8/30 WWE MONDAY NIGHT RAW REPORT: Hazelwood’s alt-perspective on U.S. Championship Open Challenge, Lashley vs. Sheamus, Doudrop vs. Marie, more



AUGUST 30, 2021

Commentators: Jimmy Smith, Byron Saxton, Corey Graves

Ring Announcer: Mike Rome

Backstage Correspondent(s): Sarah Schreiber, Kevin Patrick 

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-The show began with a panning shot of the crowd, then another, as the RAWBot & Jimmy Smith welcomed viewers to Oklahoma City. Damian Priest’s music hit as he made his entrance to a good pop for his advertised United States Championship Open Challenge. Smith asked who has more momentum than Priest, who as I noted last week, has yet to lose a legitimate singles, tag, or six-man tag match having only lost multi-person matches in the Rumble, Last Chance battle royal, and handicap match. They showed split-screen photos of him winning the title.

Priest took a mic and said he felt alive. He said he always wanted to do this and said, “Welcome, Bienvenidos, to Monday Night Raw.” He said he became United States Champion at a history-making SummerSlam as a disjointed “You deserve it” chant started. He said he would show the title the honor it deserves like his predecessors, naming Rey Mysterio, Jr., Jeff Hardy, and John Cena. He said this is unlike Bobby Lashley, who ran away last week “like a coward.” He said he’s going to handle this right, said enough talk, and started the Open Challenge. Sheamus’ music hit as Priest looked exasperated.

Sheamus called him “Damo” a couple of times. He said great hospitality to the crowd as they booed him. He said he agreed that the “All Mighty Gobshite” is a coward. He then said the greatest maneuver in WWE history, the Brogue Kick, comes into play as he will kick Priest in the face to take back the gold. Drew McIntyre’s music then hit.

The “parade of challengers” continued with McIntyre saying as much as he wants to see Priest beat Sheamus’ ass for the five hundredth time, he thinks it’s time for something fresh (duh!). He said the only title that’s eluded him in his career is the U.S. Championship. He proposed McIntyre vs. Priest for the title tonight. He stepped to Priest, who smiled. Sheamus yelled for McIntyre to get his ass back in line. Lashley’s music hit.

Lashley & M.V.P. entered to sizable boos. The latter asked for applause to be held, then said Lashley would do an Open Challenge every week, but the problem is- he paused as a “Goldberg” chant started (weakly). M.V.P. said that problem has been dealt with, just like he’s dealt with the entire roster, so it doesn’t make sense to have an Open Challenge. He said in Priest’s case, it’s somewhat admirable, but not good for business. He said what’s good for business is Lashley vs. Priest to become double-champion (he asked for Lashley’s permission to state that, nice touch). Orton’s music hit next.

RK-Bro entered together. An “RK-Bro” chant started. Orton said he didn’t want to put words in Riddle’s mouth, man, but everything M.V.P. just said sucked. Riddle said not like a Roomba since that’s what they’re supposed to do. Orton said what he meant was that Lashley is a greedy son of a bitch who wants something he can’t have in a second championship. Riddle asked how would he even hold a second championship, it’s physically impossible- Orton lowered Riddle’s mic. Lashley said he does want another championship and maybe he should take the Tag Team Championship. Riddle said he has a great idea: Since the word of the day is “Open Challenge” (that’s two words), why don’t they have an Open Challenge against “Bobby and his own personal rodeo clown, M.V.P.?” Orton said you do know that isn’t how before M.V.P. said too late, they’re on.

Things broke down a bit before Adam Pearce & Sonya Deville entered saying there are two huge main events in front of them as Priest will defend against both Sheamus & McIntyre in a triple threat match. Deville said Lashley & M.V.P. face RK-Bro tonight, but didn’t say if it was for the title though Smith said three titles were on the line. Rhea Ripley’s music then hit. They cut to break hyping her match with Shayna Baszler. [c]

(Hazelwood’s Take: First, STOP with the parade of challengers! Beyond that, the segment actually worked out well for the most part. I like that McIntyre is shifting away from the WWE Championship picture with a realistic reason for why he would shift his focus beyond Lashley remaining WWE Champion. The “only title I haven’t held” story always seems to be one that draws fan support, so this could be a great way to reestablish McIntyre as a top-tier babyface. However, I do hope that Priest has a decent run before dropping it to McIntyre in the future. On the other hand, this segment also showed the lack of depth in the tag team division as instead of a tag team facing the new champion, it’s the WWE Champion and his manager. Had they had more tag matches in previous weeks building up a team like The Viking Raiders or literally any other team, at least that would have been a legitimate tag team making their challenge.)

-They returned with Smith announcing the triple threat match was official.

-Ripley had a mic and said allow her to introduce to everyone the person in her corner, Nikki A.S.H. There was really no reaction at the announcement, but a little better one when she entered. A.S.H. entered and posed in the ring as Ripley had that “I can’t believe I’m doing this” look. Basler & Nia Jax entered next to a round of boos. Jax took a mic and said just know by the end of the match, she’ll have splattered both of them on the mat and all around the ring and she’ll do the same to Flair.

(1) RHEA RIPLEY (w/Nikki A.S.H.) vs. SHAYNA BASZLER (w/Nia Jax) – Singles match

Baszler was distracted by Jax as Ripley attacked from behind. However, Baszler gained control with some grappling, working the left arm, but Ripley used her power to prevent Ripley from gaining an advantage. They were in a stalemate in the middle before Baszler trapped Ripley’s left arm only to miss her stomp as Ripley caught it. Baszler answered with a head kick.

Baszler then countered a belly-to-back with punches, then hit a pump knee for a one-count. They showed a slowmo of the head kick that caught flush. Baszler pounded away, then mounted Ripley’s back, landed some punches, then targeted the left arm. Ripley caught her in a rollup for a two-count, but was floored with a lariat. Baszler went back to the arm, placing it along the apron below the bottom rope, then trapping her hand under the black padding before launching herself and stomping on the arm. They cut to break. [c]

Baszler was working the arm with an arm wrench takedown as they returned from commercial break. Baszler then began her disrespectful kicks to Ripley, who was on her knees. A.S.H. was on the outside cheering on Ripley as the latter yelled at Baszler to hit her, so Baszler gave her a stiff kick to the chest. Baszler took her time, then Ripley gave her The Rock “just bring it” hand gesture, caught a kick, and hit a series of short-arm clotheslines to Baszler. She hit a short-arm headbutt, a snapmare, kick, and basement dropkick to a seated Baszler.

Ripley hit a bridging Northern Lights suplex for a two-count, then stretched out her arm a bit. Baszler hit a Kimura takedown, then smoothly transitioned to an armbar attempt that was momentarily blocked by Ripley. Baszler kept working for it with punches, but Ripley reached the ropes. The ref didn’t see, then saw as Baszler stretched out the arm and held until the ref counted three. Baszler went for a Kirifuda Clutch, but Ripley transitioned to a Riptide attempt. Ripley was distracted as Jax attacked A.S.H. on the outside. Baszler tried for a rollup, but Ripley countered and won with a rollup of her own.

After the match, Jax immediately attacked Ripley, then flattened her with a Samoan Drop. Smith & Graves said Jax lived up to her burtal words. They showed replays of the closing moments. Baszler was mad after the match as they left.

WINNER: Rhea Ripley at 10:24 (rollup counter)

-The Viking Raiders were shown in the back. They said some things I couldn’t hear, then talked about valor and bravery. They said after tonight, everyone will realize that the raid is on. They then did their chest pound and “raid” chant. They hyped The Viking Raiders vs. Jinder Mahal & Veer. The Viking Raiders made their entrance to a good pop, though I think that had more to do with their sudden pyro. The match graphic just said “Viking Raiders” yet the lower third said “The Viking Raiders.” They cut to break. [c]

(Hazelwood’s Take: It seems like they’re going to go back to the dissension story between Jax & Baszler just on a body language reading after the match. It also seems like they’re building up Ripley & A.S.H. to be Tag Team Champion. I want to give this another week or two to see where it actually leads. If it leads to more of the same or nothing, then it will have just been yet another time filler.)

(2) THE VIKING RAIDERS vs. JINDER MAHAL & VEER (w/Shanky) – Tag team match

Ivar and Veer began the match with a lockup and Veer with a side headlock. He hit a shoulder tackle to Ivar, who didn’t budge, then Ivar hit a big clothesline. He put Veer in their corner and tagged in Erik. Ivar bodyslammed Veer, then Erik bodyslammed his partner onto Veer. Erik pinned for a two-count.

Erik hit some Muy Thai plumb knees, then tagged in Ivar. Veer countered a whip, missed a clothesline, then hit a Thesz Press where he nearly flipped over Ivar. Mahal tagged in and took it to Ivar in their corner. Ivar fought back, but Mahal hit a gut knee, then a high leaping knee Triple H style after an Irish whip. Mahal tagged in Veer, who hit a speedy corner avalanche. Veer then hit a big forearm smash across the back, followed by some gut shots. Mahal tagged back in.

The crowd was dead for this as Mahal hit a short-arm clothesline and locked in his customary boring mid-match mid-ring armbar/rear chinlock combo. The crowd started a weak clap as Ivar rose to his fee, cartwheeled away from a clothesline, kicked Mahal, and tagged his partner to no reaction. Mahal blocked an overhead slam, but Erik came back and hit a big flying knee, almost a Busaiku Knee. Veer came in only to be caught in an overhead suplex. Erik then tossed Mahal over.

Ivar tagged in as he hit a rolling senton off of the apron to Shanky & Veer, but Mahal took the opportunity to take control. Erik made a blind tag, came in, then they hit The Viking Experience for the win. Smith didn’t even realize that was their finisher, just saying that’s got to be it. They showed replays of the closing sequence. Saxton called them The Viking Experience.

WINNER: The Viking Raiders at 4:48 (The Viking Experience)

-They showed McIntyre warming up in the back with Angela, the Claymore. They hyped the triple threat match for later in the evening, one of the two main events, for up next as they cut to break. [c]

-They returned with Sheamus already in the ring. McIntyre then entered next holding Angela, which apparently had a piece fly off during that backstage segment that I missed. Sheamus was yelling something at the announcers, and the announcers said Sheamus said McIntyre is overcompensating and no one needs a sword that big. Priest then entered to a pretty good pop still considering he began the show 50 minutes before and this is his second full entrance in less than an hour. Mike Rome gave formal introductions from the timekeeper’s area. Priest received the loudest reaction during introductions.

(3) DAMIAN PRIEST (c) vs. DREW MCINTYRE vs. SHEAMUS – United States Championship Open Challenge Triple Threat match

The match began with about seven minutes until the top of the hour. The three circled each other, then the two faces focused on Sheamus. Sheamus went after McIntyre, but then was double-teamed in the corner. McIntyre hit a running back elbow after whipping Sheamus into the ropes, then Sheamus rolled outside. Priest decided to do a much safer one-legged hilo over the rope to Sheamus, but Sheamus responded with a facebutt using the mask.

McIntyre followed and he and Sheamus began beating on each other outside the ring as Graves reminded that pinfall or submission are the only paths to victory. McIntyre whipped Sheamus toward Priest, who backbody dropped Sheamus into the timekeeper’s area. They cut to break. [c]

Sheamus was on the top rope fighting off Priest, then landing a flying clothesline for a two-count as they returned. He worked the small of the back with short knees, then turned to McIntyre on the apron, tossing him into the ring post. Priest tried fighting back against Sheamus, but missed a spin kick. He blocked an Irish Curse and locked in a shoulder lock that looked almost like The Undertaker’s Hell’s Gate, only on the arm. Sheamus hit an Irish Curse, posed with Priest on his knee, then punched Priest as the latter tried grabbing the face mask.

Priest crawled to the apron and tried fighting off Sheamus with back elbows, but Sheamus hit three big shots to the back before hitting the Ten Beats of the Bodhran. He finished with a forearm to the back that sent Priest to the floor. Sheamus posed to a round of boos, but turned around to McIntyre flooring him with clotheslines and an overhead suplex, followed by one out of the corner. He hit his leaping neckbreaker and a kip up.


He set for the Future Shock, but Sheamus slipped out for a rollup that scored a two-count. He sidestepped McIntyre, who ran into the post shoulder-first. Priest reentered, hit a thunderclap, then hit a spinning heel kick. He hit leaping corner elbows to both men, then floored Sheamus with a punch. McIntyre blocked the chokebreaker attempt, then sent Priest outside. McIntyre observed, then hit a tope con hilo clean over the ropes to both men on the outside.

McIntyre rose to his feet first and sent Priest into the ring. He hit a Michinoku Driver to Priest for a two-count that Smith said nine out of ten “superstars” would have lost to that (maybe in the 90s). McIntyre lifted Priest and hit a punch and chop, the latter flooring Priest after wobbling his legs. He then chopped Priest again in the corner, then again before lifting Priest to a seated position on the top rope.

McIntyre climbed and hit a few punches to Priest, but Priest fought back. Sheamus reentered the ring and punched out McIntyre’s leg. This put McIntyre into the Tree of Woe while Priest was still seated with Sheamus taking it to both of them. He climbed for a superplex on Priest, but McIntyre lifted himself for an avalanche spider German suplex/superplex combo, with Priest taking the worst. They took another break. [c]

Sheamus and McIntyre were beating on each other when they returned. They traded stiff shots to the kidneys, then Sheamus hit an Alabama Slam on McIntyre (McIntyre uses the inverted version) for a two-count. Sheamus hit a facebutt to McIntyre from a seated position, then went to lock in the Cloverleaf and he did. McIntyre sold the pain on his face. Priest reentered and hit a stiff head kick to Sheamus to break the hold, then a huge choke slam with a release, the pin being broken up by McIntyre.

McIntyre was holding his ribs as he and Priest traded blows from their knees before regaining their feet. McIntyre hit some more chops, went for Future Shock, Priest blocked, went for The Reckoning, but Sheamus hit the Brogue Kick on him. The momentum sent Priest outside. McIntyre rolled up Sheamus for a two-count, then hit Future Shock. He counted down from three with the crowd counting down loudly only for Sheamus to hit a pump knee as a counter for a two-count! I thought it was a Brogue Kick at first, so I was surprised.

The crowd started a “This is awesome” chant as Sheamus took McIntyre to a corner and lifted him for an avalanche White Noise. He was on the second rope and hit. McIntyre kicked out just before three! Priest reentered the ring, lifted Sheamus, and hit a combo of punches and kicks. Sheamus responded with a White Noise attempt, but Priest countered. He went for The Reckoning, but Sheamus countered. Priest dodged a Claymore, which hit Sheamus, then hit The Reckoning to retain. They showed replays of the closing sequence after the match. The crowd popped pretty loudly for Priest’s victory.

McIntyre was sitting in the corner looking dejected. Priest looked at him, smiled, cocked his head, then looked at McIntyre with dual respect. The two men approached in the middle of the ring, Priest dropping his title, then McIntyre extended his hand. Priest shook it for a sign of respect from the former WWE Champion to the defending United States Champion.

WINNER: Damian Priest at 21:30 (The Reckoning) to retain the United States Championship

-Graves then shifted to recapping Goldberg’s knee injury at SummerSlam and Lashley hitting The Hurt Lock on Gage. They hyped Goldberg, speaking earlier today, as they cut to break. [c]

(Hazelwood’s Take: Priest getting the clean pin over the most recent WWE Champion not holding the title is huge. they could have easily gone the rout of him pinning Sheamus, but it’s nice to see they gave him arguably the bigger “trophy” in McIntyre. The story of the match was also built around McIntyre taking a lot of punishment and barely kicking out of high impact maneuvers prior to that point, and it’s also great it only took one finisher by Priest to defeat McIntyre. Priest continues his winning streak, and does this portend a Priest victory in the Royal Rumble match?)

-They returned hyping the main event tag team match for later tonight, though the graphic had no mention of it being a title match, so maybe Smith jumped it a little earlier. They then shifted to a video and photo replay of the Lashley vs. Goldberg match from SummerSlam. Graves said Goldberg had to be indignant after those events. Smith then shifted to a video from earlier. It was a “WWE Digital Exclusive.” Goldberg said he has ligament damage and impending knee surgery. He said he cares about “that son of a bitch” Lashley and what he did to Gage. He said Gage is at home with his shoulder jacked up. He said the mission has changed. He’s not coming for the WWE Championship; he’s coming for Lashley’s soul and will rip it out of his chest (no he won’t, this isn’t Temple of Doom.)

-The shifted to another Reggie video of him walking in a park. He said he always dreamed of leaving his hood and touring the country and it’s now a reality as the 24/7 Champion. He looked over and laughed at the obvious R-Truth and Akira Tozawa in costumes. He leaped over the fence and began running away as Truth asked why Reggie is jumping over gates and stuff. Reggie climbed some of the playground equipment, ran away, then leaped onto a short bridge above them. They “cornered” him with the bridge ending in a wall. Reggie flipped over Tozawa in the dog costume, parkoured away from Truth, then ran away.

-Eva Marie then made her entrance to no reaction. Graves asked how could you not be inspired by Marie, and Saxton said he’s the only person in the building who draws inspiration from her. Graves said he’s also the only person in the building who has a chance with her, and told Saxton to shut up. They cut to break. [c]

-They returned hyping their 25 million followers on Instagram, more than MLB, ESPN, DAZN, NHL, and NFL. Marie was bouncing around in the ring. They showed a video detailing the history between Marie & Doudrop and their recent break at SummerSlam, followed by Marie’s attack last week that led to the scheduled match. Doudrop entered after to upbeat dance music (not good). She skipped to the ring and basically had spirit fingers as she held her arms out in front of her. Marie had her back turned, so Doudrop just attacked her, hit a bodyslam, then a senton, then a running splash to a seated Marie and pinned her, counting the three herself. She told the ref she couldn’t continue, to the match was cancelled. She really didn’t sell the attack well. Doudrop went to the outside and announced herself the winner. They lingered on these two for a long time after the “match.”

-They showed Charlotte Flair walking in the back as Sarah Schreiber approached asking about Jax. Flair said Jax is a monster, but tonight she is going to slay the nasty kraken in Jax. She said she is the most decorated woman in WWE history and said long live the queen in an awkward pose.

-Karrion Kross entered in his Halloween costume gladiator getup and helm. He stood in the ring and removed his helm slowly. He scowled as he pounded his chest in beat with the drums to his music, then yelled. They hyped Kross vs. Humberto Carrillo as they cut to break. [c]

(Hazelwood’s Take: They found another way to get out of a Marie match, but having the babyface attack the heel from behind before the match, then announce herself the winner of a non-match, isn’t very face to me.)

-Carrillo was entering as they returned from break; it’s great to hear his music again, and see him in action of course.


Kross immediately forced Carrillo into the corner and kicked away, but Carrillo fought back with a kick from the apron and crossbody off of the top rope. He hit a few leg kicks, but Kross caught him off a springboard, ran through a clothesline attempt, then flipped Carrillo around with a lariat. He preened a bit before pinning for a two-count. Kross hit a snap suplex and floated over for another two-count.

He put Carrillo into the corner and kicked away again, then asked Carrillo to chop him some. He then hit a big back elbow after whipping Carrillo off of the ropes for a two-count. There was NO crowd reaction. He then flipped Carrillo into the corner, took some more time, then dragged Carrillo away for a two-count. He then cinched in a rear chinlock for some reason. He then hit a reverse Northern Lights suplex for a two-count, then cinched in the chinlock once again.

Carrillo broke away with a jawbreaker, then hit his leaping kick to the face. He hit a running dropkick to Kross in the corner, but Kross sent him to the apron. Carrillo draped him across the top, but leaped right into a big forearm. Kross hit his Doomsday Saito suplex, caressed Carrillo’s head, then the Kross Jacket for the win. They showed replays after the match.

WINNER: Karrion Kross at 4:15 by submission (Kross Jacket)

-Smith then shifted to Jax’s comments from earlier in the evening and her attacking A.S.H. outside the ring and Ripley after the match. They showed Jax in Gorilla as Schreiber asked if she was confident she could splatter Flair. Jax said she will crush Flair and anyone who gets in her way. She says what she did to A.S.H. was just a taste, and she’s going to take that crown and shove it up “her royal behind.” She entered for her match with Flair. They showed Flair lacing up her boots in what appeared to be her own suite. They hyped the main event and then Flair vs. Jax as they cut to break. [c]

(Hazelwood’s Take: Kross just looks ridiculous. Further, why have two rest holds in the middle of a veritable squash match? The crowd was and has been dead for him, and his look and decisions in the ring just keep that streak going. I think he needs a wholesale character change OR to introduce Scarlett as his manager like in NXT. Otherwise, it just seems like time that could be better spent on others.)

-They returned with another graphic for the main event tag team match as Jax’s music was playing in the background. They showed RK-Bro in the back to a huge pop. Riddle said this is a big night for their resumes, but he’s never been good at putting a resume together. Orton said the only thing he needs to be good at today is being a good tag team partner. Riddle said don’t worry, he won’t let Orton down, but he’s also good at things like talking to the babes, being fast, being slow, growing, etc.

-They cut back to the ring as Jax just glared toward the entrance. Flair’s music hit as “woos” sounded around the arena. Graves discussed their tag team match where Flair took the pin from Jax.

(5) CHARLOTTE FLAIR (c) vs. NIA JAX – Non-title match

Flair immediately fled the ring as Jax rushed her. Flair told her to back it up as she took her time reentering the ring. She fled again as Jax nearly caught her this time.


She sidestepped Jax on the next one, laughing it off, then locked up with Jax. Jax forced Flair into the ropes, but Flair grabbed the hair to break the hold, then slapped the hair and smiled. She tried hitting a shoulder tackle to Jax, but Jax just stood there. Flair acted like she was going for another, but kicked the knee instead. She went for a suplex, but couldn’t lift Jax. Jax instead hit a headbutt to Flair, sending her to her knees.

Jax lifted Flair for the Samoan Drop, but Flair slipped out. However, Jax just ran right into Flair against the ropes, then one more time into the corner. She signaled for the Stink Face, but Flair moved and started kicking away. Flair leaped into a side headlock, using the hair for more leverage, and held on when Jax tried to shove her off. Jax finally shoved her into the ropes and hit a shoulder tackle.

Jax began toying with Flair, slapping her and slamming her face-first into the mat. Flair tried responding with back elbows, but was sent into the corner, which she flipped onto the apron. She then locked in a Dragon Sleep across the top rope. She then cranked Jax’s neck back against the ropes. Flair reentered and jumped into a Sleeper Hold, but Jax flung her off, then hit a big one-armed spinebuster that was kind of botched by Flair landing one foot first, then to her back. Flair rolled out before Jax could attempt a pin.

After collecting herself, Flair slowly reentered the ring as Jax allowed her the time. Flair pulled the middle rope down to send Jax outside (even though she pulled it very early), then hit a springboard splash to Jax on the outside. She yelled to get the crowd into the match as they cut to break. [c]

Flair had Jax in a side headlock as they returned, but Jax just lifted and tossed Flair down. Jax hit a few forearms, then smiled, but ran into the post shoulder-first. Flair keeps moving a step too early and it makes it look like Jax is dumb for continuing through. Flair climbed for a moonsault, but Jax got the knees up and hit a Samoan Drop. Jax then missed a leg drop and Flair hit a running boot. They rose to their feet and Flair just slapped Jax. Jax mushed Flair in the ropes. Jax then slapped back, and it broke down a bit. Jax may have been potatoing Flair a bit after that.

Flair looked for some kind of Dragon Sleeper maybe, before basically hitting an inverted DDT for a two-count. Flair then took out the knee and mounted Jax, landing some punches. She turned back to the left leg and hit a leg DDT. She then shoved Jax’s head from the back twice, then rubbed her butt in Jax’s face.

Jax then kicked Flair into the turnbuckle to counter a Figure Four. She walked around to work out the leg a bit, then dragged Flair to her in the middle of the ring. She lifted Flair and hit her powerbomb-chokeslam for the clean pin. Jax had her arms raised and just glared at the crowd. They showed replays after the match as Flair hardly moved in the ring. Jax exited the ring laughing.

WINNER: Nia Jax at 13:46 (powerbomb-chokeslam)

-Graves hyped the main event tag team match as they cut back to the Championship Celebration from last week and the ensuing match with Riddle vs. A.J. Styles, including Orton attacking Omos with a scooter and Riddle winning.

-They cut to John Morrison who said he was supposed to have a match with The Miz, but he “splashed off.” He said he was there to prove to his acting coach that he was the better man, so he asked for and was granted a match against the biggest man he knows, Omos. Omos said sucked to be him, walked away, and Morrison had it dawn on him that yeah, it does suck to be him. Omos entered with Styles, holding his fist high. They cut to break hyping Morrison vs. Omos. [c]

(Hazelwood’s Take: The big topic coming out of the Flair-Jax match, judging by Twitter, is if that turned into an actual shoot during the match with both women slapping and potatoing each other. The other topic is Jax getting a CLEAN victory of the recently-crowned Women’s Champion. This probably means Jax is facing Flair at Extreme Rules, though with the dissension between Jax & Baszler, she probably won’t win.)

-They returned with a video postcard highlighting the college and professional teams in Oklahoma, then shifted back to the ring with Omos’ music playing as Saxton hyped Extreme Rules with a quick ad read. Styles was hyping up Omos in the ring. Morrison’s music hit as he entered to a decent pop. He was carrying out the bucket of Drip Sticks at an angle, so water was falling out. He did his slowmo pose, then sprayed the fans a bit as they cut back to Omos with an unimpressed look. Smith reminded viewers that Morrison requested the match.

(6) JOHN MORRISON vs. OMOS (w/A.J. Styles) – Singles match

The bell rung and Morrison acted like he was going to spray Omos, but Omos punched it out of his hand. Morrison dodged Omos in the corner, but then got caught by Omos. Morrison was able to escape and hit some capoeira kicks, but Omos caught Morrison and ran him over the top rope to the outside as Graves said hardcore parkour didn’t work out well for Morrison.

Omos threw him at the steps, but Morrison flipped over and landed. He flipped off the steps, but slipped. Omos lifted him and clotheslined him, then rolled him back in. The ref stopped counting at nine as Omos hit the apron, but hadn’t yet entered the ring. Omos hit his big two-handed chokeslam in the ring for the victory. The match was more sloppy because of Morrison’s slips, unfortunately.

WINNER: Omos at 2:02 (two-handed chokeslam)

-After the match, The New Day’s music hit as Xavier Woods made his entrance for his match in his Razor Ramon gear. He played his trombone as he made his way to the ring to Styles’ chagrin. They cut to break hyping Woods vs. Styles. [c]

-They returned with a Raw Talk promo featuring The Viking Raiders, Sheamus, & Jax.

(7) XAVIER WOODS vs. A.J. STYLES (w/Omos) – Singles match

The match began with both men circling and Woods hitting a go-behind. Styles backed him into a corner, but Woods hit a huge chop and went to work on Styles in a corner with more chops. Styles responded with a gut kick and whipped Woods off of the ropes, but Woods turned it into a side Russian leg sweep. Styles was outside, but dodged Woods going through the ropes with a dropkick. However, Woods caught him and thrust him onto the ringside barricade. He rolled Styles back in for a two-count.

Woods kicked out the knee of Styles, then stepped up off his back and landed a senton for a two-count. The crowd started a New Day rocks clap as Styles kicked Woods and hit a forearm from the apron. He signaled for the Phenomenal Forearm, but Woods rolled out of the opposite side of the ring. Styles instead hit a fast baseball slide, then rolled Woods back in for a two-count.

Styles caught a Woods kick and brought it down across his shoulder, then hit an inverted kneebreaker. He then strapped Woods’ left leg around his, then hit an elbow to the leg before cranking on it. Woods landed punches across the face to break the hold, but limped up. Styles immediately targeted the leg again, but Woods hit an arm drag counter and a superkick to the gut. He then hit a La Magistral Cradle for a two-count, then a flurry of strikes to Styles.

He hit a discus forearm to floor Styles, an homage to Brodie Lee, and hit a thrusting shoulder in the corner. Woods landed a release Northern Lights suplex for a two-count, then pounded his knee. He looked for a vertical suplex, but Styles countered with a knee, then landed an enziguri. Styles signaled for the Styles Clash, but Woods rolled out and put Styles in the Tree of Woe. He proceeded to land several body shots, then hit a leaping dropkick to Stylesfor a two-count. He couldn’t get a good cover because of Styles’ proximity to the ropes.

Styles rolled out of a suplex and hit a big leg kick to Woods compromised knee. He then caught Woods and rolled into the Calf Crusher in the middle of the ring. Woods crawled to the bottom rope nearest the announce desk, but he suddenly tapped! Wow, was not expecting that.

WINNER: A.J. Styles at 7:12 by submission (Calf Crusher)

-After the match, RK-Bro made their entrance with Styles & Omos (and Woods) still at ringside. Rome announced it as a title match. They cut to break hyping the main event. [c]

(Hazelwood’s Take: That was a solid match, what you’d expect from Styles and Woods. That finish did catch me by surprise, but Styles had been working the leg the entire match. It makes sense, but just surprising in WWE.)

-They returned with RK-Bro waiting in the ring as Styles joined commentary with Omos standing behind. Lashley’s awesome Tron played as he made his entrance with M.V.P. Graves said Lashley is treading toward “demi-god” territory.

(8) RK-BRO (c) vs. BOBBY LASHLEY & M.V.P. – Tag Team Championship match

There were no formal introductions for this match. Riddle immeidately rushed Lashley, but Lashley mowed him down. He then hit a delayed vertical suplex after holding it for about ten seconds, scoring a two-count. He tagged in M.V.P. who began throwing hands at Riddle’s face in their corner. He then hit some sort of slam that was missed on camera for another two-count.

Riddle forced M.V.P. into their corner and tagged in Orton, who kicked away at his foe, then stomped on his hand. He stomped on his hand again, this time leaving his foot on the hand. Orton tagged in Riddle, who hit an assisted Floating Bro on M.V.P., but M.V.P. kicked out before one and fled the ring. Lashley came over, and the two were distracted by Orton, allowing Riddle to hit a springboard Floating Bro. They cut to break. [c]

Riddle was beating on Lashley as they returned, but Lashley ducked a clothesline and landed a big lifting flatliner for a two-count. M.V.P. tagged in, beat on Riddle a bit, and scored a two-count before locking in an armbar/chinlock combo like Mahal. Riddle fought to his feet, hit a bunch of kicks, and flipped out of a caught kick. Orton tagged in and laid out M.V.P. with two clotheslines, then hit the ten punches in the corner. M.V.P. kicked Orton’s face, but ran right into his snap powerslam.

Orton motioned for the RKO, but Orton turned to Lashley and kicked him, set him for his draping DDT, and hit. Smith said, “Can you believe it?” M.V.P. hit a running boot to Orton as Orton set for an RKO on Lashley. M.V.P. threw him into the post shoulder-first as a “Randy” chant started. Lashley tagged in and took it to Orton in the corner with strikes, then shoulder thrusts, including a running one. Graves marveled at Lashley’s speed as he hit another running shoulder thrust. He hit a swinging neckbreaker, then posed for The Hurt Lock.

Orton tried a RKO counter, but Lashley threw him off. Riddle tagged in, hit an overhead kick, then two running forearms in the corner. Lashley blocked the exploder attempt, but Riddle hit a Final Flash and climbed for the Floating Bro, which he hit. M.V.P. broke it up with a foot stomp! M.V.P. tagged in and hit a running boot, but then Riddle hit an overhead kick counter.

On the outside, Lashley lifted Orton for his run into the post, but Orton slipped out and shoved Lashley into the post. Omos grabbed Orton, but Styles hit a dropkick through the ropes. Orton then hit his belly-to-back to Styles on the announce table. Back in the ring, Riddle hit the Final Flash and Floating Bro on M.V.P. for the victory.

After the match, Lashley hit a huge spear to Riddle, but then turned around into a big RKO from Orton. The show ended with RK-Bro retreating up the ramp in celebration as Lashley recovered in the ring with a furious look on his face.

WINNER: RK-Bro at 11:55 (Floating Bro) to retain the Tag Team Championship

(Hazelwood’s Take: You had to know that match would have a distraction or non-finish. Technically, the ref should have called for the DQ when Omos got involved, but oh well. M.V.P. taking the pin is the right call if you don’t want to have a double-champ in Lashley, and it also keeps the WWE Champion strong. You could argue the RKO he suffered after brings him down a bit, but he could argue that he was focused on Riddle and was attacked from behind all while he overlooks how he speared Riddle in a sneak attack just after the match. I wonder if this will set for a Lashley-Orton WWE Championship match at Extreme Rules and if so, will either pull double duty depending on match placement with a match probably against Styles & Omos for the Tag Team Championship as well?)

FINAL THOUGHTS: Honestly, outside of a few things during that second hour, it was one of the better episodes of the year. Sure, none of the three matches advertised last week actually happened tonight (Lashley vs. Sheams, Doudrop vs. Marie, Morrison vs. The Miz), but the matches and show proceeded smoothly and had good action. It’s clear that WWE is behind Priest based on his booking in the short and long-term, and scoring a pinfall over McIntyre. I’m predicting he will win the Royal Rumble match based on his trajectory since making his debut on Raw.

One thing I’ve noticed is that with the third hour, there are so many replays of earlier segments that you don’t see on Friday nights in the tidy two hours. I do think they worked it better here as they seemed to show replays as table setters for the forthcoming matches, the context. I think there was a good mixture tonight of backstage segments, video replays, and matches, though I could really do without these parade of challengers. Going back to last Tuesday, that’s the third consecutive main WWE show that’s had a parade of challengers.

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