LECLAIR’S WWE RAW REPORT 10/4: Alt perspective, detailed coverage of draft night 2, Goldberg’s return, more

By Brandon LeClair, PWTorch contributor


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LECLAIR’S WWE RAW REPORT
OCTOBER 4, 2021
NASHVILLE, TN AT BRIDGESTONE ARENA
AIRED LIVE ON USA NETWORK

Announcers: Jimmy Smith, Corey Graves, Byron Saxton

-The show opened with a video package hyping night two of the WWE Draft.

-Jimmy Smith welcomed the audience to the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. He reminded fans that half the roster was drafted last Friday, and the remaining half would be eligible to be drafted tonight. Corey Graves and Byron Saxton talked over a graphic showing Raw’s retentions and acquisitions.

-Becky Lynch’s music hit and the Smackdown Women’s Champion walked onto the stage. The commentators remarked about their shock of Raw Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair being drafted to Smackdown. Saxton and Graves tossed to a clip from Friday’s Smackdown, covering Flair’s move to the blue brand and her involvement in the main event. They talked up the triple threat match for the Smackdown Women’s title at Crown Jewel.

-A large “Becky” chant broke out among the crowd in Nashville. Becky smiled. She said that “the man” has come around to Monday Night Raw. She said it’s been about a year and a half since she’s been on Raw, and it feels good to be back. Lynch claimed she’s about to make some executives very unhappy, but she doesn’t care. “I do what I want!” she said with a shrug. She declared herself the first draft pick for Monday Night Raw.

Becky said she may still be holding the Smackdown Women’s title, but she’s the longest reigning Raw Women’s champion and she never lost the title. Lynch said she and Flair have gone back and forth, and ever since she beat Charlotte, she’s only gotten better. “She can’t stand it,” Lynch concluded. She said it’s time to become Becky 2-Belts again. Charlotte Flair’s music hit.

Flair appeared on the stage and made a slow descent down the ramp and into the ring. Flair stood in the center of the ring, hands crossed. The crowd started a “Becky 2 Belts” chant. Flair said before beating her, Lynch was just “Becky pre-show.” She claimed she made Lynch famous. Charlotte said it doesn’t matter what brand she’s only, because Lynch will always be looking up at her – the most decorated woman in sports entertainment.

Bianca Belair’s music hit. She danced onto the stage and twirled her ponytail. The crowd began an “EST” chant. Belair said she has unfinished business with both Lynch and Flair. She said they both took cheap shots both during, and after her match on Smackdown. “The way I see it, neither of you are ready to see the EST of WWE become the EST of Raw, because I go here now.” Flair shushed her, “that was cute, but the champions are having a conversation.”

The crowd responded with a “Charlotte sucks” chant. Belair said Flair doesn’t even go here anymore. She told Becky to “get her girl.” Lynch shrugged this off. Flair said she’s no one’s girl, and more importantly, she’s a woman. Flair listed Belair’s accomplishments. “You’ve almost done as much as me,” Charlotte said. She told Bianca that she should be asking for her autograph and thanking her for paving the way.

Lynch instigated the situation. She said Belair should take offense. Becky said she has nothing to prove, having beaten Flair on multiple occasions. She wondered aloud what would happen were Belair and Flair to face each other. Flair said she only gives out opportunities, not charities. Belair took her earrings out and stepped up to Flair.

Adam Pearce and Sonya Deville interrupted. They announced that Flair would face Deville tonight in the main event. They also announced a rematch for the Women’s Tag Team Championship. Deville said they’re kicking the night off with a match for the United States Championship.

(LeClair’s Analysis: I thought this started out just fine, with Becky resuming her quest to become Becky 2 Belts. It quickly devolved into the “parade of challengers” thing WWE so often does. Both Charlotte Flair and Bianca Belair came off hampered by overly scripted, unnatural promos. Seeing Belair become a mainstay of Raw will be interesting long term, but this didn’t really feel like a strong start.)

-Jeff Hardy headed to the ring for his U.S. title match, coming up after the break.

-The show returned to Adam Pearce and Sonya Deville standing at the draft podium. Adam Pearce announced Raw’s first draft pick as Becky Lynch. Sonya Deville announced The Usos as Smackdown’s first pick of the evening.

-The Usos were shown celebrating backstage, with Paul Heyman, who breathed a sigh of relief.

-Adam Pearce announced Bobby Lashley as Raw’s second pick. Smackdown selected Sasha Banks.

ROUND 1 RESULTS:
RAW: Becky Lynch, Bobby Lashley
SMACKDOWN: The Usos, Sasha Banks

(LeClair’s Analysis: Nothing particularly newsworthy here. Lynch was all but a guarantee after Flair was drafted to Smackdown. The remaining picks are just sticking with their current brand.)

-Damian Priest headed to the ring.

(1) DAMIAN PRIEST (c) vs. JEFF HARDY – WWE United States Championship match

Damian Priest and Jeff Hardy locked up to begin the match. Jimmy Smith called this a “trap fight.” Priest dropped Hardy with a shoulder tackle. Hardy returned to his feet quickly. Priest knocked him down again for a quick two count. Hardy hit a jawbreaker, then followed up with some quick shots to the heat. Priest rocked Hardy with a quick kick. Hardy rolled to the outside.

Hardy and Priest battled on the outside. Jeff tried to dive off the apron onto Priest, but the champion stepped aside, causing Hardy to crash and burn on the floor. Priest hit a rolling senton off the steel steps. He pounded his chest and let out a scream as the show went to commercial.

Priest had Hardy positioned backwards on the top rope when the show returned from commercial. Hardy fought Priest off, then connected with Whisper in the Wind for a two count. Priest rebounded quickly, connecting with a spin kick. He set up for the Reckoning, but Priest rolled through it and kicked Hardy. Jeff hit the ropes, battled back and hit the Twist of Fate. Hardy climbed up and hit the Swanton Bomb. Hardy covered a couple of seconds late. Priest rolled Hardy into a crucifix pin for a three count.

WINNER: Damian Priest in 7:00 to retain the WWE United States Championship

Hardy was interviewed in the ring after the match about moving over to Smackdown. Hardy thanked the fans for being with him through the highest of highs and lowest of lows. He said moving to Smackdown may give him the opportunity to show a different side of himself, “a new ego.”

Hardy was interrupted by Austin Theory. The crowd seemed to have no idea who he was. Theory apologized for interrupting Hardy. He said Hardy motivated and inspired him. Theory asked Hardy for a selfie. Hardy obliged. Theory gave him a clothesline, then his spinning knee drop. He took another selfie with Hardy’s prone body on the mat.

(LeClair’s Analysis: Not much to this one. We only saw about 4 minutes of it when you subtract the break. Both Jeff and Priest seemed to be working a half step slower than usual. Priest seemed to be working a little less like a babyface. Commentary was even pointing out the fact that he wasn’t showing Jeff a lot of respect. I’d have initially thought this was the start of a heel turn, but Priest’s actions after the match more or less squashed that. Decent enough debut for Austin Theory. Raw desperately needs some fresh faces, so I’m willing to let this play out and see where they take the character. )

-Kevin Patrick welcomed R.K.Bro backstage. He asked for their reaction to facing A.J. Styles and Omos at Crown Jewel. Riddle said he’s just so happy to have Randy back, and that they’ve both been drafted to Raw. He asked Orton if he had a snake in his pocket, or if he’s just happy to see him. He continued with bad puns until Orton eventually cut him off. Orton said it’s a very special night in Nashville. He claimed to have a proposition. He challenged Omos to a match tonight. Riddle looked on in shock.

-Shayna Baszler headed to the ring. The announcers highlighted her attacks on Nia Jax and Eva Marie, both clips featuring piped in boos. Dana Brooke was shown stretching backstage, preparing to face Baszler. Fake cheers were piped in. Smith said the match would be next.

-Pearce and Deville were back at the podium out of the break. Raw selected Seth Rollins. Deville announced Shinsuke Nakamura & Rick Boogs to remain on Smackdown. The duo were shown reacting positively backstage. Raw selected Damian Priest next. Priest was shown backstage smiling awkwardly into space. Smackdown selected Sheamus.

ROUND 2 RESULTS:
RAW: Seth Rollins, Damian Priest
SMACKDOWN: Shinsuke Nakamura & Rick Boogs, Sheamus

(LeClair’s Analysis: An even swap for Rollins and Sheamus. I like the move. Both guys feel like they’ve more or less done everything there is to do on their respective brands. Rollins appears to have one more match with Edge coming down the pipeline, so, it makes sense to bring him over as well. The downside here is that, like many other draft picks tonight and last week, these are mostly guys and gals who move around every year. It just shows off the lack of depth the company has right now.)

-The camera cut back to the ring, where Dana Brooke was already ready for the match to begin.

(2) SHAYNA BASZLER vs. DANA BROOKE

Dana Brooke quickly backed Shayna Baszler into the corner. She fired off a series of quick punches, then drove her boot into Baszler’s throat. The announcers debated Brooke’s merit in challenging Baszler, insinuating that she’s failed to put the pieces together. Graves said Shayna is more vicious than ever.

Baszler whipped Brooke into the corner, then began manipulating the arm. Brooke rolled her up, but Shayna fought through it and quickly applied the Kirifuda Clutch. Brooke tapped quickly.

WINNER: Shayna Baszler in 1:20

After the match, Baszler tossed Brooke to the outside and tore the steps apart. She prepared to snap Brooke’s arm over the steps. Doudrop’s music hit and she danced happily to the ring. She got in Baszler’s face. Shayna walked away. Doudrop went to check on Dana Brooke. Baszler gave her a cheap shot to the back. Doudrop straightened up and stared Baszler down.

(LeClair’s Analysis: I love to see Baszler being built back up as a killer, but man, did they go incredibly hard on Dana Brooke here. Granted, most of what Graves said was true, but it seemed like it was all just terribly mean spirited. Doudrop’s character is completely DOA, and her skipping and dancing to the ring to go toe to toe with someone like Baszler is just embarrassing. It’s classic McMahon and Dunn – assuming that Doudrop could only possibly be entertaining if she’s making a fool of herself.)

-The Usos were shown backstage with Paul Heyman at their side. Kevin Patrick approached, asking Paul if he was happy about The Usos being drafted to Smackdown. Heyman said Patrick was prettier than Kayla. He called himself the warden of the Uso Penitentiary. Patrick asked him about maintaining Brock Lesnar’s status as a free agent. Heyman froze. The Usos walked away.

-Byron Saxton read a long piece of copy about Escape the Undertaker on Netflix.

-Mustafa Ali and Monsoor were already in the ring. Humberto Carrillo and Angel Garza followed.

(3) MUSTAFA ALI & MANSOOR vs. HUMBERTO CARRILLO & ANGEL GARZA

Mansoor began the match with Humberto Carrillo. They traded quick offense before tagging out. Ali and Garza entered and engaged in much of the same offense. Ali rolled Garza up for a quick two count. Garza slammed Ali into the corner. Angel distracted the referee while Carrillo slammed Ali’s head into the ring post from the outside. Garza rolled up Ali for a three count.

WINNERS: Humberto Carrillo & Angel Garza in 1:45

-Big E’s music hit almost immediately after the bell rang. The announcers said we’d hear from him next.

(LeClair’s Analysis: Yikes. Just rapid fire, blind action. No one got over, no one looked good. Barely enough time to establish either act as worth caring about. The win was so meaningless and so completely overlooked, and Garza & Carrillo’s music barely played before Big E cut them off. A total waste of time.)

-Pearce and Deville were back at the podium when the show returned from break. Pearce announced A.J. Styles and Omos as Raw’s first pick of the third round. Graves wondered whether Omos would accept Randy Orton’s challenge. Deville announced Shayna Baszler as Smackdown’s first pick in the third round. Pearce announced Kevin Owens to Raw. Deville announced Xia Li to Smackdown.

ROUND 3 RESULTS:
RAW: A.J. Styles & Omos, Kevin Owens
SMACKDOWN: Shayna Baszler, Xia Li

(LeClair’s Analysis: As I mentioned prior, it’s hard to get excited about a guy like Kevin Owens flipping over to Raw when he seems to just do this every year. This year, perhaps more than ever, the Draft seems hastily thrown together and more ceremonial than meaningful in any real way. Shayna Baszler could certainly be an interesting addition to Smackdown, especially if she’s moved into the title picture. Xia Li, meanwhile, is a fresh face that could give the division a spark, but, given WWE’s history with foreign characters, it’s hard to imagine them putting any real force behind her. Time will tell.)

-Big E stood in the ring, patiently waiting for his turn. He called out Nashville, and said it felt incredible to be on his show. E said the last week brought him some challenges. He talked about the disappointment over Kofi and Xavier being drafted to Smackdown. E said he was in the most challenging match of his career, but made sure Bobby Lashley fell to his knees.

“I came to show you that I am your rightful WWE Champion!” E declared. The crowd chanted “E” in approval. Big E said before he could catch his breath from the match, his next challenger came to the stage and declared himself. He called Drew McIntyre to the ring. McIntyre’s music hit and he emerged from the back.

Drew posed with his sword in the ring to a modest reaction. “It’s a Drew day, yes it is!” he declared. The crowd barely popped. McIntyre said even though he’s been drafted to Smackdown, he’s been waiting for a hero to vanquish Lashley. He said most people would antagonize E to try to get him to give a WWE title match. “I tell the truth, and the way I see it, Big E deserves to be WWE Champion.” He told E he deserves it. The crowd chanted in kind.

McIntyre said he wanted to look Big E in the eye and tell him he deserves the moment and that he’s earned his respect. “BUT,” Drew added. He said Big E cashed in on an injured Lashley. He challenged Big E to a WWE title match. Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode’s music hit.

Roode said they were minding their own business in the back waiting to hear where they’d be drafted to, but they were compelled by this great little story. Ziggler said he’s proud of E, and even texted him to say congratulations. “You left me on read, and that’s fine.” Ziggler said Big E forgot to thank him. Big E chuckled. Ziggler said he had a feeling E would forget. He threw to a clip of E working as Ziggler’s heavy in 2013.

Ziggler said without him, there’s no New Day, no Money in the Bank. “Hell, Xavier Woods might never have been born.” Drew said he might have a point. Ziggler said McIntyre is next. He talked about McIntyre earning his way back to WWE, becoming Ziggler’s heavy in 2018.

Dolph claimed all he ever wanted from both men is a simple thank you. E and McIntyre had a quick conference off mic. McIntyre said Ziggler has really upgraded, staring down Roode. “I’m twice the friend and twice the partner you ever were,” Roode said, “I put the body in bodyguard. They call me Big Bob.” Ziggler began screaming. Drew asked for Nashville’s opinion. They booed. Big E said they owe Ziggler an ass whooping. He challenged Ziggler and Roode to a tag team match. McIntyre called himself “Big D.” The four men argued to commercial.

(4) BIG E & DREW McINTYRE vs. DOLPH ZIGGLER & ROBERT ROODE

Drew McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler began the match as soon as the show returned from break. McIntyre took Ziggler down with a clothesline, then gave him a tossing front suplex. Drew tagged in Big E. Ziggler rolled toward the apron. E climbed outside and gave him a big apron splash.

Ziggler rolled to his corner and tagged in Robert Roode. Big E took him down with ease and tagged in McIntyre. Roode kicked McIntyre in the face. Drew shook it off and hit a neckbreaker, then kipped up. Drew tagged in Big E again. Roode drove him to his corner and tagged in Ziggler. Dolph hit a quick dropkick for a one count.

Dolph grabbed a rear chinlock on the champion. He worked Big E to the corner and tagged Roode back in. Roode gave Big E a suplex and climbed to the middle rope. He went for a diving knee, but Big E rolled out of the way. E tagged in McIntyre Drew hit Robert with a big boot, then a pair of quick overhead belly-to-belly suplexes. Ziggler entered the ring. McIntyre gave him a belly-to-belly too.

McIntyre charged at Roode, but Robert ducked, sending Drew crashing into the ring post. Ziggler hit McIntyre with a super kick from the outside. Smith sent the show to break.

Robert Roode had Drew McIntyre in a grounded headlock when the show returned from break at the 6:50 mark of the match. Drew fought free and caught both Roode and Ziggler with back elbows to create separation. McIntyre connected with a Glasgow Kiss to buy himself some time. Roode tagged in Ziggler, McIntyre tagged in Big E.

The champion his a trio of belly-t0-belly suplexes on Dolph Ziggler. E hit the ropes and connected with a big splash. He worked the crowd up for the Big Ending. Ziggler rolled down his back and went for a DDT. E tossed him away, then hit the Uranagi out of the corner. E covered, but Roode broke up the count. E tossed Roode to the apron and tried to spear him through the ropes, but Roode caught him with a knee.

Ziggler gave Big E a ZigZag. McIntyre broke up the count. Drew headed to the outside and gave Roode a belly-to-belly. In the ring, E ducked a super kick and hit a clothesline on Ziggler. He set up for the Big Ending, but McIntyre tagged himself in. Drew hit the Claymore for a three count.

WINNERS: Big E & Drew McIntyre in 9:55

Big E saved McIntyre from an attack by Roode, shoving him out of the way. he hit Roode with the Big Ending. E accepted McIntyre’s challenge for a WWE title match at Crown Jewel.

(LeClair’s Analysis: Big E and McIntyre’s promo work was fine, though McIntyre’s corny promo style is getting old, quickly. It’s just such a baffling direction for a character that was so over not very long ago. Ziggler and Roode’s set up was fine. I appreciate that, unlike most random WWE TV tag team matches, they at least made some effort to give this one justification for happening. Roode and Ziggler were a little over the top, but comical enough. Decent enough TV tag match. Nothing special here, just a way to fill some time and get to the confirmation of E vs. McIntyre before they go their separate ways.)

-Reggie approached Adam Pearce backstage. He said he heard Pearce wanted to speak to him about the draft. Pearce said he was bad info and walked away. Reggie turned around to find the Viking Raiders. R-Truth approached. Drake Maverick drove up in a golf cart. Jaxson Ryker was involved. Reggie flipped over a bunch of scaffolding, trucks, ladders, and other equipment. Eventually, he ran into Apollo Crews and Azeez. Reggie told them they could catch up later, and flipped away. Crews said he knew getting drafted to Raw would be exciting.

-Kevin Owens headed to the ring. The announcers plugged voting for The Miz on Dancing with the Stars. The show went to break.

-Out of the break, Kevin Owens was interrupted by Akira Tozawa. He welcomed Owens back to Raw, but said he didn’t want to fight him. He said he wanted to fight Reggie for the 24/7 title. Owens gave Tozawa a stunner and left.

-Pearce and Deville were back at the podium. Pearce announced the Street Profits to Raw. They screamed with delight backstage. Smackdown selected the Viking Raiders. The were shown grunting at each other backstage. Raw selected Finn Balor. Smackdown selected Ricochet.

ROUND 4 RESULTS:
RAW: The Street Profits, Finn Balor
SMACKDOWN: The Viking Raiders, Ricochet

(LeClair’s Analysis: Interesting round, I suppose. Raw undoubtedly got the better of end of this, with Balor and the Street Profits being far more valuable than the Raiders and Ricochet. The latter, while in desperate need of some rejuvenation and new scenery, may be far too gone within the confines of WWE main roster TV to be taken seriously, even on a different brand.)

-Rhea Ripley and Nikki A.S.H. headed to the ring for their Women’s tag team title defense. Graves teased the match, coming up after the break.

Natalya and Tamina were in the ring being introduced as the show returned from break.

(5) RHEA RIPLEY & NIKKI A.S.H. (c) vs. NATALYA & TAMINA – WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship match

Natalya began the match with Nikki A.S.H. She got the better of Nikki in the early going, but A.S.H. quickly fought back with a basement dropkick that sent Natalya to the outside. Nikki chased Natalya back in the ring. Tamina tagged herself in and planted A.S.H. with a boot out of the corner. Tamina tossed Nikki across the ring and then drove her into the corner.

Tamina scooped Nikki up, but A.S.H. managed to transition into a mounted sleeper. Tamina ripped her off her back and slammed her to the mat. Tamina covered, but Rhea broke up the count. Tamina tagged in Natalya. Nattie set up for the Sharpshooter, but Nikki rolled her into a small package for a two count.

Nikki tagged in Rhea Ripley. Ripley dropped Nattie with a ripcord headbutt. She gave Natalya a dropkick to the side of the head then pounded her chest and screamed to the crowd. Nattie retreated to the corner, ducked a shot from Ripley, and hit a quick backdrop. Natalya went for the stopover running dropkick, but Ripley blocked it and hit a bridging Northern Lights suplex. Tamina broke up the pin.

Tamina dragged Nattie to her corner and tagged herself in. Ripley knocked both women to the outside. Nikki A.S.H. climbed the turnbuckle and dove onto both Natalya and Tamina. She tossed Tamina back in the ring. Ripley hit the Riptide, then tagged in A.S.H. Ripley hoisted Nikki onto her shoulders, then over her head for a splash. Nikki covered for a three count.

WINNERS: Rhea Ripley & Nikki A.S.H. in 4:11 to retain the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championships

(LeClair’s Analysis: Fine, quick match. This seemed to close the book on Natalya and Tamina in the title picture, which I think is, by and large, a good thing for the titles. The downside, of course, is the general lack of challengers. I do think it’s a stronger proposition, at least, to have Ripley and A.S.H. able to compete on both brands.)

-Goldberg was shown huffing and puffing backstage. The announcers talked about what happened at SummerSlam.

-Adam Pearce and Sonya Deville were back at the podium. Graves said the draft continues next.

-Jimmy Smith said some of the draft picks have brought elation, others heartbreak. He tossed back to Pearce and Deville to continue. Raw selected Karrion Kross. Smackdown selected Humberto Carrillo and Angel Garza. Raw selected Alexa Bliss. Saxton said they’re guaranteed to see Bliss on Raw again. Graves wondered if they would, “that was a serious breakdown,” he said. Smackdown selected Cesaro to close out the round.

ROUND 5 RESULTS:
RAW: Karrion Kross, Alexa Bliss
SMACKDOWN: Humberto Carrillo & Angel Garza, Cesaro

-Mike Rome introduced Goldberg. A chant broke out and the camera panned to the crowd. Very few actually seemed to be chanting along. Goldberg marched through the smoke and into the ring.

“SEC country!” Goldberg screamed. He said Bobby Lashley had the audacity to claim what he did to his son was a misunderstand. “It wasn’t, it was intentional,” Goldberg said. He invited Lashley to the ring so he can “intentionally break his neck.” Lashley’s music hit. Goldberg smiled.

Bobby Lashley emerged from the entrance way in a tailored suit. He reiterated that his attack on Goldberg’s son was a misunderstanding. He said he wouldn’t risk ruining his custom made suit to whoop Goldberg’s ass again. Lashley asked Goldberg to look at it from his point of view. He said Goldberg is committing character assassination and owes him an apology. Lashley said he’s going to give Goldberg a match at Crown Jewel, under the condition that it’s no holds barred.

Goldberg dropped to his knees in thanks. “No holds barred gives me a license to kill!” Goldberg said he’s crazy. He said he’ll apologize to Lashley’s kids after he leaves his lifeless body in the ring gasping for air. “There’s one thing for sure, Bobby Lashley…” Goldberg paused, “You’re next. And you’re dead.” Goldberg’s music played. Lashley kept talking.

Bobby said you can’t kill the All-Mighty. He asked what Bill would do if someone jumped on his back. Cedric Alexander did just that. Shelton Benjamin followed. Goldberg took them out in seconds. Lashley smiled as Goldberg’s music played again.

(LeClair’s Analysis: I realize WWE has become pretty bold with their use of piped in crowd chants, but it’s almost never been as obvious as it was tonight as the camera cut to a bunch of people just standing around as loud “Goldberg” chants filled the arena. Nashville isn’t exactly a hot crowd tonight, but their almost complete lack of interest in Goldberg is a good clue as to how this feud with Lashley is going. Bobby did what he could with the ridiculous premise that Goldberg is going to kill him. It almost felt as though the Hurt Business was brought back solely for this segment – so they could jump Goldberg from behind the same way Goldberg’s son jumped Lashley. I wouldn’t put it past them.)

-Kevin Patrick welcomed Seth Rollins to the set backstage. Rollins went through a vocal rendition of “Sethy’s Back.” He said he’s better than ever. He said he doesn’t a give a shit who steps to him. He said he’s a revolutionary, he’s Seth freakin’ Rollins. “Let’s party baby!” Rollins walked off.

-New Day headed to the ring. Jimmy Smith said Raw gets them one last time.

(6) THE NEW DAY (Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods) vs. CEDRIC ALEXANDER & SHELTON BENJAMIN

Kofi Kingston began the match with Shelton Benjamin. Graves railed against the idea of Alexander and Benjamin having to compete following the beat down from Goldberg. Benjamin planted Kingston then tagged in Alexander. Cedric worked over Kofi briefly, then tagged Shelton back in.

Kingston battled back quickly with a tornado DDT from the top rope. He made a diving tag to Xavier Woods. Benjamin tagged in Alexander. Woods hit a tilt-a-whirl Russian leg sweep. Alexander tossed Woods over the top rope to the apron. Kingston hit a double stomp off the steps to Benjamin.

Woods knocked Alexander down and hit the flying elbow from the top rope, covering him for a three count.

WINNERS: The New Day in 2:18

Woods screamed “crown me!” following the win, building on his long-running wish to be King of the Ring. The Street Profits music hit. The congratulated New Day on their new movie. Angelo asked how they did it. “No spoilers!” said Montez Ford. Ford said they wanted to congratulate New Day, and declare that the Street Profits are back on Raw and “we want the smoke!”

The Street Profits hopped in the ring and gave Kofi a cup. Kofi was suddenly moved to dance. The two teams celebrated together.

(LeClair’s Analysis: Just another quick, meaningless match. Benjamin and Alexander hardly sold their injuries from the Goldberg attack, but they were treated to a glorified squash from New Day. This seemed like more of an excuse to get the Street Profits in the ring with New Day again more than anything else, a repeat of Friday’s Smackdown, and, more importantly, of last year’s draft when the two teams ridiculously swapped titles.)

-The announcers tossed to a hype video for Finn Balor.

-Randy Orton headed to the ring with Riddle at his side. Graves wondered if Omos would accept his challenge. Smith said we’d find out next.

-Out of the break, Jimmy Smith talked up the Raw Tag Team Championship between R.K.Bro and A.J. Styles & Omos at Crown Jewel.

Randy Orton said he’s ready and waiting for Omos. He said he’s wondering if Omos is A.J.’s personal colossus, or if he’s “just a big bitch.” Cue A.J. Styles music.

Styles and Omos walked out. “Cut the music,” Styles said. He said they were celebrating his win over “Gilligan.” Styles said Orton is insignificant and Omos would destroy him. A.J. asked Orton whether he thinks Riddle has enough brain cells to stop them from taking the tag team titles back. A.J. said he’s excited they’ve all been drafted to Raw, because once they takes the titles back, they can stick the titles in their face week after week and gloat about being the ones who ended the “asinine” team.

Omos began to speak, but Orton attacked Styles. He gave A.J. an RKO and left the ring in a hurry with Riddle. Omos yelled at the champions. The announcers said it was brilliant strategy.

(LeClair’s Analysis: Yawn. What was once one of the more entertaining things on Raw has become tiresome, overwrought drivel. Riddle becomes more infuriating and less entertaining by the week, Orton appears to be going through the motions again, Styles feels like he’s wasting away in a tag team who’s shelf life expired months ago, and Omos, while big and intimidating, has shown little to no improvement in the ring since becoming active at WrestleMania. This feud has gone on too long.)

-Bianca Belair was shown warming up backstage. Graves said she’d face Charlotte Flair next.

-The announcers talked up last week’s NXT 2.0.

-Adam Pearce and Sonya Deville returned to the draft podium for the final round of the draft. Raw selected Carmella. Smackdown selected Ridge Holland. Pearce announced Gable Steveson as Raw’s final pick. Smackdown selected Sami Zayn.

ROUND 6 RESULTS:
RAW: Carmella, Gable Steveson
SMACKDOWN: Ridge Holland, Sami Zayn

-Bianca Belair and Charlotte Flair headed to the ring for the main event. The announcers recapped Flair’s move to Smackdown and her attack on both Banks and Belair on Friday night.

Just as Flair handed her title over to the referee, Becky Lynch’s music hit and she headed to the ring, now sporting black lipstick. She held up her Smackdown Women’s title as she headed to the commentary desk. Smith said they’d have Lynch on commentary with them next.

(7) BIANCA BELAIR vs. CHARLOTTE FLAIR

Charlotte Flair and Bianca Belair sized each other up to begin the match. Becky Lynch talked about her poetry skills on commentary. Bianca took Flair down in a headlock takeover, but Flair quickly powered out of it into a leg lock. Belair fought through it and got dropped by Flair, who covered for a one count.

Flair and Belair traded quick take downs. Charlotte hit a quick flip and handstand then challenged Belair. Bianca responded with a flip of her own. Flair took her down and whipped her to the corner, Lynch said she’s not the most flippy, but she wins by outsmarting and outlasting.

Belair flipped away from Flair in the corner, leapt onto the middle rope, and blew Flair a kiss before slapping her own behind. Bianca dropped Charlotte again and repeated the pose. She tossed Flair to the corner, then carried her to the adjacent turnbuckle. Flair countered out with a boot to the face. Belair hoisted Flair onto the apron. Charlotte caught her with a knee. Belair spilled out onto the apron. The two women locked up. Belair went for a suplex on the apron, but Flair blocked it. She grabbed Biancas braid and kicked her in the stomach. Charlotte dropped Belair onto the apron, then tossed her over the barricade and into the timekeeper’s area. The show went to commercial.

Bianca Belair powered out of a reverse guillotine as the show returned from commercial around the 7:30 mark of the match. She hit Flair with a stalling vertical suplex for a two count. Saxton told Lynch that it could be her in that suplex. Lynch agreed, saying she’d she’d kick out just like Flair. Becky said she beat Charlotte at WrestleMania and beat Bianca Belair in 26 seconds.

Flair rolled up Belair for a two count, then hoisted her in a deadlift for a powerbomb. Charlotte covered for a two count. Both women struggled to their feet. Flair went for Natural Selection, but Belair blocked it. She went for a suplex, but Charlotte held onto the braid. Belair hoisted Flair into position for the K.O.D. Flair flipped through it, hit the ropes, and connected with a spear for a near fall.

Lynch continued to talk about being better than ever after having a baby. Belair went for a spinebuster, but Flair landed awkwardly. Belair covered for a two count. Bianca dragged Flair into position, then climbed to the top rope. Flair shot to her feet and leaned into the ropes, dropping Belair. Charlotte hit her with a boot to drop her to the mat. Charlotte climbed to the top rope herself. She went for the moonsault, but Belair rolled out of the way. Flair landed on her feet and hit a standing moonsault for a near fall.

Flair set up for the Figure Four, but Belair rolled her into a cover for two. Bianca grabbed Charlotte and hit the Kiss of Death. She covered, but Becky Lynch pulled her to the outside. She tossed Charlotte Flair to the outside, then hit Bianca with the Rock Bottom. Sasha Banks appeared and attacked Becky from behind. She hit running knees in the corner to both Lynch and Belair. She hit Lynch with a Backstabber. Banks stood over Lynch as the show went off the air.

(LeClair’s Analysis: A decent match, albeit with a crappy, non-finish that anyone watching must have seen coming from a mile away. There was simply no way they were going to give away a finish to the first match between these two during a previously unannounced match on Raw. It speaks to the larger issue with WWE’s booking, in that wins and losses simply don’t matter and finishes are at a premium. It’s nice to see the top women in WWE together in the ring, but it’s hard to get particularly invested right now with so many moving parts, looming title switches, and brand mixing. I’ll reserve full judgment until the new rosters kick in and things start to settle down a bit.)

FINAL THOUGHTS: Tonight’s draft proved to be a strong outing for the “home show”, much like Smackdown got a big advantage on night one. As I mentioned earlier, the draft felt more procedural and ceremonial than usual, with a significant number of wrestlers staying put and even more just moving back to the brand they were on last year. It’s among the chief issues with such a thin roster of regularly used, pushed wrestlers. I was disappointed by the lack of fan-fare surrounding the picks, the complete omission of analysis or strategy from pick to pick. It’s frustrating knowing they have such a commodity – think the NFL Draft, Fantasy Football, or fantasy draft mode in any modern sports video game. Drafts are one of the most exciting things in all of sports, and WWE managed to make theirs seem lifeless, dull, redundant, and relatively meaningless.

Draft aside, I thought this was a largely weak and uneventful episode. Outside of the main event, Goldberg’s appearance was the biggest moment of the evening. His promo felt flat, with the crowd seeming largely disinterested. WWE doubled down on the ridiculous notion that Goldberg is going to “kill” Lashley in Saudi Arabia, of all places. It’s so completely tone deaf.

Raw is a tough show – 3 hours is mind-numbingly long, particularly when the roster is so thin and has spent so much time trading wins back and forth. The results of the draft don’t get me particularly hyped for the coming months. We’ve certainly entered the fall lull, where WWE has to reluctantly promote a Pay-Per-View they aren’t proud of, while simultaneously focusing on a draft that won’t take effect for weeks. The King of the Ring tournaments should generate some general interest, and hopefully provide a spark that makes the show more enticing to follow week to week going forward.

 

 

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