Ugh…okay, this is a few days late, because, motivation is hard to come by when you’re given nothing to work with. No one gets out of bed for dry toast and cranberry juice…and that’s basically what this WWE Pay-per-View was.
Our head honcho, Greg DeMarco said on his podcast (Outside Interference), that it had the potential to be sneaky good. Well…nope, this was the uninspired and insipid void of 4 hours that WWE has become infamous for lately. But don’t take my word for it, let’s go to map! I mean…card…yup:
Intercontinental Championship: Seth Rollins (c) vs The Miz
So the opening matches lately have been extremely solid, and this one was no exception.
It starts off a little slow, but picks up with some nice big spots, a big miss on the Ripcord Knee on the apron, and Seth Rollins kicking out of two Skull Crushing Finales. Since WrestleMania, The Miz has proven he can put on some pretty fantastic matches without needing outside interference. Yes, he hasn’t been able to manage a victory, but they could be building something.
Not really sure how the Intercontinental scene shakes out after this match, but my guess would be Finn Balor breaking out the Demon…since they haven’t really put much effort into anyone else yet.
Winner: Rollins via Blackout
Rating: **** 1/4
Raw Women’s Championship: Nia Jax (c) vs Alexa Bliss
Alexa’s Moment of Bliss vignettes were the best thing leading up to this match.
The match was what we had to expect. Alexa tried a few quick shots on Nia’s knee, but eventually got over powered. Best spot of this match was when Alexa pushed Nia to the outside and then DDT’d her into the steps.
Still though, not a good match, but about what we expect from a Nia Jax match.
Winner: Nia Jax via Samoan Drop
Rating: * 1/2
United States Championship: Jeff Hardy (c) vs Randy Orton
Speaking of matches where we got what we expected…Jeff Hardy vs Randy Orton everyone.
There was nothing wrong with this match, both guys got their moves in, it was paced alright, just never picked up. As we get from Orton a lot, it was a methodically paced match, that ends quickly after a missed RKO attempt.
Winner: Jeff Hardy via Swanton Bomb
Rating: ** 3/4
At this point we get Elias, who appears to be preparing for a song, but he gets interrupted by a cavalcade of irritation. New Day, Rusev Day, No Way Jose with Titus Worldwide and Fashion Police on his conga line, then lastly Bobby Roode to plant him with a Glorious DDT. This segment was 20 minutes of useless, over blown attempts at humor. It was out of place and helped to drive the stake into the enjoyment of this show.
Daniel Bryan vs Big Cass
By this point in the show, a nap really seems nice. Now that’s not anything negative to Daniel Bryan, but Cass isn’t known to be a great worker, and the finish to the match was a little obvious.
Bryan fights from underneath nearly the entire time, eventually chops down the big man and locks in the Yes Lock. Daniel kinda told us this was gonna happen from his comment about “Everyone’s the same height when they’re tapping out”.
Winner: Bryan via Yes Lock
Rating: ** 1/2
SmackDown Women’s Title: Carmella (c) vs Charlotte Flair
So if you took my advice last match about the nap, continue it here.
Charlotte does her usual stuff, it looks a little sloppy at times but Charlotte is shown as the dominant force. It’s not until she misses a moonsault and “jams her knee” that Carmella gets a legitimate opening. A swift kick to the back of Charlotte’s knee and Carmella folds her up, for her first title defense.
Stupid finish, especially since we saw Seth Rollins fight through Miz working over his knee and taking two finishers, so it sets a weird precedent for a Women’s Evolution.
Winner: Carmella via Jacknife Hold
WWE Championship Match: Shinsuke Nakamura vs AJ Styles (c)
The stipulation got added, thanks to Nakamura’s propensity to hit low blows. This was the best match they’ve had to date in WWE, but sadly the ending wasn’t fantastic.
We saw a lot of nice back and forth on top of both men playing their characters very well. AJ got slowly frustrated and Shinsuke had his old fun flavor with the stiff cruelty of his Japanese days. Sadly, I have to give Corey credit for being right, when he talked about this heel version of Shinsuke, being what we all knew and loved.
A big highlight spot was Styles throwing the chair into Shinsuke’s knee and having it ricochet off of his face. Then that got followed up with Nakamura placing the chair nicely to hit his Reverse Power Slam onto the chair.
Sufficed to say, this match was building beautifully, we finally got both guys hitting low blows which helped to validate the NoDQ stipulation…and then…the ending happened. WHY, WHY is it another no contest? Stipulation like this are supposed to indicate a blow off, not drawing things out to pop a rating on SmackDown or milk it for another PPV.
Winner: No Contest
Rating: *** 3/4
Braun Strowman & Bobby Lashley vs Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn
Now we’ve seen a few iterations of these guys facing each other, and nothing interesting in this match.
Sure, you can try to argue that the Zayn/Owens disagreement is a wrinkle, but it did nothing. Not to mention these tag matches keep making Bobby Lashley look significantly weaker than Braun, and that’s not smart for a returning ‘Dominator’.
So a generic power move wins the match, on a man who wasn’t legal in the match and the crowd didn’t even pop for the formulaic Braun destruction afterwards. This was just a waste of time.
Winner: Lashley via Stalling Suplex
Rating: * 3/4
Roman Reigns vs Samoa Joe
So this match had the best chance to go either way. Joe seems to be favored by fans and executives alike, on top of having a pretty lop sided record against Roman Reigns.
It started off great before the bell with a big Uranage, sending Reigns through a table. We got the Joe’s gonna kill you moment, and it looked to be moving towards a way that would send fans home happy. But silly rabbits, Trix are for kids.
We get a bunch of stalling spots with Reigns in sleeper holds and Coquina Clutches (even seemingly tapping out, but that’s a different story), so with the slow down, it lost the crowd. And much like the WrestleMania match, the crowd didn’t care, hijacked the show at times and voiced their displeasure when the Samoan Sex Machine eventually went over.
Winner: Reigns via Spear
Rating: *** 1/2
Aside from the opening match, the rest of the card was received poorly for one reason or the other. The WWE Championship match had the potential to be the best match, but the finish was abrupt and a no contest for the second match in a row, is intellectually insulting. As for the main event, we could’ve seen Joe continue his dominance over Roman, but instead, they give him a rather hollow win in a decent, but fairly boring match.
The PPV was average at best, but due to poor finishes, the overwhelming reaction is negative. I wasn’t a fan of the show, but I don’t think it was the worst thing ever. Just, heavily uninspired with not very creative match layouts.
A positive spin is obviously that it can only really get better, but, you can only disappoint people so long before the “too big to fail” label starts to get challenged.