Monday, August 21, 2017

Random Match Review: 8/21/17

NWA World Tag Team Title Tournament: The Miracle Violence Connection vs. The Steiner Brothers – Clash of the Champions XIX 6/16/92; McAlister Field House

Looking to re-establish their relationship with the NWA, WCW hosted an NWA World Tag Team Title Tournament. The opening stuff went down on this edition of the Clash of the Champions. Earlier in the night, the Miracle Violence Connection, Steve Williams and Terry Gordy, defeated Jeff and Larry O’Dea. The Steiner Brothers beat Miguel Perez Jr. and Ricky Santana via forfeit, which got them to the second round here.

I’ve seen these teams wrestle once. At Beach Blast, four days after this, they wrestled to a thirty minute draw. Rick started the match for his team and commentary instantly noted that was unusual for the Steiners. Little things like that being noticed by commentary adds so much. It really made this feel like a strategic head game, rather than Rick just wanting to start. Some of the early stuff felt clunky, but they made it work. For example, Scott had trouble bridging up with Gordy on him and instead of feeling like a botch, it was more like we saw how not even Scott’s strength was enough against these opponents.

Once things picked up, this became one of the manlier tag matches you’ll find. Scott started throwing suplexes and the intensity revved up. Slaps, ground and pound and stiff shots were the name of the game from there on out. The fans woke up for that, popping for the big offense and biting on near falls. Rick got the hot tag of sorts, as we were treated to the old “referee didn’t see the tag” spot. Scott had his leg worked on, so when he got clipped late, it seemed like it might be the end but he survived a great gorilla press slam. Scott came back with an attempted belly to belly suplex, only to get clipped again. Williams landed on top of him and got the three at 15:01 to eliminate the tournament’s #1 seed.

Early on, this wasn’t really working for me. I just wanted to see them go at it, but the slow start left something to be desired. Once it got going, I was way into this. Rugged action that looked legitimate at times and felt different to a lot of what was going on at the time. The finish worked because it came as a shock and played into the leg work from earlier. I prefer their match from Beach Blast, but this was still great. [****]

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WWE SummerSlam Review

WWE SummerSlam 2017
August 20th, 2017 | Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York

Oh, boy. These six hour shows tend to be very middle of the pack.

Bo Dallas, Curtis Axel and WWE Intercontinental Champion The Miz w/ Maryse vs. The Hardy Boyz and Jason Jordan
This match just happened on Raw last week. It started around 5:30PM EST and the crowd was mostly still outside the arena. Not a good look. The Hardys returned at Mania in front of a massive crowd and were back to working in front of GFW/TNA levels of empty seats. Anyway, the match was similar to the one on Raw, but flowed better and didn’t go too long. That helped things out. Jeff took most of the heat for his team and Matt got the hot tag to several “DELETE” chants. Jordan eventually got another hot tag of sorts, throwing Dallas and Axel around. The finish saw a barrage of moves from everyone until Jordan went for the Angle Slam. Miz had blind tagged in and planted Jordan with the Skull Crushing Finale at 10:33. It was a match. Wasn’t too bad, wasn’t too interesting either. Miz deserves better.[**]

WWE Cruiserweight Championship: Akira Tozawa [c] w/ Titus O’Neil vs. Neville
Neville brought out the all white gear tonight. There was a lot of back and forth stuff early on, but the crowd wasn’t very invested. Despite things playing out evenly early, it felt like Tozawa may have had Neville’s number. He locked in the Octopus Hold and got two near falls shortly after. Neville responded by going after the previously injured shoulder, though I’d have liked more focus on that throughout. Neville cut Tozawa off up top and ended up getting his knees up to block the senton that beat him on Raw. Neville followed with the Red Arrow to the back to regain the title in 11:44. Solid match, with some issues. A lackluster crowd hurt it and I wish there was better psychology related stuff earlier, though the finish was nice. I don’t get the point of doing the title switch for no real reason. [***]

WWE Smackdown Tag Team Championship: The New Day [c] w/ Kofi Kingston vs. The Usos
The Kickoff MAIN EVENT! These teams tore the house down last month, though we got Big E instead of Kofi Kingston this time. The most important thing to note, was that Xavier Woods was still involved. He came out looking like a star. He played a great face in peril and the Usos were great at cutting off the hot tag. Big E got to run wild once he got it, which was when the action and pace picked up. The Usos busted out some new offense, including an incredible spot where they did the Alley-Uce from in the ring to the outside. I’ve never seen anyone do that. New Day came close to winning, but the pin was broken up. I completely bought into it. The same could be said for a splash spot on Woods at one point. Big E had a tope suicida cut off with a superkick, before being taken out with a splash. Woods ate another splash for another title switch in 19:12. Slightly below their Battleground match, but still something great. This was the first thing the crowd got excited for, the chemistry between the teams was off the charts and we even got a bit of history. The Usos joined Edge & Christian, the Dudley Boyz, the Hardy Boyz and the New Age Outlaws as the only teams to win four Tag Team Titles. [****¼]

The main card began here.

Baron Corbin vs. John Cena
Seeing John Cena open a show is strange. He was in a playful mood, going to commentary to say that Corbin was “shook.” About a week ago, Corbin looked to be in line for something big. He had a marquee match with Cena and the Money in the Bank briefcase. He lost his cash-in and looked weak here. At no point did he look like a legitimate threat. I think Corbin’s at his best against smaller opponents who bump well for him (Zayn, Kalisto), which isn’t Cena’s style. Most of Cena’s recent run has been very basic, paint-by-numbers stuff and this was no different. Cena won via Attitude Adjustment in 10:11. It wasn’t bad, it just felt like something that I’d see on a house show or TV. It didn’t belong on Pay-Per-View at all. Corbin had a horrible week, while Cena moves on to Raw most likely. [**¼]

WWE Smackdown Women’s Championship: Naomi [c] vs. Natalya
It was almost impossible to get interested in this one. Two bland women in a big time title match. That was clear from the crowd response, as they basically sat on their hands for this entire match. To be fair, they tried their hardest. Natalya brought good offense and Naomi bumped around quite well. I thought Natalya was a solid bully and she didn’t throw in too much of her awkward character work that tends to drag her matches down. I liked the tease of Carmella watching from the back, teasing her cash-in. Naomi fired up and rallied, but in surprising fashion, it wasn’t enough. Natalya slapped on her second Sharpshooter and Naomi had no choice but to tap out after 10:50. Natalya as champion sounds painful, but this was better than expected. Good effort, though the crowd didn’t care about any of it. No Carmella cash-in was disappointing. [**¾]

Big Cass vs. Big Show
Enzo Amore was suspended in a shark cage above the ring. It was nowhere near as high as Paul Ellering or Chris Jericho in recent months. Anyway, this was pitiful. Whoever thought giving Show and Cass s10:27 is a moron. It was so boring. Show sold his hand a bunch and Cass’ offense was dreadful. Enzo put the spotlight on himself with his antics in the cage, before lubing himself up, stripping to his boxers and escaping the cage. It all led to an instant big boot. So again, Enzo looked like a complete loser. Cass hit two big boots and the Empire Elbow to mercifully end this. Up there with Rusev/Cena and the House of Horrors for worst WWE PPV match this year. [DUD]

Randy Orton vs. Rusev
Fuck this. Rusev jumped Orton before the match to give himself an advantage. As soon as the bell rang, Orton hit the RKO and won in 0:09. Randy’s stunk up the joint for most of 2017 and took losses on four straight PPVs, so I knew he’d win here, but seriously? Honest question coming up. Other than the 1.3 billion people in India, why isn’t Rusev in Jinder’s spot? Not making a knock on Jinder, but Rusev is great in the ring and super charismatic. He deserves better than this shit. [NR]

WWE Raw Women’s Championship: Alexa Bliss [c] vs. Sasha Banks
Sasha came out with a peacock like headdress. The good thing about these two is that their reported legitimate beef has led to some stiff shots in their matches. This was no different. I thought the opening minutes of this delivered in spades. Unfortunately, it seemed to drag on in the back half. Alexa worked the arm and it wasn’t all that interesting at that point. Sasha made a comeback and won with the Bank Statement in 13:17, but that finish felt very anti-climactic. It felt like they realized the finish was coming up and had to rush it after taking a while with most of the back half stuff. Like I said, I thought the opening stretch was great, but we got half a strong match here. I’m also not sure about putting the title on Sasha here. [**½]

Bray Wyatt vs. Finn Balor
I watched this show with my girlfriend, who was mainly waiting for Finn. His “Demon” paint was cool and I liked that it felt like he was a different person from the guy who lost to Bray on Monday. Too often, the “Demon” wrestles just like Finn. There needs to be something to set him apart. They did some good mind games like moments, including one where they had a cool staredown. Finn was more aggressive than usual here and had to escape Sister Abigail more than a few times. In the end, Bray attempted his spider walk thing, but Finn just got up and was having none of it. That took Bray aback and Finn finished him with a flurry capped by the Coup de Grace in 10:41. Not a match many will probably remember, though I thought it was solid and the best thing on the main show thus far. I got a kick out of seeing the paint for the first time in a year and Finn got a much-needed win. Plus, it was the first good Bray singles match on PPV this year. [***]

WWE Raw Tag Team Championship: Cesaro and Sheamus [c] vs. Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins
The mini-Shield reunion has been fun and has potential to be a highlight of the rest of 2017. Dean and Seth have been lost in the shuffle of the singles scene on Raw and could be a kick in the ass for the tag division. Take note, NJPW. The crowd was into this, but really got going when Cesaro hopped into the stands and popped a beach ball some bored fans were playing with. This was not the match to pull something like that, as it was a lot of fun. There were great tandem moments from both teams, awesome spots and close near falls. Cesaro and Sheamus are a great team that I think get very underrated. The end saw Seth super rana Cesaro into Sheamus and Dean, causing a huge car wreck like scene. Seth then hit superkicks and his Rainmaker V-Trigger spot, before Dean got the win with Dirty Deeds in 18:34. Awesome match. Lots of action, a match that moved along briskly and had a hot crowd. Once Cesaro popped the beach ball, this picked up and never stopped. I’m all for a big rematch at the next Raw PPV. The Tag Title matches shined tonight. [****]

WWE United States Championship: AJ Styles [c] vs. Kevin Owens
Shane McMahon was the special guest referee. These two have had good matches, marred by cheap finishes and shenanigans. This followed that trope. The action was mostly good, as these are two of the best in the world (with AJ being THE best), even though a few moves weren’t as crisp as they should’ve been. My main gripe was the focus on Shane. I totally understand that this was all to set up Owens/Shane, but they beat us over the head with the idea that Shane is the one ref who could take a hit. He got hit over and over again. There was a funny moment where Owens got upset at him, shouting, “YOU CAN FALL OFF BUILDINGS BUT YOU CAN’T GET UP TO MAKE A COUNT?” AJ eventually won with the Phenomenal Forearm in 17:23. They told a great story, but some parts were wacky and didn’t hit the way they needed to for this to be truly great. [***¾]

WWE Championship: Jinder Mahal [c] w/ The Singh Brothers vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
Nakamura got his violinist for his entrance. My feelings about Mahal were magnified in this match. He hit on the heel mannerisms and looked the part, but a lot of the in-ring stuff missed the mark. This started fine, with a fair amount of action and Nakamura being his charismatic self. It quickly slowed down as Jinder took over on offense. That segment was mostly dull. Nakamura attempted to make his comeback, only for the Singh Brothers to get involved. Stop me if you’ve heard this before. Nakamura fought them off and then fell to a weak looking Khallas in 11:25. I may have been too nice with this score, but there was potential for a good match in there. It got ruined by a dull middle and the overdone, already boring Jinder match finish. Also, it was an odd way for Nakamura to lose. He just beat John Cena clean and survived an AA, but lost in relatively easy fashion here. Strange. [**¾]

WWE Universal Championship: Brock Lesnar [c] w/ Paul Heyman vs. Braun Strowman vs. Roman Reigns vs. Samoa Joe
Ah, now this is more I like it. A major title match that felt like a big deal and delivered like one. I wanted a war and that’s exactly what I got. This was magnificently chaotic. Braun came out looking like the biggest star in the world. He owned Lesnar, putting him through two tables and dropping a third on top of him. Brock did the stretcher job to avoid doing too much work. Braun also launched the announcer’s chair again, because he’s awesome. Reigns got booed every time he did something, while Joe was kind of just there. Not that he was bad, but he didn’t play a major role and I wish he did. Although, he did come close a few times with the Coquina Clutch. Brock made his return and went right at Braun. It was incredible to see Brock sell so much for a non-part timer. We had several broken tables, a broken guardrail, chairs and four beefy dudes beating the shit out of each other. What more could I ask for? The multi-man match doesn’t always work, but WWE got it right this time around. Brock retained after hitting Reigns with an F5 at 20:52, to end a fantastic match. This was one of the best SummerSlam main events ever. I gave the same score to the closing matches in 1992, 2009 and 2013, but that’s about it. [****½]

Overall: 6/10. As is the case with a lot of these six hour affairs, this was a mixed bag. When the show hit, it was rad. When it missed, it struck out by a mile. There were three standout matches. The two Tag Team Title matches were absolutely must-see and the Universal Title match was an incredible spectacle. Go out of your way to see them. I thought AJ/Owens was very good, while Bray/Finn and the Cruiserweight Title were solid. The rest of the show could be skipped for the most part. The Women’s Title matches were alright. The WWE Title match was lackluster and Corbin/Cena felt like something I’d see on a house show. Rusev/Orton and Cass/Show were absolute travesties.