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KELLER’S WWE RAW REPORT
MARCH 1, 2021
ST. PETERSBURG, FLA. AT TROPICANA FIELD (“THUNDERDOME”)
AIRED ON USA NETWORK
Commentators: Tom Phillips, Byron Saxton, Samoa Joe
Ring Announcer: Mike Rome
-They opened with clips of Miz’s WWE Title win celebration last week followed by Bobby Lashley and MVP demanding reciprocation for their help in Miz beating Drew McIntyre, then Lashley beating Braun Strowman.
-Phillips welcomed people to the “critically acclaimed ThunderDome” and said this is one of the biggest nights of Raw ever. Saxton hyped the Miz defense against Lashley. Phillips said McIntyre returns to Raw to face Sheamus in the opener.
-Drew made his way to the ring as a “Drew! Drew!” chant filled the arena. The announcers touted his Elimination Chamber victory. He said February was a rough month with his long time best friend turning on him and then losing his WWE Title to Miz after overcoming five former WWE Champions. He said he didn’t see the Lashley attack coming. “Quite frankly, he kicked my ass,” he said. “Again, and again, and again.” He said then Miz successfully cashed in his Money in the Bank contract.
“That’s right, everybody,” he said with a tone of disgust and shared embarrassment. “The frickin’ Miz is the WWE Champion.” He looked up at the WrestleMania sign and said, “It’s all good.” He said he has a clear vision in his head. He said he will regain the WWE Title and defend his title successfully at WrestleMania. He said he has made the WWE Title “the number one championship in wrestling once again only to get screwed at the finish line.” He said whomever wins tonight has the biggest target on their back.
As he switched to talking about Sheamus, Miz interrupted. Miz and John Morrison walked onto the stage. Miz insisted on being properly introduced. He held up the WWE Title belt and pyro blasted for around ten long seconds. He said that was more like it. Miz said he heard everything Drew said. He said he is handling everything with dignity and class. Morrison said he acted “as a former champion should.” Miz said it was only a matter of time before he’d cash in and become WWE Champion once again. Drew smiled and asked Miz to step into the ring and give him a big hug. Miz said he knows he’s not Drew’s favorite person.
Miz asked why Drew would be upset with him. Morrison said you wouldn’t be upset at an eagle for flying or a dolphin swimming. Miz said he did exactly what he was supposed to do as a MITB holder. He said any animosity should be pointed at Lashley. Drew said he’s a master manipulator, but he won’t bite on that. He said he has to deal with Lashley himself later, and after that if Miz wins, then he’ll be his problem. Miz said he’s actually the victim in this whole situation. He said he’s a father to two baby girls and Lashley threatened his very well-being. He said he had no choice but to make the deal with Lashley. He asked why Lashley would get the first opportunity at the WWE Title instead of Drew, who is more deserving. Morrison blamed Lashley. Miz said they should all work together. He said they could do wonders for each other’s careers.
Lashley and MVP walked out. MVP asked if this is the beginning of a new, beautiful business relationship or just pathetic ramblings of two men. MVP asked if he was taking them seriously. Drew said he knows him well enough to know he doesn’t need any help. MVP said in less than an hour, Lashley will destroy Miz. When MVP and Lashley left, Miz turned to Drew and pleaded with him to align with him because Lashley is a menace.
Sheamus walked onto the stage and said Drew won’t be in shape to help anyone by the time he’s done with him. Drew met him at ringside and they brawled before the bell as several referees tried to separate them. Drew clotheslined Sheamus over the ringside barricade, then entered the ring and stood on the second rope. Phillips said, “Two absolute warriors – Sheamus vs. Drew McIntyre – is next!”
(Keller’s Analysis: You don’t want a babyface to be a complainer and a whiner, but it’d be nice if the announcers would talk about how undeserving a champion Miz considering not only what Drew went through before he pinned him, but also how Miz is the first MITB holder who didn’t win the contract in the ring. And it’d be okay for Drew to point that out, also.) [c]
(1) DREW MCINTYRE vs. SHEAMUS
The match began after the break. The ref yelled at Sheamus early for not breaking in the corner. Phillips framed this as “a pay-per-view caliber match.” Phillips talked about Drew and Sheamus being in “developmental” and “FCW” back in the day. Sheamus continued to control Drew a few minutes in. Sheamus gave Drew a Brogue Kick, sending him to the floor. They cut to a break. [c]
Drew made a comeback after the break and tossed Sheamus onto the announce table. He then overhead tossed him onto it again a minute later. Drew leaped off the top rope and hit a clothesline for a two count. Sheamus came back with a clothesline to drop Drew. He recovered in the corner, then climbed to the top rope. Drew kipped up and gave Sheamus a Glasgow Kiss. Drew then gave Sheaus an overhead suplex. He draped his arm over Sheamus for a near fall. They cut to another break. [c]
Drew landed a spinebuster for a two count. Sheamus connected with a knee for a two count. Then White Noise for another quick cover and two count. Drew countered a Cloverleaf with a small package for a two count. Then he hit a Future Shock DDT for a near fall. Joe declared, “This is incredible!” The corner of the screen hyped Braun Strowman & a mystery partner vs. Cedric & Shelton Benjamin later on Raw. They battled back on the top rope. Drew lifted Sheamus onto his shoulders and leaped back with a White Noise of his own for a near fall.
Sheamus blocked a Drew attempt at a Future Shock DDT and then landed an Alabama Slam for a near fall. Both were slow to get up. When Sheamus went for a Brogue Kick, Drew caught him instead with a Claymore for the win. Drew had a bittersweet reaction as he looked over at Sheamus as he stood.
WINNER: McIntyre in 23:00. (****)
(Keller’s Analysis: That was a standout match. They really went at it. I believe a live audience would have elevated the match to another level. That match could have headlined a PPV.)
-Naomi was beginning to dance to her music backstage when Nia Jax walked up to her. Naomi’s music then stopped (which was cheesy) as she and Jax had a staredown. [c]
-Phillips said this is one of the biggest nights “in history of this brand.” They showed a graphic with a 10 minute countdown until Miz vs. Lashley starts. (If Jax and Naomi have a 25 minute match, would Miz vs. Lashley be delayed or just start in that backstage ring they do interviews in?)
(2) NAOMI (w/Lana) vs. NIA JAX (w/Shayna Baszler)
The announcers hyped the Jax & Baszler title defense on Wednesday’s NXT TV show against Raquel Gonzalez & Dakota Kai. They said a title change that would reverberate to WrestleMania. Naomi made an early comeback attempt with a jaw breaker, but Jax just brushed off her follow-up offense. Jax delivered a Samoan Drop, then looked over at Lana and told her to shut up. Jax then gave Noami a high drop one-armed slam for the clean decisive win. Saxton called that a momentum-killer for Naomi & Lana. Lana entered the ring to check on Naomi. Jax and Baszler looked at her, then left the ring.
WINNER: Jax in 3:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: That made Naomi seem like she wasn’t even in Jax’s league.)
-Phillips said Miz has three minutes to defend his title against Lashley, per their agreement with Lashley. Phillips again called this one of the biggest nights in Raw history.
(Keller’s Analysis: I know it might seem heavy-handed to some people, but I really think it’s smart for Phillips to be touting this as a huge night for Raw. A WWE Title match on live TV should be framed and hyped as a huge deal if you want titles to mean what they can.) [c]
-Another Rhea Ripley vignette aired. It said she’s “coming soon.”
-Lashley and MVP came out first. They milked the moment. Miz’s music played, but he didn’t come out. MVP asked what was up. They cut backstage and Miz was bent over and wincing in pain. He said he was nervous all day and had cramps “and it’s been coming out both ends.” WWE official Adam Pearce said he’s the WWE Champion and he knows what he’s going through, but he has an obligation. Miz said people are laughing at him, but he needs a little more time. Lashley ran backstage and grabbed Miz by his throat and said he’s going to beat his ass for the WWE Title. Then he shoved Miz to the ground. Morrison ran over and looked behind Miz and asked someone to a towel (implying he soiled his pants, I think). Pearce said he has to defend his title at the top of the next hour at 10 ET. Miz continued to look like he was near death.
-Joe said it’s normal to have stomach issues before a big match. He said it’s happened to everyone, including him.
-Braun made his ring entrance. [c]
-Phillips said Miz said his doctor says he’s having stomach issues due to stress, so the clock has been reset to 10 ET. The clock said it was 51 minutes until match time.
-In the ring, Braun said he wanted to address something that’s become obvious. “Adamin (sic) Pearce and Shane McMahon have something against me,” he said. He said without him in the Elimination Chamber match, it sucked. He said now he’s wrestling a tag match and doesn’t even know who his partner is. He said it’s really starting to piss him off. Shane McMahon’s music played. He and Pearce walked out to the ring.
Shane told Braun to relax and chill out a little. “Bro, we’re not out here laughing at you,” he said. “Your inability to reach your own personal goals, you’re a little angry, you’re upset.” He said he helps people all the time and lately he’s helping himself taking some MBA course to make himself better. He said one subject he’s taking is all about conflict management. He said the reading level is above Braun’s level. Braun got upset. Shane told him to calm down. Shane said his tag match is about getting along with others. He said he made the tag match, not Pearce. He said he needs to work with WWE management to resolve his conflict, and that’s why he’s tagged up with WWE management. Braun asked if he’s going to be his tag partner tonight. “Let’s not be ridiculous, Braun,” Shane said. Shane said the only person in WWE management he has any problem with is Pearce. That was news to Pearce. Braun said that sucked. Shane told Braun not to be so myopic. He said they could team up to go after the Raw Tag Team Titles. Braun said that actually doesn’t sound so bad, but if Pearce screws it up, he’s going to “get these hands.” He grabbed Pearce by his lapels. Shane and Pearce calmed Braun down.
(Keller’s Analysis: That’s all weird. Is this a storyline based on Shane being a dick to both Braun and Pearce, making fun of Braun for being stupid and using his power over Pearce to force him into a match he didn’t plan for? I’m not sure what they’re going for here.) [c]
(3) CEDRIC ALEXANDER & SHELTON BENJAMIN vs. BRAUN STROWMAN & ADAM PEARCE
Shane was still explaining himself to Pearce and Braun after the break. Then Shelton and Cedric came out to their music sans MVP. Braun beat up Cedric and Shelton. When he powerslammed Shelton, Shane insisted that Braun then tag Pearce in. Pearce entered, and Shelton gave him a quick cradle for a three count. Braun was fuming mad. Shane acted shocked at how things went. Strowman threatened to wreck everything and it’d be Shane’s fault.
WINNERS: Cedric & Shelton in 3:00 to retain the Raw Tag Team Titles.
-Backstage Elias and Jaxson Ryker approached Damien Priest and Bad Bunny. Elias said his music changes people and compared it to the Beatles. He suggested they work together on a single and he’d have his people call their people. Priest translated Bad Bunny. “That’s a no,” he said. [c]
-The announcers talked about the 30 minutes countdown until Miz must defend his WWE Title against Lashley.
(4) DAMIAN PRIEST (w/Bad Bunny) vs. ELIAS (w/Jaxson Ryker)
Elias and Ryker said his album was snubbed for a Grammy Award. He did his catch phrase, with Ryker joined in with. Then Priest made his entrance with Bunny. Phillips said Bad Bunny drove up to Raw in a three million dollar vehicle. Priest knocked Elias to ringside a few minutes in. They paused oddly long before cutting to a break, waiting for Elias to stand and mouth off to Bad Bunny. [c]
Elias snapped Priest under the top rope after the break, then landed a running face-wash style boot to his face. Elias yanked his arm hard over the ring apron twice. Phillips said he’s never seen Elias “go off like this.” He connected with a running knee to the side of Priest’s face and then scored a near fall in the ring. Saxton said this level of aggression will serve Elias well if he decides to stay at this level in the future. Ryker took a shot at Priest from ringside. Bad Bunny pointed it out to the referee, whose back was turned. Elias locked on a grinding headlock mid-ring.
After one of the longer stretches of a mat hold you’ll see on Raw, Priest made a comeback. He landed a Broken Arrow for a two count. Ryker stood on the ring apron to distract Priest. Elias rolled him up from behind. Priest kicked out and then tried to pull Elias into a pin position. It was a bit of a mess. Elias kicked out at two, sending Priest through the ropes. Priest kicked a charging Elias, but Elias came back with a knee strike on Priest out of mid-air. Priest barely kicked out. Phillips said, “Credit to Damian Priest; he’s showing his toughness tonight.”
For the finishing sequence, Priest avoided a Drift Away, but Elias ducked Priest’s leaping roundkick. Elias took over again and lifted Priest onto his shoulders. Priest dropped down and kicked Elias in the head, then landed Hit the Lights for the win.
WINNER: Priest in 15:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: That was way too long. I don’t know what they were going for, but even in winning, the fact that it took Priest that long to beat Elias defines Priest down already. And the match wasn’t good, so that also works against Priest. I’m guessing WWE wanted Bad Bunny on TV for a very long stretch, and so everyone suffered through a match that went twice as long as it should have. The wrestlers tried, but Elias just isn’t a 15 minute match wrestler, and Priest is better working against more athletic opponents.)
-A video package aired on the Lashley-Miz set-up.
-They went to the announcers at ringside who commented on the countdown clock for Miz. They replayed Miz having cramping issues.
-They showed Morrison giving Miz a bit of a pep talk. Miz looked like he wasn’t feeling well. The countdown clock showed a mere four minutes. [c]
-A commercial aired for the new “24” special on WWE Network on Big E.
-Kayla Braxton interviewed Randy Orton backstage. She asked for his thoughts on the increasing bizarre events he’s been subjected to since TLC when he faced The Fiend. Orton said he doesn’t know what the hell happened last week. He said what he does know is Alexa Bliss had a part to play. They replayed what happened last week with the black substance coming out of Orton’s mouth. Orton said she ought to stay out of his space or there will be no compassion with what happens next. Bliss showed up on a monitor behind him, sitting on a circled star on a floor and giggling. “Randy, you’re so silly,” she said. Then she got serious and said, “Bring it back” to a jack-in-the-box. Her eyes got spooky and she whispered, “Bring it back.” Then they showed an Orton look-alike telling Randy that this won’t end on his terms because soon he will come face-to-face with everything he has ever done. Orton looked at his image on the screen and began gagging again as the Orton figure laughed maniacally.
-Miz and Morrison began their ring entrance. Joe said, “That was a serious issue Miz was having. It happens to all of us.” Phillips said this could be a WrestleMania-altering night. Miz looked nervously at the stage as Lashley began his entrance. As formal ring introductions were about to begin, Miz pitched that they’re both professionals, so they should save this until WrestleMania, the grandest stage of them all. MVP turned him down. Ring introductions commenced. Miz showed some energy and got psyched up as he was introduced.
(4) THE MIZ (w/John Morrison) vs. BOBBY LASHLEY (w/MVP) – WWE Title match
Joe said this could be a WrestleMania match, but it’s about to happen now on Raw. Lashley stared down Miz. The bell rang, and Miz immediately leaped out of the ring, grabbed his belt, and ran to the back. The ref counted Miz out. MVP threw a fit. Lashley showed frustration in the ring.
WINNER: Lashley via countout in 15 seconds, so Miz retained the WWE Title.
(Keller’s Analysis: I kind of admire that Miz is making a mockery of WWE’s dumb rules. So much of what happens in WWE with titles is on an honor system, and Miz doesn’t care about any of that.) [c]
-They replayed Miz getting counted out.
-Backstage, Shane told a fuming angry Lashley and MVP that technically there was a WWE Title match. Shane said he pulled a sly one. MVP yelled, “Shane, this is bullshit, man! Twice we’ve been out there, twice we’ve been screwed. Is this how you run your business.” Shane said he’d consider stripping the WWE Title from Miz and giving it to Lashley. Lashley said he’d rather Shane find Miz so he can “beat the piss out of him.” Shane said he’d start looking.
-Charlotte made her ring entrance. Saxton said Charlotte is usually unflappable, but the issues with Ric Flair and Lacey, “that triangle,” took a toll on her. Phillips said Charlotte is out to protect her legacy and family name. Charlotte struck a pose as her music stopped. Charlotte said she came back from being injured to “legitimately be Asuka’s tag team partner.” She said Asuka has busted her ass for the last six, seven months being an amazing champion. She said she wanted to be a good tag team partner and “kick ass with someone I respect.” She said somewhere along the way, she got tied up with her dad and Lacey.
She said she told her dad last week to go home, and he has gone home. She said now they’re six weeks away from WrestleMania. She said Bianca Belair “has chosen her partner” (she meant opponent) and she’s facing Sasha Banks at WrestleMania. She asked who is going to face Asuka at WrestleMania. She said she thought about it and she’s decided she wants to face Asuka at WrestleMania. She said Asuka is at home injured.
She pointed at the big screen. A replay aired of Baszler kicking a tooth out of Asuka’s mouth last week. They replayed it in slo-mo from two angles. Charlotte said she knows Asuka will come back stronger. She said when she does come back, she’s challenging her for thetitle.
Jax and Baszler walked out next. Baszler said Charlotte is out there talking about herself. She said she’s an army of one, fighting an uphill battle. She said she happens to be the reason that the Raw Women’s Champion has no teeth. She said that she and Jax are the most dominant force in WWE, and this isn’t the Road to WrestleMania she’s accustomed to. Jax said it’s a shame she sent her father home because nobody likes her in the WWE locker room and they’d prefer she went home instead. She said the power in the division has shifted and she needs to get it in her head that it’s going to be one of them who challenges Asuka when she returns. “That’s if she returns,” Jax said. Jax said Charlotte has a nice smile, so is she sure she wants the match against Baszler.
Charlotte said the locker room probably wants her go home. She said people don’t call her the greatest of all time, they call her simply Charlotte Flair. Baszler entered the ring and got in Charlotte’s face. Charlotte hit her. They fought briefly. Jax joined in. They double-teamed Charlotte. Jax yanked off Charlotte’s rob. Baszler held Charlotte’s legs as Jax delivering a running legdrop. [c]
(5) CHARLOTTE vs. SHAYNA BASZLER
Baszler had control of Charlotte at the start of the match. They showed Naomi and Lana watching the match on a monitor backstage. Charlotte made a comeback. She took a shot at Jax who interrupted her setting up a figure-four by stepping up onto the ring apron. Charlotte stomped away at her. Baszler shoved Charlotte to the floor. As Jax charged, Charlotte side-stepped her and shoved her into the ringpost. When Charlotte returned to the ring, Baszler was waiting and kicked her. She applied the Kirafuda Clutch. Charlotte broke free and hit the Natural Selection for the win.
WINNER: Charlotte in 3:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: They just beat Baszler in an unannounced three minute match on Raw. She should have meant so much more. The week after kicking a tooth out of Asuka’s mouth, they beat her quickly.)
-Shane told Pearce to go tell Lashley that if Miz doesn’t show up for his title match against him, he’ll be stripped of the WWE Title and Lashley would be awarded the WWE Title.
(Keller’s Analysis: I like that WWE management is not acting helpless about Miz exploiting the rules. The drama of this extending all show is going to be divisive, but it totally fits Miz’s character to do this charade.) [c]
(6) LUCHA HOUSE PARTY & RIDDLE vs. RETRIBUTION (T-Barr & Mace & Slapjack w/Mustafa Ali, Reckoning)
T-Barr opened with a high chokeslam of Riddle onto his knee for an early near fall. Dorado leaped off of Metalik’s shoulders and splashed Slapjack for the win.
WINNERS: LHP & Riddle in 2:00.
-Ali was upset and challenged Riddle to a match. [c]
(7) RIDDLE vs. MUSTAFA ALI
Joe said Ali is looking to lead by example. Ali worked over Riddle’s arm early with a dropkick and then some knee drives. Mustafa settled into an armbar as the announcers plugged the Miz-Lashley match. Riddle made a comeback and landed a Pelé kick and a flying forearm and then an overhead suplex, a Bro-ton, and a roundkick to the chest for a near fall. Riddle hit a Final Flash knee. Slapjack distracted the ref. Mace distracted Riddle. Ali then gave Riddle an odd-looking top rope move that looked like something going really wrong, but fortunately no one was hurt. Ali then got the pin. Ali yelled at his men to follow his lead from now on.
WINNER: Ali in 3:00.
-Pearce and Shane were chatting when Miz showed up. He asked if they were really threatening to strip him of his title. Miz said he did what every great champion would do, which is retain his title by any means necessary. He said showed up, stomach-ache and all, and defended it legitimately. Miz asked what the stips will be in the match. Shane said he’s not sure yet, but he will make him defend it legitimately. He said he’s going to think about it and make sure it happens. Miz asked if Shane has any idea what will happen to the brand if he’s not a champion. “I’m the Superstar you can revolve an entire brand around!” he said. He touted how he’s always available for media appearances at all hours. “I deserve respect!” he yelled. He tearfully said he has been humiliated when he should have been respected. “What kind of champion do you think Bobby Lashley would be?” he asked. Shane said they might be about to find out. He called him champ and patted him on the shoulder. Miz looked defeated. [c]
(8) THE MIZ (w/John Morrison) vs. BOBBY LASHLEY (w/MVP)
Saxton said in some ways, you have to feel for Miz because of course he would be nervous facing Lashley. Phillips said Miz pleaded his case and said he deserved respect. Saxton said if Miz wants respect and wants to go to WrestleMania, then beat Lashley. After formal ring introductions, Miz yanked the WWE Title belt out of the referee’s arms. Shane walked out to his music and told Miz he thought of something to make sure the WWE Championship is contested fairly. He introduced lumberjacks. Out walked pretty much the entire Raw roster, sans Drew. Saxton said there is no escape for Miz now. Joe called it the perfect idea.
Miz swung the belt at Lashley, but Lashley blocked it and yanked the belt away. Saxton said Miz tried to get himself DQ’d. Joe called it a good attempt. Saxton called it a big fail. Lashley no-sold a Miz punch. Miz rolled to the floor. He pleaded with lumberjacks he thought would be friendly to him. Drew Gulak threw him back into the ring. Lashley then took it to Miz. Phillips said Lashley has been working 17 years for this opportunity to win this title. Miz begged Ali for help at ringside. Shelton and Cedric threw him into the ring. Lashley gave Miz a flatliner, then mounted him and punched away at him. Lashley pressed Miz over the top rope into the arms of T-Barr and Slapjack. Joe said he almost felt sorry for Miz.
Lashley gave Miz a spinebuster. Then he set up the Hurt Lock. He applied it and Miz went out and the ref called for the bell. Lashley looked legitimately emotional as he was announced as the winner. Lashley pointed at the WrestleMania sign as he held up the WWE Title belt.
WINNER: Lashley in 3:00 to become the WWE Champion.
-Lashley put the Hurt Lock back on Miz. Saxton said that was because Miz made him wait. Joe said it was to set an example. Lashley kissed the belt and held it up. MVP then told Lashley do step on Miz’s chest. Lashley did. Phillips said this was one of the biggest nights in the history of Raw.
(Keller’s Analysis: Lashley was hardly a heel here. Yes, it was just eight days ago that he attacked Drew to cost him the title and pave the way for a Miz title reign, but since then, Lashley has been the more sympathetic figure playing off of Miz. I’m curious to see where it goes next in terms of whether they try to position Lashley as a clearcut heel opposite of Drew, and what happens at Fastlane?)