LADDER MATCH FOR THE WWE INTERCONTINENTAL TITLE:
Jeff Hardy(c) vs. Sami Zayn vs. AJ Styles - 9/10
This was your typical crazy ladder match… and then they took it in a completely different direction by doing a whole bunch of extremely clever things with handcuffs that I’m not going to spoil, but were all brilliant and amazingly creative, to the point where that alone caused me to add an additional 0.5/10 to this. Absolutely BRILLIANT!
THEY WASTE MY TIME ON A PPV WITH DUMB 24/7 TITLE CRAP - On the bright side, this ended with Drew Gulak winning the title, so there is at least a chance that he will do the smart thing and chuck that piece of sh*t off a bridge.
WWE RAW WOMEN’S TITLE MATCH:
Asuka(c) vs. Zelina Vega - 6/10
This was a really great little match for seven minutes. Zelina worked over the arm and proved herself to be a very crafty competitor. The real story here was that everyone- Asuka, the announcers, me, and probably many other fans- underestimated Zelina.
POST-MATCH PROMO - Good. Asuka showed Zelina respect in a post-match promo and offered a handshake. Zelina bowed to her, but then attacked her, so Asuka cut an angry promo on her in Japanese. This almost felt necessary to stop Zelina from coming off like a babyface, but I don’t quite see where the feud can go from here, either, as despite her great effort, Zelina did lose cleanly.
WWE UNITED STATES TITLE MATCH:
Bobby Lashley(c) (w/MVP & Shelton Benjamin) vs. Apollo Crews (w/Ricochet) - 5.25/10
Before the match we got a fine promo from Crews which the announcers framed as Crews telling us why regaining the US Title was so important to him. This is the sort of promo that belongs on the TV leading up the PPV, not on the PPV itself when people have already decided if their going to buy the show (or subscribe to the WWE watch the show) or not!
Lashley won cleanly. Can this feud be over now please?
WWE RAW TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH:
Street Profits(c) vs. Andrade “Cien” Almas & Angel Garza - 6.75/10
This was a great “action” match with a horribly botched finish, as Andrade kicked out well before the ref’s hand came down the third time but the ref called for the bell anyway, and Dawkins was clearly confused when he heard the bell ring and his music start playing. Garza appeared to have injured himself and it’s fine to cut the match short for that reason, but if you’re going to do that, make sure you tell the wrestlers first so that no one kicks out when they’re not supposed to. This is the second time this has happened in WWE. Even weirder, in both cases, the wrestler being pinned wasn’t the injured wrestler so there was no reason to end the match immediately.
KAYLA BRAXTON INTERVIEWS DREW GULAK - Oh G-d, he’s getting rolled up and losing the belt back to R-Truth isn’t he?
Well… he didn’t get rolled up, but he did get attacked by Truth and pinned. And not only that, but they had him get attacked right after talking about the importance of being alert, so now they’ve made him a goof.
BAYLEY PROMO - Apparently Nikki Cross was deemed “not medically cleared to compete.” Want to give us some details on what the injury is?
Her title has to be defended tonight, so she’s having an open challenge. She then claims that time has expired and demands to be named the winner by forfeit… and here comes the referee to do it… and here comes Asuka, because apparently we haven’t seen this match enough times over the past few months.
WWE SMACKDOWN WOMEN’S TITLE MATCH:
Bayley(c) vs. Asuka - 5/10
These two worked really hard for a few minutes, and then we got an obnoxious DQ. I realize that this was just an excuse to get to the post-match segment, but there was a better way to do it. Namely, send out literally ANY OTHER BABYFACE WOMAN ON THE ROSTER and have Bayley beat her clean, then got for the post-match attack so that she can be saved in the…
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Bad. Sasha attacks Bayley from behind with a chair, like a coward. She’s still got her neck brace on, and yet no one is coming out here to separate them. Even when Bayley got the advantage, no one came out to stop the obviously not okay Sasha Banks from engaging in a brawl with weapons, which just makes it even more frustrating that they won’t even tell us what happened to Nikki. If they’re going to let Sasha brawl with people while wearing a neck brace, then Nikki’s injury has to be pretty severe for them to not clear her to wrestle.
AMBULANCE MATCH FOR THE WWE WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE:
Drew McIntyre(c) vs. Randy Orton - 6.75/10
Some idiot has decided that Drew’s music needs the sound of someone pulling a sword out of a sheath at the beginning. You know… because his move is the Claymore, and thus we have to make sure that is referenced at every possible opportunity.
The story here is that Drew’s jaw is a huge weakness, and Randy exploited that weakness early and Drew went down… and then the f*cking Big Show interfered on Drew’s behalf to even things up. Yes, it allows you to have the jaw injury storyline actually matter as well as protecting Orton to losing from someone in such a vulnerable position, but the goal here should not be to protect Randy Orton! He’s already a legend and he’s forty years old! If you’re so worried that Randy losing to Drew will make him look weak because of the jaw injury storyline, DON’T DO THE JAW INJURY STORYLINE. It’s that simple!
I don’t care that Orton put Big Show out! If you feel the need to have Big Show go for revenge on Orton, let Drew win cleanly here to win the feud, then start that feud tomorrow night on Raw!
Anyway, Drew used the time Big Show’s interference bought him to recover, then beat Randy up a bunch. He could have put him in the ambulance but instead he decided to punish Randy more… so he went to the side of the ambulance, where there was a steel chair just hanging there. Not only that, but the chair was painted red with a white medical cross on it. You know… because that’s thematic and thematic things are cool and definitely don’t make what’s supposed to be a brutal fight with the objective of incapacitating your opponent look hokey at all.
Drew took too much time going for the chairshot, allowing Randy to counter with some crutches. They fought all around the ambulance and did things that I might have enjoyed more if they hadn’t done the interference spot and had that stupid, hokey chair. They then brawled backstage, away from the ambulance, so we now can’t have any false finishes, and they’re just hitting each other. Once Orton got the advantage backstage, Christian ran in to help him, so now that’s two people who have shown up to help the babyface and none for the heel, and the heel hasn’t done anything wrong in this match!
Drew took advantage of Christian’s interfere to take control of things and got Randy back to the ambulance, but Randy was able to counter it and put him through the windshield, because that the in-thing to do in wrestling right now.
More stuff happened, Randy got the advantage again, and then Shawn Michaels showed up to screw Randy. More stuff happened. Randy hit and RKO and was about to shut the doors bit Drew fought it off. Drew came back, hit a Claymore, punted Randy, and shut the doors for the win.
I can’t deny that they told a story here, with Randy getting his comeuppance for things he had done both prior to the match (the punts, attacks on the interlopers) and within the match (the eye poke setting up the big spot). But when something you think would add a little spice to a particular story goes against your long-term business interests, then you DON’T DO IT! Yes, some other people who Randy viciously assaulted got to get revenge on him, but that is NOT more important that keeping your top babyface strong and credible, and all of these interferences played against that, as Drew needed three different people to interfere on his behalf to help him retain his title.
What’s worse is that if you’re so dead-set on these people getting their revenge on Randy, you can have the best of both worlds by holding off on doing it here and instead doing it later on in the inevitable Edge vs. Orton blow-off. Not only does that match not have consideration of keeping Drew strong and his claim to the title legitimate (you don’t need to worry about keeping Edge strong, as he’ll only be around for a few matches a year), but doing that would be better artistically because Big Show, Christian, and Shawn would all be getting revenge on Randy in the culmination of the storyline in which Randy attacked them.
And, of course, Ric Flair gets to drive the ambulance to the hospital, because helping the man who assaulted you get medical treatment is apparently revenge, somehow.
WWE 2K BATTLEGROUND COMMERCIAL - This sh*t is dumb and I wish they’d stop advertising it on PPVs, but I do want to note that the guy doing the Superman Punch out of the helicopter is probably supposed to be Roman Reigns, but he looks more like Damien Sandow.
WWE UNIVERSAL TITLE MATCH:
Roman Reigns(c) (w/Paul Heyman) vs. Jey Uso - 8.75/10
This was tremendous. Obviously there was a wrestling match going on here and the action was very good (that low blow on the kick-out was GENIUS!), but what we were really watching here was it slowly being revealed just how rotten Roman Reigns really is inside right now. He mad managed to keep it hidden over the past few weeks on Smackdown, with that assault of Jey on the last few minutes of the go-home show being just a hint, but there is an argument that that was just a heelish way of doing business. The person we saw in the ring tonight was just a bullying, unlikable piece of sh*t human being. Everything we had seen going into this match was him being a condescending jerk, and that’s who he was for most of this match, too, though the condescension got more pronounced as the match wore on. But then, at the end, we saw that he’s much more than that. He’s an asshole and a bully who was going to just keep beating on his own flesh and blood until his cousin called him this stupid “tribal chief” nickname he’s created for himself.
Jey was very good in his role, too, but Jimmy Uso was even better in his little interaction with Roman, and having Jimmy give in and then Roman throw about three extra punches at Jey anyway… what a f*cking piece of sh*t. This is Heel of the Year stuff. The drama here was definitely hurt by the fact that everyone knew there was no way in hell the title was changing hands, but what they were going to lose in drama they were sure to make up for in emotion.
This was a surprisingly good show from WWE. I don’ remember the last time we got two matches I put at 8.75/10 or higher on a main roster show, and I certainly wasn’t expecting Roman vs. Jey to deliver. Some of the other matches were certainly ruined by overbooking or an injury leading to a botched finish, but Vega vs. Asuka was also surprisingly good, and even matches that took a wrong turn were mostly good up until the wrong turn happened, as opposed to starting off bad and then having an even worse finish. This show being good still doesn’t have me optimistic on the booking, but think that it does have me a little more optimistic on the ability of the PPVs to deliver despite the booking.<