3/22 WWE MONDAY NIGHT RAW REPORT: Hazelwood’s alt-perspective on Fastlane fallout, Ripley’s debut, Lashley vs. Sheamus, Asuka vs. Royce, more

BY BRUCE LEE HAZELWOOD, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR

Full results and analysis of WWE Raw

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WWE MONDAY NIGHT RAW TV REPORT
MARCH 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 and Cameron Hawkins from PWTorch EastCoastCast to break down the show with live callers and emails.

STREAM LIVE HERE ABOUT 5 MINUTES AFTER THE SHOW CONCLUDES
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[HOUR ONE]

-They began with Tom Phillips giving us usual introduction as WWE Champion Bobby Lashley’s awesome new entrance with lightning and full-screen Tron kicked off the show. He wasn’t on Fastlane, but his opponent at WrestleMania, Drew McIntyre, defeated Sheamus in a well-received match last night. Also, please don’t play the “Road to WrestleMania” drinking game or you’ll be unconscious before the first hour is over with how many times Phillips has already said the phrase.

Byron Saxton hyped the WWE Championship match in a few weeks as Lashley & M.V.P. posed in the ring. Samoa Joe compared the 16-year journey for Lashley to McIntyre’s 17-year journey. Sheamus’ music hit next for this show-opening match. They showed some replays of the hellacious No Holds Barred match last night to explain Sheamus’ bruising.

(1) BOBBY LASHLEY (c) (w/M.V.P.) vs. Sheamus – Non-title match

They locked up to begin, but Lashley used his amateur wrestling background to hit a go-around takedown, then a gator roll. Sheamus shoved Lashley into the corner to break it up. On the reset, Sheamus gained control with an arm lock and some elbows, then transitioned to a north-south position that was broken up because of his proximity to the ropes.

Lashley backed Sheamus into the corner, had a shot blocked, but did the same to Sheamus before pounding away. He charged right into a boot from Sheamus, but then hit a leapfrog. However, Sheamus came back with a boot to floor Lashley. They hyped Rhea Ripley’s debut with a graphic.

Sheamus looked for a belly-to-back, but Lashley blocked and hit a nice snap suplex. He cinched in a modified rear chinlock while wrenching on Sheamus’ neck. Sheamus fought back, missed a White Noise attempt, and suffered a neckbreaker for a one-count for his troubles. Lashley applied another chinlock.

After around 20 seconds, Sheamus fought back only to hit with some haymakers. Sheamus reversed an Irish whip, but was sent to the apron as he charged Lashley. Suddenly, Cedric Alexander & Shelton Benjamin appeared from the crowd area, allowing Lashley to gain the advantage as he hit a back elbow. Alexander distracted the ref (to the chagrin, I believe, of Lashley) as Benjamin floored Sheamus on the outside. They cut to break. [c]

They returned with Lashley holding Sheamus in a chinlock as Phillips reminded fans that the entirety of The Hurt Business was at ringside. Lashley hit a powerslam for a two-count after Sheamus hit him with a kick. Alexander sprang to the apron to encourage Lashley, who promptly responded with “calm down.” Sheamus rolled him up for a sudden two-count, then dodged Lashley as he speared the post.

Sheamus hit a couple of Irish (Polish) Hammers, then sidestepped Lashley as the latter hit the apron. Ten Beats of the Bodhran followed. Lashley was knocked to the floor, Sheamus climbed, and sprung with a flying clothesline! He rolled Lashley back in as he hit another flying clotheslines, but only for a two-count!

They showed M.V.P. instructing Benjamin to “chill” as Sheamus attempted another White Noise. Lashley slipped out and hit a forearm shot to the small of the back, but Sheamus slipped out of a vertical suplex. He hit a pump knee strike (the same that Shane McMahon hurt himself with in training) for a two-count. Both men took some time getting to their feet.

Sheamus rose first and looked for the Brogue Kick. He missed, got distracted by Alexander, then ran into Lashley’s signature spinebuster. Lashley cinched in The Hurt Lock and forced the ref to call for the bell.

WINNER: Bobby Lashley at 11:37 (The Hurt Lock)

They showed replays of the ending sequence after, but then Alexander & Benjamin dragged Sheamus out to the floor to beat on him more. McIntyre’s music hit as he went to assist his friend. Benjamin tried cutting him off, but was thrown into the barricade. Alexander was caught and sent over the barricade. Lashley & M.V.P. just watched from the ring. Benjamin backed away as McIntyre taunted him.

McIntyre then entered the ring as Lashley glared daggers at him. They positioned themselves ever so carefully with the sign in the background. Lashley raised the title as McIntyre talked smack. M.V.P. held Lashley back by repeating for Lashley to “save it for WrestleMania.” McIntyre taunted him to throw the first punch with his hands behind his back, called Lashley a “son of a bitch,” but M.V.P. talked him down with the word “business” multiple times.

-Phillips then shifted to hyping Randy Orton “summoning” The Fiend after the latter’s return last night. He also said they would revisit the scene later in the night. They cut to break. [c]

(Hazelwood’s Take: A fairly standard match, but it can be argued Sheamus was given too much time considering the amount of punishment from last night, visible on his body. The bigger story are the obvious signs of The Hurt Business breaking up, with Lashley & M.V.P.’s seeming irritation at the actions of the other two members. I’ve repeated that to keep Lashley looking even stronger, the other two members have to be booked well. They haven’t, so it might behoove the WWE Champion to only be paired with M.V.P.)

-They returned with Alexander & Benjamin approaching Lashley & M.V.P. in the back. Lashley asked what that was about. He said it was a singles match and didn’t need their help. He looked frustrated as M.V.P. motioned to take over. He said they tarnished the image of Lashley by making it seem he couldn’t beat them by himself. He said it was an embarrassment, just like when they lost the Tag Team Championship. He told them to think it over and walked away.

-Saxton commented on the situation before Phillips shifted to recapping this Orton-Bliss saga. They showed a video package, beginning with Orton’s immolation of The Fiend three months ago. As with most WWE packages, it was a well-produced piece of video. They showed scenes from last night, including Orton coughing up the black goo prior to the match (what I call “the Ivan Ooze”). They then showed still images of some of the more “supernatural” spots, including The Fiend reaching up from beneath the ring to grab Orton’s foot and his subsequent reveal.

I saw a lot of tweets comparing The Fiend’s new look to Ivan Ooze and Meltman on Twitter. They ended the video and hyped Orton summoning The Fiend for later tonight. Saxton said, “We’ll take you back to his fiery reemergence from the depths of hell later tonight.” Sure.

-Asuka made her entrance for her non-title match with Royce. They showed replays of Asuka suffering the lost tooth and concussion from a Shayna Baszler kick, and credited her for returning after only two weeks. They cut to break after saying, “This match is brought to you by Carmax.” [c]

(2) ASUKA (c) vs. PEYTON ROYCE – Non-title match

They returned with Asuka still dancing in the ring, bereft of the aggression she showed last week, which they promptly showed a replay. Granted, Royce isn’t Baszler or Jax, so I guess it kind of works. Still, it would be nice for her to have maintained that more serious demeanor. Royce entered, looking stoic and glaring right at Asuka. They showed a clip of her on Raw Talk two weeks ago where she pleaded with a chance to just “let her go” in the ring and her demand of a match with Asuka.

Phillips reminded us the match is brought to us by Carmax as the two locked up (Royce does not have a good collar-and-elbow tie-up). Asuka applied a side headlock, then leaped over a charging Royce out of the corner. She hit Royce with a running shoulder and taunted her. They did some back-and-forth with Irish whips and countering holds, then Royce hit an arm-drag. She looked for another, but Asuka locked in an armbar.

Royce countered and locked in a chancery-like leg hold, working Asuka’s left knee. Asuka charged, but Royce hit a drop toehold into the turnbuckle. After some back-and-forth, Royce was caught with a spinning backfist on the apron, but sidestepped a hip attack. She dragged down Asuka on the apron from the second rope (it didn’t look good) as they cut to break. [c]

They returned with both women down on the mat, Royce seemingly in more pain. Both used the ropes to regain their footing, then Asuka hit a dropkick and her lifting knee. Royce tried to fight off Asuka, but Asuka hit a snap German and shining wizard for a two-count.

Asuka climbed the ropes, but Royce sidestepped the missile dropkick. She went for a fisherman’s, but Asuka countered. After some trading of counters, Royce hit a Widow’s Peak-like move for a two-count. She screamed in frustration. After taking a long time, she went for the fisherman’s again, Asuka looked for the Asuka Lock, Royce rolled her up for a two-count, then Asuka hit a codebreaker for a two-count.

Asuka took Royce to the corner and lifted her to the top. She looked for a superplex, but Royce fought her off. Royce hit a double stomp to the back of a hunched Asuka for a two-count and another scream of frustration from Royce. She yelled at the ref, but then was hit by a gut kick. She tried to slip under Asuka, but Asuka countered into an armbar, then the Asuka Lock. Royce tapped.

WINNER: Asuka at 11:12 (Asuka Lock)

-After the match, Ripley’s music hit. The announcers really hyped Ripley’s debut and her capabilities. Asuka waited in the ring as Ripley entered after doing her signature poses. She looks to be in great shape. She grabbed a mic and said, “Asuka, you’re one of the greatest women’s champions in WWE history. You’ve proved your point.” She brought up how Charlotte Flair challenged her to a title match while Asuka recovered from having her tooth knocked out.

She said Flair’s not here, she’s recovering from COVID. She said she needed an answer as she challenged Asuka. Asuka yelled in Japanese, then told Ripley she isn’t ready for Asuka. However, she then accepted the match as Ripley kept pointing at that damn sign. The announcers were ecstatic about the potential match.

-They showed McIntyre in the back as Adam Pearce approached. He said he has mad respect for what they did last night in beating each other senseless for weeks. McIntyre said yeah, everyone else would turn to dust. He asked what Pearce wanted. He said Alexander & Benjamin challenged McIntyre to a handicap match. He said before he denied the match, he wanted to come to McIntyre first. McIntyre said it wasn’t a sensible decision. He added a stipulation though: if he wins, Alexander & Benjamin are banned from ringside at WrestleMania. The match is official.

-They showed the crew changing out the ring and adding chairs for “Miz TV.” They cut to break. [c]

(Hazelwood’s Take: Sure, they tried their best to use her promo to build her up, but Royce lasted way too long with Asuka after really not doing much of anything the past few months. Good for Royce in putting one of her better performances as a singles wrestler, though. Ripley was rumored for Mania, but once Flair was confirmed out with COVID, it was a lock that it would be her challenging Asuka. I’m excited as Ripley brings a needed intensity and credibility to the women’s division.)

-They returned with a replay of Ripley’s challenge to Asuka and the official announcement of the match.

[HOUR TWO]

-The Miz & John Morrison made their entrance next. The Miz seemed his spunky self even though he’s had a rough couple of weeks. They did their standard entrance. The Miz did his usual introduction as he said he had something to get off his chest. He said he’s had a grueling and strenuous past few weeks, and the last thing he needed was to be laughed at and ridiculed by Damian Priest & Bad Bunny.

The Miz said to his credit, Bunny is a star in his own sphere. Morrison said pretty much one of the most famous people on the face of the planet. The Miz said with Bunny, you think about and you go, “Who do you think you are?” He said Bunny waltzed around, came in, stayed on. He said it’s one thing to do a special appearance, but to just hang on and show zero respect to himself?

He reminded us that he’s a two-time Grand Slam Champion, and also reminded us no one else has that accolade. Not John Cena, not Brock Lesnar, not The Undertaker as Morrison said. The Miz said he’s been the backbone of WWE for 15+ years. He ran through Morrison’s accolades and said they still don’t get the respect they deserve. He used the WrestleMania poster as his evidence since they weren’t on the poster.

Morrison said they have over 30 years of combined experience with more title reigns than they could count on their hands on feet. The Miz said meanwhile, a musician is featured on the most significant poster of the WWE year. He said last week was his final straw and congratulated Bunny for getting his attention. They showed replays from last week where The Miz hit Bunny with a stiff guitar shot to the back.

Morrison said that was a smash hit. The Miz said let that be a lesson to every non-wrestler who thinks they can do what The Miz & Morrison do. They then did a drumroll as The Miz revealed that next week will be a special edition of “The Dirt Sheet,” it will be the world premiere of “Hey Hey, Hop Hop” in dedication to Bunny. Morrison said the opposite of a Bad Bunny is “a good rapper.” They played a preview, and it was expectedly terrible.

The Miz said next week will be the last time we’ll hear the words “Bad Bunny.” He said he’s going to make sure Bunny’s WrestleMania will be a nightmare as he challenged Bunny to a match. He said he won’t just end Bunny’s music career, but his career, period. He said for a sneak preview, watch his match with Jeff Hardy, whose music hit. Thank goodness. They cut to break. [c]

(Hazelwood’s Take: There’s the challenge. With rumors being that it will be a tag match, I’m guessing we’ll see a shift to that soon. Good for all four men involved, but it doesn’t make me any more excited for Mania. That was also way, way too damn long.)

(3) THE MIZ (w/John Morrison) vs. JEFF HARDY

They returned with Hardy’s music still playing. Hardy grabbed the mic and said he knows The Miz can’t beat him by himself, so if he’s “a real man,” send Morrison to the back. The Miz acquiesced. The “real man” trope is just stupid and toxic masculinity personified.

The Miz gained early control with kicks, but Hardy fought back and rammed The Miz’s head into each of the four top turnbuckles. He hit his sitdown jawbreaker, but then ran into a standing boot from his foe. The Miz stomped away at Hardy, then raked at his face. He then kicked the face of a seated Hardy and covered for a two-count.

The Miz, with an arrogant demeanor, looked to punch Hardy, but was countered. He answered with a kitchen sink to Hardy’s midsection to floor him. The Miz kneed Hardy twice in the back, then cinched in a rear chinlock. Hardy fought back with piped-in claps, hitting a mule kick that sent The Miz into the corner.

Hardy struck The Miz several times, then hit his patented combo ending with the basement dropkick and standing splash for a two-count. The Miz reversed an Irish whip, but ran into boots. Hardy hit a second rope splash for a two-count. The announcers said this is when The Miz would seek help from Morrison.

The Miz blocked a Twist of Fate and sent Hardy into the post, allowing him to hit the Skull Crushing Finale for the victory. After the match, as The Miz talked smack into the camera, Bunny appeared and struck The Miz in the back with a guitar, this one actually exploding. The Miz, upon realizing who hit him, looked incensed.

Bunny grabbed the mic, he looked lost, then all the sudden seemed exhausted. He said, “You know what? I accept your challenge, bitch.” He pointed at the sign and walked off to his music. They showed replays of the guitar smash in slomo.

WINNER: The Miz at 4:20 (Skull Crushing Finale)

-After the match, Phillips shifted to The New Day and A.J. Styles & Omos. They showed the latter in the back as Riddle zoomed by on his scooter. He called Styles skipper. Styles responded in anger. They cut to break. [c]

(Hazelwood’s Take: Hey, at least the guitar exploded this time. Bunny with the mic was awkward, like he was waiting for a cue to look tired and start speaking. It just seemed unnatural.)

-They returned with replays of the guitar shot and Bunny accepting the challenge. The match is now official, a singles match. Styles & Omos made their entrance for the next match. They showed replays of Omos chokeslamming Xavier Woods over the barricade several weeks ago. Styles grabbed the mic.

He said it’s going to happen, the Tag Team Championship match, at WrestleMania, and it’s going to be Omos’ debut. He asked if it gets any better than that, and answered his own question by saying yes since Omos gets to tag with him. Styles said he’s so excited about what Omos is going to do to their foes. He said Omos will literally throw them through the ring. He said it’s like he’s going to bury them down there.

He said listen, The New Day, the longest reigning Tag Team Champion in history, they’ve earned their accolades, but that they would defeat them to become the new Tag Team Champion. He said with his wisdom and world-renowned acrobatics, with Omos’ size and colossal strength, they can’t lose. The New Day’s music interrupted.

Kofi Kingston asked if Styles really said they were going to defeat them for the titles with their hip swivels. Woods said yeah, they’re going to bury us and put us in holes like the Boneyard Match. Kingston went into a bad Olde English accent to declare that what he sees standing before him is not a team, but a small man, a wee man, trying to overcompensate for his size, or lack thereof. He said a wee man that hides behnid a giant and commandds the giant is what he sees.

He said what you going to Styles, sick Omos on us? Woods said who’s going to pin you with your size Omos? Styles said ignore them. Kingston said they don’t even know each other. Kingston asked favorite color. Red; nope, it’s mauve. Ice Cream? Vanilla bean; no, peanut butter. Who is his favorite of all time? Styles responded himself, but Omos said Andre the Giant.

Woods asked how can you trust him when he doesn’t even know your favorite color is mauve? Styles said shut up and face me in the ring. Styles did some hip swivels to the “New Day Rocks” theme by saying “A.J. Rocks.” They cut to break. [c]

(Hazelwood’s Take: Another dissension angle? Hopefully it’s nothing more than just a one-off here…for now.)

(4) A.J. STYLES (w/Omos) vs. KOFI KINGSTON (w/Xavier Woods)

They returned with Omos ringside as Phillips reminded us of the Hall of Fame ceremony and the announcement of Eric Bischoff’s induction. They began with Kingston scoring a side headlock takedown, then holding on as Styles tried to shove him off. Styles tried rolling him up, but only scored a one-count as Kingston maintained the hold.

Styles finally shoved Kingston off, but ate a flying shoulder tackle for a one-count instead, then right back into the side headlock takedown (they MUST have watched the UFC event over the weekend). Styles backed Kingston into the corner, then applied a side headlock of his own. Kingston was able to fight out and hit a flying back elbow for a two-count.

They hyped Braun Strowman vs. Elias for later as Kingston backed Styles into a corner, blocked a strike, and delivered a few of his own. Styles answered with a knee to the gut and elbow to the back of the neck. He threw Kingston outside, then went for a springboard. Kingston moved, Styles landed on the apron, then ate a forearm. He rolled back in, but Kingston him him with a monkey flip for a one-count.

Kingston chopped Styles in a corner, then a springboard dropkick from the second rope into a leg scissor pin for a two-count. He dropkicked Styles to the outside, was dragged outside, but struck Styles before staring at Omos. Styles countered with a throat chop, then threw Kingston into the steps. As Woods tried to come over to help, Omos cut him off and blocked his path as they cut to break. [c]

They returned with Kingston striking Styles, but then he ate a back elbow from Styles, who cinched in a rear chinlock. Kingston tried fighting back, but was brought back down. Kingston finally fought out and hit a flying forearm, some chops, and a dropkick. He then hit his leaping clothesline and The New Day Boom Drop. Instead of attempting a pin, he set in the corner for Trouble in Paradise.

Styles hit Kingston with an enziguri in mid-air (a REAL nice spot); he caugth him flush with his shin on the head. Styles attempted a leaping clothesline into the corner, but Kingston slid out and kicked Styles in the face. He climbed, but Styles met him with a strike to seat Kingston.

Styles wanted a superplex, but Kingston blocked. He punched Styles in the gut and hit a gourdbuster from the top, then a second rope splash to the back of Styles for a two-count. Kingston went for S.O.S., but Styles rolled through into a Calf Crusher in the middle of the ring. Kingston sold the anguish well as he crawled to the bottom rope facing the entrance ramp.

Styles looked for another, but Kingston rolled him over for a two-count. Styles then hit a basement dropkick to the knee. He went to the apron, but as he went for his finisher, Woods loudly played the trombone next to him, throwing him off. Omos went after Woods, but as Styles tried for the finisher, Kingston caught him in an ugly S.O.S. for the sudden win. As Wade Keller said on the V.I.P. Hotline from last night, you can tell when the finish is coming because the ref’s count is quicker.

WINNER: Kofi Kingston at 13:55 (S.O.S.)

-After the match, the new announcer approached Sheamus asking why he accepted the challenge after last night’s match. Sheamus said because that’s who he is, fella. He said if he had to ask that question, he doesn’t know who Sheamus is then. He then asked about McIntyre, and Sheamus said it’s about respect. He said he didn’t ask for help, but suddenly Riddle rode by asking about the Loch Ness Monster, if leprechauns are real, and what his wish would be. Sheamus asked him what he’s doing? He asked about the scooter. Riddle gushed over the scooter. Sheamus took it and struck Riddle with it in the gut before throwing it to the ground.

-McIntyre’s music hit as he made his entrance for the handicap match. They cut to break. [c]

(Hazelwood’s Take: A distraction finish, but one that makes sense and works. It makes sense because I think EVERYONE would be thrown off by the sudden, obnoxious sound of a trombone playing. They have to build to this match somehow, so they’ll probably trade singles victories until Mania.)

-They returned touting their YouTube channel as it has more than 50 billion total views, the number one overall sports channel. McIntyre was in the ring still waiting.

[HOUR THREE]

The Hurt Business made their way to the ring next.

(5) DREW MCINTYRE vs. THE HURT BUSINESS (Cedric Alexander & Shelton Benjamin) – Handicap match

The announcers recapped the berating THB suffered earlier from M.V.P. & Lashley. Benjamin began the match for his side, but McIntyre quickly gained the advantage with heavy strikes and a running back elbow off an Irish whip. He then deadlifted Benjamin into a vertical suplex for a two-count.

McIntyre brought Alexander in the hard way, then hit a big backbody drop to Alexander. Benjamin hit a go-behind and used his amateur wrestling background to hold and ground McIntyre. McIntyre fought out and hit a big clothesline to Benjamin. He grabbed Benjamin’s hand and stomped on said hand. He sent Benjamin into a corner, but ate an elbow on entry.

Benjamin hit a flurry of strikes, but McIntyre shot out of a corner with a clothesline. He set for the Claymore, but Alexander dragged Benjamin out of the ring. McIntyre went to the outside, punched Benjamin, then sent him into the post as Alexander pleaded with the ref to disallow everything on the outside. McIntyre lifted and dropped Benjamin across the barricade before rolling him back into the ring.

He gave a stiff right cross to Benjamin, but Benjamin hit a knee. Alexander tagged in, but ate an elbow. McIntyre turned his attention to Benjamin, which allowed Alexander to hit a chop block. Benjamin sent McIntyre to the outside, then Alexander hit a tope. Benjamin tagged back in as they double-teamed McIntyre on the outside by sending him into the barricade. They cut to break. [c]

They returned with Alexander in control of McIntyre, who fought back with heavy strikes. He shoved Alexander into the corner, which allowed Benjamin to tag in. Alexander hit a basement dropkick to the knee and Benjamin a rising knee strike for a two-count. Benjamin tagged Alexander in and they hit a weird assisted lifting knee combo for a two-count.

Alexander rolled McIntyre over and rained down forearms to the small of the back. He tagged in Benjamin, who kicked McIntyre in the face as Alexander held his arms back. After some more pounding, some aggressive pounding, Benjamin cinched in a rear chinlock. McIntyre fought out by shoving Benjamin into a corner, then both men traded a bevy of strikes from a seated position in the corner.

Back on their feet, they traded more strikes before Benjamin hit his spinning kick, which was promptly answered by a Glasgow Kiss that floored both men. Benjamin tagged in Alexander, but he ran right into a couple of lariats and a huge over the head belly-to-belly suplex, then another out of the corner. He hit Future Shock on Benjamin, then a leaping neckbreaker to Alexander. He kipped up.

He set for the Claymore and hit on Benjamin, then one to Alexander then literally flipped him upside down. He pinned Alexander for the victory, then stared at the sign. He pointed to the ref to raise his arm in victory. Alexander & Benjamin are barred from ringside at WrestleMania.

WINNER: Drew McIntyre at 13:06 (Claymore)

-Phillips shifted to hyping Orton summoning The Fiend later tonight, I’m guessing the main event segment, as they cut to break. [c]

(Hazelwood’s Take: Having them lose a handicap match where they held the advantage, even to a former WWE Champion, just makes the former Tag Team Champion look so weak. They’ve gone the opposite route I suggested of keeping the ENTIRE group strong, thus making Lashley look even more formidable as WWE Champion. Sigh.)

-They returned with a reminder of WrestleMania being two nights and that tickets are available (yikes). They cut to the back with M.V.P. berating Alexander & Benjamin. He said they embarrassed Lashley in his match, and now they lost a handicap match? Lashley angrily approached in a nice, nice suit, and said since they can’t get the job done, he’ll find someone who can. He turned the corner into the locker room with the 24/7 crew and Ricochet, and said anyone who takes out McIntyre before the big show gets their opportunity.

(6) DANA BROOKE & MANDY ROSE vs. NIA JAX & SHAYNA BASZLER (w/Reginald) – Non-title match

Brooke & Rose made their entrance next. Lana & Naomi joined commentary in similar jackets. The Tag Team Champion made their entrance next as Reginald back handsprung to the ring. They showed clips of Jax & Reginald’s shopping excursion, complete with butt slap.

Rose and Baszler began the match, the former taking advantage of the distraction. She tagged in Brooke, hit a body slam, and Brooke hit a handspring splash for a one-count. Brooke went for a side Russian leg sweep, but Baszler turned it into a backbreaker. She went to tag in Jax, but Jax was distracted.

Brooke rolled up Baszler, but Baszler kicked Brooke out into Jax. Baszler tried locking in her finisher, but Rose interfered. Jax tagged in and cleaned house, then floored Brooke. Reginald entered the ring, did a flip, then exited. Brooke hit a chop block, tagged in Rose, and allowed Rose to hit a bulldog. She took out Baszler and pinned Jax for a one-count.

Brooke tagged in, but Baszler took Rose down from the apron. She distracted Brooke, but Brooke fought her off. Reginald provided a distraction, which allowed Jax to hit the Samoan Drop for the victory. After the match, Jax & Reginald posed and danced as Baszler looked on in confusion.

WINNER: Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler at 2:46 (Samoan Drop)

-They cut to the back where Alexa Bliss was on her swing in the “Playground” set. She said she knew Orton wanted her out of his life, but she’s still here; you can’t always get what you want. She said tonight, she’d be careful what he wished for. She laughed, then snapped to a creepy face and said, “Let me in.” They cut to break. [c]

(Hazelwood’s Take: Throwaway match, and Lana & Naomi, unfortunately, provided little to nothing on commentary other than saying they wanted a rematch at the end of the match.)

-They returned with Elias in the ring with Jaxson Ryker & Shane McMahon. They showed video of McMahon’s injury, which wasn’t even to his plant leg, and McMahon telling Elias he was facing Strowman instead, with Strowman’s subsequent victory.

McMahon said a lot of people are upset about what didn’t happen, but no one is more upset than him. He said sans injury, he would have wiped the floor of Strowman, but said his knee needed to heal up. He said Elias didn’t get the job done. Elias interrupted saying he didn’t have much time, and McMahon said to never interrupt him again. He said he had more time today, and then said they had a new duet, “Braun is Stupid.”

They started signing a tune, mostly with a lot of “stupid” jokes and rhymes. McMahon needed the sheet music while Elias had it all memorized, so there’s that. Don’t go out of your way to view this segment. They seemed pleased with themselves as Strowman’s music hit.

Strowman said they think they’re funny, and he doesn’t care if McMahon has a peg leg, he’s going to get an ass beating. He said for Elias, he had a song for him called “The Man who Got These Hands.” They cut to break. [c]

(7) ELIAS (w/Jaxson Ryker & Shane McMahon) vs. BRAUN STROWMAN

They returned with both men ready to start the match and once the bell rung, Strowman rushed Elias into a corner and punched away. He took Elias into another corner and hit him with a forearm to the chest. He then stood on Elias’ chest, using the ropes for balance and leverage.

He whipped Elias hard into the corner, sending Elias shooting halfway across the ring after impact. Strowman stared McMahon down after every move in the match. He sent Elias to the outside near McMahon & Ryker, then followed as they retreated. He kicked Elias, stared at McMahon, then rolled Elias back into the ring.

Elias caught Strowman with a high running knee, then a flurry of strikes in the corner. As he rushed the corner, Strowman hit a running dropkick, then punched Ryker off of the apron. He went outside to hit the Strowman Express as a pipe-in train horn and smoke went off in the arena. He hit both Ryker & Elias.

He rolled Elias back in, then hit a huge uppercut and powerslam for the victory. After the match, McMahon struck Strowman hard with the crutch in the back, but Strowman no-sold it. McMahon ran out, proving his knee was never hurt.

Strowman grabbed the mic after and said the knee looks well and he had no problem running away yet again. He said he’s had enough of the games, enough of the chasing, and enough of being called stupid. He said he promises that he’s going to end it, then asked if McMahon is “man enough” to face him one-on-one at WrestleMania with some more sign pointing.

McMahon said he accepted. He said any match Strowman wants, McMahon is going to win because, “You are stupid.” He laughed and danced away, taunting Strowman the whole time.

WINNER: Braun Strowman at 3:06

-They showed Orton making his way to the ring from the back while holding a black bag. They cut to break. [c]

(Hazelwood’s Take: Took them long enough to finally make the match official. If my timeline is any indication, literally NOBODY wants to see these two continue their feud. Maybe having the end date of Mania will at least bring some optimism.)

-They returned with a rundown of night one of WrestleMania, seemingly headlined by the WWE Championship match between Lashley and McIntyre unless they go with Sasha Banks vs. Bianca Belair for the Women’s Championship. They did night two, presumably headlined by Roman Reigns vs. Edge for the Universal Championship.

-Orton’s music hit as he made his entrance with about eight minutes left in the show. He was carrying a black bag that looked to contain I think a gasoline canister, a big one. The announcers reviewed the past few months between Orton, Bliss, and The Fiend.

Orton set the bag down in a corner and took a mic. He said it seemed like it was just yesterday that he was standing in the ring after watching The Fiend burn alive. He said apparently, he didn’t finish the job. He said he could smell it last night, the smell of burnt flesh. He said he doesn’t know exactly what he saw, but he knows it was an abomination. He said tonight, he finishes the job.

He said after tonight, there will be no more mind games, no more Alexa Bliss, no more The Fiend, and tonight, the bullshit comes to an end. Bliss’ Playhouse remix music played as she entered carrying the Jack-in-the-box. She tsk tsk Orton, and said she told him to be careful what he wished for. She played the box and actually had it pop wit a figurine like herself.

The lights went out, then the corners exploded in fire like Kane as The Fiend appeared behind Orton in his new, charred look. Orton turned in fear as The Fiend stalked closer to Orton. He stopped, allowing Orton to grab the bag and reveal a gas canister. He sniffed it, then approached The Fiend. He took the canister and splashed some on the lower body of The Fiend, who didn’t move.

Orton dumped some more and more, eventually dumping it all on the lower body of The Fiend, who hasn’t moved. Saxton complained about the stench of gasoline. Orton then grabbed a box of matches, but went with an RKO as The Fiend looked to stop him before he could light the match.

Bliss entered behind Orton, but stopped when he suddenly turned around. The Fiend stirred, but Orton noticed. The Fiend rose to his feet applied the Mandible Claw to a rushing Orton. He then hit Sister Abigail as Bliss jumped around in joy. They stood in the middle of the ring as Bliss pointed to the sign and flames rose up around the sign. They posed in the ring as they showed replays of Sister Abigail and the sign point of all things. They posed in the ring as the show ended with an official announcement of Orton vs. The Fiend at WrestleMania.

(Hazelwood’s Take: As Keller said, at least they’re going all in on this story, regardless of how you feel about how it’s transpiring. At least there wasn’t an immolation scene. They made that match official awfully quick after Bliss pointed at the sign about 15 seconds before. Will it be a wrestling match, or will it be some kind of gimmick match? Will we see another “Firefly Fun House” match?”)

FINAL THOUGHTS: A rather ho-hum episode. The deterioration of The Hurt Business is still befuddling. Lashley vs. Sheamus was fine, but most of the rest of the night was just meh. It’s not a sign of confidence with their biggest show less than 20 days away.

Follow Bruce on Twitter @B_Lee253

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