Much talking from the panel happened, as well as the showing of video packages we’ve all seen a million times already. New Day cut a great promo.
WWE CRUISERWEIGHT TITLE MATCH:
Drew Gulak(c) vs. Humberto Carrillo vs. Lincé Dorado - 6.5/10
Gulak wins, pinning Lincé, saving the Gulak vs. Carrillo showdown for 205 Live where it will get more time. It’s really sad that they have to save big matches for their TV show because Vince won’t give them enough time on the PPVs.
SASHA & BAYLEY PROMO - Yeah… they already sound like regular one-note WWE characters.
WWE UNITED STATES TITLE MATCH:
AJ Styles(c) (w/the OC) vs. Cedric Alexander - 4/10
They put AJ Styles and Cedric Alexander on the f*cking pre-show, and didn’t even give it five minutes. That’s criminal negligence right there. AJ dominated most of it, won clean, and then the heels beat Cedric down and no one made the save for him. This is how WWE treats a babyface in his/her home town.
WWE RAW TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH:
Seth Rollins & Braun Strowman(c) vs. Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode - 6.25/10
Heels win when Strowman accidentally pushes Roode into Rollins, allowing Rollins to get hit with Roode’s finisher for the win. Predictable? Yes. But at least it both gets the belts off of Seth and Braun while also setting up a future challenger for the title with either babyface.
CHARLY CARUSO INTERVIEWS BRAUN STROWMAN - Good. He says that “I didn’t lose the tag team titles; Seth Rollins did,” notes that Seth is on a losing streak, and vows to make that continue in their Universal Title match later tonight.
KAYLA BRAXTON INTERVIEWS BECKY LYNCH - Great promo by Becky.
WWE SMACKDOWN WOMEN’S TITLE MATCH:
Bayley(c) vs. Charlotte Flair - 3/10
Major props to Bayley for still positively interacting with fans at ringside. The gimmick is, after all, that fans who don’t understand what she is doing are being manipulated by her, so her reinforcing their like of her rather than engaging in typical heel behavior plays into that.
The match was short by design and fine for the time it got. Bayley won after sending Charlotte’s head into an exposed turnbuckle. Having Charlotte dominate the match and Bayley on win by cheating did a good job of allowing Bayley to feel like the heel while preventing Charlotte from feeling like too much a babyfaces… because she hasn’t actually done anything to turn yet.
WWE SMACKDOWN TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH:
New Day (Xavier Woods & Big E.)(c) vs. The Revival - 6.5/10
Revival win pretty much cleanly, making Woods tap out. That seems unnecessary to do to a babyface, but it’s a clean loss so I can’t complain too much. After the match The Revival cut a promo that wasn’t bad or anything like that, but was also entirely pointless.
ALEXA BLISS! & NIKKI CROSS PROMO - Truth and Carmella showed up, with Truth trying to disguise himself as a boom mic operator but he’s too incompetent to hold it whre it’s supposed to be, so Alexa grabs it announces to everyone that R-Truth is right here, so everyone who wants the 24/7 Title should grab a referee and come find him. In a normal promotion Truth would have yelled at Alexa for stooging him off and then running away. In WWE, that happens, and then all of the 24/7 goofs immediately run by in pursuit, because they’re worried we won’t get the joke if we don’t see all of the goofs running past.
WWE WOMEN’S TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH:
Alexa Bliss! & Nikki Cross(c) vs. Fire & Desire - 4.5/10
Even with something as simple as the heel calling the babyface ugly, WWE can’t help but turn their announcers’ outrage up to eleven. Yes, Renee. Mandy said something mean to Nikki. You screaming in outrage about how Mandy is supposed to be “building other women up” only makes YOU look like an idiot because you are somehow shocked that Mandy Rose said something mean to someone when she has been a bad person pretty much every moment of her WWE career. Are you really shocked that the woman who spent MONTHS last fall trying to ruin Jimmy and Naomi’s marriage would make fun of someone’s looks?
This match happened. The babyfaces won clean when Nikki pinned Mandy. I wish they would give all four of these women more interesting things to do.
During this match we got a run-in by the 24/7 goofs. As part of this run-in, Truth got into the ring, while the referee kept the rest of the goofs at bay with a simple scolding. Why are they even listening to this referee?
WWE INTERCONTINENTAL TITLE MATCH:
Shinsuke Nakamura(c) (w/Sami Zayn) vs. The Miz - 4.5/10
Nakamura’s outfit is fantastically douchy. Especially that cape. Miz worked the knee and looked for the figure four. Zayn got involved, ultimately resulting in a spot that could have been a borderline DQ but Sami wasn’t even ejected from ringside. This was done to not only give Miz and visual pinfall but also to set up him chasing Sami around the ring so tht he could be distracted when Nakamura beat him.
They hyped up the draft that will be happening after SD moves to Fox. Enough people have pointed out that mere weeks after the last draft happened they created a rule to make it irrelevant so instead of commenting on that, I’ll take this in a different direction and point out that if they want us to think of this draft as the big deal they claim it will be, the least they could do is actually tell us that the Wildcard Rule will no longer be a thing.
That being said, the fact that they are actually calling it a “draft” rather than a “Superstar Shake-up” is an encouraging sign.
WWE RAW WOMEN’S TITLE MATCH:
Becky Lynch(c) vs. Sasha Banks - 7/10
This really should have been the main event, just in terms of being the match that feels the biggest. Then again, with this f*cking finish, it probably shouldn’t have been. Then again, they shouldn’t have done this f*cking finish at all.
They had a great brawl while chasing their signature submissions. Then we got the ref bumps, which consisted of the referee crumping from a medium shot to the arm. They brawled into the crowd and all the way to the concessions stands before coming back, all off of this one ref bump. I think they were trying to break the records set by Triple H vs. Undertaker at WrestleMania X-Seven.
After they brawled a bunch, Cole told us that Becky had been DQed for hitting the referee with the chair. DQed by WHO? By people watching from the back? Well then why don’t those people make any other calls? Why didn’t they step in and make the call when Sasha hit Becky with a chair earlier in the match?
The big brawled ended with Becky destroying Sasha and then things getting broken up by the referees, and finally Greg Hamilton finally announcing the decision to the crowd. So we gave the people a f*ck finish in a big title match on PPV, had our new big heel get destroyed, and disappointed the people by breaking up a fight, ALL FOR NO GAIN WHATSOEVER. The rating I gave this match was earned solely by the efforts of the workers, who managed to deliver an exciting match despite the booking seemingly being designed to kill the reaction they got at the end.
WWE WORLD HEAVYWEIGHTT TITLE MATCH:
Kofi Kingston(c) vs. Randy Orton - 8/10
This was an awesome “world championship match,” with all of the associated connotations of slow build and big moves that feel like they mean something. This is the match they really should have had at SummerSlam. If you want to turn it into the sort of heated feud they spent this match month building up (and which this match quite frankly didn’t reflect), the best way to do it would have been to have Kofi defend against someone else this month while rebuilding Orton and getting over the build to defeat Kofi as some sort of obsessive desire with him, then do the build WWE did this month for next month to build up to Hell in a Cell.
THE STREET PROFITS PUT OVER KING OF THE RING AND KING BOOKER SHOWS UP - A waste of time. Is this really a version of Booker T that people pop for? Really?
NO DISQUALIFICATIONS MATCH:
Roman Reigns vs. Erick Rowan - 7.75/10
They brawled on the outside a lot and Rowan dominated with his power. At one point he pulled up the padding by the apron and slammed Roman’s face into the edge of the LED board, which we all know is the hardest part of the LED board. This was actually turning into a really compelling brawl when Luke Harper made his big return and ran in to help Rowan, which killed everything for me, because it’s yet another repackaging of these two together. It’s shows a frustrating lack of creativity on the part of WWE.
They showed a commercial for that Sasha Banks WWE Chronicle documentary on the WWE Network. Just the clips they showed totally killed anything cool or rebellious or even vicious about Sasha’s character by exposing to us that the over-emotional crier we saw before Mania is, in fact, the real Sasha, and what she’s doing now is all a character.
SETH ROLLINS INTERVIEW - Fine.
WWE UNIVERSAL TITLE MATCH:
Seth Rollins(c) vs. Braun Strowman - 7/10
A great match based around the size difference, but it was definitely hurt by the fact that Roman and Rowan felt like they did a better version of this in the previous match. The imagine of Braun doing the top-rope splash is one I’d expect to see in video packages for quite a while and the finish felt sufficiently overkill-y to put Braun down.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Snore. Seth is predictably attacked by The Fiend. I’m sorry, but I’m not excited by light shows and audio effects. Get ready for this same thing to happen every week for the next four weeks.
This was a mixed bag show from WWE. It started off as a middling to bad paint-by-numbers episode of Raw or SD that happened to be on the Network, but actually got pretty damn good for the last four matches. The booking was pretty frustrating throughout and I was disappointed by their choices of which matches weren’t given much time (the US Title match in particular) but I have to admit because my overall impression at the end was positive due to the top of the card delivering, even if it wasn’t to a NJPW-like level.<