Monday Night Raw – March 1, 2021

Monday Night Raw
Date: March 1, 2021
Location: Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Florida
Commentators: Byron Saxton, Samoa Joe, Tom Phillips

It’s a title night as we have the Miz’s first WWE Title defense against Bobby Lashley. This is an interesting one as it is hard to imagine Miz walking into Wrestlemania as champion, but at the same time they’re almost telegraphing the title change too hard. Drew McIntyre is back tonight too and that is likely to be a factor. Let’s get to it.

We open with a long recap of the setup of the title match.

Here’s Drew McIntyre to open things up. It has been a rough month for him and we’ll start with his issues with Sheamus. They were friends for twenty years until Sheamus turned on him, though Drew is still not sure why. Then two weeks ago at Elimination Chamber (it wasn’t two weeks ago), Drew defended his title inside the Chamber but got attacked by Bobby Lashley. That let the Miz cash in Money in the Bank, because THE FREAKING MIZ is WWE Champion. It’s cool though, because his mission is clear: get the title back and main event Wrestlemania. He didn’t come that far to lose here so get out here Sheamus, because you’re the first step.

Cue the Miz and John Morrison, with Miz demanding his big, special introduction, complete with pyro. Miz brags about winning Money in the Bank and saying it was a matter of time before he became WWE Champion. McIntyre agrees and wants a hug but Miz turns him down, knowing that McIntyre isn’t happy with this. The only person McIntyre can blame is….Bobby Lashley!

McIntyre isn’t buying it so Miz says that he himself is the real victim. He has a wife and two daughters and Lashley threatened him at Elimination Chamber. Miz had no choice but to make that deal and now Lashley has a title shot instead of McIntyre. So maybe Miz and McIntyre should join forces as the 3MBIGOS!

Cue MVP, now on a cane, to interrupt to ask if this is the beginning of a new business arrangement or just desperation to keep Miz’s title. McIntyre says he didn’t fall for that but MVP says he is here for a reason: Miz vs. Lashley begins promptly at 9pm, so Miz has less than an hour. Miz isn’t happy but here’s Sheamus to face McIntyre, who wants to fight instead of talk. The brawl is on in the aisle with McIntyre knocking him over the barricade and we take a break before the match starts. I can go for this “we’re doing X at Y time” as it’s so, so nice to have some kind of a structure around here.

Sheamus vs. Drew McIntyre

It’s a brawl to start with McIntyre hammering away and elbowing him in the face. The referee has McIntyre back off and Sheamus knocks him down for a change, setting up a middle rope knee drop for two. McIntyre fights out of an armbar and stomps on the face before whipping Sheamus hard into the corner. Sheamus picks him up by the leg though and puts him down, only to get caught in the ropes for the ten forearms to the chest. You don’t rip off a signature move like that though so Sheamus puts him in the ropes for forearms to the chest and back.

The Brogue Kick puts McIntyre on the floor and we take a break. Back with Sheamus working on an armbar with a knee on McIntyre’s face. The Irish Curse gets two and we hit the reverse chinlock with a knee in McIntyre’s back. The comeback lets McIntyre get up and they fight to the floor, with Sheamus being suplexed onto the announcers’ table (Tom: “This is gnarly!”). McIntyre backdrops him onto the announcers’ table again and nails a top rope clothesline back inside.

Sheamus hits his own clothesline and goes up but McIntyre nips up. The Glasgow Kiss rocks Sheamus and a belly to belly superplex takes us to a break. Back with McIntyre hitting a spinebuster for two but getting kneed in the face for the same. White Noise gives Sheamus two more and he sends McIntyre face first into the buckle.

McIntyre is back up again though and it’s a super White Noise to plant Sheamus hard (with the referee immediately checking on him) for two. Sheamus is fine enough to catch him with an Alabama Slam out of the corner for his own two and they’re both down. It’s Sheamus up first so he loads up the Brogue Kick, only to have Drew Claymore him first for the pin at 23:05.

Rating: B+. These two beat the fire out of each other and it was all about two guys hitting each other really, really hard for a long time. You don’t see a Raw match get this time a lot of the time but they made it work really well. This was pay per view quality so seeing it on TV in a big time match made me smile a lot. I was worried they would have built this up for months and then not gone anywhere with it so well done on doing this here.

Post match we get the respectful staredown.

Nia Jax stares Naomi down in the back.

Naomi vs. Nia Jax

Lana and Shayna Baszler are here too. Nia runs her over to start and we’re already in the bearhug. With Naomi mostly done, the Samoan drop and powerbomb finish her off in a hurry at 2:20. Total and complete squash.

Rhea Ripley is coming.

Raw World Title: The Miz vs. Bobby Lashley

Lashley is challenging….but hang on because Miz has a rather bad stomach cramp and can’t see himself going to the ring right now. Adam Pearce doesn’t buy this but here’s Lashley to jump Miz. John Morrison: “SOMEBODY GET A TOWEL!” Lashley leaves him laying, but Pearce says Miz will defend the title at 10:00pm instead.

Here’s Braun Strowman for a chant before his match. He knows that Shane McMahon and Adam Pearce have a conspiracy against him. It started when he headbutted Pearce but then he wasn’t allowed in the Elimination Chamber, which sucked without him. Cue Shane and Pearce with Shane saying that he knows Braun is upset. This is all about conflict management though and the key is communication.

That’s why Strowman needs to know that it was Shane making this tag match tonight, because Pearce had nothing to do with it. Tonight, Strowman gets to team with WWE management, meaning Adam Pearce. They can do great things, and tonight they can win the Tag Team Titles! Strowman likes the idea but threatens Pearce with violence if he screws this up.

Tag Team Titles: Braun Strowman/Adam Pearce vs. Hurt Business

Strowman and Pearce are challenging and Strowman starts fast by cleaning house of the champs. Shelton Benjamin is crushed on the floor and Cedric Alexander is whipped hard into the corner. Strowman stands on Alexander’s chest and then sends him flying for a really big crash.

The running shoulder hits the post though (he’s really, really bad at that) and it’s Shelton coming in with a running knee to the face. Strowman fights off both champions without much effort though and there’s the running powerslam to Benjamin. Shane gets on the apron and demands Pearce get the tag (Pearce: “WHY??? IT’S OVER!”)…..so Shelton rolls Pearce up to retain at 3:14.

Rating: D+. This was one hundred percent an angle rather than a match and that’s ok. Pearce was only there to keep setting up Strowman vs. McMahon at Wrestlemania, which is not exactly the kind of match that is going to draw much interest. I’m rather glad they didn’t change the titles here and while it didn’t make the champs look great, it could have been worse.

Strowman is livid and storms to the back.

Elias and Jaxson Ryker come up to Damien Priest and Bad Bunny with a musical proposal. A collaboration is proposed because the two of them could be bigger than the Beatles. Bunny smirks a bit, which has Elias excited, but Priest translates to “that’s a no”.

Here are Elias and Jaxson Ryker for some music before Elias’ match, but Elias is not pleased with his lack of a Grammy nomination. That’s like Tom Brady not getting an ESPY nomination! Elias is ready to perform but gets cut off as usual.

Elias vs. Damien Priest

Jaxson Ryker and Grammy nominee Bad Bunny are here too. Priest powers him into the corner to start and grabs an armbar. The standing and seated version have Elias in trouble for a bit, followed by a spinwheel kick to make it worse. Elias bails to the floor to yell at Bunny and we take a break.

Back with Priest working on another armbar but Elias manages to send him throat first into the rope to escape. A running boot in the corner rocks Priest again and a running clothesline gives Elias two. Elias gets in a cheap shot from the floor and the chinlock goes on. Priest fights up again and strikes away, setting up the Broken Arrow for two of his own.

A rollup gives Priest two more but he gets kicked to the ropes, only to dive into a jumping knee to the face. Drift Away is countered but Elias fires off some forearms to the back. Priest doesn’t seem to mind as he kicks Elias in the head and Hit The Lights finishes for Priest at 15:20.

Rating: C-. This was far longer than it needed to be but Priest overcoming some cheating and winning in the end is all that matters. Priest is someone with a lot of potential and it seems that WWE is actually going with that for a change. Bad Bunny is the star for now, but Priest is the star for later and it is nice to see WWE doing something with that.

We look at the opening video on Miz vs. Lashley again and the first attempt at the match.

Randy Orton isn’t sure what is going on with the Fiend but knows Alexa Bliss is playing a part in it. After looking at what Bliss has been doing lately and talking about the Fiend returning, Bliss interrupts the interview and talks to a Jack-In-The Box about bringing the Fiend back. Before that though, there is something Orton should know. The screen goes nuts and a man in a hood comes up. That’s Orton, who talks to Randy (yes that’s right) and says this doesn’t end on his terms. Soon, Randy will come face to face with everything he has ever done. The real Orton starts coughing and the evil one stares at him. And moving on.

Raw World Title: The Miz vs. Bobby Lashley

Miz, with John Morrison, is defending and actually comes into the arena this time. Before the bell, Miz tries to talk Lashley into waiting for Wrestlemania but that isn’t happening. The bell rings, Miz drops to the floor, grabs the title and sprints to the back for the countout at 29 seconds. Well at least they didn’t waste time.

Post break Shane McMahon tells MVP and Lashley that there will be a title match tonight. MVP: “THIS IS BULL****!” If Miz tries something else, Shane will consider stripping Miz of the title.

Here’s Charlotte for a chat before her match (because everyone has something to say this week). She came back to be Asuka’s partner and didn’t want to be in the Raw Women’s Title picture. Asuka has worked so hard to be champion for the last six months, but Bianca Belair chose to face Sasha Banks at Wrestlemania. That leaves Asuka alone, so Charlotte wants the title shot. Asuka isn’t here though because Shayna Baszler kicked her tooth out last week. She knows Asuka will be back but here are Baszler and Nia Jax to interrupt.

Baszler laughs off the idea of hurting Asuka and Nia says no one likes Charlotte. She needs to understand that they are the real power around here. Charlotte knows everyone wants her gone but people don’t have to call her the best of all time. Instead, they just call her Charlotte.

Shayna Baszler vs. Charlotte

Charlotte starts swinging before the bell but Nia jumps her from behind. We take a break and come back joined in progress with Baszler hammering away in the corner. Charlotte comes back with the fall away slam and some chops but the Figure Four is broken up with a kick to the floor. Jax’s charge hits the steps and Charlotte counters the Kirifuda Clutch. Natural Selection finishes Baszler at 2:55.

So Charlotte got jumped before the match, shrugged it off, got rid of Jax, countered Baszler’s finisher and won clean in about seven minutes max (assuming the bell rang as soon as they went to a break) to survive the Tag Team Champions on her own. Yeah, it must be Wrestlemania season if Charlotte has the Supergirl cape on again. Oh and this is the second time these two have ever had a singles match (with the first ending in 56 seconds when Nia interfered). What a great way to have a dream match go down for the first time.

Shane McMahon confirms that Miz either has to fight or Lashley is the new champion.

Riddle/Lucha House Party vs. Retribution

T-Bar starts fast with a chokebreaker for two on Riddle ten seconds in. Mace comes in with Mass Effect for two, followed by another backbreaker from T-Bar for two. Riddle gets up and makes the hot tag off to Dorado to pick up the pace, setting up a very fast tag to Metalik. An elbow off of Dorado’s shoulders finishes T-Bar at 2:05 in another fast match.

Post match Mustafa Ali yells at Retribution and at Riddle, which means we’re not done yet.

Riddle vs. Mustafa Ali

Non-title and Ali starts fast by working on Riddle’s arm. A dropkick to the arm and a running neckbreaker gets two. It’s back to the arm with a Fujiwara armbar as we get another countdown to Lashley vs. Miz, telling you that this match isn’t lasting long. Riddle pulls him into a choke but gets reversed into a cradle for two. Back up and Riddle kicks him in the head, setting up the running forearms in the corner. The Broton gets two more on Ali but Slapjack gets on the apron for a distraction. Mace does the same and Ali hits kind of a reverse super X Factor for the pin at 3:17.

Rating: C-. Well I’ll give them credit: they waited a full eight days before having the new champion take a pin. At least it wasn’t clean and Ali might be able to get a bit of a boost out of this, but I have no reason to believe Retribution is going anywhere out of this. Hopefully Riddle can rebound soon, because he needs to rebound eight days after becoming US Champion.

Miz comes in to see Shane McMahon and complain about what is happening. He wants to know what kind of match it is going to be, but Shane isn’t sure yet. That sends Miz further over the edge as he talks about everything he can do for the company, only to get this treatment. Shane says good luck, champ.

Raw World Title: The Miz vs. Bobby Lashley

Miz is defending and here’s Shane McMahon to make it a lumberjack match. The bell rings and Miz tries a belt shot but Lashley pulls it away. With Lashley looking ready to end him, Miz heads to the apron, only to come back in for a shot to the face. That sends Miz bailing to the floor and tries to bribe the lumberjacks but gets tossed back in.

Lashley blasts him with a clothesline and hits the shoulders in the corner before throwing Miz outside again. Retribution won’t help him but the Hurt Business will throw him back inside. A Downward Spiral sets up right hands to Miz’s head and Lashley presses him to the floor. Retribution throws him back in this time and there’s the spinebuster. The Hurt Lock makes Lashley champion at 3:04.

Rating: D. They didn’t have a choice here as it was either going to be here or at Fastlane. Lashley has been ready to be WWE Champion for the better part of twenty years now so finally giving him the title was the right call. You should know where this is going for Fastlane and Wrestlemania, but maybe now the freaking out over Miz winning the title can end.

Post match Lashley beats him down again and celebrates to end the show.

Overall Rating: C-. The opener was good and the title change was important, but that more or less ends the positives on the show. It was a bad night for champions (four losses in the last five matches) and some of the things the show did made me glare at the screen for longer than I should have needed to. This show was kind of a mess, but they got the important parts right. Now if only they could get the other stuff right too, they might be somewhere.

Results

Drew McIntyre b. Sheamus – Claymore

Nia Jax b. Naomi – Powerbomb

Hurt Business b. Adam Pearce/Braun Strowman – Small package to Pearce

Damien Priest b. Elias – Hit The Lights

Bobby Lashley b. The Miz via countout

Charlotte b. Shayna Baszler – Natural Selection

Riddle/Lucha House Party b. Retribution – Elbow drop to T-Bar

Mustafa Ali b. Riddle – Super head slam to the mat

Bobby Lashley b. The Miz – Hurt Lock

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