Monday Night Raw
Date: May 24, 2021
Location: Yuengling Center, Tampa, Florida
Commentators: Corey Graves, Adnan Virk, Byron Saxton
We are on the way to both the Cell and the return of live fans, and last week’s Raw was downright tolerable. I’m not sure what that is going to mean for this week’s show, but at last last week’s effort wasn’t as bad. This week features a rematch between Tamina and Natalya vs. Nia Jax/Shayna Baszler for the former’s Women’s Tag Team Titles. Let’s get to it.
MVP opens things up and brings out WWE Champion Bobby Lashley, with some different women than last week. After a recap of Kofi Kingston pinning Lashley last week, MVP asks for a round of applause for the champ. At the same time, they are coming up on the return of fans, where you can see Lashley in person. That brings MVP to Drew McIntyre, who Lashley has beaten a few times now, meaning they are sick of him.
MVP likes the idea of Kingston rising up to face Lashley and he did, but that dark cloud got involved (cue Drew’s music) “AGAIN!”. McIntyre says everyone knew he was going to be there last week and now he wants his one on one rematch for the title. He gets in the ring and asks the ladies if Lashley has the testicular fortitude to face him one on one. The women back off and Lashley isn’t having this but here is New Day to interrupt.
Kingston reminds up (multiple times) that he pinned Lashley last week, with Lashley bringing up McIntyre’s interference. With that win, Kingston thinks he should get a rematch, which he never got after losing his title. Why is McIntyre getting rematch after rematch after rematch? McIntyre isn’t cool with that but here is Adam Pearce to make a #1 contenders match, with the winner getting Lashley at the pay per view.
Braun Strowman is glad to have fans back.
Drew McIntyre vs. Kofi Kingston
MVP and Lashley are with the ladies in the VIP Lounge on the stage while Xavier Woods is at ringside as the winner gets Lashley next month for the title. Kofi’s headlock doesn’t get him very far as McIntyre throws him down without much effort. The toss suplex is countered with a knee to the head though and Kofi snaps off a Russian legsweep. There’s the slingshot splash for two on McIntyre, with Lashley approving.
Kingston sends him outside and nails the slingshot shot to the head. Kofi gets caught in an electric chair though and the reverse Alabama Slam sends him into the apron as we take a break. Back with McIntyre in control and snapping off a belly to belly suplex. Another knockdown gives McIntyre two but Kofi gets in a shot to the face to set up a middle rope dropkick. A quick guillotine attempt is countered into a suplex to give Drew two and frustration is setting in.
Kingston’s jumping double stomp gets two and, after headbutting Drew off the top, Kingston hits a high crossbody….which McIntyre rolls through into a Michinoku Driver. McIntyre gets distracted by Lashley through and we take another break. Back again with MVP and Lashley at ringside and McIntyre hitting a belly to back superplex for two. A spinebuster into a sitout powerbomb gets the same but McIntyre goes shoulder first into the post. Kofi sends him outside and dives onto McIntyre, MVP and Lashley at the same time. Back in and the SOS gets two, which draws in MVP and Lashley for the double DQ at 21:14.
Rating: B. Can we just skip MVP and Lashley gloating and announce the triple threat? If that’s too cliched, let us have the rematch already because the idea of the villains thinking they have outsmarted everyone has been played out for years. The match was good though, as having a former champion in there gave even the slightest hint that something could go down, which is very nice to have.
Post match the brawl is on, with McIntyre clearing the ring.
Rhea Ripley comes up to Charlotte in the back, with Charlotte saying she knows Ripley wants to be like her. A challenge is set, but here is Nikki Cross to say one of them can fight her instead. Charlotte is busy, but if she had the chance, she would beat Cross in two minutes. Ripley is free though and will do it later, much to Nikki’s delight.
Eva Marie talks about the people who work together to make her happen. Now she wants to be a hero instead of just playing one.
Rhea Ripley vs. Nikki Cross
Non-title and Cross wins if she survives two minutes. Ripley starts fast but Cross escapes and hammers away. A jawbreaker sets up a high crossbody for two on Ripley and there’s the running splash in the corner. Ripley dropkicks her down though with thirty seconds left. Ripley hammers away in the corner and stomps Cross down but time expires at 2:00.
Post match here is Charlotte for her match, with Cross mocking her via funny faces and dancing.
Damian Priest can’t wait to have fans back.
Drew McIntyre and Kofi Kingston come in to see Adam Pearce, who makes a rematch for the #1 contendership next week. Kingston is cool with that, as long as MVP and Bobby Lashley are kept out. McIntyre is down as well and the staring ensues.
Charlotte vs. Asuka
Yes, again. They go with the grappling to start with Charlotte having to escape an early Asuka Lock attempt. A kick to the face sends Charlotte to the apron but she twists Asuka’s leg around the ropes. The knee is sent into the steps to put Asuka down and we take a break. Back with Charlotte working on the leg but Asuka rolls her into an armbar. Some kicks to the back have Charlotte in trouble but she comes back with a shinbreaker.
Asuka snaps off a German suplex for a breather, so Charlotte drops her throat first across the top rope. The bad leg is sent into the post twice in a row but she manages a sliding knee off the apron. Charlotte sends the leg into the announcers’ table though and we take a break. Back with Asuka countering a big boot with a kind of Codebreaker and grabbing another cross armbreaker.
They fall outside again for a bit before coming back inside to slug it out. Charlotte misses the big boot but swings around to hit a spinning back elbow for two more (that was a sweet save, which she did last week as well). Charlotte goes for the knee again but gets kicked in the head. The Asuka Lock goes on but Charlotte flips backwards into the cradle for the pin at 21:23.
Rating: B-. This is the third match these two have had on Raw and it isn’t exactly interesting anymore. That is a trope of WWE booking and unfortunately it has happened again with a match that once felt huge. If nothing else, I could certainly go with never seeing that same finish again, as it is almost the standard way to beat Asuka these days.
Adam Pearce needs to see Bobby Lashley.
Mandy Rose and Dana Brooke are glad to have fans back.
Bobby Lashley and MVP come in to see Adam Pearce, who tells them to stay out of next week’s #1 contender match. If Lashley interferes, he is suspended without pay for ninety days. Lashley does not like that but MVP holds him back.
We look at Cedric Alexander joining the Hurt Business and being kicked out, along with Shelton Benjamin. Alexander blamed Benjamin and then lost to him a few weeks ago.
Shelton Benjamin vs. Cedric Alexander
Before the match, Cedric says he is tired of carrying the washed up Shelton. The Hurt Business kicked Shelton out and Cedric was just collateral damage. Cedric has a future and is in his prime but how much time does Shelton have left? Tonight, Cedric is getting his hand raised. The bell rings and Cedric bails to the floor as we take a break. Back with a fired up Shelton knocking him into the corner and turning Cedric inside out with a running shoulder. Shelton stomps away and send things outside and Cedric is whipped hard into the barricade.
They get back in with Cedric kicking him in the ribs but having to grab the ropes to block the exploder. A kick to the head slows Shelton down and a super hurricanrana gives Cedric two. We hit the headlock on the mat to slow Shelton down and Cedric switches to a cobra clutch. Shelton Hulks Up and sends Cedric into the corner but Paydirt is countered into a rollup for two. The Dragon Whip drops Alexander and the rolling German suplexes rock him again. A poke to the eye gets Cedric out of trouble though and the Neuralizer finishes Benjamin at 9:48.
Rating: C+. This was a nice match with Cedric cheating to even things up, which is a little more than I would have bet on when they split. I’m still not wild on the 50/50 booking, but that isn’t going away anytime soon. At least they got a little time here though and I’ll take that over a pair of three minute matches.
Video on the history of RKBro.
John Morrison is glad the fans are going to be back. These promos are all about the same thing, but it’s nice to see some individual personalities.
Riddle vs. Xavier Woods
They fight over the lockup to start with Riddle taking him to the mat but Woods drives him into the corner. Woods takes his glove off and is pulled down into the rear naked choke, sending Woods’ feet into the ropes. The rolling northern lights suplexes have Woods in more trouble but he grabs his own suplex for two. They go to a test of strength with Riddle going to the mat. He pulls himself up to try a sunset flip but Woods catches him on the shoulders (geez) and drops him with another suplex.
Riddle kicks away in the corner and it’s a double clothesline to put both of them down. Woods gets sent outside in a heap but gets back on the apron so Riddle can kick away. One of the kicks is blocked though and something like an AA drops Riddle again. Back from a break with Riddle hitting the running forearms in the corner but the backsplash lands on raised knees. Woods snaps off a headscissors and a middle rope dropkick gets two.
Riddle is back up with the Bro Derek attempt but they trade counters until Woods ties him in the Tree of Woe. The running delayed dropkick connects and a gorilla press gives Woods two. Woods heads to the apron but gets kneed in the head, setting up a rather scary looking apron German superplex for two (with Woods nearly landing on the top of his head). The Floating Bro misses and Woods nails a rolling elbow. With nothing else working, Riddle busts out an RKO for the pin at 12:48.
Rating: B. This has been the wrestling show and Woods had one of his best singles matches to date as a result. It goes to show you how talented a lot of these wrestlers are, but there is only so much that can be done with four minutes here and there. Riddle is someone who can get to a very high level when you take away the goofy stuff and we got to see that here. Woods is rather good as well, but this was one of the few chances he has had. Based on this, maybe he should get some more.
Charlotte gets the Women’s Title shot against Rhea Ripley at Hell In A Cell.
AJ Styles vs. Jaxson Ryker
No seconds here and AJ hits a dropkick to start. Ryker grabs a suplex though and we hit the bearhug to slow Styles down. That’s broken up and Styles sends him outside for a baseball slide….and here’s Elias to knee Styles in the face. Back in and a swinging Boss Man Slam gives Ryker the pin at 2:04.
Post match Omos finds Elias in the timekeeper’s area (in an awesome visual with the camera looking up) and then chases Elias and Ryker to the stage. Elias falls down and then gets Pounced into the set to break up some electronics.
Video on Humberto Carrillo vs. Sheamus.
Jeff Hardy is glad fans are going to be back.
Sheamus vs. Humberto Carrillo
Non-title and Sheamus knocks him to the floor to start. The whip into the barricade has Carrillo in trouble and they’re quickly back inside with Sheamus hitting a quick clothesline. A gorilla press puts Carrillo down again and the forearms to the chest (seated version) keep him in trouble. Carrillo manages to knock him outside though and there’s the suicide dive to send Sheamus into the announcers’ table (that looked great). Back in and Sheamus counters a victory roll into a cradle with tights for the pin at 3:44.
Rating: C. This was mainly a squash until Carrillo’s comeback with that sweet dive, which didn’t give them much to work with here. That being said, Carrillo didn’t lose clean and Sheamus looked a little desperate to be able to put him away. I’m not sure if that is going to be the sign of a great future for him, but it’s better than the Brogue Kick for the clean pin.
Post match Sheamus stays on Carrillo but Ricochet runs in for the save. Ricochet’s Lionsault sets up Carrillo’s moonsault (mainly onto Sheamus’ face) which sets up Ricochet’s 450 to send Sheamus rolling away.
We recap last week’s screwy finish to the Women’s Tag Team Title match, plus Shayna Baszler making Natalya tap out on Smackdown, setting up tonight’s rematch.
Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler ARE STILL BICKERING ABOUT REGINALD BECAUSE THAT IS ALL THESE PEOPLE DO! Baszler wants Reginald to stay in the back tonight and threatens violence if he comes to ringside.
Eva Marie is in great shape and likes helping people get in great shape too.
Women’s Tag Team Titles: Nia Jax/Shayna Baszler vs. Tamina/Natalya
Tamina and Natalya are defending. Baszler and Tamina start, with Baszler shoving Natalya on the apron. That means it’s Natalya coming in instead, with Baszler grabbing the arm. They go into a pinfall reversal sequence with Baszler putting on a keylock to slow things back down. Baszler grabs a quickly broken Sharpshooter so she loads up the arm strong but freaking Reginald comes out, allowing Natalya to roll away. We take a break and come back with Baszler still working on Natalya’s arm but Natalya slips out.
The tag brings in Tamina for a low superkick to Nia, but a second attempt is countered into a sloppy rollup for two. The stomping is on in the corner but Tamina hits Baszler in the face. Everything breaks down and Tamina gets backdropped over the barricade. Natalya hits the discus lariat on Baszler but Reginald gets on the apron for a distraction, meaning Baszler’s small package only gets two. Reginald goes up the ramp but fire goes off to knock him down, allowing Natalya to small package Baszler for the retaining pin at 11:44.
Rating: C. So not only did they do the same “distraction leads to a missed rollup” that Miz and Morrison did a few weeks ago, but we also get another finish built around Reginald. He’s talented at acrobatics and all that jazz but WHY IS HE ON THIS SHOW??? He was brought in because Carmella needed a lackey and for some reason that gets him a job for life? Oh and Nia thinks someone half her size is cute, because that’s an idea they needed to resurrect after Enzo Amore was released.
Post match Shayna helps Reginald up and then grabs him, saying that she wants the “Cirque du Soleil Sommelier” next week, where she will make him wish he died in that explosion. Oh for goodness’ sake. That’s their big hook to end the show going into a holiday episode? Sure why not.
Overall Rating: C+. Really annoying ending aside, I liked most of this show. They went very, very heavy with the wrestling this week and while it might not be something that works every week, sometimes it is the kind of show you need. Above all else, that much ring time meant that much less time that could be used on a bunch of stupid stuff, which was the case (for the most part) until the main event. The wrestling was good and the storylines were a lot less dumb, making this the best Raw in a long time, which granted is a tiny bar to clear at this point.
The thing that gives me a bit of hope though is I’m not sure how much you’re going to see storyline wise until the fans are back. Most of the next two months is a dead period for the next several weeks as they are not likely to want to burn through anything until then. That might not be the worst idea, but it might not make for the most interesting few weeks. Still though, good start here.
Drew McIntyre vs. Kofi Kingston went to a double DQ when the Hurt Business interfered
Nikki Cross b. Rhea Ripley when the time limit expires
Charlotte b. Asuka – Rollup
Cedric Alexander b. Shelton Benjamin – Neuralizer
Riddle b. Xavier Woods – RKO
Jaxson Ryker b. AJ Styles – Swinging Boss Man Slam
Sheamus b. Humberto Carrillo – Rollup with tights
Natalya/Tamina b. Nia Jax/Shayna Baszler – Small package to Baszler
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