SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
WWE MONDAY NIGHT RAW TV REPORT
AUGUST 23, 2021
SAN DIEGO, CA. AT THE PECHANGA ARENA
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): Sarah Schreiber, Kevin Patrick
Tonight after the show, join Wade Keller and guest co-host Robert Vallejos to break down the show with live callers and emails.
•STREAM LIVE HERE ABOUT 5 MINUTES AFTER THE SHOW CONCLUDES
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-The show began with a video recap of SummerSlam from two nights ago. The video included some still shots at key moments, like when a finisher landed, but also showed Charlotte Flair tapping out Nikki A.S.H. and Damian Priest landing The Reckoning for the victory. They showed Becky Lynch’s return and victory as well as “highlights” from Bobby Lashley vs. Goldberg, concluding with Roman Reigns vs. John Cena and Brock Lesnar’s return to end the show.
-Jimmy Smith welcomed viewers, along with RawBot, saying he’s still buzzing after Saturday, then transitioned to introducing Lashley. His music hit to a good reaction as he & M.V.P. entered. He received mostly boos mixed with a few cheers, but it was loud regardless. Smith then shifted to a more detailed video replay of the match from two nights ago, again pausing the video at crucial moments of impact. They showed the attack by Lashley after the match, then putting Gage Goldberg in The Hurt Lock after being jumped from behind by the latter. They played M.V.P.’s voice saying Lashley couldn’t have known that was the younger Goldberg.
M.V.P. had a mic and began by saying (over a chorus of boos) that he would like everyone’s attention for a moment to address what happened “Sunday.” He said they were shocked when Goldberg showed up and challenged Lashley. He said we all know about Goldberg’s extraordinary history, but also his recent not-so-extraordinary history, and either way, Goldberg is a WWE Hall of Famer, a powerhouse, and a worthy challenger. He said what they did not know what the Goldberg would show up with his son, maybe he needed a confidence booster because he was outmatched by Lashley or needed a distraction, but what they do know is Goldberg showed up and looked amazing.
He said there were times when Goldberg actually backed up Lashley, scoring some two-counts, but only succeeded in making Lashley angrier, who becomes stronger the angrier he gets. The crowd booed as Lashley glared at them. M.V.P. said Lashley beat the holy hell out of Goldberg and only one man has ever stopped Goldberg: Lashley. He said Goldberg literally didn’t have a leg to stand on and quit, and that makes him a coward. The crowd started a “Goldberg” chant. He said the end result was Lashley was overwhelmingly declared AND STILL WWE Champion.
He said out of nowhere, someone jumps the barricade and attacks Lashley from behind like a coward, so Lashley did what he would do to anyone who would attack him from behind. He said Lashley didn’t know who it was because it didn’t matter: he would do it to you, to you fat boy, yeah, to you (he pointed at fans in the crowd). They booed. M.V.P. said he knows that won’t happen tonight because they’re in San Diego and they’re all a bunch of cowards. He said if anyone thinks Lashley owes them an apology, Lashley then said, “You can go to hell.”
Priest’s music hit as the new United States Champion entered to a decent pop. He entered the ring, stared at Lashley, then said they’re both running their mouths and calling Goldberg a coward for getting injured and calling these people cowards because they won’t jump you from behind? He said something in Spanish that drew a big pop from the crowd. Lashley reacted as if he understood, which Priest intimated. Priest then challenged Lashley to a singles match tonight to a big pop from the crowd. Lashley looked annoyed, then affronted at the challenge. Priest said to be clear, if Lashley doesn’t accept, he’s the coward.
Lashley immediately struck Priest, but Priest recovered as Lashley was removing his blazer and beat on Lashley a bit before forcing him outside. M.V.P. held Lashley back, then told Priest he asked for it, he got it. He said Lashley was going to change and come back out for the first match of the night. Lashley headed to the back in a huff. They cut to break. [c]
(Hazelwood’s Take: OK, this probably should have been at least a three-month journey before Priest challenged Lashley, but this is also a testament to the shallow depth for Raw. Priest has been drawing good reactions and support, particularly when he drops in some Spanish, and while it’s not for the title, don’t be surprised if he gets some kind of rollup or distraction finish and they return to the feud later with that victory as one of the selling points.)
-They returned with Lashley receiving his full champion’s entrance; nicely done. Lashley didn’t take his time, and glared a hole through Priest. He entered the ring and didn’t do his usual pose.
(1) BOBBY LASHLEY (c) (w/M.V.P.) vs. Damian Priest (c) – Non-title match
Lashley immediately lifted and dropped Priest with a semi-spinebuster, then shoved Priest into the corner. He hit a few shoulder thrusts, then ran across and landed a straight right to the jaw. He sprinted across the ring and hit another shoulder to Priest, but Priest then hit a thunderclap. Lashley immediately answered with a flatliner. He set in the corner for the spear, but ran into a leaping superkick.
Priest landed a series of strikes, then a big lariat to a big pop. Sheamus then entered from behind and attacked Priest to cause the disqualification. Sheamus then held up Priest as Lashley punched away. Drew McIntyre’s music hit to a HUGE pop. He took out Sheamus outside, then went right after Lashley in the ring. They traded punches, then McIntyre clotheslined Lashley over the top. Priest clotheslined Sheamus over the barricade, then McIntyre hit an overhead belly-to-belly on the outside, followed by McIntyre landing a vertical suplex to Lashley on the announce desk as they cut to break. Tag team match a-coming I suppose. [c]
WINNER: Damian Priest at 1:23 (DQ)
(Hazelwood’s Take: Or a run-in causing a DQ. Duh. So obvious.)
(2) BOBBY LASHLEY (c) & SHEAMUS (w/M.V.P.) vs. DAMIAM PRIEST (c) & DREW MCINTYRE – Tag team match
The match was in-session (I started the clock during the break, but match time will be approximate). McIntyre had the advantage, but Sheamus fought back and landed several strikes before unloading in a neutral corner. He whipped McIntyre across, but McIntyre exploded out and hit a lariat, then a snap suplex for a one-count. Sheamus hit a gut strike and tagged in Lashley.
Lashley began working McIntyre in the neutral corner nearest the hard cam with shoulder thrusts, but ran into a boot as he sprinted across. McIntyre lifted Lashley, but suffered a double-thrust to the throat. Sheamus tagged in, but McIntyre landed a few haymakers and tagged in Priest. Priest came off a rope run with a back elbow, then whipped Sheamus across and hit a flying back elbow into a Broken Arrow for a two-count.
Priest was distracted by Lashley, which allowed Sheamus to knock him outside. Lashley tagged in and rammed Priest back-first into the barricade, then lifted him onto his shoulders and ran Priest into the shoulder post as he did Goldberg two nights ago and seemingly every opponent for months. He broke the count, then threw Priest into the barricade again, flipping him over. Lashley had a big grin on his face as he went for another post run, and he landed, leaving Priest lying on the outside as they cut to break. [c]
I missed that Priest was cut on along his ribs from the first ring post ram. Sheamus was taking it to Priest in the ring as they returned with a leaping knee drop and a two-count, then into a rear chinlock. Priest rose to his feet and reached for McIntyre, but Sheamus prevented that. Priest then threw Sheamus over, but Sheamus hit a big Oklahoma Slam for a two-count. Lashley tagged in.
Lashley forced Priest to his knees and locked in a standing arm triangle. Priest forced his way to his corner, but Lashley rammed him back to theirs and tagged in Sheamus. Sheamus kicked away at Priest’s gut in the corner, then held Priest up as the latter collapsed to his knees. It might have been playing possum as he blocked Sheamus’ suplex attempts, but missed a big spin kick which allowed Sheamus to land the Irish Curse. He posed by flexing with Priest across his knee.
Sheamus lifted Priest and gave him a few big forearms to the small of the back. Priest fought back with several back elbows, then hit a huge lariat off the ropes. Sheamus crawled over and made the tag, but so did Priest and McIntyre entered to a big pop. He hit an overhead suplex to Lashley, then one out of the corner and a leaping neckbreaker followed by a kip up that got the crowd going. He counted down from three in the corner, but turned to punch Sheamus instead. Lashley then landed his huge spinebuster.
Lashley went for a spear, but McIntyre sidestepped and Lashley hit the ring post. He tagged in Sheamus who went right after McIntyre. Sheamus sent McIntyre to the apron, but McIntyre climbed only to have Sheamus meet him. Sheamus looked for White Noise off the second rope and hit! Two-count! Sheamus looked shocked. Sheamus then motioned for the Brogue Kick, but McIntyre dodged.
Sheamus lifted McIntyre to his shoulder, but Priest tagged in. He hit a leg lariat from the second rope, kicked off Lashley from the apron, but turned right into a huge pump knee from Sheamus. However, Lashley & M.V.P. left, leaving Sheamus in a handicap match. Priest tagged in McIntyre, who hit the Claymore for the victory. After the match, Priest just glared at Lashley from just outside the ring as McIntyre celebrated inside.
WINNER: Damian Priest & Drew McIntyre at about 15:41 (Claymore)
-Corey Graves then shifted to Eva Marie & Doudrop’s week, with the two slaps last week and still-shots of Marie losing to Alexa Bliss last night. They did show Doudrop announcing Marie as the loser of the match, then donning Marie’s robe. They cut to Sarah Schreiber in the back who welcomed Doudrop. She asked about Saturday. Doudrop said first of all she made a mistake associating herself with Marie. She said Marie helped her get her foot in the door, but she didn’t want to be spoken down to. She said Marie named her Doudrop, and she likes that, so she’s keeping that. Suddenly, Marie drove an equipment crate into Doudrop and slammed her head into it several times. She said this is Eva-Lution. Schreiber checked on Doudrop, who said, “That bitch.”
-They cut back to the entrance as Karrion Kross made his entrance looking like an off-brand Gladiator. They cut to break hyping his match with Ricochet. [c]
(Hazelwood’s Take: So maybe it will be more of a journey for Priest after the events of that match. Lashley has three opponents set for him after that, with McIntyre being the most obvious and Sheamus having a legitimate gripe after Lashley left him in the match. I hope Priest just goes on a run of title defense for the next few months. Also, did you know that Priest has yet to lose a singles/tag/six-man tag match since moving to Raw, only losing the Royal Rumble match, the last chance Money in the Bank qualifying match, and the handicap match to The Miz & John Morrison after WrestleMania?)
-They returned with some photos of Saturday night’s event
(3) KARRION KROSS vs. RICOCHET – Singles match
They began immediately after returning with Kross hitting a big exploder suplex to gain the early advantage. He stomped away, but Ricochet hit a springboard crossbody. Kross has on some bad gear. Kross sidestepped Ricochet, then hit a huge lariat. He then hit a powerbomb, held on, then lifted Ricochet onto his shoulders, dropping him to hit the Doomsday Saito. He locked in the Kross Jacket. Over.
WINNER: Karrion Kross at 1:30 (Kross Jacket)
-Smith shifted to Baron Corbin and a digital exclusive from a couple nights ago as Schreiber went from interviewing him and ran away to see Big E. Logan Paul approached, then Corbin came up angry she stopped interviewing him. Paul laughed, then said, “Maybe cuz you’re an asshole.” They showed Paul talking to The Viking Raiders, who gave him one of their shirts.
-Morrison’s music hit. He entered without Miz for “Moist TV” as they cut to break. [c]
(Hazelwood’s Take: I get wanting to make Kross strong a night after losing the NXT Championship, but there are plenty of “Performance Center trainees” they could have brought up for a quick squash instead of once again defining Ricochet so far down. Kross’ gear was not something that I can see as helping, either. It was like a B-version ripoff of any Gladiator-based film.)
-They returned with Smith narrating a replay of Lashley walking out on Sheamus, leading to their defeat. Sheamus approached Lashley in the bag, saying he saved his ass yet Lashley left him high and dry. Lashley said he wasn’t saved because he doesn’t need saving, then threatened Sheamus. Sheamus didn’t back down, but M.V.P. stepped between them as they yelled at each other.
“MOIST TV” WITH LOGAN PAUL
Mike Rome introduced Morrison as “America’s Moist Wanted” again. Morrison said it’s the “moist see” TV show in history. He said tonight’s guest knows how to jump in the river and deliver. He introduced Paul to loud boos. Graves called Paul his favorite boxer.
Paul thanked Morrison and seemed to take in the boos that kept on going like when Elias and Kevin Owens made fun of the SuperSonics leaving in Seattle, where I live. They began talking over the boos instead of letting them simmer, though. Morrison said a lot of people here are thirsty to know what to expect from the Paul brothers. The boos got louder anytime Paul tried to talk, then The Miz’s music hit. Morrison was whispering to Paul, probably about the segment.
The Miz was in his full ridiculous garb, then said Morrison forgot to introduce him as Paul’s favorite WWE superstar. Paul said he’s actually more of a New Day fan, to be honest. Paul then answered Morrison’s question about boxing and Mayweather, but there were a lot of boos. He talked about his brother Jake boxing Tyron Woodley this weekend, former UFC Welterweight Champion. Morrison said Paul is going to come out like a salami tsunami.
The crowd started a “You suck!” chant, but it could have been directed at any and all three of them. The Miz demanded the crowd show Paul respect. Paul reluctantly thanked The Miz. The Miz said he and Paul are from the great city of Cleveland and that Jake is fighting there in a sold-out arena. He said he respects the Paul’s a lot, and gave a list of accomplishments. He said he had a hard-hitting question: in what round is Jake getting knocked out in?
That drew cheers and some scattered “Yes” chants. Paul asked if he was serious as The Miz said bettors want to know. Paul said Jake is actually going to knock out Woodley and if The Miz asks another question like that, Woodley won’t be the only one to get knocked out. The Miz told him to get out of his face, but Morrison jumped in and said as much as we would all like to see Paul beat The Miz’s ass right now- The Miz jumped in.
Morrison said The Miz makes it all about him, which The Miz said wasn’t true. Morrison asked the crowd, and they said yes. They argued, then Paul said he was going to leave them to talk it out; he left the ring. The Miz blamed Morrison for making Paul leave. Morrison said The Miz made it all about him. The Miz said all the water stuff was Morrison’s idea, and he should have been fighting for titles not being squirted with water. Morrison made a quip about wheeling around The Miz, then Xavier Woods entered, dapping up Paul, but no Kofi Kingston. They cut to break. [c]
(Hazelwood’s Take: Aside from further teasing the breakup between The Miz & Morrison, that was a big waste of time. We do know that the crowd in San Diego loathes Logan Paul at least.)
-They returned with what looked to be the same Elias vignette from last week where he carried his tombstone in the woods before planting it in the ground with “Elias 2017-2021” as he said “Elias is dead.”
(4) THE MIZ (w/John Morrison) vs. XAVIER WOODS – Singles match
Woods shot a single-leg after pointing at The Miz’s rehabbed knee. They locked up after with The Miz getting the advantage. Woods forced him into the corner and went for the leg as The Miz reacted in anger. The Miz grabbed a side headlock, but Woods escaped and rolled him up for a two-count. The Miz locked in another side headlock, but Woods reversed into one of his own, then took The Miz down.
The Miz escaped, then hit a big running shoulder tackle to Woods. Woods leapfrogged The Miz, then hit a side kick to the gut. The Miz escaped to the outside and took out Woods’ leg, causing him to hit the apron hard. The Miz rolled him back in, then climbed to the top rope. Woods ducked out of the way as The Miz sold tweaking the knee. Woods beat away at The Miz in the corner, then set The Miz’s left knee in the rope. Woods hit a dropkick to the leg.
The Miz scrambled to the corner and begged off as the ref checked on him. Woods was held off by the ref, but The Miz faked it and gave a gut knee to Woods. He smiled, but Woods ducked a few strikes and landed a superkick to the knee, then used The Miz’s back to hit a step-up senton for a one-count. The Miz rolled outside, then dodged Woods, sending him into the timekeeper’s barricade. The Miz rolled back inside to break the count. Morrison sprayed the outside, but Woods countered and sent The Miz sliding into the steps as they cut to break. [c]
The Miz landed some It Kicks to a seated Woods as they returned from break. He was shuffling about between each kick, but Woods ducked the last one and rolled him up for a two-count. He hit a few chops, but The Miz forced him into a corner and landed some body kicks. He went for his leaping clothesline in the corner, but Woods dodged and hit a neckbreaker with The Miz seated on the second rope.
Both men slowly regained their feet, then Woods started striking away with punches and chops, a bevy of strikes causing redness on The Miz’s chest. He sent The Miz outside, and this time he was able to hit his leaping dropkick, then reentered the ring and landed a tope con hilo. Morrison ran over to check on The Miz, but didn’t get involved. Woods rolled The Miz back in, then went for a top rope crossbody for a two-count.
Woods lifted The Miz onto his shoulders, but The Miz countered with back elbows, then a kick to the knee and his signature DDT for a two-count. He went for the Skull Crushing Finale, but Woods powered out. Morrison tried spraying Woods, causing the ref to be distracted as The Miz had Woods rolled up for the victory. Woods then hit an inside cradle on The Miz for the victory.
After the match, both men were inside the ring, discussing the match. The Miz turned and looked angrily at Morrison, who said he was sorry. The Miz had Morrison grab the bucket of drip sticks, then took a stick. They sprayed into the crowd, then The Miz just laid out Morrison.
He mounted him and then kicked him from the feet. The Miz just pounded away at Morrison, even raking at the nostrils. It was ugly in the realistic kind of way. Morrison rolled away, but The Miz landed a big boot. He seethed in the ring as the crowd booed, then drove his knee into Morrison’s throat. He lifted Morrison for the Skull Crushing Finale, then hit it with a big thud. The crowd kept booing. The Miz slowly rose to his feet and exited the ring while staring at Morrison the entire time. He walked backwards up the ramp, stopped halfway, then they cut away.
WINNER: Xavier Woods at 11:39 (inside cradle)
-They showed replays and still shots of the triple threat Women’s Championship match from Saturday night which saw Flair win another championship, this one they’re billing as her twelfth even though it wasn’t that long ago they were billing her with her NXT Championship reigns as well. They showed a tweet from A.S.H. about picking herself up after the defeat.
-They cut to video from earlier today of Rhea Ripley arriving. A.S.H. approached her and said it would lift her spirits if Ripley agreed to be her partner against Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler. Ripley said whooping their asses would lift her spirits. They hyped the match, then hyped another Reggie 24/7 Championship defense in a park as they cut to break. [c]
(Hazelwood’s Take: The match was fine, but was more there as a catalyst for the breakup of The Miz & Morrison. Morrison was trending face with his reactions anyway, no matter how annoying he can be, probably because it seems more genuinely him than The Miz’s act. At the very least, these two will give the show a solid mid-card feud in terms of matches, though don’t be surprised if the promo interactions become too much.)
-They returned with more photos from SummerSlam. McIntyre hitting Jinder Mahal with the Claymore drew no reaction at all.
REGGIE DEFENDS THE 24/7 CHAMPIONSHIP IN A PARK
There are no real “starts” to this match, so there won’t be a time listed like last week. They cut to Reggie in a park saying as a kid he couldn’t afford anything from the ice cream truck. There was the ivy monster behind him again. He took two ice creams, then handed one to R-Truth as he tried to surprise Reggie, then another to Akira Tozawa who jumped out of a trash can. Reggie climbed a tree, jumped on the ice cream truck, then off and ran into the truck. The truck drove away as the two foes argued with about who got okey doked over ice cream.
-Smith then shifted to RK-Bro winning the Tag Team Championship at SummerSlam with their “Stronger Together” replay brought to you by Progressive. They showed video and still shots of the match against A.J. Styles & Omos. They showed Riddle riding the back with the title around his neck. He approached Orton, went for a hug, but Orton denied. Riddle said his stepdad wasn’t much of a hugger.
Orton said he’s not big on surprises or celebrations, so he asked for one favor: don’t do anything stupid out there. Riddle said trust him, would he do anything stupid? Orton just stared at him. Riddle said later bro and rode off as Orton just nodded his head in resignation.
-Mahal’s music hit as he entered with Veer & Shanky. They hyped his match against Mansoor (w/Mustafa Ali) as they cut to break. [c]
-They returned with a video postcard of San Diego, including the sites and San Diego’s ties to the military. Mahal and his cronies were in the ring as Mansoor’s music hit to no reaction still. He came out with a lot of energy, but the crowd didn’t react. Ali looked reluctant with the pairing still. They showed Mansoor defeating Mace last week with Ali’s help. They showed a pre-recorded promo with Ali hyping up Mansoor. Mansoor said tonight, he wants to win the right away and begged Ali not to get involved. Ali said they can do it Mansoor’s way.
(5) JINDER MAHAL (w/Veer & Shanky) vs. MANSOOR (w/Mustafa Ali) – Singles match
Mahal hit a body kick to start, then more strikes using his size and power advantage. Mansoor went for a crossbody, but Mahal caught him and turned it into a suplex. Mansoor rolled to the apron as Ali held his hands up. Mansoor stunned Mahal across the top rope, then climbed the top rope and hit a crossbody for a two-count. Mahal rose and hit a big boot to floor Mansoor.
Mahal hit a snapmare and then a leaping knee to the face. He cinched in a modified chinlock in the ring as Ali just paced and had an “I told you so” look. Mansoor escaped with a sit-down jawbreaker, but Mahal landed another big kick. Mahal stomped away in the corner and ignored the ref’s count, causing the DQ. He didn’t care as he kept stomping. Ali turned his back to show his disgust with Mansoor’s way.
Ali entered the ring after the three heels left and asked Mansoor what happened. He said they could do it Mansoor’s way or Ali’s way. Mansoor looked angry as he glared at the heels. Ali just shook his head.
WINNER: Mansoor at 2:19 (DQ)
-Smith cut to a replay of Lashley’s earlier walkout from the tag match in the first hour. They showed McIntyre talking to Priest in the back about how Priest is already showered and ready to go. Priest said all jokes aside, thank you to McIntyre for having his back. McIntyre said Lashley & Sheamus are the two people he despises the most in the world, and that beating them makes him happier than anything.
Priest said winning the United States Championship is a big accomplishment, going from Puerto Rico to New York to around the world. McIntyre said tonight, Priest is going out with him to see how he measures up in the pint department. Priest dapped him up as McIntyre walked away.
-Flair made her entrance as they cut to break. [c]
-They returned hyping the indoor attendance record they set on Saturday.
CHARLOTTE FLAIR IN-RING PROMO
Flair posed in the ring with a mic in her hand. She said well, well, well, was there a doubt in anyone’s mind she wouldn’t be standing there again as the Women’s Champion? She said that’s how many times now? She said she doesn’t have enough to count, but 12 times. She said one-time Divas Champion, five-time Smackdown, and six-time Raw. She said no one compares to “The Opportunity,” Charlotte Flair.
She said she’s surprised no one’s made a commemorative statue of her yet. She said no female superstar will ever match her accomplishments. She said she doesn’t need friends, emphasized she doesn’t need family, then said she sure as hell doesn’t need the WWE Universe to stay champion for a long time because she only needs the tile as she lifted it. Her music hit and pyro went off as she posed with the raised title.
The music stopped, and she continued by saying this morning, she saw more than just her good cheekbones, chiseld physique, and God-given talent, she saw the champion. She said she wanted to give the fans an actual champion instead of that grubby A.S.H. who had the title for a month. She said she wants everyone to remember when they could be proud of watching Monday nights (so like, 25 years ago?). She said she started the first-ever woman’s evolution and tonight, she’s starting a new one, so you can thank her now or later, but don’t forget to bow because she is your queen, your champion, and long live the queen. She raised the title and posed as her music played.
Bliss’ music then hit as the AR Lilly moved about. Bliss entered holding Lilly, then spoke from the ramp. She said congratulations, and Lilly and her just wanted to say hi. She tweaked her head as she stared at Flair and her music played. Flair stared at her quizzically as Bliss just smiled.
-Smith cut to last week when Flair & Jax faced A.S.H. & Ripley with Flair tagging herself in to get the pinfall victory. They cut to Jax & Baszler in the back as Baszler asked if Jax really wants to tag with her or Flair instead. Jax said she saw an opportunity, but Flair stole the victory and is now champion. Baszler said that’s what she gets for teaming with Flair. Baszler said they butt heads a lot, but when they’re on, no one can stop them. Baszler said let’s go out there and show them that we are the unstoppable force.
-A.S.H. entered to a decent pop, but nothing overwhelming. They hyped the tag match as they cut to break. [c]
(Hazelwood’s Take: A good promo from Flair, though the music in the middle of the promo was a weird break. She maintained a pretty consistent tone, and really put over why she is the best on Monday nights. The introduction of Bliss was expected, though maybe happened later than originally expected because of the A.S.H. reign. I’m not interested in this Bliss, at least her matches, so putting her in the title picture is not a good choice in my opinion.)
-They returned with a new Elias promo. He started out saying before WWE was Walk With Elias, it was World Wrestling Entertainment. He said he conquered entertainment, but he’s here to conquer wrestling. He said the old Elias is dead, but long live Elias, the WWE superstar. He donned a cowboy hat and walked off into the sunset with the WWE logo emblazoned on the screen.
-A.S.H. was waiting in the ring as Ripley’s music hit to about an equal pop as A.S.H.’s entrance. Jax’s music hit as her & Baszler made their entrance; I swear they broke up a few weeks ago.
(6) NIKKI A.S.H. & RHEA RIPLEY vs. NIA JAX & SHAYNA BASZLER
Ripley and Baszler began, old NXT foes with Ripley ending Baszler’s record second reign. They locked up, then Baszler hit a Gator Roll, then targeted the left arm. Ripley caught the stomp, then slammed Baszler to the mat and tagged in A.S.H. She lifted A.S.H. into a belly-to-back and slammed her on top of Baszler for a two-count. A.S.H. went for a wheelbarrow rollup and scored a two-count, then hit a tilt-a-whirl head scissors.
Baszler, in the corner, sent A.S.H. to the apron, but A.S.H. rolled in with a La Magistral Cradle for a two-count. Baszler then countered and dragged her to their corner, tagging in Jax and stomping on A.S.H.’s left elbow. Jax lifted A.S.H., tagged in Baszler who took out Ripley, then slammed A.S.H. to the mat for Baszler to hit a knee that sent her outside as they cut to break. [c]
They returned with Jax holding A.S.H. in her Cobra Clutch, but A.S.H. hit a sit-down jawbreaker only to be immediately flattened. Baszler tagged in as she hit a pump knee to A.S.H., Jax holding her then dropping her, for a two-count. She mounted and rained down punches. She then taunted A.S.H. about making a tag before whipping A.S.H. HARD face-first into the middle turnbuckle.
Jax tagged in, shook her rear, then hit a hip attack and stink face. A.S.H. crawled to the other neutral corner, then dodged Jax and rolled her into the turnbuckle. Jax knocked off Ripley, then lifted A.S.H. to go tag Baszler, but A.S.H. kicked Baszler away. Jax went for the Banzai Drop, but A.S.H. kicked the legs out. Ripley and Baszler tagged in with Ripley taking it to Baszler, including a big headbutt and dropkick. The crowd came back into the match with that hot tag.
Ripley hit a modified one-armed Northern Lights Suplex for a two-count. She kicked Baszler down, then climbed to the top rope and hit a missile dropkick. She dodged Jax as Jax went for a splash, instead landing on Baszler. Jax rolled outside and ate a crossbody from the top from A.S.H. to fire up the crowd. Ripley hit the Riptide for the victory and big pop. The victors posed in the ring.
WINNER: Nikki A.S.H. & Rhea Ripley at 10:27 (Riptide)
-Smith shifted to “depressing things for his broadcast partner” Graves as they replayed The Miz turning on Morrison. They cut to the back where Morrison said after tonight, that’s it: no more The Miz & Morrison. He said he’s ending it next week when he gets that “double crossing son of a bitch in the ring.”
-Riddle’s music hit to a good pop as he rode to the ring with a “bro” chant in the arena. He dapped up fans at ringside before entering the ring, and the birds are back. They hyped the “Championship Celebration” as they cut to break. [c]
(Hazelwood’s Take: WWE loves having established tag teams lose to mishmash tag teams, and this is another example. Jax & Baszler were the longest reigning Women’s Tag Team Champions, yet they lose pretty easily to a team that formed a week ago. However, the match did tell the story that was begun a few weeks ago with the initial Jax/Baszler breakup and the promo from earlier about “being on the same page.” They were clearly not on the same page tonight.)
-They returned with a Raw Talk promo featuring Priest, Flair, and Mahal.
RK-BRO TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP CELEBRATION
Riddle was in the ring, covered with a red carpet and balloons around. He had a mic and said bro. He said RK-Bro has been on a wild ride. First they were together, then Orton was gone, then Orton RKOd him, they got back together again, then they won the Tag Team Championship. He said now, there’s only one thing left to do: have the dopest celebration ever. He told San Diego to get on its feet to welcome Orton. Riddle gave an extended intro that rivaled Rome, then Orto’s music hit with his AR viper.
Orton entered reluctantly as Riddle sung along to the music (not into the mic). The crowed cheered as Riddle motioned. Orton asked how he was going to pose in the corner with the balloons in the way. Orton just looked annoyed. Riddle then told Rome to do what they rehearsed. Rome then reintroduced them as the new Tag Team Champion again. They posed and pyro exploded.
The crowd chanted “RK-Bro” as Orton looked on after the extended pyro. Riddle said friendship is just as important as a championship, so he went out and got something special for Orton. He went to the corner and retrieved a scooter with tassels attached as Orton just shook his head. Riddle said he made it himself and knew Orton was eyeing his scooter, so it’s like the best Christmas gift ever. He then showed Orton how to open and close it to bigger pops than there should have been.
Styles’ music then interrupted as he handed the scooter over. Styles didn’t have a mic, and just looked on from the ramp. He pointed at them, then Omos entered. Styles grabbed a mic from Omos’ jacket (nice). Styles said look Omos, Orton got a stupid scooter for you to break across your knee. He said he couldn’t help but notice that Orton didn’t get Riddle anything: no candy, no gifts, no plant even though it’s the obvious gift, not even a hug. Styles said don’t worry, he got Riddle something: a Phenomenal Forearm across his face to wipe that smile off of it. He said he’s going to whoop that ass like he’s done every time in the ring with Riddle until they get their rematch, including right here, right now.
Riddle said Styles might have won last week, but that was before RK-Bro was back together. He said he accepted skipper, and that he was going to win with the three most devastating letters in sports entertainment, “RK-Bro,” to which Graves said that’s five words. They cut to break. [c]
-They returned with more photos from Saturday, though the crowd seemed tired based off of their reactions to what was shown. Brood Edge received the biggest pop.
-They cut to Lashley and Sheamus’ conflict from earlier tonight stemming from Lashley walking out on their tag team match, and Smith said a singles match is confirmed for next week. In the same package, they showed Marie slamming Doudrop’s head into the equipment crate, also confirming a singles match for next week. They then showed The Miz turning on Morrison, confirming what Morrison stated earlier about facing The Miz next week.
(7) RIDDLE (w/Randy Orton) vs. A.J. STYLES (w/Omos) – Singles match
Styles rushed Riddle early, but Riddle rolled him up for a one-count. They circled, Riddle hit a go-behind, then he and Styles, a former amateur wrestler, traded some grappling reversals before breaking. Riddle grabbed a side headlock and took Styles down. Styles regained his footing and forced Riddle into the corner, not breaking and punching Riddle.
Riddle fought back with repeated chest kicks that sent Styles outside. He went to the apron and hit a PK. Styles jumped inside before Riddle could hit the springboard Floating Bro, then kicked Riddle off the ropes to the apron. Back in the ring, Riddle countered and hit three consecutive gutwrench suplexes without losing his grip for a one-count.
Styles grabbed the tights and forced Riddle throat-first into the ropes, then whipped him into a corner. He hit a leaping forearm in the corner that dropped Riddle. He brought Riddle to his feet, but Riddle hit a flurry of strikes. He went for a backbody drop, but Styles rolled into a Styles Clash attempt. Riddle turned it into a triangle armbar attempt, but Styles lifted them. Riddle flipped both of them over the top to the outside as Smith yelled, “Are you kidding me!?” They cut to break. [c]
They returned with Styles working Riddle with a rear chinlock. He went for a punch, but Riddle slid out and hit his overhead kick. He then hit his running corner forearms and an exploder, followed by a running PK and backflip that he missed on both, a Broton that he didn’t, and then the PK for a two-count. Riddle looked for the ripcord, probably Final Flash, but Styles hit his striking combo. Riddle ducked the spinning backfist and hit a German suplex bridge for a two-count.
Riddle lifted Styles for a Bro Derek, but Styles slid out and kicked the back of the leg. Riddle forced Styles into the corner, whipped him across, collapsed because of the knee, then ate a kick. Styles hit his signature moonsault from the second rope into the inverted DDT for a two-count. The crowd chanted for Riddle as Styles hit a pump handle gutbuster with a 12-6 elbow to the spine on impact.
Styles went to the apron and signaled for the Phenomenal Forearm. Riddle caught him, but Styles slid out and locked in the Calf Crusher. Orton ran to Riddle’s view and urged him to the rope, but Styles pulled him back to the middle of the ring and reapplied the submission. Riddle somehow turned it into a rear naked choke, Styles rolled back into a two-count, but then Riddle landed Final Flash as both men collapsed.
Riddle was holding his left knee as he tried to regain his footing. He climbed for the Floating Bro and just like last week, as distracted by Omos staring at him. Graves mentioned Riddle making the same mistake as Styles chop blocked Riddle. Orton went after Omos, but Omos caught him and threw him into the barricade. Styles lifted and hit a Burning Hammer for only a two-count! A frustrated Styles set for the Styles Clash, but Orton attacked Omos with the scooter, distracting Styles. Riddle hit the Final Flash and Bro Derek for the win.
WINNER: Riddle at 13:28 (Final Flash into Bro Derek)
-After the match, Orton & Riddle celebrated as they showed replays of Omos being attacked with the scooter and Riddle finishing the match. Orton tossed Riddle his title and hit Styles with an RKO. Omos dragged out Styles, who was only standing thanks to Omos’ support. The show ended with the visual of RK-Bro posing at Omos, holding up Styles.
(Hazelwood’s Take: A good match with a predictable ending, though seeing Orton waylay Omos with a scooter was kind of funny. Styles and Riddle always have good, smooth matches that still look hard-hitting. I wonder what this means for Styles’ plan to keep beating Riddle until they get their rematch since he lost right out of the gate. Maybe we’ll see Omos face Riddle or Orton again.)
FINAL THOUGHTS: It was better than last week, though some of the booking decisions are still questionable, like Ricochet and Jax & Baszler. I do like that they advertised three matches for next week, all that were built over the course of tonight’s show, though two of them had their seeds planted before. One thing I will pay close attention to moving forward is if McIntyre can maintain these kinds of pop as they continue to tour. After “story time” McIntyre went nowhere, “ass kicker” McIntyre seems to be getting somewhere, especially now that he’s separated from Mahal. Do we see Lashley vs. McIntyre in the next few months?