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KELLER’S WWE RAW REPORT
JUNE 14, 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 Alexa Bliss who said she’s gotten strongly worded complaints about what Lilly did to Shayna Baszler last week. She said even she was taken aback by how far she took things. They showed highlights with dramatic music. She said she only had good intentions when she welcomed Baszler to the Playground. More highlights aired including the absurdity of the camera being stationed in the room Baszler fled to. She said because they’re going on the road soon, she put Lilly in timeout. She said that doesn’t mean Baszler didn’t get what she deserved. Nia Jax showed up and told her to cut the crap. She said Baszler would see her on Sunday at Hell in a Cell. She asked what happened to her. “You and I used to be friends,” Jax said. “I know you, the real you. You need to stop interfering with my career and messing with my friends. The music changed and Bliss’s demeanor changed to sinister as she said she doesn’t appreciate her tone. Jax challenged her to a match tonight. Bliss looked sad and began sobbing. She said she didn’t mean to hurt anyone. She asked for forgiveness. Then she broke into maniacal laughter and said, “Just kidding! I accept.”
-Smith introduced the show and hyped Hell in a Cell and matches scheduled for Raw.
-Nikki Cross made her ring entrance. Smith said Cross has had three big upsets in three weeks. Graves said she has defied the odds. Saxton said a month ago, nobody was talking about Cross, and now she’s in the conversation for a Raw Women’s Title match.
(Keller’s Analysis: It’s ridiculous that they’re giving Cross credit for merely surviving two minutes in matches and framing it as moving her into title contention. There’s a very small slice of Raw’s target audience that isn’t feeling insulted by that spin on Cross’s recent matches.)
-Backstage Charlotte said she wants that match wiped off her record. She said Nikki is a flash in the pan.
(1) CHARLOTTE FLAIR vs. NIKKI CROSS
As Charlotte made her entrance, Graves said she can’t overlook Cross less than a week before a huge match at Hell in a Cell. Charlotte took control at the start. Rhea Ripley’s music played just seconds into the match. Nikki rolled up a distracted Charlotte for a two count. Charlotte knocked Nikki to the floor and then yelled at Ripley, who watched from the stage. They cut to an early break with Charlotte in control. [c]
Back from the break, Charlotte had Nikki in a chinlock. Charlotte stomped on Cross’s chest while holding onto the ropes in the corner. Smith, oddly, called it a “veteran move.” Cross came back with a tornado DDT. She then dove at Charlotte, but Charlotte caught her. She overhead tossed her onto the floor. Ripley stood up and Charlotte gloated. Cross re-entered the ring and Charlotte got counted out. Graves said the record books will show that Nikki has upset Charlotte once again.
WINNER: Cross via countout in 5:00.
-Charlotte attacked Cross afterward. Ripley made the save and gave Charlotte a Rip Tide. She held up her Raw Title belt and smiled down at Charlotte.
(Keller’s Analysis: Cross is the “fresh TV opponent” to keep Charlotte and Ripley from facing each other on TV in various formats before the PPV, and while the storyline of Cross scoring technical wins is cute because it bothers Charlotte so much, the framing of it by announcers is just insulting to viewers. On the bright side, Cross is getting TV time, Charlotte is clearly the heel, and it appears they’ve corrected course and shifted Ripley to being a babyface.)
-They showed Riddle losing last week, frustrating Randy Orton at ringside.
-Backstage Riddle asked Jeff Hardy for advice since he’s a tag team legend. Hardy said the most important factor is trust. He said he can’t believe he’s saying this, but Orton has been around a long time. He said when Orton speaks, listening shows respect. Riddle was excited about Hardy opening his eyes, showing off his real eyes. Riddle talked about all the things he could do if he had four eyes. Hardy left the scene as Riddle rambled on. Orton showed up. Riddle asked Orton what he thinks of Elton John. Orton didn’t know what he was talking about. Riddle promised not to let him down tonight. Orton told Riddle not to try to be another Randy Orton, but just be Riddle, “whatever that means.” Riddle asked if that means he likes him. Orton said no. Riddle didn’t believe him.
-John Morrison’s ring entrance took place. He wheeled Miz to the ring in a wheel chair. Graves said this is a battle of two members of two great tag team rivals. [c]
(2) JEFF HARDY vs. JOHN MORRISON
Saxton said this is the first one-on-one match between these two in over a decade. Morrison sprayed Hardy in the eyes with the Drip Stick. Morrison charged into the ring and attacked Hardy. The ref called for the immediate bell, ridiculously rewarding Morrison for his pre-match attack. Hardy managed a quick comeback. Miz joined the announcers on commentary. Cedric Alexander’s music played. Two matches in a row, a wrestler’s music played to distract a wrestler a minute into the match. After some back and forth action, Morrison landed Starship Pain for the win.
WINNER: Morrison in 4:00.
-Afterward, Cedric apologized to Hardy for not showing him the respect he deserved. He said he idolized him, but then he watched last week’s match back and saw how he taunted him and disrespected him. He said Hardy was a sore winner. He said he’s going to kick his ass into a retirement home. Hardy said he’ll retire if he can beat him in a match right now. Graves wondered if that match would be made official. He said that’s not a smart decision and anything can happen.
(Keller’s Analysis: Cedric was doing well for a while, and then he went into screechy over modulating mode again.) [c]
(3) JEFF HARDY vs. CEDRIC ALEXANDER – Hardy Retires if He Loses
Back and forth action, ending with Hardy scoring a clean win with a Swanton.
WINNER: Hardy in 3:00.
-They went to Smith, Graves, and Saxton on camera. Smith threw to a video package on the Bobby Lashley vs. Drew McIntyre main event at HIAC. Then the announcers hyped the WWE Title match this Sunday.
-Naomi made her ring entrance. They plugged that Naomi faces Eva Marie next. [c]
-The announcers hyped the 25 city tour later this summer.
(4) NAOMI vs. UNNAMED WOMAN (w/Eva Marie)
Eva Marie made her ring entrance accompanied by another unnamed wrestler (Kimberly Benson, known as Piper Niven in NXT UK). The mystery wrestler entered the ring and the ref called for the bell (which is really dumb; why would the referee instantly authorize a different match than what was officially announced). Smith said they have no idea who she is. She plowed through Naomi and won with a Michinoku Driver in a minute. Eva then announced herself as the winner at ringside.
WINNER: Mystery Women in 1:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Okaaayyy. So apparently the announcers don’t watch NXT UK or that’s not part of WWE canon.)
-Dana Brooke and Mandy Rose were doing a photo shoot. Natalya and Tamina objected from inside the ring that’s set up backstage for interviews. Tamina said if they put half as much thought into their matches as their looks, they’d probably be champs by now. Brooke said they take things seriously. She said they work hard and won their match two weeks ago. Mandy said they’re just jealous that those tag titles would look better on them. Natalya said their priorities are all wrong, and it’s clear to her that it wasn’t their brains that opened doors for them. Natalya invited them enter the ring now. Rose and Brooke entered. All four fought.
(Keller’s Analysis: That gave me flashbacks to the Performance Center era before ThunderDome.)
-New Day made their ring entrance. [c]
-Kevin Patrick interviewed McIntyre backstage about Sunday possibly being his final WWE Title match, so how can he focus on A.J. Styles tonight. Drew said instead of “Lashley,” they should call him “Trashley” from now on. He said Scots are known for their brilliant strategies. He said William Wallace was one of the most brilliant, known for his courage and ferocity. He said he was known across the land for his big, humongous, unmatched brain. (He said it with an expression that indicated he was building up to something else.) He talked about some battle on a bridge, then admitted it had nothing to do with his strategy tonight, which he is keeping secret. But he said it’s a good one. Then then told Patrick to “bugger off.”
(5) XAVIER WOODS & KOFI KINGSTON vs. RANDY ORTON & RIDDLE
Xavier was giving the camera in the ring a really creepy look for an uncomfortable ten seconds before Orton’s music played. Graves said Riddle can’t help but get smarter through osmosis by being around Orton, but said he wanted Orton to get him to wear shoes. After a few minutes of back and forth action, Kofi springboarded off the top rope onto Orton for a two count. Smith said: “Who does that from the middle of the rope? Kofi Kingston!” Uh, okay. Smith just says such random things that are sorta true but also not precisely true and just weird to say. It’s like a kid who didn’t study for a test and just writes platitudes that are sorta true to fill the space and take up space but don’t show any actual knowledge of the subject. Riddle rolled to the floor after a New Day flurry. They cut to a break after New Day teasing diving onto Riddle. [c]
Kofi eventually got a hot-tag against Orton. Orton ducked a Trouble in Paradise and then tagged in Riddle. Riddle attacked Kofi with a flurry of offense. Riddle landed a Floating Bro on Kofi, but Kofi kicked out. They cut to a second mid-match break as Kofi and Xavier recovered at ringside. [c]
Back from the break, Xavier knocked Riddle off balance on the top rope. Orton set up a draping DDT on Xavier, but Kofi held onto Xavier’s legs. Orton tagged in Riddle. Orton tagged back in a couple minutes later and almost snuck in a quick RKO, but Xavier slipped out and rolled up Orton for a two count. Orton then hit him with an RKO for the win.
WINNERS: Riddle & Orton in 22:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: I’d like to say for the record to Jimmy Smith, we are not kidding you, so stop asking. Smith just keeps overreacting to conventional situations because he doesn’t know what’s “co0l yet commonplace” compared to something truly jump-up-from-your-seat amazing. He’s just reacting too amped up in a way that feels artificially inflated. He’s calling every two count like it’s nearly the end of Undertaker’s streak. The match itself was good.)
-They aired Charlotte getting counted out against Cross earlier.
-Sarah Schreiber interviewed Ripley backstage. She said Charlotte thinks she’s better than her in every single way, but she obviously can’t control herself when she’s around. She said it’s funny watching someone so powerful crumble. She said she’s going to send her packing to the back of the line when she retains her Raw Title. She then said she had to focus on Asuka, so she rudely told Schreiber to “get out of my face” and rolled her eyes at her.
(Keller’s Analysis: So Ripley’s not a babyface, but an asshole? Who talks to people like that? Shouldn’t viewers have someone who seems worthy of rooting for on Sunday? Drew was a jerk to Patrick earlier, but his tone was lighter in spirit. It wasn’t a good look, but it wasn’t quite as off-putting as Ripley. Why does WWE have wrestlers treat interviewers like trash so often?)
-Asuka’s ring entrance took place. [c]
(6) RHEA RIPLEY vs. ASUKA
A few minutes in, Asuka avoided a dropkick by Ripley. She rolled to the floor. Asuka kicked her there. Ripley caught her leg on another kick and then dropped her across the barricade. They cut to a break. [c]
Asuka controlled after the break. Ripley ducked a couple strikes by Asuka and landed a quick Rip Tide for the win.
WINNER: Ripley in 11:00.
-Charlotte attacked Ripley furiously after the match. She had a really cool outfit on, too. A bunch of referees and officials ran out to restore order, including Hurricane Helms, Jamie Noble, Sonjay Dutt, and Pat Buck. Charlotte had a bloodied nose.
(Keller’s Analysis: Great intensity. Too bad neither wrestler is the least bit likable. WWE really zoomed in on Charlotte’s bloody nose, “setting the business back 30 years!”)
-Lashley was partying backstage with MVP and five women. Patrick asked Lashley if he has any idea why Drew is wrestling Styles later. MVP accused him of being rude and improperly addressing Lashley. He said he is “The All Mighty Bobby Lashley.” Patrick pathetically and meekly apologized. MVP said the only thing Lashley is concerned about is Hell in a Cell. He said as of Sunday, Drew will run out of opportunities to become WWE Champion. Lashley stood up and said he’ll break his face and throw his lifeless body around like a rag doll. Lashley said he will ultimately fail like William Wallace. He said he will publicly execute Drew and mount his head on a stick.
(Keller’s Analysis: No he won’t.)
-Alexa’s Playground music played and she made her way to the ring. [c]
-They replayed the Charlotte-Ripley brawl.
(7) NIA JAX (w/Reginald) vs. ALEXA BLISS
Bliss ducked Jax’s opening swing and leaped onto her back with a sleeper attempt. Jax backed her into the corner. Bliss crawled toward Jax oddly. She side-stepped a Jax boot and then kicked away at her. Jax knocked a charging Bliss down hard mid-ring. Jax tossed Bliss into the corner. Bliss avoided a Jax legdrop. Bliss avoided a charging Jax again, then sat on the top turnbuckle. Reginald DISTRACTED Bliss, giving Jax a brief advantage. Bliss came right back, though, and DDT’d Jax. Bliss shot Reginald a look before landing Twisting Bliss. Reginald threw Bliss off of Jax to break up the cover. They piped in brief boos.
WINNER: Bliss via DQ in 5:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: What a bizarre finish to the match. Again, who are fans supposed to root for here.)
-Bliss looked at Reginald and appeared to hypnotize him. She left the ring. Jax got up and told Reginald to snap out of it.
-MVP walked up to Kingston and Woods. Kofi asked what he wants. MVP asked if he had a chance to think about what he said, and if makes more sense after their loss to RK-Bro. MVP told Kofi that Woods is holding him back. He told him he’s wasting his career in tag teams with people who don’t measure up. He said at least in a singles match, he has himself to blame, yet tonight he didn’t even get pinned, yet he’s still a loser. Xavier told MVP to hurry up because “I have to put more water in your mother’s dish.” (Okay, why did Xavier bring MVP’s mom into it? Is there anybody likeable on this show?) Kofi asked MVP what his end game is. He said he’ll never agree with what he said. He told him he’s not hearing him. He said he’s been successful because of the bond he shares with his friends and brothers, and nothing MVP says will change that. He told him to move on. MVP wished him luck in his match this Sunday at HIAC. “Oh, that’s right, you don’t have a match this Sunday”
-Elias made his ring entrance. [c]
(8) JAXSON RYKER vs. ELIAS
As Ryker made his way to the ring, a soundbite aired with Ryker. He said it’s okay that Elias has always wanted to walk alone. He said he wasn’t holding Elias back, but rather Elias was holding him back. The camera zoomed in crazy-close to Ryker’s eyes. They fought at ringside where Ryker drove Elias into the ringpost. Elias let himself get counted out.
WINNER: Ryker via countout in 3:00.
-They went to the announcers at ringside. Smith threw to a Hell in a Cell video package focused on the Cell structure itself.
-Drew made his ring entrance. [c]
(9) DREW MCINTYRE vs. A.J. STYLES (w/Omos)
Lashley, MVP, and the ladies walked onto the stage and sat down to watch the match as Lashley’s music played. Styles then made his entrance with Omos. Smith said Drew wrestled Kofi and said it was an opponent of similar size, style, and attitude. (Not really.) Drew landed a huge backdrop early. Graves said you can never bet against Styles. Drew outmaneuvered Styles mid-ring and landed a sudden Future Shock DDT. Drew looked over at Lashley & Co. and gave him an “up yours” arm gesture. Omos pulled Styles to ringside. Lashley, on the other side of the ring, got on the ring apron. The Viking Raiders then walked to ringside. Graves asked, “What does this mean for our main event?” [c]
Styles knocked Drew to the floor and then threw him face-first into the ringpost. Styles rolled back into the ring to break the count. Smith said, “Look up ‘crafty’ in the dictionary and you’re going to see A.J. Styles.” (Ugh. No announcer has pulled out that tired cliche in a long time.) Drew snapped Styles’s neck over the top rope. A couple minutes later, after a Styles kick-out, Drew looked frustrated. Drew landed a Michinoku Driver for another two count. Drew set up a superplex. Smith asked, “Are you kidding me?” (No, we are not, Jimmy.) Styles slipped free and took control. Drew countered a Styles Clash with a backdrop. Drew retrieved Styles and threw him into the ring. When Lashley moved toward Drew at ringside, Drew jabbed him in the face and threw him aside. He gave MVP a stare, then climbed back to the top rope. Drew landed a clothesline, then kipped up. Lashley attacked Drew.
WINNER: Drew via DQ in 18:00.
-The Viking Raiders threw Lashley out of the ring. Drew gave Lashley an overhead suplex. Smith asked, “What is going on?” [c]
(10) DREW MCINTYRE & THE VIKING RAIDERS vs. A.J. STYLES & OMOS & BOBBY LASHLEY
You knew this was coming. Graves said Lashley returned to the back to put on his gear during the break. Ivar rallied against Lashley a few minutes in until Lashley landed a quick one-armed slam. Erik broke up the cover. Lashley tagged out to Omos. Ivar ran at Omos, but he bounced off Omos. They cut to a break as Omos pounded his chest. [c]
Lashley had Ivar grounded after the break. Omos tagged back in and crashed into Ivar in the corner. Smith said Omos shot Graves a look once and he had to go to the bathroom and clean himself up. Graves said he told him that in confidence. Omos and Drew squared off. It was treated as a moment. After a staredown, Drew shrugged his shoulders and swung at Omos. Omos blocked it and grabbed Drew by his throat. Drew kicked out of it and punched Omos. Omos shoved Drew off of him and then Styles tagged in. Drew gave Styles three overhead suplexes. Omos yanked Drew down by his hair from behind as the ref wasn’t looking. He then threw Ivar over the barricade. Erik charged at him at ringside, but Omos tossed him over the barricade. “Are you kidding me?!” asked Jimmy. (No, Jimmy, we are not.) Styles tagged in Lashley, who didn’t seem pleased. Drew caught Lashley with a Claymore for the three count. “Un-be-lievable!” exclaimed Jimmy. (Not really.) Drew’s music played as he looked down at Lashley and said he can’t wait to see him in hell on Sunday.
WINNER: McIntyre & Raiders in 13:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Some good action to fill out the last 40 minutes of the show. Not sure if Drew pinning Lashley is a good or bad sign for Drew on Sunday. They continue to build up Omos to a degree that they’re eventually going to put him in against a big star in a singles match. It’ll take a lot of smoke and mirrors to make that passable.)