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KELLER’S WWE RAW REPORT
JULY 19, 2021
AIRED ON USA NETWORK
Commentators: Jimmy Smith, Byron Saxton, Corey Graves
-They went to a wide shot of the arena of fans, and then John Cena’s music hit. They showed Cena approaching fans in the entrance area, but keeping about six feet of distance. He then ran to the ring and paced back and forth as his music faded. He said he saw people still arriving. He said the show is starting so get to your seats. “Damn, I missed you!” he said. “And I missed this.” Fans chanted, “Welcome back!” He said he also heard “Let’s Go Cena!” and “Cena sucks!” and he said he loves all of them. He said they aren’t just loud in Dallas, they’re deafeningly loud. (He seemed to be trying to wake up the crowd a bit more than complimenting them.) He then said the name of the city and got a decent pop. He said they just proved how loud they can get. He said tonight is a team effort.
He said he is there tonight to explain himself after his unexpected return last night at Money in the Bank. He said he ruined the championship celebration of Roman Reigns. Boos. He said Reigns was angry, Paul Heyman was confused, Cole was excited, and Pat McAfee “still couldn’t see me.” He said if they were wondering what brought him back to WWE, it’s the fans. “And it was Roman Reigns,” he said. More boos. He said he’s there for the WWE Universal Championship. He said he wants that match at Summerslam in five weeks in Las Vegas, Nev. The fans began the “What?” chant as he talked about various possible reasons he’s back, such as the pageantry of the crowd or winning another title. He said that’s not it. “It’s because Roman Reigns is an asshole and I believe he needs to be knocked down a peg,” he said. He was bleeped. He the “pathetic Roman Reigns experience has gone on long enough.” He said Reigns is an arrogant, self-absorbed, over-hyped, over-protected, over-exposed gimmick who’s not as over as he says he is.” (This was going okay until he did the insider nonsense there.) “And this is coming from me,” he said.
He worked to get all sides of the building to cheer. He said if you’re good, you say it, but if you’re great, they tell you. He said he’ll be at Smackdown on Friday and he can’t wait to see Reigns there. He said now that he has that off his chest, let’s get down to business. Suddenly Riddle’s music played. Smith welcomed everyone to Monday Night Raw. The announcers wondered what Cena thinks of Riddle. Cena said he finally gets it. They rotated saying “Bro” and then they sang it together and “held the last note” together for ten seconds. Smith called it the greatest duet of all time. The announcers hyped the opening six-man tag match up next.
(Keller’s Analysis: That was pretty generic and just a commercial to tune in to Smackdown on Friday, but at least USA Network got the first 2021 appearance of Cena on TV. It demeans Raw a little bit that he just stopped by Raw to challenge a top wrestler on Smackdown. He seemed to working hard to “wake up the crowd” using every technique he could. I’ll be interested to hear from people in the building what the crowd heat felt like there. The fans seemed to like him but didn’t blow the roof off the place and go bonkers like they did last night at MITB. It does seem WWE crowds right now are pro-Cena and anti-Reigns. We’ll see if that holds up once people hear Cena cut more promos. The “he’s not as over as he thinks he is” line was pandering nonsense and misreading the 2021 room, I think.) [c]
-The announcers hyped that Bobby Lashley had an open challenge tonight, plus Charlotte would have her Championship Coronation.
(1) RIDDLE & THE VIKING RAIDERS vs. A.J. STYLES & OMOS & JOHN MORRISON (w/Miz)
Morrison wheeled Miz to the ring in his wheelchair. Miz sprayed Byron Saxton with the water blaster. The announcers talked about the Styles & Omos win last night. Saxton said the Raiders’ loss makes thenmmore hungry. A few minutes in, The Raiders beat up Morrison at ringside. Omos then launched Styles onto all three at ringside. Omos yelled as they cut to a break. [c]
Back from the break, Omos tossed Riddle down hard to the mat and then stomped on him. Then he whipped him into the corner and charged at him. He walked Riddle over to his corner and tagged in Styles. Erik hot-tagged in and had a rapid-fire strike exchange with Styles and held his own. Morrison and Ivar battled next. Morrison avoided a top rope moonsault by Ivar. Riddle sprayed Omos with the Drip Stick from behind, then ran away. Omos turned around and assumed Miz did it. Miz begged off. Omos dropped to the floor to pursue Miz, but Miz rolled backward. Morrison came to Omos’s aid, but Omos threw him into the ring. Morrison grabbed at his knee as Omos continued to pursue Miz. The Raiders gave The Viking Experience to Morrison to win. Riddle and the Raiders celebrated together and displayed a curious chemistry.
WINNERS: Raiders & Riddle in 12:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Fun match.)
-They showed Jaxson Ryker up close. Then they cut to clips of Ryker whipping Elias three weeks ago. Then back to Ryker, all he said is, “Wait ’til you see what I do to Elias tonight.” He snarled a bit. [c]
-They aired a brief NXT commercial with highlights of big moves and the only audio was Vic Joseph yelling, “Are you kidding me?”
-They showed scenes of Dallas, Tex. and hyped WrestleMania coming there next year.
-Elias sat mid-ring and strummed his guitar. He said there is a truth that will last forever, which is WWE stands for “Walk With Elias.” (Why haven’t fans hijacked that yet to “F— you, Elias!” That’d end this tired bit quickly.) Ryker broke in and said after tonight, fans will never hear the words “Hello, I am Elias again.”
(2) ELIAS vs. JAXSON RYKER – Symphony of Destruction match
The ring was surrounded by musical instruments. They brawled at ringside where Elias scored an early two count. He bashed Ryker with an electric keyboard. Elias charged, but Ryker side-stepped him and threw him head-first into a giant cymbal. Ryker then bashed Elias with a guitar. They cut to a break. [c]
Back from the break, they battled on a grand piano. They each scored two counts on it. Elias picked up the cello and bashed Ryker across his back. The fans chanted something, presumably about an instrument and not either of the wrestlers. Ryker suplexed Elias off the second rope through a table below. “Are you kidding me?” exclaimed Smith. He draped his arm over Elias for the three count. Elias had a trickle of blood streaming down his forehead.
WINNER: Ryker in 13:00.
-Backstage, Sonya Deville and Adam Pearce were in the midst of a conversation with Mansoor when Mustafa Ali walked in. Deville said they were just talking about their request to compete as a tag team on Raw. Ali said he made no such request. Mansoor told Ali that every time he’s given him advice he’s been right. Ali agreed to team with him, but just this one time. “You better not screw it up,” he said. Sheamus then walked in and told Mansoor to leave. He talked about defending his U.S. Title last week against Humberto Carrillo. Pearce said he can’t be proud of that win because he attacked him backstage first. Deville said Humberto deserves another match against Sheamus to earn another title match. Sheamus said he might smash in Humberto’s face so he has to wear a mask like him.
-The announcers hyped Charlotte’s Championship Coronation next. [c]
-Smith hyped the Lashley “Open Challenge” later. Graves said it takes coconuts.
-Charlotte made her ring entrance. Smith said Charlotte soaks it in. “You can cheer, you can boo,” he said. She said it feels good to be back in front of fans. She said the last year and a half hasn’t been kind to her, but from adversity comes opportunity, “and I am the opportunity that all of you have been begging for.” She said Rhea Ripley is an opportunist. She said doesn’t need to take a page out of anyone’s book because she is the book. She said Ripley can take as many moves of hers as she wants, but she’ll never be her. Fans loudly chanted “Becky! Becky!” Charlotte said Becky is home breastfeeding while she’s dominating the entire Women’s Division.
She said the outpouring of congratulatory tweets has been overwhelming. She said that makes her the one-time Divas Champion, the five-time Smackdown Women’s Champion, and the five-time Raw Champion, making her the only 11 time women’s champion in the history of WWE. She told Ripley that she had her opportunity and failed. She said she could beat Ripley any night of the week. She was then interrupted by Ripley’s music.
Ripley walked out and entered the ring. Fans began chanting “Rhea! Rhea!” Charlotte said, “You’ve got fans.” Ripley said if Charlotte really believes she can beat her any night of the week, then why not tonight. Charlotte said she’s in no condition to challenge her after what she did to her knee last night. She said as much as she’d like to “finish the job,” for her sake he’ll decline. Boos. Pearce and Deville walked out. Deville congratulated her on becoming an 11-time women’s champion. Deville said she said she could beat her any night of the week. Pearce said if Ripley’s up the challenge, she should be too. He announced a rematch tonight. Charlotte kicked Ripley’s knee, then dropped down to ringside as Ripley writhed in pain in the corner.
(Keller’s Analysis: Charlotte’s so much more self-assured on the mic now than just a year or two ago. She is talking more naturally now and it suits her. It seems like WWE might be leaning into Ripley being the fans’ choice and shift to presenting her more consistently likable.) [c]
(3) NATALYA & TAMINA vs. SHAYNA BASZLER & NIA JAX (w/Reginald) – Non-Title match
Jax yanked Tamina off the ring apron a minute into the match just as Natalya was reaching for a tag. Jax gave Tamina a Samoan Drop against the ringside barricade. Baszler stomped on Natalya’s arm and then tagged in Jax. Natalya avoided a charging Jax and then landed a spinning lariat leading to a two count. Baszler taunted Natalya’s lack of a partner to tag. Tamina just then returned to her corner and tagged in. She kicked Jax off the ring apron, but then Baszler rolled her up for a two count. Reginald DISTRACTED Tamina on the top rope. Natalya yanked Reginald off the ring apron. Baszler kicked Natalya through the ropes, but then Tamina caught Baszler with a superkick for the win.
WINNERS: Baszler & Natalya in 4:00.
-After the match, Baszler told Jax they were unstoppable until Reginald showed up and he keeps messing everything up. A “Shayna” chant started with ringside fans. Jax headbutted Reginald. Saxton said he didn’t see that coming. Jax yelled at him and then left. Saxton said his services were no longer required, apparently. Fans chanted, “Reggie sucks!” Akira Tozawa ran to the ring, being pursued by some wrestlers. Reginald then attacked Tozawa. He landed a flip splash for the win to become 24/7 Champion. Reginald escaped oncoming attackers with a leaping somersault at ringside. He then backflipped his way up the aisle toward the entrance.
-A clip aired of Sheamus beating up Humberto last week and then Damien Priest making the save.
-Sheamus made his entrance, still wearing his black protective steel face mask.
-A commercial aired for NXT tomorrow night with Xia Li challenging Raquel Gonzales. [c]
-Graves announced that Karrion Kross makes his Raw debut tonight. That got a rise out of the crowd, who weren’t expecting him to appear.
(4) SHEAMUS vs. HUMBERTO CARRILLO
Humberto outmaneuvered Sheamus in the opening seconds, sending Sheamus to the floor. He slidekicked Sheamus through the ropes, then sling-shot himself over the top rope onto Sheamus on the floor. As Smith marveled at Sheamus finishing his match after his nose was shattered, Graves said Sheamus is the genuine article and one of the toughest men on the planet. Carrillo landed a top rope crossbody for a one count. They showed Priest watching on a monitor backstage. Carrillo then pulled at the mask of Sheamus. Graves was upset by that. Saxton said he has no sympathy for Sheamus after all he’s done to Carrillo in recent months. Sheamus took over at ringside and powerbombed Carrillo onto the edge of the ring apron. Sheamus played to the crowd and let out a yell as they cut to a break. [c]
Sheamus had Carrillo on the mat in an armbar after the break. Humberto made a spirited comeback and scored a near fall after a top rope dropkick. Sheamus came back with a Brogue Kick to get the clean win.
WINNER: Sheamus in 10:00.
-They aired clips of Lashley beating Kofi Kingston.
-Lashley, with MVP, made his ring entrance as the announcers hyped his Open Challenge. [c]
-Lashley and MVP were in the ring after the break. Lashley said he did all the talking he needed to last night when he destroyed Kingston. He said no more talking. MVP said the fans are so lucky to be there live in attendance to witness Lashley. Boos. MVP said Dallas is the home of the Cowboys, so that explains why they reacted to the champion like they did “because it’s been decades since you’ve seen a winner.”
He said Kofi said some harsh and disrespectful things about them in recent weeks, accusing Lashley of having lost his edge and that the ladies and parties made him soft. MVP said he forced him to do some introspection. (Fans did “What?” chants here.) MVP said Kofi was right that Lashley had lost his edge, and he apologized to Lashley for his role in that. He said Kofi’s words lit an inferno in Lashley, though. He said going forward, anyone who steps in the ring and challenges Lashley faces annihilation and decimation. He said he kind of feels sorry for the WWE roster and whoever is next. “No more women, no more champagne, no more fun and games, as the champion said, no more bullshit. We are back to business.”
Lashley took the mic and said, “So, who’s it going to be?” After a pause and an odd absence of chants from the crowd guessing (such as “Goldberg!”), out walked Keith Lee. Graves said they haven’t seen him since January. Lashley stood his ground and stared at Lee. Graves said Lee might be the only man who can push Lashley to his limit. A polite response for Lee, who is from there, but not a mega-star reaction. Lee entered the ring and stared back at Lashley. [c]
(5) BOBBY LASHLEY (w/MVP) vs. KEITH LEE – Non-title match
The WWE name for a “non-title” match now is “championship contender’s match.” Graves said Lee is a Texas native. He wondered if Lee is in great condition after more than a half year away from the ring. Lee took it to Lashley early and charged at him in the corner. Lashley elbowed him. Lee leapfrogged Lashley, who drew oohs, and then landed a low crossbody to take Lashley down.
Lee played to the crowd, then set up a Spirit Bomb awkwardly. After coming up short twice, Lashley face-planted him and the choked him over the middle rope. Lashley punched away at Lee in the corner, then clotheslined him over the top rope to the floor. Lashley lifted Lee onto his shoulders, but stumbled backwards and into a camera guy. Lee shoved Lashley into the ringpost and then threw him back into the ring. Graves said Lee has to show some urgency. When MVP approached Lee at ringside, Lee was DISTRACTED. Lashley then knocked Lee to the floor and then charged around ringside and took him down with a spear. Lashley hushed the crowd, then threw Lee back into the ring. Lashley went for a Hurt Lock. It was a struggle and Lee tossed Lashley over his shoulder. Lashley fired right back with a uranage. Lashley then hit the spear for the win.
WINNER: Lashley in 6:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Lee didn’t look great here, and he sorta lived up to his rep of being able to read his face and body language when he’s coming to the ring to do a job. It was suitable surprise wrestler for Lashley’s open challenge, but also indicative of Vince McMahon’s lack of faith in him where he’d protect him and build him up for more than that.)
-As Lashley celebrated, Goldberg’s music played. Fans chanted his name and then he made his way to the ring through the pyro. He hugged a fan and high-fived another before entering the ring. Graves said he’s one of the baddest men to walk the planet earth. When he entered the ring, Lashley stared at him. Goldberg walked up to him and laughed and yelled, “I’m next!” MVP convinced Lashley to leave. Saxton said a simple yet effective message delivered by Goldberg. Graves said the All Mighty feels disrespected. Smith said Goldberg knows what he’d doing.
(Keller’s Analysis: Chanting “Goldberg” is a given. The crowd, though, was standing as he entered the ring and then cheered pretty loudly. Despite some shaky appearances and less-than-stellar performances, he still has that aura and legacy star power. His screeching “I’m next!” over-modulated the mic badly.)
-Graves shifted to hyping the Charlotte vs. Ripley rematch. [c]
-Backstage, Kevin Patrick asked Lashley for a response. MVP grabbed the mic and said they won’t dignify Goldberg’s disrespect of the champion with a response.
-Jinder Mahal stood mid-ring with his cohorts and announced it’s his birthday. He said it gets even better because Drew McIntyre is not Mr. Money in the Bank. He said Drew took something from him, so he took something from Drew. He pointed to the big screen where they replayed Mahal attacking Drew at MITB. Back live, Jinder threw to last week’s reveal by Drew that Jinder had stolen his replica, not the real sword. Back live, Mahal said he is a believer in karma. They replayed Veer, Shanky, and Mahal attacking Drew last night. Mahal said he can buy ten new motorcycles, but Drew will never have another title opportunity as long as Lashley is WWE Champion. He invited the audience to join in as Shanky sang “Happy Birthday.” Drew showed up behind Mahal and bashed him with a chair. He then attacked Veer with the chair. Shanky told him that’s enough. Drew jabbed him in the gut and then bashed him across the back with a dozen chairshots. He played to the crowd and got cheered. The fans chanted “One more time!” Drew grabbed a fresh chair and entered the ring. Drew held up the chair and then bashed Shanky again over and over. He got to 20 and then tossed the chair out of the ring. Graves said Drew has lost it. Saxton said he wants a piece of Jinder.
(Keller’s Analysis: Probably not the homecoming Drew imagined six or nine months ago when crowd’s returned. He didn’t get to address the crowd as the alpha leader of Raw. Cena got that spot. They didn’t even let Drew talk, as that hasn’t been going well lately and could have gotten him booed. They protected him by having him beat up a heel nobody is going to cheer and also letting him swing a chair 20 times which almost guarantees cheers. It seems a shame he didn’t get to talk to the fans as he was one of the in-ring MVPs of the pandemic era of Raw.)
-A video highlight package aired on Karrion Kross.
-Kross walked out to the ring to his music, but without Scarlett. They advertised he’d face Jeff Hardy after the break. [c]
(6) KARRION KROSS vs. JEFF HARDY
Hardy made his entrance after the break with a different theme song. Graves said he seemed to have a different pep in his step than usual. Smith said Kross isn’t getting an easy opponent on his Raw debut. (There’s no explanation at all why the NXT Champion is on Raw.) Kross broke out of an early headlock attempt by Hardy with an elbow to the side of head. Graves said the most terrifying aspect of Kross is his intellect. He gave Hardy an overhead suplex. The corner graphic said there’d be an “Alexa’s Playground” segment next. Hardy side-stepped a charging Kross in the corner, then gave him a Twist of Fate. Then he climbed to the top rope and went for a Swanton, but Kross moved. Kross mounted Hardy in the corner, but Hardy slammed him down with a powerbomb and pinned him with his legs on the second rope. Kross popped up, looking embarrassed. Saxton said you don’t become one of the greatest of all-time without a few tricks up your sleeve.
WINNER: Hardy in under 2:00.
-Patrick interviewed Kross mid-ring. He asked for his response. Kross said Hardy “just made the biggest mistake of his life, because in the end, everyone will fall and pray.”
(Keller’s Analysis: That was unexpected. I’m not sure how prudent that decision is. It humiliates the NXT brand a bit. It also could rejuvenate Hardy, I suppose. Is this going to result in Hardy moving over to NXT for a stretch? That could be good for the NXT brand if wrestlers move both directions, but sending a wrestler who’s been basically jobbing to the stars lately doesn’t send the best message about NXT. It’s still odd they just acted like it’s normal for the reigning NXT Champion to wrestle on Raw. Kross did a good job seeming utterly humiliated.)
-Alexis welcomed Lilly back to the Playground. She said the last time Lilly was around, things got out of hand. Doudrop and Eva Marie walked in. Eva didn’t like that Bliss was ignoring her and threatened to have Doudrop throw Lilly in the trash. Bliss said for her sake, she hopes she doesn’t. She offered to put Doudrop in Time Out just to see how it feels and to see how Eva does on her own. Eva said she won’t taste any more of her time with Bliss. As she tried to leave, Lilly apparently made Eva trip over her high heels. Eva was shaken up and left. Bliss then laughed.
-Smith plugged Charlotte vs. Ripley again. [c]
-Saxton said because of their performance earlier, the Raiders have earned another tag title shot against Styles & Omos next week on Raw.
NOTE: 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 email@example.com. We are still looking to line-up correspondents for these dates:
- 7/21 AEW Dynamite in Garland, Tex.
- 7/23 Smackdown in Cleveland, Ohio
- 7/26 Raw in Kansas City, Mo.
- 7/28 AEW Dynamite in Pittsburgh, Pa.
- 8/2 Raw in Chicago, Ill.
- 8/6 Smackdown in Tampa, Fla.
- 8/9 Raw in Orlando, Fla.
- 8/13 Raw in Tulsa, Okla.
- 8/16 Raw in San Antonio, Tex.
- 8/20 Smackdown in Phoenix, Ariz.
- 8/23 Raw in San Diego, Calif.
(7) CHARLOTTE vs. RHEA RIPLEY – Raw Title match
Ripley’s ring entrance aired. Then Charlotte’s took place. Then formal ring introductions took place. They cut to a break before the bell. What looked like a nearly 30 minutes window is now going to be under 15 minutes. [c]
Graves said after the grueling battle last night, it’s possible Charlotte isn’t at 100 percent. Ripley scored an early roll-up two count. She followed with a suplex attempt, but Charlotte escaped. Ripley fired back with a German suplex and a basement dropkick for a two count. Charlotte clipped Ripley’s knee from behind at ringside. Graves said the match was as good as over. The ref checked on Ripley as they cut to a break. [c]
Charlotte continued to work over Ripley’s leg. Graves said it has to be frustrating Ripley can’t execute her usual offense. Charlotte went for a moonsault, but Ripley lifted her knees. Ripley then smiled and applied a figure-four. Charlotte yelled in pain as Ripley had a crazed look in her eyes. Charlotte reversed it. Ripley reached the bottom rope to force a break. Charlotte went after Ripley with a barrage of chops into the corner. Ripley sidekicked Charlotte and then delivered the Rip Tide. Charlotte put her foot on the bottom rope so the ref stopped at two. Charlotte ran over and grabbed her belt and retreated. Ripley chased her down. Charlotte hit Ripley with the belt. The ref DQ’d Charlotte.
WINNER: Ripley via DQ in 12:00 so Charlotte retained the Raw Title.
-Ripley attacked Charlotte after the match at ringside, including shoving her into the ringpost. Nikki A.S.H.’s music played and she charged to the ring. She handed the ref her the MITB briefcase. The ref handed the briefcase to Mike Rome. The bell rang.
(8) NIKKI A.S.H. vs. CHARLOTTE – Raw Women’s Title match
Nikki leaped off the top rope with a bodypress and scored a three count.
WINNER: Nikki in about 8 seconds to capture the Raw Women’s Title.
(Keller’s Analysis: I don’t hate that. That’s a fun way to end Raw. Yes, it felt fluky, but that’s how MITB cash-ins work. It was an unexpected surprise and newsworthy ending to Raw.)