Monday, October 31, 2016
Man, these kickoff shows can really be a drag right? Even with the lovely Renee Young working the Raw pre-shows. Anyway, the match itself on the pre-show was pretty good. Contracted guy Cedric Alexander, Lince Dorado and Sin Cara defeated non-contracted fellows Tony Nese, Drew Gulak and Ariya Daivari. It was a fun six man sprint that saw Alexander pick up the win with the Lumbar Check at 9:42. Like most cruiserweight matches though, it didn’t seem to matter or have much reason for people to care. Just an enjoyable few minutes of wrestling.
When people talk about Hell in a Cell matches not being anything special anymore, this could be the match they point to. This was really just two guys having a No DQ match where the cell just happened to be around. The fight half of this was largely uninteresting. Things picked up a bit as the match progressed, but it never got that good. Both guys used the kendo stick a fair amount of times. Rusev mostly beat up Reigns though so we got the Reigns superman comeback. He powered out of the Accolade, including once with a steel chain wrapped around him and won with a Spear while Rusev was on the steps. Ho-hum. It went too long, Rusev looked like a monster for a bit and then came off weak. Not at all on the level of Reigns/Wyatt last year.
Dana Brooke was on the road to becoming a pretty solid competitor in NXT. Her team with Emma was working wonders and I thought there was potential there. Then she got called up too fast, Emma got hurt and she got saddled with Charlotte in a combination that has never clicked. This rivalry has featured some pretty bad matches and this was sadly probably their best, but still not good. Dana worked the arm, but Bayley decided not to really sell it and won with the Bayley to Belly. A really lackluster outing.
Enzo and Cass were great on the mic before the bell as always. Those dudes, especially Enzo, just have a lot of charisma. This was a decent match that was missing something. I think the issue was that while the crowd loves Enzo and Cass, they stay quiet for parts of their matches. They didn’t seem to care about the heat segment on Enzo and maybe part of it is because Anderson and Gallows have been booked like total shit, so nobody takes them seriously. Once Cass got the hot tag, the fans woke up a bit. It didn’t mean much though since once Enzo became legal again, he fell to the Magic Killer. A really generic tag with little heat.
The match between these two at Clash of Champions was a massive disappointment. This was much better. They wrestled like they wanted to steal the show and the match was heading down that road. Then Chris Jericho got involved. Don’t get me wrong, Jericho has been the highlight of the feud but it was too much here. Other than the SummerSlam match between Jericho and Rollins, every Universal Title match has been marred by overbooking and interference. I would have liked something different here. Owens took an insane bump where Seth powerbombed him through two tables, one of which was wedged at an angle between the cell and the ring. Jericho broke that pin up and Seth still pulled his best Roman Reigns impersonation by kicking his ass anyway. In the end, the 2 on 1 disadvantage was too much and Owens powerbombed him onto two open chairs to retain. It was a spectacle of a cell match, which was good. I would have liked to see Owens be handled better here but this was still the MOTN up to this point by far.
This was on pace to be the best match of their series thus far. Their chemistry gelled better here than in previous matches but the crowd was dead after the cell match. It came down to the story in the end. Kendrick has wanted Perkins to throw the match and let him win. Kendrick started to sell a knee injury. The official checked on him but Perkins and commentary both couldn’t even take a guess that he was faking. Perkins played stupid babyface, checked on him, got headbutted and then tapped out to the captain’s hook. I know face characters are dumb but goodness. The fans never bought the finish, TJ looked dumb and this had a weak atmosphere.
I was surprised to see Kofi Kingston sit this out, while Xavier Woods got the ring time. I wasn’t upset about it though since I like Woods. Their match on Raw was really fun but this one never quite reached that level. It was still pretty good and I totally bought into a false finish near the end, despite the fact that I never thought New Day’s reign would end here. Cesaro had Woods locked in the sharpshooter and Woods is the guy who lost in their first title reign. Woods held on while Sheamus went at it with Big E. Kofi laid him out though and the referee called for the DQ at the same time that Woods tapped out. I get the idea behind it, since it extends the New Day reign, while also setting up a rematch, but it just felt kind of flat.
As the cell was being lowered, Charlotte attacked Sasha and they fought outside. Charlotte powerbombed Sasha through the announce table and they overdid the whole “CAN SASHA CONTINUE?” angle. It took a long time, Sasha’s stretcher job was over the top and Charlotte yelling things during it made me mute my TV. Sasha got up eventually and the match officially began. Once it did, it was among the most brutal women’s matches in history. Chairs and tables were brought into play. Sasha had the spot of the match with a Spider-Man like springboard off the cell Meteora. I felt scared for Sasha several times throughout though as she seems hell bent on breaking her neck on some spots. The best decision here would have been Sasha winning in her hometown but instead, Charlotte brutalized her and won after throwing her into a table several times and hitting Natural Selection. Not only was the decision bad, but the finish felt anti-climactic after everything they had done to each other. Add in that this now means the feud must continue when it was already dragging ass and this was just a really sour way to end things. I liked Sasha’s back injury causing her to fail on the powerbomb which led to her defeat though. Anyway, the only things that kept this from being truly great were the finish, result and the overdone angle beforehand. Other than that, this ruled and the women showed that they were worthy of a main event spot.
Overall: There was some good on this show, some bad and a whole lot of mediocre. Okay, the only bad thing was Bayley/Dana but two of the three cell matches were really good in Owens/Rollins and Charlotte/Sasha. The rest of the show was very middle of the pack. A disappointing US Title cell, Tag Title match and Cruiserweight Title match, along with a ho-hum Enzo & Cass tag match rounded out the show. It continued to suffer from the issues that Raw suffers from. It went too long (I don’t believe the Smackdown PPVs have gone over three hours) and had several questionable booking decisions.