SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
KELLER’S WWE RAW REPORT
SEPTEMBER 13, 2021
AIRED ON USA NETWORK
Commentators: Jimmy Smith, Byron Saxton, Corey Graves
-Jimmy Smith introduced the show right away without the Raw opening theme and hyped the Randy Orton challenge of Bobby Lashley for the WWE Title. Big E then came out with the Money in the Bank briefcase. He made a big show of having the briefcase in the ring and the slid to ringside where he stood on the announce desk. Randy Orton made his way to the ring with Riddle on a scooter next to him. Bobby Lashley made his entrance next, with MVP walking behind him. Lashley was wearing a suit and didn’t look at all ready to wrestle. Graves said while Big E “made his intentions known, we don’t necessarily know that Big E will cash in.” (WWE wanted it both ways here, it seems; Big E said he plans to cash in tonight, but they sneak in that Big E doesn’t necessarily have to cash in).
Big E entered the ring and stepped between Lashley and Orton. He said he still fully intends to cash in tonight. Riddle told Big E it’s great to have him back on Raw, but he asked Big E to please not to cash in on Randy because he’s his best bro. MVP said Orton won’t be winning the WWE Title tonight, so therefore Big E won’t be cashing in on Orton. MVP said of all the nights he could cash in, he showed up on the wrong night. He said normally when Big E shows up, he’s happy to see him because he dances and shakes his behind and acts like an idiot. He said he and Lashley aren’t in the mood tonight. He said they were supposed to be competing for the Raw Tag Team Titles tonight because they won Tag Team Turmoil last wwek, but Orton politicked to get the Lashley-Orton match moved from Extreme Rules to tonight instead.
Orton said it’s been 14 years since he and Lashley have fought in the ring, so he figured why wait two more weeks. He said he decided to throw him off his game by changing the date. He said what happened is simple. He said he told the person with the power what he wanted and they did it “because I’m Randy ‘Freakin’ Orton.” Fans chanted “Randy! Randy!” MVP asked the fans if they’ve suddenly forgotten about Big E with the briefcase. MVP said of the New Day clowns he hangs out with, he thinks he’d be the first one to win the WWE Title. He said he believed he had the most potential. He said then won the MITB briefcase once he moved to the singles division. He said he’s on Raw because he must be afraid of Roman Reigns or Brock Lesnar. Big E said he’s not. MVP promised Big E that after he sees what Lashley does to Orton, he will fear the All Mighty also. Orton said the fight is here and he has proven in recent weeks, it only takes one RKO to bring Lashley to his knees. He said that is exactly what is going to happen tonight when he beats him to become the WWE Champion. Big E said then he can cash in and become champion.
Lashley said he had heard enough. He said he will take pleasure in beating Orton tonight. He told Big E if he comes even close to cashing in, he will shove the briefcase up his ass. As Lashley and Big E exchanged heated words, Orton gave Lashley an RKO. Smith exclaimed, “Three times in three weeks!” Orton celebrated at ringside. Big E sat in the corner and watched.
(Keller’s Analysis: They gave the impression, on purpose I presume, that the match was going to start right away, only to have Lashley come out in a suit. It was just a talking segment, but it was good at setting the stage for the stakes later. It’s somewhat comical that when WWE does advertise a match a week head, the odds of it happening as planned aren’t all that high.)
-They showed Charlotte Flair warming up backstage. [c]
-A clip aired of the dissension between Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax last week.
-Sarah Schreiber interviewed Charlotte who said Baszler will never get to her level if she continues to get dragged down by dead weight. She said she got to the top on her own. She said when all is said and done, she will be champion and her reign will last forever. “Long live the Queen!” she said.
(1) CHARLOTTE FLAIR vs. SHAYNA BASZLER
Graves said Charlotte’s attitude got her success and she has become the most decorated female wrestler in WWE history. As Charlotte made her entrance, they plugged her title defense against Alexa Bliss. The referee took off her robe and carried it out of the ring. (How is that the referee’s job?) As Baszler made her entrance, they showed a clip from earlier of Jax confronting Baszler backstage about costing her the match last week. Baszler said she just did to her what Jax has done before. She said Jax can’t beat Charlotte, but she can. Jax took a deep breath and said she just wants to get on the same page. Saxton said it’s unlikely that they get on the same page. In the opening minute, Baszler took control, but Charlotte avoided a slidekick and then slingshot herself onto Baszler at ringside. “Right now, the Queen is reigning,” Smith said as they cut to a very early break. [c]
Back from the break, Charlotte was still in control. Baszler, though, knocked her off balance. Baszler scored a quick two count. Baszler applied a Kirafuda Clutch. Charlotte escaped, but Baszler came right back with a German suplex and a kick for a two count. Charlotte went for a boot, but Baszler backed away, so Charlotte landed a spinning elbow for a two count. Baszler bailed out to the floor where Charlotte set up a top rope moonsault. She, as usual, barely grazed Baszler but they all sold it like it was a devastating move. Jax then walked out and DISTRACTED Charlotte. Baszler threw Charlotte into the ringside steps. They cut to a break. [c]
Back from the break, Charlotte was in control. She clipped Baszler’s knee and then wrapped it around the middle rope and hung upside down. She released before the five count, then taunted Jax at ringside. Back in the ring, Baszler avoided a knee drop. When Baszler connected with a leaping kneelift to Charlotte’s head, Jax stood on the ring apron and DISTRACTED her. Charlotte then kicked Baszler in the face and scored a three count.
WINNER: Charlotte in 14:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: The match was good. There wasn’t a good reason to root for either of them over the other. The Jax distraction didn’t really evoke any strong emotions, either. Just two people bickering and costing each other matches without a sympathetic player among them.)
-After the match, Alexa Bliss came out with Lilly and a wrapped gift box. She put Lilly on the top turnbuckle. She offered Charlotte a gift as thanks for the title match. Charlotte said she doesn’t collect gifts, she collects championships. She told Charlotte that Lilly is right, everyone loves a gift. “So take it,” she insisted. Charlotte gave in and said “Yes,” but then quickly switched to “No!” Bliss said, “Yes!” Fans chanted “Yes!” Charlotte said she does love gifts, so okay. She grabbed the box and said it’s not ticking, so that’s good. She opened the box and inside was a Charlotte doll that looked sorta like Lilly. Bliss said, “Her name is Charly and she looks just like her.” Fans chanted, “Charly! Charly!” Bliss said they wanted to give her something to play with after she takes her title at Extreme Rules. Bliss said everyone deserves a friend, even a narcissistic, self-absorbed bitch like you. Charlotte admitted she is a bit narcissistic and the doll at least has matching accessories. She said she’s crazy if she thinks she’s taking her Raw Title, and she’s crazier if she thinks she wants the doll. Charlotte said she’ll have Mattel send her her very own Charlotte action figure when she gets locked up in the cell. “Long live the Queen,” she closed with. She then threw the doll at Bliss, which upset Bliss. Bliss leaped in Charlotte’s arms and punched away at her, then kicked her out of the ring. Charlotte rolled right back in, but Bliss gave her a sunset bomb. Bliss held up her belt and carried Lilly as Charlotte sat at ringside leaning against the apron as Bliss’s music played.
(Keller’s Analysis: Entertaining nonsense with everyone playing their part well enough. The crowd liked the Charlotte doll. This is in line with Bliss playing mind games with opponents.)
-Drew McIntyre made his ring entrance. They hyped the six-man tag match was up next. Drew carried a sword out, but didn’t jab it into that tacky fake stone that you’d find in a garden landscaping store. [c]
(2) DREW MCINTYRE & THE VIKING RAIDERS vs. JINDER MAHAL & VEER & SHANKY
After the break, Jinder Mahal jumped Drew from behind. Veer and Shanky joined in the beatdown. The Viking Raiders then ran out and made the save. The heels leaped out of the ring. Graves said he talked to Drew earlier and he told him he is trying to reassert himself after coming up short in capturing titles. Drew got a hot tag and rallied. He gave Jinder a spinebuster and then gave Veer a Michinoku Driver. He followed up with the Claymore for the win.
WINNERS: Drew & Raiders in 3:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: A dominant win. Can Drew and the Raiders move on from Veer & Shanky now?)
-They cut backstage with Xavier Woods and Kofi Kingston flanking Big E. Big E said tonight is the night. Big E told Kofi he’s been there and done that, so does he have any advice. Kofi said he has everything it takes to become the Face of WWE and win tonight. Xavier told him they need to help him relax, so they did a New Day cheer.
(Keller’s Analysis: I’m sure somebody out there found that endearing, but I’m quite ready for Woods & Kingston to turn heel.)
-Damian Priest made his ring entrance. [c]
-A graphic touted WWE has over 80 million views on TikTok.
-They went backstage to Reggie running from wrestlers between a wall and a trailer truck only to be cut off by R-Truth. He ran through and over various vehicles and crates. Drake Maverick walked up to them in a suit. Truth said the plan didn’t work. Drake said the problem wasn’t the plan, it was the execution. Truth and Tozawa argued over who messed up worse.
-A soundbite aired with Damian Priest from earlier saying he is looking forward to facing someone he admires. Then Graves plugged Priest will defend against Sheamus at Extreme Rules.
(3) DAMIAN PRIEST vs. JEFF HARDY – U.S. Title match
As the match was about to begin, Sheamus’s music played. He walked out with a cool new backdrop of a bar street scene from Ireland on a rainy evening. He joined the announcers on commentary. Sheamus criticized Priest shooting imaginary arrows. Hardy dove off the ring apron and clotheslined Priest at ringside. Fans chanted, “Let’s go, Hardy!” Priest kicked Hardy off the ring apron and then landed a somsersault onto Hardy at ringside. He and Sheamus argued as they cut to a break. [c]
-An NXT 2.0 commercial hyped tomorrow night’s show: “NXT 2.0, new place, new faces.” It advertised the NXT Championship match.
Back live in the ring, Smith said Priest vs. Hardy has been a shootout. They exchanged wild swings mid-ring. Hardy landed a Russian leg sweep and then leveraged Priest’s shoulders down. Priest’s shoulders were down long past the two count, but the ref stopped even though Hardy merely shifted backwards a bit but was still leveraging Priest’s shoulders flat on the mat. He scored another two count seconds later after a flying clothesline. He landed a second rope splash for a near fall. (Odd seeing Hardy land a second rope splash.) A graphic hyped Doudrop vs. Eva Marie later. Priest stood and made a comeback, landing a leaping spinning wheel kick for a near fall. Priest then climbed to the top rope, but Hardy caught up with him. They battled. Priest leaped off the ropes with some sort of a leg lariat for a near fall. Graves said the admiration Priest had for Hardy has turned to frustration. Hardy rolled Priest’s shoulders down for another near fall. Priest came back with a Reckoning. It looked a bit awkward, but led to the three count.
WINNER: Priest in 11:00.
-Sheamus leaped into the ring and attacked Priest. He then knocked Hardy to the floor with a Brogue Kick. Sheamus turned to Priest and charged, but Priest caught him with a kick. Sheamus bumped to the floor and checked his mouth for blood.
(Keller’s Analysis: Some clunky moments. There’s still that something about Priest matches that doesn’t quite click sometimes, and it’s tough to pinpoint how or why.)
-Nikki Cross and Rhea Ripley chatted backstage. Ripley said they need to focus on the Women’s Tag Team Titles. In walked Tamina and Natalya. Natalya called them freaks who will never win the tag titles. Ripley said that’s not the first time she’s been called a freak, and they’ll soon be known as former tag team champions. Natalya said they dominate eras. A brawl broke out. Sonya Deville ran in and stepped between them and yelled, “Stop!” She then booked Tamina vs. Nikki next.
-Nikki made her ring entrance. [c]
-Smith touted WWE signing Gable Steveson.
-Backstage, Riddle stood behind Randy in the locker room and talked about the tag team titles having sentimental value to him, so he hopes that Orton he wins the WWE Title, he will wear the tag title higher. Orton put on headphones to tune out Riddle, but he kept talking anyway. Big E wandered in and said he wanted to wish Orton the best of luck later. He said he’ll be watching very, very closely. When Big E said “Toodles,” Riddle told Orton he used to have a pet chameleon named “Toodles.” He said he was a great listener, just like Orton. “And that makes sense because you’re both reptiles.” He rambled on and Orton put the headphones back on.
(4) NIKKI A.S.H. (w/Rhea Ripley) vs. TAMINA (w/Natalya)
Tamina out-owered Nikki and tossed her around early. The screen graphic advertised the eight-man tag match coming up. When Nikki began a comeback, Tamina slapped Nikki hard to the mat. They replayed it in slo-mo. Nikki took Tamina down a minute later with a head scissors. She mounted her in the corner and punched away. Tamina slapped Nikki down again, but Nikki came back with a tornado DDT for a three count.
WINNER: Tamina in 5:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: There were at least two “two counts” in the Priest-Hardy match that were closer to “three counts” than Tamina kicking out before three there and lifting her shoulder before the ref’s hand hit the third count. Tamina looked impressively powerful and Nikki took some nice bumps. I’m not sure why Tamina kicked out like that. It’s not that shameful to get pinned by Nikki after a sudden tornado DDT. She could have still attacked her afterward as a way to heat up the next match.)
-Tamina attacked Nikki afterward. Natalya hit Ripley from behind when she tried to make the save. Tamina slammed Nikki hard into the ringside barricade. [c]
(5) RHEA RIPLEY (w/Nikki) vs. NATALYA (w/Tamina)
Natalya grounded Ripley early. Natalya bailed out as soon as Ripley got control. Ripley dropkicked Tamina at ringside when Natalya moved. Natalya, though, then clotheslined Tamina. Natalya gloated and threw Ripley to the floor. Ripley blocked a sharpshooter. Natalya threw Ripley to the floor and snap-suplexed her. They cut to a break. [c]
Ripley rallied after the break, then pounded her chest. Natalya made a comeback, but Ripley escaped her suplex and landed a Northern Lights suplex into a bridge for a near fall. Natalya came back with a released suplex and then set up another sharpshooter. Ripley rolled up Natalya for a near fall. Ripley then went for a Rip Tide, but Tamina jumped onto the ring apron to DISTRACT Ripley. Nikki tripped Natalya running the ropes as she was about to hit Ripley from behind. Ripley then wrecking ball kicked Tamina on the floor. Natalya tried to pin Ripley with her feet on the ropes. Nikki shoved her legs off the ropes. Ripley then applied a standing leglock and Natalya tapped out. Ripley and Nikki celebrated as Natalya and Tamina backed away.
WINNER: Ripley in 9:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Nice match, competitive start to finish.)
-They replayed highlights of the opening segment setting up the main event title match.
-Mustafa Ali and Mansoor made their ring entrance. New Day joined them on the stage. Mansoor danced alongside New Day. Ali cringed. [c]
-They replayed the Charlotte-Nikki angle earlier.
-Schreiber interviewed Charlotte backstage. She called Nikki a sociopath and threw Charly into a trash can.
(6) NEW DAY & MUSTAFA ALI & MANSOOR vs. T-BAR & MACE & A.J. STYLES & OMOS
Mansoor was dancing with New Day in the ring despite Ali’s protests. As T-Bar & Mace made their entrance, a soundbite aired with them. T-Bar said their opponents are like oblivious cattle being led to the slaughterhouse. (Nothing Mace does in this gimmick feels authentic.) New Day double-teamed Styles in the corner with rapid tags. Ali was upset they didn’t tag him in. Mansoor tagged himself in and smiled, but Ali tagged himself in and yelled at his partners. He dragged Styles to mid-ring, but Styles suplexed him and tagged in T-Bar. Mace and T-Bar kicked New Day off the ring apron. Then they beat up Ali and Mansoor at ringside. Mace celebrated in the ring as they cut to a break. [c]
Lots of fast-paced action after the break with everyone involved at various times. Omos eventually tagged in and threw Ali around. Interesting they had Omos, ostensibly a heel, beat up Ali, the heel on the babyface team. Mansoor and New Day leaped onto Omos. He threw them off of him and out of the ring. Next he head-vice slammed Ali for the three count.
WINNERS: Styles & Omos & T-Bar & Mace in 10:00.
-A sponsored highlight reel aired of Lashley dominating opponents.
-Backstage, Kevin Patrick interviewed MVP and Lashley. He asked if Big E was distracting Lashley. MVP said he’s more of an annoyance. He said Orton will add his name to a list of people who have tried to beat Lashley. He said only one man is leaving the ring as the WWE Champion, and that’s Lashley. Big E walked up and booed and hissed. He said he’s just playing. He said he fully intends to cash in the MITB briefcase. He said, “I can’t wait!” and left.
(Keller’s Analysis: Whatever the plan is, they’re doing a good job throughout the show making sure everyone is anticipating Big E’s role in this match. Big E is being obnoxious in a productive way without seeming like he lacks self-awareness.)
-Doudrop made her ring entrance. [c]
(7) DOUDROP vs. EVA MARIE
Doudrop missed a senton a minute in. Eva scored a one count. Eva avoided a charging Doudrop in the corner, then rammed her head into the top turnbuckle. Doudrop headbutted Eva and took control. She lifted Eva and set up a slam, but Eva slipped free and raked Doudrop’s eyes. Eva went for a roll-up, but Doudrop didn’t budge. She then senton slammed Eva and then splashed her for the win. “Does anyone have a spatula I can borrow,” said Graves.
WINNER: Doudrop in 2:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: It’s time to move these two to something else. What is Eva’s relevance after this, though?)
-WWE hyped their Conor’s Cure campaign.
-Backstage, Karrion Kross introduced himself. He winked as music played in the background. He said nobody finds their true nature until they are the one suffering or inflicting the suffering. He said his list of casualties on Raw continues to grow. He said he has no empathy and enjoys every second of his opponent’s agony. He said people ask what his goals are, but he doesn’t know. He just is certain he will hurt everyone in WWE until there is no one left and he gets everything he wants. He said he is not going to get lost in the shuffle. He said he will pulverize everyone like clockwork until everyone learns to fall and pray.
(Keller’s Analysis: He toned down the haunted house mean faces quite a bit, but it still feels very affected, melodramatic, and phony. That said, this should have aired before his in-ring debut as it did set the tone for who he is and what his mission is.)
-Orton began his ring entrance. [c]
(8) BOBBY LASHLEY (w/MVP) vs. RANDY ORTON (w/Riddle) – WWE Title match
Formal ring introductions took place 37 minutes into the third hour. Orton frustrated Lashley by rolling to the floor twice early. Fans chanted, “Let’s Go Lashley!” When Lashley pursued Orton, Riddle DISTRACTED him. Orton attacked Lashley from behind. Graves called it brilliant and said nobody should expect anything less from Orton. Orton tossed Lashley around ringside and then back into the ring. He made a quick cover for barely a one-count. Lashley made a comeback and shoulder charged into Orton in the corner. Orton avoided a second charge by Lashley, though. Orton set up a draping DDT, but Lashley backdropped Orton over the top rope to the floor. He clutched his left leg. Lashley pursued him, but Orton dropped Lashley over the barricade, then clotheslined him over it into the time keeper’s area. Orton rolled into the ring to break the count as fans chanted “Randy! Randy!” [c]
Orton superplexed Lashley after mouthing off to MVP at ringside. Graves called it a tribute to his father. Riddle smiled at ringside. Orton scored a two count. Lashley lifted Orton at ringside and rammed his head into the ringpost. Riddle ran over to check on Orton. Back in the ring, Lashley charged at Orton in the corner. He followed up with a neckbreaker. Fans chanted “Randy! Randy!” Orton came back with a snap powerslam for a near fall. Graves said that was a kickout with less authority than prior ones. Lashley rolled to ringside. Orton landed a draping DDT. Orton then signaled for an RKO. Lashley blocked it and speared Orton for a near fall. Lashley looked shocked. He tried for a Hurt Lock, but Orton blocked it. He then hit an RKO. He was slow to make the cover, though. MVP pulled Lashley to the edge of the ring. Riddle confronted MVP. MVP threatened Riddle with his cane. Orton gave MVP an RKO at ringside. Orton rolled back into the ring. Lashley surprised him with a spear for a three count.
WINNER: Lashley in 14:00 to retain the WWE Title.
(Keller’s Analysis: A good match with effective use of signature moves to tease finishes and ultimately lead to the finish.)
-Lashley beat up Riddle after the match. He then turned to Orton and slammed him through the announce desk with a spinebuster. While Lashley stood, he couldn’t put weight on his left knee. He crawled back into the ring. Big E then came out with the briefcase in hand. Big E cashed it in as fans went bonkers. Lashley protested, indicating he couldn’t stand. They cut to a break. [c]
(9) BOBBY LASHLEY vs. BIG E – WWE Title match
Big E slapped Lashley before the bell. Lashley tackled Big E as the bell rang. He mounted him and punched away at him. Big E came back with a Big Ending attempt, but Lashley slipped free and speared Big E. Lashley made the cover and scored a two count. Big E sold it like he was out cold before his kickout. Big E stood as fans chanted “Big E! Big E!” Big E avoided a Lashley slam and delivered the Big Ending for the three count. That got a big crowd pop. Fans were literally leaping up and down with excitement.
WINNER: Big E to capture the WWE Title in under 2:00.
-Woods and Kingston joined Big E in celebrating with him in the ring. Pyro blasted as Big E held the title in the air. They briefly showed Lashley limping to the back.
(Keller’s Analysis: A fun audible called since last week’s Raw, which explains why they moved Lashley-Orton up to Raw instead of the PPV. This title change seems like Vince McMahon’s attempt to make people regret not watching Raw who switched over to the NFL game’s Monday Night Football season premiere. The social media tease all day of Big E vowing to cash in probably helped live viewership a bit, also. The replay numbers should be strong because of this. Let’s hope this is something that can elevate Big E rather than just having Lashley regain it at Extreme Rules, relegating this to a one-off short-term hotshot angle. Lashley looked a little choked up and welled up during ring introductions, almost as if he was coming to terms with this being his last title defense – at least for now.)