WWE INTERCONTINENTAL TITLE MATCH:
Seth Rollins(c) vs. The Miz - 8/10
This match was WONDERFUL! First they showed you that Seth had a counter to the Skull-Crushing Finale, then they used something Miz normally does anyway- working the knee via Figure 4- to injure Seth's knee which they then showed you had now taken that counter away, as well as taking away some of Seth's signature offense. That one bit set up all of the big moments in the match. Miz was a good heels, Seth's selling was awesome, and we got to see our babyface overcome the challenge and win the match fair and square, like a true champion. An AWESOME way to start off the show!
WWE RAW WOMEN'S TITLE MATCH:
Nia Jax(c) vs. Alexa Bliss! - 6/10
A classic big vs. small match, with Alexa trying to chop down the tree or... um... choke out the tree... but failing, eventually falling victim to the same mistake that Nia made several times: going up to the top rope to hit something fancy.
RENEE YOUNG INTERVIEWS NIA JAX - Horrific. She basically said everything we already heard her say in the video package to build up this match. If you want to have Nia Jax do anti-bullying PSAs then that's great and I fully support that. But when you do it in the form of a wrestling promo, and you have Renee ask her "what does this win mean to you" and then try to get Nia to have the same emotion she did the first time she won the belt and cut this same promo, it just comes off as fake because 1) she doesn't have that same emotion, and 2) you doing this same thing over and over again makes it come off as yet another meaningless WWE marketing ploy. No matter what WWE does, they cannot help themselves but be self-destructively heavy-handed with it (and that's not intended as a fat joke, and thus it comes off as phony.
SAMOA JOE PROMO - Good.
WWE UNITED STATES TITLE MATCH:
Jeff Hardy(c) vs. Randy Orton - 6.75/10
Randy worked Jeff's back over a bit but Jeff made his comeback and won. There was some good stuff here early on, but it really felt like it petered out at the end. They really should have given these guys a crap-ton of time and let Jeff have the type of big-match win over Randy to reestablish him as a top singles guy.
MUSICAL INTERLUDE- WHY IS THIS HAPPENING?!
He claims Bruce Springsteen calls him "the boss" and buries New Jersey. It got good heat, but this is a freakin' PPV, so why are they wasting time with this?
Speaking of wasting time, out come The New Day to help The Drifter waste more of it. They've got musical instruments and they invite The Drifter to play music with them. They wasted a lot of time. Big E. said that New Day liked solo acts... and then they all started to play at the same time, so I guess Big E. doesn't know what the word "solo" means. They tease Elias singing again, but then Aiden English comes out to help waste time as well. He sings an intro for Rusev, who comes out and insults both The Drifter and The New Day.
They tease The Drifter singing YET AGAIN but then No Way Jose comes out with his people. Also, Titus Worldwide is with them. So are the Fashion Police. Who's coming out next? Jeff Jarrett and the Roadie? The Maestro? Jillian Hall? The Blue World Order?
Turns out it's Bobby Roode, whose music played for maybe three seconds before he himself had come out of the crowd and hit The Drifter with the Glorious DDT. Everyone aside from Rusev, English, and the downed Drifter did a conga line to the back. Aiden English wanted to join the conga line but Rusev wouldn't let him. This was a complete and total waste of a large amount of time. If you want to give us a bathroom break, at least have the courtesy to put the words "bathroom break" on the screen so I know that nothing important will come out of this.
DANIEL BRYAN vs. BIG CASS - 5.5/10
We got dueling chants of "WE WANT ENZO!" and "NO WE DON'T!" They told their story (Cass' size vs. Bryan's heart and technical ability) very well, but there wasn't much to it, the pace was frustratingly slow when Cass was on offense, and the match was quite short. Bryan got the win via Yes Lock but Cass attacked him from behind after the match.
WWE SMACKDOWN WOMEN'S TITLE MATCH:
Carmella(c) vs. Charlotte Flair - 6.25/10
We started off with Carmella mocking the Flairs... and getting booted in the face for it. The story of the match was Carmella trash-talking the whole time she was in control (which was 90% of the match) and desperately trying to avoid the Figure Eight Leg Lock when she wasn't. The finish saw Charlotte go for a moonsault press but Carmella got out of the way, and even though Charlotte was able to land on her feet, she tweaked her knee. Carmella immediately kicked her right in the knee, then stacked her up and pinned her. This was a shockingly clean finish and yet one that still tells us that Carmella got lucky, continuing the story of her title reign. The clean finish avoids yet another bout of interference from The IIconics (which really wouldn't make sense anyway because Carmella is denying their role in her victory), as well as forcing Charlotte to the back of the line, from where she will have to spend several months working her way into title contention, so now she has a story for the next several months. I probably liked both this finish and this match a lot more than most people.
NO DISQUALIFICATIONS MATCH FOR THE WWE WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE:
AJ Styles(c) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura - 7.75/10
The fans are chanting "WE WANT TABLES!" How about you just let the wrestlers wrestle their match and react to it instead of telling them what bumps you want them to take?
In fact, they didn't need much in the way of weapons to have an awesome match. I think all the weapon use we saw was that one spot with the chair where AJ countered a Kinshasa by throwing a chair at Nakamura's oncoming knee (unfortunately for AJ, the chair bounced off of Nakamura's knee and slammed into AJ's face, giving him a big cut on the cheek). That's because this story revolved around low blows, not weapons. Unfortunately it had a really sh*tty ending where both guys kicked each other in the nuts at the same time and thus neither man could answer the ten-count, so we got another draw. Yes, this finish keeps the feud alive, but this is a TV finish, not a PPV finish. WWE (via Paige's announcement) promised us that this stipulation would allow for a decisive result, and then WWE gave us the opposite, so the of course the crowd shat all over it). MAYBE you could have gotten away with this on a MUCH better show and much earlier on in the card, and if you had another world title match later on, but none of those is true about tonight's show.
ANOTHER MUSICAL WASTE OF TIME - You know that stupid song they in that stupid video to advertise the fact that all PPVs are co-branded from now on? Well, they played the entire song and music video for us. What do you even say about a company who thinks that the best way to advertise the fact that both of their brands will now be on the same PPVs is to commission a crappy song (half of the lines in the song are the lyric "it's the best of both worlds"), then spend even more money to produce a music video of their wrestlers singing it rather than just having the advertisement for the PPV say "Raw and Smackdown present: SHOW X" rather than just one or the other presenting the show?
KEVIN OWENS & SAMI ZAYN vs. BRAUN STROWMAN & BOBBY LASHLEY - 1/10
This was basically the same thing we saw on Raw, but this time Owens and Zayn spent most of it arguing over who would get beaten up. This match helped no one, and the idea of an Owens/Zayn break-up probably doesn't help anyone either. The announcers voiced their certainty that Owens- the man who got pinned- was not the legal man. Braun and Lashley beat Owens up after the match for no reason. When I was typing that sentence I instinctively started it off by typing "the heels," which should explain why this post-match bit was a bad idea. Then they attacked Sami, too.
Money in the Bank is in six week, so we'll likely have to wait at least that long to get an actual finish in a match for either of our top two titles. Uch.
ROMAN REIGNS vs. SAMOA JOE - 7/10
Joe jumped the bell on Roman. Roman started to fight back, but rather than just order the bell to be rung, the referee just stood there yelling at them to stop fighting and go to their corners so that he could order the bell to be rung and start their professional fight.
Joe beat Roman up and slammed him into all three of the ringside announcers' tables, including going through one of them. The ref finally got to the ring and Roman said he could go so the ref ordered the bell to be rung... and Joe just started beating the sh*t out of him and Roman quickly started to look like he was a lot less capable of defending himself than he did when he and Joe were fighting on the outside and referee was telling them that they should stop fighting because it wasn't fair to Roman to start the match right then. Face-palm.
These guys had a pretty great match but the fans didn't really care about anything that wasn't a false finish, instead occupying themselves by chanting "RUSEV DAY!" and other such nonsense. When the fans were paying attention, they were split about 50-50, which was shocking here in Northern New Jersey, right between the two major hubs of smarkville that are New York City and Philadelphia. Roman won, so they're not even going to try doing something new with Roman by having him really have to rebuild himself. He's just going to keep beating everyone until Vince finally puts the belt on him. It's been YEARS of this sh*t now.
This was a bad show from WWE. After that awesome opener, things just went downhill, and most of it was the booking more than anything else. The time-management on this show was almost 2016 ROH PPV-level bad. That comparison might seem a little harsh, but remember that WWE had an extra half hour to work with. And it's not like they were trying to squeeze that many matches onto this show. There were only eight matches on the main show, which is what you would normally get with a three-hour PPV, and this show was longer than that. And this was a show in which the Universal Champion, Cruiserweight Champion, neither set of tag team champions, Asuka, Finn Balor, The Usos, Rusev, Sheamus & Cesaro, New Day, and Bobby Roode- all pushed as major acts over the past year- did not even have a match (and most of them didn't even appear). They just found ways to waste ridiculous amounts of time or give time to the wrong things. I really hope this isn't going to be the new norm for the co-branded PPV era (which I thought was a big mistake before, but this show has solidified that view in my mind. Hopefully I'll have an article up on why that is within the week).
STUPID ANNOUNCER QUOTES
1. Michael Cole- "the last time a Superstar changed brands with the Intercontinental Championship in tow was back in 2002 with Rob Van Dam."
No it wasn't. It was LAST YEAR when Ambrose when from Smackdown to Raw as IC Champion. Maybe what Cole meant to say was that RVD beating Benoit at Summer Slam 2002 was the last time someone caused the title to change brands by winning it, which would be true, but that's not what Cole said.