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KELLER’S WWE RAW REPORT
JUNE 21, 2021
LIVE FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH FLORIDA – “THUNDERDOME”
AIRED ON USA NETWORK
Commentators: Jimmy Smith, Byron Saxton, Corey Graves
Ring Announcer: Mike Rome
-Pyro blasted in ThunderDome as Smith introduced the show. The announcers hyped the five Money in the Bank qualifying matches on Raw. Smith noted over 80 percent of MITB winners have cashed in to win a title.
-Bobby Lashley and MVP along with five women made their way to the ring as Saxton noted he is still the WWE Champion. Graves noted Lashley was grinning ear to ear. The announcers discussed Lashley retaining his title the night before at the Hell in a Cell event. Graves called it a superhuman effort. Saxton said, controversy aside, Lashley is still the champion and said it was a barbaric match. Smith said he’s surprised Lashley is even walking after that match. Graves said Lashley is not only walking, but also thriving.
Lashley said he and Drew went through hell, and Drew took him to his limits, but Drew wasn’t enough to beat the All Mighty. MVP gloated about how Drew cannot challenge Lashley again. They put a split-screen image on the screen of Lashley celebrating and Drew coming to terms with the loss. MVP said it was beautiful. MVP asked Lashley and the five women to join him in a toast. The New Day music interrupted. Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods came out and rolled a cart with toast on it to ringside. Kofi said he wanted to participate in the toast. They began tossing the toast into the ring. MVP said they continue to prove his point. He said “this clown nonsense is exactly why you were watching Hell in a Cell instead of participating in it.” He said they’re clowns and they belong in a circus. He said once they get back in front of live crowds, Kofi will continue to do cosplay and play video games with “this court jester you call you friend,” while they enjoy the finer things in life.
Kofi said they aren’t leaving. Kofi said he surrounds himself with people he trusts rather than people who would use him. He called Lashley “Bob.” He asked Lashley if his women friends and MVP will hang around him after he loses his title. Lashley said he has nothing to worry about because he won’t lose the title. He said Kofi is too busy making pancakes and dancing to realize that he lost the WWE Title. He said there is a hierarchy in this world, and he and his “little friend” (Xavier) are down lower than him.
Kofi said he beat Lashley, and he seems to have forgotten that. He said he brought the footage. A clip aired of Xavier yanking Kofi off of Lashley’s shoulders and then distracting the ref, and then Kofi rolling up Lashley for the win. Graves said it was conveniently edited out that Drew also distracted Lashley. Saxton said a win is a win. Kofi said at last check, Lashley didn’t have an opponent at the MITB PPV, so he was challenging him. As MVP asked if he was joking, Lashley interrupted and said, “I accept.”
Lashley said Kofi left out the part where Drew hit him with a cane, and that’s the only way he won. He said the match at MITB should be a straight one-on-one match. Lashley asked for a match against his “video-game-playing-little-buddy” Xavier tonight. Xavier said they’re not the first people to talk about him like that, but they’re in a long line of old-school mentality meatheads who can’t recognize a renaissance man like him. When MVP interrupted, Xavier told him to shut up. Xavier said he has 2 million plus subscribers on his YouTube channel and is a G4 host, and an 11-time WWE World Tag Team Champion. He begged them to continue to underestimate him so the ass-whipping he puts on him is that much sweeter. Xavier said the match tonight is going to be inside Hell in a Cell. He looked up and the HIAC cage was conveniently hanging above them.
Lashley accepted. MVP didn’t like that decision. Saxton said his mind is blown. Graves said it might be the biggest mistake of Lashley’s life since he just had a Hell in a Cell match less than 24 hours ago.
(Keller’s Analysis: So you have New Day happening to have a rolling cart of toast ready to roll out when MVP began his toast, and now you have a Hell in a Cell cage hanging above the ring conveniently for Xavier’s challenge? I am on MVP’s side of that whole exchange. Did Xavier really cite his number of YouTube subscribers for video game playing as part of his rebuttal to MVP saying his focus on video games has held him and Kofi back from reaching their in-ring potential? It also made Kofi look ridiculous to be bragging about beating Lashley given the circumstances of the win, and Graves came across as more honest than everyone else in pointing that out. That stuff aside, it’s always so refreshing to see Xavier and Kofi show they can be serious men and not “clowns,” as MVP called them, goofing off and dancing. A big criticism of Kofi after losing the WWE Title was that he seemed entirely unaffected by the loss and just smiled and danced in the days and weeks that followed, so it’s interesting to see WWE incorporate that into MVP’s promos.) [c]
-Sonya Deville spoke about Pride month. She said she spent years hiding her sexual orientation. A clip aired of her saying she has a girlfriend in a WWE ring during her tryout, and it was her national coming out. She said she accepts that it’s just part of who she is.
(Keller’s Analysis: Good to see WWE moving another step into the modern era when it comes to LGBTQ+ issues and letting their wrestlers who want to speak about their sexual orientation do so proudly.)
-A clip aired from earlier of the camera shooting A.J. Styles and Omos heading toward the ring and then meeting The Viking Raiders in the hallway. Styles called them “nothing.” Ivar chewed on a turkey leg. Styles told them to watch his qualifying MITB match against Ricochet. He said he’ll win MITB and win the WWE Title again. He said then he and Omos would defend the Raw Tag Team Titles against them. He called them “stinky barbarians.” Erik said they beat him once and they’ll beat him again.
(1) A.J. STYLES (w/Omos) vs. RICOCHET – Money in the Bank qualifier
Styles and Omos made their entrance first. After Ricochet’s entrance, a soundbite aired with Ricochet saying he challenged for the WWE Title before and came up short. He said he is a rarity who is willing to do whatever it takes to win. The bell rang 22 minutes into the hour. Ricochet dropkicked Styles off the ring apron in the opening seconds, and then flipped over him at ringside. Styles picked him up and darted him into the ringpost. With Ricochet down, they cut to a very early break. [c]
Ricochet scored a near fall shortly after returning from the break. They battled mid-ring with an array of counter moves and two counts. Styles applied a Calf Crusher at 9:00, but Ricochet reached the bottom rope. As Styles set up a Phenomenal Forearm, the Viking Raiders ran out and attacked Omos, which DISTRACTED Styles. Omos tossed them aside and then charged. They side-stepped and shoved him through the ring barricade. Styles then refocused and went for the Phenomenal Forearm, but Ricochet caught him mid-air with a kneelift and scored the three count. Graves called it one of the biggest victories in Ricochet’s career.
WINNER: Ricochet in 10:00 to advanced to Money in the Bank.
(Keller’s Analysis: Ricochet’s been so marginalized, and his promos are still so bland it’s tough to dig his way out of it with flashy moves, but even a tainted win over Styles via DISTRACTION is a step up for his push and gives fans of his some hope for more. It was great seeing these two for at least few minutes do their thing against each other.)
-Graves hyped Riddle vs. McIntyre in a Money in the Bank ladder match.
-Riddle scootered up to Randy Orton backstage and said it’s amazing they both have the opportunity to win the MITB briefcase. Riddle said if he wins the briefcase, he’ll put his stash in there. Orton asked what he meant by that. Riddle said his stash of Whoppers because you never know when you’re going to be hungry. He said he has an irrational fear of the Burger King mascot trying to steal his Whoppers. He said he’s always there lurking. Orton yelled, “Riddle! What do you want?” Riddle said perhaps he has some pointers for him since he’s won the MITB before, “you know, bro to bro.” Orton paused and told Riddle his pointer is to stay out of his way. Riddle said that’ll be tough since they’ll both qualify and then be in the ring at once in the MITB match. “Wouldn’t that be awesome!?” Orton stared at Riddle. “Not for you,” he said. Riddle shrugged it off and wished him luck in his match later. [c]
-Graves commented on last week’s debut of Eva Marie’s friend, who beat Naomi in place of the advertised Eva in-ring debut.
-Kevin Patrick interviewed Eva Marie backstage. She said last week she got a mani and a pedi, but unfortunately she caught a cold and couldn’t wrestle. She said instead of throwing in the towel, she arranged for her protege to step in the ring and take her place. She asked what her name is. As she was about to speak, Eva said it’s Doudrop. Her protege (Piper Niven) rolled her eyes, but then followed Eva as she walked away.
-During Naomi’s ring entrance, a soundbite aired with Naomi and Asuka. Naomi said she was thrown off by facing an unexpected opponent who hits hard. She said they’re ready this week, though. Graves said Eva is offering a fresh start to Doudrop by giving her a new name, just like when you join a new cult. [c]
(2) NAOMI & ASUKA vs. EVA MARIE & DOUDROP – Money in the Bank qualifier
Graves said the winning duo will compete in the MITB ladder match. Eva began the match against Asuka, but after circling Asuka in the ring, Eva tagged out to Doudrop. Graves said it appeared Doudrop didn’t like her new name, but he said it takes time to get used to it. Marie stood at ringside, unavailable for a tag. Graves said he was feeling so motivated, it’s like he was at a Tony Robbins seminar all week. Doudrop landed a corner cannonball and made the cover. Asuka broke up the cover. When Doudrop was ready to splash Naomi, Eva tagged herself in. Doudrop didn’t like that. Eva covered Naomi, but Naomi kicked out. Eva tried to tag in Doudrop, but Doudrop dropped to the floor. Naomi rolled up Eva from behind for the win.
WINNERS: Naomi & Asuka in 3:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Did they already break up Doudrop and Eva, or will this be a Miz-Mizdow situation that lasts a long time despite angst by the protege? Eva’s a good heel, but wrestling fans are going to resent the meta-aspect of her having a spot on the roster because of her looks despite her utter lack of ring acumen. Does leaning into it make it okay or more offensive?)
-A video package aired on the Charlotte-Rhea Ripley match at HIAC.
-They showed Adam Pearce and Sonya Deville chatting backstage. Saxton said they’d address the controversial finish next. [c]
-A clip aired of the opening segment that set up the Xavier-Lashley match in the Hell in a Cell structure later.
-Pearce and Deville stood mid-ring and invited Charlotte and Ripley to the ring. Ripley walked out first. Ripley said she was told that Sonya was going to summon her. Pearce said what she did as champion was completely unacceptable. Ripley walked in and asked, “What are you talking about?” Sonya said everyone knows a title can only change hands via pinfall or submission. Pearce said those rules weren’t meant to be abused, and she got herself intentionally disqualified. Ripley said she’s seen Charlotte break those rules over and over for years. “I only did what Charlotte would have done if she was me,” she said. Pearce said Charlotte is not the current champion. Charlotte’s music then played.
Charlotte said she is proud of Ripley because she proved to her she is smarter than she thought. She said she showed she is actually a strategic competitor. She said she is still going to destroy her, though. Deville said if that’s her way of asking for a rematch, she’ll grant her one. She announced a rematch at Money in the Bank.
(Keller’s Analysis: Another match for the Raw Title with no one worthy of rooting for. I was waiting for a stipulation that the title can change hands on a DQ, but Charlotte didn’t even ask for it. Since Charlotte was so proud of Ripley’s tactic, Ripley ought to just get intentionally counted out at the start of their MITB rematch.)
-A clip aired of Natalya beating Mandy Rose in the Kickoff Show.
-As Natalya and Tamina were doing a photo shoot, Sarah Schreiber interrupted to interview them. There was a ton of noise in the ring. Mandy and Dana Brooke were working out in the ring. Natalya and Tamina told them to be quiet. Dana and Mandy said they’re busy putting in the work, just like Natalya and Tamina said they should. They challenged them to a tag match. Tamina said they can have a second serving. When they tried to leap into the ring, Mandy and Dana knocked them to the floor. Mandy asked, “How is that for working smart?”
-Randy Orton’s ring entrance took place. [c]
-They showed photos of Drew McIntyre’s back all marked up with welts.
(3) RANDY ORTON vs. JOHN MORRISON – Money in the Bank qualifier
Morrison rolled Miz down the ramp in his wheelchair. Graves invited Miz to join them on commentary. Morrison got in some early offense including a kick to the head for a two count. Orton made a comeback and bashed Morrison into the announce table and then he slammed him onto the table. (That apparently is not grounds for a disqualification, but using the flimsy lid to that table instead of slamming someone on the monitors is grounds for a DQ.) Orton walked toward loud-mouthed Miz, who rolled backwards in his chair and begged off as they cut to an early break. [c]
Orton was in control after the break. When Morrison made a comeback, Graves said they already saw an upset earlier with Ricochet’s win. Orton fought back and chopped Morrison’s chest hard in the corner. He punched away at him in the corner next, then landed a snap powerslam followed by a draping DDT. Orton stood up slowly and then pounded the mat to signal for the RKO. Miz sprayed Orton in the face with the Drip Stick from ringside. Orton was DISTRACTED and looked over at Miz. Morrison rolled up Orton for a two count. Orton gave Morrison a quick uppercut to knock him down. Riddle scootered to the ring to chase after Miz in his wheelchair. Orton looked on, then went back after Morrison. Morrison snapped a DISTRACTED Orton over the top rope and then landed Starship Pain for the win. “Another upset!” said Smith. “Can you believe it?!” (That might’ve been his first “Can you believe it?!” of the night.)
WINNER: Morrison in 13:00.
-They aired clips of the Alexa Bliss win over Shayna Baszler at the HIAC PPV.
-Patrick interviewed Jax, Reginald, and Baszler. He asked if what happened last night could happen again tonight. Jax said Reginald knows he wouldn’t let Lexi hurt his Reggie. Baszler said no one in the locker room scares them. Jax said, “There is something different about Alexa.”
-Bliss’s ring entrance took place, with her new music with no remnants of The Field’s theme. Saxton said she’ll have to find a way to coexist with her former tag partner, Nikki Cross, next. [c]
-Graves congratulated Titus O’Neal for being the 2021 Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Awards finalist. He said no one does as much for his community as Titus does.
-Backstage Cross said she recently felt something spark inside of her. She said she beat Charlotte and Ripley and now she can win her way into the MITB ladder match. She said she’s eager to show everyone how she can present her excitement about her momentum. She was wearing a superhero face mask with blue make-up under it. The camera panned back and showed off that she was wearing a full super hero outfit that shows the spirit inside of everyone. She twirled around.
(Keller’s Analysis: There’s some Hurricane Helms there.)
(4) SHAYNA BASZLER & NIA JAX (w/Reginald) vs. ALEXA BLISS & NIKKI CROSS – Money in the Bank qualifier
Cross strutted to the ring. Graves said this feels like a bit much. Saxton said Nikki is just trying to build on the momentum she feels. Graves said both Cross and Bliss are out of their minds. After an early flurry by Cross against Baszler, Jax tagged in. She headbutted Nikki down, but Nikki avoided a Jax charged. Jax hit the post and fell to the floor. Reginald checked on her. Reginald seemed to be a little out of it. Baszler told him to focus. Cross leaped off the top rope onto all three. Bliss looked on smiling. Cross raised her arm proudly in the ring, striking a superhero pose. [c]
Cross tagged in Bliss. Bliss landed a kneedrop and a somersault senton for a two count. Baszler gouged Bliss’s eyes as Jax distracted the ref. Jax tagged in and bashed Bliss’s head into the ringpost. Baszler tagged in and landed a kneelift. Bliss maneuvered out of a nerve hold and attacked Baszler. Baszler lifted her onto the top rope. Bliss gave Baszler a sunset bomb out of the corner, then went into that weird crawl she does. She tagged in Cross just as Baszler tagged in Jax. Cross got the better of Jax briefly. Baszler almost punched Jax when Nikki ducked. She held up, though. Jax was inexplicably upset with Baszler and dropped to the floor. Baszler made her case that she was trying to hit Nikki. Jax said she can handle it. Cross then gave Baszler a back suplex. Bliss climbed to the top rope and seemed to put Reginald in a trance again. He almost slapped Jax, but stopped short. Jax looked up at Bliss and then turned and hugged Reginald. Cross kicked them, and then dropped Baszler into a magistral cradle for the win.
WINNER: Cross & Bliss in 9:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: I don’t even know where to begin trying to explain everything going on in that match in terms of the various personalities and what happened. Is Bliss a babyface now? Has she been for weeks or months already? Is Baszler the babyface, at least relative to Jax who was completely unreasonable in how she responded to Baszler *not* punching her. It does seem they’re moving Bliss further away from the Fiend character with the new intro music.)
-They showed Drew McIntyre warming up backstage when Pearce and Deville walked up to ask how he was doing after last night. Drew said he’s looking at the future, not the past, and he wants to earn his way back to a title match via Money in the Bank. He said this is what he does, and even though doctors say he’s not physically in a good place, he’s going forward. He quoted Winston Churchill saying he will never, ever surrender. He said he’s going through hell right now, so he might as well keep going. Pearce wished him luck. Sonya did too.
(Keller’s Analysis: Drew easily could have made excuses or at least pointed out the unfair aspect of MVP’s interference, and asked why Charlotte gets a rematch after the technicality that helped Ripley retain her title given that MVP held his leg as he was about to win, but instead he comes across as someone who is just going to keep fighting within the system, no matter how unfair it is, until he gets another shot. It’s probably the best way to move forward with him.) [c]
-Backstage Jinder Mahal, Jeff Hardy, and Cedric Alexander were arguing. They all made their case for getting a MITB opportunity. Cedric called them fossils. Jinder cited his status as a past champion. Sheamus was standing by, too. He said he’s the U.S. Champion so he should be entered into MITB automatically. Pearce asked if his nose is better and, if so, he should be defending his title. Sheamus said it’s shattered and he walked away, dropping his case to be in the MITB. Jinder ranted about not getting another opportunity while Riddle and Ricochet and Morrison have been given opportunities, and Drew is about to squander his opportunity for the 9,000th time this year. Jinder said if something were happen to someone who qualifies, he’d like to be considered as an alternate. Cedric thought that was a good point.
(5) RIDDLE vs. DREW MCINTYRE – Money in the Bank qualifier
They showed a close-up of the welts on Drew’s back. The announcers talked about how Drew was at such a disadvantage given the Hell in a Cell battle just 24 hours earlier. Riddle gave Drew an overhead belly-to-belly. Graves asked who wants it more as they cut to a break. [c]
After Smith plugged the main event with Lashley and Xavier, Graves said it’s also amazing that Drew is fighting valiantly just 24 hours after the HIAC match against Lashley. Riddle took it to Drew including a kick to Drew’s back, which was full of welts. Drew lifted his knees on a Riddle attempt at a Bro-ton. Drew made a comeback including two overhead suplexes and a neckbreaker. (Graves continues to call almost 90 percent of the moves by name after Smith grunts but doesn’t seem to know the names of many basic moves.) Drew scored a near fall. They battled on the top rope. Riddle knocked Drew off balance. Drew hung backwards off the top rope, but sat up and back suplexed Riddle hard to the mat. With both men down, they cut to another break. [c]
Orton walked onto the stage to observe the match. Riddle landed a knee strike to Drew’s face for a near fall. Riddle went for another suplex, but Drew powered out and blocked a Riddle kick and then landed a Michinoku Driver for a near fall. Riddle had to pull up his tights after the landing as Drew yanked them down on the backside, exposing his ass entirely. Drew climbed to the top rope. Saxton said he didn’t like that strategy. Riddle caught Drew mid-air and went into a triangle armbar. Drew lifted Riddle and powered him up. Riddle then used a backslide for a one count. Drew gave Riddle a Future Shock DDT for a near fall. Drew waited for Riddle to stand, but he collapsed. (That’s a good defense for the Claymore.) Drew and Riddle countered each other. Riddle landed a hook kick to Drew’s face. He roundkicked him to the side of the head, then pulled him to the corner. He climbed to the top rope and went for a Floating Bro. Drew avoided it and went for a Claymore. Riddle avoided it and applied a sleeper. Drew powered out. Riddle landed a flying knee to the jaw. Drew headbutted him and then lifted him onto his shoulders. Riddle rolled through and scored a three count.
WINNER: Riddle in 22:00.
-Riddle celebrated his way up the ramp on his scooter. He offered a fist bump to Orton. Orton wouldn’t. Riddle told him not to leave him hanging and asked what’s wrong. “Just talk to me, Randy,” he said. “I’m always here for you, bro.” Orton stood with his arms crossed and didn’t respond to Riddle.
(Keller’s Analysis: Really good match. If fans don’t show appreciation for the body of work Drew has put together over the last year or so in the pandemic era, it’ll be disappointing.)
-They showed Kofi giving Xavier a pep talk backstage. [c]
-Backstage, Mansoor approached Jaxson Ryker and said he was going to ask for some advice, but he seemed distracted. Mansoor was about to walk away, but Ryker said his advice is to never let the enemy eck-scape. He said that’s why he’s facing Elias in a strap match next week. He said there will be nowhere for Elias to run or hide, and the tune heard around the world will be the sound of the strap smacking his flesh. Mansoor said that makes sense to him. Mansoor turned and saw Mustafa Ali. Ali said he’s looking for answers, but he’s asking the wrong questions to the wrong people. Ali asked how he let all of the other wrestlers steal the MITB spot from both of them. He told Mansoor if he can’t even get an opportunity to climb the ladder of success, he has to build his own ladder. Ryker then was shown whipping himself with the strap.
-The announcers hyped a “Last Chance Qualifying match” for MITB next week on Raw featuring Drew, Styles, and Orton.
(Keller’s Analysis: Now I’m strangely on the side of Jinder, Cedric, Hardy, and Ali about the unfairness of the MITB qualifiers. This second-chance match also takes something away from the upsets earlier in the show since one of them will end up getting into the MITB match anyway.)
-Xavier made is ring entrance. [c]
(6) BOBBY LASHLEY (w/MVP) vs. XAVIER WOODS (w/Kofi Kingston) – Hell in a Cell match
Lashley made his ring entrance. Saxton said it’s the first time in 23 years that a MITB match has taken place on Raw. Kofi and MVP argued at ringside. The bell rang 45 minutes into the third hour. Xavier opened with a flying dropkick. He kicked away at Lashley, but Lashley tossed him into the corner and beat on him. Lashley scored a two count a minute in, then threw Xavier to the floor. Xavier swung a chair at Lashley, but Lashley blocked it and then punched it into Xavier. “Are you kidding me!?” exclaimed Smith. (I think that’s twice this show, for those keeping track.) Back in the ring, Xavier avoided a charge by Lashley, who flew into the ringpost and dropped to the floor. Xavier kicked Lashley twice into the side of the cage. He then grabbed a chair and knocked Lashley in the head, sending off the ring apron into the side of the cage. He bashed him across the back with the chair a few times as Kofi danced at ringside. [c]
Lashley beat up Xavier for a few minutes after the break until he ducked Lashley and clipped his leg. Xavier then bashed Lashley with a kendo stick. Lashley had a patch on his shoulder that came off and revealed a nasty exposed chuck of flesh on his shoulder. Xavier landed a tornado DDT for a near fall at 11:00. Xavier set up a table in the ring, but Lashley nearly powerbombed him on it. Xavier fought free and kicked Lashley onto the table. He then leaped off the top rope with a flying elbowdrop that drove Lashley through the table for a two count. Graves said that has to be disheartening for Woods. Lashley ducking a charging kick and then threw Xavier into a chair that was wedged in the corner of the ring. He then landed a spear followed by the Hurt Lock for the tapout win.
WINNER: Lashley in 14:00.
-Lashley put Xavier in the Hurt Lock again at ringside. Kofi yelled helplessly from outside the cage as Lashley shoved Xavier’s face into the cage. MVP taunted Kofi as the show ended.