SIN CARA vs. ANDRADE "CIEN" ALMAS (w/Zelina Vega) - 6.5/10
Didn't these guys just wrestle on Smackdown this week with a decisive finish? Why is this match happening again?
The good news is that they've finally decided to use their fancy split-screen technology to actually let us see the entire pre-show match as opposed to pointlessly cutting away from it for a commercial for something we're already watching.
The other good news is that they had a good match... but the bad news is that it felt counter-productive. Sin Cara was the one who got to do 90% of the cool moves, and even apparently had the match won until Vega distracted first him and then the referee. He's been on main roster TV about four times, and he already feels like any other dork on the undercard.
THE KICK-OFF PANEL IS TOO DUMB TO FIGURE OUT THAT NAKAMURA IS TROLLING THEM - This was an unproductive waste of time that just made WWE's supposed experts look like morons.
TABLES MATCH: SAnitY vs. The New Day -6.75/10
This was surprisingly good. Actually, I should say that I was surprised that this was given the time to be good, because I knew the wrestlers could have a great match, but doubted they would be given the opportunity to go so on the pre-show. SAnitY won, as they should have, and yet they still feel like they're floundering.
WWE RAW TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH: Matt Hardy & Bray Wyatt(c) vs. The B-Team - 4/10
Isn't the bathroom break supposed to be in the middle of the show? Clown Team #2 beat Clown Team #1 to win the Raw Tag Team Titles and prove that they are the top team in the WWE Clown Division.
CHARLY CARUSO INTERVIEWS THE B-TEAM - Even in trying to put over how important this win was, Axel was still a clown. Bo was good, though.
RENEE YOUNG INTERVIEWS KURT ANGLE - Kurt finally grows a spine and orders Brock to show up on Raw tomorrow to negotiate when his next title defense will be, or he'll be stripped of the title.
FINN BALOR vs. BARON CORBIN - 4.75/10
Corbin beat Balor up for a while but then got rolled up and lost.
THE BLUDGEON BROTHERS ASSAULT TEAM HELL NO BACKSTAGE - Harper took his big scary mallet and hit Kane in the head with it. Just kidding. That would make actual sense. Instead he put Kane's ankle in a door and hit the door with a mallet, which why we don't carry big scary mallets to the ring: because you can't ever use them safely in a manner that doesn't feel contrived.
WWE SMACKDOWN WOMEN'S TITLE MATCH WITH JAMES ELLSWORTH SUSPENDED IN A SHARK CAGE ABOVE THE RING:
Carmella(c) vs. Asuka - DUD!
One spot in, and Ellsworth is already dropping Carmella a steel chain to use, showing everyone why this stipulation is flawed. Even Tom Phillips criticized this, asking "didn't anyone frisk Ellsworth" before sending him up there? He dropped her a spray bottle, which Asuka also stopped her from using.
Ellsworth also apparently brought a lock-pick up with him and picked the lock. He was clearly out of the cage, which you'd think would cause a DQ, but apparently not. He's an idiot so he got stuck getting out (because he tried to get out in a very contrived way) so Asuka could take several free shots at him, like a total heel. When people came to put Ellsworth back in the cage, Asuka randomly decided to attack them. Then she went to attack Ellsworth again but Carmella hit her from behind, knocking her face into the cage, and pinned her. In other words, we got exactly the same thing we've gotten every week for the past month, except this time it's Asuka's own fault for taking her eyes off of Carmella even though Ellsworth was being dealt with by others. Asuka then beat Ellsworth up after the match, but I had no interest in seeing it because 1) as I just said, Asuka's loss here is her own fault, and 2) she already beat him up before, and he hadn't done anything since, so this was just pointless.
This match was booked in such a way as to make all of the babyfaces look dumb. Not just Asuka for the reasons I explained above, but Paige for booking this stipulation even though the last two times this has happened the person in the cage found a way to cheat but she took no steps to stop Ellsworth from cheating in the same way, and the referee for not doing his job and frisking Ellsworth. We are now an hour into the main show and everything has been either boring, bad, or both.
WWE UNITED STATES TITLE MATCH:
Jeff Hardy(c) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura - no rating, meh segment
Nakamura hit Jeff in the nuts while the referee was handing JoJo the championship belt. That was a good spot. Jeff insisted on fighting anyway... and then immediately ate a Kinshasa and lost, which made Jeff look kind of stupid. This is the kind of thing that might have been good on some other show, but not one that has been as full of sh*t as this one has.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Randy Orton showed up, getting a big pop for his surprise return. Then he walked over to Jeff Hardy and punched him in the nuts, then walked off. That was weird. Quite the bad day for Jeff Hardy's testicles.
STEEL CAGE MATCH:
Kevin Owens vs. Braun Strowman - 5/10
Listening to the announcers bend over backwards to try to justify how Owens is supposedly the bad guy here and Braun isn't a bully and an asshole and Kurt his willing accomplice is sickening. And you'd think that if Kurt so badly wanted to prevent Owens from running away, he'd have made this pinfall or submission only and taken away the silly stipulation that incentivizes Owens to do the very thing that Kurt doesn't want him to do.
Also, can we please at least pay lip-service to the idea that WWE wouldn't want a repeat of the screwy Reigns/Lesnar finish at Greatest Royal Rumble by maybe having the sides of the cage tied together or claiming it's made from stronger metal now or something like that?
Braun played the structural role of the heel here (which should have been a clue to WWE that something in their booking of this feud had gone horribly wrong), getting in a few flurries of offense (including a stunner, which will probably get him in trouble), but Braun always used his strength to take over.
Owens eventually handcuffed Braun to the ropes and got some shots in, but then he got too cocky and got in too close and Braun chokeslammed him. Owens recovered, told Braun to suck it, then went to climb out, but Braun predictably used his enormous strength to break the handcuffs. He then climbed up the cage and chokeslammed Owens off the top, through the announcers' table, meaning that dumbass Braun just gave Owens the win, but of course Owens didn't get over either because he got his ass kicked. And, of course, we have Braun dumping Owens off of a very high place and through a table... which is exactly what happened at the last PPV and set this feud in motion, so just like the Smackdown Women's Title match, we've spent one entire month and gone absolutely nowhere. Owens had to be stretchered away, while Braun walked off, laughing. Again... how the hell could anyone think Braun is the babyface?
I'd also like to point out that this is now two straight WWE cage matches in which the guy who did the big, devastating move at the end of the match wound up losing on what is essentially a technicality of this stupid "escape the cage" stipulation. What value does a Steel Cage Match even have anymore? If they tell me there is going to be a cage match, my immediate assumption is now that we're getting a f*ck finish, which is the exact opposite of what should happen.
WWE SMACKDOWN TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH:
The Bludgeon Brothers(c) vs. Team Hell No - 6/10
Bryan is still selling his midsection from the earlier beating. Kane didn't come out at all, so apparently Paige is just going to let Bryan fight on his own rather than either postponing the match or assigning him a different partner or something like that. She couldn't have ordered Sheamus or Cesaro or Shelton or Dillinger whoever to go out there and team with him? I mean... if you're going to do this then at least give me a backstage segment where they tell us that Kane is too injured to wrestle tonight and Paige offers to postpone the match but Bryan insists on wrestling alone anyway.
The Bludgeon Brothers worked over Bryan's injured midsection. Just when things seemed most dire for Bryan, the Bludgeon Brothers had a miscue so everyone went down. Then Kane limped down to ringside, leg in a boot, to accept the hot tag. Even in a boot, he gave both Bludgeon Brothers chokeslams. He called for the Tombstone Piledriver but Harper took out his leg. Kane tagged Bryan in for an even hotter hot tag and Bryan did his stuff until Rowan cut him off, shoved him into Kane, then hit him with a slam, then the Bludgeon Brothers won with a Powerbomb version of the Doomsday Device... so yeah, they pinned Bryan instead of Kane even though Kane was the more injured one and should probably be off of TV very soon because he is currently in the middle of a political campaign.
ROMAN REIGNS & THE B-TEAM BACKSTAGE - The B-Team tried to be inspirational, but instead they were just annoying.
ROMAN REIGNS vs. BOBBY LASHLEY - 6.75/10
Roman tried to hit Lashley with the steps and the ref made no effort to stop him. I want WWE to have less bullsh*t, not begin importing New Japan's bullsh*t! The crowd didn't care about most of this match, even when Lashley took a scary bump to the floor. They got loud when there was a "LET'S GO ROMAN!/ROMAN SUCKS!" dueling chant, but other than that they were pretty quiet. They did chant "RUSEV DAY!" at one point, but it's possible the crowd was turned down for the first half of the match. The match was very good and Lashley winning was something of a surprise, but I honestly don't want to see WWE Lashley as a top guy, either.
EXTREME RULES MATCH FOR THE WWE RAW WOMEN'S TITLE:
Alexa Bliss!(c) (w/Mickie James) vs. Nia Jax (w/Natalya) - 4/10
The build to this match has been so focused around Ronda Rousey that I originally typed that Ronda was the challenger, not Nia. In case you somehow forgot about her, they showed us Ronda sitting in the first row right before the match. Travis Browne was with her, and also someone who I think was Sara Del Rey, but I'm not sure because I honestly don't think I've ever seen Sara smiling before. Usually she has her mean face on.
I laughed at the comedy spot where Mickie kept handing Alexa weapons and Alexa kept trying to hit Nia with them and one by one Nia blocked the weapon shot, took the weapon away, and threw it into the ring.
Nia dominated Bliss in the beginning but Alexa used the weapons to make a comeback. Alexa was firmly in control of the match when Mickie tried to hand her a weapon, but Nattie chose this point- when Mickie was not doing anything wrong- to get involved and attacked Mickie. Alexa went over to help Mickie, so Ronda Rousey jumped the barricade to help Ronda Rousey's Friend Natalya. This "help" involved carelessly throwing Mickie around to the point where I was worried that Mickie, with her sharp high heels, would wind up stepping on Nattie's face.
Ronda then chased Alexa around until Mickie nailed her with a kendo stick in the ribs a few times... and Ronda Rousey, "the Baddest Woman on the Planet" stayed down after taking punishment that we've seen multiple other women get up from. Bliss went for Twisted Bliss, but Nia caught her and went for a Samoan Drop but Mickie hit her with a chair. Alexa then hit Nia with a few chair shots, hit her Snap DDT onto a chair, and pinned Nia to retain the title. Despite the fact that Ronda Rousey jumped the barricade, not one person came out to try to stop her. And for anyone is tries to say that the fact that she was only suspended from Raw but not from Extreme Rules means that there is nothing wrong with her interfering, then why did she have to buy a ticket in the first place instead of hanging around backstage like usual?
Whoever laid this match out is a moron. Aside from the aforementioned issue with Nattie's attack of Mickie, we had the babyface being the one who spent most of the match preventing weapons from being used, and the timing of Nattie's involvement meant that if we ask ourselves what would have happened if no one interfered at all, the evidence is in favor of Alexa- the heel- winning by merely following the rules, which kills Nia off as a challenger. Having Mickie actually attack Nia when Nia was about to win to start things off would have been much better (you can then blow Alexa vs. Nia off tomorrow night on Raw with Alexa winning, as they noted that Ronda would still be suspended, and it's clear that WWE doesn't give a sh*t about actually resolving things on their PPVs anymore so they have no excuse to have not done it this way).
WWE WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE MATCH:
AJ Styles(c) vs. Rusev (w/Aiden English) - 7.25/10
AJ worked over Rusev's knee and overcame Aiden English's interference to win a great match. Rusev certainly held his own and the match was very exciting at points, but given the big breakout opportunity this should have been for Rusev- to go in there with one of the best in the world and at least establish himself as capable of having world title-level matches, even if he couldn't win- went unfulfilled, making this felt disappointing. Despite the announcers' constant protestations, Rusev feels like he is walking away from this match with absolutely nothing gained. This match didn't show us that Rusev (from WWE's point of view) is someone with the potential to be a big player; it told us that the upper midcard is his ceiling.
CHARLY CARUSO INTERVIEWS SETH ROLLINS - A fine promo by Seth, but this is the kind of promo that you really should be cutting on the pre-show, not wasting time on the actual PPV with it.
30-MINUTE IRONMAN MATCH FOR THE WWE INTERCONTINENTAL TITLE:
Dolph Ziggler(c) (w/Drew McIntyre) vs. Seth Rollins - 6.75/10
We're six minutes in and the crowd has already decided to ruin this one by counting down the last ten seconds of every minute and doing an annoying buzzer sound. Don't you idiots get it? The more you do this same stupid bullsh*t for matches that aren't Roman's, the more your opposition to Roman looks like blind contrarianism rather than actually opposition to Vince's choice.
Seth went up 2-0. Drew then attacked him right in front of the referee, who- after getting Drew off of Seth, called for the bell. After the fall was announced and added to the clock, Drew went back and started attacking Seth again. This should have counted as another DQ. Ziggler crawled over to Seth and covered him after Drew hit Seth with a Claymore Kick before getting ejected. Dolph then hit Seth with a superkick... and despite this being twelve minutes into a thirty-minute match, he of course had to do his Shawn Michaels WrestleMania XII "I'm so exhausted I collapse on you" cover. Idiot.
Dolph got three falls off of Drew's attack, so it's now 3-3, less than thirteen minutes in. And now the crowd is back to their stupid count-down crap, even when Seth was building a head of steam for a dive. Dolph stopped that dive by hitting Seth in the head, then pinned him with this foot on the ropes, so we've already had seven falls less than half-way through.
AS we approached the twelve-minute mark Dolph got Seth in a sleeper hold and the fans started to chant "LET'S GO ROLLINS!" but then stopped in the middle to do the count-down. Uch. Seth hit a big move and went for a pin and the fans cheered, and my immediate response was to assume that there was a beach ball in the crowd. Are Sara Del Rey and Travis Browne still in the crowd? Can we send them out to just beat up the fans?
While I have been burying the crowd for not giving the match a chance, I will say that I didn't find most of the match to be that exciting, either. Their idea of getting a bunch of falls out of the way early to spent the last fifteen minutes building up to one fall that would really mean something was an interesting way to do an Ironman Match, but it exposes the problem with psychology in most Ironman matches that go high on falls (and especially ones that don't go a good forty-five minutes or an hour), which is that Ironman Matches inherently make pinfalls mean less than they should. The match was exciting towards the end, but the middle fourteen minutes or so were pretty dull.
We ended on a tie, with Seth hitting his finish but not having enough time left. Apparently this means it's a tie, even though when a title has been on the line in an Ironman Match that has never been the case before. Kurt then comes out and says that "the WWE Universe doesn't want to see a tie," and uses this as a pretext to order the match "restarted." If you thought the fans would have a tie, then why did you make rules that allowed for a tie rather than going to sudden death like has been done in the past?
Kurt ordered the match "restarted," which seems like it should mean that we're getting another thirty minutes, but apparently it just means sudden death. Drew ran out and distracted Rollins, allowing Dolph to hit the Zig-Zag and win... so, again, the very same thing started this feud in the first place. Despite McIntyre having been ejected from ringside earlier in the match, this presence did not cause the referee to disqualify Ziggler, nor did Kurt Angle come out and once again restart the match, resulting in Kurt looking like a moron because he picked a stip that would in no way neutralize prevent the situation that made their previous match unfair, and now that same situation has occurred again, resulting in the babyface once again being screwed.
A TERRIBLE PPV from WWE. Easily worse than Backlash. I've been complaining for months about how repetitive all of WWE's feuds are- and especially in the past month, when they don't even have their "we're building to all of these MITB matches (and we're being lazy about it)" and tonight, at the PPV when this sh*t is supposed to finally progress to the next stage- or even, G-d forbid, blow off- we just got even more of the same sh*t on the finishes to many of the matches. Then, on some of the others, they seemed to be purposely handicapping themselves either with pointless story stuff, lack of time, or both, or straight up didn't give us the match. Even the matches that didn't get hamstring like Roman vs. Lashley, the Ironman Match, and AJ vs. Rusev didn't deliver to the level they needed to, making an already bad PPV extremely disappointing as well.
Come on, WWE! Just because you're going to be getting a sh*t-load of money in rights fees from USA and Fox next year doesn't mean that you have to deliver a terrible PPV/Network product. Profit and quality are not opposites. The WWE Network is obviously important to you because you keep offering people a free month of it in the hopes that they'll forget to cancel their subscriptions when that month is up. Do you really think that putting on terrible shows like this is going to convince them that the WWE Network is worth paying for?