SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
KELLER’S WWE RAW REPORT
SEPTEMBER 20, 2021
AIRED ON USA NETWORK
Commentators: Jimmy Smith, Byron Saxton, Corey Grave
-They opened with clips of last week’s Bobby Lashley defense of the WWE Title against Randy Orton, followed by Big E’s successful cash-in.
-Big E introduced Kofi Kingston, Xavier Woods, and himself. He then made his ring entrance. They showed the announcers on camera discuss his win. Big E took a deep breath as he walked the ramp. He smiled but stayed relatively low key and serious. Xavier hung upside down over the top turnbuckle as part of the celebration.
When the music stopped, fans cheered. Big E soaked up the moment and got choked up. Fans chanted, “You deserve it!” He said today isn’t Nov. 25, but he is there to give thanks. He thanked everyone for chanting “New Day Rocks.” He said he even forgives people who used to chant “New Day Sucks.” He thanked the fans who lost their minds when he become WWE Champion. He mentioned a wrestler in the heavens. Fans chanted “Brodie” (Lee).
Big E then shifted to talking about Roman Reigns and the Usos. Lots of boos. He said Raw is their show, and tonight they’ll send the Bloodline packing. “Do you know why?” he asked. Fans chanted “New… Day Rocks!” As Kofi and Xavier danced around the ring, Roman Reigns’s theme played. Corey Graves said, “Monday Night Raw, prepare to acknowledge him.” Graves said this is Reigns’s first appearance on Raw since 2019 and the first time as Universal Champion. He said: “This, quite frankly, his a huge, huge deal.” Pyro blasted as Graves spoke. When Reigns entered the ring, he held up the Universal Title belt. Big E raised his WWE Title belt. They exchanged heated words. Graves said the match was up next. He said it doesn’t get much bigger than this.
(Keller’s Analysis: Great seeing Big E act serious and not goof around as much as usual. He conveyed a sense of gravity and appreciation for now carrying that WWE Title belt with him. It does feel like a big deal to see Reigns on Monday night. It’s almost discombobulating.) [c]
(1) ROMAN REIGNS & THE USOS vs. THE NEW DAY (Big E & Xavier Woods & Kofi Kingston)
Early in the match, a graphic hyped Randy Orton vs. A.J. Styles later. Saxton said, “I still cannot believe we are essentially kicking off Raw with the New Day vs. The Bloodline.” Graves said there’s no “essentially” about it; it’s actually happening. Reigns at ringside tripped Kofi and yanked him to the floor. He threw him into the announce desk, then the ringpost, and then over the announce desk. Big E and Xavier ran over and yelled at the Usos and Reigns as they cut to a break. [c]
Bloodline isolated Kofi after the break and prevented him from making a tag for a few minutes. He finally tagged in Big E who faced off with Reigns mid-ring. They exchanged some words and then exchanged blows. Big E gave Reigns two overhead suplexes followed by a belly-to-belly. He then knocked Jey over the top rope. When he turned, Reigns caught him with a quick Uranage. Big E came back with a running splash. He waited for Reigns to stand, then set up a Big Ending, but the Usos interfered. Xavier tagged in. Big E launched Kofi over the top rope onto both Usos. Reigns gave Big E a Superman Punch. Reigns then turned to Xavier, who was legal. Xavier landed a Superkick for a two count. Bobby Lashley ran out and speared Big E at ringside. He then put Kofi on his shoulders and charged into the ringpost. He also went after the Usos, throwing Jimmy into the ringside steps. Xavier stood and turned to Lashley and asked what he was doing. He turned and ate a Reigns spear for a three count. As Reigns celebrated, Lashley entered and caught him with a spear. Then he speared Big E through the ringside barricade.
WINNER: The Bloodline in 13:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Lashley just made a bunch of enemies. This plants seeds for Lashley vs. Reigns down the line. They did just enough to tease the intensity of Big E vs. Reigns and let Big E shine against him.) [c]
-Lashley barged into a room with Adam Pearce and Sonya Deville. Lashley complained about everything and said he could beat either of them one-on-one and he’d even take them both out at the same time. “This is the All Mighty Era, and the All Mighty never stops.” He stared down Pearce and Deville.
-The announcers addressed that MVP is out of indefinitely due to a broken rib suffered at the hands of Orton last week.
-Backstage Riddle told Randy Orton he synced up their Spotify playlists because you never know what will happen after the Draft. He said he knows Orton is hurt inside because of what happened with Lashley last week. He said if Orton is the viper, and Styles is a pitbull, and Omos is a lion, then he thinks he’s a mongoose. Riddle talked about a safari. Orton asked if he was confusing real life and a movie again. Riddle insisted it was a true story. Orton told him to keep Omos busy at ringside by telling him about his family safari story. He said then he’ll do his very best job breaking Styles’s ribs. Riddle put on headphones and sang Orton’s theme song. Orton was embarrassed.
-Eva Marie made her ring entrance. [c]
-Saxton said Survivor Series will take place in Brooklyn, N.Y. at Barclays Center, as will Raw the next night.
(2) EVA MARIE vs. DOUDROP
Before the match, Eva said Doudrop is a mess. She said “girls like you can never beat women like me.” Saxton said she has no class. When the bell rang, Marie leaped out of the ring. Doudrop chased her down. When she got her in the ring, she slammed her, landed a senton, and then did her low crossbody for a three count.
WINNER: Doudrop in 2:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Yeah, but can she beat her ten times in a row? We need to find out.)
-Big E walked up to Pearce and Deville. He said he wants Bobby and Roman tonight. “Make it happen!” he fiercely said.
-Orton made his ring entrance. [c]
-Pearce and Deville were on separate calls regarding Big E’s demands. Paul Heyman walked in and complained about Lashley and Big E demanding things and trying to exert influence over them. He said he wasn’t there to do that; rather, he was going to deliver a message from The Tribal Chief. Pearce and Deville said the match is going to happen later – Reigns vs. Big E vs. Lashley.
(Keller’s Analysis: This is a show meant to compete with AEW Dynamite’s big line-up on Wednesday to try to take back the lead in the key audience demographics, which Dynamite has bested Raw in two weeks in a row.)
(3) A.J STYLES (w/Omos) vs. RANDY ORTON (w/Riddle)
As Styles made his entrance, the announcers made a huge deal over the announced Triple Threat main event. Orton applied a side headlock at the very start of the match and grinded Styles to the mat for a one count. A graphic advertised Nia Jax vs. Shayna Baszler for later. Styles avoided an RKO at 2:00. With Orton in control, Omos tripped him from ringside as he was running the ropes. Orton told on him to the ref. The ref booted him from ringside. Riddle sang “Na na na na, good bye” at him. Omos gave Riddle an uppercut before leaving. Styles hit a DISTRACTED Orton from behind and knocked him to the floor. Then he slingshot himself at Orton with a flying forearm. Omos finally left ringside as Styles celebrated having Orton down at ringside. [c]
Back from the break, Orton took over. He scored a near fall after catching a charging Styles with a snap powerslam. Back and forth action with countermoves and near falls. Smith touted the ebb and flow of the match. Saxton noted there was no extended advantage for either wrestler nearly 15 minutes in. Styles set up a Phenomenal Forearm. Smith said it’s definitely over it it lands. Styles kicked toward Riddle when he got too close at ringside. Orton recovered and teased an RKO when Styles went for a Phenomenal Forearm. He then gave Styles a draping DDT and an RKO for the win.
WINNER: Orton in 15:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Really mood match. This felt like a match in great part presented so Orton could get a big win after coming up short last week. It also helps WWE “load” Raw with big name matches to try to hold the audience.)
-A video package recapped the Nia Jax-Shayna Baszler saga.
-Jax made her ring entrance. [c]
(4) SHAYNA BASZLER vs. NIA JAX
Jax said, “I made you. You were nothing without me.” The announcers did not chime in with Baszler resume before teaming with Jax. Baszler told her to shut up and shoved her. Jax shoved her back. Jax lifted Baszler and set her down and asked Baszler to take note of how easy that was. She shoved Baszler into the corner. Baszler fought back with knees and then a high kick. She put Jax in a Kirafuda Clutch mid-ring. Jax tried to fight out of it. She leaped backwards and crushed Baszler, but Baszler held on. Jax faded and the ref called Baszler the winner.
WINNER: Baszler in 2:30.
(Keller’s Analysis: All the months of build up, and they give Baszler a clean win in under three minutes?)
-Baszler seemed to show remorse, but then attacked Jax at ringside afterward. She put her hand in the ringside steps and then stomped on her arm. Jax cried out in agony as the ref checked on her. Baszler stepped on Jax’s hand. Jax cried out, “Shayna, stop, please don’t do this.” She stomped on her arm. Jax shrieked in pain at ringside as the ref called for help. A trainer checked on her.
(Keller’s Analysis: So whom are we supposed to be rooting for here?) [c]
-The announcers commented on a replay of the Baszler attack on Jax.
(5) MUSTAFA ALI & MANSOOR vs. ANGEL GARZA & HUMBERTO CARRILLO
A soundbite aired with Carrillo saying he and his cousin are teaming up because no one can beat them. Garza said they are two of the most handsome, talented, and charismatic athletes in WWE. He said together the world is theirs. Smith agreed that their handsomeness “is a factor.” Huh? Graves said they are related and “share a bloodline.” He paused, probably got yelled at, and then said, “…bond.” Garza threw Ali into the ringpost a few minutes in. Ali took a hell of a bump. Back in the ring, Carrillo and Garza double-teamed Ali and scored the pin.
WINNERS: Garza & Carrillo in 3:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Smart to pair those two. They weren’t being utilized well lately at all. Kinda tough to tell how viewers are supposed to feel about them, though.)
-A vignette aired with Karrion Kross. He told everyone to fall and pray. [c]
(Keller’s Analysis: Yawn. He’s leaning too hard on the “fall and pray” tag line like it’s so compelling it stands on its own without context or explanation. And then he talks like he’s a parody of a wrestling badass instead of an actual human being. It’s just not working for me.)
-Nikki A.S.H. made her way out first. Rhea Ripley joined her. They talked about Conor’s Cure. [c]
(6) RHEA RIPLEY & NIKKI A.S.H. vs. NATALYA & TAMINA – Women’s Tag Team Title match
A couple minutes in, Tamina went over to Ripley on the ring apron and irritated her. Ripley leaped onto her and gave her a Rip Tide. Natalya was distracted as she was applying her Sharpshooter. Nikki surprised her with a small package to win.
WINNERS: Ripley & Nikki in 2:30 to capture the Women’s Tag Title.
(Keller’s Analysis: The rapid-fire pace and sense of hot-shotting continues.)
-A brief recap aired of the Alexa Bliss-Charlotte situation.
-Bliss made her entrance, carrying Lilly with her. [c]
-Smith hyped the triple threat main event and said he can’t believe it.
-Bliss swung on a chair in the ring. She introduced Charlotte, and noted she faces her at Extreme Rules and she will soon be a former champion. Saxton said he’s surprised Charlotte agreed to join Bliss in her Playground. Charlotte entered the ring and told Bliss to get on with her hocus pocus. Bliss called her the “fun police.”
Bliss said she noticed she didn’t bring Charly with her. She said that’s okay, though, because she did. Fans chanted “Charly.” Charlotte said she doesn’t want Charly, she wants “the old Bliss back, the five feet of fury, the mean girl, the once upon a time championship material.” She said she can fool the viewers, but she can’t fool her. She said the playground is just a way to mask how delicate she is. She said she is broken. She said her black lipstick is nasty and told her to wipe it off. She asked how it feels that her doll is more popular than her. She asked how she went from main eventing WrestleMania 35 to playing with dolls. She said she doesn’t play dress up, she is the real deal. She said she’s going to beat up a grown ass woman who dresses up like a little kid. She said she’s making it her job to beat the sense back into her. She said she can do it tonight or Sunday at Extreme Rules.
Bliss mocked her for being the best and in her own league. She asked if she gets sick and tired of saying it over and over. She said while Charlotte has won more titles than any other woman, that means she has lost it more than any other woman, too. She asked Charlotte who she is without a title. She told Charlotte that she can’t answer because even Charlotte doesn’t know. She said she doesn’t need to play mind games with her to expose her insecurities because they’re stamped on her forehead. She asked what she would do and how she would act and what she would say to the people if she didn’t have a belt. When fans “woo’d,” Bliss said that’s not even originally hers. Charlotte said “Oh, let’s not talk about originality, please.” (A reference to Bliss being a takeoff on Bray Wyatt.) Bliss said she pities Charlotte. She said even a narcissistic bitch like her deserves to be happy. She said she knows who she is and she doesn’t have to grasp at titles to stay relevant. She said at Extreme Rules, “you will call me champ.”
Charlotte broke into laughter and mockingly repeated Bliss asking who she is without a title. Charlotte said Bliss will never find out. She shoved her in the face. Bliss charged back at her. Charlotte caught her with a knee. Bliss got up and leaped onto Charlotte with a sleeper. Charlotte threw her off of her and then held up Charly. She then tore the head off Charly. Bliss jumped up again and leaped onto Charlotte’s back. She gave her a DDT, then sat up and looked sinister. She clutched Lilly as her music played.
(Keller’s Analysis: This was an interesting chapter in this feud. It was presented as bordering on a shoot and it might’ve worked. Certainly it’s better than more magic stuff that Charlotte would have to sell for. I’m curious if Bliss transitions out of this after the Charlotte match, as she seemed on the verge of breaking character and acknowledging she was doing all this to just play mind games with opponents.)
-Backstage, Drake Maverick spoke with R-Truth, Tozawa, and Drew Gulak in front of an ink board. He showed their “Operation 24/7” plan to drop a net on Reggie. Drew lured Reggie to chat with him. He began talking about pressure points, but Truth dropped the net on Drew by mistake. Reggie then avoided them by leaping around on stacks of stuff backstage. Tozawa tried to climb after him, but Reggie escaped. When Drew walked up and said he’s stuck in the net, Tozawa hugged him and assured him he’d be okay.
(Keller’s Analysis: Tozawa hugging Gulak and assuring him he’ll be okay might make all of the 24/7 nonsense all these years worthwhile.)
-The announcers hyped Miz appearing on “Dancing With the Stars.”
-Jeff Hardy made his entrance. Graves said if he wins, he gets added to the U.S. Title match at Extreme Rules. [c]
(7) SHEAMUS vs. JEFF HARDY
Graves asked Priest about the possibility of Hardy being added to his match against Sheamus at Extreme Rules. Priest said he likes Hardy and there’s a reason he’s been successful for so long. He said he needs to face wrestlers of his caliber to prove himself. They cut to a break a few minutes in. [c]
At some point during the break, Sheamus took off his face shield. He ended up with a bloody nose again. Hardy made a comeback and went for a top rope Swanton, but Sheamus lifted his knees. Sheamus set up a Celtic Cross, but Hardy slipped out and leveraged Sheamus’s shoulders down for a three count.
WINNER: Hardy in 9:00.
-After the match, Sheamus was so upset, he went after Priest at ringside. He said he shouldn’t have had to wrestle Hardy. He shoved him. They brawled at ringside. Refs pulled Priest away from Sheamus. He leaped off the ring apron and jumped at Sheamus again. As the ref yelled at him, Sheamus threw him into the ringpost and then back into the ring.
-Graves hyped the main event. [c]
(8) BOBBY LASHLEY vs. BIG E vs. ROMAN REIGNS (w/Paul Heyman)
Reigns made his entrance first. Then Lashley. Then Big E. Lashley jump-started the match against Big E as soon as he entered. Reigns stood back and watched. Big E took Lashley down, then fended off Reigns, who rolled to ringside. Big E turned back to Lashley and pounded his chest. He landed a running splash on Lashley on the edge of the ring apron. Reigns caught Big E with a Drive By. They cut to an early break. [c]
A few minutes after the break, Lashley charged alternately at Reigns and Big E in opposite corners. Big E caught Lashley with a uranage for a near fall. Reigns gave Big E a Samoan Drop for a two count. Reigns bashed Lashley with a barrage of forearms in the corner. Big E powered Reigns off the ropes as Reigns was superplexing Lashley. They cut to a break. [c]
Back from the break, Big E gave Reigns the same sequence as the first match with two suplexes, a belly-to-belly, and then he went for a running splash. Lashley tripped him and dragged him to the floor and attacked him. Lashley then gave Reigns a relayed-drop vertical suplex for a near fall. Big E returned to the ring, but Lashley avoided a Big Ending.
Reigns re-entered, but Big E clotheslined him. He set Reigns and Lashley next to each other and landed a running splash on both. He covered Lashley for a soft two count. Big E charged and Reigns lifted a knee. Lashley then gave Big E a spinebuster. Reigns threw Lashley out of the ring and went for the cover on Big E. Big E kicked out. Reigns made eye contact with Heyman at ringside, then went for a Superman Punch. Big E ducked and landed a Big Ending. Lashley pulled him off of the cover and threw Big E into the barricade. Lashley then chokeslammed Big onto the announce desk. Back in the ring, Lashley set up a Spear, but Reigns knocked him out of mid-air with a Superman Punch for a near fall. Fans chanted, “This is awesome!” They went to a wide shot of the arena.
Reigns played to the crowd. Graves said it’s about to be over. Reigns charged, but Lashley speared him and made the cover. Big E broke up the cover. Lashley then went for a Hurt Lock. Big E blocked it and then Reigns hit Lashley with a Superman Punch. Big E tossed a charging Reigns to the ring apron, then speared him through the ropes to the floor. Back in the ring, Big E gave Reigns a Big Ending. Lashley bashed Big E with a chair. Graves said due to (the ridiculous) Triple Threat rules, that won’t cause a DQ. He hit him a few more times across the back. Reigns then speared Lashley for the three count.
WINNER: Reigns in 21:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: A hell of a match. That was a lot of interaction between wrestlers whose singles matches felt like they’d be novel big deals when they happened. But I suppose no surprise Reigns stood tall at the end of it all. Lashley taking the pin, no matter how, defines down the eventual Lashley vs. Reigns match a tad, but the match was so competitive and hard-hitting and dramatic, nobody lost a lot. In fact, Big E gained by surviving and coming across as their equal.)