For a full archive of all my wrestling reviews (in progress), please visit JZ Says.
Barclays Center – New York City, NY – Sunday, August 19, 2018
Michael Cole, Corey Graves, and Jonathan Coachman are on commentary for RAW; Graves, Tom Phillips, and Byron Saxton for SmackDown, and Vic Joseph, Nigel McGuinness, and Percy Watson for 205 Live.
~KICKOFF MATCH #1~
Andrade “Cien” Almas & Zelina Vega defeat Rusev & Lana in a Mixed Tag Team Match at 7:03. Rusev harnesses the power of Rusev Day in the early going, throwing Almas around the ring. Almas fights back and targets the arm. Then some more stuff happens but they have to insert a commercial for the show I’m about to watch during the preshow of said show. I don’t understand this strategy at all. This goes on a short time until Lana gets the hot tag and Zelina has to come in as well. Lana mostly dominates, showing that she’s much improved in the process. Almas gets in Lana’s voice and gets slapped for his troubles. Zelina gets a weak looking roll-up with her feet on the ropes (sort of) to get the pin. This was a good choice for the Kickoff show, given how over Rusev and Lana are, but I was disappointed in that finish.
~KICKOFF MATCH #2~
WWE Cruiserweight Champion Cedric Alexander defeats Drew Gulak at 10:40 to retain the title. Alexander has been the Champion since 4.8.18, and this is his fourth defense. They start slowly, as I believe it’s been a while since these two have been in the ring together. Gulak wastes no time looking for the Gu-Lock, which is smart. He works the neck, which he previously softened up five nights ago on 205 Live. Alexander fights up a bit, but Gulak controls the flow of the match almost all the way through. In the end, a really awkward series of reversals ends with Alexander scoring the pin. I liked Gulak controlling the match, and Alexander winning with a roll-up while selling the neck is fine. Just a lot of this didn’t click on the level I was hoping for. Maybe they can do another one.
~KICKOFF MATCH #3~
RAW Tag Team Champions The B-Team (Bo Dallas & Curtis Axel) defeat The Revival (Scott Dawson & Dash Wilder) to retain the titles at 6:12. Axel and Dallas have been the Champions since 7.15.18, and this is their third defense. Wilder and Dawson hit an early Shatter Machine take the early advantage. They isolate Dallas, even through the commercial for Ronda v Alexa later on. Eventually, Axel gets a hot tag and he’s a house afire. Dawson traps Axel in an inside cradle, but Wilder knocks Dallas backwards, and the dumb luck of Dallas sends him into the cradle, which turns it over for a three-count. Cute finish, not much of a match. Also, I’m not sure how long they can keep going with champions that are “lucky not good” though.
Seth Rollins (w/ Dean Ambrose) defeats Intercontinental Champion Dolph Ziggler (w/ Drew McIntyre) to regain the title at 22:00. Ziggler has been the Champion since 6.18/18, and this is his third defense – all against Rollins. Because of that, both men know each other well and they go at it right away. I catch Graves saying something stupid, as he misinterprets the Champion’s advantage into saying that if Rollins loses by DQ, Ziggler is still the Champion. Yeah, winning usually does mean you retain the title. Though to be fair this guy does so much commentary and other assorted projects for WWE it’s inevitable that he’ll mix something up at some point. Ziggler controls the match for a while, keeping Rollins grounded while working the knee. The commentators talk a lot about Ambrose and McIntyre at ringside. I love Rollins, but I’m really just coming around to the fact that he’s just not that good. I mean he’s not terrible, he’s very competent, but every time he gets big pushes and big matches it always ends up disappointing. Hopefully he can give whatever rub he has left to McIntyre. Late in the match they fight up on the top rope, and Rollins brings Ziggler down with an inverted suplerplex, and he HANGS ON and pulls Ziggler up for a Paroxysm. That’s awesome and I would’ve bought it as the finish. Rollins sets up for the Stomp but gets distracted by McIntyre attacking Ambrose at ringside. Ziggler hits a Zig-Zag for two. Ambrose hits McIntyre with Dirty Deeds out on the floor to take him out. Rollins nails Ziggler with the superkick and the Stomp to get the pin. The last five minutes or so of this was awesome, but it just ran too long with too much boring Ziggler offense.
The New Day (Big E & Xavier Woods) (w/ Kofi Kingston) defeat SmackDown Tag Team Champions The Bludgeon Brothers (Harper & Rowan) by disqualification at 9:45. Harper and Rowan have been the Champions since 4.8.18, and this is their fifth defense. The Champs use their size and power to dominate in the early going, keeping Woods isolated. When Big E gets tagged in, the pace picks up and the referee loses a bit of control, particularly in regards to the five-second double-team rule. The battle goes in both inside and outside the ring. Things really get out of control when Rowan grabs his bludgeoning mallet and destroys Woods and E with it to draw the disqualification. This was a fun tag team match and was building up really well until the abrupt DQ finish. I don’t mind the finish so much because it keeps the feud going and that’s A-Okay.
Braun Strowman defeats Kevin Owens at 1:50 to retain his Money in the Bank briefcase. Mr. Monster in the Bank runs through Owens in short order, including a vicious chokeslam on the entrance ramp. Back in the ring Strowman hits the Running Powerslam to get the pin. That was a completely one-sided match, and portends the idea that Strowman may cash in later on.
Charlotte Flair defeats Becky Lynch and SmackDown Women’s Champion Carmella) in a Triple Threat match to win the title at 15:15. Carmella has been the Champion since 4.10.18, and this is her fourth defense. Tension between Charlotte and Becky Is evident from the beginning, but really this is every wrestler for herself so they should just tear into each other, I say. Carmella is arrogant from the start, mocking both of her opponents every chance she gets. The action is fast and furious from all three women, with very little time for resting. In the end, Becky traps Carmella in the Dis-Arm-Her, and Charlotte breaks it up with the Natural Selection! That gives Charlotte her seventh Women’s Championship (or eighth, if you count NXT). Good match with lots of action, and the finish looked good when usually that move is garbage. Really though, Carmella looked completely lost out there with two awesome wrestlers like Becky and Charlotte. After the match Becky and Charlotte hug, and then Becky attacks her friend! Good, this was Becky’s match and Charlotte squeezed her way in and stole the spotlight again. The crowd cheers voraciously and chants “You Deserve It.” Tempted to add another ½* just for that.
Samoa Joe defeats WWE Champion AJ Styles by disqualification at 22:45. Styles has been the Champion since 11.7.17, and this is his ninth defense. Joe gets on the microphone and announces that Styles’ wife and daughter are in the audience. Styles gets pissed and here we go. For some reason, they start with headlocks and stuff like that. Dude, if somebody said and did the things Joe did I would not try to headlock them. They take it outside the ring, where Joe gains control and starts to physically dissect the Champion. Every time Styles tries to fight back, Joe knocks him right back down. Joe even uses the Big Joe Combo, but the idiot announcers don’t call it that. Sorry Brad. Styles comes back and hits the Styles Clash but it only gets two! They trade their submission finishers but both men are able to escape. They fight back to the floor and Joe busts Styles open. Joe then gets on the mic and tells Styles’ wife and kid that AJ isn’t coming home, but Joe will be her new daddy. Styles is FURIOUS and he destroys Joe with a steel chair for the disqualification. They took a little bit to get going for such a heated feud coming in, but about halfway through they hit their stride and finished strong. A disqualification in the middle of the show is fine with me, it makes sense for the story, and it keeps the feud going so let’s do it.
The Miz defeats Daniel Bryan at 23:30. Maryse and Monroe Sky are sitting at ringside. Bryan has Seattle Seahawks inspired gear, which is cool if you like football. They start off hot, with Miz stealing the Yes Kicks, but Bryan responds by finally punching Miz in the face and hitting the real Yes Kicks. I would’ve loved it if they spent a bunch of time building up to Bryan punching Miz in the face. Bryan is fired up here, but Miz skillfully cuts him off and wears him down, mocking his former NXT rookie along the way. Bryan comes back and sends Miz to the floor, then follows him out with a leap from the top rope. They continue on and eventually take it to the apron, where Bryan misses a kick and makes contact with the ring post. That sounded nasty. Miz immediately puts on a Figure-Four Leglock. Bryan reverses it and Miz gets to the ropes. Both men look worn down, but Bryan has enough to put on the Yes Lock. Miz escapes and they fight to the floor, right near Maryse. The “Mrs.” of “Miz & Mrs.” Slips her husband a foreign object, and he decks Bryan with it to get the pin. I really liked this match, as the feud has been great and it really feels like these two dislike each other and want to beat each other up. They probably could’ve trimmed the length a bit but they worked hard and I really like the finish. The feud must continue!
Finn Balor defeats Baron Corbin at 1:35. Balor comes out as the Demon and just destroys Corbin in and outside the ring. The crowd chants “This Is Awesome” during the beating. Balor lands the Coup de Grace and gets the pin. Fun squash and as good a way to use and protect The Demon gimmick as they can put together. They really don’t understand how to use it effectively at all. But on the plus side, nobody cares about Corbin so this is good with me.
United States Champion Shinsuke Nakamura defeats Jeff Hardy at 11:00 to retain the title. Nakamura has been the Champion since 7.15.18, and this is his third defense. Both men try to play mind games with each other in the early going. They move on at a slow pace, the crowd pretty uninterested after they get bored singing along to Nakamura’s theme song. Hardy ends up with the Twist of Fate and a Swanton Bomb but it only gets two. He hits another Twist of Fate (ending more in a Stunner), and Nakamura rolls to the apron. Hardy goes back up top and goes for a Swanton Bomb but Nakamura moves and Hardy lands hard right on the apron. Ouch. Back in the ring Nakamura hits the Kinshasa to get the pin. Kind of a dull and plodding match, but the finish was boss.
Ronda Rousey (w/ Natalya) defeats RAW Women’s Champion Alexa Bliss at 4:00 to win the title. Bliss has been the Champion since 6.17.18, and this is her second defense. The Champ does her best to avoid the fired-up challenger in the early going. Rousey absolutely dominates the entire match, and locks on the armbar to get the win. Fun little squash there.
Roman Reigns Universal Champion Brock Lesnar (w/ Paul Heyman) to win the title at 6:10. Lesnar has been the Champion since 4.2.17, and this is his seventh defense. Before the match can begin, Braun Strowmn makes his way out with his Money in the Bank briefcase! He says he won’t attack the Champion from behind, but that whoever wins this match will have to fight him! Reigns immediately hits Superman Punches and a Spear! Lesnar comes back with a guillotine choke, which Reigns slams his way out of. Lesnar takes Reigns to Suplex City, just like old times. The crowd chants “you both suck,” but only briefly. Reigns charges at Lesnar, who sidesteps him and hurls him through the ropes, right onto Strowman! Great spot. Lesnar then hits Strowman with an F-5 on the floor. Strowman tries to grab Lesnar’s ankle, so Lesnar beats him up with the briefcase and flings it way up by the entrance. Lesnar adds a steel chair attack and Strowman is down. He brings the chair in the ring but Reigns drills him with a Spear to get the win! Our long national nightmare of the Roman Reigns chase is over. The match was actually pretty fun, and Strowman added an interesting element.
Six hours is just straight-up too much show, as it legit took me four days to review. Only five of the matches reached three stars, and nothing got as high as four, so that’s a bummer. That being said, many of the short matches that got low ratings were still enjoyable for one reason or another (Braun v KO, Balor v Corbin, and the last two matches), so it’s not a bad show by any stretch. And I’m thrilled that the title is off Lesnar, and interested to see where they go with Roman and Braun.
Tags: Brock Lesnar, Roman Reigns, Ronda Rousey, SummerSlam, WWE