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WWE Raw preview (May 31, 2021): Raw is Repetition

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Raw airs tonight (May 31) live from the ThunderDome in the Yuengling Center in Tampa, Florida. This is the third Raw episode during the five week build towards the upcoming Hell in a Cell event on June 20.

Raw is Repetition

Last week’s Raw included at least four rematches of fights we’ve already seen on recent episodes. One of the matches that didn’t fall into that category was Drew McIntyre vs. Kofi Kingston, who were battling for a chance to challenge Bobby Lashley for the WWE championship at Hell in a Cell.

McIntyre and Kingston put on a hell of a match that took up most of Raw’s first hour, but the whole thing was ruined by a terrible disqualification finish after Lashley interfered. Adam Pearce then showed that he truly understands the essence of Raw when he told both competitors that “nothing’s changed” and they will simply have a rematch to determine the number one contender. By the time Pearce was done talking, it was quite evident that just about everything we saw from these wrestlers in the first hour of Raw was primarily there to fill time rather than advance the story, because three hours is way too long for Raw.

The rematch between McIntyre and Kingston goes down tonight, with the added caveat that Lashley will be suspended without pay for 90 days if he interferes. WWE commentary played it up as if this guarantees a one-on-one match with a definitive winner. I guess Corey Graves doesn’t realize that MACE, T-BAR, Shanky, and pretty much the entire WWE locker room besides Lashley can still theoretically interfere and force Pearce to book another McIntyre/Kingston rematch next week.

Hopefully WWE delivers a better finish tonight, because booking a 20+ minute television match to end in a disqualification is pretty much telling the viewers that it’s all pointless and there’s no need to tune in.

The title scene

AJ Styles is a former WWE champion and one of the greatest wrestlers of all-time, yet he was defeated in two minutes against Jaxson Ryker last week on Raw. Such is the plight of nearly any wrestler who is dumped into the WWE tag division. Omos and Styles now have to defend the Raw tag team titles tonight against Elias and Ryker in a match where the challengers have no chance in hell to win.

After being eaten by zombies and reportedly tearing his ACL at WrestleMania Backlash, the Miz returns tonight to host Miz TV. His guests will be Rhea Ripley and Charlotte Flair, who happen to be booked in a match against each other for the Raw women’s championship at Hell in a Cell. I think there’s like a 50% chance this segment will lead to Charlotte beating Nikki Cross in a two minute Beat the Clock challenge.

Now that Natalya & Tamina have vanquished Shayna Baszler & Nia Jax, the Women’s tag team champions could use some new opponents on Monday nights. Will it be Dana Brooke and Mandy Rose? How about Lana & Naomi? Is there anybody else? Are there really no heel women’s tag teams in WWE besides Baszler and Jax?

Last week, WWE commentary actually described Sheamus as “one of the most dominant United States champions in the history of the WWE.” Sheamus has been the champ for seven weeks and has yet to defend the title, so I have no earthly idea how that claim can be made with a straight face. Anyway, Sheamus’ current tour of beating up low card jabronis continued last week when he pinned Humberto Carrillo. Ricochet came out afterwards and double teamed the Celtic Warrior alongside Carrillo. My guess is that Sheamus will beat them in a handicap match soon enough.

Other stuff to keep an eye on

- Xavier Woods fell victim to Matt Riddle’s first RKO last week. Woods has a chance for redemption tonight when he goes one-on-one with Randy Orton.

- Shayna Baszler was pinned last week after yet another unintentional distraction from the hapless Reginald. She wants him in a match tonight, but Nia Jax is looking for a way to avoid this fight. I wonder what Alexa Bliss and Lilly think about this situation...

- Braun Strowman, Asuka, and Mansoor Damian Priest are some of the more prominent babyface wrestlers who don’t have any obvious stories lined up right now. That means some lower card heels are probably going to take a beating tonight.

- Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin have split two singles bouts, so a rubber match is likely coming at some point. Then again, Vince McMahon might just slam the brakes on the whole thing after having Corey Graves bury Cedric on commentary over his unimpressive mic work.

- Speaking of slamming the brakes, the Adnan Virk era of Raw only lasted seven weeks. WWE somehow hired him without realizing that he wasn’t ready for the job, and now he’s gone. Tom Phillips was also released, because why not? We should get a pretty good idea tonight if WWE is repeating the Virk mistake all over again with Jimmy Smith as the new lead play-by-play commentator.

What will you be looking for on Raw tonight?