6/7 WWE MONDAY NIGHT RAW REPORT: Hazelwood’s alt-perspective on Lashley-McIntyre contract signing, #1 contender tag team battle royal, Baszler on “Alexa’s Playground,” more

BY BRUCE LEE HAZELWOOD, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR


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

WWE MONDAY NIGHT RAW TV REPORT
JUNE 7, 2021
TAMPA, FLA. AT YUENGLING CENTER (THE “THUNDERDOME”)
AIRED ON USA NETWORK
REPORT BY BRUCE LEE HAZELWOOD (@B_Lee253), PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR

Commentators: Jimmy Smith, Byron Saxton, Corey Graves

Ring Announcer: Mike Rome

Backstage Correspondent(s): Sarah Schreiber 

Tonight after the show, join PWTorch assistant editor Zack Heydorn and guest co-host Robert Vallejos from 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
•CALL: (347) 215-8558

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•IF YOU DON’T LISTEN LIVE, SEARCH “WADE KELLER” ON YOUR PODCAST APP TO SUBSCRIBE AND THEN DOWNLOAD OR STREAM THE FULL SHOW AN HOUR OR SO AFTER RAW


[HOUR ONE]

-They began with Randy Orton’s music as Jimmy Smith welcomed fans. Orton & Riddle as the other teams for the #1 contender’s match were already in the ring. A.J. Styles & Omos entered, and Styles thanked them for being there for his special state of the division address. He said the WWE will be back on the road next month and they feel obligated to the “WWE Universe” to defend the Tag Team Championship against the best there is to offer. He said those in the ring are who they want.

He pointed out the 11-time champion The New Day, calling them legendary and national treasures. He said they could have the same match they had at WrestleMania, which they won. He then pointed out Mace & T-Bar and said honestly, they don’t know a lot about them, at all, but he knows they’re big, mean, and like to fight. He said he wouldn’t mention his own big colossus who’s bigger and meaner than any of them. He then pointed out Lince Dorado, by himself, because Gran Metalik is hurt. Styles said that’s not smart, but brave, and praised him for his skills though he said he was probably Dorado’s favorite superstar.

He pointed out Viking Raiders, saying it was all about getting paid and they could do it with them all over the world. He then moved to RK-Bro, calling him 14-time heavyweight champion, tag team champion, Legend Killer, then turned to Riddle and called him a rising star where the sky’s the limit. He said the team is ridiculous and makes no sense to anybody, but praised their chemistry, calling them goofballs yet that it works.

He then referred to themselves, then Omos said they were marvelous, stupendous, handsome, and last but not least, phenomenal. Kingston said deplorable, detestable, and what they used to say between 2016-2018, booty. Kinston asked to see the papers that they’re officially a tag team, but Styles said they don’t need papers because they’re the champ. Orton told Styles to shut his damn mouth, and Riddle said all he has to do is take the key, zip it, lock it, and throw it away. He said it’s done wonders for their tag team. He said he’s wearing two of their new shirts because Orton doesn’t wear shirts or pants.

He gave the story behind the snake on the scooter before Orton put his hand on the mic, lowered it, gave Riddle the shh sign, and had Riddle zip up his mouth and give Orton the key. Orton put the key in his boot. The Miz’s music hit as he was rolled out in a wheelchair by John Morrison. The Miz said sorry to interrupt, but Morrison said he had nothing to apologize for as he’s the most courageous superstar for coming out in his condition. The Miz said he was tragically injured, then said the tag team division is dry. Morrison transitioned to spraying his drip stick to moisten things up. The Miz then said Morrison volunteered to be in the match on behalf of their team. Morrison went to pose, but The Miz started rolling down the ramp in slowmo. Morrison saved him, but everyone laughed. Orton & Riddle hit RKOs to The New Day, then Orton hit one on Dorado as they cut to break. [c]

(1) RK-BRO (Randy Orton & Riddle) vs. THE NEW DAY (Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods) vs. MACE & T-BAR vs. VIKING RAIDERS (Erik & Ivar) vs. LINCE DORADO vs. JOHN MORRISON – Tag team turmoil #1 contender’s match

They returned with a shot of Bobby Lashley & M.V.P. in the back with another group of women as Corey Graves hyped the upcoming WWE Championship match contract signing. They began with everyone going at it except Morrison, who just looked on from a corner. This match is going to be hell to cover. Morrison launched Dorado over the top, but Dorado held on, came back in, then reversed a powerbomb into a rana that put Morrison on the apron. Dorado kicked him, but Morrison held onto the ropes with his feet. The Miz passed him the dripstick, which Morrison used to spray Dorado, then eliminated him.

He turned around to Mace & T-Bar, asked for the drip stick, but was eliminated anyway. They then took out Erik with a double team move. Riddle tried applying a standing kimura to T-Bar, but T-Bar flung him off. They gave a double boot to Orton, then gave synchronous chokeslams to The New Day.

They turned to Orton, went for a double chokeslam, then turned to eliminate him. Riddle came and saved Orton, but suffered a double sitting chokeslam from his opposition. Mace & T-Bar then faced off with Viking Raiders, yelling at each other, before The New Day jumped in and they double teamed Mace & T-Bar. T-Bar & Mace were both eliminated as they cut to break. [c]

They returned with the remaining six men paired off with each other, Orton with Kingston, Riddle with Erik, and Woods with Ivar, but Woods turned to Riddle. They traded some reversals before Woods hit a discus lariat. He avoided a double clothesline from Viking Raiders, but not the double shoulder tackle. Riddle then gave each member a series of chest kicks, but got caught with a double team wheelbarrow-springboard lariat combo. Riddle was then eliminated.

The New Day went to work on Viking Raiders, but as they turned to do a double team, Erik sent Woods over the top to eliminate him. They hit Kingston into the corner, then Erik carried Ivar into a hip attack to Kingston. Orton then came and sent Ivar into the post and hit a powerslam on Erik. Ivar cartwheeled around Orton for no reason, then they double teamed Orton. They went for a bodyslam onto Orton, but Kingston jumped from the top and hit a double stomp onto Ivar, causing him to land on his partner. Kingston went for Trouble in Paradise on Orton, but Riddle reentered to take the move. Orton eliminated Kinston, but Viking Raiders eliminated Orton to win.

WINNER: Viking Raiders at 10:30 to become #1 contender’s

-After the match, Styles, who was on commentary, said this is what they wanted. He said they’re here to entertain, and to trust him. They showed replays after the match, including the ending sequence with Riddle’s reentrance. Viking Raiders yelled at Styles & Omos from ringside…a lot. It was comical.

-Smith then shifted to recapping the Rhea Ripley-Charlotte Flair-Nikki Cross “Beat the Clock” saga over the past two weeks, which saw Cross survive both. They showed Sonya Deville speaking with Adam Pearce as Flair appeared. Flair said she was publicly pressured into a match and wanted her match stricken from the record. Pearce & Deville said it was a match she agreed to, so they can’t change that. Flair said they’re just jealous of her and demanded a rematch.

Ripley then approached, saying she enjoyed seeing Flair getting flustered. Ripley said she’s the one who deserves a rematch because she actually respects Cross. Deville said they should team against Cross and a partner of her choosing. Flair said unlike her partner, she can be professional about this. They cut to break. [c]

(Hazelwood’s Take: One-third of the opening 30 minutes went to wrestling. The rest went to talking, and a lot of talking at that. It’s been a drag, really, because it feels like at least a few minutes of the opening segment could have been cut. Ripley flubbed a line, but recovered nicely. Let’s see the dynamic between them in their tag match later.)

-They returned with a recorded promo by Ted DiBiase hyping tomorrow night’s NXT as DiBiase said he’s making a priceless announcement (Million Dollar Championship).

-They showed a replay of the ending of the first match again, then showed Viking Raiders celebrating in the back. Yelling “RAID” and slapping each other in the chest. Ivar said he was so hungry, then said turkey legs were on him. Styles & Omos approached with Omos holding a turkey leg, then took a bite. Styles said to them, Viking Raiders are wannabe Vikings because they use electricity and mirrors. Erik said it’s about honoring their ancestors. Omos took another bite as they walked away.

-Smith, Graves, & Byron Saxton then shifted to “Alexa’s Playground.” They replayed older bits spliced together. She said once upon a time, there was a little girl who was lost that was rescued by the darkness. It protected and nurtured her. Along the way, she said she unlocked something truly evil, and shifted to her introducing Lily. She said their fun is just getting started as they showed the Reginald encounters. They then hyped Shayna Baszler being on with Alexa Bliss later.

-Elias was in the ring as Mike Rome introduced him. Elias, sans Jaxson Ryker after last week, said there will be no other introduction tonight. He said, to Ryker, he could have been walking out here as Tag Team Champion, but they’re not and blamed Ryker. He said if Ryker only listened, they would have won, but Ryker had become completely unhinged. He said he had to get away, then showed a replay of him abandoning Ryker during their match last week and Ryker’s subsequent loss.

Elias then said he had no choice, clearly. He said the first time he saw Ryker, he didn’t just see potential with massive arms and charisma through the roof, but he saw his eyes and those were the eyes of someone who went to battle, but a man who wouldn’t go to battle for him. He said while he abandoned Ryker, that doesn’t change the fact that WWE stands for Walk With Elias.

All the sudden, Ryker appeared from behind and attacked. He has a military-style buzz cut now. He tossed the guitar out of the ring, then went back to attacking Elias. They’re really going with the Ryker face run? Referees entered to separate the two as they cut to break. [c]

(2) ELIAS vs. JAXSON RYKER

They returned with a Elias selling his injuries in the corner. The match started with Ryker immediately going after Elias, then hitting a corner avalanche. He hit a running back elbow to Elias, then clotheslined Elias over the top to the outside by the announce table. Elias tried fighting back, but Ryker blocked every shot until he took a body shot and had his head thrust into the steps.

They reentered the ring with Elias gaining the advantage. He hit a running back elbow himself, but Ryker then hit a headbutt to the gut. He ran off the ropes, but Elias hit a spinebuster into a matchbook cover for a two-count. Elias hit a few punches to the head as they hyped a Ricochet vs. Humberto Carrillo #1 contender’s match for the United States Championship later.

Elias hit an inverted atomic drop, but then Ryker fought out of a fireman’s carry by grabbing the beard and hitting a big one-armed spinebuster. He yelled as Elias left the ring and retreated for the countout loss.

WINNER: Jaxson Ryker at 3:00 by countout

-Smith then shifted to a video recap of last week’s Drew McIntyre vs. Kingston match. McIntyre’s music hit as he made his entrance for the contract signing segment. McIntyre entered with Smith saying only McIntyre enters a contract signing looking like he’s going to war. Graves said McIntyre has one more chance to become WWE Champion, so it seems to signal that if he loses, he’s done. They cut to break. [c]

(Hazelwood’s Take: A lot to cover. First, Viking Raiders winning does nothing for me. I did feel it was too early for RK-Bro to get a shot since they would most likely win, but then again, it’s not a top-tier PPV, so Viking Raiders make sense if they need a team to lose. Look, Ryker is NEVER going to be a babyface to a lot of fans no matter what WWE does and tells us, and having him cheat by grabbing the beard to gain the advantage is not a good first step.)

WWE CHAMPIONSHIP CONTRACT SIGNING

They returned with McIntyre’s music still playing as Smith hyped Hell in a Cell. Pearce & Deville were in the ring with McIntyre, who was seated. Deville then introduced Lashley. The ring had a red carpet and table draped in black, as expected. Lashley’s music hit, but he didn’t enter as McIntyre looked on. The music stopped. McIntyre said they’re not waiting. He said Lashley would walk out here with his “external charisma,” and have M.V.P. talk about getting aboard the “Lashley train.”  He said they would complain about McIntyre getting shot after shot.

McIntyre told a story of Robert the Bruce in Scotland, a historical figure. He spent three months in a cave. He saw a spider on the roof one day who couldn’t get the web to stick. It kept trying over and over again and Bruce sympathized with it even though he didn’t think it was possible. The spider succeeded, so Bruce reassembled his army, outnumbered by a lot, and won Scotland’s freedom. He said the famous quote from Bruce was if at first you don’t succeed, well, he wanted to modernize it and said if at first you don’t succeed,  beat Lashley and become the WWE Champion.

M.V.P. then interrupted from the Tron and then said Lashley was just fashionably late. His music hit as Lashley, M.V.P., and his group of “external charisma.” They took their time making their way to the ring, nicely done.

[HOUR TWO]

Lashley stared at McIntyre, who rose from his seat, before they both sat. M.V.P. said congratulations for manipulating himself into facing Lashley again. M.V.P. then asked if it was OK for them to be outside and wouldn’t be threatened with a 90-day no-pay suspension, right? Pearce & Deville nodded. M.V.P. said they held their end of the bargain, so they demanded something.

Lashley took the mic and said after he wins, McIntyre will never challenge him again. M.V.P. said Lashley plans on being WWE Champion for a long time, and they’re excited to bring the WWE Championship on the road to the “All Mighty Universe.”

McIntyre quickly accepted, but said he needed something from Lashley. He demanded no outside interference, a match where no one could lose on his behalf, and said he wanted it inside the Cell. M.V.P. leaned over and whispered to Lashley, then accepted the terms. Pearce restated the terms for clarification, edited the document, and M.V.P. demanded it be notarized.

Lashley took the contract after McIntyre signed it and said that story he told was cute, but didn’t tell the whole story. He said if at first you don’t succeed, you can’t beat the All Mighty and McIntyre will tuck his tail between his kilt in shame; that’s how the story will end. He signed the contract, making it official. McIntyre said he had some last words, some advice, saying he’s been inside the Cell and Lashley hasn’t.

He said he was told he wouldn’t be the same after, and he hasn’t, discussing the 15-foot fall he took the last time he was in the Cell. He said he will tear the flesh from Lashley’s skin with the cell and use every weapon under the ring. He said pray to whoever, but he’ll only receive mercy with a Claymore. He said see you in hell, and Lashley said he’ll see him there also. Suddenly, McIntyre took his sword and chopped the table in half. The women screamed as the two glared at each other. Lashley had shades on the entire time.

-They shifted to the back with Sarah Schreiber as she welcomed Cross. She asked Cross about the past few weeks. Cross said this is something that’s been inside of her the whole time, and it’s not about being the strongest or prettiest, but about her tenacity that makes her a winner. She said the only thing she would regret is not taking the chances, so her only choice is to try. Schreiber asked about the partner, and Cross said it’s someone she’s admired for so long, then compared them to a superheroine. She introduced Asuka, of course, then they both did Asuka’s catchphrase and danced.

-Sheamus’ music hit as he entered wearing a facemask like Rip Hamilton after suffering a broken nose last week. They went to break hyping the Ricochet-Carrillo match. [c]

(Hazelwood’s Take: I’m just glad they didn’t have anyone go through the table and found a different way for the table to be destroyed. Keeping these two from physically interacting until the PPV is the best route they could take at this juncture. Asuka was the obvious choice as no one else has any issues with Ripley and Flair.)

-They returned with a video of headlines about their return to touring with tickets available Friday. Sheamus was sitting ringside, looking angry to be there (as I would be with a broke nose). Ricochet entered first as they replayed the events of last week that resulted in Sheamus losing to both men off of distractions and rollups while also suffering a broken nose. Carrillo entered next. Why do I feel like Sheamus is going to cause a DQ and have a triple threat match?

Sheamus took a mic and said this is an injustice that they get a chance after breaking his bloody face. He said if he wasn’t under strict doctor’s orders, but Carrillo feigned leaping at him, followed by Ricochet. They reveled in scaring Sheamus, who yelled at both of them. Ricochet used the distraction to attack Carrillo off of the apron, then hit a dropkick through the second rope. He stared at Sheamus as they cut to break. [c]

(3) RICOCHET vs. HUMBERTO CARRILLO – #1 contender’s match for the United States Championship

They returned with the match in progress, so match time is just from this point. Ricochet was in control in the corner. He whipped Carrillo across, hit a clothesline, a bodyslam, then leaping elbow to the chest. Sheamus was on commentary and said they ruined his face and he was the most handsome man in the whole company. Ricochet hit some body shots, Carrillo reversed out of a suplex, then hit a springboard crossbody for a two-count.

He took control, then hit a rollup powerbomb for a two-count. He whipped Ricochet into a corner, then stomped away. He rushed, but Ricochet sent him over the top. Carrillo landed on his feet, struck his foe, attempted a suplex over the ropes, but Ricochet blocked. Carrillo then landed in the ring, hit a cyclone kick, then hit a second rope tope to Ricochet clean on the outside with his head.

He tossed Ricochet back in, then climbed to the top rope to hit a missile dropkick. He hooked the leg for a two-count. Carrillo bodyslammed Ricochet, then climbed for a moonsault. He landed on his feet, but then suffered a huge lariat form Ricochet, who then hit a deadlift German into a bridge for a two-count.

On the apron, Carrillo blocked a suplex, then both men traded strikes to the chest and face. Ricochet hit a gut kick, but then got hit with a Spanish Fly to the floor as he rushed Carrillo. The ref quickly checked on them before starting his count. Neither man could make the count. Sheamus just laughed and called it shameful. He left the ring and walked away, looking smug, as the other men recovered.

WINNER: Draw by double countout at 5:13 televised

-They showed The New Day in the back as they were about to enter their locker room. M.V.P. approached and asked for a word. Kingston said Lashley let him off of the leash, huh? M.V.P. said he was impressed with his matches last week and tonight, but he still came up short. M.V.P. said while he is currently with Lashley, he was always a Kingston fan. He discussed his actual tears watching Kingston win the WWE Championship, then about seeing him celebrate with his son. M.V.P. said it was seeing Kingston with his son that made him want to come back because WWE finally had a champion he could be proud of.

He then said the reason why Kingston isn’t champion again is because he isn’t Lashley. He said he shook McIntyre’s hand, indicating to M.V.P. that he’s OK with losing. He said KofiMania ended because Kingston let it end. M.V.P. said he knows Kingston likes being in the back shucking and jiving with his friends. Kingston reacted angrily, told him to watch his mouth, and said his friends and family give him the purpose to do this. He said he does this for the little kids watching at home that want to be him. He said does Lashley just do it for the money? M.V.P. said no, he does it for the prestige and all the accoutrements that come with it. He walked away and they cut to break. [c]

(Hazelwood’s Take: M.V.P. raised legitimate points many have raised, and the personal story and connection really sold it to me. Hell, I got a little emotional listening to M.V.P. discuss Kingston’s victory and celebration. This Kingston is the type of serious we need. Give me more.)

-They returned with an Eva Marie vignette. She said the story the past few weeks is just the beginning. She said it might look easy getting to the peak of success, but she had to work hard and it’s time to show her practice what she preaches. She said she plans to show us a side of her no one has ever seen before. She said she’s going to pull back the curtain and make hard work and resilience look effortless. Eva-lution is coming next week. Graves was excited, asking his co-hosts what they’re going to wear.

-They shifted to recapping the tag team turmoil match from earlier in the night. They then hyped a Kingston vs. Riddle match for later tonight.

-The showed Mansoor in the back as Mustafa Ali approached, asking if Mansoor was ready for his match. Ali said he might think he’s ready, but he’s not. Ali said what Mansoor is ready for is a fair fight against Drew Gulak, but he’s not prepared for when Gulak decides not to fight fair, to cut every corner he can to beat him using eye pokes and tight pulls. He told Mansoor he can’t assume everyone plays by the same rules he does.

Smith said he was very excited to call a Hardy match, his first. They showed a pre-recorded promo from Hardy saying the locker room used to have respect, but now has inflated egos like Cedric Alexander. He said he’s going to show Alexander that respect is earned. They cut to break. [c]

(Hazelwood’s Take: I’m very, very intrigued by this Ali-Mansoor story. Whatever it is, it’s working.)

(4) JEFF HARDY vs. CEDRIC ALEXANDER

They returned with some tweets about Triple H ringing the bell before my Sixers lost Game 1; he’s why we lost, I’m certain of it. Alexander made his entrance, looking cocky. They played a pre-recorded promo where he said out with the old, in with a new. He said Monday nights are in desperate need of fresh air, and said he rises to new heights tonight after beating a former champion in Hardy.

The bell rung as Hardy signaled for the non-existent crowd to clap. Hardy took Alexander and rammed his head into three top turnbuckles, then tossed him head-first into the fourth bottom one. He hit a second rope elbow to the back of Alexander’s neck, but then suffered a dropkick for a two-count. That seemed to have woken up Alexander as he stayed on Hardy.

He shoved Hardy’s face into the second turnbuckle and YELLED at him. Alexander then hit a few strikes and a snapmare, followed by a basement dropkick to the head for a two-count. He cinched in a rear chinlock, then brought Hardy to the mat when Hardy tried fighting back. He shoved his boot into Hardy’s face, then shoved Hardy’s neck into the second rope.

Hardy fought back, hit a mule kick, but was met with a running back elbow as he came off of the ropes for a two-count. Alexander started kicking Hardy, then locked in a modified rear naked choke while laying across Hardy’s back. Hardy fought to his feet, prevented being brought down by his hair, then hit a modified headscissors from the second rope. He then hit an atomic drop into a side Russian legsweep combo, then sat on Alexander’s legs in a match book cover pose for a two-count.

Hardy signaled for the Twist of Fate, blocked a headshot that Alexander turned into a basement dropkick, then kicked out at two after a brainbuster. Alexander climbed to the second rope, mocked Hardy’s pose, then landed right into a Twist of Fate. Hardy climbed, hit the Swanton, and won. Saxton said Alexander is his own worst enemy. Hardy danced and did his pose in Alexander’s face as the other recovered.

WINNER: Jeff Hardy at 5:58 (Swanton)

-They showed Ripley stretching in the back as Flair literally backed into the picture. She told Ripley to follow her lead, and told Ripley to handle Cross while Flair handles Asuka. Ripley said she’d be happy to follow Flair, in two weeks, in hell. She said she’s the champ, so Flair should follow her lead. Cross then entered first for the tag match. They cut to break. [c]

(Hazelwood’s Take: Why have Alexander go over Benjamin only to have him lose here to Hardy? It seems like they’re doing to “vet teaches the cocky upstart a lesson,” but wasn’t that JUST the angle they did with Benjamin except Alexander ended up winning the series?)

(5) RHEA RIPLEY (c) & CHARLOTTE FLAIR vs. NIKKI CROSS & ASUKA

They returned with Cross grinning while leaning against the ropes. Asuka entered next as they showed the trademark two minutes before the top of the hour. Ripley entered next, instead of Flair, which irks me as Ripley should always enter last as the Women’s Champion. Flair then entered, and the ref lowered the rope for her.

[HOUR THREE]

Flair and Cross began the match, with Flair immediately throwing Cross off from a lockup with her strength. She then told Ripley to match that and tagged her in. Cross was psyching herself up, but she got slammed harder to the mat by Ripley. Ripley turned to gloat, but was rolled up for a one-count. Cross then escaped and tagged in Asuka, then gave a “you can’t catch me” pose.

Asuka toyed with Ripley, danced a bit, then hit a shoulder tackle that didn’t budge Ripley. They shoved each other, the Ripley caught an Asuka kick and hit a headbutt. Asuka countered into an octopus, but Ripley powered out, stomped on Asuka, then hit a shoulder tackle where Flair blind-tagged in.

Flair hit a chop, but Asuka ducked the second, tagged in Cross, Cross hit a headscissors, then Asuka hit a dropkick. Cross escaped an exploder attempt and tagged in Asuka, but Flair grabbed a hold and allowed Ripley to tag in. Asuka rushed Flair, who moved, only for Asuka to hit a hip attack on Ripley. Flair went to go check on her partner, but Ripley shoved her aside. Flair then pulled her off of the apron and gave her a forearm shiver. They cut to break as Flair yelled for Ripley to get in the ring. [c]

They returned with Cross in control, holding onto a side headlock. Cross was sent to the apron, but used her wiliness to score a two-count, but was floored by a Ripley headbutt. Ripley began stomping on Cross in the corner as Flair looked on, bored (nice touch). Ripley had Cross in an electric char, but Flair tagged in. Ripley looked mad, then dropped Cross face-first. Flair tagged in again to Ripley’s chagrin. Flair made two pins for two-counts, then drove her knee into Cross’ back twice, did a back handspring for no reason, then booted her. She feigned a boot again, to which Cross looked to block, then Flair just sidestepped into a rear chinlock.

She brought Cross into their corner, then tagged in Ripley with a HARD chop. Ripley glared at Flair and entered the ring. She hit a delayed vertical suplex, a good 20 seconds, with the last three or so one-handed for a two-count. Flair clapped and smile facetiously. She called for the tag, so Ripley patted her on the head hard several times. Flair, angry, entered and had Cross in the corner, but Cross moved and hit a jawbreaker. She went for an enziguri, but Flair caught her and lifted her. She used Cross on her shoulders to kick Ripley. Ripley tagged in, but Cross tagged in Asuka.

Asuka took out Ripley, then Flair, then hit a codebreaker on Ripley. Flair grabbed Asuka’s boot from the apron, allowing Ripley to bridge a Norther Lights for a two-count. Asuka fought back, hit a German suplex, then a hip attack to the face of a seated Ripley. She tagged in Cross, who climbed to the top, and hit a crossbody for a two-count that Flair broke up by dragging Cross off and throwing her outside. She yelled for Ripley to tag her in, but they then traded blows. Cross looked on from the corner pleased. Flair escaped a Riptide, hit a chop block, then Natural Selection. Cross pinned Ripley. Cross & Asuka danced on the announce desk.

WINNER: Asuka & Nikki Cross at 13:23 (Natural Selection)

-They shifted to Bliss in her playground with Lily. She said not only did Baszler ruin their playdate last week, but she also said Lily is just a stupid doll (she covered Lily’s ears). She said see what happens later tonight when Baszler comes to play with them and that it will be a real scream. They cut to break. [c]

(Hazelwood’s Take: The match started a bit sloppy, but I guess it works for this story? I just don’t get having the champ’s finisher so easily countered and her so easily put away.)

-They returned with a video recap of the contract signing ending, with McIntyre chopping the table in half with his sword. They then hyped the match with the stipulations added earlier.

(6) MANSOOR vs. DREW GULAK

Mansoor entered as Gulak was already in the ring. Gulak had a mean look. They locked up, but Mansoor grabbed the arm wringer. Gulak countered, hit a shoulder tackle, but missed an elbow and was taken down by an arm drag. They showed Ali watching in the back. Gulak slapped Mansoor from the corner, then hit a running clothesline. He hit a bodyslam against the ropes for a one-count.

Gulak started working a leg while stepping on Mansoor’s back in a modified single leg crab almost. Mansoor stood on one leg, shoved Gulak aside, and hit a chop and punch. Gulak booted him from the corner, though, and hit a series of covers for two-counts. He went for a bodyslam, but Mansoor rolled out. Gulak rolled it into a cover using the tights, but Mansoor countered into a leverage pin of his own for the victory.

WINNER: Mansoor at 2:21 (rollup)

-They showed Riddle in the back looking dejected until Orton approached with the “key.” Riddle thanked Orton, said all he wants to do is eat a juicy Whopper from Burger King, but he has a match with Kingston. He said now that they’re back on the road, why don’t they share a car, tell stories, and have Burger King in every state? Orton just put his hand up again for the key, but before Riddle zipped his mouth, he asked if Orton would be out there and complimented his hoodie. Orton said he wasn’t sure, then threw the key into the garbage. Riddle rode off, angrily. The New Day entered as they cut to break. [c]

(7) KOFI KINGSTON (w/Xavier Woods) vs. RIDDLE (w/Randy Orton)

They returned with The New Day dancing in the ring. Riddle entered, sans Orton for now, riding on his scooter. Rather than ride all the way down, he stopped halfway to turn and check for Orton before riding down. No birds on his entrance this time.

The began with Riddle using a double leg to take Kingston down, but Kingston gained the advantage on the feet with strikes in the corner, an running splash, then a PK to the chest for a two-count. He hit a jumping splash for another near fall. Kingston methodically struck Riddle, but Riddle suddenly latched on for a gutwrench and held on to hit two rolling ones for a two-count.

He then hit a Broton for a two-count as Woods began playing the trombone. Riddle walked over, looking annoyed, saying not now bro. Kingston used it to hit a jawbreaker as Graves called out the distraction while Saxton said that’s Riddle’s fault for being distracted. Kingston hit a huge chop in the corner for a two-count. Suddenly, Orton’s music hit, which gave Riddle a boost of energy. However, Kingston hit a dropkick off of the second rope to Riddle and a baseball to slide to Orton, who was stalking Woods.

Woods began playing his trombone in Riddle’s face. Orton hit Woods with his belly-to-back onto to announce table. Kingston then hit his trust fall from the top rope to the outside on both Riddle & Orton. They cut to break. [c]

They returned with Riddle hitting his running forearm in the corner, followed by an exploder suplex and a PK. He lifted Kingston for a suplex, but Kingston slipped out. He hit hit a popup top rope rana that was kind of sloppy, but then hit his leaping double stomp for a two-count. Kingston then did his leverage splash off of the top rope for a two-count.

Kingston was on the apron, but Riddle jumped up for a German over the ropes. Kingston fought him off, then climbed to the top only to be met by a huge chest slap. Riddle climbed, but Kingston fought him off. Riddle came back with another chest slap, but his superplex was countered into a gourdbuster. Kingston landed his frogsplash to the back of Riddle for a two-count.

Riddle took Kingston over the top using he legs to hook under Kingston’s arms. Kingston rose to the apron, avoided the Final Flash, but not a forearm shiver. Orton looked on closely. Kingston was then hit with a forearm shiver into the announce desk, then was brutally battered across the back several times. As he tried to reenter, Riddle kicked Kingston, looked at Orton, then hit the draping DDT. Orton said, “Now finish him! Finish him!”

Riddle did the Orton pounding, but Orton didn’t think it was the right move. Kingston threw Riddle off on his RKO attempt. Riddle ducked Trouble in Paradise, but Kingston slipped out of Bro Derek to hit the Trouble in Paradise for the win. Orton looked displeased as Saxton mentioned Orton told Riddle to finish it rather than waste time. Riddle looked dejected.

WINNER: Kofi Kingston at 12:20 (Trouble in Paradise)

-They shifted to last week’s Baszler vs. Reginald match that saw the latter win after the corners exploded with fire. They then showed her attacking Reginald in the “Playground” and calling Lilly a stupid doll. They showed Baszler in the back and Jax approached. Baszler said things have been tense because of Bliss and “distractions like Reginald.” Jax said Reginald is at home recovering, and what she did is out of line. Jax said she came to offer help, not argue, since she’s known Bliss for a long time. Baszler asked if she thought she was intimidated by a little blonde girl with a stupid doll. She said Bliss could use Jax’s help instead. They cut to break hyping the main event segment. [c]

(Hazelwood’s Take: Good match with good wrinkles in storytelling. Kingston should have won last week, but at least he’s right back to winning here.)

“ALEXA’S PLAYGROUND”

-They returned with the “Playground” in the ring as Bliss was swinging with Lily in her hand. She said normally this is a place for friends, and who knows, maybe they’ll make a new friend, right Lily? She said come on Lily, be more open-minded. Friends come in different shapes, sizes, blood types- Baszler’s music hit as Saxton said he didn’t feel comfortable with this.

Baslzer slammed the rocking horse to the mat and sat on the swing next to Bliss, who said that wasn’t very nice. Bliss said Baszler did things that were naughty, but they wanted to give Baszler the chance to be their new friend. She said all Baszler had to do was apologize to Lily. Baszler said Bliss wanted her to apologize to a doll. Baszler said Bliss is more delusional than she looks. She said Bliss is the reason behind Reginald’s accidents and the reason why her and Jax are no longer Tag Team Champion.

Bliss laughed and said that’s just silly and she would never do such a thing; she just wants to be friends. Lily said something to her, and Bliss said it’s Baszler’s best interests to apologize to Lily. Baszler stood up, snatched Lily out of Bliss’ hands, and said she’s sorry that Lily is just a stupid doll.

Bliss exploded with a straight right to the jaw and attacked her. Baszler threw her out of the ring, then motioned as if she was going to stomp on Lily, which stopped Bliss in her tracks. They had an aerial cam that showed the view from the mat. Baszler stomped on Lily, then left the ring when the Bliss’ music started playing awkwardly. On the ramp, flames shot up several times, causing Baszler to retreat.

As she headed backstage, the lights flickered and things started falling over. She ran into a room, said, “It’s just a stupid doll,” and looked for an exit though all were locked. She traveled the halls more and entered a door. She then entered an open office, locked the door, and shoved a sofa and loveseat against the door. She said it’s not happening, but the lights flickered.

She turned to see a mirror with Lily sitting in the reflection behind her. She said no several times and turned, but Lily wasn’t there. She turned back to the mirror and Lily was there so she just kicked the mirror and screamed. Lily was still seen in a broken shard. The show ended with a black screen and Baszler yelling as if she was attacked.

(Hazelwood’s Take: Positives, Baszler was in the main event segment and was the first person to attack Lily. Negatives, pretty much everything else. The supernatural works for some, but this angle just hasn’t been done well enough for me to be fully engaged. I am optimistic just because Baszler is getting a more prominent role, but the writing just isn’t there for me.)

FINAL THOUGHTS: There was some good and some bad. A lot of good storytelling happened in some matches, but some decision were questionable (like Hardy winning). I guess it’s really going to come down to how you take the final segment. If you liked it, the show was probably good; if you didn’t, the show wasn’t. Simple as that.

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