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KELLER’S WWE RAW REPORT
MAY 31, 2021
LIVE FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH FLORIDA – “THUNDERDOME”
AIRED ON USA NETWORK
Commentators: Jimmy Smith, Byron Saxton, Corey Graves
Ring Announcer: Mike Rome
-They opened with a three minute video tribute to the troops, as it’s Memorial Day in the United States.
-Graves introduced the show as the camera panned the monitors of ThunderDome. He introduced Jimmy Smith, noting fans might have seen him on NXT and the world of MMA. Smith said he wants to honor the fans and the Superstars “and hopefully have some fun.” He hyped the Drew McIntyre vs. Kofi Kingston match with high stakes, the winner getting a WWE Title match against Bobby Lashley at Hell in a Cell. Then they shifted to hyping A.J. Styles & Omos vs. Elias & Jaxson Ryker. Graves hyped it’d be “a main event every night of the year.” Then they went to a clip of Shayna Baszler shoving Reginald last week for costing her a win, then Saxton hyped the Shayna vs. Reginald match.
-Miz TV: Miz and John Morrison sat mid-ring together. (Miz lives! He’s been reassembled after the zombies tore him apart.) He welcomed himself back. Miz teared up as he said in the match with Damian Priest, he got injured for the first time in his career. He stopped in his tracks and asked what that smell is. Morrison said it’s garlic. He had a necklace of garlic cloves to prepare himself for “aliens, vampires, or plumbers” – whatever comes their way. He said he also brought his Drip Stick. He pulled out a foam toy water squirter with “Drip Stick” written on it.
Miz said he had an epiphany that he had to get back on Raw. He said they’re going back on the road and fans would want to see the most Must-See – “and Moist-See,” Morrison added – talent in WWE. He said he will continue to bring WWE’s top stars to the fans. He introduced Charlotte. Morrison opened the ropes for Charlotte. “What a weird human being,” said Saxton. Graves said he prefers “eccentric” or “eclectic.” Miz said it was lovely to see her. Charlotte asked, “What is that smell?” Morrison said it’s to protect them from “mummies, flight attendants, whatever.”
Charlotte talked about Ripley’s “fairy tale victory over Asuka at WrestleMania.” She said she’s sending Ripley to hell in three weeks. Ripley’s music played and she marched out. Her main bio fact on the screen said: “Just 24 years old.” Ripley told Charlotte she’s not sending her to hell, but she can go to hell. Miz begged them to lower the temperature and chit-chat. Miz said he wanted to deep dive into Ripley, why she’s so mysterious, and find out the symbolism of her tattoos. Morrison asked for her favorite garlic bread recipe. He said he wants to be sure she’s not a vampire. Ripley said that’s the dumbest thing she’s ever heard. She said she’s not a vampire, she’s the Women’s Champion. She said she’ll remain champion after beating Charlotte at HIAC.
Charlotte said Ripley couldn’t even beat Nikki Cross. Miz said that is true, and threw to a video package of Ripley failing to pay attention to the two minute countdown clock. Charlotte asked Ripley if she can’t beat Nikki, what makes her think she can beat Charlotte. Nikki then marched out to her music. She said she’s a big fan of Miz TV and couldn’t wait any longer. She said she beat the Raw Women’s Champion last week, so she challenged the winner of their HIAC match. Ripley said if there were four minutes on the clock, she’s have beat her. She told Nikki she did earn her respect, though.
Nikki said she could beat Charlotte in two minutes, and if she did, would she agree she should face the winner of the HIAC match. Charlotte stood up and said angrily that it was all ridiculous because she could beat her in one minute. Nikki slapped Charlotte. Charlotte called her a “little troll” and said she’s on. [c]
-The announcers hyped WWE’s announced dates for late July for Raw and Smackdown events with fans in attendance.
(1) NIKKI CROSS vs. CHARLOTTE – Beat the Clock Challenge
Charlotte got two minutes even though she said she could beat her in one minute. Ripley sat at ringside and kept taunting Charlotte by pointing at her watch on her wrist. Nikki kept avoiding entering the ring when Charlotte didn’t let her enter clean. She chased Nikki to ringside where Ripley stood and blocked Charlotte’s path. Charlotte had a few words for Ripley before entering the ring with 40 seconds left. Charlotte clotheslined Nikki. Nikki gave Charlotte a tornado DDT out of the corner. Charlotte frantically went for a figure-four, but the time ran out first. Nikki celebrated on the ramp and taunted Charlotte. Ripley laughed at ringside. Charlotte yelled down to Ripley, “This is your fault!”
WINNER: Cross in 2:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: More of the same. Ripley seemed to be the babyface here compared to Charlotte. Few characters could get away with celebrating such a lame “victory” as merely lasting two minutes against an opponent other than Nikki.)
-They went to the announcers at ringside. Saxton said tensions were high there, but they’ve been high between Team RK-Bro and New Day, too. They transitioned to commenting on clips of those two teams in recent weeks having issues with each other.
-Backstage, Riddle told Priest he can’t wait to be back in front of fans. Riddle said he’s excited to scooter all the way to Texas. He asked Priest, “Can you teach me El Espanol aka Spanish.” He pronounced a/k/a “ah-kuh.” Priest asked if he meant “A-K-A.” Riddle asked him for a words in Spanish. He was surprised Randy translated the same in Spanish as English. Orton showed up and said he saw him use his finisher last week. Riddle apologized for not asking first. He said he hit it out of nowhere. Orton said he impressed him last week, but there are a few things he could work on. He said he will probably wish he didn’t say this, but he invited him to watch his match at ringside later. Riddle said, “Shucks!” and was so excited. Orton then told him to be silent after he started rambling. Riddle locked his lips shut and gave Orton the imaginary key. Orton then threw the key over his shoulder. Riddle scootered over to find it.
(Keller’s Analysis: The chemistry between Riddle and Orton is a pleasant surprise. And yes, I know, Orton being in a light-hearted angle after all he’s done and been through is ridiculous. Few people could believably “soften” him other than the earnest, unflappably doe-eyed innocent acting Riddle character.) [c]
(2) RANDY ORTON (w/Riddle) vs. XAVIER WOODS
Woods was playing his trombone. Smith said Orton might be the opposite of positivity. He said when Orton comes to the ring on a scooter, he’ll believe Team RK-Bro is complete. Graves said he has a better chance of falling off the face of the Earth than seeing that. Riddle practically worshiped Orton during his entrance routine. Orton went for an early RKO, but Xavier avoided it and armdragged Orton to the mat. Saxton talked about what it’d do to Xavier’s career if he were to beat Orton tonight. Orton dropped Xavier’s head over the top turnbuckle. When Xavier dropped to the floor, Orton slammed his head into the table and then slammed him onto it. Smith said, “Oh my gosh! We are getting hazard pay in this match!” [c]
Back from the break, Orton put Xavier in his obligatory mid-match chinlock. Graves plugged the Raw Tag Team Title match and told viewers if they’ve never seen Omos wrestle before, “prepare to have your mind blown.” (That’s just ridiculous overhype that Vince McMahon has his announcers engaging in.) Xavier caught Orton with an elbow and a sliding DDT for a two count. Orton lifted Xavier out of the corner and powerbombed him. (Jimmy Smith knew it was a powerbomb, so that’s a good sign. He hasn’t stood out much either way through the first 40 minutes of the show, as Graves and Saxton were doing the majority of the talking again.) Xavier applied a Fujiwara armbar. Orton reached the bottom rope to force a break. Orton gave Xavier a draping DDT, then pounded the mat. He sold the armbar from earlier. He went for an RKO, but Xavier countered with a backslide for a near fall. Xavier kneed Orton and then set up a Bro-Derick. He looked over at Riddle before hitting it. Riddle was thrilled.
WINNER: Orton in 9:00.
-Riddle dropped to his knees in front of Orton and looked up excitedly at him. He then rode his scooter around the ring. Smith said he can’t believe these two have “traded finishers.” Orton eased into joining Riddle in a pose mid-ring.
-They went to the announcers at ringside. Smith threw to a video recap of the Shayna Baszler-Reginald storyline.
-Baszler made her ring entrance. [c]
-Asuka spoke about her ring gear’s cultural significance to her as part of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month. She said it’s important everyone enjoy each other’s cultures. “We Belong Together,” said the USA Network tag line.
-MVP led five women into their suite backstage. Then Bobby Lashley arrived. The women fawned over him. Lashley smiled. Smith said whoever said it’s lonely at the top didn’t hang out with Lashley.
-Backstage Nia Jax asked Reginald if he was sure he didn’t want her at ringside. He promised her he’d be fine and he asked Jax to watch from the back. He kissed her hand.
(3) SHAYNA BASZLER vs. REGINALD
Saxton said they should just all say a prayer for Reginald right now. As Reginald walked out, Smith said, “I know I’m the new guy here, I get that 100 percent,” he said. He said Reginald is a wine expert and he can dance, but how does that prepare him to take on a submission specialist like Baszler. Graves said it’s like being good at Madden and thinking you can play in the NFL. (It’s not at all like that, but whatever.) Reginald tried to make nice. He backflipped away from Baszler’s early attacks. She checked him to the mat. He rolled up Baszler for a two count. A few seconds later Reginald bodyslammed Baszler, and then he apologized. The announcers were shocked. They cut to Jax watching on the monitor and her jaw was dropped.
Baszler began to work over his leg. Smith said she was destroying the mobility of Reginald. Graves said it didn’t have to be this way because Reginald just had to keep out of her business, but he disobeyed her. She applied an anklelock, but Reginald powered out and sent Baszler into the corner turnbuckles. Reginald then landed a spinning crossbody onto Baszler. It was a bit of a clunky landing. Reginald leaped off the top rope with a moonsault, but Baszler moved. His leg gave out when he tried to stand. Baszler then put him in a Kirafuda Clutch. The pyro blasted out of the nearby corner ringpost. Reginald then rolled up a distracted Baszler for the win.
WINNER: Reginald in 4:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: They’ve mastered the non-violent man vs. woman match. I’m not sure what this entire storyline is accomplishing for anyone, and I doubt there’s a slice of the audience that’s all that excited about this.)
-Reginald ran to the back where Jax squeaked with elation and hugged him in celebration as Baszler stood in the ring trying to figure out what happened.
-Backstage, Drew McIntyre talked about facing Kofi Kingston later. He said he respects him so much and he’d do anything for his family and friends. He said he’s a former World Champion. He said it took Kofi two decades to reach the top, but he’s not one to judge. Drew said Kofi sacrificed for his kids, while he has put off having kids in order to dedicate himself to the industry. He said some day he’ll have a little kid and teach him all about WWE history. He told Kofi through the hard camera that he respects him, but he’ll run right through him and then regain his title. He said he is more than ready.
-The announcers hyped Drew vs. Kofi and said if Lashley and MVP interfere, they’ll be suspended for 90 days without pay.
-Mace and T-Bar made their entrance. [c]
-A commercial aired for the Johnny Gargano vs. Pete Dunne vs. Kyle O’Reilly no. 1 contendership match. Graves hyped it up.
-A soundbite aired with Mace & T-Bar. They seethed with intensity and talked about zebras meeting tigers.
(Keller’s Analysis: I’m pretty sure they’re reenacting promos done by The Ascension a few years ago.)
(4) MACE & T-BAR vs. LUCHA HOUSE PARTY (Lince Dorado & Gran Metalik)
As Mace and T-Bar dominated, the screen graphic hyped the Raw Tag Team Title match later. It seems they’re setting up Mace & T-Bar as heels to face Styles & Omos as babyfaces. Smith asked if they’re scarier without their masks.
WINNERS: Mace & T-Bar in 3:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Basically a squash. Metalik and Dorado were good fodder for them, but it’s a shame they couldn’t just bring in actual jobbers for that rather than re-define down LHP like that.)
-Alexa Bliss giggled and said she saw what happened earlier between Reginald and Baszler. She invited Reginald to join them and “be there or be square.”
-Sheamus made his ring entrance. The announcers said he had a statement to make. [c]
-Sheamus said he is excited to go back to traveling. He offered Ricochet and Humberto Carrillo participation trophies, because they’re not going to get any closer to winning his U.S. Title belt. They showed clips of what Humberto and Ricochet did to Sheamus last week. Sheamus looked displeased with the clip, but then asked the audience if they look like championship material. He said his open challenge was designed to find a contender worthy of him. He said Humberto and Ricochet aren’t worthy of lacing his boots. He said he won’t face them two-on-one, but he’ll face them back-to-back one-on-one because that’s the type of champion he is. He said he’ll send them back to where they belong – catering and obscurity. He asked which of those “bleeding Muppets” will step out first to get an ass-kickin’.
(5) SHEAMUS vs. RICOCHET
Sheamus beat up Ricochet from the start. He overhead-tossed him into the barricade at ringside. He climbed to the top rope, then landed a flying clothesline. Humberto came out to his music and DISTRACTED Sheamus, so Ricochet rolled him up for the win. Sheamus stood up in a rage.
WINNER: Ricochet in 2:00. [c]
(6) SHEAMUS vs. HUMBERTO CARRILLO
Back from the break, Sheamus was stomping on Humberto in the corner. Sheamus yelled down at Ricochet who was taunting Sheamus a bit. Sheamus continued to beat on Humberto and yelled, “I can’t believe I get paid to do this.” Ricochet continued to pelt Sheamus with some words from ringside. Humberto landed a spinning wheel kick and a dropkick. Sheamus came up bleeding, seemingly from a stiff shot to the face before the kicks. Sheamus was groggy with blood dripping from his nose. Sheamus then nailed Humberto with a hard forearm to send him to the floor. (That looked pretty stiff.) Ricochet went to check on him, but Sheamus – with blood splattered over his chest – stomped his head. They replayed the Humberto elbow to the bridge of Sheamus’s nose that cased the bleeding. “You could literally see Sheamus’s nose collapse in front of us,” Graves said. Sheamus bent over and yelled at Ricochet. Humbert dove through the ropes and hit Sheamus with a flying forearms. He leaped off the top rope, but Sheamus caught him and slammed him. Sheamus smiled and waited for Humberto to stand. He grabbed Ricochet and tried to drag him by his arm into the ring. Humberto then springboard-kicked Sheamus in the head and rolled him up for the win. Graves said Sheamus suffered a broken nose, but the damage to his ego might be worse.
WINNER: Humberto in 5:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: The quite the visual of Sheamus eating a stiff elbow to the nose that caused him to bleed heavily from his nose the rest of the match. Booking Sheamus to lose twice in a row to distraction finishes is so 2021 of WWE.)
-Another Eva Marie vignette aired. She talked about learning during her time away that when life knocks you down, it takes courage to keep getting back up. She said you have to fight to get back into WWE, and she’s back. They showed footage of her training. She said she’s back to finish what she started. She said she won’t just speak for herself, but also to be a voice for the Superstars of WWE. “This is Eva-lution,” she said.
(Keller’s Analysis: I genuinely don’t know if this is an ill-fated babyface push or an obvious build up for her to return as an hypocritical egotistical heel.)
-Naomi and Lana made their ring entrance. [c]
-An NXT TV commercial aired with endorsement from a few people on social media touting the show.
-A video package aired hyping the Drew vs. Kofi high-stakes main event.
(7) NAOMI & LANA vs. MANDY ROSE & DANA BROOKE
Natalya & Tamina joined the announcers on commentary. Tamina said it doesn’t matter who challenges them, they “aren’t letting these babies go,” referring to the tag belts. Brooke leaped off the top rope and slammed Lana off of Rose’s shoulders to score the clean win.
WINNERS: Rose & Brooke in 4:00.
-They replayed Cedric yelling at Shelton Benjamin last week about being in his prime. Graves took another dig this week, saying “it felt like a 20 minute diatribe.” They showed Cedric pinning Shelton.
-Shelton made his ring entrance. Smith said Shelton is trying to “overcome his ghosts of the past.” [c]
-They showed a clip of Bad Bunny talking about being a pro wrestling fan growing up on HBO Sports “Uninterrupted” telling LeBron James it was the greatest moment of his life at WrestleMania.
(8) SHELTON BENJAMIN vs. CEDRIC ALEXANDER
Shelton kicked Cedric in the face at the bell. Cedric thumbed Shelton in the eye. He was blinded. Cedric kicked him and scored the pin. Cedric yelled in celebration on the ramp.
WINNER: Cedric in 20 seconds.
-Backstage, Elias talked to Ryker about facing Styles & Omos for the Raw Tag Team Titles. Elias said he was almost electrocuted. He said they have a great chance to win tonight, but he’s never seen anyone as big as Omos. Ryker was in a trance-like state. Elias asked if he was hearing him and asked if he has his back. “Have you ever been in battle?” he asked. Ryker snapped out of it and asked Elias if he had ever been in battle “because I served in Iraq.”
-Styles and Omos made their ring entrance. [c]
-Graves thanked Ozzy Osbourne for “Straight to Hell,” the official theme of Hell in a Cell.
-Backstage, Kevin Patrick knocked on the locker room door of New Day. Kofi stepped out and he was all perky. He said he heard what Drew said, and he thinks that Drew was implying his family was a detriment to his success. He said his success is because of his family. He said he is motivate by them. He said those were cheapshots. He said he respects Drew for all the sacrifices he made to make it in the industry. He said he heard Drew say he slayed the Beast while Kofi wasn’t able to. He said he’s going to use that same logic, because on Raw two weeks ago, he did something Drew wasn’t able to do. He said he hasn’t been able to beat Lashley, but regardless of how it happened, he pinned the WWE Champion on his first try. He said he’s going to leave it all in the ring later and, when all is said and done, he’ll beat Drew and then go to HIAC and become a new two-time World Hvt. Champion.
-Saxton said determination has been the defining trait of Kofi career in WWE. He said he’s had to scratch and claw to get to the top. Video aired of him winning the WWE Title at WrestleMania in 2019. Smith said they’ll find out tonight if he’ll get one step closer to doing it again. Graves said while it took Kofi 20 years to become WWE Champion, it took Drew 16 years.
(9) A.J. STYLES & OMOS vs. ELIAS & JAXSON RYKER – Raw Tag Team Title match
Ryker and Elias made their entrance. Graves asked about the 1,000 yard stare and catatonic state that Ryker appeared to be in. They did formal ring introductions. Smith said if there’s a weakness with Styles and Omos, it’s lacking reps. Elias and Ryker attacked Styles at the bell. Styles kicked out at one. Ryker blind-tagged himself in. Elias didn’t seem thrilled. Styles yanked Elias off the ring apron, then forearmed Ryker and landed a slidekick, sending Ryker into Elias who landed on the announce desk. They cut to a break at 2:00. [c]
Ryker had Styles in a chinlock on the mat after the break. They replayed a couple double axe handle blows to Styles’s chest and head during the break. When Styles made a comeback, Ryker leaped to tag Elias. Elias yanked his hand away. Omos tagged in. Ryker yelled down at Elias to explain why he did that. Then he turned around. Omos put a claw on Ryker’s head and then tossed him hard into the corner. He threw an elbow into the corner, Kevin Nash-style. He whipped him hard into the corner and then charged with another elbow. Graves touted his speed. Omos yelled down at Ryker, who was face-down on the mat. He lifted Ryker and short-armed clotheslined him to the mat. Omos tagged Styles back in. Styles landed the Phenomenal Forearm for the win. They showed Elias nodding on the stage, as if to indicate he thought Ryker was a loser.
WINNER: Styles & Omos in 9:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Who’s looking forward to the upcoming Elias vs. Ryker matches?)
-They cut to Reginald backstage limping. Jax approached him and said he has proven he can handle himself, but is he sure he wants to accept the invite from Alexa. Jax said, “She’s kinda weird.” Reginald asked, “What could possibly go wrong?” Jax said she’s got champagne on ice waiting for them, so be careful. [c]
-Elias told Patrick that Ryker has become unhinged. He said he wanted to walk with him, and he wanted to mold him into something special, but lately he’s been looking out for himself. He asked where he was when he needed help. He said Ryker is a veteran whom he respects, but he’s unpredictable. He said they’re close to getting back on the road with live shows, but it makes him sick to think of traveling alongside him. He said he doesn’t want to be around him anymore.
-Bliss introduced Reginald, who sat on her swing. She told him to make himself comfy, because we don’t bite. “Well, I don’t, at least,” she added with a chuckle. Reginald said he feels great other than what Baszler did to his leg. Bliss interrupted and said Lilly has a question for him. Bliss said Lilly wants to know about his time as Cirque du Soleil. Baszler attacked him. She sat on the swing. Bliss said, “You weren’t really invited to play on the playground.” She said Lilly doesn’t really like her. Baszler told Bliss she’s becoming a problem. She said before this gets out of hand, they need to have a chat. She said she’d see her next week. Dramatic horror music played. Baszler kneeled and told Lilly, “You’re just a stupid doll.” Bliss didn’t seem to like that at all.
-The Viking Raiders gave Mansoor advice on being well-rested and well-fed when they get back on the road. They suggested he have a war cry. Ivar yelled “Raid!” Mansoor yelled “Raid!” back. They told him to have fun and welcomed him to Raw. Mansoor turned and there was Mustafa Ali. Ali warned him to be careful because people will stab him in the back. Mansoor asked, “So why should I trust you?” Ali smiled and said, “Now you’re getting it.”
-They showed a split-screen of Drew and Kofi warming up for their match. Well, Kofi was stretching and Drew was just leaning there. [c]
-Backstage, Lashley, MVP, and the women were dancing. Patrick interrupted and asked if they had a preference for who wins between Kofi and Drew. MVP said they’re eager to see who the loser will be at HIAC. MVP said he respects both of them and their stories, but not as competition. Lashley said he beat Drew at WrestleMania, and without Drew’s help, Kofi would have never defeated him. MVP said they’d love to be ringside, but Adam Pearce banned them. He said he thought it was a little harsh, but the suite isn’t bad, either. Lashley said neither of them can end The All Mighty Era. MVP told Patrick to “beat it.” They went back to dancing.
(9) KOFI KINGSTON vs. DREW MCINTYRE
Xavier accompanied Kofi onto the stage before returning to the back as Kofi made his way to the ring. Drew took it to Kofi early. Kofi rolled up Drew a minute in for a one count. He scored another one count. Drew headbutted him. Drew sent Kofi over the top rope, but Kofi dragged Drew to the floor with him. Drew took the worst of the fall. Kofi then leaped backwards onto Drew at ringside. They cut to a break. [c]
They showed Lashley and MVP watching the match on a huge TV backstage. When Kofi flew at Drew at ringside again, Drew caught him and overhead tossed him into the time keepers area. Smith declared, “This match keeps getting better!” [c]
Smith said both Superstars were giving it everything they had in this match. Drew gave Kofi a tilt-a-whirl into a backbreaker, and then put Kofi in a surfboard. Kofi fought back and sunset flipped Drew off the top rope. He crawled over and got a two count. Graves said this could come down to which wrestler makes the first mistake. Drew spin Kofi around several revolutions before landing a Future Shock DDT. Graves called it awe-inspiring power and agility. Smith said, “I hurt looking at that move.” Drew lifted Kofi onto his shoulders, but Kofi fought free. Drew then slammed Kofi with a spinebuster and scored a near fall. Drew showed some frustration. Saxton said Drew is questioning what more he’ll need to do. Kofi caught Drew with a superkick for a two count.
They battled on the top rope, with Kofi blocking Drew’s superolex attempt. Drew fell back, but then sat up and yanked Kofi off the top rope. Drew waited in the corner for Kofi to stand, then charged with a Claymore, but Kofi caught him with a Trouble in Paradise. Drew grabbed the bottom rope to stop the count. Kofi took Drew over with a head scissors off the top rope. He followed with a kick off the ring apron to Drew’s chest at ringside. He then hit Drew with a double-stomp and then rolled him into the ring. Kofi leaped off the top rope, but Drew caught him with a Claymore mid-air and made the cover for the three count. Kofi offered Drew a handshake afterward.
WINNER: Drew in 20:00 to earn a match against Lashley at HIAC.
-Lashley walked onto the stage holding up his WWE Title belt as the show ended.
(Keller’s Analysis: Really good match, as you’d expect with these two. The outcome never seemed in doubt, but they went through the motions in credible fashion doing what could be done to build up Kofi’s chances.)
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