Monday Night Raw – March 22, 2021

Monday Night Raw
Date: March 22, 2021
Location: Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Florida
Commentators: Byron Saxton, Samoa Joe, Tom Phillips

We’re finally past what wound up being a pretty good Fastlane show and that means we are on the final stretch of the Road To Wrestlemania. Now this year that means with a grand total of nineteen days to go before the show because WWE loves to cram in extra content. Let’s get to it.

Sheamus vs. Bobby Lashley

Non-title and the rest of the Hurt Business is at ringside. They go to the mat to start with Sheamus actually getting the better of a front facelock. You can see the welts all over Sheamus’ back as Lashley fights up and takes him down with a swinging neckbreaker. The chinlock goes on for a bit but Sheamus fights up, only to get pummeled in the head. Sheamus is sent outside for a cheap shot from Shelton Benjamin and we take a break.

Back with Sheamus avoiding a charge to send Lashley into the post and some running ax handles to the face put him down again. Lashley gets knocked outside and Sheamus hits the top rope clothesline. Back in and a knee to the face gives Sheamus two but Lashley hits the spinebuster. The Hurt Lock makes Sheamus tap at 11:37.

Rating: B-. Raw has been bringing the hoss fights lately and that is not a bad thing. This was another example of two power guys doing power moves to each other and it worked out rather well. Lashley getting a more decisive win over Sheamus, though only after having to work for it, was a good way to go. Sheamus will be fine in whatever he does too.

Post match the Hurt Business gets on Sheamus but Drew McIntyre runs out for the save. Lashley is ready to go but MVP holds him back, shouting to SAVE IT FOR MANIA. McIntyre puts his hands behind his back to let Lashley have a free shot but MVP talks him down.

Post break, Lashley yells at Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin for getting involved in his match. MVP says that made it look like Lashley can’t win on his own. It was an embarrassment, like when they lost the Tag Team Titles last week. They need to think about what they did.

Long recap of the now burned up Fiend returning last night.

Asuka vs. Peyton Royce

Non-title and this is the result of Royce venting on Raw Talk. Asuka goes for the arm to start but Royce reverses into a bridging leglock. That’s broken up with a kick to the ribs and Royce is sent to the apron for the spinning backfist. Royce avoids a running hip attack and hits a spinning kick to the back as we take a break.

Back with Asuka kicking her down again but getting caught in a Gory Stretch, with Royce dropping to her knees for two. A Codebreaker gives Asuka her own two but Royce shoves her off the top. Royce’s top rope double stomp to the back gets two but Asuka pulls her into the Asuka Lock for the tap at 11:12.

Rating: C+. Royce looked good here and there are far worse ideas than turning her into a more serious challenger. Asuka has cleared out the division and there is little reason to not give someone new a chance. I know Rhea Ripley is going to be sent to the top of the card but Royce as a potential future star could work rather well.

Post match here’s the debuting Rhea Ripley, instantly looking like a total star. Ripley wastes no time and challenges Asuka for the title at Wrestlemania. Asuka yells in Japanese but then says that Ripley is not ready for Asuka, meaning the match is on.

Adam Pearce comes up to Drew McIntyre in the back, where McIntyre asks him for a match with the Hurt Business later tonight. Pearce doesn’t like the idea but Drew talks him into it, with a catch: if he wins tonight, those two are banned from ringside at Wrestlemania. Deal.

Post break, the match is official.

It’s time for MizTV with Miz and John Morrison bragging about Miz being a two time Grand Slam Champion. They’re big stars but you don’t see the two of them on the Wrestlemania poster. No instead you see Bad Bunny, who has been around for a cup of coffee. We look at Miz attacking Bad Bunny with his guitar last week, which Morrison calls a smash hit.

They are ready to get rid of Bunny for good and that’s why next week, we will be seeing the debut of their new music video: Hey Hey Hop Hop. We get a preview, which includes the two of them in bunny suits hopping around on the Raw stage. That isn’t all though, because Miz is challenging him to a match at Wrestlemania so he can end his career for good. If Bunny wants a preview, watch what Miz is going to do to Jeff Hardy right now.

Miz vs. Jeff Hardy

Before the match, Hardy says if Miz is a real man, he’ll send Morrison to the back right now. That works for Miz and we’re ready to go. Hardy starts fast and sends Miz into the ropes, only to get hit in the face for his efforts. Miz’s running boot to the head gets two and we hit the chinlock. Hardy breaks that up in a hurry and clotheslines him down to set up the running splash for two. A middle rope splash gets the same but Miz sends him shoulder first into the post. The Skull Crushing Finale is good for the pin at 4:20.

Rating: C. This was just a step above a Miz squash and that’s a good idea after Lashley destroyed him so thoroughly. Miz is going to be fine losing to Bunny at Wrestlemania because he can talk his way right back into whatever level he needs. The match was fine enough but it was more to serve a purpose than anything else and that worked out well.

Post match Miz poses but here is Bad Bunny to break a guitar over his back. Bunny accepts the challenge for Wrestlemania.

Riddle, on his scooter, rides past AJ Styles and Omos and calls AJ skipper.

Here are AJ Styles and Omos to say that they are going to win the Tag Team Titles at Wrestlemania. Cue New Day to say they seem to think that is funny, with Woods making jokes about Omos being AJ overcompensating for some size issues. We get into something close to the Newlywed Game, with AJ not knowing Omos’ favorite color (mauve), favorite ice cream (peanut butter caramel) or favorite wrestler of all time (Andre). Styles shrugs it off and does his own version of the New Day dance, which has New Day rather annoyed.

Eric Bischoff is going into the Hall of Fame.

AJ Styles vs. Kofi Kingston

Omos and Xavier Woods are at ringside. Kofi grabs a headlock to start but AJ breaks it up without much effort. A leapfrog works for Kofi but AJ knocks him to the apron. AJ barely hangs on when he has to bail out on a dive and Kofi trips him to the apron. Back in and a monkey flip gives Kofi two but AJ sends him outside for a whip into the steps. Woods goes to intervene but gets stared down by Omos as we take a break.

We come back with Kofi hitting a shot to the face and the Boom Drop but Trouble In Paradise is broken up with an enziguri. Kofi catches him on top and loads up SOS, which is reversed into the Calf Crusher. That means a long crawl for the rope break so AJ goes up, only to have Woods play some trombone. The delay lets Kofi counter the Phenomenal Forearm into the SOS for the pin at 13:56.

Rating: C+. Like this could be bad no matter what they did. The loss might seem a little odd but all that matters about the match is Omos being a monster and that seems like it could work fine. Hopefully this winds up working out as there are talented people to make a match work around him, and two of those three were doing their thing here.

Sheamus isn’t happy with Drew McIntyre getting involved in his match when no one asked him to. Cue Riddle, on his scooter, to ask if the Loch Ness Monster is real, if Drew has ever been to Sheamus’ house in Ireland, if leprechauns are real and what Sheamus would ask for if he had a wish. They talk about the scooter, which Sheamus drives into Riddle’s ribs. Riddle, while holding his ribs and trying to breathe: “Was it something I said bro?”

Drew McIntyre vs. Hurt Business

If Drew wins, Shelton and Cedric are banned from ringside at Wrestlemania. Drew throws Shelton around to start and hits an early suplex, followed by a heck of a backdrop to Alexander. We settle down to Drew stomping on Shelton’s hand but Alexander pulls Shelton to the floor to avoid the threat of the Claymore. McIntyre posts Shelton instead but a distraction lets Shelton knee him out to the floor.

Alexander hits a big flip dive and sends McIntyre into the barricade. We take a break and come back with McIntyre still in trouble with Shelton grabbing a chinlock. McIntyre fights up for the Dragon Whip, earning himself a Glasgow Kiss. Back up and McIntyre starts cleaning house, including the Claymore to both of them to finish Alexander at 13:06.

Rating: C. This was only there for the sake of giving Drew some more momentum on the way to Wrestlemania. Drew getting rid of the rest of the team works fine as they only need to have Lashley vs. McIntyre with MVP involved too. Not a bad match or anything, but the wrestling wasn’t the point here.

Post break, MVP yells at the team and Lashley says he is going to find someone who can get this done. Lashley goes up to the usual gang of losers and says anyone who takes McIntyre out before Wrestlemania will get a shot. MVP seems fine with this.

Dana Brooke/Mandy Rose vs. Nia Jax/Shayna Baszler

Non-title with Naomi and Lana on commentary and Reginald (with Jax and Baszler) backflips down the ramp. Before the match, we see Nia Jax taking Reginald on a shopping spree a few weeks ago. Baszler takes Brooke with ease to start but Brooke fights back up and goes after Jax on the apron.

Mandy breaks up the Kirifuda Clutch so it’s off to Jax to run Brooke over. Mandy goes after Reginald and throws him in the ring for a flip display. The hot tag brings in Mandy for some knees to the face for two but Reginald gets on the apron for a distraction. Baszler runs Mandy over on the floor and Jax Samoan drops Brooke for the pin at 2:45.

Post match Jax and Reginald celebrate with Baszler having to come in between them.

Alexa Bliss wants Randy Orton gone but she’s still here and He is back. You can’t always get what you want. Let Me In (in Fiend’s voice coming out of her mouth).

We recap the Shane McMahon injury from last night.

Shane is in the ring with Elias and Jaxson Ryker for this week’s concert. The song is about how stupid Braun Strowman is and Shane even joins in on the chorus. Cue Strowman with promises of violence.

Braun Strowman vs. Elias

Strowman powers him around to start, glares at Shane, and knocks Elias out to the floor in a hurry. Back in and Elias nails a jumping knee to knock Strowman into the corner. Strowman is right back up with a running dropkick to knock Elias silly and a right hand puts Ryker down. They head outside with Strowman doing his running shoulders around the ring, now with loud train sound effects included. Thankfully they go straight to the finish with Strowman finishing with the running powerslam at 3:07.

Rating: D. This story was bad in the first place and then it got even worse with the sound effects. Are we supposed to believe that Strowman told someone to do that? Or that someone thought it would be a good idea? Throw in that it is to keep Strowman vs. Shane going to Wrestlemania and this was just annoying all around.

Post match Shane hits Strowman with a crutch to no avail so Shane sprints up the ramp to escape. Strowman challenges him for Wrestlemania and Shane accepts, for any match Strowman wants. Oh that’s going to be stupid. You can pick which one I mean by that.

Wrestlemania rundown, including the nights some matches will take place:

Saturday – Drew McIntyre vs. Bobby Lashley, Sasha Banks vs. Bianca Belair, Bad Bunny vs. The Miz

Sunday – Roman Reigns vs. Edge, Asuka vs. Rhea Ripley

Here is Randy Orton, with a bag, to summon the Fiend. Orton talks about watching the Fiend burn alive but last night was some kind of an abomination. Tonight, he is getting rid of Alexa Bliss and the Fiend once and for all. Cue Bliss, with a Jack in the box, which reveals something close to the Fiend inside.

Cue the real Fiend, so Orton opens the bag and pulls out a can of gasoline. Orton throws it on him and pulls out a match but goes with the RKO instead of burning Fiend up. Alexa gets in for a distraction so Orton stares at her as Fiend stands up. The Mandible Claw sets up Sister Abigail to knock Randy silly and Fiend points at the Wrestlemania sign. Fire goes off around the sign and I’m almost scared of what is coming there. The match is confirmed to end the show.

Overall Rating: C+. Your taste is probably going to vary pretty hard on this one, but the point of this show was building up Wrestlemania in a hurry. We came in with four matches and left with eight, so I think it’s safe to say that they got things built up rather quickly. Now on the flip side, what we got is not exactly the most thrilling stuff and that is a big problem for this Wrestlemania. There are matches set up, but nothing on the show feels all that interesting. I’m not exactly looking forward to the show, but I’ll take what I can get in the way of a rapid fire build. Throw in some good wrestling and this was a rather easy three hours.

Results

Bobby Lashley b. Sheamus – Hurt Lock

Asuka b. Peyton Royce – Asuka Lock

Miz b. Jeff Hardy – Skull Crushing Finale

Kofi Kingston b. AJ Styles – SOS

Drew McIntyre b. Hurt Business – Claymore to Alexander

Nia Jax/Shayna Baszler b. Mandy Rose/Dana Brooke – Samoan drop to Brooke

Braun Strowman b. Elias – Running powerslam

 

 

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