjamin hit a Pounce to Metalik to remove him from the match. Alexander hit Dorado right into a Paydirt from Benjamin for the victory. They showed replays after the match as the Tag Team Champion celebrated in the ring.

WINNER: The Hurt Business at 5:51 (Paydirt)

-The announcers shifted Priest vs. Angel Garza, and played a recap of last week’s events that led to Bunny becoming 24/7 Champion. Bunny then made his entrance with the title over his left shoulder and the 24/7 lower third. He even had pyro. The lights dimmed as Priest made his entrance next for his match with Garza. They cut to break. [c]

(4) DAMIAN PRIEST (w/Bad Bunny) vs. ANGEL GARZA

They returned with Priest and Bunny talking to each other as Garza’s music hit and he made his entrance, slowly and sensually. Priest immediately hit a huge lariat at a charging Garza for a two-count. He beat on Garza in the corner, including two huge right hands, then hit a leg lariat for a one-count. Priest has the Puerto Rican flag painted on his left quad area of the tights. Garza poked the eye, kicked the knee, hit a clothesline, removed his pants, and threw them in Bunny’s face. He beat on a prone Priest as he trash talked Bunny. He mounted Priest and reigned down strikes, then hit a basement dropkick, forcing Priest into the corner.

Garza hit a running bootwash, then posed in the rope talking more trash. He looked for a Camel Clutch and locked it in. Priest fought out, but Garza kicked him three times to the small of the back, and locked in the hold again. Garza talked more smack to Bunny, but that allowed Priest to fight out. Garza hit a forearm to the back, but Priest elbowed Garza’s arm as he tried to punch, hit some more strikes, a bellclap, and head kick. He then charged Garza in the corner and hit a flying back elbow, then hit the Broken Arrow for a two-count. Garza crawled to the apron, but Priest grabbed him and pulled him back. Garza held onto the ropes, landed a haymaker, then setup for the Wing Clipper.

Priest fought out, but Garza hit a furious clothesline to send Priest over the ropes. Garza turned and talked smack to Bunny, then invited him in the ring. Bunny walked up the steps as Garza held the ropes down. The ref tried to get him to focus on the match. Priest kicked Garza in the face, then hit an avalanche spinning heel kick off the top rope. He then hit Hit the Lights for the victory. They showed replays on the closing moments and reiterated Garza was too focused on Bunny (what a way to sell Priest, huh?). They celebrated in the ring together as the 24/7 crew made their way to the ring. Akira Tozawa, Humberto Carrillo, & Drew Gulak were easily dispatched. They hyped Orton appearing next as they cut to break. [c]

WINNER: Damian Priest at 6:14 (Hit the Lights)

(Hazelwood’s Take: Curious match in that Garza lasted as long as he did even though he hasn’t really been built as much of a credible threat on Raw. Even if you’re trying to get him over slightly with his fight against Priest, it would have made more sense to build him up against lesser talent like the three at the end of the segment before he had this showing against Priest. His focus on Bunny also took away from Priest because he basically needed Bunny to defeat Garza.)

-They returned with another vignette for Rhea Ripley. I’m very excited for her presence on Raw. Samoa Joe hyped her as “The Nightmare” as Phillips shifted to the Randy Orton-Alexa Bliss saga. They replayed the events of last week’s gauntlet match when all the screens turned into a laughing face of Bliss, causing Orton to be counted out of the gauntlet match. They cut to Orton in the back who said failure is not a word that he is all too familiar with. He said recently, lately, he finds himself surrounded by it. He said he should have won the gauntlet match, and without that advantage, he was the first eliminated. He wondered what the distraction was.

He said he does whatever it takes to get rid of distractions, like The Fiend. The Fiend was a distraction so what did he do? He set him on fire. They showed that. They cut back to Orton and he said The Fiend is no more, he is not coming back. He said he finds himself in limbo and wonders why he can’t focus on the WWE title. He coughed a bit, then said it’s because he’s distracted by Alexa Bliss. They then showed her sitting in the pentagram from last week. They cut back to Orton, who wretched a bit as he started coughing up blood. He walked away from the set.

-They shifted to the Charlotte Flair-Lacey Evans angle with last week’s announcement of Evans’ pregnancy. They cut back to the arena as Flair made her entrance. Phillips said many are still perplexed by Ric Flair’s response to Evans’ announcement last week. They cut to break. [c]

(Hazelwood’s Take: Well, I guess the pentagram was more than just for show, eh? Orton was passionate at least, but the cuts to the replays were too cute.)

(5) CHARLOTTE FLAIR & ASUKA vs. SHAYNA BASZLER  & NIA JAX (c) – Non-title match

Flair was waiting in the ring as Asuka made her entrance next. Her Women’s Championship match last night was scrapped due to Evans’ announcement last week. Baszler was next, followed by Jax. They’ve used the high res camera on most entrances tonight, including all four here. Asuka and Baszler began the match, both feeling each other out a bit. They traded arm-wringers before Baszler hit a leg kick. Asuka blocked the next and went for a German Suplex, but Baszler blocked.

Asuka shifted to an octopus attempt, but Baszler attempted a stretch muffler. Asuka transitioned into an armbar attempt, then dragged Baszler to the corner to tag in Flair. Baszler broke away and tagged in Jax. They locked up before they started trading strikes, Flair getting the better with chops. Baszler tagged in, but was hit with an exploder. Asuka entered and they hit a double dropkick to send Jax out, then Asuka hit a hip attack to Baszler to send Baszler outside the ring. They cut to break. [c]

They returned with Jax in control of Asuka, isolating her in their corner. Baszler tagged in, hit a stiff kick to the back, and scored a two-count. She grabbed Asuka’s left arm and began working it to the mat, twisting on the wrist as Asuka yelled. She tagged in Jax as she stomped on Asuka’s elbow. Jax tied Asuka’s arm up in the ropes, then tagged in Baszler, who hit a stiff body punch. She worked the left arm again, twisting the wrist. She wanted another stomp, but Asuka turned it into a rollup for a two-count and then a head kick. Flair tagged in.

[HOUR THREE]

Flair unleashed strikes on Baszler, but missed as she rushed the corner. Baszler tagged in Jax, then they looked for a double suplex. Flair fought out, clotheslined Baszler, then cleared Baszler and kicked Jax in the knee. Jax caught a running Flair in a powerbomb for a two-count. Jax locked in a rear chinlock. Flair fought out with a jawbreaker, but was immediately hit with a clothesline. Jax dragged her to their corner and tagged in Baszler.

Baszler began working Flair’s arm and tried for a standing Kimura lock. Flair rolled it into a quick pin, but Baszler cut her off and tagged in Jax. They’ve kept Flair in their corner, but she knocked Baszler off the apron and hit an ugly sunset bomb on Jax. Baszler tagged in and knocked Asuka off of the apron before Flair could make the tag. Flair locked in the Figure Four, but Jax hit a leg drop to break up the hold.

Baszler grabbed Flair’s foot to prevent the tag, but Flair fought out and tagged in Asuka. She hit a missile dropkick, then Baszler tagged in Jax, who ate a head kick. Asuka hit repeated running hip attacks to both in the corner, sidestepped a charging Jax who hit Baszler, hit a codebreaker, and looked for an armbar. Baszler broke it up with a kick to Asuka’s face, but Asuka tried for the Asuka Lock. Flair looked to kick Baszler, but hit Asuka instead. Jax then hit a leg drop for the win. They showed replays of the final moments, reiterating it was a mistake.

WINNER: Shayna Baszler & Nia Jax at 12:19 (leg drop)

-After the match, Flair looked upset and extender her hand to Asuka. Asuka hit them away and yelled out, frustrated, in Japanese. Flair looked shocked that her apology was rejected as she left the ring. Phillips then shifted to a video replay of McMahon’s announcement earlier in the night about Strowman vs. Lashley and the stipulation he added. Phillips said Strowman hasn’t competed since the Royal Rumble match, and hasn’t has a single match since October I believe. They cut back to the arena as Jeff Hardy made his entrance looking no worse for wear after last night as they cut to break. [c]

(Hazelwood’s Take: So it looks like we’re barreling toward Asuka vs. Flair for the Women’s Championship. How…redundant.)

-They returned with Hardy posing on the turnbuckle with his music still playing. Sheamus made his entrance next as the announcer’s said neither could be at 100 percent after both being in the Elimination Chamber match last night. Phillips said McIntyre must be feeling even worse than these two because of how long he was in the match and because he isn’t WWE Champion anymore.

(6) JEFF HARDY vs. SHEAMUS

Sheamus charged Hardy immediately and hit him with kicks and punches. He whipped Hardy into the corner, but Hardy countered only to eat a big lariat from Sheamus. Sheamus hit a European uppercut, then started reigning down elbows to Hardy’s chin. Hardy fought back with punches, sent Sheamus outside, then was all over him as Sheamus reentered. Sheamus hit a thunderous lariat out of the corner.

He looked for White Noise, but Hardy fought out and sent Sheamus to the apron. Sheamus struck Hardy, but Hardy countered and hit a basement dropkick to drop Sheamus to the floor. Hardy ran and leapt off the steps, hitting Sheamus with a leg lariat into the barricade. They cut to break. [c]

They returned with Sheamus beating on a grounded Hardy, but Hardy fought to his feet only be hit with not one, but three Irish Curse backbreakers for a two-count. Sheamus did a modified Tean Beats of the Bodhran to a seated Hardy, then drove his knee into Hardy’s face. Hardy tried fighting back with body shots and a seated jawbreaker, but was caught when he went for the Twist of Fate. He was able to sidestep a rushing Sheamus, who hit the post shoulder-first, then hit Whisper in the Wind on Sheamus.

They traded strikes on the feet before Hardy hit his standard combo of moves ending with the splash. However, Sheamus rolled the splash into a two-count, but was dropped right in front of the corner. Hardy hit a second rope splash for a two-count. Hardy hit a mule kick, which sent Sheamus into the corner. Hardy went for his elevated dropkick, but Sheamus kicked him away. Hardy recovered enough to hit the Twist of Fate and slowly climbed for the Swanton Bomb.

Sheamus moved as Hardy landed on his feet, favoring his knee. Sheamus missed the Brogue Kick as Hardy rolled him up for a two-count. Sheamus hit a pump knee strike, then the Brogue Kick for the victory.

WINNER: Sheamus at 10:15 (Brogue Kick)

-They cut to the back with Flair addressing her father. She said she can’t focus with all this business between him and Evans. She said this wasn’t about who’s better, but about protecting the legacy of their last name. She said what we see out there is not the performer she is, so she asked her father to please leave. Papa Flair said he never said he was the father, and that he saw a lot of potential in her. Flair interrupted and said he’s always seen a lot of potential in a lot of blondes. He said he would like to think he had a hand in her success, but he was just trying to expand the brand: Ric Flair, the man behind the Women’s Champion.

He said if she has the audacity to think he’s doing anything to trash their name, she’s wrong. She said she doesn’t see it that way. She said he came here to be her dad, her cheerleader, her fan, but said he’s taking her spotlight. She asked if he thought it was funny. She said her time in the ring is to prove she is Charlotte Flair, not her father. She said she’s thankful for the doors he’s opened and the things he’s given her, but let her try to be Charlotte Flair. She said she loved him and walked away as they cut to break. [c]

(Hazelwood’s Take: Look, there was genuine emotion and passion in that segment. Charlotte wasn’t melodic or condescending in tone; she sounded like a real person. I’m still not sure how to take this in its entirety, though. On the micro, I don’t think there’s much they can do to save this angle. Looking at the macro, it would be nice if we could see more of this intensity, passion, and realness from Flair and others moving forward. The only thing missing was Charlotte giving her father a superkick after saying, “I love you.”)

-They returned with Phillips recapping the “disturbing” moment from earlier of Orton coughing up blood.

(7) LANA & NAOMI vs. MANDY ROSE & DANA BROOKE

Naomi and Brooke began with Naomi gaining the quick advantage and tagging in Lana. Lana slammed Brooke into the mat for a two-count, but was rolled up for a one-count. Brooke gained the advantage and tagged in Rose. Brooke bodyslammed Lana and Rose hit a running knee for a two-count. She sent Lana into their corner and kicked away before tagging in Brooke, who hit her handspring back elbow and tagged in Rose again.

Rose went for a bodyslam, but Lana slipped out and tagged in Naomi. Lana took out Brooke from the apron. They hit a double facebuster for the victory. After the match, they showed Lashley warming up in the back. A.J. Styles music then played as he made his entrance with Omos. They cut to break. [c]

WINNER: Lana & Naomi at 1:37 (double facebuster)

(8) A.J. STYLES (w/Omos) vs. RICOCHET

They returned with Ricochet making his entrance. Styles tried rushing Ricochet, but was hit a dropkick. Ricochet hit some kicks to Styles that sent him to the outside. He rushed back in, but was hit with a bodyslam and some strikes for a one-count. Styles rolled out of a suplex attempt and took out Ricochet’s knee. He hit a snap suplex into the turnbuckles on Ricochet. He followed up with a pendulum backbreaker for a two-count, then immediately locked in a rear chinlock.

Ricochet fought to his feet, but was hit with a picture-perfect dropkick from Styles. They showed Omos watching calmly, unmoving. Ricochet caught a gloating Styles with a flurry of strikes, grounding him in a corner. Styles responded with a double chop to the throat, then a gourdbuster across the top rope. He tried catching him in the Styles Clash like last month, reset, but Ricochet hit a head scissors for a two-count. He landed another impact move for a two-count, then climbed for the 630. He rolled through as Styles moved, but Styles hit a knee that crumpled Ricochet to the mat. Styles Clash landed, victory for Styles. After the match, Omos entered the ring, deadlifted Ricochet up by his throat in a two-handed chokeslam, and then just tossed Ricochet to the mat from a good nine feet in the air.

WINNER: A.J. Styles at3:49 (Styles Clash)

-They hyped “Raw Talk” with Riddle, Naomi & Lana, and A.J. Styles & Omos. They showed The Miz & Morrison in the back stressing about the situation as Strowman approached. They just walked away as they cut to break with the main event next. [c]

(9) BRAUN STROWMAN vs. BOBBY LASHLEY (w/M.V.P.) – if Strowman wins, next week’s WWE Championship match becomes a triple threat match; if Lashley wins, it remains The Miz vs. Lashley

They returned with Strowman’s new entrance, complete with way too much smoke. Lashley & M.V.P. entered next with less than seven minutes left in the show. The Miz’s music hit before the bell could ring as he made his way to the ring sans Morrison. They started the match with a lockup, going around the ring against the ropes in a test of power and wills. Strowman gained the advantage as The Miz joined commentary. Lashley hit a go-behind and hit a quick slam. Strowman returned the favor in kind for a one-count, then punched Lashley over and over. He whipped him into the corner hard.

He gave Lashley a series of back elbows, then hit a running avalanche. He setup for the powerslam, but Lashley grabbed the top rope. Strowman just tossed Lashley outside instead. He exited the ring and missed the Strowman Express as Lashley leapt to the apron and Strowman crashed into the steps. Lashley leapt off the steps and hit a clothesline. They reentered the ring and Lashley hit a basement dropkick to the knee and a flatliner for a one-count. He hit a bevvy of punches to a downed Strowman and setup for The Hurt Lock. He tried locking it in, but Strowman fought out.

Lashley went for a suplex, lifted Strowman, but couldn’t complete it. Strowman hit a big lariat to Lashley, then a corner avalanche and powerslam for only a two-count! Lashley kicked out as everyone was shocked. He tried again, but Lashley slipped out and hit a one-armed spinebuster and a big spear for the victory. Strowman kicked out just after the three. The WWE Championship match next is official.

After the match, he hit Strowman with the chop block and The Hurt Lock to Strowman, on one knee. He tossed Strowman as The Miz tried rushing him with the title only to be hit with that huge spinebuster and big spear. Lashley & M.V.P. stood tall over a felled WWE Champion as they showed replays. The show ended with Lashley on the turnbuckle holding up the WWE Championship.

WINNER: Bobby Lashley at 4:18 (spear)

(Hazelwood’s Take: I’m just glad they didn’t add Strowman to the match. Singles matches are always better.)

FINAL THOUGHTS: Well, this was a pretty meh episode. The biggest points will be the interaction between Ric & Charlotte Flair and Lashley defeating Strowman. However, this felt like what is known in anime as a “filler episode.” Most of the matches and segments didn’t advance much, mostly there to just fill time. With Fastlane only a few weeks away, one would think the build would have started tonight, but that’s not the case.

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