Monday, October 10, 2016
This show has some shuffling around. Baron Corbin vs. Jack Swagger was moved from the pre-show to the main card, most likely to fill time after Becky Lynch’s injury. The Kickoff show had an eight man tag that saw American Alpha and the Hype Bros take on the Ascension and the Vaudevillains. It was a pretty fun match. Mojo Rawley was insane self and American Alpha got to run wild a bit. After 9:09, AA got the win for their team with Grand Amplitude.
In a moment that has only happened about three other times, the WWE Championship match opened the Pay-Per-View (though it was the first time that happened and a World Title didn’t close the show). This had a big fight feel and worked better than a lot of triple threat matches. It wasn’t one of those where two guys wrestled, while one rested outside. That did happen a few times, but for the most part, all three men were involved and it led to some excellent sequences. They did a spot where Dean used the calf crusher and Cena did the STF at the same time on AJ, who tapped out. The bell rang but the referee rightly restarted things because you can’t win a triple threat match that way. AJ wisely brought a chair into play after Cena hit the AA on Ambrose. He laid out Cena with it and retained the title. I really liked this. Dean and Cena could claim they really won since AJ tapped, Dean got protected by not eating the pin, Cena did the job on the way out to film a TV show and AJ kept the title. I also love that AJ isn’t a cowardly heel. He only resorts to chair shots and low blows when he needs to.
I’ve liked this feud. Carmella came in as a face getting booed and watched as Nikki, who was a bitch for most of the past two years, returned and got all of the fan’s love. So Carmella just started beating Nikki’s ass. Speaking of Nikki’s ass, she came out wearing daisy dukes. It felt like a slight nod to John Cena’s attire. Anyway, I wanted more from this match but it was still solid. Carmella did alright in her first PPV singles match and Nikki gave her a lot of offense. Hell, Nikki has given her a ton throughout this program. Nikki won with the Rack Attack 2.0, which I expected since the babyface has to give the heel her due at some point. I also think that the company sees money in Nikki vs. Becky at some point for the title, so this is fine.
The Usos winning here was a foregone conclusion in my mind. I assumed they’d win and set up a program with American Alpha. However, this outcome worked for me. More on that in a bit. The match itself was good stuff. Heel Usos have been rejuvenated and it showed. They cut the ring in half, attacked a body part and it all came off well. They came close after hitting a double team move on Slater and locking in the tequila sunrise. Rhyno hit a Gore outside and broke up the submission before hitting another Gore and retaining the gold. I like the decision because Slater and Rhyno are massively over and connecting well as a team. It kind of hurt the Usos to lose, but keeping the title on a popular, entertaining duo isn’t a bad thing.
Man, this was disappointing. Swagger is usually pretty good and Corbin has been pretty entertaining for a while now. They worked the right style of match for their strengths, it just never clicked the way I hoped. Swagger did his stuff, like the Swagger Bomb, but the crowd didn’t seem to care much. They teased the ankle lock finish from Smackdown this past week but Corbin didn’t tap and eventually won with the End of Days. I think they need to go in a new direction with Swagger. Repackage him because doing the same thing over and over isn’t working. I hope they plans for Corbin outside of random midcard feuds too.
If people want to ask why Smackdown is doing so well, just point to this feud. They’ve made most people care about a Ziggler/Miz feud, to the point where this should have main evented the show. The crowd was way into this from the opening bell. They worked at a good pace but it wasn’t clicking quite on the level of their awesome Backlash match. Then the shenanigans started and in this situation, it actually helped the match. It wasn’t like it was done for the sake of it. It all made sense. Maryse sprayed Ziggler in the face and Miz hit the Skull Crushing Finale, but Ziggler got his foot on the ropes. Maryse brought out Kenny and Mikey of the Spirit Squad to help him out but Ziggler survived that as well and kicked out of another Skull Crushing Finale. The referee ejected them and Ziggler nailed the superkick to get the big emotional win. Another great performance by both men. While Backlash was better to me as a match, this one had the added story and emotional impact to give it a boost. Miz sold the loss like it was devastating, they hit all the right points from the rivalry and it just clicked by the end. I think the better move was to keep the title on the Miz, but it was a feel good moment and I’m intrigued by what comes next. The fact that this didn’t main event was a travesty.
Becky Lynch had to miss this show due to injury. Alexa Bliss will get her title shot on November 8th in Glasgow, Scotland, which is very specific. Anyway, Alexa came out to talk smack and was interrupted by Naomi, leading to this match. Against Becky, Alexa could have had the star making performance she needed. Unfortunately, Naomi is no Becky Lynch. It felt boring, seemed longer than five minutes and the fans didn’t really care. Bliss was alright, showing aggression and working the arm, only to lead to a fluke win for Naomi. Why? Alexa is the one getting pushed right now and even if they wanted to push Naomi, this isn’t how you do it. The fluke win did nothing for either girl. Just bad all around.
While part of the buildup for this has been goofy, at least it has been different and fresh from a lot of stuff. My biggest gripe with this match was that it was so basic. Like, these dudes have done some wild shit in recent weeks. The mind games have been everything in the feud so far so I think the match should have been out there. I’m not sure right now how I’d have done it, but they didn’t do anything interesting. It felt like two guys killing time until the big moment. That big moment was the return of Luke Harper, who distracted Orton enough to allow Bray to hit Sister Abigail and win. A lackluster match that really didn’t feel main event worthy at all. It looks like the feud will continue too.
Overall: I don’t think was quite as good as Backlash, but more enjoyable than SummerSlam and Clash of Champions in the post-draft era. The obvious strong points were the opening WWE Title match and the Intercontinental Title match. The first two-thirds of the show are actually really strong, including the kickoff eight man tag. However, once you get past the IC Title match, the last two matches strongly under deliver.