The fact that we, in Belgium, went to winter hour this weekend allowed me to watch most of the card live for once (I’m usually fast asleep by the time these things start). So was it worth it? Let’s take a look.
The pre-show match was fun, as expected. We had a good showing by most, as expected. Cesaro once again proved he’s one hell of a wrestler, as expected. But, unless something major changes in the coming RAW’s, it will ultimately be felt as pointless because none of the talent involved has any direction, creative support or anything even remotely interesting to do for the time being. As expected. And that’s a shame.
Well, no-one saw that coming, I’ll give WWE that. The return of Alberto Del Rio had been hinted in recent weeks, but, as far as we knew, the two sides were only talking about the possibility of an eventual return somewhere along the line. It now seems those talks were a tad more specific. And nothing wrong with that. We wrestling fans are a strange breed, we like to know what will happen and we also like to be surprised, ignoring the fact that combining the two is rather difficult. Anyway, they pulled of the surprise return thing so that was fun. The match wasn’t great, to say the least, with especially Cena seemingly phoning it in and treating this as the obligatory appearance just before his extended hiatus. As for Del Rio, it’s much too soon to predict if his return will make any difference, but, while watching, I thought I saw a little more El Patron in there than just the Del Rio we all know, so if that is confirmed in the coming weeks, that will be to the good.
The first Hell In A Cell match of the evening is a bit difficult to rate. Sure, there were some fun spots and both Reigns and Wyatt at least tried to give us something special, but, the fact that they used the typical hardcore match shortcuts (kendo sticks, tables) made you wonder why they even bothered to make this a Hell In A Cell Match. OK to keep the other Wyatt’s out, but other than that, the cell had no real role, making this just a standard cage match. This was the longest match on the card and that was another problem, it was simply too long, with a pacing that was much too slow at times. Finally the lack of chemistry that characterized the Reigns/Wyatt feud was also present here and didn’t really help matters. Good news is, this feud finally seems to be over so I guess this can be seen as a fitting end to it.
So basically, New Day doesn’t need Woods, they just need his trombone to win. Poor Xavier. This was about what you would expect, fun but also a little sloppy at times. Some amusing antics by The New Day, but it seems I over-estimated the popularity of those two teams as the crowd didn’t really seem to be into it. I rather expected the Dudley’s to win here, because if WWE had plans to put the belts on them, this would have been a good spot to do it. Now it just seems this feud will continue, with all the cheating that happened. Well, at least it was fun.
Credit where credit is due, and sure, she had Charlotte in there to help her, but Nikki really worked her ass off here, trying and (mostly) pulling off some ambitious moves. In what would become a pleasant theme for this PPV, no outside interference BS either, which made the match that much more entertaining to watch. Remember all the times I harped about just letting be a match be a match? Well this is the result, probably one of the best Nikki Bella matches ever, despite some (forgivable) sloppy spots. One negative note was the storytelling. First of all the commentary team gave the ending away by overdoing it when putting over Nikki’s work on Charlotte’s back. And secondly, if you’re gonna tell such a story, then don’t make it end with Charlotte pulling off her figure eight anyway. A desperation move, selling the “injury”, would have worked better here I think. That being said, some great moves and an overall enjoyable match. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come for the Divas division.
Rollins is a great worker but, as William Regal used to say, one cannot wrestle himself. Which was basically the story of this match, Rollins trying to do just that. The one good thing about this match is that this feud seems to be over, which is a relief. Also, it had the obvious and only possible outcome, a clean win for Rollins who desperately needed one. For the rest, the match happened, now it’s time to move on to bigger and (hopefully) better things for the World Champion.
Ultra short and to the point, this was probably the best use of Ryback. Unfortunately it also felt like a waste of Owens’ talent. The finish was too rushed also, with another rake to the eye if I’m not mistaken? Hopefully that doesn’t mean this feud will be prolonged, there are much better candidates than Ryback for Owens to dance with. Do something with KO WWE, the fans want it and the guy deserves it.
And it all came down to that last match, The Final Chapter. This one is very amusing to me because I know everyone will say it was great, conveniently forgetting that Brock and Taker used almost every shortcut in the book. Look at it this way, if you’re gonna go for a bloodbath in the PG era, well, of course it will stand out. That being said, it was probably a smart move by WWE, Taker and Brock because it helped make this match seem much more interesting than it had any right to be. I even admit I was more or less entertained, which was much more than I expected from this one. Both Taker and Lesnar worked they ass off to deliver a vicious and, yes, rather enjoyable brawl with some great near-falls. But all that blood should never occult the fact that these two hogged the spotlight not because they are better than everyone else but because they were allowed to do something no-one else is allowed to do nowadays. Just saying.
Post-match, the Wyatt’s beat down and abduct the Undertaker, so you know the WWE Special Effects Squad will have a blast in the coming weeks.
Conclusion: Well as far as WWE PPV’s go, this one was rather inoffensive. One of the things I liked most about it was the absence of screw-job finishes (mostly) and outside interference. Feuds were ended and new ones were hinted, which is as it should be. The show did have some booking issues here and there, the overly long Wyatt/Reings match, the I can’t do my finish, oh wait I can do it anyway story in the Divas match, Owens being wasted in a feud with Ryback and everything that involved Rollins and Kane. But, when it come to WWE nowadays, I believe you have to thank the wrestling gods for small favors and, at least, most of the overall booking was logical and inoffensive. Which is, hopefully, a trend that will continue in the coming weeks and months. As for the main event, your view on it will greatly impact your overall thoughts of the show. If you loved it, good for you, you will have gone home happy. If you, like me, where more amused by it than anything else, you will have realized that, in 2015, Kane, Undertaker and Lesnar were in top spots, while some of the most talented wrestlers on the roster were stuck on the pre-show or in 5 minute matches. Is all the blood-letting in the main event worth that? Food for thought.
Tags: Alberto Del Rio, Bray Wyatt, Brock Lesnar, Cesaro, charlotte, Dolph Ziggler, Hell in a Cell, John Cena, Kane, Kevin Owens, Neville, Nikki Bella, Roman Reigns, rusev, ryback, seth rollins, Sheamus, The Dudley Boyz, The New Day, undertaker, Wade Barrett