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WWE Raw preview (May 3, 2021): Don’t fool yourself into thinking this is a push

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Raw airs tonight (May 3) live from the ThunderDome in the Yuengling Center in Tampa, Florida. This is the fourth Raw episode during the five week build towards the upcoming WrestleMania Backlash event on May 16.

It doesn’t matter who Lashley faces tonight

Bobby Lashley is advertised for a match tonight against either Drew McIntyre or Braun Strowman. WWE hasn’t clarified how that decision will be made or if there will be any stakes, so this is an unusual booking choice.

MVP isn’t happy that Extinction’s interference last week led to Strowman being added to the WWE championship match at Backlash. After all, Lashley lost the United States championship earlier this year in a triple threat match when another wrestler (John Morrison) was pinned.

But the addition of Strowman is actually great news for the champ. Drew McIntyre briefly took his eye off the ball at WrestleMania 37 and allowed himself to be distracted by MVP, which set Lashley up to put Drew away with The Hurt Lock. Now that the WWE championship match at Backlash is a triple threat, that means there are no disqualifications. The probability of outside distractions or interference goes up even more, either in the form of interference from Extinction, or perhaps a new member of The Hurt Business. That’s bad news for the babyfaces.

As far as Lashley’s match tonight is concerned, it really doesn’t matter who he faces. In either case, you should expect to see more interference from Extinction. Hell, WWE might even turn it into another Extinction tag match with a count out or disqualification ending for the third week in row. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that maskless T-BAR and MACE are actually getting a push here. Yeah, this is a step up from what they were doing in RETRIBUTION, but that’s the lowest possible bar to clear.

This current “push” for T-BAR and MACE is more like Curtis Axel’s debut month on Raw in 2013 where he outlasted Triple H by inducing dizziness into his opponent, and later defeated The Game by disqualification. That WWE wouldn’t actually give Axel a pin or submission victory was telling. It’s no different here with Extinction, where they only win their tag matches by disqualification or count out. They’ve also lost two handicap matches by disqualification. Everything with them is a count out or disqualification, which is a surefire way for not getting over. It’s wise to expect more of the same tonight on Raw if they continue butting heads with the main event stars.

The title scene

AJ Styles and Omos have not appeared on WWE television since they won the Raw tag team titles at WrestleMania 37. That will change tonight when they return and put the belts on the line in a rematch against the former champs, Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods. This is Omos’ first ever match on Raw, and there isn’t much reason to think it will go any differently from his dominant showing at WrestleMania.

Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax are defending the Women’s tag team titles against Naomi and Lana tonight. Baszler and Jax are in the midst of a rough stretch, but it will still be surprising if they drop the titles here, especially considering that Natalya and Tamina are being positioned as the team that will eventually take down the champs.

After being reinstated from suspension last week, WWE is teasing that Charlotte Flair’s next move could involve going after the Raw women’s champion, Rhea Ripley. Yeah, a triple threat match between Ripley, Flair, and Asuka at Backlash sounds about right.

Humberto Carrillo has responded twice to Sheamus’ recent attempts at open challenges as United States champion. There hasn’t been an actual match yet though - Sheamus kicked Humberto’s ass on Apr. 19, only for Humberto to return the favor last week. Carrillo is a longtime jobber, so perhaps Sheamus will put an end to him tonight. Or maybe this is actually leading to a pay-per-view title match for Carrillo.

Other stuff to keep an eye on

- Alexa Bliss suggested that it’s now time to unleash the power of Lilly on the Raw women’s division. That could mean someone like Nikki Cross is in for a brutal night.

- R-K-BRO is the hot new tag team on Monday nights. Matt Riddle will likely show up to Raw tonight with some special accessories to accentuate his new partnership with Randy Orton.

- Where is Bray Wyatt?

- Are John Morrison’s testicles okay after being walloped by tomatoes last week?

Two weeks until WrestleMania Backlash!

What will you be looking for on Raw tonight?