3/29 WWE MONDAY NIGHT RAW REPORT: Hazelwood’s alt-perspective on Asuka vs. Ripley contract signing, Riddle vs. Sheamus, Lashley’s “hit” on McIntyre, more

BY BRUCE LEE HAZELWOOD, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR


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

WWE MONDAY NIGHT RAW TV REPORT
MARCH 29, 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, M.V.P.

Ring Announcer: Mike Rome

Tonight after the show, join PWTorch assistant editor Zack Heydorn and me 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 a video of Drew McIntyre entering the arena earlier today being approached by unnamed Sarah Schreiber and asked about Bobby Lashley’s hit. McIntyre said it’s a heck of an offer and everyone is a potential threat. He asked if he’ll be attacked by one, two, or three people? He said before you attack him, ask yourself one, if Lashley is good for his promise, and two, if they want a Scottish ass kicking.

-Tom Phillips then gave us his usual welcome as Lashley’s awesome championship entrance played as he & The Hurt Business. made their entrance to start the show proper. This foursome just brings a presence when they’re all together, particularly as they flank the WWE Champion. The camera zoomed in on the title and then Lashley as Phillips hyped the WWE Championship match for night two of WrestleMania. Lashley’s lower third name graphic was improved as well.

M.V.P. said this is an official announcement from THB. He said they’re less than two weeks away from WrestleMania where Lashley will walk in and out as the champion. He said Lashley is currently scheduled to face McIntyre, but before they go any further, they wanted to make their proposition clear. Lashley took the mic and said if anyone takes out McIntyre before their match, they will instead receive the match.

M.V.P. said don’t mistake the offer for weakness or kindness; they just think McIntyre’s had his opportunity, and they want to give someone else a shot to be a star, a chance at a lifetime. He asked if anyone wanted to step up. He said before they go any further, they’re going to discuss who won’t be joining Lashley at WrestleMania as he shifted to a replay of last week’s handicap match loss by Cedric Alexander & Shelton Benjamin to McIntyre, barring them from ringside during the championship match.

Lashley looked on in anger, then said they had a perfect opportunity and couldn’t get the job done. He said as a result of that, they’re barred from ringside. He said don’t get me started on the Tag Team Championship. He said they’re tarnishing his image and that’s why they had to look outside the family. He said he can’t count on them now after he worked too hard and too long and will not be associated with incompetence. M.V.P. said it in more plain terms and said they could speak for themselves.

Alexander said why not do this in private? Benjamin interrupted and said y’all brought us out here to embarrass us? He said Lashley wouldn’t even be champion if it wasn’t for them. He stepped to Lashley and M.V.P. tried stepping in, but Benjamin shoved him away. Lashley took out Alexander, then Benjamin hit him with a suplex. Lashley fought back and hit a flatliner, then kicked Benjamin out of the ring. M.V.P. said they should be ashamed of themselves as Lashley formally kicked the two out of the group.

-Phillips shifted to how this feud between Riddle and Sheamus started by playing video of Sheamus attacking Riddle with his scooter last week. They showed Riddle riding the scooter in the back as Schreiber approached and asked why Sheamus attacked him with the scooter. Riddle said he just wanted to ask some questions and doesn’t know if Sheamus was in a bad mood, had a tummy ache, or just “doesn’t have the soul,” but he does know Sheamus pissed him off. He spotted Titus O’Neil and rode to him and asked if O’Neil would roast a pig at WrestleMania. Sheamus kept thinking O’Neil was the host of a roast of Mania. As O’Neil walked away, Sheamus attacked and said, “See you out there…fella,” as they cut to break. [c]

(Hazelwood’s Take: WWE put THB in a lose-lose situation with their booking of Alexander & Benjamin. I have repeatedly stated that the best thing for both THB and Lashley as WWE Champion would be to have ALL of the members booked strong. Instead, Alexander & Benjamin were booked so poorly the only option left to save Lashley was to dismiss them from the group. Those two are talented, so hopefully they don’t just go back to the 24/7 crew. It’s really the worst of all possible outcomes.)

-They returned with hyping tonight’s “The Dirt Sheet” and “Shane McMahon’s Expose on Braun Strowman.” They then replayed the events of the first segment (strangely with a Main Event border for a few seconds). They showed Alexander & Benjamin approaching Adam Pearce in the back saying they were thrown away and Lashley would never be WWE Champion without them. Alexander said Benjamin wants Lashley tonight and he wants Lashley next week if there’s anything left. They asked if he made the matches or not, or if he had to consult with Lashley like he does Roman Reigns. Alexander asked, “Where is your sack? Make the match,” and walked off.

(Hazelwood’s Take: Ah, yes, let’s just go with the penis and testicles references to measure a man. Can we just find other ways to tell people, “Have some gumption,” already?)

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

Sheamus made his entrance as Phillips informed us that Samoa Joe is not with them tonight. M.V.P. joined commentary. Riddle then made his entrance. When Riddle kicked off his slippers, 3D birds popped out, so there’s that. They began with Sheamus immediately driving Riddle into the corner, but Riddle worked a go-behind. Sheamus muscled Riddle down for a quick cover (no count), then used some technical wrestling to apply a modified crossface.

Riddle turned it into a triangle choke that Sheamus rolled into a two-count. He hit some heavy shots, including a body shot in the corner, then hit Riddle with a headlock takedown, holding on and then driving his elbow into Riddle’s temple. Riddle fought to his feet, but Sheamus hit a shoulder tackle to down Riddle. Sheamus came off the ropes, but Riddle jumped on him and turned it into a rear-naked choke attempt.

Sheamus was able to get to his feet and force Riddle into the corner. As the ref tried to break them up, Sheamus rained down back elbows to Riddle, then hit a short-arm clothesline. The two began trading strikes in the middle of the ring, Sheamus getting the better, but Riddle kicked him on a backbody drop attempt, then another across the chest, a pump knee to send Sheamus into the ropes, another kick to send him outside, a PK from the apron, and a Floating Bro that connected as they cut to break. [c]

They returned with Sheamus fish-hooking Riddle’s mouth in a modified Camel Clutch. Back on their feet, they traded strikes until Riddle hit a flurry only to be hit with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker for a two-count. Riddle screamed out in pain as Sheamus struck him in the small of the back, then again and again. He yelled at Riddle some, looked for White Noise, no, actually, he looked for an avalanche White Noise only for Riddle to try a sunset bomb. Sheamus fought it off, but Riddle struck him as he was seated on the top.

Sheamus shoved off Riddle, but Riddle jumped back up and hit an ugly looking belly-to-belly off of the top rope. They traded more strikes on the feet, but Riddle gained the advantage with a bevy, a teep kick, an overhead kick, two running forearms in the corner, an exploder, and a few kicks to the chest of a seated Sheamus, whose chest is turning red. He went for another, Sheamus caught him, but Riddle rolled out and hit a PK to the chest and a Broton for a two-count.

Riddle immediately shifted into a triangle armbar attempt, not quite locked in yet. Sheamus stacked Riddle for a two-count, then lifted into a powerbomb. Riddle held on, though, forcing Sheamus to grab the rope to break up the hold. Sheamus rolled to the apron and caught a Riddle kick, then hit White Noise on the apron! He hit a two-count that was a believable near-fall. Sheamus then hit the Alabama Slam, but only for two!

Sheamus rose in the corner and set for the Brogue, but as he posed, Riddle hit a Final Flash knee into a rollup for a two-count. They both tried pump kicks, but Sheamus caught Riddle, then hit a pump knee right to the face for the victory. It was basically his version of the Final Flash sans ripcord. Riddle attacked Sheamus after the match, knocking out of the ring as he posed on the second rope. Phillips reminded us that Sheamus jumped Riddle before the match.

WINNER: Sheamus at 12:49 (pump knee)

-Phillips shifted to recapping McMahon’s knee injury from Fastlane and McMahon attacking Strowman with the crutch and running away with no apparent knee injury from last week. They showed McMahon with Elias & Jaxson Ryker in the back as the new correspondent approached and asked about the expose on Strowman. McMahon said he appreciates his reporting, but suffice it to say people are going to find out some interesting things about Strowman. They cut to break. [c]

(Hazelwood’s Take: I’m not a fan of Riddle because of the out-of-ring accusations, but I will admit he’s a great opponent for a wrestler like Sheamus. Say what you want about Sheamus as a character, but damn, this man has been putting on some of the hardest hitting and best matches on WWE TV in 2021. His saga with McIntyre, his match with Lashley, tonight against Riddle: he’s just on one of those rolls.)

-They returned with McIntyre walking in the back and approaching A.J. Styles & Omos. He said he’s not going to turn his back on them. Styles said they have bigger plans for WrestleMania and Omos jumped in to say their plans are more realistic. Styles said they’re on the same page. He said they’re going to embarrass The New Day and become the new Tag Team Champion (with hip swivel). He said besides, he’s focused on his match with Xavier Woods and walked away.

-McMahon, Elias, & Ryker were in the ring as Phillips hyped McMahon vs. Strowman for night one. McMahon said he wanted to address the elephant in the room and he doesn’t mean Strowman. He said the accusations about his knee injury that miraculously recovered thanks to his biology are false. He listed off every -ology dealing with the body and said it was adrenaline that helped him recover.

He said they’ve been doing homework to get ready and came to discover something going way back that gave him insight into, “Oh let’s say, young, B-B-B-B-Braun.” He said they’re going back to the fifth grade and showed Strowman’s report card, which listed two D-, a D, and a D+ in gym. They asked how that’s even possible. McMahon then read some comments.

From social studies: Strowman is an instigator and disruptor. From math: Strowman displayed a lack of common problem-solving skills. English: Strowman fell behind, summer school is a necessity. He said in summation, a picture is worth a thousand words and then showed a digitally imposed chalkboard that said “2+2 = 5” and “I’M NOT STUPIUD!” three times with Strowman in a gnome looking hat and top. McMahon said he’s going to outwit Strowman, just like Ryker will shortly. He said maybe all Strowman needs is a big hug from all of them. Strowman then entered as they cut to break. [c]

(2) JAXSON RYKER (w/Shane McMahon & Elias) vs. BRAUN STROWMAN

They returned with Phillips reminding folks about the move to peacock. They began as Strowman immediately hit Ryker with a push kick, two big biels across the ring, and then exited the ring to walk down McMahon (wearing some sweet white & purple Jordan Is I think). He reentered and took control of Ryker, who tried a sneak attack. Elias climbed the apron to distract Strowman, then McMahon, and this allowed Ryker to land some shots.

Ryker kicked Strowman from the corner, then took out the knee with a chop block from the front, hit a bulldog, then a second rope axe handle that he completely missed; he ate a boot instead. Strowman went outside and hit the Strowman Express on Ryker (with piped-in noises), hit a corner avalanche, yelled at McMahon that this was his fate, and hit his powerslam for the victory as he stared down McMahon.

After the match, he immediately chased McMahon, but was hit by a leaping knee from behind by Elias. Elias & McMahon then started to beat on Strowman, but Strowman rose and shoved both men off, sending Elias clear out of the ring. He grabbed a mic as McMahon retreated up the ramp and asked where he was running of to. He asked if McMahon thinks Strowman forgot that McMahon forgot that not only did he agree to a match, but to a match of Strowman’s choosing. He said he made up his mind, one where his “goons” can’t get involved and that would stop him running. He said there’s nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, and he’s going to “get these hands” in a steel cage match.

WINNER: Braun Strowman at 2:27 (powerslam)

-They shifted to recapping The Miz challenging Bad Bunny to a match, The Miz’s victory over Jeff Hardy, and the subsequent guitar attack from Bunny. They hyped “The Dirt Sheet” as they cut to break. [c]

(Hazelwood’s Take: We now know what kind of match it will be; cool. Why is every Shane McMahon segment the worst Shane McMahon segment?)

[HOUR TWO]

-They returned with “The Dirt Sheet” intro video as The Miz & John Morrison were sitting in the ring for their premiere, Morrison dressed in all orange, as Phillips hyped Bunny vs. The Miz for night one. Morrison introduced himself and said his hair is so big because it’s full of secrets. The Miz said it’s the most anticpated episode ever as they proudly introduce their hit single “Hey Hey Hop Hop.” They made some jokes about how good it was as The Miz said to call him “The Notorious M.I.Z.” (no).

The Miz said he thought he made it clear that Bunny doesn’t belong here after hitting him with the guitar. He said he solidified his stance with the challenge for a match. He said Bunny not only accepted, but had the “cajones” to use the guitar on him. He said he was just trying to teach Bunny a lesson while Bunny was trying to injure him. He said Bunny was out of line. He said he was going to back Bunny back for every injustice he’s suffered.

He said on the positives, he’s the only two-time grand slam champion, he’s the backbone of the company, and they made an awesome music video. Morrison said they spent a couple of days shooting in Puerto Rico (I think) where “the locals really love us” (yikes). They played the video, but I won’t recap it here because it’s just, yeah, you know, The Miz & Morrison. I’m sure it’s on Twitter and YouTube. Umm…it was as bad as you probably imagine.

They showed The Miz & Morrison doing the dance in the ring along to the video…at least they know their characters are supposed to be annoying assholes who don’t understand their irritating and abrasive natures. The Miz had tears in eyes thinking about their award speech, but Bunny’s music interrupted. I never thought I would be so happy to see Bunny as he & Priest entered.

Priest said congratulations and said they actually enjoyed the video. They said it was…entertaining? Priest said yeah, that’s a word. Priest said The Miz won’t be alughing when Bunny handles him at WrestleMania. Bunny said some stuff in Spanish (I don’t speak Spanish). The Miz demanded to know what Bunny said. Priest said Bunny said he’s going to make The Miz his bitch.

They exited the ring to approach Bunny, but were cutoff by Priest. He moved aside and said Bunny doesn’t need his help. Bunny punched The Miz square in the jaw and entered the ring. Morrison held The Miz back. Bunny launched the chairs out the ring and then took the painting and knocked it over, then bent it over a couple of times and threw it at The Miz & Morrison.

-They shifted to Randy Orton in the back who said he’s been privileged to have been able to face some of the greatest talent that the industry has ever offered. He named Hulk Hogan, Shawn Michaels, Triple H, John Cena, The Undertaker, and others, but said none of them compare to The Fiend. He said he knew he had to do whatever he could do to get rid of The Fiend, so he chose to light that match that would kill any man.

He said he was so caught up in removing The Fiend he forgot The Fiend is no man, but an abomination from hell. He said he thought Alexa Bliss’ premonition of The Fiend returning was just a game, but it was trap instead. He said Bliss knew she The Fiend’s heartbeat in the palm of her hand and could bring him back at any time. He said now, at least he knows what he’s dealing with. He said luckily for him, he and The Fiend are both cut from the same cloth and he knows just how far into hell he needs to sink to ensure The Fiend is out of his life once and for all.

-Lashley made his entrance for a handicap match instead of the previously announced singles match; then again, it was Alexander making the match. Interestingly, only Benjamin was shown wearing ring gear as they cut to break, so we’ll see if it’s a handicap match or not.

(Hazelwood’s Take: Wow…that music video was something else, and not in a good way, but that’s also the purpose, unfortunately. Orton’s promo was fine, but he seemed to hit the zenith in terms of intensity early and struggled to maintain it all the way through.)

(3) BOBBY LASHLEY (w/M.V.P.) (c) vs. SHELTON BENJAMIN (w/Cedric Alexander) – Non-title match

-They returned with a replay of Bunny punching The Miz right in the mouth, even in slow motion. It landed flush, too. They began the match with Benjamin rushing Lashley with strikes, avoiding a spinebuster, and taking Lashley down. Benjamin kept a hold of his go-behind and slammed Lashley again, then hit some knees to the side. Lashley fought out and hit a sudden flatliner to Benjamin. He mounted him and punched Benjamin several times. He tossed Benjamin outside, followed, lifted Benjamin on his shoulders, and drove Bejamin into the post as Alexander pleaded to understand why this was happening.

Lashley rolled Benjamin back in and rushed with a corner shoulder thrust. Alexander swiped at Lashley’s feet, then ran up to the entrance area as Lashley pursued. He reentered the ring to a sudden Paydirt from Benjamin, but only for two! They traded strikes on their feet before Benjamin rushed Lashley into the corner. After some strikes, he hit a rising knee to Lashley, then another, but then got rocked with the big spinebuster from Lashley. He sent Benjamin into the ropes and hit another spinebuster. He cinched in The Hurt Lock for the victory.

WINNER: Bobby Lashley at 4:16 (The Hurt Lock)

-They shifted to Styles & Omos in the back being approached by The New Day with a Game Night board. They wanted to test the synergy of the team of Styles & Omos. Kofi Kingston said they’re scared and did some chicken noises. Xavier Woods kept flipping the pages that had things like “Support Our Heroes Rock!” and “Subscribe to UpUpDownDown on YouTube!” They walked off as they cut to break. [c]

(Hazelwood’s Take: They made it realistic how Benjamin scored his offense, but clearly defined him below the WWE Champion, as he should be. Pretty much an A-to-B match.)

-They returned with The New Day already in the ring for Game Night. They said Game Night was to put their teamwork skills to the test. Woods introduced their foes as Kingston did a Styles entrance impersonation. There’s Jenga and Connect Four and other games. Kingston said as they head toward WrestleMania, they know how important it is for teams to be on the same page. He said they have a plethora of games to determine who is the better team.

Styles asked if they really think playing these games will prove that, but then said they’ll play their silly games to prove they’re better. First was charades, or “charaades” as Woods said. They had a 15-second timer. The first was “A Thousand Miles” by Vanessa Carlton that Woods got right! Styles was next (“The Lion King”) while Omos just looked perplexed. 1-0 The New Day.

Round Two was Pictionary. Woods went this time (“Rocket Ship”) and Kingston got it fairly easy. Styles asked Omos to draw, but Omos didn’t want to, so Styles did instead. The clue was “The sun” and Omos didn’t even respond (haha). 2-0 The New Day.

Omos yelled enough with the games. He said all we have to do is win the match at WrestleMania and then he’ll show them what he’s capable of, and Styles said he’s going to show Woods what he’s capable of right here, right now. Woods ended Game Night as Styles threw the games out of the ring and they cut to break. [c]

(Hazelwood’s Take: First a music video, then Game Night. At least one of them was slightly entertaining.)

(4) XAVIER WOODS (w/Kofi Kingston) vs. A.J. STYLES (w/Omos)

They returned with a video of a young fan giving his Hulk Hogan impression as they discussed how excited they are to have fans back. The kid was better than Terry. The match began with a Styles leapfrog, duck under, and picture-perfect dropkick. He whipped Woods into the ropes, Woods slid under, then hit a discus clothesline. He chopped Styles in a corner, then rammed his head into another, followed by another chop.

Styles finally countered and sent Woods into the corner. He missed a splash and ran right into another chop for a one-count. Woods sent Styles to the apron, then the floor, but stopped his tope attempt as Omos stepped in-between Woods and Styles. Styles tried taking advantage, but was hit with an enziguri that sent him outside to the opposite side of Omos, allowing Woods to hit the tope con hilo. He slid back in, laid on his belly, rested his chin in his hand, and used the other to wave at Omos while smiling. They cut to break. [c]

They returned with Woods punching away at Styles and exploding off of the ropes with a leaping forearm. He hit a superkick, rolled out of a belly-to-back, and hit a cumbersome looking gorilla press slam for a two-count. Woods lifted Styles to the top turnbuckle and climbed for a superplex attempt. Styles slid out, ripped out Woods leg, and hit an ushigoroshi for a two-count (I love me a good ushigoroshi). Styles set for the Styles Clash, but Woods rushed him into the corner.

Woods used the ropes to hit a tornado DDT for a two-count. Woods set Styles up for his top rope elbow, but Omos dragged Styles to the apron. Woods tried kicking Omos, but Omos caught him and just threw him upside down over the ropes back into the ring. He then lifted Kingston and literally threw Kingston a good three rows back (if there were still rows). He then hit a corner avalanche on Woods after Styles beat on him some.

Styles lifted Woods, threw him to Omos, and Omos popped him up for a huge spinebuster. He rolled Woods onto his back, stood on his chest with one foot, and had Styles count the three. They stood, arms raised, over Woods with Omos’ foot still drilled into Woods’ chest. They showed replays after, highlighting everything Omos did to The New Day. After the replay, he still had his foot on Woods’ chest. They showed Bliss in the back for “Alexa’s Playground” as they cut to break. [c]

WINNER: Xavier Woods at 8:00 (DQ)

(Hazelwood’s Take: I think they accomplished the main goal of that segment – give fans a taste of Omos’ abilities, but leave them wanting enough to purchase the PPV. Well done.)

[HOUR THREE]

-They returned with a replay of Omos’ actions from the previous match. They hyped the Tag Team Championship match for night one. They shifted to “Alexa’s Playground” after playing a recap video of last week’s segment with Orton, Bliss, and The Fiend in his new Meltman/Ivan Ooze form. They showed Bliss on her swing with the Jack-in-the-box and said don’t you just love them? She said it’s so much more than that, though. She said centuries ago, they were known as Devil-in-the-box and they used to have spells all over them to prevent demonic presences from appearing, only when they’re weakend.

She said that’s what happened at TLC when Orton burned The Fiend: he was just weakened and trapped in her “Fiend-in-a-box,” but you can’t trap people forever. She said he’s salivating at the idea of facing Orton. She said Orton’s biggest mistake was getting to close to the fire, but his biggest mistake is thinking he understands what’s going on. She said in their story, The Legend Killer dies. She laughed as she played the box with The Fiend erupting from the box. The panned to the right, showing The Fiend sitting in the other swing.

-They cut to McIntyre in the back, sitting on a crate. He rose, frustrated, and went to the locker room and asked who was going to step up (this isn’t smart). He said he’s disappointed no one would have stepped up. He said a few years ago, he would have dropped his ass the second he walked in the door. He made fun of someone for being on social media. He then approached Strowman and said he should have been a five-time champion already and asked why he wasn’t yet. Strowman said don’t worry about him since he’s coming after the title once he disposes of McMahon.

McIntyre grabbed Humberto Carrillo and demanded he hit him, but then threw Carrillo across the room. He approached Riddle, who aloofingly declined, then was attacked from behind by Angel Garza who he disposed of promptly. He approached Drew Gulak, said be a man, and hit him with a Glasgow Kiss. He then approached Ricochet next, who said Lashley’s word doesn’t mean anything. He said if it’s a fight he wants, look no further. McIntyre said he respects that and will see Ricochet in the ring. They cut to break as Shayna Baszler made her entrance.

(Hazelwood’s Take: Damn, he punked a few people out, making them look bad, but good for Ricochet. Should be a fun match, especially that bump Ricochet takes on the Claymore.)

(5) SHAYNA BASZLER (w/Nia Jax & Reginald) vs. Naomi (w/Lana)

They returned with Mandy Rose & Dana Brooke on commentary with Naomi already in the ring sans entrance (sigh). Naomi hit a go-behind to start, but Baszler backed her into a corner. She hit a big back elbow, but Naomi hit a big kick off of the ropes. She tried to leap over Baszler from the corner, but Basler instead kicked out the arm. She then stomped on the elbow and began working the left arm.

Naomi fought out, hit a series of moves, and rolled Basler into a pin, then a bridging cover for a two-count. Basler rolled it into a Kirifuda Clutch, then armbar attempt only for Naomi to hit her split-legged legdrop. Naomi went for a springboard out of the corner only for Reginald to appear on the apron. Lana tried swiping Reginald, who flipped away. Jax grabbed Lana, but Lana slid out and threw her into Brooke. Rose attacked Lana, but distracted Baszler long enough for Naomi to roll her up for the win.

WINNER: Naomi at 2:21 (rollup)

-They showed Asuka in the back approached by Riddle. She asked if he was OK, and he said he was fine. He asked if scooters were big in Japan, then said he’s sorry, he forgot what to say and walked off. Asuka looked befuddled. They then showed Rhea Ripley in the back talking to an official of some sort as they cut to break. [c]

(Hazelwood’s Take: RIDDLE FORGOT HIS LINES AND ADMITTED IT ON LIVE TV. I’M ROLLING.)

-They returned with a short replay of “Hey Hey Hop Hop” from earlier, then the actions that transpired between The Miz & Morrison and Priest & Bunny and a reminder of their match on night one.

-They shifted to Pearce in the ring for the contract signing between Asuka and Rhea Ripley. Women’s Champion Asuka then made her entrance, probably still recovering from Riddle forgetting his lines. Ripley said, “Current, Adam, I think you meant to say current” regarding Asuka. Asuka laughed and said she’s the champion and Ripley is overconfident. Ripley said she’s right. She said her first night she was confident enough to challenge Asuka to a match, but now she’s confident that she’ll win. She signed it forcefully, shoved it to Asuka, and said to sign it. She did and started laughing and talking in Japanese. I didn’t catch all of it. She said Ripley has the talent, but she is not- as Asuka was about to say her catchphrase, Ripley flipped the table, HARD, and it looked like it hit Asuka in the head.

Jax & Baszler then came back out and Jax said she’s not sure what’s worse: Ripley having the audacity to challenge Asuka, or Asuka accepting. Basler said Ripley’s new, but Asuka’s new and should be ashamed of herself since they’ve dominated the women’s division throughout the whole company for over a year, but they don’t have a WrestleMania match. She said she can’t wait to give Ripley a hard does of that reality, to which Ripley replied what’s stopping her (Jax held her back). Jax then challenged the two of them to a tag match for next week. Ripley accepted for both of them as Asuka was still recovering and covering her mouth; hopefully she didn’t lose another tooth!

-They cut to Ricochet in the back as M.V.P. approached him saying it’s nice to see Ricochet think like a businessman. Ricochet said it’s not about the offer because he thinks Lashley is a buffoon (I think?) and said he’s going to beat McIntyre because he knows he can. He flipped M.V.P.’s 305 chain before walking off. McIntyre made his entrance as they cut to break. [c]

(Hazelwood’s Take: Ripley was confident and there was a unique chemistry between the two. However, STOP with the Women’s Champion and challenger teaming to face the Women’s Tag Team Championship angles already!)

-They played a Dairy Queen ad featuring O’Neil and the importance he places on family.

-They returned with a reminder about the Hall of Fame ceremony. They then showed some of the congratulations to 2021 inductees Kane, The Great Khali, and Rob Van Dam, announced today (I wrote a news piece on RVD’s induction for the Torch). The 2021 class also includes Eric Bischoff & Molly Holly.

(6) DREW MCINTYRE vs. RICOCHET

They suddenly shifted from the Hall of Fame music back to McIntyre’s as he was in the ring. Ricochet made his entrance next. Ricochet immediately punched away, then used his quickness only for it to backfire on a tremendous backbody drop from McIntyre; Ricochet had to be a good 12 feet in the air. McIntyre then hit a huge overhead suplex that sent Ricochet from one corner clear to the other.

They showed Lashley watching in the back. McIntyre tried another overhead suplex, but Ricochet landed on his feet and head scissored McIntyre into the turnbuckle. He hit a rising knee, then a springboard kick (Disaster Kick style) for a one-count. He sidestepped McIntyre and sent him outside, but McIntyre dragged Ricochet out. McIntyre whipped Ricochet, who leaped off of the bottom step and onto the barricade, walked it, then hit a flying clothesline on McIntyre. Nicely done.

Back in the ring, Ricochet climbed for the 630. McIntyre rolled away and then hit a Claymore for the one-two-three. After the match, Mustafa Ali hit a chop block on McIntyre right away (he’s wearing olive green tights as opposed to black ones). He attacked McIntyre, who threw him out of the ring. He challenged Ali to fight him as they cut to break.

WINNER: Drew McIntyre at 2:51 (Claymore Kick)

(7) DREW MCINTYRE vs. MUSTAFA ALI

They returned with action already in progress, Ali working McIntyre’s knee against the post outside. I started the clock during the break, so the time should be fairly accurate. Back in the ring, Ali hit another chop block and continued to attack the left knee. McIntyre fought off Ali from the apron, but upon reentry had his knee kicked out. They showed Lashley leaving the area where he was watching the match as Ali worked the knee against the ropes.

McIntyre tried to fight out, but a basement dropkick to the knee resulted in a one-count. McIntyre kicked away Ali, but Ali climbed to the top rope and hit a big splash to the legs of McIntyre for a two-count (McIntyre sold the pain well). Ali yelled to M.V.P. that he’s coming for the opportunity as he punched away at McIntyre on the mat. As Ali came off of the ropes, McIntyre hit a quick overhead suplex, then one from the corner that sent Ali to the opposite corner.

McIntyre hit some strikes in the corner before hitting another overhead suplex. Ali tried hitting a springboard splash, but McIntyre hit the Glasgow Kiss to Ali in midair. McIntyre counted down for the Claymore Kick and hit for the victory. They showed replays after the match as McIntyre asked for more in the ring. He called out Lashley, then grabbed a mic.

WINNER: Drew McIntyre at about 6:39 (Claymore Kick)

He called Lashley out, then said everyone tried and got their ass kicked by him. He told Lashley to step up and “finish me your damn self.” Lashley strolled out as M.V.P. said this is not a good business decision. They cut to break as M.V.P. asked, “What you doing, Champ?”

(Hazelwood’s Take: I guess having McIntyre win a handicap match last week wasn’t enough to rebuild him, ey? Having matches with supremely talented wrestlers like Ricochet and Ali helps make McIntyre’s offense and comeback that much more effective. I’m glad those two also received TV time in actual matches.)

-They returned with a Raw Talk promo with Riddle, Asuka, and The Miz & Morrison. McIntyre said he didn’t even notice M.V.P. behind him he was so focused on his matches. He said no matter what, Lashley can’t prevent the inevitable of their match. Lashley said he never needed help. He said he almost ended McIntyre’s career with the beating he gave him at Elimination Chamber. He said that will pale in comparison to what he’s going to do to McIntyre at WrestleMania and said it’s “The All Mighty Era.”

McIntyre said in the whole of WWE, there’s no one like Lashley and if he didn’t exist, Lashley would be the man, but McIntyre exists. He said Lashley is afraid of him, which prompted a Lashley right hand. The brawled a bit, McIntyre fought out of a flatliner, hit a Glasgow Kiss, and kicked Lashley out of the ring.

Suddenly, Smackdown’s King Corbin attacked McIntyre, hit a Deep Six, then another. McIntyre fought back and hit his overhead suplex. He set for the Claymore Kick, but Corbin turned it into yet another Deep Six. Lashley reentered the ring and applied The Hurt Lock to McIntyre as M.V.P. praised Lashley. He threw McIntyre to the mat as Corbin egged on Lashley, who applied the Lock again. McIntyre was seated as the second Lock was applied.

Lashley grabbed the title, rubbed it in McIntyre’s face, and stood over him with the title and a menacing look on his face. He grabbed McIntyre and applied a third Lock while Corbin talked smack to McIntyre. McIntyre faded and fell to a seated position before Lashley relented. Lashley raised the title with Corbin flanked to his right as the show ended.

(Hazelwood’s Take: Interesting development here with Corbin. Saving the physical interaction may have been better, but this wrinkle of Corbin, who’s always looked for the best opportunities to advance himself, makes me wonder if we will see a McIntyre-Corbin match next week or even this Friday. Interesting indeed.)

FINAL THOUGHTS: There was some bad, some good, some better than good. Sheamus continues to shine in his matches, and the McIntyre saga throughout all three hours was entertaining. Some of the bits tonight were just too cute for me, but hey, I’m not representative of all 1.6-1.8 million viewers, right?

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