Monday Night Raw
Date: May 17, 2021
Location: Yuengling Center, Tampa, Florida
Commentators: Adnan Virk, Corey Graves, Byron Saxton
We’re done with Wrestlemania Backlash, where the Raw side featured Wrestlemania rematches with Braun Strowman and Charlotte thrown in, plus Miz and John Morrison being devoured by zombies. I’m going to assume things will pick up from here, but we are now about a month away from Hell in a Cell, meaning it could be rematches a go-go. Let’s get to it.
A group of women escort Bobby Lashley into the arena, where MVP handles the introduction. After a look back at last night’s triple threat match, MVP talks about Braun Strowman having broken ribs and Drew McIntyre not being able to get out of bed. On top of that, Lashley did all of that with a bad hand. Lashley has insisted on working tonight so the open challenge (erg) is on. Cue Drew McIntyre to say he accepts but MVP says McIntyre cut him off: the challenge was to anyone OTHER than McIntyre and Strowman. McIntyre knocks Lashley out to the floor, where MVP has to hold him back.
AJ Styles vs. Elias
Omos and Jaxson Ryker are here too. AJ snaps off the dropkick to start but walks into a suplex to send him into the corner. That means some shoulders to the ribs and forearms to the face to put AJ down, setting up a baseball slide to send AJ into the post. AJ clotheslines him outside though and we take a break.
Back with Elias hitting a backdrop and a spinning spinebuster for two, setting up the chinlock. Elias stops to pose but then grabs the chinlock again, with AJ fighting up to hit the Pele. The fireman’s carry backbreaker gets two but Elias’ jumping knee to the face gets the same. AJ gets in a few shots and gets sent to the apron, where he hits Elias in the head. The Phenomenal Forearm is loaded up but Ryker pulls him down for the DQ at 10:46.
Rating: C. Perfectly watchable match here, with Styles being able to get decent out of anyone. AJ and Omos seemed to be faces here, which would not be the worst idea. Then again, it was a match involving Elias and Ryker so being the more popular ones is not exactly a heck of a trick.
Post match Omos stalks Ryker to the back as Elias gets to pose.
Johnny Gargano is ready to defend the North American Title against Bronson Reed inside a cage tomorrow on NXT.
We look back at Randy Orton getting the pin in a tag match last week and the laying out New Day with RKO’s after the match.
New Day got Riddle’s message (via pigeon mail) about how there is a snake to see them (and no, it wasn’t a hallucination). They run into Randy Orton, who was told to come here to see Adam Pearce. It seems that we have a Riddle ruse, because he wants them to be a foursome. Orton isn’t going to apologize though, which Kofi dubs as “a reptile dysfunction.” Orton vs. Kofi is set for tonight. Riddle tries to calm Orton down but gets shushed again. These two are solid silver together.
It’s time for Alexa’s Playground, which is now a talk show. The guests are Tamina and Natalya, with the latter talking about how special it was to win the titles. Tamina wants to leave but Bliss has a question: what is their favorite color? Pink for Natalya and black and blue for Tamina, which would look good on Bliss if she tries anything. They have a rematch with Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler tonight, but Bliss would rather talk about Lily collecting the wings of dead insects. The champs leave.
Angel Garza vs. Drew Gulak
Rematch from two weeks ago when Garza won and then violated Gulak with a rose. Garza TAKES OFF HIS PANTS to start but gets pulled into a quick abdominal stretch. That’s broken up so Garza hits a reverse slingshot suplex, with Gulak landing on his feet. That earns him a basement dropkick as Gulak is rocked early. A delayed butterfly backbreaker sets up the Wing Clipper to finish Gulak at 2:10.
Post match Garza puts the rose in Gulak’s mouth.
R-Truth (hey he’s still here) is trying to hide because he has an Open Challenge tonight. Actually it’s Bobby Lashley, which Truth thinks means Ricky Bobby. He’s a lot happier that it isn’t him, but Akira Tozawa runs in to roll him up for the title. Truth: “THE TURNTABLES HAVE TURNED!”
Eva Marie is a supermodel who wants to be a super role model. The Evalution is coming.
Kofi Kingston vs. Randy Orton
Xavier Woods and Riddle are here too. Orton’s headlock doesn’t last long as Kingston knocks him to the floor. Back in and we hit the armbar to keep Orton in trouble, as Woods talks about how the legend is beating the Legend Killer. Kingston hits whatever he calls the middle of the ropes Vader Bomb for two and goes back to the arm. Orton is back with some choking on the ropes and we hit the chinlock in a hurry. Kofi fights up with a chop but walks into the powerslam to put him down again. Woods is right there with the trombone solo to distract Orton though and Kofi grabs the rollup for the pin at 5:07.
Rating: C-. These two are always worth a look, even if that look ends with another lame distraction finish. I’m curious about where this feud is going though, as they are actually making Orton and Riddle into a team (for the moment at least) rather than people doing something to set up a feud. That’s interesting, and hopefully it continues to be so.
Post match the staredown is on with Riddle shoving Woods down.
Naomi and Lana and Mandy Rose and Dana Brooke aren’t happy with Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler getting an automatic rematch. Charlotte comes in and says she needs to talk to Sonya Deville alone, so there goes everyone else. She wants her title match but is told she has to beat Asuka tonight. Cue Rhea Ripley, to say she would love some new competition. Staring ensues.
Women’s Tag Team Titles: Tamina/Natalya vs. Shayna Baszler/Nia Jax
Baszler and Jax, with Reginald, are challenging. Jax runs Natalya over to start and it’s off to Shayna to work on the arm. That’s broken up and the hot tag brings in Tamina to clean house. Baszler grabs the Kirifuda Clutch….but here are Alexa Bliss and Lily for the evil laugh. Then fire shoots out of a post to burn Reginald (who was three feet away). The distraction sets up the Hart Attack to finish Baszler at 3:04.
Rating: D+. This was just an excuse to get Alexa and Lily out there, meaning there wasn’t much to see. I can go with the rematch being burned off if they just had to do one, so it isn’t like there is much to complain about. The match didn’t have time to do anything when so much of the match was spent on Bliss and a demonic doll with fire powers.
Sheamus vs. Ricochet
Rematch from last night’s Kickoff Show. Before the match, Sheamus complains about Ricochet stealing his hat and coat after losing last night. In the back, Ricochet puts on said hat and coat and mocks Sheamus’ accent before coming to the ring. Sheamus knees him in the ribs in a hurry and sends Ricochet into the corner. The armbar goes on as commentary argues about Ricochet being a thief. They head outside with Sheamus sending him into the timekeeper’s area as we take a break.
Back with Ricochet fighting out of a chinlock but getting caught in a Dublin Smile. The Irish Curse gives Sheamus two but Ricochet catches him on top. A super Spanish Fly connects (with Sheamus coming up grabbing his knee) for two and Sheamus can barely stand. The springboard clothesline in to the running shooting star gives Ricochet two more but his Lionsault hits knees.
The Brogue Kick misses and Sheamus gets caught in the ropes, setting up a jumping neckbreaker. Ricochet goes up top so Sheamus rolls outside, meaning it’s a high crossbody to drop him again. Back in and a springboard 450 gives Ricochet two more but Sheamus knees him out of the air….for two. Dang that was a good false finish. The Brogue Kick finishes for Sheamus about ten seconds later at 13:26, making me wonder if that knee was supposed to be the finish.
Rating: C+. I was buying some of those near falls, even if it’s disappointing to have Ricochet lose again. If nothing else though, it’s great to see him getting on television for a change, because that has not been the case nearly often enough. At the very least, it is nice to see some fresh faces on the show, which certainly have been missing as of late.
Post match Sheamus says his other shoulder feels empty, so he might be coming for Lashley’s title tonight.
Mace and T-Bar do their best Ascension impression, saying one of them is coming for Lashley’s Title tonight.
Charlotte vs. Asuka
Asuka starts fast with the hip attack against the ropes but Charlotte elbows her down. A legsweep sends Charlotte to the apron for another hip attack. Charlotte gets in her own legsweep….and here is Rhea Ripley as we take a break. Back (with Ripley watching at ringside) with Asuka fighting out of a chinlock but getting chopped back down.
A pinfall reversal sequence goes nowhere as Charlotte takes her down into a figure four necklock. Asuka tries to fight back but gets kicked in the face for two instead. Natural Selection and the Asuka Lock are blocked so Charlotte elbows her in the face for two. A super Spanish Fly misses and Asuka hits a missile dropkick for her own two.
Asuka pulls her into a kneebar and then a triangle choke, with Charlotte reversing into a Boston crab. That’s broken up and Asuka pulls her into the Asuka Lock. Charlotte makes it to the rope for the break and they head outside, with Charlotte getting distracted by Ripley. Back in and Asuka rolls her up for two, allowing Charlotte to go for the Figure Four, which is countered into a small package to give Asuka the pin at 16:40.
Rating: B. That is probably Charlotte’s best match since the return as they were working out there. It’s nice to see Asuka getting a win, though it felt more like Charlotte lost than Asuka beating her. This is going to set up Charlotte vs. Ripley for the title somehow, as that is the match they have been wanting to do since last year’s Wrestlemania, hopefully with Ripley getting her win back. For now though, very good TV match.
John Morrison is mostly fine after last night’s zombie attack, even though they haven’t been to a dentist in months. Miz may never be the same though, and tonight’s match is dedicated to him.
Damian Priest vs. John Morrison
Lumberjack match, including Nikki Cross making her return at ringside. Priest strikes away to start and Morrison realizes he can’t escape. After some stomping in the corner, Morrison finally escapes to the floor where he sends Akira Tozawa inside. A flip off the apron doesn’t get Morrison very far and we take a break.
Back with Morrison stomping away and hitting a running knee to the face for two. The chinlock doesn’t last long as Priest fights up and hits a Dominator into a DDT. The lumberjacks get in the fight on the floor, including Cedric Alexander diving onto Shelton Benjamin. Priest superplexes Morrison onto the pile for the big crash (with Morrison landing hard), followed by a super hurricanrana back inside. Hit the Lights finishes Morrison at 12:06.
Rating: C. Now let it be done for good between Priest and Miz/Morrison. This has been going on for about four months now and it is way past the point where it should be finished. Priest wins again and there is nothing left for them to do against each other. The lumberjack stipulation felt like a way to make up for last night and the lack of zombies helped a lot.
Post match Priest says he might accept Bobby Lashley’s open challenge.
Eva Marie wants to be a hero people can look up to.
Shelton Benjamin doesn’t want to talk about Cedric Alexander, so here is Cedric Alexander. Cedric talks about how Shelton is worthless….and gets dropped with a right hand.
We look back at the opening segment.
Raw World Title: Bobby Lashley vs. ???
Lashley is defending against…..Kofi Kingston? Never mind actually, as MVP says he never said this should be a title match.
Bobby Lashley vs. Kofi Kingston
Non-title and Kofi jumps him at the bell, earning himself a spinebuster for two. Some knees to the head get Kofi out of a delayed suplex attempt, followed by three straight one footed dropkicks to the floor. There’s the big dive over the top to drop Lashley and we take a break. We come back with…..a clip from earlier tonight, with Drew McIntyre answering the open challenge. Now that they have covered that it was not going to be a title match, we get back to the ring where Lashley knocks him into the corner and choked on the rope. Now the delayed vertical suplex connects for two and we hit the waistlock.
Kofi fights up and hits a DDT for two, setting up the Boom Drop. Lashley pops back up for a Downward Spiral but Woods offers a trombone concert. That’s enough of a distraction for Kingston to hit a top rope DDT across the top, sending Lashley head first into the apron. Back in and the SOS is countered into the spinning Dominator. Lashley takes him outside for a posting so Woods yells a lot, earning himself an ejection. The distraction lets MVP load up the cane but here is Drew McIntyre to take it away and hit Lashley. Kingston grabs the rollup pin at 10:50.
Rating: C. I can always go for Kingston fighting his way through a match, even if the ending is likely to set up McIntyre vs. Lashley again rather than Kingston vs. Lashley II. TO be fair, that isn’t much of a pay per view match, but it is something fresh after months of Lashley vs. McIntyre. We’ll probably get a Kofi title match on Raw, but I can’t picture it going much further than that. Kofi getting the shot was certainly surprising and there were worse options, though it wasn’t exactly exciting.
Overall Rating: C-. This was not a great or even very good show, as it still had a bunch of the nonsense that has dragged Raw down for weeks (if not longer). The Lily stuff is annoying and the World Title picture continues to feel repetitive and Priest vs. Miz/Morrison somehow continued, but this was a HUGE upgrade over recent weeks. This was a case where the show was better just because it didn’t have nearly as much bad, and for Raw that is an improvement. They have a long way to go, but this was a watchable enough show and didn’t have anything too terrible (or at least nothing terrible and long). I’ll take that these days.
AJ Styles b. Elias via DQ when Jaxson Ryker interfered
Angel Garza b. Drew Gulak – Wing Clipper
Kofi Kingston b. Randy Orton – Rollup
Tamina/Natalya b. Nia Jax/Shayna Baszler – Hart Attack to Baszler
Sheamus b. Ricochet – Brogue Kick
Asuka b. Charlotte – Small package
Damian Priest b. John Morrison – Hit The Lights
Kofi Kingston b. Bobby Lashley – Rollup
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