Another PPV, another 10 Thoughts. Looking at this on paper, I thought there was some potential for goodness, but, you know, the WWE can take potential and stuff it up like no other it seems. And I really hope they prove me wrong…
(RIP Ric Ocasek)
1) The Kickoff show gave us two matches: WWE Cruiserweight Title: Lince Dorado v Humberto Carrillo v Drew Gulak (c) 10 minute spotfest. Lot of fun and some great moves on display. But the ending was sloppy, with the referee having to tell them that the shoulders were up? Seriously? Bush league… Still, can’t really complain. Rest of the match was cool. Gulak retained. US Title Match: Cedric Alexander v AJ Styles (c) This was potentially looking like a great match. These two pulled out all stops to entertain. And what I really liked was Styles insisting on doing it on his own, and he has finally got the concept that he’s a heel over to the crowd. But at only 4 minutes it felt like such a waste. Styles retained. And then, post-match, Anderson and Gallows come out and beat up Alexander. Yes, heel actions, but, on the pre-show? Meh.
2) Raw Tag Team Titles: Seth Rollins & Braun Strowman (c) v Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode Okay, sure, the result was in no doubt (wacky tag team champs who hate one another [TM, Scott Keith] notwithstanding), but damn if they didn’t open the PPV with an entertaining match. Roode was always best in tag teams (Beer Money is still one of my favourites) and I am glad he is succeeding in the WWE in that regard. And I’m glad Ziggler has a title that is not the IC. Fun match, back and forth, and the ending came with a champ mix-up followed by a Roode glorious DDT on Rollins for the titles. New champions after 15 or so minutes.
3) SmackDown Women’s Title: Charlotte Flair v Bayley (c) I am biased here because I like both of these as wrestlers. However, something about it did not feel right, and that was Flair being face and Bayley being heel. Yes, Flair was not going to be booed in Charlotte, NC, but… it just felt wrong. Now, the match. Flair started with a flurry and dominated for a fair while Bayley bumped like a maniac. But then, while Flair was being chastised by the referee, Bayley took the bottom turnbuckle pad off, then dumped Flair face-first on the exposed turnbuckle and got the pin. Yes, very heel-like. But at only 4 or 5 minutes, too short, and Bayley had virtually no offence. Could have been so much better, but it felt like it was just setting up a programme. Disappointing. Bayley retains.
(The commentators are awful! I mean… Christ! On the Kickoff they were barely tolerable, but those on the PPV were just terrible.)
4) SmackDown Tag Team Title: The Revival v The New Day (c) Well, this was basically the Revival going after Xavier Woods’ knee injury until they got him to tap out to a reverse figure four after getting rid of the knee braces. Again, blatant heel-101. Good story-telling, sure, but the match was not that exciting. After 10 minutes we have new tag team champions. Post-match, they praise up Randy Orton.
(So, let me get this right – Revival and Randy Orton, the OC, the New Day… and then we have the AEW teams… are 3-man teams the latest “thing” to make a comeback? Are we going to be inundated with “Freebird rule” tag title matches?)
5) Women’s TagTeam Title: Sonia Deville & Mandy Rose (Fire & Desire) v Nikki Cross & Alexa Bliss The only one who looked consistently good in this match was Cross. Bliss is okay (I guess), Rose and Deville are meh, but Cross has that good mix of character and ability going. And the only real excitement in the match was when the 24/7 title chase ran through the ring. Sorry, did I say excitement? It was crap, but I guess something had to be done with this match. Oh, the champs retain when Cross gets the pin after about 8 minutes or so.
6) Intercontinental Title: The Miz v Shinsuke Nakamura (c) (with Sami Zayn) Handicap match, essentially. Not a good one, either. Zayn ran interference a lot, Miz played the stupid face and chased him, Nakamura got the Kinsasha to retain after 10 minutes.
7) Raw Women’s Title: Sasha Banks v Becky Lynch (c) Goody. Look, I like Lynch; she is awesome. However, Sasha Banks is the most over-rated female wrestler since Harvina Wippleman. No idea why people are so high on her. Becky carries her to something watchable until we have “fun with chairs” leading to Lynch hitting the ref with a chair for the DQ loss after 15 minutes or so. And then we have Lynch just beating the living sh*t out of Banks through the crowd and into the concessions stands for another 15 minutes. So Lynch lost but retained the title. This felt like it was setting up for Hell in a Cell. Please, no, because the way this went down, Lynch is going to lose to that pile of suck.
8) WWE Title: Randy Orton v Kofi Kingston (c) Okay, this match was Orton beating the living snot out of Kingston, trying to kill him, and then Kofi doing the back from the dead comeback to win and retain after about 20 minutes. Okay, look, I remember groaning about Hulk Hogan doing that back in the day, but this felt even more ridiculous. Even the RKO Out Of Nowhere (TM, Randolph Orton) did not put Kofi away, but the sudden Trouble In Paradise Out Of Nowhere (TM pending) against a guy who had hardly been hit all match won it?! And the crowd was dead, which certainly did not help.
(The Street Profits and Booker T thing was… interesting.)
9) Roman Reigns v Erik Rowan The only non-title match tonight. This was following the standard Roman Reigns “getting his arse handed to him and making a comeback” match (TM Randy Savage, as a face), and it was a boring and predictable standard WWE “brawl”. ECW did it better, and they died almost 20 years ago. And then Luke Harper made a return and helped Rowan get the win after 20 looong minutes. Well, did not call that. Didn’t make the match any good, but still…
10) Universal Title: Braun Strowman v Seth Rollins (c) Remember Rollins’ matches against Brock Lesnar? Well, then you’ve seen this match before. But this match actually p*ssed me off – this showed the complete and utter destruction of the “finisher” as a concept. Strowman hitting a frog splash should have killed Rollins. 4 curb stomps didn’t put Strowman away? A pedigree? Strowman only lost because of a knee injury? Okay, sure, it might have been only 15 minutes long, but… yeah. Rollins got the pinfall and retained… And then, post-match, Bray Wyatt (as the Beaver Fiend) comes out and hits a sister Abigail on the entrance stage, then a mandible claw. Ladles and Jellyspoons, your next challenger.