One month from Wrestlemania, and who knows where we’re going? Roman Reigns vs. Triple H seems like a lock as the main event. Other than that…your guess is as good as mine. Maybe Cena’s coming back. Maybe someone is returning to fight Undertaker. It’s supposed to be the biggest Wrestlemania ever, and almost nothing is set for it a month out. Maybe we’ll get some answers tonight. Or maybe we’ll get the usual muddle. We’ll find out together.
Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks vs. Naomi and Tamina
Wow, was not expecting this as the opening match. Was pretty sure this was going to be the popcorn match before the main event. I sort of like the idea of putting the least hyped match on first on the assumption that the crowd is going to be into it no matter what.
Man, Tamina is bad. The gap between her and Naomi is huge, and the gap between Naomi, Becky, and Sasha is pretty big too. This one was built entirely around the hot tag to Sasha, which was the right choice because not much else of interest was going to happen here. Sasha’s great, Becky’s pretty damn good in her own right. They rightfully got the win.
Rating: **. Solid opening match. Went about as well as it could have. Hard to screw up a southern-style tag match.
Intercontinental Championship: Kevin Owens (c) vs. Dolph Ziggler
I saw a tweet a little while back comparing WWE’s current product to 1998 WCW. This match is emblematic of that. We have two fantastic wrestlers who are going to have a great match. But the match just doesn’t really matter because so many things have been done wrong during the build. These guys have wrestled a bunch on TV this month, they’ve traded wins, they’ve both gotten beat a lot recently. It just feels like the opposite of how to build a pay-per-view match. Why not keep them apart on TV and have them both get wins leading into the pay-per-view?
This is random, but why did they introduce Ziggler as from Florida instead of Cleveland? They were playing up that he was from Cleveland on commentary, so maybe it was just a gaffe from Lillian.
Kevin Owens does so many little things well. He carries himself like a dick. He talks trash. He actually cinches in his holds and makes them look real.
I loved the amount of selling in this match. They spent a ton of time laying around completely spent, and it was totally appropriate for what was going on. And the selling meant fewer kickouts. Owens hits the huge Fisherman’s DDT off the top…but he can’t make the cover.
This was going great, and then the fans have to start the “This is Awesome” chant. That chant really needs to die.
KO retains with a Pop Up Powerbomb. Let’s hope he gets a real run with the IC Title this time.
Rating: ***½. Fine, fine match. Tons of action, but they took their time, worked holds, built the drama.
The Wyatt Family vs. Big Show, Kane, and Ryback
I wish Mark Henry was in here instead of Ryback and then the face team got retired at the end of this match. Time to clear out some of the old guys on the roster.
Ryback looks fucking amazing in trunks. Should have been wearing them from day one. Guy has a body. Show it off. I was hoping changing the look would have brought a renewed push, but seems like it’s never going to happen at this point. I think they left a lot of money on the table by never running with Ryback. So many missed opportunities over the years, but I’m sure Vince is wondering why he doesn’t have any stars on his roster.
Hardcore rules would have been a good idea here. This one is probably going to need some smoke and mirrors to be watchable.
Damn, Ryback breaks out the Missile Dropkick.
I don’t see a reason for this to be anything but a squash. Remember when The Shield destroyed Kane and The New Age Outlaws in two minutes at Wrestlemania 30? That’s what this should have been. But apparently someone backstage thinks Kane and Big Show are still stars.
Oy, crowd turned on this hard. And I can’t say I blame them. Slow motion match involving a bunch of guys with no momentum.
This was one of the more shocking and inexplicable booking decisions I can remember. The old guys win. Kane apparently took out Bray on the floor, but the camera didn’t catch it. And it looked like Ryback hurt Harper’s shoulder on that Shellshock.
Rating: Dud. Yeah, that was a mess. No idea what was going on there.
Diva’s Championship: Charlotte (c) vs. Brie Bella
This was about as good a match as Brie is capable of having. It still wasn’t very good, but it served its purpose. Giving Brie the title shot with the emotion of her husband’s retirement behind her was the right call. Won’t miss seeing her in the ring if this is her last match. On to bigger and better things for Charlotte.
Rating: *¾. Brie Bella just isn’t a very good wrestler.
Chris Jericho vs. AJ Styles
Another example of me just not understanding WWE’s booking. Why have these guys fight twice on free TV before a pay-per-view match? AJ could have been beating people the last few weeks while Jericho was at ringside, Jericho makes the challenge and lays AJ out. Boom, pay-per-view match ready to go.
I’m so glad Jericho has turned heel. His current persona is not meant to be liked. I feel like the last time Jericho was a good babyface was 2001.
This match was sloppy. A lot of really intricate spots that didn’t really work. In most cases, it seemed like Jericho was a step slow. I don’t really mind sloppiness, but I do mind when guys are waiting around for a spot to happen. Sloppiness is realistic, waiting for your opponent to hit you isn’t.
And I wrote that before AJ almost died on that Frankensteiner reversal.
This felt indulgent for Jericho. He gets to do all kinds of impressive shit (poorly) and then kick out of AJ’s finisher. Bad taste for me, especially coming after the old guys beat the Wyatt Family earlier.
Rating: **½. Disappointing. Just not into Jericho at this point.
Next up was “The Cutting Edge Peep Show” featuring Edge and Christian. The only real highlight here was Tony Chimmel showing up just to announced Edge as “THE RATED R SOOOOOOOPERSTAR!”
Wow, this ended up being bad. Weak jokes from Edge and Christian. New Day not being as funny as usual. League of Nations showing up. No real action or point to his. Everyone was hoping for Enzo & Cass here.
Goody, another filler segment. Did we really have to cut Alberto vs. Kalisto for this? Wait, we’re having a match?
R-Truth vs. Curtis Axel
This pay-per-view has gone off a cliff in the last hour. I could talk about this match, but would you really read it?
Rating: ¼*. This would have been a filler match on Superstars.
Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns vs. Dean Ambrose
It seems emblematic to me that this match build has focused almost entirely on Brock vs. Ambrose even though Reigns is almost certainly going to win and main event Wrestlemania. And I’m not really complaining, because Roman wouldn’t have improved things by being there.
I could do a whole thing on Roman Reigns. But it wouldn’t be anything you haven’t already heard. I just don’t see the urgency of him being on top. He doesn’t have the whole crowd behind him. It’s okay, but there’s no reason for him to main event Wrestlemania when that’s the case. Ambrose is way, way more over than Reigns. It’s an indisputable fact. And yet, unless they pull a swerve Roman is going to Wrestlemania again.
Brock is starting to feel like just another guy. His appearances just haven’t been impactful lately. His last few matches: lost the WWE Championship at Wrestlemania, No Contest against Rollins, screwy loss to Taker at Summerslam, win over Taker at HIAC, thrown out of the Rumble. Sure, he hasn’t been pinned or tapped. But it’s a muddled bunch of decisions in there. I wish he’d never lost the title.
Then the match starts and my complaints vanish, because Brock is absolutely in Beast Mode here. He’s just tossing Reigns and Ambrose around like children. It takes the combined force of Reigns and Ambrose, and cheating, to get Lesnar down. They put him through two tables, bury him under the remains of the tables…and he still comes back and manages to German Suplex both of them at the same time.
Ambrose dishes out some chair shots with stank on them…to both guys! And then Reigns hits the Spear and it ends really suddenly.
Rating: ***¾. It was great, but ended super abruptly. One second Reigns is getting smashed with a chair, next he’s pinning Ambrose. Everything else was awesome though.
Post-match staredown with Triple H. Would have preferred they actually fight here, at least that would have gotten the crowd going.
Overall: I feel like I have the same reaction to every WWE pay-per-view. The wrestlers are good and they have good to great matches. But there’s always just something off with the booking and presentation that holds the show back. A lukewarm babyface on top definitely doesn’t help. It’s looking like a rocky ride to Wrestlemania. I’ll temper my expectations.