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WWE Raw preview (July 12, 2021): Where is Randy Orton?

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Raw airs tonight (July 12) with a taped show from the ThunderDome in the Yuengling Center in Tampa, Florida. This is the go-home episode of Raw for the Money in the Bank 2021 event coming up this Sunday, July 18.

Where is Randy Orton?

The field is set for the Raw side of both Money in the Bank ladder matches that will take place on Sunday.

The four Raw women who will compete for the contract this weekend include Naomi, Asuka, Nikki A.S.H., and Alexa Bliss. These four women teamed up last week and lost, of course, so they’ll compete against each other tonight in a Fatal 4-way match.

The four Raw men who will compete for the contract include John Morrison, Ricochet, Drew McIntyre, and Matt Riddle.

Drew McIntyre suddenly has his hands full with biker Jinder Mahal and his goons, who stole Drew’s flame-generating sword. Considering that anybody can interfere in the Money in the Bank ladder match, this probably doesn’t bode well for Drew on Sunday. Maybe he’ll have a very long Scottish anecdote prepared tonight to describe his current circumstances.

Morrison and Ricochet will continue their series of thrilling matches when they go at it tonight in a Falls Count Anywhere match. Will they have one more ThunderDome-specific trick up their sleeves before live fans return?

Last but not least is Riddle, who has been representing RK-BRO the last two weeks all by himself. Randy Orton is nowhere to be found, and I don’t believe there has been a kayfabe explanation offered for his absence. Riddle is even talking like Orton has died or something. It’s a bit strange.

My guess is that Orton has some extra days off built into his contract and he’s taking advantage of those perks before Vince McMahon demands all hands on deck for the return of live fans. With this episode of Raw taped last week, I think it’s a good bet that Randy will miss Raw yet again, which means Damian Priest might find himself chatting with Riddle about Burger King again in the backstage area.

The title scene

WWE Champion Bobby Lashley will prepare for his title match against Kofi Kingston at Money in the Bank by taking on Xavier Woods tonight. Lashley already thrashed Woods inside Hell in a Cell a few weeks back, so he should be able to easily destroy him again. Lashley is also pissed off after the New Day beat the Hurt Business in a tag team match last week. I wouldn’t want to be in Xavier’s shoes tonight.

AJ Styles & Omos will defend the Raw tag team titles against the Viking Raiders on next week’s episode. In order to whet the appetite for what’s to come, individual members of each team will do battle tonight in singles matches: Omos vs. Erik, Styles vs. Ivar. Omos is a very big man, and Vince McMahon loves big men, so there’s no way he is getting pinned by Erik. If WWE is looking to go 50/50 here with a win for one member of each team, AJ Styles is probably the underdog even though he’s one of the greatest wrestlers of the last 20 years. This is the same kind of booking logic that caused Styles to lose in two minutes against Jaxson Ryker at the end of May, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see WWE do it again. The alternative would be for Omos to be such a bringer of destruction that he gets himself disqualified.

Sheamus has not defended the United States championship since he won it two months ago at WrestleMania 37. He’s scheduled to defend it tonight against Humberto Carrillo, but we’ll see if the Celtic Warrior once again weasels his way out of defending the gold. As far as the actual match is concerned, while Carrillo should be able to work over Sheamus’ vulnerable nose with various holds and maneuvers, it’s hard to ignore the fact that Humberto was chasing around Akira Tozawa’s jobber gold last week. That’s almost never a good sign for a wrestler’s future booking, unless that wrestler’s name is R-Truth.

Rhea Ripley and Charlotte Flair had a pretty bad segment last week where both wrestlers faked injuries and then had a duel with crutches. Outside of one very entertaining pull apart brawl before Hell in a Cell, the feud between between these two stars over the Raw women’s championship has been extremely disappointing, and doesn’t seem to be benefiting either of them.

Natalya & Tamina suddenly have fresh new challengers to deal with on SmackDown in the form of Shotzi & Nox. That, combined with the recent struggles of Mandy Rose and Dana Brooke on Raw, now make it seem like the Women’s tag team champions are probably more concerned with their competition on Friday nights rather than Mondays.

Other stuff to keep an eye on

- Jaxson Ryker’s babyface push continued last week when he ran wild on Cedric Alexander. Elias ran away from Ryker amidst the chaos, which suggests Ryker failed to follow his own terrible advice. I guess the strap match these two rivals had the week before didn’t really accomplish anything.

- Mansoor was a sucker for helping Mustafa Ali during their match last week. Will he finally take Ali’s advice and stop dumping in Shane McMahon’s locker room thinking with his heart?

- MACE and T-BAR lost against Lucha House Party last week. It turns out that it’s really, really difficult to recover from a failed gimmick in WWE, and pretty much all of the former RETRIBUTION members are now dealing with that reality.

- Unlike the WrestleMania 28 match between Undertaker and Triple H, tonight’s card is truly the end of an era. This is the final episode of Raw that will air from the ThunderDome. The innovative concept was desperately needed when WWE debuted it last August, but it’s definitely time to move on from this era of virtual fans, piped in audio, and creepy hands grabbing wrestlers from under the ring.

What will you be looking for on Raw tonight?