They've got a panel with Charly Carsuo, David Otunga, and Beth Phoenix that I strongly suspect is emanating from the US and I'm certain is not being broadcast in the arena. They said all of the usual stuff you'd expect from one of these panels. If anyone doubts that commentators emphatically trying to repeat wrestlers' catchphrases to get them over makes those catchphrases less cool, just skip to the end of the pre-show and listen to Charly Caruso and David Otunga say "Uso penitentiary."
Okay... these goofy hologram graphics need to go away. I don't want them in the studio and I don't want to see them during entrances. Just get rid of them. They're no different than the ladders that WWE decorates the stage with any time they have a ladder match. Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should. Stop trying to impress me with your set dressing and start trying to impress me with your storylines and your wrestling. It doesn't matter how fancy of a box you put it in; a lump of coal is still a lump of coal.
THE USOS vs. THE REVIVAL - 5.75/10
A basic tag team match that was fine for the time it got. The Usos won clean.
WWE UNIVERSAL TITLE MATCH:
Seth Rollins(c) vs. Baron Corbin - 4.5/10
Rollins' ribs were all taped up after Brock's assault so Corbin worked those over. Corbin kept screaming at the referee, leading to the referee, but unlike usual heel time-wasting, this actually led somewhere. The crowd popped HUGE for the ref standing up for himself, and then even bigger for Rollins rolling Corbin up for the win... which means that we're going to be getting more of Rollins vs. Corbin. Uch.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Annoying. Corbin hits Rollins with a chairshot to get him down, then Brock comes out to cash in MITB... but Heyman trips on the apron and drops the briefcase, which distracts Brock long enough for Seth to hit him in the nuts and then destroy him with a chair and a curb stomp into the briefcase... so either they've f*cked us over on this yet again, or Kofi is f*cked, and neither one of those are good paths to take.
WWE INTERCONTINENTAL TITLE MATCH:
Finn Balor(c) vs. Andrade "Cien" Almas - 7.5/10
The match was a GREAT athletic encounter that the crowd was very into. That being said, this match and its commentary illustrate the big problem with "The Demon" as portrayed in WWE. Balor was in his "Demon" get-up because the prince paid for it so the prince gets it. He also had some similarly-dressed followers and a throne, and the announcers kept talking about how "The Demon" is undefeated and how "The Demon" intimidates other wrestlers and telling us that facing "The Demon" is different than facing Finn Balor, which prompts the question of why Balor doesn't just come out as "The Demon" for every match. What makes The Demon not just Finn Balor in paint? If the idea is that it is some sort of dark part of himself then you can't have him come out as "The Demon" without first having something happen that "releases" said dark part of himself, or that drives him to go there even though he knows it's dangerous for some reason or another.
PROMOS FOR THE BATTLE ROYALE - Jinder was fine. Miz was very good and the fans were doing is catchphrases along with him.
ROMAN REIGNS vs. SHANE MCMAHON (w/Drew McIntyre) - 6/10
This was pretty much what you'd expect. Shane mostly needed to cheat to get the advantage, and wound up winning when Drew hit Roman with a Claymore. The booking here is more than a little annoying, simply because we've seen this same thing on TV at least once a week for the past few weeks, so this doesn't move the story forward. You could still build to Drew vs. Roman without having Shane win here. Shane has already escaped without The Miz getting revenge on him, and while I doubt they'll do that to Roman, our choices at this point are either Shane escapes without Roman getting his final revenge on him (which is bad booking), or at least another six weeks of Roman feuding with Shane.
BRYON SAXTON INTERVIEWS KOFI KINGSTON & XAVIER WOODS - Decent.
Lars Sullivan vs. Lucha House Party - 2.5/10
The little speedy guys did little speedy guy things while the power guy did his power stuff. Lars controlled most of the match. Eventually Lucha House Parry got DQed for not staying on the apron. They hit Lars with a bunch of stuff and went to leave but Lars got up and beat them all up. If Lars was going to beat them all up at the end then why didn't you just let him pin someone? (The answer, of course, is so that we can extended this feud even longer, so this is yet another feud that is going to continue after this PPV).
RANDY ORTON vs. TRIPLE H - 6.75/10
Was it slow? Yeah. But it was solid throughout, they told their story well (both guys looking for their finisher), their false finish was excellent, and the drama built very well. The problem is that it kept building and building well past the peak of the mountain and started to roll down the other side. If they had cut out that bit on the outside at the end with all of those backdrops onto the announcers' table while the referee made no effort to count them out) and I would have given this a 7/10.
24/7 TITLE SHENANIGANS IN AN AIRPORT - Truth gets rolled up by Jinder, then rolled Jinder up later. They at least appear to be putting a bit more thought into this, but they missed what seems to me like it was the part of this with the most comedic potential, which is Jinder locking himself in the bathroom for the flight and then other people not being able to pee.
BYRON SAXTON INTERVIEWS BARON CORBIN - Good. Corbin demands that someone do something about the fact that a referee put his hands on him during a match.
BOBBY LASHLEY vs. BRAUN STROWMAN - 4/10
They ran into each other a bunch of times and slammed each other a bunch of times.
MORE BATTLE ROYALE PROMOS - They let Mustafa Ali come this time. He was great. Samoa Joe spoke as well and he was very good
WWE WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE MATCH:
Kofi Kingston(c) vs. Dolph Ziggler - 7.25/10
Great, but nothing that felt like it was world title level. Woods wound up getting involved on the finish, and Dolph cut a promo afterwards that tells us that this feud, too, will continue. Dolph's promo was much better than normal.
50 MAN BATTLE ROYALE - 2.25/10
Long and boring. But at least Akam made his return to the ring. Hooray for Akam! Once they whittled the field down it got decent (for a battle royale, anyway), but starting from fifty people killed it. Mansour, who is from Saudi Arabia, won, last eliminating Elias.
BYRON SAXTON INTERVIEWS MANSOUR - Excellent hometown babyface stuff
GOLDBERG vs. THE UNDERTAKER - 2/10
This was a bad match. We all knew it wouldn't be good, and it was fine for a few minutes, but by the end it got sloppy enough that I'm certain they ended things when they did and the way they did because they were afraid someone was going to get hurt (Taker had just dropped Goldberg while trying for a Tombstone Piledriver and Goldberg's attempt at a Jackhammer turned into a brainbuster). But the crowd loved it, and I just saw thousands of Saudis chanting "GOLDBERG!" And that was a heck of a thing.
This wasn't even close to being a good show from WWE, but it also wasn't anywhere near as bad as the last one. The biggest strike against it was how little was actually resolved, story-line was. This was an episode of TV, not at PPV, with pretty much every finish designed to continue a feud rather than blow anything off. One thing that needs to be mentioned is the crowd, which was legitimately hot for most of the show. There were chants of "THIS IS AWESOME!" and "NXT!" and they did the wrestlers' catchphrases right along with them. At this point I don't think it's possible to deny that there is a WWE fanbase in Saudi Arabia that wants to see their WWE live. This is not a New Japan in North Korea situation in terms of a captive fanbase and a show going on solely for the Grand Leader's entertainment. Whatever problems you have with the show, at least there was a crowd who was happy to be there and was entertained rather than something that only benefited one rich person. I just saw thousands of Saudis cheering for a guy named "Goldberg." And WWE is completely right that without them, that wouldn't have happened.
STUPID ANNOUNCER QUOTES
1. When Brock was coming out to cash MITB in on Seth, Renee Young told us that Brock "could not have picked a more opportune time."
Um... what about on Monday when he had just beaten Seth so badly that Seth had to be stretchered off and sent to the hospital? That seems like a much better time than after his ribs have had several days to heel and Seth has only a short match and one chairshot from Corbin.
2. Renee Young talked up Hunter and Orton for having "deep arsenals" of moves, and then proceeded to tell us about how Orton could hit the RKO out of nowhere. I don't think she understands what a "deep" arsenal is.