Monday, November 20, 2017
One positive thing came out of this match. We got to hear Elias sing about Houston. He’s great. Anyway, since the WWE insists on making their “big four” shows about six hours long, they threw two extra matches on the Kickoff show. Instead of opening the doors for fans earlier, they allowed this match to take place in front of near half empty arena. The match itself was basically exactly what you’d see on an episode of Raw. Elias won with the Drift Away in 9:12. Completely forgettable.
This rivalry has gone on way too long. Nothing against either guy, but they’ve only had one solid match against each other, and that was on Raw. In the highlight, Kalisto botched his entrance and got stuck on the top rope. It was hilarious. The match started fine, with Kalisto hitting a sweet Code Red. Then, the commercial break came and it kind of halted the momentum. The rest of the match was dull and the crowd didn’t care at all. Enzo won with a shit looking Eat Defeat in 8:24. Move on from this. Kalisto already beat him and dropped the title right back, so why should we care at this point? Low point of the night.
I saw a lot of people upset that this was a poor use of Owens and Zayn. Admittedly, I’d rather see them doing something more important. However, with Raw vs. Smackdown as the top angle right now, they’re kind of just killing time until the Shane feud reignites. Anyway, Breezango were a good choice here, because they remain very over. Tyler Breeze got isolated for most of the match. He made the hot tag to Fandango, which was solid, though probably not Fandango’s strongest trait. Owens planted him with a Popup Powerbomb for the finish at 8:31. Good tag team wrestling, with two over teams. Nothing special though, and about what you’d expect from a Kickoff Show.
Finally, onto the main card. I came with high hopes for this. It’s the two best stables in recent memory and New Day were coming off some insane matches against the Usos. The early portions were typical multi-man tag stuff. We got the guys pairing off, with the most interesting being Big E against Roman Reigns. It was great seeing Big E shrug off Roman’s power offense. New Day showed off stronger cohesive work, while Shield won a lot of the individual battles, which made sense given the strengths of the teams. There was an odd feel to parts of the match. At times, each team would kind of stand around awkwardly for a moment or so before setting up their next move. Other than that, the closing stretch was a lot of fun and led to some quality near falls. New Day’s double Midnight Hour was particularly cool. The Shield won with a super triple powerbomb at 21:30. A very good way to start the show, but I was hoping for something better. Maybe my expectations were too high.
Last year’s women’s match was one of the better ones. This went back in the opposite direction. First, they had Becky Lynch get eliminated first. Why? She’s the best female the company has. It would’ve been awesome if they teased or gave us a small taste of what Asuka vs. Becky would be like. Instead, they saved the big “showdown” moment for Nia Jax and Tamina. Yes, that Tamina. The one who has been awful since the day she was signed. This came after Bayley was eliminated by a Tamina splash. Losing to Tamina is a career-low for anyone. Nia got eliminated after a barrage of offense on the outside. Alicia got sent home with a shit rollup by Naomi, who then immediately tapped out to Sasha Banks. Asuka came to the rescue, beating Carmella. Sasha tapped to a Sharpshooter and Asuka’s alone. The problem, is that you’ve now got Asuka working someone the fans don’t care about. She made both Tamina and Nattie tap, winning for her team in a strange 18:25. The action wasn’t terrible, but the structure was confusing. There were so many better ways to do this. At least Asuka got to shine a bit.
Maryse was in the front row. Though Miz and Corbin never interacted on TV, the build was good thanks to Twitter. Anyway, this match suffered from some of the same stuff the last match did. It was strangely laid out. Thanks to Miz being more popular and Corbin’s remarks about Miz’s wife, the IC Champ was positioned as the babyface. That would’ve been fine, but Miz had two goons at ringside who continually cheated on his behalf. The near falls down the stretch were solid, before Corbin won with End of Days in 9:32. This happened. It had good points, though nothing made it stand out from your average TV match.
With the Revival on the shelf, the Bar and the Usos (along with New Day and the Shield) have kept tag team wrestling as a highlight of WWE this year. The Usos’ pre-match promo was great and they’ve excelled there for most of 2017. Like the Shield/New Day match, this didn’t get off to a fast start, but once it picked up, it was great down the stretch. Sounds like an NJPW match. Unfortunately, the odd Houston crowd who popped for Nia/Tamina, was kind of quiet for this. I get that both teams are heel, but so are Nia and Tamina, and the Usos have kind of worked tweener the past month. The crowd did wake up for the false finishes, though. In the end, the Usos did a cool spot where they tagged out during a plancha and the legal man hit the big splash for the win in 15:54. Great stuff that would’ve been helped by a stronger opening sequence. Lots of fun.
THE IRRESISTIBLE FORCE MEETS THE IMMOVABLE OBJECT! Two women who run roughshod over their competition. It figures that the one singles match with a heel/face dynamic features one of the worst faces in the company. Charlotte just doesn’t work in that fashion. Alexa was a great heel here, as always. She continues to nail all the needed mannerisms. Charlotte sold rather well in the early stages, but she’s way too inconsistent with it. She’d completely forget about it so she could hit her offense. Charlotte got her knees up on a Sparkle Splash and went right into the Figure Eight, because why sell your ribs? Alexa tapped at 15:43. There were good parts to this match, though it left a lot to be desired. Charlotte’s selling hurts so many of her matches for me.
Smackdown just took a 3-2 lead and there’s two matches left. Plus, Brock Lesnar’s in this one, so the outcome was clear. I came into this without too much excitement, because Brock singles matches usually underwhelm (see: Strowman, Ambrose, Rollins, etc.). However, Brock decided to put in effort tonight. In the early stages, Brock dominated AJ like he was John Cena at SummerSlam 2014. AJ bumped like a madman and made Brock’s already brutal offense like incredible. When AJ finally kicks into his comeback, it feels earned. And not just that, but it’s realistic. He didn’t just start going into his offense. He kept selling the damage and whatever he did came out of desperation. The crowd totally bit on a Phenomenal Forearm near fall. AJ went for a second, but was caught in the F5 for the finish in 15:19. When I first watched this, I thought the early portion was dull. Rewatching it the following morning, I liked it a lot more. It wasn’t exciting, but it built up a lot of sympathy for AJ and made his comeback better. They did horribly botch a tornado DDT spot. Other than that, this ruled. AJ’s most likely dropping the title this week, but the switch to him for this match was masterful
Last year’s Team Raw vs. Team Smackdown tag was unbelievably good. Top two or three ever. This didn’t live up to that. Looking at the people in the match, this looks like something only possible in a video game. Finn Balor looked incredibly small next to his team. Anyway, the start of this match was a lot of fun. We got some cool interactions, as you’d expect. Finn vs. Shin (seriously Cole, that’s a horrible nickname) was a blast, as was Triple H against his adopted Japanese son and HHH taking on his slightly younger self in Roode. Nakamura was the first man gone, at the hands of Braun, who then also got rid of Roode. With Team Raw winning, they decided to spend the next few minutes arguing. For no reason. Cena came in and treated Balor and Joe like cannon fodder. He eliminated Joe with an AA, before Angle pinned Cena with the Angle Slam. That left Orton and Shane against four guys. Why? Orton got tired of that new star Balor being around, so he ended him with an RKO. Then, Owens and Zayn showed up to attack Shane. Then, in one of the worst moments of the night, Super Shane fought them off BY HIMSELF and sent them scurrying to the back, with Orton also nailing an RKO on Owens. Braun then eliminated Orton. Shane was left alone and Braun wanted to kill him. Instead, HHH tagged himself in. Then Angle did the same, only for HHH to Pedigree him. He helped Shane pin him. BUT WHOSE SIDE IS HE ON? His own, as HHH dropped Shane with a Pedigree and took the win for himself at 33:19. What the hell happened to this match? It was fun at the start, but became kind of a disaster late. The only potential new star to do anything of real note was Braun. Every other elimination came from Cena, Orton, Angle and HHH. They shit on the closing stretch to further McMahon family drama. Not a good move. The more I think about this match, the less I like it, which is a shame because it started so well.
Post-match, Braun Strowman got in Triple H’s face and warned him to never do that again. Triple H sold the hell out of his fear. Then, he attacked Braun, only to get his ass handed to him. I can’t wait for Stephanie to emasculate Braun in retaliation.
Overall: Like a lot of these long “big four” shows, this was a middle of the pack show. It was slightly above average thanks to how awesome AJ/Brock was and the high quality outings between Usos/Bar and Shield/New Day. The two Survivor Series tags were hampered by poor booking. The kickoff stuff was mostly fine and the two main card singles matches were average.