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WWE MONDAY NIGHT RAW TV REPORT
MARCH 1, 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 contributor Frank Peteani to break down the show with live callers and emails.
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(Hazelwood’s Take: …LASHLEY! LASHLEY! LASHLEY! I know Wade Keller hated it when Lio Rush would yell that, but LASHLEY! LASHLEY! LASHLEY! LashleyMania!)
-They began with a recap video from last week, culminated with Bobby Lashley’s victory over Braun Strowman to keep it a singles match for the WWE Championship and The Miz’s subsequent failed attack on Lashley. Tom Phillips welcomed us with his usual lines and called it one of the biggest nights in the history of Monday Night Raw as Byron Saxton hyped the WWE Championship match. Phillips then moved to hyping Drew McIntyre vs. Sheamus to start the night as McIntyre’s music hit, making his first appearance since losing his title at Elimination Chamber.
He took the mic and said it’s been a bitch of a month for him. He started with Sheamus and a “20-year friendship severed.” He said we should stick around because they’re going to beat the hell out of each other. He then brought up the events of the Chamber match (he entered at number three) where he successfully defended the WWE Championship, the attack after the match by Lashley, then the cash in by the “resident cockroach” The Miz. “That’s right everybody, The freaking Miz is WWE Champion,” he said in disgust.
He stared at the WrestleMania sign and said he has a clear vision in his head of what’s to happen: regain the WWE Championship and main event WrestleMania. He said he didn’t win the title in The Thunderdome, main even show after show just to get screwed out of the finish line and said Lashley has the biggest target on his back. As he tuned back to Sheamus, The Miz’s music hit as McIntyre smiled in the, “Did he really just do that?” look.
The Miz & John Morrison stood on the ramp as The Miz said he would like to be properly introduced, no, officially introduced as Mike Rome introduced him as the current WWE Champion, complete with stage pyro, an abundance of pyro. He said he couldn’t help overhearing everything McIntyre said and that he admires how McIntyre has handled everything with class. He said everything that happened to McIntyre was out of his control. The Miz called himself the greatest superstar of his generation.
McIntyre said The Miz should step right in and give him a big hug, but The Miz politely declined. He asked why McIntyre would be upset with The Miz. Morrison asked would you be mad at an eagle flying in the sky, or a dolphin swimming in the ocean, and The Miz said the same holds true for the Money in the Bank briefcase holder. He then tried to shift the blame to Lashley. McIntyre said he knows The Miz is a “master manipulator” and that it may have worked on Lashley, but not on him.
The Miz said he didn’t ask for nor desired help from Lashley. He said he’s the victim in the whole thing because he’s a husband and a father of two; Lashley threatened him, so he had to give in to the demands. He asked why, why, why would someone like Lashley get the first shot and not someone more deserving like McIntyre? Morrison answered it’s because of Lashley. They tried to make it a trio and called it the “Three M-igos” as The Hurt Business’ music hit.
M.V.P. walked out with his boss walking stick and asked if this was the beginning of a new, beautiful business relationship or the desperate drabblings of two idiots. McIntyre said he rebuffed them like he rebuffed The Hurt Business because he doesn’t need anyone’s help. M.V.P. said that doesn’t change the fact that Lashley will win tonight. He said oh, he almost forgot to mention, the match will begin promptly at 9 p.m. EST. He said in less than an hour, Lashley will absolutely destroy you.
The Miz looked scared and tried to say Lashley was a menace as Sheamus’ music hit. He said McIntyre doesn’t give a damn about anybody but himself. He said that’s OK since he won’t be in any shape to help anyone after the match as they brawled outside the ring. A slew of refs came down to separate them, but McIntyre clotheslined Sheamus over the barricade. He posed on the middle turnbuckle as Sheamus looked on. They cut to break. [c]
(Hazelwood’s Take: There was SO much going on in that segment. M.V.P. was short and sweet, and I like that The Hurt Business keeps placing importance on time. As Lashley said last week, if you’re wasting his time, you’re wasting his money. The Miz does have great facial expressions.)
(1) DREW MCINTYRE vs. SHEAMUS
They returned with a countdown clock for the WWE Championship match. They started brawling as the bell rang, Sheamus gaining the early advantage. As the ref admonished him, McIntyre took advantage with chops in the corner, an Irish whip, back elbow, and pin for a two-count. Sheamus kicked McIntyre in the gut and hit a short-arm clothesline. He hit a second rope knee for a two-count, then applied a modified armlock. They hyped Damian Priest (w/Bad Bunny) vs. Elias (w/Jaxson Ryker) as McIntyre hit an overhead suplex. He stomped on Sheamus’ head, then whipped Sheamus hard into the corner.
Sheamus picked the leg of McIntyre and tripped him, followed by three stomps to the gut and a hard knee to the head. He had an armlock/fishhook combo locked in, then let go to hit some 12-6 elbows to the side of McIntyre’s head for a two-count (12-6 elbows are still somehow illegal in the Unified Rules of MMA). He gave McIntyre a stiff kick, but McIntyre rushed Sheamus into the ropes, causing him to get caught up. McIntyre hit his own version of Ten Beats of the Bodhran on Sheamus. Sheamus responded by sending McIntyre to the outside.
As McIntyre climbed the apron, Sheamus hit him with a flurry of strikes, including three to the spine as he set for the Ten Beats. McIntyre fought out, but ate a knee on reentry and a Brogue Kick that sent McIntyre to the floor as they cut to break. [c]
They returned with Sheamus reigning down elbows to the chest of a prone McIntyre, then placing his knee on McIntyre’s face. McIntyre fought to his feet with punches and chops, but was hit an Irish Curse for a two-count. he kicked the small of McIntyre’s back and locked in modified Camel Clutch with a fishhook that nearly had him disqualified. He kicked McIntyre around the ring a bit, then shoved his throat into the second rope. He followed with another rib kick and a rope-assisted knee to the face.
McIntyre rolled to the apron, but Sheamus hit the Ten Beats this time, well, four beats as the ref actually counted fast. McIntyre and Sheamus then start slapping each other over and over before McIntyre began his comeback with lariats and his overhead suplex. As he went for one out of the corner, Sheamus fought it off, but McIntyre clotheslined Sheamus over the top to the outside. Sheamus tried ramming McIntyre into the post, but McIntyre turned it around and then hit an overhead suplex to Sheamus on the edge of the announce desk.
The ref counted, but McIntyre broke the count as he looked to inflict more damage. He hit a release vertical suplex onto the announce desk, then rolled Sheamus back into the ring. He climbed the top, waited, then hit a flying clothesline for a close two-count. He looked for the Future Shock, but Sheamus fought out and hit a big clothesline as he sat in the corner to regain some energy (he looked exhausted). He climbed to the top as McIntyre kipped up, then hit a running leaping Glasgow Kiss. He then hit an avalanche overhead belly-to-belly for a two-count as they cut to break. [c]
They returned with both men beating on each other from their knees, then on their feet with McIntyre gaining the advantage with a rollup for a two-count, a spinebuster, and a jackknife cover for a two-count. Future Shock attempt was blocked again, followed by a pump knee, two-count, White Noise, and another two-count for Sheamus. He looked for the Cloverleaf, but McIntyre rolled it for a two-count and finally hit the Future Shock on the third attempt for a two-count.
McIntyre set for the Claymore, but Sheamus rolled to the apron. He hung McIntyre up face-first then arm-first to floor McIntyre. He brought McIntyre to the top rope with him, but McIntyre fought back and hit an avalanche White Noise for a two-count. That was the second time McIntyre’s used a Sheamus maneuver in the match. McIntyre shook his head a bit in disbelief before looking for another Future Shock. Sheamus fought out and hit an Alabama Slam for a two-count. Phillips said McIntyre used the move, but McIntyre does the inverted Alabama Slam where the opponent lands front-first rather than back-first.
Sheamus crawled to the corner to recover as McIntyre barely moved. Sheamus then set for the Brogue Kick as McIntyre used the ropes to stand. Sheamus went for it, but McIntyre hit a Brogue Kick in mid-air! He pinned Sheamus for the victory after using Sheamus’ finisher. Ouch. On replay, it may have been the Claymore.
WINNER: Drew McIntyre at 23:04 (Brogue Kick/Claymore)\
-After the match, they stared at each other a bit. They then hyped the WWE Championship match with 15 minutes left on the countdown clock. They showed Naomi dancing her way to the ring from the back as she was suddenly approached by Nia Jax. They glared at each other as Saxton hyped their match, which is next. [c]
(Hazelwood’s Take: A rare 20+ minute match on WWE TV. It was exactly what you’d expect from these two. I do like the story of these two knowing each other so well they not only countered signature moves, but even saw McIntyre utilize some of Sheamus’ arsenal. A good bit of in-ring storytelling to match the out-of-ring story they’ve been telling between these two.)
(2) NAOMI (w/Lana) vs. NIA JAX (w/Shayna Baszler)
They returned showing the countdown clock with just under 11 minutes until the WWE Championship match. Naomi made her entrance with her partner Lana first. Jax & Baszler made their entrance as Phillips hyped the Tag Team Championship match they’ll compete in on NXT. Naomi immediately attacked Jax, but Jax sent her off the ropes and then just bodied her to the ground. She hit a biel across the ring, grabbed Naomi by the hair, and then suffered a slap.
Naomi kicked Jax and hit a running, sitting jawbreaker. She hit a flurry of quick strikes, but then ate two stiff Jax elbows to send her to the mat. Jax locked in a bearhug for about 30 second before Naomi hit some elbows to the head and tried for a sunset flip. Jax lifted her and gave her a headbutt and Samoan Drop. She glared and talked trash to Lana before hitting her powerbomb/chokeslam combo for the pinfall victory. After the match, Lana checked on her partner. They cut to an intense closeup of Lashley’s face as they hyped the WWE Championship match one more time with just over three minutes remaining as they cut to break. [c]
WINNER: Nia Jax at 2:19 (powerbomb/chokeslam combo)
(Hazelwood’s Take: Yeah…that doesn’t make me any more excited or intrigued to see Naomi & Lana challenge Jax & Baszler for the titles. That is, of course, unless they lose it to Dakota Kai & Raquel Gonzalez. Even then, I wouldn’t believe they have a shot to win.)
-They returned with a vignette for Rhea Ripley, similar to the ones from last week. Raw really, really needs Ripley, and I’m very excited. The Hurt Business’ music hit as Lashley & M.V.P. made their way to the ring.
That 8K camera looked good on Lashley and M.V.P. with that suit. Lashley helped M.V.P. into the ring by lowering the second rope a bit. Rome gave intros during entrances rather than when both men were in the ring. It’s a small thing, but shouldn’t the WWE Championship, of all titles, receive the formal championship introductions with both competitors in the ring?
Lashley paced as they waited for The Miz’s music to hit. It finally hit, but The Miz was nowhere to be seen. An angry Lashley and perturbed M.V.P. asked what was up as they cut to the back with The Miz grabbing his gut. Adam Pearce appeared as The Miz said he’s cramping up and it’s coming out of both ends. Pearce started giving The Miz a pep talk, but Lashley ran to the back. The Miz said people are probably laughing at him and pleaded for more time.
Lashley appeared, grabbed The Miz by the throat, and threw him to the ground. Morrison called for a towel, but Pearce said even if he has to carry The Miz out there himself, the match is happening at 10 p.m. EST. Strowman’s music hit as he made his entrance. They advertised a tag match with a mystery partner for Strowman. They cut to break. [c]
(Hazelwood’s Take: It’s annoying, yes, and obviously a ploy, yes, but it also fits The Miz’s character. I like that Lashley showed restraint as well because he knows that if he destroys The Miz outside the confines of a match, he won’t even have a WWE Championship match. The subtle things, at times, are working well tonight.)
-They returned with a renewed countdown clock at 52 minutes remaining. Strowman grabbed the mic and said it’s obvious Pearce & Shane McMahon have an agenda against him. He said first he was suspended for headbutting Pearce (ya think?), then didn’t qualify for the Chamber match because he isn’t a former WWE Champion (he said “W-dub-E”). He said now he has a tag match he just found about with a partner he doesn’t know, and it’s starting to piss him off.
McMahon’s music hit as he strutted out with a more melancholy Pearce behind him. The approached while speaking to each other, then looked to calm Strowman down as they entered the ring. McMahon said relax, chillax, and said they’re not out here laughing at him. they can see that Strowman’s inability to reach his own personal goals has him messed up, angry, and upset. He said he’s out there to help him, and said ask Pearce, he helps a lot of people. He said he’s taking an MBA course on conflict management.
He said the text, which is way above Strowman’s reading level (he said it’s a joke as Strowman approached), he said the key to conflict resolution is communication and that’s what his tag team match is about. He said Pearce didn’t make the match, he did because no matter who the partner is, Strowman needed to work with WWE management and the only way to work with WWE management was to force him into a match with WWE management and said that’s who his partner is.
Strowman asked if it would be McMahon, who said not to be ridiculous. He said Strowman only has conflict with one person in WWE management, who will be his partner, and that’s Pearce. Pearce looked worried, Strowman said that sucked, and McMahon told him not to be so myopic in his thinking. He said the match is now for the Tag Team Championship. Strowman said that doesn’t sound bad, but he promised that if Pearce screws it up, he’s going to get these hands. He grabbed Pearce and yelled at him as they cut to break. [c]
(3) BRAUN STROWMAN & ADAM PEARCE vs. THE HURT BUSINESS (c) (Cedric Alexander & Shelton Benjamin) – Tag Team Championship match
They returned with Strowman’s music going while they still argued in the ring and Pearce still in his suit as The Hurt Business’ music hit for about the fourth time tonight. The Tag Team Champion made their way to the ring. Strowman started the match by bulldozing both of his foes as they discussed strategy. He sent Benjamin and then Alexander over the top to the outside, then went outside for the Strowman Express. He ran over both and rolled Alexander back into the ring. He whipped Alexander hard into the turnbuckle, then hit a short-arm clothesline. Pearce stood on the apron with a mollified look on his face.
Strowman stomped away at Alexander, then hit a huge biel all the way from one turnbuckle area to another across the ring, then another. He rushed, but hit the post as Alexander moved. He tagged in Benjamin as Alexander hit a basement dropkick to the knee and Benjamin hit a climbing knee. Strowman punched Alexander out of the ring, then hit a running powerslam to Benjamin. McMahon jumped up and told him to tag Pearce. He made the (hard) tag as Pearce was rolled up for the defeat.
After the match, Pearce quickly escaped as Strowman yelled his frustrations at McMahon. He said he would wreck the place and the blood would be on McMahon’s hands. He walked away as McMahon looked on. They showed replays of the final sequence, highlighting Strowman’s angry face.
WINNER: The Hurt Business at 3:14 (rollup)
-They cut to the back with Bunny & Priest as Elias & Ryker approached. He said he could feel the mutual respect between Priest and himself, and then said he has an opportunity for Bunny. He said their music changes people, Ryker said it also inspires people, and Elias made a pitch saying Bunny is almost at the pinnacle. He said Bunny has more potential, and that’s where he comes in: they drop a single together to turn the music industry upside down. He said if people cried tears of joy when they first heard The Beatles, imagine their reaction when they hear their song. Bunny said something in Spanish to Priest, who translated it by saying, “He said that’s a no.” They showed they countdown clock at just over 34 minutes as they cut to break. [c]
(Hazelwood’s Take: They didn’t go with the dumb decision of switching titles and they continued their build to Strowman-McMahon at WrestleMania. Again, the little things are working well tonight.)
-They returned showing 30 minutes on the countdown clock. The shifted to Elias & Ryker in the ring with Elias strumming the guitar. He introduced the duo, then said he wanted to enlighten us on the biggest travesty in the music industry today as his album was “snubbed” from the Grammy Awards. He said it would be similar to Tom Brady not being considered for Best Athlete at the ESPYs. He said it’s a good time to remind everyone, especially Bunny, that WWE stands for Walk With Elias. Bunny’s music hit as he entered with pyro. The lights went out as Priest then made his entrance for their match.
(4) ELIAS (w/Jaxson Ryker) vs. DAMIAN PRIEST (w/Bad Bunny)
Samoa Joe put over Priest’s potential as the match started wit a tie-up. A clean break from both men, then Elias gained the advantage with an arm-wringer. Priest reversed into his own as Elias grabbed the rope to break the hold. Elias locked in cavate briefly, but Priest worked a modified rear chinlock, then armlock. Elias tried fighting back, but Priest kept the hold on until Elias kneed Priest in the abdomen. Elias missed a clothesline and ran into a leaping back elbow, leg lariat, and a clothesline over the top rope. Elias and Bunny stared at each other a bit as Elias should have been counted out if the ref didn’t stop his count as they cut to break. [c]
They returned with both men tied up and Elias with a side headlock. Elias ran the ropes, leapfrog from Priest, then jumping back elbow. He locked in an armlock to the left arm again, but Elias broke out with a chop and kick. They exchanged strikes on the feet. Elias went for the leaping knee, missed, and was hit an arm drag as Priest once again locked in the armlock. Elias reached the ropes to break the hold, but instead of a clean break, he shoved Priest into the ropes and caused him to go neck first into the rope.
Elias pounded away at Priest in the corner, then hit a running boot. He went to the outside and slammed prone Priest into the apron a few times. He hit a running lariat for a two-count. He hit another running boot to a seated Priest in the corner, then punched Priest. He distracted the ref so Ryker could punch Priest. Elias pinned Priest for a two-count. Elias locked in a modified rear chinlock to Priest, who fought his way to a seated position before being driven back to the mat for a two-count.
Elias locked in a chinlock again as Joe said Elias is going with the “grind down” strategy. Priest powered out, then hit a stiff punch to Elias, followed by and elbow to both arms as Elias tried to punch. Priest hit a combo of punches and kicks, then hit his running corner back elbow and Broken Arrow combo for a two-count. Bunny encouraged Priest to end the match, but Ryker climbed to the apron. He distracted Priest as Elias rolled him up. Priest responded with a sloppy one of his own. He went to the apron, went to launch himself at Elias, but was hit by the leaping knee for another two-count.
A frustrated Elias ducked a spin kick, had Drift Away countered, but was able to rush Priest into the corner chest-first and hit a couple of forearm shivers to the small of the back. He looked for an electric chair. but Priest slid out. He hit the bell clap and Hit the Lights for the victory. Saxton mentioned Priest is still undefeated on Raw.
WINNER: Damian Priest at 15:21 (Hit the Lights)
-They shifted to a video recap of how the WWE Championship match between The Miz and Lashley initially was scheduled. They played “Miz TV” from last week where Lashley had given The Miz another time ultimatum, one that The Miz once again said he needed more time. Lashley also had his best line ever: “Quit wasting my time, Miz, cuz when you’re wasting my time, you’re wasting my money.” They showed the countdown clock at just over five and a half minutes and replayed The Miz’s cramps to explain why the match hadn’t yet occurred. They showed The Miz & Morrison making their way from the back with the former looking rather perplexed. They cut to break. [c]
(Hazelwood’s Take: That match had NO business being 15 minutes; it had no business being half that. Why have Priest work the arm so much, even to the detriment of the match, when the arm didn’t even play into the finish? Remember those little things I was discussing earlier? Yeah, well, here’s exhibit # 3423948294819042309 on their usual process for messing up the little things.)
-They returned by wishing Big E a happy birthday, then shifted to Kayla Braxton in the back as she welcomed Randy Orton. She asked about the “increasingly disturbing events” befalling him. He said he has no idea what happened last week, but he knows Alexa Bliss had a part to play. They played a video of his Papa Shango moment from last week. Orton looked angry as he watched on the screen next to him.
He said unless Bliss wants to end up like The Fiend, she needs to move on from him. The screen changed to Bliss sitting in that pentagram again, laughing as she slowly played a jack-in-the-box and eerily said there’s something Orton should know. She laughed some more as the screen flashed “PAIN” quickly and she said, “Bring it back.” A hooded figure approached, removed the hood, and revealed himself to be Orton with dark, black eyes. This Orton said “Randy” will soon come face-to-face with everything he’s ever done in a demonic voice. Orton began coughing again as he left while the other Orton laughed maniacally.
(5) THE MIZ (c) (w/John Morrison) vs. BOBBY LASHLEY (w/M.V.P.) – WWE Championship match
The Miz & Morrison made their entrance first (I guess to ensure he’s actually in the ring when Lashley enters), followed by the challenger Lashley (w/M.V.P.). The Miz looked on with a distinct look of fear on his face. He looked around as if to find some way out. Lashley entered, glared at the Miz, and then posed on the turnbuckle with pyro going off in the arena. Before Rome could make the introductions, The Miz grabbed a mic.
He said they’re all professionals so they should talk business. He said Lashley has waited 17 years to be WWE Champion, but this isn’t the stage. He said Lashley should do it at WrestleMania: The Miz vs. Lashley in the main event. He said think about the weeks they could feed people to yearn for this match. M.V.P. just said they’re doing it right now as Rome made the formal ring introductions.
The Miz immediately grabbed the title and fled to the back. Lashley had no choice but to let the ref count The Miz out. They cut to break with Lashley & M.V.P. heading up the ramp, frustrated.
WINNER: Bobby Lashley at 0:30 (countout; The Miz retained)
(Hazelwood’s Take: All that build for that, huh? BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.)
-They returned with a replay of The Miz just booking it out of there with his WWE Championship. They cut to an upset Lashley in the back with McMahon saying technically, there was a match, but he won’t let it slide. M.V.P. yelled that it was “bullshit” (he actually said it). McMahon said he’s considering stripping The Miz and putting the title on Lashley. Lashley said he wants to beat the piss out of The Miz. They walked off.
Flair made her entrance as the announcers reminded viewers of her recent issues with her father (she waited for a ref to lower the ropes for her even though she’s presumably a face). She took the mic and said she’s going to be honest that the last few weeks have been an emotional rollercoaster. He came back from being injured to be Asuka’s partner. She didn’t want to be in the title picture because Asuka busted her ass being the Women’s Champion and all she wanted was to be a good partner.
She said along the way, she got entangled with Lacey Evans and her father, and then told her father what she thought last week. She said now they’re only six weeks away from WrestleMania and asked who would face Asuka? She said she thought about it and said her true colors are the she wants to face Asuka for the title. She said no, Asuka is at home injured, and played a video of Baszler kicking a tooth out of Asuka’s mouth last week.
She said she knows Asuka will come back stronger than ever and when she does come back, Flair will challenge her- Baszler’s music hit to interrupt. Baszler said Flair said she might like to call herself “The Queen,” but she’s an army of one. She said Flair should still be partners with Asuka, but she’s also the reason Asuka has no teeth. She said Nia & her are the most dominant force in WWE. She said Flair could benefit from some help.
Jax said it was a shame she sent her father home since the locker room wants to send Flair home. She said no one likes Flair. She said she hates to break it to you, no she loves to break it to her that the balance of power has shifted and that either Baszler or herself will challenge Asuka. She said after Baszler’s done with Flair, Punky Brewster isn’t going to ask for anymore appearances.
Flair said the locker room probably doesn’t like her, but she’s still here. She said they don’t call her the best or greatest, but simply Charlotte Flair. Basler stepped to Flair, who responded with a slap and strikes, only to laid out by Jax. They double teamed her, with Jax hitting a leg drop as Phillips wondered if Flair could wrestle as they cut to break. [c]
(6) CHARLOTTE FLAIR vs. SHAYNA BASZLER (w/Nia Jax)
They returned with the match in progress, Basler in control with some leg kicks and her modified gutwrench for a two-count. Baszler began working the left arm/hand of Flair, who tried to fight back only to be grounded. They showed Naomi & Lana watching on from the back, Naomi grabbing the back of her head to sell her earlier match. Flair fought out with a flapjack, but ran into a bevy of strikes from Bazler.
Baszler went for her gutwrench again, but Flair countered with a backbody drop. She hit a series of chops to Baszler in the corner, then hit her exploder suplex and a kip up. She hit more chops in the corner, then worked the left leg with a chop block. She knocked Jax off of the apron (who tried to distract), then stomped at Baszler. She set for the Figure Four, but Baszler sent her to the outside. Jax rushed her, but Flair moved as Jax hit the steps.
Baszler looked for the Kirifuda Clutch, but Flair slipped out and kicked out the knee. She hit Natural Selection for the victory. After the match, she slid out, looked back, and laughed. They cut to the back with McMahon & Pearce saying they’re going to see Lashley and strip The Miz if he doesn’t make it to the match as they cut to break. [c]
WINNER: Charlotte Flair at around 5:50 (Natural Selection)
(Hazelwood’s Take: You’re telling me Shayna Baszler, a legitimate mixed martial artist, can’t defeat a compromised Charlotte Flair? I’m just sitting here shaking my head.)
(7) RETRIBUTION (T-Bar & Mace & Slapjack) (w/Mustafa Ali & Reckoning) vs. LUCHA HOUSE PARTY (Lince Dorado & Gran Metalik) & RIDDLE – Six-man tag team match
They returned with the countdown clock at just over 15 minutes as the faces made their rings (Retribution were already in the ring when they returned). Riddle and T-Bar began. Riddle tried rushing, but T-Bar immediately hit a chokeslam backbreaker for a two-count, much to Phillips’ and Joe’s delight. Slapjack tagged in and hit a snap suplex on Riddle, who was on the second rope. Mace tagged in, and hit a big sidewalk slam for a two-count.
T-Bar tagged in and hit a pendulum backbreaker, then kept Riddle there for the sub. Riddle hit a few hammerfists, so T-Bar slammed him to the ground. Riddle hit a leaping knee, sent Mace to the outside, then tagged in Dorado. Riddle took out Mace on the outside as Dorado took out Slapjack, who tagged in. Metalik tagged in, walked on his partner’s shoulders, then hit a splash for the victory. Ali angrily entered the ring and told Riddle he wanted Riddle to show them how it’s done. They cut to break. [c]
WINNER: Lucha House Party & Riddle at 2:24 (Splash)
(8) RIDDLE (c) vs. MUSTAFA ALI – Non-title match
They returned with an ad for Raw Talk featuring Jax & Baszler, Elias & Ryker, and McIntyre. They started the match with Riddle using his mat wrestling to gain the advantage, but Ali rolled him up for a two-count. He rushed Riddle, who hit a snap gutwrench. Ali kicked the injured left arm of Riddle and kept working the arm, then hit a neckbreaker for a two-count. He kneed the arm and cinched in an armlock as the countdown clock neared six minutes. Ali went for another neckbreaker, but Riddle caught him in midair for a rear naked choke attempt.
Ali rolled him for a two-count, but Riddle hit a series of strikes and an overhead kick. He hit two running forearms in the corner, an exploder, a Broton, and a PK for a two-count. He attempted a German suplex, but hit a rainmaker Final Flash instead. As he looked for the Floating Bro, Slapjack distracted the ref, then Reckoning, followed by Mace distracting Riddle. This allowed Ali to strike Riddle and hit an avalanche (botched) backstabber) for the win.
WINNER: Mustafa Ali at 3:16 (avalanche backstabber)
-They cut to the back where The Miz hurriedly entered the office of McMahon & Pearce. He said they’re threatening him after he defended the title? He said sure he was counted out, but it was a legitimate match. He said what match will it be? McMahon said he’s not sure, but The Miz will defend the title tonight. The Miz said WWE needs him as WWE Champion because he can do everything; all the segments, the media calls, the talk shows. He said he deserves respect and to main event WrestleMania. He said he’s a main event caliber champion. The countdown clock neared three and a half minutes as they cut to break. [c]
(Hazelwood’s Take: It would have looked REALLY bad for the leader of Retribution, who’s been telling them to follow his lead to glory, lost here. Granted, he would have lost to the United States Champion, but hey, he actually won! Good, as I’d much rather see Ali pushed than Riddle, just maybe not this character of Ali.)
(9) THE MIZ (w/John Morrison) vs. BOBBY LASHLEY (w/M.V.P.) – Lumberjack match for the WWE Championship match
They returned with Lashley’s & M.V.P.’s entrance for, what, the fourth time tonight? The Miz & Morrison entered next with The Miz doing his full shtick at the top of the entrance ramp sans his ridiculous jackets. Rome gave formal introductions once again. The Miz grabbed the title from the ref as McMahon entered.
He said he did think of something: lumberjacks, led by The Hurt Business. The Miz looked apoplectic. He tried hitting Lashley immediately with the title to disqualify himself, but Lashley caught it and ripped it away. The Miz did his best to escape, but the lumberjacks gave him no room. He entered and punched Lashley, who looked furious at the audacity of The Miz punching him. The Miz went outside, tried to plead with the lumberjacks, but was sent back into the ring. Lashley took it to The Miz in the corner with strikes, shoulder thrusts, and a huge biel.
The Miz rolled outside, pleading with Ali, but The Hurt Business sent him back in right to a Lashley clothesline and flatliner. He reigned down punches on The Miz, who punched Lashley in the gut to no effect. Lashley military pressed The Miz to Retribution, who caught him and rolled him back into the ring. Lashley whipped The Miz into the ropes and hit his HUGE spinebuster. He setup for The Hurt Lock, locked it in, the ref called for the bell! New WWE Champion!
Winner: Bobby Lashley at 3:01 (The Hurt Lock) to become NEW WWE Champion
-After the match, he celebrated and posed on the turnbuckle with the obligatory sign point. M.V.P. entered the ring and told Lashley to give it to The Miz again, and he cinched in The Hurt Lock again, just ragdolling The Miz. He finally relented, held up his newly won title after a kiss, then posed with one foot on The Miz’s chest as the show ended.
(Hazelwood’s Take: YES! LASHLEY! LASHLEY! LASHLEY! Now THAT was exactly what it should have been: an outright dominant victory. Let’s just not have him drop the title in 20 days at Fastlane.)
FINAL THOUGHTS: The matches, aside from the first and final matches, really left a lot to be desired tonight even when some of the little things worked. I’m not sure how some people are going to take the okey-doke from The Miz and WWE, but maybe the title change will help them overlook the shady booking and advertising. It was a forgettable show that really needed the Lashley championship victory.