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KELLER’S WWE RAW REPORT
JULY 12, 2021
LIVE FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH FLORIDA – “THUNDERDOME”
AIRED ON USA NETWORK
Commentators: Jimmy Smith, Byron Saxton, Corey Graves
-A graphic acknowledged the death of “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff.
-A video package aired on last week’s tag match with Bobby Lashley & MVP vs. Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods.
-Smith introduced the show and acknowledged this is the last event at ThunderDome as they return to presenting shows in front of fans in person next week. (He said “fans,” not “the WWE Universe.”) New Day began their ring entrance. Smith asked, “Who do fans love more than New Day?” (That’s a strange random question to posit. It either falsely presumes they’re the most popular wrestlers in WWE or it’s just a random pointless comment. His use of language continues to just be imprecise and sloppy and patronizing in ways his predecessors haven’t been.)
-They cut backstage to MVP giving Lashley a pep talk. Women behind him were cheering for him. Lashley had an intense gameface on.
(1) BOBBY LASHLEY (w/MVP) vs. XAVIER WOODS (w/Kofi Kingston)
Lashley dropped Xavier over the ringside stairs a minute into the match. Lashley looked over at Kofi as they cut to a break. [c]
As Lashley continued to beat on Xavier, they cut to five women cheering for him from a couch and chair on the stage. Xavier surprised Lashley in a crossface out of nowhere. Lashley lifted Xavier and powered out of it. Lashley rammed Xavier ribs-first into the ringpost. Back in the ring, Lashley speared Xavier. Xavier caught Lashley with an inside cradle for the upset win. Kofi went bonkers at ringside. Graves said, “That’s got to be one of the biggest upsets we’ve ever had on Monday Night Raw!” (Credit to Smith for resisting blurting out, “Are you kidding me?!”) Lashley grabbed his belt, hung his head, and left. Graves said he’s got to be asking himself if he has what it takes to defeat Kofi on Sunday. Kofi and Xavier celebrated in the ring, gloating verbally to MVP at ringside.
WINNER: Xavier 11:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Hmmm. I guess they felt Kofi was seen as such a massive underdog, that having Xavier score a surprise (fluke) win increasing the odds fans think Kofi has against Lashley? I think in the real world, this would make Lashley much less likely to lose via some sort of fluke against Kofi since his guard will be up.) [c]
-They replayed Xavier pinning Lashley.
-Backstage, Kevin Patrick interviewed MVP. Patrick said they just received word Lashley was seen leaving the arena already. MVP said Lashley has left the building, but it’s not a big deal “so the rumor mongers can settle down.” He said Lashley had to blow off some steam after a tough evening. He said he can personally guarantee he’ll be in the VIP Lounge this evening, fixing things with some positive vibes and champagne.
-They went to the announcers at ringside. Graves said he rarely if ever doubts the words spoken by MVP, but the look in Lashley’s eyes belie what MVP said. The announcers then commented on the Jinder Mahal-Drew McIntyre angle last week where Mahal stole Drew’s sword.
-They aired a clip of Mahal arriving on his motorcycle and being presented Drew’s sword by his cohorts.
-Alexa Bliss said, from her playground in the backstage ring, that tonight is so exciting because she gets to face off against some of her best friends in a Fatal Four-way match, but this Sunday they all face each other in the Money in the Bank ladder match. She said she’s excited to be back live in front of the WWE Universe. The panned over as Eva Marie, with Doudrop, asked when she was going to get around to introducing her.
Bliss was delighted by Doudrop’s name. Doudrop said her name and smiled. Eva told her to stop it. Bliss noted that Doudrop was invited, not Eva. She called Eva a “surprise bonus.” Eva said that’s not acceptable. She said she’s the headlining Superstar of Raw. She said she hopes this is the last time she steps foot in this grumpy, dingy little playground. She looked at Doudrop and said, “I can see why she invited only you.” Bliss mocked Eva after she left and giggled. They post-produced in music that went along with the words they were speaking.
(Keller’s Analysis: Eva’s reciting of her lines there was really bad. I don’t get Doudrop, either. She’s now standing there putting up with Eva treating her like garbage. Whatever equity she built up pushing back or standing up to Eva just dissipates every week that goes by when she’s still standing by her and allowing herself to be treated that way. Bliss’s act is just lost right now.)
-Jinder Mahal along with two chorts, Veer and Shanky, made their way to the ring. [c]
-Saxton congratulated Sasha Banks and Bianca Belair for being awarded an ESPY for their match at WrestleMania this year. They showed Belair holding up her Smackdown Title.
-Mahal stood mid-ring with his two cohorts. He said he might have taken things too far last week because he knows how proud Drew is of his Scottish heritage, so because he stole his sword, he probably can’t train or sleep. He said he will apologize to him and shake his hand and give him back his “beloved sword.” There was a table in the ring with a red velvet covering over what appeared to be a sword. Drew appeared on the big screen. He said he knows Jinder is a tough bastard, but he’s also a liar. Jinder said he was offended by that. He said he wanted to do this in person, but he had Veer and Shanky take his family heirloom and having it refinished. They revealed the sword was broken in half. They cut to a close-up of Drew shaking his head. He said he expected that sword to get broken because it’s a replica. He then revealed his real sword. He then walked over to Jinder’s motorcycle and said that’s not a replica, but it does look a little delicate to him. He yanked off a tailpipe and bashed it to pieces. He tore off the seat and tore other parts off and smashed them. He kicked it over and said not to worry because it’s nothing a little elbow grease can’t fix.
(Keller’s Analysis: The stolen property storyline was lame, so hopefully we’re past it now. It was quite predictable Drew was going to get back at Jinder through his motorcycle. At least Drew outsmarted Jinder quickly.)
-Riddle walked up to Nikki ASH and told her as a superhero she should just fly to the top of the ladder on Sunday and win. She said she’s “almost” a super hero, and that makes a big difference. “So no flying just yet.” Riddle rambled about confusing NASA with being at the mall and something about having to wear shoes and not breathing through his feet. Nikki then charged to the ring.
(2) NIKKI ASH vs. ALEXA BLISS vs. ASUKA vs. NAOMI – Fatal Four-way match
Asuka made her entrance next. A soundbite aired with Asuka saying she is going to win the MITB contract a second time and then “no champion in WWE will be ready for Asuka.” Naomi made her entrance next. After rapid-fire action with all four, Naomi and Asuka squared off and kicked each other at the same time. Both went down.
Then Nikki and Bliss faced off mid-ring. Eva and Doudrop walked out. They piped in boos. Nikki and Bliss became preoccupied with them. Bliss DDT’d Asuka and scored a two count. She sat up and smiled and waved at Doudrop. She sat on the ring apron and then walked toward her. Eva shoved Doupdrop toward Bliss. Doudrop made small talk. Bliss walked past her. Eva took off a high heel shoe and threatened Bliss with it. Doudrop then attacked Bliss from behind. Doudrop then put Bliss on her shoulders and ran toward the barricade and dropped her on the other side roughly. Eva walked over and checked on Bliss, but Bliss was gone. Eva asked, “Where is she?” Doudrop didn’t know. They cut to an abrupt break. [c]
If you plan to attend any upcoming Raw, Smackdown, and AEW Dynamite live TV events and are willing to be our on-site correspondent on our live podcast after the show, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are still looking to line-up correspondents for these dates:
- 7/16 Smackdown in Houston, Tex.
- 7/23 Smackdown in Cleveland, Ohio
- 7/26 Raw in Kansas City, Mo.
- 8/2 Raw in Chicago, Ill.
- 8/6 Smackdown in Tampa, Fla.
- 8/9 Raw in Orlando, Fla.
After several more minutes of back and forth action, Nikki rolled up Asuka with an inside cradle for a two count. Asuka went for an Asuka Lock, but Cross escaped and leveraged Asuka’s shoulders down for the win.
WINNER: Nikki in 13:00.
-The announcers commented on a replay of Riddle pining A.J. Styles last week.
-Sarah Schreiber interviewed The Viking Raiders about facing Styles and Omos in singles matches tonight. Ivar said Styles has insulted their way of life. He said Vikings are some of the most amazing, rugged people on the face of the planet “and we have spectacular and excellent hygiene.” He said Styles will learn to respect Viking culture after he gives him a phenomenal beating. Erik said he has the very tall task of facing Omos. He said he will use Omos’s inexperience to find the crack in his armor. They vowed to win the Raw Tag Team Titles next week. They began chanting “Raid!” and left.
-Styles and Omos made their ring entrance. [c]
-Styles and Omos stood mid-ring. Styles paced as his music faded. He said before they put on a clinic, he had something to get off his chest. He admitted he said some things about the Vikings they may have found offensive, so he apologized. He said he shouldn’t have called them barbarians. “What I should have said is you’re hairy barbarians, uneducated, salmonella poison infested, never should have gotten off your wooden boat to come after the Raw Tag Team Champions.” Styles said they cost him an opportunity to enter the Money in the Bank ladder match. He said he’s going to take Ivar’s leg and break it in the Calf Crusher. He said he will tap to the Calf Crusher. He said after that, Omos will have his first-ever singles match where he will destroy Erik so badly that Erik will wish he never took off his “ridiculous horn helmet.” He said at Money in the Bank they will go on to destroy the Viking Raiders after that and show everybody why they are the Raw Tag Team Champions.
-The Viking Raiders’ music played and they made their way to the ring.
(3) A.J. STYLES vs. IVAR
Graves touted Ivar’s agility. Omos distracted Ivar a couple minutes into the match, which gave Styles an opening to take control with a kick from behind. Styles landed a DDT and scored a two count. A graphic advertised Rhea Ripley vs. Natalya later. Ivar came back with a crossbody splash. He cartwheeled out of a Styles attack and scored a two count after a lariat. The announcers continued to tout Ivar’s agility for a man his size. Styles sunset-flipped Ivar, but Ivar quickly powered out. Styles landed a Pelé kick, sending Ivar stumbling into the corner. Ivar, though, caught a charging Styles with his legs and powered him down and leveraged his shoulders for a three count. The announcers said if that happens Sunday, they’ll have new tag team champions.
WINNER: Ivar in 4:00. [c]
(4) OMOS vs. ERIK
Graves said he’s known Erik for many years and he’s never known him to experience anything resembling fear. Erik went for an early back suplex, but Omos didn’t budge and then he easily tossed Erik aside. Omos picked Erik up onto his shoulders. Erik slipped free and kicked his leg. Omos no-sold it. He then put Erik in a bearhug mid-ring. Graves talked about all the wisdom Styles has able to pass along to Omos. Omos cut off an Erik rally with a clothesline. He let out a big yell, then lifted Erik by his skull with two hands and slammed him hard to the mat for the three count. Smith called it “frightening.”
WINNER: Omos in 3:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Omos set the bar very low with his first in-ring performances, but this definitely surpassed it. He seemed relatively confident with the few things he was asked to do, and that is a genuine step up.)
-Smith discussed Humberto Carrillo breaking Sheamus’s nose. They showed a replay and Sheamus in the hospital afterward.
-Backstage, Sheamus complained to Adam Pearce and Sonya Deville about forcing him to wrestle or relinquish his title. He said he is there and ready. Sonya asked, “So, are we all on the same page now.”
-Saxton plugged Sheamus vs. Humberto for the U.S. Title was up next. [c]
-They replayed Lashley losing to Xavier and then his despondent look as he left the ring.
-New Day congratulated Lucha House Party for their win over Mace & T-Bar last week. They fist-bumped. Then Schreiber approached Kofi and asked if Xavier’s win is a sign of things to come Sunday. Kofi sang that Xavier beat Lashley. Schreiber said she just received word that Lashley has returned to ThunderDome to appear on the MVP Lounge later. Xavier asked why he’s back in the building after he lost to “the video game guy.” He predicted Kofi will also pin him on Sunday. Kofi said when he was WWE Champion, he took on all comers because that’s what the WWE Universe deserves, and those days are about to be upon everyone again. He said he’ll beat Lashley in front of a live audience on Sunday.
(Keller’s Analysis: Nice, spirited babyface promo celebrating the upset earlier and predicting victory on Sunday, while also underlining why Kofi thinks he’ll be a better champion than Lashley has been.)
-A video package aired on the history of the Money in the Bank ladder match narrated by Graves.
(Keller’s Analysis: That was nicely done.)
-They went to the announcers at ringside, but they cut away to Sheamus attacking Humberto backstage. He threw him into things that made a lot of noise. Sheamus bent over and told Humberto he better get ready for his big U.S. Title match. Damian Priest shot Sheamus a dirty look as he walked by him to check on Humberto. [c]
-They replayed Sheamus attacking Humberto. Graves wondered what kind of condition he would be in for his match.
-As Sheamus made his ring entrance, Graves said Sheamus will get a little underhanded from time to time because the U.S. Title means more to him than anything else and he do whatever it takes to keep it.
-Backstage Pearce and Deville tried to say Humberto isn’t in condition to wrestle and they could delay his match. Humberto said he has been waiting months already, and if he can stand, he can fight. Humberto then made his way to the ring whole holding his neck in pain. Graves said he was making a mistake.
(5) SHEAMUS vs. HUMBERTO CARRILLO – U.S. Title match
After formal ring introductions, the bell rang and Humberto collapsed. Sheamus then gave him a Brogue Kick as soon as he got back to his feet for the three count.
WINNER: Humberto in 10 seconds to retain the U.S. Title.
-Sheamus gingerly adjusted his face mask afterward. He then returned to the ring and stomped away at Humberto. He said he wanted to break his nose. He stood on Humberto hair and was about to stomp on his nose when Priest ran out for the save. Sheamus bailed out.
(Keller’s Analysis: I’m wondering if Sheamus isn’t medically cleared, so he couldn’t have a full-fledged match, so they decided to do this to keep the feud going and set up a match later. It also set up Priest for a future feud with Sheamus.)
-Saxton commented on clips of recent action between John Morrison and Ricochet.
-Backstage Ricochet was warming up when Riddle rode up behind him on his scooter. Ricochet said he is excited for this Sunday. Riddle said he’s so excited, he’s going to make his world famous Western spaghetti burrito. He said he’ll also watch his favorite Western movie, “Toy Story.” He brought up Randy Orton and said he misses him. When Riddle fantasized about cashing in the MITB briefcase and winning the tag team titles as a surprise for Orton. Ricochet said it’d be tough to surprise Orton because he’d have to be at ringside. Morrison showed up pushing Miz in his wheelchair. They sprayed Ricochet and Riddle, then rolled over Riddle’s feet with the wheel chair.
-Morrison’s ring entrance then took place. [c]
(6) JOHN MORRISON (w/Miz) vs. RICOCHET – Falls Count Anywhere
As Ricochet made his entrance, they showed a graphic of everyone in the Men’s MITB match.
Several minutes in, Ricochet leaped off the ringside barricade with a 450 splash for a near fall on Morrison on the floor. Smith said, “Are you kidding me?!” Ricochet then leaped off the top rope with a shooting star press onto Morrison. Saxton asked, “Are you kidding me?!” They cut abruptly to a break. [c]
They replayed Ricochet’s shooting star press after the break. Morrison hid behind Miz’s wheelchair, so after complaining, Ricochet landed a running flip dive over the top rope and over Miz anyway for a two count on the floor. They brawled onto the stage and then to the back. Miz wheeled himself up the ramp in labored fashion. Morrison kneed Ricochet on the side of his head and scored a two count in the room behind the entrance stage. He then threw Ricochet back onto the stage where Miz was waiting.
Miz yelled at Ricochet to leave Morrison alone. Morrison turned and shoved MIz down the ramp toward Morrison. Ricochet then leaped onto Morrison on the ramp. Miz then sprayed Morrison on the ring apron with the Drip Stick. Morrison rolled up a DISTRACTED Miz for a near fall, putting his feet on the ropes for extra leverage. He scored another two count seconds later. Riddle rolled down the ramp on his scooter and gently tipped Miz backwards on his wheelchair, then made fun of his flailing around. Ricochet then landed a Recoil. He followed with a running kick, sending Morrison onto a ladder bridged at ringside. Ricochet then landed a top rope splash onto Morrison and the ladder. The ladder broke and Ricohcet made the cover for the win. “Are you kidding me?!” asked Smith.
WINNER: Ricochet in 16:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Exciting, athletic match with several memorable spotlight moments for Ricochet.)
-Schreiber asked Natalya, who was chatting with Tamina backstage, what she hopes to prove against Rhea Ripley later. Natalya said she’s aiming to hold the Women’s Tag Team Titles, the Raw Women’s Title, and the Smackdown Women’s Title. She said when she wins MITB, she’s one step closer. Tamina complained about Mandy Rose and Dana Brooke making a ton of noise in the maie-up area backstage. They walked over to them. Mandy said she doesn’t love her chances of becoming Miss Money in the Bank or beating Ripley tonight. Brooke said she doesn’t like their odds of remaining champions either. Tamina said she loves the idea of kicking their teeth down their throats. Rose asked, “What’s stopping you?” Tamina said she’s so cute acting so tough. Tamina shoved Rose, then left. [c]
-They replayed the Drew-Jinder angle from earlier.
-Backstage, Patrick interviewed Drew. Drew said he foiled Jinder’s plan, but he’s got bigger things on his mind. He said Sunday’s MITB match might be his last chance to climb to the top of the mountain. He said he’s a 6-5 fire-breathing Scottish dragon. He got fired up and said nothing will stop him from becoming Mr. Money in the Bank on Sunday.
-The announcers hyped the Money in the Bank line-up.
-Clips aired of last week’s angle between Charlotte Flair and Ripley involving crutches.
-Backstage, Schreiber interviewed Ripley about accepting this match tonight against Natalya so soon before MITB. Ripley said she doesn’t back down from a challenge. She said on Sunday, Charlotte won’t have a crutch to hide behind and she’s already exposed her for being a drama queen. She said she’ll give her real reasons to have crutches after Sunday’s title match.
-Ripley’s ring entrance took place. [c]
(7) RHEA RIPLEY vs. NATALYA (w/Tamina)
After a nice opening couple minutes of mat exchanges, Ripley downed Natalya with a headbutt. Natalya blocked a Riptide and then went for a quick sharpshooter. Ripley kicked Natlaya out of the ring. Ripley charged, but dropkicked Tamina instead of Natalya by mistake. Natalya then hit Ripley with a discus clothesline. With both down, they cut to a break. [c]
Back from the break, Ripley landed a top rope dropkick. Natalya came back with a sitout powerbomb out of the corner and scored a near fall. She went for another sharpshooter, but Ripley blocked it. She then applied a standing leglock. Natalya turned it into a Magistral cradle for a near fall. Natalya applied a sharpshooter mid-ring seconds later. Ripley yelled out in pain, but powered out of it, sending Natalya backwards into the corner with force. Ripley then upkicked Natlaya and delivered Rip Tide for the win. Natalya appeared to be checking her teeth after the upkick.
WINNER: Ripley in 10:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Good match.)
-Charlotte attacked Ripley as she was celebrating her win. She applied a figure-four and hung off the ring apron for extra leverage. She released it and gloated as Ripley pounded the mat in frustration.
-Graves commented on a replay of Lashley losing earlier.
-Backstage MVP told the five women to be sure to boost Lashley’s mood with a back rub if he wants one and be cheerful and encouraging. [c]
-Schreiber interviewed Charlotte backstage. Charlotte said she learned from the dirtiest player in the game, and fans will learn on Sunday that it’s game over for Ripley.
-VIP Lounge: MVP introduced the segment as the women danced cheerfully behind him. He said this is a big moment, because it’s the end of the ThunderDome. He said it should be known as the Lashley Dome given it was the site of his rise. It took a few introductions, but Lashley finally did come out. He looked disheveled. He told MVP he wanted the women out of the ring. He said Kofi was right that MVP caused him to get soft and lose his focus. He said h eshould have dismantled Xavier. He said he’s furious, and MVP is trying to cheer him up with champagne and women. He said he appreciates everything MVP has done for him, but the bullshit has to stop now. He said he wants to destroy every single soul who tries to step up for his WWE Title. He tore apart the VIP Lounge. He picked up the love seat and tossed it over the top rope. (Wow!) He threw broken table legs and other set pieces out of the ring aggressively. MVP looked crestfallen and concerned. Lashley picked up the mic and addressed Kofi via the hard camera. He said he’s going to enter Sunday as the WWE Champion and leave as the WWE Champion. He told him to bring his family and friends so they can watch him dismantle him. He said he hopes Kofi is ready to fight for his life. “I’m going to cave your skull in and wring your little neck and fold you into a little box and send you to the circus.” He said his career ends on Sunday.
(Keller’s Analysis: Lashley is kind of secretly the best babyface in WWE. He a little overly viscous in his threats against Kofi, but otherwise he’s an intense “does what he says he’s going to do” wrestler that could easily be a top babyface act.)
FINAL THOUGHTS: They acknowledged it was the end of the ThunderDome, but they sure didn’t celebrate the era