SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
KELLER’S WWE RAW REPORT
SEPTEMBER 27, 2021
AIRED ON USA NETWORK
Commentators: Jimmy Smith, Byron Saxton, Corey Graves
-An extended video package aired on Big E capturing the WWE Title from Bobby Lashley through the previous night’s happenings at Extreme Rules leading to the Big E vs. Lashley match for the title on Raw.
-Jimmy Smith introduced the show and said they will have three title matches tonight, including Charlotte’s open challenge and Damian Priest vs. Sheamus for the U.S. Title. Smith said they were in Columbus, Ohio, and Corey Graves corrected him.
(1) BIG E vs. BOBBY LASHLEY – WWE Title match
Big E, the champion, came out first. They went briefly to the announcers at the ringside desk. Lashley then made his entrance. Lashley dominated the opening two minutes, then tossed Big E to the floor. Lashley then lifted Big E onto his shoulders and rammed him into the ringpost. Big E was bleeding form his mouth. When Lashley approached him at ringside, Big E gave him a sudden surprise overhead suplex. They cut to a split-screen break. [c/ss]
Lashley knocked Big E off the ring apron during the break, then strutted around the ring. Back to full screen, Lashley settled into a chinlock. They battled at ringside where they each landed simultaneous clotheslines. Both were slow to get up; both beat the ten count at nine. Big E set up a Big Ending a couple minutes later. Lashley grabbed onto the top rope to block it. Big E then played to the crowd before spearing Lashley off the ring apron by diving through the ropes. Shelton Benjamin and Cedric Alexander showed up at ringside in Hurt Business t-shirts. Smith asked, “What’s going on here?” They got in Big E’s space and tried to intimidate him. Big E yelled at them, then threw Lashley into the ring. Lashley landed a spinebuster on Big E, then looked at Shelton and Cedric and smiled. He then speared Big E. Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods then ran out and attacked Shelton and Cedric. They ended up in the ring and the ref called for the bell.
WINNER: No contest in 12:00.
-As New Day and Hurt Business began to brawl at ringside, officials came out to try to break them up. Adam Pearce stepped out and said this match will continue, and it won’t involve Kofi, Xavier, Shelton, or Cedric, and it will be inside a cage.
(Keller’s Analysis: It felt pointless to break up Hurt Business in the first place, and WWE needs roster depth, so this is a welcome reuniting. Now will they explain it? And will it be deemed something MVP was behind? WWE is going for a two-for-one in terms of ratings by having the WWE Title match essentially take place twice. The match itself was hard-hitting and entertaining.)
-They went to the announcers on camera who hyped the other two title matches scheduled for the show. [c]
(2) VIKING RAIDER ERIK (w/Ivar) vs. ANGEL GARZA (w/Humberto Carrillo)
When Saxton said they were turning to tag team action, Graves had to correct him and say it’d be a singles match with one-half of two tag teams. An inset interview aired with Garza and Carrillo talking up how handsome they are. Graves said they’re too handsome for one show, so hopefully they’ll be split in the Draft onto separate shows. (They just formed a tag team!) A minute into the match, Humberto stood on the ring apron and threatened to throw his tearaway pants at Erik. Garza then gave the Wing Clipper to the DISTRACTED Erik for the win.
WINNER: Garza in under 2:00.
-They aired a video package on the Charlotte vs. Alexa Bliss match and the destruction of Bliss’s doll Lilly.
-Reggie came out to the ring. Smith said that earlier he said there were three title matches, but in fact there will be four. Graves plugged that he’d face Ricochet next. [c]
(3) REGGIE vs. RICOCHET – 24/7 Title match
They showed the usual 24/7 contenders at ringside in the front row as Graves noted that the 24/7 rules have been suspended for the duration of this match. Graves noted that Reggie might not be able to evade Ricochet, which has been his advantage so far as champion. (Graves continues to do the heavy-lifting on the announcing, carrying the vast majority of the announcing.) Reggie flipped over a Ricochet backdrop attempt, then smiled. Reggie applied a headlock, but Ricochet escaped and applied an armbar. Reggie evaded a charging Ricochet in the corner. Ricochet returned the favor. Ricochet then knocked Reggie to the floor and landed a flip dive at ringside. The 24/7 contenders leaped the barricade and stomped away at Reggie. Graves said that would cause a DQ. Smith said the 24/7 Title rules are suspended; Graves said the match ended, so the rules are unsuspended now. (It seems half of Graves’s job tonight is cleaning up sloppy misstatements, mistakes, and counter-productive comments from Smith and Saxton.) Tozawa ran out and tried to corner Reggie to keep him from leaving, but Reggie took him down in the ring with a floating twisting bodypress. Smith said, oddly excitedly, that Ricochet has “lost his opportunity” and “Reggie has done it again!”
WINNER: Reggie via DQ in 1:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Smith’s tone is just so odd. He’s just disconnected from the effect you’d want here, which is that Ricochet lost his opportunity through no fault of his own and that should be seen as disappointing, not something to excitedly say. It just doesn’t seem like Smith is really aware of much of what’s going on around him and he just continues to say things that aren’t things or what he says is emotionally incongruent in tone. And he just seems blissfully oblivious and dopey throughout it all – to the chagrin of Graves, who has to try to clean up his messes and carry everything week after week. Graves has let his frustration show through at times.)
-The interview guy with two first names interviewed Riddle backstage who was on his scooter. He asked how he is preparing to face A.J. Styles later. Riddle said Randy Orton took this week off because he said he needed a little time away from him. He said he wants to know what Orton is doing, though. He said maybe he’s taking a mud bath or getting some world famous Cincinnati skyline chili. That got a little pop. He said he’s probably at home with munchies watching Raw and rooting for him. He had headphones on and was singing Orton’s theme song’s lyrics. He looked up and and noticed Styles and Omos had shown up. He stopped singing and froze in place. They cut away at that point.
(4) KEITH “BEARCAT” LEE vs. TOZAWA
Tozawa demanded a match with R-Truth or Drew Gulak or Drake Maverick. He said he doesn’t care who it is. Then out came Lee. Tozawa made cartoonish scared faces. Lee marched out. Lee was all business and squashed Tozawa, finishing him with a Big Bang Catastrophe.
WINNER: Lee in under 1:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: How long until Lee loses his first name?)
-A sponsored video package hyped the Priest-Sheamus feud.
-Priest made his ring entrance. During an inset interview, Priest said this isn’t about last night, it’s about finishing Sheamus once and for all, no DQ, no countout. [c]
-The announcers hyped Royal Rumble coming to St. Louis, and noted they expect a crowd of over 40,000.
-Highlights aired of Hurt Business reuniting earlier leading to a Big E vs. Lashley rematch later.
-Kevin Patrick interviewed Big E with Xavier and Kofi backstage. Big E cut a serious, intense promo while Kofi and Xavier sang and postured behind him. He vowed to walk out as “your rightful WWE Champion.”
(Keller’s Analysis: Seriously intense Big E is great to see for the second straight night.)
(5) DAMIAN PRIEST vs. SHEAMUS – U.S. Title match – No DQ, no countout
Sheamus made his entrance first. An inset interview aired with Sheamus who said this type of match is right up his alley because he can do whatever he wants, and it won’t be pretty. He said to tell your kids, pets, and grandma not to watch. Formal ring introductions took place. Hard-hitting from the start. They brawled at ringside. Sheamus eventually landed a leaping White Noise off the ring apron through a table at ringside. [c]
Back from the break, Sheamus pulled back on a kendo stick across Priest’s mouth. Graves said this could be their last chance to face each other because of the upcoming draft. When Sheamus leaped off the top rope, Priest bashed him mid-air with the kendo stick. He hit Sheamus repeatedly with the stick before knocking to ringside corner. He followed up with an Alabama Slam for a near fall. They eventually struggled to send each other into a table leaning in the corner. Priest got the better of the struggle and Sheamus went crashing through it. Priest then hit the Reckoning for the win. Smith said Priest will be celebrating with a bath of ice water. Graves said he’s clearly never celebrated anything with Priest.
WINNER: Priest in 15:00 to retain the U.S. Title.
(Keller’s Analysis: That was the type of match that would, oh, I don’t know, maybe fit in well on a card called Extreme Rules.)
-Mustafa Ali asked Mansoor if it was his idea to team with Jeff Hardy tonight. Mansoor asked how he couldn’t be excited to be teaming with Hardy. He said this is their chance to prove they should stay together as a team going into the draft. Ali said he’d love to tell something to that freak Hardy’s face. Hardy showed up behind Ali and asked what he was saying. Ali acted nervous and then shoved Mansoor between him and Hardy and claimed he’s actually excited to team with him. Hardy said he can’t wait to team with them and twist their opponents’ fate.
-Hardy’s ring entrance took place. Mansoor excitedly danced like Hardy. Graves told him not to be a fanboy. [c]
-WWE touted being no. 1 on TikTok among sports leagues with 3.9 million followers.
(Keller’s Analysis: What does that translate to for WWE as a business and their business partners? It’s not a bad thing, but how good of a thing is it relative to other metrics?)
(6) MANSOOR & MUSTAFA ALI & JEFF HARDY vs. JINDER MAHAL & SHANKY & VEER
A soundbite aired with Mahal saying he’s not impressed with this rag-tag team they’re facing. Veer no-sold Mansoor’s attempts at offense. Saxton hyped “breaking news” that Goldberg had an announcement later. (It’s odd they just got around to that half-way through Raw.) Majal overpowered Hardy. Ali tagged himself in and went after Mahal. Veer finished Ali with a clothesline to win.
WINNERS: Mahal & Shanky & Veer in 4:00.
-Karrion Kross said he’s never felt more rejuvenated because he’s just starting to taste the vindication of erasing souls. He said in the end they all fall and pray.
(Keller’s Analysis: His acting is so affected, it just seems like a bad haunted house villain in a B movie.)
-Kross made his entrance in his black and red mask. [c]
-The announcers hyped Big E vs. Lashley in a cage.
(7) KARRION KROSS vs. JAXSON RYKER
Kross backed Ryker into the corner and yelled, “I’m your commanding officer now. Come on, Marine! Come on, Marine!” Kross applied an armbar as tentatively and loosely as you’ll see. Then he landed a Doomsday Suplex and then (sorta) applied his Crossjacket sleeper. His arm wasn’t even wrapped around Ryker’s head or chin. Smith said, “If you can’t get it under the chin, you crank the jaw. That’s what you do.”
WINNER: Kross in 2:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: When do they pull the plug on Kross?)
-Backstage, Doudrop walked in and stood next to Pearce and Deville and stood sideways, like all people in a conversation naturally do. Doudrop suggested she face Charlotte. Sonya said she did beat Eva Marie twice, so why not. She asked her to promise to do that victory dance if she wins the title. Doudrop began to dance.
-Riddle scootered to the ring for his match with Styles. Graves told Saxton he should try one of Riddle’s gummy bears. Saxton said he’s not much for sweets. [c]
-They aired highlights of the return of Shelton and Cedric in the Big E vs. Lashley match earlier.
-Lashley said it makes his blood boil that Big E calls himself champion. He said he is happy they made this a cage match because he can beat him up in the cage and then walk out the rightful WWE Champion.
(8) RIDDLE vs. A.J. STYLES
Nice hard-hitting action early, including a nasty knee by Riddle to the side of Styles’s face. The announcers gasped. They replayed it in slo-mo. [c]
Styles came back with a Pelé kick. They showed a “worried” Omos at ringside, “fuming, seething,” as Saxton described it. Riddle fired back with a kneelift. Both went down and were slow to get up. Styles went for a Phenomenal Forearm, but Riddle knocked him out of mid-air. Riddle then kicked Styles to ringside and flip dove onto him. Back in the ring, Riddle went for a Floating Bro, but Styles avoided it and transitioned into a quick Calf Crusher. Riddle lunged to the bottom rope and forced a break. Smith said he’s been in “those” more than once, and Riddle’s left knee isn’t good. Styles slid at Riddle right into his knee. Styles’s arms went up like he was concussed. The ref checked on him. Riddle sold an injured leg afterward, too. Riddle pounded the mat to signal for an RKO. He went for it, but Styles turned it into a Burning Hammer and Styles Clash for the win.
WINNER: Styles in 13:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Hard-hitting intense match. Really good stuff from those two. Styles did seem fine afterward. His selling was top shelf here. He’s so good and ready for a babyface top tier run again, if they choose to go there.)
-They replayed that late knee strike to Styles in slo-mo. After the match, Omos gave Riddle a head-vice slam as Styles approved at ringside.
-A video package aired on what Shayna Baszler did to Nia Jax last week.
-Sarah Schreiber approached Baszler backstage and asked her to explain what was going through her mind when she realized how badly she injured Jax. Baszler thought for a few seconds, then walked away without comment. It was hard to read what she was thinking.
-Charlotte made her ring entrance. [c]
(9) CHARLOTTE vs. DOUDROP – Raw Title match
Doupdrop landed a senton a minute in. Eva Marie then walked out to her music. She waved at Doudrop. Charlotte kneed a DISTRACTED Doudrop from behind, then hit Natural Selection for the win.
WINNER: Charlotte in 2:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: That was dumb.)
-Eva stood over Doupdrop afterward. Charlotte shot Eva a look, then clotheslined her. Charlotte then ordered the referee to open the ropes for her. The referee ran over and did it, like he’s her personal assistant beholden to her orders.
(Keller’s Analysis: I think referees opening ropes for Charlotte is the no. 1 most irritating recurrence in WWE, more than DISTRACTION finishes. It’s such a big sacrifice of referee authority and independence and objectivity to have them so pathetically serve her like she’s actually a queen with power over them. They just seem so diminished and sad doing that, and it doesn’t add to Charlotte’s act.) [c]
-Goldberg spoke from home. He said he and Lashley are both fathers. He said when he choked out his son at Summerslam, he had the balls to come out and say it’s a misunderstanding. He said when his son was born, he swore he’d do everything to protect him from anyone and anything that would try to hurt him. He said he’ll hurt him real bad. “Hell, if I’m lucky enough, I’ll even kill you.” Wait, what?!? He said Gage Goldberg is his son and Lashley is about to be his victim.
(Keller’s Analysis: Why did WWE air Goldberg saying he is going to try to actually kill Lashley. The whole morality speech lacks credibility the second he accepts Blood Money to wrestle again.)
-Eva stood in the ring and said she can beat any of the women in the locker room, and they all know it just like the fans do. Baszler then marched out. Saxton said she’s so stubborn, she has to learn lessons the hard way. She kicked at Eva’s arm and then repeated to her what she did to Nia Jax on the ringside steps. Eva cried out in agony just as Jax did last week. Fans chanted, “One more time! One more time!” They booed when Baszler stepped away instead.
(Keller’s Analysis: So who are fans supposed to be rooting for? Eva or Charlotte? Baszler or Eva? Like, what was WWE going for there?)
-A recap aired of Rhea Ripley & Nikki A.H.S. winning the Raw Tag Team Titles last week.
-Schreiber interviewed Ripley and Nikki backstage, asking how they found so much success in such a short amount of time. Ripley said opposites attract. Nikki annoyed Ripley a little, but she seemed to find her a little charming too. Nikki said they need matching outfits now that they’re champions. She asked what she thinks of the color blue. Ripley said, “Blue is a good color… on you.”
(Keller’s Analysis: Eeeek. Ripley is getting less cool by the minute acting like she’s into Nikki. I’m sure some fans find Nikki adorable, but this gimmick continues to get placed too high on the card.)
-They showed the cage being lowered. [c]
(10) BIG E vs. BOBBY LASHLEY – Cage match for the WWE Title
Lashley entered the cage first. When Big E came out, Lashley attacked him on the steps. He beat him up at ringside. He bashed Big E with the ringside steps. [c]
The match officially started after the break. Big E caught a charging Lashley with a chokeslam. They continued to batter each other for several minutes. Big E tried to execute a Big Ending from the top rope. Lashley converted it to nasty looking Dragon sleeper with Big E bent backwards over the top rope. He released Big E, who collapsed onto his back. Lashley climbed the cage, slowly and deliberately. Big E climbed to the top rope and hit Lashley swith ome forearms. Then he rammed his head into the cage. Lashley dropped to the mat. Big E then climbed the cage. He got to the top. Shelton and Cedric climbed the cage to stop Big E from leaving. The cameras didn’t show them until they were half way up the cage, which felt manipulative because certainly they had a shot of it sooner. Xavier slammed a cage door on Lashley as he tried to crawl out of the cage. Meanwhile, Kofi climbed the side of the cage and knocked Shelton down. Kofi then dove backwards off the cage onto Shelton and Cedric. Xavier celebrated with Kofi. Lashley and Big E were down on the mat as they cut to another break. [c]
Lashley superplexed Big E and scored a two count. The announcers were amazed they had anything left. Graves said it was a battle of wills over who wanted to be champion more. Big E caught a charging Lashley with an elbow, then delivered an overhead suplex. And another. Then a belly-to-belly. When Big E ran the ropes, Lashley speared him out of mid-air for a near fall. Lashley dominated Big E for a minute before beginning to exit the cage, but Big E grabbed onto him. Graves said Lashley is annoyed by Big E at this point. Big E landed a sudden Big Ending for a near fall. They fought to the top rope again a minute later. Big E gave Lashley a Big Ending from the top rope for a win.
WINNER: Big E in 17:00 to retain the Raw Title.
(Keller’s Analysis: Big E got a clean and decisive win here. They seem to really be giving him a good-faith, serious push, and it’d be a real shame if he goes on to be marginalized with a loss – tainted or not – at Survivor Series to Roman Reigns. That’ll just define him down. They should just drop that whole annual “tradition.” The way Lashley was protected for so long, and now is losing and losing, it does come across as if he’s leaving or taking time off or being phased down.)
-As Big E celebrated, Drew McIntyre walked out with his sword and he eyed Big E. Big E looked at him and nodded.
(Keller’s Analysis: Intriguing close. I was figuring they’d keep Drew off Raw until he was drafted to Smackdown, but there he was teasing a match with Big E. Maybe they fit that in next Monday in his “farewell” match on Raw, and it ends with a non-finish.)