By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw (Episode 1,449)
Live from Tampa, Florida at Tropicana Field
Aired March 1, 2021 on USA Network
[Hour One] Raw opened with a recap of last week’s segments involving Bobby Lashley and The Miz, and Lashley beating Braun Strowman in the main event…
The broadcast team was Tom Phillips, Byron Saxton, and Samoa Joe, and Mike Rome was the ring announcer… The broadcast team hyped the WWE Championship match and announced Drew McIntyre vs. Sheamus…
Drew McIntyre made his entrance. Once in the ring, he said it’s been a bitch of a month. He said it started with Sheamus stabbing him in the back. He said he didn’t understand why, but he suggested fans watch their match because they would beat the hell out of each other and have an absolute war.
McIntyre recalled winning the Elimination Chamber match and then being attacked by Bobby Lashley, which was followed by The Miz cashing in his Money in the Bank contract to win the WWE Championship. “That’s right, everybody, the flipping Miz is the WWE Champion,” McIntyre said.
McIntyre looked at the WrestleMania sign. He said he has a clear vision of what’s going to happen. He said he would regain his WWE Championship and main event WrestleMania. He said he won the title at the WWE Performance Center and then defended it week in and week out. He said the winner of Miz vs. Lashley has the biggest target on their back. McIntyre shifted his focus to Sheamus.
The Miz’s entrance music interrupted McIntyre. Miz and John Morrison walked out dressed in suits. Miz made Rome give him a proper introduction as the WWE Champion. Pyro shot off around the stage while Miz held up the title belt. Miz said that was more like it.
Miz told McIntyre that he’s handled his business with class and dignity “which a former WWE Champion should.” McIntyre invited Miz to enter the ring to give him a big hug. Miz said he knows he’s not high on McIntyre’s list. Miz said he had to make the deal with Lashley, and now Lashley has a title match.
The Miz questioned why someone like Lashley should get the first title shot rather than someone more deserving such as McIntyre. Miz suggested they work together and become Miz, Morrison, and McIntyre. Morrison said they could be called The Three M-Migos.
MVP walked onto the stage using a cane and addressed Miz and Morrison, who were at ringside while McIntyre was in the ring. McIntyre recalled telling MVP that he didn’t want or need his services. MVP said Lashley would become WWE Champion and there’s nothing Miz could do to change that. MVP informed Miz that his title match would begin at 9ET/8CT.
MVP headed to the back. The Miz told McIntyre that Lashley is a menace. He tried to sell McIntyre on the idea of the two of them meeting at WrestleMania. Sheamus came out and said McIntyre doesn’t care about anybody but himself. McIntyre left the ring and brawled with Sheamus at ringside. Five referees ran out and tried to separate them. McIntyre clotheslined Sheamus over the barricade and then entered the ring. Sheamus returned to ringside while Phillips hyped their match for after the break… [C]
Powell’s POV: A strong opening segment. McIntyre showed the right mix of frustration and fire, Miz tried to weasel his way out of the title match, MVP established that it would happen and set the time for the top of the hour, and they gave us a taste of McIntyre vs. Sheamus heading into the break. I’m surprised they are going with McIntyre vs. Sheamus without advertising it in advance, but I guess we’ll see whether they deliver a match or if it’s more of an angle.
A countdown clock appeared on the screen for the WWE Championship match.
1. Drew McIntyre vs. Sheamus. Both men went at one another before the bell. The referee separated them for a second and then the match officially started. Sheamus clotheslined McIntyre and then went to the middle rope and dropped a knee on him. Sheamus covered McIntyre for just a one count.
McIntyre rallied and delivered clubbing forearms in a reversal of Sheamus’s own moveset. Sheamus tossed McIntyre to the floor. McIntyre climbed onto the apron and was greeted with a kick. Sheamus hit McIntyre with a few of kidney shots. McIntyre threw elbows at Sheamus and tried to return to the ring. Sheamus kicked McIntyre, then ran the ropes and knocked McIntyre back to ringside with a Brogue Kick. [C]
Sheamus worked over McIntyre inside the ring coming out of the break. Sheamus performed the Irish Curse backbreaker and then covered McIntyre for a two count. Sheamus fish-hooked McIntyre for a moment. A graphic listed Charlotte Flair vs. Shayna Baszler for later in the show.
McIntyre and Sheamus delivered hard slaps. Sheamus kicked McIntyre and whipped him into the corner, but McIntyre responded with a pair of clotheslines and a suplex. McIntyre clotheslined Sheamus over the top rope to the floor. McIntyre tried to follow, but Sheamus tripped him on the apron.
McIntyre ran Sheamus into the ring post and then suplexed him onto the edge of the broadcast table. Ouch. McIntyre picked up Sheamus and slammed him onto the broadcast table, then rolled him back inside the ring. McIntyre went up top and then performed a clothesline that led to a two count.
McIntyre set up for a Future Shock DDT, but Sheamus avoided it and knocked McIntyre down with a clothesline. Sheamus went to the ropes, but McIntyre kipped up and blasted him with a Glasgow Kiss headbutt. McIntyre joined Sheamus on the ropes and suplexed him, then draped his arm over him and got a two count. [C]
McIntyre put Sheamus down with a spinebuster and rolled him into a pin for a two count. Sheamus came right back with a knee to the head and a two count of his own. Sheamus performed a White Noise backbreaker for a near fall. Sheamus set up for a Cloverleaf, but McIntyre rolled him into a pin for a two count.
McIntyre performed a Future Shock DDT for a near fall. Sheamus came back and pulled McIntyre onto the ropes with him where they fought for position. McIntyre put Sheamus on his back and performed his own version of White Noise from the ropes for a near fall.
Sheamus caught McIntyre with a kick and then performed an Alabama Slam for a two count. Sheamus went to the corner and set up for his finisher. Sheamus went for the Brogue Kick, but McIntyre beat him to it with a Claymore Kick and then scored the clean pin.
Drew McIntyre defeated Sheamus in 22:50.
Afterward, McIntyre looked down at Sheamus, who pulled himself up and looked at McIntyre…
Powell’s POV: That was a hell of a match. I have no idea why the company didn’t make a big fuss out of it in advance or why it wasn’t saved for pay-per-view, but it was the best Raw match in a long time. Both guys are going to be sore in the morning. Great stuff. And while I question why it wasn’t saved for pay-per-view, it’s not like I wouldn’t be excited to see a pay-per-view rematch at some point.
The countdown clock showed that there was just over 15 minutes until the WWE Championship match… Naomi was shown dancing backstage. Nia Jax showed up and got in her face while the broadcast team hyped their match for after the break… [C]
The countdown clock was shown and Phillips called it one of the most important nights in the history of the brand…
2. Nia Jax (w/Shayna Baszler) vs. Naomi (w/Lana). Both entrances were televised. Phillips hyped that Jax and Baszler will defend the NXT Tag Titles against Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez on Wednesday’s NXT television show. Jax put Naomi down with a Samoan Drop and then taunted Lana. Jax followed up with a one-armed slam and scored the pin.
Nia Jax beat Naomi in 2:20.
Afterward, Lana checked on Naomi. Jax and Baszler looked at her, but then left the ring without doing anything to her…
A closeup shot of Bobby Lashley’s face was shown. Phillips hyped the WWE Championship match as coming up next… [C]
Powell’s POV: I was surprised to see Jax dominate Naomi in what felt like a glorified squash match. I’m all for making Jax and Baszler badass monsters as tag team champions, but their pushes are so inconsistent that it wouldn’t shock me if Lana beats Jax clean next week. By the way, why aren’t Gonzalez and Kai called Gonz-Kai? Okay, so maybe only I would enjoy that.
A Rhea Ripley video package aired. She’s still listed as coming soon to Raw…
Bobby Lashley and MVP made their entrance for the WWE Championship match.
[Hour Two] After a brief delay, Miz’s entrance theme played, but he didn’t come out. MVP asked the referee what was up. The camera cut backstage where Miz was hunched over while John Morrison checked on him and Adam Pearce stood by. Miz claimed that he was cramping up.
Lashley watched the scene play out on the big screen and left the ring. Miz told Pearce that he just needed more time. Lashley showed up and grabbed Miz by the neck. Lashley told Miz that they would have a match and he would beat his ass for the title. Lashley shoved Miz to the ground. Morrison called for a towel. Pearce told Miz that he would defend the title in one hour even if he had to carry him to the ring…
Braun Strowman made his entrance. Phillips said Strowman would be in action after the break… [C]
Powell’s POV: I don’t mind the idea of delaying the WWE Championship match. It seemed strange that they were going to go with it at the top of this hour rather than using it as a hook to keep viewers watching. In other words, this was well played.
A new countdown clock graphic was shown for the WWE Championship match…
Braun Strowman stood in the ring and complained that Shane McMahon and Adam Pearce have something against him. He said the Elimination Chamber sucked without him. He spoke about having a tag team match and figured they were laughing at him. Shane and Pearce came out and apprehensively joined Strowman in the ring. Shane told him to relax.
Shane said they weren’t laughing at Strowman. Shane said Strowman’s inability to reach his own goals messed him up and left him angry. Shane said he helps a lot of people, including himself, which is why he’s taking MBA courses. He said one of those courses is conflict management.
Shane spoke about the subject matter being over Braun’s head, then backed down when Strowman started walking toward him. Shane told Strowman that Pearce didn’t book his match, he did. Shane said Strowman needed to learn how to work with WWE management, so he was forcing him to do so.
Shane informed Strowman that he would be teaming with Pearce since he’s the only member of management that he has conflict with. Strowman said that was fine. Pearce didn’t look thrilled. Shane said they would team up for a Raw Tag Title shot. Strowman said that if Pearce screwed up, he would “get these hands.” Strowman grabbed Pearce by the jacket… [C]
Powell’s POV: Strowman once won the tag titles with a child, so teaming with a former NWA Champion should be a nice upgrade for him. Anyway, Shane was definitely dickish with some of his comments, so I continue to assume that this is leading to Strowman vs. Shane at WrestleMania.
Shane, Strowman, and Pearce were still in the ring coming out of the break. Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin made their entrance for the match…
3. Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin vs. Braun Strowman and Adam Pearce (w/Shane McMahon) for the Raw Tag Titles. Pearce stood in the corner dressed in his regular clothes while Strowman dominated both tag champions to start the match. Strowman worked over Alexander and tossed him across the ring. “Wow” Pearce was shown saying.
Strowman charged Alexander, who moved, causing Strowman to go through the ropes and into the ring post. Benjamin tagged in and hit Strowman with a running knee. Strowman got up and fought off both champions again. Strowman performed a running power slam on Benjamin.
Shane climbed onto the apron and told Strowman to tag in Pearce, who seemed confused. Strowman complied and then Pearce entered the ring and covered Benjamin, who caught Pearce in an inside cradle for the win.
Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin beat Braun Strowman and Adam Pearce in 3:15 to retain the Raw Tag Titles.
After the match, Strowman told Shane that he would wreck the place and it will be on his hands. Strowman shook his head in disgust and headed to the back while Shane acted surprised and disappointed by the way the match played out…
Powell’s POV: Strowman’s character might actually be dumber than the R-Truth and Riddle characters.
Damian Priest and Bad Bunny were shown talking backstage when Elias and Jaxson Ryker showed up. Elias spoke about how their music changes people. Ryker said it inspire people. Elias suggested they drop a single together and turn the music industry upside down. Elias said he would have his people call Bunny’s people. Bunny spoke to Priest in Spanish, then Priest told Elias, “That’s a no”…
The countdown clock was shown while Phillips hyped the WWE Championship match for the top of the hour… [C]
Elias sat on a stool in the ring while Ryker stood next to him. Elias complained that his album was snubbed by the Grammy Awards. Elias did the “WWE stands for” bit. Ryker said it, but the piped in response was delayed. Bad Bunny walked out with the WWE 24/7 Title over his shoulder and received pyro, then Priest made his entrance…
4. Damian Priest (w/Bad Bunny) vs. Elias (w/Jaxson Ryker). The broadcast team gushed over Bunny’s success on Spotify. Priest clotheslined Elias over the top rope to the floor. Elias jawed at Bad Bunny heading into a break. [C]
With Priest’s head between the ropes, Elias pulled his arm to pull his head into the top rope. Elias went on the offensive and Ryker took a cheap shot at Priest while the referee was distracted. Priest eventually came back with punches, a series of kicks, and a clothesline.
Priest his his running elbow in the corner and followed up with the Broken Arrow for a near fall. Priest was distracted by Ryker and rolled up for a near fall. Priest rolled him over and got a two count. Elias blasted Priest coming off the ropes with a knee strike.
Elias hit Priest with several kidney punches, then put him in the electric chair position. Priest slipped out of it and threw a kick to the head, then hit his Hit The Lights finisher and scored the pin…
Damian Preist defeated Elias in 15:25.
Powell’s POV: This match really overstayed its welcome. Elias is a comedy heel and taking as long as it did to beat him didn’t do Priest any favors. Let me guess, Paul Levesque signed off on the Metallica song name as the new name for Priest’s finisher? I’m a Metallica fan, so I’m not complaining if that’s what inspired it.
The broadcast team set up a video package that told the story of the way they got to Miz vs. Lashley for the WWE Championship… The countdown clock showed at there there was just over five minutes until the scheduled start time for the match. Footage aired from earlier of Lashley tossing Miz to the ground in the earlier backstage segment…
The Miz was shown walking backstage with Morrison at his side. The clock showed that the match was just over four minutes away, and Phillips hyped that it was coming up next… [C]
Randy Orton was interviewed by Kayla Braxton in front of the backstage ring set. She asked him about the “increasingly bizarre events” that have happened with Alexa Bliss. Orton said he didn’t know what happened last week, but he knows that Bliss had a part to play. Braxton set up footage of Bliss appearing on all the virtual screens to distract him. Orton suggested that Bliss stay out of his business or there would be no compassion for what happens next.
[Hour Three] Bliss was shown on the screen laughing while sitting in the middle of a pentagram with a jack in the box toy. The screen went dark and a hooded figure walked into the picture. The hooded figure was Orton and he said that Randy would come face to face with everything he’s ever done. The screen Orton laughed, then the regular Orton started choking…
The Miz and Morrison made their entrance for the WWE Championship match. Bobby Lashley and MVP made their entrance. Lashley stood on the ropes and pyro shot off, then Mike Rome was about to deliver in-ring introductions for the title match, but Miz stopped him.
Miz said he’s a professional and so is MVP, so he wanted to talk business. Miz said Lashley has waited 17 years to be champion, but this isn’t the stage. Miz said he should do it on the biggest stage of them all at WrestleMania. MVP told Rome to make the announcement because they were having the match. Rome delivered the introductions.
5. The Miz (w/John Morrison) vs. Bobby Lashley (w/MVP) for the WWE Championship. The bell rang to start the match and Miz immediately left the ring. Miz grabbed his title belt and ran to the back. Lashley fumed while the referee counted out The Miz.
Bobby Lashley defeated The Miz by count-out in 0:27 in a WWE Championship match.
Lashley and MVP were upset afterward and headed up the ramp together heading into a break… [C]
Powell’s POV: Weak, but it does fit Miz’s character, and I guess we’ll see if there’s more to come tonight or if we’ll see footage of Miz and Morrison speeding away in a car coming out of the break. As bad as that “match” was, it was still better than the ongoing ridiculousness of the Orton and Bliss feud.
Backstage, Shane said what Miz did wasn’t happening on his watch. He said they would have a championship match tonight. MVP said it was bullshit. Shane said he would consider stripping Miz of the title and giving it to Lashley. Shane emphasized that he would consider it. Lashley said he would like it better if Shane found Miz so that he could beat the piss out of him…
Powell’s POV: Bad line. It came off like Lashley is more concerned with beating up Miz than winning the championship. I think the idea was that he wants to beat the piss out of him in the ring and win the title that way, but that really should have been emphasized.
Charlotte Flair made her entrance and delivered an in-ring promo. She said the last few weeks have been an emotional roller coaster. She said she came back from an injury and wanted to be Asuka’s tag partner. She said she didn’t want to be in the title picture because Asuka has busted her ass and she just wanted to be her partner.
Flair said she got caught up in the Lacey Evans drama, then told her father to go home last week and he went home. Flair said they were just six weeks away from WrestleMania. She said Bianca Belair will be challenging Sasha Banks for the Smackdown Women’s Championship, and now she’s wondering who will challenge Asuka for the Raw Women’s Championship.
Flair said she wants to face Asuka at WrestleMania, but now Asuka is at home injured. Footage aired of Shayna Baszler kicking Asuka in the face last week and a tooth flying out of Asuka’s mouth. Flair spoke about Asuka being a fighting champion and said she would challenge her once she returns.
Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax made their entrance. Baszler had a mic and said that Flair calls herself the queen, but she’s fighting an uphill battle as an army of one. Baszler boasted that she’s the reason the Raw Women’s Champion has no teeth. She said she and Jax are dominant champions, and this isn’t the road to WrestleMania that Flair is accustomed to.
Jax said it’s a shame that Charlotte sent her father home because the entire locker room wishes that she would have sent herself home. “No one likes you,” Jax said. She added that the power has shifted and it will be Baszler “or more likely me” challenging for the title if Asuka returns. Flair laughed. Jax said that Punky Brewster won’t be asking for more appearances by the time Baszler is finished with her.
Flair said the locker room probably doesn’t like her. She said she doesn’t have to talk about how dominant she is. She said people don’t call her the greatest of all time, they simply call her Charlotte Flair. Flair threw punches at Baszler until Jax hit her from behind. Jax dropped a leg on Flair while Baszler held her down… [C]
A WWE Network on Peacock ad aired…
6. Charlotte Flair vs. Shayna Baszler (w/Nia Jax). The match was joined in progress and a countdown clock showed that Miz vs. Lashley would happen again in 22 minutes. Naomi and Lana were shown watching the match on a backstage monitor. Baszler was in control early, but Flair battled back.
Flair targeted the left knee of Baszler with a chop block and other moves, then knocked Jax off the apron. Flair went for the figure four, but Baszler kicked her and Flair fell through the ropes. Jax charged at Flair, who moved and shoved Jax into the ring steps before returning to the ring. Baszler went for her Kirifuda Clutch finisher, but Flair escaped and hit the Natural Selection and scored the pin…
Charlotte Flair beat Shayna Baszler in 2:55.
Powell’s POV: What could have been a WrestleMania match was reduced to being a shitty, joined in progress, three-minute television match. They have absolutely blown it with Baszler on the main roster. Oh, and the Natural Selection is still a terrible finisher.
Backstage, Shane told Pearce to tell Lashley that if Miz didn’t show up for the WWE Championship match they would strip him of the title and award it to Lashley. Pearce left the room to deliver the message… [C]
7. Riddle, Lince Dorado, and Gran Metalik vs. T-Bar, Mace, and Slapjack (w/Mustafa Ali, Reckoning). Only Riddle’s entrance was televised. T-Bar performed a chokeslam backbreaker on Riddle for a two count to start the match. The babyface trio came back and won after Metalik performed a splash from Dorado’s shoulders on Slapjack and pinned him.
Riddle, Lince Dorado, and Gran Metalik defeated T-Bar, Mace, and Slapjack in 2:20.
After the match, Ali threw his weekly shit fit. He called for Riddle to stick around so that he could show his troops how it’s done… [C]
Powell’s POV: Riddle vs. Dominik Dijakovic for the U.S. Title would be a lot of fun. Nothing about Retribution is fun aside from T-Bar’s twitter page. Free these poor people from this terrible gimmick.
Drew McIntyre, Nia Jax, Shayna Baszler, Elias, and Jaxson Ryker were announced as the Raw Talk guests…
8. U.S. Champion Riddle vs. Mustafa Ali (w/T-Bar, Mace, and Slapjack, Reckoning) in a non-title match. Riddle caught Ali in a nice mid-air guillotine, which Ali escaped. Riddle hit his Pele Kick and worked over Ali. Riddle performed a Broton and threw a kick and then covered Ali for a two count. Riddle threw a ripcord knee to the head.
Slapjack climbed onto the apron and distracted Riddle from going for his finisher. Slapjack distracted the referee and then Mace distracted Riddle. Ali hit Riddle from behind and then performed a clunky reverse Codebreaker style move from the ropes and scored the pin. Afterward, Ali barked at his minions to follow his lead…
Mustafa Ali defeated Riddle in 3:20 in a non-title match.
Backstage, The Miz told Shane and Pearce that he defended his title. He said he was counted out, but it was a legitimate championship match. Miz gave up and wondered if his match would be a no disqualification match. Shane told him he would think about it and let him know. Miz said he is needed as champion and deserves to go to WrestleMania.
Miz said he’s been humiliated when he should have been protected. Miz asked Shane what type of champion Lashley would be. Shane said he didn’t know, but said perhaps they would find out. Shane said it was up to Miz. A countdown graphic showed that the match was just a few minutes away… [C]
Powell’s POV: No, it’s going to happen for real this time. Maybe? It better. Seriously, another bait and switch would be a mistake.
The WrestleMania video aired. We are 40 days away. The event was listed as being available exclusively on Peacock (in the United States)…
Lashley and MVP made their entrance (again), then Miz and Morrison made their entrance (again). Rome delivered introductions from ringside once both men were inside the ring. The referee held up the title belt and then Shane McMahon made his entrance before the ref could call for the bell. Shane introduced a group of wrestlers to serve as the lumberjacks.
9. The Miz (w/John Morrison) vs. Bobby Lashley (w/MVP) in a lumberjack match for the WWE Championship. Miz tried to hit Lashley with the title belt to get himself disqualified, but Lashley blocked it. Miz waited until Lashley was distracted and then hit him, but Lashley didn’t flinch. Miz went to ringside and pleaded with some of the lumberjacks for help, but he was thrown back inside the ring by Drew Gulak.
Lashley roughed up Miz, who ended up back at ringside in front of Retribution. Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin came out and tossed Miz back inside the ring where Lashley performed a Flatliner. Lashley pressed Miz over his head and tossed him onto some of the lumberjacks, who then tossed him back inside the ring. Lashley performed his one-arm spinebuster. Once Miz stood up, Lashley put him in the Hurt Lock for the submission win…
Bobby Lashley defeated The Miz in 3:05 to win the WWE Championship.
Lashley celebrated with the belt afterward. Lashley put Miz in the Hurt Lock again and released him, then went back to celebrating with the WWE Championship to close the show…
Powell’s POV: They really needed to go with the title change after all the shenanigans throughout the show. Will they go the predictable route and go with Lashley vs. McIntyre at WrestleMania? Could Lashley get his dream match with Brock Lesnar instead?
Overall, the first hour of Raw was really fun thanks mostly to the McIntyre vs. Sheamus match. The rest of the show was carried by the WWE Championship storyline that would have been a disaster if Miz escaped with the championship. Fortunately, they had the right plan and didn’t upset the viewers by not delivering the title change. It will be interesting to see how all of this performs in the ratings when they come out Tuesday afternoon. I will be back shortly with my weekly same night Raw audio review for Dot Net Members. Let me know what you thought of the show by grading it below.