7/19 WWE MONDAY NIGHT RAW REPORT: Hazelwood’s alt-perspective on Cena’s return promo to start the show, MITB fallout, what’s next for Lashley, Flair, Ripley, A.S.H., more

BY BRUCE LEE HAZELWOOD, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR


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WWE MONDAY NIGHT RAW TV REPORT
JULY 19, 2021
DALLAS, TX. IN AMERICAN AIRLINES CENTER
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): Kevin Patrick, Sarah Schreiber 

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(Hazelwood’s Take: It’s been obvious the return of a live audience made Smackdown three nights ago and Money in the Bank last night much more exciting. I’m hoping that carries over to Monday nights, which have been subpar compared to its counterpart on Friday nights. The good news is last night’s pay-per-view had memorable moments, helped in part by the fans, culminating in John Cena’s return to confront Universal Champion Roman Reigns. Interestingly, even though Reigns is on Smackdown, Cena is set to start tonight’s episode of Raw to explain his reasons for returning now and targeting Reigns. Cena’s pop last night rivaled his return at the 2008 Royal Rumble, so it seems like a case of absence making the heart grow fonder.)

[HOUR ONE]

-They began with a wide shot of the crowd in Dallas, then John Cena’s music hit to a loud pop with very few boos. He went and posed with his shirt and towel with an adult, who was decked in both. He ran to the ring as Mike Rome introduced Cena.

JOHN CENA IN-RING PROMO

He said he still seen people filing in, so hurry on in. He said there’s a young man who just turned 11 in the audience who came tonight to see John Cena. Cena said he came here tonight to see “you, damn I missed you, and I missed this.” He paused as a “Welcome back” chant started, mixed with some other few chants. He said they’re all mixed together, but they’re all loud and they’re all here together. He said the biggest superstar in the WWE is the WWE Universe and he said everyone tonight knows what he’s talking about because it is deafening loud (he held the mic up), tonight is electric, tonight is “Monday Night Raw...from Dallas, TX!”

He said tonight is a team effort and that he knows what everyone is thinking: yes, he will wear the Beastmaker to his premiere, and yes, he showed up and ruined the championship celebration of Roman Reigns. He said Reigns was angry, Paul Heyman was confused, Michael Cole was excited, and Pat McAfee still couldn’t see him. He said to the questions, the people who brought him back to the WWE was the fans, and he said it was an easy answer. He said finally, we can congregate and enjoy this. He said it was the fans, but also Reigns who brought him back.

He said that brought him to the “what,” and that’s the Universal Championship. He looked at his non-existent watch on his wrist, said SummerSlam and Las Vegas for the when and where, but on the why, he said he could talk about the pageantry, the history-making record-breaking 17th title win, but it’s not because of any of that: “It’s because Roman Reigns is an asshole.” They bleeped out the whole sentence, but you could read his lips.

He said he believes Reigns needs to be knocked down a peg. He said this pathetic Reigns experience has gone on long enough. He said Reigns is an arrogant, self-absorbed, overhyped, overconfident, overexposed gimmick that isn’t as over as he says he is, “And that, that is coming from me.” He said there’s a saying that if you’re good, you’ll tell everybody and have them acknowledge you. He brought up that team effort again and asked for the fans to make noise, pitting sections against each other, then said the rest of the saying is that if you’re great, they tell you. He said he’s telling Reigns now he’ll be at Smackdown on Friday.

Riddle’s music hit as he interrupted, seemingly to Cena’s amusement, and Riddle rode to the ring on his scooter. Cena said, dude, I finally get it, then they said bro back-and-forth in different tones and cadences and lengths. It was a bit cringe for my taste. Cena dapped him up and left as Riddle’s music played. Jimmy Smith hyped a six-man tag match next. They cut to break. [c]

(Hazelwood’s Take: That’s what you expect from Cena on the mic. He laid out everything from what/who prompted his return to stating a definitive mission statement. It’s still odd they had him on Raw to hype Smackdown, but they know Cena draws eyes/viewers, so might as well get that ratings bump. Riddle gets the huge rub, but that moment wasn’t for me. Good for Riddle.)

-They returned Bobby Lashley’s Open Challenge for tonight, then Charlotte Flair’s Championship Coronation. They cut back to the ring where The Miz & John Morrison entered, with The Miz spraying the Drip Stick everywhere and the other teams in the ring. The Tag Team Champion didn’t even get entrances. Morrison went to Rome and instructed him to introduce him as “America’s Moist Wanted.”

(1) RIDDLE & THE VIKING RAIDERS (Erik & Ivar) vs. A.J. STYLES & OMOS & JOHN MORRISON – Six-man tag team match

Styles and Riddle began with Styles hitting a shoulder tackle off of a rope run, but ate a chest kick and a backbody drop off of another one. Morrison and Omos argued over the tag, but Styles tagged in Morrison. Morrison went for a single-leg, then used a leg trip that Riddle turned into an omoplata! Wow, that was smooth. Morrison turned it into a sunset flip that Riddle slipped out of, but Riddle ate strikes. He responded with some of his own, then flipped off of the corner turnbuckle and into a gutwrench for a two-count.

Ivar tagged in, then Erik, and Ivar threw Morrison into Erik’s knee. Erik worked Morrison in their corner, then tagged in Ivar who hit a bodyslam, then was bodyslammed by his partner onto Morrison for a two-count. Riddle tagged in, but ate a body kick that allowed Morrison to tag in Styles. Riddle kicked Styles, but ate a kick from Morrison. Morrison sent both Erik & Ivar outside as they rushed him, then they countered a plancha attempt and gave him a human sandwich. Omos then tossed a running Styles over the ropes and onto everyone as they cut to break. [c]

They returned with Riddle in a nerve hold from Omos, who just tossed Riddle aside and stomped on his gut. He sent Riddle into the corner and hit a running tackle; Riddle just faceplanted. Styles tagged in, applying a front facelock and then into a snap brainbuster for a two-count. Morrison tagged in and hit a flurry of kicks, but Riddle caught one and hit a head kick. Morrison then suddenly flipped over into a chancery submission, but Riddle made it to his knees to help with the leverage. He fought to his feet and hit Final Flash, but that sent Morrison into their corner.

Styles tagged in, but Riddle slipped out and tagged in Erik. Styles hit his combo of standing strikes, but the spinning backfist was blocked by Erik. He faked out Styles, then hit a big running Busiaku Knee-esque maneuver. He then flipped Styles over and hit a big lifting knee, but Styles responded with the Pele Kick. Ivar and Morrison tagged in, with both performing some agility moves.

Ivar cartwheeled around a Morrison kick, then hit a big clothesline. He signaled for his running Bronco Buster, and he hit. He climbed to the second, no, the third rope, and missed a big moonsault as Morrison moved. He hit a running knee, then missed Starship Pain as Ivar moved! What a sequence.

Suddenly, Riddle took the Drip Stick, sprayed Omos, then tossed it to The Miz. The Miz tried wheeling away, Morrison tried getting in the way, but Omos just tossed Morrison into the ring through the second rope. Styles went to calm down Omos, but Erik tagged in and they hit The Viking Experience on Morrison for the victory. Riddle did the “War” pose and chant with them to celebrate after.

WINNER: Riddle & The Viking Raiders at 12:05 (The Viking Experience)

-They cut to a closeup of Jaxson Ryker, who just glared at the camera. They cut to replays of the strap match three weeks ago against Elias, then cut back to him (his reaction was mixed I think). He smirked, then said wait until you see what he does to Elias tonight. They cut to break saying the match is next. [c]

(Hazelwood’s Take: I’m kind of miffed that the Tag Team Champion didn’t even get an entrance; hell, they didn’t even get an introduction on TV. Still, that was a fast-paced match. I could have done without the Riddle shenanigans at the end, and if I’m Omos, why in the hell would The Miz try to spray me? It makes no sense. Why not look around to see if there was another explanation? They hyped another rematch with The Viking Raiders, but I don’t know how many people are intrigued by this feud.)

-They returned with images of Dallas, including their various sports teams/arenas, and a graphic about Dallas hosting WrestleMania next year.

-Elias was in the ring and strummed, doing his usual introduction. He played a few nots and said there is a truth that will last “for forever,” and that it’s a truth we all know in our hearts, and that’s WWE stands for (the crowd chanted) “Walk with Elias.” He said you still remember. Suddenly, Ryker coughed in an “ahem” manner on the Tron and said Elias was interrupted like he always is. He said people were sick of hearing Elias talk over and over again, and that’s why after tonight, we’ll never hear the words, “Hello, I am Elias,” again. He entered to some country rock(?).

(2) ELIAS vs. JAXSON RYKER – Symphony of Destruction match (falls count anywhere)

Ryker immediately dropped Elias, then hit a chop and slammed Elias into the corner. He sent Elias off of the ropes, but Elias kicked Ryker and sent him outside. Elias went outside, but Ryker got to him and grabbed a keyboard. He jabbed Elias in the gut, then smashed him across the back for a one-count (falls count anywhere). Elias grabbed a drum cymbal and used the stand to hit Ryker. Ryker fought back and threw Elias into the drum set, then banged his head off of the bass drum.

Ryker grabbed a guitar, climbed to the apron, then leaped off only to be hit with a flying knee from Elias for a two-count. Elias grabbed the keyboard and slammed it across Ryker’s back, returning the favor, but Ryker sidestepped Elias as he rushed at him and Elias ran head-first into the gong; what’s a Symphony of Destruction match with no gong? Ryker grabbed a guitar, kicked Elias in the gut, then broke the guitar over Elias’ back as they cut to break. [c]

(Hazelwood’s Take: I get that Symphony of Destruction is Eilas’ “signature” match, but it seems like every feud on raw needs to end in a gimmick match of sorts.)

Elias was attempting a piledriver on the apron as they returned, but Ryker fought it off. There were two tables set at ringside. They entered the ring, and Elias hit Ryker in the gut with I think a trumpet, then hit a running back elbow (I used to play trumpet in my youth). Elias and Ryker began trading blows with Elias getting the better of it and sending Ryker outside.

Elias followed and attempted to ram Ryker into the ring post, but Ryker reversed and sent Elias into the post instead. He grabbed the guitar he dropped earlier after the flying kneed, but before he could use it, Ryker threw parts of the drum set at Ryker, which only seemed to anger him more. He took the snare drum and dropped it across Elias’ back. He tried bashing Elias into the grand piano, but Elias countered and rammed Ryker’s head onto the piano. Elias rushed at Ryker, but Ryker turned it into basically a spinebuster onto the piano, covering him for a two-count on the piano.

Still on the piano, they traded punches to the head, then a chop from Elias. They traded more blows, Elias getting the better and trying for a Death Valley Driver, but Ryker slipped out and pushed Elias off of the piano. Elias grabbed Ryker’s foot and forced him to flatback on the piano for another two-count. Elias then threw Ryker to the steps, but Ryker either jumped over or sold it like Elias threw him over.

The crowd cheered as Elias grabbed the cello (what Corey Graves said), but I think it was a bass (maybe it was too small?), then slammed it across Ryker’s back twice to destroy it. Ryker kicked out at two. Elias then set Ryker against the ring post/ring steps, and began raining down forearms that seated Ryker. He tossed Ryker back in the ring, then climbed to the top rope. Ryker met him there and forced him to the apron.

Ryker climbed to the second rope, but Elias pushed him off. He met Elias again on the turnbuckle, but Elias was on the apron. Ryker looked at the tables, then dropped to the ring and beat on Elias a bit. Ryker walked to the apron, then climbed the second turnbuckle and lifted Elias into a superplex to the floor, through the tables for the victory. The crowd seemd excited. Elias was bleeding from his head after, I think hardway. They showed replays after.

WINNER: Jaxson Ryker at 12:41 (superplex to the outside through two tables)

-They cut to the back where Adam Pearce & Sonya Deville were talking to Mansoor. Mustafa Ali walked in, wearing a nice suit, then said they took their request for Mansoor and him to tag next week. Ali was perplexed and angry, saying he never made a request. Mansoor said he’s been thinking a lot about what Ali’s been saying and made the request. Ali said this one time.

Sheamus showed up and complained about having to wrestle last week with a broken nose (all 10 seconds of it). Pearce said it wasn’t a defense; he attacked Humberto Carrillo before the match. Deville said things are earned here and said it only makes sense for Carrillo to get another match. Sheamus said it’s like talking to a brick wall and not to be surprised if Carrillo needs a mask after the match. They cut to break hyping Flair’s coronation at the top of the hour. [c]

-They returned hyping Lashley’s Open Challenge, with his music playing in the background.

-Flair’s music hit, mostly to boos that continued as she made her entrance. Rome introduced has her an 11-time Women’s Champion. Jimmy Smith said you can cheer, you can boo, but she loves it all. Flair did the MJF fakeout to a fan and laughed about it as she entered the ring. Graves summarized last night’s match as they were split-screen with photos of the match.

[HOUR TWO]

CHARLOTTE FLAIR’S “CHAMPIONSHIP CORONATION”

She said this feels good as she looked around at the fans. She said she’s so proud to be standing there as “your Queen” and new Women’s Champion. She said the last year plus hasn’t been kind to us, but from adversity comes opportunity, and she is the opportunity. She said she is the opportunity all the fans have been asking for. She said Rhea Ripley is an opportunist, and the difference between being an opportunist and the opportunity is she doesn’t have to take from anyone’s playbook because she is the original.

She said Ripley can copy her all she wants, but Ripley isn’t the original. She said check the #CharlotteFlair and wouldn’t believe the outpouring of support. A “Becky” chant started, so Flair said, yes, Lynch is back home breastfeeding while she’s here anchoring the division. She went back to discussing the outpouring of support. She said she’s a one-time Divas Champion, five-time Smackdown Champion, and five-time Raw Champion, making her the only 11-time Women’s Champion. She said she could beat Ripley any day of the week. Ripley’s music hit.

Ripley entered, walking with a determined solemnness after her loss last night, and an aggrieved look on her face. It became a glare as she got closer to the ring. She took a mic before entering the ring. She didn’t do her apron pose. She glared at Flair, then a “Rhea” chant started. She said if Flair thinks that she can beat her any day of the week, then why not tonight? Flair said Ripley is in no condition to challenge her after the knee damage from last night, and said she was in the corner whining like a little girl about her knee. Flair declined.

Pearce & Deville walked to the stage and said hold on. Deville said first thing, congratulations to Flair on becoming an 11-time Women’s Champion. She also said Flair just said she could beat Ripley any night of the week. Pearce said if Ripley is up to the challenge, and she just said she was, then so should Flair. He made it official for the Women’s Championship. Flair then kicked the left knee of Ripley, the knee locked into the Figure Eight last night. Flair exited the ring, picked up her lost high heel, then walked away glaring at Pearce & Deville. Graves said it was for the main event.

-Smith then shifted to a highlight package from last night’s women’s Money in the Bank ladder match that was a mix of video and still shots. A lot of time was focused on Bliss and her eventual burials under ladders. They then showed Nikki A.S.H. climbing over her competitors to grab the briefcase and win.

-They showed Alexa Bliss hyping “Alexa’s Playground” with a special guest, I’m thinking A.S.H.

-Natalya & Tamina made their entrance for their match against Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler. They cut to break with a Liberty Mutual package on Natalya & Tamina. [c]

(Hazelwood’s Take: I was concerned Flair was going to revert to her Queen gimmick, but she held that back apart from the intro to her promo. The “any day of the week” signaled a title match tonight. I do like that Flair brought up the compromised knee, and it’s like one of those athletes pushing through injury for a chance at glory…usually to their future detriment. I know this is kayfabe, but it is a believable story if they want to touch on history later. I also hope this will be the last match between the two for many. many months.)

(3) NATALYA & TAMINA vs. NIA JAX & SHAYNA BASZLER (w/Reginald) – Tag team matc

They returned with the match already in progress, so match time will be from this moment forward. Baszler missed a kicked and was sent outside, clutching the back of her head. Jax cutoff Tamina, taking her to the floor and hitting a Samoan Drop into the barricade. Back in the ring, Baszler tagged in Jax, and they hit a double team sidewalk slam/throw with a running knee for a two-count.

Baszler then stood on Natalya’s head, then the left hand as she stomped on the left elbow of Natalya to boos. Jax tagged in, but took too much time and ran into the post shoulder-first. Natalya hit a few clotheslines, then floored Jax with her Nattie by Nature discus clothesline for a two-count. Jax just dropped Natalya on the feet and tagged in Baszler.

Baszler taunted Natalya, but Natalya forced her into their corner where Tamina tagged in to no reaction. Tamina hit Jax with a superkick, missing Baszler, allowing Baszler to roll her up for a two-count. Tamina hit some strikes and a bodyslam, then climbed for the splash. Reginald distracted her, which allowed Baszler to hit a lifting knee. Natalya grabbed Reginald, distracting Baszler, who got hit by a Tamina superkick for the defeat.

WINNER: Natalya & Tamina at 3:44 televised (superkick)

-After the match, Baszler argued with Jax & Reginald, saying she was sick of this, they used to be unstoppable. She pointed at Reginald and said you know it’s him. A “Shayna” chant started. Suddenly, Jax headbutted Reginald, who didn’t really sell it, as the two left the ring. The crowd chanted “Reggie sucks,” as the 24/7 crew made their way and tripped over each other. Akira Tozawa was in the ring, then ate a twisting crossbody from Reginald, who landed a somersault seated senton onto Tozawa to win the 24/7 Championship! He realized he was being chased, then escaped acrobatically before strapping the title around his waist and doing some back handsprings to celebrate.

-Smith then shifted to recapping last week’s events between Sheamus and Carrillo, including his quick title defense and attack after the match that was stopped by Damian Priest. Sheamus’ music hit with a new “Fight Night” 3D graphic. Rome introduced it as a “Championship Contender’s Match,” more words to say “#1 contender,” as they cut to break. [c]

-They returned with Graves confirming that the defending NXT Champion will make his Raw debut tonight! Wow, unexpected, and the crowd popped pretty good for him.

(4) SHEAMUS (c) vs. HUMBERTO CARRILLO – Non-title Championship Contender’s match

Carrillo entered looking determined as they replayed this sordid saga. Sheamus rushed Carrillo as the bell rung, but Carrillo used his quickness and agility to send Sheamus to the outside. Sheamus complained to the ref from the outside about his mask, allowing Carrillo to hit a dropkick through the ropes and a springboard plancha. Back in the ring, Sheamus met Carrillo with a knee. Sheamus then tried suplexing Carrillo from the apron into the ring, but Carrillo fought back. He brought Sheamus down across the rope neck-first, then hit a top rope crossbody for a one-count. He immediately threw some ugly, realistic looking shots to Sheamus’ back.

Sheamus was on his knees in the corner and ate three stiff chest kicks as they showed Priest watching backstage. Carrillo then grabbed at and tried to tug at the mask as Byron Saxton said he has no sympathy for Sheamus. Sheamus went outside, then struck Carrillo with a forearm as his opponent tried to hit a tope. He then lifted and powerbombed Carrillo on the apron. yelling, “Are you not entertained?” as they cut to break. [c]

Sheamus had Carrillo in an armlock as they returned, wrenching on the face with one of his hands. Carrillo fought to his feet and punched Sheamus, but at an Irish Curse as he came off of the ropes. Sheamus then fishooked both sides of Carrillo’s mouth for the Dublin Smile as they cut back to Priest watching. Sheamus then set Carrillo for the Ten Beats of the Bodhran, hitting four and then a stiff shot to the back to send Carrillo crumpling to the mat.

Sheamus had some nasty red hand marks across his chest. Sheamus went for the Dublin Smile again, but Carrillo bit his fingers. Carrillo fought back, hitting a nice leaping spinning head kick, but then was flattened with a double boot out of the corner. Sheamus was sitting on the second rope, getting feeling back into his arm, but then ate a rana from Carrillo. Sheamus was sent outside, then Carrillo hit a tope head-first to Sheamus, who crashed over the announce desk.

Carrillo rolled Sheamus back in and climbed to the top rope. Carrillo set and hit a missile dropkick right to the left shoulder/chest of Sheamus for a two-count with a nonchalant cover. Carrillo went back to attacking Sheamus with a bevy of strikes, but he punched the facemask! Sheamus then headbutted Carrillo with the facemask, followed by the Brogue for the win. Graves said, “You can count to 13,” as Smith exclaimed, “It’s steel! I touched it, it’s steel!”

WINNER: Sheamus at 10:13 (Brogue Kick)

-Smith then shifted to a recap package from last night’s WWE Championship match between Lashley and Kofi Kingston, which was essentially a methodical and brutal squash for Lashley. He landed several of his old finisher, The Dominator, before forcing Kingston to tap to The Hurt Lock. This package had no still shots; it was that much of a squash. The gold lighting struck, the dope ass Tron intro played, and the “All Mighty” WWE Champion Bobby Lashley made his entrance with M.V.P., looking confident and determined for this open challenge. They cut to break. [c]

(Hazelwood’s Take: They’ve had great matches, but now it’s time to put the Sheamus-Carrillo to rest. They can come back to it later. Carrillo showed a lot in this feud, particularly in his dogged determination. I think he has midcard face champion potential. I now look forward to Sheamus vs. Priest in what should be a series of hard-hitting, intense matches, which every Sheamus match seems to be anyway.)

-They returned with Lashley in the ring. He had a mic and paced the ring. He said he did all the talking he needs to do in the ring last night when he destroyed Kingston. He said no more talking, P tell them what’s up. M.V.P. took the mic and said aren’t they all so luck to be here live and in-person to bear witness to the All Mighty WWE Champion. He received a mix of cheers and boos, mostly boos. He said hold up, this is the home of the Cowboys and understands why they reacted as such since it’s been decades since they’ve seen a winner.

He said Lashley made a statement at the expense of Kingston. He said over the past few weeks, Kingston said some harsh and disrespectful things to he and the champ, like that Lashley had gone soft. He said Kingston forced him to reluctantly reflect, and that Kingston was right: Lashley had gone soft. Lashley looked at him like, “What?” M.V.P. said it was his fault, not Lashley’s, then said anyone who challenges Lashley faces utter decimation and annihilation.

He said he feels sorry for the roster as that little window where Lashley was vulnerable is closed forever, and no one will take the title from him. He said no more women, no more champagne, no more fun and games, no more bullshit. They’re back to business. He said Lashley is the most dominating WWE Champion in the history of this company. Lashley took the mic and asked who’s it going to be to accept to Open Challenge. After a pause. it was Keith Lee! They cut to break hyping Lee’s return in his home state; he got a big pop.

(Hazelwood’s Take: KEITH LEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE. Raw is once again “Limitless.”)

-They returned with an official graphic for Flair vs. Ripley tonight.

(5) BOBBY LASHLEY (w/M.V.P.) vs. KEITH LEE – Open Challenge Championship Contender’s match

The crowd started chanting for Lee as they locked up. Lashley forced Lee into a corner, but Lee fought out and they broke in the middle of the ring. They locked up again, with Lashley feigning a clean break only to hit a discus punch. He started laying in shots to Lee, but Lee just lifted and forced Lashley into the corner across the ring, then did the same to the opposite corner.

[HOUR THREE]

As he rushed the corner, Lashley hit a back elbow. Lee then leapfrogged a running Lashley, dropped down, and hit a running crossbody to Lashley. Lee tried lifting Lashley, but Lashley fought out. Lee tried for the Sprit Bomb, but Lashley hit a flatliner as he escaped.

He laid Lee across the second rope and choked him. He then put Lee in a corner and rained down punches. Lashley hit a rope run and shoulder tackle to Lee in the corner, then clotheslined Lee over the rope by the entrance ramp area. Lashley exited the ring in pursuit.

He tried lifting Lee on his shoulders, but Lee was too heavy and forced Lashley into the ring post. Lee then hit an avalanche to Lee against the post. Graves said Lee needed to show more urgency as he was distracted by M.V.P., allowing Lashley to knee him to the floor. Lashley exited the ring and ran around the ring, hitting a big spear to Lee on the outside. He looked to the crowd and posed with the “shh” gesture before rolling Lee back in the ring. Lee might have some ring rust.

Lashley posed standing above Lee for The Hurt Lock, but he couldn’t grasp his hands together around the girth of Lee. Lee strained his face before tossing Lashley over his shoulder. However, Lashley immediately hit his one-arm spinebuster, then the spear out of the corner to win. M.V.P. immediately entered and wrapped the title around Lashley’s waist. They showed replays after the match, putting over Lashley’s victory 24 hours after a title defense.

WINNER: Bobby Lashley at 5:50 (spear)

-Goldberg’s music hit to a HUGE pop. Lashley had blood coming out of his ear as he looked surprised. The crowd chanted Goldberg. He dapped up some kids on the way and entered the ring looking serious. M.V.P. looked concerned as Goldberg walked right up to Lashley and yelled, “I’M NEXT!” M.V.P. stepped between and prevented Lashley from attacking Big Old GB. They cut to break hyping the main event. [c]

(Hazelwood’s Take: I was excited to see Lee, but there were noticeable spots of miscommunication and rustiness. Also, what a way to diminish Lee’s return by having Goldberg return immediately after. I’m not excited for any Goldberg match, and I’m afraid this might turn into Goldberg-Lesnar from WrestleMania XX. Let’s hope not.)

-They returned with Lashley & M.V.P. in the back as Kevin Patrick appeared and asked about the appearance. M.V.P. said they won’t dignify that disrespect with a response and waked off.

JINDER MAHAL IN-RING PROMO

Mahal was in the ring with Sanky & Veer and said today…is…his birthday. He said it gets better as Drew McIntyre is not Mr. Money in the Bank. He said McIntyre took away his opportunities, so he took away McIntyre’s. He said this is how it started and showed how the three jumped McIntyre two weeks ago during their match so he could steal the sword. He then showed last week’s events with the broken replica and McIntyre tearing apart the chopper Mahal rode in on. He then said there’s your Scottish warrior, but as a believer in karma, it always comes around as he cut to last night when the three prevented McIntyre from grabbing the briefcase, taking him out of the match with repeated chair shots and then dragging him to the back.

Mahal said he can buy another 10 motorcycles, but McIntyre will never have another title opportunity as long as Lashley is champion. He said Shanky will now sing happy birthday to him. Shanky started singing, drawing heat. The crowd stood and saw that McIntyre had entered, possibly through the crowd, and bashed Mahal with a chair in the back. Shanky & Veer just look dumbfounded as McIntyre took out Veer with a gut shot. Shanky tried to talk sense into McIntyre, but McIntyre unloaded something like 10 to 15 shots across the back of Shanky. The crowd chanted one more time, but McIntyre threw the chair out, took off his black tanktop, then exited and grabbed another chair. Graves called the fans “this sanguineous crowd.” McIntyre bashed away as the crowd chanted along with every shot, 19, no 20 plus however many from earlier. Shanky just got his “welcome to the business kid” beat-in.

-Smith then shifted to introducing Kross. A vignette played, similar to his early debut ones in NXT, only this one interspersed with him hitting his Doomsday Saito, locking in The Kross Jacket, and hitting his forearm to the back of the neck. He stood alone at the entrance when they cut back to the arena. He had his arms crossed, then released as he slowly walked to the ring. He entered the ring, snarled, and posed as they cut to break hyping Kross vs. Jeff Hardy. [c]

-They returned hyping the main event Women’s Championship match again, saying it’s Ripley’s last opportunity.

-Kross was pacing in the ring with his music still going. Jeff Hardy’s music hit to a BIIIIGGG pop and they brought back “No More Words,” Hardy’s iconic intro music.

(6) KARRION KROSS (c) vs. JEFF HARDY – Non-title match

They locked up, with Kross hitting a big forearm after a Hardy rope run. Kross then hit an inverted teardrop suplex, then another before stomping on Hardy. He then hit a pumphandle overhead suplex, but then ran into the post shoulder-first as Hardy sidestepped. Hardy hit Twist of Fate, climbed to the top, but missed the Swanton as Kross rolled out of the way. The crowd was deflated.

Kross went for his forearm to the back of the head, but Hardy hit a go-behind. Kross rammed him into the corner, but Hardy rolled him up and used the ropes to win. Wow. Kross was in disbelief. They showed replays after and the commentators did nothing to criticize Hardy for using the ropes.

WINNER: Jeff Hardy at 1:41 (rollup using the ropes)

-In the ring, Patrick asked Kross about losing his debut match. Kross said Hardy just made the biggest mistake of his life…because in the end, everyone will fall and pray. He glared at Patrick, then exited the ring, seething. He grabbed his NXT Championship and huffed his way out.

ALEXA’S PLAYGROUND

Bliss welcomed fans and said she’s a little sore today, but that’s OK because she has a very, very special guest. She said fresh out of time out, it’s Lily! She chanted for Lily, then said the last time Lily was around things got a little out of hand, but she promised this time to be on her best behavior. Eva Marie & Doudrop entered and asked if this was a joke. Marie said she thought Doudrop throwing her around taught her a lesson…and Bliss was ignoring Marie, “the star.”

Bliss saw Doudrop and said hi. Then said if Marie insists on coming to her playground, it’s not a good idea to say mean things about Lily. Marie said like having Doudrop pick her up and throw her in the trash where she’s supposed to be. Bliss laughed then cut off, saying she shouldn’t do that. She then said she has an idea and put Doudrop in timeout so that Marie, the “biggest superstar in WWE,” can show us what she can do. Marie said she can’t stand being around either of them and that there’s no room in the Eva-Lution. She said let’s get out of here, then tripped. She looked shocked and ashamed. Bliss cackled.

-Smith hyped the Women’s Championship match next as they cut to break. [c]

(Hazelwood’s Take: What a way to make not only the NXT Champion, but by extension the entire NXT roster look weak, foolish, and dumb. Kross having to insert his tagline into his promo of nothingness didn’t help either. Why was it Hardy’s biggest mistake? Further, Kross hasn’t told us or we haven’t been informed on how “fall and pray” applies to him. If you watch NXT, it makes more sense, but we know that’s not the case with the majority of the Raw audience.)

-They returned with news of Styles & Omos defending next week against The Viking Raiders.

-Ripley’s music hit, and she also had new 3D graphics that I’m not as keen on as the Sheamus ones. They showed split-screen photos from last night’s match. Ripley did her full entrance, looking confident, but not really selling the knee too much. Flair entered in her now-normal white-black-red attire. Smith said Flair walks like she was born to wear championships. Rome gave formal ring introductions. They inexplicably cut to break after the introductions! [c]

-They returned with a Raw Talk promo featuring McIntyre, Bliss (w/Lily), and Reginald. They then hyped SummerSlam.

(7) CHARLOTTE FLAIR (c) vs. RHEA RIPLEY – Women’s Championship match

Flair was actually wearing black and purple, her robes were just the white-red-black. Ripley immediately lifted and slammed Flair, but Flair got the better on the feet. Flair missed a corner splash, then ate one from Ripley. Ripley hit a few shoulder thrusts to the gut, then whipped Flair into the corner. Flair flipped over, hit a shoulder to the knee through the ropes, then leaped in with an armdrag and held onto the arm. Ripley fought back, but Flair hit a gut knee.

Flair whipped Ripley in the corner, but Ripley exploded out and hit a dropkick, then applied a cavate. She hit a few knees, but Flair fought out and hit a few chops before ramming Ripley in the corner. Ripley countered a vertical suplex into an inside cradle for a two-count, but Flair slipped out of her suplex attempt. Ripley hit a go-behind then landed a German suplex with a release. She followed with a dropkick to a seated Flair for a two-count.

Flair countered a whip and sent Ripley into the corner, then clotheslined her over the top and to the floor. Ripley worked out the leg, but Flair kicked out her leg when Ripley hit the apron. Flair then exited the ring and sprinted into a chop block on Ripley. She rolled Ripley back in and the ref backed Flair off to check on Ripley’s knee as they cut to break. [c]

Flair had Ripley in the corner, working the left leg against the ropes as they returned. Graves said the medical team checked on Ripley and deemed her able to compete. Flair, like last night, looked for the Figure Four off the apron, but Ripley was fighting it so she just pounded at the knee. In the ring, Flair tried for the Figure Four, but Ripley kicked her into the turnbuckle and hit a belly-to-back.

They traded strikes on their feet, Ripley on one leg, but Ripley grabbed a hold of Flair’s arm and hit two short-arm clotheslines, then a superkick and a bridging Northern Lights for a two-count. Flair hit her modified STO backbreaker, then hit a big boot to floor Ripley. She climbed for her moonsault, but Ripley got the knees up (contact was light). Ripley pounded at her leg, rose to her feet, then applied the Figure Four to Flair, adding a wrench to the ankle along with it.

Flair reversed the pressure and Ripley immediately grabbed the bottom rope. Flair then stomped at Ripley, hit several chops into the corner, then ate a thrust kick and a side kick from Ripley. Ripley went for Riptide and hit to a big pop, but Flair got her foot on the rope! Ripley was frustrated and argued with the ref. She looked dejected as Flair grabbed her title and looked to escape with the count out defeat. Ripley chased after, but Flair hit her with the title to cause the DQ, but retain her title.

WINNER: Rhea Ripley at 12:20 (DQ); Charlotte Flair retains

Flair walked to the ring after the announcement and demanded that Rome still announce her as Women’s Champion. Rome said the title can only change hand by pinfall or submission, so Flair is still the champ. Suddenly, Ripley entered and Flair escaped to the outside, but Ripley hit the Riptide to Flair on the outside. A.S.H.’s music hit as she stormed to the ring

(8) CHARLOTTE FLAIR vs. NIKKI A.S.H. – Money in the Bank cash-in

A.S.H. immediately hit the top rope and hit a crossbody to win!

WINNER: Nikki A.S.H. at 0:10 to become NEW Women’s Champion

-The show ended with A.S.H. celebrating in the crowd like Cena after he won his first WWE Championship at WrestleMania 21.

(Hazelwood’s Take: Wow, they actually made A.S.H. the champion what, a month into debuting this character? Good for A.S.H., and it seems we’re well on our way to Flair breaking her father’s title record before 2021 is over. The match itself was fine, continuing the story from last night. The cash-in is going to be the big talking point coming out of tonight, as it should be. Now we see how they book A.S.H. as champion. Will it be a short or long reign? Will she lose more matches than she wins as champion? Will she have strong title defenses? There are many possibilities, and we’re just going to have go along for the ride.)

FINAL THOUGHTS: The crowd helped, that’s for sure, but there were still head-scratching decisions like Kross’ loss and the Ryker-Elias match. This crowd seemed more indicative of what I would expect for audiences in a few weeks: cheered when they liked something/someone, booed for the opposite, and at times, showed apathy. As for the wrestlers, Kross losing completely screws up any aura he may have had for his feud with Samoa Joe, Lee’s return was overshadowed by Goldberg’s, and we have another essential non-finish in a title match. Oh, WWE is now calling #1 contender’s matches “championship contender” matches, so there’s some more WWE verbiage for ya.

3 Comments on 7/19 WWE MONDAY NIGHT RAW REPORT: Hazelwood’s alt-perspective on Cena’s return promo to start the show, MITB fallout, what’s next for Lashley, Flair, Ripley, A.S.H., more

  1. Having Goldberg come in though after Lee getting squashed will eliminate the memory of it from most people. Lee’s in a position to be a designated a^^ kicker on Raw or Smackdown, who won’t chase titles but just beat people up and act as filler on the programs. It’s a shame though that the WWE needs Edge, Goldberg, and Cena to highlight Summerslam. Nikki A.S.* being champ is a feel good moment, got a huge pop, but now it’s going to be “now what???” with her and can only downhill from here. And Osmos is no Big Show, that’s for sure. Putting him in lighter ring gear would allow his size and muscles in his arms to show more but he’s clearly horrible in the ring compared to Show.

  2. When Elias and Ryker were working around the piano, did I see NWA’s Aron (Damien Sandow) Stevens in the front row (45:50)?

  3. Hasn’t Charlotte been NXT champion at least once ? Seems odd that they’re ignoring that in their quest to give her all the championship reigns or am I remembering incorrectly?

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