By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Raw (Episode 1,455)
Live from Tampa, Florida at Yuengling Center
Aired April 12, 2021 on USA Network
[Hour One] Raw opened with a new “Then, Now, and Forever” that includes a Ric Flair woooo, Undertaker’s gong, and other sounds…
Footage aired from earlier in the day of WWE Champion Bobby Lashley and MVP arriving at the building. Humberto Carrillo, Lince Dorado, and others applauded him, and a woman asked him for an autograph.
Matt Riddle arrived on his scooter and challenged Lashley, who pointed out that Riddle got whooped by Sheamus at WrestleMania. Riddle said something about not going to school for a year because he thought aliens would abduct him because he was getting messages, but then he figured out that his brain received radio transmissions.
Lashley said he went to war with Drew McIntyre. He said he came to Raw to celebrate his victory and to address the WWE Universe. Riddle recalled Lashley stating multiple times that he would grant shots at the WWE Championship. Lashley shoved Riddle to the ground, called him a loser, and said he would see him in the ring…
Byron Saxton noted the change in venue. Bobby Lashley’s entrance video played. The new broadcast team checked in with Saxton welcoming his new broadcast mates Adnan Virk from MLB Network and Corey Graves. They hyped previously advertised segments.
Riddle was introduced and drove his scooter to ringside where Lashley clotheslined him and ran him into the barricade. Lashley slammed Riddle’s back into the barricade multiple times, then whipped him into another part of the barricade. Lashley hoisted up Riddle and ran him into the ring post. Lashley threw Riddle inside the ring. The referee checked on Riddle and called for the bell to start the match…
1. WWE Champion Bobby Lashley (w/MVP) vs. Riddle in a non-title match. Lashley mauled Riddle to start the match. MVP held up Riddle with one arm before putting him down with a vertical suplex. Lashley went to ringside and threw Riddle’s scooter.
Riddle attacked Lashley once he returned to the ring, but Lashley fought him off and tossed him to ringside. Lashley followed and then pressed him over his head and threw him over the barricade. Lashley returned to the ring heading into a break. [C]
An ad for NXT spotlighted new NXT Champion Karrion Kross and hyped footage of what happened after the Kyle O’Reilly vs. Adam Cole match at Takeover.
In the ring, Lashley continued to dominate Riddle. Riddle eventually caught Lashley with a series of kicks and a knee to the face that knocked Lashley down. Riddle went to the ropes and went for a Floating Bro, but Lashley avoided it. Lashley put Riddle in the Hurt Lock and got the submission win…
WWE Champion Bobby Lashley beat Riddle in approximately 10:00.
Powell’s POV: A lopsided and lengthy glorified squash match. The Riddle character is so damn annoying that it’s hard to feel any sense of sympathy for him. Riddle now has a scraped forehead and elbow to go along with the busted lip that Sheamus gave him. Meanwhile, I don’t want to be too tough on the guy after just one match, but Virk didn’t bring much energy to his first match call.
A video package recapped Rhea Ripley beating Asuka to win the Raw Women’s Championship at WrestleMania…
Backstage, Kevin Patrick interviewed Ripley and asked her about facing Asuka in a rematch. Ripley spoke of having confidence in herself. She said the same confidence allowed her to beat one of the best champions ever. She said that what fans saw at WrestleMania was the brutal new order of the women’s division. She said she would prove again that she is ready for Asuka… [C]
2. “The Viking Raiders” Erik and Ivar vs. Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin. The entrance of Alexander and Benjamin was not televised. Alexander clipped the knee of Erik and then Benjamin blasted him with a knee to the face, which led to a two count.
Later, Ivar performed a running cross body block on a seated Benjamin. Ivar did a cartwheel between both opponents and then put them down with a double clothesline. Moments later, the Raiders hit the Viking Experience on Benjamin, and then legal man Erik pinned him.
The Viking Raiders defeated Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin in 5:35.
Powell’s POV: It’s great to see Ivar back for the first time since undergoing neck surgery last September. Beating Alexander and Benjamin means something this week, but they remain in tailspin mode. I really hope that creative gets it right with both teams. The Viking Raiders are a talented team and hopefully they won’t be playing the same cartoonish characters.
Asuka was approached by Patrick, who asked how she was approaching her rematch with Ripley. Asuka said Ripley brought the fight, but now it’s her turn. Asuka said she’s ready for Ripley and will once again become Raw Women’s Champion. Graves said the match was coming up next… [C] Still shots aired from WrestleMania…
Charlotte Flair made her entrance. Virk raved about Flair’s entrance. Graves said she has gold for a blood type, then told him that it’s his first night and he needs to take his jaw off the table. Virk laughed.
Flair stood in the ring and said she would typically be smiling the night after WrestleMania, but she wasn’t on the show, nor was she welcome at the show. Flair laughed and said she knows some people are thinking that it’s just one WrestleMania and she’s appeared on five other WrestleMania events.
Flair said she is a franchise player, a genuine superstar, and what she does is sacred to her family. She said it was unacceptable that she wasn’t on WrestleMania. She said it wasn’t her fault that Asuka needed a tag team partner, that her father showed up and acted like a fool, or that Lacey Evans decided to get pregnant.
Flair said she challenged Asuka to a title match and she never responded. “Some champion, huh?” Flair asked. She called Rhea Ripley an opportunist and acknowledged her title win. Flair assumed that every woman in the locker room was jumping up and down in glee because she wasn’t on the WrestleMania card. Flair called Ripley the biggest snake in the locker room. She also complained about Asuka manipulating her way into a rematch.
“You know what they say, karma is a bitch and I’m that bitch,” Flair said. She listed several female wrestlers and said that no one compares to her. Flair said she doesn’t steal opportunity. “I am the opportunity,” she said. “To all those delusional WWE fans at home who think I steal opportunities from your favorites, no, no, no, I create opportunities.”
Flair said she wouldn’t apologize for being that damn good. She said everyone would bow down to their 13-time champion. She told the fans to show respect for what she’s brought to the industry. She spoke of how she has dedicated years of her life to the industry and questioned what the fans have given her in return. “So enjoy your title match that I should have been in,” Flair said before dropping the mic…
Asuka made her entrance for the title match… [C]
Powell’s POV: I could have done without the “bow down” line, but I liked the promo because it didn’t feel like the tired cliche royalty promo that Flair has delivered for far too long. She didn’t really offer a storyline explanation for why she wasn’t on the WrestleMania card and it wasn’t focussed on anyone in particular, but she clearly established that she’s back in heel mode again. I’m surprised the didn’t play up her win over Ripley at last year’s WrestleMania, but obviously there’s still time to go there.
Rhea Ripley made her entrance. The production team added some boos…
3. Rhea Ripley vs. Asuka for the Raw Women’s Championship. Ring announcer Mike Rome delivered in-ring introductions for the title match. Ripley placed Asuka on the top rope and then kicked her to ringside. [C] Asuka threw a missile dropkick. A graphic hyped Lashley’s All Mighty Address for later in the show.
[Hour Two] Asuka threw a series of kicks at Ripley and then covered her for a two count. Ripley came back with a standing leg lock. Asuka reached the ropes, but Ripley pulled her back and slammed her face first to the mat and covered her for a two count.
Ripley put Asuka in the electric chair, then performed a Samoan Drop. Graves noted that Asuka appeared to be going for a crucifix and he wasn’t sure who got the worse of the “car crash” spot. Asuka applied an armbar. Asuka tried to turn it into the Asuka Lock, but Ripley ran to the corner and Asuka’s head hit the top turnbuckle.
Both women fought on the apron. Asuka drove Ripley’s face onto the apron. They fought at ringside and then Flair shoved Asuka from behind, which drove Ripley into the ring spot. The referee called for the bell.
Rhea Ripley fought Asuka to an apparent no-contest in 11:55.
Flair attacked both women and left them lying, then mocked them by acting like she was crying. The production team amped up the boos…
Powell’s POV: A disappointing match with a disappointing finish. I’m not sure why they felt the need to have Flair deliver her promo before the attack. It would have packed more of a punch had she interfered out of nowhere and then delivered her promo. Asuka and Ripley just don’t seem to have a lot of in-ring chemistry. Ripley is the Raw Women’s Champion, but they have yet to spotlight her properly on Raw. Strange. I assume this leads to the Triple Threat that many of us thought was going to happen at WrestleMania.
Backstage, Miz gave Maryse a kiss. John Morrison showed up and asked Maryse what she was doing there. Miz said she was the guest on Miz TV. Miz and Maryse walked away. Morrison acted like he was aware she was the guest, then called for them to wait up…
Alexa Bliss was advertised for after the break… [C] An ad for Smackdown hyped new Smackdown Women’s Champion Bianca Belair and WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns…
Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler laughed as they watched footage of Mandy Rose slipping and falling on the ramp at WrestleMania. Rose showed up. Jax told Baszler that she could handle it, so Baszler walked away. Rose spoke about how quickly she got up while hoping no one saw her. She said it’s funny how things happen like that when you don’t see it coming. Rose slapped Jax across the face, then Dana Brooke joined her in shoving Jax to the ground…
Alexa Bliss was seated on her swing set backstage. She said WrestleMania was fun. She assumed everyone wondered why she did what she did. She spoke about a little girl being lost until she was rescued by someone who nurtured her and taught her everything he knew, but then the darkness went away.
Bliss wondered if that’s when the little girl realized she never needed the darkness after all. “How do you think it made her feel when she realized she could do everything on her own?” Bliss asked. “Was the darkness helping her or did she decide it was just standing in her way? I mean, why else would she use that to try to destroy the darkness?”
Bliss asked if it’s true that the female species is the deadliest. She said we may never know. She said she unlocked something truly evil. She pointed to her new friend Lilly, which was a doll propped up on the swing next to her. “Our fun is just getting started,” Bliss said before laughing…
Powell’s POV: They just won’t give up on this supernatural nonsense.
The Miz was introduced, followed by Maryse. They kissed on the stage and started walking toward the ring. Miz looked back and then John Morrison made his entrance and joined them… [C]
Miz, Maryse, and Morrison were seated on chairs in the ring while Miz welcomed viewers to Miz TV. Miz boasted that he was the most talked about entertainer in all of entertainment. Miz raved about his wife and they hyped the season premiere of Miz & Mrs. for after Raw.
Morrison pitched the idea of a spinoff involving him. Miz reminded Morrison that he’s in tonight’s episode. Miz said everyone is talking about how he turned Bad Bunny into a WWE Superstar. He said Bad Bunny couldn’t have done what he did without his tutelage. Miz had still shots shown from their WrestleMania match.
Damian Priest made his entrance and spoke from the stage. Priest said he was Bad Bunny’s tag partner and he doesn’t want to take credit away from him. He said Bad Bunny was successful because he put in the work. Priest told Miz that the headlines around the world read “Bad Bunny beats Miz.”
Miz asked Priest where his name was in those headlines. Miz said Priest was upstaged by his own tag team partner. Miz challenged Priest to a singles match. Morrison said he was just about to do the same thing. Miz and Morrison bickered about who should face him. Maryse pointed out that they could both fight Priest.
Priest said they are idiots. He said he was fine with the idea of facing them in a handicap match. He said they could make the headline right away. Miz and Morrison protested because they weren’t in their ring gear… [C]
The Bad Bunny tour commercial with Triple H aired…
4. Damian Priest vs. John Morrison and The Miz (w/Maryse) in a handicap match. Miz and Morrison worked in their regular clothes. Priest had Miz pinned, but Morrison hit Priest with a knee to the head to break the pin. Graves said that Miz competing so well in Gucci loafers was a modern miracle.
Priest threw a spin kick on Morrison from the top rope for a near fall. Priest hit his Hit The Lights finisher on Morrison. Miz tried to perform his finisher on Priest, who countered into the setup for Hit The Lights, but Maryse pulled Miz’s leg under the bottom rope.
Maryse stood on the apron. Priest asked her to step down. Miz rolled up Priest and pinned him while using the ropes for leverage while Maryse added pressure.
The Miz and John Morrison defeated Damian Priest in 5:30 in a handicap match.
Powell’s POV: Whatever. There was a comical scene afterward with Miz holding Maryse while his dress pants were around his ankles. Miz tripped and then Maryse started to fall just before the cut away.
Patrick had footage air of Rose slapping Jax while Jax and Baszler stood next to him and watched on a monitor. Jax said that no one will be talking about Rose or Brooke once she’s done with them…
Rose and Brooke made their entrance for the tag match… [C] WrestleMania still shots aired, then Jax and Baszler made their entrance…
5. WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler vs. Mandy Rose and Dana Brooke in a non-title match. Jax acted like she tripped while entering the ring, which led to Rose and Brooke laughing at her.
Later, Jax acted like she tripped while trying to climb onto the apron, which led to more laughing from the babyface duo. An angry Jax charged, but Rose fled the ring. Rose and Brooke backed up the ramp and were counted out while the broadcast team explained that they wanted no part of Jax…
WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler beat Mandy Rose and Dana Brooke via count-out in 4:30 in a non-title match.
Footage aired of Bobby Lashley beating Drew McIntyre to retain the WWE Championship at WrestleMania, and then Lashley’s address was hyped for after the break… [C]
Powell’s POV: Babyfaces Rose and Brooke were pissed at heels Jax and Baszler for laughing because Rose slipped at WrestleMania. So then the babyfaces turned around and laughed at Jax for slipping not once but twice. And rather than take advantage of Jax having an off night, the babyfaces left the match in fear because Jax was angry. Awful.
The broadcast team spoke about WrestleMania while mainstream media headlines were shown…
MVP stood in the ring and said he had an official announcement from The Hurt Business. MVP said Lashley retained his championship at WrestleMania on Saturday and all he wanted to do was celebrate and address the fans, but he felt disrespected (by Riddle).
MVP labeled Drew McIntyre a warrior. He said he took his eye off the prize for just one second. He said it’s okay to be number two when Lashley is number one. MVP said it’s over once Lashley applied the Hurt Lock and they saw McIntyre pass out. MVP said McIntyre wasn’t holding his head high, he could probably barely lift his head at all.
[Hour Three] MVP said no one could handle the pressure of the Hurt Lock. Drew McIntyre made his entrance. He said he had no excuses, he allowed MVP to distract him. He said MVP was right about the Hurt Lock and admitted that he passed out.
McIntyre entered the ring and told MVP that he wants him to stay on the same path. McIntyre said he wanted Lashley’s head to be as big as possible because he’ll eventually get his rematch. MVP said he had to be honest with McIntyre, who told him to choose his next words very carefully. MVP said nothing in WWE is given, it must be earned.
Braun Strowman made his entrance. MVP said McIntyre goes to the back of the line and has to fight his way back to the front. Strowman said he had to agree with MVP for once. Strowman said McIntyre lost and now he goes to the back of the line while he goes to the front following his annihilation of Shane McMahon.
Strowman entered the ring and went face to face McIntyre. Randy Orton made his entrance. He said The Fiend and Alexa Bliss are finished, which means no more mind games for him. Orton said he can now focus on doing what he is best at, which includes being WWE Champion again.
Adam Pearce walked onto the stage. He said everyone was making excellent points and that made his decision simple. Pearce booked McIntyre vs. Orton vs. Strowman in a Triple Threat with the winner challenging Lashley at the WrestleMania Backlash pay-per-view…
New Day vs. Elias and Jaxson Ryker was advertised for after the break… [C]
Powell’s POV: So the back of the line is a No. 1 contenders match? I’m all for McIntyre getting a rematch, but why even talk about the back of the line if they were going to go with this Triple Threat match? Meanwhile, I guess we’ll never know what Lashley’s statement was going to be.
Backstage, Strowman told McIntyre that he knew he saw what he did to Shane McMahon. McIntyre said he saw it and he’s a big monster. McIntyre spoke about what could happen in the Triple Threat. Strowman asked if McIntyre was insulting his intelligence by not understanding how a Triple Threat works. He said it didn’t work out so well for the last guy. Strowman said he knows how bad McIntyre wants a rematch, but he’s standing in his way of a WWE Championship opportunity and that means he has a monster sized ass whooping coming…
Powell’s POV: Strowman’s character is way too proud of himself for beating the 51 year-old son of the owner.
The broadcast team spoke briefly and then set up a recap of Charlotte Flair’s promo and her attacking Ripley and Asuka…
Elias and Jaxson Ryker were in the ring. Elias wanted to play a song in honor of Shane McMahon. When Elias strummed his guitar, the trombone played. New Day made their entrance. Kofi Kingston mocked them for having their asses beat by one man in Strowman. Xavier Woods said they would never show their faces again if that happened to them. They have them the “shame, shame, shame, shame” treatment.
Elias pointed out the obvious regarding Omos destroying the two of them at WrestleMania. Woods said they had a failure to communicate. Kingston said it’s not a game. He said it’s not about New Day, but it’s about how Elias and Ryker disgraced the tag team division. Kingston said they would show them what a real tag team looks like…
5. Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods vs. Elias and Jaxson Ryker. The New Day duo cleared the heels to ringside and performed stereo dives onto them just seconds into the match. [C]
They cut to a mid-match split-screen ad for the Nobody movie. The heel duo got some offense in. Kingston came back with a stomp to the chest of Elias and covered him for a two count. Kingston performed a Boom Drop.
Woods took out Ryker. Elias ducked Trouble in Paradise and put Kingston on his shoulders, but Kingston slipped away and tagged in Woods. Kingston put Elias over his knee and then Woods hit him with a top rope double stomp and scored the pin..
Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods beat Elias and Jaxson Ryker.
Powell’s POV: They filled some time and gave Kingston and Woods a bounce back win following their loss at WrestleMania.
Randy Orton delivered a backstage promo and said he’s been distracted for the last six months. He said that ended at WrestleMania. He said he is now able to focus on the WWE Championship. Orton said he has to go through McIntyre and Strowman. Orton said he only has to strike once because he has the RKO…
Graves hyped the Firefly Funhouse for after the break… The vaccination PSA aired… [C] Rhea Ripley, the Viking Raiders, and Sheamus were announced as the guests for Raw Talk…
The Firefly Funhouse aired. The usual puppets were present. Sweater wearing Bray Wyatt returned. He said it felt so good to be back in the Funhouse with all of his true friends. Abby said something about Bliss and was censored twice.
Wyatt grabbed Ramblin’ Rabbit and kissed him. Wyatt said he bet viewers didn’t see that coming. Wyatt threw the puppet. Wyatt said he felt great. He thought it could be the start of something with a new season and a new him. Wyatt said he felt reborn. Upbeat music played and then he acted like he was a preacher healing the puppets. Wyatt said everything will be fine because He will return. Wyatt waved to close the segment…
Powell’s POV: I was hoping for the original Bray Wyatt persona to be reborn. No luck.
Drew McIntyre and Braun Strowman made their entrances for the Triple Threat… [C] WrestleMania still shots were shown… Randy Orton made his entrance…
6. Drew McIntyre vs. Randy Orton vs. Braun Strowman for a WWE Championship match at WrestleMania Backlash. All three men ended up at ringside a little over a minute into the match. Strowman did his run around the ring and fortunately they didn’t play the train sounds, but he is stupid, so he ran into McIntyre throwing a piece of the ring steps at his head. Orton gave McIntyre a side suplex onto the broadcast table. [C]
Strowman hit McIntyre with the ring steps while they fought by the broadcast table. Strowman picked up the steps again and hit Orton with them, then hit McIntyre again. Strowman threw Orton back inside the ring. Being stupid, Strowman was kicked by Orton, who then dropped him with a Draping DDT.
Orton struck the Viper’s Pose. Orton put Strowman down with an RKO and then covered him. It clearly wasn’t the finish because Graves told viewers that Orton was going to WrestleMania Backlash. Right on cue, McIntyre entered the picture and delivered a boot to the head of Orton, then covered Orton and pinned him.
Drew McIntyre defeated Randy Orton and Braun Strowman in a Triple Threat in 11:15 to earn a WWE Championship match at WrestleMania Backlash.
After the match, MVP walked onto the stage to interrupt McIntyre’s celebration. T-Bar and Mace attacked McIntyre from behind and performed a double chokeslam. The former Retribution members stood at the bottom of the ramp while MVP watched from the stage. Graves said the question is why T-Bar and Mace attacked McIntyre and whether MVP had something to do with it…
Powell’s POV: The back of the line is really short on Raw. So rather than just admit defeat with Retribution and give these guys a chance to get over without the bad Purge costumes, two of them are now serving as henchmen for MVP and Lashley. I’m open to the possibility that they will unmask and get a fresh start, but seeing is believing.
Overall, this was a big letdown for a night after WrestleMania edition. Charlotte Flair and the Viking Raiders returned, and two members of Retribution popped up at the end of the show. Otherwise, it felt like business as usual, and that’s not a good thing in Raw’s case. I will be back shortly with my weekly same night Raw audio review with additional thoughts on the show and the new broadcast team. Let me know what you thought of the Raw by grading it below.