4/19 WWE MONDAY NIGHT RAW REPORT: Hazelwood’s alt-perspective on Strowman vs. Orton, Asuka vs. Flair, McIntyre confronting M.V.P., more

BY BRUCE LEE HAZELWOOD, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR


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

WWE MONDAY NIGHT RAW TV REPORT
APRIL 19, 2021
TAMPA, FLA. AT YUENGLING CENTER (THE “THUNDERDOME”)
AIRED ON USA NETWORK
REPORT BY BRUCE LEE HAZELWOOD (@B_Lee253), PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR

Commentators: Adnan Virk, Byron Saxton, Corey Graves

Ring Announcer: Mike Rome

Tonight after the show, join Wade Keller with guest cohost Robert Vallejos of the “MMA Talk for Pro Wrestling Fans” PWTorch Dailycast 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 Adnan Virk welcoming us from the “award-winning Thunderdome” as Drew McIntyre’s music hit. He entered, sword in hand by either side of the pommel, thrust it into the ramp, and made his way to the ring as they replayed the events of last week’s #1 contender match that saw McIntyre gain that designation and the double chokeslam he suffered at the hands of Mace & T-Bar.

Virk then hyped the WWE Championship match at WrestleMania Backlash. McIntyre said opportunity is a hell of a thing. He said you can make your own opportunities and make things happen. He said sometimes, it just falls into your lap. He said case in point was last week when he said he would get his rematch to M.V.P. He said that statement triggered a few wrestlers, did a bad “Strowman-as-caveman” impression, then said he watched everything unfold until Adam Pearce made the triple threat match.

He said he earned his victory by beating “two of the top superstars on Raw” and he stands before us as #1 contender. He said sometimes you dive into the deep end and moved to Mace & T-Bar. He said they decided to make their names at the expense of him. He said he knows the mastermind is M.V.P., but he doesn’t know why they would align with him. He asked if they’ll wear fancy suits, pull off those ugly masks, or have M.V.P. wear a mask to “cover up his ugly mug.” He said once he gets his hands on them, he’ll get some “retribution.”

M.V.P. interrupted to his newer music and said McIntyre wasn’t expecting him to come out and address these “ridiculous accusations?” He said McIntyre wasn’t expecting to be put to sleep in The Hurt Lock, or that he wasn’t expecting the attack last week, and said McIntyre should expect the unexpected. He then congratulated McIntyre on becoming #1 contender on behalf of Bobby Lashley and said he’ll put McIntyre to sleep again.

McIntyre asked if M.V.P. is going to look him in the eye and say he has nothing do with last week? M.V.P. said Lashley is the “Chief Hurt Officer” and he makes his own decisions. He said after “downsizing,” why would they hire those two to beat him when Lashley’s proven he can do it himself? McIntyre said yeah, well, that didn’t stop King Corbin from attacking him before WrestleMania. M.V.P. emphatically stated they had nothing to do with the attack last week.

He said maybe the chickens are coming home to roost after McIntyre picked a fight with the entire locker room. McIntyre said maybe it’s a coincidence that M.V.P. walked out last week. He exited the ring, then was attacked by Mace & T-Bar. They took him in the ring and performed another double sitting chokeslam. Byron Saxton said it’s real fishy, and Corey Graves said there are more questions than answers.

-They cut to Kevin Patrick in Gorilla as Mace & T-Bar approached. They said some random words, with Mace naming a bunch of animals. T-Bar said they’re going to finish off McIntyre. They showed replays of the attack. McIntyre recovered, looking angry as they cut to break. [c]

(Hazelwood’s Take: McIntyre was fine, but started to get a bit long. Thank goodness for M.V.P.’s interruption. However, I have NO idea what Mace & T-Bar said or were discussing. Those masks really make it difficult to understand their promos. Ditch them!)

-They returned with another replay of the angle that just happened. They cut to McIntyre walking in the back as he approached Pearce. He said Pearce knows what he’s going to say and demanded a handicap match against them. Pearce said not by himself, and McIntyre said yes by himself. He said his first reaction is to grab a bat. He said make the match happen or Pearce will regret it.

(1) CEDRIC ALEXANDER & SHELTON BENJAMIN vs. VIKING RAIDERS (Erik & Ivar)

Alexander & Benjamin were already in the ring. Viking Raiders entered next. Benjamin and Erik began, with Benjamin forcing his opponent into the corner. Both men traded shots, Benjamin dodge a running knee, then hit a go-behind and some mat wrestling, tagged in his partner, and held Erik for a dropkick and a two-count, then a quick one-count. Alexander rushed Erik into his corner and beat on him with strikes.

He shoved his boot into Erik’s throat and tagged in his partner. Benjamin hit a short-arm clothesline, a Muy Thai plumb knee, then drove Erik into their corner. Alexander tagged back in and hit a few forearms on Erik, but Erik hit a huge forearm and tagged in Ivar.

Ivar hit a spinning sidewalk slam, but then missed a running splash on a seated Alexander. Benjamin tagged in and hit a step-up knee to Ivar for a two-count. Benjamin punched away at Ivar in a neutral corner, then back to their corner. He tagged in Alexander, who went back to work on Ivar. He pulled the beard of Ivar in the corner, then tagged in his partner.

Benjamin hit some body shots, but Ivar fought out of the corner with his leaping seated senton. Benjamin grabbed his foot to prevent the tag, even grapevining the leg, then transitioned into an ankle lock. Ivar rolled out, rolled through a clothesline, then tagged in Erik. Erik hit a flurry of strikes, but Benjamin countered into a Samoan drop for a two-count.

Alexander tagged in, hit a running clothesline in the corner, and then a tornado DDT for a pin that was broken up by Ivar. Benjamin sent Ivar outside, then followed. Ivar countered a whip and sent Benjamin into the barricade, then hit a flying crossbody onto Benjamin against the barricade.

Alexander went for the Neuralizer, but was countered into Erik’s big rolling knee. He tagged in Ivar and they hit the Viking Experience (Virk called it the Viking Express) for the victory. They showed replays after. The victors celebrated in the ring.

WINNER: Viking Raiders at 5:26 (Viking Experience)

-They shifted to Patrick in the back as he welcomed Randy Orton. He asked Orton if The Fiend is no more, and Orton said “mark my words” The Fiend won’t be seen again as long as he’s around. He said no one could do what he did. He said McIntyre did get lucky last week at his expense and that The Fiend in his rearview as he set his sights on the victor of the WWE Championship match.

Riddle rode by on his scooter, congratulating Orton on his WrestleMania victory. Riddle said he always wanted to meet an apex predator, and asked what that even means. Riddle said he lost his title, but since they don’t have titles, they can form a tag team called “R-K-Bro.” Orton just walked away. Even Patrick no-sold Riddle. Good for Patrick.

(Hazelwood’s Take: It began last week, and tonight solidified what many of us expected to happen in the quick descent of Alexander & Benjamin to mid-card fodder. It’s disappointing because they are much more exciting and intriguing than Viking Raiders in my opinion. Riddle is purely annoying, but not in the good heel way.)

-They returned with Pearce in his office looking at his phone as Orton appeared. He said he’s sick and tired about the lack of respect. He said he wants Riddle (even though he didn’t know his name) and demanded a match. Pearce said he would see what he could do.

-Graves then shifted to a recap video of last week’s Charlotte Flair promo and subsequent attack on both Rhea Ripley and Asuka. They hyped Asuka vs. Flair for later tonight as Flair made her entrance in non-wrestling gear. They cut to break. [c]

-They returned with Flair in the ring, who lifted her arms in pose just as the cameras returned. She said she came back last week simply demanding respect after everything she has given this industry. She said she didn’t mean to hurt anyone’s feelings; she was just expressing how she felt, being unapologetically her, the biggest star in the division. She said who were they still talking about at WrestleMania even though she didn’t have a match? Her.

She said the women in the back are so fake and so lame, and she doesn’t know why they’re mad at her as they didn’t have a match taken from them like her. She said big deal, Ripley beat Asuka. She said she can beat both, and then said she can beat both in the same night, saying that’s why she’s called “the opportunity.” She said she respects Asuka, but that doesn’t mean she has to like her. She said tonight she’s going to remind Asuka how much she doesn’t like her.

Asuka interrupted and sauntered to the ring doing her usual strut. Asuka entered, but before she could say anything, Ripley’s music hit. She hit the stage, sporting new ink on her left forearm, as Flair asked what’s going on here and if they’re going to gang up on her. She said she wanted Ripley to take notes and sit ringside. Ripley said she knows Asuka will beat Flair.

Before Asuka could speak, Flair interrupted, and spoke very slowly that she was the one to end Asuka’s streak. When Asuka tried to speak, Flair kept telling her to shut up because she doesn’t understand her. Asuka yelled, “Tonight, I will beat you bitch!” Flair looked shocked as Asuka left and Ripley snickered.

-They shifted to Orton in the back as Riddle sped by on his scooter. Orton took some deep breaths to calm himself as Virk hyped their match next. They cut to break. [c]

(Hazelwood’s Take: Flair speaking slow bordered on racist because it implied Asuka doesn’t understand English when she clearly does. Flair’s pompous attitude fits the character, but the racist tropes can go.)

-They returned with yet another recap of the opening segment! Goodness. They really want us to remember what happened in that first segment, or at the very least, Mace & T-Bar. Graves announced the handicap match is offical for tonight, presumably the main event.

(2) RIDDLE vs. RANDY ORTON

Riddle rode to the ring on his scooter and had those stupid 3D bird graphics as he kicked off his slippers. Orton then made his entrance. I was really hoping he would stick with the white trunks after WrestleMania, but two weeks running that hasn’t been the case. Oh well.

Virk said some call Riddle “exuberant.” Ha. They began with a lockup, then Riddle hit a go-behind. They broke apart. Orton hit a side headlock takedown, holding on the lock. Riddle fought to his feet and used the ropes to put Orton into a Muy Thai plumb. However, Orton regained control. On a vertical suplex attempt, Riddle countered into a standing sleeper, even using his left leg to lock in Orton’s left arm.

Orton flipped Riddle off of him, then they reset. Riddle looked for the sleeper again, but Orton drove Riddle into the corner. Riddle jumped back on and locked it in again as Orton began to fade a little. He regained his composure and slammed Riddle down on his back. As Orton sat up, Riddle applied the lock again, but Orton rolled to the outside to break it up.

Riddle went to the apron and went for the PK, but Orton grabbed his foot and slammed him onto the apron. He then lifted Riddle with his belly-to-back and literally threw Riddle onto the announce desk as they cut to break. [c]

They returned with Orton stomping at the various appendages of a prone Orton. He stomped on the barefoot of Riddle several times (they also showed the trademark even though the top of the hour hasn’t hit). Orton shoved Riddle’s throat into the second rope, but ate some chops and strikes from Riddle. Orton hit a quick snap powerslam for a two-count, though.

Orton, methodically, set and hit a textbook vertical suplex on Riddle in the middle of the ring. He took his time recovering, working out the right shoulder, before he hit Riddle with a European uppercut. He put Riddle in a corner, but Riddle fought back only to suffer an eye poke from Orton. The ref admonished him, but they never have any penalties so why not do it?

Orton chopped away at Riddle in the corner, using his left hand as he was favoring his right. Riddle exploded with chops and slaps out of the corner, but was countered on an Irish whip as Orton powerfully whipped him chest-first into the corner. He dragged Riddle to the middle of the ring and covered him for a two-count. He looked around and locked in his patented rear chinlock, the Randy Orton Special.

Orton yelled some trash talk to Riddle, then uppercutted him into the corner. He rushed, but Riddle moved, causing Orton to hit the post shoulder-first. Riddle hit a few body shots, a teep kick, then an overhead kick to drop Orton. He frothed at the mouth as he hit a flying forearm into the corner, a running forearm, and then tripped out Orton’s leg after suffering some strikes. He hit a Broton for a two-count.

[HOUR TWO]

He went to the top to attempt a Floating Bro, but Orton prevented that as he climbed to set for possibly a superplex. Riddle fought back, but Orton raked at the eyes. He hit a second-rope superplex to Riddle, but took about five seconds to attempt a pin, allowing Riddle to kick out at two.

Orton went to strike Riddle, but Riddle locked in the triangle along the ropes, holding it for four seconds. As he tried to reenter, Orton kicked him and hit his draping DDT. Rather than pin Riddle, Orton paced and set for the RKO. He pounded the ring, but Riddle turned it into a crucifix pin for the win. Saxton said it’s the biggest win of Riddle’s career, a former United States Champion, so yeah. They showed replays after.

WINNER: Riddle at 13:30 (crucifix pin)

-They shifted to Pearce on the phone as Sheamus entered. Pearce congratulated him on becoming U.S. Champion and put the idea out of an open challenge by bringing up John Cena. Sheamus said he doesn’t care about the past, and Pearce is trying to embarrass and goad him into the open challenge. Sheamus said that’s why he’d do it. Graves said he respects the decision. Shayna Baszler & Nia Jax made their entrances as they cut to break. [c]

(Hazelwood’s Take: A decent enough match. It really depends on how you took the opening moments of the match. I’ll hand it to WWE in that they tried something different in the beginning of the match. If an open challenge is how we get Sheamus on Raw every week, then GIVE IT TO ME.)

(3) SHAYNA BASZLER & NIA JAX (c) vs. NAOMI & LANA – Non-title match

Bazsler & Jax were in the ring as their opponents made their entrance. Jax and Naomi began, with the latter trying to use her quickness to her advantage. She hit a few kicks to Jax, tagged in Lana, but couldn’t do a double Irish whip. Lana tried some stuff, then tagged in Naomi who hit a flying clothesline. Lana came in, hit a move, tagged in Naomi, hit a big split-leg drop, and covered for a two-count.

Lana tagged in and instead of hitting a double suplex, Jax hit one instead that wasn’t too clean. Baszler tagged in and hit an immediate knee to Lana for a two-count. “Alexa’s Playground” was hyped for later. Lana rolled Baszler up for two, but Baszler kicked out and knocked Naomi off the apron. She stomped on Lana’s arm as Mandy Rose & Dana Brooke interrupted.

They said they wanted to show them something, and queued up a replay at last week’s events where Rose slapped Jax. Brooke then said they wanted Jax to see something else. They showed the double team on Jax in the back next (Baszler held onto Lana’s arm). They then showed Jax slipping on the apron as the other two willingly were counted out. Baszler called for a tag, but Jax left and went right after Rose & Brooke to Baszler’s chagrin.

Lana finally tagged in Naomi. They hit a double facebuster for the victory. It wasn’t a good finisher.

WINNER: Naomi & Lana at 4:14 (double facebuster)

-They cut to still shots of Bad Bunny’s performance at WrestleMania and the “buzz” it created. The announcers put over Bunny, then cut to an interview with Bunny & Damian Priest from just after their match. Bunny said it was incredible and a dream come true. He said it was a pleasure working with Priest and learning from him the past few months. He said it was an honor and a special moment together, especially being Latinos and Puerto Ricans. He said he would cherish it forever. Priest put over how hard Bunny worked, and said he deserved the experience. Bunny said the whole roster showed him so much respect and accepted him quickly. He said it was truly a pleasure to work with WWE, and that they treated him well. This was all in Spanish with English subtitles. Virk then put over Bunny’s 2022 tour and it being sold out. They cut to break hyping “Miz TV” next. [c]

(Hazelwood’s Take: What in the hell was that match? That was utter crap. Who the hell stops their match because some folk want to show you a video? If you’re the opponent, why not fight back harder? If you’re Jax, why react so stupidly over something so juvenile? It was just an infuriating segment.)

-They returned with The Miz & Maryse making their entrances. The Miz did his usual intro and said this isn’t a typical episode because he’s joined by the love of his life, the mother of his children, the most gorgeous/sexy/vivacious woman in the world, Maryse. He said last week couldn’t have gone any better (even though he lost to Bunny & Priest) and took credit for the sold out tour. He then said they defeated Priest last week, and the season premiere of Miz & Mrs. was a smashing success.

Maryse thanked him, and said he is the most awesome father, husband, and the greatest WWE “superstar” of his generation. They did some lovey dovey stuff cringey stuff after before shifting. The Miz said they deserve a special celebration. He said tonight is their night. They kissed as pyro exploded around the arena. She popped open some champagne and poured glasses for each. The Miz said they celebrate tonight, plugged their show, then the premiere of his WWE 24 documentary airing on Sunday. He raised a glass to himself.

Priest’s music finally interrupted as he walked to the ring. He took a mic and said he think he speaks for everyone when he says The Miz is as delusional as Jake Paul thinking he’s a real fighter (nice). He then said let’s look at how you actually got the victory, and replayed last week’s events where Maryse distracted Priest and The Miz used the ropes for leverage.

The Miz look perturbed. Priest said what type of man brags about a win like that? Priest said some stuff in Spanish, then in a New York accent, said everyone saw The Miz’s pants come off and that he had no cajones. Maryse popped in with some French, then offered her husband up in a match. Priest said, uh, yeah, thanks. He then took some champagne, said congrats, and said that was trash champagne. The Miz threw some in Priest’s face and retreated.

-They cut to The New Day in the back as Riddle rode up. They congratulated him on his victory earlier. Riddle asked what was in the case Xavier Woods was holding. Riddle said you could put some birds in their, or some coins, or some silver dollars. They then yelled in unison, “SILVER DOLLAR PANCAKES!” Riddle rode away as they cut to break. [c]

-They returned with Elias in the ring, Ryker standing by him. Elias strummed his guitar, introduced Ryker, then strummed again. It sounded out of tune. Suddenly, they showed Woods on stage strumming an electric bass, badly, with Kingston dancing alongside. Their music hit as they made their entrance.

(4) KOFI KINGSTON (w/Xavier Woods) vs. ELIAS (w/Jaxson Ryker)

Elias immediately hit a running knee for a two count. Elias hit a Final Cut-like maneuver for a two-count. He yelled at Woods, who strummed his bass some more, but this allowed Kingston to hit a Thesz Press and some stomping a mudhole in the corner, then the, “Oh Hell Yeah!” gesture in homage to Steve Austin.

Elias fought back by hitting basically a Stun Gun (another Austin homage!). He then lifted Kingston for a delayed vertical suplex, then hit. Elias stomped a mudhole himself in the corner, then slammed Kingston chest-first onto the corner of the apron. He hit an arm-lock overhead suplex for a two-count. Kingston fought back, hitting his kick from the ropes in the corner, then hit a frogsplash-crossbody for a two-count.

Kingston hit several kicks, then countered Elias into an UGLY looking S.O.S. for a two-count. Elias was able to hit a mule kick from the corner, but was met as he climbed the turnbuckle. Kingston climbed, but Elias fought him off. Kingston ran back up, but Elias held on when Kingston tried for a Frankensteiner. Elias hit an elbow drop for the clean win. They showed replays after.

WINNER: Elias at 4:40 (top rope elbow drop)

-They shifted to Alexa Bliss and Lily on swings in her “Alexa’s Playground” set. They cut to break. [c]

(Hazelwood’s Take: Elias did what now!? Just…why? This episode is a test in patience.)

-They returned with Bliss saying Lily didn’t just come into her life. They showed photos with a young Bliss and Lily. She said they were on a playground like this when there was a girl being mean to her. She wouldn’t let Bliss have a bite of her ice cream cone. Even though she doesn’t like strawberry, she “shoved that little bitch right off the slide,” causing her to break her arm. She said when teachers asked her why, she told them the truth: Lily told her to do it. The teachers thought she was “bonkers,” but she said Lily has no problem telling you how she feels.

She said all the “girls” on the roster should know that Lily didn’t like him, and she doesn’t like any of them either. She laughed maniacally and swung. They zoomed in on Lily’s face as it did the Goldust mouth snap.

-They shifted to recapping what happened in the women’s tag match earlier (why?!). They cut to Rose & Brooke in the back as Sarah Schreiber approached and asked if it was appropriate behavior. Rose said they’re not the bullies, but Jax & Baszler are the bullies. She said yeah, she slipped, but they kept at it. Jax yelled out and they retreated.

Baszler told Jax to get her head in the game and they only lost because of her. She sternly told Jax to fix it or else. Angel Garza approached, but the piped-in noise was too loud to hear what he said.

-McIntyre made his entrance as Graves said this was an example of “having more balls than brains.” They cut to break.

(Hazelwood’s Take: The Bliss segment was fine, and planted more seeds to the character and Lily, even going so far as to impose Lily into childhood pictures, at least I think so. As Wade Keller said in his report tonight, though, we could do without women referring to other women as “bitches” whenever they need to call someone a name.)

[HOUR THREE]

(5) DREW MCINTYRE vs. MACE & T-BAR – Handicap match

They returned with McIntyre in the ring and hyped the WWE Championship match in a few weeks. His opponents made their entrance next, still to the Retribution music yet without the graphics. Graves really put over the size of Mace & T-Bar. Mace & T-Bar have to tag out.

McIntyre immediately went after T-Bar, who still has his hooded vest on, but T-Bar fought back. He whipped McIntyre into the ropes, but McIntyre hit some strikes. T-Bar blocked a vertical suplex attempt, then McIntyre blocked one, hit a few knees, and hit T-Bar with a suplex for a one-count.

They showed M.V.P. watching from Gorilla as Virk excitedly pointed it out. Mace tagged in, but McIntyre hit some chops. Mace slithered around McIntyre, then hit a huge three-point stance clothesline for a two-count. T-Bar tagged in and they hit a double suplex for a two-count. Graves reminded Saxton that McIntyre demanded this match.

Mace tagged back in and gave a seated McIntyre a big boot. He lifted McIntyre, then tagged in T-Bar. They hit double running boots to the chest of McIntyre in the corner. T-Bar applied a rear chinlock that Virk actually called correctly (he needs an adjustment period, people, maybe one to three months). McIntyre fought back with big strikes, but T-Bar dragged him to the mat by the hair and tagged in Mace.

Mace hit a big belly-to-back suplex for a two-count, then tagged in T-Bar. McIntyre tried fighting back against Mace, but T-Bar swarmed him. McIntyre tried fighting back with chops and forearms, and then hit a spinebuster into a jackknife cover for a two-count. McIntyre rushed T-Bar in the corner, ate a big boot, but then hit the Glasgow Kiss as T-Bar leapt from the middle rope.

McIntyre no-sold the impact and set for the Claymore. He fought off Mace, but T-Bar rushed McIntyre into the corner. Mace entered swarmed McIntyre, so the ref called for the bell. Suddenly, Braun Strowman’s music hit as he marched to the ring. Mace & T-Bar evacuated the ring and looked at Strowman from ringside. They cut to break, so tag match coming up. [c]

WINNER: Drew McIntyre at 5:57 by DQ

(6) DREW MCINTYRE & BRAUN STROWMAN vs. MACE & T-BAR

They returned with Strowman and Mace starting this impromptu (but not really) match. They locked up, but Strowman threw Mace off. They locked up again, and Mace forced Strowman into the corner. He broke clean, but then shoved Strowman in the chest. Mace applied a side headlock, but Strowman threw him off of the ropes. They hit shoulders, but Strowman used the momentum to come off of the ropes and drop Mace.

He rammed Mace’s head into a neutral corner, then hit a big forearm across the back. McIntyre just snickered on the apron. Strowman applied a side headlock of his own (he’s also bleeding from the space between his eyes, possibly from Mace’s mask). McIntyre tagged in and started working Mace in a neutral corner. The ref pulled him off rather than disqualifying him. Mace was able to hit a double throat chop and tag in T-Bar.

T-Bar was hit by McIntyre, who tagged in Strowman. He entered and hit a big boot to T-Bar. He pounded on T-Bar in the corner with heavy forearms to the back. He then hit T-Bar with a big body shot, and whipped him hard across to the other turnbuckle. He swung at Mace, who ducked, allowing T-Bar to hit a chop block.

Mace tagged in and they hit a clothesline/leg lariat combo for a two-count. Mace pounded on Strowman and then hit a crossface. T-Bar tagged in and hit a running boot to Strowman for a two-count. Strowman fought to his feet by hitting a big backbody drop to T-Bar, but both men were prone after that. They made the tags as McIntyre exploded into Mace with a clothesline, then another hop-scotch looking one. He hit his overhead belly-to-belly out of the corner, then a neckbreaker, and finally a kip up.

He removed Mace’s mask, revealing Dio Maddin’s face. Maddin slapped McIntyre, who used the mask and simply WAYLAYED Mace with the mask over and over, causing the DQ. T-Bar took out McIntyre, but Strowman entered, removed T-Bar’s mask, and threw him out.

WINNER: Mace & T-Bar at 6:24 by DQ

-They shifted The Miz & Maryse in the back making their way to the ring for his match against Priest. They cut to break. [c]

(Hazelwood’s Take: Well, I guess that’s one way to remove the masks from Mace & T-Bar. The match was fine, and Mace & T-Bar worked well together. We all know T-Bar can work, but it was nice to see Maddin’s improvements as well. Does this mean McIntyre & Strowman and Mace & T-Bar are set to challenge A.J. Styles & Omos for the Tag Team Championship?)

-They returned with a “Raw Talk” promo with M.V.P., Priest, and Naomi & Lana (how many of you actually watch “Raw Talk,” though?). The Miz & Maryse were already in the ring. Priest made his full entrance next.

(7) THE MIZ (w/Maryse) vs. DAMIAN PRIEST

They began with The Miz immediately heading outside and receiving a kiss from his wife, much to Graves’ delight. Priest was able to kick The Miz on the apron, then suplex throw him from the apron to the ring. He started pounding on The Miz in the corner, dropping him to the mat. He gave him a stiff kick to the gut, then a knee to the gut, and finally a flying elbow after sending The Miz off of the ropes.

Priest set in the corner, but Maryse grabbed his foot to distract him. This allowed The Miz to kick Priest in the face. He fell to the apron, then was kicked off by The Miz using a baseball slide. He threw Priest into the barrier twice, then back into the ring. He climbed to the top rope and hit a double axe handle to Priest’s head. He mounted Priest and rained down left hands, then a boot to the head for a one-count.

The Miz locked in a modified rear chinlock, tearing at the nostrils a bit. Priest fought back to his feet, but The Miz hit his modified backbreaker/neckbreaker combo. He started doing the “It Kicks” to Priest’s chest and back, only infuriating Priest. Priest actually elbowed The Miz’s shin on the next kick, then a series of body and leg kicks. He hit a flapjack, then a running back elbow into the corner (he did his archer pose at Maryse).

Priest did a Disaster Kick looking move. He went for chokeslam, but The Miz slithered away. Maryse climbed the apron, but The Miz rolled him up like last week only for Priest to kick out. He hit the thunderclap and Hit the Lights for the victory. They showed replays after the match. Graves called it humiliating. Priest celebrated in the ring.

WINNER: Damian Priest at 5:03 (Hit the Lights)

-They shifted to Asuka in the back warming up for her main event match with Flair next. They cut to break as Virk wasn’t able to finish his commercial bump. [c]

(Hazelwood’s Take: Sure, it was a handicap match last week, but it’s basically 50/50 booking. They already ruined Priest’s momentum from WrestleMania, but maybe this is the start of building it back. He did well in the Spanish promo with Bunny they showed earlier, but not as well with The Miz during Miz TV. I guess we’ll see.)

-They returned with Sheamus in the ring, mic in hand. He said there is something the world needs to know right now and it’s that he’s the new U.S. Champion (who was off the show last week). He said it will be this way for a long time. He said he didn’t do it by being a nice fella, making reckless decisions, but by doing the opposite. He said he’s going to our fighting champion, which means he will issue an open challenge every week, or whenever he wants. He asked if anyone wanted a shot at the champ. He was interrupted by Humberto Carrillo.

Sheamus immediately attacked Carrillo from behind as he entered the ring, then disposed of him to the outside. Sheamus followed and delivered a big clothesline. He ran Carrillo into the barricade, then again, then a final time into the ring post. He gave a modified Ten Beats as he held Carrillo, then wiped the sweat off of his face.

He lifted Carrillo into a bodyslam position, rammed him into the post, then dragged him into the ring and set him in a corner. He set for the Brogue Kick and hit a BIG one as Carrillo took a huge bump. He grabbed his title, shoved it in Carrillo’s face, and yelled at him that he’s not in Sheamus’ league. Sheamus posed with the title over Carrillo.

-They showed Flair warming up in the back as they cut to break. The first commercial was the Steve Austin WrestleMania 38 promo for next year in Dallas. [c]

-They returned with Graves saying “it’s been a long night” and I couldn’t stop laughing at the absurd truth in the statement. Flair made her entrance first in new gear that looks good and works well for her character. It’s just more slick and clean compared to her “The Queen” gimmick. Asuka made her entrance next with about 11 minutes left in the show. Ripley’s music hit as she appeared to have accepted Flair’s invitation to sit ringside.

(8) CHARLOTTE FLAIR vs. ASUKA

They locked up to begin with Ripley still making her way. They engaged in some reversals until Asuka kicked Flair across the gut as Flair tried to roll up to her feet in a back handspring style. Asuka missed a hip attack, getting caught in the ropes, and then getting hit by Asuka. Asuka then hit a neckbreaker on the apron, another ugly looking spot. They cut to break. [c]

They returned with Flair in control, chopping Asuka to the mat. Asuka yelled out in fighting spirit, then was able to hit a missile dropkick from the second rope to Flair. Asuka hit her lifting knee, then a hip attack in the corner. Asuka hit a kick, but Flair grabbed the next one. As Flair went for one of her own, Asuka reversed into her leg-capture German suplex and a Shining Wizard for a two-count.

Flair hit a big elbow (Virk said, “The slap heard around the world!”), then got caught in a flying armbar attempt. She pounded her way out, then missed a running kick. She recovered enough to come off of the ropes, but then was hit with an ugly looking midair codebreaker.

Both women exchanged blows on their knees before rising to their feet. Asuka ran off of the ropes into a spear for a very close two-count. She tried for the Figure Eight, but Asuka kicked her off to the apron. Flair then caught Asuka’s leg in the ropes and applied a kneebar or Achilles hold. As she reentered the ring, Asuka leapt over a chop block attempt and hit the Asuka Lock, but Flair rolled to the ropes.

Flair then was able to hit a chop block from the front, then locked in the Figure Eight. Behind the ref’s back, Ripley pulled away Flair’s arms, which broke the hold, She went after Ripley, but this allowed Asuka to strike Flair and roll her up for the victory. Flair seethed after the match, stalking the ref and giving him a biel. She then stomped a mudhole on the ref in the corner, then mounted him from the back and hit forearm after forearm to the back of his head.

Another two refs entered to get her off, reprimanding her and checking on their brethren. She smiled, then resumed her attack, acted like she was done, then reentered and delivered a PK to the ref’s gut as the show went off of the air.

WINNER: Asuka at 9:14 (rollup)

(Hazelwood’s Take: I’m surprised we saw a finish, even if it wasn’t clean. It still kind of diminishes Asuka in that she needed help to defeat Flair. Flair’s attack after the match solidified her as a heel if you still had doubts after last week. They just brought her back, but usually these kinds of angles result in a kayfabe suspension of some kind. I guess they at least gave us a little cliffhanger for next week.)

FINAL THOUGHTS: This was just a wretched, wretched show. We’ve been saying it a lot, but tonight was truly awful. Wade Keller said it best: it was listless. There really was nothing on this show that is noteworthy (in a positive way) or intriguing. It’s all too predictable, and this time, predictable is just plain bad.

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