WWE might be getting back on track. The post-Wrestlemania period has been more positive than negative, which is the first time in awhile I’ve been able to say that. There are still issues, their booking still confuses me at times. But with a roster full of new wrestlers and the coming returns of John Cena, Seth Rollins, Randy Orton, and Bray Wyatt, we could be in for a big summer.
Please free Mauro from the pre-show. He’s the best announcer WWE has by a wide margin. He should be the voice of the company. The Corbin/Ziggler match wasn’t anything special. Happy to see Corbin get a definitive victory. Not sure why he couldn’t just have beaten Ziggler last month.
The Usos vs. The Club
The fact that WWE didn’t bother to come up with a name better than “The Club” for Styles, Gallows, and Anderson suggests pretty strongly to me that it’s a temporary arrangement. I don’t feel like WWE has given Anderson and Gallows the push that they should in their first month on the roster. To me, these guys should be a getting a Road Warriors-style push. Instead, they’ve basically been 50/50 with the Usos. It sends the signal that they’re no better than a midcard tag team, and I don’t think that’s what they want these guys to be.
Yeah, The Usos are officially heels. Shows how toxic Reigns is. Good thing they’re keeping Ambrose away from him.
They’re brawling before the bell in the aisle, which is a good way to get this started. Fast pace here, Usos are flying all around. Anderson and Gallows dishing out some quality punishment, but I already feel like this match is going on for too long. Anderson and Gallows get the win in a solid opening match.
Rating: **. Good physical opening match. More dominant performances from Anderson and Gallows, please?
United States Championship: Kalisto (c) vs. Rusev
WWE booking in a nutshell: Rusev lost to Sin Cara via distraction roll-up a few weeks ago, Kalisto lost to Alberto on Monday because he was distracted. And now they’re fighting for a title and we’re supposed to care for some reason.
Prediction: Rusev kills Kalisto here to set himself up to lose the U.S. Title to John Cena. Quite possibly during Cena’s return on Memorial Day.
Anybody remember when Lana was one of the most over performers in the company? That feels like forever ago, but it was only last year.
Rusev dominated with his power. He works a slow pace, seemingly to deliberately get heat from the crowd as it was started to cheer him. He locks on an actual good Bearhug where gets Kalisto on the mat so he can’t punch him. Kalisto makes a comeback where he utilizes his speed in a way that doesn’t seem ridiculous.
Beautiful Moonsault to the floor by Kalisto. Makes that look effortless. Kalisto gets slammed on the apron, which looks like it would hurt. Rusev applies The Accolade and this one is over.
Rating: **¼. Good work for a relatively short match. They played the David/Goliath roles well, both guys came out looking good. Hopefully this is the first step toward rebuilding Rusev into what he was last year.
The New Day vs. The Vaudevillians
The Vaudevillians don’t seem quite as dead in the water as they did a month ago, but I still don’t have high hopes for their future prospects. I think if they lean harder into being wrestling hipsters it might work, but there’s a lot of weirdness there that the average fan isn’t going to get. They’re not really great promos or fantastic in the ring, so they really do need a great gimmick and I don’t feel like they have it.
A lot of people seem a bit down on New Day in recent months, but I think they’re still doing great. They remain one of the most over acts in the company, I still find their stuff laugh out loud funny on a consistent basis.
Interesting that it’s Xavier wrestling tonight. Wonder if Kofi is dealing with an injury?
They almost immediately settle into Xavier taking the heat from both Vaudevillians. It doesn’t last long before Big E dishes out a spicy hot tag. I find myself filled with dread every time Big E lines up that big Spear off the apron, it just looks ridiculously unsafe. Xavier kicking out of the Vaudevillian’s finish is a bit odd.
New Day get a cheap win. I like that they continue to cheat even though they’re faces. Not all faces need to be good guys.
Rating: **. Nothing too special, they didn’t get a ton of time. Curious to see who New Day’s next challengers are.
Fatal Fourway for Intercontinental Championship: The Miz (c) vs. Kevin Owens vs. Cesaro vs. Sami Zayn
These are four of the best performers on the roster right now. Their matches last month at Payback were excellent, and this should be more of the same.
Kevin Owens is a national treasure.
I’m tired of the Tower of Doom spot, but the super duper version of it was a novelty. Cesaro then uppercuts everyone but Maryse. The pace here is crazy. Owens is just a freak of nature to have such strong lungs at his weight.
Cesaro does things that defy physics in the ring. That Springboard Spinning Uppercut doesn’t seem like something he should be able to land, but he usually hits it perfectly.
Seems like Cesaro should know not to break that Sharpshooter until he hears the bell after last month.
This is a spotfest, but it works logically because there are four guys in there and you can have two of them down and out for a few minutes after taking a big move. Well-constructed near falls here, especially the Skull Crushing Finale and the Pop Up Powerbomb. And then maybe the Helluva Kick was one too many? Crowd didn’t really pop for that one.
But then fires up and kicks the shit out of Owens. Meanwhile, Miz sneaks in to steal a pin. Delightful. Miz’s great chickenshit reign rolls on.
Rating: ****. One of the best WWE matches of the year so far. These guys worked their asses off. Fantastic pace, beautifully put together. Love Miz retaining. Cesaro should chase him all the way to Summerslam before he finally wins it. Or are they building towards Zayn winning it?
Asylum Match: Dean Ambrose vs. Chris Jericho
This feud has been undermined by the writing. Jericho smashing the plant on Ambrose’s head should have been a big serious angle. Instead the announcers yucked over it. I thought Jericho’s ensuing promo was quite good with him explaining that it wasn’t a joke to smash a vase on someone’s head. This Asylum is supposed to be serious and scary, but the cheesy lighting and sound effects they used during Ambrose’s promo on Monday made it hard to take seriously. As does the presence of the mop and the potted plant among the weapons in the cage.
The normal cage lowering music builds drama. The cheap horror movie music they used here made me roll my eyes.
Tough spot for these guys. Go on right after a great match, with a silly gimmick, and a cage match where they can’t bleed.
Ambrose gets the first extreme weapon: A mop. Of course, it would actually hurt to get hit with a mop. But it comes off silly as a wrestling weapon. Why not a pipe or a nightstick instead? Ambrose face washes Jericho with the mop. These guys are supposed to hate each other.
Dean Ambrose knows how to use nunchucks. A big twist. Crowd is bored and I can’t blame them, this match isn’t working. Jericho seems to have forgotten about the barbed wire 2×4.
The pace here is glacial and the big spots aren’t making up for it.
However long this match has lasted has been too long.
I half feel sorry for these guys for being put in this stupid match, but I don’t think they way they’ve put it together has helped things. No intensity, no hatred, no physicality.
Ambrose hits a decent Elbow Drop from the top of the cage that should end the match but doesn’t.
Thumbtacks. This really has become an Abyss match.
This has been going on forever. It reminds me of the Shane/Taker match from Wrestlemania.
Credit to Jericho for taking that bump onto the thumbtacks. Hard to imagine that doesn’t hurt. And mercifully this match ends after what feels like an eternity.
Rating: Dud. That just sucked. Horrible idea for a match, put together poorly, went on forever.
Submission Match for Women’s Championship: Charlotte (c) vs. Natalya
Charlotte has evolved into one of the best heels on the roster. I think she’s outgrown having her father manage her and it wouldn’t surprise me if this match was the end of their association. Natalya has really made strides in the ring in her own right, going from overrated to probably underrated. I have high hopes and expectations for this match.
Seems like that last match sucked the life out of the crowd and this match isn’t doing a ton to bring them back.
Distraction finish makes its epic pay-per-view debut. Big disappointment of a match.
Rating: *. Never got out of first gear. Should be the end of this feud as they’ll branch off into Natalya vs. Dana Brooke. Paige the next challenger for Charlotte?
Extreme Rules Match for WWE World Heavyweight Championship: Roman Reigns (c) vs. AJ Styles
This program has been a highlight of the last month. They’ve done a good job building this sequentially, having it get more and more personal every week.
I didn’t mind one JBL reference to Reigns being polarizing, but I really don’t need to hear it every single time he comes out.
Styles might be tiny, but he seems legit when he’s beating down Reigns. Reminds me of that great cage match he had with Abyss back in TNA.
Big Back Body drop through the announce table and AJ takes the bump right on his ass. Hilarious “You Still Suck” chant from the crowd in response. Reigns busts out a variation of the Razor’s Edge and sits down into a pin. That had some stank on it.
Reigns is like King Kong throwing Styles all around ringside. That Powerbomb onto the announce table was sick. I cringed when Reigns hit the Superman Punch on Styles when he was on the top rope. Really dangerous spot.
AJ is getting his ass handed to him when his guys show up to bail him out. Makes him look like either a heel or a punk. Reigns kicks out of two Styles Clashes, including one on a chair. Maybe he could kick out of a shotgun blast next?
Bad ass Spear by Reigns for the win.
Rating: ****¼. That was excellent. Messy interference, but these guys just beat the shit out of each other. Styles takes a second straight loss, but I think he comes out of this fine after pushing Reigns to the absolute limit.
AND SETH IS BACK! In his wrestling gear because he doesn’t own any real clothes, apparently. Well, there’s your hook for tomorrow night.
Overall: A pretty damn good show. The only things that didn’t deliver were the Asylum Match and the Women’s Title. Excellent main event, loved the Fatal Fourway, undercard matches were all solid. Hot angle at the end with Seth’s return. With John Cena, Randy Orton, and Bray Wyatt all due back things might be on the verge of heating up this summer for WWE.