March 8’s broadcast of RAW wasted little time in delving into the main event match up, as Bobby Lashley and The Miz faced off again in a rematch for the WWE Championship. Both superstars addressed the WWE Universes first, Lashley feeling vindicated and confident that he had paid his dues and earned his current reign with sixteen years of toil. Miz, however, was on the defensive as he pleaded his case before the Thunderdome, appealing for blanket acceptance of the virtual crowd, and his peers, of the excuse that a bout of cramps struck him before the decisive match against Lashley the past week. He also ran down Shane McMahon for making the past week’s title match a Lumberjack Match, which the Miz felt to be a deceptive and unnecessary measure.
However, as Miz and Lashley entered the ring once again, it soon became clear that McMahon’s view of Miz as a flight risk was justified. After some fits and starts, dancing around Lashley hesitantly in the ring, Miz slid out of the ring and looked poised to flee. He quickly reentered, only to leave the ring again, this time facing a no-nonsense MVP. Miz returned to the ring to face Lashley in earnest, but with obvious trepidation. His anxieties proved to be founded, as the champion Lashley quickly lifted vertically and brought him crashing down in a punishing stalling suplex.
The action cut to Drew McIntyre pensively looking on through the monitor. It was, of course, Lashley’s attack on McIntyre at Elimination Chamber which created an opening for Miz to cash in his Money in the Bank contract and grab a shot at McIntyre’s title. McIntyre’s pride in holding the WWE Championship, which he first won from Brock Lesnar in 2020, has always been immense, and he considers himself the main contender for the next shot at Bobby Lashley.
As McIntyre brooded upon his future, Lashley continued to punish Miz, ramming him into the post and, once his challenger was trapped, hitting him with a rain of punches. As intimidated as Miz obviously was of Lashley’s formidable strength and notorious aggression, Miz wasn’t entirely immobilized yet and managed to evade Lashley and send him shoulder first into the post as he once again scrambled out of ring. Lashley was fazed but undeterred, and pursued Miz, who once again sent Lashley into the post. MVP urged Lashley to not only get back in the ring, but to punish Miz for his disrespect. He maneuvered Miz back in the ring, and hit him with a punishing clothesline.
Morrison, at ringside, urged Miz to once again attempt to escape Lashley’s clutches. Lashley, fed up with Miz’s attempts to run, was having none of it, and dragged Miz away from Morrison and away from the ropes. Miz rallied, and attempted to gather his strength and go on the offensive with a forearm strike. Lashley caught him mid attempt in his dominating grasp, and tossed Miz across the ring. As the two once again battled their way out of the ring, Lashley tossed Miz into the barricade between the ring and the virtual audience. Miz clearly took the hit in his wrist, and had trouble shaking off the injury.
Lashley cared little for this development, and once again grabbed hold of Miz, this time pushing him into the announce desk. Lashley lifted Miz, and slammed him into the post. Back in the ring, Lashley sensed that the advantage was his and rallied his considerable aggression, and a calculatedly feral Lashley delivered his brutal final act. He issued a flatliner and a reign of punches to Miz. He followed this up with a spinebuster, and to put Miz away via submission he locked in his signature, and near invincible Hurt Lock.
Like so many before him, Miz could not break the Hurt Lock, and Lashley retained the WWE Championship.
Drew McIntyre was ready with remarks about his outrage at Lashley’s Elimination Chamber assault, and his determination to regain the WWE Championship. However, his address to Lashley was interrupted by another surprise attack, by longtime friend and now rival Sheamus. Sheamus’s resentment at being anointed with the tagline “Drew McIntyre’s Best Friend” has recently boiled over into an all out feud between the two, but even this development will be unlikely to change McIntyre’s course. He will undoubtedly be coming for Lashley, set on a battle for the championship at WrestleMania 37.
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