It was a beast of a pay per-view, hence the late review. Who has four hours to catch up on a PPV on a school night?
The biggest disappointment right off the bat was the tag match between the Usos and the New Day being bumped to the pre-show, which has actually been touted as the tag team match of the year. Based on their match at Battleground I’m not surprised but I think the Battlegournd match was better. Everyone is talking about it though, and in case you missed it you can watch it here (providing someone doesn’t order a take down):
John Cena v Baron Corbin
I’m not sure who loves the John Cena sucks chant more, the fans or Cena himself. The guy still has one of the strongest personalities in the WWE and in saying that I think the matchup with Corbin is a bit one sided.
There’s rumours Corbin isn’t winning any friends in the locker room at the moment and I’m unsure why this match is even a thing. It’s a thin storyline to say the least, Corbin lost his Money in the Bank the week before against Jinder Mahal and Cena distracted him. So he wants revenge.
At least Cena is having some fun with it.
It’s not that Corbin is a bad wrestler and he does everything right as far as being an unlikeable heel but I think his personality or charisma is still down in NXT and it needs to lift at this level. Tonight, he’s trying. About halfway through the match the crowd start to react to him.
Corbin puts a wicked choke slam backbreaker on Cena at one stage and it’s great. Cena almost wins with an attitude adjustment but Corbin reverses into a deep six. Cena doesn’t miss on his next attempt though and its over.
It’s a decent curtain raiser.
SmackDown Women’s Championship
Natalya v Naomi
All the best stuff from the women’s division has been happening over on RAW so I’m keen to see SmackDown lift it’s game. I’m also keen to see the title change hands. It’s about time for Natalya and the glow in the dark doof doof schtick from Naomi is getting tired. Smack Down women’s division needs a bit of a shot in the arm.
Also, has Natalya put fake tan in her armpits? Weird.
It goes outside of the ring early and after being dropeed on her arse in the middle of the ring. Excuse the pun. Naomi goes outside and puts a blockbuster on Natalya from the steel steps. It’s a nice way to set the tone.
These girls are delivering a solid match. Natalya slows it down towards the middle. There seems to be an almost botched bodyslam that sees Namoi take the bump closer to her neck and head than her shoulders. She comes back from it ok but takes another hard bump when she falls backwards from the second rope. Naomi has some exciting moves but the armchair critic in me wonders if she takes those bumps as clean as she should.
It’s not a fast match but there’s some big hits and bigger bumps.
Natalya puts Naomi into the Sharpshooter in the middle of the ring and I thought she had her but she fights to the ropes with a spectacular summersaulting reveal. She’s not so lucky the second time round and finds herself back in the middle of the ring and taps out.
I wanted Natalya to win, but after seeing the fake tan smeared into her armpits, I’d prefer she not put her hands in the air until she washes that shit off.
A solid match but nothing to write home about.
Winner (and new SmackDown Women’s champ): Natalya.
Big Cass v Big Show (featuring Enzo in a shark cage)
The heel turn from Big Cass was spectacular. The subsequent feud with Enzo and the Big Show has been boring as shit. For this match, Enzo is to be suspended in a shark cage above the ring to prevent him from interfering.
Enzo comes out, tries to get the crowd to pop. Fails. He usually goes ok on the mic but the vibe from the crowd tonight tells me that even though he’s in his home own they’re tiring of his shit. Shut up and get on with it.
Cass cuts it short by entering the arena. Big Show should change his name to Big SLOW. Enzo talks shit through the entire match, it’s really annoying.
Big Slow has an injured hand, is it legit? Doubtful, more a plot device for him not being able to use the KO punch he’s famous for. At any rate, it slows the match down even more. There’s nothing about this rivalry that has worked as far as I am concerned and this match can’t end quickly enough.
Maybe there’ll be some big surprise here?
Enzo’s strips off and covers himself with baby oil to try and slip through the bars of the cage. He succeeds.
Well, that was interesting. Cass boots him in the head like he has done several times before and the he boots the Big Slow. Who kicks out, another surprise I guess.
A second big boot and an Empire Elbow finishes the Big Slow off and Cass wins.
Winner: Big Cass, please let this be over now.
Randy Orton v Rusev
Another match I have little interest in and another rivalry that really isn’t going anywhere.
This is why Summerslam is a four hour long blowout this year.
Rusev comes out of nowhere and ambushes Orton mid pose. Awesome! Rusev is a viscious performer and I love it when he’s fired up. Tonight is one of those occasions before the match starts. When they finally get back into the ring and start the match, Randy RKO’s Rusev immediately and gets the pin.
Hilarious! Hardly a match but that was actually pretty great!
There goes my argument about wasting time.
Although Randy always overstays his welcome when he enters and leaves the ring.
Winner: Randy Orton, from out of nowhere!
Raw Women’s Championship
Sahsa Banks v Alexa Bliss
I’m looking forward to this match immensely, I’m a huge fan of Alexa Bliss, who has proven to be a great worker in the ring and with her character. Banks is no slouch either.
Sahsa Banks comes out looking like a frilled neck lizard in her ring attire. Bliss struts out with her trademark confidence/arrogance.
Bailey was supposed to be in this match, quite frankly I’m glad she’s not, I think a lot of fans are given their recent response to her.
The match is off to a firey start with fists and pink hair flying everywhere.
Bliss is a monster in the ring and she savages Banks. Both are fantastic at selling and the match seems so much more precise than their SmackDown counterparts.
Bliss is a pissed off pocket rocket throughout the entire match, screaming at the referee. Every woman knows how to give that glare that terrifies men, where they know they are up to their eyeballs in shit and Bliss is a black belt in the art of said glare.
Banks turns the match around a few times but on each occasion Bliss comes back hard until she flips Bliss neck first into the top turnbuckle. From there she almost cinches the Bank statement but Bliss escapes.
It nearly goes to a countout when Banks is flung from the ring and sells a shoulder injury in brilliant fashion.
Bliss lands a move off the top rope right on Banks and pins her but she kicks out. The crowd pops. Banks turns it around, locks the Bank Statement and Alexa taps out and relinquishes the title.
Another great match by these guys, I reckon the only thing that would have made it better if they broke the WWE’s blading policy!
Winner (and new Raw Women’s Champion) Sasha Banks
…Ok. I’m gonna pretend I didn’t just see that KFC ad with Sean Michaels dressed as Colonel Sanders.
Finn Balor v Bray Wyatt
Finally, we’re getting into some matches with some decent storylines to back them up.
This is a rivalry that can work, except for the fact that poor Bray Wyatt is going to remain in his rut because the WWE loves Finn Balor. It’s exciting that he’s bringing the demon king gimmick back for this match but it also makes the result a forgone conclusion.
I would LOVE for Wyatt to convert the Demon King and have Balor turn heel, thus saving Bray’s character and pushing both characters to almost Undertaker level evil!
It’s not gonna happen though.
The Demon King only comes out on special occasions and Balor is supposed to win on those occasions.
Let’s hope the match lives up to the promos and entrances. The theatrical fog around the ring is a nice touch.
The crowd are pumped for this and both wrestlers take the appropriate time to let them build up before they kick the match off. Balor definitely kicks it up a notch when he inhabits this character.
It’s a decent match, with some very capable dudes. It does seem a bit weird though.
Wyatt has a couple of unsuccessful attempts at Sister Abigail but Balor counters each time. Likewise Balor gets some big hits on Wyatt but he manages to counter. It’s even.
Wyatt tries to psych Balor out with his freaky bridge, Balor is unphased, administers a sling blade, follows up with a coup degras and it’s over.
I’m not 100 per cent sold on Balor. I thought that match might have sealed the deal but it didn’t. It all seems a little camp, not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Winner: Finn Balor
RAW Tag Team Championship
Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins v Sheamus & Cesaro
The build to Rollins and Ambrose burying the hatchet and uniting to take on the RAW tag champs is A-Grade WWE storytelling. The crowd pop on RAW last week when they finally united was incredible.
I’ve got high hopes for this match.
It’s about time someone bumped Sheamus and Cesaro off their perch too, although they have been unlikely and decent pairing as a tag team from a character perspective. I have to say though, none of their matches have really stood out to me. I did enjoy Shaemus kicking out Jeff Hardy’s tooth though.
The match gets dirty when Shaemus brogue kicks Ambrose outside the ring and then they catch Rollins mid air when he attempts a suicide dive and slam him on the floor. It sets them up to dominate Rollins as Ambrose spends a significant amount of time out from the Brogue Kick.
The biggest crowd pop of the night so far happens spectacularly when Cesaro dashes out into the WWE Universe to grab and destroy a beachball the fans have been throwing around. It’s great showmanship. I have to hand it to him.
Ambrose comes to and returns to the apron and we have the classic, make the tag tension build up happening. It never fails and Ambrose’s intensity makes it even better. By the time he’s tagged in he’s nuts.
What follows is double suicide dives, double team Slingblades. Thunderous uppercuts, pins, kickouts, clotheslines. Sheamus gets trapped in the wrong corner and it’s a double team frog splash and a pin that is foiled by Cesaro.
The ref has very ittle to do with most matches but this bloke isn’t really doing much of a job as far as even looking like a ref.
Ambrose takes a tonne of punishment at the hands of the champs with some wicked double team moves and now it’s Rollin’s turn to foil the pinfall.
This is a long arse match but it ends in a flurry with Rollins and Ambrose administering super kicks, an almost botched top rope manouvre, knew to the jaw of Shaemus and dirty deeds from Ambrose for the pinfall.
Winners (and new RAW tag team champs): Rollins and Ambrose
USA Championship Match
Kevin Owens v A.J. Styles
Shane O’Mac as the ref for Styles and Owens, two of the best on the roster.
I am an unashamed fan of Kevin Owens. Yep, I even bought the t-shirt.
Owens has a sensibility that reminds me of some of the old school wrestlers I loved in the 80s. He’s a fan like us, he’s no bodybuilder, he’s just a wrestler and his passion shines through in his character and his matches.
I expect this match will be rad!
The match kicks off before the bell and Shane struggles to get control, manhandling the competitors. The crowd love it.
Shane is hilarious as ref, his facial expressions at some of the bigger moves are priceless.
It’s also good to see some nice big loud chops in a match, they don’t do that enough these days. Both of these guys work hard to sell the impact of each and every move, not just visually but also aurally. Owens is chopping the shit out of Styles.
Styles’ fireman’s carry neckbraker never ceases to amaze and it’s even more, dare I say, phenomenal when he administers it on a big bloke like Owens.
There’s a sunset flip powerbomb from the second rope that looks like it may have genuinely concussed Owens followed by a spectacular 450 splash that collects both Shane and Owens and creates chaos.
Shane gets taken out a second time and Styles puts Owens in the calf crusher, Ownes taps but there’s no ref. Both wrestlers are getting frustrated with the referee and you get the feeling it’s going to boil over. Of course it is.
The best thing is you have absolutely no idea how this is going to end up, and that’s what a good match is all about.
Owens executes a perfect suplex off the top turnbuckle and Styles kicks out late into a two count! Spectacular!
This is a fucking great match.
Shane botches a count an Owens explodes at him which cause him to lose focus, Styles capitalises on the distraction, nails him with the Phenomenal Forearm and a Styles splash.
Winner (and still United States Champion): A.J. Styles
Shinsuke Nakamura v Jinder Mahal
Jinder’s had a good run but the push for Nakamura is undeniable. The WWE want him up there and the fans love him. I still don’t get it. I think he’s sloppy, as was evidence by him nearly killing John Cena a couple of weeks ago when he dropped him on his neck in a botch that could have been a lot worse.
The reach of Mahal to a potential 1.3 billion Indian people is also a pretty alluring prospect for the WWE. It makes good economic sense to keep him there for a while.
Either way the WWE Championship will remain offshore, so to speak.
Nakamura’s entrance drives me nuts, I know I am alone with this criticism because the crowd absolutely love it to death. For me it’s almost as annoying as Randy Orton’s. Cut the shit and get on with it.
Jinder comes out looking suitably juiced, in spite of his claims that his physique comes down to exercise and diet. I feel like Nakamura may be forced to tap if his face gets smooshed too hard against Jinder’s backne.
The beginning of the match consists of lots o taunting and very little wrestling but the fans eventually strike up a decent chant to get Nakamura going. Mahal takes it outside and where the Sing brothers of course prove to be a nuisance.
Even though I’ve seen Mahal in plenty of matches I feel like I haven’t really seenhim wrestle that much. Of course that’s not true, but he’s there to raise the ire of the fan. Whatever wrestling ability he’s got is often overshadowed by dirty tricks and the Sing brothers.
I’m still trying to work out Nakamura, and the match really isn’t doing much for me as a result. I also feel that Mahal could be doing a better job of selling the strikes he Nakamura nails him with.
Guess how it ends?
The Singh brothers interfere, Jinder gets enough time to recover and puts the Khallas on Nakamura and gets the win.
Winner (and still WWE Champion): Jinder Mahal
WWE Universal Championship Fatal Four Way
Roman Reigns v Braun Strowman v Samoa Joe v Brock Lesnar
There’s what I would like to see happen in this match and there’s what actually is going to happen. No way Lesnar loses this match.
Would it be cool to see Strowman or Joe go over, you bet. Anyone but Roman Reigns though.
Lesnar is too big of a draw, and as soon as Heyman and Lesnar threatened to walk away from the WWE if he lost they basically spoiled the plot of this match.
I still like the idea of this one though.
The fans love Joe and Braun. Joe gets a huge pop from the crowd as he walks out.
Roman Reigns does not, the fans just hate the guy, and to be honest I wonder how the dude manages to hold his head up night in, night out with that much heat from the fans. It’s not who the WWE want Reigns to be and I have my suspicion, as do a lot of fans, that they’re going to give him the title at Wrestlemania this year, which will suck.
Lesnar comes out to a mediocre reaction but Heyman pulls the crowd up when he introduces him.
First man to make a successful pinfall wins the title. I think this is going to be a bit of a clusterfuck. We’ll see.
Immediately Lesnat takes on Joe and Strowman goes for Reigns. Lesnar is a beast though, each gets their turn and Lesnar dispenses Joe and Reigns pretty quickly, the crowd go nuts when Strowman squares off against him.
That’s what we want to see, Strowman v Lesnar.
The match is frantic. It spills outside and opponents are going through barricades and announcer’s tables.
Strowman powerslams Lesnar through the announcer’s table and it is amazing.
Strowman is the showstopper in this match and throws an office chair into Reigns and Joe and then puts Lesnar through another announcers table.
Could it be that Lesnar isn’t going to make it?
Strowman follows up by dumping a third announcer’s table on Lesnar.
This is awesome!
Medics some out with a stretcher and Lesnar looks fucked. They remove Lesanr from the match. The crowd are going apeshit!
Strowman turns to the other two and beats the shit out them with the steel steps. He is amazing.
Unfortunately Regins is in this match and stages a comeback against Strowman which sucks the momentum out of the match temporarily.
Joe get Reigns in the Coquina Clutch bit Strowman is back from a little rest and double choke slams both of them
Suddenly Lesnar storms back to the ring from back stage and is back in the match.
These big blokes are flying around the ring like guys half their size. The only thing that really spoils the match is the fucking Superman Punch from Reigns, it is such an an unconvincing finisher.
Joe gets Lesnar in the Coquina Clutch in the middle of the ring but he reverses into the F5. Lesnar pins Joe and it’s foiled by Reigns and again we’re subjected to the fucking dumb as shit Superman Punch and spear routine.
This time Lesnar catches Reigns and delivers and F5 for the win. Reigns is pinned and Lesnar retains the title.
Good. This was a phenomenal match but Reigns and that Superman Punch sucks. I have to knock a point off for that and the fact Strowman didn’t win.
Winner (and still undistputed Universal Champion): Brock Lesnar