Monday Night Raw
Date: July 19, 2021
Location: American Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas
Commentators: Byron Saxton, Corey Graves, Jimmy Smith
The week of the fans continues as we have the first Raw in front of a crowd since March 2021. Smackdown and Money in the Bank seemed to go pretty well but this is the big test. This is the Raw that WWE has literally had months to plan for and they can put on their best show possible. John Cena is back and opening the show so they should have a good start. Let’s get to it.
Here is John Cena to get things going as they’re starting fast tonight. Cena says he can still see some people coming in so come on down. After acknowledging a kid’s “I’m turning 11 and I’m here to see John Cena” sign, Cena says he missed us. Cena talks about what a group effort Raw is and how he was here last night for the end of Money in the Bank.
Paul Heyman panicked, Roman Reigns didn’t know what he was supposed to do, Michael Cole was really happy and Pat McAfee still didn’t know where Cena was. Cena is back for Reigns and he thinks about five weeks from now in Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada sounds like a safe bet. He could talk about how important Summerslam is and how great it would be to win his seventeenth World Title, but it is a lot simpler than that: “Roman Reigns is an a******.” (WWE censored it too this time).
Reigns is an overhyped gimmick who isn’t as great as he says he is, “and that’s coming from ME”. Cena asks to hear the fans a bit more and says the saying goes if they’re great, the people will tell you. He’s going to be at Smackdown on Friday and he’ll see Reigns there. Cue Riddle and it’s time for a Bro Off (WWE version, not the Impact version).
Riddle/Viking Raiders vs. John Morrison/AJ Styles/Omos
Riddle takes Morrison down to start and puts on something like a YES Lock. It’s off to Erik for a knee to the face and Ivar is slammed onto Morrison for a bonus. Everything breaks down and the Viking are sent outside, where they catch Morrison’s slingshot hurricanrana. Morrison gets crushed between then but Omos throws Styles onto them for the huge crash as we take a break.
Back with Omos powering Riddle around and handing it off to Styles for two off a suplex. Morrison comes back in to crank on the neck but Riddle flips out of Styles’ suplex and brings in Erik. The strike off goes to Erik and he crushes Styles in the corner. Ivar comes in for a running corner dropkick to Morrison but misses a good looking moonsault. Starship Pain misses but Riddle steals Miz’s Drip Stick and sprays Omos, leaving said stick with Miz. Morrison goes to save his buddy but Omos throws him back inside. AJ goes to deal with things and the Viking Experience finishes Morrison at 12:07.
Rating: C. I can go for a pretty good six man tag and that is what we got here. They took a feud and two others and put them together to give us some fresh combinations, which is often a smart idea. Distracting Omos made sense as there was no other way around him, so at least they did things the right way here.
The very intense Jaxson Ryker is ready to do something else to Elias, because feuds just kind of keep going until they stop around here.
Elias vs. Jaxson Ryker
Symphony of Destruction (music theme and falls count anywhere), with Ryker promising to silence Elias before the match. There are instruments around the ring and Ryker hits him in the back with a keyboard. Elias is back with a guitar and a jumping knee to the face for two but gets sent through the gong. Ryker hits him with the guitar and we take a break.
Back with them fighting on the apron until Elias sends him into the post. Ryker drops him onto a piano for two as this just keeps going. Then Elias drops Ryker onto the piano for two of his own. Elias breaks the cello over Ryker’s back for two more and they finally get back inside. That doesn’t last long as Ryker superplexes him through two tables at ringside for the pin at 12:45.
Rating: D. This was WAY longer than it needed to be, which is to say it was about 12:45 too long. The feud was over with the strap match a few weeks ago but they did this so they could have something else added on to the show. The ending bump was good and that’s about the extent of the positives here. Now let them be done already.
Mansoor has gotten himself and Mustafa Ali a tag match next week, which does not please Ali. Mansoor talks about how he has seen that Ali was right so Ali tells him not to screw it up. Sheamus comes in to complain about his match against Humberto Carrillo tonight but has to do it anyway.
Here is Charlotte for her big celebration of winning the title again. Rhea Ripley can rip off as many of Charlotte’s moves as she wants, but Charlotte won the title anyway. After explaining that Becky Lynch isn’t here because she’s at home taking care of her baby, Charlotte brags about all of the congratulations that she has received and talks about how she has won eleven women’s titles (at least they’re keeping it at main roster singles titles this time). She can beat Rhea Ripley any time so here is Rhea to say she wants the rematch tonight.
Charlotte says no, so Adam Pearce and Sonya Deville come out to make the match for tonight anyway. Charlotte kicks out Rhea’s knee and leaves. Somehow, this took nearly ten minutes instead of “due to her actions in the title match, Charlotte will be defending against Ripley in a rematch, per orders from Pearce and Deville” taking fifteen seconds to start the show.
Video on the Money in the Bank ladder matches.
Nia Jax/Shayna Baszler vs. Tamina/Natalya
Non-title and they’re actively torpedoing the show at this point. Joined in progress with Natalya knocking Baszler outside, where Jax hits a Samoan drop into the barricade. Back in and some double teaming has Natalya down, setting up the stomp to the arm. Jax goes shoulder first into the post though and Natalya’s discus lariat gets two. It’s off to Tamina, who gets caught on top. Reginald’s distraction gets Natalya’s attention so Baszler kicks her down, leaving Tamina to hit the superkick for the pin at 3:45.
Rating: D. Just in case you didn’t get the idea the first dozen or so times. The match was short and bad, but at least Tamina got to pin Baszler. I would like to believe that Nox and Shotzi will take the Tag Team Titles, but it isn’t like there is any reason to believe that will be the case. Another bad match, as Raw continues its downward spiral.
Post match it’s another argument, but this time Jax headbutts Reginald down and leaves with Shayna. Cue the 24/7 goons with Akira Tozawa running into the ring….where Reginald takes him down and hits a running flipping seated senton to win the title. Reginald Parkours his way out. If he has to be on TV, this is about as good as it’s getting with Reginald.
Sheamus vs. Humberto Carrillo
Non-title. Sheamus pounds him down to start but Carrillo gets up top for a high crossbody. That doesn’t work either, as Sheamus takes him outside and poses to send us to a break. Back with Sheamus hitting the forearms to the chest but Carrillo bites him. A bunch of kicks is capped off by a jumping kick to the face but Sheamus goes up top.
After grabbing his hand, Sheamus is pulled down with a super hurricanrana. A missile dropkick gives Carrillo two but he punches Sheamus in the STEEL mask. After that brilliant move, Sheamus Brogue kicks him for the pin at 10:13. Note that Sheamus is still favoring his hand, which might not be good.
Rating: C-. Somehow, this was the best thing on the show for the last hour plus. I was nearly stunned when this was non-title and then Carrillo just lost anyway. It wasn’t great, but Priest vs. Sheamus down the line sounds good enough for me. Sheamus is a talented guy and it would be nice to see him getting the chance to have a hoss fight with someone who can hang in there with him.
Here are MVP and Bobby Lashley for an open challenge. MVP mocks the Dallas Cowboys (gah) and says that Kofi Kingston was right: Lashley had been getting soft because of the women and the champagne and the good life, but no more. Now no one is beating Lashley for the champion so tonight it is time for the ultimate champion to face some loser. Lashley says bring it on and…..it’s KEITH LEE.
Keith Lee vs. Bobby Lashley
Non-title, though Graves suggested it was a title match before the bell. The GOLDBERG chants start us off as they shove each other around to start. Lee powers him around but the Spirit Bomb is countered into a Downward Spiral. A running clothesline puts Lee on the floor but Lashley can’t lift him up for the ram into the post.
Instead Lee splashes him against the post but an MVP distraction lets Lashley knock Lee off the apron. The spear cuts Lee in half and Lashley hammers away back inside. The Hurt Lock is blocked though and Lashley gets flipped over. That’s fine with Lashley, who hits a spinebuster to take him down again. Another spear gives Lashley the pin at 5:53.
Rating: C-. So much for that, as this was little more than a squash for Lashley. Lee got in a few shots here and there but then he lost in less than six minutes. I’m not sure what he is going to do from here, but this is not exactly something that gives me hope for Lee’s future. Not the worst match, just rather disappointing.
Post match Lashley poses so here is the expected Goldberg return. Goldberg says he’s next and Lashley is ready but MVP holds them apart.
Post break, MVP says they aren’t acknowledging the return.
Here are Jinder Mahal, Veer and Shanky for a chat. Mahal, who is celebrating his birthday, is proud of what he did to Drew McIntyre last night because McIntyre embarrassed him last week with the fake sword. Then McIntyre destroyed Mahal’s motorcycle, but this isn’t about a motorcycle. Mahal wants McIntyre out here, so cue McIntyre from behind with a chair to clean house. Veer and Mahal bail, leaving Shanky to take an insane twenty chair shots to the back (with twice as many camera cuts because that’s how Raw works).
Karrion Kross video.
Karrion Kross vs. Jeff Hardy
Non-title (a theme tonight) and no Scarlett with Kross, because why keep what is working with Kross in NXT? At least Hardy has No More Words back for his theme music, which is quite the plus. Kross starts fast but gets sent into the post. It’s way too early for the Swanton but the big forearm is cut off. They go into the corner with Hardy grabbing a rollup and putting his feet on the ropes for the pin at 1:40. My jaw dropped on that one and I’m not even going to pretend to understand this.
Post match Kross promises that Hardy made a mistake and will fall and pray.
It’s time for Alexa’s Playground and LILLY IS BACK. Eva Marie and Doudrop come in, with Eva threatening to have Doudrop beat Lilly up. Bliss wouldn’t recommend that but Eva leaves, only to trip over Doudrop’s foot. Bliss thinks Lilly did it.
Women’s Title: Rhea Ripley vs. Charlotte
Charlotte is defending and gets faceplanted to start. A whip into the corner has Charlotte shaken up again but she comes back with right hands to the face. Ripley shrugs them off and snaps off a German suplex, setting up a running basement dropkick for two. They head outside with Charlotte hitting a chop block to the bad knee, sending us to a break. Back with Charlotte taking the knee out again and crushing it on the mat.
Ripley manages a northern lights suplex but Charlotte boots her in the face. The moonsault hits raised knees though and Ripley grabs her own Figure Four. Charlotte turns that over for the break but Ripley hits a superkick into the Riptide for two as Charlotte gets a foot on the rope. That’s enough for Charlotte, who tries to walk out, only to hit Ripley in the face with the title for the DQ at 12:24.
Rating: C. I was watching this match and wondering if putting the title back on Ripley here would make up for last night, but then the ending was hardly the biggest surprise. WWE does not seem interesting in having Ripley be a big prop for Charlotte and little more. But hey, at least Ripley “beat” her here, right?
Post match Ripley jumps Charlotte again and lays her out….and we have a cash-in!
Women’s Title: Nikki Ash vs. Charlotte
Nikki is challenging and a high crossbody gives her the title in 10 seconds.
Nikki celebrates in the crowd to end the show.
Overall Rating: D-. I’m being as generous as I can with that because getting rid of a briefcase makes up for a few of the problems this show had. The thing is this show had A LOT of problems, with one bad idea after another. There were some good parts, such as the Cena promo (and that pop), the six man tag, about thirty seconds of excitement over Lee’s return, and the briefcase being cashed in for the title change. That stuff was pretty good.
Then it’s everything else, and that’s where the problems come in. You have things like Elias vs. Ryker going for nearly thirteen minutes, Natalya and Tamina continuing their roll, Sheamus vs. Carrillo (which might have been a highlight with some better structuring), the return of Lilly, whatever Kross’ debut was, Ripley being tossed aside (seemingly to set up Bliss vs. Nikki), Goldberg getting ANOTHER World Title shot (because he needs them on the second and third biggest pay per views of the year) and the explosion of 3MB, because that’s what people are begging to watch.
Last week, I heard someone say WWE fights with its fans on Raw and that is a perfect description. This show doesn’t feel like it’s about what the fans want to see, but rather whatever WWE has decided is going to work. If you like it, that’s fine, but if you don’t, get over it because that is what you are getting anyway.
See Mahal for example. He didn’t work as WWE Champion and he didn’t work as US Champion. Then he goes away for the better part of two years (not his fault of course) and comes back as….pretty much exactly the same guy, but with bigger lackeys. There’s no development, there is no evolution and there is no change. WWE has just decided that you are getting Mahal as a guy on the show and if you don’t like it, too bad.
This show was the one they had months to prepare for and set up something for the fans to care about but instead of something good, we got a lot of the same old WWE tropes (Goldberg returned for the second time this year for a World Title shot) and a few bonuses thrown in to try and take away some of the pain. I was sitting here watching this show with my mouth hanging open more than once, wondering how this is the best that WWE can do. Smackdown was pretty good and Money in the Bank was great, proving once again that this is a Raw problem, not a WWE problem. As I’ve said many times: fix it already, but it isn’t happening.
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