With the apparent disintegration of the RETRIBUTION storyline and stable, Mustafa Ali is a man without an ally or a clear purpose, while Ricochet is a babyface without an adversary. The former tag partners both put themselves on MVP’s radar when they answered the call issued by WWE Champion Bobby Lashley: whoever challenged his WrestleMania 37 challenger Drew McIntyre and took him out would get a shot at Lashley’s title, on the “Grandest Stage of Them All.” Although both Ricochet and Ali failed to secure this opportunity, they might have won a place on the faction they once stood against.
As the March 29 RAW began, McIntyre made it clear that he relished the target Lashley had placed on him and dared anyone on the RAW roster to step up and challenge him for the Wrestlemania 37 title shot. Meanwhile, Lashley and MVP were far from over Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin’s failure to put McIntyre away in the previous week’s two-on-one handicap match. A victory in that bout would have secured Benjamin and Alexander’s presence ringside at WrestleMania 37, where they were sure to intervene on Lashley’s behalf. However, the terms of their defeat were that they would have to keep well away from the ring during this pivotal match. As a result, much to Benjamin and Alexander’s consternation and fury, MVP declared the Hurt Business dead.
Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin are sure to want to answer this offense in the ring, and Lashley will need back up when they go on the offensive. The Hurt Business is surely not defunct so much as accepting applications, and the vacancies left by Alexander and Benjamin could very well be filled by Ricochet and Ali, who seemed to peak MVP’s interest when they answered Lashley’s challenge to face off against McIntyre in a bid for WrestleMania.
As the night wore on, McIntyre became agitated that no one had challenged him, and took his grievances to the RAW locker room. He berated Braun Strowman first. The most obvious challenger, a match and then-some to McIntyre’s formidable size and strength, is currently tied up in a comedic feud with Shane McMahon, but Strowman let McIntyre know he’d see him after WrestleMania. After approaching Angel Garza, Humberto Carrillo, and Drew Gulak, McIntyre finally found the fight he was looking for, in Ricochet.
McIntyre had finally secured an opponent, and as the match commenced, he was in rare form. McIntyre executed two belly-to-belly throws to Ricochet. Despite McIntyre’s handling of him, it was clear that Ricochet was taking this opportunity seriously. He recovered from McIntyre’s throws and was able to land some punches, a knee strike, and a spin kick with his signature acrobatics, and pinned the former WWE champion. McIntyre kicked out. Ricochet tossed McIntyre up and over the ropes, and as they battled outside the apron he evaded McIntyre by leaping onto the barricade with impressive agility. He used the barricade to propel into a flying dropkick, and once McIntyre was back in the ring, Ricochet took to the top turnbuckle for a flying finisher.
However, McIntyre recovered and caught him with a Claymore, covering to secure a win via pinfall. Ricochet’s WrestleMania hopes were dashed. Mustafa Ali was the next challenger. McIntyre was all for it, and MVP, at the announce desk, seemed to appreciate Ali’s moxie.
“Tell Lashley I’m coming for that championship!” Ali declared.
A bemused MVP retorted, “I’m loving it, kid!”
Like Ricochet, Ali has refused MVP’s entreaties in the past, but the climate between the two was one of mutual respect as Ali did his best to weaken McIntyre. His target was McIntyre’s knee. Throughout their match, Ali issued hard stomps and targeted kicks to McIntyre’s knee, choosing to fell the giant at the root rather than outwit, shock, and awe him as Ricochet tried to do. Ali took to the air for a splash aimed at McIntyre’s legs and covered. Though McIntyre kicked out, Ali wasn’t done and bombed him with punches. McIntyre issued two belly-to-belly throws to Ali, and a series of blows. As with Ricochet, McIntyre won the day with a Claymore kick, pinning Ali.
MVP has eyed both fighters for the Hurt Business in the past, and both Ali and Ricochet stood firm against his entreaties, proving themselves to be fiercely individualistic fighters. However, Ricochet floundered without a faction, and Ali bombed at leading one. MVP needs tentpoles for a rebranded Hurt Business or a newly packaged faction of some kind, while Ricochet and Ali both need a purpose and a team. While neither athlete earned a ticket to face Lashley at Wrestlemania 37, they might have earned a renewed interest from MVP and a place in his and Lashley’s organization.
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